A STRONG, COURAGEOUS, DETERMINED WOMAN!
War at any time is never pleasant. Two armies facing off against
one another can be brutal, and horrible. But the wars that are
driven by madness, and so much hate, that take the lives of women
and children, can be so gruesome, horrifying, revolting,
horrendous and shocking, that a normal mind can hardly believe
that such wars between peoples, have taken place.
Reading the first of two volumes by the late Pierre Burton (a
Canadian) of the 1812-1814 war between the USA and Canada, has
been very difficult at times, because of having to face the fact
of history that such inhumane killing was done by some from both
sides, the USA fighters towards the Indians - warrior, woman and
children - who in the main had taken the side of the Canadian
British, and the Indians towards the USA fighters - soldiers,
women and children. Yes, it was hard getting through some of the
pages of Burton's history book, volume one.
One battle concerned the garrison and people of Chicago leaving
the protection of the fort to the dubious security of Fort Wayne
on the Maumee, in August 1812. It would prove to be a bad
mistake. Why on earth were they venturing into hostile Indian
territory? It was going to turn out to be one of those terrible
blunders that can happen in war. But this blunder would involve
the loss of women and children, some in ways that I will not
describe as Burton must do, in writing about facts of history.
The Wagon train is way outnumbered by Indians on the revenge for
the loss of their braves, women and children, to the Americans,
in an earlier battle.
Yet in the midst of this slaughter of soldiers, women, and many
children, by the Indians, there was one lady of REMARKABLE
courage, strength, and determination. I will let Burton relate
the story to you.
The family of John Needs, one of Heald's regular soldiers,
manages to survive the massacre only to die in captivity. The
Needs's only child, crying with hunger, so annoys the Indians
that they tie it to a tree to perish from starvation. Needs also
dies of cold and hunger. His wife expires the following January.
The family of the murdered Sergeant Burns is shattered. One grown
son is killed in the fighting; two small children are victims of
the wagon massacre. A nine-year-old daughter, though scalped,
succeeds in freeing herself. She, her mother, and an infant in
arms survive for two years among the Indians before being
ransomed by a white trader. For the rest of her life the scalped
girl is marked by a small bald spot on the top of her head.
In the fate of the Lee family are all the ingredients of a
nineteenthcentury frontier novel. All its members except the
mother and an infant daughter are killed in the fighting. The two
survivors are taken by Black Partridge to his camp. Here the baby
falls ill and Black Partridge falls in love-with Mrs. Lee. In
order to win her hand he determines to save the infant's life. He
takes her back to Chicago where a newly arrived French trader
named Du Pin prescribes for her and cures her. Learning of Black
Partridge's romantic intentions, Du Pin ransoms Mrs.Lee, then
marries her himself.
These stories pale before the long odyssey of Mrs.John
Simmons, whose husband also perishes during the defence of the
wagons. Believing that the Indians delight in tormenting
prisoners who show any emotion, this REMARKABLE woman resolves to
preserve the life of her six-month-old child by suppressing all
outward manifestations of grief, even when she is led past a row
of small, mutilated corpses which includes that of her
two-year-old boy, David. Faced with this grisly spectacle, she
neither blinks an eye nor sheds a tear, nor will she during the
long months of her captivity.
Her Indian owners set out for Green Bay on the western shore
of Lake Michigan. Mrs.Simmons, carrying her baby, trudges the
entire distance, working as a servant in the evenings, gathering
wood and building fires. When the village is at last reached, she
is insulted, kicked, and abused. The following day she is forced
to run the gauntlet between a double line of men and women
wielding sticks and clubs. Wrapping the infant in a blanket and
shielding it in her arms, she races down the long line, emerging
bruised and bleeding but with her child unharmed.
She is given over to an Indian "mother," who feeds her,
bathes her wounds, allows her to rest. She needs such sustenance,
for a worse ordeal faces her - a long tribal peregrination back
around the lake. Somehow Mrs.Simmons, lightly clad, suffering
from cold, fatigue, and malnutrition, manages to carry her child
for the entire six hundred miles and survive. She has walked with
the Indians from Green Bay back to Chicago, then around the
entire eastern shore of the lake to Michilimackinac. But a
second, even more terrible trek faces her - a three-hundred-mile
journey through the snow to Detroit, where the Indians intend to
ransom her. Ragged and starving, she exists on roots and acorns
found beneath the snows. Her child, now a year old, has grown
much heavier. Her own strength is waning. Only the prospect of
release sustains her.
Yet even after her successful ransom her ordeal is not over.
The route to her home near Piqua, Ohio, is long and hard. By
March of 1813 she reaches Fort Meigs on the Maumee. Here she
manages to secure passage in a government wagon, part of a supply
train that winds its way through swampy roads, depositing her, in
mid-April, four miles from her father's farm.
Mother and child walk the remaining distance to find that
the family, which has long since given her up for dead, has taken
refuge in a blockhouse against Indian marauders. Here, safe at
last, she breaks down and for several months cannot contain her
Would you like to read that again? Go ahead, let it all sink deep
into your mind. If this was not literal historic fact, you would
think someone had made it all up for some bizarre fictional tale.
Don't know about you but this true story BLOWS MY MIND!! It is
hard to believe that she could have done all this, with her baby,
and actually lived to tell about it.
What indeed a REMARKABLE lady, I am awe struck. I am honored to
let her story be recorded on this Website, where at long last she
can be immortalized to the end of this age, around the world, for
all and anyone to read about her STRENGTH, her COURAGE, her
DETERMINATION. Mrs.Simmons, I look forward to meeting you on your