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Newtown Battle Area
The Sullivan-Clinton campaign was pivotal to the outcome of the American Revolution. Throughout 1778 and 1779, Native American warriors allied with the British and American militia members raided and fought each other throughout the New York and Pennsylvania frontier. The Wyoming Massacre, Cherry Valley Massacre, and Colonel Van Schaick’s attack on Onondaga villages were some of the most violent episodes of frontier fighting. The raids and retaliatory violence became a critical threat for New York’s Governor George Clinton and the settlers on the frontier. It also became an impediment for the Continental Army. Soldiers often left to defend their homes, and raids destroyed crops and supplies that were meant for the Continental Army. General George Washington launched the Sullivan-Clinton campaign as a means to end the frontier fighting. He ordered Generals John Sullivan and James Clinton to conduct a scorched earth campaign against the British allied Native Americans in the summer of 1779.
The campaign was a three prong attack with Gen. Sullivan marching from the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania, Gen. Clinton coming south from Otsego Lake in New York, and Gen. Broadhead marching across the western frontier from Fort Pitt. Generals Sullivan and Clinton formed the main force in the campaign when they merged at Tioga Point in Pennsylvania, and advanced into Iroquois country burning virtually every village and farm field they encountered. There was little opposition to the Continentals’ campaign. The British commander of Butler’s Rangers, Col. John Butler, his son Capt. Walter Butler, and Mohawk warrior, Capt. Joseph Brant, constituted the leadership of the opposition to Generals Sullivan and Clinton. Delaware and other Native chiefs demanded that Butler and Brant make a stand against the Continental Army in the area of Newtown.
On August 29, 1779, these two forces met in a battle. The outcome of the battle was defined by the British forces’ failed attempt at an ambush, and the Continental forces’ successful use of artillery and flanking maneuvers, which breached the British defenses, forcing a sometimes chaotic retreat. Although not totally defeated at Newtown, the British and their Native allies retreated across the Iroquois territory keeping just in front of the Continentals on their way to Fort Niagara. Gen. Sullivan continued his march following the retreating British forces and non-combatant Native Americans fleeing from their destroyed villages. The Continentals left a scorched trail around Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, and west to Genesee Castle. The British Rangers and their Native allies managed one other major attack on the Continentals, this being against a scouting party at Gathtsegwarohare (Groveland). The campaign’s advance ended as the Continentals ran low on supplies. This scarcity of resources was minimal when compared to the outcomes experienced by the British allied Iroquois. The destruction of their villages and crops left them with nothing, and they became dependent on the British at Fort Niagara over the winter of 1779-1780. Hundreds, possibly thousands, died during one of the most brutal winters on record.
Newtown Battle Area
Newtown Battle Area Park HeadquartersElmira, NY 12345
United States42° 5' 38.9256" N, 76° 46' 1.0848" W