In May 1763,
Pontiac, a hitherto unknown Ottawa chief, launched an all-out war
for Native American independence from the British. In short order,
Pontiac's forces destroyed eight British forts and countless settlements.
By June, Fort Pitt, which in addition to its 125 man military garrison,
housed over 600 frontier refugees, was also under siege. A 500 man
force, consisting of elements of the 42nd and 77th Highland Regiments
and some Royal Americans, under command of Col. Henry Bouquet, assembled
in Carlisle, PA and departed on July 18 to relieve Fort Pitt.
afternoon of August 5, at Chestnut Ridge, one mile short of Bushy
Run Station, where it was to camp for the night, Bouquet's forces
were attacked by the Indians. Artist Robert Griffing depicts the
Highlanders immediately charging what they believe to be no more
than a small ambush, before falling back into a defensive perimeter
as the size of the opposing force becomes apparent. Bouquet constructed
a makeshift fort using the bags of flour carried by the 250 pack
horses in his column, but with close to 70 officers and men dead
or wounded, no water, and unable to abandon his pack animals, the
situation appeared bleak.
over the night of August 5-6, Bouquet devised a plan in which the
following day, by drawing the Indians into what they believed was
a collapsing perimeter, Bouquet was able to flank the Indians, register
the first victory of British/American forces over the Indians in
forest warfare, and in the process turn the tide in Pontiac's war.
Bouquet's relief column reached Fort Pitt four days later.