BRANT COUNTY, ONTARIO INDIAN HISTORIES
CAPT. JOSEPH BRANT (THAYENDANEGEA)
History of Brant County 1883, transcribed by Bill Bowman
Part of Page 85
INDIAN HISTORY CAPT. JOSEPH BRANT (THAYENDANEGEA)
THE DISTINGUISHED MOHAWK INDIAN CHIEF, SACHEM AND WARRIOR
Parentage The birth
and parentage of this celebrated Indian leader, whose career is a part of the
general history of two great civilized nations, as well as an important factor
in the local history of the particular county which bears his name, is involved
in uncertainty. His biographer (Stone) who wrote as late as 1865, thus alludes
to the circumstance: "The Indians have no heralds' college in which the lineage
of their great men can be traced, or parish registers of marriages and births,
by which a son can ascertain his paternity. Ancestral glory and shame are therefore
only reflected darkly through the dim and uncertain twilight of tradition. By
some authors, Thayendanegea has been called a half-breed; by others he has been
pronounced a Shawanese by parentage, and only Mohawk by adoption."
He has also been mentioned as a son of Sir William Johnson; Drake, the well known writer of Indian biography, calls Brant an Onondaga of the Mohawk tribe. Other writers have allowed him the honor of Mohawk blood, but have denied that he was descended from a chief.
During the year 1819, the Christian Recorder, then published at Kingston, presented a brief account of the life and character of Brant. In that memoir it was stated that he was born on the banks of the Ohio, whither his parents had emigrated from the Valley of the Mohawk, and where they are said to have sojourned several years.
"His mother at length returned with two children- Mary, who lived with Sir William Johnson, and Joseph, the subject of this memoir. Nothing was known of Brant's father among the Mohawks. Soon after the return of this family to Canajoharie, the mother married a respectable Indian called Carrihogo, or newscarrier, whose Christian name was Burnet, or Bernard; but by way of contraction he went by the name of 'Brant'."
Hence it is argued that the lad who was to become the future war chief was first known by the distinctive appellation of Brant's Joseph, and in process of time, by inversion, "JOSEPH BRANT."*
*footnote Christian Register, 1819, Vol. 1 No. 3, published at Kingston, and edited by the Rev. Doctor, afterwards the Honourable and Venerable Archdeacon Strachan, of Toronto. Dr. Strachan wrote the sketches upon information received from the Rev. Dr. Stewart, formerly a missionary in the Mohawk Valley.
"There is an approximation to the truth in this relation," says Stone, "and it is in part sustained by the family tradition. The facts are these: The Six Nations have carried their arms far to the west and south......
To the Ohio and Sandusky country they asserted a peremptory claim extending to the right of soil, at least as far as Presqu'isle. From their associations in that country, it had become usual among them, especially the Mohawks, to make temporary removals to the west during the hunting seasons, and one or more of those families would frequently remain abroad among the Miamis, the Hurons, or the Wyandots, for a longer or shorter period as they chose. One of the consequences of this intercommunication was the numerous family alliances existing between the Six Nations and others at the west, the Wyandots in particular. It was while his parents were abroad upon one of those excursions, that Thayendanegea was born, in the year 1742, on the banks of the Ohio.
The home of his family was at the Canajoharie Castle, the central of the three castles of the Mohawks, in their native valley. His father's name was Tehowaghwengaraghkwin, a full-bloodied Mohawk of the Wolf Tribe. Thayendanegea was very young when his father died. His mother married a second time to a Mohawk; and the family tradition at present is, that the name of Brant was acquired in the manner assumed by the publication already cited. There is reason to doubt the accuracy of this tradition, however, since it is believed that there was an Indian family of some consequence and extent bearing the English name of Brant. Indeed from the extracts from the recently discovered manuscripts of Sir William Johnson, it may be questioned whether Tehowaghwengaraghkwin and an old chief, sometimes called by Sir William, Brant, and at others Nickus Brant, were not one and the same person. The denial that he was a born chief is likewise believed to be incorrect. It is very true that among the Six Nations chieftainship was not necessarily obtained by inheritance; but in regard to Thayendanegea there is no doubt that he was of royal blood."
The London Magazine for July 1776, contains a sketch of him, probably furnished by Boswell, with whom he was intimate during his first visit to England, in 1775/76. In that account it is affirmed as a fact without question that he was the grandson of one of the five sachems who visited England in 1710, during the reign of Queen Anne.
"In the life of the first President Wheelock, by the Rev. Messrs. McClure and Parish, it is asserted that the father of Joseph Brant was Sachem of the Mohawks after the death of the famous King Hendrick.
Much other evidence might be added to support the generally accepted statement of a recent local writer, to the following effect:
"Thayendanegea, or Joseph Brant, as he was called in English according to tradition was born on the banks of the 'Belle' or Beautiful River, according to the French, or 'Oh-he-oh,' according to the Indian vocabulary, about the year 1742.
He was the youngest son of a distinguished Mohawk chief, mentioned in various records and traditions, under the English of German name of 'Nickus Brant,' between whom and Sir William Johnson it is said a close intimacy subsisted." Boyhood
"Of the early youth of Joseph Brant there are no accounts, other than that he was very young when first upon the war-path."
"Three sons of 'Nickus Brant' accompanied the expedition against Crown Point in 1755, which was commanded by Gen. William Johnson. Joseph was the younger of the three, and could not have been over 13 or 14 years of ago at the time. This expedition was successful, and procured for Sir William Johnson his title of Baronet, and a gratuity of five thousand pounds from the King."
The Mohawks in this engagement were led by their celebrated king, the brave old Hendrick, who was slain.
That Thayendanegea was to a certain extent benefited by the Christianizing and civilizing efforts of the influential representatives of the royal authority with whom he was associated, is substantiated by every unprejudiced source from which information can be drawn.
That Sir William Johnson was deeply interested in the success of the philanthropic efforts which were then made in behalf of the Indians, is sufficiently illustrated by the following letter, which has been preserved among the papers of that gallant officer:
"Fort Johnson, Nov. 17th, 1761.
"Rev. Sir,- Yours of the second instant I had the pleasure of receiving by the hands of Mr. Kirkland. I am pleased to find the lads I sent have merited your good opinion of them. I have given it in charge to Joseph (Brant) to speak in my name to any good boys he may see, and encourage them to accept the generous offer now made them, which he promises to do, and return as soon as possible. I will, on, return of the Indians from hunting, advise them to send as many as is required. I expect they will return, and hope they will make such progress in the English language and learning as may prove to your satisfaction and the benefit of those, who are really much to be pitied. My absence these four months has prevented my design of encouraging some more lads going to you, and since my return, which is but lately. I have not had an opportunity of seeing old or young, being all on their hunt. When they come back I shall talk and advise their parents to embrace this favourable opportunity of having their children instructed, and doubt not of their readiness to lay hold of so kind and charitable an offer.
"Mr. Kirkland's intention of learning the Mohawk language I most approve of, as after acquiring it he could be of vast service to them as a clergyman, which they much want and are desirous of having.
"The present laudable design of instructing a number of Indian boys will, I doubt not, when more known, lead several gentlemen to contribute towards it, and enable you thereby to increase the number of scholars, with whom I shall not be backward to contribute my mite.
" I wish you all success in this undertaking, and am with truth and sincerity, Rev. Sir, "Your most humble servant, "Wm. Johnson"
"The exertions of Sir William Johnson to improve the moral and social condition of his Mohawk neighbours were not the least of his praiseworthy labours among that brave and chivalrous people. Having aided in the building of churches and locating missionaries among them, at the request of the Rev. Mr. Kirkland and others he selected a number of young Mohawks, and caused them to be sent to the Moor Charity School at Lebanon, Connecticut, under the immediate direction of the Rev. Doctor Eleazer Wheelock, afterwards President of Dartmouth College, of which, by its transfer, the Moor school became the foundation.*
*footnote The Moor Charity School was established with the philanthropic design of educating Indian boys, and was continued for a length of time, but with indifferent success, so far as the original object was concerned. It was originated and principally supported by the patronage of English philanthropists.
"Among the Indian youths thus selected was young Thayendanegea. The precise year in which he was placed in charge of Doctor Wheelock cannot now be ascertained. The school was opened for the reception of Indian pupils, avowedly as an Indian missionary school, in 1748; the first Indian scholar, Samson Occum, having been received into it five years before."
The various writers who have treated of the deeds and character of Captain Brant, differ widely as to his scholastic attainments and the length of time which he passed at the Moor school. One authority (Dr. Stewart) says he made but little proficiency in his studies. His chief biographer, Stone, after what appears to have been a thorough consideration of all available documentary and traditional evidence, thus concludes:
"The fact, however that Charles Jeffrey Smith, a missionary to the Mohawks, took Thayendanegea as an interpreter in the year 1762, and gave him an excellent character, presents a much more favourable idea of his progress in learning."
From McLure's "Life of Wheelock," the following extract is made, as bearing upon this point: Sir William Johnson, Superintendent of Indian Affairs in North America, was very friendly to the design of Mr. Wheelock, and at his request sent several boys of the Mohawks to be instructed. One of these was the since celebrated Joseph Brant, who, after receiving his education, was particularly noticed by Sir William Johnson, and employed by him in public business," etc.
Among the Indian youths who accompanied Thayendanegea to the Moor school were several Mohawks and two Delawares, the latter having preceded the others some little time. One member of this party was a half-breed named William, who was supposed to have been a son of Brant's friend and patron.
"Only two of the number remained," says Stone, "to receive the honours of the future College (Dartmouth). The others impatient of the restraints of school, and delighting more in the chase of game than of literary honours, returned to their hunter state in about two years. Thayendanegea probably left the school at the same time."
From Dr. Wheelock's "Narrative of the Indian Charity School," published in 1765, it is learned that "Joseph Brant, a Mohawk Indian of a family of distinction in that nation, was educated by Mr. Wheelock, and was so well accomplished that the Rev. Charles Jeffrey Smith took him for his interpreter when he went on his mission to the Mohawks, now three years ago. But the war breaking out at that time between the back Indians and the English, Mr. Smith was obliged to return; but Joseph tarried and went out with a company against the Indians. He behaved so much like the Christian and the soldier that he gained great esteem. He now lives in a decent manner, and endeavours to teach his poor brethren the things of God, in which his own heart seems much engaged. His house is an asylum for the missionaries in that wilderness."
It is not stated which particular campaign it was that the young warrior was engaged in at the time, but a passage contained in a letter from Sir William Johnson to Dr. Wheelock, and dated April 25, 1764, affords a clue to the desired information: "J----- is just returned from an expedition against the enemy," etc. etc. It was therefore early in the spring of 1764 that he returned from the war-path; this makes it probable that the war was none other than that against the great Ottawa chief, Pontiac, who in 1763 attempted to dispossess the english of the country of the lakes.
That Brant was possessed of at least a fair degree of culture is established beyond doubt. The English historian, Weld, in his "Travels through the States of North America, and the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, during the years 1795, 1796 and 1797," has the following notice of Capt. Brant:
"Brant, at a very early age, was sent to a college in New England, where, being possessed of a good capacity, he soon made very considerable progress in the Greek and Latin languages.
"Uncommon pains were taken to instil into his mind the truths of the Gospel. He professed himself to be a warm admirer of the principles of Christianity; and in hopes of being able to convert his nation, on returning to them he absolutely translated the Gospel of St. Matthew into the Mohawk language; he also translated the established 'Form of Prayer' of the Church of England.
* * * * * * *
"Whenever the affairs of his nation shall permit him to do so, Brandt declares it to be his intention to sit down to the study of the greek language, of which he professes himself a great admirer, and to translate from the original into the Mohawk language more of the New Testament."
Many other proofs of his ability might be added to those already given, but enough has been produced to disprove the charge of illiteracy of the lack of culture.
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Brant As A Warrior
Mention has already been made of his having been a participant in the expedition against Crown Point, in the year 1755, when but thirteen years of age. It is reported that in relating the particulars of this engagement to Dr. Stewart, the youthful warrior acknowledged that this being the first action at which he was present, he was seized with such a tremor when the firing began, that he was obliged to take hold of a small sapling to steady himself; but that after the discharge of a few volleys he recovered the use of his limbs and the composure of his mind, so as to support the character of a brave man, of which he was exceedingly ambitious.
His next experience appears to have been with the expedition against Niagara in 1759. This important post was then in possession of the French. The movement was organized under the command of Gen. Prideaux, and consisted of a little over two thousand men, who left Oswego for Niagara on the 1st of September, 1759.
Sir William Johnson joined the expedition with about six hundred warriors of the Six Nations. This number was increased to about one thousand before reaching the vicinity of the fort. The youthful warrior accompanied Sir William in this expedition. The French had drawn all their available forces of every description from their western posts for the defence of Niagara.
A large detachment arrived in the vicinity during the siege, consisting of both French and Indians. These Indians were friends and allies of the Six Nations. A parley between the Indians was held, the western Indians declaring they did not come to fight their brethren of the Six Nations, but the English. The result was they detached themselves and joined their brethren. In the early part of the siege General Prideaux was killed by the accidental discharge of a "cohorn," and the command devolved upon Sir William Johnson. Upon the withdrawal of the western Indians, the French were attacked, and all either killed, taken prisoners, or put to flight.
Upon learning the fate of this reinforcement, the French commandant surrendered the fort, himself, and all his forces prisoners of war.*
His connection with the Pontiac war has been mentioned as having taken place in 1763-4. It was probably his third venture upon the uncertain field of combat.
In what particular battles he was engaged does not appear; but he was in the war, and his courageous and enterprising spirit offered the best evidence that he was promptly on hand, regardless of the obstructions and danger. From all accounts now at hand, it appears that the Pontiac war was the last important campaign in which Brant participated, until the outbreak of those premonitory mutterings, which terminated in open rebellion by a portion of the American colonies.
By reference to that portion of this sketch which treats of his social and domestic relations, it will be seen that this period of his career was exceedingly tranquil.
That he was, by his associations with Sir William Johnson, most thoroughly tutored in the details of the relation which his people bore to both the loyal and disloyal elements of the English dependencies in this country, is certainly established by what transpired later.
Footnote* Mr. Stone expresses the opinion that Brant entered the "Moor Charity School" so after his return from this Niagara campaign.
"About this time" 1771 says one authority, "Brant was made Principal War Chief of the Confederacy." ** Stone's language is altogether inferential, but as his statements appear to be the foundation of all that has been written since the publication of his work, they are given entire:
"Thayendanegea had now been advanced to the situation of Principal War Chief of the Confederacy. (I am aware that the dignity of Principal Chief has been denied to Captain brant by several writers, and expressly by Rev. Mr. Stewart, who says he was not a war chief by birth, and not so often in command as has been supposed. It will be seen, however, from the speech of a Seneca chief that Thayendanegea was the head chief of the Six Nations, Mr. Stewart to the contrary notwithstanding). This important office was uniformly filled by a warrior selected from the Mohawks. How or in what manner Brant arrived at that dignity history does not inform us. Hendrick, the last of the Mohawk chiefs who bore the title of 'King,' fell at Lake George twenty years before. He was succeeded by Little Abraham, who has been designated by some writers as a brother of Hendrick, but whether he was or not, he was uniformly friendly to the colonists, and refused to leave the valley with Thayendanegea and the majority of the nation who accompanied Guy Johnson in his flight. It is not improbable that Brant assumed the superior chieftaincy from the force of circumstance.
Footnote** Mrs. Carey, Brantford, 1872.
"from certain letters of Sir William Johnson to Arthur Lee, it is learned that the sachems of each tribe of the Six Nations were usually chosen in a public assembly of the chiefs and warriors, whenever a vacancy happened by death, or otherwise. They were selected from among the oldest warriors for their sense and bravery, and approved of by the whole tribe. Military services were the chief recommendations to this rank, but in some instances a kind of inheritance was recognized.
"We have seen that Thayendanegea was descended from a family of chiefs, and his birth may have contributed to this elevation. His family and official connection with Johnson, whose name was so potent with the Indians, without doubt facilitated his advancement.
"The inquiry is, however, of little importance. The fact that he had now become the chief sachem is unquestionable, and from this point he becomes a principal personage in the history of the English-speaking people of America.
"He was ordinarily called by his other name of Joseph Brant or 'Captain Brant'- the title of 'captain' being the highest military distinction known to the Indians; and that, moreover, being the rank conferred upon him in the army of the Crown.
" In much of his correspondence, when wishing to be formal, and when writing to distinguished men, he was accustomed to write his name "Joseph Brant- Thayendanegea," the latter being his legitimate Indian name.
When Col. Guy Johnson evacuated the Mohawk Valley and moved westwardly to Ontario, thence to Oswego, and later to Montreal, he was accompanied by Brant, and a portion at least of the Mohawk warriors.
One account contains the following: "Colonel Johnson arrived in Montreal July 14th, 1775, accompanied by joseph Brant with two hundred and twenty Indians, by way of Lake Ontario, expecting soon to organize a force sufficient to return and take possession of the homes and property he and his retainers had left behind. But failing in these endeavours, and finding his official standing and powers were interfered with to some extent by the appointment of Major Campbell as Indian Agent for Canada, Colonel Johnson decided to go to England to get the question of his powers and jurisdiction settled." At Montreal he appears to have met Generals Carleton and Haldimand, who courted the services of himself and followers, and soon induced them to join the standard of the King. "For the prosecution of a border warfare, the officers of the Crown could scarcely have engaged a more valuable auxiliary."
In the 11th of November, 1775, Colonel Johnson sailed from Quebec on a visit to England; he was accompanied by Joseph Brant and a Mohawk war chief, named Oteroughyanente. Brant was much noticed and courted in London, and made a speech before Lord george Germain, setting forth the grievances of the Six Nations in general, and of the Mohawks , his own nation in particular; to which Lord Germain made a brief reply. This speech, which is the first of Brant's we have on record, seems to have been delivered in London, March, 1776.
It is not known whether the chief visited the Indian country of the Six Nations during the summer previous to his journey to the English capital, in company with Colonel Johnson. The precise object of that journey is also enshrouded in uncertainty; many speculations have been indulged in by different writers concerning the matter, but none have been able to arrive at any important conclusion. That he went to England is, however, beyond cavil.
There are several incidents recorded, here and there, in connection with this first London sojourn, which illustrate the character of the brave old chief; and as some of these seem to be in order here, they are introduced without further explanation.
"He had but little of the savage ferocity of his people in his countenance, and when, as he ordinarily did, he wore the European dress, there was nothing besides his colour to mark wherein he differed from other men. Upon his first arrival in London, he was conducted to the inn called 'The Swan with Two Necks.' Other lodgings were soon provided which were more suitable to his rank as an Indian king; but he said the people of the inn had treated him with so much kindness, that he preferred to remain there during his stay in London, and he accordingly did so."
Although he dressed in the European habit, he was not unprovided with a well selected wardrobe of Indian costumes, and he always appeared at Court, and upon occasions of ceremony in the dress of his own nation.
The tomahawk worn by him in London was a very beautiful article, polished to the highest degree; upon it was engraved the first letter of his Christian name, with his Mohawk appellation, thus: " J. Thayendanegea."
It was during this visit that he procured a gold finger-ring, with his full name engraved thereon. This ring he wore until his death. It was kept as a precious relic by his widow for four years, when it was lost. Strange as it may seem, however, during the summer of 1836 the identical ring was found in a ploughed field near Wellington Square. The venerable Indian Queen was at that time upon a visit to her daughter, the accomplished wife of Colonel Kerr. As may well be supposed, the aged widow was overjoyed at the unexpected recovery of the memento, after its having been lost for twenty-six years.
Brant did not remain in England many months, but in company with Captain Tice, who had been a member of the party during its entire journey, he sailed for America in the spring of 1776.
There is much confusion among the statements of various writers concerning the date of this event. May and July are both given as the time of his arrival, but as he is known to have been in battle of the Cedars, above Montreal, which was fought in that same month, it is altogether probable that he arrived during the end of March or early part of April.
He was cautiously and privately landed somewhere in the neighbourhood of New York harbour, whence he performed a very hazardous journey to Canada, having, of course, to steal his way through an enemy's country until he could hide himself in the forests beyond Albany.
During his stay in the British capital, the question of his attitude towards the rebellious colonies was effectually settled; he pledged himself most heartily to the cause of the King, and returned to his native forests to execute the requirements of that pledge.
In a letter to Sir Evan Neapean, which was written after the peace of 1783, Brant said: "When I joined the English forces in the beginning of the war it was purely on account of my forefathers' engagements with the King. I always looked upon these engagements, or covenants, between the King and the Indian people as a sacred thing, therefore I was not to be frightened by the threats of the rebels at that time. I assure you I had no other view in it, and this was my real cause from the beginning."
The battle of the Cedars was the result of a movement by general Carleton to dislodge the Americans from a point of land extending far out into the St. Lawrence River, about forty miles above Montreal.
The British commander had a force of six or seven hundred men, the greater part of which were Indians under the leadership of Thayendanegea. This affair terminated most successfully for the British, by the surrender of Major Sherbourne, on the 20th of May, 1776.
The name of Captain Brant does not appear in any of the books in connection with this affair at the Cedars, but there is positive evidence that he was not only there, but that he exerted himself, after the surrender of Major Sherbourne, to control the Indians and prevent the massacre of the prisoners. The reader is referred to the story of Captain McKinstry, in another part of this sketch, for the particulars of an important event in the career of Captain Brant.
It was not supposed that any considerable numbers of the Six Nations took part in the battle of the Cedars other than the Mohawks and their kindred tribe, the Caughnawagas, or as the latter tribe chose to call themselves, the SEVEN NATIONS OF CANADA.
Among the papers preserved in the family of Colonel afterwards General Herkimer, is a speech from the Oneida chiefs to Colonel Elmore, who at the commencement of the year 1777 was in command of Fort Schuyler.*
This document announces the final extinguishment of the great council fire of the Six Nations, at Onondaga, New York. As the most central of all the tribes of the Confederacy, their castle, had been the assembly ground for all general councils from time immemorial, and here, according to their own figurative language, the council fire was ever kept burning
*footnote The letter is too long to insert in this work; the reader is referred to Stone's "Life of Brant," Vol. I p. 176.
The cause of this abandonment of their time-honoured council place is wrapt in much uncertainty, but is supposed by those who have investigated closely to have been the extensive prevalence of small-pox, or other pestilential disorder. The event is mentioned for the purpose of marking an important occurrence in connection with the life of Brant, and with the history of the Six Nations, as it was the occasion of their final exit, as a national body, from the council grounds of their ancestors.
Neither tradition nor history furnishes any account of Thayendanegea's movements until the spring of 1777, when he appeared among the Indians of the Mohawk River country, having separated from Colonel Guy Johnson, with whom he had had some difficulty. He penetrated the country as far south as the northern settlements of the Susquehanna River, in Pennsylvania, and was undoubtedly active in his endeavours to unite the various Indian factions in support of the royal cause.
The presence of the crafty chieftain did not improve the pacific disposition of the natives, nor diminish the fears of the scattered and unprotected settlers of that neighbourhood.
In June, 1777, he, with seventy or eighty warriors, appeared at Unadilla, and requested an interview with the principal men and militia officers of the settlement. He stated that the object of his visit was to procure provisions, of which his people were greatly in want, and if these could not be obtained by peaceable means he would take what he required by force. The visit continued two days, during which time the Indians were well supplied with provisions, and on their departure they were permitted to take away some live cattle and sheep.
The Indian forces of Captain Brant continued to increase, and the anxiety of the whites became correspondingly greater. General Herkimer determined to obtain an interview with Brant, for the purpose of at least ascertaining definitely the temper of the Indians in regard to the issues of the period. For this purpose Herkimer dispatched a messenger to Brant, with an invitation to a mutual conference, to be held at or near Unadilla.
There has been much speculation in regard to the real object of General Herkimer's call for this meeting. The different accounts of the affair which have been published from time to time tend rather to confuse than enlighten the historian of to-day. The following is from the "History of Schoharie County:"
"It appears that in July, 1777, Joseph Brant had then, with some eighty warriors commenced his marauding enterprises on the settlements at Unadilla, by appropriating their cattle, sheep and swine to his own benefit.* To obtain satisfaction for those cattle, and if possible to get the Indians to remain neutral in the approaching contest, General Herkimer, in the latter part of June, with three hundred and eighty of the Tryon County Militia, proceeded to Unadilla (an Indian settlement on the Susquehanna River), to hold an interview with Brant. That celebrated chief, then at Oquago, was sent for by Gen. Herkimer, and arrived on the 27th, after the Americans had been there about eight days waiting.
"Col. John Harper, who attended Gen. Herkimer at this time, made an affidavit on the 16th of July following the interview, showing the principal grievances of which the Indians complained, as also the fact that they were in covenant with the King, whose belts were yet lodged with them, and whose service they intended to enter.
*Footnote This is probably an error, as the cattle were given to the Indians, as previously stated.
"The instrument further testified that Brant instead of returning to Oswego, as he had informed Gen. Herkimer was his intention, had remained in the neighbourhood on the withdrawal of the American Militia, and was proposing to destroy the frontier settlements.
"The following relating to the interview between Gen. Herkimer and Brant, is obtained from the venerable Joseph Wagner, of Fort Plain. He states that at the first meeting of Gen. Herkimer with Brant, the latter was attended by three other chiefs- William Johnson, a son of Sir William Johnson by Molly Brant, which son was killed at the battle of Oriskany the same year; But, a smart looking fellow, with curly hair, supposed to be part Indian and part Negro; and a short dark-skinned Indian.
"The four were encircled by a body-guard of some twenty noble looking warriors. When in his presence Brant rather haughtily asked Gen. Herkimer the object of his visit, which was readily made known. But seeing so many attendants, the chief suspected the interview was sought for another purpose.
"Said Brant to Gen. Herkimer, 'I have five hundred warriors at my command, and can in an instant destroy you and your party; but we are old neighbours and friends, and I will not do it.' Col. Cox a young officer who accompanied Gen. Herkimer, exchanged several sarcastic remarks with Brant, which served not a little to irritate him and his followers. The two had a quarrel a few years previous about lands around the upper Indian castle. Provoked to anger, Brant asked Cox if he was not the 'son-in-law of old George Clock?' 'Yes,' replied Cox in a tone of malignity, 'and what is that to you, you d--d Indian?'
At the close of this dialogue, Brant's guard ran off to their camp firing several guns and making the hills echo back their savage yells. Gen. Herkimer assured Brant that he intended his visit for one of a pacific character, and urged him to interpose to prevent anything of a hostile nature. A word from Brant hushed the tumult of passion, which a moment before threatened serious consequences. The parties, however, were too much excited to proceed with the business which had convened them. Brant, addressing Gen. Herkimer, said, 'It is needless to multiply words at this time; I will meet you here at precisely nine o'clock to-morrow morning.' The parties then separated to occupy their former position in camp. They again met of the 28th of June. Brant was the first to speak. 'Gen. Herkimer,' said he, 'I now fully comprehend the object of your visit; but you are too late; I am engaged to serve the King. We are old friends, and I can do no less than let you return unmolested, although you are in my power.' After a little more conversation of a friendly nature, the parties agreed to separate amicably.
The conference ended, Gen. Herkimer presented to Brant seven or eight fat cattle that had just arrived, owing to obstructions on the outlet of Otsego Lake, down which stream they were driven or transported. For three days before the arrival of the cattle the Americans were on short allowance. It is said that at this second interview of Brant with Gen. Herkimer, the latter had taken the precaution to privately select four reliable men, in case any symptoms of treachery should be exhibited, to shoot down Brant and his chiefs at a given signal, but no occasion to execute these precautionary measures occurred."
The conference being ended, Brant turned proudly away and buried himself in the forest. "It was early in July, and the morning was clear and beautiful. But the war-whoop had scarcely died away before the heavens became black, and a violent thunder-storm obliged each party to seek the nearest shelter."
This was the last conference held with the hostile Mohawks. Brant very soon drew off his warriors from the Susquehanna and united them to the forces of Colonel John Butler and Sir John Johnson, who were concentrating the Loyalists and refugees at Oswego. It was about this time that the officers of the British Indian Department summoned a general council of the Six Nations, to be held at that place. It is probable that Brant arrived at this post with his warriors for that occasion.
This council was an important one in the affairs of America, as it terminated in the complete alliance of the greater portion of the Six Nations with the British forces. At the conclusion of the proceedings the Indians were presented with clothing, arms, ammunition, cooking utensils, etc.; some of the brass kettles which were among the gifts of that day are said to be in existence among the descendants of the Indians at the present time. It is now generally conceded among students of American history that Captain Brant's first "raid" upon any of the New York settlements was made in the month of May previous to his interview with General Herkimer, which, as has been stated, took place in July; this fact was not established with any degree of certainty until after the close of the Revolutionary War. The affair referred to was the waylaying of Lieutenant Woodworm and Peter Sitz, near Cherry Valley.
"The next we hear of Brant is at the head of three hundred warriors at Oswego, 1777, to join the expedition of Gen. St. Leger against Fort Stanwix. The Indians under Brant met with a severe loss in an engagement, and on their way home committed some depredations upon the Oneidas, whom they considered rebels for their refusal to join the expedition. In retaliation, the Oneidas plundered Brant's sister, 'Molly Brant' who resided with her family at the Upper Mohawk Town, together with others of the Mohawks who accompanied Brant in this expedition.
"Molly Brant and her family fled to the Onondagas, the council place of the Six Nations, and laid her grievances before that body. The information given to Gen. St. Leger of the approach of the reinforcements of the rebels under Gen. Herkimer, was through the instrumentality of Molly Brant, and led to the surprise and almost defeat of the entire party under Gen. Herkimer. Capt. Brant, with a strong force of Indians, with true Indian sagacity, formed an ambuscade in a position admirably fitted for the purpose. The whole rebel army, with the exception of the rear guard, fell into the trap, and would have been destroyed had not a severe storm of thunder, lightning and rain, put a stop to the work of death." This engagement was none other than the historically famous battle of Oriskany, which was one of the most bloody of all the struggles of the Canadian frontier.
The whole Indian force was led by Thayendanegea in person, "the Great Captain of the Six Nations," as he was then called; and as the Cayugas had now joined the Mohawks in alliance with the arms of England, while the Onondagas also were practically against the Provincials, although professing a doubtful policy, he must have had a large force in the field.
Of the Senecas alone thirty-six were killed and a great number wounded. Captain Brant was accustomed, long years afterward, to speak of the sufferings of his "poor Mohawks" in the battle of Oriskany.
Among the spoils captured by the American troops was the baggage of Sir John Johnson, with all his papers, consisting of memoranda, journals, orderly books, correspondence, etc. These papers have been an authentic and fruitful source of information to the historian and biographer since then.
The victory at Oriskany was claimed by both British and Provincials; in fact, the issue was of such a peculiar character, that neither combatant had gained anything decisive, while each had lost heavily, in men and materials.
The military operations of 1777 closed with the British army in winter quarters at Philadelphia, and the Americans at Valley Forge.
Early in 1778, the American Congress made another strenuous effort to conciliate the Indians of the Six Nations, or such of them as had thus far claimed to be neutral; the scheme failed, and was never again attempted during the Revolutionary War.
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About the same time, various symptoms of change were perceptible among the Indians of the Mohawk valley, and such other tribes as were affiliated with them; the Indians of the remote west were manifesting a disposition to unite with the nations already allied with the British forces against the Provincials.
The master spirit of these combinations and movements was Captain Brant, whose winter quarters were at the central and convenient point of Niagara. Sir John Johnson, Colonel Claus and Butler, and their co-workers were active in their preparations for an early and forward movement from Niagara, while Colonel Hamilton, who commanded the British post, at Detroit, was equally energetic in the same work in his own department. Omitting many interesting particulars of the period under consideration, which have no direct connection with the career of brant, we find him at the opening of the season for active operations, in 1778, at his former haunts on the Susquehanna, below Unadilla. He soon proved himself a dreaded partisan; no matter what were the difficulties or distances, if a blow could be struck to any advantage, Thayendanegea was sure to be there.
Frequent were the instances in which individuals, and indeed whole families, in the outskirts of the settlements disappeared, without any knowledge on the part of those who were left that an enemy had been near them. "The smoking ruins of their dwellings, and the charred bones of the dead, together with the slaughtered carcasses of the domestic animals, were the only testimonies of the course of the catastrophe, until the return of an escaped captive, or the rescue of a prisoner, furnished more definite information."
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There is no good evidence that Brant was personally a participator in secret murders, or attacks upon isolated individuals or families.
In support of the foregoing opinion concerning Brant, the subjoined incident, which happened in the summer of 1778, is given. A lad in Schoharie County, named William McKown, while engaged in raking hay alone in a field, happening to turn around, perceived an Indian very near him. Startled at his perilous situation, he raised his rake for defence, but his fears were dissipated by the savage, who said, "Do not be afraid, young man, I shall not hurt you." He then inquired for the house of a Loyalist named Foster. The lad gave him the proper direction, and asked the Indian if he knew Mr. Foster. " I am partially acquainted with him, having once seen him at the Half-way Creek," was the reply. The Indian then inquired the lad's name, and having been informed, he added, "You are a son of Captain McKown, who lives in the north-east part of the town, I suppose. I know you father very well, he lives neighbour to Captain McKean." Emboldened by the familiar discourse of the Indian, the boy ventured in turn to ask his name. Hesitating for a moment, the unwelcome visitor replied, " My name is Brant." "What! Captain Brant?" demanded the youth. "No I am a cousin of his," was the rejoinder, but accompanied by a smile and a look that plainly disclosed the transparent deception. It was none other than the terrible Thayendanegea.
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The first movement of Brant in the spring of 1778 was upon the settlement at Springfield, a town at the head of Otsego Lake, lying directly west of Cherry Valley, and about ten miles distant. Those of the men who did not fly were taken prisoners. The chieftain then burnt the entire settlement, with the exception of a single house, into which he collected all the women and children, and left them uninjured.
It was reported in June that Brant was, fortifying his post near Unadilla, and Captain McKean, with a small patrol, was sent to reconnoitre, but was obliged to return without making any important observations. During the journey McKean wrote a letter to Brant upbraiding him for the predatory system of warfare in which he was engaged, and challenging him to single combat, or to meet him with an equal amount of men and have a pitched battle, adding that if he would come to Cherry Valley they would change him from a "Brant" to a "goose." This missive was fastened to a stick and placed in an Indian path. No modern post office could have transmitted the letter with greater speed or safety; the "contents were noted" by Brant, and he resolved to fight the "rebels" as well as he could.
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Of all the names which grace the record of events upon this side of the Atlantic, none are perhaps more familiar to the readers of English literature than this synonym of all that bloody in war or beautiful in peace; it has been the subject of picture, song and story, during four generations of men. To such an extent has the ideal Wyoming been treated, that its real historic position has, to a great degree, been obscured by a mask of fanciful imagery, while the characters which cluster around its memories have been more or less deformed by prejudice and by "poetic license."
Inasmuch as the name of Thayendanegea has been almost inseparably linked with a principal event in the history of Wyoming, over which no small amount of controversy and misunderstanding has arisen, it is deemed both just and proper to introduce an outline sketch of the relation which Wyoming bore to the other colonial settlements of the north in general, and to the Six Nations in particular.
"Wyoming is the name of a beautiful section of the Susquehanna Valley, situated in the north-eastern part of the State of Pennsylvania. It is twenty-five miles in length by three or four miles in width, lying deep between two parallel ranges of mountains crested with oak and pine. The scenery around is wild and picturesque, while the valley itself might be chosen for another paradise."
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The possession of this valley appears to have been a "bone of contention" among the prehistoric races who disappeared before the Indian's time. The remains of earthworks and fortifications, so ancient that the largest oaks and pines were rooted upon the ramparts and in the entrenchments, indicate that it may have been the seat of power of a race of men far different from the Indians. Within the white man's time, but before his possession, various Indian tribes converted it into a field of strife, in the controversy over the right to its scenes and its soil.
"It was here that Count Zinzendorf commenced his labours as a missionary among the Shawanese." Originally it lay within the territory of the Delaware Indians, but the Six Nations claimed it by right of conquest. In 1742 a grand council of chiefs was held in Philadelphia, to settle a dispute concerning the title to certain lands lying within the forks of the Delaware River, which the proprietaries of Pennsylvania alleged that William Penn, had bought of the Delawares, but which they had never given up, while at the same time the Six Nations claimed the ownership.
"The Governor of Pennsylvania having explained the state of the case to the council, reminded the chiefs of the Six nations that inasmuch as they had always required the Government of Pennsylvania to remove such whites as intruded upon their lands, so now the Government expected the Six Nations to remove the Indians from the lands which it had purchased. Old Cannassateego was the master spirit of the Iroquois delegation on this occasion, and after due consideration he pronounced his decision. He rebuked the Delawares for their dishonesty in first selling land which they did not own, and even then retaining possession of it themselves. He taunted them with their degraded position as having been made women of by his people, and ordered them to remove to Wyoming or Shamokin.
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"The commands of the Six Nations (Iroquois) were neither to be questioned nor disregarded, and the Delaware clan straightway packed up and removed to Wyoming. then in partial occupancy of a band of Shawanese. The latter were suffered to remain on the west side of the river, while the Delawares planted themselves on the east side, and built their town of 'Maughwauwame' - the original Wyoming."
The close proximity of these two clans was no addition to their happiness, and no long period elapsed before their animosities were sharpened into actual hostilities.
Upon the breaking out of the old French War, the Shawanese espoused the side of the French, while the Delawares united with the Six Nations as allies of the English. The Indian communities at Wyoming finally came into open conflict over the catching of a grasshopper, by a Shawanese child, on the Delaware side of the river; the children began a petty quarrel, their respective mothers took up the contest, and an Amazonian battle was the result. Upon the return of the warriors of the respective tribes, they too became incensed, and a bloody battle was fought; in this several hundreds were killed, and the Shawanese were vanquished and obliged to leave the valley.
They then joined the main body of their tribe on the Ohio. This victory of the Delawares over the Shawanese, restored them, in a great measure, to their caste as warriors, and enabled them to retain their claim to the Wyoming country, although the Six Nations held jurisdiction over it. These conflicting claims of Indian title were the cause of rival negotiations between white land speculators, which ultimately led to many and serious evils.
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The first movement towards planting a white colony in the Wyoming Valley was made by Connecticut in 1753.
It was justly held that this section of country belonged to the grant of James I., in 1620, to the old Plymouth Company. The Earl of Warwick having purchased the right of the Plymouth Company to the territory of Connecticut, and the lands beyond New Jersey, west "from sea to sea," within certain limits, Connecticut claimed these lands under that grant.
But no sooner was a company formed to plant a colony in Wyoming, called the Susquehanna Company, than Pennsylvania preferred a claim to the same territory under a grant from Charles II., to William Penn, in 1681. A rival association, called the Delaware Company, was organized in like manner to settle it. The first which each company undertook to accomplish was to circumvent the other in purchasing the Indian title, it being conceded that the Six Nations were the rightful owners. For a time the territory was refused to both parties, but ultimately the Susquehanna Company was successful in their negotiations, and in 1755 the Connecticut colony was commenced; but on account of the French and Indian wars their settlers were compelled to return to Connecticut, and it was not until 1762 that they were enabled to obtain a foothold.
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The Pennsylvanians immediately prepared to resist the Connecticut enterprise. A case was made up and submitted to Attorney-General Pratt (afterwards Lord Camden), of England who delivered an opinion in favour of the successors of Penn.
Connecticut likewise sent over a case, and on her part obtained a like favourable opinion from eminent counsel.
Thus far the relations between the colonists and the Indians had been of the most pacific character. The old Delaware chief, Tadeuskund, had embraced the Christian religion and was their friend, but he had given offence to some of the Six Nations in 1758, and in 1763 a party of warriors came down and murdered the venerable chief by setting fire to his dwelling, in which he was consumed. The murder was charged by the Indians upon the settlers from Connecticut, who, unconscious of any wrong, remained in fancied security. The consequence was, the sudden destruction of their settlement by a party of Delawares, on the 15th October, 1763. The descent was made upon the town while the men were at work in the field. Many were killed and others taken prisoners, while those that could fled to the woods and wandered back to Connecticut, destitute and on foot.
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In 1768 the Delaware Company took advantage of a treaty holden at Fort Stanwix, and purchased of the same Six Nations the same territory of Wyoming. The Pennsylvanians entered upon immediate possession, and when, in the ensuing spring, the Connecticut colonists returned, they found others in occupancy of their lands, with a block-house erected, and armed for defence, under the directions of Amos Ogden and Charles Stewart, to whom a lease of a section of land had been granted by John Penn, for the express purpose of ousting the Connecticut claimants. Here was a new state of things. Some of the leading Connecticut men were arrested, and sent off to a distant prison. But recruits coming on from Connecticut, they in turn built works of defence, and went on with their labours.
The Governor of Pennsylvania sent a detachment of armed men, in the summer of 1769, to dispossess the connecticut people by force. The colonists prepared for a siege, but one of their leaders was captured and sent to jail in Philadelphia, and they soon capitulated and agreed to leave the territory, except seventeen families, who were to remain and secure the crops. But no sooner had they departed than the Pennsylvanians, led by Ogden, plundered the whole colony, and drove them off in a state of destitution.
In February, 1770, the Connecticut people rallied, and marched upon Wyoming, under a man named Lazarus Stewart. They took Ogden's castle and his single piece of artillery, and in turn obliged him to agree to evacuate the place, which he did, leaving six men to take charge of his remaining property. But the conduct of Ogden the year previous had not been forgotten, and the "law of revenge" was speedily executed. In September, 1770, a force of one hundred and fifty men, under Ogden, took the Connecticut settlers by surprise, and the whole colony was again scattered and devastated. But Ogden's triumph was brief. In December the fort was again surprised and captured by Captain Stewart, and the Pennsylvanians driven out into the forests.
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The State of Pennsylvania now took the matter in hand, and sent a posse to arrest Stewart, who resisted, and made his escape with many of his followers. The place again fell into the hands of the Ogdens, but not until one of them, Nathan Ogden, had been killed. In July, 1771, the fort was again invaded by the Connecticut colonists, under Colonel Zebulon Butler with seventy men, who joined forces with Captain Stewart. Ogden retired to a new fort and prepared for fight, but finding such a course useless, he made his escape to Philadelphia, and obtained the co-operation of State forces, under Colonel Asher Clayton.
Colonel Clayton advanced to the attack, but was ambushed by the Connecticut men and completely vanquished, whereupon he and Ogden agreed to evacuate the Wyoming country. The matter had now assumed such important aspects that the Governors of the two States began to try to solve the disputed question, but all to no practical purpose.
Meantime, the people of the colony proceeded to organize a government, and to exercise almost all the attributes of sovereignty. Connecticut extended its broad wings over it, and attached it to the County of Litchfield in the parent State. The States of Pennsylvania and Connecticut kept up a war of edicts upon the subject, while the settlement advanced in population and extent with unexampled rapidity.
Thus matters proceeded until the year 1775, when just after the outbreak between the British troops and the colonists at Lexington, the old feuds between the settlers of the rival companies suddenly broke forth afresh.
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The entire militia of the connecticut settlements was soon in the field, while Colonel Plunkett, at the head of seven hundred Pennsylvanians, marched against Wyoming. The contest was severe, and resulted in the retreat of the Pennsylvanians, nor did they attempt to rally again. This was the last effort of the Government of Pennsylvania against the Valley of Wyoming.
At the risk of being charged with tedious irrelevancy, the foregoing sketch of the history of Wyoming has been extracted mainly from Stone's "Life of Brant," in order to explain the peculiar condition of things which existed there during the Revolutionary War. The reader will see that in no other part of America was there such an amount and kind of fuel wherewith to feed the fire of partisan hatred. Wyoming had been the scene of strife, and her soil had been drenched in blood, for more than a quarter of a century before Thayendanegea had attained special prominence as a warrior. The already divided and embittered portions of that beautiful valley were all more highly incensed by the events which marked the Revolutionary period. Those who adhered to the Royal cause, and those who were struggling for independence, were pitted against each other, in many instances with more than fiendish hatred, and neither failed to improve any opportunity which presented itself for inflicting all the penalties of a semi-barbarous warfare upon the other.
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"The population of the Wyoming settlements at the beginning of the war was about five thousand. Three companies of regular troops had been enlisted for the United States service, and their militia numbered eleven hundred men, capable of bearing arms. So prolific was their soil, and so well was it tilled, that they were enabled to furnish large supplies of provisions for the Provincial army." All these circumstances and conditions combined to make Wyoming a tempting objective point to those who has espoused the cause of its enemies.
Some demonstrations had been made during the summer of 1777, while St. Leger was besieging Fort Schuyler, but after some skirmishing with the inhabitants the invaders dispersed, yet the impression prevailed that there was mischief brewing, and the people were not altogether at ease, and in January, 1778, twenty-seven suspected inhabitants were arrested. Nine of these were discharged for want of evidence to warrant their detention; the remaining eighteen were sent to Hartford, in Connecticut, and imprisoned. The nine set at liberty immediately fled to the enemy, and were soon followed by others of their friends. It was but natural that these proceedings should still more embitter the feelings of the Loyalists against the Whigs, and the effect was soon perceptible in the behaviour of the Indians and their allies who patrolled the borders.
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During the spring of 1778 several petty incursions were made upon the settlements, and some plundering and loss of life resulted therefrom.
Towards the close of June of this year Col. Guy Johnson writing to Lord Germain from New York, suggests the plan of employing the Indians in a "petit guerre" in their own way. The first expedition under this new mode of warfare was organized at Niagara under Col. John Butler, consisting of Loyalists and Indians and was directed against Wyoming. Arriving at Tioga Point, they procured floats and rafts, and descended the Susquehanna to a place called the Three Islands, when they marched across the country, and entered the Valley of Wyoming through a mountain's gap near its northern extremity. On the 2nd of July they took possession of two small forts, one of which was called the Exeter Fort, the other the Lackawana Fort (Col. John Butler's headquarters).
The inhabitants were alarmed, and began immediate preparations for defence. They assembled at Fort "Forty," about four miles below the headquarters of the British troops, and resolved to make a quick dash upon the invaders, and vanquish them before the arrival of their rear guard, and thus take them in their weakest numerical strength. Colonel Zebulon Butler was the commander of the Wyoming forces, and was not favourable to the attack, preferring to await the arrival of reinforcements from Washington's army, but he was overcome by the counsel of his fellow-officers, and finally consented to the advance.
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An engagement followed, which resulted in the defeat of the Provincials, and the sacking and pillaging of the entire district known as Wyoming. The inhabitants were dispersed and destroyed by all the means known to a ruthless foe; atrocities were committed which can only be accounted for as accumulations of "wrath against the day of wrath," wherein brothers were slain by each other, and flesh was pitted against its kin.
Colonel Zebulon Butler collected his scattered and broken remnants, and united them to a detachment of the continental army: with this force he repossessed himself of the valley, the British commander having retired to Niagara, and the Indians to their homes.
Other minor affairs were enacted on the same ground before the close of the Revolutionary War, while the dispute over the land title was not settled until many years later, after much more strife of the kind already mentioned.
At the time of the invasion of Wyoming, Brant was probably the most noted Indian in America. As a powerful auxiliary of the Crown, he had been encouraged by praise and laudation, until in England, as well as here, his name was a symbol which expressed in a breath everything connected with the parts played by the Indians in the military operations of the times. Furthermore, he was known to have been a principal actor in many of the scenes which transpired upon territory immediately adjoining the Wyoming country.
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Thus it was both natural and easy to associate his name with every deed which was in any way obscure, just as Tecumseh and Sitting Bull, and other noted leaders, have been charged with the doings of those who were absent from them in person and purpose.
Immediately after the Wyoming affair, there went up a wail and a cursing from every Provincial hearthstone. "Mother" England caught up the sound, and echoed it back in the songs of her bards, and the lamentations of her statesmen and philosophers. So firmly were these impressions noted, that Thomas Campbell after a lapse of more than thirty years from the engagement, made a popular "hit" in the publication of his celebrated poem, entitled "Gertrude of Wyoming."
The poet made Brant the leader in this expedition, and heaped great obloguy upon his good name and character, for his more than savage barbarity on that occasion.
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The particular stanzas, wherein Thayendanegea was unjustly stigmatized are as follows:-
" ' But this is not the
time,' -he started up.
And smote his heart with woe-denouncing hand-
'This is no time to fill the joyous cup,
The mammoth comes-the foe-the monster Brant,
With all his howling, desolating band;
These eyes have seen their blade and burning pine
Awake, and watch tonight! or see no morning shine!'
"Scorning to wield the hatchet
for his tribe,
'Gainst Brant himself I went to battle forth:
Accursed Brant! he left of all my tribe
Nor man, nor child, nor thing of living birth.
No! not the dog that watched my household hearth
Escaped that night of blood, upon our plains!
All perished-I alone am left on earth!
To whom nor relative nor blood remains;
No, not a kindred drop that runs in human veins!"
This poem was not published until a year or two after the death of Captain Brant, but it gave great offence to his family and friends, who stoutly denied his connection with the Wyoming affair. His son and successor John Brant, visited England in 1821-22, and having procured the necessary documents to prove his father's innocence, he waited upon the distinguished author (Campbell) and obtained from him the following statement, which has been incorporated with the notes of every edition of the work since then:
"I took the character of Brant in the poem of 'Gertrude of Wyoming,' from the common histories of England, all of which represented him as a bloody and bad man even among savages, and chief agent in the horrible desolation of Wyoming.
Some years after this poem appeared, the son of brant, a most interesting and intelligent youth, came over to England; and I formed an acquaintance with him, on which I still look back with pleasure. He appealed to my sense of honour and justice, on his own part and that of his sister, to retract the unfair aspersions which, unconscious of their unfairness, I cast on his father's memory. He then referred me to documents which completely satisfied me that the common accounts of Brant's cruelties at Wyoming, which I found in books of travels and in Adolphus' and similar histories of England, were gross errors, and that in point of fact Brant was not even present at that scene of desolation. It is, unhappily, to Britons and Anglo-Americans that we must refer the chief blame in this horrible business. I published a letter expressing this belief in the New Monthly Magazine, in the year 1822, to which I must refer the reader if he has any curiosity on the subject, for an antidote to my fanciful description of Brant. Among other expressions to young Brant, I made use of the following words: Had I learned all this of your father, when I was writing my poem, he should not have figured in it as the hero of mischief.
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"It was but bare justice to say this much of a Mohawk Indian who spoke English eloquently, and was thought capable of having written a history of the Six Nations. I also learn that he often strove to mitigate the cruelty of Indian warfare. The name of Brant, therefore, remains in my poem a pure and declared character of fiction."
It has been reported that Campbell promised to expunge the objectionable lines, but he never did; and the somewhat obscure note is all the satisfaction ever given for a great wrong, as the poem lives through succeeding generations, while the note, if read at all, makes little impression, and is soon forgotten.
Much has been written and said concerning Brant's participation in the expedition against Wyoming. The efforts to establish his absence from that desolating scene were not made until after his death, or at least not until many years after the close of the revolutionary War, and of course were difficult to accomplish. The venerable Seneca chief, Kaoundoowand, commonly called Captain Pollard, was in the battle of Wyoming, and he declared most unequivocally that Brant Was not there. Several other survivors of that battle were equally positive in their assertions. The Indians were chiefly Senecas, and were lead by a chief named Gi-en-gwah-toh.
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The late Philip R. Frey, of Palatine, New York, was an ensign in H. B. M.'s Eighth Regiment; he served in the campaign and the battle of Wyoming, and bore uniform testimony that Brant was not there, neither were there any other chiefs of much notoriety with the Indians on that expedition. His statement was to the effect that one Captain Bird, of the Eighth, was the commander of the Indians, who united with a detachment of that regiment at Detroit, and proceeded to Niagara, where they were attached to Butler's Rangers.
Ensign Frey further states that "Bird had been engaged in a love affair at Detroit, but being very ugly, besides having a hair-lip, he was unsuccessful." The affair getting wind, his fellow-officers made themselves merry at his expense, and in order to drown his griefs in forgetfulness, he obtained permission to lead an expedition against the American frontier. After his union with Butler's forces, they arranged the expedition against Wyoming. Bird was cross and ill-natured during the whole march, and acted with foolhardiness at the battle."
Rarely indeed does it happen that history is more at fault in regard to facts than in the case of Wyoming. The remark may be applied to nearly every writer who has attempted to narrate the events connected with the invasion by Colonel John Butler. Ramsay, and Gordon, and Marshall, nay, the British historians themselves, have written gross exaggerations.... Other writers, of greater or less note, have gravely recorded the same fictions, adding, it is to be feared, enormities not even conveyed to them by tradition.......No regular troops surrendered, and all escaped who survived the battle on the 3rd. Equally untrue was the story of the burning of houses, barracks and forts, filled with women and children.
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"The population of the Wyoming settlements at the beginning of the war was about five thousand. Three companies of regular troops had been enlisted for the United States service, and their militia numbered eleven hundred men, capable of bearing arms. So prolific was their soil, and so well was it tilled, that they were enabled to furnish large supplies of provisions for the Provincial army." All these circumstances and conditions combined to make Wyoming a tempting objective point to those who has espoused the cause of its enemies.
Some demonstrations had been made during the summer of 1777, while St. Leger was besieging Fort Schuyler, but after some skirmishing with the inhabitants the invaders dispersed, yet the impression prevailed that there was mischief brewing, and the people were not altogether at ease, and in January, 1778, twenty-seven suspected inhabitants were arrested. Nine of these were discharged for want of evidence to warrant their detention; the remaining eighteen were sent to Hartford, in Connecticut, and imprisoned. The nine set at liberty immediately fled to the enemy, and were soon followed by others of their friends. It was but natural that these proceedings should still more embitter the feelings of the Loyalists against the Whigs, and the effect was soon perceptible in the behaviour of the Indians and their allies who patrolled the borders.
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"There is still another important correction to be made to the history of this battle, and that is in regard to the name and the just fame of Joseph Brant, whose character was blackened with all the infamy, both real and imaginary, connected with this expedition.
"Whether Captain Brant was at any time in company with this expedition is doubtful, but it is certain, according to every British and American authority, that he was not present at the battle, but that he was miles away at the time of its occurrence."
In the controversy which formerly existed over the correctness of various historic details, it was claimed by some that Brant's friends should prove for him an "alibi," i.e., show where he was, if not at Wyoming. This would be difficult indeed, if it was at all necessary. There is no doubt about Brant's being at or near Niagara when Butler and Bird planned the movement on Wyoming; it is equally certain that he was displeased with the position assigned him under those whom he chose to regard as inferiors, so far as that kind of fighting was concerned. This placed him in a semi-neutral frame of mind, so that he did not enter into the scheme with anything more than a show of acquiescence; he therefore took his own course, and followed the movement independently, over his old and familiar war-paths, until he arrived at, or in the vicinity of the indian towns on the Susquehanna, below Unadilla. By doing this he could co-operate with Colonel Butler without taking any active part in the battle proper, or being present personally. It is altogether probable that Brant commanded the "covering force," or rear ground, which never had occasion to enter the Wyoming Valley, in conjunction with the main body under Butler.
Those who insist upon making Brant a party to the bloody deeds at Wyoming, should in all fairness bring forward the evidence of his presence there, and if possible disprove the statements of Brant himself, and those who, by the absence of any authentic evidence to the contrary, he should at least be given the benefit of the grave and reasonable doubts which surround the popular and "poetic" charges against him.
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Brant's next exploit was at Andrustown, a small hamlet about six miles south-east of German Flats. This settlement consisted of seven families, planted upon a lot of one thousand acres. On the 18th of July, 1778, a small band of Indians, led by Brant in person, made a descent upon this little settlement and wiped it out of existence. A few people were killed, and the remainder carried into captivity. The object of the enemy appears to have been plunder. The news of this affair started a band of whigs from German Flats in pursuit of the enemy. They followed as far as Young's Settlement and abandoned the chase, but not until they had avenged the Andrustown raid by plundering and burning the property of two Loyalists named Young and Collyer.
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German Flats was the name of an extensive and populous settlement in the Mohawk Valley. It was the home of General Herkimer, and had been an important pioneer station for many years. At the close of August or early in September of this year (1778), this fine station was laid waste, and the buildings burned, and live stock driven off or killed; but two lives were lost, however. This dash was under the personal leadership of Captain Brant.
The next event in Brant's career as a warrior appears to have been in connection with the invasion of Cherry Valley, in November, 1778. This expedition, too, was organized at Niagara, at the instigation of Walter Butler (son of Colonel John Butler), and was placed under his command. Captain Brant, who, with his Indian warriors, had been employed on the Susquehanna during most of the summer, was on his return to winter quarters at Niagara. Meeting Butler with his forces, bearing an order for Brant to join the expedition with his force, brant was reluctant to do so, displeased at being placed under command of Walter Butler; but he was too much a soldier to refuse to obey orders.
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Colonel Ichabod Alden was in command of the post at cherry Valley, and had disregarded frequent warnings from the old frontier men who were with him. When the onset was made by the British and Indians, colonel Alden fell by the tomahawk of a warrior.
It is not necessary to recount the details of the attack on this station; it was another complete destruction of life and property accompanied by all the bloody and cruel particulars of these times. Brant's humanity was conspicuously displayed in the attack upon Cherry Valley, at which he was present, but was not in command.
History has recorded to the credit of Joseph Brant that on this occasion he exhibited traits of humanity which seemed to be wanting in some at least of the white men present. "In a house which he entered he found a woman engaged in her usual avocations. 'Why are you thus engaged?' said Brant to her, 'while your neighbours are being murdered all around you?' 'We are king's people,' she replied. ' That plea will not avail you to-day. They have murdered Mr. Well's family, who are as dear to me as my own. 'There is one Joseph Brant,' she said, 'if he is with the Indians he will save us.' 'I am Joseph Brant,' he said, 'but I have not the command, and I know not whether I can save you. But I will do what I can.' While speaking, several Senecas were observed approaching the house. 'Get into bed and feign yourself sick,' said Brant, hastily. When the Senecas came in, he told them there was no person there but a sick woman and her children, and besought them to leave the house, which after a short consultation, they did. As soon as they were out of sight Brant went to the corner of the house and gave a long shrill yell. Soon a small band of Mohawks were seen crossing an adjoining field with great speed. As they came up, he addressed them: 'Where is your paint? Here, put my mark on this woman.' As soon as it was done, he added, 'You are now probably safe.'"
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The reader will remember the letter which Captain McKean had left in the Indian trail, inviting Brant to visit cherry Valley, and get himself transformed into a "goose."
After the battle was over, Brant inquired of one of the captives for Captain McKean, who was absent at the time of the attack. "He sent me a challenge once. I have now come to accept it; he is a fine soldier to retreat thus. ....He is a brave man, and I would have given more to have taken him than any man in Cherry Valley; but I would not have hurt a hair of his head."
The following letter from Brant to Parcifer Carr, written in July previous to the capture of Cherry Valley, is interesting in this connection, while it exhibits, probably a fair specimen of his epistolary style:-
"Sir,-I understand by the Indians that was at your house last week, that one Smith lives near you, has little more corn to spare. I should be much obliged to you if you would be so kind as to try to get as much corn as Smith can spared. He has sent me five skipples already, of which I am much obliged to him, and will see him paid, and would be very glad if you could spare one or two of your men to join us, especially Elias. I would be glad to see him, and I wish you could sent me as many guns as you have to spare, as I know you have no use for them; as I mean now to fight the cruel rebels as well as I can; whatever you will able to sent'd me, you must sent'd by the bearer. "I am your sincere friend and humble ser't' "
P.S.- I heard that Cherry Valley people is very bold, and intend to make nothing of us. They call us WILD GEESE, but I know the contrary."
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Minisink, Orange County, New York, was the scene of Brant's next performance. On the night of July 19, 1779, the crafty Mohawk stole upon the slumbering town, at the head of sixty Indians and twenty-seven Loyalists; such was the silence of their approach, that several houses were in flames before the inhabitants were fairly awakened. Ten houses and barns were burnt. Many persons were killed, and others carried away captive. The usual desolation was spread over the whole settlement, after which Brant and his forces made a hasty retreat. They were followed by a force of militia, which overtook them the next day, and a desperate fight ensued; the militia were defeated, and most of them killed. Major Wood, of Orange County, was made a prisoner, but saved his life by using a masonic sign, which Brant promptly recognized; Wood pledged his word to Brant that he would not attempt to escape, if permitted to go without being tied. That night he was placed between two Indians and told that if he tried to escape he would be tomahawked instanter; during the night his blanket took fire, and he dared not put it out for fear of a "jolt" on the head; finally when it burned up to his feet he kicked it out. It was Brant's blanket. Brant treated him rather harshly after, and when Wood asked him the reason, he replied, "D--n you! you burnt my blanket." The truth was that Wood had made a fraudulent use of his knowledge of freemasonry, and Brant knew it. That was probable what ailed the blanket.
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The prisoner finally returned in safety, after a long captivity. He afterwards joined the freemasons, and lived many years as an influential citizen and public official of Orange County.
From Minisink Brant made a rapid movement, and fell upon a settlement on the south side of the Mohawk River, where, on the 2nd of August, he made a few prisoners. The name of one of them was House, who soon became too lame to continue the journey. The Indians proposed to kill him, but Brant interposed, and the prisoner's life was spared; he ultimately returned to his friends.
In the summer of 1779, the American forces, commanded by Generals Clinton and Sullivan, were ordered to make an aggressive expedition against the Seneca country. The two armies united at Tioga, New York, on the 22nd of August, and advanced upon the British and Indians, who were established at Newtown (nw called Elmira). At this point a severe engagement took place, which resulted in the defeat of the Royal forces. The Indians in this battle were commanded by Brant in person, who conducted them with great skill and bravery. This affair is generally known as the battle of Chemung.
Shortly after this, Brant's party captured Lieutenant Boyd of the American army, who fell into the hands of the Indians at Beardstown on the Genesee River.
Brant interceded and saved the officer's life, but he was subsequently executed after the Indian fashion, by order of one of the Butlers during the absence of Brant on other duty. The campaign of General Sullivan against the Senecas, in 1779, proved very disastrous to the Indians. Although vigorously opposed by all the available British force, both English and Indian, Sullivan penetrated into the Senecas' country, destroying their towns, and all their property and provisions, and driving the Indians under the protection of the guns of Fort Niagara. Capt. Brant accompanied the expedition from Niagara against Gen. Sullivan, having the immediate command of the Indians, and again distinguished himself by his valour and humanity.
The winter of 1779-80 was one of extraordinary severity. The snow fell to the depth of eight feet over all Western New York and in Canada. The Indians suffered greatly by sickness and destitution. Numbers died from exposure and starvation, and the carcasses of dead animals were so numerous in the forests the next summer, as to fill the atmosphere with the pestiferous odour of their decaying bodies. Capt. Brant returned to Niagara, and took up his winter quarters with Col. Guy Johnson, the Butlers- father and son- and other officers of the Indian Department.
About this time Brant and his Indians made an expedition against the Oneida Indians, which tribe had refused to join the Mohawks in behalf of the King. Their castle was invaded, their crops destroyed, and they were thrown upon the United States for provisions and shelter.
Aside from the destruction of the Oneida country, it is believed that brant undertook no important expedition during the winter of 1780.
The month of April found him on the war-path, at the head of a small party of Loyalists and Indians, whom he led against Harpersfield, which was taken by surprise and entirely destroyed.
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Proceeding from Harpersfield, it was Brant's design to make an attack upon the upper fort of Schoharie, but this part of his project was prevented by an unexpected occurrence. Capt. Alexander Harper, the ancestor of the Harper Brothers, the well known publishers, had been sent out with a small party of men to keep an outlook over certain parties, and at the same time to make a quantity of maple sugar, of which the garrison were much in need.
Brant, in wending his way from Harpersfield to Schoharie, fell suddenly upon Harper and his party, and immediately surrounded them; so silent and cautious had been the approach of the enemy that the first admonition Harper received of their presence was the death of three of his little band, who were stricken down while engaged at their work.
Capt. Brant knew Capt. Harper well, and on recognizing him among the prisoners, rushed up to him, tomahawk in hand, and said, "Harper I am sorry to find you here." "Why are you sorry, Capt. Brant?" "Because," rejoined Brant, " I must kill you, although we were schoolmates when we were boys." As scalps were much easier carried to Niagara than prisoners, the Indians were for putting the prisoners to death, but Brant's influence was exerted successfully to prevent the massacre. When they arrived at the Genesse river and encamped for the night, Capt. Brant dispatched a runner to Niagara with information of his approach, and the number of his prisoners. His friend, Capt. Powell, who married Miss Moore, the Cherry Valley captive, was at the fort. Capt. Brant knew that Capt. Harper was uncle to Miss Moore, now Mrs. Powell, and it had been agreed, in consideration of sparing their lives, that on arrival at the fort the prisoners should go through the customary Indian ordeal of running the gauntlet. Before arriving at the fort two Indian encampments had to be passed; but on emerging from the woods and approaching the first, what was the surprise of the prisoners and the chagrin of their captors, at finding the warriors absent, and their places filled by a regiment of British soldiers. A few Indian boys and some old women only were visible, who offered some violence to the prisoners, which was quickly suppressed by the soldiers. At the second encampment nearest the fort, they found the warriors absent also, and their place occupied by another regiment of troops. Capt. Brant led his prisoners directly through the dreaded encampments, and brought them in safety into the fort. The solution of this escape from the gauntlet was, that Capt. Powell had, at the suggestion of Capt. brant, enticed the warriors away to the "Nine-mile Landing" for a frolic, the means for holding it being furnished from the public stores. Colonel Harper was most agreeably surprised at escaping the gauntlet with his party, and at being met by his niece, the wife of one of the principal officers in command of the post. Harper knew nothing of her marriage, or even of her being at Niagara, Capt. Brant having kept it a secret from him. he was held as a prisoner of war for a long period, but was finally exchanged and returned to his friends.
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Brant's next expedition was against the Sangerites settlements. This was in May, 1780. It was upon this occasion that Captain Jeremiah Snider and his son, of Sangerites N. Y., with others, were taken prisoners. Those prisoners were taken over the same route as Capt. Harper and his party, but did not escape as fortunately when they arrived at Niagara, as they had to run the gauntlet between long lines of Indian warriors, women and children. But their captors interposed to prevent injury. Capt. Snider, in his narrative of this event, describes Fort Niagara as a structure of considerable magnitude and great strength, enclosing an area of from six to eight acres. Within the enclosure was a handsome dwelling house for the residence of the Superintendent of Indians. It was then occupied by Col. Guy Johnson, before whom the captain and his son were brought for examination. Col. John Butler, with his Rangers, lay upon the opposite side of the river. Capt. Snider describes Gen. Johnson as being "a short, pussy man, about forty years of age, of a stern, haughty demeanour, dressed in a British uniform, powdered locks and cocked hat, his voice harsh, and his brogue that of a gentleman of Irish extraction." While in the guardhouse the prisoners were visited by Capt. brant, of whom Capt. Snider says, "He was a likely fellow of fierce aspect, tall and rather spare, well spoken, and apparently about thirty years of age." (He was actually thirty-seven.) "He wore moccasins elegantly trimmed with beads, leggins and breech-cloth, of superfine blue; short green coat, with two silver epaulettes, and a small laced, round hat. By his side hung an elegant silver-mounted cutlass, and his blanket of blue cloth, purposely dropped in the chair on which he sat to display his epaulettes, was gorgeously decorated with a border of red. He asked the prisoners many questions; indeed, the object of their capture seems to have been principally for the purpose of obtaining information." Upon being informed where they were from Capt. Brant replied, "That is my old fighting ground." In the course of the conversation Brant said to the younger Snider, "You are young, and I pity you; but for that old villain there," pointing to the father, " I have no pity."
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On the 2nd of August, 1780, Brant again made his appearance in the Mohawk Valley; the south side of the river, for several miles, was completely devastated; the town of Canajoharie was burned, its inhabitants carried off or killed, and their property destroyed. In accomplishing this work Brant had outflanked the American officer. The result was deplorable enough; but it added another plume to the crest of "the Great Captain of the Six Nations."
The 16th of October, 1780, was made memorable by the invasion of the Schoharie country. The expedition was successful to the British arms. In this movement Brant was the leader of the Indians, and several anecdotes concerning his personal actions, in connection with the affair, are found here and there. Among the captures made by him at that place was a man named Vrooman, with whom he had been formerly acquainted. He concluded to give Vrooman his liberty, and after they had proceeded several miles he sent Vrooman back about two miles alone, ostensibly to procure some birch bark, expecting of course to see no more of him. After several hours Vrooman came hurrying back with the bark, which the Captain no more wanted than he did a pair of goggles. Brant said he sent his prisoner back on purpose to afford him an opportunity to escape, but he was so big a fool he did not know it, and that consequently he was compelled to take him along to Canada. Those who study the details of the history of that period will find much more concerning the Vrooman family, of which no less than six or seven were made prisoners at one time or another.
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After the close of the war Captain Brant visited Hudson, New York; he was waited upon by many old acquaintances, and among the rest was a loquacious Dutchman who had known him before the Revolution. In a boasting and rather uncivil way the dutchman told him if he had met him in the border wars he would have put an end to his career. Brant parried the attack with a pleasant anecdote. "And if you had met me," said he, "it would have been with you just as it was with your neighbour----. He had boasted just as you are boasting now. In a skirmish I happened to meet him; he took to his heels, and hardly stopped to take a breath until he arrived in Albany, where a fire had just broken out, and the Dutchmen were in the streets, crying 'Braunt! braunt!" (fire! fire!). Stopping short, he exclaimed in amazement, 'The d----d Indian has got here before me!" This story is supposed to be founded upon an incident of this campaign, but whether it occurred in the Schoharie or Mohawk Valley, both of which were devastated, it is not known.
The British forces were finally met by a body of American troops under General Van Rensselaer, and a battle was fought at Flock's Field, in which engagement the Americans were victorious and the invading allies were obliged to make a rapid retreat from the valley with General Rensselaer pushing after them. At Fort Hunter the plundered inhabitants crowded around him with their tales of loss or grief. Among them was a woman whose husband and other relatives were missing. She was in an agony of grief over the loss of her infant, which had been snatched from the cradle. Early next a young Indian warrior came bounding into the room like a stag; he bore an infant in his arms, and with it a letter addressed "to the Commanding Officer of the Rebel Army." The letter was substantially as follows: "Sir,- I send by one of my runners the child which he will deliver, that you may know that whatever others may do, I do not make war upon women and children." The letter was from Thayendanegea, and the baby was none other than that of the disconsolate mother who has been mentioned. In this engagement Brant was wounded in the heel, but not seriously enough to prevent his escape. Concerning this little circumstance several absurd anecdotes have been narrated by careless or misinformed writers. One of these stories was to the effect that Brant despatched an American prisoner who was in conversation with Col. Johnson at the time, and that his heel felt easier for the deed.
The close of the season of 1780 found Capt. Brant in his old winter quarters at fort Niagara, with Col. Butler and Col. Guy Johnson. The forces at Niagara were stated at this time to consist of sixty British regulars, commanded by a captain; four hundred Loyalists, commanded by Col. John Butler; twelve hundred Indians, including women and children, commanded by Guy Johnson and Capt. Joseph Brant. The particular parts enacted by Captain Brant during the continuance of the Revolutionary struggle were in no way different from those already recorded; he was active, able and successful in all undertook in behalf of the Royal cause. In the spring of 1781 an expedition against the revolted Oneidas in the Mohawk Valley was planned under the approbation of Gen. Haldimand, to be commanded by Brant, but for some unexplained reason was never executed. Vigourous incursions were kept up by small parties of Loyalists and Indians during the season, sometimes under Capt. Brant but often under the command of others. This state of things continued with varying fortunes until the news of an agreement for the cessation of hostilities between the United States and Great Britain was received.
After the cessation of active operations, Thayendanegea turned his attention to the pressing needs of his people, as will be more fully treated of further on. The end of the Revolutionary War, properly so called did not terminate the military career of Captain Brant, but, on the other hand, bid fair at one time to extend his fame as the chieftain of the united tribes of North America. Not only the greater part of the Six Nations, but a majority of the tribes of the west and north-west, had been friendly to the British cause during the war; and when a principal portion of the lands of these Indians was conveyed by treaty to their late enemy, the United States, they very naturally manifested much discontent, more especially as Britain had, for some unexplained cause, neglected to make any provision for them in her treaty worth the new-fledged Republic.
Among prominent Indian characters of that period were Red Jacket, Corn Planter, Black Hoof, and many others of lesser note, but above all these towered the consummate genius of Joseph Thayendanegea; the eyes of his race seemed to be turned towards him as their deliverer from the fate of banishment from the hunting grounds of their fathers. Brant has been charged with being ambitious for the leadership of a confederacy of all the principal Indian tribes, but the facts, which are too numerous to relate in this connection, do not warrant so strong a conclusion. The Indian war, which followed in a few years after the War of the Revolution, was waged by the combined tribes of the old North-West Territory against the United States for the purpose of resisting the tide of emigration which began to roll westward over their country upon the approach of peace.
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That Brant was both an active and an influential agent in those well known campaigns is undisputed. He visited England in December, 1785, and it has been frequently asserted that his mission there was to secure the co-operation of the British Government in conducting these campaigns; while the result demonstrated that he was in a measure successful, yet there was no open declaration of such a purpose. He returned to America in 1786, probably in July, and devoted himself to various matters pertaining to the Six Nations in particular, and to his scheme for a confederation generally. In the last-named interest he was much absorbed, and was present at many of the more important councils and treaty meetings which were held throughout the west. It is not known that he was personally engaged in any of the battles of that bloody frontier conflict across the lakes, but many of his Mohawk warriors were. Efforts were made to secure peace by both the Government of Great Britain and that of the United States, and the acknowledged ability and influence of Captain Brant was sought by both, and led to an active and extensive correspondence with the officers and agents of both Governments. Early in 1792 Captain Brant was invited to visit the city of Philadelphia, the then seat of Government of the United States. The newspapers in New York announced his arrival in that in the following terms: "On Monday last arrived in this city from his settlement on the Grand River, on a visit to some of his friends in this quarter, Captain Joseph Brant, of the British army, the famous Mohawk chief, who so eminently distinguished himself during the late war, as the military leader of the Six Nations. We are informed that he intends to visit the city of Philadelphia," which he did in June, 1792, and was received by the President of the United States with cordiality and respect. There is no doubt that strenuous efforts were made at this time to engage his active interposition with the Indians to bring about peace, and also to conciliate his friendship to the United States. Although nothing could divert him from his loyalty to the Government of his choice, yet the visit seems to have given mutual satisfaction to himself and the President. The Secretary of War wrote to General Chapin, U.S. Superintendent of Indian Affairs, as follows: "Captain Brant's visit will, I flatter myself, be productive of great satisfaction to himself, by being made acquainted with the humane views of the President of the United States." The Secretary also wrote to General Clinton: " Captain Brant appears to be a judicious and sensible man. I flatter myself his journey will be satisfactory to himself and beneficial to the United States." Still, however, the war raged until the victorious arms of general Wayne, in August, 1794, compelled the Indians to surrender all hope of holding their coveted territory. In the language of Captain Brant, in one of his speeches delivered long afterwards: "The Indians, convinced by those in the Miami Fort and other circumstances, that they were mistaken in their expectations of any assistance from Great Britain, did not longer oppose the Americans with their wanted unanimity. The consequence was that General Wayne induced them to hold a treaty at his own headquarters, in which he concluded a peace entirely on his own terms." With this event the career of the great Mohawk chieftain as a warrior ended.
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BRANT'S CIVIL CAREER
When the Mohawks first abandoned their native valley to join the British standard, Sir Guy Carleton had given a pledge that as soon as the war was ended they should be restored, at the expense of the government, to the condition they were in before the contest began. In April, 1770, Gen. Haldimand, then Commander-in-Chief in Canada, ratified the promise of his predecessor, pledging himself under hand and seal, so far as in him lay, to its faithful execution, "when that happy time should come." Long before the close of the Revolutionary War, the Mohawks, with their Loyalist neighbours in the Valley of the Mohawk, had fled to Canada. Their beautiful country, together with that of their brethren of the Six Nations, had been desolated by the ravages of fire and sword. At the close of the war the Mohawks were temporarily residing on the American side of the Niagara River, at what was then called "The Landing," now called Lewiston. Their brethren, the Senecas, offered them a portion of their lands upon the Genesee River. But as captain Brant said, "The Mohawks were determined to sink or swim with the English;" the generous offer of the Senecas was declined; and the Mohawk chief proceeded to Quebec to arrange for the settlement of his people in the royal dominions. A tract of land upon the Bay of Quinte was designated for their settlement. But upon the return of Captain Brant to his people, the location was unsatisfactory to their brethren, the Senecas, who, apprehending that their troubles with the United States were not at an end, desired their settlement near the Seneca territory. Under these circumstances, Captain brant convened a council of his people, and the country upon the "Ouse," or Grand River, was selected, lying upon both sides of that stream from its mouth upon Lake Erie, to its head; which was conveyed to the Mohawks, and others of the Six Nations who chose to settle there, by a formal grant from the Crown. It was at this period that Brant resolved to visit England a second time, for the purpose of perfecting all necessary plans for the settlement of his people on the soil where he had so faithfully served to maintain the honour of the British flag. Sir John Johnson, who had visited England immediately after the war, returned to Canada during the summer of 1785. He seems to have been charged with the settlement of the Indian claims, but accomplished nothing to their satisfaction. Johnson was strongly opposed to Brant's mission across the Atlantic, and wrote, on the 6th of November, strongly dissuading him from the undertaking. But the chief was not to be diverted from his purpose, and he sailed in time to arrive about the 12th of December. A notice of his arrival in Salisbury was published in London, in December, 1785. His reception at the British capital was all that he could wish. He was treated with the highest consideration and distinction. Many officers of the army whom he had met in America recognized him with great cordiality. His arrival was thus announced: "Monday last, Captain Joseph Brant, the celebrated King of the Mohawks, arrived in this city from America; and after dining with Colonel De Peister at the headquarters here, proceeded immediately to London. This extraordinary personage is said to have presided at the late grand congress of confederate chiefs of the Indian nations in America, to be by them appointed to the conduct and chief command in the war which they now mediate against the United States of America. He took his departure for England immediately as that assembly broke up, and it is conjectured that his embassy to the British Court is of great importance. This country owes much to the services of Captain Brant during the late war in America. He was educated at Philadelphia; is a very shrewd, intelligent person, possesses great courage and abilities as a warrior, and is inviolably attached to the British nation." The Baroness Riedesel thus speaks of him, having meet him at the provincial court: " I saw at times the famous Indian chief, Captain Brant. His manners were polished, he expressed himself with fluency, and was much esteemed by Gen. Haldimand. I dined once with him at the General's. In his dress he showed off to advantage in the half-military, half-savage costume. His countenance was manly and intelligent, and his disposition mild."
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Many little incidents which occurred during this second visit to the British capital, have furnished the basis for several anecdotes of Brant. Preliminary to his introduction to the King, he was receiving instructions in regard to the customary ceremonies to be observed. When he was informed that he was to salute his Majesty by dropping on the knee and kissing the King's hand, Brant objected to this part of the ceremony, saying if it was a lady it would be a pleasant and proper thing to do; but that he, being himself a king in his own country, thought it derogatory to his dignity, and contrary to his sense of propriety, to perform such a servile act. During his stay in London, a grand fancy dress ball, or masquerade, was gotten up and numerously attended by the nobility and gentry. Captain Brant was also present, richly dressed in the costume of his nation, wearing no mask, but painting one half of his face. His plumes nodded proudly in his head-dress, and his silver-mounted tomahawk glittered in his girdle. There was likewise present a stately Turkish diplomat of rank, whose attention was particularly attracted by the chieftain's singular and, as he supposed fantastic attire. The pageant was brilliant, but amongst the whole motley throng of pilgrims, warriors, hermits, shepherds, knights, damsels and gipsies, there was, to the eyes of the Mussulman, no character so picturesque and striking as that of the Mohawk, which being natural, appeared to be the best make up. The Turk scrutinized the chief very closely, and at last attempted to handle his nose. In an instant Brant, who had watched the prying eyes of the Oriental, and was in the mood for some fun, raised the war-whoop and brandished his tomahawk over the astounded Mussulman's head. Such a piercing and frightful cry had never before rung through those halls; there was a general scramble of all hands to fly from the blood-curdling scene-it is said that some of the affrighted ones even tumbled down stairs in their confusion. The matter was explained, and was accounted a good incident in the affairs of the evening.
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But neither the pleasures of society, nor the special business of his mission, nor yet the views of political ambition which he was cherishing at the time, made him forgetful of the moral wants of his people. He had found time to translate the Gospel of Mark into the Mohawk language; and as most of the Indian Prayer and Psalm Books had been destroyed during the war, he assisted in bringing out a new and superior edition of that work. After accomplishing much of what he desired in England, he returned to his people in the early part of the year 1786. In the grant of the land to the Mohawks, such other of the Six nations as were inclined to make their settlement upon it were included. This led to some difficulty and dissatisfaction, by the intrusion of individuals of the Six Nations who did not fully sympathize with the Mohawks in their loyalty to the British Government. The whole weight of these difficulties seemed to fall upon Captain Brant; and his friends were at one time anxious not only for his personal safety, but also for his popularity and influence. But he ably sustained and defended himself, and his conduct was approved by a full council of the Six Nations at Niagara. About this time he was engaged n various matters connected with the general policy of the Indians of the north and west, which has been mentioned under the title of his military experience.
A change in the Government of Canada about this time brought new men and new measures upon the stage of action. Col. J. G. Simcoe was appointed Lieut.-Governor. The new Governor brought out letters of introduction to the Mohawk chief. They became fast friends, and in all the peace negotiations with the Western Indians, Capt. Brant became an active participant in the interests of the Government of Great Britain. The beautiful tract of country upon the Grand River, which had been designated for the settlement of the Mohawks, attracted the cupidity of white men, as their equally beautiful country in the Valley of the Mohawk and western New York had done before; and Capt. Brant exerted his influence with his people to induce them to exchange their hunting for agriculture. In furtherance of this idea, he conceived the plan of making sales and leases of land to skilled white agriculturists. But the Colonial Government interposed objections, claiming that the donation from Government was only a right of occupancy and not of sale. Capt. Brant combated this idea, but was overruled by the officers of the Government, including his friend, Gov. Simcoe. Very general dissatisfaction seems to have prevailed among the Indians in regard to the legal construction of the title to their lands, and attempts were made to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the difficulty, but with indifferent success. Capt. Brant was anxious to encourage and promote the civilization of his people; and in his negotiations with Gen. Haldimand, stipulated for the erection of a church, which was built upon their lands upon the Grand River, and furnished with a bell and communion service brought from their former home in the Valley of the Mohawk. This church is believed to be the first temple erected for the worship of Almighty God in the Province of Upper Canada. It is fully mentioned elsewhere in this work. The controversy was long and determined on both sides. It resulted in the confirmation by the Government of the sales and leases made by Brant, in many cases at least; but the Indians were not granted the title to their lands in fee simple. They could hold and use them, but could not deed them away without the consent of the Government. Capt. Brant continued to be the unyielding advocate of the rights of his people, as an independent nation, to their lands, to the end of his life. His views, and the arguments by which he sustained them, may be gathered from an extract of a speech which he delivered at a meeting of chiefs and warriors at Niagara, before Col. sheafe, Col. Claus and others, on the occasion of a Government proclamation forbidding the sale and leasing of any of their lands by the Indians. "In the year 1775," said he, "Lord Dorchester, then Sir Guy Carleton, at a numerous council, gave us every encouragement, and requested us to assist in defending their country, and to take an active part in defending His Majesty's possessions, stating that when the happy day of peace should arrive, and should we not prove successful in the contest, that he would put us on the same footing on which we stood previous to joining him. This flattering promise was pleasing to us, and gave us spirit to embark heartily in His Majesty's cause. We took it for granted that the word of so great a man, or any promise of a public nature, would ever be held sacred. We were promised our lands for our services, and these lands we were to hold on the same footing with those we fled from at the commencement of the American war, when we joined, fought and bled in your cause. Now is published a proclamation forbidding us leasing those very lands that were positively given us in lieu of those of which we were the sovereigns of the soil, of those we have forsaken, we sold, we leased, and we gave away, when as as often as we saw fit, without hindrance on the part of your Government, for your Government well knew we were the lawful sovereigns of the soil, and they had no right to interfere with us as independent nations." Capt. Brant entered into an extensive correspondence with his friends, men of distinction both in the United States and England, principally in regard to the title of the lands of his people, and their settlement and civilization, an object which seemed to lie very near his heart.
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Among the other vexations which beset his efforts were the machinations of "Red Jacket," a sort of nondescript chief of the Senecas. This pretender appears to have been a tool in the hands of speculators to undermine the influence and authority of Thayendanegea, but the scheme failed, and its instigator appears to have passed into oblivion with his base designs. Brant was again vindicated, and from that time until his decease he was the undisputed head of all the tribes of the Six Nations.
Among the strongest efforts of Brant's life were the exertions made by him to provide for the Christianizing of the pagan individuals of his people. His correspondence in relation to the settlement of a missionary at Grand River, shows that he considered it of great importance to the realization of his wishes, in regard to the moral and spiritual interests of his people. He was opposed in this matter, but finally succeeded in procuring the settlement of the Rev. Davenport Phelps, who had married a daughter of the Rev. Dr. Wheelock, the early friend and preceptor of Capt. Brant. Mr. Phelps was a graduate of Yale College, and became a missionary of the Episcopal Church in Western New York. He was ordained in Trinity Church, New York, in December, 1801, and immediately entered upon the active duties of a missionary. He had settled in the Province of Upper Canada; his residence being upon a farm near Burlington Bay, at the head of Lake Ontario. Captain Brant urged him to accept a lot of land near the Mohawk village on Grand River, but he declined the offer, and in 1805 he removed his family from Canada to Onondaga, N. Y., and subsequently to Geneva, N. Y., where he died.
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From Welds' "Travels through the States of North America," 1795 to 1797, the subjoined extract is made, as illustrating the character of the chief, in addition to what has already been said:- "When the war broke out the Mohawks resided on the Mohawk River in the State of New York, but on the peace being made, they emigrated into Upper Canada, and their principal village is now situated on the Grand River, which falls into Lake Erie on the north side, about sixty miles from the town of Newark, or Niagara. There Brant at present resides. He has built a comfortable habitation for himself, and any stranger who visits him may rest assured of being well received, and of finding a plentiful table well served every day. He has no less than thirty or forty negroes, who attend to his horses, cultivate the grounds, &c., &c. These poor creatures are kept in the greatest subjection, and they dare not attempt to make their escape, for he has assured them that if they did so, he would follow them himself though it were to the confines of Georgia, and would tomahawk them whenever he met them. They know his disposition too well not to think that he would adhere strictly to his word. Brant receives from government half-pay as captain, besides annual presents, &c., which in all amounts, it is said, to five hundred pounds per annum. We had no small curiosity, as you may well imagine, to see this Brant, and we procured letters of introduction to him from the Governor's secretary, and from different officers and gentlemen of his acquaintance, with an intention of proceeding from Newark to his village. Most unluckily, however, on the day before that of our arrival at the town of Newark, he had embarked on board a vessel for Kingston at the opposite end of the lake. You may judge of Brant's consequence, when I tell you that a lawyer of Niagara, who crossed Lake Ontario with us from Kingston, where he had been detained for some time by contrary winds, informed us the day after our arrival at Niagara, that by not having reached that place in time to transact some law business for Mr. Brant, and which had consequently been given to another person, he should be the loser of one hundred pounds at least. Brant's sagacity led him early in life to discover that the Indians had been made the dupe of every foreign power that had gained footing in America, and indeed could he have any doubts on the subject they would have been removed when he saw the British, after having demanded and received the assistance of the Indians in the American war, so unjustly and ungenerously yield up the whole Indian territories east of the Mississippi and south of the lakes, to the people of the United States, the very enemies, in short, they had made to themselves at the request of the British. He perceived with regret that the Indians, by espousing the quarrels of the whites and espousing different interests, were weakening themselves, whereas, if they remained aloof, guided by one policy, they would soon become formidable, and be treated with more respect. he formed the bold scheme therefore of uniting the Indians together in one grand confederacy, and for this purpose he sent messengers to different chiefs, proposing that a general meeting should be held of the heads of every tribe to take the subject into consideration. But certain of the tribes, suspicious of Brant's designs, and fearful that he was bent upon acquiring power for himself by this measure, opposed it with all their influence. Brant has, in consequence, become extremely obnoxious to many of the most warlike, and with such a jealous eye do they now regard him, that it would not be perfectly safe for him to return to the upper country. He has managed the affairs of his own people with great ability, and leased out their superfluous lands for them for long terms of years, by which measures a certain annual revenue is insured to the nation. He wisely judged that it was much better to do so than to suffer the Mohawks, as many other tribes had done, to sell their possessions by piecemeal, the sums of money they received for which, however great, would soon be dissipated if paid to them at once.
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During the last few years of his life, Brant had many journeys to perform- to the Lower Province, in the interests of his own people; to the Upper Lakes, to keep the chain of friendship with his old confederates from becoming rusty; to Canandaigua and elsewhere, upon matters of business and friendship. In 1797 he made another visit to Albany and Philadelphia, striking into New England by way of New York on his return. While in Philadelphia he was made the especial guest of the celebrated Colonel Aaron Burr, who had been in correspondence with him previous to his arrival. On leaving Philadelphia for New York, Colonel Burr gave the chief a letter of introduction to his youthful and gifted daughter, Theodosia, afterwards Mrs. Aliston. For the purpose of showing the estimation in which Brant was held by so distinguished a gentleman as Aaron Burr undoubtedly was, the letter above mentioned is here given: "PHILADELPHIA, February 28, 1797, -This will be handed to you by Colonel Brant, the celebrated Indian chief. I am sure that you and Natalie will be happy in the opportunity of seeing a man so much renowned. He is a man of education, speaks and writes the English perfectly, and has seen much of Europe and America. Receive him with respect and hospitality. He is not one of those Indians who drink rum, but is quite a gentleman; not one who will make fine bows, but one who understands and practises what belongs to propriety and good breeding. He has daughters; if you could think of some little present to send to one of them- a pair of ear-rings, for example- it would please him. You may talk to him very freely, and offer to introduce him to your friend, Mr. Witbeck, of Albany. Vale, et amo.- A. B." Miss Theodosia entertained the forest chief with all the courtesy suggested by her father, as is evidenced by her letters to him immediately after Brant's departure. His stay in New York was pleasant enough, as it also was in New England, but in Albany he was treated rather coolly, and even threatened with violence. On this account Governor Jay directed a guard detailed, which escorted him through the Mohawk Valley, on his way to Upper Canada.
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The correspondence of Brant, after his retirement from military to civil life, besides that pertaining to the current business which engaged much of his attention with literary and scientific men, was considerable. His replies to letters of this class show him to have been a man of deep reflection, independent thought, and of intelligence above most of the white men of his time, and are characterized by good common sense. The education of his children seems never to have been lost sight of amid all the cares and perplexities of his public life.
The following letter, written by Capt. Brant to James Wheelock, son of the president of Dartmouth College, his former preceptor in the Moor Charity School, will best illustrate his view of that subject:
" Dear Sir,- Although it is a long time since I have had the pleasure of seeing you, still I have not forgot there is such a person in being, and now embrace the kind offer you once made me in offering to take charge of my son Joseph, whom I certainly at that time should have sent out, had it not been that there were apparently a jealousy existing between the British and Americans; however, I hope it is not yet too late. I send both my sons Joseph and Jacob, who I doubt not will be particularly attended to by my friends. I could wish them to be studiously attended to, not only as to their education, but likewise to their morals in particular. This is, no doubt, needless mentioning, as I know of old, and from personal experience at your seminary that these things are paid strict attention to. Let my sons be at what schools soever, your overseeing them will be highly flattering to me. I should, by this opportunity, have wrote Mr. John Wheelock on the same subject, but a hurry of business at this time prevents me. I shall hereafter take the first opportunity of dropping him a few lines. Until then, please make my best respects to him, and earnestly solicit his friendship and attention to my boys, which be assured of, I shall ever gratefully acknowledge.
"I am, Dear Sir, wishing you and your family health and Happiness,
"Your friend and well-wisher,
"To JAMES WHEELOCK."
The tow boys, Jacob and Joseph, were sent to school at Hanover, and prosecuted their studies quite to the satisfaction of their teachers, exhibiting not only excellent capacity and diligence, but good deportment, and great amiability of character. Unfortunately a difficulty sprang up between the boys, which resulted in Joseph leaving the school and returning to his parents. Jacob remained a while longer, when he to visited home, but subsequently returned to the school to resume his studies. On the occasion of his son's return, Captain Brant writes to his friend, Mr. James Wheelock, the following Letter:
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"Niagara, 14th December 1802.
"My Dear Sir,- I received your very polite and friendly letter by my son Jacob, and am very much obliged to you, your brother, and all friends, for the great attentions that have been paid to both of my sons, and to Capt. Dunham for the great care he took of Jacob on the journey.
"My son would have returned to you long before this but for a continued sickness in the family, which brought Mrs. Brant very low.
"My son Jacob and several of the children are very ill. My sons returns to be under the care of the President, and I sincerely hope he will pay such attention to his studies as will do credit to himself and be a comfort to his friends. The horse that Jacob rides out I wish to be got in good order, after he arrives, and sold, as an attentive scholar has no time to ride about. Mrs. Brant joins me in the most affectionate respects to you and Mrs. Wheelock.
"I am Dear Sir, with great respect,
"Your sincere friend and humble servant,
"TO JAMES WHEELOCK, ESQ."
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The following extract from a book entitled, "Travels in the Interior of the Uninhabited parts of North America, in the years 1791-2, by Alexander Campbell, Captain 42nd Regiment," will serve perhaps to throw some light upon the every-day life of Captain Brant while he was living at the Mohawk Village, near brantford. The plain story of Captain campbell is vigorous enough to be refreshing, and so frank withal that its truthfulness cannot be doubted.
"FROM NIAGARA TO THE GRAND RIVER.
"On the 9th of February I set out with a party of gentlemen in two sleds on an excursion to the Grand River. Put up the first night at Squire McNab's, and next day dined at the house of one Henry, who had only been here for six yeas; put up at night at the house of one Smith, who came from the colonies two years ago.
"The land as we came along seemed extremely good-heavy timber, consisting of oak, walnut, chestnut, hickory, maple sugar wood, ash, pine and a variety of others, all lofty of their kind, particularly in that space which lies between the long stretch of precipices called the 'mountain' and the side of the lake. This space is from one to four miles broad and from fifty to sixty miles long from Niagara to Lake Geneva,. This mountain begins in the Genesee country and stretches along until it crosses the River Niagara at the Grand Falls; from thence in a serpentine form to the head of the small lake called by the Indians 'Ouilqueton,' and known to the white people by the name of 'Geneva,' and from thence to the Bay of toronto, opposite to the Fort of Niagara on the north side of Lake Ontario, a stretch of between two and three hundred miles long. We stayed that night with Mr. Paisley, who entertained us with the greatest hospitality.
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"February 11th. We set out from Mr. Paisley's. For several miles on the way to the grand River the lands are so open as to have scarce a sufficiency of wood for enclosures and the necessary purposes of farming; but towards the mountain the wood becomes thick and lofty, as is common in that country, for several miles along the mountain. Towards evening we fell down on a gentleman's farm, where we stopped to warm ourselves and bait our horses. No sooner was our repast over than we bade adieu to the family, mounted our sleds and drove down to the Indian village; alighted about nightfall at the house of the celebrated Indian chief and warrior, Captain Joseph Brant. This renowned warrior is not of any royal or conspicuous blood, but by his ability in war and political conduct in peace has raised himself to the highest dignity in his nation, and his alliance is now courted by sovereign and foreign states. Of this there are recent instances, as he has had within the last three weeks several private letters and public despatches from Congress soliciting his attendance at Philadelphia on matters of high importance; but after consulting Col. Gordon, commandant of all the British troops in Upper Canada, he excused himself and declined to accept the invitation. He just now enjoys a pension and captain's half pay from the British Government, and seemed to keep quite staunch by it, but a person of his great political talents ought to be carefully looked after; at the same time, I am convinced that he bears no good-will to the American States, and seems to be much rejoiced at the drubbing their troops got from the Indians on the 4th of last November, when by the Indian account 1300 of them, were killed on the spot, but by the American, only 800. including the wounded; the former is nearest the truth and gains most credit here. By comparing the numbers brought to the field with those that remained after the action, which is the surest way to judge, their loss must have exceeded 1600. I saw a muster roll and returns of some of the companies, and examined if there were any Scotch names among them, and could find none but one Campbell, who it would appear by their orderly book was among those that deserted, of whom there were a great many. My reason for examining this so particularly was that I was informed the American army was mostly made up of Scotch and Irish emigrants, to whom Congress promised free lands at the close of the Indian war in the event they would engage in it. Capt. Green, of the 26th regiment, who held the orderly book, made the same remark in regard to names, so that I am happy that the report was ill-founded. Captain Brant, who is well acquainted with European manners, received us with much politeness and hospitality. Here we found two young married ladies with their husbands on a visit to the family, both of them very fair complexioned and well looking women. But when Mrs. Brant appeared, superbly dressed, in the Indian fashion, the elegance of her person, grandeur of and deportment, her large mild black eyes, symmetry and harmony of her expressive features, though much darker in complexion, so far surpassed them as not to admit of the smallest comparison between the Indian and the fair European ladies. I could not in her presence so much as look at them without marking the difference. Her blanket was made up of silk and the finest English cloth, bordered with a narrow strip of embroidered lace; her sort of jacket and scanty petticoat of the same stuff, which came down only to her knees; her garters or leggins, of the finest scarlet, fitted close as a stocking, which showed to advantage her stout but remarkably fine formed limbs, her moccasins (Indian shoes) ornamented with silk ribbons and beads. Her person is about five feet nine or ten inches high, as straight and proportionable as can be, but inclined to be jolly or lusty. She understands but does not speak English. I have often addressed her in that language, but she always answered in the Indian tongue. They have a fine family of children. I remarked of one fine-looking boy. about eight years old, that he was like his mother. His father said he was so, and that he was glad of it; that he was a good scholar and a good hunter; that he had already shot several pheasants and other birds; that he and two other boys of the same age had been lately in the woods with their guns; that they supposed they had found the track of a deer, which they followed too far, got wet, and became cold; that however, young as they were, they put up a fire and warmed themselves and returned home; that before they arrived their toes were frost-bitten, of which he was then not quite recovered. I mention this circumstance to show how early the young Indians are bred to the chase, and the instance of their early being bred to war is, that I myself saw a rifle-barrelled gun taken by an Indian boy from an American, whom he shot dead in the action of the 4th November last, and he was allowed to keep it on account of his gallant behaviour. Tea was on the table when we came in, served up on the handsomest china plate, and every furniture in proportion. After tea was over we were entertained with the music of an elegant hand organ on which a young Indian gentleman and Mr. Clinch played alternately. Supper was served up in the same genteel style. Our beverages were brandy, port and Madeira wines. Capt. Brant made several apologies for his not being able to sit up with us so long as we wished, being a little out of order; and we, being fatigued after our journey went timeously to rest; our beds, sheets and English blankets were fine and comfortable.
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"Next day being Sunday, we the visitors went to church. The service was given out by an Indian in the absence of the minister, who was indisposed, and I never saw more decorum or attention paid in any church in all my life. The Indian squaws sung most charmingly, with a musical voice, I think peculiar to themselves. Dinner was just going on the table in the same elegant style as the preceding night, when I returned to Capt. Brant's house, the servants dressed in their best apparel. Two slaves attended the table, the one in scarlet, the other in coloured clothes, with silver buckles in their shoes, and ruffles, and every other part of their apparel in proportion. After dinner, Capt. Brant, that he might not be wanting in doing me the honours of his nation, directed all the young warriors to assemble in a certain large house to show me the war dance, to which we all adjourned about nightfall. Such as were at home of the Indians appeared, superbly dressed in their most showy apparel, glittering with silver in all the variety of shapes and forms of their fancies, which made a dazzling appearance. The pipe of peace, with long white feathers, and that of war, with red feathers equally long, were exhibited in their first war dance, with shouts and war-whoops resounding to the skies.
"the chief himself held the drum, beat time, and often joined in the song with a certain cadence to which they kept time. the variety of forms into which they put their bodies, and the agility with which they changed from one strange position to another, was really curious to a European eye not accustomed to such a sight.
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"Several warlike dances were performed which the chief was at particular pains to explain to me, but still I could not understand, or see any affinity excepting in the 'eagle attack,' which indeed had some resemblance. After the war dance was over- which took up about two hours, as the whole exhibition was performed in honour of me, being the only stranger, who they were told by my fellow travellers meant to publish my travels on my return home, which they judged of by the notes I took of everything I saw, though in reality I had no such thing in view at the time- I was desired by Mr. Clinch to make a speech, and thank them for their handsome performances. As this could not be declined without giving offence, I was obliged to get up, and told them I would address them in the Indian language of my own country, and said in Gaelic, 'That I had fought in many parts of Europe, killed many men, and now being in America, I did not doubt that I would fight with them yet, particularly if the Yankees attacked us.' My worthy friend, Capt. McNab, explained in English my speech, as also did Capt. Clinch, in the Indian tongue, at which they laughed very heartily. No sooner was the war dance over than they began their own native and civil ones, in which Capt. Brant and I joined. He placed me between two handsome young squaws, and himself between other two. In this way we continued for two hours more, without coming off the floor, dancing and singing, he himself keeping time all along, which all the rest followed in the same cadence. The serpentine dance is admirably curious; one takes lead representing the head, and the others follow one after the other joined hand in hand, and before the close of the dance we were put in all the folds and forms a serpent can be in. After this and every other dance peculiar to their nation was over, we began Scotch reels, and I was much surprised to see how neatly they danced them. Their persons are perfectly formed for such exercise. The men from the severity of their hunting excursions, are rather thin, but tall and straight, and well proportioned, extremely agile and supple. the women are much fairer in their complexion, plump and inclined to be lusty.
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"Here we continued until near daylight. I told Capt. Brant that in my country at all country weddings and frolics it was customary to kiss both before and after every dance. He said it was A strange though agreeable custom, but that it would never do here, I suppose owing to the jealousy of the men. I had bought two gallons of rum to entertain them, and he had ordered six bottles of Madeira wine from his own house, and would hardly allow the other gentlemen and myself to take any other liquor. By my being in a manner under the necessity of drinking grog with the young Indians and squaws, I got tipsy, though I and one young Indian were the only persons present in the least affected. As for the squaws, I could hardly get them to taste, however warm they might be with dancing.
"When Capt. Brant observed the young Indian was affected with what he had drank, he requested I should give him no more, taxed him with being drunk, and said he must turn him out of the company if he did not take care what he was about.
"On the whole, I do not remember I ever passed a night in my life, I enjoyed more. Everything was new to me and striking in its manner; the old chief entered into all the frolics of the young people, in which I was obliged to join. But the other gentlemen, to whom none of these things were new, looked on, and only engaged now and then in the reels. After passing the night in this agreeable manner, and I being a good deal fatigued with drinking and dancing, we retired to rest.
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"Captain Brant showed me a brace of double-barrelled pistols, a curious gun, and a silver-hilted dagger he had got as presents from noblemen and gentlemen in England, when he was in that country on an embassy from his own and other Indian nations. Each of the double-barrelled pistols had but one lock, the hammer of which was so broad as to cover the two pans and two touch-holes, so that both shots would go off at once; and when he had a mind to fire but one barrel at a time, there was a slip of iron which by a slight touch covered one of the pans so that only which was uncovered would go off. The gun being sufficiently charged, would fire fifteen shots in the space of half a minute.
"The construction of this curious piece was, as near as I can describe it, as follows: There was a powder chamber or magazine adjoining to the lock, which would hold fifteen charges, another cavity for as many balls, and a third for the priming, and by giving one twist round to a sort of handle on the left hand side opposite the lock, the gun would be loaded from these magazines, primed and cocked, so that the fifteen charges could be fired, one after another, in the space of half a minute, at the same time he might fire but one or two shots, less or more of them, as he chose. He said there was something of the work within wrong, so that he could not get it to fire more than eight shots without stopping. He tried it at a mark, and said it shot very well. Of the dagger, he said it was the most useful weapon in action he knew- that it was far better than a tomahawk; that he was once obliged to strike a man four or five times with a tomahawk before he killed him, owing to hurry and not striking him with the fair edge, whereas he never missed with the dagger. Others told me that he was not over scrupulous or sparing on these occasions. Another instance he said was that he had seen two Indians with spears or lances attack a man, one on each side; that just as they pushed to pierce him through the body, he seized on the spears, one in each hand; they tugged and pulled to no purpose, until a third person came up and dispatched him. This could not be done to a dagger, and of course it was by odds the better weapon.
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"Mr. Clinch, who is a young man of liberal education, served through the last war in the Indian Department, and was on many expeditions along with Capt. brant. the y put one another in mind of many strange adventures; among others that of having once brought boys and a number of women and girls prisoners to Detroit, and so served that whole settlement, which was much in want of females. The description of the consequences gave me a lively idea of the rape of the Sabine women by the first settlers of Rome, but the difference was great, for here the former husbands and lovers had been killed. A tailor in this place told me he was one of the boys captured on the occasion; that his eldest brother and father were killed. The latter, after he had been taken prisoner and brought a great part of the way, had got fatigued and could not travel, on which he was tomahawked by the Indians. I cannot see how the necessities of war can warrant such barbarities to women and children, independent of the cruelty shown to men and prisoners.
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"Another story of Capt. Brant's relating to hunting was, that himself and another being on an expedition with a large party to the south, and nearly run out of provisions, and dreading the consequences, had gone a hunting on horseback; that they preferred small to large game, as the small would be the exclusive property of him who killed it, whereas the large game must be equally divided among the party; that they rode on through the woods, and at last fell in with a large flock of turkeys, and galloped after them, as fast as they could, until they obliged the turkeys to take wing and get upon trees, when the party alighted from their horses and shot seventeen fine turkeys, with which they returned to camp. They all shot with rifles. Lieut. Turner, of the first regiment continental troops, was the only officer taken prisoner by the Indians in the action of 4th November, 1791, who survived the slaughter of his countrymen. He said that when he was taken prisoner among the Indians he was one day permitted to go along with them to the woods on a hunting party; that they soon fell in with turkeys. The Indians pursued on foot as fast as they could, running, falling and hallooing all the time to frighten the birds, and when they had thus got them on trees, they shot many of them. Several other persons have said that this was the surest way to get them. They are so tame or stupid, when they are in trees, as to stand perhaps till the last be killed. Whereas, on the ground, they were so quick-sighted and fleet, that in an instant they are out of sight. An old turkey cock will outrun any man on the ground. Another method practised is that of watching them on the ground until they get up to roost in the trees in the evening, when the sportsmen may shoot until the last in the flock be killed.
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"With Capt. Brant I had a conversation upon religion, introduced by him indeed, and not by me. He said that we were told everyone that was not a Christian would go to hell; if so, what would become of the miserable souls of many Indians who never heard of Christ; asked if I believed so, and what I thought of it? I frankly told him that if all saints and priests on earth were to tell me so, I would not believe them. With such as were instructed in the Christian religion, and did not conform to its precepts, I did not doubt but would fare the worse; that I believed that it might be so with those of any other religion; but I supposed it was a matter of little moment in the omnipresent eye of the Creator of the universe, whether, he was worshipped on Sundays in the church or on Saturdays in the mosque; and that the grateful tribute of everyone would be received however different the mode of offering it might be; that everyone has only to account for those actions which he knew to be wrong at the time of committing them; but for these, that surely a time of reckoning would come. He spoke of the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph, ands even of our Saviour, in a way that induced me to waive the subject. It, however, showed the difficulty of converting these people from the early prejudice of education. But his discourses brought to mind a conversation on traditionary rumours that passed between Ossian, the son of Fingal and Patrick, the first Christian missionary he had seen. Before I take leave of this charming country and the honour done me by the renowned chief and his warlike tribe of handsome young warriors, all of the Mohawk nation, I must not omit saying that it appears to me to be the finest country I have as yet seen; and by every information I have had none are more so in all America. The plains are very extensive, with few trees here and there interspersed, and so thinly scattered as not to require any clearing, and hardly sufficient for the necessaries of the farmer. The soil is rich, and the a deep clay mould. The river is about 100 yards broad, and navigable for large bateaux to Lake Erie, a space of sixty miles, excepting for about two miles, of what are here called rapids, but in Scotland would be called 'fords' and in which the bateaux are easily poled up against any little stream there may be. Abundance of fish are caught here in certain seasons, particularly in the spring, such as sturgeon, pike, pickerel, maskinonge, and others peculiar to this country; and the woods abound with game. the habitations of the Indians are pretty close together on each side of the river, as far as I could see, with a very few white people interspersed among them married to squaws, and others of half-blood, their offspring. The church in the village is elegant, the schoolhouse commodious, both built by the British Government, which annually orders a great many presents to be distributed among the natives: ammunition and warlike stores, of all the necessary kinds; saddles, bridles, kettles, cloth, blankets, tomahawks with tobacco-pipes in the end of them; other things and trinkets innumerable, provisions and stores, so that they may live, and really be, as the saying is, 'happy as the day is long.'
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"February 13th. When Capt. Brant found that we would be away, he ordered his sled to be got ready, and after breakfast he and Mrs. Brant accompanied us the length of ten or twelve miles to the house of an Indian who had a kitchen and store room, clean floors and glass windows, crops and cattle in proportion, where we put up to warm ourselves. Capt. Brant brought some wine, rum and cold meat, for the company. After refreshing ourselves, we bade adieu to our hospitable and renowned host and his elegant squaw, and bounded on our journey along the banks of the Grand River. The land seemed extremely good as we came along. The first village of Indians, the next of white people, and so on alternately, as far as I have been, and for all I know, to the side of the lake. The Indians in this part of the country seem to be of different nations, Mohawks, Cherokees, Tuscaroras and Mississaguas. I called at different villages or castles as they are called here, and saw the inhabitants had large quantities of Indian corn drying in every house, suspended in the roof, and in every corner of them. We put up at the house of Mr. Ellis, who treated us very hospitably.
"February 14th. We went a visiting for several miles down the river side, and dined at the house of a half-pay officer, A Mr. Young, who had served in the last war as a lieutenant in the Indian Department, married to a squaw, sister to one of the chiefs of the Mohawk nation, who succeeded Capt. David. This gentleman, of Dutch extraction, used me with marked attention and hospitality. Messrs. Clinch, Forsyth and I stayed with him that night playing whist, cribbage and other games. Here I for time played cards with a squaw. Next morning he conducted us in his own sled the length of Mr. Ellis's. He told us that a few days ago a wolf killed a deer on the ice near his house, and showed us the remains of a tree which, before it was burnt, measured twenty-eight feet in circumference.
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"February 15th. We set out from Mr. Young's; crossed a forest of about twenty miles without a settlement; fell in with Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Patton, a Mr. Henry and his wife, and some sleds loaded with grain going to mill. Here we stopped to bait our horses at the side of a stream or creek; made a fire and dined upon such victuals as we brought along with us, in a shade put up by some trading Indians. I saw the track of a deer as we came along, and where one of them was dragged on a hand sled or tobogan, on the snow. Mr. and Mrs. Patton invited our company to their house, to which we readily agreed. Mrs. Patton is a very well looking, agreeable young lady, and he himself a good, plain sort of man. We arrived about nightfall, and after refreshing ourselves with some tea, and some glasses of Port and Madeira wines, the card tables were produced, on which we played till supper time. In this, and indeed every place we have been, we were genteely and hospitably entertained.
"February 16th. After breakfast we set out from Mr. Andrew Patton's and bade adieu to him and his amiable wife. Called at Major tinbrook's and dined at Squire McNab's. Here we were told that a party of pleasure had gone from Niagara and the barracks, to meet us on our return from the Grand River at a place called the Cheapway, three miles above the Grand Falls, and have a dance there that night, which would disappoint them much in the event we did not appear. Capt. McNab insisted on my being there in particular, for reasons he said I could not well dispense with. I therefore agreed, and my particular friend, the Squire, was good enough to furnish me with his carriage and a couple of good horses. This Mr. McNab is a gentleman of genteel and independent property- is a justice of the peace, which gives him the title of Squire, and a member of the Land Board. After dinner we all set out. I with Mr. Johnston Butler, called at his father's (Col. of that name); from thence to Captain Clinch's on Mississagua Point opposite Fort Niagara. From thence again in one carriage to the Chippewa, where we arrived about eight o'clock at night- two and twenty miles from the place we dined at. Here we drank tea supped, played cards, and danced until daylight. In the morning I took Mr. Forsyth, Lieut. Daniel, and MacKenzie, of the twenty-sixth regiment, into my sled. Breakfasted at Mr. Binckes' house, who has some saw and grist mills on a small stream cut out from the side of the great river. Stopped at the Grand Falls, and saw them for the second time. Called at Mr. Hamilton's, and arrived in the evening at Niagara.
Part of Page 128 "March 4th. Before I take leave of Niagara, I must not omit to express my obligations and acknowledgments to my very particular friends Messrs. McNab, Mr. Hamilton and family, Mr. Dickson, merchant, Poets Moore and Kerr, Messrs. Crooks and Forsyth, Mr. Clark, storekeeper, Mr. Farquharson, commissary; Mr. Johnson, Indian interpreter, Mr. Clinch, Captain Law, and his son and young Mr. Alexander McNab. Did I particularize every mark of attention and hospitality of these gentlemen to strangers which I must myself experienced to a very high degree, and how many happy nights I spent with them in that place at assemblies, entertainments and card parties, I should make a diffuse narration of it; but I therefore suffice to say that I am extremely sensible of their politeness, and will always make grateful acknowledgments. Near the village of New Johnstone is the seat of the late Sir William Johnson, Baronet, of whom the inhabitants speak to this day with the highest gratitude and respect. He died a year or two before the breaking out of the war. He was a man of unbounded power in this country. Affability and generosity were his distinguishing qualities. He had a large property in land, and was to the Indians, as well as to the Scotch inhabitants, a father and a friend. To him they looked up for relief in all their distress and wants. He kept a squaw, now called 'Old Miss Molly,' sister to the famous Captain Joseph Brant, by whom he had several children, male and female, now in life; to each of whom he bequeathed at his death 1,500 Pounds, besides leaving a large sum to the mother, who now lives at Niagara.
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"It is said the sons are somewhat wild, and savour a little of the Indian, but that the daughters have the mild dispositions and manners of the Europeans. One of them is well married. I have often been in her house and been very genteely entertained. She is the best dancer I think I have ever seen perform. Her husband is a particular friend and countryman of my own, is surgeon to the Indian Department in the District of Nossa, with a salary of about 200 pounds a year from the Government. To cross the breed of any species of creatures is deemed an advantage, but I am convinced it can be to none more than the human species. I do not remember to have seen an instance where a white man and an Indian woman did not produce handsome children. Thousands of examples of this kind might be given. The famous and handsome Capt. David and the present Mr. Brant afford striking instances of this kind, and of whom I have spoken in another place. The greatest warriors and most conspicuous characters among the southern Indians now at war with the Americans are half blood. They retain the expressive features, the fine large black eyes, hair and eyebrows of the Indians, with a much fairer tint of skin, which are easily discernible even to the third generation, if not longer. Sir William lived in great splendour in this place. In his family were slaughtered 100 fat hogs and 24 oxen annually, and everything else was in proportion. Sir William was wont to say that he was born in Ireland, but that his father when a boy came from Glencoe in Scotland, and that he deemed himself of that country. The Johnsons, or, as they were called in Gaelic language, McDons of Glencoe, now McDonalds, were anciently a very warlike race, and in times of barbarism not the least so of their neighbours; but it is somewhat singular that scarcely one of them who left his country in early life, and issued out into the world to push his fortunes, but made a distinguished figure in it. Their vein of poetry was such that any one of them who could not compose extempore in rhyme was deemed a by-leap, but that practice, which was then much in use and shone very conspicuous in them, is now discontinued, and their genius in that line is no better than others. Sir William had the distribution of the King's gratuities and stores to the Indians and his manner of distributing them was very different from what is now practised. When an Indian came for his presents he was carried into the store and allowed to choose for himself, which pleased him mightily, and he often went off with a few trinkets of little value. At present I have seen saddles, bridles, &c., given to Indians who had never crossed a horse and many other things given in the same way of as little utility to them; and the first use the possessors made of them was to dispose of them to the first bidder at half value. Sir William was so remarkably beloved, that if he had been in life when the war broke out it was supposed the whole inhabitants of the back parts of the Province of New York would have risen in arms along with him. His son, Sir John, was more distant, and not so affable in his manners, and of course not so well liked. However, the greatest part of the young Scotch settlers, besides some Irish, and Germans, adhered to his fortunes; and he raised a corps of the smartest, liveliest, and most useful troops in the British service. Their sufferings were very great; they were often obliged to eat horses, dogs and cats and yet were never heard to complain if they could distress their enemies. They and the Indians went hand in hand: the former lead by a son of Colonel Butler, a gallant young officer, who was killed in the war, and the latter by the intrepid Captain Brant. This chosen corps, this band of brothers, was rarely known to be worsted in any skirmish or action, though often obliged to retire and betake themselves to the wilderness when superior forces came against them. Sir John's corps and Butler's Rangers were very distressing to the back settlers. Their advances and retreats were equally sudden and astonishing, and to this day the Americans say they might as easily have found a parcel of wolves in the woods as them if once they entered it. That the first notice of their approach was them in sight, and of their retreat, their being out of reach. These two bodies were chiefly made up of Indians and Scotch Highlanders, who adhered closely to their country's cause, and such of them as survived the war are now settled in Upper Canada. I have known many of them, both officers and soldiers, and the account they gave of their fatigue and sufferings they underwent is hardly credible, were it not confirmed by one and all of them."
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THE BRANT GENEALOGY.-DOMESTIC RELATIONS
As has been explained at some length in another part of this section, Brant's origin is not quite clear; yet from all the facts and circumstances which are known, it is believed to be fair to assert that he was a lineal descendant of one of the regularly acknowledged chieftains of his people. According to this understanding, the genealogical record of Brant would assume the following order:- "Tehowaghwengaraghkin," a Mohawk of the Wolf Tribe, whose home was at Canajoharie, the central castle of the Mohawks. This chief was descended from one of the sachems who visited England in 1710. He is supposed to have died while on a temporary sojourn in the west, probably in Ohio. The children of Tehowaghwengaraghkin were: 1. A son, whose name is unknown. 2. A son, name unknown. 3. JOSEPH THAYENDANEGEA, called Joseph Brant, from Nickus Brant, whom his mother took for a second husband, after the death of No. 1. Thayendanegea married first, Margaret, an Indian woman, who died probably in 1771. His second wife was Susanna, a half-sister to Margaret. He was united with this woman by a German clergyman, in the winter of 1772-73. Susanna died shortly after marriage, without issue. In the winter of 1780, while present at the wedding of Miss Moore and Captain Wm. Powell, which took place at Fort Niagara, he was regularly wedded to his third wife, Catherine, with whom he had been living according to the Indian fashion for some time previous. 4. Molly, known in history as "Miss Molly," and who became the second wife of Sir William Johnson, the commandant of H. B. M. forces in the Mohawk country, and also the Superintendent of indian Affairs in Canada.
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The children of Captain Joseph Brant were: 1. Isaac, born probably at Canajoharie, married, and died at Burlington Heights in 1802, from the effects of a wound received at the hands of his father, whose life he had attempted to take while in a fit of drunken frenzy. 2. Christina, born at Canajoharie, married, and died. The above children were by Brant's first wife, Margaret. 3. Joseph Jr., died in 1830. 4. Jacob died in 1846. 5. John, was never married; died in 1832. 6. Margaret, married -- Powles, and died in 1848. 7. Catherine, married Peter John, and died at Wellington Square, January 31st, 1867. 8. Mary, married Seth Hill. 9. Elizabeth, married William Johnson Kerr, Esq., a grandson of Sir William Johnson. The marriage of this lady took place at the Mohawk church in 1828; she died at Wellington Square in April, 1844.
The children of Isaac Brant were: 1. Isaac, Jr.; 2. Margaret; 3. Ellen, married -- Lotteridge.
The children of Christina were four sons and three daughters; one of the latter was Mary, who married Joseph Sawyer, deceased, late chief of the "New Credit," or Mississagua band of Chippewas.
Joseph Jr., was the father of Catherine, who married Aaron Hill.
Jacob Brant was the father of -1. John; 2. Squire; 3. Christina, married the late John Jones; 4. Jacob Jr., married Mary Jones; 5. Peter; and 6. Charlotte, married Peter Smith.
Margaret (Powles) Brant was the mother of several children, whose individual history has not been traced.
Catherine (Jones) Brant had three children, whose history is unknown.
Mary (Hill) Brant was the mother of one child, living in 1873.
Elizabeth (Kerr) Brant had four children. Their history has not been traced.
The foregoing family record has been arranged from such materials as were at hand, and is not claimed to be complete; indeed, it would be difficult to collect all the details necessary for an unbroken chain of genealogical history, especially as few family records have been preserved.
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Isaac, the eldest of Brant's children, was partly educated at a school in the Mohawk Valley, and his education was completed at Niagara. His disposition, bad from his youth, grew worse as he increased in years, and was not improved by his associations at the military post of Niagara after the War of the Revolution. He fell into the habit of drinking while at this post, and when in his cups was a dangerous man. Thayendanegea made every effort to reclaim his wayward son, but all to little purpose. He committed several outrages of a grave nature, among which was the murder, in cold blood, of a harness maker named Lowell, at the Mohawk village. In 1795 there was an assemblage of Indians at Burlington Heights for the purpose of receiving the annual bounty from the Government. Upon this occasion Isaac was drunk as usual, and uttered many threats against his father. Captain Brant had taken tea with a friend, after which he retired to a small inn for the night; to this inn Isaac followed his father and made an assault upon him, during which both were wounded. Those who were standing by immediately separated them, and the frenzied son was taken care of, and his wound which was in the scalp, was dressed. The injury was not all that serious, but in his drunken craze Isaac persisted in tearing off the dressings, and on the ninth day he died from hemorrhage, according to some accounts, or brain fever, as stated by others. Captain Brant immediately surrendered himself to the civil authorities, and resigned his commission, which he still held in the British service. It was not accepted however. A council of the principal sachems and warriors was held; all the facts and circumstances were considered with great deliberation, when the following certificate of opinion was signed unanimously, and a copy delivered to Capt. Brant: "Brother,- We have heard and considered your case; we sympathize with you. You are bereaved of a beloved son. But that son raised his parricidal hand against the kindest of fathers. His death was occasioned by his own crime. With one voice we acquit you of all blame. We tender you our hearty condolence, and may the Great Spirit above bestow upon you consolation and comfort under your affliction." This circumstance has been related in various ways; and by those who were inclined to dislike Brant it was peddled about as conclusive evidence of the badness of his character, when the truth of the matter was he acted in self-defence, and that in a comparatively moderate manner.
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None of the sons of Capt. Brant seem to have achieved distinction, if we except John, the youngest who succeeded to his father's title. Isaac brant left a widow and two children, one of whom, Isaac, Jr., was a counterpart of his father. He served with some distinction in the War of 1812-14, but was killed in a drunken frolic by a blow with a gun barrel, inflicted, as was supposed, by a white man. Joseph, Jr., and Jacob were sent to Dartmouth College, under the tutorship of John Wheelock who succeeded the venerable President of early times. They made some progress in their studies, but did not complete the regular course of instruction.
Capt. Brant was a "half-pay' officer in the British army, with the rank of captain, though he was called "colonel" by many who addressed him, after the close of the Revolutionary War; in fact, he appears to have been generally so called during the latter years of his life. He was inclined to dress in the Indian fashion, or in a semi-civilized style; at times this seems to have degenerated into something bordering on negligence. It is said that Brant upon one occasion waited upon Lord Dorchester, then Governor General of Canada, who promptly reminded him unless he assumed the uniform of a captain, which rank he held, he (Dorchester) would cause his pay to be stopped. It is added that he thereupon changed his style of dress, and habitually wore the uniform of an army officer.
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The Crown made donations of lands, and in some cases, money, to those who had served in the Revolutionary War, especially to those who had suffered losses of property on the other side of the lake. Brant was given a valuable tract of land, at the head of Lake Ontario, occupying a fine commanding eminence, and affording an extensive view of the lake and surrounding country: this place is now called Wellington Square. A few years before his death, Captain Joseph Brant built a fine dwelling on this tract of land. Here he removed with his family, and here he closed his extraordinary and eventful life. Until his removal to Wellington Square, Captain Brant's principal residence was at the Mohawk village, in what is now Brant County.
The 24th day of November, 1807, is the date which marks the ending of his great career. For more than half a century he had been active in the fields of conflict and diplomacy, during which time he proved himself to be far in advance of any other representative of his race in all that goes to constitute the fabric of Christian civilization. He was a firm adherent to the faith and doctrines of the Episcopal Church at the time of his decease, and during his last illness, which was painful, he manifested that fortitude and resignation which characterizes the true Christian. The interests of his people, which were ever uppermost in his mind, while in the fullness of health and strength, seemed to be foremost in his thoughts to the end. His last words were "Have pity upon the poor Indians: if you can get any influence with the great, endeavour to do them all the good you can." With these sentiments paramount in his thoughts, Joseph thayendanegea died. His remains were brought to the burying grounds which surround the old Mohawk church, and there interred among those of many of his kindred.
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BRANT A FREEMASON
There is every reason to suppose that Captain Brant was, at an early period of his life probably, made a member of this ancient fraternity. Neither record nor tradition informs us concerning the particular lodge to which he belonged, or the number of degrees which he received; that he was at least a master mason is probable from the incidental evidence which has floated down to the present generation. In those early days it was not uncommon for such officers and soldiers as were in good standing with their respective lodges at home, to open and work temporary or "field" lodges while absent on long and distant campaigns; this was one source of social pastime and amusement to those who were isolated from society for months and even years at a time. One report has it that Brant was initiated at a "military" lodge at Niagara, but this hardly agrees with certain well known incidents in his career. It is more than probable that he was made a mason in the Mohawk River country either by a regular lodge of master masons, or by one of those nomadic bodies already mentioned. Mrs. Carey in her pamphlet of 1873, gives the following: "The late John Maynard, Esq., formerly a member of the Senate of Massachusetts, was saved by Brant, who discovered the symbols of freemasonry upon the prisoner's arms after the Indians had partially stripped him to put him to death. Mr. Maynard lived to an advanced old age, an upright and faithful magistrate."
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In the account of the battle of the Cedars, mention has been made of the capture of Captain McKinstry; the subjoined account was reserved for this section. Among the prisoners captured at the battle of the Cedars was Captain John McKinstry, who commanded a company on that occasion. His command was sharply engaged with a body of Indians, before whom his troops were several times compelled to retire. Rallying, however, with spirit, the Indians were frequently driven back in turn. The Americans were finally overpowered and compelled to surrender. Captain McKinstry, being wounded, fell by the side of a tree and was there taken prisoner. He afterwards learned that he had been marked as a victim by the Indians, who had actually made the usual preparations for putting him to death by the torture of fire; and that he was rescued by the personal exertions of Captain Brant who in connection with some humane English officers made up a purse and purchased an ox, which the Indians roasted for their carousal, instead of the gallant prisoner. Captain McKinstry was treated with kindness while a prisoner, and contracted an intimacy with Brant which continued until the chieftain's death. Brant never visited the Hudson after the Revolution without spending a few days with Colonel McKinstry at Livingstone Manor; and at the time of his last visit, about 1805, he with his friend attended a lodge of freemasons which met in the city of Hudson. Brant's presence at this meeting of the fraternity attracted great attention. Tradition has it that Brant was buried with masonic honors, but there is no very reliable evidence that such was the case. Masonic lodges were not common in Upper Canada in 1807, and the few which were in existence were far distant from the Mohawk church, and would hardly have undertaken a long journey over bad roads unless for some great occasion, which would surely have left a record which some one of the many writers about Brant would have found long ere this.
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JOHN BRANT (AHYOUWAEGHS).
According to the unwritten law of the Mohawks, the inheritance descends through the female line exclusively; as a consequence, the chieftainship does not descend to the eldest male, but the eldest female, in what may be called the royal line, noninates one of her sons or other descendants and he thereby becomes chief. If the choice which she makes does not fall upon her own son, the grandson whom she invests must be the child of her daughter. The widow of Thayendanegea was the eldest daughter of the head chief of the Turtle tribe - the first in rank among the Mohawks. In her own right, therefore, on the decease of her husband, she stood at the head of the Iroquois Confederacy, alone clothed with the power to designate the succeeding chieftain. The official title of the principal chief of the Six Nations is Tekarihogea, to which station, John, the fourth and youngest son of Captain Joseph Brant, was appointed.
On the removal of Captain Brant to Wellington Square, he had adopted the English mode of living. Mrs. Brant, however, preferred the customs of her own race, and soon after the death of her husband she returned to the Mohawk village, on Grand river, where she ever afterwards resided. John Brant born at the Mohawk village, on the 27th of September, 1794. He received a good English education at Ancaster and Niagara under the tuition of Mr. Richard Cockrel; but through life he improved his mind greatly by the study of the best English authors, by associations and by travel. His manners were those of an accomplished gentleman. When the War of 1812-15, between England and the United States, broke out, the Mohawks, true to their ancient faith, espoused the cause of the former, and the young chief Tekarihogea took the field with his warriors. His first effort was at the battle of Queenston, where Colonel (afterwards General) Scott, of the American regulars, was made a prisoner of war. John Brant and another Indian, named Captain Jacobs, attempted to capture Scott, and even went so far as to attempt a personal inspection of him while he was detained at the headquarters of the British General, Sheaffe; this insolence was promptly resented by Colonel Scott, who seized a heavy sword, and promptly assumed the defensive. At this juncture Colonel Coffin, with an armed guard, appeared upon the scene, and the Indians vanished, much to the satisfaction of all concerned, especially General Sheaffe, who was anxious to render every courtesy to his captives in arms. John Brant served with great credit through the campaigns of Niagara. He was at Fort George, Beaver Dams, Lundy's Lane, Chippewa, Fort Erie, and a score of other minor movements, in all of which he behaved with valour. After the declaration of peace he settled down at Wellington Square, and became noted for his hospitality in the keeping of the "Brant House," as the mansion which his father has established was called. In this he was ably assisted by his youthful sister Elizabeth, who won the esteem of all who were fortunate enough to find themselves guests under this friendly roof.
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In 1819, certain articles appeared in the Christian Recorder (Kingston), which were offensive to the descendants of Thayendanegea; the young chief was prompt to rally in the support of his father's good name. This duty brought him out in good light, and displayed much ability on his part in the conducting of correspondence, and the preparation of letters and papers to sustain his position and the integrity of his family. His efforts were crowned with success, and the offensive statements were clearly shown to have arisen from mistakes and misrepresentations. The difficulties between the Canadian Government and the Mohawks, respecting the titles to the lands of the latter, had not been adjusted by the efforts of Thayendanegea. Accordingly, John Brant was sent to England to make one more appeal to the Crown in behalf of his people. The visit was made in 1821, and continued for some time, during which he obtained an interview with the author of "Gertrude of Wyoming," and obtained a modified retraction of certain expressions in that celebrated poem. These have been referred to at length under a previous heading; and in addition, the following lengthy epistle was developed. Inasmuch as the letter has an important bearing upon the character of the elder Brant, as well as the faithful services of his son, it is given entire, or essentially so at least, as the few omitted lines are of no value in the matter. This letter is not usually published with the trade editions of Campbell's poems, and is somewhat rare, although it is found in the appendix to the second volume of Stone's work, and in the "Annals of Tryon County," New York.
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"London, January 20th, 1822 "Sir,- Ten days ago I was not aware that such a person existed as the son of the Indian leader, Brant, who is mentioned in my poem, 'Gertrude of Wyoming,' Last week, however, Mr. S. Bannister, of Lincoln's Inn, called to inform me of your being in London, and of your having documents in your possession which he believed would change my opinion of your father's memory, and induce me to do it justice. Mr. Bannister distinctly assured me that no declaration of my sentiments on the subject was desired but such as should spontaneously flow from my own judgment of the papers that were to be submitted to me. I could not be deaf to such an appeal. It was my duty to inspect the justification of a man whose memory I had probated, and I felt likely to have been felt by one who had willingly wronged it. As far as any intention to wound the feelings of the living was concerned, I really knew not, when I wrote the poem, that the son and daughter of an Indian chief were ever likely to peruse it or be affected by its contents; and I have observed most persons to whom I have mentioned the circumstances of your to me, smile with the same surprise which I experienced on first receiving it. With regard to your father's character, I took it as I found it in popular history. Among the documents in his favour, I own that you have shown me one which I regret that I never saw before, though I might have seen it, viz., the Duke of Rochefoucault's honourable mention of the chief in his travels. Without meaning, however, in the least to invalidate that nobleman's respectable authority, I must say that even if I had met with it, it would have still offered only a general and presumptive vindication of your father, and not such a specific one as I now recognize. On the other hand judge how naturally I adopted accusations against him which had stood in the 'Annual Register' of 1779, as far as I know, uncontradicted, for thirty years. A number of authors had repeated them with confidence which beguiled at least my suspicion, and I believe that of the public at large. Among these authors were Gordon, Ramsay, Marshall, Belsham, and Weld. The most of them, you may tell me, perhaps, wrote with zeal against the American war. Well, but Mr. John Adolphus was never suspected of any such zeal, and yet he had said in his 'History of England,' &c. (Vol. lll., p. 110), a force of sixteen hundred savages and Americans in disguise, headed by an Indian, Col. Butler, and a half Indian of extraordinary ferocity, named, Brant lulling the fears of the inhabitants (of Wyoming) by treachery, suddenly possessed themselves of two forts, and massacred the garrison.
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"He says farther, 'that all were involved in unsparing slaughter, and that even the devices of torment were exhausted.' He possessed, if I possessed them, the means of consulting better authorities; yet he has never, to my knowledge, made any atonement to your father's memory. When your Canadian friends, therefore call me to trial for having defamed the warrior Brant. I beg that Mr. John Adolphus may be also included in the summons. And, after his own defence and acquittal, I think he is bound, having been one of my historical misleaders, to stand up as my gratuitous counsel, and say, 'Gentlemen, you must acquit my client, for he has only fallen into an error which even my judgment could not escape.' In short I imbibed my conception of your father from accounts of him that were published when I was scarcely out of my cradle, and if there were any public, direct and specific challenge to these accounts in England ten years ago, I am yet to learn where they existed. I rose from perusing the papers you submitted to me certainly with an altered impression of his character. I find that the unfavourable accounts of him were erroneous, even on points not immediately connected with his reputation. It turns out, for instance, that he was a Mohawk Indian, of unmixed parentage. This circumstance, however, ought not to be overlooked in estimating the merits of his attainments. He spoke and wrote our language with force and facility, and had enlarged views of the union and policy of the Indian tribes. A gentleman who had been in America, and from whom I sought information respecting him in consequence of your interesting message, told me that, though he could not pretend to appreciate his character entirely, he had been struck with the na´vetÚ and eloquence of his conversation. They had talked of music, and Brant said, 'I like the harpsichord well, and the organ still better; but I like the drum and trumpet best of all, for they make my heart beat quick.' This gentleman also described to me the enthusiasm with which he spoke of written records. Brant projected a t that time to have written a history of the Six Nations. The genius of history should be rather partial to such a man...... Lastly, you affirm that he was not within many miles of the spot when the battle which decided the fate of Wyoming took place, and from your offer of reference to living witnesses, I cannot but admit the assertion. Had I learned all this of your father when I was writing my poem, he should not have figured in it as the hero of mischief. I cannot indeed answer by anticipation what the writers who have either to retract or defend what they may have said about him may have to allege; I can only say that my own opinion about him is changed. I am now inclined exceedingly to doubt Mr. Weld's anecdote, and for this reason: Brant was not only trusted, consulted and distinguished by several eminent British officers in America, but personally beloved by them. Now I could conceive men in power, for defensible reasons of state politics, to have officially trusted, and even publicly distinguished at courts or levees, an active or sagacious Indian chief, of whose private character they might nevertheless still entertain a very indifferent opinion; but I cannot imagine high minded and high bred British officers forming individual and fond friendship for a man of ferocious character.
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"It comes within my express knowledge that the late Ge, Sir Charles Stewart, fourth son of the Earl of Bute, the father of our present Ambassador at Paris, the officer who took Minorca, and Calvi, and who commanded our army in Portugal, knew your father in America, often slept under the same tent with him, and had the warmest regard for him. It seems but charity to suppose the man who attracted the esteem of Lord Rawdon and Gen. Stewart, to have possessed amiable qualities, so that I believe you when you affirm that he was as merciful as brave. And now I leave the world to judge whether the change of opinion with which I am touched arises from false delicacy and flexibility of mind, of from a sense of honour and justice. Here, properly speaking, ends my reckoning with you about your father's memory; but as the Canadian newspapers have made some remarks upon the subject of Wyoming with which I cannot fully coincide, and as this letter will probably be read in Canada, I cannot conclude it without a few more words, in case my silence would seem to admit of propositions which are rather beyond the stretch of my creed. I will not, however, give any plain truths which I have to offer to the Canadian writers, the slightest seasonings of bitterness, for they have alluded to me, on the whole, in a friendly and liberal tone. But when they regret my departure from historical truth, I join in their regret only in as far as I have unconsciously misunderstood the character of Brant, and the share of the Indians in the transaction, which I now reason to suspect was much less than that of the white men. In other circumstances, I took the liberty of a versifier to run away from fact into fancy, like a school-boy who never dreams that he is a truant when he rambles on a holiday from school. It seems, however, that I falsely represented Wyoming to have been a terrestrial paradise. It was not so, say the Canadian papers, because it contained a great number of Tories; and undoubtedly that cause goes far to account for the fact. Earthly paradises, however, are but earthly things, and 'Tempe' and 'Arcadia' may have had their drawbacks on happiness as well as Wyoming. I must nevertheless still believe that it was a flourishing colony, and that its destruction furnished a just warning to human beings against war and revenge. But the whole catastrophe is affirmed in a Canadian newspaper to have been nothing more than a fair battle. If this be a fact, let accredited signatures come forward to attest it, and vindicate the innocence and honourableness of the whole transaction, as your father's character has been vindicated. An error about him by no means proves the whole account of the business to be a fiction. Who would not wish its atrocities disproved? But who can think it disproved by a single defender who writes anonymously, and without definable weight or authority. In another part of the Canadian newspapers my theme has been regretted as dishonourable to England. Then it was, at all events, no fable. How far was the truth dishonourable to England? American settlers, and not Englishmen, were chiefly the white men, calling themselves Christians, who were engaged in this affair. It will be remembered, perhaps, that they called themselves "Loyalists." But, for heaven's sake, let not English loyalty be dragged down to palliate atrocities, or English delicacy be invoked to conceal them. I may be told that England permitted the war, and was therefore responsible for its occurrences. Not surely, universally, nor directly. I should be unwilling to make even Lord North's Administration answerable for all the actions of Butler's Rangers, and I should be still more sorry to make all England amenable either for Lord North's Administration or for Butler's Rangers. Was the American war a unanimous and heartfelt war of the people? Were the best patriots and the brightest luminaries of our Senate for or against it? Chatham declared that if America fell she would fall like the strong man- that she would embrace the pillars of our constitution, and perish beneath the ruins. Burke and Fox and Barre kindled even the breasts of St. Stephen's chapel against it; and William Pitt pronounced it war against the sacred cause of Liberty. If so, the loss of our colonies was a blessing compared with the triumph of those principles that would have brought Washington home in chains. If Chatham and Pitt were our friends in denouncing the injustices of this war, then Washington was only nominally our foe for resisting it. . . . .
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