When he was 18, Marylander Abraham Kirkpatrick killed a man in a fight and fled to Pittsburgh, which was the "Dodge City" of the original wild west. He had some family money, which he used to buy property and establish himself there. When the war broke out he was commissioned the 1st lieutenant of Captain William Croghan’s company of the 8th Virginia. He served the length of the war, and rose to the rank of major. He never shied away from a fight. He was wounded at the Battle of Princeton and carried off the field by Private Jonathan Grant. He permanently maimed a fellow officer in a 1779 duel. Later that year he was shot in the eye by a jealous husband. In the 1790s, he played a central role in putting down the Whiskey Rebellion, famously defending General John Neville’s home from an angry mob.
Despite his very rough edges, Kirkpatrick became part of the post-war Pittsburgh elite. He co-founded the Bank of Pittsburgh and ran an early steel mill. His grandson Abraham Kirkpatrick Lewis was a pioneer in the Pittsburgh coal business, shipping coal on flat boats all the way to new Orleans.
In 1794, George Washington sent Abraham Kirkpatrick several bottles of imported wine to thank him for his service putting down the Whiskey Rebellion. One bottle (its contents now evaporated into a dry sediment) survives, having been kept by the family for over two centuries. It was put up for auction a few years ago but didn’t sell. Details about the object, including a high-definition image, are can be seen at the Skinner auction house website.
is researching the history of the Revolutionary War's 8th Virginia Regiment. Its ten companies formed on the frontier, from the Cumberland Gap to Pittsburgh.
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