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American Historical Society George Thornton Fleming.

History of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 online

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pp. 360-361.



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FORT PITT, 1758-1763 469

In the list of houses in 1761, one is marked vacant and another "Arti-
ficers 4." Kenney, on November 19, 1761, penned a few of his impres-
sions of the town and the fort. These are most interesting, in his quaint
style and olden-time phrasing, and one of the very few accounts that have
come down to us. He records :

ith mo. I9th - The Fort Banks here is very near raised which makes it look much
stronger than it was in times of more danger; by accounts y« front next y« inhabitants
being of brick, and corners of y* angle of hewn stone, about—foot high, y^ back part
next y« point where y« two rivers meets being of earth, and soded all so that it grows
thick of long grass that was done last year, and they have mowed y« bank several
times this summer ; it four squair with a row of barracks along each squair, three rows
of which are wooden frame, and y« row on y« back side next y* point is brick also a
large brick house built this summer in y« southeast comer, y« roof being now aputing
on, having fine steps at y* door of hewn freestone, a cellar all under it, at y^ back side
of y^ barracks opens y^ doors of y^ magazines, vaults, and dungeons; lying under y«
great banks of earth thrown out of y« great trinches, all around in these are kept y*
stores of ammunition etc., and prisoners that are to be tried for their lives; in these
vaults are no light, but do they carry lanthoms, and on y« southeast bastion stands a
high poal like a mast, and top mast to hoist y« flag on, which is hoisted on every first
day of y^ week from about 11 to i o'clock, and on state days, etc., there are three wells
of water wall'd in y« fort and a squair of clear ground in y« inside of about two
acres.M

A letter to Governor Hamilton, of Pennsylvania, shows Mercer with
his command was at Fort Augusta (now Sunbury), April 23, 1760.*^*

During the winter of 1760-1761, Colonel Vaughn, with "His Majesty's
Regiment, the Royal Welsh Volunteers," were garrisoning several posts
within communication of Pittsburgh, but Amherst, needing these troops
elsewhere, requested Governor Hamilton to provide provincial troops in
their place, but there was the usual delay in providing them. The Penn-
sylvania Council and the Assembly disagreed, and the matter went over
until the next Assembly. Monckton, much worried, appealed to Amherst,
who wrote Hamilton, stating that as it was indispensibly necessary that
Vaughn's regiment be removed from their present quarters, it was requis-
ite to send in their stead for the security and protection of the country to
the several forts and posts within the communication to Pittsburgh a
sufficient number of men properly officered. Amherst requested 300 men
so officered be raised by the Assembly for the purpose. The bill was
passed March 16, 1761, and concurred in by the Governor. Monckton, as
noted in the extracts from Craig (ante) had left Pittsburgh, October 27,

1760, but had charge of the department for some time later. March 22,

1 761, Amherst wrote again to Hamilton, stating that Monckton would
leave New York the next day in order to station the new troops and put
Vaughn's troops in motion,*®

There was little of interest here between that date and Pontiac's



M Journal, "Pennsylvania Magazine of History;" Vol. Ill, p. 35a

««"Pcnnsylvania Archives;" Vol. Ill, p. 721.

06 Various references to these items are: "Pennsylvania Ardiives;" First Series,
VoL IV, p. 39- "Colonial Records;" VoL VIII, pp. 509, S^i. /Wrf., pp. 578, 582.
''Archives;" Second Series, VoL VII, p. 4^ "O^onial Records;" Vol. VIII, p. s»
See also "Frontier Forts," etc; VoL II, pp. iio-iii.



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470 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

outbreak, as Craig has told us. There were several conferences with the
Indians at Fort Pitt during the interval. Monckton had held his great
council beginning August 12, 1760, at which many representatives of the
Western tribes were present. All were well treated, and a great trading
house set up by the Governor at Pittsburgh, and another at Fort Augusta,
Shamokin on the Susquehanna. At these stations the Indians were fur-
nished all the varieties of goods they needed at cheap rates.*^''

An English tourist in his travels prior to the Revolution, met Mer-
cer, and in his published journal after the war had a good word to say of
Mercer. This was the same man, Smyth by name, who was in Connolly's
Conspiracy, and who intended to pass through Pittsburgh on a secret
expedition.*^®

Smyth's reference to Mercer reads :

In Fredericksburg I called upon a worthy and intimate friend, Dr. Hugh Mercer,
a physician of great merit and eminence, and as a man possessed of almost every virtue
and accomplishment. He was a native of Scotland, was bred to physic and surgery,
but having a talent for military affairs, left the line of healing for that of war, in
which he soon distinguished himself, and acquired the provincial rank of Lieutenant-
Colonel during the former war, wherein he had served with great credit and char-
acter, had been dangerously wounded, and surmounted many great perils and difficul-
ties. Dr. Mercer was afterwards a Brigadier general in the American army; to accept
of which appointment I have reason to believe he was greatly influenced by General
Washington, with whom he had been long in habits of intimacy and bonds of friend-
ship; for Dr. Mercer was generally of a just and moderate way of thinking, possessed
liberal sentiments and a generosity of principle very uncommon among those with
whom he embarked.

This worthy but mistaken and unfortunate person was killed at Prince Town in the
Jerseys, where he was then commanding in the American army as one of their Briga-
dier-Generals. The loss to them was great, and truly lamented by his friend General
Washington.<^<>

To make clear the history of the three forts at the Forks of the Ohio,
the following resume is appended :

Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt as terms are used interchangeably by
some historians — however, never by real historians. Even the block
house erected by Col. Henry Bouquet has been made to serve as both
forts as occasion or whim demanded.

To get at the facts in proper order, let us always remember that Fort
Duquesne was built by the French forces under Contrecoeur, who sur-
prised and captured Ensign Edward Ward, second in command of a small
Virginia detachment under Capt William Trent, April 17, 1754. The
French fort that arose in place of the little work begun by the Virginians
was named in honor of Duquesne de Menneville, then governor-general
at Quebec. It was burned November 24, 1758, when the army under
Gen. John Forbes was within a day's march of the Forks of the Ohio, or
while at Turtle Creek on the just completed Forbes road. The smoke of
the fort apparent, the army hastened its footsteps to find the fort a ruin.



5TCf. "Pennsylvania Archives;" First Series, Vol. Ill, p. 744-. "Colonic Rec-
ords;" Vol. VIII, pp. 646, 739.

c^8<<0lden Time;^' Vol II, p. 106, quoted from Smyth's book.
••"A Tour in America;" J. F. D. Smyth, VoL II, pp. IS4-ISS.



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FORT PITT, 1758-1763 471

Then arose the first Fort Pitt in December, 1758, the command of
which was given to that gallant Virginian, Col. Hugh Mercer. This fort
was about four hundred yards from Fort Duquesne, that is to say, the
site of that fortification or its remains.

The next year there was built by the orders of the British ministry
by Gen. John Stanwix who came here, the second, or permanent Fort
Pitt, which lasted until 1791. It was a really formidable work for a
wilderness fort. Bouquet, who was at the taking of Fort Duquesne, or
what remained of it, November 25, 1758, was here again with his succor-
ing force fresh from his great victory over Guyasutha at Bushy Run,
August 5, 1763*. The next year, before his departure on the expedition to
the Muskingum country, he had erected outside the main walls of Fort
Pitt the pentagon shaped little blockhouse that has remained to us. It
was intended as an outpost for riflemen to prevent surprise by any
enemies entering within the outer fortifications by reason of low water
in the rivers and the draining of the ditches. The original rifle holes may
be seen in the building. Fort Pitt was five-sided, necessitating the block
house likewise. In the wall of the block house Bouquet placed the stone
tablet that is now seen there, reading: "A. D. 1764, Coll. Bouquet." The
abbreviation is with two Is, an old time form, and after the A and D are
stars. After the date and the abbreviation, "Coll." is a sign that resem-
bles the letter S on its side.

This tablet fully establishes the date of erection and the builder. We
now come to the query: "How can a small brick block house, 16 feet
front, figure as a formidable earthwork that was blown up six years
previous to the erection of the block house ?" Similarly : "How can Fort
Pitt, the second fortress, be confounded with the French Fort Duquesne
which passed out of existence at least ten months before any work was
done on Pitt?"

In fact these forts had nothing in common save that they were built
for a similar purpose : each was intended to further and perpetuate the
sovereignty of the nation whose flag it flied. The close proximity of their
sites has confused many, especially those who "did not stop to think."




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CHAPTER XXIII.
When Pontiac Struck.

When the great Pontiac struck he struck suddenly and hard — ^in more
than one place, too. Three only of the English forts held out against the
hordes of Pontiac's Algonquin allies, who hjad in a moment changed
from friends to foes to the English, and become besiegers. Niagara, too
strong, was in little danger. Detroit was saved as by a miracle; Fort
Pitt withstood a long siege and was relieved by the gallant Bouquet and
his once sturdy Highlanders, physically ill-fitted for the task, and the
few Colonial troops he could secure. Forbes came to Fort Duquesne and
obtained a bloodless victory. Bouquet fought his way through, and at
the rivulet known as Bushy Run gave to the world for all time an
example of intrepidity, unsurpassed in the annals of border warfare in
America. True, — ^it has been equalled. With Bouquet there could be no
thought of failure — ^no halting, no halfway measures. It was go through,
and he went. Fort Pitt was saved.

The conspiracy of Pontiac has been written of time and again. All
historians attest the marvelous mentality of the great Ottawa who organ-
ized the widespread revolt against the English, and failed after much
bloodshed, and early successes that were futile, and valueless to him.

Parkman, in his inimitable manner, has told the story of the con-
spiracy of Pontiac — ^and all the story. The relative danger of Detroit
and Pittsburgh will be apparent. The chief conspirator himself deigned
to take Fort Detroit. His Mingo subordinate, Guyasutha, essayed to
capture Pitt. Both were humiliated and defeated. All of the harrowing
tales of the fall of the little forts cannot be given. Some of them must
appear in the narration of events at Pittsburgh during the days of terror
there in the summer of 1763. In this narration one should go back to the
days of French dominancy and recite again the long story of how, from
year to year, the discontent of the Pennsylvania Algonquins grew apace,
and it needed only the machinations of a master mind who came with
flaming torch to spread a devastating fire. The memories of the Long
Walk, the taking of the Juniata Valley hunting grounds and a long series
of wrongs were burning memories, whose light never darkened. Re-
venge had been partly obtained under the French regime, but although
the French Indian allies had carried the tomahawk and the torch to the
Delaware, they had not, cotdd not, come back to their old homes along
and east of the Susquehanna. Though Post had withheld the aid of the
Delawares and Shawnese from the French at a critical period, he had no
inkling of a general Algonquian uprising. Though he was then living at
one of the Tuscarawas towns in 1763, one hundred miles west of Fort
Pitt, it does not appear that he knew that a great blow would soon be
struck. We may believe the conspirator nations took good care that the
converted Delawares on the Tuscarawas did not receive any information
for fear some Christian would consider it a duty to apprise the English



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474 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

commander at Fort Pitt of the trend of events, and look upon the over-
hanging cloud of devastation — as in exact manner Gladwyn was in-
formed at Detroit in the very moment of Pontiac's success, v\rith the
fatal hatchet about to fall with crushing force on Gladwyn and his garri-
son. [Note the more common spelling "Gladwyn," instead of "Gladwin,"
ante]. The change of sovereignty, too, had its mighty influences. From
Onontio to King George of Great Britain was a great leap. We read of
these facts with keen appreciation of their truth :

To the Indian tribes, natural owners of the country, the change was nothing but a
disaster. They had held, in a certain sense, the balance of power between the rival
colonies of France and England. Both had bid for their friendship, and both com-
peted for the trade with them. The French had been the more successful. Their influ-
ence was predominant among all the interior tribes, while many of the border Indians,
old allies of the English, had of late abandoned them in favor of their rivals. While
the French had usually gained the good will, often the ardent attachment, of the tribes
with whom they came in contact, the English, for the most part, had inspired only jeal-
ousy and dislike. This dislike was soon changed to the most intense hatred. Lawless
traders and equally lawless spectators preyed on the Indians; swarms of squatters
invaded the lands of the border tribes, and crowded them from their homes.

No race on earth has a more intense and unyielding individuality than the Indian.
To the weakness and vices inseparable from all low degrees of human development, he
joins a peculiar reserve and pride. He will not coalesce with superior races, and will
not imitate them. When enslaved, he dies, kills himself, kills his master, or runs away.
It has been his lot to be often hated, but seldom thoroughly despised. His race has
never received a nickname, and he has never served as a subject of amusement. There
is some humor in him, but he is too grim a figure to be laughed at. One is almost
constrained to admire the inflexible obstinacy with whidr he clings to his own person-
ality, rejects the advances of civilization, and prefers to die as he has lived.

Such, indeed, is the alternative ; and it was after the peace of 1763 that this inex-
orable sentence of civilization or destruction was first proclaimed over the continent in
tones no longer doubtful.

That the Indians understood the crisis, it would be rash to affirm; but they felt
it without fully understanding it. The result was the great Indian war under Pontiac.
The tribes leagued together, rose to drive out the English, and the frontiers were swept
with fire. The two great forts, Detroit and Fort Pitt, alone withstood the assailants,
and both were reduced to extremity. Pontiac himself, with the tribes of the Lakes,
bdeaguered Detroit, while the Delawares and Shawanese, with some of the Wyandottes,
laid seige, in their barbarous way, to Fort Pitt, or Pittsburgh. Other bands of the same
tribes meanwhile ravaged the frontiers of Pennsylvania, burning houses, murdering
settlers, laying waste whole districts, and producing an indescribable distress and con-
sternation. ^

S. G. Drake, in a little work, has aptly told of some conditions pre-
ceding the outbreak. Speaking of the change of sovereignty, Drake says :

All thinking men saw that such a political upheaval as this would l^ve many
ugly questions unsettled. In the first place, a vanquished population of foreigners was
to be reconciled. As to this, the temper of the Canadians was sullen, though subdued.
England was no less hated that her rule was silently assented to. Not so, however,
with the French Indians. They also, were sullen, but unsubdued. This feeling was
artfully kept alive by the French traders, who often secretly hinted that English rule
would soon come to an end.

Fickle as these savages were, habit had strongly attached them to the French.
Many spoke the language. Some had been baptized. Others had intermarried with the
traders and bush-rangers, so that there had come to be in most villages a distinct body



i"An Historical Account of an Expeditioo against the Ohio Indians, etc;" Intro-
duction, pp. xiii-xiv.



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WHEN PONTIAC STRUCK 475

of half-breeds, who might be described as uniting the worst qualities of both races.
Not unfrequently these strangers had been adopted into the tribes, and sometimes made
chiefs. Such bonds as these, it is plain, could not be sundered in a day.

When the Indians were told that they would shortly see themselves turned out of
their hunting grounds, they believed it. Savage though he was, the Indian could not
fail to read the signs of the times in the history of his race. Within the memory of
their old men his people had been pushed over the Endless Mountains by the ever-
advancing whites, who also drove back the game, so that every year the range grew
less and less. Their wise men said that either the white men must turn back, or the
Indians all turn women and hoe corn for the Englishmen.^

Bishop De Schweinitz, in his biography of Zeisberger the Moravian
missionary among the Delawares, naturally had to write much of Pon-
tiac's uprising. Referring to the growing power of the English, De
Schweinitz says:

No one realized this more keenly than Pontiac, the great chief of the Ottawas.
The Iroquois, and especially the Senecas, in spite of Sir William Johnston's unceased
efforts, had for two years been looking with extreme distrust upon the progress of the
British flag, and had incited the Delawares and Shawanese to take up the hatchet ; and
the Delawares and Shawanese had again stirred up the tribes of the West with the
note of alarm, "The English mean to make slaves of us, by occupying so many posts
in our country!" But it is not likely that a well-concerted, general rising of the
natives would have occurred had it not been for Pontiac. He was the head of the
confederacy which embraced his own tribe and the Ojibiwas and Potawatomies, but
exercised, also, undisputed and supreme influence throughout the Northwest, being "the
king and lord of all that country," as Rogers called him. Endowed with natural quali-
fications of a high order, bom to rule, brave, far-sighted, a wild statesman, and a sav-
age hero, he organized and upheld that conspiracy which has made his name famous,
which had for its aim the expulsion of the English from the American continent, which
inflicted severe injury upon the Colonies, and which might have been successful had
France, as he hoped, lent her aid.

As the year 1762 drew to a close, Pontiac sent out his ambassadors.
They passed through the entire West to the many tribes that hunted
there ; they proceeded far down the Mississippi, almost to its mouth ; they
everywhere displayed the broad war-belt of the chief, and rehearsed his
words of fiery eloquence, calling upon all red men to save the race to
which they belonged from slavery and ruin. A chief of the Abanakis,
who gave out that he was possessed of a prophetic spirit, and that the
Great Manitou commanded the extirpation of the English, effectually
seconded Pontiac's scheme, until nearly the whole Algonquin stock of
Indians, the Wyandots, several tribes of the lower Mississippi, and the
Senecas, were banded in a conspiracy.

With the subtleness for which the aborigines are noted, this widespread plot was
kept a secret In February of the new year, when the peace of Paris had been ratified
(February 10, 1763) which gave a continent to England, not one of her Colonial officers
suspected that, in all the villages of the West, the savages were silently preparing to
wrench that continent from her grasp. On the twenty-seventh of April, Pontiac con-
vened a council on the bank of the Ecorces, a small stream not far from Detroit Rep*
resentatives of many tribes were present; and their deep ejaculations of assent to the
chief's impetuous speech showed that they were terribly in earnest First Detroit, next
the other posts and forts— the garrisons of which severally numbered a mere handful
of men—were to be captured, and then desolation, with bloody strides, was to take its
way to the settlements.^



2"Making of the Ohio Vallgr States;" Drake, pp. 80-81.

9-Uit and Times of David Zeisberger;" £. De Schweinitz, pp. a68-J7a



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476 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

The good Zeisberger was greatly perturbed on account of the Chris-
tian Indians, many of whom he assisted to safety. Zeisberger was at
Wyoming when he heard of Pontiac's conspiracy. "The whole valley,"
relates Bishop De Schweinitz, "rang with the news, and the scattered
Christian and friendly Indians were preparing to leave. The war had
broken out in all its vengeful fury. While nature was robing the forests
of the West in the green mantle of May, the savages had silently stolen
through them, seized most of the forts unawares, and massacred the gar-
risons. Thus fell St. Joseph, Miami, Ouatanon, Venango, and Michili-
machinac. Detroit, the most important post of all, the honor of taking
which Pontiac had reserved for himself, remained, indeed, in the hands
of the English, his plot having been betrayed to Major Gladwyn ; but the
fort was now regularly and closely besieged by seven hundred savages.
In the course of June, Presque Isle capitulated, and Le Bceuf was de-
serted."*

The growing discontent among the Pennsylvania Indians was long a
source of worry to Charles Thomson, who wrote his well known work,
frequently referred to in this history, under the abbreviated title, "Aliena-
tion of the Delawares and Shawanese, etc.," or simply "Alienation," pub-
lished in 1759, four years after Braddock's defeat, and the year the perma-
nent Fort Pitt arose. In his introduction, Thomson says :

It has been to many a cause of wonder, how it comes to pass that the English have
so few Indians in their interest, while the French have so many at command ; and by
what means and for what reason those neighboring tribes, in particular, who, at the
first arrival of the English in Pennsylvania, and for a long series of years afterwards,
showed every mark of affection and kindness, should become our most bitter enemies,
and treat those whom they had so often declared they looked upon us as their brethren,
nay as their own flesh and blood, with such barbarous cruelties.

By some, they are looked upon as faithless and perfidious; while others, consid-
ering their former friendship, the many services they have done the English, and the
steady attachment they have showed to our interest during several wars with the
French, imagine there must be some cause for this change in their behaviour.

The Indians themselves, when called upon in a public treaty, to explain the motives
of their conduct, declare that the solicitations of the French, joined with the abuses
they have suffered from the English, particularly in being cheated and defrauded of
their land, have at length induced them to become our enemies and to make war
upon us.

That the French have been active to draw off the Indians, and engage them in their
interests, was not doubted ; but as to the complaints that they made of abuses received
from the English, and of their being wronged of their land, much pains have been taken
to represent them as groundless, and only lame excuses for their perfidiousness. Nay,
some have gone so far as to say that these complaints are the effects of the unhappy
divisions that prevailed in this government.

In order, therefore, to clear up these points and to examine into the foundation and
truth of these complaints, recourse has been had to as many of the treaties and con-
ferences held between the Indians and the government, for about thirty years past, as
could be procured.

It is a matter of no small consequence to know that the ground of complaints made
by the Indians, that in case they are false, justice may be done to the characters of those
who are injured thereby, and, if true, that proper remedies may be applied and the



Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 67 of 81)