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|Combs &c. - Narrative of the life of|
General Leslie Combs
GENERAL LESLIE COMBS
flying troops under Winchester and Lewis, in the direction towards their present loca-tion. In a very short space of time, with the exception of a few Canadian French-men and one family of whom we shall pre- sently speak more particularly, the whole village was depopulated, leaving houses and furniture, barns, grain, stock, every- thing but the little bedding, food, and clo- thing they could pack on their sleds and carryalls, and scudding for life on the ice towards the rapids. It was a scene never to be forgotten by our young soldier. It was the first time he had ever seen war, face to face, or rather the effects of war. He had read and thought and dreamed of battles and their awful desolations; but this miniature likeness was his first person- al view, and it sickened and saddened his heart. We will not stop to moralize, but proceed with our facts.*
* “ Massacre of Raisin.—Proctor (Colonel) then agreed to receive a surrender on the follow- ing terms: that all private property should be respected; that sleds should be sent next morn- ing to remove the sick and wounded to Amherst- burg, on the island opposite Malden, that in the mean time they should be protected by a guard; and that the side arms of the officers should be restored to them at Malden. (Query: Why were their side arms taken from them at all, if treachery was not contemplated?) . . . About 12 o’clock, the prisoners were marched off. Drs. Todd and Bowers, of the Kentucky volunteers, were left with the wounded; and Major Rey- nolds, (an American officer and prisoner also,) with two or three interpreters, was all the guard left to protect them. . . . About sunrise, instead of sleds arriving to convey them to Malden, a large body of Indians, perhaps two hundred in number, came into the town, painted black and red. … They began first to plunder the houses of the inhabitants, and then broke into those where the wounded prisoners were lying, some of whom they abused and stripped of their clothes and blankets, and then tomahawked them without mercy. . . . The few who were judged able to march, were saved and taken off towards Malden; but as often as any of them gave out on the way they were tomahawked and left lying on the road.… For the massacre at the river Raisin, for which any other civilized Government would have dismissed, and perhaps have gibbeted the commander, Colonel Proctor received the rank of Major-General in the Bri- tish army… Proctor, after he had left the bat- tle-ground, never named the guards nor sleds which he had promised for the wounded Ameri- cans ; nor would he pay any attention to the subject, when repeatedly reminded of it by Gen- eral Winchester and Major Madison, (prisoners.) Captain Elliot (of the British army) once repli- ed to their solicitations, that “the Indians were
The Frenchmen above mentioned, young Combs understood, were Indian traders; and from their knowledge of several Indian languages and general friendly intercourse with them, they had remained, with the hope of being able to save their friends property from the torches of the enraged enemy. The family before spoken of con- sisted of husband, wife, and five children, the largest about twelve years old. They were distributed between a small one-horse sleigh and an ox-sled loaded with cook- ing utensils, food and bedding. The latter vehicle could not proceed, as all the rest had done, on the ice, because the oxen were unshod, and the owner did not know that Hull’s old road by land back to the Maumee was sufficiently free from obstruc- tion to enable him to save his family by that route. Fortunately, Coombs and his companion had just traveled that way, and could assure him of its entire practicability, and that, moreover, troops were advancing by it at that very time, with whom they had encamped the previous night. Hav- ing done thus much, the dictates of ordi- nary prudence—the law of self-preserva- tion, deemed by some the first law of na- ture—might have impelled our young offi- cer and his companion to disencumber their pony of his pack, and with his aid have saved themselves from the much ap- prehended tomahawk and scalping-knife of the Indians, reeking and red as they were with the blood of their gallant asso- ciates and friends at Raisin.
But in the boys’ hearts of our youthful adventurers there was a “higher law,” a duty which they thought they owed to the army in their rear, and the helpless family in their presence, which induced them to give up the pony to the two soldiers, to- gether with blankets to protect themselves; directing them to ride alternately, and hasten back to General Harrison with the sad tidings they had just communicated to them, and which was to blast all his cherished hopes of a succesful invasion of Upper Canada that winter.
very excellent surgeons! . . . The prospect of their release, however was now very gloomy, as Proctor had issued an order, forbidding individ- uals to purchase any more of them. (the priso- ners,) while a stipulated price was still paid for all the scalps brouqht in by the savages!” —See McAfee, pp. 2l6-24.
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