Battle Of Newtown

The Battle of Newtown (August 29, 1779), was the only major battle of the Sullivan Expedition, an armed offensive led by General John Sullivan that was ordered by the Continental Congress to end the threat of the Iroquois who had sided with the British in the American Revolutionary War. John Butler and Joseph Brant did not want to make a stand at Newtown, but proposed instead to harass the enemy on the march, but they were overruled by Sayenqueraghta and other Indian chiefs.

This battle, which was the most significant military engagement of the Sullivan Campaign of 1779 and played a crucial role in America’s Revolutionary War, took place at the foot of a hill along the Chemung River just outside of what is now Elmira, New York.

On August 26, 1789, Sullivan left Fort Sullivan, where the two columns of his army had converged, marching slowly up the Cayuga River to destroy the towns and crops of the Six Nations in western New York. On Sunday, August 29, just ten miles upriver from Fort Sullivan, the advance guard, three companies of riflemen formerly with the Provisional Rifle Corps of Col. Daniel Morgan, reached the area at mid-morning. Suspecting an ambush, they halted and scouted the area. Between eleven and eleven-thirty they discovered the hidden works and Brig-Gen. Edward Hand was notified immediately. He dispatched his light infantry to take up firing positions behind the bank of Baldwin Creek and fire into the works, prompting the defenders to make several unsuccessful attempts at luring the Continentals into an ambush. As the extended army continued to arrive and assemble, Sullivan called a council of war with his brigade commanders. Together they devised a plan of attack, which began at three in the afternoon.