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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 71: Battles of Johnstown and Butler's Ford.

[This information is from Vol. II, pp. 1069-1084 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. Some images have been relocated to the area in the text where they are discussed. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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1781 — October 24, Ross and Butler's Tory and Indian raid in Montgomery and Fulton Counties — October 25, American victory at Johnstown — Willett's pursuit, killing of Walter Butler and defeat of the enemy at West Canada Creek, October 30 — Rejoicing in the Mohawk Valley.

Small guerilla parties continued to lurk around the frontier settlements during the remainder of the summer and early autumn of 1781. The vigilance of Col. Willett's scouts prevented their doing any great damage. The Tories, however, had lost none of their animosity against their former neighbors in the Mohawk Valley, and in the late autumn of this year again took the field.

In October, 1781, occurred the last great raid, which took place during the war in the limits of western Montgomery or within present Montgomery and Fulton Counties. The invaders were so severely punished by the valley troops under Willett, that it had a deterrent effect upon their further enterprises of this kind, at least in the neighborhood of Willett's headquarters at Fort Plain.

This last local foray was commanded by Major Ross and Walter Butler and consisted of 700 Tories and Indians and British regulars. Ross was afterward in command of the British fort at Oswego, when Capt. Thompson came from Fort Plain bearing to the enemy news of an armistice between England and the United States. Of this interesting journey mention is made in a following chapter. October 24, 1781, the enemy broke in upon the Mohawk settlements from the direction of the Susquehanna, at Currytown, where they had so ravaged the country a few months earlier. They burned no buildings as they did not wish their presence yet known to the neighboring militia. That same morning a scouting party went from Fort Plain towards Sharon Springs, there separating, all of them returning to their post except Jacob Tanner and Frederick Ottman, who set out for Currytown, where Tanner wished to visit his family. Near Argusville they came in touch with the enemy, who were approaching the Mohawk by the southwest route. The two American scouts ran down Flat Creek and, throwing away their guns and knapsacks, escaped and spread the alarm. At the Putman place (Willow Basin, in the town of Root below the Nose), they came upon a funeral party attending services over the remains of Frederick Putman, who had been killed by the enemy while hunting martin up Yatesville Creek. Thus warned, the party broke up and its members fled for safety and to warn others.

The enemy in force, to the number of 700, went from Argusville to Currytown, plundering houses on their way but avoiding the little fort at that place. From Currytown they made for the Mohawk and there came upon and captured the two scouts, Tanner and Ottman, Rudolf Keller and his wife, Michael Stowitts and Jacob Myers, all returning from the Putman funeral, and later took John Lewis near the river. Mrs. Keller was left near Yatesville (now Randall) by the intercession of a Tory nephew. Half a dozen other women just previously taken were also left here, among them Mrs. Adam Fine and a girl named Moyer. The invaders after this did not encumber themselves with any more women prisoners on this raid. Myers was an old man and, on the forced and terrible march which followed the Tory defeat at Johnstown he could not keep up with the party and was killed and scalped.

Leaving the Yatesville neighborhood, Major Ross led his party on the south side down the Mohawk, taking the new road recently laid over Stone Ridge, into the present town of Glen. On the ridge they came at twilight to the Wood home, and took there John Wood captive. Here Joseph Printup, a lieutenant of militia, was at his son's (William I. Printup) house, as were also Jacob Frank, John Loucks and John Van Alstyne, neighbors. Printup had been cleaning his gun and, as he reloaded it, said: "Now I'm ready for the Indians." Almost at the same instant the advance party was seen approaching the house. Frank and Loucks ran for the woods, Loucks being shot down and scalped and Frank escaping. Printup fired on the advance party. An Indian put his gun to the patriot's breast, but a Tory friend of Printup's, with the Indians, struck the gun down and the Whig lieutenant was hit in the thigh. The Tory interfered and saved Printup's life and then he was made prisoner. Several times during the following march the lieutenant was saved from the Indians' tomahawks by his friend of the enemy. Printup suffered agonies on the way but finally got to Johnstown, where an old Scotch woman, Mrs. Van Sickler (probably the wife of Johnstown's first blacksmith and also Sir William's), interceded for him and he was left at her house. From here he returned to Stone Ridge and was finally cured of his wounds. At the time of his capture Van Alstyne was also made prisoner and he helped Printup along the road. According to the Indian custom, had he not been able to keep up, he would have been at once scalped and killed.

[Photo: Fulton County Jail, Johnstown, 1772.]

Jacob, a brother of the former Van Alstyne, was taken shortly after as was Evert Van Epps. John C., a son of Charles Van Epps, spread the alarm on horseback down the river, and the inhabitants fled to safety in the woods. At Auriesville Printup told Van Alstyne to escape if he could and the latter promptly ran for liberty up the ravine. The enemy continued on to Yankee Hill, in the town of Florida, fording the Schoharie at its mouth. Captain Snook sent Conrad Stein to warn the settlers hereabouts, who mostly escaped.

On the morning of October 25, 1781, the invading party broke camp, forded the Mohawk, entered the town of Amsterdam and headed for Johnstown, small parties of Indians meanwhile raiding the country in every direction. Houses were burned belonging to farmers by the name of Wart, Henry Rury, Captain Snook, John Stein, Samuel Pettingill, William DeLine, Patrick Connelly, George Young and several others in the neighborhood. A man named Bowman was killed and scalped.

The raiders crossed the Mohawk near Stanton's Island, below Amsterdam. Here they burned the houses of Timothy Hunt and Nathan Skeels. Soon after the Tory main body went over the ford a Whig named Ben Yates came up on the south bank and saw an Indian on the opposite shore. "Discovering Yates and, doubting his ability to harm him, he turned 'round and slapped his buttocks in defiance. In the next instant, a bullet from the rifle of Ben struck the Indian, and the former had only to ford the river to get an extra gun and some plunder made in the neighborhood."

That same morning Capt. Littel led a scouting party from the Johnstown fort to learn the enemy's whereabouts. Five miles east of Johnstown they came upon Ross's advance party. Here Lieut. Saulkill, of the scouts, was killed and the rest of the party fled and later were in the ensuing battle. At Johnstown, Hugh McMonts and David and William Scarborough were killed by the raiders.

As soon as the news reached Col. Willett at Fort Plain he started to the rescue with what men he could hastily collect. Marching through the night he reached Fort Hunter the next morning (October 25, 1781), but the enemy had already crossed the river and directed their course toward Johnstown, plundering and burning right and left. Willett's force lost some time in fording the Mohawk which was not easily passable at this point, but this accomplished the pursuit was vigorously prosecuted and the enemy were overtaken at Johnstown.

Col. Willett had but 416 men, and his inferiority of force compelled a resort to strategy in attacking. Accordingly Col. Rowley, of Massachusetts, was detached with about 60 of his men and some of the Tryon County militia to gain the rear of the enemy by a circuitous march and fall upon them, while Col. Willett attacked them in front. The invaders were met by Col. Willett near Johnson Hall and the battle immediately began. It was for a time hotly contested, but at length the patriot militia, under Willett, suddenly gave way and fled precipitately, before their commander could induce them to make a stand. The enemy would have won an easy and complete victory had not Col. Rowley at this moment attacked vigorously upon their rear and obstinately maintained an unequal contest. Willett's men fled to Johnstown but later returned to the field. At nightfall, after a severe struggle, the enemy overcome and harassed on all sides, fled in confusion to the woods, not halting to encamp until they had gone several miles. In the engagement the Americans lost about 40; the enemy had about the same number killed and 50 taken prisoners. This American victory was won on the northwest limits of the present city of Johnstown and near Johnson Hall, where a monument marks the field.

[Photo: Johnstown Battle Marker.]

A young patriot, named William Scarborough, was among the garrison at the Johnstown fort at the time of this action, left it with another soldier named Crosset, to join Willett's force. They fell in with the enemy on the way, and Crosset, after shooting one or two of the latter, was himself killed. Scarborough was surrounded and captured by a company of Highlanders under Capt. McDonald, formerly living near Johnstown. Scarborough and the Scotch officer had been neighbors before the war and had got into a political wrangle, which resulted in a fight and the beating of the Highland chief. Henceforward he cherished a bitter hatred toward his adversary, and finding him now in his power, ordered him shot at once. His men refusing the murderous office, McDonald took it upon himself, and cut the prisoner to pieces with his sword.

Capt. Andrew Fink of Palatine was also in the Johnstown battle. During the action near the Hall, the British took from the Americans a field-piece, which Col. Willett was anxious to recover. He sent Capt. Fink with a party of volunteers, to reconnoitre the enemy and if possible get the lost cannon. Three of the volunteers were Christian and Myndert Fink, brothers of the captain, and George Stansell. While observing the movements of the enemy from the covert of a fallen tree, Stansell was shot down beside his brave leader with a bullet through his lungs, and was borne from the woods by Han Yost Fink. Strengthening his body of volunteers, Capt. Fink again entered the forest. The cannon was soon after recaptured and, it being near night and the enemy having fled, Willett drew off his men and quartered them in the old Episcopal Church at Johnstown, gaining entrance by breaking a window.

The day after the battle Col. Willett ordered Capt. Littel to send a "scout" (scouting party as then called) from Fort Johnstown to follow the enemy, discover its direction and to report the same. Captain Littel had been slightly wounded in the Hall battle but took with him William Laird and Jacob Shew and set out after the enemy. (Shew was on service in many of the neighborhood posts, Fort Plain included, and is responsible for much of the information Simms used regarding local events.)

The enemy camped the first night near Bennett's Corners, four miles from the Hall, and the following day, striking the Garoga Valley, went up that stream and went into camp for the night (Oct. 26, 1781) half a mile beyond the outlet of Garoga Lakes. The next day Littel's scouting party came up and warmed themselves at Ross's deserted camp fires. After further observing the enemy's trail Littel became satisfied that they would go to Canada by way of Buck's Island. His party lodged in the woods, near Ross's last camp, and returned to Fort Johnstown next day, from whence Peter Yost was sent on horse, with messages to Col. Willett at Fort Dayton, to which post he had advanced.

Ross's party meanwhile was heading for West Canada Creek The retreating Tories and Indians struck the most easterly of the Jerseyfield roads (leading to Mount's clearing), followed it several miles and encamped for the night on what has since been called Butler's Ridge in the town of Norway (Herkimer County), half a mile from Black Creek.

Early the next morning (October 26, 1781) Willett started his pursuit. He halted at Stone Arabia, and sent forward a detachment of troops to make forced marches to Oneida Lake, where he was informed the enemy had left their boats, for the purpose of destroying them. In the meanwhile he pushed forward with the main force to German Flats, where he learned the advance party had returned without accomplishing their errand. From his scouts of the Johnstown Fort party, he also learned that the enemy had taken a northerly course to strike the West Canada Creek. With about 400 of his best men, he started in pursuit in the face of a driving snow storm.

The route of the pursuing band of Americans was as follows: From Fort Dayton up West Canada Creek, crossing it about a mile above Fort Dayton, going up its eastern side to Middleville, from there up the Moltner Brook to the Jerseyfield Road leading to Little Falls; striking the Jerseyfield Road northeast of present Fairfield Village, following it up and camping at night a mile or two from the enemy's position.

Willett's camp was in a thick woods on the Royal Grant. He sent out a scouting party under Jacob Sammons to discover the enemy. Sammons found them a mile or so above and, after reconnoitering their position, returned and reported to Col. Willett that the enemy were well armed with bayonets.

The American officer gave up the plan of a night attack upon them and continued his pursuit early the next morning (October 30, 1781), but the enemy were as quick on foot as he. In the afternoon he came up with a lagging party of Indians, and a short but sharp skirmish ensued. Some of the Indians were killed, some taken prisoners and others escaped. Willett kept upon the enemy's trail along the creek, and toward evening came up with the main body at a place called Jerseyfield, on the northeastern side of West Canada Creek. A running fight ensued, the Indians became terrified and retreated across the stream at a ford, where Walter Butler, their leader, tried to rally them. In this action it is said 25 of the enemy were killed and a number wounded. A brisk fire was kept up across the creek by both parties for some time. Butler, who had dismounted, left cover and took some water out of the creek with a tin cup. He was in the act of drinking it when he was seen by two of the American pursuing party — Anthony, an Indian, and Daniel Olendorf, a man from the present town of Minden. They both fired at once at Butler, who fell wounded in the head. The savage then threw off his blanket, put his rifle on it and ran across the stream to where Butler lay in great pain, supporting his head on his hand. Seeing the Indian brandishing his tomahawk, the Tory raised his other hand saying, "Spare me — give me quarters!" "Me give you Sherry Valley quarters" replied the red man and struck Butler dead with his weapon, burying it in his head. Just as the Tory captain fell, Col. Willett came up on the opposite side of the creek. Olendorf told him where Butler lay and the American commander together with Andrew Gray of Stone Arabia and John Brower forded the stream and came upon the scene just as Anthony was about to take his dead victim's scalp. Col. Lewis, the Oneida chief with the American party here came up also and Anthony asked permission to scalp the fallen Tory. The red officer asked Willett if he should permit it. Col. Willett replied: "He belongs to your party, Col. Lewis," whereupon the chief gave a nod of assent and the reeking scalp was torn off the quivering body of the man who had incited his savages to inflict death and the same bloody mutilation on the bodies of scores of men, women and children.

Anthony stripped Butler and returned across the creek to Olendorf. Here the savage put on the red regimentals and strutted about saying: "I be British ofser." "You a fool," remarked Olendorf and told the Indian that if he was seen in Butler's uniform he would be instantly shot by mistake. The savage thereupon hurriedly shed his victim's clothes.

Butler's body was left where it fell, and the place was afterwards called Butler's Ford. The pursuit was kept up next day, when Willett, completely successful by entirely routing and dispersing the enemy, stopped and started on his return march.

The sufferings of the retreating force of beaten Tories and Indians, on their way to Canada, must have been many and acute. The weather was cold and, in their hasty flight, many of then had cast away their blankets to make progress more speedy. The loss of the Americans in this pursuit was only one man; that of the enemy is not known. It must have been very heavy. Colonel Willett, in his dispatch to Governor Clinton observed, "The fields of Johnstown, the brooks and rivers, the hills and mountains, the deep and gloomy marshes through which they had to pass, they alone can tell; and perhaps the officers who detached them on the expedition."

On account of the inclement weather and the lack of provisions, Willett and his force returned to Fort Dayton, after abandoning the chase of the badly beaten enemy. Here the people had gathered together and prepared a feast for the victorious American soldiers and their able commander. And the occasion was also one of great rejoicing over the death of Butler, from whom the people of Tryon County had suffered so much.

The news of the Johnstown and West Canada Creek victories and the death of Butler was spread through the valley at about the same time as the tidings of the surrender of the British army under Cornwallis at Yorktown. That great event did not give any more joy to the people along the Mohawk than the welcome assurance that the fiend Butler had been wiped out in the vigorous pursuit by Willett and his fighting men. Willett's return to his headquarters at Fort Plain must have been in the nature of a triumphal march and he probably was there heartily greeted by the much tried people of the Canajoharie and Palatine districts.

* * * * *

The papers collected by Hon. Thomas Sammons, the Revolutionary patriot, and known as "the Sammons papers" contain an account of the battle of Johnstown by Lieutenant William Wallace. He was the guide who evidently piloted the Tryon County militia detachment, under the command of Major Rowley, to take up their position in the rear of and attack Ross's force from behind while Col. Willett made the frontal attack. Willett's men were defeated but Rowley's soldiers made such a stubborn attack against three times their number that the enemy fled when Willett returned to the attack. It would seem from Wallace's narrative that the victory was entirely due to the regulars and local militia under Major Rowley, who was severely wounded. The date of the Johnstown battle was October 25, 1781.

Col. Willett's force numbered only 416 men and Ross had over 700. Hence Willett resorted to the strategy of an attack in front and rear at the same time. His forces were evidently about evenly divided, giving about 200 men under Willett and 200 under Rowley. The latter had 60 Massachusetts regulars and about 150 Tryon County militia. Willett attacked Ross in front, evidently before Rowley got up. Greatly outnumbered, Willett's men were driven back to Johnstown shortly after which Rowley attacked Ross in the rear with great success and when Willett returned to the fight the enemy fled to the woods and the American victory of Johnstown was complete. After Willett was reinforced in Johnstown village by a party of Tryon militia, it is evident that over half his force, which then numbered 500, were Mohawk Valley militiamen.

Lieut. Wallace's account is a most interesting document relative to this important valley campaign and it is seemingly the best description of the Johnstown battle that has come under the notice of the editor of this work. It was originally published in the Mohawk Valley Democrat of Fonda, and is here reprinted in full, as follows:

"Col. Willett, having sent Rowley on with the militia to come in the rear of Ross, continued his march with the state troops on the main road through the village of Johnstown to the Hall farm, where Ross had arrived a little before. When Willett advanced, Ross fell back a short distance in the woods [and] formed an ambush. Willett's advance guard advanced in the woods while Willett formed his men on the field, with his field piece, for battle. His advance was repulsed with some loss. Ross ordered his men to leave their knapsacks where the ambush was formed and formed his men for battle. [He] advanced up to Willett on the field with his whole force [and] attacked him very furious. In a few minutes, Willett's men retreated and run in confusion to the village of Johnstown [and] left their field piece with the enemy. [The enemy] pursued Willett's men until near the village of Johnstown, about one mile. Ross * * * [did not know] the militia was in his rear [and] expected he had defeated all the forces Willett had collected, so Major Rowley came on them unexpectedly, while some were as much as a mile apart looking for plunder. Willett and Ross had commenced their engagement about one o'clock. Rowley attacked Ross about two o'clock.

"Lieut. William Wallace, who brought on the Tryon County militia, [had been] appointed by Col. Willett as a pilot under the command of Major Rowley of Massachusetts. This detachment was sent from Col. Willett [over] the road leading to the river on the hill south of the village [of Johnstown] and crossed the creek near where Nicholas Yost's mill is and went onward till some distance above the Hall, then came downward to the east on the north side of the Hall creek, when, coming near or by the clear lands they discovered the enemy in different places on the Hall farm.

"The enemy soon formed some of their men. Rowley's men advanced, fired on the enemy, [and] the enemy immediately advanced with some of their men to the right of Rowley along or near the Hall creek. Rowley ordered Wallace to meet them. Some of the men volunteered [and] they run to meet them. Wallace told the men not to fire till he told them, but one of his men fired and killed the officer [who] marched forward. When they fired from both parties, the enemy's detachment run. Rowley found the enemy collected [in] considerable force and stood. * * * [He] then received a ball through the ankle. He was carried back and the enemy then retreated back of a fence from where they were soon routed to another place where they made a stand. The enemy, having left some men with a field piece they had taken from Willett, they were also attacked by some militiamen. They abandoned it, the ammunition was blown up [and] the field piece was no more used that day. The militiamen left the cannon and fell on the enemy [and] generally routed the enemy; but in some part of the scrimmaging [the enemy] drove the militia back. None of the militia left the field, they continued to prevent Ross from uniting his men together and, about sunset, Ross's men had all left the field and the militia had gained a complete victory. About this time Willett returned from the village of Johnstown. The militiamen brought [in] about 40 prisoners, picked forth from scattered men of Ross's men — probably not above two or three taken together.

"Willett, when he fell back to the village, received about 100 of the Tryon County militia. Why this delay of Willett was is difficult to know — from two to six o'clock. [He had] a much superior force in the village to Rowley, after he was joined with 100 militiamen. After Major Rowley was wounded, it is difficult to know, who was commander. Some privates, where small parties met, assumed command. The officers, wherever they were, did their duty — no confusion or none left the field until the enemy was completely drove from the field.

"Thus, for a second time, the militia of Tryon County defeated the enemy with a very inferior number. At Oriskany, the enemy were two to one in a battle of about five hours, were completely drove back [and] left Herkimer unmolested to make biers [litters] and carry their wounded off. With Ross left, then 250 [American soldiers] drove Ross from the field with seven or 800 men-like bulldogs, 'hold fast or die with the holt'."

* * * * *

The Mohawk Valley Democrat (Fonda), in its issue of February 27, 1913, printed a statement of Philip Graff, a Mohawk Valley soldier who took part in the West Canada Creek skirmish and was present at the death of Walter Butler. This document has been in the possession of the Sammons family for over a century. Graff's account differs somewhat from Olendorf's, but both are probably true, the confusion of the battle preventing both from seeing all its incidents individually. The Graff statement follows in its original verbatim form:

"In October, 1781, I was inlisted in the state troops for four months and was then stationed at Fort Herkimer in a company of Capt. Peter Van Ranselaer [Rensselaer] and Lieut. John Spencer. Some time in November after Col. Willett had a battle with Major Ross at Johnstown he arrived at Fort Herkimer. Our company then was ordered to join with Col. Willett's men and with them we crossed the river from the south to the north side the next morning; we were marched to the north through the Royal Grants and encamped in the woods, made fire; some snow had fell that day. The next morning by daybreak we marched on to the enemy about one and came with the rear of the enemy, took some prisoners and Lieut. John Rykeman, several of their horses with blankets and provisions and packs on — we then pursued the enemy on to Jersey Field and in coming down a hill to the creek, we received a very strong fire from the enemy who had [crossed] the West Canada Creek, which was returned from Willett's men with spirit. The enemy on the west side of the creek and Willett's men on the east side. One of the Oneida Indians having got near the creek saw Major Butler look from behind a tree to Willett's men at the east, took aim at him and shot him through his hat and upper part of his head. Butler fell, the enemy run, the Indian run through the rest of the Indians and [an] advance immediately followed when Indian who shot Butler arrived first having noticed particular where Butler fell; he was tottering up and down in great agony, partly setting, looking the Indian in the face when the Indian shot him about through the eyebrow and eye and immediately took his scalp off. The Oneida Indians then mostly got up and give tremendous yell and war hoop, immediately striped Butler of all his close, left him naked laying on his face. The Indian walked forward (the rest followed) with the scalp in his hand; came to the guard called out, 'I have Butler's scalp,' struck it against a tree, 'take the blood' [evidently addressing] Lieut. Rykeman who was in the guard, [and] struck it at his face [saying] 'Butler's scalp, you Bogen.' Rykeman drew his head back and avoided the stroke. I saw two [of] his sergeants and little farther saw another of the enemy shot through the body. Butler was killed about 11 o'clock. We pursued the enemy until evening and returned the morning, past Butler again in the position we left him the day before. I believe he never was buried."

* * * * *

Some incidents of the West Canada Creek pursuit follow:

Soon after crossing West Canada Creek, some of Willett's men found a little five-year-old girl beneath a fallen tree, crying piteously. She had been made a prisoner and left by the Indians in their flight. The militiamen comforted her and took her back to her valley home. The weather at this time was very severe and the sufferings of the enemy and their prisoners were intense.

A militiaman named Lodowick Moyer, who was in the American pursuit, said that "ice was forming in the creeks and, in crossing them, the soldiers took off their pantaloons (note the 'pantaloons') and thought the ice would cut their legs off." They were gone four days on two days rations. He said "the enemy left a wounded Tory behind after the West Canada Creek skirmish, who had been wounded at the Hall battle. Col. Willett sent him back down the creek on a horse, with someone to care for him. He died on the way and was buried under a fallen tree. Col. Willett was as kind as he was brave."

Simms says: "The prisoners captured by Major Ross and party suffered much on their way to Canada from the cold, being 17 days journeying to the Genesee Valley, during which time they were compelled to live almost entirely on a stinted allowance of horse-flesh. Some of the prisoners wintered in the Genesee Valley and were taken to Niagara the following March. Keller, one of the Currytown prisoners, on arriving at Niagara was sold, and one Countryman, a native of the Mohawk Valley and then an officer in the British service, was his purchaser." He was sent successively to Rebel Island (near Montreal), to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and finally to Boston, "where he was exchanged and left to foot it home without money, as were many [liberated] prisoners during the war. They were however welcomed to the table of every patriot on whom they chanced to call and suffered but little by hunger. Keller reached his family near Fort Plain, whither they had removed in his absence, December 24, 1782. Van Epps, a fellow prisoner, reached his home [in Glen] about 18 months after his capture and the rest of the prisoners, taken that fall [1781], returned when he did or at subsequent periods, as they were confined in different places."

* * * * *

In the fall of 1781 Conrad Edick was captured by a party of seven marauding Indians in the neighborhood of Fort Plank, in the present town of Minden. They hurried off into the wilderness and at nightfall stopped at an abandoned log house to stay there for the night. The party made a fire, as the weather was cold, and ate a scanty supper. After this the savages sat about on the cabin floor and discussed the poor success of their expedition, lamenting the lack of spoil and prisoners they had secured. They determined to hold a pow wow in the morning, kill and scalp their prisoner and return to the vicinity of the Mohawk to secure more plunder and prisoners if possible. Edick, unbeknown to them, understood the Mohawk dialect, and was harrowed to thus learn his fate. When the Indians lay down to sleep their prisoner was placed between two of the red men and tied to them by cords passing over his breast and thighs. Sleep was out of the question for the agonized white man, as he lay trying to figure out some plan of escape. His restless hands felt about the debris on the floor and came in contact with a bit of glass, to his great joy. Assuring himself that his savage bedfellows slept soundly, he found he could reach his bindings with his hands and cautiously severed those which were fastened to his chest and then the ones about his legs. He knew the Indians had left a large watch dog on guard outside the door and he had also noticed, on his captive journey the preceding day, a large hollow log in the woods nearby. From the door he made a break for the forest and the dog at once chased him, barking loudly. Before Edick reached cover 100 yards away the Indians woke, grasped their rifles and pursued. As he neared the edge of the woods they fired at the fleeing prisoner but Edick luckily stumbled and the volley went over his head. Jumping up he ran among the trees until he found the hollow log and crawled inside. The Mohawks and their dog made a search for their escaped captive but the animal proved poor on the scent and did not discover Edick's hiding place. The savages sat down on the very log in which the white man was concealed and discussed their prisoner's escape. They decided he had climbed a tree or that "the devil" had spirited him away. As it was nearing morning the party resolved to eat and follow their plan of the night before to return and plunder along the Mohawk. One Indian went to a neighboring field and shot a sheep which they dressed. Then the savages built a fire against the same log in which Edick was hidden and proceeded to cook their mutton. The white man suffered tortures from the heat and smoke and stuffed parts of his clothing and some leaves into the crannies of the log to keep the fire out. He controlled his tortures of mind and body and desire to cough on account of the smoke, knowing he would be instantly killed if discovered. When the cooking was finished, his miseries gradually subsided with the dying fire. The savages, after their breakfast, left one of their number on guard to keep a lookout for their lost prisoner and started on their new foray. Often during the morning the Indian sentinel sat or stood on Edick's log, Not hearing the savage's movements for some time, the white man ventured to creep out of his hiding place. Not seeing the savage, Edick ran for his life and eventually reached Fort Plank in safety. Conrad Edick, after this terrible experience, lived to a ripe old age, dying at Frankfort, in 1846, aged about 80 years, which would make him under 20 at the time of the above exciting affair. Ittig was the original German for the name Edick.

* * * * *

In the latter part of October, 1781, four patriots were captured in the Sharon neighborhood by Indian marauders. Christian Myndert abandoned his home there in the fall of 1781, on account of the several Indian forays in that neighborhood. He returned with Lieut. Jacob Borst of Cobleskill, Sergeant William Kneiskern and Jacob Kerker, all armed, to fix his buildings for the winter. After the work the party went to the house, built a fire and warmed themselves, setting their guns in a corner of the room. Six Indians, commanded by a valley Tory named Walrath, broke into the room, seized the guns and captured the entire party, carrying them off to Canada. They were subjected to such cruelties in the Indian country that Borst died at Niagara.

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About the first of November, 1781, a party of seventy Tories and Indians, under Brant and Crysler, entered the upper part of Vroomans Land (present town of Middleburgh, Schoharie County). Isaac Vrooman was murdered and scalped near the house of his son, who escaped to the Upper Fort and gave the alarm. A small party of soldiers was sent in pursuit. At Bouck's Island they had a skirmish with the enemy, in which Dick Hagadorn was mortally wounded, after which the scouts retreated to the Fort. Col. Vrooman then sent out Captain Hager, the noted fighter, with about twenty Schoharie scouts, and Captain Hale with a company of troops. After a day's pursuit they came up with the enemy at Lake Utsyantha. Here the enemy made a stand and, at the first fire, Hale and his men ran away. Hager and his scouts ran back and blocked Hale's flight and Hager and Tim Murphy held up the cowardly captain and threatened to run him through. On the strength of this argument the whole party turned back to again attack the raiders but found they had taken advantage of the rumpus and had fled so that the pursuers could not catch them again.

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Major Thornton of Schenectady gave the following account of Butler's death at the battle of West Canada Creek, which is entirely different from other accounts. Major Thornton says that, when Willett's force met the enemy on the banks of the creek, a heavy fog overhung the scene. The fog lifted and disclosed the two forces. The enemy fired and killed and wounded several of the American party, who retreated up the steep bank. The fog again settled and both sides began firing. "The enemy's fire slackened and the Americans then went over and found Butler and five of the enemy dead on the banks of the creek. Thornton stated he was among the first who reached the opposite bank, but an Indian was the first of their party who went to the spot where Butler lay dead near a tree and, looking at him a moment, turned and told Thornton who it was. Thornton examined the lifeless body; the hat with a gold band around it, was then on the head. He pulled it off, saw the bullet hole in the head and no other wound or fracture about it. When Thornton started on the expedition, he wore a thin pair of summer pantaloons, which were pretty much gone when he reached the creek. The Indian pulled off Butler's pants, at Thornton's request, and the latter put them on. Major Thornton was confident no one knew, or could tell who it was that killed Butler, he being dead before any of his pursuers found him." (Benton's History of Herkimer County and the Upper Mohawk Valley.) Where there are so many conflicting accounts, it is impossible, at this late day, to tell which is correct. The main truth and satisfactory circumstance is that the fiend Butler met a just end at the battle of West Canada Creek.

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Following are the principal national occurrences of the year 1781 summarized: 1781, Jan. 17, Americans under Morgan destroy British force at Cowpens, S. C.; 1781, March 1, Articles of Confederation (adopted 1777) between the thirteen states finally go into effect; 1781, March 15, indecisive battle at Guilford Court House, S. C., between British under Tarleton and Americans under Greene; 1781, April 25, defeat of Greene's army at Hobkirk Hill, near Camden, S. C.; 1781, Sept. 6, Benedict Arnold, in command of a British force, burns and plunders New London, Conn., while his associate officer, Col. Eyre, takes Fort Griswold and massacres half the garrison after the surrender; 1781, Sept. 8, battle at Eutaw Springs, S. C., with advantage with the Americans; 1781, Oct. 19, surrender of the British army, under Cornwallis, to Washington at Yorktown, Va.

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