Stories by Great Grandma
|The British built Forts on the Colonial America frontier were similar to forts American later built in the west, a perimeter of sharpened logs sunk into a trench and backfilled, one entry by a guarded gate, tall block houses constructed at two corners to house lookouts; shooting decks on the inside of the wall four feet from the top of the wall to allow defenders an interlocking field of fire, and wooden ladders up to the shooting platforms. Barrels of fresh water was stocked at regular locations.|
The Red Men (two stories)
Our ancestors were brave and fought against the Red Men many times, took many scalps and burned their forts. The Red Men lived in stick forts at night and walked by day.
Our brave warriors set up ambushes on trails between the forts and fell upon the Red Men when they passed, loosing many arrows.
The red men had fire sticks (smooth bore flint locks) and some braves were killed, but the Red Men fell like leaves from the trees before they could raise their weapons. Some escaped to the woods, but few ere drew warm hearth again.
Braves took the fire sticks and the French taught them to load and fire them. Many soldiers fell in ambushes to their own guns. Others rode their horses fast toward the next fort, but another band of warriors were waiting for them along the road, and many were already in the woods around that fort.
Our warriors dipped arrows in pitch and set them on fire, and shot them onto the roof of the fort. The Red Men fired back from their towers and put out the fires. We fired at the Red Men on the roof, but it was a long way and only two fell.
Entry to the Red Man's forts gained by trickery:
On another raid the moon (month) before young braves dressed like the Indians that lived next to the fort and played a game they learned from the French. Lacrosse was played with sticks that had a net on one end and with fur ball wrapped around rawhide. Our young men played where the fort soldiers could see them, while our warriors collected nearby in the woods, Closer and closer they came to the gate while more red men watched from the towers.
The fort soldiers opened the gate and some came closer to watch. While the gates were open the young men drew axes and knives from inside our shirts and from where they had hidden them under cover of darkness the night before.
We killed the guards on the gate before they could close it. Our warriors rushed in from the woods and killed many more. Six red men escaped into the woods and the rest all died. We followed those who escaped into the woods until darkness stopped the hunt. Then we returned and burned the fort.
We guessed that those who escaped would try to make it to the next fort about twenty five miles away. More braves came and picked up the fire sticks left behind. Other braves set up an ambush on one side near a curve in the road. With the fort burning behind us we ran many miles there and hid behind trees on both sides of the road.
The French taught us to shoot from both sides of a curve in the road without hitting each other. The first Red Men, four men strong, swiftly on horseback came and they were allowed to pass.
They were riding fast in the direction we came to save the burning fort, but we knew that some red men would soon pass afoot. We could hear their drums growing closer. They waited without sound for soldiers afoot to come.
In the dark we heard them far, quick step marching on the road, four by four marched they, thirty two men in all. And when they reached the big oak tree, our firing lit the night. Twenty fell at once, several moaning in the grass. A dozen more shots fired we as they tumbled off the road without firing a shot.
Seven braves who had no guns lay beside the road, with axe and knife dispatched all who fell into their hands. Four back up the road did ran, and arrows found their mark. Twenty eight Red Men died upon the road and in the woods beside. The four riders never made it home, nor did those on horseback ride who had no place to go. Our braves ate the horses and took much back to their villages.
Weapons, knives, powder and food took we all. Down the road we charged to burn the other fort, but the alarm had been spread. Too many Red men were there to fight, the gate this time would not be open, Brush we did on blind side pile, but flintlocks sticking from the holes did not a target find. To the wood we went to rest and fight another day.
The brush and sprinkled powder brightly burned while water fell and turned to steam, but those who emerged in the brightness of the fire did not last long, but long enough to save their fort. More would come and well we knew, a good nights work did we, then quietly slipped away.
Hundreds more would follow soon and we would pay a price. But life could never be the same for them once we decided to fight. Other's came and other's died and all across the land their forts burned until the red men left and never returned.
Perhaps each story teller exaggerated, added more burned forts, or another hundred enemies killed, still such stories have a ring of truth.
Although those two stories were not supported by written history, history does tell us that the British had troubles in the land, with French around the great lakes, Indians and settlers too, and could not man and protect all of their forts on the frontier.
Several of their forts were burned, and hundreds of soldiers lost. I never found a specific record of two forts burned in one day, but it could have happened.
It also seems reasonable that the term "Red Men" used by the Indians in reference to the Red Coats the British soldiers wore with their uniforms.
The British were not used to fighting at night, nor with fighting tree to tree in the forest.
Copyright Don Kelly 1997 - 2001