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Dunmore to Dartmouth, official report of
"Affairs in Virginia; The Indian Expedition"
24 December 1774

From Documentary History of Dunmore's War, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites and Louise Phelps Kellogg (Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 1905), p. 368-96

The last quarrel with the Indians, as far as the Virginians were concerned in it, took its rise from, or rather never Subsided after, the expedition of Mr. Bouquet. In the Treaty concluded on that occasion, it was Stipulated that all the white prisoners, which the Indians had carried off, should be restored; among which were a great many young Virginia Women and men, and negroes; and the Indians, notwithstanding the treaty, have detained them, till on this late occasion they were compelled to give them up. This has been ever Since a Source of uneasiness in this Country; and it has been aggravated by the continual depredations of the Indians, and some Shocking Murders Committed by them on the people of the Frontiers. The very year after this Treaty a Man was killed on the Frontiers by the Indians; The year after that, eight men were killed upon Cumberland river; Soon after, one Martin, a trader from this Government, was killed with two other men. In the year 1771 a Party of Indians fell upon a Hunting Party of Virginians, and carried off Nineteen horses, as many hundred Deer Skins, their Arms and Cloaths; and the same year the Indians killed one Thomas Man and wounded his brother. The next year they killed one Adam Stroud his wife and Seven Children. The last year they killed one Richards; and the 15th. of October of the same year they killed one Russel, a very promising young man, the Son of a Gentleman of Some distinction in one of the back Counties, together with four men who were in Company with him, and two Negroes attending him. The .Father of the Young Man, who was out at the same time, came up to the Ground, and was the first that discovered the dismal Spectacle of the dead body of his Son, Mangled in a horrid manner, and the others in much the same condition.

In hopes of preventing the effects, which were Naturally to be dreaded from these repeated violences of the Indians; and being furnished with depositions, which fixed this last Act upon certain Indians, I wrote to Mr. Stuart the Indian Agent (as appears by the Copy of a letter marked with No. 1 to which I referred your Lordship upon an other occasion) to desire, that he would use his endeavours to perswade the Indians to give up the offenders: But the Indians Shifted the accusation from one tribe to an other; that, in Short, the application had no effect.

At the same time it was known, that messages were interchangeably Sending between all the Tribes along the Ohio, the Western, and Southern Indians; and many indications appeared of some fatal design, which the people in the back Country could not but apprehend was meditated against them: And they were confirmed in their fears by the attacks, Similar to, and much at the same time as those experienced here, which were made by some of the Southern Indians on the white People in their Neighbourhood.

These facts and apprehensions occasioned so great an allarm, that the timorous, and those that had families, began to leave their habitations, by which they exposed themselves to want and misery. I took notice, in my letter of the 2d. of April to your Lordship, of the fears we were then in with regard to this matter.

But these new injuries Stired up the old inveteracy of those who are called the back-woods-men, who are Hunters like the Indians and equally ungovernable; these People took fire all along the Frontiers quite to Maryland, and Pensylvania, and formed Parties, avowedly, against the Indians, which the efforts of Magistrates and Government could not in the least restrain.

It happened that, soon after the Murder of young Russel and his party, a man who had been of that party, and the only one who had escaped, was at a horse race at a Place upon the Frontiers, and that two Indian Men and one Woman should come there also. The man immediately fell upon the Indians and murdered one of them. Notwithstanding the interposition of all the other People: all they could do was to Save the other Indian and the woman. The Magistrates endeavoured all they could to have the Murderer apprehended, and offered a reward of £50 as I did also by Proclamation of £100 but both have been fruitless.

This however was the first Indian blood drawn by our People Since the Treaty of Mr. Bouquet. Nor was this followed by any other act of hostility till about the 27th. of last March, that five Indian Cannoes, containing fourteen Indians, going down the Ohio, were followed by one Michael Cressop, a Maryland Trader, with a party of fifteen Men, and a Skirmish ensued in which one Indian and one of Cressops people were killed; but Sixteen keggs of rum, Some Saddles and bridles were taken from the Indians. About the 26th. of April following, two Indians, who were with a white man in a Cannoe on the river, were fired upon from the Shore and killed. This likewise is attributed to Cressop.

Soon after this, an affair of more importance happned, and which indeed is marked with an extraordinary degree of Cruelty and Inhumanity. A party of Indians, with their women, happening to encamp on the side of the Ohio opposite to the house of one Baker, who, together with a Man of the name of Gratehouse, called to, and invited the Indians to come over and drink with them; two men and as many women came accordingly, and were, at first, well received, but Baker and Gratehouse, who by this time had collected other People, contrived to entoxicate the Indians, and they then Murdered them. Soon after two more came over from the Indian Party in search of their Companions' and these met with the same fate. The remainder of the Indian Party growing uneasy at not Seeing their friends return, five of them got into a Cannoe to go over to the house, but they were soon fired upon by Baker and Gratehouse, and two of the Indians killed and the other three wounded.

If it had been possible, My Lord, to convey intelligence of this atrocious Action to me instantaneously, it would have been impossible for me to take any effectual Step, in the disposition which the People of the Back-Country were then, to bring these Offenders to Justice; But I do assure your Lordship that the pacification, which I have since effected, has not made me relax, in the Smallest degree, my diligence, in finding ways to come at them, and in bringing them to the Punishment due to such enormity: and I have the Satisfaction to acquaint your Lordship that I have hopes my endevours for this purpose will not prove unsuccessfull.

The Indians, however, had recently repeated their blows, and given too much cause for these People, not much less Savage then themselves, to Justify their Sanguinary deeds. They had in the beginning of February killed Six men and two Negroes, and, towards the end of the same Month, a Trading Cannoe was attacked, the Men Murdered and the Goods carried to the Shawnese Towns.

While these matters passed, the alarm of the Country Necessarily increased very much; and I received expresses daily, from the principal People of the Counties exposed, entreating my assistance to put them in a State of defence, and to provide means to bring the Indians to terms, which, all our accounts informed us, they were resolved not to listen to; and therefore it was thought the Shortest and most effectual way to accomplish this purpose, was to raise a body of men and Send them directly to the Shawnese Country.

When the Assembly met in May, I applied to them by a message (of which I transmit a Copy (No. 4)) to provide for this Matter. They did not adopt the Plan proposed, but I was referred, as appears by their address on this occasion which I transmit (No. 5) to an Act, in force, against Invasions and Insurrections, which empowers the Governor to employ the Militia upon those emergencies. Accordingly I ordered the Militia of the Frontier Counties to be imbodied; and the respective Commanding Officers of them to take such Steps as their prudence would direct, and the act of Assembly allow, them in the present exigency:

And I recommended to them to erect Forts in the properest places, as they should Judge, for the neighbouring People to retire to, and defend themselves, in case the Indians penetrated into the Country. I transmit a Copy of the Circular orders which I sent on this occasion (No. 6).

I formerly gave your Lordship an Account, in my letter No. 12, that one of the reasons which occasioned the People Settled about Pittsburg, to apply to the protection of this Government, was that they might have some lawfull Militia establishment, to defend them in case of an attack from the Indians; and that in consequence of this application I had, with the advice of Council, regularly appointed a Militia and Officers to command it, which became part of the Militia of the County of Augusta.

This part of the Country, by its vicinity to Some of, and intercourse with all, the Tribes of the Ohio Indians, was particularly affected by these disturbances. Vast numbers of the Settlers fled. And therefore when the other Militia of the Counties were ordered to assemble, orders were Sent to Captain Conolly, who was the Principal Officer of Militia in this district, to the same effect; and a Fort at this place, was Judged particularly requisite, as there is a Settlement of Indians Seperated from it only by the river: And this Fort, which they call Fort Dunmore, had the effect, upon this occasion, of keeping the Neighbouring Indians in awe, for which one had been maintained there so long at the Kings expense; and was the means, together with the great pains taken, and prudence observed by Mr. Conolly in Conferring with these Indians, by which they were kept in our interest, and prevailed upon to carry Messages to, and bring intelligence of, the Shawanese and other Tribes by whose incursions the Country had so greatly Suffered. Several accidents happned, indeed, at this place. One of these friendly Indians whom Mr. Conolly had taken with him to reconnoiter the Country, upon a report of a Party of Shawanese approaching, was fired upon, in his return home after he had left Mr. Conolly, by one of the Militia Men; but this man was immediately confined, and a Message was Sent to the Indian Village to assure them he Should be punished. The Traders, who happned to be in the Indian Towns at the time of these transactions, and for Some time Confined there, were released and Sent with an escort to Pittsburg; and this escort, in their return home, were fired upon by a number of white men, and one of them wounded, as it was reported, though it was never known what persons or whose party committed this breach of faith, or, for certain, that it ever was committed. Some time after a Party of the Delawar Neighbouring Indians came to Pittsburg to trade, and were fired upon, by which two of them were killed; but the Perpetrators of this perfideous act were never discovered, Though a reward of 50 was offered by the Commanding Officer at the desire of the Inhabitants, as was also a reward of 100 by me upon my Arrival there, which happned to be immediately after, and in time to Condole with the Indians and make them Sensible, that no pains Should be neglected to find out, and bring to exemplary punishment the guilty persons, which intirely appeased them: And I can assure your Lordship that, upon the Strictest enquiry which I could make, no one of these facts were attributed either to the design or even negligence of Mr. Conolly (indeed he was above a hundred Miles from the place when the last was Committed) on the contrary, the People of the Country firmly believe, that those two Delawar Indians had been killed treacherously by Some of the Pensylvanians, in order to destroy the good understanding, which Subsisted between the Virginians and those Indians: but which however, this affair, by the care which was observed, did not effect.

In the mean time the ravage of the Indians, where ever they could carry it, was dreadfull: - one Shawanese returned to his Town with the Scalps of forty men Women and Children whom he had killed. On the other hand a Party went out, with my permission, and destroyed one of the Shawanese Towns, and meeting a Small Party of Indians, they killed Six or Seven of them, but this produced no Change in the designs of these People.

The real concern, principally, which the Continuation of these Miseries gave me, and, partly, the Accounts Sent by the Officers of the Militia, of the Mutinous and ungovernable Spirit of their men, whom they could by no means bring to any order or dissipline or even to Submit to command, determined me to go up into that part of the Country, and to exert my own immediate endeavours on this important occasion. Accordingly, as Soon as the business of the Oyer and Terminer Court in June permitted me, I sett out for Pittsburg where I arrived as has been already related. No time was lost in assembling The Delawar, Six Nations, and all the other Tribes that could be got at, or diligence neglected in Conferring with them on the Subject of the desolating Consequences of Such enterprises as were Carrying on between the Shawense and their abettors, and our people; (I transmitt to your Lordship an Account of the Conferences held on this occasion in a printed Copy (NO. 7)) I found all those Nations not only disposed to peace, but attached to our Cause, and they promised me, as your Lordship will perceive, that they would go down to the Shawanese (who with one or two less considerable Tribes only were concerned in the depredations that had been Committed) and, if I would appoint a time and place, bring them to Speak with me, and use their influence to incline them to Peace. I determined therefore to go down the Ohio; but I thought it Prudent to take a Force which might effect our purpose if our Negotiation failed: And I collected from the Militia of the Neighbouring Counties about twelve hundred Men, to take with me, Sending orders to a Colonel Lewis to March with as many more, of the Militia of the Southern Counties, across the Country to Join me at the Mouth of the little Kanhaway, the Place I appointed to meet the Indians at.

I passed down the river with this body of Men, and arrived at the appointed place at the Stated time. The day after Some of our friends the Delawars arrived according to their promise; but they brought us the disagreeable information, that the Shawanese would listen to no terms, and were resolved to prosecute their designs against the People of Virginia.

The Delawars, Notwithstanding, remained Steady in their attachment; and their Chief, named Captain White Eyes, offered me the assistance of himself and whole tribe; but apprehending evil effects from the Jealousy of, and natural dislike in our People to, all Indians, I accepted only of him and two or three: And I received great Service from the faithfullness, the firmness and remarkable good understanding of White Eyes.

Colonel Lewis not Joining me, and being unwilling to encrease the expence of the Country by delay, and, from the accounts we had of the Numbers of the Indians, Judging the Force I had with me Sufficient to defeat them and destroy their Towns, in case they Should refuse the offers of Peace; and after Sending orders to Colonel Lewis, to follow me to a Place I appointed near the Indian Settlements, I crossed the Ohio and proceeded to the Shawanese Towns; in which March, one of our detached Parties encountered an other of Indians laying in Ambush, of whom they killed Six or eight and took Sixteen Prisoners.

When we came up to the Towns we found them deserted, and that the main body of the Indians, to the amount of near five hundred, had Some time before gone off towards the Ohio; and we Soon learnt that they had Crossed that river, near the Mouth of the great Kanhaway, with the design of attacking the Corps under Colonel Lewis. In effect this Body, in their route to Join me, was encamped within a Mile of the Conflux of these two rivers, and near the place where the Indians Crossed, who were discovered by two men, one of which they killed, of Colonel Lewis's Corps at break of Day the 10th. of October. Colonel Lewis, upon receiving intelligence of their being advanced to within half a Mile of his Camp, ordered out three hundred men in two divisions, who upon their approach were immediately attacked by the Indians, and a very warm engagment ensued; Colonel Lewis found it Necessary to reinforce the divisions first Sent out, which (without the main Body of his Corps having engaged) obliged the Indians to retreat, after an Action which lasted till about one O'clock after noon, and little Skermishing till Night, under the favour of which the Indians repassed the river and escaped. Colonel Lewis lost on his side his Brother and two other Colonels of Militia, men of Character and Some Condition in their Counties, and forty Six Men killed, and about eighty wounded. The loss of the Indians by their Accounts amounted to about thirty killed and some wounded.

The event of this Action, proving very different from what the Indians had promised themselves, they at once resolved to make no further efforts against a Power they saw so far Superior to theirs; but determined to throw themselves upon our Mercy: And, with the greatest expedition, they came in Search of the body with which they knew I marched, and found me near their own Towns the Day after I got there.

They presently made known their intentions, and I admitted them immedeately to a Conference, wherein all our differences were Settled. The terms of our reconciliation were, briefly, that the Indians should deliver up all prisoners without reserve; that they should restore all horses and other valuable effects which they had carried off; 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 untill 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 everything with the greatest alacrity, and gave the most Solemn assurances of their quiet and peacable deportment for the future: and in return I have given them every promise of protection and good treatment on our Side.

Thus this affair, which undoubtedly was attended with circumstances of Shocking inhumanity, may be the means of producing happy effects; for it has impressed an Idea of the power of the White People, upon the minds of the Indians, which they did not before entertain; and, there is reason to believe, it has extinguished the rancour which raged so violently in our People against the Indians: and I think there is a greater probability that these Scenes of distress will never be renewed, than ever was before.

I have given your Lordship a faithfull relation of this Matter from beginning to end, and cannot help conceiving hopes that it will deserve to be Seen in a different view, than that in which Mr. Penns assertion, and other intelligence have endeavoured, I fear with too much Success, to place it. But I must beg leave to remark with respect to the first, that I am possessed of the Message returned from the Assembly to Mr. Penn (a Copy of which I transmitt (No. 8)) whereby it appears that they acknowledged. Notwithstanding the Governors assertion, Some people of that Government had contributed, likewise, to the distress and alarm of the Back Settlements, for the Assembly, in their Message offers a reward for apprehending two Men (Hinkson and Cooper) for Murdering an Indian within the bounds of their Province. And it is manifest, then, from every circumstance, My Lord, that the Proprietary Governor of Pennsylvania hath Sullied the dignity and Solemnity, which belongs to Such an Act as Communicateing the business of the Publick to their representatives, by making it the conveyance of falshood and imposition, which tended only to create dessentions between the people of his Government and their Neighbours of Virginia, and to keep up the aversion in the Indians towards the Inhabitants of this Colony.

In regard to the Fort of Pittsburg, this, your Lordship has Seen in my relation, was done by my order: but if it be seen as it really was, in the light of a temporary work for the defence of a Country, and its terrified Inhabitants in a time of imminent danger, I presume it will appear very different from reestablishing a Fort which had been demolished by the Kings express orders, as if this Act of mine had been contrary to or in disregard of His Majesty's orders: And My Lord, I fear, that it must be owing to the unfavourable opinion which your Lordship conceives of my Administration, that it did not readily occur to your Lordship, that the distress and alarm, of which you were apprised at the Same time, however they were occasioned, required that Step, and accounted for it.

As to the information you have received about the boats, I never heard of any destroyed by Mr. Conolly or used by any body, or even that there were any capable of being used or destroyed; but I recollect to have Seen two or three boats which were said to be the King's lying- exposed on the side of the river, every plank entirely rotten and become quite useless: And if any have been destroyed therefore, it must have been thro' the Negligence of the Persons who had the charge of them, and who have thought this a convenient, though a most dishonest, way of accounting for them.

The Assertion of the Proprietary Governor, and the intelligence, which your Lordship informs me, you have received thro' a variety of other Channals; all Spring from the same Source: from the Malevolence which that Gentleman thinks he has cause to manifest towards me. As it may, possibly, be some prejudice to him, he is highly offended at the part I have taken, in putting a Stop to his encroachments upon the Kings Rights.

Instead of manifesting any disposition to reconcile the different opinions, respecting the disputed boundary between this Colony and his Province, his mode of proceeding was, with no little confidence, to exact a full complyance with his demands of this Government, or we were to Suffer the Consequences, declared. in a Proclamation; which indeed were terrifying enough; and which I transmit (No. 9) for your Lordships perusal, and mention here, as I conceive it Justifies the Proclamation, which His Majesty's Council of this Colony thought it right to advise me to issue on that occasion, in order to prevent the Magistrates upon the Frontiers of this Colony from being entimidated by that of Mr. Penn, and which Proclamation your Lordship in your letter No. 10 takes notice of. Upon receiving the orders contained in your Lordships letter of 1st. of June I issued the Proclamation herewith inclosed (No. 10) Mr. Penn thought proper, in defyance of His Majesty's orders, to publish the Counter-Proclamation herewith inclosed (No.11) and every Act of mine, on this occasion, gives fresh offence, which has been the means of occasioning every Species of Calumny to be reported about me; and from both the letters No. 13 and No. 12 which I have received from your Lordship, I cannot but fear that it has gained admittance (where only I could not be indifferent about it) to His Majesty and your Lordship.

It is an easy matter to make people believe that Duty to His Majesty, and Zeal for his Service and interest, could not have been my real motive for interfering in this affair; but that it proceeded from views of emolument to myself. The Philadelphia Papers, and I dare Say other means, have been used to make it believed, that I acted only in conjunction with a parcel of Land Jobbers, and not by the advice of His Majestys Council or by any good Authority; the Natural inference to be drawn being, that by such means I am procuring Grants of land: The Indian disturbances have been also wonderfully aiding to Mr. Penn's purpose, and he has not neglected them.

The trade carried on with the Ohio Indians has been almost engrossed by the Province of Pennsylvania, which they have draw[n] to themselves, artfully enough, but with what degree of propriety or right I must leave to your Lordships Judgment, by repeated treaties held of their own Authority, and at such times and for such purposes as they think fit. The Traders in General are composed of the most worthless Subjects, such as fail in all other occupations, and become in a manner outcasts of Society. These Men, we have full proof, have made it their constant business to discredit the Virginians (who lye much more convenient for carrying on a Trade with these Indians than the Pennsylvanians) and make the Indians consider them in the most odious light. We know that these Men have bought the Plunder, which the Indians carried off in their incursions. - If the Indians took Skins, they could Sell them cheaper than those they got themselves by hunting, and at the expence of Gun Powder; - if horses, they knew nothing of their value, and anything would purchase them. - It was a lucrative trade to these People, and the means of it, which were the disturbances between the Indians and the Virginians, were encouraged by them.

It is from these Wretches, and People principally concerned in the dispute about the boundary, that Mr. Penn takes the information, upon the ground of which he has not hesitated to Cast, in a declaration to his Assembly, an injurious reflection upon the Justice and Government of Virginia: And that your Lordship may know what Sort of men Mr. Penns friends in the part of the Country about Pittsburg are, I have had affidavits offered to be made, by men well credited and well known, that Several of Mr. Penns Magistrates in that part of the Country had declared they would take my life if they could eyer get at me privately. One St. Clair the Clerk of the County in Pennsylvania adjoining Pittsburg whose emoluments, by the great dimenution of the County and Number of Inhabitants, occasioned by the Authority of this Colony's being extended there, are diminished in proportion; and who was the man that committed Mr. Conolly for exercising his functions as a Magistrate under this Government in that district, and the promoter of all the disturbance which has happned between the two Colonies; This Man, I am well informed, is fond of publishing that he has taken care, that a representation of all affairs in that Country Should be carried to His Majesty's Ministers. He was formerly in the Army and an Acquaintance of General Haldemand, with whom I know he has corrisponded on this occasion; and it is not therefore with better information than Mr. Penn's, though I cannot Suppose his motive as bad, that Mr. Haldemand has ventured to transmit to your Lordship intelligence, which with respect to Cressop, he owns he has not had from any proper Authority, and of which, I make no doubt, he will be ashamed, when he finds out that there is no Colonel Cressop except an old Man of Ninety years of age, and who is, and allways was, an Inhabitant of Maryland: And if the General means the Cressop whose name has been mentioned by me, in my relation of the Indian occurencies, he likewise is a Marylander, and never was an Inhabitant of Virginia.

It is true the mistake in this case does not contradict the fact alluded to, or, in the least, lessen the iniquity of it; but the inaccuracy in this, as well as the unfairness in the other piece of intelligence, relative to the building of Forts and destroying of boats, give room to Suspect, that, in the latter, the good of the Service, and, in the former, the interest of humanity were not the only reasons, which induced the reporter of them, to lay them before your Lordship. For, if he was actuated by nothing but those honourable and Meritorious Motives, he would first have intimated these matters to me, who alone had the immediate power of remedy in my hands, and, not, unless he found I neglected his Monition, taken the round about way of Sending them first to your Lordship: And therefore they must have been Communicated with an intention, that, in passing thro' your Lordships hands, they might leave an unfavourable impression on your mind of my attention to the principal concerns of the Government Committed to my care. I transmit to your Lordship the Copy of a letter (No. 12) which I have thought necessary to write to General Haldiman on this Subject.

The desire of not leaving anything unexplained, and of not omitting anything which is not my duty to represent, in Affairs which must necessarily be interesting to His Majesty, has occasioned me to be very minute; and my anxiety for the removal of the evil opinion, which your Lordships letters No. 13 and No. 12 Carries Such Strong Marks of, has led me, unavoidably, to add so much to the length of my Answer to the Contents of those particular letters, that I can hardly hope your Lordship will bestow a patient Consideration on the Contents of this.

I inclose to your Lordship the Address (Numbers 13, 14 & 15) of the Council of this Colony, the City of Williamsburg and the College, on my return from the expedition against the Indians, which I hope will be admitted as no Small evidence, both to destroy the Assertion of Mr. Penn, and to Convince His Majesty and your Lordship that I have not been careless of the lives of Indians, although I exerted some vigourous Measures to put an end to their disputes with his Majesty's Subjects; or Negligent in any respect of my Duty.

I am, My Lord, Your Lordships Most Obedient humble Servant

Dunmore's War

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