Emerson Bennett.

Forest and prairie, or, Life on the frontier online

. (page 6 of 22)
Online LibraryEmerson BennettForest and prairie, or, Life on the frontier → online text (page 6 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

for a few moments, and then poured it down her throat as
if it were so much water. She then turned her attention
once more to the fire, but had not watched it many
minutes, when she suddenly burst into a loud, hoarse laugh,
and exclaimed :

" Cap'n Bolder says if there's Injuns about, he ought to
know it. Why, there's Injuns about somewhere most
always, as Mad Ann knows to her cost ; but there's been a
few mean, sneaking devils right nigh, as you can all tell
from these here;" and thrusting her hand into the bosom

MAD ANN. 109

of her hunting-frock, she drew forth, and displayed trium-
phantly to the astonished gaze of those around her, two
Indian scalps, from which the fresh blood was yet dripping.

"Ha ! ha ! ha !" laughed Mad Ann ; "did you ever see
a cleverer sight than two such topknots, took by a woman's
hand ? Beat that if you can, you big, robust, blustering
male fellows, who call yourselves the lords of creation !
Do more'n that, and show it, any one of you, and I'll
eyther beat you ag'in or stand treat. But it's your treat
now, my masters, and so fetch on the whiskey."

Another drink, nearly equal to the first in quantity, put
Mad Ann in a good humour and communicative mood;
and bidding the anxious and excited parties around her
get seats and listen, she waited till all had complied, and
then began and told her story in her own peculiar way.

"You see, Cap'n Bolder," she commenced, addressing
individually the commander of the station, " I left here to
go to Point Pleasant, to carry a message from you to the
Cap'n there, somewhere about the last of August, or the
first of September, and a right dreary time I had ou't."

"And what news do you fetch from thar ?" inquired the
commander, thinking there might be something important
for him to know.

" See here ! am I telling this story, or you ?" inquired
Mad Ann, deliberately folding her arms and looking

steadily at the other.


110 MAD ANX.

"You, in course."

" Then," rejoined Mad Ann, with another wicked oath,
"just s'pose you keep quiet and listen."

She then proceeded, in a kind of wild, rambling, inco-
herent manner, to give an outline sketch of her long
journey out and back what she had seen, what she had
heard, what she had felt, and what she had suffered while
her listeners, eager for the sequel, were obliged to wait,
with what patience they could, till she came to it in her
own time and way.

But once she had fairly launched herself upon the inci-
dent of deepest interest, her whole appearance and manner
changed, and she drew the closing picture with that graphic
power for which she was at times remarkable.

" It was about five miles back from here," she said "just
as dark was setting in, that I first got warning of danger.
I always have warning when there's danger about not
from man not always from beast not from winds, and
trees, and earth things I can hear, and feel, and see
but "

She stopped, looked around mysteriously, and then,
lowering her voice, added, with a strange impressiveness
that caused more than one of the superstitious listeners to
shudder :

" From the Vother world.

" Yes," she resumed, "something whispered me, 'There's


danger about ;' and I whispered it into the ear of Liver-
pool, who answered me by raising his head and snuffing the
tainted air.

" I rode on further, with my eyes all about me ; and then
something come and touched me something from t'other
world and I knew the danger was nigh and great for
when something from t'other world touches us mortals, it's
always for a last warning before death.

" Then I got down ever so gentle and quiet off the back
of Liverpool, and told him in a whisper he mustn't run
away ; and if his poor old mistress didn't ever come back
to him, to go on to Fort Young where the kind folks,
who'd always been good to poor old Mad Ann, God bless
you all for it would see that he'd never want for atten-
tion and care ; and the bonnie black beast (bless his noble
heart !) answered me with a rub of his nose and a whinney,
that said he understood me and good-bye as plain as any
human could.

" Then I started on afoot before the beast, and .kept
looking sharp all about me, till I seen the twinkle of what
might have been a dreadful demon's eye in the black wood
before me but which wasn't, that I knows on but the
light of a fire, about which was three painted Injuns, that
fetched all my blood to b'iling with rage and fury.

"'They musn't live to work mischief!' said I; and I
went creeping, creeping, creeping, toward 'em, with my

112 MAD ANN.

rifle leveled forward SOT a sudden aim, and ray tomahawk
and knife where my hands could grapple -them for close

"Creeping, creeping, creeping, like a painter on to a
deer I come up, up, up nigher, nigher, nigher till I
could see their eyes glisten as they talked, and their faces
wrinkle as they smiled, and their teeth show white as they
laughed whilst they toasted their meat at the fire, and eat
it like hungry men and then something whispered to me
and said:

" ' Ann Bailey, them beasts of men are in the road to
take your life, and you must eyther kill them or die your-

'"Yea, Lord!' I answered the spirit voice; 'even so
will I kill or die !' "

"And I raised my rifle, and looked along the barrel,
and seen the sight, by the light of the ruddy fire, cover the
eye of the middle one, just as he was raising a piece of
meat to his opening mouth ; and then I pulled the trigger,
arid sent the bullet whizzing through his brain. And
then wildly mad with a kind of fiendish joy, I bounded
forward, crashing through the bushes, and shouting as I
went :

" ' The Lord fights for Mad Ann, and she must slay all
before her !'

" But I like to have spoke with the vain boast of a silly

MAD ANN. 113

woman, for I 'spected the t'other Injuns to run. One did,
but t'other didn't ; and when I jumped forward into his
camp, the snap of his gun, with the muzzle not more'n ten
feet from my breast, showed me how nigh I'd been to
death without knowing it.

" Then, with a yell of fury, he threw down his gun, and
leaped on to me with his tomahawk. I hadn't time to
guard, or parry, it was so quick and sudden and surpris-
ing ; but I did the best I could, and the blow came down
without splitting my skull, as you see here, though it
grazed the bone and stunned me some, and fetched me
down on to my knees. Ag'in the weapon was whirled
aloft, and another blow was coming; but, with all my
might and strength, I jumped forward and wrenched the
legs of the savage from under him, and he fell heavy by
my side. He never got up ag'in for my right arm was
quick raised in wrath, and my tomahawk came down on to
his skull and laid him quivering.

" I got up then, and took the scalps of the two, to prove
my words but the coward that run I didn't see ag'in. I
went back for my horse, and here I am ; and if you want
to see the bodies of the savages, and get their arms, go out
to-morrow and do so."

Such was one of the most remarkable adventures and
exploits of Mad Ann, told, in her own peculiar manner, 'to

a group of excited listeners. A search which was made



by a party of hunters the next day, and which she herself
guided to the scene of the tragedy, proved the truth of her
statement so far as regarded the killing of the savages.

Mad Ann remained for a number of years in the vicinity
we have named, even after the Indian wars were over, and
spent her time in roving about from place to place, and
hunting for wild beasts, whose skins supplied her with the
means of procuring the few necessaries that her somewhat
primitive mode of life required. She was, in the true
sense of the word, a border heroine. She subsequently
removed to the frontier of Ohio, and died, as for many
years she had lived, in the great wilderness, deeply
lamented by those who had reaped the benefits of her
eccentric life of border deeds and border heroism.

IN the spring of It 94, while General Wayne, in com-
mand of the Northwestern Army, was occupying Fort
Greenville, which he had constructed the preceding winter,
news was brought to him that a party of Pottawatomies
had surprised and destroyed the block-house of a small
settlement not far distant, and massacred all the inmates
except a young female, whom they had takeu prisoner and
were then supposed to be conducting to their village.
This female, a Miss Eggleston, was the daughter of an
officer of some note, who was a friend of Wayne's, and he
determined, if in his power, to save her. At that time he
had some two or three heroic little bands of spies, or
scouts, attached to his division ; and he knew if a rescue
could be effected at all, the men to entrust with that
important enterprise could be found among them, and
them only.

Now it so happened that a small party of these scouts
were at that moment in the fort, having come in the night

previous with imDortant information, and were preparing



to set off again immediately. Sending for one of the most
daring of these, Robert McClellan by name, who, though
not the regularly appointed leader of the band, sometimes
acted in that capacity when his commander was absent, the
general briefly.informed him of what had taken place, and
asked him if he thought there was a hope of Miss Eggles-
ston being rescued.

" I can't say as to that, Gineral," replied the scout ; "but
this I will say, ef it kin be done, I kin do it."

" How many men do you want ?" asked Wayne.

" How big is the party ?" inquired the other*

" From the report, I should judge there were twenty or
thirty of them."

" Then it'll never do for us to make a regular stand up
fight on't, Gineral, unless we has the cap'n and the others
all along ; and as they won't be in afore to-morrow, ef then,
I reckon it's best to operate by sarcumvention ; and the two
that's here with me Hickman and Hart will be jest as
good for that thar as a dozen more. Only put me whar I
I can git on their trail, and ef the red niggers arn't too far
ahead, I'll soon fetch a good report of them, ef I don't of.
the young woman."

" But you must bring a good account of her /" rejoined
Wayne, in a positive tone. " It's to save her I send you ;
for she is the daughter of my friend, and her life and rescue
are above price."


" Then we'll save her, Gineral," replied the hardy scout
"that is, ef the butchering varmints only save her them-
selves till we kin get to whar she ar."

General Wayne gave McClellan some further instruc-
tions, and then bade him set out immediately ; and return-
ing to his temporary quarters in the Fort, and informing
his companions what was required of them, they at once
set about preparing for their new adventure ; and in less
than half an hour, the three men were threading the intri-
cate mazes of a great, dark forest, which then stretched
away, unbrokenly, for many a long league before them.

With long and rapid strides McClellan, the fleetest-
footed hunter of his time, on the lead they got over
some twenty miles of ground, and reached the ruins of the
block-house, where the massacre had taken place, just as
the sun was setting. There was light enough to find the
broad trail of the retreating Indians ; and with no unneces-
sary delay they set out upon it, and advanced some two or
three miles further, when the gathering night compelled
them to encamp and postpone further operations till
another day.

The night, however, passed off without any disturbance ;
and at the first streak of day they arose and resumed their
journey ; and ere the sun set again, they had travelled far
upon the broad trail of their foes in a northerly direction.

It is not our purpose to follow them in detail. Suffice


it to say, that near the close of the second day, they
reached a point where the trail forked, and it became
necessary to make a careful examination, in order to decide
which party had taken the prisoner with them. To the
best of their judgment, the whole number of Indians was
not much short of thirty ; but they were not equally
divided at the point of separation, as was evident from one
trail being much larger than the other. They soon satis-
fied themselves that the girl had been taken with the
smaller party ; and this to them was a pleasing discovery,
as it gave them more hope of being successful in her

This decided, they pushed on rapidly till night, and then
encamped proceeding on the following morning as before ;
and at the close of the third day, just as night was setting
in, they came within view of the camp-fires of their foes.
Waiting some two or three hours, until they thought the
venture perfectly safe, they carefully proceeded to recon-
noitre the Indian camp, which was in a small, pleasant, but
heavily wooded valley, through which flowed a branch of
the Wabash. Creeping up cautiously, under cover of
some bushes, they beheld six Indians carelessly disposed
around the fire three of them lying down as if asleep, and
the others sitting near together, conversing in low tones,
occasionally laughing, and evidently totally unsuspicious of
danger. A little apart, and bound to a tree, was the poor


captive a young and beautiful female whose now pale
and dejected features bespoke the despair of her heart, and,
combined with her disheveled hair and torn and disar-
ranged garments, rendered her an object of pity even to
men hardened to almost every scene of suffering and

Having fully ascertained the number and position of
their enemies, and the fact that the prisoner, whom they
had come to rescue, was still alive, the scouts drew stealthily
back to a safe distance, and held a whispered consultation
upon the manner of their future proceedings.

" I don't exactly like either of your plans," said McClel-
lan, who had quietly listened to the propositions of the
others. " It's our business to git the gal away that's the
Gineral's orders and the way that we kin do that the
best, is the best way. Now, instead of trying to steal thar
guns, one o' you jest creep up and cut her cords, and start
her off toward us as easy as you kin ; but ef thar's an
alarm, tell her to break for the nearest thicket, and we'll
stand atween her and harm. I don't think thar'll be any
trouble 'bout our coming out all right, for we've fout
bigger odds afore to-day, without the 'vantage of a sur-
prise, and licked 'em too."

After some further discussion, the plan of McClellan
was acceded to as the best, and Hart was selected to enter
the camp and release the girl the others to be in readi-


ness to pour in their fire in case of an alarm which, to
say the least, would be likely to throw the Indians into
confusion, and give our friends so much the advantage
while the girl would be almost certain to escape, and her
escape was what they now sought rather than the lives of
the savages.

Having thus arranged the matter, the three scouts kept
perfectly quiet and silent some two or three hours longer,
and then began the execution of their final scheme. The
fire, which the Indians had fed while astir, had now gone
down to mere embers ; but this only the better served
McClellan's idea, as it would render Hart less liable to be
seen in his approach to the prisoner.

Some quarter of an hour more was spent in arranging
everything for perfect action, and getting into position,
which they finally did in that stealthy and noiseless manner
peculiar to men of their profession. Then leaving his two
companions where their fire would be sure to be effective,
Hart as cautiously and stealthily drew back, and glided
round to the captive. He reached her without causing
any alarm, but found her fast asleep, sitting on the ground,
her back braced against the tree to which she was bound.
To wake her, and warn her, and assure her that deliver-
ance was at hand without causing her to start, or cry
out, and so arouse her captors was a delicate task. He
began, however, by whispering iu her ear; and so con-


tinned till she gradually awoke, and heard, and compre-
hended his words; when her rare presence of mind came
to his aid, and he was greatly rejoiced and relieved at her
whispered reply :

"I understand you I thank you God bless you, who-
ever you are ! Have no fear ! I am a soldier's daughter,
and will do whatever you bid me."

"Then jest as soon as I cut your cords," whispered
Hart, in reply, "git up and foller me, and don't make a
bit o' noise ; but ef the Injuns do happen to rouse, don't
get too skeered, but run for the nearest thicket, and leave
me and my comrades to settle them."

He then cut her bonds ; and quietly, but with trembling
eagerness, she arose to comply with his directions ; but the
first step forward, her long-corded and benumbed limbs
partially giving way under her, she stumbled upon a dry
branch, which snapped beneath her feet.

Instantly one of the Indians nearest the tree started up
into a sitting posture when Hart, feeling himself called
upon to act, suddenly presented his rifle at the breast of
his foe, and lodged the contents in his body. As he fell
back, the scout, with a yell of triumph and defiance,
bounded over him to attack the next, the whole party
being now fully aroused and alarmed. Snapping his
pistol at the breast of the second, and finding it miss fire,

Hart struck out with his tomahawk, but stumbled at the



same moment, and, missing the warrior in the act of rising,
fell heavily against him. The latter staggered, and was
really much alarmed and confused ; but comprehending
withal that he had an enemy within his reach, he quickly
grappled him, whipped out his knife, and plunged it
several times into his body. He was in the very act of
doing this, in fact, when a ball from the rifle of McClellan
pierced his brain, *md he fell dead over the dying form
of Hart Hickman at the same instant shooting down
another for with loud, terrifying yells, both had rushed
upon the Indians at the same moment with their unfortu-
nate companion.

There were now three unwounded Indians to two
whites; and had the former known of their advantage,
the day might have been their own ; but they were sur-
prised, alarmed, and half paralyzed with the thought that
they were attacked by overwhelming numbers ; and before
they had time to recover, the smaller weapons of our
heroes had done their work upon two more of them, the
sixth one only making his escape with a yell of terror.
The skirmish, from first to last, scarcely exceeded a
minute ; and probably no regular battle in the world ever
showed such a proportion of the killed, to the number
engaged, in so short a time.

But it was a dearly-won contest to our two surviving
friends, and sad and gloomy were their feelings as they


lifted their poor comrade from beneath his foe, and listened
to the irregular breathings, which were soon to cease in
death. The girl, who had not fled far, now returned and
joined them in their grief, for she felt that the poor fellow
had fallen in her rescue and defence. An hour later, the
dying man expired in the arms of McClellan, rousing a
little at the last moment, and speaking a few words,
faintly :

" Good bye, boys," he said, " and remember me wher-
ever you see the red niggers."

" We'll do that, Hart, you may rest assured," replied
McClellan, in an unsteady tone ; and over his mortal
remains those two hardy scouts swore undying revenge
against their savage foes.

Drawing the fair girl apart from the bloody scene, and
assuring her that they were as ready to yield their lives in
her defence as the one who had so fallen, they gave her a
blanket, and persuaded her to lie down and get what rest
she could, that she might be prepared for the long journey
homeward, which would commence on the morrow. Then
scalping their slain, and making prize of whatever they
considered of any value, they sat down by their dead com-
rade, and passed the night beside him, rehearsing tales of
adventures in which he had taken a part, and renewing their
oaths of eternal vengeance against the whole Indian race.

At daylight the following morning they dug a rude


grave with their hatchets and knives ; and having shown
their final respect to their late companion, by interring his
remains as well as their circumstances would permit, they
set out on their return to the fort, which they eventually
reached in safety, and where they delivered their rescued
captive into the hands of General Wayne, who not only
kindly thanked, but liberally rewarded them, and expressed
a soldier's regret for the loss of their brave companion.

It may interest the reader to know that this same young
lady so providentially preserved at the general massacre
of her friends, and so gallantly rescued at the expense of
the life of one of those brave heroes of the wilderness
subsequently became the wife of an officer under Wayne,
and the mother of one who now holds a distinguished
position in the councils of the nation..

THE following story was narrated by a gentleman who
desires his name withheld from from the public :

"Any man living on the lower Mississippi twenty years
ago, who was not in favor of playing all sorts of games for
all manner of sums, would have been at once pronounced
no gentleman or a minister of the Gospel. I was myself
not a little scandalized, on my first going South, at being
asked by a gentleman to play cards for money ; but uni-
versal custom is every thing in settling a man's mind upon
the matter of right cr wrong ; and I regret to say I soon
found myself as much disposed for the exciting sport as the
most ardent of my companions, though never at any time
so much attached to it as to play with a professional

" In this latter respect I materially differed from a friend
of mine a young planter by the name of Paul Rathbun
who, having become a great adept in the handling of cards,
rather prided himself on the belief that he could outwit the

most adroit gambler to be found; and he never went

11* (125)


aboard a passing steamer without trying hi^ hand with one
or more of the chance-operating fraternity.

" Now Paul Rathbun and myself had agreed to take a trip
to New Orleans, to enjoy a few week's pleasure and recrea-
tion in that great city of the South ; and as he was going
to take down a large sum of money, to meet some notes of
country merchants falling due, his father, knowing his pen-
chant for cards and adventure, called me aside, and re-
quested me as a friend to have an eye to him and restrain
him from carrying his proclivities to the extent of ruin.

" It was a cold, dark, stormy night that we embarked
on board a downward steamer, from the then pleasant little
town of Grand Gulf; and though we were in fine sprits,
exhilarated to a highly talkative degree by a few parting
glasses with the jovial friends who had seen us off, yet I felt
nothing like intoxication, and was very much astonished
and mortified to discover that my friend did, and within
fifteen minutes after our appearance in the splendid saloon
of the boat.

" What could it mean ? Was it the effect of the liquor
he had drank on shore ? or had he been imbibing since ? I
had left him but a few minutes only; and now, on my
return to the saloon from the guards, I found him almost
reeling, and surrounded by a group of four or five dark-
visaged, villanous-looking fellows, whom I believed to be
pick-pockets, or gamblers of the lowest order, and with


whom he was conversing with a familiarity that both aston-
ished and vexed me. Whether sober or otherwise, I felt
in duty bound to withdraw him from such company, and
immediately approached him for that purpose.

"''Come, Paul, my dear fellow,' said I, quietly running
my arm through his, ' let us retire to our state-room ; I
have something important to communicate to you. 7

" ' You have ?' he replied with a strong emphasis on the
pronoun, and partially turning his face to me, with a
drunken man's quizzical leer. ' You've got something to
communicate, have you, old boy ?'

" ' Yes, Paul, I have something very important to tell

" ' That's a (hie) lie !' returned he, straightening himself
up with drunken dignity, and winking at his delectable
companions, who laughed approvingly, at my expense.
' You've got nothing to tell me you only think I'm drunk,

1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryEmerson BennettForest and prairie, or, Life on the frontier → online text (page 6 of 22)