by Scott Powell, 1925
Contributed by Linda Fluharty & Frank Manning.
EVENTS OF 1777 Pages 14-30
EVENTS OF 1777
Early in the spring of 1777, the bloody year of the three sevens, as the old settlers properly named that year, roving bands of Indians made their appearance on the south side of the Ohio River and commenced depredations in many places. The first depredations in what is now Marshall County was that of stealing horses and killing some colts and cattle.
Morgan Jones, in a letter to his parents at Jacob's Creek in Pennsylvania, gives an account of conditions at the Flats of Grave Creek in the early part of that year. He stated that on the previous Saturday, Indians had killed two of his horses, two belonging to Joseph Tomlinson, took two horses belonging to John Harris, one belonging to Samuel Harris, one from Zephiniah Blackford, and shot four cattle of Mr. Rogers, and two of Yates Cornwell. Some young colts were also stolen by them. He said that some of the cattle came home with arrows sticking in their sides. The alarm soon spread and men gathered to the number of twenty-three. Eight were left to protect the settlement and fifteen started in pursuit of the Indians. They followed the trail to Fish Creek and crossed the river near the mouth of the creek and went down on the north side to the mouth of Sunfish Creek and followed the trail up that stream some distance until the camp of the Indians was discovered. Preparations were made for an attack upon the Indians when by an accident John McClean's gun went off giving the alarm. The Indians returned the fire but were driven from the camp. The whites took position on a hillside near the camp when two more fires were discovered. After considering the matter and viewing the situation, it was thought best to retreat, which was done. After going down the creek towards the river some distance the company received a small reinforcement that was following them with all possible speed. They returned and followed the trail a short distance but the Indians were then two days ahead and they abandoned the pursuit and returned home as it was deemed inexpedient to pursue the Indians further.
Two canoe loads started to cross the river at the mouth of Sunfish, but as they approached the south shore they were fired upon by Indians from that side of the river. The men laid down in the canoes except two who were paddling them. They made for the north side of the river with great haste. A great many shots were fired by both whites and Indians. He said that Indian bullets fell as thick as hail. They went up the river and crossed it a short distance below the mouth of Fish Creek and hastened home. A trail was found soon after crossing the river and when they arrived at the fort at Grave Creek, they found some men who had been at the mouth of the Little Kanawha River had passed up and they were the men whose trail they had seen. The men were at the fort when they arrived. A large camp of Indians were discovered not far below the mouth of Fish Creek.
The summer passed by with no invasion by the Indians other than by small scalping parties and people did not all abandon their homes and go into forts for safety. Scouting parties were kept watching the usual paths of Indians and covered the country generally. About the first of August, General Hand was informed by friendly Indians that the hostile Indians contemplated an attack upon Wheeling. White Eyes, a Delaware, and a friend to the whites, told General Hand that the hostile Indians intended to take Wheeling home. This information created a general alarm. On the second of August General Hand wrote to David Shepherd, lieutenant of Ohio County, informing him of the threatened invasion, ordering him to abandon his fort at the forks of Wheeling Creek, about six miles from the river, and rally all the militia between the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers at Fort Henry. Colonel Shepherd proceeded to carry the orders out as given him and collected nine companies at Wheeling. The alarm became general and not without cause and people retired into forts as soon as they were warned of their danger.
The fort at Wheeling had been erected by the Colonial authority of Virginia in 1774 and named Fort Fincastle, but the name had been changed to Fort Henry in honor of Patrick Henry, Governor of Virginia. It was supplied with arms and ammunition by the authorities of Virginia but not with a garrison of regular soldiers at this time, but left to be defended by settlers who might seek safety within its walls except militia, as ordered by the commander of the Middle Department of the West with his headquarters at Fort Pitt. Fort Henry was considered Indian-proof and as no Indians appeared, vigilance was somewhat relaxed, and the nine companies of militia were allowed to return home and by the last of August there were only two companies at the fort and they were local men commanded by Captain Samuel Mason and Captain Joseph Ogle.
Scouting parties had been kept out watching the Indian trails or war paths by which they would most likely approach Wheeling.
On the last day of August, Captain Ogle and a party of twelve men who had been out several days watching the paths, arrived at the fort and reported they had found no signs of Indians and were assured that there was no immediate danger. With this assurance the inhabitants of the vil- lage remained in their cabins. The Indians had evidently suspected that the whites were watching for them and had carefully avoided the usual paths and had eluded the vigilance of the scouts. In the course of the night an army of Indians of between three hundred and four hundred warriors, under command of a white man, arrived at Wheeling and lay in ambush. They possibly thought that the whites were expecting them and were prepared to receive them as there were lights burning in the fort, and thought that their only chance of success was in an ambuscade, which was successfully accomplished.
EARLY in the morning of September 1st, Andrew Zane, John Boyd, Samuel Tomlinson and a negro went out from the fort to catch a horse for Dr. James McMechen, who intended to start east that day on a trip to some of the older settlements, or to the east of the mountains, on business. The men had gone but a short distance when Indians fired upon them and killed Boyd, but the other three escaped and returned to the fort and reported that they had seen six Indians. Andrew Zane is said to have saved his life by jumping from a cliff about seventy feet high. A heavy fog hung over the bottom and it was impossible to see any distance, hence the Indians in the cornfield were not seen.
The companies of Captains Samuel Mason and Joseph Ogle had occupied the fort the preceding night. Captain Mason, with fourteen men, went from the fort to dislodge the Indians. They had not advanced far from the fort when they came in view of the six Indians. Moving briskly forward they soon found themselves surrounded by a body of Indians that had been concealed and now showed themselves when the whites were within their lines. Mason saw the impossibility of maintaining a conflict with such superior numbers, ordered a retreat but it was too late. They were intercepted by Indians on all sides and but few escaped. Captain Mason and his sergeant succeeded in passing the front lines but were observed and pursued by Indians and fired at as they began to ascend the hill. The sergeant was so badly wounded that he fell and was unable to rise again. Seeing his captain pass without a gun and so crippled that he could move but slowly, and being pursutd, he handed him his gun and quietly met his fate, the tomahawk. Mason, who had received two wounds, was so weak from the loss of blood and faint from fatigue, that he had almost given up all hopes of escape, again exerted his utmost power to reach the fort. He was aware that an Indian was near him and expected any moment that a tomahawk would end his days. He thought of this and exerted himself and recollected that his gun was loaded; he wheeled about to fire at his pursuer, but found him so close that he could not bring his gun to bear on him. Having the advantage of the ground he pushed the Indian with his hand from him. The Indian had his tomahawk raised to strike a blow when pushed backward and it descended to the earth with great force, and before he could regain his footing and again strike with his tomahawk, Mason turned about and shot him dead. He was unable to proceed but a few paces further but found a large fallen tree beside which he concealed himself and remained while the Indians remained about the fort.
Captain Ogle hearing the firing of the guns, shrieks of the men and yells of the Indians, went out with twelve men to reinforce them. The men being some distance in advance of Captain Ogle the Indians enclosed them leaving him outside the circle. He concealed himself in some bushes and briars until night enabled him to return to the fort.
The number of men killed that morning is a matter of uncertainty. Some writers say that out of twenty-six men lead out by Captains Mason and Ogle, only three escaped death and two of them were badly wounded.
R. G. Thwaits gives the loss of the whites at fifteen killed and nine wounded, and the loss of the Indiars, one killed and five wounded.
While the terrible massacre was taking place in the cornfield, the inhabitants of the village fled from their cabins to the fort and prepared for its defense. Many fled with nothing but their clothes and some of them with only their night clothes, leaving everything behind in their cabins. They saw that the forces of Captains Mason and Ogle had been cut to pieces and that there was no chance for an open conflict with the Indians. So quickly had all this happened that the gates of the fort were scarcely closed till the Indians appeared before it. The white leader of the Indians appeared at a window of a house near the fort and told the inmates of it that he had come with a large army to conduct the inhabitants along the frontier to Detroit, such as would accept the terms offered by Governor Hamilton. The terms were that they renounce the cause of the colonies and espouse the cause of Great Briton. He read Governor Hamilton's proclamation and then informed them that he would give them fifteen minutes to consider his proposition. It was all the time the inmates needed. Colonel Zane informed him that they had consulted their wives and children and that they had decided that they would perish in defending themselves rather than place themselves under the protection of a savage army with him at the head of it. He then told them of the size of the army and of the uselessness of their resistance. A shot from the fort fired at him put an end to his harangue. He withdrew from the window and commenced an attack upon the fort.
There were but thirty-three men in the fort according to Withers' account, but they were determined to hold it or die in its defence. Almost every man was for a time a host in himself, so determined were they to defend the fort; and the women were not behind the men in their resolution to hold it, and two of them Mrs. Betsey Wheat and a Mrs. Glum did duty as soldiers; took guns and places with the men in the the defence. Others not so resolute and expert in the use of arms cooled the guns and loaded them for the men and prepared food and carried it to the heroic defenders and rendered valuable aid, while others more timid moulded bullets for the guns. Each one had some particular duty to perform and performed it promptly. There were no wringing of hands and waiting but a cool deliberate determined resolution to fight it out to an end and die in defense of the fort rather than surrender it.
Most of the writers of early history say that the Indians attacked the fort and for twenty-three hours there was great activity in the fort and a heavv fire was kept up by the Indians against it.
Thwaits contradicts the statement and says that the Indians satisfied with their success in the ambuscade only threw up some blinds and earthworks, scalped the dead, killed all the stock within their reach, burned the houses and retired across the Ohio the following night and disappeared.
There is no event in history recorded in which there are more conflicting accounts, than the attack upon Fort Henry on the morning of September the first, 1777, and at the present day it is impossible to give what might be termed a correct account of it. All that can be done is to give the different accounts of it and submit the matter to careful readers and let them decide which account appears to them most plausible.
Withers says that after the attack was made upon Wheeling the alarm reached Shepherd's Fort at the forks of Wheeling Creek, six miles distant, and a messenger was sent from there to Holliday's Fort with intelligence and the apprehension that if speedy relief was not afforded the garrison, Fort Henry must fall. There was no thought of gathering a force sufficient to defeat the Indians in an open battle and all that could be done or expected, was to get a small force into the fort to reinforce the garrison. Colonel Sweringen left Holliday's Fort in a large canoe with fourteen volunteers for the relief of the fort. The men paddled industriously to reach Wheeling in time to render service to the besieged. It was deemed hazardous but they thought only of relieving the fort and saving the lives of the inmates. The night was dark and a heavy fog hung over the river, making it difficult to guide the canoe, hence they frequently ran into the river banks. Finally they ceased rowing and let it drift lest they might pass Wheeling and fail to return before daylight. They landed some distance above the fort which they located by lights of the burning cabins and decided to reconnoiter and examine the situation before attempting to gain admission to the fort. It was a matter of uncertainty to them whether or not the fort was in ruins. Three of the party, Colonel Swearingen, Captain Bilderbock and William Bosher volunteered to proceed cautiously and ascertain the situation and report to the others. When they arrived near the fort it was a question to them whether the Indians had abandoned the attack or only lying in ambush in the cornfield awaiting the approach of a relief party to fall upon it. Fearing an ambuscade they thought it beat not to give a signal to the men but to return by a circuitous route to them and avoid the cornfield in returning, and bring their companions to the fort.
It was not known that Indians were not concealed in the corn near the fort and to ascertain whether or not, two men were requested to go out from the fort and examine the cornfield. Two vigilant scouts left the fort and examined the cornfield carefully and returned to the fort without seeing any indications of the presence of Indians. Upon their return to the fort twenty men under the guidance of Colonel Zane marched around the cornfield and approached nearer than the two men, and became assured that the Indians had really withdrawn from the field. About this time Major Samuel McCullough arrived with forty-five men from Short Creek and they all proceeded to view the battlefield. Here they found twenty-three of the men who went out with Captains Mason and Ogle, most of them had been killed with tomahawks and scalping knives. About three hundred head of cattle, hogs and horses had been wantonly killed by the Indians and all the cabins with their contents, which the Indians could not conveniently carry off with them, were burned. It was a long time before the inhabitants of Wheeling regained the comforts of which that night's work of the Indians deprived them. No one was killed during the siege and only one man was slightly wounded.
The abandonment of the homes in the village and leaving everything in them and rushing to the fort will be best understood when it is remembered that the inhabitants depended upon the scouts to give them timely warning of danger so they could remove their effects into the fort and save them from destruction. They knew nothing of the presence of the enemy until the four men were attacked as they went through the cornfield for the horse and the entire time spent in the affray was of short duration and occurred between daylight and sunrise, hence no time to remove anything and they were fortunate to escape with their lives.
McKNIGHT, in OUR WESTERN BORDER, gives a somewhat different account in some particulars. He says, Early on the morning of September the first, a white man and a negro went out to catch a horse and had not advanced far before they were fired upon by a party of six Indians in ambush. Boyd was killed but the negro was permitted to return. Captain Samuel Mason, who the preceding evening brought his company to the fort, sallied out with fourteen men to shake up the impudent murderers. He soon routed up the six Indians and fired upon them. On the crack of their rifles the entire army arose and with blood-curdling yells rushed upon the little band. Mason at once ordered a retreat, cutting his own way through the Indians' lines, but most of his gallant command were hacked to pieces. Only two escaped by hiding beneath brush and fallen timber. William Shepherd, son of Colonel David Shepherd, commandant of the fort, reached Indian Spring where the Wheeling market house now stands, when his foot caught in a grapevine, he fell and was immediately dispatched with a war-club. A heavy fog hung over the bottom at this time and those inside of the fort could neither see the effect of the conflict nor surmise the number of the foe. Captain Joseph Ogle, with a dozen scouts, sallied out to the relief of the men and covered their retreat. The Indians attacked them and all but Captain Joseph Ogle, Sergeant Jacob Ogle, Martin Wetzel and one or two others were killed. Captain Ogle escaped by hiding in some high weeds in a fence corner. While there, two warriors sat on the fence, one of whom was severely wounded and cried piteously with pain. Ogle saw the blood streaming down his leg and feared that they would discover him and kept his finger on the trigger of his gun so he could fire instantly, but they moved off without noticing him. Scarcely had the groans of the wounded and dying ceased when the Indians appeared flourishing the bloody scalps and demanding the surrender of the fort. They advanced in two divisions headed with drum and fife and flying British colors; the right wing being distributed among the cabins on the bluff behind the fort and the left under cover of the river bank and close to the fort. The leader shouted aloud Hamilton's proclamation and offered protection in case of surrender and indiscriminate massacre if not. The garrison only numbered ten or twelve men and boys. Colonel Shepherd replied, "Sir, We have consulted our wives and children and all have resolved to perish at our posts rather than place ourselves under the protection of such savages with you at their head." The leader attempted to reply but a shot from the fort put a stop to further words. A rush was now made by a large body of Indians who tried to force the gates open and try the strength of the pickets by their united effort. Failing to make any impression, and suffering from the fire of the garrison, they withdrew a few yards and opened a general fire upon the port holes. An unintermittent fire was kept up during most of the day and part of the night but without any effect. About noon a temporary withdrawal took place and the garrison prepared for renewed resistance. To each man was assigned a post. Of the women, some run bullets, others got ammunition ready, others cooled and cleaned guns, loaded them and handed them to the men, and two of the women took their places at port holes and sent death messengers towards the dusky warriors. About three o'clock in the afternoon the Indians renewed the attack with redoubled fury. One-half of their number distributed themselves among the cabins and behind fallen trees, while the other half advanced along the base of the hill south of the fort and commenced a vigorous fire. This was to draw the defenders to that quar- ter while a rush was made from the other side and an attempt made to force an entrance into the fort with heavy timbers. Their effort failed and many a dusky warrior paid the penalty of his rashness with his life. Several similar attempts were made during the afternoon but all failed. just before the sav- ages retired, Bazel Duke, son-in-law of Colonel Shepherd, who had been stationed at Beech Bottom block-house, rode rapidly up to the fort and had almost gained entrance when he was shot dead in full view of the garrison he so gallantly attempted to aid. About nine o'clock that night the Indians reappeared and opened fire on the fort, making night hideous with their yells. All the lights in the fort had been carefully extinguished, giving the inmates the advantage of the light on the outside. They could see the Indians and themselves unseen, thus giving the garrison an opportunity to get many a good shot at stalwart warriors that caused them to lay down their arms forever. Repeated efforts were made to storm the fort during the night as well as to set it on fire. All efforts failed. Each attempt gave the sharp-shooters an opportunity to get in their work. Becoming discouraged in their efforts to capture the fort they killed all the stock that they could and set most of the buildings on fire and were preparing for one mort last and final effort when a relief party from Holliday's Fort arrived under command of Colonel Andrew Swearingen, landed under the river bank and secretly entered the fort.
Shortly after their arrival, Major Samuel McCullough, with forty mounted men from Short Creek, arrived and made an impetuous rush for the gates of the fort, which were joyfully thrown open to admit them. All succeeded in entering safely except Major McCullough, who delayed until every man in his party entered the fort. He was surrounded by Indians and compelled to fly for his life. Being mounted on a spirited horse, he galloped for the hill at full speed, followed by yelling Indians. He ascended the hill and reached a point where he thought he had left his pursuers so far behind him that he was safe, when he encountered a considerable body of Indians who had been on a plundering expedition among the settlements. In an instant he comprehended his danger. With foes in front and behind and spreading out on the slope of the hill, escape seemed impossible. He saw only one opportunity to escape death at the hands of the Indians and that was a desperate leap down a steep hill towards Wheeling Creek. Death among the rocks was preferable to torture by Indians. They were closing in on him. With a steady nerve, he adjusted the rein of his bridle and with his left hand he firmly gripped it and with his right he held his trusty rifle and urged his horse over the precipice towards Wheeling Creek. A crash, a crackling of limbs, a tumbling of loose stones and down the horse and rider went toward the creek. The astonished Indians looked over the precipice and to their surprise saw horse and rider cross the creek that flowed at the foot of the precipice and cross a peninsula at a rapid rate, the horse with head up and the gallant rider sitting straight in the saddle as if nothing had happened out of the ordinary. It was over three hundred feet from the top of the ridge to the bottom and it seemed that a stronger hand than that of man had guided the horse in that fearful leap.
ABRAHAM ROGERS, a participant in the defense of Fort Henry in 1777, gave an account of it which was published in a Wellsburg paper in 1833, which is given below:
The fort was situated on the higher bank or bluff and covered between one-half and three-fourths of an acre of land and was enclosed by a stockade eight feet high. The garrison at the time of the attack did not exceed fifteen, including all who were able to bear arms, several of whom were between twelve and eighteen years of age. The number of women and children were not known, as little account was taken of them.
The first intimation the commandant of the fort, Colonel Shepherd, had of the approach of an enemy, was received from Captain Ogle, who with Abraham Rogers, Robert Lemon and two others who had just arrived from Beech Bottom fort, on the Ohio River, twelve miles above Wheeling. Captain Ogle had, on his approach to Wheeling, observed below that place the appearance of smoke in the atmosphere which he rightly conjectured was caused by the burning of the Grave Creek fort by hostile Indians, and upon his arrival he immediately communicated his suspicion to Colonel Shepherd, but it was too late in the evening to reconnoiter. At a very early hour the next morning, September the first, the commandant of the fort sent two of his men in a canoe down the river to ascertain the cause of the smoke, and whether any Indians were in the neighborhood. The two men were murdered by the Indians on their return to the mouth of Wheeling Creek, it was thought, a few hundred yards below the fort. In the meantime an Irish servant and a negro had been sent out to reconnoiter in the immediate vicinity. The Irishman was decoyed, seized and killed by the Indians but the negro was permitted to escape, who on his return to the fort gave the first alarm of the actual approach of Indians. Captain Ogle, on receipt of the intelligence, accompanied by fifteen or sixteen of the garrison, leaving but twelve or thirteen in the fort, immediately proceeded towards the mouth of the creek in pursuit of the Indians. They were lying in ambush and permitted Captain Ogle and his devoted followers to advance almost to the creek, when a brisk and deadly fire was opened upon them. They fought bravely, desperately, but were overpowered by numbers of the enemy, and all except the Captain and two others were killed and scalped. Upon hearing the firing at the creek, Biggs, Rogers and Lemon left the fort to join their comrades and met the enemy who, with yells, were advancing towards the fort. The three men were fired upon and compelled to return. On their arrival at the gate of the fort, so near were the Indians, that it was not without the most imminent danger that it was opened for their admission. A general attack was immediately made upon the fort by the whole body of Indians, consisting of about five hundred men commanded by the infamous Simon Girty.
The assault was from the east side under cover of a paled garden and a few half-faced cabins within forty or fifty yards of the fort, of which they took possession, and from whence a brisk fire was kept up until a late hour at night. During the engagement the Indians sustained a great injury from the bursting of a maple log, which they had bored like a cannon and charged to fire upon the fort.
The little garrison of twelve sustained this protracted siege from about seven o'clock in the morning till ten or eleven o'clock at night, when the savages were finally repulsed and obliged to retreat without having killed or wounded a single individual in the fort. The loss on part of the Indians was variously estimated at from twenty to one hundred, and the conjecture of the number killed could only be formed from the great amount of blood which was observable for many days after the battle as their dead were principally carried off or concealed. The day was fair and most of the gunners were called sharp-shooters, all of whom had a number of fine shots. It is therefore not improbable that some thirty or forty of the enemy were killed and perhaps many more, for there was a continual firing during the whole time of the engagement.
Every man did his duty and was entitled to an equal amount of praise. The women rendered valuable service, some running bullets, cutting patches, cooling and loading guns for the men. Mrs. Ebenezer Zane rendered valuable service in this way. The Spartan band of patriots had not time to take any sustenance from Sunday, the last day of August, until the second day of September, after the Indians had abandoned the siege and crossed the Ohio.
Writers of early history disagree as to the number of defenders of Fort Henry at the time of the attack on September the first, 1777. It is evident that some of them are mistaken in the number. There are a number of names that are prominent in border history, who escaped that terrible massacre and there are many reasons to believe that they were among the defenders of the fort on that occasion. The names of Ebenezer Zane, Samuel Tomlinson, Andrew Zane, Martin Wetzel, Silas Zane, David Shepherd, Jonathan Zane, Dr. James McMechen, Abraham Rogers, Joseph Biggs, Robert Lemon, John Lynn and John Caldwell, beyond doubt belong to the list of defenders of the fort. There are reasons to believe that the names of William MeMechen, James Tomlinson, Joseph Tomlinson and some others belong to the list also. It is generally stated that there were twenty-five or thirty cabins above the mouth of the creek about the fort and besides the inmates of the cabins, there were people from outlying settlements, who had taken refuge in the fort when the alarm was given in the early part of August by General Hand. Traditional history clearly indicates that several persons from the Flats of Grave Creek were at Wheeling at the time and had been there about two weeks before the attack. Some have estimated the number of defendants as high as forty-two and it seems reasonable that the number was not much over-estimated. There being no written records of any consequence concerning the events about Wheeling at the time, it is difficult to determine just what did occur. Good authority gives the arrival of Major McCullough after the Indians had left, and if that be the case, the famous leap for life occurred at another time and under different circumstances. It is possible that tradition and poor memories are the cause of much of the conflict in historical statements.
The ambuscade and massacre in the cornfield near Fort Henry on the morning of September the first, 1777, was followed by another about four weeks later at the foot of McMechen's Bottom, a few miles below Wheeling, in which twenty-two men were killed, one captured and several wounded by Indians.
Early in September a company of militia arrived from Hampshire County, Virginia, under command of Captain William Foreman, to join the forces under General Hand in an expedition against the Indians, which had been contemplated. Scouting parties had been kept out to watch the paths of the Indians from the first alarm and were kept in the forest after the attack, watching every part of the country then inhabited as they were suspicious that Indians would appear again somewhere that autumn. On September the twenty-fifth, Captain Foreman, with twenty-four men, Captain Ogle, with ten men, and John Lynn, with nine men, were sent by Colonel Shepherd on a scouting expedition to Captina. The party arrived at the Flats of Grave Creek, twelve miles below Wheeling, and halted. The settlement had been abandoned in August when General Hand sent out the first alarm. The party found no canoes in which to cross the river and encamped for the night. Captain Foreman was in command of the party of scouts. He was a brave man but had no knowledge of Indian warfare and did not care to be advised by those who had. His men built a large fire and lay down about it for the night, although John Lynn, one of the most reliable scouts in the Middle Department of the West, cautioned Foreman of the danger of it. Lynn with his men went some distance from the fire and lay down in the darkness of the forest to sleep. Late in the after part of the night Lynn, being awake, heard a noise at the river, which he said sounded 1-ke launching a raft in the river somewhere near the mouth of Little Grave Creek, but on the opposite side of the river, and related the incident to Captain Foreman in the morning, but the Captain paid no attention to it. Lynn felt assured that Indians were lurking somewhere near and had been watching the movements of the party of scouts under Foreman, although he had seen nothing to clearly indicate their presence in the neighborhood, and spoke of his suspicion that it was possible that they were lurking somewhere near, while at the camp on Monday morning. Sounds to a man like him meant a great deal, while to other and untrained cars, they meant nothing at all. Being unable to cross the river for want of canoes, Captain Foreman decided to abandon the expedition and return to Wheeling.
The entire party marched up the trail towards Wheeling until it reached a point near the foot of the Narrows about two miles above the mouth of Little Grave Creek when it halted and a controversy took place regarding the route from there to Wheeling. Lynn again called attention to the danger of lurking Indians and the danger of an attack by them. He insisted that the party return to Wheeling by taking the route over the hill and avoid the bottom, giving as a reason that he believed that there were Indians near and that they had watched the party from the opposite side of the river and that the noise which he heard in the night was made by launching a raft to cross the river and if that be the case, that they would most likely attack them somewhere along the bottom. Foreman did not understand the danger or was unwilling to heed the advice of a backwoodsman, a scout and hunter, and insisted on following the trail along the bottom near the river. There was quite a long controversy over the matter and John Harkness, a relative of the Tomlinson family, and one of the party, said that at times it ran high, but Foreman would not heed the advice of Lynn and take the route over the hill. Foreman and Ogle started up along the trail and Lynn and his scouts took the route over the hill or rather along the side of it, and followed along the side of the hill facing the river.
Captain Foreman and Captain Ogle followed the path that lead up the river bottom without anything occurring to attract their attention until they reached a point where the bottom begins to widen, when one of the men picked an Indian ornament in the path. Immediately the men gathered about him to examine the ornament and while their attention was attracted by it two lines of Indians, one concealed under the river bank and the other in a sink at the foot of the hill, hidden from view by bushes and weeds, fired upon them and kept up the firing several minutes. Captain Foreman and twenty-one of his men were killed and one cap- tured and several wounded. Among the slain were two sons of Captain Foreman. The men fled for their lives and several sought safety by ascending the hill. Robert Harkness caught hold of a sapling to aid him in getting up the hill when the bark was knocked into his face by a ballet from the gun of an Indian fired at him. John Collins was shot in the thigh, breaking the bone. What the result might have been had not Lynn and his scouts rushed down the hillside yelling and firing their guns, is difficult to conjecture. They frightened the Indians with their noise and they evidently thought that it was a reinforcement coming to the relief of the party which they had attacked, and which caused them to give up pursuit and hasten from the scene of the conflict, and possibly saved the lives of several men.
Lynn and his men aided in caring for the wounded. They took Collins to a spring over the hill a short distance and threw their provisions together for him and provided the best they could for his comfort until he could be removed to Wheeling. Some accounts say that he was removed to Wheeling on the following day and others say that it was two days later.
R. G. Thwait says that Colonel David Shepherd went down from Wheeling on the fourth day after the occurrence with a force of considerable size after a reinforcement had arrived from Fort Pitt, buried the dead and took care of Collins. The dead were all buried in one grave at the head, of the Narrows where they fell.
In the year 1835, money was raised by a Light Horse Company at Elizabethtown, now Moundsville, and a stone was placed at the grave of the heroes. The stone was hard sandstone common in the section of the country and on it was inscribed:
"So sleep the brave who sunk to rest
By all their country's wishes bless'd."
The stone stood there forty years and was then removed by order of the county court of Marshall County and placed in Mount Rose Cemetery just north of the city limits of Moundsville. The following was inscribed on the stone when removed:
LIEUTENANT MILLER AND ENSIGN WILSON
"A list of the effects lost, by sundry soldiers of Captain
William Foreman's company of Hampshire county volunteers,
appraised by Lieutenant Anthony Miller and Ensign David
Wilson, officers of said company, being duly qualified for
£ s. d.
1 Captain William Foreman: rifle-gun, £11, 5s;
shot pouch and horn, 10s; pocket compass, 5s;
a blanket, £l, 17s, 6d.............................. 15 17 6
2 Edward Peterson: A rifle-gun, £ll, 5s; shot
pouch and horn, 10s; blanket, 30s................... 13 5 0
3 Benjamin Powell: A rifle-gun, £12, 10s; a
blanket, £l, 17s, 6d; shot pouch and horn,
12s, 6d ............................................ 12 5 0
4 Hambleton Foreman: A rifle-gun, £ll, 5s; a
blanket, 30s; shot pouch and horn, 10s.............. 13 5 0
5 James Greene: A rifle-gun, £10; a blanket,
37s, 6d............................................. 11 17 6
6 John Wilson: A rifle-gun, £10; shot pouch
and horn, 7s, 6d; blanket, 22s, 9d.................. 11 10 0
7 Jacob Pew: A rifle-gun, 18, 15s; a shot pouch
and horn, 7s, 6d; blanket,18s, 9d .................. 10 3 9
8 Isaac Harris: A rifle-gun, £12, 10s; shot pouch
and horn, 10s; blanket, 37s, 9d .................... 14 17 6
9 Robert M'Grew: blanket, 22s. 6d..................... 1 2 6
10 Elisha Shriver: A blanket, 22s. 6d ................. 1 2 6
11 Henry Risera: A blanket, 37s. 6d ................... 1 17 6
12 Bartholomew Viney: A blanket, 22s. 6d............... 1 2 6
13 Anthony Miller: A blanket, 22s. 6d ................. 1 2 6
14 John Vincent: A blanket, 30s........................ 1 10 0
15 Solomon Jones: A blanket, 30s....................... 1 10 0
16 William Ingle: A blanket, 22s. 6d .................. 1 2 6
17 Nathan Foreman: A blanket, 22s. 6d ................. 1 2 6
18 Abraham Powell: A blanket, 37s. 6d.................. 1 17 6
19 Samuel Lowery : A blanket, 30s...................... 1 10 0
20 Samuel Johnson: A rifle-gun, £7. 10s.; shot
pouch and horn, 10s.; a blanket, 22s, 6d............ 9 2 6
We the subscribers, do certify that the within specified appraisments
are just and true to the best of our judgements; and that the several
articles were lost in the late unhappy defeat near McMechen's Narrows
on the 27th of September, 1777, as witness our hands, this third of
(Signed) Anthony Miller, Lieutenant.
David Wilson, Ensign.
Sworn before me, David Shepherd."
NOTE.-- The date on the last line on page 32 and on the stone are both in-
correct and should be the 26th and 27th of September, as the above report