A Student of History

June 26, 2012

Dunmore’s War, 1774

Filed under: Early America,New books,Wars — John Maass @ 3:51 pm

New book coming in December from Westholme Publishing:

Known to history as “Dunmore’s War,” the 1774 campaign against a Shawnee-led Indian confederacy in the Ohio Country marked the final time an American colonial militia took to the field in His Majesty’s service and under royal command. Led by John Murray, the fourth Earl of Dunmore and royal governor of Virginia, a force of colonials including George Rogers Clark, Daniel Morgan, Michael Cresap, Adam Stephen, and Andrew Lewis successfully drove the Indians from the territory south of the Ohio River in parts of present-day West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. Although it proved to be the last Indian conflict of America’s colonial era, it is often neglected in histories, despite its major influence on the conduct of the Revolutionary War that followed. In Dunmore’s War: The Last Conflict of America’s Colonial Era, award-winning historian Glenn F. Williams explains the course and importance of this fascinating event. Supported by primary source research, the author describes each military operation and illustrates the transition of the Virginia militia from a loyal instrument of the king to a weapon of revolution. In the process, he corrects much of the folklore concerning the war and frontier fighting in general, demonstrating that the Americans did not adopt Indian tactics for wilderness fighting as is popularly thought, but rather adapted European techniques to the woods.

As an immediate result of Dunmore’s War, the frontier remained quiet for two years, giving the colonies the critical time to debate and declare independence before Britain convinced its Indian allies to resume attacks on American backcountry settlements. Ironically, at the same time Virginia militiamen fought the biggest battle of Dunmore’s War under command of a king’s officer, delegates to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia decided on a united resistance to Parliament’s heavy-handed Coercive, or “Intolerable” Acts that threatened representative government in all the colonies. Before another nine months passed, Virginia became one of the leading colonies in the move toward American independence. Although he was hailed as a hero at the end of the Indian campaign, Lord Dunmore’s attempt to maintain royal authority put him in direct opposition to many of the subordinates who followed him on the frontier. Before being driven from Virginia in 1776, he notably organized the “Royal Ethiopian Regiment” composed of slaves who were promised freedom if they deserted their rebel masters and entered military service to the crown.

GLENN F. WILLIAMS is a historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C. He is author of U.S.S. Constellation: A Short History of the Last All-Sail Warship Built by the U.S. Navy and the awardwinning Year of the Hangman, about the 1778 Sullivan-Clinton campaign against the Iroquois, also available from Westholme Publishing.

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1 Comment »

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    Comment by Camille — September 25, 2012 @ 4:26 am | Reply


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