Page images
PDF
EPUB

Capture of Hare and Newberry. Information from General Schuyler. Mr. Deane. Damming of Otsego Lake. Its Effects.

miles. It was an arduous duty, for his boats numbered two hundred and twenty, and he had provisions sufficient for three months. He reached Springfield, with all his luggage, on the 30th. On his way he captured Hare and Newberry, two notorious spies, the former a lieutenant in the British service, and the latter the miscreant whom we have already noticed as the murderer of Mr. Mitchell's wounded child at Cherry Valley. They were tried, and hanged “pursuant to the sentence of the court, and to the entire satisfaction of the inhabitants of the county.” Clinton, with his division, proceeded to the foot of Otsego Lake, and there awaited July 1. orders from Sullivan. A day or two after his arrival, General Schuyler communica- 1779. ted to him the important information that the purpose of the expedition was known to the enemy, and that four hundred and fifty regular troops, one hundred Tories, and thirty Indians had been sent from Montreal to re-enforce the tribes against whom it was destined. This information General Schuyler received from a spy whom he had sent into Canada. The spy had also informed him that they were to be joined by one half of Sir John Johnson's regiment and a portion of the garrison at Niagara. On the 5th, Mr. Deane,” the Indian interpreter, arrived with thirty-five Oneida warriors, who came to explain the absence of their tribe, whom Clinton, by direction of Sullivan, had solicited to join him.” They confirmed the intelligence sent by Schuyler, and added that a party of Cayugas and Tories, three hundred in number, were then upon the war-path, and intended to hang upon the outskirts of Clinton's army on its march to Tioga. Clinton remained at the south end of Otsego Lake, awaiting the tardy movements of Sullivan, until the first week in August. His troops became impatient, yet he was not idle. He performed a feat which exhibited much ingenuity and forecast. He discovered that, in consequence of a long drought, the outlet of the lake was too inconsiderable to allow his boats to pass down upon its waters. He therefore raised a dam across it at the foot of the lake, by which the waters would be so accumulated that, when it should be removed, the bed of the outlet would be filled to the brim, and bear his boats upon the flood. The work was soon accomplished, and, in addition to the advantages which it promised to the expedition, the damming of the lake caused great destruction of grain upon its borders, for its banks were overflowed, and vast corn-fields belonging to the Indians were deluged and destroyed. The event also greatly alarmed the savages... It was a very dry season, and they regarded the sudden rising of the lake, without any apparent cause, as an evidence that the Great Spirit was displeased with them. And when Clinton moved down, the stream with his large flotilla upon its swollen flood, the Indians along its banks were amazed, and retreated into the depths of the forest. Sullivan and Clinton formed a junction at Tioga on the 22d of August, the entire force amounting to five thousand men, consisting of the brigades of Generals Clinton,

December 22d, 1812, aged 75 years. He was the father of De Witt Clinton, the eminent Governor of New York in 1826–7. 'So said General Clinton in a letter to General Schuyler. The latter remarked, in reply, “In executing Hare you have rid the state of the greatest villain in it. . I hope his abettors in the country will meet with a similar exaltation.” *James Deane was the first settler in the town of Westmoreland, Oneida county. He was the son of pious New England parents, and at the age of eleven years was sent among the Indians upon the Susquehanna to learn their language, for the purpose of becoming a missionary among them. He was afterward a student in Dartmouth College. On the breaking out of the war, he was appointed Indian agent, with the rank of major in the army, and during the contest he was most of the time among the Oneidas. At the close of hostilities the Oneidas granted him a tract of land two miles square, near Rome, in Oneida county, which he afterward exchanged for a tract in Westmoreland, where he removed in 1786, and resided until his death in 1832. * General Clinton was averse to the employment of the Oneidas or any other Indians; but such being the orders of his superior, he engaged Mr. Deane to negotiate with them. The Oneidas, to a man, volunteered to accompany the expedition, and the few Onondagas who still adhered to the Americans were also ready to join Clinton. But on the 23d the Oneidas received an address at Fort Schuyler, from General Haldimand, written in the Iroquois language; and so alarming were the menaces it contained, that they *nddenly changed their minds, and determined to stay at home and defend their own castles and dwellings. s

March of Sullivan's Expedition. Fortifications of the Enemy. General Edward Hand. The Battle.

Hand, Maxwell, and Poor, together with Proctor's artillery and a corps of riflemen. The movement of the expedition had been so slow that the enemy was prepared to receive them. Near Conewawah' (Newtown in the histories of the battle), a considerable Indian village at the junction of the Newtown Creek with the Chemung River, they had thrown up breastworks half a mile in length, where they had determined to make a bold stand against the invaders. The Americans moved cautiously up the Tioga and Chemung, having large flanking parties on either side, and a strong advanced and rear guard, for they were told that detachments of the enemy were hov- | ering around, ready to strike when an opportunity should of. fer. On their march they destroyed a small Indian settleAugust 29, ment, and the next day Major Parr, of the advanced 1779. guard, discovered the enemy's works. These were about a mile in advance of Conewawah, and were so covered ar. by a bend in the river, that only the front and one flank were exposed to, the fire of the assailants. That flank rested upon s b a steep hill or ridge running nearly parallel with the river. Further to the left was another ridge, running in the same | |

direction, and passing in the rear of the American army. Detachments of the enemy were stationed on both hills, having a line of communication; and they were so disposed that they might fall upon the assailants, flank and rear, as soon as the action should commence. The Tories and Indians were further protected by the pine-trees and shrub oaks that covered the ground. Hoping that the Americans might not discover their concealed fortification, they had arranged it in such a relative position to the road along which the invaders must pass, that the whole flank of the army would be exposed to an enfilading fire. Happily for the Americans, their preparations were discovered in time. General Hand" formed the light infantry about four hundred yards from the breast-works, and, while thus waiting for the main body to come up, was several times attacked by small parties of Indians, who sallied out, raised the war-whoop, and then retreated within the works. The hill upon the right swarmed with savages, and Sullivan ordered Poor to sweep it with his brigade. He immediately commenced the ascent, and the action became warm. His progress was bravely disputed for two hours, when the enemy slowly gave way. They darted from tree to tree as they yielded inch by inch; and from behind rocks, and bushes, and trees they galled the Americans terribly with a scattering fire. Brant was at the head of the savages, and Sir John Johnson, aided by the Butlers and Captain M.Donald, one of

rear.guara’

ORDER of MARCH.2

* Conewawah was upon the site of the present village of Elmira. The name is an Iroquois word, signifying a head on a pole. It was beautifully situated in the midst of a fertile valley, and, at the time of the invasion, was surrounded by fruitful orchards and broad fields of flowering corn. The place became a white settlement, and was incorporated by the name of Newtown in 1815, which was changed to Elmira in 1825. There are no vestiges to be seen here of the battle of Chemung, as the engagement that took place there is sometimes called. The spot where Sullivan landed is a few rods below the “Sullivan Mill,” which stands upon the Conewawah or Newtown Creek, near its junction with the Chemung. The works thrown up by Sullivan, and destroyed when he returned from the Genesee country, were a little south of the mill.

* Explanation of THE PLAN.—The advanced guard, composed of light infantry, one mile in advance. a a, flanking corps. bb, the main body. Clinton's and Hand's brigades were on the right, and Poor's and Maxwell's were on the left. c. Proctor's artillery and the pack horses. The rifle corps composed a portion of the strong rear-guard.

* General Edward Hand was a native of Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, and was an exceedingly valuable officer. His amiable disposition and urbanity of manner endeared him to his men, and he maintained, throughout the war, the unlimited confidence and respect of his superior officers. After the war he was much engaged in civil offices of trust, and his name is attached to the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1790. So highly did Washington esteem him, that when, during Adams's administration, he consented to take the chief command of the American army to be raised to resist the threatened and actual aggressions of France, he desired the appointment of General Hand as adjutant general.

[graphic]

The Effect of the Artillery. Retreat of the Enemy. Destruction of Catharinestown and other Villages and Plantations.

the Scotch refugees from Johnstown, commanded the Tories. It is believed that Guy Johnson was also in the battle, but this is not certainly known. They fought skillfully and courageously, and, but for the artillery that was brought into play as speedily as possible, the victory would doubtless have been on their side. The cannonade produced a great panic among the Indians, yet their leader, who was seen at all points, and in the hottest of the fight, kept them long from retreating. Poor at length gained the summit of the ridge, outflanked the enemy, and decided the fortunes of the day. Brant, perceiving that all was lost, raised the loud, retreating cry, Oonah! Oonah! and savages and Tories, in great confusion, abandoned their works and fled across the river, pursued by the victors. Thus ended the battle of Chemung. The force of the enemy was estimated by Sullivan at fifteen hundred, including five companies of British troops and Rangers. The Americans numbered between four and five thousand, a considerable portion of whom were not brought into action at all. Considering the length of time occupied in the battle, and the numbers engaged, the loss was very inconsiderable. Only five or six of the Americans were killed, and about fifty wounded. The loss of the enemy was much greater. In their flight eight Indians were slain and scalped by their pursuers. Ay, scalped! for the Americans had been apt scholars in learning the Indian art of war that had been so terribly taught them in Tryon county for three years. Sullivan's army rested upon the battle-ground that night, and the next morning pushed onward toward Catharinestown, an Indian settlement northwest from Conewawah, and about three miles from the head of Seneca Lake. The march was difficult and dangerous. The route lay through narrow defiles and a deep valley traversed by a stream so sinuous that they had to ford it several times, the water often waist high. At night they bivouacked in a dark and tangled cedar swamp, without blankets or food, and in continual fear of an enemy in ambush." The whole army reached Catharinestown in safety, and encamped before it on the 2d of September. The people fled, and the next day the village and surrounding corn-fields and orchards were destroyed. The flying campaign, charged with destruction, had now fairly begun. “The Indians shall see,” said Sullivan, “that there is malice enough in our hearts to destroy every thing that contributes to their support,” and cruelly was that menace executed. The Indians fled before him like frightened deer to cover, and the wail of desolation was heard throughout their pleasant land, from the Susquehanna to the Genesee. Village after village was laid waste, and fields and orchards were desolated. Kendaia was swept from existence;a other and smaller villages were annihilated; and on the 7th of September the conquerors sat down before Kanadaseagea, the capital of the Senecas, near the head of the beautiful lake of that name. Sixty well-built houses, surrounded by fine orchards of apple, peach, and pear trees, became a prey to the army. Not a roof was left to shelter the sorrowing inhabitants on their return—not a fruit-tree to shade them or to give them sustenance—not an ear of corn of all the abundance that lay before the invaders when they approached, was saved from the devouring flames. While the chief portion of the army was engaged in this work, detachments went out and wrought equal devastation elsewhere. Four hundred men went down the west side of the lake and destroyed Gotheseunquean, or Gaghsiungua, and the plantations around it, and another party, under Colonel Harper, marched to Schoyere, near Cayuga Lake, and utterly destroyed it and its fields of grain. Taking breath at Kanadaseagea, the invaders marched on to Kanandaigua, at the head of the little lake of that name, and in a few hours after their arrival the “twentythree very elegant houses, mostly framed, and, in general, large,” with the extensive fields of corn and beans, and orchards of heavily-laden fruit-trees, were destroyed.

August 31.

a September 6, 1779.

September 10.

* The enemy might have rallied upon the hills along this perilous route, and greatly thinned, if not quite destroyed or captured, the invading army. But, as Brant afterward said, they did not believe that Sullivan would commence a march so soon over so bad a route; and the Indians were so terrified by the cannons, and disheartened by the result of the battle, that they could not be readily induced to attempt another.

* See General Sullivan's official account of this expedition.

Approach to Genesee. Council of the Indian Villages. A Battle. Capture and Torture of Lieutenant Boyd

Honeoye, or Anyeaya, a village lying in the path of the invading army in its march toward the Valley of the Genesee, was next swept away, and Sullivan prepared to desolate the broad valley in whose bosom nestled the great capital of the Western tribes, and the most import. ant of all the Indian settlements. Thus far the enemy had fled in terror before the invading army, and the villages of the Indians were destroyed without an effort being made to defend them. - The beautiful Valley of the Genesee, the earthly paradise of the Six Nations, was now menaced. A council of the villages of the plain was held, and they resolved to turn and strike another blow in defense of their homes. Their women and children were removed to the deep shelter of the forest, and the warriors prepared for battle upon a plain between Honeyoe and the head of Connissius Lake, now known as Henderson's Flats. There they waited in ambush the approach of Sullivan's army, and rose upon the advanced guard with the desperation of wounded panthers. The battle was short, the savages were routed, and all that they had gained was the capture of two Oneida chiefs." On the 12th, Kanaghsaws and its plantations were laid in ashes. Here the progress of the army was temporarily checked by a deep stream, which it was necessary to bridge in order to pass over with the baggage and stores. Before them lay the village of Little Beard's Town, and, while the army was delayed in constructing a bridge, Lieutenant Boyd, of the rifle corps, with a detachment of twenty-six men, went to reconnoiter the town. He found it deserted, except by two Indians, whom he killed and scalped. Returning, his route lay near the party who had captured the two Oneidas. One of them, as we have seen, was killed, the other was spared for torture. He broke loose from his captors, and fled in the direction of Sullivan's camp. Many Indians started in pursuit, and these were joined by Brant and a large body of warriors, who had lain in ambush to cut off Boyd on his return. september 13, The pursuing Indians came upon Boyd and his party. Surrounded by over. 1779. whelming numbers, he saw no way to escape but by cutting his way through the fierce circle. Three times he made the attempt; almost all his men were killed, and himself and a soldier named Parker were made prisoners and carried in triumph to Little Beard's Town.” Brant treated them humanely, but, having business elsewhere, the chief left them in the custody of Colonel John Butler, who, with his Rangers, was there. The unfeeling Tory handed them over to the tender mercies of the Indians. By them Boyd was tortured in the most cruel manner, and then beheaded. Parker was beheaded without being tortured. Among the few who escaped was Timothy Murphy, the slayer of Fraser at Bemis's Heights. The Americans found the bodies of the two victims at Little Beard's Town, and buried them upon the bank of Little Beard's Creek, under a clump of wild plum-trees on the road now running from Moscow to Genesee. The Tories and Indians now held another council, and it was concluded that further attempts to oppose such an army as Sullivan's was futile. They therefore resolved to leave their beautiful country; and their women and children were hurried off toward Niagara,

* One of these was General Sullivan's guide, and had rendered the Americans very important services. He had an elder brother engaged with the enemy, and here they met for the first time since their separation at the Oneida Castle. Fierce was the anger of the elder chief when he recognized his brother in the prisoner. Approaching him with violent gestures, he said, “Brother 1 you have merited death ! The hatchet or the war-club shall finish your career 1" He then reproached him for aiding the rebellion, for driving the Indians from their fields, and for butchering their children. “No crime can be greater,” he said. “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?” Instantly a hatchet gleamed in the hand of Little Beard, the sachem of a village nearby,” and the next moment the young Oneida was dead at the feet of his brother. —See Campbell's Annals,

* Han Yerry, an Oneida sachem, was with Lieutenant Boyd, serving him as guide. He fought with signal courage. The Indians knew him, and, several springing upon him, he was literally hacked in pieces by their hatchets. Han Yerry lived at Oriskany at the time of the battle there, and joined the Americans. He was a powerful man, and did great execution. For this the Indians defeated in that battle entertained toward him feelings of the most implacable hatred.

* Little Beard's Town, now Leicester, in Livingston county.

Destruction of Genesee and the surrounding Country. Picture of the Desolation. Name given to Washington. Corn Planter.

while the warriors hovered around the conquering army, to watch its movements and strike a blow is opportunity should occur. Sullivan proceeded to the Genesee Valley. Gathtsegwarohare and Little Beard's Town were destroyed, and on the 14th he crossed the river, and the army encamped september. around Genesee, the Indian capital. Here every thing indicated the presence of 1779. civilization. There was not a wilderness feature in the scene. The rich intervales presented the appearance of cultivation for many generations," and the farms, and orchards, and gardens bespoke a degree of comfort and refinement that would be creditable to any civilized community. But a terrible doom hung over the smiling country. The Genesee Castle was destroyed, and the capital was laid in ashes. “The town” (Genesee), said Sullivan, in his dispatch to Washington, “contained one hundred and twenty-eight houses, mostly large and very elegant. It was beautifully situated, almost encircled with a clear flat, extending a number of miles, over which extensive fields of corn were waving, together with every kind of vegetable that could be conceived.” Yet the contemplation of this scene could not stay the destroyer's hand; and over the whole valley and the surrounding country the troops swept with the besom of desolation. Forty Indian towns were burned; one hundred and sixty thousand bushels of corn in the fields and in granaries were destroyed; a vast number of the finest fruit-trees,” the product of years of tardy growth, were cut down; hundreds of gardens covered with edible vegetables were desolated; the inhabitants were driven into the forests to starve, and were hunted like wild beasts; their altars were overturned, and their graves trampled upon by strangers; and a beautiful, well-watered country, teeming with a prosperous people, and just rising from a wilderness state, by the aid of cultivation, to a level with the productive regions of civilization, was desolated and cast back a century within the space of a fortnight.” To us, looking upon the scene from a point so remote, it is difficult to perceive the necessity that called for a chastisement so cruel and terrible. But that such necessity seemed to exist we should not doubt, for it was the judicious and benevolent mind of Washington that conceived and planned the campaign, and ordered its rigid execution in the manner in which it was accomplished. It awed the Indians for the moment, but did not crush them. In the reaction they had greater strength. It kindled the fires of deep hatred, which spread far among the tribes upon the lakes and in the valley of the Ohio. Washington, like Demetrius, the son of Antigonus, received from the savages the name of An-na-ta-kau-les, which signifies a taker of towns, or Town DESTRoyER."

* The race of Indians that then inhabited the Valley of the Genesee had no knowledge of the earlier cultivators of the soil. They asserted, according to Mary Jemison, that another race, of which they had no knowledge, had cultivated the land long before their ancestors came into the valley; and she saw the disentombment of skeletons much larger than those of the race she was among. * Many of the orchards were uncommonly large. One that was destroyed by the axe contained fifteen hundred trees. * Stone says (Life of Brant, ii., 25), “It is apprehended that few of the present generation are thoroughly aware of the advances which the Indians, in the wide and beautiful country of the Cayugas and Senecas, had made in the march of civilization. They had several towns and many large villages, laid out with a considerable degree of regularity. They had framed houses, some of them well finished, having chimneys, and painted. They had broad and productive fields; and, in addition to an abundance of apples, were the enjoyment of the pear and the more luscious peach.” "At a council held in Philadelphia in 1792, Corn Planter, the distinguished Seneca chief, thus addressed the President: “Father—The voice of the Seneca nation speaks to you, the great counselor, in whose heart the wise men of all the thirteen fires have placed their wisdom. It may be very small in your ears, and, therefore, we entreat you to hearken with attention, for we are about to speak to you of things which to us are very great. When your army entered the country of the Six Nations, we called you The Town Destroyer; and to this day, when that name is heard, our women look behind them and turn pale, and our children cling close to the necks of their mothers. Our counselors and warriors are men, and can not be afraid; but their hearts are grieved with the fears of our women and children, and desire that it may be buried so deep that it may be heard no more.” Corn Planter was one of the earliest lecturers upon temperance in this country. While speaking upon this subject in 1822, he said, “The Great Spirit first made the world, next the flying animals, and formed all things good and prosperous. He is immortal and everlasting. After finishing the flying animals, he came down to earth and there stood. Then he made different kinds of trees, and woods of all sorts, and

« PreviousContinue »