Search billions of records on
Allegheny County PA Archives History - 1758 - Founding of Pittsburgh

Files contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by: Ellis Michaels, <>, Jul 2009

This page was last updated: 20 Jul 2009

Reproduced here by permission from USGenWeb - Ellis Michaels



Founding of Pittsburgh

(Reprinted from the Sesqui-Centennial Number
of The Gazette Times, of Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, of Sunday,
September 27th,





     The rule of the exclusively Whig party in England was over at last.
Ever since the House of Hanover had come to the throne, this party of the
aristocracy had governed. Under King George II, it had sunk from mediocrity
to incompetency. The Duke of Newcastle, its prime minister, had been such for
thirty years, in all of which period he is said to have "learned nothing and
achieved nothing."

     For years England and France had been at war. Sometimes the issues were
obscured, but, to the observant eye, it had been apparent for some years that
the contests were really for supremacy in America and India, in both of which
countries England and France were attempting to build up empires.

     Since 1748, when the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle between England, France
and Holland, was signed, British prestige had been on the wane. By the terms
of this treaty, conquests all over the world were mutually restored. The
treaty settled nothing. To Englishmen and provincials alike, it was a galling
piece of stupidity. The causes for dissatisfaction continuing, in 1755 war
again broke out between England and France. The same political party remained
in power in England and the same policy of imbecility was being pursued. In
America, Braddock's army was annihilated by a handful of Canadian militia and
a few hundred Indians. In the Mediterranean, the French outwitted the English
Admiral Bing, and captured the Island of Minorca. In Hanover, the Duke of
Cumberland, the son of the King of England, surrendered an army of thirty
thousand men to the French. In distant India, Calcutta had fallen and the
tragedy of the Black Hole had sent a thrill of resentment through the
country; the French and the natives had almost extinguished English power.
Over a


hundred millions of treasure had been expended, yet everywhere the
administration had met with defeat, except, as stated by Bancroft, "in the
venal House of Commons." The English nation had been humbled into the dust.

     Smarting under the years of disgrace, in December, 1756, with one voice
the people called William Pitt to the helm to take the place of the Duke of
Newcastle. Pitt was of good ancestry ; his grandfather was Governor of
Madras, and afterwards sat in the House of Commons ; his wife was directly
descended from the Earl of Murray, a natural son of James V of Scotland.
Pitt's mother was the sister of an Irish peer, the Earl of Grandison. Pitt
had been in the House of Commons since 1735, when he entered it as a young
man of twenty-seven. He soon became the most powerful speaker in the House,
in the days when there was no strict party organization, when votes were
gained by a great speech, when men spoke to their hearers and not to the
wider public outside. He feared neither king or nobles. His speeches against
the Hanoverian policy of the king so offended the monarch, that after ten
years of service in. the House, when Henry Pelham became First Lord of the
Treasury, and urged that Pitt be made Secretary of War, the king curtly
refused to make the appointment. Without special social influence, aristocrat
and commoner alike began recognizing his value to England. When Sarah,
Duchess of Marlborough, died, she bequeathed to him the sum of ten thousand
pounds because of his efforts "to prevent the ruin of his country."

When he became Paymaster-General, Pitt's first act was to discard the
customary but illegal expedient of all his predecessors in the office,
whereby they charged a commission of one-half per cent on all moneys passing
through their hands. The whole country applauded this act of honesty. He was
generally in opposition, yet his power in the House of Commons was on the
increase. The burden of his speeches was patriotism he wanted England's glory
restored to her. When all hope seemed to be lost, the nation turned to him
for help. The king, who despised Pitt, very reluctantly listened to the voice
of the people, and called him to form a cabinet.

But the old aristocracy died hard, and before Pitt was hardly in the saddle,
in April, 1757, the king's old resentment against him was revived, and he
dismissed him from office, the ostensible reason for the dismissal being
Pitt's refusal to consent to the use of English money for the support of the
Duke of Cumberland's army in Germany. As


one man, the nation rose in protest. No person could be found to form a new
cabinet, and in June, Pitt was again called by the king to form a cabinet.
The new cabinet comprised all the political powers. While Pitt's remark to
the Duke of Devonshire, "I believe I can save the country and that no one
else can," may cause a smile, yet it was perfectly true. At once the star of
England began to rise again. The Duke of Cumberland, after his disaster in
Hanover, was so angered at his reception by his father that he resigned as
captain-general and Pitt was free to handle the army as he pleased.
From the time of his first appointment, in December, Pitt had been planning
for a vigorous prosecution of the war. He had Parliament make provision for
financing the campaigns which he intended to conduct in 1758, which it did
with a lavish hand. For America, he planned three campaigns one against
Ticonderoga, another against Louisburg and a third against Fort Duquesne ;
and as commander of the last expedition, he appointed Brigadier-General John

This last, while not the most difficult of the three campaigns, was yet
directed against a post whose possession was of more material as well as
strategic importance than the possession of all the other places combined,
against which armies were to be sent. North America, as far south as the
Spanish possessions, was at this time divided between the English and the
French. The English settlements extended along the Atlantic coast from the
Bay of Fundy to the Gulf of Mexico and were almost entirely east of the
Alleghany Mountains. The country in the occupancy of the French consisted of
widely-separated colonies scattered from Cape Breton to the Great Lakes, and
all the way to New Orleans. The British numbered, perhaps, a million two
hundred thousand souls, exclusive of the Indians and negroes, and the French
less than a hundred thousand, so that when the clash came the inevitable
result could be easily foreseen.

The French claimed all the country south of the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers,
by right of discovery their greatest explorer, Robert Cavelier, better known
as LaSalle, after the family estate, having found these rivers some time
between the years 1669 and 1671. In addition to the right by discovery, the
French also asserted that they had obtained the title of the Shawanese, their
allies who occupied the land at the time of LaSalle's visit. The English
title was still more vague; the best that could be said in its favor was that
in 1744, at Lancaster, the lands had been ceded to England by the Six Nations.


The unavoidable collision finally came. The Pennsylvania and Virginia
traders who had established posts in this country saw the valuable fur trade
slipping away from them. The suave French priests and traders had far better
success in winning the allegiance of the Indians than the brusk English and
Scotch and Irish who attempted to open friendly relations with them. The
lands about the Allegheny and Ohio rivers, for purposes of settlement, were
the best in the world, and land speculators had been casting longing eyes
over their picturesque areas for years. When England made huge grants of the
lands, notably to the Ohio Company, and an effort was made for their
occupancy, the French, in the spring of 1753, took armed possession and
established a line of wooden forts. They built Presquile, where the city of
Erie now stands ; Fort LeBoef was on French Creek on the present site of
Waterford, and a third was at the junction of French Creek with the Allegheny
River, which they called Fort Venango, after the old Indian village alongside
of which it was built. At this place the city of Franklin has since sprung
up. They gave no heed to the message brought by young George Washington, who
came by direction of the Governor of Virginia, to warn them to leave the
country. Instead, in the following April, they sent Captain de Contrecceur,
at the head of a force of five hundred Canadians, to the confluence of the
Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, and drove out Ensign Ward who was already
at work on a fort. Here they built a fort of their own which they called Fort
Duquesne as a mark of respect for their governor-general, the Marquis
Duquesne de Menneville.

Both Pennsylvania and Virginia claimed this land as being within their
borders ; but Pennsylvania took no active steps for its recovery. In
Virginia, the home of the Ohio Company, however, the feeling at what was
termed "French aggression" was intense. But the armed force which was raised
there and sent against the French, and of which George Washington was the
colonel in command, was compelled to surrender at Fort Necessity ; and in the
whole Mississippi valley, no flag floated save the fleur de lis of France.
Soon potent influences were at work in England, and in January, 1755, General
Edward Braddock was sent over to win back that which had been lost. Robert
Walpole has called Braddock "desperate in fortune, brutal in his behavior,
obstinate in his sentiments, yet intrepid and capable." It was the defects in
his character which were largely responsible for the overwhelming disaster
that befel him at


the fatal ford of the Monongahela on July 9th, 1755, at the hands of Captain
de Beaujeu. Disregarding the advice of the despised provincials, he fought
this fight as he had fought at Dettingen and Fontenoy, and led his men into
an ambuscade and kept them there until his entire force was dissipated.
But the English have dogged tenacity of purpose ; they have ability ; they
have wealth; and now the most brilliant genius of centuries was conducting
their political and military affairs ; and when the memorable year of 1758
arrived, they were prepared as they never had been prepared before. The
months preceding had been months of preparation. The three expeditions
planned by Pitt for this year were all better organized and better equipped,
and had heartier provincial support, than had any expedition ever sent out by
the crown before. Louisburg fell easily before the fire of Boscawen's ships
and the intrepidity of Amherst's men. The storming of Ticonderoga failed only
through the inefficiency of Abercrombie, the commander, whom Pitt had been
obliged to accept against his better judgment. The last expedition to be set
in motion was that destined to be sent against Fort Duquesne. This time the
campaign was to be conducted, not from Virginia, where supplies were
difficult to procure, but from Pennsylvania, where everything except arms,
that an army required, could be readily obtained. Pennsylvania was displaying
unbounded military zeal. From the time of Braddock's disaster, the western
frontier of the whole country, from New England to the Carolinas, had been
defenceless. Pennsylvania suffered more than any other colony. Not only were
the French to be feared, but the Indians were everywhere attacking and
murdering settlers who had penetrated too far beyond the line of
civilization. A long thin line of smoke floated toward the heavens above the
blazing cabins.

Pennsylvania was anxious to do her share in relieving the situation. Then,
too, Pitt's genius had made it easier for her to raise an army. By his orders
the provincial officers took equal rank with the officers of the regular army
according to grade. In former campaigns, the provincial officers either had
no rank when serving with regulars, or were inferior to them in rank. Another
reason why it was easier to raise troops was, that the royal government
provided the artillery, arms, ammunition, tents, transport and food; the only
charge to the colonies was that of levying clothing and paying their own men.
In April, Forbes began organizing his army. He was


a Scotchman, forty-nine years old, and had seen much service in Europe. In
the war with France, which had ended the preceding year, he had been quarter-
master-general to the Duke of Cumberland. A well-bred man of the world, his
manners were free from affectation and he soon won the confidence of the
people of Philadelphia, where he had his headquarters. His conduct of the
campaign shows that he was far-sighted, cautious and of indomitable will.
Every assistance was rendered him by the provincial authorities. He realized,
even before he reached Philadelphia, the advantage of detaching from the
French interest the Indians on the Ohio, or at least keeping them neutral,
and made his wishes known to the provincial authorities. The Shawanese and
Delawares had become attached to the French side immediately after Braddock's
defeat. From that time on, their forays against the English settlers had
become so intolerable that an expedition had been sent against them by the
Pennsylvania authorities in September, 1756, under command of Colonel John
Armstrong, and the Indians had been terribly punished at their village of
Kittanning, and that place destroyed. This punishment still rankled in the
bosoms of the savages when Forbes was planning his campaign. Who to get to
brave the dangers of venturing among Indians, still smarting under this
defeat, was the question with Governor Denny. It required a man of unbounded
courage, of cool brain, well known and popular with the Indians.
Pennsylvania's former ambassador among them, Conrad Weiser, was old and in
failing health. No one else could be found until the Society of Friends, who,
always desirous of maintaining peace, suggested a German named Christian
Frederick Post.

Post was a Moravian missionary and had lived among the Indians, although he
had never been in the Ohio country; he spoke their language and had married
one of their women. The Moravians, like the Friends, were opposed to war and
preached peace. This zealous sect of Germans were the only Protestants who
were attempting to bring the Indians over to the Christian faith, or had any
missions among them. Post was their most successful missionary; no man stood
higher in the estimation of the savages among whom he labored. His
uprightness of character, his true Christian spirit, his sagacity, his
courage, all marked him as the man to undertake Forbes' dangerous enterprise.

In venturing into the enemy's country, this simple missionary showed the
courage of a hero. He took his life in his hands. If captured by the French,
it meant an ignominious death


as a spy ; if he succeeded, what worldly honor or glory could be the reward
of a mere man of God? Yet he went forth serenely to almost certain death,
like a Christian martyr of old.

When he had already started, the two Delaware Indians who accompanied him as
guides attempted to dissuade him from proceeding with his journey, telling
him they were afraid the western Indians would kill him or the French capture
him He replied with saint-like enthusiasm, that if he "died in the
undertaking, it would be as much for the Indians as the English." He
explained that he hoped his journey "would be the means of saving the lives
of many hundred Indians."

Everywhere he was well received; in many places, enthusiastically. When he
reached the French fort of Venango, he says, with what appears like a gleam
of humor, "I prayed the Lord to blind them, as he did the enemies of Lot and
Elisha," and adds, "The Lord heard my prayer and I passed unknown till we had
mounted our horses to go off, when two Frenchmen came to take leave of the
Indians, and were much surprised at seeing me, but said nothing." At a
village on Beaver Creek, the Indians surrounded him with drawn knives in such
a manner, he declares modestly, "that I could hardly get along; running up
against me, with breasts open, as if they wanted some pretence to kill me.
Their faces were quite distorted with rage and they went so far as to say I
should not live long; but some Indians with whom I was formerly acquainted,
coming up and saluting me in a friendly manner, their behavior to me quickly

His visit awakened an intense interest among the Indians, and they insisted
that he go with them to Fort Duquesne. He protested that his mission was to
the Indians and not to the French with whom the English were at war. His
protest was unavailing; the Indians declared they had sent a messenger to the
fort, who had returned and reported that there were eight different nations
represented there who all wanted to hear his message. They assured him that
he need not fear the French, and declared solemnly that they would "carry him
in their bosoms," which Post translates as meaning to "engage for his safety."
Reluctantly he went with them, but on arriving at the fort, remained on the
north side of the Allegheny River. His fame had gone before him, and all the
Indians in and about the fort came over to see him. His apprehension for his
personal safety had not been groundless. No sooner was


it known that he was across the river from the fort, than two French
officers came over and demanded that he be delivered up to them. But his
Indian friends told the officers that they had brought him there in order
that all the Indians might see him and hear what he had to say, and that
under no circumstances would they suffer him to be taken into the fort. Post
also learned from these Indians, that the French had offered a large reward
for his scalp and that several parties were then out for the purpose of
securing it. He says whimsically, "Accordingly, I stuck constantly as close
to the fire as if I had been chained there." The next day he delivered his

It was something unique in history, that conference by the riverside in
sight of the enemy's stronghold. Post stood in the middle of the great
throng. Across the river was the square wooden fort with the French flag
flying above one of its bastions. From the rude log huts and the ruder bark
shelters of the Indians, in the rear of the fortress, smoke was ascending
from half a hundred chimneys. On the river bank were hundreds of Canadians
picturesquely clad in fringed hunting skirts and fur caps, lounging about, or
unloading the bateaux and canoes which had brought them down the river the
afternoon before.

On the wide plain stood the black-robed, beardless missionary. A hundred
yards to the north in the shade of the huge sycamore trees was his camp; here
the horses were picketed. Surrounding him on every side was a motley crew of
some three hundred Indians, resplendent in colors, some in war paint and
feathers, and scarcely half clad, all wearing their lightest summer apparel.
In the canoes, beached on the bank, sat a number of squaws and half-grown
boys. Several French officers, in white uniforms with blue facings, their
three-cornered black hats drawn down over their brows, watched the meeting
with anxious eyes. Other officers were seated about a table which had been
brought over from the fort, taking a report of the proceedings Post says, "I
spoke with a free conscience and perceived by the looks of the French that
they were not pleased with what I said." The speech was full of homely
phrases and imagery dear to Indian ears. He pleaded with his auditors for
peace, for brotherly love and friendship with the English. The value of
wampum was not forgotten, for at every pause in his speech he held up "a
string" or "a belt," or "a belt of eleven rows" or a "belt of seven rows," or
"a large peace belt."

At the conclusion of the address, the Delawares pro-


claimed that they were for peace, the Mingoes agreed with them ; the
Shawanese promised to send the belts to all the Indians and in twelve days to
meet again. And at break of day, as the guns of the fort boomed out their
call to the early mass, Post and his party moved silently away by another
road from the one by which they had come, for fear of being pursued by the
French. The apostle of peace had won a great victory; not an Indian whom he
had reached, raised an arm against the English.

In the meantime, Forbes' army was on the march. One-half of the entire force
was from Pennsylvania, besides nearly all of the thousand wagoners and
laborers. The province raised twenty-seven hundred soldiers of its own, which
included a troop of fifty light horse. The detachment of three hundred and
sixty-five Royal Americans, although a regular force, was part of a regiment
recruited a short time before among the German settlers of Pennsylvania, in
pursuance of an Act of Parliament enacted in 1755, because the Germans "were
all zealous Protestants, and in general, strong, hardy men, and faithful
soldiers might be raised out of them, particularly proper to oppose the
French." Colonel Henry Boquet, the lieutenant-colonel of the Royal Americans,
was appointed by General Forbes as his second in command. This brilliant
officer was born in Switzerland in 1719, and was consequently thirty-nine
years old. While still a very young man, he had distinguished himself in the
service of the King of Sardinia; then he had entered the service of the
Prince of Orange in Holland. Boquet became the companion of the savants of
the University of Leyden; and becoming intimate with several distinguished
Englishmen, when the regiment of Royal Americans was organized, he, with a
number of other Swiss and German officers, was induced to come to America to
undertake the command. He was of imposing appearance, of great polish of
manners, and moved in the best circles of society in Philadelphia. Colonel
John Armstrong, who, two years before, had led the successful expedition
against the Indians at Kittanning, was in direct command of the provincials
from Pennsylvania.

In April, after the Seventy-seventh Highlanders under Lieutenant-Colonel
Archibald Montgomery arrived, Colonel Boquet set out with the regulars on his
march to Raystown, which he reached early in June. There he immediately set
to work erecting a fort, which he called Fort Bedford, after the Duke of
Bedford, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland under Pitt, where the town of Bedford now
stands. Thus far, there was a travelled road. The question which now con-


fronted the army was, how to reach Fort Duquesne from this point. From
Raystown to Fort Cumberland was thirty-four miles ; here the road which
Braddock had constructed three years before could be taken. Colonel
Washington, who commanded the troops furnished by Virginia, Maryland and
North Carolina, which were assembling at Winchester, Virginia, strongly
advocated this route. Forbes, before coming to Pennsylvania, in a letter
written from New York to Governor Denny, had also favored going this way. Now
being on the ground, he consulted with Boquet and Armstrong, and both favored
a new route through Pennsylvania. But Forbes did not decide at once ; his
sole aim, he declared, was "the good of the service," without regard to
"provincial interests, jealousies or suspicions." He directed Boquet to
advise with Washington and obtain his opinion, which was unhesitatingly given
in favor of Braddock's road.

General Forbes was a man of great comprehensiveness of mind. With Boquet and
Armstrong, he realized that at Fort Duquesne was the gateway leading to the
western country. Beyond the French fortress lay a vast empire, ripe for
English civilization. He determined to win it for all time. But to do so, a
road must be built through a country into which immigration would be tempted,
and where provisions and forage and cattle could be readily obtained. The
south was not such a country and did not furnish such a route. So he
commenced work on a new road through Pennsylvania, and on the first of
August, seventeen hundred of Boquet's men were employed in constructing it
through the forests and underbrush, across the mountains.

Early in July, Forbes marched out of Philadelphia with the remainder of the
army, but was detained for three weeks at Carlisle by illness. Sometimes the
illness would yield to treatment, when he would begin the journey again, then
a relapse would occur and he would be compelled to stop anew. His mind,
however, was always at the front, advising with and directing Boquet by
messenger and letter. On the 9th of September, with the troops and supplies,
he reached Raystown and ordered the southern troops to march from Cumberland,
where they had gone from Winchester, to join him at Raystown. His force, with
the Cherokee, Catawba and Tuscarora Indians, who came with the southern
force, now consisted of about six thousand men, not including the wagoners
and laborers. Two days before, the road had been completed through the
wilderness, a distance of forty-five miles to a point just beyond Laurel Hill
on Loyalhanna Creek, where Boquet had proceeded to construct


a fort which he called Fort Ligonier, in honor of the general of that name
whom Pitt had recently appointed captain-general to succeed the Duke of

Forbes' caution was extreme; he had learned much from Braddock's mishap and
did not mean to be caught in the same dilemma. He had ordered Forts Bedford
and Ligonier to be built as bases whence he could draw his supplies as
needed. He would not permit himself to be hurried in his movements. He had
not heard from Post, his envoy among the Indians. His supplies had been
collected, but were not yet all on wheels. Besides, there was a project on
foot for a grand peace council of the Indians living east of the mountains,
to be held at Easton, at which he expected to have a treaty signed, settling
all differences between these Indians and the provincial government, which he
hoped would also have great weight with the western Indians. For this, too,
he must wait. All this accomplished, he intended to hurry forward and with
one blow sweep the French from the Ohio Valley. But he met with an unexpected

He was on his sick-bed at Raystown when he was startled by receiving two
letters, one from Colonel Boquet, which enclosed another from Major James
Grant of the Highland regiment. On September 14th, a detachment of Boquet's
troops, under Grant, had been signally defeated. Grant had asked Boquet to
send him on a reconnoissance toward Fort Duquesne. Unfortunately, Boquet
granted the request and directed Grant to take with him three hundred
Highlanders, one hundred Royal Americans, one hundred and fifty Virginians,
one hundred Marylanders, one hundred Pennsylvanians, and a number of Indians
to serve as scouts. Boquet ordered Grant to so regulate his march that he
would be within five miles of the fort in the evening, and if not discovered,
he was to advance to the rising ground situated midway between the Allegheny
and Monongahela rivers, overlooking the fort and only a half mile distant.

Here he was to reconnoiter. After midnight he was to send forward a
detachment and attack with the bayonet any Indians that he might find outside
the fort. If he won or lost, he was to retire before daybreak, for a distance
of six miles along the way by which he had come; and if followed, he was to
form an ambuscade of all his men. If he won at the ambuscade, he was directed
to advance again and reconnoiter the fort; but if discovered, he was to think
only of retiring. The scheme was a good one. This is what happened:
Some time after two o'clock in the morning, Grant ar-


rived on the elevation described to him. by Boquet, and which, for a century
afterward, bore Grant's name. Everything was in darkness; a dense fog hung
over the landscape; the Indian fires were burnt out. Grant ordered Major
Lewis of the Virginians to go forward with two hundred Highlanders, one
hundred Royal Americans and one hundred Virginians, and attack any force that
he might find about the fort, draw their fire and then retreat to the main
body, who were to lie in ambush and surprise the enemy, should they pursue.
In a short time Major Lewis returned, reporting that in the intense darkness
it was impossible to proceed; that there were logs across the road; that it
was blocked up by fences ; that his force had made so much noise that he felt
sure they must have been discovered, but that they had seen no one and had
not been challenged.

Grant was determined to do something, so he sent Lieutenants Robinson and
MacDonald with fifty men to make an attack on a place where two or three camp-
fires had been seen by his scouts the night before. "I desired them to kill a
dozen of Indians, if possible, and I would be satisfied," he says with easy
sangfroid. This force found nothing but an empty block house, which they set
fire to and returned. At break of day, Grant sent Major Lewis with the Royal
Americans and Virginians, to reinforce Captain Bullet, whom he had left with
fifty men to guard the horses and provisions, two miles in the rear. As if an
explanation of this incomprehensible order in weakening his force by two
hundred men were necessary, Grant states in his report to General Forbes, "I
was afraid the enemy might possibly send a detachment that way to take
possession of some passes to harass us in our march or perhaps to cut us off
in case we were forced to make a retreat."

Two hundred Highlanders, one hundred Marylanders and one hundred
Pennsylvanians were retained on the elevation. In his superficial way, Grant
observes "The troops were in an advantageous post and I must own I thought we
had nothing to fear." Yet it was known that the commandant of the fort was
DeLigneris, who had been one of the two captains under DeBeaujeu when
Braddock's army was destroyed, and was a soldier of ability, who, with the
numerous Indians about him, could not help having knowledge of the approach
of the English army. With a recklessness beyond belief, Grant had the
reveille sounded, and to the music of the bagpipes and the drums, he sent
Captain MacDonald with one hundred Highlanders straight to the


fort. MacDonald had hardly gone half the distance, when out of the fort
burst nearly three hundred wildly yelling French and Indians under command of
Captain Aubray, whose Louisiana troops composed most of the force.
They fired as they advanced. MacDonald was killed almost at the first fire
and his force thrown into confusion. The companies of Monro and MacKenzie
descended from the elevation to the assistance of MacDonald's command, but
were also soon in disorder; both captains were killed and the men rushed back
pell-mell up the elevation again. More of the enemy pushed forward, keeping
the trees in front of them, from behind which they fired, and fell on the
forces on the elevation on both flanks, driving them into the woods. By this
time, seven or eight hundred Frenchmen and an unknown number of Indians were
engaged with the British, who were hard pressed and dissolving fast. Grant
says he endeavored to rally his men, and sent an officer back to Major Lewis,
directing him to make the best disposition possible of the Royal Americans
and Virginians, until he could come up, as he intended to make a stand there.
Lewis, however, did not wait until the remnant of Grant's force came flying
back, but at sound of the firing, pushed in all haste with his entire force
over the hills and hollows, through woods and open ground, in the direction
of the firing. When he reached the elevation, all breathless, he found no one
there but the enemy, who fell on him furiously. For a while he held this
ground, his men firing from behind trees ; but having lost many men, this
force, too, gave way and scattered into the woods, fleeing in the direction
taken by Grant's men. Major Lewis was taken prisoner.

Back with the supplies, Captain Bullet attempted to stem the flight with his
fifty men. But the Highlanders were panic-stricken. Grant says, "Fear had
then got the better of every other passion." After two-thirds of his men had
fallen, Bullet abandoned the provisions -the horses had been already ridden
off by some of the frightened Highlanders - and beat a retreat toward the
Allegheny river, where he found. Grant with a handful of Highlanders. The
French were soon on all sides of them, and several officers recognizing
Grant, offered him quarter, which he accepted and was made prisoner. Bullet
continued firing until a number of his men jumped into the river and
attempted to swim across to the other side, where they were fired on and most
of them drowned, when he also made his escape through a clump of trees.
The English loss was two hundred and seventy-three


men. Along the road over which the main body fled, the dead and wounded lay
scattered for several miles beyond the place where. Bullet had made his
gallant stand. Grant offered no excuse for his conduct of the affair. On the
contrary, he justified himself. In his captivity, on the day on which he was
taken prisoner, he had his own advantage in mind more than the loss of so
many of his men. He says in his report of the engagement, "I am willing to
flatter myself that my being a prisoner will be no, detriment to my
promotion, in case vacancies should happen in the army." French authorities
place the loss on their side at the incredibly low number of nine killed and

Emboldened by Grant's defeat, the French determined to take the offensive,
and attack Colonel Boquet in his camp on Loyalhanna Creek before the arrival
from. Raystown of the forces under General Forbes. Boquet was attacked on
October 12th, with great spirit, by a force estimated at twelve hundred
French and two hundred Indians under command of DeVetri. The action lasted
four hours, when the French withdrew with considerable loss. During the night
they made 'a second attack, but a few shells thrown into their camp compelled
them to retreat. In this engagement, Colonel Boquet lost sixty-seven men.
At last, General Forbes considered everything to be in readiness for his own
forward movement. Post had returned an& reported his success with the Indians
on the Ohio; and Forbes felt confident that the conference between the
eastern Indians and the provincial authorities at Easton would terminate in a
treaty of peace and amity. The road was practically finished, the weather was
cooler, and on October 24th, with the rear division of the army, he left
Raystown for Loyalhanna Creek, where they arrived on November Ht. It was a
week of torture to the suffering officer. His disease had been progressing
and he was now carried on a litter over the rough road. Though emaciated and
weak, his determined will kept his mind from his illness and on his task; in
admiration of this power, the Indians in his force called him the "Iron Head."
The weather turned cold and the mountains were white with snow; then the
snow melted and the cold rains fell, and the new road over which the army
struggled became deep with mud. The soldiers were still in their summer
attire and complained bitterly; still colder weather was to be looked for
soon. Some of the officers who had expected to be engaged only in a pleasant
summer excursion, were anxious to get back to their homes, and in consequence


every danger and difficulty in magnified form. A council of, war was held
and the impracticability of pursuing the campaign further before spring was
warmly urged by these officers. Forbes, at whose bedside the council was
being held, declined to listen to the arguments. Impatiently he waived the
officers aside and announced that the army would proceed. Right quickly the
timid ones were brought over to Forbes' side.

Three Frenchmen who had been sent to watch the movements of the English army
were taken prisoners, and from them it was learned that the militia from
Louisiana and Illinois had left Fort Duquesne; that the Ottawas, Ojibways,
Pottawattamies and Wyandots gathered there since the preceding July from the
Great Lakes, believing that the English were entirely discomfited' by Grant's
defeat, had returned to their distant homes, and that the utmost strength
that DeLigneris could now muster did not exceed five hundred men; that there
were no further provisions in the fort with which to sustain an army. Now,
too, Post arrived at the camp, on his way to the Ohio Indians from Easton,
with his report of the successful outcome of the conference, and his message
of peace from the eastern to the western Indians. Forbes gave him another
message in which he informed the Indians that he was advancing against the
French at the head of a large army, and advised them to remain neutral and go
back to their homes. Forbes' hopes of a successful issue of the campaign were
higher than ever now ; he realized that the final hour had come. He saw his
army marching in triumph into the French fortress.

Colonel Washington was sent forward in advance of the main body of the army,
to take command of a division employed in opening up the road. From an
English prisoner whom he took from some French whom he encountered, he
received information which confirmed the report which the army had already
received, of the defenceless condition of the fort. A few days later, Colonel
Armstrong, with force of a thousand men, pushed forward to assist Colonel
Washington. On November 17th, General Forbes followed with forty-three
hundred men. The tents and baggage were left behind; the soldiers were
obliged to depend solely on their blankets and knapsacks. With a light train
of artillery and friendly Indians, constantly kept out as scouts to guard
against surprise, the whole army crept on, bivouacking at night wherever
darkness overtook them.

On November 23rd they were within twelve miles of the fort, on the bank of
Turtle Creek. On the twenty-


fourth, they were still there waiting for intelligence from the Indians who
had been sent forward to reconnoiter. In the evening the Indians reported to
General Forbes that they had discovered a thick cloud of smoke arising over
the fort and extending along the Allegheny river bottom. At midnight the
sentinels guarding the bivouack were startled by the dull sound of a distant
explosion. An hour later the Indian scouts sent word that the French had
blown up their magazine and abandoned their fort, after having burnt all the
buildings and supplies. A troop of light horse, under Captain John Haslet,
was immediately sent forward to extinguish the flames, if that was still

In the morning the entire army moved forward, eagerly but cautiously. The
commander would not allow haste for fear of running into some unknown danger.
During the last three miles of the march, the army passed the scattered
bodies of those who had fallen two months before, at the defeat of Grant. The
route fell into a long open racepath, where the savages had been wont to pass
their prisoners through the ordeal of the gauntlet. On either side, a long
row of naked stakes were planted in the ground, on each of which grinned, in
decaying ghastliness, the severed head of a Highlander, while beneath was
exhibited his kilt. This was the Indians' way of displaying their contempt
for the "petticoat warriors" who had run away at the time of Grant's rout.
The early winter dusk was stealing on when the army emerged from the
leafless woods and reached the elevation where Grant had been so terribly
punished. Here a short halt was ordered. Before them, on the level plain
below, were the smoking ruins of the fort. Thirty chimneys rose naked above
the ashes of as many houses. Not a Frenchman was to be seen. After the
commands had been reformed, with flags flying, drums beating and bagpipes
playing, the army marched down the elevation to the plain and onward to the
fort. The southern Indians were in advance; after them Colonel Washington and
Colonel Armstrong, at the head of the provincials, led the way. Of the
provincials, Washington's Virginians in their hunting shirts and Indian
blankets, came first ; then followed the Pennsylvanians in green uniforms
turned up with buff. Most of the other provincials marched in the dress, now
torn and ragged, that they had worn when leaving their usual vocations ;
interspersed were frontiersmen dressed in buckskin with fringed hunting
shirts, leggings and moccasins, and wearing coonskin caps. Then came General
Forbes, now terribly wasted,


reclining on his litter, but with bright eyes and eager interest, directing
the march. Colonel Boquet rode in front of the Royal Americans, who followed
the provincials. Their three-cornered hats and dark scarlet uniforms faced
with blue, contrasted markedly with the diversely-clad provincials. The
Highlanders, in bonnets and kilts and belted plaids, in a long picturesque
line, under their colonel, Montgomery, brought up the rear. Not a spectator
was there to observe that imposing martial array but a few vagabond Indians,
who had remained to tell of the departure of the Frenchmen.

As a wild snow-storm was deepening the dusk into black night, the banner of
England was hoisted over one of the ruined bastions by Colonel Armstrong; and
the "Iron Head" christened the place anew. Bearing in mind the great
statesman who had brought about the change of flags, and had honored him by
making him the instrument for its attainment, Forbes called the collection of
ruined cabins


Authorities consulted in the preparation of the foregoing narrative:
Anecdotes of the Life of The Right Hon. William Pitt, Earl of Chatham;
London, 1792. George Bancroft's History of the United States of America;
Boston, 1879. Boquet's Expedition against the Ohio Indians in 1764;
Cincinnati, 1868. Berthold Fernow's The Ohio Valley in Colonial Days; Albany,
1890. Lucy Forney Bittinger's The Germans in Colonial Times; Philadelphia and
London, 1901. T. J. Chapman's Old Pittsburgh Days; Pittsburgh, 1900. Neville
B. Craig's The Olden Time; Pittsburgh, 1846. Mary Carson Darlington's Fort
Pitt; Pittsburgh, 1892. William M. Darlington's Christopher Gist's Journals;
Pittsburgh, 1893. Early History of Western Pennsylvania; Pittsburg and
Harrisburg, 1846. Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania; Harrisburg, 1896. John
Richard Green's History of the English People; New York. Walford Davis
Green's William Pitt, Earl of Chatham; New York and London, 1901. John Heck-
welder's A Narrative of the Mission of the United Brethren among the Delaware
and Mohegan Indians; Philadelphia, 1820. _Washington Irving's Life of George
Washington; New York, 1855. George Henry Loskiel's History of the Mission of
the United Brethren among the Indians in North America; London, 1794. John
Marshall's The Life of George Washington; London, 1804. Francis Park-man's
Monicalm and Wolfe; Boston, 1897. A. W. Patterson's  His tory of the
Backwoods; Pittsburgh, 1843. Winthrop Sargent's The History of an Expedition
against Fort The Quesne in 1755; Philadelphia, 1856. Jared Sparks' The Life
of George Washington; Boston, 1839. Joseph S. Walton's Conrad Weiser and the
Indian Policy of Colonial Pennsylvania; Philadelphia.


To contribute information to this website, please send Email to the address
listed on my "HOME PAGE" (link) below.
In your "Subject" line please indicate the nature of your contribution. Thank you!