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MAJOR SAMUEL McCOLLOCH'S FAMOUS LEAP
September, 1777


Part of Historical Marker on road overlooking Wheeling, West Virginia, where Major Samuel McColloch made his famous leap! The plaque shown in the picture on the right, is set in a large stone Historical Marker on the National Road that overlooks Wheeling, West Virginia

Samuel McColloch, at a very early age distinguished himself as a bold and efficient borderer. As an Indian fighter he had no superior. He seemed to track the wily red man with a sagacity as remarkable as his efforts were successful. He was almost constantly engaged in excursions against the enemy, or "scouting" for the security of the settlements. It was mainly to these energetic operations that the frontier was so often saved from savage depredation, and by cutting off their retreat, attacking their hunting camps, and annoying them in various other ways, he rendered himself so great an object of fear and hatred. For these they marked him and vowed sleepless vengeance against his name. To many of the savages these brothers were personally known, and were objects of intense fear and hate. Numerous artifices were employed to capture them; their enemies anticipating, in such an event, the privilege of satiating their vindictive malice, by the infliction of a lingering and cruel death. Of this design, on the part of the Indians, the brothers were aware; and in their almost miraculous preservation, in various contests with them, gratefully acknowledged the interposition of an invisible power in their behalf.

In consideration of his many very efficient services, Samuel MCCOLLOCH was commissioned Major in 1775.

While the enemy was pressing the siege of Wheeling, in 1777, Major Samuel MCCOLLOCH, at the head of forty mounted men, from Short creek, made their appearance in front of the fort, the gates of which were joyfully thrown open. Simultaneously with the appearance of MCCOLLOCH'S men, re-appeared the enemy, and a rush was made to cut off the entrance of some of the party. All, however, succeeding in getting in except the gallant Major, who, anxious for the safety of his men, held back until his own chance was entirely cut off. Finding himself surrounded by savages, he rode at full speed in the direction of the hill.

The enemy, with exulting yells, followed close in pursuit, not doubting they would capture one whom of all other men, they preferred to wreak their vengeance upon. The Indians drove the gallant Major to the summit of a lofty hill, which overhangs the present city of Wheeling. Knowing their relentless hostility toward himself, he strained every muscle of his noble steed to gain the summit, and then escape along the brow in the direction of Van Metre's fort. At length he attained the top, and galloping ahead of his pursuers, rejoiced at his lucky escape. As he gained a point on the hill near where the Cumberland Road now crosses, what should he suddenly encounter but a considerable body of Indians, who were just returning from a plundering excursion among the settlements.

In an instant, he comprehended the full extent of his danger. Escape seemed out of the question, either in the direction of Short creek or back to the bottom. A fierce and revengeful foe completely hemmed him in, cutting off every chance of successful retreat or escape. What was to be done? Fall into their hands, and share the most refined torture savage ingenuity could invent? That thought was agony, and in an instant the bold soldier, preferring death among the rocks and bramble to the knife and fagot of the savage, determined to plunge over the precipice before him. Without a moment's hesitation, for the savages were pressing upon him, he firmly adjusted himself in the saddle, grasped securely the bridle with his left hand, and supporting his rifle in the right, pushed his unfaltering old horse over! A plunge, a crash,-crackling timber and tumbling rocks were all that the wondering savages could see or hear. They looked chagrined but bewildered, one at another; and while they inwardly regretted that the fire had been spared its duty, they could not but greatly rejoice that their most inveterate enemy was at length beyond the power of doing further injury. But, lo! ere a single savage had recovered from his amazement, what should they see but the invulnerable major on his white steed, galloping across the peninsula. Such was the feat of Major MCCOLLOCH, certainly one of the most daring and successful ever attempted. The place has become memorable as MCCOLLOCH'S leap, and will remain, so long as the hill stands, and the recollections of the past have a place in the hearts of the people. 



It was taken from: Newton, J. H., et al. History of the Panhandle; Being Historical Collections of the Counties of Ohio, Brooke, Marshall, and Hancock, West Virginia. Evansville, IN: Unigraphic, 1973 (orig. pub. 1879).

 


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