Teach PA History
Bushy Run: A decisive battle of Pontiac's Rebellion
Equipment & Supplies
  • Indian headdress or leather jacket with fringe Red jacket for the Englishman Off-white jacket for Frenchman Feather pen to sign treaty


Download and copy the combined worksheets for this lesson.

Session 1: Tension Builds Between the English and the Indians – How Far Can That Rubber Band Stretch?

1. Teacher begins the lesson with a large rubber band. Tell the students that one end of the rubber band represents the British, while the other end represents the Indians. Tension is building between the two groups. The time is May, 1763.

2. Select five students to represent the French, English, Native Americans, Pontiac, and reader in a short skit. (Refer to Worksheet 1: Skit-The Tension Builds). Teacher will provide props as follows: Indian headdress or leather jacket with fringe, Red jacket for the Englishman, Off-white jacket for Frenchman, Feather pen to sign treaty.

3. Students will read their lines using the props when appropriate. Teacher should stretch the rubber band as the tension builds. At the end of the skit, the rubber band should break.

4. Discuss the attacks that took place around Pittsburgh and how Fort Pitt, commanded by Captain Ecuyer, was a shelter for the refugees. By the end of May, there were 630 people in the fort. The first general assault on Fort Pitt came on June 22.

5. Distribute Worksheet 2: Fort Pitt Site Plan and the information sheet and information from the Fort Pitt Museum History site. Have students work in small groups answering questions about the fort on Worksheet 3: Pittsburgh's Pentagon, A "Point" of Discussion.

6. Lead a class discussion using the questions.

Session 2: Bouquet and Troops Set Out For Fort Pitt – Who Do They Meet Along the Way?

1. Teacher should review the happenings of the previous lesson, stressing the tension that has mounted on all sides. Display the broken rubber band and ask what they feel it symbolizes? (Conflict resulting from the extreme tension.)

2. Display Worksheet 4: Route of March of Colonel Henry Bouquet's men to Fort Pitt, 1763. Provide background information to the students about Captain Ecuyer, commander of Fort Pitt, and his learning that the Delaware and Mingo had abandoned their nearby towns and cornfields and had been trading skins for powder and lead. Ask, "What does this indicate?" (They were preparing for war.) On May 30, 1763, the Indians ambushed fourteen traders at Beaver River on their way to Fort Pitt. Only three escaped. These three brought back information that Fort Detroit was under attack and Sandusky had been burned. Ecuyer sent a letter to Colonel Bouquet, commanding officer of Pennsylvania and provinces south, who sent the letter on to General Amherst in New York. Ecuyer also noted that the Indians had massacred two of his men at the sawmill, had taken both scalps, and had left a war club to signify war. Forces were being increased at Bedford, Fort Ligonier, and Fort Bedford. Ecuyer took similar action to increase his defenses. On June 25th, it was learned that the Senecas had burned Fort LeBoeuf on the 18th. Fort Venango was also attacked with no survivors. On June 26th, it was learned that the fort at Presque Isle had been captured. Ecuyer sent these reports to Bouquet before the Indians closed the communications route in late June. Ligonier and Bedford kept up communication with the east, but heard nothing more from Fort Pitt. Bouquet proposed to Amherst that he would lead a relief expedition to Fort Pitt. By July 8, a bill had been passed and signed authorizing the recruiting of 700 additional troops to protect lands purchased from the Indians east of the Alleghenies, but it was too late for the troops to reach Bouquet. On July 10, Bouquet organized the troops that had arrived from New York. Many were recovering from malaria and few had any experience in wilderness fighting.

3. Divide students into small groups of four, giving each group a map of Bouquet's route (Worksheet 4a: Route of Colonel Henry Bouquet's March to Fort Pitt, 1763), an information sheet of Bouquet's March to Fort Pitt (Worksheet 4b: Student Information Sheet - Bouquet's Journey to Fort Pitt) and a journal listing the places on Bouquet's route (Worksheet 4c: Colonel Henry Bouquet's Journal).

4. Ask students to complete the journal entries using the information sheet.

5. Model the first entry with the class.

6. Discuss the entries recorded with the class.

Session 3: And This is What Happened…

1. Tell the students that they will be reading and analyzing two original letters that Bouquet wrote to Amherst on his way to Fort Pitt about the Battle at Bushy Run. Explain that these are primary sources that have the original spelling and grammar. In the following session, they used secondary sources to learn about the battle. Discuss the difference between the two kinds of sources. Primary – Original materials from the time period, such as a first hand account of the happenings recorded by the person. Secondary – Written after the event by people who were not directly involved, often commenting on and discussing the event or on primary sources. They may state opinions and often use hindsight. Discuss advantages and disadvantages of both. Primary – harder to read, but more accurate and detailed in most cases, reflect the opinions of the period. Secondary – Easier to interpret, may be opinionated, different points of view of the same event.

2. Divide the students into groups of three or four and distribute the first letter, marker Source 2: Bouquet to J. Amherst, 5th August, 1763. Ask the students to find the location of Bouquet and his troops when the letter was written. (26 miles from Fort Pitt.) Read the first sentence with the class and discuss what it means. ("After arriving at Ligonier, I learned nothing about the enemy since the troops sent to get information in July were either killed or had returned.")

3. Distribute the questions about the letter (Worksheet 4: Questions about Bouquet to Amherst Letter, August 5th, 1763) and ask each group to continue to read the letter and respond to the questions.

4. After 15 minutes, discuss the responses with the group.

5. Ask the students to reflect on the reading of Bouquet's original letters.

Session 5: Bouquet and Troops Surprise the Enemy, Ah Ha!

1. Distribute the second letter, marker Source 3: Bouquet to J. Amherst, 6th August, 1763, and ask the students to speculate what the letter would say.

2. Divide the students into small groups and ask each group to read the letter and respond to the questions (Worksheet 6: Questions about Bouquet to Amherst Letter, August 6th, 1763).

3. After 15 minutes, discuss the letter and questions with the class.

4. Distribute Worksheet 7: Thomas Hutchins' Map of Bushy Run and discuss the map and references comparing it to the information in the letters.

5. Distribute Worksheet 8: USGS Topographic Map of Bushy Run showing this area today. Have students compare the two maps. They should respond to the accuracy and detail in Hutchins' map in relation to the topography of the area.

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