The First Battle of the American Revolution
by Rev. David T. Myers
There are two phases of the church which are understood in the Biblical record. One of them is the triumphant church, which are God’s people in heaven. The other is the militant church, which are God’s people in constant combat with the forces of wickedness on this earth. Primarily, that militancy is a spiritual one, but occasionally the militant church has to do battle in the physical realm. October 10, 1774 was one of those times.
Some years ago, we looked briefly at the beginning stage of this great battle between the Virginia militia and the Indians of Point Pleasant. That battle occurred on September 11, 1774, just about one month prior to the battle we are looking at today. (See entry) Here today is an account of the conclusion of their forced march through the wilderness. Remember, most of the eleven hundred Virginia militia, led by General Andrew Lewis, were members of the Presbyterian churches of Hanover Presbytery.
Arriving near present day Point Pleasant, West Virginia, the battle began with an attack by the Shawnee chief Cornstalk, with three hundred to five hundred and possibly even up to one thousand braves behind him. In fact, there were a series of skirmishes in the all day battle, some of which were hand to hand in nature. It was one of the most vicious battles which the Virginia backwoodsmen up to that point of their existence had to wage.
About one fifth of General Lewis’s men were killed and wounded, which translated out to 75 soldiers killed and 140 wounded. Judging the Indians injuries is difficult, but estimates range from a handful all the way up to two hundred and thirty casualties. When militia reserves came in around midnight, the Indians fled across the Ohio River. It was at a later date that the native Americans signed a treaty which opened up present day Kentucky and Tennessee. It also opened up both of those future states to the gospel in general, and in particular to the establishment of Presbyterian churches.
When they returned to Virginia, they discovered that the two battles of Lexington and Concord had already been fought up in Massachusetts. The American Revolution had started. Yet, because of all the future battles of that War of independence, this battle has been forgotten by historians. Yet this was the leading battle of the American War of Independence, and Presbyterian members had a pivotal part in it.
Words to live by: On occasion, there may be cause to actually take up arms and fight for your lives. This was one such occasion. With continual attacks upon settlements and meeting houses, it was either the Presbyterian inhabitants returning back to the sea-coast towns, where there was more security, or staying put and fighting for their faith, their families, and their churches. Certainly Samuel Davies, of the Hanover Presbytery, would preach many a war sermon to encourage the defense of both the faith and their lives from marauding Indians. And Presbyterian settlers took their life in their hands along with their sacred honor, and stood their ground and rallied on this occasion. Certainly the cultural mandate demands that we take our stand on biblical principles and against those who would seek to destroy that principles. Are you praying, and working, in at least one area of this cultural mandate?