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Massacre of German Flats, New York

We again hear of the Tuscarora by history, concerning a massacre of the German Flats, N. Y., in November, 1757.

A narrative communicated to the author of the Documentary History of New York, vol. 2, page 520, viz: A few days after this massacre and desolation had been perpetrated, Sir William Johnson dispatched Geo. Croghan, Esq., Deputy Agent, with Mr. Montour, the Indian interpreter, to the German Flats, where he understood several of the Oneida and Tuscarora Indians were assembled, in order to call upon them to explain why they had not given more timely notice to the Germans of the designs and approach of the enemy, it having been reported that no intelligence had been given by the Indians until the same morning the attack was made, and as these Indians might naturally be supposed, from their situation and other circumstances, to have had an earlier knowledge of the enemy’s design and march.

Before Mr. Croghan could get up to the German Flats the aforesaid Indians were on their road homewards, but he was informed that the Chief Sachem of the Upper Oneida town, with a Tuscarora Sachem (which is supposed to be Solomon Longboard) and another Oneida Indian, were still about four miles from Fort Harkeman, upon which he sent a messenger to acquaint them that he was at the said fort.

The aforesaid Indians returned, and on the 30th of November, at Fort Harkeman, Conaghquieson, the Oneida Sachem, made the following speech to Mr. Croghan, having first called in one Rudolph Shumaker, Hanjost Harkman and several other Germans who understood the Indian language, and desired them to sit down and hear what he had to say. Conaghquieson then proceeded and said:

“Brothers: I can’t help telling you that we were very much surprised to hear that our English brethren suspect and charge us with not giving them timely notice of the designs of the French, as it is well known we have not neglected to give them every piece of intelligence that came to our knowledge.

“Brothers, about fifteen days before the affair happened we sent the Germans word that some Swegatchi Indians told us that the French were determined to destroy the German Flats, and desired them to be on their guard. About six days after that we had a further account from the Swegatchi Indians that the French were preparing to march.

“I then came to the German Flats, and in a meeting with the Germans told them what we had heard, and desired to collect themselves together in a body at their fort,1 and secure their women, children and effects, and to make the best defense they could. At the same time I told them to write what I had said to our brother, Warraghryagey (meaning Sir William Johnson2), but they paid not the least regard to what I told them, and laughed at me, slapping their hands on their buttocks, saying they did not value the enemy, upon which I returned home and sent one of our people to the lake (meaning Oneida Lake) to find out whether the enemy were coming or not. After he had staid there two days the enemy arrived at the carrying-place, and sent word to the castle at the lake that they were there, and told them what they were going to do, but charged them not to let us at the upper castle know anything of their design. As soon as the man I sent there heard this he came on to us with the account that night; and as soon as we received it we sent a belt of wampum, to confirm the truth thereof, to the Flats, which came here the day before the enemy made their attack: but the people would not give credit to the account even then, or they might have saved their lives.3 This is the truth, and those Germans here present know it to be so. The aforesaid Germans did acknowledge it to be so, and that they had such intelligence.

“George Croghan.”

Footnotes

  1. A stockade work round the church, and a block-house, with a ditch, and a parapet thrown up by Sir William Johnson, a year ago, upon an alarm then given. 

  2. They never sent this intelligence to Sir William Johnson. 

  3. The Indians who brought the belt of wampum, finding the Germans still incredulous, the next morning, just before the attack began, laid hold on the German Minister, and in a manner forced him over to the other side of the river, by which means he and some who followed him escaped the fate of their brethren. 

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