“The Death of Colonel Crafford”


Crafford leads a party out to slaughter the Indians outside Sandusky. Despite the valor of the white officers, they are forced back and Crafford is taken. The tribal council condemns him to be burnt. The survivors go home and cry for revenge

Supplemental text

Death of Colonel Crafford, The
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

From Mary O. Eddy, Ballads and Songs from Ohio, #115, pp. 260-262.
From a manuscript copied by Adam Swinehart (died 1873) and supplied
by his granddaughter C. C. Waltenbaugh of Canton, Ohio.

 1. Come, all you good people, wherever you be,
      Pray, draw near a while, and give ear unto me;
    A story I'll tell you that happened of late
      Concerning brave Crafford's most cruel defeat.

 2. A bold-hearted company, as we do hear,
      Equipped themselves, being all volunteers;
    In number four hundred eighty nine,
      To take Sandusky town was their design.

 3. In seventeen hundred eighty two,
      In May the twenty sixth, as I tell unto you,
    They crossed the Ohio, as we do understand,
      Where brave Colonel Crafford he gave the command.

 4. With spirits undaunted away they did steer
      Through the Indian country without dread or fear,
    Where Nicholas Slover and Jonathan Deans
      Conducted them over the Sandusky plains.

 5. Our brave Colonel Crafford and officer bold,
      On the fourth of June did the Indians behold;
    On the plains of Sandusky at three the same day,
      Both armies approached in battle array.

 6. The Indians on horseback, Girtee gave the command;
      In the side of the plain they boldly did stand;
    Our men, like brave heroes, upon them did fire,
      Till backwards the Indians were forced to retire.

 7. Our rifles did rattle, and bullets did fly,
      Till some of our men on the ground they did lie,
    And some being wounded, to others they said,
      "Fight on, brother soldiers, and don't be dismayed."

 8. Brave Colonel Williamson, as we do understand,
      He prayed for three hundred men at his command;
    And, had it been granted, we make no great doubt,
      We'd put the vile savages all to the rout.

 9. Like a hero of old there was brave Major Light
      Who encouraged his men for to stand and to fight;
    And with courage and conduct his men did command;
      Like a Grecian that hero in battle did stand.

10. There was brave Major Briston, the fourth in command,
      In the front of the battle most boldly did stand,
    And with heroic courage his post did maintain,
      While bullets like hail in great showers did rain.

11. There was brave Bibbs and Ogle received a ball;
      On the plains of Sandusky they nobly did fall;
    And not them alone, but some more of their train
      Had the honor of death on the Sandusky plain.

12. Our officers all so most nobly did fight,
      And likewise our men, from two days until night,
    Till a reinforcement of Indians there came,
      Which made us retreat from the Sandusky plain.

13. "Now," says our commander, "since we have lost ground,
      And with greater numbers they do us surround,
    We'll gather the wounded men, and let us save
      All that's able to walk, and the rest we must leave."

14. Our brave Colonel Crafford, upon his retreat,
      Likewise Major Harrison and Doctor Knight
    With Slover, their pilot, and several men,
      Were made prisoners of war on the Sandusky plain.

15. And now they have taken these men of renown,
      And dragged them away to the Sandusky town;
    In their cruel council condemned to be
      Burnt alive at the stake by cruel Girtee.

16. They, like diabolians, this act did pursue,
      And Girtee the head of the infernal crew;
    This insidiator was a-standing by
      While they in the fire their bodies did fry.

17. The scalps of their heads while alive they did tear,
      Their bodies with irons red hot they did sear;
    They bravely expired without ever a groan
      That might have melted a heart was harder than a stone.

18. And when our brave heroes was burnt at the stake,
      Brave Knight and brave Slover they made their escape;
    With kind heaven's assistance they brought us the news,
      So none need the truth of these tidings refuse.

19. From east unto west, let it be understood,
      Let everyone arise to revenge Crafford's blood,
    And likewise the blood of those men of renown
      That was taken and burnt at Sandusky town.

Historical references

  • Mar 7, 1782 - American militia massacre 96 Delaware Indians (all Christians) at Gnadenhutten, Ohio. This was in retaliation for raids in which the Delaware took no part
  • May 25-June 6, 1782 - Colonel William Crawford's campaign against the Indians (and British loyalists) on the Sandusky River, culminating in his severe defeat and the massacre of his army.
  • June 11, 1782 - Execution by burning of Crawford. Crawford's defeat brought many Indians into the Revolutionary War on the British side, but this did little to change the balance of power; Cornwallis had already surrendered and American independence was assured


  1. Eddy 115, "A Song on the Death of Colonel Crafford" (1 text)
  2. ST E115 (Full)
  3. Roud #5341
  4. BI, E115


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1873 (Eddy)
Found in: US(MW)