OSM BENJAMIN MORTIMER TO MEIGS
Goshen near Gnadenhutten,
Ohio State 8 Augst. 1812.
I have the honor to addressing a letter to Your Excellency on the 1st. Instant, relative to the critical situation of the Indians here, in con- sequence of the war, and the calling out of the militia. What I wrote then was almost at the impulse of the moment, in consequence of very alarm- ing reports that reached me, the truth of which time would not permit me sufficiently to examine into before the departure of the mail. It was on the preceding Thursday that the different militia companies were drafted, and the strong expressions I al luded to in my letter were made use of in sundry place. Notice of the same was first communicated to me on Friday afternoon. I now beg leave to lay before Your Excellency more particular accounts on the subject.
It appears that what has at this time chiefly contributed to alarm men's minds here, as to danger to be apprehended from the Indians, is, that a few weeks since, an elderly Indian from Green-town, who is well-known in these parts, speaks English, and used to take pleasure in relating to the people here, how many murders he had committed among the whites in differ- ent places during the revolutionary war, & with what particular circumstan- ces of cruelty and barbarity; travelled lately through the settlements along this river, having on a red coat, & carrying - as was said -- a British rifle. This man from the character that he has heretofore given himself, is very generally held in the utmost detestation here; and his present appearance caused him to be regarded as a British spy, whose coming here was a precursor of projected murders by the Indians. It was therefore a sentiment which was strongly expressed at some musterings, that this Indian ought to be, and should be shot, if ever he was seen here again.
But other considerations have also much influenced the public mind here at this time against the Indians. The drafting of the militia, in order that a detachment of them may march from hence for the defence of the country, falls hard -- it is known -- upon many, particularly heads of families, to whom it is highly inconvenient to leave their homes. These, if unwilling to go, or unable perhaps to provide themselves with substitu- tes, naturally think of every reason why they ought rather to stay at home; -- & one of these then is, their fear of the Indians. But a still great- er number are in fact under much anxiety on this head, and represent to themselves, that if during their absence, an Indian war should break out on the frontiers nearest to us, their families would be in great danger of their lives. It is believed too very generally in this county, that the circumstance that Indians reside here among the white people, renders the situation of the neighboring white inhabitants more dangerous in time of war, than it otherwise would be; as here, it is apprehended, hostile Ind- ians might easily secret themselves, and devise plans of mischief against the surrounding settlements. The report has been also circulated, that such inimical Indians were also arrived here; and that by day they were not to be seen, but that they assembled here during the night. It is in consequen- ce said without reserve, that before the newly drafted detachment of mil- itia marches from hence, for the security of the country the settlement here must first be destroyed. Many declare that if they see any strange
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