SANDUSKY CO.  PIONEER AND HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION PICNIC

 

October 11,1890

Fremont, Ohio

 

We know that the Indians used to be posted near where the old stone mill of Mr. Moore stood, and that a battle was fought by Major Ball with a squadron of cavalry against the Indians.  My wife’s father was in that command—a youngster of perhaps 18 years of age.  He went out with the Kentucky infantry and drifted into the command of Major Ball, after whom Ballville township was named.  This fight occurred, as you know, just above the old stone mill.  After I came into the family, I had a talk with mother Webb about it and I found that she was entitled to a land warrant on the account of the military services of her husband in that war.  I took the necessary steps to make the proof, and in doing so found a few persons who lived in Fayette and an adjoining county in Kentucky—three or four persons—who knew something in regard to that battle and in regard to Dr. Webb’s part in it.  It has been to me an interesting story.  Major Ball was an officer of regular army and a man of good practical sense.  He understood very well that in his warfare with the Indians there was danger of a battle being lost at the very beginning.  The surprise at being fired upon from a thicket usually panic struck the whole command of the white men and they fled.  So Major Ball, whose duty is was to patrol the country from Fort Seneca to Fort Ball, and sometimes as far as Lower Sandusky, back and forth, two or three times a week, knowing that he was in danger of an ambuscade of the Indians, explained to the men of his command that the proper thing to be done was for every one to ascertain by the smoke where the firing came from and get there before the Indians could reload, and draw his sword upon them and the first Indian that he saw, pursue him to death.  “Let every man,” said he, “do this and never think of stopping or dismounting or going away, but go direct toward the smoke.”  He had instructed them so fully about this that every man understood it and then he asked, “Will you do it?”  “Oh yes,” every man would do it.  In his next passage through the woods he sent six of his men ahead and put them into an ambuscade against his own party without their knowledge.  As the rest came up six guns were fired and six Indians came out of the thicket, but his men, instead of going toward the smoke, disappeared like magic and the major himself was the only man to charge for the smoke.  He tried to rally them, scolded them, and then disclosed to them their comrades, who had acted the part of Indians.  He tried them in this manner again and again, perhaps half a dozen times, until finally every man would go for the smoke and pursue the Indians.  This practice showed the wise policy of the major and added to the willingness of the men to charge the smoke. 

 

After this some seventeen Indians who had learned the days on which he passed back and forth hid themselves on the bank of the river and when he came along fired 17 shots by which one horse was killed and several men wounded; but every man in Ball’s command went for the Indians and every last Indian was killed.  That is the story of the victory at Ballville in which Dr. Webb took part.  They passed through here on the old road to the bluff where there was a thicket of hazel brush and then went on up the river.  This path is still to be seen near the place where I live.