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Rev. John Strong in the Sullivan Expedition

Updated: Jan 27, 2019

Rev. John Strong was my maternal 6th great-grandfather. He was born on the 10th of April, 1755, in Coventry, Tolland County, Connecticut. He was the son of Enoch Strong and Sarah (Meraugh) Strong. John married Lydia Thomas in Cochecton, New York, in March of 1775 and together they had fifteen known children.

John was a Baptist clergyman who “became a Revolutionary soldier, and was twice driven from his home by the Indians”. He fought in one engagement, commanded by General Sullivan at Newtown, New York, on the 29th of August, 1779.

“We fought the Indians” and “went down and destroyed all the Indian towns.”

John spoke of his participation in the historic Battle of Newtown, also called the Battle of Chemung, the only major battle of the Sullivan Expedition, the armed offensive commissioned by George Washington and the Continental Congress, to end the threat of the Iroquois who had sided with the British. On the 3rd of July, the year prior, 1778, British Loyalists and Iroquois raiders massacred more than 300 American Patriots in the Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania, in what is known as the Wyoming Massacre. Settlers claim the raiders hunted and killed fleeing patriots, even torturing dozens who surrendered, to death. It was reported that 227 scalps were collected.

Sullivan’s army consisting of 3,200 Continental regulars, two companies of militia, and 10 brass field pieces, was sent to rid the region of these hostiles. They faced a militia of 200-250 men known as Butler’s Rangers, 15 regulars, and 1,000 Iroquois at Newtown, the remainder of the tribes having evacuated ahead of the massive assault. Eleven men from Sullivan’s army were killed and 32 more were wounded. Of the Iroquois and British, 17 were killed, 16 were injured, and two were captured, but nearly every Indian structure and crop in the region was destroyed and as a result, many Indians who remained starved to death that winter. The location of the battle was along the Chemung River, outside Elmira, New York. Today, it is the historic Newtown Battlefield State Park. Read General Van Cortlandt's gave his experience of Sullivan's Expedition in his autobiography, which can be found in Olde Ulster magazine, here. (To view more issues, click here).

In 1779, John removed to Sharon, Connecticut, and from there, in 1791 he moved to Milton, Saratoga County, New York. In 1801 he made his final move, to Northumberland, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, where he farmed his land until his death, which occurred on the 20th of January, 1835, at the age of 80. Lydia received $30 per year from her husband’s pension, until her death, which occurred five years after his, in November of 1840 in Northumberland, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania. The names of her parents (Mr. and Mrs. Thomas), have yet to be determined. (If anyone has information, please comment below!)

The children of John & Lydia Strong were listed in his 1832 pension request, shown here:

Source: Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files (NARA microfilm publication M804, 2,670 rolls). Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15. National Archives, Washington, D.C.


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