Posted by: unclesamshistory | September 25, 2011

Gnadenhutten Massacure

In 1782 one of the gravest incidents of the early frontier was perpetrated on friendly Christian Indians. The Moravian monks had
succeeded in converting a settlement of Indians on the border of Pennsylvania and Ohio. They taught the converts how to farm and get the most from the land.  Soon the Indians were self sufficient, with good crops of corn, squash and other staples. Not far from their settlement, called Gnadenhutten, the settlers in western Pennsylvania were coping with failed crops and near starvation, plus the constant fear of Indian raids that were sweeping the territory.

Hostile Indians, loyal to the British, felt this peaceful group was a threat and with British encouragement forced the village
to move deeper into the Ohio Territory. Unfortunately this new land was ill prepared for the invasion of several hundred people. It was too late to plant crops and their fields of corn were ripe at the old village but their capturers forbid them to go back for the harvest. Starvation drives men to special heights and over one hundred, men, women and children went back to Gnadenhutten
to gather what corn they could salvage.

The western Pennsylvania residents had no knowledge that the village had been moved. Blaming this peaceful group of Indians for the raids by the hostiles a militia of 160 men was formed to march on Gnadenhutten and teach these Injins a lesson. It happened at the same time the Indians had returned to gather the crops standing idle in the field.

When the militia found the Indians in the field they herded them into the large storage building. No one tried to escape; the
captives went in and prayed throughout the night. In the morning as the Indians knelt in prayer each was systematically struck on the head with a bung hammer. Heads crushed they fell instantly in death, men, women and children. Two young boys escaped one by hiding the other by pretending to be dead, even while a militiaman scalped him. The bodies were piled in the building and the structure set on fire.

It was never proven that these Moravian converts had ever helped the raiding parties or that they were anything more than what they said they were, a peaceful community.. For a more detailed story of the Gnadenhutten Massacre a chapter is devoted to it in my book Frontier Preacher.

I invite you to visit my web site

Frontier Preacher and Frontier
at Three Rivers
are available from Amazon, or
or or your favorite book seller.



  1. […] Sam also writes at history blog at Word Press, unclesamhistory. The latest post is the Gnadenhutten Massacre. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: