Colonel Benjamin Cleveland Chapter
By MRS. LIVIA SIMPSON-POFFENBARGER, LL. D.
(Mrs. George Poffenbarger)
Reproduced from the Report made to the West Virginia State Board of Control for its Report of 1927.
West Virginians, Virginians and citizens of those states who owe their acquisition to the United States, through the concession of Virginia in the adoption of the constitution of the United States, are not alone in their interest in the battle of Point Pleasant, October 10, 1774.
Point Pleasant is truly a national shrine to which new hundreds, nay thousands, are annually coming. A new highway bridge now completed over the Ohio River at Point Pleasant makes another chain in the "From the Lakes to the Gulf" highway. The town is easily accessible by other improved roads, by river and rail.
It is important that Americans should know our own history and its significance in the great revolutionary struggle, in which the Battle of Point Pleasant was the first conflict waged by the American Colonists in defense of the Colonies, wherein they met in battle the allies of the English, the great federated Indian tribes, commanded by Chief Cornstalk. It was the deadliest battle ever waged by red men since the discovery of America. It was incited by Dunmore, the Tory Governor of Virginia, and his trusted lieutenants.
That the status of that battle was not generally known following its occurrence is due to the fact that that branch of the Army, in what is known as Dunmore’s War, commanded by General Andrew Lewis, was for the major part recruited en route to Camp Union, as they were on their way to the mouth of the Kanawha, (the place agreed upon for the uniting of the two wings of the Army, the other wing commanded by Dunmore in person), and thus no official roster was prepared. The Army was made up of his kinsmen, personal friends and associates, and they in turn enlisted their friends. They were the flower of the citizens west of the Allegheny Mountains.
General Lewis was convinced, if not before, then immediately following, of the treachery of Lord Dunmore. Following the battle General Lewis refused to obey his orders, and thus became the first American officer to disobey a superior British officer. Thus it was he refrained from making an official report to Dunmore, Governor of the colony, as he would have otherwise done, and, too, Dunmore was yet in the field, and, as Lewis knew, was then in the camp of the enemy. Hence the report of the battle made by General Lewis became no part of the public records of Virginia or Virginia history.
The events of the continuing revolution came so thick and so fast as to preclude the discussion or recordation of the far-reaching significance of the battle of Point Pleasant, until 1787, when came the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, wherein Virginia contributed so large and so generous and so patriotic a part by her concession of the Northwest Territory to the United States, Virginia’s property, ceded to her at Camp Charlotte later ratified at Fort Pitt, as a result of the victory at Point Pleasant.
True, the Declaration of Independence had not as yet been signed, proclaiming that the colonists were at war with the mother country, neither had it been signed nor proclaimed when the British began hostility at Lexington on April 19, 1775, but it was as much a struggle and a more barbarous attack than that of the battle of Lexington, "heard around the world," and faithfully recorded by the patriotic citizens of New England. True it is that New England had then no quick means of communication between the western frontier of Virginia and New England, who knew not then of the terrible battle of Point Pleasant and all that it portended.
Immediately following the battle of Point Pleasant there appeared no published account of the battle, save a meager account in the Virginia Gazette at Williamsburg, Virginia, a small paper of meager circulation and with but few copies preserved. Another early published record extant and yet bound and preserved was reviewed by Dr. John P. Hale, author of "Trans Allegheny Pioneers" and other valuable historical publications. Interested in the one hundredth anniversary of the battle about to be celebrated at Point Pleasant, Dr. Hale, then being on a visit to Belfast, Ireland, the Scotch-Irish stronghold whence many of the participants of the battle had come, found an account of the battle published in 1774 in the Belfast News Letters and in a later edition another unsigned report from Camp Point Pleasant. They were believed to have been sent by each of the then commanding officers of the fort at Point Pleasant, Captains Isaac Shelby and Matthew Arbuckle, and they are reproduced in Dr. Hale’s "Trans Alleghenies" (1886) on pp. 187-188-189. They are important, and doubtless correct, reports of the battle. Dr. Hale on page 202 "Trans Alleghenies" says: "It has been stated that there were not only suspicious but grave charges that Governor Dunmore acted a double part, and that he was untrue and treacherous to the interests of the colony he governed.
"As he is inseparably connected with this campaign (called the Dunmore War) and its accompanying history, and the inauguration of the Revolution, it may be well to allude to his official course, just before, during and after the campaign, that his true relations to it and to the colony may be understood; and also to show that the Revolution was really in progress: that this campaign was one of the important moves on the historical chess-board, and that the battle of Point Pleasant was, as generally claimed, the initiatory battle of the great drama.
"In the summer of 1773 Governor Dunmore made, ostensibly, a pleasure trip to Fort Pitt; here he established close relations with Dr. Connally, making him ‘Indian Agent, Land Agent, etc.’ Connally was an able, active and efficient man, who thereafter adhered to the English cause.
"It is charged that Connally at once began to foment trouble and ill feeling between the colonies of Virginia and Pennsylvania in regard to the western frontier, and also to incite the Indian tribes to resistance of white westward encroachments upon their hunting grounds and prepare the way for getting their cooperation with England against the colonies when the rupture should come.
"Dr. Connally changed the name of Fort Pitt to Fort Dunmore. He claimed lands in Pennsylvania under pretence from Lord Dunmore. He was arrested and imprisoned for a time and had the Indian tribes highly excited and united in a strong confederacy and threatening war.
"While the Continental Congress (1774) was then in session in Philadelphia and was passing resolutions which created a breach between the colonies and the mother country past healing, Governor Dunmore and General Lewis were organizing and marching their armies to the West. Instead of uniting the forces into one army and marching straight to the Indian towns and conquering or dictating a lasting peace, Lord Dunmore took the larger portion of the army by a long detour by Fort Pitt, thence down the Ohio, picking up on the way Dr. Connally and Simon Girty, whom he made useful. At Fort Pitt it is said he held conference with some of the Indian chiefs.
Instead of uniting with Lewis at the mouth of the Kanawha, which had been arranged but probably not intended, Dunmore struck off from the Ohio at the mouth of the Hockhocking and, marched for the Indian towns on the Pickaway Plains, without the support of Lewis, army, delaying long enough for the Indians to have annihilated Lewis’ division, if events had turned out as Cornstalk had planned.
"Col. Andrew Lewis, (son of General Andrew) says: 'It is known that Blue Jacket, a Shawnee chief, visited Lord Dunmore’s camp on the 9th, the day before the battle, and went straight from there to the Point.'
"When Lewis had crossed the river after the battle and was marching to join Dunmore, a messenger was dispatched to him twice in one day, ordering him to stop and retrace his steps, the messenger being the notorious Simon Girty.
"General Lewis had very naturally become very much incensed at the conduct of lord Dunmore, and took the high handed responsibility, advised and sanctioned by his officers and men, of disobeying the order of his superior in command, and of boldly marching toward the camp.
"When within about two and a half miles of Lord Dunmore’s camp, which he called Camp Charlotte after the wife of his master, George III, he came out to meet Lewis in person, bringing with him Cornstalk, White Eyes and others, and insisted on Lewis returning as he (Dunmore) was negotiating a treaty of peace with the Indians.
"Evidently it did not comport with Lord Dunmore’s plans to have General Lewis present at the treaty to help negotiations by suggestions, or to have the moral support of his army to support him. Col. Daniel Morgan, Col. Samuel McDowell, George Rodgers Clark and others of eminence insisted on accompanying Dunmore, whose treachery they suspected, that there would be terms of surrender made acceptable to Virginia.
Col. John Stuart, another participant in the Battle of Point Pleasant, wrote a memoir on the first pages of the Greenbrier County records, he being the first Clerk of that County, in which he said in part:
"The battle of Point Pleasant was in fact the beginning of the Revolutionary War, that obtained for our county the liberty and independence enjoyed by the United States, for it is well known that the Indians were influenced by the British to commence the war to terrify and confound the people, before they commenced hostilities themselves the following year at Lexington. It was thought by British politicians that to incite an Indian war would prevent a combination of the colonies for opposing parliamentary measures to tax Americans. The blood therefore spilt upon this memorable battlefield will long be remembered by the good people of Virginia and the United States with gratitude."
Hale further says in "Trans Alleghenies," p. 209:
"Lord Dunmore upon his return to Williamsburg, made report of the results of his campaign. Upon his own ex parte statement the Assembly passed a vote of thanks for his valuable services, which they very much regretted upon learning the facts, and they later changed the name of Dunmore County, upon petition of its citizens, to that of Shenandoah.
"Just after the battle of Lexington April 19, 1775, Dunmore had all the powder stored in the Colonial Magazine at Williamsburg secretly conveyed on board an armed English vessel lying off Yorktown, and threatened to lay Williamsburg in ashes at the first sign of insurrection.
"That cooperation with the Indians was the Dunmore policy of annihilating the colonists it will be seen. Following the battle of Lexington, April 19, 1775, he sent a messenger to his old friend Connally with a commission as Colonel, and instructed him to secure the cooperation of as many of the Western Militia as possible by large rewards, and to form an alliance with the Indians, collect his forces at Fort Pitt, and march through Virginia and meet him. Col. Connally was captured, imprisoned and the scheme exposed and thwarted." See p. 209 same volume.
Governor Dunmore and his fleet were driven from his stronghold at Guynnes Island in the Chesapeake Bay in 1776, and General Andrew Lewis had the pleasure of firing the first gun. There is sufficient evidence of the intention of Lord Dunmore to destroy the army of General Lewis at Point Pleasant. Had General Lewis been defeated, Virginia would have been so busy protecting the frontier she would have been unable to participate in the revolution, and without Virginia the revolution would not have been undertaken at that time.
As further evidence of the collusion of the Indians with Dunmore at the time of the battle of Point Pleasant, Campbell, one of Virginia’s outstanding early historians, says:
"It is known that Blue Jacket, a Shawnee chief, visited Dunmore’s camp on the 9th, the day before the battle and went straight from there to Point Pleasant, and that some of the Indians went to confer with Dunmore immediately after the battle; that Dunmore on the day of the battle remarked, ‘Lewis is probably having hot work about this time.’" Campbell further gives same above account of the conduct of Dunmore and his refusal to allow Lewis to participate in the treaty following the battle, and Lewis’ refusal to obey Dunmore’s orders.
Virgil A. Lewis, writing in 1883, in Hardesty’s Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia, including Mason County. W. Va., says:
"It is a well known fact that the emissaries of Great Britain were then inciting the Indians to hostilities against the frontier for the purpose of distracting attention, and thus preventing the consummation of the Union which was then being formed to resist their armed oppressor. It is well known that Lord Dunmore was an enemy of the colonists, and hence his efforts to induce the Indians to cooperate with the English and thus reduce Virginia to subjection.
"To the student of history no truth is more patent than this —that the battle of Point Pleasant was the first in the series of the Revolution, the flames of which were being kindled by the oppression of the Mother Country."
Far Reaching Results
Lewis further says: "The Great North West
territory, lying north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi, had long
been a bone of contention between France and England, and France did not
relinquish her claim until driven to recede as a result of the battle upon the
Plains of Alabama before Quebec. The treaty that followed at Paris in 1763 ceded
that territory to England. England’s failure to open this territory of Abraham
before Quebec. The treaty that followed at Paris in 1763 whereby England
maintained it to the exclusion of the colonists not only that she might with it
subsidize the Indians, but when necessary secure their services to maintain
control of the colonies."
The Virginians of the Dunmore division of
the army were enlisted for the war and had fully expected to participate in the
ensuing battle. They were loyal to Virginia and to the cause of the colonists,
and did almost to a man continue in the Revolution. They furnished largely the
men of the Clarke Expedition, conquerors of the Northwest, as truly defenders of
the colonists of the Revolution as though on the firing line against the British
Redcoats, and should be entitled to be considered in the Revolution from the
time they left Virginia for the front in September, 1774, until their return
home. Many of them did not see peace until all hostilities ended, which did not
finally occur until the battle of Fallen Timbers fully twenty years later.
The treaty made between the Indians and
the Virginians was kept inviolate for three years, enabling the Virginians not
only to enter the Northwest Territory but also to colonize Kentucky and
Bougher’s "Gleanings of Virginia," 1903,
p. 21, says: "Lord Dunmore, Governor of Virginia from 1772 to 1776, was
suspected of playing double. While efforts were being made by the General
Congress in 1774 to resist the encroachments of Great Britain against the
colonies, while the Indians were committing depredations along the western
frontiers, the indignation of the people compelled their reluctant governor to
take up arms and march against the very Indians whom he was suspected of having
incited by intrigues to hostility.
"Dunmore marched his army in two columns.
The one under Andrew Lewis he sent to the junction of the Great Kanawha with the
Ohio River, while the other he led to a point higher up on the Ohio, with the
alleged purpose of destroying certain Indian towns and then joining Lewis at
Point Pleasant. The real purpose, however, is suspected to have been the
concentrating of the entire Indian force upon Lewis and thus awakening and
The Ohio Archaeological and Historical
Quarterly of July, 1903, says:
‘The patriot army with Lewis at Point
Pleasant fought the first battle of the Revolution, Oct. 10, 1774, Lord Dunmore
having no doubt planned the attack by the Indians to discourage the Americans
from further agitation of the then pending demand for fair treatment of the
American Colonies at the hands of Great Britain."
Let us view briefly what some of the
other historians have said of the conflict. Roosevelt in the "Winning of the
West," Vol. II, Chapter II, says: "Lord Dunmore’s War, waged by Americans for
the good of America, was the opening act of the drama, whereof the closing scene
was played at Yorktown. It made possible the twofold character of the
Revolutionary War, wherein on the one hand the Americans won by conquest and
colonization new lands for their children, and on the other wrought out their
national independence of the British King."
Kercheval says: "This Indian War was but
the precursor to our revolutionary war of 1775. Dunmore, then Governor of
Virginia, was one of the most inveterate and determined enemies of the
Revolution. Occupying the station of commander-in-chief of the large and
respectable state of Virginia, he possessed means and power to do much to serve
the views of Great Britain. It was consequently no difficult matter with a
Virginia Governor to direct the incipient state of things to any point most
conclusive to the grand end he had in view, namely: breaking our national
strength in some of the best and most efficient parts. If then a War with
Indians might have a tendency to produce this result, it appears perfectly
natural and reasonable to suppose Dunmore would make use of his power and
influence to promote it."
Lewis’s History of West Virginia, p. 134,
says of the battle of Point Pleasant: "The Colonial Army returned home only to
enlist in this patriot army and almost on every battlefield of the Revolution
was represented that little band who stood face to face with the savage (sic)
allies of Great Britain."
And Lewis further says: "The Battle of
Point Pleasant stands out conspicuously between the great constructive periods
of American history. It is the greatest event of the colonial period and stands
just at its close. With it the Revolutionary period begins."
Ex-Governor and Judge George W. Atkinson,
himself an historian of high repute, said at Point Pleasant on Oct. 10, 1909, at
the National Memorial services: "Virginians have always claimed the Battle of
Point Pleasant to have been the first battle of the Revolution. On this blood
red battlefield of Point Pleasant our Virginia volunteers held the key to the
nation’s life. They will live down through the centuries while history lasts and
until men cease to honor valor."
Hon. O. E. Randall, one of Ohio’s most
eminent historians, speaking for the Sons of the American Revolution, at
Chillicothe, Ohio, on May 20-21, 1903, the one hundredth anniversary of the
founding of the State of Ohio, said the following:
"View as you choose, the Dunmore War was
the prelude, the opening occasion of the American Revolution. The dramatic
battle of that war was fought at the mouth of the Kanawha on the Virginia banks
of the Ohio, by General Lewis and fifteen hundred Virginia backwoodsmen against
Cornstalk, chief of the Shawnees and the federation of the Ohio Indian tribes
with an equal number of chosen braves. The battle fought October 10, 1774, was,
from the nature of the circumstances, the first battle of the Revolution. The
Indians were the suborned subjects, the hired Hessians of the British, for whom
and with whom they were eager to fight to defend the territory reserved by the
British for their hunting-grounds and homes."
There is not a state in the Union but
would proudly extol the great epoch of the Battle of Point Pleasant were it
theirs. All advised historians not biased by personal environment or jealous of
their own heritage are rapidly giving credit where credit is due the battle of
Point Pleasant, first battle of the American Revolution.
Students of history wishing to learn
further details of the Battle of Point Pleasant are referred to Belfast News
Letter publications frequently reproduced, Hale’s "Trans Allegheny Pioneers,"
Col. John Stuart’s Memoirs, De Hass History, Stephen T. Mitchell in "Spirit of
the Old Dominion," Virgil A. Lewis’ "History of West Virginia," West Virginia
Historical Magazine. Waddell’s "Annals of Augusta County, Virginia," Bougher’s
"Gleanings of Virginia," Roosevelt’s "Winning of the West," Randall’s "Ohio in
the Revolution," West Virginia Board of Control Report, 1922, Vol. II, Thwait’s
"Dunmore War," Poffenbarger’s "Battle of Point Pleasant, First Battle of the
Revolution," Howe’s "History of Virginia," Kercheval’s "History of the Valley."
It is to be regretted that the attention
of the educators of America have not been called to the fact that the textbooks
taught in our states are silent as to the history of this most outstanding
historic event, the Battle of Point Pleasant, and that the history properly
prepared should be made a part of the textbooks of the states that its children
and children’s children should know the story and set the example that all
historians will eventually follow when we have claimed for the nation our
priceless heritage in the battlefield and its history of Point Pleasant. The
money appropriated by the Congress of the United States and by the West Virginia
Legislature, as well as that made by private subscription, has been most
judiciously expended. This is evidenced in the securing of one of the most
beautiful and historic sites in America, dedicated October 10, 1901, as
Tu-Endie-Wei Park, given its oldest Indian name in theShawnee language,
signifying the "mingling of the waters." On these grounds at Point Pleasant was
dedicated on Saturday, October 9th, 1909, a granite shaft, 84 feet high, the
tallest battle monument west of the Alleghenies, in the presence of more than
twenty-five thousand people, and on October 10th following was held a great
Within the confines of Tu-Endie-Wei Park
repose the dead of the battle, and upon the bronze tablets of the monument are
recorded their names, as well as the names of those wounded. A statue of a
Virginia frontiersman in the dress of that pioneer adorns the monument, and
seems a sentinel guarding the bivouac of the dead.
Within the park on its original site
stands the Mansion House, the oldest house in the Kanawha Valley, first hewed
log house in western Virginia, a house of public entertainment, restored,
furnished with local Colonial furniture, much of which was originally in the
building. The house has lived within three centuries, having been built in 1797
by Walter Newman. It is open to the public.
On these grounds was built Fort Blair
following the battle, and later was built near by Fort Randolph, whose site is
The Point Pleasant battlefield and
especially Tu-Endie-Wei Park, is to West Virginia what Lexington and Bunker Hill
are to Massachusetts, what Valley Forge and Gettysburg are to Pennsylvania, what
Kings Mountains is to North Carolina, what Yorktown and Appomattox are to
Virginia, what Antietam is to Maryland, what Lookout Mountains to Tennessee and
Vicksburg is to Mississippi--it is a Nation’s Shrine. It is not only West
Virginia’s proud possession, but the Congress of the United States forever fixed
the status when on February 17, 1908, without amendment, it passed the following
"A Bill to aid in the erection of a
monument or memorial at Point Pleasant to commemorate the Battle of the
Revolution fought at that point between the Colonial troops and Indians, October
tenth, seventeen-hundred and seventy-four."
The organization of patriotic historical
societies founded on eligibility of descent from men and women participating in
the stirring events of the nation has done more to delve into the history of the
country and properly and authentically prove and present it than any other
contributing agency in America. Now happily all the patriotic historical
societies not only recognize the Battle of Point Pleasant as of the Revolution,
but also recognize the eligibility of descent for membership through all men
participating in that battle.
The Battle of Point Pleasant as one of
the Revolution was first recognized by the National Society Daughters of the
American Revolution, with headquarters at Washington, D. C. It is an historical
and patriotic society, chartered by the Congress of the United States as
official historians, and the Government publishes their annual reports and
deposits the originals as a part of the Smithsonian Institute records at
When in 1901 the Col. Charles Lewis
Chapter D. A. R. at Point Pleasant asked that they be chartered, their
application for charter and proof of descent was made up of women who largely
descended from men participating and killed in the battle of Point Pleasant, a
large percentage descending from Col. Charles Lewis, called "the beloved of the
Army." After due consideration and careful historical research made by the
Historical Research Committee and the Genealogical Committee of the National
Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, the Committee, made up of persons
thoroughly competent to investigate, and with abundant material at hand, being
personally uninterested, granted that the battle of Point Pleasant was a battle
of the American Revolution and granted the eligibility of descent from men of
that battle who were there killed and could not thereafter take part in any of
other battles. Thus was first officially fixed the status of that battle, and
thus the National D. A. R. joined in recording this important chapter in
The Battle of Point Pleasant was
recognized as the first battle of the American Revolution when the United States
Congress passed a resolution in 1908 and also affixed a seal on the monument at
Tu-Endie-Wei Park stating that the Battle of Point Pleasant was a battle of the
|There was raised upon
the floor of Congress, April 1936, the question of the observance of the
first battle of the American Revolution. Immediately the question was
propounded by Hon. Sol Bloom, a recognized patron of History, "Where was it
fought and when was it fought?"
The erection of a monument, the
dedicatory speech of Hon. Edward Everett Hale, the inscription of Emmerson’s
Concord Ode upon the Lexington Monument was cited as evidence and there came
the further challenge—"You fellows had better learn your history."
Mr. Bloom, broadcasting over the
radio says letters, telegrams and data have poured in to him from all over
We refer Mr. Bloom and the members of
both branches of Congress to the accompanying statement, together with the
brochure THE BATTLE OF POINT PLEASANT, FIRST BATTLE OF THE AMERICAN
REVOLUTION, herein, containing the consensus of leading historians; the
enactment of the Congress of the United States; of the State of West
Virginia and in lieu of a hymn, to be inscribed, there will be upon the base
of the Point Pleasant Battle monument at Point Pleasant (to which the
Congress has already contributed, "AS OF THE REVOLUTION"), a Roster of 1122
names of participants of that battle, fought October 10, 1774, official
report of which was never made by General Andrew Lewis. The Roster to be
inscribed upon a structural base, yet necessary, which we hope and believe
the Congress will gratefully supply. This we hope, to be followed by a
National Celebration and Dedication; the Masonic Grand Lodge of the United
States to dedicate the base and tablets following the precedent whereby the
Masonic Grand Lodge of West Virginia, by special dispensation dedicated the
towering eighty-four foot shaft October 9th (the 10th being Sunday), 1909,
witnessed by an assemblage of thirty thousand people. There will be room
enough and honor enough for all to share in lifting anew the banner of
patriotism to which the world will pay homage.
THE BATTLE PRECIPITATED
The Resolution of Lord North was
presented to the British House of Parliament of date May, 1774, whereby it
was proposed to further supply the American Allied Indians with arms,
ammunition and tomahawks. To this procedure, barbaric even beyond Indian
conception, the younger Pitt protested, in a speech yet so largely quoted as
one of the world's most outstanding orations, when he (Pitt) warned the
Parliament that "if the North resolution prevailed it would not only lose
the hearts of the American Colonists, but the Colonies as well."
The first incoming ship to America
brought the tidings and further aroused the indignation of the Colonies, who
had been speeding by correspondence the convening of the Continental
Congress soon to assemble in the City of Philadelphia.
The Colonists, by their original
Charter, had been granted territorial rights "from coast to coast." They had
protected the Colonies from Indian attacks; they had colonized and
established all the forms of Civil Government they might, and had
contributed the expense attendant thereto. But they were not privileged to
select their own Governors or have representation in the House of
Parliament. They were compelled to pay taxes levied by the Crown without
voice in the Parliament of England. They had been protesting against such
injustice for years.
Following Braddock’s defeat, 1755,
the Colonists carried the French and Indian Wars to a conclusion within the
Colonies, to the great advantage of Great Britain.
While England applauded the Colonies
for their most valuable contribution, she at the same time feared their
resourcefulness and courage.
Following the Braddock Massacre
England hastened to make allies among the Indian Nations. When the Battle of
Quebec was fought she had then acquired 100,000 Indian allies. By the aid of
thousands of them available she was enabled to drive the French out of
Quebec and Canada. 1759, France was then obliged to cede that territory to
England, not concluded by treaty until 1763.
In the meantime all of the North West
Territory had been ceded by England to the allied Indians of America with
the guarantee of being kept as their homes and happy hunting grounds, and
guaranteed by England to be protected and kept inviolate from occupation by
The Colonies had been officially
notified of the restrictions placed against their going upon what they
believed and knew was their own rightful territory, and the resistance to
England was fomenting speedily throughout the Colonies.
John Adams, of Massachusetts, fixed
the date of "Colonial Decision as of 1764" before the Battle of Point
Pleasant was fought and England long knew the war was inevitable.
When the news of the Parliamentary
enactment of May 1774 reached the Colonists, carried to them by the first
incoming ship from England, the Indians had already been incited to and were
making attacks upon the inhabitants below the Ohio River and the
frontiersmen were calling for relief.
Virginia learning of the NORTH
RESOLUTION, indignation and resentment thereof was unbounded. She was eager
not alone to protect her frontier, but to assert her rights to territory
held in common with Massachusetts and Connecticut. She hastened to take up
arms to assert her own rights although not herself making a general
declaration of war.
It was Virginia that defended it and
it was to Virginia the North West Territory was ceded by the Indians, they
yielding their bravest warriors as hostages for the maintenance of inviolate
peace for three years. Thus enabling Virginia (instead of having to protect
her frontier) to go into the Revolution.
The Continental Congress had already
been convened a month (September 1774), when the Battle of Point Pleasant
was fought October 10, 1774, the First Battle of the American Revolution.
The order of the Virginia House of
Burgesses of which Col. Andrew Lewis was then a member was to assemble an
army to march in two separate divisions, one commanded by Governor Dunmore
in person, the other by Col. Andrew Lewis, who was in command, to assemble
an army, both wings to meet at the mouth of the Kanawha river and from
thence to pursue the Indians into their own country, north of the Ohio
river, and there subdue them.
This plan, however, as the world now
knows, was thwarted as to the place of conflict, when the traitorous Dunmore
failed to join Lewis at the mouth of the Kanawha river and they to march
together into the "enemy’s country."
The treaty between the Indians that
ceded to Virginia the North West Territory was in effect until the surrender
of Yorktown. Virginia made a gift of that entire Territory to the United
States, 1784, ultimately making possible thereby the adoption of the
Constitution, 1787, and the establishment of the United States of America.
The territorial acquisitions
following upon the heels of all the chain of events focusing, as they did,
both before and after the Battle of the American Revolution at Point
Pleasant (October 10. 1774) would establish a right of inheritance to land
title in any courts of justice of the nation. You will find that the title
of Virginia to the North West Territory is legally established by the
decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Handly vs.
Anthony, reported in 5 Wheaton 376, in its unanimous opinion being given by
Chief Justice Marshall.
Then why should it be questioned as
to its having been a Battle of the Revolution as to its right of priority;
the honor that the Congress of the United States has so rightfully
recognized (See Senate Bill No. 160, February 17, 1908).
The Bill of Congress was passed
without a dissenting voice or discussion.
Following the surrender of Cornwallis
at Yorktown, by the treaty at Paris, England ceded to Virginia, not to the
Colonists, mark you, all of the North West Territory, that she had
previously ceded to the Indians and they to Virginia.
The ceding of the North West
Territory by Virginia made possible the organization of the United States
Government and the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. It was
without money or without price, save the blood of the men of the battle.
That acquisition was the result of the Battle of Point Pleasant and makes
that Battle the furthest reaching in results of any battle ever fought upon
the American Continent.
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