ELIZABETH LIVINGSTON'S ACCOUNT OF HER KIDNAP BY CHIEF BENGE
as told on the 15th day of April, 1794 to Arthur Campbell, Washington County Militia
April 6, 1794, about 10 o'clock in the morning, I was sitting in my house when the fierceness of the dog's barking alarmed me. I looked out and saw seven Indians approaching the house, armed and painted in a frightful manner. No person was within but a child ten years old, another of two, and my sucking infant.
My husband and his brother Henry had just walked out to a barn at some distance in the field. My sister-in- law, Susanna was with the remaining children in an out-house. Old Mrs. Livingston was in the garden.
I immediately shut and fastened the door; they came furiously up and tried to burst it open, demanding several times of me to open the door, which I refused.
Then, they fired two guns; one ball pierced through the door but did not harm. I, then, thought of my husband's rifle, took it down; but, it being double triggered, I was at a loss. At length I fired through the door; but, it not being well aimed, I did not execution.
However, the Indians retired from that place and soon after I found an adjoining house was on fire; and I and my children were suffering much from smoke. I opened the door; and an Indian immediately advanced and took me prisoner, together with the two children.
I then discovered that they had my remaining children in their possession, my sister-in-law Susanna, a Negro wench and her young child, a Negro man of Edward Callahan's, and a Negro boy of our own about eight years old. They were fearful of going into the house to plunder, supposing that it had been a man that had shot at them and he was yet within. So our whole clothing and household furniture was consumed in the flames, which I was then pleased to see, rather than it should be of use to the savages. We were all hurried a short distance, where the Indians were busy dividing and putting in packs for each to carry his part of the booty taken.
I observed them careless about the children, and most of the Indian being some distance off in front, I called with a low voice to my eldest daughter, gave her my youngest child, and told them all to run toward neighbor John Russell's. They with reluctance left me, sometimes halting, sometimes looking back. I beckoned them to go on, although I inwardly felt pangs not to be expressed on account of our doleful separation. The two Indians in the rear either did not notice this scene, or they were willing the children might run back. That evening the Indians crossed Clinch Mountain and went as far as Copper Creek, distance about 8 miles.
April 7. Set our early in the morning, crossed Clinch River at McClain's fishdam about 12 o'clock, then steered northwardly towards the head of Stony Creek. Then, the Indians camped carelessly, had no back spy nor kept sentries out. This day's journey was about twenty miles.
April 8. Continued in camp until the sun was more than an hour high; then, set out and slowly traveled five or six miles and camped near the foot of Powell Mountain.
This day Benge, the Indian chief, became more pleasant and spoke freely to the prisoners. He told them that he was about to carry them to the Cherokee and Shawnee towns, that in his route in the wilderness was his brother with two other Indians hunting, so that he might have provisions when he returned; that at his camp were several white prisoners taken from Kentucky, with horses and saddles to carry them to the towns.
He made inquiry of several persons on Holston, particularly Old General Shelby, and said he would pay him a visit during the ensuing summer and take away all his Negroes. He frequently inquired who had Negroes and threatened he would have them all off North Holston. He said all the Chickamooga towns were for war and would soon be very troublesome for the white folks.
This day, April 8, Benge sent two of the Indians ahead to hunt.
April 9. After traveling about five miles, which was over Powell's Mountain and near the foot of Stone Mountain, a party of 13 men, under command of Lieutenant Vincent Hobbs, of the militia of Lee County, met the enemy in front, attacked and killed Benge the first fire.
I was at that time some distance off in the rear. The Indian who was my guard at first halted on hearing the firing. He, then, ordered me to run, which I performed slowly. He, then, attempted to strike me int he head with the tomahawk, which I defended as well as I could with my arm. By this time two of our people came in view, which encouraged me to struggle all I could. The Indian at this instant pushed me backward; and I fell over a log, at the same time aiming a violent blow at my head, which in part spent its force on me and laid me out for dead. The first thing I afterward remembered was my good friends around me giving me all the assistance in their power for my relief. They told me I was senseless for about an hour.