Individual Characters (In Order of Appearance):
  • Samuel (“Sam”) Dale: A frontiersman living at or near Fort Madison. Although he is white, he is considered somewhat unusual due to his exposure to the nearby Native Americans. He is said to have adapted many of their customs, “even in his dress and manners”. In the story he organizes and leads the white Americans in their fight against the Native Americans, and is later considered a hero. Interestingly enough, Samuel Dale was a real person, as was the battle spoken of in ‘The Canoe Fight’. However, like George Cary Eggleston, few sources concerning him are available. For more detailed information on his life outside of the fictionalized story, see Links.
  • Jerry Austill: One of the white Americans fighting under Dale’s command. He is described as having proven his bravery in past skirmishes despite only being nineteen years old. During the battle he is hit in the head with a club and we are told he carries a dent in his skull for the rest of his life. He later becomes a merchant and eventually a senator.
  • James Smith: One of the white Americans fighting under Dale’s command. Little is said about him, but he is mentioned to save Austill’s life by striking a Native American with his rifle.
  • Cæsar: A ‘negro man’ fighting under Dale’s command. While in the canoe, he controls it ‘skillfully’ and although his rifle is seized by a Native American the reader is told that all of Dale’s men survive.
  • Tar-cha-chee: A Native American ‘with whom Dale had hunted and lived, one whom he regarded as a friend, and whom he now wished to spare’. However, it is said that ‘the savage was strong within the Indian’s breast’ and Tar-cha-chee insists on fighting Dale, who regretfully kills him.
  • General John F. H. Claiborne: A man said to know Dale intimately and who describes him after his death. He describes Dale as similar to the Native Americans, both morally and physically, but ‘relieved, however, by a firm, benevolent Saxon eye’. He also describes him as ‘peculiar’ and does not have a high opinion of Native Americans.
  • Weatherford (Red Eagle): The commander of the Native Americans during the fight. Despite the fact that he and Dale were enemies, he later asks him to be his best man. It seems that at some point he renounces his native culture by taking on a new name (Weatherford) and holding a wedding more traditionally held by white Americans (during that time period).

General Characters:

  • Residents of Fort Madison: These are white Americans living in Alabama. They are left to handle the nearby Native Americans themselves as the government is tied up with the British (the story takes place in 1813, so it can be presumed that Eggleston is referring to the War of 1812). All the characters we meet from Fort Madison are described as brave and heroic.
  • Native Americans/Indians: Described as savages and war hungry. One flees during the fight, while another (Tar-Cha-Chee) dies needlessly. They are never described as growing food for themselves, instead living off the crops of the people of Fort Madison and later of Samuel Dale.

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