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might have been the result of our own Revolution. For, had the Western tribes been guided by one spirit, and that acting in concert with the power of England, the stations” of Kentucky would soon have been tenantless ; and, with the West in possession of Britain and her red allies, man cannot say how our armies might have withstood the enemy.
But it was not so ordered. Pontiac was dead; Tecumthé a little child ; and Brant, able as he was, had neither the temper nor position of those great chieftains. If he was not a half-breed, * neither was he in training and tone a full Indian.
The border wars of the Revolution, we say, were full of interest. They were the wars of a falling race, struggling for all that was dear to them ; and, though we must shudder over the bloodshed and the burnings, we cannot compare the acts of the savage man with those of the civilized and Christian man of those days, without feeling pity and sympathy for the former. What was the scalp-taker of the wilderness, in point of atrocity, when measured with the scalp-buyer, Hamilton ? What were the worst acts of the red men, when placed side by side with the massacre on the Muskingum ? |
These wars, Mr. Stone has proposed to himself to delineate. But we do not think his plan a happy one. His history is less a living whole, than a skeleton hung together with wires. Had he written Brant's life, and, in a separate work, given us the history of the wars, we believe his purpose would have been much better answered. As it is, his volumes contain a little of the common Revolutionary history, and a little of the Backwoods history, and a little of Brant, and a little of many other people. And yet they are full of good and rare matter ; nay, of matter that has never appeared before. We owe Mr. Stone many thanks for his industry in collecting, but very few for his judgment in selecting materials. We fear, also, that he did himself injustice by writing hastily. A complex history needs to simmer a long while in the author's brain ; and one of more than eleven hundred pages is not to be prepared in a few months, or even one or two years. However, though the work before us wants unity, clearness, and a sustained interest, it is valuable for its facts, and abounds in curious and interesting details. The general reader may nod over it, but the historical student will prize, and often refer to it. We would that there were more of such collectors as Mr. Stone. They are of incalculable value ; and though rather to be ranked as quarriers than architects, they are entitled to feel and say, that, without them, temples could not be built.
* Some suppose Brant to have been the son of Sir William Johnson. See Stone, Life of Brant, Vol. I. pp. 1, 2.
For an account of Hamilton and of the Moravian massacre see below.
Mr. Stone has not, then, as we think, written such a history of the Border Wars of the American Revolution as might, and should be written. Nor do we know, that, among all our writers, any one has this subject in hand. Why is it not undertaken by some one of the many competent to its successful treatment ?
To understand the border wars of the Revolution, we must first understand the position of the Indians when those wars began.
In the remote northeast, were the Penobscots and their kindred tribes ; while amid those wild regions, through which Arnold passed on his way to Quebec, dwelt “ Natanis, the last of the Norridgewocks,” with the poor remnants of those nations, among whom Father Ralle, the Catholic, * long labored, but who were too poor, even in 1775, to stop, or annoy the troops which were toiling along the Kennebec and Dead River, on their way to the capital of Lower Canada.t
In New Hampshire were a few lingering bands of the Penacooks, and other warrior tribes of that Granite land. In Massachusetts there remained the portion of the Mohegans, called the Stockbridge Indians, together with a few Pequots and Narragansets. In New York, still stood that famous and much-feared alliance, known as the Iroquois, or Six Nations ; an alliance from of old bound to England by strong ties, and, at the opening of the Revolution, under the direct control of the Johnson family, a set of staunch Tories. To the south of the Six Nations were the Delawares, a race of the most noble character, and whose councils were divided between those who wished to throw off the yoke of the white man, and those who saw that the white man must rule, and wished to live in peace and good faith with him. West of the Six Nations and the Delawares, that is to say, west of the Muskingum river, in what is now the State of Ohio, came the Shawanese, fierce, bold, cruel, and wholly adverse to the
* See Lettres Edifiantes.
Sparks's Washington, Vol. III. p. 112.
Europeans; the Wyandots, of whom it was said, in after days, that one could not be taken alive ; the Miamis, once the head of a confederacy mightier even than that of the Iroquois, and still strong and determined ; the Ottawas, Chippeways, and all the painted nations of the northwest. South of this great band, and on the other side of those Kentucky stations, which had sprung up between the rival nations of the north and south, lay the Creeks, Chickasaws, Cherokees, and Catawbas; while, in the extreme southern country, though not within the limits of the British colonies, were the Seminoles, and other yet unconquered races of the hammocks and swamps.
Thus was the little band of Provinces fairly hemmed in by the tribes of red men ; most of them certain foes.
The influence which these tribes might have upon the Revolutionary contest, was evident to both parties. Lord Dunmore, in the autumn of 1774, made peace with the Shawanese upon the Scioto, and stopped the progress of the Virginians, who had just gained a victory at Point Pleasant, under the undoubted influence of calculations, respecting the policy of having a strong force to hang upon the rear of the rebellious colonists.* He also, by his course, pacified the Six Nations, who had taken some part in that war. It arose, indeed, out of the wrongs done to Logan and a few others, and was immortalized by the speech of Logan, and he was a Cayuga.t In truth, the influence of the Indians could not be lost sight of ; for, notwithstanding the peace of Fort Charlotte, made by Dunmore, the Shawanese of the Miami valleys never ceased from annoying the settlers within striking distance ; in March, 1775, Boone and his party of surveyors, then engaged in laying out the first road in Kentucky, lost several men by the Indians ; and from that time forward a partisan warfare was kept up. I
In the north, meanwhile, the Americans had seen the dangers to be feared from the action of the Indians, and early in April the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts wrote to the Reverend Samuel Kirkland, then a missionary among the Oneidas, informing him, that, having heard that the British
* See Doddridge's Notes, p. 236.
+ For proofs of the feelings of the Iroquois with regard to Dunmore's war, see Stone, Vol. I. pp. 65 and 68.
Butler's Kentucky, 2d ed. p. 27.
were trying to attach the Six Nations to their interest, it had been thought proper to ask the several tribes, through him, to stand neutral. Steps were also taken to secure the cooperation, if possible, of the Penobscot and Stockbridge Indians; the latter of whom replied, that, though they never could understand what the quarrel between the Provinces and Old England was about, yet they would stand by the Americans. They also offered to “ feel the mind” of the Iroquois, and try to bring them over. *
But the Iroquois were not to be easily won over by any means. Sir William Johnson, so long the King's agent among them, and to whom they looked with the confidence of children in a father, had died suddenly, in June, 1774, and the wild men had been left under the influence of Colonel Guy Johnson, Sir William's son-in-law, who succeeded him as Superintendent, and of John Johnson, Sir William's son, who succeeded to his estates and honors. Both these men were Tories ; and their influence in favor of England was increased by that of Mr. Stone's hero, Brant, now nearly thirty-three years old. This trio, acting in conjunction with some of the rich old royalists along the Mohawk, opposed the whole movement of the Bostonians, the whole spirit of the Philadelphia Congress, and every attempt, open or secret, in favor of the rebels. Believing Mr. Kirkland to be little better than a Whig in disguise, and fearing that he might alienate the tribe, in which he was, from their old faith, and, through them, influence the others, the Johnsons, while the war was still bloodless, made strong efforts to remove him from his position. Of these efforts Mr. Stone speaks at some length, though with a confusion of dates, as we read his account. T'he first attempt was made, he says, in February, 1775 (Vol. I. p. 60). The cause of this attempt, he suggests, was a correspondence which took place the following April (p. 55). It failed, however, but was renewed and succeeded in the spring, as appears by a letter, dated January 9th (p. 61).t
* Stone, Vol. I. pp.55 - 58.- Sparks's Washington, Vol. III. pp. 495, 496.
† The date, “ January," may be a misprint for “ June"; but we think not, as no reference is made in the letter to the communication from Mas. sachusetts, as a cause of suspicion. Mr. Stone is a little careless. Thus (p. 64) he refers to Guy Johnson's fears of seizure in May, and says, that Schuyler had his eye on him, and gives as authority Washington's order to Schuyler in the following month.
Nor were the fears of the Johnsons groundless, as is shown by another of the original papers presented us by Mr. Stone, the address of the Oneida Indians to the New England Governors, in which they state their intention of remaining neutral during so unnatural a quarrel as that just then commencing. But this intention the leading tribe of the great Indian confederacy meant to disturb, if possible. The idea was suggested, that Guy Johnson was in danger of being seized by the Bostonians, and an attempt was made to rally about him the savages as a body-guard ; while he, on his part, wrote to the neighbouring magistrates, holding out to them, as a terror, the excitement of the Indians, and the dangers to be feared from their rising, if he were seized, or their rights interfered with.
So stood matters in the Mohawk valley, during the month of May, 1775. The Johnsons were gathering a little army, which soon amounted to five hundred men ; and the Revolutionary committees, resolute never to yield one hair's breadth, “ never to submit to any arbitrary acts of any power under heaven,” were denouncing Colonel Guy's conduct as “ arbitrary, illegal, oppressive, and unwarrantable." In truth, the Colonel was fast getting obnoxious. “ Watch him," wrote Washington to General Schuyler in June ; and, even before that order was given, what with the Tryon county men above him on the river, and the whole Provincial force below him, he was likely to be well watched. Finding himself thus fettered, and feeling it to be time to take some decided step, the Superintendent, early in June, began in move westward, accompanied by his dependents and the great body of the Mohawk Indians, who remained firm in the British interests.* He moved first to Fort Stanwix, (afterwards Fort Schuyler, near the present town of Rome,) and then went on to Ontario, where he arrived early in July, and held a Congress with thirteen hundred and forty warriors, whose old attachment to England was then and there renewed. Joseph Brant, be it noted, during all this time, was acting as the Superintendent's secretary.
All of the Six Nations, except the Oneidas and Tuscaroras, might now be deemed in alliance with the British. Those tribes, chiefly through the exertions of Mr. Kirk