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PAGE 2

The Canoe Fight (Incident Of The Creek War)
by [?]

Concealing his men in the bushes, behind trees, and under the river-bank, he replied to the fire of the Indians, and kept them at bay. But it was certain that this could not last long. The Indians must soon find out from the firing how small the number of their adversaries was; and Dale knew that as soon as the discovery was made, they would rush upon him, and put the whole party to death.

He called to the men on the other side of the river to come over and help him, but they were panic-stricken, probably because they could see, as Dale could not, how large a body of Indians was pressing their commander. The men on the other bank did, indeed, make one or two slight attempts to cross, but those came to nothing, and the little party on the eastern shore seemed doomed to destruction.

Bad as matters were with Dale, they soon became worse. An immense canoe, more than thirty feet long and four feet deep, came down the river, bearing eleven warriors, who undertook to land and attack Dale in the rear. This compelled the party to fight in two directions at once. Dale and his companions kept up the battle in front, while Jerry Austill, James Smith, and one other man fought the warriors in the canoe to keep them from landing. One of the eleven was killed, and another swam ashore and succeeded in joining the Indians on the bank.

Seeing how desperate the case was, Dale resolved upon a desperate remedy. He called for volunteers for a dangerous piece of work, and was at once joined by Jerry Austill, James Smith, and a negro man whose name was Caesar. With these men he leaped into the little canoe, and paddled towards the big Indian boat, meaning to fight the nine Indians who remained in it, although he and his canoe party numbered only four men all told.

As the two canoes approached each other, both parties tried to fire, but their gunpowder was wet, and so they grappled for a hand-to-hand battle. Jerry Austill, being in front, received the first attack. No sooner did the two canoes touch than an Indian sprang forward, and dealt the youth a terrible blow with a war-club, knocking him down, and making a dent in his skull which he carried through life. Once down, he would have been killed but for the quickness of Smith, who, seeing the danger his companion was in, raised his rifle. With a single blow he knocked over the Indian with whom Austill was struggling.

Then Austill rose, and the fierce contest went on. Dale and his men rained their blows upon their foes, and received blows quite as lusty in return, but Caesar managed the boat so skilfully that, in spite of the superior numbers of the Indians, the fight was not very unequal. He held the little boat against the big one, but kept it at the end, so that the Indians in the other end of the big canoe could not reach Dale’s men.

In this way those that were actually fighting Dale, Austill, and Smith never numbered more than three or four at any one time, and so the three could not be borne down by mere force of numbers. Dale stood for a time with one foot in each boat; then he stepped over into the Indian canoe, giving his comrades more room, and crowding the Indians towards the end of their boat.

One by one the savages fell, until only one was left facing Dale, who held Caesar’s gun, with bayonet attached, in his hand. This sole survivor was Tar-cha-chee, an Indian with whom Dale had hunted and lived, one whom he regarded as a friend, and whom he now wished to spare. But the savage was strong within the Indian’s breast, and he refused to accept mercy even from a man who had been his comrade and friend. Standing erect in the bow of the canoe, he shook himself, and said, in the Muscogee tongue, “Big Sam, you are a man, I am another; now for it.”