Captain Pipe was a leader of the Delaware natives during and after the American Revolution. Little is known of his early years. His Native American name was Konieschquanoheel, meaning "maker of light." His nickname among the Delaware was Hopocan, which translates to "tobacco pipe." By the time of the American Revolution, he had become a leader among his people. During the conflict, he first tried to remain neutral towards both the British and the Americans. He refused to take up arms against the Americans even after General Edward Hand killed his mother, brother, and a few of his children during a military campaign in 1778. The Delawares that Hand attacked were neutral, but he sought to protect American settlers in the Ohio Country from Native American attacks and sometimes killed innocent natives. Later that same year, General Lachlan McIntosh, the American commander at Fort Pitt, requested permission from the Delaware natives to march through their territory to attack Fort Detroit. Captain Pipe and other Delaware chiefs agreed, as long as the soldiers would build a fort to protect the Delaware form both the British and white settlers. McIntosh agreed and had Fort Laurens built near the Delaware villages in eastern Ohio. After constructing the fort, McIntosh demanded that the Ohio Country natives assist the Americans in capturing Fort Detroit. If the Native Americans refused, McIntosh threatened them with extermination.
Realizing how weak McIntosh's force was and believing that the Americans could not protect them from the British and their native allies, Captain Pipe and many other Delaware natives began to form a more friendly relationship with the British. The Americans pushed Captain Pipe solidly into Britain's embrace in 1781, when Colonel Daniel Brodhead attacked and destroyed Coshocton, a Delaware native village. Captain Pipe spent the remainder of the war trying to thwart American expansion into the Ohio Country. In 1782, he participated in William Crawford's defeat. Seeking vengeance for the Gnadenhutten Massacre, Captain Pipe was probably the one who marked Crawford for death by painting his face black. He also threatened to kill Simon Girty if he tried to intercede on Crawford's behalf while the natives first tortured and then executed him. Following the Revolution, Captain Pipe continued to resist white settlement of the Ohio Country (known as the Northwest Territory at this point). By the 1810s and 1820s, Captain Pipe realized his people had little chance against the Americans and began to negotiate treaties. The whites quickly violated these agreements, moving onto land set aside for the Delaware natives.
The exact date of the death of Captain Pipe has not been determined. Some writers have argued that he died as early as 1794. Others believe that he lived until 1812-1814 when his role was assumed by his son who was also called Captain Pipe.
- Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.