The peaceful relations which subsisted between the Dutch colonists and the Iroquois were perpetuated by the English on their accession to the Dutch possessions in 1664; and, with the immaterial exceptions, the Iroquois remained the firm allies or friends of the English till the domination of the latter was broken by the triumph of the colonists in the war of the Revolution. But from the time the English supplanted the Dutch, the jealousy and strife which characterized the English and French intercourse in Europe were extended to this portion of the Western Continent. A sharp rivalry was maintained in the acquisition of territory, and in the effort to gain an acknowledged supremacy over the Iroquois, of whose country Mr. Lauson, then Governor of New France, took formal possession in 1656. The French displayed the most enterprise in the extension of her dominions; while the English were most successful in gaining the allegiance of the Iroquois, though, their dilatory movements in wars with the French often provoked sharp criticisms from their savage and impetuous allies.1 The French sent out parties in various directions, to the west, north-west and south-west, to explore new sections of country and take possession, which they did by erecting the King's arms and drawing up proces-verbaux to serve as titles.2 They thus gained a useful knowledge of the country and its savage occupants, and enlarged the scope of their fur trade, which, together with the zeal of propagandism, were the vital forces operating in the colonization of New France.
But the prosperity of the French colony was not commensurate with the zeal of the Jesuits or the enterprise of the fur traders, as compared with that of the English colonies.3 The reason is quite obvious. Those who composed the English colonies came with the intention of making this their home, and though immigration had virtually ceased, the natural increase had been great. The strong desire to escape persecution had given an impulse to Puritan colonization; while, on the other hand, none but good Catholics, the favored class of France, were tolerated in Canada. These had no motive for exchanging the comforts of home and the smiles of fortune for a starving wilderness and the scalping-knives of the Iroquois. The Huguenots would have emigrated in swarms; but they are rigidly forbidden. Of the feeble population of the French colony, the best part were bound to perpetual chastity; while the fur-traders, and those in their service, rarely brought their wives to the wilderness. The fur-traders, moreover, is always the worst of colonists; since the increase of population, by diminishing the number of the fur-bearing animals, is adverse to his interest. But behind all this there was in the religious ideal of the rival colonies an influence which alone would have gone far to produce the contrast in material growth.4 The Puritan looked for a substantial reward in this life; while the Jesuits, lightly esteeming life themselves, and looking wholly for reward in a future life, endeavored to inculcate the same idea in those with whom they came in contact. The interests of the French King were of far less moment to them than those of their Heavenly King.5
While the Iroquois were engaged in exterminating their kindred nations they kept up a desultory warfare with the French, broken by brief intervals of peace, when their interests or necessities demanded a cessation hostilities.
In 1650, they had brought the French colonists to such extremity that the latter endeavored to gain the powerful support of New England. Massachusetts had expressed a desire for the establishment of a reciprocal trade between her own and the French colonists, and it was thought this concession might be made the condition of securing her military aid in subduing the Mohawks. It was urged that as the Abenaquis, an Algonquin people, living on the Kenebec in the present state of Maine, were under the jurisdiction of the Plymouth colony, and had suffered from Mohawk inroads, it became the duty of that colony to protect them. Gabriel Druilletes, a Jesuit Missionary, was deputed to make these representations to the Massachusetts Government, and proceeded to Boston for that purpose. Druilletes met with a cordial reception, but received no encouragement with regard to the object of his mission, as it was scarcely to be expected that the Puritans would see it for their interest to provoke a dangerous enemy in a people who had never molested them.6
The French Government now resolved to put an end to the ruinous incursions of the Iroquois. In June, 1665, M. de Tracy was appointed Viceroy of the French possessions in America, and brought with him to Quebec four regiments of infantry. March 23, 1665, Daniel de Runy, Knight, Lord de Courcelles, was appointed Governor of Canada, and in September of that year arrived with a regiment, several families, and everything necessary for the establishment of a colony. January 9, 1666, M. de Courcelles, with 500 men, set out on a most hazardous expedition to the country of the Mohawks. The journey was undertaken in snow shoes. After a perilous march of the thirty-five days, during which many of his men were frozen, he arrived within twenty leagues of their villages, when he learned from prisoners taken that the greater part of the Mohawks and Oneidas had gone to a distance to make war with the "Wampum Makers." Deeming it "useless to push further forward an expedition which had all the effect intended by the terror it spread all the tribes," he retraced his steps, having "killed several savages who from time to time made their appearance along the skirts of the forest for the purpose of skirmishing," and lost a few of his own men, who were killed by the enemy. 7
This expedition, so bootless in material results, had the effect to induce the Iroquois to sue for peace. May 22, 1666, the Senecas sent ten ambassadors to Quebec, who represented "that they had always been under the King's protection since the French had "discovered their country," and demanded for themselves and the Onontať nation, "that they be continued to be received in the number of his Majesty's faithful subjects" requesting that some Frenchmen be sent to settle with them, and "Blackgowns" to preach the gospel among them and make them understand the God of the French, promising not only to prepare cabins, but to work at the construction of forts for them. This having been granted, the treaty was concluded May 25, 1666. July 7, 1666, the Oneidas sent ten ambassadors to Quebec on a like mission for themselves and the Mohawks, and ratified the preceding treaty July 12, 1666.8
Pending these negotiations the Mohawks committed an outrage on a portion of the garrison of Fort St. Anne, and M. de Tracy concluded that to ensure the success of the treaty it was necessary to render the Mohawks more tractable by force of arms. Accordingly in September, 1666, at the head of 600 troops and 700 Indians, he made an incursion into the country of the Mohawks, who, with their usual sagacity, being unable to cope with so powerful an enemy, fled to the forests on their approach, and left them to exhaust themselves in a contest with privation and hardships in the wilderness. After destroying their villages, corn and other products, M. de Tracy returned.
Following this expedition, Oct. 13, 1666, the Iroquois ambassadors of the Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Oneida nations repaired to Quebec to request a confirmation of the continuance of his Majesty's protection, which was granted by diverse articles on several conditions, among others: that the Hurons and Algonquins inhabiting the north side of the River St. Lawrence, up from the Esquimaux and Bertiamites into the great lake of the Hurons, and north of Lake Ontario, should not be disquieted by the four Iroquois nations on any pretext whatsoever, his Majesty having taken them under his protection; and that on the contrary, the said Iroquois should assist them in all their necessities, whether in peace or war; that, agreeably to their urgent prayers, there should be granted to them two "blackgowns," one smith and a surgeon; that the King, at their request, allow some French families to settle in their country; that two of the principal Iroquois families should be sent from each of these four nations to Montreal, Three Rivers and Quebec; that all hostilities should cease till the return of the ambassadors with the ratification of the present treaty; that the Mohawks (Guagenigronons,) having been informed of the establishment of the French on the River Richelieu, without sending ambassadors to demand peace, should be excluded from the preceding treaty, his Majesty reserving unto himself the right to include them therein, should he deem it fitting so to do, whenever they sent to sue for peace and his protection. The Mohawks acquiesced in the conditions of the treaty, but under circumstances which induced a belief in their lack of fidelity. 9
The following year (July 31, 1667,) was concluded the Peace of Breda, between Holland, England and France. By it Acadia (Nova Scotia,) was left to the French, and its boundary fixed, and the New Netherlands to the English. In 1668, a treaty of peace was signed between France and Spain, whereby Louis XIV. Surrendered his claims to the Spanish Netherland, but was left in possession of much he had already conquered. A general peace now ensued; but it was of short duration, for in 1669 the French and Iroquois were again at war. The harvests of New France could not be gathered in safety, and much suffering and the greatest consternation prevailed among the French colonists. Many prepared to return to France. Louis de Grande, Count de Frontenac, was appointed Governor and Lieutenant-General of Canada April 6, 1672, and under his efficient management confidence was restored and a treaty of peace again ratified in 1673. 10
In 1784, another rupture occurred between the French and Iroquois, the latter of whom, (the Senecas,) in that year pillaged seven hundred canoes belonging to Frenchmen, arrested the latter to the number of fourteen and detained them nine days, and attacked Fort St. Louis, which was successfully defended.11 M. de la Barre, who was then Governor of New France, that year led an expedition against the Senecas to punish them for this outrage. But before he reached the Senecas' country a rumor reached him that, in case of an attack, Col. Dongan, Governor of New York, had promised the Senecas "a reinforcement of four hundred horse and four hundred foot." This so alarmed him that he decamped the next day. Sickness had made such inroads in his army "that it was with difficulty" he found a sufficient number "of persons in health to remove the sick to the canoes." 12 The only fruit of the expedition was a treaty made in the most indecent haste, with the Onondagas, Oneidas and Cayugas at La Famine. An expedition of such magnificent proportions, yet so barren of good results, brought censure upon M. de la Barre, and led to his supersedure the following year by the Marquis de Nonville, who was instructed to observe a strict neutrality.
DeNonville thoroughly examined the situation, and, having reached a conclusion, he wrote his royal master that the reputation of the French among the Indians, whether friends or enemies, was absolutely destroyed, by the ill-starred expedition of la Barre, and that nothing but a successful war could avert a general rebellion, the ruin of the fur trade, and the extirpation of the French. Louis responded with additional reŽnforcements, and not only approved the war, but advised that Iroquois prisoners be sent to him for service as galley-slaves. DeNonville therefore determined to divert the Iroquois from their inroads among the river Indians by giving them employment at home; and especially to overawe and punish the Senecas. Accordingly, in the summer of 1687, he invaded them with two thousand French and Indians. Having arrived at Irondequoit Bay, he constructed a palisade for the protection of his batteaux and canoes, which was finished on the morning of July 12th. That day he set out for the Senecas' villages, and on the 13th met the enemy in ambush as he passed a dangerous defile. The Senecas gave way before the superior number of the enemy, and on the following day, when de Nonville moved his army towards their first village, he found it in ashes and the fort "quite nigh" abandoned. "We have five or six men killed," he says, "on the spot, French and Indians, and about twenty wounded, among the first of whom was the Rev. Father Angleran." The loss of the Senecas, as reported to him by a deserter, was forty-five killed, and over sixty "very severely wounded." The succeeding ten days were spent "at the four Seneca villages," which, he says, "must exceed 14 to 15 thousand souls," in destroying corn, "which was in such great abundance that the loss, including old corn which was in cache, which we burnt, and that which was standing, was computed according to the estimate afterwards made, at 400 thousand minots.13 There was a vast quantity of hogs which were killed." 14 He did not pursue the enemy any further, but, regretting that sickness, the extreme fatigue, and the uneasiness of the savages, who began to disband, prevented his visiting other villages, he repaired to Niagara, and constructed a fort, in the angle of the lake, on the Seneca side of the river. He left a hundred men under the command of Sieur de Troyes to garrison it, provisioned it for eight months, and returned with his army. This fort was so closely besieged by the Iroquois that nearly all the garrison perished by hunger.
The Iroquois were alarmed at this bold incursion into the country of the strongest nation of their league, and applied to Governor Dongan of New York for protection, which was promised them. He advised them not to make peace with the French, and promised them supplies of arms and ammunition. But de Nonville called a meeting of the chiefs of the Five Nations, at Montreal, for the purpose of arranging terms of peace, and they decided to send representatives for that purpose.
In this year, 1687, the English colonists of New York resolved to avail themselves of the peace which then existed between the English and French, to attempt a participation in the fur trade of the upper lakes. They induced the Iroquois to liberate a number of Wyandot or Huron captives to guide them through the lakes and open a trade with their people, who were then living at Michilimackinac. The party, which was led by Major McGregory, was intercepted by a large body of French, their whole party captured, and their goods distributed gratuitously among the Indians. The lake Indians, who had favored the project, by reason of the high price and scarcity of goods, now became anxious to disabuse the French of the suspicions their actions had engendered, and to prove their fidelity to them. To this end Adario, a celebrated chief of the Wyandots, shrewd and wily in his plans, and firm and courageous in their execution, led a party of one hundred men against the Iroquois. Stopping at Fort Cadaraqui for intelligence which might guide him, the commandant informed him of the impending peace negotiations, that the Iroquois ambassadors were expected at Montreal in a few days, and advised him to return. But perceiving that if this peace was consummated, it would leave the Iroquois free to push their war against his nation, Adario resolved to prevent it, and waylaid, surprised and killed or captured the Iroquois embassy, with the forty young warriors who guarded them. By dissembling he fully impressed his captives with the belief that the treachery, of which he was made the unwitting instrument, was instigated by de Nonville. With well-simulated indignation he looked steadfastly on the prisoners, among whom was Dekanefora, the head chief of the Onondagas, and said: "Go, my brothers, I untie your bonds, and send you home again, although our nations be at war. The French Governor has made me commit so black an action, that I shall never be easy after it, until the Five Nations have taken full revenge." He then dismissed them, with presents of arms, powder and balls, keeping but a single man, an adopted Shawnee, to supply the place of the only man he had lost in the engagement. 15
The Iroquois were deeply incensed and burned to revenge the base treachery. They refused to listen to a message sent by de Nonville disclaiming any participation in the act of perfidy. On the 26th of July, 1688, twelve hundred Iroquois warriors landed, with stealth and deadly purpose of enraged tigers, on the upper end of the island of Montreal, and pursued their murderous work without anything to impede them. They burned houses, sacked plantations and massacred men, women and children of the French inhabitants, and retired with twenty-six prisoners, most of whom were burnt alive. In October following they visited the lower part of the island with as deadly a scourge as they had previously done the upper.
These incursions were incalculably disastrous to the French interests in Canada, and reduced the colonists to the most abject despondency. Their minds were filled with fear of foreboding ills. They burned the two barks they had on Cadaraqui (Ontario,) Lake and abandoned the fort at Cadaraqui. They designed to blow up the fort, and lighted a match for that purpose; but in their fright and haste they did not wait to see that it took effect. The Iroquois, hearing of the destruction of the fort, took possession of it. The match the French had lighted went out without igniting the train. They found twenty-eight barrels of powder, besides various other stores.
These disasters to the French soon spread among their Indian allies, already disgusted with la Barre's miserable failure, and whose confidence the questionable success of de Nonville had not restored. The French influence over them was greatly lessened, while their dread of the Iroquois was immeasurably increased. Many sought an alliance with the English, with whom this misfortune to the French enabled them to open a trade; and they would have murdered the whole French colony to placate the Iroquois, "and would have certainly have done it," says Colden, "had not the Sieur Perot, with wonderful sagacity and eminent hazard to his own person, diverted them."
"The French colony was in a most pitiable condition, for while the larger proportion of the men had been engaged in the expedition against the Senecas, in trading with the western Indians, and in making new discoveries and settlements, tillage had been neglected. Several thousand of inhabitants had been killed. The continual incursions of small parties of the Iroquois made it hazardous to go outside the forts; they were liable at any moment to sacrifice their scalps to a lurking savage, to have the torch applied to their cabins, and the tomahawk fall upon the defenseless heads of their wives and children. Their crops were sown in constant fear, and were often destroyed before they could be gathered. To add to the horrors of their situation, famine was rapidly decimating those who had escaped the hatchet of the revengeful Iroquois, and threatened to put a miserable end to their existence.
But this deplorable condition was destined to a favorable and most unexpected change, toward which the bitter animosities and divided counsels of the English colonies, growing out of the revolution in England at this time, which resulted in the accession of the Prince of Orange to the throne, contributed in no small measure. The Count de Frontenac, whose previous management of the colony had been eminently wise and satisfactory, was again appointed Governor, May 21, 1689, and though he had arrived at an age when most men prefer a retired life to the onerous burdens of State, he entered upon his duties with such energy and manifest wisdom as to revive the flagging spirits of the colonists, notwithstanding the impending danger of a war with the English colonies, which soon ensued. He arrived on the second of October, 1689, and at once commenced an effort to negotiate a peace with the Iroquois, having learned by sad experience that they could not hope to gain by the continuance of war with them. He was the more anxious to effect a peace with them, as they then had a war on their hands with the English, which was declared that year. Failing in this he hoped to terrify them into neutrality, and for this purpose, and to lessen the influence of the English with them, he fitted out three expeditions that winter, one against New York, another against Connecticut, and a third against New England. It was a hazardous undertaking at that season of the year, but the desperate condition of the French colonists demanded heroic treatment.
The first expedition was directed against Schenectady, which was sacked and burned, on the night of February 9, 1690, only two houses being spared, that of Major Sander, (Coudre,) from whom the French had received good treatment on a former occasion, and that of a widow, with six children, to which M. de Montigny, one of the leaders of the expedition, was carried when wounded. They spared the lives of some fifty to sixty old men, women and children, who escaped the first fury of the attack, and some twenty Mohawks, "in order to show them that it was English and not they against whom the grudge was entertained." The loss on this occasion in houses, cattle and grain, exceeded 400,000 livres.16 "There were upwards of eighty well built and well furnished houses in the town." They returned with thirty prisoners, loaded with plunder, and with fifty good horses, only sixteen of which reached Montreal, the rest having been killed on the road for food. They lost one Indian and one Frenchman in the attack on the town, and nineteen on the return march. 17
This disaster at Schenectady so disheartened the people of Albany, that they resolved to abandon the place and retire to New York. Many were packing up for that purpose, when a delegation of Mohawks, who had come to condole with them on the loss, on hearing of their design, reproached them and urged them to a courageous defense of their homes. This passage in our colonial history is filled with humiliating reflections, when we contrast the supineness of the English colonists, arising from the bitter dissentions incident to the governmental changes which the recent revolution wrought, with the magnificent energies exerted by the French colonists under the energizing influence of the sagacious Frontenac. Our admiration is not less challenged by the heroic conduct of the Iroquois, who, notwithstanding French intrigues and Jesuitical influence, combined with an exasperating English apathy, which appeared willing to sacrifice these savage, but noble allies, kept firmly to their early allegiance.
Count de Frontenac, encouraged by the answer made to his former message, renewed his efforts to bring about peace with the Iroquois; but they compelled his ambassadors to run the gauntlet and then delivered them over as prisoners to the English. Foiled in this he endeavored to prevent the peace with the Iroquois were on the point of making with the Utawawas and Quatoghies. The Iroquois continued to harass the French in small bodies and kept them in constant alarm.
In the summer of 1691, New York and New England concerted an attack by a combined land and naval force. The former, under command of Major Peter Schuyler, was directed against Montreal; and the latter, consisting of thirty sail, under command of Sir William Phips, against Quebec. Both failed of the ultimate object for which they set out; though Schuyler inflicted a heavy loss upon the enemy, killing three hundred, which exceeded his entire command,18 having seventeen killed and eleven wounded of his own forces. But finding the enemy vastly more numerous than he expected he was obliged to retire. The naval attack was illy directed and proved an ignoble failure. It was likewise attended with considerable loss, both in men and material, without inflicting much damage on the enemy, who, with ordinary promptness and prudence, might have been routed. The Iroquois, however, continued their stealthy raids, which were more dreaded and really more destructive to the French interests than the more imposing efforts of the English allies. The French were prevented from tilling the ground, or of reaping the fruit of what they had sown or planted, and a famine ensued, "the poor inhabitants," says Colden, being "forced to feed the soldiers gratis, while their own children wanted bread." The French fur trade was also stopped by the Iroquois, who took possession of the passes between them and their allies, the western Indians, and intercepted the traders and others passing over those routes.
Count de Frontenac was pierced to the heart by his inability to revenge these terrible incursions of the Five Nations. His desperation drove him to the commission of an act which must have been as revolting to him in his normal condition as it was barbarous. He condemned two Iroquois prisoners to be burnt publicly, and would not be dissuaded from executing the sentence. One of them, however, killed himself with a knife which was thrown into his prison by "some charitable person." The Hon. Cadwallader Colden thus describes the execution of the other, who was taken to the place designated, by the Christian Indians of Loretto, "to which he walked, seemingly with as much indifference as ever martyr did to the stake:"---
"While they were torturing him, he continued singing that he was a warrior brave and without fear; that the most cruel death could not shake his courage; that the most cruel torment should not draw an indecent expression from him; that his comrade was a coward, a scandal to the Five Nations, who had killed himself for fear of pain; that he had the comfort to reflect that he had made many Frenchmen suffer as he did now. He fully verified his words, for the most violent torment could not force the least complaint from him, though his executioners tried their utmost skill to do so. They first broiled his feet between two red hot stones, then they put his fingers into red hot pipes, and though he had his arms at liberty, he would not pull his fingers out; they cut his joints, and taking hold of the sinews, twisted them round small bars of iron. All this while he kept singing and recounting his own brave actions against the French. At last they flayed his scalp from his skull, and poured scalding hot sand upon it, at which time the Intendant's Lady obtained leave of the Governor to have the coup de grace given."
June 6, 1692, the Iroquois entered into a formal treaty of alliance and friendship with Major Richard Ingoldesby, who assumed the Gubernatorial office of New York on the death of Colonel Henry Sloughter, July 23, 1691. The speech of Cheda, an Oneida Sachem, on that occasion is a rare piece of pathetic eloquence.
The French colonists, having been obliged to remain so long upon the defensive, were becoming despondent, so that Count de Frontenac felt it imperative to undertake some bold enterprise to restore confidence. He therefore planned an expedition against the Mohawks, and as it was necessary to surprise them, it was undertaken in the winter, when it was least expected. January 15, 1693, a force of six hundred to seven hundred French and Indians under command of three captains of the regulars, started with snow-shoes from la Prairie de Magdaleine, and after a long and perilous march through the forests, surprised and captured three of the Mohawk's castles, in only the latter and largest of which did they meet with any resistance. They returned with about three hundred prisoners, and though pursued by a party of Albany militia and Mohawks to the number of about five hundred, hastily gathered and commanded by Major Peter Schuyler, and reduced to such extremity for want of food that they eat their shoes, they escaped with the loss of eighty men killed and thirty-three wounded. This successful raid greatly alarmed the English settlers and dispirited the Iroquois, who saw that surprises could be made by their enemies as well as themselves. The latter were now more inclined to listen to the French proposals of peace, and having been the greater sufferers from the war, were quite anxious that it should cease.
The years 1693-4 were spent in efforts to negotiate a peace between the French and the Iroquois, which the English endeavored to prevent. The three intermediate nations, influenced by the Jesuits priests, were more inclined thereto than the Senecas and Mohawks. The Senecas held the French in abhorrence, and were not so influenced by the Jesuits; while the Mohawks were the near neighbors of the English and much influenced by them in favor of continuing the war, although they had been the greatest sufferers from it. The reason for listening to the French proposals of peace is thus indicated in the speech of Sadakanahtie, an Onondaga sachem, made in the council convened at Albany May 4, 1694, by Colonel Fletcher:---
"The only reason to be plain with you," continued he, "of our sending to make peace with the French, is the low condition to which we are reduced, while none of our neighbors send us the least assistance, so that the whole burden of the war lies on us alone. Our brethren of New England, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, of their own account, thrust their arms into our chain; but since the war began we have received no assistance from them. We alone cannot continue the war against the French, by reason of the recruits they daily receive from the other side of the great lake.
"Brother Cayenguirago,19 speak from your heart, are you resolved to prosecute the war vigorously against the French, and are your neighbors of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New England resolved to assist us? If it be so, we assure you, notwithstanding any treaty hitherto entered into, we will prosecute the war as hotly as ever. But if our neighbors will not assist, we must make peace, and we submit it to your consideration by giving this great belt fifteen deep." 20
The same speaker, in reviewing the speech just alluded to, in the council held at Albany in August of that year, and composed of representatives, in addition to New York, from New Jersey, Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut, added:---
"Our brother Cayenguirago's arms and ours are stiff and tired of holding fast the chain, [which bound them in mutual interests,] whilst our neighbors sit and smoke at their ease. The fat is melted from our flesh, and fallen on our neighbor's who grow fat, while we grow lean; they flourish while we decay.
"This chain made us the envy of the French. And if all had held it as fast as Cayenguirago, it would have been a terror also. If we would all heartily join and take the hatchet in our hand, our common enemy would soon be destroyed, and we should forever after live in peace and ease. Do you but your parts, and thunder itself cannot break our chain."
Colonel Fletcher, being unable to give any assurance of a vigorous assistance, consented to their making a peace for themselves, provided they kept faithful in their chain with the English. They, however, would not accept of any peace which did not include their English allies; and, moreover, the French terms were inadmissible. They required that the English cease to trade with the Canadian Indians, or the other Indian allies of the French; that the French be permitted to rebuild and garrison the fort at Cadaraqui; and that their Indian allies should be included in the peace. To these terms the Iroquois would not accede, and the negotiations ceased.
Governor de Frontenac now resolved to coerce them to submission, and to that end made arrangements to attack the Mohawks with the whole force of Canada. But learning that the Mohawks had been advised of his intention by an escaped prisoner, and the preparations that had been made to repel him, he changed his plan, and instead sent three hundred men to the neck of the land between lakes Erie and Cadaraqui, the usual hunting place of the Iroquois, hoping to surprise them while carelessly hunting, and at the same time to observe the condition of Fort Cadaraqui, which was found in better condition than was expected. In the summer of 1695, he sent a strong force to repair and garrison the fort, which then took his name. This fort was of great advantage to the French from its proximity to the beaver hunting grounds of the Iroquois, thus enabling the garrison to make incursions on them when so engaged. It was also important to the French trade with the western Indians, as a place of deposit for supplies; and not less so as a place of refuge in time of war with the Iroquois. The French also succeeded in put a stop to the peace negotiations then progressing between the Iroquois and Dionondadies; but in order to accomplish that end perpetrated an act of cruelty which, for fiendishness, parallels anything in the annals of Indian horrors. But notwithstanding the French opposition a treaty was concluded soon after covertly.
The French Governor now began preparations on a large scale to make the Iroquois feel his resentment of their refusing his terms of peace. He assembled all the regular troops and militia of the colony, together with the Indians adjacent to the French settlements and all the western Indians he could muster, to strike the Onondagas a deadly blow and exterminate them, ordering his troops to show no quarter. He embarked from the south end of the Island of Montreal, July 4, 1696, equipped with cannon, mortars, and every destructive military device known to the times. The Onondagas, informed by an escaped Seneca prisoner of the host of the enemy and the destructive engines they used, burned their castle and bark cabins, and fled with their families to the forests, leaving nothing but their corn for this formidable army to expend its fury on. When Frontenac's army reached the Onondaga village it was deserted by all save one, an Indian sachem, about a hundred years old, who would not retire with the rest, but chose this time to end his days. Him they tortured to death; but he bore it with remarkable fortitude. Having destroyed the Onondaga's corn, the Chevalier de Vaudreuil was sent with a detachment of six or seven hundred men to destroy that of the Oneidas, which was done without resistance. The Jesuit Milet had lived for the most part with the Oneidas and had infused into them the most favorable sentiments towards the French, to whose terms of peace they had been most inclined to listen. Thirty-five of them staid in their castle to make the French welcome; but the only favor they obtained was to be made prisoners and carried to Montreal.
On the return of the French the Onondagas followed close upon their heels and found opportunities to revenge themselves in some measure by cutting off every canoe which happened to become detached from the main body.
The only loss in men sustained by the Onondagas, in this by far the most formidable invasion of the Iroquois country, was the old sachem, who became a voluntary sacrifice to his country's honor. It was, however, a great drain upon the feeble resources of the French colony. In it had embarked the great body of agriculturists, and at a season of the year when their labors were required to cultivate and secure the crops. A famine ensued, producing great suffering, aggravated by repeated inroads of small bodies of the Iroquois, who carried away many captives and much property, and kept the settlements in constant alarm till the treaty of Ryswick, concluded September 12, 1697. A party of French undertook an expedition against the settlements near Albany in the winter of 1696, but were met and routed by a party of Mohawk and Scahkock Indians. The commander and two others saved themselves by running to Albany; the rest were either killed or perished in the woods, so that not one got back to Canada.
The treaty of Ryswick, while it established peace between the English and French, left unsettled a question with regard to the Iroquois. The French, while they insisted on including their own Indian allies in the terms, were unwilling to include the Iroquois, and made preparations to attack the latter with the whole force of Canada; but the English as strenuously insisted on extending the terms of the treaty to their allies, and Earl Belmont notified Count de Frontenac that he would resist an attack on the Iroquois with the whole force of his Government if necessary. This put an end to French threats, and the question of sovereignty over that nation was relegated to commissioners to be appointed pursuant to the treaty. But the question arose in another form, with regard to the exchange of prisoners. The French insisted on negotiating with the Iroquois; but the English refused to yield, even by implication, the right of sovereignty which they claimed, and demanded that the exchange be made through them. The Iroquois refused to negotiate independently of the English, and thus the French were obliged to yield the point.21
Still the old rivalries between the French and English continued. The former, through the great influence of the Jesuit priests residing with the Iroquois, had an advantage which the English did not possess. Large numbers of the Iroquois were induced to locate in Canada, where they were clothed and maintained by the French, instructed in the Roman Catholic faith, and taught to regard the English as their enemies and the French as their best friends. So great had been this exodus, that, in 1700, Robert Livingston, the English Secretary of Indian Affairs, reported that "more than two-thirds of them had removed." The success of this Jesuitic influence during the three years succeeding the treaty of Ryswick , must have been immense; for under date of August 13, 1698, the Earl of Belmont thus wrote to Count de Frontenac:---
"To show you how little our Five Nations of Indians regard your Jesuits and other missionaries, they have entreated me repeatedly to expel these gentlemen from among them, representing to me at the same time that they were overwhelmed and tormented by them against their will, and that they would wish to have some of our Protestant ministers among them, instead of your missionaries, in order to instruct them in the Christian religion * * * . And you will do well to forbid your missionaries interfering any more with them, unless they desire to undergo the punishment provided by the laws of England, which, assuredly, I will cause to be executed every time they fall into our hands, the Indians having promised me to bring them as prisoners before me."
The English became thoroughly alarmed at this alienation and adopted the most active measures to counteract it. For this purpose repeated councils were held with the Iroquois, their wants and grievances ascertained, and steps taken so supply the former and redress the latter. The fullest assurances were given that the English, who had always been their friends, would protect them; they were admonished that the French had always sought to destroy them, and that the Jesuit priests had filled their ears with false stories only to cheat them. They promised to build forts for their protection, supply them with arms, ammunition, clothing and necessary utensils, and send Protestant ministers to instruct them.
At one of these councils held August 11, 1700, at which each of the Five Nations was represented, they promised that "they would discredit the idle tales of the French, continue firm to the Crown of England, if it will protect them from its enemies, and were thankful for the promise of Protestant ministers," and that, though the French had promised them Jesuit priests, they were determined to "stick to the religion of the King." At a succeeding conference held August 26, 1700, the Earl of Belmont advised them to seize all Jesuits and send them to Albany, promising to pay "100 pieces of Eight for every Jesuit." He added, "We have a law in the Province for the seizing and securing of all Popish Priests and Jesuits and I would very gladly put that law into execution against those disturbers of mankind." The Indians promised compliance with this advice, and to not allow them in their country.
The proposition to send them Protestant ministers provoked the following note-worthy response from Sadakanahtie, whom we have previously quoted:-
"God hath been pleased to create us, and the sun hath shined long upon us. We have lived many years in peace and union together, and we hope, by your instructions, to be taught to be good Christians and to die in the Christian faith. Let us, therefore, go hand in hand and support each other. We were here before you, and were a strong and numerous people, when you were but young and striplings, yet, we were kind and cherished you, and, therefore, when we propose any thing to you, if you cannot agree to do it, let us take counsel together that matters may be carried on smoothly, and that what we say may not be taken amiss. When we are to be instructed in the Protestant religion, pray let not such severity be used as the Jesuits do in Canada, who whip their proselytes with an iron chain, cut off the warrior's hair, put them in prison, and when they commit any heinous sin the priest takes his opportunity when they are asleep and beats them severely. Now as a token of our willingness to be instructed in the Protestant religion, we give nine beaver skins."
Having thus happily establish peace and good will, it was sought to give it permanency and prevent future alienation; and to that end the Colonial Assembly of New York, in 1700, enacted a stringent law imposing the penalty of hanging upon every Jesuit who voluntarily came into the Province. The English were most assiduous in their efforts to keep bright the chain of friendship with their Indian allies, for on that depended the success of their trade with them and the security of their frontier settlements. Liberal presents were distributed to the chiefs, five of whom were taken to England to give them an idea of the splendor and power of the government that protected them. But these attentions did not prevent the conclusion of a peace with the French in September, 1700, and its ratification August 4, 1701;22 notwithstanding they had previously, July 19, 1701, conveyed to Great Britain, through Lieut. Governor Naufair, their hunting grounds in which they had subdued the old inhabitants, lying "a thousand miles west of Niagara, all around the lakes," in the following words:---"We do give up and tender all land where the Bevor Hunting is which we won in war eighty years agoe, to Coraghkoe, our Great King, and pray that he may be our Protector and Defender there."
The fulfillment of the promise to build forts in the country of the Iroquois was long deferred; thought Col. Romer was sent to explore the Onondaga country, which he did without finding a suitable location for a fort. October 11, 1711, Governor Robert Hunter contracted for the construction of two forts, one in the Mohawks' and one in the Onondaga country; each to be one hundred and fifty feet square, the curtains to be made of logs a foot square, laid one upon another and pinned together, to the height of twelve feet, with a block-house at each corner twenty-four feet square, two stories high, with double loop holes; and a chapel twenty-four feet square in the center. They were to be finished by July 1, 1713.23
Peace, such as had not fallen upon the wilderness of the New World since the Europeans added their conflicting interests to the field of savage contests, prevailed at the opening of the eighteenth century; for not only had the Europeans and their allies ceased to war, but the Indians themselves had buried the hatchet. It was of short duration, however; for with the succession of Anne to the English throne, on the death of King William in March, 1702, the war of the Spanish succession, or Queen Anne's war, was inaugurated, and continued till the treaty of Utrecht, April 11, 1713. Although New England was ravaged with ruthless hand, New York scarcely knew its existence; notwithstanding the Province was put in a condition for defense.
The success of the French in establishing themselves among the northern and western Indians, annoyed the English of New York, who saw in embroiling the peaceful tribes in war the only method of arresting more formidable alliances. By special efforts the Iroquois and other Indian tribes in the eastern part of the State were induced to join an expedition against Canada under General Nicholson, who sailed from Boston with seven veteran regiments in 1710, expecting to be joined under the walls of Quebec by the colonial forces of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, with their Indian allies. But the plan was frustrated by disasters to the fleet, which became enveloped in a fog, lost eight of the vessels of which it was composed, and eight hundred and eighty-four men drowned. 24
Not until after the treaty of Utrecht did the settlements in New York make much progress, owing to the massacres that in King William's war were committed by the French and their Indian allies on the outskirts of the settlements. At its conclusion, or soon after, settlements in the Mohawk country were begun. By that treaty the French engaged not to attack the Five Nations, who were acknowledged to be subjects of Great Britain, and a free trade with them was guaranteed to both England and France.
The Iroquois, being thus debarred from continuing their predatory raids on the northern and western Indians, extended their conquests in the south, and chastised their old enemies, the Flatheads, living in Carolina. While on this expedition they adopted into their confederacy the Tuscaroras, of North Carolina, one of the most powerful Indian nations of the south, who, in resisting the encroachments of the proprietaries of Carolina, who assigned their lands to the German Palatines, were almost destroyed in their fort on the River Taw, March 26, 1713, having lost eight hundred in prisoners, who were sold as slaves to the allies of the English. They became the sixth nation of the Iroquois confederacy, which was afterwards denominated by the English the Six Nations. They were assigned territory west of and in close proximity to the Oneidas. 25
From 1744 to 1748 the French and English wee again at war, which was concluded by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, April 30, 1748, which virtually renewed the treaty of Utrecht. The contest had been for the possession of the Mississippi Valley, which the English claimed as an extension of their coast discoveries and settlements, and the French by right of occupancy, as their forts extended from Canada to Louisiana, and formed "a bow of which the English colonies were the string." At this time the English colonists numbered over a million, while the French had only about sixty thousand. This war, while it was without positive results to the principal contestants, was the turning point in the supremacy of the Iroquois, as well as in the ardor of their attachment to the English.26 The Iroquois could not be induced to engage in the strife until 1746, when the French and their allies became the aggressors; and they were chagrined at its sudden termination, as their losses were unavenged and they had compromitted themselves with their old enemies, the allies of the French, who, owing to French assiduity, had become numerous and dangerous. The war reopened the old controversy of Iroquois supremacy in a more aggravated form. Five nations of the confederacy made peace with the French and subscribed their tokens to the declaration "that they had not ceded to any one their lands" and "were not subjects of England." 27
The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was very imperfect, as it left unsettled many important questions which must sooner or later demand adjustment. The contest was renewed in 1755. The French, immediately after the cessation of hostilities, had entered upon the vigorous prosecution of a policy inaugurated by them as early as 1731, of connecting St. Laurence with the Gulf of Mexico by a chain of forts, and by the end of 1753, had a connected line of forts from Montreal to French Creek in Pennsylvania. The completion of the fort on French Creek provoked the resentment of Virginia, and a force was sent out by that colony under Major George Washington, with instructions "to make prisoners, kill or destroy all who interrupted the English settlements" in the invaded territory. The success was only temporary, for Washington was soon compelled to capitulate within the feeble breastworks of Fort Necessity.
The early and sweeping successes of the French, allied to their interests the western Indians generally, and caused the Iroquois, now about equally divided in their numerical representation in New York and Canada, to falter in their fealty to the English Crown. The divisions in the ranks of the Iroquois increased as the war progressed, with results altogether favoring French interests. In April, 1757, the Senecas, Onondagas and Cayugas threw off the disguise of active friendship and made peace with Canada, saying, "our promise to remain firm to the English was given with the understanding that the war should be prosecuted vigorously." Failing to secure their aid Johnson determined to make the best possible use of the neutrality. "As you have declared yourselves neutrals," he said, "I shall expect you to act as neutrals and not permit either the French or their Indians to pass through your settlements to make war upon the English, and that you do not directly or indirectly give our enemies or their Indians information to our prejudice. Should you violate these rules of behavior, we shall look upon the covenant chain as absolutely broken between us." This they promised to observe and they remained neutral till the summer of 1762, when the Senecas, to the number of one thousand, lent their aid to the Pontiac conspiracy, continuing their hostility till April, 1764, when, to avoid imminent destruction, they sued for peace.
The English colonies were wholly unprepared for the vigorous onslaught with which the French followed the overt act of Virginia; and being divided in their councils---lacking centralization---it required some time to collect themselves and interpose an effectual resistance.28 Among the earliest measures concerted were four expeditions planned by General Edward Bullock, the first to effect the complete reduction of Nova Scotia, the second to recover the Ohio Valley, the third to expel the French from Fort Niagara and form a junction with the expedition to the Ohio, and the fourth to capture Crown Point. The latter was intrusted to Colonel Johnson, who was to have the militia of New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut and the warriors of the Six Nations. He convened the latter in council at Mount Johnson on the 21st of June, 1754, hoping to induce them to join the expedition; but with all the art he was master of he could obtain little else than excuses. Hendrik and his Mohawks, were here and there a warrior from the other nations, to the number of fifty, left Albany with him on the 8th of August. At the "carrying place" some two hundred warriors joined him, giving him, with the militia, a force of about thirty-five hundred men. The French, marching in about equal force to Oswego, were called back and sent, under Baron Dieskau, to the defense of Crown Point. Leaving the large portion of his forces at that fort, Dieskau pushed on to attack Fort Edward, cut off Johnson's retreat, and annihilate his army. Misled by his guides, he found himself on the road to Lake George and only four miles distant from Johnson's encampment at Ticonderoga. Leaving his position, Johnson detached one thousand men and two hundred Indians to bring on an engagement. The opposing forces met on the 8th of September. Finding the French too powerful the English fell back to Ticonderoga; the French pursued and resumed the battle under the walls of Johnson's position. After a severe engagement of four hours the French retreated. The losses on both sides were heavy, that of the English being one hundred and fifty-eight killed, including King Hendrik and thirty-eight of his warriors, ninety-two wounded and sixty-two missing; while that of the French was between three and four hundred. Johnson was wounded slightly, and Dieskau, mortally. The French retreat was unmolested; Crown Point was not reduced. 29
For the most part the remainder of the war was a prolonged and sanguinary contest with the savage allies of the French, which brought the war to the door of the colonists and gave them ample work to defend their homes. The border settlements of Pennsylvania were especially afflicted by this desolating scourge. In 1756, forts were built at Onawaroghhare,30 (Oneida castle, in the town of Vernon,) and Onondaga, and a block house at Canaseraga. The forts were similar in their construction. That at Oneida was one hundred and twenty feet square and built of sixteen feet logs, set four feet in the ground. It had two block houses at opposite corners, each twenty-four feet square below, and the upper part projected so as to enable its occupants to fire down upon an enemy who might attempt to fire it. It was built by Capt. Marcus Perry. The block-house at Canaseraga was similar to those in the angles of the fort at Oneida. The Tuscaroras had previously built a fort at Canaseraga, and Colonel Johnson instructed Jacob Vroman, who was sent to build the block-house, to make such alterations in it as the sachems might desire. At a council held at Onondaga June 19, 1750, permission was given Colonel Johnson to build a fort or magazine at Oswego Falls, for the storage of provisions, but he was required to destroy it or give it up as soon as the difference between the French and English was settled. At that council an Onondaga sachem promised him the assistance of the Oneidas and Tuscaroras in building a road from the German Flats to Canaghsaragy, and of the Onondagas in building one from thence to Oswego. 31
The war, which for many years threatened disaster to the English, finally resulted in their favor, and was concluded between the English and French, by the treaty of Paris in 1763, leaving England in possession of Canada and the territory west of the Mississippi. It was continued, however, with unabated fury two years longer by the Indians under Pontiac, king of the Ottawas, who in the summer of 1762, formed a league to drive the English from the country.
Following the cessation of hostilities, territorial disputes arose between the various Indian tribes and the colonies, to adjust which Colonel Johnson in 1765, proposed the established of a line, which should be recognized alike by the Indians and the English as a boundary beyond which neither should pass. To this the Indians assented; but its execution was delayed till the irritation of the Indians under the aggressions of European immigration, became threatening and alarming. The Senecas, smarting under these aggressions and the humiliating treaty they had been forced to make, said by a large belt to the Lenapes and Shawanoes, in 1763: "Brethren, these lands are yours as well as ours; God gave them to us to live upon, and before the white people shall have them for nothing, we will sprinkle the leaves with blood, or die, every man in the attempt." Finding that the matter could not longer be safely delayed, a conference was called at Fort Stanwix, and the treaty by which the boundary line was established was concluded November 5, 1768. This line, which was long known as the "Property Line," is indicated on a map accompanying the treaty.32 This treaty was ratified by Sir William Johnson in July, 1770.
But this action did not long suffice to preserve inviolate the Indian territory. The influx of new settlers and the avarice of traders led to encroachments which soon provoked complaints. At a congress of the Six Nations at Johnson Hall, in June and July, 1774, a Seneca orator complained that the whites and traders encroached upon their territory, followed their people to their hunting grounds with goods and liquor, "when." He says, "they not only impose on us at pleasure, but by the means of carrying these articles to our scattered people, obstruct our endeavors to collect them." "We are sorry," he added, "to observe to you that your people are as ungovernable, or rather more so, than ours."
At this congress the Six Nations acceded to a proposition made at the request of the Montauk Indians to locate the latter on their lands, and agreed to settle them at Conawaroghere, which Lieutenant Johnson speaks of, Nov. 30, 1762, as being "a new village of the Oneidas." The Montauk Indians were in a distressed condition, being surrounded by the white people of Long Island, by whom "they were in a fair way of being dispossessed of all their lands."
The continued and alarming encroachments on the Indian domain prepared the way for hostility which characterized the action not only of the Iroquois, but also the western Indians, against the colonists during the war of the Revolution, which soon followed. The Indians had adopted and settled and well-understood policy, involving resistance to further encroachments; and the Iroquois, who had hitherto preserved a uniform friendship towards the colonists, now, with the exception of the Oneidas, Tuscaroras and possibly a few others, opposed them. Eighteen hundred 33 of their warriors allied themselves with the British, and only two hundred and twenty, with the colonists. The atrocities of the former, under the leadership of the redoubtable Brant, who succeeded King Hendrik as chief of the Mohawks, will long be remembered by both New York and Pennsylvania.
The Six Nations at first resolved in council at Onondaga to remain neutral, and were disposed to adhere to that determination; but while the efforts of the colonists had been to induce that conclusion, those of the mother country had been directed to securing them as their active allies. Joseph Brant, (Thayendanegea,) then a prominent and rising man in the Confederacy, from his close affiliation with the Johnson family, was warmly attached to the interests of the mother country. He was sent to England, where he was feasted and toasted as his predecessors had been, and returning in the winter of 1776, he at once entered upon the work of organizing a force of Iroquois. In the spring of 1777 he appeared at Oquaga (Windsor, Broome County,) with a retinue of warriors; and in June he ascended the Susquehanna to Unadilla where he demanded food for his warriors, who drove off a large number of cattle, sheep and swine, and so impressed the inhabitants of the exposed settlements of that locality with their danger, that they retired to Cherry Valley. Some families in the vicinity fled to German Flats, and others to Kingston and Newburgh on the Hudson.
For the purpose of obtaining positive information of the intention of the Indians, General Herkimer was instructed to effect an interview with Brant at Unadilla, which he did, and learned from the latter "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;" and finally, that they had "made war on the white people when they were all united, and as they were now divided the Indians wee not frightened." A few days after this Brant withdrew his warriors from the Susquehanna and joined Sir John Johnson and Colonel John Butler, who had collected a body of Tories and refugees at Oswego, preparatory to a descent upon the Mohawk and Schoharie settlements. In August, 1777, this motley force, united to that of St. Leger, co-operating with Burgoyne, who recaptured Crown Point and Ticonderoga, which had been reduced by the colonists soon after hostilities commenced, attacked Fort Schuyler, to which they laid siege. During this siege the memorable and sanguinary battle of Oriskany was fought, between a portion of these forces and a force of colonists, under General Herkimer, who were marching to the relief of the fort, and in which the heroic Herkimer fell. While this battle was in progress a sally was made from the fort, which was then commanded by Col. Gansevoort, resulting in the seizure of the camp of Sir John Johnson, who, with his Tory allies, were put to disgraceful flight, and the capture of twenty-one wagon loads of spoils, five British standards, the baggage and papers of Sir John, and the clothing of his Indian allies.
After the battle, Brant took occasion to chastise the Oneidas for their neutrality, by destroying their upper and lower castles, wigwams and crops, and driving off their cattle; but the latter retaliated and visited destruction on the castles and plantations of the Mohawks, blotting out forever the seats of power which had once swayed the destinies of a mighty people.
This siege was raised precipitately on the 22nd, owing to a panic created by the appearance in the camp in breathless haste, of Hon Yost Schuyler, a nephew to Gen. Schuyler, who reported that the Americans were approaching in numbers like the forest leaves, and that he himself had barely escaped with his life, in confirmation of which he directed attention to his coat, which bore the marks of several bullets.34 The Indians, who had lost about seventy of their number in the battle of Oriskany, were thoroughly alarmed and fled in great haste to their boats on Oneida Lake, killing on the way thither many of their tory allies, and became, in their terror, wrote St. Leger, "more formidable than the enemy they had to expect."
Following these events was a long list of Indian and tory atrocities on the border settlements of New York and Pennsylvania, including the terrible massacres of Wyoming, Cherry Valley and Minnisink, which determined the action of congress which resulted in the successful expedition of General Sullivan, which was organized in the summer of 1779, to invade the country of the Senecas, which the tories and their allies made their rendezvous, and to put an end to this desolating border warfare. To this end General Sullivan was instructed "to cut off their settlements, destroy their crops, and inflict upon them every other injury which time and circumstances would permit."
Anticipating a blow from this formidable enemy upon the exposed western frontier, the Colonial Government had contemplated an invasion of the Iroquois country in the early part of 1778, previous to the Wyoming massacre. Had this measure been acted upon that calamity would have been avoided, but unfortunately other counsels prevailed and the project was deferred. In October of that year, the public mind having been aroused by that horrible intervening event, strenuous efforts were again made in this direction; but the season of active operations being far advanced, and circumstances rendering delay unavoidable, it was put of till 1779.
General Sullivan's army consisted of three divisions: one from New Jersey, under command of General Maxwell; another from New England, under command of General James Clinton. The New Jersey and New England divisions marched from Elizabeth, N. J., via Easton, thence to Wyoming and up the Susquehanna to Athens. These two divisions, under General Sullivan, left Wyoming July 31, 1779, and moved up the east side of the river. They numbered thirty-five hundred men. In transporting the baggage and stores, one hundred and twenty boats and two thousand horses were employed. The boats were propelled up the stream by soldiers with setting-poles, and were guarded by troops. The provisions for the daily subsistence of the troops were carried by horses, which threaded the narrow path in single file, and formed a line about six miles in length. The Indians in considerable numbers had collected at Athens on the arrival of the army there, but awed and dismayed by its formidable appearance, they yielded their stronghold with only a few inconsiderable skirmishes. On the 22nd of August, a few days after the arrival of Sullivan's forces at Athens, they were augmented by those under Clinton, to the number of fifteen hundred, making a combined force of five thousand, fully armed and equipped and supplied with cannon.
Clinton collected his forces at Canajoharie. He endeavored to induce the Oneidas and Tuscaroras to join the expedition; and his efforts would doubtless have proved successful, as he at first supposed they were, but for an address, written in the Iroquois language, and sent them by General Haldimand, then Governor of Canada, which discouraged all but a few of the Oneidas from sharing in it. Bateaux to the number of two hundred and twenty, which had been constructed the previous winter and spring at Schenectady, were taken up the Mohawk to the place of rendezvous, and from thence transported by land to Otsego Lake, a distance of twenty miles. Each bateau was of such size that in its transit from the river to the lake, four strong horses were required to draw it, and, when placed in the water, was capable of holding ten to twelve soldiers.
About the first of July, Clinton proceeded with his troops to the southern extremity of the lake, and there awaited orders from General Sullivan. He had previously scourged the Mohawk country and destroyed every village, with a single exception,35 which was spared at the solicitation of homeless frontier settlers, who begged that they might occupy it until they could procure other shelter. The villages of the Oneidas and Tuscaroras wee also spared.
In the meantime he constructed a dam across the outlet, in order to make the passage of the river feasible and rapid. He waited through the whole of July for orders from General Sullivan, who, immediately on his arrival at Athens, dispatched a force of eight hundred men under General Poor, to form a junction with Clinton and with him rejoin the main army in that place; but not until the 9th of August was the dam torn away and the flotilla committed to the bosom of the rives thus suddenly swelled, which afforded a current not only sufficiently deep to float the bateaux, but Oquaga and other places overflowed the river flats, and destroyed many fields of corn belonging to the Indians. The detachment of Sullivan's forces met the troops under Clinton near the mouth of the Choconut, about thirty-five miles from Athens, and returned with them to that place.
What emotions must have swelled the swarthy bosoms of the Iroquois at the sight of this formidable hostile array, which portended to them the destruction of their loved homes and the breaking of the sceptre by which they had so long held the supremacy of this vast territory; and coming too in a dry season, on the bosom of a river, swelled much beyond its ordinary dimensions, can be better imagined than described. So much was it invested in mystery that little resistance was offered to the advancing foe. The Indians fled from their homes and cultivated fields, in many of which, it was remembered by those who participated in the expedition, corn was growing in abundance and great perfection, and cautiously watched their progress from the neighboring hills.
After the junction between Sullivan's and Clinton's forces was effected the whole army proceeded up the Chemung River. 36 In the vicinity of Newtown,37 (Elmira,) where the Indians under their trusty leader, Brant, were concentrated, a battle was fought and its issue hotly contested. The Indians and tories combined, the latter under command of Col. John Butler, a British officer, numbered fifteen hundred. The field of battle was well and maturely selected by the Mohawk warrior, and evinced the sagacity and military tact, with which he is credited. Upon the result of this contest the Indians staked their all. Their success or defeat was to determine whether the invaders should encroach further upon the Iroquois territory, or be hurled back with such disaster as they considered their temerity justly merited. Hence they fought with desperation. Driven from the heights they first occupied, the Indians made another stand one and one-half miles further up the river; but the choice of position could not compensate them for the fearful odds against which they so heroically contended. Their valor only delayed the completion of the bloody contest. At the narrows they made a final and determined stand. Thither the victorious army pursued them, and though they fought with a desperation born of despair they were forced to a precipitate retreat.
Thoroughly defeated and dispirited they did not again invite a general engagement, and Sullivan, with little further hindrance, penetrated to the Genesee country, and marked his pathway with the desolation of fire and sword, destroying in his course, villages, orchards and crops. "The Indians shall see," said Sullivan, "that we have malice enough in our hearts to destroy everything that contributes to their support," and most effectually was that purpose executed.
The intrepid Brant, however, did not lose sight of his powerful enemy from the time his warriors sustained the disastrous defeat to the time when the colonial army retraced its steps, leaving behind it a scene of desolation and woe. He hovered around it and harassed it by making sudden descents upon its advanced guards and small detached parties, but kept a safe distance from the main army. Among those who thus felt the weight of his avenging hand was a party of fifteen or twenty men under command of Lieutenant Boyd of the rifle corps, who were detached on the 13th of September at Hanneyaye "to reconnoiter the next town, seven miles distant." On his return, he was "surrounded by five or six hundred savages," and his retreat cut off; but he defended himself till all save himself and one other were cut off, when he surrendered. His body was afterwards found mutilated in a most cruel manner. The horrid death of this young and gallant officer is thus related by Colonel Stone in his Life of Brant:---
"From the battle-field, Brant conducted Lieutenant Boyd and his fellow captive to Little Beard's Town, where they found Colonel Butler with a detachment of (British) rangers. While under the supervision of Brant, the Lieutenant was well treated, and safe from danger; but the chief being called away in the discharge of his multifarious duties, Boyd was left with Butler, who soon after began to examine him by questions as to the situation, numbers and intention of General Sullivan and his troops. He, of course, declined answering all the improper questions; whereat Butler threatened that if he did not give him full and explicit information he would deliver him up to the tender mercies of the Indians. Relying confidently upon the assurances of the generous Mohawk chieftain, Boyd still refused, and Butler, fulfilling his bloody threat, delivered him over to Little Beard and his clan, the most ferocious of the Seneca tribe. The gallant fellow was immediately put to death by torture, and in the execution there was a refinement of cruelty of which it is not known that a parallel instance occurred during the whole war. Having been denuded, Boyd was tied to a sapling, where the Indians first practiced upon the steadiness of his nerves by hurling their tomahawks apparently at his head, but so as to strike the trunk of the sapling as near to his head as possible without hitting it, groups of Indians in the meantime brandishing their knives and dancing around him with the most frantic demonstrations of joy. His nails were pulled out, his nose cut off and one of his eyes plucked out. His tongue was also cut out and he was stabbed in various places. After amusing themselves sufficiently in this way, a small incision was made in his abdomen and the end of one of his intestines was taken out and fastened to a tree. The victim was then unbound and driven around the tree by brute force until his intestines had been literally drawn from his body and would around the tree. His sufferings were then terminated by striking his head from his body."
Each of the four hostile nations was visited with this terrible retributive justice. Catherinestown, the home of Catherine Montour, whose inhumanity was conspicuously displayed in the finale of the Wyoming massacre,38 Kendaia, Kanadaseagea, the capital of the Senecas, near the head of the lake which bears their name, with its sixty well-built houses and fine orchards; Kanandaigua, with its "twenty-three very elegant houses, mostly framed, and, in general, large," and its fields of corn and orchards of fruit; and Genesee Castle, the capital of the Onondagas, with its "one hundred and twenty-eight houses, mostly large and elegant," were alike destroyed. "Forty Indian towns were burned; one hundred and sixty thousand bushels of corn in the fields and in granaries, were destroyed; a vast number of the finest fruit trees were cut down; gardens covered with vegetables were desolated; the proud Indians, who had scarce felt the touch of the colonists except in kindness, were driven into the forests to starve and be hunted like wild beasts; their altars were overturned, their graves trampled upon by strangers, and their beautiful country laid waste." 39 The terror-stricken Iroquois fled to Niagara, where they perished in large numbers from diseases caused by the absence of accustomed food, and insufficient protection from the severity of the succeeding winter, which was one of unexampled rigor, and was distinguished as the hard winter. 40
"The punishment administered by Sullivan was indeed terrible, but was it just? That the projectors of the expedition, including Washington, so regarded it, is well known; that four of the tribes had broken their pledge of neutrality and carried forward their revenges and prejudices to the account of the innocent, is also known. That they were the victims of the wiles of designing men---had learned their lessons of hatred in the earlier controversies between the contending civilizations---was as strongly urged in their behalf then as it can be now. Had they been without warning, the destruction of their towns would have been without justification: but they had been both warned and entreated. In December, 1777, Congress had addressed to them an earnest and eloquent appeal to preserve their neutrality, and refrain from further hostilities, to sit under the shade of their own trees and by the side of their own streams and smoke their pipes in safety and content; but they would not listen, and grew bold in the supposed impossibility of being reached by the government. Th visitation which they had provoked was a necessity."
But the measure of their atrocities was not yet filled. Their hatred was intensified by their misfortunes. They sullenly turned a deaf ear to the pleadings of Red Jacket to stay the avenging hand. Though crippled, they were yet powerful for predatory warfare. During the winter they re-organized, and, under the leadership of Corn-Planter, fell upon the Oneidas and Tuscaroras; burned their castle, church and village, and drove them upon the white settlements near Schenectady, where they remained till the close of the war, in active alliance with the colonists. The following May they visited the white settlements on a similar mission and penetrated to Saugerties on the Hudson. In the meantime Sir John Johnson, at the head of five hundred Indians and refugees, stole through the woods from Crown Point to Johnson Hall, for the purpose of removing a quantity of treasure which he had buried on the occasion of his first flight to Canada, and to punish some of his old neighbors; in both of which he was successful. The torch was applied to the dwellings of all, except tories, for several miles along the Mohawk, and the defenseless inhabitants murdered. The village of Caughnawaga, which occupied the site of Fonda, was laid in ashes. They killed the cattle, and took away all the horses that could be found, together with many prisoners and much booty.
During the summer, Sir John Johnson, with three companies of refugees, one company of German Yagers, two hundred of Butler's Rangers, and on company of British regulars, accompanied by Brant and Corn-Planter, with five hundred of their warriors, entered the Schoharie valley and spread destruction in their path. Not a house, barn or grain-stack known to belong to a whig was left standing; one hundred thousand bushels of grain was burned in a single day. The houses of the tories were spared, but no sooner had the enemy retired than the exasperated whigs set them on fire, and all shared the common fate. The valley of the Mohawk was next visited. At Caughnawaga the buildings which had been left standing at the previous visitation, as well as those which had been rebuilt, were destroyed, and every dwelling on both sides of the river, as far up as Fort Plain, was burned. Murder and rapine attested alike the hatred of Johnson for his former neighbors and the vengeance of his dusky allies.
But Governor George Clinton, advised of their movements, promptly marched to the relief of the district, and was joined on the way by a strong body of Oneidas, led by their chief, Louis Atyataronghta, who had been commissioned a Colonel by Congress. The opposing forces met near Fort Plain. After a sharp encounter, in which the Oneidas did signal service, the forces under Brant and Johnson broke and fled. Brant, wounded in the heel, sought refuge behind the reserve forces of his friends; and Johnson immediately made hasty retreat to his boats on Onondaga Lake, and escaped to Canada by way of Oswego.
Similar incursions were made in the lower counties of the Hudson in 1781; and in October the Mohawk valley was again visited by Major Ross and Walter N. Butler, at the head of about one thousand troops, consisting of regulars, tories and Indians. The settlement knows as Warren Bush, was attacked so suddenly that the people had no chance to escape. Many were killed and their houses plundered and destroyed. Colonel Willett, with about four hundred men, including Oneidas, and Colonel Rowley, with the Tryon county militia, marched to the defense of the valley. By a preconcerted arrangement, Colonel Willett attacked the enemy in front, while Colonel Rowley gained their rear, and delivered his blow just as Willett's forces were giving way, forcing the enemy to retreat. They were pursued the next morning, but were not encountered till evening. A running fight ensued, in which the notorious Butler was killed. He was observed by Oneida to be watching the fight from behind a tree, and the moment his head was exposed, he fell from a quick shot from the Oneida, who bounded across the stream which separated the contestants, and while Butler cried for quarter finished his work, and tore from his head the reeking trophy which he sought, and bore it as a banner in the onward charge of his comrades, before whom the enemy fled in confusion. Thus ended the incursions on the border settlements of New York. 41
Of the Iroquois, who, says Clark, "hung like the scythe of death in the rear of our settlements," and whose "deeds are inscribed with the scalping knife and tomahawk, in characters of blood," but few ever returned to their native lands; and in the treaty of peace which put an end to this interneciary struggle, no stipulation whatever was made respecting them. Keenly sensible of the deadly scourge which had devastated her border settlements, the New York Legislature evinced a disposition to expel them all from her territory, but, through the influence of Washington and Schuyler, better and more humane counsels prevailed and, though, according to common usage, they, as conquered allies of the British, had forfeited all territorial rights, they still pressed claims, which both the State and Federal Governments generously recognized and respected by subsequent treaties. Ungenerously left without provision by the allies who so strenuously courted their assistance, many of them migrated to the West. Their descendants are now largely located at Forestville, Wisconsin, where they are said to number six thousand, of whom the Cayugas form the larger part. Two thousand of their number can read and write; and they have twenty-nine day and two manual labor schools. They support themselves by agriculture, and display their superiority over the other tribes in the arts of civilization in as marked a degree as they did in the prowess of their savage warfare. They are not dying out. Their numbers rather increase than diminish. 42
Not so unmindful of the Iroquois, however, was the Federal Government. At the conclusion of the Revolutionary war, Oliver Wolcott, Richard Butler and Arthur Lee were appointed commissioners to amicably adjust their rights and claims, and at a council meeting at Fort Stanwix in 1784, reservations were assigned to each of the Six Nations, except the Mohawks. Special legislation had been previously had with regard to the Oneidas and Tuscaroras. October 15th, 1783, Congress passed a series of resolutions relating to the Iroquois, of which the sixth reads as follows:---
"Whereas the Oneida and Tuscarora tribes have adhered to the cause of America, and joined her armies in the course of the late war, and Congress has frequently assured them of peculiar marks of favor and friendship, the said Commissioners are therefore instructed to reassure the said tribes of the friendship of the United States, and that they may rely that the land which they claim as their inheritance will be reserved for their sole use and benefit, until they may think if for their advantage to dispose of the same."
|Strength in 1689.||In 1698.||Losses.|
|1685. 43||1689. 44||1698. 44||1763. 45|