Betty Zane HTML version

Chapter 2
Fort Henry stood on a bluff overlooking the river and commanded a fine view of the
surrounding country. In shape it was a parallelogram, being about three hundred and
fifty-six feet in length, and one hundred and fifty in width. Surrounded by a stockade
fence twelve feet high, with a yard wide walk running around the inside, and with
bastions at each corner large enough to contain six defenders, the fort presented an
almost impregnable defense. The blockhouse was two stories in height, the second
story projecting out several feet over the first. The thick white oak walls bristled with
portholes. Besides the blockhouse, there were a number of cabins located within the
stockade. Wells had been sunk inside the inclosure, so that if the spring happened to go
dry, an abundance of good water could be had at all times.
In all the histories of frontier life mention is made of the forts and the protection they
offered in time of savage warfare. These forts were used as homes for the settlers, who
often lived for weeks inside the walls.
Forts constructed entirely of wood without the aid of a nail or spike (for the good reason
that these things could not be had) may seem insignificant in these days of great nasal
and military garrisons. However, they answered the purpose at that time and served to
protect many an infant settlement from the savage attacks of Indian tribes. During a
siege of Fort Henry, which had occurred about a year previous, the settlers would have
lost scarcely a man had they kept to the fort. But Captain Ogle, at that time in charge of
the garrison, had led a company out in search of the Indians. Nearly all of his men were
killed, several only making their way to the fort.
On the day following Major McColloch's arrival at Fort Henry, the settlers had been
called in from their spring plowing and other labors, and were now busily engaged in
moving their stock and the things they wished to save from the destructive torch of the
redskin. The women had their hands full with the children, the cleaning of rifles and
moulding of bullets, and the thousand and one things the sterner tasks of their
husbands had left them. Major McColloch, Jonathan and Silas Zane, early in the day,
had taken different directions along the river to keep a sharp lookout for signs of the
enemy. Colonel Zane intended to stay in his oven house and defend it, so he had not
moved anything to the fort excepting his horses and cattle. Old Sam, the negro, was
hauling loads of hay inside the stockade. Captain Boggs had detailed several scouts to
watch the roads and one of these was the young man, Clarke, who had accompanied
the Major from Fort Pitt.
The appearance of Alfred Clarke, despite the fact that he wore the regulation hunting
garb, indicated a young man to whom the hard work and privation of the settler were
unaccustomed things. So thought the pioneers who noticed his graceful walk, his fair
skin and smooth hands. Yet those who carefully studied his clearcut features were
favorably impressed; the women, by the direct, honest gaze of his blue eyes and the