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been condemned to die, but had been reprieved and discharged from custody. He had with him a body of Senecas, the most bloodthirsty band among the Six Nations, beside the Indian Chief Brandt, with his Mohawks.
The night after the capture of the scouting party the enemy encamped near the village. On the morning of the uth, under cover of a heavy rain, they penetrated a swamp in the rear of a house used as headquarters, where they concealed themselves, and awaited a favorable opportunity to attack. Chance favored the garrison at Cherry Valley, and gave them a brief warning. A resident of the valley on his way to the village, at about half past eleven, discovered two Indians and was fired upon by them. Although wounded he was able to reach headquarters in advance of the enemy, and to give the alarm. The officers hastened toward the fort and some succeeded in reaching it. Colonel Alden was one of the first victims, having been shot and scalped while trying to reach the fort. For three hours and more they besieged the garrison.
Sixteen Continental soldiers were killed during the attack on the village, and thirty-two of the inhabitants, principally women and children, were massacred. Some of the murders were committed under circumstances of peculiar barbarism, in which the whites competed with the Indians. The homes, barns and outhouses of the settlement were burned. The garrison, although too weak to attack the enemy, was strong enough to defend the fort. The enemy having completed the work of destruction as far as they could retired, but made a feeble renewal of the attack on the 12th. This was easily repelled, and they then devoted themselves to collecting the cattle belonging to the villagers. The greater part of prisoners were liberated on the 12th and allowed to return to the settlement.
In the first house built in the village lived a large family by the name of Wells. Twelve of his family were massacred. The Rev. Mr. Dunlop lived a mile away. His life and that of a daughter were spared, but his wife was most cruelly murdered.
In another direction lived Major Clyde. His wife and eight
children seeing and hearing the heartrending scenes at the farm below them, where Mr. Wells lived, fled to the woods, where, for twenty-four hours, they lay concealed as best they could be separated and benumbed with cold. With a baby in her arms Mrs. Clyde lay at one time under logs, where the Indians passed near enough to her for one of their guns to touch the log.Mrs. Clyde was a niece of Matthew Thornton, one of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, and in her early youth, which had been spent in the eastern States, had been accustomed to Indian modes of warfare. The wonderful strength and endurance of this woman brought her, with all her children, safely to the fort and protection. The baby in her arms lived to extreme old age in the same town. In another direction a farmer in his field saw a party of Indians go to the house. When he reached there he found the dead bodies of his wife and four children.
Colonel Campbell, hearing the guns from the fort, hurried home only to find smoking ruins and his family gone. His wife and four children were carried away prisoners, as well as Mrs. Moore and her children. Mrs. Campbell was told she was to be taken to the land of the Senecas and retained, on account of the active part her husband had taken at Oriskany. These prisoners with many others marched between two hundred and three hundred miles during this cold and dreary month of November. Mrs. Campbell's aged mother, being too feeble to march, was tomahawked, and her body left by the roadside. If a baby was too heavy for its mother to carry its brains were dashed out on a tree and the mother pushed on.
The details of the horrors of this time will never be wholly known. It was many months, and in some instances years, before families were re-united. As soon as the prisoners, who had been liberated, returned to the fort on the 13th and had been joined by those who had escaped, it was determined to abandon the settlement. Most of the settlers went to the Mohawk, where they did noble service until the close of the Revolution. The garrison remained in the fort until the following June, when they joined at Otsego Lake General James Clinton's division of Sullivan's command.
After peace was declared the great exodus from the eastern States to the then unknown west began, and Cherry Valley was soon the largest settlement south and west of the Mohawk.
The first thought of these “ancient inhabitants,” as they termed themselves, upon returning in 1784 was toward re-organizing the church. In the list of names appearing as trustees of the Presbyterian society, but two new names appear. From then until now this same society has been continued, and although two church buildings have been erected since the one these determined, undaunted men rebuilt, the same names are still upon its records, and some of the same farms are owned and occupied by descendants of these early settlers, and where the first church and fort stood, in the burying ground, is now the village cemetery, and here lie the victims of the dark day of which I have told the story, and which stiil stands out conspicuously as the most shocking in its details of any event in this region during the Revolution.
The student of history must often observe its inconsistencies, and from the point which I have reviewed there are more than one. It is undoubtedly true that the English first incited the Indians to practice their barbarous modes of warfare as their allies, but it is claimed that the Dutch, by their policy of giving strict compensation for lands, first taught the Iroquois, or Six Nations, the value of rewards and of money, and when Great Britain wished to engage their services for the colonies they had no choice but to allow them to continue a policy which had come to them as an inheritance as well as a means of subsistence, as from inheritance they used their own tactics in war. Can we say the same of many of the settlers?
At the time of which I have written, with the exception of a few localities, an unbroken wilderness stretched out from Eastern New York to the Pacific coast. The Government was powerless to protect such a frontier, and in the formation of companies by the settlers for self-protection the white men often forgot the civilization which had influenced their mode of life, and attacked for revenge, and were barbarous because the savages were. The inhabitants of the frontiers were a law unto themselves, and although the present light of history reveals much which it is well to study, the "survival of the fittest" appears to have been the strongest argument our ancestors used in their treatment of the Indians.
In Tryon County this rule had not prevailed, but the roving bands with their worst passions aroused acted for themselves and without discrimination.
Before the time of which I have written, Lieutenant Governor Clarke, of New York, attempted by sale of lands at extremely low rates to colonize the State from Albany to the extreme western portion. The effort was ably planned and might have been successfully carried out, but for the jealousy and bitter feeling of the Colonists further east. The description of this plan for rapid colonization reads much like a modern land scheme, and even at this late time causes a feeling of regret at its failure; for so constantly did people migrate in those days, and so thoroughly were they imbued with the desire for the betterment of their condition that, had this effort succeeded, this whole community would have been too thickly settled for persistent attacks upon the frontier to have been made, and the Cherry Valley massacre would not have been possible.
The times were trying for all; a great country was being developed; a great cause, liberty, was being unfolded to the civilized world. Mistakes may have been made, and high purposes may have been wrecked, but in the light of present events, we, as native born Americans may proudly assert of our ancestors “God sifted many nations that he might send choice grain into the wilderness."
MRS. FRANCIS M. CROSBY.
CHARLES WILLSON PEALE, AND HIS PUBLIC
(CONTINUED.) THROUGHOUT the early summer of 1777 Philadelphia was anticipating the invasion of the British and there was a great deal of feeling in the city against the Tories, the resentment being especially strong towards the Quakers who were alleged to be in active communication with the enemy, to whom they were said to be furnishing valuable information. Finally on July 31st Congress passed a resolution stating that it was expedient to arrest all the late proprietary and crown officials in and near Philadelphia, and under this resolution the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania issued warrants for the arrest among others. of Jared Ingersoll (late Judge of
Admiralty) and James Tilghman (late member of the Provincial Council). On the 28th of August another resolution was passed by Congress empowering the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania to apprehend and secure the persons of certain individuals (mentioning some ir men, among them James, John and Israel Pemberton, prominent Quakers) and
Journal of Congress, Vol. III, Folwell, 1800, pp, 289, 296.