Notes to remember: Teaoga - Tioga Point now Athens, Pennsylvannia
Teaoga River - now the Chemung River
Konowhola, Conowalohala - Newtown Point - now the area near Kennedy Valve in Elmira, New York
Catherine’s Town - now Watkins Glen, New York
Kanadasaga - Canadice
Chinesee - Geneseo
Koneghsaws - Conesus
Teaogo, Sept. 30, 1779
Sir: -- In mine of the 30th ultimo to His Excellency George Washington, and by him transmitted to Congress, I gave an account of the victory obtained by this army over the enemy at Newtown, on the 29th August. I now do myself the honor to inform Congress of the progress of this army, and the most material occurrences which have since taken place.
The time taking up in destroying the corn, in the neighborhood of Newtown, employing the army near two days, and then appearing a probability that the destruction of all the crops might take a much greater length of time than was first apprehended, and being likewise convinced, by an accurate calculation, that it could not be possible to effect the destruction of the Indian country, with the provision on hand which was all I had in store, and indeed all I had pack horses to transport from Teaogo; in this situation I could think of but one expedient to answer the purposes of the expedition, which was to prevail, if possible, on the soldiers to content themselves with half a pound of flour and the same quantity of fresh beef per day, rather than leave the important business unfinished. I therefore drew up an address to them, a copy of which I have the honor to enclose you, which being read, was answered by three cheers from the whole army. Not one dissenting voice was heard from either officer or soldier. I had then on hand, from the best calculation I could make, twenty-two pounds of flour and sixteen pounds of beef per man; the former liable to many deductions by rains, crossing rivers and defiles; the latter much more so, from the almost unavoidable loss of cattle, when suffered to range the woods at night for their support. I was, however, encouraged in the belief, that I should be enabled to effect the destruction and total ruin of the Indian territories by this truly noble resolution of the army, for which, I know not whether the public stand more indebted to the persuasive arguments which the officers began to use, or to the virtuous disposition of the soldiers, whose prudent and cheerful compliance with the requisition anticipated all their wishes, and rendered persuasion unnecessary.
I sent back all my heavy artillery on the night of the 30th, retaining only four brass three pounders, and a small howitzer; loaded the necessary ammunition on horseback, and marched early on the 31st for Catherine’s Town. On our way, we destroyed a small settlement of eight houses, and a town called Konowhola, of about twenty houses, situated on a peninsula at the conflux of the Teaogo and Cayuga branches. We also destroyed several fields of corn. From this point Colonel Dayton was detached with his regiment and the rifle corps up the Teaogo about six miles, who destroyed several large fields of corn. The army resumed their march, and encamped within thirteen miles and a half of Catherine’s Town where we arrived the next day, although we had a road to open for the artillery, through a swamp nine miles in extant, and almost impervious. We arrived near Catherine’s Town in the night, and moved on, in hopes to surprise it, but found it forsaken. On the next morning, an old woman belonging to the Cayuga nation was found in the woods. She informed me that on the night after the battle of Newtown, the enemy, having fled the whole night, arrived there in great confusion early the next day; that she heard the warriors tell their women they were conquered and must fly; that they had a great many killed and vast numbers wounded. - She likewise heard the lamentations of many at the loss of their connections. In addition to this, she assured us, that some other warriors had met Butler at this place and desired him to return and fight again. But to this request, they could not obtain no satisfactory answer, for, as they observed, “Butler’s mouth was closed.” The warriors who had been in the action were equally averse to the proposal, and would think of nothing but flight, and removal of their families; that they kept runners on every mountain to observe the movements of our army, who reported early in the day on which we arrived, that our advance was very rapid; upon which all those who had not been before sent off, fled with precipitation, leaving her without any possible means of escape. She said that Brant had taken most of the wounded up the Teaogo in canoes. I was, from many circumstances, fully convinced of the truth and sincerity of her declaration, and the more so, as we had, the day we left Newtown, discovered a great number of bloody packs, arms and accoutrements, thrown away in the road, and in the woods each side of it. Besides which, we discovered a number of recent graves, one of which has been since opened, containing the bodies of two persons who had died by wounds.
These circumstances, when added to that of so many warriors being left dead on the field, a circumstance not common with Indians, were sufficient to corroborate the woman’s declaration, and to prove what I before conjectured, that the loss of the enemy was much greater than was at first apprehended. I have never been able to ascertain, with any degree of certainty, what force the enemy opposed to us at Newtown, but from the best accounts I have been able to collect, and from the opinion of General Poor, and others, who had the best opportunity of viewing their numbers, as well as from the extant of their lines, I suppose them to have been 1,500, though two prisoners, whom I believe totally ignorant of the number at any post but their own, as well as of the enemy’s disposition, estimate them at only eight hundred, while they allow that five companies of rangers, all the warriors of Seneca, and six other nations, were collected at this place. In order to determine their force with as much accuracy as in my power, I examined their breastworks, and found the extant more than half a mile. Several bastions ran out in its front to flank the lines in every part. A small block-house, formerly a dwelling, was also manned in the front. The breastwork appeared to have been fully manned, though I supposed with only one rank. Some parts of their works being low, they were obliged to dig holes in the ground to cover themselves in part. This circumstance enabled me to judge the distance between their men in the works. A very thin scattering line, designed, as I suppose, for communicating signals, was continued from those works to that part of the mountain which General Poor ascended, where they had a very large body, which was designed, I imagined, to fall on our flank. The distance from the breastwork to this was at least one mile and a half. From thence to the hill in the rear of our right, was another scattering line of about one mile, and on the hill a breastwork with a strong party, destined, as it is supposed, to fall on our rear. But General Clinton being ordered so far to the right, occasioned his flank to pass the mountain, which obliged them to abandon their post. From these circumstances, as well as from the opinions of others, I cannot conceive their numbers to be less than what I have before mentioned.
The army spent one day at Catherine’s destroying corn and fruit trees. We burnt the town, consisting of thirty houses. The next day we encamped near a small scattering settlement of about eight houses and two days after reached Kendaia, which we also found deserted. Here one of the inhabitants of Wioming, who had been last year captured by the enemy, escaped from them and joined us. He informed us that the enemy had left the town in the greatest confusion three days before our arrival. He said he had conversed with some of the tories on their return form the action at Newtown, who assured him they had great numbers killed and wounded, and there was no safety but in flight. He heard Butler tell them he must try to make a stand at Kanadasega; but they declared they would not throw away their lives in vain attempt to oppose such an army. He also heard many of the Indian women lamenting the loss of their connections and added that Brandt had taken most of the wounded up the Teaogo in water crafts which had been provided for that purpose in case of necessity. It was his opinion that the King of Kanadasega was killed as he saw him go down but not return and gave a description of his person and dress corresponding with those of one found on the field of action. Kendaia consisted of about twenty houses which were reduced to ashes, the houses were neatly built and finished. The army spent nearly a day at this place, in destroying corn and fruit trees of which there was a great abundance. Many of the trees appeared to be of great age. On the next day we crossed the outlet of the Seneca Lake and moved in three divisions through the woods to encircle Kanadsega, but found it likewise abandoned. A white child of about three years old, doubtless the offspring of some unhappy captive, was found here and carried with the army.
A detachment of four hundred men was sent down on the west side of the lake to destroy Gothseunquean and the plantations in the same quarters; at the same time a number of volunteers under Colonel Harper, made a forced march towards Cayuga Lake and destroyed Schoyere while the residue of the army were employed in destroying the corn at Kanadesega of which there was a large quantity. This town consisted of fifty houses and was pleasantly situated. In it, we found a great number of fruit trees which were destroyed with the town. The army then moved on and in two days arrived at Kanandaque, having been joined on the march by the detachment sent along the Seneca Lake which had been almost two days employed in destroying the crops and settlements in that quarter. At Kanadaque we found twenty-three very elegant houses mostly finished and in general large. Here we also found very extensive fields of corn, which having been destroyed, we marched for Hannayaye, a small town of ten houses, which we also destroyed.
At this place we established a post leaving a strong garrison, our heavy stores and one field piece and proceeded to Chinesee, which the prisoners informed us was the grand capital of the Indian country, that Indians of all nations had been planting there this spring; that all the Rangers and some British had been employed in assisting them in order to raise sufficient supplies to support them while destroying our frontiers, and that they, themselves, had worked three weeks for the Indians when planting. This information determined me at all events to reach that settlement, though the state of my provisions, much reduced by unavoidable accidents, almost forbade the attempt. My flour had been much reduced by the failure of pack horses and in the passage of creeks and defiles; and twenty-seven of the cattle had been unavoidably lost. We however marched on for the Chinesee town and on the second day reached a town of twenty-five houses, called Koneghsaws. Here we found some large corn fields which part of the army destroyed while the other part were employed in building a bridge over an unfordable creek between this and Chinisee.
I had the preceding evening ordered out an officer with three or four riflemen, one of our guides and an Oneida chief to reconnoitre the Chinesee town, that we might, if possible, surprise it. Lieutenant Boid was the officer entrusted with this service, who took with him twenty-three men, volunteers form the same corps, and a few from Colonel Butler’s regiment, making in all twenty-six, a much larger number than I had thought of sending, and by no means so likely to answer the purpose as that which had been directed. The guides were by no means acquainted with the country, mistook the road in the night, and at daybreak fell in with a castle six miles higher up than Chinesee, inhabited by a tribe called Squatches. Here they saw a few Indians, killed and scalped two, the rest fled. Two runners were immediately dispatched to me with the account and informed that the party were on their return. When the bridge was almost completed some of them came in and told us that Lieutenant Boid and men of his party were almost surrounded by the enemy; that the enemy had been discovering themselves before him for some miles; that his men had killed two and were eagerly pursuing the rest; but soon found themselves almost surrounded by three or four hundred Indians and rangers. Those of Mr. Boid’s men who were sent to secure his flanks fortunately made their escape; but he with fourteen of his party and the Oneida chief being in the centre, were completely encircled. The light troops of the army and the flanking divisions were immediately detached to their relief; but arrived too late, the enemy having destroyed the party and escaped.
It appears that our men had taken to a small grove, the ground around it being clear on every side for several rods, and there fought till Mr. Boid was shot through the body, and his men all killed except one, who, with his wounded commander was made a prisoner. The firing was so close, before this brave party were destroyed, that the powder of the enemy’s muskets was driven into their flesh. In this conflict the enemy must have suffered greatly, as they had no cover, and our men were possessed of a very advantageous one. This advantage of ground the obstinate bravery of the party, with some other circumstances, induced me to believe their loss must have been very considerable. They were so long employed in removing and secreting their dead, that the advance of General Hand’s party obliged them to leave one alongside the riflemen, and at least a wagon load of packs, blankets, hats and provisions, which they had thrown off to enable them to act with more agility in the field. Most of these appeared to have been appertained to the rangers. Another reason which induces me to suppose they suffered much was the unparalleled tortures they inflicted upon the brave and unfortunate Boid, whose body, with that of the equally unfortunate companion, we found at Chinesee. It appeared that they had whipped them in the most cruel manner, pulled out Mr. Boid’s nails, cut off his nose, plucked out one of his eyes, cut out his tongue, stabbed him with spears in sundry places, and inflicted other tortures which decency will not permit me to mention; lastly cut off his head, and left his body on the ground with that of his unfortunate companion, who appeared to have experienced nearly the same savage barbarity. The party Mr. Boid fell in with, was commanded by Butler, posted on an advantageous piece of ground, in order to fire upon our army when advancing; but they found their design frustrated by the appearance of this party in their rear.
The army moved on that day to the castle mentioned, which consisted of twenty-five houses, and had very extensive fields of corn, which being destroyed, we moved on the next day to Chinesee, crossing in our route a deep creek and the Little Seneca river; and after marching six miles we reached the Castle, which consisted of 128 houses, mostly large and elegant. The town was beautifully situated, almost encircled with a cleared flat, which extended for a number of miles, covered by the most extensive fields of corn, and every kind of vegetables that can be conceived. The whole army was immediately engaged in destroying the crops. The corn was collected and burned in houses and kilns, so the enemy might not reap the least advantage from it, which method we have pursued in every other place. Here a woman came to us who had been captured at Wioming. She told us the enemy evacuated the town two days before; that Butler at the same time went off with three or four hundred Indians and rangers, as he said, to get a shot at our army. This was undoubtedly the party which cut off Lieutenant Boid. She mentioned they kept runners constantly out, and that when our army was in motion, the intelligence was communicated by a yell; immediately on which the greatest terror and confusion apparently took place among them. The women were constantly begging the warriors to sue for peace, and that one of the Indians had attempted to shoot Colonel Johnson for the falsehoods by which he had deceived and ruined them; that she overheard Butler telling Johnson that it was impossible to keep the Indians together after the Battle of New Town; that he thought they must soon be in a miserable situation, as all their crops would be destroyed, and that Canada could not supply them with provisions at Niagara; that he would endeavor to collect the warriors to assist in the defense of that fort, which he was of opinion this army would lay siege to, and the women and children he would send into Canada. After having destroyed this town, beyond which I was informed there was no settlement, and destroyed all their houses and crops in that quarter, the army having been advancing seventeen days with the supply of provisions before mentioned, and that much reduced on the march by accidents, and the Cayuga country being as yet unpenetrated, I thought it necessary to return as soon as possible in order to effect the destruction of the settlements in that quarter. The army therefore began its march to Kanadasaga.
I was met on the way by a sachem from Oneida and three warriors, one of whom I had sent from Katherine’s with a letter, a copy of which I have the honor to enclose to Congress. They delivered me a message from the warriors of that nation respecting the Cayugas; copies of that and my answer I also enclose from this place. I detached Colonel Smith with a party down the west side of the Lake to destroy the corn which had not been cut down, and to destroy anything further which might be discovered there. I, then, detached Colonel Gansevoort with one hundred men to Albany to forward the baggage of the York regiments to the main army, and then to take with him such soldiers as were at that place. I directed him to destroy the lower Mohawk castle in his route, and capture the inhabitants, consisting only of six or seven families who were constantly employed in giving intelligence to the enemy, and in supporting their scouting parties when making incursions on our frontiers. When the Mohawks joined the enemy, those few families were undoubtedly left to answer such a purpose and to keep possession of their lands. The upper castle now inhabited by Orkeskes, our friends he was directed not to disturb. With him I sent Mr. Deane, who bore my answer to the Oneidas.
I, then, detached Colonel Butler with six hundred men to destroy the Cayuga country, and with him sent all the Indian warriors who said if they could find the Cayugas they would endeavor to persuade them to deliver themselves up as prisoners; the chief of them called Teguttelawana being a near relation to the Sachem. I then crossed the Seneca river and detached Colonel Dearborn to the west side of the Cayuga Lake to destroy all the settlements which might be found there and to intercept the Cayugas if they attempted to escape Colonel Butler. The residue of the army passing on between the lakes, towards Katherines. Colonel Dearborn burnt in his route six towns, including one which had been before partly destroyed by a small party; destroying at the same time quantities of corn. He took an Indian lad and three women prisoners, one of the women being very old and the lad a cripple; he left them, and brought on the other two and joined the army on the evening of the 26th. Colonel Courtland was then detached with 300 men up the Teaoga branch to search for settlements in that quarter; and in the space of two days destroyed several fields of corn and burnt several houses.
Colonel Butler joined the army on the 29th day after our leaving Newtown. Here we were met by a plenty of provisions, from Teaoga, which I had previously directed to be sent on. Colonel Butler destroyed in the Cayuga country five principle towns and a number of scattering houses, the whole making about one hundred in number exceedingly large and well built. He also destroyed two hundred acres of excellent corn with a number of orchards, one of which had in it 1,500 fruit trees. Another Indian settlement was discovered near Newtown by a party, consisting of 39 houses, which were also destroyed. The number of towns destroyed by this army amounted to 40 besides scattering houses. The quantity of corn destroyed, at a moderate computation, must amount to 160,000 bushels, with a vast quantity of vegetables of every kind. Every creek and river has been traced, and the whole country explored in search of Indian settlements, and I am well persuaded that, except one town situated near the Allegana, about 50 miles from Chinesee there is not a single town left in the country of the Five nations.
It is with pleasure I inform Congress that this army has not suffered the loss of forty men in action or otherwise since my taking the command; though perhaps few troops have experienced a more fatiguing campaign. Besides the difficulties which naturally attend marching through an enemy’s country, abounding in woods, creeks, rivers, mountains, morasses and defiles, we found no small inconvenience from the want of proper guides, and the maps of the country are so exceedingly erroneous that they serve not to enlighten but to perplex. We had not a person who was sufficiently acquainted with the country to conduct a party out of the Indian path by day, or scarcely in it by night; though they were the best I could possibly procure. Their ignorance, doubtless arose from the Indians having ever taken the best measures in their power to prevent their country’s being explored. We had much labor in clearing out the roads for the artillery, notwithstanding which, the army moved from twelve to sixteen miles every day when not detained by rains, or employed in destroying settlements.
I feel myself much indebted to the officers of every rank for their unparalleled exertions, and to the soldiers for the unshaken firmness with which they endured the toils and difficulties attending the expedition. Though I had it not in command I should have ventured to have paid Niagara a visit, had I been supplied with fifteen days provisions in addition to what I had, which I am persuaded from the bravery and ardor of our troops would have fallen into our hands.
I forgot to mention that the Oneida Sachem requested me to grant his people liberty to hunt in the country of the Five Nations, as they would never think of settling again in a country once subdues, and where their settlements must ever be in our power. I, in answer, informed him that I had no authority to grant such a license; that I could not at present see reason to object to it, but advised them to make application to Congress, who, I believed, would, in consideration of their friendly conduct grant them every advantage of this kind that would not interfere with our settlement of the country, which I believed would soon take place. The Oneidas say that as no Indians were discovered by Colonel Butler at Cayuga, they are of the opinion they are gone to their castle, and that their Chiefs will persuade them to come in and surrender themselves on the terms I have proposed. The army began its march from Conowalohala yesterday, and arrived here this evening. After leaving the necessary force for securing the frontiers in this quarter, I shall move on to join the main army.
It would have been very pleasing to this army to have drawn the enemy to a second engagement, but such a panic seized them after the first action that it was impossible, as they never ventured themselves in reach of the army, nor have they fired a single gun at it on its march or in its quarters, though in a country exceedingly well calculated for ambuscades. This circumstance alone would sufficiently prove that they suffered severely in their first effort.
Congress will please pardon the length of this narration, as I thought a particular and circumstantial detail of facts would not be disagreeable, especially as I have transmitted no accounts of the progress of this army since the action of the 29th of August. I flatter myself that the orders with which I was entrusted are fully executed, as we have not left a single settlement or field of corn in the country of the Five Nations, nor is there even the appearance of an Indian on this side of Niagara. Messengers and small parties have been constantly passing, and some imprudent soldiers who straggled from the army, mistook the route and went back almost to Chinesee without discovering even the track of an Indian. I trust the steps I have taken with respect to the Oneidas, Cayugas and Mohawks will prove satisfactory; and here I beg leave to mention that in searching the houses of those pretended neutral Cayugas, a number of scalps were found, which appeared to have been lately taken, which Colonel Butler showed to the Oneidas, who said that they were then convinced of the justice of the steps I had taken. The promise made to the soldiers in my address at Newtown I hope will be thought reasonable by Congress, and flatter myself that the performance of it will be ordered.
Colonel Bruin will have the honor of delivering these dispatches to your Excellency. I beg leave to recommend him to the particular notice of Congress, as an officer who, on this as well as several other campaigns, has proved himself an active, brave, and truly deserving officer.
I have the honor to be, with the most exalted elements of esteem and respect, your Excellency’s most obedient and ever humble servant,
His Excellency John Jay, Esq.
Published by order of Congress.