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Cornstalk (1720 – 1777)


Prominent leader of the Shawnee people in the era of the American Revolution; his name has been spelled a variety of ways, including Colesqua and Keigh-tugh-qua.
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Cornstalk
What shall we do now? the big knife is coming on us and we shall all be killed. Now we must fight or we are done. Then let us kill all our women and children and go fight until we die? I shall go and make peace!
Cornstalk quotes
All savages seem to us alike as the trees of the distant forest. Here and there one unites in his own person, all the excellencies, and becomes the favourable representative of the whole, the image of savage greatness, the one grand character in which all others are lost to history or observation. Cornstalk possessed all the elements of savage greatness, oratory, statesmanship and heroism, with beauty of person and strength of frame. In appearance he was majestic, in manners easy and winning. Of his oratory, Colonel Benjamin Wilson, Senr., an officer in Dunmore's army, in 1774, having heard the grand speech to Dunmore in Camp Charlotte, says — "I have heard the first orators in Virginia, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, but never have I heard one whose powers of delivery surpassed those of Cornstalk on that occasion." Of his statesmanship and bravery there is ample evidence both in the fact that he was chosen head of the Confederacy, and in the manner he conducted the war of 1774, and particularly by his directions of the battle at Point Pleasant.
Cornstalk
Cornstalk was often seen with his warriors. Brave without being rash, he avoided exposure without shrinking; cautious without timidity in the hottest of the battle, he escaped without a wound. As one of the warriors near him showed some signs of timidity, the enraged chief, — with one blow of his tomahawk, cleft his skull. In one of the assaults, Colonel Fields, performing his duty bravely, was shot dead. … The faltering of the ranks encouraged the savages. "Be strong! Be strong!" echoed through the woods over the savage lines in the tones of Cornstalk; and as Captain after Captain, and files of men after files of men, fell, the yells of the Indians were more terrific and their assaults more furious.




Cornstalk quotes
I was the border man’s friend. Many times I have saved him and his people from harm. I never warred with you, but only to protect our wigwams and lands. I refused to join your paleface enemies with the red coats. I came to the fort as your friend and you murdered me. You have murdered by my side, my young son.... For this, may the curse of the Great Spirit rest upon this land. May it be blighted by nature. May it even be blighted in its hopes. May the strength of its peoples be paralyzed by the stain of our blood.
Cornstalk
Upon reaching a place of safety, the Indians held a council. They had been defeated in their long expected great battle. The "long knives" were pressing on. Cornstalk enquired, what should be done. No one spoke. After a solemn pause, Cornstalk arose. "We must fight, or we are undone. Let us kill our women and children, and go and fight till we die." He sat down. After a long pause, he rose again and striking his tomahawk into the council post, said — "Then I'll go and make peace."
Cornstalk quotes
My son, the Great Spirit has seen fit that we should die together; and has sent you here. It is his will. Let us submit. It is best...
Cornstalk
When Cornstalk arose, he was in no wise confused or daunted, but spoke in a distinct and audible voice, without stammering, or repetition, and with peculiar emphasis. His looks while addressing Dunmore were truly grand, yet graceful and attractive.
Cornstalk quotes
Be strong! Be strong!
Cornstalk
There was a time when the name of Cornstalk thrilled every heart in West Virginia. Here and there among the mountains may be found an aged one, who remembers the terrors of Indian warfare as they raged on the rivers, and in the retired glens, west of the Blue Ridge, under that noted savage. Cornstalk was to the Indians of West Virginia, what Powhatan was to the tribes on the Sea Coast, the greatest and the last chief.
Cornstalk
When I was a young man and went to war, I thought that might be the last time, and I would return no more. Now I am here among you; you may kill me if you please; I can die but once; and it is all one to me, now or another time.
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