Morrison's Pensions

Various Newspaper Stories.
November 11, 1778

NEW YORK This day, a party of Tories, Indians, and Regulars, under the command of Colonel Butler, made a descent on the fort at Cherry Valley. An officer who was in the fort, gives the following account of the affair:
            On Saturday night, 7th of November, an express arrived from Fort Stanwix, informing that an Oneida Indian had acquainted them that he sat in council in the Seneca country with the Six Nations, and other tribes, and that they had concluded to attack Fort Alden, in Cherry Valley. On Sunday morning a sergeant and twelve men were sent on the road by Beaver Dam, towards the enemy, to continue five  days; another scout, with a non-commissioned officer, and five men, were sent on the road to Springfield, to continue four days; these two roads being the only avenues from the enemy's country to this place, except an old Indian path that had been neglected by us. At the same time, we sent by the same roads scouts in the morning, which returned at night. On Wednesday, the 11th, it rained very hard; the enemy came by the above-mentioned path, past by two houses, and lodged themselves in a swamp a small distance back of Mr. Wells' house, head-quarters; at half-past eleven, A.M., Mr. Hamlin came by and discovered two Indians, who fired upon him, and shot him through the arm; he rode to Mr. Wells', and acquainted the colonel, the lieutenant-colonel, major, and adjutant being present;  the two last (the house at this time being surrounded by Indians) got to the fort through their fire; the colonel was shot near the fort. The enemy, eight hundred in number, consisting of five hundred Indians, commanded by Brant, fifty Regulars under Captain Colvill, and another captain with some of Johnson's Rangers, and above two hundred Tories, the whole under Colonel Butler's command,  immediately surrounded the fort, excluding several officers who were quartered out of the garrison, and had gone to dinner; they commenced a very heavy fire upon the fort, which held three and a half hours, and was as briskly returned; they were so near as to call to the fort and bid the 'damn'd rebels" to surrender, which was answered with three cheers, and a discharge of cannon and musketry. At four P.M., the enemy withdrew. Captain Ballard sallied out with a party, which the enemy endeavored to cut off, but were prevented by a reinforcement.
            The next day they made it their whole business to collect horses, cattle, and sheep, which they effected, and at sunset left the place. The enemy killed, scalped, and most barbarously murdered, thirty-two inhabitants, chiefly women and children, also Colnel Alden, and the following soldiers of this regiment, viz.: Robert Henderson, Gideon Day, Thomas Shrridan, Pelletiah Adams, Simeon Hopkins, Benjamin Worcely, Thomas Holden, Daniel Dubley, Thomas Knowles, and Oliver Deball. The following officers were taken prisoners, viz.: Lieutenant-Colonel Stacey, Lieutenant Aaron Holden, Ensign Garret, Surgeon's Mate Francis Souza De Bierve, and thirteen privates; burnt twenty-four houses with all the grain, &c., took above sixty inhabitants prisoners, part of whom they released on going off. They committed the most inhuman barbarities on most of the dead. Robert Henderson's head was cut off, his skull bone was cut out with the scalp. Mr Willis' sister was ripped up, a child of Mr. Willis', two months old, scalped, and arm cut off; the clergyman's wife's leg and arm cut off, and many others as cruelly treated. Many of the inhabitants and soldiers shut out from the fort, lay all night in the rain with the children, who suffered very much. The cattle that were not easy to drive, they shot. We were informed by the prisoners they sent back, that the lieutenant-colonel, all the officers and Continental soldiers, were stripped and drove naked before them.
            The fort was commanded by the brave Major Whiting, of Dedham, in Massachusetts, and the two cannon under the direction of the brave Captain Hickling, of Boston, who was chief engineer in building the fort, and whose assistance contributed in saving it.

                          New-Jersey Gazette, December 31 [1778]

A simular report appeared in THE CONNECTICUT COURANT AND WEEKLY INTELLIGENCER, DECEMBER 22, 1778, PAGE 3, COLUMN 1. There are very few differences, spelling, grammar etc. but for the most part the NEW JERSEY GAZETTE is verbatim.

            It was reported on Wednesday last, that a party of Tories and Indians, under command of the noted Col. Butler, had fell in with a party of Continental troops, under Col. Alden, near Cherry Valley, and a great part of the latter most inhumanely butchered but as the accounts are so various, we are advised to omit any farther particulars for the present. It is said Col. Alden escaped, and  has arrived at Albany.


            By accounts, though not circumstantial, from the northward, the enemy have struck us in that quarter, another blow, which they had long threatened, and we had reason to expect, but seem to have made no more advantage of the intimations, than if we had heard nothing at all of the matter. - A body of the enemy, consisting of about 7OO Savages and Tories, under the command of Brant and Butler, with a company of British soldiers, came down to Cherry-Valley, which they entirely massacred several of the inhabitants, men, women and children, indiscriminately; with Col. Alden of the Continental army, some officers and privates of his regiment; and made prisoners of Lieut. Col. Stacey of the same regiment with a number of the inhabitants, men and women, whom they carried off with them, after having invested and attacked Fort Alden ( a small picket fort in Cherry-Valley) without effect.


BOSTON, December 24, 1778.
            A gentleman from Albany assures us, 'tis a fact, that the brave Col. Alden, killed at the late action of Cherry Valley, was offered quarter when taken by the infamous Col. Butler, but hero like, nobly disdaining the proposal, immediately discharged his pistol at him, which, unlucki'y missing its object, he was instantly tomahawk'd by the Indians. Who would not lament the loss of an officer, supporting such a character.



            We are favoured by a friend with the following true copy of a         letter, from WALTER BUTLER, Capt. of the Rangers to Major    General SCHUYLER, wrote since the action at Cherry Valley.
Cherry Valley, November 12, 1778
I AM induced by humanity, to permit the prisoners, whose names I send you herewith, to remain lest the inclemency of the weather, and their naked situation, should prove fatal to them; and expect that you will relieve an equal number of our people in your hands; amongst whom I expect you will permit Mrs. Butler, and family, to come to Canada: But if you insist upon it, I do engage to send you, moreover, an equal number of yours, taken either by the Indians or Rangers; and will leave it to you to name the prisoners. I have done every thing in my power to restrain the Indians in their fury, from hurting women and children, or killing the prisoners who fell into our hands; and would have more effectually prevented them, but they were to much enraged by the late destruction of their village Onohoghquago, by your people; and shall always continue to act in the same manner - as I look upon it beneath the character of a soldier, to wage war with women and children. I am sure that you are conscious that Col. Butler or myself have any desire that your women or children should be hurt: But be assured, that if you persevere in detaining my father's family with you, that we shall no longer take the same pains, in restraining the Indians from making prisoners of women and children, as we have heretofore done.                                   I am Sir, your humble servant
                                     WALTER BUTLER (Capt. of the Rangers)
To General SCHUYLER, Albany.

             The following item is an obituary of Morgan Lewis followed by a letter from Jeptha R. Simms in which he corrects errors in General Lewis obituary. 
            This is a valuable lesson of how statements like these can alter the historical facts and obscure what really happened. I have added a few facts at the end that might clear up some of the  confusion.
                                                                                    Death of Morgan Lewis - The New York papers record the death, in that city, on Saturday last [April 7th], of the  venerable and distinguished patriot of the Revolution, Major General Morgan Lewis, President General of the Society of the Cincinnati of the United States. He fought gallantly in the army of the Revolution which he entered in 1775, and was particularly   distinguished on several occasions. In 18O4 he was elected governor of New York State; and since that time has filled various offices of high trust and dignity, and always with great   credit to himself, and usefulness to the State.
            In 1812, he entered the Army, and performing valuable services to the country, and was finally appointed a Major General.

Mr Horton: I observe in an obituary notice of the death of Ex-Gov. Lewis, an error, which, as it is calculated to mislead future writers, I must request you to correct. It is stated in the communication from Maj. Popham, that Mr. Lewis was engaged with Gen. Clinton in a battle at Stone Arabia in the Revolution    except the one in 178O, in which the brave Col. John Brown commanded the Americans; when he was overpowered by numbers and slain. Gen Clinton was stationed at Canajoharie in the early party of 1779, preparing to join Sullivan in his expedition against the Indians of Western, N.Y., but was an actor in no battle in the Mohawk Valley.
                                    Yours very Respectfully, J R Simms, Fultonville
April 12th, 1844                                          
            Both were copied from The Montgomery Whig, Saturday, April 13, 1844, page 2, Vol. 4 No. 6, T R Horton, Fultonville.

            Unfortunately I haven't seen a copy of the earlier printed version of Lewis' obituary that Simms mentions which might have had some other interesting facts or inaccuracies.
            The following are some other facts and dates that relate to Morgan Lewis. He was Colonel and Deputy Quartermaster-General for the Northern Department and to which he was appointed to on September 12, 1776. He was also Brigadier General and Quartermaster General of the United States Army from April 3, 1812 to March 2, 1813. He was appointed Major General on March 2, 1813 and he was discharged on June 15, 1815.
            It is hard to say why it was said that he participated in the Battle of Stone Arabia which was fought on October 19, 178O but it is well documented as to who were the officers in that particular battle.
            The confusion could be in part because Governor George Clinton arrived later with more troops and joined Brigadier General Robert Van Rensselaer in pursuit of the enemy under Sir John Johnson. There could be added confusion because there was a Major Morris R. Lewis from the Albany County Militia under General Van Rensselaer and who participated at the Battle of Klocksfield in the afternoon of October 19, 178O.
             It is known that General James Clinton, brother to Governor  Clinton, was not at either battle otherwise he would have been in command instead of Colonel John Brown at Stone Arabia or General   Van Rensselaer at Klocksfield.
            In the official Court of Inquiry held in 1781 to investigate  the conduct of General Van Rensselaer in his pursuit of and battle with the enemy under Sir John Johnson are more facts to consider. In the testimony from several others including from Henry Glen that it was Glen who organized the wagons and supplies  for Van Rensselaer's army. Glen who was a quartermaster himself did not march with the army nor does he mentioned Morgan Lewis or for that matter does anyone say who was in charge of the supply wagons.    There is no mention of Lewis being any part of this campaign in the correspondence during that time or in the Court of Inquiry.
            In conclusion the present facts still prove what Simms had
said in 1844 about General Lewis were the correct facts. Simms was one of the best historians in the nineteenth century and we are most fortunate for his interest and effort in preserving the   history of the Mohawk Valley.

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