Chapter VI
The Squaw Campaign


It was apparent to General Washington and other patriots that the Indian uprising which the agents of Great Britain were organizing on the frontiers was a part of the general campaign for the subjugation of the rebellious colonies. It seemed proper, under these circumstances, that the Continental Congress should take charge of the western defense, and it offered to take Fort Pitt under its care and provide a garrison at the continental expense. The offer was accepted by Virginia, and Captain Neville was directed to transfer the fort to the United States officer appointed to its command.

For this important place General Washington selected Brigadier General Edward Hand, whose brave and efficient work in the continental army led the commander to believe that he would do well in an independent command and would be an able defender of the border. Fighting British and Hessians on the seaboard and Indians in the western woods are two quite different things, as General Hand discovered in a short time.

Edward Hand was not a stranger at Fort Pitt, but during his earlier service there he had no experience in Indian warfare. He was a native of the County of Kings, Ireland, and was educated to be a physician. At the age of 23 he obtained the place of assistant surgeon in the Eighteenth Regiment of Foot, known as the Royal Irish, and in the spring of 1767 he accompanied the regiment to America.

He was stationed for a time in the Illinois country and afterward at Fort Pitt. In 1774 he resigned his commission and took up the practice of medicine at Lancaster, Pa. Soon after Lexington and Concord he interested himself in the raising of troops and was commissioned lieutenant colonel of Thompson's celebrated battalion of Pennsylvania riflemen, afterward the First Regiment of the Pennsylvania line. In March, 1776, Hand succeeded as colonel and under his command the regiment did gallant work in the battles of Long Island, Trenton and Princeton. On April 1, 1777, Hand was rewarded for his really exceptional services by promotion to the rank of brigadier general, and soon thereafter General Washington further displayed his appreciation and confidence by assigning General Hand, then 33 years old, to the Pittsburg post, to defend the western border.

It was on Sunday, June 1, 1777, that General Hand arrived at Fort Pitt and took over the property from Captain Neville. He led no force across the mountains. He was accompanied only by a few officers. His garrison consisted of but two companies of the Thirteenth Virginia, raised in and near Pittsburg and rather hard to manage. The larger part of this regiment was with Washington in New Jersey. Hand carried authority to call upon the militia officers of the frontier counties of Pennsylvania and Virginia for assistance in whatever undertaking he might plan, but he found this assistance very unreliable.

In the East, Hand had been engaged in a system of warfare where it was never difficult to find the enemy, in large bodies, ready to stand up and fight. There the Americans did most of the dodging. On the frontier the conditions were reversed. The enemy could not be found and yet seemed to be ever present. In small bands, often containing only three or four warriors, the savages entered the settlements at isolated places, struck quick but terrible blows, and then by night fled away into the forest. Where they had been was shown by dead bodies and ashes, but they left no trail that white men could discover. What could either regular troops or militia do with such a foe? To General Hand the conditions were perplexing.

Many murders had been committed before Hand's arrival, but they became more numerous in the mid-summer and autumn.(1) Colonel Hamilton, at Detroit, began, about June 1, to equip and send out war parties to attack the settlements of Kentucky, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Toward the end of July he reported to his superior at Quebec that he had sent out 15 parties, consisting of 3o white men and 289 Indians, an average of only 21 in each band.(2) These Indians were chiefly Wyandots and Miamis from Northwestern Ohio and Shawnees from Southern Ohio. At the same time parties of Senecas invaded the Pennsylvania settlements from Western New York. Beside the bodies of many of the victims of these raids were found the proclamations by Hamilton, offering protection and reward to all settlers who would make their way to any of the British posts and join the cause of the King.

General Hand had not studied the situation long when he made up his mind that there was but one way to fight the Indians; that was to invade their country and destroy their towns and provisions. The Ohio tribes were not nomadic. They had permanent villages of rude huts and grew great crops of corn, beans and pumpkins. These products were stored in large cabins or in earth silos. The hardest blow to the savages was to burn their cornfields or to destroy their garnered stores. Left without food for the winter, they were driven to the chase for subsistence, and found no time for the warpath.

Hand decided to gather a large force of militiamen, to descend the Ohio river as far as the mouth of the Big Kanawha and to march thence overland against the Shawnee towns on the Scioto. Letters were sent to the militia commanders of Westmoreland and Bedford counties, in Pennsylvania, and of all the frontier counties of Virginia, from the Monongahela to the Kanawha, asking them to muster their men for the expedition. Hand appealed to the revolutionary governments of both states, and they directed their officers to respond to the calls. The project was even formally endorsed by the Continental Congress. In spite of all these efforts, the expedition was a failure.

Hand expected soo men from Westmoreland and Bedford, who were to assemble at Pittsburg, and i,5oo from Western Virginia, who were to gather at two points, Fort Henry, at Wheeling, and Fort Randolph, at the mouth of the Big Kanawha(3) His expectations were unreasonable. He did not take into account the drained and distressed condition of the border. The hardiest and most adventurous young men of this region had gone away to the Fast to fight the British. Most of those who remained in the scattered settlements felt that they were needed at home, to protect their own families, exposed daily to the raids of savage warriors. The Indians were penetrating to the Ligonier Valley, and even occasional outrages were perpetrated as far east as Bedford.

It seems that no men were furnished by Bedford county, and Colonel Lochry(4), of Westmoreland, raised only ioo, who marched to Fort Pitt. On October 19, 1777, General Hand left Fort Pitt and went down the river to Wheeling. There he remained about a week, waiting in vain for the assembling of a considerable body of Virginians. Only a few poorly equipped squads appeared. Hand then gave up the project and returned in disgust to Fort Pitt. The largest body of volunteers rallied at Fort Randolph, where it waited for two or three weeks without hearing a word from Hand, and then dispersed.(5)

During October and November, while Hand was trying to form his army for the invasion of the Indian country, many raids were made in Westmoreland county. Near Palmer's Fort, in the lower end of the Ligonier Valley, It men were killed and scalped, and a few days later four children were killed within sight of the fort. Three men were killed and a woman was captured within a few miles of Ligonier. A band of Indians, led by a Canadian, made a fierce attack on Fort Wallace, a stockade about a mile south of Blairsville, but the white leader was killed and the assailants were repulsed. The marauders were pursued by a party of rangers, led by the celebrated Captain James Smith, who overtook the savages near Kittanning, killed five of them and triumphantly returned to the settlements with the five Indian scalps. The snow put an end to the inroads, as the Indians would not expose themselves to the certainty of being trailed in the snow.(6)

About Christmas General Hand learned that a British expedition, by lake from Detroit, had built a magazine at the mouth of the Cuyahoga river (within the present confines of Cleveland) and had stored there arms, ammunition, clothing and provisions, to be used by the Indians on the opening of spring. He saw another chance to do something for the frontier, and prepared to lead an expedition for the destruction of this magazine. He sent out calls for "brave, active lads" to assemble at Fort Pitt. He required that each man be mounted and provided with food for a short campaign. He promised to furnish ammunition and a few arms. As an incentive for enlistment, the General announced that all the plunder would be sold, and the cash proceeds divided among the members of the force. It was not until February I g that about Soo horsemen were at Pittsburg ready for the adventure. A considerable body of them was from the Youghiogheny, under command of Colonel William Crawford. This was a formidable force and General Hand was sanguine that at last he should accomplish something.(7)

The expedition followed the old Indian trail which descended the Ohio to the Beaver and then ascended that stream. and the Mahoning toward the Cuyahoga. Snow covered the ground when Hand started, but rain soon began to fall, and continued for several days, making travel exceedingly difficult.

By the time the Mahoning was reached that stream had become excessively swollen and the crossing of its tributaries became more and more difficult. In some places the level valleys were covered with water for wide stretches The horsemen began to grumble, and Hand was just about to give up the expedition when the foot prints of Indians were discovered on some high ground. The tracks were followed until the Americans discovered a small village of huts in a grove. This was a village of the Wolf clan of the Delawares. A sudden attack was made, but the place contained only one old man, some squaws and children. The warriors were away on a hunt. The startled savages scattered in every direction through the woods, and all escaped except three. The old man and one of the women were shot down and another woman was captured. Some of the borderers tried to kill her, but she was saved by Hand and his officers.

This affair took place about where Edenburg is, in Lawrence county. The Indian woman told her captors that ten Wolf or Muncy Indians were making salt at a lick ten miles farther up the Mahoning. Hand sent a strong detachment to take these savages, while he went into camp, under most uncomfortable circumstances, at the Indian village.

The reported Wolves turned out to be four squaws and a boy. The borderers fell upon them as fiercely as if they were Indian warriors, and killed three of the squaws and the boy. The other squaw was taken prisoner. Some defense must have been made here by the Indians, as one of Hand's men was wounded. Another man was drowned during the expedition.

It was no longer possible, on account of the weather, to continue the campaign, and General Hand led his dispirited and hungry men back to Fort Pitt. His trophies were two Indian women. His formidable force had slain one old man, four women and a boy. On his arrival at Fort Pitt his work was generally derided by the frontiersmen and his expedition was dubbed the Squaw Campaign.(8)

This finished Hand as the defender of the frontier. He at once wrote to General Washington a request to be relieved of his command, his request was laid before Congress, and that body, on May 2, 1778, voted his recall.(9) He could not fight Indians, but he attained distinction in other directions. He became adjutant general of the army of the United States before the close of the Revolution, was a member of Congress from Pennsylvania, and in 1798, when war was expected with France, he was made a major general in the Provisional Army. He died at Lancaster September 3, 1802.

1 Washington-Crawford Letters, Crawford to President of Congress, April 22, 1777; Pennsylvania Archives, First Series, viii., pp. 549, 550.

2 The Westward Movement, Winsor, Boston, 1897, pp. 111, 127.

3 Ft. Pitt and Letters from the Frontier, Darlington, Pittsburg, 1892, pp. 226, 227. Chronicles of Border Warfare, Withers, pp. 151, 152. Notes and Queries, Third Series, vol. it., Letter of Jasper Ewing to Jasper Yeates. Frontier Forts, vol. ]t., p. 326.

4 The system of county lieutenants, modeled after Virginia, was established In Pennsylvania In March, 1777, under the new state constitution. The county lieutenant was the commander of the county militia and held the rank of colonel. The Supreme Executive Council appointed Archibald Lochry county lieutenant of Westmoreland on March 21, 1777.

5 Ft. Pitt, p. 228; Washington-Irvine Correspondence, Butterfield, Madison, Wis., 1882, p. 11. Pennsylvania Archives, First Series, vol. vi., p. 08. Frontier Forts, vol. ii., p. 244.

6 Pennsylvania Archives, First Series, vol. v., p. 741; vol. vi., p. 68. Frontier Forts, vol. Ii., p. 236, etc.

7 Washington-Crawford Letters, pp. 66, 67.

8 WashingtonoIrvine Correspondence, p. 15. The Girtys, Butterfield. Cincinnati,/ 1890, p. 47.

9 Pennsylvania Archives, First Series, vol. vi., p. 481.

SOURCE:  Page(s) 37-44: Old Westmoreland, A History of Western Pennsylvania During the Revolution by Edgar W. Hassler, J.R. Weldon & Co, Pittsburgh, 1900

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