On this day in 1782, American Colonel William Crawford marches his army towards the Ohio River, where General George Washington has charged him with attacking local Indians who had sided with the British in the American Revolution.
Colonel Crawford, a close friend of General Washington and a veteran of British military encounters with Native Americans in the French and Indian War, Pontiac’s Rebellion and Lord Dunmore’s War, had agreed to come out of retirement in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, to assist his fellow Virginian in the fight for American independence.
The expedition ended in a slow, harrowing death for Crawford. On June 6, his supply chain disintegrated and Wyandot Indians surrounded Crawford and his men. The Indians of the Ohio region were enraged by the recent slaughter of pacifist Christian Indians at the Moravian mission in Gnadenhutten, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately for Crawford, some of the perpetrators of the Gnadenhutten Massacre were among his men.
Patriots had shot the women and children of the Gnadenhutten mission from behind as they knelt in prayer on March 8, 1782. The Wyandots, under Chief Konieschguanokee (Captain Pipe), took their revenge by torturing the members of Crawford’s party. Crawford and his son-in-law William Harrison were scalped and burned at the stake; Crawford finally died after two hours of torment. At least 250 members of Crawford’s party were killed in the disastrous encounter.
Crawford’s horrendous death ensured that he would be remembered as a martyr. The site of his execution is included on the National Register of Historic Places and a monument has been erected there in his memory. Counties in Ohio and Pennsylvania also bear his name.