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On motion of Mr. Livingston, “Resolved, That the President be requested to return the thanks of Congress to Major-General Sullivan for his past services.”
Thus was the gallant veteran politely bowed out. Imprudent in expression he may have been, but his meritorious services should have caused a few hasty words to be overlooked, and he should have been generously retained in his command.
It may well be regarded as one of the most extraordinary instances of healthfulness on record, that this army, exceeding three thousand men, (not including General Clinton's brigade) during the summer and autumn, in battle, by accident and sickness, should have suffered so inconsiderable loss. Marshall says: “ The object of the expedition being accomplished, Sullivan returned to Easton, Pennsylvania, having lost only forty men, by sickness and the enemy.
* Note 1.- In taking leave of General Sullivan, it may not be improper to add that he had displayed signal ability in various separate commands, previous to his being selected to direct the northern expedition. He had also been present at the battles of Long Island, Brandywine and Germantown. Immediately after the acceptance of his resignation, he was elected to Congress from New Hampshire; was afterwards President of that State, and a District Judge of the United States, appointed by Washington. Born in 1741, he died January 23, 1795, aged fifty-four years; so that when at Wyoming, he was about thirty-seven
Note 2.-General Edward Hand, whose name has several times occurred in recounting the events of this campaign, as a distinguished Pennsylvanian, demands a further notice. He was from Lancaster county, and high in the confidence of Washington; so much so, that when in 1798--9, he consented to take command of the army being raised to resist the aggressions of France, that great and good man desired the appointment of General Hand as Adjutant General. He was extremely beloved by his men, and served with great usefulness and honour. When peace came he was called frequently hy his fellow citizens, to perform high civil duties. His name is attached to the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1790. The old Wyoming soldiers, speak of his noble horsemanship, and attachment to his generous chargers. He rode a fine active grey; but a sorrel roan, remarkable for lofty carriage and spirited action, was his favourite parade horse. This he sent forward by his servant, the moment he arrived on the return of the army at Tioga-point, to Col. Butler at Wyoming, with a particular request, that he might be recruited against his arrival.
Note 3.-In 1790, Big. Tree, an Indian of the Seneca nation, being one of a delegation at Philadelphia, addressing Gen. Washington, thus feelingly refers to Sullivan's destruction of their settlements. "Father-When your army entered the country of the Six Nations, we called you the Town destroyer ; to this day when your name is hear, our women look behind and turn pale, and our children cling closer to the necks of their mothers.” Big-Tree joined the American army under Wayne, in 1793, but committed suicide.
Barlow, in his Columbiad, referring to the Indian expedition against Wyoming, has these lines :
" His savage hordes, the murderous Johnson leads,
Files through the woods, and treads the tangled weeds ;
“ After the return of General Sullivan,” says Mr. Chapman, "several parties of Indians, stimulated by revenge for the losses they had sustained, continued to range among the mountains of Wyoming, in thirst of vengeance upon the white people, and occasionally caught and tortured, in the most cruel manner, any defenceless individuals that came in their way.”
This paragraph, and a statement of the affair at Nescopeck, where the party under Lieut. Myers was cut off, is all that Mr. C. records of Indian depredations after 1779.
Even that excellent, and generally accurate work, the “ AMERICAN ENCYCLOPEDIA,” so late as 1840, speaking of Sullivan's expedition against the Indians, says, “By this one blow an end was put to their incursions and cruelties."
It will be seen from our annals of the three succeeding years, 1780, · 1781, 1782, that, instead of “ the danger of the Indian wars being in a great measure removed, the inhabitants returned in great numbers to their possessions at Wyoming, where their settlements again flourished,” that, in fact, those three years were rife with Indian invasions, and that Wyoming was almost one continued scene of plunder and captivity-murder, conflagration and woe.
The civil transactions of the year afford few materials for history. The settlers who remained, or returned after the massacre, were generally gathered under the protection of the fort at Wilkesbarre. A mill on the borders of Hanover and Newport, was guarded by a few men, and three or four families ventured to reside in its vicinity. The civil organization was preserved by Col. Denison, and half a dozen citizens. At a town meeting held April ye 12, 1779, Giles Slocum, Christopher Hurlbut, Daniel Ingersoll, Asa Chapman and Joel Strong, were admitted freemen, and took the oath of fidelity to Connecticut; Colonel Nathan Denison, and Deacon John Hurlbut were chosen members of Assembly, to meet at Hartford the following May.
On the 6th of December, 1779, (the army having returned victorious, the enemy chastised, and it was hoped effectually broken and dispersed, hope and confidence being restored,) a town meeting was legally warned, and holden in the town of Westmoreland. Since April 1778, near two years, the entries had been brief, and imper. fectly made in the old records, as if with trembling hand and broken heart. Now the record is full, bold, and beautifully written.
Colonel Nathan Denison was chosen moderator.
Obadiah Gore, town clerk, for the ensuing year. Selectmen, a Town Treasurer, Constables, Surveyors of Highways, Fence-view
ers, Listers, (Assessors) a Tax Collector, Key-keeper, Brander of Horses, and School Committee, were appointed. The special confidence reposed in Col. Denison, may be inferred from his being not only chosen moderator, but treasurer, selectman, and one of the school committee. He was member of Assembly, Justice of the Peace, and Judge of the Court.
The names of James Nesbitt and John Phillips appear among the officers, and are now especially noticed, because April 14, 1843, as I now write, sixty-four years having elapsed since that town meeting, they still live, respected for their usefulness, and beloved for their virtues.
A single incident remains to be noted. Mrs. Bidlack, the mother of Capt. James Bidlack, who was slain in the massacre, applied for the release of her son Benjamin, (now the Rev. Benjamin Bidlack,) who was in the army, he being needed at home for her protection and support. The following neat letter, beautifully written, came to Col. Butler, in reply to her petition.
“ WAR OFFICE, November 1st, 1779. Sır,--The Board have received Mehitible Bidlack's representation of her case, and your certificate thereon, and much as they are inclined to alleviate the distresses of those who have suffered by the war, they cannot grant the petition for the discharge of her son. Her reasons, though very good, are such as thousands can plead, and to admit them as sufficien, would be to depopulate the army.
I am sir, with respect,
BENJAMIN STODERT, Secretary,
1780.--Renewed invasion—Bennet and Hammond taken-Noble exploit-Upson mar
dered— Van Campen, Pike and Rogers taken-Noble exploit and rescue-Town meeting -Civil affairs—Generous donation from Virginia-Good news from Assembly-Mustez Roll-A prize-Capt. John Franklin-Justice's Court-Court martial-News from below .-Death of Capt. Caldwell-Lieut. Lawrence Myers-Fisty miles to mill— Various Incidents—Massacre near Sugarloaf-—Marriage of Capt. Schotts-J. Butler's Rangers-Seven prisoners taken from Shawney--sickly summer-welcome supply of provisions.
The sense of security and repose, so welcome to the wearied settlers after the distressing scenes of the two preceding years, they were not long permitted to cherish. Effectual as the punishment of the Savages seemed, instead of subduing, it only appeared to have exasperated their thirst for revenge, and 1780 was destined to be a year of extreme suffering.
Being confident that Sullivan had left in the whole Indian country nothing for them to subsist upon, it was not doubted but the Savages were necessarily within the British lines at Niagara, beyond striking distance; and the settlers resumed their farming at Kingston, Hanover, and Plymouth, the latter seven miles distant from the Wilkesbarre fort. A few adventured further. The main settlements had block-houses built, in case of attack, wherein to seek shelter and make defence.
In the latter part of March an alarm was given that Indians were in the Valley. On the 27th, Thomas Bennett and his son, a lad, in a field not far from their house, in Kingston, were seized and made prisoners by six Indians. Lebbeus Hammond, who had been captured a few hours before, they found tied as they entered a gorge of the mountain. Hammond had been in the battle, and was then taken prisoner, but had escaped from the fatal ring at bloody rock, where Queen Esther was pursuing her murderous rounds as previously related. He was a prize of more than ordinary value. No
doubt could exist but that he was destined a victim to the cruelest barbarity. The night of the 27th they took up their quarters about twelve miles north from the Valley. The next day, having crossed the river near the three Islands, they pushed on towards Meshoppen with all the speed in their power. While on their march they met two parties of Indians and Tories, descending for murder and pillage upon the settlement. A man by the name of Moses Mount, whom they knew, was particular in his inquiries into the state of the garrison and the situation of the inhabitants. On the evening of the 28th they built a fire, with the aid of Mr. Bennett, who being an old man, was least feared, and permitted to go unbound. To a request from Mr. Bennett, of the Chief, to lend him an awl to put on a button, the Savage, with a significant look replied, “ No want button for one night," and refused his request. The purpose of the Indians could not be mistaken. Whispering to Hammond, while the Indians went to a spring near by, to drink, it was resolved to make an effort to escape. To stay was certain death; they could but die. Tired with their heavy march, after a supper of venison, the Indians lay around the fire, Hammond and the boy tied between them, except an old Indian who was set to keep the first watch. His spear lay by his side, while he picked the meat from the head of a deer, as half sleeping and nodding, he sat over the fire. Bennett was allowed to sit near him, and seemingly in a careless manner, took the spear, and rolled it playfully on his thigh. Watching his opportunity when least on his guard, he thrust the spear through the Indian's side, who fell with a startling groan upon the burning logs. There was not a moment to be lost. Age forgot its decrepitude. In an instant Hammond and young Bennett were cut loose, the arms seized, three of the remaining Savages tomahawked, and slain as they slept, and another wounded. One only escaped unhurt. On the evening of the 30th the captive victors came in with five rifles, a silver mounted hanger, and several spears and blankets, as trophies of their brilliant exploit
Another band of ten Indians, on the same day that Bennett and Hammond were taken, shot Asa Upson in Hanover, (near where the bridge crosses the canal below Carey-Town). On the 28th, two men were making sugar about eight miles below Wilkesbarre, one was killed, the other taken prisoner. On the 29th, Jonah Rogers, a lad of fourteen or fifteen, was taken prisoner from the lower part of the Valley. The Indians then pushed down the river to Fishing Creek, where, on the 30th they surprised the family of the Van Campens. Moses Van Campen was taken prisoner after they had murdered and