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Massacre at Cherry Valley

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

November 11.—This day, a party of Tories, Indians, and regulars, under the command of Colonel Butler, made a descent on the fort it Cherry Valley. An officer who was in the fort, gives the following account of the affair:

On Saturday night, 7th of November, an express arrived from Fort Stanwix, informing that an Oneida Indian had acquainted them that he sat in council in the Seneca country with the Six Nations, and other tribes, and that they had concluded to attack Fort Alden, in Cherry Valley. On Sunday morning a sergeant and twelve men were sent on the road by Beaver Dam, towards the enemy, to continue five days; another scout, with a non-commissioned officer, and five men, were sent on the road to Springfield, to continue four days; these two roads being the only avenues from the enemy’s country to this place, except an old Indian path that had been neglected by us. At the same time, we sent by the same roads scouts in the morning, which returned at night. On Wednesday, the 11th, it rained very hard; the enemy came by the above-mentioned path, past by two houses, and lodged themselves in a swamp a small distance back of Mr. Wells’ house, head-quarters; at half-past eleven, a.m., Mr. Hamlin came by and discovered two Indians, who fired upon him, and shot him through the arm; he rode to Mr. Wells’, and acquainted the colonel, the lieutenant-colonel, major, and adjutant being present; the two last (the house at this time being surrounded by Indians) got to the fort through their fire; the colonel was shot near the fort. The enemy, eight hundred in number, consisting of five hundred Indians, commanded by Brant, fifty regulars under Captain Colvill, and another captain with some of Johnson’s rangers, and above two hundred Tories, the whole under Colonel Butler’s command, immediately surrounded the fort, excluding several officers who were quartered out of the garrison, and had gone to dinner; they commenced a very heavy fire upon the fort, which held three and a half hours, and was as briskly returned; they were so near as to call to the fort and bid the “damn’d rebels” to surrender, which was answered with three cheers, and a discharge of cannon and musketry. At four p.m., the enemy withdrew. Captain Ballard sallied out with a party, which the enemy endeavored to cut off, but were prevented by a reinforcement. The next day they made it their whole business to collect horses, cattle, and sheep, which they effected, and at sunset left the place. The enemy killed, scalped, and most barbarously murdered, thirty-two inhabitants, chiefly women and children, also Colonel Alden, and the following soldiers of his regiment, viz.: Robert Henderson, Gideon Day, Thomas Sherridan, Pelletiah Adams, Simeon Hopkins, Benjamin Worcely, Thomas Holden, Daniel Dudley, Thomas Knowles, and Oliver Deball. The following officers were taken prisoners, viz.: Lieutenant-Colonel Stacey, Lieutenant Aaron Holden, Ensign Garret, Surgeon’s Mate Francis Souza De Bierve, and thirteen privates; burnt twenty-four houses with all the grain, &c., took above sixty inhabitants prisoners, part of whom they released on going off. They committed the most inhuman barbarities on most of the dead. Robert Henderson’s head was cut off, his skull bone was cut out with the scalp. Mr. Willis’ sister was ripped up, a child of Mr. Willis’, two months old, scalped, and arm cut off; the clergyman’s wife’s leg and arm cut off, and many others as cruelly treated. Many of the inhabitants and soldiers shut out from the fort, lay all night in the rain with the children, who suffered very much. The cattle that were not easy to drive, they shot. We were informed by the prisoners they sent back, that the lieutenant-colonel, all the officers and continental soldiers, were stripped and drove naked before them.

The fort was commanded by the brave Major Whiting, of Dedham, in Massachusetts, and the two cannon under the direction of the brave Captain Hickling, of Boston, who was chief engineer in building the fort, and whose assistance contributed in saving it.1


1 New Jersey Gazette. December 31.