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CHERRY VALLEY - November 11th, 1778

The story of the soldiers of the 6th (7th) Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Line that suffered as a result of that terrible day during the Revolutionary War.

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Cherry Valley, NY

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CHERRY VALLEY

Cherry Valley, NY

Cherry Valley was a little settlement about 60 miles west of Albany, New York, at the headwaters of the Susquehanna River and just a stone throw away from the Mohawk Valley. The region was ripe with British sympathizers along with British Ranger Units and their Iroquois Indian allies. Settlements throughout the region had been under attack from the enemy and the people lived in terror from the constant British and Indian raids.Upon arriving at Cherry Valley the end of July, the 6th (7th) Massachusetts Regiment commanded by Col. Ichabod Alden (approx. 250 soldiers) found the townsfolk living in the meeting house - over two hundred men, women, and children crowded into one building day and night for weeks. They were very glad to learn the regiment was being stationed in their town and immediately began moving back into their homes. The solders were housed in local barns, while the officers resided with townsfolk. The regiment's first business was to build a sturdy fort, which was christened "Fort Alden" on the 15th of August.

PROLOG

Cherry Valley, NY

Throughout late summer and fall the regiment was on constant alert and regularly sent out scouting parties looking for enemy. Snow began falling in mid October. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, believing the enemy threat was over for the season. Armies did not wage war once snow covered the ground and Iroquois men usually went hunting.On November 8th, Col. Alden received word that a raid by British Rangers under Capt. Butler and Iroquois led by Chief Joseph Brant was imminent. He chose not to believe it would happen that late in the season, thinking it only an idle rumor. The townsfolk begged to be allowed to move their food stores and valuables into the fort, but Col. Alden believed it would be wasted effort. However, the Colonel did send out additional scouting parties.Sergeant Adam Hunter led one of the scouting parties. When the soldiers of the scout awoke on the morning of November 10th, they were prisoners, staring into Butler's muskets. Upon intense interrogation, a soldier told Butler all he knew about the regiment at Cherry Valley, including mention of the officers being quartered outside the fort.

THE ATTACK

Cherry Valley, NY

Snow fell again on November 10th, turning to rain early the next morning. The settlement was shrouded in fog. The officers, quartered about 400 yards from the fort, lingered in the warm, dry homes. About forty of the enlisted men decided to go down to the stream to do their laundry. About noon a shot rang out and through the fog came 200 British and perhaps 300 Iroquois Warriors. They killed the Colonel as he ran toward the fort. Several officers were taken prisoner along with enlisted men guarding the officers' quarters. Those doing laundry at the stream were also exposed. The fort was attack, but had been built well and housed several cannon, which quickly and effectively repulsed the enemy. The regiment was heavily outnumbered and unable to venture beyond the walls of the fort. The enemy remained in the town for the next 36 hours, killing the unlucky and destroying property at will, while the regiment could only stand by in the safety of the fort and watch.

THE AFTERMATH

Cherry Valley, NY

As the last embers died, most accounts claim; 32 civilians (mostly women & children) dead, 70 captured and carried away (mostly women & children), 15 soldiers dead (including Col. Alden), 5 officers captured, and about a dozen enlisted men captured. Property destroyed included; 32 houses, 31 barns, 2 mills, the blacksmith shop, food stores, cattle, and other livestock. One hundred and eighty-two civilians were left without food, clothing, or homes at the beginning of winter. The enemy force claimed only 2 soldiers and 3 Indians wounded.On the 15th, 40 of the civilian captives were released and returned to Cherry Valley for melancholy family reunions. The regiment was very low on supplies and out of food - and the snow began to fall again, piling up knee deep.

PRISONERS

Cherry Valley, NY

The Cherry Valley military prisoners were not paroled in the normal manner of the time period. Brant's Iroquois had captured soldiers earlier in the year and were outraged to have those prisoners released to face them in battle once again. They were determined not to let that happen this time, and so the Cherry Valley prisoners were held through the winter by the Iroquois, each apparently suffering different fates as time wore on.On February 12th, Sergeant Hunter arrived at Fort Alden after escaping from his captors. He stated Col. Stacey had been moved to Fort Niagara, but the others were scattered amoung the Iroquois.We know from accounts of the civilian captives, they were marched "... down the Susquehanna to its junction with the Tioga, thence up the Tioga to near its source, and thence across to the head of Seneca Lake, and along down the eastern border of the lake to the Indian castle and village of Kanadaseago" a few miles from present day Geneva. They traveled 2 to 3 hundred miles and arrived at the village in late November. Upon arrival they would have faced the gauntlet - a practice by most Woodland Indians of lining up the villagers in two lines facing each other and forcing captives to run between the lines, while being struck from both sides. After surviving the march then the gauntlet, the soldiers were faced with surviving the winter in the hands of the Iroquois.

THE KIA-POW PROBLEM

Cherry Valley, NY

While researching this story, I had no problem identifying the officers involved, but determining the names and fates of the privates was not an easy task. All accounts I could locate, made prominent mention of the officers, but completely neglected the ordinary soldiers that suffered during this action. One of the POWs was my direct ancestor, so I took this oversight very personal! After much research and some assistance from Footnote.com, I present here a list (as complete as currently available records allow - Apr/09) of the privates and non-commissioned officers killed and taken prisoner as a result of the action generally referred to as "The Cherry Valley Massacre".

-- Freedom is NOT FREE ! ---

May we never forget their sacrifice ---- May we always remember their names!

Researched and written by Nancy Lecompte of Lewiston, ME, aka "Canyon Wolf". 

KILLED IN ACTION

Cherry Valley, NY

1. Pelatiah Adams (Bradford & Chelmsford, MA), private [CAAC Capt. Ballard], [MSSWR v.1 p.68].

2. Robert Bray (Harpswell, ME), private Reed's Company [CAAC Capt. Reed], taken prisoner on the 10th, reported 12-Feb-1779 by Serg. Hunter as killed [JCDL], {MSSRW v.2 p.450].

3. Gideon Day (New Salem, MA), private [CAAC Capt. Patrick], [MSSWR v.4 p.572].

4. Oliver Deboll (Sprinfield, MA), private [CAAC Capt. Ballard], [MSSWR v.4 p.640].

5. Daniel Dudley (Westford, MA), private [CAAC Capt. Ballard], [MSSWR v.5 p.4].

6. Robert Henderson (Boston, MA), private [CAAC Capt. Reed], [MSSWR v.7 p.720].

7. Thomas Holden (Barre), private [CAAC Capt. Reed], [MSSWR v.8 p.114].

8. Simeon Hopkins (Harpswell, ME), private [CAAC Capt. Reed], [MSSWR v.8 p.244], his body was found 2-Feb-1778 [JCDL].

9. Thomas Knowles (Topsham, ME), private {CAAC Capt. Reed], [MSSWR v.9 p.377].

10. Thomas Myers or Mier (Germany), private {CAAC Capt. Allen], [MSSWR v.11 p.259].

11. Thomas Sheriden (Ireland), private [CAAC Capt. Allen], [MSSWR v.14 p.133].

12. Benjamin Worsley (Stoughtonham, MA), private [CAAC Capt. Patrick], [MSSWR v.17 p.900].

And perhaps these two men, who died on Nov. 30 {maybe of wounds?}

Ebenezer Taunt or Tant (Stoughton, MA), private [CAAC Capt. Patrick].

Pomp Cook (New Salem, MA), private [CAAC Capt. Patrick].

PRISONERS OF WAR

Cherry Valley, NY

1. Abijah Alberton, private, {CAAC Capt. Reed], [not found MSSWR], {no other info}.

2. Enoch Danford or Danforth (Brunswick, ME), private [CAAC Capt. Reed], returned to service by 1-Jan-1780 [MSSWR v.4 p.392]

3. Ephraim Dutton (Westford, MA & Ludlow VT), private [CAAC Capt. Ballard] - "taken prisoner by the Indians and remainded a prisoner until the forepart of October {1779} ..., and was then released by the Indians" [RWPR #S.39472], returned to service by 1-Jan-1780 [MSSWR v.5 p.99].

4. Andrew Garrett (Boston, MA), private or sergeant, promoted to Ensign 1-Nov-1778 and transferred (on paper only) to the 4th Regiment. His commission was confirmed during his captivity [CAAC Capt. Lane], "... and myself were taken, but the men of our corps were killed - and I remained a prisoner three years, one year of which was with the Indians." [RWPR #S.33262], "sent November 1782 by Sea to Boston" [ROP], [MSSRW v.6 p.295-6 & 299].

5. Charles Hudman or Hudson (Oxford & Boston, MA), private [CAAC Capt. Lane], on scout [JDOB], {also "deserter" dated 18-Aug-1782, he may have been the man in the scouting party that succumbed during interrogation and gave information to the enemy}, [MSSWR v.8 p.454].

6. Adam Hunter (Topsham, ME), sergeant in Capt. Reed's Company [MSSWR v.8, pg.545] taken Nov. 10 while on scout [JBCVM], escaped captivity and returned to his company 12-Feb-1779 [JCDL], [Compiled Service Record ].

7. Ira Johnson (Sturbridge & Brookfield, MA) private [CAAC Capt. Coburn], returned from captivity April 22, 1779 [MSSWR v.8 p.832]. {he may have been held at Onondaga Castle, which was liberated on the 21st of April, 1779}.

8. Isaac Parmeter or Parmenter (Oakham & Hardwick, MA), private [CAAC Capt. Reed], "... taken in by the Enemy Indians and keep by them 11 months or there abouts and then given up to the British and remained with them 13 months and then was sent in an exchange with Col. Butler and Mrs Campbell of Cherry valley ..." [RWPR #W.18694], {appears he lost no pay!} [MSSWR v.11 p.943].

9. James Parmeter or Parmenter (Oakham, MA), private [CAAC Capt. Reed], {no details found - appears he lost no pay!} [MSSWR v.11 p.943].

10. Samuel Proctor (Falmouth, ME), private [CAAC Capt. Lane], on scout [JDOB], returned to service by 1-Jan-1780 [MSSWR v.12 p.809]. {my ancestor}

11. Joseph Smith (unknown), private, "Pris. Nov 11, 78" [Compiled Service Record, Capt. Lane], on scout [JDOB], [not found MSSWR].

12. Samuel Woodsum (Saco, ME), private [CAAC Capt. Lane], "... I was taken prisoner and marched to Fort Niagara where I was detained till the next spring 1779 when I was marched to Quebec where I remained till Peace was declared ..." & "... he was taken by Indians while on a scouting party the day before ..." according to Isaac Lane [RWPR #S.29562], on scout [JDOB], "at St Paul's Bay" & "sent Oct. 17, 1782 by sea to New York" [ROP], [MSSWR v.17 p.857].

Enlisted men apparently did not get paid for time in captivity and did not get credit towards their enlistment time. Samuel Proctor, Ephraim Dutton, and Enoch Danford do not appear on rolls in 1779, but were back on the payroll for all of 1780. They may have been freed from captivity during or as a result of Sullivan's 1779 late summer campaign against the Iroquois. If so, it appears they were allowed time to recuperate from their ordeal before completing their term of enlistment.Of the Officers taken prisoner, we have the following notes;Captain Aaron Holden was moved to Montreal, where he remained 18 months before being exchanged [RWPR #B.L.Wt.910-300]Lt. Col. William Stacy was "sent from Quebec Sept. 1781 by Lake Champlain" [ROP]

My Sources

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MSSWR = Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution, 17 vols.

JDOB = John Dain's Orderly Book, extract published Apr-1869 in Historical Magazine."... took the Leftn Colo Prisoners and Likewise Leftn holden Engsign Garrett and the Docters mate Prisoners With them - Samuel procter, Samuel Woodsom Charls hudman and Joseph Smith that Went outt A Scoutt the Day before this was took Prisoners With them Like wise Was a Good many more belonging to Sd Redgt ..."

RWPR = Revolutionary War Pension Records of various soldiers found on HeritageQuest.com and Footnote.com.

CAAC = Clothing Accounts from Alden's Companies for the year 1778, which identify soldiers deaths and prisoners by date in the remarks - found on Footnote.com and attached to this story.

ROP = Return of Prisoners sent from the Province of Quebec for Exchange, since the 1st of November 1779 - found in compiled service records at Footnote.com.

JCDL = The Journal of Captain Daniel Lane, transcribed and published by Ken Johnson in his book "The Bloodied Mohawk", Picton Press, 2000. [2-Feb-1779] "... Simon Hopkins of Capt Reads Company which was killed on the Battle of the 11th of Novr 1778 was found Partely Eate up by wild Beasts", [12-Feb-1779] "... Kiled of the Scout Robert Bray Serjant Hunter arived here from the Inians where he has bin a Prisner he was taken on a Scoute ye Day Before the actsion of ye 11th of Novr he Run away from a place Called Owago and givese us news of Collo Stasey who is gone to Nyagarey and licewise that all the Rest of the oficers as and the Solgers was with the Indians yet."

[ http://www.rootsweb.com/~nyherkim/regiments/butlerletters.html ] {letter from Captain Bulter dated 6 days after the attack at Cherry Valley}" ... having the Day before taken a rebel scout consisting of a Serg't & eight Privates ... " and " ... the Prisoners a Lieutenant Colonel, a Lieut., an Ensign, the Surgeon's Mate, & 10 Privates ... "

JBCVM = http://www2.whidbey.com/jerod/cherry.htmJoseph Brant and the Cherry Valley Massacre ©1998 by Jerod Rosman - all rights reserved.The Bloodied Mohawk, by Ken D. Johnson, Picton Press, 2000.The Cherry Valley Massacre, by David Goodnough, 1965.Other various & numerous websites.{my commants appear in this type of bracket}

Links

Here are some links to other web pages related to the Regiment that served at Cherry Valley.

Another Footnote page

http://www.footnote.com/page/93629404_daniel_whiting_17321807/

Another page by Canyon Wolf

http://home.roadrunner.com/~nlecompte/regiment/index.html

 

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