[ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT JOURNAL DESCRIBING JOHN LACEY, JR.'S 1773 EXPEDITION TO THE DELAWARE INDIANS, AND THE 1776 CANADIAN CAMPAIGN]
by Lacey, John, Jr.
[Pennsylvania, 1777. Two manuscript journals. ,pp., about 15,000 words in total. Written on laid paper with a large and unusual watermark depicting a Native American holding a staff. Written in a 12mo. notebook of contemporary plain paper wrappers entitled "Journals" in manuscript on front wrapper and "John Lacey's Journal" in manuscript on first leaf. Front wrapper and first gathering of text neatly detached, several leaves loosening. Text toned. Several instances of cross-outs and corrections in the text. Occasional staining, one leaf torn in bottom edge affecting a few words, but in very nice original condition. In a half morocco box. A remarkable American Revolutionary manuscript describing John Lacey, Jr.'s participation in the 1776 Canadian Campaign, in which he served under Anthony Wayne and clashed many times with that famous figure. Especially noteworthy are Lacey's descriptions of the poor physical condition of the soldiers of the Continental Army during their retreat from Canada, the illness and death that ran rampant through the camps, and the deplorable state of their supplies and provisions. Lacey's Revolutionary War journal is preceded by his description of his 1773 Quaker missionary expedition to the Delaware Indians and his interactions with the Indians in the Ohio country, including the important Chief Logan. The two manuscript accounts are contained in a contemporary notebook and appear to have been written shortly after the Lacey's 1776 resignation from the Continental Army but before he rejoined the army in 1777. Lacey very well may have wanted to record his 1776 experiences and his clashes with Anthony Wayne, while the events were still fresh in his mind. A version of Lacey's memoirs were published in 1901, but the published account differs in several respects from the present manuscript. John Lacey, Jr. (1755-1814) was from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. While still a teenager, in 1773 he accompanied his uncle, a Quaker minister, on a missionary visit to the Delaware Indians (see below). Despite his Quaker pacifist religious beliefs, he became captain of a company of Pennsylvania Associators in August 1775. In January 1776 he was commissioned a captain in the Continental Army as an officer in the 4th Pennsylvania Battalion under Col. Anthony Wayne. He served under Wayne in the ill-fated Canadian Campaign, engaging in a bitter feud with Wayne until resigning in November 1776. In March 1777, Lacey accepted the office of sub- lieutenant for Bucks County with the rank of lieutenant colonel, taking command of the 4th Battalion of Bucks County militia in May 1777. On Jan. 9, 1778, Lacey was appointed a brigadier general in command of the Pennsylvania militia, temporarily replacing Brig. Gen. James Potter. Potter returned to his command in 1778, displacing Lacey, but Lacey continued in service as a brigadier general of Pennsylvania militia at least until October 1781. Note that in the following excerpts from Lacey's journal, spelling errors in the original have been corrected. The first section here describes Lacey's remarkable 1773 journey to Ohio to accompany his elderly uncle, Quaker preacher Zebulon Heston (1702-76), on a missionary visit to the Delaware Indians. The journey of some two months began on July 7, 1773, and Lacey provides detailed information on their route, where they stayed along the way, and whom they encountered. After nine days they crossed the Allegheny Mountains, and on July 19 they arrived at Pittsburgh, where they met with the Delaware Chief, Captain White Eyes. "We had a conference with one Captain White Eyes a Delaware Chief who had been lately at Philadelphia. He expressed great satisfaction at our arrival and said he would go with us, but wanted to stay a few days to see Joseph Simons from Lancaster who was going to bring his goods from thence." White Eyes, however, had to remain in Pittsburgh longer than Heston and Lacey wanted, so they decided to meet up with Indian trader John Gibson and to have him guide them onward. [Gibson] "informed us that John Logan a Mingo Indian was lying opposite his house with an intention to kill him, as he had been creditably informed by a Shananey Indian and that a Delaware had given him the same information and had also come with him. He then got Kiasuta a Mingo Chief and Captain White Eyes together who agreed to go and see what was the matter with Logan and to pacify him and White Eyes informed Gibson in Indian he would attend us all the way to New comers town for he apprehended the behavior of Logan would make us afraid as he should be were he in our places." Logan was one of the most prominent Indian leaders of the Ohio Valley, and it appears that he blamed Gibson for giving the Indians alcohol, which resulted in the drowning death of a member of the tribe. Lacey records: "about eleven o'clock Logan, Kiasuta, Gerty and several Indians came over to Gibson's. Logan & Gibson soon began to talk very loud. Kiasuta and all the others stood round them with their tomahawks in their hands and tho Logan at times appeared in a great passion their difference was soon made up." The next morning they again encountered Logan who, now apparently more sober, "expressed great sorrow for what he had said yesterday and bid us go forward." Two days later they came to a Moravian Indian town on the Muskingum River where they met with the local chief, Kilbuck (i.e. Lenape/Delaware Chief Gelelemend), and were welcomed: "On the twenty-fifth our guides met us a little out of town in order to conduct us to the King. When we came before the King he received us with great kindness and declared he received us with love and friendship as great as our forefathers and theirs received one another and after giving us the welcome we were conducted to a house they had prepared for us where we were again welcomed....The twenty-sixth we breakfast with one John Freeman a trader and about ten o'clock Captain Kilbuck came and ordered the women to get us some victuals. In about two hours they brought us some hominy boiled in bears grease, boiled squashes, some milk and an Indian cake baked in the ashes. We were visited by the King, Thomas Mekec, the King's brother White Eyes, Kilbuck and Gibson with whom we had some conversation but not very material." While in the Indian village Lacey heard stories of fur trappers being attacked by Mingo Indians, but his reception is described as very warm and accommodating, and they held Quaker meetings with the tribal leaders: "On the twenty-eighth we had a middling large meeting. There were Zebulon Heston, John Parish, myself, Friends, Netowelemon King, Thomas Mekee, Kilbuck, White Eyes, Indians Chiefs, Samuel Moor interpreter Abraham Smalley and other Indians. John Parish read our certificates from the respective monthly meetings, also an epistle from the Meeting of Friends at Philadelphia which being interpreted to the Indians by the said Moor they expressed their satisfaction and said 'Kakeluh,' that is in English, very well. After which a meeting for divine worship was held in which the Indians behaved remarkably sober and attentive. When the meeting for worship was over Captain Kilbuck said if Friends would withdraw they would hold a Council & consider what answer to make, for Friends to take home with them on which we withdrew and went to our House." The reply of the Indians was quite favorable and indicated their willingness to accept the Quaker faith. Lacey records: "Captain White Eyes rose up and after receiving from the King a belt spoke thereon as follows. 'We are glad and rejoice in our thanks to see our Brothers the Quakers, standing & speaking before us, and that what you have said we believe to be right, and we heartily join in with it. Since our Saviour came a light into the world there has been a great stir among the people about religion, some are for one way & some for another. We have had offers of religion many times, but would not except of it, til we had seen our Brothers the Quakers, and hear what they would say to us. And now you have come and opened the road, and we have heard what you have said, and we have felt the grace that was in your hearts conveyed to us. We think that as we two Brothers the Quakers & Delawares were brought up together as the Children of one man, and that it is our Saviours will we should be of one religion. Now you have come and opened the road, we expect to see the way from town to town, quite over to the great King over the water. Then our King will know that the Quakers and Delawares are as one man and make one religion. We are poor & weak and not able to judge for our selves, and when we think of our Children it makes us sorry; we hope you will instruct us in the right way, both in things of this life as well as the world to come. Now what we have said we hope to be strengthened to abide by.' Then delivered the belt to Zebulon Heston." Lacey and Heston met with the Delaware over the next few days and in early August began their journey back to eastern Pennsylvania. He describes the trip, the Quaker meetings they attended over its course, and the country they crossed, writing, for example: "The uplands on the west side of the Ohio is not equal to the uplands on the East side, but the bottoms and on the sides of Creeks & Rivers almost surpasses belief for richness, some places on the hills abounds with freestone of the best quality." A couple days later, on Aug. 14: "we crossed the Monongahela and came to Braddock's Field of Battle which we viewed, saw but very few human bones." Lacey reached York, Pennsylvania on Sept. 9, left for Philadelphia the next day, "and on the 14 got home." The next two-thirds of the manuscript journal gives a long and detailed account of Lacey's first service in the Revolutionary War, beginning with his commission in early 1776 and his subsequent expulsion from the Quakers as a result of his taking up arms. He was first voted a captain of a local Bucks County volunteer militia which disbanded upon pressure from the Quakers. In January 1776 he was commissioned captain of the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment in the newly formed Continental Army, commanded by Anthony Wayne, with whom Lacey would have a complicated and tempestuous relationship, which is well described in this journal. In fact, early in this memoir Lacey writes that his assignment to Wayne's battalion had been "unhappily forced," and that despite his attempts to find another command, "all my endeavors proved ineffectual," after which Lacey writes (and then crosses out): "by some sinister views of Col. Wayne." Lacey would first come into conflict with Wayne over the payment of several citizens in Pennsylvania who had been underpaid by Wayne for the regiment's housing while en route to meet the army in New York. Lacey discovered Wayne put the blame for the dispute on Lacey himself, which sorely disappointed him: "this gave me great pain as I then plainly saw the manner the Colonel had imposed upon me, without being able to help myself, and that I had nothing favourable to expect from him whom I had placed my whole dependence upon." Lacey would return to Pennsylvania to settle the dispute, but upon his return found Wayne had sent his company to Albany in support of the Canadian invasion. Early on Lacey writes of the difficulty of enforcing order among the young and unruly troops under his command: "Twenty-eighth [March, 1776] arrived at New York almost wearied to death in keeping my company in order. I find that an officer who has young recruits to command might to act with prudence, and to be endowed with great fortitude. It was through difficulty I got them better regulated here, than it was possible to have them at Darby [Pennsylvania]." Lacey writes that he has heard reports that many of the men in his company are deserting, unhappy that they had been ordered to Canada without him. They had enlisted in order to serve with him, and he being absent "had deserted because I was not with them....In those circumstances how must a man feel, who has made it his only study to raise, discipline, and equip a company of men; and after all have them torn to pieces by the humours of others, such is my unhappy case." Eventually he appealed to his superiors, and Gen. Nathanael Greene reviewed his case and ordered him to rejoin his company rather than wait for their return, as Wayne would have preferred. Arriving in Albany in late April, Lacey found that company had already departed for Lake George, and he continued on in hopes of joining them. He describes the country around Lake George, through which he travelled: "they say in this lake is 365 islands representing the days of the year; the water is clear and wholesome. It is surrounded on all sides with horrid mountains. We arrived at the carrying place between Lake George & Lake Champlain in the dusk of the evening, where we stayed all night." Lacey finally joined his troops on April 30 near Crown Point. Shortly thereafter he received a reprimand from Wayne for disobeying his orders to remain near New York City. Lacey records the text of Wayne's message in this volume and notes: "here is a fresh proof, that Colo. Wayne was determined to do me all the ill he could; never have I yet rec'd. one favour from him but to the contrary, he has made it, by all appearances, his study to cross, perplex & disappoint me in almost every way, and this is a glaring instance after all the toil I had undergone to overtake a company I had spent so much care upon, for him arbitrarily to force them by his order, before my eyes, under the command of a fawning favourite, and a younger Captain, who had already drove eight or ten brave soldiers from the company; and had never added the value of three farthings to it. This is too much for mortals to bear." A few lines later Lacey writes even more harshly of Wayne, words which he subsequently crossed out in the text. Also described is Lacey's assignment to deliver messages to Benedict Arnold at Montreal, as he was ordered to do so by Gen. John Sullivan. He briefly describes the arduous journey to Montreal and records that on June 6 he: "...dined with General Arnold in Montreal and about four o'clock this afternoon with five men whom General Arnold had ordered to go with me, set off with express from him to General Sullivan. At the Sorrell, we got in a large canoe, on which we hoisted a blanket for a sail had a fair and easy wind til we came opposite Lapararee when the wind raising to such a degree that we had to steer for shore as fast as we could, which with difficulty we made, but had hardly time to get clear of the canoe before she sunk. We found a battau laying on the shore which we landed [?] and with great difficulty got her under way; the waves running like little mountains. Had it not been for the urgency of the Express I would never of trusted myself amongst them, in such a leaky and tottering vessel. Proceeded all this night down the Saint Lawrence which has but very little current, and contains a great many islands." Lacey goes on to describe some of the military skirmishes of the summer of 1776, the defeats suffered by the American troops, their retreat from the advancing British, and the actions of their commanders. By mid- June they had retreated to Ile aux Noix near Lake Champlain, and Lacey writes on the 19th: "this day the whole army arrived on this island. Eleven of our soldiers died this day, and two officers; had for their coffins only dirty blankets." Two days later, as the army began to depart Ile aux Noix, Lacey writes: "our men die here very fast every day. The whole army is infected with the smallpox, fluxes, fevers, and almost eat up with lice. On this island is a shocking scene, such as my eyes never til now beheld; and I pray may never again. Poor mortals laying on the ground covered with the smallpox, lice and maggots by thousands creeping over them, some a blanket to lay on, some none....Almost all the doctors out of medicines so, that little relief is to be expected for them, from that quarter. We were this day alarmed by the fire of some guns at a Canadian's house opposite the lower end of this island toward St. John's: where a party of the sixth Pens. Batt. officers was drinking some spruce beer, with the inhabitant were surprised by a party of Indians, who had been lurking in the woods, they took six of them prisoners, left four killed whom they had inhumanely scalped and barbarously tomahawked. Two only made their escape." In mid-July 1776, Lacey was ordered to lead some 150 men to Fort Ticonderoga, where many units of the Continental Army were gathering. He describes the scene: "On the 15th returned with the 6th Regiment to Ticonderoga. The New Jersey, New York, and New England troops encamped on the east side, and high point of land opposite the old fort of Ticonderoga, which they called Rattlesnake Hill, on account of the great number of that venomous serpent found there, on clearing the ground where they began to fortify and where they had pitched their tents. On the troops first taking possession, it was covered with thick underwood and timber growing on it. The Pennsyl. troops, composed of the first, second, fourth & sixth regiments, lay on a level piece of ground, on the back or north of the Fort, and large house, where Gen. Gates had his headquarters." Lacey goes on to relate the work undertaken to refortify Ticonderoga, as breastworks that had been last utilized during the French and Indian War were rebuilt, and he describes the daily drills undertaken by the troops in preparation for an anticipated British attack. He also gives an account of the sorry state of supplies and food for the army: "The meal of flour was hardly ground - it was what at my father's mill in Bucks County we called chopped....The pork had chiefly been taken from the neighborhood of Albany. The barrels in which it was packed became leaky by handling, had long lost the pickle and such of the pork that did not stink was so rusty it could not be eaten. The way it was cooked as I saw it, and had it done for my own eating - was, first to fry it in an iron pan, or vessel, so as to get all the fat or grease out of the meat, then throw it away, making the meal into a kind of batter, pouring it into the grease, after holding it over the fire a short time we had a very rich and eatable cake which served both for meat and bread. We had chocolate, tea, & some coffee, we sweetened with maple sugar. This would have done very well if we could but procure enough of it, for we seldom drew more than half the ration, and often times not a third. As to fresh meat, I don't recollect seeing any." Interestingly, Lacey also records the reception of the recent news of the Continental Congress' Declaration of Independence: "Col. Johnston brought with him the Declaration of Congress of the Independence of America. It made a little buzz, but was soon forgotten. No particular notice was taken of it." By mid-July, Lacey's frustrations with Wayne's seemingly capricious decisions had led him to decide to resign his commission, only to be rebuffed by other commanders. The text concludes with further descriptions of the poor relations between Lacey and Wayne, particularly with Lacey's recounting of his detainment by Wayne after comments about Wayne were overheard while several men drank in Lacey's tent. Lacey closed the 1776 campaign at Fort Ticonderoga and was sent back to Pennsylvania by Wayne in order to recruit more soldiers into the 4th Pennsylvania. He ultimately used this as an opportunity to resign his commission. He would fight as a volunteer in the Battle of Germantown before re-enlisting and being commissioned brigadier general in January 1778, where he was instrumental in the protection of Washington's depleted troops at Valley Forge. A remarkably rich narrative by a major Revolutionary War figure, describing his pre-war Quaker mission to the Delaware Indians, his thrilling experiences taking part in the Canadian Campaign of 1776, and his very contentious relationship with Anthony Wayne.
(Inventory #: WRCAM48377)
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