Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Battle of Point Pleasant
Colonel Andrew Lewis, in command of about 1,100 men, was part of a planned two-pronged Virginian invasion of the Shawnee Ohio Country. He anticipated linking up with another force commanded by Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia. Cornstalk, the Shawnee war leader, moved to intercept Lewis's army, hoping to prevent the link up and thwart the invasion. Estimates of the size of Cornstalk's force have varied over the years, but scholars now suspect Cornstalk was greatly outnumbered, having around 300-500 warriors (mostly Shawnee, but a few Mingos). Future notable Shawnee leader Blue Jacket probably took part in the battle.
Cornstalk’s forces attacked Lewis’s camp where the Kanawha River flows into the Ohio River, hoping to trap him along a bluff. The battle lasted for hours and was extremely intense; the fighting eventually became hand-to-hand. Cornstalk’s voice was reportedly heard over the din of the battle, repeatedly urging his warriors to “be strong.” Lewis sent several companies along the Kanawha and up a nearby creek in order to attack the Indians from the rear, reducing the intensity of the Shawnee offensive. At nightfall, the Shawnees silently withdrew back across the Ohio. The Virginians had held their ground, and so won the day.
The Virginians suffered about 75 killed and 150 wounded. The Shawnees had perhaps 40 killed; precise casualty figures for the Indians are uncertain, as they threw many of their dead into the river to prevent the bodies from being mutilated. (Scalping was routinely practiced by both sides in this era.) Among the dead was Pukeshinwa, the father of Tecumseh.
The outcome of the Battle of Point Pleasant forced Cornstalk to make peace with Dunmore at the Treaty of Camp Charlotte , ceding Shawnee land claims south of the Ohio (basically Kentucky) to Virginia.
In 1908 the United States Senate passed a resolution declaring the Battle of Point Pleasant to be a battle of the American Revolutionary War. If that were true, it would be the first battle in that war.
- Point Pleasant Monument State Park web site
- http://www.wvculture.org/history/journal_wvh/wvh56-5.html, 1997 article about the historical debate over whether the Battle of Point Pleasant should be considered a battle of the American Revolutionary War.
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