The Sullivan-Clinton campaign changed the course of fighting across New York and Pennsylvania's frontier. It broke the momentum of the British, the Loyalists, and their Native American allies. Their raids and attacks destroyed American settlements, and created a frustration for the Continental Army and government. Continental militia also participated in attacks on civilian settlements. Van Shaick's massacre of women and children at numerous Onondaga villages was the most horrendous of these attacks (Graymont 1972:196). The fighting before the Sullivan-Clinton campaign was based on a frontier style of warfare that lacked uniform linear troop formations, standardized uniforms and weapons, and formal military training. Since the fighting tactics were based on ambushes and raids, small numbers of troops were all that was needed for success.
Sullivan and Clinton's march across New York changed this form of warfare with the addition of new strategies and troops. By bringing in a large number of trained and disciplined troops, the Continental Army made the British forces' ambush tactics less effective. Sullivan's scorched earth campaign rose combat to a scale that the Loyalists and Native American warriors could not match. Prior to the campaign, they could conduct a raid and recuperate for weeks or months before the next attack. Sullivan and Clinton's forces continued forward without respite from July to September 1779. The British had already been poorly supplying the Loyalists and their Native American allies; the campaign further limited their supply lines (Graymont 1972; Williams 2005).
At Newtown, there was a push to make a major stand to defend the homelands of the Native Americans and stop the advancing forces. Major John Butler felt the need to comply despite his concern on the terrain's ability to make a successful defense.
"The Delawares had pointed out a place they said the enemy ought to be opposed, & the Senecas & others in consequence of this were determined to meet them in a body, & I of course was obliged to comply..." Lt. Col. John Butler (Flick 1929a: 282)
This location chosen was the village of Newtown in the Chemung Valley. The landscape offered the potential for establishing an effective ambush site. The path was sided by a steep hill, the Chemung River, and assorted glacial ridges and a swamp. The British force's recurring strategy to lure the enemy into an ambush seemed promising as the Continental's would be forced into a bounded terrain and easily encircled. The archeological research presented in this report helps to show how this strategy failed for the British forces.
PAF archeologists and their collaborators conducted a metal detector survey and test unit excavations across the Newtown Battlefield's defining features. The survey areas coincided with portions of the battlefield's core area. Field survey of the core area was used to recover data to address research questions related to the movement of troops across the battlefield and the integrity of the battlefield's defining features. The archeological field survey was informed by PAF's previous historical study of the Battle of Newtown (Public Archaeology Facility 2010).
The survey resulted in the recovery of battle related items and other historic materials. Field crews recovered 17 battle related artifacts, mostly lead balls. Buttons, buckles, and personal items were also recovered, but could not be definitely associated with the battle. Archeologists also recovered materials from the 19th and 20th centuries, but did not evaluate them for this study.
The spatial analysis of battle related materials, specifically the lead balls and buckshot, aided in the identification of firing lines [text deleted]. Field crews did not recover any musket balls, but did identify rifle balls and buckshot based on the sizes of the lead balls. Rifles provided improved accuracy over a longer distance than muskets. It appears that British forces made use of rifles, which differed from the standard Brown Bess musket supplied by the British. The landscape in this section of the battlefield [text deleted], required the use of rifles to offer effective fire against the enemy. The Continentals were able to use the landscape to their advantage subverting the British force's attempt at an ambush. Continentals were able to overpower the British forces with their numbers and use of the landscape and weaponry.
The archeological survey also provided a more detailed assessment of the battlefield's main defining features than the previous study (Public Archaeology Facility 2010). No major disturbances to the soils were identified in the survey areas. [text deleted] The data resulting from this project will inform a preservation plan for the battlefield's features and deposits.
Table 8. This page/map was intentionally deleted per the requirements of the Archaeological Resource Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 470hh) and its implementing regulations (49 FR 1027, Jan. 6, 1984).
9.1 Preservation Strategies
The main goal of this report was to acquire data to help assess the integrity of the Newtown Battlefields main defining features as well as to inform the development of a preservation plan for the battlefield. PAF crews and project researchers have acquired enough information to initiate discussions with landowners on strategies and priorities for the preservation of the main defining features of the battlefield. Discussions with landowners will be essential to achieve successful preservation of the battlefield. PAF's efforts in the Newtown Archaeological project have developed and increased the interest landowners have in the history of the Battle of Newtown. Researchers' continued engagement with landowners during field research and public presentations has also stressed the needs and means for preservation. Landowners are receptive and supportive of a preservation initiative for the battlefield.
At this time, the preservation strategy will encompass two scales: local and national. On the local scale, project team members will formally present the results of the Newtown Battlefield archeological research. Crew members have kept landowners up to date on results informally in conversation. With the completion of analyses, the team can present a more developed understanding of the findings. [text deleted].
On a national level, project members will keep landowners apprised on changes to legislation that could provide options for long term preservation of the battlefield. The long term strategy includes placing their farms into trusts or selling their properties to private organizations, such as the Archaeological Conservancy, or to government agencies, both Federal and state. Two federal bills related to the Newtown Battlefield's preservation are currently under discussion. The American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act of 2011 (H.R. 2489/ S. 779) bill would allow the American Battlefield Protection Program to use funds to acquire properties associated with the Revolutionary War. The Newtown Battlefield Special Resource Study Act (H.R. 3031/ S. 1482) would initiate a study into the possible development of a Newtown Battlefield National Park. Both acts of legislation would directly affect the long term preservation of the Newtown Battlefield. Landowners may not continue to keep informed on the resolution of these bills, and so team members will keep them updated on the results of the legislation and what options these bills provide to landowners.