Us And Them

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated
injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of
an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted
to a candid world...

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to
bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages,
whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages,
sexes and conditions.

The Declaration of Independence
In Congress
July 4, 1776

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Ethnic Cleansing?

I flatter myself that the orders with which I was entrusted are fully executed, as we have not left a single settlement or field of corn in the in the country of the Five nations, nor is there the appearance of an Indian on this side of Niagara.

General John Sullivan
Report to Congress
Tioga, New York 1779

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Gen. Sherman's Credo

I know it is common, and too common a practice to accuse General Sullivan of having destroyed peach trees and cornfields, and all that nonsense. He had to do it, and he did do it…

Why does the Almighty strike down the tree with lightning? Why does He bring forth the thunderstorm? To purify the air, so that the summer time may come, and the harvest and the fruits. And so with war. When all things ought to be peaceful, war comes and purifies the atmosphere…we are better for it; you are better for it; we are all better for it. Wherever men raise up their hands to oppose this great advancing tide of civilization, they must be swept aside, peaceably if possible, forcibly if we must…

[T]here is plenty of good land on this continent, yet unsettled. If our young men in the east, would go out there [out West] and lay the foundation for future States and future homes, that would be all the battle and we would not have growling about Indians and negroes, and other questions that disturb our politicians today: ...our destiny is not to growl with each other, but to go forth and replenish the earth…and those who obey it will reap the advantage… and I will die in peace, knowing that which we fought for has been fully accomplished.

General William “Tecumseh” Sherman
Sullivan-Clinton Centennial Commemoration
Elmira, New York 1879

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Victor's Verses

“The wigwam fell, and the log cabin arose”

“Gwah U Gwah, Welcome to Civilization”

“Scalps in 1779, Brains in 1879”

“From the Trail to the Track”

“The End of Savage Dominion”

“We Live on Soldier’s Land”

Theme Signs and Mottos
Sullivan-Clinton Centennial Celebration
Aurora, Cayuga County, New York
September 24, 1879

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No Negotiations

But you will not by any means listen to any overture of peace before the total ruinment of their settlements is effected…. Our future security will be in their inability to injure us… and in the terror with which the severity of the chastisement they receive will inspire them.

George Washington
Orders to Gen. Sullivan
Spring 1779

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Promise To Keep

The Indians shall see that we have malice enough in our hearts to destroy everything that contributes to their support.

General John Sullivan
Sullivan-Clinton Campaign
August-September 1779

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What Is To Be Done?

The land between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes appears good. Level and well-timbered; affording a sufficiency for twenty elegant townships which, in the process of time, will doubtless add to the importance of America. The communication of the Seneca with Cayuga is passable with boats and is about twenty miles. Whether the God of nature ever designed that so noble a part of His creation should remain uncultivated, in consequence of an unprincipled and brutal part of it, is one of those arcana yet hidden from human intelligence. However, had I any influence in the councils of America, I should not think it an affront to the Divine will, to lay some effectual plan, either to civilize or totally extirpate the race. Counting their friendship is not only a disagreeable task, but impracticable; and if obtained it is of no longer duration than while we are in prosperity and the impending rod threatens their destruction. To starve them is equally impracticable for they feed on air and drink the morning dew...

Major Jeremiah Fogg
Diary Entry
Sullivan-Clinton Campaign
September 1779

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Final Lament

We are encircled – we are encompassed. The Evil Spirit rides the blast. The waters are disturbed. They rise. They press upon us and the waves settle over us. We disappear forever. Who, then, lives to mourn us? None! What marks our extermination? Nothing! We are mingled with the common elements.

Sagoyewatha (aka Red Jacket)
Seneca Chief
September 1779

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The Aftermath: Impending Starvation

…but the Indians not being supported [by English/Loyalist reinforcements] as they expected, thought of nothing more than carrying off their Families, and we had at this Post the 21st of last month [September, 1779] 5036 to supply with Provisions, and notwithstanding a number of Parties have been sent out since, we have still on the ground 3678 to maintain – I am convinced Your Excellency will not be surprised, if I am extremely alarmed, for to support such a multitude I think will be absolutely impossible.

Col. Mason Bolton (English Commander at Ft. Niagara)
Letter to Gen. Haldimand (English Commander for N. America)
Fort Niagara, New York
October 2, 1779

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Ten Years After...

Brothers, you must not think hard if we speak rash, as it comes from a wounded heart, as you have struck the hatchet in our head and we can't be reconciled until you come & pull it out; We are sorry to tell you, you have killed Eleven of us since peace….

Brothers, it is our great brother, your Governor, who must come to see us, as we will never bury the hatchet until our great brother himself comes & brightens the chain of friendship, as it is very rusty – Brothers, you must bring the property of your brothers you have murdered, and all the property of the murderers, as it will be great satisfaction to the families of the deceased. Brothers, the Sooner you meet us the better, for our young Warriors are very uneasy, and it may prevent great trouble…

Seneca Chiefs
Letter to the Governor of Pennsylvania
To Protest Killings of Seneca Hunters
August 12, 1790

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Wyoming Valley Tragedy

Perhaps more than any other event, the so-called "Wyoming Massacre" of July 3, 1778 was a rallying cry for launching the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign in retaliation against the Iroqouis. One survivor, Col. Zebulon Butler, the military leader of Wyoming Valley, personally led the burnings of Cayuga villages by the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign in September, 1779.

The Wyoming killings are memorialized by the eventual Yankee victors in one-sided images and super-heated poems like the ones below...

Click this to view a typical but not authenticated 19th century depiction:


Click this to view another such not authenticated version from a painting by F.O.C. Darley:

The same viewpoint is expressed in Gertrude of Wyoming, a 19th century epic poem (1809) by the Scottish poet Thomas Campbell (1777-1844). Beyond praising the virtues of Gertrude, it especially honors a literary figure named Outalissi, a Christianized Oneida. A quintessential "noble savage," Outalissi stands and dies with the white Civilizers (the sons of "Transatlantic Liberty") against the onslaught of "unearthly fiends" under the very real Mohawk leader, Joseph Brandt. Click below to read some amazing excerpts:

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Oneidas: Between A Rock & A Hard Place

The Rock: Caught in an English Web...

BROTHERS : It is now about four years ago since the Bostonians began to rise, and rebel against their Father, the King of England, since which time you have taken a different part from the rest of the Five Nations, your confederates, and have likewise deserted the King's cause, through the deceitful machinations and snares of the rebels, who intimidated you with their numerous armies, by which means you became bewildered, and forgot all of your engagements with, and former care, and favor from the Great King of England, your Father. You also soon forgot the frequent bad usage, and continual encroachments of the Americans upon the Indian lands throughout the Continent. I say, therefore, that at the breaking out of these troubles you firmly declared to observe a strict neutrality in the dispute… In consequence of this your daring and insolent behavior, I must insist upon, by this belt of wampum, that you declare yourselves immediately on the receipt of this my speech and message, whether you mean to persist in this your daring and insulting course, and still intend to act as you have hitherto done, treacherously under the cloak of neutrality, or whether you will accept of this my last offer of reuniting, and reconciling yourselves with your own tribes, the Five Nations...

General Frederick Haldimand
English Governor of Canada
Letter to Oneida Chiefs
June 1779

See below for: The Hard Place: Caught in a Yankee Web...

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Scalps & Firewater

The people [American settlers] are not [yet] Sensible what a good affect It [the burning of villages] has had on the Indians. The Onandaga warriors offer to go to what post we chuse to Direct them and Bring in what Number of prisoners and Scalp from the Enemy British we may Desire. I have encouraged those Savages to do all the mischief that they can to the Enemy. I wish you... to send me ten and two five gallons Caggs Very White, theey are to be a publick charge & are to be sent occasionally to our friendly Brethren.

Col. Goose Van Schaick (American)
Observations After Destroying Onandaga Villages
Ft. Schuyler, New York
May 11, 1779

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Cherry Valley Tragedy

Click this to view the Cherry Valley Memorial...

O haste, men of strength, the savages are near you;
Now hurry to the fort, taking with you those you love,
for tomahawk and scalping knife, give token of a deadly strife,
In which deliverance only comes from above.

O mourn, men of strength, your household Gods have fallen,
Your valley now is wasted by bloody Butler's band.
Yet pause not in useless grief, in fell battle seek relief,
And vengeance earnest take, with red right hand.

Rejoice, men of strength, send forth the joyful tidings,
Your victory proclaim to the peoples far and wide;
Our armies brave have won the day, nor British power their might can stay,
As firmly now they stand on freedom's side.

O shout, men of strength, declare aloud our glory;
Afar among the nations, make the broad welkin ring,
Afar, afar, o'er hill and dale, that all may hear the wondrous tale,
America, America, is king.

Memorial Ode to Cherry Valley's Fallen
Centennial Unveiling of The Monument
Written by J.L. Sawyer/Sung by Choir
Cherry Valley, New York
August 15, 1877

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England in Defeat: Where Pity Meets Pragmatism

[War leader, Joseph Brant] is much better informed and instructed than any other Indians, he is strongly attached to the Interest of his Country of men, for which I do honor him, but he would be so Much More sensible of the Miserable situation in which we have left this unfortunate People, that I do believe he would do a great deal of Mischief at this Time. I do from my soul Pity these People, and should they Commit Outrages at giving up these Posts, it would by no means surprise me.

After the Treaty of Paris:
Letter from Gen. Maclean,
English Commander at Ft. Niagara, to
Gen. Haldimand, Commander for N. America
May 18, 1783

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Senecas Speak Truth to Power

Father, the voice of the Seneca Nations speaks to you, the great counsellor, in whose heart the wise men of all the Thirteen Fires have placed their wisdom; it may be very small in your ears, and we therefore entreat you to hearken with attention, for we are about to speak of things which are to us very great.

When your army entered the country of the Six Nations, we called you the town-destroyer; and to this day, when your name is heard, our women look behind them and turn pale, and our children cling close to the necks of their mothers. Our counsellors and warriors are men, and cannot be afraid; but their hearts are grieved with the fears of our women and children, and desire that it may be buried so deep as to be heard no more... [continued]

Seneca Chiefs Cornplanter, Half Town & Big Tree
Speech to President George Washington
December 1790

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"Know Them No More Forever"

The eastern tribes have long since disappeared; the forests that sheltered them have been laid low, and scarce any traces remain of them in the thickly-settled states of New England, excepting here and there the Indian name of a village or a stream. And such must, sooner or later, be the fate of those other tribes which skirt the frontiers, and have occasionally been inveigled from their forests to mingle in the wars of white men. In a little while, and they will go the way that their brethren have gone before. The few hordes which still linger about the shores of Huron and Superior, and the tributary streams of the Mississippi, will share the fate of those tribes that once spread over Massachusetts and Connecticut, and lorded it along the proud banks of the Hudson; of that gigantic race said to have existed on the borders of the Susquehanna; and of those various nations that flourished about the Potomac and the Rappahannock, and that peopled the forests of the vast valley of Shenandoah. They will vanish like a vapor from the face of the earth; their very history will be lost in forgetfulness; and “the places that now know them will know them no more for ever.”

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Frontier Metaphysics

The instinct of antipathy against an Indian grows in the backwoodsman with the sense of good and bad, right and wrong. In one breath he learns that a brother is to be loved, and an Indian to be hated.

Herman Melville
(Grandson of Gen. Peter Gansevoort of S/C)
On "The Metaphysics of Indian Hating"
from The Confidence Man (1857)

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The Chaplain Prepares

The necessity of a just & speedy retaliation for British & savage barbarity prompts the Army to encounter every fatigue & surmount every difficulty. Havock – devastation & waste salute our Eyes where – flourishing, now desolated Country. -- & these objects create strange feelings in the breast – a just indignation & deep abhorrence of pretended British Clemency once so much boasted of – now blended with savage barbarity. Upwards of one hundred & fifty widows [sic] were here made upon this ground – in the spaced of one hour and a half about a year from this time. Are these the fruits & effects of thy Clemency O George – thou tyrant of Britain & scourge to Mankind! May he, to whom Vengeance belongs pour forth his righteous Indignation in due time.

Rev. Samuel Kirkland
Chaplain of the S/C Campaign
On the Way into Iroquoia
July 5, 1779

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Yankee Origins...

The White Man comes, pale as the dawn, with a load of thought, with a slumbering intelligence as a fire raked up, knowing well what he knows, not guessing but calculating; strong in community, yielding obedience to authority; of experienced race; of wonderful, wonderful common sense; dull but capable, slow but persevering, severe but just, of little humor but genuine; a laboring man despising game and sport; building a house that endures, a framed house. He buys the Indian's mocassins and baskets, the buys his hunting grounds, and at length forgets where he is buried, and plows up his bones. And here town records, old, tattered, time-worn, weather-stained chronicles, contain the Indian sachem's mark, perchance, an arrow or a beaver, and the few fatal words by which he deeded his hunting grounds away. He comes with a list of ancient Saxon, Norman and Celtic names, and strews them up and down this river... and this is New Angle-land, and these are the new West Saxons, whom the Red Men call, not Angle-ish, but Yengeese, and so at last they are known for Yankees.

Henry David Thoreau
A Week on the Concord & Merrimack Rivers
September, 1839

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Rigors of the Season: Dinner is Served, As Iroquoia Starves

A handsome house halfway up the bank opposite the ferry seems to attract the eye and to invite strangers to stop at General Schuyler's, who is its owner as well as its architect. I had recommendations to him from all quarters, but particularly from General Washington and Mrs. Carter, Schuyler's daughter... On shore was the Chevalier de Mauduit, who was waiting for us with the General's sleigh, and found ourselves in an instant in a handsome drawing room, near a good fire, with Mr. Schuyler, his wife and daughters. While we were warming ourselves, dinner was served, to which everyone did honor, as well as to the Madeira, which was excellent and which made us completely forget the rigor of the season and the fatigue of the journey.

Marquis de Chastellux
Visit to the Schuyler Mansion
Albany, New York
December 1780, the Winter of Hunger

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Clarity & Resistance

Whole Indian nations have melted away like snowballs in the sun before the white man's advance. They leave scarcely a name of our people except those wrongly recorded by their destroyers. Where are the Delawares? They have been reduced to a mere shadow of their former greatness. We had hoped that the white men would not be willing to travel beyond the mountains. Now that hope is gone. They have passed the mountains, and have settled upon Cherokee land. They wish to have that action sanctioned by treaty. When that is gained, the same encroaching spirit will lead them upon other land of the Cherokees. New cessions will be asked. Finally the whole country, which the Cherokees and their fathers have so long occupied, will be demanded, and the remnant of Ani-Yunwiya, THE REAL PEOPLE, once so great and formidable, will be compelled to seek refuge in some distant wilderness. There they will be permitted to stay only a short while, until they again behold the advancing banners of the same greedy host. Not being able to point out any further retreat for the miserable Cherokees, the extinction of the whole race will be proclaimed. Should we not therefore run all risks, and incur all consequences, rather than submit to further loss of our country? Such treaties may be alright for men who are too old to hunt or fight. As for me, I have my young warriors about me. We will have our lands. A-WANINSKI, I have spoken.

Dragging Canoe (Cherokee)
On Concluding the Transylvania Treaty
Cherokee Country, 1775

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Bearing Witness

I have seen him shrinking from civilized approach, which came with all its
vices, like the dead of night upon him. I have seen him gaze and then
retreat like the frightened deer ... seen him shrinking from the soil and
haunts of his boyhood, bursting the strongest ties which bound him to the
earth and its pleasures. I have seen him set fire to his wigwam and smooth
over the graves of his fathers ... clap his hand in silence over his mouth,
and take the last look over his fair hunting ground, and turn his face in
sadness to the setting sun. All this I have seen performed in nature's
silent dignity ... and I have seen as often the approach of the bustling,
busy, talking, whistling, hopping, elated and exulting white man, with the
first dip of the ploughshare, making sacrilegeous trespass on the bones of
the valiant dead .... I have seen the grand and irresistible march of
civilization. I have seen this splendid juggernaut rolling on and beheld its
sweeping desolation, and held converse with the happy thousands, living
as yet beyond its influence, who have not been crushed, nor yet have
dreamed of its approach.
George Catlin

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Civilization Defined



CIVILIZATION is a war--a war of light with darkness; of truth with falsehood; of the illuminated intellect and the rectified heart with the barbarism of ignorance and the animalism of the savage.

The present work portrays a single phase of this sublime conflict. It recounts one of the thousand campaigns of this war. It is an attempt to condense into a single volume, and given an adequate literary expression to, the thrilling history of the struggle between the White man and the Red man for the possession of this continent. It is also intended to be a memorial to a race of heroes. Other countries have esteemed their earliest heroes as worthy the song of the poet and the praise of the historian. With us, the deeds of our fathers are as yet unsung, and their very names are fading from our memory.

Augustus Lynch Mason
"The Romance And Tragedy of Pioneer Life"

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Arguably among the most, if not the most "journalized" expedition in military history, Sullivan-Clinton's officers journals are now going online.
A Must See: Erkuries Beatty's "forgotten" Journal on Van Schaick's destruction of Onondaga, site of the central council fire, in April of 1779, the first phase of the Campaign.

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And when the soldiers in their marches,
Advanced on that September morn,
And pushed along through woodland arches,
Or passed the fields of yellow corn,
They caught a vision far away,
A dream of peace—a happy day,
When they should drop their lurid torches,
And build along these lovely slopes,
And sit at home in their own porches,
Where died in smoke the red man’s hopes.

They passed along the rocky ledges,
Above the gorges deep and wild,
And dreamed along the water edges,
With nook and glen and cove beguiled;
And thought of sloping farms that yet
Should wear the golden coronet;
Of coming far off glad Septembers,
When they should fear no foeman’s scorn,
To leave the waste of dying embers,
Along their fields of ripening corn.

Rev. Dwight Williams
Lake Cayuga Region
Circa 1890

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Burning Onondaga, April '79

21st. this morning set of about Day Break on the same line of march and went about 6 Miles when we halted, Capt. Graham with his Compy. was sent forward as an advance party then proceeded on to the Onandaga lake about 8 Miles in length & 4 in Breath waded an arm of it about 4 foot deep and 200 yards wide and came to Onandaga creek, small but deep, had to cross it on a log. Capt. Grahams Co Just as he had crossed the creek caught an Indian who was shooting Pidgeons & made him prisoner, And we got some Information from him, then proceeded on till we come within about one Mile of the Town...

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How the West Was Won

In September, 1776, Congress had passed resolutions for the enlistment of soldiers to serve during the Revolutionary War, resolved that each state was to furnish its respective quotas, and that Congress should make provision for granting lands to the officers and soldiers who should thus engage in the service and continue therein to the close of the war, or until discharged by Congress, and to the representative of such officers and soldiers as should be slain by the enemy. The expense of said lands was to be borne by the states in the same proportion as other expenses of the war, and were to be granted in the following proportion:

To a colonel, 500 acres; lieutenant-colonel, 400 acres; major, 400 acres; captain, 300 acres; lieutenant, 200 acres; ensign, 150 acres; each noncommissioned officer and soldier, 100 acres.

Later, in August, 1780, Congress further provided that a major-general should have 1,100 acres and a brigadier-general should have 850 acres.

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Like Cortez and Sherman, But...

The expedition of General John Sullivan against the hostile Indian tribes of the north was one of the most important military movements of the Revolutionary war. Undertaken during one of the darkest periods which the struggling Colonies saw, it furnishes an example of devotion, heroism and noble self-sacrifice tghat has seldom been equalled int hte annals of history. The daring and intrepid march has been not inaptly compared to the famous expedition of Cortez to the ancient halls of Montezuma, or that later brilliant military achievement, Sherman's march to the sea. In many respects it was a remarkable undertaking, and the boldness of its conception was only equalled by the bravery and determination with which its hardship and danger were met and its objects accomplished.

Notwithstanding the magnitude of the undertaking, however, and the beneficent results, immediate and remote, which are to be attributed to it, no portion of the history of the Revolution has received less attention from historians than this expedition.

A. Tiffany Norton
History of Sullivan's Campaign Against the Iroquois

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An Eerie Canal

The forest which covers it, consisting chiefly [of] trees that live in excessive moisture, is now decayed and death struck, by the partial draining of the swamp into the great ditch of the canal. ...In spots, where destruction had been riotous, the lanterns showed perhaps a hundred trunks, erect, half overthrown, extended along the ground, resting on their shattered limbs, or tossing them desperately into the darkness, but all of one ashey-white, all naked together, in desolate confusion...The scene was ghost-like -- the very land of unsubstantial things, whither dreams might betake themselves, when they quit the slumberer's brain.

Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Canal Boat
A Description of the Erie Canal
December 1835

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God's Chosen

Indeed to see a forest tree, which had withstood the elements till it attained maturity, torn up by its roots, and bending itself to the earth, in obedience to the command of man, is a spectacle that must awaken feelings of gratitutde to that Being, who has bestowed on his creatures so much power and wisdom.

Cadwallader D. Colden
Grandson of the Canal Visionary

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