In July, 1780, Colonel John Piper, commanding the militia at Fort Bedford, learned of a Native American war party in the area. He assembled a group of rangers to patrol nearby, and sent orders for militia Captain William Phillips to do the same to the north. Civilians fled their homes in fear, emptying the valley north of Fort Bedford.
It rained heavily on Saturday, July 15, and Captain Phillips and his eleven rangers (including his 14-year old son Elijah) took shelter in an abandoned home. The next morning they awoke to find themselves surrounded by Indians. The defenders held out for hours, and the wet logs prevented the Indians from setting the home on fire. By afternoon, however, Phillips negotiated a surrender. William and Elijah were taken as hostages to Canada, but the other ten men were tied to trees, tortured, and killed.
Colonel John Piper and his troops came upon a settlement, “where we found the house burned to ashes, with sundry Indian tomahawks that had been lost in the action, but found no person killed at that place.” Then Piper’s men found the remains of Phillip’s command the next day and buried them in a mass grave.
William and Elijah Phillips survived their captivity and returned to the area after the war. In 1926 the mass grave of the rangers was marked with a memorial on that remote wooded hillside. This isolated spot is worth the effort to find, where you can pause and appreciate the vicious warfare on the frontier.
Captain Philips Monument Road Saxton, PA 16678