History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume II, Page 232.
PRINCIPAL EVENTS OF 1779.
This year, like the preceding, was one of great interest on the frontiers of the State; and although the enemy were early on the warpath, yet at a later period, the destruction of property was in a great measure transferred to Western New York; where the Indians were compelled by the advance of an army under Gen. Sullivan, to look after their own homes--which were in turn desolated for the ravages they had committed on their bloody trails in 1778.
About the first of February of this year, our alliance with France was celebrated throughout the country, but especially by the army. Here is an account of its celebration at head quarters, as noted by Dr. Thacher.
" The anniversary of our alliance with France was celebrated in proper style a few days since, near headquarters, at Pluckemin, A splendid entertainment was given by Gen. Knox, and the officers of artillery. Gen. Washington and his lady, with the principal officers of the army and their ladies, and a considerable number of respectable ladies and gentlemen of the State of New Jersey, formed the brilliant assembly. About 4 o'clock 10 cannon were discharged, and the company collected in a large public building to partake of an elegant dinner. In the evening, a very beautiful set of fireworks was exhibited, and the celebration was concluded by a splendid ball, opened by his Excellency Gen. Washington, having for his partner the lady of Gen. Knox." They are said to have been graceful dancers.
Prisoners Escape.-Early in the spring of 1779, two men, St. Ledger Cowley and a man named Sawyer, were captured by four Schoharie Indians ; Han-Yerry, who escaped from the Borsts the day before the Cobelskill engagement, Seth's-Henry, Adam, a sister's son, and "Nicholas, also a relative. One of the captives, was a native of the Emerald Isle ; and the other of the green hills of Scotland. They were among the number of refugees from Harpersfield, who sought safety in Schoharie at the beginning of difficulties ; where their families in their absence remained.
The prisoners could speak Dutch, which those Indians understood nearly as well as their own dialect ; and the latter could understand but little, if any, of the conversation of those Anglo-Americans. When surprised, they intimated by signs as well as they could, that they were friends of the King ; and not only evinced a willingness to proceed with their captors, but a desire to do so. An axe belonging to one of them was taken along as a prize. The prisoners set off with such apparent willingness on their long journey to Canada, that the Indians did not think it necessary to bind them. They were compelled to act, however, as " hewers of wood and drawers of water," for their red masters.
They had been captives 11 days, without a favorable opportunity to mature a plan for their escape, which they had all along premeditated. On arriving at a deserted hut near Tioga Point, the captives were sent to cut wood a few rods distant. On such occasions, one cut and the other carried it to the hut. While Cowley was chopping, and Sawyer waiting for an armful, the latter took from his pocket a newspaper, and pretended to read its contents to his fellow ; instead of doing which, he proposed a plan for regaining their liberty. After carrying wood enough to the hut to keep fire over night, and partaking of ascanty supper, they laid down in their usual manner to rest, a prisoner between two Indians.
The friends kept awake, and after they were satisfied their foes were all sound asleep, they arose agreeable to concert, and secured their weapons, shaking the priming from their guns. Sawyer, with the tomahawk of Han-Yerry-who was thought the most disparate of the four-took his station beside its owner ; while Cowley with the axe, placed himself beside another sleeping Indian. The fire afforded sufficient light for the captives to make sure of their victims. At a given signal the blow fell fatal upon two ; the tomahawk sank beep into the brain of its owner, giving a sound, to use words of an informant,* " Like a blow upon a pumpkin." Unfortunately, Sawyer drew the handle from his weapon in attempting to free it from the skull of the savage, and the remainder of the tragic act devolved upon his companion. The first one struck by Cowley was killed, but the blows which sent two to their final reckoning, awoke their fellows, who instantly sprang upon their feet. As Seth's-Henry rose from the ground, he received a blow which he partially warded off by raising his right arm ; but his shoulder was laid open and he fell back stunned. The fourth, as he was about to escape, received a heavy blow in the back from the axe. He was pursued out of the hut-fled into a swamp near, where he died. The liberated prisoners returned into the hut, and were resolving on what course to pursue, when Seth's-Henry, who had recovered and feigned himself dead for some time, to embrace
* Lawrence Mattice. The adventures of Cowley and Sawyer were principally derived from Mr. Mattice and Henry Hager, who learned the particulars from the captives themselves. Corroborated in 1847, by Asahel Cowley, a grandson of St. Ledger Cowley.
a favorable opportunity, sprang upon his feet-dashed through the fire-caught up his rifle, leveled and snapped it at one of his foes-ran out of the hut and disappeared.
The two friends then primed the remaining guns, and kept a vigilant watch until daylight, to guard against surprise. They set out in the morning to return, hut dared not pursue the route they came, very properly supposing there were more of the enemy not far distant, to whom the surviving Indian would communicate the fate of his comrades. They recrossed the river in the morning in a bark canoe, which they had used the preceding afternoon, and then directed their course for the frontier settlements. The first night after taking the responsibility, Sawyer was light headed for hours, and his companion feared his raving would betray them ; but when daylight returned, reason again claimed its throne. As they had anticipated, a party of Indians thirsting for their blood, were in hot pursuit of them. From a hill they once descried ten or a dozen in a valley below. They remained concealed beneath a shelving rock one night and two days, while the enemy were abroad, and when there, a dog belonging to the latter, came up to them. As the animal approached, they supposed their hours were numbered ; but after smelling them for some time, it went away without barking. On the third night after their escape, they saw fires lit by the enemy, literally all around them. They suffered much from exposure to the weather, and still more from hunger. They expected to be pursued in the direction they had been captured, and very properly followed a zig-zag course ; arriving in safely after much suffering, at a frontier settlement in Pennsylvania, where they found friends. When fairly recruited they directed their steps to Schoharie, and were there welcomed as though they had risen from the dead, among which latter number, many had supposed them.
Sawyer is said to have died many years after, in Williamstown, Mass.; and Cowley in the south part of Harpersfield. At the time Cowley and Sawyer returned from their captivity, the upper Schoharie fort was commanded by Maj. Posey, a large, fine looking officer, who, as an old lady of Schoharie county (Angelica, a daughter of Col. Peter Vrooman,) once declared to the author, was the handsomest man she ever saw.
Murder of John Dunham and his Son Samuel.-Friendly Indians were sometimes in the habit of taking up a residence in the vicinity of American frontier posts. In the spring of 1779 several Indians, who pretended friendship, left the Johnstown fort, where they had, for some time, been a tax on the charity of its officers. It was supposed by James Williamson, an informant, that this party of Indians killed the Dunbams north of Johnstown, as related on page 294 of my Border Wars ; but at an interview, May 23, 1850, with Judge John Dunham of Hamilton county, a son of Ebenezer and grandson of Jacob Dnnham, one of the slain, I obtained the following narrative of the event, corroborated by Josiah Canfield.
Some time in the afternoon of April 11, 1779, a small party of the enemy-number not known, but said to have been direct from Canada-arrived on the premises of Jacob Dunham, who, with his son Samuel, a young man grown, was engaged some 40 or 50 rods from his house chopping a fallow. Hearing them at work, the Indians were enabled to steal up unobserved, shoot them both down and secure their scalps for market. Mrs. Dunham, hearing the guns, is believed to have concealed herself in a forest hiding-place. Zebulon, a son in his teens, was captured by the enemy, and while they were plundering the house he gave them the slip and fled into the woods for dear life. He was pursued by an Indian, felt his inability to escape by running, and springing over the trunk of a fallen tree, he concealed himself beneath it. The Indian stood upon the log, but, overlooking the object of his search, he gave over the pursuit and returned to share the plunder of the dwelling. John Dunham, another member of this family, was killed later ill the war in Herkimer county, as I shall elsewhere show.
As soon as news of this affair readied Johnstown, a scout under the daring frontiersman of that locality, Solomon Woodworth, pursued the enemy, and the next day, not many miles from the Dunham place, came upon their encampment, where was but one Indian. He pretended friendship, told Woodworth he would be his prisoner, etc. The scout demanded the whereabouts of his comrades. He said they were hunting, but would not tell in what direction. Said Woodworth, "You and your friends have killed an uncle of mine, but you shall not be hurt if you will tell where your comrades are." He covered his face with his hands and, although threatened with death, still refused to reveal their position, whereupon Woodworth raised his rifle and shot him. The rest of the party escaped.
Not long after this event, some 20 rods from where the Dunhams were killed, a piece of dry upland, which had been plowed over for several years, sunk down to considerable depth, leaving a hole 10 or 15 feet across, and superstition said it was in consequence of those murders.-John Dunham.
An Invasion of Ulster County.-Barber & Howe's His. Coll., copied the following from the Connecticut Journal of May 19, 1779 :
"We have advice from Warwasink, in Ulster county, that on Tuesday last, the 4th inst., a party of the enemy, supposed to be mostly tory inhabitants, burnt four dwelling houses and five barns in that neighborhood, at the Fantine Kill, and killed six people, besides three or four more who are supposed to be burnt in their house''. Advice of the mischief being brought to Col. Cortlandt, stationed there with his regiment, he immediately marched in pursuit of the enemy, whom he twice got sight of on a mountain, exchanged some shots with them, though at too great a distance, and endeavored to surround them, but in vain, and they all made their escape. In their flight they left a young woman whom they had taken, from whom we received the account that their number was 3 Indians and 27 white savages."
Scalps Secured new Fort Herkimer.-The British government paid for not a few scalps, the persons from whom they were taken surviving the war. Here are two of the kind. The name of one was given to me as a Miss Harter, a pretty girl in her teens. Informants said that after the war she married Joseph Smith. Dr. Petrie's account under dale of May 10 1770, has this item : " The wife of Joseph Smith, and the wife of Henry Widerstyn, scalped ; under my attendance 11 months twice a day." Thus we see that Miss Harter was already married when she became a sufferer. She was surprised, tomahawked and scalped not far from Fort Herkimer She revived somewhat, when one of the party-whom she recognized as a Tory by his blue eyes-ran back and gave her another blow on the head with a hatchet. She was found by friends, taken to the fort, recovered, and lived to a good old age, on the bank of the West Canada creek. The circumstances attending the loss of Mrs. Widerstein's scalp, are unknown to the writer.
Here is another scalp paid for that did not secure death. Agreeable to the statement of several, John Klepsaddle and Jacob Ittig-Edick in English-were going From Herkimer to a place called the " Long Bridge," after horses, when they were surprised by the enemy and both scalped-informants thought both were killed ; but again Dr. Petrie's account sets the matter right. "Sept. 1, 1780, Jacob Ittig wounded-dressed twice a day, 40 days." This is no doubt the same man.-John Docstader, corroborated by Saura Munn and Jacob Secknor.
Murder of the Eysaman Family,-On the south side of the Mohawk dwelt this family, consisting of John Eysaman and wife, an old couple, his son Stephen and wife, and an infant child. They resided two miles east of Fort Herkimer, and hearing an alarm gun at the fort they were preparing to flee for safety, June 9, 1779, when they were surprised, the old couple and Stephen's wife and children killed, and he carried into captivity. The infants brains were dashed against a tree. Three scalps were thus secured for market, and their owner's home was no doubt plundered and burned. A valuable horse of the family was taken to Canada, and soon became a charger for a British officer, who, on seeing Eysaman admire it, asked him if he had ever seen the horse before. " Yes," he replied, "the horse is mine." The officer unfeelingly retorted : " be off you d-d rebel, you never owned a horse." Stephen Eysaman was a prisoner over three years, and until the close of the war.- Benton's Herkimer County.
Looking for the Enemy.-The manuscript furnished the author by Judge Hager, states that in the year 1779, probably in the spring, a rumor readied the Schoharie forts that Capt. Brant, on the evening of a certain day, would arrive at some place on the Delaware river with a band of hostile followers. Col. Vrooman thereupon dispatched Capt. Jacob Hager with a company of about fifty men to that neighborhood, Hager arrived with his troops after a rapid march, at the place where it was said Brant was to pass-thirty or forty miles distant from Schoharie, and concealed them amidst some fallen timber beside the road. This station was taken in the afternoon of the day on which Brant was expected to arrive, and continued to be occupied by the Americans until the following day between 10 and 11 o'clock, when, no new evidence of Brant's visit being discovered, Capt. Hager returned home-thinking it possible that Brant was pursuing a different route to the Schoharie settlements.
Capt. Hager afterwards learned from a loyalist, in whose neighborhood he had been concealed, that he had not been gone an hour when the enemy, about 150 strong, Indians and tories, arrived and passed the fallow where he had been secreted. On being informed that a company of Americans bad so recently left the neighborhood, preparations were made to pursue them. When about to move forward, Brant enquired of a tory named Sherman, what officer commanded the Americans, and on being informed that it was Capt. Hager, whose courage from a French war acquaintance was undoubted, he consulted his chiefs and the pursuit was abandoned.
Brant, on learning that Schoharie was well defended, seems to have given up the idea of surprising that settlement, and directed his steps to more vulnerable points of attack. Apprised soon after of Gen. Sullivan's intended march to the Indian country, he hurried back to prepare for his reception.
Sullivan's Campaign.-The repeated assaults along the frontier of New York and Pennsylvania during the preceding year by the enemy, arrested the attention of Washington, who conferred with Congress, which resolved to send an army into the Indian country in the summer of 1779, and retaliate their atrocities by a destruction of their settlements. Accordingly, an army was assembled under Gen. Sullivan, at Tioga Point, at which place he was met by Gen. James Clinton, who marched from Canajoharie, on the Mohawk, with a division of the army. As a preliminary movement to the invasion of the Indian country by Gen. Sullivan, Col. Van Schaick went from Fort Stanwix, under instructions of Gen. James Clinton, with detachments of his own and Col. Gansevoort's regiment, and destroyed the possessions of the Onondagas.
Onondaga Settlements destroyed.-The following journal of that transaction is on tile among Capt. Machin's papers, and records the first invasion of the Indians' territory.
"Early on Monday morning, 19th of April, 1779-Marched from Fort Schuyler with a detachment of troops consisting of 558 men including officers ; and after marching (putting) eight days provisions in bateaus which had been conveyed over the carrying place in the night, and leaving" a sufficient number of soldiers to assist the batteaumen to get the boats down Wood creek, with five officers to hurry them on-the remainder of the troops marched to the old scow place, 21 miles by land, but much more by water : the troops arrived by 3 o'clock p. M., but the boats did not all arrive until 10 o'clock, having been much obstructed by trees which had fallen across the creek. (They were purposely fallen in 1777, to obstruct the passage of the enemy's artillery under St. Ledger.) As soon as the boats arrived the whole of the troops embarked, and on entering the Onidahogo (Oneida Lake), was much impeded by a cold head wind. Made one halt in the night for the rearmost boats to come up, and then proceeded to Posser's Bay, where we arrived at 8 o'clock in the morning of the 20th, to wait again for the coming up of the boats, when we continued with as much expedition as possible, to the Onondaga landing, opposite the old fort, and arrived there at 3 o'clock P. M , from whence, after leaving the boats with proper guard, we marched eight or nine miles out of our way to the Onondaga settlement and lay on our arms all night without fire, not being able to continue our marching-dark-the night cold. Very early on the 21st, proceeded on to the old Salt Lake, and at 9 o'clock A. M., forded an arm of that lake, 200 yards over and four feet deep a considerable of the way ; pushed on to Onondaga creek, where Capt. Graham, with his company of light infantry took an Onondaga warrior prisoner, which was the first Indian we had discovered. Ordered Capt. Graham to endeavor to surround the first Onondaga settlements which were about two miles off, and hastening on the troops by companies as fast as he crossed the creek upon a log-the creek not being fordable.
I soon arrived with the whole detachment at the principal castle, but was before apprised of their having discovered our advanced parties while they were taking some prisoners, upon which I ordered different routes to be taken by several different detachments in order to surround as many of their settlements as possible at the same time, which extended eight miles in length, with some scattered habitations lying back of the coasts and on the opposite side of the creek ; but, notwithstanding, entered their first settlement in the most secret manner and quite undiscovered by them. We took 33 Indians and one white prisoner, and killed 12 Indians-the whole of their settlement- consisting of about 50 houses, with a quantity of corn, and every other kind of stock we found were killed (destroyed) -about 100 guns, some of which were rifles, were among the plunder, the whole of which, after the men had loaded (themselves) with as much as they could carry, was destroyed, with a considerable quantity of ammunition ; one swivel taken at the council house had the trunions broken off and otherwise damaged ; in fine, the destruction of all their settlements was complete, after which we began our march back recrossing the creek, and forded the arm of the lake alongside of which we encamped on good ground ; having been once interrupted in our return by a small party of Indians who fired at us from the opposite side of the creek, but were soon beat off by Lieut. Evans' riflemen, with the loss of one killed on the part of the enemy arid none on ours ; unfair weather all this day. 22d, marched down to the landing ; found bateaus in good order ; reembarked and rowed down to the Seven Miles' Island, where we encamped-fair weather. 23d, crossed the lake and landed two miles up Wood Creek; at two o'clock left two companies to guard and assist the bateaumen in getting up the boats; marched eight miles and encamped alongside Feals Creek-fair weather. Saturday, 24th, small shower of rain on our march to the Fort, where we arrived at 12 o'clock ; having been out five days and a half, the whole distance of going out and returning being 180 miles, not having lost a. single man."
Gen. Clinton, at Canajoharie.-Preparatory to his advance, he marched with a body of troops into the Mohawk valley, and for a time temporarily made his home within the present village of Canajoharie, boarding with mine host, Johannes Roof, a pioneer settler, some years before, of Fort Stanwix, now Rome.
Execution of two Spies.-While Gen. Clinton was waiting at Canajoharie for his troops and supplies to assemble, and also for the construction and delivery of bateaus, two tories were there hung, and a deserter shot. The following letter from Gen. Clinton to his wife, dated July 6th, 1779, briefly narrates the death of the two former :
" I have nothing further to acquaint you of, except that we apprehended a certain Lieut. Henry Hare, and a Sergeant Newbury, both of Col. Butler's regiment, who confessed that they left the Seneca country with 63 Indiana and two white men, who divided themselves into three parties ; one party was to attack Schoharie, another party Cherry Valley and the Mohawk river, and the other party to skulk about Fort Schuyler and the upper part of the Mohawk river, to take prisoners or scalps. I had them tried by a general court martial for spies, who sentenced them both to be hanged, which was done accordingly at Canajoharie, to the satisfaction of all the inhabitants of that place who were friends to their country, as they were known to be very active in almost all the murders that were committed on these frontiers. They were inhabitants of Tryon county, had each a wife and several children, who came to see them and beg their lives."
The name of Hare was one of respectability in the Mohawk valley, before the Revolution. Members of the Hare family were engaged for years in sundry speculations with Maj. Jelles Fonda, who, as shown in the first volume, carried on an extensive trade with the Indians and fur traders at the western military posts ; his own residence being at Caughnawaga.* Henry Hare resided, before the war, a few miles from Fort Hunter. At the time he left the valley with the royalist party to go to Canada, his family remained, as did that of William Newbury, who lived about three miles from Hare, toward the present village of Glen. If Hare had rendered himself obnoxious to the whigs of Tryon county, Newbury had doubly so, by his inhuman cruelties at the massacre of Cherry Valley, one of which, the murder of a Mitchell child, on his trial, was proven against him. Hare and Newbury visited their friends, and were secreted for several days at their own dwellings. The former had left home before daylight to return to Canada, and was to call for his comrade
* All the territory on the north side of the Mohawk, from The Nose to Tribe's Hill, a distance of 13 miles, was called Caughnawaga-an Indian name, which signified stone In the water. Some writers have given as its signification, " The coffin-shaped stone in the water." Tradition has handed down from a family which early settled on the bank of the river near this stone, the interpretation first given. Indeed, the signification here given was also obtained from Joseph Brant. This Indian name, we must suppose, originated long before this State was settled by the whites: of course the aborigines could have known nothing about coffins-they had no tools by which they could possibly make them. When the Revolution began, Maj. Fonda was erecting buildings for the prosecution of business, six miles westward of his Caughnawaga residence, on a farm since known as the Schenck place. At a later day he built the dwelling owned, in 1845, by C. McVean, Esq., so pleasantly situated on the hill in Fonda, where he died June 23,1791, aged 61 years.
on his route. Maj. Newkirk, who resided but a short distance from Hare, met a tory neighbor on the afternoon of the day on which Hare left home, who, wishing to be considered a quidnunc and lull suspicions resting upon himself, communicated to him the fact that Hare had been home ; and supposing him then out of danger, he added, "perhaps he is about home yet." He also informed him that Newbury had been seen. Hare brought home for his wife several articles of clothing, such as British calicoes, dress-shawls, Indian moccasins, etc., and on the very day he set out to return to Canada, she was so imprudent as to put them on and go visiting-the sight of which corroborated the story told Newkirk. The Major notified Capt. Snooks, who collected a few armed Whigs, and in the evening secreted him self with them near the residence of Hare, if possible, to give some further account of him.
Providence seems to have favored the design, for the latter, on going to Newbury's, had sprained an ankle. Not being willing to undertake so long a journey with a lame foot, and little suspecting that a friend had revealed his visit, he concluded to return to his dwelling. While limping along through his own orchard, Francis Putman, one of the Snooks party, then but 15 or 16 years old, stepped from behind an apple tree, presented his musket to his breast, and ordered him to stand. At a given signal, the rest of the party came up and he was secured. They learned from the prisoner that Newbury had not yet set out for Canada, and a party under Lieut. Newkirk went the same night and arrested him. They were enabled to find his house in the woods by following a tame deer which tied to it. The prisoners were next day taken to Canajoharie, where they were tried by court martial, found guilty, and executed as previously shown. The execution took place on Academy Hill, in the present village of Canajoharie. Said Joseph Wagner, who saw Hare hung, " He had on a spotted calico shirt, ruffled at the bosom and cuffs. The gallows was made by setting up two crotches with a pole across them. He stood in a wagon and adjusted the rope on his neck, the wagon was drawn from under him and he was soon with his God."- John S. Quackenboss and Mrs. E. Gardinier.
The influence exerted by the friends of Hare to save him would have been successful, had he declared that he visited the valley solely to see his family. He may have thought they dare not hang him ; certain it is, that when he was interrogated as to the object of his visit, he unhesitatingly said that he not only came here to see his family, but also came in the capacity of a spy.* A deserter, named Titus, was shot at Canajoharie about the time the spies were hung, as I have been informed by an eye witness to all three executions.-James Williamson.
At the time the spies were to be executed, Gen. Clinton rode up to Fort Plain and spent an hour or two with Domine Gros ; to avoid the importunity of their friends who begged for their lives ; and especially wad this the case with Mrs. Hare- William H. Seeber.
Deserters were shot for the first, second or third offence, as circumstances warranted. Titus was buried near the place of his execution on the flats, and his bones were thrown out at the time of constructing the Erie canal, by workmen who were getting earth for its embankments.-Daniel Spencer.-The body of Hare was given to his relatives for interment. Previous to burial the coffin was placed in a cellar-kitchen, before a window, in which position a snake crawled over it. This circumstance gave rise to much speculation among the superstitious, who said " It was the devil after his spirit."
A Wagon-road Opened.-The troops under Gen. Clinton opened a road from Canajoharie through the town of Springfield, to the head of Otsego lake, where they launched their fleet of bateaus and floated down its placid waters nine miles to its outlet-now the location of the romantic village of Cooperstown. This passage down the lake was made on a lovely summer's day, and everything connected with it was so novel and picturesque, that the scene was truly enchanting. On arriving at the foot of the lake, the troops landed and remained several weeks, until it was sufficiently raised by a dam constructed at the outlet, to float the boats. When a sufficient head of water was thus obtained-the boats having been properly arranged along the outlet and filled with the troops, stores and cannon- the dam was torn away, and the numerous fleet of small fry (208 boats) floated off in fine style, and passed down the tributary into
* When Lieut. Hare was In custody, at the request of Gen. Clinton, he was asked by Johannes Roof if he did not kill Caty Steers, at Fort Stanwix, in 1777; " For," said Roof, " you was seen with your hands in her hair." He confessed that he had killed and scalped her -John Roof, Jr., afterwards Colonel.
the winding Susquehanna. (This is an aboriginal word, said to signify, the crooked river.) It is said that preparatory to opening the outlet of the lake, a dam made by the sagacious beavers on one of the large inlets, which flooded considerable ground, was ordered to be destroyed to obtain the water. It was partially so served, but the night following, it was, by the industrious animals, again repaired. A more effectual destruction followed, and a guard of men stationed all night, to prevent its being again built by its lawful owners.
A Deserter Shot.-While the enemy were quartered at the outlet of Otsego lake, two men were tried for desertion, and both were sentenced to be shot. The youngest of the two, whose name was Snyder, was pardoned by Gen. Clinton. The other man was a foreigner, who had previously deserted from the British, and having now deserted from the American flag, and persuaded Snyder to desert, Clinton said of him : " He is neither good for King or country, let him be shot." The order was executed-on the west side of the outlet, not far distant from the lake. Not a house had then been erected where Cooperstown now stands.- Williamson.
Col. Rigne.-The company to which Williamson belonged, was attached in Sullivan's campaign to the Second New York Regiment, commanded by Col. Rigne, a French officer. He was a large, well made, jovial fellow, of whom Mr. Williamson related the following anecdote : Among the men who aided in our glorious struggle for independence, was a regiment of blacks, who generally proved to be good soldiers. That they might readily be distinguished, they wore wool hats with the brim and lower half of the crown colored black-the remainder being left drab or the native color. While waiting for Otsego lake to rise, the troops were drilled every day. As Col. Rigne was thus engaged with his own and parts of several other regiments, among whom were one or two companies of black soldiers, one of the latter men, from inattention, failed to execute a command in proper time. " Halloo !'' said the Colonel, " you black son of a b-h wid a white face!-why you no mind your beezness? " This hasty exclamation in broken English so pleased the troops, that a general burst of laughter followed. Seeing the men mirthful at his expense, he good humoredly gave the command to order arms. " Now '. " said he, "laugh yourpelly full all'. " And joining in it himself, hill and dale sent back their boisterous merriment.
Col. Butler Joins Clinton.-In the summer of 1779, Col. William Butler received timely orders to move from Schoharie and join the forces under Gen. Clinton at Canajoharie. Among Col. Butler's men, who had rendered good services in Schoharie during their sojourn, were Lieut. Thomas Boyd*, Timothy Murphy and David Elerson. Murphy was a native of Pennsylvania, of Irish parentage, and Elerson a Virginian, of Scotch descent.
* Lieut. Boyd was a native of Northumberland county, Pennsylvania He was about the usual height, and was a stout built, fine looking young man; being very sociable and agreeable in his manners, which had gained him many friends in Schoharie. While there, he paid his addresses to Miss Cornelia, a daughter of Bartholomew Becker, who gave birth to a daughter after his death, of which he was the reputed father This child, named Catharlne, grew up a very respectable woman, and afterwards became the wife of Margins Vrooman While the troops under Col. Butler were preparing to leave Schoharie, Miss Becker, in a state of mind bordering on phrensy, approached her lover, caught hold of his arm, and in tears besought him by the most earnest entreaties, to marry her before he left Schoharie. He endeavored to put her off with future promises, and to free himself from her grasp She told him : "If he went off without marrying her, she hoped he would be cut to pieces by the Indians! " In the midst of this unpleasant scene. Col. Butler rode up and reprimanded Boyd for his delay, as the troops were ready to march-and the latter, mortlfled at being seen by his commander, thus importuned by a girl, drew his sword and threatened to stab her if she did not instantly leave him. She did leave him, and anticipating future shame, called down the vengeance of heaven upon him. Her imprecation was answered, as will hereafter bo seen, to the fullest extent: a fearful warning to those who trifle with woman's affection. Such was the last interview of Lieut. Boyd with the girl he had engaged to marry.- Joshis S. Vrooman, who witnessed the parting scene.
Schools.-Most of the schools established prior to the Revolution in frontier exposed settlements, were broken up at an early period of the war ; though some struggled through several years. Schoharie sustained a school, it is believed, until about the time the following paper was executed. It is not only written in English, but is in a legible and good hand for the times :
Received of Mr. Jacob Fr. Lawyer the sum of five pounds thirteen shillings,
for the last or sixth year's salary for school. I say received in full of
all accounts between us the 3d day of July, Anno. l779.
"GEORGE FR. REINGARD."
Sullivan's Army.-While Gen. Sullivan, with his army, was at Tioga Point, he was much annoyed by small parties of Indians, who crept up in the long grass on the opposite side of the river, and fired upon his men, killing or wounding them in repeated instances ; and he devised a plan to intercept them : the execution of which was committed to Lieut. Moses Van Campen. The following is Van Campen's own account of his manner of proceeding, as published in a small volume entitled Sullivan's Campaign.
" MAJOR ADAM HOOPS-An aid-de-camp to Gen. Sullivan, presented to me my instructions, with a piece of white paper folded up, a leaden weight within, and a twine-cord about 20 feet long fastened to it. I was to get as near the enemy's camp as was prudent, and to select one of the shady oaks, conceal my men in the bush, and place my sentinel in the top of the oak, with the paper and twine-cord, to give the signal if he discovered a party of Indians-to sink the paper down the tree as many feet as they were in numbers-if passing to the right or left to give the signal accordingly.
"It was one of the warm days in the latter part of August, I marched as near to the enemy's camp as I was directed. I selected my tree ; my sentinel ascended 20 or 25 feet, and my men were concealed. We laid in watch about an hour. Every eye was fixed on the sentinel. At length the paper dropped down about four feet. I spoke to my men, saying, 'My good fellows, we shall soon have sport.' The paper continued to drop to 10 feet. I observed again, 'We shall have something more to do.' The paper continued to drop to 15 feet. 'Now, my good felloes, we shall have enough to do-15 to 20 of us. Let every shot make their number less.' Behold ! the fellow had fallen asleep ; let the twine-cord slip through his fingers ; lost his balance ; and came down like a shot, head foremost. He was much bruised by the fall. I made my report to the General " etc. etc.
Assembling of the Army at Tioga Point.-Gen. Clinton joined Gen. Sullivan at Tioga, August 22d, and four days after, the army, then 5,000 strong, moved forward. All the Indian huts discovered on the route from Tioga westward, with the fields of growing corn, beans, etc., were destroyed by the American troops. At Newtown, now Elmira, the enemy under Cole. Butler and Johnson, and the chieftain Brant, collected a force, threw up a breastwork, and prepared to dispute the further progress of the invaders of their soil. On the 29th of August the troops under Sullivan reached the fortifications of the enemy, and a spirited action followed. The enemy evinced great bravery, but being overpowered by numbers, they abandoned their works with considerable loss.
Gen. Sullivan had a morning and evening gun fired daily while proceeding to and from the Indian country, for which he has been much censured by some chroniclers. His object in doing it was to notify the numerous scouting parties which were daily kept out, of his position.
A Prisoner Set Free.-Several pleasing incidents owed their origin to the signal guns. In one instance a large party of Indians were in ambush to surprise an advanced guard when the signal gun was fired from elevated ground not far distant. The Indians-who ever dread the sound of cannon, supposing the gun fired at them, scampered off like frightened sheep. Upon the firing of a signal gun after the battle of Newtown, a white woman came into the American camp. Knowing Col. John Butler, whom she supposed could give her some account of her red husband, she enquired for Col. Butler, and was immediately introduced to Col. William Butler. On coming into his presence and finding him a stranger--the truth flashed upon her mind-she was in the American camp, and in the presence of those who would protect her. She stated that she was a native of Danbury, Connecticut ; had been married several years, and was living at Wyoming the year before, when that delightful country was devastated by the enemy-at which time she was made a prisoner. Her husband had been killed among the numerous victims of savage cruelty. She further stated that at the time she was captured she had three children-two small boys and an infant child at the breast. The boys were given to different Indians, and the brains of the infant were dashed out against a tree ; after which she was compelled to live with an Indian as his wife. When she thus providentially entered the American camp, she had an infant child-the fruit of her late unhappy connection. This child died not long after, and it was suspected that an American soldier, from sympathy to the woman, had given it poison. As the Indian country had been invaded, this woman had been obliged to follow the fortunes of her master, and having been separated from him by the disconfiture of the enemy, Sullivan's cannon, which she supposed fired in the British camp, directed her course. On the return of the army, she went back to her friends in Connecticut.-James Williamson.
After the battle of Newtown, Gen. Sullivan sent back to Tioga much of his heavy baggage, and pushed forward in pursuit of the enemy-fully executing in the destruction of the settlements the order of the Commander-in-chief. The country of the Cayugas and Senecas, where the Indians had many nourishing settlements and several well built villages of good painted frame houses, were entirely destroyed-together with the fields of growing corn and beans. Of the corn, there were full 500 acres, and of the beans, 70 acres, as I was credibly informed after my first statement was published. Fruit trees, of which the Indians had an abundance, laden with green apples, peaches and pears, were cut down. Ears of corn were found in that country full eighteen inches long, showing the exceeding fertility of the soil. It seems indeed lamentable that stern necessity should require the destruction of fruit trees, the growth of many years-but when we consider that they afforded the enemy an important item of his annual food, we must admit that the measure as one of retaliation, was justifiable.
Fate of a Child.-At the Indian village of Kanadaseago, situated a little distance west of Geneva, a white male child was found by the American army. It was not more than three or four years old, and when discovered, was naked, with a string of beads about its neck. This child, which had been abandoned by the enemy in their precipitate flight, was supposed to have been among the captives made the year before, on the frontiers of New York or Pennsylvania. He was found before the door of a hut playing with small sticks, and when accosted could only say, sago-how do, and a few- other Indian words ; having been captured too young to give the least clue to his paternity. -James Williamson.
In addition to the above, I learn from the son of Capt. Machin, respecting this probable orphan child, that it found in that officer (an engineer in the army), a god-father, and was christened Thomas Machin-that it was nearly famished when found, and could not have been kept alive, had not the Americans providentially taken a fresh-milk cow which had strayed from the enemy-that the milk of this cow, which was driven with the army on the return march for that purpose, afforded its nourishment-that the little unknown was taken in the fall to the house of Maj. Logan, at New Windsor, where it took the small-pox in the hard winter following and died, without any Information ever being disclosed as to its birth-place or parentage.
A Dangerous Exposure.-As he assured the writer in 1846, Samuel Pettit, a private soldier in the army, was one afternoon given the care of an over-loaded pack horse ; which, long before the Americans were to encamp, fell in the rear, and it was impossible to urge forward the poor jaded beast, so as to keep up with its fellows. He did not dare to abandon his trust, and when the evening shades prevailed, he supposed himself nearly a mile behind the rear guard-constantly exposed to be cut off if any of the foemen as was their custom, were hanging upon their rear. When momentarily expecting a cruel fate, he discovered the glowing camp fire of the army, in his approach to which he came near being fired on by a sentinel, who mistook him for one of the enemy. His Captain was mortified to learn the peril this brave man had been in for an old nag, and assured him he should never be similarly exposed again.
Maj. Paar commanded a rifle corps which accompanied Sullivan in his expedition. When the army, which had met with little opposition from the enemy after the battle of "Newtown, arrived at the inlet of Conesus lake, a scout was sent out early in the evening, under Lieut. Thomas Boyd,* one of which was Timothy Murphy. Says Maj. Hoops, in a letter I find in Sullivan's campaign :
" I was in the General's tent when he gave his instructions to Lieut. Boyd, which were very particular-verbal, of course.
* Some published account has erroneously stated the given name to have man to have been William.
The country before us was unknown. We had heard of an Indian castle on the river Genesee, which, by our reckoning, might be a few miles ahead of us. The term castle was taken from Chateau-the French having long before magnified Indian villages into Chateaux, afterwards rendered literally into English. There were the Oneida castle, perhaps at or near Utica-the Seneca castle, near to the present village of Geneva, as well as some others. The castle Lieut. Boyd was detached to discover, consisted, probably, of a few Indian huts, near Williamsburgh, a few miles above the present village of Geneseo.
" The evening before Lieut. Boyd was detached by Gen. Sullivan from the inlet of the Kanaghsas lake, a long bridge was begun and finished in the night, or early in the next morning, over the inlet. Boyd, not having returned by daylight, the General was very uneasy ; particularly from finding that, to the six riflemen he meant Boyd's party should consist of, 22 musketmen had been added."
The bridge alluded to was constucted by a strong covering party, sent in advance of the main army to open a road through a marshy piece of ground, and erect the bridge. The object of the scout was, to reconnoiter the ground near the Genesee river, at a place now called Williamsburgh, at a distance from the camp of nearly seven miles. The party were guided by Han-Yerry-John George-a faithful Oneida warrior.
Fate of a Brave Oneida.-In a skirmish which took place the afternoon previous to the surprise and massacre of Boyd's command, between Sullivan's advance guard and the enemy, the latter captured two friendly Oneidas, who had, from the beginning of the war, rendered the Americans constant service, and one of whom was then acting as Gen. Sullivan's principal guide. This Indian had an older brother engaged with the enemy, who, as they met, is said (in Stone's Brant) to have addressed him as follows :
" Brother! you have merited death. The hatchet or the war-club shall finish your career. When I begged you to follow me in the fortunes of war, you were deaf to my entreaties.
" Brother ! You have merited death, and shall have your deserts. When the rebels raised their hatchets to fight against their good master, you sharpened your knife, you brightened your rifle, and led on our foes to the fields of our fathers.
" Brother ! You have merited, death, and shall die by our hands. When those rebels had driven us from the fields of our fathers to seek out new houses, it was you who could dare to step forth as their pilot, and conduct them even to the doors of our wigwams, to butcher our children and put us to death. No crime can be greater. But though you have merited death, and shall die on this spot, my hands shall not be stained, with the blood of a brother. Who will strike ?"
In an instant the tomahawk of Little Beard, was twirled, with lightning rapidity over his head, and in another the brave Oneida, the friend, of America and of humanity, lay dead at the feet of the infuriated chief. This is, by many, considered as a mere nourish of rhetoric, and a scene not altogether likely to have occurred.
When we contrast the conduct of this Indian, who declared that his hands should not be stained by the blood, of a brother ; with that of the fratricide, who sought out his brother among the fleeing inhabitants of Wyoming, and shot him while in the act of begging for his life ; with that of William Newbury, at the massacre of Cherry Valley, who, finding a little girl by the name of Mitchell among the fallen, in whom the spark of life was reviving, with the blow of his hatchet, in the presence of her concealed father, laid her dead at his feet; with that of a tory named Beacraft, who was with the desolaters of Vrooman's Land ; and other instances of no less savage spirit-we shall find that of the unlettered Indian to rise in the scale of our just estimation, as that of his more savage allies, sinks them to abhorrence and contempt.
Destruction of Indian Towns.-Beard's Town, one of the largest Indian villages in the Genesee valley, was effectually destroyed, as were several other Indian towns on the west side of the Genesee, by the troops under Gen. Clinton, together with every growing substance found, that the enemy would eat. While this destruction was in progress, officers Poor and Maxwell, proceeded along the east side of the river and destroyed the villages of Canawagus and Big Tree. Three days being thus occupied in this vicinity, in the work of devastation, Sullivan commenced his return march to Tioga Point.
The Army Gives a Grand Salute.-On the 24th of September the enemy arrived at New Town, where Capt. Reid had been left with 200 men to guard some army stores and cattle brought there from Tioga for the troops in case of necessity; and from a breastwork he had thrown up, the troops were greeted with a salute of 13 rounds of cannon ; and on the following morning at 5 o'clock, the whole army was drawn up in one line, with a field piece on the right of each brigade, to tire a feu-de-joie. First, by 13 rounds of cannon ; second, by a running fire of musketry from right to left, which was twice repeated. Five oxen were slaughtered on the joyous occasion; one being delivered to each brigade, and one to the artillery and staff. Spain had declared war against Great Britain, and this celebration was in honor of that event-connected no doubt with the result of the army's own success. See journal of an officer as given at page 131 in Campbell's Annals.
As the American troops approached the western Indian villages, the women and children fled from them to Niagara, while the Indians and their Tory allies prowled about the forest, watching the movements of their foes, and seeking a favorable opportunity to strike an effective blow. During the winter following, the Indians became a tax upon the British government, and as the weather was intensely cold, and they were fed on salt provisions, to which they were unaccustomed, they died in fearful numbers by the scurvy.-Treat's Oration.
It is gratifying to know, that justice has now been done to the memory of Boyd and his companions. In the autumn of 1841, 62 years after their massacre, their remains were taken up, through the commendable zeal of the citizens of Rochester, removed to that city and deposited at Mount Hope cemetery. On the delivery, by the citizens of Livingston county, of the remains of Boyd and Parker, which were found near the junction of two creeks, hereafter to be known as Boyd's creek and Parker's creek, and those of that unfortunate Lieutenant's command who fell in Groveland, to the receiving committee of Monroe county, an appropriate oration was delivered at Geneseo, by S. Treat, Esq. of that place, to an audience, estimated at 5,000 persons. When the procession arrived at Mount Hope Cemetery, and had deposited the sarcophagus and urn in their final resting place, a patriotic address was delivered by his Excellency William H. Seward. Several old soldiers took part in the ceremonies, among whom were Maj. Moses Van Campen, who had, in early life, been a neighbor of Boyd, and Mr. Sanborne, who discovered the remains of Boyd and Parker the day after they were killed. The proceedings were highly creditable to the enterprise and patriotism of Monroe and Livingston counties, and will forever be hailed as a bright page in the history of "Western "New York. The place of their burial at Mount Hope, is set apart not only to receive the remains of those brave men, but of any other soldier of the Revolution that may desire a burial there.
A Summary of Events in Sullivan's Progress.-For the benefit of the reader, here is a succinct account of the movements of Sullivan's army, mainly derived from that officer's report to Congress on his return. After alluding to his victory at Newtown (now Elmira), Aug. 29th, he said he was two days in destroying the crop of corn in that vicinity. It seems he was obliged, thus early to put his men on short allowance ; his excuse being that he was short of pack-horses to transport provisions from Teaoga-Tioga. On submitting his plan for a short allowance to his troops, that they might go forward, it was received with three cheers from the army. Thinking he could destroy all the Indian settlements without them, the day after the Newtown battle, he sent back all his heavy artillery ; retaining only four brass three-pounders and a small howitzer, and loading his ammunition on horses, he set out for Catharine's Town. On the the way he destroyed a settlement of eight houses, and a town called Knawaholee, of about 20 houses, situated at the confluence of the Tioga and Cayuga rivers, with several fields of corn. From this place Col. Dayton was dispatched some miles up the Tioga to destroy some large fields of corn on that stream. I shall write the Indian names in this connection, as spelled in Sullivan's report.
Catharine's Town he found deserted, on his arrival ; but finding an old Cayuga woman in the woods, he learned from her that after the battle of Newtown, where, she said, a great number of their warriors were killed, the enemy were so disheartened that they could not be prevailed upon to make another stand against such odds-indeed, as she said, " Butler's mouth was closed."' From her statements and circumstances he had observed, he was satisfied, the loss of the enemy at Newtown was very great. Gen. Poor and other officers gave it as their opinion, that the enemy at Newtown were some 1,500 strong, although some prisoners called the number 800. His own men examined the enemy's breastworks, and found they extended half a mile, with several bastions and block-houses. Their breastwork seemed thinly manned, but they had a large body posted in reserve, which were designed, as supposed, to fall upon the Americans' flank ; which Gen. Poor routed. Gen. Clinton marched so far to the right as to drive the enemy from this outer position. Weighing all the circumstances, the Americans estimated the enemy at about 1,500, but what could they do against three or four times their number, well organized and flushed with success ? No one has named the loss of the enemy at Newtown.
The army spent one day at Catharine's Town in destroying corn and fruit trees and burning its dwellings, 30 in number ; and the next day in laying waste a settlement of eight houses, and two days after reached Kendia, which was also deserted. Here they were joined by a man who had been captured at Wyoming, who had now escaped from the enemy. From him they learned that the Indians had left that place three days before, in great confusion. He said the tories, on their return, had assured him that they had a great many killed and wounded at "Newtown ; and he heard Butler tell them he must try to make a stand at Kanadasega, but was told by his followers that they would not throw away their lives in attempting to oppose such an army. He said also that Brant had taken many of the wounded up the Tioga in a water craft provided for such an emergency. Kendia or Kendaia (for he wrote it both ways), was a place of about 20 neatly built houses, which were destroyed, with a great abundance of corn and fruit trees-many of the latter being large and the growth of many years.
The next day they crossed the outlet of Seneca lake in three divisions, so as to encircle Kanadesega-but found it also abandoned. A white child about three years old was found here, and was taken along with the army. This was the child of which Engineer Machin became god-father. From this place a detachment of 400 men was sent down on the west side of the lake to destroy Gothseuqueau and its plantations ; at which time volunteers under Col. John Harper, made a forced march toward Cayuga lake, and destroyed Schoyere ; the residue of the army being engaged in destroying the crops at Kanadesega, which wore abundant. This town had 50 houses pleasantly situated, with great numbers of fruit trees, but all shared the cruel destiny ; which proved to the Indians the truism of the good book. " With what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again." True, the Indians did not stop to destroy growing crops or cut down or girdle fruit trees, unless perhaps in a few instances, for they were not circumstanced to do it; but they applied the torch to thousands of barns, barracks and stacks of stored grain and hay, and danced amid their smoke ; leaving hundreds of cattle, sheep and swine killed where found, there to decay ; plundering the settlers dwellings before burning, and bearing the scalps of their owners, obtained often at midnight, to a foreign market.
Two days after destroying Kanadesega, the army arrived at Kanandaque, having been joined on the march by the troops sent along Seneca lake, which had destroyed the settlements in that quarter. At Kanandaque, were 23 " large and elegant houses," all of which were destroyed with extensive fields of corn. From thence they marched to Kannayage, a town of 10 houses also destroyed. At this place a post with a strong garrison was established, where the heavy stores of the army were left with afield piece, and it proceeded on toward Chinefee, the capital of the Indian country. Sullivan had been informed that great pains had been taken that season by Indians and tory rangers, to raise crops at this place to subsist the enemy the coming winter, on which account he determined to go there. On the second day he arrived at Koneghsaws, a town of 25 houses. Here were large cornfields, a part of which were destroyed while the army was building a bridge over an unfordable creek, between them and Chinefee.
At this point of his narrative, he says he had the evening before, ordered Lieut. Boyd with three or four riflemen, a guide and an Indian chief, to reconnoitre the Chinefee town, with the view of surprising it. The scout was increased to 26 unbeknown to him. The reader is already familiar with the fate of Boyd and his men ; but this account seems to possess the number actually slain. The guides, unacquainted with the country, mistook the roads in the night, and at daylight fell in with a castle six miles higher up than Chinefee, inhabited by a tribe called Squatehkak ; where they saw a few Indians and killed and scalped two of them ; one was shot by Tim Murphy and the other by Ben Custin. Boyd dispatched two runners back to the camp to report progress. When the bridge was nearly completed, word reached hte camp that Boyd and his party then numbering 24, were surrounded by the enemy into whose coils they had been decoyed by a few, two of whom in their pursuit of them they had slain. Sullivan sent forward a body of light troops, but they arrived too late ; as the enemy had done their work and escaped. It has generally been said, that Boyd's whole command were killed except three, but the General's statement re, that Boyd's men who were sent to secure his flanks made their escape, but that Boyd, in a small grove of trees with 14 of his men were surrounded by 300 or 400 Indians and rangers, and all killed except Boyd and Parker, who were captured.
As I have elsewhere shown that three of the men that were surrounded actually escaped-then if but 15 were all that were inclosed in the grove, 12 of them including the two captives were slain. This would leave besides the two Boyd sent back in the morning, nine more to have escaped on the flanks when the melee began. As Boyd's men, when the stand was made, were behind trees, and the enemy uncovered, it is believed the latter suffered severely-the Americans selling their lives as dearly as possible. The firing was so close at the last, that the powder of the enemy's guns was driven into the flesh of the slain. Gen. Hand's party coming upon the enemy so soon, they having been detained in the removal of their dead and wounded, compelled them to abandon a wagon load of packs, blankets, hats and provisions, which they had thrown off at the beginning of the fight-effects belonging mostly to the Tory rangers. Gen. Sullivan assigned as an evidence of the enemy's suffering by this handful of brave men, the cruelties inflicted upon the two prisoners, and especially upon Boyd. Of the number of the latter he said : " It appeared they had whipped him in the most cruel manner, pulled out his nails, cut off his nose, plucked out one of his eyes, cut out his tongue, stabbed him with spears in sundry places, and inflicted other tortures which decency will not permit me to mention ; lastly, they cut off his head and left his body on the ground, with that of his unfortunate companion, who seemed to have experienced nearly the same savage barbarity." The party which Boyd fell in with was commanded by Col. John Butler, and had been well posted in ambush to fire on the advancing army ; but the event mentioned frustrated that design.
After Boyds's capture, the army moved on to the castle last mentioned, as belonging to the Squatehkak tribe, where were 25 houses with extensive fields of corn, all of which were destroyed ; and the next day they reached Chinefee, crossing on the way a deep creek and the Little Seneca river, six miles from which they reached the castle, where were "128 houses mostly very large and elegant." The town was finely situated, where were most extensive fields of corn, and every kind of vegetable. The whole army was engaged in destroying these nice crops, the corn being collected and burned in the houses and kilns, that the enemy should reap no benefit from them ; a method pursued at every place. Here, said Sullivan, a woman came to us who had been captured at Wyoming. She said the enemy had evacuated the town two days before, and that Butler went off with 300 or 400 Indians and rangers, as he said, to get a shot at the enemy. This was the party which cut off Boyd. She gave a sad picture of the enemy's prospects-said the Indian women were constantly begging the warriors to sue for peace, and that Col. Johnson's life was jeopardized, for the falsehoods by which he had deceived, and brought ruin upon them. She said she had heard Butler telling Johnson, that it was impossible to keep the Indians together after the battle of Newtown. The enemy anticipated a siege of Fort Niagara from Sullivan's army, in which event the women and children were to be sent to Canada.
Cayuga Towns Destroyed.-After having destroyed the principal town of the Senecas, and hearing of no other settlements in the neighborhood needing a Vandal, being short of provisions, he found it necessary to commence his return march for Kanadasaga, the 18th day after leaving Newtown. At that place he was met by three Oneidas he had sent to get information respecting the Cayugas ; and from it he detached Col. Smith with a party, down the west side of Seneca Lake, to destroy anything there which remained undestroyed. From thence he also sent Col. Gansevoort, with 100 men, to Albany to forward the baggage of the N. Y. regiments to the main army, and to take with him such soldiers as were at that place. He was directed, on his route, to destroy the lower Mohawk castle, capturing six or seven families, who harbored and gave intelligence to the enemy. These Indian families had remained, among other objects, to retain possession of their lands. I have already shown that most of the Indian and tory families were removed from Tribe's Hill the preceding summer. He stated that at this time the upper Mohawk castle was inhabited by Orkeskes, our friends, whom he was not to disturb. "With Col. Gansevoort, he sent Mr. Dean, who bore a message to the Oneidas. He also sent Col. William Butler with 600 men to destroy the Gayuga country ; and with him all the Oneida warriors, who were to endeavor to persuade the Cayugas to become prisoners of war.
Crossing Seneca river, he detached Col. Dearborn to the west side of Cayuga lake to destroy all the settlements he could find there, and intercept the Cayugas if they escaped Col. Butler. The remainder of the army passed down between the lakes towards Catharine's Town. Col. Dearborn burnt six towns in his route, destroying with them large quantities or corn. He also brought off two prisoners, and again joined the army on the evening of the 26th. Col. Cortlandt was next sent off with 300 men, up the Tioga, and destroyed some houses and cornfields in that direction. Col. Butler again joined the army on the 28th, forming a complete junction at Conowalohala, on the 29th day after leaving Newtown. Here an abundant supply of provisions met them from Tioga. Col. Butler destroyed five principal Cayuga towns, and, with scattering ones, about 100 large and well built houses, and with them 200 acres of excellent corn, and a number of orchards, one of which contained 1,500 fruit trees. An Indian settlement, not far from "Newtown, was destroyed, containing 39 dwellings. Said Sullivan, " The number of towns destroyed by this army amounts to 40, besides scattering houses. The quantity of corn destroyed, by a moderate computation, must amount to 160,000 bushels, with a vast quantity of vegetables of every kind. Every creek and river has been traced, and the whole country explored in search of Indian settlements, and I am well persuaded that, except one town situate near the Alleghana, about 50 miles from Chinesee, there is not a single town left in the country of the Five Nations."
Since the above was written, I have persued, with great satisfaction, a digest of Sullivan's expedition, made by that untiring student in Indian archaeology, Gen. John S. Clark, of Auburn N. Y., and published in 1879, in the interest of the newly organized Historical Society of Cayuga county, as number one of its collections : and a noble beginning it is. It is a most creditable document of nearly an hundred neatly printed octavo pages, illustrated by maps of the " Battlefield of Newtown," and the " Groveland Ambuscade," and was published at Auburn, N. Y. The author gives evidence of having consulted more than 30 private Journals of officers and soldiers in the expedition. It is elaborated by numerous valuable foot-notes. He names some 40 towns and hamlets destroyed, the whole number of dwellings in which, estimating all those burned, whose number is not given as five each, and including scattering huts, approximates 700 ; add to this number 50 destroyed at Onondaga, by Col. Van Schaick, in the preceding April, as I have shown from the Journal of Capt. Machin, who accompanied the expedition, and we have the homes of no less than 750 poor Indian families totally destroyed.
A Painful Retrospect.-Reader, look on this picture of Gen. Sullivan's desolation of this goodly heritage ; see how its primitive owners, the lords of the forest and the soil, whose strength in our weakness was proverbial in central New York, who received our ancestors kindly and stood as a shield between them and their Canadian foes ; now despoiled and dashed in pieces for adhering to the British interest, lured thither by the influence of the Johnson family, which, at too late an hour, they discovered gave them a false estimate of our strength-and tell me if you have not a tear of sympathy for this once distinguished and brave people ! Many have been its Hendricks and its Logans in nursing our republic into life. Alas ! what fate war sometimes brings to the conquered. It seems not very surprising that the Indians should have listened overwelmingly, to those to whom they had learned to look for counsel and advice; but the fate of the great Indian confederacy of New York, alas ! shows us how the hopes of a nation may, in a few short weeks, by the blasting breath of war, be destroyed.
Gen. Sullivan spoke well of his officers of every rank, and of the soldiers for their unshaken firmness in enduring the toils and difficulties attending the expedition. He said that although he had it not in command to go to Niagara, he thought he should have ventured a visit there, if he had had a 15 days' supply of provisions. But the presumption is that, without the heavy artillery which he had already sent back to Tioga, he could hardly have captured the fort. He said it would have pleased the army to have had a second engagement, but the enemy were too panic stricken to make a stand after they left Newtown ; nor, he added, have they fired a single gun at the army on the march or in its quarters, although the country greatly favored such exploits. This he construed as another evidence of their severe suffering in their first attempt to oppose his progress. He said he flattered himself he had fully executed his orders, since he had not left a single settlement or afield of corn in the country of the Five Nations, or indeed the appearance of an Indian on this side of the Niagara.
O, what a cruel necessity is that which must destroy all the subsistence and render hopeless a whole people. This condition happened because the Indians in the service of royalty executed her cruel mandates to assist in subjugating her American subjects ; inasmuch as they would not tamely submit to known legislative abuses. If there was a seeming wrong in this terrible retribution upon the inhuman acts of the Indians on our frontiers for two seasons ; it should all recoil upon the British crown, for holding out mercenary inducements for the Indians to take up arms. The American policy was, to have them stand aloof, remain neutral and look on ; while the nations, mother and son, did the fighting in a civilized manner. Capt. Machin, as an engineer, was in Sullivan's expedition to the Genesee valley in 1779. At Canajoharie he received one, and at Otsego lake the other, of the following letters from Dr. Young.
"DEAR SIR-Yours of the 21st by Doct. Maus came safe to hand this forenoon, and gives me the greatest pleasure to find things are conducted with spirit. The fortunate capture and immediate execution of Lieut. Hare, will, I hope, produce good consequences, as it will convince the enemy that we have spirit enough to retaliate, and chastise them for their savage barbarity. The surgeon of Hazen's regiment writes Doct. Stringer, that Hazen, with about half the regiment are within 40 miles of St. Johns, that many Canadians had joined him, that the Canadians in bulk (a few of the lowest of the people excepted,) are strongly attached to the cause of the Americans. That two French frigates have lately made their appearance in St. Pauls Bay, near Isle a Caudre, and that no English vessels had arrived this season, which causes some to imagine that the French have a fleet in the river. The news from Charles Town, I think may be depended upon-as soon as it comes officially from Congress, I will transmit it to you by the first opportunity. Continue to write, and expect the most material occurrences in our quarter in return. Two members of Congress, viz.: Doct. Weatherspoon and Col. Atlee passed through this place to the State of Vermont, on Monday ; probably to deliver to them (Vermonters) the sentiments of Congress concerning their separation from this State.
Please to present my compliments to the gentlemen of the Artillery Corps,
and believe me to be with sincere esteem,
" Your Friend and Serv't,
" JOS. YOUNG.
June 22d, 1779."
DEAR SIR-I acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 25th inst., and am happy to hear that everything has succeeded so well hitherto-hope you may glide on in the same current of good fortune, till the end of a glorious campaign, and return to Albany crown'd with unfading laurels. Another acct. of our success over the enemy at Charles Town is arrived, the particulars of which will be transmitted to the General by Capt. Lush.
" A Pennsylvania paper is in town, containing a speech of one Gordon, in the house of Commons, equal in freedom and smartness to Junius's letters-could I procure it, I would inclose it. Our little fleet in many late instances has demurr'd to the claim of the haughty Britons, to the universal empire of the sea ; and have convinced some of them that their claim was not well founded, by a most powerful train of well directed arguments, leaving them high and dry at anchor in the state house at Philadelphia. One of the British litigants never put in a plea, but suffered judgment to pass against him by default.
and the English fleets, are both out at sea of o nearly equal numbers, and
in sight of each other ; by which circumstance it is conjectured there will
be much chopping of logic, and many learned and forcible arguments made use
of pro and contra, when the pleas are closed, 'tis said a jury of surgeons
meet to decide upon the merits of the cause in question ; when I receive their
verdict I will transmit it to you -as it may have a tendency to elucidate
some points, that are at present under the consideration of the literati,
both at St. James' and Philadelphia. Till which I am,
"Your friend and servant,
"Albany, June 27th, 1779."
The following extracts are from a letter to Capt. Machin while at Otsego lake :
" The southern news still remains without a confirmation from Congress." (The southern news alluded to by Young and Rutgers, was no doubt the abortive attempt of the British army under Provost, to capture the city of Charleston, S. C., about the middle of May.) " Though there is not the least doubt of its being true. The enemy are yet at King's Ferry. A few days since it was thought they were coming up ; as some heavy cannons are arrived from the eastward, I think we shall be in tolerable good order to receive them, if ever they get in earnest about it.
Gen. Washington is at New Windsor and quarters at Col. Ellison's. The park
of artillery I hear is at Chester, and the infantry scattered in the denies
of the mountains near the garrison. The inhospitable mountains not suffering
the army to remain in their usual compact order.
Your most obedient, etc.,
" HENRY RUTGERS, JR."
Machin's Map*-While under Sullivan, Capt. Machin executed a handsome map of Cayuga and Seneca lakes, with the distance on the way out at intervals of one mile each, from Tioga Point to the end of the route, which terminated nearly sixty miles west of the outlet of Seneca lake, and back to the starting place ; going down on the east side of the Seneca and and returning on the east side of Cayuga lake.
* Just who executed this map is not certain. Capt. Lodge and Machin both accompanied the expedition, and were engaged In this survey. I have called it Machin's map, because it came to me with his papers.
The route pursued as marked, upon this map crosses Spring creek near Tioga, into which it empties, 21 miles from its month, and passing up the west side of that stream a few miles, struck the head waters of Seneca creek. The route continued some five or six miles along the west side of the creek, then crossing, was continued upon its eastern side with one exception at an angle, to "French Catharine's Town," situated, in a bend of the creek three or four miles from its mouth. From Catharine's Town the route led along the east side of Seneca lake crossing at a little distance from the lake, 25 small streams which ran into it along its eastern shore. Eleven miles from the outlet, probably in the present town of Ovid, they destroyed an Indian village situated on the north side of a small creek, and called on Machin's map " Candia." Crossing the outlet of Seneca lake, the army proceeded westward, and a few miles from the lake destroyed " Kanadesago," the largest of the Seneca towns.
While Sullivan's army was in the Indian country an incident occurred to which I have before alluded, some additional particulars of which may prove interesting. An advance party which was opening a road for the army and protected by a strong covering party, were attacked by a Seneca chief, with 82 warriors. The guard instantly ran to rescue the advance, and a skirmish ensued, in which that chief and two of his followers were slain. The enemy, from the noise and impetuosity of the attack, supposing the whole army was upon them, fled precipitately, leaving their packs, blankets, kettles, etc. Upon the person of this Seneca chief was found a pocket book which contained two papers of interest. One was a certificate, of which the following is a copy.
may certify that Kayingwaurto, the Sanake Chief, has been on an expedition
to Fort Stanwix and has taken two scalps, one from an officer and a corporal
that were a gunning near the fort, for which I promise to pay at sight, ten
dollars for each scalp.
" Given under my hand at Buck's Island.
" JOHN BUTLER, Col. and Supt.
" of the Six Nations and the
" Allies of his Majesty"
It having been asserted in Congress, after the war, that there was no evidence of the fact that the British government authorized the payment of money for scalps, the original certificate of Col. Butler to Kayingwaurto, known by one of the New York members, Hon. Killian K. Van Rensselaer of Albany, to be in Machin's possession, was sent for, and was accordingly forwarded to the seat of government; the evidence it contained was satisfactory that Britain did buy American scalps, and thus the controversy ended. In 1873, Richard Van Rensselaer, Esq., a son of Killian K., assured the writer that this receipt could not be found among his father's papers.
The other paper found in the pocket book of the Seneca chief, filed "Convention of Whyoming," is an original manuscript under the hand and seal of John Butler and Kayingwaurto, the seal of the latter being the figured emblem of a turtle.*
WESTMORELAND, 5th July, 1778.
" This doth hereby certify that Lieut. Elisha Scovell has surrendered his garrison with all his people to government, and to remain as neutral during the present contest with Great Britain and America ; in consideration of which, Col. John Butler, Superintendent of the Six Nations of Indians, their allies, etc., with Kayingwaurto, the chief of the Sanake (Seneca) nation and the other chief warriors of the Six Nations, do promise, that they shall live in quiet possession of their places with their families, and shall be daily protected from insult as far as lies
* About the year 1859, I sent this paper by mail to the Historical Society of Philadelphia, as its proper custodian, but know not its fate-hope it was not lost.
their power, and provided that they should be taken it is our desire that
they may forthwith be released.
" [L. S.] JOHN BUTLER.
" [Device of Turtle.] KAYINGWAURTO."
Sullivan's Homeward Route. - The map made by Capt. Machin who shows that on the return of Sullivan's army from the Genesee country, it proceeded along the north side of the outlet of Seneca lake, destroying equidistant from Seneca and Cayuga lakes, an Indian village called Scawyace. Crossing the outlet of Cayuga the route was continued up the eastern side of the lake. "East Cayuga or Old Town, Cayuga castle, Upper Cayuga and Chonodote," are places noted on the map on this part of the route. Fourteen small streams are located as having been crossed along the eastern shore of the lake, all running into it before reaching its principal tributary. Passing a few miles up the latter stream the army crossed it, and continuing a southwesterly course came into the road by which it had gone out, about five miles above the mouth of Spring creek. The following table of distances, made at the time, is preserved with the map, and is in Machin's handwriting.
" Distance of Places from Eastown to Chenneessee, (Genesee) castle, taken in 1779, by actual survey.
OF PLACES. // Miles// Total.
From Eastown to Weoming // 65 // 65
To Lachawaneck creek // 10 // 75
To Quailuternunk // 7 // 83
To Tunkhannunk creek // 11 // 93
To Meshohing creek // 9 // 102
To Vanderlip's plantation // 5 // 107
To Wealusking town // 8 // 115
To Wessawkin or Pine creek // 14 1/2 // 129 1/2
To Tioga // 15 1/2 //145
To Chenumg // 12 // 157
To Newtown // 8 1/2 // 165 1/2
To French Catharine's Town // 18 // 183 1/2
To Candia or Apple Town // 27 1/2 // 211
To the outlet of the Seneca Lake // 11 1/2 // 222 1/2
To Kanadesago or the Seneca castle // 3 1/2 // 226
To Kanandaque // 15 1/2 // 241 1/2
To Adjusta // 12 1/2 // 267 1/2
To Cossauwauloughby // 7 // 274 1/2
To Chenesee castle // 5 1/2 // 280
" Distance from Kanadesago round the Cayuga lake to Newtown-Fort Reed.
OF PLACES. // Miles. // Total.
From Kanadesago to Scawyace // 8 1/2 // 8 1/2
To across the outlet of the Cayuga // 8 1/2 // 17
To the Cayauga castle // 10 // 27
To Chonodote, a town remarkable for a number of peach trees // 3 1/2 // 30 1/2
To (a town on the map but not named) // 5 // 58 1/2
To the upper end of Cayuga lake // 23 // 53 1/2
And from thence to Newtown, otherwise Fort Reed // 27 1/2 // 86
Brant Invades Orange County.-One of the latest enterprises of the enemy on the frontier of New York in the summer of 1779, ere they hurried back to western New York to defend their own castles, was made by Brant on the night of July 19, 1779 ; when, with 87 Indians and tories he destroyed the settlement of Minisink. Ten houses were burned and with them a stockade and two mills. Several citizens were killed and others were made prisoners. The invaders killed or drove away many cattle and horses, with all the plunder they could carry. Brant had kept much of his force at Grassy Brook, to which place he returned with all possible dispatch. The citizens of Goshen-famed in later times for its butter making-turned out 150 men under Col. Benjamin Tusten, to pursue them. Many Tories who had gone to Canada from that vicinity were with the foemen to pilot them hither. Col. Tusten was opposed to pursuit without more troops, but was overruled by a majority of the men assembled, who were encouraged to boldness by Maj. Meeker, who exclaimed: "Let the brave men follow me!" Wiser counsels were set at naught, and the little army advanced in the enemy's pursuit. At the end of 17 miles they were joined by a small reinforcement of Warwick militia under Col. Hathorn ; but as senior officer, Col. Tusten retained the command. The Colonels with the prudent, were opposed to advancing further, as the Indian camp fires gave evidence that the pursued greatly outnumbered the pursuers. The voice of prudence was again stifled and the resolution to go forward prevailed. Capt. Tyler, a woodsman, was sent forward with a scout to ascertain the movements of the enemy, but at the end of a short distance he fell before a concealed foe. This circumstance caused some alarm, but the volunteers pressed forward in sight of Delaware river, and upon its hanks less than a mile distant, the Indians were seen marching toward a fording place.
The intention of Brant was to cross the river here, for which purpose his booty had already safely passed over. The Americans thought to intercept the enemy at the ford, and Col. Hathorn moved, forward with the troops for that purpose, but anticipating his motive, when intervening hills concealed his movement, Brant by an adroit maneuver crossed the track of the Americans, gained their rear and selected a favorable position for a battle with an ambuscade. The first shot now fired was at an Indian mounted upon a horse stolen at Minisink ; and as the Indian fell the battle followed. The conflict was an obstinate one, the Goshen militia being hemmed in by several times their own number. The conflict lasted from 11 A. M., until near sunset, when the Americans got out of ammunition, and attempted a retreat. Much of the fighting had been done under the cover of trees and rocks, but in their retreat many of the volunteers were overtaken and slain. Col. Tusten was a physician and surgeon, and when the retreat began, he was behind a cliff of rocks dressing the wounded. He had 17 patients under treatment, whose cries for mercy were disregarded ; for the enemy had soon tomahawked them all, and Col. Tusten's scalp went to Canada with the rest. The loss of the enemy is not known. Almon's Remembrancer stated that out of 149, only 30 returned. Drake's Biog. Dictionary speaking of Col. Tusten's death, says he was killed with 44 of his men. Besides Col. Tutsen, 17 other officers are said to have been killed.- Stone's Brant.
Brave Defence of a Cherry Valley Dwelling.-After the cessation of hostilities, Gen. Washington, with Gov. Clinton and several others, visited Cherry Valley ; when Gov. Clinton enquired for Robert Shankland, a plucky Irishman, who had married a relative of his. He was sent for, and being called on to do so, he entertained the distinguished guests by relating the following event : When Cherry Valley was destroyed, his dwelling was on the outskirts of the settlement, two miles northeast of the fort, where Elijah Bush now lives, and although his family escaped that morning to the Mohawk, the house remained unburned. The following summer (1779), he returned to his home with his son Thomas, a lad 14 years of age, to cultivate some of his lands. Here is the story as related in the Annals of Tryon County.
" They (father and son) were awakened one morning before daylight, by a violent pounding at the door, with a demand for admittance, made in broken English. He arose, and taking down his guns, directed his son to load them as fast as they should be discharged by him. Upon listening, he ascertained that the demand was made by Indians, who were endeavoring to hew down the door with their tomahawks. With a spear in his hand, he carefully unbarred his door and charged upon them. Surprised by this sudden and unexpected attack, they fell back. One of the Indians, whom he pursued, fell over a log which lay near the door and into which he struck his spear. He drew it back suddenly and the blade remained in the wood. Seizing the blade, he wrested it from the log and retreated into the house. Not a gun was fired nor a tomahawk thrown at him in this sortie.
" The Indians now commenced firing through the door and into the windows, which was returned by Mr. S., though with no effect on the part of the Indians, and with little on his. One or two of the assailants were slightly wounded. His son became frightened, made his escape from a window and ran toward the woods. He was discovered-pursued and taken. When Mr. S. learned from their shouts that this was the case, he determined to sally out again and sell his life as dearly as possible. But upon reflection, fearing it might endanger the life of his son, whom they might otherwise save alive, he concluded to remain and defend his house to the last. The Indians, who were few in number, finding themselves unable to effect an entrance into the house, hit upon another method of attack. They gathered combustible materials, and placing them at a side of the house, where there were no windows, they set fire to them In a few minutes the whole side of the house was enveloped in flames. There was but one way of escape. He had sown a field of hemp, which came up to the house on one side, and luckily the side in which was the cellar door. The prospect of a successful defense being now over, he went into the cellar, and having gained the woods through the hemp (armed with two guns as -we suppose), made his way to the Mohawk valley in safety. The Indians waited until the house burned down, supposing its owner to have been burned in it, and then raising a shout of victory, they departed taking their prisoner with them into the western part of the State." As may be supposed, the narrator had the fixed attention of his audience, as I have had of the reader.
A Corn Husking.-The Revolutionary soldier sometimes saw a happy hour, as the following story will show. In the fall of 1779, there was a corn husking at the residence of John Eikler, in Philadelphia bush. His house was some six miles eastward from Johnstown, and where John Frank formerly kept a tavern. Capt. John Littel permitted ten or a dozen young men of his company to go from the Johnstown fort to the husking, of which number was my informant, Jacob Shew. They went on foot from the fort to Eikler's. A lot of buxom maidens corresponding in number of the buskers, were already assembled from the scattered settlement on their arrival. As the night was a rainy one, the corn was taken into the house to husk.
In the protracted struggle for political freedom, many a lovely girl had to toil in the field to raise sustenance for herself and feebler friends, when the strong arms on which they had before leaned were wielding the sword or musket far away. Consequently, the young ladies present neither deemed it disgraceful or unbecoming their sex, to take an efficient part in the exercise which had convened them. As the husking progressed, not a few red ears were found, imposing a penalty on the finder, and lucky indeed was the son of Mars who canceled such forfeit, as he was brought in contact with the cherry lips of a blushing lass, who, although she may have said aloud the young rebel aught to be ashamed, secretly blessed the inventor of huskings-especially one of them.
part of the corn was risked and hung up under the roof of a linter, which,
to add variety to the entertainment, broke down under its accumulated weight,
and came near entrapping one of the guests. After the corn was all husked
and the eatables and drinkables-pumpkin pies and cider-were disposed of, the
party had glorious times. But why specify at this late day, the details of
ancient sayings and doings. Suffice it to add, the rain came down in torrents,
so as to prevent the guests from returning home ; and after the midnight hilarity
had stolen out through the crannies of the log dwelling, the guests- but how
dispose of so many without beds ? The husks were leveled down, and all took
a soldier's lodge upon them ; for the girls-heaven bless their memory ! were
the artless and true maidens of the times. The arrangement of the sleepers
among the husks-but let me not tread on any one's corns-the party dispersed
at daylight, and most surely-
" All's well that ends well"-every time.
A Deserter Shot at Fort Paris.-About the 10th of November, as reported to Gen. Ten Broek, then commanding at Albany, Col. Visscher mentions the burning of a dwelling in the back part of Mayfield The owner, Harmanus Flanke, suspected of disaffection to the American cause, was then living in Johnstown. The house was supposed to have been destroyed by some one from the block-house at Sacandaga. The roof of another house, the owner of which was of similar politics, was torn off, such was the spirit of party animosity.
In a letter to Maj. Taylor, then commanding the Johnstown "Fort, dated "November 27th, Col. Visscher states that he is under the necessity of convening a court martial on the following day, and that he, the Major, should attend, bringing with him another officer, also to act as a member. The same letter states that an accident happened at the fort the same morning, by which two men were wounded-one mortally. The nature of the accident is perhaps explained m a letter from Col. Visscher to Gen. Ten Broek, dated the 28th instant. In it he states, that during his absence to visit Fort Plank, a detachment of men from Col. Stephen J. Schuyler's regiment mutinied, and expressing a determination to leave the fort, charged their pieces with ball, in presence of the officers. They were at first persuaded to unsling their packs and remain until Col. Visscher returned, but seeing Captain Jelles Fonda, (known afterwards as Major Fonda) then in temporary command of the garrison, writing to Col. V., the mutineers again mounted packs, and knocking down the sentinels in their way, began to desert in earnest. Capt. Fonda ordered them to stand, but not heeding his command they continued their flight, when he ordered the troops of the fort to tire upon them. The order was obeyed, and Jacob Valentine, one of the number, fell mortally wounded, and expired the next morning. The letter does not so state, but I have been advised that the deserters considered their term of enlistment at an end. The court martial, I suppose, convened to try Capt. Fonda, as I have been credibly informed that he was thus tried for a similar offense, and honorably acquitted.
Early in December, as the season was so far advanced that an enemy was unlooked for, and provisions were becoming scarce, it was resolved, at a meeting of Colonels Visscher, J. Klock, and Lieut.-Col. P. Wagner,with the sanction of Gen. Ten Broek, to dismiss the three months militia from further service ; and some of the garrisons were for a time broken up.
State Tax for New York was levied by the Legislature October, 23, 1779,
for two millions five hundred thousand dollars ; of which sum the quota
for Tryon county was fixed at $81,766. By a warrant from the supervisors of
the county, to the assessors of its several districts, dated November 29,
following the passage of the act, directing them properly to apportion to
each taxpayer his just proportion the sum therein assessed, I find the quota
for Canajoharie district (now before me) was $16,728-as they said-"being
an equitable and due proportion of the county quota." The papers were
directed under the hand and seal of the supervisors, to the assessors of the
several districts, who were to make their " assessments on the inhabitants
within the district according to the estates, circumstances and abilities
of each respective person to pay taxes collectively considered " ; who
were to execute their task by the sixth day of December. Signed,
CHRIS. P. YATES,
Giving a more explicit account of the application of the Legislative act, the warrant was accompanied by another paper under the hand and seal of the same four supervisors, directed to the assessors of Canajoharie. After stating that the supervisors had settled, at their meeting at the date first mentioned, the amount to be raised in the county had been divided and settled (meaning in the districts), they say : "In addition to the directions contained in the warrant, it may not be amiss to inform you that by law none are exempted from taxation, but such as are in the army, and those who by reason of the invasions of the enemy have removed from their places of abode--observe, that the latter, such as are in a way of acquiring property may also be taxed."
" It is the intention of the law, that all single persons and others who do business for themselves, should bear a reasonable proportion of the public burthen, be they who they may, or come from any place no matter where-you will therefore be particularly careful to omit none such."
"It is observable also, and must be attended to, that in dividing the quota, you are to tax not only the real and perdonsl estate of each respective person, but consider also the circumstances and abilities of every one." This paper bore the same date as its fellow and was directed : "To the assessors of Canajoharie." It would be a satisfaction to know who the assessors were at this period, in Canajoharie, as also who they were in the other districts, who had to execute so important and responsible a trust. As those papers were preserved in the Seeber family, it is reasonable to conclude, that William Seeber, Jr., or the second William Seeber in the district; was one of the Canajoharie assessors. The papers were evidently drawn up by Christopher P. Yates ; who is believed to have been the best scholar in the Mohawk valley. He, with Maj. John Frey, also a good scholar, and possibly Maj. Jelles Fonda, Maj. John Eisenlord, Isaac Paris and several other prominent men of that period ; I suppose may have had the benefit of Rev. Samuel Dunlap's grammar school at Cherry Valley.
With the tax papers already mentioned, a third one is preserved bearing date April 6, 1780, also directed to the assessors of Canajoharie district. This was a warrant to carry into execution another act of the State Legislature, for raising in the State of New York, the sum of five millions of dollars, the quota assigned to Tryon county being fixed at $120,000. The quota of the Canajoharie district being $28,000. This sum was to be raised on similar conditions to those named in the assessment of the fall before, and was required completed before the 17th day of April, and placed in the hands of the supervisors of that district for his inspection. The name of Mr. Fonda was not attached to this warrant, which was signed by the following as supervisors : Chris. P. Yates, John Pickerd, Henrich Staring and Augustinus Hess.
Here then was levied upon this sparsedly peopled and wide spread frontier county in some four months, a tax of $201,766 ; and of that sum assessed to Canajoharie district, was $44,728. Many of the settlers were but just beginning to live comfortably when the war began ; while much of the territory had, like Cherry Valley and its adjoining settlements, already been crushed by the iron heel of war. How much of this large tax was ever paid, we cannot say, but only a few months after the second levy, the county-more especially the district of Canajoharie, was swept over with the tomahawk and fire-brand, by Brant with his Indian followers, and Butler's rangers disguised as Indians-until mourning and desolation came with the wolf of poverty to hundreds of hearth stones. Who can now realize the sad picture presented in the Mohawk valley in the years 1780 and 1781 ? and who now, of their abundance in this glorious heritage, should begrudge their mite to perpetuate the name and fame of the self-sacrificing heroes, whose blood and treasure transmitted to them this golden patrimony ? God grant that the dedicatees of this work may ever guard with a jealous eye, the civil and religious privileges bequeathed to them by a simple, brave, honest, virtuous and noble ancestry-whose footsteps often led through fire and human gore.
The early and energetic measures adopted in 1779, against the enemy, prevented the sallies of the latter upon most of the frontiers of New York, and that year was one in which the pioneers suffered comparatively but little, from the tomahawk and scalping knife.
Naples and Spain Favor our Struggle for freedom.-At this period of the contest the States were beginning to gain favor in Europe. Early in 1779, the. King of Naples opened his ports to the striped bunting of the United States ; and in the course of the season Spain declared war against England. John Jay was appointed by Congress, of which he was then a member, a minister to the court of Spain.
Closing Events of 1779.-Although no great enterprises were achieved to the United States during this season, if we except the destruction of the Indian possessions in western New York ; still many events occurred in the length and breadth of the land, to raise and depress the hopes of the Americans. The south became the theatre of some of the most important events. An attempt was made by the American troops under Gen. Lincoln, and the French under the Count d'Estaing, to take Savannah ; and notwithstanding the allied forces displayed great bravery, they were repulsed with a loss of 1,000 men. Several good officers were killed by this unfortunate attack, among whom was the noble and generous Pole, Count Pulaski, then a Brigadier-General.
Although several brilliant exploits were performed at the south by the American troops, still the year closed without any event transpiring to greatly accelerate the close of the contest. In the course of the season, Gen. Tryon and Gen. Garth wantonly destroyed much property along the coast of Connecticut. After sacking New Haven, they laid Fail-field and Norwalk in ashes, committing numerous outrages upon the helpless citizens. As the militia turned out promptly on those occasions, the British sought safety on shipboard. While the enemy were thus engaged in Connecticut, Gen. Wayne most gallantly stormed the fortress of Stony Point in the Highlands of the Hudson.
It was also in the autumn of this season that Com. John Paul Jones, a meritorious and distinguished naval officer in the American service, alarmed several towns in Scotland, and in an engagement off that coast, took the British frigate Serapis, after one of the most bloody battles ever fought upon the ocean. Both ships were repeatedly on fire, and when the enemy struck his colors, the wounded could scarcely be removed to the conquered vessel, which was also much crippled, before the Bon Homme Richard, Jones's ship, went down.
In the fall of 1779, several stockades in the vicinity of the Mohawk river were under the command of Col. Visscher, as appears by a journal of that officer's military correspondence, placed in the hands of the author by his son, Maj. Daniel Visscher. Col. Visscher established his headquarters at Fort Paris. The following facts are gleaned from the memoranda. His first patrol for the several garrisons was " Washington," and countersign " Sullivan." Subject to his direction were the troops stationed at the Johnstown Fort, Fort Plank, and the block-houses at Sacandaga, and Reme Snyder's bush. The last named was a little distance northeast of Little Falls.
At the close of the season, part of the northern army went into winter quarters under Gen. Washington a second time at Morristown, New Jersey, and the remainder in the vicinity of West Point. Owing to the almost valueless currency of the country, which would not buy provisions, a want of proper management in the commissary department, a lack of suitable clothing, and the extreme severity of the winter, the American troops suffered incredible hardships. But this suffering was endured, for their beloved commander suffered with them, and the object for which the soldier had taken up arms, had not yet been accomplished.
Copyright © 1998, -- 2003. Berry Enterprises. All rights reserved. All items on the site are copyrighted. While we welcome you to use the information provided on this web site by copying it, or downloading it; this information is copyrighted and not to be reproduced for distribution, sale, or profit.