Western Theater of The American Revolutionary War - 1782 – "The Year of Blood"

1782 – "The Year of Blood"

In March 1782, 160 Pennsylvania militiamen under Lieutenant Colonel David Williamson rode into the Ohio Country, hoping to find the Indian warriors who were responsible for ongoing raids against Pennsylvania settlers. Enraged by the gruesome murder by Indians of a white woman and her baby, Williamson's men detained about 100 Christian Delawares at the village of Gnadenhütten. The Christian Delawares had returned to Gnadenhütten from Captive Town in order to harvest the crops that they had been forced to leave behind. Accusing the Christian Indians of having aided Indian raiding parties, the Pennsylvanians killed the 100 Christian Indians—mostly women and children—with hammer blows to the head.

Colonel William Crawford of the Continental Army came out of retirement to lead 480 volunteer militiamen, mostly from Pennsylvania, deep into American Indian territory, with the intention of surprising the Indians. The Indians and their British allies from Detroit had learned about the expedition in advance, however, and brought about 440 men to the Sandusky to oppose the Americans. After a day of indecisive fighting, the Americans found themselves surrounded and attempted to retreat. The retreat turned into a route, but most of the Americans managed to find their way back to Pennsylvania. About 70 Americans were killed; Indian and British losses were minimal.

During the retreat, Colonel Crawford and an unknown number of his men were captured. The Indians executed many of these captives in retaliation for the Gnadenhütten massacre earlier in the year, in which about 100 Indian civilians were murdered by Pennsylvania militiamen. Crawford's execution was particularly brutal: he was tortured for at least two hours before being burned at the stake.

The failure of the Crawford expedition caused alarm along the American frontier, as many Americans feared that the Indians would be emboldened by their victory and launch a new series of raids. Even more defeats for the Americans were yet to come, and so for Americans west of the Appalachian Mountains, 1782 became known as the "Bloody Year". On July 13, 1782, the Mingo leader Guyasuta led about 100 Indians and several British volunteers into Pennsylvania, destroying Hannastown and killing nine and capturing twelve settlers. It was the hardest blow dealt by Indians in Western Pennsylvania during the war.

In Kentucky, the Americans went on the defensive while Caldwell, Elliott, and McKee with their Indian allies prepared a major offensive. Fort Estill was attacked by Wyandot Indians in March 1782. Colonel Benjamin Logan, commanding officer of the region, and stationed at Logan's Station, learned that the Wyandot warriors were in the area on warpath. The Indians, aided by the British in Detroit, had raided from Boonsborough past Estill's Station along the Kentucky River. Logan dispatched 15 men to Captain Estill at Estill's Station with orders to increase his force by 25 more men and reconnoiter the country to the north and east. Following orders, Captain Estill reached the Kentucky River a few miles below the mouth of Station Camp Creek and camped that night at Sweet Lick, now known as Estill Springs. On the day after they left Estill's Station, a body of Indians appeared there at dawn on March 20, they raided the fort, scalped and killed a Miss Innes in sight of the fortification and took Monk, a slave of Captain Estill, and killed all the cattle. As soon as the Indians retreated, Samuel South and Peter Hackett, both young men, were dispatched to take the trail of the men and inform them of the news. The boys found them near the mouth of Drowning Creek and Red River early on the morning of March 21. Of the 40 men, approximately 20 had left families within the fort. They returned with the boys to Estill's Station. The remainder crossed the Kentucky river and found the Indian trail. Captain Estill organized a company of 25 men, followed the Indians, and suffered what is known as Estill's Defeat, later known as the Battle of Little Mountain (March 22, 1782) in Montgomery Co.

In July 1782, more than 1,000 Indians gathered at Wapatomica, but the expedition was called off after scouts reported that George Rogers Clark was preparing to invade the Ohio Country from Kentucky. The reports turned out to be false, but Caldwell still managed to lead 300 Indians into Kentucky and deliver a devastating blow at the Battle of Blue Licks in August. With peace negotiations between the United States and Great Britain making progress, Caldwell was ordered to cease further operations. Similarly, General Irvine had gotten permission for a Continental Army expedition into the Ohio Country, but this was cancelled. In November, George Rogers Clark delivered the final blow in the Ohio Country, destroying several Shawnee towns, but inflicting little damage on the inhabitants.

Read more about this topic:  Western Theater Of The American Revolutionary War

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