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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


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Chapter VII. — Progress of the Revoloution, as Affected by the Aboriginal Tribes. Massacres of Wyonming, Cherry Valley, and Ulster.

1778.

IT does not coincide with the plan of the present work, to describe in detail the scenes of Indian outrage and massacre which marked the Revolutionary contest; the object being, to present a condensation of facts. The character of the Indians did not appear in any new light; as the war advanced, they swept over the country like a pestilence; frequently, like infuriated tigers, springing across the borders, and spreading death and devastation where domestic happiness had previously reigned. Any hope that might have been entertained of mollifying their hatred, proved to be a delusion. The Iroquois, who were the principal actors in this murderous warfare, were, in nearly every instance, led on by their hero chieftain, Brant. Sometimes, however, parties of the various tribes of Algonquin lineage, from the West, were in the practice of visiting the then temporary headquarters of the British Indian Department at Fort Niagara. At this place, most of the war-parties were formed, supplied, and equipped. Thither they also returned to report their success; bringing their prisoners with them, to pass through the terrible ordeal of the gauntlet; and there, likewise, they received the rewards for the scalps they had taken.

It was at Niagara that the plan of the incursion into the Valley of Wyoming originated. Towards the close of June, 382 Colonel John Butler, the commanding officer of that post, ordered 300 men, principally loyalists, to set out on an expedition to the Susquehanna, accompanied by a body of about 500 Indians, of diverse tribes. Arriving at Tioga point, they embarked in floats, or on rafts, and reached the scene of conflict on the first day of July. After much countermarching and manoeuvring, they succeeded in surrounding and defeating a body of 400 militia, of whom only 60 escaped the rifle, the tomahawk, and the scalping-knife. The following day, this marauding force appeared before Fort Wyoming, then containing only a small garrison, but crowded with fugitive women and children. The American commandant agreed to the prescribed terms of a capitulation; but, either because he could not, or did not, comply with them,

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they were basely violated. It was then believed, and it has since been frequently asserted, that Brant led the Indians on this occasion; but it is doubtful whether he was actually present, though he probably approved of the movement, if he was not the original instigator of it. 383 This chief was known to cherish such a deadly hatred of the revolutionists, and had been so frequently connected with the incursions, and midnight massacres perpetrated on the frontiers, that, in the popular estimation, no injustice has been done to his bad reputation, in the use which has been made of his name by the poet, Campbell. 384 A melancholy catalogue, indeed, would be a detail of the enterprises in which Brant was the leader and principal actor. Though the voice of cotemporary history might be stifled, regarding his conduct as the leader of the massacre in Cherry Valley, yet his sanguinary attacks upon Saratoga, German Flatts, Unadilla, and Schoharie, as well as the murder of the wounded Colonel Wisner, 385 and the inhuman butchery of the wounded at Ulster, will, during all future time, serve to prove that he hovered around the frontiers of New York and Pennsylvania, like the genius of Evil, with the enraged Acwinoshioni 386 in his train. If the responsibility for acts committed depends upon the cultivated moral perceptions of the individual, then the great partisan Mohawk will have much more to answer for than his kindred generally, as he not only received a scholastic and religious education, but was for a long time domiciliated in the family of Sir William Johnson, in which he officiated as an assistant-secretary, 387 and there became familiar with the maxims and usages of refined society in the colonies.

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
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