|Ohio Revisited: Belmont County, Part 12 -- Indian Attack on Kirkwood's Cabin at Bridgeport.|
by Henry Howe.
In the spring of 1791 the cabin of Captain Kirkwood was attacked at night by a party of Indians, who, after a severe action, were repulsed. This Captain Kirkwood "was the gallant and unrewarded Captain Kirkwood, of the Delaware line, in the war of the revolution, to whom such frequent and honorable allusion is made in Lee's memoir of the Southern campaigns. The State of Delaware had but one continental regiment, which, with its defeat at Camden, was reduced to a single company. It was therefore impossible, under the rules, for Kirkwood to be promoted; and he was under the mortification of beholding inferior officers in the regiments of other States, promoted over him, while he, with all his merit, was compelled to remain a captain, solely because of the small force Delaware was able to maintain in the service. He fought with distinguished gallantry through the war, and was in the bloody battles of Camden, Holkirks, Eutaw, and Ninety-six."
Captain Kirkwood moved to Bridgeport (Ohio) in 1789, and built his cabin on a knoll. There was then an unfinished blockhouse on the highest part of the knoll, nearby. On the night of the attack, fourteen soldiers, under Captain Joseph Biggs, with Captain Kirkwood and family, were in the cabin. About two hours before daybreak the captain's little son, Joseph, had occasion to leave the cabin for a few moments, and requested Captain Biggs to accompany him. They were out only a few minutes, and, although unknown to them, were surrounded by Indians. They had returned, and again retired to sleep in the upper loft, when they soon discovered the roof was on fire, which was the first indication they had of the presence of an enemy.
Captain Kirkwood was instantly awakened, and he and his men commenced pushing off the roof. The Indians at the same time fired on them from under the cover of the blockhouse. Captain Biggs, on the first alarm, ran down the ladder into the room below to get his rifle when a ball entered a window and wounded him in the wrist. Soon the Indians had surrounded the house, and attempted to break in the door with their tomahawks. Those within braced it with puncheons from the floor. In the panic of the moment several of the men wanted to escape from the cabin, but Captain Kirkwood silenced them with the threat of taking the life of the first man who made the attempt -- asserting that the Indians would tomahawk them as fast as they left.
The people of Wheeling -- one mile distant -- hearing the noise of the attack, fired a swivel gun to encourage the defenders, although fearful of coming to the rescue. This enraged the Indians even more; they sent forth terrific yells, and brought brush, piled it around the cabin, and set it on fire. Those within attempted to smother the flames, first with the water and milk in the house, and then with damp earth from the floor of the cabin.
The fight was kept up about two hours, until dawn, when the Indians retreated. Had they attacked earlier, success would have resulted. The loss of the Indians was unknown -- only one was certain. That Indian was in the act of climbing up the corner of the cabin when he was discovered, let go his hold and fell. Seven of those in the cabin were wounded, and one, a Mr. Walker, died of his wounds. He was a brave man. As he lay, disabled and helpless, on his back, on the earth, he called out to the Indians in a taunting manner. He died in a few hours, and was buried the next day, at Wheeling, with military honors.
A party of men, under Gen. Benjamin Biggs, of West Liberty, went on an unsuccessful pursuit of the Indians. A niece of Captain Kirkwood, during the attack, was on a visit about twenty miles distant, on Buffalo Creek. In the night she dreamed that the cabin was attacked, and heard the guns. So strong an impression did it make, that she arose and rode down with all her speed to Wheeling, where she arrived two hours after sunrise.
After this affair Captain Kirkwood moved his family to Newark, Delaware. On his route he met with some of St. Clair's troops, then on their way to Cincinnati. Exasperated at the Indians for their attack upon his house, Kirkwood accepted the command of a company of Delaware troops, and was with them at the defeat of St. Clair the following November -- "where he fell in a brave attempt to repel the enemy with the bayonet, and thus closed a career as honorable as it was unrewarded."
Elizabeth Zane, who acted with so much heroism at the siege of Wheeling, in 1782, lived many years since about two miles above Bridgeport, on the Ohio side of the river, near Martinsville, She was twice married, first to Mr. M'Laughlin, and secondly to Mr. Clark.
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.
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