Southern Literary Messenger, devoted to every department of literature and the fine arts.
Volume 14, Issue 1 pp. 17-26
Richmond, Virginia; Publisher, T. W. White [etc.]
But the Indian War that we have been contemplating, was not realized. A number of Indian tribes did combine for this purpose, and their warriors were assembled in great force. But the campaign being carried into the enemy’s country, they were defeated in battle and disappointed in their expectations. This campaign has not been appreciated in proportion to its importance. It has been viewed as an insulated matter, designed solely for the protection of the frontier settlements. But its projectors had ulterior objects in view. The preparations made and great array of troops provided for this occasion, were intended to subdue the Indian tribes and deter them from interfering in the approaching contest with Great Britain and this was completely effected. For several years peace and quietness prevailed on the western frontier. During this period the first shock of the revolution had passed away; order and government were re-established; armies were raised and battles fought, in many of which); the success of American arms gave proof that the British lion was not invincible. During this period Virginia had full opportunity to employ the whole of her resources in the war of Independence. Two causes may be assigned why the advantages of this campaign mere not duly appreciated. First it was followed by events of great magnitude in quick succession. Each more recent event by attracting public attention to itself in a great degree obscured and cast into the shade events which had preceded. The second cause may be found in the scene of action. The affairs of the campaign were transacted in the Indian country, far from the white settlements, and the battle was fought in the depths of the wilderness, where there were none to witness it save those engaged. Post offices and post-riders were then unknown. There was but one newspaper then in Virginia. This was a small sheet published weekly by Purdie and Dixon, at Williamsburg, then the capital of the State, and near her eastern border. It was chiefly occupied at this time by the disputes between the colonies and the parent country, and had but a very limited circulation, from all which we may conclude, that the people of the commonwealth generally had very imperfect information respecting the Indian war. The inhabitants of that district, whence the Southern division of the army had been taken, being solicitous concerning their friends and acquaintances who were in the service, many of whom suffered in battle, did by writing and otherwise maintain a correspondence with persons in the army, by which means they became better acquainted with the origin, progress and con-sequences of this campaign, than any other portion of the country. But as new scenes during the revolution were continually rising to view, the Indian affairs were soon overlooked and forgotten. To form a just estimate of the importance of this campaign, it would be necessary to consider the character of the Indians, their propensity to war, the great combined strength that they possessed in the year 1774, the indications which they had manifested of hostile intentions, the efforts used by British traders to urge them on to war, the defenseless state of the frontier, the distracted condition of the provinces in apprehension of war with great Britain; all these things being duly considered must unquestionably lead to the conclusion, that the battle of Point Pleasant, taken in connection with the treaty which immediately followed, constituted the first act in the great drama of the revolution; that it had an important bearing on all subsequent acts of that tragedy; that it materially and immediately influenced the destinies of our country and more remotely the destinies of many other countries, perhaps of the whole world. For about this time there had gone forth a spirit of enquiry whose object was to ascertain the rights of man, the source of legitimate government, to diffuse political information and to put down all tyranny, oppression and misrule. This spirit also emanated to other countries, and although encumbered with extravagance and folly, which have doubtless marred its progress in some degree, it has nevertheless done much to correct abuses in government and ameliorate the condition of man. This spirit it is believed is still operating throughout the world and it is hoped will continue its operations until all rulers shall be actuated by justice and benevolence and all subjects by a dutiful subordination, thus harmoniously co-operating in effecting a political reformation throughout the world.
It is much to be regretted that a complete history of this campaign has never been given to the public. Several writers have notice it incidentally or given a meagre outline, but no one, it is believed, has entered into those circumstantial details which alone give interest to such a work. And now, after so great a lapse of years, it would be impossible to collect materials for this purpose. Nevertheless, after some examination of the subject the writer of these notes is induced to believe that by industry much information might yet be gleaned from various sources, enough it is thought to form a volume more satisfactory than anything heretofore published. Will not some capable hand undertake the task?*
[* This desideratum will probably be supplied by Lyman C. Draper, Esq. in his forthcoming "Lives of the Pioneers."]
Seldom has the pen of the historian been employed on an enterprise productive of so many important and beneficial results, accomplished in so short a time by so small a military force. A thousand and seventy soldiers, under General Andrew Lewis, [12th of September 1774,] left their rendezvous at Camp Union in Greenbriar, and having marched more that a hundred and fifty miles through a pathless forest and mountainous wilderness, on the 10th of October, encountered and defeated at Point Pleasant the most formidable Indian confederacy ever leagued against western Virginia. The dead being buried and provision made for the comfort of the wounded General Lewis crossed the Ohio river and penetrated the country nearly to the enemy’s towns. The defeat was so complete, the without hazarding another battle, the Indians sued for peace. A treaty of peace having been ratified, the General led his troops bad to Point Pleasant. At that place he left a garrison and then, with the remainder of the troops, returned to Camp Union, having in about two months marched through an enemy’s country, in going and returning, a distance of more than four hundred miles, defeated the enemy and accomplished all the objects of the campaign. The whole success of the campaign is here attributed to the troops under General Lewis. Others were indeed employed. The northern division fifteen or eighteen hundred strong, under the immediate command of Lord Dunmore were expected to unite and co-operate with the southern. This had been stipulated when the campaign was first projected. But by the crooked policy of the perfidious governor the troops under his immediate command were kept aloof, so that no union or co-operation could take place. The soldiers of the northern division, there is no doubt, would have been willing to share with the southern division any danger or difficulty, had they been permitted. It is also to be regretted that nothing has been done to perpetuate the memory of the victory at Point Pleasant; nothing to honor the names of those who bled in its achievement. Here Virginia lost some of her noblest sons. They had united in the same cause, fell on the same field and were interred in the same grave. But no sepulchral monument marks the place; no stone tells where they lie; not even a mound of earth has arisen to distinguish this sacred spot from others around. Here they have lain in silence and neglect for seventy years, in a land which their valor had won, unsung by the poet, uneulogised by the historian, unhonored by their country. Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ascalon. Let not the culpable neglect be known abroad. Will not some patriot, zealous for the honor of Virginia, bring this subject at an early day before her legislature? Let him give a faithful narrative of facts respecting these defenders of their country. The simple story will be impressive; then eloquence will not be wanting. Every member of that honorable body will be ready to exclaim, "give honor to whom honor is due." Let a monument be erected of durable materials, under the eye of a skillful architect; let it be characterized by republican simplicity and economy; let it bear appropriate inscriptions of the time, occasion and names of the prominent actors, especially of those who bled in battle; let it be placed on that beautiful promontory, whose base is marked by the Ohio and Kanawha and whose bosom contains the remains of those whom this monument is intended to honor. Here it will stand conspicuous, seen from afar by all who navigate these great waters, reviving in some, half-forgotten recollections, in others exciting curious enquiries respecting the early discoveries, early adventurers, early settlements and early wars of this western country. This structure, designed to honor the memory of the dead, will reflect honor also on its authors, on the State, and on every citizen, On its face will be read in ages to come inscribed the names of the Lewises, Andrew and Charles, of Fleming and Field, of Buford, Morrow, Wood, Wilson, McClanahan, Allen, Dillon, Moffett, Walker, Cundiff, Murray, Ward, Goldsby and others.
Lord Dunmore has been strongly suspected of traitorous designs during this campaign. Disputes had for several years existed between Great Britain and the colonies of North America. And now war was confidently expected. Even during this campaign the port of Boston was blockaded by a British squadron. Massachusetts and Virginia were most forward in their opposition. The governor had his appointment from the king of Great Britain, and held his office at pleasure, and it was presumable that should war take place, he would favor the interest of his sovereign. Several things occurred during the campaign which gave strength to the suspicions that were entertained. The plan at first communicated to Col. Lewis was that he should conduct his troops to Point Pleasant and there await his Excellency’s arrival with the northern division. Instead of this the southern division was left in a state of uncertainty on the very borders of the enemy’s country for several weeks, having heard nothing from his lordship all this time, exposed to the combinations and machinations other neighboring tribes. Had the northern division united with the southern, as his lordship had at first promised, there would have been no battle. The Indians would have been compelled to sue for peace. And now after the battle, General Lewis received orders to march into the interior of the Indian country, during which march he was often surrounded by great numbers of Indians and was twice in one day ordered to halt ten or fifteen miles from the governor’s camp. General Lewis had too much firmness and good sense to obey the order. He knew that i attacked at that distance from the Redstone troops he could receive no support from them. He chose rather to disobey his superior in command than risk the late of his army. It is worthy of remark too that the messenger was the notorious Simon Girty, whose character was not then fully developed, but who soon afterwards was well known as a leader in the interest of the Indians, and had he not then been known to them as a friend, it is not probable that he would have ventured alone through their country twice in one day so many miles. This same Girty had been one of the governor’s guides from Ohio river to Pickaway plains, where he now encamped. If the governor entertained traitorous designs he had great opportunity during this time to represent the certainty of war, the weakness of the provinces, the power of Great Britain, the probability that the Indians would be employed as auxiliaries and the rewards that would await those that favored the royal government. Let the governor’s designs be what they might during the campaign, certain it is that not many months elapsed before he discovered to the world that his own personal and pecuniary interest weighed more with him than the good of the province over which he had been placed. Soon after this war commenced with Great Britain. [1777.] General Burgoyne, by the way of lake Champlain, invaded the northern provinces. While approaching the frontier of New York he issued a proclamation inviting all Indians to join his standard. Many in the north did so, and it was expected that those north-west of Virginia would follow their example. To prevent this, congress ordered a military force to proceed to Point Pleasant. This force was raised chiefly in the counties of Augusta, Botetourt and Greenbriar, and was commanded by Colonel Dickinson. He was ordered to remain encamped there until the arrival of General Hand, a continental officer who was to direct their future movements. This army was designed as a feint to prevent the Indian tribes from attaching themselves to General Borgoyne. Whilst Dickinson’s troops lay here, two chiefs, Cornstalk and Red-Hawk, with another Indian of the same nation, arrived at the fort. Their designs appeared to be pacific. Captain Arbuckle, the commander of the fort, thought it prudent to detain them as hostages for the good behavior of their nation, assuring them that no further violence should be offered them, provided the treaty of 1774 should still continue to be observed by their nation. A few days after, Elenipsico, a son of Cornstalk, arrived. He was also detained as a hostage. On the day following, two of Dickinson’s troops, named Hamilton and Gilmore, from what is now Rockbridge county, crossed the Kanawha for the purpose of hunting. After having left the river a few hundred yards they parted to meet at the same place in the evening. Gilmore returned first and whilst waiting for his companion was shot and scalped by an Indian. When Hamilton returned, finding the body of Gilmore thus mangled, he called across the river and the body was taken over. This Gilmore was one of nineteen children of the same father and mother, and was brought up on the plantation now owned by Mr. John Wallace, on the stage road not far from the Natural Bridge. Nearly all of the nineteen lived to mature years, and most of them raised families. As Gilmore was highly esteemed among his comrades, this occurrence produced great excitement in the camp. The troops from his immediate neighborhood brought over his body, "and their indignation was excited to the highest pitch."* [Col. Stewart.] One said, "let us kill the Indians in the fort." This was re-iterated with loud acclamations. The more prudent, who attempted to advise against this measure, were not listened to. They were even threatened. In a few minutes the mob moved on to the fort with loaded guns. While approaching, the Indians were told what their object was. Some of them appeared alarmed and very much agitated, particularly Elenipsico. His father desired him to be calm, told him that "the Great Spirit knew when they ought to die, better than they did themselves, and as they had come there with good intentions the Great Spirit would do good to them." Cornstalk arose, stood in the cabin door and faced the assassins as they approached. In a few moments the hostages were all numbered with the dead.
Had the perpetrators of this crime been tried under the State law for murder, or by martial law for mutiny, or under the law nations for breach of treaty in the murder of hostages, or for the violation of the rules and rights of a public fort, in each or either case, had the facts been fully proven, they must have been judged worthy of death. It was an act pregnant with serious consequences. War on the frontier, which had now been suspended three years, would inevitably again take place. Accordingly in the month of June, 1778, two or three hundred Shawnees attacked the fort at Point Pleasant and continued to fire upon it for several days, but without effect. A parley was then agreed upon between the Indians and the commander of the fort. Captain McKee, with three or four others, met as many Indians midway between the fort and the Indian encampment. The Indians avowed their intention to be revenged for the death of Cornstalk and those who fell with him. Captain McKee disavowed for himself and his garrison all participation in this murder and assured them that all good and wise men disapproved of it, that it was done in a moment of excitement by some imprudent young men and most of the officers and troops at the post disapproved of their conduct. He represented further that the governor of Virginia had issued a proclamation naming certain persons who were guilty of this outrage, and offerings a reward for bringing them to justice. Part of the Indians appeared satisfied with the representation of Captain McKee and returned to their towns ; another part were not satisfied, but remained still bent on revenge. These moved off slowly up the Kanawha. After they had all disappeared, two soldiers from the garrison were sent to keep in their wake and watch their movements. But these were discovered by the Indians and fired on. They then returned to the fort and were not willing to resume this perilous undertaking. Much perplexity existed now among the officers. The garrison had been placed here for the defense of the frontier, and a strong party of Indians had now passed them and were evidently advancing against the settlements, and would attack them without a moment’s warning, unless a messenger could be sent from the fort. Enquiry being made who were willing to go, two soldiers volunteered their services, – Philip Hammon and John Pryor. The Indians were now far in advance, no time was to be lost and little was wanted for preparation. The rifle, tomahawk. shotpouch, with its contents and appendages, and blanket were always in readiness. A few pounds of portable provisions were soon at hand and now they were ready for their journey. There happened at this time to be within the fort a female Indian, called the grenadier squaw, sister to the celebrated Cornstalk, and like him known to be particularly averse to war. On learning the destination of these two spies, she offered her services to disguise them, so that if they should meet with the Indians they should not be recognized as whites. She accordingly gave them the Indian costume from head to heel, and painted their faces with dark and lurid streaks and figures, such as indicate an Indian warrior going forth bent on deeds of death and destruction. Thus equipped, attired and ornamented, they set out on the long, fatiguing and perilous journey, during which they must endure the burning sun and drenching rains of the season. Brooks and rivers were to be waded; extensive and gloomy forests were to be traversed; precipitous hills and craggy mountain-places, where no man dwelt, were to be passed over with hasty step. The wolf, the bear, the panther and rattlesnake had, from time immemorial, held sway over this inhospitable region. Nor was this all; a numerous body of hostile Indians, thirsting for white men’s blood, were known to be at this conjuncture, on the very path that the spies were to travel. Less than half of the difficulties and dangers here enumerated would have appalled most men, but to these chivalrous sons of the mountains, "The dangers self were lure alone." They were well aware that the success of the enterprise depended upon the celerity of its execution, that if they by forced marches should be able overtake and pass the enemy undiscovered, and by entering the settlement first should apprise the inhabitants of the impending danger, thereby giving them opportunity to fortify and defend themselves, all might be well; but if this strong body of the enemy should take the country by surprise, massacre, captivity and dispersion must follow, and the dissolution of the whole settlements. Entertaining these views, they set out with ardor, and persevered with steadiness, losing no time through the day with loitering, they made their bodily strength the measure of their performance, and when the shades of evening admonished them that the season of rest was at hand, drawing upon their scanty stock, they partook of a coarse and frugal but strengthening and comfortable repast, for to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. This ended, and having drunk of a neighboring stream, their next care was to find a widespreading oak, or beech, or a projecting rock which might shelter them from the chilling dews of night. And now each of them, like the patriarch of old, took one of the stones of the place for his pillow, and being wrapped in his blanket, laid himself down along-side of his rifle, conscious of having performed the duties of the day and void of care they gave themselves to sleep. Here no wakeful sentinels, walking his nightly rounds, guarded the camp; no fantastic visions nor terrific dreams disturbed their rest. Wild beasts, which the light of day awed into obscurity, had now crept from their dens and lurking places and were roaming abroad prowling for prey, uttering a thousand cries, and hideous screams, and dismal howlings, throughout the shadowy gloom of these interminable forests. Yet neither did these interrupt the repose of the two disguised soldiers. They were yet far in the rear of the enemy, but by observing his encampments, soon found that they were gaining ground, and in a few days that they were approaching his main body. This caused a sharp look-out. Relying on vigilance, circumspection and stratagem, they did not relax their speed, but carefully reconnoitered every hill and valley, every brake, glen and defile. At length one morning about ten o’clock, whilst descending Sewel mountain on its eastern side, and when near to its base, the enemy was descried near half a mile distant, on McClung’s plantation, killing hogs for their breakfast. The spies now diverged from the path which they had been pursuing, and making a small circuit, so as to allow the enemy sufficient elbow-room, or as a seaman would say, give him a good berth, that he might enjoy his feast. Thus they passed undiscovered and soon reached the settlement in safety. At the first house they experienced some difficulty, having entirely the appearance of Indian warriors. But by giving a circumstantial account of the object of their visit, and especially as they were able to do this in unbroken English, they soon gained credence and were recognized as friends. Measures were now taken to alarm the settlement, and before night all the inhabitants were assembled in Colonel Donally’s dwelling-house. This building which had heretofore been the tranquil residence of a private family and which had been characterized by its friendship and hospitality to all who entered it, must now become the theatre of war and be made familiar with tragic scenes and events. The prospect must indeed have been gloomy. All the inhabitants of the settlement were collected in one house to he defended by a few men, very few in proportion to the number of the enemy about to attack them. They, however, were well acquainted with the tactics of Indian warfare and the use of their arms. Every man had full confidence in himself and his fellows. Now preparations were made for a siege or an assault. Every instrument of death which could be found was put in requisition, prepared in the best manner and placed where it could be most readily seized when wanted. A strict watch was kept through the night, but no enemy had yet appeared. The second day passed off in like manner. On the second night most of the men went to the second story, having slept none for nearly forty-eight hours. In the latter part of the night they became drowsy and when daylight began to appear were all in a profound sleep. Only three men were on the lower door, — Hammon, one of the spies, a white servant and a black servant of Colonel Donally. At daybreak the white servant opened the door, that he might bring in some firewood. He had gone but a few steps from the house when he was shot down. The Indians now sprang from their concealment in the edge of the rye-field near to the house, and rushing in a body, attempted to enter the door.*
[*Colonel Stewart says that there was kind of a stockade fort around the house and that it was the kitchen door which the Indians attacked.]
Hammon and the black servant Dick made an effort to secure it, but failing in this they placed their shoulders against a hogshead of water which stood behind, and which they had drawn nearer to the door. But the Indians commenced chopping with their tomahawks and had actually cut through the door and were also pressing to force it open. Having already made a partial opening, Dick fearing that they might succeed in gaining their purpose, left Hammon at his post and seizing a musket which stood near, loaded with heavy slugs, discharged it through the opening among the crowd. The Indians now fell back and the door was secured. By this time the men on the second story had shaken of their slumbers and were every man at his post, pouring down the shot upon the enemy. He, finding his quarters too warm, scampered off with all possible speed to a distant point where he could find shelter. One boy alone fell behind. He at the first onset wishing to unite his fortune with that of his seniors, hastened to the door, hoping no doubt to participate in the massacre which he expected to follow, or at least to have the pleasure of witnessing it. Having been disappointed in this and now unable to keep pace with his friends in their retreat and fearing that a ball from the fort might overtake him, he turned aside and sheltered himself in the lower story of an old building which stood near, uttering through the day many dolorous cries and lamentations. One of the garrison, who knew something of the Indian tongue, invited him into the fort with an assurance of safety. But he, doubtless, suspected in others what he would be likely to practice himself, and what the whites had already practiced on the noble-hearted Cornstalk and his fellow sufferers, and declined the invitation, and awaiting the darkness of the night escaped to his friends. The Indians continued to fire on the Fort occasionally during the day, and succeeded in killing one man through a crevice in the wall.*
[*Colonel Stewart says that this man’s name was Graham and that they also killed James Burns and Alexander Ochiltree early in the morning as they were coming to the house.]
At this time the population of Greenbrier was composed of isolated settlements, separated by intervals of uncultivated country. The settlement near to Fort Donnally, called the Meadows, did not at this time contain many inhabitants. On the first alarm, a messenger was sent to the Lewisburg settlement, fifteen or eighteen miles distant. This messenger was the person killed on the next morning after he returned to Donally’s as he went out to get firewood. By the activity of Col. Samuel Lewis and Col. John Stewart, a force of sixty or seventy armed men was ready to march on the third morning, the very morning on which the fort was attacked. They, to avoid any ambush of the enemy, left the direct road and took a circuitous route, and when they arrived opposite the fort turned across and concealing themselves by passing through a rye-field, all entered with safety. There was now much room for congratulation that the garrison had bravely defended themselves, and that they were now so much strengthened that they could bid defiance to their enemies. The Indians now saw themselves baffled and disappointed. They had made a long journey with the avowed purpose of avenging the death of their chiefs. They now determined to raise the siege and return home. Dejected and chagrined, their number diminished, encumbered with the wounded, they retreated with slow and melancholy reluctance. For some years now the Indians had been unsuccessful on the frontier of Virginia. [1774.] They were roughly handled and driven back into their own country. [1777.] Their chiefs were murdered, and now  they were beaten off with loss* and disgrace.
[*The amount of their loss was not ascertained, nor their whole number. Col. Stewart says, "seventeen of the enemy lay dead in the yard when we got in." They may have taken the scalps of Burns and Ochiltree mentioned in a previous note.]
Not a scalp as a trophy of bravery, not a prisoner whom they might immolate to quiet the manes of their deceased friends.
Although the enemy retreated slowly, the garrison did not think themselves strong enough to pursue. The inhabitants now returned to their homes without apprehension of danger.
But where are the spies? What has been done for them? When one of the most illustrious monarchs of the East had discovered a plot against his own life, wishing to reward the individual who had disclosed the treason, he enquired of his chief counsellor, " What shall be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor?" The counsellor in substance replied as follows, that the greatest honor which royalty could bestow, consistent with its own sovereignty and independence, should be conferred on the man whom the king delighted to honor. In accordance with this advice, a royal decree was issued and the same counsellor was charged with its execution and it was executed in the most public manner. Among the Romans civic honors were decreed to him who had saved the life of a citizen. These honors were the greatest which the government had in its power to bestow. Here we see that two of the greatest empires that the world has ever seen, bestowed the highest honors on him who saved the life of another. But what was the conduct of these spies? They subjected themselves to fatigue and privation and peril during a journey on foot of little less than two hundred miles, through a mountainous, uninhabited wilderness, to save from destruction not one or two or a few individuals, but a whole community, the entire population of Greenbriar and they were successful. And what reward have they received? None either honorary or pecuniary. Certain it is that for some time after the attack on fort Donally their names were mentioned with much eclat and no doubt the inhabitants of Greenbriar would exercise toward them their usual courtesy and hospitality. But gratitude is not a perennial plant. Did the government reward them? At that time the government of Virginia was fully occupied in defending her Eastern frontier against a foreign enemy. But had the case of the spies been represented to the legislature, their names would have been recorded with honorable mention of their services and themselves made pensioners For life. The black servant, Dick, was more fortunate. His case came before the legislature and his freedom was decreed. It is pleasing to know, that Dick lived near threescore years after this, respected for his industry, probity and other civic virtues.
But to return to the savages: their desire of revenge was not yet satiated. The manes of their slaughtered chiefs had not yet been quieted. No doubt they reproached themselves with their dilatory performance of the paramount duty of retaliation.
"Whilst great Cornstalk’s shade complained that they were slow.
And Red-Hawk’s ghost walked unrevenged amongst them."
Hoping for better fortune, they now turned their arms against the infant settlement of Kentucky, in which they were lamentably successful. At the Blue Licks fell many of the flower of the population. Many too were destroyed in boats descending the Ohio river and much property was lost. For many years this destructive mode of war continued. The campaigns of Harmer and St. Clair gave but little respite; in the latter of these, Kentucky again lost some of her bravest sons. The establishment of a chain of posts from Cincinnati to Lake Erie; the victory gained by the United States troops under General Wayne, near to Detroit, over a confederacy of Indian tribes; and a treaty of peace with those tribes, which soon followed, at least gave repose to the frontier settlements. The wise, liberal and pacific policy of Washington and most of his successors toward the Indian nations; and the frequent purchases from different tribes of Indians of larger portions of their lands for pecuniary considerations; and the establishment of strong garrisons of United States troops in different parts of the Western country; – have done much to check wars between the tribes of Indians, and to present their assaults upon the white settlements. The surrender of fort Detroit also had a similar tendency. No serious injury was ever apprehended from the Western Indians, after the victory achieved by General Wayne, unless when confederated with some foreign power. By the extinguishment of Indian titles to their lands, tribes and remnants of tribes have been seen every year removing Westward, choosing rather the neighborhood of the beaver and buffalo, than that of the white man. And what is now the situation of that country? And what was its situation when Wayne gained his victory? Could any one of the thousands of his army possessing the most vivid, or if you please, the most eccentric imagination, have been able to command a full view of the countries bounded by the Ohio, the Mississippi and the great lakes, could such an one have anticipated the results that hare since taken place? Then that whole region was claimed and possessed by hordes of lawless, half-starved savages, gaining a meagre subsistence by the chase and delighting in blood and plunder. Could such an one have supposed, that in less than half a century the whole of this wide-spread region would be inhabited by a civilized population in the full tide of prosperity? In a very few years after Wayne’s victory, emigrants from the Northern States, from Virginia. Kentucky and other portions of our country covered most of the Eastern part of this large region. Where erewhile had the Indian wigwam and encampments, now might be seen farm-houses, barns and other buildings; plantations laid off into fields, all those grains and grasses and domestic animals which contribute so much to the subsistence and comfort of man; verdant pastures, flowering meadows, bending orchards and yellow harvest-fields of luxuriant grain surpassing in beauty all other crops. Also were distributed over the country work-shops in which various mechanical occupations were pursued for domestic purposes. The enterprise of the citizens was evident too from their eagerness in accomplishing facilities for intercourse between different parts of the State and also with other States, such as canals, roads, &c., which received their early attention. Villages and towns too have sprung up with great rapidity, and cities, which vie in splendor, magnitude and commercial riches with those of the Atlantic States. Schools also and academies and colleges and churches and learned societies and periodical publications and printing establishments, everywhere to be found, show the taste of the people for improvement. The country from the fertility of its soil and industry of its inhabitants, besides supplying the wants of a numerous population, yields an immense surplus for exportation The trade on the rivers and lakes is chiefly in vessels of magnitude, equal to those that traverse the Atlantic, propelled not by wind, or tide, or current, but moving often with great velocity and with heavy burthens, in a direction contrary to all these forces and entirely overcoming them — and this by an invention of modern origin and entirely American. This immense region of country extending from the Ohio to the great Lakes and to the Mississippi on the West, is now covered by a civilized population and divided into four separate independent republican governments, each managing its own internal concerns and each united with the other States of the American Union, for general purposes. Can any man review the state of things in that immense region from the pear 1794 until the present time and cease to wonder at the unaccountable transformations that have taken place in the face of the country, population and improvements? Very similar great changes have taken place in the great States of Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri, nearly in the same time and from the same causes. Nothing appears more extraordinary, unless it be that the great valley of the Mississippi should have remained so totally unknown until the close of the 18th century.
Copy of a letter written by the late Colonel Andrew Lewis,* of Montgomery county, Virginia, to the author of the preceding Memoir from the original communicated to me together with the Memoir, and now in my possession. [*He died in 1844.]
"Sir, your letter of the 27th March, I received a few days ago. The extract you mention did not come to hand, which I am sorry for. The whole proceeding relative to the campaign of 1774 was familiar to me some years past, but no doubt some of it may now escape my memory. So far as I can recollect I will give you. Governor Dunmore, a Scotchman, was the commander in-chief. My father, General Andrew Lewis, had the command of all the troops from this quarter. Col. Charles Lewis commanded the Augusta troops; Col. William Fleming the Botetourt troops; Col. William Christian the Montgomery troops; all of which were to rendezvous at what was then called the Big Savannah, at or near the place where Lewisburg now stands [in] Greenbrier. My father and three of my brothers were in the action. John Lewis, his eldest son, commanded a company; Samuel and Thomas were privates. While encamped at the Savannah, General Lewis received orders from Dunmore to meet him at Point Pleasant on the 2nd day of October. Col. Christian’s troops had not arrived at the place of rendezvous early enough for my father to comply with his orders. He therefore was compelled to leave Christian’s command, with orders for Christian to march on as soon as possible to Point Pleasant, as soon as his troops arrived. General Lewis arrived at Point Pleasant as well as I recollect, on the 2nd day of October, at which place Dunmore never appeared. My father’s force was then from 1000 to 1200 men. The spies were out from the 2nd of October and made no discovery of the enemy. On the morning of the 10th day, of October, before day, two men–a Mr. Robinson and another whose name I have forgotten,–started from the encampment so as to get far enough from the camp before it was daylight, to travel off the bells of the packhorses and bullocks, to hunt. Those two men fell in with the Indians up the Ohio. One of them was killed; the other made his escape into camp. General Lewis ordered out his brother Col. Charles Lewis with three hundred men, expecting as the spies had made no discovery of the approach of the Indians, that it was a small party, as small parties had been frequently seen watching the movements of the army, from the time it marched from the Savannah. Col. Christian with his command arrived at the camp Point Pleasant on the night of the same day of the action. Col. Charles Lewis had but just passed the out-guard when [he met] the Indians and about sun-rise the action commenced and was one constant peal of firing until about eleven o’clock in the day, when the Indians began to give way. Their retreat was not more than three miles, when night ended the conflict. They were obliged to keep it up until night to get their wounded off. The number of Indians found dead on the battle-ground was between twenty and thirty. They were discovered throwing their dead into the Ohio all the day. Col. Charles Lewis was wounded early in the action, but did not let his wound be known until he got his line of battle extended from the bank of the Ohio to Crooked creek, a branch of Kanawha. He then asked one of his soldiers to let him lean on him to the camp, and died about twelve o’clock. He had been a very fortunate Indian hunter and was much lamented. Whether the killed of the Indians were buried or not I cannot say. Col. John Stewart, late of Greenbrier, who commanded a company, and was in the action, wrote a narrative of the expedition, the best which I have seen. I think I had it, but cannot lay my hands on it. In his narrative, as well as every other account, every fifth man in the army was killed or wounded, Col. Charles Lewis killed, Col. William Fleming wounded severely, Capt. Robert McClanahan killed, Capt. Thomas Buford do., John F– do., Col. Fields do., Samuel Lewis wounded slightly, General Lewis had to erect a fort immediately at the junction of the Ohio and Kanawha for the protection of the wounded, the command of which was given to Capt. Arbuckle with his company. All this time nothing was heard from Dunmore. So soon as the wounded were thus protected, General Lewis crossed the Ohio and marched for the Scioto, where the Cornstalk lived, who was the king of the Shawnees. On Thursday the governor sent several expresses to General Lewis to return. All the army almost had lost relations,–the General a favorite brother. They could not be stopped. After the battle the Indians immediately ran to the Governor. After two or three expresses to stop the army, the governor came himself with two or three Indians with him. General Lewis had to double and triple the guard over his marquee, to prevent the men from killing the governor and the Indians. The whole force of the indians was formed on the bank of the Scioto, to give battle if the army could not be stopt. I do not know of any of the chiefs besides the Cornstalk but the Blue Jacket, a Shawnee chief, who was known to be at the governor’s camp on the 9th of October, and in the battle on the 1Oth. On the day of battle, Dunmore and a Col. O’Connelly were walking together, afterwards a noted tory. The governor observed to him that Lewis had hot work about that time of day. He evidently intended General Lewis’ army to be cut off and if you could see Col. Stewart’s narrative it would convince you and every other man that the battle at Point Pleasant was the first blood shed in the revolutionary war, and that it was the old Scotch villain’s intention to cut off Lewis’ army. Old Col. Shelby and his son, the late governor of Kentucky, were in the battle, but I know nothing, as I never heard that Shelby was sent to outflank the enemy. He was a fine officer, whatever he was told to do he would execute. The distance from the battle to Dunmore’s camp probably ten or twelve miles. General Lewis was never ordered to cross the river, nor was there any treaty made until the spring after the battle. General Lewis held a treaty with them, in which they were bound to keep hostages of their chiefs at the fort Point Pleasant, when the Cornstalk in his capacity as a hostage was inhumanly butchered. I have heard my father often speak of his being the most dignified looking man, particularly in council he ever saw. I am getting rusty in what passed sixty-six years ago.
Respectfully your ob’t serv’t,
S. L. CAMPBELL, Esq., M. D.
P. S.–SIR, I could not make a letter fully answer your request. You ask when did General Lewis receive orders to cross the river? He received no orders from the governor after he left the encampment in Greenbriar. So soon as a fort was erected for the protection of the wounded, he crossed the river and marched for the Scioto, where the Shawnees then lived. You ask where the governor’s head-quarters were on the day of battle. They were supposed to be ten or twelve miles distant. General Lewis never did arrive at the Governor’s head-quarters. There was no treaty made until the spring after the battle when General Lewis held a treaty with the Indians that composed the six nations, Shawnees, Delawares, Mingoes and others. In the treaty made by General Lewis with those nations, they were compelled to keep of their chiefs so many hostages at the fort Point Pleasant, and the Cornstalk their king, while a hostage at the fort, was inhumanly butchered. The fort at first was created merely for the protection of the wounded, but by orders of the State it was thought proper to continue or keep it up for the protection of the frontiers. I cannot say how long it was kept up. I was at Point Pleasant in the fall of 1784. There was but little or no sign of the fort then to be seen. Yours,
Transcribed and submitted by Valerie F. Crook
December 12, 1998