THE HEROINES OF BRYANT”S STATION
from McClung’s Sketches of Western Adventure as reprinted in Noble Deeds of American Women 1855
At the siege of Bryant’s station near Lexington, Kentucky, in August 1782, the water in the fort was exhausted; and as the nearest place to obtain a supply was a spring several rods off, it would require no small risk and, consequently, no common intrepidity to undertake to bring it. A body of Indians in plain sight, were trying to entice the soldiers to attack them without the walls, while another party was concealed near the spring, waiting it was supposed, to storm one of the gates, should the besieged enter out. It was thought probable that the Indians in ambush would remain so until they saw indications that the other party had succeeded in enticing the soldiers to open engagement.
The position of things was explained to the women, and they were invited to each take a bucket and march to the spring in a body. “Some, as was natural had no relish for the undertaking, and asked why the men could not bring water as well as themselves, observing that they were not bulletproof, and the Indians made no distinction between male and female scalps. To this it was answered, that the women were in the habit of bringing water every morning to the fort; and that if the Indians saw them engaged as usual, it would induce them to thinnk that their ambuscade was undiscovered; and that they would not unmask themselves for the sake of firing at a few women, when they hoped, by remaining concealed a few moments longer, to obtain complete possession of the fort; that if the men should go down to the spring, the Indians would immediately suspect something was wrong, would despair of succededing by ambuscade, and would instantly rush upon them, follow them into the fort, or shoot them down at the spring.
“The decision was soon made. A few of the boldest declared their readiness to brave the danger, and the younger and more timid rallying in the rear of these veterans, they all marched down to the body of the spring, within point blank shot of more than five hundred Indian warriors! Some of the girls could not help betraying symptoms of terror; but the married women, in general, moved with a steadiness and composure that completely deceived the Indians. Not a shot was fired. The party were permitted to fill their buckets, one after another, without interuption; and although their steps became quicker and quicker, on their return, and when near the fort, degenerated into a rather unmilitary celerity, with some little crowding in passing the gate, yet not more than one-fifth of the water was spilled, and the eyes of the youngest had not dilated to more than double their ordinary size.”