September 4, 1777, Major Henry Dearborn of the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment wrote the following in his journal:
“a Scout of 40 men under Command of Capt. fry of Colo. Scammels Regt. was Surpris’d By a Body of Indians & others Consisting in the whole of about 300. we Lost out our scout 9 men kild & taken–“
Memorial Day has become the time when we reflect on the sacrifices of our country’s soldiers and their families. Researching and writing my books has afforded me opportunities to learn a few stories of such sacrifices that have seemingly gone untold. Last year I wrote on Josiah Parker. This past year I finally sorted out the story of the scouting party Henry Dearborn wrote about.
Early on the morning of September 4, 1777, Captain Isaac Frye of Colonel Alexander Scammell’s 3rd New Hampshire Regiment led a party of forty men selected from the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd NH and the 2nd and 4th New York Continental Army regiments out of their camp by Lowden’s Ferry on the south side of the Mohawk River. After crossing the river, Frye, a New Hampshire Farmer, likely led them along the north side of the river before turning northwest by what is today Alplaus. By early afternoon they were likely near Galway when they were ambushed by the warriors from the Fort Hunter Mohawks, who having been driven from their homes were on their way first to Burgoyne’s camp and ultimately to Canada.
This past summer I was able to use the rolls from these regiments to determine the names of all the men in this scouting party. It was mostly luck that the rolls were taken on September 5 and 6, listing the men as either on a scout or on command.
Lieutenant Nathaniel McCally and privates Daniel Cook and Daniel Day apparently got separated and did not return with Captain Frye and were listed as missing. The next date rolls existed for was Jan 1/2, 1778, where I confirmed these men had returned a day or two later. Those January rolls also listed the men who were killed or were listed as missing since the scouting party:
- Sergeant William Kemp, Morrill’s company, 1st NH
- Corporal Steven Lovekin, Blodgett’s company, 2nd NH
- Private Isaac Leeland, Blodgett’s company, 2nd NH
- Private Andrew Newell, Stone’s company, 3rd NH
- Private Samuel Page, Gilman’s company, 1st NH
It’s been more than a decade since I learned my 4x great grandfather commanded this scouting party. It has bothered me that Dearborn’s journal and Anburey’s account were all most of us knew about the events of September 4, 1777. The names of these men who lost their lives that day while serving in the Continental Army were unaccounted for in any of the histories I’ve read and had eluded me until this year.
This skirmish also claimed the lives of as many as three men in the Fort Hunter party who were led by Odeserundiye (John Deserontyon, aka Captain John), who was wounded during the fighting. Samuel Cooley and Isaac Hill’s brother (I’ve not been able to confirm his first name) are the two names from the Fort Hunter part I’ve found mentioned as being killed. The Fort Hunter party included about 150 men, women, and children.
The full story will be in my upcoming novel, “Honor and Valor”, and I am hopeful of finishing within the year.
Anburey, Thomas 1784. “Travels Through the Interior Parts of America in a Series of Letters by an Officer” William Lane, Leadenhall Street, London, England. p391-398
Brown, Lloyd A. and Peckham, Howard H. 1939. “Revolutionary War Journals of Henry Dearborn 1775-1783” The Caxton Club, Chicago, IL. p104.
National Archives, Rolls of Brigadier General Enoch Poor’s brigade (1st, 2nd, and 3rd NH and 2nd and 4th NY regiments) dated Sept 4-6, 1777 and 1-2 Jan 1778. Accessed from 2014-2018 on http://www.Fold3.com.
Eric Schnitzer, Historian and Park Ranger at Saratoga National Historical Park: A little encouragement goes a long way. Eric put me on the path to looking at all the September 1777 rolls for Enoch Poor’s brigade.