Historical Markers
Kittanning Historical Marker
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Pittsburgh Region


Marker Location:
S. Water St. and W end Market St. Bridge, Kittanning

Dedication Date:
November 28, 1946

Behind the Marker

Kittanning, about 1755, "Scheme of an Expedition to Kittanning."
John Armstrong, "Scheme of an Expedition to Kittanning,"
"When the Indians were told they would be burnt if they did not surrender, one of them replied, he did not care, as he could kill four or five before he died; and as the Heat approached, some began to sing. –Some however burst out of the Houses, and attempted to reach the River, but were instantly shot down."

         -Report on the Kittanning raid from the Pennsylvania Gazette

Captain Jacobs, a Delaware chief from the Ohio Valley, traveled far and through dangerous territory to come to Philadelphia in August 1755. The dramatic markerdefeat of General Braddock's army a month earlier had emboldened the French, who continued to build fortifications in Jacobs" homelands.

While skeptical of British professions of friendship for the Indians, Jacobs was still going to need their aid to resist French encroachments in the Ohio Valley. He came to Philadelphia to request supplies from Pennsylvania governor Robert Hunter Morris, but Morris was unwilling to dip into the Penn family's pockets and the Quaker-dominated assembly would not appropriate money for military expenditures. Captain Jacobs returned home empty-handed and relations between Pennsylvania and the western Delaware hit a new low.
Black and white image of Colonel John Armstrong.
Colonel John Armstrong

Thus, Jacobs and the western Delaware found themselves allies of the French by default. Kittanning, a populous Delaware and Shawnee town on the Allegheny River, served as a base for their raids on colonial settlements. When Fort Granville in the Juniata Valley fell to an Indian attack in July 1756, Colonel John Armstrong raised a provincial force to marker attack Kittanning and recover the captives held there. In a surprise dawn raid on September 8, 1756, Armstrong and his men destroyed Kittanning and killed and scalped Captain Jacobs, as well as his wife and son, as they tried to escape their burning cabin. Despite their efforts, Armstrong's force recovered only seven captives, and during their return trip home, lost several times that number in casualties and captives during reprisal raids by Indian war parties.
The "Kittanning Destroyed Medal"

The raid on Kittanning was celebrated as a great victory in Pennsylvania, and a commemorative medal was struck in Philadelphia in Armstrong's honor. However, the impact of the Kittanning raid on the course of the French and Indian War in Pennsylvania was questionable. Colonial forces failed to follow it up with any decisive actions against hostile Indians in western Pennsylvania in 1756 or 1757, and it alienated any pro-British sentiment that may have remained among the western Delaware.

Furthermore, it was a harbinger of the scorched earth tactics that colonial and British forces would use in fighting Indians during the French and Indian War and American Revolution, including the burning of villages and crops and the murder of unarmed women and children. What had been a frontier of intercultural exchange and accommodation during the first half of the eighteenth century became during the 1750s a zone of interracial violence and hatred.
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