Siege of Fort Pitt
The Siege of Fort Pitt was an extension of the conflict known as “Pontiac’s War” and began amid the Siege of Fort Detroit earlier in May, 1763. Lasting roughly two months, the rising tensions between Native communities and the British gripping the region erupted in a short-lived siege of Fort Pitt in what is present day Pittsburgh.
As Native communities in the area watched British officials seize former French territories following the French and Indian War (1754-1763), few found satisfaction in the continued presence of enemies in their land. Many also resented their new English neighbors for their failure to observe necessary trade ceremonies and customs as their French counterparts had.
The complex political turbulence experienced by tribal communities, especially the feelings they held towards the British, were affirmed by the Delaware prophet Neolin, whose religious messages articulated a different facet of the economic and social strife experienced by Native communities. Pontiac echoed Neolin’s message, laying siege to Fort Detroit with the aid of Ojibwe, Odawa, Huron, and Wyandot warriors, among others, in an effort to push out the British.
In June of 1763, the Delaware, Shawnee, Wyandot, Odawa, and Ojibwe attacked Fort Pitt. Yet, unlike Fort Detroit further north, Fort Pitt was reinforced with stone just as a typical European-style fortress. This led to a different siege altogether from Detroit, though by August, the warriors’ attacks had subsided. The result of these events would be a greater sense of unease among British colonial forces in expanding any further west. On October 7th, 1763, King George III issued the Proclamation of 1763 to prevent any further settlement of western territories, setting motion events leading to the American War of Independence.
- Kaja, Jeffrey D. “‘‘Sometimes Bad People Take the Liberty of Stragling into Your Country’’ The Struggle to Control Mobility during Pontiac’s War.” Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 14, no. 2 (2016): 225–57. https://doi.org/10.1353/eam.2016.0014.
- Middleton, Richard. Pontiac’s War: Its Causes, Course, and Consequences. New York: Routledge, 2007.