George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Cleves Symmes, 8 July 1778

From John Cleves Symmes

Sussex Court house [Newton, N.J.]
8th of july 1778

May it please Your excellency,

I wish I may not be thought troublesome, but by the Information I get at this place by other Means than what Your Excellency will see by the Inclosed deposition,1 I must Conclude the enemy are formidable, tis said that there are 300 Regular troops, 1500 Indians and a Large body of Tories which Compose the enemies force, I need not suggest to Your Excellency the apprehesions of the Inhabitants in the Minisinks and their wishes of support, there are not 300 Men as Yet in Arms at the Minisinks,2 Numbers of the Militia of this County are on service bel⟨o⟩w, and none of the first Battalion of the County are even warned to assemble; to all appearance the Crissis will be over before I can procure the Amunition from Easton. I have the honor to be, sir, Your Excellencies Most Obedient humble Servant

John Cleves Symmes

P.S. I am now seventeen Miles from the Minisinks. Many families have come Over this day.

ALS, DLC:GW. The cover indicates that the letter was sent “pr Express.”

1Symmes had taken the deposition on this date from Solomon Avery of Norwich, Connecticut. Avery testified “that he Left Wioming on the Susquehannah, the night after the Action on the third Inst. at that place, that Col. [Zebulon] Butler met the Enemy with 400 men, that at first the enemy did not present a more extensive front than the Inhabitants, but the Enemy after the action had Continued for some time, drew up a second line in the rear of Col. Butler as extensive and to appearance as numerous as the body they had in front, when Col. Butler gave way and being on the Bank of the Susquehannah Many fell and were Drown’d, the number of those who Escaped did not exceed thirty men; this Deponent also saith that when he was on the Mountain to the east of the Settlement he saw the Settlement all on fire, this deponent further saith that of 5000 souls he supposes 2000 have perished in the Carnage, that when he past Col. Strowds on the 7th Inst. at Fort Pen (a viliage so called) express came in with information that the enemies Van was at Lackawack, a Settlement 14 miles west of the Delaware, Upon the Upper Road from Goshen to Wioming” (DLC:GW; see also Avery’s report of 15 July, printed in Connecticut Gazette; and the Universal Intelligencer [New London], 17 July).

2Symmes was evidently referring to the community of Minisink (now Montague), N.J., on the east side of the Delaware River above Minisink Island, about fifty-five miles east of Wyoming, Pennsylvania. In his report of the Wyoming battle, Loyalist John Butler wrote to Lt. Col. Mason Bolton on 8 July that “The settlement of Schohary or the Minisinks will be my next objects, both of which abound in corn and cattle, the destruction of which cannot fail greatly distressing the rebels” (Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 15:166). Butler, however, may have been referring to the town of Minisink in Orange County, N.Y., or more generally to the Minisink region along the Delaware River above the Water Gap in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

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