RailsandTrails.com - Texts - 1854 Ohio Railroad Guide

  Ashley to Galion - Crawford's Defeat  

ASHLEY, 150 miles from Cincinnati, and 104 from Cleveland, is a small, new place, in Morrow county. This and the next five places, have wholly grown up since the location of the railroad.

CARDINGTON, 156 miles from Cincinnati, and 96 miles from Cleveland, is another new village of Morrow county. It contains about 400 inhabitants, and from all appearances, is growing with rapidity.

GILEAD STATION, 161 miles from Cincinnati, 41 miles from Columbus, and 91 from Cleveland. The village is about 22 miles to the east. Gilead is the county seat of Morrow, and contains about 800 inhabitants. It formerly belonged to Marion county, from which it was set off, to make the new county.

GALION, 174 miles from Cincinnati, and 78 from Cleveland. This is chiefly distinguished as a railroad station, and the intersection of the Cincinnati and Cleveland Railroad, with the Bellefontaine and Indiana Railroad. The Bellefontaine and Indiana is 118 miles in length, and at Union, the State line of Ohio and Indiana, connects with the Indianapolis and Bellefontaine Railroad, 83 miles in length, which make 201 miles from Galion to Indianapolis. There it connects with the various railroads going to Madison, Terre Haute, and La Fayette.

Galion is in the county of Crawford,--one corner of which we pass through.

Crawford county was named from Col. William Crawford, who also gave name to CRAWFORD'S DEFEAT, one of the most disastrous battles which ever took place between the whites and Indians. Crawford was a Virginian, born in the same year with Washington-who was his friend, and often, in his visits to the west, became an inmate of his humble dwelling, in Fayette county, Pennsylvania. He raised a regiment in the Revolution, by his own exertions, and became a Colonel of Continentals. In 1783, he very reluctantly engaged in this expedition against the Indians, the result of which was total defeat, and his own death, amidst excruciating tortures.

Whatever might have been Crawford's merits, the result was a measure of just retribution. In the preceding year, the whites attacked and destroyed the innocent and unoffending Christian Indians, at the Moravian Towns. The leader of this most cruel and horrid outrage, was a Col. Williamson. The poor Indians, unsuspicious, had quietly surrendered to Williamson and his men; who decided they should all be killed, -- murdered. Their faith and devotion never left them; but they died amidst their prayers. "Their orisons were already ascending the throne of the Most High! The sound of the Christian hymn, and the Christian prayer, found an echo in the surrounding woods, but no responsive feeling in the bosom of their executioners. With gun, and spear, and tomahawk, and scalping knife, the work- of death progressed in these slaughter houses, till not a sigh or moan was heard, to proclaim the existence of human life within. All died, save two Indian boys, who escaped, as if by miracle, to be witnesses in after times, of the savage cruelty of the white man towards their unfortunate race." Congress felt the atrocity of this act, and passed an ordinance for the encouragement of the Moravian Missions. Providence, however, avenged this murder in the most signal manner, as if purposely to mark the divine displeasure on the persecutors of his servants.

As we have said, in the year following, Col. Crawford reluctantly led a large body of frontier men, in another expedition against the Indians. Let it not be supposed, that any sentiment of mercy or humanity had entered the hearts of this body, in consequence of the preceding atrocities. On the contrary, this expedition was planned to destroy the Wyandot towns, on the Sandusky; and it was resolved to spare neither man, woman, or child friendly or unfriendly. The intention of the whites was to proceed with secrecy; but this was vain. The Indians--by their scouts-knew their numbers, object, and plan. The army reached the upper Moravian towns; but they were deserted. It pursued its way across the Sandusky plains, till the Indians were met in full force. A battle ensued, in which neither party had the victory; but the Indians continued to increase in such numbers, that a retreat took place at night. In the retreat, several large parties detached themselves from the main body, thinking thus to avoid the Indians ; but it turned out the reverse. These parties were nearly all cut off and destroyed. Col. Crawford, who had lingered behind, to look for, and save some of his friends, was cut off, and taken by the Indians. He was carried to the Indian towns, and after many tortures and cruelties, was burnt alive.

The danger of being found in bad company, was never more signally illustrated, than in this instance. Williamson, it was, as I have related, who had commanded the party, which destroyed the Moravian towns. The Indians looked upon him, as not only a cruel, but a very bad man, and were determined to have full vengeance. When Crawford took command of the second party, they associated him with Williamson--although they knew and had a good opinion of him. This association with Williamson, was the cause of his cruel death; for when Crawford sent for Wingemunn, a chief whom he knew, and who was friendly to him, Wingemunn told him that nothing could be clone to save him; for he was in company with that bad man, Williamson. Crawford answered, that he went out to restrain Williamson, and prevent him from committing cruelties. Wingemunn replied, that the Indians would not believe that, if he told them; for they knew he could not prevent them.

A paragraph from this dialogue, as reported by Heckewelder, is worth quoting; for it shows the Indian sagacity and sense of justice. It is given thus:

Crawford -- Out of my power! Have any Moravian Indians been killed or hurt since we came out?

Wingemunn -- None; but you first went to their town, and finding it deserted, you turned on the path towards us. If you had been in search of warriors only, you would not have gone thither. Our spies watched you closely. They saw you while you were embodying yourselves on the other side of the Ohio. They saw you cross the river. They saw where you encamped for the night. They saw you turn off from the path to the deserted American town. They knew you were going out of the way. Your steps were constantly watched, and you were suffered quietly to proceed, until you reached the spot where you were attacked."

Crawford felt that with this sentence, ended his last ray of hope, and now asked with emotion, "what do they intend to do with me ?"

Wingemunn -- I tell you with grief. As Williamson and his whole cowardly host, ran off in the night, at the whistling of our warriors' balls, being satisfied that now lie had no Moravians to deal with, but men who could fight, and with such lie did not wish to have anything to do. I say, as they have escaped; and taken you, they will take revenge on you, in his stead."

And so they did. And the story of Crawford's defeat will long be remembered, for its woes and its losses. But was it not retributive justice? Was ever anything more cruel, more awfully unjust, than the slaughter of the peaceful, unoffending Moravian Indians? Was there ever a greater iniquity, than that act, as described by Wingemunn, of turning off from their real enemies, to pursue a second time, these poor Moravians?

I have given the story, as an illustration of our border wars, and of the frequent instances in which the whites were the aggressors. I have already said, that in fact, and ultimately, the barbarous Indians could have no solid right to a continent which they were unable to cultivate or civilize. That is true; but, atrocities such as that upon the Moravian Indians, can have no apology in any human code of morals. It was a dark wrong -- diabolical in its spirit, and inhuman in its act.