Boys' Book of Frontier Fighters - Edwin Sabin

The Attack on Logan's Station

and the Noble Deed of Captain Logan

Upon the old Indian frontier of Virginia and Kentucky the year 1777 was known as "the three bloody sevens." The American settlers had crossed the Cumberland Mountains dividing Virginia and Kentucky, to make new homes in a fair land reported upon by the great Daniel Boone.

John Findlay of North Carolina had been the first to explore Kentucky, in 1767. His story of his trip and of the wonderfully fertile realm that he had discovered stirred the hearts of the Boone brothers. In 1769 Daniel Boone, his brother-in-law John Stuart, Joseph Holden, James Mooney and William Cooley, guided by the old but stout-limbed Findlay (a peddler by trade and a hunter by nature) crossed the Cumberland Gap Mountain of eastern Kentucky, and with horses and packs traveled still westward into that country where white foot had only once before trodden.

But they had confidence in John Findlay. Daniel Boone had scouted with him a dozen years back, when General Braddock, his British regulars and his Virginia riflemen, had been shattered by the French and Indians south of Pittsburgh.

They found Kain-tuck-ee to be all that fancy painted.

So four years later, in September, 1773, the two Boone brothers, Daniel and Squire, with their families and five other families and a total of forty men, started out to open the way in earnest. But before they had crossed the Gap, on October 10 their rear was attacked by the Shawnees and Cherokees. It was a sad day for Daniel Boone—his oldest son, James Boone, aged seventeen, was killed, and five others.

They had been on the road only fourteen days. So, to save the women and children they turned homeward.

But Kentucky was not forgotten. Nothing stops Americans when their faces are set westward, and the long trail beckons.

The next year Daniel Boone and party went into Kentucky again. They found James Harrod of Virginia building Harrodsburg, south of the Kentucky River in central Kentucky. He had come in from the north; Daniel Boone and companion Michael Stoner from the east.

This James Harrod was a man of valor. At sixteen years of age he was a young soldier in the French and Indian War. He loved the scout trail, and grew up to be one of the best sign-readers among all the "Long Hunters of Kentucky." He was tall, silent, swarthy—as dark as the Indians whom he tracked. They called him the "Lone Long Knife." When he was fifty years of age, or in 1792, he left his wife and daughter, on his last journey through the forests. After that February day he never appeared again, nor did word of him come back.

But in 1774 he had founded Harrodsburg—or Harrod's Fort, as it was known. Daniel Boone visited with him and his thirty. A company was formed of North Carolina and Virginia settlers, who by treaty with the Cherokees purchased all southern Kentucky. In March of the next year, 1775, Daniel Boone led thirty men who with their hatchets blazed a bridle-trail of two hundred miles, from southwestern Virginia across Cumberland Gap and on into the northwest clear to the Kentucky River. "Boone's Trace" and the "Wilderness Road" was the name of the path.

April 1 they commenced Boone's Fort of Boonesborough, on the south bank of the Kentucky eighteen miles southeast of present Lexington. Then there came the women, in September: for Boonesborough, Daniel Boone's wife Rebecca and their daughters; for Harrod's, Mrs. Hugh McGary, Mrs. Hogan and Mrs. Denton. These were the first white women in Kentucky.

There came, also, the same year, from the Holston River in southwestern Virginia, the noble Benjamin Logan, of Irish birth but as dark in hair and complexion as James Harrod. Since the age of fourteen he had been caring for his mother, his brothers and sisters.

While Boonesborough was being built and Harrod's Fort was not yet completed, he founded his own settlement of Logan's Station, or Fort Asaph, at Stanford of to-day, about thirty-five miles southwest of Boonesborough, and twenty miles southeast of Harrod's. Now, by the close of 1775, here was a triangle of three white men's settlements, in central Kentucky. The "Long Hunters" had arrived, to stay. The first homes of any human being had been planted.

No Indians had placed villages in Kentucky. The Indians only hunted and warred here. It was to them the Dark and Bloody Ground. The Cherokees had sold, but the Shawnees and their allies of the Northern Confederacy—the Miamis, Wyandots, and all—with headquarters in Ohio, also claimed Kentucky for their hunting reserve. The Shawnees had not been consulted in the treaty with the Cherokees. Following the fierce and bloody battle of Point Pleasant in October, 1774, peace had been declared between the Northern Confederacy and the Long-Knife Virginians; nevertheless, here just before the war with England, British agents were stirring the Indians up against the colonists. Kentucky, said the Shawnees, must be cleared.

They swooped down upon the young settlements. On the day before Christmas, 1775, they attacked half-finished Boonesborough. After that, through some years, it was rare for a young man to die except from wounds.

By reason of the outbreak of the Revolution, in 1776, the Kentucky settlements seemed to be cut off entirely. The next winter the people of Logan's Station and the post of McClelland's Station fled to Boonesborough and Harrodsburg. In all that region there were only one hundred and fifty white men, to protect the women and children; but they were men such as Daniel Boone and his brother Squire Boone; the tough-skinned Simon Kenton whose touch and-go escapes are related in Chapter V; tall James Harrod and Benjamin Logan; George Rogers Clark, soon to found Louisville and to conquer the "Illinois country" bordering upon the Mississippi River; William Whitley, captain of Rangers; and many another, every one an expert with the flint-lock rifle.

The year of the "three bloody sevens" dawned peacefully. The Logan's Station families returned home from sheltering Harrodsburg, to till their farms. In March the Kentucky men were organized into a militia: their posts supposed to be Boonesborough, Harrodsburg and Logan's Station; their officers, George Rogers Clark as major, Daniel Boone, James Harrod, Benjamin Logan and John Todd as captains. This same month some two hundred Shawnees entered Kentucky, to wipe out the little forts.

On March 7 they first attacked Harrodsburg. Harrodsburg resisted so bravely that they drew off, to try Boonesborough. A great storm of sleet and snow halted them, and not until April 24 did one hundred of them appear before Boone's Fort. Daniel Boone and Squire Boone, their less than twenty men and their heroic women fought the good fight and won; but it was a close shave. Daniel Boone almost was tomahawked, and owed his life to young Simon Kenton.

The Shawnees under Chief Black Fish marched for Logan's Station.

They should have tried Logan's Station first. It mustered a garrison of only thirteen rifle-bearers, and was the weakest of the three stockades. Now it had heard from the two other forts, and had done its best to get ready. But it was short of provisions and of ammunition.

The Indians cunningly took their time. At last the Logan people grew hopeful that there would be no attack, for nearly a month had passed since the attack upon Boonesborough. Early in the morning of Friday, May 30, Mrs. Ann Logan, Mrs. William Whitley and a negress servant went out to milk the cows; William Hudson, Burr Harrison, John Kennedy and James Craig were their bodyguard. Suddenly, from a brake of cane, there burst a volley. The Indians!

The persons in the fort rushed to the pickets. They saw the three women and James Craig running wildly in. They saw John Kennedy staggering after. He had four bullets to carry. They saw William Hudson, dead, and being scalped, and Burr Harrison limp upon the ground.

In through the gateway rushed the three women and James Craig; protected by the rifles, John Kennedy lurched through, also. The heavy gate was quickly barred, while bullets pattered against the close-set palings. Then there arose the cry:

"Harrison! Look at Burr! He's trying to make in!"

He had fallen in the full open, half way between the fort and the cane brake. Now he was working hard to crawl for the gate. He could drag himself only a few feet at a time. The Indians let him alone; the men and women peered anxiously through the cracks in the palisades—his frenzied wife and children cried piteously, urging him on.

But he collapsed in a patch of thin brush, and lay lax, plain to see.

Captain Logan sprang to the gate.

"Who will go with me to rescue Burr Harrison?" he thundered.

The voices of the women were stilled; the men hesitated, looking one upon another. The Indians evidently were waiting for just such a try. How many lurked in the thicket? Who might tell? A report from those days says fifty-seven; chronicles say one hundred, two hundred. It is difficult to count Indians skulking amidst bushes and trees. At any rate there were plenty. One hundred had attacked Harrodsburg; a like number had attacked Boonesborough; probably one hundred guns commanded the gateway of Logan's Station.

It looked to be certain death for any two men venturing outside.

"Who will go with me to rescue Burr Harrison?" Captain Logan repeated, seeking right and left with his dark face and flashing black eyes. His brave wife uttered never a word to hold him back.

"I'd be your man, Cap, but I'm weakly yet," spoke one.

"I'm sorry for Burr, but in a case like this the skin is tighter than the shirt," muttered another.

"Will you let Captain Logan go alone?" reproached the women.

"No. I'm with you, Cap," exclaimed John Martin. "A man can die but once, and I'm as ready now as I'll ever be."

"Open the gate. Keep the savages off us. That's all we ask," Captain Logan ordered.

He and John Martin stood, braced for their dash. The gate was swung ajar, and instantly they dived through. But as if he had gained strength, Burr Harrison rose to his knees. Seeing, John Martin whirled and leaped back under cover again. He afterward explained that he thought Burr was coming in of himself, and rifles would be needed more in the fort than outside.

Captain Logan only paused; then, crouched, he darted on, for Harrison had toppled. During the space of just a moment or two the Indians were silent. Now, before he had reached his goal, a musket whanged, from the thicket—a second followed—the firing swelled to a volley, while the stockade answered.

Was he down? No, not yet. He had seized Burr, and hoisting him in his two arms was coming at a plunging run through the spatter of bullets and the drift of powder-smoke.

The gate swung wider. He was here—he panted in, out-sped by the balls but still on his feet. Eager hands received him and his burden; the gate slammed to and the bar fell into place.

"Hurt, Logan?"

"No. Never mind me; watch the walls."

There were bullet-holes in his shirt and hat. The gate and the pickets enclosing it were riddled, but by a miracle the lead had not touched his flesh.

The women tended to Burr. He was grievously wounded—he lived six weeks and died in his bed, which was better than dying by torture or the tomahawk. So Captain Logan's hero deed had not been in vain.

The rescue made the Indians very angry. They laid themselves to the siege, and so briskly they maintained it that there was no rest for the little garrison of only ten able-bodied men, nor was there any chance for succor from Harrodsburg or Boonesborough.

Within less than a week the ammunition was almost spent, and the food alarmingly low. Help must be summoned from the Holston settlement on the Holston River in southwestern Virginia, two hundred miles by Boone's Trace.

How many might be spared from the feeble garrison? Not more than two—not more than one; and after a short debate, Captain Logan himself set out, in the night of June 6.

It was a forlorn hope, but he slipped out amidst the darkness, by way of a loosened picket in the rear of the stockade, and vanished. The garrison strained their ears, listening. They heard nothing, and breathed a sigh of relief. For an hour more they listened, fearing sudden burst of whoops and shots. Silence reigned. Good! Captain Logan was through the lines by this time.

But could he make it, when all the surrounding country was being watched by the Shawnee scouts? He had planned to avoid the Boone Trace. That surely would be guarded close; it was the white man's road. He was to follow no trail at all, and the wilderness had swallowed him.

Two weeks passed. There was no token of any nature from Captain Logan. Likely enough he had perished; the bullet, the tomahawk, perhaps the torture stake, had stopped him. His wife was in despair, and the garrison were beginning to despair, for the powder had dwindled, and the Indians had relaxed their relentless circle for never an instant. It seemed impossible that a man could get through them, going or coming.

In the night of June 23 the guards heard a scratching on the loose picket. A trick? Be careful.

"Hist! It's I—Logan."

What! They stood aside, with hatchets lifted; but he it was, for he poked a pack ahead of him, and slipped in after.

He told his story. Five hundred miles, at least, he had trudged, always at top speed, day and night; making his own trail, through tangled vines, across streams, up and down lonely gorges; and now he brought powder, and the promise of reinforcements.

In all his journey eastward and westward he had not been sighted by an Indian. It was a trip long remembered in the border country.

With such a leader, no garrison would yield. Logan's Station was filled with courage and hope renewed. It fought on, day after day, night after night, constantly expecting the reinforcements. Finally it seemed that Captain Logan's venture had been for naught; a month had elapsed since his return, and the reinforcements had not arrived. Once more the powder was low, and by this time the scanty provisions had been reduced to miserably small rations.

This was August 23. The end appeared near. On August 25 gun shots sounded, in the timber behind the Shawnee lines. Indians were running. Relief had come—the reinforcements were breaking through! Hurrah!

No! The gun-fire ceased. Hope died again. The Indians were too thick. Logan's Station settled for another night of waiting.

But the next morning, where were the Shawnees? From the stockade weary eyes searched to locate the shadowy forms. All was quiet. What had happened? If the Indians actually were gone, that could mean only one thing: relief. Could it be true, at last?

Within a short time, amidst the cheers of the men and the sobs of the women Colonel John Bowman led his column of Virginians straight into the widely open gate of the fort.

He had brought from the Holston one hundred rifle-men. He had already been at Boonesborough—therefore his delay. From Boonesborough he had advanced for Logan's Station, sweeping the timber. The Shawnees had ambushed six of his advance scouts, and killed two. But here he was, just in nick of time, with his hardy Long Knives, whose rifles were as much feared as the rifles of the Long Hunters.

Logan's Station, Harrodsburg and Boonesborough were saved, for the present. The Shawnees, Mingos and warring Delawares continued to watch them close.

Benjamin Logan lived on, as scout, soldier and Kentucky statesman, and died peacefully in 1802, aged fifty years.