Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Cumberland Dragon


The following weird blurb was posted in the Caledonian Mercury on December 4, 1794:

In February last, a detachment of mounted infantry, commanded by Captain John Beard, penetrated fifteen miles into the Cumberland mountain.

On Cove Creek, Ensign McDonald and another man, in advance of the party as spies, discovered a creature about three steps from them; it had only two legs, and stood almost upright, covered with scales of a black, brown, and a light yellow colour in spots like rings, a white tuft or crown on the top of its head, about four feet high, a head as big as a two pound stone, and large eyes of a fiery red.

It stood about three minutes in a daring posture (orders being given not to fire a gun except at the Indians.) Mr. McDonald advanced, and struck at it with his sword, when it jumped at least eight feet, and lit on the same spot of ground, sending forth a red kind of matter out of its mouth, resembling blood, and then retreated into a laurel thicket, turning round often as if it intended to fight.

The tracks of it resembled that of a goose, but larger.

The Indians report that a creature inhabits that part of the mountain of the above description, which, by its breath, will kill a man, if he does not instantly immerse himself in water.

An earlier description of the same incident was found in the Gazette of Hampshire, Maine on September 23, 1794:

Curious Animal

In February last, a detachment of mounted infantry, commanded by Captain John Beaird, penetrated fifteen miles into the Cumberland Mountain: On Cove Creek, ensign M'Donald and another man, in advance of the party as spies, they discovered a creature about three steps from them: it had only two legs, and stood almost upright, covered with scales, of a black, brown, and a light yellow colour, in spots like rings, a white tuft or crown on the top of its head, about four feet high, a head as big as a two pound stone, and large eyes of a fiery red. It stood about three minutes in a daring posture (orders being given not to fire a gun except at Indians,) Mr. M'Donald advanced and struck at it with his sword, when it jumped up, at least eight feet, and lit on the same spot of ground, sending forth a red kind of matter out of its mouth resembling blood, and then retreated into a laurel thicket turning round often, as if it intended to fight. The tracks of it resembled that of a goose, but larger. The Indians report, that a creature inhabits that part of the mountain, of the above description, which, by its breath, will kill a man, if he does not instantly immerse himself in water.

Eventually, the name given to this beast was Goosefoot or the Cumberland Dragon. Looking at this incident historically, the details surrounding the event appear factual. Captain John Beaird was a known personage in that region, infamous for an attack on Cherokee and Federal agents in an attempt to force a war. Cove Creek is still on the maps in Tennessee. If the Cherokee in that region had similar stories passed along to them through the generations, I'd like to read the accounts.

Appalachia: A History

Cryptozoology Anthology: Strange and Mysterious Creatures in Men's Adventure Magazines

Monsters of West Virginia: Mysterious Creatures in the Mountain State

Cherokee Animal Tales


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