Pennsylvania: Hungry Hill

After what was dubbed the Wyoming Valley Massacre on July 3rd of 1778, George Washington responded by ordering General John Sullivan and an army of 2500 men to annihilate the threat of Iroquois and Tories. The Wyoming Valley Massacre was led by John Butler who with a band of Iroquois raiders and British loyalists slaughtered more than 300 settlers in the Wyoming Valley area. This assault on the frontier left the pioneers pleading for help. Hearing the pleas, Washington sent orders to John Sullivan on May 31st 1779 and the orders where simple and direct.

“The Expedition you are appointed to command is to be directed against the hostile tribes of the Six Nations of Indians, with their associates and adherents. The immediate objects are the total destruction and devastation of their settlements, and the capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex as possible. It will be essential to ruin their crops now in the ground and prevent their planting more. I would recommend, that some post in the center of the Indian Country, should be occupied with all expedition, with a sufficient quantity of provisions whence parties should be detached to lay waste all the settlements around, with instructions to do it in the most effectual manner, that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed. But you will not by any means listen to any overture of peace before the total ruinment of their settlements is effected. Our future security will be in their inability to injure us and in the terror with which the severity of the chastisement they receive will inspire them”

And the Sullivan Expedition began. Sullivan and his Troops marched from Easton, Pennsylvania heading northwest. By the end of the 1st night, the weary soldiers set up camp at Heller’s Tavern near Wind Gap, approximately 15 miles from there starting point. On the 2nd day, the men ventured over the blue mountain, hiking roughly 20miles, to settle at Larneds Tavern for the night, in what today is the town of Tannersville. Nearly 10 miles through the 3rd days march, Sullivan’s troops found themselves in dire conditions. Having very little food and supplies, they decided to camp on a small hill, which they mockingly deem ‘hungry hill‘.

General Sullivan sent solders to retrieve supplies from Fort Penn, around 15 miles away situated in today’s town of Stroudsburg. During the wait for replenishments, one solder succumbed to depravations and was buried on Hungry hill. To paint a better picture of conditions suffered by the troops, one soldier carved the words “Hells Kitchen” into the trunk of a tree on the Hill (The section of tree is presently housed in the Monroe County Historical Association in Stroudsburg).

General John Sullivan and his men would march north, following the Susquehanna River onto Tioga Point (now Athens Pennsylvania) causing much devastation and destruction to the Iroquois nation. Hundreds of Iroquois would be killed, along with the burning of there villages and crops. This campaign would permanently cripple the Iroquois Confederacy, encouraging westward expansion.

Now, standing on what was once considered Hungry Hill, is a memorial to the men of the Sullivan Expedition, along with the site where the Unknown Soldier is buried. Throughout the Poconos, you can find a number of historic signs marking the Route Sullivan took, reminding us that the road to expansion was paved by the sacrifice of many on all sides.

-Ghastly G :June 2008