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goods of a Spanish merchant in retaliation for wrongs committed on American merchants by the Spaniards.
This failure was in small part offset by a successful expedition led by Logan at the same time against the Shawnee towns.53 On October 5th, he attacked them with seven hundred and ninety men. There was little or no resistance, most of the warriors having gone to oppose Clark. Logan took ten scalps and thirty-two prisoners, burned two hundred cabins and quantities of corn, and returned in triumph after a fortnight's absence. One deed of infamy sullied his success. Among his colonels was the scoundrel McGarry, who, in cold blood, murdered the old Shawnee chief, Molunthee, several hours after he had been captured; the shame of the barbarous deed being aggravated by the fact that the old chief had always been friendly to the Americans.54 Other murders would probably have followed, had it not been for the prompt and honorable action of Colonels Robert Patterson and Robert Trotter, who ordered their men to shoot down any one who molested another prisoner. McGarry then threatened them, and they in return demanded that he be court-martialled for murder.5 Logan, to his discredit, reHenry. Draper MSS., Proceedings of Committee of Kentucky Convention, Dec. 19, 1786.
53 State Department MSS., Virginia State Papers, Logan to Patrick Henry, December 17, 1786.
54 Draper MSS., Caleb Wallace to Wm. Fleming, October 23, 1786. State Department MSS., No. 15, Vol. II, Harmar's Letter, November 15, 1786. 65 Virginia State Papers, Vol. IV, p. 212.
fused the court-martial, for fear of creating further trouble. The bane of the frontier military organization was the helplessness of the elected commanders, their dependence on their followers, and the inability of the decent men to punish the atrocious misdeeds of their associates.
These expeditions were followed by others on a smaller scale, but of like character. They did enough damage to provoke, but not to overawe, the Indians. With the spring of 1787 the ravages began on an enlarged scale, with all their dreadful accompaniments of rapine, murder, and torture. All along the Ohio frontier, from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, the settlers were harried; and in some places they abandoned their clearings and hamlets, so that the frontier shrank back.56 Logan, Kenton, and many other leaders headed counter expeditions, and now and then broke up a war party or destroyed an Indian town ;57 but nothing decisive was accomplished, and Virginia paralyzed the efforts of the Kentuckians and waked them to anger by forbidding them to follow the Indian parties beyond the frontier.58
The most important stroke given to the hostile Indians in 1787 was dealt by the Cumberland people. During the preceding three or four years, some scores of the settlers on the Cumberland had
56 Durrett MSS., Daniel Dawson to John Campbell, Pittsburg, June 17, 1787. Virginia State Papers, Vol. IV, p. 419.
57 Draper MSS.; T. Brown to T. Preston, Danville, June 13, 1787. Virginia State Papers, Vol. IV, pp. 254, 287, etc.
Virginia State Papers, Vol. IV, p. 344.
been slain by small predatory parties of Indians, mostly Cherokees and Creeks. No large war band attacked the settlements; but no hunter, surveyor, or traveler, no woodchopper or farmer, no woman alone in the cabin with her children, could ever feel safe from attack. Now and then a savage was killed in such an attack, or in a skirmish with some body of scouts; but nothing effectual could be thus accomplished
The most dangerous marauders were some Creek and Cherokee warriors who had built a town on the Coldwater, a tributary of the Tennessee near the Muscle Shoals, within easy striking distance of the Cumberland settlements. This town was a favorite resort of French traders from the Illinois and Wabash, who came up the Tennessee in bateaux. They provided the Indians with guns and ammunition, and in return often received goods plundered from the Americans; and they at least indirectly and in some cases directly encouraged the savages in their warfare against the settlers. 59
Early in June, Robertson gathered one hundred and thirty men and marched against the Coldwater town, with two Chickasaws as guides. Another small party started at the same time by water, but fell into an ambush, and then came back. Robertson and his force followed the trail of a marauding
59 Robertson MSS., Robertson to some Frenchman of note in Illinois, June, 1787. This is apparently a copy, probably by Robertson's wife, of the original letter. In Robertson's own original letters, the spelling and handwriting are as rough as they are vigorous.
party which had just visited the settlements. They marched through the woods toward the Tennessee until they heard the voice of the great river as it roared over the shoals. For a day they lurked in the cane on the north side, waiting until they were certain no spies were watching them. In the night some of the men swam over and stole a big canoe, with which they returned. At daylight the troops crossed, a few in this canoe, the others swimming with their horses. After landing, they marched seven miles and fell on the town, which was in a ravine, with cornfields round about. Taken by surprise, the warriors, with no effective resistance, fled to their canoes. The white riflemen thronged after them. Most of the warriors escaped, but over twenty were slain; as were also four or five French traders, while half a dozen Frenchmen and one Indian squaw were captured. All the cabins were destroyed, the live stock was slain, and much plunder taken. The prisoners were well treated and released; but on the way home another party of French traders were encountered, and their goods were taken from them. The two Chickasaws were given their full share of all the plunder.
This blow gave a breathing spell to the Cumberland settlements. Robertson at once wrote to the French in the Illinois country, and also to some Delawares, who had recently come to the neighborhood, and were preserving a dubious neutrality. He explained the necessity of their expedition, and remarked that if any innocent people, whether French
men or Indians, had suffered in the attack, they had to blame themselves; they were in evil company, and the assailants could not tell the good from the bad. If any Americans had been there, they would have suffered just the same. In conclusion he warned the French that if their traders continued to furnish the hostile Indians with powder and lead, they would "render themselves very insecure”; and to the Indians he wrote that, in the event of a war, "you will compell ous to retaliate, which will be a grate pridgedes to your nation." 60
He did not spell well; but his meaning was plain, and his hand was known to be heavy.
60 Robertson MSS. His letter above referred to, and another, in his own hand, to the Delawares, of about the same date.