Desecrating Indian mounds
March 20, 1840
Leverett Ward Wessells was 20 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Henry McNeil, was 24 when it was received.
Leverett Ward Wessells died 55 years, 15 days after writing this.
It was written 180 years, 6 months, 10 days ago.
It was a Friday.
Fort A ÷ 11 E. Fa.
Feb. 2, 1840
Well My Old Friend,
I do not know of anyone who deserves to be persecuted (favored I meant) with one of my very interesting epistles more than yourself; so here I come although I have not enough news to give to pay you for going over to Uncle Sam’s after it. I hear from Litchfield very seldom; expect you have all forgotten that I still continue of the live list long time ago; but as old Hawk Eye would say it’s “human nature” and of course to be expected. I have lately altered my will and left out Judd’s son entirely the scamp; I wrote him a long time since, urging him in a very earnest and pathetic manner to give me a little of the latest Banton news, but he has not taken enough notice of me to answer me; his name is therefore stricken from the will; having the fears of like misfortune before you, I presume you will answer this without delay, making me acquainted with all that is going on in the city of blue clay; not any of your politics & that sort of stuff; but the gossip & scandal; who are married and who are going to be; who are quarreling (some of you of course) etc., etc., etc.
I have now been in this Godforsaken country about four months, and as yet have not been scalped: this remarkable fact I attribute chiefly, to the hard times at the north, Bank suspensions etc., but I hope these things will come quite soon—I will now give you a short and geographical sketch of this territory; sand hills & pine barrens, with numerous small lakes—population no man knows—religion not any—civilization have not seen anything like it—yet, this I believe to be a very correct statement and will I think give you a very exalted idea of the territory of Florida, of which your friend Mr. Wessells is the most respectable inhabitant, for you will know him to be an ornament to any society although his talents have not always been appreciated as they ought. This Post (N. 11) is as near as I can learn about ¾ of a mile away from the jumping off place, and it is a solemn [?] part my dear sir that is twenty miles from the nearest house from which fact you will infer that I seldom go to Harlie. This is a severe case as you will allow, but I suppose all is for the best, and being of a much and lowly mind, I do not complain. No. 11 is commanded by my brother and garrisoned by Company H. of the second Infantry and a detachment of volunteers. There are very few Indians in this square, so that I ride alone in all directions without of being afraid of meeting with the “red nagurs”. On the shore of a lake about three miles from here is an Indian mound of a pyramidal form and about eight rods in circumference at the base; my brother had it excavated, found three or four skeletons but no relics excepting part of an earthen vase; there are several mounds about twelve miles from here which have never been opened, but I think that I shall disturb their slumbers one of these days; perhaps I may have better luck-----
One morning a few weeks since a horse and carriage are found n the woods one mile from here containing the travelling affairs of lady and a gent., but the people are missing: now you must know that no one thinks of travelling in this country without an escort. Beside we are out of the world entirely, the road only leading to the interior posts. We are all therefore up in arms. All the scouts were sent out on trail. The lady’s track was toward Black Creek, but the Gent’s sloped for the woods; about noon the lady was found about 10 miles from here by Col. T.P.??? of the 7th Infantry and by him carried to the 20 mile house. The man was found by some of our scouts near Fort Harlie and carried there. Next morning Mr. L. Wessells (formerly of Litchfield) took the carriage and went after the fair unfortunate supposing her to in duty bound to be both young and pretty in order to make it an adventure, but II fell down entirely; I found the woman but at the same time I found that she was old and had no teeth; but there was one thing which she did have, and that was a husband; this fact caused my gallantry to cave in very perceptibly; but I felt sorry for her and therefore offered my services to carry her to Harlie. She said that the Gent. (who was her brother) and herself started the day previous for Fort Harlie, but mistook the road and about midnight found themselves they knew not where; it was very dark and they soon got off the road; her brother left her to find it and that was the last she saw of him; got out of the carriage to find she didn’t know what; travelled until she saw our guard fires; thought they were Indians and cut dirt; ran until tired and then lay down, was serenaded all night by wolves; arose with the lark and came this way again; same so near she saw an escort of dragoons leave here and ride off through the woods; mistook them for “bloody savages” ; turned on her heels and took the “[?] shoot”. Hoped until overtaken by Col. T. P. as before stated. She was very much fatigued and when found was just turning off into the woods to give up the spook. Her brother [?] a little different; said he saw Indians running by the carriage; took his gun and got out & walked by the horses off the road; and in trying to find it, lost the carriage; [?] all night; gave himself up for a gone coon; lay down under a tree for the laudable purpose of caving in; he was here found by one of our scouts as before mentioned; said he never expected to see his sister again; supposed of course the Indians had with their usual skills and clemency deprived her of that useful appendage; vis. the scalp—now my old grammarian don’t fail to write me soon; give my respects to Col. Odell and family; don’t forget Mrs. Heacock without you wish to have me forget you; give my love to every girl that I have ever seen, for I have not seen one since I have been in Florida; tell A. A.; Lord for the Lord’s sake to write me; tell Harry Bael he is a gentleman, Judd’s son is not; and there’s the difference----
If you see Father please say you have heard from me & my health is improving; direct to Black Creek East Florida, Care Lieut. H. W. Wessells.
L. W. Wessells
H. McNeil Litchfield