Chronicles of Border Warfare
by Alexander Scott Withers
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Previous to this an attempt had been made by David Tygart and a Mr. Files to establish themselves on an upper branch of the Monongahela river.[14] They had been for some time frontier's men, and were familiar with the scenes usually exhibited on remote and unprotected borders; and nothing daunted by the cruel murders and savage enormities, which they had previously witnessed, were induced by some cause, most probably the uninterrupted enjoyment of the forest in the pursuit of game, to venture still farther into the wilderness. About the year 1754 these two men with their families arrived on the east fork of the Monongahela, and after examining the country, selected positions for their future residence. Files chose a spot on the river, at the mouth of a creek which still bears his name, where Beverly, the county seat of Randolph has been since established. Tygart settled a few miles farther up and also on the river. The valley in which they had thus taken up their abode, has been since called Tygart's [59] valley, and the east fork of the Monongahela, Tygart's-valley river.

The difficulty of procuring bread stuffs for their families, their contiguity to an Indian village, and the fact that an Indian war path passed near their dwellings, soon determined them to retrace their steps.[15] Before they carried this determination into effect, the family of Files became the victims of savage cruelty. At a time when all the family were at their cabin, except an elder son, they were discovered by a party of Indians, supposed to be returning from the South Branch, who inhumanly butchered them all.[16] Young Files being not far from the house and hearing the uproar, approached until he saw, too distinctly, the deeds of death which were doing; and feeling the utter impossibility of affording relief to his own, resolved if he could, to effect the safety of Tygart's family. This was done and the country abandoned by them.

Not long after this, Doctor Thomas Eckarly and his two brothers came from Pennsylvania and camped at the mouth of a creek, emptying into the Monongahela, 8 or 10 miles below Morgantown; they were Dunkards, and from that circumstance, the watercourse on which they fixed themselves for a while, has been called Dunkard's creek. While their camp continued at this place, these men were engaged in exploring the country; and ultimately settled on Cheat river, at the Dunkard bottom. Here they erected a cabin for their dwelling, and made such improvements as enabled them to raise the first year, a crop of corn sufficient for their use, and some culinary vegetables: their guns supplied them with an abundance of meat, of a flavor as delicious as the refined palate of a modern epicure could well wish. Their clothes were made chiefly of the skins of animals, and were easily procured: and although calculated to give a grotesque appearance to a fine gentleman in a city drawing room; yet were they particularly suited to their situation, and afforded them comfort.

Here they spent some years entirely unmolested by the Indians, although a destructive war was then raging, and prosecuted with cruelty, along the whole extent of our frontier. At length to obtain an additional supply of ammunition, salt and shirting, Doctor Eckarly left Cheat, with a pack of furs and skins, to visit a trading post on the Shenandoah. On his return, he stopped at Fort Pleasant, on the South Branch; and having communicated to its inhabitants the place of his residence, and the length of time he had been living there, he was charged with being in confederacy with the Indians, and probably at that instant a spy, examining the condition of the fort. In vain the Doctor protested his innocence and the fact that he had not even seen an Indian in the country; the suffering condition [59] of the border settlements, rendered his account, in their opinion improbable, and he was put in confinement.

The society, of which Doctor Eckarly was a member, was rather obnoxious to a number of the frontier inhabitants. Their intimacy with the Indians, although cultivated with the most laudable motives, and for noble purposes, yet made them objects at least of distrust to many. Laboring under these disadvantages, it was with difficulty that Doctor Eckarly prevailed on the officer of the fort to release him; and when this was done he was only permitted to go home under certain conditions—he was to be escorted by a guard of armed men, who were to carry him back if any discovery were made prejudicial to him. Upon their arrival at Cheat, the truth of his statement was awfully confirmed. The first spectacle which presented itself to their view, when the party came within sight of where the cabin had been, was a heap of ashes. On approaching the ruins, the half decayed, and mutilated bodies of the poor Dunkards, were seen in the yard; the hoops, on which their scalps had been dried, were there, and the ruthless hand of desolation had waved over their little fields. Doctor Eckarly aided in burying the remains of his unfortunate brothers, and returned to the fort on the South Branch.

In the fall of 1758, Thomas Decker and some others commenced a settlement on the Monongahela river, at the mouth of what is now, Decker's creek. In the ensuing spring it was entirely broken up by a party of Delawares and Mingoes; and the greater part of its inhabitants murdered.

There was at this time at Brownsville a fort, then known as Redstone fort, under the command of Capt. Paul.[17] One of Decker's party escaped from the Indians who destroyed the settlement, and making his way to Fort Redstone, gave to its commander the melancholy intelligence. The garrison being too weak to admit of sending a detachment in pursuit, Capt. Paul despatched a runner with the information to Capt. John Gibson, then stationed at Fort Pitt. Leaving the fort under the command of Lieut. Williamson, Capt. Gibson set out with thirty men to intercept the Indians, on their return to their towns.

In consequence of the distance which the pursuers had to go, and the haste with which the Indians had retreated, the expedition failed in its object; they however accidentally came on a party of six or seven Mingoes, on the head of Cross Creek in Ohio (near Steubenville)—these had been prowling about the river, below Fort Pitt, seeking an opportunity of committing depredations.[18] As Capt. Gibson passed the point of a small knoll, just after day break, he came unexpectedly upon them—some of them were lying down; the others were sitting round a fire, making thongs of green hides. Kiskepila or Little Eagle, a Mingo chief, headed the party. So soon as he discovered Capt. Gibson, he raised the war whoop and fired [61] his rifle—the ball passed through Gibson's hunting shirt and wounded a soldier just behind him. Gibson sprang forward, and swinging his sword with herculean force, severed the head of the Little Eagle from his body—two other Indians were shot down, and the remainder escaped to their towns on Muskingum.

When the captives, who were restored under the treaty of 1763, came in, those who were at the Mingo towns when the remnant of Kiskepila's party returned, stated that the Indians represented Gibson as having cut off the Little Eagle's head with a long knife. Several of the white persons were then sacrificed to appease the manes of Kiskepila; and a war dance ensued, accompanied with terrific shouts and bitter denunciations of revenge on "the Big knife warrior." This name was soon after applied to the Virginia militia generally; and to this day they are known among the north western Indians as the "Long knives," or "Big knife nation."[19]

These are believed to have been the only attempts to effect a settlement of North Western Virginia, prior to the close of the French war. The capture of Fort du Quesne and the erection and garrisoning of Fort Pitt, although they gave to the English an ascendency in that quarter; yet they did not so far check the hostile irruptions of the Indians, as to render a residence in this portion of Virginia, by any means secure.—It was consequently not attempted 'till some years after the restoration of peace in 1765.

——- [1] This is misleading. The author has told us, in the preceding chapter, of several attempts of English coast colonists to make transmontane settlements, quite apart from thought of ousting the French. Englishmen had no sooner landed in America than they attempted to cross the Western mountain barrier. Ralph Lane made the attempt in 1586, Christopher Newport and John Smith in 1606, and Newport himself in 1607. John Lederer, a German surgeon exploring for Governor Berkeley, of Virginia, reached the top of Blue Ridge in 1609, but did not descend the western slope. Two years later, Abraham Wood discovered the Great Kanawha. It is possible that the French Jesuit Le Moyne was on the Alleghany River as early as 1656. La Salle was probably at the Falls of the Ohio (Louisville) in 1669. But it was not until about 1700 that French and English fur-traders met in open rivalry on the Ohio. It was with no thought of the French that Governor Spottswood, of Virginia, passed over the Blue Ridge in 1714. The situation in short, was this: The English colonists early wanted the over-mountain country watered by the Ohio, but were too weak at first to hold for agricultural settlement lands so far from home, in the face of a savage foe. The French wanted the valley solely for the fur trade, but Iroquois opposition long kept them from entering; when at last they were able to do so, the English colonists had also grown strong enough to move in, and then ensued the long and bloody struggle in which New France fell.—R. G. T.

[2] In the journal (drawn up for the inspection of Gov. Dinwiddie) of the events of his mission to the commander of the French forces on the Ohio; this was the first of those splendid acts of a public nature, performed by Gen. Washington.

[3] Only five companies of the first Virginia regiment served on Braddock's campaign—hence there was no second regiment, nor any Colonel Russell engaged in that service; there was, however, at this period, a Colonel or Lieut.-Colonel William Russell, who emigrated from England when a young lawyer, to Virginia, about 1710, and settled in Culpeper, and by the readjustment of county lines he was thrown into the new county of Orange. He was a man of much prominence, and at one time was high sheriff of Orange; and apparently lieutenant-colonel of militia, and as such, in the early part of the French and Indian War, did some frontier service, though rather advanced in years at the time. In 1753, he was sent as a commissioner to pacify the Indians in the region where Pittsburg was subsequently located. He died October 18, 1757, aged about seventy-two years. His son of the same name served with reputation at the battle of Point Pleasant, and during the Revolutionary War, retiring at its close with the brevet rank of brigadier-general.—L. C. D.

[4] It has already been stated that Col. John Lewis's eldest son was Thomas, not Samuel.—L. C. D.

[5] Capt. John McDowell was killed in an engagement with the Indians, in December, 1742, and of course could not have served under either Andrew or Charles Lewis.—L. C. D.

[6] James Smith, afterwards Col. Smith of Bourbon county in Kentucky, was then a prisoner at du Quesne. He says that the Indians in council planned the attack on Braddock's army and selected the ground from which to make it—that the assailants did not number more than 400 men, of whom but a small proportion were French. One of the Indians laughed when he heard the order of march in Braddock's army, and said "we'll shoot them down all as one pigeon." Washington beheld the event in fearful anticipation, and exerted himself in vain with Gen. Braddock, to alter the order of march.

[7] It is evident that the author never saw the site of Braddock's defeat, just below the mouth of Turtle Creek, for his description is quite inaccurate. June 30, 1755, the army, which had been following the Ohio Company's road from Will's Creek, via East Meadows, crossed the Youghiogheny and proceeding in a devious course struck the head of Turtle Creek, which was followed nearly to its mouth, whence a southern course was taken to avoid the steep hills. Reaching the Monongahela just below the mouth of the Youghiogheny, they crossed (July 9) to the west side, where there is a long, narrow bottom. Nearly opposite the mouth of Turtle Creek, and about four miles below the first crossing, hills again closely approach the west bank, and the east side becomes the more favorable for marching. Here, only eight miles across country from Fort Duquesne, Braddock forded the second time, and in angling up the rather easy slope upon which is now built the busy iron-making town of Braddock, Pa., was obliged to pass through a heavily-wooded ravine. This was the place of the ambuscade, where his army was cut to pieces. Indians from the Upper Lakes, under the leadership of Charles Langlade, a Wisconsin fur-trader, were the chief participants in this affair, on the French side.—R. G. T.

[8] This statement about Capts. Grant and Lewis having taken part in the battle of the Monongahela, is altogether a mistake. It must have originated in some traditional account, and become confused in some way with Grant's defeat, three years later, in which Maj. James Grant and Maj. Andrew Lewis both took a prominent part. There is no record of any Capt. Grant in Braddock's army. Andrew Lewis, though a major, was still in command of his company, and at the time of Braddock's defeat was on detached service. Gov. Dinwiddie, writing to Maj. Lewis, July 8, 1755, says: "You were ordered to Augusta with your company to protect the frontier of that county;" and, in a letter of the same date, to Col. Patton, the Governor adds: "Enclosed you have a letter to Capt. Lewis, which please forward to him: I think he is at Greenbrier." Capt. Robt. Orme, aide-de-camp to Gen. Braddock, in his Journal appended to Sargent's History of Braddock's Expedition, states under date of April, 1755, that the Virginia troops having been clothed, were ordered to march to Winchester, for arming and drilling, and then adds: "Capt. Lewis was ordered with his company of Rangers to Greenbrier river, there to build two stockade forts, in one of which he was to remain himself and to detach to the other a subaltern and fifteen men. These forts were to cover the western settlers of Virginia from any inroads of Indians."—L. C. D.

[9] The MS. Journal of Col. Charles Lewis, in possession of the Wisconsin Historical Society, covering the period from October 10 to December 27, 1755, is an unconsciously eloquent picture of the hardships of life on the Virginia frontier, at this time.—R. G. T.

[10] After the capitulation of Fort Necessity, and while some of the soldiers of each army were intermixed, an Irishman, exasperated with an Indian near him, "cursed the copper-coloured scoundrel" and raised his musket to shoot him. Gen. Lewis who had been twice wounded in the engagement, and was then hobbling on a staff, raised the Irishman's gun, as he was in the act of firing, and thus not only saved the life of the Indian, but probably prevented a general massacre of the Virginia troops.

[11] Congress had given to Gen. Stephens, and some others (whose senior Lewis had been in former services) commissions as Major Generals.

[12] Thomas Bullitt was a native of Prince William county, Virginia. He was appointed an ensign in Washington's first Virginia regiment, July 20, 1754, and promoted to a lieutenancy on October 30th following. It is said that he served in Braddock's defeat; but the records of the Virginia officers present do not include Lieut. Bullitt's name. He was, perhaps, with Capt. Lewis in the Greenbrier country, or on some other detached service. In May, 1756, he was stationed at Winchester; in July following, in command of Fort Frederick, on Jackson's River, and in November of that year, in command of Fort Cumberland. He was in active service in 1757, and early the next year we find him a captain; as such, he distinguished himself in checking the enemy and saving many of the fugitives at Grant's defeat, and shared in Gen. Forbes's successful expedition in the capture of Fort Du Quesne. In May, 1759, while guarding with one hundred men, fifteen wagons loaded with provisions for the westward, he was attacked and defeated by a strong party of French and Indians, losing thirty-five of his party killed and prisoners and all his wagons. In 1760, he was appointed a surveyor of a district bordering on the Ohio, and had much to do in early Kentucky exploration and surveys, making an early location and survey at the Falls of Ohio in 1773. In September, 1775, he was appointed adjutant-general of all the Virginia forces; and on the 9th of December following, he aided Colonel Woodford in defeating Capt. Fordyce and party at the Great Bridge. In March, 1776, Congress appointed him deputy adjutant-general of the Southern Department with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and advanced him in May following to the full rank of colonel. He died while yet in service, in 1778.—L. C. D.

[13] The French destroyed Fort Duquesne in November, 1758. During the winter following, Fort Pitt was erected by the English troops. In his Journal of a Tour to the Ohio River (1770), Washington says of it: "The fort is built on the point between the rivers Alleghany and Monongahela, but not so near the pitch of it as Fort Duquesne stood. It is five-sided and regular, two of which next the land are of brick; the others stockade. A moat encompasses it." Fort Pitt was invested by the Indians during Pontiac's War (1763). It was fully garrisoned until 1772, when a corporal and a few men were left as care-takers. In October of that year, the property was sold, and several houses were built out of the material. In the course of the boundary dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia, the latter colony took possession of the ruins, through Lord Dunmore's agent there, John Conolly.—R. G. T.

[14] The author overlooks the settlement made by Christopher Gist, the summer of 1753, in the town of Dunbar, Fayette county, Pa., two or three miles west of the Youghiogheny and some seventy miles northwest of Will's Creek; the site was doubtless selected by him in his trip of 1751-52. Washington, who visited him there in November, 1753, on the way to Fort Le Boeuf, calls it "Gist's new settlement," but the owner's name for his place was "Monongahela." It was the first settlement of which there is record, upon the Ohio Company's lands. Gist induced eleven families to settle near him; and on his journey home, in January, 1754, Washington met them going out to the new lands. The victory of the French over Washington, at Fort Necessity, in July, led to the expulsion from the region of all English-speaking settlers. The French commander, De Villiers, reports that he "burnt down all the settlements" on the Monongahela (from Redstone down), and in the vicinity of Gist's.—R. G. T.

[15] This trail was a continuation of the famous "Warrior Branch," which coming up from Tennessee passed through Kentucky and Southern Ohio, and threading the valley of Fish Creek crossed over to Dunkard's Creek and so on to the mouth of Redstone Creek.—R. G. T.

[16] In Col. Preston's MS. Register of Indian Depredations, in the Wisconsin Historical Society's library, it is stated that Robert Foyle, wife and five children, were killed on the Monongahela in 1754. Gov. Dinwiddie, in his speech to the Virginia house of burgesses in February, 1754, refers to this barbarous affair, giving the same number of the family destroyed; and the gazettes of that period state that Robert Foyle, together with his wife and five children, the youngest about ten years of age, were killed at the head of the Monongahela; their bodies, scalped, were discovered February 4th, and were supposed to have been killed about two months before.—L. C. D.

[17] In 1750, the Ohio Company, as a base of operations and supplies, built a fortified warehouse at Will's Creek (now Cumberland, Md.), on the upper waters of the Potomac. Col. Thomas Cresap, an energetic frontiersman, and one of the principal agents of the Company, was directed to blaze a pack-horse trail over the Laurel Hills to the Monongahela. He employed as his guide an Indian named Nemacolin, whose camp was at the mouth of Dunlap Creek (site of the present Brownsville, Pa.), an affluent of the Monongahela. Nemacolin pointed out an old Indian trace which had its origin, doubtless, in an over-mountain buffalo trail; and this, widened a little by Cresap, was at first known as Nemacolin's Path. It led through Little Meadows and Great Meadows—open marshes grown to grass, and useful for feeding traders' and explorers' horses. Washington traveled this path in 1753, when he went to warn the French at Fort Le Boeuf. Again, but widened somewhat, it was his highway in 1754, as far north as Gist's plantation; and at Great Meadows he built Fort Necessity, where he was defeated. Braddock followed it in great part, in 1755, and henceforth it became known as "Braddock's Road." The present National Road from Cumberland to Brownsville, via Uniontown, differs in direction but little from Nemacolin's Path. For a map of Braddock's Road, see Lowdermilk's History of Cumberland, Md., p. 140, with description on pages 51, 52, 140-148. Ellis's History of Fayette Co., Pa., also has valuable data.

The terminus of Nemacolin's Path was Dunlap's Creek (Brownsville). A mile-and-a-quarter below Dunlap's, enters Redstone Creek, and the name "Redstone" became affixed to the entire region hereabout, although "Monongahela" was sometimes used to indicate the panhandle between the Monongahela and the Youghiogheny. In 1752, the Ohio Company built a temporary warehouse at the mouth of Dunlap's Creek, at the end of the over-mountain trail. In 1754, Washington's advance party (Capt. Trent) built a log fort, called "The Hangard," at the mouth of the Redstone, but this was, later in the year, destroyed by the French officer De Villiers. In 1759, Colonel Burd, as one of the features of Forbes's campaign against Fort Duquesne, erected Fort Burd at the mouth of Dunlap's, which was a better site. This fort was garrisoned as late as the Dunmore War (1774), but was probably abandoned soon after the Revolutionary War. The name "Redstone Old Fort" became attached to the place, because within the present limits of Brownsville were found by the earliest comers, and can still be traced, extensive earthworks of the mound-building era.—R. G. T.

[18] Cross Creek empties into the Ohio through Mingo Bottom (site of Mingo Junction, O.). On this bottom was, for many years, a considerable Mingo village.—R. G. T.

[19] This statement, that Capt. Audley Paul commanded at Redstone, and of his attempting to intercept a foraging Indian party, can not possibly be true. There was no fort, and consequently no garrison, at Redstone in 1758. It was not built 'till 1759, and then by Col. James Burd, of the Pennsylvania forces. James L. Bowman, a native of Brownsville, the locality of Redstone Old Fort, wrote a sketch of the history of that place, which appeared in the American Pioneer in February, 1843, in which he says: "We have seen it stated in a creditable work, that the fort was built by Capt. Paul—doubtless an error, as the Journal of Col. Burd is ample evidence to settle that matter." Col. Burd records in his Journal: "Ordered, in Aug. 1759, to march with two hundred of my battalion to the mouth of Redstone Creek, to cut a road to that place, and to erect a fort." He adds: "When I had cut the road, and finished the fort," etc.

The other part of the story, about Capt. John Gibson commanding at Fort Pitt in "the fall of 1758," is equally erroneous, as Gen. Forbes did not possess himself of Fort Duquesne till Nov. 25th, 1758, within five days of the conclusion of "fall" in that year; and Gen. Forbes commanded there in person until he left for Philadelphia, Dec. 3d following. There is, moreover, no evidence that Gibson was then in service. The story of his decapitating Kis-ke-pi-la, or the Little Eagle, if there was such a person, or of his beheading any other Indian, is not at all probable. He was an Indian trader for many years, and was made prisoner by the Indians in 1763, and detained a long time in captivity.

Gibson could not by any such decapitating exploit, have originated the designation of "Big Knife," or "Big Knife warrior," for this appellation had long before been applied to the Virginians. Gist says in his Journal, Dec. 7th, 1750, in speaking of crossing Elk's Eye Creek—the Muskingum—and reaching an Indian hamlet, that the Indians were all out hunting; that "the old Frenchman, Mark Coonce, living there, was civil to me; but after I was gone to my camp, upon his understanding I came from Virginia, he called me Big Knife." Col. James Smith, then a prisoner with the Indians, says the Indians assigned as a reason why they did not oppose Gen. Forbes in 1758, that if they had been only red coats they could have subdued them; "but they could not withstand Ash-a-le-co-a, or the Great Knife, which was the name they gave the Virginians."—L. C. D.


Comment by R. G. T.—See note on p. 77, regarding erection of early forts at Redstone. James Veech, in Monongahela of Old, says, "We know that the late Col. James Paull served a month's duty in a drafted militia company in guarding Continental stores here [Fort Burd] in 1778." The term "Big Knives" or "Long Knives" may have had reference either to the long knives carried by early white hunters, or the swords worn by backwoods militia officers. See Roosevelt's Winning of the West, I., p. 197.


The destruction of the Roanoke settlement in the spring of 1757, by a party of Shawanees, gave rise to the campaign, which was called by the old settlers the "Sandy creek voyage." To avenge this outrage, Governor Dinwiddie ordered out a company of regulars (taken chiefly from the garrison at Fort Dinwiddie, on Jackson's river) under the command of Capt. Audley Paul; a company of minute-men from Boutetourt, under the command of Capt. William Preston; and two companies from Augusta, under Captains John Alexander[1] and William Hogg. In Capt. Alexander's company, John M'Nutt, afterwards governor of Nova Scotia, was a subaltern. The whole were placed under the command of Andrew Lewis.[2]

Beside the chastisement of the Indians, the expedition had for its object, the establishment of a military post at the mouth of the Great Sandy. This would have enabled them, not only to maintain a constant watch over marauding parties of Indians from that quarter; but to check the communication between them and the post at Galliopolis; and thus counteract the influence which the French there had obtained over them.[3]

The different companies detailed upon the Shawanee expedition, were required to rendezvous on the Roanoke, near to the present town of Salem in Bottetourt, where Col. Lewis was then posted. The company commanded by Capt. Hogg failed to attend at the appointed time; and Col. Lewis after delaying a week for its arrival, marched forward, expecting to be speedily overtaken by it.

To avoid an early discovery by the Indians, which would have been the consequence of their taking the more public route by the Great Kenhawa; and that they might fall upon the Indians towns in the valley of the Scioto, without being interrupted or seen by the French at Galliopolis, they took the route by the way of New river and Sandy. Crossing New river below the Horse-shoe, they descended it to the mouth of Wolf creek; and ascending this to its source, passed over to the head of Bluestone river; where they delayed another week awaiting the arrival of Capt. Hogg and his company.[4]—They then marched to the head of the north fork of Sandy, and continued down it to the great Burning Spring, where they also remained a day. Here the salt and provisions, which had been conveyed [63] on pack horses, were entirely exhausted. Two buffaloes, killed just above the spring, were also eaten while the army continued here; and their hides were hung upon a beech tree. After this their subsistence was procured exclusively by hunting.

The army then resumed their march; and in a few days after, it was overtaken by a runner with the intelligence that Capt. Hogg and his company were only a day's march in the rear. Col. Lewis again halted; and the day after he was overtaken by Hogg, he was likewise overtaken by an express from Francis Fauquier[5] with orders for the army to return home; and for the disbanding of all the troops except Capt. Paul's regulars,[6] who were to return to Fort Dinwiddie.

This was one of the first of Gov. Fauquier's official acts; and it was far from endearing him to the inhabitants west of the Blue ridge. They had the utmost confidence in the courage and good conduct of Col. Lewis, and of the officers and men under his command—they did not for an instant doubt the success of the expedition, and looked forward with much satisfaction, to their consequent exemption in a great degree, from future attacks from the Indians. It was not therefore without considerable regret, that they heard of their countermanding orders.

Nor were they received by Lewis and his men with very different feelings. They had endured much during their march, from the inclemency of the weather; more from the want of provisions—They had borne these hardships without repining; anticipating a chastisement of the Indians, and the deriving of an abundant supply of provisions from their conquered towns—They had arrived within ten miles of the Ohio river, and could not witness the blasting of their expectations, without murmuring. A council of war was held—disappointment and indignation were expressed in every feature. A majority of the officers were in favor of proceeding to the Ohio river, under the expectation that they might fall in with some of the enemy—they marched to the river and encamped two nights on its banks. Discovering nothing of an enemy, they then turned to retrace their steps through pathless mountains, a distance of three hundred miles, in the midst of winter and without provisions.

The reasons assigned by the friends of Gov. Fauquier, for the issuing of those orders were, that the force detailed by Gov. Dinwiddie, was not sufficient to render secure an establishment at the contemplated point—near the Indian towns on the Scioto—within a few days journey of several thousand warriors on the Miami—in the vicinity of the hostile post at Galliopolis and so remote from the settled part of Virginia, that they could not be furnished with assistance, and supplied with provisions and military stores, without incurring an expenditure, both of blood and money, beyond what the colony could spare, for the accomplishment of that object.

Had Capt. Hogg with his company, been at the place of rendezvous at the appointed time, the countermanding orders of the governor [64] could not have reached the army, until it had penetrated the enemy's country. What might have been its fate, it is impossible to say—the bravery of the troops—their familiar acquaintance with the Indian mode of warfare—their confidence in the officers and the experience of many of them, seemed to give every assurance of success—While the unfortunate result of many subsequent expeditions of a similar nature, would induce the opinion that the governor's apprehensions were perhaps prudent and well founded. That the army would soon have had to encounter the enemy, there can be no doubt; for although not an Indian had been seen, yet it seems probable from after circumstances, that it had been discovered and watched by them previous to its return.

On the second night of their march homeward, while encamped at the Great falls, some of Hogg's men went out on the hills to hunt turkeys, and fell in with a party of Indians, painted as for war. As soon as they saw that they were discovered, they fired, and two of Hogg's men were killed—the fire was returned and a Shawanee warrior was wounded and taken prisoner. The remaining Indians, yelling their war whoop, fled down the river.

Many of the whites, thinking that so small a party of Indians would not have pursued the army alone, were of opinion that it was only an advanced scout of a large body of the enemy, who were following them: the wounded Indian refused to give any information of their number or object. A council of war was convoked; and much diversity of opinion prevailed at the board. It was proposed by Capt. Paul to cross the Ohio river, invade the towns on the Scioto, and burn them, or perish in the attempt.[7] The proposition was supported by Lieut. M'Nutt, but overruled; and the officers, deeming it right to act in conformity with the governor's orders, determined on pursuing their way home. Orders were then given that no more guns should be fired, and no fires kindled in camp, as their safe return depended very much on silence and secrecy.

An obedience to this order, produced a very considerable degree of suffering, as well from extreme cold as from hunger. The pack horses, which were no longer serviceable (having no provisions to transport) and some of which had given out for want of provender, were killed and eaten. When the army arrived at the Burning spring, the buffalo hides, which had been left there on their way down, were cut into tuggs, or long thongs, and eaten by the troops, after having been exposed to the heat produced by the flame from the spring.—Hence they called it Tugg river—a name by which it is still known. After this the army subsisted for a while on beachnuts; but a deep snow falling these could no longer be obtained, and the restrictions were removed.

About thirty men then detached themselves from the main body, to hunt their way home. Several of them were known to have perished from cold and hunger—others were lost and never afterwards [65] heard of; as they had separated into small parties, the more certainly to find game on which to live. The main body of the army was conducted home by Col. Lewis, after much suffering—the strings of their mocasons, the belts of their hunting shirts, and the flaps of their shot pouches, having been all the food which they had eaten for some days.[8]

A journal of this campaign was kept by Lieut. M'Nutt, a gentleman of liberal education and fine mind. On his return to Williamsburg he presented it to Governor Fauquier by whom it was deposited in the executive archives. In this journal Col. Lewis was censured for not having proceeded directly to the Scioto towns; and for imposing on the army the restrictions, as to fire and shooting, which have been mentioned.—This produced an altercation between Lewis and M'Nutt, which was terminated by a personal encounter.[9]

During the continuance of this war, many depredations were committed by hostile Indians, along the whole extent of the Virginia frontier. Individuals, leaving the forts on any occasion, scarcely ever returned; but were, almost always, intercepted by Indians, who were constantly prowling along the border settlements, for purposes of rapine and murder. The particulars of occurrences of this kind, and indeed of many of a more important character, no longer exist in the memory of man—they died with them who were contemporaneous with the happening of them.[10] On one occasion however, such was the extent of savage duplicity, and such, and so full of horror, the catastrophe resulting from misplaced confidence, that the events which marked it, still live in the recollection of the descendants of some of those, who suffered on the theatre of treachery and blood.

On the south fork of the South Branch of Potomac, in, what is now, the county of Pendleton, was the fort of Capt. Sivert.[11] In this fort, the inhabitants of what was then called the "Upper Tract," all sought shelter from the tempest of savage ferocity; and at the time the Indians appeared before [66] it, there were contained within its walls between thirty and forty persons of both sexes and of different ages. Among them was Mr. Dyer, (the father of Col. Dyer now of Pendleton) and his family. On the morning of the fatal day, Col. Dyer and his sister left the fort for the accomplishment of some object, and although no Indians had been seen there for some time, yet did they not proceed far, before they came in view of a party of forty or fifty Shawanees, going directly towards the fort. Alarmed for their own safety, as well as for the safety of their friends, the brother and sister endeavored by a hasty flight to reach the gate and gain admittance into the garrison; but before they could effect this, they were overtaken and made captives.

The Indians rushed immediately to the fort and commenced a furious assault on it. Capt. Sivert prevailed, (not without much opposition,) on the besieged, to forbear firing 'till he should endeavor to negotiate with, and buy off the enemy. With this view, and under the protection of a flag he went out, and soon succeeded in making the wished for arrangement. When he returned, the gates were thrown open, and the enemy admitted.

No sooner had the money and other articles, stipulated to be given, been handed over to the Indians, than a most bloody tragedy was begun to be acted. Arranging the inmates of the fort, in two rows, with a space of about ten feet between them, two Indians were selected; who taking each his station at the head of a row, with their tomahawks most cruelly murdered almost every white person in the fort; some few, whom caprice or some other cause, induced them to spare, were carried into captivity,—such articles as could be well carried away were taken off by the Indians; the remainder was consumed, with the fort, by fire.

The course pursued by Capt. Sivert, has been supposed to have been dictated by timidity and an ill founded apprehension of danger from the attack. It is certain that strong opposition was made to it by many; and it has been said that his own son raised his rifle to shoot him, when he ordered the gates to be thrown open; and was only prevented from executing his purpose, by the interference of some near to him. Capt. Sivert was also supported by many, in the plan which he proposed to rid the fort of its assailants: it was known to be weak, and incapable of withstanding a vigorous onset; and [67] its garrison was illy supplied with the munitions of war. Experience might have taught them, however, the futility of any measure of security, founded in a reliance on Indian faith, in time of hostility; and in deep and bitter anguish, they were made to feel its realization in the present instance.

In the summer of 1761, about sixty Shawanee warriors penetrated the settlements on James river. To avoid the fort at the mouth of Looney's creek, on this river, they passed through Bowen's gap in Purgatory mountain, in the night; and ascending Purgatory creek, killed Thomas Perry, Joseph Dennis and his child and made prisoner his wife, Hannah Dennis. They then proceeded to the house of Robert Renix, where they captured Mrs. Renix, (a daughter of Sampson Archer) and her five children, William, Robert, Thomas, Joshua and Betsy—Mr. Renix not being at home. They then went to the house of Thomas Smith, where Renix was; and shot and scalped him and Smith; and took with them, Mrs. Smith and Sally Jew, a white servant girl.[12]

William and Audley Maxwell, and George Matthews, (afterwards governor of Georgia,) were then going to Smith's house; and hearing the report of the guns, supposed that there was a shooting match. But when they rode to the front of the house and saw the dead bodies of Smith and Renix lying in the yard, they discovered their mistake; and contemplating for a moment the awful spectacle, wheeled to ride back. At this instant several guns were fired at them; fortunately without doing any execution, except the cutting off the club of Mr. Matthews' cue. The door of the house was then suddenly opened; the Indians rushed out and raising the war cry, several of them fired—Audley Maxwell was slightly wounded in the arm.

It appeared afterwards, that the Indians had seen Matthews and the Maxwells coming; and that some of them had crowded into the house, while the others with the prisoners went to the north side of it, and concealed themselves behind some fallen timber. Mrs. Renix, after she was restored to her friends in 1766, stated that she was sitting tied, in the midst of four Indians, who laying their guns on a log, took deliberate aim at Matthews; the others firing at the Maxwells—The sudden wheeling of their horses no doubt saved the lives of all three.

The Indians then divided, and twenty of them taking the [68] prisoners, the plunder and some horses which they had stolen, set off by the way of Jackson's river, for the Ohio; the remainder started towards Cedar creek, with the ostensible view of committing farther depredations. But Matthews and the Maxwells had sounded the alarm, and the whole settlement were soon collected at Paul's stockade fort, at the Big spring near to Springfield. Here the women and children were left to be defended by Audley Maxwell and five other men; while the others, forming a party of twenty-two, with George Matthews at their head, set out in quest of the enemy.

The Indians were soon overtaken, and after a severe engagement, were forced to give ground. Matthews and his party followed in pursuit, as far as Purgatory creek; but the night being very dark in consequence of a continued rain, the fugitives effected an escape; and overtaking their comrades with the prisoners and plunder, on the next evening, at the forks of the James and Cowpasture rivers, proceeded to Ohio without further molestation.

When Matthews and his men, on the morning succeeding the engagement, returned to the field of battle, they found nine Indians dead; whom they buried on the spot. Benjamin Smith, Thomas Maury and the father of Sally Jew, were the only persons of Matthews' party, who were killed—these, together with those who had been murdered on the preceding day, were buried near the fork of a branch, in (what is now) the meadow of Thomas Cross sr.

In Boquet's treaty with the Ohio Indians, it was stipulated that the whites detained by them in captivity were to be brought in and redeemed. In compliance with this stipulation, Mrs. Renix was brought to Staunton in 1767 and ransomed, together with two of her sons, William, the late Col. Renix of Greenbrier, and Robert, also of Greenbrier—Betsy, her daughter, had died on the Miami. Thomas returned in 1783, but soon after removed and settled, on the Scioto, near Chilicothe. Joshua never came back; he took an Indian wife and became a Chief among the Miamies—he amassed a considerable fortune and died near Detroit in 1810.

Hannah Dennis was separated from the other captives, and allotted to live at the Chilicothe towns.[13] She learned their language; painted herself as they do; and in many respects conformed to their manners and customs. She was attentive to sick persons and was highly esteemed by the Indians, as [69] one well skilled in the art of curing diseases. Finding them very superstitious and believers in necromancy; she professed witchcraft, and affected to be a prophetess. In this manner she conducted herself, 'till she became so great a favorite with them, that they gave her full liberty and honored her as a queen. Notwithstanding this, Mrs. Dennis was always determined to effect her escape, when a favorable opportunity should occur; and having remained so long with them, apparently well satisfied, they ceased to entertain any suspicions of such a design.

In June 1763, she left the Chilicothe towns, ostensibly to procure herbs for medicinal purposes, (as she had before frequently done,) but really to attempt an escape. As she did not return that night, her intention became suspected; and in the morning, some warriors were sent in pursuit of her. In order to leave as little trail as possible, she had crossed the Scioto river three times, and was just getting over the fourth time 40 miles below the towns, when she was discovered by her pursuers. They fired at her across the river without effect; but in endeavoring to make a rapid flight, she had one of her feet severely cut by a sharp stone.

The Indians then rushed across the river to overtake and catch her, but she eluded them by crawling into the hollow limb, of a large fallen sycamore. They searched around for her some time, frequently stepping on the log which concealed her; and encamped near it that night. On the next day they went on to the Ohio river, but finding no trace of her, they returned home.

Mrs. Dennis remained at that place three days, doctoring her wound, and then set off for home. She crossed the Ohio river, at the mouth of Great Kenhawa, on a log of driftwood, travelling only during the night, for fear of discovery—She subsisted on roots, herbs, green grapes, wild cherries and river muscles—and entirely exhausted by fatigue and hunger, sat down by the side of Greenbrier river, with no expectation of ever proceeding farther. In this situation she was found by Thomas Athol and three others from Clendennin's settlement, which she had passed without knowing it. She had been then upwards of twenty days on her disconsolate journey, alone, on foot—but 'till then, cheered with the hope of again being with her friends.

She was taken back to Clendennin's, where they kindly [70] ministered to her, 'till she became so far invigorated, as to travel on horseback with an escort, to Fort Young on Jackson's river; from whence she was carried home to her relations.

In the course of a few days after Hannah Dennis had gone from Clendennins, a party of about sixty warriors came to the settlement on Muddy creek, in the county of Greenbrier. That region of country then contained no inhabitants, but those on Muddy creek, and in the Levels; and these are believed to have consisted of at least one hundred souls. The Indians came apparently as friends, and the French war having been terminated by the treaty of the preceding spring, the whites did not for an instant doubt their sincerity. They were entertained in small parties at different houses, and every civility and act of kindness, which the new settlers could proffer, were extended to them. In a moment of the most perfect confidence in the innocense of their intentions, the Indians rose on them and tomahawked and scalped all, save a few women and children of whom they made prisoners.

After the perpetration of this most barbarous and bloody outrage, the Indians (excepting some few who took charge of the prisoners) proceeded to the settlement in the Levels. Here, as at Muddy creek, they disguised their horrid purpose, and wearing the mask of friendship, were kindly received at the house of Mr. Clendennin.[14] This gentleman had just returned from a successful hunt, and brought home three fine elks—these and the novelty of being with friendly Indians, soon drew the whole settlement to his house. Here too the Indians were well entertained and feasted on the fruit of Clendennin's hunt, and every other article of provision which was there, and could minister to their gratification. An old woman, who was of the party, having a very sore leg and having understood that Indians could perform a cure of any ulcer, shewed it to one near her; and asked if he could heal it—The inhuman monster raised his tomahawk and buried it in her head. This seemed to be the signal of a general massacre and promptly was it obeyed—nearly every man of the settlement was killed and the women and children taken captive.

While this tragedy was acting, a negro woman, who was [71] endeavoring to escape, was followed by her crying child.—To save it from savage butchery, she turned round and murdered it herself.

Mrs. Clendennin, driven to despair by the cruel and unprovoked murder of her husband and friends, and the spoliation and destruction of all their property, boldly charged the Indians with perfidy and treachery; and alleged that cowards only could act with such duplicity. The bloody scalp of her husband was thrown in her face—the tomahawk was raised over her head; but she did not cease to revile them. In going over Keeny's knot on the next day, the prisoners being in the centre, and the Indians in the front and rear, she gave her infant child to one of the women to hold for a while.—She then stepped into the thicket unperceived, and made her escape. The crying of the infant soon lead to a discovery of her flight—one of the Indians observed that he could "bring the cow to her calf," and taking the child by the heels, beat out its brains against a tree.

Mrs. Clendennin returned that night to her home, a distance of ten miles; and covering the body of her husband with rails and trash, retired into an adjoining corn field, lest she might be pursued and again taken prisoner. While in the corn field, her mind was much agitated by contending emotions; and the prospect of effecting an escape to the settlements, seemed to her dreary and hopeless. In a moment of despondency, she thought she beheld a man, with the aspect of a murderer, standing near her; and she became overwhelmed with fear. It was but the creature of a sickly and terrified imagination; and when her mind regained its proper tone, she resumed her flight and reached the settlement in safety.[15]

These melancholy events occurring so immediately after the escape of Hannah Dennis; and the unwillingness of the Indians that she should be separated from them, has induced the supposition that the party committing those dreadful outrages were in pursuit of her. If such were the fact, dearly were others made to pay the penalty of her deliverance.

This and other incidents, similar in their result, satisfied the whites that although the war had been terminated on the part of the French; yet it was likely to be continued with all its horrors, by their savage allies. This was then, and has since been, attributed to the smothered hostility of the French in [72] Canada and on the Ohio river; and to the influence which they had acquired over the Indians. This may have had its bearing on the event; but from the known jealousy entertained by the Indians, of the English Colonists; their apprehensions that they would be dispossessed of the country, which they then held (England claiming jurisdiction over it by virtue of the treaty of Paris;) and their dissatisfaction at the terms on which France had negotiated a peace, were in themselves sufficient to induce hostilities on the part of the Indians. Charity would incline to the belief that the continuance of the war was rightly attributable to these causes—the other reason assigned for it, supposing the existence of a depravity, so deep and damning, as almost to stagger credulity itself.

In October, 1764, about fifty Delaware and Mingo warriors ascended the Great Sandy and came over on New river, where they separated; and forming two parties, directed their steps toward different settlements—one party going toward Roanoke and Catawba—the other in the direction of Jackson's river. They had not long passed, when their trail was discovered by three men, (Swope, Pack and Pitman) who were trapping on New river. These men followed the trail till they came to where the Indian party had divided; and judging from the routes which, had been taken, that their object was to visit the Roanoke and Jackson's river settlements, they determined on apprizing the inhabitants of their danger. Swope and Pack set out for Roanoke and Pitman for Jackson's river. But before they could accomplish their object, the Indians had reached the settlements on the latter river, and on Catawba.

The Party which came to Jackson's river, travelled down Dunlap's creek and crossed James river, above Fort Young, in the night and unnoticed; and going down this river to William Carpenter's, where was a stockade fort under the care of a Mr. Brown, they met Carpenter just above his house and killed him. They immediately proceeded to the house, and made prisoners of a son of Mr. Carpenter, two sons of Mr. Brown[16] [73] (all small children) and one woman—the others belonging to the house, were in the field at work. The Indians then dispoiled the house and taking off some horses, commenced a precipitate retreat—fearing discovery and pursuit.

When Carpenter was shot, the report of the gun was heard by those at work in the field; and Brown carried the alarm to Fort Young. In consequence of the weakness of this fort, a messenger was despatched to Fort Dinwiddie, with the intelligence. Capt. Paul (who still commanded there,) immediately commenced a pursuit with twenty of his men; and passing out at the head of Dunlap's creek, descended Indian creek and New river to Piney creek; without making any discovery of the enemy. On Indian creek they met Pitman, who had been running all the day and night before, to apprise the garrison at Fort Young of the approach of the Indians. Pitman joined in pursuit of the party who had killed Carpenter; but they, apprehending that they would be followed, had escaped to Ohio, by the way of Greenbrier and Kenhawa rivers.[17]

As Capt. Paul and his men were returning, they accidently met with the other party of Indians, who had been to Catawba, and committed some depredations and murders there. They were discovered about midnight, encamped on the north bank of New river, opposite an island at the mouth of Indian creek. Excepting some few who were watching three prisoners, (whom they had taken on Catawba, and who were sitting in the midst of them,) they were lying around a small fire, wrapped in skins and blankets. Paul's men not knowing that there were captives among them, fired in the midst, killed three Indians, and wounded several others, one of whom drowned himself to preserve his scalp—the rest of the party fled hastily down the river and escaped.

In an instant after the firing, Capt. Paul and his men rushed forward to secure the wounded and prevent further escapes. One of the foremost of his party seeing, as he supposed, a squaw sitting composedly awaiting the result, raised his tomahawk and just as it was descending, Capt. Paul threw himself between the assailant and his victim; and receiving the blow on his arm, exclaimed, "It is a shame to hurt a woman, even a squaw." Recognising the voice of Paul, the woman named him. She was Mrs. Catharine Gunn, an English lady, who had come to the country some years before; and who, previously to her marriage, had lived in the family of Capt. Paul's father-in-law, where she became acquainted with that gentleman—She had been taken captive by the Indians, on the Catawba, a few days before, when her husband and two only children were killed by them. When questioned why she had not cried out, or otherwise made known that she was a white prisoner, she replied, "I had as soon be killed as not—my husband is murdered—my children are slain—my parents are dead. I have not a relation in America—every thing dear to me here is gone—I have no wishes—no hopes—no fears—I would not have risen to my feet to save my life."

[74] When Capt. Paul came on the enemy's camp, he silently posted his men in an advantageous situation for doing execution, and made arrangements for a simultaneous fire. To render this the more deadly and efficient, they dropped on one knee, and were preparing to take deliberate aim, when one of them (John M'Collum) called to his comrades, "Pull steady and send them all to hell." This ill timed expression of anxious caution, gave the enemy a moment's warning of their danger; and is the reason why greater execution was not done.

The Indians had left all their guns, blankets and plunder—these together with the three white captives, were taken by Capt. Paul to Fort Dinwiddie.[18]

——- [1] Father of Dr. Archibald Alexander, sometime president of Hampden Sydney College in Virginia, and afterwards a professor at Princeton in New Jersey.


Comment by L. C. D.—He was the grandfather of Dr. Alexander.

[2] The attacks on the Roanoke settlement, mentioned by Withers, occurred in June and July, 1755 (not the spring of 1757, as he states); that on Greenbrier, in September following; and the expedition against the Shawnees did not take place in 1757, but in February and March, 1756. Diaries and other documents in the Wisconsin Historical Society's library prove this. Dr. Draper estimated that Lewis's force was about 263 whites and 130 Cherokees—418 in all. The several companies were officered by Peter Hogg, John Smith, William Preston, Archibald Alexander, Robert Breckenridge, Obadiah Woodson, John Montgomery, and one Dunlap. Two of Dr. Thomas Walker's companions in his Kentucky exploration of 1750, were in the expedition—Henry Lawless and Colby Chew. Governor Dinwiddie had stipulated in his note to Washington, in December, 1755, that either Col. Adam Stephen or Maj. Andrew Lewis was to command. Washington having selected the latter, dispatched him from Winchester about the middle of January, 1756, with orders to hurry on the expedition. To the mismanagement of the guides is attributed much of the blame for its failure. The interesting Journals of Capt. William Preston and Lieut. Thomas Norton are in the possession of the Wisconsin Historical Society.—R. G. T.

[3] But Gallipolis was not settled until 1790, as has been previously shown. Withers confounds the modern French town of Gallipolis, whose residents were the sad victims of Indian outrages rather than the abettors of them, with the old Shawnee town just below the mouth of the Scioto (site of Alexandria, O.). This fur-trading center was a village of log huts built by the French for the accommodation of their Shawnee allies, and was a center of frontier disturbances.—R. G. T.

[4] Preston's Journal does not lay much stress on Hogg's delay. Norton's Journal, speaking of Hogg, says, "common soldiers were by him scarcely treated with humanity," and he seems to have regularly overruled and disobeyed Lewis. There was much rancor in camp, and Norton writes of the Cherokee allies, "The conduct and concord that was kept up among the Indians might shame us, for they were in general quite unanimous and brotherly."—R. G. T.

[5] This expedition was sent out under the auspices of Gov. Dinwiddie—Fauquier did not become governor until 1758. No countermanding orders were sent.—L. C. D.

[6] Audley Paul was first lieutenant in Preston's company.—L. C. D.

[7] Withers, deriving his information from Taylor's sketches, was misled as to any intention of establishing a fort at the mouth of the Kanawha; and also as to Paul's, or any one else's proposition to cross the Ohio, and invade the Shawnee towns. The only aim was, to reach the Upper Shawnee town.—L. C. D.


Comment by R. G. T.—"Upper Shawnee town" was an Indian village at the mouth of Old Town Creek, emptying into the Ohio from the north, 39 miles above the mouth of the Great Kanawha.

[8] If such a journal ever existed, it passed into the hands of Gov. Dinwiddie, or possibly to Gov. Fauquier; but no reference to it is found among the Dinwiddie Papers, as published by the Virginia Historical Society; nor in the Calendar of State Papers, published by the State of Virginia. It is to be remarked, however, that few of the records of that period have been preserved by that State.—L. C. D.

[9] Shortly after, M'Nutt was appointed governor of Nova Scotia, where he remained until the commencement of the American revolution. In this contest he adhered to the cause of liberty, and joined his countrymen in arms under Gen. Gates at Saratoga. He was afterwards known as a meritorious officer in the brigade of Baron de Kalb, in the south—he died in 1811, and was buried in the Falling Spring church yard, in the forks of James river.

[10] Preston's MS. Register of the persons of Augusta county, Va., killed, wounded, captured by the Indians, and of those who escaped, from 1754 to May, 1758, is in the Wisconsin Historical Society's library. It is to be regretted that Col. Preston, whose opportunities were so good, did not continue the Register till the end of the Indian wars. It is a most valuable document as far as it goes, and supplies many dates and facts hitherto involved in doubt and obscurity.—L. C. D.

[11] Seybert's Fort was situated on the South Fork, twelve miles northeast of Franklin, in Pendleton County. At the time of this invasion, there was a fort located on the South Branch, garrisoned by Capt. James Dunlap and a company of rangers from Augusta county. Preston's Register states, that on the 27th of April, 1758, the fort at which Capt. Dunlap was stationed, was attacked and captured, the captain and twenty-two others killed; and, the next day, the same party, no doubt, attacked Seybert's Fort, killing Capt. Seybert and sixteen others, while twenty-four others were missing. Washington, at the time, placed the number as "about sixty persons killed and missing."

A gazette account, published at Williamsburg, May 5th ensuing, says: "The Indians lately took and burnt two forts, where were stationed one of our ranging companies, forty of whom were killed and scalped, and Lieut. Dunlap and nineteen missing."

Kercheval's History of the Valley gives some further particulars: That Seybert's Fort was taken by surprise; that ten of the thirty persons occupying it, were bound, taken outside; the others were placed on a log and tomahawked. James Dyer, a lad of fourteen, was spared, taken first to Logstown, and then to Chillicothe, and retained a year and ten months, when as one of an Indian party he visited Fort Pitt, and managed to evade his associates while there, and finally reached the settlements in Pennsylvania, and two years later returned to the South Fork. It is added by the same historian, as another tradition, that after the fort had been invested two days, and two of the Indians had been killed, the garrison agreed to surrender on condition of their lives being spared, which, was solemnly promised. That when the gate was opened, the Indians rushed in with demoniac yells, the whites fled, but were retaken, except one person; the massacre then took place, and ten were carried off into captivity.

Still another tradition preserved by Kercheval, says the noted Delaware chief, Killbuck, led the Indians. Seybert's son, a lad of fifteen, exhibited great bravery in the defense of the fort. Killbuck called out to Capt. Seybert, in English, to surrender, and their lives should be spared; when young Seybert at this instant, aimed his loaded gun at the chief, and the father seized it, and took it from him, saying they could not successfully defend the place, and to save their lives should surrender, confiding in Killbuck's assurances. Capt. Seybert was among the first of those sacrificed. Young Seybert was among the prisoners, and told the chief how near he came to killing him. "You young rascal," laughingly replied Killbuck, "if you had killed me, you would have saved the fort, for had I fallen, my warriors would have immediately fled, and given up the siege in despair."—L. C. D.

[12] The name is Renick. Robert Renick, who was killed on the occasion referred to, was a man of character and influence in his day. His name appears on Capt. John Smith's company roll of Augusta militia as early as 1742; and four years later, he was lieutenant of a mounted company of Augusta militia. Instead of 1761, the captivity of the Renick family occurred July 25, 1757, as shown by the Preston Register, which states that Renick and another were killed on that day—Mrs. Renick and seven children, and a Mrs. Dennis, captured; and the same day, at Craig's Creek, one man was killed and two wounded. The Renick traditions state that Mrs. Renick had only five children when taken; and one born after reaching the Indian towns; and corrects some other statements not properly related in Withers's narrative of the affair.—L. C. D.

[13] In 1763-65, the great Shawnee village just below the mouth of the Scioto (site of Alexandria, O.), was destroyed by floods. Some of the tribesmen rebuilt their town on a higher bottom just above the mouth (site of Portsmouth, O.), while others ascended the Scioto and built successively Old and New Chillicothe.—R. G. T.

[14] Where Ballard Smith now resides.

[15] Further particulars of this captivity are in Royall's Sketches of History, Life, and Manners in U. S. (New Haven, 1826), pp. 60-66.—R. G. T.

[16] Carpenter's son (since Doctor Carpenter of Nicholas) came home about fifteen years afterwards—Brown's youngest son, (the late Col. Samuel Brown of Greenbrier) was brought home in 1769—the elder son never returned. He took an Indian wife, became wealthy and lived at Brown's town in Michigan. He acted a conspicuous part in the late war and died in 1815.


Comment by L. C. D.—Adam Brown, who was captured as mentioned in the above text and note, was thought by his last surviving son, Adam Brown, Jr., whom I visited in Kansas in 1868, to have been about six years old when taken; and he died, he thought, about 1817, at about seventy-five years of age. But these dates, and his probable age, do not agree; he was either older when taken, or not so old at his death. The mother was killed when the sons were captured, and the father and some others of the family escaped. The late William Walker, an educated Wyandott, and at one time territorial governor of Kansas, stated to me, that the Wyandotts never made chiefs of white captives, but that they often attained, by their merits, considerable consequence. It is, however, certain that Abraham Kuhn, a white prisoner, grew up among the Wyandotts, and, according to Heckewelder, became a war chief among them, and signed the treaty at Big Beaver in 1785; and Adam Brown himself signed the treaties of 1805 and 1808, and doubtless would have signed later ones had he not sided with the British Wyandotts, and retired to Canada, near Malden, where he died.

[17] It is highly probable that this foray took place in 1763. During this year, as features of the Pontiac uprising, bloody forays were made on the more advanced settlements on Jackson, Greenbrier, and Calf Pasture rivers, and several severe contests ensued between whites and Indians. Captains Moffett and Phillips, with sixty rangers, were ambuscaded with the loss of fifteen men. Col. Charles Lewis pursued the savages with 150 volunteers raised in a single night, and on October 3rd surprised them at the head of the South Fork of the Potomac, killing twenty-one, with no white losses. The spoils of this victory, beside the "five horses with all their trappings," sold for L250. This was the most notable of the several skirmishes which took place on the Virginia frontier, that year.—R. G. T.

[18] Perhaps this affair is that related by Capt. William Christian, in a letter dated Roanoke, Oct. 19th, 1763, as published in the gazettes of that day—there are, at least, some suggestive similarities: "Being joined by Capt. Hickenbotham, with twenty-five of the Amherst militia, we marched on Tuesday last, to Winston's Meadows, where our scouts informed us, that they had discovered a party of Indians about three miles off. Night coming on, prevented our meeting them; and next day, being rainy, made it difficult to follow their tracks. As they were on their return, Capt. Hickenbotham marched to join Capt. Ingles down New River. I, with nineteen men and my ensign, took a different route in quest of them. We marched next day on their tracks until two hours before sunset, when we heard some guns, and soon afterwards discovered three large fires, which appeared to be on the bank of Turkey Creek, where it empties into New river. Upon this we immediately advanced, and found they were on an island. Being within gun-shot, we fired on them, and loading again, forded the creek. The Indians, after killing Jacob Kimberlain, a prisoner they had with them, made but a slight resistence, and ran off. We found one Indian killed on the spot, and, at a little distance, four blankets shot through, and very bloody. We took all their bundles, four guns, eight tomahawks, and two mares. They had several other horses, which being frightened by the firing, ran off and were lost. The party consisted of upwards of twenty Indians. By the tracks of blood, we imagined several of them were wounded." This affair occurred Oct. 12th.—L. C. D.


During the continuance of the French war, and of that with the Indians which immediately succeeded it, the entire frontier from New York to Georgia was exposed to the merciless fury of the savages. In no instance were the measures of defence adopted by the different colonies, adequate to their object.—From some unaccountable fatuity in those who had the direction of this matter, a defensive war, which alone could have checked aggression and prevented the effusion of blood, was delayed 'till the whole population, of the country west of the Blue ridge, had retired east of those mountains; or were cooped up in forts.

The chief means of defence employed, were the militia of the adjoining counties, and the establishment of a line of forts and block-houses, dispersed along a considerable extent of country, and occupied by detachments of British colonial troops, or by militiamen. All these were utterly incompetent to effect security; partly from the circumstances of the case, and somewhat from the entire want of discipline, and the absence of that subordination which is absolutely necessary to render an army effective.

So great and apparent were the insubordination and remissness of duty, on the part of the various garrisons, that Gen. Washington, declared them "utterly inefficient and useless;" and the inhabitants themselves, could place no reliance whatever on them, for protection. In a particular instance, such were the inattention and carelessness of the garrison that several children playing under the walls of the fort, were run down and caught by the Indians, who were not discovered 'till they arrived at the very gate.[1]

In Virginia the error of confiding on the militia, soon became apparent.[2] Upon the earnest remonstrance and entreaty of General Washington, the colonial legislature substituted a force of regulars,[3] [76] which at once effected the partial security of her frontier, and gave confidence to the inhabitants.

In Pennsylvania, from the pacific disposition of her rulers and their abhorrence of war of any kind, her border settlements suffered most severely. The whole extent of her frontier was desolated by the Indians, and irruptions were frequently made by them into the interior. The establishments, which had been made in the Conococheague valley, were altogether broken up and scenes of the greatest barbarity, on one side, and of the utmost suffering on the other, were constantly exhibiting. A few instances of this suffering and of that barbarity, may not be improperly adduced here. They will serve to illustrate the condition of those who were within reach of the savage enemy; and perhaps, to palliate the enormities practiced on the christian Indians.

In the fall of 1754 about forty or fifty Indians entered that province, and dividing themselves into two parties, sought the unprotected settlements, for purposes of murder and devastation: the smaller party went about the forks of Delaware—the other directing their steps along the Susquehanna. On the 2nd of October, twelve of the former appeared before the house of Peter Williamson, (a Scotchman, with no family but his wife,) who had made considerable improvement near the Delaware river. Mrs. Williamson being from home, he sat up later than usual, and about 11 o'clock was astounded at the savage war whoop, resounding from various directions, near to the house. Going to the window, he perceived several Indians standing in the yard, one of whom, in broken English, promised that if he would come out and surrender he should not be killed; threatening at the same time that if he did not, they would burn him up in his house. Unable to offer an effectual resistance, and preferring the chance of safety by surrendering, to the certainty of a horrid death if he attempted an opposition, he yielded himself up a prisoner.

So soon as he was in their power they plundered the house of such articles as they could conveniently take with them, and set fire to it, and to the barn, in which was a quantity of wheat, some horses and other cattle. After inflicting some severe tortures on Williamson, and forcing him to carry a heavy weight of the plunder, which they had taken from him, they went to a neighboring house, occupied by Jacob Snyder, his wife, five children and a servant. The piercing cries, and [77] agonizing shrieks of these poor creatures, made no impression on the savages. The father, mother, and children were tomahawked and scalped, and their bodies consumed by fire together with the house. The servant was spared that he might aid in carrying their plunder; but manifesting deep distress at his situation as prisoner, he was tomahawked before they proceeded far.

Before they could accomplish farther mischief a fall of snow, making them apprehensive that they would be pursued by the united force of the settlement, induced them to return to Alamingo—taking Williamson with them.

On their way back, they met with the party of Indians, which had separated from them, as they approached the settlements. These had been lower down on the Susquehanna, and had succeeded in making greater havoc, and committing more depredations, than it had fallen to the lot of those who had taken Williamson, to commit. They had with them three prisoners and twenty scalps. According to the account of their transactions as detailed by the prisoners, they had on one day killed and scalped John Lewis, his wife and three children, and in a few days after had murdered, with almost every circumstance of cruelty, Jacob Miller, his wife and six children, and George Folke, his wife and nine children, cutting up the bodies of the latter family and giving them piece-meal to the hogs in the pen. Wherever they had been, destruction marked their course. In every instance the houses, barns and grain stacks were consumed by fire; and the stock killed.

The three prisoners who had been brought in by the last party, endeavored soon after to effect an escape; but their ignorance of the country, and the persevering activity and vigilance of the Indians, prevented the accomplishment of their attempt. They were overtaken, and brought back; and then commenced a series of cruelties, tortures and death, sufficient to shock the sensibilities of the most obdurate heart, if unaccustomed to the perpetration of such enormities.

Two of them were tied to trees, around which large fires were kindled, and they suffered to remain for some time, in the gradual but horrible state of being scorched to death. After the Indians had enjoyed awhile the writhings of agony and the tears of anguish, which were drawn from these suffering victims, one, stepping within the circle, ripped open their bodies and threw their bowels into the flames. Others, to emulate [78] this most shocking deed, approached, and with knives, burning sticks, and heated irons, continued to lacerate, pierce and tear the flesh from their breasts, arms and legs, 'till death closed the scene of horrors and rendered its victims insensible to its pains.

The third was reserved a few hours, that he might be sacrificed under circumstances of peculiar enormity. A hole being dug in the ground of a depth sufficient to enable him to stand upright, with his head only exposed, his arms were pinioned to his body, he placed in it, and the loose earth thrown in and rammed closely around him. He was then scalped and permitted to remain in that situation for several hours. A fire was next kindled near his head. In vain did the poor suffering victim of hellish barbarity exclaim, that his brains were boiling in his head; and entreat the mercy of instant death. Deaf to his cries, and inexorable to his entreaties, they continued the fire 'till his eye balls burst and gushed from their sockets, and death put a period to his sufferings.

Of all these horrid spectacles, Williamson was an unwilling spectator; and supposing that he was reserved for some still more cruel and barbarous fate, determined on escaping. This he was soon enabled to do; and returned to the settlements.[4]

The frequent infliction of such enormities as these upon the helpless and unoffending women and children, as well as upon those who were more able to resist and better qualified to endure them; together with the desolation of herds, the devastation of crops, and the conflagration of houses which invariably characterized those incursions, engendered a general feeling of resentment, that sought in some instances, to wreak itself on those who were guiltless of any participation in those bloody deeds. That vindictive spirit led to the perpetration of offences against humanity, not less atrocious than those which they were intended to requite; and which obliterated every discriminative feature between the perpetrators of them, and their savage enemies.

The Canestoga Indians, to the number of forty, lived in a village, in the vicinity of Lancaster; they were in amity with the whites, and had been in peace and quiet for a considerable length of time. An association of men, denominated the "Paxton boys," broke into their little town and murdered all who were found at home—fourteen men, women and children fell a prey to the savage brutality of those sons of civilization [79]. The safety of the others was sought to be effected, by confining them in the jail at Lancaster. It was in vain. The walls of a prison could afford no protection, from the relentless fury of these exasperated men. The jail doors were broken open, and its wretched inmates cruelly murdered.—And, as if their deaths could not satiate their infuriate murderers, their bodies were brutally mangled, the hands and feet lopped off, and scalps torn from the bleeding heads of innocent infants.

A similar fate impended the christian Indians of Nequetank and Nain; and was only averted, by the timely interposition of the government of Pennsylvania. They were removed to Philadelphia, where they remained from November 1763 'till after the close of the war in December 1764; during which time the Paxton boys twice assembled in the neighborhood of the city, for the purpose of assaulting the barracks and murdering the Indians, but were deterred by the military preparations made to oppose them; and ultimately, but reluctantly, desisted.

Had the feelings excited in the minds of these misguided men, by the cruelties of the Indians, been properly directed, it would have produced a quite different result. If, instead of avenging the outrages of others, upon those who were no otherwise guilty than in the complexion of their skin, they had directed their exertions to the repressing of invasion, and the punishment of its authors, much good might have been achieved; and they, instead of being stigmatized as murderers of the innocent, would have been hailed as benefactors of the border settlements. Associations of this kind were formed in that province, and contributed no little to lessen the frequency of Indian massacres, and to prevent the effusion of blood, and the destruction of property. At the time the Paxton boys were meditating and endeavoring to effect the destruction of the peaceable christian Indians, another company, formed by voluntary league, was actively engaged in checking the intrusions, of those who were enemies, and in punishing their aggressions. A company of riflemen, called the Black boys (from the fact of their painting themselves red and black, after the Indian fashion,) under the command of Capt. James Smith, contributed to preserve the Conococheague valley, during the years 1763 and 1764, from the devastation [80] which had overspread it early after the commencement of Braddock's war.

Capt. Smith had been captured by the Indians in the spring of 1755, and remained with them until the spring of 1759, when he left them at Montreal, and after some time arrived at home in Pennsylvania. He was in Fort du Quesne, when the Indians and French went out to surprise Gen. Braddock; and witnessed the burnings and other dreadful tortures inflicted upon those who were so unfortunate as to have been made prisoners; and the orgies and demoniacal revels with which the victory was celebrated. He was subsequently adopted into a family, by which he was kindly treated; and became well acquainted with their manner of warfare, and the various arts practised by them, to ensure success in their predatory incursions, and afterwards to elude pursuit. He became satisfied from observation, that to combat Indians successfully, they must be encountered in their own way; and he accordingly instructed his men in the Indian mode of warfare, dressed them after the Indian fashion, and fought after the Indian manner.[5]

An instance of the good effect resulting from practicing the arts and stratagems of the Indians, occurred during this war; and to its success the garrison of Fort Pitt were indebted for their preservation.

After the ratification of the treaty of peace which had been concluded between England and France, war continued to be waged by the Indians on the whole western frontier. A large body of them had collected and marched to Fort Pitt, with a view to its reduction by famine. It had been invested for some time and the garrison being too weak to sally out and give battle to the besiegers, Capt. Ecuyer dispatched messengers with the intelligence of his situation and a request for aid and provisions: these were either compelled to return or be killed, as the country for some distance east of Fort Pitt was in the possession of the savages.[6]

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