If Brant was not at Wyoming, there were enough raids, burnings, ambushes, fights, and massacres which did take place during this summer under his leadership. One incident must suffice. German Flatts was the very flower of the Mohawk valley. A settlement of some sixty-five houses, was distributed equally on either side of the river. On one side stood the massive stone residence of the Herkimer family, used as a fort. One evening, half an hour before sunset, a scout brought word that Brant and several hundred warriors was on his way to this settlement. There had been four in the scout's party. The other three were killed. As the great and solemn sunset flung its dying splendor across the evening sky, there was an alarm and terror in every household, for ten miles along the valley. The poor people piled their most valuable furniture into canoes, and hurriedly made their way to Fort Herkimer, and Fort Dayton, on the opposite side of the river. All night the fugitives continued to arrive. Their houses and flocks had been abandoned. A heavy rainstorm occurred after midnight, adding to the misery of the unhappy people, who were dragging their things up the river bank to the forts.
Brant arrived, and halted in a neighboring ravine, little suspecting that his approach was known. Anxious eyes kept watch from the fort. At the first flush of dawn, the Indians could be seen swarming through the settlement. The black smoke and flames from the incendiary torch rolled up at nearly the same moment from every house in the place. The Indians waited, in the morning air, with drawn tomahawks, inpatient for the roasting inmates to rush forth. But they were disappointed. Not a scalp graced their victory. The unhappy settlers were forced to see every house and barn, one hundred and twenty in number, with the contents, and five mills burnt, and nearly a thousand head of livestock driven away.
Linked by a common fate with the melancholy Wyoming, is Cherry Valley. On the 10th of November, 1778, Brant and Walter N. Butler appeared suddenly before the place. No alarm had reached the settlement. For this there was a reason. All the scouts had been taken prisoners. The settlers were sleeping quietly in their houses. Even the officers of the fort were staying at the houses of the neighbors.
Just before daybreak the savages, a name which belongs equally to the Tory rangers and to Brant's Indians, dashed into the settlement. The house of Mr. Wells was first surrounded. The family was awakened by the bursting in of the door. Mr. Wells, his mother, his wife, three sons, and a daughter, were butchered in their beds. His sister Jane, a lovely girl, managed to get out of the house. She sought refuge in a woodpile, but was killed in the act of reaching it. The guards in the house were either killed or taken. Here too, was Captain Alden, commandant of the fort. He fled down the hill, pursued by an Indian. Refusing to stop, the savage hurled his tomahawk, with fatal accuracy. This was but a specimen of the horrid scenes.
Every house in the settlement was burnt. Thirty-two inhabitants, largely women and children, were slain, besides sixteen soldiers. In addition to this, some forty persons were taken prisoners. Most of the women and children were set free, but the rest were taken to Niagara.
For the atrocities at Cherry Valley, Brant's biographer claims, with much plausibility, that he was not responsible, that Walter N. Butler had entire command of the expedition. Indeed, there are many authentic instances where Brant interposed to save women and children from outrage. In this regard he differed from nearly all of the great Indian chiefs. He was always sensitive to any charge of cruelty.
There were other raids by Brant during this season. But they hardly deserve mention. Not more than twelve or fifteen firesides were desolated by each attack. What place can such small massacres find in history? One with fifty victims will do, but five hundred is better.
The whites managed to extract some sport out of affairs themselves. About this time the Onondagas were suspected by the Americans of infidelity. An expedition, under Colonel Van Schaick, fell upon their principal village, the capital of the confederacy, destroying it and numbers of the inhabitants. The immemorial council-fire was extinguished. The faithful Oneidas trembled in their moccasins at the fearful vengeance wreaked upon their neighbors. They at once sent an embassy to ask what it meant. "Was it done by mistake or design," they asked. "If our brethren, the Americans, meant to destroy us also, we will not fly--we will wait here and receive our death." "They were cut off by design. I was ordered to do it--it is done," was the reply. For the injury the Onondagas took ample revenge. Three hundred of their warriors fell upon the settlement of Schoharie, and destroyed it.
Another of Brant's exploits was the destruction of Minisink. In the massacre large numbers of whites suffered death. One man, Major Wood, was about to be killed when, either by accident or design, he made a Masonic signal, though he did not belong to the order. Brant was an enthusiastic Freemason, and at once rescued him. When the Indian leader found out the deception, he boiled over with rage, cursing the man terribly, but yet sparing his life.
In the summer of 1779, the colonies resolved on a united effort to crush the power of the Six Nations by an invasion of their country. The army for that purpose was strong and well equipped. Brant, on the other hand, rallied all his forces for the defense of his country. The battle took place on the site of the present city of Elmira, New York. It raged all day. The Americans gradually forced the enemy back. So many Indians were killed, that "the sides of the rocks next to the river appeared as though blood had been poured on them by pailfuls."
All was lost. The Indian warriors fled, taking women and children with them, and leaving their smiling country, with its populous and regularly laid out villages, its vast acreage of waving grain, its numerous orchards, in which the ruddy fruit was already peeping from among the clustering leaves, open to the destroyers' advance. Town after town was laid in ashes. Of Kanadaseagea, the capital of the Senecas, not one wigwam was left standing. Genesee, the principal western town, containing all the winter stores of the confederacy, was completely obliterated. The fields of grain were burnt. The very gardens were uprooted, and the harmless apple trees hewn down.
Yet the wrath of the invaders wreaked itself alone upon these inanimate objects. The Indians fled at their approach, leaving their villages silent and deserted. Fires were still burning in the wigwams. Iron pots, with their noonday meal, were still simmering over the coals. The rude cradle was still warm from the babe which had lain there. But no human being could be found. The hand which built the fire was invisible. The cook who had prepared the pot of broth was nowhere to be seen. The mother of the babe was out of sight. All were gone. The women and children were sent to Niagara. The warriors remained lurking in the forest, insane with wrath at the destruction of their lovely country, sometimes venting their rage in nameless tortures upon unfortunate stragglers whom they captured, but otherwise offering no resistance to the invaders,
The flight of the Iroquois on this occasion reminds one the flight of the Russians on Napoleon's march to Moscow. But in regard it is different. Napoleon found himself in a frozen wilderness. These invaders found themselves in a blooming garden. A soldier took the trouble to measure an ear of corn which he plucked from a rustling stalk. He found it to be twenty-two inches long. Another soldier made a rough count of the number of apple trees in a single orchard which was on the point of destruction. He estimated that there were fifteen hundred bearing trees. This was not unusually large. Of the number of orchards, the men said they were "innumerable." This, probably, included those of peach and pear trees. They were the product of toil and care of countless generations of Iroquois. "A wigwam can be built in two or three days, "the Indians sadly said; "but a tree takes many years to grow again."
Their sorrows became the source of dissension. There arose a peace party. Among the Senecas was a young orator, named Red Jacket. He had the gift of eloquence. He became the leader of the peace party. He spoke with thrilling earnestness of the folly of a war which was driving them forever from the lovely valley, which they had inherited from their fathers; a war, too, in which they fought, not for themselves, but for the English. "What have the English done for us," he exclaimed, drawing his proud form to its fullest height, and pointing with the zeal of despair toward the winding Mohawk, "that we should become homeless and helpless wanderers for their sakes?" His burning words sank seep into the hearts of his passionate hearers. It was secretly resolved by his army to send a runner to the American army, and ask them to offer peace on any terms.
Brant was the leader of the war party. All his tremendous prejudices and masterful abilities were enlisted in behalf of England. He hated the young and eloquent Red Jacket. Moreover, Brant was no orator. He could not contend with his gifted rival in mere words. He was rather a man of action, a Cromwell of great executive ability and possessing a will of iron. He heard of the plot to make peace. He kept his own council. The runner left the camp. Two confidential warriors were summoned by Brant. In a few stern words he explained to them that the American flag of truce must never reach the Indian camp. Its bearers must be murdered on the way, yet with such secrecy that their fate should not be known. The expectant party, waiting for the message in vain, were to believe that the Americans had scornfully refused to hear their prayer for peace. The plot was carried out. The man of words was vanquished. The man of deeds triumphed. The flag of truce never arrived.
General Sullivan had now destroyed the home of the proud Iroquois, and driven their families abroad to strange and inhospitable regions. More than forty populous towns had been literally blotted out from the map of the country. The landscape was no longer variegated with fields of golden grain, with burdened orchards, staggering beneath their tinted fruitage, with verdant pastures, dotted over with sleek and peaceful herds, nor with waving forests of ancient trees, whose emerald foliage formed such a rich contrast with the sunny sky and the winding river. As far as the eye could stretch, the prospect presented a single ominous color. That color was black. It was a landscape of charcoal! The American general was happy.
Instead of pressing on to Niagara, and destroying the military head-quarters of the north-west, he turned about. Only one ambition remained unfulfilled. He had no captives. Casting about in his mind, he remembered a few families of the Lower clan of the Mohawks, who, as will be recollected, had refused to follow Brant. They had remained peacefully at home in their wigwams and fields. They were neutral. They expected no danger. As General Sullivan thought of them his eye brightened. He would add the missing plume to his hat. He would take these Mohawks prisoners. Happy thought! Brilliant idea! It was carried into execution. The peaceful tillers of the soil were rudely torn from their homes. It is hardly necessary to add that they were soon released, by order of Sullivan's superiors. The general himself soon found it convenient to resign on account of ill-health.
The winter of 1779-80, was one of unprecedented rigor. The shivering Iroquois, at Niagara, suffered severely. But the fire of hate burnt in the heart of Brant as hot as ever. Long had he been meditating a terrible revenge upon the Oneidas, who had refused to follow his leadership, but had persisted in neutrality. Upon them he laid the blame of all his disasters. That winter he led his warriors across frozen rivers, and through snowy forests, to the home of the unsuspecting Oneidas. Of what followed we have no detailed history. The Oneidas had no historian. Their sufferings have passed, like the sufferers themselves, into the unremembered past. It is only known that Brant fell upon them without mercy, that their villages and wigwams, their storehouses, and castles, were suddenly destroyed, that vast numbers of them were slain, and that the survivors fled to the white men for protection.
The poor refugees, stricken for a fault which was not their own, were allotted rude and comfortless quarters near Schenectady, where they were supported by the government till the close of the war. Their misfortunes did not end with their dispersion. Driven from their homes, reduced to want, dependence, and abject poverty, they lapsed from their regular and industrious habits. They became intemperate and idle. Of the proud and loyal Oneidas, a few lazy drunkards came in time to be the only representatives.
In pursuing Brant's larger enterprises we omit wild fields of incidents and individual adventure. One brave man, Solomon Woodworth, lived all alone, in a block-house, eight miles from Johnstown. He was repeatedly attacked in his lonely stronghold, and managed not only to repulse such small bands as came that way but on one occasion, at least, pursued the Indians, and killed several. Another dramatic incident was the burning of Ellis's mills. They were located at the wild waterfall, where the foaming Mohawk plunges through a rocky gorge into the lower valley. Since the burning of the mills at Fort Herkimer, these were resorted to by the settlers from miles around, with their bags of grain carried on horseback. The mill was garrisoned by twelve men. The Indians attacked it at dead of night. The building was in flames before its defenders knew their danger. A brief and hopeless resistance was made, and then every man sought safety by flight. Six or seven were quickly captured.
Two of the men plunged into the race above the mill, leaving only their faces above the water, and hoping to escape discovery in the darkness. Before long, however, the red tongues of flame were thrust out through the windows. The glare became brighter and brighter. Glowing seams appeared between the logs, through which shone the fierce fires within the doomed building. The roar grew louder and louder. The yells of the shrieking savages mingled with the crackling of the flames. Snatching brands in their hands, they ran up and down the shore, eagerly watching for lurking whites. At last, the roof tree fell in with an infernal crash. Millions of sparks flitted upward, followed by dense volumes of smoke. The surroundings grew darker for a moment. But suddenly the pall lifted. Mighty billows of seething fire burst upwards into the heavens, as if furious at their confinement. In a moment the race became as light as day. The poor fellows were discovered, and put to death.
Two others, Cox and Skinner, had sought a more dangerous and yet safer hiding place. They were under the great water wheel, nearly choked with the dashing spray, The great embers from the conflagration above them dropped down, but were knocked off by the revolving water wheel. The savages sought for them in vain. When at last the mill was a smoking ruin, the Indians rode away with hideous yells. Then the poor fellows came out. They were severely burnt where coals had fallen on them. But they were safe.
From the beginning of 1780 the sufferings of the settlers of the lower Mohawk Valley steadily increased. It will be remembered that at the time of Sir John Johnson's hasty flight to Canada, he had secretly buried his papers and treasure. His estates were confiscated, and his splendid mansion passed into the possession of another. One morning, a year or so previous to the time of which we are writing, the owner was disturbed to find a hole dug in his garden walk, the marks of many footprints, and a number of papers scattered through the garden. A small band of Johnson's followers had recovered his chest of papers.
In the spring of '80, Sir John, incredible as it seems, made his way with five hundred men from Montreal to Johnstown, without his approach being discovered. His avowed object was the recovery of his treasure, which was still buried in the cellar. This expedition was one of the most impudent as well as brutal occurrences of the war. Entering Johnstown at dead of night, the ruffians proceeded to murder large numbers of the old acquaintances, neighbors, and friends of Sir John, and apply the torch to their homes. The treasures was recovered, the outrages consummated, and the strangers coolly made their retreat without a straw of opposition from the terrified people. On this occasion Jacob and Frederick Sammons were taken prisoners, of those adventures more hereafter.
On the 2d of August harvesters in the fields around Johnstown noticed dark columns of smoke from the direction of Canajoharie. A company was at once collected to march to the relief of the settlers, who were undoubtedly attacked by Indians. The place had, for defense, a block-house, called Fort Plain, but on this occasion the fort was without a garrison.
For some time the valley had been filled with rumors to the effect that Brant intended to attack a convoy of boats, carrying supplies to Fort Schuyler. To prevent this the militia from the lower part of the valley were withdrawn and dispatched up the river. As soon as this was done, the wily Brant led his warriors by swift marches to Canajoharie, which, in common with the rest had let her garrison go up the river. The scenes of slaughter and destruction which took place on this raid of Brant's were almost a duplicate, though, perhaps, covering a smaller territory, of those which had marked General Sullivan's great invasion of the Indian country during the previous year. In one regard it was much worse. The settlers were taken by surprise and had no time for flight. Great numbers of them were killed, and immensely more taken prisoner.
But still Brant's appetite for vengeance was unabated. Again he raised a force for a third invasion of the Mohawk Valley within a year. It was not enough to have equaled the work of Sullivan. It must be surpassed. To this end he and Sir John Johnson united their savages. To be sure, Johnson's men were white. History's verdict is that they were more savage and brutal and cruel in their warfare than the wild children of the forest by whose side they fought. The summer had brought a rich harvest to the glad settlers. When the season of the sere and yellow leaf approached it found granaries almost bursting with their golden treasures, and barns stuffed to the rafters with the sweetest hay and oats.
On the morning of October 16, 1780, the occupants of the little mud fort at Middleburg, far down the Mohawk Valley, and the settlers of the lovely region looked out at sunrise on a startling sight. In every direction barns, hay-stacks, granaries, and many houses were on fire. The product of the summer's toil was mounting to the skies in chariots of flame. Everywhere the people fled, abandoning all their effects, in the madness of fear. Their alarm was justifiable. Brant's army of fifteen hundred warriors and Tories was upon them without a single note of warning. At first, the enemy mounted their little cannon, and prepared to besiege the fort. But the little mud redoubt held plucky men.
Finding that the siege would delay them, Brant, a true master of guerilla warfare, gave up the notion of taking the fort, and swept on down the valley with his terrible band of destroyers. Houses and barns were burned, the horses and cattle killed or taken, and those inhabitants who were not safely within the walls of their little fortifications were either killed or taken captive. The very churches were fired.
But the torch of war was not applied to the property of Tories. Wherever lived a loyalist to England, the horde of destroyers stayed its ruthless hands. They passed by, leaving the property untouched. Then one of the strange sides of human nature displayed itself. The settlers, furious at their own wrongs, and aflame with passion at the sight of their disloyal neighbors' immunity from harm, issued from the forts, and with their own hands, completed the desolation of the valley, destroying every bit of Tory property.
As the invading army hurried on, transforming, with its breath of flame, the verdant valley into a mighty cinder, many a cabin became the scene of a tragedy, more thrilling than those performed behind the flashing footlights of any theater. The humble pioneers and their clinging families were enrolled in the terrible dramatis personae.
John Vraoman was on a scout some miles from his home. An Indian jumped out of a bush. Vraoman killed him. A second Indian bounded forward, his long and sinewy fingers reaching to clutch the white man's throat, but a lightning blow with the clubbed musket stretched the savage senseless on the sod. At that moment a swarm of savages started up in the forest. Vraoman fled. By great skill and marvelous endurance he eluded his pursuers. After hours of strenuous exertion, he neared his cabin. His heart leaped for joy at the thought that his wife and children were saved from the lonely, unprotected, and poverty-stricken life of the widow and the fatherless. Nearing the spot, he caught a smell of burning. His tired steps were quickened with anxiety. Too late! The cabin was a heap of glowing coals, the wife and children captives. He suffered but a few days of anguish. Brant sent back the captives, with a note on a birch bark, giving them sweet liberty.
A farmer was unloading a wagon of corn at his granary. Hearing a shriek from the house, he looked about to find a swarm of Indians and Tories surrounding it on all sides. "The enemy, my boys!" shouted the father, but, as he leaped down from the wagon, a rifle ball pierced his patriotic breast. The shriek came from his wife, who was tomahawked. Her five year old boy ran screaming to his fallen mother, his childish heart bursting with the frantic agony of sorrow. He knelt down in the crimson pool about the form he loved so well. In a moment a tomahawk ended his grief and life together.
An aged man in the fort at Middleburg owned a mill two miles away. His son had passed the night there alone. At the first discovery of the Indians, the white-haired father, knowing they would speedily attack the mill, started, regardless of earnest remonstrances on account of the danger of the attempt, to warn his son of his peril. He hoped to reach the mill before the savages, and succeeded. The father and son then hurried back to the fort, to find it already attacked. By a bold move they managed to get inside of the sheltering redoubt. Of the havoc wrought by Brant, one instance was the suffering of the large and prominent Vrooman family, three of whom were killed and nine carried captive to Canada.
These incidents are but a few drops from the bloody deluge. The invaders divided into two parties. The other division kept pace on the opposite side. In this way the country was laid waste in every direction. The goal of the expedition was Schenectady. It was never reached. Flying horsemen had long since carried news of the invasion of Albany. Too much time had been taken up in the advance. General Van Rensselaer, with a strong army, was on the way to meet the enemy, Brant and Johnson began a retreat. It was too late. A heavy battle was fought. At sunset the advantage was with the Americans, but they failed to push it, and fell back to encamp. That night the enemy fled, without the rustle of a leaf or the rattle of a bayonet.
Some funny things occur in a forced retreat. Nine Tories were hurrying through the forest, each trying to outdo the other in the speed of the retreat. Suddenly a stern voice cried out in the darkness, "Lay down your arms." They obeyed with precipitation, and were made prisoners. They could not see their hand before them. Of the number of their captors they had no idea. Every Tory was securely pinioned and led away. In the morning they found themselves in a little block-house. Their captors were seven militia-men. The nine had surrendered to the seven!
An incident of the invasion is worth relating. The Senecas were led by a half-Indian named Corn Planter. His father was a white trader, who had, many years before, on one of his trips, been enamored of a pretty Seneca maiden. Corn Planter became one of the living evidences of his affection. The son was not ignorant of his father's name and whereabouts. With a dozen trusty followers, he sought the old man's cabin, where he lived in peace with his family, and took him prisoner. After proceeding a few miles the proud Seneca stepped up, and said: "I am your son. You are my father. I am a warrior. Many scalps have I taken. Many a captive I have tortured. Yet you have nothing to fear. If you will come with me to the distant lodges of my people, I will cherish you in your old age, and give you plenty of venison. If you scorn the simple life of the children of the forest, and prefer to return to the arms of your pale-face squaw and the caresses of your pale-face children, my brothers, it is well. You are free to choose."
It may well be imagined that the old man, who was or wished to be ignorant of his near relationship to the stalwart savage, chose pretty quickly, and scampered off home as fast as he could. The young chief bowed to his wishes, and sorrowfully turned to hide himself in the forest.
The common name of John Shell, a Dutch settler who lived with his family in a lonely block-house four miles from Fort Herkimer, has been embalmed in an incident which comes down to us. A band of sixty or seventy Mohawks suddenly surrounded the little fortress one day, and laid siege. Mrs. Shell loaded the rifles, while her husband and sons fired them. The attack lasted from two o'clock until sunset. McDonald, the leader of the enemy, made repeated efforts to break in the door of the structure. He was in the act of using a heavy iron crowbar when he received a shot in the leg. He fell. None of his men were just at hand. The bold Dutchman, Shell, flung open the door and dragged him in -- a prisoner. The cartridges found on him were geedily seized by the defenders, whose stock of ammunition was dangerously low.
Enraged at the capture of their leader, the enemy made a furious assault. Five guns were stuck through the port-holes. Quick as a flash, Mrs. Shell seized an ax and ruined every gun by bending the barrels. As the Indians fell back, Shell ran up to second story and calling out to his wife told her Captain Small was at hand from Fort Dayton with re-enforcements. Then, in a loud voice, he shouted to the imaginary Small to march his men around by the left side. It was a ruse, and it succeeded. The Indians fled, supposing that a heavy force was at hand. Shell hastily collected his family, and placing such food as they had, within reach of their wounded prisoner, set out for Fort Dayton, leaving McDonald in solitary possession of the block-house. He was removed the following day, but died from an unskillful amputation.
The war of the American Revolution at last came to an end. For Brant's wonderful raids there was no longer opportunity. He received from the British government for his tribe a new home on the Grand River, Canada. Here he devoted himself to the work of civilizing and improving his people. He made another trip to England, being received with more splendor and ceremony than before. This was in consideration of his eminent services in the Mohawk Valley.
During the Indian wars of the west, his prejudices were all against the United States, though he never actually took the field. Hr translated a number of devotional books into English, and sought to induce his people to give up the uncertainties and demoralizations of the chase and substitute agriculture. His own opinion, as expressed at a dinner party given him by the distinguished Aaron Burr, was that the civilization of the Indians must take place through their intermarriage and mingling of blood with whites. His correspondence, of which much is yet extant, reveals a rugged and powerful intellect, on which his associations with white men had exerted a marked influence. He encouraged missionaries to come among his people, and renewed his Christian professions, which had, perhaps, been suspended or eclipsed while he was hurling his warriors like destroying lightnings upon the defenseless inhabitants of the Mohawk Valley. His letters reveal a proud, sensitive spirit, jealous of its dignity, and which could not brook the slightest imputation of dishonor. Nothing escaped the attention of his eminently diplomatic mind, whether it transpired in the cabinets of ministers or around the council fires of the distant tribes of western Indians. He erected for himself a fine mansion on the western shore of Lake Ontario, where he lived in unprecedented splendor. Here he held his barbaric court, "with a retinue of thirty negro servants, and surrounded by gay soldiers, cavaliers in powdered wigs and scarlet coats, and all the motley assemblage of that picturesque era."
Two or three times Brant condescended to visit the eastern cities, receiving every attention from the great men of the day. That "uneasy lies the head which wears the crown was freshly demonstrated by his career. On one of trips east he was followed by an assassin, a Dutchman, from the Mohawk valley, whose entire family had been murdered by Brant's warriors. The man shadowed him day and night, seeking a convenient opportunity to kill him. Brant knew his danger, and took unusual precautions. One day the assassin had well-nigh accomplished his purpose. Brant had taken a room in a New York hotel, which fronted on Broadway. Looking out of the window, he saw his enemy on the opposite side of the street, aiming a gun at him. The alarm was given, and the Dutchman taken care of.
On the way home, after this or a similar trip, Brant wanted to go by way of the Mohawk valley, a region so dear to him by reason of its associations, older than the dreadful scenes of the war. There as a boy he had been employed at the baronial hall of his friends and patron, Sir William Johnson. There, too, his people had from time immemorial lived, and loved, and died. But the people of the valley confronted this sentiment of Brant with a widely different one. If any man was ever hated with all the abhorrence of which human nature is capable, such was the feeling with which Brant was regarded throughout the entire length and breadth of the Mohawk valley. When word came that the monster was to pass through the country, the settlers prepared, with exultant curses, to kill him. A rumor of the danger reached Brant in time for him to change his route and escape secretly by another way.
Brant's ascendancy among the Iroquois was not maintained without some heart-burnings. His old enemy, Red Jacket, gathered a number of malcontents around his standard, and at a pretended meeting of the sachems of the confederacy, during Brant's absence, he was impeached and formally deposed from the head chieftancy of the Six Nations. When the old warrior returned he confronted his enemies in public council, boldly defied and denied their calumnies and charges and demanded a fair hearing before his people. For reasons which Americans of the present generation will readily understand, the military fame and prestige of the great war chief overcame even the burning invectives of Red Jacket, and Brant triumphed over all opposition.
One unfortunate affair made a terrible impression on his mind, and he was never really himself again. One of his sons was in the habit of getting drunk. While on one of his sprees he entered his father's room and commenced a storm of cursing and abuse. The exact circumstances are unknown, but, Brant in a sudden heat, stabbed his son, from the effects of which he died. The old man never ceased to lament the deed, and it is said he would lie awake at night and cry by the hour.
On November 24, 1807, as the shrill winds of winter began to whistle through the forest, and the first light snow spread a delicate mantle over the earth, the old chief looked out upon the whitened landscape for the last time. He had been in ill-health for quite a while. That day a sudden change for the worse took place. After several hours of suffering, Thayendanegea, Joseph Brant, turned his face to the wall, and died. Among his last words were those to his adopted nephew, in which he uttered the burden of his heart. "Have pity on the poor Indian; if you can get any influence with the great, endeavor to do them all the good you can."
In 1876, William Cullen Bryant, the poet, whose lyre is now attuned to celestial harmonies, visited the old house of Brant. His description will form a pleasant conclusion to our story.
"To visit this quaint old mansion and find it untenanted for the moment, as chanced to the writer one sunny day last June, is like stepping backward from the nineteenth century into the last quarter of the eighteenth. You enter a spacious hall, and turning to the right, find yourself in a large old-fashioned drawing room, whose front windows look out upon the blue expanse of Burlington Bay.
"On the opposite side of the room is a grate, surmounted by an absurdly tall mantel, and flanked on each side by a curious, arched recess. Life-size oil portraits of Brant, in his paint and war-dress; of John Brant, the ideal of an Indian here; of Sir William Johnson and members of his family, in stiff wigs and sullen coats, richly laced, stare down upon you from the walls.
"Upon the mantel lies Brant's dagger, which drank the blood of his ruffianly son Isaac; carelessly disposed upon a table are a pair of richly ornamented dueling pistols, the gift of the Duke of Northumberland; there lies his tomahawk, yonder hangs the queer conch-shell medal, which he wore, and in the corner is flung his small sword, its ivory handle studded with gems, a testimonial from his sacred majesty, George the Third, to his gallant and faithful ally. So carelessly are these and other relics strewn about the room as to lend encouragement to the fancy that the old chief had hurriedly thrown them down, expecting momentarily to return and claim them. A dreamy atmosphere pervades the apartment disposing the mind to reverie and rendering it hospitable to visions of the past.
"The writer, on the occasion mentioned, instinctively cast a look toward the door, expecting to hear the tread of moccasined feet, to catch a glimpse of those swarthy features, and be transfixed by a glance of the basilisk eyes which are reproduced in the portrait over the mantel, But the spell was broken by the hum of approaching voices, and a peal of childish laughter, proceeding from three bright little elves, descendants in the fourth generation from Joseph Brant.
"I can readily credit the rumor reported to me in good faith by a neighboring farmer, that Brant house is haunted."
Retyped and reformatted by Ray and Kathy Leigh