Fighting between the colonists and American Indians had been going on since the white man landed on the Americas, and before the fighting between the white Americans and the Native Americans began, fighting was happening between the Indian tribes over hunting grounds. So fighting had begun long before Dunmore’s War was declared.
Dunmore’s War – Causes of the War
During the colonial America period, Virginia and Ohio shared a border. The American Indians that lived along the Ohio border had been given the rights to that area to do their hunting but the Indians became hostile due to the British explores and colonists were entering their hunting lands. One of the first exploring parties that were attacked by these Indians was led by a famous explorer, Daniel Boone. His party was camped inside the Indian hunting grounds. The Indians deciding to show these white settlers that they did not want to lose anymore land, waited for some of the group to go collect firewood and get food to eat. The Indians killed several of the emigrants and captured two of the men. One of those captured men was Daniel Boone’s son, James. He and the other man captured were tortured to death. News of this tragedy traveled throughout the colonies. The brutal attacks continued and slowly got closer to the colonists’ settlements in Virginia.
Dunmore’s War – Planning and Attack
After several of these repeated attacks from the Native Indians, the governor of Virginia, John Murray, and was often called Lord Dunmore which is where the name Dunmore in Dunmore’s War comes from.
Dunmore personally asked the local government and authority if he could organize a volunteer militia and declare war on these hostile Indians. This courageous Lord Dunmore split his volunteer militia into two groups. Dunmore led 1,700 men and Colonel Lewis led 1,100. They had planned to split up and surround the Shawnee Indians, Lewis’ troops were attacked unexpectedly before the troops were able to meet. This slowed down the planned time to surround the Shawnee. Also, seventy-five men from Lewis’ company were killed and another 140 were wounded. This, of course reduced the amount of men Dunmore and Lewis could use to surround the Indians. The two groups of soldiers were finally able to surround the Shawnee camp in October of 1774.
Dunmore’s War – Purpose of the War
The purpose of surrounding the Indians was not to attack, but to form a treaty which stated that the Indians would have to give over some of their hunting grounds where they had attacked the settlers. Most of the Indian chiefs surrendered to the terms of the treaty, but a few chiefs refused to surrender. The tribes of these chiefs were attacked and eliminated for the sake of the treaty. The treaty only last a couple years, but it did bring peace between the colonists and Indians for a couple of years.