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Mar
24

Cherokee Allies Meet Capt Mercer

By
When:
April 23, 2018 all-day
2018-04-23T00:00:00-04:00
2018-04-24T00:00:00-04:00
Where:
Fort Loudoun Winchester VA
419 N Loudoun St
Winchester, VA 22601
USA

Compiled by Jim Moyer 3/24/2018, 6/13/2018

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This is a story told by Captain George Mercer.

A Storm approaches.

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The Cherokee are about to be upset.

Mercer records their speeches,

most likely with the help of a Richard Smith.

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Richard Pearis (his brother, Robert Pearis, had a block house fort on present day Indian Hollow Road) and Major Andrew Lewis  (on the horse) escorted the Cherokee to Winchester.

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Cherokee Allies Meet Capt Mercer

April 23, 2017

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Picture by Jim Moyer. Click to enlarge.

Captain George Mercer writes to Colonel George Washington about our Cherokee allies coming to Winchester VA.

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The meeting goes bad.

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The Cherokee went to Lunenburg County area, thinking their “presents”  — for being our allies  — were there.

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See distance between Lunenburg and Williamsburg area.

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Clement Read, a leader in that county,  with word from Williamsburg, tells them the “presents” will be in Winchester VA.

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This is a letter Clement Read writes to Colonel George Washington on March 15, 1757.

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They come to Winchester and guess what?  You guessed right.

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MERCER’S LETTER

Picture drawn by Jim Moyer. Captain George Mercer greeting the Cherokee at Fort Loudoun, Winchester VA April 23, 1757. Major Andrew Lewis is on he horse. Richard Pearis is probably in hunting dress. Maybe Major Andrew Lewis might have been too. Both Lewis and Pearis had escorted the Cherokee to Winchester. Captain Mercer is shown greeting the Cherokee. Click to enlarge. Click again if too large.

From George Mercer  (see letter)

to Colonel George Washington

Fort Loudoun    April 24th 1757

Dear Sir

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Cherokee in Winchester

Thursday and Friday last

came to Town 148 Cherokees,

with Major Lewis,

and yesterday I spoke to them,

as they did not chuse

an Interview sooner.

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Wawhatchee walks out

Wauhatchee the Head Warriour, after I had told him among many other things, that I was sorry we had not timely Notice of their Coming, that the Governour would have ordered the necessary presents for them, but they might depend upon every thing they could want at their Return, would not receive the Wampum I offered him, as is usual, at the End of the Speech; but immediately got up, & went out of the Council in a great passion, and told the rest of the Warriours they might speak to me, if they had anything to say.1

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This Behaviour gave me great Uneasiness, which was not a little increased, when the Swallow, after a long Silence, made the Speech which I inclose.2

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Red = dates / Orange Italics = quoted letter / Purple Italics = Founders Online Footnotes  / Black = Notes by Jim Moyer

SWALLOW’S SPEECH

2. Founders Online footnote:

In his speech the Swallow, First Warrior in the lower Cherokee town of Estatoe, declared:

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“I don’t understand writing, but got a Man to write a Letter for me to the Governour to acquaint him what things I had promised my young Men to engage them to come up with me, and expected to have found everything I mentioned ready for us. . . . Brother we blame the Govr and not you. What you have, you are free of; and it looks to me, the Govr has little Regard for you that are in the back Settlements” (CSmH).

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The Cherokee Alphabet

Swallow, a Cherokee, mentions he cannot understanding writing, little knowing that 64 years later his Cherokee nation will have its own written alphabet.   And who created it?  Sequoyah – George “Guess.”

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And that “Guess” might really be “Gist.”

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He might be the son of Nathaniel Gist, a Scout under Colonel George Washington’s Virginia Regiment.

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Nathaniel Gist is the son of Christopher Gist who is a Captain of a company of scouts under Colonel George Washington.

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Christopher Gist accompanied George Washington in 1753 to deliver a message to tell the French to leave.  A video game, Assassins Creed -Rogue, resurrects the name of Christopher Gist, but any history ends after using the name.

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Back to Mercer’s Letter:

Mercer observes we are losing the Cherokee as Allies

From this you may see what their Journey here

had almost produced a

Revolt of the whole Nation from our Interest,

which would have been as certain,

as their Return Home dissatisfied;

for they are all wavering,

and only wait to see how these are received.

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They make no secret of this,

and told me the Govr knew not

how to treat Indians;

that the French

treated them always like Children,

and gave them what Goods

they wanted.

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The Great Men of Virginia are LIARS

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Picture by Jim Moyer. Compare the Fort Walls with painting below.

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As to the Governour’s not having

timely Notice of their Coming,

it was a Lie,

he had promised them

18 Months ago,

if they would come here to fight for us,

they should be supplied

with every thing they wanted.3

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Painting by Winchester Evening Star illustrator, L. Neill Woods 1937. Handley Library Archives. This drawing is incorrect, but there was not the access to original documents like there is today online. The walls were not palisade, but rather the walls were very thick double walls filled with dirt and rock inside, with squared off hewn logs running sideways rather than up and down. Also it is very unlikely there was a flag flying. If there was, then the debate is whether it was that flag or the red ensign. The drawing by Jim Moyer tries to redo this version with how the walls of the fort really appeared.  But later as in maybe 20 years after the French and Indian War, the double thick walls were stripped down to be used for homes in town.  The walls shown in this painting by L. Neill Woods might have been erected for Revolutionary War prisoners.

… that they had then promised they would come,

and he should have had every thing ready;

and had he not depended upon their Promise,

and thought that a Warning,

that they had wrote to him from their Nation,

and again from Col. Reade’s,

which last was sufficient Notice.4

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The Great Men of Virgina were Liars

But they found from every Action, the Great Men of Virginia were Liars.

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KEERARUSTIKEE Speaks

Keerarustikee (who was here with Pearis in the Winter)5

told them he knew them all,

that they had laid in no Goods here;

that the Warriours

were obliged to send them down to Williamsburg,

and when they came there,

they seemed surprized,

that they had not been supplied at Winchester.

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MERCER’S PROMISE

To all this I replied in the best

and warmest Terms I possibly could,

and told them I was willing

to give them any security they could desire,

that the Presents should be here

ready for them at their Return;

that if they had it,

they would be obliged to leave it here in my Care,

it would be too heavy for them to carry to War;

and I told them,

they must look upon it in that Light,

that I had the present in the House

keeping for them ’till their Return,

that all their Things might look new & clean;

and urged them again to take the Wampum

as a Token that I spoke nothing but the Truth.

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So that’s Captain Mercer’s promise.  Captain Mercer’s letter continues. Captain Mercer writes a warrior’s response to his promise.

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A Noble Speech:

I Take the Will for the Deed

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After this, the Warriour of Tallassee 6 said,

Brothers, why do you despise that Wampum?

We must not measure the Warriours Present by that.

for my part, I take the Will for the Deed.

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I look upon it in the Light he offers it,

as a Token that his Heart is good towards us,

and that he tells us the Truth.

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Because others have lied shall we not believe him?

I will do it, and tho’ I am here with a small Number,

I came here to fight for the Great King George;

 

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and if none of you will take his Wampum,

I will do it, and I will stand by him ’till I find he lies.

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He tells you that yet he has not received Orders from the Govr

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and that perhaps he is in a Hurry,

and yet has not Time to write.

I believe it is so.

The present will be here when we return.

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Swallow Apologizes

But then he Explains and Warns

The Swallow then made an Apology

for what he had said;

and said, he had spoke his Mind thus freely,

to let us know how he had been used,

and he hoped it would have the desired Effect,

when the Govr heard what he had said.

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that they should never be again disappointed.

In his own part, he did not want Presents,

but that it was his Promise of great Rewards

from the Governour that engaged

his young Men to come in,

and that the Govr had now

made him a Liar amongst his own Warriours:

that made him angry.

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Then these Cherokee go north to scour the woods for enemy French and their Indians.

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A month later?

The “presents”  still do not show up.

Nor does Swallow.

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Swallow is killed on the mission.

That mission nets 2 prisoners brought back to Fort Loudoun.

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One of the prisoners is Belestre.  See the story on the skirmish that led to capturing Belestre and which led to the death of Swallow.

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Captain Mercer concludes a

warning to Colonel Washington

From all this you see how necessary

’tis to have a proper Present

immediately laid in for them.

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We may soon expect the Catawbas in too,

who have an absolute promise of a present

from me on their Return.7

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If these Indians go home dissatisfied,

we lose the Interest of the whole Nation.

You can better suggest than I direct

(did I presume to do it)

what is necessary on this Occasion.

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Captain Mercer covers a few other matters in closing the letter.

 

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Founders Online Footnote

Mercer’s letter shown to others:

Copy, CSmH; Copy, P.R.O., W.O. 34/47, ff. 151–52. The copy in the Loudoun Papers is endorsed by Edmond Atkin. The journal of the Virginia council of 3 May 1757 noted that Dinwiddie “had shewn to Mr. Atkin” Mercer’s letters to GW of 24 and 26 April, “with the Speeches inclosed of their two Chiefs, and Capt. Mercer’s Answers” (Exec. Journals of Virginia Council, 6:42). Except for variations in punctuation and spelling, the two copies are identical...

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Captain Mercer’s next letter to

Colonel George Washington


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From George Mercer

at Fort Loudoun

April 26th 1757

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Dear Sir.

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MEETING AFTER MEETING

AND NOW THE CHEROKEE WILL SCOUR THE WOODS FOR FRENCH

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Since my last to you, we have held Council after Council every day with the Indians. They seem at last pretty well satisfied, and a Party of them sett out this Day to War; the others will follow so soon as they get their Shoes made. There is a great Scarcity of Deer Skins, and I am obliged to send thro’ the whole County to provide them.

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2 LETTERS SPEAK THE CHEROKEE MIND

Inclosed are two Letters from the Head Warriours to the Govr, which they insisted I should write, and desired I might not be afraid to do it; it was their Talk they said, which I wrote, which they intended to give him freely.1

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CHIEF THING IS A PRESENT

By every thing you’ll observe, the chief thing is a present, and they expect a very good one, and have not omitted upon all Occasions to tell me what the French give their Indians. They make no Secret either of their Intentions in Case they are not properly encouraged. One of the Warriours told Major Lewis in Augusta, that he had been often told Lies in his Nation, but now he was come himself to see if they would never tell the Truth. If they did not now, he said, as the Govr had promised them a large Present if they would come & fight,

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A THREAT

and if he did not get it when he came here, he would turn back and take every thing from the Inhabitants as they went along, and maybe, siad he, scalp some of them too, for he said if they had stayed at home and hunted, they could buy as much Goods as they wanted with their Skins.2

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[ Jim Moyer’s Note:  The Cherokee’s threat becomes a reality in 1758The Cherokee on their way home take horses from the inhabitants.  A posse forms to hunt the Cherokee offenders down.  The killings that happen from this, spark a chain of events leading to the Anglo Cherokee War.  ]

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THEY WANT TO SEE THE GOVERNOR

You’ll observe, Wauhatchee has desired the Govr to meet them here, and I am certain it will be of the greatest Service if he does; they have much to ask of him, which they say, he shall hear when they see him. I know the one part of their Request is to send some of their Warriours Home to talk to his Majesty.

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KEEPING THE SOLDIERS HERE

Many of our Soldiers have made Application to go out with them, but as their Destination is uncertain, and may suddenly be ordered away, I have not allowed any of them to go.

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PRAISE FOR THE INTERPRETER

Smith [ RICHARD SMITH ] the Interpreter I believe is one of the best on the Continent. he is an extreme modest Man, and behaves himself very well in every particular. The Warriours have desired that he may have a good Suit of Clothes provided for him against he returns. Really the Man’s Behaviour entitles him to some Notice from the Governour.3

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MORE INDIAN ALLIES COMING

I am much at a Loss what will be done with the next Party of Indians, which I am told are now in Augusta. We have neither Shirts nor Blankets to give them; nor do I know where to get them, nor is there more than 24 or 5 Guns for them, all have been taken from Bedford and Augusta Courthouses, and there are 80 Indians in the Party that’s on their March, I am informed.

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NO PRESENTS

I sent down to the Ohio Store for some things for these; Colo. Cresap writes me that Trent has made a Contract with Sir Wm Johnson for them. There is neither Paint, scalping Knives, Wampum nor pipe Tomahawks to be had there, nor is there any Silver Truck.4

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PUSH TO SATISFY OUR INDIAN ALLIES or else . . .

Pray Colo. push this Matter as much as possible, for you know how much depends upon the Interest of these Indians. If they are not properly rewarded, they will all forsake us: the Consequences then are plain. They will not be idle Spectators, but will be employed.

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MERCER JUST STATING INDIAN NEEDS

Excuse me I pray, for troubling you with this long Epistle; tho’ I have been so full, I do not presume to direct or offer my Sentiments, but represent every thing in the very Light the Indians now consider them, which I am certain from your Knowledge of those people, you’ll know to be true; therefore I need not have been so explicit.

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NO NEWS OF LT COL ADAM STEPHEN COMING

Colo. Stephen is not arrived yet, nor have I heard of his March. I am Dear Sir Your most obedient and obliged humble Servant.

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Go: Mercer

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Copy, CSmH; Copy, P.R.O., W.O. 34/47, ff. 151–152. See the source line for Mercer’s letter to GW of 24 April 1757. Dinwiddie presented both of the Mercer letters, with enclosures, to the House of Burgesses on 3 May.

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1The enclosed letters for Dinwiddie have not been found.

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2Some of the Cherokee seem to have talked to Andrew Lewis in Augusta County in much the same way they had talked to Clement Read in Lunenburg County. See Read’s letter to Dinwiddie cited in George Mercer to GW, 24 April 1757, n.1.

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3. Richard Smith, the brother of Abraham Smith, both Indian traders and both used by Virginia as interpreters, came up to Fort Loudoun with Wawhatchee and the other Cherokee. He shortly left Winchester with a party led by the Swallow and Maj. Andrew Lewis to march toward Fort Cumberland. Edmond Atkin in the summer of 1757 made him one of the two official conductors of the Cherokee and translator for the colony of Virginia. At the same time that Lewis and his party left for Fort Cumberland, Richard Pearis led Wawhatchee and Youghtanno with their followers north into Maryland and Pennsylvania.

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4. Thomas Cresap, a member of the Ohio Company and a prominent frontiersman, lived on the north bank of the Potomac River. William Trent, a Pennsylvania Indian trader, was in Virginia’s employ during GW’s expeditions into Pennsylvania in 1753 and 1754. After attending a conference with the Indians at Lancaster, Pa., in May 1757, Trent came to Winchester where in June he participated in a meeting with the Indians there. Sir William Johnson (1715–1774) was superintendent of Indian affairs in the northern colonies. By “Silver Truck” Mercer meant miscellaneous silver items suitable for Indian presents. The store of the Ohio Company to which Mercer was referring may have been the one at Rock Creek.   [Jim Moyer note: that Ohio Company depot at Rock Creek is where Colonel George Washington ordered cannons.  Also Rock Creek  (the future area of Georgetown in DC )was a store for purchasing many items, such as uniforms.]

 

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A month later still no presents

SWALLOW is Killed

Captain George Mercer departs for Charleston SC


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Captain George Mercer is ordered to leave with Lt Col Adam Stephen to Charleston SC in anticipating an Indian threat.

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Our Captain Mercer spoke to these Cherokee through the interpreter, Richard Smith.

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And that same interpreter is involved with others interrogating the prisoner Belestre  before the head of Indian Affairs, Edmond Atkin, gets to interrogate the prisoner.   Atkin complains about this to Colonel George Washington.

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Click on link and scroll down for that story on interrogating the prisoner.

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May 24, 1757

“A Mere Hum”

Washington does realize that Captain Mercer’s leaving before MAY 24, 1757 for Charleston SC looks to the Cherokee  like it is a trick to evade the performance of the promise that has been made to them.

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On 24 May 1757, Colonel GW writes Lt Gov Dinwiddie,

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“I doubt not but your Honor before this is informed, that a party of Cherokees under Warhatchie is come in with 4 scalps and 2 Prisoners. They are much dissatisfied that the presents are not here—Look upon Captain Mercers going off as a trick to evade the performance of the promise that has been made to them—will not believe that Mr Atkin is coming: and in short, they are the most insolent, most avaricious, and most dissatisfied wretches I have ever had to deal with. If any thing shou’d detain Mr Atkin’s arrival, it will not be in my power to convince them that it is not a mere hum! All the rhetoric I can muster is not likely to detain them more than two or three days to wait this event.7

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Source:

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-04-02-0091#GEWN-02-04-02-0091-fn-0006-ptr

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Founders Online Footnote for above letter.

7. For the earlier trouble with Wawhatchee and his party, see George Mercer to GW, 24 April26 April 1757, and notes for both letters. For the Cherokee warriors’ encounter with the party of Indians in Pennsylvania, see GW to Dinwiddie, 10 June 1757, n.1. A hum is a humbug or hoax.

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SUMMARY and AFTERMATH


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“The Great Men of Virginia are Liars.”
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Cherokee leaders such as
The Swallow
Wawhatchee
The Warrior from Tallassee
a group of 148 Cherokee
come to Fort Loudoun,
to meet our Captain Mercer
at Fort Loudoun Winchester VA,

Their Council Meetings give a nobility to the concept of Due Process.

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Mercer’s letter to Washington records their words through an interpreter, Richard Smith .

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These warriors go on to scour the woods for the Virginia Whites and harrasss the French and Indians just outside Fort DuQuesne.

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They bring back prisoners to Fort Loudoun.

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This campaign is highly successful.

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But what did they get for it?

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Swallow is killed.  And still no presents arrive for these Cherokee that fought for Virginia.

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We of the Captain Mercer Company of the Virginia Regiment call out one more time for the Cherokee to join us, to tell the whole story.

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Some other Founders Online Footnotes

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1The headstrong Wawhatchee, the First Warrior of the Cherokee lower towns, had arrived in Lunenburg County in early April with a party of more than one hundred Indians. Enraged because there were no presents, Wawhatchee and his braves went on a rampage. Clement Read, a leading man of the county, finally prevailed on the Cherokee to go “to Winchester to Colonel Washington” where “they Should have presents, They Should be provided for according to the Treaty, Should be well used” (Read to Dinwiddie, 5 April 1757, P.R.O., W.O. 34/47, ff. 150–51).

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3. Dinwiddie called on the Cherokee for assistance shortly before Braddock’s expedition and again on 22 Aug. 1755, but Wawhatchee was clearly referring to the agreement or treaty that Dinwiddie’s special commissioners, Peter Randolph and William Byrd, made with the Cherokee in early 1756.

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4. See note 1.

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5. See William Fairfax to GW, 22 Mar. 1757, n.2. Richard Pearis also served as the guide for Wawhatchee’s party to Winchester.

 

6. This was probably Youghtanno, the Cherokee warrior from the Overhill town of Telassie. He led a party north into Maryland and Pennsylvania with Wawhatchee when he and Wawhatchee left Winchester with Richard Pearis on 29 April.

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7For the Catawba Indians who had been in Winchester in March, see Clement Read to GW, 15 Mar. 1757, n.1..

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8Dinwiddie wrote Mercer on 26 Jan. 1757 rebuking him for improperly enlisting indentured servants, saying that he could send no money to Mercer to settle with the masters of the drafted servants until after the April court (Brock, Dinwiddie Papers, 2:586)..

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Links for further Research

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May 23, 1757 Stanwix conveys Lord Loudoun’s order from munitions to take from Fort Loudoun Winchester VA.  The next day on the 24, GW writes Dinwiddie that Captain Mercer is no longer at Fort Loudoun and this looks to our Indian allies as an attempt to evade a promise of presents.  See this link showing Stanwix conveying Lord Loudoun’s orders to get munitions from Winchester’s Fort Loudoun: .

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-04-02-0090

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Mercer still dealing with the Cherokee 4/26/1757

Short bio of Richard Smith, Indian Interpreter

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-04-02-0079#GEWN-02-04-02-0079-fn-0003

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Washington list Indian Names to Dinwiddie to reward

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-04-02-0097

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GW From Fort Loudoun, May 24th 1757 to Dinwiddie

More on the Cherokee, Catawba

First complaint on Adam Stephen

Mercer having left Fort Loudoun makes the Cherokee suspicious of his promise

Mercer’s next letter is from Charleston SC in Aug17 1757

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-04-02-0091

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MAKE INDIANS F DUR WHITE MEN”: BRITISH SOLDIERS AND INDIAN WARRIORS FROM BRADDDCK’S TO FORBES’S CAMPAIGNS, 1755-1758 David L. Preston The Citadel

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https://journals.psu.edu/phj/article/viewFile/59506/59230

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Cherokee in Oklahoma

https://cdm17279.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p17279coll4/search/v015/v015p253.html

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38109 950am 3/25/2018 Sunday

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Notes

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Peace and War on the Anglo-Cherokee Frontier, 1756–63 pp 69-112Cite as  

Lyttelton’s Folly: How the Anglo-Cherokee War Began

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9780230599178_3

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Ward

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photo of cherokee sites and tombstone Oconastota

A road trip into Cherokee history

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Cherokee war

http://www.palmettohistory.org/exhibits/cherokee/7a-FRONTIERWARFARE.htm

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https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-04-02-0064#GEWN-02-04-02-0064-fn-0001

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LOTS OF indian movement  1758

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-05-02-0122

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