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The latter half of 1777 was a time of bloody conflict between settlers and Indians in the Ohio Valley. On August 31, about 350 Indian warriors aligned themselves with the British in attacking Fort Henry, near Wheeling, during the Revolutionary War. Subsequently, a call for troops was made on the frontier, and among those to respond were Capt. William Foreman and a company of men from the South Branch Valley in the present Eastern Panhandle. When further reports of Indian raids came in, Colonel Shepherd, the commander at Fort Henry, sent Captain Foreman, Captain Ogle, and scout John Lynn on an expedition with 43 other men. They discovered that Fort Tomlinson, near the mouth of Grave Creek at present Moundsville, had been attacked and abandoned.

On September 27, 12 miles down the Ohio River from Wheeling, at the upper end of McMechen’s Narrows, Foreman directed his party to set up camp. Lynn warned Foreman to move his men off the river trail and to travel along the hilltops. The next morning, however, Foreman kept his men on the trail, while Lynn moved his to a higher elevation.

Foreman’s party halted to examine some Indian trinkets scattered along the trail. As their curiosity brought them into a single group, an ambush was launched and 21 men killed, including Foreman and two of his sons. Another man was captured, and many more injured. During the attack, Lynn’s men suddenly rushed down the hillside, firing rifles and yelling so loud that they tricked the Indians into running, but it was too late. The next day, Colonel Zane led a small party from Wheeling to bury the slain in a common grave near the scene of the ambush. In 1875, the remains were transferred to Mount Rose Cemetery, and the Wheeling Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution has since erected a monument on the spot of the massacre.

This Article was written by Greg Leatherman

Last Revised on February 09, 2023


Cranmer, G. L. History of Wheeling City and Ohio County. Chicago: Biographical Pub., 1902.

Newton, J. H. History of the Pan-Handle. Wheeling: Caldwell, 1879.

Wheeling Daily News, 9/26/33.

Cite This Article

Leatherman, Greg "Foreman Massacre." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 09 February 2023. Web. 29 May 2024.


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