From Soldiers’ Journals
First impressions of the region
and Chemung County

Compiled by Diane L. Janowski

The following excerpts from New York Secretary of State Frederick Cook’s book Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan against the six nations of Indians in 1779 published in Auburn, New York in 1887, not only speak of the conditions of war, but also provide the first noted written words of our area two hundred and twenty-five years ago. Note: in many instances in this article today’s Chemung River was known as the Cayuga River or the Tioga Branch of the Susquehanna.


Lieutenant Colonel Adam Hubley, born around 1745 in Philadelphia, commanded the Eleventh Pennsylvania Regiment during the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign. From his journal:

Wyoming, July 30th, 1779. - Wyoming is situated on the east side of the east branch of the Susquehanna, the town consisting of about seventy houses, chiefly log buildings; besides these buildings there are sundry larger ones which were erected by the army for the purpose of receiving stores, &c., a large bake and smoke houses.

There is likewise a small fort erected in the town, with a strong abatta around it, and a small redoubt to shelter the inhabitants in cases of an alarm. This fort is garrisoned by 100 men, draughted from the western army, and put under the command of Col. Zeb’n Butler. I cannot omit taking notice of the poor inhabitants of the town; two-thirds of them are widows and orphans, who, by the vile hands of the savages, have not only deprived some of the tender husbands, some of indulgent parents, and others of affectionate friends and acquaintances, besides robbed and plundered of all their furniture and clothing. In short, they are left totally dependent on the public, and are become absolute objects of charity.

The situation of this place is elegant and delightful. It composes an extensive valley, bounded both on the east and west side of the river by large chains of mountains. The valley, a mere garden, of an excellent rich soil, abounding with large timber of all kinds, and through the center the east branch of the Susquehanna.

Wyoming, July 31st, 1779. - Agreeable to orders, marched the western army under the command of Major General Sullivan…from this place to Tioga.

Took up the line of march about one o’clock, P.M., viz.: light corps advanced in front of main body about a mile; vanguard, consisting of twenty-four men, under command of a subaltern, and Poor’s brigade, (main body,) followed by pack horses and cattle, after which one complete regiment, taken alternately from Maxwell’s and Poor’s brigade, (composed the rear guard.)

Observed the country to be much broken and mountainous, wood chiefly low, and composed of pine only. I was struck on this day’s march with the ruins of many houses, chiefly built of logs, and uninhabited; though poor, yet happy in their situation, until that horrid engagement, when the British tyrant let loose upon them his emissaries, the savages of the wood, who not only destroyed and laid waste those cottages, but in cool blood massacred and cut off the inhabitants, not even sparing gray locks or helpless infancy.

About 4 o’clock, P.M., arrived at a most beautiful plain, covered with an abundance of grass, soil excessively rich, through which run a delightful stream of water, known by the name of Lackawanna; crossed the same, and encamped about one mile on the northern side of it, advanced about one half mile in front of main body: after night fell in with rain - continued until morning.

Distance of march this day, 10 miles.

Sunday, August 1st. - Continued at Lackawanna waiting for the fleet, which, by reason of considerable rapids, was detained until nearly 12 o’clock this day before the van could possibly cross there. In getting through, lost two boats, chief of their cargoes were saved. About 2 o’clock, P.M., the whole arrived opposite our encampment, in consequence of which received orders for a march, struck tents accordingly, and moved about 2 o’clock, P.M. About one mile from the encampment, entered the narrows on the river, first detachment and left column under the command of Capt. Burk, to koin the right column of light corps, and cross the mountain, which was almost inaccessible, in order to cover the army from falling in an ambuscade. Whilst passing through the defile found passage through exceedingly difficult and troublesome, owing to the badness of the path; we passed by a most beautiful cataract called the Spring Falls. To attempt a description of it would be almost presumption. Let this short account thereof suffice. The first or upper fall thereof is nearly ninety feet perpendicular, pouring from a solid rock, uttering forth a most beautiful echo, and is received by a cleft of rocks considerably more projected than the former, from whence it rolls gradually and empties into the Susquehanna. Light corps passed and got through the defile about 6 o’clock, P.M.; arrived about dusk at a place called Quilutimunk, and encamped one mile in front of the place, occupied that night by the main army.

The main army, on account of the difficult passage, marched nearly all night before they reached their encamping ground. Great quantities of baggage being dropped and left lying that night obliged us to continue on this ground. All the preceding day numbers of our pack horses were sent back and employed in bringing on the scattered stores, &c.; distance of march this day about 7 miles: fine clear evening. Quilutimunk is a spot of ground situate on the river; fine, open and clear; quantity, about 1200 acres; soil very rich, timber fine, grass in abundance, and contains several exceedingly fine springs.

Monday, August 2d. - In consequence of the difficult and tedious march the preceding day, the army received orders to continue on the ground this day, in the meantime to provide themselves with five days provision, and getting every other matter in perfect readiness for a march next morning at 6 o’clock.

Wednesday, 3d. - Agreeable to orders took up the line of march at 6 o’clock, A.M. Took the mountains after we assembled - found them exceedingly level for at least six miles. Land tolerable, the timber, viz., pine and white oak, chiefly large. About three miles from Quilutimunk we crossed near another cataract, which descended the mountain in three successive falls, the least of which is equal if not superior to the one already described. Although it is not quite so high, it is much wider, and likewise empties into the Susquehanna, seemingly white as milk. They are commonly known by the name of Buttermilk Falls. About 12 o’clock we descended the mountains near the river; marched about one mile on flat piece of ground, and arrived at Tunkhannunk, a beautiful stream of water so called, which empties into the Susquehanna; crossed the same, and encamped on the river about 1 o’clock, P.M. Nothing material happened this day excepting a discovery of two Indians by the party on the west side of the river. Indians finding themselves rather near the party were obliged to leave their canoe, and make through the mountains. Party took possession of the canoe, and brought it to their encamping place, for that evening immediately opposite the main army. Distance of march this day, 12 miles.

Wednesday 4th. - The army was in motion 5 o’clock, A.M., and moved up the river for three miles, chiefly on the beach, close under an almost inaccessible mountain. We then ascended the same with the greatest difficulty, and continued on it for near seven miles. A considerable distance from the river the path along the mountain was exceedingly rough, and carried through several very considerable swamps, in which were large morasses. The land in general thin and broken, abounds in wild deer and other game. We then descended the mountain, and at the foot of it crossed a small creek called Massasppi, immediately where it empties into the river. We then continued up the same until we made Vanderlip’s farm, discovered several old Indian encampments; one of them appeared to have been very large.

The land, after crossing Massasppi, was exceedingly fine and rich, the soil very black and well timbered, chiefly with black walnut, which are remarkably large, some not less than six feet over, and excessively high. It is likewise well calculated for making fine and extensive meadows. The main army took post for this night on Vanderlip’s farm, and the infantry advanced about one mile higher up, and encamped about 1 o’clock, P.M., on a place known by the name of Williamson’s farm. Distance of march this day, 14 miles; fine clear day, very hot.

Thursday 5th. - In consequence of orders issued last evening to march this morning at 5 o’clock, we struck tents and loaded baggage. But the boats being considerably impeded by the rapidness of the water some miles below our encampment, could not reach us, and we were obliged to halt all night. Did not join us until 9 o’clock, A.M., all which time we were obliged to halt. We moved for several miles, then arrived in a small valley called Depue’s farm; the land very good. Observed and reconnoitered this ground for some distance, it being the place on which Col. Hartley was attacked by the savages last year, on his return from Tioga to Wyoming. The country being fine and open, some loss was sustained on both sides; the savages at last gave way, and Col. Hartley pursued his route to Wyoming without further molestation. Continued our march … and marched for some miles on the same. Land poor, timber but small, chiefly pine, after which descended the mountain nearly one mile in length, and arrived in a fine and large valley, known by the name of Wyalusing. The main army took post at this place, and the infantry advanced about one mile on front of them, and encamped about 2 o’clock, P.M. Clear but very warm day; distance of march this day, 10 1⁄2 miles.

This valley was formerly called Oldman’s farm, occupied by the Indians and white people; together, they had about sixty houses, a considerable Moravian meeting house, and sundry other public buildings; but since the commencement of the present war the whole has been consumed and laid waste, partly by the savages and partly by our own people. The land is extraordinarily calculated chiefly for meadows. The grass at this time is almost beyond description, high and thick, chiefly blue grass, and the soil of the land very rich. The valley contains about 1200 acres of land, bounded on one side by an almost inacessible mountain, and other by the river Susquehanna.

Friday, Aug. 6th. - The boats not arriving before late this day, the army received orders to continue on the ground. In the meantime to be provided with three days provision, get their arms and accoutrements in perfect order, and be in readiness for a march early to-morrow morning. .. Rain all night.

Saturday 7th. - The heavy rain last night and this morning rendered it utterly impossible to march this day; continued on the ground for further orders. A captain and thirty men from my regiment reconnoitered vicinity of camp; made no discoveries.

Sunday, 8th. - The army moved (in same order as on 5th) this morning at 5 o’clock; crossed Wyalusing creek, and ascended an extensive mountain, the top remarkably level; land poor, and timer small. Arrived about 10 o’clock, A.M., at the north end, and descended the same close on the river side, and continued along the beach for some distance, after which we entered an extensive valley or plain, known by the name of Standing Stone; made a halt here for about half an hour for refreshments. This place derives its name from a large stone standing erect in the river immediately opposite this plain. It is near twenty feet in height, fourteen feet in width, and three feet in depth. This valley abounds in grass, the land exceedingly fine, and produces chiefly white oak, black walnut, and pine timber. After refreshment continued our march along the same valley; land not quite so fine. Arrived about 3 o’clock, P.M., at a small creek called Wesauking; crossed the same, and encamped about one mile beyond it, and immediately on the river. Four o’clock, P.M. - Since our arrival at this place some of my officers discovered a small Indian encampment, seemingly occupied but a few days since; found near the same a neat canoe, which they brought off. This morning the scout, (of three men,) sent up to Sheshequin some days since, returned without making any discoveries. General Sullivan, on account of his indisposition, came on in the boat.

Monday, August 9th. - The boats not being able to reach Wesauking, the ground on which light corps encamped preceding evening. The main body in consequence thereof took post and encamped at Standing Stone, about three miles below the light corps encampment, for protection of the boats...This morning, 9 o’clock, boats hove in sight, in consequence thereof received orders to strike tents, and be in readiness for a march; main army in the meantime arrived about 10 o’clock; the whole was in motion, marched through a difficult swamp; at north of same crossed a small stream, and ascended a hill; lands poor, and wood but indifferent. About 12 o’clock, P.M., descended the same, and entered a small valley; continued about half a mile, when we ascended a very remarkable high mountain, generally known by the name of Break Neck Hill. This mountain derives its name from the great height, of the difficult and narrow passage, not more than one foot wide, and remarkable precipice which is immediately perpendicular, and not less than 180 feet deep. One misstep must inevitably carry you from top to bottom without the least hope or chance of recovery. At north end of same entered a mountainous and beautiful valley called Sheshecununk. General Sullivan, with a number of officers, made a halt here at a most beautiful run of water, took a bite of dinner, and proceeded on along the valley, which very particularly struck my attention. Any quantity of meadow may be made here; abounds with all kinds of wood, particularly white oak, hickory, and black walnut; the ground covered with grass and pea vines; the soil in general very rich. About 4 o’clock, P.M., arrived on the bank of the river; the whole encamped in a line on a most beautiful plain; consists chiefly in meadows, the grass remarkably thick and high. On our arrival here made discoveries of some new Indian tracks, places on which fire had just been, and fresh boughs cut, and appeared as if the place had just been occupied a few hours before our arrival. Distance of march this day, 9 1⁄2 miles.

Tuesday, August 10th.- Set in with rain, and boats not reaching this place before 9 o’clock this morning; army received orders to continue on the ground until further orders. Men drew and cooked two days provisions…

Wednesday, August 11th. - Agreeable to orders the army moved this morning at 8 o’clock, A. M., in the usual order. On the arrival of the main army and boats, Col. Forest drew up his boat at the fording place, and fixed several six pounders on the opposite shore in order to scour the woods and thickets, and prevent any ambuscade from taking place.

Previous to our arrival on the flats we had to pass about one and a half mil through a dark, difficult swamp, which was covered with weeds and considerate underwood, interspersed with large timber, chiefly buttonwood. We then entered the flats near the place on which Queen Esther’s palace stood, and was destroyed by Col. Hartley’s detachment last fall. The grass is remarkably thick and high. We continued along the same for about one mile, and arrived at the entrance of Tioga branch into Susquehanna about 1 o’clock; we, crossed the same, and landed on a peninsula of land which extends towards Chemung, and is bounded on the east by Susquehanna, and on the west by Tioga branch, and continued up the same for about two miles and a half and encamped. This peninsula is composed of excellent meadow and upland: grass is plenty, and timber of all kinds, and soil in general good; distance of march this day, three miles. Since our arrival a scout of eight men was ordered up to reconnoitre Chemung, and endeavour to make discoveries of the number of savages, and their situation, if possible.

Thursday, August 12th. - Tioga Plain. This being a plain calculated to cover the western army during the expedition to the northern part of it, a garrison for that purpose is to remain until our return. Sundry works for the security of the same are now erecting about two and a half miles distant from where Tioga branch empties into the Susquehanna, and where the two rivers are about 190 yards distance from each other; those works to extend from river to river.

Captain Cummings with his scout (sent out last evening) returned this day 11 o’clock, A. M.; made several discoveries at Chemung; an Indian village twelve miles distance from this place; in consequence of which a council of war sat, and determined an expedition should immediately take place for the reduction of the same. The army (two regiments excepted received orders to be in readiness for an immediate march. Eight o’clock, P. M., the whole were in motion, and proceeded for Chemung.

August 13th, 1779. - …The night being excessively dark, and the want of proper guides, impeded our march, besides which we had several considerable defiles to march through, that we could not possibly reach Chemung till after daylight. The morning being foggy favoured our enterprise. Our pilot, on our arrival, from some disagreeable emotions he felt, could not find the town. We discovered a few huts, which we surrounded, but found them vacated; after about one hour’s march we came upon the main town. The following disposition for surprising the same was ordered to take place, viz.: Two regiments, one from the corps, and one from main body, were ordered to cross the river and prevent the enemy from making their escape that way, should they still hold the town. The remainder of the light corps, viz., two independent companies, and my regiment, under command of Hand, were to make the attack on the town. Gen. Poor was immediately to move up and support the light corps. We moved in this order accordingly, but the savages having probably discovered our scouting party the preceding day, defeated our enterprise by evacuating the village previous to our coming, carrying off with them nearly all their furniture and stock, and leaving an empty village only, which fell an easy conquest about 5 o’clock, A. M. The situation of this village was beautiful; it contained fifty or sixty houses, built of logs and frames, and situate on the banks of Tioga branch, and on a most fertile, beautiful, and extensive plain, the lands chiefly calculated for meadows, and the soil rich. The army continued for some small space in the town. Gen. Hand, in the meantime, advanced my light infantry company, under Capt. Bush, about one mile beyond the village, on a path which leads to a small Indian habitation called Newtown. On Capt. Bush’s arrival there he discovered fires burning, an Indian dog, which lay asleep, a number of dear skins, some blankets, &c.; he immediately gave information of his discoveries, in consequence of which the remainder part of the light corps, viz.: the two independent companies, and regiment, under Gen. Hand’s command, were ordered to move some miles up the path, and endeavour, if possible, to make some discoveries. We accordingly proceeded on in the following order, viz.: Captain Walker, with twenty-four men, composed the van, the eleventh regiment, under my command, after which the two independent companies, the whole covered on the left by the Tioga branch, and on the right by Capt. Bush’s infantry company of forty men. In this order we moved somewhat better than a mile beyond this place. The first fires were discovered, when our van was fired upon by a party of savages, who lay concealed on a high hill immediately upon our right, and which Capt. Bush had not yet made. We immediately formed a front with my regiment, pushed up the hill with a degree of intrepidity seldom to be met with, and, under a very severe fire from the savages. Capt. Bush, in the meantime, endeavoured to gain the enemy’s rear. They, seeing the determined resolution of our troops, retreated and, according to custom, previous to our dislodging them, carried off their wounded and dead, by which means they deprived us from coming to the knowledge of their wounded and dead. The ground on the opposite side of the mountain or ridge, on which the action commenced, being composed of swamp or low ground, covered with underwood, &c., favoured their retreat, and prevented our pursuing them, by which means they got off.

After gaining the summit of the hill, and dislodging the enemy, we marched by the right of companies in eight columns, and continued along the same until the arrival of General Sullivan. We then halted for some little time, and then returned to the village, which was instantly laid in ashes, and a party detached to cross the river to destroy the corn, beans, &c., of which there were several very extensive fields, and those articles in the greatest perfection. Whilst the troops were engaged in this business, Gens. Poor and Maxwell’s brigades were fired upon, lost one man, killed, and several wounded. The whole business being completed we returned to the ruins of the village, halted some little time, and received orders to return to Tioga Plain, at which place we arrived at 8 o’clock, considerably fatigued. Lest the savages should discover our loss, after leaving the place, I had the dead bodies of my regiment carried along, fixed on horses, and brought to this place for internment. The expedition from the first to last continued twenty-four hours, of which time my regiment was employed, without the least intermission, twenty-three hours; the whole of our march not less than forty miles.

Sunday, 15th. - Agreeable to orders of yesterday, seven hundred men were ordered -to march on the grand parade for inspection, and to be furnished with ammunition and eight days provision, for the purpose of marching up the Susquehanna and meeting General Clinton, who is now on his march to form a junction with this army.  Two o’clock, P. M., a firing was heard on the west side of Tioga branch, immediately opposite our encampment. A number of Indians, under cover of a high mountain, advanced on a large meadow or flat of ground, on which our cattle and horses were grazing. Unfortunately, two men were there to fetch some horses, one of which was killed and scalped, the other slightly wounded, but got clear. One bullock was likewise killed, and several public horses taken off. My regiment was ordered in pursuit of them: we accordingly crossed the branch and ascended the mountain, marched along the summit of the same for upwards of two miles in order to gain their rear but the enemy having too much start, got clear. After scouring the mountains and valleys near the same, we returned, much fatigued, about 5 o’clock, P. M.

Monday, 16th. - The detachment under General Poor’s command, agreeable to orders, moved this day, 1 o’clock, P. M., up the Susquehanna for the purpose of forming a junction with Gen. Clinton. Several of our Continentals alarmed the camp by firing off several guns about 1 o’clock in the morning, in consequence of which light corps stood under arms. Several patrols were sent out to reconnoitre the front of encampment, returned near day-break, but made no discoveries -- alarm proved premature. Gen. Hand, being ordered with the detachment under Gen. Poor, the command of light corps devolved on me during his absence.

Thursday, 17th. - Seven o’clock , P. M., a firing was heard about five hundred yards immediately in front of light corps’ encampment. A party of fifty men was immediately detached to endeavour to find out the cause of it; returned at 8 o’clock, P. M.; reported that a party of Indians, eleven in number, had waylaid a few pack horsemen, who were just returning with their horses from pasture; that they had killed and scalped one man, and wounded another; the wounded man got safe to camp, and the corpse of the other was likewise brought in. An alarm was fired by a continental about 11 o’clock, P. M., but proved false.

Wednesday, 18th. - In order to entrap some of those savages who keep sneaking about the encampment, the following parties ordered out for that purpose, and to be relieved daily by an equal number until we leave this ground, viz.: one subaltern and twenty men on the mountain opposite the encampment; one subaltern and twenty men on the island, about a mile and half above the encampment, on Tioga branch, and one subaltern and twenty men in the woods, about a mile and a half immediately in front of light corps’ encampment, with orders to waylay and take every other means to take them.

This day, by particular request of several gentlemen, a discourse was delivered in the Masonic form, by Dr. Rogers, on the death of Captain Davis of the 11th Penn., and Lieutenant Jones of the Delaware regiments, who were, on the 23d of April last, most cruelly and inhumanly massacred and scalped by the savages, emissaries employed by the British king, as they were marching with a detachment for the relief of the garrison at Wyoming. ..

Thursday, 19th. - Nothing remarkable this day.

Friday, 20th. - This day arrived Lieut. Boyd, of Col. Butler’s regiment, with accounts of Gen. Clinton’s movements on the Susquehanna, and that a junction was formed by him with Gen. Poor’s detachment, Chokoanut about thirty-five miles from this place. Rain very heavy chief part of the day.

Saturday, 21st. - The detachments under Gens. Clinton and Poor, on account of the very heavy rain yesterday, did not reach this encampment as was expected.

Sunday, 22d. - This day, 10 o’clock, A.M., Gens. Clinton and Poor’s detachments, with about two hundred and twenty boats, passed light corps’ encampment for the main army, about one and a half miles in their rear. On their passing, they were saluted with thirteen rounds from the park; the light corps being likewise drawn up, and received them in proper form, with Col. Proctor’s music, and drums and fifes beating and playing.

Monday, 23d. - This day a most shocking affair happened, by an accident of a gun, which went off, the ball of which entered a tent in which was Capt. Kimball, of Gen. Poor’s brigade, and a lieutenant; the captain was unfortunately killed, and the lieutenant wounded. Gen. Clinton having formed a junction with the army at this place yesterday, the following alterations in the several brigades were ordered to take place, viz.: Col. Courtland’s regiment to be annexed to General Clinton’s, Colonel Older to General Poor’s, and Colonel Butler’s regiment, with Major Parr’s corps, to General Hand’s brigade.

Tuesday, 24th. - This day employed hands to make bags for the purpose of carrying flour; hands employed all day and night in this business. Agreeable to orders a signal gun was fired for the whole army to strike tents, 5 o’clock, P. M., and marched some small distance in order to form the line of march. Seven o’clock, P. M., another signal gun was fired for the army to encamp in proper order, and to be in readiness for an immediate march. Col. Butler’s regiment, with Major Parr’s riflemen, joined light corps, and encamped with them this day, 7 o’clock, P. M. Colonel Shrieve took command of Fort Sullivan this day agreeable to orders.

Wednesday, 25th. - This morning was entirely devoted to packing up and getting every thing in readiness for an immediate march. A heavy rain fell at 11 o’clock, continued greater part of the day, which prevented our movements.

Thursday, 26th. - The army not being perfectly ready to march at 8 o’clock, A. M., agreeable to yesterday’s orders, the signal gun for a march was not fired until 11 o’clock, when the whole took up the line of march in the following order, namely: Light corps, commanded by General Hand, marched in six columns, the right commanded by Colonel Butler, and the left by myself. Major Parr, with the riflemen, dispersed considerably in front of the whole, with orders to reconnoitre all mountains, defiles, and other suspicious places, previous to the arrival of the army, to prevent any surprise or ambuscade from taking place. The pioneers, under command of a captain, subaltern, then followed after, which preceded the park of artillery; then came on the main army, in two columns, in the centre of which moved the pack horses and cattle, the whole flanked on right and left by the flanking divisions, commanded by Colonel Dubois and Colonel Ogden, and rear brought up by General Clinton’s brigade; in this position the whole moved to the upper end of Tioga flats, about three miles above Fort Sullivan, where we encamped for this night. This day disposed of one of my horses to Mr. Bond, captain, on account of his indisposition, obtained leave to continue either at Fort Sullivan, or go to Wyoming, until the return of the regiment from the expedition.

Friday, August 27th. - On account of some delays this morning army did not move until half past eight o’clock, A.M. Previous to the march the pioneers, under cover of the rifle corps, were advanced to the first and second defile, or narrows, some miles in front of our encampment, where they were employed in mending and cutting a road for the pack to pass. The army marched in same order of yesterday, the country through which they had to pass being exceedingly mountainous and rough, and the slow movements of the pack considerably impeded the march. About 7 o’clock, P. M., we arrived near the last narrows, at the lower end of Chemung, where we encamped in the following order: Light corps near the entrance of the defile or narrows, and in front of some very extensive corn-fields, some refugee Tories, now acting with the favour of the main army, about one mile in our rear, and immediately fronting the corn-fields. After encamping had an agreeable repast of corn, potatoes, beans, cucumbers, watermelons, squashes, and other vegetables, which were in great plenty, (produced) from the corn-fields already mentioned, and in the greatest perfection: distance of march this day, six miles.

Saturday, August 28th. - Fore part of this day being employed by the general and principal officers of the army in reconnoitering the river and finding out some fording place for the artillery, pack horses, and cattle to cross, to gain Chemung, the defile or narrows mentioned in my yesterday’s journal being so excessively narrow, and, indeed, almost impracticable for them to pass. The following disposition for the marching of the army took place accordingly, namely: The rifle corps, with General Maxwell’s brigade, and left flanking division of the army, covering the park, pack horses, and cattle, crossed to the west side of the river, and about one and a half mile above recrossed the same, and formed a junction on the lower end of Chemung flats with the light corps, Generals Poor and Clinton’s brigades, and right flanking division of the army, who took their route across an almost inaccessible mountain, on the east side of the river, the bottom of which forms the narrows already mentioned. The summit was gained with the greatest difficulty; on the top of the mountain the lands, which are level and extensive, are exceedingly rich with large timber, chiefly oak, interspersed with underwood and excellent grass. The prospect from this mountain is most beautiful; we had a view of the country of at least twenty miles round; the fine, extensive plains, interspersed with streams of water, made the prospect pleasing and elegant from this mountain. We observed, at some considerable distance, a number of clouds of smoke arising, where we concluded the enemy to be encamped. Previous to the movement of the army this day, a small party of men were sent across the river in order to destroy some few Indian huts, which were immediately opposite our encampment. Before the business was quite effected they were fired upon by a party of Indians, who, after giving, the fire, immediately retreated; the party executed their orders, and all returned unhurt to the army.

The scout sent out last evening to reconnoitre the enemy near Newtown, (an Indian village so called,) returned this day, and reported they discovered a great number of fires, and that they supposed, from the extensive piece of ground covered by the fires, the enemy must be very formidable, and mean to give us battle. They likewise discovered four or five small scouting parties on their way towards this place, it is supposed to reconnoitre our army. Since our arrival here a great quantity of furniture was found by our soldiers which was concealed in the adjacent woods. After forming the junction above mentioned, we took up the line of march, and moved to the upper Chemung town, and encamped about 6 o’clock, P. M., for this night. Distance of march on a straight course, about two miles. From the great quantities of corn and other vegetables here and in the neighbourhood, it is supposed they intended to establish their principal magazine at this place, which seems to be their chief rendezvous, whenever they intend to go to war; it is the key to the Pennsylvania and New York frontier. The corn already destroyed by our army is not less than 5,000 bushels upon a moderate calculation, and the quantity yet in the ground in this neighbourhood is at least the same, besides which there are vast quantities of beans, potatoes, squashes, pumpkins, &c., which shared the fate of the corn.

Saturday, August 29th. - This morning at 9 o’clock the army moved in the same order of the 26th; the riflemen were well scattered in front of the light corps, who moved with the greatest precision and caution. On our arrival near the ridge on which the action of the 13th commenced with light corps, our van discovered several Indians in front, one of whom gave them a fire, and then fled. We continued our march for about one mile; the rifle corps entered a low marshy ground which seemed well calculated for forming ambuscades; they advanced with great precaution, when several more Indians were discovered, who fired and retreated. Major Parr, from those circumstances, judged it rather dangerous to proceed any further without taking every caution to reconnoitre almost every foot of ground, and ordered one of his men to mount a tree and see if he could make any discoveries; after being some time on the tree he discovered the movements of several Indians, (which were rendered conspicuous by the quantity of paint they had on them,) as they were laying behind an extensive breastwork, which extended at least half a mile, and most artfully covered with green boughs, and trees, having their right flank secured by the river, and their left by a mountain. It was situated on a rising ground - about one hundred yards in front of a difficult stream of water, bounded by the marshy ground already mentioned on our side, and on the other, between it and the breast works, by an open and clear field. Major Parr immediately gave intelligence to General Hand of his discoveries, who immediately advanced the light corps within about three hundred yards of the enemy’s work’s, and formed in line of battle; the rifle corps, under cover, advanced, and lay under the bank of the creek within one hundred yards of the lines. Gen. Sullivan, having previous notice, arrived with the main army, and ordered the following disposition to take place: The rifle and light corps to continue their position; the left flanking division, under command of Colonel Ogden, to take post on the left flank of the light corps, and General Maxwells brigade, some distance in the rear, as a corps de reserve, and Colonel Proctor’s artillery in front of the centre of the light corps, and immediately opposite the breast-work. A heavy fire ensued between the rifle corps and the enemy, but little damage was done on either side. In the meantime, Generals Poor and Clinton’s brigades, with the right flanking division, were ordered to march and gain, if possible, the enemy’s flank and rear, whilst the rifle and light corps amused them in front. Col. Proctor had orders to be in readiness with his artillery and attack the lines, first allowing a sufficient space of time to Generals Poor, &c., to gain their intended stations. About 3 o’clock, P. M., the artillery began their attack on the enemy’s works; the rifle and light corps in the meantime prepared to advance and charge; but the enemy, finding their situation rather precarious, and our troops determined, left and retreated from their works with the greatest precipitation, leaving behind them a number of blankets, gun covers, and kettles, with corn boiling over the fire. Generals Poor, &c., on account of several difficulties which they had to surmount, could not effect their designs, and the enemy probably having intelligence of their approach, posted a number of troops on the top of a mountain, over which they had to advance. On their arrival near the summit of the same, the enemy gave them a fire, and wounded several officers and soldiers. General Poor pushed on and gave them a fire as they retreated, and killed five of the savages. the course of the day we took nine scalps, (all savages,) and two prisoners, who were separately examined, and gave the following corresponding account: that the enemy were seven hundred men strong, viz., five hundred savages, and two hundred Tories, with about twenty British troops, commanded by a Seneca chief, the two Butlers, Brandt, and M’Donald. The infantry pushed on towards Newtown; the main army halted and encamped near the place of action, near which were several extensive fields of corn and other vegetables. About 6 o’clock, P. M., the infantry returned and encamped near the main army. The prisoners further informed us that the whole of their party had subsisted on corn only for this fortnight past, and that they had no other provisions with them; and that their next place of rendezvous would be at Catharines town, an Indian village about twenty-five miles from this place. Distance of march (exclusive of counter-marches) this day, about eight miles.

Monday, August 30th. - On account of the great quantities of corn, beans, potatoes, turnips, and other vegetables, in destroying of which the troops were employed, and the rain which set in the after part of the day, obliged us to continue on the ground for this day and night. The troops were likewise employed in drawing eight days provisions, (commencing 1st day of September.) The reason of drawing this great quantity at one time was, (however inconsistent with that economy which is absolutely necessary in our present situation, considering the extensive campaign before us, and the time of consequence it will require to complete it,) the want of pack horses for transporting the same, and in order to expedite this great point in view, are obliged to substitute our soldiery for carrying the same.

Tuesday, August 31st. - Took up our line of march in usual order at 9 o’clock, A. M.; marched about four miles and a half through a broken and mountainous country, and an almost continuous defile on the east side of Cayuga branch, the west of the same for that distance was an excellent plain, on which large quantities of corn, beans, potatoes, and other vegetables stood and were destroyed by us the preceding day. We then crossed Cayuga branch, where it forks with a stream of water running east and west, and landed on a most beautiful piece of country remarkably level. On the banks of the same stood a small Indian village, which was immediately destroyed. The soldiers found great quantities of furniture &c., which was buried, some of which they carried off, and some was destroyed. About 2 o’clock, P. M., we proceeded along the path which leads to Catharines town, (an Indian village,) and leaves the Cayuga branch on its left. About 5 o’clock, P. M., we encamped on a most beautiful plain, interspersed with marshes, well calculated for meadows. Wood chiefly pine, interspersed with hazel brushes, and great quantities of grass; distance of march this day, 10 miles.

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Dr. Jabez Campfield [sometimes spelled Camfield], was born in 1737 in Newark, New Jersey and graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University, 1759), studied medicine with Newark doctor William Burnet, and entered the army as Senior Surgeon on Dr. Burnet’s staff.  He married Sarah Ward, of Newark, and practiced medicine in Morristown where he owned Campfield Farm, until his death.  He was Surrogate of Morris County from its beginnings (1784-1804) and founder of the Morris County Agricultural Society. He was a surgeon in Colonel Oliver Spencer's Additional Regiment during Major General John Sullivan's expedition against the Indians, May 23-October 2, 1779.

From his journal:

August 18, 1779...We heard G. Clinton’s eavning gun.

August 19  - This morning 9 o’clock Genl. Clinton joined us with upward of 200 Boats and about 700 Infantry, who marched by land - 2 pieces of cannon in ye boats; his whole number it is said consists of 1500 men...

August 27  - The army marched about 6 miles and passed a difficult defile--broke two wagons, overset a traveling forge and one of the pieces...Here we found much green corn & beans.

August 28 - The army marched to Shemung (12 miles from Tioga)...Maxwell’s Brigade forded the Tioga twice to escape a difficult defile, while Genls Clinton, Poor & Hand with their brigades passed over the mountains...

Sunday, August 29 - The army advanced in its common order of march, until about the middle of the day when the advance received a fire from the enemy...Two prisoners were taken, a Tory & a Negro; 17 men were killed on the spot, who our people found, one of them an Indian of distinction - their number wounded we don’t know, they must have been considerable. We had only 3 men killed and 30 wounded, among whom were a Major, Captain, & Sub’n, all of the Hampshire troops. At evening the whole army arrived and incamped in New Town, the inhabitants of which had deserted it two days before. Here we found great quantities of corn, beans, pumpkins, &c...

August 30 - The army remained in camp this day, part being detached to destroy the corn and other things from which the enemy might hereafter draw subsistance.

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Obediah Gore was born in Norwich, Connecticut around 1745. Gore, a blacksmith from the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania, recruited twenty soldiers in the summer of 1776 and accepted a commission as a lieutenant in the Connecticut line. He later accepted a commission in the Continental Army and was serving under General Horatio Gates in New York during the fateful summer of 1778. On 3 July 1778, in the Battle of Wyoming, Gore lost three brothers, two brothers-in-law, and all of his family’s property in the brutal attack of a combined British and Indian force. Two other brothers sustained serious injury during the fighting while the remainder of his family fled to Forty Fort. Gore was transferred to Fort Penn after the Battle of Wyoming and continued to serve in various military capacities.

From his journal:

August 29th: Marched at 8 AM & our advanced Parties frequently discovered Indians in Front & at the Distance of about 4 Miles they had a Breast Work situated on a very advantageous Heighth. The Riffle Corps crept up & amused them with a Scattering Fire for 2 or 3 Hours attended with some Execution while our Artilery could be brought up to play upon them—Mean Time Generals Poor & Clintons Brigades advanced to gain the Enemys rear at 3 PM we begun a Cannonade upon the Breast Work & in about 6 Minutes they began to run & quit their Works which our advance Party took Possession of immediately—The Right FIank of the Enemy in their Flight fell in with General Poor's Brigade who gave them a Warm Reception which put them in such Precipitation as to leave Packs Blankets Guns Powder & even an officer's Commission &c We found 9 dead & took 2 Prisoners & have Reason to think that Considerable other Execution was done as there was great Quantities of Blood found in their Paths—in all which we had only 5 killed & twenty three wounded. We passed the Breast work about one Mile & encamped at Night the Troops were much animated with this Days Success.

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Spencer’s 5th New Jersey Regt.

Observations - The Country continues mountainous and the road very disagreeable. The sight of Carriages in this part of the world is very odd, as there is nothing but a foot path. We got this night at a large flat three miles distant from Chemung where corn grows such as cannot be equalled in Jersey. The field contains about 100 acres, beans, cucumbers. Simblens water-melons, and pumpkins in such quantities would be almost incredible to a civilized people. We sat up until between one and two o’clock feasting on these rarities.

Shemung, 28th August 1779 The army don’t move until 2 o’clock this afternoon... We arrive at this place at sunset, the pack horses being in the rear, made it after dark before we got our tents pitched. We crossed the Cayuga [the Chemung River] twice. The river was three feet deep, and the rapids very strong. It swept a number of our pack horses down the river.

Middletown [a small Indian town between Newtown and Kanawaholla] 29th August Sunday.

The army marched at half past 10 o’clock. We had marched about three miles and a half when we heard some firing in front and soon was informed that Col. Butler... had received some Shots from a party of Indians..

Monday, Middletown 30th August. The army don’t march today, but are employed in cutting down the corn at this place which being about one hundred and fifty acres, and superior to any I ever say. Our wounded to be sent to Teoga in boats-They go just after dark.

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John L. Hardenbergh
Lieutenant 2nd New York Regiment. From his journal:

Friday, Aug. 13th – About 6 o’clock in the morning we arrived at Shemung and found the enemy had left the town. On our approach we burnt the town, destroyed the corn, &c and retured to Tiyuga A small party of the Indians who had concealed themselves in the wood, fired on a small party of Gen’l hand’s Brigade, killed six men and wounded two without loss on their side. A party of Gen’l Poor’s Brigade was destroying corn, were fired upon by the enemy, killed one and wounded one.


Tuesday, 24th. Drew some clothing for the men. Went to day to see an old Indian burying ground which lay just by our Camp, there was about 100 graves, some of which our men had Dug up, they bury their Dead very curious after this manner. They did a hole the length of the person they are to bury & about 2 feet Deep, they lay him on his back in the grave with an old Blanket or blanket Coat round him and lay Bark over the Grave even with the Surface of the Earth so as to prevent the earth from touching the body then heap the up the dirt on the top of the Grave in a round heap which is from 4 to 6 feet high, but the graves is very old and a number of them as this formerly was a very Capital town, but a few Years ago they Moved up the Tyoga [now the Chemung River] to Shamong [Chemung] where they built that town & there is no houses here now but very pretty land. This afternoon our Regt. moved up the River and joined Genl. Hand’s Brigade with 4 Companies from the other Regts & had orders to hold ourselves in readiness to march tomorrow.

Tyoga Branch, Wensday 25th, Raind almost all Day. Had all our heavy baggage Stored in the Garrison. Recd orders to march to morrow morning 8oClock. The Rain Raised the River very much, I heard that three Oneida Indains arrived at Hed Qrs. this evening from Oneida Caste, but what News they brought I don’t know.

Thursday, 26th. This morning the freshet in the River had carried away a number of our boats down the River. Marched of about 11oClock leaving all our heavy baggage & woman at the Garrison, carried on pack horses 27 Day provision likewise went with us 7 Pieces of Ordinance with three Amunition Waggons, four boats came up the River. Marched this Day 6 Miles within 2 miles of Shomong [Chemung] where they had planted a great deal of Corn, beans, &c which we feasted very heartily on.

Marched two miles up the Tyoga where we encamped 4 Mile from the Mouth of the Tyoga on very good ground but woods.

Friday, 27th. March of this morning 8oClock in the following line of march viz: Genl. Hands Brigade of Light Infantry in front in 6 Colums each. Colum 2 Deep and 2 or 300 Yards distance from each; Genl Poors brigade on the right in one Column by Platoons following Genl Hands right column. Genl Clintons Brigade fetching up the rear in the same line of March and Genl. Hands Artillery & Pack horses in the Centre. Col Ogden on one flank and 200 Men & Col. Dubois on the other side with the same number in order to gain the Enemy rear in case of an Attack; the Rifle Men in front of the reconoiting Mountains, roads, Defiles &c.  There was several Indians saw on our March to day, but they made their escape, likewise Major Parr who was Advanced with the Rifle men saw a number of fires 5 or 6 miles a head which he supposed the Indians was at. Went on Guard to night.

Saturday, 28th. Very heavy Dew this morning did not move to day till 2oClock occasioned by our Amunition waggons breaking Yesterday & had to mend them before we started. Just as the Genl. Beat there was a few of our Volunteers went across the river to burn a house they was fired on by 6 or 7 Indians. They imediately recrossed the river in a fright without even returning a Shot. The Artillery Pack horses & Some troops crossed the river here to escape a very large hill which there was to cross and crossed at Shamong where the army encamped 2 Miles from where came to day. This town was very beautifully Situated on the bank of the Tyoga but a good deal Scattered. The land Excellent, it lies near a West course from Fort Sullivan but a little to the North of West. It was burnt by Genl. Sullivans army Just after their Arrival at Tyoga which I before Mentioned.

Sunday, 29th. Marched this morning 9oClock, went about 3 Mile when we found the Enemy strongly Entrenched with Logs, Dirt, brush &c. Imidiately begun in front with the Rifle Corp & the indians made great halooing. Orders was given then for the troops to form in line of battle which was done. Genl. Hands brigade in front but none of the troops advanced as we discovered the main body of the Enemy was here and had their front secured by a large Morass & brook, their right by the River & on their left partly in the rear was a very large hill. Their lines extended upwards of a Mile the firing was kept up very briskly by the Rifle men & a company who was sent to reinforce them, likewise the Indians returned the fire very brisk with many shouts for about 2 hours while a disposition was made for to attack them. Genl. Clintons & Poors brigades was sent of round their left flank to take possession of the hill in the Enems rear and extend their line intirely round them if Possible. After they had gone about half an hour, Genl. Hands brigade advanced in a line of balle with all our Artillery in the Centre within about 300 Yards of the Enemy works but in full View of them. A very heavy canonade began & throwing of Shells the enemy returned the fire. Very brisk for about half an hour when the Enemy retreated up the hill in a great Disorder & as they got near the top received a very heavy fire from Genl. Poors brigade: the enemy then took round Genl. Poors right flank by the river which Genl. Poors had not guarded as he had not time to. Therefore they made their Escape leaving a number of their dead behind them. As soon as the Enemy left their works, Genl. Hands brigade pursued up the hill as far as where Genl. Poor was when we made a halt. The rifle men pursued them about one Mile farther and made a Negro prisoner. Likewise saw some of their wounded going up the river in Canoes. They fired on them but they All made their Escape wounded and all. The Army then returned down the hill & encamped about 2 Mile above the Enemys works. Our loss about 40 killed & wounded among which is three Officers. One of them is since Dead. Their loss cannot be ascertained as they all carry their dead & wounded off, but there was 10 or 12 Scalps taken wich was killed by Genl. Poors brigade on the hill. The enemy left very little plunder behind but had Genl. Poor had a little more time to extend his Army round their rear to the river they would undoubltedly all been made Prisoners or our Victory been a great deal more compleat, but it is generally believed the Enemys loss is very considerableLikewise made one white man prisoner & one Negro who informed us that their force was about 400 Indians and 300 Tories - their chief commander Old Butler, other officers Young Butler, Brant & McDonald, the other indian Chiefs. Up the brook about one Mile from where the Indians had their works was a New Indian town midling large but poorly built, which was burnt by Genl. Clinton’s Brigade the most all Hutts.

Monday, 30th. Raind a little last night and partly all this day by Showers. Near half the Army out to day cutting up corn which is in great Abundance here; the party out of our Brigade went over the River where the corn Chiefly grows. Went up the River about 2 Miles then took up a large branch of the River (which bears near S.W.) One Mile burnt 5 houses and destroyed all the corn in our way. Our Brigade Destroyed about 150 Acres of the best corn that Ever I saw (some of the Stalks grew 16 feet high) besides great Quantities of Beans, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Cucumbers, Squashes & Watermellons, and the Enemy looking at us from the hills but did not fire on us. The Army lay on this ground all day and draw’d 16 Days flower and the Army was put on half allowance of provision which the men submitted to with a great deal of cheerfullness.

Tuesday, 31st. This morning all the boats were sent down the River. Likewise  in the boats the Amunition waggons & all the Artillery excepting four three Pounders and a little Cow horn. The wounded and the sick went down among which was Capt. Tuda which was very sick; the Army moved this morning 9oClock. Fair weather proceeded on to Newtown [now Elmira] which consists of between 20 & 30 houses very well built but very much scattered; halted at the Upper end of the town 6 Miles from where we encamp’d for refreshment by a large Creek [Newtown Creek] which empties itself in the River here… [today the area of Kennedy Valve on East Water Street in Elmira] & runs about N.W. Here the Rifle men was Detatched. Col. Daytons Regt. & a company from our Regt. up the river to take some boats that was reported was seen in the River. We went up the River about 7 Miles. Saw no boats nor nor sign of any & night coming on we turned about returned one Mile down the River and lay in a Corn field all Night; the Army left the River and went about a N.W. course up the Creek I mentioned about 5 Mile where we encamped, midling good road for the Artillery to day and a very good path.


Frederick Cook, comp., Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan against the Six Nations of Indians in 1779... (Auburn, NY, 1887).

"Journal of Lieut. Erkuries Beatty, of the 4th Penn. Line." In Frederick Cook’s, Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan Against the Six Nations of Indians in 1779 with Records of Centennial Celebrations (Auburn, N.Y.: Knapp, Peck & Thomson, 1887), pp. 15-37. Struggle for Legitimacy: Junior Officer Leadership in the Revolutionary War, James Perrin, Department

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