Indian Raid

A Company of Heroes
by Dale Van Every

Always the great object was surprise. Always there was the swift and secret approach, the sudden, brief, incredibly violent eruption of death and devastation, and then the equally swift and secret withdrawal. The sudden demoniac materialization out of the previously silent and seemingly empty forest of a pack of howling savages, painted in grotesquely fearsome designs of red and black and green, appeared at first glance and from that first second an apparition too appalling to permit comprehension.

The composite family of this representative instance might have comprised a husband and wife, his mother, her brother, and six children ranging from an infant in arms to teenage boy and girl. The husband was shot as the Indians sprang from the woods before he could even reach for his rifle. The brother, seated on the ground against a stump while shaping a new hoe handle, crawled frantically into a nearby patch of weeds where in the attackers' extreme excitement he remained undiscovered. The lack of resistance failed to temper the initial ferocity of the Indian assault. The raiders appeared possessed by an insensate frenzy. The scalp was torn from the still living grandmother. The baby was snatched from its mother's arms and swung by its heels to crush its skull against a corner of the corncrib. The expiring head of the family was dismembered and his entrails festooned about the dooryard. His wife's breasts and unborn child were carved from her convulsed body and cast into the flames of the burning cabin. Every item of property too bulky to carry away was destroyed. After a brief consideration of their prospective abilities to keep pace on the return march the three younger children were dispatched, one casually axed, one tossed on the point of a spear, the third shot with arrows after being permitted to start running away. The scalps of all three children were removed with as much interest as had been their elders'. Their value at Detroit would equal that of any white adult's. The older boy and girl, selected to be carried off as captives, were not harmed. Aside from being beaten if they lagged they would be well enough treated on the way back. They, too, had a value. When they reached their captors' town they would be required to run the gauntlet, but thereafter their prospects would be subject to wide variations. Either or both might be burned for the stay-at-homes' edification, might be adopted into the tribe, or might be sold at Detroit at the going price of $100 in cash or trade for each prisoner.


A Company of Heroes by Dale Van Every, pages 119-120
William Morrow & Company, New York, 1962