Pennsylvania Historic Preservation

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Bushy Run Battlefield Historic Park: the 251st Anniversary

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Bushy Run Battlefield is a state historic park located along Route 993 northwest of Greensburg and about one mile east of Harrison City in Westmoreland County.  The battlefield is associated with Pontiac’s Rebellion when Native American tribes rose up in 1763 in an attempt to drive out British interests after the end of the French and Indian War.

Pontiac was an Ottawa war chief who led the attack on Fort Detroit.  Other frontier forts fell to the Native Americans including Fort Le Boeuf in Waterford, Erie County, Pennsylvania.  Delaware and Shawnee lay siege to Fort Pitt at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers.  For several months they fired fire arrows at the fort trying burn out the Europeans.

General Jeffery Amherst

General Jeffery Amherst

 

General Jeffery Amherst was in charge of the British forces in North America at that time.  He became alarmed when he received no word from Fort Detroit and Fort Pitt.  He assigned Colonel Henry Bouquet the task of leading reinforcements and supplies out to the besieged Fort Pitt.   Elements from the 42nd and 77th Highlanders and Bouquet’s Sixtieth Foot, Royal Americans were assigned to Colonel Bouquet and they headed west from Carlisle, Pennsylvania on July 18, 1763.  They trekked over the mountains to Fort Ligonier by August 2, 1763.  They left Fort Ligonier with 300 pack animals carrying bags of flour and other supplies and headed for Fort Pitt.  On August 5, 1763 Bouquet’s men were attacked by Native Americans (probably a force composed of Seneca, Delaware and Shawnee) along Forbes Road about one mile east of Bushy Run Station.  A melee resulted with the Europeans taking 50 casualties.  They retreated to a hill to the east of where they were first attacked and unloaded the pack animals.  They used the flour bags to build a makeshift flour bag fort where they tended the wounded that evening.

 

Colonel Henry Bouquet

Colonel Henry Bouquet

 

On the morning of August 6, 1763, the Native Americans resumed their attack.  Fighting ensued during the morning.  Bouquet developed a plan where a couple of his companies would fake a retreat drawing in the Native Americans. The “retreating” companies then moved around and flanked the Native Americans.  The companies attacked and surprised the Native Americans driving them off.  Bouquet’s men had taken a lot of casualties, estimated at one quarter of his force.  Nevertheless, they had won the day.  Four days afterward, Bouquet’s forces lifted the siege of Fort Pitt.

 

 

Map of the second day’s battle at Bushy Run

Map of the second day’s battle at Bushy Run

The Battle of Bushy Run was as important as Gettysburg was to the Union Army during the Civil War.  It was the turning point of the Pontiac’s Rebellion.  The Native Americans thereafter lost the gains they had made.  Bouquet later led a large force of men into Ohio in 1764. The Native Americans finally surrendered in October, 1764 to Bouquet at the Forks of the Muskingum in Ohio ending the rebellion.

This August marks the 251st anniversary of the Battle of Bushy Run.  Reenactments of the battle will be held on both days, weather permitting. The first weekend in August is always set aside at the park for reenactment of the battle.  This year there will be additional events to commemorate the battle.  The schedule of events is as follows:

 

Saturday, August 2, 2014 and Sunday August 3, 2014 

10 AM to 4 PM

Admission fee for the day: $5/person, children under 3 for free.

Reenactments of the battle will be held on both days, weather permitting.

 

  

 

Directions to the park can be found on the Bushy Run Battlefield Website:

We hope to see you at Bushy Run Battlefield Historic Park!

Author: Mark McConaughy

Mark McConaughy, Ph.D., is the western Pennsylvania regional archaeologist for the Bureau for Historic Preservation of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission responsible for reviewing proposed coal mine projects.

One Comment

  1. Thank you for a most informative article, Mark. I’ll see you at BRB this week end at the 251st commemoration. PH

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