THE GREAT CONFLAGRATION OF MAY 1780
BY JAMES F. MORRISON
the years many people including historians have wondered how Sir John Johnson
could have made such a raid into the Mohawk Valley when the military authorities
and the local inhabitants had been warned of his impending raid for over
The following documents may give some clues as to why the local militia was not ordered into service after May 17th. Unfortunately for the inhabitants of the Mohawk District the militia had been sent home on or about the 17th.
I find it Reily Nessasary to Call a Counsel of war to take Into Consideration whader is Advisable to thismiss My Regt or not who are Now Under Arms at this Poast Johnstown(1) May the 17 - 178O
Fr fisher Colo(2)
The Counsel Procaided as Folows Colo Fisher prodused a Letter from Colo Klock(3) dated May the 14 - 178O which was taken into Considerasion
Also an Afydavy of John Conyne(4) dated the 14 Instant Also Quartermaster Van Horn(5) gives an Account that Colo Van Schaick(6) said it was his opinyen that no Body of the Enemy was not yet on this side of Lake Champlen the (schofus?) Conyne gaive an Account of Leaid at this side at the aforesaid Lake the Colo said for som weeks past
For the Several Resons we gaive it as our opinyens and Concluded upon that Fisher Discharge His Regt
PS: Also that it is Sowing time Also the present Scharsity of provision
John Harper Colo(7)
Volkert Veeder Lieut Colo(8)
John Nukerk Major(9)
John Fisher Capt(10)
David McMaster Capt(11)
Abm Veeder Capt(12)
Willem Snock Capt(13)
Esaius Swart Leut(14)
Willim Lerd Leut(15)
Frans Pruyn Leut(16)
Gideon Marlat Ensign(17)
SOURCE: GEN. FREDERICK HALDIMAND PAPERS, BRITISH MUSEUM, MSS 21842,
1. The Tryon County Gaol was in 1776 stockaded and with blockhouses it was renamed Fort Johnstown.
2. Frederick Visscher was
the Colonel of the Third Regiment of Tryon County Militia. Colonel Visscher
was tomahawked and scalped
on May 22, 1780 and fortunately he survived his wounds.
3. Jacob Klock was the Colonel of the Second Regiment of Tryon County Militia.
4. John Conyne was at this time serving as a sergeant in Captain John Visscher's Company [Fourth Company] in Colonel Visscher's Regiment.
5. Abraham Van Horne was the Quartermaster for Colonel Visscher's Regiment.
6. Goose Van Schaick was the Colonel of the First New York Continental Regiment. The First New York was garrisoning Fort Schuyler [Rome, N.Y.] but Van Schaick was in Albany at this time.
7. John Harper, formerly Colonel of the Fifth Regiment of Tryon County Militia, now Colonel of a regiment of New York State Levies that was raised to defend the Mohawk Valley.
8. Volkert Veeder was the Lieutenant-Colonel of Colonel Visscher's Regiment.
9. John Newkirk was the Major of Colonel Visscher's Regiment.
10. John Visscher, brother of Colonel Visscher, was the Captain of the Fourth Company. John was killed on May 22, 1780.
11. David McMaster was the Captain of the Sixth Company in Colonel Visscher's Regiment.
12. Abraham Veeder, brother of Volkert Veeder, was the Captain of the Second Company in Colonel Visscher's Regiment. Abraham was taken prisoner on May 22, 1780. He was released by Sir John Johnson for a prisoner held by the Americans.
13. William Snook was the Captain of the Fifth Company in Colonel Visscher's Regiment.
14. Josiah Swart was the First Lieutenant in the Seventh Company commanded by Captain Emanuel DeGraff in Colonel Visscher's Regiment.
15. William Laird was the First Lieutenant in Captain Andrew Wemple's Company in Colonel Visscher's Regiment.
16. Francis Pruyne was the First Lieutenant in Captain Hermanus Mabee's Company in Colonel Visscher's Regiment.
17. Gideon Marlat was the Ensign
for the First Company commanded by Captain Jacob Gardinier in Colonel Visscher's
Fort Paris, May 15th, 1780
Sir-I have intelligence, which I believe is very certain, that the enemy
are on their way, and will attack in four different places in this county
within a few days. I hope you will exert yourself to discover them, and every
possible preparation to defeat their design.
It is expected that they will come by the way of Sacondaga.
I am your h'ble serv't
Jacob Klock, Col.
Col. Fisher, at Caughnawaga
SOURCE: THE FRONTIERSMEN OF NEW YORK, JEPTHA R. SIMMS, ALBANY, GEORGE
C. RIGGS, 1883, VOL. 2, p. 324.
Caghnawago May 15th 1780
Sir-we have the Disagreeable News to aQuint with and that is; we Expect to be attacked Every Houre from a number of Enemy it is said under the Command of Sir John Johnson and a nother Sircomstand which Convincis us that it is true. Thare is a number of Our near Naighbours has gone a Andrew Wampet Esqr. Mr. Snill Albert Vandenwarkin John Canine John B. Marsallens and a of others to tedus to a numerat so Sir we Lave it to your Better Judgmint. Though it is my Opinion that they will be Very Strong
SOURCE: CALENDAR OF THE WYMAN COLLECTION, BENEDICT ARNOLD PAPERS, NO. 118, NEW YORK STATE HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, COOPERSTOWN, N.Y..
The following is an excerpt from SERGEANT FREDERICK SAMMONS', PENSION APPLICATION NO. S11350. Frederick was serving in Captain Abraham Veeder's Company in Colonel Visscher's Regiment.
"At the same time Capt Wemple with some more of our Militia Officers and Torys deserted to the Enemy I was sent out to sarch some Tory Houses with Abraham Davis and 2 more in sarching Philip H. Cline's house and Barn I found John Coyne Knapsac, after he surrendered himself, I [was] out 1 day and Night."