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Title: Life of Joseph Brant—Thayendanegea (Vol. I.)

Author: William L. Stone

Release date: May 15, 2016 [eBook #52072]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Roger Burch with scans from the Internet Archive.

*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK LIFE OF JOSEPH BRANT—THAYENDANEGEA (VOL. I.) ***



cover




{Transcriber's Note: Quotation marks have been standardized to modern usage. Footnotes have been placed to immediately follow the paragraphs referencing them.}




LIFE OF BRANDT




Life

of

JOSEPH BRANT—THAYENDANEGEA:

INCLUDING
THE BORDER WARS
OF THE
AMERICAN REVOLUTION,
AND
SKETCHES OF THE INDIAN CAMPAIGNS OF GENERALS
HARMAR, ST. CLAIR, AND WAYNE.
AND OTHER MATTERS
CONNECTED WITH THE INDIAN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES
AND GREAT BRITAIN FROM THE PEACE OF 1783 TO
THE INDIAN PEACE OF 1795.

BY WILLIAM L. STONE.

IN TWO VOLUMES.
VOL. I.

NEW-YORK:

ALEXANDER V. BLAKE, 38 GOLD STREET.
1838.




[Entered according to Act of Congress of the United States of America in the year 1838, by George Dearborn & co., in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New-York.]




New-York:
Printed by Scatcherd & Adams.
No. 38 Gold Street.




TO THE HONORABLE

STEPHEN VAN RENSSELAER,

OF ALBANY,

These volumes are most respectfully inscribed. If the efforts of the writer to illustrate more fully and minutely than has hitherto been done, the most interesting portion of American history, in its immediate connection with the large and populous State of which The Patroon has so long been one of the most distinguished citizens, shall be so fortunate as to merit the regard, and receive the approbation, of one so excellently qualified to judge of its interest and value, there will be nothing left unsatisfied to the ambition and the hopes of

His friend and servant, THE AUTHOR.




CONTENTS.




CHAPTER I.

Birth and parentage—Discussion of the doubts cast upon his origin—Visit of Mohawk chiefs to Queen Anne—Evidence of Brant's descent from one of those—Digression from the main subject, and Extracts from the private and official journals of Sir William Johnson—Connexion between Sir William and the family of Brant—Incidental references to the old French war—Illustrations of Indian proceedings, speeches, &c.—Brant's parentage satisfactorily established—Takes the field in the Campaign of Lake George (1765.)—Is engaged at the conquest of Niagara (1759.)—Efforts of Sir William Johnson to civilize the Indians—Brant is sent, with other Indian youths, to the Moor Charity School, at Lebanon—Leaves school—Anecdote—Is engaged on public business by Sir William—As an Interpreter for the Missionaries—Again takes the field, in the wars against Pontiac—Intended massacre at Detroit—Ultimate overthrow of Pontiac—First marriage of Brant—Entertains the Missionaries—Again employed on public business—Death of his wife—Engages with Mr. Stewart in translating the Scriptures—Marries again—Has serious religious impressions—Selects a bosom friend and confidant, after the Indian custom—Death of his friend—His grief, and refusal to choose another friend.

Page 1

CHAPTER II.

Early symptoms of disaffection at Boston—Origin of the Revolutionary War—First blood shed in 1770—Stirring eloquence of Joseph Warren—Feelings of Sir William Johnson—His influence with the Indians and Germans, and his unpleasant position—Last visit of Sir William to England—His death—Mysterious circumstances attending it—Suspicions of suicide unjust—His son, Sir John Johnson, succeeds to his title and estates—His son-in-law, Col. Guy Johnson, to his office as superintendent General of the Indians—Early life of Sir John—Joseph Brant appointed Secretary to Guy Johnson—Influence of the Johnson family—Revolutionary symptoms in County, fomented by the proceedings in New England—First meeting of Tryon County Whigs—Declaration of Rights—First meeting of Congress—Effect of its proceedings—in England—Tardiness of Provincial legislature of New-York—Spirit of the people—Notes of preparation in Massachusetts, &c.—Overt acts of rebellion in several States—Indians exasperated by the Virginia borderers in 1774—Melancholy story of Logan—Campaign of Lord Dunmore and Colonel Lewis—Battle of the Kanhawa—Speech of Logan—Its authenticity questioned—Peace of Chilicothe—Unhappy feeling of the Indians.

29

CHAPTER III.

Unyielding course of the parent Government—Efforts of the Earl of Chatham unavailing—Address to the Crown from New-York—Leslie's Expedition to Salem—Affair of Lexington—Unwise movements of Tryon County loyalists—Reaction—Public meetings—The Sammons family—Interference of the Johnsons—Quarrel at Caughnawaga—Spirited indications at Cherry Valley—Counteracting efforts of the Johnsons among their retainers—Intrigues with the Indians—Massachusetts attempts the same—Correspondence with the Stockbridge Indians—Letter to Mr. Kirkland—His removal by Guy Johnson—Neutrality of the Oneidas—Intercepted despatch from Brant to the Oneidas—Apprehensions of Guy Johnson—Correspondence—Farther precautions of the Committees—Reverence for the Laws—Letter of Guy Johnson to the Committees of Albany and Schenectady—Substance of the reply.

49

CHAPTER IV.

Council of the Mohawk chiefs at Guy Park—A second council called by Johnson at Cosby's Manor—Proceeds thither with his retinue—First full meeting of Tryon County Committee—Correspondence with Guy Johnson—No council held—Johnson proceeds farther West, accompanied by his family and most of the Indians—Consequent apprehensions of the people—Communication from Massachusetts Congress—Ticonderoga and Crown Point taken by Ethan Allen—Skenesborough and St. Johns surprised—Farther proceedings in Massachusetts—Battle of Bunker Hill—Death of Warren—Council with the Oneidas and Tuscaroras at German Flats—Speech to the Indians—Subsequent council with the Oneidas—Conduct of the people toward Guy Johnson—Speech to, and reply of Oneidas—Guy Johnson moves westwardly to Ontario—His letter to the Provincial Congress of New-York—Holds a great Indian council at the West—Unfavourable influence upon the dispositions of the Indians—Causes of their partiality for the English—Great, but groundless alarm of the people—Guy Johnson, with Brant and the Indian warriors, descends the St. Lawrence to Montreal—Council there—Sir Guy Carleton and Gen. Haldimand complete the work of winning the Indians over to the cause of the Crown.

Page 71

CHAPTER V.

Meeting of the second Continental Congress—Measures of defence—Declaration—National fast—Organization of an Indian department—Address to the Six Nations—Council called at Albany—Preliminary consultation at German Flats—Speeches of the Oneidas and others—Adjourn to Albany—Brief interview with the commissioners—Conference and interchange of speeches with the Albanians—Proceedings of the grand council—Speeches of the commissioners—Replies of the Indians—Conclusion of the grand council—Resumption of the conference with the Albanians—Speech of the Albany Committee—Reply of the Indians—Disclosures of Guy Johnson's proceedings at Oswego—Close of the proceedings—Epidemic among the Indians—Small benefit resulting from the council—Proceedings in Tryon County resumed—Doubtful position of New-York—Symptoms of disaffection to the cause of the people—Sir John Johnson—Sheriff White deposed by the people—The royal authorities superseded by appointments from the people—Affray at Johnstown—First gun fired at Sampson Sammons—White recommissioned by Tryon—His flight—Labors of the Committee—Opposition of the Tories—Designs of Sir John Johnson and Sir Guy Carleton—Letter and deputation to Sir John—Prisoners for political offences sent to gaol—Letter from Provincial Congress—Mohawks commence fighting at St. Johns—Speech of the Canajoharies in explanation—Indians apply for release of prisoners—Review of the progress of the Revolution in other parts of the Colonies—Proceedings of Parliament—Burning of Falmouth—Descent upon Canada—Ethan Allen taken—Arnold's expedition—Siege of Quebec—Fall of Montgomery—Caughnawaga and Delaware Indians.

91

CHAPTER VI.

Lord Dunmore—Glance at the South—Suspicious conduct of Sir John Johnson—Conduct of the Tories in Tryon County—Gen. Schuyler directed by Congress to march into that County and disarm the Tories—Preliminary mission to the Lower Mohawks—Message to them—Their displeasure and reply—March of Schuyler—Meets the Indians at Schenectady—Interview and speeches—Advance of Schuyler—Letter to Sir John Johnson—Interview—Negotiations of capitulation—Terms proposed—Schuyler advances to Caughnawaga—Joined by Tryon County Militia—Farther correspondence with Sir John—Interview with the Indian mediators—Terms of surrender adjusted—Schuyler marches to Johnstown—Sir John, his household, and the Highlanders, disarmed—Troops scour the country to bring in the loyalists—Disappointment as to the supposed Tory Depot of warlike munitions—Return of Schuyler to Albany—Resolution of Congress—Additional trouble with Sir John—Preparations for his seizure—Expedition of Col. Dayton—Flight of the Baronet and his partisans to Canada—Their sufferings—And subsequent conduct—How the violation of his parole was considered.

119

CHAPTER VII.

History of Brant resumed—Advanced to the chieftaincy of the Confederacy—Mode of appointing chiefs and sachems—Embarks for England—Arrives in London—Received with marked consideration—Becomes acquainted with James Boswell and others—Agrees to espouse the Royal cause, and returns to America—Steals through the country to Canada—Curious supposed letter to President Wheelock—Battle of the Cedars—Cowardice of Major Butterfield—Outrages of the Indians—Story of Capt. McKinstry, who was saved from the stake by Brant—Indignation of Washington, the people, and Congress—Resolutions of retaliation—Mutual complaints of treatment of prisoners—Murder of Gen. Gordon—Indignation at the outrage—Indian deputation at Philadelphia—Speech to them—Congress resolves upon the employment of an Indian force—Schuyler opposed—Review of the incidents of the war elsewhere—Destitution of the Army—Evacuation of Boston by the English—Disastrous termination of the Canadian campaign—Deplorable condition of the army—Humanity of Sir Guy Carleton—Glance at the South—Declaration of Independence—Spirit of Tryon County—Cherry Valley—Fortifications at Fort Stanwix—American army moves to New-York—Arrival of the British fleet and army—Battle of Long-Island—Washington evacuates New-York—Battle of White Plains—Retreats across New-Jersey—Followed by Cornwallis—Defeat of Arnold on Lake Champlain—Fall of Rhode Island—Battle of Trenton.

Page 147

CHAPTER VIII.

Continuation of movements in New Jersey—Extinguishment of the council-fire at Onondaga—Tryon County—Colonel Harper's mission to Oghkwaga—The Harper family—Adventure at the Johnstone settlement—Capture of Good Peter and his party—Thayendanegea crosses from Canada to Oghkwaga—Interview with the Rev. Mr. Johnstone—Doubtful course of Brant—Feverish situation of the people—Expedition of General Herkimer to Unadilla—Remarkable meeting between Herkimer and Brant—Meditated act of treachery—Wariness of the chief—Meeting abruptly terminated—Ended in a storm—Brant draws off to Oswego—Grand council there—The Indians generally join the Royal standard—Approach of Brant upon Cherry Valley—How defeated—Death of Lieutenant Wormwood.

175

CHAPTER IX.

British preparations for the prosecution of the war—Indications at the North—Doubtful position and conduct of General Howe—Embarrassing to the Americans—Intercepted correspondence—General Howe sails to the Chesapeake—Enters Philadelphia in triumph—Burgoyne approaches from the North—Indian policy—Sir Guy Carleton—False estimates of the strength of Ticonderoga—Burgoyne arrives at Crown Point—Feasts the Indians—Invests Ticonderoga—Carries the outworks—Fortifies Sugar Hill—The fortress evacuated by St. Clair—Retreat of the Americans—Battles near Skenesborough and at Fort Ann—Burgoyne enters the valley of the Hudson—Schuyler, without means, retreats from Fort Edward—Terror of the people—Cruelties of the Indians—Story of Miss McCrea—General flight of the population—Mrs. Ann Eliza Bleecker—Heroism of Mrs. Schuyler—Attempted assassination of General Schuyler.

195

CHAPTER X.

Expedition against the Mohawk Valley from Oswego—Despondency of the people in Tryon County—Letter of John Jay—Arrest of several of the disaffected—Flight of others to Canada—Schuyler's complaints of the cowardice of the people—Great discouragements—Proclamation of General Herkimer—Letter from Thomas Spencer—St. Leger's approach—Caution and plan of his march—Diary of Lieut. Bird—Fort Stanwix invested—Colonel Gansevoort takes command—Its deplorable condition—Gansevoort joined by Willett—Story of Captain Gregg—Situation of the garrison—Arrival of St. Leger—His proclamation—Burgoyne's affairs becoming critical—Affair of Bennington—General Herkimer, with the Tryon County militia, advances to the relief of Gansevoort—Battle of Oriskany—Bloody upon both sides—Unexampled bravery of Captain Gardenier—Major Watts—Dissatisfaction of the Indians—Sortie and success of Colonel Willett—Death and character of General Herkimer.

209

CHAPTER XI.

Siege of Fort Schuyler continued—Forced letter from prisoners to Col. Gansevoort—St. Leger summons the garrison to surrender—Refusal of Gansevoort—Appeal of Sir John Johnson to the people of Tryon County—Secret expedition of Colonel Willett and Major Stockwell—Schuyler orders Arnold to the relief of Gansevoort—Willett proceeds to Albany—Arrest of Walter Butler, and others, at German Flats—Tried and convicted as a spy—Reprieved—Sent to Albany—Escapes—Arnold's proclamation—Advance of the besiegers—Uneasiness of the garrison—Sudden flight of St. Leger and his forces—Stratagem of Arnold—Story of Hon-Yost Schuyler—Merriment and mischief of the Indians—Arrival of Arnold at the Fort—The spoils of victory—Public estimation of Gansevoort's services—Address to his soldiers—His promotion—Address of his officers.

Page 249

CHAPTER XII.

Recurrence to the invasion of Burgoyne—General Schuyler again superseded by Gates—Causes of this injustice—Battle of Stillwater—Both armies entrench—Battle and victory of Behmus's Heights—Funeral of General Frazer—Retreat of Burgoyne—Difficulties increasing upon him—His capitulation—Meeting of Burgoyne and Gates—Deportment of Gates toward Gen. Washington—Noble conduct of Gen. Schuyler.

265

CHAPTER XIII.

Sir Henry Clinton's attempt to co-operate with Burgoyne—Storming of Forts Clinton and Montgomery—Burning of Æsopus—Review of military operations elsewhere—Expedition to Peekskill—Of Gov. Tryon to Danbury—Progress of Sir William Howe in Pennsylvania—Battle of Brandywine—Massacre of the Paoli—Battle of Germantown—Death of Count Donop—Murder of Captain Deitz and family at Berne—John Taylor—Lady Johnson ordered to leave Albany—Exasperation of Sir John—Attempts to abduct Mr. Taylor—An Indian and white man bribed to assassinate General Schuyler—Fresh alarms in Tryon County—Address of Congress to the Six Nations—The appeal produces no effect—Articles of confederation—Close of the year.

280

CHAPTER XIV.

Treaty of alliance with France—Policy of France—Incidents of the Winter—Projected expedition against St Johns—Lafayette appointed to the command of the North—Failure of the enterprise for lack of means—Disappointment and chagrin of Lafayette—Unpleasant indications respecting the Western Indians—Indian council at Johnstown—Attended by Lafayette—Its proceedings—And result—Reward offered for Major Carleton—Letter of Lafayette—He retires from the Northern Department—Return of the loyalists for their families—Unopposed—Their aggressions—Prisoners carried into Canada—Their fate—Re-appearance of Brant at Oghkwaga and Unadilla—Anecdote of Brant—Comparative cruelty of the Tories and Indians—Murder of a family—Exposed situation of the people—Captain McKean—Sends a challenge to Brant—Burning of Springfield—First battle in Schoharie.

298

CHAPTER XV.

The story of Wyoming—Glance at its history—Bloody battle between the Shawanese and Delawares—Count Zinzendorf—Conflicting Indian claims and titles—Rival land companies of Connecticut and Pennsylvania—Murder of Tadeusund—The first Connecticut Colony destroyed by the Indians—Controversy respecting their titles—Rival Colonies planted in Wyoming—The civil wars of Wyoming—Bold adventure of Captain Ogden—Fierce passions of the people—The Connecticut settlers prevail—Growth of the settlements—Annexed to Connecticut—Breaking out of the Revolution—The inhabitants, stimulated by previous hatred, take sides—Arrest of suspected persons in January—Sent to Hartford—Evil consequences—The enemy appear upon the outskirts of the settlements in the Spring—Invasion by Colonel John Butler and the Indians—Colonel Zebulon Butler prepares to oppose them—Two of the forts taken—Colonel Z. Butler marches to encounter the enemy—Battle of Wyoming—The Americans defeated—The flight and massacre—Fort Wyoming besieged—Timidity of the garrison—Zebulon Butler's authority not sustained—He escapes from the fort—Colonel Denniston forced to capitulate—Destruction of the Valley—Barbarities of the Tories—Brant not in the expedition—Catharine Montour—Flight of the fugitives—Expedition of Colonel Hartley up the Susquehanna—Colonel Zebulon Butler repossesses himself of Wyoming, and rebuilds the fort—Indian skirmishes—Close of the history of Wyoming.

Page 318

CHAPTER XVI.

Evacuation of Philadelphia by Sir Henry Clinton—Followed through New Jersey by Washington—Battle of Monmouth—Conduct and arrest of General Lee—Retreat of the enemy—Arrival of the French fleet—Combined attack of the Americans and French upon the British army of Rhode Island—British fleet escapes from Count D'Estaing—Battle of Rhode Island—Failure of the expedition-Projected campaigns against the Indians—Captains Pipe and White-Eyes—McKee and Girty—General McIntosh ordered against the Sandusky towns—Irruption of Brant into Cobleskill—Of McDonald into the Schoharie settlements—Pusillanimity of Colonel Vrooman—Bravery of Colonel Harper—His expedition to Albany—Captivity of Mr. Sawyer—Slays six Indians and escapes—Colonel William Butler sent to Schoharie—Morgan's rifle corps—Daring adventures of Murphy and Elerson—Death of Service, a noted Tory—Murphy's subsequent adventures—Affairs at Fort Schuyler—Alarming number of desertions—Destruction of Andros-town by the Indians—Conflagration of the German Flats—Expedition of Colonel William Butler from Schoharie to Unadllla and Oghkwaga.

343

CHAPTER XVII.

Walter N. Butler—His flight from Albany, bent on revenge—The Great Tree—Hostile indications among the Senecas and Cayugas—Premonitions of an attack by Butler and Brant upon Cherry Valley—Discredited by Colonel Alden—Scouts sent out and captured—Surprise of the town—Massacre and burning—Death of Colonel Alden—Families of Mr. Wells, Mr. Dunlop, and others—Brutality of the Tories—Family of Mr. Mitchell—The monster Newberry—Departure of the enemy with their captives—A night of gloom—Women and children sent back—Letter of Butler to Gen. Schuyler—Murder of Mrs. Campbell's mother—Vindication of Brant—Interesting incident—Brant's opinion of Capt. McKean—Colonel John Butler laments the conduct of his son—Letter of General James Clinton to Walter Butler—Letter of Butler in reply—Molly Brant—Particulars of Mrs. Campbell's captivity—Feast of thanksgiving for their victory—The great feast of the White Dogs—Return of Walter Butler from Quebec—Col. Butler negotiates with the Indians for Mrs. Campbell—She goes to Niagara—Catharine Montour and her sons—Mrs. Campbell finds her children—Descends the St. Lawrence to Montreal—Meets Mrs. Butler—Arrives at Albany, and is joined by her husband—Grand campaign projected—Jacob Helmer and others sent privately to Johnstown for the iron chest of Sir John—Execution of Helmer—Arrival of British Commissioners—Not received—Exchange of Ministers with France—Incidents of the war elsewhere for the year.

369

CHAPTER XVIII.

Indian siege of Fort Laurens—Successful stratagems—Flight of the pack-horses—The fort abandoned—Projected enterprise from Detroit—Gov. Hamilton captured at St. Vincent by Col. Clarke—Projects of Brant—Uneasiness in the West of New-York—Deliberations of the Oneidas and Onondagas—Brant's projects defeated—Treachery of the Onondagas—Colonel Van Schaick marches to lay waste their towns—Instructions of General Clinton—Passage of Wood Creek and Oneida Lake—Advance upon the Indian towns—Their destruction—Return of the expedition to Fort Schuyler—Mission of the Oneidas to Fort Schuyler in behalf of the Onondagas—Speech of Good Peter—Reply of Colonel Van Schaick—Irruption of Tories and Indians into the lower Mohawk country—Stone Arabia—Defence of his house by Captain Richer—The Indians in Schoharie—General Clinton traverses the Mohawk valley—McClellan's expedition to Oswegatchie—Unsuccessful—Irruption of the Onondagas into Cobleskill—Defeat of the Americans—The settlement destroyed—Murders in the neighborhood of Fort Pitt—Irruptions of Tories into Warwasing—Invasion of Minisink—Battle near the Delaware—Massacre of the Orange County militia—Battle with the Shawanese.

396




INTRODUCTION.




It is related by Æsop, that a forester once meeting with a lion, they traveled together for a time, and conversed amicably without much differing in opinion. At length a dispute happening to arise upon the question of superiority between their respective races, the former, in the absence of a better argument, pointed to a monument, on which was sculptured, in marble, the statue of a man striding over the body of a vanquished lion. "If this," said the lion, "is all you have to say, let us be the sculptors, and you will see the lion striding over the vanquished man."

The moral of this fable should ever be borne in mind when contemplating the character of that brave and ill-used race of men, now melting away before the Anglo-Saxons like the snow beneath a vertical sun—the aboriginals of America. The Indians are no sculptors. No monuments of their own art commend to future ages the events of the past. No Indian pen traces the history of their tribes and nations, or records the deeds of their warriors and chiefs—their prowess and their wrongs. Their spoilers have been their historians; and although a reluctant assent has been awarded to some of the nobler traits of their nature, yet, without yielding a due allowance for the peculiarities of their situation, the Indian character has been presented with singular uniformity as being cold, cruel, morose, and revengeful; unrelieved by any of those varying traits and characteristics, those lights and shadows, which are admitted in respect to other people no less wild and uncivilized than they.

Without pausing to reflect that, even when most cruel, they have been practising the trade of war—always dreadful—as much in conformity to their own usages and laws, as have their more civilized antagonists, the white historian has drawn them with the characteristics of demons. Forgetting that the second of the Hebrew monarchs did not scruple to saw his prisoners with saws, and harrow them with harrows of iron; forgetful, likewise, of the scenes at Smithfield, under the direction of our own British ancestors; the historians of the poor untutored Indians, almost with one accord, have denounced them as monsters sui generis—of unparalleled and unapproachable barbarity; as though the summary tomahawk were worse than the iron tortures of the harrow, and the torch of the Mohawk hotter than the faggots of Queen Mary.

Nor does it seem to have occurred to the "pale-faced" writers, that the identical cruelties, the records and descriptions of which enter so largely into the composition of the earlier volumes of American history, were not barbarities in the estimation of those who practised them. The scalp-lock was an emblem of chivalry. Every warrior, in shaving his head for battle, was careful to leave the lock of defiance upon his crown, as for the bravado, "Take it if you can." The stake and the torture were identified with their rude notions of the power of endurance. They were inflicted upon captives of their own race, as well as upon the whites; and with their own braves these trials were courted, to enable the sufferer to exhibit the courage and fortitude with which they could be borne—the proud scorn with which all the pain that a foe might inflict, could be endured.

But they fell upon slumbering hamlets in the night, and massacred defenceless women and children! This, again, was their own mode of warfare, as honourable in their estimation as the more courteous methods of committing wholesale murder, laid down in the books.

But of one enormity they were ever innocent. Whatever degree of personal hardship and suffering their female captives were compelled to endure, their persons were never dishonoured by violence; a fact which can be predicated, we apprehend, of no other victorious soldiery that ever lived.

In regard, moreover, to the countless acts of cruelty alleged to have been perpetrated by the savages, it must still be borne in mind that the Indians have not been the sculptors—the Indians have had no writer to relate their own side of the story. There has been none "to weep for Logan!" while his wrongs have been unrecorded. The annals of man, probably, do not attest a more kindly reception of intruding foreigners, than was given to the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth, by the faithful Massassoit, and the tribes under his jurisdiction. Nor did the forest kings take up arms until they but too clearly saw, that either their visitors or themselves, must be driven from the soil which was their own—the fee of which was derived from the Great Spirit. And the nation is yet to be discovered that will not fight for their homes, the graves of their fathers, and their family altars. Cruel they were, in the prosecution of their contests; but it would require the aggregate of a large number of predatory incursions and isolated burnings, to balance the awful scene of conflagration and blood, which at once extinguished the power of Sassacus, and the brave and indomitable Narragansets over whom he reigned. No! until it is forgotten, that by some Christians in infant Massachusetts it was held to be right to kill Indians as the agents and familiars of Azazel; until the early records of even tolerant Connecticut, which disclose the fact that the Indians were seized by the Puritans, transported to the British West Indies, and sold as slaves, are lost; until the Amazon and La Plata shall have washed away the bloody history of the Spanish American conquest; and until the fact that Cortez stretched the unhappy Guatimozin naked upon a bed of burning coals, is proved to be a fiction, let not the American Indian be pronounced the most cruel of men!

If, then, the moral of the fable is thus applicable to aboriginal history in general, it is equally so in regard to very many of their chiefs, whose names have been forgotten, or only known to be detested. Peculiar circumstances have given prominence, and fame of a certain description, to some few of the forest chieftains, as in the instances of Powhatan in the south, the mighty Philip in the east, and the great Pontiac of the north-west. But there have been many others, equal, perhaps, in courage, and skill, and energy, to the distinguished chiefs just mentioned, whose names have been steeped in infamy in their preservation, because "the lions are no sculptors." They have been described as ruthless butchers of women and children, without one redeeming quality save those of animal courage and indifference to pain; while it is not unlikely, that were the actual truth known, their characters, for all the high qualities of the soldier, might sustain an advantageous comparison with those of half the warriors of equal rank in Christendom. Of this class was a prominent subject of the present volume, whose name was terrible in every American ear during the war of Independence, and was long afterward associated with every thing bloody, ferocious, and hateful. It is even within our own day, that the name of Brant [FN-1] would chill the young blood by its very sound, and cause the lisping child to cling closer to the knee of its mother. As the master spirit of the Indians engaged in the British service during the war of the Revolution, not only were all the border massacres charged directly upon him, but upon his head fell the public maledictions for every individual act of atrocity which marked that sanguinary contest, whether committed by Indians, or Tories, or by the exasperated regular soldiery of the foe. In many instances great injustice was done to him, as in regard to the affair of Wyoming, in connexion with which his name has been used by every preceding annalist who has written upon the subject; while it has, moreover, for the same cause, been consigned to infamy, deep and foul, in the deathless song of Campbell. In other cases again, the Indians of the Six Nations, in common with their chief, were loaded with execrations for atrocities of which all were alike innocent—because the deeds recorded were never committed—it having been the policy of the public writers, and those in authority, not only to magnify actual occurrences, but sometimes, when these were wanting, to draw upon their imaginations for accounts of such deeds of ferocity and blood, as might best serve to keep alive the strongest feelings of indignation against the parent country, and likewise induce the people to take the field for revenge, if not driven thither by the nobler impulse of patriotism. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Almost invariably written Brandt in the books, even in despite of his own orthography, which was uniformly Brant.

[FN-2] See Appendix A—the well-known scalp-story of Dr. Franklin—long believed, and recently revived and included in several works of authentic history.

Such deliberate fictions, for political purposes, as that by Dr. Franklin, just referred to, were probably rare; but the investigations into which the author has been led, in the preparation of the present work, have satisfied him, that from other causes, much of exaggeration and falsehood has obtained a permanent footing in American history. Most historians of that period, English and American, wrote too near the time when the events they were describing occurred, for a dispassionate investigation of truth; and other writers who have succeeded, have too often been content to follow in the beaten track, without incurring the labour of diligent and calm inquiry. Reference has been made above to the affair of Wyoming, concerning which, to this day, the world has been abused with monstrous fictions—with tales of horrors never enacted. The original causes of this historical inaccuracy are very obvious. As already remarked, our histories were written at too early a day; when the authors, or those supplying the materials, had, as it were, but just emerged from the conflict. Their passions had not yet become cooled, and they wrote under feelings and prejudices which could not but influence minds governed even by the best intentions. The crude, verbal reports of the day—tales of hear-say, coloured by fancy and aggravated by fear,—not only found their way into the newspapers, but into the journals of military officers. These, with all the disadvantages incident to flying rumors, increasing in size and enormity with every repetition, were used too often, it is apprehended, without farther examination, as authentic materials for history. Of this class of works was the Military Journal of Dr. James Thatcher, first published in 1823, and immediately recognized as historical authority. Now, so far as the author speaks of events occurring within his own knowledge, and under his own personal observation, the authority is good. None can be better. But the worthy army surgeon did not by any means confine his diary to facts and occurrences of that description. On the contrary, his journal is a general record of incidents and transactions occurring in almost every camp, and at every point of hostilities, as the reports floated from mouth to mouth through the division of the army where the journalist happened to be engaged, or as they reached him through the newspapers. Hence the present author has found the Doctor's journal a very unsafe authority in regard to facts, of which the Doctor was not a spectator or directly cognizant. Even the diligent care of Marshall did not prevent his measurably falling into the same errors, in the first edition of his Life of Washington, with regard to Wyoming; and it was not until more than a quarter of a century afterward, when his late revised edition of that great work was about to appear, that, by the assistance of Mr. Charles Miner, an intelligent resident of Wilkesbarre, the readers of that eminent historian were correctly informed touching the revolutionary tragedy in that valley. Nor even then was the correction entire, inasmuch as the name of Brant was still retained, as the leader of the Indians on that fearful occasion. Nor were the exaggerations in regard to the invasion of Wyoming greater than were those connected with the irruption into, and destruction of, Cherry Valley, as the reader will discover in the course of the ensuing pages. Indeed, the writer, in the preparation of materials for this work, has encountered so much that is false recorded in history as sober verity, that he has at times been disposed almost to universal scepticism in regard to uninspired narration.

In conclusion of this Introduction, a short history of the origin of the present work may not be impertinent. It was the fortune of the author to spend several of his early years, and commence his public life, in the valley of the Mohawk—than which the country scarce affords a more beautiful region. The lower section of this valley was entered by the Dutch traders, and settlements were commenced, originally at Schenectady, very soon after the first fort was built at Albany, then called Fort Orange, by Henry Christiaens in 1614. The Dutch gradually pushed their settlements up the Mohawk on the rich bottom lands of the river, as far as Caughnawaga. Beyond that line, and especially in the upper section of the valley west of the Little Falls, and embracing the broad and beautiful garden of the whole district known as the German Flats, the first white settlers introduced were Germans—being a division of the Palatinates, who emigrated to America early in the eighteenth century, under the patronage of Queen Anne. Three thousand Germans came over at the time referred to, about the year 1709, a portion of whom settled in Pennsylvania. The residue ascended the Hudson to a place called East Camp, now in the county of Columbia. From thence they found their way into the rich valley of the Schoharie-kill, about the year 1713, and thence to the German Flats, of which they were in possession as early as 1720. The first colony, planting themselves in Schoharie, consisted of between forty and fifty families. Some disagreements soon after arising among them, twelve of these families separated from their companions; and, pushing farther westward beyond the Little Falls, planted themselves down upon the rich alluvial Flats at the confluence of the West Canada Creek and the Mohawk.

At the time of its discovery, that valley was occupied by the Mohawk Indians, the head of the extended confederacy of the Five Nations—the Iroquois of the French, and the Romans, as Doctor Colden has denominated them, of the New World. Of this confederacy, the Mohawks were the head or leading nation, as they were also the fiercest. [FN] The Five Nations early attached themselves to the English, and were consequently often engaged in hostilities with the French of Canada, and especially with the Hurons and Adirondacks or Algonquins—powerful nations in alliance with the Canadians. Another consequence was, that the Mohawk valley, and indeed the whole country inhabited by the Five Nations, were the theatre of successive wars, from the discovery down to the close of the war of the American Revolution. There is, therefore, no section of the United States so rich in historical incident, as the valley of the Mohawk and the contiguous territory at the west.


[FN] "I have been told by old men in New England, who remembered the time when the Mohawks made war on their Indians (the Mohicans), that as soon as a single Mohawk was discovered in their country, their Indians raised a cry from hill to hill, A Mohawk! A Mohawk! upon which they all fled, like sheep before wolves, without attempting to make the least resistance or defence on their side; and that the poor New England Indians immediately ran to the Christian houses, and the Mohawks often pursued them so closely, that they entered along with them, and knocked their brains out in the presence of the people of the house." [Colden's Six Nations.] The excellent Heckewelder, in his paramount affection for the Lenni Lenape, enters into a long argument to disprove Colden upon this point; maintaining that the Mohawks were never of more terrific fame than the Delawares. The authorities, however, are against the good Moravian missionary, to which the writer may add the weight of the following incident, of comparatively recent occurrence:—Some ten or twelve years ago, a wandering Mohawk had straggled away from the ancient home of his tribe, as far as the State of Maine, and presented himself, one day, in the streets of a small town not far from the Penobscot river. Indian forms and faces were not strangers in this little community, there being a remnant of the Penobscots yet existing in the neighbourhood, who were in the habit of visiting the place, four or five times a year, for the purchase of such necessaries as their means could command. It happened that a party of them had come in on the very day of the Mohawk's arrival; and as he was lounging through the street, he came suddenly upon them in turning a corner. The recognition, on their part, was instantaneous, and was evidently accompanied by emotions of alarm and distrust. "Mohawk, Mohawk," was muttered by one and another, and so long as he remained in sight, their eyes were fixed upon him with an evident expression of uneasiness. As for the Mohawk, he condescended only to give them a passing glance, and went on his way with the same lounging, indifferent step that he had exhibited from the first. He was a superb-looking fellow, of about 25, full six feet in height, and could easily have demolished three or four of the dwarfish and effeminate Penobscots.

At the time of the author's residence in the Mohawk country, the materials of that history, especially that portion of them connected with events subsequent to the conquest of Canada by Great Britain, were for the most part ungathered. The events of the war of the Revolution, which nowhere else raged so furiously, and was nowhere else marked with such bitter and entire desolation, were then fresh in the recollections of the people; and many a time and oft were the recitals listened to with thrilling interest, and laid up in the store-house of memory, as among the richest of its traditionary treasures. Nor was the interest of these verbal narratives diminished by visiting the sites of the old fortifications, strolling over the battle-fields, and noting the shot-holes in the walls of such houses as had stood out the contest, and the marks of cannon balls upon the trunks of trees yet remaining on fields which had been scenes of bloody strife.

Several years afterward it occurred to the author to undertake a task which he ought to have commenced years before, viz. the composition of a historical memoir of the Mohawk Valley, which would embody those written and unwritten materials of history, now fast disappearing by the death of the actors in the scenes to be described, and the loss of papers and manuscripts, of which such reckless destruction is allowed in this country. In the progress of thought and investigation upon the subject, it was soon determined to embrace in the proposed memoir some biographical account of the Great Chief of the Six Nations, Joseph Brant—Thayendanegea; but there was yet another distinguished name, whose history and fame were intimately connected with the Mohawks, and whose character has neither been justly described nor well understood. The reader will probably anticipate the name, Sir William Johnson. By this time it was apparent that the work, if executed, must be more extended than had originally been contemplated; and a few slight preparations were made for its commencement ten years ago.

It was some time in the year 1829 that the design was abandoned. Calling upon his venerable friend Chancellor Kent, one morning, for the purpose of borrowing a rare volume of a still rarer history of the old French war of 1755-'63, the author was informed that his design had been anticipated by William W. Campbell, Esq., a young gentleman of promise who was just coming to the bar—a native of the country to be occupied as historic ground—and whose work was then nearly ready for the press. Under these circumstances, the project of the author was at once relinquished.

Mr. Campbell's book—"Annals of Tryon County,"—made its appearance in 1831; and was at once found valuable for its facts, and creditable alike to the industry and talents of an author, who, although then so young, possessed the enterprise to undertake the necessary labour, and the ambition to inscribe his name upon the roll of American historians. Still, the work was not a substitute for that which the author had proposed; its object was a more limited history, both of time and territory, than had been entertained in respect of the present work. Mr. Campbell's Annals, with the exception of a very few brief and partial sketches, embraced the history only of the war of the Revolution in that particular section of country, and had little to do with biography. The design of the author, enlarged by reflection and research, now began to comprehend a history of the Six Nations, and their wars with the French, Hurons, or Wyandots, and Adirondacks; the settlement of the country by the pale faces; a history of the French War, so far as that memorable contest was connected with the Indians and colony of New-York; together, or rather blended, with the Lives of Sir William Johnson and Joseph Brant. A work of this description seemed to be a desideratum in American history; and in the autumn of 1832, preparations for the undertaking were resumed, with what success will in part be seen in the sequel.

In the prosecution of the preliminary labour, efforts were made to procure materials from the survivors of the family of Sir William Johnson, residing in the Canadas. These efforts have thus far been attended with but partial success. From one of the grandsons, however, Mr. Archibald Johnson, a valuable manuscript volume has been procured, containing the private diary of Sir William during the Niagara campaign of 1759, in which General Prideaux fell, leaving the command of the army to the baronet, whose efforts were crowned with brilliant success. From among the papers of the late Lieut. Governor of New-York, John Taylor, in possession of his daughter, Mrs. Cooper, the author has fortunately obtained the manuscript of Sir William's official diary for the years 1757, 1758, and a part of the year 1759, together with a small parcel of other papers and letters. A few of the baronet's letters and papers are also yet extant, in the archives of the state at Albany. All these will afford materials for his proposed biography, and for other historical illustrations, of high value. Many of the baronet's papers were destroyed in the war of the Revolution; and many others, it is ascertained, are only to be found in England—to which country a special visit will probably be necessary for their consultation.

It will readily be perceived, that the proposed work embraces two epochs, between which there is a very natural, and even necessary, division. The first embraces the early history referred to, with a history of the French war, and the country, to the death of Sir William Johnson. The second division embraces the life of Joseph Brant, and the revolutionary, Indian, and Tory wars of the northern and western part of the State of New-York; and although anticipated, to a considerable extent, by Mr. Campbell, still the author entered the field of investigation with as much spirit as though it had not been historically traversed before. In the course of his labours he has visited the Mohawk Valley three several times with no other object. Ascertaining, moreover, that the venerable Major Thomas Sammons, of Johnstown, himself, with his father and two brothers, an efficient actor in the scenes of the Revolution, had for many years been collecting historical materials in that region, the author applied to him; and was so fortunate as not only to procure his collections, but to induce the old gentleman to re-enter the field of inquiry. By his assistance a large body of facts and statements, taken down in writing during the last thirty years, from the lips of surviving officers and soldiers, has been obtained for the present work. These documents have added largely to the most authentic materials of history, enabling the author to bring out many new and interesting facts, and to correct divers errors in the works of preceding writers, who have superficially occupied the same ground. In addition to these, the few remaining papers of the brave old General Herkimer, who fell at Oriskany in 1777, have been placed at the disposal of the author, by his nephew, John Herkimer, Esq. Still the work of Mr. Campbell has been found of great use, and by consent has been liberally drawn upon. In regard to some transactions, it was, indeed, almost the only authority; as in the cases of Cherry Valley, some of the transactions in the Schoharie Valley, and the exploits of Colonel Harper.

But this is not all. The author has visited Upper Canada, and Montreal and Quebec, in search of materials. Most luckily for the cause of historic truth, and the reputation of Joseph Brant, during his Canadian researches he became apprised of the fact, that the old Mohawk chief, himself a man of a pretty good English education, had left a large mass of manuscripts, consisting of his own speeches, delivered on many and various occasions, and a great number of letters addressed to him; together with copies of his own letters in reply, which he had preserved with equal industry and care. These papers were in the keeping of his youngest daughter, a lady of high respectability, aboriginal though she be, and eligibly married to William Johnson Kerr, Esq. of Wellington Square, Upper Canada. It was obvious that those papers must prove a rich mine for exploration; and an application from the author, through his friend the Hon. Marshall S. Bidwell, of Toronto, was most readily responded to by Mr. and Mrs. Kerr. The papers, it is true, were less connected than had been hoped; and by hundreds of references and allusions contained therein, it is obvious that large numbers of letters, journals, and speeches have been lost—past recovery. Still, those which remain have proved of great assistance and rare value.

To the kindness of Charles A. Clinton, Esq. the author has been indebted for access to the private papers of General James Clinton, his grandfather. In the composition of one portion of the present volume, these papers have been found of vast importance. General James Clinton was the father of the late illustrious De Witt Clinton, and the brother of Governor George Clinton. He was much in command in the northern department, and it was under his conduct that the celebrated descent of the Susquehanna was performed in 1779. His own letters, and those of his correspondents, have been of material assistance, not only in relation to that campaign, but upon various other points of history. It was among these papers that the letters of Walter N. Butler, respecting the affairs of Cherry Valley and Wyoming, were discovered.

In connexion with the history of the expedition of Sullivan and Clinton, just referred to, the author has likewise been favoured with the manuscript diary of the venerable Captain Theodosius Fowler of this city, who was an active officer during the whole campaign. In addition to the valuable memoranda contained in this diary, Capt. Fowler has preserved a drawing of the order of march adopted in ascending the Chemung, after the junction of the two armies, and also a plan of the great battle fought at Newtown by Sullivan, against the Indians and Tories commanded by Brant and Sir John Johnson; both of which drawings have been engraved, and will be found in the Appendix.

In the winter of 1775-'76, an expedition was conducted from Albany into Tryon County, for the purpose of disarming the Tories and arresting Sir John Johnson, of the particulars of which very little has hitherto been known. On application to the family of General Schuyler, it was ascertained that his letter books for that period were lost. After much inquiry, the necessary documents were obtained from Peter Force, Esq. at Washington.

The author has likewise been indebted to General Peter B. Porter, of Black Rock, for some valuable information respecting the character and some of the actions of Brant. General Porter was an early emigrant into the western part of the State, as an agent for the great landholder, Oliver Phelps; and the execution of his duties brought him into frequent intercourse with many of the chiefs and sachems of the Indians. Among these he became intimately acquainted with the Mohawk chief, between whom and himself a written correspondence was occasionally maintained for several years. Unfortunately, however, that correspondence, with other communications in his hand-writing, which Gen. Porter had taken some pains to preserve, was destroyed by one of the incursions of the enemy across the Niagara during the last war. Still, the General has supplied the author with several important reminiscences respecting the old chief, and one transaction of thrilling interest, heretofore entirely unknown.

A friend of the author, a highly respectable and intelligent octogenarian, Samuel Woodruff, Esq., of Windsor, Connecticut, made a visit to Brant at the Grand River Settlement, in the summer of 1797, and remained with him several days, in the enjoyment of frequent and full conversations upon many subjects. Mr. Woodruff has obligingly furnished a dozen pages or more of instructive notes and memoranda of those conversations, which have been freely used. The author is likewise under obligations to Professor Marsh of Burlington College, (Vt.) a connexion, by marriage, of the Wheelock family, for several of Brant's original letters; and also to Thomas Morris, Esq., of New-York, who knew the chief well, and was several years in correspondence with him, for the same favour. Mr. Campbell has, moreover, supplied several documents of value, obtained by him after the publication of his own book.

Having, by the acquisition of these and other papers, procured all the materials that appeared to remain, or, at least, all that were accessible, while the documentary papers for the first division of the work were yet very incomplete, the author, like Botta, in his promised complete history of Italy, has been compelled to write the latter portion of the work first. In the execution of this task, he had supposed that the bulk of his labour would cease with the close of the war of the Revolution, or at most, that some fifteen or twenty pages, sketching rapidly the latter years of the life of Thayendanegea, would be all that was necessary. Far otherwise was the fact. When the author came to examine the papers of Brant, nearly all of which were connected with his career subsequent to that contest, it was found that his life and actions had been intimately associated with the Indian and Canadian politics of more than twenty years after the treaty of peace; that a succession of Indian Congresses were held by the nations of the great lakes, in all which he was one of the master spirits; that he was directly or indirectly engaged in the wars between the United States and Indians from 1789 to 1795, during which the bloody campaigns of Harmar, St. Clair, and Wayne, took place; and that he acted an important part in the affair of the North-Western posts, so long retained by Great Britain after the treaty of peace. This discovery compelled the writer to enter upon a new and altogether unexpected field of research. Many difficulties were encountered in the composition of this branch of the work, arising from various causes and circumstances. The conflicting relations of the United States, the Indians, and the Canadians, together with the peculiar and sometimes apparently equivocal position in which the Mohawk chief—the subject of the biography—stood in regard to them all; the more than diplomatic caution with which the British officers managed the double game which it suited their policy to play so long; the broken character of the written materials obtained by the author; and the necessity of supplying many links in the chain of events from circumstantial evidence and the unwritten records of Indian diplomacy; all combined to render the matters to be elucidated, exceedingly complicated, intricate, and difficult of clear explanation. But tangled as was the web, the author has endeavoured to unravel he materials, and weave them into a narrative of consistency and truth. The result of these labours is embodied in the second part of the present work; and unless the author has over-estimated both the interest and the importance of this portion of American history, the contribution now made will be most acceptable to the reader.

In addition to the matters here indicated, a pretty full account of the life of Brant, after the close of the Indian wars, is given, by no means barren either of incident or anecdote; and the whole is concluded by some interesting particulars respecting the family of the chief, giving their personal history down to the present day.

It may possibly be objected by some—those especially who are apt to form opinions without much reflection—that the author has indulged rather liberally, not only in the use of public speeches and documents, but also in the transcription of private letters. To this he would reply, that in his view, his course in that respect adds essentially to the value of the work; and had it not been for the unexpected size to which the volumes have attained, those quotations would have been made with still greater freedom. For instance, in regard to the interesting proceedings at the last Grand Council of the Six Nations held in Albany, it was the original intention of the author, long as they are, to insert them in the text; and so the matter was at first arranged. The ancient Council Fire of the Six Nations was always kept burning at Onondaga, the central nation of the confederacy. But from the time of the alliance between the Six Nations and the English, the fires of the united councils of the two powers were kindled at Albany. There, according to the Indian figure of speech, the big tree was planted, to which the chain of friendship was made fast. But with the close of the Great Council held there in the summer of 1775, that fire, which had so long been burning, was extinguished. It was the last Indian congress ever held at the ancient Dutch capital. It took place at a most important crisis, and its proceedings were both of an important and an interesting character. Nor, until now, have those proceedings ever been published entire. Indeed, it is believed that no part of them was ever in print, until very recently a portion of the manuscript was discovered, and inserted in that invaluable collection, the papers of the Massachusetts Historical Society. That manuscript, however, was very defective and incomplete, and chance alone has enabled the author to supply the deficiency. It happened, during one of his visits to the office of the Secretary of State last year, in search of documents, that he discovered, among some ancient, loose, and neglected papers, several sheets of Indian treaty proceedings, which were of themselves very imperfect. Supposing, however, that they might possibly be of use at some time, he caused them to be transcribed. Most luckily, on examining them in connexion with the publication of the Massachusetts collection, they were found exactly to supply the deficiencies of the latter. The result is, that the papers appear now for the first time entire; a portion of them, however, from their great length, having been transferred to the Appendix.

In regard to the use of speeches and letters, moreover, the author, after much consideration, has adopted the plan, as far as possible, of allowing the actors in the scenes described to tell their own stories. This is a method of historical, and especially of biographical, writing, which is coming more into favour than formerly. Marshall adopts it to a considerable extent, and very effectively, in the Life of Washington. The instructive and admirable life of that noblest of England's naval warriors, Lord Collingwood, was constructed upon this plan. So, also, with Moore's Life of Byron. Taylor's Life of Cowper, one of the most useful as well as interesting lives that have been written of that most melancholy and yet most delightful of English bards, is composed almost entirely from the poet's own correspondence. Lockhart's captivating Memoirs of the peerless Scott, now in course of publication, have been constructed upon the basis of the mighty minstrel's own letters. And it is upon the same principle that the author has quoted so largely from the letters and speeches of Joseph Brant, and several of his distinguished correspondents; among whom, the reader who has only heard of "the monster Brant" as a savage once leading the Mohawks abroad upon scalping parties, will probably be surprised to learn, were numbered many gentlemen of rank and standing in Church and State, both in England and America.

An able English writer [FN] has recently opened a very interesting discussion, upon the great advantages of thus using letters and manuscripts in the composition of history. Speaking of the maxim that "history is philosophy teaching by example," he remarks:—"In morals, all depends upon circumstances. An example, whether real or fictitious, can teach us nothing, if it contains only dry facts. The mischief of a great many histories, and those of no mean account, is, that they are quite contented with giving an agreeable narration of naked facts, from which we can gather nothing beyond the facts themselves. To the chronicler, the murder of Thomas A' Becket is the murder of Becket, and it is nothing more. To what quarter, then, are we to look for the magic by which we may make the dry bones live again? We answer, unhesitatingly, to the letters of the day, if there be any. We say so, not because they will contain any elaborate description of the feelings, or expose' of the views, of the age to which they belong, but because they must be written, to a great extent, in the spirit of the age in which their writers lived. The events of the day—the writers' feelings toward their neighbours, and their neighbours' feelings toward them—their comments on the ordinary course of things around them; these are precious records for all who wish to study mankind and morals in history; for these things, and these alone, can enable us fully to appreciate the temper and spirit in which the acts commemorated in history were done. . . . It is very true that some historians profess to use letters, and that some have actually used them in a small degree; but, considering their great value, they have never been used as they deserved; and, in very many cases, their existence seems to be hardly known to historians themselves." It is in accordance with these views, that letters and speeches have been so copiously used in the present work; although it is not supposed that the correspondence of a burly chieftain of the forest, or the bluff partisan officers of a wilderness border, can in any respect be compared with Cowper's polished models of epistolary writing, or with those of Scott or Byron, or those of Lady Mary Wortley Montague, of Peter of Blois or John of Salisbury. They are nevertheless valuable in themselves, both as historical records and as illustrations of character. Of the speeches, and sketches of speeches, embodied in this work, together with the narratives given of the occasions which called them forth, it may be added that they are all memorials of a people,—once a noble race—numerous and powerful—now fast disappearing from the face of the earth—a beautiful portion of the earth—once their own! These memorials it was one of the chief purposes of the author to gather up and preserve.


[FN] London Quarterly Review, No. cxvi.—Art. on Upcott's Collection of Original Letters, Manuscripts, and State Papers.

The plan of the work, especially of the first and larger portion of it, may perhaps in some respects disappoint the reader, though, it is hoped, not unfavourably. It has been the object of the author to render it not only a local, but, to a certain extent, a brief general history of the War of the Revolution. Thus, while it is a particular history, ample in its details, of the belligerent events occurring at the west of Albany, the author has from time to time introduced brief sketches of contemporaneous events occurring in other parts of the country. By this means, bird's-eye glimpses have been presented, for the most part in the proper order of time, of all the principal military operations of the whole contest. In order, moreover, to the better understanding of the incipient revolutionary movements in the Mohawk country, (then Tryon County,) a rapid view is given of the same description of movements elsewhere. The proceedings of that county were, of course, connected with, and dependent upon, those of New England, especially of Boston—the head, and heart, and soul of the rebellion, in its origin and its earlier stages. Hence a summary review of the measures directly, though by degrees, leading to the revolt of the Colonies, has not been deemed out of place, in its proper chronological position. And as all the Indian history of the Revolutionary war at the north, the west, and the south, has been written out in full, by the incidental sketches of other events and campaigns marking the contest, the work may be considered in the three-fold view of local, general, and biographical; the whole somewhat relieved, from time to time, if not enlivened, by individual narratives—tales of captivity and suffering—of daring adventures and bold exploits.

Several weeks after the preceding pages had been stereotyped, but before any considerable progress had been made in printing the body of the work, the author was so fortunate as to obtain a large accession of valuable materials from General Peter Gansevoort, of Albany, embracing the extensive correspondence of his father, the late General Gansevoort, better known in history as "the hero of Fort Stanwix." These papers, embracing those captured by him from the British General St. Leger, have been found of great importance in the progress of the work, and will add materially to its completeness and its value.

A few words respecting the embellishments of these volumes. The frontispiece of each volume presents an elegantly engraved portrait of the brave and wary Mohawk, who forms the principal biographical figure of the work, taken at different periods of his life. The Chief sat for his picture several times in England; once, at the request of Boswell, in 1776, but to what artist is not mentioned. He likewise sat, during the same visit, to the celebrated portrait and historical painter, George Romney, for the Earl of Warwick. He was again painted in England, in 1786, for the Duke of Northumberland; and a fourth time, during the same visit, in order to present his likeness in miniature to his eldest daughter. His last sitting was to the late Mr. Ezra Ames of Albany, at the request of the late John Caldwell, Esq. of that city. This was about the year 1805, and the likeness is pronounced the best ever taken of Captain Brant. The author's valued friend Catlin has made a very faithful copy of this portrait, which has been beautifully engraved by Mr. A. Dick, a well-known and skillful artist of New-York. This picture, as latest in the order of time, will be found at the head of the second volume. The inscription of this plate is a facsimile of the old chief's signature, from a letter written by him to the Duke of Northumberland not long before his death. The author has another picture of the elder Brant, of which he may be pardoned for giving some account. Being at Catskill, in the Summer of 1833, the author discovered, in the possession of his friend, Mr. Van Bergen, some odd volumes of the London Magazine of 1776, in one of which he accidentally found an engraving of Brant, from the portrait taken for Boswell, in the gala costume of the Chief as he appeared at Court. The countenance of this picture, however, was dull, and comparatively unmeaning. On his visit to Upper Canada, in September, 1836, the chieftain's daughter, Mrs. Kerr, showed him a head of her father in a gold locket, which was full of character and energy—with an eye like the eagle's. Having procured this locket, and placed it, together with the engraving referred to, in the hands of Mr. N. Rogers, that eminent artist has produced a very spirited and beautiful picture, which was painted expressly to be engraved for this work. Before it was placed in the hands of the artist, however, Mr. Chapman, an artist of New-York, returning from a visit to England, brought with him a superb print of Brant, taken from the Earl of Warwick's picture by Romney. As this print not only presents more of the figure of the chief than either of the others, and possesses withal more character and spirit, it has been adopted for the work in lieu of that painted by Mr. Rogers. The engraving has also been well executed by Dick, and stands in front of the first volume. The picture by Catlin is the war-chief of the forest in the full maturity of years. The other is the Indian courtier in London. This first volume also contains a finely engraved portrait of General Gansevoort, by Prudhomme, from a portrait by Stuart. It is a fine specimen of the gentleman of the Revolutionary era.

But these are not all the pictorial illustrations. In the completion of the life of Brant, it has been deemed proper to add some account of his family subsequent to his decease. The law of official inheritance among the Six Nations will be found peculiar to that people, the descent being through the female line. Joseph Brant was himself the principal War-chief of the Six Nations; and his third wife, who at his decease was left a young widow, was, in her own right, the representative of the sovereignty of the Confederacy, in whom alone was vested the power of naming, from among her own children, or, in default of a child of her own, from the next of kin, a principal civil and military chief. On the death of her husband, therefore, she selected as his successor her youngest son, John Brant, then a lad of seven years old. He grew up a noble fellow, both in courage and character, as the reader will ascertain before he closes the second volume. During the author's visit to the Brant House in Upper Canada, he saw a portrait of the young chief, then recently deceased, which, though painted by a country artist, and, as a whole, a very bad picture, was nevertheless pronounced by Mr. and Mrs. Kerr to be very correct, so far as the figure and likeness were concerned. Obtaining this portrait from Canada last Autumn, it was placed in the hands of Mr. Hoxie, who has produced the excellent picture which has been well engraved by Mr. Parker, and will be found in the second volume. As the young chief went first upon the war-path in the Niagara campaigns of 1812-15, the idea of embodying a section of the great cataract in the back-ground of the picture was exceedingly appropriate.

As the name of the celebrated Red Jacket appears frequently in the second volume, a likeness of him has been added, from a painting by Weir, beautifully engraved by Hatch. In addition to all which is the finely engraved title-page, designed, engraved, and presented to the author, by his estimable friend Mr. A. Rawdon.

In addition to these illustrations, another has been added, the character of which is striking and its history curious. It is the sketch of a scene at a conference with the Indians at Buffalo Creek, in the year 1793, held by Beverley Randolph, General Benjamin Lincoln, and Colonel Timothy Pickering, in the presence of a number of the British officers then stationed upon that frontier. Messrs. Randolph, Lincoln, and Pickering were on a pacific mission, accompanied, at the request of the Indians, by a number of Quakers. The sketch of that conference was drawn by a British officer, Col. Pilkington, and taken to Europe. In 1819 it was presented to an American gentleman of the name of Henry, at Gibraltar, and by him given to the Massachusetts Historical Society. The sketch is drawn with the taste and science of a master of the art; the grouping is fine, and the likenesses are excellent. As the history of the mission of those gentleman forms an interesting chapter in the present work, this sketch has been deemed an appropriate accompaniment.

In addition to the acknowledgments already made in the preceding pages, the author is under obligations, to a greater or less extent, to many other individuals, for hints, suggestions, and the collection of materials. Among these he takes pleasure in naming the Hon. Lewis Cass, late Secretary of War, and now Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary near the Court of St. Cloud; General Dix, Secretary of the State of New-York, and Mr. Archibald Campbell, his deputy; General Morgan Lewis; Major James Cochran, of Oswego, and also his Lady, who was the youngest daughter of General Schuyler; Major William Popham, who was an aid-de-camp to General James Clinton; Samuel S. Lush, Esq., and S. De Witt Bloodgood, Esq. of Albany; James D. Bemis, Esq. of Canandaigua; Lauren Ford and George H. Feeter, Esquires, of Little Falls; Giles F. Yates, Esq. of Schenectady; William Forsyth, Esq. of Quebec; and the Rev. Mr. Lape, formerly of Johnstown, and now of Athens, N. Y.

With these preliminary explanations, the work is committed to the public, in the belief that, although it might, of course, have been better executed by an abler hand with a mind less distracted by other pressing and important duties, it will, nevertheless, be found a substantial addition to the stock of American history.

WILLIAM L. STONE. New-York, March, 1838.




LIFE OF BRANT.




LIFE

OF

JOSEPH BRANT—THAYENDANEGEA, &c.




CHAPTER I.


Birth and parentage—Discussion of the doubts cast upon his origin—Visit of Mohawk chiefs to Queen Anne—Evidence of Brant's descent from one of those—Digression from the main subject, and Extracts from the private and official journals of Sir William Johnson—Connexion between Sir William and the family of Brant—Incidental references to the old French war—Illustrations of Indian proceedings, speeches, &c.—Brant's parentage satisfactorily established—Takes the field in the Campaign of Lake George (1765.)—Is engaged at the conquest of Niagara (1759.)—Efforts of Sir William Johnson to civilize the Indians—Brant is sent, with other Indian youths, to the Moor Charity School, at Lebanon—Leaves school—Anecdote—Is engaged on public business by Sir William—As an Interpreter for the Missionaries—Again takes the field, in the wars against Pontiac—Intended massacre at Detroit—Ultimate overthrow of Pontiac—First marriage of Brant—Entertains the Missionaries—Again employed on public business—Death of his wife—Engages with Mr. Stewart in translating the Scriptures—Marries again—Has serious religious impressions—Selects a bosom friend and confidant, after the Indian custom—Death of his friend—His grief, and refusal to choose another friend.

The birth and parentage of Joseph Brant, or, more correctly, of Thayendanegea—for such was his real name—have been involved in uncertainty, by the conflicting accounts that have been published concerning him. The Indians have no herald's college in which the lineage of their great men can be traced, or parish registers of marriages and births, by which a son can ascertain his paternity. Ancestral glory and shame are therefore only reflected darkly through the dim twilight of tradition. By some authors, Thayendanegea has been called a half-breed. By others he has been pronounced a Shawanese by parentage, and only a Mohawk by adoption. Some historians have spoken of him as a son of Sir William Johnson; [FN] while others again have allowed him the honour of Mohawk blood, but denied that he was descended from a chief.


[FN] Several authors have suggested that Brant was the son of the Baronet. Drake, in his useful compilation, "The Book of the Indians," states that he had been so informed by no less an authority than Jared Sparks. Drake himself calls him an Onondaga of the Mohawk Tribe!

Nearly twenty years ago, a brief account of the life and character of this remarkable man was published in the Christian Recorder, at Kingston, in the province of Upper Canada. In that memoir it was stated that Thayendanegea was born on the banks of the Ohio, whither his parents had emigrated from the valley of the Mohawk, and where they are said to have sojourned several years. "His mother at length returned with two children—Mary, who lived with Sir William Johnson, and Joseph, the subject of this memoir. Nothing was known of Brant's father among the Mohawks. Soon after the return of this family to Canajoharie, the mother married a respectable Indian called Carrihogo, or News-Carrier, whose Christian name was Barnet or Bernard; but, by way of contraction, he went by the name of Brant." Hence it is argued that the lad, who was in future to become not only a distinguished war-chief, but a statesman, and the associate of the chivalry and nobility of England, having thus been introduced into the family of that name, was first known by the distinctive appellation of "Brant's Joseph" and in process of time, by inversion, "Joseph Brant." [FN]


[FN] Christian Register, 1819, Vol. I. No. 3, published at Kingston, (U. C.) and edited by the Rev. Doctor, now the Honourable and Venerable Archdeacon Strachan, of Toronto. The sketches referred to were written by Dr. Strachan, upon information received by him many years before, from the Rev. Dr. Stewart, formerly a missionary in the Mohawk Valley, and father of the present Archdeacon Stewart of Kingston.

There is an approximation to the truth in this relation, and it is in part sustained by the existing family tradition. The facts are these: the Six Nations had carried their arms far to the west and south, and the whole country south of the lakes was claimed by them, to a certain extent of supervisory jurisdiction, by the right of conquest. To the Ohio and Sandusky country they asserted a stronger and more peremptory claim, extending to the right of soil—at least on the lake shore as far as Presque Isle. From their associations in that country, it had become usual among the Six Nations, especially the Mohawks, to make temporary removals to the west during the hunting seasons, and one or more of those families would frequently remain abroad, among the Miamis, the Hurons, and Wyandots, for a longer or shorter period, as they chose. One of the consequences of this intercommunication, was the numerous family alliances existing between the Six Nations and others at the west—the Wyandots, in particular.

It was while his parents were abroad upon one of those hunting excursions, that Thayendanegea was born, in the year 1742, on the banks of the Ohio. The home of his family was at the Canajoharie Castle—the central of the three Castles of the Mohawks, in their native valley. His father's name was Tehowaghwengaraghkwin, a full-blooded Mohawk of the Wolf Tribe. [FN] Thayendanegea was very young when his father died. His mother married a second time to a Mohawk; and the family tradition at present, is, that the name of Brant was acquired in the manner assumed by the publication already cited. There is reason to doubt the accuracy of this tradition, however, since it is believed that there was an Indian family, of some consequence and extent, bearing the English name of Brant. Indeed, from the extracts presently to be introduced from the recently discovered manuscripts of Sir William Johnson, it may be questioned whether Tehowaghwengaraghkwin, and an old chief, called by Sir William sometimes Brant, and at others Nickus Brant, were not one and the same person.


[FN] Each of the original Five Nations was divided into three tribes—the Tortoise, the Bear, and the Wolf. The subject of the present memoir was of the latter. According to David Cusick, a Tuscarora, who has written a tract respecting the history of the ancient Five Nations, the laws of the confederation required that the Onondagas should provide the King, and the Mohawks a great War-Chief.

The denial that he was a born chief, is likewise believed to be incorrect. It is very true, that among the Six Nations, chieftainship was not necessarily obtained by inheritance. But in regard to Thayendanegea, there is no doubt that he was of noble blood. The London Magazine for July, 1776, contains a sketch of him, probably furnished by Boswell, with whom he was intimate during his first visit to England in 1775-'76. In that account it is affirmed as a fact without question, that he was the grandson of one of the five sachems who visited England, and excited so much attention in the British capital, in 1710, during the reign of Queen Anne. Of those chiefs, two were of the Muhhekaneew, or River Indians, and three were Mohawks—one of whom was chief of the Canajoharie clan. [FN-1] Thayendanegea was of the latter clan; and as there is reason to believe that his father was a sachem, there can be little doubt of the correctness of the London publication, in claiming for him direct descent from the Canajoharie chief who visited the British court at the time above mentioned. But there is other evidence to sustain the assumption. In the Life of the first President Wheelock, by the Rev. Messrs. McClure and Parish, it is asserted that the father of Joseph Brant "was sachem of the Mohawks, after the death of the famous King Hendrick." The intimacy for a long time existing between the family of Brant and the Wheelocks, father and sons, renders this authority, in the absence of unwritten testimony still more authentic, very good; and as Hendrick fell in 1755, when Thayendanegea was thirteen years of age, the tradition of the early death of his father, and his consequent assumption of a new name, is essentially weakened. Mrs. Grant, of Laggan, who in early life was a resident of Albany, and intimately acquainted with the domestic relations of Sir William Johnson, speaks of the sister of young Thayendanegea, who was intimately associated in the family of the Baronet, as "the daughter of a sachem." [FN-2]


[FN-1] These five sachems, or Indian kings, as they were called, were taken to England by Colonel Schuyler. Their arrival in London created a great sensation, not only in the capital, but throughout the kingdom. The populace followed them wherever they went. The Court was at that time in mourning for the death of the Prince of Denmark, and the chiefs were dressed in black under-clothes, after the English manner; but, instead of a blanket, they had each a scarlet-ingrain cloth mantle, edged with gold, thrown over all their other clothes. This dress was directed by the dressers of the play-house, and given by the Queen. A more than ordinary solemnity attended the audience they had of her Majesty. They were conducted to St. James's in two coaches by Sir Charles Cotterel, and introduced to the royal presence by the Duke of Shrewsbury, then Lord Chamberlain. [Smith's History.] Oldmixon has preserved the speech delivered by them on the occasion, and several historians record the visit. Sir Richard Steele mentions these chiefs in the Tatler of May 13, 1710, They were also made the subject of a number of the Spectator, by Addison.

[FN-2] "Memoirs of an American Lady," chap, xxxix.

In the manuscript diary of Sir William Johnson, just referred to, and of which more particular mention has been made in the Introduction, the Baronet often had occasion to speak of Brant, of Canajoharie. Sometimes he was called "Nickus Brant," and at others Aroghyadagha—but most frequently "Old Nickus," or "Old Brant." As these private journals of Sir William have never seen the light, and are curious in themselves, a few extracts will probably not be unacceptable to the reader—serving, as they will, not only to illustrate the present history, but also the character of the intercourse and relations existing between the English and the Indians, under the administration of the Indian department by that distinguished officer. A more just idea of the character and importance of the chieftain's family, may likewise be derived from a perusal of the extracts proposed to be given, exhibiting, as they do, something of the intercourse maintained between the families of the white and the red warriors.

It must be borne in mind, that the diary to which we are referring, was written in the years 1757, '58, and '59—in the midst of the old French war, ending by the conquest of Canada, in 1763. An expedition against that colony, under the conduct of Lord Loudoun, projected early in the former year, had been abandoned in consequence of his Lordship's inability to bring a sufficient number of troops into the field, to meet the heavy reinforcements sent over that year from France. Meantime the Marquis de Montcalm, with an army of 9000 men, had advanced through Lake George, and carried Fort William Henry—the siege of which was followed by a frightful massacre—and was then threatening Fort Edward and the settlements on the Hudson; while at the west, the French, with their Indian allies, were continually threatening an invasion by the way of Oswego; and by their scouts and scalping parties, were vexing the German settlements on the Upper Mohawk, and continually harassing the Six Nations—or Iroquois—ever the objects of French hostility. In this state of things, it required the utmost activity on the part of Sir William Johnson, his officers and Indian allies, to keep themselves well informed as to the actual or intended movements of their subtle enemies. There was therefore constant employment, until the close of the year, for Indian scouts and messengers, throughout the whole wilderness country from Lake Champlain to Niagara, and Fort Du Quesne, on the Ohio. With this explanation we proceed to the diary:

"1757.—Nov. 4. Canadiorha, alias Nickus Brant's son, who was in quest after De Conagne as far as Oneida, came here (Fort Johnson), and said he inquired what news was stirring among the Oneidas. One of the sachems told him the same piece of news Ogaghte brought some days since, about the French intending to stop the powder from the Six Nations,—building a fort near Chennessio, &c.—that it made a great noise among the nations, and gave them uneasiness; wherefore they were assembling often at Chennessio, and keeping (holding) often great councils among themselves how to act in this affair of last moment. He further was told at Oneida, that but two days ago the Six Nations received a message from the Twightwees (Miamies), letting their brethren of the Six Nations know that they had heard of the insolent attempt of the French, of destroying the Six Nations; and that after the many provocations the French gave them, in stirring them up to war against the English, &c. they were now resolved to turn the hatchet against the French, and resolved to pass the Six Nations' country in their way to war. They expected not to be delayed, but to be immediately joined by the warriors of the Six Nations, and to proceed toward Canada. He also said he heard the foreign (distant) nations complain very much for want of trade with the English; and Tahaddy, a Chenundidie chief, said that he was stopped by the French to sell his fur at Cataraghqui, and that he got not the half quantity of goods that he could (have) got from the English, and that he intended to keep his furs for the future, and in the Spring to go with them to Albany, and at the same time to intercede with Sir William in behalf of all the western nations, to grant them a trade again—and further Canadiorha said not."

In the next extract it will be seen that Sir William speaks of Brant as a "sachem." Of course it could be none other than the elder, or "Old Brant," at the time; as Joseph was not then more than sixteen years old.

"1758—April 15th. Sir William set out for Canajoharie, and took with him Captains Johnson,[FN-1] Fonda, and Jacobus Clement, in order to settle some matters with the Indians of that castle. He arrived that night." [FN-2]


[FN-1] Guy Johnson, his son-in-law.

[FN-2] This entry is not in the hand-writing of Sir William, but of a certain "P. W." who was his private secretary,

"April 16th. He delivered a string of wampum to Brant and Paulus, two sachems, desiring them to call all their people out of the woods to attend a meeting he proposed the next day with them, at which he should let them know General Abercrombie's pleasure, and his own inclination and advice—also what passed between him and the several nations, who of late had had several meetings with him."

Preparations were now making for a more formidable and vigorous campaign, under General Abercrombie, who had succeeded Lord Loudoun. His object was an attack upon Ticonderoga, and, if successful, a descent upon Crown Point and Montreal. The French in Canada were of course making corresponding exertions to repel the expected invasion. With a view of creating a diversion, by annoying the colony of New-York from another quarter, they were said to be preparing to invade the Mohawk Valley, by the way of Oswego and Fort Stanwix. A party of their Indians had made a bold irruption, toward the close of April, upon Burnetsfield, on the south side of the Mohawk, and destroyed the entire settlement—massacreing men, women, and children—thirty-three in number—being the whole population save two persons. There had likewise been outrages at the German Flats, where several Indians had been killed by the inhabitants. The militia were promptly ordered into the field, to rendezvous at Canajoharie, whither Sir William repaired on the 4th of May, to lead them against the enemy—reported on the same day to be in force at the great carrying place (Fort Stanwix.)

Meantime it was well known that the French had left no means untried, to seduce the five westernmost tribes of the Six Nations from their allegiance to the English. They had long had their Jesuit priests among the Oneidas, Onondagas, &c.; and a variety of circumstances had occurred to induce the Mohawks to distrust their brethren of the other tribes. Under these circumstances, Sir William received the invitation thus noted in his diary:—

"April 4th. Sir William having had an invitation from the Six Nations to attend a grand meeting to be held at Onondaga within a few days hence, where he intends to proceed, in case the last alarm should prove groundless."

The Baronet arrived at Canajoharie in the evening, and attended a dance of the young warriors, having the scalp of one of the hostile Indians engaged in the recent irruption, who had been killed at the German Flats. He is thus spoken of in the diary—in the hand-writing of Sir William's secretary.

"The body of Otqueandageghte, an Onondaga warrior, who lived for some years at Swegachy, and formerly a mate of Sir William's, was found. His name was engraved on the handle (of his knife), and how often he had been to war, together with this inscription—'Otqueandageghte le Camera de Jeanson.'"

Sir William was highly respected by the Six Nations, and by the Mohawks in particular was greatly beloved. This affection was not only manifested by their actions, but often in their speeches, at their councils, and in their concern for his welfare when sick, and for his safety when in the field. [FN] Such being their feelings toward the Baronet, they were reluctant, under existing circumstances, to allow him to place himself in the power of the Indians about to assemble at the Great Council Fire at Onondaga. They were likewise apprehensive that he might incur danger from some of the scalping parties of the French. These explanations will render the following extracts from the diary intelligible:—


[FN] To this point, at the close of a council, Sir William says—"When I drank to them at parting, they in return drank my health, and thanked God I had recovered my late illness. They then all said that it was happy I did not die then; for, said they, 'had you died, we and the English would get by the ears very soon, we see; and we fear it will be the case when you die or leave us.'" Again, at another council the chiefs commenced their speech:—

"Brother, We are extremely glad to see you so well recovered of your late very dangerous illness, and thank the Great Spirit above for it. Had you been taken away from us that time, our case would have been melancholy, and our situation extremely precarious. It will be so, we fear, whenever we lose you."

Diary, Jan. 14-19, 1758.

"May 5th. Sir William having no further accounts of the enemy's appearance, sent a scout of two Mohawks, two Canajoharies, and a white man, to go as far as Wood Creek and the Oneida Lake, in order to obtain the certainty of the alarm. About noon all the women of the chief men of this castle met at Sir William's lodging, and brought with them several of the sachems, who acquainted Sir William that they had something to say to him in the name of their chief women.

"Old Nickus (Brant) being appointed speaker, opened his discourse with condoling with Sir William for the losses his people had sustained, and then proceeded:—

"Brother, we understand you intend to go to a meeting to Onondaga; we can't help speaking with this belt of wampum to you, and giving our sentiments on your intended journey. In the first place we think it quite contrary to the customs of any Governors or Superintendent of Indian affairs being called to Onondaga upon public business, as the council fire which burns there serves only for private consultations of the confederacy; and when matters are concluded and resolved upon there, the confederacy are to set out for the great fire place which is at your house, and there deliver their conclusion. In the next place we are almost convinced that the invitation is illegal, and not agreed upon or desired by the confederacy, but only the Qneidas—which gives us the more reason to be uneasy about your going, as it looks very suspicious. Did not they tell you, when they invited you, the road of friendship was clear, and every obstacle removed that was in before? They scarce uttered it, and the cruelties were committed at the German Flats, where the remainder of our poor brethren were butchered by the enemy's Indians. Is this a clear road of peace and friendship? Would not you be obliged to wade all the way in the blood of the poor innocent men, women, and children who were murdered after being taken?

"Brother, by this belt of wampum, we, the women, surround and hang about you like little children, who are crying at their parents' going from them, for fear of their never returning again to give them suck; and we earnestly beg you will give ear to our request, and desist from your journey. We flatter ourselves you will look upon this our speech, and take the same notice of it as all our men do, who, when they are addressed by the women, and desired to desist from any rash enterprise, they immediately give way, when, before, every body else tried to dissuade them from it, and could not prevail."

Gave the Belt.

"Canajoharie, May 7th. This afternoon Sir William had a meeting with the chief women of this castle, and returned them thanks for their condolence of the 5th instant. At the same time he condoled with them for the loss of one of the tribe of the Bear, that belonged to the chief of that tribe, with a stroud blanket, a shirt, and stockings."

A string of Wampum.

"Sir William told them that he would answer their speech concerning his journey, when the messengers who had gone to Oneida came back. He also made private presents to a few of the head women of each tribe, with a blanket and shirt each."

"May 10th. This afternoon Sir William returned his answer to the speech of the chief women of this castle, made to him on the 5th instant, which is as follows:—

"Dyattego, your tender and affectionate speech, made some days ago, I have considered, and thereupon have dispatched messengers to Oneida, in order to inquire how things stand there after what happened at the German Flats, and whether my presence at the meeting would be still necessary. These messengers are returned, and I find by them that the sachems of Oneida likewise disapprove my proceeding any farther, for sundry reasons they give in their reply. Wherefore I shall comply with your request to return, and heartily thank you for the great tenderness and love expressed for me in your speech."

Returned their Belt.

The next entry in which the name of Nickus Brant occurs, is under date of November 18th, 1758—in which he is called the chief sachem of Canajoharie. He must also have been a man of trust and consequence, as he had then just returned from an important mission to a great Indian council in Pennsylvania.

"Fort Johnson, Nov. 18, 1758. Nickus, chief sachem of Canajoharie, arrived from the meeting at Easton, and in the presence of the Belt, a Seneca chief, several more of said nation, the Red Head, and some more Onondagoes, showed me all the belts which passed between the Governors of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and these several nations of Indians there assembled, with the purport of them, which I need not insert here."

An important land negotiation had taken place at the council at Easton, by which the agents of Penn had agreed to release to the Six Nations, certain territories purchased of them at Albany in 1754—but which sale gave dissatisfaction to the tribes. Nickus desired Sir William to communicate this information to the Indians, on their return from hunting; and Sir William enjoined it upon Nickus to put an end to the irregularities of his tribe, and the mischief they were doing to the property; as "such barbarism must be productive of very fatal consequences."

The Diary says:—"He told me it was with the utmost concern he had heard what I had told him, and assured me he would endeavour all in his power to restrain them, and try to bring them to proper order; but doubted of success while there was such a flood of rum in the country, which alone occasioned them to commit such irregularities, and which, if not prevented, must inevitably destroy them all in a little time." [FN]


[FN] The introduction and pernicious effects of ardent spirits among the Indians were a frequent subject of complaint, even at that early day, of which Sir William's memoranda, and the records of Indian speeches to him, afford repeated proofs.

On the 18th of January, 1759, Sir William held a conference at Canajoharie Castle with the Mohawk and Seneca chiefs. After condoling with them for their losses by sickness, with three strings of wampum, and for their losses by the war with a like number of strings, he addressed them as follows:—

"Brethren of the two Mohawk Castles and Senecas: I take the first opportunity of acquainting you that His Majesty has been pleased to appoint Lieutenant General Amherst, Commander in Chief of all his forces in North America, in the room of Lieutenant General Abercrombie, who is called home. Also that the General has, by letter, desired I would use my utmost endeavours to get as great a number of our brethren, the Six Nations, to join him early next Spring against our common enemy, as I possibly can. This I shall endeavour to do, and would be glad of your advice and assistance therein, which by this belt of wampum I desire you, as our steady friends, will afford me.

"A Belt.

"Brethren: As you are all acquainted with the late cruel and unprecedented murder of John McMichael, one of our people, by a Cayouga [FN] Indian near Fort Stanwix, whom he employed to escort him to Fort Herkimer, I shall not repeat the disagreeable circumstances to you, as I am sensible it affects you as well as me. I would now only ask your opinion what are the proper steps to be taken in the affair, as it will always have great weight with me.

"Three Strings."


[FN] Always spelt thus by Sir William Johnson.

"Brethren: I lately received these strings of wampum from the Oneidas by Captain Fonda, by which they say I am invited to a meeting proposed to be held soon at Onondaga, where you are also desired to attend. I am ready and willing to go if you think it will be for the good of the service. At the same time I must observe to you, that I think it an unprecedented manner of inviting either you or me, without some of the Onondagas coming down with it as usual. I nevertheless submit to your judgment, as being better acquainted with their forms, and expect you will give it me, as well as your opinion of the proper steps for me to take, in order to get what prisoners of ours may be among the nations."

Three Strings.

"Do. Die. Tarrawarriax, and another Seneca sachem, came to Sir William, at Brant's house, and told him, &c.

"January 19. The sachems, &c. being met at their council room, sent to acquaint Sir William that they were ready to answer to what he the day before had laid before them. On which he, with the same gentlemen who attended him yesterday, went to the meeting, when Aroghyadecka, alias Old Brant, chief of the Canajoharies, spoke as follows:—

"Brother Warraghiysgey [FN]—We are much obliged to you for giving us so timely notice of the General's desire and intentions, and we hope and wish that he may be ready to take the field very early, which in our opinion is what should always be done. You may depend upon our attachment and assistance; being determined, as we declared to you at the beginning of this war, to stand or fall with you. And as you desired our opinion with regard to the Six Nations, we have considered of it, and think it best that you call their sachems, chief warriors, and leading women, down to your house as soon as may be, where we shall be ready to attend and assist you all in our power.

"Returned the Belt."


[FN] The name which the Indians had conferred upon Sir William, and by which he was almost invariably addressed.

"Brother: The late murder of one of our brethren near the carrying place, by one of the Upper nations in the French interest, gives us great concern, and think he ought to be severely punished for it. But as we hope the Six Nations may now act a better part than they have hitherto, we would advise you not to say any thing about it until they come to the meeting at your house, and then we think the milder you speak to them, the better, at this time. And this is our opinion.

"Returned three Strings.

"Brother: As for the strings of wampum lately sent by the Oneidas, to invite you and us to a meeting at Onondaga, we think with you that it was not according to our ancient and usual custom, nor was it even a proper invitation. We are of opinion that your inviting them all to your house is much better and more in character. Wherefore we would be very glad if you would give them an invitation, and at the same time to send some strings of wampum, desiring they would bring what prisoners of our brethren may be among them.

"Three Strings of Wampum.

"Brother: We return you our hearty thanks for the confidence you repose in us, and be assured we shall ever study to act so as to continue your good opinion of us. We are also thankful to you for the good news you yesterday told us, and we heartily congratulate you thereon, and hope further success may attend the King's arms."

The course suggested by the chiefs was adopted by Sir William, and messengers, with the usual significant belts, were forthwith dispatched to the Cayugas and Onondagas. It was attended by the best results, as appears from subsequent entries in the Diary. Mr. McMichael, who had been murdered by the recreant Cayuga, was a trader of note, and the peculiar atrocity of his murder had created a deep feeling of indignation, for which the circumstances of treachery and duplicity stated in the official report from the commanding officer at Fort Stanwix to Sir William, were a full warrant. The Cayugas lost no time in manifesting their sorrow and detestation of the crime, as will be seen from the following extract from the Baronet's journal: [FN]


[FN] The author is of course aware that this is a digression from his main subject; but the incident is an interesting one, and the speech of the Cayugas worthy of preservation for its simple pathos, and also as an illustration of Indian character, Mr. McMichael's family are yet among the most respectable residents of Schenectady.

"Fort Johnson, Feb. 5. Skanarady, Teughsaragarat, and Ottawannio, three chiefs of the Cayuga nation, arrived here with several more, and after being introduced by Clement, the interpreter, began and said:

"Brother Warraghiyagey: The unhappy murder of one of our brethren near the Oneida carrying place, is the occasion of our coming down at this severe season of the year. Our nation would not be at rest, nor easy, until they had spoke to you about it. We now, in their behalf, wipe away the tears from your eyes, so that you may look pleasant at us. We likewise remove all obstructions, and clear your throat, so that you may speak clear and friendly to us. Lastly, we wipe away the blood of our brother, lately killed near the carrying place, that the sight of it may no longer give us concern.

"Three Strings of Wampum.

"Sir William told them that he would be ready the next morning to hear what they had further to say, and would desire his neighbours, the Mohawks, to attend.

"Wednesday, Feb. 6. About twenty Mohawks arrived. The Cayugas being acquainted that Sir William was ready, with the Mohawks and two Onondagoes, to hear them, they entered the Council, and Skanarady spoke as follows:

"Brother Warraghiyagey: On our arrival yesterday we wiped the tears from your eyes, and we now, agreeable to the custom of our forefathers, take the French hatchet, (which they gave to one of our foolish, deluded young men, giving him great rewards, and making him large promises if he would use it against our brethren the English,) out of your head, and bury it in a deep pool, where it can never be found; also, with this belt of wampum we assure you that it gives our nation as much concern as it can you, and promise the greatest care shall be taken to prevent the like happening for the future.

"A Black and White Belt.

"Brother: With this belt we cover his grave, that the sight of it may no longer give you or us concern.

"A White Belt.

"Brother: With these strings we raise up your head, now hanging down with concern for the loss of one of our brethren, and beg you will no longer keep sorrow in your mind

"Three Strings of Wampum.

"Brother: Lastly, we most earnestly entreat that you will not, for what has happened, neglect the management of our affairs, as your neglect of them at any, but more particularly at this, time, must render us unhappy, and throw the confederacy into confusion.

"A Belt of Black and White."

To which Sir William replied:—

"Brethren of Cayuga: I have heard what you have by these belts said, and only now tell you that I shall defer entering into the affair until the Five Nations are met, which I expect will be soon, as I have invited them all here. Then you and they will hear what I have to say on the subject, and your belts shall be laid by safe until then."

On the 11th of February, Sir William proceeded to Canajoharie, at which place he had invited a meeting of the chiefs and warriors of the Mohawks. The occasion, and the proceedings, will be understood from the annexed extract:—

"Monday, Feb. 12—8 at night. Being all assembled, Sir William told them that the reason of his coming to their castle was to get a number of their briskest men to join Captain Lotteridge, and some of the Mohawks and Schoharies, on a scout to Tienderago, [FN] or Crown Point, in order to see what the enemy was about, and get him a prisoner from whom he might be able to get better intelligence than the General daily receives, and which would enable the General to take proper measures for the defence of the country until the opening of the campaign,—and that they would be ready in two days to set off for his house, where they would be supplied with every thing necessary for such service.

"A painted War-Belt thrown between them."


[FN] Ticonderoga—always spelled thus by Sir William Johnson.

No sooner was the belt cast among them, than Sonughsas, a chief of the Bear tribe, arose, took the belt in his hand, and sang his war-song, and was followed by several more of each tribe. Then Aroghigadecka, the chief sachem of the castle, stood up and said:—

"Brother Warraghiyagey: We, the sachems and warriors of the Canajoharie castle immediately quit our hunting on your call, and made all the haste possible to meet you here, where we are all heartily glad to see you; and in answer to your desire, without any hesitation, I am desired by the young men present to tell you they will be ready to go with Captain Lotteridge, and the Mohawks, &c. on the service you require, and we have no reason to doubt you will (in their absence) take care of their families, who are extremely poor and in great want of provisions.

"Here returned the War-Belt.

"Sir William thanked them for the readiness they showed on the occasion, and told them he would give their families some provisions in their absence, or money to purchase it, so that they should not suffer. He then gave them an entertainment, as usual on such occasions, and parted. He left that castle Tuesday morning, and arrived at Fort Johnson that night."

The next mention of the Brants contained in the broken manuscripts of Sir William, is found in the private journal kept by him of his tour to Detroit in 1761, after the surrender of the Canadas. The duty then devolved upon Sir William of meeting the upper Indians around the great Lakes, previously under the influence, and many of them in the service, of the French, in Grand Council at Detroit,—to establish friendly relations with them, and receive a transfer of that quasi allegiance which the Indians have generally acknowledged to the whites, French, English, or American. In addition to his own immediate suite, among whom was his son, Lieutenant Johnson, (afterward Sir John,) he was attended on the expedition by a detachment of troops, and a band of the Mohawk warriors. While at Niagara, [FN] Sir William notes:


[FN] The author has already acknowledged his indebtedness to Archibald Johnson, Esq., of Lower Canada, for the original of this very interesting journal, which it is hoped will be of greater use in another work.

"Monday, August 10. Nickus, [FN] of Canajoharie, an Indian, arrived here, and acquainted me that several of his castle had died of malignant fever; and that all Brant's family were ill of the same disorder, except the old woman. He also told me that he had heard by the way from several Indians, that I was to be destroyed or murdered on my way to Detroit; and that the Indians were certainly determined to rise and fall on the English, as several thousands of the Ottaways and other nations had agreed to join the Five Nations in this scheme or plot."


[FN] Nickus Hance—another name and a different person from Nickus Brant, of this Nickus, repeated mention is made in Sir William's previous official diaries. The following quotations are given as curious illustrations of Indian customs:

"Fort Johnson, May 22, 1757. Sir William spoke with Nickus Hance, alias Taicarihogo, a Canajoharie chief, who came to see him, and told him, that as he was much concerned for the loss of his (said Hance's) mother, who lately died, that he expected he would remove his concern by going to war, and bringing either a prisoner or a scalp to put in her room, or stead, as is usual among Indians. Upon this Sir William gave him a very fine black belt to enforce his request. Taicarihogo returned Sir William thanks for the concern he shared for the loss of his mother, accepted the belt, and promised he would, on his return home, call his young men together, and lay Sir William's belt and request before them." [The giving of a belt in this way, was a sort of commission to make up a scalping party against the forces or the settlements of the enemy.—Author.]

Of a similar character is the following extract from the Diary:

"Albany, May 18, 1758. Capt. Jacob Head, of a Company of Stockbridge Indians, brought to Sir William's lodgings four French scalps, which his cousin, chief of another company of said Indians, had taken from the enemy some few days before, and the aforesaid Jacob spoke as follows:

"Brother Warraghiyagey: This scalp (the one with a black belt tied to it painted) I desire maybe delivered to my wife's uncle, old Nickus, of Canajoharie, to replace her mother, who was his sister.

"This scalp, (meaning another upon the same stick, with a bunch of black wampum tied to it,) I send to the aforesaid man to replace Eusenia, who was Taraghyorie's wife.

"This scalp, (meaning a scalp by itself on a stick, with a bunch of black wampum,) my cousin, Captain Jacob, gives to replace old King Hendrick, of Canajoharie. [Killed in 1755, at the battle of Lake George.—Author.]

"This scalp, (meaning the small one tied round with a bunch of wampum,) my said cousin gives to replace Nickus's son, who was killed at the battle of the Lake under your command."

It is needless, however, to multiply citations to the point immediately in view. The object of those already made has been to clear up the doubts, if possible, and establish the fact as to the immediate ancestry of Thayendanegea, alias Joseph Brant; while, it is believed, the incidental history necessarily involved in these extracts has not been altogether devoid of interest. And although the fact is nowhere positively asserted, yet there is much reason to suppose that he was the son of Nickus Brant, whose Indian name, according to Sir William Johnson, was Aroghyadecka; but which has been furnished to the author by the family as Tehowaghwengaraghwin. It has been seen from the extracts that Nickus Brant was a Canajoharie chief of character and celebrity, between whom and Sir William a close intimacy subsisted. When called to Canajoharie upon business or pleasure, the Baronet's quarters were "at Brant's house," as noted in his own Diary. It is likewise well known, that after the decease of Lady Johnson, (an event which occurred several years antecedent to the period of which we are now writing, and before he had won his baronetcy at Lake George,) Sir William took to his home as his wife, Mary Brant, or "Miss Molly," as she was called, with whom he lived until his decease in 1774, and by whom he had several children. This circumstance is thus mentioned by Mrs. Grant in her delightful book already referred to:—"Becoming a widower in the prime of life, he connected himself with an Indian maiden, daughter to a sachem, who possessed an uncommonly agreeable person and good understanding; and whether ever formally married to him according to our usage, or not, continued to live with him in great union and affection all his life." The Baronet himself repeatedly speaks of this Indian lady in his private journals. While on his expedition to Detroit, entries occur of having received news from home, and of having written to "Molly." He always mentioned her kindly, ex gr:

"Wednesday, Oct. 21st. Met Sir Robert Davers and Captain Etherington, who gave me a packet of letters from General Amherst. . . . Captain Etherington told me Molly was delivered of a girl: that all were well at my house, where they staid two days."

But to return from these digressions. Molly, as it has already been stated, was the sister of Thayendanegea; and both, according to the account of the London Magazine of 1776, the earliest printed testimony upon the subject, were the grandchildren of one of the Mohawk chiefs who visited England half a century before. That his father was a chief, several authorities have likewise been cited to show; to which may be added that of Allen's Biographical Dictionary, where the fact is positively asserted. [FN] From such a body of testimony, therefore, direct and circumstantial, it is hazarding but very little to assume, that, so far from having been of humble and plebeian origin, according to the statement of Dr. Stewart, Joseph Brant was of the noblest descent among his nation.


[FN] President Allen is connected by marriage with the family of the late President Wheelock, and has had excellent opportunities for arriving at the probable truth.

Of the early youth of Joseph, there are no accounts, other than that he was very young when first upon the war-path. In one of the authorities to which reference has already been made, [FN-1] it is stated, that having attained the age of thirteen years, he joined the warriors of his tribe under Sir William Johnson, and was present at the memorable battle of Lake George, in which the French were defeated, and their commander, the Baron Dieskau, mortally wounded. The Mohawks were led into action by their celebrated king, the brave old Hendrick, who was slain. [FN-2] It was this victory which laid the foundation of Sir William's military fame, and in reward for which he was created a Baronet. It is reported, that in relating the particulars of this bloody engagement to Doctor Stewart, the youthful warrior acknowledged, "That this being the first action at which he was present, he was seized with such a tremor when the firing began, that he was obliged to take hold of a small sapling to steady himself; but that after the discharge of a few vollies, he recovered the use of his limbs and the composure of his mind, so as to support the character of a brave man, of which he was exceedingly ambitious." He was no doubt a warrior by nature. "I like," said he, once in after-life, when the conversation was about music, "the harpsichord well, and the organ still better; but I like the drum and trumpet best of all, for they make my heart beat quick." [FN-3]


[FN-1] Christian Register.

[FN-2] A council of war was called Sept. 8. It was proposed to send a detachment to meet the enemy. When the number was mentioned to Hendrick, he replied—"If they are to fight, they are too few; if they are to be killed, they are too many." When it was proposed to send out the detachment in three parties, Hendrick took three sticks, and said, "Put these together, and you can't break them; take them one by one, and you will do it easily." Hendrick's advice was taken, and victory was the result.—Holmes.

[FN-3] Letter of T. Campbell to Ahyonwaeghs,

President Allen states that the father of Thayendanegea had three sons in the army of Sir William Johnson in the year 1756. Of these Joseph was probably the youngest, since he was but thirteen at the battle of Lake George in 1755. A young warrior truly; but he might well have been there, even at that tender age, since, by all the accounts that have descended to us, he must have been a lad of uncommon enterprise—giving early promise of those eminent qualities, which were developed in the progress of a life of various and important action.

The youthful warrior likewise accompanied Sir William during the Niagara campaign of 1759, and in the brilliant achievements of the Baronet, after the chief command had devolved upon him by the death of General Prideaux, is said to have acquitted himself with distinguished bravery. General Prideaux, commanding the expedition, was killed by the accidental explosion of a cohorn on the 20th of July, soon after commencing the siege; but Sir William prosecuted the plan of his fallen superior with judgment and vigour. On the 24th of July Monsieur D'Aubrey approached the fortress with a strong force, for the purpose of raising the siege. A severe engagement ensued in the open field, which resulted in the triumph of the British and Provincial arms. The action was commenced with great impetuosity by the French, but Sir William was well prepared for their reception. After a spirited contest of half an hour, the French broke, and the fate of the day was decided. The flight of the French was bloody and disastrous for the space of five miles, at which distance D'Aubrey, and most of his officers, were captured. The Indians behaved uncommonly well on this occasion, and Brant was among them. On the following day, so vigorously did the Baronet prosecute his operations, the fort was taken, with all its military supplies and about six hundred prisoners. By this blow the French were cut off from their project of keeping up a line of fortified communications with Louisiana.

The exertions of Sir William Johnson to improve the moral and social condition of his Mohawk neighbours, were not the least of his praiseworthy labours among that brave and chivalrous people. Having aided in the building of churches and locating missionaries among them, at the request of the Rev. Mr. Kirkland and others, he selected numbers of young Mohawks, and caused them to be sent to the "Moor Charity School," established at Lebanon, Connecticut, under the immediate direction of the Rev. Doctor Eleazer Wheelock, afterward President of Dartmouth College, of which, by its transfer, that school became the foundation. Among the youths thus selected was young Thayendanegea, the promising brother of "Miss Molly."

The precise year in which he was thus placed under the charge of Dr. Wheelock cannot now be ascertained. The school itself was opened for the reception of Indian pupils, avowedly as an Indian missionary school, in 1748; the first Indian scholar, Samson Occum, having been received into it five years before.[FN-1] It has been asserted that Joseph was received into the school in July 1761, at which time he must have been nineteen years old, and a memorandum of his preceptor to that effect has been cited. According to Dr. Stewart,[FN-2] however, he was a mere boy when first sent to Lebanon; and it will presently appear that the entry of Dr. Wheelock was most probably incorrect. He was doubtless at the school in that year, and very likely on the point of leaving it; since three years afterward he will be found settled in his own native valley, and engaged in very different pursuits.


[FN-1] The success of the Doctor with him, was a strong inducement for establishing the school. Occum was ordained to the ministry in 1759; and was subsequently located as a missionary among the Oneidas, to which place he was accompanied by Sir William himself. The Indian preacher afterward compiled and published a volume of devotional hymns.

[FN-2] Although, for want of other authorities in regard to the young chief at this period of his life, it is necessary to use that of Dr. Stewart, yet that is evidently not very accurate. For instance, he sends Thayendanegea to Dr. Wheelock at Dartmouth; whereas the school at that place was not opened until 1770, at which period, or only one year thereafter, by the same authority, the chief was living in his own house, with a wife and children, at Canajoharie.

The correspondence between Doctor Wheelock and Sir William was quite active at this period upon the subject of the school, and Joseph was himself employed as an agent to procure recruits for it. Thus, in a letter from the Baronet to the Doctor, dated November 17, 1761, he says—"I have given in charge to Joseph, to speak in my name to any good boys he may see, and encourage to accept the generous offers now made to them; which he promised to do, and return as soon as possible, and that without horses." The probability, however, is, that he went to the school immediately after his return from the Niagara campaign in 1759. No doubt he had left it before Sir William wrote the letter just cited, and, being engaged upon some Indian mission, had been instructed to interest himself among the people of the forest in behalf of that institution. That he did not, himself, remain long at the school, is conceded. According to Dr. Stewart, moreover, he made but little proficiency in his studies at this seminary, having "learned to read but very indifferently in the New Testament, and to write but very little." The fact, however, that the Rev. Charles Jeffrey Smith, a missionary to the Mohawks, took Thayendanegea as an interpreter in the year following, (1762,) and gave him an excellent character, presents a much more favourable idea of his progress in learning while at the school; as also does the following passage from the memoirs of his teacher:—"Sir William Johnson, superintendent of Indian affairs in North America, was very friendly to the design of Mr. Wheelock, and at his request sent to the school, at various times, several boys of the Mohawks to be instructed. [FN-1] One of them was the since celebrated Joseph Brant; who, after receiving his education, was particularly noticed by Sir William Johnson, and employed by him in public business. He has been very useful in advancing the civilization of his countrymen, and for a long time past has been a military officer of extensive influence among the Indians in Upper Canada." [FN-2] Accompanying Thayendanegea to the "Moor School," [FN-3] were several other Mohawk youths, and two Delawares had entered the school before him. The name of one of Thayendanegea's companions was William, a half-breed, who was supposed to be the son of his patron. Only two of the number remained to receive the honours of the future college. The others, impatient of the restraints of a school, and delighting more in the chase of game than of literary honours, loving their native forests better than sunny fields, and preferring to string the bow and speed the arrow, rather than turn over the pages of Livy or Corderius, returned to their hunter state in about two years. Thayendanegea probably left the school at the same time. He used, when speaking of the school, to relate with much pleasantry an anecdote of "William," who, as he affirmed, was one day ordered by Mr. Wheelock's son to saddle his horse. The lad refused, alleging that, as he was a gentleman's son, the performance of such a menial office would be out of character. "Do yon know," inquired the younger Wheelock, "what a gentleman is?" "I do," replied William; "a gentleman is a person who keeps race-horses, and drinks Madeira wine, and that is what neither you nor your father do,—therefore saddle the horse yourself!" [FN-4]


[FN-1] When the foundation of the school was enlarged by the liberality of the Earl of Dartmouth and others, in England, and the same was removed from Connecticut, it contained 24 pupils, 6 of whom were Indians. There is among the Johnson papers a letter from President Wheelock, written to Sir William in 1772, introducing two of his Indian pupils to the acquaintance of the Baronet.—Author.

[FN-2] McClare's Life of Wheelock, page 27.

[FN-3] So called from the name of its founder, Mr. Joshua Moor, of Mansfield, Connecticut.

[FN-4] Christian Recorder. This anecdote reminds the author of another, which he has heard a distinguished Kentucky member of Congress relate with great glee of himself. When first elected, he said he had never crossed the Alleghenies, and he feared greatly that his ignorance and rusticity would be but too manifest when he came to associate with gentlemen. He had heard that gentlemen were fond of Champagne, of which he had never tasted. But he said, that at the first dinner party after his arrival at the seat of government, he was relieved of his embarrassment. At the first taste of the sparkling liquor, he found that he loved it. He knew, therefore, that he was made for a gentleman! And a very agreeable and accomplished gentleman he became.

The exigencies of the frontier country did not allow Thayendanegea to remain long associated in the mission with Mr. Smith. He was again called out upon the war-path, as appears by the following paragraph in one of the Rev. Mr. Kirkland's [FN] earliest reports to the Rev. Dr. Wheelock, in regard to the Christian missionaries and teachers employed among the Six Nations:—


[FN] The Rev. Samuel Kirkland, father of President Kirkland, late of Harvard University, and for more than forty years a missionary among the Six Nations—chiefly the Oneidas. He was the son of the Rev. Daniel Kirkland, of Norwich (Conn.) where he was born in 1742. His education was commenced at Dr. Wheelock's school, and his collegiate course performed at Princeton, where he was graduated in 1765. He first commenced his labours among the Senecas, in 1766, having learned the Mohawk language while in college. He was often employed by the Government in various Indian transactions, and died at Paris, Oneida County, in March, 1808.

"Joseph Brant, a Mohawk Indian, and of a family of distinction in that nation, was educated by Mr. Wheelock, and was so well accomplished that the Rev. Charles Jeffrey Smith, (a young gentleman who, out of love to Christ and the souls of men, devotes his life, and such a fortune as is sufficient to support himself and an interpreter, wholly to this glorious service,) took him for his interpreter when he went on his mission to the Mohawks, now three years ago. But the war breaking out at that time between the back Indians and the English, Mr. Smith was obliged to return; but Joseph tarried, and went out with a company against the Indians, and was useful in the war; in which he behaved so much like the Christian and the soldier, that he gained great esteem. He now lives in a decent manner, and endeavours to teach his poor brethren the things of God, in which his own heart seems much engaged. His house is an asylum for the missionaries in that wilderness." [FN]


[FN] Narrative of the Indian Charity School, published by Dr. Wheelock in 1767, page 35.

Neither the particular war in which the young chief was then engaged, nor the time of the campaign, is noted in the foregoing extract. A passage contained in a letter from Sir William Johnson to Dr. Wheelock, however, dated April 25th, 1764, affords a clue to the desired information:—"J—— is just returned from an expedition against the enemy, who have abandoned their towns, of which three were burned, with four villages, consisting, in all, of about two hundred houses, built with squared logs, and vast quantities of corn, &c. Parties are now in pursuit of the enemy." It was therefore early in the Spring of 1764 that young Brant returned from the war—then brought to a close. The war itself could have been none else than that against the great Ottoway chief Pontiac, who, in 1763, undertook to dispossess the English of the country of the lakes, then recently acquired by conquest from the French. Pontiac was by far the most formidable chief with whom the English colonists had had to contend since the fall of Philip. He combined the great Indian tribes of the north-west almost as one man, and in 1763 led thirty-six chiefs, with their trains of warriors, against Detroit, after having carried several of the remote western posts. A well-concerted stratagem, timely discovered to the British commander by an Indian woman, had well nigh placed that important position within his power also. Foiled in the plan of obtaining admission by stratagem and putting the garrison to death, Pontiac laid siege to the fort, attacking it with great fury. It was besieged for a long time, as also were the fort at Niagara and Fort Pitt. It was not until the Autumn of 1763 that the English were able to throw succours into Detroit, in accomplishing which enterprise some of the Mohawk warriors were engaged. There had been several severe engagements with Pontiac's warriors in the course of that Summer, in which the Indians attached to the English cause had fought with great bravery. The vessel carrying the supplies to Detroit, was likewise furiously attacked by a force of 350 Indians, in boats on the lake, but they were bravely repulsed. In what particular battles, during this contest, Thayendanegea was engaged, does not appear. But he was in the war, and his courageous and enterprising spirit offered the best evidence, that he neither avoided the post of danger, nor failed to reach it for want of activity. Having invested Detroit for a twelvemonth, the French, moreover, with whom he was in alliance, having lost their power in America, Pontiac sued for peace on the approach of Gen. Bradstreet from Pittsburgh, at the head of 3000 men. [FN]


[FN] Pontiac was assassinated in 1779, during a war between the Ioways and Ottawas. He was a great man.

In 1765, Thayendanegea, having been previously married to the daughter of an Oneida chief, was settled at Canajoharie, as appears by a letter from the Rev. Theophilus Chamberlain, one of the missionaries to the Six Nations, to the Rev. Dr. Wheelock, written from Canajoharie, and dated July 17th of that year. After speaking of the encouraging condition of the Indian school, and the prospect of opening another, Mr. Chamberlain said:—"I am now at Joseph Brant's house, very poorly with the dysentery, which hath followed me near a week. Riding in the rain sometimes, wading through tracks to get along, and lodging on the cold ground the other night, have made me almost down sick; but my business keeps me alive. Joseph Brant is exceeding kind."

Three years afterward he was still leading a peaceful life at the same place, as we learn from the following entry in the journal of Mr. Ralph Wheelock, who had been sent to Oneida to relieve Mr. Kirkland, that gentleman being sick:

"March 18, 1768. At my old friend, Joseph Brant's, I met one of the chiefs of the Onondagas, (who is, by way of eminence, called the Wise-man,) on his return to his tribe, with his wife and child; and by Joseph Brant's help I was able to discourse with him, and delivered my message to his nation."

During the three years next ensuing, no certain information has been obtained respecting his course of life. As the country was at peace, however, he was probably leading a life of repose at home, save when acting, upon occasional business visits among the Indians, under the direction of Sir William Johnson. It is very probable, moreover, that he may at that time have been connected with the English Episcopal Missions to the Mohawks, commenced in the Mohawk Valley so early as 1702, and continued down to the beginning of the Revolutionary war. Having been employed as an interpreter by one of the missionaries, several years before; and as the Rev. Dr. John Ogilvie, the predecessor of Dr. Barclay in that mission, was engaged, in the year 1769, in revising, extending, and reprinting the Mohawk Prayer Book, embracing additional passages of Scripture, some occasional prayers, and Indian versifications of several psalms, it is highly probable that Thayendanegea may have been employed as an assistant in that labour, since he was partial to exercises of that description.

In the year 1771, the Rev. Mr. Stewart conducted a school at Fort Hunter, thirty miles below Canajoharie. A venerable friend of the author, yet living in Albany, [FN] states, that being a pupil in Doctor Stewart's school at about that time, he had opportunities of seeing Thayendanegea at that place frequently, and formed an acquaintance with him, which continued, interrupted only by the war of the Revolution, until the death of the warrior. He then formed an excellent opinion of the young chief in regard to talents and good disposition. It is believed, that from the shrewdness of his sister Molly and the influential position which she occupied in the family of Sir William, added to his own talents and sagacity, he was much employed at home by the Baronet, in the discharge of the multifarious duties incident to his important official station. He was also frequently engaged upon distant embassies among the western tribes, and his talents and tact as a diplomatist of the forest, were qualities pertaining to his character through life.


[FN] Douw Fonda, Esq., son of Captain Jelles Fonda, who was an active and very efficient officer, both in the Indian and Military service, under Sir William Johnson.

Thayendanegea was thrice married—having been twice a widower before the war of the Revolution. His first two wives were of the Oneida tribe. The Rev. Dr. Stewart states that he first became acquainted with him in the winter of 1771. He was then still residing at Canajoharie, on visiting which village the Doctor says he found him comfortably settled, in a good house, with every thing necessary for the use of his family—consisting of a wife, in the last stage of consumption, and two children—a son and a daughter. His wife died some time afterward, on which Thayendanegea repaired to Fort Hunter, and resided with the Doctor for a considerable length of time. Doctor Stewart was then engaged upon another revision of the Indian Prayer Book, and Joseph assisted him in making various additional translations. He likewise assisted the Doctor in translating a portion of the Acts of the Apostles, and a short history of the Bible, together with a brief explanation of the Church catechism, into the Mohawk language. [FN]


[FN] Doctor Stewart states that he was directed to repair to New-York, and publish these books at the expense of the Missionary Society, but was prevented by the breaking out of the war. He took the MSS. to Canada, and afterward delivered them to Colonel Daniel Claus, by whom they were taken to England; but it does not appear that they were ever published.

It is stated on the same authority, [FN] that in the winter of 1772-3, he applied to Doctor Stewart to marry him to the half-sister of his deceased wife, but the Divine refused the application on the ground of the forbidden relationship. Brant, however, vindicated the act, much in the manner of white widowers desirous of forming the like connexion; arguing, very naturally, that the fact of the relationship would secure a greater degree of tenderness and care for his children. Still the Episcopal minister persisted in his refusal, and a less scrupulous German ecclesiastic gratified his desire by performing the ceremony.


[FN] The Christian Register.

It was at about the same period of his life that Thayendanegea became the subject of serious religious impressions. He attached himself to the Church, was a chastened and regular communicant at the celebration of the Eucharist; and from his serious deportment, and the anxiety he had ever manifested to civilize and Christianize his people, great hopes were entertained from his future exertions in that cause. No doubt has ever been entertained of his sincerity at that time; and it has been attributed to the counteracting influences of the dreadful trade of war, in which it was his fortune afterward again so actively to become engaged, that those manifestations of Christian utility were effaced; entirely eradicated they were not, as will be seen at a subsequent stage of the career of this remarkable man.

In compliance with Indian custom, he selected a bosom friend, during that period of his life we are now contemplating, in the person of a Lieutenant Provost, a half-pay officer residing in the Mohawk Valley. Those unacquainted with Indian usages are not probably aware of the intimacy, or the importance attached to this relationship. The selected friend is, in fact, the counterpart of the one who chooses him, and the attachment often becomes romantic; they share each other's secrets, and are participants of each other's joys and sorrows. As the Revolutionary troubles were approaching. Lieutenant Provost was ordered to his regiment and upon foreign service, greatly to the regret of the future chieftain. His lamentations attracted the attention of Doctor Stewart, who advised him to select another friend—offering to stand as a substitute himself. But no; the young chief declared that such a transfer of his affections could not take place. He was Captain John's friend, and another such friend could not be in existence at the same time. Lieutenant Provost had been ordered to the West Indies; and in order to assure him of the strength and constancy of his attachment, Thayendanegea procured an entire Indian costume of the richest furs he could obtain, which was sent to him in Jamaica. This incident has been detailed, not because in itself of any particular importance, but as disclosing an excellent trait of character, besides illustrating a feature of Indian life which may not be familiar to all. [FN] Other events will now occupy the attention of the reader, in which the Mohawk chieftain will be but one of many actors, though seldom an obscure one.


[FN] A similar custom prevailed among the ancient Greeks. Two young warriors often assumed this obligation of brotherhood, which was taken with peculiar ceremonies, and maintained inviolate through life.




CHAPTER II.


Early symptoms of disaffection at Boston—Origin of the Revolutionary War—First blood shed in 1770—Stirring eloquence of Joseph Warren—Feelings of Sir William Johnson—His influence with the Indians and Germans, and his unpleasant position—Last visit of Sir William to England—His death—Mysterious circumstances attending it—Suspicions of suicide unjust—His son, Sir John Johnson, succeeds to his title and estates—His son-in-law, Col. Guy Johnson, to his office as superintendent General of the Indians—Early life of Sir John—Joseph Brant appointed Secretary to Guy Johnson—Influence of the Johnson family—Revolutionary symptoms in Tryon County, fomented by the proceedings in New England—First meeting of Tryon County Whigs—Declaration of Rights—First meeting of Congress—Effect of its proceedings—in England—Tardiness of Provincial legislature of New-York—Spirit of the people—Notes of preparation in Massachusetts, &c.—Overt acts of rebellion in several States—Indians exasperated by the Virginia borderers in 1774—Melancholy story of Logan—Campaign of Lord Dunmore and Colonel Lewis—Battle of the Kanhawa—Speech of Logan—Its authenticity questioned—Peace of Chilicothe—Unhappy feeling of the Indians.

It has been usually asserted by historians, that the first blood in the war of the American Revolution was shed at Lexington; but such is not the fact. The Boston massacre of 1770 was the beginning of that contest, so fearful in its commencement, so doubtful in its progress, and so splendid in its results. The storm had even then been gathering for several years, and the public mind had become exceedingly feverish, not only in regard to the conduct of the parent government, but in respect to the language and bearing of the officers of the crown stationed in the colonies. When, moreover, the people of Boston were subjected to what they considered a still greater indignity, by the quartering of soldiers among them, the irritation was such that but a small degree of forecast was necessary to the perception of an approaching explosion. The affair at Gray's Rope-Walk, on the 2d of March, increased the mutual exasperation; and the massacre that followed on the 5th was but the natural consequence. The first blow was then struck. The town was thrown into commotion, the drums beat to arms; and the news, with the exaggerations and embellishments incident to all occasions of alarm, spread through the country with the rapidity of lightning. Every where, throughout the wide extent of the old thirteen colonies, it created a strong sensation, and was received with a degree of indignant emotion, which very clearly foretold that blood had only commenced flowing; and although five years intervened before the demonstration at Lexington, there were too many nervous pens and eloquent tongues in exercise to allow those feelings to subside, or to suffer the noble spirit of liberty that had been awakened to be quenched. Such stirring orations as those of Joseph Warren were not uttered in vain; and so often as the anniversary of the 5th of March returned, were the people reminded by him, or by his compatriots of kindred spirit—"The voice of your brethren's blood cries to you from the ground." The admonition had its effect, and the resolutions of vengeance sank deeper and deeper into the hearts of the people, until the fullness of time should come.

Sir William Johnson was too observing and sagacious a man not to note the signs of the times. He saw the gathering tempest, and it is believed to have given him great uneasiness. His sympathies, according to the testimony of those who knew him, were undoubtedly with the people. He was from the body of the people himself, having been the architect of his own rank and fortunes; and those who were acquainted with, and yet survive him, represent the struggle in his bosom to have been great, between those sympathies and his own strong principles of liberty on the one hand, and his duty to his sovereign on the other—a sovereign whom he had served long and faithfully, and who in turn had loaded him with princely benefactions. His domains in the Valley of the Mohawk were extensive; and his influence, through a large number of subordinate officers and a numerous tenantry, was correspondingly great. To the Indians, not only of the Six Nations but those far in the west beyond, who had fallen within the circle of his influence after the conquest of Canada and the subjugation of Pontiac, he had been as a father, and they looked up to him with veneration. Long association with him, and great Respect for his character—which, from its blunt honesty, frankness, and generosity, not altogether devoid of that roughness incident to a border population, was well calculated to secure the attachment of such people—had also given to his opinions the force of legal authority among the Colonists. The population, aside from the Indians, was chiefly Dutch, in the lower part of the Mohawk Valley; while in the interesting vale of the Schoharie Kill, and the upper district of the Mohawk, it was composed of the descendants of the German Palatinates, who had been planted there fifty years before. It was not at that period a very intelligent population; and the name of Sir William, who had been their friend and companion in peace, and their leader in war, like that of the King, was a tower of strength. It was very natural, therefore, that their opinions upon the great political questions then agitating the country, should take their complexion for the most part from those entertained by him. Hence, when the storm of civil war commenced, the Loyalists in that valley were probably more numerous, in proportion to the whole number of the population, than in almost any other section of the northern colonies.

In connexion with the troubles which every man of ordinary sagacity could not but perceive were fermenting, Sir William visited England for the last time in the Autumn of 1773, returning in the succeeding Spring. He probably came back with his loyal feelings somewhat strengthened. It was not his fortune, however, good or ill, to see the breaking out of the tempest, the near approaches of which he had been watching with an intenseness of observation corresponding with the magnitude of his own personal interests, which must necessarily be involved. He died suddenly, at Johnson Hall, on or about the 24th of June, 1774.

It was reported by his enemies,—or rather by the enemies of the Crown,—that he perished by his own hand, in consequence of the clouds which he saw darkening the political sky; and such an impression is yet very generally entertained. The tradition is, that on the day of his decease he had received despatches from England, which were handed to him while sitting in Court, and with which he immediately left the Court-house and walked to his own house. These despatches, it was afterward reported, contained instructions to him to use his influence with the Indians in behalf of the Crown, in the event of hostilities. Another version of the tradition is, that on the day in question he had received despatches from Boston, the complexion of which, in his own mind, indicated that a civil war was near and inevitable. In such an event he saw that he must either prove recreant to his principles, or take part against the Crown; and, to avoid either alternative, it has been extensively believed that he put an end to his life. [FN-1] But there is no just ground for this uncharitable conclusion. It is true that he had, on the evening of the 24th, received despatches from Massachusetts, the tenor of which, by excitement, may have hastened the malady to which his system was predisposed. It was a busy day at Johnstown. The Circuit Court was in session, at which, however, Sir William was not present, being engaged in holding a treaty with some of the Six Nations. In the course of his speech to the Indians on that occasion, he alluded to the despatches he had received, and stated to them that troubles were brewing between the Americans and their King—advising them not to abandon the cause of the latter, who had always been benevolent and kind to them. "Whatever may happen," said the Baronet, "you must not be shaken out of your shoes." [FN-2]


[FN-1] Mr. Campbell, in his "Annals," favors this opinion. He says—"There is something still mysterious connected with his death. He had been out to England, and returned the previous Spring. During a visit which he made shortly afterward to Mr. Campbell, an intimate friend of his at Schenectady, the conversation turned upon the subject of the disputes between the Colonies and the Mother Country. He then said, he should never live to see them in a state of open war."—Ann. p. 12.

[FN-2] MS. statement of a gentleman whose father was with Sir William that morning, and was present at the Indian Council.

In the afternoon of that day Sir William was taken with a fit. Colonel Johnson, his son, was absent at the Old Fort—distant nine miles. An express was sent for him, and, mounting a fleet English blood-horse, he rode for the Hall with all possible haste. His horse fell dead when within three quarters of a mile of the house, having run upward of eight miles in fifteen minutes. The Colonel hired the horse of some one standing by, and pushed forward to the Hall. On entering the room, he found his father in the arms of a faithful domestic, who attended upon his person. He spoke to his parent, but received no answer; and in a few minutes afterward the Baronet expired [FN]—of apoplexy, beyond a doubt. This was early in the evening. While the judges of the Court were at supper in the village, one mile distant, a young Mohawk Indian entered their apartment and announced the event.


[FN] MS. statement of Colonel William Feeter, in possession of the author. Col. F. is yet living (May, 1837.)

Sir William was succeeded in his titles and estates by his son, Sir John Johnson; but the reins of authority, as General superintendent of the Indian Department, fell into the hands of the son-in-law of Sir William, Colonel Guy Johnson, who had long been in office as the Assistant, or Deputy of the old Baronet. This officer was assisted by Colonel Daniel Clans, who had likewise married a daughter of Sir William. On the decease of his father, Sir John also succeeded to his post as Major General of the militia.

Of the early life of Sir John Johnson not much is known. He was not as popular as his father, being less social, and less acquainted with human nature and the springs of human action. He accompanied his father on some of his warlike expeditions, however, and probably saw considerable service. Soon after the termination of the French war, he was sent by his father, at the head of a small expedition, to the Mohawk canton of Oghkwaga,[FN-1] to arrest a Captain Bull, and some other malcontents and disaffected Indians, who were charged with being engaged in an effort to enlist the Six Nations in a war against some other Indians, or possibly to win them over to the designs of Pontiac. For this purpose young Johnson had a choice corps of men placed under his command, most of whom had served with the Baronet against the French. He had also a detachment of Indians with him. The expedition was arranged somewhat with a view of display—for the purpose, as it was conjectured, of giving eclat to the young commander. The enterprise was successful—Bull and his adherents were taken, and brought in irons to Johnstown. From thence they were sent to Albany and imprisoned for a time, but were all subsequently discharged. Before the Revolution commenced, Sir John married Miss Mary Watts, of the city of New-York.[FN-2]


[FN-1] The author has found much difficulty in attempting to determine the orthography of this place. It is now generally written Oquaga. In the Congressional journals of the Revolution it was spelled Oneaquaga. By some writers it is written Oghquaga. The late highly intelligent Mohawk chief, Norton, always wrote it Oghkwaga, which orthography has been adopted by the author.

[FN-2] Sister to the late venerable John Watts, who died in September, 1836.

The successors of Sir William Johnson did not, however, possess the same degree of moral power over the population of Tryon County, Indian or white, as had been exercised by him. But they nevertheless derived essential aid from "Miss Molly," who was a woman of talents as well as tact, and possessing great influence among the Indians, who were her own people, Molly was in turn aided by the counsels and exertions of her brother, Joseph Thayendanegea, who had been much in the service of Sir William during the latter years of his life, and who, on the death of the Baronet, was advanced to the post of Secretary of Guy Johnson. These gentlemen, however, (Sir John Johnson, Guy Johnson, and Colonel Glaus,) living in great splendour, at, and in the neighbourhood of Johnstown, and thus allied with the family of a powerful Mohawk sachem, were still enabled to exert a decided influence, especially among the Indians. They were likewise in close official and political alliance with Colonel John Butler, an opulent and influential gentleman of that county, and his son Walter N. Butler—names rendered memorable, if nothing worse, by association with certain bloody transactions, which will be developed in the progress of the present volume.

But, notwithstanding all their influence—and no family in America had ever been regarded with greater deference by the surrounding population than that of the Johnsons—they were not long in discovering that the principles now openly avowed in Massachusetts, could not be confined within the limits of that colony, or even of New England. Though less openly proclaimed, yet as the waters of a fountain ooze through the earth unseen until they have gathered force enough to break the surface and gush forth, so was it with the principles of Liberty sent abroad by "the Boston rebels," as they worked their way up the valley of the Mohawk; and the successors of Sir William Johnson were not long in discovering, that although they could still count among their retainers a large number of adherents, the leaven of civil liberty had nevertheless been more deeply at work than they had desired, or probably supposed. The celebrated "Boston Port Bill," enacted in consequence of the destruction of the tea in that harbour in 1773, had gone into operation only a month preceding the death of Sir William; and in the next month subsequent to his decease, a public meeting was held in the Palatine district, warmly seconding the proposition of Massachusetts for the assembling of a general Congress, for mutual consultation and counsel in the existing posture of the political affairs of the Colonies. The original draft of the proceedings of that meeting is yet in existence, in the hand-writing of Col. Christopher P. Yates—a patriot who embarked early in the struggle, and served to the end. They breathed the genuine spirit of freedom, and as a declaration of rights, are well entitled to a place among the fervid papers of that day, which were so powerful in their operation upon the public mind. After setting forth the concern and sorrow felt by the meeting, at the shutting up the port of Boston, and the tendency of the acts of Parliament for raising a revenue in the American Colonies, which they held to be an abridgment of the privileges of the people, the meeting resolved: 1st. That they recognised the King as their lawful sovereign, would bear true faith and allegiance to him, and would, with their lives and fortunes, support and maintain him on the throne of his ancestors, and the just dependence of the Colonies upon the crown of Great Britain. 2d. That they considered it their greatest happiness to be governed by British laws, and would pay cheerful submission to them, as far as they could do so, consistently with the security of the Constitutional rights of English subjects, "which were so sacred that they could not permit them to be violated." 3d. That all taxes without their own consent, or the consent of their representatives, were unjust and unconstitutional; and the acts of Parliament upon the subject were denounced, as obvious encroachments upon the rights and liberties of British subjects. 4th. That the act closing the port of Boston was arbitrary and oppressive to the inhabitants, whom they considered to be suffering in the common cause. 5th. That they would unite with their brethren elsewhere, in relieving the necessities of the suffering poor in Boston, and in "any thing tending to support our rights and liberties." 6th. Approving of the calling of a general Congress, and of the five members who had already been appointed by their brethren of New-York. 7th. That they would abide by such regulations as might be agreed upon by the said Congress. 8th. Appointing a committee of correspondence for that district, [FN] and recommending the other districts of the county to do the same.


[FN] Christopher P. Yates, Isaac Paris, and John Frey.

The Congress met in Philadelphia in September, 1774, and after adopting a declaration of rights, and setting forth wherein those rights had been violated, they agreed upon an address to the King, exhibiting the grievances of the Colonies, and praying for his Majesty's interposition for their removal. An address to the people of British America was likewise adopted, together with an appeal to the people of Great Britain, as also a letter to the people of Canada. [FN-1] The Congress then adjourned, to meet again in May, 1775. The papers put forth from that august assembly had a powerful effect upon the public mind. They were also highly extolled by Lord Chatham in the House of Peers, who declared, that "In all his reading and observation—and it had been his favourite study—for he had read Thucydides, and had studied and admired the master states of the world—for solidity of reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, under such complication of circumstances, no nation or body of men could stand in preference to the General Congress at Philadelphia." [FN-2]


[FN-1] Mr. R. H. Lee wrote the address to the American people, and Mr. Jay that to the people of Great Britain.

[FN-2] Parliamentary Register.

The Provincial Assembly of New-York was the only legislature in the Colonies that withheld its approbation from the proceedings of the Congress—the loyalists of that Colony being, from a variety of causes, more numerous and influential than in any other of the provinces. In the Valley of the Mohawk they were particularly zealous and active; and the Johnson family, with their associates, were ceaseless in their efforts to divert the revolutionary spirit, which was but too obviously abroad.

But like the bitter plant in the vegetable pharmacopœia, the principles of liberty only thrive more rapidly beneath a pressure, and the spark which had been struck in the Palatine district, they not only found it impossible to extinguish, but a measure of their own adoption had the effect of kindling it into a blaze—and, once kindled, the fire of liberty is as inextinguishable as the Greek.

In Massachusetts, however, other menacing measures besides the passage of resolutions, were adopted toward the close of 1774. Governor Gage having issued writs for the holding of a General Assembly, in October, afterward countermanded the writs by proclamation. But the new members, to the number of ninety, maintaining the illegality of the proclamation, met notwithstanding. Neither the Governor, nor any substitute, appearing to complete their organization, they formed themselves into a Provincial Congress, and adjourned to Concord. From Concord, after some collisions with the Governor, they removed to Cambridge; and in the course of their sittings measures were adopted for the public defence, and the organization of minute men, to the number of twelve thousand. Connecticut and New Hampshire were requested to augment the number to twenty thousand. Governor Gage complained bitterly that the edicts of this Congress were implicitly obeyed throughout the country. Before the year had expired, a royal proclamation was received, prohibiting the exportation of military stores to America. This document caused general indignation. In Rhode Island and New Hampshire the people at once seized upon the arms and ordnance in their public places and garrisons, and other corresponding measures were adopted by the Colonial authorities. In the more Southern provinces signs of jealousy and discontent began to be more unequivocally manifested. A meeting of the military officers of Virginia, under Lord Dunmore, was held, at which resolutions, professing loyalty and looking rebellion, were adopted. The Provincial Congress of Maryland approved of the proceedings of the General Congress; and in South Carolina, Judge Dayton, in a memorable charge to a Grand Jury at Camden, set the ball in motion in that Colony. Doctor Franklin, being in London, was required to attend a meeting of the Committee for Plantations, to whom had been referred the petition of the Massachusetts Assembly for the removal of Governor Hutchinson and Lieutenant-Governor Oliver. He supported the petition, and was, the day after, dismissed by the Crown from the office of postmaster for the Colonies.

It may readily be conceived that an excitement thus increasing from day to day, and thus rapidly extending the circle of its influence, would not long be confined to measures of remonstrance and petition. Most unfortunate was it, therefore, that, just at this conjuncture, while all sagacious men saw by the shadows what events were coming, and all good men were solicitous for the preservation of the character and augmentation of the physical strength of the country, a small band of bad ones adopted a course well fitted to awaken the jealousy of the whole Indian race, and exasperate a portion of them to the highest pitch of anger and revenge. It was evident that the Colonies were about to measure swords with one of the strongest powers in Christendom, and to strike for freedom. True wisdom, therefore, required that the clouds of Indians darkening more than a thousand miles of our border, and in the North forming an intermediate power between our own settlements and the country of the anticipated foe, should be at least conciliated into neutrality, if not courted into an alliance. But a contrary course was taken by some of the frontier-men of Virginia, and a hostile feeling awakened by a succession of outrages, unprovoked and more cruel than savages, as such, could have committed. The well-informed reader will at once anticipate that reference is now had to the hostilities upon the North-western frontier of Virginia, commonly known as Cresap's War, from the agency of a subaltern officer of that name, whose wanton cruelty provoked it, and one striking event of which has rendered every American ear familiar with the name of Logan, the celebrated "Mingo Chief." [FN]


[FN] Mingo, Mengwe, Maquas, and Iroquois, are all only different names applied to the Six Nations.

The wars and the conquests of the Six Nations had been the cause of transplanting many families, among whom were some of distinction, over the countries subjected to their arms. Among these was the family of Logan, the son of Shikellimus, [FN] a distinguished Cayuga sachem, who had removed from the particular location of his own tribe, to Shamokin, or Conestoga, within the borders of Pennsylvania, where he executed the duties of principal chief of those of the Six Nations residing on the Susquehanna. He was a man of consequence and humanity, and one of the earliest to encourage the introduction of Christianity by Count Zinzendorf. He was a great friend to the celebrated James Logan, who accompanied William Penn on his last voyage to America, and who subsequently became distinguished in the colony for his learning and benevolence. Hence the name of the famous son of Shikellimus, so closely identified with the scenes about to be described.


[FN] Shikellimus was a contemporary of the famous Cannassatego, and is known in Colden's History of the Six Nations by the different names of Skickcalamy, Shicalamy, and Shick Calamy.—Drake.

Logan had removed from his father's lodge at Shamokin to the Shawanese country on the Ohio, where he had become a chief. He was a friend of the white men, and one of the noblest of his race; not only by right of birth, but in consideration of his own character. During the Indian wars connected with the contest with France, which were continued for a considerable time after the conquest of Canada, he took no part, save in the character of a peace-maker.

The circumstances which transformed this good and just man from a sincere friend into a bitter foe, will appear in the following narrative:—It happened in April or May of 1774, that a party of land-jobbers, while engaged in exploring lands near the Ohio river, were robbed, or pretended to have been robbed, of a number of horses by the Indians. The leader of the land-jobbers was Captain Michael Cresap. Alarmed at the depredation upon their property, or affecting to be so, Cresap and his party determined to make war upon the Indians, without investigation, and irrespective, as a matter of course, of the guilt or innocence of those whom they should attack. On the same day, falling in with two Indians, Cresap and his men killed them. Hearing, moreover, of a still larger party of Indians encamped at some distance below the site of the present town of Wheeling, the white barbarians proceeded thither, and after winning the confidence of the sons of the forest by pretended friendship, fell upon and slaughtered several of their number, among whom were a part of the family of the white man's friend—Logan. [FN]


[FN] Doddridge, in his History of the Indian Wars, states that no evidence of the imputed theft was ever adduced; and affirms his belief that the report was false, and the Indians innocent, even of a comparatively minor trespass.

Soon after this atrocious affair, another followed, equally flagitious. There was a white settlement on the east bank of the Ohio, about thirty miles above Wheeling, among the leading men of which were one named Daniel Greathouse, and another named Tomlinson. A party of Indians, assembled on the opposite bank of the river, having heard of the murders committed by Cresap, determined to avenge their death, of which resolution Greathouse was admonished by a friendly squaw, who advised him to escape, while he was reconnoitering for the purpose of ascertaining their numbers. He had crossed the river with thirty-two men under his command, and secreted them for the purpose of falling upon the Indians; but finding that they were too strong for him, he changed his plan of operations, re-crossed the river, and, with a show of friendship, invited them over to an entertainment. Without suspicion of treachery the Indians accepted the invitation, and while engaged in drinking—some of them to a state of intoxication—they were set upon and murdered in cold blood. Here again, fell two more of the family of Logan—a brother and sister, the latter being in a situation of peculiar delicacy. The Indians who had remained on the other side of the river, hearing the noise of the treacherous attack, flew to their canoes to rescue their friends. This movement had been anticipated; and sharp-shooters, stationed in ambuscade, shot numbers of them in their canoes, and compelled the others to return.

These dastardly transactions were enacted on the 24th of May. They were soon followed by another outrage, which, though of less magnitude, was not less atrocious in its spirit, while it was even more harrowing to the feelings of the Indians. The event referred to was the murder, by a white man, of an aged and inoffensive Delaware chief named the Bald Eagle. He had for years consorted more with the white people than his own, visiting those most frequently who entertained him best. At the time of his murder he had been on a visit to the fort at the North of the Kanhawa, and was killed while alone, paddling his canoe. The man who committed the murder, it was said, had been a sufferer at the hands of the Indians; but he had never been injured by the object upon whom he wreaked his vengeance. After tearing the scalp from his head, the white savage placed the body in a sitting posture in the canoe, and sent it adrift down the stream. The voyage of the dead chief was observed by many, who supposed him living, and upon one of his ordinary excursions. When, however, the deed became known, his nation were not slow in avowals of vengeance.[FN-1] Equally exasperated, at about the same time, were the Shawanese, against the whites, by the murder of one of their favourite chiefs, Silver Heels, who had in the kindest manner undertaken to escort several white traders across the woods from the Ohio to Albany, a distance of nearly two hundred miles.[FN-2]


[FN-1] McClung, as cited by Drake.

[FN-2] Heckewelder.

The consequence of these repeated outrages, perpetrated by white barbarians, was the immediate commencement of an Indian war, the first leader of which was Logan, who, with a small party of only eight warriors, made a sudden and altogether unexpected descent upon a Muskingum settlement, with complete success. In the course of the Summer great numbers of men, women, and children, fell victims to the tomahawk and scalping-knife. Logan, however, though smarting under a keen sense of his own wrongs, set his face against the practice of putting prisoners to the torture, so far as he could. In one instance, he so instructed a prisoner doomed to run the gauntlet, as to enable him to escape without receiving essential injury. In another case, with his own hand he severed the cord which bound a prisoner to the stake, and by his influence procured his adoption into an Indian family.

To punish these atrocities, provoked, as all authorities concur in admitting, by the whites, a vigorous campaign was undertaken by the Governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, with a force of between two and three thousand men. Eleven hundred of these Provincials, mostly riflemen, and comprising much of the chivalry of Virginia, constituting the left wing, were entrusted to the command of General Andrew Lewis, [FN] with instructions to march direct for Point Pleasant, at the mouth of the Great Kanhawa; while his lordship, proceeding with the right wing, was to cross the Ohio at a higher point, and fall upon the Indian towns in their rear. For reasons never satisfactorily explained, although the cause of some controversy at the time, there was a failure of the expected co-operation on the part of Lord Dunmore.


[FN] Andrew Lewis was, in fact, only a colonel; but he was in the chief command of the division, and as he had a brother, Charles Lewis, also a colonel, he has been designated as a General by courtesy, and for the purpose of distinguishing the commander from the other colonel.

General Lewis commenced his march on the 11th of September. His course was direct, through a trackless wilderness, one hundred and sixty miles; over which all the supplies of the army were necessarily to be transported on pack-horses. The march was very slow and tedious—occupying nineteen days. Arrived at or near the junction of the Kanhawa with the Ohio, Lewis waited eight or nine days to obtain tidings from Lord Dunmore, but heard not a syllable.

Early on the morning of the 10th of October, two of Lewis's scouts, who were about a mile in advance, were fired upon by a large body of Indians; one of the scouts was killed, and the other escaped to camp with the intelligence. It was yet half an hour to sunrise, and instant dispositions were made to move forward and attack. Just as the sun was rising, the Indians, who were advancing upon a like errand, were met, and an engagement ensued, which continued with greater or less severity through the day. The Virginians had bivouacked upon a point of land between the two rivers, giving the Indians an important advantage of position, inasmuch as, if defeated, retreat would be impossible for the former, while the latter could fly at their pleasure. But such was not the purpose of the Indians. Their numbers have been variously stated, from eight to fifteen hundred, consisting of Shawanese, Delawares, Mingoes, Wyandots, Cayugas, and several other tribes, led in chief by Logan, assisted by other celebrated chiefs, among whom were Cornstock, Ellenipsico, (his son,) and the Red Eagle.

The onset was impetuous upon both sides. Colonel Charles Lewis led the right of the Virginians, and was in advance. He fell almost at the first fire, mortally wounded, and shortly afterward expired—having walked back to his own camp. The Virginians, like the Indians, sought every advantage by fighting from the shelter of trees and bushes; but in the first part of the engagement the advantages were with the Indians, and two of the Virginia regiments, after severe loss, especially in officers, were compelled to give way. Colonel Fleming, who commanded the left, though severely wounded in the beginning of the action, by two balls through his arm and another through the breast, bravely kept the field for some time, cheering his men, and, urging them not to lose an inch of ground, directed them to outflank the enemy. But the assault of the Indians was vigorous and their fire so severe, that the left, like the right, was yielding, when, at the most critical moment, Colonel Field's regiment was brought with great spirit and resolution into the action, by which timely movement the fortunes of the day were retrieved. The impetuosity of the Indians was checked, and they were in turn forced to retreat—falling back to avail themselves of a rude breast-work of logs and brush-wood, which they had taken the precaution to construct for the occasion. Colonel Field was killed at the moment his gallant regiment had changed the aspect of the battle, and he was succeeded by Captain Isaac Shelby, afterward the brave and hardy old Governor of Kentucky.

The Indians made a valiant stand at their breast-work, defending their position until nearly night-fall. For several hours every attempt to dislodge them was unsuccessful; the savages fighting like men who had not only their soil and homes to protect, but deep wrongs to avenge. "The voice of the mighty Cornstock was often heard during the day, above the din of battle, calling out to his warriors, 'Be strong! Be strong!' And when, by the repeated charge of the Virginians, some of his warriors began to waver, he is said to have sunk his tomahawk into the head of a coward who was attempting to fly." [FN]


[FN] Drake—who compiles his account of this spirited engagement, from Withers, McClung, and Doddridge.

The action had continued extremely hot until past twelve o'clock, after which it was abated at intervals, though a scattering fire was kept up most of the time during the day, Toward night, finding that each successive attack upon the line of the Indians in front but weakened his own force, without making any perceptible impression upon the Indians, and rightly judging that if the latter were not routed before dark, the contest must be resumed under at least doubtful circumstances on the following day, a final attempt was made to throw a body of troops into the rear. Three companies were detached upon this service, led by Captain Shelby. The ground favoured the enterprise. Availing themselves of the tall weeds and grass upon the bank of a creek flowing into the Kanhawa, those companies passed the flank of the Indian ranks unobserved, and falling vigorously upon their rear, drove them from their lines with precipitation. Night came on, and the Indians, supposing that reinforcements of the Virginians had arrived, fled across the Ohio, and continued their retreat to the Scioto. They had not the satisfaction of taking many scalps—the bodies of a few stragglers only falling into their possession. In the official account it was stated that they scalped numbers of their own warriors, to prevent the Virginians from doing it. Of those Indians first killed, the Virginians scalped upward of twenty. [FN-1] The loss of the Indians was never known. It must, however, have been severe; since, in addition to the killed and wounded borne away, numbers of the slain were thrown into the river, and thirty-three of their warriors were found dead upon the field on the following day. The loss of the Virginians was likewise severe. Two of their colonels were killed, four captains, many subordinate officers, and between fifty and sixty privates, besides a much larger number wounded.[FN-2]


[FN-1] Official Report.

[FN-2] Doddridge states the number of killed at 75, and of wounded at 140. In the estimate given in the text, Thatcher has been followed. It is stated by Drake, that a stratagem was resorted to in this action by the Virginians, similar to one that had been practised in the early New England war of the Indians at Pawtucket. The Virginians, concealing themselves behind trees, would hold out their hats from behind and draw the fire of the Indians; the hat being instantly dropped, the Indian warrior who had brought it down, supposing that he had killed the owner, would rush forward to secure the scalp of his supposed victim—only to fall beneath an unexpected tomahawk.

Arrived at Chilicothe, a council of the Indians was convened to debate upon the question what was next to be done. Cornstock, it was said, had been opposed to giving battle at Point Pleasant, but had resolved to do his best on being overruled in council. Having been defeated, as he had anticipated, he demanded of the council, "What shall we do now? The Long Knives are coming upon us by two routes. Shall we turn out and fight them?" No response being made to the question, he continued, "Shall we kill all our squaws and children, and then fight until we are all killed ourselves?" As before, all were silent; whereupon Cornstock struck his tomahawk into the war-post standing in the midst of the council, and remarked with emphasis: "Since you are not inclined to fight, I will go and make peace." [FN] Saying which, he repaired to the camp of Lord Dunmore, who, having descended the Ohio, was now approaching the Scioto.


[FN] Doddridge.

Meantime General Lewis, having buried his dead, and made the necessary dispositions for an advance into the heart of the Indian country, moved forward in pursuit of the enemy—resolved upon his extermination. He was soon afterward met by a counter-order from Lord Dunmore, which he disregarded; and it was not until the Governor visited Lewis in his own camp, that a reluctant obedience was exacted. Meantime the negotiation proceeded, but under circumstances of distrust on the part of the Virginians, who were careful to admit only a small number of the Indians into their encampment at any one time. The chief speaker on the part of the Indians was Cornstock, who did not fail to charge the whites with being the sole cause of the war—enumerating the provocations which the Indians had received, and dwelling with peculiar force upon the murders committed in the family of Logan. [FN] This lofty chief himself refused to appear at the council. He was in favour of peace, but his proud spirit scorned to ask for it; and he remained in his cabin, brooding in melancholy silence over his own wrongs.


[FN] Cornstock was a truly great man. Col. Wilson, who was present at the interview between the Chief and Lord Dunmore, thus speaks of the chieftain's bearing on the occasion: "When he arose, he was in no wise confused or daunted, but spoke in a distinct and audible voice, without stammering or repetition, and with peculiar emphasis. His looks, while addressing Dunmore, were truly grand and majestic, yet graceful and attractive. I have heard the first orators in Virginia, Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee; but never have I heard one whose powers of delivery surpassed those of Cornstock."

Of so much importance was his name considered by Lord Dunmore however, that a special messenger was despatched to ascertain whether he would accede to the articles of peace. This messenger was Colonel John Gibson, an officer in Dunmore's army, and afterward a man of some distinction. The "Mingo Chief" did not dissent from the terms, but gave not his sanction without an eloquent rehearsal of his grievances—relating, in full, the circumstances of the butchery of his own entire family, to avenge which atrocities he had taken up the hatchet. His conference with Gibson took place in a solitary wood, and at its close, he charged him with the celebrated speech to Lord Dunmore, which has become familiar wherever the English language is spoken:—

"I appeal to any white man to say if he ever entered Logan's cabin hungry, and he gave him not meat; if ever he came cold and naked, and he clothed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed, as they passed, and said, 'Logan is the friend of the white men.' I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man. Colonel Cresap, the last Spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not even sparing my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it; I have killed many; I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country, I rejoice at the beams of peace; but do not harbour a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one."

This speech has ever been regarded as one of the most eloquent passages in the English language. Mr. Jefferson remarked of it—"I may challenge the whole orations of Demosthenes, and of Cicero, and of any more eminent orator, if Europe has furnished more eminent, to produce a single passage superior to it;" and an American statesman and scholar,[FN-1] scarcely less illustrious than the author of this noble eulogium, has subscribed to that opinion.[FN-2]


[FN-1] De Witt Clinton.

[FN-2] Thatcher's Ind. Biography. It is due in candour to state, that the authenticity of this celebrated speech has been questioned. On the first publication of Jefferson's Notes, the relatives and friends of Cresap made a great outcry against the charge of his having murdered Logan's family. Among other arguments in his defence, it was contended that the speech attributed to Logan had, in substance and almost in words, been delivered to the General Assembly of Virginia by a sachem named Lonan, twenty years before the date assigned to it by Mr. Jefferson. The speech referred to was discovered in the travels of Robin, a Frenchman, who visited the Colonies at an early period of the war of the Revolution. The passage stands thus in the English translation of "Robin's New Travels in America:"—

"Speech of the savage Lonan, in a General Assembly, as it was sent to the Governor of Virginia, anno 1754:—

"Lonan will no longer oppose making the proposed peace with the white men. You are sensible he never knew what fear is—that he never turned his back in the day of battle. No one has more love for the white men than I have. The war we have had with them has been long and bloody on both sides. Rivers of blood have run on all parts, and yet no good has resulted therefrom to any. I once more repeat it—let us be at peace with these men. I will forget our injuries; the interest of my country demands it. I will forget—but difficult, indeed, is the task! Yes, I will forget that Major —— cruelly and inhumanly murdered, in their canoes, my wife, my children, my father, my mother, and all my kindred. This roused me to deeds of vengeance! I was cruel in despite of myself. I will die content if my country is once more at peace, But when Lonan shall be no more, who, alas! will drop a tear to the memory of Lonan?"

If the date to this speech be the true one, there is an end to the claim of Logan. But the resemblance in many manuscripts, between the figures 4 and 7, is so close as to induce a belief, (Dr. Barton's Journal of 1808 to the contrary notwithstanding) that the error may have been made by the English translator. This opinion is strengthened by the similarity between the name given by Robin,—Lonan—and Logan. The difference consists in a single letter, and might well have been the error of the Frenchman, when writing the identical story of Logan. In the course of his investigations, Mr. Jefferson was furnished with a note, written by Logan, and sent to a white settlement, attached to a war-club, by the hand of an Indian runner, Heckewelder also says the speech was authenticated by Col. Gibson, and adds:—"For my part I am convinced that it was delivered precisely as it was related to us, with this only difference, that it possessed a force and expression in the Indian language, which it is impossible to translate info our own,"

Lord Dunmore, it is believed, was sincerely desirous of peace—from motives of humanity, we are ready to believe, although writers of less charity have attributed his course to a more unworthy feeling. Peace, therefore, was the result of the council. But it will readily be conceded that the Indian warriors could not have retired to their respective tribes and homes, with any feelings of particular friendship toward the white men. On the contrary, the pain of defeat, and the loss of the warriors who fell, were causes of irritating reflection, in addition to the original and grievous wrong they had suffered at the hands of Cresap and Greathouse. The Six Nations, as a confederacy, had not taken part in the war of the Virginia border; but many of their warriors were engaged in it, especially the Cayugas, to which nation Logan belonged, and the warriors of the Six Nations colonized on the banks of the Susquehanna and its tributary the Shamokin. These, it may be reasonably inferred, returned from the contest only to brood longer over their accumulated wrongs, and in a temper not over-inclined to cultivate the most amicable relations with the Colonies. In one word, the temper of the whole Indian race, with the exception of the Oneidas, was soured by these occurrences of the year 1774;—a most unfortunate circumstance, since events were then following in rapid succession, which within a twelvemonth rendered the friendship of the nations not only desirable, but an object of vast importance.

But before the direct narrative leading to those events is resumed, it may be well to end the melancholy tale of Logan, "which can be dismissed with no relief to its gloomy colours." After the peace of Chilicothe he sank into a state of deep mental depression, declaring that life was a torment to him. He became in some measure delirious;[FN-1] went to Detroit, and there yielded himself to habits of intoxication. In the end he became a victim to the same ferocious cruelty which had already rendered him a desolate man. Not long after the treaty, a party of whites murdered him as he was returning from Detroit to his own country.[FN-2]


[FN-1] Allen's Biog. Dic.

[FN-2] Thatcher.




CHAPTER III.


Unyielding course of the parent Government—Efforts of the Earl of Chatham unavailing—Address to the Crown from New-York—Leslie's Expedition to Salem—Affair of Lexington—Unwise movements of Tryon County loyalists—Reaction—Public meetings—The Sammons family—Interference of the Johnsons—Quarrel at Caughnawaga—Spirited indications at Cherry Valley—Counteracting-efforts of the Johnsons among their retainers—Intrigues with the Indians—Massachusetts attempts the same—Correspondence with the Stockbridge Indians—Letter to Mr. Kirkland—His removal by Guy Johnson—Neutrality of the Oneidas—Intercepted despatch from Brant to the Oneidas—Apprehensions of Guy Johnson—Correspondence—Farther precautions of the Committees—Reverence for the Laws—Letter of Guy Johnson to the Committees of Albany and Schenectady—Substance of the reply.

The parent government did not relax its coercive measures, notwithstanding the efforts of the Earl of Chatham, now venerable for his years, who, after a long retirement, returned once more into public life, to interpose his eloquence and the influence of his great name in behalf of the Colonies. His lordship's address to the King for the removal of the troops from Boston, was rejected by a large majority. His conciliatory bill was also rejected. On the 26th of January, Messrs. Bolland, Franklin, and Lee, the Committee from the Colonies, charged with presenting the petition of the Continental Congress for a redress of grievances, brought the subject before the House of Commons, and after an angry debate they refused to receive it by a decisive vote. Meantime bills were passed, by large majorities, restraining all the thirteen Colonies, excepting only New-York, Delaware, and North Carolina, from the prosecution of any foreign commerce other than with Great Britain and her dependencies. The Eastern States were likewise excluded from the fisheries of Newfoundland. But notwithstanding that, from motives of policy, New-York had been thus excepted from the restraining law, its local legislature was at the same time engaged in preparing a memorial to the Crown for a redress of grievances—a fact which the ministers soon learned, and not without mortification. The New-York address was a strong denunciation of the measures of the Government toward the Colonies, and an energetic appeal for redress. "We feel," said they, "the most ardent desire to promote a cordial reconciliation with the parent state, which can be rendered permanent and solid only by ascertaining the line of Parliamentary authority and American freedom, on just, equitable, and constitutional grounds. . . . From the year 1683 till the close of the late war, they had enjoyed a legislature consisting of three distinct branches, a Governor, Council, and general Assembly; under which political frame the representatives had uniformly exercised the right of their own civil government, and the administration of justice in the Colony. It is, therefore, with inexpressible grief that we have of late years seen measures adopted by the British Parliament, subversive of that constitution under which the good people of this Colony have always enjoyed the same rights and privileges, so highly and deservedly prized by their fellow-subjects of Great Britain." Adverting to the essential privilege of trial by a jury of the vicinage, they "view with horror the construction of the statute of the 35th of Henry the VIII. as held up by the joint address of both houses of Parliament in 1769, advising his Majesty to send for persons guilty of treasons and misprisions of treasons, in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, in order to be tried in England;" and they "are equally alarmed at the late acts, empowering his Majesty to send persons guilty of offences in one colony, to be tried in another or within the realm of England." They complain of the act of 7th of George the III. requiring the legislature of this Colony to make provision for the expense of the troops quartered among them; of the act suspending their legislative powers till they should have complied; and of the Quebec act; considering themselves as interested in whatever may affect their sister Colonies; they cannot help feeling for the distresses of their brethren in Massachusetts, from the operation of the several acts of Parliament passed relative to that province, and earnestly remonstrating in their behalf. "We claim," said they, "but a restoration of those rights which we enjoyed by general consent before the close of the last war; we desire no more than a continuation of that ancient government to which we are entitled by the principles of the British constitution, and by which alone can be secured to us the rights of Englishmen." The address was presented to the House of Commons by Mr. Burke, but was never called up. [FN]


[FN] Holmes's Annals.

A new Provincial Congress was assembled in Massachusetts in February, which, anticipating that the parent Government was preparing to strike the first blow at that Colony, adopted farther means of precaution and defence—but with great wisdom avoiding any thing like an overt act of resistance. Hostilities had well nigh been commenced on the 26th of February, between Salem and Danvers, by the opposition of Colonel Timothy Pickering and others, to Colonel Leslie, who had been sent to Salem by General Gage, to seize some military stores, which he had been informed were collecting at the former place. The interposition of Mr. Barnard, the minister of Salem, prevented the effusion of blood, and Leslie returned to Boston from a bootless errand.

The ill-starred expedition, by the direction of General Gage, to Concord, and the battle of Lexington on the 19th of April, gave the signal of a general rush to arms throughout most of the Colonies. True, it was not admitted to be a formal commencement of hostilities, and the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts despatched an account of that affair to Great Britain, with depositions, establishing the fact indisputably, that both at Concord and Lexington the firing had been commenced by the King's troops—Major Pitcairn himself discharging the first shot, at the former place. But although this message was accompanied by an address to the people of Great Britain with continued professions of loyalty, yet those professions were sent, hand in hand, with a declaration that they would "not tamely submit to the persecution and tyranny" of the existing ministry, and with an appeal to heaven for the justice of a cause in which they were determined to die or conquer. It was very evident, therefore, that reconciliation was out of the question, and that a trial of arms was near at hand. Of course the exasperation of the public mind was now at its height, and those who had not taken sides could no longer stand neutral.

It was at this moment, just as the Continental Congress was about to reassemble, and just as the exciting intelligence was received from Boston, that, most unwisely for themselves, the influential loyalists of Tryon County undertook to make a demonstration against the proceedings of the Congress of the preceding Autumn. A declaration in opposition to those proceedings was drawn up, and advantage taken of the gathering of the people at a Court holden in Johnstown, to obtain signatures. The discussions ran high upon the subject, but the movers in the affair succeeded in obtaining the names of a majority of the Grand Jurors, and the greater portion of the magistracy of the County.

The Whigs in attendance at the Court were indignant at this procedure, and on returning to their respective homes, communicated their feelings to those of their neighbors who had embraced kindred principles. Public meetings were called, and committees appointed in every district, and sub-committees in almost every hamlet in the County.[FN-1] The first of these public meetings was held at the house of John Veeder in Caughnawaga. It was attended by about three hundred people, who assembled, unarmed, for the purpose of deliberation, and also to erect a liberty-pole—the most hateful object of that day in the eyes of the loyalists. Among the leaders of the Whigs on that occasion, were Sampson Sammons, an opulent farmer residing in the neighbourhood, and two of his sons, Jacob and Frederick. Before they had accomplished their purpose of raising the emblem of rebellion, the proceedings were interrupted by the arrival of Sir John Johnson, accompanied by his brothers-in-law, Colonels Claus and Guy Johnson, together with Colonel John Butler, and a large number of their retainers, armed with swords and pistols. Guy Johnson mounted a high stoop and harangued the people at length, and with great vehemence. He dwelt upon the strength and power of the King, and attempted to show the folly of opposing his officers or revolting against the authority of his crown. A single ship, he said, would be sufficient to capture all the navy which could be set afloat by the Colonies; while on the frontiers, the Indians were under his Majesty's control, and his arms were sustained by a chain of fortified posts, extending from the Gulf of the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi. He was very virulent in his language toward the disaffected, causing their blood to boil with indignation. But they were unarmed, and for the most part unprepared, if not indisposed, to proceed to any act of violence. The orator at length became so abusive, that Jacob Sammons, no longer able to restrain himself, imprudently interrupted his discourse by pronouncing him a liar and a villain. Johnson thereupon seized Sammons by the throat, and called him a d—d villain in return. A scuffle ensued between them, during which Sammons was struck down with a loaded whip. On recovering from the momentary stupor of the blow, Sammons found one of Johnson's servants sitting astride of his body. A well-directed blow relieved him of that incumbrance, and, springing upon his feet, he threw off his coat and prepared for fight. Two pistols were immediately presented to his breast, but not discharged, as Sammons was again knocked down by the clubs of the loyalists, and severely beaten. On recovering his feet once more, he perceived that his Whig friends had all decamped, with the exception of the families of the Fondas, Veeders, and Visschers.[FN-2] The loyalists also drew off, and Jacob Sammons returned to his father's house, bearing upon his body the first scars of the Revolutionary contest in the County of Tryon.


[FN-1] The County of Tryon then included all the Colonial settlements West and South-west of Schenectady. It was taken from Albany County in 1772, and named in honour of William Tryon, then Governor of the Province. In 1784 the name was changed to Montgomery. When formed, it embraced all that part of the State lying West of a line running North and South, nearly through the centre of the present County of Schoharie. It was divided into five districts, which were again subdivided into smaller districts or precincts. The first, beginning at the East, was the Mohawk district, embracing Fort Hunter, Caughnawaga, Johnstown, and Kingsborough. Canajoharie district, embracing the present town of that name, with all the country South, including Cherry Valley and Harpersfield, Palatine district North of the river, and including the country known by the same name, with Stone Arabia, &c., and German Flats and Kingsland Districts, being then the most Western settlements, and the former now known by the same name. The county buildings were at Johnstown, where, as before mentioned, was the residence of Sir William Johnson.—Campbell's Annals.

[FN-2] Narratives of Jacob and Frederick Sammons, furnished to the author; repeated references to both of which will be made hereafter.

One of the largest and most spirited of these meetings took place in Cherry Valley. It was held in the church, and the people entered into the subject with so much enthusiasm, that they took their children to the assembly, that they might imbibe lessons of patriotism, as it were at the altar—thus hallowing the cause in which they were about to engage, with the impressive sanctions of religion. The orator of the occasion was an Indian interpreter by the name of Thomas Spencer; he was rude of speech, but forcible; and, warming with his theme, spoke with such power and effect, that the story of his eloquence yet lives in the annals of tradition. [FN] The result of this meeting was the adoption of a strong counter-declaration, condemning the proceedings of the loyalists at Johnstown, and approving, in the most unequivocal and solemn terms, of the proceedings of the Continental Congress.


[FN] And also in Campbell's Annals

These proceedings took place early in May. But from a letter addressed to the Committee of Safety of Albany, by the Committee of the Palatine district, on the 18th of that month, it appears that the Johnsons and their powerful confederates in the Mohawk district succeeded, by threats, intimidation, and an array of military strength, in preventing the adoption of a corresponding declaration by the Whigs. "This County," says the Palatine Committee, "has for a series of years been ruled by one family, the several branches of which are still strenuous in dissuading the people from coming into Congressional measures, and have even, last week, at a numerous meeting of the Mohawk district, appeared with all their dependents armed to oppose the people considering of their grievances; their number being so large, and the people unarmed, struck terror into most of them, and they dispersed." The Committee farther notified their friends in Albany, that Sir John Johnson was fortifying the Baronial Hall, by planting several swivels around it; and he had paraded parts of the regiment of militia which he commanded, on the day previous, for the purpose of intimidation, as it was conjectured. It was likewise reported that the Scotch Highlanders, settled in large numbers in and about Johnstown, who were Roman Catholics, had armed themselves to the number of one hundred and fifty, ready to aid in the suppression of any popular outbreaks in favor of the growing cause of Liberty.

Strong suspicions were early entertained that the Johnsons, Butlers, and Colonel Claus, were endeavouring to alienate the good-will of the Indians from the Colonists, and prepare them, in the event of open hostilities, to take up the hatchet against them. Thayendanegea, alias Joseph Brant, as heretofore mentioned, was now the secretary of Colonel Guy Johnson, the superintendent, and his activity was ceaseless. Notwithstanding his former friendship for Mr. Kirkland, the faithful missionary to the Oneidas, Thayendanegea was apprehensive that his influence would be exerted to alienate the Indians from the interests of the Crown, and attach them to those of the Colonists. The wily chief accordingly attempted to obtain the removal of Mr. Kirkland from his station; and at his instigation, a dissolute sachem of the Oneidas preferred charges against the minister to Guy Johnson, the superintendent. A correspondence took place between Johnson and Mr. Kirkland upon the subject, in which the latter sustained himself with force and dignity. The Oneida nation, moreover, rallied to his support, almost to a man; so that the superintendent was obliged, for the time being, to relinquish the idea of his forcible removal. [FN]


[FN] The correspondence referred to in this passage was discovered by the author among the unpublished papers of Mr. Kirkland—obligingly loaned for his use by President Kirkland of Boston.

Justice, however, both to Brant and Guy Johnson, requires it to be stated that the vigilant eyes of the Bostonians had already been directed to the importance of securing an interest among the Indians of the Six Nations, in anticipation of whatever events were to happen. To this end a correspondence was opened through Mr. Kirkland, even with the Mohawks, by the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, before the affair of Lexington and Concord. [FN] The following is a copy of the letter addressed to the missionary by the Provincial Congress:—


[FN] Sparks's Life and Cor. of Washington, vol. iii. Appendix.



"To The Rev. Samuel Kirkland.

"Concord, April 4th, 1775.

"Sir,

"The Provincial Congress have thought it necessary to address the sachem of the Mohawk tribe, with the rest of the Six Nations, upon the subject of the controversy between Great Britain and the American Colonies. We are induced to take this measure, as we have been informed that those who are inimical to us in Canada have been tampering with those nations, and endeavouring to attach them to the interest of those who are attempting to deprive us of our inestimable rights and privileges, and to subjugate the Colonies to arbitrary power. From a confidence in your attachment to the cause of liberty and your country, we now transmit to you the enclosed address, and desire you will deliver it to the sachem of the Mohawk tribe, to be communicated to the rest of the Six Nations; and that you will use your influence with them to join with us in the defence of our rights; but if you cannot prevail with them to take an active part in this glorious cause, that you will at least engage them to stand neuter, and not by any means to aid and assist our enemies; and as we are at a loss for the name of the sachem of the Mohawk tribe, we have left it to you to direct the address to him, in such way as you may think proper."

There were at that time dwelling at Stockbridge, in the western part of Massachusetts, a remnant of the Mohickanders, or "River Indians" as they were usually called during the greater portion of the last century, but latterly Stockbridge Indians, from their locality. These Indians were the remains of the Muhhekaneew [FN-1] of the Hudson river, at the time of the discovery. They came originally, according to their own traditions, from the far West—even beyond the great lakes. That such was their original location is supported by the fact, that their language was radically different from that of the Narragansetts and New England Indians generally, and also from the language of the Five Nations. Its affinities were allied to the Shawanese and Chippewa, affording farther evidence that they had emigrated from the West, crossing the country of the Delawares, and establishing themselves on the banks of the Hudson, or Mohickannittuck as the North River was called. They were a powerful tribe at the time of the discovery, numbering a thousand warriors, and inhabiting the country between the Upper Delaware and the Hudson, together with portions of territory now included in Massachusetts and Vermont. They dwelt mostly in little towns and villages, their chief seat being the site of the present city of Albany—called by them Pempo-towwuthut-Muhhecanneuw, or the Fire-place of the Nation. Becoming feeble and dispersed as the white population increased around and among them—although their numbers had been partially recruited by refugees from the Narragansetts and Pequods, on the conquest of those nations—the Muhhekaneew were collected together at Stockbridge, in 1736, under the care of the Rev. John Sergeant, who, and his son after him, were long the spiritual guides of the tribe. They were ever faithful to the English, having been actively employed by General Shirley to range the country between Lake George and Montreal, during the French war ending in the conquest of Canada. [FN-2]


[FN-1] This is the orthography of Dr. Edwards, who was long a missionary among them at Stockbridge. Heckewelder says their proper name was Mahicanni. It is one of the most difficult things in the world to arrive at any thing like system or certainty in regard to Indian names of persons, places, or things. For instance, the author has papers before him at the time of writing, in which the River Indians are called Moheagans, Mourigans, or Mahingans, (French,) Mahickanders, (Dutch,) Mohiccons, (English,) Mohuccans, Mahickinders, Schaticooks, Wabingas, Muhheakunnuks, and the Moheakounucks; indeed, it has been the practice of writers of different, and of even the same nations, to spell more by the ear than by rule, until our Indian names have been involved in almost inextricable confusion.

[FN-2] Brown, in his pamphlet History of Schoharie, gives a singular tradition in regard to the kings of the Mohawks, of which I have found no other mention. Mohawks and River Indians were once bitter enemies, the former becoming the scourge and terror of the latter. Brown states that the last battle between the Mohegan's and Mohawks took place on Wanton Island, in the Hudson River, not far from Catskill. The question between them was, which should have the honour of naming their king, or which should have the preference in the kingly honours. Both nation collected their utmost strength upon that island, for the purpose of a final decision and fought a pitched battle, which continued during the whole day. Toward night the Mohawks, finding that the Mohegans were likely to prove an overmatch for them, deemed it necessary to resort to stratagem, for which purpose they suddenly took to flight, and gained another island in the evening. They here kindled a great number of fires, and spread their blankets on some bushes, gathered and disposed around them for that purpose, as though they themselves had encamped by their fires as usual. The Mohegans following on, landed upon the island in the depth of night, and were completely taken in by the deception. Supposing that the Mohawks were sleeping soundly beneath their blankets, after their fatigue the Mohegans crept up with the greatest silence, and pouring a heavy fire upon the blankets, rushed upon them with knives and tomahawks in hand, making the air to ring with their yells as they fell to cutting and slashing the blankets and bushes instead of Indians beneath them. Just at the moment of their greatest confusion and exultation the Mohawks, who had been lying in ambush flat upon the ground at a little distance, poured a murderous fire upon their foes, whose figures were rendered distinctly visible by the light of their fires, and rushing impetuously upon them, killed the greater part and made prisoners of the residue. A treaty was then concluded, by which the Mohawks were to have the king, and the Mohegans were to hold them in reverence and call them "Uncle." Hendrick was the king first named such by the Mohawks, after this decisive victory, "who lived to a great age," says Brown, "and was killed at the battle of Lake George under Sir William Johnson."—Author.

The relations of the Stockbridge Indians with the Oneidas had become intimate, and it is very possible that the negotiations had even then commenced between the two tribes, which a few years afterward resulted in the removal of the Stockbridge Indians to the Oneida. Be that, however, as it may, when the troubles began to thicken, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts sent a message to the Stockbridge Indians, apprising them of the gathering tempest, and expressing a desire to cultivate a good understanding between them. The Indians, in return, dispatched Captain Solomon Ahhaunnauwaumut, their chief sachem, to the Congress, to make a reply, and on the 11th of April he delivered the following speech:

"Brothers: We have heard you speak by your letter—we thank you for it—we now make answer.

"Brothers: You remember when you first came over the great waters, I was great and you was little, very small. I then took you in for a friend, and kept you under my arms, so that no one might injure you; since that time we have ever been true friends; there has never been any quarrel between us. But now our conditions are changed. You are become great and tall. You reach to the clouds. You are seen all around the world, and I am become small, very little. I am not so high as your heel. Now you take care of me, and I look to you for protection.

"Brothers: I am sorry to hear of this great quarrel between you and Old England. It appears that blood must soon be shed to end this quarrel. We never till this day understood the foundation of this quarrel between you and the country you came from.

"Brothers: Whenever I see your blood running, you will soon find me about to revenge my brother's blood. Although I am low and very small, I will gripe hold of your enemy's heel, that he cannot run so fast, and so light, as if he had nothing at his heels.

"Brothers: You know I am not so wise as you are, therefore I ask your advice in what I am now going to say. I have been thinking, before you come to action, to take a run to the westward, and feel the mind of my Indian brethren, the Six Nations, and know how they stand—whether they are on your side or for your enemies. If I find they are against you, I will try to turn their minds. I think they will listen to me, for they have always looked this way for advice, concerning all important news that comes from the rising of the sun. If they hearken to me, you will not be afraid of any danger behind you. However their minds are affected, you shall soon know by me. Now I think I can do you more service in this way, than by marching off immediately to Boston, and staying there; it may be a great while before blood runs. [FN] Now, as I said, you are wiser than I; I leave this for your consideration, whether I come down immediately or wait till I hear some blood is spilled."


[FN] A company of minute-men, composed of the Stockbridge Indians, was organized by the Massachusetts Congress before the battle of Lexington. They were retained in service some time after the war began, and came down and joined the camp at Cambridge.—Spetz.

"Brothers: I would not have you think by this that we are falling back from our engagements. We are ready to do any thing for your relief, and shall be guided by your counsel.

"Brothers: One thing I ask of you, if you send for me to fight, that you will let me fight in my own Indian way. I am not used to fight English fashion, therefore you must not expect I can train like your men. Only point out to me where your enemies keep, and that is all I shall want to know."

Two days afterward the Congress directed the following reply to be made to the Moheakounnuck tribe, through their chieftain:

"Brothers: We this day, by the delegate from Stockbridge, first heard of your friendly answer to our speech to you by Captain William Goodrich, which answer we are told you made to us immediately by a letter, which we have not yet received. We now reply:

"Brothers: You say that you were once great, but that you are now little; and that we were once little and are now great. The Supreme Spirit orders these things. Whether we are little or great, let us keep the path of friendship clear, which our fathers made, and in which we have both traveled to this time. The friends of the wicked counselors of our King fell upon us, and shed some blood soon after we spake to you last by letter. But we, with a small twig, killed so many, and frightened them so much, that they have shut themselves up in our great town, called Boston, which they have made strong. We have now made our hatchets, and all our instruments of war, sharp and bright. All the chief counselors, who live on this side the great water, are sitting in the grand Council House in Philadelphia; when they give the word, we shall all as one man, fall on, and drive our enemies out of their strong fort, and follow them till they shall take their hands out of our pouches, and let us sit in our council-house, as we used to do, and as our fathers did in old times.

"Brothers: Though you are small, yet you are wise. Use your wisdom to help us. If you think it best, go and smoke your pipe with your Indian brothers toward the setting of the sun, and tell them of all you hear and all you see; and let us know what their wise men say. If some of your young men should have a mind to see what we are doing, let them come down and tarry among our warriors. We will provide for them while they are here.

"Brothers: When you have any trouble, come and tell it to us, and we will help you.

"To Captain Solomon Ahhaunnauwaumut, chief Sachem of the Moheakounnuck Indians."

These documents have been thus incidentally introduced, not only as being connected with the main history, and also as being interesting in themselves, but in justice to Guy Johnson; since, in regard to his own measures of defensive preparation, he is entitled to the benefit of all the facts, going to warrant his suspicions that an extraneous influence was exerting over the subjects of his general superintendency; and it can hardly be supposed that he was kept altogether in ignorance, either of the correspondence with Mr. Kirkland or of that with the Stockbridge Indians, through whom, probably, the Bostonians were at the same time holding intercourse with the Six Nations. These circumstances could not but awaken a lively jealousy, in regard to the movements of the white people among the Indians under his charge, and especially in regard to Mr. Kirkland. Accordingly, although in the month of February the superintendent had not been able to effect the removal of Mr. Kirkland from his station among the Oneidas, he nevertheless accomplished that object in the course of the Spring, as appears by a letter from the missionary himself, addressed from Cherry Valley to the Albany Committee:

"Mr. Kirkland to the Committee of Albany.

Cherry Valley, Jan. 9, 1775.

"Gentlemen,

"I am much embarrassed at present. You have doubtless heard that Colonel Johnson has orders from Government to remove the dissenting missionaries from the Six Nations, till the difficulties between Great Britain and the Colonies are settled; in consequence of which he has forbidden my return to thy people at Oneida. He has since given encouragement that I may revisit them after the Congress is closed; but to be plain, I have no dependence at all on his promises of this kind. He appears unreasonably jealous of me, and has forbidden my speaking a word to the Indians, and threatened me with confinement if I transgress. All he has against me I suppose to be a suspicion that I have interpreted to the Indians the doings of the Continental Congress, which has undeceived them, and too much opened their eyes for Colonel Johnson's purposes. I confess to you, gentlemen, that I have been guilty of this, if it be a transgression. The Indians found out that I had received the abstracts of said Congress, and insisted upon knowing the contents. I could not deny them, notwithstanding my cloth, though in all other respects I have been extremely cautious not to meddle in matters of a political nature. I apprehend that my interpreting the doings of the Congress to a number of their sachems, has done more real good to the cause of the country, or the cause of truth and justice, than five hundred pounds in presents would have effected."

Mr. Kirkland no doubt spoke the honest truth in this letter. His influence was great among the Oneidas, and deservedly so. Hence, had he undertaken the task, he might, beyond all doubt, and easily, have persuaded the Indians of his forest-charge to espouse the cause of the Colonies. But he did no such thing; or, at least, he avoided the exertion of any farther influence than to persuade them to the adoption of a neutral policy. This determination, probably, was an act of their own volition, after listening to the interpretation of the proceedings of Congress. It was made known to the people of New England by the following address, transmitted by the Oneidas to Governor Trumbull, of Connecticut, with a request that he would cause it to be communicated to the four New England Colonies:

"The Oneida Indians to Governor Trumbull.

"As my younger brothers of the New England Indians, who have settled in our vicinity, are now going down to visit their friends, and to move up parts of their families that were left behind—with this belt by them, I open the road wide, clearing it of all obstacles, that they may visit their friends and return to their settlements here in peace.

"We Oneidas are induced to this measure on account of the disagreeable situation of affairs that way; and we hope, by the help of God, they may return in peace. We earnestly recommend them to your charity through their long journey.

"Now we more immediately address you, our brother, the Governor, and the chiefs of New England.

"Brothers: We have heard of the unhappy differences and great contention between you and Old England. We wonder greatly, and are troubled in our minds.

"Brothers: Possess your minds in peace respecting us Indians. We cannot intermeddle in this dispute between two brothers. The quarrel seems to be unnatural. You are two brothers of one blood. We are unwilling to join on either side in such a contest, for we bear an equal affection to both you Old and New England. Should the great king of England apply to us for aid, we shall deny him; if the Colonies apply, we shall refuse. The present situation of you two brothers is new and strange to us. We Indians cannot find, nor recollect in the traditions of our ancestors, the like case, or a similar instance.

"Brothers: For these reasons possess your minds in peace, and take no umbrage that we Indians refuse joining in the contest. We are for peace.

"Brothers: Was it an alien, a foreign nation, who had struck you, we should look into the matter. We hope, through the wise government and good pleasure of God, your distresses may be soon removed and the dark clouds be dispersed.

"Brothers: As we have declared for peace, we desire you will not apply to our Indian brethren in New England for their assistance. Let us Indians be all of one mind, and live with one another; and you white people settle your own disputes between yourselves.

"Brothers: We have now declared our minds; please to write to us, that we may know yours. We, the sachems and warriors, and female governesses of Oneida, send our love to you, brother governor, and all the other chiefs in New England." [FN]


[FN] The translation of this Oneida proclamation of neutrality was made by Mr. Kirkland, for Gordon's History of the Revolution. It was signed by William Sunoghsis, Nickldsha Watshaledgh, William Kanaghquaesed, Peter Thayebeare, Jimmy Tekayabeare, Nickbis Aghsenbare, i. e. garter; Thomas Yoghtanowea, i. e. spreading of the dew; Adam Ohenwano, Quedellis Agwerondongwas, i. e. breaking of the twigs; Handerebeks Tegahsweahdyen, i. e. a belt (of wampum) extended; Johnko' Skeanendon, Thomas Teondeatha, i. e. a fallen tree.

Of an Indian foe the inhabitants of Tryon County entertained a special dread. In the communication of the Palatine Committee to that of Albany, therefore, cited a few pages back, it was suggested whether it would not be expedient to prevent the sending of powder and ammunition into the Mohawk Valley, unless consigned to the Committee, to be sold under their inspection. In conclusion, the Committee declared, that, although few in number, they were determined to let the world see who were, and who were not, attached to the cause of American liberty; and they closed by avowing their fixed determination, "to carry into execution every thing recommended by the Continental Congress, and to be free or die."

Three days after making this communication to their Albany brethren, that is to say on the 21st of May, the question whether Guy Johnson was or was not tampering with the Indians in anticipation of hostilities, was solved by an intercepted communication from Thayendanegea to the chiefs of the Oneida tribe. The letter, written in the Mohawk language, was found in an Indian path, and was supposed to have been lost by one of their runners. The following is a translation, being the earliest specimen extant of the composition of Brant.

"Written at Guy Johnson's, May, 1775

"This is your letter, you great ones or sachems. Guy Johnson says he will be glad if you get this intelligence, you Oneidas, how it goes with him now; and he is now more certain concerning the intention of the Boston people. Guy Johnson is in great fear of being taken prisoner by the Bostonians. We Mohawks are obliged to watch him constantly. Therefore we send you this intelligence, that you shall know it; and Guy Johnson assures himself, and depends upon your coming to his assistance, and that you will without fail be of that opinion. He believes not that you will assent to let him suffer. We therefore expect you in a couple of days time. So much at present. We send but so far as to you Oneidas, but afterward perhaps to all the other nations. We conclude, and expect that you will have concern about our ruler, Guy Johnson, because we are all united.

"(Signed) Aren Kannenzaron, Johannes Tegarihoge, Deyagodeaghnaweagh. "Joseph Brant Guy Johnson's Interpreter."

The surface of this intercepted despatch discloses nothing more than a desire, on the part of Guy Johnson, to strengthen his domestic forces for the protection of his person, in the event of any attempt to seize and carry him away. But the inhabitants allowed him no credit for sincerity. Information had been received from Canada, through the emissaries sent thither by the revolutionary leaders in Massachusetts, that secret agents of the Crown had been sent among the Six Nations, to stir them up against the Colonies.[FN-1] Hence the correspondence of the Massachusetts Congress with Mr. Kirkland and the Indians, already given; and hence, also, the increasing apprehension of the people, that the Indians were to be inflamed and let loose upon them. Such, consequently, was their distrust of Johnson, that they neither believed there was any design against his person, nor that he was laboring under any apprehension of the kind. There is no reason to doubt, however, that Guy Johnson did feel his position to be critical. General Schuyler had his eye upon him; and, beyond question, his every motion was so closely watched as to make him feel very uncomfortable.[FN-2]


[FN-1] Sparks.

[FN-2] "Watch the movements of the Indian agent, Colonel Guy Johnson, and prevent, so far as you can, the effect of his influence, to our prejudice, with the Indians."—Letter from Washington to Gen. Schuyler, June, 1775.

Evidence, indisputable, that such was the fact, is afforded in the correspondence annexed. The following letter was addressed, at about the same time, by Guy Johnson to the magistrates of the Upper Mohawk settlements:—

"Guy Park, May 20th, 1775.

"Gentlemen,

"I have lately had repeated accounts that a body of New Englanders, or others, were to come to seize and carry away my person and attack our family, under colour of malicious insinuations that I intended to set the Indians upon the people. Men of sense and character know that my office is of the highest importance to promote peace amongst the Six Nations, and prevent their entering into any such disputes. This I effected last year, when they were much vexed about the attack made upon the Shawanese, and I last winter appointed them to meet me this month to receive the answer of the Virginians. All men must allow, that if the Indians find their council fire disturbed, and their superintendent insulted, they will take a dreadful revenge. It is therefore the duty of all people to prevent this, and to satisfy any who may have been imposed on, that their suspicions, and the allegations they have collected against me, are false, and inconsistent with my character and office. I recommend this to you as highly necessary at this time, as my regard for the interest of the country, and self-preservation, has obliged me to fortify my house, and keep men armed for my defence, till these idle and ridiculous reports are removed.

"You may lay this letter before such as are interested in these matters.

"I am. Gentlemen, Your Humble Servant, G. Johnson. "To the magistrates and others of Palatine, Canajoharie, and the Upper Districts." [FN]


[FN] This letter is transcribed from the original la the author's possession.

In view of these letters—the intercepted despatch from Joseph Brant and others to the Oneidas, and Johnson's letter to the Committee—the latter body adopted a series of resolutions, renewing their expressions of sympathy for the sufferings of their brethren in Massachusetts and the other Colonies; declaring their approbation of the proceedings of the New England Colonies in the existing crisis; denouncing the conduct of Colonel Johnson in keeping an armed force constantly about him, and stopping travelers upon the King's highway, "as arbitrary, illegal, oppressive, and unwarrantable:" and declaring their determination "never to submit to any arbitrary acts of any power under heaven, or to any illegal and unwarrantable action of any man or set of men" whatever.

In addition to the before-mentioned intercepted letter, it was ascertained that already expresses had actually been sent to the upper tribes of the Six Nations, to invite them down to Guy Johnson's house. His own domestic army amounted to five hundred men, and he had now cut off all free communication between the upper Mohawk settlements and Albany. And although the districts of Palatine, Canajoharie, and the German Flats were sanctioning the proceedings of the Continental Congress with much unanimity, they were in a great measure unarmed and destitute of ammunition—not having more than fifty pounds of powder in the districts. Under these circumstances, the Committee wrote an urgent letter to Albany, representing their situation, and suggesting whether it might not be expedient to open the communication through the lower districts of the valley by force. They also advised the sending of two trusty messengers, well acquainted with the Indian language, to the upper nations, to dissuade them, if possible, from obeying the summons of Guy Johnson, and to enlighten them in respect of the true nature and causes of the quarrel with the King's government.

This letter was despatched by express, and the Albany Committee replied on the following day, advising their friends of the upper districts that they had no ammunition to spare, and dissuading them from any attempt to re-open the communication by force. That project was accordingly abandoned; but the Committee sent four of its members to Albany, to gain information as to the condition of the country generally, and with instructions to procure a quantity of powder and lead—the Committee holding itself responsible for the purchase money. Meantime they pushed their measures of internal organization with great energy and success, establishing sub-committees wherever it was expedient, and assuming the exercise of legislative, judicial, and executive powers. Secret articles for mutual succour and defence were prepared, and very generally signed by the Whigs; and threats having been uttered by Guy Johnson, that unless the Committees desisted from the course they were pursuing, he would seize and imprison certain of their number, they solemnly bound themselves to rescue any who might thus be arrested, by force, "unless such persons should be confined by legal process, issued upon a legal ground, and executed in a legal manner."

It is here worthy, not only of special note, but of all admiration, how completely and entirely these border-men held themselves amenable, in the most trying exigencies, to the just execution of the laws. Throughout all their proceedings, the history of the Tryon Committees will show that they were governed by the purest dictates of patriotism, and the highest regard to moral principle. Unlike the rude inhabitants of most frontier settlements, especially under circumstances when the magistracy are, from necessity, almost powerless, the frontier patriots of Tryon County were scrupulous in their devotion to the supremacy of the laws. Their leading men were likewise distinguished for their intelligence; and while North Carolina is disputing whether she did not in fact utter a declaration of independence before it was done by Congress, by recurring to the first declaration of the Palatine Committee, noted in its proper place, the example may almost be said to have proceeded from the Valley of the Mohawk.

Simultaneously with his letter to the magistracy of the upper districts, Guy Johnson had despatched another of the same purport, but entering more into detail, to the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonalty of the cities of Albany and Schenectady, of which the following is a copy. The date is wanting:—

"Gentlemen,

"As the peace and happiness of the country are objects which every good man should have at heart, I think it highly necessary to acquaint you that for a few days I have been put to the great trouble and expense of fortifying my house, and keeping a large body of men for the defence of my person, &c.; having received repeated accounts that either the New Englanders, or some persons in or about the city of Albany or town of Schenectady, are coming up, to a considerable number, to seize and imprison me on a ridiculous and malicious report that I intend to make the Indians destroy the inhabitants, or to that effect. The absurdity of this apprehension may easily be seen by men of sense; but as many credulous and ignorant persons may be led astray, and inclined to believe it, and as they have already sent down accounts, examinations, &c. from busy people here, that I can fully prove to be totally devoid of all foundation, it has become the duty of all those who have authority or influence, to disabuse the public, and prevent consequences which I foresee with very great concern, and most cordially wish may be timely prevented. Any difference in political ideas can never justify such extravagant opinions; and I little imagined that they should have gained belief amongst any order of people, who know my character, station, and the large property I have in the country, and the duties of my office, which are to preserve tranquility among the Indians, hear their grievances, &c. and prevent them from falling upon the trade and frontiers. These last were greatly threatened by the Indians, on account of the disturbances last year between the Virginians and the Shawanese, during which my endeavours prevented the Six Nations from taking a part that would have possibly affected the public; and I appointed last Fall that the Six Nations should come to me this month, in order to receive, amongst other things, final satisfaction concerning the lands said to be invaded by the Virginians, who have now sent me their answer. In the discharge of this duty, I likewise essentially served the public; but should I neglect myself and be tamely made prisoner, it is clear to all who know any thing of Indians, they will not sit still and see their council fire extinguished, and superintendent driven from his duty, but will come upon the frontiers in revenge, with a power sufficient to commit horrid devastation. It is, therefore, become as necessary to the public as to myself, that my person should be defended; but as the measures I am necessitated to take for that purpose may occasion the propagation of additional falsehoods, and may at last appear to the Indians in a light that is not for the benefit of the public, I should heartily wish, gentlemen, that you could take such measures for removing these apprehensions, as may enable me to discharge my duties, (which do not interfere with the public,) without the protection of armed men and the apprehension of insult; and as the public are much interested in this, I must beg to have your answer as soon as possible.

"I am, Gentlemen, Your most humble Servant, G. Johnson. [FN] "To the Magistrates and Committee of Schenectady, and to the Mayor, Corporation, &c. of Albany. To be forwarded by the former."


[FN] This letter has been copied from the original, found by the author among the old papers in the office of the Secretary of State, Albany.

To this letter the municipality of Albany promptly replied, expressing their conviction that the reports were utterly groundless, and that they had been originated for the purpose of awakening hostile feelings in the minds of the Indians. They also gave the Colonel an admonitory hint that he need be apprehensive of no indignity upon his person, or injury to his property, so long as he studied to promote the peace and welfare of the country, by executing his duties as superintendent of the Indians "with an honest heart." In conclusion, they exhorted him to use all means in his power to tranquilize the Indians, by assuring them that the reports were without any just foundation, and "that nothing would afford his Majesty's subjects in general a greater satisfaction than to be, and continue with them, on the strictest terms of peace and friendship."

On the whole, however, there is no good reason to doubt that Guy Johnson was, in reality, apprehensive of a clandestine visit from the Yankees, and possibly of an abduction. The great influence of his official station, and his equivocal conduct, had created universal distrust; and the affair of the "Tea Party" had taught the loyalists, that the Bostonians were as adroit and fearless in stratagem as in deeds of open daring and bold emprise. Before the receipt of the preceding letters, moreover, it was well understood that he had arrested and searched the persons of two New Englanders, suspicious, as it was inferred, and probably not without reason, that they had been despatched on a mission to the Indians, with whom it was policy to prevent any communication, save through his own interposition. Nor could he be ignorant of the fact, that at that critical conjuncture, the possession of his person might be of as much consequence to those who were on the verge of rebellion, as of detriment to the service in which his predilections would probably induce him to engage.




CHAPTER IV.


Council of the Mohawk chiefs at Guy Park—A second council called by Johnson at Cosby's Manor—Proceeds thither with his retinue—First full meeting of Tryon County Committee—Correspondence with Guy Johnson—No council held—Johnson proceeds farther West, accompanied by his family and most of the Indians—Consequent apprehensions of the people—Communication from Massachusetts Congress—Ticonderoga and Crown Point taken by Ethan Allen—Skenesborough and St. Johns surprised—Farther proceedings in Massachusetts—Battle of Bunker Hill—Death of Warren—Council with the Oneidas and Tuscaroras at German Flats—Speech to the Indians—Subsequent council with the Oneidas—Conduct of the people toward Guy Johnson—Speech to, and reply of Oneidas—Guy Johnson moves westwardly to Ontario—His letter to the Provincial Congress of New-York—Holds a great Indian council at the West—Unfavourable influence upon the dispositions of the Indians—Causes of their partiality for the English—Great, but groundless alarm of the people—Guy Johnson, with Brant and the Indian warriors, descends the St. Lawrence to Montreal—Council there—Sir Guy Carleton and Gen. Haldimand complete the work of winning the Indians over to the cause of the Crown.

A council of the Mohawk chiefs was held at Guy Park, [FN-1] on the 25th of May, which was attended by delegates from Albany and Tryon Counties. The records of this council are very scanty and unsatisfactory. The principal chief of the Mohawk tribe at that time was Little Abraham [FN-2]—a brother of the famous Hendrick who fell at Lake George, in the year 1775. The council having been opened for business, Little Abraham addressed them as follows:—


[FN-1] Guy Park: a beautiful situation immediately on the bank of the Mohawk. The elegant stone mansion is yet upon the premises, giving the best evidences of substantial building.

[FN-2] Little Abraham seems rather to have been a leading chief at the Lower Castle of the Mohawks—not the principal War Chief.

"He said he was glad to meet them, and to hear the reports concerning taking Guy Johnson, their superintendent, were false. That the Indians do not wish to have a quarrel with the inhabitants. That during Sir William Johnson's lifetime, and since, we have been peaceably disposed; that the Indians are alarmed on account of the reports that our powder was stopped. We get our things from the superintendent. If we lived as you do, it would not be so great a loss. If our ammunition is stopped, we shall distrust you. We are pleased to hear you say, you will communicate freely, and we will at all times listen to what you say in presence of our superintendent."

After a consultation with each other, the deputations from the two County Committees replied, in substance, that "They were glad to hear them expressing a desire to maintain the ancient friendship which had subsisted between their fathers, they assured the chiefs that the reports of evil designs against their superintendent were false. They farther promised the chiefs, that whenever they had any business to transact with them, they would meet them at their own council fires, and in presence of their superintendent."

To which the Mohawk speaker responded to the following effect:—

"The Indians are glad that you are not surprised that we cannot spare Col. Johnson. The love we have for the memory of Sir William Johnson, and the obligations the whole Six Nations are under to him, must make us regard and protect every branch of his family. We will explain these things to all the Indians, and hope you will do the same to your people."

This council having been but thinly attended, and only by one tribe of the Indians, the superintendent immediately directed the assembling of another in the western part of the county, to attend which he proceeded to the German Flats, with his whole family and retinue. His quarters were at the house of a Mr. Thompson, on Cosby's manor, a few miles above the Flats. It has been alleged that this second council was convoked because of the superintendent's dissatisfaction with the first—a conclusion not unlikely, from the absence of the western Indians, who had been invited.

On the 2d of June there was, for the first time, a full meeting of the Tryon County Committee—the loyalists having previously prevented the attendance of delegates from the lower, or Mohawk district. [FN] This Committee addressed a strong and patriotic letter to the superintendent, formally notifying him of the purposes of their organization. After adverting to the oppressions of the mother country, in repeated attempts to enforce unconstitutional enactments of Parliament, and asserting their principles on the subject of taxation without representation—principles which they declared to be undeniable—they avowed their object to be, to consult as to the best methods of saving the country from devastation and ruin; "which object, with the assistance of Divine Providence, it was their fixed determination and resolution to accomplish;" adding, with emphasis, "and if called upon, we shall be foremost in sharing the toil and danger of the field." They once more adverted to the distressed situation of the people of New England in the common cause; and declared that they should be wanting in duty to their country and to themselves, were they longer to refrain from announcing their determination to the world. After repelling the charges promulgated against them, of having compelled people to join their Committees, and of having drunk treasonable toasts, they proceeded to discuss matters more directly personal to the superintendent himself The following is an extract from this portion of the letter:—


[FN] It may be interesting to some to give the names of this body of men, who had so often professed their willingness to peril their lives and property in defence of the liberties of their country. (From Palatine district)—Christopher P. Yates, John Frey, Andrew Fink, Andrew Reeber, Peter Waggoner, Daniel McDougal, Jacob Klock, George Ecker, Jun., Harmanus Van Slyck, Christopher W. Fox, Anthony Van Veghten. (Canajoharie district)—Nicholas Herkimer, Ebenezer Cox, William Seeber, John Moore, Samuel Campbell, Samuel Clyde, Thomas Henry, John Pickard. (Kingsland and German Flats districts)—Edward Wall, William Petry, John Petry, Augustine Hess, Frederick Orendorf, George Wentz, Michael Ittig, Frederick Fox, George Herkimer, Duncan McDougal, Frederick Helmer, John Frink. (Mohawk district)—John Morlett, John Bliven, Abraham Van Home, Adam Fonda, Frederick Fisher, Sampson Sammons, William Schuyler, Volkert Veeder, James McMaster, Daniel Line—42. Christopher P. Yates was chosen chairman of this body.—Campbells Annals.

"We are not ignorant of the very great importance of your office as superintendent of the Indians, and therefore it is no more our duty than inclination to protect you in the discharge of the duty of your proper province; and we meet you with pleasure in behalf of ourselves and our constituents, to thank yon for meeting the Indians in the upper parts of the County, which may be the means of easing the people of the remainder of their fears on this account, and prevent the Indians committing irregularities on their way down to Guy Park. And we beg of you to use your endeavours with the Indians, to dissuade them from interfering in the dispute with the mother country and the Colonies. We cannot think that, as you and your family possess very large estates in this County, you are unfavourable to American freedom, although you may differ with us in the mode of obtaining a redress of grievances. Permit us farther to observe, that we cannot pass over in silence the interruption which the people of the Mohawk district met in their meeting; which, we are informed, was conducted in a peaceable manner; and the inhuman treatment of a man, whose only crime was being faithful to his employers, and refusing to give an account of the receipt of certain papers, to persons who had not the least colour of right to demand any thing of that kind. We assure you that we are much concerned about it, as two important rights of English subjects are thereby infringed—to wit, a right to meet, and to obtain all the intelligence in their power."

Colonel Nicholas Herkimer and Edward Wall were deputed to deliver the letter to the superintendent, for which purpose they proceeded to Cosby's Manor, and discharged their trust. The following was Colonel Johnson's reply—manly and direct; and with which, if sincere, certainly no fault could be found, bating the lack of courtesy in its commencement:—

"Thompson's, Cosby's Manor, June 5th, 1775.

"Gentlemen,

"I have received the paper signed Chris. P. Yates, Chairman, on behalf of the districts therein mentioned, which I am now to answer, and shall do it briefly, in the order you have stated matters. As to the letter from some Indians to the Oneidas, I really knew nothing of it till I heard such a thing had been by some means obtained from an Indian messenger, and from what I have heard of its contents, I can't see any thing material in it, or that could justify such idle apprehensions; but I must observe that these fears among the people were talked of long before, and were, I fear, propagated by some malicious persons for a bad purpose.

"As to your political sentiments, on which you enter in the next paragraph, I have no occasion to enter on them or the merits of the cause. I desire to enjoy liberty of conscience and the exercise of my own judgment, and that all others should have the same privilege; but, with regard to your saying you might have postponed the affair, if there had been the least kind of probability that the petition of the General Assembly would have been noticed, more than that of the delegates, I must, as a true friend to the country, in which I have a large interest, say, that the present dispute is viewed in different lights according to the education and principles of the parties affected; and that, however reasonable it may appear to a considerable number of honest men here, that the petition of the delegates should merit attention, it is not viewed in the same light in a country which admits of no authority that is not constitutionally established; and I persuade myself you have that reverence for his Majesty, that you will pay due regard to the royal assurance given in his speech to Parliament, that whenever the American grievances should be laid before him by their constitutional assemblies, they should be fully attended to. I have heard that compulsory steps were taken to induce some persons to come into your measures, and treasonable toasts drank; but I am not willing to give too easy credit to flying reports, and am happy to hear you disavow them.

"I am glad to find my calling a Congress on the frontiers gives satisfaction; this was principally my design, though I cannot sufficiently express my surprise at those who have, either through malice or ignorance, misconstrued my intentions, and supposed me capable of setting the Indians on the peaceable inhabitants of this country. The interest our family has in this country and my own, is considerable, and they have been its best benefactors; any malicious charges, therefore, to their prejudice, are highly injurious, and ought to be totally suppressed.

"The office I hold is greatly for the benefit and protection of this country, and on my frequent meetings with the Indians depends their peace and security; I therefore cannot but be astonished to find the endeavours made use of to obstruct me in my duties, and the weakness of some people in withholding many things from me, which are indisputably necessary for rendering the Indians contented; and I am willing to hope that you, gentlemen, will duly consider this and discountenance the same.

"You have been much misinformed as to the origin of the reports which obliged me to fortify my house and stand on my defence. I had it, gentlemen, from undoubted authority from Albany, and since confirmed by letters from one of the Committee at Philadelphia, that a large body of men were to make me prisoner. As the effect this must have on the Indians might have been of dangerous consequences to you, (a circumstance not thought of,) I was obliged, at great expense, to take these measures. But the many reports of my stopping travelers were false in every particular, and the only instance of detaining any body was in the case of two New England men, which I explained fully to those of your body who brought your letter, and wherein I acted strictly agreeable to law, and as a magistrate should have done.

"I am very sorry that such idle and injurious reports meet with any encouragement. I rely on you, gentlemen, to exert yourselves in discountenancing them; and I am happy in this opportunity of assuring the people of a country I regard, that they have nothing to apprehend from my endeavours, but that I shall always be glad to promote their true interests.

"I am, Gentlemen, your humble Servant, G. Johnson."

This reply of Colonel Johnson, together with a written report of the proceedings of himself and colleague, and their interview with Johnson, was transmitted to the County Committee by Mr. Wall. In his letter to the Committee, Mr. Wall indulged in some complaints, in regard to the reprehensible conduct of the people—probably toward Johnson and his followers, who were looked upon with increasing distrust. But the character of the irregularities complained of is not distinctly set forth in Mr. Wall's communication.

Guy Johnson did not remain long at Cosby's Manor, nor did he hold the Indian council there which had been notified, but departed immediately farther west. His removal from Thompson's was thus announced to the Committee of Palatine by Mr. Wall, on the 8th of June:—"Our people are greatly alarmed at Colonel Johnson's motions, and cannot understand his reasons for the same. We dare say, that before now you have been [made] acquainted that he has removed with his retinue from Mr. Thompson's to Fort Stanwix, and there are rumors that he intends to move yet farther. We leave you to conjecture what may be his reasons."

These apprehensions were certainly not unreasonable. For although Colonel Johnson's letters were plausible, and apparently frank and sincere, when the people saw him setting his face thus to the west, and moving up through the valley, not only with his own family, but accompanied by a large retinue of his dependents and the great body of the Mohawk Indians—who left their own delightful country at this time, never more peaceably to return—it is not strange that suspicions, as to his ulterior designs, were excited.

This feeling was not diminished by the reception, just at this time, of the following communication from the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, through that of New-York:—

"In Provincial Congress,
Watertown, June 13th, 1775.

"To the Honourable Delegates of the Congress of the Province of New-York:

"Gentlemen,

"Considering the exposed state of the frontiers of the Colonies, the danger that the inhabitants of Canada may possibly have disagreeable apprehensions from the military preparations making in several of the Colonies, and the rumors that there are some appearances of their getting themselves in readiness to act in a hostile way—this Congress have made application to the Honourable Continental Congress, desiring them to take such measures as to them shall appear proper, to quiet and conciliate the minds of the Canadians, and to prevent such alarming apprehensions. We also have had the disagreeable accounts of methods taken to fill the minds of the Indian tribes adjacent to these Colonies with sentiments very injurious to us; particularly we have been informed that Col. Guy Johnson has taken great pains with the Six Nations, in order to bring them into a belief that it is designed by the Colonies to fall upon them and cut them off. We have, therefore, desired the Honourable Continental Congress that they would, with all convenient speed, use their influence in guarding against the evil intended by this malevolent misrepresentation; and we desire you to join with us in such application.

"Jos. Warren, President. Attest, Samuel Freeman, Sec'y."

{Transcriber's Note: Pages 78 and 79—opposite sides of the same leaf— appear to be missing from the scanned copy of the work at this point.}

secure their neutrality in the contest; nor were they wholly unsuccessful, although the majority of the Six Nations ultimately threw themselves into the opposite scale. Disappointed in not meeting a fuller and more general council at Guy Park in May, a conference was arranged with the Oneidas and Tuscaroras, through the agency of their friend, the Rev. Mr. Kirkland, which took place at the German Flats on the 28th of June. The Indians were met by the inhabitants of that district, and also by a deputation from Albany. The minutes of that meeting were not preserved at large among the papers of the Tryon County Committee. The following was the address of the inhabitants to the Indians:—

"Brothers: We are glad to have you here to return you thanks. We should have been much pleased to have spoken with you at the appointed place; that is, by your superintendent, where of late you kept your council fire; but since his removing so far from us, we do not think it wrong or imprudent to communicate our sentiments of peace to you here. It is at this place, Brothers, it has often been done; and here again we renew it, and brighten the old chain of peace and brotherly love.

"Brothers: We cannot see the cause of your late council fire, or superintendent going away from among us. We did him no harm, and you well know that none of us ever did, and you may depend on it, there was no such thing meant against him. He told our people he was going up to Thompson's (Cosby's Manor) to hold a council fire with our brothers, the Five Nations, there. We helped him to provisions to support you there, and every thing we had that he wanted. But he is gone away from among us, and told some of our people, that he would come back with company which would not please us; which, if true, it is certain his intentions are bad, and he may depend, that whatever force he may or can bring, we regard not.

"Brothers: Our present meeting does not arise from any unfriendly thoughts we entertain of you, or from any fear of ourselves. It is purely on account of the old friendship which has so long been kept up between us; that friendship we want to retain. It is that friendship which will be an equal benefit to us. It is as much wanted on your side as ours.

"Brothers: We cannot too much express our satisfaction of your conduct toward us by your late proceedings with the superintendent at the carrying place, for which we are also obliged to you, and do not doubt but that your conduct will be blessed with greater benefits than any other of those who will hurry themselves into mischief; which can never be of any other benefit to them, but sorrow for the innocent blood shed on an occasion wherewith they have no concern.

"Brothers: We look to you particularly to be men of more understanding than others, by the benefits you have received in learning; wherefore we confide and trust more freely in you, that you can communicate to the other tribes and nations the error they want to lead you in, and cannot doubt but your wisdom and influence with the other nations will be attended with that happy success, which will hereafter be a blessing to you and your posterity.

"Brothers: What we have said is supposed to be sufficient to convince you that our meaning is for our joint peace and friendship; in which we hope that we and our children may continue to the end of time."



The answer of the Indians to this address has not been preserved. The result of the council, however, was, to obtain a pledge of neutrality from the greater portion of the Indians assembled. The efforts of Mr. Kirkland had uniformly been directed to the same humane design.

Colonel Guy Johnson, as we have already seen, had previously left the lower district of the Mohawk Valley. He was a man of too much discernment, holding the opinions he did, to remain at Johnstown an inactive spectator of events, the inevitable tendency of which could only be very soon to rouse the whole thirteen Colonies to arms against the British power, and he had prudently anticipated the battle of Bunker Hill in his departure. But his movements had thus far been pacific, or rather not openly belligerent; and it is probable that an excited and jealous people may not have treated him, during his hegira, with all their wonted respect. Indeed, the complaint of Mr. Wall, of the objectionable conduct of the people, has already been noted at a previous page. But it is not stated in what respect they had been offending. Some light, however, may perhaps be thrown upon the subject, by the following notes of a council between the inhabitants of the Upper, or Kingsland district, and the Oneida Indians; from which it will be seen that the inhabitants had cut off the supplies provided by Colonel Johnson for his journey: [FN]


[FN] These notes are quite imperfectly written, by a very incompetent scribe. The author has endeavoured to arrive at the true import, preserving as much of the language as possible.

Kingsland District. At a council held upon desire of the Oneidas, July 1st, 1775, the following speeches were delivered:

To the Oneidas.

"Brothers: The reason of stopping the provisions from Mr. Thompson to Colonel Johnson, is, that we suppose him to be our enemy; and for all that he gets as much from Niagara as he wants; and we believe he is only getting intelligence, from this place, how matters run. We have done for him and his retinue what was in our power for his supply. We believe he should have held his council fire at Mr. Thompson's, or, furthest, at Fort Stanwix. But you have heard, Brothers, that he would bring a force along with him which we would not like. That was the reason that we stopped his provisions. But on your request, as you think it was not well done, we will hear your sentiments about it. Not being laid to your or our charge, we shall then let pass all that is brought to him."

Answer of the Oneidas.

"Brothers: It is Sunday to-day, and the Lord gave six days for work and the seventh for rest. But since occasion happens, we give you our positive answer.

"Brothers: We have consulted about stopping the provisions at Mr. Thompson's, and we don't think it proper to do it. If it should have been for his own use, we should not have mentioned it; but we know that he calls up the Five Nations, and may be they will suffer by it. So, therefore, let him have it. All that we have said we can be answerable for, but this act we cannot.

"Brothers: If we should assent to these things, we are jointly brothers; we should be left alone, and may be both would be disappointed. We are obliged to have a care over our brothers of the Five Nations, as well as for you, so that we may get no blame afterward for it. Then we don't know what Colonel Johnson's design is. Let us first have proof, and as soon as we have found out something, we shall assemble together and consider of it.

"Brothers: We ought to do as we want to have done to us by others; and it is better to suffer than to do amiss.

"Brothers: As long as we are brothers, don't let us then suffer in provisions, if they are to be got, (without your loss.) While we belong to the Five Nations, we shall help one another as much as does lie in our power, so that nobody is wronged by it.

"Brothers: You did leave this to us, though you consented not to leave us to bear this burden quite alone upon our own shoulders. If you can find a fault in our speech, you may speak about it."

Rejoinder.

"Brothers: As we have heard your speech, and well considered it, and as we find that our other brothers may suffer by it, we are resolved that all the flour and other provision which is really brought for Colonel Johnson, may be sent thither without being molested. But considering that it may not be employed for the use proposed, we desire the favour of you to acquaint us of the fact, that we may take the necessary measures for our own welfare.

"Brothers: We are greatly obliged for your brotherly love showed to us, and that you have told us, out of the bottom of your heart, your sense of this matter. We confess it is an evidence of sincere friendship, which we hope will ever be maintained between us."



Making a very brief sojourn at Fort Stanwix, Guy Johnson hastened as far west as Ontario, there to hold a grand council with the Indians, remote from the white settlements; and where, as he alleged, their action might be independent and unembarrassed by the interference of the Colonists. It was at Ontario that he received the letter from the Provincial Congress of New-York, already adverted to as having been written at the solicitation of the Congress of Massachusetts. He replied to it on the 8th of July, in a letter glowing with loyalty, and complaining bitterly of the malcontents, and those in opposition to regular governments; who, as the reader will observe, he again repeated, were exciting the Indians against him. The letter is inserted entire:—

"Guy Johnson to Peter Van Brugh Livingston.
Ontario, July the 8th, 1775.

"Sir,

"Though I received your letter from the Provincial Congress several days ago, I had not a good opportunity to answer it till now. I suppose, however, this will reach you safe, notwithstanding all the rest of my correspondence is interrupted, by ignorant impertinents.

"As to the endeavour you speak of, to reconcile the unhappy differences between the Parent State and these Colonies, be assured I ardently wish to see them; as yet, I am sorry to say, I have not been able to discover any attempt of that kind, but that of the assembly, the only true legal representatives of the people; and as to the individuals who you say officiously interrupt (in my quarter) the mode and measures you think necessary for these salutary purposes, I am really a stranger to them. If you mean myself, you must have been grossly imposed on. I once, indeed, went, with reluctance, at the request of several of the principal inhabitants, to one of the people's meetings, which I found had been called by an itinerant New England leather-dresser, and conducted by others, if possible, more contemptible. I had, therefore, little inclination to revisit such men or attend to their absurdities. And, although I did not incline to think that you, Gentlemen, had formed any designs against me, yet it is most certain that such designs were formed. Of this I received a clear account by express, from a friend near Albany, which was soon corroborated by letters from other quarters, particularly one from a gentleman of the Committee at Philadelphia, a captain in your levies, who was pretty circumstantial; and since, I have had the like from many others. I have, likewise, found that mean instruments were officiously employed to disturb the minds of the Indians, to interrupt the ordinary discharge of my duties, and prevent their receiving messages they had long since expected from me. To enter into a minute detail of all the falsehoods propagated and all the obstructions I met with, though it could not fail astonishing any gentlemen disposed to discountenance them, would far exceed the limits of a letter or the time I have to spare, as I am now finishing my Congress, entirely to my satisfaction, with 1340 warriors, who came hither to the only place where they could transact business or receive favours without interruption; and who are much dissatisfied at finding that the goods which I was necessitated to send for to Montreal, were obliged to be ordered back by the merchant, to prevent his being insulted, or his property invaded by the mistaken populace. That their ammunition was stopped at Albany—the persons on this communication employed in purchasing provisions for the Congress insulted, and all my letters, as well as even some trifling articles for the use of my own table, stopped. And this moment the Mayor of Albany assured me that he was the other day roused out of his bed, at a certain Mr. Thompson's above the German Flats, by one Herkimer and fifteen others, who pursued him to search for any thing he might have for me. You may be assured, Sir, that this is far from being agreeable to the Indians—that it might have produced very disagreeable consequences long since, had not compassion for a deluded people taken place of every other consideration; and that the impotent endeavours of a missionary (who has forfeited his honour, pledged to me,) with part of one of their tribes, is a circumstance that, however trifling, increases their resentment.

"I should be much obliged by your promises of discountenancing any attempts against myself, &c. did they not appear to be made on conditions of compliance with Continental or Provincial Congresses, or even Committees formed or to be formed, many of whose Resolves may neither consist with my conscience, duty, or loyalty. I trust I shall always manifest more humanity, than to promote the destruction of the innocent inhabitants of a Colony to which I have been always warmly attached, a declaration that must appear perfectly suitable to the character of a man of honour and principle, who can, on no account, neglect those duties that are consistent therewith, however they may differ from sentiments now adopted in so many parts of America.

"I sincerely wish a speedy termination to the present troubles, and I am,

Sir, Your most humble Servant, G. Johnson. "P. V. B. Livingston, Esq.

"I shall have occasion to meet the Indians of my department in different quarters this season." [FN]


[FN] This letter was copied by the author from the original, in the State Department, Albany.

Colonel Johnson was accompanied in his departure by Joseph Brant, or Thayendanegea, his secretary, and by Colonel John Butler and his son Walter. By the preceding letter, the reader will have seen that they succeeded in convening a very large council at Ontario. The greater portion of the Indians attending, however, were probably Cayugas and Senecas. These were now far the most numerous of the Six Nations, although the Mohawks yet stood in rank at the head of the confederacy. Formerly the last-mentioned tribe had been the most numerous and powerful of the Cantons; but at an early day after the planting of the Colony of New-York, the French had succeeded in seducing a large section of the Mohawks to return to Canada, whence they originally came, after breaking the vassalage in which they had been held by the Algonquins. Their proximity to the whites, moreover, had been attended by the effect, invariable and seemingly inevitable, in regard to their race, of diminishing their numbers. Added to all which, their warlike character, and their daring ferocity, exposing them to more frequent perils than were encountered by their associated Cantons, had contributed still farther to this unequal diminution. [FN]


[FN] Among the manuscripts of Sir William Johnson, I have found a census of the Northern and Western Indians, from the Hudson river to the great Lakes and the Mississippi, taken in 1763. The Mohawk warriors were then only 160; the Oneidas, 250; Tuscaroras, 140; Onondagas, 150; Cayugas, 200; Senecas, 1050. Total, 1950. According to the calculation of a British agent, several of the tribes must have increased between the close of the French war and the beginning of the American Revolution, as it was computed that, during the latter contest, the English had in service 300 Mohawks, 150 Oneidas, 200 Tuscaroras, 300 Onondagas, 230 Cayugas, and 400 Senecas.—Author.

It is not known that any record of this council was preserved, although the speeches interchanged were doubtless written, since that was the universal practice in the conduct of Indian intercourse. But no doubt exists as to the fact, that the superintendent succeeded in still farther alienating the affections of the great majority of the Indians from the Americans, if they did not immediately join the ranks of the invaders. Nor, when all the circumstances of their case and position are dispassionately considered, is it surprising that their inclinations were favorable to the Crown. On the contrary, the wonder is that Colonel Johnson did not succeed in carrying with him the Oneidas and Tuscaroras also; and he probably would have done so, but for the salutary though indirect influence of Mr. Kirkland, and their noble chief, the sagacious Schenandoah—always the warm and unwavering friend of the Colonists. With regard to these Indians, it must be considered that they had then been in alliance with Great Britain during a period of more than one hundred years. In all their wars with their implacable enemies the Algonquins, acting in alliance with the French, the Six Nations had been assisted by the English, or fighting side by side with them. For a long series of years Sir William Johnson had been their counselor and friend. His family was to a certain extent allied with the head canton of the confederacy, and he was consulted by them in all affairs of business or of high emergency, as an oracle. They had drawn their supplies through him and his agents, and it was natural that, upon his decease, their affection for him should be transferred to his successor in office, who was also his son-in-law. Miss Molly, moreover, was a woman of vigorous understanding and of able management. And, as we have already seen, she and Colonel Guy himself, were sustained by the powerful aid of Thayendanegea, who united the advantages of education with the native sagacity of his race. Added to all which, the cause was considered, if not desperate, at least of doubtful issue; while the unenlightened Indians had been taught to hear the name of the king with great reverence, and to believe him all-powerful. They considered the officers of the Crown their best friends; and it was but natural that they should hold on upon the great chain which they had so long laboured to keep bright between them.

It has already been remarked, that, thus far, Colonel Guy Johnson had committed no act of actual hostility. While this council was holding in Ontario, however, the whole valley of the Mohawk was filled with alarm, by reports that he was preparing an expedition to return upon them, and lay the country waste by fire and sword. On the 11th of July, Colonel Herkimer wrote from Canajoharie to the Palatine Committee, that he had received credible intelligence that morning, that Guy Johnson was ready to march back upon them with a body of eight or nine hundred Indians, and that the attack would be commenced from the woods below the Little Falls, on the northern side of the river. He therefore proposed sending to Albany immediately for a corresponding number of men. An urgent letter was forthwith despatched by the Committee to Schenectady and Albany, for the amount of assistance mentioned, "to prevent these barbarous enterprises," and to enable them "to resist their inhuman enemies with good success—that they might not be slaughtered, like innocent and defenceless sheep before ravaging wolves."

From the positive character of the intelligence, and the mysterious movements of Guy Johnson and his followers, the inhabitants had good cause of alarm; more especially as Sir John Johnson [FN-1] remained at the Hall in Johnstown, having at his beck a large body of loyalists, making his castle (for the Hall was now fortified,) their head quarters,—who, in the event of such a movement by his brother-in-law from the west, would doubtless be prepared to join the Indians in the enterprise, and between them both, be able to whelm the settlements in destruction at a single blow. Every possible preparation was therefore made for their defence, but the alarm proved to be without foundation; and after Guy Johnson had completed his business at Ontario, he returned to Oswego, where he very soon afterward convened another council and held a treaty, at which he succeeded in still farther estranging the Indians from the Colonies. The particulars of this council have never transpired in writing; but some interesting references to it will occur in an Indian speech a few pages onward. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Sir John Johnson held a commission as Brigadier-general of militia.

[FN-2] The following passage from Ramsay's History of the Revolution, seems to refer to this Indian convocation at Oswego. There was no other meeting during that year, to which this notice of Ramsay could refer. "Colonel Johnson had repeated conferences with the Indians, and endeavoured to influence them to take up the hatchet, but they steadily refused. In order to gain their co-operation, he invited them to a feast on a Bostonian, and to drink his blood. This, in the Indian style, meant no more than to partake of a roasted ox and a pipe of wine at a public entertainment, which was given on design to influence them to co-operate with the British troops. The Colonial patriots affected to understand it in its literal sense. It furnished, in their mode of explication, a convenient handle for operating on the passions of the people."

From Oswego, Guy Johnson crossed into Canada, and thence descended the St. Lawrence to Montreal, accompanied by a large number of the chiefs and warriors of the Six Nations, who were invited to an interview with Sir Guy Carleton and Sir Frederick Haldimand—both those distinguished officers being in that city at the time—and were induced by them to embark in the cause of the King.

It has often been asserted, especially by British historians, that Sir Guy Carleton was opposed to the employment of the Indians in the contest, from principles of humanity. Such, however, was not the fact. Brant repeatedly asserted in afterlife, in speeches delivered by him, copies of which are yet extant, that on their first arrival in Montreal, General Carleton proposed to them to enter the service. In a speech delivered by the Chief in the year 1803, recapitulating the history of the services of the Mohawks in that war, the following passages occur, touching the point now under discussion:—"We were living at the former residence of Guy Johnson, when the news arrived that war had commenced between the king's people and the Americans. We took but little notice of this first report; but in a few days we heard that five hundred Americans were coming to seize our superintendent. Such news as this alarmed us, and we immediately consulted together as to what measures were necessary to be taken. We at once reflected upon the covenant of our forefathers as allies to the King, and said, 'It will not do for us to break it, let what will become of us.' Indeed, it is a long time since the Governor (Sir Guy Carleton) said to us: 'I exhort you to continue your adherence to the King, and not to break the solemn agreement made by your forefathers; for your own welfare is intimately connected with your continuing the allies of his Majesty.' He also said a great deal more to the same purport; and on this our minds were the more firmly fixed, for we acknowledged that it would certainly be the best in the end, for our families and ourselves to remain under the King's protection, whatever difficulties we might have to contend with. . . . A council was next convened at Montreal, in July, 1775, at which the Seven Nations, (or Caughnawagas,) were present, as well as ourselves the Six Nations. On this occasion General Haldimand told us what had befallen the King's subjects, and said, now is the time for you to help the King. The war has commenced. Assist the King now, and you will find it to your advantage. Go now and fight for your possessions, and whatever you lose of your property during the war, the King will make up to you when peace returns. This is the substance of what General Haldimand said. The Caughnawaga Indians then joined themselves to us. We immediately commenced in good earnest, and did our utmost during the war."

The speech of Brant, from which the preceding extract is taken, was written in the Mohawk language, and never, by him, rendered into English. It is an important document, developing a new fact in regard to the conduct of Sir Guy Carleton, and has accordingly been translated for the present work. Strict historical accuracy is often of slow attainment; but, after all deductions from the merits of General Carleton, afterward Lord Dorchester, enough that is truly excellent and great will remain to leave him a reputation of which most public men might well be proud.




CHAPTER V.


Meeting of the second Continental Congress—Measures of defence—Declaration—National fast—Organization of an Indian department—Address to the Six Nations—Council called at Albany—Preliminary consultation at German Flats—Speeches of the Oneidas and others—Adjourn to Albany—Brief interview with the commissioners—Conference and interchange of speeches with the Albanians—Proceedings of the grand council—Speeches of the commissioners—Replies of the Indians—Conclusion of the grand council—Resumption of the conference with the Albanians—Speech of the Albany Committee—Reply of the Indians—Disclosures of Guy Johnson's proceedings at Oswego—Close of the proceedings—Epidemic among the Indians—Small benefit resulting from the council—Proceedings in Tryon County resumed—Doubtful position of New-York—Symptoms of disaffection to the cause of the people—Sir John Johnson—Sheriff White deposed by the people—The royal authorities superseded by appointments from the people—Affray at Johnstown—First gun fired at Sampson Sammons—White recommissioned by Tryon—His flight—Labors of the Committee—Opposition of the Tories—Designs of Sir John Johnson and Sir Guy Carleton—Letter and deputation to Sir John—Prisoners for political offences sent to gaol—Letter from Provincial Congress—Mohawks commence fighting at St. Johns—Speech of the Canajoharies in explanation—Indians apply for release of prisoners—Review of the progress of the Revolution in other parts of the Colonies—Proceedings of Parliament—Burning of Falmouth—Descent upon Canada—Ethan Allen taken—Arnold's expedition—Siege of Quebec—Fall of Montgomery—Caughnawaga and Delaware Indians.

The second Continental Congress, composed of delegates, assembled at Philadelphia on the 10th of May. Hostilities having actually commenced, and it being well understood that large reinforcements of the British army were on their way from England, no time was lost in preparing for the public defence. Protesting that they "wished for a restoration of the harmony formerly subsisting between the mother country and the Colonies," they resolved again to present "a humble and dutiful petition to his Majesty;" prepared addresses to the people of Great Britain; to those of Canada; and to the assembly of Jamaica; voted for the immediate equipment of 20,000 men; voted to raise three millions on bills of credit for the prosecution of the war; and, on the nomination of John Adams, commissioned George Washington, of Virginia, as Commander-in-Chief. On the 4th of July Congress denounced the two acts of Parliament of the preceding session, restraining the trade and commerce of the Colonies, as "unconstitutional, oppressive, and cruel;" and on the 6th they agreed to a manifesto, "setting forth the causes and necessity of their taking up arms." After a spirited but temperate preamble, presenting a historical view of the origin, and progress, and conduct of the Colonies, and of the measures of the British government since the peace of 1763; and after an eloquent recapitulation of the grievances which had produced the collision, and proclaiming their confidence of obtaining foreign aid if necessary, and of ultimate success; disavowing, moreover, any intention to dissolve the connexion between the parent country and the Colonies; the declaration proceeded—"We most solemnly, before God and the world, DECLARE, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers which our beneficent Creator hath bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance, employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die FREE-MEN rather than live SLAVES." They protested that they would lay down their arms when hostilities should cease on the part of the aggressors, and not before. Reposing their confidence in the mercy of the Impartial Judge and Ruler of the Universe, and imploring his goodness to protect and carry them through the conflict, they appointed the 20th of July to be observed as a day of public humiliation, fasting, and prayer with that view. It was generally observed, and was the first national fast ever proclaimed in the New World. [FN]


[FN] Holmes's Annals.

But amidst all the arduous duties demanding the attention of Congress, the importance of keeping a watchful eye upon the Indians was universally conceded. The position of the Six Nations, as well as their power to do mischief, could not but strike the observation of all. They had served as an useful barrier between the English settlements and the French in Canada, in former wars, and were often actively engaged as auxiliaries. Their position, and their utility, would be now precisely the same between the Americans and the English in Canada. It was therefore deemed of the first consequence, if possible, to prevent them from taking sides with the English—not, however, with a view to their employment in arms by ourselves; since, notwithstanding the disposition manifested by the Congress of Massachusetts to employ the Indians, and the actual engagement of the Stockbridge Indians as auxiliaries, it was, nevertheless, the anxious desire of the Congress to keep them in a position of neutrality as between England and the Colonies, and at peace among themselves, and with all. For the purpose of closer observation and more efficient action in respect to the Indian relations of the country, therefore, an Indian Department, with three sub-divisions, Northern, Middle, and Southern, was established on the 12th of July, and Commissioners were appointed for each—"with power to treat with the Indians in their respective departments, to preserve peace and friendship, and to prevent their taking any part in the present commotions." The Commissioners of the Northern Department were, Major General Philip Schuyler, Major Joseph Hawley, Mr. Turbot Francis, Mr. Oliver Wolcott, and Mr. Volkert P. Douw. The form of an address to the several tribes of Indians, in all the departments, was agreed upon, to be altered as occasion might require for local adaptation. This address was framed after the manner of Indian speeches, and contained a summary history of the Colonies, and of the rise and progress of the difficulties between them and the parent country. In the course of the address, the Indians were informed of the nature and objects of the contest then begun, and were strongly advised to the preservation of neutrality. The Congress said—"We desire you will hear and receive what we have now told you, and that you will open a good ear, and listen to what we are now going to say. This is a family quarrel between us and Old England. You Indians are not concerned in it. We do not wish you to take up the hatchet against the King's troops. We desire you to remain at home, and not join on either side, but keep the hatchet buried deep. In the name and behalf of all our people, we ask and desire you to love peace and maintain it, and to love and sympathise with us in our troubles; that the path may be kept open with all our people and yours, to pass and repass without molestation." In conclusion, the Congress said—"Let us both be cautious in our behaviour toward each other at this critical state of affairs. This island now trembles: the wind whistles from almost every quarter . . . let us fortify our minds, and shut our ears against false rumors . . . let us be cautious what we receive for truth, unless spoken by wise and good men. If any thing disagreeable should ever fall out between us, the Twelve United Colonies, and you, the Six Nations, to wound our peace, let us immediately seek measures for healing the breach. From the present situation of our affairs, we judge it wise and expedient to kindle up a small council fire at Albany, where we may hear each other's voice, and disclose our minds more fully to one another." [FN]


[FN] The address to the Indians is long and will be found in the Appendix.

Such were a few of the points only of the address, which was an honest and earnest attempt to prevent the savages from taking any part in the contest whatever. No time was lost by the Commissioners of the Northern department, in the adoption of measures pursuant to its wise spirit and policy. For this purpose a treaty was appointed to be held with the Six Nations at Albany, in the month of August, and the tribes were all invited to attend. Previous to the day of meeting, two of the Commissioners, Mr. Douw and Colonel Francis, met a number of the chiefs and warriors in a preliminary council at the German Flats, which was not well attended. This conference was holden on the 15th and 16th days of August. Colonel Francis opened the council by stating the objects for which the twelve United Colonies had invited the proposed general meeting at Albany, which they now solicited all the Six Nations and their allies to attend. They added—When "we meet you, our brethren of the Six Nations, and your allies, at Albany, we will rekindle the council fire which our ancestors and yours formerly kindled up at that place, and there sit down and converse together upon the present situation of the twelve United Colonies, and disclose to you their minds thereon. We have important matters to communicate to you, our brethren of the Six Nations, and your allies, which cannot be disclosed until the council fire be kindled up at Albany, and we are in full assembly." Observing that the council was thinly attended. Colonel Francis urged them in his speech to send a general invitation to all the Six Nations to appear at Albany; and he proposed that they should also send belts of invitation to the Caughnawagas in the neighborhood of Montreal, together with the Indians of the Seven Nations on the St. Lawrence. Colonel Francis concluded his "talk" as follows:—

"Brothers: As many mischievous and evil-disposed persons may attempt to raise up in your minds sentiments that are unfriendly to your brethren of the twelve United Colonies, we beg you will shut your ears and fortify your minds against any such evil and false reports; and if any such liars and deceivers should appear among you, and endeavour to poison your minds, be assured they are as much your enemies as the enemies of your brethren of the twelve United Colonies together, and which is now going to be made stronger at Albany.

"A Belt."

To this Kanaghquaesa, an Oneida sachem, replied:—

"Brothers: You have now opened your minds. We have heard your voices. Your speeches are far from being contemptible. But as the day is far spent, we defer a reply until to-morrow, as we are weary from having sat long in council. We think it time for a little drink; and you must remember that the twelve United Colonies are a great body."

The council having adjourned over to the 16th, Tiahogwando, an Oneida sachem, made the following reply to the speech of the Commissioners:—

"Brother Solihoany, [FN] and our Albany Brothers, attend! We are now assembled at the German Flats, at which place you kindled up a council fire, and yesterday called us together, and acquainted us from whence you came, and by whose authority—namely, by that of the twelve United Colonies—and you opened your business to us."


[FN] The name bestowed upon Colonel Francis by the Indians.

"Brothers: Now attend. Through the mercy of God we are brought to this day, and the Six Nations are now in full assembly at this place, where we smoke a pipe in friendship and love. We are glad to hear your voices. You are come to invite us down to Albany, to a council fire of peace.

"Brothers: We thank you for this invitation. It meets with our entire approbation. Here we are, of every tribe in the Six Nations. It shall be done as you have said.

"Brothers: You have desired that all our confederates should receive this invitation. This cannot be done short of one year, as we extend very far, and could not possibly call the extremities of our confederacy to this intended meeting. But possess your minds in peace. When this Congress is over, and the council fire is raked up, we shall acquaint all our allies with what has passed. This is the answer of all the Six Nations who are now here represented from every tribe.

"Brothers, attend! Yesterday you said you were sensible our confederacy extended to Caughnawaga, and you desired our assistance to forward this your belt of invitation to the Caughnawagas and the seven tribes in that quarter.

"Brothers: Possess your minds in peace. We, the Six Nations, are put to difficulty to grant this request. We are much embarrassed, for this reason. The man is now there who will vex your minds, and never consent to their coming down, and will draw hard upon their minds another way. [FN] He is of your own blood."


[FN] Guy Johnson was doubtless the man referred to.

"Brothers: Possess your minds in peace. We, of the Six Nations, have the minds of the Caughnawagas and the seven tribes in that quarter. At our central council-house, when this took place, they addressed us of the Six Nations in the following manner:—'You are better capable of maintaining peace than we are; therefore we deliver up our minds to you.' For these reasons we advise you to reconsider your petition to us, seeing we are so embarrassed we cannot grant it. Perhaps you will say to us, when your intended council fire shall be over, 'Brothers, do you of the Six Nations acquaint all your confederates and allies of what has passed at this council-fire of peace;' and this we shall do with great care and exactness. Now, Brothers, you see how we are embarrassed, and therefore give you this advice.

"Belt returned."

To this Colonel Francis made answer:—

"Brethren of the Six Nations: It gives us a great deal of uneasiness to find that you cannot at present convey this belt to our friends in Canada. We have heard your reasons, and are sorry to find that one of our blood is already there, endeavouring to draw their minds from us when we mean nothing but peace towards them. As there are a great many Englishmen in Canada, we know not who you mean. We shall therefore be glad to have the particular man pointed out."

To this request, the Mohawk sachem. Little Abraham, replied:

"Brothers: We take it for granted that you all know the very man we mean. We said he was of your blood. We see no necessity of pointing him out more explicitly."

The times being critical, and the people of the valley being exceedingly suspicious of the movements of the Indians, the latter were not altogether without apprehension that some evil might befall them in their course to Albany. Tiahogwando therefore addressed the council upon that point as follows:—

"Brother Solihoany, and our Albany Brother: We take it for granted you have called us to a council of peace and entire friendship; and you have taken us by the hand. As there are men of different minds, and some of them may be ill disposed, we desire you will admonish your own people that they offer us no abuse in the way down to your council-fire of peace. If this caution should be neglected, some misfortune might happen; as all people do not meet so much like brothers as formerly, on account of the present situation of affairs. It would be unhappy if our council-fire should be crushed by any mischief-makers. We have given you this caution, that while we are marching along in peace and quietness, we might not be alarmed by a blow struck in our rear. We therefore desire you would begin, even at this council-lire, to publish your admonitions to unwise and ungovernable people. By this belt we declare to you, our Brothers, that the road is open for passing and repassing, and free from all embarrassments, through the Six Nations, as it has been for a long time. Therefore we desire that we may have the same open road down to your intended council-fire at Albany." [FN]


[FN] As Mr. Kirkland was in attendance upon this council, the Indian speeches were doubtless interpreted by him.

Colonel Francis replied:—

"Brethren of the Six Nations: By this belt you desire that we may clear the road to Albany, that none of our people may injure you. The road shall be as clear for you to go to Albany, as it is for us to go to the country of the Six Nations. The twelve United Colonies have given us great power over the white people. We will appoint white men, who speak your language and love your nations, to see you safe down to Albany, and to provide provisions for you on the way. We shall set out for Albany to-morrow morning, to prepare matters for kindling up the great council-fire there."

The Board of Commissioners for the Northern Department met at Albany, on the 23d of August, (with the exception of Major Hawley, who had declined his appointment in consequence of ill health,) and made the necessary arrangements for holding the treaty. An invitation was given to the civil authorities of Albany, to pay the sachems and warriors a complimentary visit in company with the Commissioners, which was accepted. A committee of the principal gentlemen of Albany was likewise appointed, to join in the complimentary visit on the 24th. On reaching the quarters of the chiefs, they were addressed as follows:—

"Brethren of the Six Nations:—We, the deputies appointed by the twelve United Colonies, the descendants of Quedar, and the gentlemen of the city of Albany, congratulate you on your arrival here. They are glad to see you well, and thank the Great God that he suffers us to meet."

In the course of this interview, the sachems intimated a desire to have a consultation with the municipal officers of the city of Albany before they met the commissioners in formal council. It appears that there had been some diplomatic passages between the Oneida Indians and the Albanians, and an interchange of messengers; and the chiefs were now desirous of having a conference with them. The commissioners, anxious to humor the Indians, assented to the request; and the Albanians appointed a committee, consisting of Walter Livingston, Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, and Samuel Stringer, to make the arrangements. The interview took place the same evening, when Seaghnagerat, an Oneida chief, opened the proceedings with a speech of very unusual length for an Indian. He commenced by an expression of his gratification that, on opening the ashes to rekindle the old council-fire, they had found some of the sparks remaining. He next referred to the proceedings of a previous consultation at the German Flats, touching the conduct of Guy Johnson in removing their missionaries, and other matters. The meeting referred to seems to have been a partial council, to which the Albanians had sent a deputation, the object of which was, by the exhibition of some ancient belts, to remind the Indians of a former covenant of peace with Quedar, and to dissuade them from engaging in the existing quarrel. What had been said by the Albany deputies, at the conference referred to, but of which no record seems to have been preserved, was now repeated in substance by the Oneida chief, after the Indian manner of conducting their councils. He then proceeded to reply seriatim; from which circumstance it is probable that the former council-fire had been raked up, before its proceedings were brought to a close. The reply now made was decidedly and strongly pacific. The chief admitted that "evil birds" had been busy in circulating unpleasant rumors, and that efforts had been made to make them swerve from their neutrality by Guy Johnson or his agents—at least, such was the inference from the speech; but he over and over again protested the determination of the Six Nations to avoid interfering with the controversy, and only exhorted the Colonists to keep the path into their country open, so that they could pass and repass without molestation. In regard to the removal of their missionary, the chiefs said Guy Johnson had done it pursuant to "a belt" [FN] received from Governor Gage. He expressed the greatest respect for Mr. Kirkland; but at the same time, under the circumstances of the case, suggested whether it would not on the whole be better for Mr. K. to leave them for the present, until the storm should be over and gone.


[FN] An order.

The speech having been ended, the Albanian Committee thanked them for it, and promised a reply after the grand council with the Commissioners of the Twelve Colonies should be terminated.

That council commenced its sittings on the day following—August 25th. The Oneida speaker of the preceding evening opened the council very appropriately, after which the Commissioners, before proceeding formally to business, proposed that they should all sit down and smoke the pipe of peace together. The suggestion was acceded to, and the calumet passed round. This ceremony having been ended, the Commissioners opened their mission by a very appropriate and effective speech, reminding the Indians of some ancient covenants of friendship with the Colonists, and repeating to them a portion of the speech of Cannassateego, an old and popular sachem of the Six Nations, whose name and character were held in great reverence by them, delivered thirty years before at a great council held in Lancaster. [FN] The exhortation was, to union among themselves, and peace and friendship with the Colonists.


[FN] A brother of Cannassateego was present on this occasion, and well remembered his words.

The council was then adjourned to the 26th, when, the Commissioners presented the address from the Congress, of which particular mention has been made on a preceding page. The deliberations of Indian councils are slow procedures. Their language is composed of long and intricate compounds, and the necessity of deliberate and thorough interpretations, so that the matter spoken and explained be fastened upon the memories of the Indians, who possess not the advantage of written language, renders the process tedious. The entire sittings of two days were therefore required for the delivery and interpretation, by Mr. Kirkland, of the Congressional "talk" with which the Commissioners were charged. At the close, one of the chiefs declared that the address contained "nothing but what was pleasant and good." But, as the matters proposed were of high importance, they requested the next day for separate deliberation among themselves, promising on the succeeding day, August 27th, to make their reply. It was not, however, until the 31st of August that the Indians were ready to make known the results of their own secret councils. Their answer was delivered by Little Abraham, the Mohawk sachem of the Lower Castle. It was an able speech, thoroughly pacific. But there was one declaration which it is difficult to reconcile with the admitted veracity of the Indians, since it was inconsistent with the well-known course of Guy Johnson, and the covenant which had then already been made by Brant and his followers, with Sir Guy Carleton and General Haldimand at Montreal. We allude to the declaration of Little Abraham, that Johnson had advised them to assume and preserve a neutral position at the recent Oswego council. The proceedings of Brant and Guy Johnson at Montreal had not then probably transpired in the Mohawk Valley. Still Guy Johnson must have dissembled, or spoken with a "forked tongue," to those Indians whom he supposed friendly to the Colonies, or so great a mistake could not have been made by Little Abraham.

In the course of their speech, the chiefs expressed a strong attachment for Sir John Johnson as the son of their old friend, Sir William, who was born among them, and of Dutch extraction by his mother. [FN] They desired that whatever might be the cause of the war. Sir John might be left unmolested. The same request was also interposed in behalf of their missionary, the Rev. Mr. Stewart, who, they said, had been sent to them by the King; and also because he never "meddled with civil affairs," but was intent only on "instructing them in the way to heaven."


[FN] The mother of Sir John was a German lady, but in the Mohawk Valley the Germans are usually called Dutch to this day.

In the conclusion of his speech, Abraham took occasion to refer to some domestic matters between themselves and the people of Albany. He charged them with having taken two pieces of land from the Mohawks, without paying therefor so much even as a pipe. These lands the Indians desired the Twelve Colonies to restore, and put them into peaceable possession again. "If you refuse to do this," said he, "we shall look upon the prospect as bad; for if you conquer, you will take us by the arm and pull us all off." In thus saying, he spoke with the spirit of prophecy!

When little Abraham had ended, Tiahogwando, an Oneida, made a short speech on the subject of the then pending bloody and bitter controversy between Connecticut and Pennsylvania, respecting the territory of Wyoming, of which a full account will follow in its proper place. The Indians avowed that the land had been conveyed by them to Penn, as a free gift—the Great Spirit not allowing them to sell that country. In the course of their speeches, the chiefs requested that the Indian trade might be re-opened with them, both at Albany and Schenectady, and that somebody might be appointed to guard the tree of peace at Albany, and keep the council fire burning.

On the 1st of September the Commissioners made their reply, conciliatory in its character, and acceding to the principal requests of the Indians. They also informed the chiefs that they had appointed General Schuyler and Mr. Douw to keep the fire burning. Thus ended the council with the agents of the Colonies. The "unfinished business" with the Albanians was resumed on the next day—September 2d—for which purpose a council was formed in the Presbyterian church. The Commissioners of the United Colonies were likewise in attendance. After the preliminaries of form had been gone through with, the Indians were addressed at length by the Albany Committee. In the course of their speech, they adverted particularly to the council at Oswego and the proceedings of Guy Johnson at that place, respecting which, they said, they had received no certain advices, and of which they wished to be fully and explicitly informed. In regard to the land question interposed by the Indians, the Committee said they presumed reference was had to the lands at Ticonderoga. That was a question between the Indians and the corporation of Albany; whereas they were a committee from the people, and could not entertain the question. They reminded the Indians, however, that the question had been agitated before, and settled by the Colonial Assembly. They also gave them to understand that the Indians were not the party having cause of complaint in that matter.

The reply of the Indians was delivered by Little Abraham. Waiving the land question, he proceeded to answer the questions put to them concerning the Oswego council. "We look upon it," said he, "that God will punish us should we conceal any thing from you." The following passages are quoted from the reply of Abraham:—

"Brothers: The transactions of that treaty were very public. The Shawanese were there, and some from Detroit. Mr. Johnson told us that the fire kindled there was a fire of peace; that all the white people were the King's subjects, and that it seemed they were intoxicated. He said the white people were all got drunk, and that God's judgment hung over them; but he did not know on which side it would fall. Mr. Johnson further told us, that the present council fire was kindled on account of the present dispute, and desired us not to interfere, as they were brothers; and begged us to sit still and maintain peace. This is what Colonel Johnson told us at that council-fire. He also said he had his eye on Mr. Kirkland; that he was gone to Philadelphia, and along the sea-coast; that he was become a great soldier and a leader. 'Is this your minister?' says he; 'do you think your minister minds your souls? No. By the time he comes to Philadelphia, he will be a great warrior, and when he returns, he will be the chief of all the Five Nations.'

"Brothers: There were present five people of Detroit, five from Caughnawaga, and two of the Shawanese. Colonel Johnson told them that, by the time he returned from Canada, they should have all their men there, and he would then kindle a council-fire; and he would also desire them not to take any part in this dispute, as it was a quarrel between brothers. He also told them that he was going to the Governor of Canada, who was of a different opinion from him, but would talk with him. And he further said that he would tell the Caughnawaga Indians the same that he told us, and for that purpose desired that two of each nation might go along and hear it. He likewise desired us to consider which way we would have our trade—whether up this river or from Canada. He at the same time assured us that we should not suffer from want of goods, as we were not concerned, nor had any hand, in the present dispute. He also said something about the council-fires. He said there were two fires which you should keep your eyes upon; and if they call you down to Albany, do not you go; for they will deceive you, and tell you a great many fine stories. We are very glad that your language and Colonel Johnson's so well agrees."

This report of the proceedings of Guy Johnson at Oswego was certainly unexpected, and entirely at variance with the tenor of his conduct previous to his departure from the Mohawk Valley, and during his progress to the west. It is barely possible that he had not fully made up his mind as to the course he might ultimately pursue, and that his purpose was not definitively determined upon, until after his meeting with Carleton and Haldimand at Montreal. And it is abundantly certain that his notions of Indian neutrality, even had he entertained them, were very speedily abandoned.

With the delivery of Abraham's last-mentioned speech, however, the council was closed; and although Schuyler and Douw had been appointed to keep the council fire burning, yet the ashes were soon raked up—never to be opened again at Albany, for that was the last grand Indian council ever held in that city. [FN]


[FN] As mentioned in the Introduction to the present volume, the interesting proceedings of which a mere outline has been given in the text, have never before been published complete. Their importance—their intrinsic interest—and the fact that it was the last grand council of the confederacy ever holden in Albany, had induced the author originally to arrange the whole in the text. But their great length, it was thought, would too seriously obstruct the narrative. Hence they have been transferred to the Appendix. It was the first design of the author to abridge the speeches, but an attempt soon proved that their force and spirit would be lost in the process. See Appendix.

The result was highly satisfactory to the Commissioners, and apparently so to the Indians, who had been well provided for during the three weeks occupied at the German Flats and Albany. On their departure, moreover, they were handsomely supplied with presents, and they took their leave with manifestations of great good-will.

Most unfortunately, however, soon after their return from Albany, an epidemic disorder appeared among them, in the form of a highly malignant fever. It was a disease which they had never seen, and by it great numbers were swept away. The Schoharie canton of the Mohawks, in particular, suffered very severely. Indeed, they were almost exterminated.[FN-1] The small number who survived, imbibed the impression that the Great Spirit had sent the pestilence upon them in anger for not having taken sides with the King. They, therefore, followed their brethren from the Mohawk Valley, who had escaped to Canada with Guy Johnson. In the subsequent invasions of the Tryon County settlements, these Schoharie Indians, who thus deserted by an impulse of superstition, were among the most forward and cruel.[FN-2] It should also be borne in mind, that, after all, the council comprised but an inadequate and partial representation of the Six Nations, with the exception of the Oneidas and the lower clan of the Mohawks. The great body of the Mohawk warriors, headed by Thayendanegea, had left the country; and the most influential of the Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, had also accompanied Brant and Guy Johnson to Montreal; and events, at no very distant day, proved that the Albany treaty had been held to very little purpose. It is not consistent with the nature or habits of Indians to remain inactive in the midst of war.


[FN-1] Letter of John M. Brown, on the early history of Schoharie.

[FN-2] Idem.

Still, for the time being, those proceedings were not without benefit to the cause of the country. The people of Tryon County were relieved, by the stipulations of peace and neutrality, from apprehensions of immediate danger from without; and the Committee of Safety was consequently enabled to direct their attention, not only to the more efficient organization of the settlements for defence, but to the civil government of the county.

But, notwithstanding the fine spirit manifested thus far by a majority of the people in the interior, and that too under all the disadvantages we have been contemplating—notwithstanding the decisive tone of the language used in denouncing the oppressions of the Crown,—it was not yet exactly certain that the Colony of New-York would range itself against the royal authority. Governor Tryon, who was popular in the Colony, had recently been recalled from North Carolina, and again appointed Governor of New-York; and he was exerting his utmost powers to detach her from the cause of the Union—seconded by the Asia, man of war, then lying in the harbour, and commanding the city of New-York by her guns. The captain of the Asia had threatened to destroy the town should General Lee, who was then approaching with an army from the east, be allowed to enter it; and such were the prevalence of terror and the power of intrigue, that disaffection to the cause of the Union began to exhibit itself openly in the Provincial Congress. Indeed, avowals of a design to place themselves under the royal standard were unequivocally uttered. These untoward appearances were rendered the more threatening by the discovery of a secret correspondence, from which it was ascertained that the parent government was preparing to send a fleet into the Hudson, and to occupy both New-York and Albany with its armies. [FN] Of these designs Sir John Johnson was probably well aware, and the hope of their accomplishment may have induced him to linger behind, watching the signs of the times, after the departure of his brother-in-law and his army of followers. Sir John had also a numerous tenantry, who were mostly loyalists; and the Scotch colonists, settled in large numbers in Johnstown and its neighbourhood, of whom mention has formerly been made, being loyalists likewise, constituted for him a respectable force upon which he could rely in a case of emergency.


[FN] Marshall's Life of Washington.

The Dutch and German population of the valley, however, were chiefly Whigs; as also, by this time, were a decided majority of the entire white population, not only of the Mohawk Valley, but of Schoharie, Cherry Valley, and the other settlements in the southern part of that widely-extended county. The general Committee executed their functions with equal diligence and vigour. The inhabitants were enrolled and organized into militia; the Committee deposed the sheriff, Alexander White,[FN-1] and caused Colonel John Frey to be appointed in his place; and, in one word, they took upon themselves both the civil and military jurisdiction of the large section of country, over which they had provisionally assumed the government. White had rendered himself particularly odious to the Whigs from the first. Under some trifling pretext, he had arrested a Whig by the name of John Fonda, and committed him to prison. His friends, to the number of fifty men, under the conduct of Sampson Sammons, went to the jail at night and released him by force. From the prison they proceeded to the lodgings of the sheriff, and demanded his surrender. White looked out from the second story window, and probably recognizing the leader of the crowd, inquired—"Is that you, Sammons?" "Yes," was the prompt reply; upon which White discharged a pistol at the sturdy Whig, but happily without injury. The ball whizzed past his head, and struck in the sill of the door. This was the first shot fired in the war of the Revolution west of the Hudson. It was immediately returned by the discharge of some forty or fifty muskets at the sheriff, but the only effect was a slight wound in the breast—just sufficient to draw blood. The doors of the house were broken, and White would have been taken, but at that moment a gun was fired at the hall by Sir John. This was known to be a signal for his retainers and Scotch partisans to rally in arms; and as they would muster a force of five hundred men in a very short time, the Whigs thought it most prudent to disperse. They collected again at Caughnawaga, however, and sent a deputation to Sir John, demanding that White should be given up to them.[FN-2] This demand, of course, was not complied with.


[FN-1] The first liberty pole erected in the Mohawk Valley was at the German Flats, and White, with a band of loyalists, had cut down the emblem of rebellion.

[FN-2] MS. narrative of Jacob Sammons.

After his dismissal, as already mentioned, by an act of the people "in their sovereign capacity," White was re-commissioned by Governor Tryon; but the County Committee would not suffer him to re-enter upon the duties of the office. On the contrary, so high was the popular indignation against him, that he was obliged to fly—setting his face toward Canada, accompanied by a white man named Peter Bone, and two or three Indians. He was pursued to Jessup's landing on the Hudson River, where the house in which he lodged was surrounded, and the fugitive sheriff taken prisoner. From thence he was taken to Albany and imprisoned. [FN] Shortly afterward he was released on his parole, and left the country.


[FN] Narrative of Jacob Sammons.

The exigencies of the times required prompt and vigorous action; and the Committee seems to have been composed of exactly the right description of men. They arrested suspicious persons, tried them, fined some, imprisoned more, and executed others. Their duties also involved the preservation of the peace in a critical period, among a mixed population of border-men, ever more or less disposed to impatience under legal restraint, and of course requiring the controlling power of a strong arm. And yet these high duties were generally discharged with great satisfaction to the public—the loyalists excepted, of course—and their resolutions and decrees were submitted to by their constituents with alacrity. Their influence was likewise successfully exerted in winning friends to the popular cause, by deciding the wavering and confirming the irresolute. [FN]


[FN] Campbell's Annals.

Added to these multifarious duties, was the necessity of keeping a vigilant watch over the motions of Sir John Johnson, whose position and conduct were alike equivocal, and the numerous loyalists by whom he was surrounded. By these people every possible obstacle was thrown in the way of the Committee, and no method of annoying and embarrassing them left untried. They laboured to destroy the confidence of the people in the Committee; called public meetings themselves, and chose counter-committees; now attempted to cover the Whig Committees with ridicule, and now again charged them with illegal and tyrannical conduct.[FN-1] The consequence was mutual exasperation—sometimes between near neighbours; and the reciprocal engendering of hostile feelings between friends, who ranged themselves under opposing banners. These incipient neighbourhood quarrels occasioned, in the progress of the contest that ensued, some of the most bitter and bloody-personal conflicts that ever marked the annals of a civil war. Several members of the Committee subsequently acted a distinguished part in the field; many of them sacrificed their estates; and some of them fell. Among them, Christopher P. Yates, the first Chairman, accompanied General Montgomery as a volunteer to Ticonderoga and Canada, and afterward raised and commanded a corps of rangers.[FN-2] The fate of Nicholas Herkimer is well known, though his death will be invested with new and additional interest in the progress of this narrative.[FN-3]


[FN-1] Idem.

[FN-2] Campbell's Annals.

[FN-3] The following extract is from a letter of the State Committee of Safety, under date of December, 1775, signed by John McKesson, Clerk of the Provincial Congress:—"I was directed by this Congress to assure you of the high esteem and respect they have for your vigilant, noble-spirited County Committee." The following was from General Schuyler in the summer of 1776:—"The propriety of your conduct, and your generous exertions in the cause of your country, entitle you to the thanks of every one of its friends; please to accept of mine most sincerely." Campbell's Annals.

In regard to Sir John, matters were now fast approaching to a crisis. On the 7th of September the Committee wrote to the Provincial Congress in New-York, denouncing his conduct and that of his associates—particularly the Highlanders, who, to the number of two hundred, were said to be gathered about him, and by whom the Whigs "were daily scandalized, provoked, and threatened." They added—"We have great suspicions, and are almost assured, that Sir John has a continual correspondence with Colonel Guy Johnson and his party." [FN]


[FN] It was afterward ascertained that such a correspondence was carried on through the Indians, who conveyed letters in the heads of their tomahawks and in the ornaments worn about their persons. The Indians also brought powder across from Canada.—Campbell's Annals.

No sooner had the Congress of The Twelve United Colonies agreed to the Declaration, or manifesto, mentioned in the beginning of the present chapter, proclaiming to the world the causes, and the necessity of their appeal to arms, than it was felt, on all hands, even by the timid and hesitating, that England and the Colonies now stood, not in the relation of parent and children, but in the attitude of two nations legally at war. Hence the patriots of Tryon County began to look more closely, and with greater assurance, to the deportment of Sir John, of whose designs, as has been seen, they had from the first entertained strong suspicions. The movements of Sir Guy Carleton, moreover, Governor-general of Canada, who had been commissioned to muster and arm all persons within that province, and to wage war by land and sea against "all enemies, pirates, or rebels, either in or out of the province," to "take them and put them to death, or preserve them alive, at his discretion," were now creating great uneasiness on the northern frontier, from which quarter they were apprehending a formidable invasion. The management of the northern department having been committed to Generals Schuyler and Montgomery, who were now directing a force upon Montreal and Quebec, the Tryon County Committee determined to probe the intentions of Sir John Johnson at once and to the bottom. For this purpose, on the 26th of October, they addressed him the following letter:—

"Tryon County Committee Chamber,
Oct. 26, 1775.

"Honorable Sir,

"As we find particular reason to be convinced of your opinion in the questions hereafter expressed, we require you, that you'll please to oblige us with your sentiments thereupon in a few lines by our messengers, the bearers hereof, Messrs. Ebenezer Cox, James McMaster, and John James Klock, members of our Committee.

"We want to know whether you will allow that the inhabitants of Johnstown and Kingsborough may form themselves into companies, according to the regulations of our Continental Congress, for the defence of our country's cause; and whether your Honor would be ready himself to give his personal assistance to the same purpose.

"Also, whether you pretend a prerogative to our County court-house and gaol, and would hinder or interrupt the Committee, to make use of the same public houses, to our want and service in the common cause?

"We don't doubt you will comply with our reasonable requests, and thereby oblige,

Honorable Sir, Your obedient and humble Servants. By order of the Committee, Nicholas Herkimer, Chairman. "To the Honorable Sir John Johnson, Johnson Hall."

The deputation named in the letter waited upon Sir John in person, to receive his answer—the substance of which they reported to the Committee verbally as follows, viz:—

"1. By perusing our letter, Sir John replied that he thinks our requests very unreasonable, as he never had denied the use either of the court-house or gaol to any body, nor would yet deny it, for the use which these houses have been built for; but he looks upon it that the court-house and gaol are his property till he is paid £700—the amount of which being out of his pocket for the building of the same.

"2. In regard of embodying his tenants into companies, he never did forbid them, neither should do it, as they may use their pleasure; but we might save ourselves the trouble, he being sure that they would not.

"3. Concerning himself, he said, that before he would sign any association, or would lift his hand up against his King, he would rather suffer that his head shall be cut off.

"Further he replied, that if we should make any unlawful use of the gaol, he would oppose it, and also he mentions, that there have many unfair means been used for increasing the association and uniting the people; for he was informed by credible gentlemen in New-York that they were obliged to unite, otherwise they could not live there; and that he was informed by good authority, that likewise two thirds of the Canajoharie and German Flats people have been forced to sign the articles; and in his opinion the Boston people are open rebels, and the other Colonies have joined them."

Immediately on receiving this report, the Committee determined to bring the question of the occupancy of the gaol to an issue. They therefore directed that two of their prisoners, named Lewis Clement and Peter Bowen, [FN] who had been sentenced to certain periods of confinement for political offences, should be forthwith conveyed to the prison, under a guard commanded by Captain Jacob Seeber, with instructions, that should the gaoler refuse to receive them into close confinement for the time specified, or should they be opposed by Sir John, then Captain Seeber was to bring them to the house of "our voted and elected new high sheriff, John Frey, Esq. who shall immediately inform thereof our chairman for further directions."


[FN] A subsequent document induces the belief that these prisoners were Indians, though it is not so distinctly stated.

Sir John did not allow the Committee to take possession of the gaol, and they were obliged to fit up a private house as a temporary prison; while some of their prisoners were sent to Albany, and others as far as Hartford for safe keeping. [FN] The Committee apprised the Provincial Congress of their proceedings in this matter, from which body they received the following communication in reply:—


[FN] Campbell's Annals.

"Dec. 9th. The Congress have this day entered into the consideration of your letter of the 25th of October, and are of opinion that your application to Sir John Johnson, requesting an answer from him whether he would allow his tenants to form themselves into companies, and associate with their brethren of your County, according to the resolves of the Continental Congress, for the defence of our liberties, was improper with respect to him, and too condescending on your part, as it was a matter that came properly within your province; and to which we doubt not but you are competent, as you have a line of conduct prescribed to you by Congress. With respect to your second question, whether he would take any active part in the controversy at present existing between Great Britain and her Colonies, we conceive it to be very proper, and thank you for information on that head.

"As to the third question, we conceive that he has no claim nor title to the court-house and gaol in the County, as we are credibly told that his father, Sir William Johnson, did in his lifetime convey the same to two gentlemen in trust for the use of your County. However, as an attempt to use the same for the purpose of confining persons inimical to our country may be productive of bad consequences, we beg leave to recommend to you, to procure some other place which may answer the end of a gaol. And give you our advice not to molest Sir John as long as he shall continue inactive, and not impede the measures necessary to be carried into execution from being completed.

"We are extremely sorry that Mr. White has, by his imprudent conduct, rendered himself justly offensive to you. The best advice we can give you in this unpleasant affair is, that if you are of opinion that his continuing in his office will be dangerous to your liberties, then that you permit the office to be exercised by his deputies. And that you draw up a petition, get as many persons of your County to sign it as possible, and present it to the Governor of the Colony, setting forth that it is very disagreeable to the people in general that he should execute that office, and praying that he may be displaced, and his place supplied by a person who would be acceptable to the people of your County.

"We are respectfully, Gentlemen, Your most obedient humble Servants, By order, Nathl. Woodhull, Pres. "To Nicholas Herkimer, Esq. Chairman, and the Committee of Tryon County."

The first act of positive hostility on the part of the Indians, during this bitter and bloody contest, was committed in the Autumn of the present year. General Schuyler having been obliged temporarily to leave the northern army in consequence of ill health, the command devolved upon General Montgomery, who had advanced a second time upon St. Johns and captured the fortress—Sir Guy Carleton having been repulsed by Colonel Warner at Longueil, in his attempt to cross the St. Lawrence and advance to its succor. It appears that, either in the first or second attack upon St. Johns, or in both, the Americans had been opposed by some of the Mohawk Indians—those, doubtless, who had accompanied Guy Johnson to Canada. Hence, on the 27th of October, the Tryon County Committee "unanimously resolved, that a letter should be sent to the sachems of the Canajoharie Castle, in regard to the return and present abiding of some Indians in their Castle from Canada, who have acted inimically against us, and fought against our united forces near the fort St. John, not to give shelter to such real enemies among them."

No copy of the letter written pursuant to this resolution has been preserved. It is noted among the papers of the Committee, however, that the sachems and warriors of Canajoharie Castle appeared before them in person, and made the following answer to their epistle of remonstrance:—

"Brothers: We are thankful to you that you opened to us your hearts, and we comprehend to be all true what you wrote to us. We live together, Gentlemen, and we shall do our endeavour to answer you upon all the contents of your letter, as much as we can remember thereof.

"Brothers: We have not yet forgotten our agreement made in Albany. It is not such a long time ago, we can remember it yet. Although we have not put it in writing, it is yet in our memory. We can remember very well that there have been twelve Governors with whom we agreed, and we made a level road to the Six Nations, to Boston, and to Philadelphia.

"Brothers: We have, as well as the Senecas and others of the Six Nations, been very glad to make that road, where we went and shall go. It is all peace and very good. The Nations have been very glad for the making of that good road, and it is all peaceable. But we are afraid you make the first disturbance on the sea-side—because you are a fighting already. They have made that good road, but they will not hope that we should spill blood upon it. You said in your letter that you cannot keep your young people back, but we think you are masters of them, and could order them. Some of our young people are now in Canada, and perhaps they are killed; but if so be, our hearts will not be sore about it.

"There are some young people, among them here, whom we could persuade to stay and not to meddle themselves with the fighting of the white people; but some went yet away, and we are glad to see them back again, because they have been debauched to go away.

"Brothers: The Six Nations are now speaking about that good road, and are glad; but if they shall perhaps pass that road and see some blood spilled upon it, then they would be surprised.

"Brothers: We have made a very strong agreement of friendship together, and we beg you will not break it for sake of some wrong done by some, who have been debauched. You will drop it, we hope, for the present."

The Committee replied to them in substance, that if those of their young men who had first spilt the blood of their white brethren, had come back repenting of their conduct, they should first have gone to the Committee, and manifested their sorrow to them. Far from doing so, however, one of them, named William Johnson, had, on the contrary, boasted of his hostile proceedings, and spoken boldly against the cause of the Americans.

On the 30th of October, at the request of some of the chiefs of the Mohawk Castle, John Marbatt was deputed to hold a conference with them, in reference to the imprisonment of Clement and Bowen. Marbatt says, in his letter to General Herkimer, Chairman of the Committee:—

"The heads of the Mohawk Castle met me at Abraham Quackenbush's, and made a speech to me. They said we were all brothers, and all brought up together, and hoped that we might remain so. They said they were very sorry for their two brothers, Lewis Clement and Peter Bowen, and desired that they might be discharged. It was so hard for them to see their brethren in confinement that they could not rest. Whereon I told them there was a law; and if any of our brothers transgressed the law, they must expect to be punished by the law. I told them that any one that behaved [well] should not be disturbed at all. But they begged that as they had transacted this, [offended] before the law took effect, they might be discharged; and if ever they transgressed again, they had nothing to say against punishing them. They told me that they wanted to go a hunting, and could not go from home contented until this matter was settled. They desired me to give them an answer against next Saturday. Gentlemen, I hope you will settle this matter for peace's sake. Your compliance will much oblige your friend and humble servant," &c.

The speech from the Canajoharie Indians, just recited, if closely scrutinised, might appear somewhat equivocal. Still, it was not belligerent; and, when taken in connexion with the preceding letter, the presumption is reasonable, that the Mohawks remaining about their ancient castles, had not yet determined to swerve from their engagement of neutrality.

Such was the progress of the Revolution, in the County of Tryon, down to the close of 1775. A rapid glance at contemporaneous events not already noted, occurring elsewhere, will close the history of the year. The battle of Bunker Hill had aroused all New England to arms; and by the time of General Washington's arrival to assume the command, during the first week in July, the British forces were so effectually shut up in Boston, as to be obliged to send out small vessels to a distance for supplies. To cut up this species of coast-wise commerce, the Colonies of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut each fitted out two small cruisers, before Congress had made a suggestion respecting a naval armament. The first avowal of offensive hostility against the mother country, was contained in the act of the Massachusetts Congress for fitting out a naval armament; and among the first fruits was the capture, by Captain Manly of Marblehead, of a large British ordnance brig, laden with several elegant brass pieces of artillery, a large supply of small arms, tools and utensils of all warlike descriptions, &c. Three days afterward Captain Manly captured three more British ships laden with military stores. South Carolina was at the same time making vigorous preparations for war, but had not exceeding 3,000 lbs of gunpowder within the province. By fitting out a fast sailing vessel, however, they were enabled to intercept a supply vessel off St. Augustine, and obtain a large and timely addition to their stores—15,000 pounds of gunpowder alone. Meantime the affairs of the Colonies continued to form the leading and most exciting topic of debate in the British Parliament. Lord North, who, it is now known, acted throughout this great struggle more in obedience to the positive requisitions of the King, than in accordance with his own private wishes, insisted upon the strongest measures of compulsion. General Conway, Colonel Lutterell, Mr. James Grenville, the Duke of Grafton, and Lord Lyttleton, spoke in favor of concession to the Colonies, and argued in favor of repealing every enactment respecting the matters in dispute with the Colonies, subsequent to the year 1763. The ministers contended that they might as well acknowledge the independence of the Colonies at once. Mr. Burke, during this season, made his great speech on American affairs, and introduced his conciliatory bill, proposing "a renunciation of the exercise of taxation, without at all interfering with the question of right. It preserved the power of levying duties, for the regulation of commerce; but the money so raised was to be at the disposal of the several general assemblies. The tea duty was to be repealed, and a general amnesty granted." This proposition, though regarded with more favor than the others, was rejected; and the Administration was sustained in the policy of sending a large sea and land force against the Colonies, accompanied with offers of mercy upon a proper submission.[FN-1] The Continental Congress, however, still continued its efforts to prevent a final separation; and another address to the King was adopted, beseeching the interposition of his royal authority to afford relief from their afflicting fears and jealousies, and restore harmony by the adoption of such measures as would effect a permanent reconciliation. This petition, signed by John Hancock, was presented in Parliament on the 7th of December, and gave rise to several motions for a pacification—all of which were rejected.[FN-2]


[FN-1] Holmes's Annals, Par. Register.

[FN-2] Idem.

The military operations of the Autumn were chiefly confined to the expedition against Canada. Lord Dunmore, it is true, had given several additional impulses to the Revolutionary spirit in Virginia, by the manner of his opposition; and the enemy had still farther exasperated the people of New England by burning the town of Falmouth, in the north-eastern part of Massachusetts. Having timely notice, the people fled from the town, which was furiously bombarded, and 139 dwelling-houses and 278 warehouses were burnt. The invasion of Canada, by Generals Schuyler and Montgomery, has already been incidentally mentioned. General Schuyler had issued a suitable proclamation to the inhabitants of Canada, on entering that territory; but he was obliged by ill health to relinquish the command to General Montgomery. St. John's surrendered on the 3d of November; but while the siege was pending. Colonel Ethan Allen, with thirty-eight of his Green Mountain boys, was captured, and sent to England in irons. [FN] Allen deserved his fate, however, for his rashness and disobedience of orders. Still, he was very near capturing Montreal with the small party he had led in advance, as was subsequently admitted by one of the British officers.


[FN] Idem.

The fort at Chamblee fell into the hands of Montgomery, together with a large quantity of military stores, which were of great use; among them were three tons of powder. Montreal was next taken by the Provincials—General Carleton escaping in a boat with muffled oars to Three Rivers, from whence he hastened to Quebec. Montgomery, with his little army, was swift to follow him thither; where his arrival had been anticipated by Colonel Arnold, with upward of 700 New England infantry and riflemen, with whom he had performed the incredible service of traversing the unexplored forest, from the Kennebec to the mouth of the Chaudiere. Uniting the forces of Arnold with his own, Montgomery laid siege to Quebec on the 1st of December. His artillery, however, was too light to make any impression upon its walls, and it was at length determined, if possible, to carry the town by a combined assault from two directions—one division to be led by Montgomery and the other by Arnold. The enterprise was undertaken on the 31st of December, and the year closed by the repulse of both divisions and the fall of Montgomery.

The success which had marked the American arms in the early part of the Canadian campaign, made a strong impression upon the Caughnawaga Indians. The Canadians, generally, were exceedingly averse to engaging in the unnatural contest, [FN-1] and were strongly inclined to favor the cause of the Colonies; and, notwithstanding the descent of Brant and the Mohawks to Montreal, and the solicitations of Governor Carleton, the Caughnawagas sent a deputation to General Washington, at Cambridge, as early as the month of August, avowing their readiness to assist the Americans in the event of an expedition into Canada. [FN-2] This assurance was fulfilled. In a letter from Sir Guy Carleton to General Gage, written in August, which was intercepted, the Canadian Governor said—"Many of the Indians have gone over to them (the Americans), and large numbers of the Canadians are with them. . . . I had hopes of holding out for this year, though I seem abandoned by all the world, had the savages remained firm. I cannot blame these poor people for securing themselves, as they see multitudes of the enemy at hand, and no succour from any part, though it is now four months since their operations against us first began." [FN-3] The subsequent reverses of the Americans, however, changed the masters of those Indians, and they were ere long found warring in the ranks of the Crown.


[FN-1] Letter of Washington to the president of Congress, Aug. 4th, 1775.

[FN-2] Letter of Washington to Gen. Schuyler.

[FN-3] Sparks.

But all the Indians did not join the British standard. Notwithstanding that the Delawares had been engaged in the Cresap war, the year before, they refused the solicitations of the British emissaries and the Senecas to take up the hatchet with them in this contest. A meeting of Indians was held in Pittsburgh, to deliberate upon the question, at which a select deputation of the Senecas attended. Captain White Eyes, a sensible and spirited warrior of the Lenape, boldly declared that he would not embark in a war, to destroy a people born on the same soil with himself. The Americans, he said, were his friends and brothers, and no nation should dictate to him or his tribe the course they should pursue. [FN]


[FN] Heckewelder.




CHAPTER VI.


Lord Dunmore—Glance at the South—Suspicious conduct of Sir John Johnson—Conduct of the Tories in Tryon County—Gen. Schuyler directed by Congress to march into that County and disarm the Tories—Preliminary mission to the Lower Mohawks—Message to them—Their displeasure and reply—March of Schuyler—Meets the Indians at Schenectady—Interview and speeches—Advance of Schuyler—Letter to Sir John Johnson—Interview—Negotiations of capitulation—Terms proposed—Schuyler advances to Caughnawaga—Joined by Tryon County Militia—Farther correspondence with Sir John—Interview with the Indian mediators—Terms of surrender adjusted—Schuyler marches to Johnstown—Sir John, his household, and the Highlanders, disarmed—Troops scour the country to bring in the loyalists—Disappointment as to the supposed Tory Depot of warlike munitions—Return of Schuyler to Albany—Resolution of Congress—Additional trouble with Sir John—Preparations for his seizure—Expedition of Col. Dayton—Flight of the Baronet and his partisans to Canada—Their sufferings—And subsequent conduct—How the violation of his parole was considered.

The dawn of the New Year was lighted up by the conflagration of Norfolk, by order of Lord Dunmore, the royal Governor of Virginia. His Lordship had previously retired with his adherents to the fleet; and this act of Vandalism was directed by way of retaliating upon the Whigs of that borough, for having refused supplies to the Liverpool man of war. The people themselves destroyed the buildings nearest the water, in order to deprive the ships even of those sources of supply. After cruising for a time on the coast of Virginia, and being every where repulsed—some of his ships having been driven on shore, and their crews captured and imprisoned by the Colonists—his Lordship was obliged to destroy those of his vessels which were not sea-worthy, and seek refuge himself in Florida and the West Indies. Another incident adverse to the royal arms, was the defeat, by the Provincials under General Moore, of General McDonald, (commissioned by Governor Martin,) in his attempts to bring North Carolina to obedience. The battle resulting in this defeat was gallantly fought at Moore's Creek Bridge, by Colonels Caswell and Lillington, commanding about 1000 minute men and militia. A large quantity of arms fell into the hands of the Provincials; and the defeat, equally unexpected and decisive, greatly depressed the spirits of the loyalists in that quarter.

Resuming the history of the Mohawk Valley; although the Autumn of the preceding year had passed quietly away in that region, yet no small degree of uneasiness was created, early in the winter, by the suspicious conduct of Sir John Johnson; heightened, as will appear in the sequel, by false representations sent forth by a man who, in the end, proved to be an impostor. Such were the spirit of the times moreover, and the jealousies mutually entertained, that it is more than probable the measures of Sir John were concerted in consequence of apprehensions honestly indulged, and in all likelihood awakened by the same or a kindred imposture. At all events Sir John was actively engaged in defensive preparations, with a view, as it was believed, of throwing up fortifications around the baronial hall. His adherents, as we have seen, were numerous, particularly among the Scotch Highlanders, by several hundreds of whom he was surrounded; and reports became rife, that, in addition to these, the works he was erecting were to be garrisoned by three hundred Indians, to be let loose upon the settlements as opportunities might occur.

It was undoubtedly true that the Tories of that region were preparing actively to espouse the royal cause, and enlistments for the King's service, it is very likely, were secretly making. Information to this effect was laid before Congress in December. It was also declared, by a man named Connell, that a considerable quantity of arms and ammunition, and other warlike articles, had been collected and concealed by the Tories at Johnstown, to be used when the proper moment for action arrived. The facts disclosed by Connell were supported by his deposition; whereupon a resolution was adopted by Congress, directing General Schuyler to be informed of these circumstances, and requesting him to adopt the most speedy and effectual measures for securing the said arms and military stores; for disarming the loyalists, apprehending their leaders, and taking such measures in general as might be judged necessary to ensure the tranquility of the frontier. [FN] This resolution was received by General Schuyler at Albany early in January, and no time was lost in concerting measures for its execution.


[FN] The sum of forty dollars was appropriated by Congress for this object; and the Special Committee having the subject in charge, were directed to count the gold and silver in the treasury, and forward the same to General Schuyler under a guard!—Vide Jour. Con.

General Schuyler having at that time no troops at his disposal, was under the necessity of communicating with the sub-committee of safety of Albany County, for which purpose, in order that a knowledge of the business with which he was charged might not transpire, he previously administered to them the oath of secrecy. They were at first embarrassed in devising a pretext for the preparations it was necessary to make for the expedition; but the opportune arrival of a letter and an affidavit, (probably from Connell,) from Tryon County, containing accounts exactly suited to the emergency, afforded ample reasons for a call upon the militia. General Schuyler at first supposed that a force of three hundred men, with the assistance they would be certain to receive from the Whigs of Tryon County, would be amply sufficient. It was determined, however, in order to produce a deeper effect upon the loyalists against whom they were proceeding, to march with a force of seven hundred men.

Nevertheless, in order to preserve the good-will of the Indians of the Lower Mohawk Castle, [FN] and guard against taking them by surprise or giving them unnecessary alarm, Mr. Bleecker, the Indian interpreter, residing at Albany, was despatched to the Castle on the 15th, charged with a belt and the following message to the Indians:—


[FN] The Mohawks of the Lower Castle, with Little Abraham, had not been drawn away by Thayendanegea and Guy Johnson.

"Brothers: I am sent by the Commissioners of the United Colonies, to acquaint you that the brethren of Albany have received information that several persons in and about Johnstown are busy in enlisting men to cut our throats, and are making other hostile preparations to assist in enslaving this country, and to prevent and stop up the road of communication to the Westward. Your Albany Brothers, on this alarming occasion, have collected their warriors, and are now sending them up the river in order to inquire into the truth of the report, and act thereupon as they may judge needful.

"Brothers: Be not alarmed at these preparations; nothing is intended against you; our own safety and liberty impel us to this measure; you can rest perfectly satisfied that we will invariably pursue our friendly disposition towards you, and expect that you will, agreeable to the promises you made us at Albany, take no part in the present struggle.

"Brothers: We promised you last Summer that Sir John and his family should not be molested while he took no measures against us. We are yet of that mind; and if he has acted as an honest man, he need not fear any danger.

"Brothers: Lest the preparations and march into your country should alarm the Six Nations, we desire that you will send some of your young men with this speech to the end of the House of the Six Nations, that no uneasiness may take place in their minds."

The Indians were by no means pleased with the proposed invasion of the Valley; anticipating, probably, an injurious effect upon their own people, and perhaps injury to Sir John, to whom they were sincerely attached. After due deliberation, Mr. Bleecker was sent back with a belt containing the following reply to the Commissioners, or, in other words, to General Schuyler:—

"Brothers: This belt we present to the Commissioners of the twelve United Colonies and our Brothers of Albany, and desire them that the troops that were coming up should not come up so speedily; that perhaps a mode might be pointed out to have it settled in an easier manner; that perhaps, in case the troops came up, it might be a means to stop up the road, and perhaps create an uneasiness in their minds, as they and Sir John were, as it were, one blood; and that the General should do all in his power to have it settled without the troops going up; that he was a wise man, and should set his thoughts a thinking to have it settled, by appointing three or four persons to treat with Sir John about it; that they would retain the belt sent by the Commissioners till such time as they heard from the Commissioners, and in case the troops did not come, then they would send the belt forward to the other nations; but if they came up, then they would keep the same in their hands; that three of their nation should immediately go to Sir John, and desire him to remain silent and be at peace; and that in case there were any in Johnstown that were Tories, they would settle them, and make them remain peaceable. That all the uneasiness in the minds of Sir John, and the others in Johnstown, originates from accounts that they receive from people in Albany; that they daily have accounts from thence that the New England people are coming up to destroy Sir John and his possessions."

Accompanying this message, the Squaws also took the subject in hand, and charged the interpreter with a belt with the following message on their own behalf:—

"Brothers, the Commissioners of the United Colonies and the people of Albany: This belt we present you, and hereby renew the covenant that was made last summer; and we beg that no disturbance shall be made up here, and that the said covenant may not thereby be broken; that in case the troops were to come up, it might create great uneasiness, as they and Sir John were of one blood; and that in case Sir John was disturbed, it might touch their blood, and we beg some other mode may be pointed out whereby this uneasiness may be settled."

General Schuyler, however, did not wait for the return of his messenger from the Indians, but proceeded to Schenectady on the 16th, at the head of a strong division of militia, and accompanied by General Ten Broeck, Colonel Varick, and several other officers. The militia turned out with great alacrity, notwithstanding the severity of the weather and the badness of the roads. On the evening of his arrival at Schenectady, General Schuyler was met by a deputation of the Mohawks, headed by Little Abraham, who, in a very haughty tone, [FN] addressed him as follows:—


[FN] General Schuyler's official report, from which document the whole narrative of this expedition is drawn. This document, it is believed, has never yet been published entire, and has only recently been discovered at Washington, by Peter Force, Esq. who obligingly favored the author with the use of it.

"We intended to have gone down to Albany in order to speak to you; but thank God that he has given us an opportunity to meet you here, as we have some matters to communicate to you."

To which General Schuyler replied with corresponding brevity:—

"I am very glad to see you here, and I shall be glad to hear what the Brothers have to say, as my ears are always open to them."

Whereupon Abraham proceeded to address the General and his associates as follows:—

"Brothers: You lately sent to our place four men, who arrived to us last Sunday morning. [FN] They told us they were sent up to us by you to inform us of those military preparations which were making down in this quarter. By them you let us know that you thought it not prudent to send armed men amongst us without previously notifying us. Likewise, Brothers, your messengers informed us of the reasons of your coming in this manner. You informed us that you had heard that there were a number of men embodied at Sir John's, about Johnstown. You told us likewise, that as soon as they had completed their body, they intended to destroy the settlements up and down the river. You informed us that you were coming up to inquire into the truth of the report, and who it was that gave out commissions, and what were their designs. At the same time you assured us that no harm was intended against us, the Six Nations, as we had last summer publicly engaged that we would take no part against you in your dispute with the great King over the Great Water."


[FN] The Mohawk chief seems here to refer to an embassy to their castle a few days previous to that performed by Mr. Bleecker, not mentioned by General Schuyler. Or, perhaps, a wrong date was given to the message transmitted by the interpreter.

"Brothers: You told us that you would come to search into the truth of the report, and you assured us also that you would not be the first aggressor, and that it should be our own fault if any blood was spilt. You told us that you would acquaint the Lower Castle first of the design, that they should send up to the Upper Castle, and they to the Oneida, and they to Onondaga, and so through the whole Six Nations.

"Brothers: We thanked your messengers for the speech delivered to us, and we would consider of it for some time to return them an answer accordingly. Brothers, a small number of us who take care of the news met in council on this occasion. We thanked your messengers for informing us first of your designs. We said we knew the agreement which was entered into with the whole twelve United Colonies. At that meeting you remember it was agreed to remove all obstacles out of the way of the path of peace, to keep it so that we might pass and repass without being annoyed.

"Brothers: you told us that you came to inquire into the truth of the report, which might be done by 4 or 6 without any danger in making the inquiry. We proposed your sending up six persons to inquire into the truth of this matter, as it would be a shame to interrupt them, as no person would be so mean to give them any obstruction. As for sending your belt forward, we thought to retain it until we had heard whether our proposal had been accepted or no. And we desire that you would consider of this matter, and keep your troops at home, and let us know your mind; and if, after considering of our proposals, you do not agree to them, that you will then let us know what you intend to do. They likewise sent word to you that when they had heard from you, whether you accepted of our proposals, we would then do as you desire in sending up the news.

"Brothers: We expected an answer to our proposals; but none arrived until we were informed by a woman who returned from Albany, that those preparations were actually making, and that troops were actually marching in the country. We then, Brothers, took the matter into consideration, and determined it was best for a party to meet you, and you see us this day, Brothers, arrived. We come, Brothers, to beg of you that you take good care and prudence of what you are going about. We beg of you, Brothers, to remember the engagement which was made with the twelve United Colonies at our interview last summer, as we then engaged to open the path of peace, and to keep it undefiled from blood. At the same time something of a different nature made its appearance. You assured us, Brothers, that if any were found in our neighborhood inimical to us, you would treat them as enemies. The Six Nations then supposed that the son of Sir William was pointed at by that expression. We then desired particularly that he might not be injured, as it was not in his power to injure the cause; and that therefore he might not be molested. The Six Nations then said they would not concern themselves with your operations in other parts, but particularly desired that this path might be free from blood. And now, Brothers, we repeat it again; we beg of you to take good care and not to spill any blood in this path, and the more especially, Brothers, as it is but of this day that the Six Nations had so agreeable an interview with the Colonies, and our chiefs are now hunting in the woods, and not dreaming that there is any prospect that this path is or will be defiled with blood.

"We informed you, Brothers, that we had heard of a woman, that you were advancing, and that you had cannon. We then took it into consideration. We thought it strange that cannon should be brought into the country, as the twelve United Colonies had so lately opened the path of peace. As you will remember that this path was opened last Spring, and the Six Nations agreed to keep it open. We then thought what could influence the twelve United Colonies to open this path, and from the present appearance it is as if with a design that the cannon should pass free from all obstruction.

"Brothers, attend! It was your request, and a matter agreed upon by the twelve United Colonies, that we should mind nothing but peace; therefore, Brothers, as we mean to observe that agreement, we have expressed ourselves as above, and as Brothers we mind nothing but peace. We look upon ourselves as mediators between the two parties; therefore, Brothers, as your messengers declared that you would not be the aggressors, we informed Sir John of this, and earnestly begged of him not to be the aggressor, or the means of spilling blood; and at the same time assured him, that if we found that he should be the aggressor, we would not pay any farther attention to him; and likewise told him, that if our Brothers of the United Colonies were the aggressors, we should treat them in the same manner. This is what we told Sir John, as we look upon ourselves to be the mediators between both parties, and, as we have said before, desired him not to be the aggressor. To which Sir John replied, that we knew his disposition very well, and that he had no mind to be the aggressor. He assured us that he would not be the aggressor, but if the people came up to take away his life, he would do as well as he could, as the law of nature justified every person to stand in his own defence.

"According to the news we have heard, it is as though Sir John would shut up the path of peace in that quarter; but it is impossible he should do it, as he had but a mere handful of friends; but, Brothers, if this company, who now are passing by, should go up, and any thing bad should happen, we shall look on you as shutting up the path.

"It has been represented to you, Brothers, that it seems that Sir John is making military preparations, and that he is making a fort round his house; but, Brothers, as we live so near him, we should certainly know it if any thing of that nature should be done, especially as we go there so frequently on account of our father, the minister, who sometimes performs divine service at that place. We have never seen any hostile preparations made there; there is no cannon, or any thing of that kind, and all things remain in the same situation it was in the lifetime of Sir William.

"Brothers: We would not conceal anything from you. It would not be right to use deceit, neither do we mean to do it. The minds of our counselors are very much grieved; and aggrieved at that part of the disposition of those whom we may call our warriors; there are some among us of different minds, as there are among you, Brothers. Our counselors, remembering the covenant we last Summer made with our Brethren, the Twelve Colonies, have all along strongly urged our warriors to peace, and have checked them when a contrary disposition appeared. Our minds are very much aggrieved to find any of our warriors of different sentiment. We have hitherto been able to restrain them, and hope still to be able to do it, for matters are not now carried to extremity; but if they are, our warriors will not be restrained, because they will think themselves deceived if this military force comes into the country.

"We have declared to you, Brothers, that we would not deceive, and that we mean to declare our minds to you openly and freely. We, the sachems, have all along inculcated to the warriors sentiments of peace, and they have hitherto been obedient to us, though there have been frequent rumours that they should be disturbed; yet we have hitherto been able to calm their minds. But now, Brothers, so large a party coming, alarms the minds of our warriors. They are determined, Brothers, to go and be present at your interview with Sir John, and determined to see and hear every thing that should be there transacted; and if it shall then appear that this party shall push matters to extremes, we then cannot be accountable for any thing that may happen. But as for us, Brothers, the counselors are fully determined ever to persevere in the path of peace.

"Brothers, attend! Though I have finished what I had purposed to say, yet I will add one thing more. When the news of your approach arrived at our town, it caused great confusion; some were ready to take to their arms, observing that those reports respecting the unfriendly disposition of the Colonies were now verified. I begged of them, Brothers, to possess their minds in peace for a few days. I told them that I myself would go to Albany, and inquire into the truth of the matter; I was so conscious of my own innocency, that no hostile appearance could deter me, however formidable. I therefore desired them to sit still until my return, which might be in two days if I went to Albany. This, Brothers, is the present situation of our people. They are waiting to see what news I bring."

"Brothers: When I made this request to the warriors that they should sit still till my return, they told me that they would, which they are now in expectation of, and will do nothing till I get back. But, Brothers, after my return I will repeat to them the speech you will now make to me, and if any of our people should still persist to be present at your interview with Sir John, we hope, Brethren, you will not think hard of us as counselors, as it is not in our power to rule them as we please. If they should go, and any thing evil should happen, we beg to know, Brothers, what treatment we may expect who remain at home in peace.

"Brothers: This is all we have to say. This is the business which has brought us down, and we now expect an answer to carry home to our people."

To which General Schuyler delivered the following answer:

"Brothers of the Mohawk Nation: We, the Commissioners appointed by the Congress, and your Brothers of Albany and Schenectady, have paid great attention to the speech you have delivered us. We now desire you to open your ears, and attentively listen to what we have to say in answer.

"Brothers: It pleased us to hear you declare that you would speak your minds freely. We assure you that we shall do the same, and hide nothing from you of what is in our thoughts.

"Brothers: We were in hopes that the message which we sent you by Mr. Bleecker would have eased your minds, and have convinced you that no hostile intentions existed against you or any other Indians; for if they had, we would not have sent you that message, neither would we have supplied you with powder, as we did last Summer and again the other day.

"Brothers: We are extremely sorry that you have not complied with our request, to send the speech which we sent you by Mr. Bleecker, to the Six Nations in the manner which we required.

"Brothers: You told us that five or six men would have been sufficient to go to Johnstown and inquire what was transacting there, and that these people would be in no danger, as it would be a shame to interrupt them. We acknowledge, Brothers, that it would have been a shame if we had sent them and they had been interrupted; but we have full proofs that many people in Johnstown, and the neighbourhood thereof, have for a considerable time past made preparations to carry into execution the wicked designs of the King's evil counselors.

"Brothers: It is very true that last Summer the United Colonies promised that the path to the Indian country should be kept open. They again repeat that promise; and although it is by the special order of Congress that this body of troops are now marching up, yet it is not to shut the path, but to keep it open, and to prevent the people in and about Johnstown from cutting off the communication between us and our brethren of the Six Nations, and our other brethren living up the river.

"Brothers: Although we have before observed that the people living in and about Johnstown are making hostile preparations against us, yet we will not shed a drop of their blood unless they refuse to come to an agreement by which we may be safe, or unless they oppose us with arms. We do not mean that any of our warriors should set their foot on any of the lands you possess, or that of the Six Nations, unless our enemies should take shelter there; for those we are resolved to follow wherever they go. We again repeat, that we have no quarrel with you, and we do expect that you will not interfere in this family contest, but stand by as indifferent spectators, agreeable to the engagement of the Six Nations made to us last Summer at their own request.

"Brothers: We assured you last Summer, that as we had no quarrel with any Indians, we would not touch a hair of their heads; yet when our warriors were at St. Johns, they were attacked by Indians. Two of your tribe, and some others, were killed. You have never blamed us for it, because you well knew that our lives are dear to us; we have a right to kill any man who attempts to kill us. You ought, therefore, not to be surprised if we take every precaution to prevent being destroyed by the friends of the King's evil counselors.

"Brothers: In a little time we may be called upon to go and fight against our enemies to the eastward, who are employed by the King's evil counselors; and can you think it prudent that we should leave a set of people who are our enemies, in any part of the country, in such a situation as to be able to destroy our wives and children, and burn our houses in our absence? Would you leave your wives and children in such a situation? The wisdom by which you have conducted your affairs convinced us that you would not; and yet so cautious are we that no blood may be shed, that we shall send a letter to Sir John, inviting him to meet us on the road between this place and his house, which if he does, we make no doubt but every thing will be settled in an amicable manner; and that he may be under no apprehensions, we do now assure you that if we do not come to an agreement, he will be permitted safely to return to his own house.

"Brothers: We thank you that you have concealed nothing from us, and we assure you that we scorn deceit as much as you do; and therefore we shall now speak our minds freely on what you have said respecting the conduct which your warriors mean to hold. We have no objection, nay, we wish that you and they should be present, to hear what we shall propose to Sir John and the people in and about Johnstown who are our enemies; but we beg of you to tell your warriors, that although we have no quarrel with them, yet if we should be under the disagreeable necessity of fighting with our enemies, and your warriors should join them and fight against us, that we will do as we did at St. Johns, repel force by force.

"Brothers: You have asked us, if your warriors should go and if any thing evil should happen, what treatment you may expect who remain at home in peace?

"Brothers: In the treaty held at Albany last Summer, you and your warriors were present, and you and they jointly promised to remain neuter and not to interfere in this quarrel. Should your warriors, therefore, now take up arms against us, we must consider it as a breach of the treaty so far as it respects the lower Mohawk Castle; of which breach we shall complain to our Brethren, the other nations, and at the same time lay the matter before our great council at Philadelphia, whose determination thereupon will be our future guide.

"Brothers: We are surprised that the least doubt should remain on your minds with respect to our friendly intentions towards you, after the many instances we have given you of our love and friendship; but we must impute it to the wicked insinuations of our mutual enemies, who wish for nothing so much as to see the ancient covenant which has so long subsisted between us broken.

"Brothers: You have observed that you would pay no regard to that party that should be the first aggressor. We cannot be the aggressors; for if our enemies in and about Johnstown had had no evil intentions against us, we should never have even come thus far with an army. Whoever takes up arms against another, although he has not yet struck, must be considered as the aggressor, and not he who tries to prevent the blow.

"Brothers: We have now freely and fully disclosed to you our minds. We hope you will remember what we have said, and repeat it to your Brothers, counselors, and warriors; and, lest you should not be able to recollect every part of this speech, you may have your Brothers Ka-ragh-qua-dirhon, and Ti-ze-de-ron-de-ron, [Deane and Bleecker,] interpreters, to attend you if it be agreeable to you.

"Brothers: Your women have sent us a belt. We beg you to assure them of our regard, and to entreat them to prevent your warriors from doing any thing that would have the least tendency to incur our resentment, or interrupt that harmony which we wish may subsist to the end of time."

To this the Indians made the following brief reply:—

"Brother Schuyler the Great Man, attend! We have this evening heard what you have to say, and we are glad of it, and thank you for it.

"Every thing that has been said to us. Brother, has been perfectly agreeable to us.

"I shall not attempt, Brother, to make a particular reply to every thing that has been said to us. Indeed, it would not be proper at this time.

"We are very glad, Brother, that you have determined to write to Sir John, requesting an interview with him in hopes of an amicable agreement.

"Brother: You mention that it would be agreeable to you that the warriors and counselors, or sachems, should attend.

"Brother: We, the sachems, will attend, though we should do it at the risk of our lives.

"Brother: We should be glad if you would inform us of the time and place of your interview with Sir John. You likewise told us, that if it was agreeable to us, that your interpreters should attend to recapitulate the speech you have made, which likewise is agreeable to us; and we desire that they may go with us, for by that means all mistakes may be prevented.

"Brother: You may depend on it that we will use our utmost influence with our warriors to calm their minds. You may depend on it, likewise, that our sisters will use their utmost influence for the same purpose."

General Schuyler assured them again of his pacific intentions, and that nothing unpleasant should happen to them. He also informed them, that if they desired to attend the expedition to Johnstown, or to be present at the intended interview with Sir John, as mediators, they should be protected in that character. With this understanding they took their departure the same night. A letter, of which the following is a copy, was at the same time despatched to Sir John Johnson:—

"General Schuyler to Sir John Johnson.
Schenectady,
Jan. 16, 1776.

"Sir,

"Information having been received that designs of the most dangerous tendency to the rights, liberties, property, and even lives of those of his Majesty's faithful subjects in America who are opposed to the unconstitutional measures of his ministry, have been formed in a part of the County of Tryon, I am ordered to march a body of men into that County, to carry into execution certain resolutions of my superiors, and to contravene those dangerous designs.

"Influenced, Sir, by motives of humanity, I wish to comply with my orders in a manner the most peaceable, that no blood may be shed. I therefore request that you will please to meet me to-morrow, at any place on my way to Johnstown, to which I propose then to march. For which purpose I do hereby give you my word of honour, that you, and such persons as you may choose should attend you, shall pass safe and unmolested to the place where you may meet me, and from thence back to the place of your abode.

"Rutgers Bleecker and Henry Glen, Esqrs. are the bearers hereof, gentlemen who are entitled to your best attention, which I dare say they will experience, and by whom I expect you will favour me with an answer to this letter.

"You will please to assure Lady Johnson, that whatever may be the result of what is now in agitation, she may rest perfectly satisfied that no indignity will be offered her.

"I am, Sir, Your humble Servant, Ph. Schuyler. "To Sir John Johnson, Baronet."

General Schuyler resumed his march on the morning of the 17th—his forces constantly increasing, until before nightfall they numbered upward of three thousand. Having proceeded about sixteen miles from Schenectady, the expedition was met by Sir John, attended by several of his leading friends among the Scotchmen, and two or three others. The result of the interview was the proffer, by General Schuyler, of the following terms to Sir John and his retainers:—

"Terms offered by the Honourable Philip Schuyler, Esq., Major-general in the army of the thirteen United Colonies, and commanding in the New-York department, to Sir John Johnson, Baronet, and all such other persons in the County of Tryon as have evinced their intentions of supporting his Majesty's ministry, to carry into execution the unconstitutional measures of which the Americans so justly complain, and to prevent which they have been driven to the dreadful necessity of having recourse to arms.

"First: That Sir John Johnson shall, upon his word of honour, immediately deliver up all cannon, arms, and other military stores, of what kind soever, which may be in his own possession, or which he has caused to be delivered into the possession of any persons whatsoever, either directly or indirectly, or that to his knowledge may be concealed in any part of the said County. That he shall distinguish all such military stores of what kind soever as belong to the Crown, or were furnished with the design of arming the Indians or the inhabitants of Tryon County, from those which may be private property, in order that a proper inventory may be taken of the last articles, that the same may be restored, or the value of them refunded, when this unhappy contest shall be over.

"Secondly: General Schuyler, out of personal respect for Sir John, and from a regard to his rank, consents that Sir John shall retain for his own use a complete set of armor, and as much powder as may be sufficient for his domestic purposes.

"Thirdly: That Sir John Johnson shall remain upon his parole of honour in any part of Tryon County which he may choose, to the eastward of the district of —— unless it should appear necessary to the Honourable the Continental Congress to remove him to some other part of this, or any other Colony; in which case he is immediately to comply with such orders as they may think proper to give for that purpose.

"Fourthly: That the Scotch inhabitants of the said County shall, without any kind of exception, immediately deliver up all arms in their possession, of what kind soever they may be; and that they shall each solemnly promise that they will not at any time hereafter, during the continuance of this unhappy contest, take up arms without the permission of the Continental Congress, or of their general officers;—and for the more faithful performance of this article, the General insists that they shall immediately deliver up to him six hostages of his own nomination.

"Fifthly: That such of the other inhabitants of Tryon County as have avowed themselves averse to the measures of the United Colonies, shall also deliver up their arms, of what kind soever they may be, and enter into the like engagement as is stipulated in the preceding article, both with respect to their future conduct and the number of hostages.

"Sixthly: That all blankets, strouds, and other Indian articles belonging to the Crown, and intended as presents to the Indians, shall be delivered up to a commissary appointed by General Schuyler, in the presence of three or more of the Mohawk chiefs, in order that the same may be dispensed amongst the Indians, for the purpose of cementing the ancient friendship between them and their brethren of the United Colonies, for which sole purpose they ought to have been furnished.

"Seventhly: If Sir John Johnson, and the people referred to in the aforegoing articles, shall justly abide by, and perform what is thereby required of them, the General, in behalf of the Continental Congress, doth promise and engage, that neither Sir John Johnson nor any of those people shall be molested by any of the other inhabitants of the said County, or by any of the inhabitants of the thirteen United Colonies; but that, on the contrary, they will be protected in the quiet and peaceable enjoyment of their property;—the sole intent of this treaty being to prevent the horrid effects of a civil and intestine war betwixt those who ought to be brethren. That all the arms which shall be delivered up in consequence of the preceding articles shall be valued by sworn appraisers. That if the Continental Congress should have occasion for them, they may be taken. If not, they will be delivered to the respective proprietors when this unhappy contest shall be at an end."

In the course of the interview. Sir John assured General Schuyler that the Indians would support him, and that numbers of them were already at Johnson Hall for that purpose. He was assured, in return, that though averse to the shedding of blood, if the proffered terms were not acceded to, force would be opposed to force without distinction of persons, and that the consequences of resistance would be of the most serious description. In conclusion, Sir John begged until the evening of the following day to consider of the propositions, which request was granted, and the Baronet took his leave.

In about an hour after his departure, Abraham, and another of the Mohawks, made their appearance at General Schuyler's quarters. On being informed of what Sir John had said respecting the Indians being in arms at the Hall for his defence, Abraham pronounced the story untrue, and repeated his assurances that the Mohawks would interfere in no other way than as mediators. The General replied that he hoped they would not, but he at the same time assured them with emphasis, that if they should do so, he should not hesitate a moment in destroying every one who opposed him in arms.

On the following day, (the 18th,) General Schuyler moved forward to Canghnawaga, four miles from Johnstown, where he was joined by Colonel Herkimer and the Tryon County militia. At about 6 o'clock in the afternoon Sir John's answer to the terms proposed to him was received, as follows:—

"Terms proposed by Sir John Johnson, Baronet, and the people of Kingsborough and the adjacent neighborhood, to the Honorable Philip Schuyler, Esq. Major General in the army of the thirteen United Colonies, and commanding in the New-York Department.

"First: That Sir John Johnson and the rest of the gentlemen expect that all such arms of every kind as are their own property may remain in their possession; all the other arms shall be delivered up to such person or persons as may be appointed for that purpose; as to military stores belonging to the Crown, Sir John has not any.

"Secondly: Answered in the first.

"Thirdly: Sir John expects that he will not be confined to any certain County, but be at liberty to go where he pleases.

"Fourthly: The Scotch inhabitants will deliver up their arms of what kind soever they may be, and they will each solemnly promise that they will not at any time hereafter, during the continuance of this unhappy contest, take up arms without the permission of the Continental Congress or of their general officers. Hostages they are not in a capacity to give—no one man having command over another, or power sufficient to deliver such. Therefore this part of the article to be passed over, or the whole included—women and children to be required, being a requisition so inhuman as we hope the General will dispense with.

"Fifthly: Answered in the fourth,

"Sixthly: Sir John has not any blankets, strouds, or other presents, intended for the Indians.

"Seventhly: If the above proposals are agreed to and signed by the General, Sir John and the people referred to will rely on the assurances of protection given by the General.

"[Signed] John Johnson, Allan McDonell. "To the Hon. Philip Schuyler, Major-general"

This answer was in all respects unsatisfactory, as will appear by the annexed letter from General Schuyler in reply:—

"General Schuyler to Sir John Johnson, Baronet.
Caughnawaga,
Jan. 18th, 8 o'clock, P. M., 1776.

"Gentlemen,

"Messrs. Adams and McDonell have delivered me your answer to my proposals of yesterday's date. The least attention to the articles I offered, when compared with yours, must convince you that you omitted replies to several of them, and consequently that what you have sent me is very imperfect, and also unsatisfactory. I waive pointing out some of the inconsistencies in your proposals, as the whole are exceptionable excepting the last.

"I must therefore obey my orders, and again repeat, that, in the execution of them, I shall strictly abide by the laws of humanity; at the same time assuring you, that if the least resistance is made, I will not answer for the consequences, which may be of a nature the most dreadful.

"If Lady Johnson is at Johnson Hall, I wish she would retire, (and therefore enclose a passport,) as I shall march my troops to that place without delay.

"You may, however, still have time to reconsider the matter, and for that purpose I give you until 12 o'clock this night—after which I shall receive no proposals; and I have sent you Mr. Robert Yates, Mr. Glen, and Mr. Duer, to receive the ultimate proposals you have to make. This condescension I make from no other motive than to prevent the effusion of blood, so far as it can be effected without risking the safety of the County, or being guilty of a breach of the positive orders I have received from the Honorable Continental Congress.

"I am, Gentlemen, With due respect, Your humble Servant, Ph. Schuyler. "To Sir John Johnson and Mr. Allan McDonell."

Immediately after the preceding letter had been despatched to the Hall, the sachems of the Lower Castle, with all their warriors and several from the Upper Castle, called upon General Schuyler, having come to his quarters directly from the residence of the Baronet. They informed the General that Sir John had related to them the substance of the terms of surrender that had been proposed. Sir John, they said, had declared to them that all he desired was protection for his family and friends from insult and the outrages of riotous people, and protested that he had no unfriendly intentions against the country. The Indians therefore begged the General to accept the terms as offered by Sir John. The General told the chiefs that he could not accept of those terms, and pointed out the objections. He likewise informed them of the tenor of the letter he had just transmitted to the Hall. The Indians were apparently contented with those reasons and with the course adopted, but begged that, should the answer of Sir John be still unsatisfactory, the General would give him until 4 o'clock in the morning, that they might have time to go and "shake his head," as they expressed it, "and bring him to his senses." They likewise begged it as an additional favor, that General Schuyler would not remove Sir John out of the country. They apologized for the threats of their own warriors, alleging that it was attributable to the circumstance of their not being present at the treaty of Albany; and again repeated the assurance that they would never take arms against the Colonies. In reply. General Schuyler complimented the Indians for their pacific intentions, and informed them that he should accede to their request, although the conduct of Sir John had been so censurable that he should be justified in holding him a close prisoner. His reasons for granting the request, the General told them, were two-fold:—first, to show the love and affection of the Americans for the Indians, and to convince them that they could obtain, by asking as a favor, that which they could not obtain by demanding as a right. Secondly, that by leaving Sir John amongst them, they might, by their example and advice, induce him to alter his conduct.

The extension of the time until 4 o'clock was unnecessary however, the following answer from Sir John having been received at 12 o'clock, at midnight:—

"Answers to the terms proposed by the Honorable Philip Schuyler, Esq. Major-general in the army of the thirteen United Colonies, and commanding in the New-York Department, to Sir John Johnson, Baronet, the inhabitants of Kingsborough, and the neighborhood adjacent.

"First and second articles agreed to, except a few favorite family arms.

"Third: Sir John Johnson having given his parole of honor not to take up arms against America, and conceiving the design of this military operation to be with no other view than that of removing the jealousies of which his countrymen are unhappily and unjustly inspired with against him, can by no means think of submitting to this article in its full latitude, though, for the sake of preserving peace and removing any suspicions of undue influence, he consents not to go to the westward of the German Flats and Kingsland Districts. To every other part of the continent to the southward of this County, he expects the privilege of going.

"Fourthly: Agreed to, excepting that part of the article which respects the giving hostages. After the Scotch inhabitants have surrendered arms, the General may take any six prisoners from amongst them as he chooses, without resistance. They expect, however, that the prisoners so taken, will be maintained agreeable to their respective ranks, and that they may have the privilege of going to any part of the province of New Jersey or Pennsylvania, which the General, or the Continental Congress may appoint. They likewise expect, from the General's humanity, that provision will be made for the maintenance of the prisoner's wives and children, agreeable to their respective situations in life. Yet, for the sake of promoting the harmony of the country, they will not break off this treaty merely on that account, provided the General thinks he cannot exert a discretionary power in this matter; in which case they rely upon the General's influence with the Continental Congress, which they cannot persuade themselves will be inattentive to the voice of humanity, or to the feelings of parents who may be torn from their families. Those to whose lot it may fall to be taken prisoners, it is expected will be allowed a few days to settle their business, and, if gentlemen, to wear their side arms.

"Fifth: Neither Sir John Johnson nor the Scotch gentlemen, can make any engagement for any other persons than those over whom they may have influence. Neither can they possibly know the names of all such persons who have shown themselves averse to the measures of the United Colonies. They give their word and honor, that, so far as depends on them, the inhabitants shall give up their arms, and enter into the like engagement with the Scotch inhabitants. The General has it more in his power to discover those who are obnoxious, and to make as many as he pleases prisoners. Neither shall they adopt the quarrel of any such persons as their own.

"Sixth: Sir John gives his word of honor that he has no blankets, strouds, or other presents, belonging to the Crown, intended for the Indians; and therefore this requisition cannot be complied with.

"Seventh: If the above proposals are agreed to, and signed by the General, Sir John and the people referred to will rely on the assurances of protection given by the General. But as it will be impossible for the arms to be collected till Saturday next at twelve o'clock, all the men referred to in the above articles will be then paraded in Johnstown, and ground their arms in the presence of such troops as the General may appoint.

"[Signed.] John Johnson, Allan McDonell. "Johnson Hall, January 18th, 1776."

The Indians were yet present at the quarters of General Schuyler when this despatch was received from Sir John, and, on being informed that matters were likely to terminate amicably, they retired with warm expressions of gratification. The following letter was thereupon despatched to the Hall:—

"General Schuyler to Sir John Johnson.
Caughnawaga,
January 19, 1776.

"General Schuyler's feelings as a gentleman induce him to consent that Sir John Johnson may retain the few favorite family arms—he making a list of them.

"The General will also consent that Sir John Johnson may go as far to the westward as the German Flats and Kingsland Districts in this County, and to every other part of this Colony to the Southward and Eastward of said Districts, provided he does not go into any seaport town. The General, however, believes, that if Sir John's private business should require his going to any of the other ancient English Colonies, he will be permitted the indulgence by applying to Congress for leave.

"The General will take six of the Scotch inhabitants prisoners, since they prefer it to going as hostages. It has been the invariable rule of Congress, and that of all its officers, to treat prisoners with the greatest humanity, and to pay all due deference to rank. He cannot ascertain the places to which Congress may please to send them. For the present they will go to Reading or Lancaster in Pennsylvania. Nor can he make any promises with respect to the maintenance of the women and children. His humanity will certainly induce him to recommend to Congress an attention to what has been requested on that head. General Schuyler expects that all the Scotch inhabitants, of whatsoever rank, who are not confined to their beds by illness, will attend with their arms, and deliver them on Saturday at 12 o'clock. If this condition be not faithfully performed, he will consider himself as disengaged from any engagements entered into with them.

"General Schuyler never refused a gentleman his side-arms.

"The prisoners that may be taken must be removed to Albany immediately, where the General will permit them to remain a reasonable time to settle their family affairs.

"If the terms General Schuyler has offered on the 17th inst. are accepted with the above qualifications, fair copies will be made out and signed by the parties, one of which will be delivered to Sir John and Mr. McDonell, signed by the General. To prevent a waste of time, the General wishes Sir John and Mr. McDonell immediately to send an answer.

"He remains, with due respect, Sir John's and Mr. McDonell's humble Servant, Ph. Schuyler."

These terms were acceded to by Sir John, and on the same day General Schuyler marched to Johnstown—having previously detailed several detachments of his troops to scour the country, and bring in the disaffected not comprehended in the arrangements with the Baronet. On the same afternoon Sir John delivered up the arms and ammunition in his possession the quantity of both being much smaller than was expected. On Saturday, the 20th, General Schuyler paraded his troops at 12 o'clock at noon, to receive the surrender of the Highlanders, who, to the number of between two and three hundred, marched to the front and grounded their arms. These having been secured, the Scotchmen were dismissed with an exhortation to remain peaceable, and with an assurance of protection if they did so.

The General's attention was next directed to the discovery and capture of the secret depot of arms and ammunition, of which information had been given by Connell. Two of the persons named in his affidavit were taken, but they denied, most unequivocally, all knowledge upon the subject. Connell was then produced to confront them; but they still persisted in maintaining their innocence, and denounced him as a perjured villain. Connell was then sent with a number of officers to point out the spot, where, as he alleged, the arms were concealed. He conducted them to a pond of water, containing a small island, or mound, in the middle, within which he declared the arms were buried. The snow and ice were forthwith removed, and the mound dug down. Connell had particularly described the manner in which the arms had been deposited under ground; but it was soon discovered that the earth had not recently been disturbed, if ever; and in the end it was ascertained, to the satisfaction of all, that the fellow was a base impostor. General Schuyler returned to Caughnawaga that evening. On the two following days upward of a hundred Tories were brought in from different parts of the country. Colonel Herkimer was left in charge to complete the disarming of the disaffected and receive the hostages, and the General, with his miscellaneous army, marched back to Albany. In his letters to Congress, and also to General Washington, he spoke of the anxiety and trouble he had experienced in preventing so large a body of men, collected on the sudden, without discipline, and withal greatly exasperated, from running into excesses. In these efforts, however, he succeeded much better than, under the circumstances, was reasonably to have been anticipated. Before his return, Mr. Dean, the Indian interpreter, was despatched by the General with a belt and a talk to the Six Nations, which has not been preserved. Thus ended the expedition to Johnstown.

General Schuyler transmitted a full report of his proceedings to Congress, by whom a special resolution was passed, thanking him for the fidelity, prudence, and expedition with which he had performed such a meritorious service. A second resolution was also adopted, so curiously constructed, and containing such an ingeniously-inserted hint to the officers and militia-men accompanying General Schuyler on this expedition, as to render it worthy of preservation. It was in the words following:—

"Resolved, That the cheerfulness and ready assistance of those who accompanied General Schuyler in his march to the County of Tryon, and their useful services in that expedition, discovered such a patriotic spirit, that it is hoped none of them will allow their countrymen to entertain a suspicion that any ignoble motive actuated them, by requiring a pecuniary reward, especially when they were employed in suppressing a mischief in their own neighborhood."

The resolutions were enclosed to General Schuyler in a flattering letter from President Hancock, in which, among other things, he says:—"It is with great pleasure I inform you that the prudence, zeal, and temper, manifested in your late expedition, met with the warmest approbation of Congress."

For some unexplained reason, Sir John Johnson did not observe the compact of neutrality, nor the obligations of his parole. Or, if he kept himself within the letter, his conduct was such as to re-awaken the suspicions of the people, and was considered by General Schuyler a virtual violation of the spirit of the parole he had given, to take no part against the Colonies. In fact, the information received by General Schuyler convinced him that Sir John was secretly instigating the Indians to hostilities, and was thus likely to produce much mischief on the frontiers. To prevent such a calamity, it was thought advisable by Schuyler to secure the person of Sir John, and once more to quell the rising spirit of disaffection in the neighborhood of Johnstown, especially among the Highlanders. For this purpose, in the month of May following the events already narrated in the present chapter, Colonel Dayton, with a part of his regiment then on its way to Canada, was dispatched by General Schuyler to prosecute this enterprise. [FN-1] There were, however, large numbers of loyalists in Albany, with whom Sir John was then and subsequently in close correspondence. It is therefore not surprising that he received timely notice of these preparations for his second arrest, in anticipation of Dayton's arrival. Such was the fact; and, hastily collecting a large number of his tenants and others, disaffected toward the cause of the Colonists, the Baronet was prepared for instant flight on the approach of the Continentals. This purpose was successfully executed. Colonel Dayton arrived at Johnstown in the evening, whereupon Sir John and his retainers immediately took to the woods by the way of the Sacandaga. [FN-2] Not knowing whether his royalist friends were in possession of Lake Champlain or not, the fugitives dared not venture upon that route to Montreal; and Sir John was accordingly obliged to strike deeper into the forests between the head waters of the Hudson and the St. Lawrence. Having but a brief period of preparation for their flight, the party was but ill supplied for such a campaign. Their provisions were soon exhausted; their feet became sore from traveling; and several of their number were left from time to time in the wilderness, to be picked up and brought in afterward by the Indians sent out for that purpose.


[FN-1] Sparks's Life and Writings of Washington Note in vol. iv. p. 409—410.

[FN-2] There is some reason to suppose that an expedition, led by the Mohawk Indians, was sent from Montreal on purpose to bring Sir John away, or rescue him from the espionage of the Americans. In one of Brant's speeches, delivered long afterward, when rehearsing the exploits of the Mohawks in the Revolutionary war, the following passage occurs:—"We then went in a body to a town then in the possession of the enemy, and rescued Sir John Johnson, bringing him fearlessly through the streets." Brant, at the time of this rescue, as will presently be seen, was himself in England—as also was Guy Johnson.

After nineteen days of severe hardship, the Baronet and his partisans arrived at Montreal in a pitiable condition—having encountered all of suffering that it seemed possible for man to endure. Such was the precipitation of his departure from the parental hall, and such his deficiency of the means of transportation, that an iron chest, containing the most valuable of his family papers, was hastily buried in the garden. The family Bible, containing the only record of the marriage of his father and mother, and of course the only written evidence of his own legitimacy, was also left behind. [FN-1] Such of the papers as were found, were examined by Colonel Dayton, in compliance with his orders; "and Lady Johnson was removed to Albany, where she was retained as a kind of hostage for the peaceable conduct of her husband. She wrote to General Washington, complaining of this detention, and asking his interference for her release; but the Commander-in-Chief left the matter with General Schuyler and the Albany Committee." [FN-2] Colonel Dayton was stationed several weeks at Johnstown with his troops, and for the time being secured the tranquility of the country.


[FN-1] After the confiscation of the property of Sir John, the furniture of the hall was sold by auction at Fort Hunter. The late Lieut. Governor of New-York, John Taylor, purchased several articles of the furniture; and among other things, the Bible mentioned in the text. Perceiving that it contained the family record, which might be of great value to Sir John, Mr. Taylor wrote a civil note to Sir John, offering its restoration. Some time afterward, a messenger from the Baronet called for the Bible, whose conduct was so rude as to give offence. "I have come for Sir William's Bible," said he, "and there are the four guineas which it cost." The Bible was delivered, and the runner was asked what message Sir John had sent. The reply was—"Pay four guineas, and take the book!"—Letter of John Taylor Cooper (grandson of the Lt. Governor) to the author.

[FN-2] Sparks.

Sir John was immediately commissioned a Colonel in the British service, and raised a command of two battalions, composed of those who accompanied him in his flight, and other American loyalists who subsequently followed their example. They were called the Royal Greens. In the month of January following, he found his way into New-York, then in possession of the British forces. From that period he became not only one of the most active, but one of the bitterest foes of his own countrymen of any who were engaged in that contest—and repeatedly the scourge of his own former neighbors. He was unquestionably a loyalist from principle, else he would scarcely have hazarded, as he did, and ultimately lost, domains larger and fairer than probably ever belonged to a single proprietor in America, William Penn only excepted. But the immediate cause of his breaking his pledge of honor is not known. Unexplained as it ever has been, the act has always been regarded as a stain upon the Baronet's character. It was held as such by the Provincial Congress of New-York, as will be seen by the annexed extract from a letter addressed by that body to General Washington immediately after his flight:—"We apprehend no doubt can exist whether the affair of Sir John Johnson is within your immediate cognizance. He held a commission as Brigadier-General of the militia, and, it is said, another commission as Major-General. That he hath shamefully broken his parole is evident, but whether it would be more proper to have him returned or exchanged, is entirely in your Excellency's prudence." His estates were, of course, confiscated by the Provincial Congress of New-York, and in due time sold under the direction of the Committee of that body having such matters in charge.




CHAPTER VII.


History of Brant resumed—Advanced to the chieftaincy of the Confederacy—Mode of appointing chiefs and sachems—Embarks for England—Arrives in London—Received with marked consideration—Becomes acquainted with James Boswell and others—Agrees to espouse the Royal cause, and returns to America—Steals through the country to Canada—Curious supposed letter to President Wheelock—Battle of the Cedars—Cowardice of Major Butterfield—Outrages of the Indians—Story of Capt. McKinstry, who was saved from the stake by Brant—Indignation of Washington, the people, and Congress—Resolutions of retaliation—Mutual complaints of treatment of prisoners—Murder of Gen. Gordon—Indignation at the outrage—Indian deputation at Philadelphia—Speech to them—Congress resolves upon the employment of an Indian force—Schuyler opposed—Review of the incidents of the war elsewhere—Destitution of the Army—Evacuation of Boston by the English—Disastrous termination of the Canadian campaign—Deplorable condition of the army—Humanity of Sir Guy Carleton—Glance at the South—Declaration of Independence—Spirit of Tryon County—Cherry Valley—Fortifications at Fort Stanwix—American army moves to New-York—Arrival of the British fleet and army—Battle of Long-Island—Washington evacuates New-York—Battle of White Plains—Retreats across New-Jersey—Followed by Cornwallis—Defeat of Arnold on Lake Champlain—Fall of Rhode Island—Battle of Trenton.

The progress of events renders it necessary again to introduce the Indian hero of the war of the Revolution more prominently upon the stage of action. Thayendanegea had now been advanced to the situation of principal war-chief of the confederacy [FN-1]—an officer, according to the ancient usages of the Six Nations, uniformly taken from the Mohawks. [FN-2] How, or in what manner. Brant arrived at that dignity, history does not inform us. Hendrick, the last of the Mohawk chiefs who bore the royal title of King, fell under Sir William Johnson at Lake George twenty years before. He was succeeded by Little Abraham, whose name has frequently occurred in the preceding pages, and who has been designated by some writers as the brother of Hendrick. But whether such was the fact or not, no farther mention of his name occurs in the history of the war. He was uniformly friendly to the Colonists; and as he refused to leave the valley with Thayendanegea and the majority of the nation who accompanied Guy Johnson in his flight—preferring to remain with the tribe at the Lower Castle—it is not improbable that Brant assumed the superior chieftaincy from the force of circumstances. Sir William Johnson informs us, that the sachems of each tribe of the Six Nations were usually chosen in a public assembly of the chiefs and warriors, whenever a vacancy happened by death or otherwise. They were selected from among the oldest warriors for their sense and bravery, and approved of by all the tribe—after which they were selected as sachems. Military services were the chief recommendations to this rank; but in some instances a kind of inheritance in the office was recognized. [FN-3] We have seen that Thayendanegea was descended from a family of chiefs, and his birth may have contributed to his elevation. His family and official connexion with the Johnsons, whose name continued so potent with the Indians, likewise, without doubt, facilitated his advancement. But Mr. Stewart, denying that the family of Thayendanegea was remarkable for any preeminence in their village, represents his influence to have been acquired by his uncommon talents and address as a counselor and politician; by which means he subdued all opposition and jealousy, and at length acquired such an ascendancy that, even in the hour of action and danger, he was enabled to rule and direct his warriors as absolutely as if he had been born their General.


[FN-1] I am aware that the dignity of "Principal Chief" has been denied to Captain Brant by several writers, and expressly by the Rev. Mr. Stewart, who says he was not a war-chief by birth, and not so often in command as has been supposed. It will be seen, however, toward the close of this work, from the speech of a Seneca chief, that Thayendanegea was the head chief of the confederacy—Mr. S. to the contrary notwithstanding.

[FN-2] David Cusick's sketches of the Ancient History of the Six Nations. Cusick was himself an Indian of the Tuscarora tribe.

[FN-3] Letters of Sir William Johnson to Arthur Lee—vide London Philosophical Transactions.

This inquiry, however, is of no great importance. The fact that he had now become the chief sachem is unquestionable; and from this point of the present history, Joseph Thayendanegea becomes one of the principal personages engaged in its progress. He was ordinarily called by his other name of Joseph Brant, or "Captain Brant"—the title of "Captain" being the highest military distinction known to the Indians; and that, moreover, being the military rank actually conferred upon him in the army of the Crown. In much of his correspondence, when wishing to be formal and writing to distinguished men, he was accustomed to write his name "Joseph BrantThayendanegea;" the latter being his legitimate Indian name.

It has been seen, in a preceding chapter, that Thayendanegea had accompanied Guy Johnson from the Mohawk Valley, first, westwardly to Ontario, thence back to Oswego, and thence to Montreal, where his services, and those of his warriors, were courted by Generals Carleton and Haldimand, and an agreement was speedily made that they were to take up the hatchet in the cause of the King. For the prosecution of a border warfare, the officers of the Crown could scarcely have engaged a more valuable auxiliary. Distinguished alike for his address, his activity, and his courage—possessing, in point of stature and symmetry of person, the advantage of most men even among his own well-formed race—tall, erect, and majestic, with the air and mien of one born to command,[FN-1]—having, as it were, been a man of war from his boyhood,[FN-2]—his name was a tower of strength among the warriors of the wilderness. Still more extensive was his influence rendered, by the circumstance that he had been much employed in the civil service of the Indian department, under Sir William Johnson, by whom he was often deputed upon embassies among the tribes of the confederacy, and to those yet more distant, upon the great lakes and rivers of the north-west, by reason of which his knowledge of the whole country and people was accurate and extensive.


[FN-1] Letter of General P. B. Porter to the author.

[FN-2] He was but thirteen years old when in the battle of Lake George.

Whether, after the compact with Sir Guy Carleton, the chief again visited the Indian country of the Six Nations during the summer of 1775, is unknown. Probably not; since, in the autumn of that year or early in the following winter, he embarked on his first visit to England. What was the precise object of this visit does not appear. It is very probable, however, that, notwithstanding the agreement so hastily formed at Montreal, the sagacious chieftain may have judged it prudent to pause, before committing himself too far by overt acts of hostility against the Colonies. The Oneidas were evidently inclining to espouse the Colonial side of the controversy, if any; the River Indians had already ranged themselves on the same side; Captain White-Eyes of the Delawares, had determined upon neutrality; and the Caughnawagas, or at least some of their leading chiefs, were in the camp with Washington. To all which may be added the fact, that at that time the American arms were carrying every thing before them in Canada. These circumstances were certainly enough to make the chieftain hesitate as to the course dictated by true wisdom. His predilections, doubtless, from the first, inclined him to espouse the cause of the King. Nay, he maintained through life, that the ancient covenants of his people rendered it obligatory upon him so to do. In addition to which were the strong ties of blood, of association, and of gratitude, by which he was bound to the family and the interests of the Johnsons. Still, the brilliant successes with which the Americans had opened the campaign in Canada presented another view of the case, which was certainly entitled to grave consideration. Thus situated, the chief may have found his position so embarrassing as to induce him to visit the parent country, and go himself into the presence of "The Great King," as the British monarch was styled by the Indians, before he should finally determine whether actually to take the field or not. By making the voyage, he would have the additional advantage of studying the resources and the power of the parent country, and would thereby be the better able to determine for himself whether success was likely to crown his Majesty's arms in the end, or whether, by an over-scrupulous observance of an ancient stipulation of alliance, he should not, with his people, be rushing upon certain destruction.

But whether he thus reasoned or not, it is certain that he sailed for England toward the close of the year 1775, and reached London early in 1776, accompanied by Captain Tice, an officer of English extraction, born in America, who had resided in the neighborhood of the Mohawk nation.

Only a very brief account of this, his first visit to England, has been found. [FN] It has always been said, however, that he was not only well received, but that his society was courted by gentlemen of rank and station—statesmen, scholars, and divines. He had little of the savage ferocity of his people in his countenance; and when, as he ordinarily did, he wore the European dress, there was nothing besides his color to mark wherein he differed from other men. Upon his first arrival in the British Capital, he was conducted to the inn called "The Swan with two Necks." Other lodgings were soon provided for him, more suitable to his rank as an Indian king; but he said the people of the inn had treated him with so much kindness and civility, that he preferred remaining there during his stay in London; and he accordingly did so.


[FN] London Magazine for July, 1776.

Although he was dressed in the European habit, he was not unprovided with a splendid costume after the manner of his own nation, in which he appeared at Court, and upon visits of state and ceremony. James Boswell was at that period in his glory, and an intimacy appears to have been contracted between him and the Mohawk chief, since the latter sat for his picture at the request of this most interesting of egotists. He also sat, during the same visit, to Romney, one of the most distinguished artists of his day, for the Earl of Warwick. He was, of course, painted in his native dress, and the picture was greatly prized. [FN] The tomahawk worn by him in London, was a very beautiful article, polished to the highest degree; upon which was engraved the first letter of his Christian name, with his Mohawk appellation, thus:—"J. Thayendanegea."


[FN] The frontispiece of the present volume is from the last-mentioned picture.

{TN} {The aforementioned frontispiece is not included in this scanned version of the book.}

He did not remain in England many months, but, in company with Captain Tice, sailed on his return toward the close of March or early in April, [FN-1] and arrived on the coast near the harbor of New-York after a very short passage. Having fully determined to fulfill his stipulations with General Carleton, and take up the hatchet in the cause of the Crown, he was cautiously and privately landed somewhere in the neighborhood of New-York, whence he performed a very hazardous journey to Canada—having, of course, to steal his way through a hostile population, until he could hide himself in the forests beyond Albany. He had taken the precaution, however, in England, to provide evidence of the identity of his body in case of disaster, or of his fall in any of the battles he anticipated, by procuring a gold finger ring, with his name engraven thereon at length. [FN-2]


[FN-1] The London Universal Magazine for July of 1776, states that he embarked for America in May. But there must have been a mistake in the date, since Brant, as will soon appear, was in the battle of the Cedars, above Montreal, in that month.

[FN-2] This ring he wore until his death. It was kept as a precious relic by his widow for four years, when it was lost. Strange as it may seem, however, during the last Summer, (1836,) the identical ring was found by a little girl in a ploughed field near Wellington Square, while the venerable Indian queen was on a visit to her daughter, the accomplished lady of Colonel Kerr. The aged widow of the old chief was overjoyed at once more possessing the memento, after it had been lost six and twenty years.

What were the particular arguments addressed to the Mohawk in the British capital, or by what process he became impressed with the idea that the arms of the King would, in the end, be victorious in the Colonies, is not known. It is certain, however, that whatever doubts he might have entertained, were most effectually dispelled; since, on taking leave, it was understood that he pledged himself heartily to embrace the Royal cause, and promised to take the field with three thousand warriors of his race. [FN]


[FN] It appears that Colonel Guy Johnson must have visited England at the same time, or nearly the same time, with Brant. Perhaps they went together, although Johnson did not return so soon. General Washington announced his arrival at Staten Island, from England, on the 6th of August, 1776, in a letter written to the President of Congress on the 8th. In Dunlap's History of the American Stage, Guy Johnson's name is given, in 1778, as one of the managers of the old Theatre Royal, John-street. The players were all amateurs, officers of the British army; and the avails of their performances were appropriated for benevolent purposes. The unfortunate Major Andre was one of the actors and the scene painter. A drop-curtain, painted by him, was used many years after his death.

It is no more than justice, however, to allow Captain Brant to speak for himself, in regard to the principle by which he was governed in his decision. In a letter written by him to Sir Evan Nepean, the Under Secretary of State, when in England after the peace of 1783, he said:—"When I joined the English in the beginning of the war, it was purely on account of my forefathers' engagements with the King. I always looked upon these engagements, or covenants between the King and the Indian nations, as a sacred thing; therefore I was not to be frightened by the threats of the rebels at that time; I assure you I had no other view in it, and this was my real case from the beginning."

By "threats" in this letter to the Under Secretary, Brant probably meant no more than the efforts made by the Americans to prevent his joining the Royal standard, and to preserve the neutrality of the Indians. In connexion with these efforts, there is a scrap of unwritten history, which, whether true or not, is characteristic of the shrewdness and dry sarcastic humor of the chief. It is related, that during the early part of the year 1775, while it was yet considered doubtful which side the Mohawks would espouse, and when it was of course very desirable to ascertain the views of Brant upon the subject, President Wheelock was applied to as a medium of communication with his former pupil. The Doctor, according to the tradition, wrote him a long epistle upon the aspect of the times, and urged upon Brant those considerations which appeared most likely to win him over, or rather to secure his neutrality, if not his friendship, to the Colonists. Brant replied very ingeniously. Among other things, he referred to his former residence with the Doctor—recalled the happy hours he had passed under his roof—and referred especially to his prayers and the family devotions, to which he had listened. He said he could never forget those prayers; and one passage, in particular, was so often repeated, that it could never be effaced from his mind. It was, among other of his good preceptor's petitions, "that they might be able to live as good subjects—to fear God, and honor the King."

If doubt had existed among the Colonists before, as to the direction of the channel in which ran his inclinations, there was surely none after the perusal of this letter. But scenes of a more stirring character now demand the attention.

Toward the close of the memorable Canadian campaign,—so brilliantly commenced, so successfully prosecuted for many months, and yet so disastrously terminated,—while the shattered remains of the American forces were retiring before the troops of Sir Guy Carleton, the former experienced a sad disaster at "the Cedars," a point of land extending far into the St. Lawrence, about forty miles above Montreal, which was occupied by Colonel Bedell with three hundred and ninety Provincial troops and two field-pieces. General Carleton directed a descent upon this post from the British station at Oswegatchie, under the command of Captain Forster, at the head of one company of regular troops and a body of Indians numbering nearly six hundred. The latter were led by Thayendanegea. On the appearance of the enemy before the American works, Colonel Bedell repaired immediately to Montreal for assistance, leaving the Cedars in charge of Major Butterfield. Colonel (afterward General) Arnold, who was then in command of Montreal—not yet evacuated by the Americans—forthwith detached Major Sherburne with one hundred men, to proceed to the Cedars, and prepared to follow himself with a much larger force. Meantime, however, Major Butterfield, who, it was believed, might have easily defended the position, was intimidated by a threat from the enemy, that, should the siege continue and any of the Indians be slain, in the event of an eventual surrender it would be impossible for the British commander to prevent a general massacre, and consented to a capitulation, by which the whole garrison became prisoners of war. Major Sherburne approached on the day following, without having received any information of the change of circumstances until within four miles of the post, where, on the 20th of May, he was attacked by the Indians, and after a sharp conflict compelled to surrender at discretion. No sooner had Arnold received information of these events, than he marched against the foe, then at Vaudreuil, at the head of seven hundred men, with a view of chastising the enemy and recovering the prisoners. "When preparing for an engagement, he received a flag accompanied by Major Sherburne, giving him the most positive assurances that if he persisted in his design, it would be entirely out of the power of Captain Forster to prevent his savages from pursuing their horrid customs, and disencumbering themselves of their prisoners by putting every man to death. This massacre was already threatened, and Major Sherburne confirmed the information. Under the influence of this threat, Arnold desisted from his purpose, and consented to a cartel, by which the prisoners were delivered up to him; he agreeing, among other things, not only to deliver as many British soldiers in exchange for them, but also that they should immediately return to their homes." [FN]


[FN] Marshall's Life of Washington.

This disaster, or, perhaps, more correctly speaking, the conduct of the officers to whose cowardice it was imputed, was a source of deep mortification to General Washington, and he gave utterance to his vexation in several letters written soon afterward. Nor was Butterfield alone blamed—Colonel Bedell being placed in the same category of condemnation. [FN] The Commander-in-Chief was likewise incensed at the conduct of Captain Forster, in resorting to deceptive and very unjustifiable means, to procure hostages for ratifying a treaty of exchange.


[FN] "If the accounts of Colonel Bedell's and Major Butterfield's conduct be true, they have certainly acted a part deserving the most exemplary notice. I hope you will take proper measures, and have good courts appointed to bring them, and every other officer, that has been, or shall be, guilty of misconduct, to trial; that they may be punished according to their offences. Our misfortunes at the Cedars were occasioned, as it is said, entirely by their base and cowardly behavior, and cannot be ascribed to any other cause."—Letter of Washington to General Schuyler, June 10, 1776.

The name of Captain Brant is not mentioned in any of the books, in connexion with these transactions at the Cedars. There is positive evidence, however, that he was not only there, but that he exerted himself efficiently after the surrender of Major Sherburne, to control the Indians and prevent the massacre of the prisoners. Among these latter, was Captain John McKinstry, [FN-1] who commanded a company on that occasion. From his account of the battle, Major Sherburne fell into an ambuscade, and the fighting was severe. Captain McKinstry's command was engaged sharply with a body of Indians, before whom his troops were several times compelled to retire. Rallying, however, with spirit, the Indians were repeatedly driven back in turn; and the respective parties were thus successively driven by each other, back and forth, according to the doubtful and varying fortunes of the hour, until the Americans were overpowered by numbers, and compelled to surrender; Captain McKinstry, being wounded, fell by the side of a tree, and was there taken. He subsequently ascertained that he had been marked as a victim by the Indians, who had actually made the usual preparations for putting him to death by the torture of fire; and that he was rescued by the personal exertions of Captain Brant, who, in connexion with some humane English officers, made up a purse, and purchased an ox, which the Indians roasted for their carousal instead of the gallant prisoner. Captain McKinstry was treated with kindness while a prisoner, and contracted an intimacy with Brant which continued until the chieftain's death. Brant never visited the Hudson, after the Revolution, without spending a few days with Colonel McKinstry at the Manor; [FN-2] and at the time of his last visit, about the year 1805, in company with his friend, who, like himself, was a member of the brotherhood, he attended the Freemason's Lodge in the city of Hudson, where his presence attracted great attention.


[FN-1] Late Colonel McKinstry, of Livingston's Manor.

[FN-2] Letter to the author, from George McKinstry, Esq. of Claverack.

But to return. The conduct of Major Butterfield at the Cedars was likewise severely denounced in Congress, and his capitulation pronounced by resolution "a shameful surrender." Due credit was at the same time awarded to Major Sherburne, for the bravery displayed by himself and his troops, who only "surrendered at last on absolute necessity." Notwithstanding, moreover, the interposition of Captain Brant to prevent a massacre, and the rescue of Captain McKinstry, such outrages were reported to Congress as to call forth a series of indignant resolutions upon the subject. In the preamble to these resolutions, it was stated that, immediately after the surrender, the prisoners were delivered over to the Indians; their baggage plundered, their clothes taken from them, and several of their number killed; and one of them, who had only been wounded, roasted alive. From the circumstance that Captain McKinstry had been wounded, and designated for the torture, though rescued, as we have already seen, by Captain Brant, it is quite probable that Congress was misinformed as to the actual consummation of such a purpose in the person of any prisoner. Assuming the fact, however, the enemy's conduct was denounced in the strongest terms—Congress asserting the right of demanding indemnification for the wrongs inflicted upon the prisoners in their persons and property; and in regard to the murder of prisoners by the Indians, requiring that the authors of those murders be delivered into their hands for condign punishment, as a condition precedent to an exchange of prisoners. In regard to the torturing of prisoners, a resolution was also adopted, denouncing, "as the sole means of stopping the progress of human butchery," a retaliation of punishment, of the same kind and degree, to be inflicted upon a like number of prisoners of the enemy, in every case of outrage thereafter to occur.

These resolutions were, in effect, a refusal to confirm the treaty for the exchange of prisoners entered into by General Arnold, and were so considered by the commanding officers in Canada. The consequence was, the indulgence of much crimination and recrimination, on the part both of the American and British commanders. Indeed, complaints of the cruel treatment of the prisoners falling into their hands had been preferred against the enemy several months before, particularly in the case of Colonel Ethan Allen and his fellow-captives. Allen had been captured by General Prescott, by whom, in addition to other indignities, he had been heavily ironed, and sent like a common felon to England, Prescott was afterward taken by the Americans and treated with considerable rigor, in retaliation for the ill-usage of Allen. This produced a remonstrance from General Howe, who, on being reminded of the case of Allen, disclaimed any responsibility in regard to that transaction, inasmuch as it was an occurrence in a district beyond the boundaries of his particular command. The affair of the Cedars excited the strongest feelings of indignation, not only in Congress and among the people, but in the army. "The inhuman treatment of the whole, and murder of part, of our people, was certainly a flagrant violation of that faith, which ought to beheld sacred by all civilized nations, and was founded in the most savage barbarity." [FN-1] Soon afterward the account was in part balanced, by a diabolical outrage committed by an American scouting party in the neighborhood of St. John's. It was the deliberate assassination, by the lieutenant at the head of the party, of Brigadier-General Gordon of the British army. General Gordon was riding alone, and in full uniform, from Laprairie to St. John's. The lieutenant and his party were in ambush within the British lines, and as the General passed, the former wantonly and barbarously shot him through the body. Although the wound was mortal, the General rode on, and speedily reached St. John's, where he expired. [FN-2] This painful incident aroused as warm a burst of indignation among the British officers, as the affair of the Cedars had done among the Americans. General Carleton availed himself of the occurrence to issue a violent, though artful proclamation, which was pronounced by Washington, in a letter to the President of Congress, to be "highly unbecoming the character of a soldier and gentleman." Although the prisoners were not exchanged, under the arrangement made with Arnold, yet Carleton set the American captives at liberty, on condition of their returning to their own homes, there to remain as prisoners. Each of the prisoners was furnished with a copy of his insidious proclamation.


[FN-1] Letter of Washington to the President of Congress, July 15, 1776.

[FN-2] Note in vol. iv. of Sparks's Life and Correspondence of Washington.

It was not supposed that any considerable numbers of the Indians of the Six Nations participated in the battle of the Cedars, other than the Mohawks and their kindred tribe, the Caughnawagas, or the Seven Nations of Canada, as they chose to call themselves. Indeed, the Six Nations were at that stage of the contest far from being unanimous in opposition to the Colonies; and at the very time of these occurrences, a deputation from four of the nations was at Philadelphia, on a peaceable mission to Congress. The arrival of this deputation was announced to that assembly on the 24th of May. On the 11th of June they were presented to the House, preparatory to their departure, and addressed by the President as follows:—

"Brothers: We hope the friendship that is between you and us will be firm, and continue as long as the sun shall shine and the waters run, that we and you may be as one people, and have but one heart, and be kind to one another as brethren.

"Brothers: The King of Great Britain, hearkening to the evil counsel of some of his foolish young men, is angry with us, because we will not let him take away from us our land, and all that we have, and give it to them; and because we will not do every thing that he bids us; and hath hindered his people from bringing goods to us, but we have made provision for getting such a quantity of them, that we hope we shall be able to supply your wants as formerly.

"Brothers: We shall order all our warriors and young men not to hurt you or any of your kindred; and we hope you will not suffer any of your young men to join with our enemies, or to do any wrong to us, that nothing may happen to make any quarrel between us.

"Brothers: We desire you to accept a few necessaries, which we present you with, as tokens of our good-will toward you."

The presents having been delivered, the Indian deputies expressed a desire to give a name to the President of Congress. Permission for that purpose having been granted, a chief of the Onondagas arose, and saluted the President by the name of Ka-ran-dua-an, or the Great Tree; by which name John Hancock was afterward known among the Six Nations.

Although it would appear upon the surface of these resolutions, that Congress was yet persevering in the humane policy of keeping the Indians in a state of neutrality, yet candor and truth require a different record. Much as sound moralists had condemned the employment of this species of force in civilized warfare, and strongly as Congress had exerted its influence the preceding year to prevent the Indians from taking the field in behalf of either of the combatants, that policy was abandoned. On the 25th of May, 1776, the Congress resolved "that it was highly expedient to engage the Indians in the service of the United Colonies;" and they empowered the Commander-in-Chief to employ, in Canada and elsewhere, a number not exceeding two thousand, offering them "a reward of one hundred dollars for every commissioned officer, and thirty dollars for every private soldier of the King's troops, that they should take prisoner in the Indian country, or on the frontiers of these Colonies." The Congress also authorized General Washington to employ the Indians of Penobscot, St. John's, and Nova Scotia, who had proffered their services, and were to receive the same pay as the Continental soldiers. [FN]


[FN] Sparks's Life and Cor. of Washington, vol. iv, Appendix. [Mr. Sparks seems to have fallen into an error as to the immediate motive of Congress in changing its Indian policy at this time. He leaves his readers to infer, that the measure was one of retaliation for the conduct of the British and Indians at the Cedars. But such could not have been the fact. The battle of the Cedars was fought on the 20th of May, and these resolutions were passed on the 25th—before the news, in those days, could possibly have reached Philadelphia.]

Whether any of those Eastern Indians were ever actually engaged in the American service, is not known. In regard to the employment of the Northern Indians, Washington forthwith entered into a correspondence with General Schuyler upon the subject, and pressed him to carry the resolutions into effect. The latter, however, was averse to the measure—as much so as at the first. He disliked to employ such a force under any circumstances, contending that they were too fickle and uncertain to allow any well-founded reliance to be placed upon them at the moment of emergency. At that particular conjuncture, especially when our troops, broken and dispersed, were flying like fugitives from Canada, he thought the chances of obtaining Indian auxiliaries exceedingly slender; and as to the number prescribed, (two thousand,) the General intimated in one of his letters to the Commander-in-Chief, that it would have been well if Congress had condescended to inform him where so many Indian warriors, not already in the service of the enemy, were to be found. In short, General Schuyler's opinion was correct from the beginning, that the Colonies could expect no essential aid from the Indians; and whatever aid they might receive, would be sure to cost more than it would come to. So the event proved. But, although the British profited most by the employment of the Indians, they are not alone to blame for using them. So far, certainly, as principle and intention are concerned, the Americans are equitably entitled to a due share of the censure. [FN]


[FN] Sparks.

In recurring to coincident events transpiring in other parts of the country, it must be remarked, that the Commander-in-Chief was often placed in circumstances not the most promising. On his first arrival at the camp before Boston, the preceding year, he had found only "the materials for a good army"—not the organized army itself. The troops were mostly undisciplined; and having taken arms to fight for liberty, it was no easy matter to bring them into those habits of subordination, which necessarily render a soldier a mere machine to be moved at the will of his commander. The first object of General Washington, therefore, was to bring the troops into a state of discipline. But another difficulty presented itself in the fact, that, owing to the short periods of enlistment, the times of service of the greater portion of the army were to expire in November and December. To which was added the embarrassing discovery, that all the powder at his command was barely sufficient to supply nine rounds of cartridges per man. There was, moreover, a general want of camp equipage and clothing, and indeed of every thing necessary alike to the comfort and the efficiency of an army. But Heaven, in its mercy, seemed to have devolved the command upon the man of all others best calculated to meet the emergency and overcome it. His destitution of ammunition was artfully and effectually concealed from the enemy; and although, on the discharge of those of his troops who would not re-enlist, at the close of December, (1775,) he had no more than 9650 men left, he yet contrived to sustain himself and keep the enemy beleaguered in Boston during the whole winter. "It is not in the pages of history, perhaps," he wrote to Congress, "to furnish a case like ours. To maintain a post within musket shot of the enemy for six months together, without amunition, and at the same time to disband one army and recruit another, within that distance of twenty odd British regiments, is more, probably, than was ever attempted." [FN]


[FN] Holmes's Annals.

The Continental Congress had been induced by the influence of the Commander-in-chief to resolve upon the raising of an army of 75,000 men, to be enlisted for the term of three years, or during the war. It was not until January, however, that they could be induced to offer bounties for enlistments; and even then the ranks were not rapidly filled. At the close of February, the whole effective force of the Americans was no more than 14,000 men, exclusive of 6000 of the Massachusetts militia. An assault upon Boston had been meditated in February by General Washington; but the opinion of his principal officers, as expressed in a council of war, being strongly against such a movement, the enterprize was reluctantly abandoned. Wearied by inaction, the next project of the American commander was to take possession of Dorchester Heights—a position commanding the town of Boston, the occupation of which would compel General Howe either to attempt its dispossession by the Americans, or to evacuate the town. The enterprize was so well planned, as to be executed by General Thomas with complete and brilliant success, on the night of the 4th of March. Having diverted the attention of the enemy by a bombardment of his lines in another direction, the movement was unperceived. The weather being mild, the American troops were enabled to labor with energy in throwing up defences, which, on the following morning, struck the General of the British army with astonishment, from their sudden appearance and their magnitude. A heavy atmosphere contributed to magnify the height of the works, and increase the wonder of the foe. Sir William Howe made immediate preparations to drive the Americans from their new, and, to him, dangerous position; for which purpose two thousand choice troops were embarked to cross over the same evening; but a severe tempest frustrated his design. On the following morning General Howe convened a council of war, at which it was resolved to evacuate the town as soon as possible. This determination was carried into execution on the 17th, by the embarkation of the whole British army, and the sailing of the fleet—first to Halifax—but ultimately, as the event proved, for New-York. On the same day General Washington entered Boston in triumph, and was hailed by the universal acclaim of the people as their deliverer. Thus was the town which first raised the standard of rebellion, the first to rejoice at the final retreat of its oppressors. Nor was it the fortune of the invaders ever to set foot there again.

In the North, the operations of the Provincial army had been far less propitious. The conquest of Canada was a favorite project with Congress, and every possible effort within the slender means of the Colonies was made to that end. But the fall of Montgomery had thrown a gloom over the enterprise which was never dissipated. Colonel, now General Arnold, had maintained himself before Quebec during the winter, and until late in the spring, with but a handful of men—numbering, at one time, not more than five hundred effectives. But the reinforcements were slow in arriving; the Canadians, from a variety of causes—the principal of which, beyond doubt, was bad treatment from an undisciplined soldiery—became less friendly to the Americans than at first, notwithstanding the mission of Messrs. Franklin, Chase, and Carroll, accompanied by a Catholic priest, to conciliate them; and on the arrival of General Wooster at his quarters, about the 1st of April, Arnold obtained leave of absence, and took the command at Montreal. General Thomas, who had been assigned to the command of the army in Canada, after the exploit of Gloucester Heights, arrived before Quebec on the 1st of May, where he found an army of nineteen hundred men, less than one thousand of whom were effective, and three hundred of these, being entitled to their discharge, refused to perform duty. They had but one hundred and fifty barrels of powder, and six days' provisions. Well knowing that with the opening of the navigation. Sir Guy Carleton's expected reinforcements would arrive, the circumstances in which he was placed were altogether so unpromising, that General Thomas, with the concurrence of a council of war, determined to raise the siege on the 5th of May, and assume a more eligible position farther up the river. It was the intention of the American commander to remove the sick to Three Rivers; but on the 6th, before the arrangements for retreating were all concerted, a British fleet, with reinforcements, arrived. General Carleton immediately made a sortie at the head of one thousand men; to oppose whom, General Thomas had not more than three hundred available troops. No other course remained, therefore, but a precipitate retreat for all who could get away—leaving the sick and the military stores to the enemy. General Thomas led his little band back to the mouth of the Sorel, where he was seized with the small-pox, and died. Large reinforcements joined the fugitive army at that place, under General Sullivan. Before General Carleton moved from Quebec, an expedition was undertaken from Sorel to the Three Rivers, against General Frasier, under the direction of General Thompson and Colonel St. Clair. It was unsuccessful; from which time disaster followed disaster, until, owing to the combined causes of defeat, sickness, and insubordination, the Americans found themselves, on the 18th of June, driven entirely out of Canada; the British army following so closely upon their heels, as immediately to occupy the different posts as they were successively evacuated.

The Americans, however, still retained the control of Lake Champlain, and occupied the fortifications upon its shores, the command of which had now been assigned by Congress to General Gates, with great and manifest injustice toward General Schuyler, [FN-1] Gates at first established his head-quarters at Crown Point, but soon afterward withdrew his forces from that post, and fell back upon Ticonderoga. This step was taken by the advice and concurrence of a board of general officers, but contrary to the wishes of the field officers. The Commander-in-chief was exceedingly dissatisfied with this movement of Gates, believing that the relinquishment of that post, in its consequences, would be equivalent to an abandonment of Lakes George and Champlain, and all the advantages to be derived therefrom. [FN-2] In reply to the concern that had been expressed by Washington on the occasion. General Gates contended that Crown Point was untenable with the forces then under his command, nor could it be successfully defended even with the aid of the expected reinforcements. These reinforcements, moreover, the General added, could not be allowed to approach nearer to Crown Point than Skenesborough, since "it would be only heaping one hospital upon another." [FN-3] The annals of disastrous war scarce present a more deplorable picture than that exhibited by the Americans escaping from Canada. In addition to the small pox, the army had been afflicted by other diseases, generated by exposure, destitution, and laxity of discipline. Fleets of boats came up the lake, freighted with the sick and dying; and even those reported from day to day fit for duty, presented but the appearance of a haggard skeleton of an army. "Every thing about this army," said General Gates in the letter already cited, "is infected with the pestilence; the clothes, the blankets, the air, and the ground they walk upon. To put this evil from us, a general hospital is established at Fort George, [FN-4] where there are now between two and three thousand sick, and where every infected person is immediately sent. But this care and caution have not effectually destroyed the disease here; it is, notwithstanding, continually breaking out." [FN-5]


[FN-1] The appointment of Gates to the command of this department, was from the first unacceptable to the officers of New-York, nor was his own course very conciliatory toward them. In the course of the present Summer, it was reported to Lieutenant-Colonel Gansevoort, a brave and deservedly popular officer, belonging to the regiment of Colonel Van Schaick, and then in command of Fort George at the head of the lake of that name, that the General had spoken disrespectfully of that regiment, and also of the regiments of Colonels Wynkoop and Fisher. His letters to Col. Gansevoort were unnecessarily harsh and pragmatical, so much so as justly to give offence. Irritated by such treatment, Gansevoort wrote a spirited letter to Gates, referring to several matters in which he had been aggrieved by the letters and conversation of that officer. He requested a Court of Inquiry, and avowed his determination, with the leave of Gen. Schuyler, to relinquish the command of the post.—MS. letters of Gates and Col. Gansevoort in the author's possession.

[FN-2] Letter of Washington to Gen. Gates, July 19, 1776.

[FN-3] Letter of Gen. Gates to Washington in reply, July 28. The small pox, which had been so fatal to the troops in Canada, had now broken out at Crown Point and Ticonderoga—the pestilence having been purposely introduced by a villain calling himself Doctor Barker. This fact is stated in a letter from the Adjutant-General of the Northern Department to Colonel Gansevoort, dated from Ticonderoga, July 24. "The villain," says the letter, "by private inoculations in the army, has caused, in a great degree, the misery to which we are reduced by that infectious disorder." Barker was arrested, and sent to Albany.—MS. letter of Colonel Trumbull to Col. Gansevoort.

[FN-4] At the head of Lake George.

[FN-5] Sparks.

Such was the deplorable condition in which an army, so recently victorious, had been driven back from what was in fact a conquered country, lost entirely through mismanagement, and the want of an army upon the basis of permanent enlistment. Added to which, was another difficulty lying beneath the surface. Many prisoners had fallen into the hands of the enemy at Quebec and during the subsequent retreat. Toward all these, the conduct of Sir Guy Carleton had been most politic. They had been treated with the greatest care and humanity, and so much of the subtle poison of flattery, mingled with kindness, had been poured into their ears, that their return on parole, which was presently allowed by the British commander, was regarded with apprehension. [FN-1] On one occasion, a large number of prisoners arriving at Crown Point from St. John's, in a vessel provided by Sir Guy Carleton, were visited, before landing, by Colonel John Trumbull, the Adjutant-General for the Northern Department. From the feelings they manifested, and the tenor of their conversation, Colonel Trumbull saw at once that it would not be prudent to allow them to land, or hold the least intercourse with the suffering troops of the garrison. He immediately reported the fact to the General, and advised that the said prisoners should be sent directly forward to Skenesborough, and despatched to their respective homes, without allowing them to mingle with the troops at that place. The suggestion was adopted. [FN-2]


[FN-1] "Although General Carleton had acquiesced in the harsh treatment of Ethan Allen, yet the prisoners who fell into his hands met with usage in every respect as good as that of the British soldiers, except in the necessary restraints of confinement. This was declared in a letter to Washington from Major Meigs, when he returned on his parole the Summer following. The soldiers were confined in the Jesuits' College, and the officers in the Seminary. The latter, after the siege was raised, had permission to walk in a large garden adjoining their quarters. Major Meigs left three hundred prisoners in Quebec about the middle of May. When they were released for exchange, General Carleton supplied them with articles of clothing, in which they were deficient. It was said, that when some of his officers spoke to him of this act, as an unusual degree of lenity toward prisoners of war, he replied,—'Since we have tried in vain to make them acknowledge us as brothers, let us at least send them away disposed to regard us as first cousins.' Having been informed that many persons suffering from wounds and various disorders were concealed in the woods and obscure places, fearing that if they appeared openly they would be seized as prisoners and severely treated; he issued a proclamation commanding the militia officers to search for such persons, bring them to the general hospital, and procure for them all necessary relief at the public charge. He also invited all such persons to come forward voluntarily, and receive the assistance they needed; assuring them, 'that as soon as their health should be restored, they should have free liberty to return to their respective provinces.'"—Sparks,

[FN-2] Conversations of the author with the venerable Colonel Trumbull, while these pages were under revision.

Nor were the difficulties enumerated, all which the officers had to encounter. The spirit of disaffection was far more extensive than those who are left to contemplate the scenes through which their fathers passed, and the discouragements against which they were compelled to struggle, have been wont to suppose. The burden of many of General Schuyler's letters, and also the letters of other officers, during the whole of this season, was the frequency of desertions to the ranks of the enemy.

Glancing for a moment at the situation of affairs at the south, the gloom of the picture is somewhat relieved. The expedition of General Clinton and Sir Peter Parker, for the reduction of Charleston, had signally failed. The defence of the fort bearing his own name, by Colonel Moultrie, was one of the most gallant exploits of the whole contest, and served to lighten the despondency that had been produced by the disasters we have been sketching at the north. It was at this place that the celebrated Sergeant Jasper signalized himself, when the flag-staff was shot away, by leaping from the parapet of the fort upon the beach, seizing the flag, and, amid the incessant firing of the fleet, mounting, and again placing it on the rampart. [FN]


[FN] Garden's Anecdotes of the American Revolution.

But the grand event of the year, the transactions of which are now under review, was the Declaration of Independence, a motion for which was submitted in Congress by Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, on the 7th of June, and the Declaration itself solemnly adopted on the 4th of July. This measure at once cut off all hope of reconciliation with the parent country, and all prospect of a termination of the war, unless by the complete triumph in arms of one party or the other. Such a declaration was an event not originally anticipated, even if desired, by the mass of the people; although it had unquestionably, and from the first, entered into the calculations of the daring master spirits of the movement in Boston. It had furthermore been greatly accelerated by the conduct of the British government itself, during the preceding session of Parliament, by act of which the Americans had been declared out of the Royal protection; so widely mistaken had been the Congress of the preceding year, which had adjourned with strong hopes that the differences between the two countries would soon be adjusted to their mutual satisfaction. [FN] At the same time the parent government was putting forth its utmost energies to crush the Colonies at a blow. For this purpose, 25,000 British troops were to be employed, in addition to 17,000 German mercenaries purchased from the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, the Duke of Brunswick, and the Count of Hanaa. These troops, together with the Canadian recruits, the American loyalists, and the Indians, it was intended should constitute an invading force of 55,000 men. With such preparations in prospect against them, it was no time for inactivity on the part of the Colonists; and having by the Declaration thrown away the scabbard of the sword that had been drawn fifteen months before, there was no alternative but resistance to the end.


[FN] Marshall's Life of Washington, Vol. i, Chap. iv.

Recurring, for a brief space, to the history proper of the Mohawk Valley, it may be assumed, in behalf of its patriotic population, that the new attitude of the country was neither unexpected nor unwelcome. On the contrary, having been among the earliest to propose a separation, the great act of the 4th of July was nowhere more cordially received than by the Whigs of Tryon County. Nor did they falter in their purposes of sustaining the cause in which the country had embarked, amid all the disasters of the early part of the season or those that followed. In their own section of country, however, the flight of Sir John Johnson and his retainers was the only important incident occurring during that memorable year. Still, there was no relaxation of vigilance, or of preparation for the worst, should the storm of war, so long muttering in the distance, actually break upon those settlements. The frontiers were at all times liable to the sudden irruptions of savages, and it was necessary to keep scouting parties continually upon the alert. Cherry Valley being the principal settlement south of the Mohawk, and lying directly in the line of communication between the Mohawk Castles and the Indian post at Oghkwaga, [FN-1] was particularly exposed. Early in the present Summer, therefore, a company of rangers was organized under the command of Captain Robert McKean. The public service requiring the Captain and his little corps elsewhere, the inhabitants strongly remonstrated with the Committee of Safety against the removal of that corps, but without effect. They next addressed themselves to the Provincial Congress of New-York, and by a forcible and eloquent appeal, obtained another company of rangers to be stationed among them under the command of Captain Winn. [FN-2] These papers were written with ability, and with the energy of men in earnest. They had even then received, through their missionaries, intimations that Sir John Johnson and Colonel John Butler were instigating the Indians to make a descent upon them; and already were the scattered settlers in other and newer locations coming in to Cherry Valley for protection. Apprehending, also, sudden irruptions of scalping parties, the aged, and such as from other causes were exempt from military service, now organized themselves into a company for the protection of the settlement.


[FN-1] As with most other Indian names, there is difficulty respecting the correct orthography of this place. It is spelt Oquaga, Oghquaga, and sometimes Oneaquaga. Brant and John Norton, however, were wont to spell it Oghkwaga. I have adopted the latter method, as supported by the best authorities.—Author.

[FN-2] The names of the Cherry Valley Committee who took the lead in these matters, were, John Moore, Samuel Clyde, Samuel Campbell, Samuel Dunlop, James Scott, Robert Wells, James Richey, and James Moore.

In the course of the season General Schuyler was directed by Congress to cause Fort Stanwix to be strengthened, and other fortifications to be erected at proper places along the Mohawk river. Colonels Van Schaick and Dayton had previously been stationed in Tryon County with detachments of regular troops—the former at Johnstown and the latter at German Flats. Upon Colonel Dayton was imposed the duty of carrying forward the works at Fort Stanwix, for which purpose the Tryon County militia were ordered to his assistance. The site of that military defence had early been improved, as one of the most important inland posts of the Colonies. It was originally built early in 1758, during the French war of 1755—61, by General Stanwix, for the purpose of commanding the carrying-place between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek, leading into the Oneida Lake, and thence into Lake Ontario, by the Oswego river. [FN-1] There were several other fortifications at different points of the narrow strip of land between the two streams already mentioned, such as Fort Bull and Fort Newport; the former commanding the Creek, about three miles distant. These were strong redoubts; but Fort Stanwix was comparatively a formidable work, having its bomb-proofs, its sallyport, and a covered way to the spring brook. Altogether these works formed an ample defence of the key from Upper Canada to the Mohawk Valley, and were likewise of signal service for the protection they afforded to the Indian trade. But, although the principal fortress had been erected at the great expense—enormous in those times—of 266,400 dollars, yet the commencement of the war of the Revolution found the whole in ruins. Colonel Dayton appears to have made but little progress in re-building the fort, since it will be found that other officers had the works in charge early in the following year, and they were far from complete when subsequently invested by the motley forces of General St. Leger. Colonel Dayton, however, thought proper to change its name in honor of the General commanding the Northern department, and it was subsequently known as Fort Schuyler during the residue of the war. [FN-2]


[FN-1] The reconstruction of this work was early pointed out, and strongly urged upon General Schuyler, by Washington.

[FN-2] There was another Fort Schuyler, built on the present site of Utica during the old French war, and named thus in honor of Colonel Schuyler, an uncle of General Philip Schuyler of the Revolution. The two are often confounded in history, and the change in the name of Fort Stanwix was alike unnecessary and unwise.

A rapid glance at the other warlike events of the season will close the history of the year. Anticipating, on the evacuation of Boston by General Howe, that his next point of attack would be New-York, General Lee was detached by the Commander-in-chief with a portion of the army, to put Long Island and the harbor of New-York in a posture of defence. Washington followed soon afterward himself, and established his head-quarters in the city. Having been joined by his brother, Lord Howe, as commander of the fleet at Halifax, General, afterward Sir William Howe, with his reinforcements, arrived off Sandy Hook—the latter on the 25th of June and the former on the 12th of July. General Clinton arriving at about the same time from the unsuccessful enterprise against Charleston, with Admiral Hotham, the combined forces of the enemy now amounted to about 24,000 men, including the Hessians.

Lord and Sir William Howe were clothed with powers, as Commissioners, to treat with the Colonies for a reconciliation. Their pacific errand was proclaimed before hostilities were recommenced, and promises of pardon were proffered to all who would avail themselves of the Royal clemency, and return to their allegiance and duty. Their proposals, however, were considered too exceptionable, both in matter and form, to receive the least attention.

On the 22d of August the British army was landed upon Long Island, at Gravesend. The American army at this time consisting of 15,000 men, under General Sullivan, was encamped in the neighborhood of Brooklyn. The battle of Long Island, which was severely, though ineffectually, contested by the American forces under Sullivan and Lord Stirling, was fought on the 27th of August. In this action, the loss of the enemy was differently reported at from 300 to 450. The loss of the Americans was far more considerable. General Washington admitted it to be 1000, but is believed only to have referred to the loss of the regular troops. General Howe claimed 1097 prisoners, among whom were Generals Sullivan, Stirling, and Woodhull. On the 30th, the Americans effected a masterly retreat across the East river to New-York. [FN-1] The enemy made immediate dispositions for attacking New-York; and so prompt and skillful were his movements, that, in a council of general officers, an evacuation forthwith was deemed the only means of saving the army. The British fleet was divided into two squadrons, one of which entered the East and the other the North river. Under cover of the former, Sir Henry Clinton crossed from Long Island, and landed at Kipp's Bay, with such celerity that the Americans fled in disorder. Indeed, the evacuation resembled rather a flight than a retreat; all the heavy artillery, military stores, baggage, and provisions, falling into the hands of the enemy. A large portion of the American forces, at that time, consisted of militia, the conduct of which was scandalous beyond endurance. They deserted, not only in small numbers, but in companies and squadrons, whenever they could; and their conduct in the face of the enemy, or rather when running from the faces of the enemy, was most cowardly. So disorderly was their demeanor, and so like poltroons did they behave when flying from Sir Henry Clinton, that even Washington himself lost his patience, and was excited to a degree of hot exasperation. In writing from Harlem Heights to a friend. General Greene said that two brigades of militia ran away from about fifty men, leaving the Commander-in-chief on the ground within eighty yards of the enemy, so vexed with the conduct of his troops, that he sought death rather than life. [FN-2] His attempts to stop them were fruitless. He drew his sword, and threatened to run them through, and cocked and snapped his pistols. [FN-3] But all his exertions were to no purpose. In a letter upon the subject of this infamous conduct of the militia, to the President of Congress, the Commander-in-chief declared that, were he called to give his opinion upon oath, he should say that the militia did more injury to the service than good.


[FN-1] During the operations upon Long Island and New-York, Captain Brant contrived to pass from Canada and join the King's forces. He was with Governor Tryon at Flatbush. The late Mr. John Watts, a brother-in-law of Sir John Johnson, used to speak of taking a walk with Gov. Tryon, Colonel Asgill, and Brant, through an orchard in that village. During their stroll, Brant plucked a crude crab-apple from a tree, which, on tasting it, he threw away—screwing his face, and exclaiming;—"It's as bitter as a Presbyterian!"

[FN-2] Sparks.

[FN-3] Gordon.

General Greene had strongly urged the destruction of the city by fire—a measure afterward so effectively adopted by Count Rostopchin, Governor of the ancient capital of Muscovy, to arrest the career of Napoleon—that the enemy might be deprived of the advantage of establishing their winter-quarters therein. His reasons for this measure were sound, and it ought, doubtless, to have been adopted. Washington was believed to be of the same opinion, especially as two thirds of the property which it was proposed to destroy, belonged to undisguised loyalists. But Congress would not allow the sacrifice; [FN-1] and, on the 15th of September, the city was in full possession of the enemy—General Washington having retired with the army to Kingsbridge. From the superiority in numbers and discipline of the British and German troops, the Americans were unable to meet them in the field, and the policy of evacuating and retreating was adopted. A succession of movements, manœuvres, and engagements, followed in Westchester, terminating, for the moment, in the drawn battle of White Plains on the 18th of October. [FN-2] Washington then divided his army, and crossed into New Jersey with a portion, leaving 7500 troops at North Castle, under General Lee. The next disaster to the American arms was the fall of Fort Washington, on the 16th of November, after a brave defence by Colonel Magaw, notwithstanding the refusal of a portion of his troops to man the lines. [FN-3] That fortress was attacked with great gallantry at four points, led by Generals Knyphausen, Matthews, Cornwallis, and Lord Percy. The regiment of Colonel Rawlings, on that occasion, behaved with great spirit; nor would Colonel Magaw have given up the post but for the conduct of the disaffected. [FN-4] After the fall of Fort Washington, Lord Cornwallis crossed into New Jersey with 6000 men, for the purpose of attacking Fort Lee, of which General Lee was then in command. But the means of this skillful officer were not adequate to the defence of the post against a force of such unequal strength; the people of New Jersey were at that time intent rather to make terms with the enemy, than to afford efficient assistance; [FN-5] and the garrison was saved by an evacuation. General Washington had taken post at Newark; but the fall of Forts Washington and Lee, together with the diminution of his own strength by the expiration of the term of service of his men, obliged him to retreat rapidly across New Jersey to the other side of the Delaware, followed so closely by Lord Cornwallis, that the van of the pursuers was often engaged with the rear of the pursued.


[FN-1] Washington's letter to the President of Congress, and also a letter from Gen. Greene.—Vide Sparks.

[FN-2] The Stockbridge Indians were engaged with the Americans in this battle. They fought bravely, and suffered severely.

[FN-3] Letter of Washington to his brother, John Augustine Washington, dated from Hackensack, Nov. 19, 1776.

[FN-4] Idem.

[FN-5] "The conduct of the Jerseys has been most infamous. Instead of turning out to defend their country and affording aid to our army, they are making their submissions as fast as they can. If the Jerseys had given us any support, we might have made a stand at Hackensack, and after that at Brunswick; but the few militia that were in arms disbanded themselves, and left the poor remains of an army to make the best we could of it."—Letter of Washington to his brother, John Augustine Washington, Nov. 18, 1776.

In addition to this succession of disasters, Sir Guy Carleton had appeared upon Lake Champlain with a flotilla, superior to that of the Americans under General Arnold, and which seemed to have been called into existence as if by enchantment. Two naval engagements followed, on the 11th and 13th of October, contested with undaunted bravery, [FN-1] but resulting in the defeat of Arnold, the annihilation of his flotilla, and the possession of the Lake and Crown Point by the foe. Early in December Rhode Island also fell into his hands. The forces of the Commander-in-chief at the same time numbered only from two to three thousand men; and scarcely a new recruit supplied the places of those whose terms of service were expiring. And even those recruits that were furnished, were so badly supplied with officers, as almost to extinguish the hope of forming an army from which any efficient services were to be expected. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Gen. Gates wrote to Col. Ten Eyck, from Ticonderoga, on the 13th of October—"The engagement began on the 11th, and continues to this day. The enemy's fleet is much superior to ours, and we maintain a running fight. All our officers behave with the greatest spirit."—MS. letter in the author's possession.

[FN-2] "The different States, without regard to the qualifications of an officer, quarreling about the appointments, and nominating such as are not fit to be shoe-blacks, from the local attachments of this or that member of Assembly."—Letter from Washington to his brother, 19th November, 1776.

Worse than all, a spirit of disaffection was rife in the States of New-York and New Jersey, which not only thwarted the purposes of the Commander-in-chief, but threatened the most lamentable consequences to the cause. Although there were many stanch Whigs in Albany and its vicinity, there were many vigilant loyalists in that region, who continued to keep in correspondence with the enemy during nearly the whole contest. In the Summer of this year. General Schuyler had detected a dangerous plot in the neighborhood of Albany, and apprehended some of the ringleaders. During the operations of the army in the Autumn, in New-York and its neighborhood, it was only with the utmost difficulty that large portions of the fluctuating army could be kept in the line of duty, while other large portions either went off in masses, or proved unfaithful while they remained. The conduct of the militia at Fort Washington, has been noted. General Greene wrote on the 5th of November, that the New-York militia, under Colonel Hawkes Hay, actually refused to do duty. They said General Howe had promised them peace, liberty, and safety; and that was all they wanted. [FN]


[FN] Sparks—Life and Cor. of Washington.

These are but a few of the discouragements under which the Commander-in-chief was laboring. To borrow his own expressive language in the private letter to his brother cited in a preceding note, "You can form no idea of the perplexity of my situation. No man, I believe, ever had a greater choice of difficulties, and less means to extricate himself from them." Nevertheless, the last sun of that year did not sink behind so deep a cloud of gloom as had been anticipated. In the north, General Carleton, who had occupied Crown Point after the defeat of Arnold's flotilla, had returned to Canada without attempting any thing farther; and before the close of the year the Commander-in-chief had the satisfaction to announce, that instead of imitating the bad example of others, the Continental regiments from the Eastern States had agreed to remain six weeks beyond the term of their enlistment. [FN-1] In addition to which were the bold return of Washington upon Trenton, and his brilliant victory over the Hessian forces at that place, on the morning of the 26th of December. "This well-judged and successful enterprise revived the depressed spirits of the Colonists, and produced an immediate and happy effect in recruiting the American army." [FN-2]


[FN-1] Letter from Washington to the commander at Morristown, Dec. 30.

[FN-2] Holmes's Annals.




CHAPTER VIII.


Continuation of movements in New Jersey—Extinguishment of the council-fire at Onondaga—Tryon County—Colonel Harper's mission to Oghkwaga—The Harper family—Adventure at the Johnstone settlement—Capture of Good Peter and his party—Thayendanegea crosses from Canada to Oghkwaga—Interview with the Rev. Mr. Johnstone—Doubtful course of Brant—Feverish situation of the people—Expedition of General Herkimer to Unadilla—Remarkable meeting between Herkimer and Brant—Meditated act of treachery—Wariness of the chief—Meeting abruptly terminated—Ended in a storm—Brant draws off to Oswego—Grand council there—The Indians generally join the Royal standard—Approach of Brant upon Cherry Valley—How defeated—Death of Lieutenant Wormwood.

Having secured his prisoners on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware, General Washington established himself at Trenton. But he was not long permitted its undisturbed possession. Collecting his forces, Cornwallis advanced rapidly upon the capital of New Jersey, where he arrived on the 2d of January. Some skirmishing ensued toward evening, but both armies encamped for the night without coming to a general engagement—being separated only by Assumpinck Creek—and apparently both expecting a battle in the morning. The force of the enemy, however, was too great to render it safe for the American Commander-in-chief to hazard an action. By an adroit and masterly movement, therefore, leaving his fires burning. General Washington succeeded in getting away unperceived, and throwing himself into the enemy's rear. The battle and victory of Princeton followed, and the American army moved to Morristown, while Cornwallis hastened back to New Brunswick and thence to New-York—the different detachments of British troops, which had been scattered through New Jersey, being at all points discomfited.

Returning from this digression to the Indian relations of New-York, there is one event to be noted, the character of which cannot be explained. Among the manuscripts preserved in the family of the hero of Oriskany, [FN-1] is a speech from the Oneida chiefs to Colonel Elmore, the officer who, at the commencement of the present year, was in the command of Fort Schuyler, announcing the final extinguishment of the great council-fire of the Six Nations at Onondaga. As the central nation of the confederacy, their general councils, time immemorial, had been holden at the Onondaga Castle, at which, in their own figurative language, their council-fire was ever kept burning. These councils assembled annually to discuss the exterior relations, and all matters of national concernment. They were composed of chiefs delegated from each member of the federative republic, and sometimes numbered as many as eighty sachems in the assembly. [FN-2] By what means the event had been accomplished—whether the calamity was the result of pestilence or war—the speech of the Oneidas does not inform us; although it announces the fall of a large number of the Onondaga warriors, in connexion with the catastrophe. Still, the transaction is veiled in darkness so thick as to baffle investigation. The following is the speech:—


[FN-1] Colonel, afterward General Herkimer.

[FN-2] "The national council took cognizance of war and peace, of the affairs of the tributary nations, and of their negotiations with the French and English Colonies. All their proceedings were conducted with great deliberation, and were distinguished for order, decorum, and solemnity. In eloquence, in dignity, and in all the characteristics of profound policy, they surpassed an assembly of feudal barons, and were perhaps not far inferior to the great Amphyctionic council of Greece."—De Wilt Clinton.

"Fort Schuyler, Jan. 19th, 1777.
Speech of the Oneida Chiefs to Col. Elmore.

"Brother: We are sent here by the Oneida chiefs, in conjunction with the Onondagas. They arrived at our village yesterday. They gave us the melancholy news that the grand council-fire at Onondaga was extinguished. We have lost out of their town by death ninety, among whom are three principal sachems. We, the remaining part of the Onondagas, do now inform our brethren that there is no longer a council-fire at the capital of the Six Nations. However, we are determined to use our feeble endeavors to support peace through the confederate nations. But let this be kept in mind, that the council-fire is extinguished. It is of importance to our well-being that this be immediately communicated to General Schuyler, and likewise to our brothers the Mohawks. In order to effect this, we deposit this belt with Tekeyanedonhotte, Colonel Elmore, commander at Fort Schuyler, who is sent here by General Schuyler to transact all matters relative to peace. We therefore request him to forward this intelligence in the first place to General Herkimer, desiring him to communicate it to the Mohawk Castle near to him, and then to Major Fonda, requesting him to immediately communicate it to the Lower Castle of Mohawks. Let the belt then be forwarded to General Schuyler, that he may know that our council-fire is extinguished, and can no longer burn." [FN]


[FN] Transcribed by the author from the original draught, as furnished to General Herkimer by Colonel Elmore.

This singular document is worthy of preservation, not only as the authentic, but as the only account of the occurrence recorded. It contains a mystery, however, which cannot now be solved. Still, as no belligerent events are known to have been enacted in the Onondaga country during that winter, the most plausible conjecture would attribute the mortality indicated by the speech to some pestilential disorder, which might have swept over them, as with the Schoharie Canton eighteen months before.

In the County of Tryon, which now demands our chief attention, great uneasiness was again awakened among the inhabitants, toward the close of the winter, especially in the remoter settlements south of the Mohawk, by the reported gathering of the Indians at Oghkwaga. The fact that their numbers were increasing at that point having been satisfactorily ascertained, Colonel John Harper, of Harpersfield, was despatched thither by the Provincial Congress of New-York to ascertain their intentions. Taking every necessary measure of precaution to guard against surprise, and to be ready for any emergency, by having the officers of his militia regiment on the qui vive, Colonel Harper departed upon his mission, accompanied only by a single white man and one Indian. He arrived on the 27th of February, and was well received by the Indians, who manifested a perfectly friendly disposition toward himself, and also toward the settlements. So far from exhibiting any belligerent intentions, they expressed their sorrow for the troubles of the country, and declared their determination to take no part in the controversy. Satisfied as to the sincerity of their professions, although subsequent events proved that they must have been dissembling, Colonel Harper supplied the means of a festival, and presented them with an ox, which was roasted for the occasion. [FN]


[FN] Annals of Tryon County.

Colonel John Harper was one of four brothers—William, John, Alexander, and Joseph Harper, who, with eighteen others, planted themselves down upon a tract of country, in 1768, which was subsequently named Harpersfield. After his return from this mission, he was for a time in command of one of the little forts in Schoharie. On one occasion, in March or April of this year, he took a circuit alone from Schoharie through the woods to Harpersfield, and thence, when returning, struck farther to the westward, toward the head waters of the Susquehanna. While ascending a hill, he suddenly saw a company of Indians approaching. As they had discovered him, any attempt to fly would have been vain. They would have shot him down. Having a great coat over his military dress, he made no attempt to avoid a meeting, and in passing, the Colonel and the Indians exchanged salutations. In one of the Indians he recognized Peter, a Mohawk whom he had formerly seen at Oghkwaga. They did not recognize him, however; but from his manner of speech supposed him to be a loyalist, and under that impression communicated to him the fact that their destination was to cut off "the Johnstone settlement," a small Scotch Colony on the eastern shore of the Susquehanna, near Unadilla, or Anaquaqua, as that place was sometimes called. Having obtained this information, he changed his course, and hurrying back to Harpersfield, collected fifteen resolute men, with whom he gave chase to the marauders. In addition to their arms, the Colonel caused each man of his little band to provide himself with two days' provisions and a rope. In the course of the following night, in descending the valley of the Charlotte river, they descried the fire where the Indians were encamped. Halting for a while to refresh and prepare for the contest, the Colonel and his men now stole upon the foe with the utmost caution. It was almost day-light, and the Indians were in a profound slumber—their arms being stacked in the middle of their little encampment. These were carefully removed by Harper and his party, as a measure of precaution. The moment for action having arrived, singling each his man, the cords were made ready, and every Indian, ere he was well awake, found himself bound and in the grasp of a foe. The sleeping Gulliver was not more thoroughly secured by the vexatious net-work of the Lilliputians. But Peter and his companions were not secured by Lilliputian ties, and they had to deal with a different race of men. When it became light in the morning, Peter discovered his captor. "Ugh!" he exclaimed—"Colonel Harper!—Why did I not know you yesterday?" The gallant Colonel proceeded to Albany with his prisoners, and surrendered them to the commanding officer of the station. It was a bold and well-executed achievement—and all the better that it was bloodless.

Although, as we have seen. Colonel Harper had parted from the Indians at Oghkwaga upon the most amicable terms, yet indications of a different temper were soon afterward manifested by this fickle people, of which the movement of Peter, so opportunely discovered and intercepted, was the first outbreak. Thayendanegea, likewise, appeared among them in the course of the Spring, having separated from Guy Johnson, between whom and himself some difficulty had occurred. Intelligence of the chieftain's departure from Canada, and march across the country to Oghkwaga with a large body of warriors, was received by the Tryon County Committee early in May from Fort Schuyler, and communicated to the Provincial Congress by its chairman, Isaac Paris. Not a little additional uneasiness was also occasioned at the same time by the spirit discernible among the Tories. Many of those loyalists, who had taken their departure the preceding year with Sir John Johnson, had, nevertheless, left their wives and children in the remote settlements, with whom they were evidently in communication; while scouting parties, both of Tories and Indians, were hovering on the northern outskirts of the county. [FN]


[FN] MS. documents in the office of the Secretary of State, Albany.

The presence of the crafty chieftain at Oghkwaga did not improve the pacific disposition of the natives, as will appear in the sequel; although Brant himself had not thus far committed any act of hostility within the province of New-York. The fact of his having borne a part in the battle of the Cedars seems, moreover, not to have been known in the Mohawk Valley, since they were yet uncertain whether it was his intention to raise the hatchet in the contest or not.

But these uncertainties were not of long duration. In the month of June, 1777, the chief of the Mohawks ascended the Susquehanna from Oghkwaga to Unadilla, [FN] attended by seventy or eighty of his warriors, and requested an interview with the Rev. Mr. Johnstone and the officers of the militia of the neighborhood. He stated that the object of his visit was to procure provisions, of which his people were greatly in want. And such were their necessities, that if peaceable means would not answer, the Indians must obtain them by force.


[FN] Tunadilla was the Indian name of this place, nor does the propriety of the alteration appear.

Advantage was taken of the interview to sound the chief as to his future intentions—whether he was for peace or for war; and his answers were far less difficult of solution than the riddle of the Sphynx. He complained of the ill-treatment which, as he alleged, some of the Mohawks, who had remained behind on the flight of the majority of the nation, had received at the hands of the Whigs. The Mohawks, he said, were as free as the air they breathed, and were determined to remain so; and they could not brook it that any of their brethren should be seized and imprisoned, as had been the case at the Castle. [FN] These, he demanded, should be set at liberty, and suffered to remove from the country. In regard to the question of peace or war, he said the Mohawks were always warriors—that their agreement with the King was very strong, and they were not such villains as to break their covenant.


[FN] Probably on suspicion of maintaining correspondence with the enemy.

The visit continued two days, during which time the Indians were well supplied with provisions, and on their departure permitted to take away some live cattle and sheep. The inhabitants, however, scattered and few, and quite remote from any considerable settlement, no longer feeling themselves safe in their houses, sought protection in places of greater security—principally in Cherry Valley, the place of their first location, whence they had removed, a few years before, into the vale of the Susquehanna. Some of the scattered settlers in the Unadilla region fled to the German Flats, and others, probably, to the older towns upon the Hudson.

The Indian forces of Captain Brant continuing to increase at Oghkwaga, and the anxiety of the people becoming greater with every report from that quarter, General Herkimer [FN-1] determined to repair thither, and obtain an interview. For this purpose the General dispatched a messenger to that place, and invited the chief to meet him at Unadilla—moving forward himself at the same time, at the head of about three hundred of the local militia, from the regiments of Colonels Cox, Klock, and Isenlord, well armed and provided. The precise object of the General, in seeking this interview with Brant, remains to this day more a matter of conjecture than of certainty. The few scattered fragments of Herkimer's correspondence which have fallen into the hands of the writer, show that it was no sudden movement; but, on the contrary, that General Schuyler, Colonel Van Schaick, Colonel Harper, and others, were consulted upon the subject. On the application of Herkimer, Colonel Van Schaick was detached to his assistance on the 15th of June, with one hundred and fifty men, with which force he repaired to Cherry Valley, but could proceed no farther for want of provisions. General Schuyler was also to repair thither in person, in the event of his presence being deemed necessary. [FN-2] Ostensibly, the expedition was one of peace; [FN-3] but the extent of the preparations, and the physical strength of the expedition, imparted an equivocal character to the movement; not more so, however, than was the conduct of Brant during the whole Spring, since his proceedings were such as to keep the minds of the people in a state of feverish excitement and ceaseless uncertainty. Thus, on the 10th of June, Colonel Harper wrote urgently to General Herkimer for a supply of ammunition, in the expectation of an immediate hostile irruption of Brant into the Valley of the Schoharie Kill. On the 13th, the Cherry Valley Committee wrote to the General a still more alarming letter. Brant, according to this statement, in connexion with some of the loyalists of Unadilla, had marked a path directly through the forest to Æsopus, by which route the Tories of Ulster and Orange Counties were to join his forces at Oghkwaga; at which place the chief had vaunted that shortly he would not fear the approach of three thousand men. [FN-4] On the other hand. Major Fonda wrote, on the 19th of June, that an embassy of chiefs and sachems of the Cayuga and Seneca nations, having repaired to Oghkwaga to remonstrate with Thayendanegea against farther hostilities, the latter had determined to listen to their councils, and withdraw into the Cayuga country. In pursuance of this policy, it was added, on what was esteemed good authority, that the Mohawk chief had released a prisoner with his own hands, telling the captors that they had acted wrong. [FN-5]


[FN-1] In the Autumn of 1776, three Brigadier-Generals of the militia were commissioned by the Provincial Congress of New-York, of whom Colonel Nicholas Herkimer was one. The Herkimer family was one of the first to settle at the German Flats, and the name is among those of the original patentees—not Herkimer, however, which is a corruption—but Ergemore, which was the true German name.—Letter of L. Ford to the author.

[FN-2] MS. letters of Colonels Van Schaick, Tupper, and others, among Gen. Herkimer's papers.

[FN-3] Letter of L. Ford, Esq. to the author.

[FN-4] MS. letter from Samuel Clyde to General Herkimer.

[FN-5] MS. letter of Major Jelles Fonda, among the Herkimer papers.

Such was the uncertain condition of things when the expedition under consideration was commenced. Brant and Herkimer had been near neighbors and personal friends, before the troubles came on, [FN] and it is possible the General still cherished a belief that he might yet detach the dusky warrior from the cause he had embraced, but nevertheless might not be disinclined to relinquish. Perhaps he designed nothing more than to drive him from his equivocal position. Perhaps, also, should opportunity be presented, it was his intention to seize his person. But be these suppositions as they may, it will be seen that there was at least one moment in which he contemplated a more decisive course.


[FN] The residence of General Herkimer was a short distance below the Little Falls of the Mohawk, near the river. His mansion, built of brick, is yet standing. Brant's farm, on which he was residing when the Revolutionary storm arose, was near the Upper Indian Castle, about three miles below the house of Herkimer. The farm lies directly upon the river, and is now very valuable. I visited the place in the Autumn of 1835. No other memorials of its last noble possessor remained than the cellar of his house, and the apple-trees which stood before his door. These were vigorous, and in full bearing.—Author.

It was a full week after the arrival of General Herkimer at Unadilla before Captain Brant made his appearance. He came to the neighborhood of the General's encampment, accompanied by five hundred warriors. Having halted, he dispatched a runner to General Herkimer, with a message, desiring to be informed of the object of his visit. General Herkimer replied that he had merely come to see and converse with his brother, Captain Brant. The quick-witted messenger inquired if all those men wished to talk to his chief too? However, he said to the General that he would carry his talk back to his chief, but he charged him that he must not cross the field upon the margin of which they were standing, and departed. But an arrangement was soon made, through the agency of messengers, by which a meeting was effected. The scene exhibited at this interview, as related by those who were present at it, was novel and imposing. The hostile parties were now encamped within the distance of two miles from each other. About midway between their encampments, a temporary shed was erected, sufficiently extensive to allow some two hundred persons to be seated. By mutual stipulation their arms were to be left in their respective encampments. [FN] Soon after the adjustment of the preliminaries and the completion of the fixtures above mentioned, the chief of the Mohawks himself appeared in the edge of the distant forest, and approached the place designated, already in the occupation of Herkimer, somewhat warily, accompanied by Captain Bull, (a Tory,) William Johnson, (son of Sir William, by Brant's sister Mary,) a subordinate chief of the Mohawks, an Indian woman, and also by about forty warriors. After some little parleying, a circle was formed by General Herkimer, into which Brant and the General entered, together with the other Indian chief and two of Herkimer's officers. After the interchange of a few remarks, the chieftain, keeping an eagle-eye upon his visitor, inquired the reason of his being thus honored. General Herkimer replied, as he had done to the avant-courier, that he had come to see him on a friendly visit. "And all these have come on a friendly visit, too?" replied the chief "All want to see the poor Indians; it is very kind." he added, with a sarcastic curl of the lip. General Herkimer expressed a desire to go forward to the village, but the chief told him he was quite near enough, and that he must not proceed any farther.


[FN] MS. statement of facts collected by L. Ford, Esq.

The General next endeavored to enter into a conversation with the Mohawk touching the difficulties with England, in order to ascertain his feelings and intentions. The conference now became earnest and animated, although the chief at first gave Herkimer evasive and oracular answers. To a question, however, put to him directly, he finally replied:—"That the Indians were in concert with the King, as their fathers had been; That the King's belts were yet lodged with them, and they could not violate their pledge; That General Herkimer and his followers had joined the Boston people against their sovereign; That although the Boston people were resolute, yet the King would humble them; That General Schuyler was very smart on the Indians at the treaty of German Flats, [FN-1] but at the same time was not able to afford the smallest article of clothing; And finally, that the Indians had formerly made war on the white people when they were all united; and as they were now divided, the Indians were not frightened." [FN-2]


[FN-1] Adjourned to Albany.

[FN-2] Annals of Tryon County.

Colonel Cox, who was in the suite of General Herkimer, then made a few remarks, the substance of which was, that if such was the fixed determination of the Indians, nothing farther need be said. But his manner, or some of the expressions uttered by the Colonel, which have not been preserved, gave offence to the chief. He was exceedingly irritated; [FN-1] and by a signal to the warriors attending him at a short distance, they ran back to their encampment, and soon afterward appeared again with their rifles, several of which were discharged, while the shrill war-whoop rang through the forest. Meantime, however, by explanations or otherwise, the chief was soothed and his warriors were kept at a proper distance, although the demand of General Herkimer for the surrender of sundry Tories was peremptorily refused. The conference ended by an agreement between the parties to meet again at 9 o'clock the following morning. General Herkimer and his forces, forbidden to advance any farther, encamped as before. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Manuscript statement of Joseph Waggoner, in the author's possession.

[FN-2] Idem.

The next morning General Herkimer called one of his most trusty men aside, Joseph Waggoner by name, for the purpose of communicating to him, in confidence, a matter of great importance, respecting which the most profound secrecy was enjoined. He then informed Waggoner that he had selected him and three others to perform a high and important duty, requiring promptness, courage, and decision. His design, the General said, was to take the lives of Brant and his three attendants, on the renewal of their visit that morning. For this purpose he should rely upon Waggoner and his three associates, on the arrival of the chief and his friends within the circle as on the preceding day, each to select his man, and, at a concerted signal, shoot them down upon the spot. There is something so revolting—so rank and foul—in this project of meditated treachery, that it is difficult to reconcile it with the known character of General Herkimer. And yet it is given on the written authority of Waggoner himself, whose character was equally respectable. The patriotic veteran, in devising such a scheme, had probably reasoned himself into the belief that the intended victims were only Indians, and that in the emergency of the country, it would be justifiable to do evil that good might come. It was, however, a most reprehensible scheme—scarcely less defensible than the murder, by Catharine de Medicis, of some of the Huguenot chiefs, who were invited to Paris under the guise of friendship, on the eve of the Bartholomew massacre, and treacherously taken off by poison; and equal in its purposed atrocity, though upon a smaller scale, to the subsequent treachery of Ali Pacha of Egypt, in regard to the Mamelukes, whom he caused to be decoyed into the strong-hold of Cairo, and slaughtered. Indian that he was, there is no known act of perfidy chargeable upon Brant; and he had met Herkimer on his own invitation. A betrayal of his confidence, under those circumstances, would have brought a stain upon the character of the Provincials, which all the waters of the Mohawk could not have washed away.

Fortunately, however, the design was not carried into execution. Whether the wary chieftain entertained any suspicions of foul play, is not known. But, certain it is, that his precaution and his bearing, when he arrived at Herkimer's quarters, were such as to frustrate the purpose. As he entered the circle, attended as before, he drew himself up with dignity, and addressed General Herkimer as follows:—"I have five hundred warriors with me, armed and ready for battle. You are in my power; but as we have been friends and neighbors, I will not take the advantage of you." [FN-1] Saying which, at a signal, a host of his armed warriors darted forth from the contiguous forest, all painted and ready for the onslaught, as the well-known war-whoop but too clearly proclaimed. The chief continued the discourse by advising the General to go back to his own home—thanked him for his civility in coming thus far to see him, and told him that perhaps he might one day return the compliment. Meantime, he said, he would go back to his village, and for the present the General might rest assured that no hostilities should be committed by the Indians. He then requested that the Rev. Mr. Stuart, the English missionary at Fort Hunter, might be permitted to retire into Canada, as also the wife of Colonel Butler. To these requests General Herkimer assented, although the latter was not complied with. He then presented the Indians with ten or a dozen heads of cattle, which they fell upon and slaughtered incontinently. [FN-2] Brant himself turned proudly away, and buried himself in the forest; while General Herkimer struck his tents, and retraced his steps to the valley of the Mohawk.


[FN-1] Waggoner's manuscript.

[FN-2] Idem.

Thus terminated this most singular conference. "It was early in July, and the morning was remarkably clear and beautiful. But the echo of the war-whoop had scarcely died away, before the heavens became black, and a violent storm obliged each party to seek the nearest shelter. Men less superstitious than many of the unlettered yeomen, who, leaning upon their arms, were witnesses of the events of this day, could not fail in after-times to look back upon the tempest, if not as an omen, at least as an emblem of those bloody massacres with which these Indians and their associates afterward visited the inhabitants of this unfortunate frontier." [FN]


[FN] Annals of Tryon County.

This was the last conference held with the hostile Mohawks. Their chief very soon afterward drew off his warriors from the Susquehanna, and united them to the forces of Sir John Johnson and Colonel John Butler, who were concentrating the Tories and refugees at Oswego. It was at about the same period that the officers of the British Indian department had summoned a general council of the Six Nations, to be held at that place; and it is probable that Brant arrived at the post with his warriors for that occasion. According to Ramsay, the invitations to this council were sent forth by Guy Johnson, the Indians being requested to assemble "to eat the flesh and drink the blood of a Bostonian." This language was understood figuratively, however,—the roasting of an ox and a banquet being intended.

The council having assembled, [FN] the business was opened by the British Commissioners, who informed the chiefs that their object in calling the meeting was to engage their assistance in subduing the rebel Colonies, the people of which had risen up against the good King their master, and were about to rob him of a great part of his wealth and possessions. As an inducement to enter the service, they were promised an ample reward. The chiefs in reply, or rather those of them who were averse to joining in the war, informed the British officers of the treaty of German Flats and Albany, in which they had bound themselves to take no part in the contest, and the parties to that compact repeated their determination to abide by the treaty, and not take up the hatchet against their white neighbors.


[FN] The only account of this great Indian council, (farther than the mere statement that such a council was held,) which the author has been able to discover, is that given in the life of Mary Jemison, a white woman, who, being taken captive near Pittsburgh in 1755, when a child, after her parents were killed, was raised by the Indians, and became in fact one of them, in every thing but her birth and complexion. She married an Indian, and lived to a very advanced age, and died among them. She was present at this council; and from the fact that the truth of other portions of her interesting narrative is sustained by other authorities, her statement may be received as substantially correct. The life of this remarkable woman, who died but a few years since, was published by James D. Bemis, of Canandaigua. There will be several occasions of referring to it hereafter.

The discussions were protracted, nor were the entreaties of the Commissioners of any avail against the resolution of the Indians to maintain their good faith, until they addressed their avarice, "by telling them that the people of the Colonies were few in number, and would be easily subdued; and that on account of their disobedience to the King, they justly merited all the punishment that it was possible for white men and Indians to inflict upon them. The King," they said, "was rich and powerful, both in money and subjects. His rum was as plenty as the water in Lake Ontario, and his men as numerous as the sands upon its shore; and the Indians were assured, that if they would assist in the war, and persevere in their friendship for the King until its close, they should never want for goods or money," [FN] Overcome by their persevering importunities, and by more direct and palpable appeals to their senses, in a rich display of tawdry articles calculated to please their fancies, the Indians proved recreant to their plighted faith to the Colonies, and concluded a treaty of alliance with Great Britain—binding themselves to take up the hatchet against the rebels, and continue in his Majesty's service until they were subdued.


[FN] Life of Mary Jemison, written in 1823.

At the close of the treaty, each Indian was presented with a suit of clothes, a brass kettle, [FN] a gun, a tomahawk and scalping-knife, a quantity of ammunition, a piece of gold, and the promise of a bounty upon every scalp they should bring in. "Thus richly clad and equipped, the Indians returned to their respective homes, after an absence of about two weeks, full of the fire of war, and anxious to encounter their (new-made) enemies."


[FN] The brass kettles received at Oswego by the Senecas, (to which tribe Mary belonged,) on the occasion mentioned in the text, were yet in use in that nation, so late as 1823.

From that day Thayendanegea was the acknowledged chief of the Six Nations, and he soon became one of the master spirits of the motley forces employed by Great Britain in her attempts to recover the Mohawk Valley, and to annoy the other settlements of what then constituted the North-western frontier. Whether in the conduct of a campaign or of a scouting-party, in the pitched battle or the foray, this crafty and dauntless chieftain was sure to be one of the most efficient, as he was one of the bravest, of those who were engaged. Combining with the native hardihood and sagacity of his race the advantages of education and of civilized life,—in acquiring which, he had lost nothing of his activity or his power of endurance—he became the most formidable border foe with whom the Provincials had to contend, and his name was a terror to the land. His movements were at once so secret and so rapid, that he seemed almost to be clothed with the power of ubiquity.

The first of his hostile demonstrations within the Colony of New-York is believed to have been made in the month of May preceding the interview with General Herkimer; although from the semi-pacific intercourse maintained with him for several weeks longer, the fact was not then certainly known. The settlement of Cherry Valley was commenced in 1739; and in consequence of some threatened Indian troubles, a detachment of troops had been stationed there as early as 1763. But no military works were erected, and the breaking out of the war of the Revolution found the place defenceless. While Brant was collecting his warriors at Oghkwaga, however, the inhabitants bethought themselves of the necessity of defences. But not having the means to undertake the erection of any formidable work, the house of Colonel Samuel Campbell was selected as the largest, strongest, and most eligibly situated for military purposes. A rude embankment of logs and earth was thrown up around this building, so extended in its dimensions as likewise to include two large barns. These buildings were all strengthened, and provided with doors and window-shutters bullet-proof. Small block-houses were also erected within the enclosure; and to this place, in moments of peril and alarm, the inhabitants fled for protection. Martial law was proclaimed, and no persons were allowed either to enter or leave the settlement without permission.

Toward the close of May, and soon after these precautionary measures had been executed, Brant conceived the idea of making a descent upon the settlement, for the purpose of either killing, or making captive, the principal inhabitants, especially the vigilant members of the Committee. It has been stated in a former page, that among the precautionary measures adopted the preceding year, the exempts from military duty had organized themselves into a volunteer company. The martial fever of course descended from sire to son; and as the population had been considerably augmented by the arrival of distant settlers for safety, a goodly number of boys were collected, who formed a corps of cadets, with no better armor than wooden swords and guns. These juvenile soldiers happened to be parading upon the esplanade in front of Colonel Campbell's house at the very hour, one bright sunny morning, when Brant and his party of warriors, who had secretly arrived from Oghkwaga, were reconnoitering the post under shelter of a tangled thicket skirting the brow of a hill about a mile distant. His vision being somewhat obstructed by the intercepting shrubbery, the chief mistook the lads for bona fide soldiers. Observing the semblance of a fortification before described, Captain Brant moved his party to a convenient lurking-place near the road leading to the Mohawk river, and there lay in ambush for the purpose of obtaining such information as might chance to come in his way. A short distance from where the chief lay ensconced behind a large rock, "the road wound along near the edge of a cliff, overhanging a rocky glen of one hundred and fifty feet deep. This chasm was shaded by evergreens, and the whole scene was shadowy and almost dark, even at mid-day. The wildness of the place was increased by the dashing of a mountain-torrent into the gloomy abyss, called, by the Indians, the falls of Tekaharawa." [FN]


[FN] Annals of Tryon County.

It chanced, that on the morning of that day, Lieutenant Wormwood, a promising young officer from Palatine, of an opulent family, had been despatched to Cherry Valley, with information to the authorities that a detachment from Colonel Klock's regiment of militia was to march to their defence on the following day. It was toward evening that Lieut. Wormwood started on his return to the Mohawk, accompanied by the bearer of some despatches, named Peter Sitz. As he mounted his horse in the village, he threw down his portmanteau, remarking that he needed not to take it, as he should return on the next morning with his company. He was well-mounted, and richly dressed "in a suit of ash-colored velvet, which attracted much attention during his stay;" and many persons remained at the door, looking at the noble bearing of the young patriot, until he disappeared behind the crest of the hill in the direction of the Tekaharawa. Scarcely, however, had the clattering of hoofs died away upon their ears, before a discharge of musketry resounded from the glen—the startling report being speedily followed by the soldier's horse, returning at full speed, the saddle crimsoned with blood. Suspicions of the most painful description at once flashed upon the minds of the people, and a party was immediately despatched to investigate the circumstances. They returned without success that night, but on the following morning the body of Wormwood was found behind the rock heretofore described, scalped and lifeless. It afterward appeared, that as Wormwood and Sitz approached the rock, they were hailed, but instead of answering, they put spurs to their horses and endeavored to pass. Being fired upon, Lieutenant Wormwood fell wounded, as did the horse of Sitz. The Indians rushed forth from their ambuscade, and Sitz was made prisoner; while the gallant officer was scalped by Brant's own hand. The chief is said to have lamented the death of this young man. They were not only acquaintances, but friends; and he had been fired upon under the supposition that he was an officer of the Continental army. [FN] The despatches carried by Sitz were double, and it was fortunate that he had sufficient presence of mind to destroy the genuine, and deliver the delusive papers to his savage captors. Deceived thereby as to the real strength at Cherry Valley, Brant retired without committing any farther act of hostility. Colonel Klock arrived at Cherry Valley on the following morning, accompanied by the afflicted father of the slaughtered officer, who was mourned and wept by all who knew him.


[FN] Annals of Tryon County,

Another coincident event, forming an appropriate conclusion to the present chapter, was the tragic death of the great Shawanese chief, Cornstock, with his gallant son, Ellinipsico; both of whom will be remembered as among the brave Indian leaders at the battle of the Kanhawa, the last action of the Cresap war, in 1774; and both of whom were now as basely murdered by white men, as were the family of Logan. The circumstances attending this foul transaction were these:—Cornstock, after the defeat of his warriors at Point Pleasant, and his subsequent treaty of peace with Lord Dunmore, had become sincerely and truly the friend of the Colonies; and while the Indians of the Northwest, generally, were preparing to take up arms with the English, he exerted himself to the utmost to prevent his own nation from any participation in the contest. But the influence of the British agents, and the example of the surrounding Indian nations, were so powerful upon the minds of the Shawanese, that Cornstock perceived his pacific efforts were likely to prove futile. Thus circumstanced, he repaired to the fort which had been erected at Point Pleasant after the battle of the Kanhawa, to lay the matter before the officer in command—Captain Arbuckle—and take his advice. He was accompanied on this mission by a young Delaware chief named Redhawk, who had also fought by his side in the Cresap war. Having made a full developement of the state of Indian affairs in the North-west, and frankly admitted that, from the causes already indicated, he should be unable to prevent the Shawanese from taking up the hatchet in the cause of the Crown, the commander of the fort deemed it expedient to detain the old chief, with his Delaware companion, as hostages for the good conduct of their people. Nor did they remain unwillingly—little anticipating the fate that awaited them—and giving all the information respecting the Indians and their country, that could be desired by the Americans.

Uneasy at the protracted absence of his father, Ellinipsico, his son, went in pursuit, and traced him to the fort, where they had an affectionate meeting. Unfortunately, the day after the arrival of the young warrior at Point Pleasant, two white men having crossed the Kanhawa on a hunting expedition, were fired upon by some straggling Indians, and one of them, whose name was Gilmore, was killed. The other escaped. No sooner was the event of Gilmore's death known, than the cry of revenge was raised, and a party of ruffians assembled, under the command of a Captain Hall—not to pursue and punish the perpetrators of the murder—but to fall upon the friendly and peaceable Indians in the fort. Arming themselves, and cocking their rifles, they proceeded directly to the little garrison, menacing death to any or all who should oppose their nefarious designs. Some friend of the hostage-chiefs attempted to apprise them in advance of the approaching danger; but the savage mob were probably too close upon the heels of the messenger to allow of their escape. At the sound of the clamor without, Ellinipsico is said to have been somewhat agitated. Not so the veteran Cornstock. He had too often grappled with death on the war-path to fear his approaches now. Perceiving the emotion of his son, he calmly observed:—"My son, the Great Spirit has seen fit that we should die together, and has sent you to that end. It is his will, and let us submit," The infuriated mob had now gained the apartment of the victims; Cornstock fell, perforated with seven bullets, and died without a struggle. The son, after the exhortation of his father, met his fate with composure, and was shot on the seat upon which he was sitting. Red-hawk, the young Delaware, died with less fortitude. He hid himself away, but was discovered and slain. Another friendly Indian, in the fort at the time, was likewise killed, and his body mangled by the barbarians in a manner that would have disgraced savages of any other complexion. "Thus," says an Indian Chronicler, [FN] "perished the mighty Cornstock, sachem of the Shawanese, and king of the Northern confederacy, in 1774—a chief remarkable for many great and good qualities. He was disposed to be at all times the friend of white men, as he was ever the advocate of honorable peace. But when his country's wrongs summoned him to the battle, he became the thunderbolt of war, and made his enemies feel the weight of his arm. His noble bearing, his generous and disinterested attachment to the Colonies, his anxiety to preserve the frontier of Virginia from desolation and death, all conspired to win for him the esteem and respect of others; while the untimely and perfidious manner of his death caused a deep and lasting feeling of regret to pervade the bosoms, even of those who were enemies to his nation, and excited the just indignation of all toward his inhuman murderers."


[FN] Withers's Indian Chronicles, as quoted by Drake,

It argues a sad deficiency of military discipline, that such a foul transaction could have occurred at any regularly established post. The command of Arbuckle, however, must have been small, inasmuch as he was not only opposed to the commission of the outrage, but sallied forth, in company with another captain, named Stuart, for the purpose of intercepting the ruffians, and preventing the execution of their purpose. But all remonstrance was vain. The enraged assailants, pale, and quivering with fury, presented their rifles to the breasts of those officers, threatening them with instant death if they stood in their way. It has been said that Cornstock felt a presentiment of his death on the morning of its occurrence. A council had been summoned for the consideration of some business of importance, connected, probably, with Indian affairs, since the old chief bore a part in the deliberations. In the course of one of his speeches delivered on that occasion, he said, with emphasis, to the council:—"When I was young, every time I went to war, I thought it likely that I might return no more; but I still lived; I am now in your hands; you may kill me if you choose. I can die but once, and it is alike to me whether I die now or at another time." [FN]


[FN] Doddridge's Indian Wars, pp. 238—240.

The Indian biography of our country supplies but few additional facts concerning the life of this brave and just man. He had a son, known among the whites as The Wolf, whose name was somewhat conspicuously associated with the earlier events of the Revolution. The Wolf, with three others, was a hostage at Williamsburgh, Virginia, at the time of Lord Dunmore's embarkation on board of the British fleet. After the escape of his Lordship, he solicited and obtained an interview with The Wolf and his associates on board of his ship; during which he explained to them the causes of his flight, and urged them to flee also, as the only means of escaping the fury of the revolutionists. Adopting this counsel, they took to the woods on returning to the shore. The night following came on excessively dark. One of The Wolf's companions separated from his fellows, and was lost. The others soon afterward returned to Williamsburgh, where they were well received by the inhabitants. What farther befell The Wolf, or the house of Cornstock, is not known.




CHAPTER IX.


British preparations for the prosecution of the war—Indications at the North—Doubtful position and conduct of General Howe—Embarrassing to the Americans—Intercepted correspondence—General Howe sails to the Chesapeake—Enters Philadelphia in triumph—Burgoyne approaches from the North—Indian policy—Sir Guy Carleton—False estimates of the strength of Ticonderoga—Burgoyne arrives at Crown Point—Feasts the Indians—Invests Ticonderoga—Carries the outworks—Fortifies Sugar Hill—The fortress evacuated by St. Clair—Retreat of the Americans—Battles near Skenesborough and at Fort Ann—Burgoyne enters the valley of the Hudson—Schuyler, without means, retreats from Fort Edward—Terror of the people—Cruelties of the Indians—Story of Miss McCrea—General flight of the population—Mrs. Ann Eliza Bleecker—Heroism of Mrs. Schuyler—Attempted assassination of General Schuyler.

Having failed in their efforts to extinguish the rebellion during the preceding year, the government of the parent country-resolved to put forth still greater energies during the present. For this purpose a powerful force was organized in Canada, the command of which was transferred from Sir Guy Carleton—the ablest British General, by the way, at that time or subsequently in America—and conferred upon General Burgoyne—an officer, also, of unquestioned merit—whose spirit of enterprise and thirst for military glory could not be exceeded. It was the aim of this Northern army to open a communication between Canada and New-York—thus cutting off New-England, which the ministry justly considered the hot-bed of the Revolution, from all communication with the Middle States; while Sir William Howe, with an army of 16,000 men, was to withdraw from New Jersey, and move round simultaneously to the Chesapeake, and take possession of the Middle States; and thus, as it was hoped, compel the whole to return to their allegiance.

Doubts, however, for several months hung over the intentions of the enemy, whose designs were so skilfully veiled as for a long time almost to paralyze the exertions of the Americans. The retreat of Carleton from Lake Champlain, the preceding Autumn, even after the lake was in his power and Crown Point in his possession, suggested a doubt whether a serious invasion was meditated from that quarter. On the contrary, the impression was general that the expedition of Burgoyne was destined against Boston; and that Sir William Howe, whose movements in New Jersey were enigmatical to perplexity, was to co-operate in an effort to re-subjugate New England. The British government itself, as it is believed, contributed to the distractions of Congress and the American commander, by causing reports to be circulated that Boston was to be the next point of attack. Arthur Lee, being then in Bordeaux, was thus confidentially advised, and he lost no time in communicating such supposed intention to the Secret Committee of Congress, who in turn gave the like information to the Commander-in-chief, and also to the Legislature of Massachusetts. The consequence of these distractions was unfortunate for the Americans. Less attention was paid to preparations for the defence of the North than otherwise would have been given; while Massachusetts, apprehending that all her strength would be required for her own defence, set about raising troops for her own protection, at the expense of the main army, from which its quota of recruits was withheld. [FN]


[FN] Letters of Washington, during the months of May, June, and July, 1777.

Before the close of June, however, the designs of the enemy in regard to the North became obvious. A person from Canada, arrested as a spy, and brought before General Schuyler, stated on his examination, "that the British forces were approaching St. Johns, and were to advance through Lake Champlain under General Burgoyne; and also that a detachment of British troops, Canadians and Indians, was to penetrate the country by the way of Oswego and the Valley of the Mohawk. He added many particulars, respecting the strength and arrangements of the British army, which turned out in the end to be nearly accurate, but of which no intelligence had before been obtained, or by many anticipated." [FN]


[FN] Sparks—Note in Life and Cor. of Washington, vol. iv.

The movements of General Howe were still equivocal, even after Burgoyne had commenced his descent upon the North—thus adding to the embarrassments of Washington. And in order the more certainly to mislead the American commander as to his real intentions. General Howe wrote a feigned despatch to Burgoyne, on the subject of ascending the Hudson to join him, the bearer of which fell purposely into the hands of the Americans, while pretending to be on his way to Canada. Unable, therefore, to determine whether such might not be his design, (although the intercepted despatch was regarded with strong suspicion,) or whether, on the other hand, it might not be the purpose of Howe to pass round to the Chesapeake and thence strike at Philadelphia, the American General was compelled to remain inactively watching his motions, strengthening, in the mean time, to the utmost of his power, his positions in the highlands—without being able to detach any large number of troops to the assistance of General Schuyler, then commanding the Northern Department. And even after General Howe had embarked his troops and dropped down to Sandy Hook—having evacuated New Jersey on the 30th of June [FN-1]—Washington was still in doubt whether it might not yet be his intention to return with the tide, and pass up the river in the night. [FN-2] Such, however, was no part of the plan of the British commander. His destination, on leaving the harbor of New-York, was the Chesapeake and Philadelphia; and the latter branch of the campaign indicated in the opening of the present chapter, was so far successful, that after a series of victories over the forces of General Washington, commencing at Brandywine and ending at Germantown, General Howe took possession of, and established himself in, the capital of Pennsylvania.


[FN-1] It is a pleasing evidence of the sound religious views of Washington, that he was a firm believer in the immediate interpositions of Providence in directing and controlling the affairs of men. His letters abound in passages that might be cited, showing his quickness to discern the finger of Providence, and his readiness to make the acknowledgment. Thus, in regard to the departure from New Jersey by General Howe, he says:—"The evacuation of Jersey at this time seems to be a peculiar mark of Providence, as the inhabitants have an opportunity of securing their harvests of hay and grain, the latter of which would in all probability have undergone the same fate with many farm-houses, had it been ripe enough to take fire."—Letter of Washington to Maj. Gen. Armstrong, July 4, 1777.

[FN-2] "If we were certain Gen. Burgoyne were approaching Ticonderoga with his whole army, I should not hesitate a moment in concluding that it is in consequence of a preconcerted plan with Gen. Howe, and that the latter is to co-operate with him by pushing his whole force up the North River, and aiming a stroke in the first instance and immediately at the Highlands."—Letter of Washington to the President of Congress, July 2. Again, in several successive letters, after the embarkation of General Howe's army from Staten Island, Washington spoke of the perplexity in which he was kept by the shifting manœuvres of the fleet. On the 22d of July he wrote—"I cannot give you any certain account of General Howe's operations. His conduct is puzzling and embarrassing beyond measure; so are the informations which I get. At one time the ships are standing up toward the North River; in a little while they are going up the Sound; and in one hour after, they are going out of the Hook."—Letter to General Schuyler. The fleet actually sailed for the Capes of Virginia on the 23d of July.

But a far different fortune attended the arms of Burgoyne. The regular troops of his command, English and German, amounted to above seven thousand men, added to which were large numbers of American and Canadian loyalists, together with many hundred Indians; a species of force, which, it has been held by British historians, Sir Guy Carleton was reluctant to employ, while General Burgoyne, it has been alleged, entertained no such scruples. It has ever been claimed as a virtue on the part of Carleton, and carried to the credit of his humanity, that, rather than employ the Indians, he submitted to the injustice of having the command of this expedition, properly belonging to him, conferred upon an officer who was not entitled to lead the enterprise. It is perhaps true, from his more intimate knowledge of the Indian character, that he had formed such an estimate of their services as to render him somewhat less sanguine than others as to their value. His experience could not but have taught him the extent of their inutility in war, the capriciousness of their character, their intractableness and inconstancy. He must have known that their ideas of war were totally different from those of civilized nations; by reason of which, notwithstanding their ferocity, and the incredible examples of passive valor which they sometimes afford in cases adapted to their own opinions, they were nevertheless utterly regardless of, and looked with contempt upon, those belligerent usages which are considered as honorable, generous, and fair in the modern service of civilized men. He could not have been ignorant of the fact, that the object and design of most of the wars in which the Indians engage, are not so much to conquer by manly and open battle, as to murder and destroy after their own peculiar fashion. In one word, that accomplished officer very well knew the services of the Indians to be uncertain; their rapacity to be insatiable; their faith at all times doubtful; and their action cruel to barbarity. Still, as we have already shown beyond contradiction, he was among the first to court the alliance and obtain the services of Brant and his Mohawks, on their descent to Montreal in 1775. The commendations, therefore, that have been bestowed upon Sir Guy Carleton upon this subject, at the expense of Burgoyne, were as undeserved by the one as unjust toward the other. True, the march of Burgoyne was tracked with blood, which a high-souled officer should scorn in such manner to shed; [FN] but the footsteps of Carleton might have been equally sanguine had the command been entrusted to him.


[FN] It is but just to this gallant but unfortunate officer, however, to state, that he did all in his power to restrain the excesses and barbarities of the Indians. At the council and war-feast, which he gave them near Crown Point, he endeavored to explain to them the laws of civilized war; and charged them that they must only kill those opposing them in arms; that old men, women, children, and prisoners, must be held sacred from the knife or hatchet, even in the heat of battle. But it did no good.

Never, probably, at the time, had there been an army of equal numbers better appointed than that of Burgoyne. The train of brass artillery, in particular, was perhaps the finest that had ever been allotted to an army not far exceeding the present in numerical strength, and for a time victory seemed to perch upon his ensigns.

General Carleton, it will be remembered, had made himself master of Lake Champlain, and the fortifications at Crown Point the Autumn before. The first object for attack presenting itself to General Burgoyne, therefore, was Ticonderoga—situated in the mountain gap through which the waters of Lake George fall into Lake Champlain. This fortress was then in command of General St. Clair, and was supposed by the Americans to be a post of great security. The principal fortress, the ruins of which are yet standing in frowning and rugged strength, was situated on an angle of land which is surrounded on three sides by water filled with rocks. A great part of the south side was covered by a deep morass; and where that failed, in the north-west quarter, the old French lines served as a defence. These lines had been strengthened by additional works and a block-house. The Americans had other defences and block-houses in the direction of Lake George, together with two new block-houses and some other works to the right of the French lines. Still greater pains had been taken in fortifying the high circular hill on the eastern shore of the inlet opposite, known as Mount Independence. On the summit of this mountain, which is table-land, the Americans had erected a star-fort, enclosing a large square of barracks, well fortified, and supplied with artillery. The foot of the mountain, on the west side projecting into the water, was strongly entrenched to its edge, and the entrenchment lined with heavy artillery. These lower works were sustained and covered by a battery, about half-way up the side of the mountain, and were connected by a bridge across the inlet, which had been constructed at great labor and expense. [FN-1] These, and other works of defence, had been judged sufficient to render the post secure. The Commander-in-chief himself, although indeed the works had not fallen under his own inspection, had formed a very erroneous opinion of their strength, or perhaps, to speak more correctly, of the natural advantages of the position, and of the defensibility of the works. [FN-2] Such, in fact, was his confidence in the post, that the idea of its loss seems from his correspondence scarce to have entered his mind.


[FN-1] London Universal Magazine, April, 1782.

[FN-2] "I am pleased to find, by your letter to Congress, that a strong supply of provisions has been thrown into Ticonderoga. Since that is the case, I see no reason for apprehending that it can possibly fall into the hands of the enemy in a short time, even were they to bring their whole force to a point; but if they have divided it to make the different attacks that you mention, General St. Clair will, in all probability, have an opportunity of acting on the defensive; and should he not be quite successful, he may damage them so considerably, that they will not be able to attack him in his works; to which, I dare say, he will always secure a retreat in case of accident."—Letter of Washington to General Schuyler, July 2, 1777.

But in all their labors, the American engineers had overlooked the high peak, or mountain, called Sugar Hill, situated south of the bridge, on the point of land at the confluence of the waters of Lakes George and Champlain. Originally it had been supposed, and taken for granted, that the crest of Sugar Hill was not only inaccessible, but too distant to be of any avail in covering the main fortress. This opinion was an error, to which the attention of the officers had been called the preceding year by Colonel John Trumbull, then Adjutant-General for the Northern Department. When Colonel Trumbull made the suggestion, he was laughed at by the mess; but he soon proved the greater accuracy of his own vision, by throwing a cannon shot to the summit; and subsequently clambered up to the top, accompanied by Colonels Wayne and Arnold. [FN] It was a criminal neglect, on the part of the Americans, that the oversight was not at once corrected, by the construction of a work upon that point, which would have commanded the whole post.


[FN] Conversations of the author with Colonel John Trumbull, and also his unpublished memoirs, to which the author has had access.

General Burgoyne arrived at Crown Point on the 21st of June; and after meeting and feasting the Indians, and attempting to instruct them in the rules and principles of civilized war, and making other necessary preparations—not forgetting to send forth a manifesto which he supposed would spread terror through the Northern Colonies—he advanced with great caution to the investment of Ticonderoga, where he arrived on the 2d of July. Most unaccountably, the Americans immediately abandoned all their works in the direction of Lake George—setting fire to the block-houses and saw-mills; and without sally or other interruption, permitted the enemy, under Major General Phillips, to take possession of the very advantageous post of Mount Hope, which, besides commanding their lines in a dangerous degree, totally cut off their communication with Lake George. The only excuse for such an early abandonment of this important point, was found in the fact that General St. Clair had not force enough to man all his defences.

One of the first objects that attracted the attention of the British commander, was the unoccupied point of Sugar Hill. It was forthwith examined, and its advantages were found to be so great, that immediate dispositions were made for its occupation. A winding road was cut to its summit, a battery commenced, and cannon to serve it transported thither. Under these circumstances, finding himself invested on all sides, and batteries ready to be opened upon him not only from around, but above, and having, moreover, not half troops enough to man his works—St. Clair hastily convened a council of war on the 5th of July, and an evacuation was unanimously decided upon as the only alternative for the emergency. [FN]


[FN] "The evacuation of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence is an event of chagrin and surprise, not apprehended nor within the compass of my reasoning. I know not upon what principle it was founded, and I should suppose it still more difficult to be accounted for, if the garrison amounted to five thousand men, in high spirits, healthy, well supplied with provisions and ammunition, and the Eastern militia marching to their succor, as you mentioned in your letter of the 9th to the Council of Safety of New-York."—Letter of Washington to General Schuyler, July 15, 1777. The truth, however, is, that the actual force and condition of St. Clair's army had been universally over-estimated—as well by the officers at a distance as by the public. The eyes of the nation were turned upon that post; and when the news of the retreat went abroad, the disappointment was extreme; and the loud voice of complaint and censure, against the unfortunate General, was reiterated from one end of the continent to the other. But, notwithstanding the "chagrin" and "surprise," so keenly felt by the Commander-in-chief at the loss of this important post, his strong sense of justice interposed to shield the unfortunate commander from condemnation unheard. He wrote to General Schuyler on the 13th of July, that General St. Clair owed it to himself to insist upon an opportunity of giving his reasons for evacuating Ticonderoga, but he at the same time said—"I will not condemn, or even pass censure upon, an officer unheard." Time, however, proved that he had acted the part of a judicious and skillful officer; but the excitement of the moment was so great, caused by chagrin on the one hand and alarm on the other, that all eyes were blind, and all ears deaf, to the true reasons of the case, and even to the palliating circumstances.—Sparks's Life of Gonverneur Morris.

Following up such a promising advantage, the British commander pushed forward upon the retiring army, with such a degree of vigor that the retreat became almost a rout. The Americans, however, made a stand between Skenesborough and Fort Anne in a well-contested battle; but after much hard fighting, were again compelled to retreat. Another engagement ensued at Fort Anne, with a like result; and the victorious Briton entered the valley of the Hudson, and took possession of Fort Edward, which, weak and unprovided, had likewise been evacuated on his approach by General Schuyler.

These movements by the British commander had been made with equal vigor and celerity; and such was the confusion of the Americans in their flight, that no advices of the disaster were forwarded by express to General Schuyler, to prepare him for the approach of the victors. Indeed, that officer was suffered to remain several days without intelligence from St. Clair of any description, excepting some vague flying rumors of the evacuation. [FN-1] During this suspense, General Schuyler wrote to the Commander-in-chief upon the subject, who, in turn, expressed his amazement at the mystery which seemed to hang over the affairs of the fortress. At one moment Washington was led to believe that St. Clair and the whole garrison had been made prisoners, and at another that the rumor of the evacuation was wholly untrue; and that the silence, for which it baffled conjecture to account, arose from the circumstance that the Americans were shut up in their works. [FN-2] But this doubt did not continue long. Notwithstanding that the advance of the enemy was repulsed at Fort Anne, Colonel Long, who was in command of that post, immediately evacuated it, contrary to the express orders of General Schuyler; and Schuyler himself, at the head of only fifteen hundred men at Fort Edward, "without provision, with little ammunition, not above five rounds to a man, having neither balls, nor lead to make any—and the country in the deepest consternation," [FN-3] was obliged also to fall back in the direction of Albany. The blow was a severe one; but the Commander-in-chief possessed a soul equal to every crisis. No undue elevation of spirit followed his successes; neither did the clouds of adverse fortune, so frequently darkening the prospect of the American arms, sink him into despondency. [FN-4] Indeed, each succeeding calamity was but another test of his moral greatness, for he rose above them all.


[FN-1] Letter from General Schuyler to General Washington, July 9, 1777.

[FN-2] Letter from General Washington in reply.

[FN-3] Letter of Schuyler to Washington.

[FN-4] "This stroke is severe indeed, and has distressed us much. But, notwithstanding things at present have a dark and gloomy aspect, I hope a spirited opposition will check the progress of General Burgoyne's army, and that the confidence derived from his success, will hurry him into measures that will, in their consequences, be favorable to us. We should never despair. Our situation has before been unpromising, and has changed for the better; so, I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new exertions, and proportion our efforts to the exigency of the times."—Letterr of Washington to General Schuyler, July 15, 1777.

Nothing, however, could exceed the terror which these events diffused among the inhabitants, not only of Northern New-York, but of the New England States. The consternation was, moreover, increased by the reported murders and the cruelties of the savages—since all the efforts of General Burgoyne to dissuade them from the perpetration of their cruel enormities were ineffectual. Restrain them he could not; and it was admitted by the British writers of that day, that the friends of the Royal cause, as well as its enemies, were equally victims to their indiscriminate rage. It was even ascertained that the British officers were deceived by their treacherous allies, into the purchase of the scalps of their own comrades.

Among other instances of cruelty, the well-known murder of Miss Jane McCrea, which happened in the early part of the campaign, filled the public mind with horror. Every circumstance of this unnatural and bloody transaction—around which there lingers a melancholy interest to this day—served to heighten alike its interest and its enormity. Many have been the versions of this bloody tale. General Gates, who had at this juncture been most unjustly directed to supersede General Schuyler in the command of the Northern Department, assailed General Burgoyne in the newspapers with great virulence upon the subject of these outrages. After charging the British commander with encouraging the murder of prisoners, and the massacre of women and children, by paying the Indians a stipulated price for scalps, Gates, in a letter addressed to General Burgoyne, thus spoke of the case now specially under consideration:—"Miss McCrea, a young lady, lovely to the sight, of virtuous character and amiable disposition, engaged to an officer of your army, was, with other women and children, taken out of a house near Fort Edward, carried into the woods, and there scalped and mangled in the most horrid manner. Two parents, with their six children, were treated with the same inhumanity, while quietly resting in their own happy and peaceful dwelling. The miserable fate of Miss McCrea was particularly aggravated, by being dressed to receive her promised husband; but met her murderer, employed by you. Upward of one hundred men, women, and children, have perished by the hands of the ruffians to whom, it is asserted, you have paid the price of blood."

General Burgoyne replied, and repelled with indignation the charge of encouraging, in any respect, the outrages of the Indians. He asserted that from the first he had refused to pay for scalps, and had so informed the Indians at their council. The only rewards he gave them were for prisoners brought in, and by the adoption of this course he hoped to encourage a more humane mode of warfare on their part. In this letter Burgoyne said:—"I would not be conscious of the acts you presume to impute to me, for the whole continent of America, though the wealth of worlds was in its bowels and a paradise upon its surface." [FN-1] In regard to the hapless fate of Miss McCrea, General Burgoyne remarked:—"Her fall wanted not the tragic display you have labored to give it, to make it as sincerely abhorred and lamented by me as it can be by the tenderest of her friends. The act was no premeditated barbarity. On the contrary, two chiefs, who had brought her off for the purpose of security, not of violence to her person, disputed which should be her guard, and in a fit of savage passion in one, from whose hands she was snatched, the unhappy woman became the victim. Upon the first intelligence of this event, I obliged the Indians to deliver the murderer into my hands; and though to have punished him by our laws, or principles of justice, would have been perhaps unprecedented, he certainly should have suffered an ignominious death, had I not been convinced, from my circumstances and observations, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that a pardon under the terms which I presented and they accepted, would be more efficacious than an execution, to prevent similar mischiefs. The above instance excepted, your intelligence respecting the cruelty of the Indians, is false." [FN-2]


[FN-1] While these pages are passing through the press, the author has fallen upon a letter written from Montreal, and published in the Remembrancer for 1777, in which it was stated that a party of the Indians had returned to Montreal in a high state of dissatisfaction, because of the severity of Burgoyne's discipline toward them, and his refusal to tolerate their mode of warfare, or pay them their accustomed bounty for scalps. It was further stated that they waited upon Sir Guy Carleton with their complaints—liking their old "Father" much better than their new.

[FN-2] Vide Marshall's Life of Washington, Vol. I, Appendix.

The British commander doubtless labored to make the best of his case, and in respect to Miss McCrea, his statement was much nearer to the truth than that of General Gates. The actual circumstances of the case, stripped of its romance, were these:—Miss McCrea belonged to a family of loyalists, and had engaged her hand in marriage to a young refugee named Jones, a subordinate officer in the British service, who was advancing with Burgoyne. Anxious to possess himself of his bride, he despatched a small party of Indians to bring her to the British camp. Her family and friends were strongly opposed to her going with such an escort; but her affection overcame her prudence, and she determined upon the hazardous adventure. She set forward with her dusky attendants on horseback. The family resided at the village of Fort Edward, from whence they had not proceeded more than half a mile before her conductors stopped to drink at a spring. Meantime the impatient lover, who deserved not her embrace for confiding her protection to such hands, instead of going himself, had despatched a second party of Indians upon the same errand. The Indians met at the spring; and before the march was resumed, they were attacked by a party of the Provincials. At the close of the skirmish the body of Miss McCrea was found among the slain—tomahawked, scalped, and tied to a pine tree, yet standing by the side of the spring, as a monument of the bloody transaction. The name of the young lady is inscribed on the tree, the trunk of which is thickly scarred with the bullets it received in the skirmish. It also bears the date 1777. "Tradition reports that the Indians divided the scalp, and that each party carried half of it to the agonized lover." [FN] The ascertained cause of her murder was this. The promised reward for bringing her in safety to her betrothed, was a barrel of rum. The chiefs of the two parties sent for her by Mr. Jones, quarreled respecting the anticipated compensation. Each claimed it; and, in a moment of passion, to end the controversy, one of them struck her down with his hatchet.


[FN] Silliman's Tour from Hartford to Quebec. Vide, also, Marshall, Gordon, and others.

The tale was sufficiently painful according to the simple facts of the case, and its recital produced a thrill of horror wherever it came—enlarged and embellished, as it was sure to be in its progress, by every writer who could add to the eloquence of the narrative or the pathos of its catastrophe.

As the invader advanced, the inhabitants fled in the wildest consternation. The horrors of war, however mitigated by the laws and usages of civilization, are at all times sufficiently terrific; but when to these the fierce cruelties of a cloud of savages are superadded, those only who have been familiar with an American border warfare can form an adequate opinion of its atrocities. Among the fugitives driven from their peaceful abodes on the present occasion, was Mrs. Ann Eliza Bleecker, a lady who has been somewhat celebrated as one of the early poets of our country. She was the daughter of Mr. Brandt Schuyler of the city of New-York, and the wife of John J. Bleecker, Esq., of New Rochelle, whose enterprise, together with his lady's love for the wild scenery of the forest, had induced him to exchange a residence among the busy haunts of men for a solitary plantation in the vale of the Tomhanic—a mountain stream flowing into the Hoosic river, about twenty miles from Albany. Mr. Bleecker's residence lay directly in the march of Burgoyne, on whose approach he hastened to Albany to provide accommodations for his family. But a few hours after his departure, Mrs. Bleecker, as she sat at table received intelligence that the enemy, with tomahawk and brand, was within two miles of her residence. Instant flight was the only alternative. Taking one of her children in her arms and seizing the other by the hand, she started off on foot attended only by a young mulatto girl, and leaving her house and all its contents a prey to the Indians. The roads were encumbered by carriages, loaded with women and children, each intent upon his or her own safety; so that no assistance could be obtained, and her only recourse was to mingle in the fugitive throng, and participate in the common panic and common distress. Having traveled about five miles on foot, however, she succeeded in obtaining a seat for the children in a wagon which served to facilitate her march. On the following morning she was met by her husband, who conducted her to Albany, and from thence down the Hudson as far as Red Hook one of her children dying by the way. [FN]


[FN] The facts of this incident in the life of Mrs. Bleeker are taken from Kettel's biographical sketches of American poets. The memoirs of Mrs. B. together with her poems, were published many years ago, but I sought in vain among the libraries and the Bleekers to obtain a copy.—Author.

Amid this scene of desolation and affright, there was yet one woman whose proud spirit was undaunted. It was the lady of General Schuyler. The General's country-seat was upon his estate in Saratoga, standing upon the margin of the river. On the approach of Burgoyne, Mrs. Schuyler went up to Saratoga, in order to remove their furniture. Her carriage was attended by only a single armed man on horseback. When within two miles of her house, she encountered a crowd of panic-stricken people, who recited to her the tragic fate of Miss McCrea, and representing to her the danger of proceeding farther in the face of the enemy, urged her to return. She had yet to pass through a dense forest, within which even then some of the savage troops might be lurking for prey. But to these prudential councils she would not listen. "The General's wife," she exclaimed, "must not be afraid!" And pushing forward, she accomplished her purpose. [FN]


[FN] I have derived this incident, and also that respecting the General, which follows in the text, from Mrs. James Cochran of Oswego, who was the youngest daughter of General Schuyler.—Author.

Before the mansion was evacuated, however, the General himself had a narrow escape from assassination by the hand of a savage, who had insinuated himself into the house for that purpose. It was at the hour of bed-time, in the evening, and while the General was preparing to retire for the night, that a female servant, in coming in from the hall, saw a gleam of light reflected from the blade of a knife, in the hand of some person whose dark outline she discerned behind the door. The servant was a black slave, who had sufficient presence of mind not to appear to have made the discovery. Passing directly through the door into the apartment where the General was yet standing near the fire-place, with an air of unconcern she pretended to arrange such articles as were disposed upon the mantel-piece, while in an undertone she informed her master of her discovery, and said, aloud, "I will call the guard." The General instantly seized his arms, while the faithful servant hurried out by another door into a long hall, upon the floor of which lay a loose board which creaked beneath the tread. By the noise she made in trampling rapidly upon the board, the Indian—for such he proved—was led to suppose that the Philistines were upon him in numbers, sprang from his concealment and fled. He was pursued, however, by the guard and a few friendly Indians attached to the person of General Schuyler, overtaken, and made prisoner. Exasperated at his treachery, the friendly Indians were resolved to put him to death, and it was with much difficulty that they were diverted from their purpose by the General.

The effect of the incidents we have been detailing, and other recitals of savage cruelties, not all, as General Burgoyne represented, without foundation, was extensive and powerful. The cry of vengeance was universal; and a spirit was aroused which proved of speedy and great advantage to the American arms.




CHAPTER X.


Expedition against the Mohawk Valley from Oswego—Despondency of the people in Tryon County—Letter of John Jay—Arrest of several of the disaffected—Flight of others to Canada—Schuyler's complaints of the cowardice of the people—Great discouragements—Proclamation of General Herkimer—Letter from Thomas Spencer—St. Leger's approach—Caution and plan of his march—Diary of Lieut. Bird—Fort Stanwix invested—Colonel Gansevoort takes command—Its deplorable condition—Gansevoort joined by Willett—Story of Captain Gregg—Situation of the garrison—Arrival of St. Leger—His proclamation—Burgoyne's affairs becoming critical—Affair of Bennington—General Herkimer, with the Tryon County militia, advances to the relief of Gansevoort—Battle of Oriskany—Bloody upon both sides—Unexampled bravery of Captain Gardenier—Major Watts—Dissatisfaction of the Indians—Sortie and success of Colonel Willett—Death and character of General Herkimer.

Contemporaneously with the descent of Burgoyne upon Northern New-York, Colonel Barry St. Leger had been despatched from Montreal, by the way of the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario, to Oswego, there to form a junction with the Indians and loyalists under Sir John Johnson and Captain Brant. From Oswego, St. Leger was to penetrate by the way of Oneida Lake and Wood Creek to the Mohawk river, with a view of forming a junction from that direction with Burgoyne, on his arrival in Albany. The alarm everywhere felt on the approach of Burgoyne from the North, was greatly increased in Tryon County, on receiving intelligence of the contemplated invasion by the Indians and loyalists from the West, The news of this movement was first brought to the inhabitants by an Oneida half-breed sachem named Thomas Spencer, who came therewith direct from Canada, whither he had gone as a secret emissary to obtain information. Spencer stated that he had been present at a council held at the Indian castle of Cassassenny, at which Colonel Claus presided. [FN-1] According to Thomas's relation. Colonel Claus strongly urged the Indians to join in the expedition into the Mohawk Valley by the Western approach; boasting of the strength of the army under Burgoyne, which had gone against Ticonderoga, and the number of Indians with them, and before whom he assured them Ticonderoga would fall. "Yes," said Colonel Claus, "Ticonderoga is mine. This is true: you may depend on it, and not one gun shall be fired." Singularly enough, though improbable at the time, the prediction, as we have seen, was literally fulfilled. "The same," added the superintendent, "is true of Fort Schuyler. I am sure that when I come before that fort, and the commanding officer shall see me, he also will not fire a shot, but will surrender the fort to me." The Oneida sachem farther informed the people that Sir John Johnson and Colonel Claus were then at Oswego with their families, with seven hundred Indians and four hundred regular troops. There were also six hundred Tories on one of the islands above Oswegatchie preparing to join them; and Colonel Butler was to arrive at Oswego on the 14th of July from Niagara, to hold a council with the Six Nations, to all of whom he would offer the hatchet to join them and strike the Americans. [FN-2] Thomas thereupon concluded his communication in the following speech:—


[FN-1] Colonel Daniel Claus, a brother-in-law of Sir John Johnson, had either superseded Guy Johnson as Indian Superintendent in Canada, or been appointed a Deputy.

[FN-2] Referring, doubtless, to the Grand Council, of which an account is given in chapter VIII.

"Brothers: Now is your time to awake, and not to sleep longer; or, on the contrary, it shall go with Fort Schuyler as it went already with Ticonderoga.

"Brothers: I therefore desire you to be spirited, and to encourage one another to march on to the assistance of Fort Schuyler. Come up, and show yourselves as men, to defend and save your country before it is too late. Despatch yourselves to clear the brush about the fort, and send a party to cut trees in the Wood Creek to stop up the same.

"Brothers: If you don't come soon, without delay, to assist this place, we cannot stay much longer on your side; for if you leave this fort without succor, and the enemy shall get possession thereof, we shall suffer like you in your settlements, and shall be destroyed with you. We are suspicious that your enemies have engaged the Indians, and endeavor daily yet to strike and fight against you; and General Schuyler refuses always that we shall take up arms in the country's behalf.

"Brothers: I can assure you, that as soon as Butler's speech at Oswego shall be over, they intend to march down the country immediately to Albany. You may judge yourselves that if you don't try to resist, we shall be obliged to join them or fly from our Castles, as we cannot hinder them alone. We, the good friends of the country, are of opinion, that if more force appears at Fort Schuyler, the enemy will not move from Oswego to invade these frontiers. You may depend on it we are willing to help you if you will do some efforts too."

The counsel of the faithful Oneida was neither early enough, nor was it seconded with sufficient promptitude on the part of the inhabitants. Indeed, it must be confessed, that, as the storm of war rolled onward, gathering at once from different directions, and threatening daily to break upon them with increasing fury, many of the yeomen who had hitherto borne themselves nobly, began to falter. A spirit of disaffection had also been more widely diffused among the settlements than could have been supposed from the previous patriotic conduct of the people, while treason lurked in many places where least suspected. Upon this subject, and with special reference to the popular feeling and conduct in Tryon County, John Jay, then sitting in the State Convention at Kingston, addressed the following letter to Gouverneur Morris, a member of the Council of Safety, who was at that time with General Schuyler in the North:—

"John Jay to Gouverneur Morris.
"Kingston, July 21st, 1777.

"Dear Morris,

"The situation of Tryon County is both shameful and alarming. Such abject dejection and despondency, as mark the letters we have received from thence, disgrace human nature. God knows what to do with, or for them. Were they alone interested in their fate, I should be for leaving their cart in the slough till they would put their shoulders to the wheel.

"Schuyler has his enemies here, and they use these things to his disadvantage. Suspicions of his having been privy to the evacuation of Ticonderoga spread wide; and twenty little circumstances, which perhaps are false, are trumped up to give color to the conjecture. [FN] We could wish that your letters might contain paragraphs for the public. We are silent because we have nothing to say; and the people suspect the worst because we say nothing. Their curiosity must be constantly gratified, or they will be uneasy. Indeed, I do not wonder at their impatience, the late Northern events having been such as to have occasioned alarm and suspicion. I have not leisure to add any thing more, than that I am, very sincerely, yours, &c.

"John Jay."


[FN] Reference has already been made, in the text, to the injustice done toward General Schuyler during this memorable year. There was probably no officer in the service, the Commander-in-chief alone excepted, who was considered by the enemy so great an obstacle to the success of their arms. A narrow sectional prejudice existed against him in New England. The failure of the Canadian campaign had been most wrongfully attributed to him in 1776, and with equal injustice the fall of Ticonderoga was now charged to his remissness by his own countrymen. The enemy were not slow to avail themselves of these prejudices and groundless imputations, and through the agency of the Tories, the most artful and insidious means were employed to destroy the public confidence in his integrity and capacity. The flame of suspicion was fanned by them until it became general, and was openly avowed. Committees, towns, and districts, assembled, and passed resolves expressing their distrust in him, and both Congress and the Provincial Legislature of New-York were addressed upon the subject. General Schuyler, than whom there was not a truer patriot, nor a more earnest or active in the public service, was well aware of these movements. To a Committee of the Provincial Congress, who had formally communicated the charges to him, he returned an answer worthy of a brave and magnanimous soldier. The character of this answer will be understood from this single sentence:—"We must bear with the caprice, jealousy, and envy of our misguided friends, and pity them."

As early as the 10th of April, Colonel Robert Van Rensselaer wrote to a friend, that the Chairman of the County Committee had applied to him for the assistance of his militia, to quell an insurrection of the loyalists in Ballston; but such was the condition of his own regiment, that he was obliged to decline the request. The spirit of disaffection had become so prevalent among his men, that numbers of them had taken the oath of secrecy and allegiance to Great Britain. However, he added that seventeen of the villains had been arrested by the vigilance of the officers, and were then in confinement; and a hope was indulged of being able to detect the whole. [FN-1] Early in the following month the residue of the Roman Catholic Scotch settlers in the neighborhood of Johnstown ran off to Canada, together with some of the loyalist Germans—all headed by two men named McDonald, who had been permitted by General Schuyler to visit their families. The fact that the wives and families of the absconding loyalists were holding communication with them, and administering to their subsistence on the outskirts of the settlements, had suggested their arrest, and removal to a place of safety, to the number of four hundred—a measure that was approved by General Herkimer and his officers. [FN-2] Alarming reports of various descriptions were continually in circulation, and the inhabitants were harassed beyond measure by the necessity of performing frequent tours of military duty—acting as scouts and reconnoitering parties; and standing, some of them, as sentinels around their fields, while others did the labor. No neighborhood felt secure, and all were apprehensive that the whole country would be ravaged by the Indians; while parties of the disaffected were continually stealing away to augment the ranks of the enemy. Thus circumstanced, and at the very moment when they were called upon to reinforce Fort Schuyler, the Committees both of Palatine and Schoharie, feeling that they were not strong enough even for self-defence, were calling upon the Council of Safety at Albany to send additional forces for their protection. Mr. Paris wrote repeatedly upon the subject. The Schoharie Committee, on the 17th of July, wrote very frankly, that "the late advantages gained by the enemy had such an effect, that many who had been counted as friends of the State were drawing back. Our situation," he added, "is deplorable—excepting those who have sought protection from the enemy. We are entirely open to the Indians and Tories, whom we expect every hour to come upon us. Part of our militia are at Fort Edward; and of the few that are here, many are unwilling to take up arms to defend themselves, as they are unable to stand against so many enemies. Therefore if your honors do not grant us immediate relief to the amount of about five hundred men, we must either fall a prey to the enemy, or take protection also." [FN-3] On the 18th of July, General Schuyler wrote to the Hon. Pierre Van Courtlandt, from Saratoga, and again on the 21st from Fort Edward, to the same effect. "I am exceedingly chagrined," he says, "at the pusillanimous spirit which prevails in the County of Tryon. I apprehend much of it is to be attributed to the infidelity of the leading persons of that quarter. If I had one thousand regular troops, in addition to those now above and on the march, I should venture to keep only every third man of the militia, and would send them down. The substance of Colonel Harper's information had been transmitted about a month ago. In consequence whereof, I sent Colonel Van Schaick into Tryon County with as many troops as I could collect. After the improper agreement made by General Herkimer, [FN-4] these troops were marched back; but as soon as I was informed of the march, I ordered them to remain in Tryon County, where they are still, and I have sent up Colonel Wesson's regiment to reinforce them. But if I may be allowed to judge of the temper of General Herkimer and the Committee of Tryon County, from their letters to me, nothing will satisfy them unless I march the whole army into that quarter. With deference to the better judgment of the Council of Safety, I cannot by any means think it prudent to bring on an open rupture with the savages at the present time. The inhabitants of Tryon County are already too much inclined to lay down their arms, and take whatever terms the enemy may please to afford them. Half the militia from this (Tryon) County, and the neighboring State of Massachusetts, we have been under the necessity of dismissing; but the whole should go. I enclose you the proceedings of a council of General officers, held at this place on the 20th instant. You will perceive that we have been driven to the necessity of allowing some of the militia to return to their plantations. The remainder have promised to remain three weeks longer—that is to say, unless they choose to return sooner, which will doubtless be the case, and for which they have many reasons." [FN-5]


[FN-1] MS. documents in the Department of State, Albany.

[FN-2] MS. documents in the Department of State, Albany—Letter of Isaac Paris.

[FN-3] MS. correspondence of the Provincial Congress—Secretary's office, Albany.

[FN-4] Probably referring to the interview between Herkimer and Brant at Unadilla.

[FN-5] MS. Cor. Council of Safety—Secretary's office, Albany.

The complaints of General Schuyler were not without just foundation, as the reader has already seen. Indeed, both regulars and militia in Tryon County, seemed for the moment to have lost all the high qualities of soldiers or citizens. Of two hundred militiamen ordered to muster and join the garrison of Fort Schuyler, only a part obeyed; while two companies of regular troops, receiving the like orders, entered upon the service with great reluctance, and not without urging various excuses—complaining that service in scouting parties had unfitted them for garrison duty. [FN] Under circumstances of such discouragement, it was a time of peculiar trial to the officers and Committees of Safety. Tryon County had early espoused the cause of freedom, and apparently with greater unanimity than any other county in the State; and the extensive defection, or criminal apathy, which we have just been contemplating, was altogether unexpected. But a crisis was approaching, which necessity soon obliged them to meet. Accordingly, on the 17th of July, General Herkimer issued a patriotic proclamation to the inhabitants of the county, announcing the gathering of the enemy at Oswego, "Christians and Savages," to the number of two thousand strong, with the intention of invading the frontier, and calling upon the people en masse, to be ready at a moment's warning to repair to the field, with arms and accoutrements, on the approach of the enemy. Those in health, from 16 to 60 years of age, were designated for actual service; while those above 60 years of age, or invalids, were directed to arm for the defence of the women and children at whatever place they might be gathered in for safety. Concerning the disaffected, and those who might refuse to obey the orders, it was directed in the proclamation that they should be arrested, their arms secured, and themselves placed under guard to join the main body. All the members of the Committee, and all those who, by reason of having formerly held commissions, had become exempts from service, were invited to repair to the rendezvous, and aid in repulsing the foe; "not doubting that the Almighty Power, upon our humble prayers, and sincere trust in Him, will then graciously succour our arms in battle for our just cause, and victory cannot fail on our side."


[FN] Annals of Tryon County.

The Oneida Indians, who were sincerely disposed to favor the cause of the United States, but who, pursuant to the humane policy of Congress and the advice of General Schuyler, had determined to preserve their neutrality, beheld the approaching invasion from Oswego with no small degree of apprehension. The course they had marked out for themselves, as they were well aware, was viewed with displeasure by their Mohawk brethren, while the other members of their confederacy were obviously inclined to side with their "Uncle." [FN] Living, moreover, in the immediate neighborhood of Fort Schuyler, where St. Leger's first blow must be struck, they were not a little troubled in the prospect of what might happen to themselves. The watchful Thomas Spencer, therefore, despatched the following letter to the Committee on the 29th of July, which was received on the 30th:—


[FN] In the Six Nations, the Mohawks—the head tribe—were called "Uncle." The Oneidas were "the elder brother," &c.

"At a meeting of the chiefs, they tell me that there is but four days remaining of the time set for the king's troops to come to Fort Schuyler, and they think it likely they will be here sooner.

"The chiefs desire the commanding officers at Fort Schuyler not to make a Ticonderoga of it; but they hope you will be courageous.

"They desire General Schuyler may have this with speed, and send a good army here; there is nothing to do at New-York; we think there is men to be spared—we expect the road is stopped to the inhabitants by a party through the woods; we shall be surrounded as soon as they come. This may be our last advice, as these soldiers are part of those that are to hold a treaty. Send this to the Committee—as soon as they receive it, let the militia rise up and come to Fort Schuyler.

"To-morrow we are a-going to the Three Rivers [FN] to the treaty. We expect to meet the warriors, and when we come there and declare we are for peace, we expect to be used with indifference and sent away."


[FN] The junction of the Oneida, Seneca, and Oswego rivers—not "Three Rivers" in Canada.

"Let all the troops that come to Fort Schuyler take care on their march, as there is a party of Indians to stop the road below the fort, about 80 or 100. We hear they are to bring their cannon up Fish Creek. We hear there is 1000 going to meet the enemy. We advise not—the army is too large for so few men to defend the Fort—we send a belt of 8 rows to confirm the truth of what we say.

"It looks likely to me the troops are near—hope all friends to liberty, and that love their families, will not be backward, but exert themselves; as one resolute blow would secure the friendship of the Six Nations, and almost free this part of the country from the incursions of the enemy." [FN]


[FN] MS. letter among the papers of General Gansevoort. Thomas Spencer was a blacksmith, who had resided among the Cayugas, and was greatly beloved by the Indians.—Letter from General Schuyler to Colonel Dayton—Gansevoort papers.

The certainty that the invaders were thus approaching, the earnestness of the appeals of the Committee to the patriotism of the people, the influence of the proclamation of the German General, who was a much better man than officer, save only in the single attribute of courage; and, above all, the positive existence of a common danger from which there was no escape; were circumstances, together, not without their effect. And although the eleventh hour had arrived, yet the militia, and all upon whom the call to arms had been made, now began to move with a degree of alacrity and an exhibition of spirit that went far to atone for the unpatriotic, if not craven, symptoms already noticed.

Meantime, having completed his organization at Oswego, General St. Leger commenced his march upon Fort Schuyler, moving by the route already indicated, though with great circumspection. The name of this place of rendezvous has already recurred more than once, or twice, in the preceding pages. Its position was important, and it had been a place of renown in the earlier wars of the Colony. The river bearing the same name, which here pours Northwardly into Lake Ontario, is the outlet both of the Oneida and Seneca rivers, through which, and their tributary streams, it is connected with the chain of small lakes bearing the names of Oneida, Cazenovia, Skaneateles, Owasco, Cayuga, Seneca, and Canandaigua. Its estuary, of course, forms the natural opening into the rich district of country surrounding those lakes, which, down to the period of the present history, contained the principal towns of four of the Five Nations of Indians. During the wars between the French and Five Nations, Oswego was repeatedly occupied by the armies of the former. It was here that Count Frontenac landed, on his invasion of the Onondaga country in 1692, at which time, or subsequently, a considerable military work was erected on the western side of the river. During the war with France, which was closed in America by the conquest of Canada, it was in the occupancy of the Provincials and English. The expedition destined to descend the St. Lawrence upon Montreal, was assembled at this point in 1759, after the fall of Niagara, under General Shirley and Sir William Johnson, The army was encamped here several weeks, and finally broke up without attempting its main object—owing, as Sir William Johnson intimates in his private diary, to a want of energy on the part of Shirley. After the fall of Quebec and Montreal into the hands of the English, a battalion of the 55th regiment was stationed at Oswego, under Major Duncan, a brother of the naval hero of Camperdown. A new and far more formidable work was constructed upon the Eastern or North-eastern promontory, formed by the embouchure of the river into the lake. The new position was far better chosen for a fortress than the old; and, ultimately, before the Britons were dispossessed of it by the Americans, it became a work of somewhat formidable strength and dimensions. The situation is one of the most beautiful that can be imagined; and during the two or three years in which Major Duncan was in command, by the cultivation of a large garden, the laying out and improving of a bowling-green, and other pleasure-grounds, it was rendered a little paradise in the wilderness. [FN]


[FN] See Mrs. Grant's delightful book—"Memoirs of an American Lady," chapters xliv. to xlvii. inclusive.

All told, the army of St. Leger consisted of seventeen hundred men—Indians included. These latter were led by Thayendanegea. The order of their march, as beautifully drawn and colored, was subsequently taken, with the escritoire of the commanding General, and will be found on the subsequent page, accurately copied and engraved. The advance of the main body, it will be seen, was formed of Indians, marching in five Indian columns; that is, in single files, at large distances from each other, and four hundred and sixty paces in front of the line. From these columns of Indians, files were stretched at a distance often paces from each other, forming a line of communication with the advanced guard of the line, which was one hundred paces in front of the column. The right and left flanks were covered by Indians at one hundred paces, forming likewise lines of communication with the main body. The King's regiment moved from the left by Indian file, while the 34th moved in the same order from the right. The rear-guard was formed of regular troops; while the advance guard, composed of sixty marksmen, detached from Sir John Johnson's regiment of Royal Greens, was led by Sir John's brother-in-law, Captain Watts. Each corps was likewise directed to have ten chosen marksmen in different parts of its line, in case of attack, to be pushed forward to any given point as circumstances might require. [FN]


[FN] MS. directions found among the captured papers of St. Leger.




St. Leger's Order of March




From these extraordinary precautions, it may well be inferred that General St. Leger, who probably acted much under the advice of Sir John Johnson and the refugee Provincials, who must have been best acquainted with the country and the character of the enemy they were going to encounter, was not a little apprehensive of an attack by surprise while on his march.

In addition to the arrangements already indicated, a detachment from the 8th regiment, with a few Indians, was sent a day or more in advance, under the command of Lieutenant Bird. This officer pushed forward with spirit, but was somewhat annoyed by the insubordination and independent action of his allies. The following extracts from his private diary [FN] will not only disclose his own embarrassments, but illustrate the character of Indian warriors acting in concert with regular troops:—


[FN] MS. Diary of Lt. Henry Bird, captured from Gen. St. Leger by Col. Gansevoort.

"Tuesday, 28th July, 1777.—After going two miles, and no savages coming up, waited two hours for them. Sixteen Senecas arriving, proceeded to the Three Rivers [FN]—waited there two hours—seventy or eighty Messesaugues coming up, I proposed moving forward. They had stolen two oxen from the drove of the army, and would not advance, but stayed to feast. I advanced without Indians seven miles farther—in all nineteen miles. Posted four sentinels all night from a sergeant's guard of twelve men—relieved every hour—visited every half hour. All fires put out at 9 o'clock."


[FN] The junction of the Oneida, Seneca, and Oswego rivers.

"Wednesday—Set off next morning at six, having waited for the savages till that time, though none arrived. Ordered the boats to keep seventy rods behind each other—half the men keeping their arms in their hands, while the other half rowed. Ordered, on any of the boats being fired upon, that the men should jump ashore. The rest to support them with all expedition. Rowed all night. Encamped at Nine Mile Point.

"Thursday, July 30.—With twenty-seven Senecas and nine Messesaugues joined Mr. Hair's party. [FN] Many savages being with us, proceeded to Wood Creek, a march of fifteen miles. . . ."


[FN] Lieut. Hair—afterward killed.

"Friday.—The savages hinted an intention to send parties to Fort Stanwix, but to proceed in a body no farther. I called a council of the chiefs—told them I had orders to approach near the fort—that if they would accompany me, I should be content; but if they would not go, I should take the white people under my command, and proceed myself. The Messesaugues said they would go with me. The Senecas said I had promised to be advised by their chiefs—that it was their way to proceed with caution. I answered, that I meant only as to fighting in the bush, but that I had communicated my intentions to them in the former camp, of preventing them [the Americans meaning] from stopping the creek, [FN] and investing their fort. But since I had promised to be advised by them, I would take it so far as to wait till next morning—and would then certainly march by daybreak. After some counseling, they seemed pleased with what I had said, and said they would send out large scouts to prepare the way. Accordingly eight-teen or twenty set off this evening."


[FN] General Schuyler had directed the commanding officer of Fort Stanwix to obstruct the navigation of Wood Creek by felling trees therein.

On the 2d of August, however, Bird wrote back to his General that no savages would advance with him except Henriques, a Mohawk, and one other of the Six Nations, an old acquaintance of his. The letter continues:—"Those two, Sir, I hope to have the honor to present to you. A savage, who goes by the name of Commodore Bradley, was the chief cause of their not advancing to-day. Twelve Messesaugues came up two or three hours after my departure. Those, with the scout of fifteen I had the honor to mention to you in my last, are sufficient to invest Fort Stanwix, if you favor me so far as not to order to the contrary." [FN]


[FN] MS. of the original letter, among the Gansevoort papers.

St. Leger received this letter on the same day, at Nine Mile Point, whence he immediately despatched the following reply:—

"General St. Leger to Lieut. Bird.
Nine Mile Point, Aug. 2, 1777.

"Sir,

"I this instant received your letter containing the account of your operations since you were detached, which I with great pleasure tell you have been sensible and spirited; your resolution of investing Fort Stanwix is perfectly right; and to enable you to do it with greater effect, I have detached Joseph [Thayendanegea] and his corps of Indians to reinforce you. You will observe that I will have nothing but an investiture made; and in case the enemy, observing the discretion and judgment with which it is made, should offer to capitulate, you are to tell them that you are sure I am well disposed to listen to them; this is not to take any honor out of a young soldier's hands, but by the presence of the troops to prevent the barbarity and carnage which will ever obtain where Indians make so superior a part of a detachment; I shall move from hence at eleven o'clock, and be early in the afternoon at the entrance of the creek.

"I am, Sir, your most obt. and humble ser't. Barry St. Leger." "Lieut. Bird, 8th reg't." [FN]


[FN] MS. of the original letter, among the Gansevoort papers,—Vide, also, Campbell's Annals.

The investment of the fort was made by Lieut. Bird forthwith—Brant arriving to his assistance at the same time. But the result of the siege that followed proved that the British commander had grievously miscalculated the spirit of the garrison of Fort Stanwix, in his anticipations of a speedy capitulation. Still, his prudential order, the object of which was to prevent an unnecessary sacrifice of life at the hands of his Indian allies, calculating, of course, upon an easy victory, was not the less commendable on that account.

The situation of Fort Stanwix itself—or rather Fort Schuyler, as it must now be called—next demands attention. At the beginning of the year, as we have already seen, the post was commanded by Colonel Elmore of the State service. The term of that officer expiring in April, Colonel Peter Gansevoort, also of the State troops, was designated as Colonel Elmore's successor, by an order from General Gates, dated the 26th of that month. Notwithstanding the labors of Colonel Drayton, in repairing the works, the preceding year, Colonel Gansevoort found them in such a state of dilapidation, that they were not only indefensible, but untenable. A brisk correspondence ensued between that officer and General Schuyler upon the subject, from which it is manifest that, to say nothing of the miserable condition of his defences, with the prospect of an invasion from the West before him, his situation was in other respects sufficiently deplorable. He had but a small number of men, and many of those were sick by reason of destitution. [FN-1] Added to all which was the responsibility of the Indian relations confided to him by special order of General Schuyler on the 9th of June. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Letters among the Gansevoort papers.

[FN-2] "You will keep up a friendly intercourse with the Indians, and suffer no speeches to be made to them by any person not employed in the Indian Department; and when you have occasion to speak to them, let your speech be written, and a copy transmitted to me, that the Commissioners may be informed of every transaction with those people."—Schuyler's letter to Colonel Gansevoort. Colonel G. lost no time in holding a council with such of the chiefs and warriors as yet remained friendly, and he seems to have fully acquired their confidence. He delivered a sensible speech on the occasion, but it contains nothing requiring farther note.

Colonel Marinus Willett was soon afterward directed to join the garrison at Fort Schuyler with his regiment, and most fortunate was the selection of such an officer as Willett to cooperate with such another as Gansevoort; since all the skill, and energy, and courage of both were necessary for the situation. The work itself was originally a square fort, with four bastions, surrounded by a ditch of considerable width and depth, with a covert way and glacis around three of its angles; the other being sufficiently secured by low, marshy ground. In front of the gate there had been a drawbridge, covered by a salient angle raised in front of it on the glacis. In the centre of the ditch a row of perpendicular pickets had been erected, with rows of horizontal pickets fixed around the ramparts under the embrasures. But since the conclusion of the French war, the fort had fallen into decay; the ditch was filled up, and the pickets had rotted and fallen down; [FN-1] nor had any suitable progress been made in its reparation. Immediate exertions, energetic and unremitting, were necessary to repair, or rather to renew and reconstruct, the works, and place them in a posture of defence, should the long anticipated invasion ensue from that quarter. A more correct idea of the wretched condition of the post, even down to the beginning of July, may be found from the annexed letter:—[FN-2]


[FN-1] Willett's Narrative.

[FN-2] MS. copy, preserved among General Gansevoort's papers.

"Colonel Gansevoort to General Schuyler.
Fort Schuyler, July 4th, 1777.

"Sir,

"Having taken an accurate review of the state of the garrison, I think it is incumbent on me to inform your Excellency by express of our present circumstances. Every possible assistance is given to Captain Marquizee, to enable him to carry on such works as are deemed absolutely necessary for the defence of the garrison. The soldiers are constantly at work—even such of them as come off guard are immediately turned out to fatigue. But I cannot conceal from your Excellency the impossibility of attending fully to all the great objects pointed out in the orders issued to the commanding officer on the station, without farther assistance. Sending out sufficient parties of observation, felling the timber into Wood Creek, clearing the road from Fort Dayton, which is so embarrassed, in many parts, as to be impassable, and prosecuting, at the same time, the internal business of the garrison, are objects of the greatest importance, which should, if possible, be immediately considered. But while no exertions compatible with the circumstances we are in, and necessary to give your Excellency satisfaction with respect to all these interesting matters, shall be omitted, I am very sensible it is not in our power to get over some capital obstructions without a reinforcement. The enclosed return, and the difficulties arising from the increasing number of hostile Indians, will show to your Excellency the grounds of my opinion. One hundred and fifty men would be needed speedily and effectually to obstruct Wood Creek; an equal number will be necessary to guard the men at work in felling and hauling of timber. Such a deduction from our number, together with smaller deductions for scouting parties, would scarcely leave a man in the garrison, which might therefore be easily surprised by a contemptible party of the enemy. The number of inimical Indians increases. On the affair of last week only two made their appearance. Yesterday a party of at least forty, supposed to be Butler's emissaries, attacked Ensign Sporr with sixteen privates, who were out on fatigue, cutting turf about three quarters of a mile from the fort. One soldier was brought in dead and inhumanly mangled; two were brought in wounded—one of them slightly and the other mortally. Six privates and Mr. Sporr are missing. Two parties were immediately sent to pursue the enemy, but they returned without being able to come up with them. This success will, no doubt, encourage them to send out a greater number; and the intelligence they may possibly acquire, will probably hasten the main body destined to act against us in these parts. Our provision is greatly diminished by reason of the spoiling of the beef, and the quantities that must be given from time to time to the Indians. It will not hold out above six weeks. Your Excellency will perceive, in looking over Captain Savage's return of the state of the artillery, that some essential articles are very scarce. As a great number of the gun-bullets do not suit the fire-locks, some bullet-moulds of different sizes for casting others, would be of great advantage to us. Our stock of powder is absolutely too little; a ton, in addition to what we have, is wanted as the lowest proportion for the shot we have on hand. We will, notwithstanding every difficulty, exert ourselves to the utmost of our power; and if your Excellency will be pleased to order a speedy reinforcement, with a sufficient supply of provision and ammunition to enable us to hold out a siege, we will, I hope, by the blessing of God, be able to give a good account of any force that will probably come against us."

The picture is gloomy enough; and was rendered the more so from the mistakes of the engineer, a Frenchman, who had been employed by General Schuyler, and whom it was ultimately found necessary to arrest and send back to head-quarters. [FN] Colonel Willett had from the first doubted the capacity of Marquizee, and after his dismissal the work proceeded for the most part under his own immediate direction.


[FN] Willett's Narrative.

The garrison had likewise other difficulties to encounter. With the gathering of St. Leger's motley forces at Oswego, preparatory to his descent upon the Mohawk, the Indians, as has already been seen by Gansevoort's letter, began to appear in scouting parties in the circumjacent forests. The utmost caution was therefore necessary on leaving the fort, even for a short distance. It was during this critical period that the familiar incident of Captain Gregg and his faithful dog occurred, of which the following brief account was given by Colonel Gansevoort:—

"Col. Gansevoort to Gen. Schuyler, (Extract.)
Fort Schuyler, June 26, 1777.

"I am sorry to inform your Honor that Captain Gregg and Corporal Madison, of my regiment, went out a gunning yesterday morning, contrary to orders. It seems they went out just after breakfast, and at about 10 o'clock Corporal Madison was killed and scalped. Captain Gregg was shot through his back, tomahawked and scalped, and is still alive. He informs me that the misfortune happened about ten o'clock in the morning. He looked at his watch after he was scalped. He saw but two Indians. He was about one mile and a half from the fort, and was not discovered until two o'clock in the afternoon. I immediately sent out a party and had him brought into the fort, just after three o'clock; also the corpse of Madison. Gregg is perfectly in his senses, and speaks strong and hearty, notwithstanding that his recovery is doubtful." [FN]


[FN] MS. of the original draught, among Col. Gansevoort's papers.

There was little of romance in Colonel Gansevoort, and he related the incident with military brevity. The story, however, has often been told, with a variety of amplifications, particularly in regard to the wounded soldier's faithful dog, to whose affectionate sagacity he is said to have been indebted for his discovery, if not his life. According to the narrative of President Dwight, it appears that Gregg and his companion had been seduced into a fatal disobedience of orders, by the clouds of pigeons appearing in the adjoining woods. Immediately upon their fall, the Indians rushed upon them for their scalps, which they took—giving each a simultaneous cut upon the head with their tomahawks. The corporal had been killed by the shot, but Captain Gregg was only wounded. [FN] Feigning death, however, he had the presence of mind, and the fortitude, to submit to the subsequent torture without betraying himself by a groan or the quivering of a muscle. The Indians departing immediately, Captain Gregg crawled to his lifeless companion, and pillowed his head upon his body; while his faithful dog ran to a place at no great distance thence, where two men were engaged in fishing, and by his imploring looks and significant actions, induced them to follow him to the spot where lay his wounded master. Hastening to the fort, the fishermen reported what they had seen, and a party of soldiers being forthwith despatched to the place, the bodies of the wounded and the dead were speedily brought into the garrison, as we have seen from the Colonel's official account. Captain Gregg was severely wounded, independently of the scalping; and his case was for a long time critical.


[FN] It has been asserted in history, that St. Leger encouraged these isolated murders by large bounties for scalps. Twenty dollars is said to have been the price he paid; but his despatch to Lieut. Bird, before cited, does not corroborate the charge of such inhumanity. That despatch was a private document, moreover, not written for the light, or for effect, and must therefore be received as true. It was found among Col. Gansevoort's papers.

The friendly Indians, then chiefly, if not exclusively, Oneidas, though still acting and speaking in the name of the Six Nations, presented an address of condolence to Colonel Gansevoort on this occasion, to which the latter made a suitable reply, which alone has been preserved, and reads as follows:—

"Brother Warriors of the Six Nations: I thank you for your good talk.

"Brothers: You tell us you are sorry for the cruel usage of Captain Gregg, and the murder of one of our warriors; that you would have immediately pursued the murderers, had not General Schuyler, General Gates, and the French General, desired you not to take any part in this war; and that you have obeyed their orders, and are resolved to do so. I commend your good inclination and intention.

"Brothers: You say you have sent a runner to the Six Nations, to inform them of what has happened, and that you expect some of your chiefs will look into the affair, and try to find out the murderers. You have done well. I shall be glad to smoke a pipe with your chiefs, and hope they will do as they speak.

"Brothers: I hope the mischief has been done, not by any of our good friends of the Oneida nation, but by the Tories, who are enemies to you as well as to us, and who are ready to murder yourselves, your wives, and children, if you will not be as wicked as themselves.

"Brothers: When your chiefs shall convince me that Indians of the Six Nations have had no hand in this wicked thing, and shall use means to find out the murderers and bring them to justice, you may be assured that we will strengthen the chain of friendship, and embrace you as our good brothers. I will not suffer any of our warriors to hurt you."

The address contained two or three additional paragraphs in reference to other subjects. Captain Gregg recovered, and resumed his duties; and having served to the end of the war, lived many years afterward.

Another tragic incident occurred at nearly the same time. About noon, on the 3d of July, the day being perfectly clear. Colonel Willet was startled from his siesta by the report of musketry. Hastening to the parapet of the glacis, he saw a little girl running with a basket in her hand, while the blood was trickling down her bosom. On investigating the facts, it appeared that the girl, with two others, was picking berries, not two hundred yards from the fort, when they were fired upon by a party of Indians, and two of the number killed. Happily, she who only was left to tell the tale, was but slightly wounded. One of the girls killed, was the daughter of an invalid, who had served many years in the British artillery. He was entitled to a situation in Chelsea Hospital, but had preferred rather to remain in the cultivation of a small piece of ground at Fort Stanwix, than again to cross the ocean. [FN]


[FN] Willett's Narrative.

By the middle of July, the Indians hovering about the fort became so numerous, and so bold, as to occasion great annoyance. Large parties of soldiers could only venture abroad on the most pressing emergencies; and even one of these was attacked, several of its numbers killed and wounded, and the officer in command taken prisoner. The force of the garrison, at this time, consisted of about five hundred and fifty men—ill-supplied, as we have already seen, both with provisions and munitions of war. Fortunately, however, on the 2d of August, the very day of the investiture of the fort by the advance of St. Leger's army under Thayendanegea and Bird, Lieutenant Colonel Mellon, of Colonel Weston's regiment, arrived with two hundred men, and two batteaux of provisions and military stores. Not a moment was lost in conveying these opportune supplies into the fort. Delay would, indeed, have been dangerous; for at the instant the last loads arrived at the fort, the enemy appeared on the skirt of the forest, so near to the boats, that the captain who commanded them became their prisoner. [FN]


[FN] Willett's Narrative.

The command of Colonel Gansevoort now consisted of seven hundred and fifty men, all told; and upon examination it was ascertained that they had provisions for six weeks—with fixed ammunition enough for the small arms. But for the cannon they were lamentably deficient—having barely enough for nine rounds per diem during the period specified. A besieging army was before the fort, and its garrison was without a flag! But as necessity is the mother of invention, they were not long thus destitute. Stripes of white were cut from ammunition shirts; blue from a camblet cloak captured from the enemy; while the red was supplied from such odds and ends of clothes of that hue as were at hand. [FN] And, thus furnished, commenced the celebrated defence of Fort Schuyler.


[FN] Idem.

Such was the condition of Fort Schuyler at the commencement of the memorable siege of 1777—an event, with its attending circumstances, forming an important feature in the Northern border warfare of the Revolution, Colonel St. Leger [FN-1] himself arrived before the fort on the 3d of August, with his whole force—a motley collection of British regulars, Hessian auxiliaries, New-York loyalists, usually denominated "Johnson's Greens," together with numbers of the Canadians, and the Indians under Thayendanegea. Sir John Johnson, and Colonels Claus and Butler, [FN-2] were also engaged with him in the expedition. A flag was sent into the fort on the morning of that day, with a copy of a rather pompous proclamation from St. Leger, which, it was probably supposed, from its vaunting threats and lavish promises, might produce a strong impression upon the garrison. "The forces intrusted to my command are designed to act in concert, and upon a common principle, with the numerous armies and fleets which already display, in every quarter of America, the power, the justice, and, when properly sought, the mercy of the King." So commenced the proclamation. After denouncing "the unnatural rebellion" as having already been made the "foundation for the completest system of tyranny that ever God in his displeasure suffered for a time to be exercised over a froward and stubborn generation," and charging that "arbitrary imprisonment, confiscation of property, persecution and torture, unprecedented in the inquisitions of the Roman church, were among the palpable enormities that verified the affirmation"—and after denouncing "the profanation of religion," and other "shocking proceedings" of the civil authorities and committees in rebellion, the proclamation proceeded—"animated by these considerations; at the head of troops in the full powers of health, discipline, and valor; determined to strike where necessary, and anxious to spare when possible, I, by these presents, invite and exhort all persons in all places where the progress of this army may point, and by the blessing of God I will extend it far, to maintain such a conduct as may justify me in protecting their lands, habitations, and families." The object of his address was to hold forth security, and not depredation; he offered employment to those who would join his standard; security to the infirm and industrious; and payment in coin for all the supplies the people would bring to his camp. In conclusion, he said—"If, notwithstanding these endeavors, and sincere inclinations to effect them, the frenzy of hostility should remain, I trust I shall stand acquitted in the eyes of God and men, in denouncing and executing the vengeance of the State against the willful outcasts. The messengers of justice and of wrath await them in the field; and devastation, famine, and every concomitant horror that a reluctant, but indispensable prosecution of military duty must occasion, will bar the way to their return." [FN-3]


[FN-1] It is difficult, from the books, to determine what was at that time the precise rank of St. Leger. He has usually been called a Brigadier General. By some contemporary writers he was called Colonel St. Leger. But in General Burgoyne's despatches to Lord George Germaine, of August 20, 1777, he is repeatedly denominated Lieutenant-Colonel St. Leger. He is also called Colonel St. Leger by Bissett. But he, nevertheless, signed his name as a Brigadier-General in a letter to Col. Gansevoort, on the 9th of August.

[FN-2] At the breaking out of the war, John Butler was Lieutenant-Colonel of a regiment of the Tryon County militia, of which Guy Johnson was the Colonel and Jelles Fonda the Major. Sir John had been commissioned a General after the decease of his father.

[FN-3] For the proclamation, entire, see Appendix No. III. It is a copy, or nearly so, of the proclamation almost simultaneously issued by General Burgoyne, announcing his approach from Lake Champlain.

This manifesto, however, produced no effect, then or afterward. The siege had been anticipated, and the brave garrison, officers and men, had counted the cost and determined to defend the fortress to the last. Accordingly, hostilities commenced actively on the morning of the following day. The Indians, concealing themselves behind clumps of shrubbery and stumps of trees, annoyed the men who were employed in raising the parapets not a little with their rifles. Several were wounded; and it was found necessary immediately to station sharpshooters at suitable points, to watch opportunities, and fire in return. The 5th was spent in much the same manner, with the addition of the throwing of a few shells by the enemy—several of which fell within the fort, and some in the barracks. "On the evening of this day, soon after it was dark, the Indians, who were at least one thousand in number, spread themselves through the woods, completely encircling the fort, and commenced a terrible yelling, which was continued at intervals the greater part of the night." [FN]


[FN] Willett's Narrative.

Having thus commenced his operations, Colonel St. Leger found means of conveying the intelligence to General Burgoyne—not for a moment anticipating the distressing circumstances in which the Northern Commander-in-chief already found himself involved, though but mid-way in the career of victory. Harassed incessantly by the foes he had vanquished; unable to obtain supplies, except by sending back for them to Fort George, in which service his troops were already greatly fatigued; not one third of his horses arrived from Canada; the roads excessively bad, and rendered all but impassable by a deluge of rain; with only four days of provisions on hand; the vaunting General, who had boasted in the British capital that, with ten thousand men, he could march through the whole rebel country at pleasure, already found himself in an unenviable situation. But on learning the advance of General St. Leger, he instantly and justly considered that a rapid movement forward, at this critical juncture, would be of the utmost importance. If the retreating Americans should proceed up the Mohawk with a view of relieving Fort Schuyler, in the event of St. Leger's success against that place they would place themselves between two fires; or perhaps Burgoyne supposed that were such a movement to be made on the part of the Americans, he might yet throw his army between them and Albany, and thus compel them either to stand a general engagement or to strike off to the right, and by recrossing the Hudson higher up, secure a retreat into New England. If, on the other hand, the Americans should abandon Fort Schuyler to its fate, and themselves fall back upon Albany, he argued that the Mohawk country would of course be entirely laid open to him; his junction with St. Leger established, and the combined army be at liberty to select its future line of operation. [FN] But his supplies were inadequate to such an extensive operation, and his army was too weak to allow him to keep up such a chain of posts as would enable him to bring them up daily from the depot at Lake George. With a view, therefore, of obtaining immediate relief, and of opening a new source of supply, especially of cattle, from the upper settlements of New England, the expedition to Bennington, the place of deposite of provisions for the Provincial forces, was planned, and committed to a detachment of the Hessian troops, under Colonel Baum, for execution. The signal failure of this expedition was calculated still farther both to embarrass and depress the invaders; while the brilliant success of the militia under General Starke on that occasion, proving, as it had done, that neither English nor German troops were invincible, revived the drooping spirits of the disheartened; re-inspired the people with confidence of ultimate success; and was the source of universal exultation.


[FN] London Universal Magazine.

The progress of events brings us back to the lower Valley of the Mohawk. No sooner was the advance of St. Leger upon Fort Schuyler known to the Committee and officers of Tryon County, than General Herkimer, in conformity with the proclamation heretofore cited, summoned the militia of his command to the field, for the purpose of marching to the succor of the garrison. Notwithstanding the despondency that had prevailed in the early part of the Summer, the call was nobly responded to, not only by the militia, but by the gentlemen of the County, and most of the members of the Committee, who entered the field either as officers or private volunteers. The fears so generally and so recently indulged seemed all to have vanished with the arrival of the invader, and the General soon found himself at the head of between eight hundred and a thousand men, all eager for action and impatient of delay. Their place of rendezvous was at Fort Dayton, (German Flats,) in the upper section of the Mohawk Valley—and the most beautiful. The regiments were those of Colonels Klock, Visscher, Cox, and one or two others, augmented by volunteers and volunteer officers, who were pushing forward as though determined at all hazards to redeem the character of the county. Indeed, their proceedings were by far too impetuous, since they hurried forward in their march without order or precaution, without adequate flanking parties, and without reconnoitering the ground over which they were to pass. They moved from Fort Dayton on the 4th, and on the 5th reached the neighborhood of Oriskany, [FN-1] where they encamped. From this point an express [FN-2] was sent forward by General Herkimer to apprise Colonel Gansevoort of his approach, and to concert measures of co-operation. The arrival of the express at the fort was to be announced by three successive discharges of cannon, the report of which, it was supposed, would be distinctly heard at Oriskany—only eight miles distant. Delays, however, intervened, so that the messengers did not reach the fort until ten or eleven o'clock on the following morning; previous to which the camp of the enemy being uncommonly silent, a portion of their troops had been observed by the garrison to be moving along the edge of the woods down the river, in the direction of the Oriskany Creek. [FN-3] The concerted signals were immediately fired; [FN-4] and as the proposition of Herkimer was to force a passage to the fort, arrangements were immediately made by Colonel Gansevoort to effect a diversion of the enemy's attention, by making a sally from the fort upon the hostile camp, for which purpose two hundred men were detailed, consisting one half of Gansevoort's, and one half of the Massachusetts troops, and one field-piece—an iron three pounder. The execution of the enterprise was entrusted to Colonel Willett. [FN-5]


[FN-1] Probably the site of Whitestown. One of the MS. narratives in the author's possession says they crossed the river at old Fort Schuyler (now Utica.)

[FN-2] Adam Hehner accompanied by two other men.

[FN-3] Letter of Colonel Willett to Governor Trumbull of Connecticut.

[FN-4] MS. of Captain Henry Seeber, in the author's possession. See, also, Willett's Narrative.

[FN-5] Willett's letter to Governor Trumbull. The officers serving in this detachment were Captain Van Benschoten and Lieutenant Stockwell, who led the advance guard; Captains Allen, (of Massachusetts,) Bleecker, Johnson, and Swartwout; Lieutenants Diefendorf, Conyne, Bogardus, McClenner, and Ball; Ensigns Chase, Bailey, Lewis, Denniston, Magee, and Arnent. The rear-guard was commanded by Major Badlam.

It appears that on the morning of that day, which was the 6th of August, General Herkimer had misgivings as to the propriety of advancing any farther without first receiving reinforcements. His officers, however, were eager to press forward. A consultation was held, in which some of the officers manifested much impatience at any delay, while the General still urged them to remain where they were until reinforcements could come up, or at least until the signal of a sortie should be received from the fort. High words ensued, during which Colonels Cox and Paris, and many others, denounced their commander to his face as a Tory and coward. The brave old man calmly replied that he considered himself placed over them as a father, and that it was not his wish to lead them into any difficulty from which he could not extricate them. Burning, as they now seemed, to meet the enemy, he told them roundly that they would run at his first appearance. [FN-1] But his remonstrances were unavailing. Their clamor increased, and their reproaches were repeated, until, stung by imputations of cowardice and a want of fidelity to the cause, [FN-2] and somewhat irritated withal, the General immediately gave the order—"March on!" [FN-3] The words were no sooner heard than the troops gave a shout, and moved, or rather rushed forward. They marched in files of two deep, preceded by an advanced guard and keeping flanks upon each side. [FN-4]


[FN-1] Travels of President Dwight, vol. iii. p. 192.

[FN-2] MS. statement of George Walter, in possession of the author; also of Henry Seeber.

[FN-3] Statement of Adam Miller, in possession of the author.

[FN-4] It has been charged by most writers that even these ordinary precautions were not observed. Miller and Walter, however, both assert the fact.

Having, by 10 o'clock, proceeded rapidly forward to the distance of only two or three miles, [FN-1] the guards, both front and flanks, were suddenly shot down, the forest rang with the war-whoops of a savage foe, and in an instant the greater part of the division found itself in the midst of a formidable ambuscade. Colonel St. Leger, it appeared, having heard of the advance of General Herkimer, in order to prevent an attack in his intrenchments, had detached a division of Sir John Johnson's regiment of Greens, under Sir John's brother-in-law, Major Watts, Colonel Butler with his Rangers, and Joseph Brant with a strong body of Indians, to intercept his approach. [FN-2] With true Indian sagacity, Thayendanegea had selected a position admirably fitted for his purpose, which was, to draw the Americans, whom he well knew to be approaching in no very good military array, into an ambuscade. The locality favored his design. There was a deep ravine crossing the path which Herkimer with his undisciplined array was traversing, "sweeping toward the East in a semi-circular form, and bearing a Northern and Southern direction. The bottom of this ravine was marshy, and the road crossed it by means of a causeway. The ground, thus partly enclosed by the ravine, was elevated and level. The ambuscade was laid upon the high ground west of the ravine." [FN-3]


[FN-1] The battle ground is about two miles west of Oriskany, and six from Whitesborough.

[FN-2] In every account of this battle which has fallen under the author's observation, excepting that of Colonel Willett, Sir John Johnson is made the British commander at this battle. He was not in it at all, as will appear a few pages forward. Even the cautious and inquisitive President Dwight falls into the error, and carries it through his whole account.

[FN-3] Campbell's Annals.

The enemy had disposed himself adroitly, in a circle, leaving only a narrow segment open for the admission of the ill-starred Provincials on their approach. The stratagem was successful. Unconscious of the presence of the foe, Herkimer, with his whole army excepting the rear-guard, composed of Colonel Visscher's regiment, found himself encompassed at the first fire—the enemy closing up the gap at the instant of making himself known. By thus early completing the circle, the baggage and ammunition wagons, which had just descended into the ravine, were cut off and separated from the main body, as also was the regiment of Colonel Visscher, yet on the Eastern side of the ravine; which, as their general had predicted, instantly and ingloriously fled, leaving their companions to their fate. They were pursued, however, by a portion of the Indians, and suffered more severely, probably, than they would have done, had they stood by their fellows in the hour of need, either to conquer or to fall.

Being thrown into irretrievable disorder by the suddenness of the surprise and the destructiveness of the fire, which was close and brisk from every side, the division was for a time threatened with annihilation. At every opportunity the savages, concealed behind the trunks of trees, darted forward with knife and tomahawk to ensure the destruction of those who fell; and many and fierce were the conflicts that ensued hand to hand. The veteran Herkimer fell, wounded, in the early part of the action—a musket ball having passed through and killed his horse, and shattered his own leg just below the knee. [FN-1] The General was placed upon his saddle, however, against the trunk of a tree for his support, and thus continued to order the battle. Colonel Cox, and Captains Davis and Van Sluyck, were severally killed near the commencement of the engagement; and the slaughter of their broken ranks, from the rifles of the Tories and the spears and tomahawks of the Indians, was dreadful. But even in this deplorable situation the wounded General, his men dropping like leaves around him, and the forest resounding with the horrid yells of the savages, ringing high and wild over the din of battle, behaved with the most perfect firmness and composure. The action had lasted about forty-five minutes in great disorder, before the Provincials formed themselves into circles in order to repel the attacks of the enemy, who were concentrating, and closing in upon them from all sides. [FN-2] From this moment the resistance of the Provincials was more effective, and the enemy attempted to charge with the bayonet. The firing ceased for a time, excepting the scattering discharges of musquetry from the Indians; and as the bayonets crossed, the contest became a death struggle, hand to hand and foot to foot. Never, however, did brave men stand a charge with more dauntless courage, and the enemy for the moment seemed to recoil—just at the instant when the work of death was arrested by a heavy shower of rain, which suddenly broke upon the combatants with great fury. The storm raged for upward of an hour, during which time the enemy sought such shelter as might be found among the trees at a respectful distance; for they had already suffered severely, notwithstanding the advantages in their favor.


[FN-1] Walton's MS. account.

[FN-2] The first movement of this kind was made by Jacob Seeber, without orders, according to the narrative of Henry Seeber.

During this suspension of the battle, both parties had time to look about, and make such new dispositions as they pleased for attack and defence, on renewing the murderous conflict. The Provincials, under the direction of their General, were so fortunate as to take possession of an advantageous piece of ground, upon which his men formed themselves into a circle, and as the shower broke away, awaited the movements of the enemy. In the early part of the battle, the Indians, whenever they saw a gun fired by a militia-man from behind a tree, rushed upon and tomahawked him before he could re-load. In order to counteract this mode of warfare, two men were stationed behind a single tree, one only to fire at a time—the other reserving his fire until the Indians ran up as before. [FN-1] The fight was presently renewed, and by the new arrangement, and the cool execution done by the fire of the militia forming the main circle, the Indians were made to suffer severely; so much so, that they began to give way, when Major Watts [FN-2] came up with a reinforcement, consisting of another detachment of Johnson's Greens. [FN-3] These men were mostly loyalists, who had fled from Tryon County, now returned in arms against their former neighbors. As no quarrels are so bitter as those of families, so no wars are so cruel and passionate as those called civil. Many of the Provincials and Greens were known to each other; and as they advanced so near as to afford opportunities of mutual recognition, the contest became, if possible, more of a death struggle than before. Mutual resentments, and feelings of hate and revenge, raged in their bosoms. The Provincials fired upon them as they advanced, and then springing like chafed tigers from their covers, attacked them with their bayonets and the butts of their muskets, or both parties in closer contact throttled each other and drew their knives; stabbing, and sometimes literally dying in one another's embrace.


[FN-1] Campbell's Annals.

[FN-2] Brother of the late venerable John Watts, of New-York.

[FN-3] Campbell. The enemy, as on the march from Oswego, had posted a line of sentinels at short distances from each other, extending from St. Leger's intrenchments to the scene of action; so that communications could be interchanged rapidly, and at pleasure.

At length a firing was heard in the distance from the fort, a sound as welcome to the Provincials as it was astounding to the enemy. Availing themselves of the hint, however, a ruse-de-guerre was attempted by Colonel Butler, which had well-nigh proved fatal. It was the sending, suddenly, from the direction of the fort, a detachment of the Greens disguised as American troops, in the expectation that they might be received as a timely reinforcement from the garrison. Lieutenant Jacob Sammons was the first to descry their approach, in the direction of a body of men commanded by Captain Jacob Gardenier—an officer who, during that memorable day, performed prodigies of valor. Perceiving that their hats were American, Sammons informed Captain Gardenier that succors from the fort were coming up. The quick eye of the Captain detected the ruse, and he replied—"Not so; they are enemies; don't you see their green coats!" [FN-1] They continued to advance until hailed by Gardenier, at which moment one of his own soldiers, observing an acquaintance, and supposing him a friend, ran to meet him, and presented his hand. It was grasped, but with no friendly gripe, as the credulous fellow was dragged into the opposing line, and informed that he was a prisoner. He did not yield without a struggle; during which Gardenier, watching the action and the result, sprang forward, and with a blow from his spear leveled the captor to the dust and liberated his man. [FN-2] Others of the foe instantly set upon him, of whom he slew the second and wounded a third. Three of the disguised Greens now sprang upon him, and one of his spurs becoming entangled in their clothes, he was thrown to the ground. Still contending, however, with almost super-human strength, both of his thighs were transfixed to the earth by the bayonets of two of his assailants, while the third presented a bayonet to his breast, as if to thrust him through. Seizing this bayonet with his left hand, by a sudden wrench he brought its owner down upon himself, where he held him as a shield against the arms of the others, until one of his own men, Adam Miller, [FN-3] observing the struggle, flew to his rescue. As the assailants turned upon their new adversary, Gardenier rose upon his seat; and although his hand was severely lacerated by grasping the bayonet which had been drawn through it, he seized his spear lying by his side, and quick as lightning planted it to the barb in the side of the assailant with whom he had been clenched. The man fell and expired—proving to be Lieutenant McDonald, one of the loyalist officers from Tryon County. All this transpired in far less time than is necessarily occupied by the relation. While engaged in the struggle, some of his own men called out to Gardenier—"for God's sake, Captain, you are killing your own men." He replied—"they are not our men—they are the enemy—fire away!" A deadly fire from the Provincials ensued, during which about thirty of the Greens fell slain, and many Indian warriors. The parties once more rushed upon each other with bayonet and spear, grappling and fighting with terrible fury; while the shattering of shafts and the clashing of steel mingled with every dread sound of war and death, and the savage yells, more hideous than all, presented a scene which can be more easily imagined than described. [FN-4] The unparalleled fortitude and bravery of Captain Gardenier infused fresh spirits into his men, some of whom enacted wonders of valor likewise. It happened during the melee, in which the contending parties were mingled in great confusion, that three of Johnson's Greens rushed within the circle of the Provincials, and attempted to make prisoner of a Captain Dillenback. This officer had declared he would never be taken alive, and he was not. One of his three assailants seized his gun, but he suddenly wrenched it from him, and felled him with the butt. He shot the second dead, and thrust the third through with his bayonet. [FN-5] But in the moment of his triumph at an exploit of which even the mighty Hector, or either of the sons of Zeruiah might have been proud, a ball laid this brave man low in the dust.


[FN-1] Manuscript narrative of William Gardenier, in the possession of the author.

[FN-2] Idem.

[FN-3] The same whose private narrative has already been cited.

[FN-4] MS. of William Gardenier. It was in reference to these individual deeds of prowess, that the eloquent Gouveneur Morris thus spoke in his address before the New-York Historical Society:—"Let me recall, gentlemen, to your recollection, that bloody field in which Herkimer fell. There was found the Indian and the white man born on the banks of the Mohawk, their left hand clenched in each other's hair, the right grasping in a gripe of death, the knife plunged in each other's bosom; thus they lay frowning."

[FN-5] George Walter relates this incident, in his narrative, in the possession of the author. Walter was himself a witness of the fact, while lying wounded with two balls, by the side of General Herkimer.

Such a conflict as this could not be continued long; and the Indians, perceiving with what ardor the Provincials maintained the fight, and finding their own numbers sadly diminished, now raised the retreating cry of "Oonah!" and fled in every direction, under the shouts and hurrahs of the surviving Provincials and, a shower of bullets. Finding, moreover, from the firing at the fort, that, their presence was necessary elsewhere, the Greens and Rangers now retreated precipitately, leaving the victorious militia of Tryon County masters of the field. [FN]


[FN] It is an extraordinary fact, that every historian who has written of the battle of Oriskany, has recorded it as a defeat of the Provincials, from Marshall and Ramsay down, to say nothing of the British chroniclers. Such was also the author's impression until he undertook the present investigation. Captain Brant himself, in conversation with Samuel Woodruff, Esq. admitted that they were the victors; and all the written statements which the author has been able to procure from the survivors of that battle, bear the same testimony.

Thus ended one of the severest, and, for the numbers engaged, one of the most bloody battles of the Revolutionary war. Though victorious, the loss of the Provincials was very heavy; and Tryon County long had reason to mourn that day. Colonel Paris was taken prisoner by the enemy, and afterward murdered by the Indians. Several other prisoners were also killed by the savages, after they had been brought into Colonel Butler's quarters; and, as it was said, by the Colonel's own tacit consent, if not permission in terms. But the general character of that officer forbids the imputation. [FN-1] Major John Frey, of Colonel Klock's regiment, was likewise wounded and taken; and to show the more than savage fury burning in the bosoms of the men brought into conflict on this occasion, the disgraceful fact may be added, that his own brother, who was in the British service, attempted to take his life after he had arrived in Butler's camp. The Major saw his brother approaching in a menacing manner, and called out—"Brother, do not kill me! Do you not know me?" But the infuriated brother rushed forward, and the Major was only saved by the interposition of others. [FN-2] The whole number of the Provincial militia killed was two hundred, exclusive of wounded and lost as prisoners. Such, at least, was the American report. The British statements claimed that four hundred of the Americans were killed, and two hundred taken prisoners. [FN-3]


[FN-1] The late Doctor Moses Younglove, of Hudson, Columbia County, was the surgeon of General Herkimer's brigade. He was taken prisoner in this battle by a sergeant of Sir John Johnson's regiment. After his release he made a deposition setting forth many grievous barbarities committed, both by the Indians and Tories, upon the prisoners who fell into their hands that day. They were cruelly tortured, several of them murdered; and, as the Doctor had reason to believe, some of them were subsequently taken to an island in Lake Ontario, and eaten. This is scarcely to be believed. See Deposition of Dr. Younglove, Appendix No. IV.

[FN-2] MS. statement of Jacob Timmerman, in the author's possession.

[FN-3] "On the 5th I learned, from discovering parties on the Mohawk river, that a body of one thousand militia were on their march to raise the siege. On the confirmation of this news, I moved a large body of Indians, with some troops, the same night, to lay in ambuscade for them on their march. They fell into it. The completest victory was obtained. Above four hundred lay dead on the field, amongst the number of whom were almost all the principal movers of rebellion in that country."—Letter of Colonel St. Leger lo General Burgoyne, Aug, 11, 1777.

Retaining possession of the field, the survivors immediately set themselves at work in constructing rude litters, upon which to bear off the wounded. Between forty and fifty of these, among whom was the commanding General, were removed in this manner. The brave old man, notwithstanding the imprudence of the morning—imprudence in allowing a premature movement at the dictation of his subordinates—had nobly vindicated his character for courage during the day. Though wounded, as we have seen, in the onset, he had borne himself during the six hours of conflict, under the most trying circumstances, with a degree of fortitude and composure worthy of all admiration. Nor was his example without effect in sustaining his troops amid the perils by which they were environed. At one time during the battle, while sitting upon his saddle raised upon a little hillock, being advised to select a less exposed situation, he replied—"I will face the enemy." Thus, "surrounded by a few men, he continued to issue his orders with firmness. In this situation, and in the heat of the onslaught, he deliberately took his tinder-box from his pocket, lit his pipe, and smoked with great composure." [FN-1] At the moment the soldiers were placing him on the litter, while adjusting the blankets to the poles, three Indians approached, and were instantly shot down by the unerring rifles of three of the militia. These were the last shots fired in that battle. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Campbell. An officer, who was in the general staff at the battle of Leipzig, has related to the author a very similar incident in the conduct of old Blucher. He was not wounded; but he sat upon a hillock, issuing his orders and smoking his pipe, while the cannon balls were ploughing up the earth about him.

[FN-2] Narrative of Jacob Sammons, MS. The officers of the Tryon County militia killed or wounded in this battle were as follows:—In Colonel Frederick Visscher's regiment, Captains John Davis and Samuel Pettingill, killed; Major Blauvelt and Lieut. Groat taken prisoners and never heard of afterward; Captain Jacob Gardenier and Lieut. Samuel Gardenier wounded. In Colonel Jacob Klock's regiment, Major John Eisenlord, and Major Van Sluyck, and Captain Andrew Dillenback, killed; Captains Christopher Fox and John Breadbeg, wounded; Brigade Major John Frey, wounded and taken prisoner. In Colonel Peter Bellinger's regiment, Major Enos Klepsattle, Captain Frederick Helmer, and Lieut. Petrie, were killed. Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Bellinger and Henry Walradt were taken prisoners. In Colonel Ebenezer Cox's regiment, Colonel Cox and Lieut. Col. Hunt were killed; Captains Henry Diefendorf, and Robert Crouse, and Jacob Bowman, killed. Captain Jacob Seeber and Lieut. William Seeber mortally wounded. The surgeon, Moses Younglove, was taken prisoner. Among the volunteers not belonging to the militia, who were killed, were Isaac Paris, (then a member of the Legislature,) Samuel Billington, John Dygert, and Jacob Snell, members of the Committee of Safety. There was likewise a Captain Graves who fell, but to which regiment he belonged the author has not ascertained.

The loss of the enemy in this engagement was equally, if not more severe, than that of the Americans. The Greens and Rangers of Sir John Johnson and Colonel Butler must have suffered badly, although no returns were given in the contemporaneous accounts. Major Watts was severely wounded and left on the field, as was supposed, among the slain. His death was reported by Colonel Willett, in his letter to Governor Trumbull, and by other authorities. But such was not the fact. Reviving from faintness produced by loss of blood, some hours after the action, he succeeded in crawling to a brook, where, by slaking his thirst, he was preserved from speedy death, and in the course of two or three days was found by some Indian scouts, and brought into St. Leger's camp. [FN-1] But the Indians were the most roughly handled, they having lost nearly one hundred warriors, several of whom were sachems in great favor. Frederick Sammons, who had been detached upon a distant scout previous to the battle, returning some days afterward, crossed the battle-field, where, he says—"I beheld the most shocking sight I had ever witnessed. The Indians and white men were mingled with one another, just as they had been left when death had first completed his work. Many bodies had also been torn to pieces by wild beasts." [FN-2]


[FN-1] This statement respecting Major Watts was derived from the late Mr. John Watts, of New-York, his brother. As mentioned in the text, St. Leger, in his official report, did not state the number of his own killed and wounded. Colonel Butler, however, wrote to Sir Guy Carleton—"Of the New-Yorkers, Captain McDonald was killed, Captain Watts dangerously wounded, and one subaltern. Of the Rangers, Captains Wilson and Hare killed, and one private wounded. The Indians suffered much, having thirty-three killed and twenty-nine wounded; the Senecas lost seventeen, among whom were several of their chief warriors, and had sixteen wounded. During the whole action the Indians showed the greatest zeal for his Majesty's cause; and had they not been a little too precipitate, scarcely a rebel of the party would have escaped. Most of the leading rebels are cut off in the action, so that any farther attempts from that quarter are not to be expected. Captain Watts, of the Royal New-Yorkers, whose many amiable qualities deserved a better fate, lay wounded in three places upon the field two days before he was found."—Parliamentary Register.

[FN-2] MS. narrative of Frederick Sammons, in the author's possession.

It has been affirmed that the Indians were persuaded to join in this battle only with great difficulty, and not until they had been induced to sacrifice their reason to their appetites. It was very manifest that during the action many of them were intoxicated. The consequence was, that they suffered more severely than ever before. [FN-1] According to the narrative of Mary Jemison, the Indians, (at least the Senecas,) were deceived into the campaign. "They were sent for to see the British whip the rebels. They were told that they were not wanted to fight, but merely to sit down, smoke their pipes, and look on. The Senecas went to a man; but, contrary to their expectation, instead of smoking and looking on, they were obliged to fight for their lives; and in the end of the battle were completely beaten, with a great loss of killed and wounded." [FN-2]


[FN-1] Journal of General Lincoln.

[FN-2] Life of Mary Jemison.

The whole Indian force was led by Thayendanegea in person—"the great Captain of the Six Nations," as he was then called—and as the Cayugas had now likewise joined the Mohawks in alliance with the arms of England—the Onondagas adopting a doubtful policy, but always, in fact, acting against the Provincials—he must have had a large force in the field. Of the Senecas alone thirty-six were killed and a great number wounded. Captain Brant was accustomed, long years afterward, to speak of the sufferings of his "poor Mohawks" in that battle. Indeed, the severity with which they were handled on that occasion, rendered them morose and intractable during the remainder of the campaign; and the unhappy prisoners were the first to minister with their blood to their resentment. [FN] "Our town," says Mary Jemison, "exhibited a scene of real sorrow and distress when our warriors returned and recounted their misfortunes, and stated the real loss they had sustained in the engagement. The mourning was excessive, and was expressed by the most doleful yells, shrieks, and howlings, and by inimitable gesticulations."


[FN] In Mr. Samuel Woodruff's memoranda of his conversations with Brant, referred to in the introduction, it is noted as the admission of the latter, that "he and his Mohawks were compelled to flee in a dispersed condition through the woods, all suffering from fatigue and hunger before they arrived at a place of safety. Their retreat began at nightfall. They were pursued by a body of Oneidas, who fought with General Herkimer. The night was dark and lowery. Exhausted by the labors of the day, and fearful he might be overtaken by the pursuing Oneidas, Brant ascended a branching tree, and planting himself in the crotch of it, waited somewhat impatiently for daylight." There is evidently somewhat of error in this statement. The field of battle was not more than five miles from St. Leger's entrenchments, and the battle was ended at 2 o'clock P. M. Judge W. probably confounded this battle with another—perhaps that of the Chemung.

It was unfortunate that General Herkimer formed his line of march with so little judgment that, when attacked, his men were in no situation to support each other; and more unfortunate still, that he marched at all, so long before he could expect to hear the concerted signal for the diversion to be made in his favor by the sortie of Colonel Willett. The heavy rainstorm, moreover, which caused a suspension of the battle, had likewise the effect of delaying the sally for nearly an hour. It was made, however, as soon as it was practicable, and was not only completely successful, but was conducted with such ability and spirit by the gallant officer to whom it was confided, as to win for him the applause of the foe himself. [FN-1] In addition to the two hundred men detailed for this service, under Colonel Willett's command, as before stated, fifty more were added to guard the light iron three pounder already mentioned. With these troops, and this his only piece of mounted ordnance, Colonel Willett lost not a moment, after the cessation of the rain, in making the sally. The enemy's sentinels being directly in sight of the fort, the most rapid movements were necessary. The sentinels were driven in, and his advanced guard attacked, before he had time to form his troops. Sir John Johnson, whose regiment was not more than two hundred yards distant from the advanced guard, it being very warm, was in his tent, divested of his coat at the moment, and had not time to put it on before his camp was assailed. Such, moreover, were the celerity of Willett's movement and the impetuosity of the attack, that Sir John could not bring his troops into order, and their only resource was in flight. The Indian encampment was next to that of Sir John, and in turn was carried with equal rapidity. The larger portion of the Indians, and a detachment from the regiment of Sir John, were, at the very moment of this unexpected assault upon their quarters, engaged in the battle of Oriskany. Those who were left behind now betook themselves,—Sir John and his men to the river,—and the Indians to their natural shelter, the woods—the troops of Colonel Willett firing briskly upon them in their flight. The amount of spoil found in the enemy's camp was so great, that Willett was obliged to send hastily to the fort for wagons to convey it away. Seven of these vehicles were three times loaded and discharged in the fort, while the brave little Provincial band held possession of the encampments. Among the spoils thus captured, consisting of camp equipage, clothing, blankets, stores, &c. were five British standards, the baggage of Sir John Johnson, with all his papers, the baggage of a number of other officers, with memoranda, journals, and orderly books, containing all the information desirable on the part of the besieged. [FN-2] While Colonel Willett was returning to the fort, Colonel St. Leger, who was on the opposite side of the river, attempted a movement to intercept him. Willett's position, however, enabled him to form his troops so as to give the enemy a full fire in front, while at the same time he was enfiladed by the fire of a small field-piece. The distance was not more than sixty yards between them; and although St. Leger was not backward in returning the fire, his aim was nevertheless so wild as to be entirely without effect. The assailants returned into the fortress in triumph, without having lost a man—the British flags were hoisted on the flag-staff under the American—and the men, ascending the parapets, gave three as hearty cheers as were ever shouted by the same number of voices. Among the prisoners brought off by the victors, was Lieutenant Singleton, of Sir John Johnson's regiment. Several Indians were found dead in their camp, and others were killed in crossing the river. The loss to the enemy, particularly in stores and baggage, was great; while the affair itself was of still more importance, from the new spirit of patriotic enthusiasm with which it inspired the little garrison. [FN-3] For this chivalrous exploit Congress passed a resolution of thanks, and directed the Commissary General of military stores to procure an elegant sword, and present the same to Colonel Willett in the name of the United States.


[FN-1] London Universal Magazine, 1782.

[FN-2] "Among other things taken from the enemy, were several bundles of papers, and a parcel of letters belonging to our garrison, which they had taken from our militia, but not yet opened. Here I found one letter for myself; there were likewise papers belonging to Sir John Johnson, and several others of the enemy's officers, with letters to and from General St. Leger, the commander. These letters have been of some service to us."—Colonel Willett's letter to Governor Trumbull.

[FN-3] In this account of the sortie, the author has adopted almost the very language of the brave Colonel himself, in his Narrative. As he led the affair, and was of course the best qualified to describe it, the author could do no better than take his own words. In tracing the progress of the siege, it will be often necessary to draw from the same indisputable source.

General Herkimer did not long survive the battle. He was conveyed to his own house [FN-1] near the Mohawk river, a few miles below the Little Falls; where his leg, which had been shattered five or six inches below the knee, was amputated about ten days after the battle, by a young French surgeon in the army of General Arnold, and contrary to the advice of the General's own medical adviser, the late Doctor Petrie. But the operation was unskillfully performed, [FN-2] and it was found impossible by his attendants to stanch the blood. Colonel Willett called to see the General soon after the operation. He was sitting up in his bed, with a pipe in his mouth, smoking, and talking in excellent spirits. He died the night following that visit. His friend, Colonel John Roff, was present at the amputation, and affirmed that he bore the operation with uncommon fortitude. He was likewise with him at the time of his death. The blood continuing to flow—there being no physician in immediate attendance—and being himself satisfied that the time of his departure was nigh, the veteran directed the Holy Bible to be brought to him. He then opened it and read, in the presence of those who surrounded his bed, with all the composure which it was possible for any man to exhibit, the thirty-eighth psalm—applying it to his own situation. [FN-3] He soon afterward expired; and it may well be questioned whether the annals of man furnish a more striking example of Christian heroism—calm, deliberate, and firm in the hour of death—than is presented in this remarkable instance. Of the early history of General Herkimer but little is known. It has been already stated that his family was one of the first of the Germans who planted themselves in the Mohawk Valley. And the massive stone mansion, yet standing at German Flats, bespeaks its early opulence. He was an uneducated man—with, if possible, less skill in letters, even than General Putnam, which is saying much. But he was, nevertheless, a man of strong and vigorous understanding—destitute of some of the essential requisites of generalship, but of the most cool and dauntless courage. These traits were all strikingly disclosed in the brief and bloody expedition to Oriskany. But he must have been well acquainted with that most important of all books—The Bible. Nor could the most learned biblical scholar, lay or clerical, have selected a portion of the Sacred Scriptures more exactly appropriate to the situation of the dying soldier, than that to which he himself spontaneously turned. If Socrates died like a philosopher, and Rousseau like an unbelieving sentimentalist. General Herkimer died like a Christian Hero. Congress passed a resolution requesting the Governor and Council of New-York to erect a monument, at the expense of the United States, to the memory of this brave man, of the value of five hundred dollars. This resolution was transmitted to the Governor of New-York, George Clinton, in a letter from which the following passage is quoted:—"Every mark of distinction shown to the memory of such illustrious men as offer up their lives for the liberty and happiness of their country, reflects real honor on those who pay the tribute; and by holding up to others the prospect of fame and immortality, will animate them to tread in the same path." Governor Clinton thus wrote to the Committee of Tryon County on the occasion:—"Enclosed you have a letter and resolves of Congress, for erecting a monument to the memory of your late gallant General. While with you I lament the cause, I am impressed with a due sense of the great and justly merited honor the Continent has, in this instance, paid to the memory of that brave man." Such were the feelings of respect for the services and memory of the deceased entertained by the great men of that day. Sixty years have since rolled away, and the journal of Congress is the only monument, and the resolution itself the only inscription, which as yet testify the gratitude of the republic to General Nicholas Herkimer.


[FN-1] Yet standing, 1837.

[FN-2] Col. Roff's statement—MS. in possession of the author.

[FN-3] Statement of Colonel Roff, in possession of the author.




CHAPTER XI.


Siege of Fort Schuyler continued—Forced letter from prisoners to Col. Gansevoort—St. Leger summons the garrison to surrender—Refusal of Gansevoort—Appeal of Sir John Johnson to the people of Tryon County—Secret expedition of Colonel Willett and Major Stockwell—Schuyler orders Arnold to the relief of Gansevoort—Willett proceeds to Albany—Arrest of Walter Butler, and others, at German Flats—Tried and convicted as a spy—Reprieved—Sent to Albany—Escapes—Arnold's proclamation—Advance of the besiegers—Uneasiness of the garrison—Sudden flight of St. Leger and his forces—Stratagem of Arnold—Story of Hon-Yost Schuyler—Merriment and mischief of the Indians—Arrival of Arnold at the Fort—The spoils of victory—Public estimation of Gansevoort's services—Address to his soldiers—His promotion—Address of his officers.

Though in fact defeated at Oriskany, the enemy claimed, as we have seen, a victory. In one sense, it is true, the achievement was theirs. They had prevented the advance of the Americans to the succor of the fort; and on their retreat the Americans were unable to pursue. Still the field was won, and retained by them. [FN-1] Availing himself of his questionable success, however, and well knowing that days must probably elapse before the garrison could become apprised of the whole circumstances of the engagement and its issue, St. Leger lost no time in endeavoring, by false representations, to press the besieged to a capitulation. On the same night of the battle, therefore, at 9 o'clock, Colonel Bellinger and Major Frey, being in St. Leger's camp as prisoners, were compelled to address a note to Colonel Gansevoort, greatly exaggerating the disasters of the day, and strongly urging a surrender. In this letter they spoke of the defeat at Oriskany, of the impossibility of receiving any farther succor from below—of the formidable force of St. Leger, together with his train of artillery—announced the probable fact that Burgoyne and his army were then before Albany, and stated that longer resistance would only result in "inevitable ruin and destruction." [FN-2] The letter was transmitted to Colonel Gansevoort by St. Leger's Adjutant-general, Colonel Butler, who, in delivering it, made a verbal demand of surrender. Colonel Gansevoort replied that he would give no answer to a verbal summons, unless delivered by Colonel St. Leger himself, but at the mouth of his cannon.


[FN-1] It was alleged, in some of the contemporaneous accounts, that the forces engaged with Herkimer were ordered back in consequence of the sortie of Willett. That circumstance, however, does not alter the essential facts of the case. The victory was the same.

[FN-2] See Appendix, No. V. for a copy of this letter, written while under duress.

On the following day a white flag approached the garrison, with a request that Colonel Butler, and two other officers, might be admitted into the fort as bearers of a message to the commanding officer. Permission being granted, those officers were conducted blind-folded into the fort, and received by Colonel Gansevoort in his dining-room. The windows of the room were shut, and candles lighted; a table was also spread, upon which were placed some slight refreshments. Colonels Willett and Mellen were present at the interview, together with as many of the American officers as could be accommodated in the quarters of their commander. After the officers were seated and the wine had been passed around, Major Ancrom, one of the messengers, addressed Colonel Gansevoort in substance as follows:—

"I am directed by Colonel St. Leger, the officer commanding the army now investing this garrison, to inform the commandant that the Colonel has, with much difficulty, prevailed on the Indians to agree, that if the garrison, without farther resistance, shall be delivered up, with the public stores belonging to it, to the investing army, the officers and soldiers shall have all their baggage and private property secured to them. And in order that the garrison may have a sufficient pledge to this effect, Colonel Butler accompanies me to assure them, that not a hair of the head of any one of them shall be hurt." (Here turning to Colonel Butler, he said, "That, I think, was the expression they made use of, was it not?"—to which the Colonel answered, "Yes.") "I am likewise directed to remind the commandant, that the defeat of General Herkimer must deprive the garrison of all hopes of relief, especially as General Burgoyne is now in Albany; so that, sooner or later, the fort must fall into our hands. Colonel St. Leger, from an earnest desire to prevent farther bloodshed, hopes these terms will not be refused; as in this case it will be out of his power to make them again. It was with great difficulty the Indians consented to the present arrangement, as it will deprive them of that plunder which they always calculate upon on similar occasions. Should, then, the present terms be rejected, it will be out of the power of the Colonel to restrain the Indians, who are very numerous and much exasperated, not only from plundering the property, but destroying the lives, probably, of the greater part of the garrison. Indeed, the Indians are so exceedingly provoked and mortified by the losses they have sustained in the late actions, having had several of their favorite chiefs killed, that they threaten—and the Colonel, if the present arrangements should not be entered into, will not be able to prevent them from executing their threats—to march down the country, and destroy the settlement, with its inhabitants. In this case, not only men, but women and children, will experience the sad effects of their vengeance. These considerations, it is ardently hoped, will produce a proper effect, and induce the commandant, by complying with the terms now offered, to save himself from future regret, when it will be too late."

This singular oration was of course delivered extemporaneously, as also was the following reply by Colonel Willett, with the approbation of Colonel Gansevoort:—

"Do I understand you, Sir? I think you say, that you come from a British colonel, who is commander of the army that invests this fort; and by your uniform, you appear to be an officer in the British service. You have made a long speech on the occasion of your visit, which, stripped of all its superfluities, amounts to this—that you come from a British colonel, to the commandant of this garrison, to tell him, that if he does not deliver up the garrison into the hands of your Colonel, he will send his Indians to murder our women and children. You will please to reflect, sir, that their blood will be on your head, not on ours. We are doing our duty; this garrison is committed to our charge, and we will take care of it. After you get out of it, you may turn round and look at its outside, but never expect to come in again, unless you come a prisoner. I consider the message you have brought, a degrading one for a British officer to send, and by no means reputable for a British officer to carry. For my own part, I declare, before I would consent to deliver this garrison to such a murdering set as your array, by your own account, consists of, I would suffer my body to be filled with splinters, and set on fire, as you know has at times been practised, by such hordes of women and children killers as belong to your army."

Colonel Willett observes in his narrative, whence these facts are drawn, that in the delivery he looked the British major full in the face; and that he spoke with emphasis is not doubted. The sentiments contained in this reply were received with universal applause by the Provincial officers, who, far from being intimidated by the threats of the messengers, were at once impressed with the idea that such pressing efforts to induce a capitulation could only be the effect of doubt, on the part of the enemy himself, of his ability either to sustain the siege or carry the works by assault. Before the interview was closed, Major Ancrom requested that an English surgeon who was with him might be permitted to visit the British wounded in the garrison, which request was granted. Major Ancrom also proposed an armistice for three days, which was likewise agreed to by Colonel Gansevoort—the more readily, probably, because of his scanty supply of ammunition.

On the 9th of August, Colonel Gansevoort having refused to recognize any verbal messages from the British commander, Colonel St. Leger transmitted the substance of Major Ancrom's speech in the form of a letter—protesting that no indignity was intended by the delivery of such a message—a message that had been insisted upon categorically by the Indians—and formally renewing the summons of a surrender—adding, that the Indians were becoming exceedingly impatient, and if the proposition should be rejected, the refusal would be attended with very fatal consequences, not only to the garrison, but to the whole country of the Mohawk river. [FN]


[FN] See Appendix, No. VI.

The reply of Colonel Gansevoort was written with soldierly brevity, in the following words:—

"Col. Gansevoort to Col. St. Leger.
Fort Schuyler, Aug. 9th, 1777.

"Sir,

"Your letter of this day's date I have received, in answer to which I say, that it is my determined resolution, with the forces under my command, to defend this fort to the last extremity, in behalf of the United American States, who have placed me here to defend it against all their enemies.

"I have the honor to be, Sir, Your most ob't. humble serv't., Peter Gansevoort, Col. commanding Fort Schuyler. "Gen. Barry St. Leger." [FN]


[FN] Copied, by the author, from the original draft, found among the Gansevoort papers.

Failing in these attempts to induce a surrender, the besiegers, four days afterward, had recourse to another expedient. It was the issuing of an appeal to the inhabitants of Tryon County, signed by Sir John Johnson, Colonel Claus, and Colonel John Butler, similar in its tenor to the verbal and written messages of St. Leger to Colonel Gansevoort. The appeal commenced with strong protestations of a desire for the restoration of peace, with a promise of pardon, and oblivion for the past, notwithstanding the many and great injuries the signers had received, upon a proper submission by the people. They, too, were threatened with the ravages of a victorious army, and the resentment of the Indians for the losses they had sustained at Oriskany, in the event of rejecting this appeal. In regard to the garrison of Fort Schuyler, its longer resistance was pronounced "mulish obstinacy," and the people of the Mohawk Valley were urged to send up a deputation of their principal men, to oblige the garrison to do at once what they must be forced to do soon—surrender. If they did not surrender, the threat was again repeated that every soul would be put to death by the Indians. [FN] Messengers were despatched with this document into Tryon County, but to no good purpose; while, as will soon appear, some of those messengers were involved in serious difficulty by their errand.


[FN] See Appendix, No. VII. I have found this document only in The Remembrancer for 1777, page 451.

But if Colonel Willett's success in the brilliant execution of the sortie on the 6th, entitled him, as it unquestionably did, to the commendations he received, a still more perilous enterprise, undertaken by him a few days afterward, was thought, alike by friends and foes, to entitle him to still greater applause. The artillery of the besiegers was not sufficiently heavy to make any impression upon the works, and there was every probability that the garrison might hold out until succors should be obtained, could their situation be made known. Colonel Willett was not only well acquainted, but exceedingly popular, in Tryon County; and it was supposed that, should he show himself personally among the militia of that district, notwithstanding the extent of their suffering in the late expedition, he might yet rally a force sufficient to raise the siege. The bold project was therefore conceived by him of passing by night, in company with another officer, through the enemy's works, and, regardless of the danger from the prowling savages, making his way through some forty or fifty miles of sunken morasses and pathless woods, in order to raise the County and bring relief. [FN-1] Selecting Major Stockwell for his companion. Colonel Willett undertook the expedition on the 10th, and left the fort at ten o'clock that night, each armed with nothing but a spear, and provided only with a small supply of crackers and cheese, a small canteen of spirits, and in all other respects unincumbered, even by a blanket. Having escaped from the sally-port, they crept upon their hands and knees along the edge of a morass to the river, which they crossed by crawling over upon a log, and succeeded in getting off unperceived by the sentinels of the enemy, although passing very near to them. Their first advance was into a deep-tangled forest in which, enveloped in thick darkness, they lost their direction, and found it impossible to proceed. While in this state of uncertainty, the barking of a dog added little to their comfort, inasmuch as it apprized them that they were not far from a new Indian encampment, formed subsequent to the sortie a few days before. They were therefore compelled to stand perfectly still for several hours, and until the morning star appeared to guide their way. Striking first in a Northern direction for several miles, and then Eastwardly, they traced a zig-zag course, occasionally adopting the Indian method of concealing their trail by walking in the channels of streams, and by stepping on stones along the river's edge. In this way they traveled the whole of the ensuing day without making a single halt. On the approach of night they dared not to strike a light, but lay down to sleep, interlocked in each other's arms. Pursuing their journey on the 12th, their little stock of provisions being exhausted, they fed upon raspberries and blackberries, of which they found an abundance in an opening occasioned by a windfall. Thus refreshed, they pushed forward with renewed vigor and at an accelerated pace, and arrived at Fort Dayton at three o'clock in the afternoon. [FN-2]


[FN-1] British Universal Magazine.

[FN-2] "So successful was Colonel Willett in all his movements, that the Indians, believing him to be possessed of supernatural power, gave to him the name of the Devil."—Campbell.

The Colonel and his friend received a hearty welcome from Colonel Weston, whose regiment was then in charge of Fort Dayton, and from whom he obtained the agreeable intelligence that, on learning the news of General Herkimer's disaster. General Schuyler had ordered Generals Arnold and Larned, with the Massachusetts brigade, to march to the relief of Colonel Gansevoort. Colonel Willett thereupon took horse immediately for Albany to meet General Arnold, who was to command the expedition; and in four days afterward accompanied Arnold back to Fort Dayton, where the troops were assembling. The first New-York regiment had been added to the brigade of General Larned, who was yet in the rear, bringing up the heavy baggage and stores.

During Willett's brief absence to Albany, an incident occurred in the neighborhood of Fort Dayton, showing that if he had been active in his attempts to bring succors to the fort, the enemy, on the other hand, had not been idle. About two miles above Fort Dayton resided a Mr. Shoemaker, a disaffected gentleman, who had been in his Majesty's commission of the peace. Having heard of a clandestine meeting of Tories at the house of that gentleman, Colonel Weston despatched a detachment of troops thither, which came upon the assemblage by surprise, and took them all prisoners. Among them was Lieutenant Walter N. Butler, from St. Leger's army, who, with fourteen white soldiers and the same number of Indians, [FN-1] had visited the German Flats secretly, with the appeal of Sir John Johnson, Claus, and the elder Butler, referred to in a preceding page, for the purpose of persuading the timid and disaffected inhabitants to abandon the Provincial cause, and enroll themselves with the King's army before Fort Schuyler. Butler was in the midst of his harangue to the meeting at the moment of the unwelcome surprise. General Arnold ordered a court-martial, and caused him to be tried as a spy. [FN-2] Of this tribunal Colonel Willett officiated as Judge Advocate. The Lieutenant was convicted, and received sentence of death; but at the intercession of a number of officers, who had known him while a student at law in Albany, his life was spared by a reprieve. He was, however, removed to Albany and closely imprisoned until the Spring of the following year. When General the Marquis de Lafayette assumed the command of the Northern department, the friends of the Butler family, in consequence, as it was alleged, of his ill-health, interceded for a mitigated form of imprisonment. He was then removed to a private house and kept under guard, but shortly afterward effected his escape—owing, it was reported, to treachery—and was subsequently distinguished as one of the severest scourges of the beautiful valley which had given him birth.


[FN-1] The Remembrancer for 1777, page 395.

[FN-2] The Remembrancer states that Butler came "on a truce to the inhabitants of the County." But if he did bear a flag, it could be no protection for such a mission—as it was not.

The address of Johnson, Claus, and Butler, having been thus introduced among the people of the County, Arnold issued a proclamation from Fort Dayton for the purpose of counteracting its influence. It was couched in severe language in regard to St. Leger and his heterogeneous army—denounced those of the people who might be seduced by his arts to enroll themselves under the banner of the king—but promised pardon to all, whether Americans, Savages, Germans, or Britons, who might return to their duty to the States. [FN]


[FN] See Appendix, No. VIII.

Meantime Colonel St. Leger was pushing his operations before the fort with considerable vigor. Every effort to intimidate the garrison having failed, and the commander exhibiting an unsubmitting spirit, St. Leger "commenced approaching by sap, and had formed two parallels, the second of which brought him near the edge of the glacis; but the fire of musketry from the covert way rendered his farther progress very difficult." [FN] The fire of his ordnance producing no effect, his only means of annoying the garrison was by throwing shells; but these proved of so little consequence as to afford a discouraging prospect of success. Having advanced, however, within one hundred and fifty yards, it is not to be denied that some uneasiness began to be manifested within the garrison. Ignorant of the fate of Colonel Willett and Major Stockwell, and entirely cut off from all communication from without, their provisions daily exhausting, and having no certain prospect of relief, some of the officers commenced speaking in whispers of the expediency of saving the garrison from a re-enactment of the Fort William Henry tragedy, by acceding to St. Leger's proffered terms of capitulation. Not so the commander. After weighing well the circumstances of the case, he came to the deliberate resolve, in the event of obtaining no succor from without, when his provisions were about exhausted, to make a sally at night, and cut his way through the encampment of the besiegers, or perish in the attempt.


[FN] Willett's Narrative.

Fortunately, the necessity of executing the bold determination did not arrive. The siege had continued until the 22d of August, when, suddenly, without any cause within the knowledge of the garrison, the besiegers broke up their encampment, and retired in such haste and confusion as to leave their tents, together with a great part of their artillery, camp equipage, and baggage behind. What was the motive for this unexpected flight of a vaunting and all but victorious foe, was a problem they were unable to solve within the garrison, although their joy was not, on that account, the less at their deliverance. It subsequently appeared that the panic which produced this welcome and unexpected change in the situation of the garrison, was caused by a ruse-de-guerre, practised upon the forces of St. Leger by General Arnold, who had been waiting at Fort Dayton several days for the arrival of reinforcements and supplies. [FN-1] But, having heard that St. Leger had made his approaches to within a short distance of the fort, Arnold, on the 22d of August, determined at all events to push forward and hazard a battle, rather than see the garrison fall a sacrifice. [FN-2] With this view, on the morning of the 23d, he resumed his march for Fort Schuyler, and had proceeded ten miles of the distance from Fort Dayton when he was met by an express from Colonel Gansevoort, with the gratifying intelligence that the siege had been raised. The cause of this sudden movement was yet as great a mystery to the Colonel and his garrison, as was the flight of the host of Ben-hadad from before Samaria to the king of Israel, when the Syrian monarch heard the supernatural sound of chariots, and the noise of horses, in the days of Elisha the prophet. Arnold was, of course, less in the dark. The circumstances were these:—


[FN-1] "I wrote you, the 21st instant, from German Flats, that from the best intelligence I could procure of the enemy's strength, it was much superior to ours; at the same time I inclosed you a copy of the resolutions of a council of war, and requested you to send me a reinforcement of one thousand light troops."—Letter of Arnold to General Gates, Aug, 23, 1777.—"I have been retarded by the badness of the roads, waiting for some baggage and ammunition, and for the militia, who did not turn out with that spirit which I expected. They are now joining me in great numbers. A few days will relieve you."—MS. letter from Arnold to Colonel Gansevoort, Aug, 22, 1777.

[FN-2] Letter above cited from Arnold to General Gates. Vide Remembrancer, 1777, page 444.

Among the party of Tories and Indians captured at Shoemaker's under Lieutenant Butler, was a singular being named Hon-Yost Schuyler. His place of residence was near the Little Falls, where his mother and a brother named Nicholas, were then residing. Hon-Yost Schuyler was one of the coarsest and most ignorant men in the valley, appearing scarce half removed from idiocy; and yet there was no small share of shrewdness in his character. Living upon the extreme border of civilization, his associations had been more with the Indians than the whites; and tradition avers that they regarded him with that mysterious reverence and awe with which they are inspired by fools and lunatics. Thus situated and thus constituted, Hon-Yost had partially attached himself to the Royalist cause, though probably, like the Cow-boys of West Chester, he really cared little which party he served or plundered; and had he been the captor of the unfortunate Andre, would have balanced probabilities as to the best way of turning the prize to account. Be these things, however, as they may, Hon-Yost was captured, with Walter Butler, and, like him, was tried for his life, adjudged guilty, and condemned to death. His mother and brother, hearing of his situation, hastened to Fort Dayton, and implored General Arnold to spare his life. The old woman strongly resembled the gypsy in her character, and the eloquence and pathos with which she pleaded for the life of her son, were long remembered in the unwritten history of the Mohawk Valley. Arnold was for a time inexorable, and the woman became almost frantic with grief and passion on account of her wayward son. Nicholas, likewise, exerted himself to the utmost in behalf of his brother. At length General Arnold proposed terms upon which his life should be spared. The conditions were, that Hon-Yost should hasten to Fort Schuyler, and so alarm the camp of St. Leger as to induce him to raise the siege and fly. The convict-traitor gladly accepted the proposition, and his mother offered herself as a hostage for the faithful performance of his commission. Arnold, however, declined receiving the woman as a hostage, preferring and insisting that Nicholas should be retained for that purpose. To this the latter readily assented, declaring that he was perfectly willing to pledge his life that Hon-Yost would fulfill his engagements to the utmost. Nicholas was, therefore, placed in confinement, while Hon-Yost departed for the camp of Colonel St. Leger—having made an arrangement with one of the Oneida Indians, friendly to the Americans, to aid him in the enterprise. Before his departure several shots were fired through Schuyler's clothes, that he might appear to have had a narrow escape; and the Oneida Indian, by taking a circuitous route to Fort Schuyler, was to fall into the enemy's camp from another direction, and aid Hon-Yost in creating the panic desired. The emissary first presented himself among the Indians, who were in a very suitable state of mind to be wrought upon by exactly such a personage. They had been moody and dissatisfied ever since the battle of Oriskany—neither the success nor the plunder promised them had been won, and they had previously received some vague and indefinite intelligence respecting the approach of Arnold. They had likewise just been holding a pow-wow, or were actually convened in one, for the purpose of consulting the Manitto touching the dubious enterprise in which they were engaged, when Hon-Yost arrived. Knowing their character well, he communicated his intelligence to them in the most mysterious and imposing manner. Pointing to his riddled garments, he proved to them how narrow had been his escape from the approaching army of the rebels. When asked the number of the troops that Arnold was leading against them, he shook his head mysteriously, and pointed upward to the leaves of the trees. The reports spread rapidly through the camps, and reaching the ears of the commander, Hon-Yost was sent for to the tent of St. Leger himself. Here he was interrogated, and gave information that General Arnold, with two thousand men, was so near that he would be upon them within twenty-four hours. He gave St. Leger a pitiable narrative of his captivity, trial, and condemnation to the gallows. It was while on his way to execution, as he alleged, that, finding himself not very closely guarded, he took an opportunity to effect his escape—thinking, at the worst, that he could only die, and it would be as well to be shot as hanged. A shower of bullets had indeed been let fly at him, but fortunately had only wounded his clothes, as the General might see. [FN-1] Meantime the Oneida messenger arrived with a belt, and confirmed to the Indians all that Schuyler had said; adding, that the Americans had no desire to injure the Indians, and were intent only upon attacking the British troops and rangers. While making his way to the camp of the besiegers, the ingenious Oneida had fallen in with some two or three straggling Indians of his acquaintance, to whom he communicated his business, and whose assistance in furthering the design he engaged. These sagacious fellows dropped into the Indian camp at different points, and threw out alarming suggestions—shaking their heads mysteriously, and insinuating that a bird had brought them intelligence of great moment. [FN-2] They spoke of warriors in great numbers advancing rapidly upon them, and used every indirect method of infusing a panic into the minds of the listeners who gathered around them. The Indians presently began to give signs of decamping, and St. Leger assayed in vain to reassure them. He convened a council of their chiefs, hoping that by the influence of Sir John Johnson, and Colonels Claus and Butler, he should still be able to retain them. Other reports, of a yet more terrifying tendency, getting afloat, not only among the Indians but in the other camp, the former declared that "the pow-wow said they must go;" and a portion of them took their departure before the council broke up. The result was a general and precipitate flight. It has been stated, that in the commencement of the retreat the Indians made themselves merry at the expense of their white allies, by raising a shout that the Americans were upon them, and then laughing at the groundless terror thus created. [FN-3] According to the account derived by Gordon from the Rev. Mr. Kirkland, an altercation took place between Colonel St. Leger and Sir John Johnson, the former reproaching the latter with the defection of the Indians, while the Baronet charged his commander with but an indifferent prosecution of the siege. It was in the gray of twilight, when a couple of sachems, standing upon a little eminence not far in the rear, and overhearing the interchange of sharp words between them, put an end to the unpleasant colloquy by raising the shout—"they are coming!—they are coming!" Both St. Leger and Sir John recommenced their retreat with all possible expedition upon hearing such an alarm. Their troops were equally nimble of foot on the occasion, throwing away their knapsacks and arms, and disencumbering themselves of every hindrance to the quick-step; while the Indians, enjoying the panic and confusion, repeated the joke by the way until they arrived at the Oneida Lake. It is believed, however, that it was not the Americans alone of whom St. Leger began to stand in fear, being quite as apprehensive of danger from his own dusky allies as he was of the approaching army of Arnold. There is British authority for stating that the Indians actually plundered several of the boats belonging to their own army; robbing the officers of whatsoever they liked. Within a few miles of the camp, they first stripped off the arms, and afterward murdered, with their own bayonets, all those British, German, and American soldiers who were separated from the main body. [FN-4] Thus were the threats of savage vengeance sent by Colonel St. Leger to the garrison, in some degree wreaked upon his own army. Hon-Yost Schuyler accompanied the flying host to the estuary of Wood Creek, where he deserted, threading his way back to Fort Schuyler the same evening—imparting to Colonel Gansevoort his first information of the advance of Arnold. [FN-5] From Fort Schuyler, Hon-Yost proceeded back to the German Flats. On presenting himself at Fort Dayton, his brother was discharged, to the inexpressible joy of his mother and their relatives. But he proved a Tory in grain, and embraced the first opportunity subsequently presented, which was in October, of running away to the enemy, with several of his neighbors, and attaching himself to the forces of Sir John Johnson. [FN-6]


[FN-1] Remembrancer, for 1777—p. 447-448.

[FN-2] Travels of President Dwight, vol. iii. p. 195-197.

[FN-3] Travels of President Dwight, vol. iii. p. 195-197.

[FN-4] British Universal Magazine. Indeed, St. Leger's report of this disastrous retreat, addressed to General Burgoyne from Oswego, on the 27th of August, corresponds very closely with the American accounts whence the present narrative has been drawn. He states that the Indians fell treacherously upon their friends, and became more formidable than the enemy they had to expect. He leaves no room, however, to suppose that there was any difficulty between Sir John Johnson and himself—calling him "his gallant coadjutor," &c. and commending his exertions to induce the Indians again to meet the enemy, as also those of Colonels Claus and Butler.

[FN-5] Letter of Colonel Gansevoort to General Arnold.

[FN-6] After the close of the contest, Hon-Yost returned to the Mohawk Valley, and resided there until his death—which event occurred about twenty years since.

Immediately on the receipt of Colonel Gansevoort's despatch announcing St. Leger's retreat. General Arnold pushed forward a detachment of nine hundred men, with directions, if possible, to overtake the fugitives, and render their flight still more disastrous. On the day following, Arnold himself arrived at the fort, where he was received with a salute of artillery and the cheers of the brave garrison. He, of course, found that Gansevoort had anticipated his design of harassing the rear of the flying enemy, and had brought in several prisoners, together with large quantities of spoil. [FN-1] So great was their panic, and such the precipitancy of their flight, that they left their tents standing, their provisions, artillery, ammunition, their entire camp equipage, and large quantities of other articles enhancing the value of the booty. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Letter of Arnold to General Gates, Aug. 24, 1777.

[FN-2] Among other articles was the escritoire of St. Leger himself, containing his private papers, several of which have been used by the author in writing this and the preceding chapters.

Thus ended the siege of Fort Schuyler, or Fort Stanwix, as the public have always preferred calling it. St. Leger hastened with his scattered forces back to Oswego, and thence to Montreal. From that post he proceeded to Lake Champlain, passing up the same to Ticonderoga, for the purpose of joining the army of Burgoyne. Finding that the enemy had evacuated the country between the fort and Lake Ontario, and that the post could be in no immediate danger from that direction, Colonel Gansevoort took the opportunity of visiting his friends at Albany, and at the seat of the State government, then just organised at Kingston. His reception was most cordial, as appears not only from contemporaneous accounts, but from the following modest address to his fellow-soldiers of the garrison, on his return to resume his command:—

"I should be wanting in justice to you, if I did not give some testimony of your good conduct during the time you have been in this garrison, and especially while we were besieged by the enemy. Believe me, that I am impressed with a proper sense of the behavior by which you have done essential service to your country, and acquired immortal honor to yourselves. Nothing can equal the pleasure I have experienced since my absence, in hearing and receiving the public approbation of our country for our services, which is, and must be, to every soldier, a full and ample compensation for the same. Permit me to congratulate you upon the success of the American arms, both to the Southward and Northward. Every day terminates with victory to America; and I make not the least doubt, but in this campaign we shall effectually establish the Independence of the United States, and thereby secure to ourselves the rights and liberties for which we have so nobly stood forth." [FN]


[FN] Copied by the author from the original manuscript. It was filed away among the Colonel's papers, with the following inscription:—"A laconic address to my fellow officers and soldiers after our success at Fort Stanwix."

As an evidence of the value placed upon the services of the Colonel in the defence of Fort Schuyler, he was shortly afterward promoted in the State line to the rank of Brigadier General, while his gallantry was farther rewarded by a Colonel's commission from Congress in the army of the United States. [FN-1] On leaving his regiment, its officers presented him with an affectionate letter of congratulation on his promotion, mingled with an expression of their regret at the loss to the regiment of "so worthy a patron." To which the Colonel returned an appropriate letter of thanks. [FN-2] The people of Tryon County were of course rejoiced, that the blow, directed, as the enemy supposed, with unerring certainty against them, had been averted. They had suffered severely in the campaign; but there were enough of her sons yet left to swell the ranks of General Gates not a little; and they pressed ardently to join his standard, although circumstances did not then require them long to remain in the field.


[FN-1] There seems to have been something peculiar and special in this commission. In a letter which Colonel Gansevoort wrote jointly to William Duer and Gouverneur Morris, a copy of which is preserved among his papers, he observes:—"Congress have done me the honor of appointing me Colonel Commandant of Fort Schuyler. I should esteem it as a favor if you would inform me whether I am to receive any pay for that commission, other than as Colonel of the third regiment of New-Yorkers; and if not, I should be glad if you would endeavor to get something allowed me, as my present pay will not reimburse my table liquors, which you may well conceive to be something considerable as commanding officer. I am not solicitous to make money by my commission; but I could wish not to sink by it, as I am obliged to do now. The commission which Congress has sent me as commandant of Fort Schuyler, subjects me as much to the command of my superior officers, as any former one. If that was the intention of Congress, the appointment is nugatory. If not, I wish Congress to alter the commission."

[FN-2] The following is a copy of the address referred to in the text:—"Honored Sir: From a just sense of that conduct which has hitherto been so conspicuously shown to advance the third New-York regiment to honor and public notice, we congratulate you that those characteristics which so eminently point out the gentleman and soldier, have by your personal bravery been deservedly noticed by our bleeding country. Although we rejoice at your promotion, yet we cannot but regret the loss of so worthy a patron. That the prosperity which has crowned your conduct with victory may still be continued, is the sincere wish and prayer of, honored Sir, your most obedient and very humble servants." It was signed by twenty-six officers. Colonel Gansevoort replied as follows:—"Gentlemen: Your polite address on my promotion merits my sincerest thanks. Gratitude, I hope, shall never be wanting in me to the third N. Y. regiment, who have, by their firmness and discipline, been the chief authors of my promotion. Therefore, Gentlemen, please to accept my warmest wishes for the prosperity of the corps, that all their virtuous endeavors in the defence of their bleeding country may be crowned with honor and success, which will always be the earnest prayer of, Gentlemen, your most obliged, humble servant."

In October following, when Sir Henry Clinton was ascending the Hudson for the purpose either of succoring, or of co-operating with, Burgoyne, Colonel Gansevoort was ordered to Albany by General Gates, to take command of the large force then concentrating at that place. Happily, as will appear in the succeeding chapters, there was no occasion to test his prowess in his new and temporary command.




CHAPTER XII.


Recurrence to the invasion of Burgoyne—General Schuyler again superseded by Gates—Causes of this injustice—Battle of Stillwater—Both armies entrench—Battle and victory of Behmus's Heights—Funeral of General Frazer—Retreat of Burgoyne—Difficulties increasing upon him—His capitulation—Meeting of Burgoyne and Gates—Deportment of Gates toward Gen. Washington—Noble conduct of General Schuyler.

The temporary pacification of the Western part of the State, resulting from the events of which we have just closed the narrative, affords an opportunity for recurring to the invasion of Burgoyne, who was left in the mid career of victory, checked, it is true, by unexpected and increasing difficulties, until brought to a stand by the serious affair of Bennington, heretofore incidentally disposed of. On shifting the scene, however, from the head waters of the Mohawk to the upper districts of the Hudson, General Gates is again found in command of the Northern Department—General Schuyler, to whose wise measures and indefatigable exertions the country was mainly indebted for arresting the progress of Burgoyne, and during whose command the victory of Bennington had been won by General Stark—having been most unjustly superseded by express resolution of Congress. There had, during the present year, been a very unwise, unworthy, and capricious interference, on the part of Congress, with the command of this department. On the 25th of March, without a reason assigned, General Gates had superseded General Schuyler, his superior officer, by order of Congress; and on the 22d of May, without any expressed motive, General Schuyler was restored to the command of that department. [FN-1] Again, on the 1st of August, it was resolved by Congress that General Schuyler should repair to head-quarters, while the Commander-in-chief was, by the same resolution, directed to order such general officer as he should think proper, to assume the command in Schuyler's place. The day after the passage of that resolution, General Washington received a letter from the New England delegation in Congress, suggesting the name of General Gates, as the officer who would be most likely to restore harmony, order, and discipline, and to relieve our affairs in that quarter. [FN-2] We have, in a former chapter, referred to the prejudices existing against General Schuyler, and the causes of them. These had now become so strong, and the Eastern States, in particular, were so hostile to his longer continuance in the command, that even his friends acquiesced in the expediency, though not in the justice, of his removal. [FN-3] General Schuyler himself, however, felt acutely the discredit of being recalled at the most critical and interesting period of the campaign; when the labor and activity of making preparations to repair the disasters of it had been expended by him; and when an opportunity was offered, as he observed, for that resistance and retaliation which might bring glory upon our arms. [FN-4]


[FN-1] Memoirs of General Wilkinson, vol. i. p. 163.

[FN-2] Sparks's Life and Cor. of Washington, vol. v. p. 14. The original of this letter to Washington is in the hand-writing of Samuel Adams, and is signed by the following names, in the order in which they here stand, viz: John Adams, Nathaniel Folsom, Samuel Adams, Henry Marchant, Elbridge Gerry, Eliphalet Dyer, William Williams.

[FN-3] Marshall.

[FN-4] Address of Chancellor Kent before the New-York Historical Society, Dec. 1828. The calumnies directed against St. Clair and Schuyler, in regard to the fall of Ticonderoga, were so gross as to exceed belief in their propagation. These officers were denounced as traitors to the country, acting in concert with the enemy, and the ignorant and credulous were led to believe that they had received an immense treasure in silver balls, fired by Burgoyne into St. Clair's camp, and by his order picked up, and transmitted to Schuyler at Fort George. Wilkinson, who was Gates's Adjutant General, avers that respectable people questioned him with much gravity as to the fact! These slanders were, for factious purposes, countenanced by respectable men, and the consequence was, general defection and desertion, in the early part of the Summer, so that, at one time, the Northern army was reduced to less than three thousand, and the militia to less than thirteen hundred—and these subject to no effectual restraint.

The Commander-in-chief paid no heed to the advisory epistle from the New England delegates, but in a respectful letter to the President of Congress, declined the honor of making the selection. [FN] Had he not thus excused himself, it is not presumption to intimate, that, influenced by the peculiar attitude which Gates had even then begun to assume, and acting, as Washington ever did, under the stern behests of conscience, he would have made a different selection from that proposed to him by the Eastern representatives, and which ultimately prevailed.


[FN] "At the same time that I express my thanks for the high mark of confidence which Congress has been pleased to repose in me by their resolve, authorising me to send an officer to command the Northern army, I should wish to be excused from making the appointment. For this, many reasons might be mentioned, which, I am persuaded, will occur to Congress on reflection. The Northern department in a great measure has been considered as separate, and more peculiarly under their direction; and the officers commanding there always under their nomination. I have never interfered farther than merely to advise, and to give such aids as were within my power, on the requisitions of those officers. The present situation of that department is delicate and critical, and the choice of an officer to the command may involve very interesting and important consequences."—Letter of Washington to the President of Congress, Aug. 3, 1777.

General Gates, however, did not join the Northern army until the 19th of August; and as the time was not specified within which he was required to report himself at head-quarters, General Schuyler was allowed to remain at the North, with the approbation both of Congress and the Commander-in-chief, until after the campaign had been closed by the surrender of the British commander and his army. Nor were his exertions the less active, or his counsels the less freely proffered, in the cause of his country, because of the injustice by which his pride had been wounded. [FN]


[FN] "The zeal, patriotism, perseverance, and salutary arrangements of General Schuyler, had roused the spirit of the country, and vanquished the prejudices excited against him by artifice, intrigue, and detraction."—Wilkinson's Memoirs.

After the evacuation of Fort Edward, [FN-1] as mentioned in a former chapter, General Schuyler fell down the river to Stillwater, on the 3d of August, and began to entrench his camp there on the 4th. Burgoyne's ill-conceived expedition to Bennington, under Colonel Baum, deprived him of one-sixth of his effective force on the 16th. It was not until near a month afterward, during which period the American army had been greatly strengthened at Stillwater, that Burgoyne was again prepared to advance. Having at length, by dint of almost incredible labor, brought up from Fort George a supply of provisions for thirty days, and thrown a bridge of boats over the Hudson, the British commander with his army crossed on the 13th and 14th of September, and encamped on the heights and plains of Saratoga. On the night of the 17th, Burgoyne encamped within four miles of the American army; and about noon on the 19th, advanced in full force against it—the latter having, in the mean time, advanced toward the enemy three miles above Stillwater. Burgoyne commanded his right wing in person, covered by General Frazer and Colonel Breyman, with the grenadiers and light-infantry, who were posted along some high grounds on the right. The front and flanks were covered by Indians, Provincials, and Canadians. The enemy's left wing and artillery were commanded by Generals Phillips and Riedesel, who proceeded along the great road. Colonel Morgan, who was detached to observe their motions, and to harass them as they advanced, soon fell in with their pickets in advance of their right wing, attacked them sharply and drove them in. A strong corps was immediately detached by the enemy against Morgan, who, after a brisk engagement, was in turn compelled to give way. A regiment being ordered to the assistance of Morgan, whose riflemen had been sadly scattered by the vigor of the attack, the battle was renewed at about one o'clock, and was maintained with spirit, though with occasional pauses, for three hours—the commanders on both sides supporting and reinforcing their respective parties. By four o'clock the battle became general, Arnold, with nine Continental regiments and Morgan's corps, having completely engaged the whole right wing of the enemy. [FN-2] The contest, accidentally commenced, in the first instance, now assumed the most obstinate and determined character. It was maintained four hours longer—the soldiers being often engaged hand to hand. The approach of night terminated the battle—the Americans retreating to their encampment, but not from other necessity than the darkness. The enemy were provided with artillery, but the ground occupied by the Americans would not allow the use of field-pieces. The fluctuations of the battle were frequent during the day, and although the British artillery fell into the hands of the Americans at every alternate charge, the latter could neither turn them upon the enemy nor bring them off. "The wood prevented the last, and the want of a match the first, as the lint-stock was invariably carried away, and the rapidity of the transitions did not allow the Americans time to provide one." [FN-3]


[FN-1] It was during a skirmish before Fort Edward, when the Americans were flying from a party of thirty or forty Indians, that the late General Matthew Clarkson, of New-York—then Major Clarkson and aid to General Arnold—was wounded by a ball which passed through the muscular integuments of the throat. The wound was supposed to be fatal at the time, but he soon recovered.

[FN-2] Holmes, who follows Stedman. General Wilkinson denies that Arnold shared much in this battle. He says:—"Not a single general officer was on the field of battle on the 19th, until evening, when General Lamed was ordered out. About the same time Generals Gates and Arnold were in front of the centre of the camp, listening to the peal of small arms, when Colonel Morgan Lewis, deputy quartermaster General, returned from the field, and being questioned by the General, he reported the undecisive progress of the action—at which Arnold exclaimed, 'by G— I will put an end to it,' and clapping spurs to his horse, galloped off at full speed. Colonel Lewis immediately observed to General Gates, 'You had better order him back, the action is going well, and he may by some rash act do mischief.' I was instantly despatched, overtook, and remanded Arnold to camp."—Memoirs, vol. i, Chap. vi.

[FN-3] Memoirs of General Wilkinson, vol. i. chapter vi.

General Wilkinson, at that time Adjutant General, who was himself in the battle, and whose account of it is the best that has been written, sustains the remark made above, that the engagement was perfectly accidental; neither of the opposing Generals meditating an attack at that time, and yet, by a mutual misconception of each other's purposes, they were kept the whole day acting upon the defensive; confining themselves to the ground occupied at first by accident, "and neither attempting a single manœuvre during one of the longest, warmest, and most obstinate battles fought in America. General Gates believed that his antagonist intended to attack him, and circumstances seemed to justify the like conclusion on the part of Burgoyne; and, as the thickness and depth of an intervening wood concealed the position and movements of either army from its adversary, sound caution obliged the respective commanders to guard every assailable point. Had either of the Generals been properly apprised of the dispositions of his antagonist, a serious blow might have been struck either on the left of the American army, or on the enemy's right;" but although the combatants changed ground a dozen times in the course of the day, the contest was terminated by the darkness, on the spot where it began. [FN-1] Few actions have been more remarkable than this, both for vigor of attack and obstinacy of resistance. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Idem.

[FN-2] Stedman. The loss on the part of the Americans, in killed and wounded, was between three and four hundred. Among the former were Colonels Colburn and Adams, and several other valuable officers. The loss of the British was from six hundred to a thousand, killed, wounded, and taken.

Both armies remained in the same positions until the beginning of October—each entrenching itself within lines and redoubts, which, in the most eligible positions, were strengthened with batteries. The engineer having the direction of the American works at Behmus's Heights, was the celebrated Polish patriot, Thaddeus Kosciusko, who had also served in the same capacity at Ticonderoga.

The action of the 19th of September had again essentially diminished the strength of Burgoyne, added to which were the great and increasing difficulties of obtaining supplies, and the perpetual annoyances to which he was subjected by the American scouts, and still larger detachments, who were attacking his pickets, hanging upon his flanks, and cutting off his foraging parties. By the 4th of October his supplies were so far reduced that the soldiers were placed upon short allowance, and his position was in other respects becoming so critical, that, hearing nothing from Sir Henry Clinton, for whose cooperation from New-York he had been waiting since the battle of the 19th, the idea of advancing was relinquished, and instead thereof, discussions were held respecting the practicability of a retreat. This could only be done by first dislodging the Americans, whose forces, disciplined and undisciplined, now far out-numbered his own, from their posts on the heights. On the 4th of October, Burgoyne sent for Generals Phillips, Riedesel, and Frazer, to consult with them on the best measures to be taken. His project was to attack and attempt to turn the left wing of the Americans at once; but the other Generals judged that it would be dangerous to leave their stores under so feeble a protection as eight hundred men, according to the proposition of their commander. A second consultation was held on the 5th, at which General Riedesel positively declared that the situation of the army had become so critical, that they must either attack and force the entrenchments of Gates, and thus bring about a favorable change of affairs, or recross the Hudson, and retreat upon Fort George. Fraser approved of the latter suggestion, and Phillips declined giving an opinion. General Burgoyne, to whom the idea of retreating was most unwelcome, declared that he would make, on the 7th, a reconnaissance as near as possible to the left wing of the Americans, with a view of ascertaining whether it could be attacked with any prospect of success. He would afterward either attack the army of Gates, or retreat by the route in the rear of Battenkill. This was his final determination, and dispositions were made accordingly. [FN]


[FN] Memoirs of Madame the Baroness de Riedesel.

Early in the afternoon of the 7th, General Burgoyne drew out fifteen hundred men for the purpose of making his proposed reconnaissance, which he headed himself, attended by Generals Phillips, Riedesel, and Frazer. They advanced in three columns toward the left wing of the American positions, entered a wheat-field, displayed into line, and then began cutting up the wheat for forage. The movement having been seasonably discovered, the centre advanced guard of the Americans beat to arms; the alarm was repeated throughout the line, and the troops repaired to the alarm posts. Colonel Wilkinson being at head-quarters at the moment, was despatched to ascertain the cause of the alarm. He proceeded to within sixty or seventy rods of the enemy, ascertained their position, and returned; informing General Gates that they were foraging; attempting also to reconnoiter the American left, and likewise, in his opinion, offering battle. After a brief consultation. Gates said he would indulge them; and Colonel Morgan, whose rifle corps was formed in front of the centre, was directed "to begin the game." [FN-1] At his own suggestion, however, Morgan was allowed to gain the enemy's right by a circuitous course, while Poor's brigade should attack his left. [FN-2] The movement was admirably executed; the New-York and New Hampshire troops attacked the enemy's front and left wing with great impetuosity; while, true to his purpose, Morgan, just at the critical moment, poured down like a torrent from the hill, and attacked the enemy's right in front and flank. The attack was soon extended along the whole front of the enemy with great determination. Major Ackland, at the head of the grenadiers, sustained the attack of Poor with great firmness. [FN-3] But on his right the light infantry, in attempting to change front, being pressed with ardor by Colonel Dearborn, were forced to retire under a close fire, and in great disorder. They were re-formed by the Earl of Balcarras behind a fence in the rear of their first position; but, being again attacked with great audacity in front and flanks by superior numbers, resistance became vain, and the whole line, commanded by Burgoyne in person, gave way, and made a precipitate and disorderly retreat to his camp, [FN-4] The right of Burgoyne had given way first, the retreat of which was covered by the light infantry and a part of the 24th regiment. The left wing in its retreat would inevitably have been cut to pieces, but for the intervention of the same troops, performing in its behalf the same service that, a few moments before, they had done for the right. This retreat took place in exactly fifty-two minutes after the first shot was fired—the enemy leaving two twelve and six six pounders on the field, with the loss of more than four hundred officers and men, killed, wounded, and captured, and among them the flower of his officers, viz: General Frazer, Major Ackland,[FN-5] Sir Francis Cook, and many others.


[FN-1] General Burgoyne afterward stated to Wilkinson, in conversation, that his purpose on that day was only to reconnoiter and obtain forage, and that in half an hour, had his motives not been penetrated by Wilkinson and he not been attacked, he should have finished his observations and returned to his camp.

[FN-2] Wilkinson's Memoirs.

[FN-3] Holmes.

[FN-4] Memoirs of General Wilkinson.

[FN-5] Idem. General Wilkinson gives an interesting incident respecting Major Ackland. While pursuing the flying enemy, passing over killed and wounded, he heard a voice exclaim—"Protect me, sir, against this boy!" Turning his head, he saw a lad, thirteen or fourteen years of age, deliberately aiming at a wounded officer, lying in the angle of a worm-fence. The purpose of the boy was arrested—the officer proved to be the brave Ackland who had commanded the grenadiers, and was wounded in both legs. He was immediately sent to head-quarters. The story of Major Ackland has been rendered familiar to all, even before escaping the nursery, by the interesting narrative of Lady Harriet, his wife, who was with the army, and who, two days after the battle, came to the American camp, under a flag, to join her husband. The incident, from the embellishments it received, was touching and romantic. When divested of its poetry, however, and reduced to the plain matter of fact, according to the statement of the late General Dearborn, which he authorized Wilkinson to publish in his memoirs, the affair was not so very extraordinary that it might not have been enacted by any other pretty woman under the same circumstances, who loved her husband. Major Ackland had already been sent down to Albany, when Lady Harriet arrived at the camp of General Gates. She was treated with all possible courtesy, and permitted to follow and join him. Major Ackland was a gallant officer and a generous foe. While in New-York, on his parole, he did all in his power to favor the treatment of distinguished American prisoners. After his return to England, he sacrificed his life in defence of American honor. Having procured a regiment, at a dinner of military men, the courage of the Americans was questioned. He repelled the imputation with decision. High words ensued, in the course of which Ackland gave the lie direct to a subordinate officer named Lloyd. A meeting was the consequence, in which he was shot through the head. Lady Harriet lost her senses, and continued deranged two years; after which she married a gentleman named Brudenell, who had accompanied her from the camp of Burgoyne, at Saratoga, to that of Gates, in search of her wounded husband.

The British troops had scarcely entered their lines, when the Americans, led by General Arnold, pressed forward, and, under a tremendous fire of grape-shot and musketry, assaulted their works throughout their whole extent from right to left. Toward the close of the day, the enemy's intrenchments were forced by the left of the Americans, led by Arnold in person, who, with a few of his men, actually entered the works; but his horse being killed, and the General himself badly wounded in the leg, they were forced to retire, and the approach of darkness induced them to desist from the attack. [FN-1] Meantime, on the left of Arnold's detachment, the Massachusetts troops, under Colonel Brooks, had been still more successful—having turned the enemy's right, and carried by storm the works occupied by the German reserve. Colonel Breyman, their commander, was killed; and his corps, reduced to two hundred men, and hotly pressed on all sides, was obliged to give way. This advantage was retained by the Americans; and darkness put an end to an action equally brilliant and important to the Continental arms. Great numbers of the enemy were killed, and two hundred prisoners taken. The loss of the Americans was inconsiderable. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Subsequent to the battle of the 19th September, and previous to that now under review, Arnold had had some difficulty with Gates. A sharp correspondence en sued, in the course of which the former demanded permission to join the Commander-in-chief in Pennsylvania. The consequence was, that Arnold found himself without any command on the 7th. He was exceedingly chafed at his position; but, orders or no orders, he could not be kept from the field. His conduct was very strange, and he has been charged by Wilkinson and others with intoxication that day. Be it so or not, before the action was over, he was in the hottest of it, and exercising command. He expressed himself foolishly and presumptuously in front of the German division; and it was without orders that he collected a few desperate followers, with whom he entered the enemy's intrenchment, where he received his wound.

[FN-2] Holmes.

On the morning of the 8th, before daybreak, the enemy left his position and defiled into the plain where his provisions were; but was obliged to halt until the evening, because his hospital could not be sooner removed. [FN-1] The Americans immediately moved forward, and took possession of the abandoned camp. Burgoyne having condensed his force upon some heights which were strong by nature, and covered in front by a ravine running parallel with the entrenchment of his late camp, a random fire of artillery and small arms was kept up through the day—particularly on the part of the enemy's sharpshooters and Provincials, who were stationed in coverts of the ravine, which rendered their fire annoying to every person crossing their line of vision. [FN-2] It was by a shot from one of these lurking parties, that General Lincoln, late in the day, received a severe wound in the leg while riding near the line.


[FN-1] Memoirs of the Baroness de Riedesel. Of this lady. General Wilkinson says—"I have more than once seen her charming blue eyes bedewed with tears at the recital of her sufferings. With two infant children she accompanied her husband, Major General the Baron de Riedesel from Germany to England, from England to Canada, and from the last place to the termination of General Burgoync's campaign, in which she suffered more than the horrors of the grave in their most frightful aspect." Her Memoirs were published in Berlin in 1800. They are full of interest. Some of the distressing scenes which attended the close of Burgoyne's campaign are so graphically told by the Baroness, and afford such striking illustrations of the horrors of war, that the author has ventured to transfer a few pages to the Appendix of the present volume. See Appendix, No. IX.

[FN-2] Memoirs of General Wilkinson.

The gallant Frazer, who had been mortally wounded the day before, died at 8 o'clock on the morning of the 8th. On the evening of his fall, when it was rendered certain that he could not recover, he sent for General Burgoyne, and requested that he might be buried at 6 o'clock the following evening, on the crest of a hill upon which a breastwork had been constructed. It was a subject of complaint against Burgoyne, that in order to comply with this request, he delayed his retreat, and thus contributed to the misfortunes of his army. Be that as it may, the dying soldier's request was observed to the letter. At the hour appointed the body was borne to the hill that had been indicated, attended by the Generals and their retinues; the funeral service was read by the Chaplain; and the corpse interred, while the balls of the American cannon were flying around and above the assembled mourners. [FN]


[FN] The Baroness Riedesel, from whose spirited Memoirs the circumstances of this funeral are drawn, states that General Gates protested afterward that had he known what was going on, he would have stopped the fire immediately. It must have been a solemn spectacle, and General Burgoyne himself described it with his usual eloquence and felicity of expression:—"The incessant cannonade during the solemnity; the steady attitude and unaltered voice with which the chaplain officiated, though frequently covered with dust, which the shot threw up on all sides of him; the mute but expressive mixture of sensibility and indignation upon every countenance; these objects will remain to the last of life upon the mind of every man who was present. The growing duskiness added to the scenery, and the whole marked a character of that juncture, that would make one of the finest subjects for the pencil of a master that the field ever exhibited. To the canvass, and to the faithful page of a more important historian, gallant friend! I consign thy memory. There may thy talents, thy manly virtues, their progress and their period, find due distinction; and long may they survive, long after the frail record of my pen shall be forgotten!"—State of the Expedition from Canada, &c. &c. p. 169.

It was evident from the movements in the enemy's camp, that he was preparing to retreat; but the American troops, having in the delirium of joy consequent upon their victory, neglected to draw and eat their rations—being withal not a little fatigued with the two days' exertions, fell back to their camp, which had been left standing in the morning. Retreat was, indeed, the only alternative remaining to the British commander, since it was now quite certain that he could not cut his way through the American army, and his supplies were reduced to a short allowance for five days. He accordingly commenced his retreat that night, but lingered by the way; so that on the 10th he was yet near Saratoga, where he took up a position. During this retreat he ordered the farm-houses to be burnt by the way, among which was the elegant mansion of General Schuyler, with its mills and out-buildings. This conduct on the part of the British commander was viewed as alike disreputable and unnecessary. [FN]


[FN] "The cruelties which mark the retreat of your army, in burning the gentlemen's and farmers' houses as it passed along, are almost, among civilized nations, without precedent; they should not endeavor to ruin those they could not conquer; their conduct betrays more of the vindictive malice of the monk than the generosity of a soldier."—Letter of Gates to Burgoyne, Oct. 12, 1777.

Well knowing that a farther retreat, with a view, if possible, of reaching his depot at Fort George, and escaping through the lakes, was now the only movement to which Burgoyne could have recourse to save the shattered remains of his army, Gates lost no time in throwing several strong detachments of troops into his rear. A division of fourteen hundred was stationed on the heights opposite the ford at Saratoga; two thousand in his rear, to prevent his retreat upon Fort Edward; and fifteen hundred at a ford yet higher up. Apprehensive that he should be entirely penned up, Burgoyne sent forward a corps of artificers to repair the bridges; but these, though strongly guarded, were driven precipitately back. His thoughts were next directed to the opening of a passage by the way of Fort Edward; but the Americans had already re-possessed themselves of that work, and were well provided with artillery. Thus environed with difficulties, which were increasing; every hour, his effective force reduced to less than three thousand five hundred men,—the American army increasing every moment, and now forming an almost entire circle around him,—harassed at all points, especially by the sharp-shooters who hovered about him,—Burgoyne was driven to the necessity of entering into a convention with General Gates, which was done by the unanimous consent of a general council of his officers. The preliminaries were soon adjusted; and on the 17th of October, the royal army surrendered prisoners of war. At the opening of the campaign, the army of Burgoyne numbered nine thousand two hundred and thirteen men. The number that laid down their arms, was five thousand seven hundred and fifty-two. His Indian allies had all, or nearly all, abandoned him several days before.

On the same day that the articles of capitulation were carried into effect, Burgoyne, with his general officers, was received in the quarters of General Gates, and entertained by him at dinner. They were received with the utmost courtesy, and with the consideration due to brave but unfortunate men. The conversation was unrestrained, affable, and free. [FN-1] Indeed, the conduct of Gates throughout, after the terms of the surrender had been adjusted, was marked with equal delicacy and magnanimity, as Burgoyne himself admitted in a letter to the Earl of Derby. In that letter, the captive General particularly mentioned one circumstance which, he said, exceeded all he had ever seen or read of on a like occasion. It was the fact, that when the British soldiers had marched out of their camp to the place where they were to pile their arms, not a man of the American troops was to be seen—General Gates having ordered his whole army out of sight, that not one of them should be a spectator of the humiliation of the British troops, nor offer the smallest insult to the vanquished. This was a refinement of delicacy, and of military generosity and politeness, reflecting the highest credit upon the conqueror; and was spoken of by the officers of Burgoyne in the strongest terms of approbation. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Memoirs of the Baroness de Riedesel. The first meeting of Burgoyne with Gates is thus described by Wilkinson:—"General Gates, advised of Burgoyne's approach, met him at the head of his camp—Burgoyne in a rich royal uniform, and Gates in a plain blue frock; when they had approached nearly within sword's length, they reined up and halted. I then named the gentlemen, and General Burgoyne, raising his hat most gracefully, said—'The fortune of war. General Gates, has made me your prisoner;' to which the conqueror, returning a courtly salute, promptly replied—'I shall always be ready to bear testimony that it has not been through any fault of your Excellency.'"

[FN-2] Remembrancer of 1777, pages 482, 83. A letter published in that repository of the events of the American Revolution, at the same time, stated that "some few of the New England men desired to have Burgoyne in their hands for half an hour. Being asked for what purpose, they said they would do him no manner of harm; they would only tar and feather him, and make him stand on the head of one of his own empty beef-barrels, and read his own proclamation."—481, 82. If made at all, the suggestion must have been merely the sportive sally of a wag.

It was, perhaps, no fault of General Gates, that he had been placed in command at the North just at the auspicious moment when the discomfiture of Burgoyne was no longer problematical. He was ordered by Congress to the station, and performed his duty well. But it is no less true that the laurels won by him ought to have been harvested by Schuyler. General (then Colonel) Wilkinson, who was not only an active officer in that campaign, but a member of Gates's own military family, has placed this question in its true aspect. He maintains that not only had the army of Burgoyne been essentially disabled by the loss of a heavy detachment, artillery and baggage, and by the defeat of the Hessians at Bennington, before the arrival of Gates, but that the repulse of St. Leger at Fort Schuyler had deranged his plans, while safety had been restored to the western frontier, and the panic thereby caused to subside. He likewise maintains that after the reverses at the North, no wise in justice attributable to him, and before the arrival of Gates, the zeal, patriotism, and salutary arrangements of General Schuyler had vanquished the prejudices excited against him; that by the defeat of Baum and St. Leger, Schuyler had been enabled to concentrate and oppose his whole Continental force against the main body of the enemy; and that by him, also before the arrival of Gates, the friends of the Revolution had been re-animated and excited to manly resistance, while the adherents of the royal cause were intimidated, and had shrunk into silence and inactivity. From these premises, which are indisputable, it is no more than a fair deduction to say, "that the same force which enabled Gates to subdue the British army, would have produced a similar effect under the orders of General Schuyler; since the operations of the campaign did not involve a single instance of professional skill, and the triumph of the American arms was accomplished by the physical force and valor of the troops, under the protection and direction of the god of battles." [FN]


[FN] Wilkinson's Memoirs, vol. i. chap. v.

Flushed with his fortuitous success, or rather with the success attending his fortuitous position, Gates did not wear his honors with any remarkable meekness. On the contrary, his bearing even toward the Commander-in-chief was far from respectful. He did not even write to Washington on the occasion, until after a considerable time had elapsed. In the first instance Wilkinson was sent as the bearer of despatches to Congress, but did not reach the seat of that body until fifteen days after the articles of capitulation had been signed; and three days more were occupied in arranging his papers before they were presented. [FN-1] The first mention which Washington makes of the defeat of Burgoyne, is contained in a letter written to his brother on the 18th of October—the news having been communicated to him by Governor Clinton. He spoke of the event again on the 19th, in a letter addressed to General Putnam. On the 25th, in a letter addressed to that officer, he acknowledges the receipt of a copy of the articles of capitulation from him—adding, that that was the first authentic intelligence he had received of the affair, and that he had begun to grow uneasy, and almost to suspect that the previous accounts were premature. And it was not until the 2d of November that Gates deigned to communicate to the Commander-in-chief a word upon the subject, and then only incidentally, as though it were a matter of secondary importance. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Sparks. "It was on this occasion that one of the members made a motion in Congress, that they should compliment Colonel Wilkinson with the gift of a pair of spurs."

[FN-2] Idem. All that Gates said upon the subject in the letter referred to, was comprised in these few words:—"Congress having been requested immediately to transmit copies of all my despatches to them, I am confident your Excellency has long ago received all the good news from this quarter." Two days before this, in a letter directed to Gates, Washington had administered one of those mild and dignified rebukes so very like himself. In this letter, written in reference to a special mission of Colonel Hamilton to the North, the Commander-in-chief said:—"By this opportunity I do myself the pleasure to congratulate you on the signal success of the army under your command, in compelling General Burgoyne and his whole force to surrender themselves prisoners of war." . . . "At the same time I cannot but regret that a matter of such magnitude, and so interesting to our general operations, should have reached me by report only, or through the channel of letters not bearing that authenticity which the importance of it required, and which it would have received by a line under your signature, stating the simple facts."—Lettrs of Washington, vol. v. pages 104, 112, 113, 124, 125.

General Schuyler was in the camp with Gates at the time of the surrender, though without any personal command; and when Burgoyne, with his general officers, arrived in Albany, they were the guests of Schuyler, by whom they wore treated with great hospitality. The Baroness de Riedesel speaks with great feeling of the kindness she received from General Schuyler on her first arrival in the camp of General Gates, and afterward at the hands of Mrs. Schuyler and her daughters in Albany. The urbanity of his manners, and the chivalric magnanimity of his character, smarting as he was under the extent and severity of his pecuniary losses, are attested by General Burgoyne himself, in his speech in 1778, in the British House of Commons. He there declared that, by his orders, "a very good dwelling-house, exceeding large store-houses, great saw mills, and other out-buildings, to the value altogether perhaps of £10,000 sterling," belonging to General Schuyler, at Saratoga, were destroyed by fire a few days before the surrender. He said farther, that one of the first persons he saw, after the convention was signed, was General Schuyler; and when expressing to him his regret at the event which had happened to his property, General Schuyler desired him "to think no more of it, and that the occasion justified it, according to the principles and rules of war. He did more," said Burgoyne; "he sent an aid-de-camp [FN-1] to conduct me to Albany, in order, as he expressed it, to procure better quarters than a stranger might be able to find. That gentleman conducted me to a very elegant house, and, to my great surprise, presented me to Mrs. Schuyler and her family. In that house I remained during my whole stay in Albany, with a table of more than twenty covers for me and my friends, and every other possible demonstration of hospitality." [FN-2]


[FN-1] The late Colonel Richard Varick, then the military secretary of Gen. Schuyler.

[FN-2] Parliamentary History, vol. xix. p. 1182—as quoted by Chancellor Kent in his address before the New-York Historical Society.




CHAPTER XIII.


Sir Henry Clinton's attempt to co-operate with Burgoyne—Storming of Forts Clinton and Montgomery—Burning of Æsopus—Review of military operations elsewhere—Expedition to Peekskill—Of Gov. Tryon to Danbury—Progress of Sir William Howe in Pennsylvania—Battle of Brandywine—Massacre of the Paoli—Battle of Germantown—Death of Count Donop—Murder of Captain Deitz and family at Berne—John Taylor—Lady Johnson ordered to leave Albany—Exasperation of Sir John—Attempts to abduct Mr. Taylor—An Indian and white man bribed to assassinate General Schuyler—Fresh alarms in Tryon County—Address of Congress to the Six Nations—The appeal produces no effect—Articles of confederation—Close of the year.

Simultaneously with the events rapidly sketched in the preceding chapter, an expedition from New-York to the North was undertaken by Sir Henry Clinton, to which an incidental reference has already been made. The obvious intention of Sir Henry was to relieve General Burgoyne; [FN] but it was undertaken at too late a period to render him any assistance; a fact admitted by Sir Henry himself, who excused the delay by stating that he could not attempt it sooner without leaving the defences of New-York too feebly guarded. This expedition consisted of about three thousand men, convoyed by a fleet under Commodore Hotham, who proceeded up the Hudson river early in October, and was destined, in the first instance, against Forts Montgomery and Clinton, near the Southern boundary of the highlands. These fortresses had been constructed chiefly for the purpose of preventing the ships of the enemy from ascending the river, and were not defensible in the rear. They were commanded by Governor Clinton, with the assistance of General James Clinton, his brother.


[FN] Letter from Washington to General Putnam, Oct. 19, 1777.

The troops of the enemy were landed at Stoney Point, twelve miles below the forts. A small advanced party of the Americans was met and attacked at about 10 o'clock in the morning of the 6th of October, when within two and a half miles of the fort. This party was of course driven in, having returned the enemy's fire. [FN-1] When arrived within a mile of the forts, Sir Henry divided his troops into two columns; the one, consisting of nine hundred men under Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, was destined for the attack on Fort Montgomery; the other, under the immediate command of Sir Henry Clinton, was to storm the stronger post of Fort Clinton. [FN-2] Ascertaining that the enemy were advancing to the west side of the mountain, to attack his rear, Governor Clinton ordered a detachment of upward of one hundred men, under Col. Lamb, together with a brass field-piece and fifty men more, to take a strong position in advance. They were soon sharply engaged, and another detachment of an equal number was sent to their assistance. They kept their field-piece sharply playing upon the enemy's advancing column, and were only compelled to give way by the point of the bayonet—spiking their field-piece before they relinquished it. In this preliminary encounter the loss of Sir Henry was severe.


[FN-1] Letter from Governor Clinton to the Committee of Safety, Oct. 7, 1777.

[FN-2] Holmes.

Pressing rapidly onward, both forts were in a few minutes attacked with vigor upon all sides. The fire was incessant during the afternoon until about five o'clock, when a flag approaching, Lieutenant Colonel Livingston was ordered to receive it. The officer was the bearer of a peremptory summons to surrender, as he alleged, to prevent the effusion of blood. Nor would he treat, unless upon the basis of a surrender of the garrison as prisoners of war, in which case he was authorised to assure them of good usage. The proposition being rejected "with scorn," [FN-1] in about ten minutes the attack was renewed, and kept up until after dark, when the enemy forced the American lines and redoubts at both forts, and the garrisons, determined not to surrender, undertook to fight their way out. The last attack of the enemy was desperate; but the Americans, militia as well as regulars, resisted with great spirit, and, favored by the darkness, many of them escaped. Governor Clinton himself escaped by leaping a precipice in the dark, and jumping into a boat, in which he was conveyed away. His brother was wounded and taken prisoner. Of the British forces, Lieutenant Colonel Campbell and Count Grabouski, a Polish nobleman, engaged as a volunteer under Sir Henry, were slain. The loss of the Americans, killed, wounded, and missing, was stated at two hundred and fifty. The British loss was stated at two hundred, but was believed to have been much more than that of the Americans. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Letter of Governor Clinton to the Council of Safety, from which the facts of this affair are chiefly drawn.

[FN-2] "I believe, from the bravery of the garrison of Fort Montgomery, Sir Henry Clinton purchased victory at no inconsiderable expense. General Campbell was certainly killed. This they mention in their own official account, but call him Lieutenant Colonel of the fifty-second regiment. He was a General on the American establishment, so declared in one of the orderly books which fell into our hands."—Letter of Washington to General Putnam. [Sparks corrects the Commander-in-chief upon this point—believing that General Campbell was another person, who was at Staten Island at the time in question.]

On the 7th, a summons to surrender, signed jointly by Sir Henry Clinton and Commodore Hotham, was sent to Fort Constitution; [FN-1] but the flag was fired upon, and returned. To avenge the insult, an attack was immediately determined upon, but on arriving at the fort on the following day, there was no enemy to assault—an evacuation having taken place, so precipitate as to leave considerable booty to the conqueror. [FN-2] Sir Henry Clinton proceeded no farther, but a strong detachment of his army, under General Vaughan, pursued the enterprise, with Commodore Hotham, as far north as Æsopus, [FN-3] destroying several vessels by the way. At Æsopus Creek there were two small batteries and an armed galley, mounting, however, in all, but six or seven guns. These were easily silenced. General Vaughan then effected a landing, marched to the town, and laid it in ashes. Large quantities of stores had been accumulated at this place, which were of course destroyed. Disappointed, however, by the disastrous termination of the campaign of Burgoyne, Sir Henry Clinton made an expeditious return to the city.


[FN-1] Situated at West Point.

[FN-2] Letter of Commodore Hotham to Sir William Howe. "The whole number of cannon taken in the three forts amount to sixty-seven, with a large quantity of provisions, ammunition, and stores of all kinds."

[FN-3] The ancient Dutch name of Kingston, the present shire town of the County of Ulster, N. Y. It was a large and wealthy inland town, built almost entirely of stone, upon a rich and beautiful plain about three miles from the river. The naked walls of many of the houses destroyed by General Vaughan, were standing, unrepaired, until within five or six years.

But the war was this year fruitful in military events in other parts of the confederation, some of the principal of which may appropriately be passed in review at this stage of the present chapter. In the month of March, after the return of the British troops from their bootless expedition through the Jerseys, to New-York, Colonel Bird was detached against Peekskill, with five hundred men, for the purpose of destroying the American stores deposited at that place. General McDougall, commanding a small guard at the depôt, on the approach of a force which he had not the power to resist, set fire to the stores and retreated. A similar expedition, for the same object, was directed against Danbury toward the close of April, consisting of two thousand men under the conduct of Major General Tryon. Landing at Compo Creek, between Norwalk and Fairfield, the march of Governor Tryon to the point of his destination was almost unopposed. A large quantity of provisions—beef, pork, and flour—had been collected by the Americans at that place, which were guarded only by about one hundred militia and Continental troops. Not being able to oppose the enemy, Colonel Huntington retired to a neighboring height, and awaited reinforcements. The town of Danbury and the stores were burnt on the 26th of April. [FN] During the afternoon and the following night Generals Wooster, Arnold, and Silliman collected such militia forces as they could, for the purpose of harassing the retreat of the enemy the next morning. With three hundred men, Wooster gallantly attacked his rear at 11 o'clock on the 27th, while Arnold, with five hundred more, awaited his arrival at Ridgeway. Wooster fell, mortally wounded, and his troops were obliged to give way. At Ridgeway, Arnold skirmished with the enemy for about an hour, but could not make a stand, or prevent them from remaining at that place over night. On the 28th, the march of the enemy was resumed, as also was the skirmishing by General Arnold, which was continued until 5 o'clock in the afternoon; when, as they approached their ships, the Americans charged with intrepidity, but were repulsed and broken. Embarking immediately, Governor Tryon returned to New-York, with a loss of one hundred and seventy men. The loss of the Americans was one hundred. These predatory excursions were retaliated by the Americans under Colonel Meigs, who made a brilliant expedition against Sag Harbor, where the enemy had collected a quantity of stores. The guard was talfen by surprise—the place carried by the bayonet—the stores destroyed, including twelve transport vessels—and Colonel Meigs re-crossed the Sound to Guilford without the loss of a man.


[FN] The property destroyed consisted of eighteen houses; eight hundred barrels of pork and beef; eight hundred barrels of flour; two thousand bushels of grain, and seventeen hundred tents.

After the return of the British forces from New Jersey, Sir William Howe suffered them to remain upon Staten Island until near midsummer, when, as the reader has seen in a previous chapter, he embarked with sixteen thousand men, and sailed for the Chesapeake Bay. On the 24th of August he landed at Elkton, whence, after being joined by Generals Grant and Knyphausen, he directed his march upon Philadelphia. Anticipating the design of the British commander, Washington threw himself, with his whole disposable force, between Sir William and Philadelphia, for the purpose of intercepting and bringing him to a general engagement. The disastrous battle of Brandywine was fought on the 11th of September. The loss of the Americans was three hundred killed and six hundred wounded and taken prisoners. That of the enemy was about one hundred killed and four hundred wounded. While General Washington with the main army retreated across the Schuylkill, General Wayne was left at the Paoli with fifteen hundred men, for the purpose of gaining and harassing the enemy's rear. But, notwithstanding the wonted vigilance of this officer, he was surprised in the course of the night, and routed, by General Gray, who had been detached for that purpose with two regiments of the enemy's line and a body of light troops. General Wayne had attempted to conceal himself upon an elevated piece of woodland, having an opening of a few acres upon which his troops bivouacked for the night, in perfect security, as was supposed. The approach of the enemy was so cautious as to take the Americans completely by surprise. Guided by the light of their fires, the enemy succeeded in cutting off their outposts and pickets without noise, and then rushed upon the sleeping camp without firing a gun, and depending alone upon the bayonet. Three hundred were slain, many of whom were transfixed with bayonets as they lay sleeping in their tents. But, though surprised. General Wayne was cool and self-possessed; and, as the enemy himself acknowledged, "by his prudent dispositions" in the moment of alarm, succeeded in bringing off the remainder of his troops. [FN]


[FN] Some twenty years ago, the citizen soldiers of the neighborhood of the Paoli piously collected the remains of such of the brave men who were slain on that occasion as could be found, and interred them on the field of the massacre. A small mound was raised over them, which is walled in, and surrounded by a plain marble monument—a square block, with an urn at the top, bearing inscriptions upon each of the sides, in the following words:—

First: "Sacred to the memory of the patriots, who, on this spot, fell a sacrifice to British barbarity, during the struggle for American Independence, during the night of the 20th of September, 1777."

Second: "Here repose the remains of fifty-three American soldiers, who were the victims of cold-blooded cruelty in the well-known massacre of the Paoli, while under the command of Gen. Anthony Wayne, an officer, whose military conduct, bravery, and humanity, were equally conspicuous throughout the Revolutionary war."

Third: "The atrocious massacre, which this stone commemorates, was perpetrated by British troops under the immediate command of Maj. Gen. Gray."

Fourth: "This memorial in honor of Revolutionary patriotism, was erected September 20, 1817, by the Republican Artillerists of Chester County, aided by the contributions of their fellow-citizens."

An annual military parade is held upon this interesting field. The name—The Paoli—is derived from a celebrated tavern, at two miles distance, on the Great Lancaster Road, which was established contemporaneously with the Corsican struggle for independence, and named in honor of the unfortunate chieftain of that enterprise. It bears the same name still.—Journal of a Visit to the field of Brandywine, by the author.

General Washington had taken post on the Eastern bank of the Schuylkill, about sixteen miles from Germantown. General Howe marched upon Germantown with his main army, where he arrived on the 26th of September. On the 27th Lord Cornwallis took possession of Philadelphia without resistance. On the 4th of October, the battle of Germantown was fought, in which it was claimed by the enemy that the Americans were defeated, although it was, in fact, a drawn battle. This action was produced by an attempt of the Commander-in-chief to effect something by way of surprise. Having ascertained the situation of the enemy, the Americans marched all night, and arrived at Germantown at daylight. The enemy was attacked upon two quarters, in both of which the Americans were successful. Indeed, the enemy, as it was afterward ascertained, were thrown into such a state of tumult and disorder, and so panic-stricken, that a retreat to Chester had been resolved upon. But the morning was so excessively dark and foggy, that neither the advantages gained by the Americans, nor the confusion of the enemy, could be perceived. This circumstance, by concealing from the Americans the true situation of the enemy, obliged the Commander-in-chief to act with more caution and less expedition than he could have wished; and, what was still more unfortunate, it served to keep the different divisions of the Americans in ignorance of each other's movements, and prevent their acting in concert. It also occasioned them to mistake one another for the enemy. In this situation, it was considered unsafe to push too far through a strong village, while enveloped in a haze so thick as to border upon positive darkness. The consequence was a retreat, by the Americans at the very instant when victory was declaring in their favor. The action lasted two hours, and the fighting was severe—the loss of the Americans being about one hundred men, killed, wounded, and missing. Among the slain was the brave General Nash, of North Carolina. Severe, however, as the action was, the enemy were rendered nothing better by the event; while the result was regarded by Washington "as rather unfortunate than injurious." [FN]


[FN] This brief account of the battle of Germantown is drawn from Washington's letters to the President of Congress, his brother, and Governor Trumbull. General Washington attributed the successes of Sir William Howe in Pennsylvania, and his own consequent disasters, to the apathy and disaffection of the people of that State. In one of his letters upon the subject, he says:—"The Northern army, before the surrender of General Burgoyne, was reinforced by upward of twelve hundred militia, who shut the only door by which Burgoyne could retreat, and cut off all his supplies. How different our case! The disaffection of a great part of the inhabitants of this State, the languor of others, and the internal distraction of the whole, have been among the great and insuperable difficulties which I have met with, and have contributed not a little to my embarrassments this campaign."—Letter of Washington to Landon Carter, Oct. 27, 1777. Many other letters from the Commander-in-chief, written during the winter and spring of 1778, complain of the conduct of the people of Pennsylvania, in supplying the enemy in Philadelphia with provisions—particularly from Bucks County. In a letter to Maj. General Armstrong, of that State, dated at Valley Forge, March 27th, he says:—"The situation of matters in this State is melancholy and alarming. We have daily proof that a majority of the people in this quarter are only restrained from supplying the enemy with horses and every kind of necessary, through fear of punishment; and, although I have made a number of severe examples, I cannot put a stop to the intercourse."

But all the advantages thus gained by the enemy, had been more than counterbalanced by the reverses of St. Leger, and the nearly simultaneous capture of Burgoyne and his well-appointed army at the North. Another circumstance, gratifying to the friends of the American arms, was the repulse of Count Donop, at Red Bank. The Count, a brave and experienced officer, fell, mortally wounded; and about 400 of his troops were killed. [FN] The laurels won by Colonel Christopher Greene, the American commander, on that occasion, were not the less creditably worn because of the necessity which compelled him subsequently to abandon the post, on the approach of Cornwallis with a greatly superior force.


[FN] Count Donop died of his wounds three days after the action, at a house near the fort. A short time before his death, he said to Monsieur Duplessis, a French officer who constantly attended him in his illness, "It is finishing a noble career early. I die the victim of my ambition, and of the avarice of my sovereign."—Travels of the Marquis Chastellux.

But neither the fall of Burgoyne, nor the flight of St. Leger, relieved the border settlements beyond Albany from their apprehensions. Though in less danger of a sweeping invasion, yet the scouts and scalping parties of the Tories and Indians were continually hovering upon their outskirts; and so crafty were the foe, and so stealthy their movements, that no neighborhood, not even the most populous villages, felt themselves secure from those sudden and bloody irruptions which mark the annals of Indian warfare. Very soon after the capture of Burgoyne, there was an occurrence in the neighborhood of Albany, of a highly painful description. Previous to the commencement of the war, a militia company had been organized in the town of Berne, comprising eighty-five men, commanded by Captain Ball. On the breaking out of hostilities, the Captain, with sixty-three of his men, went over to the enemy. Thus deserted by their leader, the command of the residue of the company devolved upon the ensign, Peter Deitz. These all embraced the cause of the country, and for the safety of their settlement threw up a little picketed fort, at a place now called the Beaver Dam. Deitz was soon afterward commissioned a captain, and his brother, William Deitz, his lieutenant. On the approach of Burgoyne they marched to Saratoga, and joined the army of Gates. Here the Captain was killed by the accidental discharge of the gun of one of his own men. William Deitz immediately succeeded to the vacancy; and rendered such good service in the campaign as specially to incur the vengeance of the Tories and Indians. Availing themselves of an early opportunity to glut their hate, a party of them stole into the settlement of Berne, where they surprised and made prisoner of the Captain in his own house. They next brought him forth into the court, bound him to the gate-post, and then successively brought out his father and mother, his wife and children, and deliberately murdered them all before his eyes! The Captain was himself carried a prisoner to Niagara, where he ultimately fell a sacrifice to their cruelty. [FN-1] An instance of more cool and fiend-like barbarity does not occur in the annals of this extraordinary contest. It was only equaled by the conduct of the Tories afterward at Wyoming, and transcended by the refinement of cruelty practised by a French officer, during one of the earlier wars of the Indians, upon an unhappy prisoner among the remote tribe of the Dionondadies, as related by La Potherie. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Albany Monthly Magazine, conducted by the late Horatio G. Spafford, 1815.

[FN-2] Vide Colden's Canada, and Smith's History of New-York.

Other incidents occurred at Albany and in its neighborhood, at about the same period, which are deemed worthy of note. At the time of Sir John Johnson's flight from Johnstown, his lady had remained behind, and was removed immediately, or soon afterward, to Albany. It was in this year that Mr. John Taylor, [FN] after having performed several important confidential services under the direction of General Schuyler, was appointed a member of the Albany Council of Safety. He was a man of great shrewdness and sagacity, deliberate in the formation of his purposes, and resolute in their execution when matured. The Whigs of Albany were greatly annoyed during the whole contest by the loyalists resident among them; many of whom, it was discovered from time to time, must have been in correspondence with the enemy. The duties of the Council of Safety were consequently the more arduous, requiring sleepless vigilance and unwearied activity; together with firmness and energy in some cases, and great delicacy in others. A watchful though general surveillance was necessarily enforced over the community at large, while an eye of closer scrutiny was kept upon the character and conduct of great numbers of individuals composing that community. Mr. Taylor was in every respect equal to the station, and was singularly fortunate both in detecting and defeating the evil machinations of the adherents of the Crown.


[FN] The gentleman here referred to was much in the civil service, and occasionally as a volunteer in the military, during the war of the Revolution, and was almost constantly in public life, afterward in the councils of the State, until within a few years of his death. He was nine years Lieutenant-Governor, and for a time the acting Governor of the State; to which station he was first chosen in 1813. His life was rather useful than brilliant; but he was a sound patriot, and died the death of a Christian in 1829—aged 87.

Among his early discoveries was the important circumstance that Lady Johnson was in active and frequent correspondence with her husband, and that the facilities derived from confidential agents and her powerful connexions, enabled her to keep the enemy on either side—in New-York and Canada—correctly advised, not only of the movements and designs of each other; but likewise of the situation of American affairs. Under these circumstances Mr. Taylor proposed a resolution to the Council, directing her removal forthwith from that part of the country. The proposition was received with disfavor, and encountered much opposition in the Council. Some of the members seemed to lack the firmness necessary to adopt such a resolution, anticipating the resentment and probable vengeance of the Baronet, on hearing that his lady had been treated with any thing bordering upon harshness; while others, probably, thought the precaution either would be useless, or that it was scarce worth while thus to wage war upon a woman. Convinced, however, of the danger of her longer presence in that section of the country, Mr. Taylor urged her removal so strenuously as at length to prevail; taking upon himself the execution of the order.

Sir John, greatly exasperated at the measure, availed himself of a flag to admonish the mover of the resolution, that should the chances of war throw that gentleman into his possession, he should be instantly delivered over to the fury of the savages. The reply of the Councilor was characteristic of the man:—"If Mr. Taylor should be so fortunate as to have Sir John Johnson in his power, he should most assuredly be treated as a gentleman." Several attempts were subsequently made by the enemy, probably under the direction of Sir John, to make a captive of that gentleman. It being his custom to ride frequently on horseback for exercise, and often on the road leading toward Schenectady, in company, generally, with his intimate friend through life, Major Popham, who was then in the military family of General James Clinton, a small scout of Indians, under the direction of Captain Brant, was on one occasion planted in ambush upon that road, at a point where it was supposed he would be sure to pass. Providentially, however, and for reasons never explained, and perhaps not known to themselves, on the morning referred to the friends shortened their ride, and wheeled about without passing the ambuscade, though approaching it within striking distance. One of the Indians, afterward taken prisoner, stated that Mr. Taylor might easily have been shot, but that their orders were to take him alive.

Another, and a yet bolder scheme was subsequently adopted to effect the capture of the sagacious Committee-man, for which purpose a party of the enemy were actually introduced not only into the city of Albany, but into the loft of Mr. Taylor's own stable, standing in the rear of his house and upon the margin of the river. In order, moreover, to facilitate their flight with the intended captive, a canoe had been procured and moored at the water's edge. Their design was to enter the house in the night, and seize and bear him silently away. One of the servants happening to step into the yard after the family had retired to rest, the lurking foes thought the time for a rush had arrived. But in their preparations to spring forward they alarmed the servant too soon, and he was enabled to get back into the house, bolt the door, and give timely warning. The insidious purpose was of course frustrated. [FN]


[FN] The facts in this statement respecting Lady Johnson and Mr. Taylor, have been derived from an extended biographical sketch of the latter, written by his surviving friend, the venerable Major William Popham, and also from a letter addressed to the author by General John T. Cooper.

Nor were these the only hostile attempts directed, at about the same period, against individuals at Albany; General Schuyler was again selected for a victim even of assassination. Smarting under their disappointment in the overthrow of Burgoyne, to which discomfiture the energy and efforts of Schuyler had so essentially contributed, a conspiracy was formed either to capture or destroy him. For this purpose the Tories corrupted a white man, who had been patronised by the General, and who was even then in his employment, to do the foul deed, and also one of the friendly Indians, whose clan had for years been in the habit of hunting upon his premises in Saratoga, during the fishing season at Fish Creek, which ran through his farm, and in which immense quantities of fish were then taken. [FN-1] To effect their object, the two assassins took their station under a covert, in a valley about half a mile from the General's premises, and by which they had previously ascertained he was shortly to pass. They soon descried his approach on horseback. As he advanced, they took deliberate aim; when, with a sudden movement, the Indian struck up his associate's gun with the exclamation—"I cannot kill him; I have eaten his bread too often!" [FN-2]


[FN-1] The herring fishery was considerable at Fish Creek at the period referred to. The Indians took them in large quantities—dried and pounded them into powder which they mixed with corn-meal, and packed away in boxes made of bark, for future consumption.

[FN-2] Facts communicated to the author by Mrs. James Cochran of Oswego.

Early in the Autumn, the inhabitants of Unadilla and the contiguous settlements in that direction, were again imploring the commander of Fort Schuyler for a detachment of troops to protect them from another expedition, which, the Oneidas had informed them, Colonels Johnson and Butler were getting on foot at Oswego. The project, according to the news obtained from the Oneidas, contemplated a simultaneous descent of the Tories and Indians upon five different points, comprehending all the principal settlements west of Schenectady. These unpleasant tidings were in some degree confirmed, by the discovery of a large scouting party of the enemy on the Sacondaga, at the north of Johnstown.

The alarm was increased, toward the close of October, by the arrival of an express at the Canajoharie Castle, announcing that within a few days Sir John Johnson would return to Oswego, with six hundred regular troops and a large body of Indians. It was stated that Sir John had succeeded in raising twenty-two Indian nations in arms against the Colonists. They were about sending a belt to the Oneidas, and in the event of their refusal to take up the hatchet with their brethren in behalf of the King, they were themselves to be attacked as the first measure of the invasion. These facts were immediately communicated to General Schuyler by a letter dated October 25th, announcing also the flight, to the ranks of Sir John Johnson, of Hon-Yost Schuyler, and twelve or fourteen of his neighbors at Fall Hill and in that vicinity, as heretofore stated. The letter contained a strong appeal for an additional force to defend the valley—with an assurance, that in the event of receiving no farther means of security, the greater part of the inhabitants had become so discouraged that they would probably lay down their arms; [FN] in other words, throw themselves upon the protection of the King.


[FN] MS. letter to General Schuyler—Secretary's office, Albany.

But, after all the alarm, nothing very serious resulted from these threatening indications during the residue of the year 1777. Still the Congress was unwilling that the year should close without making one more effort to win back the Six Nations from the British service, at least to a state of neutrality, if nothing more. With this view, on the 3d of December the following address to the Indians of those Nations was reported by the Committee on Indian affairs, and adopted. It is inserted at length in this order, on account of its eloquence, and its surpassing excellence among the documents connected with the Indian diplomacy of the republic:—

"Address of the Congress to the Six Nations.

"Brothers, Sachems, and Warriors: The great council of the United States call now for your attention. Open your ears that you may hear, and your hearts that you may understand.

"When the people on the other side of the great water, without any cause, sought our destruction, and sent over their ships and their warriors to fight against us, and to take away our possessions, you might reasonably have expected us to ask for your assistance. If we are enslaved, you cannot be free. For our strength is greater than yours. If they would not spare their own brothers of the same flesh and blood, would they spare you? If they burn our houses and ravage our lands, could yours be secure?

"But, Brothers, we acted on very different principles. Far from desiring you to hazard your lives in our quarrel, we advised you to remain still in ease and at peace. We even entreated you to remain neuter; and under the shade of your trees and by the side of your streams, to smoke your pipe in safety and contentment. Though pressed by our enemies, and when their ships obstructed our supplies of arms and powder and clothing, we were not unmindful of your wants. Of what was necessary for our own use, we cheerfully spared you a part. More we should have done, had it been in our power.

"Brothers, Cayugas, Senecas, Tuscaroras, and Mohawks: Open your ears and hear our complaints. Why have you listened to the voice of our enemies? Why have you suffered Sir John Johnson and Butler to mislead you? Why have you assisted General St. Leger and his warriors from the other side of the great water, by giving them a free passage through your country to annoy us; which both you and we solemnly promised should not be defiled with blood? Why have you suffered so many of your nations to join them in their cruel purpose? Is this a suitable return for our love and kindness, or did you suspect that we were too weak or too cowardly to defend our country, and join our enemies that you might come in for a share of the plunder? What has been gained by this unprovoked treachery? What but shame and disgrace! Your foolish warriors and their new allies have been defeated and driven back in every quarter; and many of them justly paid the price of their rashness with their lives. Sorry are we to find that our ancient chain of union, heretofore so strong and bright, should be broken by such poor and weak instruments as Sir John Johnson and Butler, who dare not show their faces among their countrymen; and by St. Leger, a stranger whom you never knew! What has become of the spirit, the wisdom, and the justice of your nations? Is it possible that you should barter away your ancient glory, and break through the most solemn treaties, for a few blankets or a little rum or powder? That trifles such as these should prove any temptation to you to cut down the strong tree of friendship, by our common ancestors planted in the deep bowels of the earth at Onondaga, your central council-fire? That tree which has been watered and nourished by their children until the branches had almost reached the skies! As well might we have expected that the mole should overturn the vast mountains of the Allegheny, or that the birds of the air should drink up the waters of Ontario!

"Brothers, Cayugas, Senecas, Onondagas, and Mohawks: Look into your hearts, and be attentive. Much are you to blame, and greatly have you wronged us. Be wise in time. Be sorry and mend your faults. The great council, though the blood of our friends, who fell by your tomahawks at the German Flats, cries aloud against you, will yet be patient. We do not desire to destroy you. Long have we been at peace; and it is still our wish to bury the hatchet, and wipe away the blood which some of you have so unjustly shed. Till time should be no more, we wish to smoke with you the calumet of friendship around your central fire at Onondaga. But, Brothers, mark well what we now tell you. Let it sink deep as the bottom of the sea, and never be forgotten by you or your children. If ever again you take up the hatchet to strike us—if you join our enemies in battle or council—if you give them intelligence, or encourage or permit them to pass through your country to molest or hurt any of our people—we shall look on you as our enemies, and treat you as the worst of enemies, who, under a cloak of friendship, cover your bad designs, and like the concealed adder, only wait for an opportunity to wound us when we are most unprepared.

"Brothers: Believe us who never deceive. If, after all our good counsel and all our care to prevent it, we must take up the hatchet, the blood to be shed will lie heavy on your heads. The hand of the thirteen United States is not short. It will reach to the farthest extent of the country of the Six Nations; and while we have right on our side, the good Spirit, whom we serve, will enable us to punish you, and put it out of your power to do us farther mischief.

"Brothers, Oneidas and Tuscaroras: Hearken to what we have to say to you in particular. It rejoices our hearts that we have no reason to reproach you in common with the rest of the Six Nations. We have experienced your love, strong as the oak, and your fidelity, unchangeable as truth. You have kept fast hold of the ancient covenant chain, and preserved it free from rust and decay, and bright as silver. Like brave men, for glory you despised danger; you stood forth in the cause of your friends, and ventured your lives in our battles. While the sun and moon continue to give light to the world, we shall love and respect you. As our trusty friends, we shall protect you, and shall at all times consider your welfare as our own.

"Brothers of the Six Nations: Open your ears and listen attentively. It is long ago that we explained to you our quarrel with the people on the other side of the great water. Remember that our cause is just; you and your forefathers have long seen us allied to those people in friendship. By our labor and industry they flourished like the trees of the forest, and became exceedingly rich and proud. At length nothing would satisfy them, unless, like slaves, we would give them the power over our whole substance. Because we would not yield to such shameful bondage, they took up the hatchet. You have seen them covering our coasts with their ships, and a part of our country with their warriors; but you have not seen us dismayed; on the contrary, you know that we have stood firm like rocks, and fought like men who deserved to be free. You know that we have defeated St. Leger, and conquered Burgoyne and all their warriors. Our chief men and our warriors are now fighting against the rest of our enemies, and we trust that the Great Spirit will soon put them in our power, or enable us to drive them all far beyond the great waters.

"Brothers: Believe us that they feel their own weakness, and that they are unable to subdue the thirteen United States. Else why have they not left our Indian brethren in peace, as they first promised and we wished to have done? Why have they endeavored, by cunning speeches, by falsehood and misrepresentations, by strong drink and presents, to embitter the minds and darken the understandings of all our Indian friends on this great continent, from the North to the South, and to engage them to take up the hatchet against us without any provocation? The Cherokees, like some of you, were prevailed upon to strike our people. We carried the war into their country, and fought them. They saw their error, they repented, and we forgave them. The United States are kind and merciful, and wish for peace with all the world. We have, therefore, renewed our ancient covenant chain with their nation.

"Brothers: The Shawanese and Delawares give us daily proofs of their good disposition and their attachment to us, and are ready to assist us against all our enemies. The Chickasaws are among the number of our faithful friends. And the Choctaws, though remote from us, have refused to listen to the persuasions of our enemies, rejected all their offers of corruption, and continue peaceable. The Creeks are also our steady friends. Oboylaco, their great chief, and the rest of their sachems and warriors, as the strongest mark of their sincere friendship, have presented the great council with an eagle's tail and rattle trap. They have desired that these tokens might be shown to the Six Nations and their allies, to convince them that the Creeks are at peace with the United States. We have therefore directed our commissioners to deliver them into your hands. Let them be seen by all the nations in your alliance, and preserved in your central council house at Onondaga.

"Brothers, Sachems and Warriors of the Six Nations: Hearken to our counsel. Let us who are born on the same great continent, love one another. Our interest is the same, and we ought to be one people, always ready to assist and serve each other. What are the people who belong to the other side of the great waters to either of us? They never come here for our sakes, but to gratify their own pride and avarice. Their business now is to kill and destroy our inhabitants, to lay waste our houses and farms. The day, we trust, will soon arrive, when we shall be rid of them forever. Now is the time to hasten and secure this happy event. Let us then, from this moment, join hand and heart in the defence of our common country. Let us rise as one man, and drive away our cruel oppressors. Henceforward let none be able to separate us. If any of our people injure you, acquaint us of it and you may depend upon full satisfaction. If any of yours hurt us, be you ready to repair the wrong or punish the aggressor. Above all, shut your ears against liars and deceivers, who, like false meteors, strive to lead you astray, and to set us at variance. Believe no evil of us till you have taken pains to discover the truth. Our council-fire always burns clear and bright in Pennsylvania. Our commissioners and agents are near your country. We shall not be blinded by false reports or false appearances.

"Brothers: What may be farther necessary at this time for our common good you will learn from our commissioners, who sit round our council-fire at Albany. Hear what they say, and treasure it up in your hearts. Farewell."

This appeal produced no effect. It was one of the misfortunes incident to the poverty of the country at that crisis, that Congress was unable to conciliate the friendship of the Indians, by such a liberal dispensation of presents as they had been in the habit of receiving from the superintendents of the crown, and as they were yet enabled to receive from the British government at or by the way of Montreal. Thayendanegea, early in the preceding year, had taunted General Herkimer, at Unadilla, with the poverty of the Continental government, which, he said, was not able to give the Indians a blanket. The fact was but too true; and the officers of the crown were not slow in availing themselves of it, not only by appeals to their cupidity, but by a more lavish bestowment of presents than ever. Thus Guy Johnson, in one of his speeches to the Six Nations at the West, put the significant questions to them: "Are they," (the rebels, as he probably called them) "able to give you any thing more than a piece of bread and a glass of rum? Are you willing to go with them, and suffer them to make horses and oxen of you, to put you to the wheelbarrows, and to bring us all into slavery?" While, therefore, the Americans were unable to furnish the Indians with those necessaries of life, for a supply of which they had become accustomed to rely upon the white man, they found an abundance of stores at Montreal, wide open at their approach. And under these circumstances, with the single exceptions of the Oneidas, and the feeble band of the Tuscaroras, all the efforts of Congress to conciliate their friendship, or even to persuade them to neutrality, proved unavailing.

Thus ended the military operations of the year 1777. At the close of the Pennsylvania campaign, the British army went into winter quarters in Philadelphia, and the American at Valley Forge. On the 15th day of November, what are now called the old "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union," between the thirteen Colonies, were adopted by Congress; and on the 22d of the same month, it was resolved that all proposals for a treaty between the United States and Great Britain, inconsistent with the independence of the former, should be rejected. It was likewise farther resolved, that no conference should be held with any commissioners on the part of Great Britain, unless, as a measure preliminary, the fleets and armies of that power were withdrawn.




CHAPTER XIV.


Treaty of alliance with France—Policy of France—Incidents of the Winter—Projected expedition against St. Johns—Lafayette appointed to the command of the North—Failure of the enterprise for lack of means—Disappointment and chagrin of Lafayette—Unpleasant indications respecting the Western Indians—Indian council at Johnstown—Attended by Lafayette—Its proceedings—And result—Reward offered for Major Carleton—Letter of Lafayette—He retires from the Northern Department—Return of the loyalists for their families—Unopposed—Their aggressions—Prisoners carried into Canada—Their fate—Re-appearance of Brant at Oghkwaga and Unadilla—Anecdote of Brant—Comparative cruelty of the Tories and Indians—Murder of a family—Exposed situation of the people—Captain McKean—Sends a challenge to Brant—Burning of Springfield—First battle in Schoharie.

The opening of the year 1778 was marked by an event that diffused universal joy among the people. It had been rightly judged by American statesmen, that, smarting under the loss which France had experienced by the war ending in 1763, of her broad North American possessions, the government of that country would be nothing loath to aid in the infliction of a like dismemberment of territory upon Great Britain. With a view, therefore, of cultivating friendly relations with France, and deriving assistance from her if possible, Commissioners had been despatched to the Court of Versailles, in 1776, with the plan of a treaty of amity and commerce to be submitted to that government. Still, more than a year had elapsed, during which the Commissioners [FN-1] had been exerting themselves to the utmost, to obtain a recognition of the Independence of the United States without success. It was evident that France looked upon the revolt of the American Colonies with secret satisfaction; but she had been so much weakened by the former contest, that time was needed for repose and recovery of her strength. Hence, from the arrival of the Commissioners in the French capital, in December 1776, to the close of 1777, they had been living upon "hope deferred." It is true that the Americans received great assistance from the French, in supplies of arms and ammunition; and although not openly allowed, yet means were found by the American privateers, secretly to dispose of their prizes in French ports. Still, the government was lavish in its professions of friendship for England, even though confidentially giving the Americans strong assurances of sympathy and ultimate assistance. The untoward result of Burgoyne's campaign, intelligence of which was received in Paris early in December, was the opportune means of ending this vacillating policy on the part of the Court of Versailles. The feelings of the French people toward England could no longer be disguised; since the news occasioned as much general joy as though the victory had been achieved by their own arms. [FN-2] The consequence was, that, on the 6th of February, the French government entered into treaties of amity, commerce, and alliance, with the United States, on principles of the most perfect reciprocity and equality. The French cabinet clearly foresaw that this measure would soon produce a war between themselves and England, and acted in the expectation of such a consequence. Indeed, M. Girard, one of the French Secretaries of State, in his conferences with the American Commissioners, had the frankness to avow that they were not acting wholly for the sake of the United States, but because they thought the moment a favorable one for humbling their haughty rival, by aiding in the dismemberment of her empire. Hence the King had not only determined to acknowledge the Independence of the United States, but to support it—without the expectation of compensation. [FN-3]


[FN-1] The Commissioners were, Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee. Mr. Jefferson had been originally designated as one of the Commissioners; but, declining the appointment, Mr. Lee was selected in his stead.

[FN-2] Letter of the Commissioners.

[FN-3] Marshall.

The news of the treaty with France was not received in the United States until late in the Spring. [FN-1] Meantime other circumstances occurred during the Winter, in the Northern part of New-York, deserving of note in the present narrative. First among these, was the notable project of General Gates for a second descent, in mid-winter, upon Canada. In November following the defeat of Burgoyne, on the reorganization of the Board of War, Gates, in the first flush of his popularity, was placed at its head as president. He had not been long at Yorktown, [FN-2] where Congress was then in session, before he conceived the project of directing an irruption into Canada across the ice upon Lake Champlain, for the purpose of destroying the stores and shipping of the enemy at St. Johns; and, possibly, of striking a sudden blow upon Montreal. It was subsequently but too well ascertained that the condition of the Northern army, with which Gates certainly ought to have been acquainted, was by no means such as to warrant the undertaking of any offensive enterprise. Still the victorious commander of the North had the address to obtain a vote of Congress directing the expedition, [FN-3] the conduct of which was entrusted to the Marquis de Lafayette. This gallant young nobleman had been burning with a desire to distinguish himself in a separate command, and this project opened to him the prospect of realizing the object dearest to his heart.


[FN-1] The event was commemorated in the American camp, on the 7th of May, in a style corresponding with its importance—a general order for the celebration having been issued by the Commander-in-chief. It began as follows:—"It having pleased the Almighty Ruler of the Universe to defend the cause of the United American States, and finally to raise us up a powerful friend among the princes of the earth, to establish our liberty and independency upon a lasting foundation; it becomes us to get apart a day for gratefully acknowledging the divine goodness, and celebrating the important event, which we owe to his divine interposition." The pageant was strictly military, and is described by the letters of that day as exceedingly brilliant. The joy manifested was unfeigned and unspeakable. The Commander-in-chief dined in public with all the officers of his army. "When his Excellency took his leave, there was a universal clap, with loud huzzas, which continued until he had proceeded a quarter of a mile, during which time there were a thousand hats tossed in the air. His Excellency turned round with his retinue, and huzzaed several times."—Letter of an officer.

[FN-2] York, in Pennsylvania.

[FN-3] Journals of Congress, vol. iv. p. 48.

But, neither in the inception nor in the maturing of the enterprise, had the Commander-in-chief been consulted; and the first knowledge he possessed of the project was derived from a letter from General Gates, inclosing another to the Marquis, informing him of his appointment to the command. [FN] The disrespect to the Commander-in-chief, to whom the youthful soldier was bound by the strongest ties of friendship and respect, was so manifest, that the Marquis at first hesitated in accepting the command. Nor was his reluctance lessened by the suspicious circumstance that General Conway, the base instrument of the Gates faction in the conspiracy against Washington, had been assigned as his second in command. Soaring above all selfish considerations, however, Washington advised the Marquis to accept the trust confided to him by Congress. Lafayette, therefore, repaired from the camp at Valley Forge to York town, to be more particularly advised as to the object and the details of the enterprise. The plan of organizing a light but efficient force, to make a sudden dash upon St. Johns, and destroy the flotilla which gave the enemy the command of Lake Champlain, and to inflict such farther injury as might be effected in a rapid campaign, was fully unfolded to him. Ample supplies of men and means were promised by Gates; and, after securing the services of the Baron de Kalb to the expedition—an officer older in rank than Conway, who would necessarily be his second in command—the Marquis accepted the appointment.


[FN] "I am much obliged by your polite request of my opinion and advice on the expedition to Canada and other occasions. In the present instance, as I neither know the extent of the objects in view, nor the means to be employed to effect them, it is not in my power to pass any judgment upon the subject. I can only sincerely wish that success may attend it both as it may advance the public good, and on account of the personal honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, for whom I have a very particular esteem and regard."—[Letter of Washington to Gates, Jan. 27, 1778.] "I shall say no more of the Canada expedition, than that it is at an end. I never was made acquainted with a single circumstance relating to it."—Letter of Washington to General Armstrong, of Pennsylvania.

Full of high hopes, a brilliant enterprise before him, and panting for an opportunity to signalize himself in a separate command, the Marquis pushed forward to Albany, amid all the rigors of winter, to enter at once upon the service, and apparently with as much confidence as though he had achieved the exploit. Sad, however, was his disappointment at the posture of affairs on his arrival at Albany. Conway, who had arrived there three days before him, at once assured him that the expedition was quite impossible. Such, likewise, was the opinion of Generals Schuyler, Lincoln, and Arnold, the latter two of whom were detained at Albany by the unhealed wounds received upon the fields of Saratoga. Indeed, he was not long in ascertaining, from the quarter-master, commissary, and clothier-generals, that there was a lamentable deficiency of almost every necessary of which he had been led to expect an abundant supply. The number of troops was altogether inadequate. Three thousand effective men were believed to be the smallest force that would suffice, and that number was promised. But scarcely twelve hundred could be mustered fit for duty, and the greater part of these were too naked even for a Summer campaign. [FN-1] Their pay was greatly in arrear; and officers and men were alike indisposed to the service. [FN-2] Originally it had been intended to confide the proposed expedition to General Stark, whose prowess at the battle of Bennington had rendered him exceedingly popular with the people; and it was supposed that he could at once bring into the field a sufficient number of his mountaineers to strike the blow with success. [FN-3] Stark was invited to Albany, and James Duane was sent thither from Congress to confer with him upon the subject. But the inducement offered by Congress being in the form of a bounty, contingent only upon success, was thought not sufficient; and when a representation of the circumstances was made by Mr. Duane to that body, the scheme was changed and enlarged, at the suggestion of General Gates, according to the plan which the Marquis was to execute.


[FN-1] Letter of Lafayette to General Washington, dated Albany, Feb. 13, 1778.

[FN-2] On the 19th of February James Duane wrote to Governor Clinton respecting the impracticability of the enterprise, since the Marquis could find neither the troops nor the preparations. In the course of his letter, Mr. Duane said of the Marquis:—"His zeal for this country, of which he has given marks even to enthusiasm, and his ardent desire of glory, lead him to wish the expedition practicable; but he is too considerate to pursue it rashly, or without probable grounds of a successful issue. I must mention to your Excellency a circumstance which shows the liberality of his disposition. He determined, on his entering into Canada, to supply his army through his own private bills on France to the amount of five or six thousand guineas, and to present that sum to Congress as a proof of his love to America and the rights of human nature."

[FN-3] "I was to find General Stark with a large body, and indeed General Gates told me 'General Stark will have burned the fleet before your arrival.' Well, the first letter I receive in Albany is from General Stark, who wishes to know 'what number of men, from where, for what time, and for what rendezvous, I desire him to raise.'"—Letter from Lafayette to Washington.

Having attentively examined the situation of affairs, and the means within his control, and consulted with the several able captains at Albany, the young soldier saw with inexpressible chagrin that the obstacles were insuperable. In the language of another, amounting to a bitter satire, whether thus intended or not—"the Generals only were got in readiness;" [FN-1] and the gallant Marquis was compelled to relinquish the enterprise, without even the poor privilege of making an attempt. He certainly had great reason, not only for vexation, but disgust—advised, as he had been, to announce to his court the degree of confidence reposed in him by Congress, in thus confiding to him a separate command of such importance—not, of course, suspecting, for a moment, that General Gates could have been so ignorant of the actual situation of the department from which he had been so recently transferred. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Marshall.

[FN-2] The history of this abortive project has been drawn chiefly from a long MS. letter from James Duane to Governor Clinton, in the author's possession. On his way to Albany, the Marquis visited Mr. Duane, and was accompanied by him thither.

The Marquis wrote to his greatest and best friend, the Commander-in-chief, upon the subject of what he called his "distressing and ridiculous situation," in the bitterness of his spirit. "I am sent," said he, "with a great noise, at the head of an army, to do great things. The whole continent, France, and, what is the worst, the British army, will be in expectation. How far they will be deceived, how far we shall be ridiculed, you may judge by the candid account you have got of the state of our affairs." It is quite evident, from the tenor of the letter we are quoting, that the Marquis suspected that he had been purposely detached from the company of Washington with some sinister design:—"There are things, I dare say, in which I am deceived. A certain Colonel is not here for nothing." . . . "I am sure a cloud is drawn before my eyes. However, there are points I cannot be deceived in." . . . "They have sent me more than twenty French officers. I do not know what to do with them. I am at a loss to know how to act, and indeed I do not know for what I am here myself." And again, toward the close of the letter, he says:—"I fancy the actual scheme is, to have me out of this part of the continent, and General Conway as chief under the immediate direction of General Gates. How they will bring it about I do not know, but be certain something of that kind will appear. You are nearer than myself, and every honest man in Congress is your friend; therefore you may foresee and prevent the evil a hundred times better than I can." [FN]


[FN] Letter from Lafayette to Washington, dated Albany, Feb. 23, 1778.—Vide Sparks, Cor. of Washington, vol. v, Appendix.

The true position of affairs at Albany having been made known to Congress, it was resolved to instruct the Marquis to suspend the expedition, and at the same time to assure him "that Congress entertained a high sense of his prudence, activity, and zeal; and that they were fully persuaded nothing would have been wanting on his own part, or on the part of the officers who accompanied him, to give the expedition the utmost possible effect." [FN]


[FN] Secret Journal, March 2d, cited by Sparks.

But, to return to the Indian affairs of the Mohawk Valley. Early in the year, various unpleasant symptoms were perceptible, indicating the design of a renewed and more extensive Indian war than had been anticipated at any previous moment. Information was received from the remote West, of a general disposition among the nations in the region of the great lakes, and the upper Mississippi, to join the Mohawks, Cayugas, Onondagas, and Senecas, against the United States. The master-spirit of those threatened movements was Joseph Brant, whose winter-quarters were at the central and convenient point of Niagara. Nor were Sir John Johnson and his associates, Claus and Butler, inactive; while the British commander at Detroit, Colonel Hamilton, was at the same time exercising a powerful influence over the surrounding nations of the forest. On the opening of the year, therefore, great fears were entertained for the security of the frontiers from the Mohawk to the Ohio. Still, with the Six Nations, Congress resolved to make yet another effort of conciliation—to secure their neutrality, if nothing farther. Accordingly, on the 2d of February, resolutions were passed, directing a council to be held with these nations at Johnstown, in the County of Tryon. General Schuyler and Volkert P. Douw were appointed commissioners for that purpose, and Governor Clinton was requested to designate a special commissioner to be present on the occasion. In pursuance of this solicitation, James Duane was appointed for that duty. The resolutions of Congress instructed the commissioners "to speak to the Indians in language becoming the representatives of free, sovereign, and independent States, and in such a tone as would convince them that they felt themselves to be so." [FN] It was left to the discretion of the commissioners to determine whether it would be prudent to insist upon their taking up arms in behalf of the States, or whether to content themselves with efforts to secure their neutrality.


[FN] Journals of Cong. vol. iv. page 63.

The directions were, that the council should be holden between the 15th and 20th of February; but so slow or reluctant were the Indians in assembling, that the proceedings were not commenced until the 9th of March. Whether General Schuyler attended, is not known. The Marquis de Lafayette, who was then temporarily in command of the Northern Department, accompanied Mr. Duane to Johnstown, and was present at the council. More than seven hundred Indians were collected at the treaty, consisting of Oneidas, Tuscaroras, Onondagas, a few Mohawks, and three or four Cayugas; but not a single Seneca, which was by far the most powerful nation. On the contrary, they had the boldness to send a message, affecting great surprise, "that while our tomahawks were sticking in their heads, their wounds bleeding, and their eyes streaming with tears for the loss of their friends at German Flats, [FN] the commissioners should think of inviting them to a treaty!"


[FN] Oriskany, meaning. The quotation is from a manuscript letter of James Duane.

The proceedings were opened by an address from Congress, framed in accordance with the spirit of the resolutions already cited, asserting the power of the United States, and their magnanimous conduct toward the Six Nations—and charging them distinctly with the ingratitude, cruelty, and treachery, with which their pacific advances had been requited, and for which reparation was demanded. From this charge of treachery, the Oneidas and Tuscaroras were not only honorably excepted, but, on the contrary, were applauded for their firmness and integrity, and assured of friendship and protection.

An Onondaga chief spoke in behalf of the guilty tribes. He exculpated himself and his brother sachems, casting the blame on the young and head-strong warriors, who, he said, would not listen to prudent councils—illustrating their own internal difficulties by those occasionally existing among the people of the States, which it was at times found impossible to repress. He also spoke of the difficulty they were obliged to encounter, in withstanding the influence of Butler and others in the service of the Crown, acquired by bribery and other kindred artifices.

An Oneida chief answered for his own nation and the Tuscaroras, with a spirit and dignity which would not have disgraced a Roman senator. He pathetically lamented the degeneracy of the unfriendly tribes; predicted their final destruction; and declared the fixed and unalterable resolution of the tribes which he represented, at every hazard, to hold fast the covenant chain with the United States, and be buried with them in the same grave, or with them to enjoy the fruits of victory and peace. He fully evinced the sincerity of these professions, by desiring that the United States would erect a fortress in their country, and station a small garrison within it for their defence. A promise to this effect having been given, the Oneida concluded with a solemn assurance, that the two nations for whom he spoke would at all times be ready to cooperate with the United States against all their enemies.

In a private interview afterward, the Oneidas warned the Commissioners against trusting to the Onondagas, whom they considered as enemies to the United States, notwithstanding their seeming contrition for the past. The Oneidas declared that they had not the least doubt that the Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas would renew their hostilities early in the Spring; that Colonel Butler would again be in possession of Oswego, which he would more strongly fortify; and for these events they entreated the Commissioners to be prepared.

In their reply to the Indians, the Commissioners again applauded the Oneidas and Tuscaroras for their fidelity and courage. The other nations, they said, were not sufficiently represented to warrant the holding of a treaty with them. But they, nevertheless, directed that another council for those tribes should be held in Onondaga, at some subsequent day, at which the demand of the United States of satisfaction for past wrongs should be publicly made, and an explicit answer exacted. They were admonished that the cause of the United States was just; that the hand of the United States could reach the remotest corner of the country of the Senecas; and that they trusted that the Good Spirit whom they served, would enable them to punish all their enemies, and put it out of their power to do them farther injury. [FN]


[FN] Unpublished letter of James Duane to Governor Clinton, giving a report of his mission, in the author's possession.

The inhabitants of Tryon County, many of whom were spectators at the council, were highly gratified with the proceedings; and it was supposed that the moral effect would be good, not only in regard to the Oneidas, but also upon the Onondagas—those tribes being closely connected by intermarriages; but the Commissioners left the council under the full persuasion that from the Senecas, Cayugas, and the greater part of the Mohawks, nothing but revenge for their lost friends and tarnished glory at Oriskany and Fort Schuyler was to be anticipated; more especially since the enemy was so plentifully supplied with the means of corruption, while it was not in the power of the United States so much as to furnish their best friends with the necessaries of life, even in the course of trade. [FN-1] Still, in order, as far as possible, to regain some of their lost ascendancy over the Indians, by means of traffic, the Commissioners of that department were shortly afterward authorized by Congress to open a trading establishment at Fort Schuyler. But the inadequacy of the provision must be evident from the fact, that the slender exchequer of the government allowed an appropriation of no greater sum for that important object, than ten thousand dollars. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Unpublished letter of James Duane to Governor Clinton, heretofore cited.

[FN-2] Journals of Congress, vol. iv. p. 256.

While at Johnstown during this visit, the Marquis de Lafayette was waited upon by Colonel Campbell and others, for the purpose of calling his attention to the exposed situation of Cherry Valley. The consequence was an order for the erection of a fort at that place. An engineer was detailed upon that duty, and detachments of troops ordered both to that place and Schoharie. Three slight fortifications had been built in the valley of the Schoharie-kill during the preceding year, called the Upper, Middle, and Lower Forts. These works were merely circumvallations of earth and wood, thrown up around some strong dwelling-houses constructed of stone, within which the women and children were placed in moments of peculiar danger. The church was the citadel of the Lower Fort, and all were manned by small companies of soldiers, having each a single brass field-piece. The Marquis likewise directed the erection of a fort in the Oneida country, pursuant to the request of the Indians of that nation.

It was but too evident, from the reports borne upon every western breeze, that all these measures of precaution in that direction were necessary. To the Johnsons and their adherents the recovery of the Valley of the Mohawk was an object of the first importance; and they watched every opportunity of moving in that quarter, which promised even a possible chance of success. Even while the Marquis was present with the Indian Commissioners at Johnstown, no less a personage than a British Colonel, a nephew of Sir Guy Carleton, and bearing the same honorable name, was well understood to be lurking in that vicinity as a spy. Every effort was made for his arrest; and, as an inducement to the militia and Indians to be on the alert, the Marquis offered a reward of fifty guineas from his own purse, as will appear by the annexed letter to Col. Gansevoort:—

"The Marquis de Lafayette to Col. Gansevoort.
Johnstown, the 9th March, 1778.

"Sir,

"As the taking of Colonel Carleton is of the greatest importance, I wish you would use every exertion in your power to have him apprehended. I have desired Colonel Livingston, who knows him, to let you have any intelligence he can give, and join to them those I have got by one other spy, about the dress and figure of Carleton. You may send as many parties as you please, and every where you'll think proper, and do every convenient thing for discovering him. I dare say he knows we are after him, and has nothing in view but to escape, which I beg you to prevent by all means. You may promise, in my name, fifty guineas hard money, besides every money they can find about Carleton, to any party of soldiers or Indians who will bring him alive. As every one knows now what we send for, there is no inconvenience to scatter in the country which reward is promised, in order to stimulate the Indians.

"I have the honor to be. Sir, Your most obedient servant, The Mqs. de Lafayette. "Col. Gansevoort, Com't. Fort Schuyler." [FN]


[FN] This letter has been copied from the original, among the Gansevoort papers.

The condition contained in this letter, that, to entitle the captor to the promised reward, Carleton must be brought in alive, comports with the well-known humanity, through life, of the illustrious friend of human liberty who wrote it. But the search was fruitless, Carleton was an active and efficient partisan officer, and was never taken. The Marquis retained the command at the North only until the middle of April, when he was ordered to head-quarters, and Gates again assumed the command of the department.

In the month of June, the loyalists who had fled to Canada with Sir John Johnson, to the number of one hundred and upward, performed an exploit equally bold and remarkable, which naturally suggests the inquiry, where were the Whigs of Tryon County at that time; and in what were they engaged? The incident to which reference is had, was the return of those selfsame loyalists for their families, whom they were permitted to collect together, and with whom they were suffered to depart into the country, and the active service of the enemy. Nor was this all. Not only was no opposition made to their proceedings, but on their way they actually committed acts of flagrant hostility, destroyed property, and took several prisoners. Having completed their arrangements, they moved northward from Fort Hunter, through Fonda's Bush—making four prisoners on their way thither, [FN-1] and at Fonda's Bush five others. [FN-2] From this place they proceeded across the great marsh to Sir William Johnson's fish-house, on the Sacondaga, capturing a man named Martin, and another named Harris, on the way, and at the fish-house taking a brave fellow named Solomon Woodworth and four others. [FN-3] They burnt the house and outbuildings of Godfrey Shew at this place, and departed with their prisoners, leaving the women and children houseless. Embarking on the Sacondaga in light canoes, previously moored at that place for the purpose, they descended twenty-five miles to the Hudson, and thence, by the way of Lakes George and Champlain, proceeded to St. Johns in safety. The day after his capture, Woodworth succeeded in making his escape. At St. Johns, John Shew and four others were given up to the Indians, by whom they were taken to their village in Canada. They were neither considered nor treated exactly as prisoners of war; and Shew, with three of his companions, soon afterward escaped and returned home. [FN-4] From St. Johns, the loyal party proceeded down the St. Lawrence to Quebec, where the residue of the prisoners were kept in close confinement about four months. Some of the number died, and the remainder were sent to Halifax, and thence exchanged by the way of Boston. This movement of the Tories back in a body to their deserted homes, and its success, form one of the most extraordinary incidents, though in itself comparatively unimportant, which transpired during the wars of the Mohawk country. [FN-5]


[FN-1] Mr. Cough and his son, and Mr. Marinas and his son.

[FN-2] John Putnam, Jr., Mr. Salisbury, Mr. Rice, Mr. Joseph Scott, and Mr. Bowman.

[FN-3] Godfrey Shew, and his three sons, John, Stephen, and Jacob.

[FN-4] In the Autumn of 1780 young Shew was again captured by a scouting party of Indians and Tories, in the woods in the neighborhood of Ballston, and at the instigation of one of the latter, named John Parker, was immediately murdered. Parker was himself soon afterward taken as a spy by Captain Bernett of the militia—carried to Albany, tried, convicted, and executed.

[FN-5] The facts respecting this expedition have been collected and furnished to the author by John J. Shew, of Northampton, N. Y.

With the opening of the season for active operations—though he was himself never inactive—Thayendanegea had again returned to his former haunts on the Susquehanna—Oghkwaga and Unadilla. He soon proved himself an active and dreaded partisan. No matter for the difficulties or the distance, wherever a blow could be struck to any advantage, Joseph Brant was sure to be there. Frequent, moreover, were the instances in which individuals, and even whole families in the outskirts of the settlements, disappeared, without any knowledge on the part of those who were left, that an enemy had been near them. "The smoking ruins of their dwellings, the charred bones of the dead, and the slaughtered carcasses of the domestic animals, were the only testimonials of the cause of the catastrophe, until the return of a captive, or the disclosures of some prisoner taken from the foe, furnished more definite information." [FN] But there is no good evidence that Brant was himself a participator in secret murders, or attacks upon isolated individuals or families; and there is much reason to believe that the bad feelings of many of the loyalists induced them to perpetrate greater enormities themselves, and prompt the parties of Indians whom they often led, to commit greater barbarities than the savages would have done had they been left to themselves.


[FN] Campbell's Annals.

In support of the foregoing opinion of Captain Brant, the following incident, occurring in the Summer of the present year, may be adduced. A lad in Schoharie County, named William McKown, while engaged in raking hay alone in a meadow, happening to turn round, perceived an Indian very near him. Startled at his perilous situation, he raised his rake for defence, but his fears were instantly dissipated by the savage, who said—"Do not be afraid, young man; I shall not hurt you." He then inquired of the youth for the residence of a loyalist named Foster. The lad gave him the proper direction, and inquired of the Indian whether he knew Mr. Foster? "I am partially acquainted with him," was the reply, "having once seen him at the Half-way Creek." [FN-1] The Indian then inquired the lad's name, and having been informed, he added—"You are a son of Captain McKown who lives in the north-east part of the town, I suppose; I know your father very well; he lives neighbor to Captain McKean; I know McKean very well, and a very fine fellow he is, too." Emboldened by the familiar discourse of the Indian, the lad ventured to ask his name in turn. Hesitating for a moment, his rather unwelcome visitor replied:—"My name is Brant!" "What! Captain Brant?" eagerly demanded the youth. "No; I am a cousin of his," was the rejoinder; but accompanied by a smile and a look that plainly disclosed the transparent deception. It was none other than the terrible Thayendanegea himself. [FN-2]


[FN-1] Bowman's Creek, halfway between Cherry Valley and the Mohawk River.

[FN-2] Annals of Tryon County.

On the other hand, the following tragic circumstance, given on the same indisputable authority, sustains the assertion that the Tories were oftentimes more cruel than their savage associates. While a party of hostiles were prowling about the borders of Schoharie, the Indians killed and scalped a mother, and a large family of children. "They had just completed the work of death, when some loyalists of the party came up, and discovered an infant breathing sweetly in its cradle. An Indian warrior, noted for his barbarity, approached the cradle with his uplifted hatchet. The babe looked up in his face, and smiled; the feelings of nature triumphed over the ferocity of the savage; the hatchet fell with his arm, and he was about stooping down to take the innocent in his arms, when one of the loyalists, cursing him for his humanity, thrust it through with his bayonet, and, thus transfixed, held it up struggling in the agonies of death, as he exclaimed—'this, too, is a rebel!'"

To guard against these painful transactions, nothing short of the most exemplary watchfulness would suffice. Not only their habitations, but those who labored in the fields, were guarded, being themselves armed at their ploughs, like the laborers of the prophet in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Nor was this vigilance confined to any particular location. The inhabitants around the whole border, from Saratoga, north of Johnstown, and west to the German Flats, thence south stretching down to Unadilla, and thence eastwardly crossing the Susquehanna, along the Charlotte river to Harpersfield, and thence back to Albany—were necessarily an armed yeomanry, watching for themselves, and standing sentinels for each other in turn; harassed daily by conflicting rumors; now admonished of the approach of the foe in the night by the glaring flames of a neighbor's house; or compelled suddenly to escape from his approach, at a time and in a direction the least expected. Such was the tenure of human existence around the confines of this whole district of country, from the Spring of 1777 to the end of the contest in 1782.

The first movement of Brant himself, this season, (1778,) was upon the settlement of Springfield, a small town at the head of Otsego Lake, lying directly west of Cherry Valley, about ten miles. Those of the men who did not fly, were taken prisoners. The chieftain then burnt the entire settlement, with the exception of a single house, into which he collected all the women and children, and left them uninjured.

It was reported in the month of June, that Brant, whose forces were increasing at Unadilla, was fortifying that post; and Captain McKean was despatched with a small patrol in that direction, by the people of Cherry Valley, to make observations. Arriving at a house about twenty-five miles from that place, McKean was informed that Brant had been there with fifty men, that day, and would probably return in the evening. McKean was at first disposed to take possession of the house, and attempt its defence—his force consisting of but five men, exclusive of himself. But, ultimately forming a more prudent resolution, he withdrew "his forces" before nightfall, and returned home without having reconnoitered the chieftain's position at Unadilla. In the course of his journey, he wrote a letter to Brant, upbraiding him for the predatory system of warfare in which he was engaged, and challenging him either to single combat, or to meet him with an equal number of men and have a pitched battle—"adding, that if he would come to Cherry Valley, they would change him from a Brant to a goose." This chivalrous missive was fastened to a stick, and placed in an Indian path. No modern post-office could have transmitted the letter with greater speed or safety. The "contents" were "noted" by Brant in a letter addressed to Mr. Parcifer Carr, a loyalist living some fifteen or twenty miles north, upon the Unadilla settlement, to whom the chief wrote for provisions. He also solicited Mr. Carr to allow two or three of his men to join him, and likewise to send him a few guns, with some ammunition—adding, "I mean now to fight the cruel rebels as well as I can." In a postscript, he intimated that the people of Cherry Valley, though very bold in words, would find themselves mistaken in calling him a "goose." Whether the challenge of Captain McKean, and the pun upon the chieftain's name, had any influence upon his subsequent conduct in that section of the country, is not known.

On the 2d of July a smart engagement took place, on the upper branch of the Cobleskill, between a party of regular troops and Schoharie militia under Captain Christian Brown, and a large body of Indians. There were twenty-two militiamen and thirty regulars, the latter under charge of a lieutenant whose name has not been preserved. The Indians, by their own account, were four hundred and fifty strong. They were victorious—the Americans retreating with a loss of fourteen killed, eight wounded, and two missing. The Indians burnt several houses, killed and destroyed all the horses and cattle which they could not drive away, and took considerable plunder besides. They remained in the woods adjoining the battleground one day and two nights, dressing the wounded, and packing up their booty, with which they retired unmolested. [FN]


[FN] The only account of this battle which the author has been able to discover, is contained in John M. Brown's pamphlet history of Schoharie. He states it to have taken place on the day preceding the massacre of Wyoming, but dates it in 1776, instead of 1778, which was doubtless the true date.

Thenceforward, until the close of the war, the settlements of Schoharie were perpetually harassed by the strolling bands of the enemy, until at length they were entirely laid waste by a formidable invasion. The principal of these settlements was the vale of the Schoharie-kill—doubly inviting from the beauty of its scenery and the fertility of its soil—which was even then thickly inhabited. But, although frequently doomed to suffer from the savage tomahawk, justice nevertheless demands the admission, that the first blood was drawn in that valley, and the first act of barbarity committed, by the white man, upon the body of an Indian sachem.

The circumstances leading to the outrage were these: At an early stage of the contest, the officers of the Crown made a very strenuous effort to control the popular feeling, and preserve the loyalty of the people of Schoharie. For this purpose, not only the regular militia of the settlements, but all the male population capable of bearing arms, were required to meet the King's Commissioners at the house of Captain George Mann, a loyalist of great wealth and influence, to take the oath of allegiance. They assembled in arms, and were kept on parade, day after day, as they slowly gathered at the place of rendezvous in obedience to the requisition. Those who were loyalists at heart readily took the oath; but great reluctance was manifested on the part of those whose predilections ran with the Whigs. These, however, were threatened with the pains and penalties of arrest, confiscation, and death, in case of refusal; so that for the most part they complied with the demand of the Commissioners, and took the oath of fidelity to the Crown. Immediately on taking the oath, the hat of the subject was decorated with a piece of scarlet cloth; while some of those most strongly desirous of manifesting their loyalty, wore scarlet caps. Prominent among the latter class, were Ludwig Snyder, of the Duanesburg settlement, [FN] and a Mohawk sachem named Peter Nickus, who gave offence to the Whigs by brandishing his tomahawk and occasionally sounding the war-whoop.


[FN] Snyder afterward abjured the Loyal cause, and discharged his duty faithfully as a Whig.

But there were a few bold spirits upon whom, neither the threats of his Majesty's officers, nor the menaces of the Indians in their company, had any effect. They refused peremptorily to take the oath. Chief among these were Nicholas Sternberg and William Deitz, who left the parade on the evening of the first or second day, and returned to their homes—bitterly denounced as rebels and traitors by the Royalists, and threatened with a visit of Tories and Indians during the night. To avoid an arrest, Sternberg took to the woods at evening, leaving his family in great anxiety, although the slaves, of whom he possessed a large number, volunteered to defend their mistress and the children. But there was no pursuit, and the recusants both returned to the parade on the following day—determined, of course, to render all proper obedience to the laws yet in force, but equally determined not to take the oath of allegiance; although Mrs. Sternberg besought her husband, with tears, not to jeopard his own safety, and the lives of his family, by longer refusal. Nay, she went farther; and appealing to the Bible, the good woman showed him the passage in which all men are enjoined "to fear God and honor the King." But it was with Sternberg as with the Puritans, He believed that "opposition to tyrants was obedience to God," as implicitly as did the regicides who engraved that immortal sentiment upon the New Haven rock; and he was inflexible in his purpose.

Fortunately, however, in the course of the day affairs took quite a different turn. It was at about the middle of the afternoon that Captain Mann mustered those who had taken the oath and received the red badge. They numbered one hundred and upward, and were paraded before the Captain's own house to perform their martial exercise, when their attention was arrested by the sound of steeds trampling in the distance. A moment longer, and a cloud of horsemen came galloping along the highway from the direction of Albany, with drawn swords flashing brightly in the sun. These unexpected visitors proved to be Captain Woodbake, and two hundred cavalry, the object of whose approach was to disperse the Royal gathering and proclaim the government of the republic. Their arrival was exceedingly inopportune for Captain Mann, who was cut short in the midst of a loyal oration, in which he was commending his citizen-soldiers for their loyalty, and threatening those who refused the badge of their sovereign, with vengeance, swift and inevitable. As the cavalry approached, Captain Mann took to his heels and fled; while his loyal followers, many of whom had assumed the before-mentioned insignia, and signed the royal muster-roll on compulsion, either followed his example or threw away their red caps, and tore off the scarlet patches from their hats, with the utmost possible expedition. Orders were immediately issued by Captain Woodbake that Mann should be taken and brought to him—alive, if possible, but if not—not. Numbers started in pursuit, while those who remained upon the ground were collected into line, and a proclamation was read to them by Captain Woodbake, declaring the Royal authority at an end—pronouncing the acts of the King's Commissioners null and void—and absolving the people from the oath of allegiance just taken, upon the ground that, by the laws neither of God nor man, are oaths binding which have been taken upon compulsion. Commending those who had refused to take the oath for their patriotism, he informed them that a Committee of Safety must be appointed, who would temporarily be invested with the civil and military authority of the district, and until, by elections and otherwise, the government could be organized in a more regular manner. Nicholas Sternberg and William Deitz were thereupon nominated by Woodbake to serve as said Committee, and invested orally with all necessary power for the government of the district; and the people were enjoined to obedience.

The affairs of the government having thus been settled, all hands were ordered in pursuit of Captain Mann, and sentinels were posted at different points of observation. Among these was Mr. Sternberg's eldest son Lambert, who was stationed by the side of a wheat-stack, sheltered by a roof of thatch upon four posts. [FN] The orders were strict, that if Mann would not surrender, he must be shot. Toward evening, on the approach of a thunder-gust, young Sternberg, who was a lad of only sixteen years, climbed to the top of the wheat-stack for shelter, where, to his great surprise, he stumbled upon the loyal captain. The youth informed him at once that he must surrender or be shot. The Captain implored for mercy—declaring that he dared not to surrender himself to Woodbake, because his life would be taken. The youth repeated that his orders were explicit, and he must surrender or be shot. But Mann had lived a neighbor to his father—had ever been kind to him—and his heart failed at the thought of taking his life. He then proposed to the Captain to fire his musket by way of alarm, that others might come and take him. But this was objected to by Mann with equal earnestness. It now thundered and lightened fearfully, while the rain descended in torrents. Watching his opportunity, therefore, and availing himself of the conflict of the elements, and that, also, which was working in the bosom of his young neighbor so suddenly placed in hostile array against him, Mann contrived to spring from his hiding-place, and by sliding down upon one of the barrack-posts, effected his escape into a corn-field and thence into the woods. The stripling soldier fired, as in duty bound, but doubtless rejoiced that the shot was without effect.


[FN] These structures in new countries, where barns are not large enough to shelter the produce, are called barracks.

On the next day, information having been received that a body of Indians were lurking in the neighborhood of Middleburg, a few miles farther up the valley, Captain Woodbake proceeded thither with his squadron of horse. The only Indian seen was the before-mentioned sachem, Peter Nickus, who was discovered in a thicket of hazel bushes, and immediately brought to the ground by a shot that broke his thigh. Several pistols were simultaneously snapped at him, but without effect; the troops then dismounted, and running upon the wounded Indian, inhumanly hacked him to pieces with their swords. Peter Nickus was therefore the first victim of the Revolution in the Valley of the Schoharie-kill, nor does it appear that he had himself been guilty of any act of positive hostility.

All search for Captain Mann was for the time fruitless. He succeeded in escaping to the mountains, where he remained fifteen days; but at length was induced to surrender through the intervention of friends, on condition that he should receive no personal injury. He was thereupon taken to Albany, and kept in confinement to the end of the war. [FN]


[FN] The property of Captain Mann was not confiscated, and he was suffered to return and repossess himself of his estate, where he lived and died a faithful citizen of the republic. All the families named in this narrative were of great respectability, and their descendants are still in that section of country. The author has derived the facts of the four last preceding pages from a written narrative by the son of Nicholas Sternberg. It was thrown out of its proper chronological order, because not received until after this chapter was in the hands of the printer.




CHAPTER XV.


The story of Wyoming—Glance at its history—Bloody battle between the Shawanese and Delawares—Count Zinzendorf—Conflicting Indian claims and titles—Rival land companies of Connecticut and Pennsylvania—Murder of Tadeusund—The first Connecticut Colony destroyed by the Indians—Controversy respecting their titles—Rival Colonies planted in Wyoming—The civil wars of Wyoming—Bold adventure of Captain Ogden—Fierce passions of the people—The Connecticut settlers prevail—Growth of the settlements—Annexed to Connecticut—Breaking out of the Revolution—The inhabitants, stimulated by previous hatred, take sides—Arrest of suspected persons in January—Sent to Hartford—Evil consequences—The enemy appear upon the outskirts of the settlements in the Spring—Invasion by Colonel John Butler and the Indians—Colonel Zebulon Butler prepares to oppose them—Two of the forts taken—Colonel Z. Butler marches to encounter the enemy—Battle of Wyoming—The Americans defeated—The flight and massacre—Fort Wyoming besieged—Timidity of the garrison—Zebulon Butler's authority not sustained—He escapes from the fort—Colonel Denniston forced to capitulate—Destruction of the Valley—Barbarities of the Tories—Brant not in the expedition—Catharine Montour—Flight of the fugitives—Expedition of Colonel Hartley up the Susquehanna—Colonel Zebulon Butler repossesses himself of Wyoming, and rebuilds the fort—Indian skirmishes—Close of the History of Wyoming.

The melancholy story of Wyoming stands next in chronological order. It does not, indeed, appertain directly to the history of the Mohawk Valley; but it is nevertheless connected intimately with that history, while it has ever been regarded as one of the most prominent events in the border history of the Revolutionary contest. Its importance, moreover, as a section of the Indian portion of that contest, is such as to warrant the episode, if such it must be called. Many were the battles during that struggle, of far greater importance than the affair of Wyoming, both in regard to their magnitude and their results; and many were the scenes characterised by equal if not greater atrocity. But from a variety of circumstances, as well antecedent as subsequent to the battle, it has happened that no event connected with the aboriginal wars of our country stands out in bolder relief than that. Sixty years have elapsed since the tragedy of Wyoming was enacted; the actors themselves are no more; and yet the very mention of the event sends a chill current to every youthful heart, while the theatre of the action itself has been rendered classic as well as consecrated, by the undying numbers of one of the most gifted bards of the age. So long as English poetry exists, will the imaginary tale of Gertrude of Wyoming be read, admired, and wept; and thousands, in every generation to come, will receive the beautiful fiction for truth, while the details of fact by the faithful historian, rejecting the exaggerations of Ramsay and Gordon, and their associate writers of the revolutionary era, together with compilers more modern, who have taken no pains to inquire for the truth, may be regarded as too common-place and unimportant for attention.

Wyoming is the name of a beautiful section of the vale of the Susquehanna, situated in the north-eastern part of the State of Pennsylvania. It is twenty-five miles in length, by about three in breadth, lying deep between two parallel ranges of mountains, crested with oak and pine. The scenery around is wild and picturesque, while the valley itself might be chosen for another paradise. [FN]


[FN] Wyoming is a corruption of the name given to the place by the Delaware Indians, who called it Maughwauwame. The word is a compound; Maughwau meaning large or extensive, and wame plains or meadows; so that the name may be translated "The Large Plains." In the language of the Six Nations, Wyoming was called Sgahontowano, or "The Large Flats." 'Gahonto meaning, in their language, a large piece of ground without trees.—Chapman's History of Wyoming.

The possession of this valley has not been an object of the white man's ambition or cupidity alone. It has been the subject of controversy, and the fierce battle-ground of various Indian tribes, within the white man's time, but before his possession; and from the remains of fortifications discovered there, so ancient that the largest oaks and pines have struck root upon the ramparts and in the entrenchments, it must once have been the seat of power, and perhaps of a splendid court, thronged by chivalry, and taste, and beauty—of a race of men far different from the Indians, known to us since the discovery of Columbus. It was here that the benevolent Count Zinzendorf pitched his tent, on commencing his Christian labors among the Shawanese, and where he was saved from assassination by the providential intervention of a poisonous reptile. Originally it lay within the territory of the Lenni Lenape, or Delaware Indians; but it was claimed by the Six Nations by right of conquest. In 1742 a grand council of the chiefs and warriors of the Six Nations and Delawares was held in Philadelphia, in consequence of difficulties touching the title to certain lands lying within the forks of the Delaware, which the proprietaries of Pennsylvania alleged that William Penn had purchased of the Delawares, but which the Delawares yet retained in possession, while at the same time the Six Nations claimed the ownership. The Governor of Pennsylvania having explained the state of the case to the council, reminded the chiefs of the Six Nations that, inasmuch as they had always required the government of Pennsylvania to remove such whites as intruded upon their lands, so now the government expected the Six Nations to remove the Indians from the lands which it had purchased. [FN] Old Cannassateego was the master spirit of the Iroquois delegation on this occasion; and, after due consideration, he pronounced the decision of his associate chiefs. He rebuked the Delawares in the sharpest terms for their dishonesty and duplicity, in first selling land which did not belong to them, and even then retaining possession of it themselves. He taunted them for their degraded condition, as having been conquered and made women of by his people, and after an indignant philippic, ordered them to leave the disputed territory, and remove to Wyoming or Shamokin.


[FN] Chapman's History of Wyoming.

The commands of the Six Nations were neither to be question[ed] nor disregarded, by the surrounding Indian nations, at that stage of their history, and the clan of the Delawares occupying the land in dispute, forthwith removed to Wyoming, then in the partial occupancy of a clan of the Shawanese. But the latter were friendly to the Six Nations at that time, and were suffered to retain possession of the west side of the river, while the Delawares planted themselves down upon the east, and built their town of Maughwauwame—the original of Wyoming.

But the close proximity of the two clans or parts of nations, was no addition to their happiness. Mutual jealousies were entertained; and no long period of time elapsed before their animosities were sharpened into actual hostilities upon the smallest provocation. At length there was cause for more substantial war. On the breaking out of hostilities between the French and American Colonies, in what is now called the old French war, the Shawanese espoused the side of the French, while the Six Nations and Delawares adhered to the English. Still the two Indian communities in Wyoming did not actually take up arms in that contest, until the occurrence of an incident which, it is believed, may be set down for the smallest cause of war as yet recorded in history. It happened one day, while the Delaware warriors were upon the chase among the mountains, that their women and children were gathering fruit along the margin of the river below their town. While thus engaged, a party of the Shawanese women and children paddled their canoes across the river and joined them. In the course of the morning a Shawanese child caught a large grasshopper—the species, probably, having parti-colored wings—and a quarrel arose among the children for the possession of the insect. In this quarrel the mothers soon began to participate, and an Amazonian battle was the consequence. The Delaware squaws contended that the Shawanese had no right to trespass upon their side of the river; and after several had been killed upon both sides, the latter, who were the weaker party, were driven to the canoes, and their own homes.

Upon the return of the warriors of the respective tribes, both prepared to avenge the wrongs of their wives and children. The Shawanese were the invaders; but they were met at the river's brink by the Delawares, nothing averse to the combat, who obstinately opposed their landing from their canoes. Great numbers were killed, chiefly of the Shawanese, before they gained the shore. Succeeding in this however, a battle, furious and bloody, was fought about a mile below the Delaware town, in which several hundreds were killed on both sides. The Shawanese, whose forces had been greatly weakened at the landing, were at length overpowered, and obliged to escape as best they could, with the loss of half their number. The consequence of this defeat was the immediate evacuation of the valley, which they left, to join the greater body of their nation on the Ohio. [FN] To the Delawares, who had been oppressed and denationalized by the Iroquois or Six Nations, the victory was of great importance—re-establishing, as it did, their character as brave warriors, although it was not until many years afterward that the sentence of being considered women was revoked by their former conquerors.


[FN] Chapman's History of Wyoming.

Still, at the time when Count Zinzendorf commenced the mission of the United Brethren in that valley, the jurisdiction was conceded to belong to the Six Nations; and a formal permission was given to the count by the latter, to preach the Gospel among them. He was met by a numerous embassy of their chiefs, from whom he received a speech of welcome, which at once laid the foundation of a good understanding between them. [FN] But, notwithstanding this admitted superiority of the Iroquois in the time of Sir William Johnson, the rival and conflicting Indian claims of title were the cause of rival negotiations between the white land-speculators and both nations of Indians, which in the end were the cause of many and very sore evils, as will presently appear.


[FN] Heckewelder. The incident of the serpent, referred to in a preceding page, was as follows:—Jealous of the Count's intentions in coming among them, some of the Indians had resolved upon his death. "Zinzendorf was alone in his tent, seated upon a bundle of weeds composing his bed, and engaged in writing, when the assassins approached to execute their bloody commission. It was night, and the cool air of September had rendered a fire necessary to his comfort. A blanket curtain was the only guard to the entrance of his tent. The heat of his fire had drawn forth a large rattlesnake from the contiguous brake; and the reptile, to enjoy the genial warmth, had crawled slowly into the tent, and passed over one of the holy man's legs unperceived. Without, all was still and quiet, except the distant sound of the river at the rapids a mile below. At this moment the Indians softly approached the door of his tent, and gently removing the curtain, contemplated the venerable man, too deeply engaged in the subject of his thoughts to observe either their approach or the serpent which lay extended before him. At a sight like this, even the heart of the savages shrank from the idea of committing the barbarous act, and they hastily returned to their lodge, and informed their companions that the Great Spirit protected the stranger, for they had found him with no door but a blanket, and had seen a large rattlesnake crawl over his legs without attempting to injure him." This circumstance wrought as great a change as did the incident of the viper, after the shipwreck, in the fortunes of Paul. The Count soon acquired the confidence of the Indians; and the occurrence probably contributed essentially toward inducing many of them subsequently to embrace the Christian religion.—Chapman's His. Wyoming.

The first movement toward the planting of a white colony in the Wyoming Valley was made by Connecticut in 1753. It was justly held that this section of country belonged originally to the grant of James I., in 1620, to the old Plymouth Company. The Earl of Warwick and his associates having purchased the right of the Plymouth Company to the territory of Connecticut and the lands beyond New Jersey, west, "from sea to sea," within certain limits, Connecticut claimed under that grant. But no sooner was a company formed to plant a colony in Wyoming—called the Susquehanna Company—than Pennsylvania preferred a claim to the same territory, under a grant from Charles II. to William Penn, in 1681, covering the whole claim of Connecticut; and a rival association, called the Delaware Company, was organised in like manner to settle it. The strife of each, at first, was to circumvent the other in purchasing the Indian title. At this time it was conceded that the aboriginal proprietaries were the Six Nations; and, though beset on all sides, old King Hendrick refused for a time to dispose of the territory to either party. Ultimately, however, the Six Nations sold to the Susquehanna Company; and in 1755 the Connecticut Colony was commenced. But by reason of the French and Indian wars, their settlers were compelled to return to Connecticut, and the obstacles became so numerous, that it was not until 1762 that they were enabled to obtain a foothold.

The Pennsylvanians immediately prepared to oppose the settlers from Connecticut. A case was made up and transmitted to England, on which Mr. Pratt, the Attorney General, (afterward Lord Camden,) gave an opinion in favor of the successors of Penn. Connecticut likewise sent over a case, and on her part obtained a like favorable opinion from eminent counsel. In this position of the controversy, a catastrophe befell the infant settlement, which put an end to the enterprise for several years. Thus far the relations between the Colonists and the Indians had been of the most pacific character. The old Delaware chief Tadeuskund, who had embraced the Christian religion, was, with his people, their friend. But he had given offence to some of the Six Nations in 1758, a party of whom came among the Delawares, under the guise of friendship, in April, 1763, and murdered the venerable chief by setting fire to his dwelling, in which he was consumed. [FN] The murder was charged by the Indians upon the adventurers from Connecticut. But the emigrants, unconscious that a storm was rising against them, remained in fancied security. They had given no offence; and in order to allay any suspicions that might otherwise be awakened among the Indians, they had even neglected to provide themselves with weapons for self-protection. The consequence was the sudden destruction of their settlement by a party of Delaware Indians, on the 15th of October. The descent was made upon the town while the men were at work in the fields. About twenty persons were killed, and several were taken prisoners. Those who could, men, women, and children, fled to the woods and the mountains, from whence they were compelled to behold the sad spectacle of their dwellings in flames, and the Indians making off with the remains of their little property. Their flight through a trackless forest to the Delaware, unprovided with food, and unprotected by suitable clothing against the searching weather of Autumn, was painful to a degree. But even then their journey was not ended, as they had yet to proceed back to Connecticut, destitute, and on foot.


[FN] Tadeuskund was a Delaware chief of note. Previous to the year 1750, he was known among the English by the name of Honest John. He was baptized by the Moravians, but was wavering and inconstant. He was too fond of the war-path to become a consistent follower of the pacific Moravians. When he saw opportunities of signalizing himself as a warrior, therefore, he left his faith, to re-embrace it as might suit his policy. He inclined to the French in the war; but assisted in concluding a peace among several Indian nations in 1758, which gave umbrage to the Six Nations.

In 1668 the Delaware Company took advantage of a treaty holden at Fort Stanwix, and purchased of the same Six Nations, who had sold to the Connecticut Company, the same territory of Wyoming. The Pennsylvanians entered upon immediate possession; and when, on the opening of the ensuing Spring, the Connecticut Colonists returned with recruits, they found others in the occupancy of the lands, with a block-house erected, and armed for defence, under the direction of Amos Ogden and Charles Stewart, to whom a lease of a section of land in the heart of the valley had been granted by John Penn, for the express purpose of ousting the Connecticut claimants. Here was a new and unexpected state of things. Some of the leading men of the Connecticut Colony were decoyed into the block-house, arrested, and sent off to a distant prison. But recruits coming on from Connecticut, they in turn built works of defence, and proceeded with their colonial labors.

In the Summer of 1769, the Governor of Pennsylvania made preparations to dispossess the intruders, as they considered the Connecticut people, by force; and a detachment of armed men, to the number of two hundred, was sent into the territory. The Colonists prepared for a siege; but one of their leaders having been taken prisoner, and sent to gaol in Philadelphia, after a show of resistance, and having no weapons of defence but small arms, they capitulated, and agreed to leave the territory, with the exception of seventeen families, who were to remain and secure the crops. But no sooner had the Colonists departed, than the Pennsylvanians, led by Ogden, plundered the whole colony, destroying their fields of grain, killing their cattle, and laying the whole settlement in ruin; so that the seventeen families were compelled to fly from starvation.

In the month of February, 1770, the Connecticut Colonists rallied, and marched upon Wyoming, under a man named Lazarus Stewart. They took Ogden's house and his piece of artillery, during his absence. But on his return he collected his friends, and hostilities ensued between the two parties, which were prosecuted with varying success for several weeks. During this time, an engagement occurred, in which several were killed and wounded on both sides. Ogden's house, which had been fortified, was besieged, and finally taken—after several days' cannonading, and the destruction of one of his blockhouses, containing his supplies, by fire. In the terms of capitulation the Connecticut party allowed Ogden to leave six men in charge of his remaining property. But the conduct of Ogden the preceding year had not been forgotten, and the lex talionis was rigidly and speedily executed.

In September following, a force of one hundred and fifty men was sent against the Connecticut settlers, under the command of Captain Ogden, as he was now called. He took the settlement entirely by surprise, while the laborers were in the fields at work, and the women and children in the fort. Many of the men, nevertheless, reached the fort, and prepared to defend it; but it was carried by assault in the night—the women and children were barbarously trampled under foot—and the whole settlement plundered and destroyed the following day, with more than Indian rapacity. The Colonists were made prisoners, and sent off to distant gaols. Thus was the settlement again broken up. But the triumph of Ogden was brief. In December the fort was again surprised and carried by Captain Stewart, at the head of some Lancastrians united with the late Colonists. A few of the men fled naked to the woods; but the greater portion, together with the women and children, residing for security in houses built within the ramparts, were taken prisoners. Those, having been deprived of their property, were driven from the valley.

The parties to these controversies, which could not but engender all the bitterest passions in the nature of man—rendering what might have been a second Eden, a theatre of strife, discord, and "hell-born hate,"—fought, of course, as they pretended, under the jurisdiction of the respective States to which they assumed to belong. The civil authorities of Pennsylvania frequently interposed; and after the burning of Ogden's block-house, attempts were made to arrest several of the Connecticut party for arson. Stewart was apprehended, but was soon afterward rescued.

After the capture of the fort in December, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania once more issued a writ for his arrest, and the sheriff was sent with the posse at his heels; but the garrison would not admit him. The fort was fired upon by the posse, under the direction of the sheriff, and in returning the fire, one of the Ogdens (Nathan) was killed. The sheriff thereupon drew off his forces for the night. But it was no sooner dark, than Stewart and forty of his men withdrew from the fortress, leaving a garrison of only twelve persons, who capitulated on the following morning. Three hundred pounds reward was offered by the Governor of Pennsylvania for the arrest of Stewart. The fort was left in charge of Amos Ogden, who induced most of his former associates to return with him.

In July following, this important post was again doomed to change hands. The Colony was invaded by Captain Zebulon Butler, with upward of seventy men. These being joined by Stewart and his party, they immediately took possession of the lands, while Ogden with his people, to the number of eighty-two, retired into the new fort of Wyoming, which they had just built, and prepared for resistance. The contest was now assuming greater importance than ever. Butler and Stewart at once invested the fortress, and recruits arriving from Connecticut, they were enabled to throw up redoubts, and open entrenchments for a regular siege. This new fort was planted directly upon the bank of the river. Perceiving himself thus completely shut in, Ogden formed the bold enterprise of leaving his garrison in the night, and floating down the river, past the works and the sentinels of the enemy, in order to repair to Philadelphia for succors. For the purpose of better securing his escape, by means of a cord he caused a bundle to be floated along in the river following him, which, being the most perceptible object, would naturally attract the attention and receive the fire of the enemy, if discovered. The ruse de guerre was completely successful. The deceptive object did attract the attention of the besiegers and received their fire; although Ogden himself was in immediate peril, since his hat and clothes were riddled with bullets. He nevertheless escaped to Philadelphia, and is entitled to the credit of performing one of the boldest and most difficult individual exploits on record.

In consequence of these tidings, the government ordered a force of one hundred men to be sent to the relief of Fort Wyoming, commanded by Colonel Asher Clayton. These were to be separated into two divisions, and marched to the fort from different directions. Captain Dick, with one division, proceeded toward the fort with pack-horses of provisions for one hundred men. When in its neighborhood, however, he was ambuscaded by the troops of Butler and Stewart, and thrown into confusion by the fire. Twenty-two of the party succeeded in getting into the fort, and the remainder, with four pack-horses of provisions, fell into the hands of Butler. The siege continued, and was prosecuted with great vigor until the 14th of August, when, his supplies being exhausted, Colonel Clayton, the assailant, capitulated—stipulating that his troops, together with Ogden and his party, should withdraw from Wyoming. Ogden was wounded during the siege, and a second shot killed another officer, named William Ridyard, upon whom the former was leaning, being faint from loss of blood.

The president of the Pennsylvania proprietaries complained of the conduct of the Connecticut people in these hostilities, and Governor Trumbull disclaimed any connexion with the affairs of Wyoming on the part of the State over which he presided. But as the Connecticut people continued to pour reinforcements into the settlement, the Pennsylvanians withdrew their forces, and for a season made no farther attempts upon the territory.

The settlers now claimed the protection of Connecticut, the government of which attempted a mediation between the people of Wyoming and the government of Pennsylvania—but without success. Meantime the people of the Colony proceeded to organize a government, and to exercise almost all the attributes of sovereignty. The general laws of Connecticut were declared to be in force; but for their local legislation, they organized a pure democracy—the people of all their towns and settlements meeting in a body, as in Athens of old, and making their laws for themselves. The legislature of Connecticut extended its broad aegis over them, framed a new county called Westmoreland, and attached it to the county of Litchfield in the parent State. Zebulon Butler and Nathan Denniston were appointed justices of the peace, and the people sent one representative to the Legislature of Connecticut. The governments of Connecticut and Pennsylvania kept up a war of proclamations and edicts upon the subject, while the settlement advanced in population and extent with unexampled rapidity.

Thus matters proceeded until the year 1775, when, just after hostilities had been commenced between the Colonies and the British troops at Lexington, the old feuds between the settlers of the rival companies suddenly broke forth again. A new settlement of the one was attacked by the militia of the other, one man was killed, several were wounded, and others made prisoners, and carried off to a distant jail. Other outrages were committed elsewhere, and of course all the angry passions—all the bitter feelings of hatred and revenge between the rival parties claiming the soil and the jurisdiction—broke out afresh. The settlements of each had become extended during the five years of peace, which of course had multiplied the parties to the contest; so that, as the men of Wyoming flew to arms, a more formidable civil war than ever was in prospect, at the moment when every arm should have been nerved in the common cause of the whole country. [FN]


[FN] At this time the settlements consisted of eight townships, viz: Lackawana, Exeter, Kingston, Wilkesbarre, Plymouth, Nanticoke, Huntington, and Salem; each containing five miles square. The six townships were pretty full of inhabitants; the two upper ones had comparatively few, thinly scattered.—Almon's Remembrancer, for 1778.

Congress being now in session, interposed its authority by way of mediatorial resolutions. But to no purpose. The interposition was repeated, and again disregarded. In the meantime the Pennsylvanians brought seven hundred men into the field, who were marched against Wyoming under the direction of Colonel Plunkett. But in ascending the west bank of the Susquehanna, on coming to a narrow defile, naturally defended by a rocky buttress, their march was suddenly arrested by a volley of musketry. An instant afterward the invaders discerned that the rocky parapets were covered with men bristling in arms—prepared for a Tyrolese defence of tumbling rocks down upon the foe, should their firearms prove insufficient to repel him. Taken thus suddenly and effectively by surprise, Plunkett retreated with his forces behind a point of rocks, for consultation. He next attempted to cross the river, and resume his march on the other side. But here, too, the people of Wyoming had been too quick for him. The invaders were so hotly received by a detachment in ambuscade on the other side, that they were constrained to retreat, nor did they attempt to rally again.

Thus terminated the last military demonstration of the Provincial government of Pennsylvania against the valley of Wyoming. Never, however, had a civil war raged with more cordial hatred between the parties—not even during the bloody conflicts between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines—than was felt between the adherents of the respective land companies, in the collisions just passed under review. Most unfortunate was it, therefore, that the quarrel broke out afresh at the precise moment when the services of all were alike wanted for the common defence—especially on a border exposed to the daily irruptions of the Indians.

Nor was this the only evil. There being a wide difference of opinion between the people in almost every section of the country, on the great question at issue between the parent country and the Colonies, it was natural to anticipate that such of these contending parties as adhered to the Royalist cause, would cherish a twofold enmity toward those republicans who had been previously in arms against them. These feelings of hostility were of course mutual; and as many of the adherents of the Delaware Company, and perhaps some from both factions, early escaped to the enemy, and enrolled themselves under the banners of Sir John Johnson and Colonel John Butler, there can be no difficulty in accounting for the peculiar ferocity which marked the conduct of such of the refugees as returned in arms against their former belligerent neighbors. [FN]


[FN] This sketch of the preliminary history of Wyoming, rapid as it is, has nevertheless occasioned a longer digression than was intended; but it has seemed necessary to the deduction of something like a just hypothesis, by which to judge of the peculiar features of the battle of Wyoming and the massacre that followed.

The population of the Wyoming settlements, at the commencement of the war, numbered five thousand souls. Three companies of regular troops were enlisted among them for the service of the United States. Their militia, regularly enrolled, amounted to eleven hundred men capable of bearing arms, and of this force three hundred entered the army; [FN] so prolific was their soil, and so industrious were the people, that they were enabled to furnish large supplies of provisions for the army. Three thousand bushels of grain were sent thence to the army in the Spring of the present year. The same plan of watchfulness against the scouts and scalping parties of the enemy was adopted as in other frontier settlements, and the utmost vigilance was observed; while regular garrison duty was, in successive turns, performed by the citizen soldiers in the several fortifications which defended their valley.


[FN] See Chapman's History of Wyoming—also Memorial to the Connecticut Legislature.

Some faint demonstrations were made by straggling parties of Tories and Indians, who prowled about the settlements during the Summer of the preceding year, while St. Leger was besieging Fort Schuyler; but after a few skirmishes with the inhabitants they dispersed, and the latter remained undisturbed during the rest of the year. Still, an impression that some of the Tories, who had been in arms against them, or who had been instrumental in bringing the Indians upon them, were yet lurking in the vicinity, and bent upon mischief, left the people not altogether at ease; and in the month of January, 1778, twenty-seven suspected inhabitants were arrested. Nine of these were discharged on examination, for want of sufficient evidence to warrant their detention; while the remaining eighteen were sent to Hartford, in Connecticut, and imprisoned. The nine who were first discharged, immediately fled to the enemy, and were followed thither by such of their suspected associates as were subsequently set at liberty in Connecticut. It was but natural that these proceedings still more embittered the feelings of these Loyalists against the Whigs, and the effect was soon perceptible in the behavior of the Tories and Indians occasionally patrolling their borders.

For a time, however, the apprehensions thus excited were allayed by several pacific messages from the Indian nations deeper in the interior, who sent parties of runners with assurances of a desire for peace. But these assurances were deceptive. Instead of being messengers of peace, it was ascertained in March, from one of them while in a state of intoxication, that their business was to amuse the people and allay their fears while preparations were making to attack them. This Indian, with his associate warriors, was immediately arrested and placed in confinement, while the women of the party were sent back with a flag. The alarm was likewise given to the scattered and remote settlers, some of them living thirty miles up the river, who thereupon immediately sought for greater security in the more populous towns. During the months of April and May, the settlements began to be more considerably annoyed by larger parties of Tories and Indians, who hung upon their borders, and made frequent incursions among them for purposes of plunder—robbing the people, as opportunity afforded, of live stock, grain, and other articles of provisions. Waxing yet more audacious in June, several murders were committed. Six of these victims were a mother and her five children, who were doubtless killed under a misapprehension as to her character, since the woman was the wife of one of the Tories who had been arrested in January. The houses and plantations of the slain were of course plundered of every thing of value which the marauders could carry away. [FN]


[FN] Almon's Remembrancer, 1778—Second Part.

Toward the close of June, the British officers in command at Niagara determined to strike a blow upon these settlements; for which purpose about three hundred white men, consisting in part of regular troops, but principally of refugee Loyalists, under the command of Colonel John Butler, together with about five hundred Indians, marched in that direction. Arriving at Tioga Point, Butler and the Indian leaders [FN-1] procured floats and rafts, upon which they embarked their forces, and, descending the Susquehanna, landed at a place called the Three Islands, whence they marched about twenty miles, and crossing a wilderness, entered the valley of Wyoming through a gap of the mountain near its northern extremity. [FN-2] They took possession of two small forts, without opposition, on the 2d of July—the first of which was called the Exeter fort. It was said the garrison consisted chiefly of Tories, who treacherously surrendered it to the enemy. The other was the fort of Lackawana, where the enemy encountered some resistance. But it was soon carried, a magistrate named Jenkins being killed, together with his family, and several others, mostly women and children, made prisoners. One of these forts was burnt. [FN-3] In the other, the proper name of which was Fort Wintermoot, Colonel John Butler established his head-quarters.


[FN-1] It is difficult to ascertain with certainty from what tribes or nations these Indians were drawn. It will be seen by a note a few pages onward, that there is reason to suppose they were from Detroit, and were led by an officer of the British service. Certainly they had no chiefs of any considerable note among them.

[FN-2] Marshall's Life of Washington.

[FN-3] The Remembrancer.

The inhabitants, on receiving intelligence of the approach of the invaders, assembled within a fortification four miles below, called Fort Forty, from the circumstance of its having been occupied by forty men, at some period of the antecedent troubles of the Colony. Colonel Zebulon Butler, whose name has occurred several times in the preceding summary of the history of Wyoming, was in command of about sixty regular troops, and he now made every exertion to muster the militia of the settlements. But in his official despatch he complained, that as the women and children had fled to the several forts, of which there were seven within the distance of ten miles along the valley, the men, too many of them, would remain behind to take care of them. Still, he succeeded in collecting about three hundred of the militia, and commenced his march to meet the enemy on the 1st of July, in connexion with the regular troops before mentioned, commanded by Captain Hewett. On their first advance, they fell in with a scout of Indians, of whom they killed two. These savages had just murdered nine men engaged at work in a corn-field. [FN-1] Not being supplied with provisions, Colonel Zebulon Butler [FN-2] was obliged to fall back upon Fort Forty, while his militia procured supplies. They mustered again on the 3d, and a council of war was convened. Messengers having been despatched to the head-quarters of General Washington for assistance, immediately after the enemy's movements were known at Wyoming, Colonel Z. Butler was desirous of waiting for reinforcements. But his officers and men were impatient for a trial of strength. [FN-3] The messengers had already been gone so long, that it was supposed they had been cut off, and consequently that General Washington was ignorant of their situation. In that case no reinforcements could reach them in season to save their valley from being ravaged; and as the enemy's forces were daily increasing, it was held to be the part of wisdom to attack him at once.


[FN-1] Colonel Z. Butler's letter.

[FN-2] It is necessary to repeat the Christian names of both the Butlers, to avoid confusion—that being the surname of both the opposing commanders.

[FN-3] Marshall.

While the question was under debate, five officers arrived from the Continental army, who, on hearing the tidings of the meditated invasion, had thrown up their commissions and hastened home to protect their families. They had heard nothing of the messengers, and intimated that there was no prospect of speedy assistance. [FN] The discussions were animated; but the apprehension, that in the event of longer delay the enemy would become too powerful for them, and thus be enabled to sweep through their valley and destroy their harvest, was so strong, and the militia were so sanguine of being able to meet and vanquish the enemy, that Colonel Butler yielded, and set forward at the head of nearly four hundred men. Colonel Denniston, his former associate in the commission of the peace, being his second in command.


[FN] Chapman.

It was intended to make a quick movement, and take the enemy by surprise. Having approached within two miles of Fort Wintermoot, [FN-1] a small reconnoitering party was sent forward for observation. They ascertained that the enemy were carousing in their huts in perfect security; but on their return they were so unfortunate as to fall in with an Indian scout, who immediately fired and gave the alarm. [FN-2] The Provincials pushed rapidly forward; but the British and Indians were prepared to receive them—"their line being formed a small distance in front of their camp, in a plain thinly covered with pine, shrub-oaks, and undergrowth, and extending from the river to a marsh, at the foot of the mountain." [FN-3] On coming in view of the enemy, the Americans, who had previously marched in a single column, instantly displayed into a line of equal extent, and attacked from right to left at the same time. [FN-4] The right of the Americans was commanded by Colonel Zebulon Butler, opposed to Colonel John Butler commanding the enemy's left. Colonel Dennison commanded the left of the Americans, and was opposed by Indians forming the enemy's right. [FN-5] The battle commenced at about forty rods distance, without much execution at the onset, as the brush-wood interposed obstacles to the sight. The militia stood the fire well for a short time, and as they pressed forward, there was some giving way on the enemy's right. Unluckily, just at this moment the appalling war-whoop of the Indians rang in the rear of the American left—the Indian leader having conducted a large party of his warriors through the marsh, and succeeded in turning Dennison's flank. A heavy and destructive fire was simultaneously poured into the American ranks; and amidst the confusion, Colonel Dennison directed his men to "fall back," to avoid being surrounded, and to gain time to bring his men into order again. This direction was mistaken for an order to "retreat," whereupon the whole line broke, and every effort of their officers to restore order was unavailing. At this stage of the battle, and while thus engaged, the American officers mostly fell. The flight was general. The Indians, throwing away their rifles, rushed forward with their tomahawks, making dreadful havoc—answering the cries for mercy with the hatchet—and adding to the universal consternation those terrific yells which invest savage warfare with tenfold horror. So alert was the foe in this bloody pursuit, that less than sixty of the Americans escaped either the rifle or the tomahawk. Of the militia officers, there fell one lieutenant-colonel, one major, and ten captains, six lieutenants, and two ensigns. Colonel Durkee, and Captains Hewett and Ransom were likewise killed. Some of the fugitives escaped by swimming the river, and others by flying to the mountains. As the news of the defeat spread down the valley, the greater part of the women and children, and those who had remained behind to protect them, likewise ran to the woods and the mountains; while those who could not escape thus, sought refuge in Fort Wyoming. The Indians, apparently wearied with pursuit and slaughter, desisted, and betook themselves to secure the spoils of the vanquished.


[FN-1] The fort was thus called after the proprietor of the land whereon it was built, and the adjacent territory—a distinguished Tory named Wintermoot. He was active in bringing destruction upon the valley, and, after doing all the mischief he could to the settlement, removed to Canada. During the war with England in 1812-15—while the British were investing Fort Erie, a son of old Mr. Wintermoot, a lieutenant in the enemy's service, was killed by a volunteer from the neighborhood of Wyoming. Young Wintermoot was reconnoitering one of the American pickets, when he was shot down by the said volunteer, who was engaged in the same service against a picket of the enemy. The volunteer returned into the fort, bringing in the arms and commission of the officer he had slain as a trophy.

[FN-2] Chapman.

[FN-3] Marshall.

[FN-4] Col. Z. Butler's letter.

[FN-5] Chapman.

On the morning of the 4th, the day after the battle, Colonel John Butler, with the combined British and Indian forces, appeared before Fort Wyoming, and demanded its surrender. The inhabitants, both within and without the fort, did not, on that emergency, sustain a character for courage becoming men of spirit in adversity. They were so intimidated as to give up without fighting; great numbers ran off; and those who remained, all but betrayed Colonel Zebulon Butler, their commander. [FN-1] The British Colonel Butler sent several flags, requiring an unconditional surrender of his opposing namesake and the few Continental troops yet remaining, but offering to spare the inhabitants their property and effects. But with the American Colonel the victor would not treat on any terms; and the people thereupon compelled Colonel Dennison to comply with conditions which his commander had refused. [FN-2] The consequence was, that Colonel Zebulon Butler contrived to escape from the fort with the remains of Captain Hewett's company of regulars, [FN-3] and Colonel Dennison entered into articles of capitulation. By these it was stipulated that the settlers should be disarmed and their garrison demolished; that all the prisoners and public stores should be given up; that the property of "the people called Tories" should be made good, and they be permitted to remain peaceably upon their farms. In behalf of the settlers it was stipulated that their lives and property should be preserved, and that they should be left in the unmolested occupancy of their farms. [FN-4]


[FN-1] Colonel Z. Butler's letter.

[FN-2] Idem.

[FN-3] Idem.

[FN-4] Chapman's History.

Unhappily, however, the British commander either could not or would not enforce the terms of the capitulation, which were to a great extent disregarded as well by the Tories as Indians. Instead of finding protection, the valley was again laid waste—the houses and improvements were destroyed by fire, and the country plundered. Families were broken up and dispersed, men and their wives separated, mothers torn from their children, and some of them carried into captivity, while far the greater number fled to the mountains, and wandered through the wilderness to the older settlements. Some died of their wounds, others from want and fatigue, while others still were lost in the wilderness, or were heard of no more. Several perished in a great swamp in the neighborhood, which from that circumstance acquired the name of "The Shades of Death," and retains it to this day. [FN]


[FN] Chapman's History.

These were painful scenes. But it does not appear that any thing like a massacre followed the capitulation. [FN-1] Nor, in the events of the preceding day, is there good evidence of the perpetration of any specific acts of cruelty, other than such as are usual in the general rout of a battle-field—save only the unexampled atrocities of the Tories, thirsting, probably, for revenge in regard to other questions than that of allegiance to the King. [FN-2]


[FN-1] It will be seen, a few pages forward, by a letter from Walter Butler, writing on behalf of his father, Col. John Butler, that a solemn denial is made of any massacre whatever, save the killing of men in arms in the open field. This letter, in vindication of the refugee Butlers, would have been introduced here, but for its connexion with the affair of Cherry Valley.

[FN-2] Indeed, for cold-blooded cruelty, which may be called murder outright, there was nothing at Wyoming, with the single exception of the fratricide soon to be related, at all comparable to the massacre of the Mexicans at San Jacinto by the soi-disant Texan heroes under Houston.

There seems, from the first, to have been an uncommonly large proportion of loyalists in the Wyoming settlements, whose notions of legal restraint, from the previous collisions of the inhabitants, were of course latitudinarian; nor were their antecedent asperities softened by the attempts of the Whigs to keep them within proper control, after hostilities had commenced. The greater number of these, as we have already seen, together with those who were arrested, had joined themselves to the enemy. But these were not all the defections. After the arrival of the enemy upon the confines of the settlement, and before the battle, a considerable number of the inhabitants joined his ranks, and exhibited instances of the most savage barbarity against their former neighbors and friends. [FN-1] Nor has it ever been denied, in regard to the battle of Wyoming, that none were more ferocious and cruel—more destitute of the unstrained quality of mercy, than those same loyalists or Tories. An example of the spirit by which they were actuated is found in the following occurrence, which, on account of its Cain-like barbarity, is worthy of repetition. Not far from the battleground was an island in the Susquehanna, called Monockonock, to which several of the fugitive militia-men fled for security throwing away their arms, and swimming the river. Here they concealed themselves as they could among the brush-wood. Their place of retreat being discovered, several Tories followed them; and, though obliged to swim, yet so intent were they upon the work of death, that they succeeded in taking their guns with them. Arriving upon the island, they deliberately wiped their gun-locks, recharged their pieces, and commenced searching for the fugitives. Two of these were concealed in sight of each other, but one of them escaped. But it was nevertheless his lot to behold a scene painful enough to make the most hardened offender weep, and "blush to own himself a man." One of the pursuers came upon his companion in partial concealment, who proved to be his own brother. His salutation was—"So, it is you, is it?" The unarmed and defenceless man, thus observed, came forward, and fell upon his knees before his brother, begging for mercy—promising to live with him, and serve him for ever, if he would but spare his life. "All this is mighty fine," replied the unrelenting traitor, "but you are a d—d rebel!"—saying which, he deliberately leveled his rifle, and shot him dead upon the spot. [FN-2] In a domestic war marked by such atrocity, even among those claiming to be civilized, it becomes us to pause before we brand the untutored savage, who fights according to the usages of his own people, with all that is revolting and cruel. [FN-3]


[FN-1] Chapman.

[FN-2] Chapman's Hist. of Wyoming.

[FN-3] Doctor Thatcher, in his Military Journal, records still greater barbarities as having been perpetrated on this bloody occasion. He says—"One of the prisoners a Captain Badlock, was committed to torture, by having his body stuck full of splinters of pine knots, and a fire of dry wood made around him, when his two companions, Captains Ransom and Durkee, where thrown into the same fire, and held down with pitchforks till consumed. One Partial Terry, the son of a man of respectable character, having joined the Indian party, several times sent his father word that he hoped to wash his hands in his heart's blood. The monster with his own hands murdered his father, mother, brothers, and sisters, stripped off their scalps, and cut off his father's head!! Thomas Terry with his own hands butchered his own mother, his father-in-law, his sisters and their infant children, and exterminated the whole family!!" Upon which the worthy Doctor remarks—"It is only in the infernal regions that we can look for a parallel instance of unnatural wickedness." It is doubtful whether so great an atrocity was ever committed even there. Certainly no such were perpetrated at Wyoming. Dr. Thatcher also states, that when Col. Z. Butler sent a flag to propose terms of capitulation, the reply of Col. John Butler was in two words—"The Hatchet." He also remarks, in regard to the moral and social condition of Wyoming, that but for the dissensions produced by the war of the Revolution, "the inhabitants of this secluded spot might have lived in the enjoyment of all the happiness which results from harmony and the purest natural affection." Witness the ten years of civil wars sketched in the preceding pages. It was also reported that a man named Thomas Hill with his own hands killed his own mother, his father-in-law, his sisters and their families! And such is history! These monstrous exaggerations were the reports of the battle first published at Poughkeepsie on the 20th of July, as derived from the lips of the terrified fugitives who were wending their way back to Connecticut,

There is still another important correction to be made, in reference to every written history of this battle extant, not even excepting the last revised edition of the Life of Washington by Chief Justice Marshall. This correction regards the name, and the just fame, of Joseph Brant, whose character has been blackened with all the infamy, both real and imaginary, connected with this bloody expedition. Whether Captain Brant was at any time in company with this expedition, is doubtful; but it is certain, in the face of every historical authority, British and American, that so far from being engaged in the battle, he was many miles distant at the time of its occurrence. Such has been the uniform testimony of the British officers engaged in that expedition, and such was always the word of Thayendanegea himself. It will, moreover, be seen, toward the close of the present work, that after the publication of Campbell's "Gertrude of Wyoming," in which poem the Mohawk chieftain was denounced as "the Monster Brant," his son repaired to England, and in a correspondence with the poet, successfully vindicated his father's memory from the calumny. [FN]


[FN] Since the present chapter was written, and while the work was under revision, the author has received a letter from Mr. Samuel C. Frey, of Upper Canada, a son of the late Philip R. Frey, Esq. a loyalist of Tryon County, who was an ensign in H. B. M.'s Eighth Regiment, and who, with his regiment, was engaged in the campaign and battle of Wyoming. Philip R. Frey, the ensign spoken of, died at Palatine, Montgomery (formerly Tryon) County, in 1823. It was his uniform testimony that Brant was not at Wyoming. Mr. Frey writes to the author, that there were no chiefs of notoriety with the Indians on that expedition, and that the Indians themselves were led from Detroit, by Captain Bird of the Eighth Regiment. Bird had been engaged in a love affair at Detroit, but, being very ugly, besides having a harelip, was unsuccessful. The affair getting wind, his fellow-officers made themselves merry at his expense, and in order to steep his griefs in forgetfulness, he obtained permission to lead an expedition somewhere against the American frontier. Joining the Indians placed under him, and a detachment of his regiment, to Butler's rangers, they concerted the descent upon Wyoming. Ensign Frey stated that he was ill-natured during the whole march, and acted with fool-hardiness at the battle. He farther stated, according to the letter of his son, that the American Colonel challenged them to a fair field-fight, which challenge was accepted. "The next morning, at about 9 o'clock, the Americans poured out of the fort about three hundred and forty in number—the Indians fell back over a hill—the troops on both sides drew up in battle array and soon commenced; after a few rounds fired, the American Colonel ordered his drum-major to beat a charge, the drum-major mistook the order and beat a retreat, the Americans became disordered immediately, and ran helter-skelter; the moment the Indians saw them running, they poured down upon them from their hiding places, so that no more than about forty survived out of three hundred and forty." Rarely, indeed, does it happen that history is more at fault in regard to facts than in the case of Wyoming. The remark may be applied to nearly every writer who has attempted to narrate the events connected with the invasion of Colonel John Butler. Ramsay, and Gordon, and Marshall—nay, the British historians themselves—have written gross exaggerations. Marshall, however, in his revised edition, has made corrections, and explained how and by whom he was led into error. My excellent friend, Charles Miner, Esq. long a resident of Wyoming, a gentleman of letters and great accuracy, furnished the biographer of Washington with a true narrative of the transactions, which he made the basis of the summary account contained in his revised edition. Other writers, of greater or less note, have gravely recorded the same fictions, adding, it is to be feared, enormities not even conveyed to them by tradition. The grossest of these exaggerations are contained in Thatcher's Military Journal and Drake's Book of the Indians. The account of the marching out of a large body of Americans from one of the forts, to hold a parley, by agreement, and then being drawn into an ambuscade and all put to death, is false; the account of seventy Continental soldiers being butchered, after having surrendered, is also totally untrue. No regular troops surrendered, and all escaped who survived the battle of the 3d. Equally untrue was the story of the burning of houses, barracks, and forts, filled with women and children.

It is related in the unwritten history of this battle, that the celebrated Catharine Montour was present, with her two sons; and that she ranged the field of blood like a chafed tigress, stimulating the warriors of her adopted race to the onslaught, even in the hottest of the fight. But from the antecedent character of that remarkable woman, the story can hardly be credited. She was a native of Canada, a half-breed, her father having been one of the early French governors—probably Count Frontenac, as he must have been in the government of that country at about the time of her birth. During the wars between the Six Nations and the French and Hurons, Catharine, when about ten years of age, was made a captive, taken into the Seneca country, adopted and reared as one of their own children. When arrived at a suitable age, she was married to one of the distinguished chiefs of her tribe, who signalized himself in the wars of the Six Nations against the Catawbas, then a great nation living south-westward of Virginia. She had several children by this chieftain, who fell in battle about the year 1730, after which she did not again marry. She is said to have been a handsome woman when young, genteel, and of polite address, notwithstanding her Indian associations. It was frequently her lot to accompany the chiefs of the Six Nations to Philadelphia, and other places in Pennsylvania, where treaties were holden; and from her character and manners she was greatly caressed by the American ladies—particularly in Philadelphia, where she was invited by the ladies of the best circles, and entertained at their houses. Her residence was at the head of the Seneca Lake. [FN]


[FN] Catharinestown—so named from her. This account of Catharine Montour is chiefly drawn from Witham Marshe's Journal of a treaty with the Six Nations, held at Lancaster in 1744—Vide Mass. Hist. Coll. In 1758 Sir William Johnson had an Indian interpreter in his service, known as "Captain Montour." One of Catharine's sons was called "Captain," and was probably the same. Tradition, at Seneca Lake, holds that Catharine Montour was killed by Sullivan's men in 1779. But it will hereafter be seen that such was not the fact.

Some of the flying fugitives from Wyoming had not proceeded many miles from their desolate homes, before they met a detachment of Continental troops on their way to assist the Colony. It was now too late. But the detachment, nevertheless, remained at Stroudsburg three or four weeks, by which time Colonel Zebulon Butler had collected a force consisting of straggling settlers and others, with whom, and the regular troops just mentioned, he returned, and repossessed himself of Wyoming—the enemy having retired shortly after the battle—Colonel John Butler to Niagara, and the Indians to their homes; while Thayendanegea moved as he had occasion, from his old haunts higher up the Susquehanna, at Oghkwaga and Unadilla.

Immediately on the reception of the disastrous tidings from Wyoming at the Continental head-quarters, Colonel Hartley's regiment was ordered thither, with instructions from Congress to remain on that frontier until the crops were secured and the enemy should have retreated. He was joined by several militia companies, and, among other officers, by Colonel Dennison, who, in the capitulation of Wyoming, had stipulated not again to serve against the King's troops. He accompanied Colonel Hartley in an expedition against some of the Indian towns up the Susquehanna, in the direction of Oghkwaga, several of which were destroyed. A few prisoners were also taken. It appearing, however, that the enemy were gathering in too much force for him to remain long within their territory, Colonel Hartley was constrained to retreat. An attack was made upon his rear, but the assailants were repulsed. Colonel Dennison doubtless felt himself warranted in breaking the stipulations of Fort Wyoming, by the fact that those stipulations were not strictly observed by the Tories and Indians. But the enemy made no such allowance; and this expedition, or rather the conduct of Colonel Dennison, was subsequently used as a pretext for some of the incidents connected with the attack upon Cherry Valley.

Colonel Zebulon Butler built another fort at Wyoming, which he continued to occupy until the next year, when the command of that region devolved upon General Sullivan. In the mean time the outskirts of the settlements were frequently harassed by straggling parties of Tories and Indians, who occasionally committed an assassination or carried off a few prisoners. The Americans, in turn, despatched every Indian who fell in their way. In March following, the fort was surrounded by a force of two hundred and fifty Indians, and Tories disguised as such. They attacked the fortress, but fled on the discharge of a single piece of artillery—burning whatever buildings had either been re-erected or left standing at the former invasion. The garrison was too weak to allow of a pursuit. A few weeks afterward, as a company of Continental troops were approaching the fort, under the command of Major Powell, they were fired upon by a party of Indians in ambush, while passing along a single track through a difficult swamp. In this attack, Captain Davis, Lieutenant Jones, and four privates, were killed. The detachment formed for action with all possible despatch; but the Indians fled after two or three discharges. Nor did they re-appear afterward, in that immediate neighborhood, in any subsequent stage of the revolutionary contest, although other sections of the Pennsylvania frontier, farther south and west, suffered occasionally from their depredations, particularly in the following year, while Sullivan was preparing to advance into the Seneca country. [FN]


[FN] Thus ends the revolutionary history of Wyoming. But from what has been given in the preceding pages, touching the history of this valley and its feuds before the Revolution, the reader may possibly feel some desire to learn the subsequent progress of the long-pending land quarrel. After the Indians had been chastised, the settlers returned, and the valley and its precincts once more began to flourish. Pennsylvania again interposed her claims; and a Commission was appointed by Congress, which met in New Jersey, to hear the case and decide the question. It was unanimously decided in favor of Pennsylvania. The people held that this decision was one of jurisdiction merely, and with this understanding cheerfully acquiesced in it. But fresh troubles arose. A company of Continental troops was stationed there in 1783, to keep the peace, and this only made matters worse—the soldiers became licentious and overbearing, and the people were exceedingly annoyed thereat. In the Spring of 1784, by a succession of ice-dams which accumulated in the river, the valley was overflowed, and the inhabitants were compelled to fly to the mountains for safety. When the ice gave way, the floods swept off every thing—leaving the whole valley a scene of greater desolation than ever. Presently afterward the old troubles broke out afresh. The inhabitants refused to obey their new masters. The Connecticut settlers flew to arms—the Pennsylvanians sent troops thither—the Connecticut settlers laid siege to the fort—there were riots and skirmishings, and some killed and wounded. The Connecticut people were taken prisoners by treachery, and sent off to prison. They escaped. Reinforcements of troops were sent by Pennsylvania—there was more blood shed. Various attempts were made to settle the difficulties. Commissioners were appointed upon the subject, one of whom was Timothy Pickering. He was forcibly seized, and carried into captivity. His story has been written by himself, and is full of interest. These difficulties continued, with feelings of the bitterest contention, ten years, before matters were compromised between the parties, so that they settled down in peace. It is now a rich and flourishing county, and may be called the Paradise of Pennsylvania.




CHAPTER XVI.


Evacuation of Philadelphia by Sir Henry Clinton—Followed through New Jersey by Washington—Battle of Monmouth—Conduct and arrest of General Lee—Retreat of the enemy—Arrival of the French fleet—Combined attack of the Americans and French upon the British army of Rhode Island—British fleet escapes from Count D'Estaing—Battle of Rhode Island—Failure of the expedition—Projected campaigns against the Indians—Captains Pipe and White-Eyes—McKee and Girty—General McIntosh ordered against the Sandusky towns—Irruption of Brant into Cobleskill—Of McDonald into the Schoharie settlements—Pusillanimity of Colonel Vrooman—Bravery of Colonel Harper—His expedition to Albany—Captivity of Mr. Sawyer—Slays six Indians and escapes—Colonel William Butler sent to Schoharie—Morgan's rifle corps—Daring adventures of Murphy and Elerson—Death of Service, a noted Tory—Murphy's subsequent adventures—Affairs at Fort Schuyler—Alarming number of desertions—Destruction of Andros-town by the Indians—Conflagration of the German Flats—Expedition of Colonel William Butler from Schoharie to Unadilla and Oghkwaga.

No sooner had Great Britain been apprized of the alliance between France and her revolted Colonies, than it was determined to evacuate Philadelphia, and concentrate the Royal army at New-York. Accordingly, on the 18th of June the British troops crossed the Delaware into New Jersey, and commenced their march for New-York, ascending the east bank of the river to Allentown, and thence taking the lower road leading through Monmouth to Sandy Hook, General Washington, anticipating this movement, had previously detached a division of the army under General Maxwell, to impede the enemy's march. It was known that General Gates was approaching with the army from the North, and the enemy's motions were no sooner ascertained, than General Wayne was despatched, with one thousand chosen men, to strengthen the lines. The Marquis de Lafayette was directed to take command of the whole force thus sent in advance, while Washington himself moved rapidly forward with the main army. It was his design to bring on a general, and, if possible, a decisive engagement. The result of his movements for that object was the battle of Monmouth, fought on the 28th of June. The dispositions for this engagement were admirably arranged on the night of the 27th, the position of the enemy being such as to afford the best advantages for an attack upon his rear the moment he should get in motion. Such being the intentions of the Commander-in-chief, they were communicated to General Lee, who was ordered to make his dispositions accordingly, and to keep his troops lying upon their arms to be in readiness at the shortest notice. At five in the morning of the 28th, the front of the enemy was observed to be in motion, and orders were instantly despatched to General Lee to move on and attack, "unless there should be very powerful reasons to the contrary." Lee was also advised that Washington was himself advancing to support him. After marching about five miles, "to the great surprise and mortification" of the Commander-in-chief, he met the whole advanced corps retreating, by the orders of Lee, "without having made any opposition, except one fire given by a party under Colonel Butler, on their being charged by the enemy's cavalry, who were repulsed." [FN-1] Lee was sharply rebuked, and placed in arrest. Hurrying to the rear of the retreating corps, which the Commander-in-chief found closely pressed by the enemy, he arrested their flight, re-formed them, and with the aid of some well-served pieces of artillery, at once checked the enemy's advance, and gained time for making such dispositions as the unexpected emergency required. The battle soon became general, and was obstinately contested at various points through the whole day, until dark; Sir Henry Clinton and General Washington heading their respective armies in person. By the misconduct of Lee, however, and an error of General Scott in the morning, advantages had been lost which entirely disconcerted the views of the Commander-in-chief, and deprived the American arms of a victory which was all but certain. Still, the fortunes of the day were so far recovered, that, from being the pursued, "the Americans drove the enemy back over the ground they had followed, and recovered the field of battle, and possessed themselves of their dead. But as they retreated behind a morass very difficult to pass, and had both flanks secured with thick woods, it was found impracticable for the Americans, fainting with fatigue, heat, and want of water, to do any thing more that night." [FN-2]


[FN-1] Letter of Washington to the President of Congress, July 1, 1778.

[FN-2] Letter of Washington to his brother, John Augustine Washington, July 4, 1778.

Both armies encamped in the field, and lay upon their arms; Washington himself sleeping in his cloak under a tree in the midst of his soldiers. His intention was to renew and end the battle on the following morning, not doubting as to the issue. Indeed, the result of that day's fight was justly considered a victory by the American officers, and but for the conduct of Lee in the morning, it would almost beyond question have been decisive. [FN-1] But the purpose of the Commander-in-chief to renew the engagement was frustrated by a silent midnight retreat of the enemy—so silent, indeed, that his departure was not known until the morning. [FN-2] A variety of circumstances concurred to render a pursuit by the Americans unadvisable; among the principal of which were, the extreme heat of the weather, the fatigue of the army from its march through a deep sandy country, almost entirely destitute of water, and the distance the enemy had gained by his midnight march. A pursuit, it was believed, would answer no valuable purpose, and would certainly be fatal to numbers of the men, several of whom had perished of heat on the preceding day. [FN-3] The American commander thereupon drew off his army to the Hudson, crossed over, and once more established his head-quarters at White Plains. Meantime Sir Henry Clinton proceeded to Sandy Hook, and thence passed his troops over to New-York. The loss of the Americans in this battle was eight officers and sixty-one privates killed, and one hundred and sixty wounded. That of the enemy was three hundred and sixty-eight in killed, wounded, and missing, and about one hundred taken prisoners. One thousand of their men deserted on their march. Both parties claimed the victory, which was in fact won by neither. The advantages, in the earlier part of the day, were in favor of the British; in the after-part, of the Americans. The stealthy retreat of the former, moreover, covered by the darkness, left no doubt as to which army was best prepared to renew the conflict with the return of daylight.


[FN-1] In a letter to General Gansevoort from Colonel Willett, who was on a visit to head-quarters at the time of the battle of Monmouth, the Colonel says:—"I have had the pleasure of seeing the American army, under the great General Washington, triumph over the haughty British in the battle of Monmouth. The action was grand, and ended gloriously."—MS. letter of Col. Willett.

[FN-2] In his despatches to his government, Sir Henry Clinton stated that he took the advantage of the moonlight in his retreat; when, in reality, he did not begin the retreat until some hours after the moon had set. In the course of a correspondence in the following Spring, between Governor William Livingston and Sir Henry, the Governor taunted him upon this subject of his moonlight retreat. That correspondence was sharp upon both sides. Governor Livingston wrote to Sir Henry that he had received indisputable evidence, that a British General had offered a large sum of money to an inhabitant of New Jersey to assassinate him, (Governor L.) Sir Henry repelled the imputation in strong terms—declaring that were he "capable of harboring such an infamous idea as that of assassination, he would not blacken himself with so foul a crime to obtain so trifling an end." Clinton was evidently irritated, and from the coarseness of his language, gave Governor Livingston the decided advantage in his rejoinder, which was equally dignified and severe.—Vide Almon's Remembrancer, vol. vi. pp. 279, 281.

[FN-3] Letter of Washington to the President of Congress.

The French fleet, under the Count D'Estaing, consisting of twelve ships of the line and six frigates, having on board four thousand troops, arrived on the coast of Virginia about the 1st of July. The design of the French commander was to engage the British squadron in the Chesapeake. But unfortunately, the latter had sailed for New-York a few days before. Thither the Count followed the British admiral, but the bar of the New-York harbor would not allow the entrance of his heavy ships. An attack upon New-York thus proving to be impracticable, by the advice of General Washington it was determined to make an attempt upon Rhode Island, then occupied by six thousand British troops commanded by Major General Sir Robert Pigott. General Sullivan, with an army of ten thousand men, was lying in the neighborhood of Providence, Count D'Estaing arrived off Newport on the 25th of July, and arrangements were soon adjusted between General Sullivan and himself for a combined attack upon the town of Newport by land and sea. The assault was to be made on the 9th of August, for which purpose Sullivan moved down to Tiverton, where he was joined by General Greene, and the ships of war entered the channel. But the militia not having joined the regular troops so promptly as was expected, General Sullivan judged it necessary to postpone the attack for a day or two. Meantime Lord Howe appeared off the harbor with the British fleet, and the Count D'Estaing immediately put to sea to engage him. The French fleet having the weather gage, the British admiral weighed anchor and put to sea, followed by the Count. A storm separated the fleets, so that no engagement took place; and on his return to port on the 19th, Count D'Estaing found it necessary to repair to Boston to refit. During the absence of the Count, however, while in chase of Lord Howe, General Sullivan had crossed over to the island, and on the 15th laid siege to the town of Newport. But when the French admiral departed for Boston, the militia, disappointed and disheartened at being thus abandoned by their allies, left the service in such numbers, that Sullivan was compelled to raise the siege and retire. He was pursued to the distance of a mile north of Quaker Hill, where, on the 29th of August, was fought the battle of Rhode Island. It was a sharp and obstinate engagement of half an hour, at the end of which the enemy gave way and retreated. The loss of the Americans was two hundred and eleven. That of the enemy two hundred and sixty. [FN] Ascertaining, soon afterward, that strong reinforcements were coming from New-York to the aid of General Pigott, a resolution was immediately adopted by Sullivan to evacuate the island. This determination was executed on the night of the 30th—most luckily, as the event proved; for on the very next day Sir Henry Clinton arrived at Newport with four thousand troops, which reinforcement would doubtless have enabled the enemy to cut off the retreat of the Americans.


[FN] One of the most brilliant affairs during this expedition was performed by Colonel John Trumbull, who was acting as a volunteer under Sullivan at the time—as will be seen by the Colonel's memoirs when published.

In September, after the return of the British troops to New-York, strong divisions moved northward on each side of the Hudson river. By a detachment of one of these, under General Gray, a regiment of American cavalry, commanded by Colonel Baylor, was surprised while asleep at Tappan, and almost entirely cut off. The enemy rushed upon the sleeping troopers, numbering one hundred and four privates with their bayonets. The loss, killed, wounded, and taken, was sixty-four. This exploit was very similar to that of the Paoli, under the same General, the preceding year.

In consequence of the hostile spirit very generally and extensively manifested by the Indians—the great western tribes becoming more and more restive—early in June, immediately preceding the affair of Wyoming, Congress had determined upon a more enlarged and decisive campaign against them. This had, indeed, become the more necessary from the belligerent indications among the Delawares and Shawanese, inhabiting the territory now forming the State of Ohio. At the commencement of the war Koquethagaeehlon, the Delaware chief usually known as Captain White-Eyes, a firm friend of the Colonies, had succeeded in preventing his people from taking up the hatchet against them, in opposition to the views of his rival chief, Captain Pipe. But in the Spring of the present year, the policy of the latter had well nigh prevailed, through the revengeful machinations of three celebrated loyalists, named McKee, Elliot, and Simon Girty, who had been confined at Pittsburgh as Tories; but who, effecting their escape, traversed the Indian country to Detroit, proclaiming, as they went, that the Americans had resolved upon their destruction, and that their only chance of safety was to espouse the cause of the Crown, and fight. Availing himself of the excitement created by those fugitives, [FN-1] Captain Pipe assembled a large number of his warriors, and proclaimed "every one an enemy to his country who should endeavor to persuade them against fighting the Americans, and declared that all such ought surely to be put to death." But White-Eyes was by no means inactive in his efforts to preserve peace. Collecting the people of his tribe, he addressed them with great earnestness and pathos. Observing that some of his warriors were preparing to take up the hatchet, he admonished them strongly against such a course, which, in the end, could only bring upon them sure destruction. Still, if they believed he was wrong—if they were disposed to place more confidence in the tales of those whom he knew to be fugitives, than to himself, they should not go out without him. "But he would not go out with them like the bear-hunter, who sets the dogs on the animal to be beaten about with his paws while he keeps at a safe distance. No! He would lead them on, place himself in their front, and be the first who should fall. They only had to determine what they meant to do. As for his own mind, it was fully made up not to survive his nation. And he would not spend the remainder of a miserable life, in bewailing the total destruction of a brave people who deserved a better fate." [FN-2]


[FN-1] The names of these men will be of frequent recurrence in the subsequent volume of this work, in connexion with the Indian wars of 1789—1794.

[FN-2] Drake's Book of the Indians.

The counsel of White-Eyes, supported by a conciliatory message, which was received just in good time, from the Americans, prevailed for the moment, and the Delawares came to the unanimous determination to follow his advice, and his alone. Availing himself of the hour of success, White-Eyes forthwith despatched the following energetic letter to the Shawanese of the Scioto, who had also been visited by McKee, Elliot, and Girty.

"Grand-children, ye Shawanese: Some days ago a flock of birds, that had come on from the East, lit at Goschochking, imposing a song of theirs upon us, which song had nigh proved our ruin. Should these birds, which, on leaving us, took their flight toward Scioto, endeavor to impose a song on you likewise, do not listen to them, for they lie."

But the hostile action of these people was only suspended for a short time, and it became necessary for more extended and efficient operations against nearly the whole race. [FN-1] In the project of Congress already adverted to, it was intended that one expedition should move upon Detroit, while General Gates was instructed by resolution to co-operate with that expedition by carrying the war into the Seneca country, and also to dispossess the enemy of Oswego, should he be found in the occupancy of that post. It appears, that at the very moment of the invasion of Wyoming, there was a delegation of Seneca chiefs at Philadelphia; but having taken their departure without communicating with the government, a resolution was passed by Congress, immediately upon the receipt of Colonel Z. Butler's despatches, instructing the Board of War to send after the chiefs, and ascertain from them in what character, and for what purposes, they had made the said visit; and also to inquire whether the Seneca warriors had not been engaged in hostilities against the United States. On the 16th of July information was received that the chiefs refused to return, and instructions to General Schuyler were proposed, directing him to intercept and detain them at Albany. The motion was negatived; but on the 25th of July, Congress having ascertained that the Senecas were actually engaged in the invasion of Wyoming, "aided by Tories and other banditti from the frontiers of New-York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania," it was resolved that the expedition against the hostiles of the Six Nations should be forwarded with all possible despatch. In the mean time, however, from the expensiveness of the undertaking, the expedition against Detroit was reluctantly abandoned; but in lieu thereof, General McIntosh, commanding the Western department, was ordered to proceed from Pittsburgh against those of the Indian towns the destruction of which, in his opinion, would tend most effectually to intimidate and chastise them. [FN-2] McIntosh had been stationed at Pittsburgh early in the Spring, and with a small party of regulars and militia, had descended the Ohio about thirty miles, and erected a fort, which was called by his own name, at Beavertown. It was a small work, built of strong stockades, and furnished with bastions mounting one six pounder each. The situation was well chosen, as a point affording the best facilities for intercepting the war parties of the western Indians, in their frequent hostile incursions the present year.


[FN-1] Indeed, the Shawanese had not been remarkably quiet antecedent to the visitation of McKee, Elliot, and Girty, since they had for several years been engaged in a system of predatory warfare against the celebrated Colonel Daniel Boon and his adventurous companions, almost from the day they made their appearance upon the banks of the Ohio, with their families, in 1773, when the settlement of the present Slate of Kentucky was commenced. Boon had been engaged with Lord Dunmore in his war against the Shawanese in 1774. In the following year he was attacked in Boonsborough, his principal settlement; and through the entire years of 1776 and 1777, hostilities were actively prosecuted by the savages against the advancing Colonists. In one of the earlier battles Boon had lost a son. A second son fell afterward, and his daughter was taken a captive, but bravely rescued by the chivalrous father. In April, 1777, the Indians so divided their forces as to fall upon all the infant settlements at once, and their little forts only saved the people from destruction. On the 15th of April, Boonsborough was attacked by one hundred Indians, at which time the inhabitants suffered severely. On the 19th, Colonel Logan's fort was attacked by a force of two hundred Indians, but they were repulsed by the garrison, consisting of only thirteen men—two of whom were killed. Reinforcements arriving from Virginia, the skirmishes became almost daily. In February of the present year, (1778) Boonsborough was again attacked, and the gallant Colonel himself taken prisoner. He was taken first to Chilicothe, and thence to Detroit, where he was treated with humanity by Colonel Hamilton, the Governor, who offered the Indians 100 pounds if they would surrender him into his hands, that he might liberate him on his parole. But having imbibed a strong affection for their most subtle and successful enemy, the Indians declined the offer. Taking him back to Chilicothe, the Colonel was duly adopted into one of the Shawanese families as a son, to whom his new parents became strongly attached. He soon acquired their confidence to such an extent, that they allowed him to wander off, and hunt by himself. Ascertaining, however, that they were meditating another descent upon Boonsborough, he absconded, and, eluding pursuit, reached his home on the 20th of June.

[FN-2] Journals of Congress, vol. iv. pages, 343, 398, 415, 427.

This expedition was doubtless judged the more important from the increasing audacity of the Indians on the Ohio border of Virginia, now forming the State of Kentucky. In August, Colonel Boon had led a small band of nineteen men against one of the Indian towns on the Scioto, before reaching which he fell in with and dispersed a party of forty Indians then on their way to Boonsborough. The Colonel found the town at Point Creek deserted; and learned that their whole force had gone against his own settlement, to the defence of which he was consequently compelled to hasten back. Fortunately he anticipated their arrival by a few hours, and was enabled to prepare his little garrison for defence. On the 8th of August the Indians, to the number of about four hundred and fifty, arrived before the fort, led, in addition to their own chiefs, by Captain Duquesne, and eleven other Canadian Frenchmen, The garrison was formally summoned to surrender, which summons was peremptorily refused. A treaty was then proposed by the besiegers, and acceded to; the Indians requiring that nine men should be sent out to them as negotiators. But this movement proved to be an artifice, by means of which they hoped to gain access to the fort. An attempt to grapple with and carry off the nine negotiators, though happily unsuccessful, disclosed their treacherous design. The besiegers then attempted a regular approach from the river's brink by mining; but finding that the garrison had discovered their purpose, and were engaged in countermining them, the siege was abandoned on the 20th of August. The loss of the enemy was thirty-seven killed and a much larger number wounded. The loss of the garrison was only two men killed and four wounded.

But, as we have seen, the expedition of General McIntosh, as authorized by the vote of Congress recently cited, was specially destined against the Sandusky towns. It was commanded by the General himself, and consisted of one thousand men; but such were the delays in getting it on foot, that the officers, on arriving at Tuscarawa, judged it imprudent to proceed farther at such an advanced season of the year. They therefore halted at that place, and built Fort Laurens, in which McIntosh left a garrison of one hundred and fifty men under the command of Colonel John Gibson, and returned himself to Fort Pitt for the winter. [FN]


[FN] Doddridge's Indian Wars.

Connected with these distant Indian operations, of the Summer of 1778, was one equally distinguished by the boldness of its conception and the brilliancy of its execution. The increasing hostility of the remote tribes upon the waters of the Mississippi and its tributaries, had induced a belief that a powerful influence must have been exerted upon their minds by the settlements planted long before at Kaskaskias, and in the country of the upper Mississippi, by the French, in connexion with Canada. For the purpose of striking at once at the root of the evil, an expedition was organized early in the season, the object of which was to invade and take possession of those settlements. The command was entrusted to Colonel George Rogers Clarke, of Virginia, a bold and experienced border officer, and his whole force, destined to penetrate twelve hundred miles through a wilderness, which was in fact the enemy's country, did not exceed two hundred men. The rendezvous of this little army was at the great Kanhawa, where they were attacked by a superior Indian force before their embarkation. But finding they were not able to make any impression upon the fort, the assailants drew off, having killed but one man and wounded one or two more. Descending to the falls of the Ohio, a small fort was erected at that place, in which a garrison was left of ten or twelve families. Arriving within about sixty miles of the mouth of the Ohio, the troops were landed, and, with only four days' provisions, marched for the Illinois. They reached the precincts of Kaskaskias at midnight on the sixth day, having marched two days without food, and determined forthwith, and unanimously, to take the town or die in the attempt. The town was strongly fortified, and contained about two hundred and fifty well-built houses; but the approach of the invaders was unknown; the people and the garrison were alike slumbering in security; and both town and fort were taken—the latter being carried by surprise, although the defences were sufficiently strong to resist a thousand men. The commanding officer, Philip Rocheblave, was made prisoner; and among his papers, falling into the hands of Colonel Clarke, were the instructions which he had from time to time received from the British Governors of Quebec, Detroit, and Michilimackinack, urging him to stimulate the Indians to war by the proffer of large bounties for scalps. Rocheblave was sent a prisoner to Williamsburgh in Virginia, and with him were sent the papers taken from his portfolio.

On the day after the fall of Kaskaskias, Captain Joseph Bowman, at the head of thirty mounted men, was sent to attack three other towns upon the Mississippi, the first of which, called Parraderuski, distant fifteen miles from Kaskaskias, was surprised, and taken without opposition—the inhabitants at once assenting to the terms of the conqueror. The next town was St. Philips, distant nine miles farther up. The force of Captain Bowman was so small, that he wisely determined to make a descent upon St. Philips in the night, that his strength, or rather his weakness, might be concealed. The precaution ensured success; and the inhabitants, with whom the whole negotiation was conducted in the night, acceded to the terms prescribed. From St. Philips, Captain Bowman directed his course upon the yet more considerable town of Cauhow, distant between forty and fifty miles. This town contained about one hundred families, and was also approached secretly, and entered in the night. Captain Bowman, with his troop, rode directly to the quarters of the commander, and demanded the surrender of himself and the whole town, which was immediately complied with. Taking possession of a large stone house, well fortified, the "bold dragoon" immediately established his quarters therein, and awaited the morning's dawn, which would disclose to the people the diminutive force to which they had surrendered. Enraged at the discovery, one of the enemy threatened to bring a body of one hundred and fifty Indians against the little American squadron, and cut them off. But he was secured, and in the course of ten days upward of three hundred of the inhabitants became so reconciled to their change of masters, as to take the oath of allegiance to the United States. Leaving a small guard at Cauhow, Captain Bowman returned to Kaskaskias. [FN]


[FN] The facts connected with this expedition of Colonel Clarke, are drawn from a letter of Captain Bowman to Colonel John Hite of Virginia. See Almon's American Remembrancer, vol. vi. pp. 82, 83. The settlements thus taken were immediately erected by Virginia into a county, called Illinois.

But the enemy on the New-York frontiers were by no means inactive. In addition to the severe affair in the Cobleskill settlement, in which Captain Christian Brown was the leader of the American militia and a small band of regulars, as noted in the last preceding chapter but one, a large band of Indians and Tories, under the conduct of Brant and Barent Frey, broke into the same district at the close of May, and inflicted no small degree of damage by the destruction of both life and property. They were met by Captain Patrick, belonging to Colonel Alden's regiment, and a handful of troops, who were entirely cut to pieces. Captain Patrick fell early in the engagement. His lieutenant, a corporal, and nineteen men, were also killed. The command then devolved upon a sergeant, who fought bravely, as all had done. But they were surrounded by a force greatly superior in numbers, and but four men, exclusive of the sergeant, escaped—all wounded. The bodies of Patrick and his lieutenant were shockingly mutilated. A portion of the settlement was burnt, and the settlement of Turlock, in the same vicinity, was also ravaged. [FN]


[FN] The only account of this affair which the author has discovered, was found accidentally among the papers of General Gansevoort, after the fourteenth chapter had been printed. It is contained in a letter from Colonel Richard Varick to Colonel Gansevoort, dated Schenectady, June 3, 1778, which states that the invasion took place on the preceding Saturday. Had this letter been sooner discovered, the incident would have been inserted in more exact chronological order—since the affair in which Captain Brown was the American commander, occurred, as related in the fourteenth chapter, from Brown's narrative, more than a month afterward.

Nor was this all. In the course of the Summer, and probably at about the time of Colonel Hartley's expedition into the country above Wyoming, one of the McDonalds, who had fled from Johnstown, a loyalist officer, distinguished for his activity, made a sudden irruption into the Schoharie settlements, at the head of about three hundred Tories and Indians, burning houses, and killing and making prisoners such of the inhabitants as came in his way, and were not able to make their escape. The little fortress of Schoharie was occupied by a small garrison, commanded by Colonel Vrooman—one of that class of men who, though officers, are certain never to be called soldiers. They saw the ravages of the enemy—the conflagrations by night rendering visible the acts of outrage committed by day—but from their own weakness dared not to venture forth, or make a show of opposition. The brave Colonel Harper was in the fort with Vrooman, and was little satisfied with the course of that officer. Leaving the fort, therefore, himself, he succeeded in making his way through the enemy, mounted his horse, and started express for Albany. His movement was discovered, and several Tories and Indians were despatched in pursuit. They overtook him in the night at an inn at Fox's Creek, after he had retired to bed. Hearing the noise below, the Colonel sprang up in full panoply, and as they broke open the door which he had locked, he presented his arms with such earnestness, that they recoiled. Standing upon the watch until the dawn of morning, he again succeeded in getting to horse, and rode off. One of the Indians followed him almost to Albany—the Colonel being obliged frequently to turn upon his dusky pursuer, who as often took to his heels as his pursuit was discovered. Having communicated the situation of affairs in the Schoharie valley to Colonel Gansevoort, a squadron of cavalry was forthwith detached to their assistance. The detachment rode all night, and early on the following morning, to the great joy of the terrified inhabitants who remained, the tramp of hoofs announced the approach of succors. The spirited light-horse-men had no sooner sounded a charge and made a dash upon the besiegers, led on by Harper, than the troops sallied out from the fort, and a precipitate retreat of the enemy was the consequence. [FN]


[FN] Letter of Rev. Mr. Fenn, of Harpersfield.

The people of Schoharie had suffered severely from the scouts and scalping parties of the enemy during the Summer; but their bravery in individual contests had amply avenged their wrongs. On one occasion a party of seven Indians made prisoner of a Mr. Sawyer, whom they bound, and marched off into the wilderness. Having proceeded eight or ten miles, they laid themselves down to sleep for the night. But their prisoner had been less effectually secured than they supposed. In the course of the night he succeeded in disengaging his hands, and cautiously taking a hatchet from the girdle of one of the Indians, he despatched six of them in rapid succession, and wounded the seventh, who made his escape. Having thus relieved himself of his keepers, Sawyer returned home in safety, and at his leisure. [FN]


[FN] Campbell's Annals.

Soon after the battle of Monmouth, Lieutenant Colonel William Butler, with one of the Pennsylvania regiments and a detachment of Morgan's riflemen, was ordered to the North, and stationed at Schoharie. Butler was a brave and experienced officer, especially qualified for the service upon which he was appointed. [FN] His arrival in Schoharie had a salutary effect, by discouraging the disaffected, and by the presence of a stronger force than had yet been among them, establishing the confidence and reviving the spirits of the people. Several of his scouting parties also returned with good success. Attached to the rifle corps, under Captain Long, were several bold spirits, who signalized themselves so greatly in the partisan warfare in which they were engaged, that many of their exploits are freshly remembered among the inhabitants of Schoharie to this day. Of this number were David Elerson, and a Virginian named Murphy. The first expedition of Captain Long was directed to the valley of the Charlotte river—one of the upper tributaries of the Susquehanna, flowing from the mountains south of Schoharie. The object was to arrest and bring to the fort a conspicuous Tory living upon that stream, named Service. His house being a point of rendezvous and supply for the Tory and Indian scouts, it was desirable that it should be broken up. While on his way to the place of destination, it was the good fortune of Captain Long to intercept a company of Tories, enlisted for the King's service, in the neighborhood of Catskill, by a Captain Smith, who were then on their way to join Sir John Johnson at Niagara. Smith was killed by the simultaneous shots of Elerson and his Captain—they being a few rods in advance at the moment when the Tory leader emerged at the head of his men from a thicket. His followers fled in every direction. They had intended to lodge that night with Service; but that unfortunate man had guests of quite another character. While unapprised of danger, his house was surrounded by the troops of Long, when in an instant Murphy and Elerson rushed in, and made him a prisoner. Having been informed that he must accompany them to Schoharie, on leaving his house he seized an axe standing by the door, which he poised, and directed for a blow at the head of Murphy. The latter was too quick-sighted to receive it; but as he sprang aside to avoid the descending weapon, Service fell dead from the rifle of Elerson.


[FN] Letter of Washington to General Stark.

After his term of enlistment had expired. Murphy remained in Schoharie, and made war on his own account. He was as remarkable for his fleetness, as for his courage and great precision in firing. He used a double-barreled rifle; and the fact of his frequently firing twice in succession, without stopping to load, and always bringing down his man, rendered him a terror to the Indians. Not knowing the peculiar construction of his rifle, they were impressed with the belief that it was a charmed weapon, and supposed he could continue firing as long and as often as he pleased without loading at all. He fought the savages after their own fashion—was more than their equal in stratagem or with his heels—and the greater the apparent danger he was encountering, the greater was his delight. When he had opportunity, he took pattern of the Indians in scalping those who fell by his unerring aim; and it was said that he killed forty of their warriors with his own hands.

Colonel Gansevoort yet remained in the command of Fort Schuyler, and was continued there during nearly the whole year, although, wearied by inaction, Willett, and others of his officers, made a strong and formal effort to be relieved, that their regiment might have an opportunity to distinguish themselves in the field with the main army. At Fort Schuyler they could have little else to do than observe the motions of the enemy on the lakes and the St. Lawrence, and to watch, and occasionally cut off, a hostile party when venturing too near the garrison. But from the correspondence of the officers, it would appear that the troops of the garrison must have been the severest sufferers from this petty mode of warfare, since the enemy seemed ever to be hovering in the precincts, ready to bring down or carry into captivity such straggling soldiers as ventured beyond musket-shot from the fort. [FN]


[FN] As an example of these individual murders, the following passage is copied from a MS. letter from Major Robert Cochran to Colonel Gansevoort, dated Sept. 8, 1778. During the occasional absences of Colonel Gansevoort, Major Cochran was in command of the post:—"This morning, Benjamin Acker, of Captain De Witt's company, who was out in the meadow, was killed and scalped by a party of Indians, who were seen and fired at by the sentinel near Brodack's house. I heard the firing in my room, and ran to the officer of the guard to know what was the matter. I was informed that a party of Indians had fired upon one of our men who had gone to catch a horse, and that he had either been killed or taken prisoner. I ordered Captain Bleecker to go out immediately, with the guard just parading, to see if he could find him dead or alive. They found Acker lying dead. He was scalped, and a weapon about two feet and a half long, like this,"—[here Major Cochran gave a drawing of the instrument—a war club, with a blade like the spear of a lance inserted in the side, near the upper end of it,]—"lying near him. This lance-head had been stuck several times in his body. It is supposed to have been left behind on purpose, as there were several marks on it, denoting the number of persons killed and scalps taken by the means of it."—[Captain Bleecker mentioned in the foregoing extract, is the venerable Leonard Bleecker, yet living at Sing Sing. He was a very active and efficient officer at Fort Schuyler for a long time.]

Early in July, Lieutenant McClellan, an active and efficient officer, was sent with a small party to destroy the buildings and public works at Oswego, which it was ascertained were not at that moment in the occupation of the enemy. The object of the expedition was accomplished and the buildings where burnt to the ground, together with a quantity of ammunition, provisions, and other public stores. It seems unaccountable that this post should have been left thus wholly unprotected; the only occupants found by the American party being a woman and her children, and a lad fourteen years old. The woman and her family, together with her furniture and a suitable supply of provisions, were placed in an out-building, and left without farther molestation. The boy was brought off as a prisoner, and furnished some important information touching the movements of the enemy between their island rendezvous in the St. Lawrence, and Niagara. [FN]


[FN] MS. draft of a letter from Colonel Gansevoort to General Stark, July 10, 1778.

But Colonel Gansevoort had some serious troubles to encounter within the garrison, and some painful duties to execute. Notwithstanding the high character which the forces constituting the garrison had acquired, and the sound patriotism of his officers, the spirit of disaffection appeared among them in the Spring, and the early part of the Summer, to an alarming extent. Distant as was the post of Fort Schuyler from New-York, Sir Henry Clinton had succeeded in the introduction of an emissary within the fort, in the character of a recruit. His name was Samuel Geake. He was an American soldier, and had been corrupted while a prisoner in New-York, whence he was sent forth, in company with Major Hammell, also an American prisoner, whose virtue yielded to the all-subduing power of gold. [FN-1] Geake accompanied Hammell to Poughkeepsie, where, in furtherance of his iniquitous designs, he enlisted in Captain Abraham Swartwout's company, [FN-2] and was transferred to Fort Schuyler, to join Colonel Gansevoort's regiment; into which place, for specific objects, he was instructed to insinuate himself by an aide-de-camp of Sir Henry Clinton. After Hammell's arrest, Colonel Varick wrote to Gansevoort, putting him on his guard as to the character of Geake. A sergeant named Kartele was employed by Colonel Gansevoort to ingratiate himself in Geake's confidence, and, if possible, ascertain his true character, and penetrate his designs. The commission was successfully executed by the sergeant, and the whole circumstances of Hammell's employment by the enemy, and his own, were elicited. Geake was thereupon arrested, but not until he had made great progress in his designs, and was on the eve of desertion, for the purpose of joining the British army in Philadelphia. He was tried by a court-martial made a full confession, and, with his confederates, was sentenced to death. [FN-3] The sentence was not carried into execution against Geake, not only because the constitution of the court was irregular, but because of the desire of the Commander-in-chief to spare him as a witness against Hammell, as will presently appear. The following documents will complete this section of the proceedings at Fort Schuyler:—


[FN-1] Hammell was Brigade-major to General James Clinton, and had been taken by Sir Henry Clinton at the storming of Fort Montgomery. According to Geake's confession, Hammell was employed in the commissary of prisoners' department, by the British officers in New-York, before he was sent out upon his mission of treason. General James Clinton, by the way, was not taken at Fort Montgomery, as stated in the text account of that affair. Though wounded, he escaped; although his-brother, the Governor, supposed him to be a prisoner, when he wrote his official account to the Committee of Safety.

[FN-2] Captain Swartwout was with Gansevoort at the siege of Fort Schuyler, and gave his cloth cloak to form the blue stripes of the flag spoken of in the account of the siege, as being made up for the occasion.

[FN-3] These facts have been gathered from the proceedings of the court-martial, preserved among General Gansevoort's papers. The president of the court was Captain Greece, who had been shot, tomahawked, and scalped, the year before. According to Geake's confession, Hammell was promised a Colonelcy of a new Irish regiment to be raised from deserters from the American army, and such others as they could enlist. Geake was to receive a commission as lieutenant. His mission to Fort Schuyler was to acquire accurate knowledge of its strength and the extent of its supplies—to induce as many of the garrison to desert as possible—and to spike the cannon on their departure.

"Colonel Gansevoort to General Washington.
Fort Schuyler, August 13, 1778.

"Sir,

"I have the unhappiness to inform your Excellency that desertion has lately been very frequent from this garrison. Since the 26th of last March we have had three sergeants, two corporals, and twenty privates desert from this battalion, besides one bombardier, one gunner, and one other from the artillery. Before the date above mentioned, several soldiers had been tried by a general Court Martial at this garrison for desertion, but never received the punishment due their crimes. The sentences of these different courts martial were carefully sent to the commanding General of this Department, [FN] but no returns have been ever received. Some time in June last, Colonel Varick informed me that a recruit, who had just joined our battalion, was suspected of being a confederate with Major Hammell. I ordered his conduct to be narrowly inspected. He was detected in the fact of corrupting and enticing the soldiers to desert. Upon being apprehended, he confessed that he came upon such designs, and was sent by an aid-de-camp of Sir Henry Clinton as a spy—to endeavor to enlist what Irishmen he could from the American army. There was every appearance of his being a spy. He was immediately tried by a general court martial—the sentence was directly sent down for approbation, but no answer has been received, and the man still lies confined in irons."


[FN] General Stark was then in command at Albany.

"Finding the spirit of desertion to increase, and the men in general to be exceeding uneasy,—probably arising from their being so long stationed on this frontier post. They have been frequently heard in their private conversations to say that they would sooner die than stay here the ensuing winter. My officers, as well as myself, were convinced, that unless some example was made, we should not be able to check this growing evil. A party of five men deserted on the 10th of August. They were taken by the Tuscarora Indians, on their way to Canada, fifty miles from this fort. They were brought in on the 13th. A general court martial was convened on the 15th. They were sentenced to die. The officers in a body desired their immediate execution, as the only way effectually to stop the increasing spirit of desertion.

"While these men were under sentence of death, a party returned from the German Flats, who had been to drive cattle to this garrison. They had lost six men by desertion, who were pursued, but without effect. This, together with the above reasons, and being apprehensive of some design of the enemy, and hearing a report which they had carefully spread among the savages, of having upward of seventy men enlisted in this garrison, who would rise upon their appearance, convinced me of the necessity of a rigid example, and resolved me to take the advice of my officers by ordering the prisoners to be executed. They were accordingly shot at the head of the regiment on the 17th. [FN] In doing of which, although I could not find that the articles of war gave me the fullest authority, yet, as commanding officer of a frontier post, far distant from the Commander in-chief, and having a separate commission from Congress as commandant of this post, I considered myself fully empowered in a case of such great necessity. I hope your Excellency will be convinced of this necessity, and approve of the justness of the execution. Inclosed your Excellency has a copy of the proceedings of the court martial. I am, &c."


[FN] Notwithstanding this severe example, it is noted in the private diary of Adjutant Hutton, of Colonel Gansevoort's regiment, that on the same day on which these five men were tried and sentenced to death, six others deserted; and two others deserted five days after their execution.—Vide Gansevoort's papers.



"General Washington to Colonel Gansevoort.
Head-Quarters, White Plains,}
29th August, 1778.}

"Sir.

"I have just received your favor of the 13th instant. Inclosed is a copy of a letter sent you some time ago respecting the court martial you transmitted.

"The spirit of desertion which possessed your soldiers, was certainly very alarming, and required a serious check. I hope the intention of the example you have made will be fully answered; and although the proceeding was not strictly in the prescribed form, yet the necessity of the case may justify the measure.

"I have spoken to Lieut. Colonel Willett on the application of the officers of the garrison. It is impossible to comply at present with their request, things are so circumstanced—but I shall take steps to relieve it before winter. [FN-1]

"I am, sir, your obedient, humble serv't. Geo. Washington. "Col. Gansevoort." [FN-2]


[FN-1] In November following, Gansevoort's command was relieved by Colonel Guise Van Schaick, whose regiment was assigned to that post.

[FN-2] These letters have been copied by the author from the originals. The enclosure mentioned in the above letter from General Washington reads as follows:—

[Copy.]

"Head-Quarters, White Plains,}
August
13, 1778.}

"Sir,

"I have received the proceedings of a court-martial held by your order, respecting Samuel Geake. As neither the articles of war, nor any resolves of Congress, authorise the constituting of general courts-martial by any other than the Commander-in-chief, the commanding officer of a separate department, or a general officer commanding in a particular State, I should have been under the necessity of ordering a second trial, and appointing a court for the purpose, if it had been judged expedient to bring Geake to punishment. But as his confession contains information very pointedly against Major Hammell, which concurs with other accounts I have received, I think it of more importance to the public to save Geake, as a witness against Hammell, than to make an example of him. You will therefore keep him in such a kind of confinement as will effectually prevent his escape, till matters are ripe for the prosecution of Major Hammell, and at the same time will be as little rigorous as the nature of the case will admit. He need, however know nothing of my intention. I am, &c.

"Geo. Washington. "Col. Gansevoort."

The position of Fort Schuyler was of the first importance, as the key to the western entrance of the Mohawk country; but it was nevertheless too remote from the upper German settlements of the valley, to afford them protection from sudden irruptions of the enemy avoiding that fortress in their approach. The consequence was that the work of destruction was actively prosecuted among the settlements referred to, during the Summer of this year. The first blow was struck upon a small and rather secluded hamlet, called Andrus-town, situated about six miles south-east of the German Flats, [FN-1] on the 18th of July, by a small party of Indians led by Brant in person. This settlement consisted of seven families, planted upon a lot of one thousand acres. [FN-2] They were in affluent circumstances for borderers, and the object of the invasion was plunder. The settlement was utterly destroyed—every thing of value that could be removed, was carried away—the houses and other buildings were reduced to ashes—an aged man named Bell, with his son and two others, was killed—one other inhabitant perished in the flames of his own house—and the remainder of the little colony were carried into captivity. Advices of this catastrophe had no sooner reached the Flats, than a party of resolute Whigs determined to pursue the marauders, among whom was John Frank, one of the Committee of Safety. [FN-3] Arriving at the scene of desolation, they hastily buried the dead, and continued their march, accompanied by six or seven friendly Indians, to the Little Lakes, [FN-4] where, also, was a small white colony known as "Young's Settlement," from the name of its founder. Here it was discovered that the enemy was so far in advance, that the chase was relinquished. But as Young, the head man of the settlement, was a Tory, as also was his next neighbor, a man named Collyer, the exasperated Whigs avenged, to a small extent, the destruction of Andrus-town, by plundering and burning their habitations.


[FN-1] In the North part of the present town of Warren.

[FN-2] The names of the proprietors were Bell, Frank, Oosterhoudt, Crim, Staring, Lepper, and Hoyer.

[FN-3] John Frank, Esq. yet a resident of German Flats, very old, but with mental faculties unimpaired. The author has known him these twenty-five years, and in September, 1837, paid him a visit. Most of the information respecting the events now immediately under consideration, is derived from him.

[FN-4] Two small lakes in the South-east part of the town of Warren, discharging their waters into Otsego Lake.

But the most considerable event of the season in that vicinity, was the entire destruction of the comparatively extensive and populous settlement of the German Flats. This settlement, originally called Burnetsfield, from the circumstance that the patent had been granted by Governor Burnet, extended over the richest and most beautiful section of the Mohawk Valley, comprehending the broad alluvial lands directly beyond the junction of the West Canada creek and the river, and including about ten miles of the valley from east to west. Midway of the settlement, on the south side of the river, yet stands the ancient stone church, the westernmost of the line of those structures built under the auspices of Sir William Johnson. A short distance east of the church stood the large and massive-built stone mansion of the Herkimer family, which, like the church itself, was used as a fort. [FN-1] Hence it was called Fort Herkimer. On the north side of the river, upon a gravelly plain, elevated some ten or fifteen feet above the surrounding Flats, stood Fort Dayton. [FN-2]


[FN-1] It was at this place that the first Liberty Pole in the valley was reared, in the Spring of 1775. The sheriff of Tryon County, White, with whose subsequent history the reader is already acquainted, came up to the Flats with a large body of militia from Johnstown, and cut it down. White had been a captain in the French war.

[FN-2] The present site of the village of Herkimer, in the town of the same name, and one of the most beautiful localities in America. The name of German Flats was designed for this town, which would have been the most appropriate, as Herkimer would have been for the town on the south side of the river, now called German Flats, where the Flats are far less extensive, and where the Herkimer family resided. The mistake was made by the legislature when the towns were named. This explanation, together with the geographical description in the text, is necessary to prevent confusion in regard to the localities of Forts Dayton and Herkimer, in the record of subsequent events.

At the time of which we are writing, the settlement on the south side of the river numbered thirty-four dwelling-houses, and there were about an equal number upon the north side, together with as many barns and other out-buildings, and several mills. The population, for the number of houses, was numerous. The lands, rich by nature, and well cultivated, had that year brought forth by handfuls; so that the barns were amply stored with their products.

It was at the close of August, or early in the month of September, that this fine district was laid waste by the Indians under the direction of Brant. Most providentially, however, the invasion was attended with the loss of but two lives—one man being killed outright, and another, named McGinnis, perished in the flames. The particulars of this hostile irruption were these:—Entertaining some suspicions of Brant, who was at Unadilla, a scout of four men had been despatched into that vicinity for observation. Three of these men were killed at the Edmeston settlement. The fourth, John Helmer, succeeded in making his escape, and returned to the Flats at half an hour before sundown, just in time to announce that Brant, with a large body of Indians, was advancing, and would, in a few hours, be upon them. All was, of course, terror and alarm through the settlement; and the inhabitants—men, women, and children—were gathered into Forts Dayton and Herkimer for security. In flying to those defences, they gathered up the most valuable of their stuff, and by means of boats and canoes upon the river, succeeded, in the course of the evening, in collecting a large portion of their best articles of furniture. But they had no time to look after their flocks and herds.

Early in the evening Brant arrived at the edge of the settlement, but as the night came on excessively dark and rainy, he halted with his forces in a ravine, near the house of his Tory friend Shoemaker, where the younger Butler and his party were captured the preceding year. Here the chieftain lay with his warriors until the storm broke away toward morning—unconscious that his approach had been notified to the people by the scout in season to enable them to escape the blow of his uplifted arm. Before the dawn he was on foot, and his warriors were sweeping through the settlement; so that the torch might be almost simultaneously applied to every building it contained. Just as the day was breaking in the east, the fires were kindled, and the whole section of the valley was speedily illuminated by the flames of houses and barns, and all things else combustible. The spectacle, to the people in the forts, was one of melancholy grandeur. Every family saw the flames and smoke of its own domicile ascending to the skies, and every farmer the whole product of his labor for the season dissolving into ashes.

Having no fire-arms larger than their rifles, the Indians avoided even a demonstration against the forts, notwithstanding their chagrin that neither scalps nor prisoners were to grace their triumph. But as the light of day advanced, their warriors were seen singly, or in small groups, scouring the fields, and driving away all the horses, sheep, and black cattle that could be found. Nothing upon which they could lay their hands was left; and the settlement, which, but the day before, for ten miles had smiled in plenty and in beauty, was now houseless and destitute. [FN-1] Happily, however, of human life there was no greater sacrifice than has already been mentioned. After the Indians had decamped with their booty, a force of between three and four hundred militia-men collected, and went in pursuit—following as far as Edmeston's plantation on the Unadilla river, where the bodies of the three scouts were found and buried. But no other results attended this expedition. [FN-2] A party of the Oneida Indians was more successful. They penetrated into one of the Unadilla settlements, burnt several houses, retook some of the cattle driven from the German Flats, and brought off a number of prisoners. The results of this little expedition were communicated to Major Cochran, then in command at Fort Schuyler, on or about the 25th of September, by a deputation of about one hundred of the Oneida and Tuscarora warriors, in the following speech:—


[FN-1] The Remembrancer states that there were 63 dwelling-houses, 57 barns, 3 grist-mills, and two saw-mills burnt, with most of the furniture and grain kept therein; and 235 horses, 229 horned-cattle, 269 sheep, and 93 oxen, taken and carried away. Judge Frank informed the author that he was upon guard on the morning of the conflagration, standing upon the corner of the fort (Herkimer,) which afforded him the best view of the scene when the flames broke forth. He also saw the dusky swarms of savages rush down the hill-slopes into the meadows after the cattle, as soon as it was sufficiently light to discern objects with tolerable distinctness. The whole scene, he says, was picturesque and sublime.

[FN-2] "Captain Gilbert Tice came from Niagara a few days before Brant set out with his party to destroy the German Flats. He had 33 Indians with him, mostly Mohawks. Brant's whole party at the German Flats was 300 Tories, and 152 Indians. There were no regular troops amongst them."—MS. letter of Major Cochran to Colonel Gansevoort, Sept. 28, 1778.

"Brothers: We have now taken the hatchet and burnt Unadilla, [FN] and a place called the Butternuts. We have brought five prisoners from each of those places. Our warriors were particular that no hurt should be done to women and children. We left four old men behind, who were no more able to go to war. We have re-taken William Dygert, who was taken about nine weeks ago by Brant on Fall Hill. We now deliver him to you, so that he may return to his friends. Last year we took up the hatchet at Stillwater, and we will now continue it in our hands. The Grasshopper, one of the Oneida chiefs, took to himself one of the prisoners to live with him in his own family, and has adopted him as a son."


[FN] The Indians must have meant one of the upper settlements on the Unadilla, somewhere between the Butternuts and the "Forks," about twenty-five miles north of the embouchure of that river into the Susquehanna. The principal town of the Indians was at the mouth of the river, and was destroyed two or three weeks afterward by Colonel Butler, as will presently appear.

"Brothers: We deliver you six prisoners, with whom you are to act as you please.

"Brothers: You had a man scalped here some time ago. We Oneidas and Tuscaroras have now taken revenge, and have brought you some slaves. We do not take scalps. We hope you are now convinced of our friendship to you and your great cause. The warriors detain two of the prisoners till tomorrow morning. The Canasaragas have one in their possession. They will bring him to-morrow or the next day." [FN]


[FN] MS. report of Major Cochran to Colonel Gansevoort.

The Oneidas, with very few exceptions, were ever faithful to the cause of the Whigs, and sometimes fought with great personal bravery. The Oriskany clan of that nation joined General Herkimer on the morning of his disastrous battle, under their chiefs Cornelius and Colonel Honyerry, and sustained themselves valiantly in that murderous conflict. [FN]


[FN] This fact was derived from Judge Frank, after the chapter containing the account of the battle of Oriskany was written, Honyerry, or Hansjune Tewahongrahkon, as his name stands in the archives of the war department, was commissioned a captain by the Board of War in 1779.

But the acquisitions of booty by the Indians at the German Flats were more than counterbalanced, a few days afterward, by their losses in their own chief towns, Unadilla and Oghkwaga, which were invaded, and in turn laid waste, by Colonel William Butler, with the 4th Pennsylvania regiment, a detachment of Colonel Morgan's rifle-men, then recently stationed at Schoharie, as we have already seen, and a corps of twenty rangers. Having marched from Schoharie to the head waters of the Delaware, and descended that stream two days' march, Colonel Butler struck off thence to the Susquehanna, upon which he emerged in the neighborhood of Unadilla. He approached the settlement with great caution; but the enemy had left the place several days before. Two of the white settlers, Tories, were made prisoners, however, one of whom was compelled to guide the forces of Butler to Oghkwaga, which service he performed. The town was taken possession of without interruption, the Indians having fled the day before in the greatest confusion—leaving behind a large quantity of corn, their dogs, some cattle, and a great part of their household goods. The march of Butler's troops had been fatiguing, and the vegetables and poultry, which they found here in great abundance, enabled them to fare sumptuously during their stay. The town was uncommonly well built for an Indian settlement, there being a considerable number of good farm-houses on either side of the river. These were all destroyed, together with the Indian castle three miles farther down the river, as also large quantities of provisions, intended for their winter's supply. They saw nothing of the enemy, and lost only one man at that place, who was shot by an Indian straggler lurking in ambush. Returning to Unadilla, that settlement, upon both sides of the river, was burnt, as also a grist-mill and saw-mill—the only ones in the Susquehanna valley. [FN]


[FN] Letter of Colonel William Butler to General Stark.

But although, so far as fighting was concerned, it was an easy campaign, still the difficulties encountered by the expedition were very great, and such as could not have been undergone but by men "possessing a large share of hardiness, both of body and mind. They were obliged to carry their provisions on their backs; and, thus loaded, frequently to ford creeks and rivers. After the toils of hard marches, they were obliged to camp down during wet and chilly nights without covering, or even the means of keeping their arms dry." [FN] They completed their work in sixteen days, and returned to Schoharie. But the Indians were not slow in taking their revenge for this destruction of their towns. An Indian's vengeance slumbers no longer than until an opportunity is afforded for sating it,