John Filson's "Adventures Of Colonel Daniel Boon"

(Series Conclusion)


Editor's Note: Our series concludes this month from the pages of John Filson's "The Discovery, Settlement, And Present State Of Kentucke," originally published at Wilmington, Delaware, in October 1784. "The Adventures Of Colonel Daniel Boon" appeared a short time later as an appendix to this popular volume, which assured Boone's immortality as a model American frontiersman. Filson conveys Boone's experiences in the Kentucky wilderness, as told by Boone himself, through the entries in his daily journal. The original spelling and grammar are used. We hope you enjoyed this series.

By John Filson - 1784

As soon as General Clark, then at the Falls of the Ohio, who was ever our ready friend, and merits the love and gratitude of all his countrymen, understood the circumstances of this unfortunate action, he ordered an expedition with all possible haste to pursue the Indians, which was so expeditiously effected that we overtook them within two miles of their towns, and probably might have obtained a great victory, had not two of their number met us about 200 poles before we come up.

These returned quick as lightening to their camp with the alarming news of a mighty army in view. The Indians fled in the utmost disorder, evacuated their towns, and reluctantly left their territory to our mercy. We immediately took possession of Old Chelicothe without opposition, being deserted by its inhabitants.

We continued our pursuit through five towns on the Miami River, Old Chelicothe, Pecaway, New Cheli-cothe, Will's Towns, and Chelicothe, burnt them all to ashes, entirely destroyed their corn and other fruits, and everywhere spread a scene of desolation in the country. In this expedition we took seven prisoners and five scalps, with the loss of only four men, two of whom were accidentally killed by our own Army.

This campaign, in some measure, damped the spirits of the Indians and made them sensible of our superiority. Their connections were dissolved, their armies scattered, and a future invasion put entirely out of their power; yet they continued to practise mischief, secretly, upon the inhabitants in the exposed parts of the country.

In October, following, a party made an excursion into that district called the Crab Orchard, and one of them, being advanced some distance before the others, boldly entered the house of a poor, defenceless family, in which was only a Negro man, a woman, and her children, terrified with the apprehensions of immediate death.

The Indians, perceiving their defenceless situation, without offering violence to the family, attempted to captivate the Negro, who, happily proved an overmatch for him, threw him on the ground, and in the struggle, the mother of the children drew an ax from a corner of the cottage and cut his head off, while her little daughter shut the door.

The Indians instantly appeared, and applied their tomahawks to the door. An old rusty gunbarrel, without a lock, lay in a corner, which the mother put through a small crevice, and the Indians, perceiving it, fled. In the mean time, the alarm spread through the neighbourhood; the armed men collected immediately and pursued the ravagers into the wilderness. Thus Providence, by the means of this Negro, saved the whole of the poor family from destruction.

From that time, until the happy return of peace between the United States and Great Britain, the Indians did us no mischief. Finding the great king beyond the water disappointed in his expectations and conscious of the importance of the Long Knife, and their own wretchedness, some of the nations immediately desired peace; to which, at present, they seem universally disposed and are sending ambassadors to General Clark, at the Falls of the Ohio, with the minutes of their Councils, a specimen of which, in the minutes of the Piankashaw Council, is subjoined.

To conclude, I can now say that I have verified the saying of an old Indian, who signed Col. Henderson's deed. Taking me by the hand, at the delivery thereof, "Brother," says he, "we have given you a fine land, but I believe you will have much trouble in settling it." My footsteps have often been marked with blood, and therefore I can truly subscribe to its original name. Two darling sons and a brother, have I lost by Indian hands, which have also taken from me 40 valuable horses and abundance of cattle. Many dark and sleepless nights have I been a companion for owls, separated from the chearful society of men, scorched by the summer's sun, and pinched by the winter's cold, an instrument ordained to settle the wilderness. But now the scene is changed: peace crowns the sylvan shade.

What thanks, what ardent and ceaseless thanks, are due to that all-superintending Providence, which has turned a cruel war into peace, brought order out of confusion, made the fierce Indians placid, and turned away their hostile weapons from our country. May the same Almighty Goodness banish the accursed monster, war, from all lands, with her hated associates, rapine and insatiable ambition. Let peace, descending from her native heaven, bid her olives spring amidst the joyful nations; and plenty, in league with commerce, scatter blessings from her copious hand.

This account of my adventures will inform the reader of the most remarkable events of this country. I now live in peace and safety, enjoying the sweets of liberty, and the bounties of Providence, with my once fellow sufferers, in this delightful country, which I have seen purchased with a vast expence of blood and treasure, delighting in the prospect of its being, in a short time, one of the most opulent and powerful states on the continent of North America; which, with the love and gratitude of my countrymen, I esteem a sufficient reward for all my toil and dangers.

Fayette County, Kentucke
Daniel Boon