November 10, 1777: Shawnee Leader Cornstalk Murdered in Point Pleasant

Nov 10, 2017

Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Shawnee leader Cornstalk was murdered while being held in captivity at Point Pleasant on November 10, 1777. He’d spent a lifetime fighting white settlers and the British Army in the vicinity of present West Virginia. 

In 1774, Cornstalk had led the resistance to a combined British and Virginia army that was on its way to attack Indian settlements in Ohio. Cornstalk’s men intercepted the Virginians at Point Pleasant. His Shawnee warriors were defeated after a valiant day of fighting.

After the Battle of Point Pleasant, Cornstalk helped negotiate a peace treaty with the British, but the Revolutionary War, which began just months later, shattered the truce. Early in the war, Cornstalk pledged neutrality because he worried his people would be caught in a military struggle they’d likely lose either way. In 1777, he returned to Point Pleasant to warn white settlers about renewed hostilities. Local authorities were suspicious of his motives, though, and took Cornstalk, his son Elinipsico, and sub-chief Red Hawk hostage. After two white men were killed in the area, local residents retaliated by murdering Cornstalk and the two others in cold blood.