The Diary of William Trent 1763

William Trent (1715–1787) was a British merchant who served as an officer for the Virginia militia during the French and Indian War (1754–1763). This excerpt from Trent’s journal describes the siege of Fort Pitt (in what is now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), during Pontiac’s Rebellion, when native peoples west of the Appalachian Mountains revolted against British settlement in territories formerly held by the French.

[July 27, 1763]


Fifty-seven Indians all on horseback were seen from the fort, going down the road and some on foot. Soon after some were seen returning, some appeared in Hulings field cutting some wheat with their knives and a scythe[.] [W]e imagine they are hungry.  A gun was fired according to agreement to call them over to get their answer, soon after they appeared on the other side; as soon as they came over, Captain Ecuyer’s answer to this speech was delivered . . . , letting them know that we took this place from the French, that this was our home and we would defend it to the last, that we were able to defend it against all the Indians in the woods, that we had ammunition and provisions for three years (I wish we had for three months), that we paid no regard to the Ottawas and Chippawas, that we knew that if they were not already attacked, that they would be in a short time in their own country which would find enough for them to do. That they had pretended to be our friends, at the same time they murdered our traders in their towns and took their goods, that they stole our horses and cows from here, and killed some of our people, and every three or four days we hear the death halloo [a war cry], which we know must be some of their people who have been down the country and murdered some of the country people. That if they intended to be friends with us to go home to their towns and sit quietly till they heard from us. . . . The Yellow Bird, a Shawnee chief, asked for the four rifle guns we had taken from the four Indians the 25th[.] [T]hey were answered, if it appeared that their nation had done us no harm, and that they continued to behave well, when we were convinced of it that they should either have their guns or pay for them. He was very much enraged. . . . White Eyes and Wingenum seemed to be very much irritated and would not shake hands with our people at parting.

Mary C. Darlington, Pierre Joseph Céloron de Blainville, Simeon Ecuyer, and William M. Darlington, Fort Pitt and Letters from the Frontier (Pittsburgh, PA: J. R. Weldin, 1892), 103–104.

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