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Now the fight began to reach its highest acme, and in the midst of its awful sublimity, Watts reeled and fell: a blunderbuss had been discharged, and a missile had struck him. He was immediately borne bleeding and fainting from the fatal field on a horse-litter; but still courageous, their numbers were rushing against the trembling little battlements, as an avalanche from the brow of a mountain; but Buchanan's men stood firmly up to and fearlessly pressed their noble bosoms against the inner walls of the fort, rapidly loading and firing, and dreaming of nothing but a glorious victory, which they were resolved to achieve or be entombed with the dead. The hoarse voice of their old Cincinnatus-like commander, who had left his plough to lead the armies of his country to battle and to glory, was distinctly heard amid the clamorous volley of guns, as it were the thunder which rolled between each broad sheet of lightning that flashed along the walls, and now when one would think that his voice had strained the last nerve in the fort to cords of steel, it was but to show the forge for a higher tempering. Still, another more powerful incentive was springing up, which as the poet has said would make a coward brave. Mrs. Buchanan, who had been moulding bullets with her own hands, now caught their eyes; she was actually on the battle-ground, amid the terror of the conflict, with them in her apron, busily flying to and fro, distributing them as she went to her heroic defenders; enough to make an American soldier press through fire and storm, and pour out his last precious drop of blood upon the altar of his country. This wonderful woman has left to the Republic as a legacy her descendants, who would number, we think, over a hundred warriors, who are now able to bear arms, and the most of whom live in Middle Tennessee. Indeed, commencing with that greatsouled man Moses Buchanan, of Rutherford, they people half the country from thence to Nashville. The least we can say in addition for her noble self is, that she was to the Indian wars of her day, what such women as Frederica de Riedesel, Mrs. Bratton, Mrs. Israel, Lydia Darrah, and Mrs. Adair, were to the wars of the Revolution.
The Indians at length, seeing that they were badly whipped, withdrew, and a guard was appointed for the several forts in the settlement, and I being one of the guards was sent to Douglass's Fort in the vicinity. Before I took the post assigned me, I had orders to shoot the first Indian I saw and run into the fort, the gate of which was to be thrown open for me at the report of my gun, and I had not been out above an hour before I perceived some persons coming toward me whom I took to be Indians. I caught up my gun and levelled her upon them, but the distance was great, and a second thought admonished me not to be so hasty—that I had better bring her down and determine whether they were friends or foes, and if the latter to let them get opposite to me, which would bring them within fifteen steps, and fire; but, to my satisfaction, on their nearer approach, I saw that it was my old acquaintance Tom George and others coming in from another fort, and I guarded here in vain, the Indians never returning again.
The closing of the above scenes appeared only to be the harbinger of others, which, though of quite a different nature, may be equally interesting, for though the clouds that hung over Buchanan's Station had been rolled away, and the light of that sunny joy which always follows victory had taken their place, the events of the early settlements had not all transpired which make up the history of those times, and much of that part immediately connected with my own career is yet untold.
Winter had returned; “ December's surly blasts"
were laying “fields and forests bare;" and at a time when the rude winds were sweeping and sighing over the earth, I was employed by a trader to take a peroque, and go below Nashville after a load of lead; and having hired Tom George and a negro man to assist me, I took
them and embarked. We had good luck in reaching the spot and procuring the lead. We now untied our cable, and began to bush-hack it in a homeward direction, and after pulling and pushing on until late in the afternoon, we reached the mouth of Stone's river, and being hungry, cold, and tired, we concluded to land and try to kill some game, it being our only dependence, to get a little meat for supper. By the time we had cabled up, the sun was down, and George and myself took our guns, and leaving the negro at the peroque to kindle a fire by which to cook, we started out, and had only gone about two hundred yards before I heard a stick crack, and so delighted was I for the moment, that I forgot the constant dangers to which a visitor was always exposed upon penetrating these wilds. I had thought the limb was broken by the heavy tread of a bear. I heard another, and another, and was actually running in the direction of the noise, when suddenly a dampening reflection came upon me.
I paused; perhaps, thought I, that noise may be made by something worse than a bear. Just at this moment I heard something falling like so many loads from the shoulders of