THE ONEIDAS MARCH AGAINST FORT OSWEGATCHIE
FISH-KILL, May 23
Extract of a letter from Fort Schuyler, dated April 30
"In pursuance of Col. Van Schaick's order, I left this place, accompanied with a Lieutenant, Serjeant and Corporal, of the 1st New-York regiment, and thirty Indians, on an expedition against Swagotha; on my arrival there, the 25th inst. I sent three Indians to reconnoiter the garrison: In the mean time I discovered an Indian canoe coming up Black-River with two Indians in it; I detached a party after them, who took them prisoners, and examined them. The Indians I sent to reconnoiter, returned with three British prisoners, who told nearly the same as the Indians. - Our van took another prisoner, who agreed with the former. I then moved nearer the garrison, and found it was impossible to surprise it; but concluded by some means to draw them out, which I happily effected, by making the Indians show themselves in the skirts of the woods: Part of the garrison sallied out; I endeavoured to draw them as far in the woods as possible, but the Indians were so warm, that they scarcely had entered the skirts of the woods before they began their fire. The enemy retreated immediately, leaving two dead behind. We pursued them within forty yards of the garrison, when we received a heavy fire of artillery and musquetry, which obliged us to take the woods. We then returned to this garrison.
"The following information was received from the above prisoners, That the garrison was commanded by Capt. Davis, of the 31st regiment, with a subaltern and forty men, and four pieces of cannon: That they had received a letter from the Commander in Chief at Quebec, informing them, that he could not support them this year, and they must act on the defensive, but that next year he would send a large army: That the enemy were fortifying the garrison of Buck-Island, and that it consisted of two hundred men, who had a disorder among them, of which they died very fast: That Gen. Haldiman's aid-de-camp passed Swagotha yesterday, with orders to the commanders of the back settlements."
SOURCE: THE INDEPENDENT CHRONICLE AND THE UNIVERSAL ADVERTISER, THURSDAY,
JUNE 3, 1779, PAGE 2, COLUMN 1.
Albany, May 7th 1779
D'r Sir, I am sorry to inform you that the Drafts from Genl. Ten Broeck's Brigade come in so very slow, that I fear they will not arrive before we march, which probably will be attended with some Inconveniencies. They are mustered as fast as they are received, but they are chiefly without arms, and very ill provided with Cloaths.
I woud beg the favour of you to request Col. Duboys to make hast up; he is much wanted; his Character, and his regiment, suffer by his absence, and no Letter from me is sufficient to bring him.
have enclosed a Copy of Lt. McClennan's Discouveries at Oswegotchee, for
your Inspection. With the greatest Esteem
I am Yours &c. James Clinton
Fort Schuyler April 3Oth 1779
Sir, I have the Pleasure to acquaint you that in pursuance of Col. V. Schaick's
Orders of the 18th Instant, I left this Place on an Expedition to Oswegatchee,
accompanied by Lt. Hardenbergh of the 1st N.Y. Regt., one Sergeant, one
Corporal and thirty Privates; as there cou'd be no line of Conduct laid
down on an Expedition like this, I suppose, was the reason, why the Col.
did not give any written Instructions. However I hope you will have no
reason to think, but that we have applyed the Party to the best advantage.
On my arrival at Oswegotchee, was the 25th Instant, we sent three Indians
to reconeiter the Garisson; in the mean time we discovered an Indian canoe
coming up Black River; we sent another Party after, who took the canoes,
and brought the Indians to us, whom we immediately examined, as you will
see by the enclosed. By this time, the Indians we had sent to reconoiter
the Garrison returned, & brought three British Prisoners, with them,
who told us the same the Indians had done. We then moved with our Party nearer
the Garrison; in the mean time our Van took another Prisoner, who told the
same as the former. Here we were at a Stand what to do; to surprise the Garrison
was impossible; so that after consulting the Indians, we agreed to try to
get a party of them out, which we happily efected by making the Indians shew
themselves in the Edge of Woods. They sent a small party out; we then endeavoured
to draw them as far as possible, but could not, the Indians were so warm,
that they had scarcely entered the Woods, before they began their firing;
the Enemy retired without returning a Shot, leaving two Dead behind them.
We pursued within sight of the Fort, but they gave us such a warm fire of
artillery and musquetry as obliged us to retreat back to the woods; we then
marched seven miles from the Garrison, & then encamped for the night.
The next morning one of the Coughnawage Indians acquainted us, that he had
a Letter written by the Marquis de la Fayette to the Canadians, in the French
Language, dated the 1Oth December 1778, and that if we thought proper he
woud now carry it to Canada; as we were so near, he agreed to leave his Son
as an Hostage for his faithful performance; we agreed to send him & gave
him these Instructions, that he shoud go to Coughnawago, & hear from
his friends what the Enemy were doing in Canada, and if they thought it safe,
he might proceed to Montreal, and return by the way of St. John's, taking
particular notice of the Strength of the Enemy, to which he readily consented.
We then collected what Provisions we coud spare and sent him off. We then
made the best of our way to this Place which we reached this day. The Indians
have insisted on taking the Prisoners to Oneida, but have promised to return
them in a few Days. These, Sir, are the Perticulars of our Rout.
I am, Sir, your very humb'e Serv't, Thos McClennan
The Examination of two Onondoga Indians taken Prisoners at Oswegotchee.
Qus'n 1st. How the State of Garrison of Oswegotchee was? Ans'r. That the Garrison was commanded by Capt. Davis, with one Subaltern and forty men, with four pieces of Cannon.
2d. What news from Canada?
Ans'r. That they had received a Letter from the Comd'r in Chief at Quebeck, informing them, that he coud send them no Troops against the Rebles, this year. But that he intended to send them a large army the next year, so that they must act only on the Defensive at present.
3d. In what State the Garrison at Buck Island was?
Answ'r. That the last week he had left that place, and that they were fortifying themselves. He farther said that the Garrison consisted of a few Regulars and Sir John's Regiment, making in the whole, not more than two hundred men, and that they had a Disorder among them, of which they died very fast, & that and no Reason mad him & some others leave that place. He farther says, that yesterday, Genl. Haldeman's Aide Camp passed that Place, with orders to the Commanding Officers of the back posts.
SOURCE: PUBLIC PAPERS OF GEORGE CLINTON, ed. HUGH HASTINGS, N.Y., 1900, VOL. IV, pp 803-806.