William Preston to Patrick Henry.
October ye 31st. 1774
From Documentary History of Dunmore's War, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites and Louise Phelps Kellogg (Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 1905), p. 291-95
DEAR SIR - Being on my way from home to Fincastle Court was overtaken this Evening by Letters from Colo. Christian and other Gentlemen on the Expedition, giving an Account of a Battle which was fought between our Troops & the Enemy Indians on the 10th Instant in the Fork of the Ohio & the great Kanhawa
The Particulars of the Action drawn up by Colo. Andw. Lewis I have Sent you inclosed, also a Return of the killed and wounded; by which you will see that we have lost many Brave and valluable Officers & soldiers whose loss to their Families, as well as to the Community is very great.
Colo. Christian with the Fincastle Troops, (except the Companies Commanded by Capts. Russell & Shelby who were in the Action) were on their march, and on the Evening of that Day about 15 Miles from the Field of Battle heard that the Action began in the Morning. They Marched hard & got to the Camp about midnight. The Cries of the Wounded without any Persons of Skill or any thing to Nourish People in their unhappy Situation was Striking. The Indians had crossed the River on Rafts 6 or Eight Miles above the Forks in the night and it is believed intended to Attack the Camp had they not been prevented by our men meeting them at the Distance of half a Mile. It is said the Enemy behaved with Bravery & great Caution, that they frequently Damn'd our men for white Sons of Bitches why did not the[y] Whistle now (alluding to the Fifes) & that they would learn them to Shoot.
The Governor was then at Hockhocking about 12 or 15 Miles below the Mouth of little Kanhawa from whence he intended to march his Party to a Place called Chillicossee about 20 Miles further than the Towns where it was Said the Shawanesse had Assembled with their Families and Alies to make a Stand, as they had good Houses & plenty of Ammunition & Provisions & had cleared the Woods to a great distance from the Place. His Party who were to march from the Camp was about 1200 & to Join Colo. Lewis's Party about 28 Miles from Chillicossee. But whether the Action above mentioned would disconcert this Plan or not I think appears a little uncertain, as there is a probabillity that his Excellency on hearing the news might, with his Party fall down the River & Join Colo. Lewis's Party & March together against the Enemy.
They were about Building a Breast Work at the Forks & after leaving a proper party to take Care of the Wounded & the Provisions there that Colo. Lewis could March upwards of a Thousand Men to Join his Lordship. So that the whole when they meet will be about 2200 Choice Men. What may be their Success God only knows; that it is highly probable the matter is decided before this Time.
Colo. Christian says from the Accounts he had, the Enemy behaved with inconceivable Bravery. The Head men walked about in the Time of Action Exhorting their Men "To lie close, shoot well, be strong & fight." They had Parties planted on the opposite side of both Rivers to shoot our men as they swam over, not doubting, as is supposed, but they would gain a complete Victory. In the Evening late they called to our Men "That they had 2000 Men for them to morrow and that they had 1100 Men now as well as they." They also made very merry about a Treaty.
Poor Colo. Charles Lewis was shot on a Clear piece of Ground, as he had not taken a tree, encouraging his Men to Advance. On being wounded he handed his Gun to a person nigh him and retired to the Camp telling his Men as he passed, "I am Wounded, but go on & be Brave." If the loss of a good man, a sincere Friend & a Brave Officer claims a Tear, He certainly is entitled to it.
Colo. Fields was shot at a great tree by two Indians on his Right while one on his Left was amusing him with talk & the Colo. endeavouring to get a shot at him.
Beside the loss the troops met with in Action by Colo. Fleming who was obliged to retire from the Field, which was very great; The Wounded met with the most Irreparable Loss in an able & skillful Surgeon. Colo. Christian says that his Lungs or part of them came out of the Wound in his Breast but were pushed back, & by the last part of his Letter which was dated the 16th Instant he has some hopes of his recovery.
Thus Sir I have given you an Account of the Action from the Several Letters I recd. & have only to add that Colo. Christian desires me to Inform Mrs. Christian of his Wellfare, which with great Pleasure I do thro' this Channel; and should any further News come which I much Expect soon I shall take the earliest oppy. of communicating the same to you. It is believed the Troops will surely return in Novr.
I write in a hurry & amidst a Crowd of Inquisitive People therefore hopes you'll excuse the Inaccuracy of Dr. Sir
Sincere Wellwisher & most Obedt Servt
P. S. if you Please you may give Mr Purdie a Copy of the inclosed Papers & any thing else you think worth the notice of the Public