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|Combs &c. - Narrative of the life of|
General Leslie Combs
GENERAL LESLIE COMBS
solution never to stop while he could walk, overcame his disease, and he kept moving for three days and nights longer, without a mouthful of food for either himself or his companion, except slippery elm bark. On the ninth evening, after dark, they reached Fort McArthur, then under command of General Tupper.
Every attention was paid to young Combs by General Tupper and his staff, on his arrival at the head-quarters of that general. But his sufferings had been so great, that he was prostrated for days after- wards on a bed of sickness ; as, in addition to hunger and fatigue, his feet were badly frost-bitten, and his arm joints stiffened with rheumatic pains, from which he has never since recovered. Being unable to proceed to Upper Sandusky, where Gen- eral Harrison was posted, his dispatches were conveyed to him, with a brief letter from himself, by a special messenger on horseback, the day after his arrival at Fort McArthur.
As soon as it was considered safe for him to leave his quarters, he was furnished with a sled, two horses, and a driver, and proceeded as speedily as possible through the snow to the rapids, distant about nine- ty or one hundred miles by way of Hull’s trace, which place he reached on the even- ing of the 19th of January, expecting to find General Winchester’s army encamped there, as that general had told him he would be. Instead of this, he met the news of Colonel Lewis’s glorious victory of the 18th, at river Raisin, over the Bri- tish and Indians, thirty-six miles in ad- vance of the rapids, and about twenty miles only from Malden, the head quarters of the British army in Upper Canada. Disappointed and mortified that a battle had been fought in his absence, and appre- hending the speedy recurrence of another similar event of a more conclusive charac- ter, as General Winchester had himself gone on with the flower of his forces that morning, to reënforce Colonel Lewis; with- out waiting for General Harrison, who was expected in a day or two, with a portion of the right wing of the army, he deter- mined to lose no time in reporting himself at head-quarters. Accordingly on the 20th, in the evening, he set off on foot, with his blanket and one day’s rations on his back, and without his old heavy mus-
ket, to overtake Major Cotgreve’s battalion, which was understood to have been hurri- ed forward by General Harrison from Low- er Sandusky, with two or three pieces of light artillery, in the direction of the river Raisin. He soon accomplished his object, as the Maumee was frozen over from shore to shore, and he could travel on the ice with much greater rapidity than by land through the deep crusted snow.
With them he found another young Kentuckian, with a small pony, loaded with his baggage and provisions, proceed- ing to join his regiment, from which he had been separated for some time. The night of the 21st, was bright, clear, and beautiful, but intensely cold, with a full moon shining; and at two o’clock his new- ly found companion and himself determin- ed to make an effort to reach the river Raisin before the next night. So anxious were they to accomplish this purpose, that they forgot for the time their being on hostile ground, as recognized by Hull in his articles of capitulation, and that there were one or two villages intervening be- tween them and their point of destination. Whether they should encounter in them friend or foes, and how many murdering Pottawatamies might be prowling through the forests, were not taken into account; onward they resolved to go, and at all hazards.
After twelve or thirteen hours’ laborious trudging through the snow and ice, one leading and the other driving their little half-starved poney; they arrived at a small village about ten miles from the river Rai- sin, to witness a scene of consternation and distress never before presented to their view. An American soldier, without hat, coat, or shoes, had just arrived from the disastrous field of Raisin, with an exagger- ated account of that bloody affair, and the whole population were preparing to fly towards the American army, supposed to be approaching under General Harrison, by way of the ice on the lake and river. While hesitating whether to believe this most painful news, and return, or treat it as the tale of a coward, and proceed to the scene of action, they discovered another fugitive in the distant prairie approaching them, who, on his arrival, confirmed all they had just heard, with the additional fact, that the Indians were pursuing the
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