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Schuyler, Philip John (1733-1804) to Goose Van Schaick

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC03982 Author/Creator: Schuyler, Philip John (1733-1804) Place Written: Albany, New York Type: Autograph letter Date: 7 April 1779 Pagination: 8 p. : docket ; 31.7 x 18.7 cm.

Summary of Content: Detailed draft of General Schuyler's instructions to Colonel Van Schaick for a raid against the Onondaga Indians. Asks Van Schaick to exclude Indian allies from the expedition and to take measures to prevent the rape of any women taken captive. Van Schaick covered 180 miles in less than a week, severely punishing the Onondagas. The expedition was a retaliation for Indian attacks in 1778 and was executed in conjunction with the Sullivan Campaign.

Background Information:

Full Transcript: Partial Draft Transcript:

His Excellency the Commander In Chief having approved that an Enterprize should be prosecuted against the Onondaga Indians you are to take the command of the troops ...destined for this Service … amounting in all to 500 men Exclusive of officers. Such of these troops that are not already at Fort Schuyler have orders to rendezvous at that place … I have ordered thirty bateaux to be sent up there without delay … you will … proceed without loss of Time.
From all the accounts I have been able to collect the distance from the west end of the Oneida Lake to the principal Onondaga settlement is under twenty five miles … debark your troops on the South side of the Onondaga river … proceed thence by land to Onondaga … leave a detachment besides the Batteaumen to reconduct the Batteaux … to the west end of the Oneida Lake there to wait your return … five days provision will in all probability be Sufficient … from the place of Debarkation … Mr. Deane will have directions to assist you in procuring guides. I am informed that from the West End of Oneida Lake there is a path which leads to Onondaga, thro a tolerably open country …
…It is my Intention that as many prisoners should be made as possible you will therefore put none to death whom you can make prisoners of and you will give pointed orders for this purpose. - you will burn all the buildings and destroy all such Cattle & effects as you cannot without retarding your return bring off with you. - having executed the object you will hasten back to Fort Schuyler and order the several detachments to return to the posts from when they marched to join you … sending such prisoners as you may make under a Sufficient Escort to this place …
To Cover the real object of the Enterprize is a matter of the first Moment you will therefore …give out that you are ordered to take post at Oswego …
Barbarous as the Savages are they never violate the chastity of any women taken prisoners, altho I have very little apprehension that any of the soldiers will so far forget their Character as to attempt such a crime on the Indian women that may fall into their hands, Yet it will be well to take measures to prevent such a Stain to our army.
I do not wish that any of the Indians In Alliance with us should accompany you… If any should however join you on a supposition that you are going to Oswego you will permit them …taking the most particular Care … that they do not leave you for which purpose it will be proper to appoint alert officers and a chosen number of men always to watch over such Indians without their knowing it…
Lt. Colo. V. Dyke will Command the Fort in your absence, you will Enjoin him to guard against a Surprize and not to leave the least chance for the Enemy to Succeed in case they should attempt one. You will take care to supply the troops Intended for the Expedition with what Ammunition may be necessary… such as may Sicken or be rendered unfit for this Service you will leave at the fort & replace them with others from the Garrison.
I need not to an officer of Your Judgment & Experience dwell in the necessity of guarding against a Surprize, of Secrecy or dispatch In a business which each is of so much Importance. Wishing you Success and an Acquisition of much reputation …


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People: Schuyler, Philip John, 1733-1804
Van Schaick, Goose, 1736-1789

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Revolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryFrontiers and ExplorationAmerican Indian HistorySexualityWomen's HistoryAtrocityPrisoner of War

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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