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(A copyrighted publication of West Virginia Archives and History)

Colonel William Fleming in Dunmore's War, 1774

By William D. Hoyt Jr.

Volume 3, No. 2 (January 1942), pp. 99-119


In the year 1774, the peace which had kept the western country quiet since the treaty of 1765 received an interruption which checked for a time the settlement of the frontier and involved its inhabitants in a war with the Indians. The conflict was the natural outgrowth of strained relations caused by the gradual spread of the whites into the territory of the redmen. Increasing numbers of sturdy pioneers were moving into the wilderness west of the mountains, and the whole region was overrun with parties of explorers, surveyors, and seekers after land. Some of the surveys were made under authority of the proclamation of 1763 granting acreage to those who had served in the French and Indian War, but many were for men who had bought the rights of the veterans. Representatives of the Walpole or Vandalia Company, the Loyal Company, and several independent parties were vying for the choice locations. The entire community was looking to the West, and some said that even Governor Dunmore was more than casually concerned.

Among those personally interested was William Fleming (1729-1795), who claimed land in return for service on the frontier. He was a Scots physician, a former surgeon's mate in the British Navy, who landed at Norfolk, Virginia, in August, 1755. He went immediately to fight under George Washington against the French and the Indians. When the campaigns were over, he settled in the Valley, first at Staunton, where he practiced medicine for five years, and then in Botetourt County. He became one of the leaders of the western region, and was one of a powerful group which included Patrick Henry, Andrew Lewis, Arthur Campbell, and others - all bound together by ties of blood or friendship - for whom John Floyd, James Douglas, and Hancock Taylor were laying out tracts.1

With such a steady movement westward, the Indians regarded every advance as a further effort to expel them from country which they had long considered their own; and as time went on they became more and more annoyed at the prospect.2 For a long while they submitted patiently to a series of petty aggravations, but several flagrant killings in the spring of 1774 set off a spark which flamed high during the rest of the year. The trouble was started by a group of men at Wheeling under Captain Michael Cresap, who shot and murdered two small parties of Indians bound on peaceful errands. The first slaughter served to stimulate the desire for blood, and others followed immediately.3 The climax came with the Yellow Creek tragedy on April 30, when a company of Indians - warriors, squaws, and a baby - visited a trading post at Baker's Bottom, were made drunk, and were then murdered by men led by one Greathouse.4 The fact that among those killed was the entire family of the Mingo Chief Logan was most important, for Logan had always been a friend to the settlers and had been admired in return for his skilled marksmanship and commanding dignity. Now he turned on the whites with ferocity, and he vowed that he would take ten lives for each of the three kinsmen slaughtered.5

Nor was Logan the only one who now went on the warpath. The murders by Cresap and Greathouse caused a smouldering fire to burst into open hostilities everywhere, and soon the fury of the savages was vented on all the settlements. A letter received in Philadelphia from the frontier told of a party of forty Shawnees who were out intending to strike at some part of Virginia. An express from Fincastle County mentioned some skirmishes in that region. Other sources described massacres by the Indians, often only single killings, but terrifying enough to those living in outlying places beyond the reach of aid.6 Consternation grew with each fresh report, and it was not long before the outermost settlements were deserted, their inhabitants fled towards the mountains or to forts where they might be safer. One writer, after describing the killing of Captain McClure and another man, said, "All the poor people who was settled over Alleghany Mountain, are either moved off, or gathered in large numbers, and making places of defense to secure themselves."7 Late in June, Dr. John Connolly, Governor Dunmore's representative in the border country, wrote a gentleman in Philadelphia that, "The inhabitants in general are fled from this place, and the country is in great confusion."8

In this atmosphere of increasing tenseness, preparations in general for the active defense of the Virginia frontier were begun. On June 10, the Governor issued a circular letter to the county lieutenants, saying that peace was no longer to be hoped for and it was necessary to have recourse to the only possible means to extricate the border country from its calamitous situation. The county lieutenants were, therefore, to assemble their militia in readiness to defend their homes or to march to the assistance of others so engaged; they were to erect small forts if necessary, and to keep up a constant correspondence with the other lieutenants.9 Ten days later, Dunmore wrote Connolly approving plans to build a fort at Wheeling and to march to the Shawnee towns.10

A consultation of the militia officers of the western counties was held at the Lead Mines on June 25, and it was decided that Colonel William Christian should march to the region of the Clinch River and repulse the enemy on their approach to the settlements.11 He took with him a ranging party of 150 and patrolled the frontier until there was a further change of plans, but did not come into actual contact with the Indians.12 William Fleming did not participate in this expedition, but doubtless he was at the conference which preceded its departure. He had been appointed lieutenant-colonel of the Botetourt militia in March, and this rank would cause him to take a leading part in any discussion of plans. Matters were fast approaching a crisis, too, and men of Fleming's position and experience were looked to quite naturally for guidance.13

On July 12, Governor Dunmore made a definite move towards clearing up the situation on the frontier. He wrote to Colonel Andrew Lewis, County Lieutenant of Botetourt, advising him to wait no longer for the Indians to attack, but to raise all the men possible, go to the mouth of the Great Kanawha and build a fort, and, if he had sufficient forces, march to the Shawnee towns and destroy them.14 Some delay was experienced in gathering men for the expedition, and, it being determined to wait no longer, an advance force of 400 men was sent out under Major Angus McDonald, an officer from Frederick County. He proceeded to Wheeling, where he began the erection of a fort. Then he was relieved by Captain William Crawford and marched his troops into the Indian country. When six miles from Wakatomica, the Shawnee town on the Muskingum River, he met, fought, and defeated a party of forty or fifty warriors. When the town itself was reached, it was found to be evacuated, and the savages were camped across the river, suing for peace. It was discovered that the Indians were removing their old people, women, children, and possessions to other towns - possibly getting them out of the way before a real battle - so McDonald promptly burned Wakatomica and several other villages, destroyed 500 bushels of old corn, cut down seventy-five acres of growing corn, and returned to Wheeling with three chiefs as hostages.15 This excursion, resulting in the destruction of Indian homes and crops, served merely to exasperate rather than to subdue the redmen. No sooner had the troops retired from the Shawnee country than small parties of savages invaded the settlements in many different places. Surprise attacks took place all during the summer, and a number of inhabitants of outlying regions were killed or captured.16

Meanwhile, the general picture shifted once again. Lord Dunmore had not at first intended to take an active part in the campaign against the Indians, but now decided to lead one wing of the invading army himself. He wrote Colonel Andrew Lewis on July 24 from Winchester that he intended to take as many men as possible, and desired Lewis to raise "a respectable Boddy of Men" and join him at the mouth of the Great Kanawha or at Wheeling, "as is most Convenient for you."17 The same day he wrote Lewis' brother, Colonel Charles Lewis, announcing his purpose to proceed immediately with 250 or 300 good men "in order to compell the Indians to a lasting peace after chastizing them for their late murders & outrages."18 Shortly afterwards, he informed Lord Dartmouth of these plans and commented that if he could penetrate undiscovered to the lower Indian towns, he hoped to put an end to the horrid war in which there was no honor, pleasure, or profit.19 It is not evident how the Governor expected to get so far into enemy territory undiscovered, but his purpose is quite clear.

Promptly on receipt of Lord Dunmore's instructions, Colonel Andrew Lewis summoned a council at his house on August 12. Present were Colonel Lewis himself, Colonel Preston, Colonel Christian, and Colonel William Fleming. Plans were completed for enlisting troops, and it was decided to rendezvous on the Greenbrier River by the end of the month.20 Thereupon followed a fortnight of hurried preparations, with many problems of gathering men and provisions. There was a scarcity of some kinds of supplies, and one of the chief difficulties was to get what was available transported to the place of meeting.21 All the men called were not eager to leave their crops just as harvest season was approaching, but a letter from the Rev. John Brown to Colonel Preston indicates that some were glad enough to have a chance at the enemy. Describing the marching of the Augusta contingent, the minister called them, "noble Companies all cheerfully willing to go to the Shawnee towns. "22


The southern division under Colonel Andrew Lewis began assembling at Camp Union - so called because it was the place where the various companies were united, now the location of Lewisburg - on August 27, and each day thereafter witnessed the arrival of more men.23 Colonel Lewis himself reached the rendezvous on September 1, and immediately took charge of the necessary arrangements. The army consisted of three large bodies: the Augusta County Regiment under Lewis' brother Charles, the Botetourt County Regiment under Fleming, and the Fincastle County Battalion led by Christian. In addition, there were several independent companies: the Culpeper Minute Men, forty strong, under Colonel John Field; the Dunmore County Volunteers, also forty in number, under Captain Thomas Slaughter; forty-four Bedford County Riflemen under Captain Thomas Buford; and twenty-seven Kentucky Pioneers brought by Captain James Harrod. Of the number, three high-ranking officers were regular physicians: Colonel Fleming, Captain Buford, and Captain Robert McClennahan of the Botetourt troop. The Rev. Mr. Terry was Chaplain, and Major Thomas Posey was Commissary and Quartermaster General. There were a number of minor officials, including a chief guide, a chief spy, and a chief driver of cattle.24

The army at Camp Union was one of the most remarkable bodies of men that had ever assembled on the American frontier. Some had been with Washington at the surrender of Fort Necessity, some with Braddock at the fatal field of Monongahela, others with Forbes at the capture of Fort DuQuesne, still others with Bouquet in the Ohio Wilderness - all had been engaged all their lives in border warfare. The men were not only familiar with both the English and Colonial military systems, but were schooled in the methods of Indian fighting as well. They were a typical backwoods group, both officers and soldiers. They wore fringed hunting shirts, dyed yellow, brown, white, or red; ornamented shot bags and powder horns hung from broad belts. They had caps or soft hats, moccasins, and coarse woolen leggings reaching halfway to the thigh. Each carried his flintlock, tomahawk, and scalping knife. The officers were equipped like their followers, except that some had long swords.25 The caliber of the army was such that Theodore Roosevelt wrote: "Although without experience of drill, it may be doubted if a braver or physically finer set of men ever got together on this continent."26 Colonel Preston said of them: "This body of militia being mostly armed with rifle guns, and a great part of them good woodsmen, are looked upon to be at least equal to any troops for the number that have been raised in America."27

The first ten days of September were occupied with organization of the troops and with the collection of sufficient supplies for the march. The number of men, around 1,490, was more than Colonel Lewis expected, so that he had to write to Colonel Preston for a proportionate increase in provisions. There was just enough excitement about the movements of the Indians to keep the men well occupied, and the only difficulty was to prevent them from shooting away their ammunition. Indeed, Colonel Lewis reported that he had less trouble with the troops than he had expected, and he hoped they would continue to remain cheerful. The single shadow on the horizon was a letter from Lord Dunmore, who directed Lewis to join him at the Little Kanawha instead of the Great Kanawha, a change which was not possible at the advanced stage reached by the southern division.28 As soon as preparations were far enough along, Colonel Charles Lewis was sent on with his Augusta men to build a small storehouse at the mouth of Elk River, and to make canoes for the transport of the supplies to the Ohio. He left Camp Union on September 6, taking with him 500 packhorses carrying 54,000 pounds of flour and 108 beeves, besides a quantity of salt and some tools.29 Later in the same day, Colonel Christian arrived at the rendezvous, after some delays connected with the supplies.30 He discovered that Lewis expected to march in a few days, but that he was to stay behind and bring up the rear. Of course he could not foresee how vitally important this was to prove later, and at the time was somewhat dissatisfied.31

Among those closely connected with all the arrangements, Colonel William Fleming was naturally among the foremost. Because Colonel Lewis, the County Lieutenant of Botetourt, was at the head of the entire army, Fleming, who had been second in command, was now in full charge of the troops from that area. He had under him a total of 500 men, plus eleven captains, eleven lieutenants, ten ensigns, thirty-eight sergeants, two fifers, and three drummers.32 He reached the camp on August 29, and took an active part in completing the arrangements for the expedition. On September 4, he wrote his wife that he was uncertain when he was to march. At the same time, he tried to reassure Mrs. Fleming as to her own safety, as there were no more than two parties of three or four Indians each close to the settlements, and Colonel Lewis had ordered three men to "Belmont" (the Fleming home) in case danger should arise. He reported that he had been in good health since he left Botetourt, and was not at all uneasy except for his horses which had wandered away. He closed his letter with a very personal touch: "I have nothing more particular to write but Sentiments not proper to commit to paper."33 Three days later, the Botetourt colonel sent word to his wife that her brother, Colonel Christian, had arrived safely, and that the horses had returned. He told her that Colonel Charles Lewis left the day before, that he was to march "next Monday," and that Christian was to follow a short time afterwards. "If I have an Opportunity," he said, "I will write before we march, if not I recommend You & the Family to the Protection and Guidance of Divine Providence."34

Colonel Lewis marched out of Camp Union on September 12, taking with him the Botetourt troops and several of the independent companies, together with 200 packhorses laden with flour and a drove of beeves.35 He left Colonel Christian and his Fincastle men to wait for the return of the packhorses taken by Colonel Charles Lewis the week before so that more supplies might be carried on them."36 The march from the camp on the Greenbrier to the junction of the Great Kanawha and Ohio Rivers was a difficult one, for there was no trail of any kind and few white men had ever gone down the Kanawha Valley. The route was 160 miles of trackless forest, rugged and mountainous, though some time was saved by following Indian paths at the bases of the hills instead of going along the river banks so as not to have to cross or skirt around creeks and ravines. Wagons were impossible, and all the provisions were transported on packhorses. The army had been assembled so hastily that supplies were not overly abundant, and there were no spirit rations or tea or coffee. Yet the men reached their destination in good condition after their long, hard march through the wilderness.37

Colonel Fleming's entries in his Orderly Book give an excellent idea of the type of country traversed during this march. He noted many details which would have escaped the eye of a less observant person, and in numerous instances the items recorded reflect an interest in the land itself - the soil, the trees, the water. Fleming was particular, too, to note down the distances covered each day, and it has been remarked that he was astonishingly accurate in his computations.38 The first few days the army passed through meadow lands, then it marched "over two smart hills to a Savannah, or Meaddow ground," and after that the way seemed to be mostly "steep little ridges," "broken ridges," and "sharp declivities." As the Alleghany Mountains were approached and crossed, there were "sudden & frequent Showers of Rain as is usual near these Mountains." The Gauley River was one which could not be avoided, though it had "a stony ugly foarding," and "the Banks that have been washd by the floods discover not above half a foot of soil, & then a white or reddish sand & Clay or grity earth." On September 21, "the mountains begun then to fall away, and the bottom to Open. these Creeks in the bottom are stocked with Sugar, Papa trees, & beech, flowing Poplar, & leather wood. some peavine & buffaloe grass." The same day Fleming found pieces of coal which had been washed out of the ground and which burned very well; and there were "two curious Springs, the Vapour of which kindles quick as Gunpowder & burns with a surprising force," though the water "tasted unctious."39 If comments such as these seem unusual for a frontiersman at such a period and on the march to battle, it should be remembered that Fleming was a gentleman with a European background of culture and education. All his training and experience tended to make him observant of his surroundings, aside from a possible future interest in the land.

On the 23rd, after marching 108 miles in twelve days, the army joined Colonel Charles Lewis and his men at the junction of the Elk and Kanawha Rivers. There a week was spent in making canoes, storing some of the supplies in a magazine built for them, and completing all arrangements for the final lap of the journey.40 Colonel Fleming took advantage of the pause in his trip to let his wife know that he continued in good health, and that nothing extraordinary had happened as yet. He said that the men would have eighteen large canoes loaded by the 29th, and that the march would be resumed the next day.41 The troops were formed in two columns, the Botetourt ones on the right and the Augusta ones on the left, and the bullocks and packhorses were placed between the front and rear divisions, with each flank covered by a hundred men. Enroute some trouble was experienced with upset canoes - and consequently wet flour - and Fleming noted that, "Desertion from the different Troops has been pretty frequent sence we left the Levels, and likewise thefts of Flour & provisions." On October 5, "the hills came so cloase to the river that the two Colums were oblidged to march in One path." Then, on the 6th, after passing through many defiles and crossing many runs with steep, difficult banks, the army entered a bottom which extended nearly four miles to the junction of the Kanawha with the Ohio.42 On this point - Point Pleasant - the Virginians camped for three days. A message from Lord Dunmore was found lodged in a tree, directing Lewis to march his force to meet the northern division farther up the river. This did not suit at all, and Colonel Fleming wrote that such a change of route would cause great discontent among the men, as the mouth of the Great Kanawha was regarded as a considerable pass into the settlements, and leaving it would expose families and friends to the invasions of the Indians.43 This was the situation, then, on the night of October 9, and the events of the next day put such an entirely new face on things that no decision as to routes had to be made.

Fleming remarked, in the letter sent from Point Pleasant, that, "Our rear of 200 & odd men are within 60 miles of us." This was a reference to Colonel Christian's force, which had been left at Camp Union, but which was rapidly overtaking the main army. As a matter of fact, the task of gathering and convoying supplies had been accomplished so successfully that on October 9, Christian was within fifteen miles of the encampment at Point Pleasant.


The Indians had watched the progress of Lewis' march from the tops of hills along the way and had carried the news of his advance back to their villages on the Pickaway Plains west of the Ohio River. The Shawnee chief, Cornstalk, after an unsuccessful effort to pacify his people, gathered his warriors to attack the white men at Point Pleasant before they could join Lord Dunmore. The redmen silently approached the Ohio, and after dark on the evening of October 9, crossed the stream on seventy-nine rafts three miles above Lewis' camp. Then they crept through the dense growth along the east bank, and were ready to surprise the Virginians at daybreak, when there occurred one of those unforeseen happenings which upsets the best laid plans and adds spice to history.44

Early on the morning of Monday, October 10, 1774, a clear, autumn day, two soldiers left camp and proceeded up the river in quest of deer. When they had gone about two miles, they unexpectedly came in sight of a large number of Indians, who fired on the hunters and killed one of them. The other escaped unhurt and ran swiftly back to camp to warn the army. The news was confirmed almost immediately by several others, and a general call to arms was sounded. "Colo A. Lewis ordered 300 Men from the two Lines of Augusta & Botetourt Forces to go in Quest of the Enemy, little Imagining as we afterwards found it to be the Case that we were to engage the whole United Force of the Enemy Ohio Indians. we Marched from Camp in two lines," Col. Charles Lewis advancing with 150 men along the foot of the hills on the right, and Col. Fleming leading a like force along the bank of the Ohio on the left. "about 3/4 of a mile from Camp, the Indians began the attack on the right & in a Second of time the Left line was Attacked."

The troops were met by a withering fire from the Indians, who had taken positions behind a rude breastwork of trees, old logs, and bushes. Col. Charles Lewis fell mortally wounded at the first onslaught, and shortly afterwards Fleming was seriously hurt, so that both lines gave way and were falling back on the camp when they were met by Col. Field with reinforcements. The whites rallied and the engagement became general, with furious fighting on all sides. "Never did Indians stick closer to it, nor behave bolder." They formed a line across the peninsula from the Ohio to the Kanawha and cut off any possibility of retreat for the Virginians. "The Engagement lasted from half an hour after sunrise, to the same time before Sunset," when Lewis ordered three companies to go up the river in the shelter of the high bank and undergrowth to fire on the Indians from the rear. The Shawnees thought they were being attacked by Col. Christian's fresh troops, broke, and fled across the Ohio under cover of darkness, and went on back to their villages on the Scioto. Christian heard the firing and hurried his advance, but did not arrive on the scene until midnight, when all was over and there was silence except for the groans of the wounded.45

The Battle was a bloody one. Of the whites, eighty-one were killed or mortally wounded, including Col. Charles Lewis, Col. Field, and four captains; 140 were severely or slightly wounded, among them Col. Fleming and three captains. The loss of the enemy could not be ascertained exactly because they always carried off or concealed some of their dead, and in this case threw many into the river. Twenty scalps were procured from the battlefield, and in addition eighty blankets, forty guns, and a large number of tomahawks.46 Fleming said, "I believe the Indians never had such a Scourging from the English before."47 Of the three trained physicians with Lewis' Army, one (McClennahan) was killed, and the other two (Fleming and Buford) were wounded. This must have left the wounded in a desperate state, and there is mention of a lack of medicines besides this shortage of doctors to administer them.

The Battle of Point Pleasant was one of the most hotly contested battles between white men and Indians that took place in the history of the country; it was purely a soldier's battle, won by hard individual fighting.48 It was the only victory gained over a large body of Indians by a force only slightly superior in numbers.49 The Indians in the conflict were the flower of the tribes engaged, and were commanded by Cornstalk, the great Shawnee war chief, who was aided by his son Ellinipsico, the Delaware Red Hawk, the Wyandot Chiyawee, and the Cayuga Chief Logan who had personal reasons for desiring revenge on the white men.50 A curious feature of the Battle, too, was the near relationship of many officers in the army to each other. It was almost a family feud with the savages.51


For several days after the Battle, Col. Lewis was busy burying the dead, caring for the wounded, constructing a storehouse and breastworks for the use and protection of those unable to move, and reorganizing the army so that each company would have officers to take the places of the killed and wounded. Early on the morning of the 13th, the messengers sent to inform Lord Dunmore of the encounter with the Indians returned with instructions for Lewis to march towards the Shawnee towns and join the northern division on the way. Preparations were hurried along, and on the 16th the horses were gathered in, sixty of them selected to carry flour, and the rest divided among the companies to transport the tents and baggage. The next day the troops left the camp, and by nightfall the only ones left were the wounded and a small garrison to guard them and their supplies. Lewis took with him 1,150 men, ten days' rations, and 118 beeves. On the morning of October 18, he marched off to join Governor Dunmore.52

That gentleman had not been idle during the marching and fighting of the southern army. He had gathered nearly 1,200 men, including the militia from Frederick, Berkeley, and Dunmore (now Shenandoah) Counties led by Col. Adam Stephen, besides the men who had gone out previously under Major McDonald and Capt. Crawford. With this force he had descended the Ohio from Fort Pitt in a hundred canoes and several large boats, erected a stockade fort at the mouth of the Hocking River (called Fort Gower in honor of a noble friend of Dunmore's in the House of Lords), left it in charge of a detachment of provincials, and marched westward across the country to the Scioto, where he camped a few miles from the Shawnee villages.53 The Indians, after the bloody battle with Lewis' army, sued for peace with Lord Dunmore and obtained a temporary armistice from him after the destruction of several of their towns. Thus it was that when the southern division came near Dunmore's camp, all ready to go on to crush the enemy for good, it was met with the astounding news that the war was over. The Governor sent Lewis orders to halt until further directions and to observe the armistice. Lewis could not believe his senses - so much work and so many losses to go for nothing - and continued towards the main body of troops. A second peremptory command was similarly disregarded, and it took a personal visit from Dunmore to halt the advance.54

A council with the Indians was held in the center of His Lordship's camp, and the terms of peace were soon arranged. There were nine sections to the treaty of Camp Charlotte, the cumulative effect of which was to deprive the Indians of that for which they had been fighting. Specifically, the redmen were to give up all prisoners and never again wage war; to surrender all negroes, horses, and valuable effects taken; no longer to hunt or visit on the south side of the Ohio except for trading, and no more to molest boats ascending or descending the river; to agree to trade regulations established later; and to deliver up hostages as guarantees of faith. In return, the Governor pledged that no whites would be permitted to hunt on the north side of the Ohio.55 On October 25, therefore, Dunmore thanked Lewis for his services and ordered him to lead his army back to Point Pleasant, which was reached on the 28th.

Meanwhile, the garrison left at the mouth of the Great Kanawha had been under the command of Col. Fleming, though he was just recovering from his wounds. The day after Lewis left on his march to meet Lord Dunmore, October 19, there were in the camp twenty-five officers, 170 men fit for duty, and 114 wounded. Nine days later, when Lewis returned, there were still seventy on the inactive list as a result of the Battle.56 Between those times, the troops able to work spent many hours completing the breastworks on the Point and scouring the nearby woods for game.57 Fleming himself was able to do little. He had been very severely wounded; two balls struck his left arm below the elbow and broke both bones, and a third entered his chest and pierced the lungs. He wrote later: "when I came to be drest, I found my Lungs forced through the wound in my breast, as long as one of my fingars. Watkins Attempted to reduce them ineffectually. he got some part returned but not the whole. being in considerable pain, some time afterwards, I got the whole Returned by the Assistance of one of my Own Attendants. since which I thank the Almighty I have been in a surprizing state of ease. Nor did I ever know such daingerous wounds, Attended with so little inconvenience."58 Indeed, Fleming had a miraculous escape, for Col. Christian, his brother-in-law, fully expected him to die,59 and in at least two accounts he was reported to have died after the Battle.60

It is not surprising that the anxiety of the people at home, awaiting news of the outcome of the expedition, was terrible. The Augusta County court met on October 18, but no business was transacted until word of the victory came. Staunton was much aroused by the story of a child who awoke from sleep three times on October 10 screaming that the Indians were killing her father.61 A series of letters from the outlying regions reporting new attacks and killings by the Indians could scarcely have brought comfort.62 Great must have been the relief, then, when accounts of what went on at Point Pleasant came through to the homepeople.63 Fleming wrote his wife on October 13 to convince her that he was still among the living. He described the Battle briefly, then said: "I Bless God my wounds are in a good way. if it please God to spare me I propose coming in to the Inhabitants the first Opportunity."64 A fortnight later, John Madison wrote encouragingly to Mrs. Fleming: "Colo. Flemings behaviour on that day was an Honour to him and all his Connexions it is true he received three wounds two in his left Arm and a Slight one in his Brest, but I have the Inexpressible Pleasure of Assuring you they are not Mortal. Every Letter Confirms this Acct."65

Fleming himself was preparing to travel homewards as soon as possible. He allowed one day to elapse after Col. Lewis returned to the camp at Point Pleasant before he sent off home some of his baggage, and he started himself the third morning, October 31, in a canoe with four watermen. It took three days to reach the Elk River, where horses were collected for use the rest of the way. Steady progress was made each day thereafter, in spite of rain and a snow which covered the ground to a depth of an inch and a half. As on the outward journey, the party "Crosd many Chesnut ridges & steep pinches," and on November 10 Fleming discovered that he had a fever which increased very much as a result of inflamed wounds. The next day "the Arm sweld greatly and the most Violent Shooting flying pains in my hand fingers," and he was bled, though the fever and pain continued for some hours afterwards. Then it snowed again, and Fleming rested a day on Howard's Creek. On the 20th he reached Botetourt County Court House (Fincastle), where he stayed over the 21st, a day of rain, sleet, snow, and hail. On November 22, he negotiated the last lap, and "Reach'd home in safety being Just 3 months gone Praise be to God."66 He stayed there for the next few years, trying to regain the strength and health which was ever after a matter of concern in his life.

John Harrower, tutor to the youth of the Daingerfield family near Fredericksburg, writing to his wife in Scotland on December 6, 1774, referred to Dunmore's War as "a hote war" on the frontier. This was perhaps as good a way as any to characterize what Waddell called "one of the most noted conflicts that ever occurred between Indians and white men."67 The War cost Virginia £350,000 in Colonial currency. There was some difficulty about the pay of the soldiers, but a scale of compensation was finally fixed. The commander got £1.5 a day, county lieutenants £1, colonels 15/, captains 10/, and on down to privates 1/6. Fleming was granted £500 instead of a pension as recompense for his gallant service and the wounds he received, rendering him unable to practice his profession as a surgeon.68

The War was ended in less than six months time with results of considerable importance. Not only was the loss of life less than in any previous encounter with the Indians, but the practical outcome was notable. The victory at Point Pleasant effectually removed immediate peril from the people in the border country; it kept the tribes quiet for the first two years of the Revolution, rendered possible the settlement of Kentucky, and some writers have held that it made feasible the winning of the West.69


1. The desire of the whites for land and their increasing encroachment on Indian territory is discussed fully by Thomas P. Abernethy, Western Lands and the American Revolution (New York, 1937), pp. 79-90, and by Randolph C. Downes, "Dunmore's War: An Interpretation," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XXI (1934), 311-20. Original records of lands surveyed on Cripple and Reed Creeks and along the Holston River and its branches during the spring of 1774 are among the Campbell-Preston Papers, I, 36-47, and the Adam Stephen Papers, nos. 92, 93-94, in the Library of Congress.

2. A letter from Redstone (Brownsville, Pa.) in October, 1774, described the events of the previous decade and showed the gradual irritation of the Indians. American Archives, ed. Peter Force (Washington, 1837-53), 4th Series, 1, 1015-16.

3. John W. Monette, History of the Discovery and Settlement of the Valley of the Mississippi (New York, 1848), I, 366, 369-71.

4. Reminiscences printed in Reuben G. Thwaites and Louise P. Kellogg, Documentary History of Dunmore's War (Madison, 1905), pp. 9-19 (hereafter cited as Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War) shows considerable variation as to details of the killings.

5. Logan was a Mingo chief named Tachechdorus, or Branching Oak of the Forest, who had taken the name 'Logan' as a compliment to James Logan of Pennsylvania. Constance L. Skinner. Pioneers of the Old Southwest; a Chronicle of the Dark and Bloody Ground (New Haven, 1919), p. 119.

6. American Archives, 4th Series, I, 275, 364; Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, pp. 29, 36-37.

7. Letter dated at Cave Cumberland, June 21, 1774, American Archives, 4th Series, I, 435. This writer blamed the trouble directly on the murders by Cresap and Greathouse.

8. Connolly to a gentleman in Philadelphia, Fort Pitt, June 27, 1774, ibid., I, 454. When one reads Theodore Roosevelt's vivid description of an Indian raid, one does not wonder at the reaction of the frontier people when they heard that the savages were in search of scalps. See The Winning of the West (1907-09), I, 215.

9. Dunmore to county lieutenants, Williamsburg, June 10, 1774, Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, pp. 33-35.

10. Dunmore to Connolly, Williamsburg, June 20, 1774, ibid., p. 37.

11. Preston to Christian, Fort Chiswell, June 27, 1774, ibid., pp. 52-55.

12. Christian to Preston, Andrew Covill's (near Abingdon), July 9, 1774, ibid., pp. 75-78.

13. Fleming's commission as Lieutenant-Colonel, signed by Lord Dunmore and dated March 14, 1774, MS, Fleming Papers, Washington and Lee University Library. When the expedition against the Shawnees was organized, he was raised to the rank of Colonel, though the original commission is lacking in this case.

14. Dunmore to A. Lewis, Rosegill (home of Ralph Wormeley, a Councillor in Middlesex County), July 12, 1774, Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, pp. 86-87.

15. McDonald to Connolly, August 9, 1774, ibid., pp. 151-54; The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, XX (1912), 83-84. Also a letter received at Williamsburg from a gentleman at Redstone, August 18, 1774, American Archives, 4th Series, I, 722-23.

16. The large number of scattered killings was due partly to the fact that the whites had to attend to their crops of ripening corn until they were harvested, if they were to have bread for the winter. Those living near the forts managed to save most of their corn, but people in more distant places lost heavily in both lives and crops. See Goodridge Wilson, Smyth County History and Traditions (Kingsport, Tenn., 1932), p. 52.

17. Dunmore to A. Lewis, Winchester, July 24, 1774, Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, pp. 97-98.

18. Dunmore to C. Lewis, July 4, 1774, "Preston Papers," The Virginia Magazine of History ana Biography, XXVI (1918), 366.

19. Dunmore to Dartmouth, Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, pp. 149-50; "Aspinwall Papers," Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (Boston, 1871), 4th Series, X, 722.

20. Records of consultation, August 12, 1774, "Preston Papers," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, XXVI (1918), 367.

21. Numerous letters between the officers concerned present a clear picture of the difficulties involved. See Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, pp. 142-49, 156-59, 163-76, 179-80.

22. Brown to Preston, August 22, 1774, ibid., pp. 160-61.

23. The chief sources for the entire campaign from this point to the end are three contemporary records which give connected accounts and many interesting details. Colonel William Fleming's Journal, covering the period from September 2 to October 28, is written in his own handwriting at the end of his Orderly Book and is probably an abbreviation of the data there. It is printed in full in Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, pp. 281-91 (cited hereafter as "Fleming's Journal"). The Orderly Book itself is a day by day record of events from September 4 to November 22, and is especially valuable for items of camp life, the march, and the battle. The entries tor October 9-16 are in the handwriting of John Todd, who served as Fleming's secretary during the period when he was handicapped by wounds. It appears in Thwaites and Kellogg, pp. 313-60 (cited hereafter as "Fleming's Orderly Book"). The third account of this nature is the journal and orderly book kept by Ensign James Newell of the Fincastle Battalion. It runs from September 8 to October 28, and duplicates Fleming's narrative in many respects. For this reason, Thwaites and Kellogg include only the portion dealing with October 17 and afterwards, pp. 361-67, but the entire document is published in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, XI (1904), 242-53 (cited hereafter as "Newell's Orderly Book").

24. Virgil A. Lewis, History of the Battle of Point Pleasant (Charleston, W. Va„ 1909), pp. 27-28.

25. Ibid., p. 29; J. T. McAllister. "The Battle of Point Pleasant," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, IX (1902), 406.

26. Roosevelt, I, 222.

27. Letter of Col. Preston, Fincastle, September 28, 1774, American Archives, 4th Series, I, 808.

28. Lewis to Preston, Camp Union, September 8, 1774, Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, pp. 190-92. "Fleming's Journal," ibid., pp. 281-82, describes the Indian alarms during the first days in camp.

29. Christian to Preston, Camp Union, September 7, 1774, ibid., p. 185. Also "Fleming's Journal," ibid., p. 282.

30. Christian to Preston, Head of Rich Creek, September 3, 1774, ibid., pp. 176-77. The lead used by the expedition came from the mines at Fort Chiswell on the New River, and the powder was manufactured near the Natural Bridge in Augusta (now Rockbridge) County. The cattle were from the southern counties west of the Blue Ridge, and the flour was ground on water mills in the Shenandoah Valley. Lewis, p. 29.

31. Christian to Preston, September 7, 1774, op. cit.

32. An undated return of the Botetourt Regiment, Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, p. 415. Generally speaking, there seems to have been an excess number of officers in proportion to the rank and file on the expedition. In Fleming's case, this is not so noticeable, though even here it is apparent. Perhaps the reason for this was the large group of younger members of leading families - Lewises, McClennahans, etc. - who participated in the campaign.

33. Fleming to Mrs. Fleming, "Union Camp on the Levels Green Brier," September 4, 1774, ibid., pp. 181-82.

34. Fleming to Mrs. Fleming, Camp Union, September 7, 1774, ibid., pp. 183-84.

35. Alexander S. Withers, Chronicles of Border Warfare, ed. Reuben G. Thwaites (Cincinnati, 1895), p. 167.

36. Christian to Preston, Camp Union, September 12, 1774, Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, p. 196.

37. John P. Hale, Trans-Allegheny Pioneers, Historical Sketches of the First White Settlements West of the Alleghenies, 1748 and After (Cincinnati, 1886), pp. 182, 184, Withers, p. 165.

38. Virgil A. Lewis points out, p. 37, that the distance Fleming gives for the march down the Great Kanawha from the mouth of the Elk to the Ohio is 57 3/4 miles, while the actual railroad distance is 57 miles.

39. "Fleming's Journal" and "Fleming's Orderly Book," op. cit., passim.

40. "Fleming's Journal" and "Newell's Orderly Book," passim. There were in camp 977 men and 165 officers, or a total of 1,142.

41. Fleming to Mrs. Fleming, Mouth of Elk River, September 27, 1774, Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, pp. 212-13.

42. "Fleming's Orderly Book," op. cit., passim.

43. Fleming to Col. Adam Stephen, October 8, 1774, Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, pp. 236-37.

44. There are numerous contemporary sources on the Battle of Point Pleasant, chief event of Dunmore's War. Some of these of a manuscript nature have already been listed. The "original report" written on the ground the morning after the encounter is quoted under the caption "Materials for History" in Niles' Weekly Register, XII (1817), 145-46, and is reprinted in The Virginia Historical Register, V, (1852), 191-93. There were widely published accounts of the Battle. The first was written by Capt. Thomas Slaughter, commander of the Dunmore Volunteers. This he sent to his brother in Culpeper County, who received it November 2 and sent it the next day to William Rind and John Pinkney, the publishers at Williamsburg of the Virginia Gazette, in which it appeared November 10. The Pennsylvania Gazette had a full account the following week, and the Royal American Magazine of Boston, Mass., contained details of the conflict in its November number, pp. 438-39. The story went across the ocean in the good ship 'Harriott,' Capt. Lee, and the London Daily Advertiser had a lengthy article on the Battle during January, 1775. The same week the Belfast, Ireland, News Letter published it, and in January the Scots Magazine of Edinburgh had a full account. French and German newspapers likewise published extended items describing the Battle. Samuel Kercheval's A History of the Valley of Virginia quotes in full the accounts of the Rev. Mr. Doddridge (pp. 99-105) and the Rev. Mr. Jacobs (pp. 105-24). Capt, John Stuart's account was written later for his Memoir of Indian Wars, and Other Occurrences; it appears in The Virginia Historical Register, V (1852), 181-90, and in Lewis, pp. 47-48.

45. "Fleming's Journal," "Fleming's Orderly Book," and a general fusion of many contemporary accounts. The quotations are from Fleming's letter to William Bowyer, Thwaites and Kellogg Dunmore's War, pp. 254-56.

46. Lewis, pp. 49-50; letter from Staunton, November 4, 1774, reprinted from Pennsylvania Gazette of November 16 in American Archives, 4th Series, I, 1017. The articles captured from the Indians were sold at auction and brought 74.4.6. See Waddell, p. 137, and Hale, p. 199.

47. Fleming to Bowyer, Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, p. 266.

48. A vivid description of the Battle is given by Peyton, who was not a participant, but who used the narratives, anecdotes, and reminiscences of those who were familiar with the events as they occurred. He says: "It was, throughout, a terrible scene - the ring of rifles 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 crashing 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 the 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." J. Lewis Peyton, History of Augusta County, Virginia (Staunton, 1862), p. 197.

49. Roosevelt, I, 233. Fleming made two different estimates of the number of Indians in the Battle. In a letter to his wife, he said: "the Indians were computed at 1000." Then in a letter to William Bowyer, he remarked: "We had t or 800 Warriors to deal with." Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, pp. 254, 256.

50. Monette, I, 381; Peyton, p. 158.

51. Lewis explains these in an appendix to his history of the Battle. Col. Andrew Lewis had with him at Point Pleasant his brother, Col. Charles, and three sons, Capt. John, privates Samuel and Thomas. Charles, idol of the army and the beloved youngest of five brothers, died in the first volley; Samuel was among the wounded. Capt. John Lewis of Augusta was the son of another brother, Thomas, and therefore nephew to both Andrew and Charles and cousin to the other John. Col. Charles Lewis had married Sarah Murray, half-sister of Lt. Charles Cameron of his own regiment, and full sister of Capt. John Murray - all three brothers-in-law were killed in action. Major Thomas Posey, Commissary General, had married a daughter of Sampson Mathews, Commissary of the Augusta regiment, who was a brother ot Capt. George Mathews of that group. Col. Fleming of Botetourt married a sister of Col. Christian of Fincastle, so they were brothers-in-law. Col. Christian and Capt. William Campbell of his battalion had both married sisters of Patrick Henry and so were brothers-in-law. When Capt. Campbell died, his widow became the wife of Capt. (then Genl.) William Russell of Fincastle, who thus became a brother in-law of Col. Christian, Capt. Alexander McClennahan of Augusta was a brother of Capt. Robert McClennahan ot Botetourt. He had married a daughter of Thomas Lewis, brother of Col. Andrew and Col. Charles, both of whom were thus his uncles by marriage, and he himself was a brother-in-law of Capt. John Lewis of Augusta. John Frogge, sutler of the Augusta Regiment, had also married a daughter of Thomas Lewis, and was therefore a brother-in-law of Capt. McClennahan. After Frogge's death in the Battle, his widow married Capt. John Stuart ot Botetourt, and thus Col. Andrew Lewis became his uncle by marriage and Capt. John Lewis of Augusta his brother-in-law. Capt. Evan Shelby of Fincastle had for lieutenant his own son Isaac, and Valentine Sevier of Shelby's company was brother to Lt. John Sevier of Fincastle. This might be kept up until a large part of the army was related by blood or marriage.

52. "Fleming's Journal," "Fleming's Orderly Book," and "Newell'a Orderly Book," op. cit., passim.

53. Withers, p. 164; Monette, I, 381; Lewis, p. 23.

54. There were definite suggestions as to the motives for Dunmore's conduct throughout the entire period. In the first place, he failed to meet Lewis at the mouth of the Great Kanawha as planned. Then he embraced the Indians' overtures of peace with great readiness, and the terms were distinctly friendly. The Governor was suspected of having brought on the conflict in order to distract the attention of the Virginians from the impending struggle with Great Britain. It was thought by many, including George Washington and John Marshall, that His Lordship received from London orders to terminate the war speedily in such a manner as to line up the Indians with the Government against the Colonials in case of a clash and that his conduct merely carried out these instructions. There is, however, no reason to suppose that Lewis believed Dunmore guilty of treachery during the campaign. It was only later that the charge of false dealing was brought into the open - after the Virginians had become enraged by Dunmore's actions on the coast and looked askance at all his past performances. See Withers, pp. 178-81; Monette, I, 385-86; Roosevelt, I, 224. Capt. John Stuart wrote in 1798: "I have since been informed by Col. Lewis, that the Earl of Dunmore (the King's Governor) knew of the attack to be made upon us by the Indians at the mouth of Kanawha, and hoped our destruction, this secret was communicated to him by indisputable authority." "Narrative of Col. John Stuart, of Greenbrier," William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, XXII (1914), 232. Another writer reasons at length as to Dunmore's thoughts on the advantages of having Lewis' army crushed. J. T. McAlllster, "The Battle of Point Pleasant," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, IX (1902), 396-402. Against these suggestions is the series of resolutions adopted by the officers of Dunmore's army at Fort Gower on November 5, after the conclusion of the campaign. They expressed the greatest respect for the Earl and said he underwent the campaign from no other motive than the true interests of the country. John B. Dillon, A History of Indiana (Indianapolis, 1859), pp. 97-98; Lewis, p. 86.

55. Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, pp. 304, 386; Lewis, pp. 55-56. Logan refused to attend the council at Camp Charlotte, but Cornstalk was there and made a speech which was praised by men who had heard Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee as superior in dignified delivery.

56. Morning Returns, October 19 and 28, Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, pp. 418-20.

57. "Fleming's Orderly Book" and "Newell's Orderly Book," op. cit., passim.

58. Fleming to William Bowyer, merchant in Staunton, n.d., Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, p. 255.

59. Christian to Preston, Point Pleasant, October 15, 1774, MS, Campbell-Preston Papers, Library of Congress, I, 46-47. "Colo. Fleming was shot with three balls, two in the left arm and one in the left breast, while speaking to his division in a peace of clear ground, with great coolness and deliberation he stept slowly back and told them not to mind him but to go up and fight. Poor Col. Lewis soon after he reached the camp died & I fear poor Fleming will. I hope and fear for him many times in ye day.'"

60. A letter from Williamsburg dated November 10, 1774, found a century later in the British Museum, said: 'The account further says that Colonel Fleming and several others are since dead of their wounds." Peyton, p. 161. A list of killed and wounded in the Battle included this item: "Captain W. Fleming, (since dead,)." American Archives, 4th Series, I, 1018.

61. Waddell, pp. 136-37, 139. It was later discovered that the child's father, John Frogge, was among those killed at Point Pleasant.

62. A series of letters from Major Campbell and others to Col. Preston. Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, pp. 208-12, 226-35, 238-52.

63. Capt. William Ingles to Preston, October 14, 1774; Capt. John Floyd to Preston, October 16; Isaac Shelby to John Shelby (nephew to uncle) October 16; Preston to Patrick Henry, October 31, ibid., pp. 257-59, 266-77, 291-94.

64. Fleming to Mrs. Fleming, October 13, 1774, ibid., pp. 253-54.

65. Madison to Mrs. Fleming, around October 31, 1774, ibid., p. 279.

66. "Fleming's Orderly Book," ibid., pp. 356-60.

67. Waddell, p. 137.

68. Lewis, pp. 74, 128.

69. See, for instance, Roosevelt, I, 240, "Had it not been for Lord Dunmore's War, it is more than likely that when the colonies achieved their freedom they would have found their western boundary fixed at the Alleghany Mountains." Opposed to the group who emphasize the importance of Dunmore's War and the activities of George Rogers Clark, is Samuel Flagg Bemis, who submits evidence that the western boundary was fixed irrespective of these events. Samuel P. Bemis, The Diplomacy of the American Revolution (New York, 1935), p. 219n.

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