1778 Wyoming Valley Massacre

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. Please consider reading our editorial policy to understand how and why we publish the resources we do.

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Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Northern Early America

The Wyoming Valley "massacre" was a military battle in the American Revolutionary War that took place in Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley on July 3, 1778, in which more than three hundred Americans died at the hands of Loyalist and Iroquois raiders. American Patriots called it a "massacre", but historians now generally believe that this was primarily a battle. Historians who have studied the events in detail, reading survivor accounts and other contemporary history, would concur that this was both a battle and a massacre.

The movement to contact conducted by the Patriots was followed by a sharpe battle between the two sides that lasted approximately 45 minutes, from the accounts of survivors. An order to reposition the Patriot line turned into a frantic route when the inexperienced Patriots panicked. This was the end of the battle. What followed can only be described as a massacre in which fleeing Patriots were hunted down and killed. Those who surrendered, about 30 to 40 in number, were tortured to death by the Iroquois. The killing of prisoners of war qualifies, under the definition, as a massacre.

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