Boys' Book of Indian Warriors - Edwin Sabin

Cornstalk Leads the Warriors (1774–1777)

How he and Logan Strove and Died

At the last of September a Shawnee scout ran breathless into the Chief Cornstalk town. He brought word that far across the Ohio River, in north-western (now West) Virginia, he and his comrade had met a great column of Long Knives, advancing over the mountains, as if to invade the Indian country. His comrade had been killed. He himself had come back, with the word.

Taking eleven hundred warriors—the pick of the Shawnees, the fighting Delawares, the Wyandots, the Mingo Cayugas and the Mingo Senecas—Chief Cornstalk marched rapidly down to give battle.

There really were two American columns, on their way to destroy the Shawnee and Mingo towns in interior Ohio.

The Division of Northern and Western Virginia, twelve hundred men, had mustered at Fort Pitt (Pittsburg, Pennsylvania), in the territory disputed by Virginia and Pennsylvania. It was under command of Lord Dunmore himself, governor of Virginia for the king of England.

The Division of Southern and Eastern Virginia, fifteen hundred men, had mustered at Lewisburg, West Virginia. It was under command of General Andrew Lewis, a valiant soldier.

The Lord Dunmore division was to march south, the General Lewis division was to march west; the two were to join forces at Point Pleasant, where on the border of West Virginia the Big Kanawha River empties into the noble Ohio.

Cornstalk moved fast. He had as aides Logan of the Cayugas, Chi-ya-wee of the Wyandots, Scop-pathus of the Senecas, young Red Hawk of the fighting Delawares, his own son El-li-nip-si-co—noted chiefs, all. Among the Shawnee sub-chiefs was Puckee-shinwah, father of a boy named Tecumseh who grew to the greatness of Pontiac.

The General Lewis division had arrived first at the mouth of the Big Kanawha. On the evening of October 9, from the opposite side of the Ohio, Cornstalk's and Logan's men sighted them there, in camp.

Fresh news had come to Cornstalk. He had learned of the other division, under Lord Dunmore. He had learned that the column across from him was equal to his own force, and that another detachment of it was hurrying on its trail.

In a council of the chiefs and principal warriors he proposed that he go over, in person, and treat for peace. But all his men voted him down.

"Very well," he replied. "If you are resolved to fight, then fight you shall. We must not delay. It is likely that we shall have hard work tomorrow, but if any warrior attempts to run away, I will kill him with my own hand."

This night the warriors ferried the Ohio, above the camp, by means of seventy-eight rafts. They worked hard, and formed for battle at daybreak.

"We will make a line behind the Long Knives," ordered Cornstalk, "and drive them forward like bullocks into the two rivers."

Most of the Virginians were asleep in their tents, when, before sunrise, two of their hunters, seeking deer for breakfast, found the Indian army, already in battle array, and covering, as one of the hunters excitedly reported, "four acres of ground."

But these Virginians were no fools. Of the eleven hundred here, wellnigh every man had been a buck-skin borderer, deadly with rifle, tomahawk and knife, and up to all Indian tricks. They were fairly drilled, too, as militia. A number of the officers had fought under Major George Washington, when on the fatal Braddock's Field, in 1755, the American Rangers had tried to save the day from the French, and from Pontiac's whooping warriors.

They all had marched for five weeks across one hundred and sixty miles of trackless mountain country, driving their pack-horses and their herds of beef cattle; now they rallied briskly to save their lives. It was nip and tuck.

From before sunrise until sunset raged the great battle of Point Pleasant, or the Big Kanawha. It was the first pitched battle between simon-pure Americans—but the Revolution was near and after this the Americans were to do their own fighting.

The lines were over a mile long, rarely more than twenty yards apart, frequently less than six yards apart, and sometimes mingling. The armies were equal.

Both sides fought Indian fashion, from behind trees and brush. Rifle met rifle, tomahawk met tomahawk, knife met knife. The air was filled with whoops and cheers. Able chiefs faced able chiefs—on the white American side there were leaders who soon became more famous in the Revolution and in the history of the new nation.

It was a long-famous battle. A ballad written upon it was frequently sung, on the frontier:

Let us mind the tenth day of October,

Seventy-four, which caused woe;

The Indian savages they did cover

The pleasant banks of the O-hi-o.

The battle beginning in the morning,

Throughout the day it lashed sore,

Till the evening shades they were returning

Upon the banks of the O-hi-o.

Seven score lay dead and wounded.

Of champions that did face their foe,

By which the heathens were confounded,

Upon the banks of the O-hi-o.

Col. Lewis and noble captains

Did down to death like Uriah go.

Alas, their heads wound up in napkins,

Upon the banks of the O-hi-o.

O bless the mighty King of Heaven

For all his wondrous works below,

Who hath to us the victory given,

Upon the banks of the O-hi-o.

Logan was seen here, there, everywhere. So was Cornstalk. His mighty voice was heard above the din, like the voice of old Annawan when King Philip had been surprised. "Be strong! Be strong!" he appealed to his warriors. With his tomahawk he struck down a skulker. That had been his promise, in the council.

All this October day the battle continued. In single encounters, man to man, valorous deeds were done.

Cornstalk proved himself a worthy general. When his line bent back, before the discipline of the Long Knives, it was only to form an ambush, and then the whites were bent back. He had early placed his warriors across the base of the point, so that they held the whites in the angle of the two rivers. They dragged logs and brush to position, as breast-works. "We will drive the Long Knives into the rivers like so many bullocks."

That was not to be. Two of General Lewis's colonels had fallen; the Indian fire was very severe and accurate; but after vainly trying to feel out the end of the red line, the general at last succeeded, toward evening, in sending a company around.

Chief Cornstalk thought that this company, appearing in his rear, was the absent part of the division. Lest he be caught between two fires, he swung about and skillfully withdrew.

The battle slackened, at dusk. This night he safely removed his army across the Ohio again, that they might avoid the Lord Dunmore division and protect their towns in Ohio.

Nearly all the Indian bodies found, and nearly 1111 the Virginians killed and wounded, were shot in the head or the breast. That was the marksmanship and the kind of fighting!

The Long Knives lost seventy-five men killed and one hundred and fifty wounded. They lost two great chiefs: Colonel Charles Lewis, the brother of the general, and Colonel John Field—both Braddock men; six captains and as many lieutenants were killed, also.

The Indians said that had they known how to clean their rifles, they would have done better. Cornstalk and Logan lost the sub-chief Puck-ee-shin-wah, but only forty or fifty others in killed and wounded. But when they hastened for their towns they found them in danger from the Lord Dunmore column.

Governor Dunmore sent Chief White-eyes, of the Delawares, who had not joined in the war, to ask Chief Cornstalk for a talk. Chief White-eyes returned with no answer, for the Cornstalk chiefs were in bitter council.

Cornstalk addressed them:

"You would not make peace before Point Pleasant; what is your voice now, when the Long Knives are pressing on in two columns?"

There was no reply.

"We cannot save our villages," he continued. "If your voice is for war, let us first kill our women and children. Then let us warriors go out and fight like men until we, too, are killed."

Still no reply. Cornstalk dashed his hatchet into the council post.

"You act like children," he thundered. "I will go and make peace, myself."

And leaving his hatchet sticking in the post, go he did.

Logan had not been here. He was away, down in Virginia, scouting with his Mingos, and delivering his note to Captain Cresap. On October 21 he arrived with scalps.

He refused to meet the governor.

"Tell the governor that I am a warrior, not a councillor," he bade.

His sore heart was not yet healed. His Mingos were for war. The Revolution was brewing, and Governor Dunmore was anxious to be about his own affairs. So he sought out Logan with two messengers, Scout Simon Girty, and Trader John Gibson, who spoke the Mingo tongue. They returned with Logan's stubborn answer, written out by John Gibson:

I appeal to any white to say, if ever he entered Logan's cabin hungry, and he gave him not meat; if ever he came cold and naked, and he clothed him not.

During the course of the last long, bloody war [the French and Indian and the Pontiac war] Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed as they passed, and said, "Logan is the friend of the white men."

I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man. Col. Cresap. the last spring, in cold blood, and unprovoked, murdered all the relatives of Logan; not even sparing my women and children.

There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it. I have killed many. I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country, I rejoice at the beams of peace. But do not harbor a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one!

Trader Gibson reported that while making this speech, Logan wept. The sad-hearted chief probably did not put his words in exactly this order, but they made a great sensation. Soon they were being repeated throughout all the Ohio River country, and east of the Alleghanies, in towns, cabins and camps.

"Who is there to mourn for Logan?" would ask some voice, in the circle. And another voice would reply, with deep feeling: "Not one!"

President Thomas Jefferson included the speech in a book that he published—"Notes on Virginia," and said that he challenged the orations of the world to produce anything better.

It was copied into other books. School-children memorized it, for "speaking day"; grown people used it, in contests; and for one hundred years it was the favorite platform piece. Thus Logan lived in the white man's words.

Still Logan did not come in to the peace talk held with Governor Dunmore, southeast of present Circleville in south central Ohio. The Shawnees and Delawares said:

"Logan is like a mad dog. His bristles are up; they are not yet fallen, but the good talk may smooth them down."

He stayed close in his cabin, up the Scioto River, and Cornstalk spoke for the Shawnees, Delawares and Wyandots. It was another great address.

"I have heard the first orators of Virginia—Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee," declared Colonel Benjamin Wilson, of Dunmore's men, "but never have I heard one whose powers surpassed those of Cornstalk on that occasion."

Cornstalk told of the wrongs suffered by the Indians, in their hunting grounds; how they were losing the lands of their fathers, and were being cheated by the white men. He asked that nobody be permitted to trade, on private account, with the Indians, but that the Government should send in goods, to be exchanged for skins and furs, and that no "fire water" should enter into the business, for "from fire water there comes evil. "

Then he buried the hatchet. He never dug it up. When the Revolution broke, in 1776, and the British agents urged the Indians to strike the post again and help their great father, the king, Cornstalk held firm for friendship with the Americans.

In the spring of 1777, he and young Red Hawk the Delaware, and another Indian came down to the American fort that had been built on the battle field of Point Pleasant at the mouth of the Big Kanawha of the West Virginia border.

"My Shawnees are restless," he warned. "The current sets so strongly against the Americans, that I fear my people will disobey me and float with the stream."

Captain Matthew Arbuckle was the commander of the fort. He kept the Cornstalk party as hostages for the good behavior of the Shawnees. Cornstalk did not object, but spent much time in talking with the officers, and in kindly drawing maps of the Ohio country, for them.

One day in a council he said:

"When I was young and went to war, I often thought, each might be my last adventure, and I should return no more. I still lived. Now I am in the midst of you, and if you choose, you may kill me. I can die but once. It is alike to me, whether now or hereafter."

Those brave words were not forgotten. This same day somebody shouted loudly from the opposite side of the Ohio. It was the young Chief Ellinipsico. He had not known what had happened to his father, and had traveled many miles, seeking him.

Cornstalk called him over. There was much rejoicing in the reunion; they loved each other dearly.

On the very next day two soldiers, named Hamilton and Gilmore, went over the Kanawha River, to hunt. The majority of the Ohio Indians were now helping the British. Some of the hostile warriors, lurking in West Virginia, fired on the two men and killed Gilmore.

Instantly the cry arose among the soldiers at the fort, that Ellinipsico had planned the ambush. Ellinipsico denied it. He said that he had come alone, on purpose to find his old father.

But that made no difference. Captain John Hall and squad were returning in a canoe bearing the body of Gilmore.

"Let us go and kill those Indians in the fort!" Captain Arbuckle and Private Stuart tried in vain to force them back. In their cabin, of the fort, the Chief Cornstalk party had been told by a white woman that they were in danger. They now heard the Captain Hall men approaching. Young Ellinipsico grew frightened, but his father steadied him.

"My son," said Cornstalk, "the Great Spirit has seen fit that we should die together, and has sent you here to that end. It is his will, and let us submit—it is all for the best."

He faced the door, and stood calmly waiting. Without a word or a struggle he fell dead, pierced through the front by seven bullets. Ellinipsico was now calm, also. He did not even stand, and thus he died, not moving. He was a worthy son of Cornstalk. Young Red Hawk was a Delaware and, hoping to be spared, he crept into the fire-place chimney. But he was dragged out, to death. The fourth Indian fought with his hands, and was cut to pieces.

The murderers of the generous, noble-hearted Cornstalk were never punished, but they certainly were not admired. The white men who had met him in war and in peace mourned him as much as the red men did. And from that day the Shawnee nation "became the most deadly foe to the inhabitants of the frontiers." Who may blame them?

Meanwhile Logan was living in misery, but he was soon to follow Chief Cornstalk. His end was far less happy. He had not been much heard from lately. After he had refused to meet the Long Knives in a peace talk, the troops had destroyed some of his villages. He and a band of his Mingos retreated northward toward the Great Lakes.

The Mingos aided the British, but Logan pursued fire-water more frequently than he did war. He never got over his grief. It had bitten him too deeply, and had poisoned his thoughts. Still, the good in him cropped out.

When in 1778 the famous American scout Simon Kenton had been captured by the Shawnees, he was taken, by the torture trail, to the village in northern Ohio where Logan was living.

He had little hopes, but Logan walked over to him.

"Well, young man," said Logan in good English, "these other young men seem very mad at you."

"Yes, sir; they certainly are," frankly answered Simon Kenton. Already one arm had been almost cut from his shoulder, by an axe.

Logan gravely smiled. "Well, don't be disheartened. I am a great chief. You are to go to Sandusky; they speak of burning you there, but I will send two runners tomorrow to speak good for you."

That was the real spirit of Logan. The two runners were sent, and Simon felt much encouraged. During the next day he was well treated in the village. He and Logan talked together freely.

In the evening the two runners returned. They went straight to Logan's lodge, but no word came to Kenton. Now he feared again. He feared more, when in the morning Logan himself approached him, said only, "You are to be taken at once to Sandusky," gave him a piece of bread and whirling on his heel strode gloomily away.

Evidently the power of Logan had weakened, the Shawnees had not listened, and Sandusky, north on the Sandusky River, was waiting with the stake.

So Simon Kenton journeyed unwillingly onward, to be saved, at the last moment, by the British. But Logan had done his best. After this he drank harder, until his mind was injured. He had flashes of good, and he had longer flashes of bad. He seemed bent upon doing as much harm to himself as he could.

Then, in 1780, one day at Detroit he thought that while drunk he had killed his Shawnee wife. He imagined that he was being arrested; and in the fight that he made he was shot dead by his own nephew, on the road between Detroit and Sandusky.

Many mourned Cornstalk. "Who was there to mourn Logan"—the "friend of the white man?"

"Not one!"

But the name "Logan" was worn, like a badge of honor, by others in the Mingo people.