06 August 2006

Running the gauntlet naked-USA

Soon after his store was established at Sandusky, he saw for the first time a white man run the gauntlet. The following is a narrative of that event, written by his biographer and grandson, Judge Leith:

"One fine day in early summer, a band of warriors came in from the south with a captive, a powerful young Virginian. He had been overpowered and captured in a hand-to-hand struggle. I saw him stripped for the race, and thought him as fine a specimen of a man as I ever saw. His action was unimpaired. the only wound perceivable being a long gash on the fleshy part of his thigh, which, although considerably swelled, did not impede his motion. He was stripped naked and painted black for the race at my store. Two lines of Indians were formed, extending back from the store about two hundred yards. He was marched back through the lines in a southerly direction, the savages panting and yelling for the onset.

Poor fellow! he stepped with the elasticity of a race-horse, confidently believing that if he succeeded in the race his life would be spared. But his doom was sealed, and this was but the opening scene in the horrible tragedy . The warriors were armed with guns loaded with powder to be shot into his naked body, the boys were armed with bows and arrows and the squaws and children with clubs and switches. No one was allowed to strike or shoot until the victim was opposite to where he stood, so that the speed of the runner might not be impeded or checked by a front fire. The word was given..

' All ready, go! ' and simultaneously a yell went up all along the line from the savages, who were eager to inflict the severest punishment upon the helpless captive. The young fellow came through the lines with astonishing swiftness, and ran into the store where I was. He was covered with ragged and gapingwounds made by the discharges of powder and the tomahawks,
and the arrows stuck out from his blackened body like the shafts of a clothesrack. He gave me a most imploring look, as if he expected me to help him, and suddenly sprang high in the air as if in terrible agony. He turned and went out at the door, when he was brained with a tomahawk and fell to the ground with his last despairing groan. They cut of his head and raised it some twelve or fifteen feet in the air on a pole, and left his body lying in the yard. I asked the privilege of the warriors to take the head down and bury the body out of sight. They told me haughtily, 'Your people do not bury our dead. and we will not bury yours.' I told them that unless I could have the privilege of burying the corpse out of my sight I would move any store over to the Tymochtee.' They then said I might do as I pleased. I took, the head down placed it on the body, washed both and wrapped them in a clean blanket and buried them The Indians drove stakes down through the body, eager to glut their vengeance to the very last. This was one of the results of the march of the Virginians into the Indian country."

Other story of the Gauntlet

They crossed Sandusky and Vernon Townships and journeyed on until they came to Wayne County, when they were attacked by a party of Shawanese that had followed them. Two of the men were shot dead, Paull ran and escaped, and the others. including Slover, were taken prisoners. The Indians immediately started for the Shawanese towns on Mad River, in what is now Logan County, Ohio. Arriving there, the prisoners were set upon by the inhabitants, who beat them with clubs and tomahawks. The oldest man was seized, stripped naked and painted black with charcoal and water. All except Slover were compelled to run the gauntlet, but the Indians inflicted the most of the punishment upon the man who had been painted black. He was cut with tomahawks, beaten with clubs, and his naked body was shot full of powder. Holes were blown into his flesh by the discharges. The savages were a long time beating, wounding, pursuing and killing him. He was afterward cut in pieces, and his head, limbs and body were raised on poles on the outside of the town. The other companions of Slover were sent to other towns, where they shared the same awful fate. Slover was at Wapatomica, and while there saw three bodies lying on the ground-black, bloody, mutilated and burnt with powder.He recognized
them as belonging to William Crawford, a nephew of the Colonel, and William Harrison, the Colonel's son-in-law. He believed the third body to be that of Maj. McClelland, but was not certain. The bodies were frightful to look at. The next day the heads were raised on poles and the corpses given to the dogs. What an awful fate! All these men had been members of Crawford's army, and had been captured while endeavoring to make their way to the settlements. "What a gorge of infernal revelry did these unfortunate prisoners afford the infuriated savages." Slover had been a captive among the Indians many years before. receiving the name Mannucothe. The Indians knew him, and, having summoned him to a council held for the purpose, interrogated him concerning the state of the war. He told them, among other things, that Cornwallis had surrendered. The next day, Matthew Elliott and James Girty came to the Council. They assured the Indians that Slover had lied. Slover was looked upon with suspicion by the savages, who were aware of his having been with Crawford's army; and, notwithstanding the fact that he had once been adopted by them, but had afterward gone to the white settlements, the Indians began to entertain misgivings that he was their foe. Their belief in his enmity was firmly established by the statements of Elliott and Girty, and they resolved to put him to death by the most cruel tortures. He was allowed to go freely among the Indians; but was closely watched, and was kept in suspense several days as to his fate. It was about this time that twelve white men were brought in captives from Kentucky, three of whom were tortured to death with fire at Wapatomica. The remainder were sent to other towns, where they shared a like fate. About forty warriors, among whom was George Girty, finally took Slover, stripped him naked, painted him black, tied his arms securely behind him, and fastened a rope around his neck. In this condition he was driven to a village seven miles distant, the Indians beating him terribly on the way, and, when there, he was tied to a post and a fire builded around him. While it was burning, a sudden rain-storm came on and extinguished the fire, and the Indians, after some discussion, resolved to put off his death until the morrow. They kept beating, kicking and wounding him until long after midnight, when finally they tied him securely in a block-house, with three warriors to watch. These at last lay down to sleep. Slover then, knowing it to be his last and only chance, began to make desperate efforts to free himself. He tore at the cords for a long time, and at last thought he must give it up. It was now daybreak. He made a last desperate effort, when, to his great surprise and joy, the cord came untied, and he was free. He stepped over the sleeping bodies and ran rapidly out into the woods. He caught a horse that was feeding near, and, using the rope with which he had been tied as a halter, he mounted and rode rapidly away. He was entirely naked, and covered with wounds and black paint. His horse was a good one and, knowing that he would be swiftly pursued by the blood-thirsty savages he urged it to its best pace. The animal finally gave out, and Slover pushed forward rapidly on foot. Finally, after four days of intense suffering and hardship, having had nothing to eat save a few berries and crawfishes, he arrived, on the 10th of July, at Wheeling - the last of Crawford's army to return.

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