Sullivan Expedition

Sullivan Expedition

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The Sullivan Expedition, also known as the Sullivan-Clinton Expedition, was an American campaign led by Major General John Sullivan
John Sullivan
John Sullivan was the third son of Irish immigrants, a United States general in the Revolutionary War, a delegate in the Continental Congress and a United States federal judge....

 and Brigadier General James Clinton
James Clinton
James Clinton was an American Revolutionary War soldier who obtained the rank of major general.He was born in Ulster County in the colony of New York, in a location now part of Orange County, New York...

 against Loyalists ("Tories")
Loyalist (American Revolution)
Loyalists were American colonists who remained loyal to the Kingdom of Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. At the time they were often called Tories, Royalists, or King's Men. They were opposed by the Patriots, those who supported the revolution...

 and the four nations of the Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

 who had sided with the British
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 in the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

.

The expedition occurred during the summer of 1779, beginning June 18 when the army marched from Easton, Pennsylvania, to October 3 when it abandoned Fort Sullivan, built at Tioga
Athens, Pennsylvania
Athens is a borough in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, two miles south of the N. Y. State line on the Susquehanna and Chemung rivers. Population in 1900, 3,749; and in 1910, 3,796. The population was 3,415 at the 2000 census...

, to return to New Jersey, and only had one major battle, at Newtown
Battle of Newtown
The Battle of Newtown , also known as the Battle of Chemung, was the only major battle of the Sullivan Expedition, an armed offensive led by General John Sullivan that was ordered by the Continental Congress to end the threat of the Iroquois who had sided with the British in the American...

 along the Chemung River
Chemung River
The Chemung River is a tributary of the Susquehanna River, approximately long, in south central New York and northern Pennsylvania in the United States. It drains a mountainous region of the northern Allegheny Plateau in the Southern Tier of New York...

 in western New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, in which about 1,000 Iroquois and Loyalists were decisively defeated by an army of 3,200 Continental soldiers.

Sullivan's army then carried out a scorched earth
Scorched earth
A scorched earth policy is a military strategy or operational method which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area...

 campaign, methodically destroying at least forty Iroquois villages throughout the Finger Lakes
Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes are a pattern of lakes in the west-central section of Upstate New York in the United States. They are a popular tourist destination. The lakes are long and thin , each oriented roughly on a north-south axis. The two longest, Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake, are among the deepest in...

 region of western New York, to put an end to Iroquois and Loyalist attacks against American settlements as had occurred the previous year. The devastation created great hardships for the thousands of Iroquois refugees outside Fort Niagara
Fort Niagara
Fort Niagara is a fortification originally built to protect the interests of New France in North America. It is located near Youngstown, New York, on the eastern bank of the Niagara River at its mouth, on Lake Ontario.-Origin:...

 that winter, and many starved or froze to death. The survivors fled to British regions in Canada and the Niagara Falls and Buffalo areas.

The Sullivan Expedition devastated the Iroquois crops and towns and left them at the mercy of the British for the harsh winter of 1779-80. Major Jeremiah Fogg of the 2nd New Hampshire Regiment
2nd New Hampshire Regiment
The 2nd New Hampshire Regiment, also known as the 8th Continental Regiment, was formed in early May of 1775, as the second of three Continental Army regiments raised by the state of New Hampshire during the American Revolutionary War. Its first commander was Colonel Enoch Poor, with Joseph Cilley...

 noted in his journal: "The nests are destroyed, but the birds are still on the wing."

Background


When the American Revolutionary War began, British officials as well as the colonial Continental Congress
Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution....

 sought the allegiance (or at least the neutrality) of the influential Iroquois Confederacy. The Six Nations divided over what course to pursue. Most Mohawk
Mohawk nation
Mohawk are the most easterly tribe of the Iroquois confederation. They call themselves Kanien'gehaga, people of the place of the flint...

s, Cayuga
Cayuga nation
The Cayuga people was one of the five original constituents of the Haudenosaunee , a confederacy of American Indians in New York. The Cayuga homeland lay in the Finger Lakes region along Cayuga Lake, between their league neighbors, the Onondaga to the east and the Seneca to the west...

s, Onondaga
Onondaga (tribe)
The Onondaga are one of the original five constituent nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. Their traditional homeland is in and around Onondaga County, New York...

s, and Senecas chose to ally themselves with the British. But the Oneida
Oneida tribe
The Oneida are a Native American/First Nations people and are one of the five founding nations of the Iroquois Confederacy in the area of upstate New York...

s and Tuscarora
Tuscarora (tribe)
The Tuscarora are a Native American people of the Iroquoian-language family, with members in New York, Canada, and North Carolina...

s, thanks in part to the influence of Presbyterian missionary
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 Samuel Kirkland
Samuel Kirkland
Rev. Samuel Kirkland was a Presbyterian missionary among the Oneida and Tuscarora people in North America. Kirkland graduated from Princeton in 1765. On September 20, 1769, Samuel Kirkland married Jerusha Bingham in Windham, Connecticut...

, joined the American revolutionaries. For the Iroquois, the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 became a civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

.

The Iroquois homeland lay on the frontier between British Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and the American colonies. After a British army surrendered at Saratoga
Battle of Saratoga
The Battles of Saratoga conclusively decided the fate of British General John Burgoyne's army in the American War of Independence and are generally regarded as a turning point in the war. The battles were fought eighteen days apart on the same ground, south of Saratoga, New York...

 in upstate New York in 1777, Loyalists and their Iroquois allies raided American Patriot
Patriot (American Revolution)
Patriots is a name often used to describe the colonists of the British Thirteen United Colonies who rebelled against British control during the American Revolution. It was their leading figures who, in July 1776, declared the United States of America an independent nation...

 settlements in the region, as well as the villages of American-allied Iroquois. Working out of Fort Niagara
Fort Niagara
Fort Niagara is a fortification originally built to protect the interests of New France in North America. It is located near Youngstown, New York, on the eastern bank of the Niagara River at its mouth, on Lake Ontario.-Origin:...

, men such as Loyalist commander Colonel John Butler
John Butler (pioneer)
John Butler was a Loyalist who led an irregular militia unit known as Butler's Rangers on the northern frontier in the American Revolutionary War. He led Seneca and Cayuga forces in the Saratoga campaign. He later raised and commanded a regiment of rangers.-Background:John was born to Walter...

, Sayenqueraghta, Mohawk military leader Joseph Brant
Joseph Brant
Thayendanegea or Joseph Brant was a Mohawk military and political leader, based in present-day New York, who was closely associated with Great Britain during and after the American Revolution. He was perhaps the most well-known American Indian of his generation...

, and Seneca chief Cornplanter
Cornplanter
Gaiänt'wakê was a Seneca war-chief. He was the son of a Seneca mother, Aliquipiso, and a Dutch father, Johannes Abeel. He also carried the name John Abeel after his fur trader father...

 led the British-Indian raids. Commander-in-chief General George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 never provided any substantial regular army troops for the defense of the frontier and he told the frontier settlements to use local militia for their own defense.

On June 10, 1778, the Board of War of the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution....

 concluded that a major Indian war was in the offing. Since a defensive war would prove to be inadequate the board called for a major expedition of three thousand men against Fort Detroit
Fort Detroit
Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit or Fort Détroit was a fort established by the French officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac in 1701. The location of the former fort is now in the city of Detroit in the U.S...

 and a similar thrust into Seneca country to punish the Iroquois. Congress designated Major General Horatio Gates
Horatio Gates
Horatio Lloyd Gates was a retired British soldier who served as an American general during the Revolutionary War. He took credit for the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga – Benedict Arnold, who led the attack, was finally forced from the field when he was shot in the leg – and...

 to lead the campaign and appropriated funds for the campaign. In spite of these plans, the expedition did not occur until the following year.

On July 3, 1778, Colonel Butler led his Rangers
Butler's Rangers
Butler's Rangers was a British provincial regiment composed of Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War, raised by Loyalist John Butler.Most members of the regiment were Loyalists from upstate New York...

 with a force of Senecas and Cayugas (led by Sayenqueraghta) in an attack on Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

's Wyoming Valley (a rebel granary and settlement along the Susquehanna River
Susquehanna River
The Susquehanna River is a river located in the northeastern United States. At long, it is the longest river on the American east coast that drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and with its watershed it is the 16th largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the continental United...

 near present Wilkes-Barre), practically annihilating 360 armed Patriot defenders lured out of their defenses at Forty Fort
Forty Fort
Forty Fort was a stronghold built by settlers from Connecticut on the Susquehanna River in Westmoreland County, Connecticut, now Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.It was a place of refuge for displaced settlers during the Battle of Wyoming in 1778....

.

In September, 1778, revenge for the Wyoming defeat was taken by American Colonel Thomas Hartley who, with 200 soldiers, burned nine to twelve Seneca, Delaware and Mingo villages along the Susquehanna River in northeast Pennsylvania, including Tioga
Athens, Pennsylvania
Athens is a borough in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, two miles south of the N. Y. State line on the Susquehanna and Chemung rivers. Population in 1900, 3,749; and in 1910, 3,796. The population was 3,415 at the 2000 census...

 and Chemung
Chemung
Chemung may refer to:In New York*Chemung Canal, a former canal connecting Seneca Lake at Watkins Glen to the Chemung River at Elmira*Chemung Canal Trust Company, a New York State chartered trust company based in Elmira*Chemung County, New York...

. At the same time, Butler's Rangers
Butler's Rangers
Butler's Rangers was a British provincial regiment composed of Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War, raised by Loyalist John Butler.Most members of the regiment were Loyalists from upstate New York...

 attacked German Flatts
Attack on German Flatts (1778)
On September 17, 1778, during the American Revolutionary War, a force of Loyalists and Iroquois made an attack on German Flatts, New York .-Prelude:...

 in the Mohawk Valley, destroying all the houses and fields in the area. Further American retaliation was soon taken by Continental army units under William Butler (no relation to John Butler) and John Cantine, burning the substantial Indian villages at Unadilla and Onoquaga on the Susquehanna River.

On November 11, 1778, Loyalist Captain Walter Butler
Walter Butler (Loyalist)
Walter Butler was a British Loyalist officer during the American Revolution. He was born near Johns town, New York, the son of John Butler, a wealthy Indian agent who worked for Sir William Johnson...

 (the son of John Butler) led two companies of Butler's Rangers along with about 320 Iroquois led by Cornplanter
Cornplanter
Gaiänt'wakê was a Seneca war-chief. He was the son of a Seneca mother, Aliquipiso, and a Dutch father, Johannes Abeel. He also carried the name John Abeel after his fur trader father...

, including 30 Mohawks led by Joseph Brant
Joseph Brant
Thayendanegea or Joseph Brant was a Mohawk military and political leader, based in present-day New York, who was closely associated with Great Britain during and after the American Revolution. He was perhaps the most well-known American Indian of his generation...

, on an assault at Cherry Valley
Cherry Valley (town), New York
Cherry Valley is a town in Otsego County, New York, USA. The population was 1,266 at the 2000 census.Within the Town of Cherry Valley is a village, also called Cherry Valley...

 in New York. While the fort was surrounded, Indians began to massacre civilians in the village, killing and scalping 16 soldiers and 32 civilians, mostly women and children, and taking 80 captive, half of whom were never returned. In vain, Brant, who was blamed for the attack, actually tried to stop the rampage. The town was plundered and destroyed.

The Cherry Valley Massacre
Cherry Valley massacre
The Cherry Valley Massacre was an attack by British and Seneca forces on a fort and the village of Cherry Valley in eastern New York on the cold, snowy and rainy morning of November 11, 1778, during the American Revolutionary War. It has been described as one of the most horrific frontier...

 made it clear to the American revolutionaries that something needed to be done on the New York frontier. When the British began to concentrate their military efforts on the southern colonies in 1779, Washington used the opportunity to launch the planned offensive towards Fort Niagara. His initial impulse was to assign the expedition to Major General Charles Lee
Charles Lee (general)
Charles Lee was a British soldier who later served as a General of the Continental Army during the American War of Independence. Lee served in the British army during the Seven Years War. After the war he sold his commission and served for a time in the Polish army of King Stanislaus II...

, but he, Major General Philip Schuyler
Philip Schuyler
Philip John Schuyler was a general in the American Revolution and a United States Senator from New York. He is usually known as Philip Schuyler, while his son is usually known as Philip J. Schuyler.-Early life:...

, and Major General Israel Putnam
Israel Putnam
Israel Putnam was an American army general and Freemason who fought with distinction at the Battle of Bunker Hill during the American Revolutionary War...

 were all disregarded for various reasons. Washington first offered command of the expedition to Horatio Gates
Horatio Gates
Horatio Lloyd Gates was a retired British soldier who served as an American general during the Revolutionary War. He took credit for the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga – Benedict Arnold, who led the attack, was finally forced from the field when he was shot in the leg – and...

, the "Hero of Saratoga," but Gates turned down the offer, ostensibly for health reasons. Major General John Sullivan
John Sullivan
John Sullivan was the third son of Irish immigrants, a United States general in the Revolutionary War, a delegate in the Continental Congress and a United States federal judge....

, fifth on the seniority list, was then offered command on March 6, 1779, and accepted. Washington's orders to Sullivan made it clear that he wanted the Iroquois threat completely eliminated:
Orders of George Washington to General John Sullivan, at Head-Quarters May 31, 1779

The Expedition you are appointed to command is to be directed against the hostile tribes of the Six Nations of Indians, with their associates and adherents. The immediate objects are the total destruction and devastation of their settlements, and the capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex as possible. It will be essential to ruin their crops now in the ground and prevent their planting more.

I would recommend, that some post in the center of the Indian Country, should be occupied with all expedition, with a sufficient quantity of provisions whence parties should be detached to lay waste all the settlements around, with instructions to do it in the most effectual manner, that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed.

But you will not by any means listen to any overture of peace before the total ruinment of their settlements is effected. Our future security will be in their inability to injure us and in the terror with which the severity of the chastisement they receive will inspire them.

Expedition


Washington instructed Gen. Sullivan and three brigades to march from Easton, Pennsylvania
Easton, Pennsylvania
Easton is a city in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 26,800 as of the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Northampton County....

 to the Susquehanna River
Susquehanna River
The Susquehanna River is a river located in the northeastern United States. At long, it is the longest river on the American east coast that drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and with its watershed it is the 16th largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the continental United...

 in central Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 and to follow the river upstream to Tioga, now known as Athens, Pennsylvania
Athens, Pennsylvania
Athens is a borough in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, two miles south of the N. Y. State line on the Susquehanna and Chemung rivers. Population in 1900, 3,749; and in 1910, 3,796. The population was 3,415 at the 2000 census...

. He ordered Gen. Clinton to assemble a fourth brigade at Schenectady, New York
Schenectady, New York
Schenectady is a city in Schenectady County, New York, United States, of which it is the county seat. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 66,135...

, move westward up the Mohawk Valley
Mohawk River
The Mohawk River is a river in the U.S. state of New York. It is the largest tributary of the Hudson River. The Mohawk flows into the Hudson in the Capital District, a few miles north of the city of Albany. The river is named for the Mohawk Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy...

 to Canajoharie
Canajoharie, New York
Canajoharie, New York may refer to:* Canajoharie , New York* Canajoharie , New York...

, and cross overland to Otsego Lake as a staging point. When Sullivan so ordered, Clinton's New York Brigade was to march down the Susquehanna to meet Sullivan at Tioga, destroying all Indian villages on his route. Sullivan's army was to have totaled 5,000 men, but his Pennsylvania brigade entered the campaign more than 750 men short, and promised enlistments never materialized. In addition, the third regiment of the brigade, the German Battalion, had shrunk by casualties, sickness, and desertion (the three-year term of enlistment of its soldiers had expired on June 27) to only 100 men, and was parceled out in 25-man companies as flank protection for the expedition. Armand's Legion
Armand's Legion
Armand's Legion was formed on June 25, 1778 at Boston, Massachusetts under the command of Colonel Charles Armand Tuffin for service with the Continental Army. The Legion was recruited primarily from foreign volunteers to the American Revolution. It was reorganized and renamed the 1st Partisan Corps...

 was recalled by Washington to the Main Army before the campaign began. Because of these and other shortages, Sullivan's army, including two companies of local militia totalling only 70 men, never exceeded 4,000 troops.

The main army left Easton on June 18, marching 58 miles to an encampment on the Bullock farm in the Wyoming Valley, which he reached on June 23. There he awaited provisions and supplies that had not been sent forward, remaining in the Wyoming Valley until July 31. His force marched slowly, paced by both the mountainous terrain and the flatboats carrying the army's supplies up the Susequehanna, and arrived at Tioga on August 11. They began construction of a temporary fort at the confluence of the Chemung
Chemung River
The Chemung River is a tributary of the Susquehanna River, approximately long, in south central New York and northern Pennsylvania in the United States. It drains a mountainous region of the northern Allegheny Plateau in the Southern Tier of New York...

 and Susquehanna River
Susquehanna River
The Susquehanna River is a river located in the northeastern United States. At long, it is the longest river on the American east coast that drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and with its watershed it is the 16th largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the continental United...

s they called Fort Sullivan.

Sullivan sent one of his guides, Lt. John Jenkins, who had been captured while surveying the area in November 1777, with a scouting party to reconnoiter Chemung. He reported that the village was active and unaware of his presence. Sullivan marched the greater part of the army all night over two high defiles and attacked out of a thick fog just after dawn only to find the town deserted. Brig. Gen. Edward Hand
Edward Hand
-Early life and career:Hand was born in Clyduff, King's County, Ireland January 10, 1742, and was baptised in Shinrone. His father was John Hand. Among his immediate neighbours were the Kearney family, ancestors of U.S. President Barack Obamba [1]...

 reported a small force fleeing towards Newtown and received permission to pursue. Despite flankers, he had gone only a mile when his advance guard was ambushed with six dead and nine wounded. The entire brigade assaulted but the ambushers escaped with minimal if any casualties. Sullivan's men spent the day burning the town and destroyed all of its grain and vegetable crops. During the afternoon the 1st New Hampshire Regiment
1st New Hampshire Regiment
The 1st New Hampshire Regiment was an infantry unit that came into existence on 22 May 1775 at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. John Stark was the regiment's first commander. The unit fought at Chelsea Creek and Bunker Hill in 1775. On 1 January 1776, while engaged in the Siege of...

 of Poor's brigade was fired on, either from ambush or possibly by fire from other troops, inflicting another soldier killed and five wounded. Ambushes also occurred on August 15 and August 17, with combined casualties of 2 killed and 2 wounded. On August 23 the accidental discharge of a rifle in camp resulted in one Captain killed and one man wounded.

After two-week's portage
Portage
Portage or portaging refers to the practice of carrying watercraft or cargo over land to avoid river obstacles, or between two bodies of water. A place where this carrying occurs is also called a portage; a person doing the carrying is called a porter.The English word portage is derived from the...

 of supplies, Clinton's brigade set up camp at the south end of Otsego Lake (now Cooperstown, New York
Cooperstown, New York
Cooperstown is a village in Otsego County, New York, USA. It is located in the Town of Otsego. The population was estimated to be 1,852 at the 2010 census.The Village of Cooperstown is the county seat of Otsego County, New York...

) on June 30, where he waited for orders that did not arrive until August 6. The next day he began his destructive march of 154 miles to Tioga along the upper Susquehanna, taking all of his supplies with him in 250 bateaux. The actions at Chemung made Sullivan suspicious that the Iroquois might be trying to defeat his split forces in detail, and the next day he sent 1084 picked men under Brig. Gen. Enoch Poor
Enoch Poor
Enoch Poor was a brigadier general in the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. He was a ship builder and merchant from Exeter, New Hampshire.-Biography:...

 north to locate Clinton and escort him to Fort Sullivan. The entire army assembled on August 22.

On August 26, the combined army of approximately 3,200 men and 250 pack horse teamsters left Fort Sullivan, garrisoned by 300 troops taken from across the army and left behind under Col. Israel Shreve
Israel Shreve
Israel Shreve was a colonel in the 2nd New Jersey Regiment during the American Revolution. He fought at the Battle of Springfield....

 of the 2nd New Jersey Regiment
2nd New Jersey Regiment
The 2nd New Jersey Regiment was raised, on 9 October 1775, at Trenton, New Jersey, for service with the Continental Army under the command of Colonel William Maxwell...

. Marching slowly north into the Six Nations territory in central western New York, the campaign had only one major battle, the Battle of Newtown
Battle of Newtown
The Battle of Newtown , also known as the Battle of Chemung, was the only major battle of the Sullivan Expedition, an armed offensive led by General John Sullivan that was ordered by the Continental Congress to end the threat of the Iroquois who had sided with the British in the American...

, fought on August 29. It was a complete victory for the Continental Army
Continental Army
The Continental Army was formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in...

. Later a 25-man detachment of the Continental Army was ambushed, and all but five captured and killed at the Boyd and Parker ambush
Boyd and Parker ambush
The Boyd and Parker ambush was a minor military engagement in Groveland, New York on September 13, 1779, during the American Revolutionary War...

. On September 1 Captain John Combs died of an illness.

Sullivan's forces reached their deepest penetration at the Seneca
Seneca nation
The Seneca are a group of indigenous people native to North America. They were the nation located farthest to the west within the Six Nations or Iroquois League in New York before the American Revolution. While exact population figures are unknown, approximately 15,000 to 25,000 Seneca live in...

 town of Chenussio (also called Little Beard's town
Little Beard's Town
Little Beard's Town, also known as Chenussio and "Genesee Castle", was a powerful Seneca town in the Genesee River Valley near modern Leicester in Livingston County, New York, where Cuylerville stands today. It was named after its founder, Little Beard, a prominent Seneca sachem in the late 18th...

, Beardstown, Chinefee, Genesee, and Geneseo), near the present Cuylerville, New York
Cuylerville, New York
Cuylerville is a hamlet in Livingston County, New York.The latitude of Cuylerville is 42.776N. The longitude is -77.871W.The community was named for William Cuyler....

, on September 15, inflicting total destruction on the Iroquois villages before returning to Fort Sullivan at the end of the month. Three days later the army abandoned the fort to return to Morristown, New Jersey, and go into winter quarters. By Sullivan's account, forty of the Iroquois villages were destroyed, including Catherine's Town
Catherine's Town (Seneca town)
Catherine's Town was an Iroquois town named for the Seneca leader Catherine Montour. It was located at the south end of Seneca Lake, near present-day Watkins Glen...

, Goiogouen
Goiogouen
Goiogouen , was a major village of the Cayuga nation of Iroquois Indians in west-central New York State...

, Chonodote
Chonodote
Chonodote was an 18th-century village of the Cayuga nation of Iroquois Indians in what is now upstate New York, USA. It was located about four and a half miles south of Goiogouen, on the east side of Cayuga Lake...

, and Kanadaseaga
Kanadaseaga
Kanadaseaga , was a major village of the Seneca nation of the Iroquois Confederacy in west-central New York State, United States. It was located between the northern ends of Seneca Lake and Canandaigua Lake, west of the present-day city of Geneva, New York, in the township of Seneca...

, along with all the crops and orchards of the Iroquois.

Appointed the British governor of Quebec in 1778, Frederick Haldimand
Frederick Haldimand
Sir Frederick Haldimand, KB was a military officer best known for his service in the British Army in North America during the Seven Years' War and the American Revolutionary War...

, while kept informed of Sullivan's invasion by Butler and Ft. Niagara, did not supply sufficient troops for his Iroquois allies' defense. Late in September, he dispatched a force of about 600 Loyalists and Canadian Iroquois, but by then the expedition had successfully ended.

Brodhead's expedition


Further west, a concurrent expedition was undertaken by Colonel Daniel Brodhead
Daniel Brodhead IV
Daniel Brodhead IV was an American military and political leader during the American Revolutionary War and early days of the United States.-Early life:...

. Brodhead left Fort Pitt
Fort Pitt (Pennsylvania)
Fort Pitt was a fort built at the location of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.-French and Indian War:The fort was built from 1759 to 1761 during the French and Indian War , next to the site of former Fort Duquesne, at the confluence the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River...

 on August 14, 1779, with a contingent of 600 men, regulars of his 8th Pennsylvania Regiment
8th Pennsylvania Regiment
The 8th Pennsylvania Regiment was authorized by the Continental Congress on 11 July 1776 as part of the Continental Army for frontier defense in the Northern Department during the American Revolutionary War...

 and militia, marching up the Allegheny River
Allegheny River
The Allegheny River is a principal tributary of the Ohio River; it is located in the Eastern United States. The Allegheny River joins with the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River at the "Point" of Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...

 into the Seneca and Munsee
Lenape
The Lenape are an Algonquian group of Native Americans of the Northeastern Woodlands. They are also called Delaware Indians. As a result of the American Revolutionary War and later Indian removals from the eastern United States, today the main groups live in Canada, where they are enrolled in the...

 country of northwestern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York. Since most native warriors were away to confront Sullivan's army, Brodhead met little resistance and destroyed about 10 villages, including Conewango
Conewango Township, Pennsylvania
Conewango Township is a township in Warren County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 3,915 at the 2000 census.-Geography:According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of , of which, of it is land and of it is water.-Demographics:As of the census of...

. Although initial plans called for Brodhead to eventually link up with Sullivan at Chenussio for an attack against Fort Niagara
Fort Niagara
Fort Niagara is a fortification originally built to protect the interests of New France in North America. It is located near Youngstown, New York, on the eastern bank of the Niagara River at its mouth, on Lake Ontario.-Origin:...

, Brodhead turned back after destroying villages near modern day Salamanca, New York, never linking up with the main force. Washington's letters indicate that the cross-country trek east to the Finger Lakes
Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes are a pattern of lakes in the west-central section of Upstate New York in the United States. They are a popular tourist destination. The lakes are long and thin , each oriented roughly on a north-south axis. The two longest, Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake, are among the deepest in...

 region was considered too dangerous, limiting this smaller expedition to a raid north.

Teantontalago


The final operation of the campaign occurred September 27. Sullivan sent a portion of Clinton's brigade directly back to winter quarters by way of Fort Stanwix
Fort Stanwix
Fort Stanwix was a colonial fort whose construction was started on August 26, 1758, by British General John Stanwix, at the location of present-day Rome, New York, but was not completed until about 1762. The fort guarded a portage known as the Oneida Carrying Place during the French and Indian War...

, under Colonel Peter Gansevoort
Peter Gansevoort
Peter Gansevoort was a Colonel in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He is best known for leading the resistance to Barry St. Leger's Siege of Fort Stanwix in 1777. Gansevoort was also the maternal grandfather of Moby-Dick author Herman Melville.-Early life:He was born...

 of the 3rd New York Regiment
3rd New York Regiment
The 3rd New York Regiment was authorized May 25, 1775 and organized from June 28 to August 4 from the counties of Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, and Suffolk under the command of Colonel James Clinton for five months service in Canada. The enlistments of the first establishment ended on December 31,...

. Two days after leaving Stanwix, near their origination point of Schenectady, the detachment stopped at Teantontalago
Fort Hunter, New York
Fort Hunter is a hamlet in the town of Florida in Montgomery County, New York, on the Mohawk River at Schoharie Creek.In the 18th century, Fort Hunter was built as a fort near the location of one of the two primary Mohawk settlements. The Mohawk name for the village was rendered variously in...

, the "Lower Mohawk Castle" (also known as Thienderego, Tionondorage and Tiononderoga) and carried out orders to arrest every male Mohawk. Gansevoort wrote "It is remarked that the Indians live much better than most of the Mohawk River farmers, their houses [being] very well furnished with all [the] necessary household utensils, great plenty of grain, several horses, cows, and wagons". The male population was incarcerated at Albany until 1780 and then released.

The action dispossessed the Mohawks of their homes. Local white settlers, homeless after Iroquois raids, asked Gansevoort to turn the homes over to them. Both actions were criticized by Philip Schuyler
Philip Schuyler
Philip John Schuyler was a general in the American Revolution and a United States Senator from New York. He is usually known as Philip Schuyler, while his son is usually known as Philip J. Schuyler.-Early life:...

, then a New York representative to the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution....

, because all the Mohawks of Lower Mohawk castle had rejected fighting with the British, and many supported the Patriot cause. Ironically, Schuyler had been Washington's personal preference for command of the expedition, but his relief of command of the Continental Army's Northern Department had led to private service with the army until he could resign his commission, which he did in April 1779.

Aftermath



Sullivan, whose illness had slowed the expedition at times, resigned his commission in 1780 when his health continued to worsen.
Historians disagree as to whether an Iroquois nickname for Washington, "Town Destroyer
Town Destroyer
Town Destroyer, also translated as Town Taker, Burner of Towns, or Devourer of Villages, was a nickname given to George Washington by Iroquois Indians...

", originates from this expedition.

The devastation created great hardships for the more than 5,000 Iroquois refugees that winter, and many starved or froze to death. But that this was not entirely because of the expedition can be seen as John Butler
John Butler (pioneer)
John Butler was a Loyalist who led an irregular militia unit known as Butler's Rangers on the northern frontier in the American Revolutionary War. He led Seneca and Cayuga forces in the Saratoga campaign. He later raised and commanded a regiment of rangers.-Background:John was born to Walter...

 wrote: "The Indians in this part of the Country are so ill off for Provisions that many have nothing to subsist upon but the roots and greens they gather in the woods" in May, 1778 – i.e., before the expedition. Fearing attack, many Tuscarora
Tuscarora (tribe)
The Tuscarora are a Native American people of the Iroquoian-language family, with members in New York, Canada, and North Carolina...

 and Oneida
Oneida tribe
The Oneida are a Native American/First Nations people and are one of the five founding nations of the Iroquois Confederacy in the area of upstate New York...

 defected to the British cause.

In February, 1780, former general Schuyler, now in the Congress, sent a party of pro-rebellion Indians to Fort Niagara
Fort Niagara
Fort Niagara is a fortification originally built to protect the interests of New France in North America. It is located near Youngstown, New York, on the eastern bank of the Niagara River at its mouth, on Lake Ontario.-Origin:...

 to appeal for peace with the British-allied Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

. Suspecting a trick by Schuyler, those Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

 rejected the proposal. The four messengers were imprisoned where one of them died.

Despite widespread dispersion, Washington was disappointed by the lack of a decisive battle and the failure to capture Fort Niagara. Iroquois warriors and Loyalists continued to periodically raid the Mohawk and Schoharie Valleys during 1780 and 1781, causing widespread devastation of property and crops, and killing more than 200 settlers. The destruction of Minden
Minden, New York
Minden is a town in Montgomery County, New York, United States. The population was 4,297 at the 2010 census. The town is located at the western edge of the county. It has possessed a post office from 1802 to 1903.- History :...

 on August 2, 1780, was the most destructive raid in the course of the four-year civil war. The last significant raid devastated a 20-mile swath of the lower Mohawk Valley in October 1781, but was defeated at the Battle of Johnstown
Battle of Johnstown
The Battle of Johnstown was fought in Johnstown, New York. It was one of the last battles in the American theatre of the American Revolutionary War, with approximately 1400 engaged at Johnstown on October 25, 1781...

 on October 25, 1781. Walter Butler was killed in battle on October 30 at West Canada Creek
West Canada Creek
West Canada Creek is a river in upstate New York, USA. West Canada Creek drains the south part of the Adirondack Mountains and empties into the Mohawk River near the Village of Herkimer...

 during the Tory retreat.

Even so, the homelands and infrastructure of Iroquois life had been devastated by the campaign. In the long term, it became clear that the expedition broke the Iroquois Confederacy's power to maintain their former crops and utilize many town locations; the expedition appeared to have caused little more than famine and dispersion of the Iroquois people. Following the war, much of the Iroquois land would be secured in the peace Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1784)
Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1784)
The Treaty of Fort Stanwix was a treaty signed in October 1784 at Fort Stanwix, located in present-day Rome, New York, between the United States and Native Americans...

, later to be absorbed by controversial treaties with the State of New York. Much of its native population would move to Canada, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. In the wake of the Treaty of Paris (1783), European-Americans began settling the newly vacant areas in relative safety, eventually isolating the remaining pockets of demoralized Iroquois into villages and towns cut off under controversial land treaties with New York State.

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