On this date in 1755, the Delaware leader Shingas paused at the mouth of Loyalhanna Creek during his raids on English homesteads and addressed his prisoners:
“I do not want to carry on the war against the English and am now willing again to make peace with them and restore all their captives and everything else we have from them, provided the English comply with the following proposals:
1. The English should send five men among us who should live well at our expense, but will work for us without any other pay other than support for their families. The business of the men is to be employed in: 1) making powder; 2) smelting lead from the ore, and we will not only find them lead mines but mines of every other metal that is necessary; 3) weaving of blankets; 4) making and mending guns for us; and 5) making iron.
2. The English should come and settle among us with their families and promote spinning for shirts and in general should bring all kinds of trade among us that we might be supplied with what we want near home, and that we and the English should live together in love and friendship and become one people (but we do not insist nor desire that the English should be obliged to intermarry with us).
On these terms we would be glad to be at peace with the English.”
The English prisoners were to put this proposal in writing, but alas, no one had pen, ink, or paper.
How did Shingas come to have English prisoners? Months earlier he met with General Edward Braddock at Fort Cumberland, where the British were preparing for war against the French. They were fighting over the Ohio River Valley.
Shingas asked Braddock the primary question in the minds of the Delaware, Shawnees, Mingos, and the Iroquois Confederacy, “What do you intend to do with the land if you can drive the French and their Indians away?”
Braddock replied, “The English shall inhabit and inherit the land.”
Shingas inquired further, “Will the Indians that are friends to the English be permitted to live and trade among the English and have hunting grounds sufficient to support themselves and their families, as they have nowhere to flee but into the hands of the French?”
Braddock: “No savage shall inherit the land.”
Shingas then withdrew his support for the expedition, telling Braddock, “If we might not have liberty to live on the land we will not fight for it.”
Braddock was unconcerned, saying, “We do not need your help and have no doubt of driving the French and their Indians away.”
Shingas did decide to fight for his land—against the British. With Shawnee, Mingo, and French support, he rolled back the American frontier practically to Philadelphia. In pioneer homesteads from the Potomac River to Berks County, houses and barns were burnt. Cattle, hogs, and horses were slaughtered in the fields. Hundreds of men, women, and children were taken captive and distributed to Indians all the way to Fort Duquense (Pittsburgh). Within a year, the French commander at the fort counted five-hundred Pennsylvania pioneer scalps brought in the by the Indian raiders.
But these weren’t the only scalps being sought. Pennsylvania was offering a reward for them as well. Shingas, who only a few months earlier was asking the British how he could assist them, was now known as Shingas the Terrible. In Philadelphia, his scalp was worth seven-hundred dollars.