Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 25 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 25 of 193)
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in no other way could security be had for the settle-
ments along the border. It was the wish of the lead-

1 The earliest reports which obtained currency were to the effect t
the army of Crawford was almost annihilated, and that the Indians w
pursuing them to the Oliio, and would douLtlcss cross the river and carij
rapine and desolation through the border settlements. Tlie fact waBi
that, including all those killed in battle, those who afterwards died<i«
wounds, those wlio suffered death at the hiinds of their savage captors
and those who were missing and never heard from, the total loss sua-



;iiiits — sucli men as Maj. Gaildis, Williamson,
M:ir>li;il, and Edward Cook — tliat tlie proposed expe-
litiiiii should be made as strong, numerically, as pos-

bk', that it should include, besides volunteers from
the militia of Westmoreland and Wasliington Conn-
ies and the Pan Handle of Virginia, as many regu-
lar Continental troops as could be spared from Fort
Pitt, and that it should be commanded by Gen. Irvine
n i)erson.

Capts. Robert Beall and Thomas Moore, of the
Westmoreland County militia, wrote from near Stew-
ut's Crossings, under date of June 23d, to Gen. Irvine,
uforming of the sentiment of the people in favor of

new expedition. "The unfortunate miscarriage of
he late expedition," they said, " the common interest
i)f our country, and the loss of our friends induce
13 to be thus forward in proposing another. . . . We
lo not wish to be understood as giving our own pri-
vate sentiments, but of those of the people generally
n our quarter; for which purpose we are authorized

address you, and from accounts well authenticated
sure you it is the wish of the people on this side

he Monongahela River without a dissenting voice."
From the west side of theMonongahela, John Evans,
ieutenant of Monongalia County, Va., wrote Irvine

1 weclv later (June 30th), informing him that Indians
lad made their appearance in that quarter, and that
;reat alarm was felt in consequence, adding, "With-
>ut your assistance I much fear our settlements will
)reak. The defeat of Col. Crawford occasions much

In his reply to Beall and Moore (dated June 26th)
Jen. Irvine said, "Inclination as well as duty is a
lontinual spur to me, not only to acquiesce in, but to
ncourage every measure adopted for the public good.
four proposals on this occasion are so truly patriotic
■nd spirited that I should look on myself unpardon-
ble were I to pass them unnoticed." In a letter
if the same date, addressed to Col. Edward Cook,
ieutenant of Westmoreland County,' Irvine said,
'Your people seem so much in earnest that I am led
o think, if other parts of the country are so spirited
tnd patriotic, something may probably be done, but
l.s it will take some time to come to a proper knowl-
ilgv of this matter, and that must be accurately done,
liuiv can be no harm in making the experiment. . . .
, have no intimation of any plan being on foot in
fV'ashington County for this purpose, though it is said
he people wish another expedition."

The project of raising another force for the invasion
f the Indian country seems to have originated with
he people of that part of Westmoreland which is now
"ayette County. The manner in which it was pro-
)0sed to form it and carry it through to a successful
ssue is indicated in a letter written by Gen. Irvine
o the Secretary of War, Gen. Lincoln, on the 1st of

the Monongaliela, at the pla'

July, from which the following extracts are made:
" The disaster has not abated the ardor or desire for
revenge (as they term it) of these people. A number
of the most respectable are urging me strenuously to
take command of them, and add as many Continental
officers and soldiers as can be spared, particularly ofli-
cers, as they attribute the defeat to the want of expe-
rience in their officers. They cannot nor will not rest
under any plan on the defensive, however well exe-
cuted, and think their only safety depends on the total
destruction of all the Indian settlements witliin two
hundred miles; this, it is true, they are taught by
dear-bought experience.

" They propose to raise by subscription six or seven
hundred men, provisions for them for forty days, and
horses to carry it, clear of expense to the public, un-
less government at its own time shall think proper to
reimburse them. The 1st of August they talk of as-
sembling, if I think proper to encourage them. I am
by no means fond of such commands, nor am I san-
guine in my expectations, but rather doubtful of the
consequences ; and yet absolutely to refuse having
anything to do with them, when their proposals are
so generous and seemingly spirited, I conceive ^Vould
not do well either, especially as people too generally,
particularly in this quarter, are subject to be clamorous
and to charge Continental officers with want of zeal,
activity, and inclination of doing the needful for their
protection. I have declined giving them an immedi-
ate, direct answer, and have informed them that my
going depends on circumstances, and in the mean time
I have called for returns of the men who may be de-
pended on to go, and the subscriptions of provisions
and horses. The distance to lieadquarters is so great
that it is uncertain whether an express could return
in time with the commander-in-chief's instructions.

"As you must know whether any movements will
take place in this quarter, or if you are of the opinion
it would on any account be improper for me to leave
the post, I request you would please to write me by
express. But if no answer arrives before or about
the 1st of August, I shall take for granted you have
no objections, and that I may act discretionally.
Should it be judged expedient for me to go the
greatest number of troops fit to march will not exceed
one hundred. The militia are pressing that I shall
take all the Continentals along, and leave the defense
of the fort to them ; but this I shall by no means do.
If circumstances should s.-em in rL-quire it, I shall
throw in a few militia with those regulars left, but
under Continental officers."

There were good grounds for the alarm felt by the
people between the Ohio and the mountains, for a
few days after the return of Williamson's forces the
Indians appeared in large numbers along the west
bank of the Ohio, their main force being concentrated
at Mingo Bottom, with smaller parties at various
points on both sides of the river, and these were
closely and constantly watched by several detachments



of the militia of Washington County. The settlers
west of the Monongahela were almost in a state of
panic. Col. Marshal, of Washington Count}-, wrote
Gen. Irvine on the 4th of July, informing him that
the people of that section were determined to abandon
their settlements if a force was not sent to protect i
them. A great number of the inhabitants moved
from their homes to the shelter of the forts and block-
houses. Nearly as much consternation prevailed in J
the settlements east of the Monongahela, and the
general alarm was greatly increased by the sudden
j'.ppearance of the enemy in Westmoreland County,
where, on the 11th of July, they killed and scalped
three sons of Mr. Chambers, and two days later, at-
tacked and burned the old county seat of Westmore-
land, Hannastown. This event was narrated in a
letter' written by Ephraim Douglass to Gen. James
Irvine, dated July 2G, 1782, as follows :

" My last contained some account of the destruction
of Hanna's Town, but it was an imperfect one ; tlie
damage was greater than we then knew, and attended
with circumstances different from my representation
of them. There were nine killed and twelve carried
off prisoners, and instead of some of the houses u-ithoiit
the fort being defended by our people, they all retired
within the miserable stockade, and the enemy pos-
sessed themselves of the forsaken houses, from whence
they kept up a continual fire upon the fort from about
twelve o'clock till night without doing any other
damage than wounding one little girl within the
walls. They carried away a great number of horses
and evervthiue of value in the deserted houses, de-

stroyed all the cattle, h<
reach, and burned all t
cept two; these they al~
it did not extend itsuli'
several houses round tli
the same manner, and :i
either uuinlcicl or raw
since suflercd a similar W
a day but they have beei
of tl

and ponltry within their
liniises in the village ex-
ct lire to, but fortunately I
lai- as to consume them;
■'luiitry were destroyed in I
iilicr of unhappy ftimilies '
otr captives ; some have i
in difi'erent parts ; hardly I
iscovered in some rpiarter
country, and the poor inhabitants struck witli
terror through the whole extent of our frontier.
Where this party set out from is not certainly known;
several circumstances induce the belief of their |
coming from the head of the Allegheny, or towards
Niagara, rather than from Sandusky or the neighbor-
hood of Lake Erie. The great number of whites,
known liy their language to have been in the party,
the direction <>( tlirir retreat when they left the j
country, whirh was towards the Kittanning, and no
appearance of their narks cither coming or going
having been discovered liy the ollicer and party which
the L'eneral- ordered on that service bevond the river.

sincerely to be wished, on account of the unfortunate
captives who have fallen into their hands, that it may
be true, for the enraged Dehuvares renounce the idea
of taking any prisoners but for cruel purposes of

Intelligence of the attack on and destruction of
Hannastown did not reach Gen. Irvine, at Fort Pitt,
until three days after the occurrence, and of course
it was then too late for the commandant to send a
force in pursuit of the savages with any hope of suc-
cess. The Indians who made the foray were from the ■
north, mostly Mingoes. The surviving prisoners cap-
tured at Hannastown and Miller's were taken to
Niagara and delivered to the British military authori-
ties there. At the close of the war they were delivered
up and returned to their homes.

Before the events above narrated. Gen. Irvine wrote
(July 11th) to Gen. Washington, saying that the
people were constantly growing more determined in i
their efforts to raise a new force to operate against the
Sandusky towns, that solicitations to him to assist in .
it and to assume the command were increasing daily,
and that the militia officers had actually commenced
preparations for the expedition. The news of the i
descent of the savages on Hannastown caused these
preparations to be urged with greater energy by the
bolder and more determined men, while it increased
the general alarm and apprehension in a great degree.
Gen. Irvine, in a letter witten to President Moore, of
the Executive Council, on the lOth of July, said, in
reference to the probable results of this aflliir, " I fear
this stroke will intimidate the inhabitants so much
that it will not be possible to rally them or persuade
them to make a stand. Nothing in my power shall
be left undone to countenance and encourage them."

Notwithstanding Gen. Irvine's fears to the contrary,
the raising of the new expedition was strenuously
urged, and pushed forward with all possible vigor by
the principal officers of the militia in this region.
The commanding officers of companies at that time
in what is now Fayette County were:
Capt. John Beeson. Capt. Moses Sutton.

" Theophilus Phillips. " Michael Catts.

" Ichabod Ashcraft.

John Hardin.
John Powers.
Daniel Canon.
Robert Beall.





to SUl


is be

and I think it is

possesion of tlic

Historical Society.

" James Dougherty.

" Armstrong Porter.

" Cornelius Lynch.

" William Hayney. "

" Nichols. "

Capt. Thos. Moore.

Every person liable to do military duty was required
to report to the commanding officer of the company
in which he was enrolled. Other than clearly estab-
lished physical disability, or having served in the
then recent campaign under Col. Crawford, very few
pleas for exemption from service were deemed valid.
Men were required to perform regular tours of duty-
at the several "stations" in anticipation of Indian at-



lut were excused from this duty if disposed to
ear for tlje new expedition.'

11 iiy of tliese facts nre obtained from tlio old manuscript liook wliicli
[ill 111 fxistcnco in the court-house at Uniontown, and contains the
iiiii s of tlie several military "Courts of Appeal" held in the spring
-11 ler of 178J, as bi-foro mentioned. Some extracts from tliese

1/ ^ r„uHo_f Aiipctil held ut Bcfsoirs Town (he blli day of A,„jusl,VK'l.

" Present
l-MuiiU-r M'Clean \ Members jI-'ent-Kobert Kichey.Esq'

111. Lieut, for Wesf County i * I. Ensign William McCoy.

" Ciiptain Ichahod AshcrafCs lieturn.
.1 In Griffith.— Excused on Oath of inaMlity of Body.
Al ■Minder Buchanan.— .*dam McDiflerfy appears a Substitute for

M. n, but chooses i-athcr to go on the Expedition, lie is therefore

u-iLil lor that purpose.

Joshua Robinson.— Substitute, Daniel Barton, for the Station.
Thomas Bowel.— Excused on the Credit of his brother, Buzil Bowel,
»ho is Enrolled under Cupt. Ashcraft for the Expedition.
" dipt, Daniel Cannon's lieturn— lUi Clasfi.
' Matthey Willey.— Clerk to the Company, to turn out on duty with
i Capt.

'James Kobeson.— His son aT.dunteer for the Espedil ion— Enrolled.
'Buiditt Clifton.— Kendezvousod agreeable to Cji'dcr the 3llthJulyat
Sob' Itogers.

nu< r.ui ns.— A Volunteer for the Expedition.
:., . I , 1 ,, 1,, I : i:m iisi'd on acct of a Tour on the r.elief of

" :\l i> l,:i. 1 \ 1 \> i;-. fl nil Oath of present inability of Body.
I "IMiilip Ivocurd.s.— Kxcurifd on ace' of Services perform'^ on Mackin-
losh's Campaign by Alexander M'Clean.

" Captain SaUon'a Beluru—bth date.

"James Donaldson.— Excused on ac.ount of Services perfoimed on

RCkintosh's Ciimpaigu, not before credited for.

"Obadiah Stillwell — Levi Bridgewater excuses him by a tour on the


" John Hawthorn.— David Brooks, a Substitute, appeal^ for the Station.

"Webb Ilaydeu.— Appears for Station; excused I'y William Jolliff, on


"John Scott.— Bit by a Snake, & not able to perform the next Tour.

" Capl. neeeon's Return— Gth Class.
"Thomas Brownfield.— To be determined by the Court of Common

Samuel Eich.— John Beeson answers a Tour of Duty by the Relief
>f Tuscarawas

ristian Countryman. — Excused on Condition He pcrfoim the next
Four of Duty yet to be Ordered.

Ben. Curler. — loliu Orr, of Capt. Sutton's Company, answers a Tour
on Sandusky E.\n.

John Stilt.— Produced a Certificate of his having produced a Substi-
tute during the War.

Samuel Boyd.— Excused on account of Two Tours of duty allowed
liy Capt. .\ndersou for bringing in prisoners from Carolina taken by
Coll" Morgan.

Jolm M'Clean, Jun'.— Performed on the Line [meaning a tour of
luty as one of tlie guards to the surveyors runniug the line between
Pennsylvania and Virginia].

At a Court of Appeal held at Union 1
"Alexander M'Clean, Sub. Lt. Esq'

■ mh <

asun, 1782.



" J?e(iira of Capt. Eeall.

'James Stephenson.— At the Station.

'John Love. — .Vn apprentice to BIr. Craftcort, A was
when Hannahs Town wMs destroyed, and continued ther

'Moses White.— At the Station.

"Thomas Stasey.— Enrolled for the Expedition.

Tlie destruction of Hannastown was quickly fol-
lowed by other Indian forays at various points along
the border, and as the continual alarms caused by
these attacks rendered it nece.ssary to keep large num-
bers of the militiamen constantly on duty at the sta-
tions, it soon became apparent that the requisite num-
ber of volunteers could not be raised and equipped
for the new expedition by the time originally desig-
nated, which was the 1st of August.'^ "The incur-
sions of the Indians on the frontier of this country,"
said Gen. Irvine, in a letter written on the 25th of
July to the Secretary of War, " will unavoidably pre-
vent the militia from assembling as soon as the 1st of
August. Indeed, I begin to entertain doubts of their
being able to r.iise and equip the proposed number
this season." Under these circumstances the general
thought it proper to extend the time of preparation
for the expedition, and accordingly he directed that
the forces should assemble on September 20th (in-
stead of August 1st), at Fort Mcintosh, as a general
rendezvous, and march thence to the invasion of the
Indian country.'

In the mean time the Indians continued to grow
bolder and more aggressive in their attacks along the
border. On the night of the 11th of September an
Indian force of two hundred and sixty warriors, under
the renegade George Girty (brother of the infiimous
Simon), accompanied by a detachment of about forty
British Rangers from Detroit, under Capt. Pratt, of the
royal service, attacked the fort at Wheeling,' but were
repulsed. Other attempts were made by them during
the day and night of the 12th, but with no better suc-
cess. In the morning of the 13th the besiegers with-
drew from Wheeling, but proceeded to attack Rice's
fort, some fourteen miles distant. There also they
were repulsed, their loss being four warriors killed.
These and other attacks at various points on the
frontier materially dampened the ardor of the people

The book contains a great number of entries to those given
above. It closes with minutes of business done " At a Court of Appeal
held at Riffles Fort, the thirtl day of September, 1782.

" Present.— Alexander M'Clean, Sub Lieut. Presii
John P. Duvall. i

- The volunteers for the expedition in that part of Westmoreland
County which is now Fayette were ordered to rendezvous at Beesons-
town (Uniontown) on the 00th of July, to proceed thence to the general
rendezvous at tlio month of Beav.-r.

a Both ihi-si iii- ml ■; n. 1 ii -: ■ ' ni ii , I i] i.Tovod theplauof the

' 11, who made his es-

iiii.i;: ■ I I . ilu- ^t,^kefor tortnre,as

an extended series of operations against the frontier settlements, and
that among these projected operations was an attack in force on the
post at Wlieeling. This information he said he ff.iined by bein^ present
at their councils for several days while in <;i|itiv it v, mol hilly under-

stiinding every word tliat was uttered by tlo> . hi I- "i Hi ■cr.sijns,

as he was entirely familiar with the Delawm .-, w , m i^i, .n 1 >lKiwanese
languages. The tale which he brought of Ibese imI..-ii.Ii-.I (.-.xpiilitions by
the Indians against the white settlements was not believed by Cook.
Marshal, Gaddls, and Gen. Irvine, but the result proved that Slover had
neither misunderstood nor falsified the intentions of the savages as
expressed by their chiefs in council,



with regard to the expedition, though the govern-
ment had ordered that a considerable body of regular
Continental trooiDs should accompany it, in accord-
ance with the requests of Col. Cook, Col. Marshal, and
several of the more prominent among the officers of
the militia between the Monongahela and Youghio-
gheny Rivers. The minutes of the " Courts of Ap-
peal," before referred to, indicate that in what is now
Fayette County the men liable to railitarj duty were,
after the 1st of August, 1782, much less disposed than
before to volunteer for the expedition in preference
to doing duty on the stations in the vicinity of their

On the ISth of September, two daj-s before the
time which he had appointed for the rendezvous at
Fort Mcintosh, Gen. Irvine addressed communica-
tions to Col. Edward Cook (of Cookstown, now Fay-
ette City) and Col. Marshal, respectively county lieu-
tenants of Westmorehind and Washington, saying,
"I have this moment received dispatches from the
Secretary of War informing me that some regular
troojis are ordered from below to assist us in our
intended expedition. I am therefore to beg you
will immediately countermand the march of the vol-
unteers and others of your counties until further
orders. As soon as I am positively assured of the
time the troops will be here I shall give you the
earliest notice." But the notification was never
given, for the war between England and the United
States was virtually closed, and with the approach of
peace the Secretary of War countermanded the order
for the regulars to join in the expedition.

A letter from (tcu. Lincoln to Gen. Irvine, dated
September 27th, notified the latter that information
had l)een received from Gen. Washington to the effect " the Indians are all called in" (by the British
government). It is evident that on the receipt of this
communication, a few days later, Irvine abandoned all
idea of prosecuting the expedition, and on the 18th
of October, in a letter to Col. Cook, he said, "I re-
ceived your letter by Sergt. Porter, and one last night
from Col. JIarshal, which is full of despondency.
Indeeil, by all accounts I can collect, it would be
vain to insist on bringing the few willing people to
the general rendezvous, as there is not the dis-
tant ]iros|H'ct that half sufficient would assemble.
Under tlii' circumstance^ I think it will bo most ad-
visiiMc t'. Mivc up tlic mutter at cnice, and direct the
provisions and otlicr articles be restored to the

About two weeks after Gen. Irvine wrote this letter
lie received official notification from tiie Secretary of
War (dated October 30th I that the Indian expedition
had been abandoned, and thereui)on the fact was of-
ficially communicated to the lieutenants of West-
moreland and Washington Counties. This ended all
thoughts of raising a force to invade the Indian
country, and it also closed the military history of
this section of coiintrv for the period of the war of

the Revolution. After the official proclamation of
peace, however, and as late as the end of the spring
of 1783, Indian depredations were continued to some
extent along the Western Peunsylvania and Virginia
border, though none of these are found reported as
having been committed within the territory which
now forms the countv of Favette.



Throfgh a period of about thirty years from the
time when the first white settlements were m.ade be-
tween the Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers
there existed a controversy (which more than once
threatened to break out into open hostility) between
Pennsylvania and Virginia as to the ownership of
the country lying to the westward of the Laurel Hill,
both governments at the same time vigorously assert-
ing their respective rights to jurisdiction over the ter-
ritory in question. This dispute was partly in regard
to the location of the east-and-west line forming the
boundary between the two provinces (afterwards
States), but chiefly in reference to the establishment
of the western boundary of Pennsylvania, which would
also be the eastern boundary of Virginia in that lati-

The royal grant of Pennsylvania to the first propria
etary authorized the extension of its western limi
a distance of five degrees of longitude west froi
the Delaware River, and the question of where th
end of those five degrees would fall was the princips
one at issue in the long and bitter controversy whicl
followed. By the government and partisans of Vii
ginia it was confidently believed that under that gran
Pennsylvania's western boundary must be as far c
as the Laurel Hill, which would give to their provi
(or State) all the territory between that mouatai:
range and the Ohio River; while, on the contrarj
Pennsylvania insisted that the measurement of tb
five degrees would extend her limits to a point sev
eral miles west of the confluence of the AUeghen
and Monongahela Rivers. And it was the realizatii
of the prospective importance of that point, the sil
of the present city of Pittsburgh, which first open'
the contest between the rival claimants of the cove
territory, which embraced this " key to the Ohi
Valley," and to the inviting regions of the West.

In the formation, plans, and brief operations of
Ohio Company, which have already been noticed,

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 25 of 193)