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Letter from Devereux Smith, Pittsburgh, to Dr. Smith



Pittsburgh, June 10, 1774.

SIR: I returned to this place the 11th of May, and found


my family in the greatest confusion, owing to the appearance of an Indian war, and the tyrannical treatment they received from Doctor Conolly in my absence. Before I was illegally taken from my family the 10th of April, I understood from some of the Shawanese Chiefs, at Council with Mr˙ McKee, the Indian Agent, under Sir William Johnson, that they were much dissatisfied at the rapid progress the Virginians had made down the Ohio in settling the lands below the purchase, viz: below Sciota river, which they looked upon as a great encroachment on their liberties and properties; they also expressed their surprise to see a number of armed men assembled at this place with their colours at different times, making a warlike appearance, and said, that after the first muster of hte 25th of January, some of the militia fired on them at their camps near the mouth of the Sawmill Run.

These Shawanese Chiefs were sent for by Mr˙ Croghan last summer, and came here about the 25th of December, and remained here till the 1st of April; during which time they often complained to the inhabitants of this place, that Mr˙ Croghan had sent for them to do business, and kept them in great distress for want of provisions and clothing; upon which the inhabitants were at some expense supplying them during their stay, and when they were going home made a collection of goods for them, in order to send them off satisfied.

On the 15th of April, Mr˙ William Butler sent off a canoe loaded with goods for the Shawanese Towns, and on the 16th it was attacked about forty miles from here by three Cherokee Indians, who had waylaid them on the river bank. They killed one white man, and wounded another, and a third made his escape. They plundered the canoe of the most valuable part of the cargo and made off; but as they were Cherokees,, we were sure they did this for sake of plunder alone, therefore thought no more of it than the loss. As Mr˙ Butler was under the necessity of sending people to assist in bringing his peltry from the Shawanese Towns, he sent off another canoe on the 24th of April, in care of two Indians, who were well known to be good men, and two white men. On the 27th, about ninety miles from here, they were fired upon from shore, and both the Indians were killed, by Michael Cresap, and a party he had with him; they also scalped the Indians. Mr˙ Cresap then immediately followed the above mentioned Shawanese Chiefs some small distance lower down, where they were encamped, and fired upon them, killed one and wounded two more. The Indians fled to the Delaware Towns, which were the nearest, and are greatly exasperated at this treatment, as they did not expect any such thing from the English. About that same time, a party, headed by one Greathouse, barbaraously murdered and scalped nine Indians at the house of one Baker, near Yellow Creek, about fifty-five miles down the river. Owing to these cruelties committed by Cresap and Greathouse, the inhabitants of Rackoon and Wheeling fled from that settlement, and are chiefly gone to Virginia. After Cresap had been guilty of these cruelties, he returned to Maryland, but has since came back with a party of men. Cresap wrote to Conolly, and Mr˙ McKee, threatening that if they did not give them security that the Indians would not do any mischief for six months, that he, Cresap, would immediately proceed to commit further hostilities against the Indians. On the 21st of April, Conolly wrote a letter to the inhabitants of Wheeling, telling them that he had been informed, by good authority, that the Shawanese were ill disposed towards white men, and that he, therefore, required and commanded them to hold themselves in readiness to repel any insults that might be offered by them. This letter fell into the hands of Cresap, and he says that it was in consequence of this letter, and the murer committeed by the Cherokees on Mr˙ Butler' s people, that he committeed the hostilities above mentioned.

I am informed, that on the 6th day of May, Mr˙ Croghan sent Captain White Eyes, (one of the Indian Chiefs,) in company with some of our traders, to acquaint the Shawanese and Delawares that the outrages which had been committed by some of our ill disposed white people, were without the least countenance from Government. This Indian promised to use his best endeavours to accommodate matters, and returned the 24th of May, and brought with him ten white men, who had been protected by the


Delawares eight days, in their towns, and guarded safe to this place. He also brought a speech from the Delawares, from which we have great reason to believe they are not inclined for war. We also believe that they will endeavour to preserve the lives of the traders that are now amongst the Shawanese. He also brought from the Shawanese Chief (called the Hardman) an answer to a speech sent to them by Mr˙ Croghan upon this occasion, in which he signifies that the Shawanese are all warriors, and will not listen to us until they have satisfaction of us for what inujuries they have received from the Virginians, &c.

White Eyes infoMr˙ us that a Mingo man called Logan, (whose family had been murdered in the number,) had raised a party to cut down the Shawanese Town traders at the Canoe Bottom, on Hockhocking Creek, where they were pressing their peltry; but we have heard since that the Shawanese have taken them under their care until matters are further settleed, but God knows what fate they have met with; we hope they are still alive, and if it be so they have a chance to come in, if the outrageous behaviour of the Virginians do not prevent them. The sixth of this month we had an account from Muddy Creek, (empties into the river Monongahela, near Cheat River,) that the Indians had killed and scalped one white man, his wife, and three children, and that three more of the same man' s children were missing, and has since been confirmed. We suppose this to be Logan' s party, and that they will do more mischief before they return. About the 20th of May, one Campbell, lately from Lancaster, was killed and scalped near Newcomer' s Town, and one Proctor, at Wheeling, by a party of Shawanese and Mingoes.

The Virginians in this part of the country seem determined to make war with the Indians at any rate. The one half of this country is ruined to all intents and purposes, which, a few months ago, was in a flourishing way. Conolly has embodied upwards of one hundred men, and will have this fort in good order in a short time. He is gathering in all the provisions he can possibly get from the country, which, he says, will be paid for by the Government of Virginia. The militia here, by Conolly' s orders, shoot down the cattle, sheep and hogs, belonging to the inhabitants, as they please; they also press horses, and take by force any part of our property they think proper, and tell us that they have authority so to do; therefore you may judge of our situation at present. Before I returned from Virginia, about the 5th day of May, Mr˙ Conolly sent an armed guard of men to my house, who attempted to take away a quantity of blankets and bags by force. Mr˙ William Butler, who lived at my house at that time, had a great dispute in defence of my property, and put them out with great difficutly, on which they complained to Conolly, who immediately despatched a party of twelve men to the house in order to put their villainous scheme in execution, on which my wife locked her doors. Conolly came at the same time, and began to abuse Mr˙ Butler and my wife. He also threatened to send Mr˙ Butler to Vrirginia in irons, and to take every farthing' s worth of his property from him; damned my wife, telling her the same, and that he would let her know that he commanded here, &c˙, &c.

On the 27th day of May, Mr˙ Mackay and I rode out about seven miles from town, and on our reutrn was met on the road by a man from Mrs˙ Mackay, who came to tell us that Conolly had sent a party of men to pull down Mr˙ Mackay' s house. When we came home we found a guard of six armed men pulling down two outhouses in Mr˙ Mackay' s back yard. He ordered them to desist, saying that he would defend his property at the risk of his life; upon which the men agreed to wait until we would talk to Mr˙ Conolly about the matter. We walked toward the fort with that intention, but was met by one Aston, (a Captain of Conolly' s,) at the head of about thirty armed men, followed by Conolly. Aston approached, and in a blasphemous manner accosted Mr˙ Mackay, ordering the Virginia Sheriff to seize him; upon which the Sheriff, Aston, and several others, seized him in a valiant manner; Aston, presenting a rifle at Mr˙ Mackay, threatened to shoot him down, which some of the bystanders prevented. Conolly came up at the same time in a great rage, telling Mr˙ Mackay that he would send him to Virginia in irons. We endeavoured to expostulate with him, but all to no purpose, but told him that he would tear down his dwelling


house if he thought proper. He also accused Mr˙ Mackay with being refratory on many occasions, and a fomenter of sedition, &c˙, in opposition to the Colony of Virginia, and that he had encouraged his servants to abuse one of his men, who was then present, calling the man to prove what he asserted, but the man cleared Mr˙ Mackay and his servant, saying that it was a man of Mr˙ Spear' s who had struck him. Conolly being there confuted before upwards of sixty persons, said it was all one, as it was one of the Magistrates' servants.

Aston attempted to run the muzzle of his gun at Mr˙ Mackay' s face, but was prevented; in the mean time Conolly suffered a forsworn rascal (one Reily) to shake a stick at Mr˙ Mackay, and abuse him in an outrageous manner, without bringing him to an account for so doing. In this manner Conolly enforces all his laws.

The 7th of this inst˙, one Christy returned to this place from Williambsurg, and brought Conolly a packet from my Lord Dunmore; he also brought some late newspapers, in which we had an account of the House of Burgesses being dissolved by Lord Dunmore. It happened that Mr˙ Mackay told this news to a neighbour man, and that same evening Conolly came to his house, accompanied by one of his officers, and began to abuse him in a most blasphemous and outrageous manner, accusing him of being the cause of a meeting amongst his men, and alleged that he had asserted there was no provision made by the House of Burgesses for the payment of the men under his command. Conolloy continued to threaten Mr˙ Mackay with confinenment. He read a paragraph of a letter to us, in which Lord Dunmore acquaints him of the Commissioners of Philadelphia being at Williamsburg, and the proposals they made in regard of a temporary line were so extravagant that nothing could be done in it, but that he, Conolly, might settle a line at present with the Magistrates of this country, allowing it to be twelve, or at least ten miles east of this place. We told him that no Magistrate in this county could pretend to any thing of the kind without instructions from the Government of Pennsylvania. At this time the Magistrates had raised a number of men in behalf of the Govnerment for the protection of the frontiers, and to prevent the coutnry from being entirely depopulated. About thirty of them were stationed at the Bullock Pens, seven miles east of this town. Conolly told us that he was determined to go, or send out the next day, with a party, to dispossess our men of that post, and if they did not behave themselves he would not suffer one Pennsylvanian to live on this side of the Laurel Hill.

June 12. Mr˙ Conolly purposes to march from this place to-morrow with two hundred men to build a stockade fort at Wheeling Creek, and another near Hockhocking Creek; and says he will send parties, at the same time, against the Shawanese Towns; and I am of opinion that they will make no distinction betwixt Shawanese and Delawares, as they are determined to have a general war. Mr˙ Croghan has set off this morning to Williamsburg, as he says, to represent the state of this country to Lord Dunmore and Council, as also to acquaint them of Mr˙ Conolly' s rash conduct at this place, which he seems to disapprove of. We are this day informed, that the three children before mentioned, that were missing near Muddy Creek were found dead, and scalped, and two other men, in sight of a fort that is lately built on Dunkard Creek, up the river Monongahela, all supposed to be done by Logan' s party. The inhabitants of the town are builsy employed in stockading it round about, yet have no reason to expect any thing better than ruin and destruction.

Mr˙ Mackay wrote to Governour Penn from Staunton, the 5th of May, informing him of our enlargement. I also wrote to you, and Doctor Smith, at the same time, but these letters were since returned to us here by Colonel Wilson, as also the Governour' s letter, which we have answered. I would be glad to hear the candid opinoin of the Governour and Council concerning those extraordinary disturbances.

I am, sir, your most obliged humble servant,

P˙S. Please to present without delay the Governour' s letter, which you have enclosed.

June 13. We have this morning received certain


accounts from Ten Mile Creek (which empties into the Monongahela ten miles above Red Stone Fort,) that on the 11th inst˙ Francis McClure was killed, and one Samuel Kincade badly wounded. These men were heading a party of men in pursuit of Logan, McClure as Captain, and Kincade as Lieutenant; and owing to their bad conduct they advanced some considerable distance ahead of their men, and were discovered by Logan. When the party came up they found their Captain killed and Lieutenant wounded. Part of them staid to take care of the wounded man, and the rest pursued the Indians. It is said that one of Logan' s men was wounded.


The inhabitants of this country are about petitioning Governour Penn by this opportunity.