~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
On this date, September 8 . . .
1756: The Destruction of Kittanning (continued).
~~~ From Colonel Armstrong’s report of September 14, written at Fort Littleton, to Governor Denny, describing the destruction of Kittanning on September 8:
~~~ “By this time it was break of Day, and the Men, having marched thirty Miles, were most asleep; the line being long, the Companies of the Rear were not yet brought over the last precipice. For these, some proper Hands were immediately dispatched, and the weary Soldiers, being roused to their Feet, a proper Number under sundry Officers were ordered to take the End of the Hill, at which we then lay, and march along the top of the said Hill at least one hundred perches, and so much further, it then being day light, as would carry them opposite the upper part or at least the body of the Town. For the lower part thereof and the Corn Field, presuming the Warriors were there, I kept rather the larger Number of the Men, promising to postpone the Attack in that part for eighteen or twenty Minutes, until the Detachment along the Hill should have time to advance to the place assigned them, in doing of which they were a little unfortunate. The Time being elapsed, the Attack was begun in the Corn Field, and the Men, with all Expedition possible, dispatched thro’ the several parts thereof; a party being also dispatched to the Houses, which were then discovered by the light of the Day. Captain Jacobs immediately gave the War-Whoop, and with sundry other Indians, as the English Prisoners afterwards told, cried the White Men were at last come, they would then have Scalps enough, but at the same time ordered their Squaws and Children to flee to the Woods.
~~~ “Our Men with great Eagerness passed thro’ and fired in the Corn Field, where they had several Returns from the Enemy, as they also had from the opposite side of the River. Presently after, a brisk fire began among the Houses, which, from the House of Captain Jacobs, was returned with a great deal of Resolution ; to which place I immediately repaired, and found that from the Advantage of the House and the Port Holes, sundry of our People were wounded, and some killed; and finding that returning the Fire upon the House was ineffectual, ordered the contiguous houses to be set on fire; which was performed by sundry of the Officers and Soldiers with a great deal of Activity, the Indians always firing whenever an object presented itself, and seldom missed of wounding or killing some of our People; From which House, in moving about to give the necessary orders and directions, I received a wound from a large Musket Ball in the Shoulder. Sundry persons during the action were ordered to tell the Indians to surrender themselves prisoners; but one of the Indians, in particular, answered and said he was a Man and would not be a Prisoner, upon which he was told in Indian he would be burnt. To this he answered he did not care for he would kill four or five before he died, and had we not desisted from exposing ourselves, they would have killed a great many more, they having a number of loaded Guns by them.
~~~ “As the fire began to approach and the Smoak grew thick, one of the Indian Fellows, to show his manhood, began to sing. A Squaw, in the same House, and at the same time, was heard to cry and make Noise, but for so doing was severely rebuked by the Men; but by and by the Fire being too hot for them, two Indian Fellows and a Squaw sprung out and made for the Corn Field, who were immediately shot down by our People then surrounding the House. It was thought Captain Jacobs tumbled himself out at a Garret or Cock Loft Window, at which he was shot, our Prisoners offering to be qualified to the powder horn and pouch there taken off him, which, they say, he had lately got from a French Officer in exchange for Lieutenant Armstrong’s Boots, which he carried from Fort Granville, where the Lieutenant was killed. The same Prisoners say they are perfectly assured of his Scalp, as no other Indians there wore their Hair in the same Manner. They also say they knew his Squaw’s Scalp by a particular bob; and also knew the Scalp of a young Indian called the King’s Son.
~~~ “Before this time, Captain Hugh Mercer, who early in the Action was wounded in the Arm, had been taken to the top of a Hill above the Town, to whom a number of Men and some of the Officers were gathered, from whence they had discovered some Indians cross the River and take the Hill with an intent, as they thought, to surround us and cut off our retreat, from whom I had sundry pressing Messages to leave the Houses and retreat to the Hill or we should all be cut off; but to this could by no means consent until all the Houses were set on fire. Tho’ our spreading upon the Hills appeared very necessary, yet did it prevent our Researches of the Corn Field and River side, by which means sundry Scalps were left behind, and doubtless some Squaws Children and English Prisoners that otherwise might have been got. During the burning of the Houses, which were near thirty in number, we were agreeably entertained with a quick succession of charged Guns gradually firing off as reached by the Fire, but much more so with the vast explosion of sundry Bags and large Cags of Gunpowder, wherewith almost every House abounded; the Prisoners afterwards informing that the Indians had frequently said they had a sufficient stock of ammunition for ten Years War with the English.
~~~ “With the roof of Captain Jacobs’ House, when the powder blew up, was thrown the Leg and Thigh of an Indian with a Child three or four years old, such a height that they appeared as nothing and fell in the adjacent Corn Field. There was also a great Quantity of Goods burnt, which the Indians had received in a present but ten days before, from the French. By this time I had proceeded to the Hill to have my wound tyed up and the Blood stopped, where the Prisoners, which in the Morning had come to our People, informed me that that very day two Battoas of French Men, with a large party of Delaware and French Indians, were to join Captain Jacobs at the Kittanning, and to set out early the next Morning to take Fort Shirley, or as they called it, George Croghan’s Fort, and that twenty-four Warriors who had lately come to the Town, were set out before them the Evening before, for what purpose they did not know, whether to prepare Meat, to spy the Fort, or to make an attack on some of our back inhabitants. Soon after, upon a little Reflection, we were convinced these Warriors were all at the Fire we had discovered the Night before, and began to doubt the fate of Lieutenant Hogg and his Party, from the Intelligence of the Prisoners.
~~~ “Our Provisions being scaffolded some thirty miles back, except what were in the Men’s Haversacks, which we left with the Horses and Blankets with Lieutanant Hogg and his Party, and a number of wounded People then on hand, by the advice of the Officers it was thought imprudent then to wait for the cutting down the Corn Field (which was before designed), but immediately to collect our Wounded and force our march back in the best manner we could, which we did by collecting a few Indian horses to carry off our wounded. From the apprehension of being waylaid (especially by some of the Woodsmen), it was difficult to keep the men together, our march for sundry miles not exceeding two miles an hour, which apprehensions were heightened by the attempts of a few Indians who for some time after the march fired upon each wing and immediately ran off, from whom we received no other Damage but one of our men’s being wounded thro’ both Legs. Captain Mercer, being wounded, was induced, as we have reason to believe, by some of his Men, to leave the main Body with his ensign, John Scott, and ten or twelve men, they being heard to tell him they were in great Danger, and that they could take him into the Road a nigh Way, is probably lost, there being yet no Account of him; the most of the Men come in detachment was sent back to bring him in, but could not find him, and upon the return of the detachment, it was generally reported he was seen with the above number of Men taking a different Road.
~~~ “Upon our return to the place where the Indian Fire had been discovered the Night before, we met with a Sergeant of Captain Mercer’s Company and two or three other of his Men who had deserted us that Morning, immediately after the action at Kittanning. These men, on running away, had met with Lieutenant Hogg, who lay wounded in two different parts of his Body by the Road side. He there told them of the fatal mistake of the Pilot, who had assured us there were but three Indians, at the most, at this Fire place, but when he came to attack them that Morning according to orders, he found a number considerably superior to his, and believes they killed and mortally wounded three of them the first fire, after which a warm engagement began, and continued for above an Hour, when three of his best men were killed and himself twice wounded; the residue fleeing off, he was obliged to squat in a thicket, where he might have laid securely until the main Body had come up, if this cowardly Sergeant and others that fled with him had not taken him away; they had marched but a short Space when four Indians appeared, upon which these deserters began to flee. The Lieutenant then, notwithstanding his wounds, as a brave Soldier, urging and commanding them to stand and fight, which they all refused. The Indians pursued, killing one Man and wounding the Lieutenant a third time through the Belly, of which he died in a few Hours; but he, having some time before been put on Horse back, rode some miles from the place of action. But this last attack of the Indians upon Lieutanant Hogg and the deserters was, by the before mentioned Sergeant, represented to us in quite a different light, he telling us that there were a far larger number of the Indians there than appeared to them, and that he and the Men with him had fought five Rounds; that he had there seen the Lieutenant and sundry others killed and scalped, and had also discovered a number of Indians throwing themselves before us, and insinuated a great deal of such Stuff, as threw us into much Confusion, so that the Officers had a great deal to do to keep the Men together, but could not prevail with them to collect what Horses and other Baggage that the Indians had left after their Conquest of Lieutenant Hogg and the Party under his command in the Morning, except a few of the Horses, which some of the bravest of the Men were prevailed on to collect; so that, from the mistake of the Pilot, who spied the Indians at the Fire, and the cowardice of the said Sergeant and other Deserters, we have sustained a considerable loss of our Horses and Baggage.
~~~ “It is impossible to ascertain the exact number of the Enemy killed in the Action, as some were destroyed by Fire and others in different parts of the Corn Field, but, upon a moderate Computation, it is generally believed there cannot be less than thirty or Forty killed and mortally wounded, as much Blood was found in sundry parts of the Corn Field, and Indians seen in several places crawl into the Weeds on their Hands and Feet, whom the Soldiers, in pursuit of others, then overlooked, expecting to find and scalp them afterwards; and also several killed and wounded in crossing the River. On beginning our March back, we had about a dozen of Scalps and eleven English Prisoners, but now find that four or five of the Scalps are missing, part of which were lost on the Road and part in possession of those Men who, with Captain Mercer, separated from the main Body, with whom also went four of the Prisoners, the other seven being now at this place [Fort Littleton], where we arrived on Sunday Night, not being ever separated or attacked thro’ our whole March by the Enemy, tho’ we expected it every Day. Upon the whole, had our Pilots understood the true situation of the town and the paths leading to it, so as to have posted us at a convenient place, where the disposition of the Men and the Duty assigned to them could have been performed with greater Advantage, we had, by divine Assistance, destroyed a much greater Number of the Enemy, recovered more Prisoners, and sustained less damage than what we at present have; but tho’ the Advantage gained over these, our Common Enemy, is far from being satisfactory to us, must we not despise the smallest degrees of Success that God has pleased to give, especially at a time of such general Calamity, when the attempts of our Enemys have been so prevalent and successful.”
Sipe, C. Hale. THE INDIAN WARS OF PENNSYLVANIA. (Telegraph Press, 1929).