Fincastle Scouts

From the Raid at Martin's Station event, from left to right... Read Ridley, Neal Brown, Steve Artman, Bill Maddox, Gail (Kneeling), Tim McKaye, Tim France, Jim Hamilton, the Doctor, John Gallentine.


Saturday the 10th/ continued...
Okay, so at this point I have to break character a little bit in order to finish this up. Being dead would make it difficult to finish up this report of the event.

It had been decided at the Capt's meeting Saturday morning that most of our unit would be killed in the battle, so we all hiked down to the field beforehand to 'block it out'.

Ridley had brought blood capsules, that he loaned to Gallentine and I used when we got killed. It was agreed that we'd be killed while attempting to save Ridley after he was wounded. The blood capsule tasted like cough syrup, and I spent a portion of my time lying dead in the field spitting it out.

After the three of us got 'killed', we were able to watch the remainder of the battle watching the action.

Steve Artman, another of the guys in our group, had been made up with a wig of long hair. He and one of the Indians, named Greg, had rehearsed their fight at our camp in advance that morning using one of the leather bladed tomahawks that Bill Maddox and I had made for battles at Manskers.

Here's a shot of Greg about to scalp Steve. Bill Maddox is visible in the background on one knee.

Greg ripped the wig off of Steve and held it up high for the crowd to see.

I had to strategically writhe on the battle field so that I'd be able to see the action. All the while, spitting the blood out in an attempt to rid myself of the taste.

The Indians also set the corn crib on fire. This is a huge crowd pleaser. Martin's staffers build several out buildings every year just for this purpose.

The corn crib ablaze, Capt. France in the background wielding two guns ala Daniel Day Lewis

The fire grew quickly and was so hot that it set the grass nearby on fire as well.

The second unit of militia marched out of the fort in two straight lines and right over top of me.

"Coming through buddy, watch yourself." they said as they marched over.

I sat still and tried not to get stomped.

Jim Hamilton on the far left just before getting shot, I'm laying on the ground on the right just behind the militia.


Saturday the 10th/
Another morning filled with aiding around the camp. Water fetched, dishes cleaned, and afterward I tidied my bedroll which was full of the straw we'd laid down. The straw we'd been issued was full of thorns and briars, so handling it was tough on the hands.

The remainder of my morning was spend in idleness around Trader's Row again.

About mid-morning, Capt. France attended a meeting of all the captains to lay down the battle scenario for after midday. Upon his return, we all walked down to the station to block things out.

A great number of visitors followed throughout the morning. They walked all about the station, and some even wandered up the path to our camp.

After our midday meal, a group of militiamen marched off into the woods in the direction of the Indian camp. Jim Hamilton, Wm. Maddox and I watched with great interest from the brush near our camp. Hamilton called out the events as they occurred over his shoulder for the benefit of the Capt. and others who were making ready. We had been ordered not to leave camp unless we were under arms, so our weapons were never far away.

From out vantage point we could see everything in relative safety. Our camp was away from the station at enough of a distance and covered by trees so that it was concealed from view.

"Here comes the militia." Jim announced as they returned from the direction of the Indian encampment.

We all watched in silence as they marched in two straight lines.

"I see Indians!" he finally called out. They were stalking the militia, unseen in the nearby woods.

France gave the order and we all took up arms, running down to the small cabin between our camp and the station proper. We stomped right through the middle of a large plot of earth obviously intended to be a garden. I tried to have my feet land in the holes created by Capt. France to minimize any damage, but I was unable to do it given that the Capt. is at least a foot taller than I.

We took up positions behind the cabin and waited.

The Indians opened fire, ambushing the militia. They were nearly all butchered before they could react and defend themselves.

Capt. France gave the order to fan out and open fire.

We rushed up and began firing. Ridley was the first to get hit. A shot to his leg knocked him to the ground, but he was obviously not dead. Gallentine and I being the closest to him rushed over to render aid. We each grabbed an arm and began to lift.

No sooner did we have him on his feet than another shot rang out and finished him off. Blood sprayed everywhere, his face covered in it. He dropped to the ground as if his pockets were full of lead.

Another shot rang out and Gallentine was down. I was in the open and spread out from the remainder of the unit.

One final shot and I was hit! I dropped the Brown Bess and fell backward to the ground. My final sight was the midday sun beating down as a trickle of blood rolled down my chin. I was dead.

Special thanks to mason 40965 for allowing me to use some of his images from the event.


Friday the 9th/ continued...
I was quite pleased with myself after the presentation of the compass from the company. I was allowed to go do a bit more shopping at Trader's row, and on my way there, I took out my new prize and held it aloft in my left hand and compared it to my pocket watch in my right. With the needle pointing to North, I was able to discern an approximate time!

Later, after finding Lt. Maddox among the shops, he and I returned to camp. Capt. France ordered us on a scouting mission to count the Indians again, to see if their numbers had grown any since our last report. Before leaving camp, Maddox emptied his newly constructed sea-chest. We shouldered our weapons and carried the blue chest between us. The Lieutenant explained to me that the chest would grant us passage into the very heart of the Indian's camp.

We took a narrow path around the back of the station and into the woods. We tread silently with the box suspended between us. Soon we came upon three fellows of undeterminable allegiance who eyed us quietly as we passed with our burden. We then encountered two men on horseback who turned Northward into the woods to avoid us.

I looked to the right and could see the Indian Camp below us through the bush. from our vantage point above the camp, we could easily make out the white canvas of their dwellings. They were all busy about the camp and we were able to pass undetected. We circled around the back of the camp and finally spotted the King's Colors hanging from a crisp white wedge tent.

Maddox made it clear to me that he would do the talking and that I was to do the counting. Two older British officers in red garb stepped out to greet us. Maddox had been right, his blue sea-chest with the King's Colors painted on it and the "GR" on its lid gave the impression of loyalty to King George, and they never suspected a thing. While the Lieutenant talked to the Indian Agents, who introduced themselves as the Brothers Stewart, I stood in silence, counting their number. My tally is as follows:

2 Indian Agents
5 Indian Braves (1 asleep in his dwelling)
3 Squaws
2 Children
3 Undetermined (the three fellows from the path)

This is the number that Maddox and I both confirmed betwixt us afterward. The English officers complimented Maddox the fine job he had done on the chest. They asked if we had come to join their camp, and the Lt. told them that we were going to show the chest around on Trader's Row first. Once their conversation was complete, we carried the chest off through Trader's Row and then in a long arc back toward camp.

Capt. France was away when we returned, but we gave our report to Ridley, who wrote it up. Once finished, we had but to wait until the captain's return before we could run it to Capt. Titus.Once Capt. France had returned and given the report his signature, I ran it to Capt. Titus. It was delivered a full 3 hours after our mission due to Capt. France's late return to camp. Titus scolded me.

When night finally arrived, we could hear the merry-making at the station all the way from our camp. They sang ribald songs until very late.

Finally, I went down to the station and listened around the fire in the middle of the compound. They were drinking and singing loudly, they were quite a sight. A fellow I had met earlier in the day, whose name I do not recall, whom I shall call 'the horseman' passed me a large dark bottle. I drank with pleasure.

Eventually I returned to camp and fell into my blankets. It was warm and I did not need my red wool blanket to cover me. My bare feet hung out the end and in the open air.


Friday the 9th/
A wet and dismal night: rain and the snoring of the company conspired to keep me up all night. I awoke to chores in the morn, chopping firewood for the squaw for the breakfast fire. Sgt. McKaye cut his hand near the thumb deeply while borrowing my axe, but required no stitches. A tight bandage about his hand served to stop the bleeding, but the Capt. fears that he won't be able to shoot should battle with the Indians erupt.

I finished cutting the wood and making a pile near the cook fire, then I was sent to fetch water for the company. I loaded up with all the canteens, then piled on my shooting bag and powder horn along with Lt. Maddox's brown bess and left camp to amble toward the spring house out behind the station.

Once fully loaded with water, it suddenly occurred to me that if I should be set upon by hostiles in my current state, I was uncertain how I would defend myself. I was barely able to lift my arms to handle the bess.

At Breakfast, the men found the diminutive size of my trencher amusing. Each man present carried large bowls and such to eat out of, the Capt. France himself had one large enough to cook a meal in.

After the first scouting party reported back from their search for Indians, they reported in and Ridley recorded their findings on paper. Once it was approved by Capt. France, I placed it in my pocket and ran it straight away to Capt. Titus. Once found I handed it to him, but he had a difficult time reading Ridley's small handwriting, so he had me read it to him. It was informing him that 11 Indians total had been espied in the Indian camp located to the west of the station.

Many visitors to the camp during the day, children mostly. We demonstrated and showed them various aspects of life in our company. Later, Capt. France allowed me to go to Trader's Row and purchase a new silk headscarf and a pair of brown stockings. My boots have rubbed holes in the heels of my old pair and my feet are sore.

Later, after a morning of assisting Agee (Gaile) with the washing of the company's midday dishes and fetching more water, the Capt. presented me with a brass compass with a sundial built into it. He told me that he was pleased that I had done so well and stuck with the group.

(to be continued...)


Transcribed from my notes in the field:

Thursday the 8th/
I arrived at Martin's Station after a bit of wandering toward the Wilderness Road, and I brought the falling weather with me. It has rained intermittently since my arrival.

My introduction to Capt. France was followed immediately by a change of clothing so that I would look more like the remainder of the company. I removed my leather neck stock in favor of a plain silk one and was told that my black coat would make me a perfect Indian target in the woods.

The ranging company consists of 8 men made up of Indian fighters and long hunters, and a squaw they refer to as 'Agee' (pronounced AH-GEE), the cherokee word for 'woman'. She does all the cooking for the company.

Capt. France says that tomorrow we will start scouting for Indians and searching for their camp.

The men of the company are:
Capt. Tim France
Lt. Wm. Maddox
Sgt. Tim McKaye
Pvt. Jim Hamilton
Pvt. John Gallentine
Steve Artman
Neal Brown
Read Ridley (Scribe)

& myself

Once it was discovered that I did not have a haversack of my own, Capt. France announced it to the company and left it to them to decide my punishment. It was finally agreed upon that I would aide Agee in her duties about the camp. I was also designated the runner, which means that I was in charge of carrying the written reports from our camp to the station itself and delivering them into the hand of Capt. Titus.

I was assigned a place to sleep under two canvases that were strung together with some fresh straw strewn inside on the ground. I laid my blankets in the middle between Ridley and Gallentine and stowed my little bag near the head of my bed.

On the eve of my journey

May 7th- On the eve of my journey to Martin's station.
I finished sewing and dyeing my new leather straps yesterday evening with Lt. Maddox. I will use them to bind and carry my equipment in the field. They were cut from the same piece of leather I purchased November last and should match the belt I made out of it.

I am quite pleased with the amount of use I have gotten out of that single piece of leather. The work is very satisfying, and my hands take to it well. After a minimum of instruction and some simple tools, I was able to make the needed items in good time.

I have studied the map I found of the area around the station at great length in anticipation of my trip tomorrow. Mr. Maddox is set to depart this evening along with Capt. France, Tim McKaye and a few others, and should arrive there well before me. I imagine they will have long since gotten the ranging company's camp set up by the time I arrive.

I look forward to meeting Capt. France. We have not spoken, other than my initial letter of introduction, as none of my later missives made it to him in his remote region of the country.

A portion of this evening shall be spent in packing my meager belongings and bedrolls. I must also consider provisions for myself and the company.

I will endeavor to record the happenings as best I am able so that they may be reprinted here for the benefit of the reader.

The Fair at Bledsoe's

Spent Saturday with my two eldest girls at the colonial fair held at Bledsoe's Fort. For being the first fair of its kind to be held in that location, it seemed busy and well attended. We had our portraits made by a dozen people, including the Gallatin Newspaper. I'll be interested to see if I'm able to find any of them.

Purchased new hats for the girls at a shop called 'The Blue Goose', the nice woman cut us a great deal, and threw in colored ribbons and paper flowers for the girls as well. The nice woman, Sharon Duncan, helped to tie the girl's new hats on and really bragged on how great the girls looked in them.

Then we went across the way and traded in the girl's old clothes at a shop called 'Irish Maid' and purchased new dresses. They wore them around for the remainder of the day, they were really proud.

Later, Molly found a caterpillar and named him 'slimey'. She carried him proudly and finally released him along the tree-line before we continued.

I especially enjoyed visiting with the 'French Lacemaker', his set-up and presentation really gave me some great ideas for my own future setup and interpretation. He and his wife even have the same kind of business cards as I do from very sharp.

I can see that the Bledsoe folks have lots of room for future fair expansion... the field it was held in was enormous.

If I had but one complaint, it would be that someone drained the gas out of my tank while we were in the fair itself. The parking area was watched at its entrance by some fellows in uniforms, but from where they were stationed, I don't imagine they saw much. With gas prices what they are these days, I imagine there'll be alot more of this sort of thing in the future...

Note to self: purchase key locking gas-cap.