OSTH – September 1779

I’ve noticed a bunch of traffic coming through for this information, so I’ll finally clean it up. The Open source Treasure Hunt is just that. I’ve done this research on what I consider an excellent site for exploration. I would like to continue to fish, hike, explore here for years to come. As long as we respect the same rules that the Geo Cachers do, we’ll be fine. PLEASE do not dig up jogging trails, no matter how good that signal is….

The Hemlock and Canadice lakes are owned by the city of Rochester, NY, and used as a source of drinking water. The city owns 7100 acres surrounding the lakes, and allows access with a free permit. Here are the links you need to gain access to the property. If you can't get a permit, don't worry, there is a 24/7 self serve kiosk where you can get permits. It's right at the North end of Hemlock Lake. Sya hello to the giant Porta-potty when you go 😉

Hemlock Visitor brochure and permit
Mapquest Hemlock, NY
History of Canadice
1904 Map of Hemlock
Canadice Trail Guide

OSTH – Sullivan


A hand drawn map made by a member of General Sullivan's army. It shows the path that they took through the area during a campaign against the Seneca Tribe. Haunyauga is called Honeoye today. Conyeadice, is Canadice.

There's a local legend about a treasure in Gold and Silver Excerpt: Persistent of the sparsely settled hills is the belief in buried treasure, hidden it is alleged, by General Sullivan's officers, while crossing the narrow ridge northwest of the lake as a precautionary measure against being captured by the Indians. Sporadic fits of digging extended over a period of a century and a half have yeilded nothing, however, in the way of silver and gold .Source Article (wemett)

Here are some links to writings and letters by General Sullivan. The 1779 Sullivan Campaign emerged as one of the larger of the Continental Army's offensives during the American Revolution, yet remains relatively unknown. It was an act of reprisal to break the Iroquois Confederation, a Native American political and military alliance that included the Seneca, Cayuga, Mohawk, Onondaga, 0neida, and Tuscarora tribes. The Iroquois, with the exception of the Oneida and Tuscarora, openly sided with Great Britain to protect their homelands.
Revolutionary War Letters
Profile by FReeper

I took a 1904 Topo map of the area, and combined it with the hand drawn map above. Sullivan forded Hemlock Lake right at the north end. Evidence of the bridge he built has been found there. It makes sense that he would follow Canadice outlet until it merges with Hemlock outlet. There is a parking lot right at the Canadice outlet on Purcell Road.
I know that the hand drawn map shows Sullivan "crossing the T" on Canadice Lake, but having fished that lake for some years, I think they followed the Canadice outlet until it met up with the Hemlock outlet. That area is just too rugged to follow any other path, and still arrive at the North end of Conesus on the next day. Remember, Sullivan was moving 2,000 men and at least a few canons. I think they would have gone after the Indian settlement on the outlet, but sent scouts to the nearest promontory. That high spots in the area command views of both Canadice and Hemlock lakes. Sullivan could engage the village while his scouts watched for any Iroquois of British reinforcements. Most of this is pure speculation on my part, anyway. My feeling is that most of the searching has been NW of HEMLOCK lake, not Canadice. This promontory is out of the way, so it's unlikely that anything buried there would be found by natives walking on the Indian path hundreds of feet below. So, if Sullivan was concerned enough about being attacked that he buried part of his plunder, why not on the "nose of Bald Hill". It's easy to find when you come back for it years later. (Sullivan didn't return to NY as far as I can tell).I'll take some pictures of the area next time I'm down there. I think that the best time to take pictures will be this winter when all the leaves are off the trees.

General Sullivan’s Correspondence related to his transit of the Hemlock and Canadice Lakes. I’m emphasizing quotes that may lead to interesting places to explore and use a metal detector. Sullivan's Letter In this letter, the general is reporting to congress on the battle of Newtown. Sullivan’s army defeated an Iroquois force. The warriors who had been in the action were equally averse to the proposal, and would think of nothing but flight, and removal of their families; that they kept runners on every mountain to observe the movements of our army, who reported early in the day on which we arrived, that our advance was very rapid; upon which all those who had not been before sent off, fled with precipitation, leaving her [lone old woman in village] without any possible means of escape. During August and September, 1779, the Iroquois of Central New York were fleeing for their lives in front of Sullivan’s force. His mission was to de-stabilize Iroquois settlements in PA and NY. Since Sullivan was burning their crops and villages, they certainly would have seen to necessities first, luxuries second. Sullivan was in a big hurry, he was two months behind schedule, and had to complete his campaign in NY before the weather turned.

http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/1998/sullivan.html This page describes Sullivan’s campaign in New York, 1779The army finally left Tioga August 26, at least two months behind schedule. Hand's light troops were out front, guided by a company of Virginia riflemen. Clinton took the rear and the other two brigades either flank, guarding the baggage train in a box like formation. Flanking parties were sent out. Their efficiency impressed even the British. John Butler wrote Fort Niagara informing them that they were "misinformed" about the composition of the force. It was not untrained militia, but "the best of the Continental Troops commanded by the most active of the Rebel Generals."27 Significantly outnumbered, Butler planned to ambush Sullivan's force and demoralize them before they got too deep into Iroquois territory. All was not well in Sullivan's army. The columns lumbering pace put them behind schedule. The artillery often bogged down, frequently overturning, creating a major headache for the troops
TIMELINE:August 29: Battle of Newtown
September 5: Took village of Kendaia along the west shore of Seneca Lake. At this point in the campaign, Sullivan is moving at about 11 miles per day
September 10: Sullivan reaches Canandaigua
September 11: Sullivan reaches Honeoye
September 13: Boyd’s scouting force is nearly wiped out by an ambush, Boyd is missing
September 14: Army enters Genesee: They found Genesee deserted, but in the town's center, they found the mutilated bodies of Boyd and one of his men. "It appeared that they had whiped them in a most cruel manner, pulled out Mr. Boid's nails, cut off his nose, plucked out one of his eyes, cut out his tongue, stabbed him with spears in sundry places, & inflicted other tortures which decency will not permit me to mention; lastly cut off his head & left his body on the ground."47 The barbarity outraged the men, who set about destroying the town "with great cheerfulness."48 Genesee was a huge town and required nearly two days to raze. Crops were gathered into the huts before they were set on fire. Stores that could not be burned were hurriedly dumped into the river.49

Sullivan turned back at this point
September 17: Sullivan reaches Honeoye. At this point, Sullivan exited my target area. His campaign wasn’t over, though. He continued to the East. The campaign can be seen in some ways as a prototype for Sherman’s March to the sea 80 years later. The operation's success resulted from a combination of careful planning and luck. The weather cooperated. Sullivan was aided by seasoned officers, who led a well-trained, disciplined army. They adapted their tactics to operating a large force in the wilderness. It was an unusual campaign, in that it was waging total war against an entire people, not just an enemy army .I’m trying to imagine what it would be like for the Iroquois in Sullivan’s path. After the battle of Newtown, the news must have spread like wildfire up the Chemung River. This river is a gateway to my research area. Sullivan’s army was in my target area 9/11 to 9/17, 1779. They were moving East-West 9/11-9/14, spent 9/15 and 9/16 at Cuylerville, then moved West-East on 9/17. There are reports from members of the army that the West-East trip took 2 days instead of 1. Sullivan would then have arrived at Honeoye on 9/18. If their best speed was 11 miles/day in the Chemung Valley, then their progress would be somewhat slower in the rugged terrain of my target area.

Is making an attempt to recover General Sullivan’s treasure rational… or even reasonable? General Sullivan’s army was in this area for several days. That’s 5000 troops, hundreds of Iroquois all moving franticly into and out of the area. Sullivan won his greatest victory just two weeks earlier. His army was moving up to 10 miles per day. Up the Chemung river valley. Burning every native village they came across. The effect must have been to drive the entire population up the river valley in confusion. When they reached the western Finger Lakes, they had the choice of several routes. Each Finger Lake had North-south paths that were well developed and traveled by the Iroquois. Sullivan pushed them to the West, also. The westward part of the campaign ended in Cuylerville, just three valleys to the west of Canadice. That’s the place where Boyd died. I think this is significant. Sullivan didn’t turn back because of the torture and grizzly killing of his best scout. He had planned to turn back when he reached Genesee. It’s the first time he suffered this kind of defeat, though. It was a personal blow. Boyd was a trusted scout, commanding the most important sweeping units. They were used to scout ambushes ahead of the main army. This is really the only passage I’ve found related to the treasure: Persistent of the sparsely settled hills is the belief in buried treasure, hidden it is alleged, by General Sullivan's officers, while crossing the narrow ridge northwest of the lake as a precautionary measure against being captured by the Indians. Sporadic fits of digging extended over a period of a century and a half have yielded nothing, however, in the way of silver and gold.Source Page
Looking at the different parts of the passage, I’ve confirmed several things from other sources.- Sullivan was constantly aware of ambushes. His British and Iroquois counterparts had attacked him before. An ambush discovered by Boyd led to the Battle of Newtown, his greatest success. Now, an ambush had led to his greatest loss, the barbaric death of Boyd. Now that he was turning back, I think he would have wanted to travel as light as possible. Especially now that his best ambush scout was dead.- Sullivan was also constantly concerned about supplies during this part of the campaign. To Sullivan, I think the plunder his army was gathering was less important than the food. Genesee was a bonanza for Sullivan. He plundered corn, beans, all manner of foodstuffs. Now if one packhorse was carrying two chests of native trinkets instead of two bushels of corn, I think Sullivan would definitely leave the chests behind.- Sullivan was also very concerned about how quickly his army could move. Every time he stopped for more than a day, he left behind wounded soldiers and canon. He knew that he would be meeting up with 40 wounded and several canons (incl. 1 Howitzer) that he had left at the town of Honeoye. As he moved Eastward across the North end of Canadice Lake, he would have wanted to lighten himself as much as possible before entering Honeoye.

The real treasure may not have been buried by Sullivan after all:- As Sullivan pushed the wave of natives and British before him, they may have buried the important things that they couldn’t lose, but couldn’t carry. These things may be near the old native villages.- The speed with which the Continentals over ran the area is remarkable. There are contemporary reports of fully cooked meals in empty houses. Several people were left behind and questioned by Sullivan’s advancing army.- There are also contemporary reports that the natives knew Sullivan’s position and progress. They posted scouts on high points between the lakes.- So a controlled panic might be descriptive of the mood in the Hemlock/Canadice villages. They knew that they had to leave to the West. After having 1 or 2 days to prepare for flight, several native caches may exist in the hills overlooking village sites.

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Posted in OSTH. 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “OSTH – September 1779”

  1. This Land is MY Land « npanth Says:

    […] residents and the Seneca/Cayuga tribes.  In short, the Cayuga were forced out of New York state by General Sullivan during the Revolutionary War.  The majority of the tribe now lives in Ontario, Canada.  They have […]

  2. Bill Coffin Says:

    Can you lead me to what kind of trails Sullivan had to use?
    Were they mostly the original single track trails the Indians had or were they more widened by 1789 with pack animals and wheeled vehicles? 10 miles a day was good with 5000 troops and canon so there must have been some road width. Marching in box formation must have been difficult and slow with a narrow trail.


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