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NARRATIVE

OF

MR. JOHNSON,
WHO WAS TAKEN PRISONER BY THE INDIANS

in 1790.
[From the Duke de la Rochefoucault's Travels through

North America.]
(R. Johnson, inhabitant and merchant of Rich-

ceffity of proceeding to Kentucky; there to receive certain sums of money, due to his father, who was re. cently dead; and to examine some witnesses before the supreme court of the state of Virginia. Having mado the fame tour the preceding year, he set out accordingly from Richmond, in the beginning of the month of March 1790, and proceeded with his friend, Mr. May, a great landholder in Kentucky, and an inhabitanti Petersburg, to Kecklar's Station, in Virginia, on the banks of the Great Kanhaway. They found there James Skuyl, a merchant, of Great Brayer-court. house, in Virginia, who was carrying a large quantity of merchandise to Kentucky. They jointly purchased one of the vessels, which, as they are intended merely to descend the Ohio, and are not built to remount it, have no more durability than is required for that pur

pose, and are, consequently, fold at a cheap rate. They are large flat-bottomed vessels, without any deck; and are sold in Limestone for the value of their timber.

Having embarked on board this vessel with their merchandise and stores, they descended the river, working the veffel themselves. During the whole passage of two hundred and ninety-five miles thence to Limestone, nothing is required but to keep the vessel in the middle of the stream, which is sufficiently rapid to carry her down, without the least affiftance from rowing. At the con.

fluence

fluence of the Kanhaway with the Ohio, at Point Plea. fant, they found three orher travellers, who were wait ing for an opportunity to proceed on the fame journey; namely, William Phlyn, of Point Pleasant, a petty tradesman, who was in the habit of travelling to Kentucky; and Dolly and Peggy Flemming, likewise of Point Pleasant, who intended to proceed to Kentucky, under the protection of Phlyn, a relation of theirs, and to tettle in that place. They were, all of them, fully aware that the navigation of the Ohio is not exempt from danger; but they also knew, that instances of the Indians attacking a veffel in the midst of the stream are very rare, and thar an attack on a vessel, with fix perfons on board, was altogether unprecedented.

They had failed one hundred and fix miles; it was five o'clock in the morning : thev were near the conAuence of the Scinta, and had a fair prospect of reaching Limestone the next morning, by day-break. Pala fing on with this expectation, they heard dreadful thrieks, proceeding from two men, who spoke English, and told them, in the most affecting tone of grief, that they had been taken prisoners the Indians, and had made their efcape, but feared 10 fall again into their bands. They had not eaten any thing for these four days past, and entreated, if they could not be taken on board, to be at least supplied with some provifion, and thus faved from the unavoidable danger of perilhing through hunger. The first and immediate sentiment of all the passengers, impeiled them to friccour these unfortunate pertons : but a littie consideration excited Itrong apprehensions in fome of them, ieft the allinanice which they might afford these perfons should throw themselves into the hands of the Indians.

The two unfortunate men followed the vessel along the fhore, as the was carried onwards by the current, Their mournful lamentations, their screams, and expreifions of agonizing anguilh and despair, still increafing, William Phlyn, who derived fome kind of autho,

rity from his being accustomed to this passage, and in the habit of frequenting Kentucky, proposed, that he would go alone, and carry bread to the unfortunate fuf. ferers, if his companions would land him on shore. He contended, that he fhould discern the Indians from afar, if they made their appearance; that, in this case, the vessel might easily regain the middle of the streain; and that he would make the journey to Limestone on foot, without falling into the hands of the Indians. It would have been extremely hard to oppose this proposal, which was seconded by the two women, and by James Skuyl. Mr. Johnson and Mr. May, therefore, yielded, rather out of weakness, than from any hearty approbation of the measure. They steered towards the Thore, where the two sufferers were dragging thema selves along, as if tormented by the most excruciating pains. Why is it that humanity and candour must fo frequently fall victims to artifice and fraud? The two men were two traitors, suborned by the Indians to decoy the vessel to the shore. The Indians followed them, at fome distance, constantly concealing themselves behind trees. The moment the vessel reached the shore, they burst forth, about twenty-five or thirty in number, raised a dreadful howl, and fired on the palsengers. Two of them were killed by the first firing, and the rest, in equal astonishment and terror, endea. voured to regain the middle of the stream: but being too near the shore, and their activity and dexterity being severely checked by the proximity of the impending danger, they made but little way. The two persons killed were Mr. May and Dolly Fleming. The Indians continued to fire. James Skuyl was wounded, and two horses, which were on board, were killed. All this increased the terror of the three travellers, who were yet able to work, and impaired their exertions. The fury of the Indians increased in proportion to their hope of success. Some threw themselves into the river, and swam towards the ship; those who remained on fhore,

threatened their prey.

threatened to fire on the passengers, if they should make the least resistance, and kept their picces constantly le. velled at them. The swimmers brought the ship accordingly on thore ; and the unfortunate Americans were obliged to land under the continued howl of the Indians, which, however, were no longer the accents of rage, but thouts of joy, on account of the seizure of

The articles found in the ship were carried to the fire, as well as the two unfortunate persons who had been thot. The latter were completely stripped of their clothes, scalped on the spot, and thrown into the river. The scalps were dried by the fire, to increase the trophies of the tribe.

The Indians were now near feventy in number, among whom were about a dozen women. Their leader afsembled them around the fire, and, holding the tomahawk in his hand, addressed them in a speech, which lasted about an hour, and which he delivered with great case and fluency of expreffion, with gestures, and in a tone of enthusiasm, looking frequently up to heaven, or casting dow: his eyes on the ground, and pointing now to the prisoners, now to the river. Almost at every phrase the Indians, who listened to him with the utmost attention, expressed their approbation and applause with accents of deep, mournful exclamation. The booty was divided among the different tribes which mared in this enterprile. The tribe of the Shawancse, bcing the inost numerous, and that to which the leader belonged, received three prisoners, and William Phlyn fell to the thare of the other tribe, the Cherokees. Every prisoner was given to the charge of an Indian, who was answerable for his person. Although thus distributed, the prisoners reinained together, and neglected not to improve the liberty allowed them, conversing with each other without constraint.

The two men, who, by their lamentations, had de. coyed them on thore, now rejoined the Indians. Their

wretched

wretched victims poured forth against them severe reproaches, though they were somewhat softened by the fear of being overheard by the Indians. They pleaded neceffity, and that they had been ordered, on pain of death, to act as they did. By their accounts, they were inhabitants of Kentucky, surprised by the Indians fix months before, in their own habitations; and had, already, several times, been employed in similar treachery. The stores found on board the vessel, served the Indians for their meals, in which they generously allowed the prisoners to partake. Night coming on, every one lay down to reft, under the trees. The prisoners were furrounded by the tribes to which they respectively belonged, and singly guarded by the Indian who had the charge of them. Peggy Fleming, who was never left by her guards, was, this night in particular, surrounded by women. Mr. Johnson was tied by the elbows; and the ends of the ropes were fastened to trees, which stood far asunder, so that it was altogether impossible for him to lie down. Yet this was not deemed sufficient. Another rope, fastened to a tree, was tied round his neck, and from it a rattle was suspended, which, if he had made the least motion, would have awakened the whole truop. The rest were treated nearly in the same manner. The two white {pies enjoyed the most perfect liberty. Some Indians were stationed at certain distances, around the party, to observe what was palfing in the furrounding country,

Early in the morning the prisoners were unbound, and suffered to enjoy the same liberty as on the preceding day. About ten o'clock the Indians, who were posted along the banks of the Ohio, reported, that a vessel was dropping down the river. The prisoners were ordered to join the other two, who yesterday beguiled their prey, and to exert their utmost efforts to decoy the passengers in the ship on fhore. It is easy to conceive that the horror which they felt, on receiving these orders, was Itrongly combated by the fear of

inftant

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