By Luther F. Addington


By Luther F. Addington

     Thomas Ingles, who was captured at Draper's Meadows July 30, 1755 and taken north with his mother, Mary, when he was four years old, stayed among the Indians thirteen years and learned their language and their customs. He so loved his Indian father and his Indian father's children that he did not want to return to his blood father and mother when the opportunity arose. But return he did.

     Years later, after marrying an Albemarle County, Virginia girl, he moved to Burke's Garden in the Clinch River Valley; and later his own family was attacked by the same tribe of Indians with whom he had lived when a boy.

     However, it was the notorious chief, Black Wolf, and a band of outlaw Shawnees, whom he'd never got acquainted with on the Ohio, that attacked his home that April, 1782.

     Thomas Ingles and his Negro man were in the field plowing when Thomas saw a band of Indians surround his cabin, rush inside, and immediately come out with his wife and three children. Also, some of them were carrying house plunder.

     Mrs. Ingles and the children were screaming for help as they were led away. Thomas left his horse standing hitched to the plow and hurried toward home, which was but a short distance away.

     Thomas drew fairly near his family, now captives, and paused. Neither he nor his Negro had a gun. So, Thomas knew it would be suicide to attempt a fight and went no further.

     Now, Thomas, who had once lived among the Shawnees and so liked their ways that he didn't want to return with his father to their home on New River, saw members of this same tribe marching away with his dear ones.

     Thomas knew that he could get help no closer than the North Fork of the Holston, perhaps thirty miles away. But he'd go there and ask for help. Unhitching his plow horse from the plow, he mounted and set out on the trail toward Holston. From Burk's Garden he rode down the littlevalley and took the trail through Little Moccasin Gap and to the river.

     Arriving there, he found it to be muster day. A group of men had assembled and were being drilled by Thomas Maxwell, who had formerly lived at the head of Bluestone River.

     About the same time that Thomas Ingles had seen the Indians taking his family away, a Joseph Hix and his Negro man, coming across a ridge, also saw them. They, likewise, knew that a fight was useless, so Hix hurriedly walked through Burk's Garden, crossed Brushy Mountain to a small settlement in the present Bland county, where he got a small group of men to accompany him back to the Garden. They arrived about the same time Thomas Ingles and Maxwell did.

     The two companies of men were formed into one, and Captain Maxwell was put in command. At once they started out on the well-known Indian trail. At the head of Clinch River they saw signs which indicated the savages had just passed with the captives.

     Here on the very headwaters of the Clinch, where a few houses dotted the landscape, ore settlers joined the little army. From here on every precaution was taken not to dash upon the Indians and surprise them lest they kill their prisoners.

     On the fifth day after the attack the pursuing party were at the headwaters of the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River. Two advance scouts stole forward, looking and listening. Then, in the night, a light was seen. Stealing closer, they saw that the Indians had gone into camp for the night.

     Now, the scouts backtracked and reported what they had found. The white men held a council. It was decided that if they hurried on and tried to rescue the woman and her children that night the Indians would have the advantage since they were familiar with the camp ground and could easily kill the prisoners and slink away into the dark.

     So, a plan for a dawn attack was made. Captain Maxwell would take half the men and during the night circle far around the Indians and come back toward camp, cutting off escape. Thomas Ingles would take charge of the other half of the company and steal up from the rear.

     Maxwell and his party made their circle through the dark woods too big, got lost and were not in position to help Thomas and his contingent when daylight came. Knowing that the Indians would soon break camp, Thomas Ingles decided to make an attack anyhow. And following is the story as told by J. P. Hale, great-grandson of Thomas' parents:
     "As soon as he fired a shot, some of the Indians began to tomahawk the prisoners, while others fought and fled. Thomas Ingles rushed in and seized his wife just as she had received a terrible blow on the head with a tomahawk. She fell, covering the infant of a few months old, which she held in her arms. The Indians had no time to devote to it. They had tomahawked the little five-year-old daughter, who was named Mary, after her mother, and his little three-year-old son,
named William, after his father. His Negro servants, a man and woman, captured with his family, escaped without injury.

     "In making their escape, the Indians ran close to Captain Maxwell and party and, firing on them, killed Captain Maxwell, who was conspicuous from wearing a white hunting shirt.

     "The whites remained on the ground until late in the evening burying Captain Maxwell, who was killed outright, and Thomas Ingles' little son, who died from his wounds during the day. Mrs. Ingles and the little girl were alive though badly wounded.

     "It was not known definitely whether any of the Indians were killed, but while the whites remained on the scene they heard groans from the adjacent laurel thickets that seemed to be made by persons who were suffering or dying.

     "After burying the dead and giving such attention as was possible to the wounds of Mrs. Ingles and her little daughter, Mary, the party began its return march to the settlements. Owing to the critical condition of Mrs. Ingles and her daughter, the party had to move very slowly; and it required four days for them to reach William Wynne's fort at Locust Hill, one and a half miles east of the present town of Tazewell.

     "William Ingles, father of Thomas, received the news of the capture of his son's family a few days after it occurred; and he immediately left his home on New River for Burke's Garden. Anticipating that there would be dire need of surgical attention, he took with him the best surgeon he could get in the New River settlements. He reached Wynne's fort about the same time that Thomas Ingles with his wife and children arrived there. No relief could be given little Mary, and
she died the morning after the rescue party reached the fort. The surgeon was more successful with the case of Mrs. Ingles. He extracted several pieces of bone from her skull, and treated the wound so skillfully that she was able to travel on horseback in a few weeks, when she, with her husband and babe, returned with William Ingles to his home at Ingle's Ferry, on New River. Very soon thereafter, Thomas Ingles, with his wife and infant daughter, moved to Tennessee and

settled in succession on the Watauga River, at Mossy Creek and at Fort Knox, now Knoxville. There his daughter, Rhoda, who escaped death at the hands of the Indians, grew up to lovely womanhood and became the wife of Patrick Campbell, a prominent citizen of Knoxville. Some time subsequent to his daughter's marriage, Thomas Ingles moved to Mississippi, where he remained until he died." (1)

FOOTNOTES: (1) Hale, Trans Alleghany Pioneers; Pendleton, History of Tazewell County; Bickley, History of Tazewell County. 

     Pages 54 to 58

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