A Chronology of the Colonial History
of North America
Edward J. Dodson
On the frontier and within the
wilderness territory, the struggle for control over the land
took on a particularly violent character. The rules of civilized
warfare were difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. Even the
most astute frontiersmen and their 'Indian' adversaries fell
victim in this environment of constant danger. To assume
anything, to accept anything at face value, to fail to be always
diligent, invited violent death. Too few learned the lessons of
the recent past or fully appreciated the forces of change at
work all around.
- Two American' expeditionary forces, one mounted in New
York and the other in Pennsylvania, take advantage of the absence
of Thayendanegea's warriors and destroy several Indian'
villages in the Wyoming and Susquehanna River valleys, including
Thayendanegea's own village of Oquaga. Thayendanegea and several
hundred of his warriors and their families are forced to take
refuge at the British-held Fort Niagara.
- Angered by their failure to take the white forts in
Can-tuc-kee, returning Shawnee warriors decide to take their
revenge out on Simon Kenton. Another council is called and Kenton
is once again condemned. Howeever, Girty convinces them to carry
out the execution at a major council being held at the British
trading post on the Upper Sandusky. Once more his torment began
anew. For his ninth gauntlet, Simon Kenton walked. No white man --
no person -- had ever done such a thing.
At the last moment, because of efforts by Girty and Tal-ga-yee-ta
(Logan), a British officer convinces the Shawnees to allow Kenton
to be taken to Fort Detroit for questioning. Once at Fort Detroit,
Kenton is given the freedom to move about in the city. The British
commander, Captain Drouilliard points out to Kenton that they were
a long way from American' territory and no one had ever
attempted an escape and lived.
- George Rogers Clark marches his army for seventy-one days to
the British fort at Vincennes, forcing General Hamilton to
surrender the fort. Upon news of Clark's extraordinary feat and
victory, some two hundred Delawares, under chief Running Fox ,
decide it is once again time to migrate if they are to survive.
Once more they move further west, this time abandoning their
village on the Little Kanawha River. Some four thousand Shawnees,
too, leave for the west as well.
1779 (15 April)
- George Washington plans a campaign against the Iroquois tribes
occupying the territory around the Finger Lakes of New York. This
is to be a campaign to destroy the Iroquois towns and crops rather
than engage them in battle. Six hundred men under Colonel Daniel
Brodhead move north from Fort Pitt. From the east, 5,000 troops
commanded by Major General John Sullivan are committed to the
campaign. To Sullivan, Washington writes: "The immediate
objects are the total destruction of the hostile tribes of the Six
Nations, and the devastation of their settlement, and the capture
of as many prisoners of every age and sex as possible. You are to
lay waste to all the settlements around, so that the country may
not only be overrun, but destroyed."
1779 (21 April)
- Some 500 Americans' commanded by Colonel Goose Van
Schaick surprise and destroy Onondaga, capital of the Iroquois
League. Unbelievably, the Americans' were guided by
Hanyerry, a chief in the Oneida tribe, and Oneida warriors --
members of the Iroquois League itself.
- General Sullivan's army begins to move against the Iroquois,
leaving its gathering point at Easton, Pa. and moving upward
through the Mohawk Valley. The two armies were to rendezvous at
- With help from Captain Drouilliard, Simon Kenton makes his
escape from Detroit, arriving at Vincennnes on July 5. At
Vincennes, he meets with George Rogers Clark and briefs him on
conditions at Detroit. The following morning he is on his way back
1779 (4 July)
- A French-Canadian, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, establishes a
trading post on the Checagou Portage at the southwestern end of
Lake Michigan, establishing the first white presence at this site.
1779 (5 July 5)
- At the camp of General James Clinton, at the foot of Otsego
Lake, Chief Hanyerry addresses his warriors: "Those great
thundering guns speak words that all the people of the Six Nations
should listen to, but refuse. They speak words of death and
destructionand an end to the way we and those before ushave always
lived. Our world is no more the world we once knew; we are no
longer the way we were. Our world changes before our eyes and if
we cannot change with it then we, like our brothers the Mohawks
and Senecas, Cayugas and Onondagas and Tuscaroras, will become no
more than a memory."
- An American' force commanded by General Anthony Wayne
captures the British fortress of Stony Point on the Hudson River.
Wayne's men hereafter call him "Mad Anthony" because of
his courage under fire.
- An American' force of regulars under Colonel John Bowman
attacks and burns the Shawnee village at Chillicothe, while most
of the warriors are at a council meeting at Wapatomica. One of the
Shawnees mortally wounded in the fight is Black Fish, principal
chief of the Shawnees. The angry Shawnees vow revenge.
1779 (28 July)
- General Sullivan prepares his army to march out of Easton and
orders General Clinton downstream from Otsego Lake. Clinton's
passage is eased by steps he has taken a month earlier to dam and
raise the level of the lake; when the dam is broken a deep water
channel is created to carry his equipment-laden bateaux
1779 (11 August)
- General Sullivan's army reaches the Indian' villages of
Queen Esther's Town and Tioga at the junction of the Susquehanna
and Chemung Rivers. Both villages were abandoned and are
destroyed. The next target is the Seneca village of Chemung
further up the river, which they burn and destroy surrounding
Clinton's force, marching southwest pass through several
abandoned Indian' villages and the Tory town of Aleout, each
of which is burned. Clinton finally meets up with Sullivan at
Tioga on August 21.
The next target for the American' army is Newtown, only ten
miles from where they are encamped on the Chemung River.
Thayendanegea and John Butler here decide to set up an ambush. The
trap is discovered by Sullivan's advance troops. After two hours
of fighting the Indians' and British retreat. The Americans'
move into Newtown which they burn. Every Iroquois village in
Sullivan's path is now abandoned, left to be burned. Chenussio,
the largest and most distant of the villages, is burned the last
week of September. The army then returns to Fort Sullivan at
Sullivan's army has destroyed nearly fifty Indian' towns
and villages and vast quantities of corn, grain, vegetables and
fruit trees. The Iroquois league is destroyed in the process.
1779 (31 October)
- A young surveyor named Andrew Jackson picks a fight with Simon
Kenton and is badly beaten for his trouble.
1780 (30 May)
- Simon Kenton is reunited with his older brother and learns that
he has no reason to hide from the law, that the man he thought he
had killed is alive; from this day forward he returned to the use
of his given name.
- In response to frequent and devastating attacks on the frontier
by Shawnee war parties, accompanied by English officers, Thomas
Jefferson (now governor of Virginia) sends 150 troops under
Colonial John Slaughter to Fort Jefferson at the Falls of the
Ohio. Slaughter puts himself and his men under the command of
George Rogers Clark, who is planning a major offensive against the
- As Clark's army approaches Chillicothe, Chief Catahecassa
(warned by Simon Girty) decides to abandon the village and move to
the Mad River village of Piqua Town.
1781 (19 October)
- General Cornwallis, his army under seige by the Continental
army and the French, and any possibility of escape or
reinforcement blocked by a French naval force in Chesapeake Bay,
surrenders to George Washington at Yorktown.
- A village of some 150 Moravian (Christian) Indians' are
murdered by an American' force commanded by Colonel David
Williamson. A second village is warned by two young boys who
managed to escape. This act merely served to intensify the raids
conducted by the Shawnees and other tribes against the frontier
- An army commanded by Colonial William Crawford (in which
Williamson is present) rides through the Plains of Sandusky and
into an ambush set up by the Indians'. Williamson escapes
but Crawford is captured, tortured and burned at the stake.
- A British force, accompanied by a thousand Indians' led
by the Iroquois chief, Thayendanega (Joseph Brant), marches to
Can-tuc-kee. Unfortunately for the British, the long journey
frustrates many of the Indians' so that by the time they
reach Can-tuc-kee less than 250 remain. They attack Bryant's
Station, which holds out until the British fear a counterattack
and retreat. The Kentuckians follow and are severely beaten.
- George Rogers Clark raises an army of some 1,000 men to ride
across the Ohio River against the Shawnee villages of Chillicothe
and Piqua Town. Simon Kenton is put in charge of the army's scouts
and spies. Both villages are burned after being abandoned by the
Shawnees ahead of Clark's arrival.
1782 (30 November)
- On behalf of the united States, John Adams signs the
provisional articles to the Treaty of Peace with Britain. The
British, remarkably, accede to Adams' demand that the western
boundary be established at the Mississippi River.
- At age fifteen, Tecumseh takes part in in a raid against a
party of whites encamped on the north shore of the Ohio. The one
white survivor is taken back to the Shawnee village and burned at
the stake, after which Tecumseh speeks to his fellow tribesmen: "You
will say that I am young and inexperienced in such matters, and
you will be right, but I cannot keep from speaking. What I have
seen here has made me sick and ashamed for you and for myself.
What bravery, what courage, what strength is there in the
torturing of a man unable to defend himself? Are we so unsure of
ourselves that in order to prove our superiority, our own
excellence, we must resort to something as disgusting and
degrading as this? Hear me now, my older brothers, for I speak
from my heart and my heart is heavy with shame and revulsion. Our
dearly loved chief, Black Fish, was strongly opposed to death at
the stake, but until today I never really understood why. Now I
do. Now I see that in the very act of committing it we lower
ourselves to something beneath animals, to something evil and
hideous and revolting. I do not and can not believe Moneto could
approve of such cowardice, of such desire to inflict unnecessary
pain. An enemy he was, yes! Death he deserved, yes! But the death
of a man, not that of a rat cornered and tied and burned alive.
How have we the right to call ourselves warriors, or even men, if
we act in such manner? My heart is sick and heavy and what I have
seen here will never be erased from my mind and I will never stop
being ashamed of it. Young I may be. Inexperienced I may be. Yet
this I can say with certainty: Never again will I take part in the
torture like this of any living creature, man or animal. Never!
Nor will I consider as friend any man who will allow himself to
take part in so degrading a measure."
- Viginia declares the Virginia Military Lands -- all the country
bordered by the Ohio River to the south, the Scioto River to the
east, and the Little Miami River to the west -- open for
distribution to those who had served in the regiments of Virginia
during the war.
Connecticut reaffirms its claims to land along the southern shore
of Lake Erie, some 3.5 million acres called the Western Reserve
1783 (3 September)
- The Treaty of Paris is signed. Only Fort Niagara and Detroit
remained in British hands, although the British government agrees
to leave "in due time and will convenient speed." The
western boundary of between British and American possessions is
proposed by the British as the Ohio River. Except for John Adams,
this might have been accepted by the American commissioners.
Instead, the British agree to the Mississippi River as the
- George Washington relinquishes his command of the Continental
Army and returns to his home in Virginia.
- New York City is made capital of the Union (or, as the nation
was variously described in writing: the united States of
America or the United States of America.
- By treaty, the Ottawas, Delawares, Chippewas and Wyandots cede
to the united States nearly all the lands in the Ohio
country. The Shawness, the most rightful claimants to this
territory did not participate in the treaty negotiations.
1784 (27 October)
- The second Treaty of Fort Stanwix is signed, by which the
Iroquois League cedes to the united States all claims to territory
west of the New York and Pennsylvania boundaries.
- Gathered at Fort McIntosh on the Ohio River below Pittsburgh,
the chiefs of the Wyandot, Delaware, Ottawa and Chippewa nations
are forced to sign a treaty ceding to the Americans'
territory occupied by the Shawnees, Mingoes and Miamis, none of
whom had been invited to the treaty negotiation.
TO PART 3
Now comes the final act to the
drama taking place east of the Mississippi River.