Lord Dunmore’s War

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Treaties of peace were then concluded with the different and disconsolate tribes at Niagara, by Sir William Johnson; at Detroit by General Bradstreet; in Ohio by Colonel Boquet; and at the German Flats on the Mohawk river, with the Six Nations and their allies. By these treaties, extensive tracts of lands, as usual, were taken from the Indians, as a recompense of reward for daring to fight for freedom, homes and their native land.

Vandalia Colony
Illegal encroachment into Vandalia Colony precipitated Lord Dunmore’s War.

The power of the Indians being destroyed, and them selves utterly humiliated, the whites began to cross the Alleghany Mountains. Military land warrants of incredible numbers had been issued, and a frenzied mania for western lands seemingly absorbed every other desire in the hearts of the people of that period; and which has not abated from that day to this, but rather increased, as was practically illustrated in the Oklahoma craze that added so much glory to these United States, but to the pecuniary loss of the defrauded Creeks. Those treaties of 1768, with the northwestern and western Indians, and the two made about the same time with the Cherokees at Hard Labor and Lochaber, afforded a pretext under which the white settlements advanced upon the rights of the Indians into an area which became known as the Vandalia Colony. It was now falsely claimed that the Indian title was extinguished east and south of the Ohio River, to an indefinite extent, and the spirit of emigration and speculation rushed headlong over reason, justice and truth in all things pertaining to the rights of the Indians. The war in 1774 with the Indians, known as “Lord Dunmore’s War” had its origin exclusively from the cold-blooded and diabolical murders committed upon inoffensive Indians by the Virginians in the region of the upper Ohio. Among those murdered by Cresap and Greathouse at Captina and Yellow Creek, near Wheeling, was the entire family of the noble, generous, but unfortunate Logan. He was, and always had been, the firm friend of the Whites, and the advocate of peace; but upon this barbarous outrage he justly rushed to war to obtain revenge his only mode. The Shawnees were also among the murdered, whose tribe, as soon as it was known, rushed upon the warpath with emotions of anger and revenge that knew no limits, and directed the vengeance mainly against the Virginians. The Colonial Legislature of Virginia, then in session, at once adopted measures for the emergency. What measures? Conciliatory, by immediately causing the white murderers to be arrested and handed over to the outraged Indians to be dealt with as they saw proper, and thus manifesting to them that we practiced what we so loudly professed justice to all and by so doing, saving the lives of hundreds of innocent persons, white and red? No. But measures justifying the white cutthroats in their crimes by preparing to success fully resist the Indians in their righteous appeals for justice even from the bloody hands of war. The Indians only did what we or any other people would have done under similar circumstances. But that “Colonial Legislature” had smelt Indian blood, and four hundred volunteers responded to its call for more blood, who, under one Angus McDonald, rushed into the Indian country on the Muskingum River, in June, 1774, and burned the towns of the Wappatomica Indians, killing many of the inhabitants, nor lost a man. But what was the effect of this “conciliatory” measure of that “Colonial Legislature?” It” was what it expected and, no, doubt, greatly desired. It only served to further exasperate the outraged Indians and to excite them to fearless action in defense of their lives and God-inherited rights. What next? Was this act of vandalism burning the towns of the Wappatomicas and killing the inhabitants a recompense of reward sufficient to Cresap and Greathouse to induce them to again wash their hands in the blood of innocent and non-offending Indians, when desiring to gratify their murderous whims? In the following September, Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, raised a force of three thousand men to make a raid on the Shawnee towns on the Scioto river. This force was collected in two divisions. The first to rendezvous at Wheeling, under Dunmore; the other to cross the Ohio at the mouth of the Kanawha, under Colonel Andrew Lewis. Having arrived there, they encamped. The next morning two soldiers went up the river about two miles in quest of game, and unexpectedly came upon a body of Shawnee warriors, who killed one of them, and the other made good his escape to camps with the intelligence. The army was soon on the march in two lines, and when they had proceeded scarcely a half a mile they were met and bravely charged by the Shawnee warriors, upon which both lines gave way and were retreating, when they were rallied by Colonel Field, and the battle soon became general and sustained with obstinate bravery by both sides, The Shawnees judiciously formed in a line across a point from the Ohio River to the Kanayha (the battle being at the junction of the two streams) to prevent being flanked. In this order of battle they maintained the fight with unabated resolution and bravery from early in the day until nearly sunset, heroically resisting successive charges made upon their line by the whites. The Shawnees were under the command of the distinguished and consummate chief, Cornstalk. His plan of alternate retreat and attack was masterly conceived, and caused the chief loss of the whites. Whenever the warriors manifested signs of wavering, his voice was heard above the din of the battle, exclaiming in his native tongue, “Be strong! Be strong!” Atone time it is said, a warrior near him manifested fear and a reluctance to charge, and Cornstalk, dreading his pernicious example, struck him dead with his tomahawk. As the evening of the day drew on, and the Shawnees still maintained their position against the most vigorous attacks, and apprehending the consequences that might arise if the battle was not decided before night. Colonel Andrew Lewis sent three companies, who secretly marched up under the banks of the Kanawha River beyond the upper end of the Shawnee line, and thus gaining their rear made an attack. The Shawnees unexpectedly finding themselves surrounded on both sides, and believing their rear attack was made by reinforcements, soon gave way, and crossing the Ohio River retreated to their villages on the Scioto. But the victory was dearly bought, the brave Shawnees having killed and wounded two hundred and fifteen of the whites, while their loss was never ascertained. In the meantime Dunmore had descended the Ohio River from Wheeling to the mouth of the Hocking. Thence he marched toward the Shawnee towns on the Scioto. After the battle, Colonel Lewis hastened on with his forces to the same point, “maddened” as it has been recorded the loss of so many brave men, and anxious to avenge their fate by the annihilation of the Shawnee villages. But before reaching the Scioto, the Shawnees, seeing the folly of attempting to oppose the forces approaching, sent an embassy to Dunmore, requesting peace. He accepted their proposition. A conference was ordered that peace might be ratified. Dunmore then sent orders to Lewis to discontinue his march. He refused to obey orders, nor was it until Dunmore went in person to his camp, then on Congo creek, just south of the Shawnee villages, before he could be induced to give up his murderous designs against the Indians, because they had dared to avenge the murder of their people by the hands of Cresap and Greathouse. Dunmore remained at his camp, within four miles of the Shawnee towns, where the council was soon convened with the Shawnee chiefs to negotiate peace. The, deliberations were opened by Cornstalk, who, in a short, concise and energetic speech, delivered with great natural dignity, and in a tone so powerful as to be heard all over the camp. But brevity, energy and dignity, so commendable, were noted characteristics of the North American Indian orator. In his speech, Cornstalk rehearsed the former power of his race; the number of their tribes; the magnitude of their landed possessions and the happiness of the people; then compared their past to their present feeble condition; to their forlorn and diminished numbers; to their diminutive landed possessions; to their hunting grounds and game destroyed those gifts of the Great Spirit to his red children and to the impoverished and humiliating condition of the people. Then he spoke of a former treaty made at Fort Stanwix, and the great cessions of territory made by them to the pale-faces. Then he pointed to the lawless encroachments of the pale-faces upon their lands everywhere, in open and defiant violation of all treaty stipulations; to, the forbearance of his race for years, under reiterated wrongs, indignities and insults heaped upon them everywhere by the frontier white people. He said his people, as well as all others of his race, knew and deeply felt their weakness, and their inability to successfully contend in hostilities with the whites, and they asked only for justice; that the war just closed was not sought by his people, for it was commenced by the whites without any provocation on the part of his people or race; that under the same circumstances the pale faces would have done as they had done; that if they had failed to resent the unprovoked, cruel and treacherous murders of their relatives and friends at Captina and Yellow Creek, they would have deserved the contempt of all nations of people; that the war was the work of the whites and not the Indians, for they wanted peace. The treaty was concluded, but not before Dunmore, as a manifestation of his confidence in the integrity of the Indians, judged from the fallacy of his own heart, had secured four Indian warriors, as hostages to be taken by him to Virginia, and right in the face of the irrefutable truths just rehearsed in his hearing by the noble and patriotic Cornstalk; proving conclusively, also, that though he knew the whites were wholly in the wrong, yet, like all evil doers, he would shift the blame from his own shoulders to that of the Indians, by making it appear that the Indians could not be trusted; therefore, it was necessary to coerce them by hostages. The stipulations of the treaty under consideration made the Ohio River the boundary between the Indians and the white people; the Indians agreeing not to pass beyond the east side of the river, and the Whites agreeing not to pass beyond the west side. Thus was that beautiful river, acknowledged for the first time by the Indians, as the boundary between the territory of the White Race and the hunting grounds of the Red. Great anger was manifested by the officers and soldiers against Dunmore, it is narrated by the chroniclers of that war, for making peace and the treaty with the Indians, and their indignation knew no bounds in their disappointment at losing so good an opportunity of indulging their natural and now urgent propensities for a copious draught of Indian, blood. Cresap, Greathouse and their crew had enjoyed a hearty drink awakening also their momentary sleeping thirst; and now, after marching so far only to have the tantalizing cup dashed from their expectant lips as they were in the very act of enjoying a few sips could poor humanity endure any greater disappointment and live? Therefore, long and loud were the curses heaped upon Dunmore for his unusual act of humanity towards the Indians inexplicable, except on the supposition, it was said, that Dunmore had received orders from the Royal Government to make peace with the Indians as quick as possible, and on such terms as might secure their alliance in favor of the English against the colonies in the expected war that was anticipated with them; for, as Pericles, so did King 1 George “Behold war advancing, with wide and rapid “strides from the Peloponnesus,” in North America. And thus was displayed the character of that leniency and exhibition of mercy as was displayed on that occasion by “Dunmore to the Indians self interest momentarily checked the thirst for Indian blood. But the noble chief, Logan, who mourned the ruthless murder of his entire family by the hands of the white villains, though winked at by the authorities of that law that lay powerless in their hands, as far as regarded the poor and unfortunate Indians; nobly and justifiably refused to be seen as a suppliant among his brother chiefs, whose anxiety and love for their living families had overcame their natural and manly pride, and had alone induced them to assume the humiliating attitude of suppliants when outraged beyond human endurance; yet, in a private interview with General Gibson, who had been sent as an envoy to the Shawnees, he, though with a broken heart, yet with a calm and manly dignity and in a calm, low and solemn tone of voice, narrated the pathetic story of his unsurpassed wrongs and injuries in the following well known but little heeded words; as they have long since been pronounced as being above the ability of the Indian; therefore, are the work of the white man, who writhes in agony at the mere mention of al lowing the Indian any credit for anything that is commendable or meritorious. Thus spake the noble but brokenhearted Indian chief:

“I appeal to any white man to say, if ever he entered Logan’s cabin hungry, and I gave him not meat; If ever he came cold or naked, and I gave him riot clothing.” “During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained in his cabin an advocate for peace. Nay such was my love for the whites that those of my own country pointed at me as they passed by and said, Logan is the friend of the white men. I had even thought to live with you, but for the injuries of one man. Colonel Cresap, the last spring, in cool blood, and unprovoked, cut off all the relatives of Logan; not sparing even my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any human creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it. I have killed many. I have satisfied my vengeance. For my country, I rejoice at the beams of peace. But, do not harbor the thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one?”

Such was the language of a brokenhearted hero. And it is but one of a thousand of the utterances of mingled pride, courage, sorrow and despair of the North American Indians. For three hundred years down the line of time to the present, have their wrongs, in pathetic woe, been expressed and heard, moving to sympathizing tears, the angels of heaven, but awakening no responsive chord in the hearts of the white men lost, utterly lost, to all else, except the Indians few remaining acres of land; and who for the securing of which, have made proper arrangements with the devil for future and permanent residences, according to human ideas of justice, with him in the regions below, as a just recompense of their reward for services rendered during their stay in his dominions on earth. The last years of the old chief were spent in wandering about from village to village and from tribe to tribe, a forlorn, dejected, solitary and lonely old man a melancholy, yet truthful, exhibition of the horrible falsity of the white man s professed anxiety for the good of the Indian who had finally yielded to the crushing weight of despair by the loss of his family and relatives at the hands of white murderers, and the decay of his tribe and race. He also, as did his family, perished by the hands of an assassin, near Detroit, Michigan. He was sitting before his camp-fire with his blanket over his head, his elbows renting upon his knees and his head upon his hands, wrapped in seemingly deep, sad and mournful reflection over the scenes and experiences of the eventful past, when an unexpected tomahawk was buried in his brains, wielded by the hand of an Indian. But who does not believe, who knows the sacredness and veneration with which the aged were held by all North American Indians, and the eternal disgrace that ensued to him who killed or even injured an aged person, that when the fulfillment of the declaration of Holy Writ “And the books were opened,” at the great and last assizes in which man shall be interested that there and then will be found recorded, Logan fell by the hands of a white assassin.” The plea in favor of the white assassin s innocence is feeble. Be as it may, so perished the aged and grand Indian Chief, Logan . Of the renowned Shawnee chief, Cornstalk, it may also be truthfully affirmed that he was a man of true nobility of soul, a wise statesman in the councils of his Nation, and a brave and skillful chief in war. After the battle near the junction of the Ohio River and the Kanawha, he returned to the Pickaway villages and called a council of his people and other contiguous tribes to consult what should be done. When assembled he upbraided them for their want of fore sight and their injudicious measures adopted in not permit ting him to make solicitations of peace to the whites, as he desired, on the evening before the battle. “What,” exclaimed he, in his usual loud tone of voice and with great vehemence, “do you now propose to do? The big knives (referring to the swords of the officers) are coming onus and we will all be killed, and our wives and children led away into captivity, or scattered as autumn leaves before the win try winds. Now we must fight in earnest, or we will be destroyed.” No reply being made, he continued: “Then let us feel all our women and children and resolve to fight until the last warrior has fallen.” But still no reply being made, he struck his tomahawk with a mighty blow into a tree standing near, and exclaimed: “But I will go and make peace.” To this there was given a universal approval, and runners were at once sent to Dunmore to solicit peace. The result has been given. But as the immortal Logan, whose name with others of his race, has elevated the characters of the native Americans throughout the intelligent world, and whose touching eloquence can never be forgotten so long as eloquence is admired by man, fell by the hand of the stealthy assassin, so too was the noble Cornstalk murdered, in the summer of 1777, by some execrable white villains of the Cresap, Greathouse and Whetzel order, at Point Pleasant, near where the battle had been fought three years before. He had crossed the river to communicate the designs of the English and their allied Indians, as it was afterwards learned. When he saw his murderers approaching, his little son, Elnipsico, trembled. His father, upon seeing which, said to him: “Be not afraid. The Great Spirit has sent us here to die together.” As the white men drew near he rose up and, with his little Elnipsico, advanced to meet them, when instantly a half dozen bullets pierced their bodies. So fell the great warrior and pure patriot, Cornstalk, whose name was bestowed upon him by his Nation, as their great strength and support. Three years later, in the summer of 1780, we find eight hundred men, under Colonel Brodhead, in rendezvous at Wheeling, where six years before Dunmore had collected his forces whom he led in person to exterminate the Shawnees and destroy their villages, because they grumbled about Cresap and Greathouse butchering a dozen or more of their people regardless of age or sex, Colonel Brodhead, with his eight hundred, are to march against the Indian villages on the Muskingum River, Ohio. They marched, plundered and burnt a few villages, and captured a number of Indians among who were sixteen warriors, who were led out and, in cool blood, tomahawked and scalped. On the-next morning, a noble looking chief, under promise of protection from Brodhead, came into camp and while talking with Brodhead in regard to peace, Whetzel secretly stole up behind him, and with one blow of his tomahawk cleft his skull in twain. They now had to retreat; but before so doing, they massacred all the remaining prisoners, except a few women and children; then, when arrived safely at home, enjoyed a higher degree of complacency in imagined self-importance in having taken a few villages of Indian wigwams and butchering helpless prisoners, than did Cyrus in taking Babylon, or Titus, Jerusalem.

  • Dunmore’s War Rosters
    The "Dunmore's War Rosters" is the chief and by far the most reliable source from which to obtain rosters of the companies engaged in the battle of Point Pleasant, and we print there-from all of those which participated in that struggle. In addition to these, this work contains rolls or lists of men engaged in defending the frontier in 1774.


MLA Source Citation:

Cushman, Horatio Bardwell. History Of The Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians. Greenville, Texas: Headlight Printing House. 1899 AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 19 November 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/lord-dunmores-war.htm - Last updated on Mar 3rd, 2014

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