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Harmonus Dumond
Letters and Affivavits Relative to the Killing of Harmonus Dumond, 26 August 1778


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Letters and Affivavits Relative to the Killing of Harmonus Dumond, 26 August 1778

As I observed, on the homepage, most published accounts of the killing of Harmonus Dumond on 26 August 1778 suggest that it was an "unfortunate case of mistaken identity." It

John Barrow probably gives the most accurate account of what happened, and what he and Harmonus thought at the time, since they were together when they were stopped and questioned. And, he apparently witnessed the shooting of Harmonus, as they were trying to get away from their captors whom they both took "to be Tories," who "were told they should be sent to Butler." The only men named Butler that they were aware of were the Tories, John and Walter Butler. The document below is a photograph of the actual affidavit of John Barrow (Burrows) which was forwarded in the letter of William Butler to George Washington. To view a readable copy of this document click on "John Barrow Affidavit, 5 September, 1778, above.


George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 4. General Correspondence. 1697-1799, John Barrow, September 5, 1778, Affidavit.


[Transcribed from original document by Robert A. Rowe]

John Barrow of full Age being Duly sworn, Saith that on Monday of the

To Poughataughen, to fetch down some of their Goods that was left behind when they

Moved Down, they expected to have gone with the Guard, that was to go frome Shendaken

but when they came to Shendaken, the Guard was gone, they followed on and met the

Guard, on their Return about five miles this side Paughataughen, the Guard refused

To turn back with them, Demon and this Deponent went on to Poughtaughen, loaded

Their Waggon that Evening (being 25) The next Morning very early set out in order to

Return, after going a little ways, they were met by a Party of Men, consisting of about

Thirty five as this Deponant thinks, they were both taken Prisoners, and put under a

Guard of three Men, and were told they should be sent to Butler; and this Deponant

Saith that Demon and himself took the Partie to be Tories, and Demon told this Depo-

Nant, that he would rather Die than be Carried to Butler, and proposd to this Deponant

To make their Escape, which they did, and Demon was Shot down, as they were running

To make their Escape but he this Deponant got clear, and further saith Not.

John Barrow

Sworn before me this fifth day of Sept. 1778


[Note at bottom of page (Enclosed in 1778 SE 27 Butler)]


John Cantine wrote to Governor Clinton, on 4 September 1778:

"Marbletown 4th Sept. 1778

"Dear Sir, The misfortune of Harmanis Dumon's Death or Being Wounded, I Received the 28th Ultomo which was then Supposed to Be Done By the Enemy, whose Number was Computed (By those who Brought the Intelligence first) to Be about two Hundred, I immediately ordered the Detachment at Little Shandakan of Colo. Sneyder's Regim't to Joyn those at great Shandakan, Being one Company of about fifty men of Colo. Hasbrouck's Regim't and forty out of my own, which whould have made a Body of aboutg one Hundred and thirty men, But the time of Colo. Hasbrouck's men was Just Exspired and those who where to Releif them not yet Come, which freequently is the Case, with those Releifs. So that, all the men on those two posts Could muster But about Seventy or Eighty men, with which I Intended to have marched Immediately to Packatackan, But those of my own Regim't, Colo. Sneyder's Not Being Come, On account of Not haveing a Suffitient Supply of provision Ready, (as they Say). I then was oblidged to send for them a Second time, on which they Immediately Came. I, previous to this, had Sent three men as Spies to that place, who were to meet me four mile from Packatackan. Next morning I proceeded on my way, Came there about four o'Clock in the after Noon with Seventy men with me, Buried Dumon that afternoon, who was Dyed the Night after he was Shot, and By the Best Information I Could git he had Been Shot By our own gaurd from Scohary; there were two men Belonging to the gaurd who where know to Be the Sons, of a man who formerly teatched School at Packatackan, Since moveed to Scohary, and Belong Now to Harper's Rangers, as I have Been Informed by the people of Packatakan. After they had Shot Dumon and was Lying in his Bed, Some of them Said they had a mind to tomahack him; Stript him of his Shouse, Buckles, hat and Some other trifles. I Shall Not Inter Into the perticulars of the Behavour of that gaurd, as I have Directed those of the Inhabitants I Could Deprnd on, to go to Colo. Pawling and make affidavits thereof, who has promised me to transmit them to your Excellency as Soon as he Could Collect them together. I whould only mention that Dumon was & has Been the Cheif man we Depended on for Intelligence from that Quarter, and Petter Burger and Albartus Sluyter were Never known or held to Be Enemys to their Cuntry, who have Been Plundered by them of all ye whearing apparal Belonging to their families. I have Distroyed and Brought of all kind of provisions in that place, Leaving None of ye families or their affects, But ye aforesaid Sluyter and Burger and one Fradrick Kittle (with Bearly So much grain and milk Cattle as to maintain their families) they Solesited it as a favour of me, to Let them Stay. I told them I was willing to Do any thing for the good of their, But, that I Exspected that ye favour they askt whould prove their Ruin. Kittle has promised me to give Intelligenc if I Send to him persons who he Can Depend will Not Deceive him; the Scout I had to Papakton is Returned; they have Brought one Commans, who is a Commarade of Birch whome they Say they have wounded; Hendrick Bush they Happened to See on ye opposite Side of the River; they Endeavoured to make him Stand, But he Steping forward Behind a tree, Seven of them fired and Lodged Seven Balls in the tree he Stud Behind; the River their Being to Deep to waid, made His Escape Leaving his hat Behind him. Thay have Brought of Very Considerable of Sheeps, Hogs, and Cattle also a Quantity of Dears Leather; Destroyed all ye grain on the River for tweenty miles, Exceept Indian Corn (tho they where but thirteen In Number). I will Send a Scout to Destroy that as Soon as possible. There are Some who offer Vollenteryly to go to Aughquago. I whould Be glad to have your opinion wether advisable to Let them go.

I am with Esteem Dear Sir Your affectionate frind & Hum'e Ser't

John Cantine.

To his Excellency, Geo. Clinton


On September 8 Governor Clinton sent the following letter to Colonel William Butler, in which the Governor referrs to the killing as "murder":

"Poughkeepsie Sept'r 8th 1778

"Dear Sir, I have received your two Letters of the 13th & 31st Ultimo (both whic came to hand much about the same time) & thank you for the Intelligence they contain. In answer to that part of your Letter, which respects the Cattle bro't in by your Scouts I have to inform you that I am not authorized to make any Decision respecting them and altho' I agree with you, that the Troops should have all reasonable encouragem't given them for any extraordinary Exertion; yet I am not without my fears that a Reward arising in this way among the most virtuous Soldiery, might be productive of dangerous Consequences by lead'g them (on the principle of encreasing their Reward) to acts highly prejudicial to the well affected Inhabitants in preference to that of destroying the Enemies of the Country. By the Affidavits which I inclosed you in my Letter of the 6th Inst., w'th respect to the murder of Dumond & the plundering of several of the well affected Inhabitants who were removing with their Effects from the Delaware, I am confirmed in this Opinion. I do not however mean to disapprove of the mode you & the Commiss'rs have agreed upon of selling the Cattle & detain'g the monies aris'g from the sale until the Disposition thereof shall be properly determined.

I am more than ever convinced, that offensive Operations ag't the Savages & Tories is absolutely necessary, & could, therefore, have wished that the plan you proposed to Genl. Starke had been carried into execution, especially as (if I know the man) it must have been much better than any he can devise.

Some short time ago our Guards stationed on the Delaware in Ulster County destroyed the Grain &c. to prevent its falling into the hands of the Enemy, since which a small Party of Indians & Tories who stole past our Guards burnt 3 or 4 Houses & Barns near Rochester, killed two men & carried off another. I have received no Intelligence from the southern or eastern Quarter lately. I remain with great Esteem D'r Sir Your most Obed't Serv't

Geo: Clinton.


Colo. Butler


Unfortunately the affivavits of the "inhabitants [the Governor] could depend to go to Colo. Pawling" and make their testimony apparently missing, after the Governor sent them to William Butler. The only one surviving is that of Mrs. VanWaggenen, who, incidentally, was Catherine Kittle, the daughter of Jeremiah Kittle and Eva Merkle. If you are tempted to question to honesty of testimony of one so close to Harmonus Dumond, then let the testimony of the Schoharie militia and Morgan's Rangers speak in their behalf.

We know that affidavits were sent by Pawling to the Governor on September 5th;

S'r. Inclos'd I Send your Excellency Some affidavits which points out that their has been a party of men from Schohary, to Poughkataken Killd Harmanus Dumon; Carry'd of a Number of Horses and Many other articles which are not Numerated in the affidavits; Dumon was the only Friend we had in that Settlement; he Continued Their as long as he Thought him Self and family Safe; at length thought him Self In danger, moved Down with his family, whent up with his waggon To fetch Some things he had left, was killd by Men who have acted with the greatest Imprudence." (Levi Pawling to George Clinton, No. 1733, vol. III, p. 738)

The Governor sent the affidavits off to "Colo. Wm. Butler Com'g at Schohary" with the following letter:

"Poughkeepsie 6th Sep'r 1778

"Dear Sir, By a Number of Affidavits which will be handed to you by the Bearer you will learn that Hamanus Dumond, late an Inhabitant of Poughetaghten on the Delaware, was lately cruely murdered by a Party of Men supposed to be from the Neighbourhood of Schohary under the Command of Colo. Harper. What adds to the Cruelty of the transaction, is that Dumond had for some Time Passt remained at his Habitation at Poughataghten at the Request of Colo. Cantine, who commands the Militia in actual service on the Frontiers of Ulster and Orange Counties for the Purpose of acquiring & transmitting his Intelligence which he had friequently done. But the Danger increasing in that Quarter, he was now moving into the securer Settlements with his Effects, of which the Party who Shot & plundered him, after he was mortally wounded, even of his wearing apparel, was informed & coud not doubt. You will also perceive by the Affidavits, that several other of the well disposed Inhabitants were plundered of their Effects by the Party. Placing the greatest Confidence in you & considering you as immediately Commanding the Militia in actual Service in your Quarter, I have, therefore, to request that you will cause the Effects of Dumond & the other Persons who were plundered by the above Party, to be restored to the Bearer, for the use of the owners, and that you will deliver the Delinquents over to the Civil Authority to be dealt with according to their Crimes. I am Sir with great Respect Your most Obed't Serv't. [G.C.] Colo. Wm. Butler Com'g at Schohary."

(pp. 739-740)

For a rebuttal to the Governor's charges and demands, and in response to the affivavits of the eyewitnesses from Pakatakan, the Schohary men swore their own affidavits, while, somehow losing those forwarded by the Governor.

Monroe, in his DELAWARE COUNTY HISTORY (the only source, other than Clinton's Papers, to get the story straight) reconstructs the defendant's affivavits in a conversational manner, starting with Captain Alexander Harper. Monroe puts it this way:

"Alexander Harper was a brother of Col. John Harper of Harpersfield, and achieved some fame for himself when he was later capture by Brant and is said to have deceived his captor into the belief that the Schoharie forts were well manned at the time. The mixed troops Schoharie [militia and Riflemen] reached Pakatakan on Wednesday, August 26th, and there, according to Major Posey, acted 'as being in an enemies Country.' The first house they came to was vacant. The second house, that of Simeon VanWaggenen at Arkville, was occupied by women. There Captain Harper, according to his own affidavit, after charges had been made against him, examined Mrs. VanWaggenen:

"I asked the Woman of the House if She was as Great a Tory as She Us'd to be, She Answer'd she was not a Tory, and if I Did not believe her, I might Enquire of Hermanus Demong who was a Tory."

The question Harper says he posed to Mrs. VanWaggenen strikes me as an odd way of questioning someone you expect is a Tory. And what does it mean that: "I might Enquire of Hermanus Demong who was a Tory."

Major Thomas Posey, who was also involved in charges of misconduct, and has apparently read the affidavits (the affidavits of these troops were forwarded to the Governor on September 16th) gives a different account, saying that it was he who questioned the women, and they gave the same story that Mrs. VanWaggenen gave in her affidavit. Posey says:

"I made a Halt for some short time & inquired of the Women what had Become of the People; they told me there had been a Scout which had taken them and what Stock they had into the Settlement."

Neither Harper of Posey indicate that Dumond and Burrow arrived outside while one or the other was questioning Mrs. VanWaggenen, as she clearly states: "After a little time a waggon was heard. They askt her who that was with the waggon She told them it was Hermanus Demun and John Barrow, who was come up in order to fetch some of their goods, that Dumun had moved down with his family the week before. By this time the waggon was at the house. Dumun was stop'd and the horses taken out of the waggon. Duman and Barrow put on one of the Horses, and so went away with them."

Posey says: I did not take up much time Questioning the Women But march'd on & within the distance of Half a mile in a piece of Woods met two men, one driving a Waggon, the other Riding on Horse Back & leading another Horse with a Gun Slung to his Back. I Halted my Party & upon examination found the man with the Waggon to be Demon."

Harper also says: "We then Proceeded about half a Mile, when we met said Demong with his Waggon and horses, and another Man with Two Horses..."

I'm at a loss to know why neither of these men would not indicate that Dumond and Burrow rode up to the house while they were still there. If their statements are correct, then how would Mrs. VanWaggenen know that Dumond and Burrow had been ordered to dismount and re-mount on one horse, if this took place about a half mile down the road, "in a piece of wood"?

At any rate, they were taken down the road -- maybe to be out of site for the women, where they apparently questioned their captives (but, apparently, not out of the sight of Peter Hendricks who saw Harmonus Dumond get shot in the Belly).

Whatever their twisted logic, Posey and Harper apparently switched from representing themselves as "Patriots" or "rebels" or "whigs" as they did with Mrs. VanWaggenen, and questioned Dumond and Burrow in such a way as to be seen as "Tories" or "King's men."

Major Posey states in his deposition, that after he questioned Harmonus about where he was going with his wagon:

"I ask'd him if there had been any Scouting parties from Unandilla lately or whether Butler & Brandt frequently sent Scouting Parties into the Settlement; hesaid they had sent Scouting Parties at different times; I as'd him (th said Demon) whether he had assisted the Enemy; he answered he had Assisted His King in whatever he was able to do, he had given them Beef, Cattle and such Assistance as he cou'd from time to time. After I had ask'd him such Questions as I thought proper, I ordered Capt'n Harper of the militia to set three of his men as a Guard over Demon and the man who was with him, who I understand is one Burrow."

Alexander Harper's, who, apparently, believed that the statement he said he had elicited from Mrs. VanWaggenen: that "he should ask Dumond who was a Tory" would help convince others that Dumond was, indeed, a Tory, so he states that when he came up to Dumond he asked him directly:

Harper: "Are you as Good a Man for the King as you Used to be?"

To which, he says, Dumond, supposidly, answered: "Yes."

Harper: "What did you ever do for the King, and how many Cattle Did you give to Brant's Party?"

Dumond: "I gave four Cattle and Supply'd them with all the Provisions that lay in my Power."

Harper: "Will you supply them with any more?"

Dumond: "I would but the Rebels have Carried them all to Esopus with my family."

Harper: "I think you look like a Rebel and I believe you are one."

Dumond: "No by God I am no Rebel."

"I then asked the Man that was with him how Many Cattle he had given to Brant, he said One. I believe you are a Churlish fellow for not giving more; he Reply'd it was all he had excepting one Milks Cow."

I think this statement by Harper to Burrow "lets the cat out of the bag" (as we used to say, when someone accidentally revealed the truth, which they were trying to hide). Why would he call Burrow a "Churlish fellow" -- a "cheap-skate" or "miser," or "stingy," for not giving more to the Tories, unless he was trying to represent himself to be a Tory, himself.

Harper and Posey had access to the affidavits of the Pakatakan residents, and knew they had complained about being robbed. Harper tries to cover that base as well.

Who was it who robbed the dying Dumond?

The only one who admitted returning was Posey, and he didn't say he was sorry