THE BATTLE OF POINT PLEASANT KENTUCKY OPENED FOR SETTLEMENT
Immediately after Mooney gave the alarm, Colonel Andrew Lewis called his men to arms. He believed the report as to the number of Indians was exaggerated, and that it was only a scouting party. So believing, instead of advancing with his entire force, he ordered two detachments to be formed, to be made up of select men from each company, and each detachment to have one hundred and fifty men. As soon as the detachments were formed they went in quest of the Indians. Colonel Charles Lewis lead the Augusta detachment, and had with him Captains Dickinson, Harrison and Skidmore. Colonel William Fleming" led the Botetourt and Fincastle men, and had with him Captains Shelby, Russell, Buford, and Love. When the advance began, the Augusta line marched on the right near the foot of the hills, and the Botetourt and Fincastle line marched on the left, moving up the Ohio River, keeping at a distance of about two hundred yards from the stream. The advance was made briskly, and when about three-fourths of a mile from the camp, the sun being one hour high, the detachment led by Colonel Charles Lewis came in contact with the enemy. The Indians fired a few shots, killing the two white scouts that were in advance of the columns. This was quickly followed with heavy firing by the concealed enemy on the right, which extended instantly to the left; and the two detachments of white men became hotly engaged in deadly strife with their hated savage foes.
The attack made by the Indians was both fast and furious, and was met with equal fury by the enraged white men. Hearing the heavy clash of resounding firearms, Colonel Andrew Lewis realized that he had made a mistake in his estimate of the number of the attacking enemy; and he sent Colonel Field hurriedly to the front with a reinforcement of two hundred men. Early in the engagement Colonel Charles Lewis was mortally wounded, but he remained with his men until the line was substantially formed. He had not "taken to a tree," that is, used a tree for protection, but was standing on a clear piece of ground, cheering his men and urging them to advance, and wearing a scarlet waistcoat - a fine target for the Indians. Finding that the wound was serious, he handed his gun to a man near him, remarked to his men, "I am wounded, but go on and be brave," walked unassisted back to the camp, and died in a few, hours thereafter.
Soon after Colonel Charles Lewis was forced to retire from the field of battle, Colonel Fleming was desperately wounded. Two balls passed through his left arm, and one entered his breast. After encouraging his men with a calm voice to press on to victory, he retired to the camp, and was thought to be mortally wounded. At this time the Indians on the firing line, which extended for more than a mile from the foot hills toward the river, greatly exceeded the Virginians in number; and they succeeded in forcing the white men on the right of the line to retreat 150 or 250 yards. Colonel Fleming had rallied and reformed the line just before he was wounded; and then Colonel Field came upon the scene of conflict with reinforcements. As ranking officer, after the retirement from the field of Colonels Lewis and Fleming on account of their wounds, Colonel Field assumed command of the entire line. He was soon supported by additional troops sent forward by Colonel Andrew Lewis. The additional reinforcements were lead by Captains McDowell, Matthews, and Stuart from Augusta; and Captains John Lewis, Pauling, Arbuckle, and McClannahan from Botetourt. With the lines so substantially reinforced, the Virginians moved forward; and not only recovered the ground they had lost but began to drive the enemy back and up the river. The Indians were forced back until they got in line with the Fincastle troops that Colonel Fleming had left in action when he was compelled to retire from the battle. While the Indians were falling back, Colonel Field was killed. He was standing behind a tree, trying to get a shot at an Indian on his left who was attracting his attention by laughing and jeering at him. While Field's attention was thus diverted, he was shot by two Indians who were concealed behind logs on his right. There being no other field officer in the engagement, the command of all the lines devolved upon Captain Evan Shelby, who was senior captain among the surviving commissioned officers.
From the commencement of the battle, which began about an hour after sunrise, until twelve o'clock the conflict was waged with unceasing vigor by both the white men and the red men. The hostile lines, though more than a mile long, were in such close contact, being separated not more than twenty yards that numerous single combats were engaged in by the combatants. In these encounters, either the Indian or the white man would single out a foeman worthy of his steel, and the two would join in a hand-to-hand struggle; and with tomahawk and scalping knife fight until one, or both, of the combatants fell. An encounter of this kind took place between William Bowen and an Indian of powerful statue; and the stalwart man from Tazewell vanquished his savage adversary.
After twelve o'clock the fighting became less violent; but Isaac Shelby declared it "continued sharp enough until one o'clock." The Indians about midday tried to slip around the right flank of the Virginians and get to the camp. This effort was defeated by the whites, who in turn outflanked the enemy, and forced the Indians to fall back on their entire line. They used their best men to cover their retreat but were so hard pressed that they had to leave a number of their dead on the field, something very unusual for the red men to do. About one o'clock, while retreating, the Indians reached "a most advantageous spot of ground," from which, as was concluded by Captain Evan Shelby and the other officers, it would be very difficult and dangerous to dislodge them. This resulted in the lines of both the whites and the Indians remaining, as they were then formed, sufficiently near each other to continue the fighting; and the firing was kept up, with advantage to the white men, until sunset. During the night the Indians made a skillful retirement across the Ohio, carrying their wounded with them and throwing many of their dead into the river.
The Virginians, though greatly exhausted, and deeply grieved by the losses they had sustained of gallant officers and men, were content with the result of the battle. They enjoyed the proud satisfaction of knowing that none of their men, save poor Hickman, had been scalped by the Indians; but that the white men had taken nearly twenty scalps from their dead foes.
When a list of the casualties the Virginians had suffered in the battle was made, it was found that of the Augusta line Colonel Charles Lewis, Colonel John Field, Captain Samuel Wilson, Lieutenant Hugh Allen, and eighteen privates had been killed; and that Captains John Dickinson and John Skidmore, Lieutenants Samuel Vance and Laird, and fifty-one privates of the same line
had been wounded. It was found that of the Botetourt, Bedford and Fincastle men, Captains John Murray, Robert McClannahan, James Ward, and Thomas Buford, Lieutenants Matthew Bracken, and Edward Goldman, Ensign John Cundiff, and seventeen privates were killed; and Colonel William Fleming, Lieutenant James Robinson and thirty-five privates were wounded.
At the request of Colonel Andrew Lewis, the casualties of the battle, as above enumerated, were forwarded to Colonel William Preston by Colonel William Christian, and are, therefore, official. From this report it appears that eleven officers and thirty privates were killed, a total of forty-six. And that six officers and eighty-six privates were wounded, a total of ninety-two. Lieutenant Isaac Shelby wrote his uncle John that about forty-six were killed and about eighty were wounded. Shelby also reported that "five men that came in Daddy's Company were Killed."
There is an existing roll of Captain Shelby's company, but none of Captain Russell's. But from a daily report of the forces commanded by Colonel Fleming the day before the battle at Point Pleasant, it appears that Shelby had 44 men fit for duty and Russell 41. The brief accounts of the engagement given by Colonel Christian and others do not tell whether any of the men from Clinch Valley were killed. These reports do show, however, that Russell's company was in the engagement from the time the first volley was fired until the fight was ended, and that they were in the thickest of the fray. From available records it is shown that six men from the territory of the present Tazewell County were in the battle. They were the three Bowen brothers, William, Rees and Moses Bowen; and David Ward, Robert Cravens, and Lyles Dolsberry.
After Colonel Andrew Lewis marched from Camp Union, the troops he left at that place were joined by three more companies from Fincastle County. They were commanded, respectively, by Captains John Floyd, James Harrod, and William Herbert, which made the contingent from the county complete. The Fincastle men were so eager to participate in the Ohio campaign, that their commander, Colonel Christian, determined to break camp at Camp Union and follow Lewis down the Kanawha, This course was followed on the 27th of September, and. after an eight days' march. Christian with his troops arrived at Elk Creek on the 5th day of October. On the 6th day of October, he began his march from Elk Creek to the mouth of the Kanawha; and on the 10th, when about twelve or fifteen miles from Point Pleasant, he was met by scouts and informed that the army had been attack-d that morning by a large body of Indians, and that the battle was still raging. Thereupon, Colonel Christian pushed on with his troops and arrived upon the scene about midnight. He got there too late for the battle; but not too late to assist in giving comfort to the wounded and suffering, and fresh hope to the men who confidently expected the conflict would be renewed the following morning.
Colonel Fleming, in a journal he kept of special incidents of the campaign, thus, in part, describes features of the battle: "The enemy wherever they met with an advantageous piece of ground in their retreat made a resolute stand, during which some of them were employed to move their dead, dying and wounded. In the afternoon they had gained such an advantageous post that it was thought imprudent to attempt to dislodge them, and firing ceased on both sides about half an hour before sunset. From this place the enemy made a final retreat and crossed the Ohio with their wounded. Some of their dead were slightly covered in the field of battle, some were dragged down and thrown into the Ohio, and others they had scalped themselves to prevent our people. Whilst this passed in the field, Colo. Lewis was fully employed in camp, in sending necessary reinforcements where wanted on the different quarters. The troops were encamped on the banks of the New River and Ohio, extending up both Rivers near a half mile. The joint betwixt the rivers was full of large trees and very brushy. From the furtherest extent of the tents on both rivers, he (Colonel Lewis) cleared a line across, and with the brush and trees made a breastwork and lined it with the men that were left in camp."
An Englishman, named Smyth, who falsely claimed to have been a participant in the engagement, in writing about the battle, accused Colonel Andrew Lewis of cowardice, because he did not adopt the tactics of Braddock and Grant, rush to the front and fight the Indians in the open; and others, who were jealous of Lewis, were disposed to repeat the unjust accusation. The testimony of Colonel Fleming, and the previous and subsequent record of Andrew Lewis prove that he was one of the bravest of the brave men of his day. Roosevelt, in his "Winning Of the West," says: "It was purely a soldiers' battle, won by hard individual fighting; there was no display of generalship, except on Cornstalk's part."
With all due respect for Colonel Roosevelt's aptness as a military leader, he is greatly at fault in his estimate of the management of the battle by the commander of the army and of the leadership of the officers who executed his orders. From the report of Mooney. of Russell's company, and that of the two men of Shelby's company, Lewis was uncertain as to the number of Indians that were advancing for an attack, or what the nature of the attack would be. Believing that the attacking force was nothing more than a large scouting party sent across the Ohio to hold him on the south side of the river while Dunmore's division was engaged on the other side of the Ohio, he sent forward two divisions, each having one hundred and fifty picked men, to meet the advancing foe and ascertain their strength. Then, as a wise precaution, he proceeded to fortify the camp, in the manner described by Colonel Fleming; and when he found that a really large body of Indians was making the attack, he quickly sent ample reinforcements to support the two divisions that had been first dispatched to the front. He knew the character of the ground he was camping on, with its many advantages for the Indians in their well known peculiar methods of fighting; and, so knowing, he showed both excellent judgment and the skill of a trained frontiersman in the management of the battle.
That the Indians were confident they would be the victors was manifested by their conduct before they made an attack, and during the progress of the battle. When they crossed the Ohio they carried with them their deer skins, blankets and other kinds of goods; and also brought along their boys and squaws. It was intended that the boys and squaws should follow the warriors as they drove the pale faces back and club the wounded whites to death; and thus help to win the fight quickly. They expected to drive the white men into the Ohio and the Kanawha; and to prevent their escape across these rivers had placed lines of their braves on the opposite sides of the streams to shoot the whites as they attempted to cross. The courage and defiance of the Indians was beyond anything the old Indian fighters had ever witnessed. Their chiefs ran continually along the lines, exhorting their men to "lie close" and "shoot well," to "fight and be strong," while their men over the Ohio called to them to "drive the white dogs in." Cornstalk's splendid voice could be heard above the din of the conflict as he urged his comrades on to battle.
The day after the battle was fought, large ranging parties were sent out to locate the Indians. Finding that the enemy had retreated across the Ohio, the scouting parties returned to the camp. On the 12th the cattle and horses that had been dispersed and that strayed during the fight were collected. Colonel Fleming in his Orderly Book says: "This day the Scalps of the Enemy were collected and found to be 17. They were dressed and hung upon a pole near the river bank & the plunder was collected & found to be 23 Guns 80 Blankets 27 Tomahawks with Match coats, Skins, shot pouches, powderhorns, war-clubs &c. The Tomahawks Guns & Shot pouches were sold & amounted to near 100 pounds."
On the 13th of October, the scouts or messengers that had been sent to notify Lord Dunmore of the battle and victory returned. They brought orders for Colonel Lewis to cross the Ohio and to march toward the Shawnee towns; and to join his Lordship at a certain place, afterwards known to be the Pickaway Plains. The 14th, 15th, and 16th, the men in camp were kept busily occupied finishing a storehouse, and erecting a breastwork, which latter was raised two logs high, with part of a bastion. Leaving the sick and wounded, with a sufficient force to hold and protect the camp against small bands of the enemy, Colonel Lewis crossed the Ohio on the 17th with about one thousand men, and proceeded on his way to join Dunmore and his army.
The defeat they had encountered so completely broke the spirit of the Indians that, as soon as they reached their towns, a council of the head-men and chiefs was called and held, to see if a favorable treaty could not be made with the Virginians. Cornstalk, who had, at the council which met immediately before hostilities commenced, earnestly opposed the war, at the present council as vigorously opposed making peace with the whites. He was a splendid orator, but all his eloquent appeals to his fellow-chiefs were made in vain. He urged them, if necessary, to kill all their women and children, and that they sacrifice their own lives, fighting till the last man fell, rather than yield to the Long Knives. Failing to win their consent for a continuation of the war, disgusted with their cowardice, he struck his tomahawk into the war post, and declared that he would go to Dunmore and make peace for the cravens. To this proposition, prompt and unanimous approval was given; and Cornstalk with his fellow-chiefs repaired to Dunmore's camp.
Soon after the chiefs reached Lord Dunmore's camp, he sent a messenger to inform Colonel Lewis that he was engaged in a peace parley with the Indians, and ordered him to halt with his forces and to go into camp. Dunmore feared that, if the Virginians came to his camp while the Indians were there, Colonel Lewis would not be able to control his men, who were enraged at the loss of such a large number of their esteemed officers and comrades in the recent battle; and that they would murder the chiefs while they were engaged in the peace conference. His Lordship, however, invited Colonel Lewis, and such of his officers as he chose to select, to visit the camp and take part in the peace negotiations.
The invitation was declined in such terms as to convince Dunmore that Colonel Lewis, and his officers, and the men in the ranks, had not made the long and severe march from their distant homes to the mouth of the Kanawha, and fought the bloody battle at Point Pleasant to accomplish nothing more than an uncertain peace with the savages, a peace which Dunmore had been seeking from the moment he left Pittsburg. The mountaineers from Fincastle County wanted to go on to the Shawnee towns and do what Colonel Preston had promised them should be done, that is, plunder and burn the Shawnee towns, destroy their corn fields, take their "great stock of horses," and force the people to abandon their country, or kill them. And the men from the Holston and Clinch valleys were eager to march on and avenge the cruel outrages that had been committed, since they left their homes, upon their neighbors and kindred by Shawnee and Mingo scalping parties.
The governor then concluded a treaty of peace with the Indians. Being disturbed over the attitude of Lewis and his men, his Lordship laid aside his dignity, mounted his horse and rode to Lewis' camp. He informed Lewis that a treaty had been agreed upon, and that its terms were such as would protect the inhabitants of the regions west of the Alleghanies. Then he told Lewis that the presence of himself and army could be of no further service, but might be a hindrance to the conclusion of the treaty; and ordered him to march home with his forces. It is said that Colonel Lewis was greatly concerned for the safety of Governor Dunmore while he was visiting his camp. The soldiers were so angry on account of being ordered to return home just as they had gotten where they could strike and punish their foes, that Lewis thought it best to double or treble the guards about his tent while the governor was visiting him. Dunmore and his party remained in the camp that night. The next day he called the captains together, told them what he had done, and requested them to return home with their men; and that day the return march was begun.
The terms of the treaty, as briefly reported by Governor Dunmore to the secretary of state for the colonies, were: "That the Indians should deliver up all prisoners without reserve; that they should not hunt on our Side the Ohio, nor molest any Boats passing thereupon; That they should promise to agree to such regulations for their trade with our People, as should be hereafter dictated by the Kings Instructions, and that they Should deliver into our hands certain Hostages, to be Kept by us until we were convinced of their Sincere intention to adhere to all these Articles. The Indians finding, contrary to their expectation, no punishment likely to. follow, agreed to every thing with the greatest alacrity, and gave the most Solemn assurances of their quiet and peaceable deportment for the future: and in return I have given them every promise of protection and good treatment on our side."
Apparently the provisions of the treaty were reasonable and just for both the Virginians and the Indians; but, for some unknown reason, the Mingo's refused to accept its terms. It may be that they were influenced to take this course by Logan, their famous chief, who was not present at the preliminary conference that negotiated the treaty. He had just gotten back to the Mingo towns from his bloody scalping expedition to the Holston and Clinch valleys; and had brought with him the little Roberts boy, captured on Reedy Creek when the Roberts family was massacred, and also the two negroes he had captured at Moore's Fort. From contemporary reports, it is known that he also had a large number of scalps, possibly as many as thirty, dangling at his belt when he returned from this expedition. It is probable the scalps of Mrs. Henry and her children, who were murdered in Thompson Valley, were part of Logan's trophies.
Provoked by the refusal of the Mingo's to accept the treaty, Lord Dunmore sent Major William Crawford with a force of two hundred and fifty men to the nearest Mingo town to inflict such punishment upon the recalcitrant's as would bring them into submission. A night attack was made upon the town and five of the Indians were killed; and fourteen, chiefly women and children, were taken prisoners, the balance of the inhabitants escaping under cover of the night. The town was destroyed with the torch; and a considerable amount of booty was brought away, which was sold for three hundred and five pounds and fifteen shillings, and divided among Crawford's men. George Rodgers Clark, who a few years later was the leader of the famous expedition that made conquest of the Illinois country, was with Crawford when the disgraceful attack was made upon the Mingo town.
Logan had proudly and defiantly refused to attend any of the peace conferences, or give his assent to the terms of the treaty. Finally he ceased to oppose peace, but declined to avow whether or not he would continue his acts of hostility against the whites. Dunmore made several futile efforts to get an interview with the proud Indian chief; and at last decided to reach him and find out his intentions through a special messenger. He selected for the mission his interpreter, John Gibson, who was the reputed husband of Logan's sister that had been brutally murdered by Greathouse and Baker at the Yellow Creek massacre. Gibson went to the Indian town and Logan agreed to talk privately with his brother-in-law, and took him aside for an interview. The outraged chief, with fervid eloquence, delivered a message for the governor that has since been pronounced one of the most classic and dramatic orations that can be found in the literature of any country. Gibson, who was an educated man, wrote it down while Logan was engaged in its delivery, and it is as follows:
"I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan's cabin hungry and he gave him not meat; if ever he came cold and naked and he clothed him not? During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his camp, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites that my countrymen pointed as I passed and said, 'Logan is the friend of the white man.' I had even thought to have lived with you but for the injuries of one man. Colonel Cresap, the last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it. I have killed many. I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country I rejoice at the beams of peace; but do not harbor a 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."
When Gibson returned to the camp with the message, Lord Dunmore assembled his soldiers and scouts, among the latter were Michael Cresap and George Rodgers Clark, and read the speech to them. Its beauty and pathos so impressed the rugged frontiersmen that they constantly strived to remember and repeat it. Cresap, whom Logan still believed was the murderer of his sister and brother, though he was guiltless, was so mortified and enraged by its recital that he threatened to tomahawk Greathouse, who was the real perpetrator of the hideous crime.
In after years the geniuses of the speech was assailed, some writers asserting that it was the production of John Gibson or some other white man. Thomas Jefferson investigated, with his usual care, the authorship, and, in his Notes on Virginia, not only attributes it to Logan, but commends the beautiful eloquence of the Indian chief. Theodore Roosevelt, also a careful investigator, in his Winning of the West, declares it was spoken by Logan. The style is entirely distinct from that used by the white men of that period, and neither Dunmore, nor any white man who was with him, had the peculiar talent for composing such a production. In thought and expression it bears the unmistakable impress of the child of nature.
The Mingo chief, whose life was a tragedy, was the most pathetic figure among the American Indians that were known to the early white settlers. His father was a French child that was captured by the Indians and adopted into the Oneida tribe; and who, when he grew to manhood, was made a chief by the Indians that lived in the Susquehanna Valley. Logan's mother belonged to the Mingo or Cayuga tribe, which was a branch of the Iroquois Nation. His Indian name was Tah-gah-jute, and he took the name Logan from his friend James Logan, who was secretary for Pennsylvania, and for a long time acted as governor of that province. Logan lived in Pennsylvania until 1770, when he moved to Ohio. At the time of Dunmore's War he was living at old Chillicothe, now Westfall, on the west bank of the Sciota River. He had always been the faithful friend of the white people, but the murder of his kindred made him an everlasting foe of the white race. His last home was at Detroit, where he was killed in a drunken brawl in 1780. Quoting from a historian of the period, Howe says: "For magnanimity in war, and greatness of soul in peace, few, if any, in any nation ever surpassed Logan. His form was striking and manly, his countenance calm and noble, and he spoke the English language with fluency and correctness."
Dunmore's War and the battle of Point Pleasant were of such moment to the pioneer settlers of the Clinch Valley, I have felt constrained to write freely about the most important incidents connected therewith. The treaty of peace made by Dunmore with the Ohio Indians, after they had been vanquished by the Virginia mountaineers, gave assurance to the inhabitants of the Clinch Valley that the red men would not, for a time, molest them in their earnest endeavor to clear away the forests and establish comfortable homes for themselves and their descendants. The Shawnees had pledged themselves to make no more invasions of the territory south of the Ohio for either war or hunting purposes. This pledge was not violated until after the Revolution began, when brutal British agents persuaded the Indians to resume hostilities and murder the border settlers.
Colonel Lewis, after parting with Lord Dunmore, marched rapidly and directly back to Point Pleasant, arriving there with his forces on the night of the 20th of October. The following day a large detail of men was made for the purpose of completing the fortifications that Lewis had commenced the day the battle was fought. The fort when completed was named Fort Blair; and it was a small rectangle, about eighty yards long, with block-houses at two of its corners. During the absence of the army across the Ohio, a number of wounded had died from their injuries. Colonel Christian in a letter to Colonel Preston reported: "Many of our wounded men died since the accounts of the battle came in. I think there are near 70 dead. Capt. Buford and Lieut. Goldman and 7 or 8 more died whilst we were over the Ohio and more will yet die." Colonel Christian also said: "Colo. Fleming is in a fair way to recover and I think out of danger if he don't catch cold."
Colonel Fleming, who was an accomplished surgeon for that day, had been very severely and supposedly fatally wounded. Two balls struck his left arm below the elbow and broke both bones, and a third entered his breast three inches below the left nipple and lodged in the chest. In a letter to a friend he said: "When I came to be dressed, I found my lungs forced through the wound in my breast, as long as one of my fingers. Watkins tried to reduce them ineffectually. He got some part returned but not the whole. Being in considerable pain, some time afterwards, I got the whole returned by the assistance of one of my attendants. Since which I thank the Almighty I have been in a surprising state of ease. Nor did I ever know such dangerous wounds attended with so little inconvenience." Colonel Fleming did recover from the wounds, but was disabled for active service in Mie Revolutionary War. He afterwards served Virginia in many responsible civil positions, and his death, which occurred Aug. 24th, 1795, was occasioned by the wounds he received at Point Pleasant. The sword he wore in the battle is now a cherished heirloom in the possession of Judge S. M. B. Coulling, of Tazewell, Virginia. Judge Coulling is a great-great-grandson of the valiant soldier and distinguished surgeon.
Soon after the return of the army to Point Pleasant, the troops began to make the homeward journey in small companies. They were eager to get back home, and took the most direct routes to their respective places of residence. The men from the Clinch and Holston did not return by the route they used when they marched to Camp Union and thence to the mouth of the Kanawha. They crossed to the west side of the Kanawha at Point Pleasant and took the most direct course they could find for their homes. The Tazewell men, so far as is known, all got back about the first of November, safe and sound, except John Hickman, who was the first white man killed at Point Pleasant, and Moses Bowen who died on the march home from smallpox. Captain William Russell was left in command of Fort Blair, with a garrison of fifty men who were to remain until a regular garrison could be provided by the General Assembly. It is hardly probable that any of the Tazewell men remained with Russell, as they were still anxious for the safety of their families.
The treaty with the Indians being: satisfactorily concluded, and Lewis' men having gone home, Lord Dunmore started on his return journey to Williamsburg. He arrived there on the 4th of December, was received with much acclaim by the people, and was presented with congratulatory addresses by the city, the College of William and Mary and the Governor's Council. About the time of his arrival, or shortly thereafter, Dunmore received five dispatches, numbered 9, 10, 11, 12. and 13. from the Earl of Dartmouth, then secretary of state for the colonies: and dispatch Number 13 gave the governor very great concern. In this dispatch Dartmouth rebuked Dunmore severely for permitting grants to be issued for lands west of the Alleghany and allowing settlements to be made thereon, which was done in violation of the royal proclamation of 1763 that forbade British citizens settling west of the Alleghany Mountains.
The announced purpose of the proclamation of 1763, was to prevent continued trouble with the Indian tribes who were the allies of the French in the war that had just been terminated. A few years after the royal proclamation was promulgated, the companies that had obtained from the Virginia Government grants for hundreds of thousands of acres west of the Alleghany Mountains, and who had surveyed numerous tracts of land and sold them to prospective settlers, went industriously to work to avoid the terms of the proclamation, by securing an extinguishment of the claims of the various tribes to the lands in the disputed territory. This induced many persons to cross to the territory west of New River and settle on lands purchased from Colonel Patton's representatives, or from the Loyal Company; and others settled on unappropriated boundaries, expecting to perfect their titles under what was called the settlers right or "corn laws." About all the pioneer settlers in the Clinch Valley had come here and located on waste or unappropriated land.
Over in England the mythical belief that the shores of the Pacific Ocean were not far beyond the Alleghany ranges had been dissipated; and through the explorations of Christopher Gist and others it was known that the territory embraced in the charters of Virginia, lying beyond the mountains, was of vast extent and wonderfully valuable for agricultural purposes. This information attracted the attention and aroused the cupidity of certain Englishmen. They devised a plan for getting possession of the extensive region belonging to Virginia west of the mountains, and enriching themselves by selling it in parcels to settlers.
In June, 1769, about the time the settlers began to come to the Clinch Valley and to other localities west of New River, a company of Englishmen and Americans presented a petition to the King of England, asking that they be permitted to purchase and colonize the large boundary in America that had been ceded by the Iroquois Nation to Great Britain by the Fort Stanwix treaty, negotiated in 1768. The company was composed of men of influence, headed by Thomas Walpole; but the scheme was so vigorously opposed that the prayer of the petition was not acted upon until October, 28th, 1773, when the Privy Council ordered that the grant be issued to the petitioners. A new province was to be established to be called Vandalia, and the seat of government was to be located at the mouth of the Great Kanawha, on and about the ground where the battle of Point Pleasant was fought.
But for the disturbances that arose in the American colonies in 1774, and that culminated in the Revolutionary War, the speculative scheme of Walpole and his associates would have taken legal shape. This would have invested Walpole's company with title to all the unoccupied land belonging to Virginia west of the Alleghanies, including the Clinch Valley. And it is more than probable that all the pioneer settlers of the Upper Clinch Valley would have been turned out of their homes, or forced to pay Walpole's company for them, as none of the first settlers had secured regular titles for their lands, and did not perfect them until after the Revolution. It would also have taken authority from the Virginia Council to issue grants for lands west of the mountains; and put an end to the policy of the General Assembly for pushing the frontiers westward by the creation of new counties, as was done by the erection of Botetourt and Fincastle counties.
That Governor Dunmore was secretly favoring the plans of Walpole is shown from his letter to the Earl of Dartmouth, replying to the aforementioned Dispatch "No. 13." It is possible that this was the true reason for the indifferent treatment he extended the Virginia mountaineers whom he had requested to join him in the Ohio campaign. On the 12th of July, 1774, Dunmore wrote a letter to Colonel Andrew Lewis, directing him to go to Ohio with a force of men, to destroy the Indian towns and to show the savages no mercy. The governor said: "All I can now say is to repeat what I have before said which is to advise you by no means to wait any longer for them to Attack you, but to raise all the Men you think willing & Able & go down immediately to the mouth of the Kanhaway & there build a Fort, and if you think you have force enough (that are willing to follow you) to proceed directly to their Towns & if possible destroy their Towns & Magazines and distress them in every way that is possible."
In the face of these specific orders to his subordinates, the governor, immediately after his arrival at Pittsburg, began to take steps to negotiate a peace with all the Ohio tribes, including the Shawnees, without giving Lewis and his brave men opportunity to accomplish the ends for which they had made their laborious and perilous march to the Ohio. Dunmore's conduct in connection with the campaign was so insincere and vacillating that Lewis and his men strongly suspected him of treachery. Howe, in his History of Virginia, says: "Lord Dunmore marched the army in two divisions: the one under Col. Andrew Lewis he sent to the junction of the Great Kanawha with the Ohio, while he himself marched to a higher point on the latter river, with pretended purpose of destroying the Indian towns and joining Lewis at Point Pleasant; but it is believed with the real object of sending the whole Indian force to annihilate Lewis' detachment, and thereby weaken the power and break down the spirit of Virginia." Howe is strongly sustained in his charge of treachery against Dunmore by Colonel John Stuart, who commanded a company of the Augusta men at Point Pleasant, and who wrote a narrative of the battle. Alexander Withers, in his Chronicles of Border Warfare, corroborates Colonel Stuart's accusations. Colonel Stuart was a fellow-countryman of Dunmore, being a native of Scotland, and this adds greater force to his charges of infidelity against the earl.
In his letter to the secretary of state for the colonies, Dunmore made a very earnest effort to convince Dartmouth that he was not only opposed to extending the settlements beyond the limits of the colonies as they stood in 1770, but that he had done everything possible while governor of New York to prevent any such extension. He also protested that he made ineffectual but earnest efforts to prevent further settlements in the territory west of New River that the Cherokees ceded to Virginia by the treaty concluded at Lochaber on the 18th of October, 1770. He was certainly not in sympathy with the men who composed Lewis' army, many of whom had already settled in the forbidden territory; and some of whom, Floyd, Harrod, and others, had been preparing to settle in Kentucky. Dunmore showed his contempt for the pioneers by saying: "They acquire no attachment to Place: But wandering about Seems engrafted in their nature; and it is a weakness incident to it, that they Should forever imagine the Lands further off, are Still better than those upon which they are already Settled."
The Tazewell pioneers were not composed of restless rovers, such as Lord Dunmore describes. They, or their ancestors, had left the old countries to secure that freedom of thought and action which later became the inalienable right of every American citizen. The lands they found here and settled on were so rich and attractive that they knew it was useless to seek anything better "further off." So, they remained, and imparted to their descendants a love for Tazewell soil that has almost become an obsession. In his report to Lord Dartmouth, in explanation of the existing conditions on the Virginia frontiers, Lord Dunmore said:
"In this Colony Proclamations have been published from time to time to restrain them (the frontier settlers): But impressed from their earliest infancy with Sentiments and habits, very different from those acquired by persons of a Similar condition in England, they do not conceive that Government has any right to forbid their taking possession of a Vast tract of Country, either inhabited, or which Serves only as a Shelter to a few Scattered Tribes of Indians. Nor can they be easily brought to entertain any belief of the permanent obligation of Treaties made with those people, whom they consider, as but little removed from the brute Creation."
These utterances of Governor Dunmore very accurately set forth the motives and characteristics of the Tazewell pioneers; but they were not a proper subject for unfavorable comment by an official representative of the government of Great Britain. The British Government, from the time the first settlement was made at Jamestown, had established and followed a policy of aggression and extermination toward the American aborigines. England's title to the immense region now embraced in the United States was based upon the chimerical right of discovery and the brutal principle that might makes right. If treaties were made with the Indians by the British Government, in each and every instance the natives were deceived and defrauded. Such treaties were not made from a sense of moral or legal obligation to the aboriginal inhabitants, but from a selfish desire to make the colonies stronger and prepare them for further encroachments upon the natural rights of the red men. If our ancestors believed that the English King had no right to forbid them taking possession of the Clinch Valley and adjacent territory for their homes, that the treaties made with the Indians were devoid of "permanent obligation," and that the natives were no better than "the brute creation," these convictions had been imbibed from the teachings and practices of the British Government toward both the Indians of America and the inhabitants of the East Indies. We should feel proud of the fact that our pioneer ancestors rested their right to make their homes in the wilderness regions of the Clinch upon the theory that the lands were uninhabited, that they were of "no man's land;" and that they did not look for title to a government that claimed the country by right of conquest or discovery.
Dunmore wrote to Lord Dartmouth that there were "three considerations" he wished to offer for his Majesty's approval: "The first is, to Suffer these Emigrants to hold their Lands of, and incorporate with the Indians; the dreadful Consequences of which may be easily foreseen, and which I leave to your Lordships Judgment. The Second, is to permit them to form a Set of Democratical Governments of their own, upon the backs of the old Colonies; a Scheme which, for obvious reasons, I apprehend cannot be allowed to be carried into execution. The last is, that which I proposed to your Lordship, to receive persons in their Circumstances, under the protection of Some of His Majesty's Governments already established, and, in giving this advice, I had no thought of bringing a Dishonor upon the Crown."
These suggestions offered by the governor of the Virginia province, through the secretary of state for the colonies, to George III., King of England, make it obvious that Dunmore's War was waged more particularly for the benefit of the Royal Government than it was for the protection of the frontier settlers. Dunmore was aware that the principles of democracy were taking deep root in the minds and hearts of the inhabitants of the mountain regions of Virginia; and that open resistance to their eager wishes to extend their settlements into Kentucky and along the southern banks of the Ohio would intensify rather than curb the growing democratic spirit of this liberty-loving people. And he realized that the methods he had used to thwart the main purpose of the Lewis expedition to the Ohio had kindled a flame of resentment among the inhabitants of the three great trans-montage counties, Augusta, Botetourt, and Fincastle. Hence his wise suggestion to the British Government for the adoption of a conservative and compromising policy in its treatment of the frontiersmen, who had shown at Point Pleasant their ability to defeat the confederated tribes of the Northwestern Indians without any assistance from the Royal Government. The battle of Point Pleasant, which was won by the Virginia backwoodsmen, a number of Tazewell pioneers being in the engagement, was virtually the opening battle of the
One of the most important outcomes of the Point Pleasant battle, and one that proved of vital benefit to the inhabitants of the Clinch Valley, was the opening up of Kentucky for permanent settlement. This erected a strong barrier in that direction between the hostile Indians and the Clinch settlements; and during the progress of the Revolutionary War greatly reduced the number of attacks that would otherwise have been made upon the pioneers of this region.
The battle of Point Pleasant was also an event of immense interest to the American colonies. It not only furnished opportunity for the permanent settlement of Kentucky and the Kanawha Valley, but gave George Rodgers Clark and his intrepid followers inspiration to originate and consummate the expedition that won for Virginia the extensive and valuable Northwestern territory; and extended the northern boundary line of the American Nation from Nova Scotia along the chain of inland seas, and on to the Pacific Ocean. Eventually it gave the United States possession of the lower Mississippi Valley, through Thomas Jefferson's purchase of Louisiana in 1803; brought Texas, the splendid Lone Star State, into the Union; and secured, by conquest, the large territory ceded by Mexico in 1848. The descendants of the Tazewell pioneers can proudly claim that their ancestors were among the participants in the eventful battle. There were other results that flowed from the battle that are not so pleasant to contemplate. It sowed the seeds of life and greed in the broad road the white men afterwards traveled, but scattered the seeds of death and despair along the narrow path the poor American Indians were forced to travel for more than a century.
Soon after the conclusion of Dunmore's War, Daniel Boone, who had been sojourning in the Clinch Valley for more than a year, determined to carry into effect his long coveted plans for planting a colony in Kentucky. The Fort Stanwix treaty had extinguished the ancient claim of the Iroquois to the territory in question; and the treaty that Dunmore made with the Ohio Indians had procured from them an abandonment of the right they asserted to the hunting grounds south of the Ohio. The Cherokees, however, claimed, and justly so, absolute title to Kentucky by the terms of the treaty made at Lochaber, South Carolina; and under a treaty made with the province of Virginia in 1772, which latter treaty provided that the boundary line between Virginia and the Cherokee Nation should "run west from the White Top Mountain in latitude thirty-six degrees thirty minutes."
Boone saw the necessity for getting rid of the claim of the Cherokees before making a further attempt to lead a colony into Kentucky. He remembered how his first attempt to migrate to that country, in the autumn of 1773, had been defeated by a roving band of Cherokees, who set upon and killed his son James, and Henry Russell, son of Captain William Russell, together with four white men and two negroes who were attending young Russell. This caused him to exercise caution to escape a similar occurrence. John Floyd had made, in the spring and summer of 1774, numerous surveys of large and valuable tracts of land in Kentucky for Patrick Henry, William Preston, William Russell, William Byrd, William Fleming, William Christian, Arthur Campbell, and other Virginians; and all these, no doubt, joined Boone in the scheme to acquire the title of the Cherokees. Boone decided to enter into negotiations with the Indians. Early in the year 1775 he induced Colonel Richard Henderson, Thomas Hart, John Williams, James Hogg, Nathaniel Hart, Leonard H. Bullock, John Lutrell, and William Johnston, all living in North Carolina, to join him in an effort to purchase the Cherokee claim. A company was formed to that end, and Boone, Henderson and Nathaniel Hart went to the Cherokee towns to commence negotiations. They made a proposition to the Indians, and suggested that a general council of the Nation be held to consider the sale of the desired territory to Boone and his associates. A council was held at Sycamore Shoals on the Watauga River, at which about twelve hundred Cherokees were present, more than half of them warriors. On the 17th of March, 1775, a treaty was concluded and signed by the agents of the company and certain chiefs of the Cherokee Nation. In consideration of a large quantity of merchandise, said to be of the value of ten thousand pounds sterling, the Indians conveyed to the North Carolinians and their associates all the lands south of the Ohio and lying between the Kentucky and Cumberland Rivers. Dragging Canoe, the great chief, opposed the treaty and made a strong speech against it. He very earnestly and pathetically called the attention of his tribesmen to the happy state the Nation had occupied before it was encroached upon by the greedy white men, and how other tribes of their race had been driven from their homes by the whites, who seemed determined to drive the natives out or exterminate them. He declared that: "Whole nations had melted away in their presence like balls of snow before the sun, and had scarcely left their names behind, except as imperfectly recorded by their enemies and destroyers." Dragging Canoe saw in this proposition of Boone and his companions to get the remainder of their finest hunting grounds the beginning of a movement of the white men to drive his people from their beautiful homeland in the Southern Alleghanies, and force them into the wilderness beyond the Mississippi. The old chief urged his countrymen to fight to the death rather than submit to the loss of more of their territory. His pleas were unavailing, and the territory sought by Daniel Boone and others was sold to them.
The Cherokees had parted with their acknowledged title to their famous hunting grounds, from which they had in succession driven all intruders, "time out of mind." But instead of the lands becoming the property of Henderson's company, it merely removed the Cherokee cloud from the title which Virginia had acquired and was asserting under the charters granted by James I., King of England; and Kentucky at that time was a part of Fincastle County, Virginia. The Indian chiefs conceded that their title was of doubtful value, because they had never used the territory for residence, but only for hunting purposes. Oconostoto and Dragging Canoe told Henderson that the Northwestern Indians would oppose his occupancy of the territory and would show the white men no mercy. And another old chief told Daniel Boone: "Brother we have given you a fine land, but I believe you will have much trouble in settling it."
Regardless of these warnings, as soon as he was satisfied that the Cherokees would make the sale, Henderson started Boone with a company of thirty men to blaze and clear a trail from the Holston to the Kentucky River. Equipping his men with rifles and axes, Boone immediately started out to prepare the trail, which passed through Cumberland Gap, crossed the Cumberland, Laurel and Rock Castle rivers, and on to the Kentucky River. Boone's party was occupied two weeks in accomplishing its task, and on several occasions they were attacked by small parties of Indians and some of his men killed.
When the treaty with the Indians was completed, Henderson started out to follow the trail that Boone and his men had made. He had a large party of men; and wagons to transport the goods, tools implements and so forth, that would be needed in preparing a permanent settlement. But he had to abandon the wagons in Powell's Valley, because the trail beyond would not permit the use of vehicles; and pack-horses were used for the balance of the journey. On the 7th of April messengers from Boone met Henderson's party with the information that the Indians were proving dangerous, and urging Henderson to hasten on to where Boone and his men had gone into camp. Henderson as quickly as possible joined Boone, reaching his uncompleted wooden fort on the 20th of April, where he was received with a salute from 20 or 30 rifles; and they proceeded to lay the foundation of the settlement at Boonesborough. Roosevelt says, in Winning of the West: "Beyond doubt the restless and vigorous frontiersmen would ultimately have won their way into the coveted western lands; yet had it not been for the battle of the Great Kanawha, Boone and Henderson could not, in 1775, have planted their colony in Kentucky; and had it not been for Boone and Henderson, it is most unlikely that the land would have been settled at all until after the Revolutionary War."
The purchase from the Indians by Henderson and his associates was made for the purpose of establishing a new province, or colony, to be separated from the colonies of Virginia and North Carolina, and they named it Transylvania. Nearly all of the present Kentucky and a considerable part of Tennessee, then North Carolina, was embraced in the purchase. About the same time that Henderson and Boone took their colony to their new possession, Colonel James Harrod returned to Kentucky with a large party of emigrants, and resumed work on the fort and village he had commenced to build in 1774 on the present site of Harrodsburg. And Benjamin Logan, who was a lieutenant in one of the companies from the Holston in the Point Pleasant campaign, went out with a party and built Logan's Station, ten miles from Boonesborough. It is highly probable that Colonel William Preston, Major Arthur Campbell, and other prominent Virginians were identified in some way with Henderson's Transylvania Company, as John Floyd returned to Kentucky in 1775 to act as surveyor for that company. The scheme may have originated, in a measure, from resentment toward Governor Dunmore on account of his unfair treatment of the Fincastle men who took part in the Ohio campaign; and with the intention of forestalling Thomas Walpole and his speculative company of Englishmen, who were perfecting their plans to found the province of Vandalia.
After his arrival on the scene, Henderson lost no time in putting his plans into effective operation. He opened a land office at Boonesborough, and had boundaries that aggregated many thousands of acres surveyed by Daniel Boone and others; giving certificates of entry therefore to any colonists who wished to become purchasers. A number of the colonists were apprehensive of the legality of Henderson's right to sell and convey these lands. They decided to rest their right of entry upon the Virginia land laws. The Tazewell pioneers had made their settlements under these laws, as is shown by the patents issued to them after the Revolution. These laws gave to every man who settled in the wilderness regions the right to enter four hundred acres of unappropriated land, if he built a cabin thereon and cleared and cultivated in corn a small boundary. The General Assembly of Virginia afterwards confirmed the claims of the Kentucky colonists who relied upon the Virginia laws for their titles.
Henderson and his Transylvanians asked the consent of the Continental Congress, then in session, to send representatives to that body, independent of Virginia and North Carolina. Lord Dunmore as governor of Virginia, made protest against all the acts of the proprietors of Transylvania as illegitimate, and claimed that the greater portion of the mushroom province was Virginia territory and was a part of Fincastle County. Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry, who were delegates from Virginia to the Continental Congress, made vigorous protest against recognition of Transylvania, and the Congress refused to admit its representatives to seats in that assembly. The North Carolina Government adopted the same policy as that of Virginia. While the Revolutionary War was in progress, in 1778, the General Assembly of Virginia declared Henderson's purchase from the Indians null and void, using as authority for the act a general land law passed in 1705 by the General Assembly. One of the provisions of the act forbade the Indians from alienating their lands, "by whatsoever rights claimed or pretended to, to any but some of their own nation;" and declared all conveyances contrary to the act void; and imposed heavy penalties on those who should purchase or procure conveyances from them. However, instead of inflicting penalties upon Henderson and his associates, the General Assembly thought it equitable, and sound public policy, to reimburse them for procuring from the Cherokees a relinquishment of their actual or pretended claims to the Virginia territory situated in Kentucky. In accordance with that view, the General Assembly in October, 1778, enacted the following relief measure:
"Whereas it has appeared to this Assembly, that Richard Henderson and Company, have been at very great expense, in making a purchase of the Cherokee Indians, and although the same has been declared void, yet as this Commonwealth is likely to receive great advantage therefore, by increasing its inhabitants, and establishing a barrier against the Indians, it is therefore just and reasonable the said Richard Henderson and Company be made a compensation for their trouble and expense.
"1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That all that tract of land situate, lying, and being on the waters of the Ohio and Green rivers, bounded as follows, to wit: beginning at the mouth of Green river, thence running up the same twelve and a half miles, when reduced to a straight line, thence running at right angles with the said reduced lines, twelve and a half miles on each side of the said river, thence running lines from the termination of the line extended on each side of the said Green river, at right angles with the same, till the said lines intersect the Ohio, which said river Ohio shall be the western boundary of the said tract, be, and the same is hereby granted the said Richard Henderson and Company, and their heirs and tenants in common, subject to the payment of the same taxes, as other lands within this Commonwealth are; * * * but this grant shall, and it is hereby declared to be in full compensation to the said Richard Henderson and Company, and their heirs, for their charge and trouble, and for all advantage accruing therefore to this Commonwealth, and they are hereby excluded from any further claims to lands, on account of any settlement or improvements heretofore made by them, or any of them, on the lands so as aforesaid purchased from the Cherokee Indians."
As this act declared, the Commonwealth was greatly benefitted through the settlements made by Boone, Henderson and others in Kentucky, in that they erected on the western frontier a strong barrier against the Western Indians. It was of great value to the Clinch settlements, because it largely diverted the attention of the Western tribes from this region, and relieved our pioneer ancestors from hostile invasions by large bands of the red men. But it did not relieve the inhabitants on the headwaters of the Clinch and Bluestone rivers from frequent bloody attacks by small scalping parties. The Sandy River Valley still remained an open way by which the Indians could approach undetected the Clinch and Bluestone settlements.
[History of Tazewell County and Southwest Virginia: 1748-1920; By William Cecil Pendleton; Pgs.225-406; Publ. 1920; Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack.]
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