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In addition to the practice which Johnson's men had had in charging infantry, they were probably the most expert frontier horsemen in the world. In those days all frontier men rode on horseback. The rifle was their constant companion; they were accustomed, either in the pursuit of cattle or in hunting, to carry their guns in the forest. They had no swords or pistols — they had nothing but their rifles, muskets, tomahawks,1 hatchets, and hunting-knives.
'In visiting the battlefield in 1899-1900, I was enabled to secure several specimens of these tomahawks that had been plowed up on the field. The American tomahawk or hatchet was so different from the British tomahawk that there was no difficulty in distinguishing it.
ARRIVED AT THE BATTLEFIELD
The hour for action had come. Behind, weary marchings of four hundred miles, full of self-denial and unchanging privations; before them, enemies arousing an immeasurable hate; every heart was full of memories of savage brutality and cruelty to relatives, friends, and fellow-citizens for a quarter of a century. The horrible massacre of the Raisin, its indescribable barbarity and its fiendish inhumanity, was painted on every soul, and the spirits of its slain victims seemed to ride side by side in martial procession with these living horsemen, fate's avengers, chosen to inflict punishment on its ferocious perpetrators.
The atrocities of Fort Meigs were not forgotten, and the cry of the Kentuckians, tortured and murdered by the savage red man within the sight of British officers, and coolly tomahawked or shot while helpless and defenseless in their very presence, seemed to beseech Heaven for a just and complete revenge upon those guilty of such unspeakable horrors.
Among these Kentuckians now aligning for conflict were men who had looked upon all that was awful at Raisin and terrible at Fort Meigs. Some had shared in the humiliation of Detroit's surrender, and had witnessed their country's flag and honor sullied by General Hull's cowardice and imbecility, while others had endured the trials, insults, and torture of British prisons. All were animated by the highest courage and truest patriotism. The generous impulses of brave and chivalrous souls impelled every man to the noblest discharge of duty, and every ear was listening with absorbing interest for the sound which should call them to battle with their detested foes.
Each man signaled his desire to march in the front line; there were neither laggards nor cowards in that Kentucky army. Intense desire to avenge the murder of fellow-Kentuckians was quickened by an eager patriotism and sharpened by an honorable ambition for personal honor and renown. If any were selfish of distinction, it was a selfishness controlled and directed by a thorough subjection to the glory of Kentucky and their country, and seeking in the discharge of a public service to win a crown of personal fame.
The long line of cavalry formed in columns, and the infantry, directed by aides and officers, moved with celerity and eagerness to find their proper positions in the order of battle.