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enterprise, and the sooner to reduce the hostile täibes to submission, another was resolved on from the Mohawk river, into the country of the Senecas. Major-general Gates, or the officer commanding on the east of the Hudson, was desired to take measures to carry this resolution into execution ; and the commissioners for Indian affairs at Albany were directed to co-operate with him.
Unfortunately, the acts of the government did not correspond with the vigour of its resolutions. Expeditions to be carried on principally by militia, through the agency of distinct governments, can seldom receive that promptitude and energy
in their execution, which will ensure thein success. The necessary preparations were not made, and the inhabitants of the frontiers remained insuffi. ciently protected, till the plans against them were matured, and the storm which had been long gathering burst upon them with a fury which spread desolation wherever it reached.
The scene of greatest misery and suffering was Wyoming. This is a tract of country lying on both sides of the Susquehannah, which was claimed by Connecticut and Pennsylvania; and was settled by emigrants from the former of those states, who were said to have purchased the land from the Indian proprietors. This settlement, which had flourished in a remarkable degree, contained upwards of a thousand families; and had furnished,
it is said, nearly that number of soldiers to the continental army, besides garrisons for the forts they had erected in their country for their own security. Unfortunately, they had not been exempted from those political divisions, which, carried to an excess, poison the source of all human felicity, destroy those sweet affections which attach members of the same family to each other, and plant the most deadly hate where nature or early habits had sown the seeds of harmony and love.
While the great body of the settlement joined their countrymen in the existing contest, and manifested a degree of zeal equal to that which was displayed in any other part of the union, some few adhered to the royal cause. Encouraged by their distance from the military force of the nation, and stimulated perhaps by their neighbours in Canada, they did not conceal their motives or their objects; and having experienced what they deemed severity, many of them were induced at an early period of the war to take refuge among the neighbouring Indians, or at the posts occupied by the British. Their numbers gradually increased, and their resentments sustained no diminution. At their head was a Colonel John Butler, the cousin of Colonel Zebulon Butler, the gentleman who was first in command in the militia of Wyoming.
The commencement of the year had furnished numerous indications of hostile designs on the
of the Indians ; but, as the time approached when the great blow they meditated was to be given, the cunning policy of increasing its effect by lull. ing into security those against whom it was to be directed, was successfuily resorted to. Several messengers came in from the hostile tribes, charged with assurances of their peaceful dispositions; and Butler himelf, in a numerous assemblage of savages, declared in their peculiar language, that he was about to withdraw to Detroit, “ his hand being too short to do any thing this year.” Their designs however were penetrated ; and it is said that letters were dispatched to Congress, and to the General, stating the dangers which threatened that frontier. These letters were unfortunately intercepted by the tories of Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, the inhabitants, for their security, took refuge in their forts.
On the first of July, a body supposed to be nearly sixteen hundred strong, composed of about three hundred Indians led by their own chiefs, and a number of tories painted like Indians under the command of Colonel John Butler, broke into the Wyoming settlement, and obtained easy possession of one of the two upper forts; which being garrisoned, as is alleged, chiefly by concealed tories, was delivered up without opposition. The other was taken. The two principal forts, Kingston and Wilkes
borough, were near each other, on opposite sides of the river. Colonel Zebulon Butler marched into Kingston with the greatest part of the armed force ofthecountry,anda number of women and children took refuge in the same place. After rejecting a summons to surrender, he proposed a parley, and a place at some distance from the fort was agreed on for a mecting of the chiefs. He marched out with four hundred men to the place appointed, where no person was found on the part of the enemy; but at a still greater distance from the fort, at the foot of a mountain, a flag was exhibited, which retired as he approached, as if apprehensive of danger from the Americans. Colonel Butler continued to advance till he found himself almost enveloped by the enemy, who rose and fired on him. Notwithstanding the effect to be expected from such circumstances, his troops displayed such a degree of firmness, and acquitted them. selves with so much resolution, that the advantage was rather on their side; when a soldier, either through treachery or cowardice, cried out, “ The Colonel has ordered a retreat." Immediate con. fusion was succeeded by a total rout. The troops fed towards the river, which they endeavoured to pass, in order to enter Fort Wilkesborough. The enemy pursued “ with the fury of devils ;” and of the four hundred who had marched out on this unfartunate parley, only about twenty es
caped. Fort Kingston was immediately invested; and, to increase the terror of the garrison, and impress on them the horrors of their situation, the green and bleeding scalps of their murdered countrymen were sent in for their inspection.
Colonel Zebulon Butler having withdrawn himself and his family down the river, Colonel Dennison, the commanding officer, went out with a flag to enquire of the officer commanding the besiegers, what terms would be allowed the garrison, on surrendering the fort? Uniting to Spartan brevity more than cannibal ferocity, this tutored savage answered in two words—“The hatchet.”*
Having lost great part of his garrison, being unable to hold out longer, and not supposing it possible that the unresisting could be coolly and deliberately massacred, Colonel Dennison surrendered at discretion. He misunderstood the character of those into whose hands he had fallen. The threat of Butler was executed with scrupulous punctuality. After selecting a few prisoners, the great body of the people in the fort were inclosed in the houses, fire was applied to them, and they were consumed together.t
Butler then passed over to Wilkesborough, which was surrendered without resistance. This effort to mollify the revengeful fury which go
* Gordon. Ramsay.