Friday, December 5, 2014

Incident at William Parker's Place: episode 1

NoteRelationships, such as grandmother, 2nd great, etc., are expressed from the perspective of the grandchildren of Willis Edgar and Carrie (known as) Mae (Merritt) Musgrove.

Did you notice the title of this post? It's a throwback to the Throwback Thursday post this week. It seemed appropriate.

This story is about an Indian raid on the Parker house before grandmother (Merritt) Musgrove's grandmother, Sarah Ann Parker, was born to William Parker, Jr. and his wife, Betsy Strange. 

(click on family
tree to enlarge)

The story is told in History of Clinch County, Georgia - Giving the early history of the County down to the present time (1916), Compiled and Edited by Folks Huxford p. 13–16.

"Some time in the fall of 1836, a squad of Indians raided the home of Mr. William Parker, not far from where Milltown now is.  They carried his feather beds out in the yard, cut them open, emptied the feathers and appropriated the ticks.  They also robbed him of provisions, clothing and money in the sum of $308.  

Captain Levi J. Knight, in whose command Mr. Roberts was, was soon on trail of the squad
Historical Marker Last Indian Fight in Berrien County
and overtook them near the Allapaha River, not far from the Gaskins mill-pond.  The sun was just rising when the gallant company opened fire on the savages.  A lively fight ensued, soon terminating in the utter rout of the Indians, who threw their guns and plunder into the river and jumped in after them.  A few were killed and a number wounded.  

One Indian was armed with a fine shot-gun; this he threw into the river.  He also tried to throw into the stream a shot bag, but it was caught in the limb of a tree and suspended over the water.  Strange to say, it contained Mr. Parker's money, every cent of which was recovered.  The fine shot-gun was fished out of the river and afterwards sold for $40, a tremendous price for a gun in those days."

Below is Cpt. Levi Knight’s own account of the skirmish near William Parker’s place, written July 13, 1836, immediately after the encounter, reprinted in the The Constantine Republican on September 21, 1836 from the original publication in the Standard of Union on August 22. (edited for clarity);

To his Excellency William Schley:

Dear Sir: – I hasten to inform you of a defeat met by the hostile Creek Indians, in trying to pass through our country.  

On the 10th of this instant a party of Indians, about 15, were discovered near Aaron Mattoxe’s, in the 10th district of this county, by two of his sons. (They were) travelling an east course. 

And on the same day about 8 miles from where they were then by Mattox, and in the direction they were travelling, three were seen by Mrs. Boyett and daughter.

On the next day, Monday, a number of us, say 40, repaired to where (the Indians) were discovered by Mattoxe’s sons and took their trail.

They travelled very near east to the Allappaha swamp, almost twelve miles; and passing, were discovered by Mrs. Boyett, about one mile south.  

Night setting in, we were compelled to make up camp on the swamp of the Allappaha. About dark, and in a few minutes after we had encamped, two runners came to us stating that the Indians, at two hours before sunset, were at Wm. Parker’s four miles above, plundering his house.  

In the morning of Tuesday we divided our force, which had increased in the day to near eighty men, and sent all but 35 men over the river to rendezvous where they were expected to cross. 

We then repaired to Wm. Parker’s (and) found that they had robbed his house of every thing of value in it; (among) many other things, about 25 lbs. of powder, 30 bars of lead, and 140 weight of shot; also $308 in money.  

We took their trail through a most desperate swamp - through lakes and creeks, several of them up to our arm pits, and bushes and briers almost impenetrable by any human being other than a savage - for two miles. 

Then we came to their camp, on a large lake near the river bank. Here the trail bore up the river, a north(erly) course to Gaskin’s ferry, eight miles of Parker’s. 

Here we dispatched a runner to our force which had crossed the river, to recross and come up to us. As the trail continued up the river, and now a little north west, our men pressed forward with a zeal and fierceness that would surmount any difficulty. 

By night we were so near them that we knew where the camp was – about ten miles above Gaskin’s ferry – an open bluff opposite Mr. Mitchell’s. (It) was examined by a party of our men after sunset and found the Indians had not passed. Continuing (on) within two miles, with night now setting in (and) our reinforcement coming up, we encamped at Mr. Mitchell’s. 

In the morning at day break our party again divided. Thirty-eight men were posted on the bluff, their left resting on the river bank and their right extending about two hundred yards right out from the river, silently awaiting the approach of the enemy. Jesse Carter was chosen to command on the left, William A. Knight in the centre, and William Peters on the right.  

Thirty-three (men) repaired down to where we could again find the trail, bearing up until we came in sight of our men that were posted at the bluff. (There) we saw (the Indians) charging down towards us, bearing into a point of bushes in a small bend of the river. A tremendous fire ensu(ed). Our trailers dashed off at the top of their speed. 

Mr. Peter’s company, who were in the lead, dashed up among the enemy. (The Indians) had selected their position in a clump of pines and bushes at the river bank and fired at our men, who were coming up with great bravery.  

Mr Peters was badly wounded in the right breast and the left side of the abdomen. He fell, but cried out to his men to charge on the whole force. Bearing in from above and below, few had discharged their guns. (They were) reserving their fire to see an object to shoot at and charging at the top of their speed. 

The Indians dropped every thing, throwing their guns into the river, and plunged in for life. Our men ran to the bank and shot them while swimming. Only six made their escape to the other bank, and from their trail, two or three of them were wounded.  

There were about from 20 to 25 (Indians). One squaw was shot in the back with four buck shot, (which) we ascertained by the dress she dropped at the edge of the water.  (It) was perforated with holes. She was heard to make a noise until she arrived to the middle of the stream, when all was silent, as the warriors never yelled after they dropped their guns. 

(Fifteen) of their packs were found and ten of ther (sic) guns was got out of the river by our best swimmers. Two of the Indians that were nearest the bank were got out, and left a prey to the buzzards and wild beasts on the bank.  Parker’s property was nearly all obtained and his money was found in one of the shot-bags; found in the river in his own pocket book, his name being written in several places.  

One of the number of these marauders was from every appearance a white man, from his dress and complexion. It was in the shot-bag carried by him the money was found. He was never seen to climb up the opposite bank, so he has paid for his treachery. 

The six that got across the river reached the bank naked, except their flaps. We trust this rebuke will be a caution to the next party that may try to pass through our country.  

I have the honor to be your excellency’s most obedient and humble servant,

N. B.  We had but two commissioned officers among us, and they both captains, who only filled the place of privates as the company claimed the right of choosing their own leaders.  I forgot to state that myself was chosen to lead  on the trailers, Ivy Simmons to second, and Wm. C. Knight third or in the rear. L. J. K.

P. S. – Their guns and ammunition and property of every kind was sold on the spot, and the proceeds given to Wm. Peters, as he was the only sufferer – their property amounted to $170.  They had some valuable guns. 

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