George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Tusten, Jr., 14 October 1778

From Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Tusten, Jr.

Goshen [N.Y.] Octobr 14th 1778

May it please Your Excellency

From various Accounts as well as the Concuring Testimony of a number of Credable Persons I lern that the Indians joind by a number of Tories who have gone from these parts made a decent on our western Frontiers yesterday & have reduced Pienpack a pleasent & welthy Village to Ashes Murderd numbers of the Inhabitants & Captivated the rest—We have a small Fort in the place guarded by a few Militia who I have the greatest reason to fear, ’tho not posses’d of evidence, have fallen into their hands—By the best accounts from Persons who have had an opertunity of viewing the Enemy from an Advantagious height they cannot be less than five Hundred & when the last Express came away were on their March toward Minisink another Village about six Miles distant1—The few Militia in these parts have turn’d out with tolerable Spirit but give me leave to assure Your Excellency that we are very weak as every Regiment in this County except one have March’d into the Jersy; therefore if it might be consistent with Your Excellencies Grand Designs to spare us a Number of Your Troops in this Critical moment & save our Country from impending destruction it will be Joyous to thousands as well as Your Excellency’s most Obedient Servt

Benj. Tusten Lt Col.

p.s. Since writeing the Above I hear part of Minisink is Destroyed.

ALS, PHi: Gratz Collection; Sprague transcript, DLC:GW.

Benjamin Tusten, Jr. (Thurston; 1743–1779), an Orange County, N.Y., physician who had been commissioned lieutenant colonel of the county’s 3d Regiment of militia in February 1776, was killed at the Battle of Minisink near present-day Barryville, N.Y., on 22 July 1779, when his militia detachment was ambushed by an Indian and Loyalist force commanded by Joseph Brant. Tusten’s father, Benjamin Tusten, Sr. (1716–1796), had been a member of the New York provincial congress in 1775.

1Peenpack, N.Y., a small settlement that lay along the Neversink River a few miles northeast of present-day Port Jervis, N.Y., had been raided on 13 Oct. by a party of Indians and Loyalists under Joseph Brant. One of the settlement’s three small forts had fallen to the enemy, who then retreated northwest to the upper reaches of the East Branch of the Susquehanna River. Tusten gave a slightly different account of this raid in his letter to George Clinton of this date, a copy of which Clinton enclosed in his letter to GW of 15 Oct. (see note 1 to that document). For other contemporary accounts, see John Cantine to Clinton, 14 Oct., in note 1 to Clinton’s letter to GW of 15 Oct., and Johannes Hardenbergh, Jr., to Clinton, 16 Oct., in Hastings and Holden, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 4:166. Brant did not attack Minisink until July 1779.

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