The Battle of New Dorlach, Tryon County
July 10, 1781

Now known as Sharon Springs, Schoharie County
by James F. Morrison

On July 9. 1781, a party of Indians and Loyalist numbering about 300 under the command of Lieutenant John Dockstader(l) entered the Currytown settlement(2). It was about ten in the morning and most of the settlers were busy in their fields.

Jacob Dieffendorf Sr. and his two sons. Frederick and Jacob, Jr. were at work in one of their fields were surprised. Jacob Sr. and Frederick made an attempt to rea ch Fort Lewis(3) but Frederick was overtaken and tomahawked, scalped and left for dead (Jacob Sr. escaped). Jacob Jr. was captured along with Andrew Bellinger, and Mary Hiller. Philip Bellinger Jr., Jacob Moyer and his father, who had been cutting trees, were killed.

That same morning Colonel Marinus Willett dispatched Captain Lawrance Gross with thirty-five men to scout the New.Dorlach(4) and Bowman's Creek area. Shortly afterwards Colonel Willett saw smoke coming from the. Currytown area and dispatched Captain Robert McKean with sixteen men to go to Currytown to investigate the cause of the smoke and ' to collect all the men possible on the way. They arrived at Currytown in time only to put the fires out.

Captain Gross with his party came across Lieutenant Dockstader's trail and sent two men to follow their trail. Captain Gross with the rest of his men would wait at Bowman's Creek for the two scouts to return. The two scouts followed the trail for about a mile when they came upon the enemy encampment. They approached as close as safety would allow and saw a large number of packs and a few Indians cooking food for the return of the main-party. The two scouts returned to Bowman's Creek to give a report to Captain Gross. Captain Gross sent John Young and another man to Fort Rensselaer(5) to report to Colonel Willet what they had discovered and that he would. wait at Bowman's Creek.

Colonel Willett on receiving the report he sent a message to Lieutenant-Colonel Volkert Veeder to gather as many men he could and march with all speed to Currytown. Colonel Willett at the same time took what men that could be spared from Fort Rensselaer and what militia he had gathered and set out-for Bowman's Creek. When he passed Fort Clyde(6) He took what men that could be spared from that post. About midnight Colonel Willett joined forces with Captains Gross and McKean. Colonel Willett with his men set out for the enemy's camp and they arrived there about daylight(7).

The enemy were encamped in a cedar swamp near. the center of the present Town of Sharon Springs. The camp was on the highest ground in the swamp. On the south side was a ridge and by a circuitous routs' he reached that ridge. -he prepared an ambush to receive the enemy.

Colonel Willett sent Lieutenant Jacob Sammons with ten men over the ridge as a decoy to show themselves, fire on the enemy and retreat back to the main body. The trick worked and.the enemy picked up their weapons- and followed in pursuit. Sammons and his men were so hotly pursued that Willett's main body had to break from cover to rescue the retreating men Frederick Bellinger and Adam Kittle of the decoy detachment were killed during the retreat.

The yelling Indians and Loyalists were received with a deadly volley from behind trees and stumps. Then the enemy made a desperate rush on- the-right wing and would have succeeded if not for Captain McKean with his fifty men (which had been held in reserve) poured a deadly volley into them.

The battle lasted for an hour and a half. The enemy believing they had encountered a superior force made a hasty retreat. Captain McKean started in pursuit and- on giving a command he received two balls in the chest and he fell forward mortally wounded. Samuel, his son, ran to his aid and was shot in the mouth. The American force pursued only to the enemy's now deserted camp. They found the enemy had left most of their equipment and the plunder taken at Currytown.

The enemy had about fifty men killed (9) and wounded. Colonel Willett had five men killed and nine wounded. John Caspar Lerhri, Adam Kittle, Ebenezer McMicle and Frederick Bellinger are four of the five men killed. Captain Robert McKean was mortally wounded and died later that day on the way to Fort Rensselaer where he was buried in the soldiers cemetery near the fort. Samuel McKean was wounded in the mouth, Adam Strobeck was shot in. the hip; Jacob Radnour was shot in his right hip; George Dunckel was shot in the eye; Nicholas Yordan was shot in the right wrist; and Henry Pruyne was wounded in the arm.

On the enemy seeing Colonel Willett's eleven man detachment tomahawked and scalped all of the prisoners except for Andrew Bellinger, James Butterfield(10) and possibly two other persons which were taken to Canada. Lieutenant-Colonel Volkert Veeder arrived on the. field after the-battle was almost over with detachments from the lst, 2nd and 3rd Regiments of the Tryon County Militia and attended the task of gathering the wounded and burying the dead. Jacob Dieffendorf Jr. was one of the prisoners scalped and tomahawked was now gaining consciousness. As his face was covered with blood and leaves one of the militiamen mistook him for an Indian and levelled his musket to fire. Another militiaman on seeing that it wasn't an Indian knocked the musket barrel up and the shot went harmlessly into the air. The Miller girl was also found alive but she also died on the way back to Fort Rensselaer. Jacob and Frederick Dieffendorf were cared for by Doctor Johan George Vach and later recovered from their wounds.

1) John Dockstader according to his report was only a Lieutenant and died later on October 17, 1781 while accompanying another raiding party into the Mohawk Valley.
2) Lieutenant Dockstader arrived at Lake Otsego on July 7th and followed some tracks and later that day he caught up with James Butterfield near Cherry Valley and took him prisoner.
3) Fort Lewis was the home of Henry Lewis and around which was built a picket stockade.
4) New Dorlach is now, Sharon Springs and Town of Sharon area in Schoharie County.
5) Fort Plain was renamed in 1780 Fort Rensselaer after General Robert Van Rensselaer who was then in command of the post. All of the men who served there still called it Fort Plain and sometimes Colonel Willett in official letters would also date letters to Governor Clinton Fort Plain.
6) Fort Clyde was named after.Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Clyde who supervised its building. This site is on Route 163 in the Town of Minden and is marked with a New York State historical marker.
7) Colonel Willett had planned on arriving hours before daylight to set an ambush but due to the guide losing his way in the dark they arrived at daylight.
8) It was commonly called, Turlough or Dorlach and therefore referred to by those who fought there as Battle of Turlough. There is a New York State Historical marker on Route 20 to mark the battle site. I would also note that some local historians dispute the marked site and claim that it was at a different spot.
9) Colonel Willett claimed that he saw fifty of the enemy dead in one place but I think that was to large of a number and have therefore put fifty killed and wounded. Lieutenant Dockstader claims to have had only five of the Indians wounded and none killed.
10) James Butterfield in his pension Claim No. S44351, states that he was appointed Captain in I Willett's levies and was captured near Cherry Valley.


R11960 JACOB A. YOUNG - Capt Jost Dygert Company.

Col. Samuel Campbell's Regt., 77 years

town of Stark, Herkimer County Oct 1832

'deponant with the others were chosen by Col. Marinus Willett to spy out the enemys camp and found them posted at Sharon, then called Turlough in the County of Tryon, that meet the army after performing the duty on which they had been sent at a certain place which had been agreed on, that Col. Willett did not come upon the Enemy in time to Surprise them before day light,.and abandoned the project. that in the morning he sent Lieut Sammons with a small detachment for the purpose of drawing out the enemy in pursuit while the rest of the men were divided in two lines nearly parallel in the woods sufficiently distant to receive the enemy in the Middle. That the Lieut-suceeding in part .in decoying then into the ambushcade prepared for them by Col Willett and the enemy were routed."



Capt. Jacob Gardinier's Company, Col. Frederick Visscher's Regt.

Glen, Montgomery 72 years, Sept 19, 1832

Arrived at Sharon just as the battle as over: This deponant and the rest of the Company assisted in taking care of the sick and brought one man who had been scalped, as far as Canajoharie.



Sept 14, 1832 Marcellus, Onondaga Co

Capt Jacob Gardinier's Company, Col. Frederick Visseher's Regt.

"While he and several others were on a scouting party they were attacked by the Indians and Tories and some British and taken Prisoners at Canajoharie in said County of Montgomery, and that the next day this party of the Enemy was attacked by Col Willetts men and they had a battle and that neither side suceeded in a victory but each receeded, that when the battle commenced all the Prisoners that were taken with him were killed excepting one Peter Quackenbush and himself and they were tied to a tree, and that after the battle the rope was put around their necks and they were led by the Indians to Fort Niagara.".



Danube, Herkimer Co., age 68 years

Capt Robert Yates Co., Col. Frederick Visschers Regt of Tryon County Militia

"When the Settlement was attacked by the India ns and deponant and a ' 11 his fathers family fled to the woods, they were pursued by the Indians who shot the brother of deponant dead by his side but deponant ran and escaped - the Indians took deponants Mother and Sister and two of his brothers prisoners. his Mother and Sister, they were liberated but took one of his brothers to Canada, the other was Killed in a battle The I ndians had a few days after he was taken with the militia."



Col. Jacob Klock's R*qt.

Sept 19, 1831 age 73 years

ln the year 176i he went in aid of Colonel Willett to Turlock in Schoharie County but arrived after the Battle was fought when I with others finding found a young man by the name of Diefendorf who was scalped and that him and those who were with him returned with Diefendorf."



Col. Samuel Campbell's Regt.

Town of Root, Montgomery Co

March 7, 1835 83 years

this deponant further says that during said war he was on one occasion ordered out to go to furlough (now called Sharon in Schoharie County) that deponant went there under 'the Command of said Lieutenant Van Evera and that deponant arrived there just before the Commencement of the- Battle fought at that place and :was engaged in the same and that one Frederick Bellinger was killed directly in front-of deponant an well as many others that deponant did not know and that the Americans suceded in defeating the enemy in @said battle - that deponant was an entire stranger to all the other officers who were engaged in said: battle and does not now remember the name of any of them, that deponant was engaged in the service at this time but one day and part of one night for deponant returned home immediately after said battle, and that the distance from where deponant resided at this time to where said battle was fought was about twelve miles."


S14453 HENRY SHULTS July 6, 1833 Palatine, Montgomery Co. 82 years Capt. Henry Hiller, Col. Jacob Klock's Regt.

Was called out to Join Col. Willett to take Battle at Turlough now Town of Sharon County of Schoharie but not in time. Battle had Emediently previous to our Militia arriving, there putting the Enemy to flight leaving their encampment finding a Number of dead bodies. One young boy by the name of Diefendorff his scalp taken off but living, and taken a long on our return."



the enemy lay at Turlock in the town of Sharon in Schoharie County and Col Willett ordered out his forces and marched for that place passed through Canajoharie and up Bowman's Creek and onto 'Turlock and then an engagement took place between the Americans and British in which the Americans suceeded. The principle part of the British forces were Indians and Tories but does not recollect who commanded them, But Col. Willett Commanded the Americans, Captain McKene, an American officer was killed and his son was shot in the mouth which Knocked out a part of his teeth."


Cruikshank, Ernest A. The Story of Butler's Rangers, 1893
Greene, Nelson. History of the Mohawk Valley S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago 1925, Volume 2.
Simms. Jeptha R. The Frontiersmen of New York George C. Riggs, New York, 1881, Volume 2.
Thomas, Howard. Marinus Willett Prospect Books, New York, 1954
Willett, William H. A Narrative of the Military Actions of Colonel Marinus Willett. G. & C. & H. Cavill New York, 1831

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