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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Dunlevy Papers

Dallas Bogan on 13 September 2004
The following is taken from Dallas Bogan's book, "The Pioneer writings of Josiah Morrow."
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Scenes And Incidents at Border Forts And the Block-House.

How Block-Houses and Garrisons Were Built--Scouting or
Ranging--Farming Under Difficulties--Rapid Marches
to Relieve Besieged Stations--Redemptions
in The Indian Wars.

October 1, 1908.

I have before said that the manuscript papers of Judge Dunlevy which are in any way reminiscent referred to seems in his early life and especially to the Indian wars in which he participated. After deciphering all of them, a work of no little difficulty, I found a series of articles in the Western Star which were written for that paper and contain some descriptions of events occurring in the same wars and in the same region as those referred to in the Dunlevy manuscripts. These articles are eight in number and the first was printed June 13, 1830. They are signed, A Spectator, and the writer without any egotism refers to himself as an actual observer of and a participant in the transactions of which he wrote.
After comparing the accounts in the printed papers with those in Dunlevy's manuscripts, I am convinced that A Spectator was Judge Dunlevy, who at the time the articles were printed was in his 69th year and lived on his farm near Lebanon. Some scenes and incidents in the life of the border men culled from the printed articles will be put in an accessible form in this number.

Farmers Go To Their Fields Under Arms.

Dunlevy's first military duty was in the erection of a fortified station on the bank of the Ohio. The manner in which these stations of defense were constructed is thus described by A Spectator.
"When the Indian war commenced, the mode adopted for protection and defense was to call out the militia especially of the more interior settlements who were required to march in turns to defend the exposed parts. Sometimes they would be directed to a suitable point where they erected a block house or strong log cabin. At other places a trench was dug and palisades or pickets set up perpendicular in four lines enclosing a piece of ground of the proper size. Sometimes a block house was built at each angle and the places between filled with stockades or cabins one contiguous to the other, all around so as to complete an enclosure. These were called forts or garrisons, and sometimes stations. Many of them, however, were built by the inhabitants of the adjacent country who removed their families into them for a place of safety at least in summer when the danger from the enemy was supposed to be more imminent.
"From these stations the inhabitants could go out in turns by companies to plant, to sow or to reap, some standing guard around the field to give the alarm if danger approached. And besides, every man had his rifle, and when he laid it down to take up the hoe or sickle of other implement, all the arms would be put in a pile or line and a sentinel stationed over them. When the company had progressed a certain distance the word halt! was given, and each man returned to the end of the row or land, took up his arms, carried them forward, laid them up a second time, and the sentinel also moved up and stood by them until the workmen had advanced a proper distance when the same operation was repeated. This method of procedure was intended for two purposes; first to prevent the enemy from getting between the laborers and their arms, and to keep the latter always within reach, if an alarm should be given. In this manner they would continue from day to day thru a great part of the season."

Scouts or Rangers.

Other places were selected for military stations outside the line of habitations where a band of armed men were kept. These were supported at public expense. A company of men, fifty, more or less, would arrive perhaps on the bank of the Ohio. First, they would form an encampment, consisting of open sheds, made of poles and covered with bark, skins or blankets. Next they would cut and carry logs and build cabins, block houses or stockade forts.
The principal business of the company was called scouting. Men were appointed to range the woods, search for Indians, or signs of them and if any were discovered to give the alarm. These men would travel out fifteen or twenty miles and return at night, always avoiding on the return the track on which they went out to prevent being waylaid. Sometimes a greater number would go as scouts from the largest garrisons who would travel 20, 40 or 50 miles, visiting various stations and calling at the most exposed settlements. This was as much to cheer and encourage as the protection would at best could only be temporary.
The visiting of these exposed settlements and families produced a mutual good feeling, pleasure and love that far exceeds the power of the pen to describe. Figure to yourself, reader, a few families surrounded by a vast wilderness and constantly exposed to the incursions of Indian robbers and Indian murderers, not having heard a word from any settlement for weeks, perhaps months, not knowing but that they were the only survivors in all the settlements and that they in their turn would soon be the victims of savage warfare. In this solitary and perilous situation, to see a dozen of more armed friends arrive, how cheering the sight! Grandfathers and grandmothers would forget their crutches and forget that they were old. Fathers and mothers would rejoice to hear of their distant and equally exposed neighbors and even the eyes of the helpless infant would gleam with gratitude.

Arming in Hot Haste.

A Spectator describes the scene when an exposed station is attacked and some of its men who have been out at work are killed or taken prisoners, and the remainder in the fort find themselves too weak to sustain a siege. In this hour of peril some bold and adventurous spirit in the middle of the night passed outside the walls, leaves the fort and travels rapidly to the nearest of probable relief. The alarm is given; the word is spread; one throws down his ax, another his hoe, a third unharnesses his horses from the plough and in a few hours, sometimes in a few minutes, a troop of horses or a company of foot, sometimes both are on full march to the relief of the sufferers. With the latter, what anxiety! what eager watching! what earnest looking thru the port-holes of their stockade fort! But when the relief comes in sight, the scene beggars all description.
At such times, altho all the men were armed and occasionally were in the service, there was always a great disparity both as in courage and capacity. Even after danger had become common and individuals known to each other, the presence of one man would often inspire more courage than ten others. Yes, some men seemed of themselves a host.
In the garrison or fort where the inhabitants were gathered there generally prevailed great harmony and friendships were formed which continued ever afterward. A stronger of more significant expression of intimate friendship could not be made than to say, "we lived in the same fort together."
While the more exposed parts of the frontiers were principally subject to depredations, the Indians would cross the Ohio river, approaching the settlements, make a circuit of several days march, and fall on the inhabitants fifty or a hundred miles distant, when they all the time were within a few hours travel of places they might have attacked with every appearance of advantage.

Raw Irishmen in the Indian Wars.

A Spectator describes three classes of Irish emigrants to the American colonies, before and during the revolution:
1. Such as were able to pay their passage across the ocean and came to improve their circumstances.
2. Such as were unable to pay their passage, but, being anxious to try their fortunes in the new world, had indented themselves as servants for a term of years, usually four. These were called indented or redemptioners.
3. Persons who had been guilty of the violations of the laws and were transported or banished for a term of years. These were brought over at the King's expense and sold out to servitude for a period of from seven to fourteen years.
The redemptions were generally landed at New Castle or Philadelphia and were sold out in the provinces having proprietary government, had among her population a large number of the transported convicts. The Red Stone country being claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia, had large numbers of Irish of all three descriptions.
The first two classes of Irish, both bond and free, were moral, orderly and generally moderately well educated people. Of the third class, the convicts, little can be said in their favor except that they made excellent soldiers. All three classes entered the military service. Some of them entered the regular army and early received
commissions in the line. Those who were bound out entered with the consent of their masters with whom they divided their pay according to a contract.
Many men, in the frequent calls of the militia, rather than leave their families would send substitutes in the army. Some men made a kind of business hiring out in the room of others and would send their sons, generally under age, or their Irish indented or bound servants. Of these raw Irishmen, A Spectator knew some who had never seen an Indian or perhaps handled a gun until they were called into the service, and who on the first alarm would tremble with terror, scare at the hooting of an owl or the shaking of a bush--these he had seen after a few months exposure perfectly divested of all fear, able to handle their rifles well, to be foremost in making an attack on the enemy and even to act as spies or scouts by themselves in the wilderness.

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This page created 13 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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