The same Fall or beginning of Winter Col. G. Rogers Clark from Hanover was Fixing for a Campaighn to go down the Ohia to the Falls. The Virginia Legislator had authorized him to raise an army and go westward, and my Oldest brother—to wit, James Trabue—agreed with him to inlist some men and go with him as Lieut.
I agreed to go with him. I got well and hearty and in the last of January or February 1778 we set out for our Jurney. The most of the men that had enlisted with my brother had gone on to kentucky before christmas.
Their was only 7 of us and a negro boy went throug the wilderness together in March 1778. We all had good rifles and good Ammonition. On Holston we took provision for our Jurney. We understood a little provision would Do as we could kill a plenty on the way. We entered the wilderness in high spirits.
I was truly Delighted in seeing the mountains, Rivers, hills, etc., spruce, pine, Laurril, etc. Every thing looked new to me. Traveling along in Powls Valley where the Indians had broak up some people, seeing wast Desolate Cabbins I began to feel strange.
We went on our Jurney and came in sight of the noted place called Cumberland Gap. We encamped all night (yet we was 3 or 4 Mile off) in a wast Cabin, and it was a Rainey blustry night. When Morning came the weather was clear, and after we ate our breackfast a little after sunrise we persued on our Jurney.
When we got near to the Gap at a lorril branch where the indean war road comes in the Kentucky road (this Indian Road Crosses the Gap at this place from the Cherekeys to the shoney town). And at this branch where the Indian road comes in we saw fresh Indian tracks.
James Trabue ordered us every one to alight, prime our Guns afresh, and pick our flints if they needed it, and put 2 bullits in each man’s mouth. And if we could come up with the Indians we must fight our best. The Indians’ track was fresh and was Just gone the way we was going.
James Trabue and one other man went on foot about 100 yards ahead. And our orders was if they Discoved the Indians they would Jump one side behind trees. And when we saw that we must all Dismount and run up to fight, and the negro boy must stay and mind the horses.
We had one man with us that was named Lucust. He said he wishd he could come up with the Indians. He wanted so bad to have the chance of killing them. He said he knew he could kill 5 him self. He Could shoot. He could Tomerhack and make use of his bucher knife and slay them.
We still persued the Indians. Their track was plain in places and after we got through the gap going Down the mountain the Indian tracks was still their. It looked like I was going out of the world.
When we got Down the mountain my brother called on me and a nother man to go before and told us to go fast. We walked very fast and some times run. When I was on before I could have a plain view of their Tracks, and in one place where the Indians crossed a mirery branch I saw 3 Trails. I then supposed that their was many Indians as they was apt to step in one another’s tracks.
When I was returnd from going before and others in our places, I told my brother about the 3 Trails and told him my fear about the quanity of Indians. He said he had paid particular attention to the sighn and he Did not think their was more Indians than white men. He said we all had good guns and good powder and we could beat them if we could git the first fire, unless they was Greatly over our number and he Did not think they was.
And he said the main thing was to have a good resolution.
I was Giting very fraid we would be Defeeted, and as we went on I talked some with Lucust, again. He still talked the same way of killing several of them. I for my part began to feel chikinhearted. I was afraid I should be killed in this Drary howling Wilderness but I never mentioned it to any one. I thought if we come in contact with the Indians I would keep behind or in the reare, but I thought that would not Do as I might be called a coward. I thought, “I wish I could have courage like Lucust. I would be glad.”
Mr. Lucaust was my main Dependence and a poor Dependence he was. I then wished I was back in Old Virginia.
Westward Into Kentucky: The Narrative of Daniel Trabue, by Daniel Trabue, Chester Raymond Young, Univ of Ky, 1981
In his youth Daniel Trabue (1760-1840) served as a Virginia soldier in the Revolutionary War. He recorded this narrative in 1827, in the town of Columbia, KY of which he was a founder.