THE HEROINE OF FORT HENRY
 BETTY ZANE was a girl just out of school when she went with
her parents to live in the Ohio country. Her father
was a restless, daring man, fond of the woods and
afraid of no danger. The new home which he had chosen
for his family was at the place where the city of
Wheeling has since grown up. It was near the bank of
the Ohio River and in the heart of the great western
Going by way of Pittsburg, the Zanes floated down the
river on a rude flatboat. Some of their old neighbors
were with them, intent like themselves, to find a new
home in the wild, unsettled West. All were full of
courage and hope, for all felt as though they were
entering a strange new world where life was to be very
different from what it had been before.
Betty Zane's eyes were full of wonder when the company
landed. The only building that she saw was a square
fort with high palisades of logs
 on every side of it. It stood in the midst of a
clearing, a little way from the river. It was entered
by a gate on the east side, and at each of its four
corners there was a strong blockhouse with loopholes
for the guns. Inside of the inclosure there were small
cabins for the women and children, a storehouse, a
well, stables for the horses, and sheds for the cattle.
"Well, how do you like ti, my dear?' asked Mr. Zane.
"I think it is very odd," said Betty, "but I shall like
it better and better every day."
And so she did. Life at Fort Henry, as the place was
called, was no play day. Everybody was busy. The men
were at work outside, enlarging the clearing, chopping
and burning logs, planting corn and beans, planning for
the comfort of their families. Some of them went
hunting, to provide meat for the fort; but game was so
plentiful that they did not need to go far. Inside the
fort, the women and girls were doing a thousand things,
cooking and washing, sewing and mending, spinning and
weaving. It was not a place in which to feel lonesome.
 Yet as to the fort itself, no place could be more
lonely. On every side of the clearing the thick woods
lay. North, south, east, west, for miles and miles,
there seemed to be nothing else. Under the trees the
startled deer ran swiftly, the squirrels played among
the branches, and at night Betty could hear the wolves
howling in the thickets. Now and then some Indians
would stroll that way to see what the white men were
doing and to smoke the pipe of peace with them.
Soon other families came to Fort Henry, and half a
dozen cabins were built in the clearing for them to
live in. Indeed, quite a little village sprang up,
with a street leading through it straight from the gate
of the fort.
"If the Indians ever take the warpath," were the
orders, "then every person must hasten inside."
Just then the Revolutionary War began. The battles of
Lexington and Bunker Hill were fought. The news of
these battles was carried quickly even to the wild Ohio
country on the other side of the mountains.
General Hamilton, who was then the lieutenant governor
of Canada, was charged with the task of
 persuading the Indians to help the British. It was
easy for him to do this. The red men did not like the
Americans to come into their hunting grounds and build
forts and make clearings. They were therefore quite
ready to join the British and make war upon them. And
so, band after band of painted savages were sent
skulking through the woods to attack and destroy the
settlements along the Ohio.
"I will pay a good price for the scalp of every settler
that you bring me," said Hamilton; and this made the
savages al the more eager to burn and kill.
It was early in autumn. The woods were just beginning
to put on their wonderful colorings of purple and gold.
The air was calm and mild. The sun shone gently
everyday through a soft mist, giving to the landscape a
dreamy, peaceful appearance, such as prevails in the
West during what is known as Indian summer.
One morning a messenger came in great haste to Fort
Henry. He was from the settlements in Kentucky, and he
brought important news.
"Simon Girty, with five hundred painted
In-  dians, is coming up the river," he said. "The savages
are traveling fast; they may be here at any hour."
Instantly all was alarm and bustle. The settlers in
the village hurried into the fort, taking with them
everything they could carry. The cattle also were
driven in. The palisade was strengthened. The
blockhouses were overhauled. Everything was made ready
for a siege.
A little while later, a sentinel on the west side of
the fort gave the alarm. Betty Zane, peeping out
through a narrow crack in the wall, could see the
savages approaching. They came, skulking silently
through the woods, dodging behind trees, hiding beneath
the underbrush. Soon the forest seemed to be alive
with them. The men in the blockhouses began to fire
upon them; but they still kept silent, creeping around
to the shelter of the cabins in the village.
Then Girty, the leader of the band, came boldly
forward, waving a dirty white flag above his head.
Betty Zane saw him standing at the window of one of the
cabins and calling out that he wished to say something.
He was a white man. His hair
 was long, his face was covered with a rough beard, and
he wore an old red coat that had once belonged to a
All the settlers knew Simon Girty. He had lived with
the Indians since childhood. He hated all white
people, and especially the settlers in the Ohio
country. He was more cruel, more treacherous, more
savage, than any Indian.
As soon as the men in the fort saw the white flag, they
stopped firing. Then Girty began to read a paper,
which he said was from General Hamilton.
"If you will lay down your arms and surrender," said
the paper, "no harm shall come to you. You may go back
in safety to your old homes on the other side of the
mountains. But if you will not do this, your fort will
be attacked and destroyed, and every man, woman, and
child will be put to death."
"Now, what do you mean to do?" asked Girty. "If you
are wise, you will surrender at once."
Colonel Shepherd, the commander of the fort, answered
"We all know you, Girty," he said. "Never will we
surrender to such a rascal. Never shall you get
 into this fort so long as there is one person alive to
The people in the fort shouted, "That's true, Colonel
Shepherd!" and clapped their hands in approval. A
young man in one of the blockhouses fired at Girty, and
caused him to dodge quickly back into the cabin.
Then the fighting began in earnest. The yells of the
Indians were dreadful to hear. From behind bushes,
rocks, and trees, they fired into the fort. The men in
the blockhouses fired back, but only when some careless
redskin showed himself within range of their deadly
bullets. Many of the Indians were killed, while not a
single white man was touched.
After an hour's fighting of this kind, the firing
stopped and the savages ran, pell-mell, back into the
"The cowards have given up the fight," cried one of the
"Not at all," said Colonel Shepherd, who knew them
better. "They have not gone far, and they'll be back
when we least expect them. This is one of their
 Then he went from one blockhouse to another to tell the
men what to do.
"How much powder have we?" he asked.
They looked and were dismayed to find that there was
but very little in the fort. The hunters had been
careless and had used more than belonged to them.
Then one remembered that he had a little keg of powder
in his cabin in the village. "It has never been
opened," he said, "and if we only had it now, it would
supply all our needs."
"But why did you leave the powder in your cabin? Why
didn't you bring it into the fort?" asked the colonel.
"May it please you, sir," was the answer, "I was in
such haste that I forgot everything."
"Then," said the colonel, "it is for you to go to the
cabin and bring the powder to the fort now."
"It is certain death, Colonel," answered the man.
All knew that the spoke the truth. Although not an
Indian was in sight, yet it was felt that every place
was closely watched. The cabin where the powder was
hidden was sixty yards from the gate of the fort.
Before a man could reach it a dozen Indian guns would
be leveled at him.
 Colonel Shepherd understood this well, but he knew that
the lives of all in the fort depended upon getting that
"Who will volunteer to go after it?" he asked.
The men looked at one another and grew pale, but no one
Then the colonel explained that as soon as the little
powder which was then in the blockhouses was used up,
they would all be at the mercy of the savages. But if
they could secure the keg that had been left in the
cabin, they might still win the day.
"Will no one volunteer?" he asked again.
Three or four boys and young men answered, "Yes. We
"But I cannot spare so many of you," said the colonel.
"There are not more than twenty of us, all told, and to
lose three or four would be almost as bad as to lose
the powder. Only one can go. Who will it be?"
"I!" "I!" "I!" cried each of the young men.
"I will go," said one.
"No, you won't. I spoke first, and I will go," said
Thus they began to dispute; and the time was
 passing. Even now, a few Indians could be seen
skulking back among the trees. Soon it would be too
late to make the attempt.
Then it was that Betty Zane came forward.
"Let me go," she said. "I am of no use here in the
fort. I cannot fight, but I can bring the powder."
"There is great danger," said Colonel Shepherd. "It
would be at the risk of your life."
"Yes," said the young men; "and it is for us to protect
the women and children from harm. We cannot allow you
to go. What if you should be killed?"
"That is the very question," said Betty. "If I should
be killed it would be but a small loss, for I am
useless here. But if one of you should be killed, the
fort would lose a protector. Let me go! I must
Betty's father then came forward. "I guess you'd
better let her go, Colonel," he said.
It was not time to parley, every moment was precious.
Colonel Shepherd saw that the child was determined.
"Open the gate, boys," he said.
The gate was opened a very little. Betty pushed
 through it and ran like a frightened deer toward the
cabin. Some Indians who were sneaking about the
village saw her. They stopped and looked at her
curiously, but did not shoot. Perhaps they were so
surprised at the sight that they did not think of their
guns. Perhaps they, too, were short of powder and did
not wish to waste it on a mere girl. Perhaps they
thought it a trick to draw them into some kind of trap
At any rate, Betty reached the cabin and found the
precious keg of powder. It was not large. She wrapped
her apron around it, and holding it close with both
arms, started back to the fort.
As she ran, some other Indians saw her. They leveled
their guns and fired. The bullets whistled about her
ears, but she ran all the faster. Before the Indians
could reload, she was inside of the fort and the gate
was closed. All the men and boys shouted as they saw
her safe, with the keg of powder in her arms.
"My brave girl!" cried her father. He had not time to
say more, for there was a great yelling outside and the
Indians were seen rushing in a body upon the fort.
 The men in the blockhouses were calm and cool. Every
shot that they fired counted. The ground was soon
strewn with dead and wounded savages. Their companions
were obliged to retreat again into the woods.
All that day and all night, the Indians made attack
after attack upon the fort. But colonel Shepherd and
his handful of men were always on the alert and could
not be taken by surprise. Early the next morning a
band of about forty hunters and settlers, all well
armed, came cautiously toward the fort from the east.
They kept out of sight of the Indians, but made signals
to the people in the fort.
Colonel Shepherd saw the signals and answered them.
Then the hunters and settlers made a swift rush toward
the fort. The gate was opened just in the nick of
time, and the forty men hastened in. all this was done
so quickly and silently that the Indians were taken
entirely by surprise. They were discouraged.
"We can never take this fort," they said to Girty. "We
shall try no longer, for we should lose everything and
gain nothing. We are going back to our own wigwams and
our own hunting grounds."
 Simon Girty knew that it was useless to argue with
them. So he caused the village to be burned, and then
returned into the woods with his savage host. Before
another day all were many miles on their way toward
their homes in the Northwest.
When Colonel Shepherd was asked, "Who saved the day at
Fort Henry?" his answer was, "Betty Zane. God bless
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