The following is a short summary of ‘The Canoe Fight’. See here for more information about the characters and here for the full text.

‘The Canoe Fight’ was written in 1885 by George Cary Eggleston. It is set near Fort Madison and on the Alabama River in 1813. The United States is at war with Britain in what is not specifically identified but assumed to be the War of 1812. The nearby Native Americans, said to be incited by the British to cause trouble for the white Americans, are spotted on the bank of the Alabama River, which is where Fort Madison’s crops are grown. Fearing the Native Americans will destroy said crops, the people of Fort Madison decide to evict them by force.

Led by Samuel Dale, a group of volunteers launch a surprise attack but soon Dale and several of his men are trapped on the river while in a canoe and are outnumbered by the Native Americans who are in a larger canoe. Despite being outnumbered, they win the battle. Dale goes on to live a life of ‘hardship, daring, and wonderful achievement’, and when he dies he is described by¬†General John F. H. Claiborne as a peculiar man rather like his supposed enemy, the Native American. The story ends with a piece of trivia– the leader of the Native Americans Dale fought later asks him to be his best man when he marries, and the two become ‘devoted friends’.

Although the story is a fictionalization, it is based on a historical event. The fight itself appears to be portrayed accurately according to this description, and all the characters mentioned were in fact real people.

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