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Tuscarora Heroes Book

by Lee Simonson

The Tuscarora Heroes book tells the story of the brave actions of the Tuscarora men on December 19, 1813, during the British attack on Lewiston, NY, during the War of 1812.   It is available for $10 at DiCamillos Bakery in Lewiston, NY, or can be obtained for $12 (including postage) by calling the Lewiston Museum at 716-754-4214 and ordering by credit card over the phone.  It is also available in electronic format at


“Shocking beyond description.”

I never witnessed such a scene before and hope I shall not again.
     -- Charles Askin, Canadian citizen, 1813

They were stripped, scalped and had their hearts torn out.”
     -- Baltimore Weekly Register, Jan. 29, 1813

The British entered the house at Lewistown in which the sick soliders and wounded lay, and not withstanding all the entreaties, shrieks and cries of the helpless soliders, not a life was spared, and it is reported that the houses were all burned before they were all dead.
     -- Niles Weekly Register, Dec. 24, 1814

The sight we witnessed was shocking beyond description.  Our neighbors were seen lying dead in the fields and roads, some horribly cut and mangled with tomahawks, others eaten by the hogs, which were probably left for that purpose, as they were the only animals found alive.
     -- Portion of a Letter to the Editor from the
         Albany Argus, dated Buffalo, Dec. 26, 1813

The most savage cruelty was fiendishly enacted upon such as were unable to escape.  The sequel was but another scene of distress and affliction, transpiring in bloody tragedy.
     -- Chipman P. Turner, Dark Days on the
         Frontier of Western New York, 1879

The citizens about Lewiston escaped by the Ridge Road, all going the one road on foot -- old and young, men, women, and children flying from their beds, some not more than half dressed, without shoes or stockings, together with men on horseback, wagons, carts, sleighs and sleds overturning and crushing each other, stimulated by the horrid yells of the 900 savages on the pursuit, which lasted eight miles, formed a scene awful and terrific in the extreme.
     -- Jonas Harrison, Lewiston resident
          Dec. 24, 1813

Lewiston was sacked, plundered, and destroyed – made a perfect desolation.  Free course was given to the blood-thirsty Indians, and many innocent persons were butchered, and survivors were made to fly in terror through the deep snow to some forest shelter or remote cabin of a settler far beyond the invaders’ track.
     -- Benson Lossing, Pictorial Field Book of the War of 1812, 1869

“Tuscaroras to the rescue...”


Bravery brought a company of armed Tuscaroras to the rescue, led by war-chief orator Longboard, Col. Johnson, Ovid and Littlegreen.  They had heard the alarm and seen the torch, and fired a single volley which sufficiently surprised (the British and Mohawk natives) to cause a retreat and delay that furnished the inhabitants a few lucky minutes to escape from the blow of the tomahawk and thrust of the fatal knife.
       -- Chipman P. Turner, Dark Days on the
           Frontier of Western New York, 1879

It should be mentioned to the credit of a small band of Tuscarora Indians, that they effectually aided the flight of the citizens of Lewiston.
        -- O. Turner, Pioneer History of WNY, 1850

Tuscaroras stood their ground long enough to allow the rest of the American force to escape.  While the main body of Tuscaroras held their position, three warriors moved past the western tribesmen’s flank, blew a horn, and fooled their enemies into thinking they were being surrounded.
        -- Carl Benn, The Iroquois in the War of 1812, 1998

The Tuscarora Indians bravely repulsed a party of the enemy.
        -- National Intelligencer, Washington DC, January 4, 1814

The overwhelming massacre was prevented by the appearance of Chief Longboard and his company.  Their war whoop caused the attacking force to take at once to flight.
         -- New York Times, April 8, 1883

It is evident that the timely intervention of the Tuscarora Indians, saved great slaughter of men, women and children among the white people.  In every instance when the United States was in trouble, the Tuscaroras were ever ready to sacrifice their blood upon the American altar.
          -- Tuscarora Chief Elias Johnson, 1881

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