THE DEVASTATION OF PONTIAC'S WAR, 1763-1764

by Terry Gruber

The hostilities between England and France, known in North America as the French and Indian War, ended by formal treaty between the two nations and their allies in 1763. However, France's North American allies, the various Indian tribes, were not consulted in the peace agreement between the European powers. They were not very pleased with the agreement struck by their ally.

A growing nativist movement among them, which began around the 1740's, saw its first powerful leader in Pontiac, an Ottawa chief. At his instigation and leadership, the former French-allied Indians began a coordinated and last-ditch effort to stop the English westward expansion in the spring of 1763.

They captured and isolated the former French forts around the lakes, now occupied by English troops. Fort Detroit and Fort Pitt were the only holdouts, though completely isolated.

The peace and prosperity enjoyed since the fall of Fort Duquesne at the close of 1758 came abruptly to a halt in Hampshire County. Serious, devastating raids suddenly broke out without warning. The county had not seen such destruction since the outbreaks of violence in the fall 1755 and spring 1756.

The climax of the native American counterstroke occurred at the rather unimaginatively named Bushy Run (a lot of Rhododendron in the area) near present Greensburg, Pennsylvania. A relief force, led by Col. Henry Bouquet, headed for Fort Pitt was ambushed at 1 o'clock in the afternoon of August 4th. After a two day battle, the Indians were routed; the attacks lost their steam thereafter.

In The Papers of Henry Bouquet, vol. 6, there are several reports of those killed and missing in Hampshire County and elsewhere. The following chart and extracts are taken from this volume. Spellings and punctuation remain as in the original.

OURRY TO BOUQUET        FORT BEDFORD JULY Ye13th 1763

"The Indians carried off Some Days ago two Boys from near Pearsall's Fort, one of which is returned, & reports that they were eight that took them."
RETURN OF PERSONS KILLED OR TAKEN BY INDIANS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF FORT PITT
[30 September 1763]
Date Where Killed &c Names &c Number of
Persons
May 28th On the Yoxio Geni Colonel Clapham and Family
Killed and Scalped
5
29. At the Saw-Mill Fort Pitt two Soldiers of the Royal
American Regiment Kill'd
and Scalped
 
June 12. At Ligonier Michael Harman Killed 1
17. Near Fort Bedford James Clark, and Peter
Vanest Killed and Scalped
2
18. Ditto Christopher Diven, his
Father, Wife and 6 Children
Vizt 5 Sons & 1 Daughter Killed
9
28. Ditto James Beaty Taken 1
30. Ditto William Lyon, Andrew Enochs and
Thomas Guilding,
killed & Scalped
3
July 3rd Ditto Aaron Wallace, Taken NB
Return'd the Next Day
1
4th Ten Miles above
Fort Cumberland
Henry Rowe, & Wm Anderson
Killed and Scalped
2
12. Near Fort Bedford Henry Horshaw, Stabbed and
Beheaded
1
13. Near Coll. Cresaps,
Maryland
John Wade Killed 1
14. On South Branch
Potowmack
two Boys, Vizt Collins &
Sullivan, Killed and
Scalped
2
" Ditto Two Girls, named Delong
Scalped
2
15th At Coll. Cresaps Mr Samuel Stansby Welder,
killed
1
Total  31
Ls. Ourry

Killed of the Militia
near Fort Pitt
Adam Miller
George Slinkahorn James Thompson
...3  
Killed within Cumberland County
in Pennsylvania Eastward of the Allegheny Mountains by Coll. Armstrongs Account of the 26th of August


...48
Recapitulation
Between the Lakes
and Fort Pitt
Between Fort Pitt
and Bedford
Between Bedford & Susquehanna

88

34

48
In all 170

In the letter extract, Pearsall's Fort was in present Romney, West Virginia. In looking at the lists of those killed near Forts Ligonier, Bedford, and Cumberland, it is possible some of the men were military contractors going to or returning from Fort Pitt or Fort Bedford. A couple names are familiar last names in colonial Hampshire County, namely, Michael Harman and Andrew Enochs. There is no indication if these men were killed at their homes or on the road with packhorses.

The following is from a series of enclosures sent to Bouquet from Lt. Gov. Francis Fauquier on 15 December 1764. The letter and enclosures pertain to the findings of various official committees investigating some misconduct charges of Adam Stephen. In it there is a passing mention of some activity around the month of June 1763 in Frederick and Hampshire Counties. The event is mentioned in Kercheval's Valley of Virginia and is the only event described in his book, concerning the French and Indian War, that is wholly corroborated in a primary source:

"It Appears that during the absence of the said Parties from their Posts, two Men were killed in the Neighborhood of Formans Fort by the Indians..."
Formans Fort was located about 4 miles north of present Romney, West Virginia.

For further reading about Indian diplomacy and the nativist movement:

BIBLIOGRAPHY


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

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