Incident Between Cherokee and "Allied" Virginians, 1758 or 1759

I am seeking information about a conflict between Virginians ( presumably militia ) and Cherokee sometime in 1758 or 1759. I’ve only been able to find vague accounts of it but apparently about 100 Cherokee and and unknown number of Virginians were on an expedition against some other Indians ( presumably Shawnee ) when the Cherokee lost a lot of their equipment in a difficult river crossing. The Indians were in a difficult situation and the whites refused to share their supplies. The Cherokee stole some horses from the Virginians who pursued and attacked them.

Supposedly this incident was a factor in stirring up the border unrest we have come to know as the “Cherokee War” but if it was an influential event it seems poorly documented. I can only find fragments on the Web. Does anyone know what happened and when?

It doesn’t ring a bell from what you’ve described, and I’m pretty well versed on VA history.

You might want to contact the VA State Library and Archives. They have staff that can answer just about any question related to the Commonwealth that you can come up with.

Thanks for the tip. Turns out the Library of Virginia has a discussion list. I’ll try there.

IIRC There is a Dunmore’s War (named for the gov). I think this might have been more toward the eve of the revolution, but it was between Cherokee (I think) and Virginia. Looking up Lord Dunmore’s (maybe to 'o’s ) War might point you in the right direction.

The details are quite different, but Richard H. Dillon, in his North American Indian Wars, makes two comments about the Cherokee in his discussion of General John Forbes’s efforts to sieze Fort Duquesne and disrupt the French and Indian alliance in Western Pennsylvania. He first notes that several of the British and Colonial officers on the expedition grumbled (rather unfairly) about the “mercenary” nature of Chief Little Carpenter and his Cherokee (who, after all, had no reason to join the campaign several hundred miles from their homes except for pay).

He then notes that, following the end of the campaign,

This incident (with a bit more detail) is also related in Archibald Henderson’s The Conquest of the Old Southwest (near the bottom of the page).

While this incident seems quite different than the one described in the OP, it shares the details of occurring in late 1758 or early 1759, during an allied expedition of Chrokees and settlers, and resulting in unnecessary warfare.

Here’s something from an early 20th century book talking about the Cherokee War of 1760, including the horse story.

Here’s another, shorter account.

In short, the Cherokee were allied with the English during the battle of Ft. Duquesne. There was a falling out, and the Cherokee band replaced their horses (who had been killed in the attack) by taking horses they believed to be running wild in Virginia, but which actually belonged to Virginians. The Virginians then attacked them, and killed and scalped some, and took a few prisoners. The Cherokee survivors went back and reported on what happened. The Cherokee leadership tried to keep the peace, but bands of Cherokee participated in retaliation raids against white settlements, and besieged the soldiers at Ft. Loudon. Goverton Littleton of South Carolina raised millitia and attacked Cherokee towns. Taken by surprise, the Cherokee chiefs agreed to peace and handed over hostages. When the millitia left, though, the Cherokee rose up again, attacking more settlements and trying to free the hostages. They failed, the hostages were executed. The British army, just having beaten the French, then came down hard on the Cherokee, taking towns and destroying the Cherokee food supply. The Cherokee were forced to make peace and gave up most of their land in South Carolina.

Just double checking, but it looks like the Shawnee were at Ft. Duquesne as French allies, and they surrendered soon after.

I appreciate the replies but I don’t think we’ve moved closer to an answer. Lord Dunmore’s War was much later and didn’t involve the Cherokee. Nor do I think the expedition in question is the ponderously slow advance of General Forbes. It was slow because the General was building a road and forts to guard it in order to move supplies over the mountains. Since he was supplied it would make little sense for him to have antagonized badly needed scouts by denying them resupply. And that expedition is well known. If there had been a skirmish with its Native irregulars I’d expect it to be better accounted for. I think I’m looking for a lesser expedition. From what I can find on it it was a Virginian enterprise not a British one. Captain Amazing’s 2nd link does seem to refer to it:

‘Incidents between Cherokee and white settlers during 1758 were hastily covered over by another treaty, but the cooperation collapsed in 1759. Almost 100 Cherokee accompanying a Virginia expedition against the Ohio Shawnee lost their provisions while crossing a river and were abandoned by their white “allies.” Angry at this treatment, the Cherokee helped themselves to some of the Virginians’ horses and were attacked. After killing more than twenty Cherokee, the Virginians scalped and mutilated the bodies. They later collected a bounty for the scalps.’

This seems to indicate that it occured after the horse gathering incident following the Forbes Expedition. The Shawnee were not defeated after the fall of Fort Duquense in 1758 ( which was abandoned by the French without a fight though there was one there earlier in the year that is commonly called “Grant’s Defeat” after the British officer who led the fiasco. ) The Shawnee and other Ohio tribes ceased hostilities because the French were no longer able to supply them. Still, the British saw them as a conquered people which quickly led to the conflict called the Amerindian War or Pontiac’s War, Conspiracy, or Rebellion. The Shawnee didn’t actually come to terms with the British until Colonel Bouquet’s devastating campaign against their Ohio towns and fields in 1764.

Nor do I think it should be conflated with an earlier ill fated Cherokee/Virginian expedition against the Shawnee known as the Sandy Creek Expedition in 1756 such as E Lawrence Lee seems to in Indian Wars in North Carolina 1663-1763. After that failure the Cherokee accompanied Richard Pearis northward where they had a skirmish with some Northern Indians and Le Sieur Douville at Parker’s Fort rather than returning home in anger.