Young Soldier's Journal Chronicles Indian Ambush

Article excerpt

It's a common misconception that French and Indian War hostilities ended in Western Pennsylvania when British Gen. John Forbes captured Fort Duquesne in 1758.

Although the French abandoned the fort, frequent attacks by their Indian allies continued to plague British and Colonial soldiers.

Following the fall of Fort Duquesne, a small force of about 200 men, including troops from Virginia and Pennsylvania, was organized for the defense of Pittsburgh under the command of Col. Hugh Mercer. The remainder of Forbes' army was ordered home, or into winter quarters back east across the mountains.

The French, then based at Venango (now Franklin) along the Allegheny River, had not given up hope of recapturing the site of Fort Duquesne. They were building an army and supplying their Indian allies with arms and ammunition to raid the supply trains of pack horses and wagons along Forbes Road as they were delivering provisions to a temporary fort, later known as Fort Mercer, which the British built near Pittsburgh's Point before the larger, more permanent Fort Pitt was constructed.

During this period, there were a number of brutal Indian attacks on British supply trains and personnel at various points along Forbes Road. One of those clashes occurred in the spring of 1759 at what is now Murrysville.

This was six months after Gen. Forbes' army had driven the French from Fort Duquesne. It was a time of great anxiety for the small number of British forces left behind at Fort Ligonier and Pittsburgh.

On May 30, 1759, Capt. Jacob Morgan was sent to Pittsburgh from Loyalhanna (Fort Ligonier) with 42 men and 50 pack horses. Morgan's company was part of Col. James Burd's 2nd Pennsylvania Battalion, stationed at Loyalhanna.

Morgan's mission was to deliver desperately needed supplies, including 3,828 lbs. of flour, 1,528 lbs. of pork and 197 lbs. of rice. Morgan arrived in Pittsburgh just in time; he found the garrison's store completely bare.

Valued journal

A portion of a journal, kept by John Michael Lindenmuth, a young Pennsylvania soldier of German descent, recorded the events preceding and following the Indian attack. Lindenmuth wrote, "We began to march. We camped on the Nine Mile Run. May 31st, we marched to four miles on this side of Pittsburgh. That night a command came and took us into the Fort because of the Indians. About 150 in number camped not far from us. We stayed in the fort four days.

"On June 5, 1759, we started again for Loyalhanna at 5 o'clock in the morning, expecting any time to be attacked, which was done. At 12 o'clock we halted a mile from Turtle Creek for our meal, but put guards at all ends. Several of us were dipping water and noticed along the water footprints of the Indians. We also found a new tomahawk which was an indication to us that there had been a fight.

"Captain Morgan was very careful and ordered a sergeant with seven men to go as an advance party and several for a flank guard. We marched very carefully in single file.

"By the time we had marched one mile, the Indians had attacked the advance party and killed seven men, scalping them all before we could, with the greatest swiftness, get there. The Indians, however, fell upon us with such fury that they expected to put us to flight, but we received them. We had a very hot fight with them for three hours. The enemy was 50 men strong, while we had but 42. We lost eight men in the first fire. The Indians lost four.

"At four o'clock in the evening we started again on our march, carrying our dead, seven in number, behind a fallen block. The eighth one was fatally wounded, but lived three days.

"The 6th, we came to Loyalhanna in the night. The 7th, we took in provisions. The 8th, we started out again with 60 men and came to a camping place. The 9th, we buried our dead. The enemy was gone, but we found their entire baggage in one big pile. …