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Cresap, Michael

Cresap, Michael

CRESAP, MICHAEL. (1742–1775). Border leader and Continental officer. Maryland. Born in Old Town, Maryland, on 29 June 1742, Michael Cresap was the son of the famous pioneer, Thomas Cresap (c. 1702–c. 1790). Michael failed as a merchant, and in early 1774 moved west to Wheeling. Almost as soon as he arrived, in April 1774, he heard rumors of Indian wars breaking out to the north. Panicking, Cresap and his neighbors attacked, killed, and scalped two Indians who were working for a local merchant. They then killed some passing Shawnee. Logan, a Mingo chief, blamed this group for massacring his family, leading many to hold Cresap responsible for starting Dunmore's War. Although Logan's accusation has been discredited, it has nonetheless given Cresap a place in history. The actual murderer of Logan's family was a man named Jacob Greathouse.

After his two attacks on unsuspecting Indians, Cresap fled back to Old Town, returning with a large group of settlers after Dunmore had restored peace to the frontier. With the beginning of the Revolution, Cresap was named captain of the First Company of the Maryland Rifles. He marched his company 550 miles in 22 days to become the first southern unit to join General George Washington's forces surrounding Boston. Two months later (about 15 October) he was forced by illness to give up his command, and on 17 October 1775 he died in New York City.

SEE ALSO Dunmore's (or Cresap's) War; Logan.


Jacob, John J. A Biographical Sketch of the Life of the Late Captain Michael Cresap. Cumberland, Md.: J. J. Miller, 1881.

                              revised by Michael Bellesiles

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