Sullivan's End


Keystone Ramblings

by Richmond E. Myers
Call Chronicle Columnist


Two centuries ago this coming Wednesday, a very unusual, and at the same time historic service was held in the then German Reformed Church of Easton. This service marked the official end of Gen. Sullivan's campaign against the Indians and Tories in New York State, of which we have been telling our readers from time to time over these past summer Sundays.

However, before we tell about that service, let us return to Tioga Point and learn what was taking place there at Ft. Sullivan while the army was wreaking the Indian country in the Finger Lakes region

Following the victory at Newtown, the boats and heavier cannon and the wounded were sent back to Ft. Sullivan. A small garrison of 800 men were left there to guard the boats and supplies needed to return the army to civilization when the time came. Col. Isarel Shreve was left in command. He had a responsible job. His position was isolated. His provisions were not abundant. He kept his men busy reinforcing the stockade and patching the boats. Everyone was urged to take meticulous care of his firearm and powder. With the arrival of supplies from down river, Shreve dispatched the wounded to Wyoming. A temporary supply base was set up near the present Elmira, to service Sullivan's troops when they returned.

All the while the fear of ambush was present. Col. Shreve warned his troops that in case of attack, everyone must realize that there could be no retreat, he therefore urged his men to "spiritedly defend the works, to conquer or perish." However there was no attack. On Sept.30, Sullivan and his army returned, marching in good military formation, and there were cannon salutes and martial music.

The army left behind a total of 41 burned villages, along with 200,000 bushels of burned corn , to say nothing of the quantities of fruit trees chopped down and general destruction everywhere they passed.

The bread basket of the Long House was totally out of commission.

Two days after his return, Gen. Sullivan threw a party for all his officers. The party ended with an Indian dance in which the officers in Indian masks coverted around the stockade with war whoops and complete lack of military dignity. The next day the stockade was demolished and the return trek to Easton was begun

There, on Oct. 17,1779 , a Thanksgiving service was held in the German Reformed Church (present day First United Church of Christ). This was attended by the general and his officers, who were given a testimonial congratulating the general on his "success against the Confederate Indians of the Western Country." The tribute noted: "With sentiments of affection, we welcome your return, and being conscious of the exertions you have made to secure our happiness, we offer you those thanks which arise from the warmth of gratitude. We are no strangers to the innumerable difficulties and hardships you have labored under and are fully acquainted with the many inconveniences which attended your expedition, but the unparalleled perseverance and firmness of the officers and soldiers under your command have enabled you to surmount every obstacle with credit and justly calls for the applause of a grateful country. By order and in behalf of the inhabitants of Northampton County, we have the honor to inscribe ourselves very respectfully, the General's most obedient and humble servants."

This document was signed by Thomas Sillyman, Samuel Rea, Robert Lettie Hooper Jr., Peter Kichlein and Anthony Lerch.

To which Gen Sullivan replied (in part): I can not forbear expressing my obligation to the inhabitants of Northampton County, whose spirited and patriotic exertions have enabled me to accomplish such an expedition, which I flatter myself will ever secure your frontiers from the ravage of a cruel and savage enemy."

By Nov.1, all of Sullivan's troops had left Easton to rejoin the commands from which they had been called. Thus ended a major campaign in American history