PARKERSBURG - A Meigs County native has written a book about the Battle of Point Pleasant and whether it was the first fought in the Revolutionary War.
Charles S. Badgley of the Badgley Publishing Co., Canal Winchester, Ohio, says he often heard while growing up along the river in Meigs County that the battle was the first in the war, the basis of his most recent novel, "A Point of Controversy." Conventional wisdom was the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775 were the first in the war of independence.
"The controversy has been around a long time, it actually began right after the battle in 1774," he said. "It came to a head in the early 1900s when through the efforts of Livia Poffenbarger, the battlefield was secured and Congress was convinced to fund a memorial on the site, present day Tu-Endie-Wei Park."
Photo provided by West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
A park ranger at the Tu-Endie-Wei State Park in Point Pleasant polishes the bronze plaque on the Point Pleasant Battlefield Monument. Some believe the battle was the first of the Revolutionary War.
Poffenbarger wrote a book on the battle, saying it was a battle of the revolution, a covert attempt by the British to get time to increase its forces in the colonies. Afterward, a member of the committee, Virgil Anson Lewis, an historian and archivist of the state of West Virginia, changed his opinion and wrote a book refuting Poffenbarger's claim.
The controversy continues today, Badgley said.
"Right now there is an interesting debate going on at The History Channel's Revolutionary War discussion board," Badgley said.
Tu-Endie-Wei is a state park is at the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers where the monument is located to commemorate those who died in the battle with the Shawnee Chief Cornstalk on October 10,1774. "Tu-Endie-Wei" is a Wyandotte word meaning "point between two waters." The website is www.tu-endie-weistatepark.com/.
Under the command of Col. Andrew Lewis, 1,100 militiamen defeated about as many Indians led by Cornstalk. The war broke the indian hold on the Ohio Valley and prevented an alliance between the British and Indians, according to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
The British government had ordered Lord Dunmore of Virginia to discourage settlement of the land west of the river to pacify the Indians and maintain the profitable fur trade with the tribes. Settlers, eager to move west, in early 1774 killed the family of Chief Logan, a Mingo.
Logan retaliated in a raid, scalped 30 settlers and took prisoners. Skirmishes occurred more often with atrocities committed by both sides. Peace treaties had been signed with the Delaware and Iroquois in Pittsburgh, then Dunmore's army started south toward Point Pleasant.
The Shawnee under Cornstalk joined with Logan. Lewis marched from Lewisburg to the confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio and waited for Dunmore. Before Dunmore arrived, Cornstalk attacked Lewis and the fight, some of it hand-to-hand, lasted all day.
However, the firepower of the militia bested the Indians. Cornstalk lost 230 men and Lewis lost more than 50, including his brother, Col. Charles Lewis.
Those who discount the theory that Dunmore or the British attempted to start an indian war to divert the militias of Pennsylvania and Virginia so England can reinforce its troops say nothing exists to back it up, Badgley said. Supporters believe such records would have been destroyed to protect the integrity of the crown and Dunmore, he said.
The book was published by the Badgley Publishing Co., owned by Badgley, which has also published other histories.