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The Battle And Massacre
Of Wyoming
(Painting Depicting Massacre Of Wyoming;
Note that this painting is not noted for its accuracy in depicting the Battle and Massacre.)
On the first of August 1775, the settlers assembled in town meeting and offered terms of
compromise and accommodation to the Pennsylvania claimants, during the great
struggle with the common enemy.
The proceedings of that town meeting are entered on their records as follows :
 "At the meeting of the proprietors and settlers of ye town of Westmoreland",
 (this was the town name by which Wyoming was then known) "legally warned and
 held August 1, 1775."
 Mr. John Jenkins was chosen Moderator for ye work of ye day.
 Voted, That this town does now vote that they will strictly observe and follow
 ye rules and regulations of ye Honorable Continental Congress, now sitting in
 Resolved, by this town, that they are willing to make any accomodations with
 ye Pennsylvania party that shall conduce to ye best good of ye whole, not
 infringing on the property of any person, and come in common cause of Liberty
 in ye defense of America, and that we will amicably give them ye offer of
 joining in ye proposals as soon as may be.
 Voted, This meeting is adjourned until Tuesday, ye 8th day of this instant,
 August, at one of the clock in ye afternoon, at this place.
 This meeting is opened and held by an adjournment, August the 8th, 1775.
 Voted, that this town has but of late been incorporated and invested with the
 privileges of the law, both civil and military, and now in a capacity of
 acting in conjunction with our neighboring towns, within this end and the
 other colonies, in opposing ye late measures adopted by the Parliament to
 enslave America; also, this town having taken into consideration the late plan
 adopted by Parliament, of enforcing their several oppressive and
 unconstitutional acts of depriving us of our property, and of binding us in
 all cases, without exception, whether we consent or not, is considered by us
 highly injurious to American or English freedom; therefore, we do consent to
 and acquiesce in the late proceedings and advice of the Continental Congress,
 and do rejoice that those measures are adopted and so universally received
 throughout the continent, and in conformity to the eleventh article of the
 association, we do now appoint a committee to attentively observe the conduct
 of all persons within this town, touching the rules and regulations prescribed
 by the Honourable Continental Congress, and WILL UNANIMOUSLY JOIN OUR BRETHREN
 Voted, That Mr. John Jenkins, Joseph Shuman, Esq., Nathan Dennison, Esq., Mr.
 Obadiah Gore, Jr., and Lieutenant William Buck, be chosen a committee of
 correspondence for ye town of Westmoreland.
 Voted, That Jonathan Fitch, Mr. Anderson Dana, Capt. Wm. McKarrachen, Mr.
 Caleb Spencer, Capt. Samuel Ransom, Lieut. George Dorrance, Mr. Asahel Buck,
 Mr. Stephen Harding, Mr. John Jenkins, Jr., Mr. Barilla Tyler, Jr., Mr. Elijah
 Witer, Mr. Nathan Kingsley, Mr. John Secord, and Mr. Robert Carr, be chosen a
 committee of inspection for ye town of Westmoreland."
The resolution passed at both these town meetings were drawn by their Moderator,
and the meetings were called and held at his suggestion.
These proceedings cast the die for the settlers of Wyoming. They now girded
their loins and immediately commenced putting themselves in readiness to meet
the responsibilities of their position.
These terms of compromise, thus offered by the settlers to the Pennsylvania
claimants, were made known to them, and also to Congress. On the 4th of November
following, Congress passed a resoluton recommending the Pennsylvania claimants
to accept of the terms proposed. Congress was supposed to speak the sentiments
of the Pennsylvania party, and it was presumed that they would be governed in
their action by its recommendations, and hence the settlers neither suspected
nor feared any further difficulty in that direction. It appears, however, that
the Pennsylvania party, supposing that the settlers, relying on the just
recommendations of Congress, would have all their suspicions lulled to rest, and
would be unprepared to meet and successfully combat a stealthy attack, set in
motion a force of seven hundred men to make a secret expedition against Wyoming.
Intelligence of this movement being received in Philadelphia, Congress
immediately, on the 20th of December 1775, resolved, "that it is the opinion of
this Congress, and it is accordingly recommended, that the contending parties
immediately cease all hostilities, and avoid every appearance of force until the
dispute can be legally decided, etc".
These recommendations, however wise and just, were all unheeded by the
highwayman Plunket, who had charge of the expedition. He was thirsting for
plunder, and was not to be choked off in this way. With the order of the
Governor of Pennsylvania in his pocket, he hastened his movement "to expel with
arms, provisions and military stores, loaded on a large boat, he marched with
his force, called a "posse", from Fort Augusta, in the early part of December,
accompanied by William Cook, Sheriff of Northumberland county, to give the
movement the appearance of a civil proceeding.
The progress of his force was necessarily regulated by the movement of the boat
containing their provisions and stores, and as the boat had to be propelled
against the current, very much impeded by floating ice, the expedition did not
reach Nanticoke falls, at the lower end of the Valley, until the 24th of
December. Here Plunket left his boat, loaded his men with provisions and
ammunition, and started on foot for the west side of the river. They had not
proceeded a mile when they observed before them a ridge of rocks, presenting to
them a precipitous front, rising from a foot or two high near the river to a
point 800 feet high on the mountain. Behind defenses built on this ridge, were
posted the settlers to the number of about 300, waiting the advance of Plunket.
Each side had skirmishers out, and considerable skirmishing was done, in which
some were killed on both sides. As Plunket approached, the settlers arose and
discharged a volley of musketry which threw Plunket's force into disorder, and
it at once retreated. An examination of this natural rampart showed it to be
impregnable, and the expedition seemed utterly thwarted. Plunket, however, fell
back on his boat, and taking a batteau which he had brought with him, commenced
conveying his troops across the river.
The settlers, foreseeing that some move of this kind might be made, had
stationed men there under Lieutenant Stewart to prevent it. As the boat neared
the shore it was fired into and one man killed, when the others, including
Plunket, lay down flat in the boat and suffered it to float down the river over
the falls. The troops on the western shore discharged a volley into the bushes
whence the firing proceeded and killed one of the settlers named Bowen. Plunket
at once retreated and abandoned his enterprise.
At a town meeting held March 10, 1776:
 "Voted, That the first man that shall make fifty weight of good saltpetre, in
 this town, shall be entitled to a bounty of ten pounds lawful money, to be
 paid out of the town treasury."
Mrs. Bethiah Jenkins, wife of Lieutenant John Jenkins, says the women took up
their floors, dug out the earth, put it in casks, and ran water through it, as
ashes are leached. They then took ashes in another cask, and made lye, boiled
it, set it out to cool, and the saltpetre rose to the surface. Charcoal and
sulphur were then pounded and mixed with the saltpetre, and powder was thus
produced for the public defense -- Miner, p. 212.
John Jenkins, representative from Wyoming to the Connecticut Assembly, at May
sessions, 1776, obtained liberty to erect a powder mill at Westmoreland.
At the first news of the conflict at Concord and Lexington, many of the young
men of Wyoming hastened to join the Colonial forces near Boston, to resist the
encroachments of the British government and maintain their liberties, and some
of them arrived in time to take part and fall in the battle of Bunker Hill.
Later, and during the winter of 1775-6, a number removed their families back to
Connecticut, and thence proceeded to join the army under Washington.
Col. Wisner of Orange county New York, visited the Valley for the purpose of
obtaining recruits. Lieut. Obadiah Gore, with twenty or thirty others, marched
under Wisner to the field of conflict.
On the 4th of July 1776, Congress, after due deliberation, declared the Colonies
independent of the British crown.
The people everywhere burned with enthusiasm to sustain the action of Congress,
but nowhere more fervently than at Wyoming, as their acts and the proceedings of
their meetings show.
At a town meeting held at Wilkes-Barre, August 24, 1776, Col. Z. Butler,
Moderator for ye work of ye day :
 "Voted, As the opinion of this meeting, that it now becomes necessary for the
 inhabitants of this town to erect suitable forts, as a defense against our
 common enemy. That this meeting do recommend it to the people, to proceed
 forthwith in building said forts, WITHOUT EITHER FEE OR REWARD FROM YE TOWN."
In pursuance of this vote, John Jenkins, Stephen Harding, the Gardners, their
relatives, with their friends, proceeded to build a stockade around the house of
John Jenkins, which was called "Jenkins' Fort". This was in Exeter township, now
West Pittston, about ten or twelve rods above the northwest end of the Pittston
ferry bridge.
Elisha Scovell and some other inhabitants of Exeter township, joined with the
Wintermoots, the Van Alstynes, and others from Montague township, Sussex county
New Jersey, in building a fort a mile or more below, on the brow of the plain,
where a fine spring flowed from the foot of the hill forming the plain, which
was named "Wintermoot Fort".
The inhabitants of Kingston erected a fort, an acre or more in extent, on the
west bank of the Susquehanna, in that township, in the town plot near the centre
of the town, which was named "Forty Fort", from the fact that the township was
originally settled by forty proprietors and divided equally amongst them.
Upper Wilkes-Barre had its fort just above the mouth of Mill Creek, built to
guard and control the mills erected on that stream, called "Wilkes-Barre Fort".
There was a fort in the town plot of Wilkes-Barre; situate on the river bank
just below South street, called "Wyoming Fort".
The inhabitants of Hanover erected a block-house on the bank of the river, some
three miles below Wilkes-Barre, called "Stewart's Block-house". Shawnee, or
Plymouth, had only a pretence for a fort.
Besides these was the stockade at Pittston, on the east side of the river,
nearly opposite Jenkins Fort. This was a place of some strength and importance.
The people of Pittston and its neighborhood all sought protection within its
ample space and behind its rugged log structures.
While these proceedings were being had at Wyoming, Congress had her attention
turned to that locality, as appears by the following proceedings of that body:
 "Friday, August 23, 1776. Resolved, That two companies, on the Continental
 establishment, be raised in the town of Westmoreland, and stationed in proper
 places for the defense of the inhabitants of said town and parts adjacent,
 till further order of Congress; the commissioned officers of the said two
 companies to be immediately appointed by Congress. That the pay of the men to
 be raised as aforesaid, commence when they are armed and mustered, and that
 they be liable to serve in any part of the United States, when ordered by
 Congress. That the said troops be enlisted to serve during the war, unless
 sooner discharged by Congress."
August 26th Congress proceeded to the election of sundry officers, when Robert
Durkee and Samuel Ransom were elected Captains of the two companies ordered to
be raised in the town of Westmoreland; James Welles and Perrin Ross, First
Lieutenants; Asahel Buck and Simon Spalding, Second Lieutenants, and Herman
Swift and Matthias Hollenback, Ensigns of said companies.
Early in September information was received of the resolutions of Congress, and
rendevous for the enlistment of men on the terms proposed, were opened by
Captain Durkee on the east, and Captain Ransom on the west side of the
These companies of Durkee and Ransom had been already in existence for some
time, and had tendered their services to Congress, but they had not their full
quota as required, and some little delay was necessary that the requisite number
might be raised. Some change in the officers was made, Lieut. Buck resigned his
position, and John Jenkins, Jr. was appointed in his place.
On the 17th of September the two companies completed their quota and were
mustered into the service of Congress, and were known as the "Two Independent
Companies of Westmoreland".
At a meeting of the Connecticut Assembly in October 1776, an act was passed for
raising a military company in the town of Westmoreland, to be a part of the 24th
Regiment of Connecticut Militia, of which company Solomon Strong was appointed
Captain; Obadiah Gore, Jr., First Lieutenant; and John Jenkins, Jr., Second
As has been stated, Lieut. Gore had gone with a body of men under Col. Wisner,
and Lieut. Jenkins had joined Capt. Durkee's company, before their appointments
were made by Connecticut.
We thus see how actively and earnestly our people had engaged in the struggle
against their oppressors, and to maintain the declaration of Congress.
But the enemy were quite as active.
The American army, under General Washington, pursued by an overwhelming force,
was driven from Long Island, and on the 15th of September, 1776, New York was
taken possession of by the British.
On the 16th, Fort Washington fell into their hands. Washington was retreating
before them from post to post through New Jersey, and on the 8th of December he
crossed the Delaware.
Congress immediately took measures to retire from Philadelphia to Baltimore.
At this moment of excitement and imminent peril, they resolved "That the two
companies raised in the town of Westmoreland be ordered to join General
They then adjourned amidst the utmost trepidation, to meet in Baltimore on the
The two Wyoming companies promptly obeyed the orders, and before the end of the
year reached the place of rendezvous.
About three weeks afterward, or on the 20th of January, 1777, they took part in
the battle of Millstone, and for their brave and gallant conduct on that
occasion, received the thanks of their commanding officers, in general orders.
They were afterward in the actions at Bound Brook; at Brandywine; at Germantown;
and at Mud Fort. They were decimated by disease and the casualties of war, each
company losing more than one-fourth of its original number.
The general campaign of 1777 opened amidst gloom and despondency for the
American cause. Gen. Burgoyne, with a large and powerful army was descending
from the north, along Lake Champlain and the Hudson, and Howe was moving up that
river to join him, hoping thereby to sever the Eastern Colonies from the Middle
and Southern. The Indians had, until this time, remained in a great measure,
quiescent, but they were seduced from their partial neutrality, and on the 20th
of June, at Boquet river, taken into full service of the British by Gen.
Burgoyne, and a market was opened by him for human scalps at ten dollars for
each, that the Indians might gather in their work of desolation and death.
The Tories also, were roused up to join with the British and Indians in their
bloody work, and it now became evident that besides the regular warfare that
might be expected from civilized nations, the frontiers would be everywhere
overrun by the Indians and their more savage allies, the Tories, and would
become one long line of conflagration, devastation and death.
This state of affairs soon began to be felt at Wyoming, and a system of guards
and scouts was established and regularly kept up among the settlers, to watch
the Indian paths and the movements of the Tories -- a number of the latter
living on the northern border of the settlement. It was soon ascertained that
the communication was kept up by the Tories, residing at Tunkhannock and above,
and the Indians about Tioga, Chemung and Newtown. In the fall of 1777, many of
the settlers on the river above Wyoming, who had moved into that locality from
the Delaware, and from New York and lower Pennsylvania, under the auspices of
the Pennsylvania government, began to give manifest evidence of their sympathy
with the British crown, and of opposition to the American cause.
In October, Lieut. Asa Stevens was detailed on a scout by the committee of
inspection, with nine men, who returned bringing in five suspected persons as
prisoners. In the latter part of November, Lieut. John Jenkins, while out on a
scout at Wyalusing, was betrayed by the Tories into the hands of a body of
Indians that infested that locality, and was taken by the latter to Fort
Niagara. Upon report of this fact at Wyoming, Col. Nathan Denison, of the 24th
Connecticut Regiment of militia, organized his little force and prepared to
march into that locality. He reported that on the 20th of December, being
informed that a band of Tories were forming on the north and westward of said
town of Westmoreland, in order to stir up the Indians of Tioga, to join said
Tories, and kill and destroy the inhabitants of Connecticut; he ordered part of
his regiment to be immediately equipped and marched to suppress the
conspirators. The party marched about 80 miles up the river and took several
Tories, (about 30) and happily contented the Tioga Indians, and entirely
disbanded the conspirators. Eighteen of these prisoners were sent to
Connecticut, where "they were received and treated as prisoners of war, having
been taken in arms against the United States". --- See the War of the American
Revolution, p. 313-600.
About the 13th of February, 1778, Amos York and Lemuel Fitch were taken
prisoners from the same locality, and hurried off to Niagara. Richard Fitzgerald
was captured at the same time, but being an old man, they discharged him.
The prisoners, captured by the Indians and Tories, were kept at Niagara all
winter, among a camp of British, Indians and Tories, of the most brutal and
degraded character. Many of the latter were from the Susquehanna, above Wyoming,
and hence bore a particular enmity to the prisoners, who, from this cause,
suffered many hardships and injuries from the hands of their captors and
The force wintering at Niagara had, a great part of it at least, been with Gen.
St. Leger, in his attack on Fort Schuyler in August previous, and in consequence
of their defeat there by the American forces under Col. Gansevoort, were greatly
exasperated, and for this reason, were exceedingly venomous and cruel in their
treatment of the prisoners in their charge.
They received neither clothes, shoes, blankets, shelter nor fire, were kept
starved for provisions -- and what they received was of the worst kind, such as
spoiled flour, biscuit full of maggots and mouldy. The Indians would crowd
around them with knives in their hands, and feel of them, to know who was the
fattest. They dragged one of the prisoners out of the guard, with the most
lamentable cries, tortured him for a long time, and both the Indians and the
Tories said they ate him, as it appears they did another on an Island in Lake
De Veaux says of this terrible place --
 "Niagara was the headquarters of all that was barbarous, unrelenting and
 cruel. There were congregated the leaders and chiefs of those bands of
 murderers and miscreants who carried death and distruction into the remote
 American settlements. There civilized Europe revelled with savage America, and
 ladies of education and refinement mingled in the society of those whose only
 distinction was to wield the tomahawk and the bloody scalping-knife. There
 were the squaws of the forest raised to eminence, and the most unholy
 alliances between them and officers of the highest rank smiled upon and
 countenanced. There in this stronghold, like a nest of vultures, securely, for
 seven years, they sallied forth and preyed upon the distant settlements of the
 Mohawk and Susquehanna Valleys. It was the depot of their plunder; there they
 planned their forays, and there they returned to feast until the time for
 action should come again."
It was amid such people and such scenes as these that our prisoners spent the
winter, and of which they each and all suffered their full share. Leaving our
prisoners here for the winter, let us see how affairs were progressing at
We have learned, as has been already stated, that nearly all the able bodied men
were away in the service of their country. The remaining population, in dread of
the savages and their allies, were building six forts, or stockades, requiring
great labor, and "without fee or reward". The whole available force was formed
into train-bands, guards, scouts, &c., and in constant active service. The
small-pox pestilence was in every district, and no remedy or means then known,
could arrest its spread or stay its virulence.
 "At a town meeting, legally warned, holden December 30, 1777.
 John Jenkins was chosen Moderator for ye work of ye day. Voted, by this town,
 That the Committee of Inspection be empowered to supply the sogers' wives and
 the sogers' widows, and their families, with the necessaries of life."
Miner says of this vote ---
 "Let it be engraved on plates of silver ! Let it be printed in letters of gold
 ! Challenge Rome, in her Republican glory, or Greece, in her Democratic pride,
 to produce, circumstances considered, an act more generous or noble ! Justice
 and gratitude demand a tribute to the praise-worthy spirit of the wives and
 daughters of Wyoming. While their husbands and fathers were away on public
 duty, they cheerfully assumed a large portion of the labor which females could
 do. They assisted to plant, made the hay, husked and garnered the corn and
 gathered the harvest. They threshed the wheat, or shelled the corn, and ground
 it in mortars with pestles, or putting it in a bag across a horse, would get
 on top, and taking the youngest child in their arms, would thus convey it to
 the nearest mill, sometimes a distance of ten miles, waiting till it was
 ground, that they might have bread for their children on their return home."
 --- Miner, p. 212.
The year 1778 brought great distrust and fear to the frontiers generally, but
particularly to Wyoming. The defeat and surrender of Burgoyne had left the
British without sufficient available force in America to carry on a regular
campaign for that year, and as the war was to be continued, the only resource
left to the British government and her commanders, was to employ the Indians and
Tories almost exclusively in carrying on a war of desolation on the frontier.
This was their declared policy, and it was at once suspected and feared that
Wyoming would be among the first to be attacked, for none were so hated and
exposed as the people on the Susquehanna. They had been among the first to
declare against British usurpations, and had been the most active and earnest in
supplying men and means to support that declaration.
The position was known to be, in a measure, defenseless, and far removed from
immediate support, and their situation seemed to invite rather than repel the
design of an invasion. A portion of the enemy, particularly the Tories who had
settled up the river under the Proprietary government, were exasperated by the
efforts of the people in the cause of Independence, and their careful
watchfulness of the movements of all not co-operating with them, and especially
by the arrest of some of their number who had betrayed certain of them and
delivered them into the hands of the enemy, and it was strongly suspected that
they would incite a movement against Wyoming, if it were possible to do so.
It was known early in the spring of 1778, that a large force was collecting at
Niagara, for the purpose of laying waste the frontiers of Pennsylvania, Virginia
and New York; and as early as February, General Schuyler wrote to Congress to
inform them that such was his belief. In March he wrote again to Congress,
saying : "A number of Mohawks, and many of the Onondagoes, Cayugas, and Senecas,
will commence hostilities against us as soon as they can. It would be prudent
therefore, early, to take measures to carry the war into their country. It would
require no greater body of troops to destroy their towns than to protect the
frontier inhabitants."
In this state of affairs, the people of the frontiers appealed to Congress for
forces for their protection. The people of Wyoming in particular, represented to
Congress the threatening situation of their locality, and made an earnest appeal
for aid. Moved by their entreaties, Congress came to the rescue of Wyoming, in
the following remarkable resolution:
 "March 16, 1778. Resolved, That one full company of foot be raised in the town
 of Westmoreland, on the east branch of the Susquehanna, for the defense of the
 said town and the settlements on the frontier in the neighborhood thereof
 against the Indians and the enemies of these states; the said company to be
 enlisted to serve one year from the time of their enlisting, unless sooner
 ACCOUTREMENTS AND BLANKETS". --- Journal of Congress, vol. iv, p. 113.
It would not be difficult to estimate just how much this resolution of Congress
added to the effective force at Wyoming. It was equivalent to a suggestion of
this sort : Wyoming has appealed to Congress for help. She needs help,
undoubtedly. Let her help herself. She has the permission of Congress to do so;
provided she builds her own forts, and furnishes "HER OWN ARMS, ACCOUTREMENTS
AND BLANKETS," and defends the settlements on the frontier in her neighborhood.
If there was ever a case in which the asking for bread and receiving a stone was
exhibited in all its enormity and ungratefulness more than this, history has
refused to record it.
This fact will stand out more prominently when it is understood that the Wyoming
people had exhausted all their means and force available for active service, in
fitting up and sending out the companies of Durkee and Ransom, in addition to
those who had gone back to Connecticut and entered the service there, and those
who had joined Col. Wisner's regiment under Lieut. Gore.
This astonishing magnanimity of Congress was not satisfactory to the people of
Wyoming. Having received intelligence of a mediated attack upon them, they again
informed Congress -- that same Congress -- of the threatening danger, and their
exposed and defenseless position, and prayed that the two Wyoming companies of
Durkee and Ransom might be returned home, to guard and protect them through the
impending peril. They felt that there should be no difficulty about this demand
being granted, as those companies had been raised for the express purpose of
defending their homes, and by the resolution of Congress, were to be "STATIONED
When called upon, however, to go on the distant service of the Republic, in an
hour of peril, and leave their homes defenseless, they marched with the utmost
alacrity; not a murmur was heard, for every man felt that the case was one of
urgency and imperious necessity, and not one of them or those they left
defenseless behind, entertained a doubt but that the agreement, "to be stationed
in proper places, to defend their homes", would be religiously observed, and
when occasion required, they would be ordered back to the Valley.
But there was undoubtedly an influence at work on Congress, looking more to
private advantage than public good, whose purpose would be better subserved by
the destruction of the settlement at Wyoming, than by its preservation. That
influence prevailed, and Wyoming was left to the fate that they knew so
immediately impended over her devoted people.
A few straggling Indians and Tories, lurking about the settlement, pretending to
be friendly, had been closely watched by the settlers, and they had become fully
satisfied that the presence of these strangers boded no good, but that their
designs were evil, and mischief was meditated for Wyoming.
In the midst of the fear, the doubt, and the uncertainty that prevailed among
the people, Lieut. John Jenkins appeared upon the scene, having escaped from his
captors and returned home. He, with York and Fitch, had been taken by the
Indians early in April to Montreal, where the British authorities discharged
York and Fitch; they not having been found in arms, were not considered as
proper prisoners of war. They were put on board a British transport, to be
conveyed to some point in New England for release. Fitch died of a fever on the
voyage; York survived until he reached the residence of his father-in-law,
Manassah Miner, in Voluntown, Conn., where he was taken sick, and died eleven
days before his family reached there, in their flight from Wyoming after the
massacre. He died believing that his family had all been cut off in that
massacre, as they had been delayed on the way by sickness.
Lieut. Jenkins was taken by the Indians from Montreal to Albany, to be exchanged
for an Indian chief who was a prisoner at that place, in the hands of the
Americans. When the party arrived at Albany, the chief, for whom he was to be
exchanged, had died of the small-pox. They refused to exchange him for any other
prisoner, but retained him, to take him to Seneca Castle, to be disposed of by
the Grand Council of the nation, which they expected would be gathered at that
place, by the time they should arrive there.
On the fourth night after the party left Albany, the prisoner, by the aid of a
young chief with whom a strong friendship had existed from almost the first
period of his captivity, made his escape, and arrived at home on the 2d of June.

He brought information that the great mass of the Tories from up the river had
wintered at Niagara with the Indians and British, that they had been insolent
and abusive, had threatened to return in the spring, bring the Indians with
them, drive the settlers off; and take possession of the country themselves;
that a plan of this sort had been concerted at Niagara before he left there.
This was the first reliable information the settlers had received of the
threatened invasion of the frontiers somewhere, was to be made from Niagara, by
the combined force of British, Indians and Tories that had wintered in that
locality, and from the conduct of the straggling Tories and Indians, to which we
have alluded, it was strongly suspected that Wyoming and its neighborhood would
be the objective point.
The story of Lieut. Jenkins confirmed the worst suspicions of the settlers, and
they became aroused to the danger of their situation.
An express was immediately sent to Washington and to Congress, to inform them of
the certainty of the invasion, and to ask that the companies of Durkee and
Ransom be immediately sent to Wyoming, together with such additional force as
could be spared for the occasion.
Capt. Hewitt, who had been appointed to enlist the new company, under the
resolution of Congress, which has been given, and who were to furnish their own
"ARMS ACCOUTREMENTS AND BLANKETS", was immediately sent up the river on a scout.

On the 5th of June, there was an alarm from Indians, and six white men, Tories,
coming in the neighborhood of Tunkhannock, about twenty-five miles up the river
from Wyoming, and taking Elisha Wilcox, Pierce and some other prisoners, and
robbing and plundering the inhabitants of the neighborhood.
News of this incursion was brought to the Valley on the night of the 6th, and on
the 7th, although Sunday, the inhabitants set to work to complete and strengthen
their fortifications.
On the 7th, there was an alarm from Shawnee. For a week or more after this,
there appeared to be a lull in the storm at Wyoming, a calm such as often
preceeds a violent tempest, but it raged with great fierceness in other
The forces that wintered at Niagara and in Western New York, in pursuance of
orders issued by Col. Guy Johnson, assembled at Kanadaseago, or Seneca Castle,
early in May, and from this point sallied forth in divisions to carry on their
hellish work. Although the objective point was Wyoming, yet they were to divide
their forces into parties and attack different points, lay them waste, spread
terror, consternation and death on every hand, that their ultimate destination
might not be known, and no force of sufficient size to offer successful
resistance be concentrated against them; and by dividing their force and sending
it into different localities, they would be the better able to learn the
strength and direction of any force which might be sent to oppose them. Captain
Joseph Brant, or Thayendenegea, with his Mohawks, some Senecas, Schoharries and
Oquagos, went by way of the outlet of the Cayuga Lake and the Cherry Valley
about the 25th of May. His mission, with his destructives there, was to lay
waste that place. He secreted them on Lady Hill, about a mile east of the fort,
to await a favorable opportunity to strike the fatal blow, and slay or capture
its occupants.
A company of boys happened to be training, for boys caught the martial spirit of
the times, as Brant, like the eagle from his eyrie, was looking down from his
hiding place, upon the devoted hamlet, seeking his prey. Mistaking these
miniature soldiers for armed men, he deferred the attack for a more favorable
After killing Lieut. Wormwood, a promising young officer from Palatine, who had
left the fort but a few minutes before on horseback, and taking Peter Sitz his
comrade, prisoner, Brant directed his steps to Cobleskill. --- Sims' Scoharrie,
p. 28. Border Warfare, p. 126.
On the 1st day of June, was fought the battle of Cobleskill. The Indian forces,
commanded by Brant, amounted to about three hundred and fifty. The American
forces, commanded by Capts. Patrick and Brown, amounted to about fifty. The
battle was mostly in the woods, and both parties fought in the Indian style,
under cover of trees. Of the American force, twenty-two were slain and their
scalps borne off in triumph, among them Capt. Patrick. Six were wounded and two
made prisoners. The Indians had about an equal number killed. -- Sims --
Campbell -- Stone, p. 353.
From here, Brant, after committing a few further depredations in that quarter,
led his forces to Tioga, where he joined the main body of the army, marching to
the invasion of Wyoming.
At the same time that Brant started on his expedition, from Kanadaseago, Major
John Butler, commonly called and known as Col. Butler, being at that time,
however, only a major, with the British and Tories, amounting to about four
hundred, and a party of Indians, under Gucingerachton and Kayingwaurto, both
Seneca chiefs, amounting to about four hundred, passed up Seneca Lake and
proceeded to Chemung and Tioga, at which point Butler and Kayingwaurto engaged
in preparing boats for transporting themselves and their baggage down the
A considerable body of Indians, under Gucingerachton, were detached at
Knawaholee, or Newtown, and sent across the country to strike the West Branch of
the Susquehanna and lay it waste, while the boats were being prepared, and Brant
should rejoin the main party with his forces.
Gucingerachton, with his party, arrived on the West Branch near the mouth of
Bald Eagle creek, on the 16th of May, and at once commenced his work of death
and desolation. He continued at this work, overrunning the whole line of the
lower West Branch, until the 10th of June. He and his savage horde swept that
whole region as with the besom of destruction, and the final catastrophe in the
bloody work occurred on this latter day.
Meginness says -----
 "This was indeed a bloody day. The savages glutted themselves with murder and
 plunder, and retired in triumph. A gloomy pall seemed to have fallen over the
 infant settlement, and weeping and wailing were heard on every hand. Children
 were murdered before their parents' eyes; husbands were compelled to witness
 the horrid deaths of their wives, and in turn, children were compelled to gaze
 upon the mangled bodies of their parents. Neither age, sex, nor condition were
 spared; the wails of helpless infants, the imploring cries of defenseless
 women, failed to awaken a chord of pity in the adamantine {unyielding} bosom
 of the tawny savage. He laughed their pitiful appeals to scorn, and with a
 fiendish grin of pleasure, plied the knife, and tore the reeking scalps from
 their heads."
The harvest of scalps they reaped in these fields counts up to forty-five -- add
to these a large number of prisoners, and a vast amount of plunder, and we have
(Otzinachson, p.211, etc.) a slight account of the work done.
It will readily be seen from these facts, what the scope of the Indian warfare
for 1778 embraced. The whole frontier was aglow with fire, desolation and death,
beneath the fagot, tomahawk, rifle and scalping-knife of the Indians, and their
cruel and implacable allies, the British and Tories.
Our narrative now returns to Wyoming, for this is becoming the gathering point
of all these scattered parties. A glance shows at once that the storm is
gathering, dark and fearful in that direction, boding death and destruction
through all its borders.
On the 12th of June, William Crooks and Asa Budd went up the river to a place
some two miles above Tunkhannock, on the west side of the river, formerly
occupied by a Tory named John Secord, one of the committee of Inspection
appointed August 8, 1775, who had been absent at Niagara since the fall before.
Crooks was fired upon by a party of Indians and killed.
On the 17th, a party of six men, from Jenkins' Fort, in two canoes, went up the
river to observe the movements of the enemy. The party in the forward canoe
landed about six miles below Tunkhannock, on the west side of the river,
opposite LaGrange, or Osterhout, and ascended the bank. They saw an armed force
of Indians and Tories running toward them. They gave the alarm, returned to
their canoe, and endeavored to get behind an island to escape the fire of the
enemy, which was being poured in upon them. The canoe, in which were Miner
Robbins, Joel Phelps and Stephen Jenkins, was fired upon and Robbins killed and
Phelps wounded. Jenkins escaped unhurt, although his paddle was shot through and
shivered to pieces in his hands. In the party that fired upon the canoe was
Elijah Phelps, the brother of Joel and brother-in-law of Robbins.
Capt. Hewitt, with a scouting party, went up the river on the 26th, and returned
on the 30th of June with news that there was a large party up the river.
At Jenkins' Fort, the uppermost in the Valley and but little over a mile above
Wintermoot Fort, there were gathered the families of the old patriots, John
Jenkins, Esq., and Captain Stephen Harding, the Hadsalls, John Gardner, and
others distinguished for zeal in their country's cause. Not apprised of the
contingency of the savages, on the morning of the 30th of June, before Captain
Hewitt's return, Benjamin Harding, Stukley Harding, Stephen Harding, Jr., John
Gardner and a boy named Rogers, about eleven years of age, James Hadsall and his
sons, James and John, the latter a boy, with his sons-in-law Ebenezer Reynolds
and Daniel Carr, together with Daniel Wallen and a negro named Quocko, a servant
of William Martin -- twelve in all, went up the river about five or six miles,
into Exeter to their several labors; some of them, particularly Benjamin and
Stukley Harding, taking their arms. The Hardings, with Gardner and the boy
Rogers, worked in the cornfield of Stephen Harding, Jr.; the Hadsalls and the
others, part in Hadsall's cornfield, on an island, part in his tanyard, close at
hand on the main land.
Towards evening, Michael Showers, or Shores, and Jacob Anguish, or Ankers, two
well-known Tories, came to Stephen Harding's cornfield and told them they might
call in their sentries and they would stand guard for them. Suspecting them of
treachery, and that danger threatened, Stephen went at once to get the horses
and make for home. When the Tories saw what Stephen was doing, they left to give
information to the Indians and Tories, who were not far off in a large body.
When Stephen returned with the horses, near to where he had left his brothers,
he saw that they had quit work and passed on down the river towards a deer-lick.

On the way down was a deep, narrow ravine through which a small brook found its
way to the river. In this ravine, a body of Indians and Tories had concealed
themselves, waiting their coming. This spot is in the neighborhood of the new
Baptist meeting house, between that and the river. As the party was passing this
point, the savages fired upon them, wounding both Benjamin and Stukley. They
returned the fire, and then quite a contest ensued. The Indians rushed upon them
with spears and tomahawks, and they clubbed their guns and fought bravely and
furiously, resisting until they fell, pierced through with spears, and were
hacked and cut to pieces with the tomahawks. John Gardner was taken prisoner.
Having no arms, he took no part in the fight.
That the Hardings fought bravely was attested by the enemy, as well as by the
terrible condition of their bodies when found. In the meantime, a party of the
Indians had captured the elder James Hadsall, his son-in-law Carr, and the
negro, at the tannery which was situated just above the mouth of the creek.
Those on the island came off in their canoes, and as they were ascending the
bank, a party of savages, lying in wait, fired upon them, shooting James Hadsall
down and wounding Reynolds, who fled with Wallen to the woods. John Hadsall, the
boy, remained behind fastening the canoe. Upon hearing the firing he plunged
into a thicket of willows and drift that overhung the waters near by. The
Indians, missing one from the party in the canoe, went to the river to search
for him. One of them walked out on a log just over where he was hid, but did not
discover him. He could see the Indian's eyes as he peered about to find him.
After night set in, he ventured out of his hiding place, and made his way back
to the fort, arriving after midnight. He was the first to arrive and bring news
of the fate of his companions to their waiting, anxious friends.
The elder Hadsall, Gardner, Carr and the negro were taken up Sutton's creek
about a mile or two, to what is known as the Bailey farm, where Hadsall and the
negro were put to death by the most insulting, lingering and excruciating
tortures, giving a most delightful evening's entertainment to Major Butler and
his demoniac crew; the Indians and Tories being the actors in the horrible
drama, the Tories in particular displaying a lively relish in the performance of
their several parts.
Stephen Harding, Jr., with the boy Rogers, Reynolds and Wallen, fled through the
woods, and after wandering all night, succeeded in reaching the fort next
Intelligence of this affair was at once communicated to all parts of the Valley,
and the utmost alarm and consternation prevailed.
Col. Zebulon Butler, of the Continental army, then at home on leave, being
solicited, assumed command of the settlers. On the 1st of July, he, Col. Nathan
Denison, and Lieut-Colonel George Dorrance, with all the forces at command at
that time, marched from Forty Fort to Exeter, a distance of eleven miles, where
the murder of the preceding day had been perpetrated, with the design of
punishing the guilty parties.
The two Hardings were found where they had fallen. From appearance they must
have contended to the last, for their arms and faces were much cut and several
spearholes were made through their bodies. They were scalped and otherwise
mutilated. Two Indians who were watching near the dead bodies, expecting that
friends might come to take them away, and that they might obtain other victims,
were shot -- one where he sat, the other in the river, to which he had fled.
Zebulon Marcy's rifle, it was supposed, killed one of them, and subsequently he
was waylaid and hunted for several years; a brother of one of the Indians killed
swearing he would have revenge.
The bodies of the Hardings were brought down to Jenkins' Fort, washed and
decently buried in the Jenkins' graveyard near the fort, where Elisha Harding,
Esq., their brother, caused a stone to be erected to their memory, with this
inscription : "Sweet be the sleep of those who prefer liberty to slavery".
The borough of West Pittston has the distinguished honor of having these sacred
relics repose within her bounds. They should be cherished and cared for by every
true patriot. A fitting monument should be erected to mark their resting place.
John Gardner, taken at the time the Hardings were killed, was a husband, the
father of five children, and a highly respectable man. On the morning of the
4th, his wife and children were permitted to see him. The interview was
extremely affecting. He was chained to a log, and near by lay a heavy pack of
plunder which he was expected to carry. The last adieu was exchanged, and they
parted to meet no more. When his captors were ready to go, they put a rope
around his neck, placed the pack on his back, and led him off as they would a
beast of burden. He held out until they arrived in the neighborhood of Geneva,
N.Y., where, exhausted by his journey, and crushed by the weight of his load, he
fell to the earth, when he was handed over to the squaws, who tortured him to
death. They piled up wood and brush around him, stuck him full of pine knots,
set fire to them, and thus ended his life.
Daniel Carr, a fellow prisoner, saw the remains the following day, and
represented it as a sight to awaken the deepest pity.
The enemy, numbering about two hundred British Provincials, and about two
hundred Tories from Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, under the command of
Major John Butler, and Capt. Caldwell, of Sir John Johnson's Royal Greens, and
about five hundred Indians, commanded by Kayingwaurto, a Seneca chief, and Capt.
Joseph Brant, a Mohawk, descended the Susquehanna river in boats, and landed
near the mouth of Bowman's creek, where they remained some time, waiting for the
West branch party to join them. This party consisted, as before stated, of about
two hundred Indians, under the command of Gucingerachton, a Seneca chief. After
the junction of all the forces, numbering altogether about eleven hundred, they
moved forward to the invasion of Wyoming. They left the largest of their boats,
and with the lighter ones passed on down to the "Three Islands", five or six
miles below, laying them up in Keeler's eddy, about fifteen miles from the
From this point they marched overland, and encamped on the evening of the 30th
of June, on Sutton's creek, about two miles from where the Hardings were killed.

On the 1st of July, while the settlers were marching up the river to bring down
the dead bodies of the Harding's, and if possible, chastise their murderers, the
enemy were marching toward the Valley, by a route back of the mountain, which
lay between them and the route the settlers took in marching up and returning.
They arrived and encamped on the side of the mountain bounding the Valley on the
north-west, at a point directly opposite Wintermoot Fort the same night. On the
morning of the 2d, the gates of the fort were thrown wide open to the enemy, and
possession taken by them. It was said that the inmates of the fort consisted
chiefly of Tories, who treacherously surrendered it to the enemy. This became
their headquarters while they remained in the Valley.
The evening of the 2d, a detachment, under the command of Capt. Caldwell, was
sent to reduce Jenkins' Fort. Originally, the garrison consisted of seventeen,
mostly old men, six of whom, Miner Robbins, the two Hardings, two Hadsalls and
the negro were slain, and three made prisoners; two, Phelps and Reynolds,
wounded; Samuel Morgan, sick, and two lame, so that no means of resistance being
left, the stockade capitulated on honorable terms.
During all this day the settlers were engaged in gathering all the force they
could command, with their women and children at Forty Fort and the other forts,
chiefly the former, about four miles below Wintermoot Fort.
It was a day of alarm, excitement and terror; a day of preparation, running to
and fro, fleeing and seeking shelter from impending wrath and death.
3D JULY 1778.
Let us look at the position of affairs as they existed on the 3d of July, 1778.
The upper part of the Valley, on the west side of the river, was in the hands of
the enemy, numbering 1100 men, well armed and equipped, thirsting for conquest
and blood.
So complete and effective was their possession, that no person had been able to
pass their lines to give information of either their numbers, position or
Jenkins' Fort, on the Susquehanna, just above the west end of the Pittston Ferry
Bridge, was in their possession, having capitulated the day before, but
possession had not been taken until this morning.
Wintermoot Fort, situate on the bank of the plain, about a mile and a half below
and about a half a mile from the river, had been in their possession all the day
before, and was used as their headquarters.
Forty Fort, some four miles further down the river, situate on the west bank of
the Susquehanna river, was the largest and strongest fort in the Valley. Thither
had fled all the people on the west side of the river, on the 1st and 2d, and
this was to be the gathering point of the patriot band. The Wilkes-Barre and
Pittston Forts were the gathering points for the people in their immediate
The forces, such as they were, were distributed throughout the Valley somewhat
as follows :
 The Kingston company, commanded by Capt. Aholiab Buck, numbering about
 forty-four men, was at Forty Fort.
 The Shawnee company, commanded by Capt. Asaph Whittlesey, numbering about
 forty-four men, was at Forty Fort.
 The Hanover company, commanded by Capt. Wm. McKarrachen, numbering about
 thirty, was at home, in Hanover.
 The upper Wilkes-Barre company, commanded by Capt. Rezin Geer, numbering about
 thirty men, was at Wilkes-Barre.
 The lower Wilkes-Barre company, commanded by Capt. James Bidlack, Jr.,
 numbering about thirty-eight men, was at Wilkes-Barre.
 The Pittston company, commanded by Capt. Jeremiah Blanchard, numbering about
 forty men, was at Pittston Fort.
 The Huntington and Salem company, commanded by Capt. John Franklin, numbering
 about thirty-five men, was at home.
These were the militia, or train-bands, of the settlement, and included all who
were able to bear arms, without regard to age. Old men and boys were enrolled in
Then there was Cap't. Detrick Hewitt's company, formed and kept together under a
resolution of Congress, to which reference has already been made.
Besides these, there were a number who were not enrolled in any of the
companies, numbering about one hundred; and in addition, there were a number in
the Valley who had been driven from the settlements up the river. Making
altogether in the Valley, a force of men of all ages and boys, numbering about
four hundred.
Notwithstanding the neglect which all their former appeals for aid had met with,
a new appeal was made by the settlers when they learned the certainty and
imminence of the danger that was threatening, and fast closing in about them.
Again was an express sent to Washington and to Congress, informing them of the
immediate presence of the enemy and of the imminent peril which threatened,
requesting the aid of their two companies, with such additional force as could
be sent; but there was so much hesitancy in deciding, and so much delay in
letting the companies go, after the decision was made, that Captains Durkee and
Ransom, and Lieutenants Welles and Ross, and some others, resigned their
commissions in disgust, and hurried home to the relief of their beleagured
neighbors, friends and families.
The two Wyoming companies, largely reduced by disease and the casualties of war,
were thereupon united and placed under the command of Simon Spalding as Captain,
raised to that position from a Lieutenancy in Durkee's company. After a day or
two's detention, this company alone was sent by a roundabout way to Wyoming.
Although Captains Durkee and Ransom, Lieutenants Ross, Welles, and some others,
arrived before the march to battle, they could give no definite information as
to when the company might be depended upon to arrive for their assistance.
Capt. Clingman, at the lower Fort Jenkins thirty-five miles down the river, had
been sent for by express, the urgency and danger of the situation made known to
him, and his assistance, with his command consisting of ninety men, earnestly
solicited. There was not much hope or expectation of this company marching to
their assistance, from the fact that it was a Pennsylvania company, feeling no
interest in the salvation of the settlement, yet it was thought their humanity
might prompt them to do their duty, and hence they might come to assist in
driving back the savages and British.
On the 2d, Col. Denison had sent a messenger express to Capt. John Franklin and
Lieut. Stoddard Bowen, to hurry forward to the scene of danger, with their
Huntington and Salem company, without delay.
Such was the situation, when, on the morning of Friday, the 3d of July, Major
John Butler sent a flag to Forty Fort, demanding an unconditional surrender of
that fort, the public stores, and Capt. Hewitt's company, with a promise that he
would, when in possession, give them good terms of capitulation, and with a
threat that in case of refusal, he would move upon them at once in full force.
The demand was refused by Col. Denison, then in command, but the refusal was
accompanied with a suggestion that he would like time and opportunity to consult
with Col. Butler and other officers, who were not then present.
The flag was borne by Daniel Ingersoll, a prisoner, taken at Wintermoot Fort,
who was accompanied by a Tory and an Indian, to serve both as guards and spies.
They returned, bearing the refusal of surrender, and it was supposed that upon
their return and report to Major Butler, he would immediately march upon them.
A messenger was forthwith despatched to Col. Butler, at Wilkes-Barre, informing
him of the situation, and requesting his immediate presence with all the
available force at command.
Col. Butler at once ordered the two Wilkes-Barre companies and the Hanover
company, to march directly to Forty Fort. They promptly responded, and at one
o'clock they were all at the place of rendezvous. Information had been sent to
other parts of the Valley, for every man to hasten to Forty Fort, as an attack
was hourly expected.
Immediately upon Col. Butler's arrival, a consultation of the officers was held,
in which the situation was fully discussed. It was decided not to surrender, but
to hold the fort at all hazards.
For the purpose of securing, by delays in negotiations, sufficient time to
permit the arrival of Franklin and Spalding's companies, and possibly
Clingman's, a flag was sent to Major Butler for a conference with him, upon the
subject of his demand of the morning. At the same time scouts were sent out to
make reconnoisance (sic), and learn, if possible, the strength and situation of
the enemy, and watch his movements. In fact, such scouts had been out all the
The flag had not proceeded half way to Major Butler's camp when it was fired
upon by prowling Indians and Tories, probably out as spies, and compelled to
return. After consultation, another flag was sent out. It was also fired upon
and compelled to return.
The scouts sent out returned with the news that they had not been able to get
near enough to the British camp, to ascertain more than that they were still
occupying the neighborhood of Wintermoot Fort, and that the Indians were
prowling about in every direction, many of them moving down the Valley,
capturing horses and cattle which were roaming about in the woods.
Other scouts were sent out, and it was resolved to try another flag. This had
not proceeded far, when it was fired upon and compelled to return. Scouts that
had been out returned with reports that the enemy were moving down toward the
fort, and that their number was not greater than that in the fort.
It was at once resolved to go out and meet them, and if possible, beat and drive
them back, at least stay their progress of destruction down the Valley.
Accordingly, the force gathered at Forty Fort, numbering about four hundred
including old men and boys, marched out at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon,
leaving the fort with a few old men and young boys, women and children, many of
them sick, under the command of Lieut. John Jenkins. They marched from the fort
in martial array, with the Stars and Stripes at their head, to the tune of "St.
Patrick's day in the morning", played on a fife by a true blue son of Erin, with
drums beating, and proceeded as far as Abraham's creek, at the point where the
road now crosses it at the stone bridge, a little over a mile from the fort.
Here on the hill a halt was made, and the party properly disposed to resist an
The position was well chosen. The creek at this point makes a complete elbow,
round a hill which rises, abruptly, about twenty feet above the stream largely
protecting their right and front, while a branch of the stream and a marsh on
the left, covered that part of their force, and their rear was open for retreat
to the fort, should that become necessary. The position was well calculated to
be successfully held against a largely superior force, at least it gave them a
great advantage in case of an attack upon them.
From this point a flag was again sent out, and other scouts, and their return
awaited. This flag was also fired upon and returned. Scouts that had been
previously sent out, had by great skill and energy, succeeded in making a
reconnoisance (sic) of the enemy, by passing along the foot of the mountains on
the west of the Valley; but on their return, when in Western Wyoming, near the
present site of Shoemaker's mills, were shot, one fatally; the other, slightly
wounded, made his way back to headquarters. The information brought was to the
effect that the enemy were in commotion, but what their design or which way they
were moving, could not be told, but the supposition was they were preparing to
leave the Valley. All the information gained was too indefinite and too slight
to be of any use in judging of either the numbers or design of the enemy. All
was doubt and uncertainty.
Speculations and discussion now began to arise as to the intent of the enemy.
The march upon Forty Fort, which had been threatened by Major Butler in the
morning, unless a surrender was made, had not taken place. What did it mean ?
Had the threat any meaning, or was it mere braggadocio ? It was suggested that
the invading force had been over estimated by the timid; that if Major Butler
had the overwhelming force pretended, he would, long ere this, have put his
threat in execution, instead of breaking camp and leaving the Valley, as now
appeared most probable. What did it mean ? Was it a mere threat to frighten, and
thus evade pursuit ? Such were the queries the situation gave rise to, and in
consequence of no satisfactory answer being at hand, the discussion grew warm --
hot, I may say.
In the best of the discussion, scouts returned reporting that the enemy were
burning all the settlements above, and collecting all the cattle within their
reach, and from appearances, it was supposed they would not risk an immediate
attack on Forty Fort, at least, did not intend to do so, but would burn, plunder
and destroy all the upper settlements, probably cross the river to Pittston,
take possession of that fort, destroy that and the neighboring settlements,
massacre the people or make them prisoners, and then return back with their
booty from whence they came.
This report put an entirely new feature on the face of affairs. Although
speculative to a great extent, yet it afforded those who had been fierce to
march and meet the enemy, new grounds on which to urge their views. They had
become tired of seeking the enemy by flags, and demanded to march, meet and
attack him wherever found. They insisted that his force was small, too small to
cope with them, or he would, ere this, have executed his threat of the morning.
The cool and more judicious of the officers, on whom the responsibilities
rested, thought prudence the better part of valor, and decided that their
present position, being tenable against a superior force, and serving to protect
the lower and main part of the valley from the encroachments of the enemy, would
answer the purpose of protection to that part of it, until the expected
reinforcements should arrive.
At this point in the debate, Lieut. Timothy Pierce arrived with information that
the company of Spalding was on its way, and would probably arrive Sunday, for
their assistance.
This news did not, however, calm the troubled waters. It was contended that
Sunday would be too late. That the enemy by that time could prowl through the
Valley, rob and burn their homes, kill or take captive the women and children,
drive off their horses and cattle, and destroy their harvests, while they, like
base and cowardly poltroons, were standing by with arms in their hands, and
seeing him do it, without making an attempt to prevent it.
Besides, were they to remain where they were, or go back to the fort and shut
themselves up in it to await deliverence, they had not collected and in store
sufficient provisions to hold out a long siege, or endure a long delay.
The discussion became heated and personal. Charges of cowardice were made by
Capt. Lazarus Stewart, then a private in Capt. McKarrachen's Hanover company,
against all who opposed advancing, particularly against Col. Butler the
principal commander, who was against an advance, and he threatened to report him
as such to headquarters. Stewart was ordered under arrest by Col. Denison.
The Hanover company became mutinous. Capt. McKarrachen resigned, and the company
immediately elected Stewart in his place. They now threatened a revolt, unless a
march should be immediately made against the enemy.
Col. Dennison, a cool and quiet man, who had taken little or no part in the
discussion as yet, urged the propriety of careful and considerate action, and
the impropriety and danger of hasty and inconsiderate action. That it would be
far better to wait until more was known of the number and movements of the
enemy; that it was hardly possible that they would attempt to overrun the Valley
as matters then stood; that a little delay would give them more information upon
these points, when they could act intelligently, and in the meantime, Spalding's
and Franklin's companies would arrive, the latter, certainly.
These suggestions did not meet the feelings and views of the men generally. They
had become warmed up by the fiery words of Capt. Stewart, and declared that it
would be a disgrace never to be forgotten or forgiven, should they remain there,
or lie cooped up in the fort, while the enemy should devastate the Valley,
plunder and burn their homes, and then draw off with their booty, and they too
cowardly to offer the least resistance. It was therefore determined to march,
and meet or attack the enemy.
Those who would be disposed to blame the commanders of the settlers for
permitting the decision of the question whether to march or remain in position
to be made by the rank and file, should remember that the freest Republic the
world has ever known existed here. The people were their own rulers, in the
strictest and fullest sense of that term. They met in town meeting and disposed
of all their affairs. The town meeting was a legislative, judicial and executive
body, all in one. There was no veto on its enactments; no appeal from its
decisions, and no escape from its execution. All were accustomed to take part in
its deliberations and debates; all voted on its final decisions, and all
submitted to its authority. Could they do less on this occasion ? It may be
objected that this was a military body, and as such, ought to have been
submissive to the commands of its officers. This was not the view they took of
it. It was only a town meeting, met for military purposes, in which they all had
an equal interest, and from the acts of which flowed a common danger or safety.
When it was decided to advance and attack the enemy, Col. Butler discharged
Capt. Stewart from arrest, saying : "We will march and meet the enemy if he is
to be found, and I will show the men that I dare lead where they dare follow".
The order to march was immediately given, and they proceeded cautiously on their
way as far as the hill, just below the monument, where another halt was made,
and where scouts met them with information that the enemy had set fire to
Wintermoot Fort and were leaving the Valley.
In confirmation of this report, they pointed out the smoke from the fire of the
burning fort. The men now became eager to advance and pursue the enemy. Here,
Richard Inman, one of the Hanover men, wearied with the long march and the
burden he was carrying, lay down alongside of a log fence, while they were
halted, and went to sleep. After a short halt they moved on toward Wintermoot
Fort, to test the accuracy of the information in line with the south-western
boundary of the Fair ground, where they formed in battle order, their line
extending from the hill which forms the plain, up in a north-western direction,
about 1500 or 1600 feet.
Captains Durkee and Ransom, and Lieutenants Ross and Welles, having no immediate
command, were detailed to mark off the ground and form the line of battle.
Their march had been in column along and just on the hill mentioned, and on
coming up to the line marked off, the column deployed to the left, and every
company took its designated station and advanced in line to the proper position,
where it halted, the right resting on the hill, the left extending to the
Yellow and pitch-pine trees, with scrub-oaks about breast high, were everywhere
over the plain. There were very few trees of any size. The Indians were
accustomed to burn the plain over every year, to make pasture for deer and other
game, and thus destroyed the growth of trees of large size.
The line was formed with Capatain Hewitt's company on the right; next, Captain
Bidlack's; and next, Captain Geer's. Captain Whittlesey's company was placed on
the left; next, Captain Stewart's, and next Captain Buck's. Captains Durkee and
Ransom, and Lieutenants Ross, Welles and Pierce were assigned positions on the
field, rather as aids than commanders. Lieutenant Stoddart Bowen had arrived
with a few men from Salem, and they were added to Whittlesey's company on the
Captain Blanchard remained at the Pittston Fort with his force. The Indians and
Tories had taken possession of all the water craft in the upper part of the
Valley, and consequently Blanchard's company could not get over to join our men,
had it been prudent and proper for them to have done so.
Col. Butler, supported by Major Jonathan Waite Garret, assisted by Anderson Dana
as adjutant, commanded the right wing. Col. Denison, supported by Lieut.-Colonel
George Dorrance, commanded the left wing. Such was the ground, such the forces,
and such the order of battle.
While these arrangements were being made, scouts were coming in bringing
information of the movements of the enemy. They had succeeded in making their
reconnoisance to the immediate vicinity of the fort, saw it burning, and a few
Indians and others lingering near.
The enemy, in the meantime, had not been idle. From their scouts they had
learned the movements and progress of the settlers in their march; had called in
their scattered forces, particularly those at Jenkins' Fort, and had placed them
in position to receive the settlers upon their advance.
Major Butler, Captain Benjamin and Captain Wm. Caldwell, Lieutenant Turney, with
the British, were located on the left of their position, from the hill toward
the marsh; next, and on their right, were the Tories, under Captains Benjamon
and William Pawling and Hopkins; and to the right of these were the Indians,
under Kayingwaurto, Gucingerachton and Theyasdenegea, reaching beyond the marsh
and doubling down behind a covert of alders, white birch and other brush; the
whole force being arranged nearly in the form of a crescent. They skulked and
hid away in the bushes, so that the few who were stirring about the open space
near the burning fort, were all that could be seen.
After the settlers had formed their line of battle, they marched, in single line
as formed, nearly a mile, and to within forty or fifty rods of the fort, their
right still resting on the hill, and their left extending about 1600 feet toward
the marsh, and to within 400 feet of it, where they halted and sent forward
scouts for further reconnoisance. On the advance of the scouts, Indians would
pop up, fire at them and flee, some in one direction, some in another.
Here they began to realize the fact, that the enemy might be near in sufficient
force to make their further advance a bloody one, in fact, that a battle was
imminent. They came to a halt. Their officers rode along the line informing the
men of the situation, and addressing and encouraging them to stand bravely up to
the work.
Says Col. Butler ----
 "The enemy is probably in full force just ahead of us. If so, we shall have
 hot work. Remember your homes ! Your women and children call on you to protect
 them from the tomahawk and scalping-knife of the savages. Your own fate, as
 well as that of your women, your children and your homes, is in your hands.
 Remember the fate of the Hardings and make sure work. Victory is safety !
 Defeat is death ! Let every man do his duty and all will be well!"
The line at this point was counted off into odds and evens, from right to left.
The advance was made by the evens marching ten steps and halting, and so on,
alternately, each division or section marching ten steps, halting, firing and
loading, while the other was going through the same exercise, until more than
half the distance to what finally became the field of battle had been gone over.

As they advanced in this manner, a number of Indians, here and there over the
field, would arise, deliver their fire and flee before them. The fire would be
returned and our people would continue to advance. Soon a squad of British
arose, delivered their fire and fell back. Our commander cries out, "See ! the
British retreat ! Stand firm and the day is ours !" They continued to advance
and soon another squad of British arose, delivered their fire and fell back.
Again the cry, "The British retreat ! The day is ours !"
Our men had now arrived at a point just opposite Wintermoot Fort, on their
right, and on the edge, in front of the only cleared space on the plain, which
was an open field of three or four acres. They continued their advance slowly
and cautiously, when they soon found the British in full force in front,
standing up to the work, though apparently yielding ground. The firing now
became general along the lines on both sides. Our people felt they were gaining
ground and driving the enemy before them.
Too much attention had been devoted to the movements of the British in front, to
properly observe and understand the movements and dangers of the other portions
of the field. The British lay behind a log fence which ran along the upper side
of this cleared field down to the foot of the hill at a marshy spot, and were
largely concealed and protected by it. The Indians, lying behind the marsh, on
the other side of the field, which ran diagonally across the front of our line,
and concealed behind its dense shrubbery, had not manifested their force on the
field, and their location was not really known. When the settlers had advanced
fully into this cleared field, and were, as they supposed, driving the enemy
before them, the Indians broke from their covert and fell upon their left,
yelling like demons, pouring in their fire and pressing to close quarters with
the spear and tomahawk.
Their numbers were sufficient not only to outflank the left, but to turn it and
gain the rear. Col. Denison, on discovering this movement, at once gave orders
for the left to fall back, and form an oblique line to the position of the
right, and thus bring the left into a position to face the enemy.
The order was not fully understood, or was imperfectly communicated, and hence
the movement was confused. In the midst of the noise and confusion, the word
oblique was understood by some to be retreat, and the line was not formed, but
the left began moving in on the right in a broken, confused mass.
The officers, meantime, made every possible effort to have their orders
understood, and to restore order and bring the men to face the enemy and stand
their ground, but in vain. Col. Dorrance fell, severely wounded, while riding
along the line gallantly laboring in this vain attempt. The mistake was a fatal
one and could not be retrieved.
The Indians, meantime, rushed in upon them, yelling, brandishing their spears
and tomahawks, and the British and Tories pressed down upon them in front,
pouring in a terrible fire.
Broken, borne down by overwhelming numbers, and pressed by an irresistible
force, the left gave way and fell back on the right. The movement was rapid and
confused and brought confusion on the right. From confusion to disorder, from
disorder to broken lines, and thence to flight were but steps in regular
gradation. The flight became a slaughter, the slaughter a massacre. Such was the
It was impossible that the result of the battle should have been different. The
enemy were nearly three to one, and had the advantage of position. Our men
fought bravely, but it was of no avail.
Every Captain fell at his position in the line, and there the men lay like
sheaves of wheat after the harvesters.
Indulge me while I recount to you some of the incidents of that flight, that
slaughter, that massacre.
The flight from the battle-field, although confused and made under overwhelming
pressure, by a furious onslaught of the enemy, yet, was not entirely devoid of
system. The men, generally, gathered in squads, and commenced moving off,
frequently turning back, like the hunted lion, and holding in check their
pursuers, by their threatening attitude and the mutual support they gave each
On the left, a squad of a dozen or more, unconscious of the fatal state of
affairs by which they were surrounded, one man only, John Caldwell, having
fallen in lines, stood their ground and loaded and fired, not only after all
their friends had fled and were gone, but until the enemy had passed by them in
pursuit. They commenced moving off the field together, but one by one broke off,
seeking safety in separate flight, by hiding in the bushes, and fleeing out of
the line of pursuit. Part of them were taken prisoners, and with others, to the
number of ten, were taken about half a mile above the battlefield, about midway
between Wintermoot and Jenkins' Fort, on the top of the hill, on the line
between Exeter, and West Pittston, near the river, where they were put to death
with savage torture.
Capt. Blanchard and others, at Pittston, seeing fires burning below on the
opposite side of the river, went down to see what was going on. They beheld a
scene of torture of the most horrible and revolting character.
Several naked men were being driven round a stake, in the midst of flames. Their
groans and shrieks were most piteous, while the shrieks and yells of the
savages, who danced around, urging the victims on with spears, were too horrible
to be endured. They were powerless to prevent or avenge these atrocities, and
withdrew, heartsick, from the sight of the terrible orgies.
Among the prisoners was Joseph Elliott, who, seeing the horrible fate that
awaited him if he remained, sprang, and broke through the death circle of the
savages, and fled to the river and plunged in. When out about twenty rods, a
ball from his pursuers struck him in the shoulder, wounding him slightly. He
continued on, crossed the river, and proceeded safely to Wilkes-Barre Fort.
A body of fugitives surrounded Col. Butler, and all moved off together. Another
body surrounded Col. Denison, and kept together until they reached Forty Fort.
On their way, with the Indians in hot pursuit, Rufus Bennett, who held Col.
Denison's horse by the tail, and was the hindmost of the party, remembered that
Richard Inman had lain down at the hill, at their second halting place, and not
gone on with the others. As they came near to where Inman lay, Bennett turned
his head in that direction and saw Inman sitting up, rubbing his eyes. "Is your
gun loaded, Inman?" "Yes, it is!" "Shoot this Indian!" Inman raised his rifle
and the foremost Indian, as he passed the fence, was shot through the heart. He
sprang up, uttering a fearful yell, and fell prostrate. The other pursuing
Indians turned and fled back, leaving the party unmolested. Col. Butler repaired
to the Wilkes-Barre, or Wyoming Fort. Col. Denison took up his quarters at Forty
They at once took all necessary precautions to hold their positions and keep
safely their inmates for the night, and until other arrangements could be made
for their security.
The men fled generally back to the fort on the route they had marched out, or to
the river, pursued closely by the British, Indians and Tories, and it would be
difficult to tell which took most delight in shooting and cutting down the
fugitives. No quarter was granted. All were discriminately slaughtered, wherever
found. Men seemed transformed into demons. It was a dreadful hour.
Lieut. Elijah Shoemaker, who had fled into the river and was quite out of harm's
way, was hailed by Windecker, a Tory, who had worked for him and received many
favors at his hands, and requested to come back and put himself under
Windecker's protection. Shoemaker stopped, hesitating what course to pursue.
"Come out! Come out!" says Windecker. "You know I will protect you!" Shoemaker,
trusting to the assurance, came back, and as he extended his hand to take
Windecker's to help him up the bank, Windecker struck his tomahawk into the head
of his victim, who fell back into the river and floated away.
Many other fugitives were in like manner lured to shore, by promises of quarter
or safety, and in like manner slain, too many to be recounted on this occasion.
The account of the horrible orgies at what has since been known as Queen
Esther's Bloody Rock must close this part of this most bloody event.
On the evening of the battle, sixteen of the prisoners taken on the field of
battle and in the flight, under promise of quarter, were collected together by
their savage captors around a rock, near the brow of the hill, at the southeast
of the village of Wyoming, and a little more than a mile from the field of
action. The rock at that time was about two feet high on its eastern front, with
a surface four or five feet square, running back to a level with the ground and
beneath it at its western extremity. The prisoners were arranged in a ring
around this rock, and were surrounded with a body of about two hundred savages,
under the leadership and inspiration of Queen Esther, a fury in the form of
woman, who assumed the office of executioner. The victims, one at a time, were
taken from the devoted circle and led to the east front of the rock, where they
were made to sit down. They were then taken by the hair and their heads pulled
back on the rock, when the bloody Queen Esther, with death-maul would dash out
their brains. The savages, as each victim was in this manner immolated, would
dance around in a ring, holding each others' hands, shouting and halloring,
closing with the death-whoop. In this manner fourteen of the party had been put
to death. The fury of the savage Queen increased with the work of blood. Seeing
there was no other way or hope of deliverance, Lebbens Hammond, one of the
prisoners, in a fit of desperation, with a sudden spring, broke through the
circle of Indians and fled toward the mountain. Rifles Cracked! Tomahawks flew!
Indians yelled! But Hammond held on his course for about fifty rods, when he
stumbled and fell, but sprang up again. Stopping for a moment to listen, he
found his pursuers on each side of him, or a little ahead, running like demons.
He stepped behind a large pine tree to take breath, when, reflecting that his
pursuers being already ahead of him, he would gain nothing by going on in that
direction, he turned and ran for the river in such a course as to avoid the
party around the fatal rock, and yet to keep an eye on them. He passed by
without being seen, went down and plunged into the high grass in the swampy
ground at the foot of the hill, where he remained concealed for about two hours,
watching the movements and listening to the yells of his pursuers. He finally
crawled out of his concealment, cautiously made his way to the river, and thence
down to the fort.
Let us go back to the battle-field. On the fatal left we find only the body of
John Caldwell, of Captain Whittlesey's company. He was killed by the first fire
of the Indians; in fact they fired but once, and dropping their guns rushed in
with spears and tomahawks. Not a living, breathing soul is found on the field.
All who had not been able to fly, except Col. Dorrance, were put to death and
scalped. The wounded were killed where they lay, or were dragged to the burning
fort and thrown upon the fire, pierced and held on with spears. They plead in
most piteous terms to be spared, but they appealed to hearts of adamant, that
rejoiced in their sufferings and laughed at their merciful supplications.
The body of Captain Ransom, who was a fleshy man, was lying near the fort; his
thigh was split with a knife all around from the knees to the hips. Captain
Bidlack was lying by his side, his head cut off. Captain Bidlack lay a short
distance off; he had been held on a fire in a heap of old logs and brush and
burned to death. All were shockingly mutilated. It was a terrible sight. The
stench from the burning bodies polluted the atmosphere with its odor.
Night came, but it did not put an end to the work of death. All through its dark
shadows, the Indians and Tories, like beasts of prey, prowled along the line of
flight, hunting out those who had concealed themselves, slaying them on the
spot, and tearing off their scalps, or capturing and reserving them for torture.

To those who were in the forts, and those who had escaped the pursuit of the
murderous savages, that was a night of consternation, of alarm, and of terrible
The shrill whoop of the Indians, mingled with the yells and hootings of the
Tories and British, as they gathered near, proclaimed a fate as horrible to the
survivors, as that of any who had fallen into their hands. All through the night
was heard the voice of lamentation for the fate of husbands, fathers, sons,
brothers and friends, who had fallen by the hands of the enemy; and weeping and
wailing for tribulation, danger and death, that seemed to await them on the
morrow. To the survivors it was "a night long to be remembered", never to be
The morning of the 4th dawned amid the deepest sorrow and the most gloomy
forebodings. Whichever way the afflicted people turned their eyes, death stared
them in the face. The victorious foe seemed but to have whet their appetite for
blood by the carnival of the preceeding day and night. They spread themselves
everywhere throughout the Valley, and their pathway was marked by the shrieks of
falling victims, the conflagration of their dwellings, and the destruction of
their teeming harvests.
About eight o'clock in the morning, Major Butler despatched a messenger with a
flag to Forty Fort, requesting Col. Denison to come up to headquarters and agree
on terms of capitulation. He went, accompanied by Obadiah Gore, Esq., and Dr.
Lemuel Gustin. A demand was made for the delivering up of all Continental
troops, as prisoners of war, specially naming Col. Z. Butler, Lieut. J. Jenkins
and the remains of Hewitt's company. Denison desired time to consult, which was
given. It was determined that these parties should at once leave the Valley, and
the capitulation should be only for the inhabitants. Col. Butler at once fled
across the mountains to the Lehigh, and Hewitt's company fled down the river.
Terms were agreed upon, on a renewal of negotiations, in all respects favorable
to the inhabitants, except that it provided, "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". This was the only provision against the
settlers and in favor of the enemy, or any part of them.
"Nevertheless", says Col. Denison, "the enemy, being powerful, proceeded,
plundered, burned and destroyed almost everything that was valuable; murdered
several of the remaining inhabitants, and compelled most of the remainder to
leave their settlements, nearly destitute of clothing, provisions and the
necessaries of life."
William Gallop, on oath in the case of Van Horn vs. Dorrance, says :
 "We were not to be plundered, but they plundered us of everything. They kept
 us three or four days, then told us to go. One hundred and eighty women and
 children, accompanied by only thirteen men, went together. They suffered
 extremely, all on foot, barefoot, bareheaded, in great want of provisions. Two
 women were delivered in the woods. Those of the men who had been in the battle
 made their escape before the fort surrendered, as the enemy said they would
 kill all that had been in the battle. The savages burnt all our improvements;
 scarcely a house left that was valuable. About two hundred men were then
 absent, serving in the Continental army."
The greater part of the men, women and children had fled east and down the river
on the night of the massacre. Crossing the river at Forty Fort, they plunged
into the wilderness and made their way to the mountains. Many fled on the night
of the 4th.
The number of fugitives fleeing east from the Valley was about two thousand. The
savages, finding they had fled, pursued them. Many were slain by the pursuing
savages in their flight, some died of excitement and fatigue, others of hunger
and exposure, while many were lost who never found their way out. Hundreds were
never seen again after they turned their backs on Wyoming. By what sufferings
and torture they died the world will never know.
On their way was a long and dreary swamp to be traversed by them, which, on
account of the number who fell and perished in its mire and among its thorny
brambles, was called "THE SHADES OF DEATH".
On the evening of the 5th, the advance party fell in with Capt. Spalding's
company at Bear Swamp. On the morning of the 6th, Lieut. Jenkins joined the
company and they continued their march toward Wyoming. When they arrived on the
top of the mountains, within sight of the afflicted valley, they halted and sent
out parties to protect the fugitives and drive back the pursuing savages. They
remained here engaged in this work for two or three days, when they fell into
the rear of the fugitives, scattering themselves through the woods, picking up
those who had fallen by the way, exhausted from hunger and fatigue, giving them
food, and encouraging and helping forward the women and children.
But for the timely aid thus furnished, many -- very many -- would have perished,
who passed through the wilderness in safety. The number slain in the battle and
massacre has been variously stated. It may be put down at 300. Those who
perished in the wilderness may be put down at 200; making a total of 500, in the
battle, massacre and flight. Major John Butler, in his report, says 227 scalps
were taken at Wyoming. Many were shot in the river, whose scalps were not
As the exact number of the slain is a matter of great doubt, I give the numbers
as stated by various parties who may be presumed to know somewhat about it.
Major John Butler says 227 scalps were taken; Col. Zeb. Butler says about 200;
Lieut. John Jenkins says 300 and a number of officers; Col. N. Denison says 268
privates, 1 colonel, 2 majors, 7 captains, 13 lieutenants, 11 ensigns; Captain
John Franklin says 204; Isaac A. Chapman, 300; Hon. David Scott, 300; T. F.
Gordon, 330; Dr. David Ramsey, 360; Bartram Galbraith, Jr., 340; Abram Scott,
340; Col. W.L. Stone, 300; Dr. Geo. Peck, over 200; Charles Miner, 160; Col.
Pickering, 170.
The story of the sad fate of Col. Dorrance remains to be told. On the 4th, as
the victors were moving down to Forty Fort, to avail themselves of the full
fruits of their victory, the captors of Col. Dorrance, two Indians, started to
take him down to that post. Being an officer of prominence, dressed in a new
uniform, with new sword and equipments, he had been spared when the slaughter of
the wounded on the battlefield had taken place, under the idea that more could
be obtained for his ransom than could be made from his slaughter. About a mile
from the field he became exhausted, and was unable to proceed farther. What to
do with him was a matter of pressing inquiry with the savages. Behind them was a
desolation, ahead, new fields to plunder. To remain where they were and take
care of their prisoner was out of the question. Stepping aside they held a short
consultation. Returning, they put him to death, one taking his scalp and sword,
the other his coat and cocked hat with feather. The latter at once doffed his
own habiliments and donned the coat and hat of their victim, in all else being
in "puris naturalibis", and thus proceeded to the fort with his companion. Gaily
and proudly as the veriest dandy in new toggery, he strutted about and through
the fort, before, as he supposed, an admiring audience. He took particular pains
to exhibit himself to Mrs. Dorrance, who sat grieving over the sad fate of her
husband. Ludicrous and comical as the sight would be comedy, it was a sad and
mournful one as part of a bloody tragedy.
I have thus gone over the leading events connected with the Battle and Massacre
of Wyoming, as we have learned it from our ancestors, and it may appear to some
to be but a one-sided story, told with the views and in the interests of that
side only.
Deeming it but fair and proper that both sides should be heard here to-day, I
will give you the story, as written by a historian on the other side.
I will quote from Capt. Alexander Patterson's petition to the Legislature of
Pennsylvania, in 1804.
 "In the year 1776, there were a number of inhabitants, settlers on the
 north-east branch of Susquehanna, near Wyalusing, under the Pennsylvania
 title. Amongst these were two brothers by the name of Pawling, of a
 respectable family from the county of Montgomery. They had paid one thousand
 pounds in gold and silver for their farm at Wyalusing, unto Job Gilaway, a
 useful, well-informed Indian, who had obtained a grant for said land from the
 late proprietors of this State. Among the settlers were the Messrs. Secord,
 Depew, Vanderlip, and many others, wealthy farmers. The Yankees at Wyoming
 being more numerous, and though at the distance of sixty miles, insisted that
 the Pennsylvania settlers should come to Wyoming and train and associate under
 Yankee officers of their own appointment. As may be supposed, the proposals
 were very obnoxious to the inhabitants of Pennsylvania, and very properly
 refused, alleging they would associate by themselves and would not be
 commanded by intruders, who had so repeatedly sacked the well disposed
 inhabitants of Pennsylvania, and at that time bid defiance to its laws and
 jurisdiction. This gave a pretext to the Yankees for calling them Tories. They
 therefore went in force and tied the Pennsylvania settlers, and brought them
 to Wyoming, with all their moveables, and confined them in a log house, until
 the Indians who lived in the neighborhood of Wyalusing --- and loved the
 Pennsylvanians and at that time were well affected to the United States ---
 some of whom had joined our army."
 "These Indians came to Wyoming and requested that the Pennsylvania people
 should be released from confinement. After some altercation, and the Indians
 declaring they would complain to Congress, they were released, and on their
 return, without property, were ambushed and fired upon by the Yankees. The
 event of all this was that the Pennsylvania people were so harrassed by the
 intruders, that they were driven to seek an asylum with the Indians, and at
 length retired to Niagara for protection. It was well known at the time, on
 the frontiers of Northumberland and Northampton counties, that the conduct of
 these Yankees occasioned the secession of the Five Nations from the United
 " As was natural to imagine, those Pennsylvania settlers who had been so
 cruelly robbed of their property would endeavor to regain it. Their address
 and moving complaints induced Joseph Brant, a well-known Indian chief, and a
 Col. Butler, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, to come with them to Wyoming
 with a number of Indians, for the recovery of their property, goods and
 " The party arrived at a place called Abraham's Plains, about five miles above
 Wyoming. The Yankees were apprised of their being at that place, and must
 needs go and fight them, led on by the old murderer, Lazarus Stewart, first
 having drank two barrels of whiskey to stimulate their spirits. They marched
 in riot, with drums beating and colors flying. The result was that a number of
 them was killed. Those who asked quarter were humanely treated, nor was a
 woman or child molested, only enjoined to leave the country to the rightful
 owners. Surely there was no propriety in calling that transaction a massacre
 or murder. The wretches brought it upon themselves, and so be it."
In another petition, presented by Patterson to the Pennsylvania Legislature,
August 27, 1784, he says :
 "The Connecticut settlers continued to harrass and distress all those who had
 the honesty to declare they held their lands under this State, with vexations
 suits and fines insupportable, until many of the unhappy sufferers, cut off
 from every support from this State, grew desperate, joined the savages, and in
 revenge, deluged Abraham's Plains with blood."
Benjamon Pawling, in a letter dated at Niagara, in 1784, to Edward Bartholomew,
at Philadelphia, states that the Pennsylvania claimants were the people that cut
off the Connecticut settlers, at Wyoming.
 I will call one more witness ---
 Col. Guy Johnson to Lord George Germain.
 New York, 10th Sept., 1778. No. 9. Extract
 * * * "Your Lordship will have learned, before this can reach you, of the
 successful incursions of the Indians and loyalists from the northward. In
 conformity to the instructions I conveyed to my officers, they assembled to
 the forces early in May, and one division, under one of my deputies (Mr.
 Butler), proceeded with great success down the Susquehanna, destroying the
 posts and settlements at Wyoming, augmenting their numbers with many
 loyalists, and alarming all the country; whilst another division, under Mr.
 Brandt, the Indian chief, cut off 294 men near Schoharie, and destroyed the
 adjacent settlements, with several magazines, from whence the rebels had
 derived great resources, thereby affording encouragement and opportunity to
 many friends of government to join them."
These 294 scalps of men cut off by Mr. Butler and the chief, Brandt, and their
associates, and sold in the British market, were gathered on the following
fields :
Cobleskill - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 22
West Branch of Susquehanna - - - - - - - - - - 45
Wyoming - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 227
            Total _______________ 294
It is said by some that Brandt was not at Wyoming. The story as told by both
sides is that he was.
If these be not the fields wherein were harvested and prepared for the British
market these 294 scalps of human victims, please tell me from what fields they
were gathered. The number is sure to be correct, for the report comes from the
purchaser, a high dignitary of the British crown, a wholesale dealer in the
article, for which he paid $2940 in British gold and silver. A few more may have
been gathered and lost by the wayside, but this was the number taken to market.
At ten dollars each they were too valuable to be counted loosely. The number
agrees with the stumps upon the ground in these localities. Until we know better
we must accept the story as told by both sides at the time of the transaction.
Truth and justice require that another fact, which has been omitted, should be
told at this time. So far as known to the people here, not a woman or child was
slain by the enemy in the Valley. How many, if any, were slain by them in the
woods and mountains, whither they pursued them, was never known.
There was no shutting up whole families in their houses, and then fire set to
them and the whole consumed together. No slaughter of whole families, men,
women, and children, in that or any other way. The wickedness and devilishness
of the savage horde needed not that extent of atrocity to make them execrated
throughout the civilized world.
The humane in England, of every degree, "reprobated, in strong terms, the
circumstances attending the destruction of several parts of America,
particularly of the settlement of Wyoming, and the cruelties exercised by Col.
Butler and his savage horde." [See Dodsley's Annual Register, 1779, p.91.]
The story of the fratricide, as told in our histories, would seem to be
disproved by the following document, on file in the State Department of
Connecticut, at Hartford. Doc.133.
To the Honorable General Assembly of the State of Connecticut, or in their
recess, to his Excellency, the Governor, and Council of Safety of said State ---

The memorial of the subscribers sheweth, That your Honors' memorialists enlisted
into the service of this State, in ye Connecticut army, under Captains Strong
and Judd, in ye year 1777; that we cheerfully went out into ye service of our
country, leaving our families in this town; that in ye yr. 1778 the enemy
destroyed this place, as your Honors well know, but by special favor of his
Excellency, General Washington, we have since that time been continued here,
where we have done duty under ye command of Captain Simon Spalding, who is now,
by a late resolve of ye Continental Congress, ordered to leave this garrison,
where some of our families are, and are daily exposed to ye ravages of ye enemy,
where our families must either be left or removed out into ye country or camp.
Wherefore your Honors' memorialists humbly beg leave to lay this our state and
condition before your Honors, that your Honors in your great goodness will order
that we may be discharged from our enlistment, that we may, without expense to
the State, support ourselves and families, and that in wisdom your Honors
interpose in our behalf, or some way grant relief; and we, as in duty bound,
will ever pray.
Westmoreland, ye 23d day of January, 1781.
The within is a true representation of facts, and we, the subscribers, beg leave
to request your Honors that this memorial may be granted, as these men are good
inhabitants, being industrious men, and much wanted in this exposed part of ye
country, and serve to strengthen ye particular interest of this State, for if
this town be not again destroyed by ye enemy, we hope, in a few years, to be
able to throw a considerable sum of cash into ye treasury of this State, and
make some returns for your honors great goodness in granting so many of our
requests. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, shall ever pray.
JAMES NESBIT      "      
JABEZ SILL       "
Westmoreland, 23d January, 1781.
   Signed at the particular request of ye inhabitants.
The allegation is that John Pencil killed his brother, Henry, on Monockonock
Island, after the battle.
The story of the battle, the massacre and flight have been briefly told. I shall
now proceed to dispose of the several actors in them, who survived, and then my
task will be completed.
Major Butler, on the morning of the 5th, received a letter from a messenger. He
at once called his officers and the Indian chiefs around him and read its
contents. He addressed them earnestly, and at the conclusion they gave a great
shout. He at once prepared to leave the Valley, and set out by way of the
Lackawanna, accompanied by Brant and his command. They gained the Susquehanna at
Great Bend, from which point Brant continued on to Umatilla, where he is found
on the 9th, writing to Persifer Carr for corn. Gucingerachton and Kayingwaurto
went up the Susquehanna, accompanied by the Tories.
Capt. Spalding's company, accompanied the fugitives flying east as far as
Stroudsburg, where they remained until the 4th of August, when they returned to
the Valley, accompanied by many of the fugitives. They took possession and held
it till the close of the contest with Great Britain, although often assailed,
and many of them killed or taken prisoners.
The dead, who had fallen on the fatal 3d, remained unburied until the 22d of
October. On the preceding day the following order was issued :
"CAMP WESTMORELAND, Oct. 21, 1778.
 Ordered, That there be a party, consisting of a Lieutenant, two sergeants, two
 corporals and twenty-five men, to parade to-morrow 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 Fort."
In pursuance of this order, Lieut. John Jenkins, on the morning of the 22d, took
charge of a party and went forth on the mournful duty assigned them. They took
with them two carts, some shovels and some two-tined wooden forks. The weather
having been dry for some time after the battle, the bodies had dried and
shriveled up so that few could be recognized. They had become so light that two
men, one at the head and the other at the knees, could take a body up on their
forks and toss it into the cart without difficulty. Passing along up from Forty
Fort they had reached but little more than half way to the field of conflict
before their carts were full. They then stopped and dug a hole in the earth, to
bury them. After putting in what bodies they had, they found the hole still
capable of holding more. They therefore proceeded on to the battle-field and
gathered up all they could find there and on the way, and hauled them all to
this spot, making for them one common grave. It was well it was so done, for
they went out and fell together in the same glorious cause, and in death they
should not have been divided.
After they had deposited all that could readily be found, they closed the grave
and left them to their rest, where they remained until the 4th of July, 1832,
when they were exhumed for the purpose of erecting a monument to their memory,
which it is gratifying to record has been done. What bodies were not found and
buried on that day in that grave, were afterwards buried when discovered, on the
spot where they lay. The number buried at that time, where the monument now
stands, was 96 --- 60 of whom were from the battle-field, the rest on the line
of flight.
You ask, did this terrible atrocity go unavenged? Was no effort made to punish
its perpetrators?
I answer, it was avenged. How, I will briefly narrate.
Upon the reception of the horrible tidings from Wyoming, Washington directed
Col. Thomas Hartley to form a rendezvous, gather troops and move against the
invaders on their own ground. At the same time, Col. William Butler, of the 4th
Pennsylvania regiment, was ordered from Fort Stanwix to go down and form a
junction with Col. Hartley, at Tioga, and together operate against the enemy.
Col. Hartley went as far as Tioga, took some Indians prisoners, burnt Queen
Esther's town and palace, and destroyed Tioga; but Col. Butler did not appear to
join him. He returned to Wyoming. On his way he was attacked by a considerable
body of Indians, between Wyalusing and Laceyville, on Indian Hill, and quite a
sharp fight was had. The Indians were beaten and fled, leaving ten of their
number dead on the field. Col. Butler mistook his way. He went down the head
waters of the Delaware, instead of the Susquehanna. Discovering his mistake, he
struck across to the Susquehanna, but too late to co-operate with Col. Hartley.
He, however, destroyed the Indian castles and villages in the neighborhood of
Unadilla, up and down the river.
This, however, was more than balanced by the massacre of Cherry Valley, on the
11th of November, following.
The whole country had now become aroused to the terrible state of affairs on the
frontiers, and vigorous and ample means for subduing these inhuman monsters were
demanded on all hands. Accordingly an expedition against them was devised during
the winter of 1778-9, and set in motion in the following spring. This expedition
was put in charge of Major-General John Sullivan, who marched into the Indian
country as far as the Genesee river. He met the enemy in several pitched
battles, the most important of which was at Newtown, and defeated them in all.
He destroyed forty of their villages and towns, with 160,000 bushels of corn,
and devastated their whole country along the line of march. Among the slain in a
battle at Chemung was Kayingwaurto, one of the chiefs who led the Indians at
Wyoming. This expedition, while inflicting serious injury upon them in the
destruction of their homes and means of subsistence, as well as by their utter
demoralization as a warlike force, was not so seriously destructive to them in
the loss of life, as the results which flowed from it. By the destruction of
their towns and crops they were thrown completely on the hands of the British,
who were compelled to take them in and provide for them at Niagara.
The ensuing winter was one of great rigor and severity. The snow fell early and
to a great depth, as much as eight feet, and remained upon the ground all
winter. The cold was intense and continuous, so that it was quite impossible to
travel or get about. Shut up in narrow quarters, and fed on salt provisions, the
scurvy broke out among them, and a large number died. They never recovered from
these complicated calamities, and the once mighty Indian confederacy melted away
with the opening of spring, and ceased, from that time forth, to be a power of
any consequence or importance in the contest in which they had previously acted
such a conspicuous and terrible part.
The haughty and chivalric spirit of this splendid race of savages, whose skill
and eloquence in council, and whose mighty conquests and long-continued
domination over surrounding tribes attracted the attention and won the
admiration of the enlightened world, seemed to have been worthy of a better
fate, but the degrading and demoralizing influence of association with the
British and Tories, dragged them down to the lowest depths of depravity and
terminated their career amidst the execrations of mankind, with none to mourn
their unhappy end.
How was it with Great Britain?
The British government, from the time when the news of the terrible atrocities
committed at Wyoming reached that country, had all the moral power of her people
against her in a further prosecution of the war. The opposition became strong
and zealous, and it was with difficulty supplies were obtained for that purpose.
The war lingered along without moral force or power for some years, became a
scheming with treason and a work for incendiaries, and finally resulted in a
glorious victory for the Americans, and an ignominious defeat of the British,
who lost not only all they had fought for, but thirteen of the brightest jewels
from their imperial diadem.
The Tories fled to Canada, losing everything, gaining nothing but an immortality
of infamy.
The conquered and the slain, and their descendants, how, is it with them ?
They arose from this holocaust of blood and flame with renewed life and vigor.
They built up the waste places, cleared away the forests, erected homes,
established institutions, embellished this beautiful Valley, and have grown to
be what you see around you here to-day, and, perchance, may see to-morrow.
The nation they fought and sacrificed and died to establish, is great and
mighty, the home of freemen, the abode of liberty. In all that enriches and
ennobles mankind, in all that honors and dignifies a nation, she stands without
a peer. Steam navigation, the telegraph, phonograph, telephone, microphone,
electric pen, and other wonders in science and in practical life, have been
invented and wrought out by the genius and skill of her people. They have given
a mighty impetus to the human mind, and wiped out all the bounds that have
hitherto been set to control its onward progess. The dark, the stone, the
brazen, the silver, the golden, the iron, and all other ages have been swept
away and superseded by the electric, or lightning age, and this great and mighty
people have realized in themselves the mythological Jupiter Tonas of the
ancients, grasping and wielding the lightnings of heaven, though directing them
to bless instead of curse mankind.


Wyoming Massacre Painting from:
American Heritage, Vol. Xx, No. 6, p. 31 .
Artist: Alonzo Chappel (1828-1887)
Title: Wyoming Valley Massacre, 1778
Owner: Chicago Historical Society.
Battle Of Wyoming History Text From:
at the
3d of July 1878
on the 100th Anniversary of the
by Steuben Jenkins Wilkes-Barre, PA
Printed by Robert Baur