May 21, 1780 Sir John Johnson’s first raid on Mohawk River area.
In mid-March, a Loyalist scout returned to Quebec from the Mohawk Valley. He informed Governor-General Haldimand and Sir John Johnson that the Rebels were forcing men of military age to serve in units for home defense. Any who refused such service would be considered Tories, sent to prison, and their property confiscated.
Haldimand was upset by the persecution and suggested Sir John put together a small force to lead these Loyalists up the Champlain Valley to Quebec. Sir John agreed with Haldimand, but suggested they also use this opportunity to strike a blow at the Rebels. Final plans called for Johnson to lead a force of 528 whites and Indians into the Mohawk Valley. Rebel spies heard of the plan, but couldn’t determine when this raid would take place or the route the invaders planned to use.
Using Lake Champlain and then marching southwest from Crown Point, Johnson’s force entered the Scottish Settlement just north of Johnstown on May 21st. His force killed a number of prominent Rebels in the area and burnt their homes. Caughnawaga (near present day Fonda) was burned. In total, some 120 barns, mills, and houses were destroyed on the north side of the Mohawk River. Johnson gathered 143 Loyalists, including some women and children and thirty African slaves for the trek back to Quebec.
The Rebels mustered Continentals and militia to pursue Johnson’s force. However, a rumor was spread that the Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant was going to strike the south side of the river. This drew a good number of the Rebels away from the pursuit of Johnson. Johnson and the Loyalists he had collected make it to Lake Champlain and then to Quebec.
Sources: Isabel Kelsay, Joseph Brant: Man of Two Worlds.
Gavin K. Watt, The Burning of the Valleys.