Squaw Campaign

From Ohio History Central

In 1778, General Edward Hand, the American military commander at Fort Pitt, launched a war of retaliation against the Seneca-Cayuga people living in the Ohio Country for their alliance with the British. The British had reportedly provided the Ohio Seneca-Cayuga with a large amount of weapons and ammunition with which to defend themselves against invading Anglo-American settlers. Hand led five hundred militiamen against the Seneca-Cayuga. Simon Girty participated in the campaign as both a guide and interpreter for the Anglo-Americans. Hand's men failed to locate any American Indians. Seeing that his men were hungry, tired, and cold, Hand ordered a return to Fort Pitt. On the way back, they came across a small Lenape (Delaware) village. Among the Lenape were family members of Captain Pipe. The militiamen attacked even though the Lenape were currently at peace with the Americans. The soldiers killed two Lenape, including Captain Pipe's brother. Most of the Lenape escaped death because they informed Hand of a nearby Munsee Village. Hand sent a small detachment to capture the Munsee. The soldiers found only four women and a young boy. The militiamen killed all of the captives with the exception of one woman. Hand disapproved of the murders, since they were of non-combatants.  but he was not present when the murders took place and could not stop them. His men returned to Fort Pitt. Hand's offensive against these American Indians became known as the "Squaw Campaign," because most of the American Indians that the his men killed and captured were women.

Throughout the campaign, Hand experienced tremendous difficulty in controlling the undisciplined militiamen. The expedition demonstrated the need for regular soldiers in the Ohio Country to bolster Anglo-Americans' settlement of American Indian lands. Militiamen often lacked the training and the discipline necessary to defend American settlements on the frontier. The campaign also showed the urgent need for fortifications in the Ohio Country. Fort Pitt was too far away to assist the American military in campaigns in the Ohio Country.

See Also


  1. Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.