History of Wyoming/Letter XVIII
On the evening of the third of July, Capt. John Franklin arrived at Forty Fort, with the Huntington and Salem company, consisting of about 35 men; a most welcome reinforcement to Col. Denison, is a gave steadiness to the broken remnant of the army who had escaped. A consultation was held, at which it was concluded to send to Wilkes-Barre for the cannon, to cause the whole settlement to concentrate at Forty Fort, the largest in the valley, and defend themselves to the last extremity. A messenger, dispatched on the morning of the fourth, hastily returned, and reported that the proposed measure was impracticable, for fugitives were flying in every direction to the wilderness, and all was confusion, consternation and horror. The only hope of safety seemed to be in flight. The several passages through the swamp were thronged. Few having been thoughtful enough to take provisions, the greater part were destitute. On the old warrior’s path, there were in one company, about 100 women and children, with but a single man, Jonathan Fitch, Esq., Sheriff of the County, to advise or aid them. The way towards the Wind Gap and Stroudsburg, was equally crowded. Sufferings from fatigue and hunger soon became the extreme. The brave George Cooper, who would "have one shot more," with his companions, Westover and Stark, and their families, had made an effort to obtain provisions, but the Indians were discovered watching their dwellings, they were compelled to fly with scarce a morsel, though exhausted by the battle.
Of the little they had, neither of the men would partake, so that the children need not perish. Tears gosh from the eyes of the aged widow of Cooper, when she related that her husband had laid on his face to lap up a little meal which a companion, and their flight, had spilt on the earth. Children were born, and several perished in the "Dismal Swamp," or "Shades of Death," as it is called to this day. Mrs. Treusdale was taken in labor; bearing to delay but a few minutes, she was soon seen with her infant, moving onward-a sheet having been fixed on a horse, so as to carry them. Jebez fish, who was in the battle, escaped; but not being able to join his family, was supposed to have fallen; and Mrs. Fish hastened with her children through the wilderness. Overcome with fatigue and want, her infant died. Sitting down a moment, on a stone, to see it draw its last breath, she gazed in its face with unutterable anguish. There was no way to dig a grave-and to leave it to be devoured by the wolves, seemed worse than death, so she kept the dead baby in her arms, and carried it 20 miles, when she came to a German settlement. Though poor, they gave her food; made a box for the child, attended her to the graveyard, and decently buried it, kindly bidding her welcome, till she should be rested. The uniform hospitality of the Germans, is gratefully attested by the Wyoming people.
Wife of Ebenezer Marcy
The wife of Ebenezer Marcy was taken in labor, in the wilderness. Having no mopde of conveyance, her sufferings were inexpressibly severe. She was able to drag her fainting steps but about two miles that day. The next, being overtaken by a neighbor with a horse, she rode, and in a weeks time, was more than 100 miles, with her infant, from the place of its birth.
Mrs. Rogers, from Plymouth, an aged woman, flying with her family, overcome by fatigue and sorrow, fainting in the wilderness, 20 miles from human habitation. She could take no nourishment, and soon died. They made a grave in the best manner they could, and the next day, nearly exhausted, came to a settlement of Germans, who treated them with exceeding great kindness. Mrs. Courtright relates that she, then a young girl, flying with her father's family, saw sitting by the roadside, a widow, who had learned the death of her husband. Six children were on the ground near her. The group, the very image of despair, for they were without food. Just at that moment, a man was seen riding rapidly towards them, from the settlements. It was Mr. Hollenback. For seeing the probable destitution, he had providently loaded his horse with bread, and was hastening back, like an angel of mercy, to their relief. Cry and tears of gratitude and welcome went up to heaven. He imparted a morsel tea each, and hastened onto the relief of others.
Widow of Anderson Dana
The widow of Anderson Dana, Esq., and her widowed daughter, Mrs. Whiton, did not learn, certainly, the deaths of their husbands, until they were at Bullock’s, on the mountain, 10 miles on their way. Many then heard the state of relations, and a messenger brought to Mr. Bullock, word, that both his sons were dead on the field. Then was there mourning and lamentation, and the wringing of hands. Mrs. Dana, had been extraordinarily careful. Not only had she provided food, but taken a pillowcase of valuable papers, (the husband being much engaged in public business,) the preservation of which has thrown much light on our path of research. Depending chiefly on charity, the family sought their ancient home, at Ashford, Windham County, Connecticut. Those few instances selected from an hundred, will present some idea of the dreadful flight.
Early on the morning after the battle, Col. John Butler sent a detachment across the river to Pittston, when Capt. Blanchard surrendered Fort Brown, on terms of fair capitulation; and the Indians marked the prisoners with black paint on the face, telling them to keep it there, and if they went out, each should carry a white cloth on a stick, so that being known, they should not be hurt. Col. Butler also dispatched a messenger to Forty Fort, requesting Col. Dennison to come up, and agree on terms of capitulation. Taking with him Obadiah Gore, Esq., an aged man, and Dr. Gustin, Col. Dennison immediately repaired to headquarters, near the ruins of Wintermoot’s Fort. In discussing the terms, it was insisted that Col. Zubulon Butler, and the remains of Hewitt's company, being continental soldiers, should be surrendered prisoners of war. Col. Dennison desired time to consult with his officers, which was allowed. Returning, he hastened to Wilkes-Barre, where, having an interview with Col. Zubulon Butler, it was judged expedient that he and 14 men remaining at Hewitt’s command, should immediately retire from the valley. Ordering the men to Shamokin, Col. Butler threw a bed upon his horse, took Mrs. B. behind him, and that night tarried at the Nescopeck Valley, (now Conyngham,) 20 miles from Wilkes-Barre. Having reported the fact to Col. John Butler, that all the continental men were beyond his command, negotiations were renewed-Zerah Beach, Esq, and the Rev. Jacob Johnson being present. Terms were agreed-upon, verbally: but there remaining no conveniences for writing, at Wintermoot’s, they were to be committed to paper at 4:00, and the afternoon, and Forty Fort, when the surrender was to take place. It being known that among the stores there was a quantity of whiskey, Col. Butler desired it might be destroyed, for he feared, if the Indians became intoxicated, he could not restrain them. Before the hour, the barrels were rolled to the bank, the heads knocked in, and the liquor emptied into the river.
The two gates of the Fort were now thrown open, and what arms can be found, including those of Franklin's men, were piled up in the center. So capricious was the Fort, that notwithstanding the ranges of huts that lined the sides, there was ample room to drill a company of men. At the appointed time, the victors approached with colors flying and music playing; a column of white men, four abreast, on the left. On the right the savages, also in four files; the Whites, headed by Col. Butler-the Indians led by Queen Esther. "You told me to bring more Indians, Col. Dennison," said the old Fury, drawling out her name, "see here, I have brought you all these." "Be silent," said Col. Butler, "women should be seen, but not heard." The column of Rangers, Royal Greens, and Tories, marched in at the North. Brant, or Gi-en-gwah-toh, with his followers, at the Southgate. The suspicious look of the wary Chief, glancing his flashing eyes, now to the right, now to the left, as it apprehensive of treachery, was well remembered, and graphically described by the late Col. Dorrance. Immediately on entering the Fort, the Tories seized the arms. An order from Col. Butler to replace them, was followed by an address to the Indians, "see, a present the Yankees have made you!" Seeming much pleased, they took them into possession.
The terms of capitulation with then reduced to writing, and (on a table still in possession of Mrs. Myers.) (Those, with other documents of interest-indeed all that could be obtained at the London war office, relating to Wyoming, will be found together at the close of this letter.)
As Col. Butler stood in the gateway, he recognized Sgt. Boyd, the deserter of whom we have before spoken. "Boyd," said he sternly, "go to that tree." "I hope," said Boyd imploringly, "your honor will consider me a prisoner of War." "Go to that tree, sir!" And at a signal the Indians poured in a volley, and he fell dead.
Soon after signing the articles, Col. Butler observed, "that as Wyoming was a frontier, it was wrong for any part of the inhabitants to leave their own settlements, and enter into the continental army abroad; that such a number having done so, was the cause of the invasion, and that it never would have been attempted, if the men had remained at home. Col. Franklin, who heard the declaration, added, "I was of the same opinion."
In a few hours after the Fort was surrendered, the Indians began to plunder, entering the huts, and breaking open trunks and boxes. The town papers were scattered around, the surveys, and other valuable writings destroyed, and the Westmoreland records, with difficulty preserved. Col. Dennison complained, saying he had capitulated relying on the honor of a British officer. "I will put a stop to it, I will put a stop to it," said Butler, and gave preemptory orders to the Chief. "These are your Indians, you must restrain them." Soon after, open and flagrant robberies were renewed, and Col. Dennison again, and with spirit, remonstrated. After another ineffectual effort, Col. Butler said: "I can do nothing with them, I can do nothing with them," and added, that Indians after a successful battle, never could be controlled. He professed to be, and probably was hurt, that such outrages should be committed, in violation of his plighted faith, and positive orders. "Make out a list," added he, "of the property lost, and I pledge my honor it shall be paid for."
Every hour growing bolder and more insolent, the savages soon threw off for all restraint, seized on Col. Dennison, and taking the hat from his head, demanded also the linen frock he wore. In the pocket were a few dollars, the whole military chest of the settlement, and he made some resistance, when they instantly lifting a tomahawk threatened his life. Obliged to comply, he, seeming to have some difficulty in slipping it over his head, stepped backward to where sat a young woman of his family, who comprehending the maneuver, adroitly took out the purse, when he gave up the coveted garment to the spoiler.
So gross and widely circulated have been the errors, in respect to this capitulation, that it is time the truth of history should be vindicated. Gordon, Ramsey, Marshall and Botta, adopting the Poughkeepsie account, have all stated, that on Col. Dennison asking what terms would be granted to him, was answered "the hatchet;" and that thereupon surrendering, fire was set to the Fort, and the prisoners, men, women and children, pitched in on the burning pile, and given up to the flames. The facts, carefully collected by the labor of years, and now faithfully recorded, are sufficiently painful. "Give the devil his due," is an adage, just, as it is old. In another page, this matter being regarded as important, is set forth more at-large. For the present it may be stated, that while in every other particular the terms were violated, no life was taken at Forty Fort, except that of Sgt. Boyd.
Col. Butler finding his commands disregarded, and his authority set at nought, by his own bands of enraged and licentious savages, flushed with victory and drunk with blood; apprehensive to, it is believed, of his own life been taken, if he attempted to enforce the obedience, mustered all his force, whom disciplined can control, and on Wednesday, the eighth, withdrew from the plains. He did not even indulge himself with a visit to Wilkes-Barre, or the lower part of the valley.
His retirement indeed, bore the marks of accelerated retreat. Fear of an attack from any probable force that could be brought to assail him, can hardly be imagined, and the anxiety to leave the ground can only be accounted for on the supposition that he was sickened by the tortures already committed, dreaded the further cruelties of the Indians, and desired by his absence, to escape the responsibility of their future conduct.
As we now part with this bold partisan leader forever, a page cannot be ill devoted in this history, which shall present a just sketch of his character. He was descended, we have great confidence in expressing the belief, from some of the younger branches of the family of the Duke of Ormond, whose name was Butler. Our own opinion is, that the two Col. Butlers were from the same original stock, and perhaps three generations back, their fathers hailed at least as near as cousins. Col. John Butler was a fat man, below the middle stature, yet active; through the visage of the warrior, showing a rather agreeable, then forbidding aspect. Care sat on his brow. Speaking quietly, he repeated his words when excited. Decision, firmness and courage, were undoubted characteristics of the man. So detested is his name, associated with the atrocities perpetuated at Wyoming, that even now, it is not without some fear of offense, we draw of him, what we believe to become a just outline. An old agricultural work says:-"in the town of Kilkenny, Ireland, and near the riverside, stands on an eminence, a fine gothic building belonging to the Butler family, which was erected in the reign of Queen Anne, by the famous Duke of Ormond." Sir Walter Scott, in his legend of Montrose, makes Dalgetty say: "I c’en gave up my commission, and took service with Wallenstein in Walter Butler’s Irish Regiment. Col. John Butler, had a son Walter, who fell on the Mohawk. The ancestor of Col. Butler, as we had elsewhere hinted, probably came over as an Indian agent, (in Queen Anne’s reign, when Ormond was in great power,) with the delegation of kings from the Five Nations, on their return.
It is certain Col. Butler could have commanded much more severe conditions. The settlement was wholly at his mercy. No one can deny that the capitulation, on its face, was, under the circumstances, in a high degree honorable, and favorable to Col. Dennison. Col. Franklin confirms the statement of Mrs. Myers, that Butler exerted himself to restrain the savages, seemed deeply hurt when he was unable to do so, and at once offered, if a list could be furnished of property lost, to make it good. Finally he withdrew his own men, proper, taking, so far as we learn, no plunder. His fault appears to us to have been in his position-his crime, in accepting command, lending his name, and associating with those bloodthirsty and unprincipled savages who were placed under his orders. Their stains, neither time nor charity can remove. But does that not attach with tenfold deeper crimson to the government under whose administration such inhuman agents were directed to be employed? We have some reason to believe that many years after the war, the government of Great Britain having withheld from Butler some token of honor, or expected emoluments, otherwise his due, on account of his alleged treachery and cruelty, he sent a confidential agent to Wyoming to obtain certificates of the true state of the facts; in which he succeeded. That he was regarded as respectable, independent of his commission as a British officer, is shown from the fact, that the American commissioners appointed to treat with the Six Nations, under Washington's administration, (in 1795,) accepted an invitation from Col. Butler, crossed the line, and dined with him.
With Butler, a large portion of the Indians withdrew, and their march presented a picture at once melancholy and ludicrous. Squaws to a considerable number, brought up the rear, a belt of scalps stretched on small hoops, around the waist for a girdle having on, some four, some six, and even more, dresses of chintz or silk, one over the other; being mounted astride on horses, of course all stolen, and on their heads three, four, or five bonnets, one within another, worn wrong side before.
One prisoner taken at Exeter the first of July, when the Hardings and Hadsels were massacred, as we leave the battleground, demands our special notice. Mr. John Gardiner was a husband and father, a highly respectable man, against whom, some unappeasable spirit of enmity is supposed to have existed. On the morning of the fourth his wife and children were permitted to see, and take leave of him. Elisha Harding, Esq., then a boy, was present, and represents the scene as extremely affecting. When the last adieu was exchanged, an Indian placed a grievous load on his shoulders, which he could scarcely raise, then put a halter round his neck, and led him off as he would a beast. The farewell expressed the sentiments; "I go to return no more." Exhausted with fatigue before he arrived at his captor’s home, he fell, exhausted by the weight of his load, when he was handed over to the squaws, who tortured him to death by fire. Daniel Carr, a fellow prisoner, saw the remains the following day, and represented as a site to awaken the deepest pity.
The savages remaining, now freed from the slight restraint the presence of their white allies imposed, gave themselves to the wildest disorder. Separating in parties of from 5 to 10, they scattered through the valley, marking their course as if in sheer wantonness, with fire. After stripping a house of everything fancied, they would either leave, or set fire to it, as whim or caprice seemed to dictate. Such was their joyous exultation, they hardly knew how to give it expression. Constant Searle, Esq., the most aged man who went to the field, had fallen among the rest. An Indian was seen on horseback, wearing his wig hind side before, while his companions would frighten the animal, or prick him with a spear, laughing to see him fall.
From the farm of an aged man by the name of Weeks, in Wilkes-Barre, originally from Fairfield County, seven persons had gone out to battle, (so imperious, so irresistible were demands for men, even to make up the 300.) Philip, Johnson, and Bartholomew Weeks, his sons-Silas Benedict, who married a granddaughter, Jebez Beers, and Josiah Carmen, relatives, and Robert Bates, a border. Horrible slaughter! The whole seven lay dead on the field at night! A band of the Indians came to the house of Mr. Weeks, and bade him remove. "How can I?" Said he, "my whole family you have slain." Getting provisions, they feasted heartily, when one of them wheeled a large rocking chair into the road, took the hat from the old gentleman, and putting it on his own head, sat down, and rocked himself. Allowing him to take a pair of oxen, they gave Mr. Weeks three days to prepare for his departure, when they set fire to the buildings, and destroyed all that was left.
The terms of capitulation being known, and regarded as favorable, the lives of the garrison having been spared, and the savages thus far seeming satisfied with plunder and burning, hope of life dawned, for a moment, upon those that remained; but almost immediately the cheering ray was extinguished in blood.
News came down from the Lackawanna, that Mr. Hickman, his wife and child, were murdered at Capouse. The very next day two men, by the name of Leach and St. John, who were removing with their families, were shot six miles up the Lackawanna. One of them had a child in his arms, which, with strange inconsistency, the Indian took up, and handed to the mother, all covered with the father's blood. Leaving the women in the wagon unhurt, they took the scalps of their husbands, and departed. Again, alarm arose to frenzy. Col. Denison, with all who had remained at Forty Fort, fled; some down the river and some through the swamp.
Except a few who gathered about the Fort at Wilkes-Barre, the whole people abandoned the settlement. Every house and barn, not spared by caprice, was burnt. The valley presented one wide scene of conflagration and ruin.
Col. Zubulon Butler, as soon as possible, wrote a hasty letter to General Washington, stating briefly the fate of the day, and soliciting succour, that if possible, a portion of the harvest might be preserved.
Joining Capt. Spalding, early in August, he returned to Wyoming. A new stockade was erected in Wilkes-Barre, and put in the best posture of defense. So sustained, a number of persons, whose families had fled, returned in the hope to save a portion of the wasting harvest, which had escaped destruction. John Abbott, who had been in the battle, and Isaac Williams, a young man, in attempting to harvest their wheat on Jacob’s Plains, were waylaid and both shot and scalped. The widow of Mr. Abbott, who had fled to Cattawissa, with nine children, (their house and barn having been burnt, and all their property destroyed,) set out on foot, a journey of near 300 miles, and begged their way home to Hampton, and Wyndham County.
About this time, three Indians took prisoners on the Lackawanna, Isaac Tripp, Esq., the elder; Isaac Tripp, his grandson, and two young men, by the names of Keys and Hocksey. The old gentleman they painted and dismissed, but hurried the others into the forest, (now Abington,) above Leggett’s Gap, on the warrior’s path to Oquago. Resting one night, they rose next morning and traveled about two miles, when they stopped at a little stream of water. The two young Indians then took Keys and Hocksey some distance from the path, and were absent half an hour, the old Indian looking anxiously the way they had gone. Presently, the death-whoop was heard, and the Indians return brandishing bloody tomahawks, and exhibiting the scalps of their victims. Tripp’s hat was taken from his head, and his scalped examined twice, the savages speaking earnestly, when at length they told him to fear nothing, he should not be hurt, and carried him off as a prisoner. Luke Swetland and Joseph Blanchard were taken prisoners, near Nanticoke, on the 24th of August, and carried away captives to the Indian country.
Surrounded by murderous parties, a very small portion of the grain could be preserved. Col. Hartley, of the Pennsylvania line, was now ordered to join Col. Butler, and thus strengthened, active offensive measures were instantly adopted, to hunt out and repel the Indians. Having pitched their lodges on the flats, at Sheshequin, within Westmoreland town, an expedition was set on foot, to break up their settlement. A detachment of 130 men marched on the eighth of September, to the West Branch, and thence to Sheshequin. On the 29th a battle ensued. Several Indians were known to be killed, as their bodies were left on the field, and it was not doubted that a number more were slain. Two or three of Col. Hartley's men were killed and several wounded. The Indian settlement was broken up, and besides cattle and horses recovered, a considerable portion of plunder was taken. Col. Hartley, in general orders, at Camp Westmoreland, Oct. 3rd, 1778, not only expresses his satisfaction, generally, with the troops, "during a tiresome and dangerous march, amidst hunger-the wading of rivers at midnight, where not a complaint was heard," but adds, "in short, the whole detachment, with very few exceptions, had acquitted themselves with the highest reputation, and they had the satisfaction to know they have saved lives of many, and served their country." The Col. particularly complements "Capt. Franklin, and the Wyoming volunteers." Sgt. Allison and Thornbury were raised to the rank of ensigns, in Col. Hartley's regiment, for their distinguished bravery in action. On the same day, Lord Butler was officially announced as "quartermaster at this post-to be obeyed as such;" a son, then a youth, of Col. Zebulon Butler. His name will frequently occur in these annals.
The middle of October had come and passed, and the dead yet lay on the field, unburied. Before the autumn frosts it had been impossible to perform the mournful duty.
"Camp Westmoreland, Oct. 21, 1778.-Ordered, that there be a party, consisting of a lieutenant, two sergeants, two corporals, and 25 men, to parade tomorrow morning, with arms, as a guard to those who will go to bury the remains of the men who were killed at the late battle, at and near the place called Wintermoot’s Fort." On the 22nd of October, therefore, the bodies were collected-a large whole dug, in which they were thrown, constant alarm from the enemy preventing a more ceremonious or respectful inhumation.
But few could be recognized. Two brothers of the Ross family had fallen-Lieut. Perrin, aged 31, and Jeremiah, 19. The former was known by a ring he wore. Reserving for chapter of personal narrative, a more particular account of many who fell, we may here observe, to give the reader an impression of the sacrifices families were obliged to make-that there were more than 20 who lost two in the battle; in several instances father and son. The slaughter in Mr. Week’s of family, of seven, we have recorded,-Anderson Dana and Mr. Whiton, his newly married son-in-law; old Mr. Searle, and Capt. Hewitt, his son-in-law, and two of Mr. Bullock's sons have been mentioned. Of the Inman family, three lost their lives, (and one was subsequently murdered). Three of the Coreys fell. The Gores suffered most pitiably. Seven-five sons, and two son-in-law's, of Obadiah Gore, Esq., were in the battle, namely:-Daniel, Samuel, Asa, George, and Silas.-The sons-in-law were Timothy Pierce and John Murfee. At night, three of the sons, and the two sons-in-law lay on the field. Samuel escaped unhurt, Daniel with his arm shattered. Another son, Lieut. Obadiah Gore, was then away with the main line of the Army.
The following is a list of the killed, so far as the persons could be recollected. Probably there might have been 20 or 30 more whose names were not remembered.
List of those killed
- Lieut. Col. George Dorrance
- Major John Garrett
- Robert Durkee
- James Bidlack, Jr.
- Dethick Hewitt
- Asaph Whittlesey
- Aholiab Buck
- Rezin Geer
- William McKarrican
- Lazarus Stewart
- Samuel Ransom
- James Welles
- Perrin Ross
- Timothy Pierce
- Asa Stephens
- Flavius Waterman
- Elijah Shoemaker
- Aaron Gaylord
- Stoddard Bowen
- Lazarus Stewart, Jr.
- A. Atherton
- Asa Gore
- Jeremiah Bigford
- William White
- Titus Hinman
- Silas Gore
- Christopher Avery
- Samuel Bigford
- Jebez Atherton
- Henry Bush
- Samuel Carey
- A. Benedict
- Samuel Cole
- Jebez Beers
- Joseph Crocker
- Elijah Bigsbee (Bixby)
- John Cortright
- Thomas Brown
- John Caldwell
- Amos Bullock
- Josiah Cameron
- Asa Bullock
- Robert Comstock
- John Brown
- Kingsley Comstock
- David Bigsbee (Bixby)
- Samuel Crooker
- John Boyd
- William Coffrin
- Joseph Budd
- Joel Church
- William Buck
- Joseph Corey
- Isaac Campbell
- Joseph Jennings
- James Coffrin
- Henry Johnson
- Christopher Cortright
- Francis Lapard
- Jenks Corey
- Daniel Lawrence
- Rufus Corey
- Josh. Landon
- Anson Corey
- Conrad Lowe
- Anderson Dana
- Jacob Lowe
- James Lock
- Jabez Darling
- William Lawrence
- William Dunn
- A. Meeleman
- D. Denton
- C. McCartee
- Levi Dunn
- Job Marshall
- James Divine
- Nicholas Manvil
- George Downing
- John Murphy
- Conrad Davenport
- Nero Matthewson
- Thomas Fuller
- Andrew Millard
- Stephen Fuller
- Thomas Neil
- Elisha Fish
- Joseph Ogden
- Eliphalet Folet
- J. Otis
- Benjamin Finch
- Abel Palmer
- Daniel Finch
- William Parker
- John Finch
- Noah Pettibone, Jr.
- Cornelius Fitchet
- John Pierce
- Thomas Foxen
- Silas Parke
- John Franklin
- Henry Pensil
- George Gore
- Elias Roberts
- Silas Gore
- Elisha Richards
- Samuel Hutchinson
- Timothy Rose
- James Hopkins
- Christopher Reynolds
- Silas Harvey
- Enos Rockway
- William Hammer
- Jeremiah Ross
- Levi Hicks
- Joseph Staples
- John Hutchins
- Reuben Staples
- Cyprean Hibbard
- Aaron Stark
- Nathaniel Howard
- Daniel Stark
- Benjamin Hatch
- Darius Spafford
- Elijah Inman
- Joseph Shaw
- Israel Inman
- Abram Shaw
- Robert McIntire
- Rufus Stevens
- Samuel Jackson
- Constant Searles
- Robert Jameson
- Nailer Swede
- James Stevenson
- Bartholomew Weeks
- James Spencer
- Rufus Williams
- Levi Spencer
- Elihu Williams, Jr.
- Eleazer Sprague
- Parker Wilson
- Josiah Spencer
- Azibah Williams
- Abel Seeley
- John Wilson
- Ichabod Tuttle
- John Ward
- John Vanwee
- Esen Wilcox
- Abram Vangorder
- Stephen Whiton
- James Wigton
- Elihu Waters
- Peter Wheeler
- John Williams
- Jonathan Weeks
- William Woodward
- Philip Weeks
- Ozias Yale
Roster of Officers
From the records at Hartford, was obtained the following list of officers in the militia, whose commissions were "established" by the assembly, in Oct. 1775. At the time ofn the battle, most of them held different commissions. How dreadful the slaughter must have been, may be inferred from the heavy loss among the officers. The company that lost none, was not present in the battle.
Oct. 1775.-24th Regiment of Connecticut Militia
1st Company: 4th Company:
Capt. Stephen Fuller Capt. Solomon Strong Lieut. Johnny Garrett* Lieut. Jonathan Parker Ensign Christopher Avery* Ensign Timothy Keys 2d Company: 5th Company: Capt. Nathaniel Landon Capt. Wm. McKarrican* Lieut. George Dorrance* Lieut. Lazarus Stewart* Ensign Asahel Buck* Ensign Silas Gore* 3d Company: 6th Company: Capt. Samuel Ransom* Capt. theRezin Geer* Lieut. Perrin Ross* Lieut. Daniel Gore, (wounded) Ensign Asaph Whittlesey* Ensign Matthias Hollenback
Those marked with an asterisk [*] were killed; so that of fifteen, eleven were slain.
All the early historians, who have related the massacre, stated that the houses of Tories left, looked like islands in a sea of fire, an error to important to remain uncontradicted. Below Wintermoot’s, near the head of the valley, it is not known that there was a single Tory house or family. Individuals, laboring men, or hunters, there were a fuel, probably mingling with the inhabitants from policy. Above Wintermoot’s, extending to Wyalusing, the Tory families were scattered, there settlements being recent, holding but a partial intercourse, no sympathy existing between them and the Connecticut inhabitants. On a careful examination of a list found among the papers of Col. Butler, containing 61 names, three only are from New England. The neighbors are of a different people. Wintermoots, Larraways, VanAlstines, Secords, etc., from the Mohawk, Kidderhook, Minnisink, and Westchester, New York. There is good reason to believe, on the breaking out of hostilities with Great Britain, that her comprehensive policy, which, while with gigantic grasp it embraced great interest, yet allowed nothing, however comparatively trivial or minute, to escape attention, foreseeing the necessity of cutting off all friendly communications between the zealous Whig people of Wyoming and the Indians, and with views to ulterior measures, caused these Tory families to remove, and take up the position they held. Gordon says: "An unusual number of strangers had come he will and among them under various pretenses." Certainly there was no disposition of the same number of most devoted partisans, that could have enabled them to render so much service. But this matter has been averted to before.
Soon after Col. Hartley's return from the successful expedition just related, he was recalled from Wyoming, and a garrison left of about an hundred men, including Capt. Spalding, and Capt. Morrison’s Companies, and Capt. Franklin's Wyoming Volunteers, consisting of all the militia, who had returned to the valley. Armed parties labored in the fields, the necessity of sowing, though late, as much grain as possible, being apparent.
Following almost immediately on the footsteps of Hartley's men, band of marauding Indians again made their appearance. Surrounded as Wyoming is by mountains, whereon broken ledges of rocks afforded innumerable places of shelter, parties would lie concealed, reconnoiter, and suddenly striking a blow, retire to their hiding places, where it was impossible to trace them.
Late Fall 1778
On the second of October, four of Capt. Morrison's men were attacked on the west side of the river, three of whom were killed, and one escaped. Monotonous and melancholy, as the record may appear, duty bids us to follow it out. Oct. 14th-William Jameson, returning home from Wilkes-Barre, was shot near where the canal crosses the road below Careytown. Being wounded he fell from the horse, and attempted to gain the woods, but was pursued, tomahawked and scalped. A valuable young man in the prime of life, being 26 years of age. He had been in the battle, and escaped, and his scalp was therefore a doubly valuable prize to the Indians.
Nov. 7-Mr. John Perkins was killed and Plymouth; a victim also, most gratifying to the revengeful savage, as Mr. Perkins had a son in Spalding's Independent Company. William Jackson, and Mr. Lester, taken from the mill at Nanticoke, were marched three miles up into Hanover, and then shot down. And aged man, spoken out as "old Mr. Hageman," a prisoner, and escaped with six wounds, and survived, although the food he took oozed from a spear wounded in his side. Nov. 9th-Capt. Carr and Philip Goss, in attempting to fly in a canoe, were shot below Wapwallopen, and left; the latter dead, the other dying on the shore. Robert Alexander and Amos Parker, were about the same time found murdered in the lower part of the valley.
Late in the fall, Isaac Inman was murdered in Hanover. We have stated the gallant array of determined men that family presented on the day of battle; and the shot of Israel, lying an Indian dead, thereby saving the life of a neighbor closely pursued, and nearly exhausted. The sweet hour of revenge had now come. Isaac said he was sure he heard wild turkeys; he would take his rifle, and try to get one. This was in the afternoon. Not long after a gun was heard, but Isaac did not return. A heavy snow fell that night, and lay till spring, when his body was found, shot, scalped, and a war club by his side, by its marks indicating the tribes that had done the deed.
Even a more distressing tragedy than we have recorded, was enacted near Nescopeck, on the 19th. A whole family was butchered-John Utley, Elisha Utley, and Diah Utley, were attacked. The two first were shot down, and soon dispatched. Diah. The youngest, fled to the river, and swam over to the west side, (near Beech Grove,) but an Indian had crossed before him in a canoe, and struck with a tomahawk as he reached the shore. He pled for his life, but there was no mercy shown. The savages then entered the house, and having murdered and scalped the aged mother, placed her as in sport, in a chair, and so left her. The Utley family were from the east side of the Connecticut River, in Hartford County. An eyewitness of the scene that was presented the next morning, represents the remains of the slaughtered sons, and a ghastly appearance of the mother, as enough to awaken horror and pity in a breast of marble.
Jonathan Slocum, a man with a large family, a member of Friend’s Society, had always been with characteristic benevolence kind to the Indians. At first the savages left him unmolested, but probably learning that his son Giles was in the battle, the family were marked for vengeance. A respectable neighbor, Nathan Kingsley, had been made prisoner, and taken into the Indian country, leaving his wife and two sons to the charity of the neighbors. Taking them home, Mr. Slocum bade them welcome, until Mr. Kingsley should be liberated, or some other mode of subsistence present. On the second of November, the two boys being engaged grinding a knife, a rifle shot, and cry of distress, brought Mrs. Slocum to the door, where she beheld an Indian scalping Nathan, the eldest lad, 15 years of age, with the knife he had been sharpening. Waving her back with his hand, he entered the house, and took up Ebenezer Slocum, a little boy. The mother stepped up to the savage, and reaching for the child said: "he can do you know good, see, he is lame." With a grim smile, giving up the boy, he took Francis her daughter, aged about five years, gently in his arms, and seizing the younger Kingsley by the hand, hurried away to the mountains; two savages who were with him, taking a black girl, 17 years old. This was within an hundred rods of the Wilkes-Barre Fort. An alarm was instantly given, but the Indians alluded pursuit, and no traces of their retreat could be found.
The cup of vengeance was not yet full. Dec. 16th, (or about 40 days, allowing time for the war party to go to the Indian country with their prisoners, recruit themselves, and return,) Mr. Slocum, and Isaac Tripp, Esq. his father-in-law, and aged man, with William Slocum, a youth of 19, or 20, were foddering cattle from a stack in the meadow, in sight of the Fort, when they were fired upon by Indians. Mr. Slocum was shot dead; William, wounded by a spent ball in the heel, escaped, and gave the alarm, but the alert and wily foe had retreated to their hiding place in the mountain. This deed, bold as it was cruel, was perpetrated within the town plot, in the center of which the Fort was located. Thus in little more than a month, Mrs. Slocum had lost a beloved child, carried into captivity; the doorway had been drenched in blood by the murder of an inmate of the family; two others of the household had been taken away prisoners; and now, her husband and her father were both stricken down to the grave, murdered and mangled by merciless Indians! Barely the annals of Indian atrocities, written in blood, record few instances of desolation and woe to equal this.
I shall make no apology for anticipating more than a half-century, in my narrative, to give a brief account of the lost sister, little captive, Francis Slocum, so that the whole may be presented in one connected chain. The widowed mother heard nothing from her child. Peace came, and prisoners returned, but no one had seen, or could tell aught respecting her. As to those whom she knew were dead, they were at rest; the lamp of hope, as to them, had ceased to burn; and she bowed, as years passed away, in melancholy, but calm resignation, for those who could not return. But not so as to Francis; she might survive. She did live the cherished object of intensest love in the imagination of her fond mother, rendered tenfold dearer by the blighting sorrows that crushed her house, when they were parted. Her first waking thought in the morning was for her lost one; her last, on retiring to rest, was for her child, her lost child. After the conclusion of peace, and intercourse with Canada was opened, two of her brothers, then amongst the most intelligent and enterprising young men in the Valley, led by their own sense of propriety and affection, and urged by a mother's tears, determined, if living, to find Francis, and restore her to home and friends. Connecting business with their search, they traversed the Indian settlements, and went as far as Niagara, making careful inquiries for Francis. The Indians, whom they saw, and inquired of in great numbers, did not know, or more probably would not reveal, the place of her location. High rewards, sufficient to tempt Indian cupidity, were offered in vain, and the brothers came to the conclusion that she must be dead, probably slain by her merciless captors; or, surely she would have been heard of; someone must have seen her!
Still, still, the fond mother saw in her dreams the cherished object of her love. Playful-smiling, as in infancy, she appeared before her. The Francis was not in the grave; she knew she was not. Her afflicted soul clung to the idea of recovering her daughter, as the great and engrossing object of her life. At length news came. A woman answering to the description was found, and claimed to be the child of Mrs. Slocum. About the proper age, she had been taken away captive when very young; knew not her parents, her own name, but had been carried off from the Susquehanna River. Mrs. Slocum took her home, and treated her with all possible tenderness and care. But soul did not answer to soul; the spirit did not respond to spirit; that secret and mysterious sympathy which exists between a mother and her offspring, did not draw them together. It might be her daughter, Mrs. Slocum said, but it did not seem so to her. "Yet the woman should be ever welcome." The unfortunate person, no impostor, an orphaned in deed, simple and upright in intention, felt a persuasion and in her own mind that these were not her relations, and taking presents, voluntarily returned to her Indian friends. At length time obliterated the last ray of hope, and Mrs. Slocum, and in an advanced age, descended to the grave.
In August, 1837, 59 years after the capture, a letter appeared in the Lancaster Intelligencer, written by E. W. Ewing, of Logansport, Indiana, dated January 20, 1835, a year and a half previous, stating:-"There is now living near this place, among the Miami tribe of Indians, an aged white woman, who, a few days ago told me that she was taken away from her father's house, on, or near the Susquehanna River, when she was very young. She says her father's name was Slocum; that he was a Quaker, and wore a large brimmed hat; that he lived about half a mile from a town where there was a Fort. She has two daughters living. Her husband is dead-she is old and feeble, and thinks she shall not live long. These considerations induced her to give the present history of herself-which she never would before, fearing her kindred would come and force her away. She has lived long, and happy as an Indian-is very respectable, and wealthy, sober, and honest-her name is without reproach."
The sensation produced by this letter throughout Wyoming can scarcely be imagined. "Is that Francis? Can she be alive? How wonderful!" Not an idle hour was lost. Her brother, Joseph Slocum, though near 1000 miles intervened, moved by affection, a sense of duty-and the known wishes of a beloved parent, made immediate preparations for a journey. Uniting with his younger brother, Isaac, who resides in Ohio, they hastened to Logansport, where they had the good fortune to meet Mr. Ewing. Francis, who resides about a dozen miles from that place, was soon apprised of their coming. While hope predominated, doubt and uncertainty, amounting almost to jealousy or suspicion, occupied her mind. She came into the village riding a high-spirited horse, her two daughters, tastefully dressed in Indian costume, accompanying her, with a husband of one of them, the elite among Indian beaux. Her manners were grave, her bearing reserved; she listened, through an interpreter, to what they had to say. But night approached. Cautious and prudent, she rode back to her home, promising to return the coming morning. At the appointed hour she alighted her steed, and met them with something more of frankness, but still seemed desirous of further explanation. It was evident on all sides they were almost prepared for the recognition. Mr. Joseph Slocum at length said, what he had so far purposely kept back, that the his sister, at play in her father smith's shop with the children, had received a blow on the middle finger of the left hand, by a hammer on the anvil, which crushed the bone, and the mother had always said that would be a test which could not be mistaken. Her whole confidence was instantly lighted up with smiles, while tears ran down her cheeks, and she held out the wounded hand. Every lingering doubt was dispelled. Hope was merged into confidence. The tender embrace, the welcome recognition, the scared, the exulting glow of brotherly and sisterly affection, filled every heart present to overflowing. Her father! Her dear, dear mother! Did she yet live? But they must long since, in the course of nature, have been gathered to their native dust. Her brothers and sisters? The slumbering affections awakened to life, broke forth in earnest inquiries for all whom she should love.
She then related the leading events of her life. Her memory, extremely tenacious, enabled her to tell, that, on being taken, her captors hastened to a rocky cave on the mountain, where blankets and a bed of dried leaves, showed that they had slept. On the journey to the Indian country she was kindly treated, the Indian carrying her, when she was weary, in his arms. She was immediately adopted into an Indian family, and brought up as their daughter, but with more than common tenderness. Young Kingsley, who was located near them, in a few years died. About the time she had grown up to womanhood, both her Indian parents, who she loved and mourned, were taken away, and not long afterwards, she married a young Chief of the Nation, and removed to the waters of the Ohio. Treated with respect and confidence, few of the burdens women in the savage state are compelled to bear, were imposed upon her; and she was so happy in her family and connexions, that the idea of being found, and returned to live with the white people, was dreaded as the greatest evil that could befall her. On the death of her Chief, she married her last husband, but has been a widow for many years. After stating, but with much more minuteness, the principal events of her life, with great solemnity she raised her hand, and looking up, said:-"All this is true as that there is a God (or Great Spirit), in the heavens."
It is evident from her wealth, the extreme attachment to her people, and mode of life, connected with the strength of mind and memory displayed, that Francis Slocum must have been a Queen among them. Doubtless her superior understanding gave great influence, and led to a flattering deference to her opinions everywhere, in savage or civilized society, so agreeable. All possible pains had therefore been taken to render life pleasant to her; and doubtless to invite her mind with fear and dislike of the Whites, so that she would not make known her name, and earnestly desired, when prisoners were inquired for, that she might not be betrayed, deeming a return, not a blessing to be desired, but a calamity to be deplored. Undoubtedly to, her strong sense told her, not by any process of reasoning, but by an intuitive perception, that however much a mother's heart may yearn and for the lost child, that child could only return so changed as to render living with the white people difficult, and embarrassing, if not impossible. Time and education had made her of another race, and the truest wisdom dictated acquiescence in her lot.
The next day the brothers, with the interpreter, rode out to visit their sister. Everything bore the appearance, not only of plenty, but of rude abundance. Numerous cattle grazed in the meadows-50 horses pranced proudly over the fields. The house was halfway between the Indian wigwam, and the more finished mansion of a farmer. An oven, well baked cakes of flour, venison nicely prepared, and honey, afforded an excellent repast. But the absence of milk and butter, so easily commanded in profusion, told of savage life. As a token of an entire confidence being established, Francis placed a piece of venison under a snow white cloth, when one of the brothers lifted it up, and this was regarded as a formal covenant of recognition and affection. An agreeable visit of several days was passed, and has since been repeated by another branch of the family.
The Indian name of the lost sister was
Ma-con-a-quah-a young bear.
Eldest daughter.-Kich-ke-ne-che-quah-cut finger; probably in an allusion to the mother's wounded hand.
Youngest daughter.-O-saw-she-quah-yellow leaf.
Congress recently passed a resolution exempting Francis (the lost sister) from the necessity of removing with her family from their present location. Several other Indian names, more remotely allied to her, are therein mentioned.
Mrs. Bennett, daughter of Joseph Slocum, and Lady of honorable Ziba Bennett, with the most praiseworthy disregard of toil and danger, accompanied her father on his visit to Indiana. Her account of the interview with her aunt, is of the most interesting and pleasing character. It is to be hoped she may be induced to give her journal and notes the form of letters, or a pamphlet for there are few so capable of sketching a lively and correct narrative, or of presenting a picture, of itself so full of interest, and a form more neat and attractive.
Their not comprehending each other's language, was of course a serious bar to social enjoyment, and that unreserved and affectionate intercourse, which, without the intervention of interpreter, they would have indulged in. We regarded this as one of the most remarkable series of events Providence, and its unsearchable wisdom, has ever permitted to be developed. It may gratify the distant reader to know, as it is a pleasure to record, that the encrimsoned night of bloodshed and woe, which seemed in 1778 to have settled forever on the family of Slocum, has long since broken away. Sunshine, and gladness, and prosperity have arisen, and shed their cheering rays over them in an especial manner, during the last 40 years. A number of the sons, highly enterprising, have fulfilled their duties on the stage of action, with exemplary propriety. One was High Sheriff of the county; another for many years a magistrate. Others might have shared the honors of office, if they would have given up their time to public concerns, to the neglect of their own. And now (1843) if the eye of the departed grandsire could look down on the borough, he would see in the position of his descendants, sufficient to fill his heart to overflowing with pride and joy. Forgetting his own sufferings, his spirit would bless the day that he established his family-
"On Susquehanna side, fair Wyoming."
Resuming our narrative, a paragraph of praise is specially due to Thomas Neill, an Irishman, of middle age, the most learned man in the Valley. A Catholic, high-mason, fond of dress-remarkable for his fine flow of spirits and pleasing manners; a bachelor, and a schoolmaster, he was a favorite. With characteristic bravery, his Irish spirit broke out as the danger became pressing. "The Yankees are the weakest party-the odds are against them-though I have no special interest in the fight, so help me heaven! I’ll take a turn with them." Marching out and Capt. M’Karrican’s Company, he fell. Nor should the generous spirit of William Jones of Virginia, be forgotten. A young man, quite accomplished, he taught school in the Valley, and, like Neill, volunteered his services on the day of the battle. He went to return no more. The names of these two victims to those pure and chivalric sentiments that ennoble nature, I owe the memory of the late Mrs. Youngs.
Copies and extracts of documents relative to the expedition against Wyoming, in 1778, now a volume in her Majesty's state paper office, London, and titled "Military, 1778-number 122."
Extract of a letter from Sir Henry Clinton, to Lord George Germain, dated New York, Aug. 12, 1778.
- "Reports, which seemed to be credited, say that a body of Indians, assembled under the command of a Col. Butler, have destroyed a number of settlements upon the frontiers of Pennsylvania, and repulsed what troops the rebels had collected to oppose them. When I receive certain intelligence of their proceedings, I shall take the earliest opportunity to acquaint your Lordship therewith"***
Extract of a letter from Sir Henry Clinton to Lord George Germain, dated New York, Sept. 15th, 1778.
- "I have at the same time, my Lord, the honor to transmit to you, a copy of a letter from Major Butler to Lt. Col. Bolton, which I receive from General Haldimand, a few days since, giving an account of the proceedings of the former upon the frontiers of Pennsylvania."
[Enclosures in the above.]
Copy of a letter from Lt. Col. Bolton to Capt. LeMaistre, dated Niagara, July 14th, 1778.
"Sir,-I have the pleasure of acquainting you with the signal success of the Rangers and Indians, with Col. Butler, over the rebels at Wyoming, where they had no less than 10 stockaded forts, and were defeated; enclosed, I send you the particulars, which I request you will lay before his Excellency. I received them this moment, by Lieut. Hare, of the Rangers. The Caldwell being ready to sail, I have only time to assure you that I am, with esteem, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.
"[Signed,] Mason Bolton.
"I request you will inform Capt. Butler of the Col. success.
"Captain Le Maistre."
[Enclosed is the foregoing.-copy of a letter from major John Butler to Lt. Col. Bolton, dated Lacuwanack, 8th July, 1778.]
[Disallowed at the foreign office.]
Note by Mr. Broadhead. This is the report. It is about four foolscap pages long. J. R. B.
Copy of articles of capitulation, for Wintermoot’s Fort, July 1, 1778.
Art. 1st. That Lieut. Elisha S. Goebel surrender the Fort, with all the stores, arms and ammunition, that are in said Fort, as well public as private, to Major John Butler.
2d. That the garrison shall not bear arms during the present contest; and Major Butler promises that the men, women and children shall not be hurt, either by Indians or Rangers.
Fort Jenkins’ Fort, July 1st, 1778.
Between Major John Butler, on behalf of His Majesty King George the Third, and John Jenkins.
Art, 1st. That the Fort, with all the stores, arms and ammunitions, be delivered up immediately.
2d. That major John Butler shall preserve to them, intire, the lives of the men, women and children.
Articles of capitulation for three Forts at Lacuwanack, 4th July, 1778.
Art. 1st. That the different commanders of the said Forts, do immediately deliver up, with all the arms, ammunition and stores, in the said forts.
2d. Major Butler promises that the lives of the men, women and children be preserved intire.
Westmoreland, July 4th, 1778.
Capitulation made and completed between Major John Butler, on behalf of his Majesty King George the Third, and Col. Nathan Denison, of the United States of America.
Art. 1. That the inhabitants of the settlement lay down their arms, and the garrison be demolished.
2d. That the inhabitants are to occupy their farms peaceably, and the lives of the inhabitants preserved intire and unhurt.
3d. That the continental stores be delivered up.
4th. That Major Butler will use his utmost influence that the private property of the inhabitants shall be preserved intire to them.
5th. That the prisoners, at Forty Fort, be delivered up, and that Samuel Finch, now and Major Butler's possession, be delivered up also.
6th. That the property taken from the people called Tories, up the river, be made good: and they to remain in peaceable possession of their farms, unmolested in a free trade, in and throughout this State, as far as lies in my power.
7th. That the inhabitants, that Col. Denison now capitulates for, together with himself, do not take up arms during the present contest.
[Signed,] Nathan Denison,
Zarah Beech, Samuel Gustin,
John Johnson, Wm. Caldwell.
Extract of a letter from Lord George Germain to Sir Henry Clinton, dated Whitehall, 4th of November, 1778.
- "The success of Lt. Col. Butler, is distinguished for the few lives that have been lost among the Rangers and Indians he commanded; and for his humanity in making those only his object, who were in arms: and it is much to the credit of the officers and Rangers of his detachment, that they seem to partake of the spirit and perseverance which is common to all the British officers and soldiers."****
[copies from the original in this state paper office, London, 11th April, 1843.] J. R. Brodhead
Some matters of interest will be found in this note. The letter of Judge Marshall, dated February 15, 1831, is curious in this respect. It acknowledges in simple style, the receipt of a letter written 25 years before, as if it had been a thing of the day before yesterday. It may well be doubted, whether the records of correspondence, from remotest time, exhibit a similar instance.
Washington, February 15th, 1831.
Sir-I am much indebted to you for a letter received in April, 1806, correcting some errors in which our history has fallen, in its relation of the destruction of the Wyoming settlement, during the war of our revolution. The readiness you express in that letter, to give a true statement of that memorable tragedy, encourages me to make some further inquiries on the subject.
Your account of the battle is full, and I understand it perfectly; but you have entered into no detail of subsequent events, and I am not sure whether you contradict or agree with Gordon and Ramsey, respecting those events. They say that the two principal forts were Kingston and Wilkes-Barre. That after the defeat, the men, women and children were collected in these forts, and after their surrender, were consumed by fire, in their houses. Is this representation correct? I should conjecture, from your letter, that the country was abandoned immediately after the defeat; but it seems impossible that all the circumstances relative to the surrender of the forts, and the horrors perpetrated afterwards, can be mere fable. You do not say from what place Cols. Denison and Butler marched to the battle.
May I tax your goodness so far as to ask a statement of the occurrences which followed the battle, unless that made by Gordon and Ramsey, may be considered as perfectly correct?
I shall remain at this place until the middle of March, when I propose to return to Richmond.
With very great respect, I am your obliged and obedient servant, J. Marshall.
Richmond, Jun. 9th, 1831.
Dear Sir-I am greatly indebted to you for your letter of the 5th of May, and its enclosures, which reached this place, while I was in North Carolina. I have been closely occupied with the business of the court since my return; but should certainly have acknowledged its receipt immediately, had I not conjectured from the place of its date (Wilkes-Barre) that a letter written immediately, would not find you at home.
It is certainly desirable that historical narrative should be correct, and I shall avail myself of the information you have been so obliging as to furnish, so far at least as to omit the massacre and the charge of Toryism on the inhabitants.
Mr. Ramsey, I presume, copied his statement from Mr. Gordon, and I relied upon both as I knew Mr. Gordon made personal inquiries into most of the events of the war, and that Mr. Ramsey was in Congress, and consequently had access to all the letters on the subject. It is surprising that they should have so readily given themselves up to the newspapers of the day.
It was certainly our policy during the war to excite the utmost possible irritation against our enemy, and it is not surprising that we should not always had been very mindful of the verity of our publication; but when we come to the insertion of facts in serious history, truth ought never to be disregarded. Mr. Gordon and Mr. Ramsey ought to have sought for it.
I must complain of your paying the postage on your letter. It is my habit, when I write to a gentleman about my own affairs, not to charge them with my letter; but when a gentleman writes to me on my business, the case is entirely altered. I am pained at his incurring any expense on your account.
I repeat my thanks for your valuable communications, and my assurances that I am with respectful esteem, your obliged and obedient servant, J. Marshall.
Gordon's (the Revolutionary historian) account of the massacre, we copy to show what has passed heretofore, for history; and one-half the world seem still resolved to regard as such. A recent publication in a respectable city paper, retains the whole mass of early errors, and a letter to the author from a learned gentleman, whose wife's father was in Forty Fort, when the surrender, written expressly to convey information for our annals, repeats the story of the "the hatchet," an instant massacre of all who were in the Fort, although his father-in-law and wife, both prisoners, escaped to relate to him the event. The pages of Botta, are yet more fanciful. But to Gordon's account:-
"At length, in the beginning of July, the enemy suddenly appeared in full force on the Susquehanna, headed by Col. John Butler, a Connecticut Tory, and cousin to Col. Zubulon Butler, the second in command in the settlement. He was assisted by most of those leaders, who had rendered themselves terrible in the present frontier war. Their force was about 1600 men, near a fourth Indians, led by their own chiefs; the others were so disguised and painted as not to be distinguished from the Indians, excepting their officers, who being dressed in regimentals, carried the appearance of regulars. One of the smaller forts, garrisoned chiefly by Tories, was given up, or rather betrayed. Another was given by storm, and all but the women and children, massacred in the most in human manner.
July 3.-Col. Zubulon Butler, leaving a small number to guard Fort Wilkesborough, crossed the river with about 400 men, and marched into Kingston Fort, whither women, children, and defenseless of all sorts, crowded for protection. He suffered himself to be enticed by his cousin to abandon the fortress. He agreed to march out, and hold a conference with the enemy in the open field, (at so great a distance from the Fort, as to shout out all possibility of protection from it) upon their withdrawing according to their own proposal, in order to the holding of a parlay for the conclusion of the Treaty. He at about the same time marched out about 400 men well armed, being nearly the whole strength of the garrison, to guard his person to the place of parlay, such was his distrust of the enemy's designs. On his arrival, he found nobody to treat with him, and yet advanced toward the foot of the mountain, where at a distance he saw a flag, the holders of which, seemingly afraid of treachery on his side, retired as he advanced; whilst, endeavoring to remove this pretended ill impression pursued the flag, till his party was thoroughly enclosed, when he was suddenly freed from his delusion, by finding it attacked at once on every side. He and his men, notwithstanding, the surprise and danger, but with resolution and bravery, kept up so continual and heavy a fire for three-quarters of an hour, that they seemed to gain a marked superiority. In this critical moment, a soldier, through a sudden impulse of fear, or premeditated treachery, cried out loud, "the Col. has ordered a retreat." The fate of the party was now at once determined. In the state of confusion that ensued, an unresisted slaughter commenced, while the enemy broke in on all sides without obstruction. Col. Zubulon Butler, and about 70 of his men, escaped; the latter got across the river to Fort Wilkesborough, the Col. made his way to Fort Kingston, which was invested the next day (July 4th,) on the land side. The enemy, to sadden the dropping spirits of the weak remaining garrison, sent in for their contemplation the bloody scalps of 196 of their late friends and comrades. The kept up a continual fire upon the Fort the whole day. In the evening, the Col. quitted the Fort, and went down the river with his family. He is thought to be the only officer that escaped.
July 5.-Col. Nathan Denison, who succeeded to the command, seeing the impossibility of ineffectual defense, went with a flag to Col. John Butler, to know what terms he would grant on a surrender, to which application Butler answered with more than savage phlegm in two short words-the hatchet. Denison having defended the Fort till most of the garrison were killed or disabled, was compelled to surrender at discretion. Some of the unhappy persons in the Fort were carried away alive, but the barbarous conquerors, to save the trouble of murder in detail, shut up the rest promiscuously in the houses and barracks, which having set on fire, they enjoyed the savage pleasure of beholding the whole consumed in one general blaze.
They then crossed the river to the only remaining Fort, Wilkesborogh, which, in hopes of mercy, surrendered without demanding any conditions. They found about 70 Continental soldiers, who had been engaged merely for the defense of the frontiers, whom they butchered with every circumstances of horrid cruelty. The remainder of the men, women and children, were shut up as before in the houses, which being set on fire, they perished altogether in the flames.
A general scene of devastation was now spread through all the townships. Fire, sword, and other different instruments of destruction, alternately triumph. The settlements of the Tories alone generally escaped, and appeared as islands in the midst of the surrounding ruin. The merciless ravagers, having destroyed the main objects of their cruelty, directed their animosity to every part of living nature belonging to them: shot and destroyed some of their cattle, and cut out the tongues of others, leaving them still alive to prolong their agonies.
The following are a few of the more singular circumstances of the barbarity practiced in the attack upon Wyoming. Capt. Bidlack, who had been taken prisoner, being stripped naked, had his body's stuck full of splinters of pine knots, and then a heap of pine knots piled around him; the whole was then set on fire, and his two companions, Captains Ransom and Durkee, thrown alive into the flames, and held down with pitch forks. The returned Tories, who had at different times abandoned the settlement, in order to join in those savage expeditions, were the most distinguished for their cruelty; in this they resemble the Tories that join the British forces. One of these Wyoming Tories, whose mother had married a second husband, butchered with his own hands, both her, his father-in-law, his own sisters, and their infant children. Another, who during his absence had sent home several threats against the life of his father, now not only realized them in person, but was himself with his own hands, the exterminator of his whole family, mother, brothers and sisters, and mingled their blood in one common carnage, with that of the ancient husband and father."