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Letter from Colonel William Preston, at Fincastle, in Virginia



That part of the army under the command of Colonel Lewis, which is to meet Lord Dunmore at the mouth of the Great Kenhawa, or New River, assembled at the Great Levels of Greenbrier, to the amount of about fifteen hundred rank and file. Colonel Charles Lewis marched with six hundred men on the 6th instant, for the mouth of Elk, a branch of New River, which empties some distance below the Falls, there to build a small Fort, and prepare canoes. Colonel Andrew Lewis marched with another large party the 12th instant, for the same place; and Colonel Christian was to march yesterday with the remainder, being about four hundred, and the last supply of provisions. 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. It is earnestly hoped that they will, in conjunction with the other party, be able to chastise the Ohio Indians for the many murders and robberies they have committed on our frontiers for many years past.

On the 8th instant, one John Henry was dangerously wounded, and his wife and three children taken prisoners, on the head of Clinch River. The man at that time made his escape, but is since dead of his wounds. The same day a man was taken prisoner by another party of the enemy on the north fork of Holston. On the 13th a soldier was fired upon by three Indians on Clinch River; but, as he received no hurt, he returned the fire, and it is believed killed an Indian, as much blood was found where he fell, and one of the plugs which burst out of his wound was also found. The soldier was supported by some men who were near, and gave the two Indians a chase; who, it is supposed threw the wounded one into a deep pit that was near. These parties of the enemy were pursued several days by Captain Daniel Smith, who could not overtake them, they having stolen horses to carry them off.

On the 23d, two negroes were taken prisoners at Blackmore' s Fort, on Clinch River, and a great many horses and cattle shot down. On the 24th, a family was killed and taken at Reedy Creek, a branch of Holston, near the Cherokee line; and on Sunday morning, the 25th, hallooing, and the report of many guns were heard at several houses, but the damage done was not known when the express came away. These last murders are believed to be perpetrated by the Cherokees, as two men lately returned from that country and made oath that two parties had left the towns, either to join the Shawanese or fall upon some of our settlements; and that the Cherokees in general appeared in a very bad temper, which greatly alarmed the traders.

It is impossible to conceive the consternation into which this last stroke has put the inhabitants on Holston and Clinch Rivers, and tlie rather, as many of their choice men are on the expedition, and they have no ammunition. Two of these people were at my house this day, and, after travelling above an hundred miles offered ten shillings a pound for powder; but there is none to be had for any money. Indeed it is very alarming; for should the Cherokees engage in a war at this time it would ruin us, as so many men are out, and ammunition so scarce. Add to tins the strength of those people, and their towns being so near our settlements on Holston.