MONTGOMERY COUNTY. 4L1
though his force was greatly reduced by hunger, fatigue, and the continual, harassing attacks
of the militia, which hung upon their rear.
The prospects of the Mohawk Yalley were now gloomy in the extreme. Nearly every settlement
had been desolated, and nearly every family had lost some of its members.1 In the spring of 1781,
Col. Willett assumed the command of the American forces on the Mohawk, and, by his military
skill, daring, and knowledge of Indian warfare, he not only successfully repelled all attacks made
upon the Mohawk settlements, but carried the war into the enemy’s own country.
On the 9th of July, 1781, 300 Indians, under a tory named Doxtader, made a sudden attack upon
the settlement of Currytown, (in the town of Root.) After burning the buildings and collecting a
large amount of booty, they retreated. Col. Willett, at the head of 150 militia, immediately pursued
and overtook them at “ Durlah,” (Dorlach,) a few mi. over the line of Schoharie co. A severe skirmish
ensued, when the Indians fled, leaving 40 of their number dead on the field.2 The final incursion
into the Mohawk Valley was made Oct. 24, 1781, by a party of 600 British and Indians, under
Maj. Ross and Walter N. Butler, who made their first appearance in the neighborhood of Warrens-
bush. They marched to the vicinity of Johnson Hall and commenced the usual work of plunder
and murder, but were arrested by a sudden attack by forces under Cols. Willett, Rowley, and
Harper. A severe engagement ensued, resulting in the retreat of the enemy. Col. Willett pur¬
sued, and, coming up with the rear guard at West Canada Creek, another skirmish took place, in
which the infamous Walter N. Butler was killed.3 The shattered remnant of the British forces
escaped by way of Oswego. This affair practically ended the war in Tryon co., and the remaining
citizens, stripped of almost every thing except the soil, were allowed to resume in peace their accus¬
tomed employments.4 In a few years the ravages of the war were completely obliterated, and the
fertile regions of Central and Western N.Y., which had become known through the military expe¬
ditions that had traversed them, soon began to fill up with a New England population. The
splendid domains of the Johnsons and other royalists were confiscated, and the feudal tenants
of the colonial period were replaced by enterprising freeholders under the new government.5
AMSTERDAM6—was formed from“ Caughnawaga,”’1 March 12,1793. Perth (Fulton co.) was
taken off in 1831. It lies on the sr. bank of the Mohawk, in the n.e. corner of the co. Its surface
consists of the intervale along the river, and a rolling upland gradually rising for the space of 2
mi. and attaining an elevation of 300 to 500 feet. The principal streams are the Kajmderosseras,
3 mi. w. of Amsterdam Village, Chuctenunda,8 at the village, and Evas Kil,9 near the e. border.
The soil in the valley is a deep, rich alluvium, and upon the hills it is a fertile, gravelly loam.
Near Tribes Hill are extensive stone quarries. A considerable amount of manufactures is carried
on in town, consisting of mill machinery, agricultural implements, carriages, car springs,^ and
carpets, at Amsterdam Village, and of woolen goods at Hagamans Mills. Amsterdam,10 (p. v.,)
incorp. April 20, 1830, contains 4 churches, the Amsterdam Female Seminary, a bank, printing
signal; and they had the inexpressible mortification and chagrin
to see the beaten foe slipping through the net in which they
had been caught, without the possibility of preventing their
escape. Had it not been for the indecision or cowardice of Gen.
Van Rensselaer, the whole party might have been taken. At
the time, he was openly charged of co-wardice or treachery by
the Oneida chief, and he entirely lost public confidence.
1 Some idea of the extent of these ravages maybe formed from
a statement prepared by the supervisors of “ Tryon co.,” dated Dec.
20,1780, and addressed to the legislature. They therein stated
that 700 buildings had been burned within the co.; that 354
families had abandoned their habitations and removed; 613
persons had deserted to the enemy; 197 had been killed, 121
taken prisoners; and 1200 farms lay uncultivated by reason of
the enemy. This statement did not include Cherry Valley,
Newtown-Martin, Middlefield, Springfield, Harpersfield, and
Old England District, which had been totally deserted and
abandoned. The population of the co. at the beginning ef the
war was about 10,000. While the sufferings of the colonists
were thus great, the Indian loss was much greater. Their whole
country had been ravaged, their homes and crops destroyed,
and a large portion of their number had died in battle or by
starvation. At the close of the war the miserable remnant of
the once powerful nations humbly sued for peace, and were
content to accept terms that deprived them of almost their
3 By stratagem Col. Willett succeeded in drawing the Indians
into an ambuscade. They fled so hastily that all their baggage
and plunder was captured. On their retreat they murdered a
number of prisoners to prevent their escape.
3 Walter N. Butler was one of the most inhuman wretches
that ever disgraced humanity. Ferocious, bloodthirsty, and
cruel, he seemed to revel in perfect delight at the spectacle of
human suffering. He surpassed the savages in barbarity; and
many a victim was saved from his clutches by the interposition
of the Indian chief Brant.
4 Special acts were passed in 1780, ’81, and ’83, directing the
commissioners of sequestration to relieve certain distressed fami¬
lies. Rev. Daniel Gros, of Canajoharie, acted as almoner of the
commissioners; and his acts are preserved among the public
papers of the State.
6 For several years after the war, ghosts were reported as fre¬
quently seen stalking about the old residences of the royalists.
The appearances which gave rise to these reports were doubtless
the tories themselves, returned in disguise to obtain valuables
which had been secreted upon their previous hasty flight. The
settlers, who had suffered so much, were slow in forgetting the
injuries they had received; and for many years after, few, either
Indians or tories, who had been engaged in the war, could show
themselves in the settlement with safety.
6 Named by Emanuel E. De Graff, a Hollander and early set tier.
I On the 9th of March, 1780, the portion of Mohawk district
n. of the river was set off and named “ Caughnawaga.” The
first town meeting was held at the house of John B. Wimples.
“ Caughnawaga” was formed as a town, March 7,1788. It em¬
braced all that part of Montgomery co. lying x. of the Mohawk
and E. of a line extending from The Noses x. to Canada. This
town was divided in 1793 into Amsterdam, Mayfield, Broadalbin,
8 Signifying “ Twin Sisters,” and applied to the streams flow¬
ing into the Mohawk on opposite sides; in some documents
9 Pronounced E-vaws-kil; named from Mrs. Eva Van Alstyne,
who was wounded and scalped by the Indians in 1755, while
crossing this stream.
to Formerly called “ Veedersburgh,”