October 10, 1774

THE BATTLE OF POINT PLEASANT

It was Monday, the weather was beautifully clear, the water was low in the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers. What a day for what is considered the most fiercely contested battle ever fought with Indians on this continent. There were 1100 colonial troops from Augusta, Botetourt, Culpepper, Fincastle and Bedford counties, Virginia, commanded by General Andrew Lewis and an army of Indians, 800 to 1000 strong, warriors who belonged to the Northern confederacy, Shawnee, Delaware, Mingo, Wyandotte and Cayuga tribes, commanded by their noble king, Cornstalk. Commanding officers under General Lewis were Colonel William Fleming, Colonel Charles Lewis, Colonel John Field and Colonel William Christian. Those under Cornstalk were Chiefs Logan, Bed Hawk, Blue Jacket and Elinipsico.

One historian says: "It was throughout a terrible scene-the ring of riffles and the roar of muskets, the clubbed guns, the flashing knives-the fight, hand to hand-the scream for mercy, smothered in the death groan-the crushing through the brush-the advance-the retreat-the pursuit, every man for himself, with his enemy in view-the scattering on every side-the sounds of battle, dying away into a pistol shot here and there through the wood and a shriek-the collecting again of whites, covered with gore and sweat, bearing trophies of the slain, their dripping knives in one hand, and rifle-barrel, bent and smeared with brains and hair, in the other. No language can adequately describe it."

When the battle occurred there was tension and bad feeling between the mother country and the colonists. People had tired of the taxation without representation. The Parliament of England and George III were determined to impose taxation. England, in order to occupy the attention of the colonial forces, incited the Indians to attack the frontier. During the summer of 1773, then Governor Dunmore made a pleasure trip to Fort Pitt; he established a relationship with Dr Connally, appointing him Indian agent, land agent, etc. Dr Connally adhered to Dunmore and the English cause. He began fomenting trouble and ill feeling between the colonies of Virginia and Pennsylvania, and inciting the Indian tribes to resist the western white encroachments on their hunting grounds, thus preparing the way for getting their cooperation with England against the colonies.

When the news of the December 1773 Boston Tea Party reached the Virginia Assembly in 1774, Governor Dunmore dissolved the Assembly. They opened correspondence with the other colonies and proposed a colonial congress. The first Continental Congress met in Philadelphia on September 4, 1773. Strong resolutions were passed to resist taxation and other measures; to raise minute men to resist coercion; and resolved to cease all official intercourse with the English government. During this time Dr Connally had continued to excite the Indians and united them to threaten war. The Indians were getting ready to attack.

A border war was about to take place and Lord Dunmore was still loyal to king of England. He would lead an army division from Camp Union (Lewisburg, WV) northwest over the Braddock trail, by way of Fort Pitt and would then rendezvous with General Lewis who would lead an army division over a southern route to Point Pleasant. On September 11th General Lewis broke camp and with Captain Matthew Arbuckle as guide started the march through the wilderness to Point Pleasant. They made their own roads to get the pack horses and beef cattle over. At the mouth of the Elk River the army constructed canoes to transport their commissary stores, ammunitation, and supplies by river.

General Lewis's troops encamped on the high triangular nose of land, jutting out on the north side of the Kanawha River where it empties into the Ohio River. Dunmore in the mean time was meeting with some of the envoys of the Six Nations and the Ohio tribes. He then traveled down the Ohio to the mouth of the Hockhocking and built a stockade, Fort Gower and then marched his troops up the Hockhocking Valley into Ohio. On October 9th Simon Girty and Simon Kenton arrived at Lewis's camp and explained that Lewis was to cross the Ohio and march directly to the Pickaway Plains and there join the army of his Lordship. Lewis, thus, arranged to break camp so that he could set out the next day for the Plains.

Cornstalk in the meantime, was following the movements of Lord Dunmore and the Indians were well informed of his preparations to invade their Ohio centers. Cornstalk gathered his braves and to meet the advancing foe. Seeing that the Virginia army was divided, Cornstalk determined if Lewis's division was surprised and overwhelmed, then the defeat of Dunmore could easily follow.

On Sunday, October 9th the war painted Indians moved toward the Ohio River. Here they crossed the river under the cover of darkness and arrived at Old Shawnee Town about three miles north of Point Pleasant. The outposts reported that there were no Indians within fifteen miles of Point Pleasant.

Early on Monday morning the 10th of October two soldiers left camp in search of game. When they had gone about two miles they came upon the Indians moving rapidly into position to advance. When the soldiers were fired upon they hurried back to the camp to inform General Lewis that the enemy was "covering four acres of ground". General Lewis then ordered his troops into battle array and thus the Battle of Point Pleasant had begun.

Bibliography: HISTORICAL PAGEANT, 1925; BI-CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION, 1974

Written by: Suzie Crump

Battle of Point Pleasant (October 10, 1774)

Soldiers of Battle of Point Pleasant

2003-2011 Copyright and Maintained by Suzie Crump

Last Update: May 18, 2011