Significant Past Events - Battle of Newtown, New York 2004

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     Nearly one hundred and fifty years after the first white men had first visited the Chemung River Valley, it had settlements all along its banks with several bands of Native American tribes including the Lenapes or Delawares, Tuteloes or Eastern Sioux, Mahicans or Mohegans, and the Shawnees. Though the territory was not owned by any of these tribes, they were allowed to settle in the area by the Five Nations Confederacy and more specifically by the Cayugas and the Senecas. During the French and Indian War (1755-1760) this region was off limits to any white settler or missionary, and any who were foolish enough to venture in were met with certain death. The Senecas, Cayugas, and the Delaware mostly sided with the French, causing death and destruction in frontier raids for many of the English settlers and colonists throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey and along the Hudson River Valley. Still later, during the days of the Revolutionary War, the Five Nations tried to remain neutral. However, through a courtship with the English, including promises and treaties, not to mention lavish gifts heaped upon them, many of the Iroquois would side with the British.

     The area of the Chemung River Valley was still vastly unseen by the White Man and though many of the Iroquois were technically at war this region was still relatively peaceful and serene. Settlements of Native Americans doted the countryside as well as vast gardens, orchards and fields of maize. Villages were comprised of well-built log cabins that would rival any that the early colonists could have constructed. Unfortunately, this peaceful picture would soon be devastated and lost forever.

     General George Washington was well aware of the Iroquois alliance with the British with their attempt to squash the unruly American forces and their bid for independence.  Washington devised a three prong attack on the Indian and British stronghold known as the Finger Lakes area. One invading force under the command of Brigadier General James Clinton would start at Albany and proceed westward along the Mohawk River and then southward into the region. Another under the command of Major General John Sullivan would start in Pennsylvania and follow the Susquehanna north to Tioga Point (now Athens). The third attacking army would leave Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh, PA) and proceed north towards the area near what is now Geneseo, NY.

     As the invading armies moved into the area, they were not unnoticed by the Native Americans who kept a keen but elusive watch of their enemy from high in the hills. They compared the long blue line of American soldiers to a long blue snake slithering through the valley.

     In August of 1779, Clinton's army met up with Sullivan's army along the Susquehanna River at what would later be named "Union" (near Endicott, NY). The combined forces would total over 5,000 men, roughly one-third of the entire Colonial Army at that time. For the next three days, the two armies advanced northward and westward, following the Chemung River towards the Native American village of Newtown. Here the British and Iroquois had built earthen breastworks in anticipation of the Colonial forces.  To try to hide the earthen fortress, they covered the breastworks with freshly cut saplings.

     However, the British figured the Americans would reach their hidden fortress considerably earlier than they actually did. Consequently Sullivan's scouts noticed the massive wall of saplings were wilting and thus alerted Sullivan of the impending ambush. The American forces advanced with their artillery within just 300 yards of the breastworks and pounded the earthen fort in what would be the start of a fierce battle. Though closely contended, it was clear the Americans with their artillery had the better firepower and the British along with their Iroquois counterparts fled northward, leaving behind vast Indian villages and storehouses which were quickly raided and destroyed by the American troops.

     Though over 7,000 men were engaged at the battle of Newtown, there were relatively few casualties However, this massive battle would be forever regarded as one of the major accomplishments of the American Army and was a pivotal turning point of the American Revolution.


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Mitch and Jeff plan their strategy

Attacking the Indian camp

"We got them redskins outnumbered!"

Gene protects the American flank from counterattack

Braving the heat for yet another battle

Gene resting during Sunday's battle

Taking on the Redcoats

"Take that ... lobsterbacks!"

The Continental Forces

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