HISTORY OF FOREMAN'S DEFEAT AT
MCMECHEN NARROWS IN 1777

FROM NEWSPAPER ARTICLE WRITTEN BY
PROF. J C SANDER CHAIRMAN MINERAL COUNTY
WASHINGTON BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION

At the close of the French and Indian War (1764) the Indians were mostly driven west of the Ohio River but soon after the beginning of the Revolutionary War they became allied with the British and began to make incursions east and south of the Ohio in Virginia.
In the year 1777, Western Virginia became what was then known as "The Back Door of the Revolution." Henry Hamilton, the British Lieutenant Governor at Detroit, having furnished the Indians with arms and ammunition, incited them to attack the colonists south of the Ohio River. George Washington, through the Governor of Virginia asked the various counties of the state to raise individual companies to keep or drive the Indians west of the Ohio River.
In Hampshire County this task was delegated to Captain William Foreman, and he raised a company of 45 men. Many of these names are familiar in Hampshire and Mineral Counties, such as Riser, Wilson, Pugh, Powell and Johnson.
Captain Foreman with his men marched through to Fort Henry, now Wheeling, arriving there on the 15th day of September 1777, just fifteen days after the seige of that fort.
On Sunday, the 26th of the month, in the evening a dense column of smoke was seen down the river and the commanding officer thinking that the Indians had set fire to the abandoned fort at what is now Moundsville, sent Captain Foreman and his Hampshire County men to investigate the cause of the smoke and to see if any Indians were to be found. No Indians were found and on the next day the company started to return to Fort Henry. When the troops reached the narrow pass between a steep bluff and the Ohio River known as McMechen Narrows, they were attacked by the Indians in ambush, and twenty of Hampshire County's noble warriors fell. This sad event is known in pioneer annals as "Foreman's Defeat", and long was heard the sorrowful story in the homes of the South Branch and Patterson's Creek Valleys.
On November 6, 1778, the General Assembly of Virginia passed a resolution, on petition of John Wilson and others, allowing pay to the following soldiers of Captain Foreman's Company for losses in this battle.

NAME

PROPERTY LOST

L

S

P

FOREMAN, CAPTAIN WILLIAM

RIFLE, POUCH AND HORN, POCKET COMPASS AND BLANKET

13

17

6

PETERSON, EDWARD

RIFLE-GUN, SHOT POUCH AND BLANKET

13

5

0

POWELL, BENJAMIN

RIFLE-GUN, BLANKET, SHOT POUCH AND HORN

15

10

0

FOREMAN, HAMBLETON

RIFLE-GUN, SHOT POUCH, HORN AND BLANKET

13

5

0

GREEN, JAMES

RIFLE-GUN AND BLANKET

11

17

6

WILSON, JOHN

RIFLE-GUN, SHOT POUCH, HORN AND BLANKET

11

10

0

PUGH, JACOB

RIFLE-GUN, SHOT POUCH, BLANKET AND HORN

10

3

9

HARRIS, ISAAC

RIFLE-GUN, SHOT POUCH, BLANKET AND HORN

14

17

6

MCGREW, ROBERT

BLANKET

1

2

6

SHIVER, ELISHA

BLANKET

1

2

6

RISER, HENRY

BLANKET

1

7

6

VIINEY, BARTHOLOMEW

BLANKET

1

2

6

MILLER, ANTHONY

BLANKET

1

2

6

VINCENT, JOHN

BLANKET

1

10

0

JONES, SOLOMON

BLANKET

1

10

0

INGLE, WILLIAM

BLANKET

1

2

6

FOREMAN, NATHAN

BLANKET

1

2

6

POWELL, ABRAM

BLANKET

1

17

6

LOWRY, SAMUEL

BLANKET

1

2

6

JOHNSON, SAMUEL

RIFLE-GUN, SHOT POUCH, HORN AND BLANKET

9

3

6

AMONG THE MEMBERS OF THE COMPANY WHO MADE NO CLAIM TO LOSSES WERE

WILSON, ENSIGN DAVID

COLLINS, JOHN

OGLE, JACOB

HARKNESS, ROBIN

LYNN, WILLIAM

HARNESS, ISAAC

This resolution of the General Assembly also recites that this account ought to be charged against the United States of America.

Many descendants of these brave warriors are still living within the confines of Hampshire and Mineral Counties.

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