Unadilla, New York

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Unadilla, New York

UNADILLA, NEW YORK. 6-8 October 1778. On the boundary line fixed in the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768 between the Iroquois Confederation and colonial settlements of Tryon County, Unadilla was inhabited by whites when the Revolution started. In June 1777 Joseph Brant arrived with about seventy-five Indians, demanding provisions. The inhabitants, hoping to avoid conflict, gave him what he demanded, but when the Indians returned two days later for a forced requisition of livestock, the inhabitants decided it was time to leave for a more secure location. General Nicholas Herkimer marched to Unadilla in July with 380 militia and met with Brant. The Mohawk chief apparently was feuding with Guy Johnson, superintendent of Indian affairs and Loyalist leader, at the time and sought to negotiate neutrality for provisions. When Brant and Herkimer could come to no understanding, the latter withdrew, leaving Brant in control of Unadilla, which he made his headquarters. Located on the Susquehanna about twenty miles above Oquaga and forty miles south of Lake Otsego, Unadilla was a natural assembly area for attacks on the settlements in Mohawk Valley. After Brant had used it for precisely this purpose, raiding German Flats on 13 September 1778, the rebels countered with a punitive expedition against Unadilla.

Lieutenant Colonel William Butler left Schoharie on 2 October with his Fourth Pennsylvania Continentals, a detachment of Morgan's riflemen, and a small body of rangers. Moving down the upper reaches of the Delaware, he spent sixteen days destroying Indian posts around Unadilla. Brant was raiding Cookhouse, on the Delaware due east of Oquaga, when his stores at the latter place were destroyed and he was forced to return to Unadilla. He retaliated with the Cherry Valley Massacre on 11 November 1778.

SEE ALSO Border Warfare in New York; Cherry Valley Massacre, New York; German Flats, New York.


Kelsay, Isabel T. Joseph Brant, 1743–1807: Man of Two Worlds. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1984.

                              revised by Michael Bellesiles