Posted by: unclesamshistory | October 28, 2011

Man’s Inhumanity to Man

The so called insurrection of western Pennsylvania against the new Federal Whiskey Tax had rubbed the nerves raw in the capital at Philadelphia. Alexander Hamilton, secretary of the treasury, pushed Washington to teach these frontier folks a lesson. The uprising had all but disappeared, the leaders had fled down river to Spanish safety and an armistice of sorts had been reached among the radicals that were left. Despite their pleas that it was over Washington pushed on with a federal force of approximately twelve thousand men.

The army was divided with some going west over Braddock’s Road and the other half by Forbes Road.  Governor Henry Lee from Virginia was named General of the Army. A job he obviously relished. Remember Virginia had just been pushed out of western Pennsylvania after their attempted takeover. Was he spoiling to rack revenge on the settlers for this failure? History doesn’t say but we can speculate.

 General Lee sent a list of eighteen men that were to be captured and brought to trial. Unfortunately the list didn’t specify which were to be prisoners and which were witnesses, so they were treated equally. It was a cold November night with the temperature below freezing when the mounted troupe swept down on the unsuspecting homes. Men were drug out of beds, some not allowed to get properly dressed and herded to an outdoor pen. The guards built a fire but kept the prisoners away from the flames with bayonet thrusts. Finally the group was moved to Fort Fayette where the conditions were not much better.

 With mounted guards on each side of this band of straggling prisoners they began their walk to Philadelphia. It was winter, and it was cold; they are ill equipped for a hike over the Allegheny Mountains. General Lee gave the order for the guards to draw their sabers and if any man tried to escape they were to cut off his head. I marvel that any of them made it alive, but they did. Even after over a month of sleeping outside in the cold, little to eat and even less to keep warm.

A more detailed description of this inhumane act may be found in Frontier Preacher available from , Amazon or your favorite book seller.



  1. fascinating story which I had forgotten about. could make for a good article when the nation celebrates President’s Day.

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