George Rogers Clark, the great conqueror of the region northwest of the Ohio, was born in Albemarle, and spent the first five years of his life in the County. (His distinguished younger brother, William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific, was born after the family's removal to Caroline, and though closely associated with Albemarle, is believed never to have lived within its borders.) The following information as to the Clark home was furnished the author of Conquest of the Regions Northwest of the Ohio by S. V. Southall, Esq.:
"General Clark was born al)out two miles east of Charlottesville, in a plain house which stood on a knoll near to and overlooking the eastern bank of the Rivanna River. His birth-place is about one and one-half miles north of Monticello, atid about two and one-half miles north-west from Shadwell. There is no vestige left of the house. Near its site, (and I presume on the farm to which it belonged), there stands quite a handsome brick residence, the home of Captain McMurdo, a retired English officer."<a href="#1" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 1
Now the home of Mr. A. E. McMurdo.">
In the early years of the Revolution, a band of Albemarle men went West in an attempt to join Gen. Clark. This is a partial account of their tragic experience:<a href="#2" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 2
Reprinted from Robert Benham's Narrative, in Indian Wars in the West, published 1821.">
"About the year 1778 or 1779, seventy or eighty persons, in five keel boats, were ascending the Ohio River. Among them were a Major Rogers, Mr. John Watson,<a href="#3" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 3
John Watson of Milton, father of the late Judge Egbert R. Watson."> and Mr. Robert Benham. Between Cincinnati and Columbia they fell in with a party of Indians, engaged in making a raft or crossing the river upon it. The Major observed, 'those fellows must be disposed of, before we can proceed,' and the whole party, excepting one man in each boat, went on shore to attack them. Just as they were advancing towards the raft, a heavy fire was poured in on their rear. Finding themselves surrounded, they deenied it prudent to turn upon their assaults and to endeavor instantly to regain their boats. This however, though the Indians retreated, they were unable to effect. One of the boats was taken off by the five men left in them, arid the rest fell into tile hands of the enemy. The party on land drove the savages before them, nearly as far as the Licking river, when it began to grow dark. Bloody There were iiow but ten men left, the rest, including Major Rogers, having fallen. A short council was held, and it was resolved to make a desperate effort, by charging the enenly's line, to make a way through it. The plan succeeded beyond expectation. Two, one of which was Mr. Benliam, were badly wotirided in its execution, but the rest, Mr. Watson and seven others, escaped unhurt aud readied Harrodsburgh some days after, but without any clothing except the wristhands arid collars of their shirts and the waistbands of their trousers.
Very different was the fate of the wounded. Benham, being shot through the hips, was unable to proceed. He concealed himself therefore amidst the boughs of a fallen tree, where he remained two days. Late on the second day a raccoon came near him, and he shot it. Instantly some one called out. Supposing it to be an Indian, he reloaded his piece and remained silent. The same voice much nearer to him soon called out again. He now concluded he should be killed, but resolved to sell his life as dearly as possible. He was however happily relieved by the exclamation in plain English, 'whoever you are, for God's sake answer me!' Being now convinced that the applicant was not a savage, he answered without further hesitation and was soon approached by his unfortunate companion, with both arms broken. After their mutual joy at meeting had subsided a little, Benham desired his friend to kick him the raccoon. which, being thus obtained, was skinned and cooked; and Benliam fed his companion as well as himself. They now became very thirsty, and Benham, still unable to move, expected to die of thirst; but his companion, having been to Licking river and waded iii so far as to be able to stoop and drink, returned and desired Benham to put his hat in his nioutli that he might bring him some water, which he did.
"Captain Benham made use of their shirts to dress their wounds, which recovered surprisingly. They remained at this spot two weeks. Benham shot game and his companion pushed it to him by his feet, as he also did the fuel necessary for cooking. When turkeys were seen, the broken-armed man would walk around at a considerable distance from them and drive them, so as to make them come within reach of Benhain's shot. The hat continued to supply the place of a drinking vessel. In two weeks Benham could, by using his gun as a crutch, move forward a little. They then proceeded to the mouth of the Licking, about one mile, where they arrived in two weeks more. One of the broken arms getting so as to be of use, and Benham being able to walk a little, they fixed themselves a kind of shelter by the side of a large log fronting the Ohio river, where they remained, subsisting in the way described before, until late in November, when they saw a flat boat descending the Ohio. They made signals of distress, but tile boat began to row off, supposing them to be Indians. At last however, two men, (one named Nicholas Welch) jumped into a canoe, resolving at all hazards to ascertain who and what they were, and, if their countrymen, to bring them off. For this purpose they landed below Licking and took such a position as enabled them to ascertain that these unfortunate men were friends; after which they took them on board and brought them safe to the falls. Here fortunately their clothing was found, having been saved in the boat which had escaped with the five men."
(An old Richmond paper, containing the action of the General Assembly upon this incident, is now unfortunately lost. Trusting to memory, the writer recalls that upon the loss of the officer Mr. Watson assumed command. For several nights he was creeping up and down the river banks collecting the badly scattered and disorganized men. At great risk he and others revisited the battlefield. There they discovered life in Major Rogers, and brought him off, carrying him back to civilization, where he recovered. Mr. Watson and two others were thanked by the State for their services.)