A history marker telling the story of Lord Dunmore’s War and the writing of the Gower Resolves was dedicated Nov. 10, 2019, in Hockingport. Indicating the approximate “Site of Fort Gower” is significant because it was there, at that small bivouac in the wilderness, that the Gower Resolves were drawn in 1774.
The Gower Resolves is a historic document considered an important part in the bringing about our separation from England, and by some as the first declaration of independence.
About 30 people attended the program and heard retired Virginia Tech Professor Jim Glanville, an authority on the Resolves, and Tom O’Grady, former executive director of the Southeast Ohio History Center, speak. The sign was unveiled in the cemetery across from the Hockingport United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Church Women hosted a reception afterwards.
It is the Southeast Ohio History Center’s first historical marker and the Center is to be thanked for preserving this early history of our county.
The men, nearly all Virginians, who came from the east as Lord Dunmore’s army, were to join with the men under General Andrew Lewis, coming from the southwest and western Virginia (now West Virginia) at Point Pleasant, but they didn’t. The plan was for the united armed forces to cross the Ohio River and surprise the Indians of Ohio. Instead, Dunmore stopped his troops, and held all at the confluence of the Hocking and Ohio rivers.
There he had them build a rather crude stockade and named it Fort Gower. There they stayed, until marching through Athens County to an already selected location to meet and sign a treaty with the Indians, never proceeding on to Point Pleasant to join Lewis and fight the Indians. So, on the designated day of attack, the Dunmore soldiers were not at Point Pleasant and the western army was less than full strength.
Very early on that morning, however, it was the Shawnee and other Indian tribes from Ohio who crossed the river to make a surprise attack. It was, in truth, a “day long battle at Point Pleasant,” but none of those marching with Dunmore was there.
It was asked later at Fort Gower why that was; how the Indians knew the day of the planned attack; and about the weakened fighting strength of the Virginians.
Several days later, the western forces under command of Gen. Lewis crossed the Ohio to join Dunmore’s army at the designated location (named after Dunmore’s wife) to meet the Indians. When they arrived, however, they found a treaty had already been signed.
Many of the westerners wanted to continue on to do battle with the Indians and were not quite ready to stop since it had been the areas of their homes which had borne the brunt of where Logan had “fully glutted my vengeance.” Lord Dunmore drew his sword and threatened to “cut down” Gen. Lewis if his troops continued; so calm came. (It was while this brouhaha was going on that Chief Logan made his famous speech.)
After it was all done, many of the western participants joined the march back to Fort Gower at Hockingport with the Dunmore soldiers. Nearly all the soldiers were Virginians, wanted the same things, many were old friends and there was need for renewed reconciliation and consideration.
It was at this point that Lord Dunmore sent word he wanted the men to issue a statement of their support for the king of England. Many in the colonies were already muttering unhappiness about the king’s high handiness, and the Continental Congress had just issued a statement of rights for the colonies; so these men, most already feeling independent and aware of their united abilities, hesitated to rush into a statement of support. English Lord Dunmore’s deception of the western troops added to that feeling by men from both armies.
There was a great lack of support for the king of England. Thus, that historic statement. the Gower Resolves was drawn, Very tactful but very strong. And very important.