The Wyoming Massacre - July 3, 1778

Transcribed by Judy Longley

"Copy of a letter from Major John Butler to Lieutenant Colonel Bolton dated Lacuwanack 8 July 1778"


On the 30th of June I arrived with about 500 Rangers and Indians at Wioming, and encamped on an eminence which overlooks the greatest part of the settlement, from whence I sent out parties to discover the situation, and strength of the Enemy, who brought in eight Prisoners, and scalps: Two loyalists who came into my camp informed me that the Rebels could muster about 800 men, who were all assembled in their Forts.

July 1st.   I marched to the distance of half a mile of Wintermonts Fort and sent in Lieutenant Turney with a Flag to demand imediate possession of it, which was soon agreed to. A flag was next sent to Jenkins' Fort which surrendered on nearly the same conditions as Wintermonts both which are enclosed. I next summoned Forty fort the Commandant of which refused the conditions I sent him.

July 3d   parties were sent out to collect cattle, who informed me that the Rebels were preparing to attack me. This pleased the Indians highly, who observed they should be upon an equal footing with them in the woods; at Two o'Clock we discovered the Rebels upon their march in number about four or five hundred. Between 4 & 5 o'Clock they were advanced within a mine of us; finding them determined, I ordered the Forts to be sett on fire, which deceived the Enemy into an opinion that we had retreated: We then posted ourselves in a fine open wood, and for our greater safety lay flat upon the ground, waiting their approach. When they were within 200 yards of us, they began firing; we still continued upon the ground without returning their Fire till they had fired three Vollies: by this time they had advanced within 100 yards of us, and being quite near enough Suingerachton ordered his Indians who were upon the right to begin the attack upon our part; which was imediately well seconded by the Rangers on the left. Our fire was so close, and well directed, that the affair was soon over, not lasting above half an hour, from the time they gave us the first fire till their flight. In this action were taken 227 Scalps and only five prisoners. The Indians were so exasperated with their loss last year near Fort Stanwix, that it was with the greatest difficulty I could save the lives of those few. Colonel Denniston who came next day with a Minister, and four others to treat for the remainder of the settlement of Westmoreland assures me, that they have lost one Colonel two Majors, seven Captains, Thirteen Lieutenants, Eleven Ensigns, and two hundred and Sixty Eight Privates. On our side are killed one Indian, two Rangers, and Eight Indians wounded. In this incursion we have taken and destroyed eight pallisaded Forts, and burned about 1000 Dwelling Houses, all their Mills &c., we have also killed and drove off about 1000 head of horned Cattle, and sheep and swine in great numbers. But what gives us the sincerest satisfaction is, that I can with great ___ assure you that in the destruction of this settlement not a single person has been hurt of the Inhabitants, but such as were in arms, to those indeed the Indians gave no Quarter.

I have also the pleasure to inform you that the Officers and Rangers behaved during this short action highly to my satisfaction, and have always supported themselves through hunger, and fatague with great chearfullness.

I have this day sent a party of men to the Delaware to destroy a small settlement there, and to bring off prisoners. In two or three days I shall send out other parties for the same purpose if I can supply my self with Provisions, I shall harrass the adjacent country, and prevent them from getting in their harvest.

The settlement of Schohary or the Minisinks will be my next objects, both of which abound in Corn, and Cattle the destruction of which cannot fail of greatly distressing the Rebels. I have not yet been able to hear any thing of the expresses I sent to the Generals Howe & Clinton, but as I sent them by ten different routes, I am in hopes that some of them will be able to make their way to them and return.

In a few days I do myself the honour of writing to you more fully and send you a Journal of my proceeding since I left Niagara.

I am Sir, with respect,

Your most obedient & very humble Serv't

(signed) John Butler

From microfilm of the Frederick Haldimand Papers, British Library Additional Manuscripts No. 21,760, folios 31-34, with thanks to the British Library (London, UK) and by courtesy of the Public Archives of Canada.