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Approach of Indians and Tories. Preparations for Defense. Council of War. Position of the Wyoming Forts.
near the mouth of Bowman's Creek, on the west side of the river, about twenty miles above Wyoming. They entered the valley through a notch from the west, not far from the famous Dial Rock, and attacked the people near Fort Jenkins, three of whom were killed.” Butler then made his head-quarters at Wintermoot's Fort, whence he sent out scouts and July a foraging parties. 1778. Virtually abandoned by Congress, the people had made all the preparations in their power to meet the invaders, of whose approach they had been informed. A company of forty or fifty regulars (so called only because the raising of the company was authorized by Congress), and a few militia, under the general command of Captain Hewett, then recruiting in the valley, composed the military force to oppose the enemy. Grandfathers and their aged sons, boys, and even women, seized such weapons as were at hand. Colonel Zebulon Butler, then an officer in the Continental army, happening to be at home when the enemy entered the valley, was, by common consent, made commander-in-chief. Forty Fort was made the place of general military rendezvous, and thither the women and children of the valley fled for safety. Aged men garrisoned some of the smaller forts. There were fearful odds, and no alternative was left but to fight or submit to the tender mercies of the Indians and the more savage Tories. “Retirement or flight was alike impossible, and there was no security but in victory. Unequal as was the conflict, therefore, and hopeless as it seemed in the eye of prudence, the young and athletic men fit to bear arms, and enlisted for their special defense, being absent with the main army, the inhabitants, looking to their dependent wives, mothers, sisters, and little ones, took counsel of their courage, and resolved to give the enemy battle.” On the morning of the 3d of July a council of war was held in Forty Fort, to determine what action was proper. Some, among whom were Colonels Butler and Denison and Lieutenantcolonel Dorrance, were in favor of a delay, hoping that a re-enforcement from General Washington's camp, then near New Brunswick, in New Jersey, might reach them in time, or that Captain Spalding, who was on the march for the valley with his company, might arrive. Others, having little hope of succor, were anxious to meet the enemy at once. While the debates were going on, five commissioned officers from the army arrived at Forty Fort. Hearing of the anticipated in
“Dial Rock, or Campbell's Rock, as it is sometimes called, is a high bluff at the junction of the Susquehanna and Lackawana Rivers. Its name is derived from the circumstance that the rays of the sun first strike its western face at meridian, and the farmers in the valley have always an unerring indicator of noontide on clear days.
* The victims were all scalped. The bodies were interred by their friends, and over the graves of two of the Harding family, who were killed, a stone was raised, many years afterward, on which is the following inscription: “Sweet is the sleep of those who prefer death to slavery.”
*Wyoming Memorial to the Legislature of Connecticut.
* Explanation of THE PLAN.—The several divisions, Hanover, Wilkesbarre, Kingstown, &c., mark the districts into which the town of Westmoreland was divided; in military language, the different beats. A marks the site of Fort Durkee; B, Wyoming or Wilkesbarre Fort; C, Fort Ogden; D, village of Kingston; E, Forty Fort. [This in the early histories of the Revolution is called Kingston Fort.] F, the battleground; G, Wintermoot's Fort; H, Fort Jenkins; I, Monocasy Island; J, the three Pittstown stockades. The dot below the G marks the place of Queen Esther's Rock. The village of Troy is upon the battleground, and that of Wilkesbarre, upon the site of Wilkesbarre Fort and its ravelins. The distances of the several points from the present bridge at Wilkesbarre are as follows: Fort Durkee, half a mile below, on the left bank. Fort Ogden, three and a half miles above, and the Pittstown stockades, about eight miles, on the same side. Forty Fort, three and a half miles; the Monument, on the battle-ground, five and a half; Queen Esther's Rock, six and a half; Wintermoot's Fort and Fort Jenkins, eight miles above, on the west or right bank of the river. Kingston is directly opposite Wilkesbarre, half a mile westward.
Decision of the Wyoming People. Preparations for Battle. Forces of the Enemy. Campbell's Injustice toward Brant
vasion, they had obtained permission to return home to protect their families. Already Fort Jenkins had been captured, four of the garrison slain, and three made prisoners, and the other stockade would doubtless share the same fate. Already a demand for the surrender of Forty Fort and the valley had been made by Colonel John Butler, and the tomahawks of the Indians were lifted above the heads of those families who had not succeeded in reach. ing the fort. Upon prompt action appeared to depend their salvation; and, influenced by the pleadings of the only hope of safety left—victory in battle—the majority decided to march at once against the invaders. The decision was rash, and the minority yielded with much reluctance. About one o'clock in the afternoon the little army, consisting of about three hundred vig. orous men, old men, and boys, divided into six companies and marched from the fort, leaving the women in the most painful anxiety. They were joined by the justices of the court and other civil officers, and marched up the river to Wintermoot's Fort, intending to sur. prise the enemy, but Colonel John Butler was too vigilant to be caught mapping. He had news of their approach, and sent for the party then demolishing Fort Jenkins to join him immediately. When the patriots approached, the enemy was prepared to meet them. Col. onel John Butler and his Rangers occupied the left, which rested upon the river bank near Wintermoots; and the right, extending into a marsh at the foot of the mountains on the western verge of the plain, was composed principally of Indians and Tories, under a cele. brated Seneca chief named Gi-en-gwa-tah, which signifies He who goes in the smoke." John.
* Until the late Mr. Stone made his researches for materials for his interesting biography of Joseph Brant. or Thayendanegea, it was believed that Brant and his Mohawk warriors were engaged in the invasion of Wyoming. Gordon, Ramsay, Thacher, Marshall, and Allen assert that he and John Butler were joint com. manders on that occasion, and upon his memory rested the foul imputation of being a participant in the horrid transactions in Wyoming. Misled by history, Campbell, in his Gertrude of Wyoming, makes the Oneida say
“This is no time to fill the joyous cup;
To whom nor relative nor blood remains—
Brant always denied any participation in the invasion, but the evidence of history was against him, and the verdict of the world was, that he was the chief actor in the tragedy. From this aspersion Mr. Stone vindicated his character in his Life of Brant. A reviewer, understood to be Caleb Cushing, of Massachusetts, disputed the point, and maintained that Stone had not made out a clear case for the sachem. Unwilling to remain deceived, if he was so, Mr. Stone made a journey to the Seneca country, where he found several surviving warriors who were engaged in that campaign. The celebrated Seneca chief Kaoundoowand, better known as Captain Pollard, who was a young chief in the battle, gave Mr. Stone a clear account of the events, and was positive in his declarations that Brant and the Mohawks were not engaged in that campaign. The Indians were principally Senecas, and were led by Gi-en-gwa-tah, as mentioned in the text. John Brant, a son of the Mohawk sachem, while in England in 1823, on a mission in behalf of his nation, opened a correspondence with Mr. Campbell on the subject of the injustice which the latter had done the chief in his Gertrude of Wyoming. The result was a partial acknowledgment of his error by the poet, in the next edition of the poem that was printed. He did not change a word of the poem, but referred to the use of Brant's name there, in a note, in which he says, “His son referred to documents which completely satisfied me that the common accounts of Brant's cruelties at Wyoming, which I had found in books of trawels, and in Adolphus’s and other similar histories of England, were gross errors....... The name of Brant, therefore, remains in my poem a pure and declared character of fiction.” This was well enough as far as it went; but an omission, after such a conviction of error, to blot out the name entirely from the poem, was unworthy of the character of an honest man; and the stain upon the poet's name will remain as long as the libel upon a humane warrior shall endure in the epic.
Disposition of the Belligerents for Battle. Speech of Colonel Zebulon Butler. The Attack. Colonel Zebulon Butler.
son's Greens, under Captain Caldwell,' formed on Butler's right, and Indian marksmen were placed at intervals along the line. Colonel Zebulon Butler commanded the right of the Americans, aided by Major Garratt. The left was commanded by Colonel Denison, of the Wyoming militia, assisted by Lieutenant-colonel Dorrance. The battle-ground was a level plain, partly cleared and cultivated, and partly covered by shrub oaks and yellow pines As the Americans approached the lines of the enemy, they perceived Wintermoot's Fort in flames, fired, no doubt, to prevent its falling into the hands of the patriots, an event that seemed quite probable to the Tory leader, who was ignorant of the exact number of men marching against him. Captains Durkee and Ransom, and Lieutenants Ross and Wells, were sent forward to reconnoiter and select the position for battle. The Wyoming companies approached separately, and as they were wheeled into line, Colonel Zebulon Butler thus addressed them: “Men, yonder is the enemy. The fate of the Hardings tells us what we have to expect if defeated. We come out to fight, not only for liberty, but for life itself, and, what is dearer, to preserve our homes from conflagration, our women and children from the tomahawk. Stand firm the first shock, and the Indians will give way. Every man to his duty.” At the conclusion of Colonel Butler's short address, the Americans opened the battle on the enemy's left. It was about four o'clock, the sky cloudless, and the heat quite oppressive. The Americans were ordered to advance a step at each fire. Soon the battle became general, and the British left, where Colonel John Butler, stripped of his feathers and other trap
* It is uncertain whether either of the Johnsons was in this campaign. As they do not appear in any official connection, it is probable they were not.
* Zebulon Butler was one of the early settlers in the Wyoming Valley. He was a native of Lyme, New London county, Connecticut, and was born in 1731. On the breaking out of the French and Indian war he entered the army as an ensign. He was at Ticonderoga, Crown Point, and other places in Northern New York. He was also in the memorable expedition to Havana during that war, and rose to the rank of captain. He left the service at the peace in 1763. In 1769 he emigrated to Wyoming, and became one of the leading men in that settlement. Before he left Connecticut he was strongly imbued with feelings of hostility to the mother country, which the agitations of the Stamp Act had engendered, and when the Revolution broke out he was found an active patriot. He was appointed colonel in 1778. He accompanied Sullivan in his memorable Indian expedition in 1779, and served with distinction throughout the war. In 1787 he was made lieutenant of the new county of Luzerne, which office he held until its abrogation by the new Constitution in 1790. He died on the 28th of July, 1795, at his residence, about a mile and a half above Wilkesbarre, and his remains were buried in the grave-yard at the borough. “Among other marks of respect to his memory,” says Mr. Minor, “a monody of a dozen verses was written, one of which was inscribed on his tombstone:
“Distinguished by his usefulness
Colonel Butler was thrice married. His first wife was Ellen Lord; his second, the daughter of the Rev. Mr. Johnson, of Wyoming (the Indian interpreter already mentioned); and the third was Miss Phoebe Haight, whom he married while he was on duty at West Point, near the close of the war. Colonel Butler was a well-educated and intelligent man, as his letters show. An autograph letter to General Washington,
or *%2. kindly given me by his grandson, the Hon. Ches- 2 /* - /3 2.4%r
ter Butler, of Wilkesbarre, from which this facsimile of his signature is copied, is a good specimen, not only of the chirography, but of the perspicuity, terseness, and comprehensive style that characterized the military dispatches of the Revolutionary officers. He was one of those reliable men whom Washington cherished in memory, and after the war he received tokens of the chief's regard. Activity, energy, and a high sense of honor were the distinguishing traits of Colonel Butler's character. He was not a relative of the Tory John Butler, as some have asserted.
Battle of Wyoming. Denison's Order mistaken. Retreat of the Americans. Scene at Monocasy Island.
pings, appeared, with a handkerchief tied round his head, earnestly cheering his men, began to give way. But a flanking party of Indians, which covered that wing of the enemy, and was concealed under some bushes upon the ancient river bank, kept up a galling fire. Captain Durkee was slain by one of their shots." In the mean time the Indian sharp-shooters along the line kept up a horrid yell, the sound of which reached the ears of the women and children at the fort. For half an hour the battle was waged with unceasing energy on both sides, but the vastly superior numbers of the enemy began to manifest its advantage. The Indians on the American left, sheltered and half concealed by the swamp, succeeded in outflanking Colonel Denison, and fell with terrible force upon his rear. He was thus exposed to the cross fire of the Tories and Indians. Perceiving this, he ordered his men to fall back in order to change his position. The order was mistaken for one to retreat. That word was uttered with fatal distinctness along the line, and his whole division fled in confusion at the moment when the British left was giving way. A few minutes more of firm resistance might have given victory to the republicans. The American Colonel Butler and Colonel Dorrance used every exertion to rally the fugitives and retrieve the loss, but in vain. Colonel Butler, seemingly unconscious of danger, rode along the lines exposed to the fire of the contending parties, beseeching his troops to remain firm. “Don’t leave me, my children,” he exclaimed, “and the victory is ours " But it was too late; the Indians leaped forward like wounded tigers. Every American captain that led a company into action was slain at the head of his men. Longer resistance was vain, and the whole American line, broken, shattered, and dispersed, fled in confusion, some in the direction of Forty Fort, and
others toward Monocasy Island, ... -- . nearly a mile distant, and the only - point on the river that promised them an opportunity to escape. The scene that ensued was terrible indeed. A portion of the flanking party of Indians rushed forward to cut off the retreat to Forty Fort, while the rest of the invaders, following the main portion of the army, who fled through the fields of grain toward Monocasy Island, slaughtered them by scores. Many who could not swim, and hesitated upon the brink of the river, were shot down; and others, who hid themselves in bushes upon the shore, were dragged out and shot or tomahawked, regardless of their cry for quarter. Many swam to Monocasy Island, whither their pursuers followed and hunted them like deers in cover. Others were shot while swimming; and some, who were lured back to the shore by promises of quarter, were butchered. Only a few escaped to the eastern side of the river and fled in safety to the mountains.”
| Captain Robert Durkee was a younger brother of Colonel John Durkee. When the valley was menaced, and he was refused permission to return home, he resigned his commission in the army, and hastened to the defense of his family. He was a volunteer in the battle where he lost his life.
* This view is from the left or eastern bank of the Susquehanna, opposite the center of Monocasy Island, looking up the river. Toward the foreground, on the right of the picture, a little beyond the bar-post, is seen a ravine, through which the fugitives who crossed the river in safety made their way. On the left are seen the upper end of Monocasy, and a sand-bar which divides the waters of the river. The distant hills on the left are those which bound the western side of the valley. From the head of Monocasy Island, across the sand-bar, the river is often fordable in summer to the eastern side.
* It would be neither pleasant nor profitable to relate the many instances of suffering on that occasion. All the horrors of war, although on a small scale, were exhibited on that memorable day; and were the particulars chronicled, the most rapacious gourmand of horrors might be surfeited. I will mention one or two circumstances, which sufficiently exhibit the bestiality of human character developed by civil war, destroying or stifling every feeling of consanguineous affection or neighborly regard. One of the fugitives, named Pensil, hid himself among the willows upon Monocasy Island. His Tory brother, who had joined
Escape of Colonels Butler and Denison. Cruelties of the Indians. Scene at “Queen Esther's Rock.” Queen Esther.
Colonel Zebulon Butler escaped to Wilkesbarre Fort and Colonel Denison to Forty Fort, where the latter mustered the few soldiers that came in, placed sentinels, and prepared for a defense of the women and children collected there. Darkness put an end to the pursuit, but not to the horrors. It was a dreadful night for Wyoming, for the enemy, elated by victory, held their fearful orgies upon the battle-field.
“Whoop after whoop with rack the ear assail'd,
Many prisoners suffered the martyrdom of savage torture, while some of their friends on the opposite shore, near Pittston, powerless to help them, observed the dreadful proceedings by -the light of the fires. Captain Bidlack was thrown, alive, upon the burning timbers of Wintermoot's Fort, where he was held down with pitchforks until he expired Prisoners were arranged in circles around large stones, and, while strong Indians held them, they were dispatched with a tomahawk. One of these stones, called Queen Esther's Rock, is pointed out to the curious. It is upon the old river bank, about forty rods east of the main road, three miles above Forty Fort, and near the house that belonged to a Mr. Gay. Around it sixteen prisoners were arranged in a circle, and each was held by a savage. A half-breed Indian woman, called Queen Esther,” assumed the office of executioner, and, using a maul and tomahawk alternately as she passed around the
QUEEN ESTHER's Rock.”
in the pursuit, found him there concealed, and recognized him. The fugitive cast himself at his brother's feet and begged his life, promising to serve him till death if he would spare him. But the brother was changed to a demon. “Mighty well, you damned rebel!” he tauntingly replied, and instantly shot him dead! The Oneida savage mentioned in a previous chapter refused to imbrue his hands in his brother's blood. The worst passions raged with wild and desolating fury. All the sweet charities of life seemed extinguished. Lieutenant Shoemaker, one of the most generous and benevolent of men, whose wealth enabled him to dispense charity and do good, which was a delight to him, fled to the river, when Windecker, a man who had often fed at his board and drunk of his cup, came to the brink. “Come out, come out,” he said; “you know I will protect you.” How could Shoemaker doubt it? Windecker reached out his left hand as if to lead him, much exhausted, ashore, and dashed his tomahawk into the head of his benefactor, who fell back and floated away.—See Minor, p. 225.
* Gertrude of Wyoming.
* This view is near the ancient river bank, looking westward. The rock is a sort of conglomerate, a large proportion of which is quartz. Some of it is of a reddish color, which the credulous believe to be stains of blood still remaining. The rock projects only about eighteen inches above the ground, and its size is denoted by the figure standing beside it. In the distance, on the left, is seen the monument which has been erected to the memory of those who fell on the occasion. This scene includes a portion of the battle-ground. The little village of Troy also occupies a part of the field of conflict.
* Queen Esther, as she was called, was the celebrated Catharine Montour, whose residence was at Catharinestown, near the head of Seneca Lake, in New York. The town was named after her, and was the first of the Indian villages destroyed by Sullivan in 1779, after the battle of Chemung. She was a native of Canada, and her father was one of the French governors, probably Frontenac. She was made a captive during the wars between the Hurons and French and the Six Nations, and was carried into the Seneca country, where she married a young chief who was signalized in the wars against the Catawbas. He fell in battle, about the year 1730. Catharine had several children by him, and remained a widow. Her superior mind gave her great ascendency over the Senecas, and she was a queen indeed among them. She accompanied the delegates of the Six Nations to Philadelphia on several occasions, where her refinement of manners and attractive person made her an object of much regard, and she was greatly caressed by the ladies of that city. From the circumstance of her refinement of manners, Mr. Stone argues that she could not have been