Samuel W Durant.

History of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

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lake, and a strip of laud two miles in width entirely around it, for
the sum of £:j."iO. This territory ho olTered to the colonial govcrn-
mi'ut at the same price, but they dvelinel purchasing. .Vbout 17.)2
he reinstiited as Indian supeiintcn lent, and his .accounts were
also probably settled. His Imlian purchase was confirmed by the
colonial government, and Ihe lands thus purchased no doubt formed
a jiart of his estate, which was oonfi.-icatod by Congress during the
AVar of the Revolution.



iill the landscape once more, with hardly a cultivated spot,
save where occasionnlly may be seen the rude bark cabins
of the Iroquois, and the little field of stunted corn and
beans, where the toiling squaw, with her clam-shell hoe,
managed to raise a scanty allowance of vegetables for the
winter's needs. Tlie shrill whoop or the guttural exclama-
tion of the savage is hoard at intervals, as the painted war-
riors ply the paddle along the shadowy stream. Anon a
detachment of the king's regulars in scarlet uniforms ap-
pears through an opening in the overhanging trees, and a
long array of loaded bateaux toils slowly on with pole and
paddle towards the distant fort on the banks of Ontario.

Now and then the journey is enlivened by a song, and
occasionally a solid English oath grates harshly on the ear,
for " our array swore terribly," no doubt, ou the Mohawk
as well as " in Flanders."

It is hard to realize that upon the bosom of this insig-
nificant stream have floated bands of savage warriors and
regiments of English and American troops, with frowning
guns and vast munitions of war.

The distance between the two points where the Mohawk
River and Wood Creek approach nearest each other, at
Rome, is less tlian a mile, but the portage was generally,
unless at high water, about two miles.

The exact date of the erection of the first fortification at
the carrying-place is not known ; but it was probably not
long after the erection of the work at Oswego.

According to an old map in the Colonial History of the
State, there was a small .stockade work situated at the ex-
treme western bend of the Mnhawk River, in the city of
Rome, south of the New York Central Railway, and very
near where the Erie Canal passes. This work was quite
likely to have been erected soon after the establishment of
a trading-post at the mouth of the Oswego River, in 1727,
as all the supplies for that post made the portage from this
point to the navigable waters of Wood Creek. However,
there is no certain evidence of the date of its erection. It
was named on the map in question Fort Craven, but why
so named it is impossible at this day to determine. Stand-
ing a few rods south of this work was Fort Williams, which
was erected at a later date, most probably about 1755, as it
was in existence at the time of the capture of Fort Bull,
on the -!7th of March, 1756, by M. de Lery, and gar-
risoned by a force stated at 150 men, under command of
Captain William Williams. This was, as shown on the
map, built in the form of a five-pointed star, and must
have been a very respectable fortification. Fort Craveu is
said to have been destroyed by a flood in the Blohawk, and
Fort Williams was destroyed by Colonel Webb upon his re-
treat after the capture of 0.swego by Montcalm, in August,
1756. The site of these two old fortifications was buried
under the deLris from the Erie Canal, at the time its loca-
tion was changed, in 1844.*

Fort Bull (named, probably, from the oflicer who con-
structed it) stood on Wood Creek, about two and a half miles
west-northwest from the site of Fort Stanwix, and near the
junction of Mud Creek. The date of its erection is also

» Other accounts would indicate that Fort Williams stood on or
near tho site of Fort Stanwix.

involved in impenetrable mystery. There is a strong proba-
bility that it may have been tho first one erected on tho
carrying-place, or it may have been erected at the same
time with Fort Craven, for there is little doubt that the
latter was in e.^istenoe for some time previous to the erec-
tion of Fort Williams. Fort Stanwix will be treated of
farther on. There was still another fortification, partially
completed, within the limits of the present city of Rome.
It stood on or near the present United States Arsenal
grounds. It was called Fort Newport, and was erected at
some period prior to the siege of Fort Stanwix, as it is de-
picted on Flury's map of the siege (see map) as being then
in ruins. It may have been destroyed by the advance of
St. Leger's army, under Lieutenant Bird, though the fact
is not mentioned in his journal. In the journal of a
Frenchman, probably an officer, who made a journey from
Oswego to Albany in 1757-58, this work is mentioned as
having been commenced by the English before the capture
of Fort Bull, in March, 1756, but was never finished. He
states that it was near a small stream, and precisely on the
summit between Fort Williams and Fort Bull. It was, no
doubt, the same as the ruined work shown on Flury's map
of the siege of Fort Stanwix.

It would seem that previous to the opening of the war
of 1754-00 the Indians had the monopoly of carrying
goods across this portage, for in 1754, according to colonial
documentary history, the traders made bitter complaints
against them for exorbitant charges.

The Six Nations had become jealous and uneasy at the
proceedings of the Engli.'^h as early as 1748, in which year
the celebrated Ohio Land Company was chartered, and
half a million acres granted it on the Ohio River. Other
companies were chartered in 1750-51, and extensive tracts
granted them in Northwestern Pennsylvania and Western
Virginia. All these regions were claimed by the Six Na-
tions, and they justly looked upon these great monopolies
in the light of trespassers upon their ancient domain.
These jealousies were so deep-seated that the Six Nations
refused to send their warriors to assist Braddock ; and it is
well known that he fought the terrible battle of Monon-
gahela, July 9, 1755, without the aid of any considerable
number of Indians, and these few did not belong to the

They also complained of the land-grants which had been
made within the limits of the Oneida territory, as early as
1705 and 17o4, without consulting th6 Indians.

At the breaking out of the French war the population
of Albany County, which then included all the country to
the west of Albany, was said to have been 17,424, and of
the whole colony of New York, 96,705 ; the latter 20,000
less than the present population of Oneida County. It is
stated in the "Documentary History," vol. vii. page 101,
that on the 21st of April, 1756, Sir William Johnson sent
Captain Marcus Fetry to build a fort at the " Oneida Car-
rying-Place ;"! and under same date Jacob Vroman was
sent to build one at Onondaga.

t This fort was located at O-na-uar-n-rjha-fa, near Oneida Castle,
lie was directed by Sir William to erect a work of logs 120 feel
square, and, in addition, to build two block-bouses, each 24 feet




The first hostile demonstration of the French in the
country of the Iroquois, in the war of 1754-60, was made
in March, 1756, by M. de Lury, at the head of a force of
3G2 men, according to his I'eport, of whom 259 were French
and Canadians, and the remainder (103) Indians.

A translation of De Lery's report, taken from the Docu-
mentary History of the State, is herewith given. No con-
temporaneous English account would seem to be accessible,
and no doubt for the very good reason that the garrison,
including their officers, were nearly all put to the sword.

Due allowance is to be made for exaggerated statements
relating to the geography of the country, distances, etc.

Fort Bull was probably never repaired after its destruc-
tion by De Lery, but it has been much better treated than
Fort Stanwix, for remains of it are still to be seen.


"On the 27th of March, 1756, at four o'clock in the
morning, the detachments commanded by M. de Lery,
lieutenant of the colonial troops, commenced their march,
very much weakened by the fatigue they experienced
during fifteen days since they left Montreal, for they were
two days entirely out of provisions.^

" At half past five they arrived at the head of the carrying-
place, and the scouts in advance brought in two Englishmen,
who were coming from the fort nearest to C/iouar/neii
(Oswego), whom M. de Lery informed that he should have
their brains knocked out by the Indians if he perceived
that they endeavored to conceal the truth, and if they com-
municated it to him he should use all his efforts to extricate
them from their [the Indians'] hands.

" These prisoners stated that the fort this side of Ghoua-
ffuen was called Bull, having a garrison of sixty soldiers,
commanded by a lieutenant; that there was in this fort a
considerable quantity of munitions of war and provisions ;
that the fort was constructed of heavy pickets, fifteen to
eighteen feet above ground, doubled inside to a man's
height, and was nearly of the shape of a star ; that it had
no cannon, but a number of grenadoes which Colonel
Johnson had sent, on intelligence being communicated to
him, by the Indians, of our march ; that the commandant
of this fort was called Bull ; that fifteen bateaux were to
leave in the evening for Clionngucn ; that at the moment
sleighs were arriving with nine bateau-loads; that the fort
on the Corlear side, at the head of the carrying-place, was
of much larger pickets, and well planked, having four pieces
of cannon and a garrison of 150 men, commanded by
Captain Williams, whose name the fort bore ; that they
did not know if there were any provisions in the fort, not
having been in it.§

^' This fort is referred to \u a report of a committee appointed to
e.xplore the western waters in tlie State of New Yorlv. [Albany,
Barber & Suuthwick, 1792,] It is laid down in Sauthier's map as
Fort Unte. Its situation was about two miles west of Rome (two
and a half miles according to Jones).

f Paris Doc, xii.

I De Lerj's detachment left Montreal on the ITth of March, on the
ice, and came ri<( La Presentation, — now Ogdensburg, — thence over
the hills and up Black River.

§ The necessity of fortifying this pass was pointed out for the first

" At ten o'clock the savages captured ten men, who were
conducting the sleighs loaded with provisions. These con-
firmed what the prisoners had stated, and added that 100
men arrived at eight o'clock on the preceding evening, who
were said to be followed by a large force.

"Monsieur de Lery, whilst occupying himself in distrib-
uting among his detachment the provisions found in the
sleighs, was informed that a negro who accompanied the loads
had escaped, taking the road to Fort Williams ; whereupon,
not doubting but they would have information of him at
that fort, he acquainted M. de Montigny, his second, of his
determination to attack Fort Bull, the prisoners having
assured him that tlie greater part of the provisions and
stores Were there. Each officer received immediate orders
to form his brigade, and M. de Lery told the savages that
he was about to attack the Bull, but they represented to
him that now they had provisions to carry the detachment
to La Presentation — English meat that the Master of Life
had bestowed on them, without costing a man — to risk
another affair would be to go contrary to His will ; if he
desired absolutely to perish he was master of his French-
men. The commander replied that he did not wish to ex-
pose them, and asked them only for two Indians to guide
his expedition, which they with difficulty granted. Some
twenty determined afterwards to follow him, being encour-
aged by some drams of brandy. The Algonqnins, Nepis-
sings, and those Iroquois who were unwilling to follow him,
accepted the proposition made by M. de Lery to guard the
road and the twelve prisoners. They assured the com-
mander that he might make the attack ; they would take
possession of the road and watch the movements of the
Englii^h at Fort Williams.||

"The detachments having commenced their march along
the high road, the soldiers having their bayonets fixed, M.
de Lery gave orders, when within fifteen acres of the fort,
to move straight forward without firing a shot, and seize
the guard on entering the fort. He was still five acres off
when he heard the whoop of the savages, notwithstanding
the prohibition he had issued. He instantly ordered an
advance, double-quick, in order to carry the gate of the
fort, but the enemy had time to close it. Six Indians
only followed the French ; the others pursued six English-
men, who, unable to reach the fort, threw themselves into
the bush.

" M. de Lery set some men to cut down the gate, and
caused the commandant to be summoned to surrender,
promising quarter to him and all his garrison ; to which he
only answered by a fire of musketry, and by throwing a
quantity of grenades. Our soldiers and Canadians, who
ran full speed the moment the Indians whooped, got pos-
session of the port-holes ; through these they fired on such

time in October, 1730, by a number of Indian traders, who petitioned
the Assembly to erect a fort at "the oarrying-pUioo at the upper end
of the Mohawk River." When Fort Williams was ereeteil has not
been ascertained. There was a Fort WiUiain in the Mohawk country
as early as 1745-46, but whether it be identical with this Fort Wil-
litniis is undolormined. The latter stood until 17515, when it was de-
stroyed by General Webb, on his famous flight from Wood Creek,
immediately after the fall of Oswego. It was succeeded in 175S by
Fort Stanwi.'C, and finally by the present city of Rome.
II This fort was on the site of Home City.



of the English as they could get a sight of. Great efforts
were made to batter down the gate, which was finally cut
in pieces in about an hour. The whole detachment, with
the cry of ' Vive le Rni." rushed into the fort, and put every
one to the sword they could lay hands on. One woman
and a few soldiers only were fortunate enough to escape
the fury of our troops. Some pretend that only one pris-
oner was made during this action.*

"The commandant and officers repaired to the stores, and
caused their men to use diligence in throwing the barrels
of powder into the river; but one of the m.igazines having
caught fire, and M. de Lery considering that he could not
extinguish it without incurring the risk of having the
people blown up who should be employed, gave orders to
retire as quick as possible. There was hardly time to do
this when the fire communicated to the powder, which
blew up at three points.

" The explosion was so violent that a soldier of Guienne
and an Iroquois of the Sault were wounded by the debris
of the fort, though they were already at a distance. The
Indian, especially, is in danger of losing his life by the

"A detachment was, however, sent to look after the bag-
gage that remained on the road, and shortly after an Indian
came to notify M. de Lery that the English were making
a sortie. This caused him to rally his forcas, and placing
himself on the bank of the creek, he had the bombs, gre-
nades, bullets, and all the ammunition that could be found
thrown into the water. He hud the fifteen bateaux staved
in, and then set out to meet the sortie of which he had
been informed. But he learned on the road that the In-
dians had repulsed it after having killed seventeen men.
This sortie was from Fort Williams, on the intelligence
carried thither by the negro. The Indians who, unwilling
to attack Fort Bull, took charge of the road acquitted
themselves so well that the detachment quickly retreated
with the loss of seventeen men. The Indians, coming some
hours after to congratulate M. de Lery on his fortunate
success, failed not to make the most of their advantage.

''A chief asked him if he proposed attacking the other
fort, which was nothing more than braggadocio on his
part. M. de Lery replied he would pi-oceed forthwith if
the Indians would follow him. This reply drove the chief
away, and his party prepared to follow him. Our troops
did the same, and encamped in the woods three-quarters of
a league from the fort. The Fort Bull prisoners were ex-
amined, and we learned that Col. Johnson, having been
informed of our march, had sent notice to all the posts, re-
garding it, however, as impossible, on account of the rigor
of the season. Fort Bull is situated near a small creek,
that falls into that of Ckonagaen. about four miles from
the fort. Fort Williams is near the river Mohawk, which
falls into that of Corler.f

"The carrying-place, from one fort to the other, is about
four miles long, over a pretty level country, though swampy
in some places."

■"^ One Robert Eastburn, who was taken prisoner iind carried to Os-
wegatohie, says, "Except five persons, they put every soal they
found to the sword."

t The Hudson River.

This expedition, according to M. de Lery's particular
enumeration, consisted of 15 officers, 2 cadets, 7t> regular
soldiers, 166 Canadians, and 103 Indians, — the latter being
a gathering from the Oswegatchie, the Lake of the Two
Mountains, the Sault St. Louis, St. Bigin, Abcnakis, Al-
ffoiiqniiis, and Nipissiiigs ; the whole amounting to 362
whites and Indians, of whom 265 attacked the fort. The
French and Indian was five men wounded, and one
soldier and one Indian killed.

The French commander estimated that more than 40,000
pounds of powder were burned or thrown into the creek,
with a number of bombs, grenades, and balls of various
calibres. A large amount of clothing and provisions was
also destroyed or carried away. The loss of the English is
stated at 90 men, of whom 30 were prisoners. About 30
horses were also killed or captured.

The command retreated by rapid marches, and reached
Lake Ontario in seven days, were they were met by a con.
voy of provisions in bateaux, and thence proceeded down
the lake and St. Lawrence River to Montreal. A portion
of their prisoners were left at Oswegatchie, or La Presen-
tation, now Ogdensburg.J

The French account is substantially corroborated by the
newspapers of the colonies published at the time. It was
no doubt a barbarous massacre. A secret agent of the
French, who passed down the Mohawk in 1757, in speak-
ing of Fort Bull, says, " It was situated on the right bank of
this river" (meaning Wood Creek), " near its source, at the
height of land. From Fort Bull to Fort Williams is esti-
mated to be one league and a quarter (French measure).
This is the carrying-place across the height of land. The
English had constructed a road there, over which all the
carriages passed. They were obliged to bridge a portion of
it, extending from Fort Bull to a small stream, near which
a fort had been begun, though not finished. It was to be
intermediate between the two forts, having been located pre-
cisely on the summit level. Fort Williams was situated on
the right bank of the river Mohawk or Des Agnies, near the
rise of that river, on the height of land. It was abandoned
and destroyed by the English after the capture of Chou-

It would appear that the Six Nations were in some doubt
as to their standing with the belligerents in this war, for at
a " peace talk," held at the residence of Sir William John-
son, in May, 1756, Caii-agh-qui-es-on , a chief sachem of the
Oiieidiis, reported the following : " Brothers ; several sol-
diers from Oswego and the carrying-place have come among
us at Oneida, and among the Tuscnrnras, and tell us that
the great king, our father's son, has arrived at Boston with
a great army, and is coming up to destroy all the Six Nations,
to begin with the Mohawks, and that all the troops from
Oswego and the carrying-place are to surround and assist in
cutting us off."

On the 14th of June, Sir William Johnson was at Oneida,
where he held a council, at which the Oneidus, Tuscaroras,
and Skaa-i-ad-a-ra-digh-rooa-as were represented by Te-
na-soii-da. At this meeting the Oneidus complained of

J: The Atlbc Picquet accompanied this expedition, at the head of 3.3
converted Indians, from his mission aj, La Presentatiqn,
§ Annals of Oneida County,



their treatment at the liaiiJs of Captain Williams, at the
carrying-place. On the 19th, Sir William continued hi.s
journey to Onondaga, where a great "condolence ceremony"
was performed for the death of the Onondaga sachem,
Cagh-ho-wat-i-vo-ny, or " red head." The ceremony, which
took place at the Onondaga Castle, was conducted by Abra-
ham, chief of the Moluiwk sachems, and Te-sa-nmi-da and cs-un, chiefs of the Onealas. Abraham was
a brother of Hendiick, the great Muliawk sachem, killed at
Lake George in 1755.

On the 4th of July, Sir William encamped at Oneida on
his return, and on the next day he was waited on by all the
Oneida sachems, who made many complaints against Captain
Williams. It would seem that these complaints were duly
considered, for shortly after Captain Williams was removed
from liis command and tried by court-martial.*

The first yeare of the French war were very disastrous to
the British arms. Braddock was cut to pieces, Oswego and
Fort William Henry were taken, Abcrcrombie's splendid
army was defeated at Ticonderoga, and the English had but
a " beggarly account" to offer as an offset.

In June, 175G, Colonel John Bradstreet passed up the Mo-
hawk Valley with a fleet of bateaux, carrying thirty-two guns
for the armament of the fort at Oswego, besides an immense
amount of munitions of war and supplies. He also took
along a reinforcement of 200 men for the garrison. Philip
Schuyler, then a captain of militia, accompanied Brad-
street on this journey, as his principal assistant. The ex-
pedition reached Oswego in safety on the 1 st of July. On
the Hd, Bradstreet set out on his return, with his empty
bateaux guarded only by the bateaux-men.

About ten miles above Oswego the command was sud-
denly attacked by 51. de Villiers, who had laid an ambus-
cade for the purpose of surprising him. A very sharp
conflict ensued on the banks of the river and an island in
the stream. But Bradstreet and the chivalrous Schuyler
were more than a match for their subtle enemies, and, after
several desperate conflicts, succeeded in beating them off' at
all points. This force under M. de Villiers had come on
in advance of Montcalm's army, from Henderson Bay, or
Salmon River, for the purpose of waylaying any reinforce-
ments for Oswego. After hi.s repulse, De Villiers fell back
upon his base of operations, and awaited the arrival of the
main army, under Montcalm.

Bradstreet hastened back to Albany, where he found
General Abercrombie lately arrived from England. He
waited on the general, and laid before him the situation of
Oswego, at the same time urging its reinforcement. Sir
William Johnson also strongly seconded Bradstreet, and
stated that if Oswego were taken it would be hard to hold
the Six Nations in the English interest. But Abercrombie
encamped his forces at Albany, and began fortifying.

The commander-in-chief, the Earl of Loudon, arrived in
August, and assumed command. But he, too, was for a
long time deaf to their entreaties to send the necessary re-

*■ Captain William Williams belonged to Sir William Peppcrell's
regiment, and was a native of Massachusetts. lie probably con-
structed the fort named in his honor, about 1755. His regiment was
disbanded Dec. 25, 176fi, and he was retired on half-pay. He died
about 1V87. (Doc. Hist., vii. 151.)

inforcements. At length, however, he was persuaded to
send forward Colonel Webb with a brigade for the purpose.
Colonel Mercer held Oswego with a force estimated at 1500
men, consisting of Shirley's and Peppcrell's regiments, com-
manded raspectively by himself and Lieutenant-Colonel
Littlehales, a small regiment of New Jersey militia, under
Colonel Schuyler, a relative of Philip Schuyler, two or three
independent companies, and several hundred carpenters and

On the 11th of August, Montcalm appeared before the
place, and at once proceeded with his asual alacrity to invest
it. His whole force was less than 3000, yet he had that
audacity which in itself is worth a host, and proceeded, as if
there was no doubt of success, to erect his batteries. Mean-
while, Colonel Webb, who, as we have seen, had been ordered

Online LibrarySamuel W DurantHistory of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 12 of 192)