Sunday, August 29, 1779, is the date of the battle of Chemung, or of Newtown as it has been indifferently called since. Its scene was at the foot of the eminence now known as “Sullivan Hill,” about half way between the little hamlet of “Lowman’s,” on the line of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, and the mouth of Seeley Creek. The surface of the hillside is very irregular, being cut up by those peculiar ridges, to which I have heretofore referred, called the “Hogbacks.” At its foot flows Baldwin Creek. Our troops began their march on that hot August Sunday morning with extreme care and watchfulness. Their path was through a forest of pines and a thick growth of scrub oak.
The fortifications of the enemy were discovered after a march of about four miles, and about 11 o’clock in the morning. They were very artfully constructed, being built in most places breast high or more, in others lower, and pits or holes were dug where the defenders could be protected. The whole work was masked by the slope of the ridge, being thickly set with scrub oaks cut the night before from the hillside. Somewhat in front of the fortifications were one or two log houses, which served as bastions.
Map of The Battlefield of Newtown
1. Position of the brigades of Generals Clinton and Poorbefore the advance. 2. Position of Proctor’s artillery. Maxwell’s reserve, anclColonel Ogden’s command. 3. Position of Colonel Ogden’s troops and GeneralHand’s brigade in the advance. 4. The forces of Generals Clinton and Poor inaction after the advance as shown by the dotted lines and arrow; also the positionof the enemy. 5. Direction taken by the enemy in retreating. 6. Site ofthe monument 7. The monument.
It would seem that the enemy, considering that their fortifications were perfectly concealed, expected our forces to follow the Indian trail, which was at the right of their defenses. They would open upon them on our flank a sudden and severe fire, which would create confusion at first and result in disaster to our troops. But the reckoning was not wise. General Sullivan did not fall into the well-laid trap. When the advance guard had discovered the enemy’s position a council of officers was called, the ground was well looked over, and a plan of attack was agreed upon. It was most successful in its execution.
During this time the riflemen who were in the advance guard had kept the enemy busy. They formed within 300 yards of the fortifications, and were ordered to hold their position until the remainder of the brigade should come up. This order was hardly given when some 400 of the enemy advanced from the entrenchments, delivered their fire, and quickly retreated to their works. This sortie was repeated several times, evidently for the purpose of enticing our men into their lines. But it failed of its purpose, the riflemen simply holding their position as they were ordered to do. The battle was won by a flank movement.
General John Sullivan and General James Clinton Plaque
Our County and its People, A History Of The Valley And County Of Chemung from the Closing Years of the Eighteenth Century by Ausburn Towner in the New York County Histories section of American County Histories.