Lord Dunmore's War (1774) Virtual Heritage Trail
Lord Dunmore’s War was fought in 1774, immediately prior to the outbreak of the American Revolution. The roots of the conflict resided in the 1768 Treaty of Fort Stanwix [STOP 1]. Signed at Fort Stanwix in upstate New York, the treaty was negotiated by the Iroquois tribes and Great Britain. The Iroquois agreed that the all lands east and south of the Ohio River belonged to Great Britain, an area that included the rich hunting and farmlands in Kentucky. Although the Iroquois held a degree of influence over Indians in the Ohio River Valley, they essentially signed away lands to Britain they did not own. By 1774, white settlers were encroaching upon the Ohio River Valley and Kentucky. Local Native American tribes, such as the Shawnee, Delaware, and Mingo, sought to prevent white settlers from moving west beyond the Ohio River. Tensions simmered and skirmishes occurred. Open conflict erupted in April 1774, when white settlers massacred the family of Mingo leader Logan [STOP 2]. Logan immediately began striking back at frontier communities for revenge, with his first attack landing at Garard’s Fort along the Pennsylvania and Virginia border [STOP 3]. With open war erupting, Virginia Governor John Murray, Lord Dunmore gathered two armies to strike at Natives across the Ohio. The Northern army was commanded by himself, moving from Wheeling down the Ohio River. The Southern army was led by Colonel Andrew Lewis, moving up the Kanawha Valley toward the Ohio. Both armies were comprised of Virginia militia, numbering some 1,000 men each. Although Lord Dunmore expected the armies to unite, Colonel Andrew Lewis’ force was struck by Native American forces under Shawnee Chief Cornstalk. On October 10, 1774, the only major engagement of Lord Dunmore’s War was fought at the Battle of Point Pleasant [STOPS 4 & 5]. Cornstalk’s forces were defeated and retreated. While Lord Dunmore’s force has missed the battle, they had penetrated deep into Ohio country and were in a position to force the Indians surrender. Dunmore and the Native Americans signed the Treaty of Champ Charlotte, ending the conflict [STOP 6]. The treaty reaffirmed the Ohio River as the boundary between Native and white lands. On their return to Virginia, many of Dunmore’s men stopped at Fort Gower along the Ohio River. There they learned of the growing dispute between Great Britain and her American colonies. They declared their willingness to use force to ensure American liberties, and the Fort Gower Resolves stand as an early expression of American resistance, coming months before Lexington and Concord and over a year before the Declaration of Independence [STOP 7]. Thus, one of the final episodes of Lord Dunmore’s War foreshadowed the soon-to-erupt American Revolution. The Revolution would unleash violence between Native Americans and frontier colonials anew.