Located at the junction of the Ohio River and Kanawha River, Tu-Endie-Wei State Park in Mount Pleasant, West Virginia marks the spot where the Battle of Point Pleasant was fought during the Revolutionary War. Here in 1774 the Virginia militia, led by General Andrew Lewis, fought hand-to-hand with warriors from the Northwestern Confederated Tribes under the leadership of renowned Indian Shawnee chief, Cornstalk.
The Congressional Declaration states: “This plan, however, as the world now knows, was thwarted as to the place of conflict, when the traitorous Dunmore failed to join Lewis at the mouth of the Kanawha River and they to march together into the enemy’s country.” The original plan called for Governor Dunmore and General Lewis to have the two wings of their Virginia militia meet at the mouth of the Kanawha and pursue the Indians back into their own country, north of the Ohio River. Some feel perhaps Dunmore purposely didn’t arrive in hopes that the Shawnee would defeat the militia, since Dunmore soon became a prominent leader of the British War effort during the Revolutionary War.
An 84-foot tall granite obelisk stands in the center of the park in remembrance of the Virginia militiamen, who lost their lives during the battle. At the base of this statue is a figure of a frontiersman. The importance of this battle stretches far beyond that one day encounter as it put to rest Indian wars on the frontier and prevented an Indian alliance with the British.
Throughout the park, several smaller memorials have been placed dedicated to some of the main heroes in this battle that many claim was the first battle of the Revolutionary War.
Keigh-tugh-qua, better known as Chief Cornstalk, was a well respected leader in the Ohio Valley. Both Indians and white men knew Chief Cornstalk as a man who wanted peace with the white men. But he felt forced to defend his people on this spot at Point Pleasant, against who he called “Long Knives”, the colonists of Virginia. At that point he wanted to turn the frontier red with the Long Knives’ blood. Although the Indians were defeated, Chief Cornstalk did survive this battle.
In 1777, Cornstalk returned to Point Pleasant to warn the settlers that the British were trying to incite his tribesmen to attack. Fearing an unpleasant encounter, Cornstalk and companions were imprisoned at Fort Randolph, where he was killed by a dozen rifle shots while standing at the doorway of his room. After moving his burial place several times, his remains were brought back here for their final resting place near the field of his most famous battle.
One interesting monument marks the burial spot of Mad Anne Bailey, whose husband, Richard Trotter, was killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant. This statue along the Ohio River shows frontier scout Mad Anne dressed in buckskins as she delivered messages to remote places throughout the Virginia area to avenge her husband’s death. “Mad” escapades in fighting the red savages on the frontier earned her the nickname of “Mad Anne”. Later she married John Bailey, who was stationed at Fort Lee (Charleston). Mad Anne has been given credit for saving Fort Lee from destruction as she rode alone at nearly fifty years of age for gunpower to Fort Savannah (Lewisburg), which was a two hundred mile trip. Her reward ? The black horse she rode. At the age of seventy, Mad Anne lived in a cave until her son William, who she left with friends at the age of seven, found her and took her to Gallipolis to live in a tiny cabin near his family.
Murals depicting the meeting of the tribes and various battlefield scenes line the floodwalls of the Riverwalk along the Ohio River. Painted by artist, Robert Dafford, these scenes bring to life the memory of that one-day battle so long ago that changed the course of history. The inscription above one of those murals explains: Each was fighting for his own way of life.
Today, like in times throughout history, we each continue to fight for what we believe. May your battles be a little less severe.
Tu-Endie-Wei State Park is located at Point Pleasant, West Virginia at the end of Main Street where the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers meet. Take a stroll down the Riverwalk to enjoy the beautiful Ohio River, the floodwall murals, and many statues along the way. Frequent festivals throughout the year are held here and it is often a stopping point for riverboats.