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Major Duncan ordered the dead warrior to be buried
with the greatest ceremony. His body was borne to the
grave to the sound of muflied drums and booming cannon,
attended by a guard with reversed arms, while British offi-
cers in full uniform walked in solemn procession with the
warrior-brethren of the dead. The brother and companions
of the deceased were highly pleased with these manifesta-
tions of respect, and it is quite likely that this gratification
•of their vanity made the apparently untoward death of the
chief the cause of linking them more strongly to the Eng-
lish interest.

In 1764, General Bradstreet, so fre(|uently nientioued in


these pages, was sent with a considerable force to quell the
robellious Indians of the west. In the latter part of June
he came across from the Mohawk valley to Oswego with
from fifteen hundred to two thousand provincial troops from
New York and New England, among whom Putnam, who
never missed a chance for a fight, was in command of the
Connecticut battalion. Shortly after their arrival they
were joined by the "Tribune of the Six Nations," Sir
William Johnson, with five hundred and thirty of his Iro-
quois warriors. The e,Npedition sailed for Niagara on the
3d of July. Johnson returned after holding a council at
that post, but Bradstreet and his white and red command
proceeded to the head of Lake Erie, inflicted some punish-
ment on the hostile tribes, and did not return to Oswego
till September.

In the spring of 176G Sir William Johnson was ap-
pointed commissary of trade for Oswego and all the west-
ern posts. His duties are not definitely known, but from
the title of his oflice it is presumed that they involved a
general superintendence of the trafiic with the Indians at
those points.

In July of that year there occurred at Oswego oue of
those dramatic events which we hardly expect to meet with
(though we frequently do) in real life, and which would
form an unsurpassed subject for the liistoric painter. In
accordance with an arrangement made the previous year
through Deputy Superintendent Croghan, Pontiac, the de-
feated but hardly conquered Ottuwa chief, came from his
home on the di.stant shores of Lake Michigan to meet Sir
William Johnson at Oswego. It seems strange that one
who had so deeply imbrued his hands in English blood
should have trusted himself so far in the country of his
conquerors; but a safe-conduct was granted him, and he
seems to have relied implicitly on the good faith of the re-
nowned Warragiyaghey.

Pontiac, with a few of his tribe, came in canoes about
the 18th of July, and Sir William arrived on the 20th.
Nearly all the warriors of the Six Nations, too, came at the
call of their superintendent, to give dignity and importance
to the interview. An awning of evergreens was erected in
the open air to protect the deliberations of the council from
the rays of the July sun. On the 23d the high contract-
ing parties met in a brief preliminary interview, to make
each other's acquaintance, but nothing of consequence was
done till the next day.

On the 24th the council opened in full state. Standing
beneath the shelter formed of the fragrant branches of the
pine and hemlock were the two principals, each in his way
one of the most remarkable men of the age. The broad-
shouldered baronet, who never missed' an opportunity of
pleasing his Indian friends, wore over his civilized costume
a fine scarlet blanket edged with gold lace, while his full,
strongly-marked features were surmounted with the cocked
hat and plumes of a British colonel. The head of the tall,
keen-eyed, hawk-visaged Ottawa was also adorned with
plumes, — not, indeed, of the ostrich, but of the eagles which
his rifle had brought to the earth, — and if his blanket was
less costly than that of Sir William, it was worn with no
less dignity and with much greater grace.

Around these central figures the principal chiefs of the

Six Nations reclined upon the ground iu .savage ease, yet
with all possible decorum, while farther back was a host of
the ordinary warriors, all in full co.stuine of feathers and
paint in honor of the occasion. A group of British oflficcrs
in their brilliant uniforms added variety to the scene, and
the murmur of the wild Oswego furnished approi)riate
music for this curious drama.

Sir William lighted the great calumet, which had pre-
viously been sent to him as a present by Pontiac, took a
puflF himself, gravely presented it to his distinguished
visitor, and then in turn to each of the Iroquois chiefs.
Then the baronet opened his speech with the usual formula,
presenting a belt of wampum to Pontiac, and declaring
that thereby he " opened the door and made the road clear
and smooth" for the English and Ottawas to meet each
other in friendship. He then proceeded to discuss the
position of afl"airs at con.siderable length, pointing out what
the English had done and were willing to do for the west-
ern Indians, and adjuring them to pursue henceforth the
flowery paths of peace. At the conclusion Pontiac thanked
the baronet for his remarks, said his speech Wiis "all good,"
and promised to reply to it the next day.

On the 25th the council again met with the same for-
malities as before. Though he had taken a night for de-
liberation, Pontiac did not make a very lengthy address.
The substance of it was that he too was in favor of peace ;
that although he had been the enemy of the English he
should be so no longer, and referred to the fact that he had
always kept faith with the French as proof that he would
do the same with the English. Sir William expressed his
belief in these professions, and again the council adjourned.

The se.ssions were continued for several days after that ;
for however reticent the great Ottawa might be, there was
abundance of eloquence garnered up for the occasion in the
bosoms of the Iroquois chiefs, and it never would have
done to prevent its due expression. There was much feast-
ing, too, to be gone through with, and, doubtless, some
drinking ; and it was a week from the opening of the
council ere all these pleasing ceremonies were concluded.

At length, on the day of July, Pontiac was ready
to return home. Sir William presented to each of the
princijwl chiefs, both Iroquois and Ottawa, a silver medal
bearing this inscription : " A pledge of peace and friend-
ship with Great Britain, 1766." Then Pontiac and War-
ragiyaghey spoke their last adieus, the Ottau-n chief and
his warriors entered their canoes and turned their prows
westward, while the stately baronet watched them from the
shore till they disappeared behind the nearest headland.

But little requiring the historian's attention occurred in
Oswego County from this time till the beginning of the
Revolution. Oswego continued to be a thriving trading-
post. We learn from Clark's " Onondaga" that Henry
Van Schaak, of Albany, had an important trading-house
there, transporting large quantities of merchandise around
the portage at Fort Stanwix and Oswego falls, and carrying
on an extensive trade at both Oswego and Niagara.

In 1768, at a grand council between the English and the
Six Nations, held at Fort Stanwix, of course under the
management of Sir William Johnson, a " property line" was
agreed on between the whites and Indians, beginning at the


junction of Canada and Wood creeks, a little east of Rome,
and running thence southward to the Susquehanna. West-
ward of this line no lands were to be purchased by the
whites. It was not continued northward from the mouth
of Canada creek, as Sir William said the land in that di-
rection was owned by the Mohawks and Oiieidas, with
whom an agreement could be made at any time. Probably
he left that part open hoping to carry the boundary farther
westward the next time. It is uncertain what became, in the
arrangements, of Sir William's two-mile belt around Oneida
lake, which, according to Stone, was the first land legally
granted in Oswego County, but we are inclined to think
he surrendered his title to the Indians if he ever had any.

Up to 1772, all this section, and all westward and north-
ward to the boundaries of the State, was nominally a part
of the county of Albany. In that year, all west of the
present east line of Montgomery county was formed into
a new county named Tryon, in honor of William Tryon,
then the royal governor of New York. The officers who
administered the laws in the settled portion were all ap-
pointed on the nomination of Sir William, and as the Indian
owners of this region usually complied with his wishes, he
was very nearly the dictator of the county.

Meanwhile the continued peace caused the almost entire
withdrawal of military force. Fort Brewerton and the forti-
fications at the falls and Three Rivers point were entirely
abandoned, and the report of Governor Tryon shows that in
177-4 Fort Ontario was dismantled, and only a few men were
stationed there to keep it from falling into entire decay.

In that year Sir William Johnson, so long intimately
connected with the prosperity of Oswego, died suddenly at
his residence, near Johnstown. His title and the greater
part of his estate descended to his son. Sir John Johnson,
and his office of superintendent was conferred on his nephew
and son-in-law, Colonel Guy Johnson ; but the remarkable
influence which he wielded over both whites and Indians
could not be transferred to another. It has been supposed
by many that his death was hastened by anxiety concerning
the relations between England and the colonies, then rapidly
hastening to a rupture, but there is no very strong reason for
that opinion. There is no cause to doubt that had he lived
he would have adhered to the royal cause, and it is certain
that all his family and the majority of his especial friends
took that side of the great contest.



Distrust in the Mohawk Valley — Guy Johnson goes to Oswego — Great
Council of the Six Nations— Quiet in 1770— Activity— The Koyal
Greens at Oswego — The Gathering of the Clans — Brant's Rank —
General St. Leger — Sir John Johnson — Butler and Brant— Setting
forth to Victory— The Return— Oswego Abandoned— De-
stroyed by the Americans— The Attack on the Onondagas— Sir
John and Colonel Guy again — Re-establishinent of the Post — An
Attempted Surprise— Lost in the Snow— The Return— Peace and

When the Revolution broke out, in the spring of 1775,
the distrust which, for the previous few months, had been

growing up between the adherents of the Johnson family
and the Whigs of the Mohawk valley, grew stronger with
each successive day. The influence of the Johnsons with
the Six Nations was especially dreaded. The Oiieidas and
Tuscaroras, under the influence of their missionary, Samuel
Kirkland, were disposed to be friendly to the colonists. No
attempts were made to obtain their services, as the Ameri-
cans, -at that time, would have been only too glad to secure
the neutrality of all the tribes. It soon became certain that
Guy Johnson was intriguing with the Indians against the
Americans. Early in June he removed westward from the
lower Blohawk valley, first to Fort Stanwix and then to
Oswego, where he arrived on the 17th of June. He was
accompanied by most of the Mohawk Indians, by several of
the white loyalists of the valley, by Colonel John Butler, an
officer of the old French war, who has been mentioned in
this history, and by the celebrated Joseph Brant, a full-
blooded Mohawk, whom Colonel Guy had made his private
secretary. Sir John Johnson remained at Johnson Hall
nearly a year longer. The superintendent sent messengers
to the three western tribes, and, early in July, a large
council of warriors and others was assembled at Fort Ontario.
Colonel Johnson is said, in " Ramsey's History of the Revo-
lution," to have invited the Indians to come to Oswego to
" feast on the flesh and drink the blood of a Bostonian" (as
all the Whigs were frequently called by the loyalists), and
to have explained this ferocious expression as meaning that
they were to eat a roast ox and drink a hogshead of wine.
But, considering the natural disposition of the Indians, such
a phrase, if u.sed at all, could only tend to fill them with fe-
rocious hopes and stimulate them to bloody deeds.

There was then no garrison or stores' at Oswego, and
Johnson, before coming, had written to Niagara and Os-
wegatchie for supplies. One small sloop came from Niagara
with ninety barrels of provisions, — a small allowance for six-
teen hundred and forty-eight hungry Indians and a hundred
white men, which is stated in British official documents to
have been the number present. This must have included
the squaws and children. Colonel Johnson, in a letter to
Philip V. Livingston, stated the number of warriors at
thirteen hundred and forty, but this may have been an
exaggeration to frighten the Americans. The best esti-
mates give the total number of warriors in the four tribes
which adhered to the English at about sixteen hundred,
and it is hardly probable that so large a proportion of them
as Johnson mentions had gathered at Oswego.

At first the Indians were very unwilling to promise their
assistance. Colonel Johnson labored assiduously to engage
them on the English side, and in this he was warmly assisted
by Brant, a shrewd, acute Mohaivk of about thirty-three,
whose elder sister, Molly, had been the mistress of Sir
William Johnson for twenty-five years before his death.
Johnson, Butler, Brant, and others appealed to the Indians'
avarice, declaring that the colonists were few and poor ;
that the king was rich and powerful, both in money and
men ; that his soldiers were as numerous as the leaves of
the forest ; his gold as abundant as the dirt under their
feet; and, best of all, that his rum was as plentiful as the
waters of Lake Ontario.

Finally, the Indians entered into some kind of an engage-


luent to assist in defeiidiiig Lake Ontario and the St. Law-
rence from the Americans, but did not, as we understand
the British report, tlicn join in a complete offensive alliance.

The superintendent then delivered to them a lot of new
arms and other handsome presents, including a number of
brass kettles, which for more than half a century afterwards
were in use among the Seiiecas on the banks of the Gene-
see. In fiict, the account of Mary Jcmison, the celebrated
" white woman," then resident in that tribe, has it that the
English oflScials gave every Indian a suit of clothes, a brass
kettle, a gun, a tomahawk, scalping-knife, some ammunition,
and a piece of gold. It is out of the question, however,
that Guy Johnson could have had such stores at Oswego
at that time, and certainly he did not pay out several thous-
and dollars in gold, when he bad as yet received no definite
order to enlist the services of the Indians. The letter of
instructions to that effect was signed by Lord Dartmouth
on the 24th of July, 1775, and could not have reached
Colonel Johnson until September.

The council was closed about the Stli of July. Most of
the Indians returned home, but the Molumks, who had
abandoned their home, accompanied Colonel Johnson and
his white adherents to Canada. They set sail in their little
sloop and a few small boats on the 11th of July, the whole
number of whites and Indians being two hundred and twenty,
and made their way to Montreal. Colonel Butler, however,
proceeded to Niagara, of which post he was soon after placed
in command. Oswego was left unoccupied, except perhaps
by a few men to take care of the buildings.

During the year 1776 nothing of especial consequence
occurred in this county. The Indians were frequently
visited by British agents to confirm their friendship for
the king by presents and flattery, but they made no serious
raids against the frontier. The Americans at first had con-
siderable success in Canada, and this doubtless contributed
to keep the red men quiet.

But during the summer of 1776 our forces were driven
out of that province, and early in 1777 great preparations
were made by the British to follow up their success with
crushing effect. A large army under General Burgoyno
marched into northern New York, which was to be sup-
ported by another strong force, entering by way of Oswego
and sweeping down the Mohawk valley. There is some un-
certainty about the details, but it is pretty sure that Sir John
Johnson, with his regiment of " Royal Greens," and Colonel
Claus, Guy Johnson's deputy (and, like him, a son-in-law of
Sir William) came to Oswego as early as June, and began
making preparations for the intended onslaught. Colonel
Guy Johnson was at that time in New York, having visited
England with Brant the year before, and returned to that
port, whence the chief had been sent across the country,
through the American lines, to rouse the Indians. He
(Brant) had been making some threatening demonstrations
on the upper Susquehanna, but drew off, and in July came
to Oswego with his band.

Numerous other warriors came in, especially Seiieais, that
tribe being by far the largest and fiercest of the Six Nations.
x\bout the middle of July, Colonel John Butler, also a dep-
uty superintendent, came from Niagara to Oswego and held
a council with the warriors, requesting them to take up the

hatchet and engage in the projjoscd expedition. Some of
the Indians demurred, declaring that they bad been invited
to Oswego merely to hold a council and to see the British
whip the rebels, — not to fight themselves. But the usual
appeiJs to their cupidity and love of blood were made, and
they were soon persuaded to take an active part. Stone, in
his " Life of Brant," declares that from that time forward
that chief was acknowledged as head war-chief of all the Six
Nations. He gives, however, no authority for the statement,
and all the circumstances show to the contrary. Brant was
never spoken of as head-chief of the Six Nations in the
British dispatches, but only as " Brant," or "Joseph, the
Indian chief" He never signed himself a.s head-chief,
though he was fond of using the far inferior title of " cap-
tain," conferred on him by the king. Besides, there was
no head war-chief according to the old customs of the con-
federacy, and it is hardly probable that the English would
have undertaken to introduce such an innovation, which
would be certain to disgust all the Iroquois except the Mo-
hdwks, — especially the Seiiecas, who were more jwwerful
than all the other tribes who adhered to the British put
together. It was customary, however, among the Six Na-
tions to choose leaders for some particular battle or expe-
dition, and it is not improbable that Brant was thus selected
as commander of the Indians who were to accompany St.
Leger, and afterwards of similar expeditions.

Shortly after the council. General Barry St. Leger ar-
rived with a body of regulars. For a short time Oswego
bore once more the stirring and martial appearance to
which it had been a stranger since the days of the old
French war. Sir John Johnson, dark, sour-faced, and
scowling, was drilling bis regiment of Tories, whose green
coats covered hearts which, like his own, were fairly black
with hatred of their old neighbors of the Mohawk valley.
Big, burly, red-faced John Butler, of whom it could at least
be said that he was a good, hard fighter, was getting " But-
ler's Rangers" ready for action, and also giving attention to
the Indian department. Brant, tall, slender, keen, and sin-
ister in appearance, was gliding among the motley groups,
clad in half-civilized, half-Indian attire, and ready to use pen
or tomahawk as occasion might require. The scene was
filled up with throngs of green-coated Tories, red-coated
regulars, and naked Indians, while over all ruled Barry St.
Leger, a plain, stubborn British officer, driven half frantic
at times by the vagaries of his strange command, but never-
theless dreaming of the glory to be won by his triumphant
march to Albany.

Meanwhile the Americans had not been idlt;. Old Fort
Stanwix had been repaired and garrisoned, and had been
rechristencd Fort Schuyler, but in common parlance still
retained its former appellation, by which it will be called
in this work when it may be necessary to mention it. The
gallant Colonel Gansevoort had been placed in command.
General Herkimer had called the militia of Tryon county
to arms, though at first they responded but slowly. St.
Leger knew it was not all plain sailing in front of him, and
was determined that at he would not be surprised on
his march.

On the 27th of July the advance-guard set forth, con-
sisting of a small detachment of the Eighth or King's regi-


ment and a few Indians, under Lieutenant Bird. The
main body followed the next day. Once more the turbid
Oswego river and placid Oneida lake were vexed with the
stroke of multitudinous oars and paddles, while bateaux and
canoes bore white men and Indians on their mission of
death. Bird's Indians were extremely insubordinate. Hav-
ing got above the falls on the 27th he went forward the
next morning two miles, but found that no Indians were
accompanying him. He waited two hours, when sixteen
Senecas came up. Then he advanced to Three River point,
where he again waited two hours, when seventy or eighty
JtJissismtffas made their appearance. But these declined to
go any farther that day. Their canoes were full of fresh
meat, and Bird learned that they had stolen two oxen from
the army drove. They were determined to have a feast, and
poor Bird had to go forward without them. He proceeded
seven miles, encamped, and the next morning again set off
without his "savages." That night he encamped at Nine
Mile point, in the present town of Constantia, and the
next day proceeded to Wood creek.

Following the same route, St. Legcr, with the main body,
arrived at Nine Mile point on the 1st of July, where he
learned that Bird had already invested Fort Stanwix. He
sent forward Brant " with his corps of Indians" (by which
St. Leger may or may not have meant the whole Indian
force) to assist Bird, and proceeded as rapidly as possible to
join him with the army.

The .siege of Fort Stanwix, the gallant defense made
by Gansevoort, Willett, and their men, the bloody battle
of Oriskany, the relief brought by Arnold and Larned,
and the final abandonment of the siege, all lie outside
the purview of this work. Suifice it to say that in the
latter days of August the remains of the confident army,
which had started for Albany a month before, came hurry-
ing down the Oswego, defeated and crest-ftillen, its members
thinned by battle and sickness, its artillery abandoned in
the trenches before Stanwix, and its red allies having nearly
all departed in anger to their homes to mourn over their
many slaughtered brethren ; nay, it is said, on British au-
thority, having vented their wrath by plundering the boats
and murdering the straggling soldiers of King George.

From Oswego, St. Leger, with his regulars, proceeded
by way of Montreal to join Burgoyne. Butler, with his
rangers, returned to Niagara, and Sir John Johnson took
his Royal Greens back to Oswegatchie, or that vicinity.
The Surrender of Burgoyne in October put an end to all
hostile operations in New York for that season. Oswego
was probably entirely abandoned.

It was certainly unoccupied in March, 1778, and re-
mained so throughout the sgring, except perhaps for a
short time by parties pa.ssing from the St. Lawrence to
Niagara, or the reverse. In the forepart of July, Colonel
Gansevoort sent down Lieutenant McClellan to destroy Fort
Ontario and the buildings around. The lieutenant found
no one there but a woman and her children and a lad of
fourteen. The family he placed in an outhouse with their
furniture and some provisions, and then proceeded to burn
all the other buildings, and as far as possible, with his .small
force, to destroy the fortifications. The boy was taken as
a prisoner to Fort Stanwix. These events took place at |

Oswego almost exactly at the same time as the slaughter of

From this time forward very little of any consequence
occurred in Oswego County during the Revolution. It has
been generally supposed that a strong post was maintained
by the British at Fort Ontario, and that numerous bloody
raids against the frontiers were set on foot from that locality ;
but a close examination of the authorities shows that this is

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