Journal of the Expedition Down the River Ohio Under the Command of his Excellency John Earl of Dunmore Lieutenant and Governor General of his Majesty's Colony and Dominion of Virginia, 1774.

Dunmore, John Murray, Earl of, 1732-1809 [Browse]
Manuscript, Book
1 volume 32 x 22 cm (28 pages)


Getty AAT genre
Biographical/​Historical note
Lord John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore (1732-1809), was a Scottish-born British colonial governor in the American colonies and the Caribbean in the late 18th century. He became governor of the Province of New York in 1770 and served as the last royal governor of the Colony of Virginia from 1771 to 1775. During his governorship of Virginia, Dunmore initiated a series of campaigns, known as Lord Dunmore's War, against the Shawnee and Mingo nations. These campaigns were intended to extend Virginia's western borders past the Appalachian Mountains into the Ohio Country despite the boundary line set by the Royal Proclamation of 1763. Dunmore defeated the Shawnee nation at the Battle of Point Pleasant, gaining land south of the Ohio River. After Mingo nation leaders refused to submit to the terms of the Treaty of Camp Charlotte, Major William Crawford's forces destroyed their villages. Dunmore is also known for his 1775 proclamation promising freedom to any enslaved person who fought for the British Crown against American rebels in Virginia. Increasingly unpopular as revolutionary sentiments swelled, Dunmore was driven from Virginia in 1776 and returned to Britain. He later became the British colonial governor of the Bahamas from 1787 to 1796.
Summary note
Consists of a manuscript journal documenting the expedition of John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore (1732-1809), then the British royal governor of the Colony of Virginia, to the Ohio Valley against a Shawnee-led coalition of American Indian nations, including the Mingo, in order to extend the western border of the colony. This record of Lord Dunmore's War, presumably kept by one of the governor's aids, details the period from September 10th to November 18th, 1774. The journal includes entries describing military maneuvers, including a fold-out chart illustrating the line of march of Dunmore's force, as well as the proceedings of meetings and exchanges of prisoners between colonial and indigenous leaders. The journal provides an in-depth look into Dunmore's perspective on his militia's campaigns against the Shawnee and Mingo, including the Battle of Point Pleasant, negotiations surrounding the Treaty of Camp Charlotte, and other events. The journal opens with Dunmore's arrival at Fort Pitt (renamed Fort Dunmore in the governor's honor) on September 10th, 1774, and records his proclamation offering a reward of fifty pounds to anyone with information on the murder of several allied men of the Delaware nation. Dunmore's force departed Fort Pitt on September 26th, intending to rendezvous at the mouth of the Great Kanawha River with another force under the command of Colonel Andrew Lewis (1720-1781) who was marching from western Virginia toward the Ohio River. On October 10th, Lewis was surprised by a large Shawnee force under Chief Cornstalk at Point Pleasant on the Ohio. Although Lewis's force emerged the victors after a four-hour battle, they suffered 75 killed and 140 wounded out of a total of 1,100 men. Dunmore, who was marching his force up the Hocking River toward the Shawnee towns in the interior learned of the battle on the 16th: "About midnight an Express which followed our Track, came up, bringing intelligence from Colonel Lewis of an Engagement he had with the Shawanese and their Confederates, at the Mouth of the great Kanhawa, and that the Enemy had been defeated with a considerable loss." The news redoubled Dunmore's determination to "pursue the necessary Steps to chastise" those he characterized as "a Stubborn and Perfidious People." An entry from October 20th describes "the important day, in which we were either to march into our Enemy's Towns, or meet with a Repulse, just as the Advance-guard was forming to march, arrived a certain Matthew Elliot, and Indian Trader, whom they had sent as a Messenger... This messenger desired his Excellency to halt and not enter the Towns, and that they would wait upon him and comply with such demands as he might think proper for restoring the Peace of the country." The army moved to a good campsite, and "his Lordship gave the name of Camp Charlotte to this Place." On the 21st, a delegation arrived at Camp Charlotte, "where there were some Bearskins spread, on one of which his Lordship seated himself, and the Conference opened with a speech from the Corn-Stalk their Chief." The journal records the communications between Cornstalk and Dunmore in full. Following an exchange of prisoners including "one Sally Kelly, who had been taken from the great Kanhawa," the conference resumed with Dunmore's lengthy address to the Shawnee consuming nearly two pages. At the time the conference was in session, Colonel Lewis's force had finally approached Dunmore's, and the appearance of another army frightened the Shawnee and nearly scuttled the negotiations. Dunmore finally made contact with Lewis and the colonel ceased his advance. The entry from the 26th describes how, during the negotiations at Camp Charlotte, Major William Crawford (1722-1782) "with a detachment of 250 men, with an expert guide, was this night secretly ordered off to fall upon a Town of Mingoes at a place called the Salt Licks, as his Lordship had received undoubted intelligence that these people intended moving off with their Prisoners and Effects without coming to Terms." On the 29th, a peace treaty was finally concluded with lengthy addresses by "Nimoi a Shawanese Chief, with two Hostages, several white and some negroe Prisoners..." The lengthy address was concluded with "A Large String of Wampum" and answered by "Captain White-eyes the Delaware-Chief, addressing both Parties." The following day, Dunmore's forces departed for home. The final two pages of the journal have been crossed out, and it appears this account may have been prepared from an earlier version kept in the field. The final crossed out entry on November 18th reflects on the success of the militia model, as well as on the Yellow Creek Massacre, which Dunmore describes as: "This Act unworthy as it may be, has been a principal Cause why Justice has been done to many innocent sufferers: why pining Captives have been restored to liberty; and why a haughty, restless, and imperious enemy have been reduced to a Sense of their insignificancy."
Binding note
By the time this manuscript arrived in the Princeton University Library, the old sewing (side-stitched, using two types of thread) had failed and was causing damage to the textblock. The old thread was removed in the Library's Conservation laboratory so that each leaf could be mended with Japanese tissue and placed in a Mylar sleeve for protection. A photograph of the sewing and the thread that was removed are in a folder at the back of the box.
From the collection of François-Jean de Beauvoir, Marquis de Chastellux (1734-1788).
Source acquisition
Purchased with support from the Barksdale-Dabney-Henry Fund for Research and Teaching on Patrick Henry and Early Americana, 2018 [AM 2018-70].
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