Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Warriors of Color Confront Monk

A site, purporting to deliver the history of Anishinabe Peoples, lists this account of the Battle of Little Mountain (also called Estill's Defeat):
This battle occurred in what is now Montgomery County, Kentucky. In this insignificant battle a small force of 25 white soldiers battled probably a larger force of Indian and black soldiers and lost. White casualties were 7 killed, while the casualties of the Indian and black soldiers was estimated at 17 killed and 2 wounded. The killings in the Gauntlet Grounds were intensifying during this time, as more and more whites commenced to settle down in the Gauntlet Grounds.
I know full well that the Wyandot peoples were often race neutral: it is understood that even a red-haired Anglo became a sub-chief in this time period. There were no permanent obstructions keeping Blacks taken as prisoners from becoming full-fledged People. Still, it took me by surprise to think that Captain Estill's slave Uncle Monk was not the only Black at the battle.

Upon reflection, it seems in the pioneers' best interest that all mention of armed Blacks - most likely escaped slaves - at war with ... and defeating ... militia forces should be kept secret. It must have been the pioneers' worst  nightmare.  Such intelligence must - at all costs - be kept from other slaves. It is entirely understandable that the written record, as well as anecdotes that have been passed down to us, would be silent on the subject.

Consider the implications. If true, does this knowledge make Monk's subsequent grant of freedom more remarkable? A prisoner overnight among the war party, he would have definitely known if any of his captors were black. Confronted by the idea that Monk might report that a Black Man, free or fugitive, has taken up arms, it is easy to surmise his life would become forfeit. His elimination would be the best way to prevent the spread of such incendiary information.

 The referent site represents expansively the concept of Anishinabe (whom I generally refer to as Chippewa or Ojibwa, while Wyandot is generally synonymous with Huron), and some historical accounts described are likely inaccurate. Still, this disclosure stimulates my thinking: I have heard Kentucky called the 'Middle Ground,' but never the 'Gauntlet Grounds.'

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