Mar 1780 Indian raiding parties.
During the spring of 1780, Indian war parties were constantly leaving Fort Niagara for the frontiers of New York, Pennsylvania, and as far south as Virginia. The raiding parties ranged in size from six to seventy-five men. Returning to Fort Niagara, the parties brought in prisoners, livestock, and reports of settlers killed and barns burned.
Sources: Barbara Graymont, The Iroquois in the American Revolution.
Gavin K. Watt, The Burning of the Valleys.
April 7, 1780 Harpersfield attacked.
A detachment of Rebel militia under the command of Captain Alexander Harper traveled from Schoharie to Harpersfield (some thirty miles). Their purpose was to gather sap and produce maple syrup/sugar to supplement the meager food supplies at the Schoharie forts. While gathering the sap, the men were surprised by a war party led by the Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant. Three of the Rebels were killed and eleven taken prisoner including Capt. Harper.
One of the prisoners, Freegift Patchin, later related the story of their capture and travails as prisoners. He mentioned one Loyalist, a Mr. Beacraft, who threatened to kill them right after their capture. Patchin also remembered a confrontation between Capt. Harper and Joseph Brant. Brant was about to tomahawk Harper when, instead, he decided to question Harper about the Schoharie forts. Harper assumed Brant was on his way to attack the settlements and forts on the Schoharie Kill (Creek). When Brant asked him if there were Continental soldiers around, Harper replied that three hundred Continentals had just arrived to defend the forts. It was a lie, but Brant believed Harper and the war party with their prisoners departed for Fort Niagara.
Had Harper not been able to convince Brant to not attack Schoharie, the number of prisoners heading for Fort Niagara would have been much greater than eleven.
Sources: Edward Hagan, War in Schohary.
Isabel Kelsay, Joseph Brant: Man of Two Worlds.
Josiah Priest, The Captivity and Sufferings of Gen. Freegift Patchin…