Captina Creek is a considerable stream entering the Ohio River near the southeast corner of Belmont County. On its banks at an early date a considerable contest took place between Indians and early settlers known as "the battle of Captina." Its incidents have often and variously been given. Here the events are related by Martin Baker, who was at that time a boy of about twelve years of age -- living at Baker's Fort:
One mile below the mouth of Captina, on the Virginia (later the West Virginia) shore, was Baker's Fort, which was named after my father. One morning in May 1794, four men were sent over according to the custom, to the Ohio side to reconnoitre for Indians. They were Adam Miller, John Daniels, Isaac M'Cowan and John Shoptaw. Miller and Daniels went upstream, the other two down.
The upper scouts were soon attacked by Indians, and Miller killed. Daniels ran up Captina about three miles, but being weak from the loss of blood resulting from a wound in his arm, he was taken prisoner and carried into captivity. He subsequently was released at the treaty of Greenville.
The lower scouts having discovered signs of the enemy, Shoptaw swam across the Ohio and escaped, but M'Gowan going up towards the canoe, was shot by Indians from ambush. Upon this he ran down to the bank and sprang into the water, pursued by the enemy, who overtook and scalped him.
The firing being heard at the fort, volunteers were recruited to respond. There were about fifty men then in the fort. However, they were reluctant to volunteer. Thereupon, my sister exclaimed that "She wouldn't be a coward." This roused the pride of my brother, John Baker, who prior to his sister's statement had determined not to go. He joined a number of other men -- fourteen in all -- including Capt. Abram Enochs.
This small party soon crossed the river, and went up Captina Creek in single file for a distance of a mile and a half -- following the Indian trail. The Indians had doubled back on their trail, and were waiting on the hillside to ambush the party. When sufficiently near, the Indians opened fire upon our people, but being on an elevated position, their balls passed harmlessly over them.
The whites then sought shelter behind some trees. Some of the Indians circled behind them and shot Capt. Enochs and Mr. Hoffman. Our people soon retreated, and the Indians pursued them a short distance. On their retreat my brother was shot in the hip.
Determined to sell his life as dearly as possible, my brother drew off to one side of the trail and hid himself in a hollow with a rock at his back, offering no chance for the Indians to approach him except from the front. Shortly thereafter two gunshots were heard in quick succession, one of which was undoubtedly fired by my brother. From the signs afterwards, it was believed he had killed an Indian.
The next day the men at the fort turned out and visited the spot. Enochs, Hoffman, and John Baker were found dead and scalped. Enoch's bowels were torn out, his eyes and those of Hoffman screwed out with a wiping-stick.
The dead were wrapped in white hickory bark, and brought over to the Virginia shore, where they were buried in their bark coffins. There were about thirty Indians engaged in this action, and seven skeletons of their slain were found long after -- hidden in the crevices of rocks.
M'Donald, in his biographical sketch of Governor M'Arthur, who was in this action, says that after the death of Capt. Enochs, M'Arthur, although the youngest man in the company, was unanimously called upon to direct the retreat. The wounded who were able to walk were placed in front, while M'Arthur with his Spartan band covered the retreat. The moment an Indian showed himself in pursuit he was fired upon, and generally, it is believed, with effect.
The Indians suffered such losses that they gave up the pursuit. The Indians were commanded by the Shawnee chief, Charley Wilkey. Wilkey later told the author (M'Donald) that the battle of Captina was the most severe conflict he ever experienced. Wilkey noted that although he had the advantage of the high ground and the first fire, he lost most of his men -- half of whom were either killed or wounded.
This entry is adapted from Henry Howe's HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS OF OHIO (2 vols., 1907). The book has been reedited, updated, and restructured for inclusion in the Pierian Press Fulltext eBooks database, and is included on the Stratton House Inn Web site by special permission. This entry is licensed for use ONLY on this Web site. This entry may not be copied or downloaded, but may be used for educational purposes and personal pleasure under fair-use provisions via this Web site. Please note that the Stratton House Inn iteration of this entry does NOT include the subject headings assigned the entry for use in the Fulltext eBooks database.
CO-AUTHOR: Howe, Henry.
DATABASE: Fulltext eBooks: Copyright (c) 1998 The Pierian Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved
ENTRY NUMBER: EBK31135101