A General of the Revolution: John Sullivan of New Hampshire

By Charles P. Whittemore | Go to book overview

VIII: PLANNING FOR THE
INDIAN CAMPAIGN
APRIL-JULY, 1779

Once more Sullivan was taking on a separate command, but, as he rode toward headquarters at Middlebrook, he knew only that he was to lead "an Expedition of an extensive nature agt. the hostile tribes." 1 Washington wanted Sullivan to hint that a blow against Canada was in the offing, for this would confuse the enemy and hide from them the intent to move against the League of the Iroquois, or the Six Nations, to use the English name. No one must know why Sullivan was going to headquarters, Washington warned; because if it became known that an officer of Sullivan's rank was to command in the west, the enemy would find out that the Americans were planning a major campaign in that direction.

The idea of a campaign against the Indians was not new. Most of them had sided with the British, because they realized that the land-hungry American was a rival for their domain. The savages had taken the offensive and during 1778 had carried out two brutal raids at Wyoming and Cherry Valley. In November, 1778, Washington had considered thrusts against Detroit, Niagara, and the area around Lakes Eric and Ontario to curb the ravages of the Indians. 2 A few weeks later Washington even thought of the possibility of a drive toward Canada along with a blow at Niagara, for an invasion into Canada would have pleased Congress. 3 By the beginning of 1779, however, the Commander-in-Chief had fairly well determined in his own

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