'Thrilling Adventures Among the American Indians'

an excerpt from the 1905 work by Edward S. Ellis

The Mingo chieftain known as Logan had a fame which reached the other side of the Atlantic; he was the author of perhaps the best known speech ever delivered by one of his race.

[graphic link] Logan's Revenge, by Robert GriffingLogan was a chief like his father, but lived most of his life in the West, probably at Sandusky, or on a branch of the Scioto. A number of his warriors made their homes at these places. Why, if this chief was an Iroquois, is he called a Mingo? The explanation lies in the fact that the two words mean the same. The Iroquois are sometimes spoken of as the Mingoes, Menwes, or Maquas.

[In fact, though this apparently was unknown to Edward S. Ellis, the Mingo were a sub-group of the Seneca, one of the five original tribes of the Iroquois Nation. The Iroquois were an alliance of Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca. This confederacy formed in the early 17th century, and its members rarely negotiated with the white settlers individually thereafter. The Tuscarora joined as non-voting members in 1722. So the man known by the whites as Logan was both Mingo and Iroquois, as one today may be both a West Virginian and an American, or a citizen of both Dublin and Ireland.... For a thorough and more scholarly history of the Iroquois, see Lee Sultzman's Iroquois History ].

Logan, although one of the bravest of men, loved peace above war. Throughout the dark years before and during the plotting of Pontiac, he took no part except that of peacemaker. In time he became a most bitter enemy of the race, and if ever an Indian had good reason for such enmity, he was Logan.

In the spring of 1774, several white explorers in the Ohio country said they had been robbed by Indians of a number of horses, although it is by no means certain that such was the fact, or that, if the theft took place, that the thieves were not white men. The explorers claimed that the Indians should be taught a lesson that would prevent any more outrages.

The infamous Colonel Michael Cresap gathered a party of men as evil as himself, the members coming together on the site of the present city of Wheeling, West Virginia. Learning that some Indians were near at hand, Cresap made ready to attack them. The question of their guilt or innocence was of no concern to him. He knew he had enough men to defeat the small company, and that was all he cared to know before acting.

As if to help in the fearful crime, a canoe was seen coming from the other shore. It contained one warrior and several women and children. Hiding themselves, Cresap and his companions waited til the party had landed, and then each picked out his victim. When the guns were fired, not a single man, woman or child escaped. All these people belonged to the family of Logan, known far and near as the “friend of the white man.”

The fearful outrage against the red man brought on a war in which occurred one of the most remarkable battles between the two races that has ever been fought in our history. The event, for some reason, has not attracted the attention it deserves.

Logan was changed from a warm, unselfish friend of the white people into their bitter enemy, and he left his home with only eight warriors. Instead of attacking the settlements on the Ohio, where everybody expected the first blow would fall, he passed them by and made his way to the Muskingum, where nobody dreamed of danger.

The first white men seen were three who were pulling flax in a field. One of them was shot down, and the others taken prisoner. They traveled a long distance through the forest to the Indian village where it was ordered that the captives should run the gauntlet. This consists of the unarmed person dashing between two rows of his captors, standing a few feet from each other, all armed with clubs or knives which they strike at the unfortunate as he speeds forward and tries to dodge the cruel blows. If he succeeds in reaching the extremity of the double line, he is sometimes spared or allowed to make a break for liberty. But the ordeal is so dreadful that not one in a hundred survives it.

Logan did not like any kind of torture, and he told one of the captives how he could escape many of the blows aimed at him. The man survived, but the Indians condemned him to be burned at stake. Logan pleaded for his life … he cut the cords and caused his adoption into an Indian family.

The Shawnees and Delawares had suffered many wrongs and outrages, and they now joined in the war against the whites. The Virginia Legislature was in session when the news reached that body, and Governor Dunmore ordered the preparation of three thousand men to march against the Indians. One half of the force, under the command of General Andrew Lewis, was to march to the mouth of the Kanawha, while the governor was to lead the other half to a point on the Ohio, in order to strike the Indian towns between the two. The movement of Lewis was to draw off the main body of warriors, leaving the way open for the governor. Having destroyed the towns, he was then to form a junction with General Lewis at Point Pleasant, subsequent action of the army to be guided by circumstances.

General Lewis with eleven hundred men began his march on September 11 for Point Pleasant, 160 miles distant following the Great Kanawha. The whole distance led through a wilderness without trails (known to white men), but the force had a veteran scout of the frontier to guide them over the best route. They reached their destination on the last day of the month, and formed an intrenched (sic) camp. Lewis waited for more than a week for the coming of Dunmore, but he did not arrive, and the officer was in a quandary. The action of Governor Dunmore laid him open to the gravest charges…

On the morning of October 10, while General Lewis was still wondering and perplexed over his failure to hear from Governor Dunmore, a white man came to him with a startling story. While he and a companion were hunting deer, they ran upon a camp of a numerous body of Indians in their war paint. They fired upon the hunters and killed one, the other escaping with great difficulty by fleet running.

The news brought by this messenger left no doubt that a large force of red men were hurrying to attack the soldiers. It is said that General Lewis coolly lit his pipe and smoked for several minutes while reflecting upon the situation. He then ordered his brother, Colonel Charles Lewis, and another officer of similar rank to reconnoiter the approaching enemy, while the commander arranged to support them. The two regiments had gone barely a fourth of a mile when they met the Indians, advancing to the attack.

It was early in the morning and the battle opened immediately. The Virginians had not forgotten the lesson of Braddock’s defeat, and fought in the same fashion as their opponents, taking advantage of the trees, bushes, roughness of the ground, and every object that afforded protection. The conflict was long and desperate. The uniform of Colonel Lewis drew the attention of the warriors, and he soon fell mortally wounded. The Indians speedily proved their superiority and put the soldier to flight, after having shot down a large number. In the crisis of the disorderly retreat, when a general massacre was imminent, reinforcements arrived, and, by their firmness, checked the pursuit and compelled the Indians in turn to take refuse behind a breastwork of logs and bush, which they had been wise enough to prepare for such a check.

The redskins displayed rare military skill, for the breastwork alluded to extended clean across a neck of land from river to river. They had placed men on both sides of the stream, so that if the Virginians were defeated, not one of them would have been able to save himself. It is claimed that the battle which followed was the most hotly contested of any ever fought between white and red men. The Indians did not scramble for the breastwork, but gave way, foot by foot, as may be said, contesting the ground with an obstinacy that more than once made the issue doubtful. Colonel Lewis having fallen, his brother officer, Colonel Fleming, was twice wounded, but kept his command and animated others by his coolness and daring. When the reinforcements arrived at the critical moment, the tide was turned, but Colonel Field was killed and Colonel Fleming, already twice hurt, was shot through the lungs, but still refused to give place to any other officer.

Behind that blazing breastwork were fifteen hundred brave warriors of the Shawnee, Delaware, Mingo, Wyandot, and Cayoga tribes under the lead of Logan, Cornstalk, Red Eagle, and other famous chiefs. Cornstalk was the head sachem, and the attacking soldiers hear his ringing commands many times above the din of battle. When he saw one of this frightened men trying to run away, he sent his tomahawk into his brain. He dashed from side to side of the long line, cheering all by his example. The battle lasted from morning until late in the afternoon, something, as has been said, unknown in similar circumstances, and still the Indians held their ground, despite the repeated and desperate charges of the soldiers.

General Lewis became intensely anxious. He was distressed at the sight of his men who fell at every rush. He saw that the Indians must be routed before night or the Virginians were almost sure to suffer disastrous defeat. He sent three companions who favored by the forest, reached the rear of the enemy unobserved. They then dashed to the attack. The warriors did not believe they were part of the force they had been fighting for hours, but thought they were reinforcements and that the Indians’ only safety lay in instant flight. Just as the sun was setting, they retreated across the Ohio and made for their towns along that river.

The loss of the soldiers included nine officers and about fifty privates, with nearly a hundred of them wounded. That of the Indians is not known, but it is not likely that it exceeded that of the whites. Judging by those who were killed and wounded, the circumstances, and the length of the conflict, the battle of Point Pleasant in the autumn of 1774 seems to justify the claim that it was the hardest fought one that ever took place between the American and Caucasian races.

After burying his dead, General Lewis withdrew agreeably to the commands of Governor Dunmore. The latter advanced to within a few miles of the leading Indian town on the Chillicothe, for the purpose of treating with the tribes, from whom he had already received requests to do so. The meetings were marked with distrust on both sides. Cornstalk, in an indignant speech, laid the whole blame of the war upon the whites, due mainly to the murder of Logan’s family. Governor Dunmore showed much tact, and in the end, secured the pledges of the leading chiefs to the peace he sought.

Among the sachems who signed the treaty, the name of Logan did not appear, nor would he go to the conference. Lord Dunmore was so anxious to obtain his name that he sent a special messenger to the cabin of the Mingo, a long distance away in the woods. When this messenger explained his business to Logan, the latter led him a little way from his cabin, and the two sat down beside each other on a fallen tree. The sachem gave his assent to the treaty, and in doing so, uttered that memorable speech which will live as long as man can admire eloquence, pathos and truth:

I appeal to any white man to say if he ever 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 long, bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate of peace. Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed as they passed and said, ‘Logan is the friend of the white man.’

I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man. Colonel 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.

more about the Mingo people ...