History of Sheshequin 1777---1902
C. F. Heverly
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DURING THE REVOLUTION.
Colonel Dorrance’s Expedition. -- Early in December, 1777, Col. Nathan Denison, commanding the Twenty-fourth regiment, Connecticut Militia, sent a detachment of eleven men under the command of Lieut. Asa Stevens, who came up as far as Meshoppen and took five suspected (Tories ) prisoners, but deeming their force insufficient to advance further returned to Wyoming. On hearing their report, Colonel Denison, on the 20th of December, sent up a larger force consisting of one captain, five subalterns, seven sergeants, five corporals, and ninety-three rank and file, in all one hundred and eleven men, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Dorrance, who marched up the river as far as Sheshequin. A prominent Indian chief, whom the English called Hopkins, who had received from the British government a captain’s commission, and was then residing on what is now the Culver farm, it was reported, was keeping several prominent Tories. The soldiers were directed not to molest the Indians, but hoping to capture some of these white people a party entered Hopkins’ house, made him prisoner and commenced their search for the persons they were seeking. Hopkins, attempting to escape, was shot through the body by Rufus Baldwin, who was placed to guard him. This was the first blood shed in this valley during the Revolutionary contest. Hopkins, however, recovered and was present at the battle of Wyoming.
Hartley’s Expedition.--In September, 1778, Colonel Thomas Hartley* planned an expedition to Tioga Point and the North Branch of the Susquehanna, to destroy some Indian towns and break up some of their principal places of rendezvous. Colonel Hartley, in his report, says: “Our rendezvous was Fort Muncy, on the West Branch, intending to penetrate by the Shesheecununk
*Colonel Thomas Hartley, who conducted this notable expedition into Bradford County, was born in Berks county in 1748. After receiving the rudiments of a classical education at Reading, he went to York and took up the study of law. He was admitted to the Bar and commenced the practice of his chosen profession in 1769. Young Hartley was early a distinguished and warm friend of his country, and signalized himself both in the cabinet and field. In 1774 he was elected by the citizens of York a member of the Provincial Meeting of Deputies, held at Philadelphia in July of the same year. The following year he became a member of the Provincial convention, held in the same city. The clangor of arms now began to resound in the East. Hartley espoused the cause of liberty and soon distinguished himself as a soldier. The Committee of Safety recommended a number of persons to Congress for field officers of the Sixth Battalion ordered to be raised. Congress on the 10th of January, 1776 elected William Irwin as colonel: Thomas Hartley, as lieutenant-colonel: and James Dunlap, as major. Hartley was soon afterwards promoted to the full degree of colonel. After three years’ service he wrote to Congress, asking permission to resign his commission and his resignation was accepted. In 1778, he was elected a member of the Legislature from York county: in 1783, he was chosen a member of the Council of Censors, and in 1787 he was a member of the State Convention which adopted the Constitution of the United States. He was elected to Congress in 1788 and was continued a member of that body for twelve years. In 1800, Governor McKean commissioned him a major-general of the Fifth Division of the Pennsylvania Militia. Soon after receiving this appointment, he died at York on the 21st of December, 1800, in his fifty-third year.
path to Tioga, at the junction of the Cayuga, with the main Northeast Branch of the Susquehanna, from thence-act as circumstances might require. The troops met at Muncy the 18th of September; when we came to count and array our force for the expedition, it amounted to only 200 rank and file. We thought the number small, but as we presumed the enemy had no notice of our designs, we hoped at least to make a good diversion if no more whilst the inhabitants were saving their grain on the frontier. We began our march on the morning of the 21st, at four o’clock. We carried two boxes of spare ammunition and twelve days’ provisions. In our route we met with great rains and prodigious swamps; mountains, defiles and rocks impeded our march. We had to open and clear the way as we passed. We waded or swam the river Lycoming upwards of twenty times. The difficulties in crossing the Alps or passing up the Kennebec could not have been greater than those our men experienced for the time, and which they surmounted with great resolution and fortitude. In lonely woods and groves we found the haunts and lurking places of the savage murderers who had desolated our frontier. We saw the huts where they had dried the scalps of the helpless women and children who had fallen in their hands. On the morning of the 26th our advance party of nineteen met with an equal number of Indians on the path (near what is now Canton village ), approaching each other. Our people had the first fire; a very important Indian chief was killed and scalped; the rest fled. A few miles further (in the neighborhood of LeRoy ), we discovered where upwards of seventy warriors had encamped the night before on their march toward our frontier, the panic communicated, they fled with their brethren. No time was lost; we advanced toward Sheshecununk, in the neighborhood of which place (at or near what is now the village of Ulster ) we took fifteen prisoners from them; we heard that a man had deserted from Captain Spalding’s company at Wyoming, after the troops had marched from thence and had given the enemy notice of our intended expedition against them. We moved with the greatest dispatch towards Tioga, advancing our horse and some foot in front who did their duty very well. A number of the enemy fled before us with precipitation. It was very dark when we came to that town; our troops were very much fatigued. It was impossible to proceed further that night. We took another prisoner. Upon the whole information we were clear the savages had intelligence of some days; that the Indians had been towards the German flats, taken eight scalps and brought off seventy oxen intended for the garrison at Fort Stanwix; that on their return they were to have attacked Wyoming and the settlements on the West Branch again; that Colonel Morgan nor any other person had attempted to penetrate into the enemy’s country, as we had been given to understand; and that the collected force at Chemung would be upwards of five hundred and that they were building a fort there. We were also told that young Butler had been at Tioga a few hours before we came; that he had three hundred men with him, the most of them Tories dressed in green; that they were returned towards Chemung, twelve miles off, and that they were determined to give battle in some of the defiles near it.
“It was soon resolved we should proceed no further, but if possible make our way good to Wyoming. We burned Tioga, Queen Esther’s palace or town, and all the settlements on this side. Several canoes were taken and some plunder, part of which was destroyed. Mr. Carbery, with the horse only, was close on Butler, who was in possession of the town of Shawnee, three miles up the Cayuga Branch, but as we did not advance he returned. The consternation of the enemy was great. We pushed our good fortune as far as we dare, nay, it is probable the good countenance we put on saved us from destruction, as we were advanced so far into enemy’s country and no return but what we could make with the sword. We came to Sheshecununk (Ulster ) that night. Had we had five hundred regular troops and one hundred and fifty light troops with one or two pieces of artillery, we probably might have destroyed Chemung, which is now the receptacle of all villainous Indians and Tories from the different tribes and states. From this they make their excursions against the frontiers of New York, Pennsylvania, Jersey and Wyoming, and commit those horrid murders and devastations we have heard of. Niagara and Chemung are the asylums of those Tories who cannot get to New York. On the morning of the 28th we crossed the river and marched towards Wyalusing, where we arrived that night at eleven o’clock; our men were much run down; our whisky and flour were gone. On the morning of the 29th we were obliged to stay till eleven o’clock to kill and cook beef. This necessary stop gave the enemy leisure to approach. (The march down the river through Sheshequin, Wysox and Standing Stone to Wyalusing, a distance of thirty miles, was made in a day.) Seventy of our men, from real or pretended lameness, went into the canoes, others rode on the empty pack horses, leaving not more than one hundred and twenty rank and file to fall in the line of march. Lieutenant Sweeney, a valuable officer, had the rear guard, consisting of thirty men, besides five active runners under Mr. Camden. The advance guard was to consist of an officer and fifteen men. There were a few flankers, but from the difficulty of the ground and fatigue, they were seldom of use. The rest of our little army formed into three divisions; those of my regiment composed the first, Captain Spalding’s the second, and Captain Murrow’s the third. The light horse was equally divided between front and rear. The pack horses and cattle we had collected were to follow the advance guard. In this order we moved from Wyalusing at twelve o’clock.” When the expedition reached Indian Hill, just on the lower edge of the county, a heavy onset was made on the left flank and rear by a large body of the enemy. The rear guard gave way, and Captain Spalding was ordered to its support. While he engaged the enemy, the first and third divisions gained a knoll, which overlooked and flanked the enemy, a small party was sent to gain the rear, while those in the boats hearing the firing hastily landed and came from below. Thus from all sides an advance was made with great noise and shouting upon the savages, who, thinking they were about to be surrounded, fled in haste, leaving ten of their number dead on the ground. Hartley’s loss was four killed and ten wounded. It will thus be seen that Colonel Hartley entered the county, completed his work and got out in four days, losing in that time only four men. He reached Wyoming on the 5th of October, having performed a circuit of nearly three hundred miles in about two weeks, “bringing off,” as he says, “nearly fifty head of cattle, twenty-eight canoes and many other articles.”
Sullivan’s Expedition.-- Immediately after Colonel Hartley’s
brilliant exploit into the Indian territory and “victory at Sheshequin
and Tioga Point,” General Washington favored the design of sending a powerful
force into the heart of the Six Nations at once, to chastise them for their
cruelty and by laying waste their settlements, to dislodge them from their
position so dangerously near to the American frontier. It was resolved
to carry the war into their own country, and if possible to force the savages
back to Niagara. To send a force fully adequate for the object to be accomplished
was obviously the only effective and consequently the most economical policy.
During the spring and early part of the summer of 1779, vigorous preparations
had been making for the contemplated invasion of the Indian country. The
details of the expedition having been arranged, the chief command was given
to Major-General John Sullivan* of New Hampshire, who was directed to report
to Easton, where the main body of troops was ordered to be assembled. On
the 18th of June the troops left Easton, arriving at Wyoming
on the 23d. Here for nearly six weeks General Sullivan was busily
engaged in collecting supplies, boats and pack horses, and in organizing
and drilling his army. The boats, 214 in number, were loaded with provisions,
the heavy artillery, consisting of two six-pounders, four three-pounders,
two howitzers and other military stores, and the fleet placed in command
of Colonel Proctor. The pack horses (about 1, 200) carried the camp equipment
and daily rations; and following with these were 800 beef cattle. On Saturday
afternoon, July 31, the whole army was put in motion for its march to Tioga.
The force, in addition to Colonel Proctor’s artillery regiment, consisted
of three brigades--about 3, 500 men.
Rev. William Rogers: “Friday, August 6th-- This day the army halted, a party of men from the light corps with a commissioned officer were sent out on a scout and returned without making any discoveries. Towards evening I rode to headquarters, where information had been received of four hundred and fifty British troops from Canada having joined the Indians, also a great body of savages from that quarter having been implored so to do by Colonel Brant, a devoted servant of the man who bears the title of the “Defender of the Faith.” May the Lord give him that faith which worketh by love. Visited Colonel Proctor on board the ‘Adventure’ and felt happy in finding all the fleet safely arrived and moored along the shores of Wyalusing plains.
The evening rainy, which continued almost the whole night. Through the country the nights and mornings are generally foggy; when we were in Wyoming and since we left it, I scarcely remember seeing any clear sunshine until considerably late in the day. Saturday, August 7th--By reason of the rain, the army continued at Wyalusing. We hear that the Indians had been doing mischief on the West Branch of the Susquehanna, near Northumberland. Nothing new among us, except that one or two scouting parties were sent out without making any discoveries. Sunday, August 8th--The light troops marched at five o’clock in the morning and the main body at six. We crossed Wyalusing creek, a fine stream, where it is eighty feet wide, in a batteaux. Having soon afterwards ascended a long and high mountain, which consisted a good deal of miserable but some rich land, we found our march tolerably agreeable as the woods were not as thick as common. The descent of the mountain was very rough and steep. We then passed along a short defile, leaving which our course was for a considerable distance along the banks of the river through a gloomy thicket. Having waded through the creek and descended another steep place, we entered upon another defile rather longer and more tedious than the former one. After this we soon arrived at Standing Stone flats, distance from Wyalusing ten miles. Here is plenty of good land, fit for meadow and for raising wheat and other grain. It was formerly settled by a few families, some of whom have since been so villainous as to join the savages. Just upon these flats, I saw the stone from which they take their name. It is upon the opposite shore on the cap of the water with which it is usually surrounded. Its height is twenty feet. Its breadth fourteen feet. Its thickness two and a half feet. At the back of it is a large rock forming more than a semi-circle on which it is supposed a considerable tenement might be erected. Passing then through another thicket, we came to a third defile, the most narrow passage on account of stone and roughness, which we have met with since we left Wyoming. Surmounting this difficulty and passing over a tract of exceedingly fine bottom, we arrived at Wesauking, or Rush Meadow Creek, a stream both narrow and shallow. Not far from this, on the banks of the Susquehanna, we encamped for the night. The ground was level and very good, but we could find no spring water. Captain Bush having gathered a few wild gooseberries, gave me one to taste; they were exactly similar to the tame kind. I plucked some wild pinks and saw a wild tulip, and also plenty of crabapples. Across the river and upon an island, we had the pleasure of viewing a large flock of wild ducks; contrary to orders to fire, or we might have had an excellent supper. This country abounds also in turkeys, which, in their flight near us, make us often wish for a repeal of the general orders. General Sullivan being ill, took passage on board the fleet, which arrived at Standing Stone flats where the main body of the army tarried during the night. On this day’s march we saw one or two places where the savages had lately encamped, also an Indian paddle floating down the river and a canoe lying on the beach. A scouting party which had gone forward many miles, returning informed us that they had seen three tracks of Indians and a spot where they had lately set down. They were undoubtedly spying our progress, though as yet we have met with no impediment from them.”
Colonel Adam Hubley: “Sunday, August 8th--The army moved this morning at five o’clock, crossed Wyalusing creek and ascended an extensive mountain, the top remarkably level; land poor and timber small. Arrived about ten o’clock, a.m., at the north end and descended the same close on the river side and continued along the beach for some distance, after which we entered an extensive valley or plain, known by the name of Standing Stone; made a halt there for about half an hour for refreshments. This valley abounds in grass, the land exceedingly fine and produces chiefly white oak, black walnut and pine timber. After refreshments continued our march along the same valley; land not quite so fine. Arrived about three o’clock, p.m., at a small creek called Wescuking; crossed the same and encamped about one mile beyond it, immediately on the river. Four o’clock, p.m.--Since our arrival at this place some of my officers discovered a small Indian encampment seemingly occupied but a few days since; found near the same a neat canoe which they brought off. This morning the scout (of three men) sent up to Sheshequin, some days since, returned without making any discoveries. General Sullivan, on account of his indisposition, came on in the boat. Monday, August 9.--The boats not being able to reach Wescuking, the ground on which the light corps encamped preceding evening, the main body in consequence thereof took post and encamped at Standing Stone, about three miles below light corps encampment for protection of the boats. The light corps, on account of their detached situation from main body the preceding evening and apprehending danger, being considerably advanced in the enemy’s country, for their greater security, stood under arms from three o’clock a.m., until daylight, when they were dismissed with orders to hold themselves in readiness at a moment’s warning. Previous to their dismissal my light infantry was sent out to reconnoitre the vicinity of encampment; returned about seven o’clock a.m.--made no discovery. This morning nine o’clock, boats hove in sight, in consequence thereof received orders to strike tents and be in readiness for a march; main army in the meantime arrived about ten o’clock; the whole was in motion, marched through a difficult swamp; at north of same crossed a small stream and ascended a hill; lands poor and wood but indifferent. About twelve o’clock descended the same and entered a small valley; continued about half a mile, when we ascended a very remarkable high mountain, generally known by the name of Break Neck Hill. The mountain derives its name from the great height, of the difficult and narrow passage, not more than one foot wide and remarkably precipice which is immediately perpendicular and not less than 180 feet deep. One misstep must inevitably carry you from the top to bottom without the least hope or chance of recovery. At north end of same entered a mountainous and beautiful valley called Sheshecunnunk. General Sullivan with a number of officers made a halt here at a most beautiful run of water, (at the Towner place) took a bite of dinner and proceeded on along the valley, which very particularly struck my attention. Any quantity of meadow may be made here; abounds with all kinds of wood, particularly white oak, hickory and black walnut; the ground covered with grass and pea vines; the soil in general is very rich. About four o’clock p.m., arrived on the bank of the river; the whole encamped in a line on a most beautiful plain; consists chiefly in meadows, the grass remarkably thick and high. (This encampment was on what is now the Culver farm.) On our arrival here made discoveries of some new Indian tracks, places on which fire had just been and fresh boughs cut and appeared as if the place had just been occupied a few hours before our arrival. Distance of march this day nine and a half miles.”
Dr. Jabez Campfield: “Early in the morning of the 9th (August), the army marched by a narrow pass along the river. Sometimes by the water-side, having a high mountain on the right, afterwards, through an exceedingly fine tract of land of considerable length, in which we passed Weesaucking Creek, falling into the Susquehanna from the northeast. After the army passed on the declivity of a high mountain, overlooking the river by a narrow footpath, dangerous to be passed by a single person, here several of our cattle and pack horses fell and were killed. About sunset we entered on a fine bottom and continued our march to Sheshequannunk, six miles from the mountain, a beautiful plain covered with grass, very necessary for our hungry horses and cattle. In this day’s march Colonel Proctor landed on the other side of the river and burned an Indian town, which was built last spring, but now abandoned, consisting of twenty-eight log houses covered and six not finished, called Newtychaning*--here we made a night march of six miles through thick woods with 900 cattle in our front, our regiment being near the rear guard this day. We have here continually rains or fogs in the night and very hot in the day and cold nights.”
Newtychanning was located on the north side of Sugar Creek near the site of Oscalui, of a previous date, and the same site called Ogehage, on Captain Hendrikson’s map of 1616, and was then one of the towns of the Carantouannais, an Iroquois tribe, destroyed or driven out by the Five Nations previous to 1650.
Captain Daniel Livermore: “Monday, August 9th--This morning the troops proceed on the march and make a short halt at four miles. Here is a considerable body of intervale, the finest I ever saw; the wild grass and wild beans higher than a man’s head. Here are the finest buttonwood trees growing as tall and straight as any pine trees that I ever saw and equally as large. We now proceed on the march, leaving the river and taking the upland and travel through a very indifferent country. At six o’clock arrive at Sullivan’s Farms, formerly Shegekanunk flats.”
Rev. William Rogers: “Tuesday, August 10th--Captain Gifford, who commanded the detachment of the army on the west side of the river, gave us a little history of his march and observations, differing not much from that of the army on the east side. The fleet arrived between eight and nine o’clock this morning after a tedious passage from Wesauking. Yesterday about four o’clock p.m., they burned an Indian town on the west bank of the river and containing about twenty-eight wigwams. One of the boats was sunk on the passage. But a party being sent down for the purpose, saved all the flour but two barrels. By this day’s general orders the quantum of rations was diminished; several reasons made manifest the propriety of this measure. General Sullivan, with the brigadiers and a regiment from each brigade who went out to reconnoitre, returned without making discovery of any savages.”
Colonel Hubley: “Tuesday, August 10th-- Set in with rain, and boats not reaching this place before nine o’clock this morning, army received orders to continue on the ground until further orders. Men drew and cooked two days’ provisions. One regiment from each of the brigades attended General Sullivan. The general and field officers of the army, whilst they were reconnoitering the river and ground near Tioga Branch about three miles above this place, returned without any discoveries worthy of remark about four o’clock p.m. Wednesday, August 11th--Agreeable to orders, the army moved this morning at eight o’clock in the usual order. Light corps moved half an hour before the main army and took post on the banks of the river near the fording place. On the arrival of the main army and boats, Colonel Forest drew up his boat at the fording place, and fixed several six-pounders on the opposite shore in order to scour the woods and thickets and prevent any ambuscade taking place. In the meantime, the light corps marched by platoons, linked together, on account of the rapidity of the water, and forded the same (opposite the present village of Milan) and effected a landing about nine o’clock; they immediately advanced about 100 yards from the river, and formed in line of battle in order to cover the landing of the main army, which was safely effected about ten o’clock a.m., after which came our pack horses, cattle, etc., covered by a regiment which composed the rear guard. Previous to our arrival on the flats we had to pass about one and a half miles through a dark, difficult swamp, which was covered with weeds and considerable underwood, interspersed with large timber, chiefly buttonwood. We then entered the flats near the place on which Queen Esther’s palace stood and was destroyed by Colonel Hartley’s detachment last fall. The grass is remarkably thick and high. We continued along the same for about one mile and arrived at the entrance of Tioga Branch into Susquehanna about one o’clock; we crossed the same and landed on a peninsula of land (where the town of Athens now is), which extends towards Chemung and is bounded on the east by Susquehanna and on the west by Tioga Branch, and continued up the same for about two miles and a half and encamped. This peninsula is composed of excellent meadow and upland; grass is plenty, and timber of all kinds and soil in general good; distance of march this day three miles. Tioga plain--this being a plain calculated to cover the western army during the expedition to the northern part of it, a garrison for that purpose is to remain until our return. Sundry works for the security of the same are now erecting about two and one-half miles distance from where Tioga Branch empties into the Susquehanna, and where the rivers are about 190 yards distance from each other; these works to extend from river to river.”
Rev. William Rogers: “Wednesday, August 11th--The light troops marched from Upper Sheshecunnunk at half past seven, the main body at eight o’clock a.m. Proceeding about one mile and a half, we arrived at a fording place on the Susquehanna, unknown to any of our guides, but found out on the preceding day by the general officers. The troops, pursuant to orders, taking off their overalls and tying them about their necks, crossed in platoons under cover of the fleet, each soldier grasping the hand of his comrade next to him for support. The current being strong and the water for a considerable distance coming up to the middle of the men, some considerable difficulties were encountered, but notwithstanding every impediment the whole body got over without suffering any particular disadvantage. General Hand, in order to animate his brigade, dismounted and marched through on foot at the head of his soldiers. Such an army crossing a river with so much regularity at a place so rapid and in width 330 yards, afford the spectator a pleasing sight and must have struck our enemies with awe. I must doubt whether the army of Alexander the Great encountered as many difficulties with as much good humor as ours has evinced. The river being forded, we entered upon what is properly called the Indian country, or that part of the wilderness claimed by the Six Nations; the boundary on the west side is the Tawandee creek, emptying in the Susquehanna about three miles above Wesauking. The army being formed as usual, we proceeded sometimes in single files, and then double, through a thicket till we entered those beautiful plains where the Tioga Branch unites itself with the main river. On this level spot stood Queen Esther’s palace, burned by Colonel Hartley last fall. Over those plains the army marched towards the mouth of the Tioga, in order of battle, the light troops being joined by two three-pounders from the regiment of artillery. The view of this was grand beyond description, as the ground for a great circuit was level and the grass high and green. Drums were beating, fifes playing, colors flying. Getting to the mouth of the Tioga, we found it in width 141 yards and the water much deeper than had been imagined. Verdant plains in our rear, the flowing Susquehanna on our right. Ourselves in the Tioga or Cayuga stream, with a fine neck of land in our front and mountains surrounding the whole, afforded pleasant reflections though separated from friends and in an enemy’s country. Surely, a soil like this is worth contending for. Possessing ourselves of the north side of the Tioga, and passing through a swampy piece of ground we entered upon other plains pleasing to the eye, though not so grand as those on the south. Here the main body encamped; the light troops proceeded farther on, one column on the main banks of the Susquehanna, and another on those of the Tioga banks. The land in general very fine. Having advanced a mile and better, our tents were pitched from river to river, judged to be 200 yards. Just below our encampment we took a view of the Indians’ carrying place, thirteen yards across, so called from their carrying or dragging their canoes from river to river to save themselves the trouble of paddling around the neck. On the west side of the Tioga is a most beautiful tract of level and fine country, terminated by a mountain. On this tract of Indian town formerly stood; it was destroyed by themselves. This day we marched five miles, course due north. Saw Captain Jehoiakim, who with four men had come thus far forward the day before. He picked up one or two horses that had been left behind by the savages. Captain Jehoiakim’s three Stockbridge Indians left us at Wyoming.”
Ensign Daniel Goodkin: “August 11--To Tioga four miles; waded across the river up to our arm middles, current running strong. Colonel Barber came very near drowning crossing the river. The number of horses that came from Wyoming was General Poor’s brigade 300, General Maxwell’s 300, General Hand’s 200, Colonel Proctor’s 100, the horses from the public stores 300, besides the riding horses of the officers, 120 boats, 800 head of cattle, etc. To see with what patience the soldiers endured the fatigues of the march, wading rivers, climbing mountains and a number of other things too tedious to mention, offer a pleasing prospect that we shall have soldiers equal to any in the world.”
In further describing the works which were called “Fort Sullivan,” Dr. Campfield says: “During the stay of the army at Tioga four blockhouses were built for the defense of the boats and garrisoned by invalids, under command of Colonel Shrieve and the boat men. Here we left all unnecessary baggage and all the women and children. The general left here two six-pounders.”
At his own request, General Hand was permitted to pursue the retreating enemy, with Hubley’s regiment and the Wyoming troops, the latter a little in front. On August 13th he had advanced about a mile, when, as the company of Captain Bush, which was the right of the regiment and the Wyoming companies pressing on rapidly and possibly with too little caution, had just reached the broken ground about a mile above Chemung, known as the “Hog Backs,” they were fired upon by the Indians in ambush, killing six men, viz: One sergeant, one drummer and four privates, all of the Eleventh Pennsylvania; wounding Captain Franklin, Captain Carbery, Adjutant Huston and six rank and file. Our men returned the fire, pushed up the hill on a run and the enemy beat a hasty retreat. It was afterwards known that the Indians had at least three killed and a number wounded. General Hand was recalled by orders from General Sullivan. Nearly 100 acres of excellent corn, just in the milk, were near this town, the greater part of which General Poor was ordered to destroy. A party of the enemy on the other side of the river fired upon the troops just as they were entering the field, killing one and wounding five. About forty acres of corn were left for the future use of the army, the rest destroyed, the town burned; the troops returned to their encampment, reaching Tioga near evening greatly wearied with the fatigue of the journey and the extreme heat of the weather. The casualties were seven killed and fourteen wounded. All were brought to Tioga, where the slain were buried with military honors in one grave, Chaplain Rogers officiating at the religious services.
In the meanwhile, General Sullivan was busily engaged in forwarding the preparations for his advance. On both sides the river were meadows covered with luxuriant grass, which afforded excellent pasturage for the horses and cattle, but those appointed to watch them were continually annoyed by small bands of Indians lurking about the camp, who would spring out of their hiding place, fire upon their intended victims, but before pursuit could be made would be beyond reach. A corporal and four men were guarding some horses and cattle on Queen Esther’s flats, when about four o’clock in the afternoon on August 15th they were fired upon by a small party of the enemy who killed and scalped one, Jabez Elliott, wounded another, run off four or five horses and killed one bullock. Detachments were at once sent after them, but they made good their escape. Two days later six of the German regiment obtained permission to go beyond the lines in search of some missing horses; when not more than forty or fifty rods beyond the picket line, they were fired upon by a dozen savages who were lying nearby in ambush; four got safely back within the lines, a party sent by Colonel Hubley in pursuit, met one returning with his arm shattered and found the other, Philip Helter, killed.
General James Clinton’s division, consisting of four regiments under command of Colonels Gansevort, Dubois, Alden and Weizenfels, numbering about 1, 500 men, came from the Mohawk by way of Otsego Lake and arrived at noon on August 22d at Tioga, where they were welcomed with salvos of artillery and escorted into camp by Proctor’s military band. The whole army now numbered about 5, 000 men. It was the largest and the most imposing military force ever gathered on the soil of Bradford county, as the expedition was the most remarkable undertaking during the Revolutionary war. Colonel Hubley, under date of Sunday, August 22, says: “This day at ten o’clock a.m., Generals Clinton and Poor’s detachments with about 220 boats, passed light corps’ encampment for the main army about one and a half miles in their rear. On their passage they were saluted with thirteen rounds from the park; the light corps being likewise drawn up, and received them in proper form with Colonel Proctor’s music and drums and fifes beating and playing.” On August 23, Ensign Goodkin says: “A very melancholy accident happened in camp--Samuel Gordon, a soldier in Captain Duston’s company, taking a gun in his hands and snapped it (not knowing it was loaded), when the gun went off and killed Captain Kimball of Colonel Cilley’s regiment, as he was sitting in a tent and wounded one more. Captain Kimball was buried with the honors of war.
Four days after the arrival of Clinton, preparations having been completed, the order was given to advance, and at eleven o’clock, August 26, both armies were in motion for the accomplishment of the great object of the expedition. The battle of Newtown followed on Sunday, August 29, in which the Indians, British and Tories were severely punished and scattered in all directions. The country between the Upper Susquehanna and the Genesee was then laid waste by the patriots, who destroyed forty Indian towns and villages before the campaign was ended. The mission having been accomplished with only a loss of forty men, the army returned to Tioga Point, which is chronicled by Colonel Hubley as follows: “Thursday, September 30th--This morning about eight o’clock, the army moved. About two o’clock they arrived at Tioga plains, near Fort Sullivan, where the whole formed in regular line of march and moved into the garrison in the greatest order, where we were received with military honors, the garrison turning out with presented arms and a salute of thirteen rounds from their artillery, which compliment was returned them from the park of artillery with the army. Colonel Shrieve, governor of the garrison, had an elegant dinner provided for the general and field officers of the army. We regaled ourselves, and great joy and good humor was visible in every countenance. Colonel Proctor’s band and drums and fifes played in concert the whole time. Friday, October 1--This morning the horses belonging to the officers of the brigade were forwarded to Wyoming. We also sent our cow which we had along with us the whole expedition, and to which we are under infinite obligations for the great quantity of milk she afforded us, which rendered our situation very comfortable and was no small addition to our half allowance. This afternoon Colonel Brewer, General Sullivan’s secretary, set off to Congress with the dispatches which contained a relation of the great success of the expedition. Saturday, October 2--This day the commander-in-chief made an elegant entertainment and invited all the general and field officers of the army to dine with him. In the evening, to conclude the mirth of the day, we had an Indian dance. The officers who joined in it putting on vizors (alias Monetas). The dance was conducted and led off by a young sachem of the Oneida tribe, who was next followed by several other Indians, then the whole led off, and after the Indian custom danced to the music, which was a rattle, a knife and a pipe, which the sachem continued clashing together and singing Indian the whole time. At the end of each the Indian war whoop was set up by the whole. Saturday, October 3--Agreeable to orders of yesterday, the garrison of Fort Sullivan this day joined their respective commands and the fort was demolished. The stores and other baggage with the park of artillery were put on board the boats, and every other matter put in perfect readiness to move with the army on their route to Wyoming to-morrow morning at six o’clock. The young sachem with several Oneida Indians, relatives and friends of the unfortunate Indian Hanjost, who bravely fell with the party under command of the much lamented Lieutenant Boyd on the 13th ult., who faithfully acted as guide to the army, left us this day well pleased (after bestowing some presents on them) for their native place, the Oneida country. The German regiment, which composed a part of the flanking divisions of the army, was this day ordered to join and do duty with the Third Pennsylvania brigade, commanded by General Hand. Monday, October 4--This day about eight o’clock the army took up their line of march. We arrived at Wessaukin about six o’clock in the evening after completing a march of fifteen miles. On account of the rain, marching was rather disagreeable this day. On my arrival at this place I received a letter with some newspapers, etc., from his excellency, President Read, which contained agreeable news.” October 4, Lieutenant William Barton says: “On the arrival of the army it clears away a little when the General orders us to march as far as Wesaugking and there to encamp himself; going in a boat we arrived at five o’clock p.m. The whole of the army did not arrive until after dark.” Under same date, Lieutenant William McKendry notes: “This morning the army marched and left the ground at nine o’clock for Wyoming--came over shrub land this day--passed a defile on the brink of the river, where there was a narrow path on the steep side of a large mountain 200 feet perpendicular, which made it very dangerous to pass; and was a solid rock, three horses with their loads fell off and dashed to pieces in the river; proceeded on and encamped on the point of the river; part of the troops came in the boats; some rain this day and very hard this night. October 5--This morning at eleven o’clock the troops all embarked on board the boats, excepting a number to drive the cattle and take down the pack horses.” Colonel Hubley concludes thus: “Wednesday, October 6--About six o’clock this morning the whole embarked again and moved, paying no attention to order down the river. Thursday, October 7--Embarked about six o’clock and kept on steadily until we arrived at Wyoming. About three o’clock p.m., the whole army landed and encamped on the same ground, and in the same order as on the 30th of July. Thus by the perseverance, good conduct and determined resolution of our commander-in-chief, with the assistance of his council and the full determination of his troops to execute, have we fully accomplished the great end and intentions of this important expedition; and I flatter myself we fully surpassed the most sanguine expectations of those whose eyes were more immediately looking to us for success.”
The reader will ask what connection has Sullivan’s expedition with the history of Sheshequin ? First, as already stated, this most important military force ever assembled in Bradford county, passed through Sheshequin on its mission and return therefrom. Second, Captain Spalding and others were so greatly pleased with the Sheshequin valley that they decided to remove thereto. Thus it may be said the settlement of Sheshequin resulted largely from Sullivan’s expedition.
*Major General John Sullivan was born of Irish parentage at Somersworth, New Hampshire, February 17, 1740. His youth and early life were occupied in labor on a farm, but in the intervals of work he acquired, under his father’s instruction, a competent education. He subsequently chose the profession of the law, and after the requisite preparatory studies was admitted to practice and established himself in Durham, New Hampshire, where, except when absent on official duty, he continued to reside until his death. He was an early and prominent advocate of the right of the colonies against the Mother Country, and was selected as one of two delegates to represent the province of New Hampshire in the first Continental Congress, which assembled in Philadelphia on the 5th of September, 1774. Associated with him in that memorable body, amongst others were Washington, Jay, Adams, Patrick Henry, Rutledge and Lee. In December of the same year, and four months before the first blood was shed at Lexington, with John Langdon he led a party to New Castle, near Portsmouth, took possession of the fort, imprisoned the garrison, seized and carried away a hundred barrels of powder, some of which was afterwards so effectively used at Bunker Hill, fifteen cannon, a quantity of small arms and stores, and thus committed the first open act of hostility by a military force against the royal authority. In January, 1775, a few weeks after this event, he and his associate Langdon were elected Representatives to the Second Continental Congress, and on the 22d of June hostilities having begun he was chosen one of eight brigadier-generals for the Colonial Army. Accepting the appointment, he resigned his seat in Congress, proceeded to camp at Cambridge and was assigned to the command of one of the brigades composing the left wing of the army. He participated with Montgomery, Thomas and Arnold in the expedition to Canada, and after its failure safely withdrew the troops and stores, without loss, to Crown Point, whence he rejoined the army under Washington. Then followed his promotion to the rank of major-general, the battle of Long Island and his capture along with Lord Sterling whilst fighting bravely, but from no misconduct on his part and his subsequent exchange. He next appears leading one of two columns, acting in the immediate presence of Washington at the battle of Trenton, General Green leading the other. In this battle the enemy sustained a loss of about thirty killed and wounded, and 1,000 prisoners, whilst the American loss was only four men, two in action and two from the severity of the cold. And better than all, the drooping hopes of the country were revived and a new impulse given to prolong the struggle. General Sullivan commanded the right wing at the battle of Brandywine. He led a column consisting of his own and Wayne’s divisions at the battle of Germantown, where acting again under the immediate eye of Washington he was specially commended in the official reports of the action. After sharing in the privations at Valley Forge, he was assigned in the spring of 1778 by the orders of Washington, to take command of the American forces in Rhode Island. These were organized in two divisions under Lafayette and Greene, and a plan was formed for a joint attack by General Sullivan’s army and the French fleet and troops under Count D’Estaing upon the British forces at Newport. After all arrangements for the campaign, and joint movement had been skillfully made, and everything promised success, the project was defeated and the safety of the American force imperiled by the failure of the Count to co-operate, and his withdrawal on the appearance of the British fleet to Boston harbor. After repulsing a spirited attack by the enemy, General Sullivan finding the reduction of the place impracticable without the aid of the French fleet, withdrew his troops with such skill and success, as induced from Congress on the 17th of September following, a vote of thanks, and from the Legislature of his own State a like compliment. He remained in command in Rhode Island until the spring of 1779, although the interval was marked by no military movements of importance.
Such, briefly, had been the services rendered, such as commands borne, and character established by General Sullivan, prior to his selection to lead the expedition against the Six Nations. He had filled responsible civil positions, been intrusted with important military commands, been promoted for gallantry, made the subject of special commendatory reports by the commander-in-chief and received the thanks of Congress and of his own State. Congress and country having become aroused by the news of the massacre in Wyoming and Cherry Valley, to the necessity of vigorous repressive action, early in the year 1779, Washington was directed to take the most effectual measures to protect the Northwestern frontier, and to chastise the Indians for their repeated atrocities. He determined to effect these objects by sending a strong force, under a skillful and vigilant leader into the country of the Six Nations, disperse any organized force, lay waste their settlements and by depriving them of sustenance and shelter, compel them to seek a remote refuge in British territory. Washington, in anticipation of these orders, had already collected information as to the most eligible route for the expedition, and the means and strength necessary to secure its success. The plan he finally adopted was to assemble the main force at Wilkes-Barre, thence to move up the river to its confluence with the Chemung, and there await the arrival of a column moving west, by way of Otsego Lake and the headwaters of the Susquehanna. The details were arranged, supplies, with boats and horses, for their transportation were ordered, and it only remained to select a leader. For reasons satisfactory to the judicious Washington, the command was first tendered to General Gates, with the generous design, perhaps, of reinstating that officer in the public confidence, and with the purpose, if refused, to give the command to General Sullivan. General Gates did refuse, and General Sullivan promptly accepted. The orders of General Washington, issued May 31, directed the total devastation and destruction of the settlements of the Six Nations, and of their adherents and allies, with the capture of as many prisoners as possible; that refusing all proposals of peace, parties should be detached to lay waste all the settlements around, in a manner so effectual that the country might not be merely overrun, but destroyed. These severe instructions were based on the conviction that treaties were profitless, and that he was dealing with a foe whom fear and the want of means alone could restrain. The way having been opened, the instructions of Washington were carried out to the letter, and the atrocities at Wyoming avenged. Washington expressed his warm approval of the manner of conducting the expedition, and of its result. Congress passed a vote of thanks and designated a day for general thanksgiving, and the county rejoiced in the sense of relief and security the event inspired. Such contemporaneous estimate of General Sullivan’s character and worth, that when ill health brought on by nearly five years of arduous service and the exposures of the last campaign, compelled his retirement from the army in November, 1779. Congress expressed its regret at the loss of so gallant a soldier. His subsequent life was largely spent in connection with public affairs. In 1780 and ‘ 81 he was elected a delegate to Congress. In 1782 he was appointed Attorney General of New Hampshire, and re-appointed on the adoption of the New Constitution in 1784. In 1786 and 1787 he was President or Chief Magistrate of the State of New Hampshire. In 1788 he was Speaker of the House of Representatives of New Hampshire, and president of the convention that ratified the Constitution of the United States. In 1789 he was a Presidential elector and voted for General Washington for President of the United States, and in March of the same year he was president of the Senate for the third time. In 1789 he was appointed by President Washington, Judge of the United States District Court of New Hampshire, which office he held until his death, January 23, 1795, in the fifty-fifth year of his age.