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Buried Secrets of The Revolutionary War: The Murder of Jane McCrae


I guess the Google gods prefer you remain in the dark about your history. We found another light. 

Jane McCrea (sometimes spelled McCrae or MacCrae, 1752 – July 27, 1777) was a young woman who was killed by a Huron-Wendat warrior associated with the British army of Lieutenant General John Burgoyne during the American Revolutionary War. Affianced to a Loyalist serving in Burgoyne's army, her slaying led to expressions of outrage and an increase in Patriot military recruiting, especially in the days following her killing.

The propaganda that followed greatly accentuated her beauty, and the fact that she was associated with Loyalists (although her family was primarily active in serving the Patriot cause) undermined British claims of protection for Loyalists. Burgoyne's inability to punish the alleged killers also undermined British assertions that they were more civilized in their conduct of the war; the dissemination of this propaganda contributed to the success of Patriot recruiting drives in New York for several years.

McCrea's fiancé was reported to be bitter about the affair, and never married. The story of her life and death entered American folklore, and was used by James Fenimore Cooper in The Last of the Mohicans and Kenneth Lewis Roberts in Rabble in Arms.

Life and slaying

McCrea was born in the Lamington section of Bedminster, New Jersey, one of the younger children in the large family of Rev. James McCrea. Since her mother's death and her father's remarriage, she had been living with her brother John near Saratoga, New York, where she became engaged to David Jones. When the war began, two of her brothers joined the American forces, while her fiancé fled with other Loyalists to Quebec. As John Burgoyne's expedition neared the Hudson River during the summer of 1777, Colonel John McCrea took up his duty with a regiment of the Albany County militia. Jones was serving as a lieutenant in one of the Loyalist militia units accompanying Burgoyne, and was stationed at Fort Ticonderoga after its capture.

McCrea left her brother's home and was travelling to join her fiancé at Ticonderoga. She had reached the village by the old Fort Edward, but so had the war. She was staying at the home of Sara McNeil, another Loyalist and an elderly cousin to the British General Simon Fraser. On the morning of July 27, 1777, a group of Native Americans, an advance party from Burgoyne's army led by a Wyandot known as Le Loup or Wyandot Panther, descended on the village of Fort Edward. They massacred a settler and his family, then killed Lieutenant Tobias Van Vechten and four others when they walked into an ambush. What happened next is a subject of some dispute; what is known is that Jane McCrea and Sara McNeil were taken by the natives and separated. McNeil was eventually taken to the British camp, where either she or David Jones recognized McCrea's supposedly distinctive scalp being carried by a native.

The traditional version of what happened appears to be based on the account of Thomas Anburey, a British officer.[6] Two warriors, one of whom was Wyandot Panther, were escorting McCrea to the British camp, when they quarreled over an expected reward for bringing her in. One of them then killed and scalped her, and Wyandot Panther ended up with the scalp. Anburey claimed she was taken against her will, but there were also rumors that she was being escorted at her fiancé's request. The second version of the story, apparently advanced by Wyandot Panther under questioning, was that McCrea was killed by a bullet fired by pursuing Americans. James Phinney Baxter, in supporting this version of events in his 1887 history of Burgoyne's campaign, asserts that an exhumation of her body revealed only bullet wounds and no tomahawk wounds.

Her killing was also reported by American army surgeon John Bartlett.


Posted by George Freund on August 22, 2019 at 5:08 PM 635 Views