Philadelphia Reflections

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Sullivan's March


George Washington had plenty of other problems to contend with in 1778, but an Indian uprising led by Loyalists was too much. He singled out General John Sullivan, a celebrated Indian fighter from New Hampshire, gave him four thousand troops, and told him to eliminate this Indian threat to the Continental Army's rear, remove the safe haven for Loyalists, and assist the new Indian allies which LaFayette had befriended in the Albany area before the battle of Saratoga.

From long experience, Sullivan knew what to do, and did it without remorse. Ignoring skirmishes and ambushed sentries, he marched his troops from the scene of the massacre straight into the heart of Iroquois homeland, destroying every source of food or Indian settlement he could find. He was not interested in winning battles, he was determined to starve the Indians into extinction, once and for all. After these two slaughters, a white one in the Wyoming Valley (the Connecticut squatters in Wilkes-Barre), and now a red one in upstate New York, the entire frontier north of Pennsylvania has left a scene of devastation. Not much was heard of Indian fighting on this frontier for the rest of the Revolutionary War. Indeed, only the novels of James Fennimore Cooper make much subsequent mention of the Iroquois in American history.

Originally published: Thursday, March 16, 1995; most-recently modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2021

try reading allan eckert's accounts
Posted by: ernest   |   Mar 16, 2009 11:19 AM
It is an interesting footnote that it was General Sherman who delivered the address at the 100th anniversary of the battle of Newtown. He certainly learned the lesson of this campaign.
Posted by: Dan   |   Sep 22, 2008 7:21 PM
Clearly, Washington and Sullivan understood that terror has its uses as an instrument of military policy. But in 1780, the year after the rebel effort to exterminate the Iroquois, they resumed their raids in New York. As for Wyoming Valley, the Iroquois/Loyalist forces attempted to avoid battle but the ineptly led Connecticut militia forced one, marching into a position where it was flanked, then fleeing back to its stockade with heavy losses.
Posted by: JVT   |   May 30, 2008 4:40 PM
You are missing the entire point of Sullivan's March.
Posted by: Christie   |   Apr 2, 2008 10:36 PM
there is many things in here that are good info
Posted by: fred   |   Oct 11, 2006 3:09 PM
there is many intersting facts
Posted by: christine   |   Oct 11, 2006 3:08 PM

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