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Sketches Illustrating the Early Settlement and History of Glengarry in Canada
Chapter 4


Sullivan's Expedition against the. Senacas and Cayugas-— Intended Capture of Niagara frustrated. — Sir John Johnson and his Regiment return to Tryon County.— Brant destroys Canajoharie.— Still another Invasion into the Schoharie Country—Investment of Fort Middleberg—Americans fire on a Flag of Truce.—Immense Destruction of Grain and other Property.— Caughnawaga and Stone Arabia laid in ashes. — Defeat of Americans at Fort Keyser.—Haldimans approbation of Sir John Johnson's zeal. — Negotiations for return of Prisoners.—Sufferings of Loyalist families.—Fight at Schele's Settlement, near Fort Dayton. — A brave disciple of Martin Luther. — Americans victorious in two engagements near Johnstown.—Deathi of Walter Butler. — Awful Massacre by American miscreants of the Moravian tribe of non-combatant Indians.—Conclusion of the War.

In the Spring of 1779, it was determined by the Americans that active measures should be taken against the Indians* especially the Senacas and Cayugas, that those tribes should in fact be annihilated, and with this object in view a division of their army from Pennsylvania under General Sullivan, who was in command of the expedition, and another from the north under General Clinton, effected a junction at Newton, the site of the present town of Elmira. Their joint forces amounted to five thousand men. They were there met by a gallant band of five hundred Indians -under Brant, with two hundred and fifty British under Colonel John Butler, associated with whom were Sir John and Guy Johnson, Major Walter N. Butler and Captain John Macdonell (Aberchalder). A desperate resistance was made against such tremendous odds, but without present success, yet the ultimate and indeed the principal object of the campaign, which was the capture of Niagara, the headquarters of the British in that region, and the seat of influence and power among the Indians, was abandoned, and the Americans reaped but little advantage from the expedition except that they scourged a broad extent of country, and laid more towns in ashes than ever had been destroyed on the continent before. Such of the redmen as were not massacred were with their women and children driven from the- country, their habitations were left in ruin, their fields laid waste, their orchards uprooted, their altars overthrown, and the tombs of their fathers desecrated—all of which is admitted by the American historians, and was in strict accordance with General Washington's orders, and for which General Sullivan received the thanks of Congress (November 50th, 1779). And yet they complained of the atrocities of the Indians.

Still again, in May, 1780. Sir John Johnson, at the head of five hundred men, composed of some Regular troops, a detachment of his own Regiment, and about two hundred Indians and "Tories," re-visited the scene of their once habitation, a visit highly unpopular to their former neighbours, and the immediate object of which was to recover Sir John's family plate, which had been buried in the cellar of Johnson Hall at the time of his flight in 1776, the place of deposit being confided only to a faithful slave. It was found and distributed among forty of his soldiers, who brought it back to Montreal. After the custom of the day, they destroyed all the buildings, killed the sheep, cattle and a number of obnoxious Whigs, and appropriated all the horses to their own use. Then ranks were recruited by a considerable number of Loyalists, while Sir John also obtained possession of some thirty of his negro slaves. A number of prisoners were also taken and sent to Chambly. We are of course told that this irruption was one of the most indefensible aggressions upon an unarmed and slumbering people which stain the annals of British arms. It made much difference on which leg the boot was placed; and the Indians in sympathy and alliance with the British were to abstain from all acts of violence, while not only the men of their race, but the women and children as well, were to be massacred in cold blood, their very extermination being the object in view—and the Loyalists were to strike no blow for the Cause they held so dear, and against those who had deprived them of every earthly possession. The following is Sir John Johnson's report of this expedition :

"St. Johns, 3rd June, 1780

"Sir,

"I have the honour to report to Your Excellency the arrival of the troops and Indians under my command at this place. We arrived at the settlement, within five miles of Johnson Hall, on the 21st of last month, in the evening, previous to which I had made known to the Indians the plan I wished to pursue, and I thought I had little reason to doubt their joining heartily in it, but upon assembling them to obtain their final answer, I was not a little mortified to find them totally averse to it, or even to a division of their body. I therefore found myself under the disagreeable necessity of adopting their plan, which was for them to proceed to Tripe's Hill, within a mile and a half of Fort Johnson, while the troops under my command were to march by Johnstown to Caghnawaga, where the whole were to join and proceed up the river to the nose, and from thence to Stone Arabia. We accordingly proceeded, and met at the house of Dow Fonda, at Caghnawaga, destroying all before us as we marched along. From thence we proceeded to within a mile of the nose, where a halt was found absolutely necessary, the troops and Indians being much fatigued and in want of refreshment, having marched from six in the morning of the 21st till ten in the morning the day following. Some of the Indians and Rangers continued burning and laying waste everything before them, till they got above the nose. Most of the inhabitants tied to the opposite shore with their best effects, securing their boats, which prevented their crossing the river. After the men were sufficiently rested and refreshed, I proposed moving on to Stone Arabia, to which the Indians objected, alleging that the troops, as well as themselves, were too much fatigued to proceed any further, and that the inhabitants were all fled into their forts, with their effects, and that there was nothing left but empty houses, which were not worth the trouble of going to burn; indeed, many of them moved off with their plunder, with which they were all loaded, before I knew their intention. I therefore found myself under the necessity of following them. We burned several houses on our return to Johnstown, where we arrived about one o'clock the same day. After providing provisions, etc.. we marched back by the same route we came to the Scotch settlement, the number of houses, barns, mills, etc., burnt, amounts to about one hundred and twenty. The Indians, contrary to my expectation, killed only eleven men, among them Colonel Fisher, Captain Fisher, and another brother, of what rank I know not. The prisoners taken amounted to twenty-seven. Fourteen of them I suffered to return, being either too old or too young to march, and I was induced by the earnest desire of the Loyal families left behind to set at liberty two of the principal prisoners we had taken, in order to protect them from the violence of the people, which they most solemnly promised to do; and in order to make them pay the utmost attention to their engagements, I assured them that the rest of the prisoners should be detained as hostages for the performance of this promise. I also sent a Captain Veeder back in exchange for Lieutenant Singleton, of my Regiment, which I hope will meet with Your Excellency's approbation. Vast quantities of flour, bread, Indian corn, and other provisions were burnt in the houses and mills, and a great number of arms, cash, etc.; many cattle were killed, and about seventy horses brought off. One hundred and forty-three Loyalists', and a number of women and children, with about thirty blacks (male and female), came off with us. Seventeen of the latter belong to Colonel Claus, Johnson and myself. Some are claimed by white men and Indians, who are endeavouring to dispose of them; I should therefore be glad to have Your Excellency's directions concerning them. I enclose Your Excellency the only papers I could procure, with sundry letters, which will shew the early intelligence they had of our approach. I must beg leave to refer Your Excellency to Captain Scott for further particulars, and beg you will excuse this imperfect account of our proceedings. I shall transmit exact returns of the Loyalists and Indians from the Mohawk Village, who have come in, by the next post. I beg leave to recommend my cousin, Ensign Johnson, to Your Excellency for the vacancy in the Forty-Seventh, if not pre-engaged, as he was of great service in preventing the Indians from committing many irregularities, which I was very apprehensive of, and he has been promised the first vacancy. I must also beg Your Excellency will be pleased to grant a flag for the relief of the families left-in Tryon County who may choose to come into this Province, which is most earnestly wished for by their husbands and parents.

"I have the honour to be, with great respect, Your Excellency's
"Most obedient and
"Most humble servant,

"John Johnson.

"His Excellency,
General Haldimand."

Later in that year (August, 1780), Brant with his Indians paid .a visit on his own account to the settlements of the Mohawk, destroyed the forts at Canajoharie, and rendered the fairest district of the Valley in a single day a scene of wailing and desolation, sixteen of the inhabitants being killed, fifty-three dwelling houses, as many barns, together with a grist mill, the church and growing crops destroyed, and between fifty and sixty prisoners taken, though it is admitted that "no outrages were committed on defenceless women and children other than carrying them into captivity"'—a circumstance which Mr. Stone is good enough to attribute to the absence of the wicked "Tories" in this expedition.

In October of the same year another and more extensive expedition was planned and carried out against the unfortunate Whigs of the same district, in retaliation for Sullivan's merciless crusade, under Sir John Johnson, Thayendanegea and a famous Seneca Chieftain, a half-breed named O'Bail, styled by the Indians "Corn Panter"— the force consisting, besides Mohawks, of three Companies of the Royal Regiment of New York, one Company of German Yagers, a Detachment of two hundred of Butler's Rangers, and one Company of Regulars, under the command of Captain Richard Duncan, the son of an opulent gentleman residing previous to the War in the neighborhood of Schenectady, and who was afterwards a well-known pioneer of the County of Dundas, which, if I am not mistaken, he represented in the early Parliaments of Upper Canada, and was also in later life one of the Judges of the Province—for the District of Lunenberg, as the Eastern portion of the Province was first known. Their total number is variously estimated from eight hundred to over fifteen hundred. Sir John's troops were collected at Laehine, whence they ascended the St. Lawrence to Oswego. Thence they crossed the country to the Susquehanna, where they were joined by the Indians and some "Tories." Each soldier and Indian had eighty-rounds of cartridges.

The Americans on this occasion, when Sir John had invested the Fort of Middleberg, showed their appreciation of the rules of honourable warfare by firing three different times on British officers bearing flags of truce with a summons to surrender, their reason being, as is alleged, ''The savages, and their companions the Tories still more savage than they, had shown no respect to age, sex or condition, and it was not without force that the question was repeated, are we bound to exercise a forbearance totally unreciprocated by the enemy?" "Besides," it was added, "let us show that we will neither take nor give quarter; and the enemy, discovering our desperation, will most likely withdraw." Such conduct as this was likely to meet with reprisals, and it did. The march was continued in the direction of Fort Hunter, at the continence of the Schohariekill with the Mohawk River, in the course of which were destroyed the buildings and produce of every description. General Washington, in his message to the President of Congress, stated that the destruction of grain was so great as to threaten the most alarming consequences, in respect to the forming of magazines for the public service at the north, and that but for that event the settlement of Schoharie alone would have delivered 80,ooo bushels of grain The houses and barns were burnt, the horses and cattle killed or taken, and not a building known to belong to a Whig was saved. The Whigs, however, in retaliation, immediately after reducing the houses of the Tories to the common lot. Sir John ordered his forces to spare the Church at the Upper Fort, but his mandate was disobeyed. It is alleged that over one hundred of the inhabitants were killed, but this is probably a gross exaggeration. Whatever was left of Caughnawaga at the time of the irruption of Sir John in the spring, and all that had been rebuilt, was destroyed by fire, and both sides of the Mohawk River laid in waste. A Major Fonda, a prominent Whig, was a principal sufferer, his houses and property in the Town of Palatine to the value of sixty thousand dollars being destroyed. At Fort Keyser a battle took place, which resulted in the entire discomforture of the Americans, their leader, Colonel Brown, and some forty-five of his men being killed, the remainder seeking safety in flight, and Stone Arabia was then reduced to the condition of a desert. By this time, however, reinforcements had arrived for the Americans, under the command of General Van Renssalaer, whose forces were in every respect superior to the British. In the engagement which followed, the British Indians did not act with their usual bravery, and though the Regulars and Rangers are admitted to have fought with great spirit, Sir John and his forces were obliged to retire. He succeeded, however, by a very skilful manoeuvre, in capturing a strong detachment of the Americans under Captain Vrooman, and made his way to Oswego without further molestation. Sir Frederick Haidimand, writing to Lord George Germaine, stated: "I cannot finish without expressing to Your I,ordship the perfect satisfaction which I have for the zeal, spirit and activity with which Sir John Johnson has conducted this arduous enterprise."

About this time some very acrimonious correspondence was taking place between British and American officers, each accusing the other of cruelty to prisoners. Thus, General Watson Powell writes to the American Colonel Van Schaick, in returning some American prisoners: "The attention which has been shown to Mrs, Campbell and those in her unfortunate circumstances, as well as the good treatment of the prisoners, which it is hoped they will have the candour to acknowledge, is referred to for comparison to those by whose orders or permission His Majesty's subjects have experienced execution, the horrors of a dungeon loaded with irons, and the miseries of wan," and he enclosed a list of some families of men belonging to the Eighty-Fourth Regiment whose return was demanded. The list is as follows: John McDonell's family, Donald McGnser's, Duncan McDonell's, John Mcintosh's, Duncan McDonells, Donald McDonald's, Kenneth McDonell's, and John McDonell's father and mother. Colonel Gansevoort replied, denying the accusation which General Powell made in a previous portion of his letter, of a breach of faith on the part of the Americans in regard to the cartel of the Cedars, and denying also that, except in some few cases by way of retaliation for the many cruelties alleged by him to have been perpetrated by the British, any prisoners or Loyalists had been treated with cruelty or indignity. Colonel Gansevoort, however, is upon their own admission, proven to have lied twice in the same letter, and his maxim being, as is stated, "his country, right or wrong"—his denial of cruelty to prisoners is worthless. It is apparent, and perhaps after all but natural, that their wrongs all through the War were magnified to the utmost extent, and in others the most preposterous stories were fabricated, while they carefully conceal, minimize or totally deny well-founded accusations of cruelty to prisoners in their hands, and other offences. Some of their violations of the rules which govern hostile States and Governments are, however, notorious, and are matters of history, as when Congress itself broke the plighted faith of their General (Arnold) in regard to the cartel entered into at the Cedars for the exchange of prisoners. They are unable to deny or explain that breach of national honour, and are obliged to admit that the violation of the stipulations made on that occasion created difficulties in regard to the exchange of prisoners during the whole War, and was frequently a source of embarassment and mortification to General Washington during its entire continuation.

The Haldimand papers shew the vicissitudes and hardships undergone by the families of many of the officers. In series B, vol. 158, p. 351, appears the following:

*To his Excellency General Haldimand, General and Commander m Chief of all H; Majesty's Forces in Canada and the Frontiers thereof,

"The memorial of John and Alexander Macdonell, Captains w the King's Royal Regiment of New York, humbly sheweth,

"That your Memorialist, John Macdonell's, family are at present detaind by the rebels in the County of Tryon, within the Province of New York, destitute of every support but such as they may receive from the few friends of Government in said quarters, in which situation they have been since 1777.

"Am I your Memorialist, Alexander Macdonell, on behalf of his brother, Captain Aikn Macdonell, of the Eighty-Fourth Regiment that the family of his said brother have been detained by the Rebels in and about Albany since the year 1775, and that unless it was for the assistance they have met with from Mr. James Ellice, of Schenectady, merchant, they must have perished.

"Your Memorialists therefore humbly pray Your Excellency will be graciously pleased to take the distressed situation of said families into consideration, and to grant that a flag be sent to demand them in exchange, or otherwise direct towards obtaining their release ment, as Your Excellency in your wisdom shall see fit, and your Memorialists will ever pray as in duty bound.

"(Signed,) John Macdonell,

"Alexander Macdonell."

The above memorial is dated 27th July, but the year is not given. It was probably 1779 or 1780.

A petition from a number of the men of the King's Royal Regiment of New York is as follows:—

To the Honourable Sir John Johnson, Lieutenant-Colonel Commander of the King's Royal Regiment of New York.

The humble petition of sundry soldiers of said Regiment sheweth,—

That your humble petitioners, whose names are hereunto subscribed, have families in different places of the Counties of Albany and Tyron, who have been and are daily being ill-treated by the enemies of Government.

Therefore we do humbly pray that Your Honour would be pleased to procure permission for them to come to Canada. And your petitioners will ever pray.

John McGlenny, Thomas Ross, Alexander Cameron, Frederick Goose, Wm. Urghad, Alex. Ferguson, Thomas Taylor, William Cameron, George Murdoff, William Chissim, Eckean McIntire, Andrew Milcross, Donald McCarter, Allen Grant, Hugh Chisholm, Angus Grant, John McDonald.

The names and number of each family intended in the within petition :—

Name of Family-

1, Duncan Mclntyre's,

2. John Christy's

3, George Mordoff's

4, Daniel Campbell's

5, Andrew Milross'

6, William Urghad's

7, Donald McCarter's

8, Donald Ross'

9, Allan Grant's

10, William Chiasmi's

11, DonaId Chissim's

12, Hugh Chissim's

13, Roderick McDonald's

14, Angus Grant's

15, Alexander Grant's

16, Donald Grant's

17, John McDonald'?

18, John McGlenny's

19, Alexander Ferguson

20, Thomas Ro3s'

21, Thomas Taylors'

22, Alexander Cameron's

23, William Cameron's

24, Frederick Goose's Endorsed—Memorial from several soldiers of Sir John Johnson's Corps, received 27th July. (The year is not given, it was probably 1779 or 1780.)

In August, 1781, Donald McDonald, one of the Loyalists from Tryon County, who had come to Canada at the head of a small band of sixty-two Indians and Tories, and accompanied by "two notorious traitors named Empie and Kasselinan," as Mr. Stone is good enough to term two prominent German Loyalists, whose descendants now live in the County of Stormont, made a raid upon the settlement at Schell's bush near Fort Dayton. A number of Whigs took refuge in Schell's house, and defended it bravely against several attempts to fire. McDonald at length procured a crowbar and attempted to force the door, but while thus engaged received a shot in the leg from Schell's musket which placed him hors de combat, and none of his men being sufficiently near, Schell, quick as lightning, opened the door and made him prisoner, making use of the cartridges with which he was amply provided to fire upon his comrades, several of whom were killed and others wounded. Whereupon Mr. Schell, out of compliment to McDonald's religion no doubt, immediately caused to be sung the hymn which was a favourite with Luther during the perils and afflictions of the great Reformer in his controversies with the Pope. While thus engaged, McDonald's forces returned to the fight, and made a desperate attempt to carry the fortress by assault and rescue their leader. Rushing up to the walls, five of them thrust the muzzles of their guns through the loopholes, but had no sooner done so than Mrs. Schell, seizing an axe, by quick and well-directed blows, ruined every musket by bending the barrels. Schell afterwards managed to escape to Dayton. McDonald was so desperately wounded that his men were unable to remove him, so they took Schell's boys as hostages, charging their wounded leader to tell the Americans that if they would be kind to him they would take care of Schell's boys. McDonald was the next day removed to Port Dayton by Captain Small, where his leg was amputated, but the blood could not be staunched and the brave man died in a few hours. Mr. Stone is authority for the statement that he wore a silver mounted tomahawk, which was taken from him by Schell, that it was marked by thirty scalp notches, "showing that few Indians could have been more industrious than himself in gathering this description of military trophies"—but Mr. Stone is not impartial or thoroughly trustworthy on such subjects. Eleven British were killed and six wounded, and the boys who were returned after the War reported that nine wounded died before they arrived in Canada. Schell was subsequently killed during the War by Indians, one of his sons being killed and another wounded in their efforts to save him. It must be conceded that he fought with pluck and that Martin Luther had every reason to be proud of his disciple.

The last expedition against this neighborhood was destined to be a still more unfortunate one for the British. In October, 1781, a force was organized at Buck's Island, in the St. Lawrence, a few miles below Kingston, consisting of about seven hundred men, composed of twenty-five men of the Eighth Regiment, one hundred of the Thirty-fourth Regiment, one hundred of the Eighty-fourth (Royal Highland Emigrants), thirty-six Highlanders, one hundred and twenty of Sir John Johnson's, forty of Lake's Independents, one hundred and fifty of Butler's Rangers, twelve Yagers, with one hundred and thirty Indians, the whole under the command of Major Ross, who was, I believe, a brother-in-law of Captain John Macdonell of Aberchalder, having married his sister.

A hard contested battle took place in the neighborhood of Johnstown on the 24th October, the fortune of war varying from time to time, but culmiating in that of the Americans, whose loss was forty killed, the British losing the same number in killed and some fifty prisoners. A day or two later, another engagement occurred, about twenty of the British being killed, amongst whom was the brave Walter Butler, son of Colonel Butler of the Scouts, one of the most enterprising and indefatigable officers, who was shot through the head by an Oneida Indian and promptly scalped. It is necessary to peruse a full narrative of the war properly to appreciate the dauntless courage, activity and endurance of this gallant soldier. The Americans disgraced their nation by refusing burial to his body. In re-passing the battle ground, the body of Butler was discovered as it had been left, and there, without sepulchre, it was suffered to remain.

This expedition closed the active warlike operations in the north for that year, and the following was a period rather of armed neutrality than active war, while in November, 1782, provisional Articles of Peace on the basis of a treaty, by which the independence of the United States was acknowledged, were entered into, and the people of the Mohawk Valley were left in peace, though that region of country had been so utterly laid waste that little more was to be accomplished. The Loyalists lost their homes, but the land on which their own dwellings once stood was all that they left to their opponents. The last act of the War is a fitting satire upon the protestations of the Americans of the humane manner in which they conducted it: The massacre of every man, woman and child belonging to the Moravian Tribe of Indians by a band of some three hundred wretches under the command of a miscreant named Colonel David Williamson. These Indians had been peaceable during the whole War—the tenets of their religious faith, for they were Christians, and their religious principles, which would appear to have been somewhat similar to those of the Quakers, forbidding them to fight. They are described as a humble, devout and exemplary community, simple tillers of the soil of their forefathers. Their brains were battered out, old men and matrons, young men and maidens and children at their mothers' breasts being massacred, two only of the whole settlement escaping, while the American papers of the day applauded it as a very commendable achievement. It was as base, as brutal and as treacherous as the massacre of Glencoe—perhaps worse, if that be possible. Mr. Thomas Campbell might have composed a sequel to his "Gertrude of Wyoming".

The provisional articles of Peace, signed on the 30th November, 1782, were forwarded by Lord Sydney to General Haldimand on the 14th February, 1783. On the 8th of August following, Lord North wrote to General Haldimand, ordering the disbandment of the two Battalions of the King's Royal Regiment of New York and of the Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment, the latter replying on the 18th of November that it would be impossible to disband them until the spring. The necessary preliminaries appear, however, to have been carried out during the winter of 1783-4, but the disbanded soldiers received assistance from Government for three years, until they were able to reap some return from the lands allotted to them in Upper Canada.

The Treaty of Versailles, establishing the Peace between Great Britain and the United States, and settling the boundary between Canada and the States, was signed on the 3rd September, 1783.


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