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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


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Chapter XI. — Battle of Minnisink.

THE frequency and severity of the attacks made by the Iroquois on the frontiers of New York and Pennsylvania, induced the Americans to make a sudden descent, during this year, on the Onondagas. The execution of this enterprise was committed to Colonel Van Schaick, by General James Clinton, the commanding officer in that district. Five hundred and fifty-eight men, accompanied by Lieutenant-Colonel Willett, and furnished with every necessary supply, embarked in thirty batteaux, on Wood Creek, west of the Fort Stanwix summit, and passing rapidly through Oneida lake and river, landed, during the night, at the site of old Fort Brewington, whence they pressed swiftly forward, using every precaution to prevent an alarm. The surprise would have been complete, but for the capture of a warrior near the castle. As it was, however, thirty-three warriors were killed, and the rest fled in the utmost consternation, leaving behind them all their stores, arms, and provisions. The castle and village were burned, and the country devastated within a circuit of ten miles. The army then returned to Fort Stanwix, or Schuyler, without the loss of a man.

It is doubtful whether such retributive measures are attended by any resulting advantages. The Onondagas determining to retaliate, Brant placed himself at the head of 300 warriors of that, and other tribes, who attacked Schoharie and its environs, which had so frequently, since the commencement of the Revolution, been the scene of every species of Indian outrage; — the property of the inhabitants plundered, their houses burned, and themselves murdered and scalped. It appeared as if the Mohawk Indians, and their beau ideal, Brant, could never forgive the sturdy patriotism of the people of that valley.

Palatine, in the Mohawk valley, was, at the same time, attacked by parties of Indians from the Canada border, and many persons killed; but no event which occurred during this year, made so deep an impression on the public mind, as the battle and massacre at Minnisink, a fertile island in the Delaware river, which had long been the camping and council-ground of the Lenapi, and of the southern Indians, in their progress to the Hudson valley, by way of the Wallkill. Few places have better claims to antiquity, than the town of Minnisink, or "The Place of the Island."

Having reached the vicinity of this town on the night of July 19, with sixty warriors

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and twenty-seven tories, disguised as Indians, Brant attacked it while the inhabitants were asleep, burned two dwelling-houses, twelve barns, a small stockade-fort, and two mills, killed several of the inhabitants, took others prisoners, and then ravaged the surrounding farms, driving off the cattle and horses. When intelligence of this outrage reached Goshen, the excitement became intense. A militia force of 149 men instantly marched from Orange county, in pursuit, and overtook the enemy on the second day. The advantage was on the side of Brant, who, by marching through a narrow ravine, placed his force in a strong position. The contest was long and desperately maintained, during which Brant received a ball through his girdle. The battle raged from eleven o'clock in the morning until sunset, when the ammunition of the Orange county men failed. They had lost 102 men; and seventeen, who were wounded, were placed under the care of a surgeon, behind a rocky point. The Indians rushed upon these unfortunate men like infuriated tigers, and tomahawked them all, notwithstanding their appeals for mercy. Brant, himself, "the monster, Brant," 399 sunk his tomahawk in the head of Colonel Wisner, one of the wounded. Only thirty men escaped to relate the fate of their comrades.

It is probable that this atrocity was one of the immediate causes of the expedition under General Sullivan, which marched against the Iroquois cantons during the following year.

While these events were occurring in New York, a body of 200 Indians and 100 refugee royalists, under the command of M'Donald, appeared on the borders of Northampton county, Pennsylvania, where they burned many houses, and committed several murders. A few days subsequently, they invested Freeland's fort, on the Susquehanna, the garrison of which was too weak to defend the works, which had served principally as a shelter for women and children, while the men were attending to the duties which they owed their country. Captain Hawkins Boon, who, with thirty men, was stationed in the vicinity, marched to the relief of the fort; but, finding that it had been surrendered, he valiantly attacked the besiegers, and was killed, together with eighteen of his men. This affair happened about the same time as the tragic events of Minnisink.

There were some contemporaneous movements in the West, which deserve attention. The feud between the Virginians and Shawnees still raged as fiercely as ever. In July, Colonel Bowman, who had served under Clark, led a force of 160 men against the Shawnees at Chillicothe. Although he took them by surprise, they fought bravely during several hours, and finally compelled him to retreat. The Shawnees pursued him thirty miles, with augmented numbers, and forced him to a second engagement. This fight having continued two hours with no advantage to the patriots, Colonel Harrod proposed to mount a number of men on horses, and make a cavalry charge. The suggestion was adopted, and succeeded admirably. The Indians fought with great desperation; but, being finally routed, they fled.

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
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