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To George Washington from Major General John Sullivan, 15 August 1779

From Major General John Sullivan

Teaoga [Tioga, N.Y.] August—15th 1779.

Dr Genl

I have the honor to inform your Excellency that I arrived at this place with the army on the 11th inst. without any loss and without having received the least opposition from the enemy—all the accounts recd from your Excy as well as from every other quarter seemed to agree that the enemy were collecting their whole force at Chemung in order to give us battle. I thought if these accounts were true, it would not be prudent to detach a large part of my force to meet Genl Clinton and expose the residue to the collective force of the enemy. I therefore detached Capn Cummins of Col. Shrieves’ regt with eight active men to reconnoitre Chemung. He arrived before the Town on the morning of the 12th and took post on a mountain wch overlooked the Town, where he remained till 12 o’clock. He returned into camp late in the afternoon of the same day, and reported that he saw both white people and Indians busily employed, but he could not ascertain whether they were preparing for action or for evacuating the place. Immediately upon his return an attack was agreed on and the troops moved at nine o’clock the same evening. Gen: Hand with the light corps moved in front to attack on the North of the Town—Gen. Poor was to attack, on the east-side—Two regiments were detached across the Cayuga to prevent the enemy escaping across the river—I moved on in the main road towards the lower end of the Town for the purpose of supporting the attacking parties, and to prevent escapes in that quarter, having with me the Jersey troops, some volunteers, and some of the artillery corps with a cohorn carried by hand on a machine invented by Col. Proctor. The attack was to begin on all sides at day break. Though the morning was exceedingly foggy, our troops all arrived at their respective posts soon after day break, and moved on so as nearly to meet at the same time in the Town; but we found the Town had been evacuated the evening before. General Hand with the light troops moved up on the east side of the Cayuga branch about a mile beyond the Town, where he found the place of the enemy’s encampment, the night of the 13th. He followed them up the road about half a mile, when a party of about thirty rose and fired upon his advanced party; The general with his troops immediately moved up to charge them, upon which they fled with precipitation. They were persued a little further up, but there appearing no prospect of overtaking them, the troops returned and destroyed the Town together with all their fields of corn and whatever else was found to destroy. A small party fired upon our people when destroying their corn, but was soon forced to fly. We had in the course of the day seven men killed and thirteen wounded, among which was Capn Carbury of Col. Hubley’s Rgt and Lt Huston of the same regiment. Capn Carbury is dangerously wounded, I hope not mortally—Mr Huston’s arm was broken by a ball; all the others are wounded very slightly except Mr Franklin (one of our guides) who is badly wounded tho’ said not to be dangerous.1 Most of the injury was sustained by Genl Hands advanced guard and from one fire only, as our troops did not give them opportunity to make a second. The whole loss was from Gen: Hand except one killed and four wounded of Gen: Poors, and two wounded of the Jersey brigade. I cannot say what loss the enemy sustained, but it must have been inconsiderable, as their flight was too sudden to admit of their receiving much injury. Some of their hats were found, and one had a ball through the crown but no dead body was found, which induces me to believe, that none of them were killed outright. I am much surprised that they did not make a greater opposition in defence of their Town; it was most beautifully situated, contained a chappel with between thirty and fourty other houses, many of them very large, and some tolerably well finished. There were fields of corn, the most extensive that ever I saw, with great quantities of pota⟨toes,⟩ pumpkins, squashes, and in short every other thing which any farms could produce—the whole of which was destroyed root and branch. Our troops having completed the business returned the same evening to camp, having performed a march of at least fourty miles in less than twenty four hours, besides going thro⟨ugh⟩ the fatigue of destroying those extensive fields the whole of which they performed with the great⟨est⟩ chearfulness. The whole of their conduct was exceedingly pleasing, and if any fault was discovered, it was their too great eagerness to rush upon the enemy at first sight. I am happy in assuring your Excellency that I am well convinced, no force that this country can produce, can stand before troops so determined as this army. I forgot to mention to your Excellency in my last letter, that the enemy had erected a new Town near Scheshequenung containing twenty two houses, which they abandoned on the approach of our army. Col. Proctor who had charge of the fleet sent on shore & burnt it.2 I am now sending off a strong body to meet gen: Clinton, & when he joins will proceed without loss of time to execute the residue of my orders. I am &c.

Jno. Sullivan

Copy, in James McHenry’s writing, enclosed in GW to John Jay, 24–27 Aug. 1779, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169. The text in angle brackets is supplied from the DNA:PCC item 169 copy.

1Henry Carberry (Carbery, Carbury; d. 1822), of Frederick County, Md., joined Col. Thomas Hartley’s Additional Continental Regiment as a second lieutenant in January 1777 and became a first lieutenant in September. Promoted to captain in November 1778, Carberry retained that rank when Hartley’s regiment merged with Col. John Patton’s Additional Continental Regiment as the new 11th Pennsylvania Regiment in January 1779. He left the army in January 1781. Subsequently, Carberry served as a captain in the U.S. Army from March 1792 to February 1794 and again as colonel of the 36th U.S. Infantry Regiment from March 1813 to March 1815.

William Huston (Houston), of Pennsylvania, received appointment as an ensign in Col. Thomas Hartley’s Additional Continental Regiment in June 1778 and served as the adjutant of that regiment. When Hartley’s regiment merged with Col. John Patton’s Additional Continental Regiment as the new 11th Pennsylvania Regiment in January 1779, Huston was continued as an ensign and adjutant in that regiment with the temporary rank and pay of lieutenant. However, he did not receive formal promotion to lieutenant until February 1780. Huston transferred to the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment in January 1781, and in January 1783 he transferred to the 2d Pennsylvania Regiment, where he also served as adjutant. He left the army in June 1783.

John Franklin (1749–1831), a native of Canaan, Conn., had immigrated to the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania in 1775 with other Connecticut settlers under the auspices of the Susquehannah Company. Prior to his service as a guide on the expedition against the Six Nations, Franklin captained a company of Wyoming Valley militia on active service in 1778. He recovered from his wound and, in 1780, became captain of a company of Connecticut militia raised for the defense of the settlements in the Valley. From 1784, Franklin, as leader of the so-called “radical” element of the Connecticut settlers and as chief spokesman for the interests of the Susquehannah Company, became a central figure in the jurisdictional disputes between competing speculators from Connecticut and Pennsylvania over land claims in the Wyoming Valley. After the resolution of the land disputes, he went on to serve in the Pennsylvania Assembly from 1799 until 1803.

2Sullivan’s last letter to GW, only an extract of which has been found, was dated 7 August.

The mixed Iroquois village of Newtychanning, which was never resettled, had been built in 1778 on the west bank of the Susquehanna River approximately twelve miles above Wyalusing, Pa., in the vicinity of present-day North Towanda, Pa., in Bradford County.

The predominantly Seneca town of Sheshequin, which had been abandoned in 1772, was located on the east bank of the Susquehanna River several miles above Newtychanning near present-day Ulster, Pennsylvania.

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