The British have not been slow to recognise the manifest desirability of Big Bottom’s broad expanse. The fertile valley needs only its forest to be cleared to be ready for ploughing and the sowing of seed. Several pioneers have built their cabins near the fork of Old Bush Creek and the small area of marsh known as Soggy Bottom.
Ouaouackecinatouek, a chief of the Bear Folk Huron, has been moved to avenge the capture of his cousins, Hawhendagerha and Catchawatchecka by the 42nd Highlanders, as described here and here. Ouaouackecinatouek intends to destroy the entire settlement and to kill or capture every man woman and child.
Captain Murray of the 42nd (Highland) Foot stands ready to defend the settlement. Having whipped the Huron twice before, he looks forward to delivering another sound thrashing at Big Bottom. Will Ouaouackecinatouek be thwarted, or will the unspeakable savage avenge his captured cousins? Read on . . .
The Huron approach from the west, small numbers swimming across the river near the fork, allowing themselves to be seen so as to draw their enemy forward while the bulk of the warriors are slipping through the forest further north.
Murray keeps his highlanders in the vicinity of Widow Rattlebag’s impressive two-storey cabin and sends Lieut. Kennedy and his 44th Foot skirmishers over the river to scout the woods.
Kennedy’s men are quick enough to stop most of the Huron getting across the river into a position where Lieut. Mill’s flank might be threatened.
Kennedy has only a few men and, if he presses on too far, might be in danger of a haircut rather closer than currently fashionable amongst British soldiers.
Lieut. Kennedy loses a man to musket shots and his men send two quick volleys at a small group of Huron, sending the warriors to ground, pinning them down.
The Huron are getting across the river in some numbers.
Kennedy falls back in the face of superior numbers, exchanging fire but losing more men.
Captain Murray has used the time Kennedy has bought him to reform into three platoons, Sergeant M’Andrews in charge of the third with Sergeant Watson to assist him.
Murray’s own command catches some Huron who are trying to get round his flank with some brisk volleys that drop several braves before they can seek cover.
Has time run out for Quintin Kennedy? The dashing lieutenant is outnumbered and caught with his back to the river. The Huron charge, wielding their tomahawks with relish.
Kennedy’s men, their ammunition gone, meet the hatchets with musket butt and bayonet but are overwhelmed. Kennedy himself pistols one warrior, tomahawks another and levels a third with the butt of his empty pistol. He is brought down at last by a blow to the head. The Huron, impressed, take the lieutenant captive to burn later.
After a slow start, Ouaouackecinatouek’s plan is beginning to work. The bulk of his warriors are now shooting at the highlanders from the woods, protected from a charge by the river. The highlanders must stand in the open and volley at shadows, which it must be admitted they do with reasonable effectiveness. Casualties are taken on both sides.
Meanwhile, Ouaouackecinatouek himself has led some of his followers round Murray’s other flank and is also inflicting casualties.
Private Robert M’Gregor (‘Rob Roy? Oh, aye, ah kent his faither.’) has taken it upon himself to guard the Widow Rattlebag in her house.
Despite their advantages of cover, the Huron are getting by far the worse of the fight. Some of them are falling back deeper into the woods, seeking shelter from the relentless volleys of the highlanders.
Captain Murray has been nicked on the arm by a musket ball, but it takes more than a flesh wound to worry the redoubtable Scot. A couple of Huron are shooting at his men from their flank but he has shaken his men back into line and his volleys hammer Ouaouackecinatouek.
Sergeant M’Andrews is hit! Watson takes over and keeps the men firing. Enraged at the loss of their popular sergeant, the volley is devastating, killing three Huron; the remaining warriors turn and flee for home.
His men vanishing from the field in increasing numbers, Ouaouackecinatouek decides to cut his losses and call it a day.
Victory to the British!
But the Huron have the consolation of a valuable captive.