Dunmore’s War is the name given to the conflict in the Ohio Valley in the spring of 1774, culminating with the victory of Col. Andrew Lewis’s militia over the Shawnee at the Battle of Point Pleasant, October 10, 1774. This was the last military engagement of the colonial period on the western waters. It was significant in that it pacified the Indians in the Ohio Valley during the first two critical years of the Revolutionary War. The war was named for Lord Dunmore, the last colonial governor of Virginia.
The immediate cause of Dunmore’s War was the appearance of several parties of surveyors along the Ohio River, who answered the call of Col. William Preston, surveyor of Fincastle County, Virginia, to meet his deputies at the mouth of the Kanawha River on April 14 and begin establishing the location of military bounty claims in Kentucky. Several skirmishes followed, highlighted by the treacherous murder on April 30 of relatives of the Mingo Chief Logan, who had previously followed a peaceful course. The Ohio tribes declared open warfare as a result of this unfortunate incident.
Governor Dunmore then assembled two armies to proceed from different directions, advance up the Hocking River in present Ohio, and attack the Shawnee villages on the Pickaway Plains. The northern army, made up of militia from Berkeley, Hampshire, and Frederick counties and commanded by the governor himself, proceeded to Fort Dunmore (Pittsburgh), then down the Ohio River, where he planned to meet the other army at the mouth of the Hocking. The southern army, led by Colonel Lewis, was composed of militia from Augusta, Botetourt, and Fincastle counties. It assembled at Camp Union (Lewisburg) in the Greenbrier Valley and journeyed down the Kanawha River to its mouth at Point Pleasant, arriving there on October 6. Each army was composed of approximately 1,000 men.
The Shawnee under Cornstalk attacked Lewis’s force on October 10 at Point Pleasant, but by early afternoon the Indians were defeated. Cornstalk ordered a retreat and his men returned across the Ohio to their villages. In the meantime Governor Dunmore, unaware of the battle, ascended the Hocking River and made camp near the Shawnee towns. There he quickly negotiated the Treaty of Camp Charlotte with the Shawnee, guaranteeing the return of prisoners, horses, and property, and an end to hunting by Indians south of the Ohio. The settlement was formalized at Pittsburgh in 1775 by representatives of all the major Ohio tribes. The Indians were thus subdued until the murder of Cornstalk at Fort Randolph in November 1777, gaining valuable time for frontier patriots during the early years of the Revolutionary War.
This Article was written by Philip Sturm
Last Revised on November 07, 2010
Rice, Otis K. & Stephen W. Brown. West Virginia: A History. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1993.
Lewis, Virgil A. History of the Battle of Point Pleasant. Charleston: Tribune Printing, 1909, Reprint, C. J. Carrier Co., 1974.
Thwaites, Reuben Gold & Louise Phelps Kellogg. Documentary History of Dunmore's War, 1774. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society, 1905.
Cite This Article
Sturm, Philip "Dunmore’s War." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 07 November 2010. Web. 26 October 2016.