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An American heroine

Anecdotes Home




During the summer of 1787, writes Mr. McClung, in his
Sketches of Western Adventure, "The house of Mr. John Merrill, of Nelson
County, Kentucky, was attacked by the Indians, and defended with singular
address and good fortune. Merrill was alarmed by the barking of a dog about
midnight, and on opening the door in order to ascertain the cause of the
disturbance, he received the fire of six or seven Indians, by which one arm
and one thigh were broken. He instantly sank upon the floor, and called
upon his wife to close the door. This had scarcely been done when it was
violently assailed by the tomahawks of the enemy, and a large breach soon
effected. Mrs. Merrill, however, being a perfect amazon, both in strength
and courage, guarded it with an axe, and successively killed or wounded
four of the enemy as they attempted to force their way into the cabin. The
Indians ascended the roof, and attempted to enter by way of the chimney;
but here again they were met by the same determined enemy. Mrs. Merrill
seized the only feather bed which the cabin afforded, and hastily ripping
it open, poured its contents upon the fire. A furious blaze and stifling
smoke instantly ascended the chimney, and brought down two of the enemy,
who lay at her mercy. Seizing the axe she quickly despatched them, and was
instantly afterwards summoned to the door, where the only remaining savage
now appeared, endeavoring to effect an entrance. He soon received a gash in
the cheek, which compelled him, with a loud yell, to relinquish his
purpose, and return hastily to Chillicothe, where, he gave an exaggerated
account of the fierceness, strength, and courage of the 'long knife
squaw!'"





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