Read CHAPTER XIII of Rodney‚ the Ranger With Daniel Morgan on Trail and Battlefield , free online book, by John V. Lane, on ReadCentral.com.

THE BEGINNING OF WAR

From the history of those days one learns that there were white savages who compared unfavourably with the red ones.

Of such were those border ruffians who, tempting the family of a friendly Indian with liquor till they were stupefied with drink, murdered them.

The Indian chief returned to find them weltering in blood. He was an Iroquois who had moved his family from New York to the Ohio River.

His Indian name was Tahgahjute, but he was commonly called Logan from the fact that he had in early life lived with a white family of that name. Ever after he had been a staunch friend of the whites. Now he became almost insane in his natural anger, and went about among the various tribes calling on them to avenge his wrongs.

Had those border ruffians desired to bring on an Indian war they could not have so quickly done it in any other way. Soon, tales of pioneer families murdered by the Indians were brought over the mountains into Virginia. Logan’s friends were seeking vengeance.

Undoubtedly the war would have broken out later had not Logan’s family been murdered. The Indians believed they must fight or be overrun by the white immigrants pouring into the western country.

The royal governor appointed by the king over the colony of Virginia was, at this time, Lord Dunmore. He was an ardent loyalist, but he also is said to have been interested financially in some of the land ventures, concerning which there was much interest in the colony, also much speculation. Though Governor Dunmore knew that the policy of the English ministry at the time was conciliatory, he did not hesitate to prepare for a war which should bring the savages to submission.

Just why the English ministry tried to discourage immigration into the western country is not definitely known. Doubtless there were various reasons. England wanted peace with the savages. Only a few years before, her representative, Sir William Johnson, had made a treaty at Fort Stanwix with them and given them many presents. They had been told they should have, as their own, the country north of the Ohio. The laws which governed the province of Quebec, recently captured from the French, were to be applied to the western country, a plan which did not meet with the approval of the colonists who wanted laws of an English character.

There were influential men in England who were interested in the fur trade with the Indians, which would be seriously injured if the country were opened up to settlers. Besides, the colonies of Virginia and Pennsylvania made conflicting claims to the new land and each had friends in England.

Many of the colonists declared that England feared to have the powerful colonies increase in power with new territory, and wished to confine them to the seaboard. Be that as it may, Dunmore resolved on establishing Virginia’s claims by prompt and effectual warfare. Perhaps he thought to divert the colonists’ minds from the increasing hostility to England. Instead he was to take the first step toward securing that rich land to the United States of America.

This is but one of many instances when the plans of supposed wise men result in the opposite to that intended.

The assembling for this war might be likened to a swarming of bees and hornets, the one for the sweets of fertile lands and adventure, the other for vengeance on account of wrongs received at the hands of the Indians.

There came a British officer, pompous and resplendent in scarlet and gold; the British soldier for his first experience in border warfare; the trapper with his long rifle and frontier garb; the sturdy settler in homespun. Nor were the camp followers altogether absent, those who hang about for pickings and have little intention of fighting.

One heard the polite accent of culture, the soft spoken Southerner, the dialects of Scotch and Irish and the gutturals of the German. About them were the green woods and filtering through the leaves overhead the hot sunshine of summer.

Early in the season that already famous frontiersman, Daniel Boone, had been sent to the Falls of the Ohio to lead back to the settlements a party of surveyors. He did it, for in the ways of the wilderness no savage was his equal.

Governor Dunmore, on July 12, 1774, ordered General Andrew Lewis, who twenty years before had been with Washington at Fort Necessity, to raise four regiments of volunteers and, going down the Great Kanawha River, to cross the Ohio River and march against the Shawnees on the Scioto. In this expedition was David Allison.

Another expedition was to meet near Wheeling to assist General Lewis. For this purpose Major Angus McDonald marched seven hundred militia and frontiersmen over the mountains in the latter part of June. Daniel Morgan assisted in raising a part of this little army from among his neighbours and acquaintances, which were many, for he had served in the two previous wars with French and Indians and was a natural leader of men.

Under the supervision of George Rogers Clark, none other than “Cap’n” Clark who had induced David Allison to try his fortunes on the Kanawha, Fort Fincastle was built. In the latter part of July these troops moved down the Ohio River to Fish Creek and started on a raid against the Indian villages on the Muskingum River, which is fed by the creeks that flow through the country where Rodney Allison had been passing his months of captivity, one of them the creek overlooking which stood the lodge of Ahneota.

Of this motley army some were in canoes, some in pirogues and others in batteaux. In a large canoe, third back from the prow, sat a fine-looking man, distinguishable from his associates in more ways than may be easily described. His clothes were such as one would see on the well-dressed man about the streets of Philadelphia; his companions were in the garb of the frontier. He was broad of shoulder with erect, military figure; while they were lithe and sinewy. His features bore marks of good breeding and his voice and language were those of a man of the world.

His companions had discovered that he knew nothing of woodcraft, but much of military matters. Just where Morgan found him or he Morgan does not yet appear. On the day the militia assembled Ezekiel Holden of Boston had given him a name. Ezekiel was a character, Yankee to the backbone. He had found his way to Norfolk on a coasting vessel a few months before and was “lookin’ araoun a leetle.” “Zeke” was fond of argument and delighted in arguing with Virginians about what he considered the superiority of New Englanders. He was for liberty and “pop’lar rights,” “first, last an’ all the time,” and the rich Virginians he looked upon as part of the English aristocracy, descendants of those who had fought for King Charles, while “Zeke” wished it understood his forebears fought under Cromwell.

When he saw this man he was in the midst of his pet argument and exclaimed: “There’s one o’ them chevaliers naow,” meaning cavalier, but pronouncing it “Shiverleer.” From that moment the rather distinguished looking recruit was known among his fellows as “Chevalier,” and in truth the name fitted his manner excellently. Furthermore he appeared to like the nickname and to take delight in letting his companions know that he considered himself their superior, though, be it said, this was in a spirit of humour rather than of conceit, and he was ready to share toil or rations with his mates. Yet this air did not please them and there was consequently much chaffing.

The afternoon was hot and the men tired, just the moment when a little inspiration was needed. One of the men said to his fellow in the prow of the canoe, “Nick, ah reckon it’s about time fer you to lead off with a tune, one we kin hit the paddles to,” and this was Nick’s response:

“The only good Injun, he died long ago.
Shove her along, boy, shove her along.
An’ thar’s nary one left on the O-hi-o.
Push her along, boy, push her along.”

“Bravo, my worthy companion in toil. Verily thou makest the bending ash to glide through the water like a swan’s wing. Another verse and we bid adieu to work.”

“If it affects the Chevalier that ar way, better give him another, Nick,” said one of the men.

“The trees do grow tall where the corn ought to grow,
Push her along, boys, push her along.
Virginny’s a-comin’ an’ she don’ move slow.
Shove her along, boys, shove her along.”

“I would applaud, but my paddle is now going of itself and I dare not let go. Methinks we’ll find around the next bend Pan with his flocks of aborigines assembled and kneeling in adoration. I’m not sure but he’ll have the moon goddess with him.”

Now the Chevalier’s three companions knew nothing of Pan or the moon goddess, with the possible exception of Nick, whose knowledge of mythology, if he possessed it, had not as yet appeared. Not knowing, they resented this intrusion of classical subjects and one remarked, “Your talk has a sweet sound; ‘sposin’ you sing us a verse.”

“Oh, melody is a wayward minx and vouchsafes her treasures of song to few. Were it springtime and had I the gift I would sing:

“‘When the red is on the maple and the dogwood is in bloom.’”

“Keep right on, you’ll bloom right soon,” said Nick with a laugh in which all joined.

“Keep her goin’, Chevalier,” said another.

“Forsooth, my merry men, Puritans, Roundheads, I’ll try:

“When cavalier doth draw his steel
The ranks fall back and yeomen kneel,
For that is as they should.

The pikes may gleam in thousands strong,
But men who ride shall right the wrong.
For throne and home they stood.”

“Sure they stood not on the order o’ goin’, or I’ve misread me history,” laughed Nick.

“Ho, ho! my merry figure-head at the prow, this from you, et tu Brute! I feared the lines would not scan, but it’s not expected that every man in the crew must be an Adonis because the figure-head of the craft is a thing of beauty. One failure begets another, ’tis said, so perhaps you’ll like this no better:

“Oh, the paddle, the knife and the trusty gun,
And a land in which to roam;
The stars at night for my beacon light,
Wildwood for my home;
What care I for the gay cavalier,
His plumes and his flashing steel?
He rides not here in the grassy mere.
In grateful shade of the forest glade
We laugh at those who kneel.”

“Ah! but that’s worse than the first. I yield the palm of song to him who goes before me.”

This bantering was interrupted by a stalwart man sitting in the prow of a canoe which overtook them at this point. He was as fine a specimen of rugged manhood as all the border could produce, being over six feet in height, of commanding figure and boundless energy and courage. He was Daniel Morgan and, laughing as he spoke, he said: “I’ve heard of hunting Indians with fife and drum, but charmin’ ’em with song is something new, I reckon.”