Contributed by Clarice Stanley.
[Feb. 16, 1827; quoting a letter from R. Patterson]
"Dayton, Jan. 16, 1827
"In the fall of 1776, I started from M'Clellan's station, (now Georgetown Ky.) in company with Jos. M'Nutt, David Perry, James Wernock, James Templeton, Edward Mitchell and Isaac Greer, to go to Pittsburgh. We procured provision for our journey, at the Blue Licks, from the well known store-house the Buffalo. At Limestone we procured a canoe, and started up the Ohio river by water. Nothing material transpired during several of the first days of our journey. We landed at Point Pleasant, where was a fort commanded by Capt. Arthur Arbuckle. After remaining there a short time and receiving despatches from Capt. Arbuckle to the commandant at Wheeling, we again proceeded. Aware that Indians were lurking along the banks of the river, we traveled with the utmost caution. We usually landed an hour before sunset, cooked and ate our supper, and then went on till after dark.
At night we lay without fire, as convenient to our canoe as possible, and started again in the morning at day-break. We had all agreed that if any disaster should befall us by day or by night, we would stand by each other as long as any help could be afforded. At length the memorable 12th of October arrived. During the day we passed several new improvements, which occasioned us to be less watchful and careful than we had been before. Late in the evening we landed opposite the Island then called the Hockhocking, and were beginning to flatter ourselves that we should reach some inhabitants the next day. Having eaten nothing that day, contrary to our usual practice, we kindled a fire and cooked supper. After we had eaten, and made the last of our flour into a loaf of bread and put it into an old gallon brass kettle to bake, so that we might be ready to start again in the morning at day-break, we lay down to rest, keeping the same clothes on at night that we wore during the day. For want of better, I had on a hunting shirt and birch clout (so called) and flannel leggings. I had my powder horn and shot pouch on my side, and placed the butt of my gun under my head. Five of our company lay on the east side of the fire and James Templeton and myself on the west; we were lying on our left sides, myself in front, with my right hand hold of my gun. Templeton was lying close behind me. This was our position and all asleep when we were fired upon by a party of Indians. Immediately after the fire, they rushed upon us with tomahawks as if determined to finish the work of death they had begun. It appeared that one Indian shot on my side of the fire. I saw the flash of the gun and felt the ball pass through me, but could not tell where, nor was it at first painful. I sprang to take up my gun, but my right shoulder came to the ground, I made another effort and was half bent getting up, when an Indian sprang past the fire with savage fierceness, and struck me with his tomahawk. From the position I was in, it went between two ribs just behind the back bone, a little below the kidney, and penetrated the cavity of the body. He then immediately turned to Templeton, (who by this time had got to his feet with his gun in his hand) and seized his gun. A desperate scuffle ensued, but Templeton held on and finally bore off the gun. In the meantime I made from the light, and in my attempt to get out of sight I was delayed for a moment by getting my right arm fast between a tree and sapling, but, having got clear and away from the light of the fire, and finding that I had lost the power of my right arm, I made a shift to keep it up, by drawing it through the straps on my shot pouch. I could see the crowd about the fire, but the firing had ceased, and the strife seemed to be over. I had reason to believe that the others were all shot and tomahawked. Hearing no one coming towards me, I resolved to go to the river, and if possible, to get into the canoe and float down, thinking by that means I might possibly reach Point Pleasant, supposed to be about 100 miles distant. Just as I got on the beach a little below the canoe, an Indian in the canoe gave a whoop, which gave me to understand that it would be best to withdraw. I did so. And with much difficulty got to an old log, and being very thirsty, faint and exhausted, I was glad to sit down. I felt the blood running, and heard it dropping on the leaves all around me.
Presently I heard the Indians board the canoe and float past. All was now silent and I felt myself in a most forlorn condition. I could not see the fire, but determined to find it, and see if any of my comrades were still alive. I steered the course which I supposed the fire to be, and having reached it, I found Templeton alive, but wounded nearly in the same way that I was. Jas. Wernock was also dangerously wounded, two balls having passed through his body; Jos. M'Nutt was dead and scalped; D. Perry was wounded, but not badly, and Isaac Greer was missing.--The miseries of that hour cannot well be described.
"When day light apeared, we held a council, and concluded, that inasmuch as one gun and some ammunition was saved, Perry could furnish us with meat, and we would proceed by slow marches, up the river to the nearest settlement, supposed to be 100 miles. A small quantity of provision, which was found scattered around the fire, was picked up and distributed among us, and a piece of blanket which was saved from the fire, was given to me to cover the wound on my back. On examination it was found that two balls had passed through my right arm a little above the joint, and that the bone was broken; to dress this, splinters were taken from a tree near the fire that had been shivered with lightning, and placed on the outside of my hunting shirt and bound tight with a string. And now being in readiness to move, Perry took the gun and ammunition, and we all got to our feet except Wernock, who on attempting to get up, fell back to the ground. He refused to try again--said that he could not live--and at the same time desired us to do the best we could for ourselves. Perry then took hold of his arm and told him if he would get up we could carry him--upon this he made another effort to get up, but falling back again as before, he begged us in the most solemn manner, to leave him. At his request the old kettle was filled with water, and placed at his side, which he said was the last and only favour he required of us, and then again conjured us to leave him and try to save ourselves, assuring us, that should he live to see us again, he would cast no reflections of unkindness upon us.--Thus we left him. When we had got a little distance, I looked back, and distressed and hopeless as Wernock's condition really was, I felt to envy it. After going about one hundred poles, we were obliged to stop and rest, and found ourselves too sick and weak to proceed. Another consultation being held, it was agreed that Templeton and myself should remain there with Edward Mitchell, and Perry should take the gun and go to the nearest settlement and seek relief.--Perry promised that if he could not procure assistance, he would be back himself in four days. He then returned to the camp, and found Wernock in the same state of mind as he was when we left him, perfectly rational and sensible of his condition, replenished his kettle with water, brought us some fire, and started for the settlement.
"Alike unable to go back or forward, and being very thirsty, we set about getting water from a small stream that happened to be near us, our only drinking vessel was an old wool hat, which was so broken that it was with much difficulty made to hold so that each one could get a drink from once filling it. Nothing could have been a greater luxury to us than a drink of water from the old hat. Just at night Mitchell returned to see if Wernock was still living, intending if he was dead, to get the kettle for us--he arrived there just in time to see him expire; but not choosing to leave him till he should be certain that he was dead, he stayed with him till dark came on, and when he attempted to return to us, he got lost and lay from us all night. We suffered much that night for the want of fire, and through fear that he was either killed, or that he had run off; but happily for us, our fears were groundless, for next morning at sunrise he found his way to our camp. That day we moved about two hundred yards up a deep ravine and farther from the river. The weather, which had been cold and frosty, now became a little warmer and commenced raining. Those that were with me could set up, but I had no other alternative but to lie on my back on the ground, with my right arm over my body. The rain continuing, next day Mitchell took an excursion to examine the hills, and not far distant he found a rock projecting from the cliff sufficient to shelter us from the rain, to which place we very gladly removed. Mitchell kept a station on the river, in hopes of seeing some boat pass which might be brought to our relief. He also gathered paupaus for us, which were our only food, except perhaps a few grapes.
"Time moved slowly on until Saturday. In the mean time we talked over the danger to which Perry was exposed, the distance he had to go, and the improbability of his returning. When the time had expired which he had allowed himself, we concluded that if he was alive he would return, and that we would wait for him until Monday, and if he did not come then, and no relief should be afforded, we would attempt to travel to Point Pleasant. The third day after our defeat, my arm became very painful. The splinters and sleves of my shirt were so cemented together with blood,and stuck so fast to my arm, that it required the application of warm water nearly a whole day to loosen them so that they could be taken off; when this was done, I had my arm dressed with the white-oak leaves, which had a very good effect. On Saturday about twelve o'clock, Mitchell came with his bosom full of paupaus, and placed them convenient to us, and returned to his station on the river. He had been gone about an hour, when to our great joy, we beheld his coming with a company of men. When they approached us, we found that our own trusty friend and companion, David Perry, had returned to our assistance, with Capt. John Walls, his officers and most of his company.Our feelings of gratitude may possibly be conceived, but words can never describe them--suffice it to say, that these eyes flowed down plenteously with tears, and I was so completely overwhelmed with joy, that I fell to the ground. On my recovering, we were taken to the river, and refreshed plentifully with provisions which the captain had brought, and had our wounds dressed by an experienced man who came for the purpose. We were afterwards described by the Captain to be in a most forlorn and pitiable condition, more like corpses beginning to putrify than living beings.
"The cliff which sheltered us from the rain, is situated on a ridge about one hundred poles from the ridge, south about five feet from the opening or cavity below, which might have been twenty feet from east to west. While we remained there, the howling of the wolves in the direction of the fatal spot, whence we had so narrowly escaped with out lives, left no doubt that they were feasting on the bodies of our much lamented friends, M'Nutt and Wernock. While we were refreshing ourselves at the river, and having our wounds dressed, Captain Walls went with some of his men to the place of our defeat, and collected the bones of our late companions, and buried them with the utmost expedition and care. We were then conducted by water, to Captain Walls' station at Grave creek on the Ohio river, ten or twelve miles below Wheeling."