Thursday, December 27, 2012

Virginia's Frontier Spies, 1781

Joseph Martin to Arthur Campbell Washington
                                        Long Island, Virginia the 22d April 1781


     I Returnd to this place on friday last after a Tour of 19 Days.  It happend very fortunate our going out at the Time we Did as there was a large Body of Indians Collected in powel's Valley which we should most certainly have fallen in with if Majr. Lewis had not alarm'd them.  I was at one Camp wheare there could not be less than a hundred.  Several other trails of Smaller parties all making towards the mouth of powels River only one partie which Seemd the fresehest which We followed about thirty miles below Cumberland Gap Came up with htem Incampt Surrounded them undiscovered But the Camp being so close we Could not Discover them before they run out.  We fired about thirty Guns on them.  Seveeral of the Seem'd to be Badly wounded.  The Cain was so thick they Could not be presued on horseback  We got five guns Blankets shot pouches &c.  On  one of their horses was wrote in full John Brown.  They said Brown was killd in Cumberland Gap which induced me to believe it is the party that always watches that place. 
      By such a body as was Collecting it appears that they Either Intended to attack the Stations or strike a heavy Blow on our frontiers.  I made no stay at the Camp but pushed on as fast possible for about seventy miles further being still on fresh sign when the men stopt and refused to go any further Saying I was taking them to Chickamogga that we was To weak their provisions near out and their horse Tyerd.  I Did Everything in my power to prevail on then to Go about ten miles further but Could not.  I am Convinced we was withint a few miles of Some Town as I saw whear they took in meat on horseback the blood not dry on the bushes.  They have Taken a number of horses that way this Spring.  Should write more particular but Mr. Price will deliver this to you who will Give you a particular account of the whole.  In the mean time I Beg leave to onform you that I an very Desirous of going to the End of the path we left if men and provision Can be had at any rate as our frontiers must Expect Great Distress from that quarter if they are not Broke up.
      Mr. Price Says if he Meets with your approbation he Can Raise 50 men at any time.  He has behaved very well on this Tour being on of the Spies.  Our whole stock of provision of seting out from the Cove was 2 1/2 of [lbs?] Bacon and a half Bushel of Corn pr. man.  Our Strenght 65 men Including officers.
      I am Sr. with Great Regard your most obd Sert,
                                                                                 JOS MARTIN

P  S  The Body of Indians Broke on our approach as we saw sign of several small parties makeing home.  I Cant hear whether Colo. Savier [Sevier] went to mee the Messenger was sent to the nation or not.  I am Told these was a woman and Child Killd on lick Creek last week.  Should any news arrive from the nation shall send you Imediately.  I am very Desireous of hearing the news from Cornwallace.  Beg you will write me by the first Opertunity.    JM.[1]

[1] Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 5, Julian P. Boyd, ed.,  Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ, 1952. (534-5).

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