Chronicles of Border Warfare
When information of the hostile deportment of the Indians was carried to Williamsburg, Col. Charles Lewis sent a messenger with the intelligence to Capt. John Stuart, and requesting of him, to apprize the inhabitants on the Greenbrier river that an immediate war was anticipated, and to send out scouts to watch the warrior’s paths beyond the settlements. The vigilance and activity of Capt. Stuart were exerted with some success, to prevent he re-exhibition of those scenes which had been previously witnessed on Muddy creek and in the Big Levels; but they could not avail to repress them altogether.
In the course of the preceding spring, some few individuals had begun to make improvements on the Kenhawa river below the Great Falls; and some land adventurers, to examine and survey portions of the adjoining country. To these men Capt. Stuart dispatched an express, to inform them that apprehensions were entertained of immediate irruptions being made upon the frontiers by the Indians, and advising them to remove from the position which they then occupied; as from its exposed situation, without great vigilance and alertness, they must necessarily fall a prey to the savages. When the express arrived at the cabin of Walter Kelly, twelve miles below the falls, Capt. John Field of Culpepper (who had been in active service during the French war, and was then engaged in making surveys,) was there with a young Scotchman and a Negro woman. Kelly with great prudence, directly sent his family to Greenbrier, under the care of a younger brother. But Capt. Field, considering the apprehension as groundless, determined on remaining with Kelly, who from prudential motives did not wish to subject himself to observation by mingling with others.* Left with no persons but the Scotchman and Negro, they were not long permitted to doubt the reality of those dangers, of which they had been forewarned by Capt. Stuart.
Very soon after Kelly’s family had left the cabin, and while yet within hearing of it, a party of Indians approached, unperceived, near to Kelly and Field, who were engaged in drawing leather from a tan trough in the yard. The first intimation which Field had of their approach was the discharge of several guns and the fall of Kelly. He then ran briskly towards the house to get possession of a gun, but recollecting that it was unloaded, he changed his course, and sprang into a cornfield which screened him from observation of the Indians; who, supposing that he had taken shelter in the cabin, rushed immediately into it. Here they found the Scotchman and the Negro woman, the latter of whom they killed; and making prisoner of the young man, returned and scalped Kelly.
When Kelly’s family reached the Greenbrier settlement, they mentioned their fears for the fate of those whom they had left on the Kenhawa, not doubting but that the guns which they heard soon after leaving the house, had been discharged at them by Indians. Capt. Stuart, with a promptitude which must ever command admiration, exerted himself effectually to raise a volunteer corps, and proceed to the scene of action, with the view of ascertaining whether the Indians had been there; and if they had, and he could meet with them, to endeavor to punish them for the outrage, and thus prevent the repetition of similar deeds of violence.
They had not however gone far, before they were met by Capt. Field, whose appearance of itself fully told the tale of woe. He had ran upwards of eighty miles, naked except his shirt, and without food; his body nearly exhausted by fatigue, anxiety and hunger, and his limbs grievously lacerated with briers and brush. Captain Stuart, fearing lest the success of the Indians might induce them to push immediately for the settlements, thought proper to return and prepare for that event.
In a few weeks after this another party of Indians came to the settlement on Muddy creek, and as if a certain fatality attended the Kelly’s, they alone fell victims to the incursion. As the daughter of Walter Kelly was walking with her uncle (who had conducted the family from the Kenhawa) some distance from the house, which had been converted into a temporary fort, and in which they lived, they were discovered and fired upon; the latter was
* He is said to have committed some offence, in the upper part of South Carolina, which rendered him obnoxious to the laws of that colony, and to evade the punishment for which, he had fled to the wilderness and taken up his abode in it..
killed and scalped, and the former being overtaken in her flight, was carried into captivity.
After the murder of Brown, and taking of Hellen and Robinson, the inhabitants on the Monongahela and its upper branches, alarmed for their safety, retired into forts. But in the ensuing September, as Josiah Pricket and Mrs. Susan Ox, who had left Pricket’s fort for the purpose of driving up their cows, were returning in the evening they were waylaid by a party of Indians, who had been drawn to the path by the tinkling of the cowbell. Pricket was killed and scalped, and Mrs. Ox taken prisoner.
It was in the course of this season, that Lewis Wetsel first gave promise of that daring and discretion, which were so fully developed in his maturer years, and which rendered him among the most fortunate and successful of Indian combatants. When about fourteen years old, he and his brother, Jacob, (still younger) were discovered some distance from the house, by a party of Indians, who had been prowling through the settlements on the Ohio river, with the expectation of fortunately meeting some opportunity of taking scalps or making prisoners. As the boys were at some distance from them, and in a situation too open to admit of their being approached without perceiving those who should advance towards them, the Indians determined on shooting the larger one, lest his greater activity might enable him to escape. A shot was accordingly discharged at him, which, partially taking effect and removing a portion of his breast bone, so far deprived him of his wanted powers, that he was easily overtaken; and both he and his brother were made prisoners. The Indians immediately directed their steps towards their towns, and having traveled about twenty miles beyond the Ohio river, encamped at the big Lick, on the waters of McMahon’s creek, on the second night after they had set off. When they had finished eating the Indians laid down, without confining the boys as on the preceding night, and soon fell to sleep. After making some little movements to test the soundness of their repose, Lewis whispered to his brother that he must get up and ho home with him; and after some hesitation on the part of Jacob, they arose and set off. Upon getting about 100 yards from camp, Lewis stopped, and telling his brother to wait there, returned to the camp and brought from thence a pair of moccasins for each of them. He then observed, that he would again go back and get his father’s gun; this he soon effected, and they then commenced their journey home. The moon shining brightly, they were easily able to distinguish the trail which they had made in going out; but had not however pursued it far before they heard the Indians coming in pursuit of them. So soon as Lewis perceived by the sound of their voices that they were approaching tolerably near to them, he led his brother aside from the path, and squatting down, concealed themselves ‘till their pursuers had passed them; when they again commenced traveling and in the rear of the Indians. Not overtaking the boys as soon as was expected, those who had been sent after them, began to retrace their steps. Expecting this, the boys were watchful of every noise or object before them, and when they heard the Indians returning, again secreted themselves in the bushes and escaped observation. They were then followed by two, of the party who had made them prisoners, on horseback; but by practising the same stratagem, they eluded them also; and on the next day reached the Ohio river opposite to Wheeling. Apprehensive that it would be dangerous to apprize those on the opposite side of the river of their situation, by hallooing, Lewis set himself to work as silently, and yet as expeditiously as possible, and with the aid of his little brother, soon completed a raft on which they safely crossed the Ohio; and made their way home.
That persons, should by going out from the forts, when the Indians were so generally watching around them, expose themselves to captivity or death, may at first appear strange and astonishing. But when the mind reflects on the tedious and irksome confinement, which they were compelled to undergo; the absence of the comforts, and frequently of the necessaries of life, coupled with an overweening attachment to the enjoyment of forest scenes and forest pastimes, it will perhaps be matter of greater astonishment that they did not more frequently forego the security of a fortress, for the uncertain enjoyment of those comforts and necessaries, and the doubtful gratification of this attachment. Accustomed as they had been "free to come and free to go," they could not brook the restraint under which they were placed; and rather than chafe and pine in unwilling confinement, would put themselves at hazard, that they might revel at large and wanton in the wilderness. Deriving their sustenance chiefly from the woods, the strong arm of necessity led many to tempt the perils which environed them; while to the more chivalric and adventurous "the danger’s self were lure alone." The quiet and stillness which reigned around, even when the enemy were lurking nearest and in greater numbers, inspired many too, with the delusive hope of exemption from risk, not unfrequently the harbinger of fatal consequences. It seemed indeed, im-practicable at first to realize the existence of a danger, which could not be perceived. And not until taught by reiterated suffering did they properly appreciate the perilous situation of those, who ventured beyond the walls of their forts. But this state of things was of short duration. The preparations, which were necessary to be made for the projected campaign into the Indian country, were completed; and to resist this threatened invasion, required the concentrated exertions of all their warriors.
The army destined for this expedition, was composed of volunteers and militia, chiefly from the counties west of the Blue ridge, and consisted of two divisions. The northern division, comprehending the, collected in Frederick, Danmore," and the adjacent counties, was to be commanded by Lord Dunmore, in person; and the southern, comprising the different companies raised in Botetourt, Augusta and the adjoining counties east of the Blue ridge, was to be led on by Gen. Andrew Lewis. These two divisions, proceeding by different routes, were to form a junction at the mouth of the big Kenhawa, and from thence to penetrate the country north west of the Ohio river, as far as the season would admit of their going; and destroy all the Indian towns and villages which they could reach.
About the first of September, the troops placed under the command of General Lewis rendezvoused at Camp Union (now Lewisburg) and consisted of two regiments, commanded by Col. William Fleming of Botetout and Col. Charles Lewis of Augusta, and containing about four hundred men each. At Camp Union they were joined by an independent volunteer company under Col. John Field of Culpepper; a company from Bedford under Capt. Buford and two from the Holstein settlement (now Washington county) under Caps. Evan Shelby and Harbert. These three latter companies were part of the forces to be led on by Col. Christian, who was likewise to join the two main divisions of the army at Point Pleasant, so soon as the other companies of this regiment could be assembled. The force under Gen. Lewis, having been thus augmented to eleven hundred men, commenced its march for the mouth of Kenhawa on the 11th of September 1774.
From Camp Union to the point proposed for the junction of the northern and southern divisions of the army, a distance of one hundred and sixty miles, the intermediate country was a trackless forest, so rugged and mountainous as to render the progress of the army, as once, tedious and laborious. Under the guidance of Capt. Matthew Arbuckle, they however, succeeded in reaching the Ohio river after a march of nineteen days; and fixed their encampment on the point of land immediately between that river and the Big Kenhawa. The provisions and ammunition, transported on packhorses, and the beeves in droves, arrived soon after.
When the army was preparing to leave Camp Union, there was for a while some reluctance manifested on the part of Col. Field to submit to the command of Gen. Lewis. This proceeded from the fact, that in a former military service, he had been the senior of Gen. Lewis; and from the circumstance that the company led on by him were Independent Volunteers, not raised in pursuance of the orders of Governor Dunmore, but brought into the field by his own exertions, after his escape from the Indians at Kelly’s. These circumstances induced him to separate his men from the main body of the army on its march, and to take a different way from the one pursued by it, -- depending on his own knowledge of the country to lead them a practicable route tot he river.
While thus detached from the forces under Gen. Lewis, two of his men (Clay and Coward) who were out hunting and at some little distance from each other, came near to where two Indians were concealed. Seeing ----
Clay only, and supposing him to be alone, one
* Now Shenandoah.
of them fired at him; and running up to scalp him as he fell, was himself shot by Coward, who was then about 100 yards off. The other Indian ran off unarmed, and made his escape. A bundle of ropes found where Clay was killed, induced the belief that it was the object of these Indians to steal horses; -- it is not however improbable, that they had been observing the progress of the army, and endeavoring to ascertain its numbers. Col. Field, fearing that he might encounter a party of the enemy in ambush, redoubled his vigilance ‘till he again joined General Lewis; and the utmost concert and harmony then prevailed in the whole army.
When the Southern division arrived at Point Pleasant, Governor Dunmore with the forces under his command, had not reached there; and unable to account for his failure to form the preconcerted junction at that place, it was deemed advisable to await that event; as by so doing, a better opportunity would be afforded to Col. Christian of coming up, with that portion of the army, which was then with him. Meanwhile General Lewis, to learn the cause of the delay of the Northern division, despatched runners by land, in the direction of Fort Pitt, to obtain tidings of Lord Dunmore, and to communicate them to him immediately. In their absence, however, advices were received from his Lordship, that he had determined on proceeding across the country, directly to the Shawanee towns; and ordering General Lewis to cross the river, march forward and form a junction with him, near to them. These advises were received on the 9th of October, and preparations were immediately begun to be made for the transportation of the troops over the Ohio river.
Early on the morning of Monday the tenth of that month, two soldiers left the camp, and proceeded up the Ohio river, in quest of deer. When they had progressed about two miles, they unexpectedly came in sight of a large number of Indians, rising from their encampment, and who discovering the two hunters fired upon them and killed one; -- the other escaped unhurt, and running briskly to the camp, communicated the intelligence, "that he had seen a body of the enemy, covering four acres of ground as closely as they could stand by the side of each other." The main part of the army was immediately ordered out under Colonels Charles Lewis, * and William Fleming; and having formed into two lines they proceeded about four hundred yards, when they met the Indians and the action commenced.
At the first onset, Colonel Charles Lewis having fallen, and Colonel Fleming being wounded, both lines gave way and were retreating briskly towards the camp, when they were met by a reinforcement under Colonel Field, * * and rallied.
The engagement then became general, and was sustained with the most obstinate fury on both sides. The Indians perceiving that the "tug of war" had come, and determined on affording the Colonial army no chance of escape, if victory should declare for them, formed a line extending across the point, from the Ohio to the Kenhawa, and protected in front, by logs of fallen timber. In this situation they maintained the contest with unabated vigor, from sunrise ‘till towards the close of evening; bravely and successfully resisting every charge which was made on them; and withstanding the impetuosity of every onset, with the most invincible firmness, until a fortunate movement on the part of the Virginia troops, decided the day.
* Few officers were ever more, or more deservedly, endeared to those under their command than Col. Charles Lewis. In the many skirmishes, which it was his fortune to have, with the Indians he was uncommonly successful; and in the various scenes of life, thru which he passed, his conduct was invariably marked by the distinguishing characteristicks of a mind, of no ordinary stamp. His early fall on this bloody field, was severely felt during the whole engagement; and to it has been attributed the partial advantages gained by the Indian army near the commencement of the action. When the fatal ball struck him, he fell at the root of a tree; from whence he was carried to his tent, against his wish by Capt. Wm. Morrow and a Mr. Bailey of Captain Paul’s company, and died in a few hours afterwards. In remembrance of his great worth, the legislature named the county of Lewis after him.
** An active, enterprising and meritorious officer, who had been in service in Braddock’s war, and profited by his experience of the Indian mode of fighting. His death checked for a time the ardor of his troops and spread a gloom over the countenances of those, who had accompanied him on this campaign.
Some short distance above the entrance of the Kenhawa river into Ohio, there is a stream, called Crooked creek, emptying in to the former of these, from the North east, whose banks are tolerably high, and were then covered with a thick and luxuriant growth of weeds. Seeing the impracticability of dislodging the Indians, by the most vigorous attach, and sensible of the great danger, which must arise to his army, if the contest were not decided before night, General Lewis detached the three companies which were commanded by Captains Isaac Shelby, George Matthews, and John Stuart, with orders to proceed up the Kenhawa river, and Crooked creek under cover of the banks and weeds, ‘till they should pass some distance beyond the enemy; when they were to emerge from their covert, march downward towards the point and attack the Indians from their rear. The maneuver thus planned, was promptly executed, and gave a decided victory to the Colonial army. The Indians finding themselves suddenly and unexpectedly encompassed between two armies, and no doubting but that in their rear, was the looked for reinforcement under Colonel Christian, soon gave way, and about sundown, commenced a precipitate retreat across the Ohio, to their towns on the Scioto.
Some short time after the battle had ended, Colonel Christian arrived with the troops which he had collected in the settlements on the Holstein, and relieved the anxiety of many who were disposed to believe the retreat of the Indians to be only a feint; and that an attach would be again speedily made by them, strengthened and reinforced by those of the enemy who had been observed during the engagement, on the opposite side of the Ohio and Kenhawa rivers. But these had been most probably stationed there, in anticipation of victory, to prevent the Virginia troops from effecting a retreat across those rivers, (the only possible chance of escape, had they been overpowered by the enemy in their front;) and the loss sustained by the Indians was too great, and the prospect of a better fortune, too gloomy and unpromising, for them to enter again into an engagement. Dispirited by the bloody repulse with which they had met, they hastened to their towns, better disposed to purchase security from farther hostilities by negotiation, than risk another battle with an army whose strength and prowess, they had already tested; and found superior to their own. The victory indeed, was decisive, and many advantages were obtained by it; but they were not cheaply bought. The Virginia army sustained, in this engagement, a loss of seventy-five killed, and one hundred and forty wounded. – about one fifth of the entire number of the troops.
Among the slain were Colonels Lewis and Field; Captains Buford, Morrow, Wood Candiff, Wilson and Robert McClannahan; and Lieutenants, Allen, Goldsby and Dillon, with some other subalterns. The loss of the enemy could not be ascertained. On the morning after the action, Colonel Christian marched his men over the battle ground and found twenty-one Indians lying dead; and twelve others were afterwards discovered, where they had been attempted to be concealed under some old logs and brush.
From the great facility with which the Indians either carry off or conceal their dead, it is always difficult to ascertain the number of their slain; and hence arises, in some measure the disparity between their known loss and that sustained by their opponents in battle. Other reasons for this disparity, are to be found in their peculiar mode of warfare, and in the fact that they rarely continue a contest, when it has to be maintained with the loss of their warriors. It would not be easy otherwise to account for the circumstance, that even when signally vanquished, the list of their slain does not, frequently, appear more than half as great, as that of the victors. In this particular instance, many of the dead were certainly thrown into the river.
Nor could the number of the enemy engaged, be ever ascertained. Their army is known to have been composed of warriors from the different nations, north of the Ohio; and to have comprised the flower of the Shawanee, Delaware, Mingo, Wyandotte and Cayuga tribes; led on by men, whose names were not unknown to fame, * and at the head of whom was Cornstalk, Sachem of the Shawanees, and King of the Northern confederacy,
* Such were Redhawk, a Delaware chief, --Scopathus, a Mingo, -- Eilinipsieo, a Shawanee, and son to Cornstalk, -- Chiyawee, a Wyandotte, and Logan a Cayuga.
This distinguished chief and consummate warrior, proved himself on that day, to be justly entitled to the prominent station which he occupied. His plan of alternate retreat and attack, was well conceived, and occasioned the principal loss sustained by the whites. If at any time his warriors were believed to waver, his voice could be heard above the din of arms, exclaiming in his native tongue, "Be strong! Be strong;" and when one near him, by trepidation and reluctance to proceed to the charge, evinced a dastardly disposition, fearing the example might have a pernicious influence, with one blow of the tomahawk he severed his skull. It was perhaps a solitary instance in which terror predominated. Never did men exhibit a more conclusive evidence of bravery, on making a charge, and fortitude in withstanding on onset, than did these undisciplined soldiers of the forest, in the field at Point Pleasant. Such too was the good conduct of those who composed the army of Virginia, on that occasion; and such the noble bravery of many, that high expectations were entertained of their future distinction. Nor were those expectations disappointed. In the various scenes through which they subsequently passed, the pledge of after eminence then given, was fully redeemed; and the names of Shelby, Campbell, Matthews, Fleming, Moore, and others their compatriots in arms on the memorable tenth of October, 1774, have been inscribed in brilliant characters on the roll of fame. *
Having buried the dead, and made every arrangement of which their situation admitted, for the comfort of the wounded, entrenchments were thrown up, and the army commenced its march to form a junction with the northern division, under Lord Dunmore. Proceeding by the was of the Salt Licks, General Lewis pressed forward with astonishing rapidity (considering that the march was through a trackless desert;) but before he had gone far, an express arrived from Dunmore, with orders to return immediately to the mouth of the Big Kenhawa. Suspecting the integrity of his Lordships, motives, and urged by the advice of his officers generally, General Lewis refused to obey these orders; and continued to advance ‘till he was met, (at Kilkenny creek, and in sight of an Indian village, which its inhabitants had just fired and deserted,) by the Governor, (accompanied by White Eyes,) who informed him that he was negotiating a treaty of peach which would supersede the necessity of the further movement of his Southern division, and repeating the order for its retreat.
The army under General Lewis had endured many privations and suffered many hardships. They had encountered a savage enemy in great force, and purchased a victory with the blood of their friends. When arrived near to the goal of their anxious wishes, and with nothing to prevent the accomplishment of the objective of the campaign; they received those orders with evident chagrin; and did not obey them without murmuring. Having, at his own request, been introduced severally to the officers of that division; complementing them for their gallantry and good conduct in the late engagement, and assuring them of his high esteem, Lord Dunmore returned to his camp; and General Lewis commenced his retreat.
If before the opening of this campaign, the belief was prevalent, that to the conduct of emissaries from Great Britain, because of the contest then waging between her and her American colonies, the Indian depredations of that year, were mainly attributable; that belief had become more general, and had received
* The following gentlemen, with others of high reputation in private life, were officers in the battle at Point Pleasant. Gen. Isaac Shelby, the first governor of Kentucky, and afterwards, secretary of war; -- Gen. William Campbell and Col. John Campbell, heroes of King’s mountain and Long Island; -- Gen. Evan Shelby, one of the most favored citizens of Tennessee, often honored with the confidence of that state; -- Col. William Fleming an active governor of Virginia during the Revolutionary war; -- General Andrew Moore of Rockbridge, the only man ever elected by Virginia, from the country west of the Blue ridge, to the senate of the United States; -- Col. John Stuart, of Greenbrier; -- Gen. Tate, of Washington county, Virginia; -- Col. William McKee, of Lincoln county, Kentucky; -- Col. John Steele, since a governor of Mississippi territory; -- Col. Charles Cameron, of Bath; -- Gen. Bazaleel Wells, of Ohio; and Gen. George Matthews, a distinguished officer in the war of the revolution, the hero of Brandywine, Germantown, and of Guilford; -- a governor of Georgia, and a senator from that state in the congress of the United States. The salvation of the American army at Germantown is ascribed, in Johnstone’s life of Gen. Green, to the bravery and good conduct of two regiments, one of which was commanded by General, then Col. Matthews.
strong confirmation, from the more portentous aspect which that contest had assumed, prior to the battle at Point Pleasant. The destruction of the tea at Boston Port Bill, the signal for actual conflict between the colonies and mother country, had been received early in May. The house of Burgesses in Virginia, being in session at the time, recommended that the first of June, the day on which that bill was to go into operation, be observed throughout the colony "as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, imploring the divine interposition to avert the heavy calamity which threatened destruction to their civil rights, and the evils of a civil war." In consequence of this recommendation and its accompanying resolutions, the Governor had dissolved the Assembly, -- The Legislature of Massachusetts had likewise passed declaratory resolutions, expressive of their sense of the state of public affairs and the designs of Parliament; and which led to their dissolution also. The committee of correspondence at Boston, had framed and promulgated an agreement, which induced Governor Gage, to issue a proclamation, denouncing it as "an unlawful, hostile and traitorous combination, contrary to the allegiance due to the King, destructive of the legal authority of Parliament, and of the peace, good order. and safety of the community;" and requiring of the magistrates to apprehend and bring to trial, all such as should be in any wise guilty of them. A congress, composed of delegates from the different colonies, and convened for the purpose "of uniting and guiding the councils, and directing the efforts of North America," had opened its session on the 4th of September. In fine, the various elements of that tempest, which soon after overspread the thirteen united colonies, had been already developed, and were rapidly concentrating, before the orders for the retreat of the Southern division of the army, were issued by Lord Dunmore. How far these were dictated by a spirit of hostility to the cause of the colonies, and of subservience to the interests of Great Britain, in the approaching contest may be inferred from his conduct during the whole campaign" and the course pursued by him, on his return to the seat of government. If indeed there existed (as has been supposed,) between the Indians and the Governor from the time of his arrival with the Northern Division of the arm at Fort Pitt, a secret and friendly understanding, looking to the almost certain result of the commotions which were agitating America, then was the battle at Point Pleasant, virtually the first in the series of those brilliant achievements which burst the bonds of British tyranny; and the blood of Virginia, there nobly shed, was the first blood spilled in the sacred cause of American liberty.
It has been already seen that Lord Dunmore failed to form a junction with General Lewis, at the mouth of the Great Kenhawa, agreeably to the plan for the campaign, as concerted at Williamsburg by the commanding officer of each division. No reason for changing the direction of his march, appears to have been assigned by him; and others were left to infer his motives, altogether from circumstances.
While at Fort Pitt Lord Dunmore was joined by the notorious Simon Girty, who accompanied him from thence ‘till the close of the expedition. The subsequent conduct of this man, his attachment to the side of Great Britain in her attempts to fasten the yoke of slavery upon the necks of the American people, -- his withdrawal from the garrison at Fort Pitt while commissioners were there for the purpose of concluding a treaty with the Indians, as was stipulated in the agreement made with them by Dunmore,--the exerting of his influence over them, to prevent the chiefs from attending there, and to win them to the cause of England,--his ultimate joining the savages in the war which )very much from his instigation,) they waged against the border settlements, soon after,--the horrid cruelties, and fiendish tortures inflicted on unfortunate white captives by his orders and connivance;--all combined to form an exact counterpart to the subsequent conduct of Lord Dunmore when exciting the Negroes to join the British standard;--plundering the property of those who were attached to the cause of liberty,--and applying the brand of conflagration to the most flourishing town in Virginia.
At Wheeling, as they were descending the river, the army delayed some days’ and while proceeding from thence to form a junction with the division under general Lewis, was joined, near the mouth of the Little Kenhawa, by the noted John Connoly, of great fame as a Tory.
Of this man, Lord Dunmore thence forward became an intimate associate; and while encamped at the mouth of Hock Hocking—seemed to make him his confidential adviser. It was here too, only seventy miles distant from the head quarters of General Lewis, that it was determined to leave the boats and canoes and proceed by land to the Chilicothe towns.
The messengers, despatched by Lord Dunmore to apprize the lower army of this change of determination, were Indian traders; one of whom being asked, if he supposed the Indians would venture to give battle to the superior force of the whites, replied that they certainly would, and that Lewis’ division would soon see his prediction verified. This was on the day previous to the engagement. On the return of these men, on the evening of the same day, they must have seen the Indian army which made the attack on the next morning; and the belief was general on the day of battle, that they had communicated to the Indians, the present strength and expected reinforcement of the southern division. It has also been said that on the evening of the 10th of October, while Dunmore, Connoly and one or two others were walking together, his Lordship remarked, "by this time General Lewis has warm work."
The acquaintance formed by the Governor with Connoly, in the ensuing summer was further continued and at length ripened into one of the most iniquitous conspiracies, that ever disgraced civilized man.
In July 1775, Connoly presented himself to Lord Dunmore with proposals, well calculated to gain favor of the exasperated Governor, and between them a plan was soon formed, which seemed to promise the most certain success. Assurances of ample rewards from Lord Dunmore, were transmitted to such officers of the militia on the frontiers of Virginia, as were believed to be friendly to the royal cause, on putting themselves under the command of Connoly; whose influence with the Indians, was to ensure their cooperation against the friends of America. To perfect this scheme, it was necessary to communicate with General Gage; and about the middle of September, Connoly, with despatches from Dunmore, set off for Boston, and in the course of a few weeks returned, with instructions from the Governor of Massachusetts, which developed their whole plan. Connoly was invested with the rank of Colonel of a regiment, (to be raised among those on the frontiers, who favored the cause of Great Britain,) with which he was to proceed forthwith to Detroit, where he was to receive a considerable reinforcement, and be supplied with cannon, muskets and ammunition. He was then to visit the different Indian nations, enlist them in the projected enterprise, and rendezvous his whole force at Fort Pitt. From thence he was to cross the Allegheny mountain, and marching through Virginia join Lord Dunmore, on the 20th of the ensuing April, at Alexandria.
This scheme, (the execution of which would at once, have laid waste a considerable portion of Virginia, and ultimately perhaps, nearly the whole state,) was frustrated by the taking of Connoly, and all the particulars of it, made known. This development, served to shew the villainous connection existing between Dunmore and Connoly, and to corroborate the suspicion of General Lewis and many of his officers, that the conduct of the former, during the campaign of 1774, was dictated by any thing else, than the interest and well being of the colony of Virginia.
This suspicion was farther strengthened, by the readiness with which Lord Dunmore embraced the overtures of peace and the terms on which a treaty was concluded with them; while the encamping of his army, without entrenchments, in the heard of the Indian country, and in the immediate adjacency of the combined forces of the Indian nations of Ohio, would indicate, that there must have been a friendly understanding between him and them. To have relied solely on the bravery and good conduct of his troops, would have been the height of imprudence. His army was less that that which had been scarcely delivered from the fury of a body of savages inferior in number, to the one with which he would have had to contend; and it would have been folly in him to suppose, that he could achieve with a smaller force, what required the utmost exertions of General Lewis and his brave officers, to effect with a greater one.
When the Northern division of the army resumed its march for Chilicothe, it left the greater part of its provisions in a block house which had been erected during its stay at the mouth of the Hockhocking, under the care of Captain Froman with a small party of troops to garrison it. On the third day after it left Fort Gore (the block house at the mouth of Hockhocking) a White man by the name of Elliot came to Governor Dunmore, with a request from the Indians that he would withdraw the army from their country, and appoint commissioners to meet their chiefs at Pittsburg to confer about the terms of a treaty. To this request a reply was given, that the Governor was well inclined to make peace, and was willing that hostilities should cease; but as he was then so near their towns, and all the chiefs of the different nations were at that time with the army, it would be more convenient to negotiate then, than at a future period. He then named a place at which he would encamp, and listen to their proposals; and immediately despatched a courier to General Lewis with orders for his return.
The Indian spies reporting that General Lewis had disregarded those orders, and was still marching rapidly towards their towns, the Indians became apprehensive of the result; and one of their chiefs (the White Eyes) waited on Lord Dunmore in person, and complained that the "Long Knives" were coming upon them and would destroy all their towns. Dunmore then, in company with White Eyes, visited the camp of General Lewis, and prevailed with him, as we have seen, to return across the Ohio.
In a few days after this, the Northern division of the army approached within eight miles of Chillicothe, and encamped on the plain, at the place appointed for the chiefs to meet without entrenchments of breast works, or any protection, save the vigilance of the sentinels and the bravery of the troops. On the third day from the halting of the army eight chiefs, with Cornstalk at their head, came into camp; and when the interpreters made known who Cornstalk was, Lord Dunmore addressed them, and from a written memorandum recited the various infractions, on the part of the Indians, of former treaties, and different murders, unprovokedly committed by them. To all this Cornstalk replied, mixing a good deal of recrimination with the defense of his red brethren; and when he had concluded, a time was specified when the chiefs of the different nations should come in, and proceed to the negotiation of a treaty.
Before the arrival of that period, Cornstalk came alone to the camp, and acquainted the Governor that none of the Mingoes would attend; and that he was apprehensive there could not a full council be convened. Dunmore then requested that he would convoke as many chiefs of the other nations as he could, and bring them tot he council fire without delay, as he was anxious to close the war at once; and that if this could not be effected peaceably, he should be forced to resume hostilities. Meantime two interpreters were despatched to Logan, by Lord Dunmore, requesting his attendance; -- but Logan replied that "he was a warrior, not a councilor, and would not come". *
On the night after the return of the interpreters to camp Charlotte (the name of Dunmore’s encampment,) Major William Crawford, with three hundred men, left the main army about midnight on an excursion against a small Mingo village, not far off. Arriving there before day, the detachment surrounded the town; and on the first coming out of the Indians from their huts, there was some little firing on the part of the whites, by which one squaw and a man were killed – the others, about 20 in number were all made prisoner and taken to the camp; where they remained until the conclusion of a treaty. Everything about the village, indicated an intention of their speedily deserting it.
Shortly after Cornstalk and two other chiefs, made their appearance at camp
* Colonel Benjamin Wilson, Sen. (then an officer in Dunmore’s army, and whose narrative of the campaign furnished the facts which are here detailed) says that he conversed freely with one of the interpreters (Nicholson) in regard to the mission to Logan, and that neither from the interpreter, not any other one during the campaign, did he hear of the charge preferred in Login’s speech against Captain Cresap, as being engaged in the affair at Yellow creek.—Captain Cresap was an officer in the division of the army under Lord Dunmore; and it would seem strange indeed, if Logan’s speech had been made public, at camp Charlotte, and neither he, (who was so materially interested in it, and could at once have proved the falsehood of the allegation which it contained,) nor Colonel Wilson, (who was present during the whole conference between Lord Dunmore and the Indian chiefs, and at the time when the speeches were delivered sat immediately behind and close to Dunmore,) should have heard nothing of it until years after.
Charlotte, and entered into a negotiation which soon terminated in an agreement to forbear all farther hostilities against each other, -- to give up the prisoners then held by them, and to attend at Pittsburgh, with as many of the Indian chiefs as could be prevailed on to meet the commissioners from Virginia, in the ensuing summer, where a treaty was to be concluded and ratified—Dunmore requiring hostages, to guarantee the performance of those stipulations, on the part of the Indians.
If in the battle at Point Pleasant, Cornstalk manifested the bravery and generalship of a mighty captain; in the negotiations at camp Charlotte, he displayed the skill of a statesman, joined to powers of oratory, rarely, if ever surpassed. With the most patriotic devotion to his country, and in a strain of most commanding eloquence, he recapitulated the accumulated wrongs, which had oppressed their fathers, and which were oppressing them. Sketching in lively colours, the once happy and powerful condition of the Indians, he placed in striking contrast, their present fallen fortunes and unhappy destiny. Exclaiming against the perfidiousness of the whites, and the dishonesty of the traders, he proposed as the basis of a treaty, that no persons should be permitted to carry on a commerce with the Natives, for individual profit; but that their white brother should send them such articles as they needed, by the hands of honest men, who were to exchange them at a fair price, for their skins and furs; and that no spirit of any kind should be sent among them, as from the "fire water" of the whites, proceeded evil to the Indians. *
This truly great man, is said to have been opposed to the war from its commencement; and to have proposed on the eve of the battle at Point Pleasant, to send in a flag, and make overtures for peace; but this proposal was overruled by the general voice of the chiefs. When a council was first held after the defeat of the Indians, Cornstalk, reminding them of their late ill success, and that the Long Knives were still pressing on them, asked what should be then done. But no one answered. Rising again, he proposed that the women and children should be all killed; and that the warriors should go out and fight, until they too were slain. Still no one answered. Then, said he, striking his tomahawk into the council post, "I will go and make peace." This was done, and the war of 1774 concluded.