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Discontents in a part of the American army--Letter
from General Washington on this subject-Colonel Van Schaick surprises and destroys one of the Indian settlements – Expedition, under General Sullivan, against the Indian settlements -Fort Fayette surrendered to the British— Invasion of ConnecticutGeneral Mayne surprises and takes StonypointExpedition, under Colonel Maclean, against Pinolscot—The British post at Dowtes Hook surprised by Major Lee, and the garrison made prisoners.
THE shocking barbarities practised in the course
of the preceding year, by Indians, united to white men still more savage than Indians, on the inhabitants of the western frontiers, had irresistibly attracted the public attention, and added motives of mingled resentment and humanity to those of national interest, for employing a larger force than had heretofore been spared for the protection of that part of the union.
General Washington, who in the early part of his life had received many practical lessons in the science of Indian warfare, had been always firmly persuaded of the absolute impossibility of defending the immense frontier on the west from their incursions, by any chain of forts which could be erected; and that the country would be much
more certainly protected by offensive than by des fensive war. His plan was to penetrate by a rapid movement into the heart of their settlements, with a force competent to the destruction of their towns, provided the circumstances of the army would justify his making a detachment sufficient for the purpose. As a contingent part of his plan, he had also contemplated the reduction of the British post at Niagara, the possession of which
gave almost irresistible influence over the Six Nations. This plan constituted one of the various subjects of conference with the committee of Congress in Philadelphia, and received the entire approbation of that body:
The state governments also took a strong inte rest in the protection of their western settlements, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, res. pectively applied to Congress, urging the adoption of such vigorous measures as would secure the frontiers against a repetition of the horrors which had been already perpetrated. These papers were referred to the committee appointed to confer with General Washington; in conformity with whose report it was resolved, “ That the commander in chief be directed to take efficient mea, sures for the protection of the inhabitants, and chastisement of the savages.” Other resolutions were passed at the same time for raising companies of rangers, for the sole purpose of serving on the western frontiers.
That extensive and fertile country lying between the then westerfimost settlements of Pennsylvania and New-York, and the great lakes, was occupied by the Six Nations of Indians, who, from their long intercourse with the whites, had made some advances towards acquiring the comforts of civilized life, and had extended their ideas of the advantages of private property beyond those limits which generally bound the views of the savages
of North America.
In their populous villages were to be seen several comfortable houses, and their fertile fields and orchards yielded an abundant supply of corn and fruit. Some few of their towns were attached to the United States; but, in general, they were under the influence of the British, from whose posts on the Lakes they received supplies of blankets, rum, and other imported articles. Many of the loyalists, who had been compelled to fly from the settled parts of the United States, had taken refuge among them, and had added to their strength without diminishing their ferocity. These men found an asylum among the Indians, lived with them in their villages, and joined them in their expeditions against the Americans. They had been active in the incursions of the preceding year, and were believed to be meditating others for the en. suing campaign. Into the heart of these villages of mingled whites and Indians, it was now deter
mined to lead a force which should be certainly sufficient to overpower any numbers they could possibly bring into the field, and to destroy the settlements they had made.
The country was to be entered by three divisions at the same time. The principal body, to consist of about three thousand men, was to march up
the Susquehannah, and to penetrate immediately into the settlements of the Senecas. The second, to be composed of about one thousand, was to proceed by the way of the Mohawk; and the third, which was to be composed of five hundred men, was to move up the Alleghany river, and attack the towns in that quarter.
The only circumstance which, according to any reasonable calculation, could endanger the success of the expedition, would be the arrival of a strong reinforcement from Canada. To prevent this, means were used to inspire that colony with fears for itself. Demonstrations were made of a design to enter Canada by the way of lake Champlain ; and at the same time persons were employed to extend the road from Coos to the Sorel, in order to excite apprehensions from that quarter also. In the mean time, preparations were making for the enterprise really contemplated, and every intelligence was collected which could facilitate its execution. As the army destined for this expedition was
about to move, alarming symptoms of discontent were given by a part of it.
The Jersey brigade had been stationed through the winter at Elizabeth-town, for the purpose of covering the adjacent country from the incursions usually made by the British troops quartered on Staten island. Being destined to compose a part of the western army, it was ordered early in May to march by regiments. In answer to this order, a letter was received from General Maxwell, stating that the officers of the first regiment had delivered to their colonel a remonstrance, addressed to the legislature of the state, declaring, that unless their complaints on the subject of pay and support should obtain the immediate attention of that body, they were, at the expiration of three days, to be consideredas having resigned; and requesting the legislature, in that event, to appoint other officers to succeed them. They declared, however, their readiness to make every necessary preparation for obeying the marching orders which had been given, and to continue their attention to the regiment until a reasonable time for the appointment of their successors should elapse. “ This," added the letter of General Maxwell, “ is a step they are extremely unwilling to take, but it is such as I make no doubt they will all take; nothing but necessity—their not being able to support themselves in time to come, and being loaded with debts contracted in the time