Revolutionary War Narratives and Byrnside’s Fort

I recently discovered additional Revolutionary War veteran pension applications mentioning Byrnside’s Fort. These first-hand narratives, mostly from the 1830s, are the recollections of the 18th century frontier soldiers of the Greenbrier Valley. They’re the best documentation we have on life and service on the Virginia frontier.

Combined with the ones we already knew about, they paint a good picture of the importance of Byrnside’s Fort, as well as James Byrnside himself during the Revolutionary War era.

There’s strong evidence through these narratives that our fort was in active military use from around 1774 through 1782, which for the most part is the entire timeline of Lord Dunmore’s War and the American Revolution.

Gordon Griffin Pension Application

This is one of the new ones I discovered. Mr. Griffin, by now an elderly man, half a century after-the-fact, recollects that he joined the military in 1777 and joined up at Byrnside’s Fort itself, which is pretty cool. Not only that, but he states that he joined a company commanded by “Captain James Byrnside,” and that they marched to Fort Pitt in 1777 and there joined Col. Brodhead’s command and built Fort McIntosh, on the Ohio River. Here’s the narrative portion:

Gordon Griffin states that he was a Continental soldier in the revolutionary war, in the service of the United Colonies that he enlisted in Greenbrier County Virginia, he thinks about the middle of August 1777 that he belonged to a company commanded by Capt James Burnside (Byrnside) which was attatched to the thirteenth regiment of the Line from Virginia on continental establishment Commanded by Col. Daniel Brodhead and Lieut. Col. John Gibson which regiment was attached to the command of Gen. Lachlan McIntosh. That he enlisted for Eighteen months that he served out his time and was discharged at Buckades (Bouquet’s, I believe) Old fort on the Muskingham River . . . .

Pension Application of Gordon Griffin S35982; http://revwarapps.org/s35982.pdf
Byrnside’s Fort

That he was Inlisted by Capt James Burnsides at his House, Greenbrier County Virginia for 18 months & was marched to Pittsburg Pensylvania where he was mustered into the 13th Regt. Pennsylvania (should be Virginia) Line on Continental Establishment Commanded by Col Broadhead, & in Capt Jas Burnsides Company. That he was at the Building of Fort McIntosh, on Ohio below Big Beaver Creek (this is the Beaver River at present Beaver PA, constructed in the Fall of 1778) and was discharged at that place by Col. Brodhead . . . . [23 March 1820]

This narrative by Mr. Griffin pertains to the western theater of war during the Revolution. The headquarters of the western part of the Continental Army was Fort Pitt, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Washington and his western officers wanted to attack Detroit. On the other hand, they were fearful of being attacked on our frontiers by the British and Indians out of Detroit. Further complicating matters was the fact that Virginia unilaterally sent George Rogers Clark into the western territory in order to conquer for Virginia the entire Illinois Country. Clark did so, in an epic way, and now was positioned within striking distance of the British fort at Detroit. Thus, around 1778-1779, the British were uneasy having Clark so nearby, and were therefore unsure what to do. Likewise, the Indians were somewhat divided in their loyalties, with the Delawares and Cherokee loosely hanging onto the Americans, and the Shawnee, and others, openly and actively engaging in warfare against the American settlers.

Benjamin Henry Latrobe, View from the Packet Wharf at Frenchtown Looking Down Elk Creek. Thorax from Pittsburg. This provides watercolor provides a good depiction of a round log cabin, the first housing constructed by most settlers in the Ohio Country. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The 13th Virginia Regiment, much of which was comprised of militia from the western counties, such Greenbrier, was stationed at Fort Pitt at this time. The 8th Pennsylvania, also stationed there, was commanded by Col. Daniel Brodhead. The 13th Virginia was commanded by Col. John Gibson (previously Col. William Russel). If you’ve read “That Dark and Bloody Water,” by Allen Eckert, then you’ve read extensively about Col. Gibson and the entire ordeal of what occurred in the theater of operations around Fort Pitt at this time. I highly recommend it.

The confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers at Pittsburgh, PA. The point was the site of Fort Pitt.

George Washington tried to walk a tight-rope between the positions of both Virginia and Pennsylvania with respect to Fort Pitt. Both Pennsylvania and Virginia were claiming to own Pittsburgh. Also competing for power in the region was Col. William Crawford, who commanded various militia units around Fort Pitt at this time. Washington liked Crawford, a fellow Virginian, and ultimately wanted to see him in control of all forces in the western region. Crawford was experienced in frontier warfare, well-liked by his men, and had served as an officer under Gen. Hand’s “squaw campaign” the year prior. General Edward Hand was originally in command of the western war department and was headquartered at Fort Pitt. But he was about to be replaced.

In May of 1778, Washington appointed Brigadier General Lachlan McIntosh, of Georgia, to succeed Gen. Hand in running the entire Western Department – primarily Fort Pitt. The competing officers would engage in a power struggle – in a letter writing campaign against one another to Gen. Washington. This ended in McIntosh eventually being relieved of command, being replaced by Col. Brodhead. Not long afterwards, Brodhead also was removed and replaced by Col. Gibson. And as for Crawford, he would be burned at the stake in 1782.

In early March of 1779, George Washington wrote to Daniel Brodhead and placed him in command of Fort Pitt: “From my opinion of your abilities, your former acquaintance with the back Country, and the knowledge you must have acquired upon this last tour of duty, I have appointed you to command in preference to a stranger, who would not have time to gain the necessary information between that of his assuming the command and the commencement of operations.”

Soon after, Brodhead led an expedition to stop the threat of American Indian raids on the frontier. Brodhead and his colonial troops traveled up the Allegheny River on their expedition against the Seneca Indians. He was confronted with the same issues that previous generals had faced before him: shortages of supplies, food, and men. By mid-April, Washington recognized the difficulties Brodhead and his men faced. He ordered Brodhead to cease operations and return to Fort Pitt.

Fort Pitt During the Revolutionary War: General Brodhead’s Expedition, Fort Pitt Museum Blog, August 10, 2018.

I believe the Brodhead expedition is mentioned in the following narrative by another member of the Greenbrier Militia, who mustered at Byrnside’s Fort, in what was most assuredly 1778:

Henry Winckleback Pension Application

The Winckleback application was known. However, it ties in nicely with the Griffin narrative, in that they both describe being mustered to transport supplies for James Byrnside, almost certainly via packhorse, to the Fort Pitt region. This undoubtedly contained whiskey and flour. I would doubt that they drove beef cattle, because they would have been using a wilderness trail to reach the destination.

18th century pack saddles. The two on the left came out of the Greenbrier Valley.

In Winckleback’s own words:

I shall be 80 yrs. old the 15th of Sept. (Inst) am a native of Lancaster Pa. moved to Monroe Co Va. in 1776 [formed from Greenbrier County in 1799] (most likely 1778) – during the war of the Revolution (cant tell in what year) I was employed by Burnside to drive packhorses loaded with provisions for McIntoshs campaign – got my load at dry run.

Went on to Fort McIntosh lay there a while and then moved on with the army to Fort Laurence (Fort Laurens). after getting at the latter place I joined the army as a soldier. I substituted in the place of a man whose name I have forgotten for nine months he haveing been drafted for that length of time.

I was attached to Capt Uriah Springers company Col John Gibson Reg’t. – I remained in service under the aforesaid officer at Fort Laurence Fort McIntosh Fort Pitt & fort Wheeling removing from the one place to the other until the close of the Revolutionary war. Was two years & nine months in actual service – I substituted as before stated for nine months. when the time expired I applied for a discharge and was told by Col Gibson that I was in the regular service and to go about my business.

Pension Application of Henry Winckleblack (Squire) S6389; http://revwarapps.org/s6389.pdf
The site of Fort Laurens, as it appears today. Or as these men refer to it as, “Fort Lawrence.” There’s nothing left of it, but they have an outline on the ground and a small museum on site.

The application contains an amendment, this time with more detail:

[W]hile he was stationed at Fort McIntosh, he was sent out with fifteen or twenty others on a scouting party; while out on this party they were attacked by about forty Indians and succeeded in killing a great many of them. This scouting party was under the command of Lieut. Harris.

While at Fort Pitt he was sent out on a campaign under the command of Col Gibson and Crawford. During this campaign, the advanced guard was attacked by a large body of Indians, and after a short engagement in which they killed ten of the Indians they succeeded in defeating and driving them from the field.

Previous to his entering the army he lived in the county of Greenbrier, that part which is now called Monroe, and was employed by James Byrnside to pack articles of merchandise to Fort St. Laurence (Laurens). [I]t was in one of those trips to Fort St. Laurence that he substituted as above stated….

Henry his X mark Winckleblack

Pension Application of Henry Winckleblack (Squire) S6389; http://revwarapps.org/s6389.pdf
The execution of Col. William Crawford, following his capture by Indians in 1782 in the Sandusky Campaign.
Map showing the Crawford burn site location, as determined by a 1985 scavengeology mission, included below.
Google Earth view of the sketch above.
Broken sword which possibly belonged to Col. Crawford. Supposedly he broke his sword before capture. Wyandot County Hist. Soc.

Fort McIntosh was an early American log frontier fort situated near the confluence of the Ohio River and the Beaver River in what is now Beaver, Pennsylvania. The fortress was constructed in 1778 under the direction of Lt. Col. Cambray-Digny, a French engineer, and named in honor of General Lachlan McIntosh. The fortress was the site of the signing of the Treaty of Fort McIntosh on January 21, 1785. It was occupied until it was abandoned in 1791. After the Revolution, the fort was the home of the First American Regiment, the oldest active unit in the United States Army.

Looking east across the site of Fort McIntosh, located along the Ohio River at Beaver, Pennsylvania, United States. The first United States Army on the northern banks of the Ohio, the fort’s site was rediscovered by archaeologists in the twentieth century and converted into a park. Lines of stones, such as the one in the middle of the foreground, are parts of the original foundation. Under the name of Fort McIntosh Site, the park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also a part of the Beaver Historic District, which is also listed on the Register.

The fort was in the form of a trapezoid, about 150 feet on each side, with raised earthen bastions on each corner. Log palisades connected the bastions, and a 15 foot wide ditch protected three sides of the fort, with the 130 foot slope to the Ohio River protecting the other side. Inside were three barracks, warehouses, officer’s quarters, a forge, kitchen, and powder magazines. The fort may have had either two or four iron cannon (Wikipedia).

From the Fort Pitt Museum blog:

In a strategic attempt to divert the enemy’s attention from these campaigns, Washington requested that Brodhead resume his expedition along the Allegheny. On Aug. 11, 1779, Brodhead and 605 men, from the 8th Pennsylvania and 9th Virginia Regiments, marched north toward Conewago. The ensuing encounter became known as the Battle of Thompson Island, the only Revolutionary War battle fought in northwestern Pennsylvania. In a letter to Washington, Brodhead described the incident: “Ten miles this side of Conewago, Lieut. John Hardin and advance guard discovered thirty or forty of the enemy descending the river in canoes. Immediate preparation made for action in which five of the Indians were killed and several wounded. Their party suffered only slight wounds.”

Fort Pitt During the Revolutionary War: General Brodhead’s Expedition, Fort Pitt Museum Blog, August 10, 2018.

After the Battle of Thompson Island, Brodhead’s troops proceeded to Conewago, where they found abandoned Seneca towns. Without a guide to help his men go farther north, Brodhead returned to Fort Pitt and his men sacked and burned empty American Indian towns along the way. He described their return journey in a letter: “Three days were occupied in destroying standing corn and burning houses. Booty to the value of $30,000 was taken. On the return, Conewago, Buckloons and Mahusauchikoken were burned.”

Brodhead and his troops returned to Fort Pitt on Sept. 14, 1779. His expedition was one of several in Western Pennsylvania during the American Revolution. These expeditions aimed to protect frontier colonists from the threat of American Indians and made up a large part of Western Pennsylvania’s role in the Revolutionary War.

Fort Pitt During the Revolutionary War: General Brodhead’s Expedition, Fort Pitt Museum Blog, August 10, 2018.

Littleton West Pension Application

This is another new one I found:

That sometime in the year 1774 he volunteered as a Private Militia man under Captain Benjamin Harriss [Benjamin Harris?] of Greenbrier County in the State of Virginia where I then lived for the defense of the Northwestern frontiers which were annoyed by the attacks of hostile Indians that we marched with a force of 100 men under the command of Captain Ben Harriss for Point Pleasant on the Ohio River near the mouth of the Kenhoura [Kanawha] river we arrived there with many of our men sic of the flux.

I was detailed to wait on the sick and did not reach the point until after the Battle was fought with the Indians at Point Pleasant [October 10, 1774]. I do not recollect the name of the Regiment I belonged to and the following officers are all that I recollect being in this Expedition General (Andrew) Lewis of Virginia. I believe the said expedition was ordered out by the Governor [Lord Dunmore] of Virginia and I also believe it had his sanction. I returned home to Greenbrier County in the State of Virginia the troops were discharged our tour of service was on this campaign three months.

Pension application of Littleton West R11344; http://revwarapps.org/r11344.pdf
The present day view of Point Pleasant, from directly across the Ohio River on the Ohio side.

He then mentions serving under Captain Thomas Wright. In the James Christy application below, Christy mentions serving under Capt. Wright and being stationed at Byrnside’s Fort, under Capt. Wright, for many years. It seems likely that “Thomas Wright” is the militia captain generally in command at Byrnside’s Fort during the Rev War years. He states that he was stationed at Byrnside’s Fort for 30 days in 1779, or 1780, with 30 men.

About the year 1779 or 1780 as I think I volunteered under Captain Thomas Wright of Greenbrier County in the State of Virginia in which County I still lived with a body of Militia ordered out by the authority of Virginia. We marched from Greenbrier County in the said State under the command of Captain T. Wright and Colonel J Henderson – with about 30 men to Burnsides on the Frontier of said County of Greenbrier in said state where we were stationed for protecting the frontier settlements. We were in actual service this tour 30 days, was discharged and returned to my former residence in Greenbrier Virginia.

He then discusses the attack at Donnelly’s Fort. That was 1778, so he confused his dates. That was likely during the aforesaid tour of duty, which he thought was 1779 or 1780. Thus, it was probably 1778.

The actual site of Donnally’s fort, as it appears today.

In or about the year 1782 I again volunteered under the same Captain Wright and marched to the relief of Doneley’s forts on the frontiers of Greenbrier County with a force of about 45 men commanded by the said Captain Wright whilst at this fort the Shawnee Indians made an attack on the fort and killed 4 men we however repulsed them with several killed & wounded having fulfilled our tour we were discharged. I returned home to Greenbrier my place of residence after serving in this tour 30 days.

A bizarre lead creation I found at the site of Donnally’s Fort. The archaeologists were really interested in this, and as far as I remember I let them borrow it to research what it’s purpose may have been.
A blackened human tooth I found at the site of Donnally’s Fort.
A broken musket flint and four impacted lead balls found along the location of the west wall of Donnally’s Fort’s stockade.

It seems likely that West and Wright were a part of the relief force mounted from Camp Union, as described by John Stuart and Matthew Arbuckle as having around 65 men from the local forts. They arrived during the attack, rushed towards the fun. The gates were opened and they successfully got into the fort in order to assist in its’ defense. The fort was under siege by 200 Indians – making it the second largest battle against the Indians within the bounds of present day West Virginia – the first being the Battle of Point Pleasant.

A pistol I photographed at the Donnally’s Fort site, which belonged to William Dyer, who fought at the Battle of Point Pleasant and who was also present at Donnally’s Fort.

Next, Littleton West discusses being drafted to go to Kentucky in the early 1780s, and that he couldn’t go because he had gotten married by then, so he found a substitute. In those days, you could avoid a military draft by hiring someone else to go in your place. Apparently the value for this particular expedition was anticipated to be $50.00.

As well as I can recollect and the requisition was made by the Governor of Virginia for troops to aid the settlements (now Kentucky) who were much distressed by the Indians. I was drafted in this Campaign but owing to my situation being lately married I could not go with the troops. I procured a substitute by the name of Joshua Boucher to whom I paid $50 to take my place for three months which he done. I have been on other campaigns against the Indians which I cannot now by reason of my old age and consequent loss of memory detail to any person.

The official records corroborate his recollection: It was noted in the Virginia Militia records for the County of Greenbrier, that in 1780, Captain Thomas Wright raised a company,

“to go against the Indians at Detroit. But then it was marched to the Lead Mines (Fort Chiswell) on Holston, and then to Logan’s Station in Kentucky. It was also at McAfee’s Station in Kentucky where Capt. James Armstrong was in command.”

Virginia Militia in the Revolution, p. 33.

John Robinson Pension Application

Here’s another soldier mustered under Capt. Wright, which we know took place at Byrnside’s Fort, who was then sent to Fort Chiswell, and then on to Kentucky:

Living in Monroe County, West Virginia on Sept. 17, 1832. Born 1749. Drafted in February, 1780, under Capt. Thomas Wright, of Greenbrier, for the alleged purpose of going against the Indians at Detroit, but was marched by Crytes (probably Crisswell) lead mines to the head of Holston, and thence to Logan Station, Ky., where it was decided that the troops were not to go to Detroit.

Marched to McAfee’s Station on Salt River, where Capt. James Armstrong was in command. The major under whom affiant served was Andrew Hamilton. Discharged here in August, 1780, his term of service calling for twelve months. Reached home the last of August in Company with twenty-eight others who had been in the same service. Among them were, James Alton, Swift Perry, and Edward Cornwell, all now dead; William Bushor, who moved to Kentucky, and James and John O’Hara and Thomas Alterberry, whom he knows nothing of.

Virginia Militia in the Revolution, p. 89.
Along Harrod’s Old Trace, James and Robert McAfee built a station at McAfee’s Spring in 1779. The Mercer County site is near a tributary of the Salt River adjacent to the present day community of Talmage.

The reason Capt. Wright was raising a Greenbrier Militia company to “go against the Indians at Detroit” was because that was the coordinated plan for the western counties of the Virginia Militia during this period of the Revolutionary War. Virginia had sent George Rogers Clark on his expedition west, and now he was poised to take Detroit. It’s believed that such was the plan under which troops were being raised in these counties. They had other offensive plans, to take the war to the Indians.

Ink and watercolor painting by artist Ken Scott, of McAfee’s Station, from Ken’s website. Ken is one of the best traditional artists around. He also makes awesome hunting bags.

However, they had threats opening up on all fronts, and decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Thomas Jefferson, the Governor of Virginia, wrote to William Campbell (who had been placed as commander of the three joint county militias in that area) on July 3, 1780, to change his plans from going on an expedition, to instead protect the Lead Mines at Fort Chiswell, as they were a higher priority. See Jefferson Papers, 3:479. Tories from the nearby mountains had been threatening to take over the lead mines, and otherwise cause chaos.

Jacob Kisner (Kesner) Pension Application

This one was also previously unknown to me, and discusses the same period of service:

[H]e volunteered in the service of the United States in the month of March 1779 and served nine months in the State of Virginia against the Shaun (Shawnee) Indians. No. of Regiment not recollected and says he served as a private in the Virginia volunteer line under the following named officers under Captain John Ben Bever [?] (Van Bibber) agreeable to order of Colonel (William) Preston and Major James Henderson as he believes and left the Service in the month of December 1779 and that he resided in Green Brier, now Monroe County in the said State of Virginia….

[T]hat he first marched from Ben Bevers (Van Bibber’s) ford (probably “fort”) to the part of Virginia known by the name of the Wilderness and continued scouting through the Wilderness to keep of [off] the Indians during said tower [tour] of nine months…. [H]e states that he was engaged in a skirmish with the Indians on Greenbrier River in said State of Virginia…

Pension application of Jacob Kisner (Kesner) S45886; http://revwarapps.org/s45886.pdf
Historical marker across the Greenbrier River from where Van Bibber’s Fort stood, a.k.a., Fort Greenbrier.
A view of the Greenbrier River about where Van Bibber’s Fort stood.

[T]hat he was drafted in the last of February in the year 1781 in the service of the United States and entered the service under Colonel (William) Preston, Major Quirk and Captain Andrew Hamilton of the Militia of the State of Virginia at Burnside’s Station in Greenbrier County and march[ed] from there to what is now called Kentucky to join General Clark [George Rogers Clark] at the falls of the Ohio to go to New orleans [New Orleans] to assist the French agreeable to order of General Washington.

[B]ut peace being declared, [they were] disbanded in the now State of Kentucky and from there march[ed] home the last of May 1781 to Greenbrier County Virginia after serving a tower of three months….

Pension application of Jacob Kisner (Kesner) S45886; http://revwarapps.org/s45886.pdf

This period of service was likely the same muster mentioned by several of these applicants, in 1781, when Thomas Jefferson ordered troops to send to George Rogers Clark for an expedition against Detroit. The mission ended up getting canceled and repurposed. It appears that the force was then divided into two groups: one to assist Kentucky, and one to assist Montgomery County, Virginia with its Tory problem and guard the lead mines.

So just to clarify, there were two separate militia musters at Byrnside’s Fort, for the Greenbrier Militia to march for Kentucky in order to serve in expeditions under George Rogers Clark: one in 1778, and one in 1781. Each time they marched to Fort Chiswell, which existed for the purpose of guarding the lead mines, of which Chiswell himself was the first owner, hence the naming of the fort. Each of these expeditions ended up diverting men to stay and guard the mines, as they were constantly under threat by the local tory groups in the nearby mountains.

A map of the state of Virginia, (1859) constructed in conformity to law from the late surveys authorized by the legislature and other original and authentic documents (showing the location of the lead mines, center right, circled in red).

Drury Ham Pension Application

This narrative doesn’t expressly mention Byrnside’s Fort, but it’s apparent from the wording that he was in the same militia unit in 1778 formed by Capt. Wright which mustered at Byrnside’s Fort, along with others discussed here.

That he entered the service of the United States under the following named officers and served as herein stated. That he entered the service of the United States about the first of March in the year 1778 as a drafted militia man in Captain Thomas Wright’s Company of the County of Greenbrier State of Virginia to serve a tower [tour] of three months which tower he served, some few days after he joined the said Wright’s Company the said company marched to New River in the State aforesaid where his Company was attached to Colonel James Henderson’s Regiment. He states that after the term of his service expired for which he was drafted he was discharged by his Captain Thomas Wright….

He states after he returned home from the tower aforesaid he removed to the County of Montgomery & State of Virginia and in the month of August 1778 he again entered the service of the United States as a volunteer in the company of George Parrish of the County of Montgomery & State aforesaid as an Indian Spy the Company to which he belonged was ordered to guard the frontiers on Knew River [New River] where they were attached to Colonel Taylor’s Regiment which was commanded by said Taylor….

And after he returned home he went to the County of Botetourt County State of Virginia and in the month of September 1780 he again entered the service of the United States as a Volunteer in the company of Captain Alexander Hanley in the County aforesaid to serve a tower of six months, the company marched to the County of Montgomery & State aforesaid on Holston River where they were attached to Major Campbell’s Battalion and from that place they marched through North Carolina to South Carolina where they joined General Morgan’s [Daniel Morgan’s] Brigade and after they joined the aforesaid Brigade they marched to the Cowpens and that he was in the Battle of the Cowpens [January 17, 1781]…..

Pension application of Drury Ham W27678; http://www.revwarapps.org/w27678.pdf

Peter Dixon Pension Application

This one was also a new find. It appears that there were musters at Byrnside’s Fort for expeditions to Kentucky to assist George Rogers Clark in 1778, and also again in 1781. Dixon mustered for the 1778 trip, and ended up at Logan’s Station in Kentucky.

That he entered the service of the United States, & served under the following named Officers, he was drafted for six months at the House or Station called, Burnsides Station [near present Salt Sulfur Springs in Monroe County WV], in month of February 1778, in the company commanded, by Captain John Henderson, Lieutenant John Woods.

The regiment or Battallion commanded by major Andrew Hamilton in Greenbrier County, State of Virginia, marched from thence to Fort Chisell (Fort Chiswell in present Wythe County VA). There found the Millitia from Bedford C. Va. under the command of Major Thomas Quirk there stationed six or eight weeks.

Then were marched through to the wilderness to Colonel Benjamin Logans Station (1 mi W of Stanford Courthouse) in Kentucky for the purpose of joining the troops commanded by General George R. Clark [George Rogers Clark] on an expedition against the Indians in the N.W. part of the State of Ohio. We arrived to late to join said troops. They had marched [26 Jun 1778] some considerable time before we arived at said station.

We were stationed at Col Logans until General Clark returned to Kentucky from the Old Chilecothe [sic: Chillicothe] Indian Towns. At this period I had been transfered to the Company of Captain John Wood who had been promoted to the office of Captain. I was marched back to Greenbrier County virgina. I was there discharged, by my said Captain John Woods, discharged the last day of July or the first day of August 1778. Served the above six months a private as above.

Pension Application of Peter Dixon S32694; http://revwarapps.org/s32694.pdf

1777 letter from Col. William Preston, commander of Montgomery County, Virginia’s Militia, containing orders to go to the aid of Kentucky:

Montgomery, March ye 17th 1777 Sir, In Conformity to Orders I have just received from his Excellency the Governor of Virginia, you are, with the Assistance of Mr. Joseph Drake, who is to Act as Lieutenant, and Mr. Ephraim Drake, who is to Act as Ensign to Engage fifty Men Rank & File under the usual Non non commissioned Officers, out of the Militia of this County. As I have reason to believe from the Influence you & your Subalterns may have with the Young Men that you will be able to Engage that Number Voluntarily to go to the Protection of the People in Kentuck [Kentucky] County. I therefore shall not now give any Orders for a Draught but should you fail of getting that Number in the Interior Parts of this County you are to inform me thereof that a Draught may be made to Compleat the Company. You and your Officers must set out immediately on this Service & after engaging the Number of Men required to hold yourself in Readiness to March on the shortest notice, when joined by the Company from Botetourt, & the Necessary Provisions are made for the journey. Should there be a Field Officer belonging to that County on the spot or to march out with you, you are to be under his Command, if not, the oldest Captain is to have the Command while you remain in this Service. You are to do everything in your Power to Protect & [Defend?] the Settlers in that Country, in the conjunction with the Botetourt Company, till Further orders. In case it shall be judged impossible to hold the Country with this Reinforcement joined to the inhabitants there you are to Escort all the People with their Effects to the nearest place of Safety & then Disband, if you recive no further orders from the Governor or by his direction.
You You will be supplied with Provisions & Ammunition on your march out, & while you continue on Duty which will be no longer then the safety of the Settlers demand your assistance. Permit me Sir, to Request & exhort you and your Officers to be as Expeditious as Possible in Compleating the Company: and by all means to keep up good Discipline and order amongest your men. To do everything in your Power for the Protection of those Distressed People; & to be constantly on your gaurd so as not to suffer your Company to be Surprized by the Enemy. You are Punctually & implicitly to Obey the orders of your Commanding Officer on all Occasions; as nothing can contribute more to render your service Essential, by such a conduct, you will not only censure the Esteem of the People you are going to defend, but merit the notice & regard of Government, itself. I sincerely wish you Health Success and Honour in the Expidition & am Sir with respect Your most Obedt Svt William Preston
Benjamin Logan established a large station of blockhouses and cabins at Buffalo Spring just west of present day Stanford in 1775. Positioned near the south edge of the Bluegrass country, Logan’s provided refuge for travelers and frontier settlers.

Dixon mustered again in 1780 to go to Kentucky:

The circumstances that brought a second tour of service, were as follows (towit) in the fall of the year 1780 I engaged in the company of Capt. Henry Baughman to protect a company of movers to Kentucky. Travelled to a place near the Crab Orchard [in Lincoln County KY], we encamped at night. The Indians broke in upon our encampment, and killed six of us and wound one, the remaining part retreated to the Station.

I remained in the Station about Two or three weeks. I then volunteered in the company of Captain Andrew Kinkade [Andrew Kincaid] Lieutenant James Calwell [James Caldwell] at Whitleys Station [on Walnut Flat Creek in Lincoln County] in Kentucky in the month of November 1780, in the Regiment or Battallion commanded, by Colonel Benjamin Logan, marched from thence to the Ohio river, crossed the same at the mouth of Licking, from thence we marched to the Old Chilicothe Indian Towns, thence to the head of the Miami.

There destroyed the Indian Towns, destroyed their (the Indians) Corn and other property. Then returned home to Kentucky, and were discharged by Col Logan, at the Fort, in Month of January 1781. Served not less than three months upon the above named 2nd Tour a private in the company aforesaid.

William Whitley established a land claim and station on Walnut Flat Creek, north of crab orchard in 1775, although he lived at St Asaph/Stanford until 1779. In the early 1790s Whitley built a brick home about two miles south, now a state historic site.

Also his brother, George Dixon’s Statement:

This little statement was given in support of his his brother, Peter Dixon’s, pension application. Below is George’s own application narrative, which is pretty interesting.

Be it known that on the 15th day of September AD 1834 Personally appeared before the subscriber a Justice of the peace in and for said county, George Dixon, who after being duly sworn according to law deposeth and saith that that he entered the service of the United States, in the war of the Revolution at the station of Burnsides, in the Co of Greenbrier in the State of Virginia with his Brother Peter Dixon who has this day in open Court sworn and subscribed a declaration in order to obtain a pension, that I served with him in the same Company (To wit) the Company of Captain Henderson Lt John Woods commanded by Major Andrew Hamilton until we came to Fort Chissel when we was seperated and I was sent to Kentucky on an express (as will more fully be illusterated by reference to my declaration now on file in the War Office, and I believe verily He the said Peter Dixon served out the tour of six months for which he was drafted – and further this deponant saith that he has heard his Brother Peter Dixon, relate that, he vollenteered at Whitley’s Station in Kentucky under Col Logan and that in consequence of the Indians, having murdered a part of the company of imegrants, that were miving to Kentucky (of which Peter Dixon was one) Col Logan raised as many troops as could be raised and pursued the Indians to their Towns for the purpose of redress. and further this deponant saith not

That would have been the 1778 trip to Kentucky. This is George Dixon’s own pension narrative, which follows:

[H]e entered the service of the United States under the following named officers and served as herein stated That he entered the said service in the month of September AD 1777 A volenteer of the County of Greenbrier in the state of Virginia, in the Company commanded by Captain James Armstrong, marched from the said County of Greenbrier [illegible word] the Kenhaway to Point Pleasent [sic: Kanawha River to Point Pleasant] on the Ohio River Captain [Matthew] Arbuckle commanded said Garison [Fort Randolph] at Point Pleasent. he was a regular officer if the united states Army. 

He this said declarant halted at said Garison untill the troops commanded by General Hann (Edward Hand) would arive this said declarant was to join General Hann to go against the Indians on the Sciote (Scioto River) now in the State of Ohio While he this said declarant lay at Point Pleasent, aforesaid Robert Gilmore a private (Lt. James Gilmore) in the Company that this said declarant belonged to was kild by the Indians. The said Gilmore crossed the River Kanhannay (Kanawha) for the purpose of hunting and was fiered upon and kild by the Indians.

The circumstance of Gilmore being kild exasperated and enraged the Millitia to such a hight, that they fiered upon and kild four friendly Indians that had been several days in the fort (Murder of Chief Cornstalk on 10 Nov 1777). One who was King Cornstalk a Shawnee Indian in despite of the Commandant officer of the Garison General Hann deeming the above named expedition inadvisable abandened the expedition.

When the said Genl Hann (Hand) discharged his troops in the month of November in the year seventeen hundred seventy seven when this said declarant after being Honorably discharged returned home.

Pension Application of George Dixon S16764
The original path leading from Point Pleasant back up the Kanawha and to the Greenbrier settlements, at about 2 miles from the point.

On a second tour (1778) this said declarant was drafted from the Milletia of said County of Greenbrier in Virginia (at the station of Burnsides, in the Co of Greenbrier in the State of Virginia with his Brother Peter Dixon -detail from his statement for his brother’s application) to go to Kentucky, (and there join General [George Rogers] Clark on a expedition to the Scioto now in the State of Ohio.

Drafted as aforesaid in the month of Febuary seventeen hundred seventy Eight, And marched in the month of March of the same year To Fort Chissell (Chiswell) in Virginia In the Company Commanded by Captain John Henderson under the command of Major Hamilton [probably Andrew Hamilton] stationed at Fort Chisel aforesaid.

[While] waiting for the millitia troops from the County of Bedford to arive waited till the grew impatient of waiting, they determined on sending an Express to Kentucky when this declarant and six others of his company was detailed by said officer to Cary said express. The undertaking and of which was considered to be very hazardous We arived safe at Logans Station on Dicks river (Dix River near present Stanford, KY) in Kentucky and delivered said express as directed to Colonel [Benjamin] Logan of Kentucky Staid at said station about Three weeks when the troops that this said declarant belonged to arived from Fort Chissel in Virginia for the purpose of joining Gen’l Clark.

But Gen’l Clark having returned to Kentucky after an expedition to the Scioto in which the troops that this declarant belonged was to have participated in But arived to late for to join Gen’l Clark aforesaid in said expedition was disbanded by Major Hamilton who were their Commandant in the month of June 1778 and returned home to Virginia.

He then served back on the Greenbrier River at John Van Bibber’s Fort, at what is present day Lowell, West Virginia – now Summers County. It was originally Greenbrier County, and then Monroe County, and finally Summers County. This was across the river from the site of the James Graham cabin, which is still standing. While he was there, the Shawnee attacked the Graham family.

On the first of May seventeen hundred seventy nine engaged in the company commanded by Captain Graham under the command of Colonel Brown of Greenbrier County Virginia a spy to spy out and reconoiter the enroads and excursions of the Indians on the Kenhaway, and the Country thereabout, Served from the 1st of May seventeen hundred seventy nine to the first of November seventeen hundred Eighty one at the rate of five shillings per day in Contennental money were bound to find myself amunition and other aequipage together with necessary provision

Marker next to the Graham house describing the fort which supposedly existed directly on the other side of the Greenbrier River.

One Samuel H. Shute gave a statement in support of George Dixon’s application, which mentions that while serving as an Indian Spy for Capt. Graham, Dixon warned Cpt. (James) Graham of danger, which went unheeded, resulting in tragedy:

“He has heard him [George Dixon] long since relate the circumstance of King Cornstalk being kiled at Point Pleasant in virginia and his expedition to Kentucky with an Express. Heard him the said Dixon relate whilst engaged as a Spy that a woman By the name of Butler kiled in Virginia and other circumstances in relation to his services as a spy heard him the said Dixon relate that he was urged by Col. Garham of Greenbrier Cty to watch his family till he could return from Court, and that he the said Dixon did watch accordingly and that said Dixon discovered there were danger from Indians, and warned the family of Col Graham who did not heed his the said Dixons warning he having previous to their being kild they the family afores’d refused to go to the fort that was close by & was murdered by the Indians the next morning.”

The James Graham cabin, site of the tragic attack.

And then Peter’s nephew, Peter Dixon, son of George, also gave a statement:

In the State of Indiana, Personally appeared before me the undersigned Justice of the peace in and for Warren County in said County, Peter Dixon, aged fifty years, who after being duly sworn deposeth & saith that he has been well acquainted with his Uncle Peter Dixon, who is an applicant for a pension, as this deponent is informed, for services rendered the United States during the War of the Revolution. And that he this deponant perfectly recollects of hearing the said Peter Dixon, state more than thirty years since, that he the said Peter, was drafted for the term of six months in Greenbrier County Virginia, in the War of the Revolution.

For to march to Kentucky, for the purpose of joining General Clark on an expedition against the Indians North West of the Ohio River, That he the said Peter was marched, to Fort Chissell, and my Father George Dixon, was sent on an express to Kentucky, and that the said Peter was detained at said Fort until the Bedford Co militia arived, under the command of Major. Thomas Quirk when they all wer marched, to Kentucky to Logans Station, and that said Peter afterwards volunteered and served a tour under Colonel Logan against the Indians NW of Ohio River.

Thomas Jefferson calls up the Greenbrier Militia in 1781

Thomas Jefferson, as Governor of Virginia, had written a letter to the officers of the Greenbrier County Militia, ordering the to raise 137 men of the county militia, once again for the purpose of joining George Rogers Clark, but this time it would be on a prolonged expedition in the west (i.e., taking Detroit). In response, the said Greenbrier Militia officers, Andrew Donnally, Samuel Brown, and Andrew Hamilton, penned the following response to Jefferson:

Sir Green Briar 29th. January 1781

A Letter from your Excellency of the 24th of December directing that 137 Men of the Militia of this County shouéd forthwith be raised and sent to the County of Kentucky to join Colo. Clarke, and serve under him this ensueing Summer on an Expedition against the Indians in Consequence of which We have given orders to Draft that Number together with Proper Officers to Command them, amounting to 146 effective Men; so large a number out of a Militia scarcely 550 strong lying in a County exposed to the daily inroads of the Indians, fill[s] us with much uneasiness about the dangers we are like[ly] to suffer from this weakening of our Militia, especially at a time when we cannot expect to be reinforced from any of the interiour Counties, shouéd any such danger arise. How much more then must our apprehension of Danger increase when we find that by an Act of Assembly we are to furnish 34 Men More for the Continental Army. It is with the utmost reluctance we address ourselves to your Excellency on this occasion (at a time when the necessities of the State require the utmost exertion of its members in its defence) to request that you will Prolong the Term in which we are to furnish said recruits, till the return of o[ur] Militia from Colo. Clarke, or at least till such time as [the]y have got into the Indian Country and may have drawn their attention to his operations. Assure yourself Sir we wou’d not have made this request but in consequence of the intreaties of the inhabitants here and the imminent danger to which we think these frontiers exposed, by thus drawing away the Militia. We shall continue to use all means to have the Militia ready as speedily as Possible, shou’d you think it improper to grant our request.

We are Sir Your most Obedt. Hble Servants,

andw. donnaly
saml brown
andw. hamilton

To Thomas Jefferson from the Officers of the Greenbrier County Militia, 29 January 1781,” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-04-02-0572. [Original source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 4, 1 October 1780 – 24 February 1781, ed. Julian P. Boyd. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951, p. 469

Jefferson responded on February 17, 1781, that he was sympathetic to their need for self-protection, and that he would “undertake to approve” of a possible postponement until the threat level decreases. But, it was too late. The Greenbrier Militia already had rendezvoused three days earlier at Byrnside’s Fort, along with the Dixon brothers:

John Kincaid Pension Application

I’ve written about John Kincaid before:

[H]e entered the service of the United States of the following named officers & served as herein stated: that he was drafted in the month of February in the year 1781 under Captain John Henderson and Lieutenant John Woods and Major Andrew Hamilton had the command. He then lived in Greenbrier County Virginia.

He started to the place of rendezvous on or about the 14th day of February and met at James Byrnsides the place of rendezvous on the 15th day of that month 1781. He was drafted as a private in said company but if there were any stated time for the termination of his service he does not now recollect. He served more than six months or perhaps seven….

The company was assembled in Greenbrier County Virginia they were then marched to the fort “Chessel” then in Montgomery County Virginia (Fort Chiswell now in Wythe County). After remaining there some six or eight weeks he was marched back to Woodses’ fort near New River in Greenbrier County (Woods’ Fort, 4 mi NE of Peterstown now in Monroe County WV) and was kept employed in guarding Indians and Tories.

A drone shot I took of the site of Woods’ Fort, on Rich Creek, Monroe County, WV. One of the better fort locations of the ones I’ve seen.

It appears that Kincaid (who was a neighbor of James Byrnside) was part of the contingent who remained in western Virginia, rather than going on to Kentucky. The reason for this was that some of the mountain-folk of Montgomery County were organizing for a takeover of the Lead Mines at Fort Chiswell. It seems Kincaid stayed back to protect against such an attack, as well as for regular ranging duty.

He was here under Captain Archibald Woods. He aided in retaking eleven American prisoners from the Indians after killing two Indians in the engagement. After having served the foregoing period and performed the foregoing services, he was discharged by Captain Woods and Henderson both signing a written discharge – which discharge is either lost or mislaid.

An old wagon wheel hub found in Rich Creek, buried in the mud, at the site of Woods’ Fort.

In the spring of 1782 he was again drafted under Captain Archibald Woods. He does not know in what month. This was in Greenbrier County Virginia. He served to the best of his recollection under this draft three months. He was stationed in Greenbrier County but was frequently sent as a spy out of that County in pursuit of Indians. From this service he was discharged but not in writing.

In the summer of 1783 [could be 1782] the month he does not recollect he was again called into the service as a drafted militia man under the same Captain A. Woods and served three months guarding the Country from the depredations of the Indians. This was generally in Greenbrier County after which time he was verbally discharged by his Captain.

Michael Swope’s Pension Application

Michael Swope’s father was perhaps the first permanant settler in what is now Monroe County, West Virginia, and was likely the first white child born in Monroe County, in 1753 – the second probably being John Byrnside in 1763. The Swopes settled on Wolf Creek. His father was the quintessential frontiersman from French Indian War era, and it’s likely that Michael wasn’t much different. As such, his talents were definitely best utilized as an “Indian Spy” on the frontiers, a necessary service since the defense plan depending on an early warning for the settlers to make it into their nearest fort prior to an attack..

Historical marker in Wolf Creek, Monroe County, WV mentioning Michael’s father, which mentions Michael as well.

[H]e entered the service as an Indian Spy in the spring of the year 1776: that at the time he entered the Service as a Spy he was enrolled and mustered in a company of Militia commanded by Captain John Henderson and raised in that part of the State of Virginia which is now Monroe on Wolf Creek about sixteen miles from where he now resides; that at the termination of the cold weather and when the first signs of approaching spring and the putting forth of vegetation appeared some signs of Indians having been seen, the people becoming much alarmed in the neighborhood betook themselves to Cook’s Fort which was situated on Indian Creek about eight miles from where he now resides in about the same distance from where he then resided.

The Settlers betook themselves to Cook’s Fort on the 1st of May in that year and he entered on the duties of an Indian Spy on the same day – and continued in Service the first of November following when cold weather coming on in all signs of Indians disappearing – the Settlers left the Fort and returned to their habitations. He was discharged from service during the winter having continued in service six months. 

Pension application of Michael Swope R10366; http://revwarapps.org/r10366.pdf
An old photo of the Swope log cabin – now gone.

He again commenced his duties as a Spy on the 15th day of April 1777 and continued in service as such until the first of November following when he was discharged having served that summer six months and a half: that he again entered the service as an Indian Spy on the 15th day of April 1778 and continued in service until the first of November following making a tour of six months and a half: and again on the first day of May 1779 he entered the service as an Indian Spy and was discharged on the first day of November following having performed a tour of six months Service that summer making in the whole term of service as an Indian Spy which he served his Country – two years and one month. 

The nature of his Services as an Indian Spy in each of the aforesaid years was to leave Cook’s Fort on Indian Creek descended said Creek to its mouth where it empties into New River and thence down New River to the mouth of Blue Stone, thence to Van-Bibbers Fort on Greenbrier River, and thence to Jarretts Fort on Wolf Creek, making a distance in going and returning of from thirty to thirty-five miles.

[T]hat he was generally out from three to four days in each week, and sometimes longer if the danger or the intelligence from the Indians seemed to require it and some times when they saw signs of the Indians they would fligh [sic, fly?] from Fort to Fort and give the alarm so that preparations might be made for defensive operations by the people that were forted and that those who had ventured out to work their corn might betake themselves to the Fort before the Indians would attack them. That he had for his companions, his two Brothers Joseph and John Swope who were both older than himself, who are both dead and James Givin (Gwinn probably) who has also been dead for a number of years; that their manner of spying was for two to go together and to meet at some point designated.

During the Summer of 1780 he was permitted to remain in quiet there being no along given in the Settlement of the approach of the Indians and no depredations were committed that year. That in the winter of the year 1781, he was drafted for a three months Tour to go as he was then told against the Indians on Cumberland River and on the 15th day of February of that year he together with about thirty others took up their march as they supposed for that place under the command of Captain John Henderson, Lieutenant John Wood and Ensign John Hall, their company was joined at Burnsides Fort by a company from the County of Greenbrier Commanded by Captain James Armstrong and another Company commanded by Captain Davidson, in the whole was under the command of Major Hamilton.

That they marched on to Fort Chisel (Chiswell) where they met with Major Quirk or Kirk a Continental Officer who assumed the command over Major (Andrew) Hamilton, and thence they marched on to Kentucky to Colonel Logan’s Station where they remained until the three months draft expired when they were informed that the object of the draft was to go to Detroit (with George Rogers Clark) and a number of the men becoming dissatisfied deserted the next day but he remained and went on to Baughman’s Station and remained until most of the men left the Station when he was permitted to return home having served five months in said tour; that he never received any pay for said Services when acting as a Spy and but $6 for his services while drafted.

Interrogatory 1. Where and in what year were you born

Answer. I was born on Wolf Creek near Greenbrier River then called West Augusta now Monroe County in the year 1753 and I have heard it frequent said that I was the first white child ever born in what is now the limits of Monroe County.

2. Have you any record of your age and if so where is it

Ans. I have a record of my age in a very old family Bible now in my possession

3. Where were you living when called into service; where have you lived since Revolutionary War: and where do you now live.

Ans. I was living on Wolf Creek when I was called into service and remained there until about the year 1790 when I moved to where I now live.

John Bradshaw’s Pension Application

This narrative was previously known, and has been often cited as being a good description of the details surrounding service as an Indian Spy, a militia ranger tasked with being the early warning system of an Indian attack, as well as being the quick reaction force in the event of an emergency.

That he entered the service as an Indian Spy in the spring of the year 1776; that he was then just entering the 18th year of his age; that at the time he entered the service as a Spy he was a private in the Company of Militia Commanded by Captain John Henderson; that he then resided in that part of Virginia which is now in the County of Monroe but whether it was then Botetort County or not he does not now know [present Monroe County WV formed in 1799 from Greenbrier County, which was formed from Botetourt and Montgomery counties in 1778].

That before he entered the service as a spy he took the Oath of Fidelity and the Oath to perform the duties of a Spy — That he went into service as a spy on the first day of May 1776 and was discharged on the first of November following, having continued in service six months and until that season of the year arrived when the fear of Indian depredation no longer existed, they having as was their general custom retired to winter quarters.

Pension Application of John Bradshaw S6738; http://revwarapps.org/s6738.pdf

That again in the Spring of the year 1777 he entered the service as an Indian Spy on the 15th day of April and was discharged as before on the first day of November following having that summer performed a tour of six months and a half; he again went into service as an Indian Spy on the 15th day of April 1778 and continued in said service until the first of November following having again performed a tour of six months and a half and that he again commenced his expedition as an Indian Spy on the first day of May 1779 and continued in service until the first day of November 1779 having performed a tour of six months that summer, making in all Two years and one months services which he performed as an Indian Spy.

The site of Cook’s Fort, as it appears today.

That the nature of his services as an Indian Spy was to leave Cooks Fort on Indian Creek now in the County of Monroe [near Red Sulphur Springs] and be out from three to four days each week and then return when others would go, the same length of time, that their practice was for two to go together & when they returned an other two would start out, that the Companion who was mostly with him was a man by the name of James Ellis that he does not know what has become of him but supposes he is dead as he was considerably older than himself. He also sometimes went in company with the late Colonel Samuel Estill of Kentuckey;

Indian Creek upstream a few miles from Cook’s Fort, towards Byrnside’s Fort. Note the Estill stone blockhouse in the distance at right.

[T]hat the place where he performed the aforesaid services as an Indian Spy was in the gaps and low places in the chain of mountains between William Lafferty’s plantation on New River and the head waters of Laurel Creek where they met the Spies from Burnsides Fort.

Byrnside’s Fort, looking towards the direction of Cook’s Fort.

[T]hat they traversed the country which included the head waters of big and little Stony creeks the head waters of the Indian draft a branch of Indian creek and the head waters of Wolf Creek; that the distance or space of country over which he had to travel was supposed to be upwards of thirty miles, that in performing the duties of a spy they had to carry their provisions with them it being against the nature of their Oath and instructions and also jeopardizing their own safety to make a fire at knight no matter how inclement the wether might be; and that during the whole time that he was engaged in the service as an Indian Spy as aforesaid he was not engaged in any civil pursuit

Driving towards the site of Cook’s Fort
Scavengeology survey at the site of Cook’s Fort. It was suspiciously scant of finds, raising questions whether it has been somewhat misidentified.
An old adze blade I found at the site of Cook’s Fort.
A hatchet head found right next to Indian Creek at the site of Cook’s Fort. Found by Bill Burns.

That he was afterwards drafted in the month of January 1781 into service as a soldier of the Revolution from the County of Augusta and marched in a company commanded by Captain Thomas Hicklin Lieutenant Joseph Gwin and Ensign Thomas Wright and was attached to a Regiment commanded by Colonel Sampson Mathews;

[T]hat he lived at the time he was drafted in the County of Augusta and State of Virginia. That he was marched accross the Blue Ridge of Mountains at Rockfish gap, thence directly to the City of Richmond, thence down the James River to Sandy Point where he with the company to which he belonged crossed the River and thence to Camp Carson an encampment in what was called the dismal Swamp near a place called Portsmouth in the State of Virginia, where he was stationed the greater part of the winter, and from thence he was marched with the Army in the spring to Murdoughs Mills [possibly Murdock’s Mill] still nearer to Portsmouth where he remained untill the 9th of April 1781 when he was discharged having served a tour of three months; that during said three months Tour of service he was in one engagement or skirmish under the command of the aforesaid officers at or in sight of Portsmouth; that Captain Cunningham from Rockbridge County, Virginia was wounded in the groin; that the Captain received his wound a few paces in his front there was also one soldier wounded in the leg & was placed on a carriage and bourn off the field or ground of the engagement.

[H]e recollects of no other injury received by the American Army in the aforesaid skirmish. that he was several times engaged in routing the picket guard of the enemy during the aforesaid tour. That he was a sergeant and acted as such during said three months tour, that he received his warrant as such, but not supposing that it would ever be of any service to him has long since lost or mislaid it and does not now remember to have seen it for at least forty years.

Powder horn which supposedly belonged to Capt. Cunningham, who was injured, as described by Bradshaw.

That he was again drafted in the latter part of the summer or in the early part of the autumn of the same year 1781 from the County of Augusta and State aforesaid & was again command by Captain Thomas Hicklin and was attached to a Regiment commanded by Colonel Samuel Vance; that he was marched accross the Blue Ridge at Rockfish gap, thence on by a place called Bowling green, thence on by Pages Ware House and thence on to Little York where Lord Cornwallis with his Army were then stationed; that he was at the Seige of York [28 Sep – 19 Oct 1781] and at the taking of Lord Cornwallis and his army; that the British Army was marched out between two lines of the American Army to the place where they laid down their arms and then they returned through the same lines to their encampment in York Town, and on the next day they were marched out with their knapsacks on, and then took up their line of march under a strong escort or guard of the American Soldiers to the Barracks at Winchester Virginia; that he was one of the guard who escorted the prisoners to Winchester where he was discharged on the next day after his arrival having again served a tour of about three months as near as he now recollects

John Patterson Pension Application

Patterson’s narrative was known. It seems he was mostly garrisoned at William Hamilton’s fort on Muddy Creek. There seems to be confusion about whether this is the same fort as Arbuckle’s Fort. Arbuckle’s was built in 1774, and was a well-constructed military fort, with a stockade. Patterson mentions fleeing Hamilton’s fort at one point to Keeney’s Fort because it was better fortified. Keeney’s Fort long pre-existed Arbuckle’s so that could be Arbuckle’s Fort. Either Hamilton’s Fort is the same fort as Arbuckle’s Fort, or Arbuckle’s Fort was gone by 1777.

That in the spring of 1777 he entered the servis of his countary – and served against the Indians as herein stated – That he was living in Augustia [sic: Augusta] County Virginia in that part that is now the county of Greenbrier – That oweing to the depredations committed by the Indians on the Inhabitants along the new settlements in Western Virginia the people were compelled to errect Fort for their protection – and Government ordered a number of men to be stationed in each Fort or garrison for their defence in case they was attacked by Indians and to scout by turns on scouting and spying parties to watch the aproach of the Indians

Pension Application of John Patterson R8003; http://revwarapps.org/r8003.pdf
The confluence of Mill Creek and Muddy Creek, the site of Arbuckle’s Fort.

For this purpose on the first of April 1777 he volinteered under the command of Captain William Hamilton [pension application R4513] and was stationed in a garrison scituated on Muddy creek and range and reconnoiter along the Medow river [sic: Meadow River] and cross over onto the waters of New River thence return to the Fort – dureing this season they had no engagement with the Indians

Dropped lead roundball I found in the rubble of the old fireplace foundation of Arbuckle’s Fort. This was donated to the archaeological collection from prior excavations.

That in the Spring of 1778 on the first of May he Valenteered and Served under Capt William Hamilton untill the first of Sept in the same year that in this year he was stationed in Hamiltons Garrison which was situated on Muddy creek (a tributary stream of Greenbrier river) about five miles higher up on said creek than the Fort that he had served in the year previous – that he remained in Hamiltons Fort untill the night of the 28 of May when Leonard Cooper and a nother Spy came and informed the Garrison that Donlyes Fort (Donnally’s Fort) (which was about 12 miles distance from Hamiltons Fort) was attacked by about two Hundred Indians and Capt Hamilton supposeing that his Fort was not strong enough to withstand and attack from such a force of Indians – ordered his men to march that night – to Keeny’ Fort [Fort Keeney] which was situated five miles below on Muddy Creek where he remained with a regulary embodied corps untill the time above named that is untill the 1st September 1778.

That again on the first of May 1779 he valentered and served under the said Capt Hamilton untill the first of Sept. of the same year – that he was stationed in Hamiltons Garrison and nothing occured this season worthy of notice – that he frequently as was usual went out by turns to watch the paths that was thought most likely that Indians would attampt to pass through

That on the first of April in the year 1780 he entered the servis under Capt Hamilton and served untill the first of September of the same year – and was stationed as before in Hamiltons Garrison that he recollects in the Spring of this year of going in company with William Morris Thos. Upton and James Strond and that they met with a party of 7 or 8 Indians who was making their way into the settlement that they fired at each other when the Indians soon retreated without doing any damage with the exceptions of wounding Strond – he in company with his companions returned to the Garrison to apprise the Garrison of the approach of the Indians – when they give the Intelligence – himself in company with 7 or 8 others was ordered out to meet a company from the big Levels of Greenbrier to go in persuit of the Indians – the company from the Levils failed in coming on and he returned to his Garrison when he lerned the Indians had been in the neighbourhood and killed James Monday took his wife and child into captivity and after traveling about four miles killed and skelped the child [Apr 1780] – they also at this time wounded Samuel McClung

The “Big Levels” of Greenbrier. Just outside of Lewisburg, WV. The site of the Clendenin Massacre in 1763, by Cornstalk, occurred towards the right side of this photo.

That about the first of February 1781 he was drafted for six month in Captain Wm Hamiltons Company to serve against to Indians and on the 14th of February he marched and rendezvoused on the 15th at Burnsides’ [Fort Burnside], near where Union now stands in the County of Monroe Virginia he then was marched to Fort Chisel in the County of Montgomery [Fort Chiswell now in Wythe County VA] where he was attached to the company of Captain John Henderson – John Woods was Lieutenant Andrew Hamilton Magor where they remained for some cause he never new what – they guarded a few Tories there and was sometimes told that they was to be marched against some Tories that was stationed up the New River – at one time it was said that they was to be attacked by the Tories and they went in camp prepared Bullets &c for the engagement – but no engagement took place – that the campaign was so irregularly conducted that he left them and returned home after serving only five month’s.

That again in the spring of 1782 on the first of April he volunteered and served on spying parties and in Hamilons [sic] Garrison untill the first of October under the command of the said Capt William Hamilton That he recollects in this year that he went on a spying campaign in company with Lenard Cooper John Shoemate Jesse and John Aursbourn[?] John Griffee Isaac Fisher [pension application S39524] and James Claypale that they left Hamiltons Fort and traveld along what was then called Lewis’es Campaign why that was the rout that General [Andrew] Lewis had marched his troops from Greenbrier to the Battle of the Point fought against the Indians at the mouth of the Greate Kanahawa in the fall of 1774 [sic: Battle of Point Pleasant at the mouth of Kanawha River, 10 Oct 1774].

[T]hey crossed over Gauly [sic: Gauley] Mountain onto Rich Creek and down the said creek to Gauly [Gauley] River discovered some Indian sign on Rich creek came to Gauly river which was very rapid [illegible word] to cross they agreed to waid two and two together in order to support each other against the current of the water – Jessee Aursbourn and James Claypole agreed to walk in front directly they stated they was washed down by the current both lost their Guns and Aursbourn was drownedd and never seen afterwards – they then returned returned to their Garrision dureing all the period’s that he has named he was he was engaged in defence of his countary either in Garrison with an embodied Corps under competent authority or out on spying parties and followed no civil persuit and endured much of the hardships of Indian hostilities

British Musket side plate found at Byrnside’s Fort.

I shall be 77 yrs. old the 2nd day of November next – in the year 1773 I settled with my Father on Muddy creek Greenbrier county and have lived there ever since. whilst the war of the Revolution was going on, my Fathers family includeing myself and many others, were forted during the summer season & in the winter we would return to our Cabbins.

[W]hen forted it was the custom (and we always pursued it) to live pretty much in common[?] – we [illegible word] turn out all together and work [each] others corn and potatoe patches in turn – whilst we were at work, one or two would be detailed to keep a look out for the Indians – and in this way we worked and watched in turn – we always selected some one among us as a sort of leader or Captain. – I remained thus forted and thus employed during the whole war – we kept no guard at the Fort – in the Winter Spring and fall we employed ourselves in hunting wild game.

[M[y Father and my self each had a settlement right of 400 acres of land – the title to which we perfected[?] – on one occasion I was out with three other men spying on Gauley River – we were in this service for one month – I dont know by what authority we were spying but suppose by the direction of Capt Hamilton.

[I]n the year 1781 I was drafted & marched from Greenbrier County under Capt John Henderson. – 3 companies under Major Hamilton, includeing mine – went to Chissels Mountain [sic] – and from there towards Kentucky – a part of the men indeed almost all of them went on to Kentucky. – My self with two or three others did not. – we got behind the army and returned home – cant tell why we done so – we did not desert – some that went on to Kentucky got back home as soon as we did – I think I was at least three months gone in this expedition.

James Christy’s Pension Application

I’ve written about Christy before, who later became the first pastor of the historic Rehoboth Church.

We found a Methodist book belonging to him inside Byrnside’s Fort, discussed in the above post. He was also, of all the known pension applications, the individual who was garrisoned in Byrnside’s Fort the longest period of time, apparently serving there in 1774, 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, 1780 and 1781.

That he entered the Service of the United States under the following named Officers and Served as herein Stated. That he moved from the Eastern part of Augusta County in the year 1774 to Turkey Creek a tributary stream of Indian Creek now in the County of Monroe then he thinks called West Augusta and better known by the name of the Greenbriar [sic: Greenbrier] Country. That in the early part of the Indian War there was a Fort or Garrison erected on a plantation belonging to James Burnsides two miles north west from where he lived which was called Burnsides Fort. That in the early part of the year 1776 he commened the service of his Country as an Indian Spy under the Command of Captain Wright and was Stationed in Burnsides Fort. That he served in this year from the 1st of August until the 1st of November following, nothing of importance occured during this year. 

Pension Application of James Christy R1945 (and R1946); http://revwarapps.org/r1945.pdf
James Christy’s 18th century Methodist prayer book, found inside Byrnside’s Fort

That he again Forted and Scouted as an Indian Spy in the year 1777 from the 1st day of May until the 1st of November – that he was stationed in Burnsides Fort under the command of the aforesaid Captain Wright. That he does not reccollect that any thing of importance took place in the immediate neighborhood of the Fort but that the Indians were constantly prowling about through the Country and committing murders and depradations on the persons and property of the frontier setters – insomuch that the people were kept in constant alarm

That in the year 1778 he again entered the Service of his Country in Burnsides Fort on the 1st day of May and continued in Service until the 1st day of November following that he was commanded this year as before by the aforesaid Captain Wright. That as early as the 1st day of May in the year 1779 he again commenced his Services in Burnsides Fort and continued in service until the 1st of November following that he thinks it was in this year a party of Indians came into the settlement and Murdered William Bradshaws Wife the circumstances are these Bradshaw had remained at home with his Family and two of the Spys returning to Cooks Fort [on Indian Creek just below Greenville] called at his Cabbin to rest and informed him

where they had been and that they had seen no signs of Indians but not thinking a family safe in such a situation advised him to leave his Cabbin and go to the Fort but he did not concent to do so and in a few hours after the Spyes left him the House was attact by a small party of Indians and some of them firing at the door which was shut the ball penetrated through the door and lodged in the boddy of Mrs. Bradshaw and wounded her so badly that she died that night and on Bradshaws firing his gun through the door from the inner side the Indians retired without doing any farther damage. 

Rehoboth Church, two miles away from Byrnside’s Fort, where James Christy served as the first pastor of the 1786 log church.

That as early as the 1st day of May in the year 1780 he again entered the service of his Country as before in Burnsides Fort and continued in service until the 1st of November following That he was commanded as before by the aforesaid Captain Wright. That in the year 1781 he again entered the service on the 1st day of Aprile and continued in service until the 1st of November following

That between the 20th and 25th of Aprile in that year he was drafted under the command of Captain John Woods to go to New River that he served three months under Captain Woods on New River after which he was discharged and returned to Burnsides Fort. That the nature of his service was to guard the Fort and go out when commanded in pursuit of the Indians when they would make their appearance in the settlement that his companions in service was commonly Matthew Patterson and John Cantly who are long since Dead. that during the whole of the aforesaid time he was either actively engaged in scouting or in Garrison with an Imbodied Corps under the command of the aforesaid Officers and that he was not engaged in any civil pursuits during the aforesaid periods.

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