Simon Girty, White Renegade - Part 7

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Posted by Champ on January 23, 1999 at 02:47:27:

Simon Girty - pt. 7

"The last time I saw GIRTY," writes William WALKER, "was in the summer of 1813. From my recollection of his person he was in height five feet six or seven inches; broad across the chest; strong, round, compact limbs, and of fair complexion. To any one scrutinizing him, the conclusion would forcibly impress the observer that GIRTY was endowed by nature with great powers of endurance." SPENCER, a prisoner among the Indians, who saw GIRTY before he left the Indian country, was not favorably impressed with his visage: "His dark, shaggy hair; his low forehead; his brows contracted, and meeting above his short flat nose; his gray, sunken eyes, averting the ingenious gaze; his lips thin and compressed; and the dark and sinister expression of his countenance, to me seemed the very picture of a villain."

No other country or age ever produced, perhaps, so brutal depraved and wicked a wretch as Simon GIRTY. He was sagacious and brave; but his sagacity and bravery only made him a greater monster of cruelty. All of the vices of civilization seemed to center in him, and by him were ingrafted upon those of the savage state, without the usual redeeming qualities of either. He moved about through the Indian country during the war of the Revolution and the Indian war which followed, a dark whilwind of fury, desperation and barbarity. In the refinements of torture inflicted on helpless prisoners, as compared with the Indians, he "out-heroded Herod." In treachery, he stood unrivaled.

There ever rankled in his bosom a most deadly hatred of his country. He seemed to revel in the very excess of malignity toward his old associates. So horrid was his wild ferocity and savageness, that the least relenting seemed to be acts of positive goodness-luminous sparks in the very blackness of darkness! "I have fully glutted my vengeance," said the Mingo Logan, when he had taken a scalp for each of his relations murdered; but the revenge of Simon GIRTY was gorged with numberless victims, of all ages and of either sex! It seemed as insatiable as the grave itself. And what is the more astonishing is, that such insatiety could arise in any human breast upon a mere fancied neglect!-for it will be remembered that he deserted to the enemy because of not being promoted to the command of a company!

Of GIRTY'S fool-hardiness, there is ample testimony. He got into a quarrel at one time with a Shawanese, caused by some misunderstanding in a trade. While bandying hard words to each other, the Indian, by an innuendo, questioned his opponent's courage. GIRTY instantly produced a half-keg of powder, and snatching a fire-brand, called upon the savage to stand by him. The latter, not deeming this a legitimate mode of settling dispute, hastily evacuated the premises!

Upon one subject, however, GIRTY seemed to be ill at ease. He was curious to know of prisoners what was in store for him should he be captured by the Americans. The idea of falling into the hands of his outraged countrymen, was, in short, a terror to him. In the summer of 1796, when the British surrendered the posts of the northwest to the United States, GIRTY was at Detroit. When the boats laden with our troops came in sight, he became so much alarmed that he could not wait for the return of the ferry-boat, but plunged his horse into the river, at the risk of drowning, and made for the Canada shore, which he reached in safety; pouring out a volley of maledictions as he rose up the opposite bank upon the United States government and troops mingled with all the diabolical oaths his imagination could coin.

The grandfather of Rev. J. B. JOHNSTON, of St. Clairsville, O., who, during the Revolution, had command of a block-house in Westmoreland county, Pa., on one occasion held Simon GIRTY as a prisoner, but the date of the event we are unable to obtain. He effected his release by pretending to be friendly to the Americans.

Simon GIRTY was little, if any, less cruel and bloodthirsty than his brothers, but his restless activity and audacity, and his conduct in first pretending friendship for the American cause, and afterwards deserting to the British, made him the most notorious and hated of the family. He was cunning, unscrupulous, and almost constantly engaged, after his desertion from Fort Pitt, in some raid, or murdering, or plundering expedition. His shrewdness and daring, well fitted him for a leader in such enterprises.

There are many localities that have become historical by some tragic scene, or other notable event in this man's career, some of which bear his name. There is, near the Ohio, on the north side of Short creek, an abrupt termination of one of the river ridges, known as "Girty's point." It was his favorite place for striking into the interior. The path first used by the Indians is still used by the people of the neighborhood.

He left a family with a name execrated wherever he was known.

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