Originally Posted by Half Pint John
I come from the town were the Wetzels first settled. Wheeling, WV. Their history is easy to find but then how correct is it. Much of L Wetzels accomplishments, real or imagined can be found in "That Dark and Bloody River". Were there is smoke is there always fire?
I believe before that the Wetzels were from near Frederick in Western Maryland. Some family history of the Getzendanner clan makes mention of them. In any event, I thoroughly enjoyed That Dark and Bloody River
. I find Eckert's entire Winning of America Series very entertaining. I particularly liked The Conquerors
as I had previously known very little of Pontiac's War.
In my father's day, Lewis Wetzel was a much better known frontier hero. Probably due to Zane Grey's Frontier Trilogy
that starts with the story of Wheeling's siege and Betty Zane. Apparently, he fell out of favor in the years since as my generation barely seems aware of him. (I am 50). In any event, there are a number of books that tell stories of Wetzel. Many of them non-fiction. Even those tend to describe him as the most talented rifleman of the early frontier. The secret being that he could reload at a full run, turn, fire, and repeat the performance at top speed. At least once he is thought to have single handedly used this ability to take on some 5 or 6 pursuers.
Unfortunately, modern history also tells of Lewis being a cold blooded murderer who was not above killing an unarmed chief by tomahawk during what should have been a peace talk. Lewis was both. He was a terrible villain who murdered Indians in battle and at rest. He was a great hero to the frontier folk who loved him and hid him from the authorities when his dark side made trouble in the form of murdering the Indian chief. I wonder if this dual personality turned modern history away from Lewis whereas early 20th century historians tended to be more forgiving where the killing of Indians was concerned?
Anyway, I have read some of Hugh's work on disproving famous rifle shots. It made me wonder about the feats attributed to Lewis Wetzel. Could it really be possible for him to reload on the run and be so lethal with his weapon?