Robert McKenzie to Robert Stewart
Saturday Night [November 1757]
I am glad to find by your Lettr to Capt. Waggener that the Duncard Doctr is not escaped which we took here for granted. There is not a Man upon the Branch that can positively undertake to pilot the Party to his Settlemt & at this Time of the Year it is very dangerous to go such a Distance & over such bad Mountains witht a proper Guide. I wish you would undertake to send him up immeadiately, & if his Bail is not yet released I will be bound to return him safe, or bring a certain Certificate to prove that the Country will suffer Nothing from him for the future. I am to command the Party, & am therefore more anxious for its Success—I am sure the Good of the Service necessarily requires his Presence.1
A Party of 8 Indians fell upon two Hunters abt Sunsett. They fired 4 Shot at the Enemy but upon seeing the rest (three only being seen at first) they run off two different Ways both untouchd. One is come in the other missing—I shall endeavor to know what is become of him in the Morng—The man missing is Lane, the other Cox.2 I am Sir Yr Most obedt
1. Samuel Eckerlin led McKenzie’s party to the Dunkers’ encampment. The Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia), 5 Jan. 1758, quoted from a letter from Dumfries, Va., dated 27 Dec. 1757: “Captain M’Kenzie, who was sent out for the Dunkers, told me Yesterday, he found nothing on the Spot they inhabited but some Spears, broken Tomahawks, and the Ashes of their Hutts. The Spears were of French Make. (These Dunkers, as they live unmolested by the French, were supposed to be in their Interest.)” Eckerlin himself was released.
A later item in the Gazette (26 Jan.) reported that about the middle of September “Israel and Gabriel Eckerling, two of the Dumplers, who lately lived, as Hermits, in the Allegheny Mountains, near the Monongahela, with their Man Robert” were seen “in Prison at Quebec.”
2. On 8 Dec. 1757 the Maryland Gazette (Annapolis) reported “that on Friday the 25th of November, as one Cox, and another Man, were hunting for Deer, on the Virginia Side of Patowmack, a little above the Mouth of Conococheague, they discovered Three Indians sitting on a Log, and agreed each to Fire at his Man, which they did, and kill’d them both on the Spot, but the other made off immediately, and soon returned with 6 or 7 more Indians, when a Skirmish ensued, in which Cox and his Companion, Fired, one of them 4 Times, and the other 5, and mortally wounded one Indian, but were at last separated, and one of them made his Escape, but the other was taken Prisoner. The Indians burnt the Bodies of the Two Dead Indians, and carried off their Prisoner, and the Wounded Indian, who Died on the Way, and they buried him. The Second Night after, the Prisoner made his Escape, and came back the same Road, and got safe in; but on his Way, when he came to the Indian’s Grave, he dug his Body up, and scalp’d him, with a sharp Stone; for he was deprived of his Knife and every Weapon of Defence by the Indians, when he was taken Prisoner.” If Robert Stewart’s letter to GW enclosing McKenzie’s letter is correctly dated this incident must have occurred a week earlier than the newspaper account indicates.
The Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia), 2 Mar. 1758, provided other details: “This Mr John Lane . . . was taken Prisoner by the Indians last November (after he and one Cox had killed Two of them) stripped Naked, Pinioned, and had a Halter tied about his Neck, on which the Indians lay down, when they went to Sleep, but cut himself loose with a broken Piece of Bottle, which he had found on General Braddock’s Road, and concealed under his Arm; and on his Return, dug up an Indian which they had buried, took away his Match-coat, and scalped him with a broken Stone.” The same item appears in the Maryland Gazette (Annapolis), 16 Feb. 1758.
The hunters John Lane and James Cox were shot and killed in April 1758 by a detachment of the Virginia Regiment when the two hunters were disguised as Indians (see James Baker to GW, 10 April 1758, and GW to John Blair, 17 April 1758).