Attack on Fort Randolph

Frontier Advance on the Upper Ohio, 1778-1779
(Madison: The Wisconsin Historical Society, 1916)

Capt. William McKee to Gen. Edward Hand
Fort Randolph, 21st June, 1778.


The Indians attacked this garrison the 16th ulto. Wounded Lieut. Gilmore, & killed one private of my Company. When they found they could do us no more damage of ye sort, they fell to killing the cattle, & left us only one small steer of all the cou[ntry] cattle, & only 3 or 4 cows & a few calves, of above 150 cattle belonging to the people of the garrison: Nor have they left one of the country horses. The number of the enemy by the best estimate we have been able to make by their encampments &c. was near 400. Their scheme appears to have been to draw a party out, wh they must inevitably have cut off, being very advantageously posted in ambush. For this purpose a small party was sent near the fort by whom Mr Gilmore was wounded & the other killed, at two different attempts. But I having had previous notice of their intention of attacking us about that time with a large party, did not send any out, so their scheme was defeated. They were so engaged killing the cattle the remainder of the day, that only a few kept a scattering fire on the garrison, wh we returned. But they kept at too great a distance either to do or receive much damage. We had not the satisfaction of getting any of them, but have the greatest reason for believing that two were mortally wounded, if not killed. When it grew dark one of them came near the garrison, talked as if they wanted peace. I observed to him, he had taken very odd measures to introduce anything of that nature, which he apologized for with their ususal kind of sophistry. However, I told him I would let him know the sentiments of Virginia as far as committed to me next morning. He came back in the morning, began to talk, keeping himself under cover. I endeavored persuading him to come nigher, but could not, until I promised if three or four of them would lay aside their arms, they might come near the garrison in safety. I had a speech read to them sent by order of the Governor to be carried to them by Katy: They seemed very well pleased with it; promised to put their men over the Ohio that night, bring back the horses, & three or four of their headmen came next Morning; but we have seen no more of them since.

I sent two men express to Greenbriar on the night of the 18th. they got as far as the Pocatalico; Next day found that a very large party had gone up the river toward Greenbriar; were divided on each side of the river & in small parties up the small creeks - were fired upon near Red Horse Shoals - so giving up hopes of getting past the enemy they returned. Immediately on their return I sent other two, was obliged to promise them an extraordinary reward, as the attempt was extremely dangerous, & the advantage would be to the inhabitants of Greenbriar of the greatest moment, if the express shd get in before the enemy, which was not impossible. I laid them under instructions to be back, if posible, in 20 days; they have been now gone 30 days & not returned, wh renders us very uneasy.

Got flour sufficient for upwards of 3 months - pork mostly damaged; Have not one grain of salt.

Col. Clark & Capt. O'Hara with their detachments & cargoes arrived safely here the 23d of May, tarried only one day. Wm McKee

P. S. Lieut. Gilmore is almost quite well of his wound.

Exploration, Settlement and Conflict (1600-1799)