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15

GENERAL LESLIE COMBS

ted and unnatural. There was some poe- try in the great excitement of mortal strife and skill in open battle, when all were armed with deadly weapons; but here the prisoners were nearly naked, with a chilling rain and fierce hail beating upon them for the last hour, and totally defenceless, in the midst of infuriated foes bent on their destruction. There was not the slightest poetic thought in our captive’s head; all now was matter-of-fact-real—prose. He felt    very uncomfortable, and decidedly averse to proceeding any farther, and so notified an English soldier near him; but he replied that there was no alternative, and urged the prisoner forward. During this brief delay, the prisoner in his rear stepped before him, and in another moment the work of death was done upon him. He was shot down with a pistol in the hands of the first black fiend on the left side of the terrific gauntlet, and fell across the track, which was all the way slipprey with fresh shed blood. Our captain leap- ed over his body, and ran through into the fort unhurt, and tbund himself at once ini the midst of several hundred of his fellow- sufferers, who had been equally fortunate They were surrounded by a small British guard; but, thank Heaven ! no more Indians were in sight. Whether it was our Cap- tain’s youthful appearance, his bloody shirt, or mere savage fancy that saved him, he did not know, nor stop to inquire. He again felt safe from cold-blooded massacre, whatever else might befall him. He was left to indulge this pleasant delusion for a few short minutes. Very soon, however, after the last prisoner had followed him in, by which time it seems the Indian hosts who had driven them into the net of the British had assembled around the prison- ers’ unsafe temporary habitation, they at once demanded that the latter should be given up to them; and being refused, they simultaneously broke in the old crumbling walls of the fort, and surrounded them on all sides, giving utterance at the same time to the dreaded war-whoop.

When the prisoners first entered the old fort, they were ordered to sit down, for fear the Indians would fire on them over the walls, which had crumbled down and were very low in some places. But as soon as the savages had burst in upon them, they all instantly rose to their feet, and an       

old friend near Captain Combs proposed that they should attempt to break through the enemy and get to the river. Captain Combs showed him his crippled shoulder by way of reply, and he afterwards told the Captain that he himself could not swim, but preferred drowning to death by the tomahawk and scalping-knife, and presum- ed the Captain would also.

The guard quieted their apprehensions for a short time, until a tall, raw-honed Indian, painted black, commenced shooting, tomahawking, and scalping the prisoners nearest to him, and could not be stopped until he had thus dispatched and mutilat- ed four, whose reeking scalps were immedi- ately seen ornamenting his waist-belt. One of these was a private in Combs’ own com- pany, who fell so near the Captain that his blood and brains sprinkled his clothes. The shrieks of these men in their dying agonies seemed for months afterwards to ring in his ears, and the crushing in of their skulls bythe repeated blows of the war- club was most horrid.

At this time, too, the immense mass of Indians around the prisoners again raised the war-whoop and commenced throwing off the skin caps which protected the locks of their guns, preparatory for immediate use. The unfortunate captives then firmly believed their time had come; and they prepared to sell their lives as dearly as pos- sible. There was a rush towards the centre, with a cry of terror, the guard calling as loudly as possible for General Proctor or Colonel Elliott to come in, or all the pri- soners would be murdered. At this criti- cal juncture, a noble looking Indian, un- paintcd, dressed in a hunting-shirt or frock- coat and hat or cap, came striding briskly into the midst of the surrounding savages, and, taking his position on the highest point of the wall, made a brief but most emphatic address. Combs could not un- derstand a word of what he said; but it seemed to receive the general assent of the Indians, as was indicated by their grunts and gestures, and he knew from his man- ner that he was on the side of mercy. The black devil only, who had just committed the four murders, growled and shook his head; but upon receiving a stern look and apparent positive command from the speaker, whirled on his heel and departed, much to the general joy of the prisoners,        

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