Sowing the Seeds of Revolution
by Pamela J. Adams
Daniel Boone’s son lay dead. He and five others were brutally beaten and murdered on October 10, 1773. At the time, no one knew this massacre would lead to the first battle of the American Revolution.
Daniel Boone led a group of frontiersmen and their families into Kentucky in the hopes of settling a homestead for themselves in the fall of 1773. But this plan changed after several Shawnee, Cherokee, and Delaware Indians attacked and killed Daniel’s son and his companions while gathering supplies. The violent attack caused Boone and the remaining settlers to leave Kentucky, but it also planted the seeds for war.
Earlier that year, British Virginia Governor John Murray, known as Lord Dunmore, appointment Dr. John Connolly to Fort Pitt as "Indian Agent" and "Land Agent”. Extremely pro-British and anti-Colonist, Connolly’s appointment was immediately followed by increased anxiety in Virginians and Pennsylvanians regarding the lands in the West. At the same time, formerly friendly Native Americans were growing concerned about their hunting grounds and found a sympathetic ally in Great Britain.
Following the massacre of Boone’s group, Dunmore commissioned Boone to warn and protect surveyors from the increased native hostilities. Dunmore mustered a force and made plans with General Andrew Lewis of the Virginia militia to take action together. On the surface, his behavior appeared protective of the colonists, who were still British subjects. However, actions done for political reasons aren't always what they seem.
Tensions between Britain and the colonists had been escalating for a decade, starting with the Stamp Act in 1765 with Boston as the leader of the resistance. Patriots began revolting against tyranny under the Liberty Tree, where they also protested the heavy taxes and regulations of the 1767 Townshend Acts. Hostilities eventually led to 1770's Boston Massacre and 1773's Boston Tea Party. Parliament responded to the Tea Party with the Coercive Acts, or Intolerable Acts, prompting leaders from all the colonies to join together for a more unified response to the crown. A delegation convened on September 5, 1774, as the (First) Continental Congress addressed their grievances with King George III.
As deadly massacres by the natives increased, Dunmore coordinated with Lewis to confront the Ohio Country Indians. The two men planned to meet at Point Pleasant, Virginia, with their respective forces and present a united front against the Indian attacks. Dunmore was well aware of the Continental Congress and their opposition to Parliament’s taxation acts. As the representatives composed a letter to the king, Lewis started towards Point Pleasant with his militia on September 11.
Lewis and his militia traveled 160 miles through thick forests for 19 days before arriving at the rendezvous spot at the mouth of the Kanawha on the Ohio River. Surprised Dunmore was not yet there, Lewis sent runners northwestward to Fort Dunmore, formerly Fort Pitt in what is now Pittsburg, PA. He knew that Dunmore had planned to head to the fort that had been renamed for him before coming to Point Pleasant. Before long, runners sent by Dunmore arrived to inform Lewis that his plans changed. The runners advised that Dunmore planned to travel westward into Ohio Country instead. He ordered Lewis to cross the Ohio River there, and they would meet up on the other side.
Too late to travel any further, Lewis and his men set up camp for the night. While still dark, two soldiers set out to hunt deer for breakfast along the Ohio River. Shortly after, only one returned, entering the camp exhausted and frantic. The militia gathered around to listen as he told of the Shawnee camp they stumbled upon. The natives fired, killing his companion as he narrowly escaped. While still in mid-sentence, two scouts rushed into camp with the same news regarding the nearby Shawnee.
Lewis immediately ordered two groups to head upriver with one division on the left bank and the other on the right. Col. Charles Lewis, Andrew's brother, led 150 soldiers while Col. William Fleming led another 100. As the sun began to rise, Chief Cornstalk and the Shawnees attacked the militia about a half mile from the American camp. Wounded early on, Col. Lewis died within hours and Col. Fleming was shot in both his arm and chest.
With both commanders incapacitated, the small American force began to retreat. To their surprise, General Lewis had sent reinforcements ready to engage the Shawnee. Bolstered by the additional soldiers the battle continued, lasting the entire day. As dusk approached, Gen. Lewis grew concerned. He needed an ending to the conflict and he needed it soon.
Noticing the densely covered banks of the Kanawha River, Lewis sent three companies through the thicket to attack the Shawnee from behind. The surprise attack scattered the Indians as they realized they were now trapped between two groups of American forces. They made a hasty retreat across the Ohio River, taking as many casualties as they could. The dead they couldn't carry were tossed into the river as they fled. Therefore, the total number of native casualties is unknown yet many believe Tecumseh's father was among the fatalities. Americans did recover twenty-one natives on the battlefield and another twelve within the forest. The Virginia militia won the Battle of Point Pleasant, but at the loss of 75 soldiers with another 140 wounded, equaling roughly one-fifth of their forces.
As Lewis assessed the situation, something began to gnaw at the pit of his stomach. Something was not right. Why did Lord Dunmore change plans at the last minute? And how did the Shawnee know exactly where his troops were? As the questions consumed his mind, he gathered his remaining men and set out to the new meeting place, Dunmore's Camp Charlotte.
While en route, Dunmore sent Simon Girty twice in one day to order Lewis to turn around. This only added to Lewis’ suspicion of what Dunmore was really doing. With his officers’ and militia’s full support, they continued on.
As the Virginia militia arrived within miles of Camp Charlotte, Dunmore traveled out to meet them. Accompanying him were the Shawnee Chief Cornstalk and the Lenape leader White Eyes. Dunmore again ordered Lewis to return home as he was not needed for their peace talks. With his officers behind him, including Col. Daniel Morgan and Col. Samuel McDowell, Lewis insisted on participating in the talks to protect Virginia's interests.
The Battle of Point Pleasant, fought of October 10, 1774, exactly one year to the day after Daniel Boone’s son was killed, was the only battle in what became known as Dunmore's War. It was the bloodiest attack by natives on the colonists before the American Revolution. Strangely very little was recorded about it at the time. In fact, there wasn’t even a battle report recorded. The absence of such a report, which is highly unusual, leads historians to wonder if the British destroyed it. On the other hand, did Lewis choose not to write a battle report knowing the colonists and the British were no longer on the same side? Either way, it was the last planned effort between the Red Coats and the Patriots.
Without official written evidence, many dismiss the claims that Dunmore set Lewis up. Yet the country was still under British rule at the time. Would they really document Dunmore's betrayal of the Virginia militia? Fortunately, accounts from the soldiers themselves were passed on to their families after they returned. From these pieces of evidence, we form a more accurate picture which led to the Battle of Point Pleasant being considered the first actual conflict in the Revolutionary War.
Unbeknownst to the colonists, Britain was encouraging the Indians to rise up against the frontiersmen and settlers entering the West, leading to the death of Boone’s son. Facts and events eventually surfaced, revealing Dunmore's true conduct.
Col. John Stuart, a participant in the battle, wrote: "The battle of Point Pleasant was in fact the beginning of the Revolutionary War, that obtained for our county the liberty and independence enjoyed by the United States, for it is well known that the Indians were influenced by the British to commence the war to terrify and confound the people, before they commenced hostilities themselves the following year at Lexington. It was thought by British politicians that to incite an Indian war would prevent a combination of the colonies for opposing parliamentary measures to tax Americans. The blood therefore spilt upon this memorable battlefield will long be remembered by the good people of Virginia and the United States with gratitude."
General Lewis’ son, Col. Andrew Lewis, revealed that, “It is known that Blue Jacket, a Shawnee chief, visited Lord Dunmore’s camp on the 9th, the day before the battle, and went straight from there to the Point, and some of them went to camp with Lord Dunmore immediately after the battle.” He continued, “Lord Dunmore, in a conversation with Conally [sic] and others on the 10th, the day of the battle, remarked that ‘Lewis is probably having hot work about this time.'”
During the winter, similar stories and statements spread throughout Virginia. Following the Red Coats' march on Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, colonists turned against Dunmore. By the end of the year, the very militiamen that fought at Point Pleasant forced Dunmore and the Red Coats from Virginia. Unfortunately, until that time Dunmore greatly increased his relationships with the natives.
History books and textbooks barely reference Lord Dunmore's War or the Battle of Point Pleasant if they even mention it at all. However, when they do, Dunmore is usually given credit for defeating the Shawnee and gaining territory in West Virginia and Kentucky. Yet, he wasn't even there. By losing the history of Point Pleasant, we miss the lessons regarding leaders pretending to protect the people while working behind the scenes to destroy them.
Under the Obama Administration, race, gender, and religious relations were set back decades all while the media praised him for unifying the nation. Since the 2016 election, Antifa protesters escalated their violence as Democrats call for their supporters to get in the faces of those they oppose. The young protesters eagerly comply as liberal activist professors have poisoned their minds for decades so the party leaders can use them to enforce tyranny.
Lord Dunmore and Connolly turned the Indians and the colonists against each other to further his own cause. But we are not taught that anymore. So here we are again. Groups that used to live peacefully side by side now see others as pegs that must fit in certain slots where they are automatically praised or condemned. Fortunately, the American people may be figuring this one out on their own.
While insisting they just want the truth, Democrats used the media to convince their base that Justice Kavanaugh was a rapist on an accusation of sexual assault alone, with no corroborating evidence. As the multiple allegations continued to fall apart, Democrats kept up their deceit and manipulation, insisting if you do not believe women you should be destroyed. Yet in their ultimate thrust for power and need for division, they may have very well unified a good portion of the American people who reject such fascist tactics.
My 5th Great-grandfather fought in the Battle of Point Pleasant, so I have a personal connection to those men who participated in our first battle for liberty. Most Americans have some sort of similar connection towards the fight for freedom whether it be during the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the World Wars or the Civil Rights Movement. Unfortunately, progressives need us to forget those connections as they remind us that America is not the purely evil empire they claim it to be. They remind us we all have a personal stake in this idea we call America. Therefore, it is imperative we don't let our ancestors’ stories die.
But that’s just my 2 cents.
About the Author
Pamela J. Adams was a high school math teacher in an inner city school system but her passion is research and history. Pam has authored several genealogy books along with compilations of her historical blogs, Liberating Letters, which she maintains at her website TheFactsPaper.com. You can find more details about her books on her Amazon Page.
You can follow her current blogs at her Liberating Letters Facebook, Twitter, and Patreon accounts. Her desire is to provide a tool for teachers, parents, grandparents, and citizens to preserve and pass on America's rich history to students, family, and all people who love freedom and liberty. Pamela was also a contributing writer to Constitution.com before joining Pandora’s Box Gazette. Read more untold stories and how they still relate to us today at TheFactsPaper.com.
You can read Pamela’s column on the 2nd Wednesday each month here at Pandora’s Box Gazette.