Battle of Bushy Run
History of the Battle of Bushy Run
The 213 acres of forested and grassy areas that comprise Bushy Run Battlefield, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, can be viewed as one large historical entity. The events that transpired here in August 1763, during Pontiac’s War, forever set Bushy Run apart as a place of historical significance. The battle near Bushy Run and the events of Pontiac’s War leading to the battle add to the understanding of the Indian-European culture clash, which is an important theme in American history. The battle also has a place in the broader study of American settlement and expansion, and possesses great significance in the realm of British, Amerian and Indian military history.
A Significant Story
The British victory at Bushy Run was the critical turning point in Pontiac’s War. It also prevented the capture of Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh) and restored lines of communication between the frontier and eastern settlements. The British victory helped to keep the “gateway to western expansion” open.
Pontiac, an Ottawa chief in the Detroit areas, retaliated against British policies and control following the collapse of New France at the close of the French and Indian War. Because of Pontiac’s successful advances against the British, Indian revolts quickly spread eastward. His plans were covert until 1763 when attacks on British outposts began. By the end of July, nine British forts were captured, a tenth fort abandoned, and the great strongholds of Pitt and Detroit under seige. The geographic area affected included the present states of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and parts of Maryland and West Virginia. Truly this was the greatest Indian threat to the British colonies during the 18th century.
Because the Indians so throroughly controlled the frontier, information about the war filtered slowly east to the British high command. Once the scope of the situation was realized in late June, an expedition was organized to march west to Fort Pitt and then to proceed north and west to re-estabish fallen forts. Colonel Henry Bouquet, a Swiss born professional soldier, commanded the expedition as it left Carlisle, Pennsylvania on July 18th. Indian scouts observed Bouquet’s army marching west along Forbes Road and reported this to the large force of Indians surrounding Fort Pitt. The Indians decided to temporarily end their siege and attack the British expedition in the open. The attack took place one mile east of Bushy Run Station on August 5th and 6th, 1763. The engagement resulted in a victory for the British.
A Unique History
Bushy Run Battlefield is the only historic site or museum that deals exclusively with Pontiac’s War, one of the most significant Native American conflicts in American History. The battlefield today is topographically intact. Combatants’ positions and maneuvers can be “seen” and understood and the wooded acres (90 acres) give a sense of the original environment at the time of the battle. Self-guiding trails, guided tours and interpretive programs return visitors to the days of the battle. Interpretive exhibits located in a modern Visitor’s Center aid the visitor in understanding the significance of the events that occurred at Bushy Run. Only historic sites, particularly battlefields, can give visitors this unique feeling. A sixth sense tells you something unique and important happened here, something that changed the lives of people and the progression of history.
A French expedition led by Pierre-Joseph Céleron de Blainville claims the Ohio Country in the name of Louis XV of France (Warren, PA).
French troops land at the site of present-day Erie, PA, and begin construction of Fort Presqu’ Isle.
The French begin construction of Fort LeBoeuf (Waterford, PA).
French soldiers occupy John Fraser’s trading post at the Indian village of Venango (Franklin, PA).
Twenty-one-year-old Major George Washington reaches Fort LeBoeuf with a letter from Robert Dinwiddie, Governor of Virginia, claiming that the French are trespassing on British territory.
Forty Virginia militiamen under Captain William Trent begin constructing Fort Prince George at the forks of the Ohio (Pittsburgh).
Fort Prince George’s garrison surrenders without a fight to a French force of 500 men. The French begin constructing Fort Duquesne shortly thereafter.
A Virginia militia detachment under George Washington attack a small French force east of present-day Uniontown, PA. Eleven French soldiers, including their commander Ensign Villiers de Jumonville, are killed; 21 are captured, and only one French soldier escapes. Washington loses are one man killed and a few wounded out of 40 under his command. This brief encounter is considered to be the beginning of the French and Indian War.
Approximately 600 French troops and 100 Native Americans attack 300 colonial and British soldiers at the hastily built Fort Necessity.
Washington surrenders the fort and retreats to Virginia.
Major-General Edward Braddock’s British army of about 1,350 British regulars and 500 colonial troops leave Alexandria, VA, intending to capture Fort Duquesne.
Braddock’s campaign ends in disaster at the Battle of Monongahela, eight miles east of Fort Duquesne. Nearly two-thirds of the 1,500 British troops engaged are killed or wounded, including Braddock himself, who dies during the retreat. The French and Indian force of nearly 900 suffers less than 50 casualties.
Following Braddock’s defeat, natives begin a reign of terror on the frontier with an attack on the Penn’s Creek settlement on the Susquehanna River.
Great Britain issues a formal declaration of war against France
A French and Indian force captures and burns Fort Granville (near Lewiston, PA).
Lieutenant Colonel Henry Bouquet arrives in New York to begin recruiting soldiers for the new 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot.
Colonel John Armstrong leads a force of 300 Pennsylvanians on a successful raid of the Delaware village of Kittanning.
Brigadier General John Forbes arrives in Philadelphia to organize an expedition against Fort Duquesne.
British forces begin building Forbes Road.
Construction of a fort and storehouses at Raystown (Bedford) begins.
Colonel James Burd arrives at Loyalhanna with 2,500 men to begin constructing Fort Ligonier.
With Bouquet’s permission, Major James Grant launches an unsuccessful attack on Fort Duquesne, losing nearly 300 troops out of 850 engaged. The French and Native Americans lose 16 out of 800.
Fort Ligonier repulses a French attack.
Lenape and Iroquois sign the Treaty of Easton with the British at Easton, PA. In the treaty, colonials recognize Native American rights to lands west of the Allegheny Mountains. Native Americans in turn promise to remain neutral in the conflict between France and England, and detach themselves from their French alliances.
General Forbes and his entourage reach Loyalhanna.
The French abandon and destroy Fort Duquesne. General Forbes and his army take formal possession of the fort the following day.
Forbes renames Fort Duquesne Pittsburgh, in honor of Prime Minister William Pitt.
General Forbes dies in Philadelphia.
A large French force at Venango prepares to attack Pittsburgh when it is ordered to march to the assistance of Fort Niagara instead.
Fort Niagara surrenders to the British.
The French destroy their remaining forts—Machault, LeBoeuf, and Presqu’ Isle—and abandon western Pennsylvania.
Construction begins on Fort Pitt.
British begin building Fort Pitt, the South Fork of Forbes Road (Bouquet’s Road), and the post at Bushy Run (Wetterholt’s).
British General Wolfe defeats French General Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham, outside Quebec.
Quebec surrenders to the British.
Colonel Bouquet leads an expedition from Fort Pitt to Presqu’ Isle to construct a fort there. The British also build forts at Venango and LeBoeuf.
French Canada surrenders to the British Army, ending most of the fighting between the French and the British in North America.
Amherst orders a reduction in presents to Native American leaders.
Despite previous promises at Easton to the Natives that there would be no permanent settlements west of the Allegheny Mts., Bouquet asks General Jeffrey Amherst to authorize the building of taverns between Bedford and Pittsburgh.
At a conference near Detroit, the Seneca seek Shawnee and western tribe support (Wyandot, Chippewa, Potawatomi and Ottawa) for attacks on Forts Detroit, Sandusky, LeBoeuf, Venango and Pitt. The Wyandot persuade the other tribes not to join the plot.
Bouquet issues a proclamation forbidding hunting and settling west of the Alleghenies. The law proves to be unenforceable.
British and French sign The Treaty of Paris, officially ending the French and Indian War.
Pontiac, an Ottawa leader, reportedly addresses a council of Native Americans near Detroit, convincing them that a war with the British is necessary to protect their way of life.
Pontiac’s War begins. Native Americans under Pontiac attack Fort Detroit and besiege it under October 30th.
Native Americans capture the western forts of Sandusky, St. Joseph and Miami.
Native Americans begin harassing Fort Pitt.
Fort Ouiatenon falls to the natives.
Fort Michilimackinac is the last western outpost to fall. Native Americans fire on Fort Ligonier.
Upon receiving reports from Captain Ecuyer, commander of Fort Pitt, of the disasters on the frontier, General Amherst assembles his last reserves—the 42nd and 77th Highland regiments—on Staten Island.
Amherst sends two light infantry companies to Bouquet in Carlisle.
Native Americans capture Fort Venango and massacre its small garrison.
Native Americans capture Fort LeBoeuf. Most of the garrison escapes to Fort Pitt.
Native Americans ambush a fifteen-man foray party just outside Fort Ligonier.
After a two-day fight, Fort Presqu’ Isle surrenders and Native Americans take its garrison captive. By the end of the month, Indians sever Fort Pitt’s communications.
Amherst sends 360 Highlanders from New York to join Bouquet’s troops in Carlisle.
The first two companies of Highlanders arrive in Carlisle.
Pennsylvania’s Provincial Assembly authorizes the recruiting of 700 men to guard the territory east of the Allegheny Mountains.
The final group of Highlanders from New York reaches Carlisle.
Bouquet’s expedition to relieve Fort Pitt leaves Carlisle.
Bouquet’s army reaches Fort Bedford and recruits scouts/woodsmen.
Delaware and Shawnee chiefs urge Captain Ecuyer to withdraw his garrison from Fort Pitt; Ecuyer declines.
The natives begin the attack and siege of Fort Pitt, which lasts until August 1st.
Bouquet’s troops reach Fort Ligonier; they rest for two days, and transfer the flour provisions for Fort Pitt from the wagon barrels they had been using to 340 packhorses.
The Battle of Bushy Run
Bouquet and his army reach Fort Pitt.
King George III signs the Proclamation of 1763, reserving land west of the Allegheny Mountains for the Native Americans.
A preliminary treaty is made with the Delaware and Shawnee by Colonel Bradstreet at Presqu’ Isle.
An army of 1,500 men, commanded by Colonel Bouquet, leaves Fort Pitt on an expedition into the Ohio Country.
Bouquet begins several days of conferences with the Native Americans at the forks of the Muskingum River in the Ohio Country. Over 200 prisoners are turned over to him, and the natives agree to send representatives to New York to make a formal treaty.
John Penn, Governor of Pennsylvania, proclaims the end of Pontiac’s War.