The Dunmore War & Battle of Point Pleasant
Did your ancestors around Virginia fight in the Dunmore War and the Revolution? We learn that the pioneers of Highland were zealous supporters of the American cause.
Dunmore's War (or Lord Dunmore's War) was a war in 1774 between the Colony of Virginia and the Shawnee and Mingo American Indian nations. Lord Dunmore, the Governor of Virginia, asked the House of Burgesses to declare a state of war with the hostile Indian nations and order up an elite volunteer militia force for the campaign.
There were 11 companies in the Augusta Regiment, under Colonel Charles Lewis; 8 companies in the Botetourt Regiment, under Colonel William Fleming; and 7 companies in the Fincastle Battalion, under Colonel William Christian. In addition, there was one company of Minute Men from Culpeper county, under Colonel John Field, (acting Captain); a company of Volunteers from Dunmore (now Shenandoah) county, commanded by Captain Thomas Slaughter; a company of Riflemen from Bedford county, at the head of which was Captain Thomas Buford; and a company of Kentucky Pioneers, led on by Captain James Harrod. The war ended soon after Virginia's victory in the Battle of Point Pleasant on October 10, 1774.
Battle of Point Pleasant
From 1764 until 1774 there was once more nominal peace with the Indians. BUT . . . the persistent pressure of the whites led to some mutual outrages, and war broke out in the summer of 1774. Governor Dunmore led a force down the Ohio from Wheeling, while General Andrew Lewis with the militia of the Valley reenforced by a few troops from Bedford and Culpeper, marched down the Great Kanawha, reaching Point Pleasant early in October.
In Lewis' army (1,100 strong) there were four companies from the present counties of Bath, Highland and Pendleton. The captains commanding them were John Dickenson of Bath, Andrew Lockridge and Samuel Wilson of Highland, and John Skidmore of Pendleton. In the companies there were 22, 26, 27 and 32 men respectively. Considering the population at that time, this region was well represented in the expedition.
With the Virginia forces divided, the Indians attempted to surprise and overwhelm Lewis, intending then to dispose of the governor and his army. Had they succeeded, the effect on the border settlement would have been like another of Braddock's defeat. The influence on the Revolution, which broke out the following year, would have been serious indeed. The Battle of Point Pleasant was well contested on both sides. The fighting was almost hand to hand, the lines being seldom more than 20 yards apart, and sometimes no more than six.
The Virginians lost 75 men killed and 140 wounded, the more slightly injured not apparently being included. The numbers and losses of the Indians are unknown, but were probably somewhat smaller. At the close of the day the result was thought by some of the whites as no better than a drawn battle. Yet the Indians were disheartened, and agreed to a peace which lasted until they were stirred up by the British in 1778. The army of Lewis returned in November.
From Col. William Fleming's Orderly book dated Monday, October 10th, 1774, it is written, "This morning before sunrise two men came running into camp and gave information that a considerable body of indians were incept about 2 miles up the Ohio a small distance from it, who made a very formidable appearance. This important intelligence was quickly confirmed by two or three more. The drums by order immediately beat to arms and 150 men were ordered to be paraded out of each line and march against the enemy in two columns. The right column headed by Col. Chas. Lewis with Captains Dickinson, Harrison, and Skidmore. . . . ."
You can read more of the "Dunmore War & Revolution," in The History of Highland County, Virginia by Oren F. Morton below. Those killed of the Augusta Line in the action on 10 October 1774 were Col. Chas. Lewis, Capt. Samuel Willson and Lieuts. Hugh Allen and 18 Privates, 2 Capts., 2 Lieuts. and 51 Private wounded.
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Comments: Four of my ancestors were in the Pittsylvania Militia Company under the command of Capt. Joseph Martin (Later Gen. Joseph Martin agent to the Cherokees for the United States and Virginia during the Revolution). They were John Barker and three of his sons John, Joel, and Charles. The Company was not at the Battle of Point Pleasant, but were on a scouting mission to the south making sure no Cherokee Indian reinforcements joined the Battle. ~Bill Barker 2011-04-19 09:02:56
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