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▶  More from Ancient Combat The Lies that Bind Us
‘White Dogs’
Prelude to Revolution by John Bertrand, Military History, January 2017, pages 60-67


John Bertrand does an excellent job of exposing the lie of “Lord Dunmore’s War” without pointing a finger at the portion of the lie America adopted. Lord Dunmore was a Scottish son assimilated to English interests, who led an incursion into the Ohio Territory against the Shawnees, which resulted in the Battle of Point Pleasant, where Puckinsaw, Father of Tecumseh, was slain, a bloody draw that is shrouded in fog.

Dunmore—the man who would later arm black slaves against revolutionaries in Virginia and then abandon his black troops and evacuated himself—split his 2,300-man force into two columns, which seems a puzzle to those who do not consider the following:

-The commander, Colonel Andrew Lewis, and many of the men of the Southern detachment were Irish-born frontiersmen, meaning many had been sold into bondage by men like Dunmore in their youth and were fiercely interested in winning their own land.

-Dunmore negotiated with the Shawnee while he left Lewis in an exposed position at Point Pleasant with orders not to advance.

-After the Shawnees [1-2 underdogs] attacked and nearly broke Lewis’ force and Lewis counter-marched to finish the Shawnees at their principal town, Dunmore actually prevented Lewis—who had taken a bullet in the chest—from wiping out the spent Shawnees under Cornstalk, the Shawnee chief with whom he had miraculously made a treaty with.

It is clear from the managed outcome of the battle that this was a phony campaign to cement a British-Shawnee alliance against increasingly restive Americans. The author actually entertains this scandalous idea—that the frontier conflict was not a race war but a plantation proxy war. What the author does not perceive—interested in the number of unfree blacks in Virginia, but apparently ignorant that many white Virginians were also unfree—was the significance of some of the taunting that was aimed by the Shawnee, Mingo [half of these were probably white fugitives] and allied Indians during the night of murky battle at the point where the Kanawah [cone-way] and Ohio [good-river] come together.

During the night of brutal fighting, when scores of fighters and a handful of leaders fell on both sides, the outnumbered aggressors, moving through the night in their war paint, hurled taunts at the men of Lewis’ command. It should make all the sense in the world, that the proud Indians, who despised the white man’s domesticated way of life and kept dogs for pack animals and food, would call derisively into the night as they maneuvered against the riflemen on the ridge, that they were “white dogs.”

But, who exactly [and the fact causes the historian not a moment of pause] was out there among the Shawnees, painted for war, and taunting his white enemies with the term, “you sons of bitches?”

Of such overlooked things are our history made as they slip through the nether-folds of the Lie untold.

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