George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Baker, 10 April 1758

From James Baker

Patterson’s April 10th 1758.


Yesterday in the afternoon as Mr Miller & 2 or 3 Countrymen more was riding from hear to Jenkins’s about 4 Miles from this, they were fired at by Cocks & Lane who was lying under the fence, the Countrymen came in on a full gallop and inform’d me that they were fired on by some Indians. I immediately sent out Lieut. Weedon with a Command of Men who followed their Tracts ’till dark, returning home I sent Ensign Chew out again this Morning to Reconniter on the other side the Mountain where he fell on their Tracts, and after pursuing them about 10 Miles he found a Beef that they had killed and cut out the Toungue and part of the hind Quarters he continued following them about a Mile further and discovered a smoke in the hollow of a Mountain coming nigh perceived them Bacueing their Meet [(]they being acquipt every way like Indians and as he had followed their Tracts from pretty near the place where Lieut. Weedon left them last Night had great reason to believe they were Enemy) and imediately fired on them. Lane was killed Dead and Cocks Mortally wounded, they brought to Bells Fort, where he left him with a Serjt & ⟨mutilated⟩ Men, he confes’d it was their own fault & blame know one else but themselves for the Accident.1 I am Sir Your mo. Obt Servt

J. Baker


1GW’s court of inquiry absolved Ens. Colby Chew of all blame in the incident. See GW to John Blair, 17 April 1758. Bell’s fort was a few miles west of Patterson’s fort, and both were north of Winchester and west of the main road. Printed in the Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia), 27 April 1758, as an “Extract of a Letter from a Gentleman in Winchester, dated April 18, 1758,” was the following item: “A very unlucky Accident lately happened in this Neighbourhood. On Sunday, the 9th Instant, David Miller, a Countryman, was fired at from behind some Rocks near the House of Aaron Jenkins, about 18 Miles from Winchester; some of the Country People going out afterwards, saw two Men, painted and dressed like Indians, who, on perceivi⟨n⟩g them, ran off with great Precipitation. The Neighbours being greatly alarmed at this, went to Pattison’s Fort, to inform the commanding Officer therewith, on which Ensign Coleby Chew was ordered out with a Party of Men; he soon fell upon their Tracks, and continued on them till he had crossed the North Mountain, where he found a Beef, with Part of the hind Quarters taken off, and the Tongue cut out in the Indian Manner: About a Mile from thence he saw two Men at a Fire; he advanced within a few Yards of them, and intended to have made them Prisoners, but one of his Soldiers firing, discovered him to the Men; who immediately endeavoured to lay hold of their Guns. Mr. Chew then, fearing that some of his Party might lose their Lives, fired upon them, and his Men followed his Example so effectually, that scarce one Bullet missed the Object it was aimed at. The Persons proved to be the famous Jacob [John] Lane, killed on the Spot, and James Cox, who, tho’ mortally wounded, lived long enough to tell the Soldiers they had done their Duty, and that Lane and himself deserved what they had met with. They were both painted and dressed so like Indians, even to the Cut of their Hair, that their most intimate Acquaintances could not distinguish them.

“It is not easy to assign the Reasons that induced those unhappy Persons, who had acquired great Reputation by their signal Services, to act in the Manner they did. An authentick Enquiry has been made by a Court of Officers into Ensign Chew’s Conduct on this Occasion, when Matters appeared much to his Honour and Credit.” This letter also appeared in the 4 May 1758 edition of the Maryland Gazette (Annapolis). For an earlier incident involving the two hunters Cox and Lane, see Robert McKenzie to Robert Stewart, November 1757, Enclosure I in Stewart to GW, 24 Nov. 1757.

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