Back to articles page
 
 
If you have any comments, please use our forum


Yankee-Pennamite Wars.

By 1JMA member Justinian


The US Civil War of 1861-1865 was not the first time that official state governments in the United States of America went to war with each other. Armed conflict between the then British colonies of Connecticut (Yankees) and Pennsylvania (Pennamites) started in 1769 and finally finished, after a brief pause during the Revolution, as a settlement between the States of Connecticut and Pennsylvania in 1807. The war involved forces of up to 400-500 on each side, cannons, blockhouses, death marches, and area cleansings. The eventual death toll would reach into the multiple hundreds and most likely when losses due to exposure, starvation and Indians are factored in the losses would top 1,000. With the majority of those losses being suffered by the young, the old, women, and children.


The spark for all of this struggle and bloodshed was the fundamentally different ways that the colonies dealt with the issue of land. In Connecticut land was sold to the settler who then owned the title and the land. In Pennsylvania the settler merely leased the land and did not own it.
The struggle starts back in 1662 when the English Crown gave a land grant to the colony of Connecticut which extended to 41 degrees latitude and stretched from the great Atlantic Ocean across the known lands to the great sea on the far side. A swath of land across North America, sea to sea.
Initially this grant caused little real trouble. But then this grant was complicated and conflicted when that same King of England, Charles II, issued a land grant for Pennsylvania to William Penn in 1681 which extended up to 42 degrees latitude. Thus creating an overlap in the respective claims and grants.
The issue remained a mere legal abnormality until in 1750 when Connecticut based explorers started to explore and map the Wyoming valley. The Wyoming Valley is located in that area of overlap of the two competing land grants. The Wyoming Valley is about 30 km in length and 4.8-6.4 km in width. The Yankee explorers found the Wyoming Valley to be fertile land (What they did not know is that underground were the largest supplies of anthracite coal in the world!) bounded by the Poconos Mountains and fed by the Susquehanna River. In all the Yankee explorers found the Wyoming Valley to be desirable land.
So much so that in 1754 they formed the Susquehanna Company. This entity arranged for and then purchased the lands in and around the Wyoming Valley from the Onondagan Council. As soon as word reached Pennsbury Manor of the land sale by the Indians to the Yankees, the Penn family, which still administered the colony of Pennsylvania, declared this land sale and even formation of the Susquehanna Company to be unlawful and to be the work of “Yankee Intruders”.
Pennsylvania’s bluster and outrage remained unheeded by those intrepid and restless Connecticut settlers. They began to migrate in, in a very slow drivel. They established in 1762 a settlement near the modern town of Wilkes-Barre.


The historical marker for this settlement is north of Wilkes-Barre along River Road. The settlement began to grow. That is until all the settlers fled the area as a result of Pontiacs Uprising (1763-1766). The rampaging Iroquois passed through the area burning the existing settlement on the 15th of October in 1763. Following the suppression of the uprising the flow of settlers picked up pace. By now several hundred families, not just explorers were entering the fertile valley along the Susquehanna River. Though still settling in small farm clusters and not forming any villages or towns. Enraged at this thwarting of their will and the loss of lease profits the Penn family appealed to the British Crown for redress.


In 1763 the Crown ruled. The ruling was not to the total satisfaction of the Penn’s in that it only ordered a cessation of any new settlements in the area by people from Connecticut. Not satisfied with the Royal rulings, the Penn’s arranged to get the Iroquois and the other tribes of the Onondagan Council to renege on their original treaty of 1754 with Connecticut and the Susquehanna Company. The Iroquois did as the Penn’s asked and formulated a new treaty with the Pennamites. This new treaty which gave the disputed land to the Penn’s was known as the Treaty of Fort Stanwick. Thus in a shrewd legal move the Penn’s had eliminated any legal standing that the Yankees had for being in the valley and not paying lease money to the Penn’s.


1765 Sir William Johnson granted to CPT Amos Ogden of NJ rights for a trading post at Wyoming. Following the Treaty of Fort Stanwick the Penn’s granted through their agent Sir William Johnson a seven year lease starting in 1765 to a certain Captain Amos Ogden. This lease was for the establishment of a trading post in the Wyoming Valley and as a part of the lease Captain Ogden had to help resist further incursions by the Susquehanna Company. A lease for 100 acres near the trading post was also granted to the sheriff of Northampton County, John Jennings. To provide a greater degree of legitimacy and incentive the Penn’s assigned the Wyoming Valley as part of Northampton County.


The Yankees were not going to sit on their hands and let the Pennamites assimilate valuable land that they believed to be theirs. After a planning meeting of the Susquehanna Company in November of 1768 it was resolved that the Company should take clear action vis-à-vis its claims on the Wyoming Valley. To that end a plan of action was decided


First that a notice would be placed in several newspapers announcing their intent. This was done in the New London Gazette and the Connecticut Courant on 02DEC1768 and again in the Pennsylvania Chronicle and Universal Advertisers on 09DEC1768. The notice announced a meeting on 28DEC1768 in Hartford in the Colony of Connecticut of the Susquehanna Company to discuss land settlement in the Wyoming Valley. At the meeting on 28DEC1768 it was resolved to dispatch a lead element of 40 settlers to the Wyoming Valley to secure the area for the rest of the company. These trailblazers were to take occupancy of the lands no later than 01FEB1769. Furthermore it was decided that 200 more Yankee settlers would join the original 40 no later than 01JUN1769.
The first 40 Yankee settlers set out for the Wyoming Valley in a harsh January winter on horseback to make good their claim. They left from the city of Windham and proceeded westward to Goshen in Orange County, New York.


Then they headed south to the Delaware River, then south to Monroe County, PA, then NW across the Poconos Mountains to the Wyoming Valley. They arrived on 08FEB1769 to find the Pennamites already in occupation of the area.
The first 40 Yankee settlers did not proceed without being noticed by the Pennamites. The Yankees in fact found several of the older buildings already occupied by Pennamites. The 40 settlers then retreated from the area to a place called Lackawanuck (modern day Pittston, Pennsylvania). There they built three cabins. On 13 MAR1769 100 armed Pennamites commanded by Captain Amos Ogden, Sheriff Jennings of Northampton County, and Captain Alexander Patterson of the Pennsylvania militia arrived with an arrest warrant signed by Judge Gordon of Northampton County. The warrant was issued and the arrest was affected with the arrested Yankees being marched down to Easton. Nine of the Yankees escaped on the way to Easton. The rest were released upon arraignment in Easton when 100lb bail for each was paid by the Susquehanna Company.


Undaunted and in true Yankee spirit, another group of Yankee settlers replaced the first group on the front lines and proceeded to build their own blockhouse from which to enforce their claims in the Wyoming Valley. This blockhouse was in Kingston and it was called Forty Fort. The name of the new blockhouse, Forty Fort, derived from the Forts capacity to shelter inside its walls forty settlers and also in honor of the first forty settlers.


A new conditional was showing up on land purchase agreements among the Yankees. A condition of the sale being that the buyer had to promise to manfully defend his new lands against the Pennsylvanians. Not to be outdone, Pennsylvania went ahead and leased out many of these same tracts of land to some of its citizens as well. The Pennsylvanians also added to their leases a condition that the leaser had to defend their leased lands from the intrusions of the Yankees from Connecticut. The powder was set and the fuzz was now lit for an explosion of violence.


Violence exploded in the form of open armed conflict in 1769 when Connecticut settlers moved into the township of Plymouth (five townships were laid out, Plymouth, Kingston, Hanover, Wilkes-Barre, and Pittston. Each township was five miles square and supposed to support forty settlers with families) they discovered Pennsylvanians already in occupancy. Apparently the local Pennamites had in accordance with their leases also built a blockhouse. The Yankees immediately stormed and captured this blockhouse.


The remaining local Pennamites gathered together and proceeded by some designed ruse to lure the Yankees out of the blockhouse and into a planned ambush. The result was that the armed band of Connecticut settlers was captured and imprisoned by the Pennsylvanians.
The Susquehanna Company immediately authorized an advance party of 110 settlers under the command of Major John Durkee (of French and Indian War fame). This column rendezvoused with the now paroled original 40 settlers in the Delaware River Valley. They then as a combined column marched past the Pennamite settlement (20 or so folks) at Mill Creek with the Connecticut flag flying at the head of the column.


Upon reaching the site of the now burned village of Teedyuscung the Yankees began to conduct a survey of the area and establish the town of Wilkes-Barre on its present location. In order secure their new town the Yankees had by 20MAY1769 constructed a stockade which they named Fort Durkee, on the banks of the Susquehanna River (near the present site of Wilkes University on the modern South River Street near the intersection of West Ross Street) after their leader. This fort covered a half acre of land and consisted of a quadrangle with twenty log cabins and a surrounding wooden palisade complete with watch towers and loop holes for firing through. Major Durkee named the settlement surrounding the fort, Wilkes-Barre in honor of two English members of Parliament, Colonel John Wilkes and Colonel Isaac Barre, who were known to be supporters of the American colonists.


The scared but loyal Pennamites immediately sent a dispatch to Philadelphia with information about the situation. Governor Penn dispatched Sheriff Jennings to once again return and order the Yankees out. The Yankees listened to the proclamation and then responded to it by a discharge of musketry over the Sheriffs head The Governor had also ordered a group of militia under the command of Colonel Turbot Francis to remove the Yankees by force if needed.
A few weeks later in June, 1769 the aforementioned group of militia under the command of Colonel Turbot Francis arrived in the Wyoming Valley. The crimson clad militia complete with fifes, drums, and colors flying marched up to the walls of Fort Durkee where upon Colonel Turbot Francis demanded that the Yankees surrender their fort and themselves or he would burn it and all the surrounding buildings down to ash, confiscate all property and livestock, and kill all the people with in the walls. Finishing his speech the militia company marched off to their own fort, Fort Augusta (Sunbury) some 60 miles away.


The next two months were a period of harassment against the Yankees by roving detachments of Pennamites operating from Fort Augusta. In several of these attacks some of the Yankees were captured and sent to the jail back in Easton. They were all charged with rioting. They were all found guilty of the charge and sentenced to a fine of 10 pounds each and they also had to pay the costs of their own trials. Before sentences could be carried out some of the Yankee prisoners had managed to escape from the Easton jail and return to the settlements in the Wyoming Valley.


Meanwhile during this period of harassment on 29AUG1769 the settlers of Wilkes-Barre petitioned the government of Connecticut to establish and recognize their settlement as a county of the Colony of Connecticut. While the debating in the Connecticut State House was going on; the Pennamites were in the process of striking back. 200 militia equipped with a four pounder cannon under the command of Sheriff Jennings marched back into the valley. They managed to capture a party of Yankees on 11NOV1769 which included Major Durkee. Once in the valley they rendezvoused with Captain Ogden and his 50 men. Together the combined Pennamite forces marched on Fort Durkee. The appearance of the cannon, coupled with the loss of their leader caused the Yankees to surrender their Fort with out firing a shot. Major Durkee and three other leaders were shipped to the jail in Philadelphia, and the rest of the Yankees were told to return to Connecticut. As soon as they headed out on their way the Pennamite militia seized and sold at auction all the remaining livestock and property which the Yankees had not carried. Captain Ogden returned to Philadelphia leaving a 10 man garrison at Fort Durkee


Remaining near the area and having been paroled Major Durkee, undaunted by his recent defeat began to rally an armed force from among the remaining local Yankee settlers. This rag tag force proceeded to engage and defeat the Pennsylvanians.
They also managed to capture the canon and Fort Durkee, which they then proceeded to burn to the ground. But 1769 was not yet over and neither was the see-saw struggle for land dominance.


Captain Amos Ogden returns once more to the area with 140 more Pennsylvanians who managed to retake the heavily contested area from the Yankees. They also rebuilt Fort Durkee and proceeded to remove all of the Connecticut settlers creating a Pennamite only area. But the Yankees were not about to give up with out another fight.


On 18JAN1770 with the blessing of the Susquehanna Company a certain Captain Zebulon Butler arrived in Hanover, PA where he was successful in recruiting a group of 40 unhappy Pennamites to the Yankee cause who where known by the name of The Paxton Boys. As a reward force their service they were to be allotted their own township which was to be named after their own home town in Pennsylvania, Hanover .The Paxton Boys were led by Captain Lazarus Stewart. On 12FEB1770 this group easily retook Fort Durkee from the Pennamites. . Major Durkee soon escaped from the jail in Philadelphia and ON 20MAR1770 Major Durkee and some additional men linked up with Stewart and the Paxton Boys at the fort. Major Durkee was now back in command of all the Yankee forces in the Wyoming Valley and Captain Zebulon Pike was appointed the commandant of Fort Durkee.
In response to this Yankee counter stroke Captain Ogden left Philadelphia with a small force to go retake the valley from the Yankees. On 28MAR Captain Ogden, a deputy sheriff and 50 armed men attempted to serve a warrant and evict the Yankees. This resulted in a sharp engagement. It was during this engagement that the first fatal casualty from direct action in the Yankee-Pennamite Wars occurred. He was one of the Paxton Boys from Hanover, Pennsylvania serving alongside the Yankees, his name was Baltzer Stage.


The tension and ill feelings now began to rapidly ratchet upwards. The Yankees trundled out their captured cannon and proceeded to fire it at the Pennamites, who were holed up on the other side of the river (east bank). The artillery, though producing much noise and a large cloud of powder smoke, caused little damage when sighted and fired by the Yankee farmers. Owing to their lack of skill and experience, Major Durkee decided that they would have better luck if they moved the gun across the river to the same side that the Pennamites were on. He was proven correct when soon after redeploying the artillery piece a direct hit was scored on a Pennamite storehouse. The storehouse then proceeded to catch fire and in the ensuing blaze most of the Pennamite ammunition and supplies were burned up and destroyed.


The Penn’s, responding to calls for reinforcements and assistance sent to them by the besieged Ogden, appealed to The Commander of British Forces in the colonies, General Gage. Since this appeal reached General Gage shortly after the Boston Massacre, the British were reluctant to split their own forces in case a general rebellion erupted among the colonies. Accordingly General Gage’s reply, dated 15APR1770, denies the Pennamites any royal assistance. He stated in his reply that he viewed the current stand off to be merely a localized property dispute, which in his opinion was below the dignity of the King and his troops to interfere in. This abjectly negative response disheartened the Pennamites and they proceeded to surrender their Mill Creek fort and exit the valley. So even though the Yankees suffered the first fatality it was the outnumbered and outgunned Pennamites who were forced to surrender and retreat from the field. MAJ Durkee then promptly reduced the surrendered Pennamite fort to a pile of smoldering ash.


The Pennamites however refused to abandon land which they viewed as rightfully theirs. They began to return after three months of recruiting and refitting, once again led by Captain Ogden. They entered the valley through a series of night marches. They dispersed their force, 140 strong, into pockets of ten men each and laid a brilliant area ambush which succeeded at early morning on 21SEP1770 to capture many Yankee settlers as they began work in their fields. Among those nabbed in the ambush was the Yankee commander, Major Durkee himself. This depletion of the available manpower to defend the Yankee fort emboldened the Pennamites into attacking the fort itself

Ogden dispatched a 100 man raiding party under the command of Captain Thomas Craig to take Fort Durkee by a rapid approach. By approaching in the cool September night air Captain Craig was able under the cover of darkness on 23SEP1770 to dispatch the sentinel at the gate and get his men inside the walls of the fort. The surprise night time assault was successful. So early in the morning of 24SEP1770 after a brief melee in which there were several casualties the Yankee fort capitulated. The survivors including women and children were crammed like packed sardines into a small building. And after a few miserable days they were ordered to march with all haste back to Connecticut.

The Yankee leaders, including the wounded Captain Zebulon Butler, were once again dispatched to jail. Major Durkee would spend the next 23 months in jail and Zebulon Butler would be incarcerated for four months. This time the Pennamite commander Captain Ogden left 20 men to hold the fort over the winter while he returned to Philadelphia to bask in the accolades of his deeds.

The indefatigable leader of the Paxton Boys, Lazarus Stewart however still remained at large. He had evaded capture and was thought by the Pennamites to be hiding in the town of Lebanon. An immediate warrant was issued for his arrest which noted that Stewart was to be considered the most dangerous man in Pennsylvania. Stewart was eventually captured two weeks later in York, Pennsylvania and though handcuffed, barefoot, and wit out a jacket he managed to effect his escape during the dark of night and make his way cross country to Paxton, where he assumed command of 25 of the assembled Paxton Boys. At about three in the morning on 18DEC1770, after stealthily infiltrating the Wyoming Valley, Stewart and his Paxton Boys managed to gain entry and seize the Pennamite fort driving off the Pennamite defenders into the dark woods.

The coming of the New Year brought the return of CPT Ogden with 100 men to the Wyoming Valley. They arrived on 18JAN1771 100 strong and they proceeded to build, only 1,000 feet north of Fort Durkee, another Fort which they called Fort Wyoming. Fort Wyoming was located in the city of Wilkes-Barre near where the General Hospital is located today.

On the 21JAN1771 Ogden a delegation of his men approached the Yankee defenses and demanded that the Yankees surrender themselves and their fort. The Yankees responded with gunfire wounding three Pennamites and killing Nathan Ogden, the brother of the Pennamite commander. The Pennamites fell back to their own fort at sunset to regroup and plan the next days attack. During the night the Yankees realizing that they were out numbered, and fearing that they would now face a warrant of arrest on the charge of murder, Lazarus Stewart and a group of his men slipped out in the middle of the night and made good their escape to Connecticut. The remaining Yankee forces slipped out into the darkness as well leaving the fort abandoned.

The victorious Pennamites destroyed Fort Durkee and strengthened Fort Wyoming. They also erected a new blockhouse at the sight of the original Connecticut settlement located at Mill Creek. Additionally Governor Penn authorized the allocation for lease of plots, 100 acres each, for 30 pounds. Each plot came with a provision that the occupying Pennsylvanians had to be willing to immediately occupy said land, and swear to defend their lands against any non-Pennsylvanians.

The Yankee reaction was swift. A 100 strong Yankee column under the command of Captain’s Zebulon Butler and Lazarus Stewart reentered Wilkes-Barre on 8JUL1771. The Pennamites, 49 men and 48 women, who had taken up the offer of Gov Penn, had caught wind of the of the coming Yankee invasion force and sought refuge inside Fort Wyoming. On 30JUL1771 the Yankees attacked besieging the Pennamites holed up inside fort Wyoming. Captain Ogden managed to elude the cordon and escape at night from the fort and its besiegers. He then successfully made the 122 mile trip back to Philadelphia to get a relief force to lift the siege.

Ogden’s pleas did not go un-noticed; the Gov of Pennsylvania authorized 300 pounds for the raising of an armed force to lift the siege. An advance party of 30 men with supplies of food and ammunition left to establish a base camp for the main body of the relief force. With in two weeks the relief forces under the command of Ogden and his assistant Captain John Dick entered the Wyoming Valley.

The establishment of the base camp and the approach of the relief column did not go unnoticed by the Yankees. The Yankees acting on their own intelligence dispatched a flying column of their own which established an ambush along the expected route of the Pennamite advance. The Pennamites, in march column, came up along the expected route and when the lead elements of the Pennamite column entered the kill zone the Yankee ambush was sprung. 20 of the Pennamites with their leader managed to escape the heavy cross fire but they lost all of their supplies and horses as war booty to the Yankees.

In response to the ambush a second Pennamite relief column under Captain Asher Clayton was dispatched. During its approach the main Yankee force kept up the pressure on Fort Wyoming inflicting several casualties. They intensified their siege when the besiegers wheeled out a second canon which had been made by the Yankee blacksmiths in the Valley. The canon, made from an iron hoped hollow log exploded apart when the second round was fired, flinging some of the ion hoops up to 50 yards distant. There followed 16 more days of artillery and rifle fire.


The remaining Pennamites fought back tenaciously but with ammunition, food, and supplies exhausted and no word of Captain Ogden’s relief column they signed the articles of capitulation on 15AUG1771. The Yankee victory after three years of struggle and turmoil was complete, they controlled the valley and settlers from Connecticut were starting to enter the valley with out fear of the Pennamites.

The Yankees felt secure enough in their mastery of the valley to start bringing in their wives and children. How ever they still built some more blockhouses in Hanover, Plymouth and on the west side of the river which they called Forty Fort in honor of the first 40 settlers. The settlers then at the salary of 60 pounds per year and a grant of 50 acres brought in a Christian minister, Reverend Jacob Jacobson. His first duty was to officiate at the first wedding in the Wyoming valley between Elizabeth Sill and Nathan Denson. Along with a church, the settlers established general stores, grist mills, saw mills, and schools. The burr under the watching Pennamites saddle was when they also established a local militia.


The next year in response to the Yankee settlement activities the Gov. of Pennsylvania, Richard Penn, issued in JUN1772 a proclamation charging all of the Connecticut settlers with disturbing the peace and aiding and abetting known criminals. He furthermore ordered them to remove themselves and return to Connecticut. Apparently the Yankee settlements had spilled out of the valley and were occurring along the west branch of the Susquehanna River near Muncy. Events however stayed civil on the ground with the fighting being confined to warring in the newspapers. This proclamation coincided with the establishment by Pennsylvania of Northumberland County. Northumberland County had its county seat Sunbury, but ominously the Wyoming Valley was included in the Pennsylvania plat as a part of this new county.
Following a delay Connecticut responded in like manner. On 27JAN1774 Connecticut itself recognized the settlement, located at modern day Wilkes-Barre, as the Township of Westmoreland and incorporated it as part of Litchfield County of the Colony of Connecticut. The official Connecticut census of 1774 showed that a total of 1,992 people now lived in Wyoming.


This organizing urge created yet a sixth township called Muncy. This new township rekindled the embers into a roaring fire. Armed bands of Yankees and Pennamites would continually fight struggle through 1775, by which time their were over 5,000 settlers in the area. Events in Massachusetts, at Lexington Green and in Concord seemed to not dissuade the claimants from exerting their respective claims on the Wyoming Valley. Ignoring the common threat posed by the British the two sides once again prepared to cross bayonets.

AUG1775 would see a resumption of open hostilities and bloodshed. Gov. Penn was adamant about exerting his claims to the lands. This cause he managed to raise a force of over 700 militia under the command of COL. William Plunkett. The first engagements occurred on 28SEP1775, among those settlements situated along the west banks of the Susquehanna River. Having overwhelming odds of 700 to 100 the Pennamites successfully attacked and defeated the local Yankees killing one and wounding eight others .The Pennamite then proceeded to confiscate all movable property, livestock, and horses and sell it at auction. The Yankees, who were captured, were dismissed and they fled to the city Wyoming. In response Gov Turnbull of Connecticut petitioned The Continental Congress, which in its response issued a rather murky and weak resolution on 04NOV1775 which basically told the respective colonial assemblies to work it out peacefully.


The Pennamites decided to debate the issue both in words and in deeds. The relative ease of clearing the wet bank of the river emboldened the Pennamites to cross over and finish the job, and Colonel Plunkett was ordered to do so and once and for all evict the Yankees and bring the Valley under Pennsylvanian authority.

To that end 650 men and two artillery pieces were organized by COL Plunkett at Fort Augusta. The men were divided into four separate companies. They left Fort Augusta on 15DEC1775. in a raging snowstorm. Five days later they had reached Nescopeck Creek which is located about 19 miles below Nanticoke Falls.

The Yankees being well appraised of the column, its size, and intentions decided to lay an area ambush and attack the column To accomplish this the Yankees under the command of Colonel Zebulon Butler put together a force of over 400 men who were divided into ambush teams of 20-30 men. They set off in the falling snow heading south along the western shore of the Susquehanna River. They bivouacked at Harvey’s Creek which is opposite of Nanticoke Falls. The Pennamites had meanwhile advanced towards the Yankees making an encampment at Harvey’s Landing which is about 400 meters south of the Yankee position.

The next day 24DEC1775, CPT Lazarus Stewart and 20 men crossed over to the eastern side. The remaining Yankees retreated about a mile to a place known as “Rampart Rocks”. Rampart Rocks is a high tree and shrub shrouded ledge which follows the river bank. Not long after the Yankees had left Harvey’s Creek the Pennamites arrived there. The Pennamites came on into the valley during a heavy snowstorm. They caught sight of a detachment of 20 or so Yankees under the command Ensign Mason Alden who had been positioned at the southern end of the Wyoming Valley. Alden’s departure caused a Pennamite pursuit and Alden led his pursuers directly into the teeth of an ambush. Nearing the position the Pennamite advance guard came under heavy musket fire from the Yankees. The ambush kicked off and immediately four Pennsylvanians were killed and the rest succumbed to panic and fled south of Nanticoke falls back to their camp at Harvey’s Creek.

Plunkett believing that the majority of the Yankee forces were entrenched at Rampart Rocks ordered that two boats be dragged over land and made ready for an amphibious attack on Wilkes-Barre which he believed to now be unguarded and it was the hub of all the Yankee activity in the Valley. They managed to secure boats and start a crossing of the falls under the cover of darkness and the falling snow. Near the far shore a fusillade of musketry erupted directed at the Pennamites. CPT Lazarus Stewart and his 20 men had been patiently laying in ambush for just such a crossing attempt by the Pennsylvanians. Once again even in the dark the Yankee balls were finding targets and panic set in among the men in boats who hurried back across the river to where they started. Some of them giving in to panic rode their boats straight over the falls.

The very next day 25DEC1775 Plunkett divided his forces into two wings and they marched back to where Ensign Mason had led them into the first ambush. The main unit conducted a frontal assault on the Yankees to hold them in position while the second wing attempted to move to the left flank, where they started an ascending climb up the rock face. The fighting raged on most of the day. The Pennsylvanians were making little headway against the well entrenched Yankees, losses were quickly mounting with Yankee casualties amounting to three killed and ten wounded and the attackers suffering 50-60 total killed and wounded.

Unable to dislodge or go around the Yankees and suffering from an erosion of morale the Pennamites broke contact and fell back to Fort Augusta.
It is interesting to note how serious this affair was to both parties. Some of the people involved on both sides were soldiers of the Continental Army who had taken leave so that they could fight each other on behalf of their respective states/colonies. The end of 1775 marked the end of the second phase of armed conflict in the Wyoming Valley as both sides finally banded together to fight against the British. Over 200 men would leave the Wyoming Valley to serve in the Continental Army.
In 1781 before a formal treaty of peace was signed with the British. The State/Colony of Pennsylvania once again went with the litigation route for a final settlement of the Yankee-Pennamite land disputes. A commission operating under the auspices of the new national government and authority of the Articles of Confederation of 1781 issued in 1783 the Trenton Decree.


The Trenton Decree which found in favor of Pennsylvania’s claims, though with certain caveats did not immediately put an end to the armed combat in the Wyoming Valley. The fighting was sparked by the harsh terms of capitulation that the Pennsylvanians issued to the occupying Yankee settlers. The Pennsylvania State Legislature affirmed their concurrence with the terms and appointed the terms writer Alexander Patterson as supreme local authority in the area. He was given complete power by the State of Pennsylvania to solve the problem.


One of his first acts was to start renaming various localities. The Yankee town of Wilkes-Barre now became the Pennsylvania town of Londonary. But Patterson did not come north to the Wyoming Valley by himself. He brought various officials and militia troops to assist him. The militia he quartered in private homes, much the British had habitually done. Patterson was in fact the dictator of the valley acting as sole legal authority. With him there was no separation of law and order.
Patterson soon showed that he was not at all afraid to use the extraordinary powers that had been vested in him. He began to round up the official and un-official leaders of the Yankee settlers through out the valley. He had them held in dungeons with little or no food, blankets or water.
One of the prisoners held in squalor appealed the situation to Congress. This infuriated Patterson and he decided that the only way to truly exert Pennsylvania’s claim to the Wyoming Valley was to remove by force all vestiges of the Connecticut settlers.
Physical reminders, like fences, markers and monuments, roads and bridges, of the Yankees were destroyed. It was not only the works of Yankee hands that had to be removed but the very Yankee hands that built them. 150 Yankee settler families were driven out of there homes and prodded along by Pennsylvania bayonets into Fort Dickinson where they were kept with out food, shelter, or water.
Those families who lived further out were rounded up and driven cross country on a trail of tears and death. A total of 800 Yankees of all ages were pushed along by bayonets through poring rains in the wilds of North Eastern Pennsylvania for two weeks.


They were given no food, water, or help. The weak that fell along the way, were left to die in the mud. The chosen path followed no road or river.
Reports began to reach Philadelphia about the proceedings from various Pennsylvanian settlers in the back country. The reports of the dying and the wretched alarmed and outraged many. The State sent sheriffs and deputies to the area and they proceeded to round up Patterson’s men and dismiss militia members and arrest Patterson.
The state even went so far as to encourage those recently evicted to return to their lands. The local Pennsylvanians in the area and those who had moved in on the heels of the departing Yankees began a campaign of squatting. They took over abandoned Yankee farms and hired many of Patterson’s former troops to protect their new acquisitions.


The returning Yankees finding their farms, houses, and shops occupied congregated in a rocky area on the side of a mountain. Though they may have thought of it as a stronghold it soon proved to be a ghetto. Pennsylvanians still loyal to Patterson’s actions put up pickets and a rough cordon around the area. They shot at and chased any Yankees who ventured forth to forage for food or trade.
Eventually enough Yankees were assembled who had both the will and the firearms to try and end the siege. They broke out at night and proceeded to occupy three out buildings on a farm in Kingston Township.
The Pennsylvanians informal band of toughs still being directed by Patterson himself attempted to storm the Yankee occupied buildings. On 20 July 1784 they attacked. Their attack managed to kill two of the defenders but the attack met with several heavy fusillades and the Pennsylvanians retreated to rethink their plan.
Smelling blood in the water and seeking to exploit their victory the Yankees soon re-occupied all of Hanover, Kingston, and Plymouth. Following this a column of Pennsylvanians were encountered on the march and the Yankees engaged and gave chase driving the Pennamites back inside the stockade walls of Fort Dickinson. There followed a siege of the fort by the Yankees.


The siege of the Pennamites trapped inside Fort Dickinson continued for several days. The Legislature of Pennsylvania alarmed at the defiance ordered militia troops from Northampton to march into the valley and lift the siege.
The Pennamite relief column advanced steadily until 02AUG when they were ambushed by 40 or so Yankees who managed to kill tow militia troops and drive the rest of them back. Fearing that they may not be able to muster enough forces in time the Pennamites sought to negotiate an end to the siege.
On 06AUG they managed to convince the Yankees to lift the siege and put down their weapons. The Yankees agreed but then Patterson’s men refused to disarm and the Pennamite negotiator returned the surrendered arms to the Yankees and begged them to leave.


The Pennsylvania Legislature was unhappy with the turn of events authorized a Col. John Armstrong to march into the valley with 400 militia and rectify the situation. Armstrong sought to negotiate an end to the tensions. He was able to get the Yankees to once again turn in their weapons. However Armstrong double crossed the Yankees.
Once they were all disarmed he had them surrounded and arrested. There followed a period of captivity and grand jury proceedings. The sheriff refused to honor the arrest and released the Yankees from their bondage. Armstrong who had left the area immediately returned with a small force of 40-50 men and proceeded to set up his base of operations in Wilkes-Barre.
The now freed Yankees were reinforced by a group of Green Mountain Boys from Vermont. Now reinforced the Yankees again laid siege to the Pennamite forces. This time Pennamite resistance was up to the task and they managed to drive the Yankees back and end the siege.
Though the Pennsylvania Council of Censors had issued on 11SEP a condemnation of the State authorities for their treatment and actions vis-à-vis the Wyoming Valley the legislature was not done trying to assert its rights.
The State Legislature promoted Armstrong to the position of Adjutant General of Pennsylvania and authorized the calling out of the militia from four counties to enforce Pennsylvanian rule and authority in the Wyoming Valley.
Though promoted and authorized to raise more forces Armstrong returned to Wilkes-Barre with only 50 men. This small band attempted to carry out their duty. They formed up and launched an assault on a fortified Yankee blockhouse. The assault failed and the small Pennamite force under Armstrong evacuated their own fort in Wilkes-Barre and marched out of the valley. The Yankees proceeded to burn the evacuated fort to the ground on 30NOV.
This marked the end of active combat actions in the Wyoming Valley between the Yankees and the Pennsylvanians. Though the Connecticut settlers had won out on the field of battle they were finally abandoned in 1785 by the State of Connecticut following their loss of appeal to Congress.