Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bouquet & Amherst, re: the "Blanketts"

Postscripts from letters between British Colonel Henry Bouquet and General Jeffrey Amherst:

Bouquet to Amherst, dated 13 July 1763:

    P.S. I will try to inocculate the the Indians by means of Blankets that may fall in their hands, taking care however not to get the disease myself. As it is pity to oppose good men against them, I wish we could make use of the Spaniard's Method, and hunt them with english dogs, supported by Rangers, and some Light Horse, who would I think effectively extirpate or remove that Vermine.

Amherst's response to Bouquet, dated 16 July 1763:
    P.S. You will do well to try to Innoculate the Indians by means of Blanketts, as well as to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race. I should be very glad your Scheme for Hunting them Down by Dogs could take Effect effect, but England is at too great a Distance to think of that at present.

Bouquet to Amherst, dated 26 July 1763:
    Sir, I received yesterday your Excellency's letters of 16th with their Inclosures. The signal for Indian Messengers, and all your directions will be observed.

Fort Pitt & Biological Warfare

"A Plan of the New Fort at Pitts-Burgh"
(click image to enlarge)
In May and June of 1763, a loose confederation of tribes inspired by the Ottawa war leader Pontiac launched attacks on British-held posts throughout the Great Lakes and Midwest. On May 29, 1763, they began a siege of Fort Pitt, located in western Pennsylvania at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. The officer in charge at Fort Pitt was Swiss-born captain Simeon Ecuyer. On June 16, 1763, Captain Ecuyer reported to Colonel Henry Bouquet at Philadelphia that the frontier outpost's situation had taken a turn for the worse. Local Indians had escalated the hostilities, burning nearby houses and attempting to lure Ecuyer into an engagement beyond the walls of the well-protected post, where traders and colonists had taken refuge. "We are so crowded in the fort that I fear disease," wrote Ecuyer, "for in spite of all my care I cannot keep the place as clean as I should like; moreover, the small pox is among us. For this reason I have had a hospital built under the bridge beyond musket-fire." Henry Bouquet, in a letter dated June 23, passed the news on to Jeffery Amherst, the British commander-in-chief, at New York. "Fort Pitt is in good State of Defence against all attempts from Savages," Bouquet reported, but "Unluckily the small Pox has broken out in the Garrison." By June 16, then, smallpox had already established itself inside Fort Pitt.
General Amherst subsequently suggested using smallpox as a weapon for ending the siege of Fort Pitt. In a series of letters exchanged with Bouquet, the two men discussed the possibility of infecting the attacking tribes with smallpox through gifts of blankets exposed to the disease. Reportedly, unknown to Amherst and Bouquet, Ecuyer had already attempted this very tactic. Although Amherst's name is usually connected with this incident, because he was overall commander and because of his correspondence with Bouquet, evidence appears to indicate that the attempt was made without Amherst's prior knowledge. The success or failure of Ecuyer's attempt is unknown.

(Source: Journal of American History, "Biological Warfare in Eighteenth-Century North America: Beyond Jeffery Amherst", by Elizabeth A. Fenn; also, Wikipedia)

A song of the time:

Free states, attend the song,
Now independent on
The British throne:
To earth's remotest bound
Echoing skies resound
The sweet melodious sound—
Liberty's our Own

Virginia's fields unfold,
Where our great fathers bold
Intrepid stood:
On what embattled plain
The ever glorious train
Pil'd hills of Indians slain—
Pour'd seas of blood

—sung to the tune of "God Save The King"

(Source: Dixon and Hunter's Virginia Gazette, 24 August 1776, pg. 8)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Yamasee War & The Cherokee Factor

From Jackson's Way, by John Buchanan, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2001, pp. 18-19:

    The Yamasee War came close to destroying South Carolina. Four hundred settlers (6% of the population) were killed. Ninety percent of the traders were killed in the Yamasee and Creek Nations, from South Carolina’s Low Country to central Alabama. Charleston’s defensive perimeter was reduced to a radius of some thirty-five miles and that was not totally secure. In August 1715 several hundred warriors penetrated the outskirts of Charleston before being repulsed. The degree of danger can be measured by the arming of hundreds of black slaves to fight alongside white militiamen. All of the southeastern tribes had risen except two: the Chickasaws on the Mississippi, who stayed loyal and protected their traders; and the Cherokees, who were thinking over Creek overtures. The Chickasaws were too far away and too few to intervene. The Cherokees, however, were quite a different story. They were on the doorsteps of both Carolinas and they could muster 4,000 warriors. If the Cherokees joined the alliance, what could follow? The evacuation of Charleston?
    In the late fall of 1715 Colonels James Moore and George Chicken with 300 militiamen were sent up-country to the lower Cherokee towns as a show of force and to negotiate an alliance. At the same time Creek envoys were in the towns seeking their own alliance, and a large force of Creek warriors were concealed in the forests awaiting the signal for a Cherokee-Creek attack on the English force. The Cherokees took their time and negotiated with both sides. Finally, in January 1716, they made their decision. The Creek envoys were murdered by their hosts and a Cherokee-English force did the attacking and sent the waiting Creek warriors fleeing for their lives.
    The Cherokee decision saved South Carolina. Historians have given pride of place to the Indian alliances that led to the Pequot War (1636–1638) and King Philip’s War (1675–1676) in New England, and the rising of the northwestern tribes in Pontiac’s Rebellion (1763–1765). This is not unusual, given the general neglect of southern history during the colonial and revolutionary periods. But the alliance that led to the Yamasee War was the “greatest Indian alliance in colonial history with the potential to eradicate not just South Carolina but also North Carolina and Virginia.”

The Yamasee & "à petit feu"

From Jackson's Way, by John Buchanan, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2001, pg. 18:

    On 14 April [1715] Thomas Nairne, William Bray, and Samuel Warner met at the Yamasee town of Pocataligo [South Carolina] to offer the Indians redress of grievances. The traders Bray and Warner were on an official mission. They had brought warnings to Charleston and had been sent to Pocataligo to head off a rising. Nairne had learned of the planned uprising independently and had come from his plantation on Saint Helena Island. They slept that night in Pocataligo. On Good Friday morning they were awakened by war cries and seized by warriors painted red and black. William Bray and Samuel Warner were killed immediately. But for Thomas Nairne the Yamasee reserved a special treatment, as befitted an important man who had won honors in war.
    He was stripped and tied to a stake, probably with the customary thong that allowed him some freedom of movement. Splinters were stuck into his body and lighted. The Indians would have watched him closely. If he showed signs of fear, or begged for mercy, they would have laughed at him, for that was their way. A fire was built. Not a large fire. That would have ended his travail too quickly. For three days he was roasted "à petit feu" (a small fire). On the third day he died.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Yamasee War (1715-1717)

The Yamasee War was a conflict between colonial South Carolina and various Indian tribes including the Yamasee, Creek, Catawba, Apalachee, Apalachicola, Yuchi, Savannah River Shawnee, Congaree, Waxhaws, Pee Dee, Cheraw, and others. Some tribes played minor roles while others launched attacks throughout South Carolina. Hundreds of colonists were killed and many settlements were destroyed.
Causes of the war were multiple, and differed between the many Indian tribes that participated. Commitment differed as well; some groups fought for the duration, others only briefly. Some were divided; some changed sides. Contributing factors included: the trading system, trader abuses, Indian slave trade, depletion of the deer population (for deerskin trade), increasing Indian debts (coupled with increasing colonial wealth), land encroachment, the spread of rice plantation agriculture, growth of French trading power (as an alternative to British trade), established Indian links to Spanish Florida, power struggles between Indian tribes, an increasingly robust inter-tribal communication network, and recent military collaborations among previously distant tribes.
Traders "in the field" were killed throughout the American southeast. Much of South Carolina's settled territory was abandoned as people fled to Charles Town, where starvation set in as supplies ran low. The survival of South Carolina itself was in question during 1715. About 6-7% of the colony's white citizenry was killed, resulting in casualties more severe than King Philip's War, which is often cited as America's bloodiest. The tide turned in early 1716, when the Cherokee sided with South Carolina and began to attack the Creek Indians. The last of South Carolina's major foes withdrew from the conflict in 1717, bringing a fragile peace to a traumatized colony.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Rev. William Smith vs The Quakers

Reverend William Smith, D.D. (1727-1803)
portrait by Gilbert Stuart, oil on canvas
Rev. Dr. William Smith was born at Aberdeen, Scotland, to Thomas and Elizabeth (Duncan) Smith. He attended the University of Aberdeen. In 1753, Smith wrote a pamphlet outlining his thoughts about education. The book fell into the hands of Benjamin Franklin, who asked Smith to come to Philadelphia and teach at the newly established academy there (now the University of Pennsylvania). In 1755 Smith became the first provost of the school. He held the post until 1779.
Smith was an Anglican priest and, together with William Moore, was briefly jailed in 1758 for his criticism of the military policy in the Quaker-run colony. Indeed, during the French and Indian War, Smith published two anti-Quaker pamphlets that advocated the disenfranchisement of all Quakers, who were, at the time, the political elite in Pennsylvania. Pacifist beliefs made Quakers in government reluctant to provide funds for defense. Consequently, anti-Quaker sentiment ran high, especially in the backcountry which suffered frequent raids from Indians allied with the French. Smith's second pamphlet, A Brief View of the Conduct of Pennsylvania, For the Year 1755 went so far as to suggest that while one way of "ridding our Assembly of Quakers” would be to require an oath, “another way of getting rid of them" would be "by cutting their Throats.” Smith's virulent attacks on Quakers alienated him from Franklin, who was closely allied with the Pennsylvania Assembly.
(Source: Wikipedia)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

David Hood, aka "The Possum"

From History of Middle Tennessee, by Albigence Waldo Putnam, published 1859, page 154:

    In the narrative of John Rains, the account of "the said Hood," or David Hood, "the Possum," is stated thus:
    "One of the most interesting incidents connected with the early history of Tennessee, is one in which a man named David Hood figured. He was coming up from 'Freclaud's Station,' below the Sulphur Spring adjoining Nashville, when several Indians [likely Chickasaws, per John Buchanan] gave chase to him, firing upon him as he ran. He, thinking there was no other chance for his life, concluded to try 'possuming it,' and so fell flat upon his face in the weeds, as if dead. The Indians ran up and gathered around him and one of them very deliberately twisted his fingers into his hair, to scalp him. His knife being very dull, he let go, took a better hold, and sawed away, until he could pull it off, poor Hood bearing it meanwhile without a groan or show of life.
    "After the deed was done, they stood around a little while, reloaded their guns, and started on towards town, (or the Bluff Fort.) One of the Indians gave him a few stamps in the back as they started away. After a while, Hood raised his head cautiously, peeped out under his arms, and at last, finding the coast clear, got up and started towards town.
    "Mounting the ridge above the Spring, what was his dismay to find himself once more in the presence of the whole gang! Again he started, but again they fired upon him as he ran. One of their bullets cut him deeply across the breast, but finally, after getting so close as to pull off one of the skirts of his coat, the Indians abandoned him. When quite spent, he dropped behind a log in the corn-field near by, after facing around to get one fire at them, and was rescued by some whites who came out at the sound of the firing."
From Jackson's Way, by John Buchanan, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2001, pp. 65-66:
    [David Hood] probably would have died had it not been for James Robertson, who could do many things: travel thousands of miles alone through perilous wilderness, establish a settlement in hostile country, treat with or fight Indians as the occasion demanded, and a myriad of things necessary for survival on a frontier. Much of what he could do was expected of a seasoned frontiersman. But few could properly treat a scalped man, which James Robertson now proceeded to do for David Hood. He had seen scalps pegged in East Tennessee, and an anonymous French surgeon had taught him how to use a shoemaker's awl to make small holes in the "outer table of the skull, pretty close together." The blood oozing out formed a protective scab under which the terrible wound healed. David Hood's scalp would never be one for a woman to run her fingers over, and as with many scalping victims who survived he may never have been the same again in mind or body, but he lived for several years.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

George Moffett (1735-1811)

From Historic Families of Kentucky, by Thomas Marshall Green, published 1889, R. Clarke, Kentucky, pp. 15-16:

    Captain John McDowell and Magdalena Wood had three children—Samuel, James, and Sarah. The latter married George Moftett, probably a son of the Captain John Moffett, whose name appears among the Scotch-Irish emigrants who early settled in the "Manor" and in the "Grant." After the death of the father of George Moffett, the widow married John Trimble, grandfather of the distinguished Allen Trimble, Governor of Ohio. George Moffett bore a manly part in the French and Indian war, and in all the subsequent border warfare with the savage foe. His step-father, John Trimble, fell a victim in one of their murderous raids; several members of his family and many of the neighbors were captured and carried off. The large band of savage murderers were swiftly pursued by Captain George Moffett and his hardy company, overtaken at Kerr's creek, were attacked with vigor, and defeated with heavy loss; the despairing victims were released and returned to their friends. Among them was James Trimble, half brother of Captain Moffett, and father of Governor Allen Trimble.

The Kerr's Creek Massacre

From Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871, by Joseph Addison Waddell, published 1902, C.R. Caldwell, Virginia, pp. 171-172:

    The smaller band of Indians made their descent upon Kerr's creek, on the 17th of July [1763]. Their number was twenty-seven, Robert Irvin having counted them from a bluff near the road at the head of the creek. Some weeks before, two boys, named Telford, reported that when returning from school they had seen a naked man near their path. This report was not much thought of till the massacre, when it was supposed that the man seen by the boys was an Indian spy sent out to reconnoitre.
    Leaving the site of old Millborough, the savages passed over Mill mountain at a low place still called the "Indian Trail." Coming on the waters of Bratton's Run, they crossed the North mountain, where it is now crossed by the road leading from Lexington to the Rockbridge Alum Springs, and where there is a large heap of stones, supposed to have been piled up by Indians. From this point they had a full view of the peaceful valley of Kerr's creek. Hastening down the mountain, they began the work of indiscriminate slaughter. Coming first to the house of Charles Daugherty, he and his whole family were murdered. They next came to the house of Jacob Cunningham, who was from home, but his wife was killed, and his daughter, about ten years of age, scalped and left for dead. She revived, was carried off as a prisoner in the second invasion, was redeemed, and lived for forty years afterwards, but finally died from the effects of the scalping. The Indians then proceeded to the house of Thomas Gilmore, and he and his wife were killed, the other members of the family escaping at that time. The house of Robert Hamilton came next. This family consisted of ten persons, and one-half of them were slain. By this time the alarm had spread through the neighborhood, and the inhabitants were flying in every direction. For some reason the main body of the Indians went no farther. Perhaps they were sated with blood and plunder; most probably they feared to remain longer with so small a band. A single Indian pursued John McKee and his wife as they were flying from their house. By the entreaty of his wife, McKee did not wait for her, and she was overtaken and killed. He escaped. His six children had been sent to the house of a friend on Timber Ridge, on account of some uneasiness, caused probably by the report about the naked man.

Pontiac's War: Shawnees in Virginia

From A History of Rockbridge County,* Virginia, by Oren Frederic Morton, published 1920, The McClure Co., Virginia, pp. 68-69:

    What is known as the Pontiac war broke out very suddenly in June, 1763, and continued more than a year. It was a concerted effort, on the part of a confederacy of tribes, to sweep the whites out of the country beyond the Alleghenies. To a band of Shawnees was assigned the task of operating in the Rockbridge [Virginia] latitude. Their first blow completely destroyed the Greenbrier settlements, and their next attention was given to Jackson's River and the Cow pasture. Thence a party crossed Mill and North mountains to devastate the valley of Kerr's Creek.
*Note: Rockbridge County was formed in 1778 from parts of Augusta and Botetourt Counties.

George Washington, re: Braddock's Defeat

George Washington, age 23, to his mother Mary Washington, 18 Jul 1755:

    Honored Madam: As I doubt not but you have heard of our defeat, and, perhaps, had it represented in a worse light, if possible, than it deserves, I have taken this earliest opportunity to give you some account of the engagement as it happened, within ten miles of the French fort, on Wednesday the 9th instant.

    We marched to that place, without any considerable loss, having only now and then a straggler picked up by the French and scouting Indians. When we came there, we were attacked by a party of French and Indians, whose number, I am persuaded, did not exceed three hundred men; while ours consisted of about one thousand three hundred well-armed troops, chiefly regular soldiers, who were struck with such a panic that they behaved with more cowardice than it is possible to conceive. The officers behaved gallantly, in order to encourage their men, for which they suffered greatly, there being near sixty killed and wounded; a large proportion of the number we had.

    The Virginia troops showed a good deal of bravery, and were nearly all killed; for I believe, out of three companies that were there, scarcely thirty men are left alive. Captain Peyrouny, and all his officers down to a corporal, were killed. Captain Polson had nearly as hard a fate, for only one of his was left. In short, the dastardly behavior of those they call regulars exposed all others, that were inclined to do their duty, to almost certain death; and, at last, in despite of all the efforts of the officers to the contrary, they ran, as sheep pursued by dogs, and it was impossible to rally them.

    The General was wounded, of which he died three days after. Sir Peter Halket was killed in the field, where died many other brave officers. I luckily escaped without a wound, though I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me. Captains Orme and Morris, two of the aids-de-camp, were wounded early in the engagement, which rendered the duty harder upon me, as I was the only person then left to distribute the General's orders, which I was scarcely able to do, as I was not half recovered from a violent illness, that had confined me to my bed and a wagon for above ten days. I am still in a weak and feeble condition, which induces me to halt here two or three days in the hope of recovering a little strength, to enable me to proceed homewards; from whence, I fear, I shall not be able to stir till toward September; so that I shall not have the pleasure of seeing you till then, unless it be in Fairfax... I am, honored Madam, your most dutiful son.