Indian Raids In Colonial Hampshire County:
Pontiac's War

by Terry Gruber

This is the beginning of a series of postings concerning Indian raids in colonial Hampshire County during Pontiac's War of 1763-64. After the French surrendered to the British in 1763, a series of strong, semi-coordinated attacks broke out on the Ohio frontier at the instigation of the Ottawa chief, Pontiac. By the summer, all of the former French forts had been captured except Detroit and Duquesne, renamed Pitt. At this time, the Indian fury began to tear into the heart of Hampshire County. The raids lost their steam in August 1764 after Colonel Henry Bouquet's resounding defeat of a large party he encountered on his way to relieve Fort Pitt. The battle site is at Bushy Run State Park, near Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

Newsworthy activities always found there way into the newspapers of the day, in spite of the fact that there were no reporters. Indian raids occurring in Virginia were frequently reported in the Pennsylvania Gazette. It is from this paper, that the following reports are gleaned. The report is from the October 6, 1763 edition.

WILLIAMSBURGH, September 16.

An express arrived in town yesterday, with letters to his Honour the Governor from Col. Stephen, by which we have the following advices, viz. That a Party of Indians attacked 6 men in Welton's Meadow, on Looney's Creek, the 20th of August, about XI at night; when they killed Michael Harness and Jonathan Welton, wounded Joab Welton, and took one Delea Prisoner. The Indian that wounded Joab Welton was upon the point of repeating the stroke with the tomahawk, and killing him, when the savage was shot by one Delea, brother to the prisoner of that name; on his discharging his piece, he was attacked by several Indians at once; the first that made up to him he knocked down with his gun, but the savages wresting it out of his hand, he knocked down another with a tomahawk, which he carried under his belt. By this time the Indians had jostled him to the place where his brother lay tied; upon seeing him taken prisoner, he immediately dropt all thoughts of further resistance, and gave himself up, expecting likewise to be taken prisoner; but they hurried him away to the Indian that was shot, tomahawked him, scalped him, and wounded him with a knife, leaving him for dead, but the poor man crawled to some hay, and covered himself up, where he was found next morning perfectly in his senses, told the whole affair circumstantially, and lived two days afterwards. On receiving this intelligence, Col. Stephen ordered Major Wilson and Captain Collins of the Hampshire militia to raise two companies of voluntiers, and pursue the enemy, as soon as they could possibly provide themselves with Provisions. Major Wilson took the rout of Looney's Creek; and Capt. Collins being ordered to reconnoiter the head branches of Pattersoncreek, he fell in with the Majorparty at the foot of the Allegheny mountains. After communicating intelligence, they thought it advisable to pursue the Indians over the mountains; accordingly, on the 30th of August, after a pursuit of 120 miles, over as rugged mountains as can be found, they came up with them on a branch of the Monongahela. Being on fresh tracks in the evening, Major Wilson was certain that their encampment was at no great distance; he therefore detached parties different ways in the night, to listen for horse bells, or see if they could discover fire: the noise of the bells directed them to the encampment, and before day they had crept within 30 paces of the enemy, and surrounded them. The orders were not to fire until it was light enough to see all the births where the Indians lay; but a big fellow rising to make up the fire, one of the party fired at him a little too soon, which brought on the engagement. This is to be attributed to the young maneagerness to revenge the death of his father, who had been killed and scalped by the savages. Major Wilson, however, routed the party, took 3 Indian scalps, wounded many more, and took 11 rifles and 2 smooth barrel guns from them, with all their war equipage, and retook a number of horses. They likewise released Delea the prisoner, and got back the three scalps taken in Welton's Meadow.

The author welcomes your e-mail comments and questions: Terry Gruber

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