Floyd to Col. William Preston.
MOUTH OF THE GREAT KANHAWA, Oct. 16, 1774.
From Documentary History of Dunmore's War, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites and Louise Phelps Kellogg (Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 1905), p. 266-69
MY DEAR SIR - I have heard for some days past that there was some person going into the inhabitants; I have gone through the camp to find an opportunity of sending you a few lines, but I don't yet know of any sure of going. I think I wrote you by Vance the time we marched from the Levels; we went on without loss of time & arrived at the mouth of Elk in eight days, where we understood Col. Lewis with all the troops had set out for this place five days before. Col. Christian thought it necessary for Col. Slaughter with all the Lowlanders to wait at Elk for the return of the canoes which took down flour for the advanced party, & to guard the flour left there by us, as all the pack-horses were disloaded at Elk.
As Col Christian had no instructions left at Elk how to act, and as he had before marched from the Levels sooner than his orders allowed him, he thought proper to send down the scouts, Knox, Smith & two others, to see how things stood, and at the same time wrote Col. Lewis he should follow on the day after they left him. which we did being the 6th. instant, with about 350 beeves and left 24000 lbs of flour with Col. Slaughter The 9th about 12 o'clock we met the scouts on their return, with a letter from Col. Lewis, directing Col. Christian to leave 50 beeves at Elk for those who would be there from time to time; & that our junction at that time would only serve to eat one another up. These instructions he could not comply with, without sending some of us back; he therefore called the officers together, & with their advice thought proper to march on as we were. The tenth in the afternoon about twelve or fifteen miles from the Ohio, the news met us that the army was attacked that morning early by a large body of Indians. We pushed on and got in about midnight, where we were very kindly received; and I imagine if our number had been double what we were, we should not have been complained of for that. I understand we were much prayed for that day in time of the engagement. Col. Christian has wrote you so full about the battle, and enclosed you a list of the killed &c, that he says I may refer you to him about that. I will just mention what my opinion is about some things, as there are many conjectures with regard to the number of Indians &c; some think eight hundred, some one thousand. Col. Christian and the party which marched out with him went up the Ohio next day, as it was said they intended to fight that day also; and in searching about & seeing the track the Indians made and the rafts they crossed the .river on, it is my opinion there were not more than five hundred at most, but they fought desperately, I believe, & retreated in such a manner as to carry off all their wounded & only retired to a thick place where there had been a town & damned the white men for sons of bitches, to come on; which they did not chose to do, & retreated also. It really appears to me to have been partly a drawn battle: Some gentlemen tell me it appeared doubtful for some time, and sure it is that our men drew back once about the first of the engagement far enough for the Indians to scalp three of our men. I am also told there were never more than three or four hundred of our men in action at once, but the trees & logs the whole way from the camp to where the line of battle was formed, served as shelters for those who could not be prevailed on to advance to where the fire was.
There was no one officer who had his own men; there were first 300 sent out, some from each company, and when they found there was fighting enough for the whole, it was impossible for the officers to collect their own men so that when they saw any doing no good, and ordered them to advance, they refused and said they would be commanded by their own officers. Certain it is, that about the number I mentioned & many of the officers fought with a great deal of courage and behaved like heroes, while others lurked behind and could by no means be induced to advance to the front.
Col. Christian has told you all that is to be done, and also about the Governor, so that I can say nothing that will give you more knowledge of what is in hand. It is the opinion of many who pretend to be judges, that we shall have fighting enough before long.
The season is so far advanced, I imagine I shan't return by Kentucky this time; if I don't, I shall lose no time after this affair is over in returning to finish my business in the settlement, if I live to return at all; and will ever be, my dear sir, your most affectionate, and obedient servt., while
Hope to have a line from you before long.
Connections Room Two