Today In History: The Wyoming Valley Massacre

July 3rd: Today in 1778 a small battle between British Loyalists with their Indian Allies and the American Rebels led to the Wyoming Valley Massacre. Note the lack of quotes around massacre, that is because I believe the incident to be worthy of the that description without qualification. This isn’t universally believed as Wikipedia shows:

More than three hundred Patriots were killed in what was branded a “massacre”, although historians now generally believe it was primarily a battle. The aftermath, however, in which the Iroquois raiders hunted and killed fleeing Patriots before torturing to death the thirty to forty who had surrendered, is considered a massacre.

The qualification they use is to take away any sign of legitimacy from the retribution the Rebels brought on to the Indians the following years, which featured their own barbaric behaviour. The incident was used in Rebel propaganda to justify a campaign against Indian villages and was used as propaganda against Indians in general long after the war. I believe both sides behaved badly, but that doesn’t require the need to qualify who was a victim of a ‘massacre’ versus who was a victim of a massacre. It was probably equally horrifying to have been a victim of either side’s misbehaviour. No need to try and qualify the massacres, they all count. For an interesting account of the massacre and aftermath, albiet one from memory of a parent’s stories check here.

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