Delay at Fort Carlisle

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Posted by Cpl. MacWilliam on March 20, 2000 at 18:12:19:

Cousin Seamus,

I have received your latest message concerning Timothy's tragedy. He will indeed not be able to do drill with a musket. I have known men who have been forced into the King's ranks and have knocked out their right side teeth so they cannot bite a cartridge. It is indeed a shame that Timothy, so eager to serve the King, is beset with this maiming accident. However, I am sure he will make a fine rifleman and scout if indeed this Getz fellow can make him a left handed weapon.

I also have some news. This morning we were forming up in ranks to leave Carlisle to travel to Fort Morris when a cry went up that there was smoke sighted about a mile to the northwest. Along the ridge of the mountain to the north of the Fort there are several families with farms. Col. Bouquet called out a company of the Virginia militia commanded by young Major Washington and Capt. Croy was ordered to assemble our 77th Grenadiers. We marched quickly to the northwest on a wagon trail to reach the area where these cabins are located. The remainder of the troops were ordered to the town of Carlisle and to the ramparts of the Fort, to protect these areas in case of attack.

As we approached the cabins, belonging to the McCreary and Cavanaugh families, we observed that there had indeed been an attack. Several family members, including Mr. Cavanaugh and Mr. McCreary had been killed and scalped. Capt. Croy and Major Washington deployed the troops and we scoured the area for any savages. We saw none, they had disappeared as quickly as they had come. Several other members of these families had been brutally murdered including Cavanaugh's sons and his wife. We could discern all this after finding Mrs. McCreary and her two youngest children hiding, buried under fallen leaves in the nearby woods.

They were hysterical but Mrs. McCreary calmed a bit and told the story of several white men, most likely French, leading a group of 13 Shawnee who had attacked the cabins at daylight, setting them on fire and spreading destruction. Mrs. McCreary's two eldest children, both daughters of marriagable age, were taken by the savages, in addition to the youngest Cavanaugh son.

We did what we could for Mrs. McCreary and her two children, finally packing them up and taking them back to the Fort with us. Major Washington's milita were left to bury the dead. When we returned to the Fort and Capt. Croy gave his report, we were told by 1st Sgt. Campbell that we would remain at Fort Carlisle for a few more days until all was safe. There is a possibility that some of Col. Armstrong's provincials will stay even longer at Carlisle to protect it and await General Forbes who we now hear, although still very ill, is approaching the Susquehanna crossing.

So, dear cousin, our delay may play in your favor so we may still meet at Loudoun in a few weeks to travel to Fort Frederick. At this moment, as I write, you will be glad to hear that Uncle Quasi is sipping some rum with Davey Gunn and myself. We have been relieved of duty for a few hours and our dear Uncle is visiting with us. He has certainly endeared himself to our lads of the 77th Grenadiers, many of them referring to him as Uncle. He has kept our spirits high, even Pvt. Johnston and Black Dick MacGregor crack a smile when Uncle Quasi jokes with them.

Brother Gunn and I send our regards to Timothy and pray for his quick recovery. Make all haste south to meet us, but make sure that friend Timothy is well before leaving. Have you heard any news of Sgt. Toot, the last we heard he was in Berks County at Fort Henry. I do hope that he can also join us, along with cousins Many Flags and Three Tales, for the frontier fighting in MaryLand.

Pax Aye and God Save the King,

Cpl. Malcolm Angus MacWilliam, 77th Reg't of Foot, Grenadiers

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