CROGHAN, George (d.1782), Indian trader and agent. Autograph letter signed ("Geo:Croghan") to an unidentified correspondent [James Hamilton, Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania], Shippensbourg [Pennsylvania], 12 November 1755. 2 pages, folio (signed at bottom of page 1, the second page a lengthy postscript, filling the page), slight fraying at top edge.
THE FRONTIER IN FLAMES: CROGHAN REPORTS ON THE INDIAN THREAT IN THE AFTERMATH OF BRADDOCK'S DEFEAT
A very important communication from the legendary Indian agent, who had lived among the frontier tribes for years, became fluent in Iroquois and Delaware and established trading posts throughout the Ohio Valley at an early date. The French-English rivalry on the frontiers escalated into open warfare; in 1754 the French attacked and destroyed most of Croghan's posts; in July 1755, four months prior to this letter, Croghan had been a member of the expedition of Braddock against Fort Duquesne and survived the devastating ambush of the French and their Indian allies (9 July 1755). At this time, unknown to the English, many of the tribes on the Northern frontier had agreed with the French to set upon the English settlements the following spring. Croghan paints a dire picture: "Att this Critical Time," he has just returned from a visit to the Six Nations and possesses "Information of ye Designs of ye Enemy." He explains that "Itt was My Duty to have Wrote to Ye Present Governor butt as he has Nott thought proper to Desire me to give him any Accounts of Indian Affairs since ye Defeat of General Bradock [sic] I did nott Now [know] how his honour wold take itt from Me. I have nott the least Acquaintance of His honour." Nevertheless, he will communicate what he has learned "from one of ye Six Nations," but he urgently requests that it not be made "Publick from whome you had this Intelligence, so that none of the Interpreters May have it in their power to tell ye Indians from whome ye Accounts Came." On the verso, Croghan numbers the points he wishes to make: "1st. The Six Nations Delaways [Delawares], Shannas [Shawnees] Wandotts [Wyandotes] has had a grand Council in which it was determined that the four latter Tribes should engage ye Fronteers[sic] of Virginia, Maryland, & Pensylvania[sic] this Winter and Drive ye Inhabitants over ye South Mountain [a range of the Alleghenies]...ye Mohawks and one other Tribe was No way Privy. 2d. ye Six Nations are to make all ye Interest they can with ye Southerd[sic] Indians to Draw them to their Interest and fetch them on ye Ohio as they have already settled some of ye Cherikees [Cherokees] on kentouckey a Creek Near ye Lower Shanna town. 3rd. all ye Indian Tribes are to assist the French against Ginrel [sic] Shirl[e]ey and Ginral [sic] Johnston. 4. there has Been butt 8 Indians come from Ohio to Suskehanna[sic] this fall to Councils;" they, plus a small number of Wyandotes "assisted by the Suskehanna Indians Done all ye Murder that was Don[e] on Suskehanna which I am really Certain is ye Truth."
Croghan's stark warning did little to avert the bloody Indian attacks along the frontier the following spring. In 1756, he was named deputy superintendant of Indian affairs, under Sir William Johnson (1715-1774). CROGHAN'S LETTERS ARE EXTREMELY RARE: IN 25 YEARS ONLY ONE LETTER HAS APPEARED AT AUCTION.