CRESTLINE — With warnings from the narrator that none of the violence was real, that no one would get hurt, and that there would be loud and sudden noises, one of the last battles of the American Revolution was reenacted at Lowe-Volk Nature Center last weekend culminating in the capture and tortured death of Col. William Crawford.
Native American, British, and American reenactors moved through the woods, fighting one another as part of the nature center’s Living History Days. The event was held June 4, 5, 6, nearly 240 years to the day from the actual battle.
Crawford, portrayed by Mark Cory of Bucyrus, and his unit of 520 volunteer militia were sent to the Ohio territory by Gen. George Washington to put down an Indian uprising. Washington and Crawford were good friends; Crawford was with Washington at his famous crossing of the Delaware River in 1777. And they both worked as surveyors and land speculators for the Virginia Land Company. So though retired at age 50, Crawford answered the call to lead the volunteer militia.
Crawford’s unit made their way to the Wyandot community near Upper Sandusky where the contingent fought nearly 800 Shawnee and Delaware, 500 Wyandot and 200 British soldiers on June 7 before making their retreat.
The nature center is believed to encompass the actual grounds where Col. Crawford and his retreating small group of soldiers were attacked by Delaware Indians in retaliation for the massacre of an entire Moravian village of 96 peaceful Native American Christian converts. The massacre was carried out by another militia, though some of them were also in Crawford’s unit.
“Scouts were three to four miles in front of the army when they were met by a large body of Indians who had been hidden in a ravine southeast of the river. Our men escaped the plains to an island of trees to defend against the attack. The enemy, being reinforced, flanked to the right and were met with our fire. The firing continued from 4 p.m. to dusk with both parties maintaining their ground. Our losses were four dead and 19 wounded,” reads Dr. John Knight’s journal which was read as narration to the reenactment.
More casualties resulted the next day for the Americans; and Crawford and his aide, Dr. Knight were captured June 7, 1782 and taken into what is now Wyandot County.
Col. Crawford was taken to what is now Upper Sandusky and tortured: his skin slashed with knives, hot pokers stabbed in him, appendages cut off; he was scalped and finally his body was burned.
This is documented because Knight witnessed it. He was able to escape his captors and wrote the account in his journal.
“Had it not been for Dr. Knight, Crawford would have been another ‘Oh, he went to the Ohio Country and never came back, said Lou Tomelleo of Caledonia, who portrayed Indian translator Simon Girty.
“This is Crawford County’s attachment to the Revolutionary War. A lot of people say the Revolution ended with Yorktown, but this was a year and some later. And the reason this is our attachment to the Revolutionary War is because British soldiers out of Fort Detroit fought in the Battle of the Olentangy,” he added.
Cory added that nearby is a monument that says, ‘Near this spot, on June 7, Crawford was captured by the Lenape. He was tortured on June 11 about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. He was dead by sundown.’”
Cory explained, “Crawford wasn’t Williamson [the general who led the massacre at the village], and the natives knew that, but someone had to die to suffer for the pain of the loss of those Christian Indians.”
Lowe-Volk Park’s Living History Days included a full camp representing colonial times with scheduled presentations and reenactments, children’s games, tomahawk throwing, fur trade demonstrations, cooking demonstrations, and more.