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|History of Elmira, Horseheads
And the Chemung Valley,
With Sketches of the Churches, Schools,
Societies, Rail Roads, Manufacturing Companies, etc., etc.
Directory & Business Advertiser For 1868.
Compiled and Published by
A. G. Galatian & Co.
A. B. Galatian, Wheeler & Watts.
Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1868, by A. B. Galatian & Co., in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the Northern District of New York.
Wheeler & Watts, Book & Job Printers.
We feel under many sincere obligations to our friends who have so kindly assisted us in furnishing material for our work, and to others who have aided us, and in various ways encouraged the enterprise. We also acknowledge our appreciation of the encouragement afforded us by our business men.
The Directory, hereafter, will be issued regularly, every year, adding new and important features, and changing the typographical appearance, although we do not think the style can be improved very much. This is the largest work ever issued in Elmira, and does credit to Messrs. Wheeler & Watts, at whose establishment this book was printed. Their facilities for all kinds of Book & Job Printing and unequaled in this part of the State.
Elmira, July 1st, 1868. THE PUBLISHERS.
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF ELMIRA AND THE CHEMUNG VALLEY.
From the earliest annals, the Valley of the Chemung seems to have been a thoroughfare for the movements of the Red Man, from the time they first occupied this portion of the country, to the day the last form of an aborigine faded away on the western horizon. It was on the great through war path leading from Niagara Falls or Canada, to the beautiful and matchless Valley of Wyoming, and along the Susquehanna, to the abodes of the powerful Delawares of the vast interior country bordering upon the present Southern States. The early traditions disclose that the conquering Iroquois, ascending along the Ohio, had come into possession of Western New York, and far-and-wide, as the all-conquering aboriginal hunter-race had extended their conquests, until they were a name of terror to all weaker tribes. They had formed a compact with the Tuscaroras, and the Six Nations, by which was added the most advanced civilization to their possessions ever attained by red men.
The expedition of SULLIVAN found Indian lands which had been cultivated for years. The orchards showed ages of growth; the soil exhibited that high degree of cultivation; the variety of products illustrated that advanced agricultural knowledge which had been practiced, in the strangest contrast to the habits of the warrior race, the new allies of the Tuscaroras. These signs of civilization, so at war with Indian thriftlessness and nomadic habits, proved an early acquaintance with the customs of the earliest white settlers of America, or with the traditions which had spread from the whites to the Indians of the vast interior. Their system of cultivation was rude, but far superior to any known at that time among the other Indian occupants of the country.
Of the Six Nations, the Senecas laid especial claim to the country of the Chemung Valley. From their council house near Havana, the renowned CANADESAGA issued his edicts, which were as rigidly obeyed as those of the most imposing monarch of his throne. Later, after the union of the tribes, and at the time of SULLIVAN’s expedition, the country between the Chemung River and Seneca Lake was occupied by remnants or portions of the Senecas, Cayugas and Tuscaroras; and CANADESAGA, by the natural disintegration of power which was extending over these tribes, was shorn of much of his former prestige and sway.
SOME ANCIENT LANDMARKS.
At this stage it may be well to pause a moment, and remark, that from the earliest traditions, going back to the farthest historic period known in relation to the American Continent, that four great empires have borne sway over this region. The latest were the Iroquois, who held rule over all the broad forest lands that hereabout divided the waters of a continent, one flowing toward the Father of Waters, and the other toward the lordly Susquehanna and the imperial Chesapeake. This unrivalled Indian Confederation, for conquest and superior intelligence, with the growth of 300 years, reached the culmination at the period of the Revolution. And yet this was preceded by an empire of still older date, which, in some unknown period of the past, held this position of the continent and regions adjacent, with imperial authority. Their traces are perpetuated only in existing monuments, which are shown in the mounds and military earthworks scattered along the great thoroughfares of ancient intercourse, including the tract of country roamed over and held by the Iroquois. On the eminence about two miles west of this city, known as Fort Hill, is probably one of these landmarks of the far-distant past, or at least of the earliest wars between the French and Iroquois. But the Indian traditions, according to Col. HENDY, the first white settler in the valley, could not account for its purpose or inform at what period the work was built. This would lead one to suppose that its existence dates back, anterior to the incursions of the French from Canada into the Iroquois country. This eminence is on the north side of the Chemung River, while the opposite side is bordered by a deep ravine, forming quite a precipitous hill. In modern times, a mill dam across the river just below, expanded it into a broad, deep bay in front, which swept gracefully around the bold, outjutting headland, and the silvery sheen of the waters formed a marked contrast with the deep, umbrageous green of the thick forest and underwood which covered the hill. Just near at hand was the long occupied residence of DAVE ROORIC, who brought up a large family of sons and daughters upon the spot, and with considerable industry subdued and cultivated the soil round about. The old earthwork is an embankment, about 14 or 15 feet wide at its base, and three feet in elevation, extends from the brow of the ravine in a northern direction, to the summit of the bank, resting on the river, and is some 200 feet in length. This artificial wall of earth has an outer ditch, together with two slight trenches running parallel with the ancient bastion, across the entire width of this bold eminence. There can be no doubt that the construction was made for warlike purposes, but indicates a more recent period than similar "Ancient Works of Western New York." It occupies an admirable position for defense, and can only be approached in one direction, and evinces quite a knowledge of strategic art in the erection of a defensive earthwork. This is only one of a series of ancient earthworks located on the tributary streams of the Susquehanna and Delaware. Co-incident with these, are, probably, the Indian mounds found in other portions of the State.
It is to be regretted that some competent and zealous archaeologist does not devote investigations to these fast-perishing memorials of a once-powerful, ancient empire, and rescue from oblivion the only traces which can conduct to the occupancy of a former race, which held possession of the soil. The investigation should embrace all the available archaeological, ethnological and historical relations of the subject. No more interesting chapter could be made up of the annals of the past, and throw a clearer light upon the age of the "Mound builders."- The investigation might be the means of making up the lost links of a misty record of the past nations, who inhabited before the Columbian period, in the history of this continent.
The earliest coming of the white man in this Valley is not authenticated. Possibly the early French missionaries, in their peregrinations and labors, of stern vows and holy duty, were first to set foot amid the virgin wilderness which clothed the banks of the Chemung. Some of the early French invaders, who overrun the country of the Iroquois, undoubtedly penetrated along the water courses of this and connecting streams, which seem to have been made the avenues of frequent intercourse among the aborigines as well as invading natives.
The fierce BRANDT and bloody-hearted Queen ESTHER, undoubtedly, oft gilded swiftly up and down these rivers, with their swarthy warriors, bent on deeds of blood. The meeting of contending braves, and the fierce contests for tribal supremacy more than once disturbed the calm, unruffled waters, which now so placidly flow past our doors. It was a lovely valley, even then, with its forest growth; it was in extent broader and more capacious than other valleys, and foreshadowed a future fertility and prosperity, now everywhere marked by the pleasant hum of agricultural and mechanical industry.
The first appearance of white men, who were thereafter to lay the first foundation of civilization hereabouts, came with SULLIVAN’s expedition. The terrible massacre of Wyoming had occurred July 3d, 1778, and the wail of that great sorrow and crushing bereavement had gone up through the whole settled country. It was a threat, that our defenceless frontiers were to be exposed to similar ravages and depopulation, unless the fierce hate of BRANDT & QUEEN ESTHER, and their warrior myrmidons, should suffer a retribution that would leave a lasting impression of the power and prestige of the whites. The plan of subjection was devised and approved by the most prudent and most honored generals of the American army, even WASHINGTON himself. Nothing but the manifest necessity or vital importance of teaching the Indians a long-remembered lesson, would ever have induced one so humane and characteristically chary of their interests to consent to a retribution so fearful. His sagacious and comprehensive mind organized the campaign as the decisive defense against future Indian hostility, and carried on the war in the only method by which it could be successfully waged. It was not in accordance with strict European tactics, but, on the contrary, adapted to the Indian manner of fighting, pursuing them to their strongholds, burning their towns and destroying their means of subsistence. The command of the expedition was tendered by Gen. SULLIVAN, by abandoning the original intention of proffering it to Gen. GATES. Gen. SULLIVAN was born in Berwick, Maine, in 1740. Here he reached mature years, fitted himself for the law and removed to New Hampshire. He was chosen delegate to the first Continental Congress, and afterward engaged in the command of the expedition against Fort William and Mary, at Portsmouth, and was successful in capturing it. He was one of the eight Brigadier Generals appointed by Congress in 1775, and in 1776 was promoted as a Major General in the Continental Army. He took an active part in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown in 1777, and during the next winter of 1777-8 assumed command of the troops of Rhode Island, and conducted the expedition against Newport in August, 1778. For his active zeal and hearty co-operation the Rhode Island Assembly, in February, 1779, shown in Vol. VIII of the records of that State, voted their thanks to Gen. SULLIVAN "in consideration of the active zeal with which he hath exerted the forces under him, for the preservation of this State and the security of its inhabitants." The history of Gen. SULLIVAN previous to taking command of his famous expedition, is thus briefly told. It was regarded one of great importance, for it was expected that his army would overthrow the powerful confederacy of the Iroquois, which had ever successfully resisted the supremacy of the English arms, and now their allies; had waged one of the fiercest and most unrelenting warfares along the border settlements, desolating German Flatts, Fort Plum, Stony Arabia, Cherry Valley, Unadilla, Minisink and other places in Tryon and Ulster counties. All these towns bore most important parts in the annals of the revolution, through suffering deeds of rapine and blood, inflicted by the all-powerful Iroquois. At the onset, Gen. SULLIVAN submitted his conclusion very lucidly to the judgment of WASHINGTON, in a communication bearing date April 16, 1779, and but little change was made on the warfare proposed, the opinions being adopted as the groundwork of the campaign. This paper has been preserved in SHARP’s correspondence of the revolution, Page 264, Vol. II, and the results of the campaign proved the admirable foresight, the superior military skill and the execution of the officers, who took a part in the expedition against the Six Nations. It was at last planned, that the principal division of the army should be placed under the immediate command of Gen. SULLIVAN, and proceed up the Susquehanna river to the junction with the Tioga, (now Chemung), where another division would join it under Gen. JAMES CLINTON, and then the combined forces should march for the Indian country. It may be proper to remark that Gen. JAMES CLINTON was born in Ulster County in 1736. At the early age of 20 he had gained the rank of Captain, and took a gallant part in the assault on Fort Fontenac. He was promoted to a Coloneley for gallant services in 1775, and aided, by his presence, in Gen. MONTGOMERY’s expedition against Canada. In 1776 he attained the higher grade of Brigadier General, and was engaged in active military service up in 1779, when he was associated with the SULLIVAN’s expedition. The opposing forces to this expedition, which was the largest and best planned of any ever made against the Indians, were marshalled under the immediate direction of SIR WILLIAM JOHNSON, who, after the final defeat of the French by the English, and the establishment of the latter’s ascendency over the Iroquois, became the representative of the English monarch over a vast region. He both obtained and exercised an unrivalled influence over the Indians, and held them in awe by the magnificent appointments he gathered around his baronial hall near Johnstown, New York. During a long term of years, he lived amid the opulence, splendor and luxuries of the most lordly baron of England, in the middle ages. Johnson Hall was the only real imitation of an English baronial residence ever erected in this country. From this the occupant yielded an imperial power, which was felt and acknowledged far and wide over the wild country of the red men. Here was planned, with the most subtle and cunning Indian art, aided by the most skillful tactics of modern warfare, the campaign to oppose the raid about to be made by Gen. SULLIVAN. The most eminent British chieftains, noted in Indian warfare, lent their presence. SIR WILLIAM JOHNSON, Col. GUY JOHNSON, Col. JOHN BUTLER, and the haughty, imperious Iroquois chiefs, THAYENDANAGA, the monster BRANDT, CORN PLANTER and RED JACKET. In the hour of sudden emergency, these leaders assembled to take command of the British and Indian forces, composing about 200 English troops and 1300 Iroquois. It was against such a force, ably commanded, well entrenched and fighting on its own ground, that the expedition under Gen. SULLIVAN took up its march.
On the first of May, 1779, the 2nd and 4th New York Regiments broke up their camp near the Hudson, and proceeding through Warwarsing, reached the Delaware river on the 9th. Crossing the Delaware, they marched down the west branch to Easton, where they met their baggage and stores. From this point they proceeded towards Wyoming, where they arrived June 17th. There was much delay on account of impassable roads, which they were compelled to open through virgin forests and miry swamps, sometimes offering almost insurmountable obstacles, for many miles of the march. Gen. SULLIVAN arrived to take command on the 24th.
On July 31st, everything being in readiness, the army took up its march for the Indian settlements. The stores and artillery were pulled or drawn up the Susquehanna, in 150 boats. An eye witness states: "The boats formed a beautiful appearance as they moved in order from their moorings, and as they passed the fort received a grand salute, which was returned by the loud cheers of the boatmen. The whole scene formed a military display surpassing any which had ever been ever exhibited at Wyoming; and was well calculated to form a powerful impression upon the minds of those lurking parties of savages which still continued to roam over the mountains, from which all their movements were visible for many miles."
On the 11th of August, with no more than the expected obstacles of a march through a country unsettled, only with a backwoodsman here and there, the army arrived at Tioga, and formed an encampment at the forks of the Susquehanna and the present Chemung. On the next day a detachment was pushed forward to Chemung, 12 miles distant, where the Indians appeared in force, and attacked them, causing a loss of seven men killed and wounded. The force held its ground, and on the next day burned the village situated on what is now known as McDowel’s Flats, and returned to Tioga. On the narrow isthmus of land which separates the Susquehanna and Chemung by about a stone’s throw, and about a mile above the junction was built Fort Sullivan, a protection to the army which lay below it, isolated thus as much as if it was encamped on an island.
Another account of the first reconnoitering against the Indians states: That immediately on the arrival of Gen. SULLIVAN at Tioga, on the 11th of August, he sent off a small party to reconnoitre the enemy’s position. The scouting detachment returned the succeeding day, and reported, according to HUBLEY’s journal, that they had made several discoveries at Chemung, an Indian village 16 miles distant from where the army lay. It was at once resolved to destroy the village, and the main army under Gen. SULLIVAN began its march thither, but on account of the darkness of the night, did not reach the town until the next morning, August 13th. The village was found evacuated on the approach of the army, and the vanguard had advanced about a mile beyond, when they discovered the Indians occupying a lofty hill on the east bank of the Chemung. The American force at once made a vigorous attack on the position, from which the steady and persistent bravery of our troops succeeded in dislodging the Indians, who were compelled to retreat precipitately, carrying their wounded and dead warriors with them, while the Americans suffered a loss of seven killed and ten wounded--the first sacrifices the enemy had made. The large and flourishing Indian village at Chemung was then reduced to ashes, and the army returned to Tioga.
While the main army under Gen. SULLIVAN was waiting at Tioga, the division under Gen. CLINTON joined it. The General, with the First and Second New York Regiments, had passed up the Mohawk from Albany to Canajoharie, with 1,500 troops, divided into five brigades.--On the 17th of June he took up his march up the valley of the Canajoharie Creek, across a dividing bridge, to the head of Otsego Lake. From Canajoharie he sent off a detached expedition against the Onondaga Indians. The opening of the road, from Canajoharie to the Otsego Lake, had been attended with great labor and many difficulties. He was compelled to carry his boats across in wagons, a distance of about 20 miles, and it was mid-summer before he found his army and baggage collected at the head of the lake, ready to take passage in boats. This beautiful inland lake, one of the most notable in our interior State, made thus by the enchanting pen of the great American novelist, COOPER, is nine miles in length, and varies in width from one to three miles. It has an elevation of 1,193 feet, and is almost surrounded by high land. The waters in some portions are deep and clear, which the Indians designate "Otsego." The outlet is narrow, and the stream exceedingly meager in a dry season. At the time of the visit of Gen. CLINTON’s army, the lake, owing to the prevalent dry season, would not admit of the passage of the boats, amounting to 220 bateaux, and carrying a park of artillery, and provisions for the army. Gen. CLINTON, of ready resources, decided to build a dam across the outlet, by which the waters would be raised several feet. A party was sent forward to clear the outlet of driftwood; and when the boats had all safely rendezvoused at the foot of the lake, the dam was cut; and upon the accumulated waters raised to flood tide, the flotilla swiftly glided down to its destination. The few scattered inhabitants along the stream fled in dismay, being unable to understand the cause of such a flood, when no rains had fallen, and in the midst of a dry season. The waters at Tioga set far back up the west branch or Chemung. The division arrived there on the 22d of August.--The whole force under Gen. SULLIVAN now comprised the brigades commanded by Generals HAND, MAXWELL, CLINTON, POOR, PROCTOR’s Artillery, and a corps of Riflemen--in all, between 4-5000 men.
On the 26th of August, the army, which was formidable indeed for that early day, taking into account the numbers of the enemy, moved from Tioga up the River Chemung in excellent order. Their progress was slow, and Indian precaution was used to guard against surprise.--Large flanking parties were flung out on either side, and riflemen and scouts were kept forward. The Rifle Corps, commanded by Major PARR, formed the advanced guard--the brigades of Generals HAND, MAXWELL, PARR, and PROCTOR’s Artillery, forming the central column, or constituting the main body of the army, while Gen. CLINTON’s division protected and brought up the rear. On the first day, the army only accomplished three miles, and then encamped for the night. On the following day it advanced six miles, and formed a strictly guarded encampment, fearing a surprise from the Indians at any moment. On the third day, the march was much impeded by difficult routes, and by the detachment of Gen. MAXWELL’s brigade to cross to the other bank of the river. Yet the army reached Chemung, and destroyed the settlement and grain stored there. On the next morning, the 29th, the advance, proceeding, fell in with the enemy near NEWTOWN, and only a little distant from the mouth of Butler’s Creek, (now Baldwin’s Creek.) This was near the ridge where the action of the 13th began.
BATTLE OF CHEMUNG.
The Indians and Tories, 1300 of the former and 200 of the latter, were under command of the notorious BUTLER and the Indian BRANDT. Upon the appearance of the American vanguard under Major PARR, they retreated, with some severe reconnoitering and skirmishing, about a mile, and joined a large force of warriors artfully concealed behind extensive breastworks. These were covered from view by trees and boughs cut with the full vernal foliage, and skillfully planted in front of the fortification. The position had been admirably selected for Indian warfare, showing much strategic knowledge and military art. It occupied the east side of a considerable bend in the river. The extreme right rested on the stream, while the circuitons and rapid current well protected them from surprise behind; the left rested upon the precipitous base of a lofty hill. The extent of the entire work was half a mile in length. Within a short distance slumbered one of those islands for which the Chemung is noted in its course through the valley, which in its summer bloom and umbrageous foliage of trees, was almost an enchanted and fairy paradise. It lay amid the hazy sunlight of the long summer day, magnificent in sylvan hues, soon to change to dissolving shades of autumn, the gorgeous crimson, purple and gold of the evanescent year. A vigorous and spirited skirmishing preceded the retirement of the enemy behind their breastworks, having been driven from their position by the artillery. The reconnoitering force fell back, and a general advance of the army followed. The light corps under Gen. HAND went forward within 300 yards of the enemy’s entrenchments; and Gen. SULLIVAN arriving on the ground, ordered the Rifle Corps, under Gen. HAND, to assault the enemy’s works in front, while Generals CLINTON and POOR’s brigades were directed to storm and attempt to turn the left flank of the British and Indians stationed along the steep hill, in that direction, and Col. PROCTOR to support the attack with artillery, while Gen. MAXWELL’s command was held in reserve. These judicious orders were obeyed with the greatest alacrity, with promptness, bravery and vigor.--The light troops made an undaunted and intrepid charge on the British veterans and the savage Indian warriors, who fought on their "native heath" and with the peculiar method of concealment and shelter behind the formidable breastworks, rocks, thickets, stumps, trees, fallen logs, and underbrush, usual to their cunning warfare. These kept up an incessant fire on the brave American columns, who fought with unremitting heroism and deeds of valor, varied with success and discomfiture, for two long, anxious hours. The Iroquois were animated by the very spirit of friends, inspired by the presence and inspiring cries of BRANDT. He was a demon incarnate, who ranged throughout every portion of the ensanguined field, arousing by words and fearless exertions. They held their position with unequalled obstinacy, and the portion of the enemy along the hill fought with great valor. They beat back the assaults of the gallant legions led by CLINTON and POOR, step by step and inch by inch, and at last gave up their rocky fastnesses at the point of the bayonet. The battle had waged furiously on every part of the field for hours, and the day was fast waning. The embattled legions still struggled as if it were a final contest. And it seemed as if darkness alone would determine the day in favor of the unvanquished Iroquois. They fought, as did their British allies, with a bravery worthy of a better cause. From every tufted shrub and thicket, they sent the swift messengers of death; and the American columns halted, faltered for a moment--when, above their battered ranks, legend hath it, the form of an absent wife, with a babe clasped to her bosom, shielding it from the bloody tomahawk, seemed, in vision, to hover over them. The sight was inspiriting. The wearied, faltering ranks, accepted the omen: and with a new-gained courage the serried columns again advanced to the charge. The clash of contending arms and the hand-to-hand conflict, the bayonet thrust and parrying, everywhere prevailed over the field. The artillery poured a constant cannonade upon the ranks of the enemy, and amid the smoke and fire, the stirring strains of the fife and drum urged on the American combatants. Their steady valor and persistent obstinacy fast told on the enemy, whose ranks now hesitated and wavered, and then broke in a wild retreat. High over the battle field arose the shrill wailing cry of BRANDT-- "Oonah! Oonah!"-- the dirge of the Iroquois, whose prestige and greatness, long so gallantly upborne, had now departed forever. The courage of invincible warriors was effectually broken, and among all their own and allies’ ranks, arose dire panic and confusion.
It is said that, had not the enemy been advised of the flanking movement of the brigades of CLINTON, POOR and HAND, by the timely discovery of the sharp-sighted BRANDT, who ordered a retreat, they would have been effectually surrounded, and few would have escaped to tell the tale. Nine Indian dead were found on the field. The rest of the wounded and dead were borne away on the retreat. The Americans lost three killed, and 34 wounded, among whom were Major TITCOMB, Capt. CLAYES, Lieut. McCALLY, (who died of his wounds), and Ensign THOMAS BALDWIN. Only two prisoners were taken, but from them was gained the knowledge of the force and intention of the enemy. It was a terrible disappointment to the Indians, for they had treated with scorn the idea from well-formed past experience, that a regular army could penetrate the country, contend with them on their own ground, and finally drive them from their forest fastnesses. The immediate movements and disposition of the American Army immediately after the battle, are graphically described in the journal of Col. GAINSVOORT:
"August 29th, 1779.--This night encamped on the field of battle.
"30th.--Remained on the ground. Large detachments sent off this morning, to destroy the corn and beans about the place--which was not half done. This evening, sent off our wounded, heavy artillery and wagons, down the river to Tioga; these boats brought forward such stores as could not be loaded on pack horses. This day put on half allowance.
"August 31st.--Decamped at 8 o’clock. Marched over mountains ground, until we arrived at the forks of Newtown, (a point at the present junction of the Newtown Creek and Chemung River, near the Arnot Mills, just east of the city,) there entered upon a low bottom, crossed the Kayuga branch, (now Newtown Creek), and encamped on a pine plain; much good land about Newtown. Here we left the Tioga branch on our left.
"September 1st.--Decamped early in the morning. Marched about three miles, and entered a swamp eight or nine miles across; roads very bad, and no pasture here. The army made a forced march and arrived that night at dark, at Catherine’s Town."
THE PLACE OF THE BATTLE
The exact place of the battle of the Chemung seems to be fixed by the journals of the various officers who took part in the expedition, and other documents which have been preserved. These indicate that the battle took place 13 or 14 miles from Tioga, and seven or eight below this city. One journal states that the army advanced after the battle, 4 ½ miles beyond the encampment it had made on the evening of August 27th, through a mountainous country, in an almost continuous defile along the east side of the Kayuga branch thus crossed, where it forks with a stream running east and west, and came on a piece of country remarkably level, and afterwards proceeded along the path leading to Catharine’s Town. This description helps to fix the position of the ground. And in the Colonial History of New York, it is stated that Gen. SULLIVAN’s action with the Indians took place at Middletown, and gives the distances traversed by the army: 12 miles to Chemung, three to Middletown, nine to Newtown, and 18 to Catherine Town. These distances agree well with the present distances--18 miles to Havana from the city of Elmira, and nine miles from the city to the battlefield. The spot is fixed by further evidence afforded in Major MAXWELL’s narrative, referring to Gen. SULLIVAN’s battles with the Indians. It runs thus:
"We commenced ranging over the same ground, and passed over on the Susquehanna River, where Col. WILLETT received a letter from Gen. SULLIVAN, requesting him to send me to him, then near Valley Forge, to guide him to the Six Nations, in the Genesee country. I went on accordingly, and joined Gen. SULLIVAN at Tioga Point. We started with the intention of going to Queen Catherine’s Town, on the south end of Seneca Lake. We went up the Chemung River to a place called Hog Back. Here the Indians ambuscaded Gen. SULLIVAN, having felled a breastwork of pine timber, concealed themselves. About 10 in the morning the Six Nations attacked us. We had a severe fight, but beat the Indians and pursued them through a small Indian village, to St. Catherine’s Town, and found that deserted by all save one."
This narrative fixes the battle at Hog Back, although this is different from several historical works. In the manuscript papers of the late Hon. THOMAS MAXWELL, "The battle of Chemung was fought between Gen. SULLIVAN and the Indians, some seven or eight miles below Elmira. Col. BALDWIN, who was wounded in the battle, afterward returned and settled near the battle ground."
EPHRAIM BENNETT, who was an officer in the American Army in the Revolution, after the close of the war removed from Warwick, Oswego County, NY, to Wyoming, Pennsylvania, in 1794, again changed his residence to the Chemung Valley, and located his farm upon the old battle-ground of Chemung, at Hog’s Back, where he resided until 1799. At that time the remains of the fortifications of the battle ground were distinctly visible. The action was then known and spoken of as the "Battle of Newtown." And this locality was situated about seven miles below the village of Newtown. Early residents of the region, children of Revolutionary soldiers, testified to the same as told by their fathers engaged in the expedition.
HON. CHARLES AVERY, who gave the whole subject a thorough investigation, while engaged in writing his history of the Susquehanna Valley, states: "The Battle of Newtown, between BRANDT and SULLIVAN, did not take place at Elmira, as erroneously stated by STONE, in his life of BRANDT, but at least seven or eight miles down the river, near a house where a DR. EVERETT lived, near Hog Back, so called." There seems to be that degree of harmony, therefore, in the authorities above quoted, vix: Hon. THOMAS MAXWELL, EPHRAIM BENNETT, Hon. CHARLES AVERY, and the earlier pioneers, as to leave no further doubt as to its exact locality.
T. APOLLEON CHENEY, who is a famous archaeologist, and author of "Historical Sketches of the Chemung Valley," gives the impression of a visit to this classic spot: "It was a beautiful summer morning, fragrant with balm and bloom of flowers, that came wafted with every breeze, that I had passed along the picturesque, romantic shores of the Chemung River, until I reached the place where the memorable battle of Newtown had been fought, and my footsteps wandered over the field, where the tide of battle had once rolled. I have trodden many battle-fields of ancient and modern fame, but as I slowly passed over this ground, by the rapid waters of the Chemung, something of the same feelings was recalled that I had known while climbing the ascent of Lundy’s Lane, near the majestic Niagara--the noble, swiftly gliding river upon one side, and the steep hill on the opposite of the battle-ground of either of these fields of military glory, both at Chemung and at Lundy’s Lane, presented nearly the same appearance. Among these hills, which stretch away in hazy and indistinct outline, upon the left or north bank of the river, Butler’s Creek, (now Baldwin’s,) takes its rise, and flowing through a wild ravine and picturesque vale, unites its swiftly gliding waters with the Chemung, at a short distance from the battle-field, while the murmuring waves of the magnificent stream breathe no tale of the combat which there had transpired so long ago, on the listening air.--The fairy island is slumbering amid the currents of the river, as softly in its Eden beauty, as upon the long-gone summer day in 1779. Upon close observation, there may yet be traced some marks of the battle--the rising belt of ground stretching through the meadow land, over which the tall, luxuriant grass is now growing, along the line where once the chain of fortifications had extended, from the bank of the river until it intersected with the rugged hill on its eastern side. A large and ancient Cucumber tree is still standing upon the eastern part of the field. It had once sheltered the combatants who fought beneath its ample foliage, and the remains of the old apple tree are yet here. Near the spot where it had grown, Col. BALDWIN fell severely wounded in the battle of August 29th, 1779, and the orchard he had set out after his removal here, is still standing, near the battle-ground. The field was divided by a rail fence, and upon one side the cattle and sheep were grazing.
‘The situation seems still formed for fame;
A hundred thousand men could fight again
With ease. But where I sought for Ilion’s walls,
The quiet sheep feeds, and the tortoise crawls!’ "
THE FURTHER ADVANCE OF THE ARMY.
Upon the day succeeding the battle of Newtown, Gen. SULLIVAN issued an address to the army, that in consequence of the neglect of the Board of Works to supply the army with proper means of transportation, military stores, provisions and forage, he was obliged, in order to carry out the purposes of the expedition, to put the troops on half rations. There was not the least opposition made on the part of the brave and heroic little army, to the proposition.
As detailed in the military journals from which we have quoted, on August 31st the army took up its march; crossing the Kayuga branch where it joined another stream from the west, they destroyed an Indian village called Newtown, from which the present city of Elmira formerly took its name. It reached the town of the Indian QUEEN CATHERINE MONTOUR, on Sept. 1st. It passed on to the foot of the lake as far as Canadesaga, (now Geneva.) The Indian villages and country round about were thoroughly laid waste, and the army, turning westward, by slow marches arrived at Canandaigua September 10th, situated at the head of the lake by the same name. Here the settlement was destroyed, and the advance continued to Honeoye, which was burned.
No pause was made, by Gen. SULLIVAN led on to the rich and even then extraordinarily fertile valley of the Genesee. Here were fields of wavering grain, orchards, trees loaded with fruit, gardens yielding the vegetable luxuries known to the Indians, and the indelible marks of a civilization which dated far in the records of the misty past. The large village was razed, and the army having now attained the chief objects of the expedition, received the order of the General in command and return to Tioga. The first plan had been to have extended the march to Niagara Falls, but the inadequate supply of provisions compelled an opposite course, and the return began September 15th. In retracing their steps, the army arrived in the valley of the Catharine Creek, September 24th. Here the forage for the horses of the cavalry gave out entirely, and reluctantly the commanding General was compelled to issue the command that several hundred should be killed near the present site of the pleasant village of Horseheads; which ever since has retained its present name from that event.
The journal of Col. GANSEVOORT details the return of the expedition in this wise:
"September 24th.--Passed the swamp (Catherine Swamp) so much dreaded from its badness, without any difficulty, and arrived at the forks of Newtown, were Capt. REED, with a detachment of 200 men, had thrown up a breastwork to guard some stores and cattle brought forward from Tioga for the army, in case of necessity. Saluted by 13 rounds of cannon from the breastwork, on our arrival, which number we returned from our artillery.
"September 25th.--This morning the small arms of the whole army were discharged. At 5 o’clock they were drawn up in one line, with a field piece on the right of each brigade, to a fine feu de joie. 1st--Thirteen rounds of cannon; 2d--A running fire of musketry from right to left, which was repeated twice. Five oxen were killed on the joyous occasion--one delivered to each brigade, and one to the artillery and staff. This was done in consequence of the declaration of war by Spain against Great Britain, the news of which reached the army here."
Here the army tarried until the return of detachments which had been despatched to destroy the grain, fruit, and villages, on either side of Cayuga Lake, and lay waste the crops along the river above Elmira, about Big Flats.
The whole distance which the army had traversed since it entered upon the expedition from Eastern Pennsylvania to Genesee Flats, had been 280 miles. The actual loss of men was quite inconsiderable, considering the fatigue and exposure, and the fact that the men were on half rations for a portion of the time. It is reported that 40 included the entire number who were killed or died from sickness.
The old breastwork thrown up by Capt. REED, at the junction of Newtown Creek and the Chemung River, was along the bank of the Creek, as far up as where the away now crosses the bridge below the Sullivan or Arnot Mills, then running westwardly the south side of the road, 60 or 80 rods; thence to the river, and down the river to mouth of the creek, enclosing an area of three or four acres, and surrounded by palisades. Faces of the embankment from the river, northwardly, to the highway, are not yet erased.
THE CHEMUNG RIVER.
In Col. GANSEVOORT’s journal the name occurs as Tioga. Since then, it is not stated at what has time the name changed, and it has been known as the Chemung, from a large horn, or tusk, which was dug out of the river near BYDLEMAN’s, by the Indians--the appellation "Chemung" in their dialect, signifying Big Horn. This was long in the possession of WILLIAM LEE, the former keeper of the present National Garden, and afterwards Chief of Police, before Elmira became a city. This was kept among the curiosities, a large collection gathered from the Indians, at the Red Jacket then, (now National Garden.) The horn, in the dialect of the Muncies and Delawares, was called "Conongue," which means, in their language, Horn in Water. Some of the earlier settlers discovered a similar horn at the lower end of the Upper Narrows.
Captain DANIEL McDOWELL, formerly a resident of Chemung, was taken by the Indians at nuwanee, on the 12th of September, 1782, and carried to Niagara, thence to Quebec. While in captivity, he is said to have seen, at Quebec, the identical horn which gave the name of Chemung to the river hitherto called Tioga. He afterwards stated to THOMAS MAXWELL, Esq., that it was a counterpart of the one found at the Upper Narrows in 1791. Capt. McDOWELL having seen and examined both, was well prepared to judge in the matter. The river still remains the name Tioga, above the junction with the Conhocton, at Painted Post, and thence to its head above Blossburg, Pennsylvania.
DEPARTURE OF THE ARMY FROM NEWTOWN.
The army having gathered in all its detachments, took its departure from Newtown, deserting its fortifications and leaving behind all superfluous baggage, and reached Tioga September 30th, and the main portion reached Wyoming, under Gen. SULLIVAN, on the 7th of October, whence it had entered upon the march of invasion on the 31st of the previous July, 1779.--Here it disbanded. Within the intervening period of two months and seven days, the army had performed a hitherto judged insurmountable task; had invaded the domain of the Red Man within his own unbroken forest fastnesses; had defeated the Indians and their British allies behind carefully constructed and secure entrenchments at Chemung; laid waste the country of the hitherto invincible Iroquois; burned over 40 of their villages, and left behind a mere wreck of their once boasted domain. No such expedition, before or since against the Indians, had met with such signal success.
Yet the General who planned it, and carried to faithful and summary execution, was allowed to retire from service, shorn to the honor he deserved from the country he had so well served. In his farewell address to his army, he had adverted in just terms of censure to the Board of Works, that they had not with alacrity seconded his efforts in keeping his army well supplied with provisions, which had compelled the necessity of half rations, and a speedy retreat from the Genesee Valley. ELBRIDGE GERRY, the inflexible patriot and sagacious statesman, afterward endeavored in Congress, to have Gen. SULLIVAN retained in command, but his efforts were not crowned with success. Gen. SULLIVAN was afterward elected to Congress, and held various important offices in the State of New Hampshire. His death took place Jan. 23d, 1795.
THE RESULTS OF THE CAMPAIGN.
The general results of the campaign singularly vindicated the practical knowledge and appreciation of Gen. WASHINGTON of Indian warfare. He had received the first lessons on the battle ground of the Monongahela, where his own bravery and skill had saved Gen. BRADDOCK’s Army from destruction. He therefore approved of the above expedition, to deal a forbidding terror and lasting discomfiture to the Iroquois. It was a terrible retribution, in the opinion of some philanthropists, but the utterly defenceless condition of the frontier country demanded such vengeance. No border settlers, who had lost relatives by the terrible scalping knife, felt any compunction for the destruction of the settlements, crops and fruit trees, by SULLIVAN’s Expedition, and their descendants have never called in question that the punishment was too cruel and vindictive. And what is singularly in accordance with the pervading idea of justice, the Indians of that or the present age did not allow the consequences of the expedition to lessen their veneration for WASHINGTON. The late Hon. THOMAS MAXWELL remarks upon this subject:
"Indeed, the new system of religion adopted among the Senecas has a most beautiful exemplification of their veneration for the Father of His Country, whose cognomen, after 1779, was universal among the various tribes, to wit: Hanodagarear, or Town Destroyer. One of the tenets engrafted upon the ancient Indian faith, relates to WASHINGTON. According to their belief, no white man ever reached the Indian Heaven excepting WASHINGTON--where justice and benevolence stand pre-eminent among them. It represents him as located at the entrance of the happy hunting grounds, within a spacious building constructed like a fort, surrounded by every object which could gratify a cultivated taste. The faithful Indian who enters Heaven, passes the enclosure. He sees and recognizes the illustrious inmate, who is walking in quiet meditation in the shady groves, in full uniform. No one ever speaks to him, but all pass in respectful silence."
No storied monument or monumental urn could illustrate better the Indian gratitude to the Father of His Country, who was always the Indian’s best friend. When the faithless British, at the treaty of peace in 1793, made no provision for their faithful Indian allies, WASHINGTON came to their relief and protected them before the American Government. During his Presidency he was always the Indian’s fast friend, and they in turn paid the debt of gratitude in the veneration they cherished for his memory.