On the 14th of March 1810, John Simmons enlisted in Captain Whistler's Company, First Regiment, United States Infantry, afterward commanded by Captain Nathan Heald, and was assigned to duty at Fort Dearborn on the site of the city of Chicago.
Such was the [vulnerable] condition of Fort Dearborn on the seventh day of August, 1812, when Captain Heald received the order from Gen. Hull [to evacuate], who had reported to the war department on July 29th that he would send "at once." Why, therefore, Captain Heald faltered for seven days is a serious question. The inexplicable delay gave the Indians an opportunity to collect their warriors from the Pottawatomie villages in the vicinity.
When the attack was made, Corporal John Simmons, from his position near the great cottonwood known as the Massacre Tree, loaded and fired as rapidly as possible... . Finally covered with wounds he fell to rise no more.
No sooner had Mrs Simmons seen her husband fall...[when the enemy] struck his bloody weapon into the heads of every child within killing them instantly [including young David Simmons].
Mrs. Simmons discovered that the delight...of the [enemy] was much enhanced by tormenting their prisoners... . She therefore summoned all her marvelous fortitude to prevent any expression of the anguish which was crushing her great soul [and continued her stoicism during her entire captivity of eight months].