Saturday, August 5, 2017

On this date in 1763, the Battle of Bushy Run, it would be the critical turning point in Pontiac’s War. It also became one of the most memorable moments in North American Military history.

Pontiac by Robert Griffing

With the outbreak of Pontiac's War in the spring of 1763, Native American warriors placed Fort Pitt under siege and began raiding British settlements to the east around Fort Bedford and Raystown, Pennsylvania.
On July 18th Colonel Henry Bouquet departed Carlisle, with a relief column for Fort Pitt. His column numbered around 460 men and included elements of the 60th Royal Americans and the 42nd and 77th Highlanders.
Though he had no firm intelligence regarding the siege, he felt an urge to increase the speed of the advance. As a result, he left his ammunition and wagon trains at Fort Ligonier and pressed on with around 300 men and 340 horses loaded with provisions.
Bouquet's instincts proved correct as the Native Americans had already attempted to storm the fort. Learning of the Bouquet's advance, the Native Americans broke off the siege of Fort Pitt and moved east to lay an ambush for Bouquet's column near Bushy Run.

On August 4, the lead elements of Bouquet's force were attacked by Delaware and Shawnee warriors. Believing the attack to be more than a small skirmish, Bouquet ordered his entire command to assume a circular defensive position on nearby Edge Hill. Using bags of flour, from the provisions, to help fortify their position, the British dug in for the night. In the morning, the Native Americans renewed their assault against Bouquet's men.
With the battle raging, Bouquet planned a trap for the attackers. With the enemy pushing closer, he ordered two companies of light infantry to fall back from their position along the perimeter as though a retreat had begun. Believing the British were retreating, the Native Americans charged into the gap. Here they quickly came under fire from two sides. Taking heavy losses, they were then assaulted by a bayonet charge from the Highlanders. Stunned, the survivors began fleeing the battlefield, leaving Bouquet in command of the field.
Colonel Henry Bouquet’s resolute Highlanders turned calamity into victory through sheer bravery and the wielding of cold steel.
Recovering his wounded, Bouquet resumed his advance and reached Fort Pitt five days later. The destruction of the Native American force at Bushy Run, along with the arrival of supplies and reinforcements ensured that the Fort Pitt remained in British hands for the remainder of the conflict.

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