William Butler raids Onaquaga and Unadilla

William Butler raids Onaquaga and Unadilla

 

On this day in history, October 8, 1778, William Butler raids Onaquaga and Unadilla, two Iroquois villages used as a base of operations against patriots on New York’s frontier during the American Revolution. Onaquaga and Unadilla were ancient Indian villages, but were some of the most advanced Iroquois cities, complete with "good houses, Square logs, Shingles & stone Chimneys, good Floors, glass windows &c." The two towns had 700 residents between them and even had a grist mill and a saw mill.

 

Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant, who was educated in the colonies and had family ties to the British Superintendent of Indian Affairs, led allied Indian and Loyalist attacks on the frontier during the Revolution. One such attack on German Flatts (modern Herkimer), drew a request from New York’s Governor George Clinton asking George Washington for the use of Continental Army soldiers to retaliate. Washington agreed and Lt. Col. William Butler was given the task of retaliating.

 

In early October, Butler left Fort Schoharie with a mixed force of 267 Continental soldiers and militia. On October 6, the force arrived at Unadilla. Butler’s scouts came back with a prisoner who informed Butler that most of the residents had fled the town, with most going to Onaquaga. Butler sent part of his troops immediately toward Onaquaga, which they reached on the evening of October 8. The soldiers marched into the city, but, like Unadilla, found it abandoned. The residents of both towns had obviously caught wind of the impending attack.

 

Over the course of the next two days, Onaquaga was completely destroyed. More than 40 houses and the saw mill and grist mill were burned to the ground. Livestock was captured and tons of grain were destroyed. After leaving Onaquaga to return to Fort Schoharie, the troops stopped again at Unadilla on the 10th and destroyed it as well. Every building was razed… except for the home of the prisoner who had helped them.

 

Throughout the summer and fall, both sides executed a series of attacks against the villages and settlements of the other. The attacks on Onaquaga and Unadilla, however, outraged the Iroquois more than usual. These two towns were some of their most advanced cities and they were rightly proud of them. The response to their destruction came as a bloody attack on Cherry Valley, New York, in November, where 30 settlers and 14 soldiers were killed, including many women and children who were butchered.

 

The Cherry Valley Massacre, as it came to be called, brought down the full wrath of the Continental Congress, which authorized an expedition to wipe out the Iroquois presence in New York. The Sullivan Expedition was sent to complete this mission the following year. The expedition wiped out dozens of Iroquois villages and destroyed all their crops for the following winter, leading to mass starvation and a mass migration to Quebec where the Indians found solace with their British allies. Even to this day, Iroquois descendants live on reservations created for them when they migrated to Canada after their ancestral towns were destroyed during the Sullivan Expedition.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com    

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“No power was given to Congress to infringe on any one of the natural rights of the people.”
Theophilus Parsons,
Massachusetts Convention on the ratification of the Constitution, January 23, 1788

The Battle of Kings Mountain

The Battle of Kings Mountain

 

On this day in history, October 7, 1780, the Battle of Kings Mountain turns the tide in the southern campaign of the American Revolution. The patriots in the south had suffered a string of devastating defeats with the fall of Savannah and Charleston, and the capture of two major Continental armies at Charleston and Camden.

 

After taking over most of Georgia and South Carolina, British General Charles Cornwallis marched into North Carolina and set up camp at Charlotte with the intention of taking over the rest of the colony. British Major Patrick Ferguson was placed in charge of traveling inland to raise an army of Loyalist citizens from the backcountry population. Ferguson issued an ultimatum that the rebels should lay down their arms or he would destroy their homes and villages. Patriots in the area, however, would have no such thing.

 

Patriot militia leaders such as James Johnston, John Sevier, Isaac Shelby and William Campbell gathered 1400 men together from Virginia and North Carolina and set off to attack Ferguson and his growing Loyalist army. By the end of September, Ferguson had gathered 1100 Loyalists and his army was growing every day. Ferguson began a retreat back to Cornwallis, however, when he learned of the large patriot army that was gathering against him.

 

Ferguson was in retreat and had requested reinforcements from General Cornwallis, but his intelligence on the patriots' movements was very poor. On October 6, his army reached Kings Mountain, 9 miles south of present day Kings Mountain, North Carolina, just over the South Carolina border. In a classic display of underestimating the Americans, Ferguson set up no perimeter and no defenses. He had no idea the patriot militia was even anywhere near.

 

On the morning of October 7, the patriots rode the last several miles to Kings Mountain and attacked in the afternoon. The battle was a series of skirmishes where the patriots would run up the hills of the mountain and the British would charge down upon them with their bayonets. The militia would run back down the hill because they had no bayonets, then after the charge stopped, the militia would gather again and run back up the hill.

 

The patriots took the Loyalists completely by surprise. In only an hour of fighting, the Loyalists suffered heavy casualties. As they began to surrender, many militia members killed those who were surrendering in revenge for similar atrocities committed earlier at Waxhaws and other places. 290 British soldiers were killed and 163 were wounded. Another 668 were taken prisoners. The patriots had only 29 killed and 58 wounded – an astounding and morale boosting victory.

 

The Battle of Kings Mountain was an extremely pivotal battle of the American Revolution. The battle forced Cornwallis back to South Carolina for the winter. It discouraged Loyalists from joining the British and greatly encouraged the patriots in the south. The following spring, another series of pivotal battles sent the British running to the coast for reinforcements. Unfortunately for them, the place General Cornwallis chose was Yorktown, Virginia, where his entire army would surrender only a year later.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com    

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined." 
Patrick Henry (1778)

The Battle of Forts Montgomery and Clinton

The Battle of Forts Montgomery and Clinton

 

On this day in history, October 6, 1777, the Battle of Forts Montgomery and Clinton are lost by the Americans. 1777 brought about a plan by the British government to split off New England from the rest of the colonies. General John Burgoyne was to march south from Quebec with a large army that would meet another large army at Albany commanded by General William Howe coming up from the south.

 

Burgoyne’s mission was successful at first, but eventually ran into trouble when its long supply lines became unsustainable and his Indian allies abandoned him. Burgoyne became stalled at Saratoga about 30 miles north of Albany, facing an army of 9,000 Americans just to the south.

 

When Burgoyne received word that General Howe had gone to capture Philadelphia instead of coming to Albany, he knew his army was in jeopardy. He wrote to General Henry Clinton, who had been left in charge of New York City in General Howe’s absence, and asked him to send immediate help. Clinton sent 3,000 soldiers up the Hudson on October 3, informing Burgoyne that he would begin an attack at Forts Montgomery and Clinton around the end of the month in hopes of drawing at least some of the Americans away from Burgoyne. By the time Burgoyne received the message, he knew the help would come too late.

 

Fort Montgomery sat on the north ridge of a gorge where the Popolopen Creek empties into the Hudson, while Fort Clinton sat on the south ridge. Both forts guarded a great chain stretched across the river to prevent British ships from sailing upriver

 

On October 6, Clinton landed 2100 soldiers at Stony Point and marched them north toward Fort Clinton. After they engaged a scouting party, the forts were alerted to the British presence. Clinton sent 900 men under Lt. Col. Mungo Campbell to march around the gorge to Fort Montgomery, while the rest waited with General John Vaughn for a simultaneous attack on Fort Clinton.

 

American General George Clinton, who was also the rebel governor of New York and a future vice-president, and his brother, General James Clinton, guarded the two forts with about 700 men, so they were outnumbered 3 to 1. George Clinton sent out men to guard Fort Montgomery from the west. They put up such a strong defense that Campbell’s men took all day to finally reach the fort. When they finally breached the fort, Campbell was killed and the British went on a vicious crusade, killing everyone they could. Governor Clinton and about half the defenders escaped. Meanwhile at Fort Clinton, the Americans put up an equally strong defense. Like Fort Montgomery, Fort Clinton eventually fell. James Clinton and many of his soldiers escaped down the cliff to the river.

 

The Americans lost 75 killed or wounded and 263 captured, while the British had 41 killed and 142 wounded. After the Battles of Fort Montgomery and Fort Clinton, the British broke the chain extending across the river and sailed north for further attacks. Eventually, however, this force was called back to New York in order to send aid to General Howe in Philadelphia. Both forts were burned by the British upon their retreat.

 

In spite of the tactical victory by the British, this mission was ultimately a massive failure because General Burgoyne received no help at Saratoga and was forced to surrender his entire army. This American victory encouraged France to join the war on the American side, ultimately sealing the fate of Great Britain’s hegemony in North America.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com   

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“The present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes.”

Alexander Hamilton (1802)

 

 

Congress informed of Dr. Benjamin Church’s treason

Congress informed of Dr. Benjamin Church’s treason

 

On this day in history, October 5, 1775, Congress is informed of Dr. Benjamin Church’s treason. Dr. Church was deeply involved in the patriot movement in Boston, having close relations with such people as Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren and John Hancock. The interception of a coded letter to a British soldier revealed that he had been sending intelligence to the British all along.

 

Benjamin Church was born into a prominent Boston family. He studied medicine in London and built a lucrative medical practice in Boston, where he became known as a skilled surgeon. Prior to the Revolution, Church was involved in the Sons of Liberty movement. He nursed several of the wounded after the Boston Massacre and his prominence as a member of the patriot movement grew when he delivered the annual oration on the anniversary of the massacre in 1773.

 

Church was elected to the rebel Provincial Congress in 1774. He became a member of the Committee of Safety, which was charged with the military preparation of the colony. In these positions, Dr. Church was at the heart of the rebel movement, but his treasonous activities went undiscovered. After the Battle of Lexington, Church was seen meeting with British General Thomas Gage in Boston, which aroused suspicion, but Church said he had been detained and then released and the suspicions were put to rest.

 

In July of 1775, Church attempted to send a letter through his mistress to a British Major Cane. The woman asked another of her suitors to take her to certain British officials to deliver the letter, but he refused. She then left the letter with him and asked him to deliver it. The man was suspicious and opened the letter, but it was written in code and he couldn’t read it so he set it aside.

 

Some time later, he received an anxious letter from the woman asking what he had done with the letter. This aroused his suspicion again and he delivered the letter to patriot officials. The letter contained information about American troop strength and positions around Boston, but it had no indication of who wrote it. When the woman was questioned, she disclosed that Dr. Church was the author.

 

On October 4, Washington oversaw a court-martial that found Church guilty of collaborating with the enemy and referred the matter to Congress for judgment. On October 5, Washington wrote to Congress and informed them of Dr. Church’s treason. Congress had Church confined in prison in Connecticut. After some time, he was released due to ill health and was finally allowed to leave the country in 1778. He sailed for the West Indies, but the ship was never heard from again and is presumed to have been lost at sea.

 

The extent of Church’s treason was unknown for generations, but in the early 20th century, General Gage’s records of correspondence were finally opened to the public and numerous letters from Church were discovered. The letters revealed that Church had been delivering sensitive information to Gage for quite some time, earning him a place on the list of America’s most notorious traitors.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com   

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

“A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.”
George Washington, First Annual Address, to both House of Congress (8 January 1790)

The Battle of Germantown

The Battle of Germantown

 

On this day in history, October 4, 1777, the Battle of Germantown is a loss by the Americans. Rather than a psychological loss to the patriots, the battle proves that the Americans can stand up against Great Britain and even encourages European leaders to believe that Great Britain can be defeated.

 

The Battle of Germantown was part of the Philadelphia Campaign, which saw Philadelphia captured by the British on September 26. The Continental Army had suffered defeats trying to protect the city at the Battles of Brandywine and Paoli. After successfully entering the capital, British General William Howe divided his forces, leaving 3,400 in the city and placing the rest of his 9,000 troops north of the city.

 

George Washington decided to take advantage of Howe’s splitting his troops by attacking him at the small town of Germantown, which today is part of Philadelphia, but then was some distance north of the city. Washington planned to attack in the early morning hours of October 4 with four columns of soldiers approaching from different routes.

 

Generals John Sullivan and Nathanael Greene led the two center columns of Continental soldiers, while the two outer columns were made up of militia from various states. The battle began when Sullivan’s column ran into British sentries around 5 am on October 4. The fighting began in heavy fog and the British soldiers were finally overwhelmed and pushed back.

 

Some of these retreating soldiers holed up in the mansion of Pennsylvania’s Chief Justice, Benjamin Chew, which was called Cliveden. Washington decided to attack the house, which turned out to be a disastrous move. An entire brigade was brought to deal with the 120 soldiers in the house, but the defenders managed to hold their ground, inflicting heavy casualties on their American attackers. The stone walls of the house were impervious to American cannon-fire. Valuable time and lives were wasted trying to take the house.

 

Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong at this point. Heavy fog caused some Americans to take the wrong roads; two American brigades fired on each other in the fog; Sullivan’s men who pushed past the Chew mansion were unnerved from the cannon fire coming from behind them. In the fog and confusion, the British began making progress from various directions and the Americans began to retreat, with one entire American regiment surrounded and captured.

 

152 Americans were killed in the Battle of Germantown, including 57 in the attack on the Chew house. Another 1000 were wounded or captured. The British lost 71 dead, with 450 wounded or captured. In spite of the loss at Germantown, the battle had the effect of raising American prospects in the war.

 

European powers were encouraged by the battle. The Americans had suffered some devastating defeats recently, but they still had the courage to face the British. Frederick the Great of Prussia, who was regarded as the top military mind of the age, noted that if these untrained Americans could put up such a fight against the British, just imagine what they could do once they were trained.

 

The Battle of Germantown, along with the American victory at Saratoga, encouraged France to join the war on the American side, turning the American Revolution into a worldwide war. This stretched the British forces out so thin, as they defended their interests globally, that they could not successfully defend the American colonies, eventually forcing them to capitulate to American demands.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com   

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing."
Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

 

On this day in history, October 3, 1789, George Washington issues his Thanksgiving Proclamation, the first such proclamation from the government of the newly formed United States under its new Constitution. Washington issued the proclamation at the request of both houses of Congress, which is interesting considering the modern day belief that the Founders advocated a complete separation of all things religious from the government.

 

In the address, Washington asks Americans to thank God for His blessings, for civil and religious freedom and for His hand in the recently finished war. He also asks them to pray for God's continued favor, prosperity, peace and good government, and that America will always be a nation of "wise, just and constitutional laws." You can read the proclamation below.

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

 

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

 

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

 

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

 

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com   

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"It is necessary for every American, with becoming energy to endeavor to stop the dissemination of principles evidently destructive of the cause for which they have bled." Mercy Otis Warren (1805)

Benedict Arnold passes Norridgewock Falls

Benedict Arnold passes Norridgewock Falls

 

On this day in history, October 2, 1775, Benedict Arnold’s Quebec Expedition passes over Norridgewock Falls at the site of present day Norridgewock, Maine. Arnold’s expedition was part of the Continental Army campaign to capture Canada from the British at the beginning of the American Revolution.

 

Congress approved of the Quebec Campaign in May of 1775 and sent General Philip Schuyler to lead a large American force up Lake Champlain to Montreal and then to the capital, Quebec City. Colonel Benedict Arnold was offended for being overlooked for command of the expedition. He came up with a plan to send an additional force across the wilderness of Maine to take Quebec City from the east. He presented his plan to George Washington and the plan was approved.

 

Arnold left Cambridge with about 1,100 soldiers in September. It was easy to find recruits since the siege of Boston was mostly uneventful and many soldiers were anxious for action. The group was ferried north to the Kennebec River and began sailing up the river in small boats called barques.

 

Arnold had a map of the area that indicated the journey would be about 180 miles. In reality, it was 350 miles over rough terrain and dense evergreen forests, much of which was uninhabited. When falls or rough patches in the rivers and lakes were reached, the troops were forced to carry their boats and supplies. In this manner they moved across the wilderness from river to lake to pond to stream.

 

On October 2, the troops reached Norridgewock Falls, the last inhabited area along the river for hundreds of miles. Beyond this point, there would be no more inhabitants from which to buy food.

 

By the end of October, the expedition’s supplies were running out. Supplies were either eaten or lost in boating accidents on the rough waters. Snow covered the ground, rivers were freezing cold and many were walking on bare feet or with thin moccasins. The men were reduced to eating dogs, shoe leather, bark and candle wax. Many died and others deserted, including a large group of 350 who returned to Massachusetts with Lieutenant Colonel Roger Enos, who was later court-martialed for the departure.

 

By early November, about 600 of the original 1100 arrived at the southernmost French settlements of Quebec and the remaining soldiers were saved from starvation. The expedition continued on toward Quebec and crossed the St. Lawrence River on November 13th. They attempted a siege of the city, but couldn’t keep it up because they were fatigued, outnumbered and without ammunition after it was mostly lost during the trip.

 

Instead, the expedition waited for the arrival of General Richard Montgomery from the south. Montgomery had replaced General Schuyler and successfully captured Montreal. Montgomery and Arnold then attempted to capture Quebec City on the evening of December 31st. The battle ended in failure with Montgomery being killed and Arnold severely wounded. The siege of the city continued until spring, however, when the mission was finally called off and the troops returned to Ticonderoga.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com  

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, an murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

John Adams