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Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usForward: General Leslie COMBS, s/o Benjamin & Sarah Richardson COMBS, was born 29 Nov 1793 in Clark Co, KY, and died on 21 Aug 1881 in Lexington, Fayette Co, KY, a lawyer by profession, but widely referred to in his youth as the “Boy Captain,” the result of his daring exploits during the War of 1812. The following two letters were written in 1846 to Charles L. Mosby of Lynchburg, Virginia, and describe details of both the death of Chief Logan, nephew of Chief Tecumseh, and of his family.

Transcribed by Combs Researcher Barbara S. Mathews from:
Journal Title: Southern literary messenger; devoted to every department of literature and the fine arts./ vol. 13, iss. 2, Publication Date: Feb 1847, City: Richmond, Virginia, Publisher: T.W. White [etc.]. Pages: 770.

The Last Battle & Death of Logan
KY. Sept 21, 1846

My Dear Sir, I proceed to compy with my promise made to you some months since, to give you the particulars of the last battle and death of Logan,
distinguished Shawnee Chief--nephew of Tecamsah.

Although more than a third of a century has since rolled over my head, it is yet without a grey hair, and my recollection of the thrilling event I am about to describe is as fresh as if it had occurred but yesterday. Indeed there are many scenes that I can never forget in the severe campaigns of 1812 and 1813, the first terminating the 22nd of January 1813, on the bloody battlefield of the Raisin, and the second on the following 5th of May by Dudley's defeat, opposite Fort Meigs.

On the 22nd November, 1812, the left wing of the North-Western Army, under command of General Winchester, had been lying for some weeks at Camp No. 3, on the Maumee River, six miles below Fort Defiance, at the mouth of the Auglage, and about 45 miles above the Rapids. The Kentucky volunteers, whose term of service had more than half expired, were becoming impatient of longer inaction and starvation, and very anxious to 'go ahead' in quest of food and fighting. On the 21st it was said in camp that General Payne had intimated to Logan a doubt of his truth and fidelity to the American cause, while his uncle was commanding the British Indians. This suspicion, rather roughly expressed, fired the noble indian to a high degree of excitement, and he avowed his fixed resolution to give an evidence of his honor and courage that could not be mistaken. It was understood that a large force of the enemy had lodged itself at the Rapids, and Logan determined to go there and take a prisoner or lose his scalp in the effort.

I was then a beardless Cadet, but 18 years old, attached by order of General Payne to Colonel Scott's Regiment of Kentucky Volunteers and, as it happened was that day detailed for duty as a guard as a subaltern officer of 24 men. My guardfire was near the river below the camp and my line of sentinels extended out at right-angles some two or three hundred yards, so as to protect that flank of the Army. Although cold, the day was bright and beautiful, the air elastic. At early dawn, as the last of the Reveille had fallen on the still drowsy ear, Logan was conducted by the officer on duty through the outer lines of the Army, and left us on his perilous enterprise, accompanied by only two Shawnee warriors from the same village (Wapogheonata) with himself. The first Capt. John, a tall swarthy, raw boned villainous looking fellow, bearing a very bad character with the troops, because it was believed he had fought against General Harrison at the battle of Tippecanoe; the other a noble looking young Indian, of some 22 years of age, known by the English name of Bright Horn, and who subsequently distinguished himself, while under my command at Dudley's defeat. The boldness, as well as the extreme hazard of this voluntary undertaking, excited our highest admiration, at the same time that many expressed their serious apprehensions of the results to the daring chief and his intrepid companions.

It is known to military men, that the officer in command of a camp-guard, never allows himself to sleep while on duty. It was in accordance with this custom that midnight found me awake, lying on my back with my head to the light, reading one of Miss Porter's books; while my men off duty were scattered around the fire, wrapped in their blankets, snatching a little necessary repose. The night though clear, was dark, and all was silent, and still in the camp, when I was suddenly surprised by the loud and quickly repeated challenge of one of the sentinels nearest the river bank, to someone approaching from without. As I sprang to my feet to arouse the guard, i heard the voice of Logan, which I recognized. Answering the hail, and first announcing himself, he remarked “My friends, we have had a bloody battle and I am badly wounded.” You cannot conceive how greatly I was shocked by this reply. I had all day long been talking or thinking about him, and when, instead of his loud, musical and manly voice, I heard his feeble and tremulous answer, I did not wait for any military formula, but ordered the sentinel to let him pass, and hastened in person to meet him and conduct him to the guard-fire. He was accompanied by Bright Horn only, and both of them were well-mounted, whereas I knew they left camp that morning on foot. Indeed, there was but a single horse in that wing of the army. All the rest had perished, or been sent to the interior to recruit.

He immediately proceeded, at my request, to give me a particular account of the events of the day. It appeared he had left the beaten track down the river bank, and taken the low swamp route some mile or two off, some mile or two off, in order to avoid observation or discovery. They had scarcely made ten miles of their journey, however, when they saw at a short distance in front of them six persons on horseback, who were travelling the same supposed safe and secret way, but coming from the opposite direction. The whole of that now populous region was then a howling wilderness; indeed there was not a farm or civilized human habitation beyond the Piqua in Ohio.

It required no interpreter to inform Logan and his companions that they were in rifle shot of twice there number of deadly enemies. It was too late to think of flight with any hope of escape in an open wood, in daylight; and it would be madness, without some advantage, to fight one to two. The ready, self-poised chief did not hesitate in the adoption of his plan, and his promptness of action most probably saved him from immediate death. His companions, with that keenness, yet seeming carelessness, so remarkably exhibited in the character and outwardly demeanor of the American Indian, watched his countenance and all his movements with axious concern, and held themselves ready to second, or to sanction, whatever he might do or say.

Unflinching in his original purpose, and true to his sworn faith to our cause, he resolved to attempt by stratagem, what he despaired of effecting by immediate combat. He therefore made no halt in his onward march, manifested no surprise or alarm, but with a bland smile hastened to meet and salute the horsemen. Indeed, he expressed his high gratification at his unexpected good fortune in finding them so near at hand, instead of being compelled to go all the way to the Rapids to see them and communicate the intelligence which he possessed, of the contemplated early movement of the army of General Winchester; most skilfully blending fact and falsehood so nicely together, as to give all he said the semblance of truth.

If anything could have shaken the firm nerves of Logan, or caused a moment's hesitation in his manner and purposes on this trying occasion, it would have been the fact, which he discovered only in coming in close contact with the stranger band, that their leader was his deadly personal foe -- one celebrated equally for his cunning, courage and cruelty --in short, no less a personage than Winnemac, the great Potowatamie Chief. The others, too were of no mean note -- they were Capt. Elliott, a half breed (son of Col. Elliott of the British army, so well known afterwards to the unfortunate Kentucky captives, at the river Raisin and at Dudley's defeat, for his cold-blooded treachery), a tall young Ottawa Chief, and three grim looking painted warriors.

Immediately on the breaking out of the war, the British Government had taken measures, not only to enlist in their service all the Indian tribes of Canada under immediate control of Col. Elliott, as Agent, but also those on the Northern and Western frontiers of the United States, under Dickson and Tecumsah; --the latter, as is known, being the prime mover and the soul of the hostile operations of our Indians against us. A large body of these had been moved forward after the surrender of hull, to attack Fort Wayne, from which they were driven by General Harrison, and were now principally encamped at the Rapids of the Maumee river, nearly oposite to the point where Fort Meigs was afterwards built. General Proctor was naturally desirous to know whether General Harrison had taken up his winter quarters at the points then occupied by the several wings of the North Western Army, or intended to make a winter campaign into Canada. He had, therefore, despatched the chosen and carefully selected band just named, to spy out Winchester's camp, and ascertain, as far as possible, from preparations and appearances, (if they could not secure a prisoner,) what were the intentions of the American General. The capture of Logan, then, was a Godsend far beyond expectations. One who had been for months employed by General Harrison as a confidential spy and guide, would necessarily know more than almost anyone else of his future plans and intentions, and they therefore proceeded no further towards our camp, but turned back to the Rapids. It is true, that Winnemac did not believe Logan's story, and was disposed to disarm and tie their hands behind them on the spot, but Captain Elliott and the others objected, alleging that there was no risk during the day-time, while they were mounted and Logan and his compainions were on foot, of any attempt at violence; and no chance of success, if an attempt were made. This was in the forenoon, shortly before 12 0'clock. In the course of the day, on their return march, Winnemac asked Logan why he was now coming to join them, whereas he had always previously positively refused and had even risked his life in passing clandestinely through their lines while they were besieging Fort Wayne, in order to notify to the starving little garrison that General Harrison was hastening with a large force to their relief, and to urge them not to surrender? Logan's answer to this question was as prompt as it was plausible. He said that his family was at Wapogheonata within the lines of the American army, and he feared they would be either forced into the settlement, or killed and destroyed, if he joined the British, as Tecumseh had urged him to do; but that General Payne's treatment to him had been so outrageous, that he determined to sacrifice every thing else in order to be revenged. Although thus temporarily treated as a friend, Logan saw and felt that he was distrusted by Winnemac, if not by his companions, and that at night he and his comrades would be confined as prisoners. When the time for stopping to encamp arrived, and they had crossed a small water-course suitable for the purpose, a halt was called, and Winnemac and his party dismounted and commenced unsaddling their horses and securing them. The critical period--the eventful moment, had arrived, and Logan seized it with prompt energy to execute his desparate plan and free himself from bondage,or die in the attempt. Not a word had passed between him and his fellow-prisoners, but he knew their bravery and devotion, and did not doubt their active and efficient co-operation in any thing he might attempt. He pretended to see a squirrel on a tree some steps distant, and called the attention of Captain John and Bright Horn to the fact. Not a word as to his bloody purpose passed his lips; only asking them if they desired some tobacco, with a significant look, he handed each a leaden bullet, which they put into their mouths. In an instant, the sharp simultaneous cracking of three rifles announced the work of death had commenced and the previous quiet of a fair November sunset, was changed into the bustle of strife and battle, with all the horrid accompaniments of a savage conflict.

It is said that most men fight best in day-time--in towns or cities, in presence of applauding multitudes, or true sustaining friends--where fair ladies' handkerchiefs may wave, or sympathizing shrieks be heard from overlooking windows; but here was a contest in the deep recesses of a pathless forest, beheld by no eye save that of the Great Spirit, and yet not a nerve relaxed, not a muscle quivered with fear. Three to six: Red man against red man, not for their own advancement or hope of plunder, but for the white man's power! Is it not strange that such things should occur, and yet how often has it been so? Whether England, or the United States succeeded in the war, the Indian race was doomed to destruction.

At the first fire, Winnemac and Captain Elliott fell dead, and one of the warriors wounded, thus reducing the combatants to numerical equality, but with six loaded rifles on one side to three empty ones on the other. In this emergency, Logan and his companions made a bold and rapid movement forward and attempted to seize the arms of the enemy, which had been placed, for a moment against a tree, while their owners were fastening their horses. But in this effort they were anticipated by the promptitude of their foes, who seemed fully aware of the “life or death” nature of the combat so suddenly forced upon them. The mutual rushing towards the loaded guns brought the opposing parties face to face in close contact, and for a moment, Logan contemplated closing the matter with the tomahawk. Their enemies, however, did not choose to surrender the advantage which their already chaged rifels gave them, and each jumped to a tree nearest at hand for shelter. A regular Indian fight then commenced, which continued till darkness put an end to it. Any slight exposure of the person on either side was sure to make a bullet whistle. Many shots were fired; one of these from Logan's rifle had struck down the Ottawa Chief. Bright Horn had disposed of another warrior, and had himself received a severe wound through the thigh. The shadows of the closing day were rendering every thing obscure, and Logan determined to change his position, for one nearer the only survivor of the other party who remained unhurt. In doing so, he necessarily exposed his person to the quick and watchful eyes of a skilful foe, who, on the instant, planted a ball in his body just below the centre of the breast bone, which passed entirely through and lodged just beneath the skin near the lower part of his back. Logan, although mortally wounded, did not fall, and his enemy fled, supposing his fire had been abortive. The battle thus ended, the victory was complete. The bloody field was held, with the dead and dying Chiefs and Warriors stretched upon it. But his was truly a victory dearly bought. Logan's last act was to drive his tomahawk into the head of Winnemac, but he did not take his scalp; that duty was left to be performed by Captain John, after he had aided Logan and Bright Horn, each, to mount one of the British horses, and started them back to our camp.

Next morning, the fatal ball was extracted from Logan's back, without difficulty, but he felt that he was a dying man, and so informed the surgeon and the other officers who attended him. He suffered the most acute agony without a groan, and calmly gave directions as to the future disposition of his wife and children. On the second evening, about 48 hours after he received his wound, he expired, in the full possession of all his strong mental faculties till the last moment. A nobler child of nature, a braver man, a truer friend, never lived. May God have mercy on his soul!

During the two days that Logan lingered in the agaonies of death, his tent was surrounded by anxious and tearful faces, hoping against hope, that he was not so dangerously wounded as was represented, and when, at last, it was announced that the Great Chief was dead, a deep gloom settled over the army, as if some dire calamity had befallen each individual officer and soldier.

At the time of his death, I do not think he could have been over forty years old; perhaps not exceeding thirty five. In stature he was over the middle size, and rather more full and fleshy than Indians usually are, with a deep broad chest and high expansive forehead. The expression of his countenance and whole demeanor was mild, amiamble, and rather playful than stern, yet combining marked firmness and decision of charactor.

Thus ends the first chapter of the narrative you have asked me to give you; written in the midst of interruptions, and at moments snatched from professional duties. You will therefore easily excuse any inaccuracies of style and manner. My next will contain a brief account of what befell Captain John after he was left by Logan--Logan's funeral--the mission to his village sent by General Winchester to announce his death, and the future fate of his family as far as my information extends.
Yours truly,           L. C.

Letter No. II

L_______, Oct., 1846

My Dear Sir: -- My last letter left Capt. John on the hard-fought battle-field, where Logan had received his death-wound, for the purpose of scalping his dead enemies, and bringing off the “Spoils of Victory,” according to the universal custom of savages. Logan told me that I need not expect Captain John before daylight, inasmuch as he spoke English but indifferently and would be apprehensive of being mistaken for an enemy and shot, if he approached the line of sentinels during the night. I cautioned the guard on this point and ordered them to keep a sharp look out for him.

The coloring of the thin clouds above the eastern horizon was gradually becoming brighter, indicating another fair day as the morning sun demonstrated his approach, and we were somewhat uneasy that Captain John had not yet made his appearance. Presently I heard a most unearthly noise down the river, seemingly imitative of the human voice, which I at once suspected came from the Shawnee brave, trying to halloo and hail the sentinel nearest him, like a white man. On advancing some fifty yards in that direction, I found I was not mistaken, for still farther on a hundred steps or more, I saw the black, ugly, painted John, anxiously peering from behind a huge oak tree, while he was repeating, with all his might, the strange discordant sounds which had first attracted my attention.

I had looked for his appearance on horseback with the captured steeds of the defeated foe, an fully caparisoned, in his train, and their gory scalps, at his girdle, and was much surprised to see him on foot, more haggard than usual, with only one reeking trophy of victory dangling from his blanket belt. I hailed him and told him to come up, without fear, as I was anxious to hear what had befallen him after Logan left him. He did not need a second invitation, but immediately strode towards me, heedless of fallen trees or other intervening obstacles, looking as proud as Lucifer, and somewhat like the picture my immagination had painted of that celebrated personage, while reading Milton's Paradise Lost. When yet some ten or fifteen paces from me, he exhibited his only witness of success, by raising it before my eyes with its disarrayed locks clotting and still dripping blood, at the same time exclaiming with exultation “Winnemac Scalp! Winnemac Scalp!!” I afterwards learned that Logan declared, when he saw it, that it was not from the head of the Potowatamie chief, for he had only the single chivalrous tuft of long hair, whereas this was covered with hair of that description. I was then unused to sights and scenes of “blood and carnage,” and as I looked, for the first time, on this horrid savage trophy, I must confess a cold chill passed through my heart. I afterwards was forced to harden myself to view them with more composure.

As well as I could understand this barbarous English, it seemed that he had lost no time, but, as soon as his companions left him, set himself diligently to work, in the most approved and expeditious fashion, to ease the dead of their much prized head-covers. He only had time, however, to tear one reeking scalp from the scull of the fallen warrior nearest to him, and was in the act of performing the same office for another, when he saw a flash of light, a few steps in front of him and felt, at the same instant, the burning of a bullet, as it grazed the skin of his own head, followed by the loud ringing crack of a rifle. To use his own expression, “he jumped very high and broke his knife,” and did not wait for another salutation, but hastened to the spot where the horses were hitched, in order to mount one and retreat to camp. The animals, alarmed by his sudden and noisy approach, successively broke loose, as he came near them, and he was thus compelled to make the best of his way from this new attack on foot.

He supposed tht the warrior who had fled from Logan after dealing him the fatal shot, had returned, and might be aided by some of those deemed dead, but who really were only wounded and prudently remained quiet while the storm was raging, and he had no stomach to renew the fight alone.

The fast gathering gloom of night, aided by the dense overhanging forest, obscrued surrounding objects and enabled the wily watchful foe to creep upon him unperceivd, and dischage his rifle in his face. It is most probable, that the departure of Logan and Bright Horn had been observed, and from the fact that Captain John was left behind, it was believed he was too badly hurt to get away, and his scalp would, in some degree, compensate for the heavy loss sustained in the combat. To accomplish this object, the only survivor of the party had cautiously returned and found our friend engaged as before described. To drive a ball through his brain was a natural instinct, and but for the protecting darkness, whould have been effected. A firm finger pulled the trigger and a steady eye directed his aim along the death-dealing tube, but he slightly overshot his mark, and the life of Captain John was almost miraculously saved.

It was well for the fame of the latter that he thus escaped, for if he had not returned to us, so much had he been previously distrusted, that, even while his unburied bones were bleaching on the earth, where hungry wolves had leftthem, and his bloody top-knot ornamenting the war-belt of an enemy, many would have believed that he had deserted us, and again joined his old friends. But Logan said “we need never fear his fidelity again”-- he had “shed their blood and knew he would not be spared if ever he should fall into their hands.”

Before speaking of Logan's funeral, it may not be uninteresting to you to know something of his birth, parentage and early history. From sources of information entirely reliable, I learn that he was of mixed blood--half white and half Indian ---and his color and features indicated such a descendt. A gentleman named Rennick, of Greenbriar County, Virginia, a great hunter in his day, from some early disgust for quiet, inactive, unexciting, civilized life, or some wild fancy for the freedom of the woods had wandered off when a young man to the then trackless forests north of the Ohio river, and settled himself among the Shawnee Indians. Assuming their habits, his exceeding skill in the chase and bold daring in war soon brought him into distinguished notice, and he was adopted into their tribe, and made a chief. His future destiny became still more fixed and permanent, when he made the acquaintance of an Indian maiden of high birth--the elder sister of Tecumseh and the Prophet--to whom he united himself in marriage, according to all the formalities of her nation. Two sons were the offspring of this connection, of whom our hero was the younger--the elder having died in childhood. By the fortune of war he became a prisoner while a boy to Colonel Logan of Kentucky, who brought him home with him and always treated him as a son. He learned to speak English fluently, and after the conclusion of peace, which followed Wayne's great victory at the Rapids, was restored to his family and friends. In gratitude to his generous captor, he assumed the name of Logan, and honored as the name was in the early annals of Kentucky, he never disgraced it.

That there are no accidents on earth or in Heaven is my firm belief.

“There's a Divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how you will.”

Himself a captive, all his boyish sympathies were excited for a little girl, also a prisoner, taken about the same time, and then the cherished inmate of a neighboring family--that of Colonel Hardin,--and who was released at the same time with himself. The early bud of affection then developed, matured into an open blossom, years afterwards, in their native village, when they both grew up, and they were married. On his dying bed,it so happened that a son of Col. Hardin and a son-in-law of his adopted father, was at his side and tended him like a brother and closed his eyes when the last dread struggle was over. To this gentleman Logan especially confided the future fate of his family. He desired him to remove his wife and children to Kentucky, to remain, at any rate, until the close of the war, “for” said he, “I have killed a great Chief, and when I am in the land of spirits, his friends will creep upon and murder all my little ones.”

I think it was on the 26th of November, about 10'oclock of a cold, bleak morning, that the sound of the 'ear-piercing fife' and solemn muffled drum announced a military funeral. The weather had suddenly changed from fair and pleasant to early winter. Floating clouds were spitting down their flakes of snow, and the gournd was already covered with its white northern garb to the depth of several inches. A crowd of officers and soldiers, off duty,were assembled around the tent where the departed warrior lay, not “with his martial cloak around him, ” but wrapped in his blanket and deposited in a rude coffin made of the best materials in our power. Although but little “pomp and circumstance” were exhibited, yest there was not wanting any demonstration of respect due to one so beloved and distinguished.

It had not then become lawful, as it now seems to be, to send an American army to the field, without a christian minister as chaplain, as if this were a heathen land and there was no Lord of Hosts above us. The vereable Mr. Shannon was present, and humbly besought his Heavenly Father to have mercy on this noble son of the forest, and as but little light had been granted him on earth, to ask but little of him at the last day. An armed military guard of honor was also ordered on duty. These ceremonies concluded, the lid of the coffin, which had been temporarily removed to allow us to look for the last tiime upon the noble countenance of the dead Chief, was replaced and fastened down. I have before stated, that we had no horses in camp. A small sled was constructed for the purpose, and with throngs of raw-hide for traces, the officers, who acted as pall bearers, hauled the body six miles to old Fort Defiance. There it was buried, in the public grave-yard, where other gallant hearts were already mouldering into dust. A rude stone was planted at his head and another at his feet, with the initials of his name roughly carved upon them to mark the spot. How long they were permitted to remain there God only knows. From the day of the landing of our Pilgrim Fathers on Plymouth Rock to the present moment, the same word of command has been given to the Red race which our Saviour gave to the reviling Jew, when on his way to execution with the heavy cross upon his shoulders. “March on--onward march,” till they have already left graves of their fathers and their favorite hunting grounds far, far behind them. The progress of improvement has long since reached that distant frontier--a canal runs hard by--and civilization, with her rapid strides, is still travelling on. Where the wolf and the bear then had their homes, and the wild deer frolicked on the prairies, the puffing steamboat and whistling railroad-car are now daily heard. Most probably the plough and harrow have, years ago, upturned and torn to pieces the sod of blue grass which grew on Logan's bosom, and have left no discoverable vestige of his resting-place. I have never been there since, yet while describing the events, my fancy brings the whole imposing scene vividly before me. I seem to feel the northern blast upon my cheek, and almost stop my pen to listen for the echo of the last volley fired over the warrior's grave.

A few days afterwards, Major Hardin started on his mission to Wapogheonata--distant some sixty or eighty miles--accompanied by one or two other officers and Captain John. He was charged by the Commanding General to communicate to the nation the circumstances of Logan's last battle and death and the honors paid to his memory, as well as to express the deep sympathy of the whole army with his immediate family and friends, for his untimely end. It was necessary also to consult with the chiefs and widow as to the removal of his family to Kentucky. After several general councils, the proposition was respectfully and feelingly declined, and Major Hardin returned to camp.

Years rolled on--some half dozen or more. The war was over and peace had again covered the land with smiles and filled it with happiness and prosperity. I had studied a proffession and quitted forever my father's humble roof to try my fortune among men in the busy pursuits of civil life. One day I received a message, saying there was a company of Indians at the hotel, who said they knew me and desired to see me. Hoping to find some of my campaign companions among them, I immediately called on them in company with several other gentlemen. I was then a bearded man, and doubted that they would recognize me, even if they had formerly known me in my soldier's simple garb; but I had hardly entered the room, when, after a moment's piercing scrutiny, one of them rushed across the floor and seized me by the hand. It was my old friend Bright Horn. “Different time this,” said he, “from when I last saw you.” “Yes,” I replied, “for it was just before we were taken prisoners together in Dudley's defeat--when we were begrimmed with the smoke of battle, and you had a few fresh scalps at your belt.” “And you,” he rejoined, “was very sick,” pointing to the place where an enemy's vagrant ball had penetrated my shoulder.

With the party was a tall, handsome youth--straight as an arrow--some 14 or 15 years of age. He was Logan's eldest son, who had visited Kentucky in company with some of his father's friends and relatives, with the privilege of deciding for himself whether he would remain or not. He said he could not stay. His heart yearned for playmates of his childhood and the wild woods surrounding his native village, and remaining a few days only, they all returned together.

Thus I have complied with your request and told you all I know of Logan and his family. Some old settlers on the Auglage River, near Wapogheonata, might give you further information, and to them I respectfully refer you. Hoping that you will kindly excuse the tediousness of my narrative, I remain very truly,
Your friend and most obedient servant, L. C.

To Charles L. Mosby, Esq.
Lynchburg, VA

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