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The Battle of Wyoming

To both the collector and historian the Battle of Wyoming has much to offer. Located in the historic Northeast of Pennsylvania, just a short distance from where James Fennimore Cooper wrote about his famous "Leatherstocking Tales", the battle is debated to this day.

Except for the infamous Battle of Little Bighorn, the Battle of Wyoming is the most controversial of all Indian battles.

A few years later the American Revolution started and the Northeast was the center of it. Thousands of Toryís (loyal to England) fled the colonies because of mistreatment and fear of being killed. Most of them went to live in the Provinces of Canada and became Empire Loyalists. Many took refuge at Fort Niagara, far from American reach.

Two of the Tories who were at Fort Niagara were Colonel John Butler and his son Lieutenant Walter Butler. While at Niagara they joined forced with a Mohawk Indian named Joseph Brant. Brant was the brother of Molly Brant, who was married to Sir William Johnson. Johnson defeated the French at Lake George in the 1750s. He became the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for the British and was a good friend of the Iroquois.

When the revolution started Johnson was deceased but his nephew, Sir Guy Johnson, took his place. The Iroquois, friendly to the Johnsons, went over to the British side along with the Tories.

It was here at Fort Niagara that the two Butlers and Joseph Brant formed a fighting group of Tories and Indians known as ĎButlerís Rangersí.

Butlerís Rangers conducted raids deep into New York State destroying crops, mills, and homes and brought many men women and children captives back to Fort Niagara. The Mohawk Valley (upper New York State) was the chief granary of the colonies and the Rangersí raids were partially responsible for the terrible winter suffered at Valley Forge by General George Washington and his men.

There are many events which led to the raid on the Wyoming Valley: the occupation of the Susquehanna Company of Connecticut in the Wyoming Valley which rightfully belonged to the Iroquois; the walking purchase, which forced the Indians from the Forks of the Delaware to the Wyoming Valley; the resentment of the Tories of having to flee the Wyoming Valley; the Butlerís, John and Walter, were cousins of Zebulon Butler, the American leader at Wyoming which caused even more resentment. Many times before and during the Revolution the Tory situation saw relatives fighting against each other.

Also, Joseph Brant wanted revenge for General Burgoynís defeat by General Horatio Gates at Saratoga in October. Brant was also humiliated at the famous Battle of Oriskany, where American farmers and reserve soldiers defeated the best of the British troops and Brantís warriors in what was called the bloodiest and most ferocious battle of the Revolution. After Oriskany, Brant and his defeated warriors went back to Fort Niagara where Brant told the British commander that he would now fight "his own way".

"About the only thing we have thus far overlooked taking from the Indian is his right to perform his religious rites with their accompanying dances in his own way."

-Carl Moon 

 

 

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