On March 8, 1782 a massacre took place in Gnadenhutten Village located in what is now Gnadenhutten, Ohio. The village was made up of Delaware Indians also known as the Christian Lenape. The group settled in the region after leaving the mid-Atlantic coast in attempt to escape the colonies invading their land. Several villages were established around the main village of Coshocton. Some of these village names were Schoenbrunn, Gnadenhutten, and Salem all of which were located along the Muskingum River. When the Revolutionary War began, the Lenape found that their location was between the strongholds of the war's opponents. The American colonists' military outpost was located at Fort Pitt in modern day Pittsburgh and the British with their Indian allies around Fort Detroit in Michigan.
At the start of the war, the different tribes chose sides and some of the Lenape went to fight with the British while others stayed in their homes and fought on the side of the American colonists. In September 1781 the Christian Indians were forced out of their homes and were held in “Captive Town” near Lake Erie as prisoners where the rations were low and many went hungry. In February 1782, over 100 of these Christian Indians returned to their villages in order to harvest crops. Soon though, trouble in the form of a raiding party, arrived. 160 Pennsylvania Militia arrived in the village and rounded up those living in the village accusing them of taking part of raids in Pennsylvania.
On the morning of March 8th, the militia took all of the Native Americans to two killing houses. One was for the men and the other for women and children. Once in the killing houses the villagers suffered cruel deaths including mallet blows to the head and fatal scalping cuts. Two boys lived to tell of the massacre, one of which had been scalped but survived. In all the militia killed and scalped twenty nine women, thirty nine children and twenty eight men. The bodies were then piled in the mission buildings and burned. The rest of the Gnadenhutten as well as the other abandoned villages were all burned to the ground. No criminal charges were ever brought against those who committed the massacre despite the outrage felt by some of the other colonists. As a result though, other Lenape Indians and their allies went out seeking revenge and killed some Americans in retaliation of the massacre.
The site of the village has been preserved and some buildings have been rebuilt since. A monument to the dead has been erected and a burial mound is maintained on the site as well. The village is open to tourists and school groups who want to visit the village and learn of the tragic day for the Lenape tribe. For more information about the modern day village, the history of the village or times available to visit, check out their website at http://www.gnaden.com/.