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|Combs &c. - Narrative of the life of|
General Leslie Combs
GENERAL LESLIE COMBS
him to elude his pursuers; and after two days and nights of starvation and sutiering, he again met Major Shelby and his other friends, at the mouth of the Auglaise, on the fourth of May, in the morning, after all hope of his return had been given up. The two lValkers were a day ahead of him, and his brave young Indian succeeded in making his way to his native village.
The historian McAfee, page 264, in speaking of another expedition of a sonic- what similar charater, subsequetly under- taken by Major Trimble, at the instance of General Clay, thus aludes to the above:—
“To penetrate to the camp (Fort Meigs) thus exposed in an open boat, was deemed extremely hazardous. Such an attempt had already been made by Captain Leslie Combs, who was sent down in a canoe with tive or six men by Colonel Dudley, on his arrival at Deliance. The Captain had reached within a mile of the fort, when he was attacked by the Indians and compelled to retread, after bravely contending with superior numbers till he had lost nearly all his men.”
Captain Combs’ mouth and throat were excoriated by eating hitter hickory buds, and nothing else, for the last forty-eight. hours. His feet were dreadfully lacerated by travelling in moccasins through burnt praries, and his body and limbs were all over sore and chafed by constant exercise in wet clothes, as he was compelled to swim several swollen creeks, and it was raining part of the time most violently. In this situation he was ordered to bed in one of the boats just preparing to descend the river with General Clay’s brigade.
He could not for days afterwards eat any solid food, and yet early next morning he found they were making a landing, just above the scene of his disaster four days he- fore, and that the two companies of spies and the friendly Indian warriors were para- ded on the beach, seemingly waiting fer him to come, although the surgeon had told them he was unable to leave his pallet. Colonel Dudley’s regiment was soon all landed and formed in three lines, prepar- tory to an early engagement with the enc- my, and Captain Combs was informed that the spies were to constitute the vanguard. A battle—a real battle—was to be fought! delightful thought! The British batteries were to be stormed and destroyed, while General Harrison was assaulting the In- dians and their allies on the opposite side of the river. At last he would have a
chance to do something to make up for all his previous sufferings and misfortunes; and he forgot every bodily pain. In a few moments he was on his feet, dressed. He was received witl1 a glad sl1out at the head of the vanguard, a11d coinmenced the march in front of the left flank, towards the enemy. Colonel Dudley himself led the attacking column, and captured the batteries from the rear, without the loss of a man. “The British fag was cut down, and the shouts of the American garrison announced their joy at this consumination of their wishes. General Harrison was standing on the grand battery next the river, and now called to the men and made signs to them to retreat to their boats and cross over, as he had previously ordered them, but all in vain.”—McAfee, page 270.
Just before the batteries were taken, a body of Indians lying in ambush had tired upon Captain Combs’ command, and shot down several of his men. He immediately formed in front of them, posting Captain Kilbreath on the left flank, while he him- self occupied the right, and maintained his ground till re-enforced by Colonel Dudley, who felt the necessity of bringing him off the ground, inasmuch as he had given him no orders to retreat, and had determined not to sacrifice him. Captain Kilbreath was killed at his post, and Captain Combs was slightly touched by a ball before he received any assistance. They soon after routed the enemy, and pursued them by successive charges of bayonet some two or three miles through the swamp. In thc meantime the British had retaken their batteries, and driven off our left column, which had been left to guard them. The Indians, two, were largely re-enforced, and were trying to surround the American de- tachment, or, at any rate, to out them off from their boats. Under these circum- stances, a retreat was ordered, with direc- tions again to form at the batteries, it not then being known to the party that they had been retaken. As had been the case at Raisin, and will ever be repeated with raw troops, the retreat caused much disor- der and confusion, and cost the Americans most dearly, for many of the wounded were now tomahawked and scalped; among them their brave, unfortunate commander, Colo- nel Dudley. Captain Combs’ position threw
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