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Conference with Brant His Frankness. Herkimer's precautionary Measure. Haughty Bearing of Bro

his brother, Captain Brant. “And all these men wish to converse with the chief too?" asked the quick-witted messenger. He returned to Brant and communicated the reply. The parties were encamped within two miles of each other, and the whole assemblage made an imposing display. By mutual agreement, their arms were to be left in their respective encampments. The preliminaries being arranged, Brant and about forty warriors appeared upon the skirt of a distant wood, and the parties met in an open field. A circle was formed, and the two commanders, with attendants, entered it for conference. After exchanging a few words, Brant asked Herkimer the object of his visit. He made the same reply as to the messenger. “And all these have come on a friendly visit too?” said the chief. “All want to see the poor Indians. It is very kind,” he added, while his lip curled with a sarcastic smile. After a while the conversation became animated, and finally the chief, being pressed by direct questions concerning his intentions, firmly 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, the king would humble them; that General Schuyler was very smart on the Indians at the treaty of German Flats, 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.” He also told General Herkimer that a war-path had been opened across the country to Esopus, for the Tories of Ulster and Orange to join them. The conference ended then, with an agreement to meet the next morning at nine o'clock, the respective forces to remain encamped as they were." During the conference, some remarks made by Colonel Cox greatly irritated the sachem, and on his signal to his warriors, who were near, they ran to their encampment, raised the shrill war-hoop, and returned with their rifles. In the mean while the chief became pacified, and the warriors were kept at a proper distance. Herkimer, however, fearful that Brant's pacific appearance might be feigned, prepared to act with decision on the following morning. He charged an active young soldier, named Wagner, with the duty of shooting Brant, if any hostile movement should appear on the part of the chief. Wagner was to select two assistants, who were to shoot the two attendants of Brant at the same time. He chose Abraham and George Herkimer, nephews of the general, and the three stood by the side of Herkimer the next morning. There was no necessity for their services, and, haply, no blood was shed on the occasion. Mr. Stone seems to have mistaken Herkimer's precaution, in this instance, for premeditated perfidy, and says that, had the intent been perpetrated, the stain upon the character of the provincials would have been such that “all the waters of the Mohawk could not have washed it away.” Mr. Wagner was yet living at Fort Plain when I visited that place in 1848, and I have his own authority for saying that the arrangement was only a precautionary one, for which Herkimer deserved praise. Mr. Stone gives his version upon “the written authority of Joseph Wagner himself.” Simms has declared, in his “History of Schoharie County,” and repeated in conversation with myself that Wagner told him he never furnished a MS. account of the affair to any one. Here is some mistake in the matter, but the honorable character of General Herkimer forbids the idea of his having meditated the least perfidy. Again they met, and the haughty chief—haughty because conscious of strength—as he entered the circle, addressed General Herkimer, and said, “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 advantage of you.” He then gave the signal, and all his warriors, painted in the hideous colors that distinguished them when going into battle, burst

the patriots, or, at least, to remain neutral. It is also supposed that he went to demand restitution for the cattle, sheep, and swine of which the savages had plundered the Johnstone and Unadilla settlements. Campbell's Annals of Tryon County.

Breaking up of the Council. Grand Council at Oswego. Seduction of the Indians. Their Coalescence with the Whites.

from the surrounding forest, gave the war-hoop, and discharged their rifles in the air. Brant coolly advised the general to go back to his house, thanked him for his courtesy on the occasion, expressed a hope that he might one day return the compliment, and then turned proudly upon his heel and disappeared in the shadowy forest. “It was early in July, and the morning was remarkably clear and beautiful. But the echo of the war-hoop 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 aftertimes, 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 subsequently visited the inhabitants of this unfortunate frontier.” A few days after this conference, Brant withdrew his warriors from the Susquehanna and joined Sir John Johnson and Colonel John Butler, who were collecting a large body of Tories and refugees at Oswego, preparatory to a descent upon the Mohawk and Schoharie settlements. There Guy Johnson and other officers of the British Indian Department summoned a grand council of the Six Nations. They were invited to assemble “to eat the flesh and drink the blood of a Bostonian”—in other words, to feast on the occasion of a proposed treaty of alliance against the patriots, whom the savages denominated Bostonians, for the reason that Boston was the focus of the rebellion. There was a pretty full attendance at the council, but a large portion of the sachems adhered faithfully to their covenant of neutrality made with General Schuyler, until the appeals of the British commissioners to their avarice overcame their sense of honor. The commissioners represented the people of the king to be numerous as the forest leaves, and rich in every possession, while those of the colonies were exhibited as few and poor; that the armies of the king would soon subdue the rebels, and make them still weaker and poorer; that the rum of the king was as abundant as Lake Ontario; and that if the Indians would become his allies during the war, they should never want for goods or money. Tawdry articles, such as scarlet clothes, beads, and trinkets, were then displayed and presented to the Indians, which pleased them greatly, and they concluded an alliance by binding themselves to take up the hatchet against the patriots, and to continue their warfare until the latter were subdued. To each Indian were then presented a brass kettle, a suit of clothes, a gun, a tomahawk and scalping-knife, a piece of gold, a quantity of ammunition, and a promise of a bounty upon every scalp he should bring in.” Thayendanegea (Brant) was thenceforth the acknowledged grand sachem of the Six Nations, and soon afterward commenced his terrible career in the midst of our border settlements.” We have thus glanced at the most important events that took place in the Mohawk Valley and adjacent districts prior to the attack of St. Leger upon Fort Stanwix, or Schuyler (as it will hereafter be called), which mark the progress of the Revolution there, before Brant and his more savage white associates brightened the tomahawk and musket, and bared the knife, in avowed alliance with the enemies of liberty. Volumes might be, and, indeed, have been, written in giving details of the stirring events in Tryon county during our Revolutionary struggle." To these the reader is referred for local particulars, while we consider transactions there of more prominent and general interest.

‘Campbell's Annals of Tryon County.

* See Life of Mary Jemison. This pamphlet was written in 1823, and published by James D. Bemis, of Canandaigua, New York. She was taken a captive near Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh) when a child, and was reared among the Indians. She married a chief, and became an Indian in every particular, except birth. At the council here spoken of she was present with her husband. Her death occurred at the age of 89. She says that the brass kettles mentioned in the text were in use among the Seneca Indians as late as 1823, when her narrative was printed.

* Soon after Brant joined the Indians at Oghkwaga, he made a hostile movement against the settlement of Cherry Valley. He hovered around that hamlet for some days, but did not attack it. Of this a detailed account will be given hereafter.

* The most voluminous are Campbell's Annals of Tryon County, Stone's Life of Brant, and Simms's Schoharie County and Border Wars of New York.

Indian Battle-ground. Fort Schuyler. Colonel Peter Gansevoort.


“A scream 'tis but the panther's—naught
Breaks the calm sunshine there;
A thicket stirs a deer has sought
From sight a closer lair;
Again upon the grass they droop,
Then bursts the well-known whoop on whoop,
Shrill, deafening on the air,
And onward from their ambush deep,
Like wolves, the savage warriors leap.”

i.” E are now upon an Indian battle-ground, in the bosom of the deep forest, s where the cunning and ferocity of the savage had free exercise in the panther-like maneuvers of the ambuscade, and the unrestrained use of the hatchet and knife. Hitherto we have seen the red warriors subordinate, and comparatively ineffective in the conflicts we have considered, except in the battle at Lake George and in the massacre at the Cedars. We have seen their method of warfare wholly subverted by European tactics, and their fiery courage controlled by a policy unknown in their sanguinary battles, unsuited to their martial training, and unsatisfactory to their fierce natures when aroused by the flow of blood. But in the siege of Fort Schuyler, which we are about to chronicle, and particularly in the battle of Oriskany, which formed a part of the operations of that siege, the Indians, commanded by Brant, the most subtle and accomplished war chief of his time, formed the strong right arm of St. Leger, and were left free to fight according to the customs of their race. In the spring of 1777, Colonel Peter Gansevoort' was appointed to the command of Fort Schuyler, and held that post in the summer of that year, when Burgoyne was making his victorious march toward Albany by way of Lake Champlain. The successful progress of the British commander greatly alarmed the people of the north, and those of Tryon county were particularly disturbed by intelligence that a de

* Peter Gansevoort was born in Albany, July 17th, 1749. He accompanied Montgomery into Canada in 1775, with the rank of major, and the next year he was appointed a colonel in the New York line, which commission he held when he defended Fort Schuyler against St. Leger. For his gallant defense of that post he received the thanks of Congress, and in 1781 was promoted to the rank of brigadier general by the state of New York. After the war he was for many years a military agent. He held several offices of trust, and was always esteemed for his bravery and judgment as a soldier, and for his fidelity, intelligence. and probity as a citizen. He died July 2d, 1812, aged 62 years.


A Spy's Intelligence. Rumored Preparations for an Invasion. Effect on the Whigs. Approach of St. Leger.

scent upon them from Oswego might be expected. As early as June, a man from Canada, arrested as a spy, had disclosed the fact that a detachment of British troops, Canadians and Indians, was to penetrate the country by way of Oswego and the Mohawk, to join Burgoyne when he should reach Albany. This intelligence was soon after confirmed by Thomas Spencer, a friendly Oneida half-breed sachem, who was sent to Canada a secret emissary for information. He was present at a council where Colonel Claus,” a brother-in-law of Sir John Johnson, presided, and there he became acquainted with the general plans of Burgoyne. The Oneida further informed the inhabitants that Sir John Johnson and Colonel Claus, with their families, were then at Oswego in command of seven hundred Indians and four hundred regular troops; that there were six hundred Tories at Oswegatchie (Ogdensburgh) ready to join them; and that Colonel John Butler was to arrive at Oswego on the 14th of July, from Niagara, with Tories and Indians. This information, instead of arousing the Whigs of the Mohawk Valley to prompt and efficient action, seemed to paralyze them with alarm. The timid were backward in preparing for the field, and the wavering, considering the patriot cause almost hopeless, became Loyalists, or, at best, passive Whigs. Fort Schuyler was still unfinished, and feebly garrisoned, and certain discomfiture seemed to await the patriots in that region. Colonel Gansevoort, however, was vigilant, active, and hopeful. He wrote spirited letters to General Schuyler, imploring aid, and that officer as urgently laid the condition of Tryon county before the Provincial Congress of New York, and also the General Congress. But it was then too late to expect succor from a distance, and the people of the Mohawk Valley were thrown upon their own see 2- ~ EE ble resources for defense. St. Leger and his Rangers, with \ à ## # the forces of Johnson, Claus, Butler, and Brant, mentioned \ * tr * # A r \\

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o-s, ******) by the Oneida chief, were already in motion, and on the 1st # § { | of August the enemy, one thousand seven hundred strong, # . H came up Oneida Lake, and near the ruins of old Fort New- | port prepared to invest Fort Schuyler. The Indians were led by Brant, and the whole beleaguering force, at the beginning of the march at Oswego Falls, was disposed in admirable order for the journey through the forest. The main body was led by the Indians, under Brant, in five columns, four hundred and sixty paces in front of the advanced guard. The Indians marched in single file, at large distances apart. Between the five columns and the rear-guard a file of Indians, ten paces apart, formed a line of communication. The advanced guard was one hundred paces in front of the main column, which was disposed in Indian file, the right and left flanks covered by a file of savages. The rear-guard was formed of regular troops. The advanced guard was composed of sixty marksmen, selected from the corps of Johnson's Royal Greens, and led by Captain Watts, a brother- ORDER or MARCH.”

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* Daniel Claus married the daughter of Sir William Johnson, and was a man of considerable influence. Brant entertained for him sentiments of the strongest personal hostility, although both were engaged in the same cause. His wife died in Canada in 1801, and Brant, in the name of the Five Nations, made a speech of condolence on her death. William Claus, deputy superintendent of Indian affairs, was his son.—Sabine's Lives of the Loyalists.

* This diagram, representing the order of march of the besieging force, is a reduced copy of an engraving in Stone's Life of Brant. The original drawing, beautifully colored, was found in the writing-desk of St. Leger, which he left behind when he fled from his camp before Fort Schuyler. The following is an explanation of the diagram: a a a a a, five columns of Indians in front, flanking the British flag; b, advanced guard; n, line of communication between the advanced guard and Indian columns; c c, d d, the left and right wings of the eighth and thirty-fourth regiments (the thirty-fourth on the left side); e, rear-guard; ff, Indians on the right and left flanks; ii, line of communication.

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Investiture of Fort Schuyler. A curious Flag. Arrival of St. Leger. His pompous Manifesto.

in-law of Sir John Johnson. Each corps was likewise furnished with practiced marksmen at short intervals, who were ordered to concentrate their strength upon any point that might be attacked. St. Leger, as appears from his private diary, was much annoyed on the way by the disposition of his Indian allies to proceed according to their own notions of expediency. They were averse to approaching the fort in a body, but the commander finally persuaded them to be governed by his directions, which, at Oswego, they had promised to obey, and on the 2d of August Lieutenant Bird and Brant commenced the investment of the fort. The garrison, under Colonel Gansevoort, consisted of seven hundred and fifty men. In July, Colonel Marinus Willett, an active and judicious officer, had joined the garrison with his regiment, and, on the very day when Bird commenced the investiture of the fort, Lieutenant-colonel Mellon, of Colonel Wesson's' regiment, arrived with two hundred men, and two bateaux laden with provisions and military stores. With this timely addition, the garrison had sufficient provision for six weeks, and a plentiful supply of ammunition for small arms. But for their cannon, their most important means of defense, they had only about four hundred rounds, or nine cartridges for each piece a day for that length of time. The garrison was also without a flag when the enemy appeared, but their pride and ingenuity soon supplied one in conformity to the pattern adopted by the Continental Congress. Shirts were cut up to form the white stripes, bits of scarlet cloth were joined for the red, and the blue ground for the stars was composed of a cloth cloak belonging to Captain Abraham Swartwout, of Dutchess county, who was then in the fort.” Before sunset the curious mosaic-work standard, as precious to the beleaguered garrison as the most beautifully-wrought flag of silk and needle-work, was floating over one of the bastions. On the 3d, Colonel St. Leger arrived before the fort with his whole force. It was a motley collection of British regulars, a few Hessians and Canadians, well-armed Tories, and troops of warriors from the various tribes of the Six Nations, except the Oneidas, who were faithful to their agreement to remain neutral. St. Leger dispatched an officer, bearing a flag, to the fort, immediately after his arrival, with a copy of a pompous manifesto which he had sent among the people, conceived very much in the vein of the one issued by Burgoyne from Crown Point, a few weeks before. He magnified the power, clemency, and justice of the king, and charged the General Congress, and other assemblies, committees, &c., with cruelty in the form of “arbitrary imprisonment, confiscation of property, persecution and torture, unprecedented in the inquisitions of the Romish Church.” He also denounced the patriot civil authorities every where as guilty of “the profanation of religion,” and of “shocking proceedings” of almost every shade of darkness. He then exhorted the people who were disposed to do right, to remember that he was “at the head of troops in the full power of health, discipline, and valor, determined to strike when necessary and anxious to spare when possible,” and tempted them with offers of employment if they would join his standard, security to the infirm and industrious, and payment in coin for all supplies for his army that might be brought into his camp. “If notwithstanding these endeavors and sincere intentions to effect them,” he said, in conclusion, “the phrensy of hostility should remain, I trust

* The name of this officer is variously spelled in the books—Weston, Wesson, and Wessen. At the close of an autograph letter of his among Gates's Papers (vol. x.), in the New York Historical Society, it is written Wesson, and, presuming that he spelled his own name correctly, I give that orthography. It will be remembered that Colonel Wesson and his regiment were active participators in the battles of Bemis’s Heights, a few weeks later than the time in question.

* It was in Captain Swartwout's company, while at Poughkeepsie, that Samuel Geake, an emissary of Sir Henry Clinton, enlisted, in the character of a recruit, insinuated himself into the good graces of the officers at Fort Schuyler, and acquired much valuable information respecting the means, designs, and expectations of the Americans. He was suspected, arrested, tried by court-martial as a spy, and was condemned to death. He was spared, however, as a witness against Major Hammell, another recreant American, who had accompanied him to Poughkeepsie, and who was under arrest at that time. Geake confessed that he was employed for the purpose of which he was accused. He said that Major Hammell (who had been taken prisoner by the British) had espoused the cause of the enemy, and was promised a colonelcy in the British army, and that he (Geake) was to receive the commission of lieutenant as soon as he should return to New York from Fort Schuyler.

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