Franklin Ellis.

History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men online

. (page 23 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 23 of 193)
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fire. The hope was a vain and delusive one, as the
event proved, but the doomed man in his extremity
clung to it as drowning men catch at straws. His
savage custodians well knew that he would g
nothing by the interview with Girty, hut they granted
his request, apparently for the demoniac satisfaction:
of witnessing the despair and agony of his certain i

The prisoners bound for the old town arrived there
the same evening. Later in the night Crawford and

i his guards reached Pomoacan's village, where ho had
the desired interview with Girty, during which he
offered the wretch one thousand dollars to interfere

; and save his life. Girty promised to do what he

' could, though he had not the slightest intention of
keeping his word. He also told the colonel that his
nephew, William Crawford, and his son-in-law, Wil-
liam Harrison, been captured by Shawanese
scouts, but that the chiefs of that tribe had decided
to spare their lives, the latter portion of his statement
being false, as he well knew. But the story, with
the promise to intercede in his behalf, had the effect
to allav for the time the colonel's worst fears.



On the following morning (June 11th) Crawford
was informed that he must go to the old town, to
join the other prisoners, so that all could be marched
body to the village of the Half-King. Under
this order he was taken to the upper village, where he
arrived about the middle of the forenoon, and there
found the main body of the white prisoners, including
Dr. Knight, and the Delaware chiefs, Pipe and Wir.-
genund, who had come there at an earlier hour in
the morning. Here the hopes which had been raised

Crawford's mind by the promise of Girty were sud-
denly extinguished when Wingenund approached him
and painted his face black. The hypocritical chief,'
while he was performing the ominous operation, pro-
fessed to be extremely glad to see the colonel, and
assured him that he was to be adopted as an Indian ;
but Crawford was not deceived by this dissimulation,
for he well knew that when the Indians painted the
face of a prisoner black it meant but one thing, — that
the person so marked had been doomed to death.
All the other prisoners, including Dr. Knight, had
previously been painted black by the implacable
pelaware, Capt. Pipe.

A little later in the day the whole party of pris-
[oners, under their Indian guards, moved out from the
old town and took the trail down the river. Col.
Crawford and Dr. Knight (who were regarded by the
Indians as their principal prizes) were marched some
distance in the rear of the others, and were kept in
charge by no less personages than the chiefs Win-
genund and Pipe. They had not proceeded far from
the village before they passed the corpse of one of
the prisoners who preceded them. A little farther on
they saw another, then another and another, four in
all, killed by their guards only a few minutes before,
and all bearing the bloody marks made by the scalp-

They had supposed that their destination was the
[town of the Wyandot sachem, Pomoacan, but their
hearts sank within them- when, at the Big Springs,
on the present site of Upper Sandusky, the Indians

le treaclierous Wingenund was i
ways professed great friendshif
entertained by the colonel at
[Cttpt. Pipe was also acqnaintod with <
Tlie Wyan-lota had advanced m
civiliz:ttion than had the D^daware
Ihey, long l.crol-e th.l miii', uiM.lii
their priaoiiers, but th. , :i . ; , i

[other trihes. Tlie [•i\~ .1 •, 1,

n in their favur iImo «

their real destination was
a- too well that m'M-cy was
and Wingenund, being fi
I Crawford and Knight, had
from the Half-King, Punina
rbarity, for, as the Wyatidot
■t m.asters of that section of
eadful deed without the c
■w cou'ld 1

acquainted with Col. Crawford,
him, and had more than once
house ou the Youghiogheny.

farther on the towards
Shawanese. and not only bad
iiined the practice of burning
the horrid custom among the
i^. had consequently regarded
to be taUen to the home of the
that they hail b.-en deceived,
ruel Delawares,
:o be expected. The fact was
lelerniined to inflict the fire
urse to stratagem and deceit
lis consent to the commission
10 niLiie poiveirol than they,,

left the trail leading to the Wyandot headquarters
and took that leading to the villages of the Delawares.
On this trail they proceeded in a northwesterly course
until they reached Little Tymochtee Creek, where
Crawford and Knight, with their guards, overtook the
other surviving prisoners, only five in number. Here
several squaws and young Indians were met, and all
the prisoners were halted and made to sit on the
ground. The object of this movement became appa-
rent when, a few minutes later, the five pri-soners were
set upon by the squaws and boys, who tomahawked and
scalped them all. Some of the boys took the warm
and bloody scalps and repeatedly dashed them into
tlie fticcs of Crawford and Knight, who had also been
seated on the ground a short distance away from but
in full view of the butchery.

Of the prisoners who had set out from the old
town only Crawford and Knight now remained. The
march was resumed on the trail to Pipe's town, the
two prisoners being now separated and made to walk
a hundred yards or more apart. Ou their way they
were met by Simon Girty on horseback and accom-
panied by several Indians. Girty spoke to Crawford
and also to Knight, heaping upon the latter the vilest
epithets and abuse. As the party moved on they
were met by many Indians, all of whom maltreated
the prisoners, striking them with clubs and beating
theni with their fists. About the middle of the after-
noon the party with their dejected captives arrived
at a piece of bottom-land on the east bank of Ty-
mochtee Creek, where a halt was made, and it became
at once apparent that witli this halt the journeying
of one at least of the prisoners was ended. Craw-
ford and Knight were still separated, and were not
again allowed to hold any conversation together.
Knight was in charge of a peculiarly villanous-look-
ing Indian named Tutelu, who had been made his
special guard, and who was to take him on the follow-
ing day to the Shawanese towns, which had been de-
cided on as the place where he was to be put to death.
The spot where the party halted on the banks of
the Tymochtee was the place^ where Col. Crawford
was to die. It had been fully and finally decided by
the chiefs that he should sutfer death by the torture
of fire, and as all the barbarous preparations had
been made there was but little delay before the com-
mencement of the infernal orgie. The fatal stake
had already been set, and fires of hickory sticks were
burning in a circle around it. About forty Indian
men and twice that number of .squaws and young
Indians were waiting to take part in the torturing of
the unfortunate prisoner.

Immediately on his arrival the colonel was stripped
naked and made to sit on the ground, with his hands
firmly bound together and tied behind him. Then
the yelling, screeching crowd fell upon him and beat

consent thej
np.iuied by (

3 The siiot where Col. Crawford met 1
slightly rising ground in the creek hot
clistnnro norUiuast of the village of Cr

e death is 1



him without mercy until he was exhausted and cov-
ered with blood. When they had tired of this the
victim was dragged to the centre of the fiery circle
preparatory to the last act in the hellish drama. A
rope had previously been tied around the stake near
its foot, and now the other end of it was made fast to
tlie cord with which his wrists were bound together.
The rope was some six or eight feet in length, allow-
ing him to pass two or three times around the stake.
He could also sit or lie down at will.

The infamous Simon Girty was present, and re-
mained there during all the dreadful proceedings
which followed. When Crawford was led to the
stake he called out to the renegade (who stood among
the foremost in the ring of savage spectators), asking
him if they had determined to burn him to death,
and upon Girty's unfeeling rsply in the affirmative he
replied that if so he would try to endure it with
patience and die like a soldier and Christian. Then
the vindictive Capt. Pipe addressed the savages with
violent gesticulations, and at the close of his speech
the assembled barbarians applauded with wild de-
light, whilst some of the crowd rushed in upon the
prisoner and cut off both his ear?.'

As a prelude to the still more terrible tortures that
were to follow, the Indians closed in on the miserable
man and fired charges (jf imwdir into his unprotected
body. More than fil'ty times w us this repeated, and
the pain thus inflicted could scarcely have been less
than that produced by the flames. After this satanic
procedure was concluded the fires (which up to this
time had been burning but slowly) were replenished
with fresh fuel, and as the heat grew more intense,
and the sufleriiii,'s of the victim became more and
more exeruciatinL', the joy and shouting of the red
devils rose hiirher and lii-hur.

Burning at tlu' sla':i- is universally regarded as
among the most tcrriM' tintures that liunian cruelty
can inflict. But the I» ■! (waro rliiLl's had prepared for
the brave Crawford an a-nny iinao intense and pro-
tracted than that of the licking flames,— they roasted
him alive! The fires were placed at a distance of
some fifteen feet from the stake, and within that
dreadrul lirch' f.r three and a half hours he sufl'ered
analnio-t iii(Mn,rival>l.' j.hysieal torment, which death
would hav,' trniiiiiatcil in cue-tenth part the time if
the fagots had Ijeen jiiled close around him.

As the fires burned down the Indians seized burn-
ing brands and throw them at the victim, until all the
space which his ti'tinr allowed him was tiiickly strewn
with coals and lairiiin- cnilnrs, cm which his naked
feet must tread as he constantly moved around the
stake and back in the delirium of his pain. To in-

1 This ~lHt.'ni-nt i^ 1111.1.- ill III.' i.iiiriliv.. uf Dr. Knijlit, who, after

of fills

V among
the ex-

tensify and prolong the torture the savages applied
every means that their infernal ingenuity could sug-
gest, and which to describe or even to th
the mind with sickening horror.

To Simon Girty, who was in prominent v
the savage throng,-. Crawford called out
tremity of his agony, begging the wretch to end his
misery by sending a ball through his heart. To this
appeal Girty replied, sneeringly, that he had no gun,
at the same time uttering a brutal laugh of derisioa
and pleasure at the hideous spectacle. If, as tradition
has it, he had once been repelled in his attempted ad-
dresses to the colonel's beautiful daughter, Sally Craw-
ford, he was now enjoying the satisfaction of a terri-
ble revenge on her miserable father for the indignity.

Through it all the brave man bore up with as much
fortitude as is possible to weak human nature, fre-
quently praying to his Heavenly Father for the mercy
which was denied him on earth. Towards the last,
being evidently exhausted, he ceased to move around
the stake and lay down, face downwards, upon the
ground. The fires being now well burned down the
savages rushed in on him, beat him with the glowing
brands, heaped coals upon his body, and scalped him.
Once more he arose, bloody, blinded, and crisped,
and tottered once or twice around the stake, then fell
to rise no more. Again the barbarians applied burn-
ing brands, and heaped live coals on his scalped head,
but he was fast becoming insensible to pain, his end
was near, and after a few more vain attempts by the
savages to inflict further torments death came to the
rescue and the spirit of William Crawford was free.

It was on the 11th of June, at about four o'clock
in the afternoon, that the torture commenced. The
end came just as the sun was sinking' behind the
tops of the trees that bordered the bottom-lands of
the Tymochtee. Then the savages heaped the brands
together on the charred and swollen body and burned
it to a cinder, dancing around the spot for hours,
yelling and whooping in a wild frenzy of demoniac

It will be recollected that Dr. Knight was brought
from the Indian old town to the place of torture on
the Tymochtee with Col. Crawford, though the two
were kept apart and not allowed to converse together.
The doctor remained a horrified spectator of the
burning of his superior officer until near the time of
his death. On his arrival at the place. Knight was
fallen upon by the Indians and cruelly beaten.
While Crawford was in the midst of his greatest suf-
fering Simon Girty came to where Knight was sitting

= It Ims been stated iu somn accounts of the Jeatli of Col. Crawfori
tliat the British captjtin, Matthew Elliott, was also present during tlie
dre.adful scenes of the torture. It may have been so, but tha statement
has .never been fully substautiated, Hud there are serious doubts of its '

s " It was a tradition long after repeated by the Delawares and Wyail-
doTs that Crawford breathed his last just at the going down of the suu."
—Biilkrjh-hVs E.q,{,Ulha agniml Samliiakn.



aii'l tnkl him that he too must prepare for the same
oiikal, and he need have no hope of escaping death
]iv tnrture, though he would not suffer at the same
jihnc, but would be removed to the Shawanese towns
tn lie burned. Soon after an Indian came to him and
still -k him rep(^atedly in the face with the bloody
sialp which had just been torn from Crawford's head.
Tuwiiids the end of the diabolical scene, but while
( 'lawford was yet living, Knight was taken away and
nianlied to Capt. Pipe's house, some three-frturths of
a mile distant, where he remained during the night,
se( iirely bound, and closely guarded by the Indian
Tiuelu, who had him iu his especial charge.

Ill the morning (June 12th) his guard unbound
him. and having again painted him with black, started
out nil horseback, driving Knight before him on foot,
liiiunil for the Shawanese towns, where the doctor was
to sillier the torture. Passing by the spot where
Claw lord had suffered on the previous day, they saw
all that remained of the colonel, a few burned bones,
when the Indian told his horrified prisoner that
! this was his " big captain." They moved on towards
the southwest, on the trail to the Shawanese town of
AV'apatomica, nearly forty miles away.

Knight had not wholly abandoned the hope of es-
caping the torture, though his case looked wellnigh
hopeless. He carried as cheerful a countenance as
he could, concealed from his guard his knowledge of
the import of the black paint on his face, and con-
versed with him as well as he could, pretendiug that
he expected to be adopted into the Shawanese tribe
on arrival at their destination. Tutelu asked him if
he knew how to build a wigwam, and Knight assured
him that he was excellent at that business. All this
pleased the Indian, and to some extent threw him of!
his guard. Tiie journey of the first day was about
twenty-five miles. At the night-camp Tutelu again
bound his captive, and watched him closely through
the night, so that the doctor, although he tried hard
to free himself, did not succeed.

At daybreak Tutelu rose, stretched his limbs, un-
bound his captive, and renewed the fire, but did not
immediately prepare to resume the journey. They
had been greatly tormented by gnats during the night,
and the doctor asked him if he should make a smudge
in their rear to drive the pests away. Tutelu told him
to do so, whereupon Knight took two sticks (one of
them about a foot and a half in length, which was the
largest he could find), and holding a coal between
them carried it behind the Indian as if to start the
smudge, but as soon as he had got the right position
suddenly turned and dealt the savage a blow over
the head with all his strength, partially stunning him
and knocking him forward head first into the fire.
His hands were badly burned, but he immediately
recovered himself, rose, and ran away, uttering a .113 yell.' The doctor seized the Indian's gun

:ige of the Dela

lUcre. Ue (Tul.^l i

and followed him, determined to kill him ; but in his
eagerness he broke or disarranged the lock of the
piece, so that he could not fire. This being the case
he followed only a short distance, and then returned
to the place where they had passed the night.

Here the surgeon lost no time in making prepara-
tions for a desperate attempt to effect his escape from
the Indian country. He possessed himself of Tutelu'a
ammunition, his blanket, and an extra pair of mocca-
sins, and without delay commenced his long journey,
taking a course about east by north. All day he
traveled without molestation or notable incident, and
at night had emerged from the timbered country and
entered the Plains, where he made his lonely bivouac.
But he was too uneasy and anxious to remain long,
and so after two or three hours' rest resumed his way,
and travel ing all night, guided by the stars, had crossed
the open country and entered the forest to the east
before daylight appeared. During this day (June
14th) he struck the track of the troops on their out-
ward march, but having already received a severe
lesson on the danger of following this he avoided it
and took a north course, which he kept during the
rest of the day. That night he camped in the forest
and slept on undisturbed.

The next morning he shaped his course due east,
and moved on with greatly lightened spirits but ex-
ceedingly weak from lack of food. He could shoot
no game, ibr his utmost endeavors failed to put the
lock of his gun into working condition, and finding
at last that it was useless to make further attempts,
and that the piece could be only an encumbrance to
him, he threw it away. He caught a small turtle,
and occasionally succeeded in taking young birds, all
of which he ate raw. In this way, and by making
use of nourishing roots and herbs, he succeeded in
sustaining life through all the weary days of his jour-
ney to civilization. As he traveled eastward he found
heavier timber, and saw everywhere great quantities
of game, which was very tantalizing, as he could not
kill or catch any, although nearly famished.

For twenty days from the time of his escape from
his guard Tutelu, Dr. Knight traveled on through the
wilderness, unmolested by savages, but suffering ter-
ribly of hunger and cold,— for he had not the means
of making a fire, — and on the evening of July 3d
struck the Ohio Eiver about five miles below the
mouth of Beaver. On the 5th he arrived safely at
Fort Pitt,^ where he remained as surgeon of the

was false, nii.l that tlii; iloct.jr was a weak, jjuny man, wliertat the In-
dians ridiculed Tuteln without mercy.

- In .1 letter from Gi*n. Irvine to President Bloore, dated Fort Pitt,
Jnly5, 1782, lie says, "This moment Doctor Knight has arrived, the
surgeon I sent with the volunteers to Sandusky ; he was several days in
the hands of tlio Indians, hnt fortunately made his escape from his
keeper, who was condncling him to anotiier settlement to bo hound
[hnrned]. He biings the ilisagrceable account that Col. Crauford and


Seventh Virginia Regiment until after the dechira- '
tion of peace.

James Paull was but a private soldier in the forces
of Col. Crawford, but as lie afterwards became an |
officer of some distinction, and was for many years a |
Very prominent citizen of Fayette County, it is proper ,
to make special mention of his adventures, escape,
and return from the disastrous expedition. [

When, on the evening of the oth of June, the forces '
of Col. Crawford commenced their retreat from Battle
Island, and the combined Delawares and Shawanese j
attacked the advance battalion under Maj. McClel-
land, it will be recollected that the three other divi- j
sions precipitately abandoned the' line of march and
moved away on a route diverging to the west, and
that soon afterwards the head of the column marched [
by mistake into a bog or swamp, where a number of
the volunteers lost their horses by reason of their
becoming mired in the soft muddy soil. Among
those who were thus dismounted were James Paull' ,
and the guide, John Slover, who was also a Fayette 1
County man (or rather a resident of that part of West-
moreland which afterwards became Fayette). Of
course they could not keep up with the mounted men
of the column, and as the Indians were then attack-
ing the rear, their situation was a very critical one.

Under these circumstances instant flight was neces-
sary, and accordingly Paull and Slover, with live
other dismounted men, struck into the woods in a
northerly direction, thinking it most prudent to keep
at a distance from the route of the column. They
continued on their course till the latter part of the
night, when they suddenly found themselves flounder-
ing in the mud of a bog, and were then compelled to
remain stationary until daylight enabled them to
move with more certainty and safety. They then
changed their course towards the west, but as they
progressed gradually wore round more to the south,
skirting the edge of the Plains, until they found them-
selves headed nearly southeast. During the day two
or three small parties of Indians were seen to pass
them, but by hiding in the long grass the party re-
mained undiscovered. At about three o'clock they
were overtaken by the furious rain-storm which (as
before noticed) came down just at the close' of Wil-

.'ill the rest (:iK.ut twilv,., to the tlocto

■s knowledge) who

fell into his

[llR-ir] hniids wery liUviR-.l to (li'illh i

.% most shouking

mnnor; the

i.nfuitimute coloiu-1 in [.uiticiiliir vaa

upwards of four ho

.rs burning.

Tlie reasuu they assiiju fir this mioul

union barlmlily is r

laliation for

the Moravian affuir. Tlie .luctor adJa

ih.t lie undei-stood

those people

had laid aside their i-eligiuus priuciple

and luivo goue to war; that he

saw two of them bring iu scaliis wlio

he formerly knew.'

—Peum,. Ar-

c/.iiM, 1781-83, p. 570.

1 John Slierrard, whose home was w

th the widowed mother of James

Panll, aii.l wlio was his particular fra-nd, sa^d that wlio

1 the forces

c> leiiLi-d moving on the retreat 1.

1 iri.i V"''- l''Hil

fast asleep,

and shook him, telling him that the ti

and that he

was iu danger of being left behind. I

1 to his feet,

liamson's battle with the Indians and Rangers. Paull
and his companions, being drenched and chilled
through, made a halt, and remained stationary until
evening. Then they again moved on to the eastern
edge of the Plains, and thence into the forest. Their
route since the morning had been the arc of a circle,
heading successively west, southwest, soutli, south-
east, east, and northeast, the latter being the di-
rection of their course when they entered the woods.
A few miles farther on they tu/ned nearly due,
thinking that they were far enough north of Wil-
liamson's track to be comparatively free from danger ■
of the pursuing savages. They had made rather slow,
progress, for one of the men was suffering from rheu-
matism in one of his knees, and one of Paull's feet'
was quite as much disabled by his accidentally step- 1
ping on a hot spade which some of the men «
using (in the afternoon of the oth) for baking bread
in preparation for the retreat of that evening.

On the following day (June 7th) the party con-
tinued on the same course, crossed the waters of the
tributaries of the Muskingum about noon, and at their
camp of the same night cooking the flesh of a fawn
which they had been fortunate enough to catch dur-
ing the day, this being the second meal that they had
eaten since leaving Battle Island. On their inarch of
this day the man afflicted with rheumatism had fallen
out, and the party now numbered but six.

Danger was now before them. They started on
their way at davbrcak in the morning of the 8th, and
had made some nine or ten miles' progress, when, at
about nine o'clock in the forenoon, they fell intc
ambuscade of Shawanese Indians, who had followed
their trail from the Plains. The savages fired on them
and two of the men fell. Paull ran for his life and
made his escape, notwithstanding his burned foot, but
Slover and the other two men were taken prisoners
and conducted back to the Shawanese towns.

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 23 of 193)