Ohio History Journal





[This article was prepared for and read by author at the Banquet of the

Ohio Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, held at the

Neil House, Columbus, April 19, 1902. It is herewith published at

the request of the editor of the Quarterly.-E. 0. R.]

At the time the dreadful battle of Point Pleasant was fought

at the mouth of the Kanawha river, on October 10, 1774, the

American colonies were in the travail of revolution. For years

the people had been oppressed by the iron heel of inexorable

tyranny to a point beyond further acquiescent endurance. The

word had gone forth from settlement to settlement that the hour

had come to invoke the arbitrament of the sword to cut the

shackles forged upon America by Britain. The aspect of the po-

litical horizon was being watched from the tower of thought, and

as the days passed the hope of harmony grew dimmer and dim-

mer. The lightning of revolt rent the skies and the thunder of

discontent reverberated from the Green Mountains to the Ala-

mance; from the Delaware to the Ohio. Profound discussions

were waged at the firesides in the wilderness where the solitude

of the night was interrupted only by the howl of the wolf, the

melancholy moan of the ill-boding owl or the shriek of the fright-

ful panther; here was considered the status of the colonies as

well as in the drawing room of the tidewater mansion. That an

awful storm was brewing was made manifest on every hand.

After the French and Indian wars, whose horrors are un-

paralleled in historic record; after the terrors of Pontiac's hideous

conspiracy; after the treaty of 1765, peace with the savage seemed

assured, and the awful nightmare and its terrible realization in

Indian atrocities and frightful barbarities had passed away and

the indomitable pioneer had crossed the mountains in large num-

bers to seek home in the ever expanding west. Peace then seemed

as sure as the spring blooming of the anemone and the annual put-

ting forth of the golden petals of the wild sunflower. The whole

aspect was tranquil save the loud mutterings of discontent that


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filled the air with alarming forebodings, and the British heart with

fear of insurrection of the outraged colonies. The long period

of friendly relationship with the Indians gave the people time to

think of their political troubles, and they thought long and in-

tently. They made haste to be bold in denunciation of cruel rule,

and whenever the people gathered the menace of tyranny was the

absorbing topic. The stamp act had been passed. The clergy-

man's case had been through court with all its inexorable bitter-

ness. Patrick Henry had delivered the speech heard across the

mighty ocean. The tea had been thrown overboard. The Bos-

ton massacre had filled the country with horror, for it impressed

the alert mind of the American patriot with the possibilities of

tyrant rule. American citizens had been shot down on the banks

of the Alamance by the cruel soldiers of the crown for expression

of opinion. Henry, Jefferson and Carr had organized themselves

into that great revolutionary machine, the Committee of Corre-

spondence for the dissemination of intelligence between the colo-

nies. All the colonies were taking note of the conditions obtain-

ing. Jefferson had written his famous document on the rights of

Americans which was the Declaration of Independence in the

concrete. Massachusetts had made a courageous stand against

parliament and her soil had received the baptism of blood. The

most determined revolutionists had been summoned to meet in all

the colonies. Those were stirring times. The burgesses of Vir-

ginia had passed a resolution calling upon the people to set apart

a day as one of fasting and prayer for the purpose of invoking

Divine direction in the impending political strife, and declaring

that it would oppose by all proper and just measures every injury

to American rights. Other colony legislative bodies did likewise

Lord Dunmore had dissolved the burgesses and the patriots had

retired to the Raleigh tavern where it was resolved to propose an

immediate assemblage of a general congress of the colonies to

meet annually to deliberate on the common welfare. Hanover

Presbytery in Pennsylvania had passed a declaration which had

an ominous sound. Revolution was rife. A collision between

Britain and her American colonies was in the highest degree prob-

able, and there was only one possible way to avert a conflict that

meant the loss to England of the very apple of her eye.

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It was evident to the loyalists that an Indian war would

serve to unite the colonies on another matter of far more import

than politics, of taxation, of freedom, of independence of the

crown; for life and home are the most potential factors of har-

mony. Lord Dunmore, the Governor of Virginia, knew the hor-

rors of Indian warfare; he knew that the young men had grown

up ina season of peace and were not inured to war, and he felt

that a conflict with the savage native would call out all the Vir-

ginians and that there would follow carnage that would steep

the soil in blood and so satiate the colonists with its bitterness

that they would want no more of it. They were to be forced to

drink the bitter cup to the dregs.

At the opening of the spring of 1774 the colonists were at

peace with the Indians. The savages were permitting peaceable

settlements in Western Virginia and Kentucky and Ohio. The

pioneers no longer feared the stealthy enemy who had been wont

to sneak upon his cabin and violate his fireside. During this

tranquil period the Zanes settled at Wheeling and were being sur-

rounded by many families of energy and brawn from over the

mountains. Michael Cresap was taking up land in order to hold

them for the inevitable rise in the price, for the settlers were grow-

ing numerous. At the same time Dr. John Conolly, by authority of

Lord Dunmore, was commandant of Fort Dunmore, and he had

appointed Cresap captain of the militia of the section in which he

resided. Cresap was located below the Zane settlement, and he

had a number of young men employed in improving the lands.

Dr. Conolly was in constant communication with Lord Dunmore,

who kept himself posted on the revolutionary movement, and

when he refused protection to friendly Indians who were trading

with the settlers, he did so to excite the savage against the whites.

He not only did this; he heaped abuse upon the men who were

outspoken as to issue of the impending troubles between the colo

nies and Britain; he threatened them with arrest and in some

cases attempted to coerce with violent hands.

Dr. Conolly, commandant of Fort Dunmore, knew Michael

Cresap as a Whig; he had taken sides with the colonists although

holding a military commission signed by Governor Dunmore and

Commandant Conolly, for this reason there was enmity between

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them; but he also knew Cresap as a desperate man who hated the

Indians so intensely that he loved the provocation that would give

him opportunity and excuse to kill the savages. Cresap was the

man he needed for a purpose. So early in the spring of 1774,

when all the colonies were preparing for revolt, Conolly notified

Cresap that a war with the Indians was inevitable; but the settlers

saw no evidence of it. He wrote to Cresap that he was investi-

gating; then he sent another letter to the effect that the war was

on in all its fury, and advised Cresap to call out the troops under

his command as captain and take up arms against the savage foe.

Conolly knew well the temper of Cresap. He knew that the kill-

ing of a few Indians would inaugurate a war for revenge that

would make the colonists forget their other troubles; and he

knew that Cresap only needed an intimation to start him on an

unrelentless war path and he being a Whig the blame could be

laid to the insurgents and not to the crown.

As I have said the Indians at this time were engaged in

friendly trade and were employed in carrying stores from Ft.

Dunmore to traders along the Ohio, the Muskingum, the Scioto

and the Kanawha, and they were unmolested. This is the

evidence of contemporaries whose testimony was taken under

oath afterward. The Indians and whites treated each other as

neighbors and there seemed to be nothing to disturb the good

fellowship then obtaining. Much progress was being made in

settlements on the Ohio and other Virginia rivers.

Conolly was kept constantly informed of the mutterings

against the crown in Virginia; and again sent Cresap word that

his investigations revealed that the Indians were on the warpath

and urged him to prepare for the conflict. The information in

the letter spread like wildfire and the settlers became alarmed

and rushed to the fortifications. Col. Crawford and George

Rogers Clark could not stay the apprehension.

A canoe containing two Indians was reported on its way

down the river from Ft. Dunmore. Cresap proposed to take a

party up the river to kill the Indians in the canoe, but this was

strenuously opposed by Col. Zane, he declaring that to slay the

savages would be cold-blooded murder and that it would be fol-

lowed by retaliation, but his counsel was not heeded and the

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party went up the river, the Indians were met and killed. Michael

Myers and Cresap were in the party and both afterward soldiers

of the Revolution, the first being with Col. Crawford in his

disastrous expedition to Sandusky. He lived to be 106 years

of age and his bones lie buried in an old country church yard

in Jefferson county. Near the same time, according to Withers

and Butterfield, several canoes of Indians were discovered on

the Ohio by Cresap and his men who drove them to the mouth

of Pipe creek where the savages landed and a battle ensued,

in which three of the Indians were killed, scalp d and their stores

were taken. A few days after Michael Myers shot an Indian near

Hollow Rock spring in Jefferson county, near where Myers after-

ward settled on land won as a Revolutionary soldier. This

Indian was from Logan's camp which was a few miles east on

a rise in the ground near the mouth of Yellow creek, the exact

spot having been marked by the writer several years ago.

After the Pipe creek incident, according to George Rogers

Clark, Cresap and his men formed a resolution to attack Logan's

camp, but Clark remonstrated against such a movement as did

also Col. Zane. Clark says that after the expedition stopped for

refreshment it was proposed to take a vote and every person

present including Cresap, opposed the projected massacre, all

declaring that they were satisfied beyond doubt that Logan was

in camp only as a hunting expedition without the least sem-

blance of war. Clark further says that it was two days after

this incident that Logan's people were killed at Baker's cabin,

in Virginia, immediately opposite the mouth of Yellow Creek,

but Clark and Cresap had moved on toward Redstone.

That horrible murder was viewed by the whole country

as most atrocious. While he has been blamed even to this day

Cresap had nothing to do with that crime; he was far away

from the scene when it was committed. No doubt the letter

he got from Conolly incited the murder, and that it was a

part of the conspiracy of Conolly to blame Cresap in order to

more assuredly incite the Indians against the Whigs. Logan

did not know that Cresap was in the party, but Cresap's name

was in Logan's speech after that speech was delivered to Gov.

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Dunmore, although we have the testimony of Col. Gibson that

he erased this name before the speech reached Dunmore. All

that Cresap had to do with the crime against Logan and humanity

was to circulate the letter from Conolly which incited the whites

against the Indians, and it is possible that Daniel Greathouse

and his party of settlers who inveigled Logan's people across the

river to Baker's cabin, were influenced by that letter. Of Logan's

own family his mother, a sister and a brother were killed, to-

gether with several of his tribe. It was a shameless and atrocious

murder, as heartless in its manifest barbarity as any crime com-

mitted by the Indians in all their wars. It was the inciting cause

of the awful carnival of carnage that followed.

Cresap always claimed that whatever blame that might attach

to him for the killing of the two Indians on the then Jefferson

county river front, belonged to his superior officer, Dr. Conolly,

whose circular letter directed or authorized his conduct, and

he was bound to obey or suffer the penalty for mutiny. Conolly

was denounced for his actions by an indignation meeting held at

Pittsburg, June 25, 1774, when it was set forth that he was the

cause of "our present calamity and dread of an Indian war,"

Conolly's conduct was described as tyrannical and unprecedented.

There was such certainty of retaliation by the Indians and

that a merciless war would soon be waged, that according to

Valentine Crawford's statement, the settlers, who had located

with full hope of abiding peace, immediately and spontaneously

abandoned their new homes. The trails were swarmed with

settlers returning to the East to the protection of the fortifica-

tions. Col. Crawford wrote to Washington on the 6th of May:

"I am sorry to inform you that the disturbance between the white

people and the Indians has prevented my going down the river.

* * * It has ruined about all the settlers. There were more

than one thousand people crossed the Monongahela in one day."

The wrath of Logan was too deep to assuage; the iron had

pierced his soul, and his thirst was for blood. He wanted to be

the friend of the white man and so he was, but the white man

would not have it so continue. He was now for revenge: he

would engage in the saturnalia of atrocity until his diabolical

yearnings were satiated. He had no other joy, no other hope

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than to retaliate, to murder and to torture, as his own people

had been murdered and tortured. And a Christian nation con-

spired to set red devils on fire and turn them upon its own

people; incited savages to deeds of crime, urging them on to

actions so appalling, so awful, so cruel, that history does not

record its parallel in the degree of barbarity.

The successive events which led up to the murder of Indians

for no other purpose than to incite them to revenge, demon-

strated that the British had crushed the influence of Christian

civilization in their hearts in order that its place might be filled

with a wicked spirit to coerce recalcitrant colonists to continue

to wear the galling yoke of tyranny.

Lord Dunmore organized the flower of Virginia and of

Pennsylvania to engage in battle with the savages. These men

were brave; they were sympathetic and could not see their kin-

dred murdered without making effort to defend them. It was

known to Dunmore that they would enter the conflict and he fur-

ther believed that before they were done they would have enough

war to teach them its most excruciating terrors.

Gen. Andrew Lewis with 1,100 men marched through the

Lower country to Point Pleasant. Col. Crawford and Major

Angus McDonald early in July arrived at Wheeling, where Fort

Fincastle was erected. This fort, too, became an important fac-

tor in the Revolutionary War, having withstood two awful sieges,

neither of which have been made a part of the history written

in the East, and yet the work done in those two conflicts aided

greatly the American patriots, for the fury of the Indians was

held at bay and permitted the frontiersmen to join Daniel Mor-

gan's regiment of sharpshooters.

According to contemporary statements the information re-

ceived by Dunmore from England while at Fort Fincastle en-

couraged the belief that insurrection of the American colonies

was apparent and led him to waive the original plan of forming

a junction with Lewis at Point Pleasant and it was this devia-

tion that placed the brave Lewis and his intrepid army in jeopardy

out of which only divine power could have carried him. The

conduct of Dunmore at the treaty on the Congo in Pickaway

county showed an understanding between Dunmore and the In-

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dians. He had ordered Lewis to join him at the place of the

treaty. While Lewis and his men were eager to wipe out the

savage foe by continuing the onslaught commenced at Point Pleas-

ant, Dunmore sent him back before the treaty was completed,

which he would have been afraid to do without a well fixed pur-

pose, for the Indian warriors were about him in sufficient num-

bers to have utterly destroyed his army. Before the battle Lewis

sent scouts to ascertain the reason for Dunmore's delay in send-

ing reinforcements, and although Dunmore was informed of

Lewis' peril he refused to respond to the cry for help. Capt.

Stewart notes in his narrative that he believed a spy, a friend

of Dunmore's, was in Lewis' camp before the battle and that

he carried information to the Indians.

Capt. Stewart informs us that Lewis had no contemptible

enemy with which to deal; the Indian army was composed chiefly

of the Shawanese that cut off the British army under Gen. Brad-

dock in 1756; they were the Indians who defeated Major Grant

and his Scotch Highlanders at Fort Duquesne in 1758 when the

whole of his troops were either killed or taken prisoners. And

after the battle of Point Pleasant they defeated the very flower of

Virginia at the battle of Blue Licks in Kentucky. Afterward

they defeated the United States army commanded by Harmer, and

lastly defeated Gen. St. Clair's great army after prodigious


It seems evident to me that it was for the great purpose after-

ward realized, that an All-wise Providence permitted and di-

rected the issue of the battle of Point Pleasant to be victory for

the American patriots. I believe that the issue of American in-

dependence was in that battle, for had Lewis and his intrepid

soldiers been cut down because Lord Dunmore failed or refused

to furnish reinforcements, the die would have been cast: A terrible

Indian war would have followed, whose awful carnage would

have been so appalling that the Americans would have halted in

their demands upon England; they would have been so glad of

crown help in the emergency that they would have forgotten the

question of taxation without representation in the terrible con-

flict with the red savages.

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The battle of Point Pleasant was more to the American cause

than the mere victory of the day over the Indians; it trained men

who were not inured to bloody conflict for the struggle that was

inevitable. It tried the nerve and found it not lacking for Mor-

gan's sharpshooters; it trained men for King's Mountain and for

the Cowpens; it fitted soldiers for Morgan's march to Quebec;

and the men who followed George Rogers Clark through the

swamps on his conquest of the Illinois were from the same he-

roic mould, of the same blood, of the same training as the men

at Point Pleasant; the conquest gave to America the empire which

comprises five great states, the very heart of the Republic. The

battle of Point Pleasant was not only the first decisive conflict of

the Revolutionary War; had the issue been otherwise-had it

turned as Dunmore expected and hoped it would turn, the peo-

ple would have submitted, they would have acquiesced in the

tyranny of the English crown.

From the battle of Point Pleasant came Gen. Andrew Lewis

and Gen. Daniel Morgan. I may say that from that battle also

came George Rogers Clark; he took no part in the battle, but was

a scout with the Dunmore division of the army. These were

three colossal figures in the Revolutionary War; Morgan's sharp-

shooters were organized almost immediately after the battle was

fought, for on the way home Morgan learned of the Conti-

nental Congress at Philadelphia and he at once organized his

men into a society sworn to do battle for freedom and independ-

ence, and after the surrender at Yorktown, Cornwallis said to

Morgan that he commanded the most magnificent regiment in

the world. Andrew Lewis won fame in the war, and when

Washington was made Commander-in-Chief he insisted that An-

drew Lewis was more capable for the trying position and urged

that he be selected. And what of Clark? He fought all through

the Revolution and his achievements were everything to the West.

Had he failed in his conquest of the Illinois; had he failed in

his efforts to dislodge the British hold on the Northwest Ohio

today would be under the British flag. Had it not been for the

steadfastness, the patriotism, the prowess of these three men

developed at the battle of Point Pleasant, the results of the first

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war for independence would have been greatly at variance with

the desires of the American people.

[Authorities for the above article are: John J. Jacob's Biography of

Michael Cresap; Olden Time-Monthly historical paper printed by Nevin

B. Craig at Pittsburg, 1847; Statement of George Rogers Clark; Wash-

ington-Crawford Correspondence-Butterfield; Doddridge's Notes; Nar-

rative of Capt. John Stewart; Pennsylvania Archives; McKiernan's Bor-

der History.-W. H. H.]







[This article was the substance of a speech made by the author at the

banquet of the Ohio Sons and Daughters of the American Revolu-

tion, at the Hollenden Hotel, Cleveland, February 22, 1902.-


It has been said that Belgium is the battleground of Europe.

Ohio may then be called the Belgium of America. It is the

great battlefield of the United States. For the Ohio Valley,

of which Ohio may be regarded as the center, was the arena in

the contest of centuries between the Latin and the Saxon races

for the American stakes. The French, through their discoveries

up the St. Lawrence, along the great lakes to the sources of

the Mississippi, and thence down that great river course to

the Gulf of Mexico, claimed the tributaries of those waterways,

including the territory east of the Mississippi and south of the

chain of lakes, except that strip settled by the English colonies

along the Atlantic coast, and reaching back to the Allegheny

mountains. The English, by their right of discovery and settle-

ment and through their royal charters and patents, claimed the

extension of their rights west from the Atlantic to the Mississippi

and even on beyond to the "unknown" sea.

It was at Logstown, some twenty miles below the site of

Pittsburg, 1753, when the first great conference was held between

the three rival races. The Indian, the native savage, represented

by Half King, chief of the Iroquois; St. Pierre, representing

the French, and he whose name we celebrate tonight, George