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The city of Elmira, New York, is part of Chemung County. It is surrounded on three sides by the town of Elmira and is just a short distance north of Pennsylvania's border. In 1779, the Sullivan-Clinton Expedition, which was formed as an extended military campaign during the Revolution, came through the area which is now Elmira. There, they fought the Iriquois Confederacy at the Battle of Newtown. Once the war was over, the new United States and the Iroquois negotiated a treaty which settled all territorial disputes in the area. Elmira was carved out of the Township of Chemung in 1788. The first settler, Continental Army captain Curtis Rumsey, built the first cabin, and it was in his honor that both Miller's Pond and Miller Street are named. In 1849, the New York and Erie Railroad was built through Elmira connecting Buffalo and New York City. This made it a convenient place for a muster point in the Civil War. Additionally, a prisoner-of-war camp was situated there from 1864 until 1865, housing a total of 12,123 Confederate soldiers, 2,963 of whom died during their incarceration there.

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