Saturday, January 12, 2013


- The Northern Theater which was part of the American Revolutionary War --From 1778 to 1782, there were a number of battles that occurred between the American revolutionists and the British.  The areas of battle were New York City, Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New England. 

The British held quarters of operation in New York City and therefore there were skirmishes that occurred in that area.  The other location of battles was seen on the frontier of Upstate New York and the northern end of rural Pennsylvania.  The second area being fought by militia of each state involved and Indian allies against the Loyalist troops, Indians, British Indian Agents and British troops. 

In New England the French allied with American's against the British, trying to force them out of Newport, Rhode Island.

After the Saratoga Campaign, the frontier war began.  Recognizing the United States, France entered as an alliance.  The French sent a fleet and an army to America, as well as the Caribbean and East Indies, and tried to encourage Spain to join also.  This meant that the British had to split forces from North America to their hold in the West Indies, as well as other land holdings that were being threatened with invasion.  They also had to be concerned about French invading Great Britain.  So they left Philadelphia in 1778, making New York City their main location of operation for the Northern Theater of the war.  But, they also had a plan to take over colonies in North and South Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia.  It became the main focus for the remainder of the war, but there were still battles happening in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Rhode Island and New York. 

The British were using American Loyalists and Native Indian allies, and these were the troops that were sent out on raiding expeditions.  These raids were against colonial settlements on the northern and western frontier lands, as well as using British naval maneuvers raiding the New England coastline.

So while British were leaving Philadelphia by 1778, French fleets were arriving by July helping to increase the colonists actions against the British.  While the continental army was engaged in these larger battles, the state militia and settlers of the north and west frontier lands in both Pennsylvania and New York were dealing with the raids that the British were strategically planning from their Quebec headquarters.  The settlers themselves had to organize their own militia, supported by few Continental Army Regiments at first.  These Regiments were from Cherry Valley (a village in Otsego County, NY), Fort Schuyler ( which was originally Fort Stanwix, in present-day Rome, NY) and Wyoming Valley (which was originally considered part of Connecticut, but is now Luzerne County, PA.).  Although the colonists were alerted by the friendly Oneida Indians to oncoming raids, the attacks were devastating.

Battle of Wyoming Marker

British forces aided by the Seneca Indians attacked Wyoming Valley on July 3, 1778, at the Battle of Wyoming (also known as the Wyoming Massacre), killing more than 300 Patriots, out of 360 24th Regiment Connecticut militia, a small detachment of Continentals and Wyoming riflemen.  Colonel Butler claimed they took 227 scalps, burned 1000 houses, and drove off livestock.  Only 60 men escaped.  Some of the Loyalists and Iroquois killed and tortured prisoners, committing atrocious acts.  One hundred and seventy-eight names of those known Patriots killed at this battle are listed on the Wyoming Monument which was erected in honor of those brave souls who fought so valiantly.   It is believed that up to 200 colonists on that day ran into the swamps rather than surrender to Colonel Butler, dying of exposure to the elements.  This swamp became known as the 'Shades of Death.'

Depiction of the battle by Alonzo Chappel, 1858

Mohawk Leader Joseph Brant and his tribe, attacked Cobleskill, NY while the colonists were being massacred in Wyoming Valley.

Of the Six Indian Nations, only the Oneida and the Tuscarora were Patriot Allies.

The frontier wars, namely in the Mohawk, Susquehanna, Delaware and upper Hudson River Valleys, and at times into what is now Vermont (at the time, part of New York),  became so brutual, that the Continental Congress called the army to action.  As a result of the call by the Continental Congress and in retaliation of the Wyoming Massacre,  the Sullivan expedition of 1779, was ordered by George Washington, sending General John Sullivan to subdue Indian Attacks.  He and his forces destroyed 40 Iroquois villages, as well as a huge amount of stored food supplies in upstate New York. They drove the Iroquois northern into Quebec by attacking their villages, and defeated Mohawk leader Joseph Brant and John Butler's troops at the Battle of Newtown.  Brant had attacked other American allied tribal villages such as the Oneida, so that between Sullivan's raids and Brant's forces, much of the Iroquois territory was reduced to sporadic refugees.  Despite the ravaging destruction, Sullivan's expedition did not stop the Indians from continuing the raids.  However, the Iroquois never recovered from Sullivan's destruction to their food supplies and villages.  Many died of starvation that winter.

Although peace was initially agreed to in 1782, Mohawk leader Joseph Brant still tried to continue fighting.  When the British no longer supplied him, his efforts ended.


The Battle of Wyoming, also known as the Wyoming Massacre, is memorialized by the Wyoming Monument and the anniversary of the occurrence on July 3, 1778.  It is observed annually by the 24th Connecticut Militia Revolutionary War re-enactors who volley tribute.The Wyoming Commemorative Association represents some of the leading families of the greater Wilkes-Barre area as well as descendents of those who fought in the battle.  The battle was fought in what is present day Exeter, Pennsylvania.  The original fort was located at Forty Fort, Pa.

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