by Jonathan F.
Some years ago, I was one of a convivial party, that met in the
principal hotel in the town of Columbus, Ohio, the seat of government
of the Buckeye State.
It was a winter evening when all without was bleak and stormy, and
all within were blythe and gay; when song and story made the circuit of
the festive board, filling up the chasms of life with mirth and
We had met for the express purpose of making a night of it, and the
pious intention was duly and most religiously carried out. The
Legislature was in session in that town, and not a few of the worthy
legislators were present upon this occasion.
One of these worthies I will name, as he not only took a big swath
in the evening's entertainment, but he was a man more generally
known than our worthy President, James K. Polk. That man was the famous
Captain Riley! whose narrative of suffering and adventures is pretty
generally known, all over the civilized world. Captain Riley was a
fine, fat, good-humored joker, who at the period of my story was the
representative of the Dayton district, and lived near that little city
when at home. Well, Captain Riley had amused the company with many of
his far-famed and singular adventures, which being mostly told before
and read by millions of people, that have ever seen his book, I will
not attempt to repeat them.
Many were the stories and adventures told by the company, when it
came to the turn of a well known gentleman who represented the
Cincinnati district. As Mr. is yet among the living, and perhaps
not disposed to be the subject of joke or story, I do not feel at
liberty to give his name. Mr. was a slow believer of other men's
adventures, and at the same time much disposed to magnify himself into
a marvellous hero whenever the opportunity offered. As Captain Riley
wound up one of his truthful, though really marvellous adventures, Mr.
coolly remarked, that the captain's story was all very well,
but it did not begin to compare with an adventure that he had once
upon a time on the Ohio, below the present city of Cincinnati.
Let's have it! Let's have it! resounded from all hands.
Well, gentlemen, said the Senator, clearing his voice for action
and knocking the ashes from his cigar against the arm of his chair.
Gentlemen, I am not in the habit of spinning yarns of marvellous or
fictitious matters; and therefore it is scarcely necessary to affirm
upon the responsibility of my reputation, gentlemen, that what I am
about to tell you, I most solemnly proclaim to be truth, and
Oh! never mind that, go on, Mr. , chimed the party.
Well, gentlemen, in 18I came down the Ohio river, and settled at
Losanti, now called Cincinnati. It was, at that time, but a little
settlement of some twenty or thirty log and frame cabins, and where now
stands the Broadway Hotel and blocks of stores and dwelling houses, was
the cottage and corn patch of old Mr. , a tailor, who, by the by,
bought that land for the making of a coat for one of the settlers.
Well, I put up my cabin, with the aid of my neighbors, and put in a
patch of corn and potatoes, about where the Fly Market now stands, and
set about improving my lot, house, &c.
Occasionally, I took up my rifle, and started off with my dog down
the river, to look up a little deer, or bar meat, then very
plenty along the river. The blasted red skins were lurking about, and
hovering around the settlement, and every once in a while picked off
some of our neighbors, or stole our cattle or horses. I hated the red
demons, and made no bones of peppering the blasted sarpents whenever I
got a sight at them. In fact, the red rascals had a dread of me, and
had laid a great many traps to get my scalp, but I wasn't to be catch'd
napping. No, no, gentlemen, I was too well up to 'em for that.
Well, I started off one morning, pretty early, to take a hunt, and
travelled a long way down the river, over the bottoms and hills, but
couldn't find no bar nor deer. About four o'clock in the
afternoon, I made tracks for the settlement again. By and by, I sees a
buck just ahead of me, walking leisurely down the river. I slipped up,
with my faithful old dog close in my rear, to within clever shooting
distance, and just as the buck stuck his nose in the drink, I drew a
bead upon his top-knot and over he tumbled, and splurged and
bounded awhile, when I came up and relieved him by cutting his wizen
Well, but what had that to do with an adventure? said
Hold on a bit, if you please, gentlemenby Jove it had a great
deal to do with it. For while I was busy skinning the hind quarters of
the buck, and stowing away the kidney-fat in my hunting shirt, I heard
a noise like the breaking of brush under a moccasin up 'the bottom.' My
dog heard it and started up to reconnoitre, and I lost no time in
reloading my rifle. I had hardly got my priming out before my dog
raised a howl and broke through the brush towards me with his tail
down, as he was not used to doing unless there were wolves, painters
(panthers) or Injins about.
I picked up my knife, and took up my line of march in a skulking
trot up the river. The frequent gullies, on the lower bank, made it
tedious travelling there, so I scrabbled up to the upper bank, which
was pretty well covered with buckeye and sycamore and very little
under-brush. One peep below discovered to me three as big and strapping
red rascals, gentlemen, as you ever clapt your eyes on! Yes, there they
came, not above six hundred yards in my rear. Shouting and yelling like
hounds, and coming after me like all possessed.
Well, said an old woodsman sitting at the table, you took a tree
Did I? No, gentlemen! I took no tree just then, but I took to my
heels like sixty, and it was just as much as my old dog could do to
keep up with me. I run until the whoops of my red skins grew fainter
and fainter behind me; and clean out of wind, I ventured to look behind
me, and there came one single red whelp, puffing and blowing, not three
hundred yards in my rear. He had got on to a piece of bottom where the
trees were small and scarcenow, thinks I, old fellow, I'll have you.
So I trotted off at a pace sufficient to let my follower gain on me,
and when he had got just about near enough, I wheeled and fired, and
down I brought him, dead as a door nail, at a hundred and twenty
Then you skelp'd (scalped) him immediately? said the backwoodsman.
Very clear of it, gentlemen, for by the time I got my rifle loaded,
here came the other two red skins, shouting and whooping close on me,
and away I broke again like a quarter horse. I was now about five miles
from the settlement, and it was getting towards sunset; I ran till my
wind began to be pretty short, when I took a look back and there they
came snorting like mad buffaloes, one about two or three hundred yards
ahead of the other, so I acted possum again until the foremost Injin
got pretty well up, and I wheeled and fired at the very moment he was
'drawing a bead' on me; he fell head over stomach into the dirt,
and up came the last one!
So you laid for him and gasped several.
No, continued the member, I didn't lay for him, I hadn't time
to load, so I layed legs to ground, and started again. I heard
every bound he made after me. I ran and ran, until the fire flew out of
my eyes, and the old dog's tongue hung out of his mouth a quarter of a
Phe-e-e-e-w! whistled somebody.
Fact! gentlemen. Well, what I was to do I didn't knowrifle empty,
no big trees about, and a murdering red Indian not three hundred yards
in my rear; and, what was worse, just then it occurred to me that I was
not a great ways from a big creek, (now called Mill Creek,) and there I
should be pinned at last.
Just at this juncture I struck my toe against a root, and down I
tumbled, and my old dog over me. Before I could scrabble up
The Indian fired! gasped the old woodsman.
He did, gentlemen, and I felt the ball strike me under the
shoulder; but that didn't seem to put any embargo upon my locomotion,
for as soon as I got up I took off again, quite freshened by my fall! I
heard the red skin close behind me coming booming on, and every minute
I expected to have his tomahawk dashed into my head or shoulders.
Something kind of cool began to trickle down my legs into my
Blood, eh? for the shot the varmint gin you, said the old
woodsman, in a great state of excitement.
I thought so, said the Senator, but what do you think it was?
Not being blood, we were all puzzled to know what the blazes it
could be. When Riley observed
I suppose you had
Melted the deer fat which I had stuck in the breast of my hunting
shirt, and the grease was running down my legs until my feet got so
greasy that my heavy boots flew off, and one hitting the dog, nearly
knocked his brains out.
We all grinned, which the member noticing, observed
I hope, gentlemen, no man here will presume to think I'm
O, certainly not! Go on, Mr. , we all chimed in.
Well, the ground under my feet was soft, and being relieved of my
heavy boots, I put off with double quick time, and seeing the creek
about half a mile off, I ventured to look over my shoulder to see what
kind of a chance there was to hold up and load. The red skin was coming
jogging along pretty well blowed out, about five hundred yards in the
rear. Thinks I, here goes to load any how. So at it I wentin went the
powder, and putting on my patch, down went the ball about half-way, and
off snapped my ramrod!
Thunder and lightning! shouted the old woodsman, who was worked up
to the top-notch in the member's story.
Good gracious! wasn't I in a pickle! There was the red whelp within
two hundred yards of me, pacing along and loading up his rifle as he
came! I jerked out the broken ramrod, dashed it away and started
on, priming up as I cantered off, determined to turn and give the red
skin a blast any how, as soon as I reached the creek.
I was now within a hundred yards of the creek, could see the smoke
from the settlement chimneys; a few more jumps and I was by the creek.
The Indian was close upon mehe gave a whoop, and I raised my rifle;
on he came, knowing that I had broken my ramrod and my load not down;
another whoop! whoop! and he was within fifty yards of me! I pulled
And killed him? chuckled Riley.
No, sir! I missed fire!
And the red skin shouted the old woodsman in a phrenzy of
Fired and killed me!
The screams and shouts that followed this finale brought landlord
Noble, servants and hostlers, running up stairs to see if the house was