On the year 1782: One of the darkest moments in US history sees 96 Native American Delawares massacred

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Gnadenhutten Village in Ohio is just south of New Philadelphia. In 1782 it was home to a community of Native Americans, mostly Delawares. Unusually, they had been converted to Christianity by Moravian Brothers from Europe.

During the American Revolution (1775–83), some Delawares sided with the British, others with the revolutionaries. The Christian Delawares of Gnadenhutten remained neutral. Nevertheless, fearing they could act as guides and spies for the revolutionaries, the British moved them out of Gnadenhutten to northern Ohio, along the Sandusky river,

An Ohio historical marker with a paragraph of text explaining the massacre

An Ohio historical marker on the spot today

Finding life difficult in their new home, and critically short of food, early in 1782 a number of the Christian Indians returned to Gnadenhutten in search of food and stores they had left behind.

On 7 March, the revolutionary Captain David Williamson and a force of American Pennsylvania militiamen entered Gnadenhutten Village. They told the Indians they were there to protect them and take them to Fort Pitt.

However, on seeing European objects – which the Moravian Brothers had encouraged the Indians to purchase and use before the war – the militiamen assumed they were booty from raids. They held a council, and voted to annihilate the villagers. The Indians were told of their fate, and spent the night in prayer and preparation.

Two log cabins sit either side ofThe following morning, 8 March 1782, the militiamen separated the men into one house and the women and children into another. They then slaughtered and scalped their 96 prisoners, before burning the village.

No charges were ever brought for the murders. Today there is a nine-acre memorial on the site.

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