It was about 4:00 p.m. on July 3rd of 1778 when one of the bloodiest battles of the revolutionary war took place in the Wyoming Valley Of Pennsylvania. The fighting is said to have lasted no more than forty five minutes to one hour.
340 patriots were killed during the battle of Wyoming. The British along with colonists that were loyal to the Crown and over 500 Senecas tribal members, led by Colonel John Butler, marched into Wyoming Valley on June 30th. They were demanding that the patriots surrender the forts that were manned by the militias. In exchange they would be allowed to live as long as they did not pick up arms against Britain again.
The alliance of the loyalists and the Senecas produced a force of well over 1000 soldiers and Senecas to go up against approximately 400 to 500 revolutionary fighters. This battle has often been referred to as the Wyoming massacre due to the overwhelming numbers of the loyalists and their allies and of the many records that indicate that many of the militia were tortured and scalped. Colonel John Butler has claimed in his journal that 227 patriot scalps were taken during this bloody battle.
Colonel John Butler fought against the loyalists on this day. Colonel Zebulon Butler, who was on leave as an officer of the Continental Army, would be first in command of the small army of militia men that were trying to hold the valley. His second in command was Colonel Nathan Dennison. Both men were to be among the few who survived the battle of Wyoming. There were only 174 of the patriots known to be alive after the short but fierce fighting came to an end. Many were missing and presumed drowned when retreating into a swamp area.
In Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, there is a monument that marks the grave site of those who were killed during the infamous battle of Wyoming. Each year a commemorative ceremony is held at the site.