Massacre at Fort Vause, Augusta County, VA

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Augusta County, Virginia
Montgomery County, Virginia


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Source:Chalkely's Chronicles "Shawsville may be the site of Revolutionary Fort", by Tonia Moxley, Sept. 26, 2005. <red font>Need links</font>
Encyclopedia of the French & Indian War in North America, 1754-1763, by Donald I. Stoetzel <red font>Need links</font>
Wikipedia:French and Indian War


The "The French and Indian War" (1754-1763), was a conflict between France and England for control of the valuable resources in the new world. Indian tribes joined the French to force British settlers, whom they considered invaders, out of the country. In the Spring of 1756 an estimated 205 Indians and 25 French Canadians left Fort Miami (Ohio) intending to travel 500 miles to Fort Vause and then go on to Williamsburg.

Fort Vause was a minimally fortified dwelling, located at the western edge of present Shawsville in Montgomery County. It was built, presumably under the direction of Col. Ephraim Vause, an early settler on the Roanoke River. He surrounded his home with a 100-foot square, 15-foot high wall of strongly built palisades, enclosing barracks and cabins, garrisoned by 70 local troops.

During the journey of the French and their Indian allies, settlers living along the way between fort Miami and Fort Vause fled as the French and Indians made their way toward Williamsburg, Virginia. They arrived at Fort Vause about the 16th of June 1756. They stayed in the area and attacked on June 25th, 1756.

 Location of Fort Vause:  :Grey shading = Old Augusta  :Yellow shading = New River Settlements :Light green shading = SWVP
Location of Fort Vause:
 :Grey shading = Old Augusta
 :Yellow shading = New River Settlements
 :Light green shading = SWVP

The Attack

On June 25 1756, French, Shawnee, Miami and Ottowa troops attacked Fort Vause, according to some sources, at about 9:00am, the French asked those in the fort to surrender, and they supposedly refused. At about 10:00am, the fort was set afire. Capt. Vause and his men were away from the Fort, it was over-run by Indians.

The Vause family and several neighboring families barricaded themselves in their cabins, which were set afire about 4:00pm that evening. Many of the surviving residents of the fort were tortued on the spot. Many were killed and captured. Mrs. Vause, two of her daughters and other family members were captured. One of Ephraim's daughter's or daughter in law's was scalped, but lived with an open unhealed wound cut into her sinus that she kept stuffed full of cotton.

Fort Vause Marker, which is located on what is now Shawsville, Montgomery County, Virginia
Fort Vause Marker, which is located on what is now Shawsville, Montgomery County, Virginia

Ephraim Vause's servants who had been away from the fort at the time of the attack returned. Upon seeing what was happening they fled. They came upon Col. William Preston and a few men who were on their way to help. The servants told what they had saw, and Preston felt that the most prudent thing was to warn other settlers immediatly, this was done rather than advancing to the fort. All residents of the area left. This was about 3:00pm, which was too late to help at the fort anyway, Preston was still 3 miles away.

The residents of the fort that survived were captured, 150 or so, and were led back to Shawnee villages. Leevice Vause, daughter of Ephraim, was taken prisoner, along with her mother. When peace was made in 1763 she returned home and told how she was dragged along by the Indians. When she got the chance she would cut her name into the bark of sycamore and beech trees, thus giving her name to the Levisa Fork and Leevice Ford.

After the attack, the Council of War in Augusta County ordered the fortification rebuilt and re-garrisoned.

Killed or Captured

From Chalkley's Augusta County Records:

1756, June 25th,

Thomas Davies, at Roanoke, prisoner escaped
Capt. John Smith, at Ft. Vause, prisoner returned;
Peter Looney, at Ft. Vause, prisoner escaped;
Wm. Bratton, at Ft. Vause, prisoner returned;
Joseph Smith, at Ft. Vause, prisoner;
Wm. Pepper, at Ft. Vause, prisoner;
Mrs. Vanscher (Vause) and 2 daughters, a negro, and 2 young Indians and a man servant, at Ft. Vause, prisoner;
Ican Medley and 2 daughters, at Ft. Vause, prisoner;
James Bell, at Ft. Vause, prisoner;
Christopher Hicks at Ft. Vause, prisoner;
_____ Cole, at Ft. Vause, prisoner;
_____ Graham, at Ft. Vause, prisoner;
Benj. Davies, at Ft. Vause, prisoner;
Lieut. John Smith, at Ft. Vause, killed;
John Tracey, at Ft. Vause, killed;
John English, at Fort Vause, killed;
Mrs. Mary English, at Fort Vause prisoner;
Wm. Robinson, at Fort Vause, wounded;
Tho. Robinson, at Ft. Vause wounded;
Saml. Robinson, at Ft. Vause, wounded;
Robt. Pepper, at Fort Vause, wounded.