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Letter from AEneas Mackay, Pittsburgh, to Gov. Penn



Pittsburg, April 4, 1774.

SIR: Since the return of the celebrated Dr˙ Conolly from Virginialast to this place, which he did on the 28th March, our village is become the scene of anarchy and confusion. The Doctor was taken into the Sheriff' s custody here the 24th day of last January, in consequence of his extraordinary advertisement. He was but a few days in jail before he found means to prevail with the Sheriff, and obtained his leave to visit his associates at this place, where he staid a few days, and then, instead of returning to jail, according to his promise to the Sheriff, he went up to Red Stone settlement, where, with the assistance of his friends in that quarter, he assembled about twenty armed men, who guarded him from there to or near the frontiers of Virginia.


On the 30th of March a party from Chaster settlement joined the Doctor at this place. On hearing of that circumstance Sheriff Proctor, and the Justices Smith, McFarlane, and myself repaired to the Fort in order to discover the Doctor' s intentions, and if we found them any wise tumultuously disposed, to read them the Riot Act. There we found about twenty odd men, some with and some without arms, and the Doctor before them with two letters in his hands, both of which he said he had just received from Lord Dunmore, with orders to make them (the militia) acquainted with the contents, and this he immediately did by reading the papers to them. In the first of these letters his Lordship greatly applauded the Doctor' s conduct, when taken by the Sheriff, for not giving bail, and commanded him to persevere in the prosecution of the plan he begun upon, maintaining the possession of Fort Pitt and its dependencies, and to put the militia and other Virginia laws in force, concluding with a promise of being powerfully supported by his Lordship.

The other letter the Doctor declared to be a duplicate of his Lordship' s answer to Governor Penn' s letter, relating to the militia muster, when first set on foot in this place last January. Just as the Doctor had done reading these instruments, he turned on his heel, and gave us to understand he would be glad to speak to us in a bar room just at hand, when he said that although he, in obedience to Lord Dunmore' s positive orders, had assembled these men, in order to hear the aforesaid letters read, he had no intention to take any step contrary to the established rules of law at this place, until after the court, which would set in a few days, when he said he was determined to deliver himself up, and abide by the judgment of the same, and requested of us to observe the like pacific measures in the mean time. We told the Doctor we are averse to violent proceedings, unless forced to it in our own defence, but expected he, the Doctor, did not mean we should desist from exercising the duty of our station, as conservators of the peace, till that time. To this he replied, he did not.

Next morning, the 31st of March, the Sheriff served a writ on William Christy, a militia Lieutenant, on notice of which the Doctor had the Sheriff taken by a King' s warrant, and was actually in custody for some little time; and ever since that time there are parties of armed men in constant pursuit of our Deputy Sheriff and Constables, by which means it is impossible for us to do any business.

The Doctor is now in actual possession of the Fort, with a body guard of militia about him, invested, as we are told, with both civil and military power to put the Virginia law in force in these parts; and a considerable number of the inhabitants of these back parts of this county are ready to join him on any emergency. Every artifice are used to seduce the people; some by being promoted to civil or military employments, and others with the promises of grants of lands on easy terms: and the giddy headed mob are so infatuated as to suffer themselves to be carried away by these insinuating delusions; for instance of which, the two Constables appointed to serve as such in this township, (one of whom, Philip Reily by name, was sworn in at last January court,) both deserted us and joined the Doctor' s party. It is most certain the Doctor is determined to carry his point, or lose his life in the attempt; and it is equally certain he has all the encouragement and promises of support from Virginia that he can wish for, so that unless an effectual remedy be speedily applied we know not what may be the consequence, for matters are carried to a very dangerous length already, and are likely to become more so every day.

We are told the Colonel of militia of Augusta county is under orders to be in readiness to march to this place on the shortest notice. Lord Dunmore has actually enclosed twelve commissions to the Doctor to fill up for militia officers at his own discretion.

We will have another general muster at this place some time this month, and we are well assured a strong body of the militia will appear with arms at the court, with an intention no doubt, to rescue Conolly, and perhaps will attempt something else.

The Indians are greatly alarmed at seeing parties of armed men patroling through our streets daily, not knowing but there is hostility intended against them, and their


country. I remain, sir, your most humble and most obedient servant,