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Murder of Jenny M’Crea

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

July 27. –General Burgoyne is at Fort Edward, and has with him about six thousand regulars, three or four hundred Indians, and about two hundred Canadians. The frequent injuries and horrible actions committed by his scouting parties on single unarmed men and defenceless women, are sufficient to give every man a thorough detestation of their whole conduct; and were not the Tories’ hearts made of more than iron hardness, it would inspire them with a desire of ridding this world of such a set of villains as their army is in general composed of. Several of our officers and soldiers have been inhumanly shot as they passed from one fort to another unarmed, and scalped while yet alive. It would take too much time to enumerate every action of this kind. One instance which happened yesterday, during a skirmish, may serve for the whole. A young lady, by the name of Miss Jenny M’Crea1, of a good family, and some share of beauty, was, by some accident, at Fort Edward when the enemy attacked the picket guard. She and an old woman were taken by the savages, who generally serve as an advance guard or flanking parties to the regulars, (the latter of whom were drawn up on a hill just above the fort,) and then, with a barbarity unheard of before, they butchered the poor innocent girl, and scalped her in the sight of those very men who are continually preaching up their tender mercies, and the forbearance of their more than Christian King. Is not this sufficient to congeal the heart of humanity with horror, and even oblige a Tory of liberal sentiments to curse the cause which approves or winks at such worse than hell-like cruelties?

The unfortunate maid’s corpse was brought to Snook Hill last night, together with a young lieutenant, a Mr. Van Rachter, of Brunswick, who is also scalped, and will be interred to-day. What renders this affair more remarkable is, that Miss M’Crea has a brother an officer in the British service, now at New York, and she herself leaned to that side of the question; but thus they treat their friends as well as their enemies. The young lady has also a brother a senior surgeon in our hospital, a. worthy, sensible young fellow, who will not forget the injury, but revenge it tenfold.2

1 Also known as Jane McCrea or MacCrea.
2 Pennsylvania Evening Post, August 12. Another writer in the same paper gives the following account: –In retreating from Fort Edward the Americans brought off the grain and forage, and destroyed what they could not remove. Many families fled; those that would not come away, relying on General Burgoyne’s proclamation, were killed, scalped, or inhumanly butchered by the Indians, without any discrimination of Whigs or Tories. A Miss M’Crea, who was to have been married to one Jones, a Tory, who had joined the enemy, and whom she daily expected to bring her off, was dragged by the savages out of her house, shot twice through her body, her clothes torn off her back, and left scalped in the bushes. This brutal scene was transacted by four Indians, under cover of three hundred British regulars, drawn up at a small distance, and in sight of an advanced party of Americans, who could give her no assistance. Several families have been murdered and scalped by the Indians; man, wife, and five or six children, and their negroes. Many families have fallen a sacrifice to their credulity in Burgoyne’s proclamation, which promised protection to all who remained peaceably and quiet at their houses with their stock, &c.

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