Andrew Lewis

This picture shows Andrew Lewis with five other prominent Virginians (Patrick Henry, John Marshall, Thomas Nelson, Thomas Jefferson and George Mason) beneath the statue of George Washington


With his father John, Andrew Lewis is credited with naming the Greenbrier River and its valley. While surveying in the area, they fell into a patch of "green briars," hence the name. This was around 1751; before that, Andrew and his brother Thomas had been surveying along the Cowpasture in present-day Bath and Highland Counties, VA.

Andrew Lewis served under George Washington at Great Meadows against the French, where Fort Necessity was erected. He was twice wounded before the fort was surrendered in 3 July 1754. He was wounded in the Battle of Monongahela, where he held the rank of Major.

The next year, he wrote the following letter to his brother Thomas while on the frontier:


Jackson's River, May ye 15th, 1755

Dear Brother,

I have been stopping here several days in purchasing of provisions. I have purchased as much grain as will serve 3 months, but will have a great deal of deficiency in getting of meat. I propose to march in ye Narrows towards Greenbrier. I think I shall go to Marling's (now Marlinton, WV) in two days, where I propose to construct a small fort. I hope you will be so kind as to remind Mr. Jones to bring pay for my company from Colonel Wood as often as he has the opportunity, which he promised to do. I have nothing new to acquaint you of. I am, dear brother, your most affectionate and humble servant,

Andrew Lewis


As a result of increased Indian raiding and massacres, Andrew Lewis (then Major) was dispatched by Governor Dinwiddie with a company of men to patrol along the Big Sandy. A record of this expedition is preserved in the narrative of Lewis' cousin, William Preston, who served under him, in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin's Draper Manuscripts. Provisions ran out, some men threatened mutiny, and the mission was abandoned without ever having sight of the Indians.

Next, Major Lewis was involved, at the appointment of George Washington, in the construction of a chain of frontier forts ranging from the Hampshire Co, VA line down to the North Carolina border.

In 1758, Lewis was out with Forbes' army in Grant's detachment, which was defeated in the September 14th attack on Fort Duquesne. Lewis was among those taken prisoner and sent to Montreal. While in prison, Grant wrote a letter falsely alleging that the defeat and capture were the fault of Major Lewis. When Lewis learned of the treachery, he spat upon Grant in the presence of the French officers, turned on his heel, and stalked away. Following his release, he continued to serve in Forbes' regiment until it was disbanded in 1762. During this service, he was often engaged against the Cherokee.

He became county-lieutenant for Augusta Co, VA in 1763 and was equipped with a force of 250 riflemen to go out on the Bouquet campaign. In 1768 he was appointed Virginia commissioner to treat with the Indians at Fort Stanwix and again in 1770 at Lochaber. Around this time, he moved from Staunton in Augusta Co, VA to what is now Salem, VA where he established a home known as "Richfield." His post of county-lieutenant was transferred to the newly formed Botetourt Co, VA while his younger brother Colonel Charles Lewis took over his post in Augusta Co.

In 1774, Lord Dunmore, beset with problems of his own in Williamsburg, employed John Connelly as his agent in the frontier. Connolly abused his power, and among his ill-fated acts was spreading the word (falsely) along the frontier that the Indians were ready to break out into full war and that the citizens should arm themselves. Tensions erupted that spring, with massacres, fighting, and burnings all along the frontier. The atrocities were committed by both the Indians and the Whites. On June 10, with Indian bands advancing to within 30 miles of the Botetourt courthouse, Governor Dunmore took action, and Major Lewis was called upon to be a leader of the defense. It has been argued that by taking up a fight with the Indians, Dunmore (a Tory) hoped to divert the attention of the Virginians from the trouble brewing with England and that Connolly was stirring up trouble on his behalf.

On 12 August, Lewis met at "Richfield" with his key officers. All the officers made their wills out in expectation of not returning, and Lewis' brother Charles was absent, having returned to his home in Staunton to bid goodbye to his family.

The original plan was for two armies to march to the Ohio valley. Lord Dunmore would be in charge of the Northern arm, and Lewis would be the commander of the Southern regiment. While Dunmore came down from the North, Lewis and his men would traverse the Alleghenies and meet up with Dunmore at Point Pleasant. Together, the armies would cross the Ohio river and attack the Indian towns along the Scioto.

Lewis was in charge of mustering the supplies for his regiment, a formidable task. A contingent of 600 horses and wagons hauled the goods out from the depot of Staunton to the far side of Warm Springs Mountain, which was the terminus of the wagon road to the west. There, all the goods had to be loaded on pack horses which would carry them over to the "Levels" of Greenbrier, which was the rendezvous point for the Southern regiment. It was known then as "Camp Union," but is known today as Lewisburg, WV. On September 1, Lewis assumed command of his troops at Camp Union.

The first troops, under the command of Lewis' brother Colonel Charles, were scheduled to move out on 6 September, but on the 4th, a letter was received from Lord Dunmore altering the marching plan of the southern regiment. They were to meet now at Parkersburg, at the Little Kanawha River instead of Point Pleasant. Lewis sent a message that a change of plans was not possible at such a late date. The troops then began moving out on a path that took them through the present-day counties of Greenbrier, Summers, and Fayette. Lewis' men reached "Elk," now Charleston, WV, on 23 September. He found his brother there engaged in preparations to float their provisions down the Kanawha to Point Pleasant. There had been no word from Lord Dunmore.

An army of about 1200 in number camped at the junction of the Elk and Kanawha rivers until 30 September, when they broke camp, leaving behind some provisions and the officers' horses. The forces reached Point Pleasant by 6 October. Word was waiting here from Lord Dunmore, informing Lewis that he and his regiment were encamped further up the Ohio. Lewis was to forge ahead across the Ohio without him, and he would meet up with him later. Lewis, however, decided to remain encamped at Point Pleasant until the Fincastle Regiment under Colonel William Christian, which was serving as rear guard, arrived with another load of supplies.

Sunday, the 9th of October was quiet, with Reverend Terry preaching the sermon on what was Andrew Lewis' 54th birthday. He was surrounded by many of his family, both blood and in-laws who had served with him since his earliest days of military involvement. This number included his brother Charles and some of his sons.

The following Monday morning, Lewis was supposed to cross the Ohio with about 1000 troops and proceed on to the Scioto. The rest comes from an account prepared by Lewis, dated 16 October 1774. The letter is now in the Draper Manuscripts of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. According to Lewis, about a half hour before sunrise, a party of Indians was discovered about a mile from camp. One of the Virginia soldiers was killed, and when word got back to Lewis, he dispatched several companies one direction under his brother Colonel Charles Lewis, and himself set off the other direction along the Ohio with his own companies of men. About sunrise, Col Charles Lewis' group encountered a mass band of Indians said to be about 1000 in number and from several tribes (the Shawnee, the Mingo, the Delaware, the Wyandott, and the Iriquois) under the leadership of the Shawnee Chief Cornstalk. Col Charles Lewis was fatally wounded, and the losses to his army were heavy. They began a retreat to camp, but were reinforced by a company under the command of Colonel Field. The Indians were driven back until they were even in a line with Andrew Lewis' army, and there a deadlock ensued, with neither army giving ground, and the fighting disintegrating into increasingly bloody, hand-to-hand combat. Fearing the worst, Lewis dispatched three companies in a flanking maneuver, which met with dramatic success, and the Indians began to fall back, finally giving up the fight at about 4 pm. When it was over, one-half of Lewis' commissioned officers were killed, as were 75 of his non-commissioned soldiers. Another 140 soldiers were wounded.

The numerous dead were buried on 11 October, and in accordance with Dunmore's orders, Lewis again proceeded to cross the Ohio with about 1000 men to meet Dunmore's forces who were encamped there. Shortly upon crossing into Ohio, Lewis was met by an urgent message from Dunmore to turn back, as a treaty of peace was being negotiated with the Indians. Enraged by Dunmore's conduct in the face of what he had been through, Lewis ignored the order and continued marching. A second message was sent, and it too was ignored. Dunmore became alarmed when Lewis and his men had marched to within 3 miles of the Governor's camp. Dunmore rode out to meet Lewis, where it is reported that Lewis had to almost be forcibly restrained to prevent him from killing Dunmore in his rage. Lewis eventually capitulated, and his army returned to "The Point" on the 28th, where they rejoined the troops that had been left encamped there. A fort was constructed and a defensive force established. The remaining Southern regiment was then dismissed, and the men slowly made their way back home.

A great debate still remains about what happened to set up the events of the Battle. Why did Dunmore change his plans, and not arrive as scheduled to back up the Southern regiment? In a letter written to Colonel Preston shortly after the events at "The Point," Lewis confided that the Indians "damned our men often for sons-of-bitches, said 'don't you whistle now (deriding the fife),' and made very merry about a treaty." Who could have betrayed the information to the Indians that a treaty was in the offing? In the same letter to Preston, Lewis complains of the influence exerted by Connolly on Dunmore, saying that he (Lewis) "had persuaded the Governor to come here (to Point Pleasant), but Major Connelly prevented it." The Battle of Point Pleasant was roughly contemporaneous with the First Continental Congress, and as mentioned before, it is thought that Dunmore may have lured Lewis' army into battle to deflect attention from the deteriorating affairs between England and the Colonies. And there is also the question of the role played by Major Connelly in the instigation of the Battle - how much was his own doing and how much was the orders of Lord Dunmore. If any such motive existed, however, it was soundly undermined when the Battle of Point Pleasant was declared the official first battle of the American Revolution in 30 May 1908 by unanimous vote in the 60th Congress of the United States under Session I, Chapter 228, Section 32. This was six months and eight days prior to the Battle of Lexington, which was fought on 19 April 1775.

Between September 12 and October 21 of 1775, Lewis was in Pittsburgh, conducting Dunmore's treaty to conclude the hostilities of the previous year. Lewis was promoted to Brigadier General on 1 March 1776. Immediately following, he was sent to command the portion of the army stationed at Williamsburg, VA. While stationed in Williamsburg, General Lewis kept a detailed Orderly Book, which has survived, and it provides fascinating details of the Virginia capital on the eve of the Revolution. Lewis is credited with touching off the battle at Gwynn's Island, VA where he took a force of 2000 to lodge his hated enemy Lord Dunmore from his position there. Fifteen days later, on 25 July 1776, his troops were ordered out to hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence.

General Lewis resigned his commission in 1777, his health not being good since his arrival in the Tidewater. He was still involved in diplomatic activity, however, going in 1778 Fort Pitt to mediate an Indian treaty.

He was en route to his his home at "Richland" in late September of 1781 - just a short time before the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown - when he was taken ill and was taken to the home of a friend, Colonel Talbot. Two of his sons came to be with him, as did Colonel William Fleming, whose long service with Lewis included the bloody day at The Point. He died there in Bedford Co, VA on 26 September, and his body was taken back to "Richland" and interred beside his son Charles, who had been killed in the Battle of Point Pleasant. Much later, his body was moved and placed in East Hill cemetery in Salem, VA on land that he had once owned.

Of all American officers, he is the only one to have fought and won a major engagement on his own land. This engagement was the Battle of Point Pleasant; title to 9000 acres of that land had been deeded to him in 1772 as partial payment for his services in the French and Indian war.

General Lewis must have cut a commanding figure - he was at least 6 feet tall, and had a shock of unruly red hair. His temper was equally unruly, and he was given to often violent fits of rage that alternated with periods of deep melancholy. He was so respected and feared by those who served under him that it was said by them that the "ground quaked beneath his feet when he walked."

(The above information is taken largely from Andrew Lewis 1720-1781, by Patricia Burton, published 1978)

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The 'Lewis' in this mountain's name comes from Gen. Andrew Lewis, legendary pre-Revolutionary War leader who moved to the colonies with his family around 1720.

The cagey Irishman made his name by killing Indians and claiming territory for England. He surveyed land from Virginia to Ohio, battling Indians all the way. During the French and Indian War in the late 1750s, he was captured, hauled up to Canada and imprisoned.

About 20 years later, in 1774, Lewis was credited with victory in a bloody fight against raiding Indians just west of Salem. As his own brother died and others such as William Fleming sustained disabling injuries, Lewis fortified his camp as the Shawnees attacked. That saved most of his men, allowed them to quell a native invasion from the Ohio Valley and secure the western frontier.

Next, Lewis hooked up with George Washington, another battle-scarred Indian fighter. They combined their talents against the British. It was Lewis who chased Lord Dunmore, Virginia's last royal governor, out of the colonies. The general died three days before the British surrender at Yorktown. Today, his defiant gaze stares southwest beneath a statue of Washington in Richmond's Capitol Square.

As the years passed, Lewis and his victories were memorialized, particularly in the Roanoke Valley: Fort Lewis Terrace; Fort Lewis Baptist and Christian churches; Fort Lewis Elementary School; and Andrew Lewis Middle School.

The mountain, which had been called Butler Mountain on its west side and Deyerle Mountain on the east, also took the name. This massive chunk of rock, covered with a forest of oak, hemlock, hickory and huge rhododendron, tops out at 3,280 feet above sea level. It's the second highest peak of many that surround Roanoke, one of the least developed or explored


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