Indian Raid on New Jersey


New Jersey in the Northeast, along the Delaware River near and above the Water Gap, was mostly wilderness then, and still is sparsely settled. In 1780, George Washington send General Sullivan with an army to Pennsylvania, with the mission of destroying the Iroquois tribes at war with the Americans. Sullivan moved north and burned all the Indian towns he could find, driving the Iroquois to the British outposts in Canada. In 1781, in revenge, the Iroquois tribes who were allied with the British attacked into New York and Pennsylvania. Some of their raids came as far south (from the Elmiria area), that they reached Sussex county along the Delaware.


Letter from Aaron Hankinson, Colonel, 2nd Regiment, Sussex, to Govenor William Livingston, in "The Livingstone Papers".

Sussex July 12th 178l

By order of a Late Act (1) I am To Send a general Return of the State of my Batalion By the first of july but not having an Oppertunety [Since I?] have been somthing falty I pray the Governor to Excuse my not being Sooner wood inform the Governer by his orders we where to Rase three men out of Every Companey for the frontiers of Sussex which Orders we have Complid with and have Rasd 29 out of 36 the Last account I had from the Capt. possible there may be more have joynd Since and by a Late Law we are to Rase Every 16 Teenth man Sir I have issued my orders to the Several Capts but am fearful the men will not be got. Wood inforn1 his Excellency there has been Several
morders Committed Latly over thc mountain by the Savedges(2) they Came to thc house of one [ . . . ] Steel (3) and Cortrile which they Took of after Traveling Some Distance the said [ . . . ] being Somthing Old and a noted Torey thc Endians Kild and Scalp him Our people took there tracks followed them about 20 miles Came up with them Kild one Endian wounded two more Released Steal and Cort[ . . . ] and took all this Bagage from them another party Since Came to thc house of John Larner Kild said Larner his Son his Sons wife and a Small Child another Son of said Larners hearing the firing Came to there assistance Six Endians fired at him but through favour they mist him he made the house he then Returnd a Shot and Lukkely Shot one through the Calabass(4) they then posted foot. I am Dear Sir your most abediant and very humble Servant


Aaron Hankinson



I. For previous reference to thc assembly act to raise 750 militiamen in New Jersey see WL to George Washington, June 27, 1781.

2. During thc 1781 campaign, 2,945 British-allied Iroquois and Algonkian harassed American frontier settlements and scored unsettling victories in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania

3. Perhaps William Steele, a Loyalist who was arrested on September 1781 for carrying news of American military maneuvers to the British (NJA [Newspaper Extracts}, 5: 296).

4. calabash: a hard shelled gourd used as an eating utensil.
(slang for head)




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New Jersey during the Revolution

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I recommend also Captain John Outwater's Co. of Bergen county Militia web page.


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