Samuel W Durant.

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

. (page 32 of 192)
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 32 of 192)
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ing country may be crowned with honor and success, which will
always be the earnest prayer of, gentlemen, your most obliged,
humble servant."

Upon receipt of the commission in the regular army,
Colonel Gansevoort, who was uncertain as to his rank, pay,



and emoluments, addressed a letter to Messrs. William Duer
and Gouverneur Morris, from which we make the following
extract :

" Congress have clone me the honor of Appointing me colonel oom-
manilant of Fort Schuyler. I should esteem it ns a favor if you
would inform me whether I am to receive any pay for that commis-
sion, other than as colonel of the Third Regiment of New Yorkers j
and if not, I should be ghid if you would endeavor to get something
allowed me, as my present pay will not reimburse my table liquors,
which you msty well eoncei\ e to be something as com-
manding oflReer. I am not solicitous to make money by my commis-
sion : hut I could wish not to sink by it, as I am obliged to do now.
The commission which Congress has sent mc ae cnniuKtnduiH of Fart
Schni/lcr, subjects me as much to the commands of my superior officers
as any former one. If that was Ihe intention of Congress, the appoint-
ment is nugatory. If not, I wish Congress to alter the commission,"

In the following October, when Sir Henry Clinton was
forcing his way up the Hudson with the view of co-operat-
ing with General Burgoyne, or of succoring him in case of
need, Colonel G-ansevoort was ordered to Albany by General
Gates to take command of the large force then assembling
there. But the return of Sir Henry to New York left no
occasion to testi his gallantry or ability in a new command.
That he would have maintained his brilliant reputation and
gained fresh laurels, had the opportunity been given, there
is no room to doubt.

The following correspondence illustrates the good feeling
which existed throughout the country when the result of
the affairs at Oriskany, Fort Stanwix, and Bennington be-
came known :


" KiNfJSToy, August 2G, 1777.
" Pin, — I have the honor of transmitting to you the lelters of Gen-
era) Schuyler and Governor Clinton, giving us the agreeable intelli-
gence of the raising of the sirge of Fort Schuyler. The gallantry
of the commander of thiit fort, and the distinguished bravery of Gen-
eral Herkimer and his militia, have already been productive of the
most desinible consequences. The brave and more fortunate General
Stark with his spirited countrymen hath, as you know, given the
enemy a signal conj) at Bennington. The joint result of ihese provi-
dential instances of success hath revived the drooping hopes of the
desponding, and given new vigor to the firm and determined. We
have, therefore, the jileasing expectation of compelling General Bur-
goyne in his turn to retire.

" I have the honor to be, &c.,

" PiERiiE Van Cortlaxdt."


The following interesting documents are from various
sources: "Oriskany Centennial Volume,'' "Documentary
History," "Annals of Tryon County," '• Willett's Narra-
tive," Sir John Johnson's orderly-book, captured by Colo-
nel Willett at Fort Stanwix, etc., etc. While not absolutely
necessary to make a readable history, they form a valuable
collection pertaining to the most interesting period of our
national existence ; and covering, as they do, the stand-
points of various actors in the grand drama, will not fail to
be read with interest.

We will begin with Colonel St. Leger's own account of
his expedition against Fort Stanwix, which is from the Ap-
pendix to General Burgoyne's " State of the Expedition,''
published in London, 1780 :

"A minute detail of every operation since my leaving La Chine
with the detachment entrusted to my care, your excellency will per-
mit me to reserve to a time of less hurry and mortification than the
present; while I enter into the interesting scene before Fort Stanwix,

which I invested the third of August, having previously pushed
forward Lieutennnt Bird of the King's regiment, with 30 of the
King's troops and 200 Indians, under the direction of Captains
Hare and Wilson, and the Chiefs Joseph* jmd Bull, to seize fast
hold of the lower landing-place, and thereby cut off the enemy's
communicatious with the lower country. This was done with great
address by the lieutenant, though not attended with the effect I had
promised myself, occasioned by the slackneFS of the MegHaangrtea.
The brigade of provisions and ammunition boats I had intelligence
of, being arrived and disembarked before this party had taken post.
" The fourth and fifrh were employed in making arrangements for
opening Wood Creek (which the enemy, wiih indefatigalile labor of
150 men, for fourteen days, had most effectually choked up), and the
making a temporary road from Pine Ridges, upon Fish Creek, six-
teen miles from the fort, for a present supply of provision and the
transport of our artillery; the first was effected by the diligence and
zeal of Captain Bouvillc, assisted by Captain Harkimerjf of the In-
dian department, with 110 men in nine days j while Lieutenant
Lundy, acting as assistant quartermaster-general, had rendered the
road in the worst of weather suflicientl}' practicable to pass the whole
artillery and stores, with seven days' provisions, in two days.

" On the 5th, in the evening, inlelligence arrived by my discovering
parties on the Mohawk River that a reinforcement of 800 militia,
conducted by General Herkimer, were on iheir march to relieve
the garrison, and were actually at that instant at Oiiska, an Indian
settlement twelve miles from the fort. The garrison being apprised
of their march by four men, who were seen to enter rhe fort in the
morning, through what was thought an impenetrable swamp, I did
not think it prudent to wait for them, and thereby subject myself
to be attacked by a sally from the garrison in the rear, while the re-
inforcement employed me in front. I therefore determined to attack
them on the march, either openly or covertly, as circumstances should
offer. At this time I had not two hundred and fifty of the King's
troops in camp, the various and extensive operations I was under an
absolute necessity of entering into having employed the rest, and
therefore could not send above eighty white men, — rangers and troops
included, — with the whole corps of Indians. Sir John Johnson put
himself at the head of this party, and began his march that evening
at five o'clock, and met the rebel corps at the same hour the next
morning. The impetuosity of the Indiana is not to be described ; on
the sight of the enemy (forgetting the judicious disposition formed
by Sir John, an^d agreed to by themselves, "which was to suffer the
attack to begin with the troops in front, while they should be on both
flanks and rear), they rushed in, hatchet in hand, and thereby gave
the enemy's rear an opportunity to escape. In relation to the vic-
tory, it was equally complete as if the whole had fallen ; nay, more
so, as the two hundred who escaped only served to spread the panic
wider; but it was not so with the Indians; their loss was great (I
must be understood Indian computation, being only about thirty killed
and the like number wounded, and in that number some of their
favorite chiefs and confidential warriors were slain). On the enemy's
side almost all their principal leaders were slain. General Herkimer
has since died of his wounds. It is proper to mention that the four
men detached with intelligence of the march of the reinforcements,
set out the evening before the action, and consequently the enemy
could have no account of the defeat, and were in possession only of
the time of their arrival, at which, as I suspected, they made a sally
wiih two hundred and fifty men toward Lieutenant Bird's post, to
facilitate the entrance of the relieving corps, or bring on a general
engagement, with every advantage they could wish.

" Captain Hoyes was immediately detached to cut in upon their
rear, while they engaged the lieutenant. Immediately upon the de-
parture of Captain Hoyes, having learned that Lieutenant Baird,
misled by the information of a cowardly Indian that Sir John was
pressed, t had quitted his post to march to his assistance, I marched
the detachment of the king's regiment, in support of Captain Hoyes,
by a road in sight of the garrison, which, with executive fire from
his party, immediately drove the enemy into the fort, without any
further advantage than frightening some squaws, and pilfering the
packs of the warriors which they left behind them. After this affair

* Brant.

f Supposed to have been a brother of General Nicholas Herkimer.
± This may have reference either to the battle of Oriskany or the
sortie of Colonel AVillett.



was over, orders were immediately given to complete a ^wo-gun
battery and mortar-beds^ with three strong redoubts in their rpar, to
enable me, in case of another attempt to relieve the garrison by their
regimental troops, to march out a larger body of the king's troops.

" Ca|)tain Lernoiilt was sent with 110 men to the lower landing-
place, where he established himself with great judgment and strength,
having an enclosed battery of a three-pounder opposed to any sally
from the fort, and another to the side of the country, where a relief
must approach, and the body of his camp deeply intrenched and

" When, by the unabating labor of officers and men (the smalluess
of our numbers never admitting of a relief, or above three hours'
cessation for sleep or cookingj, the batteries nnd redoubts were
finished, and new cheeks and axle trees made for the six-pounders,
those that were sent being rotton and unserviceable, it was found
that our cannon had not the least effect upon the sod-work of the
fort, and that our royals had only the power of teasing, as a six-
inch plank was a sufficient security for their powder-magaxine, as
wc learnt from the deserters. At this time Lieutenant Ulenie, of the
artillery, whom I appointed to act as assistant engineer, proposed a
conversion of the royals (if I may use the expression) inio howitzers.
The ingenuity and feasibility of tliis measure striking me very
strongly, the business was set about immediate!}', and soon executed,
when it was found that nothing prevented their operating with the
desired effect but the distance, their chambers being too small to hold
a sufficiency of powder. There was nothing now to be done but to
approach the work, by sap, to such a distance that the ramparts
might be brought within their practice, at the same time all materials
were prejiaring to run a mine under their most formidable bastion.

" In the midst of these operations intelligence was brought in by
our scouts of a second corps of 1 000 men being on their inarch. The
siuue zeal no longer animated the Indians. They complained of our
thinness of troops and their former losses. I iiumediately called a
council of the chiefs, encouraged them as much as I could, promised
to lead them on myself, and bring into the field 300 of the best troops.
They listontd to this, and promised to follow me, aud agreed that I
should reconnoitre the ground properest for the field of battle the
next morning, accompanied by some of their. chief warriors, to settle
the plan of operations. When upon the ground appointed for the
field of battle, scouts came in with the account of the first jjumber
swelled to 2000. Immediately after a third, that General Burgo3'ne's
army was cut to pieces, and that Arnold was advancing, by rapid
and forced marches, with 3000 men. It was at this moment I began
to suspect cowardice in some and treason in others. However, I
returned to camp not without hojies, wtih the assistance of my gal-
lant coadjutor, Sir John Johnson, and the influence of the superin-
tending Colonels, Glaus and Butler, of inducing them to meet the
enemy. A council, according to their custom, was called, to know
their resolutions, before the breaking up of which I learned that 200
were already decamped. In about an hour they insisted that I
should retreat, or they would be obliged to abandon me. I had no
other part to take, and a hard part it was to troops who could do
nothing without them, to yield to their resolves, and therefore pro-
posed to retire at night, sending on before my sick, wounded, artil-
lery, etc., down the Wood Greek, covering them by our line of march.
"This did not fall in with their views, which were no less than
treacherously committing ravage upon their friends, as they had lost
the opportunity of doing it upon their enemies. To effect this they art-
fully caused messengers to come in, one after the other, with accounts
of the near approaches of the rebels; one and the last affirmed
that they were within two miles of Captain Lernoult'spoat. Not giving
entire credit to this, and keeping to my resolution of retiring by
night, they grew furioi^s and abandoned, seized upon the officers'
liquors and cloaths in spite of the efforts of their servants, aud became
more formidable than the enemy we had to expect. I now thought
it time to call in Captain Lernoult's post, retiring with the troops in
camp to the ruined fort called William,*' in the front of the garrison,
not only to wait the enemy if they thought proper to sally, but to
protect the boats from the fury of the savages, having sent forward
Captain Hoyes, with his detachment, with one piece of cannon, to
the place where Bull Fort stood, to receive the troops, who waited

* St. Leger here evidently refers to the work called Fort Newport,
situated on Fish Creek, as he had no boats in the Mohawk, and Fort
Williams was upon the latter stream. See map.

the arrival of Captain Lernoult. Most of the boats were escorted
that night beyond Canada Creek, where no danger was to be appre-
hended from the enemy. The creek at this place, bending from the
road, has a deep cedar swamp between. Every attention was now
turned to the mouth of the creek, which the enemy might have pos-
sessed themselves of by a rapid march by the Oneyda Castle. At
this place the whole of the little army arrived by twelve o'clock at
night, aud took post in such manner as to have no fears'of anything
the enemy could do. Here we remained until three o'clock next
morning, when the boats ^vhich could come up the creek arrived, or
rather that the rascally part of all nations of the Indians would
suffer to come up j and proceeded across Lake Oneyda to the ruined
fort Brewcrton, where I learnt that some boats were still laboring
down the creek, after being lightened of the best part of their freight
by the Masstiaar/oes. Captain Lernoult proposed, with a boatful of
armed men, to repass the lake that night to relieve them from their
labor, and supply them with provision. This transaction does as
much honor to the humanity as the gallantry of this valuable officer.

" On my arrival at the Onondago Falls, I received an answer to my
letter from Your Excellency, which showed, in the clearest light, the
scenes of treachery that had been practiced upon me. The mes-
senger had heard, indeed, on his way that they were collecting the
same kind of rabble as before, but that there was not an enemy
within furty miles of Fort Stanwix.

*' Soon after my arrival here I was joined by Captain Lernoult,
with the men and boats he had been in search of. I mean immediately
to send off, for the use of the upper garrison, all the overplus pro-
visions I shall have, after keeping a sufficiency to carry my detach-
ment down, which 1 mean to do with every expedition in nij' power
the moment this business is effected, for which jiurpose I have
ordered here the scow. The sloop is a.lready gone from this witli
her full lading.

" Officers from each corps are sent to Montreal to procure necessa-
ries for the men, who are in the most deplorable situation from the
plunder of the savages, that no time may be lost to join your army.

" I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, sir, Your Excel-
lency's most obedient and most faithful servant,

"Barry St. Leger.

"Oswego, August 27, 1777.

"His Excellency Okkkral Buugovxe.''

The following letter from Colonel Daniel Glaus, written
at Montreal, Oct. 16, 1777, to Secretary Knox in London,
gives another view of the canjpaign, and, though not so
strictly military nor so scholarly as St. Leger's report, is
valuable as a contemporaneous document. It may be found
in the eighth volume of the " Documentary History of
New York":

"Sir, — I take the liberty to give you such an account of the expe-
dition I was appointed to this campaign as my capacity will permit
me, and which, though tedious, I used all the conciseness in my power.

"On my arrival at Quebec, the first of June, Sir Guy Carleton
being at Montreal, my letter from Lord George Gcrmaine was foi -
warded to him by Lieutenant-Governor Cramahe that day, and my-
self arrived there n few days after. I waited upon Sir Guy, who
acknowledged the receipt of the letter, but said nothing further upon
it, than addressing himself to Captain Tice, who was in England
with Joseph (Brant), and there at Levyf that I bad now the com-
mand of him and those Indian officers nnd Indians that were des-
tined for Brigadier St. Leger's expedition. A day or two after I
waited on him again for his orders aud instructions, and asked what
rank I was to have on the expedition. He replied on the latter that
it could not be settled here. . . .

" Some time before our march I informed myself of Sir Guy Carle-
ton, of the state Fort Stanwix was in. He told me that liy the latest
accounts from Colonel Butler there were sixty men in a picketed
place. Determined to bo sure, I dispatched one John Hare, an
active Indian officer, with the Mohmck chief, John Odiscruney, to
collect a small party of Indians at Swegachy,J and reconnoitre Fort
Stanwix as well as possible, and bnug off some prisoners if they could.

t The old French Fort Levis, on Oraconenton Island.
X Ogdensburgh.



" On the 23d of Juno I set out from La Chine, near Montreal, —
the Brigadier,' who was getting the artillery-boats ready to take in
two sixes, two threes, and four cohoms (I)6ing our artillery for the
espediti6n)t was to follow the day after,— and proceeded for an
inland destined for our rendezvous, in the entrance of Lake Ontario,
called Buck Island, in company with Sir John Johnson and his regi-
ment. In my way thither I collected a body of 150 Miiaafjpy and
Six Nation Indians. All the Indinns of the inhabited parts of Canada,
whom I had under my care for fifteen years, and was best ncquainted
with, were destined for General Burgoyne's army. The MtHinaijey
and Six Nations the Brigadier intended should accompany him in an
alert to Fort Stanwix, by a short cut through the woods from a place
called Salmon Creek, on Lake Ontario, about twenty miles from Os-
wego, in order to'surprise the garrison and take it with small arms.

" Between sixty and seventy leag'ucs from Montreal my recon-
noitering party returned and met me, with five prisoners (one lieu-
tenant) and four scalps, having defeated a working party of sixteen
rebels as they were cutting sod towards repairing and finishing the old
fort, which is a regular square, and garrlsonedby upwards of 600 men,
the repairs far advanced, and the rebels expecting us, and were ac-
quainted with our strength and route. I immediately forwarded the
prisoners to the Brigadier, who was about fifteen leagues in our rear.
On his arrival within a few leagues of Buck Island he sent for me,
and, ttilking over the intelligence which the rebel prisoners gave, he
owned tliat if they intended to defend themselves in that fort out
artillery was not sufficient to take it. However, he said he had de-
termined to get the truth of those follows. I told him thtit, having
examined them separately, they agreed in their story. And here the
Brigadier had still an opportunity and time for sending for a better
train of artillery and wait for the junction of the Chasseurp, which
must have secured us success, aa every one will allow. However, he
was still full of his alevt,^ making Tittle of the prisoners' intelligence.

" On his arrival at Buck Island the 8th of July, he put me in orders
as superintendent of the expedition, and empowered me t& act for
the best of my judgment for His Majesty's service, in the manage-
ment of the Indians on the expedition, as well as what regarded their
equipincnt, presents, etc., he being an entire stranger thereto. There
was then a vessel at the island which had soine Indian goods on
board, which Colonel Butler had procured for the expedition, but,
upon examination, I found that almost every one of the above articles
I demanded at Montreal were deficient, and a mere impossibility to
procure them at Buck Island, had I not luckily provided some of
those articles before I left Montreal at my own risk, and with diffi-
culty Brigadier St. Leger found out thirty stand of arms in the artil-
lery stores at Swegaeby, and I added all my eloquence to satisfy the
Indians ahout the rest.f

" The Brigadier set out from the island upon his altH the 19th of
July, I having been ordered to proceed to Oswego with Sir John
Johnson's regiment and a company of Chasseurs lafely aixived, there
to convene and prepare the Indians' to join the Brigadier at Fort
Stanwix. On my arrival at Oswego, 23d July, I found Joseph Brant
there, whd acquainted me that his party, consisting -of ab6ut 300
Indians, would be in that day, and having been more than two months
updn service, and were destitute of necessaries, ammunitiort, and
some arms. Joseph at the same time complained Of having been
very scantily supplied by Colonel Butler with ammunitioti when sit
Niagara in the spring, although he acquainted Colonel Butler of bis
being threatened with a visit from the rebel General Herkimer, of
Tryon County, and actually was afterwards visited by him, with 300
men with him, and 500 at some distance, when Joseph had not 2O0
Indians together j but resolutely declaring to the rebel general that
he was determined to act against them tov the kiiig, he obliged them
to fetreat with mere menaces, not having twenty pounds of powder
among his party. . • ,

"The 24th of July I received an express from Brigadier St. Leger,
at Salmon Creek, ahout twenty miles from Oswego, to repair thither
with what arms and vermilion I had, and that he'wished I would
come prepared for a march through the woods; As t6 arms and
vermilion I had none, but prepared myself to go upon the march,
and was ready to set off, when Joseph came into my tent and told
me that as no person was -on the spot to takecareof the number of

* The colonel is dispoised to be sarcastic upon St. Leger.
t Whatever else may be said against Colonel ClauS, it is evident
he was not afraid to murder the King's English.

Indians with him, he apprehended in case I should teave them they
would become disgusted, and disperse, which might prevent the reft
of the Six Nations to assemble, and be hurtful to the expedition, arid
begged I wonld first represent these circuoistaiiees to the Brigadier
by letter. Brigadier St. Leger mentioned, incJeed, my gi)ing Was
chiefly intended to quiet the Indians witfr him, who were very drunk
and ribtous, and Captain Tice, who was the mfessenger, informed me
that the Brigadier ordered the Indians a <^uart 6f ruiii apiece, wbich
made them all beastly drunk, and in which ease it is not in the power
of man to quiet them. Accordingly, I mentioned t6 the Brigadier,
by letter, the conscqiienees thiit might affect his Majesty's Indiiin
interests in case I was to leave so large' a numhei* of rndiarig' that
were come already and still expected. Itpon which representation,
and finding the Indiahs disapproved of the plan, and were nhwilling
to proceed, the Brigadier came away from Salmon Creek, nnd arrived
the next day at Oswego with the corhpanTee of the Sth and 34th
Regiments, and ahout 250 Indians.

" Having equipped Joseph's party With what necessitries and am-
munition I had, I appointed the rest of the Six Nations to assemble
at the Three Rivers,^ a convenient place of rendezvous, and in the
way to Fort Stanwix, and desired Colonel Butler to follow me with
the Indians he brought with hini' frOta Nialgara, and equip them all
at Three Uivers.

"The'2fifh of July, left OsWego, and 2d of'Augiist' arrived
with the Brigadier and the greatest fiart of the trbnps before Fort

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 32 of 192)