"...I trusted in the Almighty… I knew I could only be killed once,
and I had to die sometime."
-Anne Bailey, 1823

Monday, October 11

Siege of Boonesborough

September 1778,

In June our friend Mr. Boone returned from his forced captivity at Chillicothe with dire warnings of a coming Shawnee attack. The men of his fort are of differing thoughts, some believe without hesitation whilst others question his integrity. Months have passed since his return to the fort and no attack has been made. The men of Boonesborough have made small raids against the Shawnee, but have been unable to find Blackfish or his warriors.

The season for war is surely upon us, we shall garrison with Mr. Boone and be well prepared should the Shawnee leader Blackfish appear from the forest to make good upon his threats.

Our journey was most uneventful, though there were signs of recent savage activities. Indeed the half faced shelter outside the fort fairly stank of their presence.

Further, a pair of odd items; a box of sorts and bit of white toweling with the marks of the hideous paint used by savages, had been inexplicably left. Once Mr. Mains and his small niece, Savannah Rae were ensconced within the meager walls of the shelter, my companions and I passed a lovely evening, even with stench and threat of nearby savages, both of red skin and red coat! Mr. MacGillie and Mr. Kell as well as Mr. and Mistress Selter, the dear Heasleys and Mistress Reasoner were amongst those with whom we enjoyed the evening. The slight misting rain which occasionally turned a bit harder was nothing when compared with past visits to Mr. Boone's fort.

Upon the new day the sun burned a mist from the fields outside the fort gates. Many friends had gathered and the time passed quickly as children played, couples strolled the grounds, and many cups of warm coffee were enjoyed with friends.

Suddenly, with no warning, savage beasts sprang from the trees, causing the children, women and even men to scatter across the grounds racing for all they were worth to the safety of the fort. Quickly the gates were secured and guards posted in every possible position. It was Blackfish and contingent of British allies! Strangely, a young man of colour called Pompi, was sent forth bearing a white flag. He hailed the fort crying "Sheltowee, your father would speak to you!"

Mr. Boone, recognizing the lad, stepped out of the safety of the fort and approached his former captors. Blackfish and Boone spoke closely for a time, Blackfish reminded Mr. Boone of his promise to surrender the fort if the women and children were carried safely to Detroit. Boone replied other men had become responsible for the safety of the fort and those housed within, and they did not make the promise to give up without a fight. The two spoke heatedly, and each returned to his people upon several occasions. Little did Blackfish know Daniel was stalling for time, believing troops were well on their way to lend aid in the defense of the fort.

Blackfish demanded of Boone "By what right had the white people taken possession of this country?" Boone presented evidence to Blackfish the Cherokee people had sold him the land at Sycamore Shoals, and Blackfish's own ally from the Cherokee people verified this. Again the two departed company, only to return to talks with their people. Colonel Callaway, whose own daughters had been captured with Jemima Boone just two years ago, was most severely at odds with Mr. Boone. It was an intense time, both inside and outside the fort walls.

Guards remained posted in all positions even a few women wearing men's hunting shirts were stationed upon the roofs, giving the Shawnee the impression there were many far beyond the nearly forty souls garrisoned within the walls.
Blackfish and Boone once more returned to their negotiations, coming to the agreement the Shawnee would remain fast to the Ohio River Boundary if Boone and his men swore allegiance to the King. The treaties were made and upon the request of Blackfish a "long shake" was initiated, this entailed two indians shaking the hands of each white man. Fearing something may be afoot Mr. Boone had given the men warning that should he toss his hat, the guards would commence shooting whatever target their eye may fall upon. Surely a clearer premonition was never made, for once each man was taken in hand by two indians a commotion broke out and a bloody battle ensued.
The men fought bravely as the yellow dogs bit, kicked and used anything at hand, including a stump with which to beat down our men. Fires were set, and even a tunnel was commenced to being dug, but still we held them back.

The battle raged on for eleven long days. We witnessed the capture of one woman who, with a party of others had passed the rear flank of the savages. Sadly, her bravery was her undoing, as she was cut down and captured by a contingent of savages and damnable Britts. The savagery of these white men are oft overlooked, yet we saw with our own eyes, this woman savagely beaten, tied and carried toward a burning pole. Hope struck momentarily as she broke free of her bonds and nearly escaped, only to be caught up again and threatened to be tied with the length of rope she carried upon her belt. Amazingly the woman lifted the length of rope with quick slight of hand and dashed it into the fire, the fight continued, until she was swept off her feet and dealt a final blow with a belt ax. The man who had landed the blow went so far as to claim her blond scalp lifting a sizable portion, which was passed amongst the savages as if a token of their strength. Though hideously murdered, we had only one thought, she had fought so hard she had forced them to kill her upon the field rather than be taken alive back to their camps for ungodly tortures or burning upon the post.

Long did the fires burn, but as it was God's will a mighty storm came upon us and damped out the fire and the will of the savages to fight. Triumphant, the dawn did come and much rejoicing was had by all.

The coolness of the morning was warmed by strong coffee, good company and the Word given to us by Parson John. We departed sadly from the company of our dearest friends. The memory of their warmth, the laughter amongst us and thoughts of those who were no longer with us haunted the long journey home.

Our return to our little cabin brought a bit of good tidings, for a package had been delivered upon our doorstep whilst we were out. Indeed, a small package bearing a lovely gift was just the very thing to raise us from our sour spirits, as we had been mulling over thoughts of friends, and loved ones. The brightness of color, the perfection of it's stitching and every detail brought such cheer to our hearts! A fine pocketbook was enclosed within the tiny package.

Yes, a pocketbook made by the hands of our dear friend Amanda Webster, mother of the darling baby Grace, whom we remember most fondly from our visit to Mr. Martin's Station.

Once more our thoughts turn to friends and though our spirit is much brightened with fond memories, we long too for others to know we wish them well, whatever distances and time separate us.

Much thanks and image credits to Doc Muzzy and his Cannon.
Also, Mr. VonDieligen whose images were first seen by frontier folk. And finally Mr. Selter, who made them available first in the book of faces, and whose fine art may be enjoyed by many interested in the 18th Century.

1 comment:

  1. Another interesting post, thank you.