Franklin Ellis.

History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men online

. (page 20 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 20 of 193)
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the Monongahela and i Miio Kiveix. It is not known
or believed that any mm iVom what is now Fayette
County served in these campaigns under Williamson,
and tliey are only noticed here because they were
connected in smne degree with Col. Crawford's Indian
campaign, which immediately followed them, and of
which a more cxtomled narrative will be given.

Williamson's tirst expedition, consisting of be-
tween seventy-five and one hundred men, went out
late in the fall of 1781. The reason for this move-
ment against the peaceable Moravian Indians was
that many of the frontiei-men believed, or professed
to believe, tliat tliey (the Moravians) were .secretly in
league witli the warlike savages who lived farther to
the west; that even if they did not fake active part
in t!ie tiv.iuenl raids and Imtcheries, they did at least
give shelter, sulisisiencc, ami information to the
Shawanese and Wyandnt warriors, and some even
believed that the Mnravians themselves mingled with
the war-parties and wielded the knife and tomahawk.
Williamson, in this expedition, did not intend to
use lire ami sw.ird, but to induce the Indians of the
Moravian towns to remove farther from the Ohio, or,
if he failed to acc(nn|ili>h this, to take them all as pris-
oners to I'ort Pitt. With this intention he moved his
force rapidly towards their towns on the Muskingum.
I!ut ill ill' 1111:111 time he had been forestalled in his
projected work by a large party of the hostile In-
dians who charged the Moravians with being in

league with the whites, and on this plea liad visited
their towns, broken them up, driven the people away 1
to Sandusky, and carried the white Moravian mis-;
sionaries residing among them, prisoners to Detroit. 1
On his arrival at the towns, Williamson found :
them deserted, except by a small party of the Jlora-
vians, who had been driven away, but who had been
allov.-ed by their captors to return for the purpose of
gathering some corn which had been left standing in •
the fields near the villages. This party he took pris-
oners and marched them to Fort Pitt, where, however,
they were soon after set at liberty by Gen. Irvine, the <

The second expedition led by Col. AVilliamson
against the Moravian settlements was made up, on the
frontier in the latter part of February, and completed
its bloody work in March, 1782. It was composed !
of volunteers (mostly mounted) from the country
west of the Monongahela,' but no lists of their names
or places of residence have been preserved, a fact
which is not strange in view of the odium which has
justly attached to the expedition and its barbarous
work during the century which has followed its exe-

In the winter of 1781-82 about one hundred and
fifty of the Moravian Indians (including many women
and children), who had been driven awaj' from their
towns in the preceding autumn, were permitted byv
the Wyandot chiefs to return to them to secure the
corn which was still left in the fields there, and to
make preparations for a new crop. The kind manner
in which Gen. Irvine had treated their people who
had been carried as prisoners to Fort Pitt the previous
fall had reassured them, so that they came back to
the villages without much fear of violence from the
! whites east of the Ohio.

The weather in the month of February had been
remarkably fine, so that war-parties of Indians from
Sandusky had been able to move earlier than usual,
and had committed many depredations in the white
settlements. As these inroads had occurred so early
in the season it was generally believed by the settlers
that the hostile parties had not come all the way from
the Sandusky towns, but that the outrages were either
committed by Moravians or by hostile Indians from
the west who had been sheltered by them, and had

1 Stunc, in liis "Life of Brant," ii. 220, says, "A liand of lietwcen
one and two liuiulred men from tlie settlements of tlie Monon^aliclu
t'lrned ont in quest of tlie marauders [tlioso wlio had committed atrocN
lies on tlie fioiilier east of tlie Oliio, and part of whom were supposed
to lie the Moravians], IhirsUng for vengeance, under tlie conmmnd of
Col. David Williamson."

On page 143 of "Contributions to American History," published by
the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, is found the following :" Itt
I^Iareli, ITsj. .me liiiiidreil and sixty militiamen living upon the Monon-
gatiil.L - : :: :: i, - I i.k Id the Bluskingum, in order to destroy three


inade the Muskiugum settlements their base of oper- other houses. This done they went to the other

lations. It was declared that in either case the blame
was chargeable on the Moravians, and as a consequence
jthe frontiersmen resolved to destroy them. The hor-
Irible story of the manner in which this was accom-
plished by 'Williamson's men is told in the Pennsyl-
vania Archives, 1781-83, page 524, as follows:

"Eelation of what Frederick Linebach was told by
two of his Neighbours living near Delaware River,
above Easton, who were just returned from the Mo-
nongahela :

That some time in February one hundred & sixty
Men, living upon Monaungahela set off on Horse-
back to the Muskingum, in order to destroy Three
Indian Settlements, of which they seemed to be sure
of being the Touns of some Enemy Indians. After
coming nigh to one of the Touns they discovered
some Indians on both sides of the River Muskingum.
They then concluded to divide themselves in Two
parties, the one to cross the River and the other to
attack those Indians on this side. When the party
got over the River they saw one of the Indians coming
up towards them. They laid themselves flat on the
ground waiting till the Indian was nigh enough, then
of them shot the Indian and broke his arm ; then
three of the Militia ran towards him with Toma-
hawks ; when they were yet a little distance from
him he ask'd them why they had fired at him ; he was
Minister Shebnshch's (John Bull's) Son, but they
took no notice of what he said, but killed him on the
Spot. They then surrounded the field, and took all
the other Indians Prisoners. The Indians told them
that they were Christians and made no resistance,
n-hen the Militia gave them to understand that they
Qiust bring thou as Prisoners to Fort Pitt they seemed
to be very glad. They were ordered to prepare them-
selves for the Journey, and to take all their Effects
along with them. Accordingly they did so. They

ere asked how it came they had no Cattle ? They
inswered that the small Stock that was left them had
Deen sent to Sandusky.

" In the Evening the Militia held a Council, when
he Commander of the Militia told his men that he
.vould leave it to their choice either to carry the In-
lians as Prisoners to Fort Pitt or to kill them ; when
:hey agreed that they should be killed. Of this Res-
olution of the Council they gave notice to the In-
lians by two Messengers, who told them that as they
lad said they were Christians they would give them
:ime this night to prepare themselves accordingly.
Hereupon the Women met together and sung Hymns
& Psalms all Night, and so likewise did the Men, and
vept on singing as long as there were three left. 'In
he morning the Militia chose Two houses, which
hey called the Slaughter Houses, and then fetched
he Indians two or three at a time with Ropes about
heir Necks and dragged them into the Slaughter
louses, where they knocked them down ; then they
let these Two houses on Fire, as likewise all the

Towns and set fire to the Houses, took their plunder,
and returned to the Monaungahela, where they held a
Vendue among themselves. Before these Informants
came away it was agreed that 600 men should meet
on the 18th of March to go to Sandusky, which is
about 100 Miles from the Muskingum."

The number of Moravian Indians killed was re-
ported by Williamson's party on their return at.
eighty-eight, but the white Moravian missionaries in
their account gave the number of the murdered ones
as ninety-six, — sixty-two adults, male and female, and
thirty-four children.

The result of this expedition gave great mortifica-
tion and grief to Gen. Irvine, who tried, as far as lay
in his power, to suppress all accounts of the horrible
details. By those who were engaged in the bloody
work it was vehemently asserted that their action
was generally approved by the people of the frontier
settlements; but it is certain that the statement was
unfounded. Col. Edward Cook, of Cookstown (now
Fayette City), the county lieutenant of Westmore-
land (who had succeeded the unfortunate Col. Lochry
in that office in December, 1781), in a letter addressed
by him to President Moore, dated Sept. 2, 1782, ex-
pressed himself in regard to this Moravian massacre
as follows:

"... I am informed that you have it Reported
that the Massacre of the Moravian Indians Obtains
the Approbation of Every man on this side of the
Mountains, which I assure your Excellency is false;
that the Better Part of the Community are of Opinioa
the Perpetrators of that wicked Deed ought to be
Brought toCondeiu Punishment; that without some-
thing is Done by Government in the Matter it will
Disgrace the Annals of the United States, and be an
Everlasting Plea and Cover for British Cruelty."
And the testimony of a man of the character and
standing of Col. Edward Cook is above and beyond
the possibility of impeachment.


Even before the disbandment of the volunteers
composing Williamson's expedition the project had
been formed for a new and more formidable one to
be raised to inarch against the Indian towns at San-
dusky, the headquarters of the hostile tribes that
were so constantly and persistently depredating the
frontier settlements east of the Ohio. INIention of
such a project is found in Linebach's "Relation" (be-
fore quoted), where he says, "It was agreed that six
hundred men should meet on the 18th of March to
go to Sandusky. . . ." Whether this was the incep-
tion of the plan or not, it is certain that immediately
afterwards it was known to, and favorably entertained
by, nearly all the people living west of tlie Laurel

As a matter of course, the first step to be taken was
to lay the matter before the commandant at Fort


Pitt, Gen. Irvine, to secure his countenance and
approbation. Tliat this was successfully accora- I
plished is shown by the following extract from a
letter written by the general to President Moore of
the Council, dated Fort Pitt, May 9, 1782, viz. :

" A volunteer expedition is talked of against San-
dusky, which, if well conducted, may be of great ser- j
vice to this country; if they behave well on this oc-
casion it may also in some measure atone for the
barbarity they are charged with at Muskingum.
They have consulted me, and shall have every coun- I
tenance in my power if their numbers, arrangements, '
etc., promise a prospect of success." There is in the
tone of this letter an evident resolve on the part of
the general that this new expedition should be very
differL-iit in cliaracter from that which had so recently
and so barlxirou^ly executed vengeance against the !
unresisting Moravians; and this was afterwards made
still, more apparent by his determined opposition to
Col. Williamson .as commander. !

The direction and control of the projected expedi- ^
tion was, of course, with Gen. Irvine, as the command-
ing oflBcer of the deiiarlment. "It was as carefully
considered and as authoritatively planned as any
militarv enterprise in the West during the Revolution.
As a distinct undertaking, it was intended to be effect-
ual in ending the troubles upon the western frontiers
of Pennsylvania and Virginia. Its promoters were
not only the principal military and civil officers in
the Western Department, but a large proportion of
the best-known and most influential private citizens."
According to the plan of the expedition, it was to be
made up of volunteers, each one of whom was to
equip himself with a horse, arms, and supplies; and
it was o-iven out, and not doubted, that the State of
Pennsylvania would reimburse all who might sustain
losses in the campaign. Great exertions were made
to induce men to volunteer, and the result was a
rapid recruitment. IMauy who were willing to serve
in the expedition were unable to equip themselves
for a campaign in the Indian country, but in nearly
all such cases some friend was found who would
loan a horse or furnish supplies. The dangerous j
and desperate nature of the enterprise was fully un- '
derstood, yet such enthusiasm was exhibited in all '
the settlements that in the early part of May the ,
number of men obtained was regarded as sufficient <
for the successful accomplishment of the purjjoses of ;
the campaign.

The volunteers composing the expedition were
nearly all from the country then comprised in the
counties of Westmoreland and Washington. Of those
raised in the former county many were from the vi-
cinity of Uniontown and Georges Creek, and from
the valleys of the Youghiogheny and Redstone.
These collected at Redstone Old Fort, where they
were joined by men from the settlements lower down
the Monongahela and Youghiogheny. Crossing the
:\Ionongahela at the mouth of Dunlap's Creek, they

proceeded northwestwardlj', receiving considerable
accessions to their numbers from the settlements on
Ten-Mile and at Catfish.' From the latter point they
moved on through Washington County and across
what is now known as the Pan Handle of West Vir-
ginia (where their numbers were still further aug-
mented) to the Ohio River, at a point on its left bank
opposite Mingo Bottom,- the appointed rendezvous of
the expedition, where the volunteers had been directed
to assemble on the 20th of May.

The enthusiasm in favor of the expedition was so
great in the settlements and among the volunteers
that as early as the 15th of the month a great propor-
tion of them had made all their arrangements^ and
were on their way to the place of meeting. But they
did not all arrive at the time appointed, and it was not
until the morning of the 24th that the last of the vol-
unteers had crossed from the Virginia side to the
rendezvous. When, on the same day, the forces were
mustered on the Mingo Bottom, it was found that four
hundred and eighty * mounted men were present,
ready and eager for duty. ^ Of this number fully
three hundred were from Washington County, while
of the remainder the greater part were from the terri-
tory of the present county of Fayette, only a compar-
atively small number having been raised in the other
parts of Westmoreland, and about twenty in the Pan
Handle of Virginia,"

Following is a list of men from what is now Fay-
ette County who accompanied the expedition. The

icat of WiLsliiiigton Coiintj, Pa.
J "CM Miiigu Town," is on the
> aud a Lair miles below SIcuben

1 Xuw Wusliiugton, the count

-Mingo Buttoui, the .site of
bank of the Ohio Kiver, about 1

3 Bntterfield, in his " Expedition agjiiiist Sandusky," s.njs, " It is a tra-
dition — nay, au established fact — that many, aside from the ordinary ar-
i-iuigemenls necessary for a month's absence (not so much, however,
from a presentiment of disaster as from that prudence wliich careful and
thoughtful men are prone to exercise), executed deeds 'iu consideration
of love and affectiou,' and nniny witne^es w*ere called in to subscribe
to * last wills and testaments.* " The commander of the cxpeditiou, Col.
Crawford, executed his will before departing on the fatal journey to the


' Lieut. John Rose (usually mentioned in accounts of the expedition
M"j. Itose), an aide-de-camp of Gen. Irvine, who had been detailed for
3 same duty with the commander of this expedition, wrote to the gen-
ii ou the evening of the 24111 from Mins;M, and in the letter ho
d, '*0ur number is actually four hun.i[ii ir.i . ij i\ ir . n " Tiiiswas
nore favorable result than had been i,,', ; >: i- :, wu tiy a let-
■ written three days before (May 21sl( l . .,, ., \\,i.- _;,,i, hy Gen.Ir-

. the 1


: tills d

at Mingo Bottom, all on horseback, with thirty days' pi-ovisions. . . . U
tluir number exceeds three hundred I am of opiniou they nuiy succeed,
as their march will be so rapid they will probably, iu a great degree,
effect a surprise."

" "All were in high spirits. Everywhere around there was a jdeasur-
able excitement. Jokes were bandied and sorrows at parting with loved
ones at home quite forgotten, at least could outward appearances be relied
upon. Nevertheless furtive glances up the western hillsides into tbo.
deep woods kept alive in the minds of some the dangerous purpose ofall^
this bustle and activity."— ftiHern'i-dr" Bulorical AccouiU o/ the Exped'f
lion ti,jaiiiHl gmidiisli/ uiijer O't. ^\^illUlm Orair/oril.

c Col. Marshal, of Washington County, in a letter addressed to Gon.
Irvine, dated May 29, 17S2, claimed that of the 4S0 men composing thS'
forces of the expedition ;i20 were from his county, 2C from Ohio County,;
'\'a., and the remainder (or, as he said, about 13M) from the county of



list (which is not claimed to be a complete one, but
which certainly embraces the greater part of those
who went from this county) is made up from various
sources, but principally from the minutes of a " Court
of Appeal" (a military tribunal) held at various times
in the spring and summer of 1782 at Uniontown,
before Alexander McClean, sub-lieutenant of the
countv, viz. :

James Collins.
Abraham Plunket.
John Alton.
JIoscs Smith.
Thomas Patton.
Reuben Kemp.
Barnabas Walters.
John Patrick.
Josiah Rich.
Jlichael Andrews.
Peter Patrick.
Thomas Ross.
Isaac Prickett.
William Ross.
Jeremiah Cook.
James Waits.
Thomas Carr.
Joshua Reed.
Richard Clark.
Silvanus Barnes.
George McCristy.
Joseph Moore.
John Collins.
George Scott.
Edward Thomas.
Alexander McOwen.
Obadiah Stillwell.
Levi Bridgewater.
Jonas Same.
Matthias Neiley.
George Pcarce.
Abraham White.
James Clark.
John Lucas.
Jeremiah Gard.
Daniel Harbaugh.
James Paull.
John Rodgers.
John Sherrard.
John Crawford.
Uriah Springer.
Christopher Beeler.

John Smilie.
Michael Frank.
James Wood.
James Rankin.
Edward Hall. '
James Downard.
Zachariah Brashears.
Henry Coxe.
John Chadwick.
John Hardin, Jr.
George Robins.
Dennis Callaghan.
Thomas Kendall.
Joseph Huston.
Crisley Cofraan.
Jacob Weatherholt.
John Jones.
John Walters.
Charles Hickman.
Henry Hart.
Caleb Winget.
Webb Hayden.
William Jolliff.
Benjamin Carter.
John Orr.
Daniel Barton.
Providence Mounts.
Philip Smith.
Aaron Longstreet.
William Case.
Richard Hankins.
John White.
James McCoy.
George JlcCoy.


Nicholas Dawson.
Daniel Canon.
Alexander Carson.
Richard Hale.
Rob&rt Miller.
John Custard.

It was in the afternoon of the 24th of May that the
force was mustered and divided into eighteen com-
panies, their average strength, of course, being about
twenty-six men. They were made thus small on ac-
count of the peculiar nature of the service in which
they were to engage, — skirmishing, firing from cover,
and practicing the numberless artifices and strata-

gems belonging to Indian warfare. Another object
gained in the formation of those unusually small
companies was the gathering together of neighbors
and acquaintances in the same command. Fur each
company there were then elected, a captain, a lieu-
tenant, and an ensign. One of the companies was
commanded by Capt. John Beeson,' of Uniontown ;
another by Capt. John Hardin, with John Lucas as
lieutenant ; a third by Capt. Joseph Huston, of Ty-
rone, father of Joseph Huston, afterwards sheriff of
Fayette County ; and a fourth by Capt. John Biggs,-
with Edward Stewart as lieutenant, and William
Crawford, Jr. (nephew of Col. William Crawford), as
ensign. One or two other companies were made up
largely of men from the territory which now forms
the counties of Fayette and Westmoreland, but of
these the captains' names have not been ascertained.
" Among those [captains] chosen," says Butterfield,
in his narrative of the expedition, " were McGeehan,
Hoagland, Beeson, Munn, Ross, Ogle, John Biggs,
Craig Ritchie, John Miller, Joseph Bean, and An-
drew Plood, . . . and James Paull remembered, fifty
years after, that the lieutenant of his company was
Edward Stewart."

After the several companies had been duly formed
and organized, the line-officers and men proceeded to
elect field-officers and a commandant of the expedi-
tionary force. For the latter office there were two
candidates. One of these was Col. David William-
son, who had previously led the expedition against
the Moravian Indians on the Muskingum, and his
chances of election seemed excellent, because he was
a resident of Washington County, which had fur-
nished two-thirds of the men composing the forces.
His competitor for the command was Col. William
Crawford, whose home was on the Youghiogheny
River, near Braddock's Crossing, in what is now Fay-
ette County. He was a regular army officer in the
Continental establishment of the Virginia Line, well
versed in Indian modes of fighting, and had already
made an enviable military record ; he enjoyed much
personal popularity, and was also the one whom Gen.
Irvine wished to see selected for the command.'

AVhen the votes — four hundred and sixty-five in
number— were counted, it was found that Williamson
had received two hundred and thirty against two
hundred and thirty-five cast for Col. Crawford, who
thereupon became commandant of the forces of the
expedition.* Four majors were then elected, viz.:

1 In the minutes of Uie miliUry " Court of Appeal," before rererre4 'o,
i3 this entry, under date of June 5, 1782 : "Capt. John Beeson's Com-
pany — 9th. No Keturu for Duty, being aU out on tlie Expedition."

2 It is not linowu tiiat Capt. Diggs was of Fayette, but his lieutenant,
ensign, and many of the men of his company were residents of this part
of Westmorelaud.

3 Gen. Irvine wrote to Gen. Washington on the 2l8t of May, — " I have
taken some pains to get Col. Crawford appointed to command, and hujio
he will bo."

* Doddiidge, in hs "Notes" (page 2Ca), says of Ciawford that " wlicn
notified of his app<antment it is said that he accepted it with api'Urcnt



David Williamson, of AVasliington County, Thomas
Gaddis and John McClelland, of that part of West-
moreland which is now Fayette, and Brinton,

their rank and seniority being in the order as here
named. Daniel Leet was elected brigade-major.
John Slovcr, of Fayette County, and Jonathan Zane
were designated as guides or pilots to the advancing
column. Dr. John Knight,' post surgeon at Fort
Pitt, had been detailed as surgeon to the expedition.

Instructions addressed " to the officer who will be
appointed to command a detachment of volunteer
militia on an expedition against the Indian town at
or near Sandusky" had been forwarded by Gen. Ir-
vine from Fort Pitt on the 21st of May. In these in-
structions the general expressed himself as follows :

'■The object of your command is to destroy with
fire and sword, if practicable, the Indian town and
settlement at Sandusky, by which we hope to give
ease and safety to the inhabitants of this country;
but if impracticable, then you will doubtless perform
such other services in your power as will in tlieir con-
sequences have a tendency to answer this great end.

" Previous to taking up your line of march it will
be highly expedient that all matters respecting rank
or command should be well understood, as far at least
as first, second, and third.^ This precaution, in case
of accident or misfortune, may be of great import.ance.
Indeed, I think whatever grade or rank may be fixed
on to have command, their relative rank should be
determined. And it is indispensably necessary that
subordination and discipline should be kept up; the

Coucerning this, Cnttci field, :

3 of the expe-

Of tlu; 1

whole ought to understand that, notwithstanding they
are volunteers, yet by this tour they are to get credit
for it in their tours of military duty, and that for
this and otlier good reasons they must, while out on
this duty, consider themselves, to all intent, subject
to the military laws and regulations for the govern-
ment of the militia when in actual service.

" Your best chance of success will bo, if possible,
to effect a surprise, and though tliis will be difficult,

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 20 of 193)