REPORT OF THE COMMISSION TO LOCATE THE SITE OF THE FRONTIER FORTS OF PENNSYLVANIA.
CLARENCE M. BUSCH.
STATE PRINTER OF PENNSYLVANIA.
THE FRONTIER FORTS OF WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA.
Mention is frequently made of Carnahan's Blockhouse, especially during the latter part of the Revolution, although it was in existence much earlier. This blockhouse was erected on the land of Adam Carnahan, and the tract of land is now known as the William McCauley farm, from the name of its late owner, in Bell township, a short distance northeast of Perryville, about two miles from the Kiskiminetas river. This point was near eleven miles northwest of Hannastown. Not far from this locality is the place known as Old Town, otherwise Kiskiminetas Old Town, in ancient times an Indian village.
It was within the limits of what is now Westmoreland, and at that time on the frontier. The earliest mention of it indicates that it was a conspicuous place in the neighborhood. Dr. Lyman C. Draper, who collected much early history from personal interviews with those who could give him direct and positive information, devoted much time with the patience and persistency of a confirmed antiquary to the object of securing his material at first hands. His collection of facts and statements on the subject of the Indian wars of this frontier was made about the year 1846, he intending to use this data in a History of the Pioneers. His manuscripts, a voluminous bulk not yet properly arranged or indexed, are in the possession of the Wisconsin Historical Society, and are designated "The Draper MSS." From them, by the courtesy of the Hon. Reuben G. Thwaites, Librarian, we extract the following:
"Adam Carnahan's Blockhouse was located about a mile south of the Kiskiminetas, and about six miles below the mouth of the Conemaugh. A party of six or seven men, my informant [James Chambers] one of the number, were in August, 1777, engaged in reaping oats six miles from Carnahan's, and one of the men had taken his gun and wounded a deer, and while hunting for it in the woods adjoining the oat held he discovered an Indian and signs of others. He immediately gave notice to the reapers, and they thought it prudent to leave and notify the people; took the guns which they had with them, and went to John McKibben's where Fort Hand was made the ensuing winter and where several families had collected for safety in McKibben's large log house. The intelligence was sent to Carnahan's. Next day, which was Saturday, a party went out from McKibben's to scout, and in the neighborhood of the oat field found the signs plenty, and the spot near the field where the Indians had the day before secreted themselves. That day the Indians plundered several cabinsMr. Chambers for onewhich had been deserted by the occupant and property left behind. That afternoon Robt. Taylor and David Carnahan went from Carnahan's Blockhouse to McKibben's to learn what intelligence they could of the Indians, and when they were returning and had nearly reached the blockhouse they espied several Indians some distance from them making for Carnahan'sand the two men dashed there in great haste, got there a few minutes before the Indians, and had the doors made fast, etc. It was now towards night. The Indians proved to be fourteen in number. There were but few men in the blockhouse, some being absent. John Carnahan opened the door and stepped out to get a good shot and was instantly shot and fell into the door. His body was dragged in and the door again fastened. The firing now briskly commenced and continued until dark, when the Indians decamped taking with them a couple of horses, probably to aid in carrying their wounded."
Carnahan's, as we have seen, became a regular station and a place of more importance after the garrison had been withdrawn from Fort Hand and placed along the line of the Allegheny river. Brodhead, Nov. 27th, 1779, (Archives xii, 193), ordering Lieut. John Jameson to evacuate Fort Armstrong, says that he can get some pack-horses to transport his stores if needed, from Capt. [James] Carnahan's where these horses were under his care to recover flesh. James Carnahanafterward called Colonel, and John Carnahan who was killed at the blockhouse, were sons of Adam Carnahan.
Col. Archibald Lochry's force, which was intended to join Gen. Clark and take part in his expedition against the Indians in the northwest, rendezvoused at Carnahan's blockhouse July 24, 1781. From here they left for Wheeling, but on arriving there they found that Clark had gone twelve miles down the river, (from Wheeling the point at which they expected to join him,) leaving for them some provisions and a traveling boat, with directions to follow him thither. There were about 120 men of Westmoreland with Lochry. This force failing to join Clark, who still continued to precede them, was decoyed into an ambush and cut off to a manall being either killed or taken prisoners. Their terrible fate is one of the most distressing episodes in the history of Western Pennsylvania.
Col. Edward Cook, who had succeeded Col. Lochry as County Lieutenant, writes to Gen. Irvine, April 8th, 1782, (Wash.-Irv. Cor, 323): "I must request you to furnish those militia with arms, such of them as want that article, likewise ammunition. It will be necessary to send those to Carnahan's blockhouse in order to scout toward Ligonier, etc., where I expect they will be joined by a draft from the north side of the Youghiogheny."
On the 18th of April, 1782, Cook writes to Irvine: "Last Thursday, the draft from the battalion in which I live (being the second) set out for their place of rendezvous at Widow Myres'. They consist of about fifty men. I cannot tell whether the other company at Carnahan's blockhouse is complete, but I have ordered Captain [Joseph] Beckett, who commands this draft, to detach from his so as to make them complete. I have instructed him in the mode of defense agreeable to the arrangement. I furnished them with ammunition and expect they will obtain arms from those they relieve sufficient to equip them. Capt. Beckett will take the first opportunity to give you a return of those under his command. I was not at home when the drafts from the fourth or upper battalion went along being at court. I left orders for them to proceed to Carnahan's blockhouse. Col. [John] Pumroy of the first battalion [of Westmoreland county militia] is near Hannastown." (Id., 324.)
John Carnahan (said by the Carnahan family to have been a brother of James Carnahan and both sons of Adam Carnahan), "was killed just outside the blockhouse, and was buried not more than twenty rods from there, and the spot of ground has never been broken. The ground where he is buried is surrounded by timber." [MS. Mr. L. Carnahan, Sauna, Pa.]
Remarks: Old Town. This was the site of an old Indian town, and was located on the banks of the Kiskiminetas opposite the present site of Saltsburg, Indiana county, some distance below the junction of the Loyalhanna. It was on the path which was a fork of the Kittanning Path. In Conrad Weiser's Journal for Aug. 25, 1778, is this entry"Crossed Kiskeminetoes creek and came to Ohio [Allegheny] river that day." Mr. Smith in his History of Armstrong county, p. 157, commenting on this says: "The point where they crossed the Kiskiminetas must have been at the ford just below the mouth of Carnahan's (formerly Old Town) Run, having the latter name on Reading Howell's Map, so called from Old Town, on the opposite or Westmoreland side of the river. That must have been the town mentioned in Post's Second Journal, for Nov. 11th, 1758. Traveling on the path from Loyalhanna he says: "Pisquetomen [a friendly Indian with him), led us upon a steep hill, that our horses could hardly get up; and Thomas Hickman's [another Indian with him] horse tumbled, and rolled down the hill like a wheel; on which he grew angry, and would go no further with us and said, he would go by himself. It happened we found a path on the top of the hill. At three o'clock we came to Kiskemeneco, an old Indian town, a rich bottom, well timbered, good fine English grass, well watered, and lays waste since the war began."
Mr. Smith thus says further: "The writer infers that Kiskemeneco must have been Old Town, from which the first name of Carnahan's run was derived, and that Weiser and his party crossed the Kiskiminetas at the ford just below the mouth of that run. According to the recollection of Phillip Mechling, who was, in his boyhood, familiar with the Kiskiminetas from Livermore to the Allegheny, that was the only ford between Kelly's, near Livermore, and the junction of those two rivers. In some old deeds, land about Leechburg is mentioned as being a mile or so below "Old Town."
On the meadow lands of this bottom the old and worn pack horses were sent to regain strength. This is sometimes mentioned in connection with Carnahan's Blockhouse and Old Town. (Arch. xii, 253, et seq.)
James Carnahan went out as second lieutenant with Captain Joseph Erwin's Company, raised in Westmoreland county, joined the Penna. Rifle Regiment, Col. Samuel Miles, at Marcus Hook. This company was subsequently included in the Thirteenth Penna. Regiment, then in the Second, and finally discharged at Valley Forge, Jan. 1, 1778, by reason of expiration of term of enlistment. He was made first lieutenant; was missing since the battle, Aug. 27th, 1776; upon release he reported to headquarters in Dec. 1776, and served as a volunteer at Trenton and Princeton; promoted first lieutenant in Eighth Penna., on Jan. 15th, 1777. Was in command of the company Mar. 1st, 1777. His services on the frontier and at the various posts along the Allegheny river were continued until the end of the War.
In the autumn of 1777, as we have seen, the border settlements were overrun by scalping parties. Many of these parties coming from eastern Ohio were known to cross the Allegheny river at a shallow place used by them as a fording. This point was about sixteen miles northward from Pittsburgh; and it was too remote from the posts at Kittanning or Fort Pitt to be guarded successfully by the military. It was therefore deemed necessary to erect a fort to cover this pathway, and to serve as a rallying point for scouts, as well as to afford protection to troops who were intended to garrison it. In the spring of 1778 as the inroads of the savages seemed to increase, one of the first duties assigned Colonel William Crawford, who in May of 1778 took command of the Virginia regiment station in the Western Department, was the building of this fort. General McIntosh was then in command of the department with headquarters at Fort Pitt. Colonel Crawford, taking with him a small party of men went up the river to determine the most eligible site for the post, and to begin its erection. The place agreed upon was on the southeastern, or Fort Pitt side of the Allegheny river, a short distance above the mouth of Puckety creek. There a stockade was built, which, by direction of Brigadier General McIntosh, was called Fort Crawford. Colonel Crawford commanded here at intervals during the years 1778, 79 and 80. (1.)
From this time on to the close of the Revolutionary war, Fort Crawford was kept up as a depot and distributing place of supplies and munitions of war for the military; as a place of refuge for the surrounding inhabitants; of resort and as headquarters for scouts, and as post garrisoned by the continental soldiers under the General Commanding in the department, or by independent companies of militia who were called out by the County Lieutenant for short service. It served all the purposes of a frontier stockade fort.
Colonel Crawford at intervals during the year 1778, and the two following years, commanded at that post. When Colonel Brodhead succeeding McIntosh took command of the Western Department, his first order, April 13th, 1779, was to direct Lieutenant Lawrence Harrison of the Thirteenth Virginia Regiment to take a detachment from Fort Pitt to occupy Fort Crawford, then vacant. The soldiers were then instructed to scout on the waters of the Allegheny, as well as on Puckety creek and upon the Kiskiminetas as far as Fort Hand, in order to protect thereby, as much as possible, the exposed settlements, to the eastward of Pittsburgh. (2.)
Captain Samuel Moorehead who was in command of a company stationed here resigned in June, 1779, and the command of his company was turned over to James Carnahan, a subordinate officer, who had been recommended by Moorhead [sp?] for the vacancy. The company at that time contained only seventeen men. (3.)
Under date June 25th, 1779, Col. Brodhead reports that "Captain Brady with twenty white men and one young Delaware chief (all well painted) set out toward the Seneca country and some of the Indian warriors came in to the inhabitants. They killed a soldier between Forts Crawford and Hand, and proceeded towards the Sewickley settlement where they killed a woman and four children, and took two children prisoners. (4.)
Ensign Coleman commanded at Fort Crawford, July 19th, 1779, as on that date Col. Brodhead writes him a letter that he hoped Capt. Brady had fallen in with the party of Indians which Coleman's men had discovered and which the Ensign had reported. Brady had discovered their tracks and was after them.
Oct. 2d, 1779, the following orders were issued to Capt. Thomas Campbell by Col. Brodhead:
"On receipt hereof you are immediately to march your company with all your stores from Fort Hand to Fort Crawford, which post you are to garrison until further ordersCaptain Erwin will be ordered to Kittanning, and I will order you a sufficient quantity of provisions. You are to send me an exact return of your company, accounting for all absentees, and sick present. You will keep out scouts daily between your garrison and the Kiskamanitis creek, and between your post and Fort Pitt; and upon any discovery of the enemy or their tracks, you are immediately to send an express to me, with proper intelligence. Your officers and men must be kept strictly to their duty, and not suffered to straggle from the fort. I wish you may find your new post more agreeable than Fort Hand, and heartily wish you success." (5.)
Within a few days of the order to Capt. Campbell, Col. Brodhead sent a quantity of salt pork to Fort Crawford, and at the same time ordered another quantity to Fort Armstrong, (Kitanning), and as Campbell had not yet arrived at this post, the whole of the pork was taken to Fort Armstrong; (6), at which place he was directed, Oct. 16th, 1779, to get his supplies. In the letter acquainting Campbell of this circumstance, Brodhead wishes that it was in his power to supply "your men with blankets and shoes; I have wrote to the President and Council for them, which I expect will be forwarded, and if I had been made acquainted with the terms on which they are engaged perhaps I could now furnish some shoes, but neither, the Council or Board of War have yet informed me a word about them." Campbell had evidently felt the need of a suitable barracks for his men, and had doubtless so written to the Colonel, for in the same letter to Campbell from which we have quoted, it is added further that "when you come to headquarters I will consider the propriety of building barracks for your company." (7.)
Nov. 4th, 1779, Colonel Brodhead in a letter to Campbell approves of his sending scouts up and down the river in the manner mentioned by him, and he advises that the practice should be invariably pursued. He thinks, however, that the Captain had better not build any barracks at the station as yet, it being uncertain whether his continuance there would be so long as to render it necessary. In the meantime he sends him two kegs of whiskey, and twenty pounds of soap, which were to be issued sparingly to the men, and only at such times as they appeared to really stand in need. The Captain was also directed to send a small party, soon as possible, to Pittsburgh, to drive some live cattle for the use of the garrison. (8.)
Nov. 20th, 1779, a request from Capt. Campbell for pack horses was thought by Col. Brodhead to be unnecessary for the reason that "the season is now in which the river never fails to rise sufficiently for transporting provisions, or anything between your post and Fort Armstrong. I have sent you three head of cattle, and two-horse load of flour to answer your present necessity, and hope you will endeavor to find those which are lost. I expected that the two kegs of liquor which I sent you the 4th inst., would have lasted your men considerably longer; nor can I comply with your requisitions for a further supply at present, as I expect to have occasion to make use of the stock on hand in a matter of more absolute necessity." In a post script to this letter, the Colonel adds: "Please send down to this place one subaltern officer, one sergeant, and fifteen rank and file to assist in laying in a quantity of provisions; if you have any butchers, coopers or masons, let them compose part of the number; and let any of your men that have been enlisted into the Eighth Penna. Regt. also be included in the number, and sent down as soon as possible." (9.)
Shortly after this the companies of rangers which had been stationed at Kittanning, (Fort Armstrong), and at Puckety [otherwise Pucketos] (10) (Fort Crawford), were ordered by Col. Brodhead to Fort Pitt. He gave as his reason for doing this that the terms of the men were nearly expired; that the river was soon likely to close with ice, and because he apprehended no danger from the enemy in the winter season. (11.)
November 27th, 1779, orders were issued from headquarters by Col. Brodhead to Capt. Campbell, which will best explain themselves. These were as follows:
"The terms for which your men were engaged being nearly expired, renders it both inconvenient to erect barracks or lay in a magazine of provisions, and as I do not apprehend any danger will ensue to the frontier by the evacuation of your post, and have no reason to expect blankets or clothing for your men, I apprehend your company can be best accommodated here where they are likewise wanted. You will therefore, on receipt hereof, evacuate Fort Crawford, and bringing off the stores of every kind march your company to headquarters. (12.)
There appears to have been some personal feeling about this time, or shortly after, between Col. Brodhead and Capt. Campbell. It would seem that one of these causes arose from the desire of Col. Brodhead to have the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment in regular service, kept up by transferring those who had enlisted in the ranging companies into the regiment to serve out their time. This was resisted by the County Lieutenant, Lochry, who evidently sided with Campbell. It was also the opinion of Lochry and others that it was of the utmost importance to have this post constantly garrisoned. Campbell was sent to the Council of Safety with letters from Lochry and others, to lay their complaint before that body. President Reed in his letter to Col. Brodhead, throws some light on the contention. (13.)
Fort Crawford, as well as Fort Armstrong, was thus evacuated late in 1779, but both the posts were garrisoned in the spring of 1780.
On April 2d, 1780, Col. Lochry, the Lieutenant of Westmoreland, was directed by Brodhead to order out from the militia of the county, sixty able bodied, rank and file, and a proportionate number of commissioned and non-commissioned officers. A proper rendezvous was to be fixed upon, where a small quantity of provisions was to be laid up by the commissaries, and the men equipped with all possible expedition. One-third of the above number was to be detached to take post at Fort Crawford, one-third at Fort Armstrong, and the remaining third part was to go to the forks of Black Legs where the officer was to make choice of a commanding ground convenient to water, and act agreeable to such orders as they should receive from the commander. They were to be drafted for two months if not sooner discharged. This body of men with a number of regulars to support those detached to Fort Armstrong, the Colonel commanding hoped would give sufficient countenance and protection to the inhabitants of the county, (Westmoreland.) (14.)
May 6th, 1780, Brodhead, upon receiving news by express from Captain Thomas Beal, who was then in command at Fort Crawford, that a number of Indian warriors had been discovered opposite the fort, wrote him that, in order to discover their number and where they came from, he had sent two Indians with Billy Brady to gather information. But if the alarm should prove false, or if the Westmoreland militia under Guthrie, whom it was reported Captain Beal had sent for, should arrive, then the Captain was to proceed immediately to Fort Armstrong. (15.)
In the latter part of the summer of 1780, various detachments and companies of rangers were at different times at Fort Crawford. Capt. James Carnahan was probably here as well as at Fort Hand. Capt. Thomas Stokely having asked for supplies for his company, was answered by Brodhead, August 3rd, 1780, (16) that he had no provisions for the garrison at Fort Pitt, except what he seized. He was referred to Col. Lochry to learn whether any State Commissary was employed to furnish provisions for the militia in service; and if he received a negative answer then he was directed immediately to march his garrison headquarters to Fort Pitt, bringing with him all the stores belonging to The United States, and assist in foraging until a sufficient supply of provisions was served, "when you can again take your station at Fort Crawford. When it is known whether you continue or not, I will upon future application afford you any necessary stores you may stand in need of. If you want craft for transporting the public stores, send a party for it."
The garrisons, so far as they were under Colonel Brodhead, were seemingly withdrawn, but on the 19th of August, 1780, Brodhead in a letter to Colonel Lochry, says that the Monongahela is rising a little, and he hopes it will be speedily in his power to return the garrison of Armstrong and Crawford to their stations. (17.)
This post and fort were heard of from time to time until the close of the Revolutionary War, during which time its relative position was such as might be inferred from the foregoing account. From the Revolution nothing is heard of this station until the Indian troubles of 1791-'93. During this period it was suggested at one time that a company of State Militia to range from Fort McIntosh (Beaver) to Fort Crawford at the head of Pine run, a distance estimated at about thirty-three miles, would afford protection to that part of southwestern Pennsylvania, which had been in earlier times on the route of the Indians in their incursions from beyond the Allegheny. (18.)
The structure itself was one of those stockades which required constant care and attention to keep in repair, and which when abandoned even temporarily soon fell into decay. It was similar in design to Fort Armstrong (Kittanning). (19.) Being intended for a garrison, it was partly fitted up with temporary barracks, as they probably might be called; but which scarcely answers the description usually given of such appurtenances. It stood a little way above the mouth of Puckety creek within now Burrell township, Westmoreland county, and near the line of the Allegheny Valley railroad, on the eastern side of the Allegheny river, on land of the heirs of Mr. J. W. Logan, dec'd, now in the borough of Parnassus. The exact location cannot be found.
Wm. Ross, Esq., Braeburn, Pa., an aged gentleman who has resided in the locality all his life, writes: "I have not found anyone who can tell anything as to the time when the last remains were seen."
Notes to Fort Crawford.
(1.) Crawford's Expedition Against Sandusky, p. 107. C. W. Butterfield.
(2.) Washington-Irvine Cor., p. 38. Butterfield.
(3.) Brodhead's Letter Book, Arch., xii, 129.
(4.) Arch., vii, 505.
(5.) Brodhead's Letter Book, Arch., xii, 160.
(6.) Brodhead's Letter Book, Arch., xii, 171.
(7.) Brodhead's Letter Book, Arch., xii, 172.
(8.) Brodhead's Letter Book, Arch., xii, 179.
(9.) Brodhead's Letter Book, Arch., xii, 187.
(10.) Pucketo, sometimes called Pucketos, more frequently Puckety, a stream (emptying into the Allegheny from the south), corrupted from pach gita, signifying throw it away, abandon it. (Heckewelder.)
(11.) Arch., viii, 38.
(12.) Brodhead's Letter Book, Arch, xii, 194.
(13.) Arch., Viii, 109.
(14.) Brodhead's Letter Book, Arch., xii, 215.
(15.) Brodhead's Letter Book, Arch., xii, 230.
(16.) Brodhead's Letter Book, Arch., xii, 255.
(17.) Brodhead's Letter Book, Arch., xii, 257.
(18.) Letter from David Redick to Gov. Mifflin, 13th of Feb., 1792. Arch., iv, 2d Ser., p. 700-701.
(19.) Brodhead to Bayard, W..I. Cor., p. 41, n., and Brodhead's Letter Book.
From the best information at present obtainable, Wallace's Fort was erected probably as early as 1774. It contained about half an acre of ground, and had a good blockhouse within the enclosure. In case of an actual attack by the Indians, the women and children were placed in the lower story, while the men proceeded above, and used their rifles from the portholes in the walls.
The Fort was erected on the farm of Richard Wallace, who was one of the first settlers of that part of Derry township in Westmoreland county, which lay between the old Forbes road and the Conemaugh river. John Pomroy, James Wilson, William Barr, Alexander Barr and William Guthrie belonged to this settlement.
This fort was the place of resort and refuge for the inhabitants of the frontier lying north of the Old Road and east of Hannastown and Fort Hand, all through the Revolution; and particularly for those who lived along the Conemaugh river and north of that as far as settlements were made. In that direction there was no other fort and no place of harborage worth speaking of; so that in the more perilous times the people gathered together there while it was dangerous to be abroad. (1.) At some periods, particularly during the open part of 1777 and 1778 and 1780 and 81 that frontier, for the most part, was deserted. Arms and ammunition were kept here; it was a designated place for the supply of salt; and it was an objective point for the rangers. It thus was an attractive spot for the savages. In their incursions they came in mostly from beyond the Allegheny river, crossing it either above or below Fort Crawford, and frequently following the old Kittanning Path and the path which led down the Ligonier Valley (2.)
Some idea of the condition of affairs here in 1777 may be had from the Journal of Fort Preservation (Ligonier). * * * On the 4th of May, 1778, Col. John Piper, of Bedford, writes to President Wharton: "In the county of Westmoreland, at a little fort called Fort Wallace, within some sixteen or twenty miles from Fort Ligonier, there were nine men killed and one man, their captain, wounded last week, the party of Indians was very numerous, so that between Indians and the still more savage Tories, these backward counties are in real distress." (3)
It is probable this affair was the same which is spoken of in a letter from Col. Lochry to President Wharton, of date May 13th, 1778, in which is this paragraph: "On the 28th April, the Indians came into the settlement at and about Wallace's Fort, attacked 20 of our men which were reconnoitering the woods, and killed 9 of our men and wounded Capt. Hopkins slightly, and we lost nine guns" (4)
"From the time of the return of Brodhead from his expedition against the Seneca Indians to the end of the year (1779), a good degree of quietude existed along the northern frontier. Fort Armstrong and Fort Crawford were evacuated The principal points garrisoned were Wheeling Holliday's Cove (in what is now Hancock county, W Va), and Fort McIntosh, down the Ohio, Fort Pitt, at Pittsburgh, and Fort Hand, Fort Wallace and Hannastown, on the northern frontier, the two last mentioned were occupied by the ranging companies of Captains Irwin and Campbell (Thomas), whose terms of service expired during the ensuing winter. Meanwhile, Captain Moorhead's independent company, which, for nearly three years, had been doing duty on the frontiers of Westmoreland county, was removed to Fort Pitt, and made a part of the Eighth regiment." (5.)
Wallace's Fort is connected with the controversy between Col. Brodhead and Col. Lochry about the disposition of the two companies of militia under Capt. Erwin and Capt. Campbell, in the latter part of 1779. Brodhead ordered these companies to Fort Pitt upon the evacuation of Fort Armstrong (Kittanning), and Fort Crawford; but Lochry thereupon ordered them elsewhere for the immediate protection of the settlements over which he had command. Capt. Erwin was stationed at Hannastown and Capt. Campbell was ordered to Fort Wallace, upon which, he was arrested by Brodhead for disobeying his orders. Campbell addressed a letter to the Council, of which the following is a copy:
"To the Honorable Members in Council, I Beeg Leav to present a true Copy of a Letter to Col. Brodhead, Which I am aristed for, and giv som Reasons for the Warmth Expressed in my Leter. Being ordered by Col. Loughry to March my Company to fort Wallis, I then applied to Col. Brodhead for horses and provision to transport my Company to my New post. Was Refused Supplies of every kind; Likeways teen of My Men being inlisted into the 6 Pennsylvania Regt., Before the terms of their inlistments are expired. Now Wher the Discharged from My Company, the wher also Detained, and Not Sufered to March with the Company; therefore I submit My Celf to this Honourable bord." (6.)
It would appear that this fort, however, was maintained for the most part by the exertions and through the care of the surrounding inhabitants, and that the men who were kept there in the capacity of a garrison were for the most part volunteers or rangers called out for special emergencies. There is, therefore, not frequent mention made of this place in the civil or military records extant; but interest in it has been kept up by contributions of a very respectable character, which, for the most part, are founded upon direct tradition and which are corroborated by many authentic circumstances. It is true that these accounts sometimes are mistaken in the matter of dates, associating incidents of indisputable occurrence with periods of time different from the actual fact. Wherever we have changed these accounts in this particular it is where we have been warranted in doing so.
The following is on the authority of Rev. William Cunningham: (7.)
"The Indians generally made their incursions in the fall of the year. During harvest time, also, they often became very troublesome. They lurked in the woods, and cut off the unsuspecting settler when he least apprehended danger. They plowed, they reaped, rifle in hand. Major Wilson used to relate how he stood with his rifle, in his cabin door, while his wife brought water from the spring.
"On certain occasions, the 'signs' of Indians had been seen in the woods, for several days, and it was supposed that Barr's Fort would be attacked the following morning. This fort (Barr's) stood about a mile north of New Derry. While they expected an attack there, they were much surprised to hear firing at Wallace's Fort, about five miles distant. Great anxiety was felt by those at Barr's Fort for their friends at Wallace's. Major Wilson with others volunteered to go to their aid. Leaving therefore a barely sufficient force at Barr's to protect the fort, and to keep the women in heart, they started. The firing continued all the time as they approached.
"When they reached Wallace's, the little party within were engaged in hot conflict with a large number of Indians, who had made an early attack on the fort. The enemy no sooner perceived Wilson and his company than they turned upon them. There was formerly a bridge over the ravine, which is about 500 yards above the fort. Wilson, with a few of his party, had crossed this. Being compelled to retreat, he found the Indians had taken possession of the bridge. Here he was engaged hand-to-hand with them. He knocked several of them off, and thus prepared the way for himself and his friends.
"He then took his position near a large oak, on the bank beyond, and plied his rifle with deadly effect on them. But the Indians were too numerous for the little band, and they were compelled to retreat. They kept up a retreating fire all the way to Barr's Fort. About a mile from Wallace's, [Alexander?] Barr was killed. When they had nearly reached the fort, Robert Barr also fell. He was engaged with several Indians, fighting manfully with the butt of his gun. Major Wilson shot one of the Indians, who fell dead on Barr. The next instant a tomahawk was buried in Barr's skull.
"Shortly after this an alarm was again given of the approach of Indians. All in the vicinity of Wallace's Fort fled to it. Major Wilson happened to be among them. A man named Reddick when seeking the fort, was attacked by a party who had concealed themselves under the bridge afore mentioned, but he was fortunate to make good his escape to the fort. It was supposed that the Indians were few in number, and Major Wilson, with characteristic bravery, proposed to attack them with a small party.
"Taking some six or eight men, he pursued, and in a short time came up with them. They were found lying in the grass, on the top of what is known as Culbertson's Hill, about a mile from the fort, on the farm now belonging to John Stouffer. The Indians immediately fired. The band of Indians was much larger than they supposed, and Wilson and his party, with the Indians in pursuit, made for the fort.
"Loading and firing as they ran, they supposed they had killed several, but never certainly ascertained. These are a few of the many instances which occurred around the old fort, and give us some idea of the scenes through which the settlers of the regions were called to pass."
In a biographical sketch of the Rev. James Finley, by the Rev. Joseph Smith, D. D., published in Old Redstone, mention is made of this fort. (8.) It would appear that in 1772 Mr. Finley came over the mountains for his ministrations here. This was his third trip, and he brought with him his son Ebenezer, then a lad of fourteen years of age, whom he placed on a farm that he had purchased in Fayette county, in the bounds of Dunlap's creek congregation.
"This son, about three or four years after, had a perilous adventure with the Indians at Fort Wallace. This place is supposed to have been in or near the bounds of Salem congregation, not far from the Kiskiminetas. Young Finley had gone from Dunlap's creek on a short tour of militia duty to this, then, frontier settlement, in place of Samuel Finley, who then lived with him, though not a relative. While this young man was in the fort, tidings were brought by a man on horseback in breathless haste, that Indians had made their appearance at a little distance; that he had left two men and a woman on foot trying to make their way to the fort; and that, unless immediately rescued or protected they would be lost. Some 18 or 20 men, and, along with them, young Finley, started immediately for their rescue. About a mile and a half from the fort, they came unexpectedly upon a considerable force of savages. They were, for a while, in the midst of them. A sharp fire began immediately, and a zig-zag, running fight took place. Our people making their way back toward the fort, numbers of them were shot down or tomahawked. Finley's gun would not "go off." He stopped for a moment to pick his flint, and fell behind. An Indian was seen leveling his gun at him, but was fortunately shot down at the moment. Being fleet of foot, he soon was abreast of one of his companions; and, in passing round the root of a tree, by a quick motion of his elbow against his companion's shoulder, succeeded in passing him, when, the next moment, his comrade sunk under the stroke of a tomahawk. A Mr. Moore, seeing Finley's imminent danger from a bridge on which he stood, stopped, and by his well directed fire, again protected him, and enabled him to pass the bridge. At last, after several doublings and turnings, the Indians being sometimes both in the rear and ahead of him, he reached the fort in safety." (9)
In a sketch of the life of Randall Laughlin, the particulars of which were obtained from his immediate family, we learn that he came to this country from Ireland when a young man, probably about the year 1770, that he arrived in this section prior to the Revolutionary War; purchased the improvement right to a large tract of land lying partly in Blacklick and partly in Centre townships (Indiana county), on which a small quantity of ground had been cleared; that he remained for a while, built a cabin and otherwise increased his improvement; after which he returned to Franklin county, where he had formerly lived a short time.
"Some time in the winter of 1777, he was married, and the next spring came back to his farm, intending to remain here permanently. But he was sadly disappointed. Some time in the spring or summer, owing to the presence of hostile Indians in the neighborhood who were prowling about in all directions, but more especially in the north, he with his wife went to Wallace's Fort, a short distance south of Blairsville, where a number of persons were congregated.
"During their stay at Wallace's, the farmers went out occasionally to the different farms in small parties, always armed with their rifles, and prepared to meet the savage foe. His horses having strayed away from the fort, and supposing that they had returned to the farm, Laughlin, accompanied by Charles Campbell, Dixon, John Gibson and his brother went in search of them.
"While the party were in Laughlin's cabin preparing some dinner, they were surrounded by a number of Indians led by a Frenchman, and summoned to surrender, the leader telling them if they would submit none of them should be injured, but in case they resisted, their bodies should be burned up with the cabin. After consultation, it was resolved to surrender. They were permitted to write a statement on the cabin door, of what had happened, and assure their friends that they all expected to escape death, and return home again. (10.)
The captives were next marched off, well guarded by the Indians. They were taken to Detroit by way of Sandusky and thence to Montreal, thence to Quebec. After being exchanged, Laughlin, Charles Campbell and John Gibson returned to their homes, but two of their companions died on the way. Charles Campbell, who is spoken of above, was Colonel Charles Campbell, a very prominent officer of the rangers; he was a sub-lieutenant of the county at the time, and later, succeeded Edward Cook as the county lieutenant. In later life he was well known as Gen. Campbell. These men were taken prisoners at the time when the British Gov. of Detroit, Hamilton, was by the Tory agents and renegade whites, scattering proclamations and offering inducements to all those who should leave the service of the colonies and join that of the King. At the time Campbell was taken, these proclamations were found at the cabin in which the above party were captured. Col. Campbell kept a journal of his travels during the period of his captivity, which was lately in existence. From it, it seems, they began their journey on Thursday, the 25th of Sept., 1777, and on the 14th of Sept., 1778, they came in sight of Cape Ann, and got into Boston Harbor that night. From Boston, Campbell traveled to Pennsylvania, sometimes afoot and sometimes riding in a vehicle, being about six weeks on the route.
Various accounts have been told of Richard Wallace, identified with this fort, touching his captivity among the Indians. The most of these are traceable to verbal representations; and while in substance, the published ones are mainly correct, yet they differ in the time in which the capture should have occurred. It is altogether probable that it had its origin in the following state of facts: When Colonel Lochry, Lieutenant of the county, led out a company to join Gen. Clark in the summer of 1781, in his expedition against Detroit, as contemplated, Lochry's s command were assailed, surprised and surrounded when they had landed at the mouth of a small creek on the Ohio river, to this day called Lochry's creek. Lochry's force were all either killed or taken prisoners. Richard Wallace accompanied him as Quartermaster to his command. In a memorial directed to President Moore, endorsed July 3d, 1782, subscribed by Isaac Anderson, Lieut. of Capt. Shearer's company of rangers, and Richard Wallace, late Quartermaster to Col. Lochry, it was represented that "they had the misfortune to be made prisoners by the Indians on the 24th of August last and carried to Montreal, and there kept in close confinement till the 26th of May last, when they were so fortunate as to make their escape, and after a long and fatiguing march through the wilderness, they got to the city [Philadelphia] yesterday at 3 o'clock." They further represented that they were then destitute of money and clothes, without which they could not get home, wherefore they prayed the Governor and Council to take their case into consideration, and order them their pay from the time they were made prisoners to then; saying that they were under the command of Col. Lochry when taken, and that they had a list of these, both officers and privates, who were then prisoners of that party, together with such information as was in their power. (11.)
Col. Lochry to Col. Brodhead, April 2d, 1781: "I am just returned from burying a man killed and scalped by the Indians at Col. Pomroy's house, one other man is missing and all Pomroy's effects carried off. I have been attempting to get some militia to cover our frontier until some other succor arrives, which I hope will be soon. I am afraid from the disposition of the people you have little to expect from us." He here refers to the prospect of raising the volunteers for a projected expedition against the Indians. (12.)
The fort was still used when circumstances demanded. After the peace of 1783 it was rarely resorted to. It fell gradually into decay until the stockade walls, the monuments of troublous times in which they were built, had finally disappeared. Not a vestige now remains.
"This fort was a stockade enclosing half an acre or more. It stood on the hill a little west of the brick house, now occupied by Samuel Dixon and covered the mill and spring of water west of the brick house. The stockade on the side next the mill (for there was a flouring mill there then about where the present one stands) was about 60 yards distant, and on the high ground above McGee's run, which propels the mill. The mill and spring were both within rifle-range of the fort." (13.)
The site of Wallace's fort with regard to present surroundings, was on a rising ground running northward and southward, on something of an abrupt bank, the second rise above McGee's run, about a mile south from the Conemaugh, and one and a half miles from Blairsville. The spring which was enclosed within the stockade walls is still there. There is a mill on the old mill site of Wallace's Mill, which was within a stone's throw of the fort. The present farm house, occupied by W. T. McFarland, whose wife, the daughter of Samuel Barr, dec'd, is the owner of the premises, is about one hundred yards north of the old fort.
Notes to Fort Wallace.
(1.) St. Clair in his letter to Gov. Penn, June 12th, 1774 ,referred to elsewhere says that "All that great country between that Road (Forbes Road) and that River (Allegheny), being totally abandoned, except a few who are associated with the people who murdered the Indian (Joseph Wipey), and are shut up in a small Fort on Connymack (Conemaugh), equally afraid of the Indians and officers of Justice." * * * * There can he no doubt that he means Wallace's Fort.
"It became necessary to erect defences against Indian hostility, and two forts, as they were called, were built; one at Barr's, called Barrs Fort, on the farm occupied by Wm. Gibson (now Calvin Gilson); the other at Wallace's, called Wallace's Fort. They were stockades similar to those ordinarily erected against the Indians, and about five miles apart. After their erection, guard was kept in each, and in prospect of danger, the women and children were placed there for protection." [Greensburg Herald. Contribution by Richard McCabe, Esq.]
(2.) Some cabins were fitted temporarily as places of defence. It is said that George Findley's cabin, north of the Conemaugh, was so fitted. [Hist. Indiana Co.]
(3.) Arch., vi. 469.
(4.) Arch., vi, 495.
(5.) Wash.-Irvine Cor., 46.
(6.) Arch., viii, 36. Arch., viii, 106.
(7.) Hist. of the Cunningham family. Mr. Cunningham drew largely upon the contributions which were furnished to various journals, at different times, some of these as early as 1810,by Richard B. McCabe. Esq., and Jonathan Bow, Esq. Indiana Register, 1859)both excellent authorities. He also made use of the traditionary accounts furnished him from the family of the Wallaces, and others with whom he was related.
Major (at a later period frequently called Colonel), James Wilson, was one of the most conspicuous leaders in that section during the Indians troubles before and during the Revolution.
(8.) Old Redstone; or, Historical Sketches of Western Presbyterianism, its Early Ministers, its Perilous Times, and its First Records, by J0s. Smith, D. D., Phila.: 1854, p. 284.
(9.) The narrative continues: "But the most extraordinary part of this matter remains to be told. Mr. Finley, the father, then at home, east of the mountains, 300 miles off, had, as he thought, one day, a strange and unaccountable impression that his son was in imminent danger of some kind, but no distinct conception of its nature or cause. He betook himself to intense and agonizing prayer for his son; continued in this exercise for some time; felt at length relieved and comforted, as though the danger was passed. It was altogether to himself an extraordinary thing; such as he had never before experienced. He made a note of the time. A few weeks afterward, he received from his son, upon his return to his father's, an account of his narrow escape from death. The time precisely corresponded with the time of Mr. Finley's strange experience. This is the substance of the statement we have received. Its accuracy, in its most essential features, may be fully relied on. What shall we say of it? Mr. Finley was a man of most scrupulous veracity. We leave the simple statement of the case to the reflections of the reader." Id.
(10.) Note to "Randall Laughlin"Hist. Indiana Co., p. 140. Jonathan Row in Indiana Register, 1859. * * * * John Pomroy was one of the five commissioners appointed by the Assembly in 1785 to locate a county seat for the county of Westmoreland, whose labors resulted in the selection of Greensburg. * * * * The mention of "Frenchmen" accompanying these Indian parties about this period arose from the fact that the French Canadians were largely in the service of the British Governor of Detroit.
Query.Did Campbell hold out any inducement to his captors that he would accept a commission? It is probable he did, as their treatment of him can he explained in no other reasonable way. He might have done so without any question as to his integrity. He did good service after his return; was County-Lieutenant after Edward Cook, as stated; and is addressed as Colonel and General in 1791-4. 2d Arch., iv..
Lieutenant Lochry to President Wharton, on the 4th Nov., 1777, says: "Lieut. Col. Charles Campble and four other persons are made prisoners on the waters of Blacklegs creek; four other men killed and scalped near the same place; one man kill'd near Wallace's Fort on Connomouch." * * * * Archives, v, 741. See notes to Journal kept during the erection of Fort Ligonier, or "Fort Preservation."
(11.) Rec., xiii, 325, et seq. See compensation allowed them at that date.
(12.) Arch., ix, 51.
(13.) The Cunningham Family.
The tract of land upon which Barr's Fort was built, was located on April 3d, 1769the day upon which the land office was openedwarranted and granted to Robert Barr, for whom it was surveyed in 1789. At the time of the location, the parties adjoining were Herman Gertson, James Fulton, James Eaton and others, among whom was James Barr, Esq. In 1796, Thomas Barr, eldest son of Robert Barr, deceased, conveyed to William Gilson, then late of Cumberland county, Pa., from whom it has descended to his great grandson, Calvin Gilson, the present owner and occupier. The grandfather of Mr. Gilson was born in the blockhouse.
This fort, originally the house of the early Barr, but later a stockade fort, was in the Derry settlement, where the Barrs, the Wallaces, George Findley, John Pomroy, James Guthrie, and others settled very earlymost of them before the opening of the land office (1769). Col. John Pomroy's (Pumroy) wife was Isabella Barr, daughter of the elder Barr and sister of James and Alexander. The graveyard in this place contains, besides the grave of Major James Wilson, one of the most conspicuous men of the settlement, many other settlers, and is supposed to be, and doubtless is, the oldest burying-place in that section.
About five or six miles towards the Conemaugh was Wallace's Fort; Shields' Blockhouse was three or four miles away toward the southward, on the Loyalhanna. Events and incidents connected with Fort Barr are mentioned in the account of Wallace's Fort. The site is about a mile from Now Derry village, and a little over two miles from Derry Station on the Penn'a Railroad, and in Derry township, Westmoreland county.
A stockade fort was erected here early, and was used throughout the Revolution. The area inclosed by the stockade was near one-half an acre, and included a spring, still in use. It is likely that within the stockade there were other cabins and accommodations adequate for those who here, for irregular periods, sought shelter with their families and effects. The blockhouse, which is habitually designated as "the fort" by those who speak of it, was at the northeast angle of the stockade, and the garden of Mr. Calvin Gilson, the present owner, marks its location. This stockade fort is in some places called Gilson's Fort, from the name of the succeeding owner from the Barrs; but Mr. Gilson, the elder, did not acquire title until after the border wars were over.
The stockade at Barr's was built, as said, probably very early in the Revolution, and the original house might have been used as a stronghouse as early as 1768. It was not so exposed in its situation on the frontier as was Wallace's Fart, but it was part of the Derry settlement, and the two forts were so near each other as to be mostly the common object of molestation. They were about five or six miles apart; and it would seem that during those times a series of danger signals was adopted by which alarms were given from one of the posts to the other, and to settlers around. The intervening land rises and falls in hills and valleys, so that shouts or gun-shots fired in quick succession could be recognized, and the tidings carried very rapidly.
During the Revolution the inhabitants surrounding this fort fled to it frequently. Mention is often made of these circumstances but not in a connected way, for as the fort was purely a settler's fort, it has little written history. It, however, served its purpose well. On one occasion a party under Major Wilson had left Barr's Fort, for Wallace's Fort then surrounded by savages, but were compelled to return to Barr's, on which occasion oneat leastof the Barrs, Alexander, was killed before he got back; and it has been long asserted, and not contradicted, that two of them fell on that occasion, as related in the mention of Wallace's Fort.
Supplies of salt were distributed to this point for the inhabitants thereabout, of which circumstances there are various notices; one mentioned in the Journal of the building of Fort Preservation, now (Ligonier), in 1777.
Col. Cook, Lieutenant of the county, August 8th, 1782, issued the following order to Lieutenant Richard Johnson: "You are to proceed with the militia under your command to Myre's Station where you will receive arms and ammunition either there or by applying either through the field officer or in person to the general. You will have to detach a few men to Rayburn's, Waltour's and Fort Barr. I cannot inform you of the number necessary to each. You will be directed by the strength of your party or the number you can spare; and in this matter you will consult the field officer who superintends the different stations." (Wash.-Irvine Correspondence, 330.)
Michael Huffnagle in a letter to Gen. Irvine from Hannastown, July 17th, 1782, after the attack on that place, says: "I am much afraid that the scouting parties stationed at the different posts have not done their duty. We discover where the enemy had encamped and they must have been there for at least about ten days, as they had killed several horses and eat them about six miles from Brush Run and right on the way towards Barr's Fort" (Wash.-Irv. Cor., 383)
The memory of the trials and troubles of the settlers about Barr's Fort during the pioneer period, lingered long in the Derry settlement; and traditions of the place were carried by the descendants of the first settlers to remote parts. Very little, however has been available to us of an authentic character, beyond the references here given and the corroborating circumstances which naturally follow on the line of inquiry which these references suggest.
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