The Canoe Battle
By
Jeremiah Austill

On the 12th of Nov. 1813, Capt. Dale proposed an expedition upon the Alabama & was joined by Capt. Jones, making the party consist in all of 72 men. We struck the river above Jamestown where we procured two canoes & spent the night in the cane without fire. The next morning Dale , with all but 8 (eight) men started up on the East bank leaving me in command of the boats, to keep paralel with the land force. On reaching Bayly's farm a halt was made. Dale came on board, crossed to the farm & searched the same, finding plenty of fresh tracks. Returning, he started for Randon's plantation where I was to meet him. Soon after starting I discovered a boat descending with ten (10) Indians in it, who tacked about seeing us. We gave chase immediately & gained fast upon them. One half mile above they ran up Randons Creek, into the Cane. Soon after Dale & Jones met a party of Indians in the Cane, crossing the Creek. Dale killed the one in front. The Indians then dropped their packs, a fire was kept up for a few minutes after which the Indians fled in the Cane.

As the firing ceased I pushed on up to the Landing, Where the land party soon after arrived - This was Randon's Landing, below Jim Correls Landing or ferry. Capt. Jones crossed over with his men & all of Dale's Company, except twelve (12) men, namely Dale, Maj. Creagh, Smith Brady, Myself & Six others. We were roasting potatoes & beef taken up at the Creek, where the fight took place. Just as we were taking the potatoes from the fire a large body of Indians was discovered marching off on either side to surround us. We ran to the bank of the river & neither of the canoes had returned, the small one was on the way over. Just then we discovered a large Canoe descending with eleven (11 ) Indians in it.

As we were in a three acre field, we ascended the bank about twenty yds. & commenced firing, on the Indians in the boat, which was returned by them for several rounds, when two of them crept - met & made for the shore, some sixty or eighty yds above us & above the mouth of a small creek. Smith & I ran up to kill them & were followed by Creagh, who found us up to the waist in mud. We scuffled out & tho very heavy reached the place in time. We had to stand on the slope of the bank from which I slipped & fell into the river.

Just in front of one of them, both were carrying their guns above water. Smith fired & killed one, while the other sprang up & presented his gun at Smith as he ascended the bank, passing over my gun. I was after him, but ere I could recover my gun, he was in the Cane. I pursued him some forty yds for an open space to shoot & was just within four feet of a place when a gun was fired within thirty feet of me, the load passing just over my head. I turned to fire on the offender & Creagh was Just ascending the bank of the creek as I was passing in the Cane - supposing me to be an Indians & by this means my Indian escaped. We returned to Smith & descended the river on the turn of the back to our squad. Dale in the meantime called to Capt. Jones to send over the large canoe to capture the Indian boat. Eight men started over, but when within fifty yds, the man in front rose up so as to see the number who were lying down loading their guns. He called to the padler to back out as there were so many Indians in the boat, whereupon they retreated, the small boat having reached us, paddled by an old Negro named Caesar. During the interval I ordered Brady to ascend the second bank to see if a land party of Indians were closing in upon us. He crawled up but seeing no Indians he mounted a pile of earth, whereupon some guns were discharged at him, shooting the breech of his gun off. With one bound, he was in our midst swearing it was too hot up there for him. Dale then proposed to Smith & I to board the boat. Dale then leaped down some ten feet, Smith & I following. We entered the boat in the same order placing one in the boat. We ran out some twenty yds below the Indians. They rose up & we all attempted to fire. Dale's rifle & my own missed fire from the wetting of our priming getting into the boat & the rolling of the boat caused Smith to miss his aim. Dale then ordered Caesar to paddle up in a hurry & upon approaching their boat, the chief & I exchanged blows with our guns. Catching the end of his, I drew him up to me within reach of Smith & Dale who fought him down. Dale broke the barrel of his gun into & Smith caught the muzzle with which he fought out the battle.- Dale getting Smith's gun with which he made his blows. I used the Chief's gun.

As we were running up broadside I had two upon me at one time until Dale got in the Indian boat & placed himself opposite Smith. On reaching the last two, one of them knocked me down with a War Club- falling across their boat & holding on to the club until I recovered my feet, one in each boat - a scuffle ensued for the club, which I gained & with which I knocked him overboard, the one in my rear, having been killed by Dale & Smith. So ended the battle. We then started back, with old Caesar paddling & Smith holding the boats together, while Dale and I threw the Indians overboard as there were yet eight bodies left in the boat. When about half way, a ball passed through the boat & on looking up we saw three Indians on the second bank Just above our ___? men, then under the first bank the second on taking rest on a stump. We stood up sideways & his ball struck the water, short of the boat - he at last took his seat - with a large bored rifle. I could see along the barrel & felt sure he would hit me. I drew myself up & stopped breathing - his ball passed within an inch of my abdomen, much to my relief. As we were approaching the same shore, the Indians retired to their main body of 280 (two hundred & eighty) Indians. We reached our nine comrades & crossed over to the west, without the Indians knowing it.

(On the original manuscript there is a pencil diagram of the field and position of the party drawn by J. Austill. )

(There is also a pencil notation "March 1874" )

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Updated: September 22, 2006