Boyd and Parker Ambush

During the next day the scouting party spotted a group of four Indians along the trail and a brief gun fight occurred.

One Indian was killed, and Boyd and Parker started to return to Sullivan. On the trail they spotted five Indians who fled. Boyd’s guide told him not to follow, for it was a trap, but he ignored the warning. They were led into the enemy’s lines, surrounded, and outnumbered. Fifteen of Boyd’s men were killed, eight escaped, while Boyd and Parker were captured. {Estimates from contemporary Journals is that the Boyd party numbered 29 of whom 17 were killed; 5 returned and 7 escaped.} Besides Boyd and Parker, there are 12 known names of Boyd-Parker party who were killed. One name on this monument "Corporal Calhoun" refers to a NCO who died of wounds in an ambush which occurred separate from the Boyd-Parker ambush.

The two were taken to Little Beard's Town, now Cuylerville, where Brant questioned them. After he left, Little Beard and his men tortured and executed Boyd and Parker in anger over the presence of American troops in the area. Boyd was tied to a tree by his own intestines and forced to run around the tree until he fell dead. The tree is still located in the commemorative park.

In several accounts the man tortured with Boyd is identified as Sgt Michael Parker. However in his official report Sullivan reports that Boyd and a "rifleman" were tortured and killed but does not give the second man a name as the head was missing-thus accounts that it was Parker who was the second man are possibly speculative; a possibility is that the second man was Onedia Chief/Guide Han Yerry who-dead or captured alive-would have been an object of especial anger by the Loyalist allies such as the Iroquois. If it was the body of Han Yerry this could explain why no head was found-taken as a trophy perhaps. However historian Allan W. Eckert, in his comprehensive history of the Sullivan Expedition, Wilderness War (pp 486-490), based on survivor accounts from the handful of soldiers who escaped and from Loyalist troops with the Iroquois, wrote that Hanyerry was killed in the initial ambush and severely mutilated after death, and that Parker had been the soldier tortured with Parker, who was also decapitated.

On September 13, Lt. Boyd and his party were now at the Indian village of Gathtsegwarohare, which they found abandoned. Lt. Boyd sent four men back to Gen. Sullivan to report. After they had left, four Indians on horseback rode into the village. Lt. Boyd attacked killing one Indian and wounding another. The wounded Indian and two others escaped. Lt. Boyd's party started back to return to the main body of the army. After a few miles, Lt. Boyd sent two more of his men back to Gen. Sullivan. These men soon returned after sighting five Indians on the path. Lt. Boyd's party began the trip back, came across the five Indians earlier seen and began firing.

As the party continued on in pursuit, Lt. Boyd and his men did not realize that they were about to come in contact with about 400 Indians and Tories lead by Col. John Butler waiting to ambush Gen. Sullivan's army as they approached up a steep hill from Conesus Lake. In hearing Lt. Boyd's men firing, some Indians believed the ambush had begun and fired upon a surveying party that was coming up from Conesus Lake. Col. Butler reported that "...a scout of the Rebels, 30 in number had fallen in with the right of our line..."

As the engagement began, Lt. Boyd's men fought for some time and finally made their way to a small grove of trees. As they were greatly outnumbered, Lt. Boyd and party were soon overtaken.

In hearing the firing, Gen. Sullivan dispatched the Light Corps and flanking divisions of General Hand's 3rd Brigade but they arrived too late. The Indians were already in retreat to the west.

Approximately eight of Lt. Boyd's men escaped (including Timothy Murphy), approximately 14 were killed, and Lt. Boyd and Sgt. Michael Parker were captured. They were marched to Genesee Castle where they were questioned and subsequently put to death.