The Pictorial Field-Book
of The Revolution
by Benson J. Lossing
Volume l, Page 337
"On Susquehanna's side, fair Wyoming!
Although the wild flowers on thy ruined wall
And roofless homes a sad remembrance bring
Of what thy gentle people did befall,
Yet thou wert once the loveliest land of all
That see the Atlantic's wave their morn restore."
" Thou com'st in beauty on my gaze at last,
'On Susquehanna's side, fair Wyoming,'
Image of. many a dream, in hours long past,
When life was in its bud and blossoming,
And waters, gushing from the fountain spring
Of pure enthusiast thought, dimm'd my young eyes,
As by the poet borne, on unseen wing,
I breathed, in fancy, 'neath thy cloudless skies,
The summer's air, and heard her echoed harmonies."
1 Nazareth is seven miles northwest of Easton. It contains a church, a sisters' house, a large and flourishing seminary for boys, and the usual dead-house and cemetery peculiar to the sect. The place was named, and, it may be said, founded, by the Rev. George Whitefield, the eloquent cosmopolite preacher. He had labored in conjunction with the Moravians in Georgia. When, about 1740. they refused to take up arms for the governor of the province, and left Georgia for the more peaceful domain of William Penn, Whitefield accompanied them. He began to erect a large building" in the Forks of the Delaware" as a school for negro children, while the Moravians, under Bishop Nischman, purchased the site and founded the town of Bethlehem, about ten miles distant. Whitefield named his domain, or manor, Nazareth. He did not complete his building, but sold" the manor of Nazareth" to the Moravians, who finished the edifice. It is still standing, in the eastern border of the village. The Moravian Sisters of Bethlehem wrought an elegant banner, and presented it to Count Pulaski. A drawing of the banner, and the beautiful Consecration Hymn, written by Longfellow, will be found in another part of this work.
abroad, and we were within half a mile of the Wind-gap. I again mounted the driver's box, for aU around us Nature was displaying her attractions in the plenitude of her magnificence and beauty. Before us, and in close proximity, were the 'Blue Mountains, their summits curtained in a white fog that was rising toward the loftier clouds. Behind us, far down into the valleys and intervales, orchards, corn-fields, forests, and meadows were spread out like a carpet of mellow tints, and on every side the gentle breeze was shaking the rain-drops from the boughs in diamond showers, glittering in the first rays of the morning sun. While the bleating of sheep and the bellowing of cattle reminded us of cultivated fields behind us, the whirring of the pheasant, the drumming of the partridge, and the whistling of the quail among the rocks and lofty evergreens around betokened the uncultivated wilderness.
The Wind-gap, unlike the far-famed Water-gap(1) in the same cluster of mountains, is a deep depression of the summit of the range, is quite level on both sides of the road for a considerable distance, and exhibits none of the majestic precipices of the latter. The earth is covered with masses of angular rocks, among which shoot up cedar and other trees and shrubs, chiefly of the coniferae order; but the road, by industry, is made quite smooth. The hills rise on each side of the Gap to an altitude of eight hundred feet, clothed and crowned with trees. It was through this pass in the mountains that two expert walkers crossed to a spur of the Pocono when measuring the extent of a district of country northwest of the Delaware, for the proprietors of Pennsylvania, in 1737. The Indians had agreed, for a certain consideration, to sell a tract of land included within prescribed points on the river, and extending back as far as a man could "walk in a day and a half." The proprietors immediately advertised for the most expert walkers in the province, and they performed a journey, in the day and a half, of eighty-six miles! The Indians were greatly dissatisfied, for they had no idea that such a distance could be accomplished, and it included some of their finest lands. The walkers ran a considerable portion of the way. They ate as they traveled, and never stopped from sunrise until sunset. One old Indian said, bitterly, when complaining of the cheat, "No sit down to smoke-no shoot a squirrel, but lun, lun, lun, all day long." The Indians, supposing the walk would end not far from the Wind-gap, had collected there in great numbers; but, to their astonishment, the walkers reached that point on the evening of the first day.
The turnpike road through the Wind-gap, and across the valleys and mountains, to Wilkesbarre, was made by Sullivan for the passage of his troops in 1779, when marching to join General Clinton on the Tioga. Before that time the pass was little more than a rough Indian war-path, and its obscurity made the hurried flight of the people from Wyoming over the solitary region more perplexing and dreadful than it would be now.
We descended from the Wind-gap, on the western side of the mountain, along a steep and winding road, skirting a precipice, crossed a beautiful mountain stream, and alighted at the Roscommon Tavern, among the hills, where we breakfasted at seven o'clock. At the table we were honored by the presence of one of the five candidates for the office of sheriff of Mon. roe county. He was out canvassing the district for votes, and a more earnest, intelligent, good-humored man I have seldom met. His strongest claim to the honors and emoluments of the office seemed to rest upon the fact that he was a representative of New England pedagogueism in the Wyoming Valley as early as "forty years ago;" had taught the " young ideas" of the fathers of three Wilkesbarre lawyers" how to shoot," and, therefore, he assumed to have an undisputed right to the privilege of hanging the inhabitants of a neighboring county. He accompanied us to the next tavern, the proprietor of which, a fat little man, though already bearing upon his shoulders the responsibilities of a postmaster, was another aspirant ambitiously wheezing for the office of sheriff. Both were too good-natured to be made rivals;
1 The Water-gap is the passage through the Kittatinny or Blue Mountains of the Delaware River, about three miles from Stroudsburg. This village is upon the Delaware, twenty-four miles above Easton, and was the first settlement which the fugitives from Wyoming reached when fleeing from the valley in 1778. There was a fort there, called Hamilton, during the French and Indian war, and near the eastern end of the village Fort Penn was built during the Revolution.
they were only different candidates professing the same political faith. We left them comparing notes over a glass of whisky, and in the course of a few hours we had crossed fertile little valleys and parallel ranges of mountains, and begun the toilsome ascent of the famous Pocono. From base to summit, the distance, by the road, is about three miles, one third of which is a straight line up the mountain at an angle of thirty-five degrees. Then our way was along the precipitous sides of the hills, from which we could look upon the tops of tall trees, hundreds of feet below. It was noon when we reached the level summit, two thousand feet above tide water; and there, three fourths of a mile from the eastern brow of the mountain, John Smith keeps a tavern, and furnished us with an excellent dinner.
The road upon the top of Pocono is perfectly level a distance of four miles; and all the way to the Wilkesbarre Mountains, twenty miles, there is but little variation in the altitude. On the left, near Smith's, is an elevation called the Knob, about two hundred feet above the general level, from the apex of which it is said the highest peaks of the Catskills, sixty miles distant, may be distinctly seen on a clear morning. All around is a perfect wilderness as far as the eye can reach, and so trifling are the variations from a level, that the country appears like a vast plain. The whole is covered with shrub oaks, from three to ten feet in height, from which rise lofty pines, cedars, and tamaracks, interspersed with a few birch and chestnut trees, and occasionally a mountain ash with its blazing berries. The shrub oaks, at a distance, appeared like the soft light green grass of a meadow, and groups of lofty evergreens dotted the expanse like orchards upon a prairie. Here and there a huge blasted pine, black and leafless, towered above the rest, a
'Stern dweller of the mountain! with its feet
Grasping the crag, and lifting to the sky
Its haughty crest!"
Vast cranberry marshes spread out upon this high, rolling table-land, and supply the surrounding settlements with an abundance of that excellent fruit. Indeed, the whole region is almost a continuous morass, and the road, a large portion of the way, is a causeway made of logs. Here the gray eagle wheels undisturbed, the bear makes his lair, and the wild deer roam in abundance. These, with the flocks of pheasants, and the numerous rabbits that burrow upon this wild warren, invite the adventurous huntsman, willing to "camp out" in the wilderness. No settlements enliven the way; and the cabins and saw-mills of lumbermen, where the road intersects the streams, are the only evidences of a resident population, except three or four places where a few acres have been redeemed from the poverty of nature. This wilderness extends more than a hundred miles between the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers, and a death-like solitude broods over the region.
I kept my seat upon the driver's box all the way from the Wind-gap to Wilkesbarre, charmed by the romance of the scene, rendered still more wild and picturesque by the dark masses of cumulous clouds that overspread the heavens in the afternoon. The wind blew very cold from the northwest, and the driver assured me that, during the hottest weather in summer, the air is cool and bracing upon this lofty highway. Poor fellow, he was an emaciated, blue-lipped soldier, recently returned from the battle-fields of Mexico, where the vomito and ague had shattered a hitherto strong constitution, and opened his firm-knit system to the free entrance of diseases of every kind. He was at Vera Cruz and Cerra Gordo. He lay sick a whole summer at Perote, and now had resumed the whip with the feeble hope of regaining lost health.
We crossed the upper waters of the Lehigh at Stoddartsville, in the midst of the great lumber country, and reached the brow of the Wilkesbarre Mountains just before sunset. There a scene of rare grandeur and beauty was revealed, heightened by contrast with the rugged and forbidding aspect of the region we had just traversed. The heavy clouds, like a thick curtain, were lifted in the west to the apparent height of a celestial degree, and allowed the last rays of the evening sun to flood the deep valley below us with their golden light. The natural beauties of the vale, reposing in shadow, were for a moment brought
out in bold outline; and from our point of view we gazed upon a picture such as the painter's art can not imitate. Like a thread of silver the Susquehanna appeared, in its winding course, among the lofty, overshadowing trees, upon its margin, and the villages, hamlets, green woodlands, rich bottoms, and fruitful intervales of Wyoming, twenty miles in extent, and the purple mountains on its western borders were all included in the range of our vision. The thought, impious though it may be, came into my mind, that if Satan, when he took Immanuel to the top of an "exceeding high mountain," exhibited a scene like this, the temptation was certainly great. Wilkesbarre,(1) apparently at our feet, was three miles distant, and it was dark when we reached the Phoenix Hotel, upon the bank of the river. It had been a fatiguing day's journey of sixty miles; but a supper of venison, warm biscuit, and honey, and a comfortable bed, made me feel perfectly vigorous in the morning, and prepared for a ramble over the historic portions of the valley.
(September 16, 1848.)After an early breakfast I rode to the residence of Charles Miner, Esq., about two miles from the village, expecting to rely chiefly upon his varied and extensive knowledge of the history of the valley for information concerning the localities of interest, but was disappointed.(2) He was suffering from a severe attack of an epidemic fever then prevailing in the valley, and was unable even to converse much, yet I have not forgotten the sincere regrets and kind wishes he expressed. He referred me to several gentlemen in the village, descendants of the first settlers in the valley, and to one of them (Mr. Lord Butler, a grandson of Colonel Zebulon Butler) I am indebted for many kind services while I remained there. He accompanied me to the several localities of interest in the valley, and furnished me with such facilities for acquiring information as only a stranger can appreciate. We visited Kingston, Forty Fort, the monument, the chief battle-ground, Fort Wintermoot, Monocasy Island, &c.; but a record of the day's ramble will be better understood after a consultation of the history, and we will, therefore, proceed to unclasp the old chronicle.
History and song have hallowed the Valley of Wyoming, and every thing appertaining to it seems to be wrapped in an atmosphere of romance. Its Indian history, too, long antecedent to the advent of the whites there, is full of the poetry which clusters around the progress of the aborigines. Mr. Miner gives a graphic picture of the physical aspect of the valley. " It is diversified," he says, "by hill and dale, upland and intervale. Its character of extreme richness is derived from the extensive flats, or river bottoms, which, in some places, extend from one to two miles from the stream, unrivaled in expansive beauty, unsurpassed in luxuriant fertility. Though now generally cleared and cultivated, to protect the soil from floods a fringe of trees is left along each bank of the river-the sycamore, the elm, and more especially the black walnut, while here and ,there, scattered through the fields, a huge shellbark yields its summer shade to the weary laborers, and its autumn fruit to the black and gray squirrel, or the rival plow-boys. Pure streams of water come leaping from the mountains, imparting health and pleasure in their course; all of them abounding with the delicious trout. Along those brooks, and in the swales, scattered through the uplands, grow
1 This name is compounded of two, and was given in honor
of John Wilkes and Colonel Barre, two of the ablest advocates of America,.
through the press and on the floor of the British House of Commons, during
2 Mr. Miner is the author of a" History of Wyoming," a valuable work of nearly six hundred pages, and possessing the rare merit of originality, for a large proportion of its contents is a record of information obtained by him from the lips of old residents whose lives and memories ran parallel with the Revolutionary history of the valley, and events immediately antecedent thereto. He folded up little books of blank paper, took pens and ink, and, accompanied by his daughter Sarah, who, though blind, was a cheerful and agreeable companion, and possessed a very retentive memory, visited thirty or forty of the old people who were in the valley at the time of the invasion in 1778. " We have come," he said to them, "to inquire about old Wyoming; pray tell us all you know. We wish an exact picture, such as the valley presented sixty years ago. Give us its lights and shadows, its joys and sorrows." At night, on returning home, he read over to his daughter what he had taken down, and carefully corrected, by the aid of her memory, "any error into which the pen had fallen." In this way Mr. Miner collected a great amount of local history, which must otherwise have perished with the source whence he derived it. I shall draw liberally upon his interesting volume for many of my historic facts concerning Wyoming.
the wild plum and the butter-nut, while, wherever the hand of the white man has spared it, the native grape may be gathered in un. limited profusion. I have seen a grapevine bending beneath its purple clusters, one branch climbing a butter-nut, loaded with fruit, another branch resting upon a wild plum, red with its delicious burden; the while, growing in the shade, the hazel-nut was ripening its rounded kernel.
"Such were the common scenes when the white people first came to Wyoming, which seems to have been founded by Nature, a perfect Indian Paradise. Game of every sort was abundant. The quail whistled in the meadow; the pheasant rustled in its leafy covert; the wild duck reared her brood and bent the reed in every inlet; the red deer fed upon the hills; while in the deep forests, within a few hours' walk, was found the stately elk. The river yielded at all seasons a supply of fish; the yellow perch, the pike, the catfish, the bass, the roach, and, in the spring season, myriads of shad.(1)"
Campbell, with a poet's license, sung,
"Delightful Wyoming! beneath thy skies
The happy shepherd swains had naught to do
But feed their flocks on green declivities,
Or skim perchance, thy lake with light canoe,
From morn till evening's sweeter pastime grew,
With timbrel, when beneath the forest's brow
Thy lovely maidens would the dance renew;
And aye those sunny mountains half way down
Would echo flageolet from some romantic town.
"Then, when of Indian hills the daylight takes
His leave, how might you the flamingo see,
Disporting like a meteor on the lakes
And playful squirrel on his nut-grown tree:
And every sound of life was full of glee,
From merry mock-bird's song, or hum of men;
'While hearkening, fearing naught their revelry,
The wild deer arched his neck from glades, and then,
Unhunted, sought his woods and wilderness again.'"
Wyoming, in the Delaware language, signifies "large plains." By what particular Indian nation or tribe it was first settled is not certainly known, but it is probable that the Delawares held dominion there long before the powerful confederacy of the Five Nations, by whom they were subjugated, was formed. The tribes known as the Wyoming Indians, unto whom Zinzendorf and his Moravian brethren preached the Gospel, and who occupied the plains when the white settlers from Connecticut first went there, were of the Seneca and
1 Miner's History of Wyoming, preliminary chapter,
2 Gertrude of Wyoming. This beautiful poem is full of errors of every kind. The" lakes," the "flamingo," and the" mock bird" are all strangers to Wyoming; and the historical allusions in the poem are quite as much strangers to truth. But it is a charming poem, and hypercriticism may conscientiously pass by and leave its beauties untouched.
Oneida nations, connected by intermarriage with the Mingoes, and the subjugated Leni-Lenapes, or Delawares. As it is not my province to unravel Indian history, we will pass to a brief consideration of the white settlements there.
The first European whose feet trod the Valley of Wyoming was Count Zinzendorf, who, while visiting his Moravian brethren at Bethlehem and Nazareth, in 1742, extended his visits among the neighboring Indians. His warm heart had been touched by the accounts he had received of the moral degradation of the savages, and, unattended, except by an interpreter, he traversed the wilderness and preached salvation to the red men. In one of these excursions he crossed the Pocono, and penetrated to the Valley of Wyoming. With a missionary named Mack, and his wife, who accompanied him, he pitched his tent upon the western bank of the Susquehanna, a little below the present village of Kingston, at the foot of a high hill, and near a place in the river known as Toby's Eddy. A tribe of the Shawnees had a village upon the site of Kingston. They held a council to listen to the communications of the missionaries, but, suspicious of all white men, they could not believe that Zimzendorf and his companions had crossed the Atlantic for the sole purpose of promoting the spiritual welfare of the Indians. They concluded that the strangers had come to "spy out their country" with a view to dispossess them of their lands; and, with such impressions, they resolved to murder the count. The savages feared the English, and instructed those who were appointed to assassinate Zinzendorf to do it with all possible secrecy. A cool September night was chosen for the deed, and two stout Indians proceeded stealthily from the town to the tent of the missionary. He was alone, reclining upon a bundle of dry weeds, engaged in writing, or in devout meditation. A blanket curtain formed the door of his tent, and, as the Indians cautiously drew this aside, they had a full view of their victim. The benignity of his countenance filled them with awe, but an incident (strikingly providential) more than his appearance changed the current of their feelings. The tent-cloth was suspended from the branch of a huge sycamore, in such a manner that the partially hollow trunk of the tree was within its folds. At its foot the count had built a fire, the warmth of which had aroused a rattlesnake in its den; and at the moment when the savages looked into the tent the venomous reptile was gliding harmlessly across the legs of their intended victim, who did not see either the serpent or the lurking murderers. They at once regarded him as under the special protection of the Great Spirit, were
1 Nicolas Lewis, Count Zinzendorf, was descended from an ancient Austrian family, and was the son of a chamberlain of the King of Poland. He was born in May, 1700, and was educated at Halle and Utrecht. When about twenty-one years of age, he purchased the lordship of Berthholdsdorp, in Lusatia. Some poor Christians, followers of John Huss, soon afterward settled upon his estate. Their piety attracted his attention, and he joined them. From that time until his death he labored zealously for the good of mankind. The village of Hernhutt was built upon his estate, and soon the sect spread throughout Bohemia and Moravia. He traveled through Germany, Denmark, and England, and in 1741 came to America, and preached at Germantown and Bethlehem. He returned to Europe in 1743, and died at Hernhutt in 1760. The Moravian missionaries were very successful in their operations. They established stations in various parts of Europe, in Greenland, in the West Indies, and in Georgia and Pennsylvania. Piety, zeal, benevolence, and self-denial always marked the Moravians, and at the present day they bear the character of "the best of people."
filled with profound reverence for his person, and, returning to the tribe, so impressed their fellows with the holiness of Zinzendorf's character, that their enmity was changed to veneration. A successful mission was established there, which was continued until a war between the Shawnees and the Delawares destroyed the peace of the valley.(1)
Not long afterward the war that ensued between the English and French drew the line of separation so distinctly between the Indian tribes that respectively espoused either cause, that the excitements of warlike zeal repressed the religious sentiments which the indefatigable missionaries were diffusing among the savages. The tribes in the interest of the French soon began to hover around the Moravian settlements. Gnadenhutten was destroyed, and the other settlements were menaced.(3) For several years these pious mission. aries suffered greatly, and the white settlements were broken up. After the defeat of Braddock in 1755, the Delawares went over to the French, and the frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia were terribly scourged by these new allies of the enemies of the English.
In 1753 an association was formed in Connecticut, called the Susquehanna Company, the object of which was to plant a colony in the Wyoming Valley, a region then claimed by Connecticut by virtue of its ancient unrepealed charter.(4) To avoid difficulties with the
1 This was originated in the following manner. The Shawnees
were a secluded clan, living, by permission of the Delawares, upon the western
bank of the Susquehanna. On a certain day, when the warriors of both tribes
were engaged in the chase upon the mountains, a party of women and children
of the Shawnees crossed to the Delaware side to gather fruit, and were joined
by some of the squaws and children of the latter. At length a quarrel arOse
between two of the children about the possession of a grasshopper. The mothers
took part respectively with their children, and the quarrel extended to
all the women on both sides. The Delaware squaws were more numerous, and
drove the Shawnees home, killing several on thc way. The Shawnee hunters,
on their return, espousing the cause of their women, armed themselves, and,
crossing the river, attacked the Delawares; a bloody battle ensued, and
the Shawnees, overpowered, retired to the banks of the Ohio, and joined
their more powerful brethren. How many wars between Christian nations have
originated in a quarrel about some miserable grasshopper!
2 This is a view upon a stream called Mud Creek, a few rods from its mouth, at Toby's Eddy, in the Susquehanna, about a mile below Kingston. It was pointed out to me as the place where, tradition avers, Count Zinzendorf erected his tent, and where the singular circumstance related in the text occurred. It was near sunset on a mild day (September 16th, 1848) when I visited the spot, and a more inviting place for retirement and meditation can scarcely be imagined. It is shaded by venerable sycamore, butternut, elm, and black walnut trees. From the Eddy is a fine view of the plain whereon the Delawares had their village, and of the mountains on the eastern side of the valley. The eddy is caused by a bend in the river.
3 The Moravians had established six missionary settlements in the vicinity of the Forks of the Delaware, or the junction of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers, viz., Nazareth, Bethlehem, Nain, Freidenshal, Gandenthaul, and Gnadenhutten. The latter, the name of which in English is "Huts of Mercy," was founded chiefly for the accommodation and protection of those Indians who embraced the Christian faith. Hence it was the first settlement attacked by the hostile savages.
4 When the regions in the interior of America were unknown, the charters given to the colonists were generally very vague respecting their western boundary. They defined the extent of each colony along the Atlantic coast, but generally said of the westward extent, "from sea to sea." Such was the expression in the Connecticut charter, and Wyoming, lying directly west of that province, was claimed as a portion of its territory. The intervening portion of New York, being already in actual possession of the Dutch, was not included in the claim.
Indians, the agents of the company were directed to purchase the land of the Six Nations, the actual owners, though it was then in possession of the Delawares. A deputation for the purpose attended the great convention and Indian council which was held at Albany in 1754, and, notwithstanding the strong efforts made by the Governor of Pennsylvania, through his agents, to the contrary, the purchase was effected. The tract bargained for included the whole Valley of Wyoming and the country westward to the Allegany River. The Pennsylvanians were irritated at what they called an unfair and illegal encroachment of the Connecticut people, and in strong terms protested against the purchase, for they claimed that the whole country included therein was covered by the charter granted to William Penn. Here, then, was planted the seed which soon burst forth into a mature tree, and bore the apples of discord in abundance.
Another Connecticut association, called the Delaware Company, had purchased lands upon the Delaware River, at a place called Cushetunk. They commenced a settlement there in 1757, and the Susquehanna Company prepared to plant their colony in Wyoming the following year. But, owing to the unsettled state of the country, the French and Indian war then being in progress, the settlement was deferred until 1762, when about two hundred colonists pushed forward, and commenced building and planting near the mouth of Mill Creek, a little above the present site of Wilkesbarre. The Indians, and among,them their great chief Teedyuscung, were at first opposed to this settlement of the whites in the valley, but were soon reconciled, and lived in daily friendly intercourse with the new comers. The Pennsylvanians, however, determined to repel what they held to be a bold encroachment upon their rights. Proclamations were issued, and writs of ejectment were placed in the hands of the sheriff of Northampton county, within the limits of which Wyoming was situated; but the Yankees continued to build and plant. They brought their families into the val1ey, and new settlers were rapidly augmenting their numbers. An event now occurred which at one terrible blow cut off this flourishing settlement.
I briefly adverted, at the close of the last chapter, to the fact that a great council was held at Easton in 1758, where Teedyuscung, the Delaware chief, acted a conspicuous part. The Six Nations regarded the Delawares as subjects, and were jealous of the popularity and power of Teedyuscung. They could not brook his advancement, and in the autumn of 1763 a party of warriors descended the Susquehanna, and came to the valley upon a pretended visit of friendship. As previously concerted, they set fire to the house of Teedyuscung on a certain night, and the chief was burned in it; while, to crown their wicked act, they adroitly charged the deed upon the whites. The Delawares believed the tale. They loved their chief, and determined on revenge. At broad noon, on the 14th of October, they attacked and (1783.) massacred thirty of the settlers in their fields.(1) The whole settlement was speedily alarmed, and men, women, and children fled to the mountains, from which they saw their houses plundered and their cattle driven away. At night the torch was applied to their buildings, and the lovely abode of several hundred peaceful dwellers in the morning was made a desolation. Over the wilderness of the Pocono they made their way to the Delaware, and so on to their homes in Connecticut, a distance of two hundred and fifty miles. The blow was as unexpected as it was' merciless, for they regarded the Delawares as their friendly neighbors.(2)
Thc Susquehanna Company did not attempt a settlement again for several years; and in the mean time the proprietaries of Pennsylvania, taking advantage of an Indian council held at Fort Stanwix in 1768, made a direct purchase of the Wyoming Valley from the Six Nations, and took a deed from some of the chiefs A lease of the valley for seven years was given to three Pennsylvanians,(3) who established a trading house there, which they fortified.
1 This is the testimony of current history. Mr Miner, on
the contrary, is persuaded that the same hands that destroyed Teedyuscung-the
Six Nations-perpetrated this outrage.
2 Proud, Gordon, Chapman.
3 Charles Stewart, Amos Ogden, and John Jennings. The latter was the sheriff of the county. Charles Stewart subsequently became a popular and efficient officer of the Pennsylvania line in the Continental army.
Forty pioneers of the Susquehanna Company, prepared to act promptly, entered the valley in February, 1769, and closely invested the Pennsylvania garrison. There were but ten men in the block-house, but they had found means to send a message to Governor Penn, informing him of their situation. They did not wait for succor, however, but, under pretense of consulting about an amicable compromise, three of the Connecticut party were decoyed into the block-house, arrested by Sheriff Jennings, and sent to Easton Jail. The Connecticut immigrants increased rapidly, and Jennings called upon the posse of the county and several magistrates to assist in their arrest. Quite a formidable force marched to Wyoming, but the Connecticut people had not been idle. They too had erected a block-house, which they called Forty Fort. Jennings demolished its doors, and arrested thirty-one of the inmates, most of whom were taken to Easton Jail. They were admitted to bail, were re-enforced by about two hundred from Connecticut, and, returning to Wyoming, built a fort, which they called Fort Durkee, in honor of the officer elected to its command. This fortification was about half a mile below Wilkes barre, near the Shawnee Flats. They also built thirty log houses around it, furnished with loop-holes for musketry, and, the number of the settlers being three hundred able-bodied men, Jennings could make no further impression upon them. He reported to the Governor of Pennsylvania that the whole power of the county was inadequate to dislodge the Yankees.
For a short time hostilities ceased, and the Susquehanna Company sent commissioners to Philadelphia to endeavor to negotiate a compromise.(1) Governor Penn refused to treat with them, and sent an armed force to the valley, under the command of Colonel Francis. He demanded a surrender of Fort Durkee, but the order was not obeyed. He reconnoitered, and, finding the works too strong to be successfully assaulted, returned to Philadelphia, leaving Ogden, one of the lessees of the valley, with a small force in the neighborhood. A larger force was assembled under Sheriff Jennings, well armed, and provided with a six pound cannon. Captain Ogden, who was prowling about the settlement, hearing of the approach of Jennings, darted suddenly among the houses with forty men, and captured several inhabitants, among whom was Colonel Durkee. He was taken to Philadelphia, and closely imprisoned. Jennings, with two hundred armed men, appeared before the fort, and began the erection of a battery. The garrison, alarmed, proposed to surrender upon certain conditions, which were agreed to. The articles of capitulation were drawn up in due form and signed, but Ogden acted in bad faith, and the seventeen settlers who were allowed by the capitulation to remain in the valley and harvest their crops, were plundered of every thing and driven over the mountains.
In February, 1770, Lazarus Stewart led an aimed party from Lancaster into the Valley of Wyoming, who were joined by another armed party from Connecticut. They captured Fort Durkee, and, proceeding to the house of Ogden (who was then absent), seized the cannon already mentioned. Captain Ogden, on hearing of these transactions, hastened to Wyoming with fifty men, and garrisoned his own house. A party of fifty Yankees was sent against him, and a skirmish ensued. Several Connecticut people were wounded, and one was killed. Colonel Durkee(2) had now been released, and had returned from Philadelphia. Under his command the Yankees commenced a regular siege upon the fortress of the Pennymites.(3) They mounted the four pound cannon upon the opposite side of the river, and for several days played upon Ogden's house. Receiving no succor from Governor Penn, he surrendered upon terms similar to those allowed the Yankees the year before. He was to with
1 Colonel Dyer, and Jedediah Elderkin, of Windham, Connecticut.
2 John Durkee was a native of that portion of Norwich, Connecticut, ca]]ed Bean Hill, and was generally
called the" bold Bean Hiller." He left Wyoming and returned to Connecticut. 'When the Revolution broke out, he entered into the contest zealously. He was at Bunker Hill, and was commissioned a colonel in the Connecticut line. He was in the 'battle on Long Island, at Germantown, and other engagements. He died at his residence at Bean Hill in 1782, aged fifty-four years, and was buried with military honors.
3 This civil commotion is usually termed the Pennymite and Yankee war. The former name was derived from John Penn, governor of Pennsylvania when hostilities commenced.
draw himself and all his men from the valley, except six, who were to remain and guard his property. But the Yankees, imitating Ogden's bad faith with them, seized his property and burned his house as soon as he was gone. Warrants were afterward issued by the Governor of Pennsylvania against Lazarus Stewart, Zebulon Butler, and Lazarus Young, for the crime of arson, but they were never harmed.
Governor Penn, fearing political outbreaks in his capital at that time, and unwilling to send any of the few troops away from Philadelphia, called upon General Gage, then in command at New York; for a detachment of his majesty's troops to restore order at Wyoming. Gage refused compliance, and the Pennsylvanians were obliged to rely upon their own resources. It was autumn before another attempt was made against the Yankees. Ogden, with only one hundred and forty men, marched by the Lehigh route, to take the settlers by surprise. From the tops of the mountains he saw the people at work in groups in their fields, and, separating his force into parties equal in numbers to the unsuspecting farmers below, they rushed down upon them, made several prisoners, and sent them to Easton. Ogden lay concealed in the mountains, awaiting another opportunity to assail the Yankees. The latter sent messengers to solicit aid from their friends on the Delaware. These fell into Ogden's hands, and, learning from them the exact position of Fort Durkee, he made a night attack upon it. It was filled with women and children, and the garrison, too weak to defend it, surrendered unconditionally. The fort and the houses of the settlement were plundered, and many of the principal inhabitants were sent prisoners to Easton and Philadelphia.
A small garrison was left by Ogden in Fort Durkee. The Yankees having left the valley, they were not very vigilant. On the night of the 18th of December, between (1770.) twenty and thirty men, under Lazarus Stewart, reached the fort by stealth, and captured it, shouting, " Huzza for King George!" The Pennymites were now, in turn, driven from the valley. Stewart held possession of the fort until the middle of January following, when the sheriff of Northampton county, with a considerable force, arrived before it. Captain Ogden and his brother Nathan accompanied the expedition. A skirmish ensued at the fort, and Nathan Ogden was killed.(1) Stewart perceived that he could not long hold out, (January, 1771). and on the night of the 20th withdrew from the valley, leaving twelve men in the fort. These were made prisoners and sent to Easton, and quiet again prevailed at Wyoming.
For six months the Pennymites were undisturbed in the possession of the valley, and the number of the settlers of Ogden's party had increased to about eighty. But their repose was suddenly broken by the descent from the mountains, on the 6th of July, of seventy armed men from Connecticut, under Captain Zebulon Butler, and a party under Lazarus Stewart, who had joined him. Ogden had built another and a stronger fort, which he called Fort Wyoming. (2) The invaders were almost daily re-enforced, and commenced several military worKs with a view of besieging Ogden and his party in the forts. The besieged were well supplied with provisions, and, their works being strong, they defied the assailants. Ogden, in the mean while, escaped from the fort by stratagem,(3) proceeded to Philadelphia, and succeeded in inducing the acting governor (Hamilton) to send a detachment of one hundred men to Wyoming. The expedition was unsuccessful. After prosecuting the siege until the 11th of August, Captain Butler sent to the garrison a formal summons to surrender. The garrison
1 A settler named William Speddy was recognized as the
man who discharged the musket that killed Ogden, and in November he was
tried for murder, at the Supreme Court held in Philadelphia. He was acquitted.
2 This fort stood upon the ground now occupied by the court-house in Wilkesbarre. There was another fort on the bank of the river, a little below the Phrnnix Hotel. Traces of the ditches were visible when I visited the spot in 1848.
3 Ogden prepared a light bundle that would float upon the water, on which he fastened a hat. To this bundle he attached a cord several yards in length, and, entering the river, swam past the sentinels, drawing the bundle at the distance of the length of the cord behind him. The hat was fired at several times, but Ogden escaped unhurt.
refused compliance. Butler had no ordnance, and a colonist named Carey (1) made a cannon of a pepperidge log. At the second discharge the cannon burst, but they had no further need of artillery, for the garrison surrendered. On the 14th a detachment of sixty men from Philadelphia, to re-enforce the garrison, had arrived within two miles of the fort; but, hearing of the surrender, they retraced their steps. Several persons were killed during the siege. By the terms of the capitulation, Ogden and his party were all to leave the valley. Thus closed the civil war in Wyoming for the year 1771, and the Yankees were left ill possession of their much-coveted domain.
The settlement now increased rapidly, and the Susquehanna Company applied to the General Assembly of Connecticut to take them under its protection until the decision asked of the king should be made. The Assembly advised them to organize a government by themselves. Pursuant to this advice, the inhabitants of Wyoming established a thoroughly Democratic government. "They laid out townships," says Chapman, "founded settlements, erected fortifications, levied and collected taxes, passed laws for the direction of civil suits, and for the punishment of crimes and misdemeanors, established a militia, and provided for the common defense and general welfare of the colony." The supreme legislative power was vested directly in the people, and exercised by themselves in their primary meetings. A magistracy was appointed; courts were instituted, having civil and criminal jurisdiction; and a high court of appeals, called the Supreme Court, was established, composed, like their Legislature, of the people themselves in primary assembly. The government was well administered, the colony rapidly increased, the people were happy, and for two years the smiles of peace and prosperity gladdened the Valley of Wyoming.
During this season of repose the Assembly of Connecticut made an effort to adjust all difficulties between the settlers and the government of Pennsylvania. Richard Penn was then governor of that province, and would enter into no negotiations on the subject. The Connecticut Assembly, therefore, made out a case and sent it to England for adjudication.(2) It was submitted to the ablest lawyers of the realm-Lord Thurlow, Wedderburne, Richard Jackson, and John Dunning-and their decision was in favor of the Susquehanna Company.
1 Mr. Carey was a native of Dutchess county, New York,
and went to Wyoming with his sons in 1769. His brother, Samuel Carey, was
a distinguished Quaker preacher. His sons became permanent settlers in Wyoming,
and lived to a good old age.
2 Colonel Eliphalet Dyer was sent to England as agent for the Connecticut Assembly. He was one of the most eminent lawyers of that province. His eloquence was of the most persuasive kind. In allusion to this intellectual power, a wit wrote the following impromptu, while Dyer was advocating the cause of the Susquehanna Company on the floor of the Assembly chamber:
" Canaan of old, as we are told,
When it did rain down manna,
Wa'nt half so good, for heavenly food,
As Dyer makes Susquehanna."This is the same Dyer alluded to in the amusing doggerel entitled "Lawyers and Bull-frogs," in which the people of Old Windham, in Connecticut, were. interested. The poem is printed in the Historical Collections of Connecticut, page 448. The introduction avers that, after a long drought, a frog-pond became almost dry, and a terrible battle was fought one night by the frogs, to decide who should keep possession of the remaining water. Many" thousands were found defunct in the morning." There was an uncommon silence for hours before the battle commenced, when, as if by a preconcerted agreement, every frog on one side of the ditch raised the war-cry, Colonel Dyer! Colonel Dyer! and at the same instant, from the opposite side, resounded the adverse shout of Elderkin too! Elderkin too! Owing to some peculiarity in the state of the atmosphere, the sounds seemed to be overhead, and the people of Windham were greatly frightened. The poet says,
"This terrible nIght the parson did fright
His people almost In despair;
For poor Windham souls among the bean-poles
Ho made a most wonderful prayer.
Lawyer Lucifer called up his crew;
Dyer and Elderkin,'*you must come too:
Old Colonel Dyer yon know well enough,
He had an old negro, his name was Cuff."
* Jedediah Elderkin accompanied Colonel Dyer to Philadelphia in 1769, in behalf of the Susquehanna Company.
The settlement was now taken under the protection of Connecticut, and incorporated into that colony. The territory was erected into a chartered town called Westmoreland, and attached to Litchfield county; representatives from it were admitted to seats in the General Assembly, and Zebulon Butler and Nathan Denison were commissioned justices of the peace. Repose continued to reign in the valley, and unexampled prosperity blessed the settlement. A town immediately adjoining Wyoming Fort was planted by Colonel Durkee, and named Wilkesbarre; and the whole valley became a charming picture of active life and social happiness. The foot-prints of civil war were effaced, and the recollections of the gloomy past were obliterated. A dream of happiness lulled the people into the repose of absolute security. Isolated In the bosom of the mountains, and far removed from the agitations which disturbed the people upon the ocean coasts, they had heard little of the martial sound of preparations for the hostilities then elaborating in the imperial and colonial councils. They were enjoying, in full measure, the blessings of virtuous democracy, and felt none of the oppressions of Great Britain, then bearing with such heavy hand upon the commercial cities of America; yet they warmly sympathized with their suffering brethren, and their hearts and hands were open to the appeals of the patriots of the east.
Four years Wyoming enjoyed uninterrupted peace, when its repose was suddenly broken by an attack upon a branch of the colony, located about sixty miles below Wilkesbarre, by a body of Northumberland militia, who were jealous of the increasing prosperity of the Yankees. On the 28th of September, 1775, the unsuspecting inhabitants were suddenly assailed, several of them were killed, and the residue were sent to Sunbury and imprisoned. About the same time several boats from Wyoming, trading down the river, were plundered by the Pennsylvanians. The Continental Congress was then in session in Philadelphia, and the Connecticut people of Wyoming, preferring peaceful measures to a renewal of the civil war, petitioned that body for redress. Congress," considering that the most perfect union between the colonies was essentially necessary for the preservation of the just rights of North America," adopted resolutions urging the governments of Pennsylvania and Connecticut to "take the most speedy and effectual steps to prevent hostilities" and to adjust difficulties.(1) But the lawless invaders had not yet learned to respect the voice of Congress. Its resolutions were unheeded, and the imprisoned settlers were more rigidly confined, under the apprehension that the exasperated people of Wyoming, now become numerous, might make a retaliatory movement against Sunbury. A proposition was made to raise a force, and march against Wyoming to subjugate it before the people could organize a military government. Governor Penn favored the design, and Colonel Plunkett, who was also a magistrate, was placed in command of the expedition. He was ostensibly vested with civil powers, and his (December 20, 1775.) force was called the posse of the county. Congress, still in session in Philadelphia, passed a resolution urging the immediate termination of all hostilities between the parties.(2) But the Pennsylvanians paid no attention to the resolution, and Plunkett advanced toward Wyoming. His progress was slow, for the river was much obstructed by ice; and before he came to the Nanticoke Rapids, at the south end of the valley, where he was obliged to leave his boats, the people had made ample preparations to receive him. The military were under the command of Colonel Zebulon Butler, and numbered about three hundred effective men.
From the summit of a bold rock on the western side of the river, that overhung the road along which Plunkett was marching, a volley of musketry was discharged as he approached, and arrested his progress. By means of a bateau, which he caused to be brought above the rapids by land, his men attempted to cross the river, to march against Fort Wyoming on the eastern side. They were assaulted by an ambuscade on shore, and the whole invading force immediately retreated to. their provision boats, moored below the rapids, ,where a council of war was held. This council wisely concluded that the chances of success were few, and the expedition was abandoned.
1 Journals of Congress, vol. i., p. 215.
2 Ibid., p. 279.
The war of the Revolution had now fairly commenced. The proprietary government of Pennsylvania was soon afterward virtually abolished, a constituent assembly was organized,a and the people and the governments of both colonies had matters of much (a 1777.) greater importance to attend to than disputes about inconsiderable settlements. Henceforth the history of Wyoming is identified with the general history of the Union. I have glanced briefly at the most important events connected with its early settlement, for they form an interesting episode in the general history of our republic, and exhibit prominently those social and political features which characterized the colonies when the war of independence broke out. Separate provinces, communities, and families, having distinct interests, and under no very powerful control from without, had learned independence of thought and action, self-reliance, patient endurance under the pressure of circumstances, and indomitable courage in the maintenance of personal and political rights, from the circumstances in which their relations to each other had placed them. It was in schools like that of the Pennymite war, the resistance of the New Hampshire Grants to the domination of New York, the opposition to the Stamp Act and kindred measures, and the Regulator movement in the Carolinas, that the people were tutored for the firm resistance which they made to British oppressions during the seven years of our struggle for political emancipation; and there is more of the true philosophy of our great Revolution to be learned by studying antecedent, but relative events, than in watching the progress of the war itself. We will now turn to a consideration of the events which occurred in Wyoming during our Revolution.
The defection of a large portion of the Six Nations, the coalition of the Delawares and Shawnees with the friends of the king westward of the Alleganies, and the menaces of the tribes bordering on Virginia, with whom Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of that province, had long tampered, seeking to bring their hatchets upon the frontier settlements of that rebellious state, gave the Continental Congress much uneasiness at the beginning of 1776. Thousands of mercenary Germans were preparing to come like" destroying locusts upon the east wind;" the British Parliament had voted fifty-five thousand men for the American service; loyalty to the crown was rife throughout the land; and the dark cloud of savages upon the western border of the colonies, smarting under the wrongs inflicted by the white men for a century and a half, and without any definite ideas of the nature of the quarrel in question, or means of discriminating between the parties to the feud, were ready to raise the war-cry, and satiate their appetites for vengeance, rapine, and blood. Westmoreland, or Wyoming, was peculiarly exposed, lying upon the verge of the Indian country, and to the people of its lovely valley the conciliation of the Indians was a matter of vast importance. The council of Onondaga, the chief head of the Six Nations, made professions of peaceful intentions, but there was evident hypocrisy underlying the fair appearance of the surface, and occasional outrages upon the remote settlers had been committed without rebuke. On one occasion a man named Wilson, living within the limits of Westmoreland, had been cruelly treated by the Indians, and Colonel Zebulon Butler sent a messenger to ascertain the true intentions of the savages. A chief called John returned with the messenger, and, in a speech replete with Indian eloquence, disclaimed, in behalf of the Six Nations, all thoughts of hostility to the friends of Congress. The Rev. Mr. Johnson, the first pastor in Wyoming, acted as interpreter. " We are sorry," said the chief, "to have two brothers fighting with each other, and should be glad to hear that the quarrel was peaceably settled. We choose not to interest ourselves on either side. The quarrel appears to be unnecessary. We do not well understand it. We are for peace." He continued:
" Brothers, when our young men come to hunt in your neighborhood, you must not imagine they come to do mischief; they come to procure themselves provisions, also skins to purchase them clothing.
"Brothers, we desire that Wyoming may be a place appointed where the great men may meet, and have a fire, which shall ever after be called Wyomick, where you shall judge best how to prevent any jealousies or uneasy thoughts that may arise, and thereby preserve our friendship.
"Brothers, you see but one of our chiefs. You may be suspicious on that account; but we assure you this chief speaks in the name of the Six Nations. We are of one mind.
"Brothers, what we say is not from the lips, but from the heart. If any Indians of little note should speak otherwise, you must pay no regard to them, but observe what has been said and written by the chiefs, which may be depended on.
"Brothers, we live at the head of these waters [Susquehanna]. Pay no regard to any reports that may come up the stream or any other way, but look to the head waters for truth; and we do now assure you, as long as the waters run, so long you may depend on our friendship. We are all of one mind, and we are all for peace."
This was the strong language of assurance, and Colonel Butler, confident of its sincerity, wrote accordingly to Roger Sherman of the Connecticut Assembly. He mentioned in his letter that the Indians wanted an American flag as a token of friendship; and the whole tone of his communication evinced a belief in the professed attachment of the savages to the republicans. But at that very time the Mohawks, Onondagas, and Senecas were leaguing against the patriots; and already Brant and five hundred warriors had struck a severe blow of hostility to the republicans at the Cedars, on the St. Lawrence. The proposed council fire at Wyoming was doubtless intended as a pretense for assembling a large body of warriors in the heart of the settlement, to destroy it; and the desire for an American flag was undoubtedly a wish to have it for a decoy when occasion should call for its use. Events soon occurred which confirmed these suspicions, and the people of Wyoming prepared for defense against their two-fold enemy, the Indians and the Tories(1)
When the war broke out, the Connecticut Assembly prevented further immigration to Westmoreland. But people carne there, from the Hudson and the Mohawk Valleys, having no sympathy with either of the parties in the" Pennymite war," and, as it appeared, no sympathy with the republicans. Almost every original settler had espoused the cause of the Whigs; and the open expression of hostility to Congress by these interlopers, the most active of whom were the Wintermoots, Van Gorders, Van Alstyns, and a few other families, excited the indignation of the Wyoming people. (2) The recommendation of the Continental Congress, to organize committees of vigilance in every town, had been promptly acted upon in Wyoming, and these new comers, the avowed friends of the king, were soon subjected to the severest scrutiny of the committee there. The people of Wyoming, numbering nearly three thousand, and united in thought and action, were pursuing peacefully their various occupations. The sudden influx of strangers to them, not only in person but in political creed, justly excited suspicions that they were a colony of vipers, come to nestle among them for the purpose of disseminating the poison of Toryism. Influenced by these fears, several of the most suspicious of the interlopers were arrested and sent to Connecticut. This was an unwise act, although perhaps justifiable, and was one cause of subsequent disasters.
In the mean while two companies of regular troops, of eighty-two men each, had been raised in the valley, under a resolution of Congress, commanded by Captains Ransom and
1 On the 10th of March, 1777, the following resolutions
were adopted at a town meeting held at Wilkesbarre:
"Voted, That the first man that shall make fifty weight of good saltpetre in this town shall be entitled to a bounty of ten pounds lawful money, to be paid out of the town treasury.
"Voted, That the select-men be directed to dispose of the grain now in the hands of the treasurer or collector in such a way as to obtain powder and lead to the value of forty pounds lawful money, if they can do the same."
It was also subsequently voted to empower a committee of inspectors" to supply the soldiers' wives and t he soldiers' widows with the necessaries of life." This was a noble resolution.
2 Mr. Miner, in a letter to the late William L. Stone, mentions the fact that among the papers of Colonel Zebulon Butler he found a list of Tories who joined the Indians. The list contained sixty-one names, of which only three were those of New England men. Most of them were transient persons, who had gone to Wyoming as hunters and trappers. Six of them were of one family (the Wintermoots), from Minisink. Nine were from the Mohawk Valley, doubtless in the interest of the Johnsons, four from Kinderhook, and six from West Chester, New York. There were not ten Tory families who had resided two years in Wyoming.-See Stone's History of Wyoming, p. 181.
Durkee, and were attached to the Connecticut line.(1) The Wintermoots, who had purchased land toward the head of the valley, and upon the old banks of the Susquehanna(2) at a place where bubbled forth a large and living spring of pure water, erected a strong fortification known as Wintermoot's Fort. The town meeting alluded to, suspicious of the design of the Wintermoots, who had hitherto acted so discreetly that a charge of actual hostility to Congress could not properly be made against them, thought it best to counteract their apparent belligerence, and resolved that it had "become necessary for the in. habitants of the town to erect suitable forts as a defense against the common enemy." (August 24, 1776.) A fort was accordingly built, about two miles above Wintermoot's, under the supervision of the families of Jenkins and Harding, and called Fort Jenkins.(3) Forty Fort (so called from the first forty Yankees, the pioneers of the Susquehanna settlers in Wyoming), then little more than a weak block-house, was strengthened and enlarged, and sites for other forts were fixed on, at Pittstown, Wilkesbarre, and Hanover. It was agreed in town meeting. that these several fortifications should be built by the people, "without either fee or reward from the town."
As we have observed in a former chapter, the tribes of the Six Nations which had receded from their solemn agreement of neutrality were not brought actively into the service of the king until the summer of 1777. It was then that the people of Wyoming perceived, and fully appreciated, the perils attendant upon their isolation, and the attention of the Continental Congress was often called to their exposed situation. While St. Leger was investing Fort Stanwix, some straggling parties of savages hung about and menaced Wyoming; but, after the siege was raised, the people were not disturbed again during the remainder of the year and the following spring. But early in the summer of 1778 the movements of Brant and his warriors, and the Johnsons and Butler's and their Tory legions, upon the upper waters of the Susquehanna, together with the actions of the Tories in the Valley of Wyoming, who were greatly exasperated on account of the harsh treatment of some of their number by the
1 These two companies served with distinction at the skirmish
on Millstone River, in New Jersey, on the 20th of January, 1777. This occurred
while the main army of the Americans were suffering from the smallpox at
Morristown. A line of forts had been established along the Millstone River,
in the direction of Princeton. One of these, at Somerset Court-house, was
occupied by General Dickinson with these two regular companies and about
three hundred militia. A mill on the opposite bank of the stream contained
considerable flour. Cornwallis, then lying at New Brunswick, dispatched
a foraging party to capture it. The party consisted of about four hundred
men, with more than forty wagons. The British arrived at the mill early
in the morning and having loaded their wagons with flour, were about to
return, when General Dickinson, leading a portion of his force through the
river, middle deep, attacked them with so much spirit, that they fled in
haste, leaving the whole of their plunder, with their wagons, behind them.
2 Along the western side of the Susquehanna, a large part of the way from the head of the valley to the village of Kingston, opposite Wilkesbarre, are traces of a more ancient shore than the present, when the river was broader and perhaps deeper than now. The plain extending from the ancient shore to the foot of the mountain is a uniform level, several feet above the alluvial bottom between it and the present bank of the river.
3 There was another fort, called Fort Jenkins, upon the Susquehanna, about half way between Wilkesbarre and Fort Augusta, or Sunbury. The fort in question was about eight miles above Wilkesbarre.
4 This view is from the ancient bed of the Susquehanna, looking west. The building, formerly the property of Colonel Jenkins, and now owned by Mr. David Goodwin, is upon the site of old Fort Wintermoot, which was destroyed at the time of the invasion in 1778. It is upon the ancient bank of the river, here from fifteen to twenty feet high, and about sixty rods from the stream in its present channel.
Whigs, greatly alarmed the people. Several of the Loyalists had left and joined the forces under Colonel John Butler, and the people very properly apprehended their return with power sufficient to satisfy their manifest spirit of vengeance. Early in May the savages had committed many robberies, and in June some murders, in the neighborhood of Tioga, and other points on the upper borders of Westmoreland. The Indians were in considerable force at Conewawah (now Elmira, in Chemung county, New York), and were in constant communication with the Tory settlers, by runners, at Wyalusing and in the neighborhood of Tunkhannock, within the precincts of Westmoreland. These circumstances were alarming; yet the exposed territory, cut off as it was from immediate aid, if demanded, was weakened by drafts upon its able-bodied men for the Continental army, and demands upon its local treasary for the use of the Connecticut Assembly. Mr. Miner has given, in a spirited historic "pen-and-ink sketch," a picture of the condition of Wyoming at the close of 1777, and at the opening of the active operations the following year. He says, "Nearly all their able-bodied men were away in the service. The remaining population, in dread of the savages, were building six forts or stockades, requiring great labor, 'without fee or reward.' All the aged men out of the train bands, exempt by law from duty, were formed into companies to garrison the forts, one of the captains being also chief physician to the people and surgeon to the military. Of the militia the whole were in constant requisition, to go oil the scout and guard against surprise. The small-pox pestilence was in every district. A tax to go to Hartford was levied in the assessment of the year, of two thousand pounds,"(1) not in Continental bills of credit at their nominal value, but "lawful money of the state of Connecticut."
Such was the condition of Wyoming when, in June, 1778, an expedition of Tories and Indians was prepared to fall upon the defenseless inhabitants. Congress was apprised of the dark design. The officers and men in the army, from Wyoming, pleaded for their wives and little ones. General Schuyler wrote a touching letter to Congress on the subject; yet that body, always tardy in its movements, and at that time too much employed in sectional disputes and factious intrigues, left the settlement uncared for, and apparently unnoticed, except by the resolutions to permit the people to take measures for self-defense by raising troops among themselves, and finding "their own arms, and accouterments, and blankets." (2) The heads of the families there exposed were cruelly detained in the ranks of the Continental army elsewhere, and thus, naked and helpless, the settlement presented an easy prey to the vultures that scented the from Niagara, and whose companions were then glutting their appetites in the Mohawk and Schoharie settlements.
A force, consisting of the Tory Rangers of Colonel John Butler, a detachment of Johnson's Royal Greens, and from five to seven hundred Indians, under the general command of Butler, and numbering in all 'about eleven hundred men, crossed the Genesee country from Niagara, and appeared at Tioga Point, in June, whence they embarked in canoes, and landed
1 History of Wyoming, page 201. Mr. Miner mentions
an instance of the patriotism of the women of Wyoming, and the draft which
the people made, under the pressure of circumstances, upon their undeveloped
resources. Gunpowder was very scarce at the time when the settlement was
menaced by the enemy. The husbands, fathers, and brothers were away in the
Continental ranks, and the females plowed, sowed, and reaped. Nor was this
all: they manufactured gunpowder for the feeble garrisons in the forts.
" They took up the floors of their houses, dug out the earth, put it
in casks, and ran water through it, as ashes are leached. They then took
ashes in another cask, and made ley, mixed the water from the earth with
weak ley, boiled it, and set it to cool, and the saltpetre rose to the top.
Charcoal and sulphur were then used, the mixture was pounded in an implement
brought to the valley by Mr. Hollenback, and thus powder was produced for
the public defense."--Page 212.
2 See resolution of March 16th, 1778, in the Journals of Congress, vol. iv., p. 113. This resolution authorized the raising of "one full company of foot in the town of Westmoreland." Nothing further was done by Congress in behalf of the people there until the 23d of June following, when a resolution was passed to write to the two independent companies under Durkee and Ransom, then greatly reduced by battle and sickness, and permit them to return home for the defense of the settlement. Congress also resolved to pay the officers and soldiers of the companies authorized to be raised by the resolution of the 16th of March preceding, for their arms and accouterments. The sum of $1440 was granted to the Board of War, to be issued to Colonel Denison. The Continental paper dollars were then rapidly depreciating, four of them being at that time worth only one in specie.
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,(1) and attacked the people near Fort Jenkins, three of whom were killed.(2) Butler then made his head-quarters at Wintermoot's Fort, whence he sent out scouts and (July 2, 1778.) foraging parties.
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."(3)
On the morning of the 3d of July a council of war was held in Forty Fort, (1778) to determine what action was proper. Some, among whom were Colonels Butler and Denison and Lieutenant colonel 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 invasion,
1 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.
2 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."
3 Wyoming Memorial to the Legislature of Connecticut.
4 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.
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 reaching 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 vigorous 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 surprise the enemy, but Colonel John Butler was too vigilant to be caught napping. 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. Colonel 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 celebrated Seneca chief named Gi-en-gwa-tah, which signifies He who goes in the smoke.(1) Johnson's
1 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 commanders 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;
The mammoth comes-the foe-the monster Brant,
With all his howling, desolating hand."
" Scorning to wield the hatchet for his tribe,
'Gainst Brant himself I went to battle forth,
Accursed Brant! he left of all my tribe
Nor man, nor child, nor thing of living birth.
No! not the dog that watched my household hearth
Escaped that night of blood upon the plains.
All perish'd! I alone am left on earth I
To whom nor relative nor blood remains
No, not a kindred drop that runs in human veins."
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 travels, 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.
Greens, under Captain Caldwell,(1) 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."(2)
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 trappings,
1 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.
2 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
At home and when abroad,
At court, in camp, and in recess,
Protected still by God."
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, kindly given me by his grandson, the Hon. Chester Butler, of Wilkesbarre, from which this fac-simile 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.
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. (1) 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 out-flanking 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 out 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.(3)
1 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
2 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.
3 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 Pensu, hid himself among the willows upon Monocasy Island. His Tory brother, who had joined
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,
As if unearthly fiends had burst their bar;
While rapidly the marksman's shot prevail'd,
And aye, as if for death, some lonely trumpet wail'd."(1)
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,(3) assumed the office of executioner, and, using a maul and tomahawk alternately as she passed around the
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," be 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 Miner, p. 225.
1 Gertrude of Wyoming.
2 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.
3 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 Chemuug. 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
ring, singing the death-song, deliberately murdered the prisoners in consecutive order as they were arranged. The time was midnight, and, the scene being lighted up by a large fire burning near, she appeared like a very fury from Pandemonium while performing her bloody work. 'With the death of each victim her fury increased, and her song rose clearer and louder upon the midnight air. Two of the prisoners (Lebbeus Hammond and Joseph Elliot), seeing there was no hope, shook off the Indians who held them, and, with a desperate spring, fled to a thicket, amid the rifle-balls and tomahawks that were sent after them, and escaped. Similar scenes were enacted on other portions of the battle-field on that dreadful night, but we will draw a vail before the revolting picture, and view occurrences at Forty Fort, where the hopes of the settlement were now centered.
Terrible were the suspense and anxiety of the people at the fort while the battle was in progress. They could distinctly hear the firing, and, when the shots became fewer and nearer, hope departed, for they knew the Americans were dispersed and retreating. At twilight Captain John Franklin arrived at Forty Fort, with the Hunterdon and Salem company, of thirty-five men. It was a timely re-enforcement, and revived the hopes of the little remnant of Denison's force. The night was spent in sleepless vigilance and alarm by those within the forts, while the people without were flying to the mountains and the wilderness (July 4, 1778.) beyond, under cover of the darkness. Early the next morning a messenger was dispatched to Wilkesbarre Fort, to send up the cannon, and cause the whole settlement to concentrate for defense at Forty Fort. But all was confusion. The people Were flying in dismay, and leaving their homes a prey to the invaders. The messenger returned with his melancholy tidings just as another arrived from Colonel John Butler, demanding a surrender, and requesting Colonel Denison to come up to head-quarters, near the still burning ruins of Winter moot's Fort, to agree on terms of capitulation. Already the principal stockade at Pittston (Fort Brown) had surrendered, and, there being no hope of a successful defense, Colonel Denison complied. Colonel Butler demanded the surrender of all the forts, and also of Colonel Zebulon Butler and his Continental troops (numbering only fifteen men) as prisoners of war. Colonel Denison hastened back, by agreement, to consult with his brother officers. He conferred with Colonel Zebulon Butler at Wilkesbarre Fort, and it was agreed that the latter and his men should immediately retire from the valley. He placed Mrs. Butler behind him upon his horse, and that night they slept at Conyngham, in the Nescopeek Valley, twenty miles from Wilkesbarre. Colonel Denison, on returning, reported to the British leader that the Continentals were beyond his command, and negotiations were opened without reference to them. The terms were verbally agreed upon, but, there being no conveniences for writing at hand, the contracting parties went to Forty Fort, and, upon a table belonging to a Mr. Bennet, the terms of capitulation were drawn up and signed.(1)
guilty of the atrocities at Wyoming which history has attributed
to her. But Mr. Miner, whose means for correct information on points connected
with the history of Wyoming were much superior to those of Mr, Stone, clearly
fixes the guilt upon her. She was well known to Colonel Denison and Colonel
Franklin, and they both explicitly charge her with the deed. Two of her
sons accompanied her in the expedition, and it is said that her fury on
the occasion was excited by the death of one of them, in the fight that
occurred near Fort Jenkins on the 2d of July, the day before the battle
of Wyoming. She must have been then nearly eighty years of age. One of General
Sullivan's men, in his journal, cited by Minor, speaks of reaching "Queen
Esther's plantation" [Sheshequin], where she "dwelt in retirement
and sullen majesty. The ruins of her palace," he said, "are still
to be seen. In what we supposed to be the chapel we found an idol, which
might well be worshiped without violating the third commandment on account
of its likeness to any thing in heaven or on earth. About sunrise the general
gave orders for Catharinestown to be illuminated, and accordingly we had
a glorious bonfire of upward of thirty buildings." One of the sons
of Kate Montour, as she was familiarly called, was with Walter Butler at
Cherry V alley, and with his own hands captured Mr. Cannon, the father of
Mrs. Campbell, mentioned in our account of the invasion of that settlement,
The old man's life was spared, and he was taken to Niagara. Kate Montour
was there, and" was greatly enraged," says Stone, "because
her son had not killed him outright." This" exhibition of a savage
temper" is in accordance with her acts at Bloody Rock.
1 The following is a copy of the articles of capitulation, dated Westmoreland, July 4th, 1778 :
"ART. 1st. That the inhabitants of the settlement lay down their arms, and the garrisons be demolished,
Colonel Butler, ascertaining that there were several casks of whisky In the fort, ordered them to be rolled to the bank of the river and emptied, fearing that they might fall into the hands of the Indians and make them unmanageable.
Every thing being arranged, the two gates of the fort were thrown open. The arms of the patriots were piled up in the center, and the women and children retired within the huts that lined the interior of the stockade. At the appointed time the victors approached, with drums beating and colors flying. They came in two columns, whites and Indians. The former were led by Colonel John Butler, who entered the north gate, and the latter by Queen Esther, the bloody priestess of the midnight sacrifice. She was followed by Gi-en-gwa-tah, who, with his warriors, entered the south gate. The wily chief, fearing treachery, glanced quickly to the right and left as he entered. The Tories, with their natural instinct for plunder, immediately seized the piled arms. Butler ordered them to desist, and presented the muskets to the Indians. The inhabitants were then marked by the Indians with black paint in their faces, and ordered to carry a white cloth on a stick. These were badges which, the savages said, would insure their protection.
The terms of the capitulation were respected by the invaders, particularly the Indians, for a few hours only. Before night they spread through the valley, plundering the few people that were left, and burning the dwellings of those already gone to the wilderness. The village of Wilkesbarre, containing twenty-three houses, was burned, and the inhabitants, with others remaining in the valley, fled in dismay toward the mountains, whither a great number of their friends had gone during the night. Only one life(2) was taken after the surrender
"2d. That the inhabitants occupy their farms peaceably,
and the lives of the inhabitants be preserved entire and unhurt.
"3d. That the Continental stores be delivered up.
"4th. That Major Butler* will use his utmost influence that the private property of the inhabitants shall be preserved entire to them.
"5th. That the prisoners in Forty Fort be delivered up, and that Samuel Finch, now in Major Butler's possession, be delivered up also.
"6th. That the property taken from the people called Tories, up the river, be made good, and they to remain in peaceable possession of their farms, unmolested in a free trade in and throughout the state, as far as lies in my power.
"7th. That the inhabitants that Colonel Denison now capitulates for, together with himself, do not take up arms during the present contest.
"NATHAN DENISON --JOHN BUTLER.
"Zarah Beech, Samuel Gustin,
John Johnson, William Caldwell."
1 The table on which the capitulation was drawn up and signed was still in possession of a daughter of Mr. Bennet (Mrs. Myers) when I visited her in September, 1848. I shall have occasion to mention this venerable woman presently. The table is of black walnut, small, and of oval form, and was a pretty piece of furniture when new. It is preserved with much care by the family. The house of Mr. Bennet was near Forty Fort, and himself and family, with their most valuable effects, were within the stockade when it surrendered.
2 This was Sergeant Boyd, a deserter from the British army. Standing in the gateway of the fort after the capitulation, Colonel Butler recognized him, and said, sternly, "Boyd, go to that tree!" " I hope," said
* In all accounts of the war John Butler is denominated a colonel, while here he gives what was doubtless his true title. Lord George Germaine, in a dispatch to Sir Henry Clinton, gives him the rank of lieutenant colonel. This capitulation was highly honorable, and certainly affords a plea in favor of the merciful character of Butler claimed for him by his friends. In the transactions which subsequently took place he declared his inability to control the Indians. This may have been true. But no honorable man would have headed such an expedition; and whatever may have been his efforts to allay the whirlwind of destruction which he had raised, history bolds him responsible, next to his government, for the dreadful tragedy in Wyoming. The tories of his cruelties, set afloat by the flying fugitives from the valley, and incorporated in the histories of Gordon, Ramsay, and other early historians of the war, have been refuted by ample testimony, and proved to be the offspring of imaginations greatly excited by the terrors of the battle and flight. The story, that when Colonel Denison asked Butler upon what terms be would accept a surrender, he replied, "The hatchet," and tales of a kindred nature of cruelties permitted by him, have no foundation in truth.
of Forty Fort, but numbers of women and children perished in their flight in the great swamp of the Pocono Mountains, known as the Shades of Death, and along the wilderness paths by the way of the Wind-gap and Water-gap, to the settlements on the Lehigh and Delaware. So sudden was their departure, that scarcely a morsel of food was secured. Terrible indeed were the incidents of that flight, as related by the sufferers and their friends, and recorded by Chapman and Miner. "Tears gushed from the eyes of the aged widow of Mr. Cooper," says Mr. Miner, "when she related that her husband had lain on his face to lap up a little meal which a companion in their flight had spilled on the earth. Children were born, and several perished in the 'Dismal Swamp,' or 'Shades of Death,' as it is called to this day. Mrs. Treusdale was taken in labor; daring to delay but a few minutes, she was seen with her infant moving onward upon a horse. Jabez Fish, who was in the battle, escaped; but, not being able to join his family, was supposed to have fallen; and Mrs. Fish hastened with her children through the wilderness. Overcome by fatigue and want, her infant died. Sitting down a moment on a stone to see it draw its last breath, she gazed in its face with unutterable anguish. There were no means to dig a grave, and to leave it to be devoured by wolves seemed worse than death; so she took the dead babe in her arms and carried it twenty miles, when she came to a German settlement. Though poor, they gave her food; made a box for the child, attended her to the grave-yard, and decently buried it, kindly bidding her welcome until she should be rested.
"The wife of Ebenezer Marcy was taken in labor in the wilderness. Having no mode of conveyance, her sufferings were inexpressibly severe. She was able to drag her fainting steps but about two miles that day. The next, being overtaken by a neighbor with a horse, she rode, and in a week was more than a hundred miles with her infant from the place of its birth.
" Mrs. Rogers, from Plymouth, an aged woman, flying with her family, overcome by fatigue and sorrow, fainted in the wilderness, twenty miles from human habitation. She could take no nourishment, and soon died. They made a grave in the best manner they could. . . . . . . Mrs. Courtwright relates that she, then a young girl flying with her father's family, saw sitting by the road side a widow, who had learned the death of her husband. Six children were on the ground near her-thc group the very image of despair, for they were without food. Just at that moment a man was seen riding rapidly toward them from the settlements. It was Mr. Hollenback.(1) Foreseeing their probable destitution, he had providentially loaded his horse with bread, and was hastening back, like an angel of mercy, to their relief. Cries and tears of gratitude and welcome went up to heaven. He imparted a morsel to each, and hastened on to the relief of others.
" The widow of Anderson Dana, Esq.,(2) and her widowed daughter, Mrs. Whiton, did not learn certainly the death of their husbands until they were at Bullock's, on the mountain, ten miles on their way. Many then heard the fate of their relatives, and a messenger brought to Mr. Bullock word that both his sons were dead on the field. Then were heard mourning and lamentation, with wringing of hands. Mrs. Dana had been extraordinarily careful. Not only had she provided food, but had taken a pillow-case of valuable papers (her husband being much engaged in public business), the preservation of which has thrown much light on our path of research. Depending chiefly on charity, the family sought their ancient home in
Boyd, imploringly, "your honor will consider me a prisoner
of war." "Go to that tree, sir," shouted Butler. The sergeant
obeyed, and a volley from some Indian marksmen laid him dead upon the spot.
1 Mr. Hollenback survived the battle, and escaped by swimming the river at Monocasy Island. He crossed the mountains to the settlements in advance of the fugitives.
2 Anderson Dana was from Ashford, Windham county, Connecticut. He was a lawyer of good attainments; his talents and zeal, in the promotion of the welfare of the Wyoming settlement, obtained from the people their unanimous suffrage, and he was elected a member of the Connecticut Assembly. Returning home when Wyoming was threatened, he mounted his horse', and, riding from family to family throughout the valley, aroused the people to action, and, though exempt from military duty, hastened to the field and fell. His son-in-law, Stephen Whiton, but a few weeks married, also went into the battle and was slain.
Connecticut. These few instances, selected from a hundred, will present some idea of the dreadful flight."(1)
What a picture did that flight present! No embellishment of fancy is needed to give it effect. One hundred women and children, with but a single man to guide and protect them, are seen, in the wildest terror, hurrying to the mountains. " Let the mind picture to itself a single group, flying from the valley to the mountains on the east, and climbing the steep ascent; hurrying onward, filled with terror, despair, and sorrow; the affrighted mother, whose husband has fallen, with an infant on her bosom, a child by the hand, an aged parent slowly climbing the rugged steep behind them; hunger presses them severely; in the rustling of every leaf they hear the approaching savage; a deep and dreary wilderness before them, the valley all in flames behind; their dwellings and harvests all swept away in this spring flood of ruin, and the star of hope quenched in this blood shower of savage vengeance."(2)
From the settlements on the Delaware the fugitives made their way to Connecticut by various routes, and the tales of horror of a few who crossed the Hudson at Poughkeepsie were published in a newspaper printed there. The account of the atrocities therein related was repeated every where in America and in Europe, and, remaining uncontradicted, formed the material for the darkest chapter in the annals of the Revolution, as recorded by the earlier historians. No doubt the fugitives believed they were telling truths. The battle, the devastation of the valley, and the flight across the wilderness were matters of their own experience; and other refugees, joining them in their flight, added their various recitals to the general narrative of woe. We will not stop to detail what has been erroneously written. The pages of Gordon, Ramsay, and Botta will satisfy those who wish to "sup on horrors." The researches of Mr. Minor have obliterated half the stain which those recitals cast upon human nature, and we should rejoice at the result, for the honor of the race. It is but just to the memory of the dead to say, in passing, that the conduct of Colonels Zebulon Butler and Nathan Denison(3) on the occasion has been falsely represented, and injustice done to their characters. All that could be done was done by those brave and devoted men.
Our story of the disaster in Wyoming is almost ended. Although alarm and distress prevailed there until the close of the war, there were no hostilities of greater moment than the menaces of savages and a few skirmishes with marauders. But, before closing the historic tome, let us briefly glance at the events in the valley which followed the surrender of the forts and the flight of the people.
As we have seen, the terms of capitulation were broken by the invaders within a few hours after the treaty was signed, and the houses of the people and fields of waving grain were plundered and destroyed. The Indians began by breaking open the trunks and boxes in the huts of the surrendered fort. The town papers were scattered, and many valuable records were destroyed. Colonel Denison called upon Butler repeatedly to enforce the terms of capitulation by restraining the Indians. Butler did, indeed, attempt to restrain them, but they utterly disregarded his orders. At length, finding his authority set at naught, doubt. less considering his own life in danger should he attempt harsh measures of control, and probably fearing greater enormities on the part of the Indians, Butler withdrew from the (July 8, 1778.) valley.(4) Gi-en-gwa-tah interposed his authority, and a greater part of the Indians
1 History of Wyoming, p. 230.
2 The Hazleton Travelers. This is not a volume, but a series of biographical and historical sketches by Charles Miner, Esq., in the form of colloquies between two travelers from Hazleton. They were published in the Wyoming Republican in 1837-8. They are admirably conceived and written, and contain vivid pictures of the character and sufferings of the people of Wyoming during the Revolution.
3 Colonel Nathan Denison was a native of New London, Connecticut, and was one of the early settlers in Wyoming. He was well educated, and was an active man in the valley. After the close of the war he held several important offices under the authority of Pennsylvania. He died January 25th, 1809, aged sixty-eight years.
4 Mr. Miner gives Colonel Butler full credit for humane intentions, and believes that he desired to regard faithfully the terms of the capitulation, and that he made the most earnest endeavors to prevent the pillage and murders which ensued. On the authority of a Mr. Finch, a prisoner at the time, who went over the
followed the leaders, with Queen Esther and her retinue in the van. The appearance of the retiring enemy was extremely ludicrous, aside from the melancholy savageism that was presented. Many squaws accompanied the invaders, and these brought up the rear. Some had belts around their waists, made of scalps stretched upon small hoops; some had on from four to six dresses of chintz or silk, one over the other; and others, mounted on stolen horses, and seated, "not sidewise, but otherwise," had on their heads four or five bonnets, one within another.
As soon as Butler and the main body of the invaders left the valley, the Indians that remained, wholly uncontrolled, swept over the plains in small bands of from five to ten, and wantonly destroyed the crops, burned houses and barns, and treated the few remaining people most cruelly.(1) Several murders were committed, and terror again reigned in the valley. Colonel Denison, and all who remained at Forty Fort, fled, some down the river and some to the mountains. Except a few who gathered about the fort at Wilkesbarre, the whole people abandoned the settlement. It presented one wide scene of conflagration and ruin.
Captain Spalding was between the Pocono and Blue Mountains, nearly fifty miles from Wilkes barre, on the day of the battle. Apprised of the event by the flying settlers, he hastened forward, and when within twelve miles of the valley sent two scouts to reconnoiter. From the brow of the mountain they saw the flames rising in all directions, and the valley in complete possession of the invaders. The efforts of a single company would be vain, and Captain Spalding returned to Stroudsburg, to await the orders of Colonel Zebulon Butler, (a August 3, 1778.) who soon returned to Wyoming. When the enemy had left the valley, Spalding marched thither, and took up his quarters at Wilkesbarre Fort," which he strengthened. Other means for the defense of the valley were adopted, and a few of those who had fled returned, with the hope of securing something that might be left of all their desolated possessions. Some of them were waylaid and shot by straggling Indians and Tories. There was no security; throughout that fertile valley fire was the only reaper, and the luscious fruits fell to the earth ungathered. Even the dead upon the battle-ground lay unburied until the autumn frosts had come; and when their mutilated and shriveled bodies were collected and cast into one common receptacle of earth, but few could be identified. (October 22.) That sad office was performed by guarded laborers, while parties of the enemy, like hungry vultures, scented their prey from afar, and hovered upon the mountains, ready to descend upon the stricken settlers when opportunity should offer.
Colonel Hartly, of the Pennsylvania line, joined Colonel Zebulon Butler, and an expedition was arranged to expel the marauders. In September a detachment of one hundred and thirty men marched to Shesequin, Queen Esther's plantation, a beautiful plain on the east branch of the Susquehanna (now in Bradford county), where a battle ensued. Several of
battle-ground with Mr. Miner in 1838, he says that Colonel
Butler received a letter on the 5th, which hastened his departure from the
valley. It probably gave him notice of the approach of Captain Spalding
or some other expected re-enforcements. Mr. Miner tells an amusing anecdote
of Finch. They called together upon Mrs. Jenkins, an aged lady, more than
eighty years old, who was a prisoner in Forty Fort. She instantly recognized
Finch, and said, with much archness and humor, "Oh, yes, Finch, to
be sure I remember you. An old squaw took you and brought you in. She found
you in the bushes, and, as she drove you along, patted you on the back,
saying, 'My son, my son!' " Finch did not relish the exposure as well
as the by-standers. He had been playing the hero in his account of the battle.
Mrs. Jenkins stripped him of his plumage, and he soon after left the valley.
1 One illustrative instance I will mention. From the farm of an old man named Weekes, seven persons, three of whom were his sons, one a grandson-in-law, two relatives, and the last a boarder, went out to the battle. At night the whole seven lay dead on the field! After the capitulation, a band of Indians came to his house and ordered him away. " How can I?" he said; "my whole family you have killed. How can I with fourteen grandchildren, all young and helpless." They feasted on the food in his house; and one of the Indians, taking the hat from the old man's head, and placing himself in a large rocking. chair which he had taken to the road, rocked with much glee. They then informed him that he might have three days allowed him to prepare for departure, and the use of a pair of oxen and a wagon to carry away his grandchildren. He departed, and the savages set fire to the building, and destroyed all that was left. Over the rough country along the Lackawanna Mr. Weekes made his way to Orange county.-See Miner's Wyoming, p. 238, and Hazleton Travelers.
the Indians were killed, their settlement was broken up, and a quantity of plunder that had been taken from Wyoming was recovered. Returning to Wyoming, Colonel Hartly was called away, but left a garrison of one hundred men at Wilkesbarre Fort. Thus defended, although the season was much advanced, a few armed settlers plowed and sowed. Marauding parties of the enemy still hovered upon the mountains, and several of the whites were murdered in their fields, among whom was Jonathan Slocum, a member of the Society of Friends. The interesting story of the abduction of his little daughter, and her subsequent discovery among the Indians, will be related in the next chapter.
In March, 1779, the garrison at Wilkesbarre was menaced by a party of about two hundred and fifty Indians and painted Tories, who surrounded the fort. The discharge of a field piece drove them away, but, the garrison being too feeble to attempt a pursuit, the marauders carried off much plunder, not, however, without suffering considerably in some smart skirmishes with the inhabitants. In April a re-enforcement for the garrison, under Major Powell, while marching toward Wyoming, fell into an Indian ambuscade. (April 30.) Six of his men were killed, but the Indians were routed.
Toward the close of June, General Sullivan arrived in the valley, with his division of the army destined for the invasion of the Seneca country, the events of which have been narrated in a preceding chapter. The troops had rendezvoused at Easton, and marched to Wyoming by the way of the present turnpike. They arrived on the 23d of June, and encamped on the flats below Wilkesbarre. A large fleet of boats, that had been prepared in the lower waters of the Susquehanna, arrived, with provisions and stores, on the 24th. We have seen that Sullivan's movements were remarkably slow, and that the enemy became perfectly acquainted with his strength and his plans before he reached Tioga. The Indians, guided by the mind of Brant, tried to divert the attention of Sullivan by attacks upon his outposts.(1) Several of these occurred, but the American force was too large to be much affected by them, and on the 31st of July the tents were struck, and the whole army, with martial music and the thunder of cannon, moved up the Susquehanna, proceeding on the east side. (1779.) As the fleet of boats approached Monocasy Island and the battle-ground, the lively music of fife and drum was changed to a solemn dirge, in honor of the patriot dead. The army encamped the first night a little above Pittston, near the confluence of the Susquehanna and Lackawanna Rivers. On the 5th it arrived at Wyalusing, on the 9th at Queen Esther's Plains (Shesequin), and on the 11th reached Tioga Point. The remainder (August.) of the story of the expedition has already been told.
As soon as the American army was gone, the Indians and Tories came prowling upon the borders of the valley, and, until peace was proclaimed, the settlers had not an hour of repose. "Revenge upon Wyoming," says Stone, "seemed a cherished luxury to the infuriated savages, hovering upon her outskirts upon every side. It was a scene of war, blood, and suffering. . . . . . . In the course of this harassing warfare there were many severe skirmishes, several heroic risings of prisoners upon their Indian captors, and many hair-breadth escapes.'" It would require a volume to detail them, and the reader, desirous of more minute information, is referred to the works of Chapman, Miner, and Stone. I have other and broader regions to traverse and explore, and other pages of our wondrous history to open and recite. Let us close the book for the present, and ramble a while along the banks of the Susquehanna, where the tragedy we have been considering was enacted, but where now the smiles of peace, prosperity, and repose gladden the heart of the dweller and the stranger.
1 The boldness of the Indians was remarkable. Although
the Americans in camp were three thousand strong, they approached within
two or three miles of the tents, and committed murders.
2 History of Wyoming p. 206.
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