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Indians at Minisink

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

Last Wednesday night [May 9, 1781] a party of Indians, consisting of twenty-five, with two Tory pilots, crossed the river Delaware opposite Minisink, the principal settlement of that country.1 At daybreak they proceeded to the house of Thomas Brink, whom they made prisoner, with his two little sons, then plundered and destroyed every thing of any value in the house. From thence they went to the widow Brink’s, distant about one hundred yards, robbed her of every valuable thing in the house, and destroyed all her provisions; then marched to a house near by, where lived two young men by the names of Westbrook and Job. They entered the house while the-family were asleep; the men waked in a surprise, sprung out of bed, and made all the resistance possible, but being greatly overpowered by numbers, fell a sacrifice to savage Indians and Tories, and experienced that torture in death, which nothing but British and savage cruelty could invent. At this house they made Job’s wife, and a girl about thirteen years old, prisoners. They next proceeded to Captain Shimer’s, where they made three of his negroes prisoners; six rushed into a room next to where Captain Shimer lay, while the rest surrounded the house. An old negro woman ran to her master’s bedside, and cried out, “The Indians are all around the house, and the next room is full of them.” Upon which information he left his bed in a moment, seized his rifle, ran to the front door of the room, opened it, and saw about ten Indians before the piazza, when he presented his piece briskly from one to another, which induced the whole to run to the rear of the house; he then, by the same stratagem, drove the whole out of his house. In the mean time, two of his negroes got clear, whom he fixed at the two front doors of the house, each with an axe, with orders to defend them to the last extremity, then ran up to the second story, and began to fire out of the windows, when he soon got the assistance of a man who lay in one of the upper bed-rooms; they continued a brisk fire for near an hour, running from window to window, and making all the parade possible. The Indians continued a sharp fire upon the house during the whole time, but such was the unparalleled bravery and good conduct of Captain Shimer, that they despaired of effecting their cursed design, and began to retreat with their prisoners and plunder. At this moment Captain Shimer got a reinforcement of four good marksmen, when he put on his breeches and shoes, (having fought all the morning in his shirt,) and pursued them to the river, near a mile from his house, where he found that about one-half had crossed. He continued his pursuit with a brisk fire after the others, crying out: “Rush on, my brave boys; we’ll surround them!which so terrified the cowardly murderers, though double in number, that they ran into a swamp, leaving behind them their plunder, Mrs. Job, her little girl, and a negro man belonging to Captain Shimer. They took Mr. Brink and his two boys over with the first party. Captain Shimer, going into a back bedroom to discharge his piece, providentially prevented his two daughters, one a young woman, the other Captain Bonnel’s wife with a child in her arms, from jumping out of the window, as they were just lifting up the sash for that purpose, which was at least eighteen feet from the ground. The loss of the enemy we cannot ascertain. During the action they were seen to carry off one on a board, and several were carried away from the Pennsylvania shore; there was likewise a considerable quantity of blood seen where they passed.2


1 See note August 26.
2 New Jersey Journal, May 16. Rivington, in republishing this account in his paper of May 23, says,A Retrospect of the murders and devastations of the rebel commanders, (Mr. Sullivan in particular in his last campaign against the Indians,) will be considered fully to justify these descents.”