Narrative of the Captivity of Sergeant Lent Munson – Indian Captivities

Narrative of the captivity and escape of Sergeant Lent Munson, who fell into the hands of the Western Indians at the time of Lieut. Lowry’s defeat.

As Lieut. Lowry and Ensign Boyd, with about one hundred men, were escorting two hundred and fifty pack horses with provisions from fort St. Clair to General Wayne’s camp, (six miles in advance of Fort Jefferson,) they were furiously assailed by about half their number of concealed Indians, and totally defeated. They had encamped four miles on their journey on the night of the 16th of October, 1793, and were sufficiently warned during the whole night of what they had to undergo at early dawn. However, no attack was made until the detachment was about ready to march on the morning of the 17th. At this juncture the Indians rushed upon them with great fury, and after a short but bloody engagement the whites were dispersed in every direction. In this onset Lieut. Lowry and Ensign Boyd both fell mortally wounded, and about twenty of their men were among the slain. The rest of this unfortunate escort, excepting eleven, who were taken prisoners, got back to Fort St. Clair. To the smallness of the number of the Indians is to be attributed the escape of any.

Sergeant Munson was one of the eleven prisoners, and was hurried off with his companions towards the country of the Ottawas, to which nation of Indians this party belonged. They had not proceeded far when one of the prisoners, being but a boy, and weakly, was murdered and left on the way. The remaining ten were then distributed among their captors. These all had their heads shaved, which among the Ottawas denoted they were to serve as slaves.

The residence of these Indians was upon the river then called the Maumee, since, the Miami of the lakes, about thirty miles from its mouth at Lake Erie. Here Mr. Munson was kept until the next June, performing the drudgery of the Indians, without anything very remarkable, for eight months, at the end of which time he made his escape in the following manner: He had learned so much of their language that he could understand much of their conversation, and he now learned that they were highly elated at the prospect of meeting and cutting off the army of Gen. Wayne, as they had that of Harmer and St Clair before. They boasted that “they were fifteen hundred strong, and that they would soon cut Wayne’s army to pieces.” They talked with the utmost contempt of the whites; said they lied about their numbers, and that “their armies were made up of cowards and boys.”

The warriors were now preparing to march to the Au Glaize, to make a stand against Gen. Wayne, and Mr. Munson anxiously awaited their departure, hoping by their absence he might take advantage and escape. His wishes were soon gratified; for on the 12th of June, 1794, the warriors left the village, and he took every precaution for flight. Accordingly, five days after, having prepared a canoe several miles below the village, on the river, under pretence of a hunting expedition he escaped to it, and in the night made all the exertions he was master of to reach the lake, which he did in two nights; not daring to sail during the day, for fear of discovery, but slyly drawing up his canoe at the approach of morning, patiently waited until the next night. And thus he found his way to Niagara, and thence to his friends in Connecticut, without material accident, where he arrived towards the end of July, 1794, after eight months’ captivity.


Fort St. Clair,

Collection: Indian Captivity Narratives. A collection of first hand Indian captivity narratives from a variety of sources. For a list of sources, please see title page.

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