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|Combs &c. - Narrative of the life of|
General Leslie Combs
GENERAL LESLIE COMBS
was during the day, the would most pro- bably be discovered andy tomahawked be- fore night. He therefore resolved instantly to go ahead, desperate as the chances seem- ed against him, and risk all consequences. Not one of his brave conrpanions demurred to his determination, although he told them they would certainly be compelled to earn their breakfasts before they would have the honor of taking coffee with General Har- rison.
No one can well conceive his deep anx- iety and intense excitement as he was ap- proaching the last bend in thc river which shut the fort from their view. He knew not but that, after all his risks, he might only arrive in time to ste the example of Hull imitated, and the white flag of surren- der and disgrace hung out from the walls; but instead of that, as they swept rapidly around the point, the first object that met their sight was the British batteries belch- ing forth their iron hail across the river, and the bomb-shells flying in the air; and the next moment they saw the glorious stars and stripes gallantly Boating in the breeze. “Oh, it was a grand scene,” writes Captain Combs. “ We could not suppress a shout ; and one of my men, Paxton, has since de- clared to me, that he then felt as if it would take about a peck of bullets to kill him !” Captain Combs had prepared everything for action, by handing to each man his ritle freshly loaded, and in the meantime, keep- ing near the middle of the river, which was several hundred yards wide, not knowing from which side they would be first at- tacked.
He hoped that General Harrison might now and then be taking a look with his spyglass up the river, expecting General Clay, and would see them and send out an escort to bring thcru iu. He did not know that that General was beleaguered on all, sides, and hotly pressed on every point.— At first they saw only a solitary Indian in the edge of the woods on the American side, running down the river so as to get in hail of them; and they took him tor a friendly Shawanee, of whom they knew General Harrison had several in his service as guides and spies. His steersman himself was for a moment deceived, and exclimed, in his deep guttural voice, ‘ Shawanee," at the same time turning the bow of the canoe towards him. A moment afterwards, how-
ever, when he raised the war-whoop, and they saw the woods full of red devils, run- ning with all their speed to a point on the river below them, so as to cut them off from the fort, or drive them into the mouths of the British cannon, Captain Combs’ young warrior exclaimed, “Pattawatamie, God damn!” and instantly turned the boat toward the opposite shore. The race be- tween the little water party and the Indians was not long doubful. The latter had the advantage in distance, and reached the point before the former. Combs still hoped to pass them with little injury, owing to the width of the river and the rapidity of the current, and therefore ordered his men to receive their fire without returning it, as he feared an attack also from the near shore, which would require all their means of resistance to repel. If successful, he should still have time and space enough to recross the river before he got within range of the British Batteries, and save his little band from certain destruction. The first gun tired, however, satisfied him of his error, as the ball whistled over the canoe without injury, followed by a volley, which prostratcd Johnson, mortally wounded, and also disabled Paxton; not, however, before they had all fired at the crowd, and saw several tumbling to the ground. Captain Combs was thus, as a last hope, forced to run his craft ashore, and attempt to make good his way back 50 miles to Fort Win- chester on the south side of the river. To some extent they succeeded. The two WaIker’s soon left the party, by the Cap- tain’s order, to save themselves; the Indian nobly remained with Paxton, and helped him along for six or seven miles, until he was so exhausted with the loss of blood as to be unable to travel further. Captain Combs was less fortunate with poor John- son, who, with all his aid, could barely drag himself half a mile from their place of landing, and both he and Paxton were soon captured and taken to General Proctor’s head-quarters. They even reported, as was afterwards learned, that they had killed the Captain, and showed as evidence of the fact his cloth coat, which he had thrown off, putting on in its stead an old hunting-shirt, after he had left Johnson, so as to disincum- ber himself of all surplus weight. His wood- craft, learned in the previous campaign, now did him good service, as it enabled
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