Aldrich History Project

Chapter III

The Indians in the French War

The French and English War--Disposition of the Indians--Erection of Forts--Fort Augusta--Events Along the West Branch--Scenes at Chinckeclamousche--Summary--Close of the War.

The war between England and France began in the year 1744, and was closed by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. The Six Nations generally maintained their neutrality, though the Mohawks occasionally gave some aid to the English. During the eight years of nominal peace which succeeded that treaty, both the French and English made every attempt to extend their dominion beyond the frontier settlements, the French with the greater success. In addition to their already established posts in Niagara and Detroit, they added Presque Isle (now Erie), Venango, and finally built Fort Duquesne on the site of Pittsburgh, evidently with design of establishing a line of forts from the lakes to the Ohio, and thence down that river to the Mississippi.

Frequent detachments of troops and their Indian allies passed through along this line from Niagara to Erie, either by lake or on foot, and thence to Venango and Duquesne. Dark-gowned Jesuits hastened to and fro, everywhere receiving the respect of the red men, and using all their art to magnify the power of both Rome and France.

After two years of open hostilities in America, and several important conflicts, war was again declared between England and France in 1756, this being their last great contest for the supremacy on American soil. In this war the Mohawks were persuaded to take the field in favor of the English, but the Senecas were friendly to the French, and only restrained themselves from taking up arms against the English by their unwillingness to fight against their brethren.

On the Ohio the Shawnees, who felt an open enmity against the English, had assumed a hostile attitude.

The Delawares, smarting under the terrible rebuke administered by the Iroquois sachem in the conference at Philadelphia, and knowing the friendly feelings of the Five Nations toward the English, refused to leave the Delaware River, but located at Wyoming.

By the council held in Albany in the summer of 1754, and to which the Six Nations were invited, no substantial results were accomplished, except that the commissioners representing Pennsylvania acquired title to another large tract of land within the province. A serious dispute soon arose as to the boundaries of this tract under the written purchase. The Indians claimed that they never intended to include in their sale the West Branch of the Susquehanna, the hunting grounds of the Delawares and Shawnees; that they were not acquainted with the points of the compass, and if the line was run so as to include the West Branch they would never agree to it. The line run, as claimed by the purchasers, started from a point a mile above the mouth of Penn’s Creek, on the river, and extended northwest by west to the west boundary of the province. A line so run would cross the West Branch near the mouth of the Sinnamahoning, and instead of reaching the west boundary of the province, would touch the north boundary a short distance west of the Conewango Creek, in Warren county. The deed itself never contemplated that this territory should be included in the purchase, but was only to include the headwaters of the Juniata, far south of this. Whether or not this claim on the part of the representatives of the province was actuated by an honest intent, does not appear, but certainly it is that the white settlers along Penn’s Creek paid for the transgression with their lives in the fall of 1755. An amicable adjustment of the dispute was reached in 1758, and the lines were run in conformity with the construction placed upon the boundaries of the purchase as claimed by the Indians.

In the early part of the French and Indian war, the former were everywhere victorious. Braddock, almost at the gates of Fort Duquesne was let into an ambuscade. The general himself fell mortally wounded, and his whole army severely beaten and totally routed by a force of French and Indians greatly inferior to his own. Montcalm captured Oswego, and the French lines up the lakes and across the Ohio were stronger than ever.

In the month of October, 1755, a strong force of French and Indians left Fort Duquesne and appeared at the mouth of Bald Eagle Creek, intent on establishing a line of French possessions along the West and North Branches of the Susquehanna River, and it was this force that slaughtered the settlers of Penn’s Creek Valley in that year. To oppose this line of possessions, the Provincials erected Fort Lytleton, now in Fulton county; Fort Shirley, Fort Granville, at the mouth of Kishacoquillas Creek, one called Pomfret, on the borders of what is now Juniata and Snyder counties, and in the following year Fort Augusta was built in Shamokin by Colonel William Clapham. Although the order for the erection of Fort Augusta was made in June, 1756, the work was not completed until the fall of that year.

In July Colonel Clapham and James Burd addressed a letter to Governor Morris setting forth their grievances and complaints. An extract from his communication reads as follows: "Tis extremely Cruel, Sr, and unjust to the last degree, That men who cheerfully ventured their lives in the most dangerous and Fatiguing services of their Country, who have numerous Families dependent on their labor, and who have many of them while they were engaged in that service, suffered more from the neglect of their Farms and Crops at home than the whole Value of their pay. In short, whose Affairs are ruined by the Services done their Country should some of them receive no pay at all for those services, if this is the case I plainly perceive that all Service is at an end, and foresee that whoever has the command of this Garrison will inevitably be Obliged to Abandon his Post very shortly for want of a Suply of Provisions. Your Honr will not be surprized to hear that in a government where its Servants are so well rewarded I have but one Team of Draught Horses, which according to the Commissioners remark can but do the Business of but one Team in a day from whence you will easily Judge that the Works must proceed very slowly and the Expence in the end be proportionable.

"Permit me, Sr, in the most grateful manner to thank your Honr for the Favor conferred on me and on the Regiment under my Command which I am sensible were meant as well in Friendship to the Province as myself. I have executed the trust Reposed in me with all Possible Fidelity and to the best of my Knowledge, but my endeavours as well as those of every other Officer in the Service have met with so ungenerous a Return so contracted a Reward that we can no longer serve with any Pleasure on such terms. And if we are not for the Future to receive from your Honr our Orders, our Supplys and our Pay beg Leave unanimously to resign on the Twentieth of August next, & will abandon the Post accordingly at that time, in which Case I would recommend it to the Gentlemen Commissioners to take great care to prevent that universal Desertion of the men which will otherwise certainly ensue."

In closing, this remarkable epistle says: "Tis wth utmost concern & Reluctance that the Gentlemen of this Regiment see themselves reduced to the necessity of this Declaration and assure your Honr that nothing but such a Continued series of Discouragements could have extorted it from those who hope that they have not used any Expressions inconsistent with that high Regard they have for your Honr, and beg leave with me to Subscribe themselves," etc.

The government, being no doubt hard pressed for funds and provisions, was exceedingly slow in supplying the wants of the soldiers. Again, in August, Colonel Clapham writes Governor Morris that their necessities are still unsupplied. Further he says he has been obliged to put Lieutenant Plunkett under arrest for mutiny.

Fort Augusta was completed early in the fall of 1756, and in December following was placed under command of Major James Burd.

Major Burd reports the winter of 1756-7 as having been exceedingly cold and severe; the West Branch entirely frozen over, and the paths so filled with snow that the Indians sent on an errand to Chincklacamoose (Clearfield) in February, 1757, were compelled to return before completing their mission.

On the evening of April 7, 1757, Captain William Patterson, with a squad of ten men, was sent up the West Branch in quest of intelligence. He came as far as Chincklacamoose, having met with none of the enemy’s forces on their route. This seems to have been a tour of investigation into a new country, as Major Burd reported that the great path from Buchaloons, on Lake Erie, passed by Chincklacamoose and forked on the south side of the West Branch, forty miles east from that place, one path leading toward Cumberland county, while the other took off in the direction of Fort Augusta. They found the cabins at Chincklacamoose all burned, and saw no traces of Indians having recently inhabited the place. The party remained in this vicinity for a space of about three days, living on walnuts, as no game could be found, and they passed down the river on rafts to the fort.

On the 1st day of July, 1758, Levi Trump, then at Fort Augusta, addressed a letter to Governor Denny, from which the following extract is taken: "I received a Letter from Lieutenant-Colonel James Burd, dated 12th ulto., informing me that he had an account of a body of French that are Erecting a Fort at Shinglaclamush, and ‘tis thought they design to attack this place; and also, Colonel Burd ordered me to confine all the French Deserters that were inlisted as Soldiers, and send them down under a Guard to Lancaster Gaol, and instantly to acquaint his Excellency General Forbes of the same, which I have done. There are several soldiers here whose times have expired and have applied to me for Discharges, whom I have prevailed with to continue doing Duty, untill I know your pleasure in regard to them. Our Colours is entirely worn out, and shou’d be extreemly glad of a New one, the Staff is 70 feet.

"You mentioned in your last to me of six Lycences for Suttlars being inclos’d, which did not come to hand."

After this information was made to the authorities, two Indians named Pisqutomen and Keekyuscung were prevailed upon to undertake a journey into the country of the enemy as far as Fort Duquesne, and take an account of the motions of the French and of the disposition of the Indians. Frederick Post was desired to accompany them, which he readily consented to do.

About the same time that Levi Trump wrote to Governor Denny, Peter Bard also addressed him, in which he says: "Your Honour has doubtless hear’d of the French building a fort uppon the West branch of this river, at a place called Shinglelaclamoos, &c."

From extracts taken from the journal of Frederick Post on this perilous mission, we observe as follows:

"July 15th--This day I received orders from his Honour, the Governor, to sett out on my intended Journey, & proceeded as far as Germantown, where I found all the Indians drunk; Will’m M’Kaking returned to Philada for a horse that was promised him.

"16th--This day I waited for the said M’Kaking, ‘till most dinner time, & when he came, he could hardly stand, being very drunk, & seeing he could Proceed no farther, I left with him and the rest, & went on to Bethlehem.

"17th--I arrived at Bethlehem, & prepared for my journey.

"18th--I read over both Treatties, that held at East town, and that at Philadelphia, and made myself acquainted with the particulars of each.

"19th--With much difficulty I perswaded the Indians to leave Bethlehem, and traveled this day no farther than Hazes. Had a hard shower of Rain."

For the next ten days a greater portion of the time was employed in prevailing upon the Indians to proceed further than Fort Allen. They had become frightened by unfavorable reports from up the West Branch Valley. However, their fears were removed and the party proceeded. Again referring to the journal:

"27th--They furnished us here (Fort Augusta) with everything necessary for our Journey, and we sett out with good courage; after having rode about ten miles, were caught in a hard shower of rain.

"28th--We came to Weheeponal, where the road turns off for Wioming, and slept this night at Quenashawakee.

"29th--We crossed the Susquehanna over the Big Island, my companions were now very fearfull, and this night slept a great way from the Road, without a fire, but we could not sleep for bugs and mosquetoes.

"30th & 31st--We were glad when it was day, that we might sett out; we got upon the Mountains, heavy Rains all night, the Heavens alone were our covering, and we accepted of all that poured thence.

"August 1st--We saw three Hoops on a Bush, to one there remained long white hair; our horses left us, I suppose not being fond of the dry food they met with on the Mountain, tho with a good deal of trouble we found them again. We slept this night on the same mountain.

"2nd--We came across several places where two Poles Painted Red, were stuck in the ground, in order to tye their Prisoners; we arrived this night at Shinglimuce (Clearfield), where was the above marks; ‘tis a disagreeable and melancholy sight to see the means they make use of, according to their critical way, to punish Flesh & Blood.

"3rd--We came this day to a part of the River Tobees (Toby), over the mountains, a very bad road."

Having now passed this vicinity, the journal recites the unimportant features of the trip until the arrival at Fort Venango.

"7th--We arrived at Fort Venango, situated between two mountains in a fork of the Ohio River. I prayed the Lord to Blind them as he did the enemies of Lot and Elisha, that I might pass unknown; when we arrived, the Fort being on the other side of the River, we haled, and desired them to fetch us over, which they were afraid to do, but showed us a place where we might ford; we slept this night within half gun shot of the fort."

Having fulfilled the object of their journey, the party started to return, and on the fifteenth day of September reached the "Susquehanna, & crost 6 times, & came to Calamawesink, where had been an Old Indian town; in the Evening there Came 3 Indians, and said they saw two Indian tracts where we Slept turn Back, so we were Sure that they followed us.

"16th & 17th--We Crossed Over the big Mountain (Allegheny.)

"18th--Came to Big Island, where we had nothing to live on, we were Oblidg’d to lye to hunt.

"19th--We met with Twenty Warriors who were Returning from the Inhabitants, with five Prisoners & 1 Scalp, Six of them was Delawares, the Rest Mingoes, we Sat Down all in one Ring together, I Informed them where I had been & what was done, they asked me to go back a Little, and so I did, and Slept all night with them, and inform’d them of the Particulars; they said they did not know it, if they had, they would not have gone to war: be strong if you make a Good peace, then we will bring all the prisoners Back again; they kill’d two Deer, & gave us one."

The party arrived at Fort Augusta on the 22nd of September, as the journal reads, "very Weary and Hungry, but Greatly Rejoiced at our Return from this Tedious Journey."

Frederick Post, who has thus far taken such an active part in the affairs of the pioneers, and who acted as mediator between the provincial authorities and the Indians in this vicinity, came to this country about sixteen years prior to the time of the events narrated. His full name was Christian Frederick Post. At the time of his coming he had no other views than to preach the gospel among the heathen. He was a member of the Unitas Fratram Church, which church had two settled congregations of Indians. During the war he was intrusted by the government with negotiations to secure the assistance of the various Indian nations, and in every trust committed to his charge he fulfilled its mission promptly and well.

In July, 1758, about the time that Levi Trump and Peter Bard wrote to Governor Denny, a party of French and their Indian allies appeared upon the West Branch at the village known to the Indians as Achtschingi Clammui (now Clearfield) where they commenced the erection of a fort, intending evidently to make this a central point of operations on this branch of the Susquehanna. They fitted out a war expedition and embarked down the river on rafts to attack Fort Augusta. They found the fort much stronger in construction and garrison than they anticipated, and being without the artillery necessary for its siege, left without making an attempt against it.

To epitomize the events that occurred from time to time in the territory now embraced within the limits of the county of Clearfield or immediately adjoining it, reference is made to the several messages addressed by Governor Denny to the propietaries, concerning which he says: "In my last I mentioned that the Augusta Batalion were employed in building and carrying on the works at that Fort (Augusta), their duty and labor very severe, even under these Circumstances of the Garrison, I ordered a strong Detachment under Colonel Clapham towards the Ohio, to act offensively, and if possible destroy an Indian town; but Intelligence arriving before these orders could be carried into Execution, that a large body of French and Indians were coming to besiege the Fort, they were obliged to lay the expedition aside. This account proving false, Colonel Clapham who was employed in finishing the Fort, sent out a Captains Command to attack an Indian Town called Shinglecalamouse, situated near the head of West Branch of Susquehanna, where was supposed to be a great resort of Indians. Captain Hambright entered the Town, found the Cabins all standing, but deserted by the Indians. Agreeably to his orders he did not touch anything, nor destroy the Town, in hopes the Indians would come and settle there again. This was the only Indian Town that could be attacked; and we found by a second Expedition that they had returned, set their Town on Fire, and were retired to Venango situate where the River au Boeuf runs into the Ohio. Since the affair of Kittanning the Indians on this side of the Ohio have mostly retired with their Wives and Children under the French Forts on that River."

Still later on in this summary of the events, the governor says: "An Expressed arrived from Shamokin with an Account of the Arrival of a Number of the Six Nation Indians, from Sir William Johnson, our known and hearty Friends, who informed the Commanding officer, that a body of French and Indians was making Canoes at the head of the West Branch of Susquehannah, with an intent to come and attack the Fort."

In a communication addressed by the governor to the proprietaries, he again calls the attention to operations in this section as follows: "It will be proper to acquaint You, that the Six Nation Indians, as they passed by Shamokin in their Way to Harris’s Ferry, inform’d the Commanding Officer that a large Body of French & Indians was making Canoes at the Head of the West Branch, and intended to come and attack that Fort."

Returning to the more active scenes of the war, we find Colonel Armstrong engaged in an expedition against the Indian village at Kittanning, which he destroyed early in September, 1756, but not without a severe loss to his own force. This was the first aggressive movement against the Indian towns by the provincial forces, and was a serious blow to the savages.

On November 8th following, began the grand council with the Indians at Easton, at which Teedyuscung, chief of the Delawares, and other prominent chiefs and warriors took part. The leading topic under discussion was the purchase made of the Indians in 1754, concerning lands on the West Branch and Penn’s Creek. Teedyuscung acted as a chief orator on this occasion, and maintained his position with firmness and dignity.

In May, 1757, the conference with the Six Nations was held at Lancaster, at which the governor and other dignitaries were present.

In 1758 William Pitt entered the councils of George II as actual, though not nominal chief of the ministry, and then England entered earnestly into the contest. That year Fort Duquesne was abandoned before the steady approach of the English and provincial forces. In the North Frontenac was captured by Colonel Bradstreet. The Western army passed under command of General John Forbes, and Boquet commanded the provincials assembled at Raystown. Major Grant, with a force of provincials, came in contact with a large body of French and Indian troops on the night of September 21, and was repulsed with great loss. Fort Duquesne was abandoned and blown up by the retreating French forces on November 1st. This ended the struggle between the English and French in the Ohio Valley and in Pennsylvania. The cordon was broken, but Fort Niagara still held out for France; still the messengers ran backward and forward, to and from Presque Isle and Venango; still the Senecas strongly declared their friendship for Yonnondio and Yonnondio’s royal master.

In 1759 still heavier blows were struck. Wolf assailed Quebec, the Gibralter of the French. At the same time, Prideau, with two thousand British and provincials, and Sir William Johnson with one thousand faithful Iroquois sailed up Ontario and laid siege to Fort Niagara. Its capture was certain unless relief could be obtained. Its commander, however, was not idle. Away through the forest sped his lithe red-skinned messengers to summon the sons and allies of France. D’Aubrey, at Venango, heard the call and responded with his most zealous endeavors. Gathering all the troops from far and near, stripping bare the little French posts of the West, and mustering every red man he could persuade to follow, he set forth to relieve distressed Niagara with near a thousand Frenchmen and four hundred dusky warriors of the West. The forces of Sir William Johnson met those of D’Aubrey, and after a long and bloody fight the French were utterly routed. On the news reaching the fort the garrison at once surrendered, and the control of the Niagara, which for over a hundred years had been in the French, passed into the hands of the English. Soon Wolf gained Quebec at the cost of his own life.

In September, 1760, the governor-general of Canada surrendered Montreal, and with it Detroit, Venango, and all other posts within his jurisdiction. This surrender was ratified by the treaty of peace between England and France in February, 1763, which ceded the French power in America to the British.

After the campaign of 1760, a greater portion of the Pennsylvania forces were discharged. Small garrisons were stationed at Presque Isle, Le Boeuf, Fort Allen, and Fort Augusta.



Source: Pages 23-31, History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1887.

Transcribed April, 1999 by Connie L. Robinson for the Clearfield County Aldrich Project
Contributed for use by the Clearfield County Genealogy Project (

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