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28 July, Battle of Fort Freeland, Butlerís Rangers

Tioga Point 5th August 1779


   I have the pleasure to inform you of the Success of the Indians, and the Detachment I had the honour to Command against the West Branch. After a very tedious fatiguing march over Mountains, and through Woods almost impenetrable; we came in upon the Settlements the 27th in the Evening, continued our march all night, and invested a Small Place called Fort Freeland early in the morning, the then frontier Post, occupyed upon the River. At ten oClock the Fort Surrendered by Capitulation, a Copy of the Terms I have Sent herewith. The Garrison consisted of one Serjeant and twelve Privates of the Continental Troops and twenty of the Militia, Commanded by one of the Commissioners of the County: they had two men killed before the place Surrendered. John Montour, received a Wound in the Small of the Back Scalping a Man under the Pickets of the Fort, but is in a fair way to do well. About two hours after we got possession of the place, we were attacked by a party of Rebels, that came up to reinforce the Fort, of Seventy or eighty men having heared our firing. We had no intimation of their approach till they were Closs upon us: the Scouts of Indians, that were Sent out having fallen in with Some Horses, which they pursued, neglecting the Charge they were trusted with. The Indiens upon the first appearance of the Rebels retired a little, but Soon recovered their Surprise, and came in upon their left flank with great fury, while the Detachment of the 8th Regiment, and Rangers, attacked them in front, and put them immediately to the Route, with the loss of three Captains (two of which belonged to the Continental Troops) and between thirty and forty men killed; few of them would have escaped had they not been favoured by a very close copse where they Concealed themselves. We had only one Indian killed, and one wounded upon this occasion. I did every thing in my power to prevail upon the Indians to pursue their Success, but they were so Glutted with Plunder, Prisoners, and Scalps, that my Utmost efforts could not persuade them from retreating to Fort Wallace, that night. Next day I returned with about a hundred Indians and Rangers, we burned and destroyed five Forts and about thirty miles of a close Settled Country. They had abandoned their Forts the Evening before, and fled with great precipitation leaving behind a great quantity of Goods, and most of their Cattle. We were within eight miles of Shimoken; I am confident that there is not a Rebel upon this side of it. The Prisoners corroborate the accounts I gave you in my letter of the 21st and have no further news. The Commissiner who is a very intelligent man, asserts for certain, that the Armys from Wioming, and Cherry Valley, are destined for Niagara; they were to set off from Wioming the 26th Ulto: The junction is to be formed at this place. A Genl. Clinton Commands their Army at Cherry Valley.

   Out of one hundred and Sixteen Cattle were drove past Wallaceís Fort, we have Sixty two remaining, Some we lost, but the greatest part were Stole from us by the Indians. The Tuskaroras have a Separate Drove, containing forty, or fifty.

   For further particulars I must refer you to Lieutt. Thomson, whom I beg leave to recommend to you as a very active Spirited Officer and am Sir &c.

(Signed) John MacDonell

Colonel Butler

Library and Archives Canada, John and Thomas Nairne fonds, MG 23, GIII23, Volume 3, Entrybook of Correspondence, Pages 185-188.

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