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selves at the narrow rocky defile at Nanticoke falls, through which Plunkett's men must necessarily pass. The assailants were welcomed with a volley of musketry on their first entrance into the defile, from the rampart on the western side. They fell back and deliberated. Pulling their small boat above the falls, they determined to pass their troops over in small parties to the eastern side, and pass up into the
valley under the beetling precipice that frowns upon the river there. The first boat load, which Plunkett accompanied, were attempting to land, when they were startled by a heavy fire from Lieut. Stewart and a small party there concealed in the bushes. One man was killed—they tumbled into the boat and floated down the river as fast as the rapids would carry them. Another council was held—to force the breastwork on the western side was deemed impracticable—the amount of the force on the opposite shore was unknown; to ascend the steep rocky mountains in the face of a foe that could reach the summit before them, and tumble down rocks upon their heads, was equally impracticable; and as in a few days the river might close, and leave them no means of exit by water, they concluded to abandon the enterprise. This was the last effort against Wyoming of the provincial government, which expired the next year, amid the flames of revolution.
For a time after the commencement of the revolution, the valley of Wyoming was allowed a season of comparative repose. Both Connecticut and Pennsylvania had more important demands upon their attention. The census of the valley at this time is estimated by Mr. Miner, from authentic data, at about 2,500 inhabitants. At the opening of the revolution," the pulsations of patriotic hearts throbbed with unfaltering energy throughout Wyoming. The fires of liberty glowed with an ardor intense and fervent.” At a town meeting held Aug. 1, 1775, it was voted, “ That we will unanimously join our brethren of America in the common cause of defending our liberty." Aug. 28, '76,“ Voted, that the people be called upon to work on ye forts without either fee or reward from
said town." The same year, Lieut. Obadiah Gore enlisted part of a company and joined the continental army. Two other companies, each of 86 men, under Capt. Robert Durkee and Capt. Samuel Ransom, were raised under a resolution of congress the same year, and joined the continental army as part of the Connecticut line. These men were in the glorious affair at Mill Stone ; they were in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, and in the terrible cannonade at Mud Fort, (below Philadelphia,) where the gallant Spalding commanded the detachment, and where the brave Matthewson was cut in two by a cannon ball. In Dec. 1777, the town meeting voted, poor as they were, and almost all their ablebodied men away in the service-nobly voted, " that the committee of inspectors be empowered to supply the sogers' wives and the sogers' widows and their families with the necessaries of life.”
Wyoming was an exposed frontier bordering on the country of the Six Nationsma people numerous, fierce, and accustomed to war. From Tioga Point, where they would rendezvous, in twenty-four hours they could descend the Susquehanna in boats to Wyoming. Nearly all the ablebodied men of Wyoming fit to bear arms, had been called away into the
It was to be expected that the savages, and their British employers, should breathe vengeance against a settlement that had shown such spirit in the cause of liberty. They were also, beyond
doubt, stimulated by the absconding tories, who were burning with a much stronger desire to avenge what they conceived to be their own wrongs, than with ardor to serve their king. The defenceless situation of the settlement could not be concealed from the enemy, and would naturally invite aggression, in the hope of weakening Washington's army by the diversion of the Wyoming troops for the defence of their own frontier. All these circumstances together marked Wyoming as a devoted victim.
The following sketch of the memorable battle of 1778 is condensed from the plea of the Wyoming delegation, drawn up by the Hon. Charles Miner, and intended to be delivered before the legislature of Connecticut with some additional facts from “the Hazleton Travellers," and other sources.
Late in June, 1778, there descended the Susquehanna Col. John Butler, with his own tory rangers, a detachment of Sir John Johnson's Royal Greens, and a large body of Indians, chiefly Senecas. The British and Tories numbered about 400—the Indians about 700. Jenkins's fort was at the head of the valley, just below the gorge. This fort capitulated on the 2d July, to a detachment under Capt. Caldwell. Wintermoot's fort had been built near Jenkins's, by a Lor Dutch family of that name, with a view, as afterwards appeared, to aid the incursions of the tories. As suspected, Wintermoot's fort at once threw open its gates to the enemy. Ilere the British and Indian force was assembled at dinner just before the battle. To defend the settlement against this force was a half-raised company of Capt. Deathic (Dæterick] Hewitt, consisting of 40 or 50 men, and the militia, the remains merely, out of which the three companies above mentioned had been enlisted for the continental army. There were several forts at Wyoming, not regular fortifications, with walls, and embrazures, and great guns—but stockades, built by setting logs on end in ditches, close together, surrounding a space for the retreat of the women and children, with no other means of defence than the small-arms of the men, firing through loopholes. In all Wyoming valley there was but one cannon, a four-pounder, without ball, kept at the Wilkesbarre fort as an alarm gun. Against such a force as the enemy mustered, not one of these forts could have held out an hour, or kept the foe from reducing them to ashes. Some of the aged men out of the train-bands formed themselves into companies to garrison the forts and yield to the helpless such protection as they could. Except at Pittston—which, from its position, was imminently exposed—no company of the Wyoming regiment was retained for partial defence. All the rest assembled at Forty Fort, on the Kingston side, prepared in the best man. ner they could to meet the enemy. They numbered about 400 men and boys, including many not in the train-band. Old, gray-headed men, and grandfathers, turned out to the muster.
Col. Zebulon Butler happened to be at Wyoming at the time, and though he had no proper command, by invitation of the people he placed himself at their head, and led them to battle. There never was more courage displayed in the various scenes of war. History does not por. tray an instance of more gallant devotion. There was no other alternative but to fight and conquer, or die; for retreat with their families was impossible. Like brave men, they took commsel of their courage. On the 3d of July they marched out to meet the enemy. Col. Žebulon Butler commanded the right wing, aided by Maj. Garret. Col. Dennison commanded the left, assisted by Lieut. Col. Gcorge Dorrance. The field of fight was a plain, partly cleared and partly covered with scrub-oak and yellow-pine. The right of the Wyoming men rested on a steep bank, which descends to the low river-flats: the left extended to a marsh, thickly covered with timber and brush. Opposed to Col. Zebulon Butler, of Wyoming, was Col. John Butler, with his tory ran. gers, in their green uniform. The enemy's right wing, opposed to Col. Dennison, was chiefly composed of Indians, [led on, says Col. Stone, by a celebrated Seneca chief, named Gi-en-guak. toh; or He-who-goes-in-the-smoke.]* It was between four and five o'clock in the afternoon when
* Until the publication, year before last, of the Life of Brant, [by W. L. Stone,) it had been asserted in all history that that celebrated Mohawk chieftain was the Indian leader at Wyoming. He himself always denied any participation in this bloody expedition, and his assertions were corroborated by the British officers, when questioned upon the subject. But these denials, not appearing in history, relieved him not from the odium; and the “monster Brant” has been denounced, the world over, as the author of the massacre. In the work referred to above, the author took upon himself the vindication of the savage warrior from the accusation, and, as he thought at the time, with success. A reviewer of that work, however, in the Democratic Magazine, who is understood to be the Hon. Caleb Cushing of Massachusetts, disputed the point, maintaining that the vindication was not satisfactory. The author thereupon made a journey in.
the engagement began, and for some time it was kept up with great spirit. On the right, in open field, our men fired and advanced a step, and the enemy was driven back. But their numbers, nearly three to one, enabled them to outflank our men, especially on the left, where the ground, a swamp, was exactly fitted for savage warfare. Our men fell rapidly before the Indian rifles; the rear as well as the flank was gained, and it became impossible to maintain the position. An order to fall back, given by Col. Dennison, so as to present a better front to the enemy, could not be executed without confusion, (and some misunderstood it as a signal for retreat.) The practised enemy, not more brave, but, besides being more numerous, familiarized to war in fifty battles, sprang forward, raised their horrid yell from one end of the line to the other, rushed in with the tomahawk and spear, and our people were defeated. They deserved a better fate. One of the men yielding a little ground, Col. Dorrance, a few minutes before he fell, with the utmost coolness, said, "Stand up to your work, sir.” After the enemy was in the rear, “See !” said an officer to Capt. Hewett, “ the enemy is in force behind us; shall we retreat ?" “I'll be dd if I do!” was his reply; and he fell, at the head of his men. “We are nearly alone,” said West. brook; "shall we go ?" “I'll have one more shot first,” replied Cooper. That instant a savage sprang towards him with his spear. Cooper stretched him on the earth, and reloaded before he left the ground. When the left was thrown into confusion, our Col. Butler threw himself in front, and rode between the two lines, exposed to the double fire. “Don't leave me, my children," said he ; "the victory will be ours.” But what could 400 undisciplined militia ettect against 1,100 veteran troops? The battle was lost! Then followed the most dreadful massacre-the most heart.rending tortures. The brave but overpowered soldiers of Wyoming were slaughtered without mercy, principally in the flight, and after surrendering themselves prisoners of war. The plain, the river, and the island of Monockonock were the principal scenes of this horrible massacre. Sixteen men, placed in a ring around a rock, (which is still shown, behind the house of Mr. Gay, near the river,) were held by stout Indians, while they were, one by one, slaughtered by the knife or tomahawk of a squaw. One individual, a strong man, by the name of Hammond, escaped by a desperate effort. In another similar ring, nine persons were murdered in the same way. Many were shot in the river, and hunted out and slain in their hiding-places, (in one instance by a near, but adverse relative,)* on the now beautiful island of Monockonock. But sixty of the men, who went into the battle, survived; and the forts were filled with widows and orphans, (it is said the war made 150 widows and 600 orphans in the valley,) whose tears and cries were suppressed after the surrender, for fear of provoking the Indians to kill them; for it was an Indian's pastime to brandish the tomahawk over their heads.
A few instances will show how universal was the turn-out, and how general was the slaughter. Of the Gore family, one was away with the army, five brothers and two brothers-in-law went into the battle. At evening five lay dead on the field, one returned with his arm broken by a rifle-ball; the other, and only one, unhurt. From the farm of Mr. Weeks, seven went out to batile; five sons and sons-in-law, and two inmates. Not one escaped-the whole seven perished. Anderson Dana went into battle with Stephen Whiting, his son-in-law, a few months before married to his daughter. The dreadful necessity of the hour allowed no exemption like that of the Jewish law, by which the young bridegroom might remain at home for one year, to cheer up his bride. The field of death was the resting-place of both. Anderson Dana, Jr., still living—then a boy of nine or ten years old-was left the only protector of the family. They fled, and begged their way to Connecticut.
Of the Inman family, there were five present in the battle. Two fell in the battle, another died of the fatigues and exposure of the day; another was killed the same year by Indians.
to the Seneca country, and pushed the investigation among the surviving chiefs and warriors of the Senecas engaged in that campaign. The result was a triumphant acquittal of Brant from all participation therein. The celebrated chief Captain Pollard, whose Indian name is Kaoun. doowand, a fine old warrior, was a young chief in that battle. He gave a full account of it, and was clear and positive in his declarations that Brant and the Mohawks were not engaged in that campaign at all. Their leader, he said, was Gi-en-gwah-loh, as already mentioned, who lived many years afterward, and was succeeded in his chieftaincy by the late Young King. That point of history, therefore, may be considered as conclusively settled.—Col. Stone's History of
* During the bloody fight of the 3d, some of the fugitives plunged into the river and escaped to the opposite shore. A few landed upon Monockonock island, having lost their arms in the flight, and were pursued thither. One of them was discovered by his own brother, who had es. poused the side of the crown. The unarmed whig sell upon his knees before his brother, and of. fered to serve him as a slave forever, if he would but spare his life. But the fiend in human form was inexorable ; he muttered, “You are addrebel!” and shot him dead. This tale is too horrible for belief; but a survivor of the battle, a Mr. Baldwin, confirmed its truth to the writer with his own lips. He knew the brothers well, and in Aug. 1839, declared the fact to be 80. The name of the brothers was Pensil.–Stone's History of Wyoming.
About two-thirds of those who went out, fell. Naked, panting, and bloody, a few, who had escaped, came rushing into Wilkesbarre fort, where, trembling with anxiety, the women and chil. dren were gathered, waiting the dread issue. Mr. Hollenback, who had swum the river naked, amid the balls of the enemy, was the first to bring them the appalling news—“All is lost!" They fled to the mountains, and down the river. Their sufferings were extreme. Many widows and orphans begged their bread, on their way home to their friends in Connecticut. In one party, of near a hundred, there was but a single man. As it was understood that no quarter would be given to the soldiers of the line, Col. Zebulon Butler, with the few other soldiers who had escaped, retired that same evening, with the families, from Wilkesbarre fort.
But—those left at Forty Fort? During the battle, (says the venerable Mrs. Myers, who, then a child, was there,) they could step on the river bank, and hear the firing distinctly. For a while it was kept up with spirit, and hope prevailed; but by and by it became broken and irregular, approaching nearer and nearer. "Our people are defeated—they are retreating !" It was a dreadful moment. Just at evening a few of the fugitives rushed in, and fell down exhaustedsome wounded and bloody. Through the night, every hour one or more came into the fort. Col. Dennison also came in, and rallying enough of the wreck of the little Spartan band to make a mere show of defending the fort, he succeeded the next day in entering into a capitulation for the settlement, with Col. John Butler, fair and honorable for the circumstances; by which doubtless many lives were saved.*
This capitulation, drawn up in the handwriting of Rev. Jacob Johnson, the first clergyman of the settlement, stipulated
That the settlement lay down their arms, and their garrison be demolished. That the inhabitants occupy their farms peaceably, and the lives of the inhabitants be preserved entire and unhurt. That the continental stores are to be given up. That Col. Butler will use his utmost influence that the private property of the inhabitants shall be preserved entire to them. That the prisoners in Forty Fort be delivered up. That the property taken from the people called Tories, be made good; and that they remain in peaceable possession of their farms, and unmolested in a free trade through this settlement. That the inhabitants which Col. Dennison capitulates for, together with himself, do not take up arms during this contest.
The enemy marched in six abreast; the British and Tories at the northern gate, the Indians at the southern ; their banners flying and music playing. Col. Dorrance, then a lad in the fort, remembered the look and conduct of the Indian leader-all eye-glancing quickly to the rightthen glancing to the left-with all an Indian's jealousy and caution, lest some treachery or am. bush should lurk in the fort. Alas! the brave and powerful had fallen : no strength remained to resist, no power to defend !
On paper the terms of the capitulation are fair, but the Indians immediately began to rob and burn, plunder and destroy. Col. Dennison complained to Col. Butler. “I will put a stop to it, sir; I will put a stop to it," said Butler. The plundering continued. Col. D. remonstrated again with energy, reminding him of his plighted faith. "I'll tell you what, sir," replied Col. Butler, waving his hand impatiently, “I can do nothing with them; I can do nothing with them." No lives, however, were taken by the Indians : they confined themselves to plunder and insult
. To show their entire independence and power, the Indians came into the fort, and one took the hat from Col. Dennison's head. Another demanded his rifle-frock, which he had on. It did not suit Col. D. to be thus stripped ; whereupon the Indian menacingly raised his tomahawk, and the Col. was obliged to yield, but seeming to find difficulty in taking off the garment, he stepped back to where the women were sitting. A girl understood the movement, and took from a pocket in the frock a purse, and hid it under her apron. The frock was delivered to the Indian. The purse, containing a few dollars, was the whole military chest of Wyoming. Mrs. Myers repre. sents Col. Butler as a portly, good-looking man, perhaps 45, dressed in green, the uniform of his rangers. He led the chief part of his army away in a few days; but parties of Indians continued in the valley burning and plundering, until at length fire after fire arose, east, west, north, and
* The early historical accounts of this battle, by Gordon, Ramsay, Marshall, (first edition, Thatcher, (in his Military Journal,) the London Gentleman's Magazine and even the “ Incidents of Border Life,” published in the heart of Pennsylvania, as late as 1839—do great injustice to Col. Dennison’s conduct on this occasion, as well as to that of the British Col. Butler. They all republish and perpetuate the exaggerated tale, collected from the first panic-stricken and suffering fugitives, who fled on the night of the battle, and arrived at the Hudson river. They were fall of enormous exaggerations, such as that, “on Col. Dennison's inquiring on what terms a capitulation would be granted, the enemy replied, 'the hatchet ;' and that, with this threat of butchery to all under his protection, without an effort at defence, or to sell their lives as dearly as possible
, the whole fort full of women and children was yielded to indiscriminate massacre." No such thing—not a life of all those under Col. Dennison's charge was lost. The surviving ladies, who were then in the fort, all agree in stating that the Indians were kind to them ; except that they plundered them of every thing except the clothes upon their backs, and marked them with paint to prevent their being killed by other Indians—a common precaution among red-men.
south. In a week or ten days, it was seen that the articles of capitulation afforded no security; and the remaining widows and orphans, a desolate band, with scarcely provisions for a day, took up their sad pilgrimage over the dreary wilderness of the Pokono mountains, and the dismal “Shades of Death."
Most of the fugitives made their way to Stroudsburg, where there was a small garrison. For two or three days they lived upon whortleberries, which a kind Providence seems to have furnished in uncommon abundance that season—the manna of that wilderness. Mr. Miner, in the “Hazleton Travellers,” says:
“What a picture for the pencil! Every pathway through the wilderness thronged with women and children, old men and boys. The able men of middle life and activity were either away in the general service, or had fallen. There were few who were not in the engagement; so that in one drove of fugitives consisting of one hundred persons, there was only one man with them. Let the painter stand on some eminence commanding a view at once of the valley and the mountain. Let him paint the throng climbing the heights; hurrying on, filled with terror, despair, and sor. row. Take a single group: the affrighted mother, whose husband has fallen; an infant on her bosom; a child by the hand; an aged parent, slowly climbing the rugged way, behind her; hun. ger presses them sorely; in the rustling of every leaf they hear the approaching savage; the "Shades of Death” before them; the valley, all in fames, behind them ; their cottage, their barns, their harvests, all swept in this flood of ruin; their star of hope quenched in this bloodshower of savage vengeance !"
The Weekses who fell in the battle are mentioned above. Not one escaped; the whole seven fell, and the old man was left like the oak struck with lightning-withered, bare, blasted-all its boughs torn away.
“ Man cannot tell
His hopes—his children--fondly, dearly loved." The engagement was on Friday. On Sunday morning twenty Indians came to his house and ordered breakfast. They told Mr. Weeks he must go—he could not stay he must clear out. “All my sons have fallen,” said the old man," and here I am left with fourteen grandchildren, all young and helpless." After breakfast, one of the Indian leaders stepped up to Mr. Weeks, took the hat from his head, and put it on; he then wheeled into the middle of the street a large rocking-chair with a cushion in it, sat himself down, and rocked himself. The tigers, gorged with food, blood, and plunder, for the moment paused, and rocked themselves into something like good nature. In sending the family into exile, they allowed them a pair of oxen and a wagon to carry the children, a bed, and some food. They went up the Lackawanna to Orange county, New York. (See p. 242.)—Hazleton Travellers.
Mrs. Jenkins, in her very interesting narrative, says, that in those times of peril and suffering, the women performed their part. While the men were out on duty, the women gathered, husked, and garnered the corn. I speak now of other years, for little was saved in the melancholy and bloody '78. “We had not only to do this, but at times to make our own powder!" "Your own powder, Mrs. Jenkins !" I exclaimed. “Was it so ? Had your people not only to find troops for the continental army—to build their own forts—to raise men for their own defence, to clothe them, to arm them, to feed them—but were they obliged to make their own powder ? But how did you make it ?” “O, we took up the floors, and dug out the earth—put it up and drained water through it, as we leech ashes--mixed weak ley-boiled them together—let the liquid stand, and saltpetre would rise in crystallizations on the top ; then we mixed sulphur and charcoal. Mr. Hollenback went down the river and brought up a pounder.”—Hazleton Travellers.
When Forty Fort capitulated, (Mrs. Hewitt was there at the time,) Col. John Butler, as he entered the gate, saw Sergeant Boyd, a young man about twenty-five. He was an Englishınan -had deserted from the enemy--was an excellent disciplinarian, and had been serviceable in training our men. “ Boyd,” said Butler, recognising him, " go to that tree,” pointing to a pine not far outside the fort." I hope your honor will consider me as a prisoner of war."
“ Go to that tree !" repeated Butler, sternly. Boyd went, and was shot down.-Hazleton Travellers.
“In March, 1779, the spring after the battle, a large body of Indians came down on the Wyoming settlements. The people were few, weak, and ill prepared for defence, although a