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Father Marquette. 

Jesuit Relations." Third Edition. 

Daniel Boone. 


Horace Greeley. 

By WILLIAM A. LINN, for many years Man 
aging Editor of the " New York Evening 

Sir William Johnson. 

By AUGUSTUS C. BUELL, Author of "Paul 
Jones, Founder of the American Navy." [In 


By EDWIN ASA Dix. [In preparation.] 

Sam Houston. 

By Prof. GEORGE P. GARRISON, of the Univer 
sity of Texas. [In preparation.] 

Sir William Pepperell. 

By NOAH BROOKS. [In preparation.} 

Each I2mo. Illustrated. $1.00 net. 
Postage, 10 cents additional. 








Author of " Paul Jones, Founder of the 
American Navy" 

* jN[ llustrated 
cr r HE 








Published June, 1903 



Sir William Johnson .... Frontispiece 

Sir Peter Warren 8 

Fort Johnson, near Amsterdam, N. Y. (from a recent 

photograph) 18 

Fort Johnson, near Amsterdam, N. Y. (from an eight 
eenth century print) 58 

King Hendrick of the Mohawks 146 

Joseph Brant ......... 158 

From a portrait in oil by Romney 
The battle of Lake George 162 

King Hendrick and Sir William Johnson . . .200 
Bronze statue at the State Park, Lake George 

Map showing Fort Stanwix treaty line, negotiated by 

Sir William Johnson in 1768 244 








THE year 1715 was epochal. It witnessed 
the end of one great chapter in the history of 
civilization and the beginning of a new one yet 
greater. The chapter that ended then was 
the one which embraced the stubborn and 
bloody dynastic wars that since 1672 had 
resulted from the collision between the stern, 
sullen genius of William of Orange and the 
reckless, unscrupulous ambition of Louis 
XIV. For forty-two years war had raged 
everywhere, broken only in its devastation by 
such brief and hollow truces as Nimwegen 
and Ryswick. True, William died in 1702, 
killed by the stumbling of his clumsy charger 
just at the threshold of a new campaign. But 
during the thirteen years of his reign as King 
of England he had built up a party of aggres 
sive patriotism, which has since proved the 


Sir William Johnson 

founder of the British Empire as we know it 

For twelve years after William died, this 
party under the reign of a really great though 
rather indolent woman, Queen Anne, carried 
forward William s projects and executed his 
policies with no less vigor and, possibly, with 
even more success, than he himself could have 
done alive. I have seen the conflicts of Will 
iam and Louis described in some histories as 
" religious wars." They were anything but 
that. They were dynastic and political wars. 
William may be called the inventor of the 
" balance of power." He was the originator 
of coalitions. The England that he took from 
the Stuarts in 1689 was an insular province 
near the coast of Europe. The England that 
he left to Queen Anne and John Churchill 
in 1702 was the prime factor in Europe, 
and the last vision that faded before his 
dying eyes was the dawn of the British 

It is a strange fact that, with all her wealth 
of literature, England has no thorough history 
of her greatest modern king! A few great 
soldiers have been born to the purple since the 
dark ages Gustav Adolf, Charles XII, Peter 
of Russia, and Frederic of Prussia. But no 
man of royal birth has ever combined the sol- 

His Early Life in Ireland 

dier and the statesman as William did. It 
may, perhaps, be fortunate for England that 
the task of carrying William s statecraft into 
complete execution passed by legacy, as it 
were, from his hands into those of Marlbor- 
ough ; for the Great Duke was a greater man 
than even the Great King. And in all human 
probability the commander who won Blen 
heim and Malplaquet was a safer instrument 
of destiny than the king who lost Steenkerke 
and Neerwinden. 

The year 1715 witnessed the end of Louis 
XIV s long and turbulent reign and the acces 
sion of Louis XV to the Bourbon throne 
under the regency of the able and dissolute 
but peaceful Duke of Orleans. It also marked 
the permanent solution of dynastic chaos in 
England by the installation of the sturdy, 
and, in the long run, conservative, House of 

But more important than any or all of 
these events, so far as the destinies of the 
Western Hemisphere were concerned, was 
the fact that in 1715 began a period of peace 
that lasted a generation, during which the 
Anglo-Saxon colonies along the Atlantic slope 
found opportunity for that development of 
resource and unity which, forty-five years 
later, enabled them to expel Latin power from 


Sir William Johnson 

North America, and, sixty years after, to cre 
ate our Republic. 

It seems fittingly coincident that this 
epochal year of 1715 should have been the 
birth-date of a boy destined to play a colossal 
part in the new era then at its dawn. He was 
the son of Christopher Johnson and his wife, 
Anne Warren, and he first saw light at War- 
renpoint, County Down, Ireland. I have seen 
in a so-called Life of Sir William Johnson, 
printed in Canada about sixty years ago, the 
statement that his father was " an obscure 
Irish schoolmaster, and a cripple ! " It is 
possible that in his younger days Christopher 
Johnson may have taught school. But from 
1692 till 1708 he was an officer in a regiment 
of heavy cavalry, then known as Cadogan s 
Horse a regiment that has maintained con 
tinuous organization more than two hundred 
years, and is now the Fifth Kegiment of 
Dragoon Guards in the British Army. 

In 1715, when his son William was born, 
Mr. Johnson held the post of local magis 
trate for the bailiwick of Carlingford, to 
which he was appointed in 1709 as a reward 
for long and faithful service under King Will 
iam and Marlborough. He was, indeed, " a 
cripple" at that time, as the Canadian biog 
rapher says. But his physical disability a 


His Early Life in Ireland 

bent and withered leg was honorable, be 
cause it was due to a French bullet that hit 
him in the famous charge of Lord Cadogan s 
Cavalry Brigade at Oudenarde a charge 
that needed only a Tennyson to make it im 
mortal. Whether he was "obscure" or not 
is hardly worth discussion. At any rate, he 
held a social rank that enabled him to marry 
Anne Warren, daughter of a commodore and 
sister of an admiral in the British navy. 

If there is anything congenital in the mar 
tial spirit, it may be that the wonderful mili 
tary talents subsequently developed by Will 
iam Johnson were transmitted to him from the 
loins of the veteran of the wars in Flanders, 
who could count his battles from Namur to 
Oudenarde. So when his young wife "Mis 
tress Nancy" as the society dialect of those 
days had it presented a bouncing boy to the 
veteran of Flanders, the father named him 
after the old fighting king who had been his 
commander at Namur. Of William s child 
hood and youth there is scanty record. In 
May, 1726, his uncle, Admiral Warren, makes 
the following entry in his diary, or, as he 
called it, his "log ashore": 

. . . Visiting me Mistress Nancy Johnson, with 
her Young Son, William, aged eleven. William is 
a Spritely Boy, well grown, of good parts, Keen 


Sir William Johnson 

Wit but Most Onruly and Streperous ! I see in him 
the Makings of a Strong Man. Shall keep my 
Wether Eye on this lad ! 

The importance of the old sea-dog s 
"wether eye" as a factor in his nephew s for 
tunes will appear later on. 

When William was fourteen the usual 
family consultation was held to determine 
what should be done with him. The consen 
sus of domestic opinion was that he should 
be what they called in those days "the King s 
Own." That meant either the army or the 
navy. But, to the amazement of every one, 
the youngster declared that he had made up 
his mind to study law and be a barrister. 
After some vain argument, the family acqui 
esced in the boy s choice, and he was sent to 
the ancient Academy of Newry, where he soon 
immersed himself in Latin conjugations and 
the Anabasis. It is not recorded that he was 
particularly apt. He grew rapidly, but his 
development of body seems to have outrun 
that of mind. At any rate, the "onruly and 
streperous " quality mentioned by his sailor 
uncle, at an earlier period, appears to have 
abided with him; because in his seventeenth 
year, or about the middle of his third year at 
the Academy, his curriculum ended suddenly 
in a peremptory expulsion. 


His Early Life in Ireland 

The immediate cause of this was an at 
tempt on the part of the Moderator to chas 
tise him, which resulted in failure, disastrous 
to the pedagogue and dismal to young Will 
iam. He was not only expelled from the 
school, but taken before a magistrate on a 
charge of aggravated assault and battery, 
fined seven guineas, and "put on the limits" 
for twenty-one days ! 

At the end of his period of detention young 
William returned to the paternal abode at 
Warrenpoint, only to encounter fresh trouble. 
Sixteen years service with "the Army in 
Flanders" had made a martinet of Squire 
Christopher, and twenty-four years of local 
magistracy had imbued him with Spartan 
theories as to the majesty of law. There 
fore, though his tall son William was un 
questionably by long odds the physical supe 
rior of the old and crippled parent, the latter 
did not hesitate to subject him, upon his 
return home, to the kind of discipline in 
which the robust pedagogue had so signally 

This flagellation William endured with 
filial grace, doubtless on the principle that 
it did not hurt him much, and did the old 
gentleman a great deal of good. 

The next three or four years of his life 

Sir William Johnson 

were uneventful. He served for some time 
as magistrate s clerk in his father s office. 
But all the time he diligently read law and 
history. So apt a law-student was he and so 
able a preceptor did he find in a local barris 
ter of the name of Byrne, his father s cousin, 
that he was listed for examination at the 
spring assizes in 1737 for admission as a 
junior barrister. But a month or two before 
the assizes met, an opportunity was offered 
to him which permanently turned the current 
of his life. 

Some years prior to that time his uncle, 
Admiral Sir Peter Warren, had purchased, 
under royal grant, a large tract of land in 
the colony of New York, "scituate in the 
Valley of Mohock, west of the trading-post 
called Schenectady, and south of the river 
called Mohock." The settlements of the Pal 
atine Germans and Holland Dutch were push 
ing up the valley of the Mohawk rapidly, 
under the benign influence of the long peace, 
so that by 1737 Sir Peter s land had acquired 
market value and was worth looking after. 
He therefore offered to his young nephew, 
then barely twenty-two years old, the chief 
stewardship of this estate, with the general 
agency of all his interests in America, and a 
power of attorney "to buy and sell or lease 



His Early Life in Ireland 

real estate, to incur debts or pay demands, 
and in all respects to do all things in the 
name of Peter Warren, the same and with 
equal validity and binding force as if the said 
Peter Warren had done them with his own 
hand and under his own seal." That Admi 
ral Warren had faith in the judgment and 
integrity of his erstwhile "most onruly and 
streperous" nephew may be inferred from the 
fact that this sweeping power of attorney 
was made to last "during the lifetime of the 
said William Johnson." 

Joyfully accepting the great opportunity 
which may, perhaps, be described as due to 
the keen vision of that "wether eye" the old 
sea-warrior had long ago determined to 
"keep on this lad" young Johnson sailed 
late in the summer of 1737 from Dundalk to 
Bristol, and thence to New York, where he 
arrived in December of that year. His 
papers indicate that he spent the winter of 
1737-38 in New York city, making plans and 
laying in supplies for active operations in 
his new field of duty early in the spring. 1 

1 During the winter of 1737-38 that young Johnson spent 
in New York city he was the guest of his aunt, Sir Peter War 
ren s wife. Lady Warren was Susan DeLancey, daughter of 
Stephen DeLancey, one of the richest merchants in New York, 
and the family held leadership in the most refined and aris 
tocratic society of the colonial metropolis. In this select social 
2 9 

Sir William Johnson 

As soon as navigation was opened in the 
North Biver, in the spring of 1738, Johnson 
proceeded to Albany with a sloop-load of 
implements for subduing the forest, includ 
ing a "set of mill-irons" and a "run of stone." 
He also took with him about half a dozen 
mechanics of various trades. From Albany 
the material for the new settlement was trans 
ported by land to a point on the south side 
of the Mohawk Biver, a short distance west 
of the mouth of Schoharie Creek, where he 
founded a settlement on his uncle s land. 
This settlement was then known as "War- 
rensbush" by the Dutch and "Warrensburg" 
by the English-speaking settlers, but it has 
long since disappeared from the map. Here 
young Johnson remained about five years, 
diligently improving his uncle s property by 
building mills, making roads, and clearing 
land; also by selling land in farm tracts 
and encouraging and aiding the settlers to 
clear it. 

The young agent for Admiral Warren s 
estate in the forest soon found that its exact 
location was ill-defined and its boundaries 

circle William bore himself with tact, dignity, and grace 
worthy of wider experience and maturer years, and in it he 
met many men whose interest and influence were vastly use 
ful to him later on. 


His Early Life in Ireland 

quite conjectural. However, this was usu 
ally true of kingly grants in the American 
wilderness during those days, and the prob 
lem was not considered formidable. At any 
rate, the particular point first occupied was 
not in dispute, and William Johnson began 
his task of subduing the forest with the tre 
mendous energy and keen judgment that 
made him the colossal pioneer he proved 
to be. 

Thus far I have referred to Warren as an 
admiral and a baronet. As a matter of fact, 
at the moment when William Johnson began 
operations in the Mohawk Valley his uncle, 
who owned the grant, was only senior cap 
tain or commodore of the British squadron 
on the North American station, his flagship 
being the 28-gun frigate Squirrel. He was, 
however, promoted to the rank of rear-admi 
ral in 1739, vice-admiral in 1745, and was 
made a baronet. It may be worth while to 
remark here that Stone, in his generally accu 
rate and admirable Life of Sir William John 
son, says that Admiral Sir Peter Warren 
was born in 1704. This may have been a 
typographical error. At any rate, the navy 
records of England show that Warren was 
rated a midshipman in 1706, commissioned a 
lieutenant in 1712, post-captain in 1724, and 

Sir William Johnson 

was commodore on the North American sta 
tion in 1737-38. In those days midshipmen 
were usually rated in the British navy at 
from twelve to fourteen years of age. While 
we have not been able to find the exact date 
of Admiral Warren s birth, it may be pre 
sumed that he was at least twelve years old 
in 1706 or ten in 1704. Instead of the latter 
date, Stone should, doubtless, have said 1694. 
Young Johnson proceeded diligently to 
improve and develop his uncle s estate. 
Much of it was sold off in farms of from 150 
to 300 acres, and settlement was rapid. Sir 
Peter had hoped to preserve the estate intact 
and rent its lands in long leases to tenants. 
But William soon advised him that the Dutch 
and Scotch-Irish settlers were averse to rent 
als and would take the land only in fee simple 
upon easy terms of payment. So, rather 
than let his grant remain an unproductive 
wilderness, Sir Peter reluctantly consented 
to sell his land, and in a few years the most 
of it had passed out of his hands, leaving him 
the possessor of a snug sum of money and a 
large fund of mortgages drawing a fair rate 
of interest. Sir Peter died in 1752, and then 
William Johnson acquired possession of such 
of his lands as remained unsold probably 
about one-third of the original area. 

His Early Life in Ireland 

From this time on, for the sake of conve 
nience, I shall refer to Johnson as "Sir Will 
iam," although he was not actually made a 
baronet until some years later. 

Sir William passed five years at Warrens- 
bush 1738-43. But he never intended to 
make it his permanent home, nor was he 
content with the occupation of agent for a 
landlord. He had not been at Warrensbush 
two years before he acquired by purchase a 
tract of several thousand acres, on part of 
which a portion of the city of Amsterdam 
now stands. This tract lay north of the 
Mohawk River, and Johnson acquired title to 
it in 1741. He at once began building a sub 
stantial stone house, known as "Fort John 
son" or "Mount Johnson," which is still 
standing, about a mile west of the corporate 
limits of Amsterdam. He also built a saw 
mill and grist-mill on a water-power running 
through his lands. Sir Peter Warren heard 
of these operations and, being apprehensive 
that Sir William intended to give up the 
charge of his estate and set up in business for 
himself, wrote two or three rather severe let 
ters to his nephew. The latter, however, 
assured his uncle that, whatever he might do 
on his own account, it would not in the least 
degree interfere with his care for the inter- 

Sir William Johnson 

ests of the Warren estate, and ultimately 
pacified the admiral on that point. 

Sir William s five years at Warrensbush 
were not eventful in any broad sense. But 
he made it a preparatory school for the great 
destiny that awaited him. Apart from the 
care of his uncle s estate and, after 1741, the 
development of his own on the north side of 
the river, he found time to learn, to a degree 
never surpassed and seldom if ever equaled 
by any white man, the character, ways, man 
ners, modes of thinking, and the language of 
the Iroquois Indians. 

He soon discovered that the management 
of Indian affairs, then conducted by a Board 
of Colonial Commissioners, was rotten to the 
core. There was no system whatever in the 
regulation of traffic between the whites and 
Indians. Any adventurer able to pay the 
small license fee required, or enjoying the 
favor of a commissioner, could obtain a 
permit without any inquiry whatever as to 
his antecedents, character, or responsibility. 
The result was that the Indian trade had 
fallen, almost without exception, into the 
hands of sordid, unprincipled sharpers, who 
never thought of an honest deal with any red 
man, but cheated and swindled the Indians at 
every turn. 

His Early Life in Ireland 

About this time 1741 George Clinton, 
the father of General Sir Henry Clinton of 
the British Army, was appointed Colonial 
Governor of New York, though he did not 
actually take up the duties of the office until 
1743. However, Sir William immediately 
began a correspondence with him, which 
became voluminous, so that by the time Gov 
ernor Clinton assumed control, he had the 
benefit of Sir William s keen insight and 
thorough personal observation to guide him 
in the administration of Indian affairs, which 
had then become the most important element 
of executive responsibility in the colony of 
New York. 

George Clinton was a veteran naval officer 
and at the time of his appointment to be Colo 
nial Governor of New York held the rank of 
vice-admiral. His only previous experience 
in a civil capacity had been that of Governor 
of Newfoundland for eight or nine years ; but 
that was a mere sinecure, as there were not 
more than a thousand white people in New 
foundland at that time, while the few hun 
dred Micmac Indians living there took care of 
themselves and needed little or no attention. 
Hence, he was not in any wise prepared for 
the turmoil of faction and the subtlety of 
political intrigue that distracted the councils 

Sir William Johnson 

of New York. Still, he held his post for 
ten years 1743-53 and whatever may have 
been his other administrative shortcomings, 
the management of the Indian Department 
during his term of office left nothing to be 
desired simply because, as soon as he had 
authority to do so, he lodged the whole power 
and responsibility of that office in the hands 
of Sir William Johnson. Admiral Clinton 
and Admiral Warren were warm friends and 
had been shipmates. No doubt a good word 
or two at the proper moment from Warren 
had done much to anchor Sir William in Clin 
ton s confidence. 

The most important event in Sir Will 
iam s five years residence at Warrensbush 
had been his marriage with Miss Katharine 
Weisenburg in 1739. This young woman 
was the daughter of Jacob Weisenburg, a 
Lutheran clergyman, who had given her the 
rudiments of a fair education. But the fam 
ily became impoverished, and Katharine was 
"bound out" as a servant when about four 
teen years old to a Mr. Phillips, who lived 
near Warrensbush. Soon after he settled at 
the latter place, William Johnson saw this 
girl, fancied her, and "bought her indentures" 
from Mr. Phillips. This was in 1739, and as 
soon as she became "his property" by pur- 

His Early Life in Ireland 

chase of her indentures, he married her; the 
ceremony, according to W. Max Eeid, author 
of The Mohawk Valley, being performed by 
the Rev. Mr. Barclay, rector of Queen Anne s 
Chapel at Fort Hunter. She bore to Sir 
.William three children: Anne, born 1740; 
John (afterward Sir John), born 1742; and 
Mary, born 1744. 1 

At length, in the early spring of 1743, the 
new stone mansion at Mount Johnson was 
completed, and Sir William transferred his 
family and household to it from the log house 
which had been his habitation at Warrens- 
bush. Some idea of the tremendous energy 
of the man may be formed from the fact that 
during the two years of his possession of the 
Mount Johnson tract he had not only built on 
it a commodious and, for those times, elegant 
stone mansion, but had built a large dam, 
forming a valuable water-power, a sawmill 
capable of turning out 1,000 to 1,500 feet of 
lumber a day, and had laid the foundations of 
a flouring-mill, which was completed and in 
operation the following year (1744). But 
more than all that, he had, by means of hired 

1 Some idea of the vicissitudes possible on that Old New 
York Frontier may be formed from the fact that a woman, 
destined to be the wife of one baronet of England and the 
mother of another, was a "bound servant" at fourteen, and 
that her husband had to buy her before he could marry her. 


Sir William Johnson 

labor in a colony where it was difficult to in 
duce men to work for wages, cleared and 
made ready for cultivation nearly 500 acres 
of the most fertile land to be found anywhere 
in the great "Mohawk Flats." 

Much of this force of laborers he had 
brought over himself from the County Down, 
where his father acted as his employment- 
agent. During the year 1741 about sixty 
families came over sturdy Scotch-Irish like 
himself. He paid all their expenses and had 
comfortable log houses prepared for their 
reception when they arrived. In accordance" 
with the custom of those days, these immi 
grants came as " bound servants," but upon 
arrival they were immediately released from 
their indentures by Sir William, and lands 
belonging to his estate were allotted to them 
by long leases for nominal rental, which they 
paid in labor, or, as the saying was, "worked 

This policy Sir William followed for many 
years, until he had gathered about him a 
numerous clan of frontier yeomanry as loyal 
to him as were ever the retainers of a feudal 
baron. On one occasion, hearing that a con 
siderable number of German refugees had 
sailed from a port in Holland bound for New 
York, he arranged with his brother, Warren 

His Early Life in Ireland 

Johnson, an officer in the British navy, then 
on shore duty in New York as keeper of the 
king s magazines, to meet them upon their 
arrival and persuade them to come to the 
Mohawk Valley and settle upon his estate. 
Captain Johnson succeeded, and the entire 
little colony, numbering about 160 souls, set 
tled upon the extension of Sir William s 
estate, commonly known as the Johnstown 
tract. Besides all these vast undertakings 
vast, indeed, for their times and conditions 
Sir William established, in 1744, a trading- 
post at Oquawgo or Oghwaga, an Indian vil 
lage on the Susquehanna, at the foot of the 
mountain from which it derived its name. Its 
location was near the present site of the vil 
lage of Windsor, Broome County, N. Y., and 
about five or six miles below it on the river 
was the principal village of the remnant of the 
Tuscaroras, who had been adopted into the 
Iroquois Confederacy. 

Oquawgo, which lay more than one hun 
dred miles south of Sir William s home, was 
then an Indian village of about one hundred 
lodges, many of which were quite commodi 
ous habitations built of logs or of poles cov 
ered and roofed with bark, having fire 
places with chimneys, and otherwise far be 
yond the average aboriginal abode in the 

Sir William Johnson 

essentials of decency and comfort. The popu 
lation of this village was made up of people 
from every tribe of the Iroquois, and at the 
time of which I now write (1744) it had ac 
quired a status of its own, having existed 
more than two hundred years, and its deni 
zens were currently designated as a sort of 
tribe or clan by themselves, distinctive enough 
to cause them to be spoken of in most histo 
ries of the time and place as the "Oquawgo " 
(or "Oghwaga ") Indians. 

The name has been spelled in a great vari 
ety of ways. The author has adopted the or 
thography of his great-grandfather, Simon 
Buell, who came from Dutchess County 
shortly after the Revolution and settled close 
to the then nearly deserted Indian village, 
a part of his farm being land that had been 
cleared and cultivated by the Indians long 
before. Joseph Brant, in his correspond 
ence and papers, always spelled it "Ogh 
waga," and maybe he was a better authority 
on Iroquois orthography than Simon Buell. 
However, in any future reference to the place 
I shall use the form "Oquawgo." 

The trading-post which Sir William 

founded there in 1744 was built on the bank 

of the river opposite the Indian village and 

just abreast of the lower end of an island 


His Early Life in Ireland 

which, from the profusion of apple-trees 
growing on it, was known to the older settlers 
as Indian Orchard. When Sir William pro 
posed to establish this post, which was within 
the jurisdiction of the Oneida tribe, the chief 
of the southern district of that clan, Antone, 
gave him about a square mile of land in con 
nection with it. The trading-post was a log 
blockhouse about 36X24 feet on the ground, 
with a second story projecting 2 feet all 
round, or 40X28 feet. It was surrounded 
by a palisade of logs placed upright some 
10 feet high, with an open space of about 60 
feet all round between it and the building. 
The enclosure contained a small but never- 
failing spring, so that, if besieged, the garri 
son of the post would have no trouble on the 
score of water-supply. After the conquest 
of Canada the palisade was taken away, and 
the blockhouse itself was burned by Colonel 
William Butler s Rangers (Americans) in 

The site for the post was selected and the 
blockhouse built by Ezra Buell, Sr., 1 a sur 
veyor from Dutchess County, who was in Sir 

1 This Ezra Buell had a nephew, also named Ezra, who fig 
ured during the Revolution as a lieutenant in Morgan s Rifle 
men until 1778, and after that until 1783 as a captain in the 
Third New York Continentals. 


Sir William Johnson 

William s employ for many years; Ms last 
service of any note having been to assist Simon 
Metcalf in running and marking the Fort 
Stanwix treaty line in 1769. When the post 
was established, Sir William requested Ezra 
Buell to manage it until he could find a com 
petent man to be permanent agent. 1 This 
search seems to have lasted three years, be 
cause it was not until 1747 that Buell was 
relieved by John Butler afterward notori 
ous in the Tory annals of the Mohawk Valley. 
In the meantime the post had developed a 
great and thriving trade, which it continued 
to enjoy until the outbreak of the Revolution. 

Sir William, when he applied to the Colo 
nial Governor for a license, said: "I wish to 
create this trading-post not any more for the 
profits it may bring to me than to show by 
actual example that trade with the Indians 
can be conducted honestly as well as any 
other commercial business ! " 

The sequel soon proved that the Indians 
know as well as anybody when they are fairly 
dealt with. Sir William s honest trading- 
post at Oquawgo within five years drove out 
of business the horde of rascals who, from 

1 During this period Ezra took unto himself a pretty Tus- 
carora girl, with whom he lived happily for many years. He 
died near Kingston, on the Hudson, in 1807, aged eighty-nine. 

His Early Life in Ireland 

the beginning of Indian traffic, had been rob 
bing the red men of the Susquehanna Valley; 
right and left. 

Necessarily considerable capital was re 
quired to carry on such a tremendous volume 
of business. This was supplied mainly by 
Admiral Warren and the rest by Stephen and 
James DeLancey, who had taken a warm 
fancy to the stalwart and indefatigable young 
Scotch-Irishman. The rates of interest were 
low, and were paid, in the main, by percentage 
on profits. But few years elapsed, however, 
before the growth of Sir William s own for 
tune enabled him to discharge the principal 
of the loans from his Uncle Warren and the 
DeLanceys, and thereafter he was abundantly 
able to "go it alone." 

Admiral Warren s ability to "finance" his 
ambitious nephew may be inferred from a 
letter written to Sir William by his brother, 
Captain Warren Johnson, under date of 
"New York, September 13, 1747." The mate 
rial part of it is as follows : 

Last evening I arrived here from Louisburg 
with my ship, which is in need of repairs, and I am 
to go to England in the Scarborough frigate, there 
to get a new command. My rank now entitles me 
to a first-class frigate, in which I will have much 
better opportunities than in the 20-gun ship I have 

Sir William Johnson 

commanded these two years past. I have had no 
chance of independent cruising, having been all the 
time either with the fleet as despatch- vessel or on 
convoy. The result is that, excepting what share 
may fall to me as prize from the taking of Louis- 
bourg and the St. Domingo fleet, the words " prize- 
money " have an empty sound for me. 

I would much like to go up to Mount Johnson 
and see you. But the Scarborough sails too soon 
to permit making the journey and returning in 
time, and, besides, the first thing Aunt Susan (Mrs. 
Admiral Warren) told me when I arrived at her 
house was that you are now out among the Western 
Iroquois counteracting the intrigues of the French 
Papists and arranging for a contingent of war 
riors for the grand movement * to be carried out 
next spring. 

So nothing is left for me but to go to England 
without seeing you. 

I make no doubt you have heard of our Uncle 
Warren s great successes in his two cruises; the 
first as second-in-command to Admiral Anson and 
the second with a squadron of which he was com- 
mander-in-chief, part of which fell in with the 
Santo Domingo fleet, home bound with full cargoes, 

1 The "grand movement" referred to was the proposed 
reduction of Crown Point and invasion of Canada by way of 
Lake Champlain early the next spring. It will be noted that 
Captain Warren Johnson spoke of it in the vaguest possi 
ble terms. His letter might, he thought, by some mishap 
fall into the hands of the French. 


His Early Life in Ireland 

and took sixty-two sail of them. He had taken 
several rich ships before. He must now be one of 
the richest men in England, and not one has done 
his country better service. He must be worth four 
hundred thousand pounds sterling. He is now 
Vice- Admiral of the White and member of Parlia 
ment for Westminster; and I have no doubt in a 
very short time he will be a peer of England. 

With his removal from Warrensbush to 
Mount Johnson in the early spring of 1743 
the active and effective public career of Sir 
William Johnson may be said to have begun. 
Prior to that time his connection with public 
affairs had been limited to correspondence 
with Governor Clinton on the Indian ques 
tion, and with the Colonial Chief-Justice, 
James DeLancey, in regard to the confusion 
of land-titles in the Mohawk Valley, both of 
which were then prime objects of public 

His first notable appearance in public 
affairs was his appointment by Chief-Justice 
DeLancey as master or referee in a land liti 
gation between George Klock and Peter Van 
Braam of Canajoharie, involving a consider 
able tract nortli of the Mohawk River, where, 
by the vagueness of their terms, two pur 
chases of land from the Indians appeared 
to overlap each other. Upon this issue he 
3 25 

Sir William Johnson 

brought to bear his knowledge of the Iroquois 
tongue, and personally examined a number of 
Indian witnesses without an interpreter. In 
fact, after about 1740, he never used an inter 
preter in his dealings with the Indians, but 
often acted as such himself at conferences 
between the Governor and delegations of 
chiefs at Albany. His report in this case was 
prepared with such ability and precision as 
to elicit the outspoken admiration of Judge 
DeLancey, who approved it. 

Late in the fall of 1743 the venerable 
Colonel Peter Schuyler resigned from the 
Board of Indian Commissioners, and Gov 
ernor Clinton at once invited Sir William to 
fill the vacancy. The Board consisted of five 
members, one of whom must, by the law then 
prevailing, be a minister of the Gospel. At 
the time under consideration the clerical 
member of the Board was a clergyman of the 
Church of England whose pastorate was in 
New York city, who knew little or nothing 
about Indian affairs, and paid little or no 
attention to the duties of his office. He was 
willing to resign, and Sir William recom 
mended that his resignation be accepted. In 
his place he advised the Governor to appoint 
the Eev. Jacob Weisenburg, a Lutheran min 
ister of Schenectady, and the father of his 

His Early Life in Ireland 

wife. Mr. Weisenburg had lived among the 
Indians ever since his arrival in this country, 
early in the eighteenth century, had converted 
many of them, was familiar with their traits, 
and was much beloved by them. This was 
done. Not long afterward another member 
of the Board resigned, and, to fill his place, 
Sir William recommended the Rev. Mr. Van 
Ness, a Dutch Reformed pastor of Albany, 
whom Governor Clinton at once appointed. 
He now had a majority of three to two 
on the Board on any or all of the three prime 
questions involved in the Indian problem: 
First, he was sure that the ministers of the 
Gospel one representing the Holland Dutch 
and the other the Palatines would stand by 
him in the determined effort he intended ma 
king to break up the liquor traffic with the In 
dians. Second, he knew that the reverend 
gentlemen could not possibly have any con 
nection with the rascally traders or their in 
terests, and would sustain him in his efforts 
to compel honest dealing with the red men. 
And, third, he took it for granted that they 
would joyfully back him up in his scheme to 
organize Protestant missions and mission 
schools throughout the Iroquois Confederacy, 
which he considered the only effective means 
of counteracting the intrigues and influence 

Sir William Johnson 

of the Canadian French Jesuits, who for 
many years had been proselyting among the 
Six Nations particularly the two western 
tribes, the Cayugas and the Senecas. 

His anticipations in these directions 
proved well founded. The laws against sell 
ing liquor to the Indians were rigidly, and in 
some cases drastically, enforced to such an 
extent that, according to the manuscript jour 
nal of William Sammons, corroborated by 
the papers of the Rev. John Barclay, a mis 
sionary, there were at one time twenty-six 
culprits in the Albany jail serving various 
terms of imprisonment for violation of the 
Indian anti-liquor law. Also during the 
period between 1743 and 1746 a majority of 
the trading-licenses previously granted had 
been revoked and annulled by the Governor 
on recommendation of the Board, and in three 
or four of the most flagrant cases of fraud 
and swindling, prosecutions had been insti 
tuted by the Attorney-General or King s 
Counsel for the Colony. Besides these 
things, Sir William s pet policy of founding 
numerous missions and mission schools 
among the tribes was adopted and an appro 
priation was made by the Colonial Assembly 
to aid them. 

In fact, it may be said that, supported as 

His Early Life in Ireland 

he invariably was by his two clerical hench 
men, Sir William soon became to all intents 
and purposes not only the president of the 
Board, but the Board itself. His idea of the 
value of Christianity as an agency of civiliza 
tion among the Indians may be inferred from 
a passage in a letter he wrote to Governor 
Clinton in 1744, in which he said: 

You can make a pretty good and generally 
faithful fellow of an Indian by simply treating 
Mm fairly in business matters and helping him 
along now and then when his natural indolence or 
improvidence or bad luck has brought him to 
straits. But you can never completely depend on 
him or overcome the inherent fickleness of his 
nature until you have made a Christian of him and 
brought him thereby under that sense of personal 
responsibility not only to men, but to the Almighty, 
that religion teaches. Either in war or in peace, 
one Christian Indian is always worth two heathen 

From 1743 to 1746 Sir William, whose 
public duties did not take up more than a 
moiety of his time, continued to improve his 
estate and extend his commercial operations 
with unflagging energy. Notwithstanding 
that, in addition to his duties in connection 
with the Indian Commission, he was ap 
pointed colonel of the militia regiment for 

Sir William Johnson 

the western district of Albany County in 
1744, and king s magistrate for the same dis 
trict in April, 1745, he still found time to 
transact his great and rapidly growing pri 
vate business. 

About this time he came to the conclusion 
that the live stock of the Mohawk Valley 
needed improvement, and to that end im 
ported from England a considerable breed 
ing stud of horses, together with a number of 
cattle and sheep. His papers and accounts 
indicate that he imported about thirty horses, 
thirty or forty head of cattle, and a hundred 
or more sheep. He selected the Irish hunter 
as the most available breed of horses for 
Colonial use in general, though in the ac 
counts of his importations four Suffolk stal 
lions appear. These, of course, were in 
tended to improve the breed of draft-horses 
by crossing with the native mares. The 
cattle he imported came from Devonshire 
and Hereford. The sheep were English- 
bred Spanish merinos a breed producing 
an exceeding fine wool. These importations 
were made from time to time in small lots 
during a period of three or four years. To 
his tenants he gave the services of his breed 
ing animals free, and to his neighbors in gen 
eral for a nominal consideration, in view of 

His Early Life in Ireland 

the outlay lie had incurred in importing them. 
So rapidly did his agricultural operations 
grow that by 1746 he began shipping flour 
to the West Indies in considerable quantity. 

All the time he continued clearing land at 
the rate of from 250 to 300 acres a year, so 
that by the end of the year 1746 he had about 
1,200 acres under his own cultivation, besides 
the large areas cleared and brought into till 
age by his tenants, who now numbered over 
a hundred. Up to this time Sir William had 
not held any slaves, but in 1747 an estate in 
Dutchess County was sold at administrator s 
sale, in partition. This estate included nine 
teen slaves. Sir William bought the lot 
entire, though only about ten or eleven of 
them were able-bodied men or women, the 
rest being aged and infirm, or children. The 
men he employed chiefly in taking care of his 
horses and other live stock, while the women 
were occupied in his household. He pro 
vided comfortable cabins for them, and ac 
cording to all accounts he was an easy mas 
ter. He ultimately became the largest slave 
holder in the colony of New York, possessing 
between sixty and seventy. 

During this period the War of the Aus 
trian Succession raged in Europe, but its 
effect in America did not begin to be felt to 

Sir William Johnson 

any serious degree until 1745; and even 
then there were no great operations in the 
interior of the country. About all that 
occurred were raids by small parties against 
outlying settlements or posts. In 1746 an 
effort was made to combine the provincial 
forces of New England, New York, and Penn 
sylvania with a force of British regulars, for 
the reduction of Crown Point and an invasion 
of Canada by way of Lake Champlain. But 
the colonies could not reach an agreement as 
to quotas of men and proportions of money 
to be furnished. The British Government did 
not seem disposed to employ its regular 
troops in such an enterprise in fact, the 
military operations of the English on the 
continent of Europe absorbed all the troops 
they had available, and the colonial garrisons 
were depleted rather than reenforced. The 
colonists, accordingly, during this struggle 
which, in America, was known as "King 
George s War " were left almost wholly to 
their own resources. 

The only great event in America was the 
siege and capture of the French fortress of 
Louisburg on Cape Breton Island by a com 
bined military and naval force, the troops 
being all Provincials except one company of 
regular sappers and miners and two compa- 

His Early Life in Ireland 

nies of infantry. The fleet was commanded 
by Admiral Sir Peter Warren and the land 
forces by Colonel Sir William Pepperell of 
Massachusetts. 1 All the Provincial troops 
were furnished by the New England colonies, 
and though a contingent was to have been 
provided by New York, its organization was 
not completed in time to sail with the expedi 
tion. The taking of Louisburg was an ex 
ceedingly brilliant affair and reflected great 
credit upon the Provincial troops engaged in 
it. They were, of course, powerfully and 
decisively aided by Admiral Warren s fleet, 
which not only cut off and captured the 
French ships that tried to bring reenforce- 
ments and supplies to the garrison, but par 
ticipated effectively in the bombardments. 
Finding that the Provincial volunteers were 
not highly expert in the use of heavy siege- 
guns, Admiral Warren landed a force of blue 
jackets sufficient to work them. This land 
ing force was commanded by Captain Warren 
Johnson of the 20-gun ship Avon, and brother 
of Sir William. The terms of the peace of 
Aix-la-Chapelle restored Louisburg to France, 

1 Pepperell was a native and resident of Kittery, in the 
present State of Maine and Maine now claims him. But it 
was part of Massachusetts then, and for that reason I speak 
of Pepperell as " of Massachusetts. " 


Sir William Johnson 

to the bitter disgust of the colonies, particu 
larly New England. 

During the fall of 1747 a substantial 
agreement was reached between New Eng 
land, New York, and New Jersey to invade 
Canada by way of Lake Champlain early in 
the spring of 1748. The quotas of men and 
money were agreed upon by commissioners 
appointed from each colony. Pennsylvania 
did not undertake to furnish a quota of men, 
but agreed to bear a share of the financial 
burdens. No attempt was made to enlist the 
cooperation of any colony south of Pennsyl 
vania. The British Government was to fur 
nish a siege-train with regular artillerists and 
two regiments of regular infantry. Sir Will 
iam Johnson s share in this proposed enter 
prise was to have been an important one. In 
September, 1746, the Governor had abolished 
the Indian Board and appointed Sir William 
sole Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the 
colony of New York. This action of Gov 
ernor Clinton had been confirmed by royal 
warrant, and Sir William was commissioned 
a colonel on the permanent establishment. 
The practical effect of this action was to take 
the control of Indian affairs out of the hands 
of the Assembly and vest it in an officer of 
the Crown, responsible directly to the king. 

His Early Life in Ireland 

It was a bold step, but a logical one, and 
based upon the views Sir William had fre 
quently expressed both in his correspondence 
with the Governor and in Council. 

Sir William held that the Indians could 
not rightfully be held as under the jurisdic 
tion of the Colonial Government, that they 
had thus far been so held by sufferance, or 
because no one had taken sufficient interest in 
them to assert their rights for them which 
they could not do or did not know how to do 
themselves. He held that they had a govern 
ment of their own, that they were not citizens, 
and that they were unrepresented in the body 
that legislated for them. This status, he 
argued, made them the wards of the king 
individually, and that their government was 
under the protection of the king. 

As I have already remarked, the abolish 
ment of the Board and the appointment of Sir 
William as sole superintendent, with military 
rank as an officer of the Crown, carried this 
theory into effect in fact, if not in name ; and 
so long as the Colonial condition lasted, after 
that the relation was never changed, nor was 
attempt made to change it except in one 
instance, which will be noted later on. This 
somewhat detailed description of Sir Will 
iam s status at the time under consideration 

Sir William Johnson 

seems requisite to a clear understanding of 
his relation to the proposed expedition 
against Canada in the spring of 1748. He 
was to have command of a division composed 
of a brigade of Provincial troops under his 
own immediate command, and a thousand 
Indians to be commanded by Hendrick. And 
he was also to be second in command of the 
entire force, Sir William Pepperell having 
been selected for the command-in-chief. Dur 
ing the autumn of 1747 all arrangements were 
made to mobilize a force at least nine thou 
sand strong, with a reserve of five thousand. 
The Iroquois had agreed to furnish not less 
than a thousand picked warriors. It was 
noted that the Senecas now, for the first time 
since the alliance between the English and the 
Six Nations was ratified, in 1710, displayed 
zeal and responded to the call for men with 

As an indication of the thoroughness with 
which this proposed invasion had been 
planned, it is worth while to observe that the 
scheme of preparation involved not only the 
mobilization of fourteen thousand troops in 
the early spring, but also provision for ta 
king control of Lake Champlain. Three stout 
sloops were to be built during thq winter at a 
convenient point near the south end of the 

His Early Life in Ireland 

lake. These sloops were designed to carry; 
one long 12-pounder each on a pivot amid 
ships, and two swivels. In fact, at the time 
when the communication of the Duke of New 
castle reached Albany, considerable timber 
for the construction of these sloops had 
already been cut, and some of it shaped for 
use. As the French had no naval force what 
ever on the lake, it was estimated that these 
sloops could command its waters long enough 
to ensure the reduction of Crown Point, 
because, if the French had gunboats in the St. 
Lawrence of dimensions capable of passing 
the Sorel River, the ice would not be out 
before May, and it was confidently expected 
that Crown Point must fall before the end of 

It was now considered that all requisite 
preparations for the spring campaign had 
been completed, when a communication was 
received from the Duke of Newcastle, then 
Prime Minister. In this communication the 
duke, in the name of the king, warmly ap 
proved the zeal and fidelity of the colonists, 
commended their preparations, and congratu 
lated them upon their apparent unity of 
design. But he intimated that events were in 
progress in Europe which would be likely to 
render the proposed expedition unnecessary. 

Sir William Johnson 

In those circumstances and in the interest 
of economy, the king had directed that the 
troops already assembled and ready to go 
into winter quarters at and about Albany be 
furloughed until April, retaining only a force 
of Provincials and Indians sufficient to guard 
the northern frontier. This action disap 
pointed the white troops who had volunteered 
with so much alacrity, and it almost disheart 
ened the Indians. But by liberal distribution 
of presents, as they started for their home, 
Sir William managed to allay in great meas 
ure their discontent. 

There were about six hundred Indians in 
their camp near Cohoes and at Schaghticoke, 
and additional recruits were coming in every 
day. As all these men had been kept from 
their usual fall hunt, there was considerable 
destitution among the tribes during the win 
ter, which, however, proved to be short and 
mild. The Assembly voted considerable 
sums to relieve them as far as possible. This 
was practically the end of "King George s 
War," so far as the colonies were concerned. 
The frontier, however, was strongly guarded 
during the winter, and in February, 1748, at 
the solicitation of the Governor, Sir William 
took command of the whole line of frontier 
defense, and held it until the peace of Aix-la- 

His Early Life in Ireland 

Chapelle was promulgated. But no military 
event of moment occurred within the limits 
of his command during the winter or the 
ensuing spring. 

By April, 1748, it became generally known 
that the war was practically over, and though 
the definitive peace of Aix-la-Chapelle was 
not promulgated until October of that year, a 
virtual armistice prevailed during the sum 
mer, both in Europe and America. The 
frontier defenses were considerably strength 
ened as spring opened, but there was no move 
ment on either side. The French did not 
come south of Crown Point which was their 
most advanced post while the northern out 
post of the Provincials was at the head or 
south end of Lake George, where Sir Will 
iam had his field headquarters. During the 
spring and summer of 1748 the frontier force 
of the Provincials was about three thousand, 
including some four hundred Iroquois. The 
Provincials were quartered in four or five 
camps within easy supporting distance ; some 
at the head of Lake George, some at the head 
of Lake Champlain, and others at Saratoga, 
Glens Falls, or where Fort Edward was 
afterward built, and the remainder at Fort 
Anne. The Indians remained at Schaghticoke 
and Cohoes. 


Sir William Johnson 

The French had twelve hundred men 
about half of them regulars at Crown Point, 
and a large reserve of Canadian militia and 
Indians at Isle aux Noix. In this manner the 
two belligerents faced each other quietly dur 
ing the summer of 1748. Sir William was, 
however, by no means idle personally during 
this interim. The abortive attempts that had 
been made in 1745, 46 and 47 to mobilize the 
Provincial forces of New York quickly had 
shown that the militia of Albany County was 
in a state of utter disorganization. Albany 
County at that time embraced the whole of 
New York Colony north and west of Dutchess 
and Ulster counties, together with the present 
State of Vermont. While this vast county 
was, on the whole, sparsely populated, the 
fact that it embodied the whole northern and 
western frontier open to invasion from Can 
ada, made its militia organization of para 
mount importance. In June, 1748, as soon 
as he was sure that there would be no more 
hostilities, Governor Clinton appointed Sir 
William colonel-in-chief of the Albany County 
militia, with directions to reorganize it on his 
own plan carte blanche. "You may consider 
whatever you recommend as done," said the 
Governor in a personal letter accompanying 
the appointment and instructions. Sir Will- 

His Early Life in Ireland 

iam thereupon proceeded with his task and 
effected a new organization, which stood the 
test of the next war, 1755-62, and lasted until 
the Revolution. The basis of this reorgani 
zation was regimental in the more populous 
districts, such as the valleys of the Hudson 
and the lower Mohawk, and independent com 
panies in the sparsely settled outlying dis 
tricts. Its result was the creation of five 
regiments of eight companies each, having a 
normal strength of seventy-five to the com 
pany, or six hundred to the regiment, and 
twelve independent companies of from sixty 
to seventy-five men each. 

In July advices were received that the pre 
liminary articles of peace were signed, and 
the frontier defense force was disbanded. 
The French evacuated Crown Point and the 
Indians on both sides buried the hatchet. 
During his command of the frontier defenses 
Sir William made two permanent improve 
ments: he built through the forest a road 
practicable for supply wagons and artillery 
from the head of Lake George to Glens Falls 
on the Hudson, and another from the head of 
Lake Champlain, at Black Mountain, to Fort 
Anne, which was already connected with 
Sandy Hill on the Hudson by a practicable 

road. The -Governor now appointed him 
4 41 

Sir William Johnson 

permanent colonel-in-chief of the Albany 
County militia, and he returned to his home 
at Mount Johnson, having, as he said, "done 
a deal of hard work for two years with 
mighty little to show for it." 

On the whole, "King George s War," so 
far as the colonies were concerned, was an 
abortive affair. Except the brilliant exploit 
of taking Louisburg, there had been no 
action whatever worth mention in history. A 
few raids back and forth by the French and 
Indians on one side and Provincial back 
woodsmen and Iroquois on the other; some 
cabins burned, several murders, and a few 
scalps, told the whole story for the interior 
frontier. But it served to teach the colonies 
lessons which proved of great value in the 
final and decisive struggle for empire in 
North America that was then only seven 
years distant. Those lessons were : first, the 
absolute need of unity in design and har 
mony in execution; second, that their situa 
tion required in peace a constant prepared 
ness for instant war; and, third, that the 
balance of power on the northern frontier be 
tween the colonies and the French power in 
Canada was held by the Six Nations, and he 
who possessed influence to hold them loyal 
was the most important man in the colony. 

His Early Life in Ireland 

And this war, desultory as it may have been, 
had demonstrated beyond dispute or doubt 
that that man was Sir William Johnson. 

We have seen one good description of Sir 
William himself and his household. A little 
later than this (in 1751) Mrs. Julia Grant, the 
wife of Captain (afterward Major-General) 
Grant of the British Army, then in command 
of the small garrison of regulars at Albany, 
visited Mount Johnson and painted a por 
trait of Sir William. The lady was an art 
ist of no mediocre ability, and during her 
eight years sojourn on the New York fron 
tier painted many clever portraits of dis 
tinguished people, including Colonel and 
Mrs. Schuyler, Solomon Van Rensselaer and 
others. She also kept a vivacious journal, 
which was afterward printed in Edinburgh. 
In this journal Lady Grant pen-pictures Sir 
William as follows: 

... A little scant of six feet high say five 
feet eleven and one-half inches. Neck massive, 
shoulders broad, chest deep and full, limbs large 
and showing every sign of great physical strength. 
Head large and finely shaped. Countenance open, 
frank, and always beaming with good-nature and 
humor a real Irishman as he is for wit. Eyes 
large, a sort of black-gray or grayish black in color. 
Hair dark brown with a tinge of auburn in certain 

Sir William Johnson 

lights. In conversation, he is a most delightful 
person, relating recollections of his dealings with 
the Indians or discussing the classic authors or 
the literature of the day with equal readiness and 
ease. His mode of living is that of an English gen 
tleman at his country seat, and I was astonished to 
find on this remote frontier, almost in the shade of 
primeval forest, a table loaded with delicacies and 
Madeiras, ports and Burgundies of the rarest vint 
age. His table is seldom without guests, and his 
hospitality is a byword the region round. During 
my stay he had Indian chiefs to dine with him 
several times. Their attire was the same as white 
people, and for the most part they conversed in 
English. This disappointed me, because I wished 
to sit at table with genuine Indians in blankets and 
leggings and talking nothing but their gibberish 
through an interpreter. Among those I met at 
Colonel Johnson s table were the venerable and 
noble-looking old chief Hendrick, now over sev 
enty years of age ; his brother Abraham, about sixty 
years of age, chief of a Mohawk clan and father 
of Caroline, the beautiful young Indian woman 
who is the mistress of his household ; also Nicklaus 
Brant, chief of the Upper Castle Mohawks, a man 
of prodigious silence and the most grave and sol 
emn courtesy. . . 

Colonel Johnson is the soul of method. At 
breakfast I tell him I wish a half -hour s sitting 
some time in the day. We agree on an exact time 
by the clock. The Colonel then mounts his horse 


His Early Life in Ireland 

and dashes here and there about his estate over 
seeing everything. At the appointed moment he 
dismounts at the door and is ready for the sitting. 
"When the half hour is done he is away again as 
swiftly as he came. He must have fifty or sixty 
people in his employ besides the negroes and he 
oversees everything that they do. Marvellous! 
And then he attends to a mass of complicated pub 
lic business besides! 





WE may now turn briefly from the public 
to the private side of Sir William Johnson s 
life. Late in 1745 his white wife, Katharine, 
died suddenly, leaving him with three little 
children Anne, five years old; John, three; 
and Mary, a baby one year old. 1 At first he 

1 Parkman, in his Montcalm and Wolfe (vol. i, p. 
briefly surveys the character of Sir William Johnson from the 
Boston point of view. Its tone is half -cynical, half-patron 
izing, and it may be left without comment so far as Sir Will 
iam is concerned. But in the course of it he goes clear out of 
his way to cast a slur upon the memory of Katharine Weisen- 
burg, who, though an unpretentious Mohawk Dutch girl, was 
an honorable woman, a faithful wife, and a devoted mother. 
After a brief description of Mount Johnson he says: "Here 
presided for many years a Dutch or German wench whom he 
(Sir William) finally married." 

This is not only a painfully ill-natured but a grossly inac 
curate statement. Johnson married Katharine Weisenburg 
within a week after he had bought her indentures from Mr. 
Phillips, as previously related ; and she never "presided " at 
Mount Johnson except as his wife. Whether she was a 


Domestic Life and Congress 

employed as nurse for them a worthy woman 
to whom history has given no more intimate 
recognition than the remark that she was a 
"Dutch widow." She was undoubtedly a 
faithful nurse, but Sir William soon detected 
that his little daughter Anne and his little son 
John, who were just beginning to talk, rapidly 
acquired the Mohawk Dutch " brogue " of 
their nurse. This he did not desire. So he 
found other employment in his establishment 

" wench " or not may be a question of lexicography as between 
Boston and the rest of mankind. The fact is that, in this 
silly slur upon the memory of a good woman, Parkman be 
trays the besetting weakness that mars in many places the 
results of his wonderful research and often besmears the gen 
eral purity of his style. That weakness was his inexorable 
prejudice and incorrigible bias in favor of everything and 
everybody of Massachusetts and against everything and every 
body everywhere else. The reader of Parkman and Park- 
man alone would imagine that Massachusetts, almost single- 
handed, sustained the brunt of all the French and Indian 
wars, and finally, with some trifling assistance from the Brit 
ish navy and a few English regulars, drove the French out 
of North America ! As for the other colonies, they simply 
looked on. Their men, most of whom were "boors," cut little 
or no figure in the contest, and their women were mainly 

In Sir William s case the grudge was personal. Massa 
chusetts, who furnished the largest contingent both of men 
and supplies for the campaign of 1755, bitterly resented the 
appointment of a New Yorker to the supreme command. Her 
people considered Colonel (afterward General) Phineas Ly- 
man entitled to the leadership. Parkman simply inherited 
the local spite and jealousy of his province. 


Sir William Johnson 

for the good Dutch woman, and secured the 
services of a middle-aged Scotch-Irish wom 
an, the widow of a non-conformist minister 
of New York city, whom Lady Warren found 
available and sent to him. This lady proved 
an ideal nursery-governess, because she was 
not only a capable nurse, but a well-educated 
woman besides, and able to instruct the chil 
dren as well as to care for them. The name 
of this lady was Mrs. Barclay (also spelled 
"Barkley " in some of the manuscripts), and 
she passed the rest of her life under the John 
son roof. Sir William now remained in single 
blessedness about two years, beset by match 
makers, from his aunt, Lady Warren, in New 
York, to his aristocratic friends in Albany. 
But in the fall of 1747 he astonished all his 

One of his biographers and by far the 
best of them in a general sense writing of 
the events of the year 1748, says (Stone, p. 
327, vol. i) : 

It was about this period though I have not been 
able to learn the exact date that Colonel Johnson 
employed as his housekeeper Mary Brant, or "Miss 
Molly" as she was called, a sister of the celebrated 
Chief Thayendanegea (Joseph Brant), with whom 
he lived until his decease, and by whom he had 
several children. 


Domestic Life and Congress 

In the Brant manuscripts the statement is 
made by the chief that he was born in 1742, 
and that his sister Mary was "nearly seven 
years his senior." This would have brought 
the date of Mary s birth in the year 1735, 
and she would therefore have been in her 
thirteenth year in 1748 an age hardly ripe 
enough for the domestic responsibilities of 
such an establishment as that of Sir William. 
However, " about this time " that is to say, 
late in 1747 he did employ a young Indian 
woman as his housekeeper; but she was not 
Mary Brant, who, by the way, did not achieve 
that distinction until about six years later. 

This young woman was a daughter of the 
Chief Abraham, sachem of the Lower Castle 
Mohawks, and when she attracted the atten 
tion of Sir William was about twenty-two 
years old. She was reputed to be the hand 
somest girl in the Iroquois nation. Indeed, 
there is, or used to be, among the older resi 
dents of the Mohawk Valley a tradition that 
Abraham s wife was a white woman of Hol 
land Dutch antecedents. If so, this girl was 
a half-breed. And, more important than 
that, if the legend be true, her elder sister, 
who married Nicldaus Brant and became the 
mother of Joseph and Mary, was a half-breed 
also, which would put a strain of white blood 

Sir William Johnson 

in the veins of the great captain unquestion 
ably the greatest of American Indians. I do 
not believe this tradition. Chief Abraham s 
wife may have been an unusually light-col 
ored Indian woman. The Iroquois were uni 
versally lighter in complexion than any other 
American Indians, and the Mohawks and 
Oneidas were the lightest of all. So marked 
was this peculiarity, taken together with their 
superior civilization, that some of the early 
writers mainly Jesuit Fathers considered 
them a different race from the common 

A noted student of Indian life and char 
acter, Professor Donaldson, explains it on 
purely physical grounds, which is doubtless the 
true view. He says that for generations 
even before the white man was known on these 
shores the Iroquois had lived in comfort 
able habitations, tilled the soil, raised grain 
and fruits, and, generally speaking, had much 
better shelter, better cookery, better sanitary 
arrangements, and altogether more of the 
good things of life than any other Indians. 
This mode of living had tended to " bleach 
out " their complexions and endow them with 
other physical advantages of which for cen 
turies they had availed themselves to gain 
an ascendency among Indian nations that 

Domestic Life and Congress 

finally came to be undisputed. We may, 
therefore, take it for granted that Chief 
Abraham s wife was simply unusually white 
even for a Mohawk woman, but a full-blooded 
Indian nevertheless. 

The girl who placed herself under Sir 
William s protection was, like all the Hen- 
drick family, Christianized. She had been 
baptized under the name of Caroline, and had 
received as complete an education as the mis 
sion school at Fort Hunter and a private 
school in Schenectady could impart. The 
relation she so willingly assumed to Sir Will 
iam may seem equivocal in the lights of our 
time; but whether there was any marriage 
ceremony or not, it was a case of unconcealed 
cohabitation, accompanied by child-bearing, 
which, after all, under the statutes of those 
days, amounted to a common-law marriage. 

At this point the view adopted by W. Max 
Eeid of Amsterdam, N. Y., author of a most 
excellent History of the Mohawk Valley, is 
of interest. It may be premised that Mr. 
Keid is more thoroughly conversant with the 
history, legends, and traditions of the Mo 
hawk Valley than any other man now living, 
and probably more so than any other man 
ever was, except Horatio Seymour. In one 
of his entertaining papers recently published 

Sir William Johnson 

Mr. Reid remarks on the history and geneal 
ogy of the two most famous families in the 
Iroquois Nation: 

I have been informed on indubitable authority 
that after the death of Katharine Weisenburg, the 
mother of his son, John, and daughters, Mary and 
Nancy, he (Sir William) had a Dutch widow as 
housekeeper, but that she did not remain with him 
long, as her place was taken in 1747 by a niece of 
Hendrick, being the daughter of his brother, Abra 
ham, who is frequently spoken of in the Documen 
tary History of New York. As in the case of Molly 
Brant, Sir William did not wed this Indian girl, 
who took the English name Caroline. She had 
three children by Sir William one son and two 
daughters. The son was named William and the 
daughters Charlotte and Caroline. The mother 
died in giving birth to the third child. William 
was the first born. This half-breed son is the Will 
iam Johnson, alias Tag-che-un-to, who is mentioned 
in Sir William s will as "William of Canajoharie." 
The date of Caroline s death was in 1753, which 
consequently makes the birth of Caroline, the half- 
breed, in 1753 ; and the installation of Molly Brant 
as Sir William s mistress was subsequent to that 
date. Probably this occurred soon after the death 
of Caroline as her daughters (Charlotte and Caro 
line) are said to have been adopted by Molly and 
treated by her as her own children, while William, 
the half-breed boy, was mainly raised by his grand- 

Domestic Life and Congress 

father, Abraham, or his uncle, " Little Abe/ at 
Canajoharie Castle at Danube. 

The history of the two daughters is of interest. 
Charlotte, the eldest, married a young British 
officer shortly before the Revolution, but who after 
ward joined the Continental army and fell at Mon- 
mouth Court House. His name was Henry Randall. 
They had two children, one named Charlotte Ran 
dall, who married George King. George and 
Charlotte King had a daughter Charlotte, who was 
the grandmother of my informant. 1 

The other daughter of Molly Brant s predeces 
sor (Caroline) whose name was also Caroline, mar 
ried a man named Michael Byrne, a clerk in Sir 
William s office of Indian affairs. Byrne was killed 
at Oriskany in Butler s Rangers. His young 
widow, Caroline Johnson, went with the Brants to 
Canada and afterward married an Indian agent 
named MacKim, whose descendants are still living 
in Canada. 

Brant, who went to England with Hendrick and 
others in 1710, was the grandfather of Joseph and 
Molly Brant. When Joseph was born, in 1742, his 
grandfather was probably between sixty and sev 
enty years old. Brant s father was called Nickus, 
or Nicklaus, by the Dutch. Stone anglicizes the 
name and calls him Nicholas Brant. He must have 

1 There was a third child a boy named Morgan Randall, 
after General Daniel Morgan, in whose riflemen Henry Ran 
dall served. 


Sir William Johnson 

been at least thirty years old when Joseph was 
born, and Molly was at least six years older than 

The mother of Joseph and Molly was also a 
daughter of Abraham (the brother of Hendrick) 
and a sister or half-sister of " Little Abe" of the 
lower castle at Fort Hunter. This made her a niece 
of Hendrick also, and a sister of the girl Caroline, 
who went to live with Sir William in 1747. 

It is also said that Joseph Brant s wife was a 
daughter of the Oneida chief of Sauquoit, and her 
mother was a daughter of Hendrick. So it will 
be seen by the foregoing that the families of Brant 
and Hendrick were closely interrelated. As Molly 
Brant s mother was the sister of Caroline, Molly s 
predecessor was her own aunt, and Sir William 
might be called her uncle. 

Eeturning to William Johnson, the half-breed 
mentioned in his will: He was educated by Sir 
William at Dr. Wheelock s school at Lebanon, 
Conn., and was at the battle of Oriskany with 
Brant. Here he was killed in a hand-to-hand con 
flict with the half-breed Thomas Spencer, who 
played a conspicuous part with Herkimer s troops 
and at the siege of Fort Schuyler. Incidentally, 
Thomas Spencer is said to have been a son of the 
missionary, Rev. Elihu Spencer, by an Oneida girl, 
and was born at Oghwaga about the year 1755. 

About a year after the death of Caroline 
Hendrick, Sir William offered Ms protection 

Domestic Life and Congress 

and affection to Mary Brant. She accepted, 
and outlived him; their life together during 
a period of twenty years 1754-74 having 
been by universal account of the times happy 
and affectionate. Mary Brant was not as 
handsome or as majestic a woman as her aunt 
and predecessor, Caroline, but she was a very 
pretty girl nevertheless, and developed into a 
woman of much tact, sterling virtues, and a 
model housewife. She was about nineteen 
years old when she accepted the protection of 
Sir William, and survived him many years. 
She bore him nine children two boys and 
seven girls but one of the latter died in 
infancy. Of these children the eldest was a 
boy, to whom they gave the name of Peter 
Warren Johnson, after the admiral; the 
second was a girl named Elizabeth, the third 
a girl named Magdalene, the fourth a girl 
named Margaret, the fifth a boy named 
George, the sixth a girl named Mary, the 
seventh a girl named Susanne, and the eighth 
a girl named Anne. 

In the text of his will he describes these as 
"my natural children by my housekeeper, 
Mary Brant." 

Young William Johnson is the only one 
of Caroline Hendrick s children mentioned or 
provided for in the will. But this may be ex- 

Sir William Johnson 

plained on the ground that the two girls, 
Charlotte and Caroline, had been married 
some time before his death Charlotte in 1770 
or 71 and Caroline a year or two later and 
Sir William had undoubtedly made what he 
considered sufficient provision for them in 
the marriage settlements. 

When the Tories were expelled from the 
Mohawk Valley in 1776, two years after the 
death of Sir William, Mary Brant and her 
children went with them and settled on Grand 
Eiver, or the Oise, as the French called it. 
Of the two sons Peter and George no trace 
seems to have been left in history. The six 
girls all married white men, one of them 
becoming the wife of Dr. Kerr, a surgeon in 
the British army. Mrs. Kerr was an accom 
plished woman, a clever writer, and wrote two 
or three interesting little books on the cus 
toms and beliefs of the race to which she half 

There was a legend, which most of Sir 
William s biographers have adopted, to the 
effect that his attention was first attracted to 
Mary Brant at a militia muster in Canajo- 
harie. It was said that she mounted the 
horse of an officer and rode furiously around 
the parade-ground several times, her long 
black hair and loose red robes streaming in 

Domestic Life and Congress 

the wind ; at last, riding up to where the great 
man stood, lost in admiration, and leaping 
gracefully from the back of the panting 
steed into his stalwart arms. 

All this is very pretty ; but the fact is that 
Sir William had known Mary Brant from the 
time she was ten years old, his intimate 
acquaintance with Nicklaus Brant and his 
family having begun very soon after his first 
settlement at Warrensbush. When Caroline 
Hendrick was in her fatal illness her sister, 
Brant s wife, came to nurse her, and Mary 
accompanied her mother. Not long after that 
the arrangement was made by which Mary 
became the mistress of his household. 

Mary Brant had been educated in the 
common English branches in the Manor 
school at Canajoharie, where her father lived 
before he became chief of the Upper Castle 
Mohawks. He had a comfortable frame 
house at Canajoharie and lived and dressed 
altogether after the fashion of white men. 
The female members of his family were never 
made to do the usual drudgery of squaws. 
He owned a good farm close to the town and 
cultivated it as well as any of his white neigh 
bors. He was, as Mrs. Grant says, "a man 
of prodigious silence " noted for his taci 
turnity and for his keen faculty of observa- 
5 57 

Sir William Johnson 

tion as well. Whenever Sir William had an 
extremely delicate mission to fulfil with the 
Cayugas or Senecas, who were usually more 
or less recalcitrant, he always sent Nicklaus 
Brant. Beyond question, Sir William s inti 
mate connection with the Hendrick and Brant 
families was more potent than any other 
agency in giving him the control and ascend 
ency over the Iroquois which he so success 
fully maintained through the twenty-odd try 
ing and troublous years that immediately pre 
ceded the Revolution. Many times, when Sir 
William got hold of an obdurate and trouble 
some delegation of Senecas or Cayugas, he 
would turn them over to "Lady Molly," as 
she was commonly called after he was made a 
baronet which was the next year after their 
alliance and she "never failed to Mollyfy 
them," as he used to say. Of this period in 
Sir William s life, Dr. Wheelock says: 

I have seen at Mount Johnson and also at John 
son Hall sixty to eighty Indians at one time lodg 
ing under tents on the lawn and taking their meals 
from tables made of pine boards spread under the 
trees. They were delegations from all the Iroquois 
tribes, come to pow-wow with their great white 
brother, " Warragh-i-ya-gey " (the Indian name 
they gave to Sir William when they adopted him 
into the Iroquois nation and gave him a council- 

O 55 

W | 
g & 

// p V 

(I OF THE \ 

Domestic Life and Congress 

seat in the l Long House " ) . These visits must have 
been very expensive to Sir William, and he told 
me that never more than half their cost was de 
frayed out of the public exchequer. 

* They say, said the baronet to me once, * that 
it is not right or fair that I should be superintend 
ent over the Indians and an Indian trader at the 
same time. Why, bless me, doctor, my profits from 
the Indian trade do not reimburse me for my outlay 
in entertaining these delegations and giving pres 
ents to their members ! 

"The Indians are honest," he pursued. "I 
have often supplied one Indian or a small party 
living as far away as the Southern Senecas on 
Cattaraugus Creek or the Conewango I have often 
supplied such with a complete hunting and trap 
ping outfit guns, ammunition, traps, etc., with 
blankets, woolen shirts, and other clothing all 
on absolute credit. If they did not die or get 
killed by the Catawbas or Shawnese their natural 
enemies they would always come back and pay as 
soon as they got wherewithal to pay with." 

Griffis, in his Life of Sir William John 
son, says that "after the death of his wife, 
Catharine, Sir William lived with various 
mistresses, etc." But Mr. Eeid, a much more 
studious and careful historian, rejects this 
tradition. It is true that the baronet lived in 
a morganatic fashion with two Indian women 
at different times. But all the circumstantial 

Sir William Johnson 

evidence points to the conclusion that lie was 
faithful to them, and that he was not in the 
least degree inclined to promiscuous licen 
tiousness. He was always as solicitous for 
the welfare of his half-breed children as any 
father could be for any children; and as he 
was temperate and moderate in all things, it 
is fair to presume that he was equally so in 
his relations with women, white or red. In 
fact, the dignity he had to maintain to hold 
his influence over the Indians must have been 
sacrificed instantly had this been otherwise. 
The truth undoubtedly is that he was true 
and constant to the two Indian women with 
whom he lived openly in the sight of every 
body living with one of them about six 
years and with the other twenty years. 

This survey of Sir William s peculiar 
domestic life has carried us to a point far 
ahead of the main thread of our narrative; 
but necessarily so, because I considered it 
advisable to treat that branch of the subject 
in a single sketch, rather than filter its inci 
dents here and there in detached parts 
throughout his history. Many students of 
Sir William s life and some of his biogra 
phers notably Griffis have chosen to be 
lieve, or affected to believe, that his selection 
of Indian mistresses for the head of his do- 

, Domestic Life and Congress 

mestic establishment, when he could have had 
his pick among refined, well-connected, and 
thoroughly educated white women, argues the 
lurking of a debased trait in his otherwise 
lofty character. 

On this point, it seems to me, that argu 
ment would be wasted. Without discussion, 
I am inclined to believe with Mr. Reid, that 
the element of statecraft entered largely into 
the sum-total of reasons for these singular 
alliances, and that he chose, first, Caroline 
Hendrick, and, after her, Mary Brant, because 
he wanted a housewife who could make his 
Indian guests of whom his house was sel 
dom in lack feel at home. His fortunes 
depended on his influence with the Indians. 
Without that he could never have been any 
thing more than a settler in the Mohawk Val 
ley; richer, perhaps, than his neighbors, but 
still only a settler. His command of the Iro- 
quois just at the time when their adherence 
to the British cause was vital to the objects 
of British policy, made him the most impor 
tant, if not actually the greatest, man in the 
colony. No white woman could have made 
Sir William s red henchmen feel at home in 
his house as Caroline Hendrick or Mary 
Brant could. If this was one of his mo 
tives, it was creditable at least to his ambi- 

Sir William Johnson 

tion, if not to his sense of propriety. But the 
point of propriety itself must be measured by 
the standard of morality prevailing in his 
days, not ours. And even if Caroline and 
Mary were only housekeepers or mistresses, 
and if, as he says in his will, their children 
were only "natural/ yet his fidelity to them 
and his affection and solicitude for the chil 
dren they bore him can not be forgotten or 
neglected in the scales of charity. 

Returning now to consideration of Sir 
William s public life, it may be said that after 
the peace of Aix - la - Chapelle he passed 
nearly a year in almost undivided attention 
to the affairs of his estate. The only inter 
ruption of any note he experienced was the 
arrangement and management of a grand 
council, at Albany, of the governors of the 
New England colonies, New York, New Jer 
sey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia with the 
chiefs of the Indians friendly to the English 
and the colonists, or who were willing to be 
friendly in the future. This grand council 
was opened on the 20th of July, and lasted 
about ten days. There were present seven 
colonial governors, each accompanied by 
members of his staff; thirty Indian chiefs of 
high rank, each attended by several espe 
cially distinguished warriors of his tribe ; and 

Domestic Life and Congress 

the Indian superintendents of Virginia, Penn 
sylvania, Massachusetts, and New York. 

The Iroquois were by no means alone 
in representation. Chiefs were there from 
the Delawares of western Pennsylvania; the 
fierce and hitherto untamable Shawnese of 
what is now Ohio; Mingoes, Wyandots, Adi- 
rondacks who came from territory claimed 
and hitherto held by the French together 
with the "River Indians " (remnants of the 
former Pequots, Mohegans, Narragansetts, 
and other aborigines of New England). Per 
haps the most interesting figure in this assem 
blage was the great war-chief of the Genesee 
Senecas, Hi-o-ka-to, who for years had 
vowed that he would never speak one word 
with an Englishman. Hi-o-ka-to was the 
husband of the celebrated Mary Jemison, a 
white woman, who, captured by the Algon- 
quins when a little girl, had been retaken by 
the Senecas, and adopted by them. As soon 
as she grew to womanhood Hi-o-ka-to, then a 
redoubted warrior and knight errant of the 
tribe, nearly forty years of age, asked her 
to share his wigwam or rather his house 
which was a comfortable log cabin. She 
consented, and lived with him until his death, 
many years afterward. She wrote a narra 
tive, which is doubtless the most interesting 

Sir William Johnson 

personal description of life among the Indi 
ans ever printed. In it she says of her stal 
wart brave after his death : 

Ferocious as he may have heen on the war 
path, and savage as he may have been in battle, I 
can only say that no husband could have been 
kinder to wife than he was to me, and no man, 
white or any other color, could have been gentler 
than he was when inside the four walls of our 
cabin. In all our life together, he never spoke one 
cross word to me, and I have often seen him curb 
his fierce temper toward others simply because I 
happened to be present. 

Governor Clinton and Sir William consid 
ered it a great point gained when Hi-o-ka-to 
was induced to attend this conference. Sav 
age as he was, the Seneca war-chief did not 
lack ready wit. Some years later, during 
another council, Sir William, in a bantering 
way, asked him in the Iroquois tongue, "Why 
didn t you bring your white wife with you, 
Hi-o-ka-to ! I would like to introduce her to 
my Indian wife." "Because," replied the 
chief, "I was afraid you white folks would 
steal her, the same as you do pretty much 
everything else we poor Indians have that is 
worth stealing ! " 

A remarkable and somewhat amusing 
feature of this grand council was the fact that 

Domestic Life and Congress 

the venerable senior chief of the Iroquois, 
Hendrick, was unable to attend, and asked 
the council to accept his brother Abraham as 
his representative giving as the reason the 
fact that he was at that moment prostrated 
by an acute attack of inflammatory gout! A 
rather singular malady for an American In 
dian ! Perhaps the old chief had availed him 
self too freely of his nephew-in-law s prover 
bial liberality with his "crusty old port " and 
"nut-brown Madeira!" 

Toward the end of the grand council on 
its sixth day Chief Abraham made a speech, 
addressed particularly to the Senecas and 
Cayugas. This speech was provoked by some 
remarks made by Onnasdego, chief of the 
Onondagas, in which that orator accused the 
English of neglecting the western Iroquois, 
and thereby leaving their hearts open to the 
blandishments of the French emissaries. 
Abraham spoke in English, so that the assem 
bled governors and members of their staffs 
could readily understand what he was say 
ing. But he had provided interpreters to 
translate his speech as he went along to those 
Indians present who could not understand 
the English language. Lack of space forbids 
reproduction of his remarks. One quotation 
may serve as a sample : 

Sir William Johnson 

"You complain," he said, "that the English, 
the Colonists, do not trust you. How can they when 
you do not trust them ? There can be no confidence 
between two unless both share it alike. There can 
never be faith on one side and doubt on the other 
without distrust on both sides. And wherever 
there is distrust no real friendship can exist. You 
Western Iroquois listen to the silver tongues of 
French priests and emissaries whose only object 
is to lure you to ruin that their cause may profit 
by it. They do not love you. They would not 
give you a gourdful of succotash if you were starv 
ing. But when have the English and the Colonists 
failed to help you in distress? Put away the 
French! Send them across the Lake! Tell them 
to practise their bows and scrapes and grimaces 
upon the stupid Indians of Canada not upon the 
noble Iroquois!" 

To Abraham s speech a reply was made by 
Kayaghshota, chief of the "Old Castle" or 
Lake Senecas, whose village occupied the pres 
ent site of Geneva. No record of the Seneca s 
speech seems to have been preserved. Mr. 
Croghan, who kept the minutes of the council, 
says simply that it was "an eloquent and 
plausible defense of the vacillating conduct of 
his tribe." Kayaghshota, it may be interesting 
to remark, was the nncle of the famous Eed 
Jacket probably the most accomplished and 
powerful orator the Indian race ever produced. 

Domestic Life and Congress 

This grand council was one of the most 
picturesque events in the history of the colo 
nies. Many of the chiefs brought their 
wives with them, and some brought their 
children. All were provided with new cloth 
ing by Governor Clinton as soon as they 
arrived, together with a liberal supply of the 
gaudy ornaments so much prized by the Indi 
ans; and the streets of Albany were daily 
thronged by the gaily clad sons and daugh 
ters of the forest enjoying an ovation far 
beyond their wildest dreams. For many 
years afterward the proudest boast of an 
Indian would be: "I was at the great Albany 
Council!" Stone says: 

The old Dutch city had in fact seldom witnessed 
such a sight. Here were gathered Indians from the 
far West, many of whom were destined to redden 
their tomahawks in the blood of so many brave 
garrisons under the great Pontiac. Here were 
many of the River Indians remnants of once pow 
erful tribes whose grandfathers had followed 
Uncas and Miantonomoh to battle, and had taken 
their last stand with the ill-fated King Philip. In 
one spot a painted warrior might have been seen 
smoking his pipe as he recounted to his wonder 
ing companions the sights seen in his morning s 
stroll; while everywhere groups of picturesquely 
attired Indians, with nodding plumes and varie 
gated blankets, wandered through the streets gaz- 

Sir William Johnson 

ing with curious eye upon the novelties of civili 

The results of this council were more sat 
isfactory and on a larger scale than any pre 
viously held. The Iroquois renewed all their 
ancient covenants with the king. The Sen- 
ecas, who had never before formally acknowl 
edged the covenants of 1684 and 1710, now 
gave in their complete adhesion through Hi-o- 
ka-to, Captain Jean Montour 1 (himself a 

1 There were three Montours : Jean, born about 1715, 
Andre, born about 1720, and Henry. They were the sons of 
Catharine Montour by a young half-breed chief of the Niagara 
Senecas, who took her name. Catharine Montour was a 
daughter of the Count de Frontenac by a Huron woman. She 
was born at Fort Frontenac about 1692, and her name figures 
in a curious old document called Accusation against Louis de 
Buade, Comte de Frontenac, in which, among other things, 
he is charged with "debasing the morals of the colony by 
propagating more than sixty half-breeds ! " Jean and Andre 
Montour were both chiefs of high rank in the Seneca nation. 
Catharine Montour received a good education in a convent at 
Montreal. But in 1710, during Queen Anne s War, while 
journeying from Montreal to Fort Frontenac, she was cap 
tured by a raiding party of Senecas and taken to their village 
at Black Rock. Here she soon afterward married the young 
chief, who took her name and she seemed perfectly contented. 
At any rate, upon the exchange of captives that followed the 
Peace of Utrecht, she refused to leave her husband and spent 
her life among the Senecas. After the death of her husband 
in 1735 she became female chief, or Queen in her own right, 
and ruled the Niagara and Southern Senecas until her death 
in 1752. She carefully educated her children, Jean, Andre, 


Domestic Life and Congress 

French half-breed), and the Tonawanda chief 
"Black Loon "; all of whom had hitherto been 
opposed to English influence. They agreed 
to expel all French emissaries and priests 
from their territory, and they also promised to 
arrest the most pestiferous of them, "Jean 
Coeur," l and deliver him up to the Colonial 
authorities. They never kept this promise, 
but they expelled "Jean Coeur " with the rest. 
They agreed to hold no further communica 
tion with the French, to forbid the residence 
of French interpreters in their midst, and to 
prohibit all trade or barter with French tra 
ders ; together with many other things the 
English desired. 

Henry, and three girls. One of her grandchildren was the 
famous "Queen Esther," who practically commanded the In 
dians in the massacre of Wyoming. Jean and Andre Mon- 
tour were conspicuous in the old French War, in Pontiac s 
Rebellion, and in the Revolution. They were good warriors 
and hard fighters, but held reputations for humanity equal to 
that of Joseph Brant. Henry never achieved fame. 

1 In the text we have followed the orthography of the 
Colonial Documentary Records; but there was no Jean 
Coeur." The person meant was Joncaire, a captain in the 
French service and for many years the principal agent and 
emissary of the Canadian Government among the Western 
Indians. We shall have occasion to refer to him frequently 
later on. At the time under consideration he was what might 
be called "principal intelligence officer" of the Canadian 
Department of Indian Affairs, and had his headquarters at 
Fort Niagara. 


Sir William Johnson 

The Governor then requested them to give 
a list of articles they needed to make good 
their losses during the late war. The list 
was rather formidable. Among other things, 
they wanted a thousand guns, with hunting- 
knives, hatchets, flints, and ammunition; two 
thousand blankets; a large quantity of red 
flannel cloth; farming utensils, such as hoes, 
spades, iron plows, sickles, axes, etc. ; cooking 
utensils ; some large kettles, suitable for ma 
king salt from the salt-springs, and maple- 1 
sugar from the sap of trees, etc., etc. The 
total footed up prodigiously. But the Gov 
ernor or the assembled governors prom 
ised that the list should be filled out, and they 
kept their word. 

Prior to Sir William Johnson s time it had 
not been the policy to arm the Indians indis 
criminately. But he took the view that unless 
well armed and practised in the use of their 
weapons, they would be of little value as 
allies, and from his first official connection 
with Indian affairs he had done all he could 
to provide them with serviceable guns and 
plenty of ammunition. At that time the rifle 
was little known outside of the trading-zone of 
Old Lancaster, Pa., where the manufacture of 
rifled weapons in America was begun by a 
colony of Swiss gunsmiths in 1729 hardly 

Domestic Life and Congress 

twenty years before the Albany Council 
and, at the time under consideration (1749), 
Lancaster still enjoyed the monopoly of rifle- 
making in this country. A few specimens 
had found their way into New York, and Sir 
William had a very fine one, made by Deck- 
ert, which he bought while attending the 
Treaty Council at Lancaster in 1744. But 
the production of rifles was limited, and there 
was nothing like a general supply of them. 

The regulation musket cumbrous, heavy, 
and carrying an ounce ball was not suited to 
the use of the Indians, who wanted a lighter 
gun of smaller bore. So, among the first 
things Sir William did when he became Indian 
Commissioner, was to design a gun specially 
adapted to the Indian s requirements. It was 
three feet long in the barrel and about four 
feet two inches over all, smooth bore, carried 
a half-ounce spherical bullet, and could be 
used either with ball or with small shot. This 
was known for many years as the "Indian- 
trade smooth bore," and was not completely 
supplanted by the rifle on the frontier until 
after the beginning of the nineteenth century. 
The barrels and locks were made and proved 
in Birmingham and then shipped to this coun 
try, where the stocks were fitted by Colonial 
gunsmiths. Twelve hundred of these guns 

Sir William Johnson 

were ordered immediately after the council, 
and in due time they were in the hands of the 
Indians. The other articles wanted were 
more easily procured, and the distribution of 
them was begun at once. 

Philip Van Courtlandt, who as a young 
boy attended this council with his father, the 
Patroon, relates the amusing incident that 
Hi-o-ka-to took a great fancy to the garb of a 
Highlander he happened to see in Albany, and 
asked the Governor to give him a Highland 
outfit. The Governor succeeded in finding a 
shirt, kilt, and tartan that would fit his stal 
wart proportions, and the great war-chief of 
the Genesee Senecas strutted around Albany 
as a Highlander to the infinite delight of the 
rising generation and the admiration of the 
women of his own race. And long afterward 
it was his custom to appear on state occasions 
in his own tribe clad in the plaid and tartan of 
the Forty-second Highlanders. The council 
adjourned the 30th of July, with a grand out 
door banquet, at which were present over a 
hundred Indians and as many white people. 
Then the Indians went quietly back to their 
forests and peace reigned supreme. 

The next two years passed without special 
event. Sir William had recently come into 
possession of another large tract of land, 

Domestic Life and Congress 

which was patented in 1753 as the "Kingsboro 
Patent " though he took possession of his 
part of it and began to improve it more than 
two years before the date of the patent. This 
afterward became known as the "Johnstown 
tract." It lay some distance north of the 
Mohawk River and several miles west of 
Mount Johnson. Improving this new tract 
and managing his great farm and mills on 
the Chuctenunda near Mount Johnson, to 
gether with his official duties as Indian Su 
perintendent, colonel-in-chief of the Albany 
County militia, and king s magistrate, must 
have kept his hands full. Yet he found a 
good deal of time for writing and reading, 
and for such diversions as horse-racing and 

In 1751 the first and perhaps the only 
really unpleasant episode in his public career 
occurred. During the late war he had ex 
pended large sums of money from his private 
purse for the public service over and above 
the amounts currently appropriated by the 
Assembly. Most of these expenditures were 
for the maintenance of the Indians he had 
mobilized for the two abortive attempts to 
organize expeditions against Crown Point, 
and for the invasion of Canada. During this 
period he had also maintained the white gar- 
6 73 

Sir William Johnson 

rison of Oswego for a considerable time be^ 
yond the expiration of a contract he had for 
that service. The total amount of his private 
expenditure in these directions was nine 
thousand nine hundred and seventy-six 
pounds sterling and some shillings and pence 
nearly $50,000. 

These expenditures were under two heads : 
first, those which had been submitted to Gov 
ernor Clinton and approved by him before 
disbursement ; and, second, those approved by 
the Governor after disbursement. The first 
amounted to 5,700; the last to 4,276. Dur 
ing the session of 1750-51 Sir William sub 
mitted these accounts to the Committee of 
Supply in the Assembly and asked reimburse 
ment. After long consideration, the commit 
tee reported and the Assembly passed two 
resolutions directing payment of the 5,700, 
which had been approved by the Governor 
before disbursement. But they also passed 
a resolution directing further investigation 
of the 4,276, approved by the Governor after 
disbursement. In debate on these resolu 
tions, during which Sir William was present 
in the Assembly Hall, severe animadversions 
were made upon the "close corporation " that 
was alleged to exist between the Governor, 
Chief-Justice DeLancey, the Attorney-Gen- 

Domestic Life and Congress 

eral, and Sir William. In the course of the 
debate one member of the Assembly Mr. 
Hardenburgh, of Ulster referred in rather 
caustic terms to the fact that Sir William had 
for several years "filled the apparently incon 
gruous, if not wholly incompatible, stations 
of Superintendent of Indian Affairs and 
Indian Trader on a large scale at the same 

After hearing this, Sir William left the 
hall of the Assembly, and the same afternoon 
sent a note to Mr. Hardenburgh asking him 
if he intended by those remarks to impugn 
his personal integrity. Sir William was at 
that time the guest of Mr. DeLancey, in 
New York, and that gentleman carried the 
note. Mr. Hardenburgh promptly replied by 
inquiring whether he (Sir William) intended 
his note as preliminary to a demand for sat 
isfaction. To this Sir William responded at 
once as follows: 

DEAR SIR: Replying to your inquiry in reply 
to my note by the hands of Mr. DeLancey, permit 
me to say that the idea of a demand for satisfaction 
never entered my mind. Nor have I entertained 
any thought of individual grievance at your hands. 
Had you answered that the condition of my ac 
counts and my relation to the Indians did seem to 
involve my personal integrity, I should simply 

Sir William Johnson 

have given you the key to the vault where my 
books of account are kept, and requested you to 
examine them at your own leisure and in your 
own way. 

As for "satisfaction," permit me to say: first, 
that I am well aware of the parliamentary privilege 
which averts personal responsibility for language 
uttered in debate in a legislative body ; and, second, 
I believe the practise of dueling is always barba 
rous and often murderous. I should be sorry if 
I thought I had a repute for courage that could be 
sustained only by fighting duels. Believe me, my 
dear sir, that I shall always keep all my bullets 
and all my marksmanship for the enemies of my 
country! I shall never visit them upon any of 
my own countrymen who may be hostile to me 

I have the honor to be, with profound respect, 
Your Most Obedient Servant, 


It took a pretty courageous man and an 
Irishman at that to thus denounce and flout 
the practise of dueling in the year 1751. The 
Assembly adjourned two days after that, 
leaving the 4,276 for further consideration. 
Mr. Hardenburgh seems to have been im 
pressed by Sir William s attitude, because, at 
the next session, when Mr. Holland moved 
"consideration of the unsettled accounts of 
Colonel William Johnson," Mr. Hardenburgh 

Domestic Life and Congress 

seconded the motion, and an appropriation to 
reimburse him for his outlay of 4,276 of pri 
vate funds in the public service was passed 
under suspension of the rules. 

In the meantime, however, Sir William 
had resigned the office of Sole Superintendent 
of Indian Affairs, and, though the Governor 
and many others besought him to withdraw 
the resignation, he remained firm. He knew 
very well that no one in the Assembly bore 
any malice toward him personally. But he 
also knew that a considerable majority of the 
Assembly hated the Governor, and that, in 
attacking him about his accounts, they were 
only clubbing the Governor over his shoul 
ders. Still, it was a thankless position ; he was 
tired of the eternal bickerings between the 
Governor and the Assembly, and he wanted to 
place himself out of range of their fusillade. 
Besides, his private business was being neg 
lected, and, ambitious as he was for public 
life and public honors, his first love was 
always his home, his children, his dusky 
sweetheart, his horses, his cattle, his wide- 
spreading lands, and his buzzing mills. 

Every overture was made to him to resume 
the superintendency. Finally, after the As 
sembly had paid his accounts in full, he told 
the Governor that whenever his services in 

Sir William Johnson 

dealing with the Indians might seem desir 
able, he would accept a temporary appoint 
ment to visit them or confer with them as a 
special envoy, but under no circumstances 
would he resume the permanent superintend- 
ency. The result was that the Governor did 
not fill his place, but used him from time to 
time on special missions, as occasion required. 
The Indians, as soon as they heard of Sir 
William s resignation, took it deeply to heart. 
Eunners were sent from the Lower Mohawk 
Castle all through the Iroquois Nation by 
Hendrick, asking for a council of chiefs post 
haste. In a few days quite a delegation gath 
ered, including Captain Jean Montour of the 
Senecas, whom the runners happened to find 
visiting his wife s people at Onondaga Castle. 
The chiefs reached Albany, where the Gov 
ernor then was temporarily staying, late at 
night, and they waited on him early the next 
morning, requesting a private interview. 
This was, of course, granted, and as soon as 
the doors were closed, Hendrick said: 

We have come to consult with our Brother Cor- 
lear (their name for all the governors) in relation 
to Colonel Johnson. We have just heard that he 
has resigned. When the war was breaking out, 
your Excellency recommended him to us, and you 
then told us that we might consider anything he 

Domestic Life and Congress 

said as being spoken by yourself. So as we had 
had no hand in his appointment we have done noth 
ing to induce his resignation. Judge, therefore, 
the shock we felt when he sent us a belt of love and 
peace, with a letter saying he had resigned and 
would be our superintendent no more. We can 
not express our feelings. He must come back to 
us. No one can take his place in our hearts. We 
can never learn to believe the words of any one 
as we believed him. You, or if you can not, then 
our Great Father, the King, must make him come 
back to us. We can not get along without him! 

Captain Montour then spoke for the Sen- 

"Our nation," he said, "is hard to control. 
There are many good Senecas, and also many bad 
ones. But all love Colonel Johnson, all believe 
what he says, and all, good and bad alike, will listen 
to his words and have faith in his promises. His 
tongue is not forked. He always speaks with one 
tongue. In peace, he was like a fertile field that 
raised corn and pumpkins and melons. In war, he 
was like a tree that grew for us to bear fruit, but 
now seems to be falling down, though it has many 
roots sunk deep in the soil of our affection, our 
confidence, and our esteem. His knowledge of our 
affairs, our laws, and our language made us think 
he was not like other white men, but an Indian 
like ourselves. Not only that, but in his house 
is an Indian woman, and his little children are 

Sir William Johnson 

half-breeds, as I also am, your Excellency knows 
only I am a French half-breed and Colonel 
Johnson s little children are English half-breeds. 
We understand that he declines to return to his 
office. This makes us afraid you will have to ap 
point some one in his place who does not know us 
some person who is a stranger to us and to our 
affairs. We therefore ask you to compel him to 
resume his office of superintendent, or if you can not 
compel him yourself, to send a letter asking our 
Great Father, the King, to compel him. We know 
that he will obey the King. Please tell the King, if 
you write to him, that we want Colonel Johnson 
over us, and no one else. He has keen ears and 
hears a great deal, and what he hears he tells to 
us truthfully. He also has sharp eyes, and sees a 
long way ahead, and conceals nothing from us." 

After hearing these speeches the Governor 
adjourned the interview till the next morning 
at nine o clock, when lie promised the chiefs 
that he would answer them. The Governor s 
reason for deferring his reply to the chiefs 
was that he expected Sir William to reach 
Albany that evening, and wished to see him 
before making a definite answer. Johnson 
arrived about seven o clock, and the Governor 
at once called upon him. He was visibly af 
fected when the Governor told him what the 
chiefs had said, but persisted in his declina 
tion to resume office. He finally agreed, how- 

Domestic Life and Congress 

ever, to deal with the Indians in his personal 
capacity whenever the Governor might con 
sider such services essential to the public wel 
fare. But he declared he would hold no offi 
cial position calculated to bring him into con 
tact with what he termed "that factious and 
malignant majority in the Assembly." 

The next morning the Governor and Sir 
William called on the chiefs together, and 
explained the situation to them. They were 
partly appeased, and the whole affair was left 
in statu quo. No successor to Sir William 
was appointed, but, in his personal or unoffi 
cial capacity, he continued to supervise the 
Indian affairs of the colony almost as closely 
as he had done while in office. Under such 
conditions the years 1751 and 1752 passed 
without incident of special note; the French 
secretly pushing their preparations, the Brit 
ish and Colonial governments resting su 

In 1753 the signs of impending war began 
to multiply. The movements of the French 
to take actual possession of the Ohio Valley 
had at last roused the English and Colonial 
governments to a sense of peril, and they 
began, rather slowly and clumsily, to take 
measures for safety. In 1748, at the close of 
"King George s War," a company had been 

Sir William Johnson 

formed in Virginia, of which Lawrence and 
Augustine Washington were members, called 
the "Ohio Land Company." This corpora 
tion secured a grant of 600,000 acres on the 
south side of the Ohio River, between the 
Monongahela and the Great Kanawha. Both 
the French and Indians held that the King of 
England had no right to grant lands in that 
region. The Indians owned the land and the 
French claimed sovereignty by right of orig 
inal discovery, exploration, settlement in the 
shape of trading establishments, and free 
travel to and fro with consent of the Indians. 
According to the ethics of those days, these 
acts constituted a prime basis for the claim of 

The English based their counterclaim 
mainly upon their old treaty with the Iroquois 
in 1684, at Albany, confirmed in 1710, and re 
confirmed at Lancaster, Pa., in 1744. By 
that treaty the English undertook to defend 
the domain of the Iroquois, and the latter had 
claimed jurisdiction over the Ohio Valley and 
all lands drained by its tributaries, "as far 
south as the Chilhowee or Great Smoky 
Mountains." This was purely a claim of 
rapine! For, while the Iroquois had in ear 
lier days frequently invaded the Ohio coun 
try and subdued its aboriginal inhabitants, 

Domestic Life and Congress 

they had never attempted permanently to 
occupy the territory. Their invasions were, 
in fact, simply raids, and they had come and 
gone, leaving wreck and ruin in their tracks, 
much like the Tartar hordes when they in 
vaded Hindostan, or the Goths, Vandals, and 
Huns when they overran Europe. 

That the Iroquois were and had been for 
centuries the most powerful Indian nation 
east of the Mississippi, and had frequently 
invaded and ravaged the territory of their 
weaker neighbors on all sides of them, was 
undeniable ; but that mere rapine and ravage 
should constitute a basis of permanent sov 
ereignty was a theory that only Indian 
schools of international law would be likely to 
teach. However, England was willing to ac 
cept such a basis for her own claim of sov 
ereignty in the Ohio Valley, and, as the 
sequel proved, she was willing to fight for it to 
the death. The fact is, the English states 
men were never serious about this shadowy 
claim. They laughed at it themselves over 
their dinner-tables and their Madeira. The 
real truth was that they had finally made up 
their minds to oust the French from North 
America altogether, and one pretext was as 
good as another. 

In the spring of 1752 the Ohio Company 

Sir William Johnson 

sent a daring backwoodsman, named Chris 
topher Gist, to explore their grant of land. 
Gist went as far west as the mouth of the 
Great Kanawha, and on his return in the 
autumn made an interesting report. This 
was the first effort even pretense the Eng 
lish had ever made to explore the country they 
claimed. Event now followed event in quick 
succession. The Governor of Virginia, Din- 
widdie, sent a company of frontiersmen, 
under Captain Trent, to the head of the Ohio, 
where they built a small log fort. Captain 
Trent had forty-one men. In April, 1754, a 
French and Indian force about 700 strong 
came down the Allegheny River and invested 
the little fort. As the French had four pieces 
of artillery, Captain Trent saw that resist 
ance would be hopeless, and he at once ac 
cepted the terms offered by the French com 
mander, Captain Contrecoeur. 

The little garrison marched out with the 
honors of war and Contrecoeur at once pro 
ceeded to enlarge the fort, mounted his can 
non on its ramparts, and took formal posses 
sion of the Ohio Valley in the name of the 
King of France. Then followed Washington s 
advance to Great Meadows, and his skirmish 
with a scouting party of French and Indians 
under de Jumonville, who was killed with ten 

Domestic Life and Congress 

of his men, and the rest, twenty-two in num 
ber, wounded or taken prisoners. Then came 
the building of "Fort Necessity" and its 
capitulation a few days afterward to a force 
of about seven hundred French and Indians 
under Captain de Villiers. This ended the 
operations of 1754, and left the French in full 
control west of the mountains. The "Old 
French War " was now fairly on. The French 
had gained the first success ; the English were 
slowly getting ready to fight. 

During the period whose events in the 
Ohio Valley we have thus briefly sketched, 
affairs in the northern colonies remained in 
a quiet state until late in the fall of 1753, 
when alarming rumors reached Sir William 
Johnson of the presence of numerous French 
emissaries among the Senecas, and of great 
discontent on the part of the Western Iro- 
quois generally. Lieutenant-Governor DeLan- 
cey was then acting Governor, and he at once 
requested Sir William to visit the Senecas 
and do what he could to quiet them. Though 
it was late in December, and considerable 
snow was on the ground, Sir William did not 
shrink from a winter journey on horseback 
between Mount Johnson and Kanandagea, the 
principal town of the Senecas. The distance 
was about 160 miles. There was a fair road 

Sir William Johnson 

to Fort Stanwix, and a good bridle-path from 
there to Onondaga Castle ; the rest of the way 
there was nothing but Indian trails. How 
ever, there were comfortable Indian villages 
along the route, where he was sure to find 
hearty welcome and the best that the simple 
hospitality of the Iroquois afforded, which, 
to a great extent, mitigated the rigors of the 
journey. On this occasion Sir William took 
with him only his half-breed orderly, John 
Abiel, and Nicklaus Brant, who had then just 
become chief of the Upper Castle Mohawks. 
The journey was made in seven days ; but Sir 
William stopped one day to visit Hi-o-ka-to 
in his village at Genesee Falls. He found 
no French emissaries at Hi-o-ka-to s town, 
though the chief told him some had appeared 
there a fortnight before, and he had peremp 
torily sent them away. "But you will find 
plenty of them farther west," he said. Hi-o- 
ka-to then saddled his horse and accompanied 
Sir William on his journey. 

Arriving at the Seneca capital, Sir Will 
iam was heartily welcomed. The council- 
house, a commodious log building, having a 
puncheon floor (split and hewn logs) and a 
large fireplace, was allotted for his accom 
modation, with several attendants. A feast 
was made in his honor, and all the warriors 

Domestic Life and Congress 

present in the town were introduced to him 
by Hi-o-ka-to. No French emissaries were 
found, but he was informed that several 
French traders from Niagara had been there 
recently. The only Frenchman at Kananda- 
gea, to the great surprise of Sir William, 
proved to be the redoubtable Captain Jon- 
caire himself, who had arrived two or three 
days before him. The captain, when he 
learned that Sir William was in town, made 
no effort to avoid him, but, in fact, paid him 
a visit the day after his arrival. He assured 
Sir William that his presence at the Seneca 
capital had no political significance, but was 
merely a visit to old friends. He reminded 
Sir William that ten years of his boyhood and 
youth had been passed at this town as a cap 
tive, adopted into the tribe, and jocularly 
remarked that, though he returned to Canada 
when about twenty years old, he was still a 
Seneca by adoption, and, as such, was under 
the jurisdiction of the English Superintendent 
of Indian Affairs for the Iroquois nation! 
He told Sir William about the visit of Major 
George Washington to his trading-post at 
Venango, a month or so previous to this time. 
Major Washington was at Venango on his 
way to Fort LeBoeuf, on a tour of observa 
tion for Governor Dinwiddie, during Novem- 

Sir William Johnson 

ber of that year, and be also stopped there a 
couple of days on his return journey. In his 
journal of that mission, Washington says that 
Captain Joncaire was very polite and enter 
tained him handsomely. This was the first 
news Sir William had received of Washing 
ton s tour of observation along the Allegheny 
line of French posts. It was highly impor 
tant news to him, because it indicated that Vir 
ginia had begun to move in earnest with regard 
to the Ohio question. As Joncaire bore a re 
lation to Indian affairs on the French side in 
many respects analogous to that borne by Sir 
William on the English side, their accidental 
meeting at the Seneca capital in midwinter 
was an interesting occurrence. 

A singular incident of this casual meeting 
of Sir William Johnson and Captain Joncaire 
in the Seneca capital was the fact that neither 
one of them could speak or understand the 
other s mother tongue. Joncaire had no 
knowledge of English and Sir William knew 
nothing of French. Both, however, could 
speak the Iroquois tongue as fluently as an 
Indian orator, and it was in that language 
that they held all their conversations. It is 
doubtful whether a similar instance ever 
occurred in the careers of two men as promi 
nent in their respective countries as these two. 

Domestic Life and Congress 

Sir William remained at Kanandagea 
about a week, and then returned home by easy 
stages, stopping a day or two at each impor 
tant village on his route, and, as he expressed 
it, "thoroughly feeling the pulse of the Sene- 
cas, Cayugas, and Onondagas." His con 
clusion was that the stories about French 
emissaries had been exaggerated, and that 
their operations had been confined mainly to 
the Western Senecas living near Niagara, and 
on the Tonawanda, or to the southern branch 
of the tribe in the valleys of Cattaraugus 
Creek and the Conewango. 

The rest of the winter and the spring of 
1754 passed without particular incident in the 
colony of New York. But at the end of June, 
that year, an event occurred of primary im 
portance. It was the convention at Albany 
of delegates from the colonies of New Hamp 
shire, Ehode Island, Connecticut, New York, 
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland to 
form a plan of concerted action in the war 
which all now saw to be inevitable. There 
had been meetings of Colonial governors 
before, but this was the first instance of a con 
vention or congress of delegates chosen for 
the specific purpose of forming a Colonial 
Union. Virginia and the Carolinas were not 
represented except by letters from their gov- 
? 89 

Sir William Johnson 

ernors approving the scheme, and saying that 
they would cooperate in any program the con 
vention might adopt. "In fact, gentlemen," 
wrote Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia, "the 
war is at my back door already, and I have 
my hands full. I will try to keep my own 
frontier intact, and that is all I can do. You 
must take care of the northern frontier." 
The governors of the Carolinas wrote in a 
similar vein. 

With this Congress met also delegations 
from the Six Nations, from the Delawares of 
western Pennsylvania, and the Elver Indi 
ans. The deliberations lasted several days, 
and the results were a resolution to act to 
gether, to recommend that the king appoint 
Governor Shirley of Massachusetts com- 
mander-in-chief of the confederated Colonial 
forces, and an agreement as to the quotas of 
men, money, and supplies to be furnished by 
each colony in their united operations. It 
was agreed that the eight colonies represented 
could raise and maintain an effective force of 
25,000 men for general operations; that Vir 
ginia and the Carolinas should be considered 
as doing their share if they effectively de 
fended their own frontiers, and furnished 
contingents for any movement that might be 
made against the French posts on the Ohio. 

Domestic Life and Congress 

Three commissioners were appointed to go to 
England and lay the whole situation before 
the king and his ministers. They were in 
structed to ask that at least twelve thousand 
British regulars be sent over at once, and that 
the -fleet on the North American station be 
increased to a force sufficient to blockade the 
St. Lawrence and cut off communication be 
tween France and Canada. 

On the part of the Indians, it was agreed 
that they should furnish, upon call, a force 
of at least one thousand picked warriors 
for general service, provided their command- 
er-in-chief should be Sir William Johnson. 
And in addition to these, the Indians under 
took to raise a force of at least six hundred 
more to help repel any attempt the French 
might make against Oswego, or any other sali 
ent point within the territory of the Six Na 
tions. The Indians also stipulated that their 
warriors, when in the field, should receive the 
same pay, rations, and clothing-allowance as 
the provincial troops. And that if, upon 
inspection, the gun of any warrior should be 
found disabled or unserviceable, he should 
receive a new one free of cost ; also that each 
warrior, when mustered for actual service, 
should receive a new blanket, a red flannel 
shirt, a blue hunting- jacket with red trim- 

Sir William Johnson 

ming, and a pair of stout leather or buckskin 
leggings ! 

Having settled all these things, the Con 
gress of 1754 at Albany adjourned, subject to 
recall at any time by Governor Shirley of 
Massachusetts. That Congress was the em 
bryo of another Congress that met twenty 
years later at Philadelphia whose history, 
has been heard round the world ! 





IN order that a clear and accurate concep 
tion may be formed of the relative conditions 
prevailing in their respective North American 
colonies at the time when England and France 
began their final and decisive struggle for 
empire on the continent, it is necessary to sur 
vey, first, the numerical strength of each Colo 
nial establishment in white people; second, 
the numerical strength and general fighting 
power of the Indian tribes under the control 
of or in alliance with each; third, the meth 
ods of each respectively in dealing with the 
Indians; and, fourth, the effect of their di 
verse methods in winning and holding the 
fealty of the Indian tribes. 

With regard to the relative numbers of 

white people resident in the North American 

colonies of the two countries, it may be said 

that at the beginning, or just before the be- 


Sir William Johnson 

ginning, of the French war, the Marquis Du- 
quesne, then (1752) just appointed Governor- 
General of Canada, reported that there were 
in all the French Canadian possessions then 
known as New France a white male popula 
tion of 22,000, inclusive of the royal or regular 
troops then garrisoning the various military 
strongholds in Canada. As these troops at 
that time numbered about 3,000 to 3,500, it 
follows that the civilian white adult male 
population of all French Canada in 1752 did 
not exceed 19,000. The English colonies, 
stretching along the Atlantic coast from 
Maine to Georgia, had at the same time nearly 
if not quite 1,600,000 people, of whom at least 
200,000 were adult males. At first glance any 
one would say that a contest between 22,000 
men on one side and 200,000 or thereabouts on 
the other, would necessarily be a farce, but as 
a matter of fact, it took the 200,000, backed by 
all the power of England, seven years to con 
quer the 22,000.! 

1 It is unquestionable that the marquis, in his estimate of 
22,000, etc., meant to include only males capable of bearing 
arms or of military age. This would have embraced all males 
between sixteen and sixty years old under the militia regula 
tions then prevailing in "New France." He must have had 
in mind only the able-bodied male population, because Vol 
taire, writing of the same period, says: "... And while the 
population of British America was over 1,200,000, that of all 


Braddock s Defeat 

During the progress of the seven years 
struggle, the white French population of 
Canada was increased by some 3,000 or 4,000 
civilian adventurers, and the French Govern- 

Canada, Cape Breton, and Louisiana could not have exceeded 
80,000 souls." If Voltaire s estimate of the total white popu 
lation 80,000 and Duquesne s estimate of the number of 
males capable of bearing arms 18,000 to 19,000 besides the 
regular troops were both correct, it would argue an extraor 
dinarily large proportion of adult males about one in every 
four of the total population but that was always true of 
Canada under French rule. The adult males outnumbered 
the grown women in a proportion never less than two to one. 
This was because as a rule Frenchmen came to Canada single 
and formed alliances with Indian women. The immigration 
of married men with their families was exceptional. 

Dr. Woodrow Wilson, in his History of the American Peo 
ple, says (p. 4, vol. ii) that "probably there were not more 
than 12,000 Frenchmen, all told, in America when William 
became king (1689)." This, of course, was sixty-three years 
prior to the Marquis Duquesne s estimate of the number of 
males capable of bearing arms, and about the same length of 
time previous to Voltaire s estimate of 80,000 of all sexes and 
ages. However, on p. 98 of the same volume, Dr. Wilson, 
writing of the period of 1750-52, adopts Voltaire s estimate of 
80,000 as the total white population of Canada at the outbreak 
of the old French War. But Voltaire s estimate of the total 
white population of the English colonies in 1753, which in 
his own original phrase is "plus que douze-cent mille" [more 
than 1,200,000], is too low. No census was taken in those 
days. The tide of immigration was not at flood. We had by 
Franklin s estimate about 2,500,000 white people in the Amer 
ican colonies in 1776. Taking the two extremes and calcu 
lating on the basis that an actuary would adopt, we have 
figured out that the total population of the Anglo-American 
colonies in 1753 was not less than one million six hundred 


Sir William Johnson 

ment succeeded in reenforcing its garrisons 
or its field force there with seven regiments of 
regular infantry, besides some small units of 
other arms of the service, which will be noted 
later on. 

As against this reenforcement, it may be 
said that from the beginning to the end of the 
struggle England landed in the colonies, from 
time to time, a total force of 18,000 British 
regular troops, and besides, supported the 
campaigns on land by an exertion of her sea 
power, which, during the last four years of the 
struggle, practically obliterated all means of 
communication between France and her Ca 
nadian colonies. 

Therefore, we have calculated that during 
the whole seven years struggle, the French 
had in North America, exclusive of Louisiana, 
about 22,000 white civilians (males), and be- 

thousand (1,600,000) souls, which included about 200,000 
negro slaves. At any rate, the first reliable census 1800 
showed that natural increase for forty -seven years could 
not have produced the difference between Voltaire s estimate 
of 1753 and the actual count of 1800, for between those two 
dates the volume of immigration was not enough to make up 
the difference. As for the State of New York, with which 
this work mainly deals, an enumeration in 1790 seven years 
after the close of the Revolution showed a population of 
341,000; and New York at that time was fourth of the States 
in number of people, being exceeded by Massachusetts, Penn 
sylvania, and Virginia. 


Braddock s Defeat 

tween 10,000 and 11,000 regular troops. As 
before remarked, this disparity of numbers 
not less than ten to one, so far as white males 
of military age were concerned might seem 
appalling, but when due account is taken of 
the radical and fundamental difference be 
tween the systems of the two nations in their 
respective colonies, the numerical inequality, 
to a great extent, loses its significance. Col 
onization from the English point of view, as 
practised in the colonies of the Atlantic sea 
board, meant permanent improvement, home- 
making, the building of commercial cities and 
towns, the clearing of forests, creation of 
farms, cultivation of the soil, manufactures 
of various kinds, and a general commerce by 
sea and by land. The meaning of this, so far as 
concerned the Indian, was a constant policy of 
driving him back, of obtaining his lands from 
time to time by hook or by crook, by nomi 
nal purchase or by conquest. It meant also a 
traffic with him that was insufficiently regu 
lated, if regulated at all, and, as a rule, in this 
traffic the Indian was cheated out of his prod 
ucts with as little hesitation or compunction 
as he had previously been cheated out of his 
lands. The result of all this was that wher 
ever the English colonists encountered the 
Indian, they made an enemy of him. This 

Sir William Johnson 

was true along the whole coast and back to the 
Allegheny range of mountains, with the single 
exception of the Iroquois Confederacy, or the 
Six Nations, living in central and western 
New York. 

On the other hand, the French system of 
colonization was simply a military occupa 
tion. The French never colonized Canada 
they simply garrisoned it. They did not 
covet the lands of the Indian. All their pol 
icy was shaped to discourage permanent set 
tlement of French colonists on any consider 
able scale. The most that the French did in 
the way of permanent settlement was the 
building of three good-sized towns Quebec, 
Montreal, and Louisburg together with a 
number of smaller towns and villages; but 
these cities, towns, and villages were little 
more than rendezvous or places of arms, 
either for defense pure and simple against 
foreign aggression, such as Louisburg, or as 
depots or entrepots for their Indian trade, 
which was, from beginning to end, the life- 
blood of the French colonial system in Can 
ada. There was never a time in the history 
of French Canada, from the advent of Samuel 
Champlain, at the beginning of the seven 
teenth century, until the final evacuation of 
the country, after the fall of Montreal in 1760, 

Braddock s Defeat 

when the agriculture of New France or Can 
ada produced anything like a sufficient sup 
ply of foodstuffs for the needs of its white 
inhabitants, comparatively few as they were. 1 

1 " In 1753," says Voltaire, "the exports of Canada 
amounted to but 68,000, while its imports were 208,000. 
During the same year the exports of the English provinces 
were 1,486,000, their imports 983,000. In 1755 Canadian 
imports were 5,203,272 livres, its exports only 1,515,730 livres. 
Le Canada coutait beaucoup et rapportait tres peu [Canada 
costs a great deal and returns very little] " pursues Voltaire ; 
and he proceeds to argue that the policy of expending so 
much blood and treasure in maintaining and defending such 
an unprofitable dependency is unstatesmanlike and wrong. 
Voltaire then goes on to say: " Si la dixieme partie de 1 argent 
englouti dans cette colonie avait ete employe a defricher nos 
terres incultes en France, on aurait fait un gain considerable. 
. . . Mais il f aut que le roi s amuse ; et cette colonie ruineuse, 
c est un de ses joujous!" [If the tenth part of the money 
squandered on this colony had been used to improve our 
waste lands in France there would have been a considerable 
profit. . . . But the king must amuse himself, and this ruin 
ous colony is one of his playthings!] He concludes by de 
scribing Canada as "un puisard de 1 argent et une grande 
eponge du sang de la France ! " [A sinkhole for the money 
and a vast sponge for the blood of France !] This may have 
been nothing more than Voltaire s habitual cynicism, but 
there is no disputing his facts. In the long run France spent 
on Canada ten times the money she received in return, shed 
the blood of her sons in torrents by land and sea to defend it, 
and then lost all ignominiously in the end. The deduction is 
plain : her system was false. It was opposed to the genius of 
modern civilization and hence had to fall, but we can not 
help admiring the desperate courage and the unflinching for 
titude with which she defended it to the last gasp. 


Sir William Johnson 

The Indians soon found out that the 
French did not want their lands, did not wish 
to cut down and clear away their forests, did 
not propose a policy which would disturb 
them or compel them to move from the habita 
tions of their forefathers to new forests and 
new hunting-grounds. Therefore, the jeal 
ousy and hatred with which the Indians far 
ther south regarded the English colonies was 
never felt or cherished toward the French. In 
the social sense, the Frenchman was much 
better adapted to deal with the Indian charac 
ter than the Englishman. The Englishman 
as a rule disliked to associate with Indians. 
He considered them an inferior race dirty, 
slovenly, and on all accounts to be avoided 
whenever possible. On the other hand, the 
Frenchman made himself at home in the In 
dian villages; married, or in a less formal 
way allied himself with their women; raised 
large families of half-breeds; learned their 
language, or taught them his own, or both; 
traded with them, in the main honestly ; and, 
above all, was never afraid of them. The 
result of all this was that when the two pow 
ers arrived at the threshold of their final 
struggle for control in North America, the 
French could count on the support of the en 
tire fighting strength of every tribe of Indians 

Braddock s Defeat 

east of the Mississippi and north of the Ohio, 
excepting alone the Iroquois. 

Now, to this happy method of ingratiating 
themselves socially and politically with the 
Indians, the French had the additional advan 
tage of the labors of their priests, the Jesuit 
Fathers. These devoted men, beginning 
away back early in the seventeenth century, 
traversed the entire continent, visited almost 
every tribe of Indians, not merely east of the 
Mississippi River, but passed beyond it to the 
Missouri, and even to the foot-hills of the 
Eocky Mountains, introducing their peculiar 
rites into every tribe, and impressing the 
sacredness of their personality upon the 
abundant superstition of the Indians. It is 
really an open question whether the tact, 
benevolence, and good nature displayed by the 
French traders and soldiers had been as 
potent an influence in bringing the great mass 
of western Indians under French control as 
the ministrations of their black-robed priests. 
Be that as it may, they had brought them at 
the time now under consideration say 1753- 
54 completely under French sway, and not 
only that, but they also at that time seriously 
disputed with the English the control of the 
western tribe of the Iroquois nation itself 
the Senecas who were by far the largest and 

Sir William Johnson 

most powerful clan of the Six Nations. How 
ever, as this particular subject belongs to a 
later phase, we will not further discuss it 

Proceeding now to consider the numerical 
strength of the Indians under the control of 
either power, it may be said that in 1753-54 
the population of the Six Nations was vari 
ously estimated. In 1752, immediately after 
the Marquis Duquesne assumed the Governor- 
Generalship of Canada, Captain Joncaire, 
who had for many years been the principal 
"Indian Intelligence Officer " for the Govern 
ment of Canada, reported to the Governor- 
General that, according to the best of his in 
formation, the total number of the Iroquois 
was very nearly 25,000 or 22,000 at least. 
Of these, he calculated that the Senecas num 
bered two-fifths, or about 9,000 to 10,000; the 
Cayugas and Onondagas together, about 
6,000 to 6,500 ; the Oneidas about 3,500 ; and 
the Mohawks including a clan allied to them 
known as the "River Indians " about 4,500; 
and the Tuscaroras a remnant of the once 
powerful tribe of that name, formerly living 
in the western Carolinas, who had been re 
ceived and adopted into the Six Nations at 
from 500 to 600 souls. This estimate was 
probably excessive, because in Sir William 

Braddock s Defeat 

Johnson s papers, under date of the year 1753, 
appears an estimate of the numbers of these 
Indians, in which he places the total at about 
19,000, maintaining generally almost exactly 
the same proportions, tribe for tribe, as those 
stated by Captain Joncaire. It may be a 
question as to which of the two had the better 
means of information. Sir William Johnson 
derived his estimate from detailed statements 
made to him by chiefs of all the tribes, and of 
the different clans in each tribe. It was not 
an exact census, as that term is understood in 
modern practise, but it came as near to a cen 
sus as was possible in the circumstances. At 
the same time, Joncaire had unusual facilities 
for ascertaining the numbers, or any other 
facts that he desired to obtain concerning the 

Joncaire was a characteristic product of 
the times in which he lived and the circum 
stances under which he had his being. 

Parkman, historian par excellence of the 
French regime in North America, frequently 
refers to Joncaire s activity among the Indi 
ans. But he seems to merge two individuals 
in one. For example, he makes a Joncaire 
busy among the Senecas around Niagara as 
early as 1704, at the beginning of Queen 
Anne s War; and then prolongs his career 

Sir William Johnson 

until the downfall of French power in 1759- 
60. Besides, he speaks of him as "Chabert 
Joncaire," and says "he was the half-breed 
son of a French officer, by a Seneca squaw." 
The facts are as follows : The first of the name 
to figure prominently in the New World was 
Jean Frangois Joncaire. He was the son of 
a subaltern officer of French colonial troops 
and a full-blood white man. Born about 1682 
in France, he was brought by his parents to 
Canada when about nine years of age say 
1691. His father was a "pioneer officer " or 
military engineer, and was employed at fort- 
building and road-making. In a raid against 
the settlements on the Richelieu early in King 
William s War a party of Senecas captured 
young Joncaire and took him to one of their 
villages in western New York (the present 
Canandaigua). They adopted him and he 
lived with them until the interchange of cap 
tives a year or so after the Peace of Ryswick. 
He was then about eighteen years old. He 
attracted the attention of Cadillac, then com 
manding the French forces in the Lake region. 
Through Cadillac s influence he was sent to 
the Jesuit Academy or Seminary at Quebec 
for a time, but completed his education in a 
school of Recollet Friars at Montreal. For 
some reason he always opposed the Jesuits. 

Braddock s Defeat 

Early in Queen Anne s War Joncaire, then 
about twenty-two, was employed as agent or 
emissary among the western Iroquois 
mainly the Senecas and Cayugas. He spoke 
their language to perfection, and he also knew 
half a dozen other Indian tongues or dialects. 
From 1703 or 1704 until the capture of Fort 
Niagara in 1759, his activity among the west 
ern Indians was incessant, and his field of 
operations ranged from the banks of the 
Genesee to those of the Ohio, the Mississippi, 
the Sault Ste. Marie, and the faraway shores 
of Lake Superior and the Bed River of the 
North. It was a wonderful career; a career 
that ended only in his seventy- eighth year, 
and with the fate of French rule in Canada. 

About 1714 he took to wife the half-breed 
daughter of a French trader named Chaubert 
or "Chabert," as Parkman spells it by a 
Seneca squaw. She bore to him a son, whom 
he named Chaubert Joncaire. This was the 
one who nearly forty years later com 
manded the fort at Little Niagara in 1759. 
This first wife died not long after giving birth 
to Chaubert Joncaire. The old captain 
placed the boy in the hands of the Eecollet 
Friars and gave him the best education 
French Canada could afford. In 1736, when 
fifty-four years old or thereabouts, Captain 
8 105 

Sir William Johnson 

Joncaire married Mile. Clauzun, half-breed 
daughter of the Chevalier de Clauzun by a 
Huron woman, said to have been the aunt of 
the famous half-breed Chief Anasthase, who 
commanded the Indians at the defeat of Brad- 

Mile. Clauzun bore to him a son, whom 
he named for her Jean Frangois Clauzun- 

We have given so much space to the his 
tory of Captain Joncaire because he was the 
only Frenchman whose influence among the 
Iroquois Sir William dreaded, and because his 
importance as a factor of French power in 
Canada for nearly sixty of its most thrilling 
years has been neglected by historians. 

He was a man of medium stature, iron con 
stitution, vehement temperament, and the 
most dauntless courage. His dislike of the 
Jesuits got him into trouble more than once, 
and they succeeded on one occasion in indu 
cing the Governor-General to try him by 
court-martial. But he was triumphantly ac 
quitted and lived to witness the confusion of 
his enemies. 1 

1 Stone (vol. i, pp. 29-32) speaks of Joncaire as "a Jesuit 
Brother." This is an error into which Stone was probably 
led by his knowledge of the fact that Joncaire was educated 
at the Jesuit Academy of Quebec. He was undoubtedly a 
zealous Roman Catholic, but never a member of the Order 


Braddock s Defeat 

But whether his estimate or that of Sir 
William Johnson be correct, the difference is 
not material to the subject under discussion. 

Turning now to the Indians under French 
influence or control, we find that they included 
all the tribes east of the Mississippi, north of 
the Ohio and north of the Great Lakes, and 
the New York frontier to the Atlantic sea 
board. The principal of these tribes were 
the St. Regis, Adirondacks, St. Francis, and 
Abenakis in Lower Canada and the extreme 
northern part of the present State of New 
York ; the powerful tribes of the Ottawas and 
the Hurons, who inhabited the rich country 
bounded by Lake Erie on the south, Lake 
Huron on the west, and the Ottawa River on 
the northeast; the Mississago or Michigan 
Indians ; the Mackinaws, or Mackinacs a 
small tribe and the Saginaws, who inhabited 
the northern part of what is now Indiana 
and the southern peninsula of Michigan; the 
Winnebagos and Menominees of Wisconsin, 
together with a branch of the powerful Chip- 
pewa tribe, who inhabited the northern penin 
sula of Michigan and Wisconsin in the neigh- 

of Jesuits. The academies of that sect educated many lay 
men or secular pupils. In fact, when Joncaire was a student 
there were no other institutions in Canada where the higher 
branches were taught. 


Sir William Johnson 

borhood of Fort Mackinaw or Mackinac; the 
Pottawottomis, Kickapoos, Sauks, and a 
mixed tribe then known as the Wabash Indi 
ans, inhabiting what is now eastern Illinois 
and southern Indiana. 

The total number of these Indians in direct 
communication or in close alliance with the 
French was estimated as high as 90,000 in 
1752. This, which was Joncaire s estimate, is 
perhaps an exaggeration, but for present pur 
poses it is not necessary to discuss that point. 
This estimate of 90,000 French Indians ap 
pears in St. Martin s History of New 
France, 1 an old work compiled during the 
French possession of the country, and pub 
lished in Paris a few years afterward, and it 
is given on the authority of Joncaire. Be 
sides the Indians above enumerated, there 
were at that time in Ohio the powerful tribes 
of the Shawnees, Miamis, and the Wyandots, 
besides a considerable clan of the Delawares, 
who had emigrated from Pennsylvania and 
settled at and about the forks of the Muskin- 

1 Father St. Martin may be termed the last of the great 
Jesuits of Canada. Born in Quebec, 1699, and educated as a 
Jesuit priest, he began mission work among the Hurons and 
Ottawas in 1721 or 1722. When Sir William Johnson visited 
Detroit in 1761, Father St. Martin was at the Huron mission 
near by, and the baronet paid him a visit, which will be further 
noticed in this work. 


Braddock s Defeat 

gum River and in the valleys of the Tuscara- 
was and Walhonding Rivers. 

For some reason the French had never 
taken the pains to put themselves en rapport 
with the Ohio Indians that they did with those 
farther west and north. We have never seen 
any explanation of this omission. There was 
apparently no reason for it, because at any 
time prior to the conquest of Canada the 
French were the only white people who had 
access to the Ohio Indians on any friendly 
terms whatsoever, and most of the trade of 
the Shawnees, Wyandots, and Miamis was 
carried on with the French, from whom they 
obtained guns, ammunition, cutlery, cooking 
utensils, blankets, etc., almost exclusively, at 
the French trading-posts of Presque Isle, 
Cuyahoga, Maumee, and Detroit. Prior to 
1748 no English or Colonial trader had 
crossed the Allegheny Mountains. In fact, 
prior to that time no Englishman or colonist 
had crossed the range except a few daring 
hunters like Gist, Grady, and Post and these 
had to carry their lives in their hands. 

But, apart from numerical considerations, 
apart from the genius of the French in ingra 
tiating themselves into the good graces of the 
Indians, apart from the tremendous leverage 
of the clerical power exercised by the Jesuit 

Sir William Johnson 

Fathers, and apart from the ineptness of the 
English colonists in dealing with the Indians, 
there was still another factor of organic dif 
ference between the English and French sys 
tems on this continent, which was, perhaps, 
more important than all the others at least 
it was a factor which gave a quick mobility 
and a constant vitality to the French power 
that were totally wanting in the English Colo 
nial system. The thirteen English colonies, 
at the beginning of the old French war, were 
all autonomous, semi-independent, self-gov 
erning commonwealths. Each had its gov 
ernor, its council or assembly elected by the 
people, and everything that it did or that was 
done in its name must be the subject of dis 
cussion and legislation. Then, among the 
several colonies also was a good deal of bick 
ering, of jealousy, and in some cases vexa 
tious disputes about boundaries and jurisdic 
tions leading up to the very threshold of inter 
necine war. For these reasons the English 
colonies were indolent and procrastinating in 
the conception of any operations that required 
united action, and even when the difficulties 
of conception and design had been overcome, 
they were, if possible, slower in execution. 

On the other hand, the French regime in 
Canada was a solid, compact body. There 

Braddock s Defeat 

was no representative government nor the 
semblance of one. The Governor-General at 
Quebec was within his domain a monarch as 
absolute as the Bourbon king at Versailles. 
His word was law and his orders gospel. 
Every able-bodied Frenchman in Canada was 
at all times a soldier in esse or in posse. He 
was constantly enrolled in what was termed 
the Canadian militia, 1 and his term of liability 

1 Garneau, in his Histoire du Canada, quotes Montcalm 
as saying: "The Canadian militia are better soldiers than 
the American provincials, man for man. But they are too 
few ; and when they are once in the field there is no reserve 
from which to recruit their ranks." This remark is worth 
consideration. The French Canadian is always brave. He is 
hardy and can live on a diet that would starve an American. 
He is inured to all possible rigors of climate. The military 
system that prevailed under French rule in Canada made him 
at least a half -regular soldier all the time. In war every com 
pany commander of Canadian militia was a French regular 
officer. The "habitans" could hold only subaltern rank. 
Every company had a French regular drill-sergeant. Their 
discipline and regulations in every respect were those of the 
regular troops. They never mutinied or deserted and seldom 
complained; if they did their shrift was short. They were 
the soldiers of a despotic government and they knew it. 

On the other hand the American Provincial troops were 
volunteers, freemen ; and they carried a good deal of their 
democracy into the field with them. While they marched and 
fought well and endured marvelous fatigues and privations 
at times, they were always prompt to find fault if any was to 
be found. It was impossible to bring them up or down to 
the regular standard of discipline. More than one British 
officer who ordered a provincial soldier to be flogged fell with 


Sir William Johnson 

to service was from the age of sixteen years 
anywhere to decrepitude. Moreover, the 
male sex largely predominated in the white 
population of Canada, the proportion being, 
in the average for the 160 years between the 
advent of Samuel Champlain and the down 
fall of French power in 1760, as two to one. 

In a word, French Canada may be said to 
have been under perpetual martial law. All 
the conceptions and designs were secretly 
planned in the palace of the Governor-Gen 
eral at Quebec. All the orders were issued 
without publicity, and such was the prevailing 
discipline in all grades of society and through 
out the local military force, that the execution 
of these plans and designs was always as 
swift as their consideration had been secret. 
It does not seem that any contrast of systems 
could be more perfectly antipodal than this, 
or that any comparison of methods could 
exhibit wider extremes. 

Thus far we have dealt only with the white 
people and the Indians proper, but in Canada 
there was another element which did not exist 

a bullet in his back at the next battle or skirmish. From the 
purely disciplinary point of view there is every reason to agree 
with the sentiment that Garneau quotes from Montcalm. But 
judging by results, wherever the Canadian militia and the 
American provincials came together, neither one supported 
by regulars, history does not verify Montcalm s theory. 


Braddock s Defeat 

to any extent in the English colonies. That 
was the element of the half-breeds. At the 
time when the Marquis Duquesne became 
Governor-General, the half-breed or mixed- 
race population of French Canada was nearly 
as numerous as the white race itself. These 
half-breeds, the offspring of French traders 
and soldiers by Indian women, were scattered 
through every tribe. They were to be found 
in every Indian village. They were the lead 
ing race in hunting and trapping. They were 
the common carriers of supplies and of arti 
cles of trade and barter all over the French 
Northwest. They were a brave, active, inde 
fatigable, and intelligent race. In peace, they 
carried the name and the influence of France 
to the remotest Indian tribes; in war, they 
were, under the peculiar conditions that pre 
vailed, more formidable in combat than the 
French regulars themselves, and more effec 
tive than the full-blood Indians, combining, as 
they did, the disciplinary aptitude of the one 
with the subtle woodcraft of the other. As 
a rule, in the campaigns they were not 
grouped in military bodies of their own or by 
themselves, but were distributed among the 
Indians, whom they instructed by their supe 
rior knowledge and encouraged by their un 
failing example. It is hardly too much to say 

Sir William Johnson 

that at the period under discussion the race 
of French Canadian half-breeds formed the 
most important factor of the military strength 
of France in North America. Under such 
conditions, France and England, with their 
respective American colonies, began about the 
end of 1754 their final struggle for absolute 
supremacy on this continent. 

The hope of the American colonists that 
the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle would inaugu 
rate another long peace, like that which inter 
vened between the end of Queen Anne s War 
in 1714 and the beginning of King George s 
in 1743, had proved illusory. The ink was 
hardly dry on the treaty of 1748 when the 
French began measures for carrying out a 
plan long cherished. This plan contemplated 
nothing less than the seizure of all the country 
west of the Alleghenies, the "hinterland," as 
modern diplomatists say, of the English colo 
nies. The English had always nominally 
claimed this back country south of the Great 
Lakes and parallel with the Atlantic front of 
their colonies, to the banks of the Mississippi. 
But they had never made the slightest effort 
to settle it, to open trade within its borders, or 
even to explore it. 

The French, on the contrary, had explored 
it nearly a hundred years before the period of 

Braddock s Defeat 

which we now write (1754). They had estab 
lished numerous trading-posts and a few 
small villages, such as Old Vincennes within 
the present State of Indiana, Kaskaskia in 
Illinois, and St. Charles and St. Genevieve in 
Missouri. They had established several 
routes through this region between Canada 
and their settlements at the mouth of the Mis 
sissippi, now Louisiana. One of these routes 
was from the head of Lake Michigan to the 
Illinois River, and thence down that stream 
and the Mississippi to New Orleans. An 
other was up the Maumee to its head waters, 
thence by portage to the head waters of the 
Wabash, and so on down. Another was from 
their trading-post at Cuyahoga to the head 
waters of the Miami, thence down that stream 
to the Ohio. In short, their traders, priests, 
and voyageurs had, for more than half a cen 
tury, permeated the region, forming alliances 
with the Indian tribes, converting many of 
them to the Catholic faith, marrying their 
women, supplying them with firearms and 
ammunition, and practising, in short, all the 
arts of French colonization or rather, of 
French occupation. 

In any struggle that might occur between 
France and England for the actual possession 
and control of this vast territory, it is there- 

Sir William Johnson 

fore apparent that the French must have a 
very great initial advantage. And this ad 
vantage was enhanced by the fact that the 
French, from their places of arms in Canada, 
could communicate with all parts of the region 
by water, or through a level and easily trav 
ersed country. The English, on the other 
hand, could reach it only by long marches 
over difficult mountains, where they would 
have to cut their roads as they advanced, and 
where their columns and their supply-trains 
would be beset at every step by the lurking 
savage allies of the French. In the first part 
of his reign Louis XV neglected the French 
colonies in America. His great-grandfather, 
Louis XIV, throughout his long reign, made 
them the objects of his especial solicitude. 
But the neglect and, to some extent, the op 
pressive regulations of trade and immigra 
tion in the first thirty years of the reign of 
Louis XV had seriously weakened the French 
power in Canada. Moreover, Louis XV had 
made Canada a sort of penal colony ; not, in 
deed, for common criminals, but a place of 
exile for officers who fought duels or failed to 
pay their debts, for broken-down noblemen; 
in short, for all classes of genteel offenders 
not quite bad enough for the Bastile. 

Among other things, this had caused an 

Braddock s Defeat 

actual decrease of the white population. 
When Louis XIV died, in 1715, there were at 
least 30,000 white men in Canada; whereas, 
when the Marquis Duquesne assumed the 
Governor-Generalship, he reported only 22,- 
000. Prior to Duquesne all the Governors- 
General during the reign of Louis XV had 
been mere creatures of the court, possessing 
neither aptitude nor ambition for the per 
formance of their duties, or the extension of 
French power and influence. The appoint 
ment of Duquesne itself was a change of pol 
icy, from the halting, the indecisive, and the 
weak to the aggressive, the determined, and 
the strong. This change of policy was due 
mainly, if not wholly, to the influence of Ma 
dame de Pompadour, who, since her alliance 
with Louis, in 1745, had never ceased her 
efforts to arouse his interest in the vast pos 
sessions of France in the New World, and at 
last her eloquence and tact had brought the 
luxurious and careless monarch to something 
like a sense of his obligations. 

Simultaneously with the selection of the 
Marquis Duquesne to succeed M. de la Galis- 
soniere as Governor-General, Louis XV 
began quietly to prepare for another war. 
All ships of war on the stocks at Toulon, 
Brest, TOrient, Rochefort, and La Eochelle 

Sir William Johnson 

were ordered to be pushed to completion at 
the earliest date. Vessels in need of repair 
were ordered to be thoroughly overhauled, 
and all defects made good. Twelve thousand 
additional seamen and marines were ordered 
to be recruited for the fleet. All the military 
and naval arsenals of the country were filled 
with munitions. The regular regiments were 
ordered to be recruited up to the maximum 
establishment. Most significant of all, ten 
regiments of regulars, comprising some of the 
oldest and most famous corps d? elite in the 
French army, were ordered to be in readiness 
for service beyond the seas. Of these, seven 
were intended for Canada and three for the 
East Indies. 

Those destined for Canada were the regi 
ments of Artois, of Beam, of Languedoc, of 
Guienne, of Burgundy, of Picardy, and the 
famous Regiment de la Eeine. Under the 
system of organization prevailing in the 
French army at that time, the full war 
strength of an infantry regiment of the 
line was twelve companies of 103 of all 
ranks each, with eight field and staff offi 
cers, or a total of 1,244 to the regiment. But 
when sent on foreign service two companies 
were left at home to form a depot for re 
cruiting and training purposes, so that the 

Braddock s Defeat 

actual strength in the field would be a maxi 
mum of 1,038. In addition to these infantry 
regiments, Louis ordered four companies 
(batteries) of light artillery and a siege- 
train to be in readiness for Canadian service. 
The batteries were of six guns each (light 
8-pounders or howitzers) and 140 men. 

The siege-train had twelve heavy guns (12- 
and 18-pounders) and 280 heavy artillerists. 
At first Walsh s regiment of the Irish Brigade 
the selfsame men who, seven years before, 
had stemmed the English tide and turned the 
fortunes of the day at Fontenoy was in 
cluded in the Canadian contingent. But for 
some reason, they were sent to reenforce La 
Bourdonnais and Lally at Pondicherry in the 
East Indies. However, the total strength of 
the Canadian reenforcement was about 7,500, 
and it was made up of the best troops in the 
French regular army. 

The sending of French regular regiments 
of territorial titles to Canada or anywhere 
beyond seas was itself a remarkable innova 
tion. Hitherto the French regulars employed 
in Canada had been regiments specially re 
cruited for colonial service. They were, in 
fact, organized in a manner quite similar to 
the " Foreign Legion " of our times. They 
were, of course, regular troops in every sense ; 

Sir William Johnson 

borne on the army list under the head of 
"Corps de la Marine et des Colonies," and 
their officers held equivalent and interchange 
able rank with the line regiments of territo 
rial title. 

These preparations began in 1752. Du- 
quesne was appointed to succeed la Gallisson- 
iere in 1751, and went immediately to Can 
ada. 1 But on arriving there, he requested the 
latter to hold the office a few months in order 
that he (Duquesne) might have opportunity 
to make a personal survey of the frontiers and 
of the general situation incognito. Early in 
1752 Duquesne, accompanied only by Captain 
Joncaire, Captain Beaujeu (who subsequently 
commanded the French and Indians at the de 
feat of Braddock), together with half a dozen 
half-breed trailers and hunters, journeyed 
from Presque Isle (now Erie, Pa.) to the 
junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela 

1 Madame d Hausset says that Duquesne s instructions 
were in Madame de Pompadour s handwriting, and all that 
the king had to do with them was to sign his name. She also 
says that when Duquesne was leaving Versailles, de Pompa 
dour sent for him and gave him a magnificent seal ring, the 
seal of which was cut in an immense ruby. "Now," she said, 
"Monsieur le Marquis, I want you to put that seal on arti 
cles of capitulation for Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. 
France must be supreme in the New World and you must 
make her so." It would appear that the gracious madame 
gave the gallant marquis a large contract. 


Braddock s Defeat 

Elvers, and indicated the spot where the fort 
afterward named for him should be built. 

There is nothing in history to show that 
the English Government or any of the colonial 
governments had adequate knowledge of these 
tremendous preparations ; and their first in 
timation of the French scheme was in the 
fall of 1753, when Captain Joncaire estab 
lished a fort at Venango, the confluence of 
French Creek with the Allegheny River. This 
was the third in a chain of posts hugging the 
western slope of the Allegheny Mountains, 
and designed by Duquesne to cut the English 
off from the Ohio Valley. The first of the 
posts was Presque Isle, the second Fort Le 
Boeuf, thirteen miles south of the former, and 
at the head of canoe navigation on French 
Creek ; Venango, the third ; and they were cal 
culated to serve as intermediate stations be 
tween Lake Erie and the grand fortress to be 
built at the head of the Ohio. 

In our time it is difficult to believe that 
such secrecy with regard to such portentous 
movements could be maintained. Nowadays 
every nation knows all about every other 
nation s army, its navy, and its movements 
with either or both. But in those days, under 
the Bourbon rule in France, absolute secrecy 
was possible. No outsider could get within 
9 121 

Sir William Johnson 

gunshot of a French dockyard or arsenal. 
Men employed in them were under oath not to 
divulge anything. If they did divulge, it was 
rated high treason, and punishable by death. 
Thus it happened that the French were able 
to penetrate far into territory claimed by the 
British, establish lines of communication, and 
build substantial forts without the English 
knowing anything about it, and all this in a 
time of profound peace. 

At last the British Government awoke to 
the fact that things were going wrong in the 
American colonies. Tidings of the disasters 
on the Virgina frontier of Trent s surrender 
of the fort at the head of the Ohio, and of 
Washington s capitulation at Fort Necessity 
reached England in August, 1754. These 
tidings were so bad that they infused a spasm 
of energy into even the ridiculous ministry of 
the absurd Duke of Newcastle. But, after all, 
it was not the Duke of Newcastle who really 
acted. At that time the Captain-General and 
commander-in-chief of the British army was 
William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. He 
had the additional advantage of being the 
king s favorite son. And he was unquestion 
ably the best soldier if not the only one 
that the House of Hanover has produced. 
Cumberland did not wait upon the moods and 

Braddock s Defeat 

tenses of the fat-witted Prime Minister. As 
Captain-General, he had control of military 
affairs in the colonies as well as in England in 
time of war and this was certainly such a 

Therefore, without consulting the ministry 
or any one else unless, perhaps, his father, 
the king Cumberland ordered the Forty- 
fourth Regiment of Foot, Colonel Sir Peter 
Halket, and the Forty-eighth Regiment, Col 
onel Thomas Dunbar, to be put in instant 
readiness for service in the American colonies. 
He also sent letters of service in the king s 
name to General Sir William Pepperell and 
Colonel William Shirley then Governor of 
Massachusetts authorizing and directing 
them to raise two regiments of infantry in the 
colonies, to be known as Royal Provincial or 
Royal American regiments, to be enrolled in 
the British regular army list, and to be paid 
and provided for by the king the same as any 
other British regulars. These orders bore 
date of September 19, 1754 less than four 
weeks after the news of the disastrous result 
of Washington s campaign reached London. 

Other provisions were made by the Duke 
of Cumberland for the employment of Pro 
vincial troops, and of such Indians as might 
adhere to the English cause. On the whole, 

Sir William Johnson 

Cumberland calculated that his scheme would 
serve to put in the field in the American colo 
nies a force of at least 14,000 men by the open 
ing of spring in 1755, and of this force he in 
tended including the small garrisons already 
in the colonies that about 4,000 should be 
British regulars. It should be remarked at 
this point that the numerical strength of the 
British regular army in 1754 was at its lowest 
ebb. After the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle 
which the French always called a truce the 
silly Duke of Newcastle imagined that the 
millennium had come, and, if he could have 
had his way, would probably have disbanded 
the British army altogether. 

Be this as it may, a man of different mold 
was directing this particular affair. With 
out going into details, the Duke of Cum 
berland selected Major-General Sir Edward 
Braddock to command the British troops des 
tined for the American colonies, and at the 
same time made him commander-in-chief of 
all the British forces in North America regu 
lar, Provincial, and Indian. After arranging 
for transportation of his troops, ordnance, 
and supplies, Braddock himself, with his staff, 
sailed from the Downs in the famous old Cen 
turion which had been Anson s flagship in 
that wonderful cruise round the world a dec- 

Braddock s Defeat 

ade before on the 21st of December, 1754, 
and reached Hampton Roads after a most 
tempestuous passage, the 20th of February, 
1755. The convoy of transports, with the 
troops, ordnance stores, and general supplies, 
sailed from Cork the 14th of January, 1755, 
were dispersed at sea, and, as they arrived 
from day to day in the Chesapeake, were 
worked up the Potomac to Alexandria, where 
the last of them, the Severn, with four com 
panies of the Forty-eighth Dunbar s regi 
ment on board, arrived the 15th of March. 

Detailed description of Braddock s cam 
paign would be foreign to the scope of this lit 
tle book. But on his arrival in this country 
he did some things in his capacity as com- 
mander-in-chief which do more credit to his 
memory than does the battle in which he fell. 
Chief among these things was the appoint 
ment of Sir William Johnson, in the name and 
by authority of the king, to be General Super 
intendent of Indian Affairs for the whole of 
British North America. This appointment 
was made in March, 1755, less than a month 
after General Braddock s arrival in Hampton 

The story of Braddock s fatal expedition 
is known to most well-read American school 
boys. They know it, not because it was Brad- 

Sir William Johnson 

dock s expedition or Braddock s defeat, but 
because the name and fame of George Wash 
ington are intimately associated with it. No 
attempt to describe it will be made here. 
Suffice to say that on the 10th of June, 1755, 
Braddock s army left Fort Cumberland 2,150 
strong, as stated in the journal of Captain 
Orme, of the general s staff. This force con 
sisted of 1,400 British regulars, about 500 
Virginia Provincials, and a miscellaneous 
force of 250 more, composed of three inde 
pendent companies, in the king s pay, each 
about 60 strong; a small troop of Provincial 
Light Horse from Virginia about 30 men 
10 guides, and 30 sailors from the Centurion, 
sent along to help handle the artillery of the 
expedition. It was a tedious march, during 
which not more than ten miles a day was 
traversed, by reason of the delay in making a 
road practicable for the wagon-train and the 
heavier arms. 

Braddock, fretted by these delays, finally, 
by the advice of Sir Peter Halket, Captain 
Orme, and his special Provincial aide-de 
camp, Major George Washington, deter 
mined to leave the heavy baggage and guns 
behind with a guard of 700 men under 
Colonel Dunbar, and to push forward, by 
forced marches, with a column in light march- 

Braddock s Defeat 

ing order, composed of 1,000 British regulars 
and 400 Virginia Provincials. This column 
started the 19th of June, taking with it eight 
of the lightest guns with their tumbrils ; the 
provisions twenty days rations being car 
ried on packhorses. The rest, so far as this 
little volume has space to deal with the sub 
ject, is soon told. On the 9th of July, Brad- 
dock, with his column of 1,400, crossed the 
Monongahela a few miles above its conflu 
ence with the Allegheny forming the Ohio 

Here the British column fell into an am 
buscade of French and Indians under Captain 
Beaujeu of the French regular army, and in 
less than an hour was hopelessly defeated, 
utterly routed, and almost annihilated. Eng 
lish historians have described it as the most 
complete disaster that ever befell a British 
force. General Braddock and all the field- 
officers present were either killed or wounded. 
The total loss out of 1,460 officers and men 
was 456 killed outright or mortally wounded, 
and 521 wounded, many of whom were so 
disabled that they fell that night or the next 
day under the tomahawks of the pursuing 
savages. Of the total force of 1,460, only 
483 escaped fit for duty and many of these 
received slight wounds. The Virginia Pro- 

Sir William Johnson 

vincials did their best to cover the retreat, but 
they, too, were overwhelmed. 

When the wreck of Braddock s army 
reached the reserve under Colonel Dunbar, 
the latter partook of their panic, and a dis 
graceful flight back to Fort Cumberland en 
sued, baggage, supplies, cannon, and every 
thing else that could impede flight being 
abandoned. It was the greatest defeat ever 
suffered by the whites in frontier warfare 
greater even than St. Clair s and the most 
wonderful victory ever won by the Indians. 
We have noted that Braddock s force was 
1,460 of all ranks. The force of French and 
Indians that destroyed it has been variously 
estimated. Doubtless the most accurate 
statement is that of Captain Joncaire, who 
organized the Indian part of the force, and 
who would have commanded in the battle but 
for an accident that happened to him early in 
the morning of the day on which it occurred. 

Just after daylight he mounted his pony 
and was riding at top speed through a new 
clearing full of logs and stumps, when the 
pony stumbled, throwing the captain over his 
head. The result was a dislocated left shoul 
der and severe contusions in the head. He 
was carried to the fort unconscious, and re 
mained in that condition several hours being, 

Braddock s Defeat 

in fact, roused from his stupor by the trium 
phant yells of his Indians returning from 
their field of victory. He says in his journal 
that the force actually in contact with Brad- 
dock s army was composed of 600 Indians, 20 
cadets (half-breed boys under training for 
military service), and 16 white Frenchmen, 
of whom 7 were regular officers a total of 

The 600 Indians, he says, represented as 
many as ten tribes, it having been his policy 
in organizing the force to take a small num 
ber of picked warriors from each tribe, partly 
with a view to stimulate rivalry, and partly to 
identify as many different tribes as possible 
with the French cause. He gives a list em 
bodying an exact statement of the number 
present from each tribe, and this list includes 
80 Senecas and 18 Cayugas ; so that one-sixth 
of the Indians who defeated Braddock be 
longed to the traditional "friends of the Eng 
lish," the Iroquois! The principal chief and 
commander of all the Indians was the cele 
brated Huron half-breed Anasthose, who was 
said to be a grandson of Count de Fronte- 
nac. The second-in-command was Pontiac, 
then a young war-chief of the Ottawas. The 
total loss of the French and Indians in 
Braddock s defeat was 3 white men (includ- 

Sir William Johnson 

ing Captain Beaujeu) killed and 2 wounded; 
2 cadets wounded; 7 Indians killed and 17 
wounded a total of 10 killed and 21 wounded. 

Winthrop Sargent, in his History of Brad- 
dock s Expedition, says that the force under 
Captain Beaujeu consisted of "600 Indians, 
146 Canadian militia, 72 French regulars, and 
20 cadets total, 838." But Joncaire says 
that all but 16 of the French regulars and 
all the Canadian militia were retained at the 
fort by Captain Contrecoeur "who," he 
says, rather sardonically, "did not imagine 
that success was possible, and was among the 
last to realize the magnitude and glory of the 
victory. He had made all arrangements for 
a capitulation with the honors of war ! " 

Perhaps Joncaire was prejudiced against 
Contrecoeur. The latter was only a captain 
of infantry of the line, and the 72 French 
regulars at Fort Duquesne were simply his 
own company of the regiment of Languedoc. 
Joncaire had long held the commission, pay, 
and allowances of a "First Captain of Marine 
Infantry " in the regular army of France, and 
was borne on the "extra " or "special-service 
list " of his regiment that of Toulon. A 
"First Captain of Marine Infantry " was, by 
title, only a captain, but the real rank was 
equivalent to that of major in the British 

Braddock s Defeat 

service. He therefore ranked both Contre- 
coeur and St. Pierre, who were only captains 
of infantry of the line. But, as he had never 
actually served with his regiment, and as his 
rank was honorary rather than substantive, 
they were always disputing his precedence 
over them. However, at the time of Brad- 
dock s defeat, Joncaire was recognized at 
" Government House " in Quebec as the com 
mander of the French and Indian forces in 
the Ohio Valley. He was over seventy years 
old at the time of the accident above related, 
and he never again had much use of his left 
arm. He never attempted field service after 
the Braddock campaign. 1 

1 During the rest of the war Captain Joncaire made his 
headquarters most of the time at Fort Niagara, where he was 
captured in 1759 when that stronghold surrendered to Sir 
William Johnson s army. In his " list of prisoners" Sir Will 
iam describes him as "captain of marines," and in the same 
list appears the name of his half-breed son, "Chabeare" 
(Chaubert) Joncaire, who commanded a company of half-breed 
rangers. He was sent to England with the other captured 
officers, and upon his release in 1762 returned to Canada. He 
settled on his farm near St. Catharines, where he died in 
1775, over ninety years old. 

Sir William went to Niagara in 1766 to hold a council with 
delegates of the Northwestern Indians who had recently been 
engaged in Pontiac s war and now wanted to make peace. It 
may be mentioned as a curious fact that these Indians, who 
all belonged either to the Algonquin or the Ojibway (Chip- 
pewa) grand divisions of the Indian race, could not be per- 


Sir William Johnson 

Unquestionably the general trend of pub 
lic opinion in this country has, for nearly a 
century and a half, been unfavorable to Gen 
eral Braddock, and prejudiced toward his 
memory. We have neither time nor space 
here to debate the question whether public 
opinion in this instance is right or wrong, 
but whatever his faults may have been, Brad- 
dock lacked neither breadth of perception, 
boldness of design, nor bravery in execution. 
It is worth while to say here that George 
Washington, who was his aide-de-camp, and 
stood by him when he breathed his last, never, 
in all his writings or his conversations, had 

suaded to come to Johnson Hall because that would compel 
them to pass through the Iroquois tribes, their hereditary 
foes. Therefore Sir William had to meet them at Niagara. 
His journal during this conference contains the following 
entry : 

"... Had the pleasure of a visit from the venerable 
Captain Joncaire, now past seventy (eighty), but hale and 
hearty and a most loyal subject of our king. We had a long 
talk in Iroquois, as I knew no French and he no English. 
He asked me to give his two sons, Chabeare (Chaubert) 
and Jean Francois (Clauzun), something to do in our Indian 
service. I found them to be quarter-breeds, their mother 
having been a half-breed. Discovering that they were very 
capable fellows and loyal, I appointed one of them, Jean 
Francois, interpreter and assistant agent at St. Mary s [Sault 
Ste. Marie], and Chabeare in the same capacity at our new 
post of Green Bay among the Menominees. They were all 
very grateful and declared their content with British rule." 


Braddock s Defeat 

anything but the kindest words to say of Ed 
ward Braddock. He was undoubtedly a mar 
tinet, rough in manner, and, perhaps, severe 
if not cruel in his methods of discipline, but 
he was nevertheless a thoroughbred soldier 
and a skilful tactician, within the teachings of 
the school in which he had been trained, and 
a general strategist of far more than ordi 
nary ability. 

After his arrival in this country he lost 
no time. Upon reaching Hampton Roads, 
almost his first act was to summon a council 
of Colonial governors to meet him at Alex 
andria, Virginia. The governors who ac 
cepted the invitation and attended this coun 
cil were those of Massachusetts, New York, 
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. 
The other colonies, except South Carolina and 
Georgia, which took no part in the conference, 
were represented by their lieutenant-govern 
ors. Sir William Johnson was present at this 
conference by special invitation. He and 
Benjamin Franklin were the only members of 
it who were not governors or lieutenant-gov 
ernors of colonies. At this conference Gen 
eral Braddock outlined the strategy which he 
had planned for his campaign at large. He 
proposed four expeditions. One of these was 
to be carried out in Nova Scotia under the 

Sir William Johnson 

governor of that province Lawrence with 
the object of finally expelling the French from 
that peninsula, but it had no direct connection 
with the other three projects, and need not be 
considered here. 

The main projects were: first, an expedi 
tion to be commanded by Braddock himself 
for the reduction of Fort Duquesne and ex 
pulsion of the French from the Ohio Valley ; 
second, an expedition to be commanded by 
Governor Shirley of Massachusetts for the 
reduction of Fort Niagara, with the ultimate 
object of cutting French communication be 
tween Lake Ontario and the upper lakes ; the 
third was an expedition for the reduction of 
Crown Point, then the southernmost fortress 
of the French on the New York frontier. As 
commander of this last-mentioned expedition 
he named Sir William Johnson, at the same 
time appointing him, as has already been re 
marked, General Superintendent of Indian 
Affairs for the whole of British North Amer 
ica in the name of the king. The scope of this 
work, as already intimated, does not admit 
discussion of the expeditions assigned to 
Braddock himself, Shirley, or Governor Law 
rence of Nova Scotia, but we may find space 
for some detail of Sir William Johnson s ex 
pedition against Crown Point. 

Braddock s Defeat 

As soon as the conference at Alexandria 
was over, Johnson returned as rapidly as he 
could to the Mohawk Valley, and immediately 
summoned a conference of Iroquois chiefs to 
meet him at Mount Johnson. With this mes 
senger he sent a belt of wampum to each 
chief, informing him of the appointment he 
had received as the direct royal superintend 
ent of all the North American Indians, which 
was a very considerable promotion over the 
commission he had recently held as superin 
tendent of the Iroquois only. Upon receipt 
of this information the Indians did not need 
urging. The news, says Stone, that their 
brother Warragh-i-ya-gey had again been 
raised up to power among them, spread like 
wildfire. Within ten days from the date of 
his call for this conference, over 1,000 Indians 
assembled at Mount Johnson. So unprece 
dented and unexpected was the number pres- 
sent by far the largest assemblage of Indi 
ans ever before convened that Sir William 
Johnson was altogether taken by surprise, 
and his food-supply completely overwhelmed. 
He had to call in the assistance of a large num 
ber of his most prosperous neighbors for 
fifteen or twenty miles up and down the 
Mohawk Valley to help him out in this re 
spect. On the 21st of June he opened the 

Sir William Johnson 

council by a speech, in which he informed the 
Indians that he had been delegated to com 
mand a certain expedition against a certain 
important fortress of the enemy, that the 
forces to be placed at his disposal were to be 
Provincial troops from Massachusetts, New 
Hampshire, Connecticut, and New York, and 
that it was expected that about one thousand 
picked warriors from the Six Nations should 
form part of his force, to be commanded by 
the venerable chief sachem of the Mohawks 
and senior chief of all the Iroquois Hen- 
drick. The usual interchange of oratory then 
took place, after which the Indians departed 
for their respective castles and villages, full 
of enthusiasm and promising to place a thou 
sand warriors at his disposal within six weeks 
or two months. So well satisfied with the 
results of this council was Sir William that 
he wrote to the Duke of Cumberland shortly 
after that "there are very few if any among 
the whole Iroquois Confederacy who, in the 
present dispute between the French and our 
Crown, do not sincerely wish us success, and 
are disposed to assist our arms." 

Sir William now proceeded energetically 
to organize his expedition. According to the 
original plan, the force employed was to con 
sist of 2,500 Provincial troops from Massa- 

Braddock s Defeat 

chusetts ? New Hampshire, and Connecticut; 
1,000 from New York, and 1,000 Indians 
4,500 altogether. Before the end of July all 
the forces destined for the reduction of 
Crown Point had assembled under Sir Will 
iam s command at Albany. The contingents 
of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York 
were a little in excess of the required number. 
New Hampshire sent 500 men organized in 
seven companies under command of Colonel 
Joshua A. Blanchard. The Massachusetts 
and Connecticut troops were commanded by 
Colonel Phineas Lyman. The only disap 
pointment he experienced was that a little 
less than 600 Indians responded to the call, 
instead of the thousand expected. This, 
however, was because the quota of Senecas, 
which according to the population of the re 
spective tribes had been fixed at 400, was 
dilatory, and, in fact, was not mobilized in 
time to take any active part in the campaign. 
This was due partly to the lingering seeds of 
disaffection which had been sown by the 
French emissaries among the Senecas during 
the past three years, but mainly to the fact 
that just at the time when Hi-o-ka-to and Cap 
tain Montour were assembling their warriors 
at the Falls of the Genesee say about the 
middle of July they received the stunning 
10 137 

Sir William Johnson 

and utterly demoralizing news of Braddock s 
defeat, which had occurred the 9th of that 

These tidings threw the whole of the Sen 
eca Nation into a ferment of doubt and hesi 
tancy, which all the eloquence of Montour and 
all the stalwart bullying of Hi-o-ka-to were 
powerless to overcome. All they could do 
was to send runners to Sir William, inform 
ing him of the state of affairs. Montour 
persuaded perhaps twenty-five or thirty Sen 
eca warriors to accompany him, and joined 
Johnson s forces at Saratoga, and they were 
the only Senecas engaged in the expedition. 
Hi-o-ka-to stayed behind, declaring his de 
termination to bring the allotted contingent of 
Senecas along if, as he expressed it, he "had 
to drag every mother s son of them by the 
scalp-lock ! " On the 6th of August Sir Will 
iam decided not to wait any longer for the 
Seneca contingent, and sent Colonel Lyman 
forward with the New York and Massachu 
setts troops to erect a fort on the bank of 
the Hudson Eiver at the south end of the 
great portage between that river and Lake 
George, to which he gave the name of Fort 
Edward. At this time an unfortunate con 
troversy arose between Sir William and Gov 
ernor Shirley, growing out of the Govern- 

Braddock s Defeat 

or s pique at what he considered some lack 
of suitable personal attention toward him 
on Johnson s part. This controversy re 
sulted in considerable correspondence of a 
more or less acrimonious character, which 
our present limits of space preclude us 
from reproducing. Suffice to say in general 
terms that the whole affair grew out of the 
personal vanity of Governor Shirley brought, 
as it was, in contact with Sir William s mat 
ter-of-fact, businesslike way of transacting 

On the 8th of August Sir William himself 
set out from Albany with the stores, baggage- 
train, and artillery and the rest of the troops, 
including four companies of the New York 
regiment, which, coming from Dutches s and 
Ulster counties down the river, were a little 
behind those raised in Albany County. This 
force was accompanied by the Chief Hendrick 
with a hundred and fifty Mohawk warriors, 
among whom was Joseph Brant, then a mere 
boy of thirteen years, but, notwithstanding 
his extreme youth, able to carry a light gun 
(a small fowling-piece presented to him by 
Sir William) that he had, and serving in the 

Sir William arrived at Fort Edward on 
the 14th of August, where he was joined by 

Sir William Johnson 

250 more Indians, making the total number 
about 400; and afterward 120 more came in 
by small squads. The New England and New 
York troops were full of ardor and impatient 
of delay. The news of Braddock s defeat had 
not only not disheartened them, but had made 
them all the more anxious to be led against 
Crown Point. They considered this expedi 
tion a measure for the defense of their fire 
sides. One of the Provincial officers, belong 
ing to the Massachusetts contingent, Major 
Thomas Williams, wrote a letter to his wife, 
in which he said, among other things: "I en 
deavor to keep myself calm and quiet under 
our slow progress, and await God s time, but 
the advance seems very slow." Colonel 
Lyman was equally restive under the delay. 
Indeed, a day or two before Sir William s 
arrival at Fort Edward, he had set 300 of his 
men to work to cut a road across the hills to 
Fort Ann, supposing that the army would 
proceed against Crown Point by way of Wood 
Creek and the head of Lake Champlain. 

Sir William, on his arrival, called a coun 
cil of war to decide upon the best route, and 
the result of this council was that Colonel 
Lyman s movement was countermanded. A 
scouting party of forty soldiers, under Cap 
tain John Stark, with thirty Indians, was then 

Braddock s Defeat 

sent out to reconnoiter the whole country in 
the vicinity of Lake George. When these 
scouts returned another council of war was 
held on the 22d of August, in which the offi 
cers, upon hearing their report, unanimously 
decided that the Lake George route appeared 
to them the most eligible, and that it ought 
to be immediately adopted as the plan of cam 
paign. In a previous chapter we have men 
tioned that about the close of King George s 
War, seven years before, Sir William had 
made a road from the head of Lake George to 
Fort Edward or Glens Falls, but this road 
had been neglected. Many trees had fallen 
across it, and it had to be cleared out. So 
2,000 men were sent forward to restore this 
road, with orders also to erect at the head of 
the lake a fort, with suitable buildings in 
which to store arms and other munitions of 
war when they should arrive. 

Then, leaving Colonel Lyman to await 
the rest of the troops, and the New Hamp 
shire Provincials to complete and garrison 
the fort, Sir William set out on the 26th of 
August with 3,400 men for the lake a dis 
tance of about fifteen miles and reached it 
at dusk on the 28th. After some reconnoiter- 
ing he selected on the 29th a position for his 
camp which was on a bluff shore of the lake, 

Sir William Johnson 

flanked at both ends by thickly wooded 
swamps where small creeks emptied in. The 
French had always called this lake "St. Sac 
rament," and Sir William now solemnly 
changed it to Lake George, "not only, 7 as he 
said, "in honor of His Majesty the King, but 
to assure his undoubted dominion here." 
Although Lake George had been used for 
many years as a means of communication, 
both for warlike and commercial purposes, 
between Canada and Albany, yet its shores 
were still a primeval forest, where no house 
had ever been built or a spot of land cleared. 
The troops immediately set about clearing a 
place for a camp capable of sheltering 5,000 
men, and providing housing for their military 

Meanwhile, Colonel Lyman, as soon as all 
the dilatory troops arrived, left at Fort 
Edward a garrison of 250 Connecticut Pro 
vincials and five companies of the New York 
regiment, 1 and with the rest of his force joined 
the camp at Lake George on September 3d, 
bringing with him all the heavy artillery. 

1 We have used the term "regiment" in speaking of the 
New York contingent. But besides Schuyler s regiment of 
ten companies there were four independent companies, com 
manded by Captains Davis, Ten Eyck, Munro (Rangers), and 


Braddock s Defeat 

Johnson had expected to be joined at the lake 
by many more warriors of the Six Nations. 
He expected at least 600, although he had re 
ceived tidings from Hi-o-ka-to and informa 
tion from Captain Montour, who had then 
arrived with his small detachment at his 
camp, that there was little hope of the full 
Seneca contingent of 400 being available. In 
the meantime, de Vaudreuil, who had just 
succeeded Duquesne as Governor-General of 
Canada, learned by papers, taken at the wreck 
of Braddock s army, of Shirley s proposed ex 
pedition against Niagara, and as a counter- 
movement he had arranged an attack upon 
Oswego, but learning subsequently that Sir 
William Johnson s expedition was advancing 
by way of Lake George against Crown Point, 
he changed his purpose. He called back the 
French force already on its way to Oswego, 
and sent them under Baron Dieskau to meet 
Sir William s forces. 

The baron left a large force about 1,200 
men at Crown Point, and taking with him 
280 French regulars of the Regiment de la 
Eeine, 800 Canadian militia, and between 600 
and 700 Indians, proceeded up Lake Cham- 
plain and landed at the head of that lake, with 
the intention of marching across the country 
and attacking Fort Edward in Johnson s rear, 

Sir William Johnson 

with a view of cutting off his retreat and in 
the hope of thereby annihilating his army. 
If he should be able to accomplish this, the 
route to Albany and the lower settlements on 
the Hudson would be open and undefended. 
On the fourth day, however, after leaving the 
head of Lake Champlain, the French army 
found itself on the road to Lake George, in 
stead of to Fort Edward, and Dieskau dis 
covered through his scouts that he was only 
four miles from the fortified camp which Sir 
William Johnson had made on the bank of 
the lake. Here Dieskau halted and sent for 
ward a party of Indians, under the direction 
of Captain de St. Pierre, to reconnoiter. In 
the course of their reconnaissance they en 
countered and killed a courier whom General 
Johnson had sent to warn the garrison at 
Fort Edward of their danger. Dieskau, dis 
covering from this fact that Sir William was 
on the alert, gave the Indians under his 
command the choice of either attacking the 
fort or marching against Sir William s camp 
at the lake. The Indians, who never had any 
stomach for artillery, and having been told by 
a prisoner that the camp at the lake had no 
cannon, positively refused to attack the fort, 
but expressed their desire to be led against 
the fortified camp. Dieskau thereupon 

Braddock s Defeat 

marched through the forests toward Lake 
George, and encamped that night on the banks 
of a small pond a little to the eastward of the 
Lake George road, and at the southern foot 
of French Mountain. 

About nightfall on the 7th of September, 
Johnson learned through his scouts that a 
large body of men were marching toward his 
camp. Early the next morning he sent out 
about 800 Provincials under Colonel Ephraim 
Williams, and the whole force of Hendrick s 
Iroquois warriors, led by the venerable chief 
himself, to find the enemy. What we have 
called "a fortified camp " was simply an aba 
tis or rough log breastwork, made by felling 
trees across the foot of the camp and lopping 
down their branches. There was no earth 
work or other pretense of regular fortifica 
tion, excepting that places were cleared 
through the log-slashing to form a kind of 
embrasure for the four cannon that he had 
with him at the lake. Dieskau, advised by his 
Indian scouts of the movement of Colonel 
Williams and Hendrick, arranged an ambus 
cade, and the detachment, when about two 
and a half miles from the camp, walked right 
into it, the column being led by Hendrick and 
his warriors. Dieskau had ordered that his 
men should reserve their fire until the Provin- 

Sir William Johnson 

cials and Iroquois were entirely within the 
half circle of his ambush, but before the de 
tachment had gone that far, one of the ene 
my s muskets went off accidentally, where 
upon the attack began. Volley after volley 
was poured with murderous effect upon the 
Indians in front and upon the left of Will 
iams column of Provincials. Hendrick, who 
was riding at the head of his column a large, 
corpulent man, and wearing a brilliant uni 
form formed a conspicuous mark for the 
enemy s bullets, and was killed at the first 

The venerable warrior was in his eightieth 
year when he fell in battle. Colonel Will 
iams was also killed a few minutes after Hen 
drick, being shot through the head as he was 
in the act of mounting a rock in order better 
to direct the movements of his men, his horse 
having been shot under him a few minutes be 
fore. The Provincials and Indians now broke, 
and retreated in some confusion, the enemy 
following close at their heels, yelling and fir 
ing. Beaching a small pond near the road to 
the lake, Lieutenant-Colonel Cole of the Mas 
sachusetts Provincials succeeded in rallying 
two hundred or more of them in a favorable 
position, and stationing his men behind trees 
at a point where the road ran close to the 


Braddock s Defeat 

pond, forming a sort of defile, checked the 
pursuit. Sir William, as soon as he heard 
the firing, had sent Cole with 300 men to 
cover the retreat, subsequently reenforcing 
them with 200 more under Major Whiting. 
The check given the advancing enemy at this 
little pond which has ever since been known 
in the local phrase as " Bloody Pond " en 
abled the survivors of the force of Williams 
and Hendrick to reach the fortified camp, into 
which they clambered pell-mell over the fallen 
trees and brush, weary, dejected, and dispir 
ited. Had Dieskau been able, as he had in 
tended, to take advantage of the confusion 
produced in Sir William s camp by the arrival 
of these panic-stricken fugitives, and while 
his own men were completely flushed with 
success, he might possibly have made a grand 
rush and carried the improvised barrier or 
abatis by storm; although, notwithstanding 
the demoralization at the first onset, the sub 
sequent proceedings indicate that even this 
would have been doubtful. It was not be 
lieved by the Indians and Canadians that Sir 
William had any artillery in his camp at the 
lake, but when they arrived in sight of the 
breastwork they saw that he had four guns 
mounted, whereupon they halted and took 
shelter in the woods. This left only the 

Sir William Johnson 

French regulars for attack, and before Dies- 
kau could rally and reinspire his Indians and 
Canadians, the Provincials had found time in 
which to improve their defenses and recover 
from their previous demoralization. 

As soon as Dieskau had rallied and 
brought his Canadians and Indians to the 
front again, the 280 French regulars attacked 
Sir William s flimsy defenses in the center, 
advancing rapidly and firing by platoons. 
The Provincials, however, stood firm, and the 
regulars, after losing about 70 men in attack 
ing the center, were withdrawn. Dieskau 
then made an attack with his Canadians on 
the left flank of Johnson s camp, but with no 
better effect. Finally, discovering that there 
was a gap of about 20 or 25 yards between 
the right of the slashing which covered John 
son s camp and the bank of the thickly wooded 
and impassable swamp that defended his 
right flank, Dieskau determined upon a des 
perate charge of his regulars in column of 
platoons to get through this gap. Had this 
succeeded, it would have turned Johnson s 
right. The regulars, of whom about 210 were 
now left, charged at this gap as they might 
have charged at Fontenoy, Dieskau leading 
them in person. He had expected an easy 
victory, but now the stubbornness of the resist- 

Braddock s Defeat 

ance and the comparative feebleness of the 
attacks which his Canadian militia had made 
filled him with forebodings. He could not 
bear the idea that he, the favorite pupil and 
at one time chief aide-de-camp to the great 
Marshal Saxe, should be beaten in the for 
ests of America by an army of backwoods 
men, commanded by a f aimer ! 

It may, perhaps, be fortunate for the des 
tinies of the Anglo-Saxon race in this coun 
try that this, the only practicable open 
breach in Sir William s line of defense, was 
held by four companies of the New Hamp 
shire Provincials, and they were commanded 
by their senior captain, who, though senior to 
the other captains in rank, was junior to them 
all in years. The four companies of New 
Hampshire Provincials numbered about 260 
to 280 men. The fighting in the breach was, 
for the most part, hand-to-hand. Perhaps 
half of the New Hampshire men had bayo 
nets; those who had none used the butts of 
their muskets, as there was no time to reload. 
This desperate combat lasted perhaps seven 
or eight minutes. At its end the French 
commander-in-chief, Dieskau, was mortally 
wounded and a prisoner. Of his 210 magnifi 
cent French regulars belonging to "de la 
Eeine " the most famous regiment in the 

Sir William Johnson 

French army only 41 escaped unhurt. The 
loss of the New Hampshire Provincials 
was between 90 and 100 out of say 260 
to 280. 

It may not be uninteresting to know that 
the unflinching young senior captain of the 
New Hampshire Provincials, who held his 
"embattled farmers " to their deadly work in 
that breach against the flower of the French 
regulars, was John Stark, then only twenty- 
seven years old. Further comment does not 
seem necessary. 

The battle was over. Dieskau s army, 
abandoning all its baggage, and many of his 
men throwing away their guns, fled toward 
Crown Point. The Provincials were ex 
tremely desirous of pursuing them, but Sir 
William Johnson, knowing that a large re 
serve had been left behind at Crown Point, 
and also realizing the exhausted condition of 
his troops, who had suffered very consider 
able losses, did not deem pursuit prudent, 
and though urged by Colonel Lyman to per 
mit a strong advance, peremptorily forbade 
it, and ordered his troops to rest on their 
arms. In fact, Sir William himself had 
received a severe wound in his efforts to 
rally the Indians when they retreated to the 
breastwork after the death of Hendrick. He 

Braddock s Defeat 

was outside the breastwork on horseback, 11 
shouting to the Indians in their own tongue, 
and to a considerable extent restoring confi 
dence and order among them. Wishing to 
look behind him for a moment, he put one 
hand upon the pommel and the other upon 
the cantle of his saddle, and rising up in his 
stirrups, he turned half round. Just as he 
did so a bullet from the French line in the 
woods struck him in the left hip back of the 
joint, grazing the bone, passing through the 
fleshy part of the hip, to the right and upward 
afc an angle of about 45 degrees, and lodging 
in the large muscle just below the small of 
the back, making a very severe and painful, 
though not dangerous, flesh wound. Painful 
as this wound was, Sir William kept his sad 
dle until the crisis was over. When he did dis 
mount his left leg was quite paralyzed, and his 
left boot full of blood. He did not even let his 

1 A curious incident occurred in this battle. Sir William 
had taken with him in the campaign a magnificent imported 
thoroughbred stallion which he used as a charger in parades, 
reviews, etc. He had two other horses of more common and 
less valuable kind that he used in battle. At the beginning 
of this action he had one of his orderlies take the stallion to a 
place near the shore of the lake where he would be, as was 
supposed, out of range ; but a stray bullet struck the blooded 
stallion in the head and killed him, while the plebeian nag 
Sir William rode in the thick of the melee came out unhurt 1 
The stallion was worth 1,000, the nag perhaps 20. 


Sir William Johnson 

men know that he had been hit. Fortunately, 
it was an Indian bullet only about half the 
size of the ounce-ball of the regulation musket. 
Curiously enough, he and the French com 
mander, Baron Dieskau, were taken to the 
surgeons at the same time, and Sir William 
directed them to dress the wounds of his 
fallen antagonist before they attended to his 
own. The bullet that wounded Sir William 
a half-ounce ball from an Indian s gun 
lodged just beneath the skin at the lower end 
of the great muscle on the left side of the 
small of the back, and was easily extracted by 
cutting through the skin. 

There was at the time considerable criti 
cism in military circles of Sir William s fail 
ure to follow up this victory more closely, and 
he himself used to say in reply to these criti 
cisms, that if he had not been disabled, the 
probability is that he would have yielded to 
the importunities of Colonel Lyman and other 
officers to pursue the retreating enemy. His 
force was considerably superior numerically 
to the French and Indians. The highest esti 
mate we have ever seen of Dieskau s force 
was that it amounted to 1,800 men, of whom 
about 1,100 were whites or half-breeds 280 
or 300 French regulars and 800 Canadian 
militia, together with about 700 Indians. Sir 

Braddock s Defeat 

William had under his command at the begin 
ning of the action not less than 3,000 to 3,200 
men, of whom about 500 were Indians ; but he 
knew that a reserve of at least 1,200 good 
troops regulars and Canadian militia had 
been left at Crown Point ; and as the distance 
between that place and this battle-field was 
less than a day s forced march, there was dan 
ger of a counter attack which, falling as it 
must have done upon raw troops thoroughly 
tired out and considerably shaken by their 
losses, might have proved disastrous. 

Stone says that when Colonel Lyman 
begged that he might take the Massachusetts 
and the New York troops, with such of the 
Indians as might be rallied to follow him, and 
pursue the enemy, Sir William replied: 
"Much as I admire your spirit and honor your 
purpose, colonel, I have reason to expect that 
the reserve left at the Point will join the force 
we have been contending with, during the 
night, and then the attack on this position is 
likely to be renewed to-morrow. Therefore, 
I consider it dangerous to weaken my force 
by dividing it." The question whether this 
view of the situation was sufficient to justify 
his refusal of Lyman s request is, of course, 
purely a matter of speculation. It was one 
of those cases where there can be no rule of 
11 153 

Sir William Johnson 

action except the judgment of the command 
ing officer on the spot. One thing is to be 
said of Sir William Johnson, however, and 
that is, in whatever capacity of life or in what 
ever emergency, private or public, civil or 
military, he was always cool and cautious, 
and if in any military operation he committed 
an error, it was always sure to be on the side 
of prudence. "The proof of the pudding, 
etc.," is exemplified in his case. He com 
manded two very important expeditions dur 
ing the old French war the one under con 
sideration and the one which resulted in the 
capture of Fort Niagara and it must be said 
of him that if he never won any great, bril 
liant, or startling victory, he never got 
whipped ! 

No farther advance was made by the 
forces under Sir William Johnson toward 
Crown Point. It was getting late in the sea 
son. After deducting the losses in the battle 
of Lake George, and taking account of the fact 
that most of the Indians returned to their 
homes soon afterward, thus reducing John 
son s force to less than 2,400 all told, it ap 
pears reasonable that he should pause at the 
idea of attempting to storm or even besiege 
a regular fortification like Crown Point with 
that number of men, none of whom were regu- 

Braddock s Defeat 

lar troops, when the work itself was sure to 
be defended by a force very nearly equal, and 
likely to be largely reenforced from Canada. 
The cooperating colonies of New York, Mas 
sachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire 
showed no disposition to reenforce Johnson. 
So that on the whole we think it may justly 
be said that, in pursuing the course he did 
that is to say, of fortifying the positions he 
had gained, and of making sure of his lines of 
communication in his rear Sir William dis 
played in a marked degree that virtue which 
is generally described by the aphorism that 
"discretion is the better part of valor." At 
any rate, the king and the Duke of Cumber 
land appeared to be perfectly satisfied with 
what he had achieved, because, as soon as the 
news of the battle of Lake George reached 
England, he was made a baronet of the hered 
itary class, and promoted to the rank of 
major-general in the British regular army, 
on the Colonial establishment. 

One of the best expressions I have seen 
with regard to the real value of Sir William 
Johnson s victory at Lake George was made 
by Cortlandt Van Rensselaer. He said the 
principal value of this victory was its influ 
ence in rallying the spirits and restoring the 
confidence of the American colonies. Much 

Sir William Johnson 

had been expected from the three expeditions 
planned at Alexandria and sent against the 
French. Disappointment and sorrow had 
already followed Braddock s terrible defeat. 
A different though not less bitter feeling had 
been experienced at the failure of Shirley s 
expedition against Fort Niagara. While 
General Johnson had not achieved the ulti 
mate object of his expedition which was to 
take Crown Point he had inflicted a terrible 
and destructive defeat upon a powerful 
French force, led by the best general the 
French had on this side of the ocean, in which 
that general was himself placed liors de 
combat forever. Not only were the colonies 
filled with rejoicing, but the influence of the 
triumph went over to England, and the deeds 
of the Provincials at Lake George became 
familiar to the ears of royalty and were ap 
plauded by the eloquence of orators on the 
floor of Parliament. The moral effects of a 
battle, in which the forces arrayed against 
each other were comparatively small, have 
rarely been greater or more decisive in the 
whole range of military annals. Viewed 
simply in its military aspect, the battle of 
Lake George was the only successful achieve 
ment in all the thirteen colonies during the 
campaign of 1755. 


Braddock s Defeat 

Although General Johnson s expedition, 
as already remarked, failed in its ultimate 
object in reducing Crown Point, it still had a 
glamour in the brilliant success of a hard- 
fought and well-won pitched battle. In war 
success in one direction may and does often 
overbalance reverse or shortcoming in an 
other. At the very least, or at the minimum 
of its importance, it was, after all, the one 
great event of the campaign of 1755. Above 
all, it was purely an achievement of the yeo 
manry of New York and New England. Not 
a single British regular was there, either offi 
cer or enlisted man, and certainly not the 
least, if not, indeed, the greatest of its values, 
was the lesson it taught to the military 
world that American Provincials could suc 
cessfully face and overcome French regulars. 

Sir William Johnson s wound practically 
disabled him for about three months, and for 
the rest of his life he always walked with a 
slight halt or limp in the left leg. However, 
he did not leave the camp, but continued in 
command, giving his personal attention to his 
duties. As soon as his wound was suffi 
ciently healed to enable him to leave his 
bed, it was his habit to be carried about 
on a litter, inspecting the fortifications of 
the base of operations he had gained, di- 

Sir William Johnson 

recting the movements of scouting parties 
and forays into the enemy s country 
in short, commanding his forces quite as 
actively and as efficiently as he might have 
done had he come out of the battle unscathed. 
He did not return to his home at Mount John 
son until after winter set in. Then Colonel 
Lyman now promoted to the regular rank 
of brigadier-general on the colonial establish 
ment was left in command of the northern 
line of defenses, and no further operations 
were attempted until the following spring. 
After the death of Hendrick he was succeeded 
as principal sachem of the Mohawks by the 
elder Brant, whom we have previously called 
Nicklaus. In the battle at Lake George, 
Brant succeeded Hendrick in command of the 
Indians. Sir William s influence may have 
had something to do with this selection, be 
cause there was another prominent candidate 
for the succession. At this time the elder 
Brant may have been considered Sir Will 
iam s "father-in-law," because, a little more 
than a year previously, he had made Brant s 
daughter Mary the object of his affections 
and mistress of his household. As to the 
other and more exalted distinction which Hen 
drick had so long held that of senior chief 
of the Iroquois Confederacy, which was an 

Braddock s Defeat 

elective position, not hereditary was left 
vacant for twenty years, until in 1775 Joseph 
Brant was chosen to fill it. 

Joseph Brant was present in this battle, 
though only thirteen years old. In his de 
scription he says: "When the firing began I 
was so overcome that I had to seize hold of a 
sapling to steady myself. But I instantly 
thought that such feelings were not those of 
a warrior, and went on loading and firing the 
small gun I had, the same as the others. 
. . . My father, seeing me standing in an 
open space, somewhat roughly ordered me to 
get behind a tree which I hastily obeyed, 
though I had not before thought of taking 

In January, 1756, Sir William, having 
fully recovered from his wounds, went to New 
York city to lay his annual report before the 
Governor and confer with the Committee of 
Supply, whose custom it was to have him 
explain in detail his recommendations for 
Indian appropriations. We have already 
noted that during the campaign of 1755 some 
friction occurred between Sir William and 
Governor Shirley. After the death of Brad- 
dock, Shirley resumed the position in which 
the former had superseded him that of com- 
mander-in-chief in British North America. 

Sir William Johnson 

He set up the singular contention that, as Sir 
William had been appointed and commis 
sioned by Braddock to be General Superin 
tendent of Indian Affairs at Large, his 
authority ended with Braddock s life, and 
must be renewed or approved by his suc 

Acting upon this theory, Shirley had, at 
the beginning of the year, served upon Sir 
William a new commission, accompanied 
with a mass of "instructions/ all of which 
were unnecessary and most of which were 
absurd. Sir William determined now to set 
tle the matter once for all. He replied po 
litely to Shirley, and as he always did every 
thing openly and aboveboard, he informed 
him of his intention to lay the whole affair 
before the king and ministry. He did this 
in two letters one to Secretary Fox of the 
Board of Trade and the Colonies, the other 
to the king himself. In due time Secretary 
Fox addressed to him a letter containing a 
royal commission as "Agent, Sole Superin 
tendent of the Six Nations and all other Indi 
ans inhabiting British territory, north of the 
Carolinas and the Ohio River," with a fixed 
salary of 600 per annum, and a like amount 
for official expenses. At the same time the 
ministry addressed circular letters to all the 

Braddock s Defeat 

Colonial governors, enclosing copies of Sir 
William s new commission, informing them 
that "it was the act of the king himself 
through an order in council," and "forbidding 
any Colonial governor to transact any busi 
ness with the Indians or hold any communi 
cation with them except through Sir William 

This action settled his status for all time, 
and he henceforth had a free hand. Shirley, 
ignominiously snubbed, had to content him 
self with a personal hatred toward the baro 
net, which he ever afterward ardently cher 
ished. 1 Shirley was an active, energetic man, 
of considerable ability in many directions. 
But he was full of vanity, subject to small jeal 
ousies and petty piques. These traits weak 
ened and seriously compromised the efficiency 
of an otherwise strong character and fertile 
mind. He could never forgive Sir William 

1 Shirley s subsequent splenetic and impotent hatred was 
amusing rather than inconvenient to Sir William. In one of 
his letters to Gen. Jeffrey Amherst in 1759, between whom 
and the baronet the warmest friendship existed, he says : 

"Shirley hates me. I am sorry for him; I almost pity 
him. He has many good traits that are good and useful, but 
he has also a few small traits that are bad and harmful more 
to himself than to any one else. His trouble lies in his tend 
ency to subordinate the great traits to the small ones. I do 
not know of another instance where the makings of a great 
character have been so spoiled by foibles." 


Sir William Johnson 

for winning the battle of Lake George 
against Dieskau, the French commander-in- 
chief, while he (Shirley) was retreating in 
disorder from Oswego, pursued by a French 
colonel ! 


^s^ ^fM^tM^l 


;\jj*lf ;.- < rO ! ;* .wfe! 



WE may pass rapidly over the events of 
1756 and 1757. There never were two drear 
ier years in the history of the British Empire. 
Corruption and imbecility, incarnate in the 
ministry of Newcastle, seemed to have 
reached the uttermost dregs of defeat, dis 
grace, and disaster. And nowhere were the 
effects so humiliating or so disheartening as 
in the American colonies. The worst of these 
effects took the shape of three generals sent 
over during that period. They were Lord 
Loudoun, General Abercrombie, and General 

Loudoun was a titled prig, with no knowl 
edge whatever of the conditions of warfare 
in America, and very little anywhere else. 
He was equally ignorant of the spirit of the 
colonists or the genius and working of 
their institutions. The only things he ever 
did, or apparently knew how to do, were to 

Sir William Johnson 

display pomp, procrastinate, and find fault. 
He despised the Provincial soldiers, held 
the Colonial governments in contempt, and 
seemed to think that his orders ought to re 
peal laws. It is difficult to imagine such 
utter perversity of conception or such fla 
grant degeneracy of mental process in a man 
raised under British institutions as were in 
carnate in this empty, vapid, puffball of Eng 
lish aristocracy. Fortunately he did not last 
long. But while he did last, he contrived to 
bring the war to its most desperate stage, to 
make French success almost universal from 
Lake Champlain to the Ohio, and to enshroud 
the hopeless colonies in a gloom that trenched 
closely upon the borders of despair. Eng 
land has raised a big brood of worthless 
"noblemen" (so-called). But she had never 
before, nor has she ever since, quite dupli 
cated the pattern of Lord Loudoun. 

Abercrombie was a bluff but dull soldier, 
whose sole idea of warfare was the paste 
board system then in vogue on the continent 
of Europe. He was brave, even to rashness, 
but his courage was that of stupidity rather 
than of reason. He always wanted to do 
everything with the bayonet, and was appar 
ently too obtuse to see any difference in the 
chances of that weapon between the open 

Services in Last Part of the War 

plains of Europe and the tangled woods of 

His one effort was the assault of Fort Ti- 
conderoga with 14,000 men, about half of 
whom were British regulars. Montcalm de 
fended the works with 3,600, of whom less 
than 2,000 were French regulars. Abercrom- 
bie lost 2,000 men in half an hour, inflicting 
on his adversaries a loss of less than 50. 
Though he had over twelve thousand men left 
and a heavy train of siege-artillery that had 
not been used at all, he made no attempt at 
regular siege, but retreated precipitately to 
his base of operations. Sir William John 
son was present with Abercrombie s army at 
the head of 450 to 500 Indians, but they were 
not permitted to do anything, and shared the 
disheartenment of their white comrades. 
Abercrombie, like Loudoun, was of short du 
ration. His strut upon the American stage 
was very brief. But while he strutted he 
managed to paralyze the largest and best- 
appointed army that had ever been assembled 
on American soil. 

And now we come to Webb. The sole ex 
ploit of this "general " was to hold his army 
in firm leash at Fort Edward, while Montcalm 
at his leisure besieged and took Fort Wil 
liam Henry, only a few miles away, his Indi- 

Sir William Johnson 

ans massacring many of the garrison after 
the surrender. The only help he could vouch 
safe to Colonel Munro. commanding the fort, 
was in the shape of a letter advising him to 
surrender. But we may let Sir William de 
scribe Webb. He said to Colonel Peter 
Schuyler at Albany, in a talk about the mas 
sacre of Fort William Henry shortly after 
Schuyler s return from Canada on parole : 

Webb s malady is constitutional. If he had let 
me go, I believe I could have compelled the French 
to raise the siege. If he had supported me with his 
whole force, I believe we could have beaten Mont- 
calm. We had nearly seven thousand effective 
troops, and Munro had about sixteen hundred more 
in his garrison and fortified camp. Montcalm had 
no more than six thousand effective. But Webb, 
instead of marching to the relief of Munro, sent 
him a letter advising him to surrender on the best 
terms he could get. You know the rest. I hate 
to say it, but the truth must be told. Webb en 
joys a solitary and unique distinction. He is the 
only British general in fact, I may say the only 
British officer of any rank I ever knew or heard 
of who was personally a coward. 

That Webb was and is such, no one who served 
with him or under him could fail to perceive. He 
was nearly beside himself with physical fear after 
the fall of Fort William Henry. His army was 
in good spirits, anxious to fight. The general alone 

Services in Last Part of the War 

was panic-stricken! The fate of Braddock, who 
was an old comrade of his in the Guards, almost 
upset his mind. At his headquarters in Fort Ed 
ward, when I was present, the subject of Brad- 
dock s expedition came up, and Webb spoke with 
almost puerile fear of the horrors of falling into 
the hands of the Indians. He declared he was 
sure they would burn him at the stake if they ever 
caught him, because they knew he was the most 
dangerous enemy they ever had! (sic.) 

It was different on the French side. 
While the English colonies were sweltering in 
the agony of imbecile command and sweating 
bloody sweats under the pompous inanity of 
Loudoun, the brutal stupidity of Abercrombie 
and the indescribable buffoonery and pol 
troonery of Webb, the French had their Mont- 
calm! This man was a wonder. We must 
judge what he did by our knowledge of what 
he had to do it with. When, in 1756, he took 
the supreme command of the French forces 
in Canada, in succession to the Baron Dies- 
kau, defeated, wounded, and captured by Sir 
William Johnson at Lake George, Montcalm 
found himself almost wholly dependent on the 
resources of the colony itself. The impo- 
tency of the Newcastle ministry had, indeed, 
sufficed to paralyze the military arm of Eng 
land in America on the land. But not even 

Sir William Johnson 

the Newcastle blight could wholly wreck or 
even seriously cripple the sea-power of Eng 

So it happened that while, under Loudoun 
and Abercrombie and Webb, disaster trod on 
the heels of disaster by land, the navy of old 
England proved irrepressible, and with its 
Hawkes, its Boscawens, and its Howes, made 
the ocean path between old France and New 
France all the time well-nigh impassable, and 
most of the time wholly so. Indeed, the 
French sixty-gun ship that Montcalm himself 
came over in was twice in the midst of Howe s 
squadron between Cape Race and Bay Cha- 
leur, and escaped only by reason of dense 
fogs. But, if they did not happen to catch 
Montcalm, they proved abundantly able to 
intercept most of his supplies and to capture 
or chase back to France all, or nearly all, of 
the transports bringing reenforcements. 

The result was that when Montcalm as 
sumed command he instantly saw that he 
must fight it out with such resources in men 
and supplies as the colony already held, and 
that he could place no reasonable dependence 
upon further reenforcement or succor of any 
kind from the parent state. Here, in this 
situation, the sea-power of England doubtless 
wrote the brightest chapter in its history 

Services in Last Part of the War 

brighter, even, in the splendor of its contri 
bution to the sum-total of success and vic 
tory, than the page on which are inscribed 
the words "Nelson" and "Trafalgar." 

For, in the final act of the drama, which 
was a play for the sovereignty of a continent, 
while such generals as Amherst, Wolfe, 
Forbes, and Sir William Johnson were strik 
ing their fatal blows at French dominion on 
land, the omnipresent and inevitable fleets of 
Hawke, Boscawen, and Howe were choking 
French dominion to death on the sea. 

As soon as Montcalm had gotten fairly in 
the stirrups in 1756, he planned and executed 
an attack on the important English post of 
Oswego. This was the key of the western 
Iroquois country, the principal entrepot of 
the English fur-trade in that region, and a 
base from which Lake Ontario might be com 
manded by a naval force. It had, in 1756, a 
garrison of 1,500 or 1,600 men, and a small 
population of civilian traders, with a few 
women and children. Montcalm crossed the 
lake from Oswegatchie, and in August, 1756, 
invested Oswego with about 2,000 French 
regulars, 2,000 Canadian militia, and 1,000 
Indians the latter commanded by the after 
ward famous Pontiac. After a brief resist 
ance the small garrison surrendered at 
12 169 

Sir William Johnson 

discretion. The Indians at once desired to 
indulge in a general massacre, and ap 
proached the place where the prisoners were 
under guard. 

Montcalm, determined that the glory of 
his arms should not be tarnished by cruelty 
to prisoners, ordered his French regulars to 
protect the captives at the point of the bay 
onet. They obeyed to the letter, but it was 
not until after they had killed six of the Indi 
ans and badly wounded eighteen or twenty 
more that the savages desisted. The able- 
bodied men of the garrison were taken to Can 
ada as prisoners and the women and children 
sent to Onondaga Castle under a guard of 
French regulars. The approach of this escort 
spread consternation through the Mohawk 
Valley. The people thought it was the van 
guard of an invasion in force. Montcalm, 
however, destroyed the forts and other build 
ings, sent belts of peace-wampum to the west 
ern Iroquois, and invited them to a conference 
with the Governor-General at Montreal. He 
then returned with his whole force to Canada. 

The French archives contain evidence that 
Montcalm s first intention really was to in 
vade New York by way of the Mohawk Val 
ley. But upon a closer reconnaissance, he 
concluded that the transportation of supplies 

Services in Last Part of the War 

by that route would present insuperable dif 
ficulties. After the fall of Oswego he had 
conferences with certain Seneca, Cayuga, and 
Onondaga chiefs, from whom he gained the 
impression that in consequence of the recent 
demonstrations of strength on the part of the 
French, and weakness of the English, they 
would remain neutral in the future. 

Montcalm, upon his return to Canada, dis 
posed his forces for an invasion of the north 
ern colonies by way of Lake Champlain early 
the next spring, and made no other movement 
of importance during the season of 1756. The 
Canadian Government, however, actively pro 
moted and instigated Indian forays upon the 
New York, Pennsylvania, and New England 
border settlements, whereby the whole winter 
of 1756-57 was kept hideous with ravage and 
massacre from the Kennebec to the Susque- 

Early in 1757 Montcalm moved up Lake 
Champlain, and on the 18th of March made a 
demonstration against Fort William Henry, 
using the ice on Lake George as a roadway 
of approach. Finding the place too strong 
to be taken by coup de main, he retired to 
Crown Point, and awaited the opening of 
navigation. Meantime he began the building 
of the formidable works known as Fort Ti- 

Sir William Johnson 

conderoga, as an advanced post some miles 
south of the Point. 

As soon as the lakes were clear of ice he 
transported a force of about 6,000 l men 
3,000 regulars, 2,000 Canadian militia, and 
1,000 Indians in 250 bateaux, to the head of 
Lake George, and on the 4th of August in 
vested Fort William Henry and the fortified 
camp under its guns, held by Colonel Munro 
with something over 1,600 men. General 
Webb was at Fort Edward, less than a good 
day s march distant only 14 miles with 
4,500 men, about half of whom were regulars. 
Munro asked for assistance, but Webb be 
lieved that Montcalm had at least 14,000 men, 
and cowered behind the parapets of Fort Ed 
ward. Two days after the formal investment 
of Fort William Henry, Sir William Johnson 
joined Webb from Albany with nearly 2,000 
Provincials and 500 to 600 Indians. He 
asked Webb to give him another thousand 
men and let him march at once to the relief of 
Munro. Webb at first assented, but when 
Johnson s head of column had got about four 

1 A detachment 1,200 or 1,400 strong under M. de Levi 
inarched down the western shore of the lake. This was a 
ruse of Montcalm to impress the garrison when they should 
see de Levi s detachment approaching by land that it was a 


Services in Last Part of the War 

miles from Fort Edward, peremptorily re 
called him, saying Montcalm was too strong, 
and expressing fear that Johnson would 
share the fate of Braddock. 

In vain Sir William assured him that his 
scouts, both Indians and Stark s Rangers, had 
informed him that the French force did not 
exceed 6,000. In vain he entreated and ex 
postulated. Webb was firm. Irresolute in 
everything else, he could be firm only in his 
poltroonery and consistent only in his cow 

Montcalm contented himself with destroy 
ing Fort William Henry. That fort had been 
made the depot of ordnance intended for the 
movement contemplated against Crown Point. 
Montcalm found there a siege-train of twelve 
heavy guns, several mortars, and a large sup 
ply of ammunition and stores. These he took 
away and retired to Ticonderoga, making no 
attempt on Fort Edward, though his Indians 
killed and scalped several of Webb s soldiers 
within sight of its ramparts. Montcalm has 
been criticized for his failure to follow up 
this success. But his force was too small. 
He had only a little over seven thousand 
men, including the garrison of Crown Point. 
Webb had nearly as many. 

Montcalm naturally shrank from attack- 

Sir William Johnson 

ing a strong fortification like Fort Edward 
with a force little if any larger than that of its 
defenders. Had he been better acquainted 
with Webb this consideration might not have 
had so much weight in his mind. Owing to 
the failure of Governor-General de Vaudreuil 
to send a promised convoy of wagons and 
pack animals to him, he was deficient in 
means of land transport. And besides all 
this, he knew that the militia of New York, 
Connecticut, and Massachusetts would be 
mobilized at once to support Webb. This, in 
fact, occurred; more than 12,000 militia as 
sembling within striking distance of Fort 
Edward, a few weeks after the fall of Fort 
William Henry. Montcalm did all that his 
resources permitted. 

Only one other "great operation " oc 
curred during the season of 1757. Late in 
the summer Lord Loudoun sailed from Hali 
fax with eleven thousand troops and a fleet of 
sixteen sail of the line. under Admiral Hoi- 
born, to attack Louisburg. But just as the 
fleet was fairly under way, a vessel sent out 
to reconnoiter arrived with information that 
the garrison of Louisburg had just received 
reenforcements, and that the French fleet 
there was superior to Admiral Holborn s by 
one ship of the line. His lordship thereupon 

Services in Last Part of the War 

countermanded the orders for Louisburg and 
sailed with his troops for New York ! 

Arriving in New York, his lordship spent 
the rest of his valuable time while in the col 
ony trying to bully the Governor and Assem 
bly, and oppressing the inhabitants by billet 
ing his troops upon them. There was no 
earthly pretext for this outrage, because he 
had plenty of stores and camp equipage, and 
was amply prepared to make comfortable 
winter quarters for his army in camp. His 
conduct can be attributed to nothing but his 
arrogance, his ignorance, and his malignity. 
As a bully and a despot, Loudoun was a great 
success. In every other capacity he was a 
failure that beggars language to describe. 

But while there was a dearth of large 
operations in 1757, the tomahawk and scalp- 
ing-knife were busy along the whole frontier, 
the most conspicuous foray being that against 
German Flats on the Mohawk, in November 
of that year. The thriving village was 
utterly destroyed and its inhabitants, with a 
few exceptions, butchered or carried into cap 
tivity. It was the most atrocious massacre 
known since Count de Frontenac s ravage of 
Schenectady in February, 1690. 

When the attack on German Flats was 
made, Sir William, recently returned from the 

Sir William Johnson 

northern frontier, was prostrated by the 
breaking out of his old wound received at 
Lake George. But he instantly arose, mus 
tered about 300 militia and 250 Indians under 
Nicklaus Brant, and started to meet the 
French and Indians, supposing that they 
would continue their advance down the val 
ley. But they, in their turn, hearing of Sir 
William s preparation to meet them, hastily 
retreated to Canada without further effort at 
destruction, except two or three isolated mur 
ders. The forays continued all the winter by 
small parties, but on the whole not as destruc 
tively or through so wide a range as during 
the previous winter. 

The most disastrous effect of all these re 
verses, so far as Sir William s duties were 
concerned, was the disaffection they inspired 
among the western Iroquois. The Senecas 
and Cayugas openly revolted against Eng 
lish influence. We have noted that Mont- 
calm, when he took Oswego, invited those 
tribes and the Onondagas to send delegates 
for a conference with the Governor-General 
at Montreal. In August, 1757, soon after 
they learned the fate of Fort William Henry, 
the Senecas, Cayugas, and Onondagas sent 
delegates to meet de Vaudreuil. The Onei- 
das did not send regular delegates, but sev- 

Services in Last Part of the War 

eral members of the tribe, including the half- 
breed chief Antone, went on their own re 
sponsibility as they afterward explained 
to Sir William, " not to speak with two 
tongues, but that our brother Warragh-i-ga- 
hey might have eyes and ears there to see 
and hear." 

This was probably true, because the Onei- 
das, though admitted to the sessions of the 
conference, were regarded by the western 
Iroquois delegates with suspicion, and were 
closely watched. The Mohawks and Tusca- 
roras alone remained firm in their fealty to 
the English. Sir William was perplexed by 
these events, but he did not despair. In 
October, 1757, he wrote a letter to the 
Duke of Cumberland, which he requested 
the duke to show to his royal father. In 
this letter he said: 

. . . But besides all other ill-effects of our 
reverses during these two years past, is the very 
important consideration that they have weakened 
our alliance with the Six Nations almost to the 
breaking point. The Indian respects nothing so 
much as power and success, and nothing so little as 
apparent weakness and reverses. As they say at 
the race-course, the Indian is always shrewd in 
picking out the winner. Judged by their prot 
estations to me after the Battle of Lake George, 

Sir William Johnson 

one would have thought that no vicissitudes of 
fortune could cause these Indians to waver. But 
the victories of Montcalm and the apparent in 
ability of our generals to make the best use of the 
resources they have, are causing .the Indians 
that is, the Western Iroquois to believe that the 
French are going to win in this contest. 

The result is that my influence over them, per 
sonal as well as official, is almost gone, and I have 
no power of my own to restore it. But it could be 
at once restored by a great victory here for our 
arms. I do not wish to criticize individuals who 
are my superiors in rank, but in a general way I 
must say that the commanders we have in the Colo 
nies now are not adapted to the peculiar responsi 
bilities cast upon them, and while they may be 
exceedingly competent under the conditions of war 
fare in Europe, they do not and apparently can 
not grasp the special military problems presented 
by our modes of war in the woods. Your Boyal 
Highness is well aware that ours is a kind of war 
fare that in the main may be termed irregular ; and 
while regular troops, properly commanded and 
handled, are of great value in its operations, only 
disaster can result from attempts to apply the teach 
ings of Marlborough and Frederic of Prussia to 
the problems presented by our war in the wilder 
ness. I am sure there are generals in His Majesty s 
army who could quickly and effectively adapt 
themselves to our peculiar conditions, but none of 
them has as yet been sent here. 


Services in Last Part of the War 

Thus closed the second of the two dreary 
years 1756 and 1757. The handful of French 
men in Canada appeared about to vanquish 
the multitude of Britons in the American col 
onies, and the " balance of power " that the 
Indians held seemed gradually but surely 
slipping over into the French side of the 
scale. Henderson, in his Historical Mem 
oirs of the Duke of Cumberland, says that 
much of the great change which soon occurred 
in the management of affairs in America was 
indirectly due to him. 

At last, the puny and pusillanimous min 
istry of the Duke of Newcastle came to an end. 
He resigned, with great reluctance, in Novem 
ber, 1756, after being decisively beaten on three 
or four important votes in the House of 
Commons. William Pitt succeeded him, and 
at once began comprehensive measures for 
the restoration of England s failing prestige. 
Pitt held the premiership only five months 
till April, 1757 but during this brief period 
he sowed the seeds of success broadcast. 
However, after Pitt resigned the king found 
himself unable to form a ministry, and when 
England had been nearly three months with 
out a government, Newcastle and Pitt formed 
in the early part of July, 1757, a coalition 
Cabinet, of which the duke was figurehead, 

Sir William Johnson 

without a portfolio, and Pitt, in the joint 
capacity of Secretary for Foreign Affairs 
and for War, was the actual premier. 

Of course, it required some time for this 
great change to produce results. There were 
no cables under the ocean then, nor could the 
sailing ships of those days make definite time- 
schedules like the steam transports of our 
era. Therefore, some delay was inevitable 
before Pitt s genius could express itself across 
three thousand miles of sea, with only the 
wings of sailing vessels to carry its inspira 
tions. But toward the end of 1758 the ex 
pression of Pitt s genius began to be felt, not 
only in America, but in India in other 
words, all the way from the Ganges to the 
Ohio. Pitt brought forth a Jeffrey Amherst 
where Newcastle had a Lord Loudoun; a 
Wolfe where Newcastle had an Abercrom- 
bie, and a Forbes where Newcastle had a 

Before the end of 1758, Amherst had taken 
Louisburg at one end of the line and Forbes 
had occupied Fort Duquesne at the other end. 
The only disaster that year was the bloody 
repulse of Abercrombie s assault on Ticon- 
deroga, on which sufficient comment has al 
ready been made in our brief sketch of that 
general. Late in 1758 General Sir Jeffrey 

Services in Last Part of the War 

Amherst became Commander-in-chief of all 
the British forces in North America, and from 
that moment the tenor and spirit of the con 
duct of the war on the part of the English 

General Amherst was peculiarly adapted 
to the situation more so, doubtless, than any 
other officer of his rank then in the British 
army. He was a man of plain, unaffected 
manners. In all his transactions he was 
straightforward, frank, and sincere. He had 
passed several years of his early military life 
1735 to 1743 in Colonial garrisons, was 
widely acquainted in Colonial society, intelli 
gently comprehended the political institutions 
of the colonies, respected their rights, and ad 
mired the pluck which they had so long dis 
played under incompetent leadership and con 
sequent disaster. He liked the Provincial 
officers and men, and they liked and confided 
in him. Prior to his time the rule had been 
that no Provincial officer should command 
regular troops. 

One of Amherst s first acts was an order 
to the effect that when regulars and Provin 
cials were serving together, the ranking offi 
cer in actual grade should command, whether 
regular or Provincial, with the reservation 
only that when a regular and a Provincial 

Sir William Johnson 

officer of the same grade were operating 
together, the regular should have the prece 
dence, irrespective of date of commission. 

General Amherst was methodical some 
times almost to the point of slowness, but he 
was sure, and as the sequel proved, his sturdy 
prudence served the cause better than bril 
liant audacity might have done. He has 
been severely criticized for failing to push 
on to Canada and reenforce Wolfe after his 
capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point in 
July, 1759, had opened the road. But Isle 
aux Noix was still formidable, and besides, 
the French had four quite respectable brigs- 
of-war on Lake Champlain, while the English 
had no naval force there whatever. As it 
turned out, Wolfe did not need his help. Am 
herst said this himself, and remarked that 
"Wolfe s behavior at Louisburg, as his sec 
ond in command, had satisfied him of that 
general s ability to shift for himself." More 
over, to reach Quebec from the foot of Lake 
Champlain, a considerable land march had to 
be made, and Amherst was very deficient in 
land transport. 

The effects of this turn of fortune were 

soon apparent among the western Iroquois. 

In the fall of 1758 Sir William Johnson was 

invited by a number of chiefs of the Senecas, 


Services in Last Part of the War 

Cayugas, and Onondagas to meet them in 
grand council at Onondaga Castle, the loca 
tion of the "Long House," or what might be 
called the "Federal Capital " of the Six Na 
tions. On this he asked the advice of Am- 
herst, who was then at Albany. The general 
advised Sir William not to go to Onondaga 
Castle, but send a counter-invitation to the 
chiefs to meet him at his own headquarters, 
Mount Johnson. 

"It is clear that they are beginning to see 
the turn of the tide, my dear Sir William," 
wrote Amherst, "and while we must forgive 
their conduct these two years past, we must 
not let them forget that it is they, and not we, 
who are on the stool of repentance. They 
will come to your house. And when they do, 
they will respect you more and have a deeper 
sense of your dignity than if you went to 

The baronet took the general s advice, and 
the conference, attended by over a hundred 
Indians, among whom were the principal 
chiefs of the western Iroquois, was held at 
Mount Johnson, with the happiest results. 

During the winter of 1758-59 General 
Amherst matured his plans for a comprehen 
sive invasion of Canada. The taking of Lou- 
isburg and Fort Duquesne at each extrem- 

Sir William Johnson 

ity of the long military frontier had clipped 
the wings of French power. 

The French, however, still held the im 
portant frontier posts of Ticonderoga, Crown 
Point, and Fort Niagara. Early in Decem 
ber, 1758, Amherst sent an outline of his plans 
to Pitt. These plans involved expeditions by 
land for the reduction of Ticonderoga and 
Crown Point on Lake Champlain, and of Fort 
Niagara on the Niagara Eiver. So long as 
the French held Ticonderoga and Crown 
Point they could command the approaches to 
Canada by Lake Champlain, and Fort Niag 
ara was the key to communication by the 
Great Lakes. Amherst s plans also contem 
plated a direct attack upon Quebec itself by 
sea. He gave Pitt his judgment in detail as to 
the number of troops that would be required 
for these expeditions, and he also suggested 
commanders for them. 

For the command of the expedition 
against Quebec he named General James 
Wolfe, who had been his second in command at 
the reduction of Louisburg the previous sum 
mer. For command of the expedition to Ni 
agara he recommended Sir William Johnson, 
and he himself undertook to command the 
operations against Ticonderoga and Crown 
Point. His recommendation of Wolfe was at 

Services in Last Part of the War 

once adopted by Pitt and confirmed by the 

At that time the genius of British military 
education and thought ran largely to gravity 
and slowness. Wolfe was everything but 
grave and slow, and for that reason, although 
his career had been thus far brilliant wher 
ever he had an opportunity, he was looked 
upon in the sage and solemn councils of the 
Horse Guards as a dare-devil, if not a hair- 
brained sort of fellow capable of great 
things under command of some one else, but 
hardly fit to be trusted with grave responsi 
bilities of his own. Indeed, when his appoint 
ment to command the Quebec expedition be 
came generally known, several prominent men 
remonstrated with the king himself, and one 
of them, whose name has not been given to 
history, declared that Wolfe was a madman. 
The supposition is that the author of this re 
mark was the Duke of Newcastle himself, 
though Lord Hervey in his Historical Mem 
oirs of George II does not say so. But, who 
ever it may have been, the old king, who had 
become thoroughly disgusted with the conduct 
of affairs in the American colonies, angrily 
responded in the decided Dutch brogue he 
had: "Yell, den, if Volfe is mat, I hope he yill 
pite some of my udder chenerals ! " 
13 185 

Sir William Johnson 

All of Amherst s recommendations were 
adopted, except that Pitt thought it would be 
best to place a British regular officer of high 
rank in command of the Niagara expedition, 
and make Sir William Johnson second in com 
mand. The man selected for the command 
of the Niagara expedition was General John 
Prideaux, a soldier who had served for many 
years in the Grenadier Guards and had 
achieved a high reputation in the war of the 
Austrian Succession, and also in the opera 
tions on the continent of Europe during the 
war under consideration. The selection of 
Prideaux proved happy, like all the rest of 
Pitt s acts. As soon as he arrived in this 
country and took command of his expedition, 
which had already been organized by Sir 
William Johnson, he frankly told the baronet 
that he should rely upon his experience and 
judgment implicitly that he himself "knew 
nothing of the conditions of warfare in the 
woods of America, and he was not going to 
pretend that he did." He told Sir William 
that he should hold him responsible for 
proper suggestion and advice every day, and 
that whenever he (Sir William) advised or 
suggested anything, he might consider it as 

Under these circumstances, a force assem- 

Services in Last Part of the War 

bled at Oswego under command of Prideaux 
at the end of June, consisting of 1,200 Brit 
ish regulars, 1,800 Provincials mostly New 
Yorkers and 700 Indians under Sir William 
Johnson. Before the expedition left Oswego 
Sir William was joined by 280 more Indians, 
mostly Senecas and Cayugas. The whole 
force, therefore, assembled at Oswego was 
3,000 white troops and 980 Indians. On the 
1st of July General Prideaux, leaving Colo 
nel Haldimand with about 200 regulars and 
550 Provincials to hold Oswego, sailed with 
2,250 white troops and 980 Indians for Fort 
Niagara, landed on the 6th of July below the 
fort, with but trifling resistance, and on the 
7th formally invested it. The siege went on 
without incident of special note until the 19th 
of July, when General Prideaux was instantly 
killed by the premature bursting of a shell 
upon the discharge of a Cohorn mortar, 
whereupon the command devolved upon Sir 
William Johnson. Here it is worth while to 
call attention to the absolute fairness and 
sense of justice which animated Sir William. 
In his report of the campaign to General Am- 
herst he said: "Much, in fact most, of the 
credit of this achievement belongs to the late 
General Prideaux, because I had carefully 
studied his plans, which he imparted to me 

Sir William Johnson 

with perfect freedom, and I executed them 
with all the precision and skill of which I am 
capable, departing from them only when com 
pelled to do so by circumstances which he 
could not have foreseen." 

In the meantime Colonel d Aubrey, com 
manding the western district of Canada, gath 
ered from the posts at Detroit, Venango, Fort 
Leboeuf, and Presque Isle, all their garri 
sons, abandoning them entirely. By this 
means he assembled a force of about 1,200 
men, of whom perhaps 200 were French regu 
lars and 1,000 Canadian militia. With these 
and some 500 Indians, he hastened from 
Presque Isle across Lake Erie, and ap 
proached Niagara, with the intention of rais 
ing the siege. Sir William, however, was 
well informed of d ? Aubrey s movements by 
his Indian scouts, and on the 20th of July, 
knowing that the French commander had 
reached a point about eight miles from the 
fort, left a sufficient force in the trenches to 
prevent the garrison from making a success 
ful sortie, and then marched out with the rest 
of his army to meet the enemy. The force 
which he took to meet d Aubrey consisted of 
800 British regulars, about 700 Provincials, 
and all of the Indians, the total strength be 
ing a little over 2,300. He disposed his forces 

Services in Last Part of the War 

with the British regulars in the front and 
center, closely supported by the Provincials; 
on the right he placed the whole contingent of 
Senecas and Cayugas, some 400 strong, under 
Hi-o-ka-to and Jean Montour ; and on the left 
flank the rest of his Indians, about 500 strong, 
commanded by the Onondaga chief Onasdego, 
and the Mohawk chief Nicklaus Brant. 

It is worthy of remark that in this battle 
young Joseph Brant, son of the chief, though 
only seventeen years old, served as lieutenant 
in the Canajoharie company of Mohawks. 

It happened that Sir William s Indians 
forming his two flanks came in sight of the 
enemy s Indians, similarly formed, a few min 
utes before the white troops got sight of each 
other. The field of battle was mostly a grove 
of large trees, without much underbrush, and 
there was little impediment to the maneu- 
vring of infantry. The two forces of Indi 
ans charged each other furiously, making the 
scene hideous with their yells. At the same 
time the British regulars, advancing rapidly 
through the most open part of the timber, 
suddenly struck the Canadian militia, who 
were somewhat demoralized by the fact that 
their Indian allies began to give way on either 
flank. The regulars, led by Sir William in 
person, fired one volley, and then charged 

Sir William Johnson 

through the open timber with the bayonet. 
In less than half an hour cP Aubrey s troops, 
French regulars, Canadians and Indians 
alike, were totally routed, and fled in the most 
bewildering confusion, furiously pursued by 
Sir William s Indians, who, for more than 
three miles, strewed the ground with their 
bodies. In this action 146 of the French were 
killed and 96 soldiers and 17 officers taken 
prisoners, among whom was the commandant 
d Aubrey himself. The number of wounded 
was not stated in Sir William s report, but it 
undoubtedly exceeded 300. The force which 
d Aubrey had brought to raise the siege was 
completely dispersed, and was never reor 

Sir William then returned to his lines at 
the fort, and at sundown of the same day sent 
Major Harvey of his staff to the commander 
of the fort, informing him of the result of the 
battle, and advising him to capitulate. Sir 
William concluded his letter as follows: "I 
desire not only to avoid further useless ef 
fusion of blood, but I must also warn you that 
if you force me to extremities and compel me 
to storm your works, I might not have it in 
my power to restrain my Indians, who would, 
by an obstinate and fruitless resistance on 
your part, become too much enraged to be 

Services in Last Part of the War 

withheld." The French commander, Pouchet, 
yielded to this advice, and at seven o clock the 
next morning (July 25th) the garrison, con 
sisting of 618 of all ranks, surrendered at dis 
cretion. The fort was occupied by Sir Will 
iam s troops, and the male prisoners were 
escorted by a detachment of the Forty-fourth 
Eegiment of British regulars to Oswego ; from 
there they were sent to New York, and from 
New York to England. The women and chil 
dren, or at least such of them as desired to 
do so, were allowed to go to Montreal. 

It is worthy of remark that, although in 
this operation Sir William had under his com 
mand nearly a thousand Indians, almost half 
of whom were Senecas and Cayugas at that 
time among the savagest of Indian tribes, so 
far as methods of warfare were concerned 
and who were, besides, extremely wrought up 
by the loss of several of their braves, includ 
ing two popular chiefs yet not the least in 
jury or insult was offered by them to the cap 
tured garrison, nor did they take any of the 
private property of the French troops, or of 
the families that were in the fort. They took 
only such plunder as Sir William Johnson 
allotted to them in the way of legitimate 
spoils. By this exploit Sir William Johnson 
then already decorated by the victory at 

Sir William Johnson 

Lake George became among the most fa 
mous men in all the colonies and in England. 
General Amherst wrote him a most compli 
mentary letter, praising the skill of his com 
binations and the efficiency of his execution 
of them. The Duke of Cumberland also 
wrote a letter to him saying, in allusion to 
Sir William s total lack of regular military 
education or training, that "if all of His 
Majesty s gentlemen subjects were like your 
self, there would be no need of military 

The principal strategical consequence of 
the reduction of Fort Niagara was to sever 
the last link of communication between the 
eastern and western possessions of France in 
North America, and its importance to the gen 
eral plan of operations was but little if any 
less than the taking of Fort Ticonderoga and 
Crown Point about the same time by the main 
army under General Amherst. 

Sir William was extremely attached to 
General Prideaux. When that officer first 
arrived in the colony in the spring, while the 
expedition was forming, he was Sir William s 
guest at Mount Johnson for several days. In 
a letter of condolence to the general s rela 
tives in England, Sir William said, among 
other things : 


Services in Last Part of the War 

Brief as our association and acquaintance were, 
I had no friend whose friendship I valued more 
than that of General Prideaux. He was the soul 
of honor and courtesy, both in official and personal 
intercourse. He had no vanities or jealousies or 
small traits whatsoever. It was his constant custom 
to spend most of his time in the trenches among 
the soldiers a habit indeed to which his untimely 
death was due. He was as popular among the com 
mon soldiers and as much beloved by them as by 
the officers who had the honor and pleasure of 
most intimate association with him. By his death 
the King has lost one of the brightest ornaments 
of his service. 

After the surrender of Fort Niagara, Sir 
William remained there about two weeks, re 
pairing fortifications and arranging for the 
comfort of the sick and wounded, both of his 
own force and of the prisoners, who were un 
able to be taken away. Then he left Colonel 
Farquhar in command of the fort, with a gar 
rison of 700 men, and returned by the lake 
to Oswego, where he arrived on the 7th of 
August. In a short time Brigadier-General 
Gage of the regular arrny came to Oswego, 
and as he ranked Sir William, assumed the 

Sir William used to say that no incident 
of this campaign was more gratifying than 

Sir William Johnson 

the opportunity it gave him to lead a consid 
erable force of British regulars in a decisive 
action a privilege that no Provincial officer 
up to that time had enjoyed. This was due 
to General Amherst s order previously noted. 
Under the conditions that formerly prevailed, 
Colonel Haviland of the Forty-fourth regu 
lars would have succeeded General Prideaux, 
notwithstanding that Sir William Johnson 
was a major-general on the Colonial estab 

Various schemes were at once set on foot 
for the reduction of posts on the north side 
of Lake Ontario, and at the head of the St. 
Lawrence, including the forts of la Galette, 
Oswegatchie, and Frontenac. For some rea 
son, General Gage did not approve these 
plans. Some time later, when General Am- 
herst was apprised of them, and informed 
that Sir William had vigorously advocated 
the movement, he coincided with him, and 
criticized the inaction of Gage, saying, among 
other things, that a movement of that kind, 
whether successful or not, must have ab 
sorbed the attention of a considerable part of 
the forces which, in the absence of such at 
tack from the head of the St. Lawrence, were 
left free to strengthen the hands of Montcalm 
at Quebec. However, nothing further was 

Services in Last Part of the War 

accomplished on the lake frontier during the 
rest of the summer, and in October Sir Will 
iam disbanded his Indians and returned to 
his home at Mount Johnson. 

It is not within the scope of this work to 
describe Wolfe s campaign against Quebec, 
except in the most general terms. In fact, it 
hardly needs a new description, because few 
actions in modern warfare have been more 
widely chronicled, more thoroughly analyzed, 
or more permanently committed to fame than 
that. Hardly ever was there so dramatic a 
battle ; hardly ever have such momentous con 
sequences hung upon the issue of one. Every 
thing about it was dramatic. The stealthy 
scaling of the steep declivities up to the 
plateau of Abraham by Wolfe and his sol 
diers, under cover of night and fog ; the sur 
prise and almost dismay of Montcalm when 
the rising sun disclosed that his adversary 
had outwitted him ; then the desperate effort 
of the French to retrieve their fortunes ; the 
steady, indomitable tenacity with which the 
English held their advantage; the final rout 
of the French; the mortal wounding of both 
commanders, and the last words of each; 
Wolfe saying, when his aide-de-camp told him 
that the French were fleeing: "I am now con 
tent to die " ; Montcalm, when told by his sur- 

Sir William Johnson 

geon that he had but a few hours to live, and 
hearing the tramp of his beaten and retreat 
ing troops through the streets of Quebec: "I 
am glad of it, for I shall not live to witness 
the surrender of Quebec." All these episodes 
have made the battle of Quebec not merely 
a theme for history, but an inspiration of 
poetry as well. 

The forces that Wolfe deployed on the 
plateau of Abraham were about 5,600 strong 
all regulars; one regiment, however, the 
"Royal American Regiment of Foot," of which 
the first battalion formed part of Wolfe s 
army, though in all respects borne on the 
Regular Establishment, was wholly recruited 
and mostly officered from the colonies the 
only natives of Great Britain serving in it 
being the lieutenant-colonel in command, a 
major, two captains, and the surgeon. So far 
as is known, every enlisted man in it was of 
colonial birth or citizenship. 

Montcalm s force consisted of about 3,500 
French regulars and 2,000 to 2,500 Canadian 
militia. The loss of the British army has 
been estimated variously at from 800 to 1,000 
men killed and wounded. The French loss 
was never reported. Montcalm s army was, 
however, practically dispersed. The surviv 
ing regulars made their way to Montreal, and 

Services in Last Part of the War 

the militia, for the most part, disbanded and 
went to their homes. 

With the fall of Quebec on the one hand, 
and Fort Niagara on the other, together with 
the expulsion of the French garrisons from 
Ticonderoga and Crown Point, the power and 
dominion of France in Canada was now nar 
rowed down to the remnants of different 
forces which assembled at Montreal under 
command of the Governor-General, the Mar 
quis de Vaudreuil. The season, however, 
was too far advanced for any further opera 
tions in the latitude and climate of Canada. 
General Amherst therefore put all his regular 
forces in winter quarters, and furloughed his 
Provincials, that they might spend the winter 
at their homes. In the meantime he laid his 
plans for an attack upon Montreal as soon as 
spring should open in 1760, with the entire 
disposable British force in the northern col 

Nothing of particular note occurred dur 
ing the winter. In his plan of campaign, 
General Amherst projected a simultaneous 
attack on Montreal from three points. Gen 
eral Murray was to come up the St. Lawrence 
from Quebec. Colonel Haviland, in command 
of the force which garrisoned Ticonderoga 
and Crown Point during the winter, was to 

Sir William Johnson 

move down Lake Champlain and the Kiche- 
lieu River reducing Isle aux Noix on his way 
and then march across the country to Mon 
treal; while General Amherst was to assem 
ble the main army at Oswego and move across 
Lake Ontario to the head of the St. Lawrence, 
reducing the forts at la Galette and Oswe- 
gatchie, and thence to descend the St. Law 
rence to Montreal. The troops under com 
mand of General Stanwix, forming the De 
partment of the Ohio, were recalled, and the 
garrisons of the smaller forts in the colony 
of New York were all brought together and 
made part of General Amherst s grand army 
at Oswego. He was detained somewhat 
longer than he had contemplated, mainly by 
the slowness with which the Provincial troops 
reassembled. "The colonial troops," he wrote 
Sir William Johnson, "come in slow. ... I 
hope you will do everything in your power 
to hasten their arrival." 

Sir William explained in reply that the 
delay was greatly due to the drought which 
prevailed that spring, by which the waters of 
the Mohawk and Oneida rivers became so low 
that navigation upon them, which was neces 
sary for the transportation of stores, was 
greatly retarded and almost suspended. 
However, all arrangements for the campaign 

Services in Last Part of the War 

were completed by the 12th of June, and Gen 
eral Amherst proceeded to Oswego, where an 
army of 6,000 Provincials and 4,000 British 
regulars was assembled. On July 25th Sir 
William Johnson joined him with 650 war 
riors, and the day before the expedition sailed 
it was further increased by 700 Senecas and 
Cayugas, with whom was a considerable 
number perhaps 200 of Oswegatchie and 
Caughnawaga Iroquois, who had previously 
been under the influence of the French. This 
made the whole number of Indians under the 
command of Sir William Johnson, 1,350 the 
largest force of that race ever assembled on 
this continent up to that time. 1 General Am- 

1 In this campaign Sir William had his Indians organized 
in what might be called a "brigade" of two "regiments." 
One "regiment" was composed of the eastern Iroquois 
Onondagas, Mohawks, Oneidas, Tuscaroras, and "River Indi 
ans " ; the other of the Senecas and Cayugas, or western Iro 
quois. The "eastern regiment" was something over 600 
strong and commanded by the elder Brant (Nicklaus). The 
"western regiment" was 700 strong and commanded by the 
redoubtable Hi-o-ka-to, with Captain Montour and Young 
Cornplanter in command of its two wings. Sir William said 
that Hi-o-ka-to s command of western Iroquois was the finest 
body of men in the physical sense that he ever saw assembled. 
"What a pity it is," he wrote to General Amherst, "that 
these magnificent Indians could not have seen the right war 
path for their interests earlier in the struggle ! " 

An interesting episode of this campaign was that John 
Johnson, then eighteen years old, accompanied his father s 


Sir William Johnson 

herst sent Colonel Haldimand with a command 
of a thousand men to clear the head of the St. 
Lawrence of any obstructions that might im 
pede safe navigation, and on the 10th of 
August embarked from Oswego with his 
whole army. La Galette and Oswegatchie 
were reduced without serious resistance, 
although la Galette, which was defended by 
Fort Levi, a regular fortification, held out 
until the 25th of August, when the comman 
dant, Pouchet, surrendered at discretion. He 
was the same officer whom Sir William John 
son had captured the year before at Fort 
Niagara, and who had been exchanged. 
When Fort Levi surrendered the Indians 
found in the deserted huts of the enemy a few 

division as a lieutenant of Provincials, while Joseph Brant, 
also eighteen years old, served under his father Nicklaus as 
captain of the Mohawk Indian company of Canajoharie Castle. 
General Amherst s main army as it sailed from Oswego 
was in three divisions, each about 4,000 strong. The first, 
composed mainly of regulars, was commanded by General 
Gage; the second, composed of a battalion of regulars and 
the New England Provincials, was commanded by Colonel 
Haldimand; and the third, composed of all the New York 
Provincials and all the Indians, was under the command of 
Sir William Johnson. Captain John Stark s Rangers, in two 
companies, were attached to Sir William s headquarters and 
reported directly to the commander of the division. Though 
the Indians had been organized in companies in the Niagara 
campaign the year previous, this was the first time they had 
ever been "brigaded" or subjected to regular discipline. 


Bronze statue at the State Park, Lake George. 




Services in Last Part of the War 

Mohawk scalps, and raising the war-whoop 
or scalp-yell, desired at once to commence a 
general massacre. 

Sir William immediately suppressed this 
outbreak in a most peremptory fashion, 
threatening that if the Indians persisted in 
their purpose, he would instantly ask General 
Amherst to back him up with a strong force 
of British regulars and Provincials, and the 
fierce intentions of his warriors were thor 
oughly quelled before they had done any 
damage. This was the first and last time he 
ever had occasion to resort to drastic disci 
pline in handling his Indians. 

On the 31st of August General Amherst 
again embarked his army, and proceeded care 
fully down the St. Lawrence Eiver reconnoi- 
tering at every step of his progress, and af 
fording the enemy no opportunity for a sur 
prise. The boats passed the rapids of the St. 
Lawrence above Montreal, though not with 
out some casualties. Several boats were 
crushed against the rocks and 46 men were 
drowned. On the 6th of September Am- 
herst s army arrived within sight of the 
church spires of Montreal, and so well had his 
plans been concerted and matured, that, sin 
gular as it may seem. General Murray, on 
the same day, approached it in the other 
14 201 

Sir William Johnson 

direction from Quebec. The next day Colonel 
Haviland also joined the main army with his 
division from Ticonderoga and Crown Point. 
General Amherst now completely surrounded 
the city and sent a message to the Marquis 
de Vaudreuil, informing him of the exact 
strength of his army, which, after the junc 
tion of the three forces, his own, Murray s, 
and Haviland s, was over 18,000 strong, ex 
clusive of Sir William Johnson s Indians. He 
assured the French Governor-General that his 
most ardent desire was to prevent useless 
shedding of blood, that he knew exactly the 
force under the Governor-General s command 
and the elements of which it was composed, 
and stated them in his letter with an exact 
ness that startled the marquis. 

So far as his own force was concerned, as 
a proof of his good faith, he invited the mar 
quis, if he so desired, to come to his camp and 
review it himself. Coming from some men, 
this sort of thing might have been classed as 
bravado, but in the case of Sir Jeffrey Am 
herst it was nothing more than the prompt 
ings of his absolute integrity and his perfect 
sense of honor. General Amherst sent his first 
communication to the Governor-General late 
in the afternoon of September 6th. Early in 
the morning of the 7th de Vaudreuil replied, 

Services in Last Part of the War 

assenting in the main to the propositions the 
General had advanced, but requesting two 
days for deliberation and consultation with 
his subordinate officers. This General Am- 
herst cheerfully granted, but the Governor- 
General did not consume the whole of the time 
given him. At noon, the 8th of September, 
he sent a letter to the British commander 
incorporating the terms of a capitulation that 
he was willing to sign. This capitulation 
provided that the French troops then under 
arms in Montreal should be permitted to 
march out with the honors of war, retaining 
their colors and personal effects; that their 
arms should be stacked in their quarters and 
not laid down; that they should not be held 
as prisoners of war, but should be paroled 
until such time as they could be transported 
to France; that within a reasonable time all 
other French prisoners of war held by the 
British should be released and allowed to 
return to France; that all British prisoners 
of war held by the French should be immedi 
ately given up; that all captives held by the 
Indians hitherto in alliance with either party 
should, as far as practicable, be returned 
to their homes on both sides ; that private 
property of every kind should be respected, 
and that the British commander should take 

Sir William Johnson 

the responsibility of maintaining order in the 
city and its environs. 

To these terms General Amherst added 
the stipulation that Canada, with all her 
dependencies, should be surrendered to the 
Crown of Great Britain, and all claims of 
France to dominion over any part of Canada 
or her dependencies should cease. Upon the 
exchange of these terms, an interview was im 
mediately arranged between General Amherst 
and the Marquis de Vaudreuil. In this inter 
view General Amherst was supported by Gen 
eral Murray, Sir William Johnson, General 
Gage, and Colonel Haviland. The Governor- 
General by only a single aide-de-camp. There 
was litt le discussion in this interview. Sir 
Jeffrey Amherst and the Governor-General 
passed the usual formalities of politeness, 
and then General Amherst handed to the mar 
quis his response to the letter embodying the 
proposed terms of capitulation. He agreed 
to all of them, but said that it would be neces 
sary to get up some method of distinguishing 
public from private property, concerning 
which the Governor-General had made no sug 
gestion. To this the marquis agreed, and a 
commission was appointed, consisting of Sir 
William Johnson and General Gage on the 
British side, and Colonel Levi and another 

Services in Last Part of the War 

officer on the French side. Little difficulty, 
however, was experienced in arriving at the 
desired distinction. Arrangements also had 
to be made for provisioning the troops 
forming the French garrison. When all 
these preliminaries were settled, de Vau- 
dreuil sadly led his dejected and dilapidated 
forces out of Montreal, and the town was 
occupied by a British garrison under Gen 
eral Gage. General Murray was sent back 
the day after the completion of the capitu 
lation to Quebec with 4,000 men as a gar 

When the town was about to be occupied 
by the British forces, General Amherst wrote- 
a note to Sir William Johnson requesting him 
to take the greatest pains to restrain his Indi 
ans from any excesses that they might be dis 
posed to commit. Sir William s characteris 
tic response, much appreciated by Amherst, 
and which he was afterward fond of relating 
as a good joke, was as follows : 

CAMP BEFORE MONTREAL, September 9tli, 1760, 
MY DEAR GENERAL: Replying to your note of 
this date, I take pleasure in saying that I shall not 
only cheerfully hold myself personally responsible 
for the behavior of every one of my Indians, but if 
you desire it, I will detail a suitable detachment of 
my Senecas to act as provost guard in the town ! 

Sir William Johnson 

When we consider that the Senecas were 
notoriously the worst Indians Sir William 
had, the humor of this proposition will be 
apparent. History does not record that Gen 
eral Amherst accepted the generous proposi 

On the 12th of September General Am 
herst left Montreal for New York, and the 
next day Sir William embarked with his 1,300 
Indians in bateaux, in which they returned 
by easy stages to Oswego, where they were 

During this campaign, the same as during 
the Fort Niagara expedition, the Indians in 
service received the same pay and allowances 
as the Provincial troops. When disbanded 
at Oswego they were paid off, loaded with 
presents, each Indian receiving, among other 
things, a new blanket taken from the French 
public stores captured at Montreal. This 
event practically terminated the old French 
War, and brought the entire continent of 
North America east of the Mississippi River 
and, generally speaking, north of the vast ter 
ritory subsequently included in what is known 
as the Louisiana Purchase, under British 

The French still occupied Detroit, Mack 
inaw, St. Mary s (Sault Ste. Marie), and one 

Services in Last Part of the War 

or two other small forts in the country of the 
upper lakes. 

Major Rogers, commander of the Inde 
pendent Battalion of Scouts, which bears his 
name, together with his second in command, 
Captain John Stark, were sent with a suitable 
escort to notify the garrisons of these posts 
of the situation. They took with them certi 
fied copies of the capitulation signed by the 
Governor-General, also the orders of the Brit 
ish commander for the temporary regulation 
of affairs at those posts until a permanent 
government should be established. This duty 
was accomplished without difficulty worthy of 
note. 1 

General Amherst went to New York, 
where he was received with all possible pub 
lic demonstrations of joy, and all the honors 
due to his achievement were bestowed upon 
him. He was afterward raised to the peer 
age in England under title of his own name as 
Baron Amherst. 

1 When near Detroit Rogers and Stark were met by Pon- 
tiac, who demanded to know why they entered his country 
with an armed force. He had already been apprised by Indian 
runners of the capitulation at Montreal, but said that de Vau- 
dreuil had no right to surrender him! After some parley, 
however, Pontiac was appeased and Rogers and Stark went 
on to Detroit, which was at once surrendered by its comman 
dant, d Aubrey. 


Sir William Johnson 

Sir William Johnson, after disbanding 
and paying off his Indians at Oswego, re 
turned to his home at Mount Johnson, his 
military career now being at an end. 

General Amherst, however, did not con 
sider the work complete, and as soon as the 
demonstrations in his honor at New York 
were over, he immediately planned a cam 
paign to begin at once against the French 
settlements in Louisiana. To this end, 
knowing that the climate in that region would 
be unfavorable for the operations of British 
or Northern Provincials before the month of 
January, he proposed to sail from New York 
about the 1st of December with a fleet of 20 
sail of the line and a force of about 6,000 
British regulars. At the same time he pro 
posed that an expedition, composed of Pro 
vincial troops from New York, Pennsylvania, 
and Virginia, should rendezvous at Fort Pitt, 
at the head of the Ohio, and before the close 
of navigation proceed down the Ohio and 
Mississippi rivers. This force, he thought, 
ought to be at least 4,000 strong, and he pro 
posed that it should be placed under the com 
mand of Sir William Johnson. 

This project, however, was not carried out. 
Although General Amherst was commander- 
in-chief of all the forces, and practically in 

Services in Last Part of the War 

that capacity viceroy of all the North Ameri 
can colonies, yet his advisers in New York 
counseled him that it would not be wise to un 
dertake such an expedition without the express 
consent of the ministry, in view of the fact 
that during the whole war the British had 
made no attempt whatever upon the Louisiana 
colony, and that colony had, so far as any 
one knew, done nothing to oppose the British 
arms. General Amherst argued that it would 
take at least three months before the project 
could be laid before the ministry, considered 
by them, and an answer returned. By that 
time, he said, it would be too near spring 
for British and northern Colonial troops to 
operate safely in that latitude and climate. 
Thereupon, for some reason that never has 
been explained in history, the whole project 
was dropped. France was allowed to retain 
her sovereignty over Louisiana until a day or 
two before the signing of the definitive treaty, 
when she ceded all of her possessions known 
as the colony of Louisiana to the Spanish 

While the subjugation of Canada and the 
expulsion of French rule gave rest to the offi 
cers and troops who had been so arduously 
and so long engaged accomplishing the result, 
it only served to vastly enlarge the sphere of 

Sir William Johnson 

Sir William Johnson s duties and augment 
his responsibilities as general superintendent 
of all the North American Indians. Hereto 
fore he had practically only the Iroquois to 
deal with; now he was called upon to pacify 
and bring into compliance with the terms 
of the new situation the great number of In 
dians in the numerous tribes who inhabited 
the great west and northwest, and who had 
previously been wholly under French influ 
ence. He foresaw at once that in this task he 
must encounter at the outset a very great and 
embarrassing difficulty. He foresaw that Eng 
lish traders would undoubtedly make great 
efforts to get control of the Indian trade in 
those regions, and that, in consequence, trou 
bles were likely to arise between them and 
the French traders, who had so long controlled 
that commerce, and doubtless difficulties with 
the Indians themselves would ensue. 

The ink was hardly dry on the articles of 
capitulation of Montreal when Sir William 
went to New York to consult with General Am- 
herst on this subject. By this time he and 
the general had become the closest of friends, 
each confiding absolutely in the other s judg 
ment, and each taking counsel of the other in 
every great emergency. Sir William ex 
plained to the general that in his judgment 

Services in Last Part of the War 

the best policy for the British to pursue was 
to let the French residents of Canada as much 
alone as possible, and not to interfere with 
their trade or their personal relations with 
the Indians. He said he was satisfied that 
they would all become loyal and faithful sub 
jects of the king, and that their good-will 
should be sedulously cultivated, and the as 
sistance of their influence with the Indians 
freely invoked. He also held that it would 
be unwise to make any attempt at changing 
the religious influences that had so long been 
exerted over the Canadian Indians. He ar 
gued that any effort to interfere with the 
influence of the Catholic priests would create 
distrust among the Indians, whether con 
verted or not. On the whole, he told General 
Amherst that he believed the best policy for 
the British to pursue would be now that they 
possessed the governing power in Canada 
to leave all other conditions as nearly in 
statu quo as possible. To every one of these 
propositions General Amherst gave hearty 
assent; and as, in view of the practical veto 
upon his proposed invasion of Louisiana, he 
intended soon to sail for England, he prom 
ised Sir William that he would exhaust his 
influence with the ministry and the king to 
have Sir William s ideas carried into effect. 

Sir William Johnson 

It is hardly necessary to add that the policy 
pursued by the British Government toward 
the French and Indians in Canada, from that 
day to this, has been based practically upon 
the system advocated by Sir William John 
son in January, 1761. 

Filled as he always was with a profound 
sense of the responsibilities of his position, 
and realizing that not only the interests of his 
government, but that the comfort and well- 
being of the Indians depended almost wholly 
upon the management of their affairs, Sir 
William lost no time in making himself ac 
quainted with the nature and volume of the 
new duties which the change of rule in Canada 
had brought upon him. Early in the spring 
of 1761, in fact, immediately after his return 
from New York and his interview with Gen 
eral Amherst, previously mentioned, Sir Will 
iam sent a considerable number of his most 
trustworthy Indian runners, mostly Mohawks 
and Oneidas, with some Senecas, to travel all 
through the country of the Canadian Indians, 
and those farther west, with messages and 
belts of peace-wampum, inviting them to send 
their chiefs and delegates to meet him at a 
grand council, which he proposed to hold at 
Detroit some time in August of that year. He 
set out from Fort Johnson for Detroit on the 

Services in Last Part of the War 

5th of July, 1761, accompanied by his son, 
John Johnson afterward Sir John then a 
youth of nineteen, and his nephew, Lieutenant 
Guy Johnson. During this journey Sir Will 
iam kept a journal, in it almost daily record 
ing every incident worthy of historical note 
that occurred. Among the pleasant duties he 
had to perform at the outset of this journey 
was to assemble at the principal castle of each 
tribe all the Indians who had accompanied 
General Amherst s expedition to Montreal, 
for the purpose of distributing to them 
medals which he and the general had per 
suaded the Assembly of New York to have 
struck off for them. Having performed this 
pleasant duty, which consumed several days, 
and having attended at the Seneca capital a 
grand ceremonial in memory of the Indians 
of that tribe who were killed in the battle of 
Niagara in 1759, he went on to Niagara, and 
from there to Detroit. The necessary limits 
of this volume do not admit of any extended 
extracts from his extremely interesting jour 
nal. By way, however, of exhibiting the fact 
that in the midst of the most important pub 
lic duties Sir William never forgot his home 
or domestic responsibilities, we quote one 
entry dated Wednesday, October 21, 1761. 
The following is the exact text : 

Sir William Johnson 

Wednesday, 21st. A fine morning, a warm day. 
Embarked at eight o clock. At the Three River 
Rift met Sir Robert Davis and Captain Ethering- 
ton, who gave me a packet of letters from General 
Amherst, and a copy of a treaty made at Easton in 
August by Mr. Hamilton, of Philadelphia, with 
some scattering Indians who remained about that 
part of the country all of little or no consequence. 
Encamped in the evening about three miles above 
the Three Rivers. Captain Etherington told me 
Molly was delivered of a girl that all were well at 
my house, where they stayed two days. 

In this mission to Detroit Sir William was 
exceedingly successful; in fact, as he states 
in the journal from which we have just 
quoted, he was suprised at the alacrity with 
which the western and northwestern Indians 
accepted the new state of affairs. Arriving 
at Detroit, he held a council, or rather a series 
of councils, lasting eighteen days. He did not 
have, nor was it his purpose to have, all the 
Indians together at one time. He preferred 
to deal with them tribe by tribe, if possible, 
or at any rate in numbers not sufficient to 
form an unwieldy assemblage. While at De 
troit he was visited by, and had conferences 
with, representatives of all the tribes of any 
importance east of the Mississippi and north 
of the Ohio. He had no trouble with any of 

Services in Last Part of the War 

them, and they all seemed willing to meet the 
British at least half-way. Some of them, 
notably the Ottawas and Hurons, who were 
well aware of the British propensity to gain 
possession of the lands of the Indians, and 
whose location in Canada that is to say, in 
that rich country embraced in the triangle 
formed by Lakes Erie and Ontario on the 
south, the Ottawa River on the northeast, and 
Lake Huron, Lake St. Glair, the Detroit and 
St. Clair rivers on the west appeared anx 
ious on that subject, and pressed Sir William 
for assurances that their new Great Father, 
the British king, who had so recently become 
their guardian, would cause his people to 
maintain the same land policy toward them 
that had been for nearly two hundred years 
maintained by their former Great Father, the 
king of France. Undoubtedly these were 
embarrassing propositions for Sir William, 
because he knew what the British land-hunger 
meant for the Indians as well as the Indians 
themselves did. He admits in his journal 
that he was nonplussed at having this, which 
had always been the most crucial question 
in the Indian policy of the British, thrust 
at him by the Ottawas and the Hurons on 
the occasion of his first visit to them, but 
he does not enlighten us as to how he an- 

Sir William Johnson 

swered their proposition, or, perhaps, how he 
evaded it. 

While at Detroit, Sir William employed as 
interpreters in dealing with the Hurons, Otta- 
was, Chippewas, and other Canadian tribes, 
the Jesuit Fathers St. Martin and Pottier. 
Father St. Martin was the leading Jesuit of his 
time. He was the author of the History of 
New France, referred to in a previous chap 
ter, though it had not been printed at that 
time. However, Sir William knew all about 
his rank as an ecclesiastic and his influence 
over the Indians particularly the Ottawas, 
Hurons, and Chippewas. Therefore, the 
baronet was quite attentive to Father St. Mar 
tin. The priest was at that time over sixty 
years of age, and had passed forty years of 
his life among the Indians. In 1761 he lived 
at the Old Huron Mission, a few miles from 
Detroit on the shore of Lake St. Clair. On 
the 17th of September Sir William visited 
him at the mission, recording the event in his 
journal : 

Thursday, 17th. . . . Arrived at the Huron 
castle soon after 4 o clock, where the Indians 
were drawn up and saluted me. Encamped here. 
Visited the Mission Priest, Pierre Pottier. Supped 
with Saint Martin, the famous Jesuit, M. La Bute, 
and others. Then went to the council room of the 

Services in Last Part of the War 

Hurons, where they had everything in good order 
and three fires burning. . . . 

It would appear that Sir William ex 
hausted his powers of diplomacy upon the 
good old French priest. Father St. Martin 
had made up his mind to return to France and 
pass the rest of his life there. Sir William 
besought him to stay in Canada, where all his 
life-work had heen done, and to use his vast 
influence with the Indians in the interests of 
peace under the new regime. The priest ex 
pressed fear of interference by the English 
conquerors with the Catholic institutions, so 
long established among the Indians. Sir Will 
iam persuaded him not only that there would 
be no such interference, but that it would be 
the policy of the English to sustain the priests 
in their efforts to Christianize and civilize the 
Indians. Finally, Father St. Martin agreed 
to remain in Canada, arid he was afterward 
extremely useful under the British rule. 
A year or two later he went to France to ar 
range for the printing of his book, but 
returned to Canada and remained there until 
his death, some twenty years later. He was 
the last of the school of Father Marquette, La 
Salle, Joliet, and Hennepin. 

After this visit to the Huron mission, Sir 
15 217 

Sir William Johnson 

.William set out on his return journey the 20th 
of September, and arrived at Mount Johnson 
the 30th of October, having made several 
stops on the way to visit various forts and 
Indian villages. Among other things during 
this trip, the baronet regulated the number of 
troops to be maintained in the several garri 
sons required in western Canada, the total 
being about 1,200 regular troops. He also 
provided for a force of Indian or half-breed 
runners and scouts, to be employed in the pay 
of the king at the several forts and trading- 




AFTER the treaty or treaties of Detroit 
in 1761 the Indians, both in the older English 
colonies and the newly acquired domain of 
Canada, remained quiescent for two years. 
In view of the vastly increased scope of his 
duties, both as to the number of Indians and 
as to the extent of territory to be dealt with, 
Sir William found it necessary to operate in 
all ordinary or routine affairs through depu 
ties. He already had one deputy superin 
tendent, who had held the position for several 
years, with headquarters, after 1758, at Fort 
Pitt, and having charge of the Indians in the 
Ohio Valley. He now appointed two more 
deputy superintendents. One was his son-in- 
law, Colonel Daniel Claus, husband of his 
daughter Nancy; and the other his nephew, 
Colonel Guy Johnson, who was soon to be 
married to his daughter Mary both by his 
white wife. Croghan remained in charge of 

Sir William Johnson 

the Ohio Indians, with headquarters as be 
fore, at Fort Pitt. Colonel Glaus was placed 
in charge of the Canadian Indians west of the 
Ottawa River, with headquarters at Detroit. 
Colonel Guy Johnson took charge of the Iro- 
quois and the Canadian Indians east of the 
Ottawa, with headquarters at Oswego. This 
arrangement relieved the baronet of all minor 
details of Indian administration, leaving him 
free to devote his time to questions of general 
policy and to the adjustment of differences 
among the Indians themselves. It was not 
easy to make such hereditary enemies as the 
Iroquois and Algonquins comprehend the idea 
of living in peace under control of the same 
superintendent. Affairs, however, progressed 
without much jarring until 1763. 

We have remarked that Sir William ac 
quired in 1751 or 1752 a large tract of land, 
patented to himself u and others " in 1753 as 
the "Kingsboro Patent," and located a little 
distance north from the Mohawk Eiver, in 
the region round about the present city of 
Johnstown, N. Y. Among the " others " men 
tioned as parties in this tract was Arent 
Stevens, a widely celebrated Indian trader 
and interpreter. Sir William gradually 
bought out his associates, one by one, until 
the entire tract came into his possession. It 

Pontiac s War 

embraced about 26,000 acres. 1 From time to 
time he made substantial improvements on 
this tract, clearing considerable areas, build 
ing sawmills and a grist-mill, and settling 
upon it a considerable colony of tenants, 
mostly Scotch-Irish and Highland emigrants. 

About 1760 or 1761 it had become more 
valuable and important than his smaller 
estate at Mount Johnson, and he decided to 
remove to it. During the years 1761-62 he 
built a manor-house on this estate, to which 
he gave the name of "Johnson Hall." It is 
still standing, near the present city of Johns 
town which he, at the same time, founded. 

In the early spring of 1763 the new manor- 
house was completed, and Sir William moved 
into it, leaving Mount Johnson and the estate 
connected with it in possession of his eldest 
son and heir afterward Sir John Johnson 
then just arrived at the age of twenty-one. 
Johnson Hall was and is a large, commo 
dious mansion, and at that time the most im 
posing edifice west of the Hudson Eiver. It 
consisted of a main building of wood, weather- 

1 The total area was much more than 26,000 acres. But 
many settlers were already within its boundaries, having built 
houses and cleared farms. They had no valid titles, but Sir 
William gave them deeds for nominal consideration and did 
not disturb any of them. 


Sir William Johnson 

boarded in a fashion to resemble blocks of 
hewn stone much like Washington s resi 
dence at Mount Vernon. It had two wing- 
buildings in the same style of architecture, 
though smaller and built of stone. 

Sir William had by this time accumulated 
a large family. It consisted of his two 
daughters by Katharine Weisenburg Nancy 
and Mary then about twenty-two and twenty 
years old, respectively, the former recently 
wedded to Colonel Daniel Glaus, and the 
latter soon to be married to his nephew, 
Colonel Guy Johnson. Besides these his 
children born in wedlock there were Char 
lotte and Caroline Johnson, his half-breed 
daughters by Caroline Hendrick, these about 
fourteen and eleven years of age, respectively, 
and the five little half-breeds that Molly Brant 
had borne to him in the nine years of their 
life together. The sixth of Molly Brant s 
children, a girl named Mary, was born at 
Johnson Hall, not long after its occupation 
by the family. Sir William s half-breed son 
by Caroline Hendrick, young William John 
son, did not make his home at the mansion, 
but lived at Canajoharie, part of the time with 
his grandfather, the sachem Abraham, and 
part of the time with his uncle, "Little Abe." 
However, at this particular time, young Will- 

Pontiac s War 

iam Johnson was attending Dr. Wheelock s 
Academy at Lebanon, Conn., along with his 
cousin, Joseph Brant, who graduated in the 
spring of that year. 1 

It was at his new residence of Johnson 
Hall that Sir William received the first inti 
mations of Pontiac s conspiracy in the sum 
mer of 1763. He was not apprised of it until 
just before the storm burst. This was the 
first time in his twenty years experience in 
dealing with the Indians that the baronet had 
been taken off his guard. The secrecy with 
which Pontiac s plot had been hatched, con 
sidering its vast extent and thorough organi 
zation, was marvelous. For more than a year 
its arrangements had been in progress, car- 

1 Joseph Brant used to relate with much relish an anecdote 
of his high-spirited young half-breed cousin, who was seven 
or eight years his junior. Young Kalph Wheelock, the rev 
erend doctor s son, had a saddle pony, and one day, thinking 
to make young William Johnson "fag" for him, ordered the 
half-breed boy to go and saddle up the pony and bring it 
around to the door. "I won t do it," said young Johnson. 
"A gentleman s son, as I am, does not perform menial serv 
ice for the sons of common people ! " 

" What is a gentleman ? " inquired young Wheelock rather 

"A gentleman," quickly responded the young half-breed, 
" is a man who lives in a big mansion, has a great lot of land, 
keeps race horses, and drinks Madeira wine at his dinner 
and your father doesn t do a single one of those things I " 

Young Wheelock saddled the pony himself. 


Sir William Johnson 

ried out among many tribes, and covering a 
vast territory; yet, with all Sir William s 
elaborate system of information through his 
scouts, traders, and runners, the first out 
break took him completely by surprise. This 
outbreak was the attack on Detroit, the best 
fortified post west of Niagara. 

It was garrisoned by two companies of 
British regulars, having 128 men and 8 
officers, of Gage s light infantry. The first 
effort of Pontiac was to take it by stratagem, 
which was frustrated by the vigilance of 
Major Gladwyn, the commandant. The major 
had a pretty Chippewa half-breed girl as 
housekeeper and companion, and she, over 
hearing the conversations of the Indians in 
their own tongue, discovered their intentions 
and informed her protector just in the nick 
of time. Gladwyn at once took precautions, 
refused to admit the Indians inside the stock 
ade, and on the 7th of May, when they tried to 
force their way in, killed two of their chiefs 
with his own pistols right in front of the main 

Pontiac, observing that his plot was de 
tected, then settled down to a close siege, 
which was maintained, with many vicissi 
tudes, until November 15, when the Indians, 
worn out, dejected, and discouraged, not only 

Pontiac s War 

abandoned the siege, but sued for peace. 
Pontiac, deserted by Ms warriors, sullenly 
returned almost alone to his village, declaring 
his intention to try it again. 

Almost simultaneously with the attack on 
Detroit a large force of Ohio Indians Shaw- 
nees, Wyandots, Miamis, Delawares, and Min- 
goes invested Fort Pitt. The garrison at 
this post was four companies of the Eoyal 
Americans, and the real commandant was 
Major George Croghan, Deputy Superintend 
ent of Indian Affairs. As soon as tidings of 
the attack reached the settlements of Pennsyl 
vania, east of the mountains, General Am- 
herst sent Colonel Bouquet, with 500 regulars, 
mostly Highlanders, to raise the siege. Dur 
ing his march Bouquet was joined by 280 or 
300 Pennsylvania and Virginia frontiersmen. 
Among these was a company of about fifty, 
from the upper Potomac and Shenandoah val 
leys, who came up the Cumberland Valley and 
joined the expedition at Carlisle or where 
that town is now. There was nothing par 
ticularly remarkable about these fifty Vir 
ginia backwoodsmen, except that their cap 
tain was a man of the name of Daniel Mor 

They were nearly all hunters and trap 
pers ; men from whom the Indians themselves 

Sir William Johnson 

could learn lessons in woodcraft and the art 
of bush-fighting. 

The 5th of August, 1763, when Bouquet s 
force was within a few miles of the fort, the 
savages laid an ambuscade for him at a place 
called Bushy Run, on a plan much similar to 
the ambush into which Braddock had marched 
eight years before. But Bouquet was not 
Braddock. Apprised of this ambuscade by 
some of his Pennsylvania backwoodsmen, 
whom he kept in advance as scouts, he was not 
taken by surprise. The scout who first dis 
covered and reported the presence of the In 
dians in force was Lewis Wetzel, then a youth 
hardly twenty years old, but who subse 
quently became one of the most bloodthirsty 
and successful "Indian-killers " known to 
American history. A most desperate battle 
ensued, resulting in the total rout of the sav 
ages, who lost over 300 out of about 700. The 
loss of Bouquet s force was 8 officers and 115 
enlisted men killed or wounded, nearly one- 
third of the latter mortally. Bouquet then 
marched without further opposition to the 
fort, the besieging Indians fleeing down the 
river in their canoes. 

Several attempts against Fort Niagara 
were made by a force mainly composed of 
renegade Senecas, with some Ottawas and 

Pontiac s War 

Ohio Indians. They surprised and massa 
cred two or three small parties in the neigh 
borhood of the fort, but did not attempt to 
besiege it. While these events were in prog 
ress the Indians attacked, with more success, 
the smaller and slenderly garrisoned posts of 
Lebceuf, Venango, Presque Isle, St. Joseph, 
Maumee, Mackinaw, Sandusky, and St. 
Mary s, butchering their unfortunate garri 
sons almost to a man. 

However, before the end of 1763 the main 
force of Pontiac s rebellion was crushed, and 
though spasmodic outbreaks occurred for a 
year afterward, it never again assumed for 
midable proportions. General Amherst was 
disposed to deal in a conciliatory spirit with 
the Canadian Indians. But he was bitter 
ly incensed at the conduct of the Senecas, 
and informed Sir William, in the winter 
of 1763-64, that it was his intention in the 
early spring to take a force of regulars 
and Provincials which he proposed to com 
mand in person and, as he expressed it, 
"wipe forever from the face of the earth 
that faithless, cruel tribe, who have already 
too long debauched the good name of the 
Iroquois Confederacy by pretending to be 
long to it!" 

In a memoir of Lord Amherst, published 

Sir William Johnson 

anonymously in London in 1798, about a year 
after his death, appears the following : 

General Amherst objected to any fur 
ther negotiation with the Senecas. They were, he 
said, destitute of honor, faithless, treacherous, and 
a race of natural-born criminals and murderers. 
They cumbered the ground. He could make no use 
of them but exterminate them as a warning example 
to all other Indians. He at once formulated a gen 
eral order for concentration of all the British forces 
in North America against the Seneca nation. He 
called for 10,000 militia to be furnished by Massa 
chusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, 
Pennsylvania, and Virginia in appropriate quotas. 
Of the 11,000 British regulars then in the colonial 
garrisons he ordered 6,500 to take the field. He 
also directed that the services of friendly Indians, 
if proffered, should be declined, as this was to be 
purely a white man s war! He proposed to move 
against the Senecas in four columns. General Bou 
quet with the Pennsylvania and Virginia militia 
and the 700 regulars in the Ohio District alto 
gether about 3,500 strong was to move from Fort 
Pitt up the Allegheny River and French Creek to 
attack from the southwest. General Haldimand 
was to assemble at Fort Niagara .a force of 3,000 
regulars drawn from the Canadian garrisons and 
assail the Western Senecas. Sir William Johnson, 
with the New York and Connecticut militia and 500 
regulars altogether about 3,500 strong was to 

Pontiac s War 

move down the Susquehanna and up the Chemung 
against the southeastern towns. While General 
Amherst in person, with the Massachusetts and New 
Hampshire militia and 2,500 regulars, forming a 
force of about 6,000, was to invade the Seneca coun 
try from the east by way of the Mohawk Valley and 
Onondaga. " No male Seneca capable of bearing 
arms will be spared," he said. " The women and 
children will be taken prisoners and afterward dis 
tributed among the other tribes. The Seneca nation 
as an organized tribe must disappear ! Every habi 
tation in the Seneca country will be razed to the 
ground. Their crops will be destroyed and their 
live stock killed or driven off. It is my intention to 
destroy the tribe and completely desolate their 
country. After that is done their lands will escheat 
to the Crown and will at once be opened to white 

That General Amherst was able to accomplish 
his purpose is beyond question. The force he pro 
posed to mobilize was about 16,000. The total pop 
ulation of the Seneca nation was not more than 
10,000 or 11,000, and they could not, even by levy 
en masse, muster over 1,500 fighting men. In fact, 
any two of his proposed four columns of invasion 
could have crushed the tribe. That the Senecas 
merited condign punishment for their perfidy and 
cruelty is quite clea.r. But that they deserved the 
dire fate General Amherst threatened to visit upon 
them is not so apparent. 

There is, however, circumstantial evidence that 


Sir William Johnson 

the commander-in-chief did not intend to be as 
savage as his word. No militia was actually em 
bodied except the Mohawk regiment under Colonel 
Glaus and three independent companies of Scho- 
harie and the Susquehanna. The only movement of 
regulars was a transfer of the second battalion, Six 
tieth Royal American Foot, about 800 strong, from 
the garrison of Quebec to Oswego. Moreover, the 
tenor of General Amherst s orders was, by some 
mysterious agency, made known in the Seneca vil 
lages almost as soon as at the colonial capitals. . . . 
If, as seems plausible, it was a threat on a grand 
scale, the effect was all that could have been desired, 
because the Senecas abjectly sued for mercy and 
peace and never again made any trouble. 

Sir William vigorously opposed this pol 
icy. He declared that what the Senecas had 
done was not their act as a tribe, but the inde 
pendent, unauthorized, and much-regretted 
action of their bad or misguided young men. 
The Senecas, on their part, hearing of Gen 
eral Amherst s project, sued in the most 
abject manner for peace, and promised to 
deliver up the prime instigators of the de 
fection among them. Upon this, Amherst 
relented. They gave up to him nineteen of 
the " instigators," and after hanging two of 
the worst of them at Onondaga Castle, by 
way of an "object-lesson," the general aban- 

Pontiac s War 

doned his declared intention of "extermina 
ting the tribe " ! 

"In all my long and happy acquaintance 
with him," says Sir William in his journal, 
"this was the first time I ever saw General 
Amherst display real anger. But on this oc 
casion he was thoroughly roused, and all his 
usual placidity of temper seemed to have van 
ished. In truth, it was with difficulty at first 
I could induce him to listen to my expostula 

The hanging of the two sub-chiefs of the 
Senecas by General Amherst at Onondaga 
Castle was the first exhibition the Indians had 
seen of the Anglo-Saxon mode of punishing 
murderers. In order to make the spectacle 
more impressive, the general ordered the 
bodies of the culprits to be sunk in Onondaga 
Lake with stones tied about their necks, as 
food for the fishes. And he forbade any 
mourning or other funereal rites for them in 
the tribe, threatening to hang any one who 
should attempt to offer any rites to their 
memory. The fact is that, but for Sir Will 
iam s intercession, Amherst would have 
hanged the whole nineteen renegades who 
were delivered up to him. As it was, he took 
the other seventeen to New York and kept 
them in jail there until every vestige of Pon- 

Sir William Johnson 

tiac s conspiracy had disappeared. They 
were not released until Pontiac himself form 
ally surrendered in 1766. During their two 
years of imprisonment eight out of the seven 
teen died. The fates of these renegades 
cowed the Senecas for all time. 

It was, perhaps, fortunate for the restora 
tion of tranquillity between the white people 
and the Senecas, that General Amherst was 
appointed Governor of Virgina at the end of 
1763, and left the New York frontier in the 
spring of 1764 to take up his new duties 
shortly after the events just noted. His de 
parture left Sir William Johnson in complete 
control of the situation, and he soon succeeded 
in bringing the Senecas to a status of perfect 
obedience and amity. However, the un 
wonted spectacle of publicly hanging two of 
their chiefs on the same gallows was a lesson 
that sank deep into their memories. To them 
it was an infinitely severer punishment than 
even burning at the stake. " That way of kill 
ing a warrior with a rope," they said, "chokes 
him so he can not sing his death-song. He can 
sing his death-song at the stake, but not when 
he is being choked to death by a rope ! " 

As we have remarked, Pontiac himself did 
not surrender until 1766, nearly three years 
after the outbreak of his plot, and two years 

Pontiac s War 

after its complete suppression. Finally, 
after much negotiation and correspondence, 
Pontiac agreed to meet Sir William at Oswego 
to smoke the great calumet of peace and 
pledge his fealty to the King of England. On 
the 23d of July, 1766, the great chief and Sir 
William met face to face at Oswego. Stone 
gives a striking description of their meeting : 

As it was now the warmest of summer weather, 
the council was held in the open air, protected 
from, the rays of the sun by an awning of ever 
greens. . . . At one end of the leafy canopy the 
manly form of the Superintendent, wrapped in his 
scarlet blanket bordered with gold lace, and sur 
rounded by the glittering uniforms of British offi 
cers, was seen with hand extended in welcome to 
the great Ottawa, who, standing erect in conscious 
power, his rich plumes waving over the circle of his 
warriors, accepted the proffered hand with an air 
in which defiance and respect were singularly 
blended. Around, stretched at length upon the 
grass, lay the proud chiefs of the Six Nations, 
gazing with curious eyes upon the man who had 
come hundreds of miles to smoke the calumet with 
their beloved Superintendent. 

From Oswego Sir William went to Niag 
ara, where he held a grand council with dele 
gates from all the western and Ohio tribes 
that had been implicated in Pontiac s con- 
16 233 

Sir William Johnson 

spiracy. He was detained at Niagara for 
some time by delay in arrival of delegates 
from the tribes farthest west, and he says that 
he "took advantage of this waiting-spell to in 
dulge in his favorite sport of gunning for wild 
fowl which, at this time of the year, swarm 
upon the waters of the river, bay, and lake." 

Finally, in September, Sir William re 
turned to his home at Johnson Hall. 

The events just related practically ended 
his direct personal attention to Indian affairs. 
The treaties he made at Oswego and Niagara 
included every Indian tribe hitherto under 
French dominion or influence, together with 
the Ohio tribes Shawnees, Wyandots, Mia- 
mis, Mingoes, Delawares, and the remnant of 
the Piquas or Piankeshaws. Most of the 
southern Indians were also represented at the 
Niagara council; Cherokees from western 
North Carolina and northern Georgia ; Chick- 
as aws from what is now middle and northern 
Alabama; Yemassees from the uplands of 
South Carolina ; Catawbas from northwestern 
North Carolina and the southern part of what 
is now West Virginia. No delegates were 
present from the Creeks of southern and mid 
dle Alabama and Georgia, or from the Choc- 
taws and the Natches of what is now Missis 
sippi. Some of these latter tribes, notably 

Pontiac s War 

the Creeks and Choctaws, were still tinder the 
Spanish and French influence, yet dominant 
in Florida and Louisiana. But, on the whole, 
the era beginning with the surrender of Pon- 
tiac was one of peace between the two races 
that lasted until the outbreak of the Revolu 

The deputy-superintendent system worked 
well. To the three deputies already in office 
Croghan, Glaus and Guy Johnson Sir 
.William now added a fourth in the person of 
Colonel Thomas Polk, of Mecklenburg, N. C., 
who assumed charge of the southern tribes, 
with headquarters where the city of Augusta, 
Ga., now stands. 

From this time on the baronet retained 
under personal supervision only his faithful 
Mohawks, Oneidas, Oghwagas, and Tusca- 
roras. But these had almost ceased to be 
Indians. Most of them could speak English, 
and many of them could read and write. The 
Mohawks, now thoroughly intermingled with 
the white population of the valley that bears 
their name, had farms which they cultivated 
as thriftily as their white neighbors. In some 
what less degree the same was true of the Onei 
das. The Oghwagas and Tuscaroras in the 
Susquehanna Valley, from the Unadilla to 
Chenango Point, and in the Great Bend, had 

Sir William Johnson 

many fertile clearings, orchards, and com 
fortable log-cabins. In these tribes the sys 
tem of landholding was similar to that of the 
white people. Each Indian farmer owned 
and cultivated his separate farm. The west 
ern Iroquois Onondagas, Cayugas, and Sen- 
ecas had a good deal of land cleared and 
under cultivation, with numerous orchards, 
and for the most part lived in cabins made of 
logs, or wattles plastered with clay and roofed 
with bark. But these tribes still adhered to 
the ancient usage and cultivated their lands 
in common. All were tranquil and appar 
ently contented. Sir William had little to do 
in the official way but keep in touch with his 
deputies and watch the fruition of the work 
to which he had so long given his energies, 
and which he had conducted with such marvel 
ous skill, patience, and courage. He now had 
under his control, or within the scope of his 
official authority, nearly two hundred thou 
sand Indians. 

The state of civilized comfort which the 
Iroquois had reached in the eighteenth cen 
tury, though often described, is hardly real 
ized by modern readers. In 1765, after the 
suppression of Pontiac, the British Govern 
ment determined to make a road practicable 
for artillery and all kinds of wagon or sleigh 

Pontiac s War 

traffic from the upper Mohawk to Fort Niag 
ara. Sir William Johnson, being directed to 
make this road, organized a surveying party 
to lay out its route. The party consisted 
of Simon Metcalf, Philip Burlingame, Ezra 
Buell, James Ogden, and Sir William s half- 
breed son, William Johnson, who, having 
"graduated " at Dr. Wheelock s Lebanon 
Academy, had decided to learn the art of sur 
veying. In his Narrative, Ezra Buell de 
scribes several of the towns through which 
they passed. We select his description of the 
"Old Castle Town," at the foot of Seneca 
Lake, near the present site of Geneva, N. Y. ; 

Here, he says, is a clearing about two miles 
long and more than a mile wide, bounded on the 
southeast by the lake shore. In the midst of it, 
about 60 rods from the lake, is the Old Castle, a 
strong log building, with a parapet around the roof 
well loopholed for musketry and the whole sur 
rounded by a substantial log stockade. There is a 
spring inside the stockade and the whole structure 
will shelter a garrison of at least 300 to 350 men. 
From the Old Castle in both directions, east and 
west, is a broad street, I would say a hundred and 
fifty feet wide. On both sides of this thoroughfare 
are built, at distances of one or two hundred feet 
from each other, one-story log houses, having fire 
places with chimneys made mostly of wattles filled 
in with clay, though some are of stonework. In 

Sir William Johnson 

many of the fireplaces I noticed swinging cranes to 
hang kettles on, the same as in white people s houses. 
They have plenty of cooking utensils kettles, spi 
ders, skillets, Dutch ovens, and roasting-spits. In 
some houses the floors are of hard-beaten clay; in 
others of puncheons (split logs), neatly fitted and 
smoothed off, and deer and elk skins, tanned with 
the hair on, are made to serve as carpets. The 
houses are built one room wide and in lengths ac 
cording to the needs of the family. Some of them 
are four rooms in length, the rooms being generally 
from 12 to 14 feet square. The fireplace is usually 
in the middle room. 

The cleared land is tilled in common, each fam 
ily getting its share of the whole product. The 
crops are corn, pumpkins, melons, apples, pears, 
peaches, beans, and lately they raise some pota 
toes and turnips. They have a good many horses 
and a few cattle. But cattle need too much 
care and feeding in winter to suit the Indians. 
Besides, they have plenty of wild meat, and as they 
do not wish for milk, they have little need of cattle. 
In the village are 72 inhabited houses besides six 
log huts, roofed over, used as storehouses for corn 
and other provisions for winter. The total number 
of inhabitants is 427, of whom about 50 are half- 

An important article of food with them is fish, 
with which the lake and Seneca River actually 
swarm trout of several varieties, whitefish, pike, 
pickerel, and many other species. The Indians 


Pontiac s War 

catch them mostly by spearing in the night, with a 
light at the bow of their canoes, which attracts the 
fish to the surface. They use a three-pronged spear 
and are very expert with it. These fish they salt 
down or smoke such as they do not eat fresh. 
They get salt from the springs at Onondaga, where 
they go two or three times a year to make it by 
boiling the water in kettles or leaving it to evaporate 
under the hot sun in shallow troughs. Much of the 
timber about here is hard maple, from which they 
make quantities of molasses and some sugar of an 
inferior kind. They make cider by mashing apples 
in a large mortar and then letting the pulp or pum 
ice ferment in large troughs hollowed out of logs. 
When the pulp gets soft they squeeze out the juice. 
It seems to agree with them, but our party suffered 
diarrhea from drinking it. ... Altogether, the 
Senecas at Old Castle live as well as most of the 
white settlers in a new country. But I could see 
that they have no ambition for improvement beyond 
a certain point, as white settlers have. As soon as 
certain creature wants are satisfied they are done. 
Here, at Old Castle Town, they appear to have 
reached the end of their ambition and are content. 
The great war-chief, Cornplanter, lives here. He 
is the half-breed son of an old Indian trader by 
name of Abiel and a Seneca woman. Cornplanter s 
wife is a white woman, young and neat. He does 
not allow her to work, but keeps two or three squaws 
to be servants for her. He is a fine, stalwart fel 
low, very sensible, keeps open house for his friends, 


Sir William Johnson 

and is true to the King as steel. Here also resides 
the famous Council Chief, Kay-ag-sho-ta. He is 
reputed the best orator and wisest counselor in the 
Seneca nation. He always represents them in 
councils and conferences with the Government peo 
ple. He made some mistakes at the beginning of 
Pontiac s war, but his glib tongue has got him 
safely out of them ! 

Three families of white people live here. They 
are the agent for the Eastern Senecas, Captain Mc- 
Master, his wife and two children; the licensed 
trader, Mr. Forman, his wife and three children; 
and the gunsmith, a Switzer, by name Drepard. 
The gunsmith is the most important personage here. 
The Indians often bring their broken guns a hun 
dred miles to have him repair them. They have 
plenty of firearms. Every Indian able to carry a 
gun has one and some have two or three, taken from 
the enemy in the last war. A few of them have 
creased rifles, which they obtain in trading expedi 
tions down the Susquehanna, whither they often go 
as far as Lancaster in Pennsylvania. This gun 
smith was put here by Sir William Johnson through 
agreement with the Indians in 1759. His wife is a 
handsome young half-breed woman and they have 
one small child. . . . 

Most of the Indians here dress after the fashion 
of white people. The men wear blue or green 
hunting-shirts, braided and fringed, and cloth or 
deer-skin leggings and moccasins. They are fond 
of the uniform coats of British or Provincial sol- 


Pontiac s War 

diers. They do not wear the blanket as a garment, 
as wild Indians do, except in very cold weather. 

The women wear gaudy-colored jackets, pro 
fusely braided and beaded, and flannel petticoats 
reaching a little below the knee, with leggings of 
fawn-skin and moccasins. . . . 

The Post is half a mile east of the village on 
the lake shore. It has four good-sized log houses 
of two stories the agent s house, the trader s 
house, the trader s store, which also contains the 
gunsmith s shop, and the gunsmith s house all 
surrounded by a strong palisade of logs set deep 
in the ground. It is a busy place, many Indians 
from distant towns being always here to trade, or 
to see the agent, or get their guns mended. 

It is worthy of note that the trader s two clerks 
are both young Indians educated at Canajoharie, 
one a half-breed, the other a full-blood. 

About the time under consideration Sir 
William made a report to the Colonial Office 
in London, giving an enumeration of all the 
Indian tribes within his sphere of control or 
influence. This was in detail of the several 
tribes, and stated only the number of able- 
bodied men in each. But lie explained that 
the grand total of all ages and sexes could be 
ascertained by considering the number of able- 
bodied men or warriors as one to every ten. 1 

1 Not all of the able-bodied men in any Indian tribe were 
rated as warriors. A considerable number were always pro- 


Sir William Johnson 

The Six Nations and eastern Canadian In 
dians lie estimated at 3,960 warriors, indica 
ting a population of about 40,000. The Ot 
tawa Confederacy at 3,800 warriors, or 38,000 
total. The various branches of the Chippewa 
Nation at 4,000 warriors, or 40,000 in all. 
The southern Indians Cherokees, Creeks, 
Choctaws, Chickasaws, etc., at 6,000 warriors, 
or 60,000 all told. All other remnants of 
tribes, about 1,000 able-bodied men, or 10,000 
total population. No Indians living west of 
the Mississippi were included. In a note ap 
pended to this estimate Sir William said : 

West of the Mississippi and north of the Mis 
souri rivers are many large tribes subject to His 
Majesty s government by the territorial terms of 
the Treaty of Paris properly construed. But I 
must say it is quite evident to me that the framers 
of that treaty were in sore need of a scholar in 
geography. As for the numbers of these far-west 
ern tribes, I can get no accurate information. They 
have been visited only by the Jesuit Brothers and 
the French and half-breed voyageurs and coureurs 
des bois, none of whom pays much attention to sta 
tistical matters. All I can get from them is that 
many tribes inhabit that country, and some of them 

fessional hunters, and these never took the war-path in dis 
tant expeditions ; in fact, were not expected to fight unless 
in defense of their villages. On an average the professional 
hunters were about one-fifth of the able-bodied males. 


Pontiac s War 

are very numerous. The Jesuit Father, St. Martin, 
and his attendant, Jacques la Bute, whom I met 
at Detroit in 1761 and who interpreted for me 
there with the Hurons, jib ways, and other north 
western nations, had been as far to the northward 
and westward as the Mandan country a few years 
before. They believed there were more Indians 
west of the Mississippi than east of it; but said 
they were exceedingly primitive, had no fire-arms, 
and were not settled in more or less permanent vil 
lages like the Indians who live in the forest coun 
try to the eastward, but roamed in a nomadic fash 
ion over all the great treeless plains in that region. 
They declared their belief that these far-western 
Indians must be 250,000 in number. 

These estimates are probably the source of 
Professor Donaldson s calculation, that in the 
third quarter of the eighteenth century there 
were half a million Indians in North America, 
north of the Rio Grande and Gila rivers. 

After 1766, Sir William s life was, in the 
main, reposeful. His four deputies trans 
acted the business of their respective districts 
with signal ability and success. In 1768 Colo 
nel Polk accomplished the hitherto impossi 
ble task of making a treaty with the Creeks ; 
a transaction with which Sir William had 
nothing to do, except approve the action of his 
subordinate and secure the royal signature. 

Sir William Johnson 

The last great public work of the baronet s 
lifetime was completed also during the year 
1768. That was the ratification of a definite 
boundary between the territory of the Six 
Nations and the colony of New York, with an 
actual survey and delimitation known to 
history as the "Fort Stanwix Treaty Line." 
This line began at Wood Creek, near Fort 
Stanwix, ran thence southeast to the Forks of 
the Unadilla River; then followed that river 
to its confluence with the Susquehanna; then 
ran due south to the present site of Deposit, 
N. Y. ; thence southeast to the Pennsylvania 
line which was the Delaware River; thence 
west-northwest to the Susquehanna at Owego ; 
thence down the latter river to the mouth of 
Towanda Creek; and from that point it was 
projected in an air line on the point of com 
pass required to strike the confluence of the 
Allegheny and Monongahela at Fort Pitt or 
Pittsburg. This is the line traced on the map 
compiled with great care and accuracy by the 
author of The Old New York Frontier, Francis 
Whiting Halsey. It corresponds with the 
field-notes of Ezra Buell, who was assistant to 
the chief surveyor, Simon Metcalf. But Ezra 
says in his narrative that "the easterly jog in 
the line was never observed by the whites or 
insisted on by the Indians." As to purchase 




Sir William Johnson 

. IN 1768. 

Pontiac s War 

of lands, and actual settlement, he says the 
Susquehanna River formed the real bound 
ary, from the mouth of the Unadilla 1 to the 
mouth of Towanda Creek. "The purpose of 
the easterly jog in the line," Buell says, "was 
to include the Oghwaga and Tuscarora vil 
lages on the Susquehanna, between Cuna- 
hunta (now Oneonta) and Chugunut (now 
Choconut), within the Indian domain. But 
many whites were already there, a good part 
of them married to or living with Indian 
women, and the Oghwagas and Tuscaroras 
freely sold their lands to these whites. By 
1774 there were almost as many whites and 
half-breeds in this valley as full-blood In 

With the Fort Stanwix treaty and the run 
ning of the boundary-line consequent upon it, 
the active public career of Sir William John 
son in the broad sense practically ended. The 
rest of his life was devoted to study, cor 
respondence, the education of his children, 
and the general management of his personal 

1 Ezra Buell spells what we now call "Unadilla" "Tian- 
anderha," which was really the nearest equivalent in English 
letter sounds to the pronunciation of the name of the river in 
the Oneida dialect of the Iroquois tongue. Other forms of 
the word in early papers are Teyonadelhough, Cheunadilla, 
and Tunadilla, the latter being the spelling Joseph Brant 


Sir William Johnson 

estate. Occasionally he settled disputed ques 
tions between his deputies and the Indians 
within their jurisdiction; but such disputes 
seldom occurred. 

At the period now under consideration 
(1769) he received under charter from the 
king a tract of land known as the "Royal 
Grant." This land had previously been con 
veyed to him (in 1760) by the Council of Mo 
hawk Sachems for the consideration of 3,000 
in money and about as much more in merchan 
dise. But the grant was not approved by the 
king until 1769. It embraced all the land on 
the north bank of the Mohawk Eiver between 
the mouths of Cayadutta (now East Canada) 
and Canada (now West Canada) creeks. Its 
total area was something over 100,000 acres, 
but between 1760 and 1769 a good many set 
tlers had cleared and improved farms within 
its borders. Sir William at once gave quit 
claims to all these, at the rate of threepence to 
a shilling per acre, according to the value of 
their holdings by reason of location. 

When all these deductions were made, the 
"Kingsland Grant" 1 embraced about 90,000 

1 Most historians of this epoch adopt the legend that Sir 
William obtained this grant by what might be described as a 
"game of competitive dreaming" between him and old Hen- 
drick. The legend was that Hendrick, visiting him one day 


Pontiac s War 

acres. The next year (1770) Sir William 
acquired by purchase from the original pat 
entees under Governor Clinton, whose patents 
had been confirmed by the king in 1761, a tract 
embracing the valley of the Susquehanna 
from the mouth of Charlotte River to that of 
the Unadilla. This tract was twenty-three 
miles long by four miles wide two miles back 
from the river on each side and embraced 
about 92 square miles or, say, 58,000 acres. 
It was his intention to settle on this tract a 
numerous colony of Scotch-Irish emigrants 
from the counties Down, Armagh, and An 
trim. But he did not live to accomplish his 
purpose. The acquisition of this tract made 
him the largest landholder in America and 
perhaps in the world; his total possessions 

when he had on the uniform of a British major-general, in 
formed him that he (Hendrick) had dreamed the night before 
that he himself was clad in a uniform exactly like it. Sir 
William, the legend says, gave Hendrick a major-general s 
uniform. Then, visiting Hendrick a day or two afterward, 
he told the chief he had dreamed that the Mohawks gave him 
a tract of 100,000 acres of land. The legend further recites 
that Hendrick gave him the land, but said, "Don t let s dream 
any more ! " This is not a bad story ; but the fact is that the 
tract was not offered to Sir William by the Mohawk Council 
until 1760. Hendrick was killed at Lake George in 1755. 
The alleged "competitive dreaming" on his side therefore 
must have been done by his ghost! The real fact is that the 
legend was a pure invention from beginning to end. 

n 247 

Sir William Johnson 

amounted to about 200,000 acres, after buying 
up all the smaller patents embraced within 
the limits of the Royal Grant. 

Of this vast area all except the Susque- 
hanna tract was more or less improved, and 
the Mount Johnson and Johnstown tracts 
were, for those days at least, thickly settled. 
By 1770 the village of Johnstown, which he 
founded about 1760 or when he began build 
ing Johnson Hall had grown to be a smart 
little town of over a hundred dwellings and 
about 500 people, with several stores, black 
smith s, gunsmith s, and carpenter s shops, a 
good-sized flour-mill, two sawmills and a 
wagon-shop. It also had a flourishing manor- 
school, and an Episcopal chapel, both built 
wholly by the baronet. Two years later 
(1772), when Tryon County was formed from 
the western part of Albany County, Johns 
town was made the shire town, or county-seat. 

In 1770 Mary Brant bore to Sir William 
her last child. It was the ninth in seventeen 
years 1754-1770 inclusive. Eight of these 
lived, and one died quite young. The baronet 
was now fifty-five, and Mary Brant thirty-six 
years of age. Mary, though in her girlhood 
as trim-built and supple as a young deer, grew 
stout and matronly in her later years, but lost 
none of her charms of manner or vivacity of 

Pontiac s War 

spirit. General Scmiyler was a guest at 
Johnson Hall frequently between 1768 and 
1774, and in his papers he says : 

Mary Brant was a most accomplished mistress 
of such an establishment, and her numerous flock 
of little half-breed Johnsons forms as interesting 
a family as one can see anywhere. They attend 
the Manor school at Johnstown, and I am told 
they are among the smartest of the pupils. Sir 
William is exceedingly proud of them, and loses 
no opportunity of exhibiting their graces and 
acquirements to his guests. He intends to send 
his two half-breed boys to the new King s College 
in New York [now Columbia University], and the 
girls he will educate as they grow up in Mrs. Par- 
dee s school for young ladies at Albany. 

Among the last public enterprises of Sir 
William, and one in the success of which he 
found much satisfaction, was the introduction 
of the manufacture of rifles in New York. 
Prior to 1768 Lancaster, Pa., had practically 
monopolized the making of rifles in this coun 
try. The few that found their way into the 
hands of the New York settlers or Indians cost 
exorbitant prices. Sir William s experience 
had taught him that the rifle, either for hunt 
ing or for war, was much superior to the light 
smoothbore gun he himself had designed for 
the Indian and frontier trade twenty-five 

Sir William Johnson 

years before. He therefore determined to do 
mesticate rifle-making in the Mohawk Valley. 
But none of the gunsmiths there understood 
the art of rifling, and they were unwilling to 
undertake it. Not to be balked, Sir William 
induced several skilled rifle-makers to leave 
Lancaster and set up shops in New York. 
Among them were the Palm brothers, Jacob 
and Frederick, who established their shop at 
Old Esopus, Ulster County, and made excel 
lent rifles there for many years ; Henry Haw 
kins, who selected Schenectady for his place 
of business, and John Folleck, whose shop was 
at Johnstown. Hawkins was not only a great 
rifle-maker himself, but his sons and grand 
sons succeeded him in later years, establish 
ing shops at Rochester, Louisville, Detroit, 
and St. Louis, until, during the last quarter 
of the eighteenth and first half of the nine 
teenth century, the "Hawkins rifle " was as 
famous all through the West as the Win 
chester is now. 

Originally Sir William induced these pio 
neers of rifle-making to locate in New York 
by advancing money for the building of their 
shops and purchase of tools and then agree 
ing to take at a fixed price all their product 
that did not promptly find market elsewhere. 
This began in 1769. The market soon became 

Pontiac s War 

brisk and other rifle-makers came in. By 
1775 most of the settlers on the New York fron 
tier and many of the Indians had discarded 
their old smoothbores for the new rifles, and 
though the industry was only about six years 
old, New York was second only to Pennsyl 
vania in the manufacture of what we com 
monly term "the national American weapon." 
The author of this work has a Palm rifle, made 
in 1773, in perfect preservation, flint lock, and 
as effective now as it was when it left the shop. 
It is 40 inches long in the barrel which is 
octagonal 55 inches over all, full-stocked 
with curly-birch root, carries 45 spherical 
balls to the pound of lead, and weighs 10J 
pounds. It saw service in Morgan s Riflemen 
and was in the battle of Oriskany. 

Sir William s success in starting the manu 
facture of rifles in New York was as complete 
as in his other undertakings, and was due to 
the same causes : the energy which he always 
brought to bear on any project and the un 
stinted freedom with which he was willing to 
spend his money to accomplish his object; and 
in this respect it was immaterial to him 
whether the object was the public welfare or 
personal profit. 




AFTER concluding the Fort Stanwix treaty 
and supervising the running of the boundary 
line, which was completed in 1769, Sir William 
passed most of his spare time in reading, and 
in writing papers on public topics. He had 
accumulated one of the best private libraries 
in the colonies ; having begun to import books 
from England as early as 1740, or as soon as 
he had means of his own to afford it. At the 
end of his life he had over two thousand vol 
umes, which in those days was an extraordi 
nary private collection. 

To indicate generally the character of his 
selections, I give two orders, selected at ran 
dom from a number. These orders were sent 
to London in 1749. They embraced Sir Isaac 
Newton s complete works; Desagulier s 
Course of Experimental Philosophy, in two 
volumes, illustrated; Chambers s Dictionary, 
two volumes ; Battles of Alexander the Great, 

Sir William s Character and Death 

by LeBrun; Ehoderick Random; the Whole 
Proceedings in the House of Peers Against the 
Three Condemned Lords; Historical Review 
of Transactions in Europe from the Com 
mencement of the War with Spain ; the Gentle 
man s Magazine; the Family Magazine; A 
Large Globe; All Recent Pamphlets on Po 
litical or Scientific Subjects; Review of the 
Services of His Majesty s Navy Since the 
Accession of William III ; Life of the Duke of 
Marlborough, 3 volumes, by Ledyard; Mili 
tary History of Prince Eugene and the Duke 
of Marlborough, 2 volumes, by Campbell ; Life 
of William III, translated from the Dutch of 
Montanus; Life and Reign of King William 
III, by Harris ; History of France Under the 
Reign of Louis XIV, translated from the 
French of de Larrey ; Life of Louis XIII, by 
Howell; Life of Queen Anne, by Oldmixon; 
An Account of the Conduct of the Duchess of 
Marlborough, by Hooke ; Life of Peter the 
Great, 3 volumes, by Mottley; Life of the 
Prophet Mohammed (in Latin), by Gag- 
nier; Translation of the Koran (in Latin), 
with Notes, Anon. ; and lastly, Pictures of 
Some of the Best Running Horses at New 

Besides such special orders, from time to 
time, he had a standing order with the prin- 

Sir William Johnson 

cipal bookseller in London to send to him 
"all new books on History, Philosophy, and 
the Lives of Men Worth Heading About," as 
they came from the press. 

His own literary ability can be judged 
only by his voluminous correspondence. As 
a sample, I offer some extracts from a long 
and comprehensive letter written by him to 
Arthur Lee, at the request of the Royal Philo 
sophical Society, under date of February 28, 

g IR . JOHNSON HALL, Feb. 28, 1771. 

... I am apprehensive that any account in 
my power respecting inquiries amongst the unlet 
tered Indians will prove inadequate to the expecta 
tion formed in your letter; for, notwithstanding 
my long residence in this country, the nature of my 
office and the most diligent inquiries into these vari 
ous particulars, I find all researches of that sort, 
for which I shall give reasons presently, involved 
in such difficulty and uncertainty as to afford but 
slender satisfaction at least far short of my 
inclination to gratify your desires thereon. How 
ever, I shall endeavor to make some atonement by 
giving you some account of these difficulties, 
together with such other hints as, from the motives 
of enquiry suggested in your letter, may, I flatter 
myself, be of some use or amusement to you. 

It will be unnecessary to enlarge on the want 
of laws, government, letters, or such other particu- 

Sir William s Character and Death 

lars as are to be found in most authors who have 
treated of the American Indians. . . . 

I must therefore observe that the customs and 
manners of the Indians are in several cases liable 
to changes which have not been thoroughly con 
sidered by authors, and therefore the description 
of them at our particular period must be insuffi 
cient; and I must further premise that I mean to 
confine my observations to those of the Northern 
Nations, with whom I have the most acquaintance 
and intercourse. 

In all inquiries of this sort we should distin 
guish between the most remote tribes and those 
Indians who, from their having been next to our 
settlements several years, and relying wholly on 
oral tradition for the support of their ancient 
usages, have lost a great part of them and have 
blended some customs amongst ourselves, so as to 
render it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to 
trace those customs to their origin or to discover 
their application. Again those Indians who are a 
degree farther removed have still a good deal of 
intercourse with our traders, and having altered 
their system of politics, though they still retain 
many ancient customs, they are much at loss to 
account for them ; whilst those who are far removed 
from any intercourse with the whites (a few tra 
ders excepted) are still in possession of the greater 
part of their primitive usages. Yet these cannot 
give a satisfactory account of their original signifi 
cation ; and having so blended the whole with fable 


Sir William Johnson 

as to render it a matter of great difficulty to sepa 
rate truth from it. Add to this that above a cen 
tury ago they had French Jesuits among them 
who, partly for religious purposes, but chiefly to 
secure particular ends in the wars they often 
fomented, introduced some of their own inventions 
which the present generation [of Indians] con 
found with their ancient ceremonies. . . . 

With respect to your questions concerning the 
chief magistrate or sachem and how he acquires 
his authority, I am to acquaint you that there is 
in every nation a sachem or chief, who appears to 
have authority over the rest and it is greatest 
amongst the most distant nations. But in most of 
those bordering upon our settlements, the chief s 
authority is hardly discernible, he seldom assuming 
any power before his people. Indeed, this humility 
is judged the best policy; for, wanting coercive 
power, their commands would perhaps occasion 
assassination, which sometimes happens. 

The sachems of each tribe are usually chosen in 
a public assembly of the chiefs and warriors, when 
a vacancy happens by death or otherwise. They 
are generally chosen for their sense and bravery 
from among the oldest warriors and approved of 
by all the tribe, on which they are saluted sachems. 
There are, however, several exceptions; for some 
families have a kind of heredity in the office, and 
are called to this station sometimes in infancy. 

The chief sachem is so either by inheritance or 
by a kind of tacit consent, the consequence of his 


Sir William s Character and Death 

superior abilities and influence. The duration of 
his authority depends on his own wisdom, the num 
ber and consequence of his relations and the 
strength of his particular tribe (if in a Confed 
eracy). But in those cases where the office de 
scends (by inheritance) should the successor 
appear unequal to the task, some other sachem is 
sure to possess himself of the powers and duties of 
the station. I should have observed that military 
services are the chief recommendation to this rank. 
And it appears pretty clearly that heretofore the 
chief of a nation had in some small degree the au 
thority of a sovereign. This is now the fact among 
the most remote Indians. But, since the introduc 
tion of firearms they no longer fight in close 
bodies, but every man is his own general; and I 
am inclined to think that this is calculated to lessen 
the power of a chief. . . . 

The chief sachems form the Grand Council and 
those of each tribe often deliberate apart on the 
affairs of their particular tribe. All their delibera 
tions are conducted with extraordinary regularity 
and decorum. They never interrupt him who is 
speaking or use harsh language, whatever may be 
their thoughts. 

The chiefs assume most authority in the field, 
but this must be done even there with extreme cau 
tion. . . . 

They are severe upon those guilty of theft, (a 
crime indeed uncommon among them) ; and in 
cases of murder the relatives are left to take what- 


Sir William Johnson 

soever revenge they please. In general they are 
unwilling to inflict capital punishments. 

On their hunts, as on all other occasions, they 
are strict observers of meum and tuum and on this 
pure principle, holding theft in contempt, they are 
rarely guilty of it though tempted by articles of 
much value or ardently coveted. Neither do the 
strong oppress the weak or attempt to seize their 
prey of the chase or anything else of their property. 
And I must do them the justice to say that unless 
heated by liquor or inflamed by revenge, their 
ideas of right and wrong and their practices in 
consequence of them would, if more known, do 
them much honor. . . . 

As to your remark on their apparent repug 
nance to civilization, I must observe that this is not 
owing to any viciousness of their nature or want 
of capacity, as they have a strong genius for arts 
and uncommon patience. I believe they are put in 
English schools too late in life and sent back too 
soon to their people, whose political maxim, Spar 
tan-like, is to discountenance all pursuits but war, 
holding all other knowledge as unworthy the dig 
nity of man and tending to enervate and divert 
them from that warfare on which they conceive 
their liberty and happiness depend. Such senti 
ments constantly instilled into the minds of youth 
and illustrated by examples drawn from the con 
temptible state of domesticated tribes, leave lasting 
impressions that can hardly be eradicated by an 
ordinary school education. . . . 


Sir William s Character and Death 

With regard to language, there is so remarkable 
a difference between the tongue of the Iroquois and 
all the rest, as to afford some ground for inquiry 
as to their distinct origin. The Indians north of 
the St. Lawrence and north and west of the Great 
Lakes and those who live in the Valley of the Ohio, 
notwithstanding the differences between them in 
other respects, speak a language radically the same, 
and can, in general, communicate their wants to 
each other, while the Iroquois who live in the midst 
of them are incapable of conveying a single idea 
to their neighbors; neither can they pronounce a 
word of their language correctly. There is some 
difference in dialect among the nations of the Iro 
quois themselves, but there is little more than may 
be found in the different provinces of large states 
in Europe. . . . 

I am Sir, your very Humble Servant 


We have reproduced the foregoing rather 
as a sample of Sir William s literary style 
than for the sake of the information it con 
tains. All the facts stated in it are well 
known now ; but they were not so familiar to 
the reading public in 1771. Only about one- 
third of the whole letter appears above. It 
was, in fact, a paper, and was printed as such 
in the Proceedings of the Philosophical Soci 
ety. Most modern critics would call the style 
somewhat involved and, perhaps, ponderous; 

Sir William Johnson 

but after all Sir William managed to make 
his points clear. 

Sir William Johnson, though not college- 
bred, as intimated in the first chapter, was 
well educated. He was particularly well 
versed in Latin, and his library was well 
stocked with the classics of that tongue, and 
also with more modern works written in it. 
He often received letters in Latin from 
French priests in Canada, after the conquest, 
because they could not write English and he 
could not read French. It was his habit to 
make notes of his own and attach them to all 
important letters when he put them on file; 
and examination of his manuscripts showed 
that his notes on the letters in Latin were al 
ways in that language. He was an excep 
tionally good mathematician, and could make 
and plot a land survey as well and as accu 
rately as any professional surveyor. 

Though he never had the slightest military 
training in his youth, and though his first 
actual experience in warfare was the com 
mand of a considerable force, he "took to the 
trade " intuitively, and became, by great odds, 
the ablest and most successful of all the Pro 
vincial generals, excepting, perhaps, Sir Will 
iam Pepperell. In battle he exhibited the 
most daring bravery, but in the general han- 

Sir William s Character and Death 

dling of his troops, maneuvring, etc., he was 
cool and cautious, even to the extent as some 
of his contemporaries thought of over-pru 

On this point, however, he used to say him 
self that, as he had large responsibilities of 
command thrust upon him without adequate 
military experience or training, he was often 
in doubt ; and when so situated, always deter 
mined that any error he might commit should 
be on the safe side ! " I was always," he once 
said, "on the lookout for an ambush, and was 
resolved that, whatever else my fate might 
be, it should not be that of Braddock ! " 
When commanding Indians he always let 
them fight their own way; never attempting 
to do anything except encourage them by his 
presence and example. Leading white troops 
he observed the tactical methods then in 
vogue ; but in woods-fighting was much more 
flexible in his generalship than British regu 
lar officers usually were. 

On this point General Amherst once said 
to another British officer of high rank Gen 
eral Gage "We can all learn something from 
Johnson in the style of fighting we have to 
practice here ! " 

In the ordinary affairs of life he was so 
ciable, free from pretension, easy in manner, 

Sir William Johnson 

decorous in speech, and temperate in all 
things. Singular as his domestic relations 
were for the greater part of his life, he was 
always devotedly attached to his home, and 
exceedingly fond of his Indian companions 
and of their half-breed children. In business 
matters he was shrewd, but invariably honest 
to a penny, and withal a generous creditor. 
His benevolence was proverbial, and no other 
man in the colonies during his time gave half 
as much in charity as he did. Though form 
ally a member of the Church of England, he 
viewed other creeds with equal favor, and 
built several chapels for his Lutheran neigh 
bors or tenants, besides mission school- 
houses for missionaries of other denomina 
tions than his own. He was not very strict in 
his own religious observances, but always 
insisted that his family particularly his 
girls, white and half-breed alike should be 
close Conformists in all the rites and ceremo 
nies of the Protestant Episcopal Church. 

His favorite pastimes were gunning, fish 
ing, and horse-racing. He was in the habit 
of inviting the whole countryside either to 
Mount Johnson or Johnson Hall several 
times a year for all kinds of athletic sports, 
of which his own favorites were boxing and 
wrestling at both of which, in his younger 

Sir William s Character and Death 

days, he was exceedingly expert and formi 
dable. On one occasion a militia company 
in his own regiment, when electing officers, 
voted a tie for the position of second lieu 
tenant. They appealed to him to decide. 
"Let them strip," he said, "and box it out. 
I want the best man to have the commis 

On the whole and without further anal 
ysis, we think it clear that Sir William John 
son possessed a masterful mind, of quick in 
tuitions and wide versatility; fertile in 
resource and keen in perception; prompt in 
decision and tremendously energetic in execu 
tion. Not, perhaps, amounting to what is 
rather indefinitely termed "genius," but well- 
balanced, steady, and safe. 

There can be no doubt that Sir William s 
last years were made gloomy by the growing 
contentions and rapidly widening breach be 
tween the colonies and the mother country. 
Politically, he was an ardent Whig, and as 
such naturally opposed the policies of the 
Grenville and North ministries toward the 
colonies. But in his public utterances and in 
his correspondence at the time he was con 
servative to the point of being non-committal. 
In a letter to General Gage, dated September, 
is 263 

Sir William Johnson 

1765, after deploring the "riotous conduct" 
of certain colonists, he says : 

Having a large property to lose I cannot be 
supposed to think differently from the real inter 
ests of America ; yet, as a lover of the British Con 
stitution, I shall retain sentiments agreeable to it, 
although I should be almost singular [alone] in 
my opinion, and I have great reason to think that 
the late transactions and what is daily expected 
in other Colonies, will be productive of dangerous 
consequences. But I do not enter into their de 
bates nor suffer myself to be led by artful con 
structions of the law. 

A more significant expression occurs in a 
subsequent letter to Dr. Cadwallader Golden, 
where he uses the more epigrammatic, though 
still ambiguous, phrase: "For my part, I 
neither wish us here more power than we can 
make good use of, nor less liberty than we 
have a right to expect." 

In another letter he "congratulates his 
correspondent on the repeal of the Stamp 
Act," and in another says: "Unless they alter 
the Stamp Act, we shall all be Republicans ! " 

General Schuyler, whom he visited at Al 
bany in 1773, on the occasion of placing two of 
his half-breed daughters in a private semi 
nary there, records him as "using language 
concerning the attitude of the ministry, and 

Sir William s Character and Death 

also its personal make-up, which I should have 
hesitated to use myself ! " But Schuyler does 
not quote him doubtless because it was a 
dinner-table conversation. In April, 1774, 
he visited New York city, and said to Philip 
Livingston, in the course of a friendly chat : 

If the Colonies unite in revolt and the people 
are unanimous or nearly so in it, I do not be 
lieve the Crown can subdue them. The regular 
troops will find it very different if they have our 
Old Provincials against them instead of with them. 
I believe, notwithstanding the extreme lengths to 
which the troubles have proceeded, there is yet one 
chance left for reconciliation. But I fear it can 
never be accomplished by His Majesty s present 
advisers ! 

His last recorded utterance on the subject 
was early in July, 1774, not more than a week 
before his death. Dr. Wheelock was visiting 
him, as he habitually did during vacations. 
The doctor records him as saying : 

All this trouble must lead to blows before long. 
A serious collision may happen any day now. The 
Colonists cannot retreat, and the King, apparently, 
will not. I am filled with forebodings. I dread the 
coming of a struggle that must shake the British 
Empire to its foundations. For my part I can 
only say now that I shall not be found on the side 
of the aggressor! 


Sir William Johnson 

Governor Seymour, who had seen the 
above in the Wheelock MSS. and copied it, in 
terpreted it as a guarded declaration of intent 
to espouse the American cause, and invariably 
expressed the belief that he would have done 
so had he lived to hear the news from Bunker 

The nearest approach to positive testi 
mony that I have ever seen occurs in a state 
ment made by Colonel Daniel Glaus, Sir Will 
iam s son-in-law, which has never before been 
published, so far as I know, and for a copy 
of which I am indebted to W. Max Reid, au 
thor of the History of the Mohawk Valley. 

For brevity I may premise that after their 
defeat at Oriskany and the slaughter they suf 
fered there, followed so closely by the sur 
render of Burgoyne, the Iroquois became 
deeply dejected, and many of them, particu 
larly the Senecas and Cayugas, seriously con 
templated neutrality, if not making terms with 
the American colonists and abandoning the 
British cause. This situation called forth all 
the resources of the great chief, Joseph Brant, 
to keep the Indians faithful to the king. On 
this subject Colonel Claus says : 

Brant was ably seconded in his efforts by the 
tears and prayers of his sister Molly, who had been 
driven from her home at Danube by the enraged 

Sir William s Character and Death 

Americans after the battle of Oriskany. The 
Americans had not expelled Molly in 1776 at the 
time the Royalists were driven out, but had left 
her in peace at the Indian Castle at Danube, where 
she took up her residence with her family, when 
Sir John Johnson occupied Johnson Hall after the 
baronet s death. 

Shortly after the battle of Oriskany the Amer 
icans found out that when St. Leger and Brant 
were besieging Fort Schuyler, Molly sent a mes 
sage by an Indian runner warning Brant that a 
body of nearly a thousand Militia under General 
Herkimer were on the march to relieve the garri 
son of that Fort. She was then obliged to leave 
the Mohawk Valley, and she went for safety among 
the Five Nations, where she was assisted by her 
brother and the people, and among whom she took 
asylum. Every one of them pressed her to stay 
with them, but she fixed upon Cayuga as the center, 
and having relations among them by whom she was 
kindly received. After General Burgoyne s sur 
render she found them, in general, very fickle and 
wavering, particularly the Head Chief of the 
Senecas, Cayenguorrahton, with whom she had a 
long conversation in council. She reminded the 
Chief of the great friendship between him and the 
late Sir William Johnson, whose name she could 
never mention without tears, which always greatly 
affect the Indians. 

She told the Chief that she had often heard 
Sir William declare his fixed intention to live and 


Sir William Johnson 

die a firm adherent of the King of England and all 
his friends ; together with other striking arguments, 
which had such an effect upon the Chief and other 
Sachems present that they promised henceforth 
truthfully to keep their engagements with her late 
friend the Baronet; for she is considered and 
esteemed by them as his relict, and one word from 
her would go further than a thousand from any 
white man whatever, because the white man must 
generally purchase the friendship of the Indians 
at a high rate. In fact they attached much more 
importance to her advice than even to that of her 
brother Joseph, whose prominence, zeal and activ 
ity rather occasioned envy and jealousy with many 
of the Indians. 

It is fair to presume that Colonel Glaus 
reported Molly s interview with the Seneca 
chief correctly. There might, perhaps, be 
some question as to Molly s own accuracy in 
quoting Sir William, or in the representations 
she made of his opinions and his decision. 
She was at that time undoubtedly in a most 
revengeful mood toward the Americans. She 
desired, above all things, that the Indians 
should remain true to the cause of the king. 
She realized that nothing but the success of 
the Royal cause could restore to her and 
her children the fortune bequeathed to them 
in Sir William s will. Under these condi 
tions she may have been, and probably was, 

Sir William s Character and Death 

what the lawyers called an interesting wit 

Yet, if Sir William ever expressed any 
such views, she was quite as likely to hear 
them as any other person then living. It may 
be mentioned as a strange fact in connection 
with this matter, that neither Sir William s 
son, Sir John Johnson, nor his two sons-in- 
law, Colonel Glaus and Guy Johnson, ever 
pretended to have heard him make any posi 
tive expression on the subject. 

Whatever deductions we may draw from 
this conflicting testimony, one thing alone is 
certain : to the day of his death he held scru 
pulously aloof from the debates and the coun 
cils of both sides, taking no part whatever in 
the agitation; and he was invariably equally 
kind and hospitable to the Sons of Liberty, 
and to the officials of the Crown. If he had 
really made up his mind, he took his decision 
with him to the tomb. 

For my own part, I venture no opinion. 
But it seems quite justifiable to say that had 
he lived and adhered to the American cause, 
the fate of the "Old New York Frontier," in 
respect to the warfare of Indians and Tories 
on the settlers, would have been vastly differ 
ent from what it was ; because the only man 
who could have swerved the Iroquois from 

Sir William Johnson 

their ancient covenant with the king was Sir 
.William Johnson. 

He died as he had lived in harness. On 
the llth of July, 1774, he made a long speech 
nearly two hours to about six hundred 
Indians, mostly Iroquois, who had assembled 
at Johnson Hall to invoke his influence to pre 
vent the invasion of the Indian country on the 
Ohio known as "Dunmore s War," which cul 
minated in the defeat and destruction of a 
considerable force of Indians mostly from 
the Ohio tribes under the chief, Cornstalk, 
by a superior army of Virginia, Maryland, 
and Pennsylvania frontiersmen under Gen 
eral Andrew Lewis at Point Pleasant the 
confluence of the Ohio and Great Kanawha 

He was at this time much weakened by 
dysentery, and exposure to an extremely hot 
sun, together with the excessive mental and 
physical strain of the long speech, brought on 
prostration by heat, which soon developed into 
cerebral apoplexy. He died at six o clock P. M., 
July 11, 1774, about two hours after finishing 
his speech. His last words were spoken to 
Joseph Brant, who, with others, carried his 
limp form into the Hall. They were: "Jo 
seph, control your people control your peo 
ple ! I am going away ! " 

Sir William s Character and Death 

These words, spoken to Brant in the Iro- 
quois tongue, were echoed through every 
village of the Six Nations, from the Lower 
Mohawk Castle to Niagara. Unquestionably 
they, more than any other influence or more 
than all other influences combined caused 
the almost unanimous election of Brant to be 
grand sachem or senior chief of the Iroquois 
Confederacy not long afterward. The Indi 
ans interpreted the words to mean that Sir 
William, with his latest conscious breath, be 
queathed his mantle to Joseph Brant, and the 
magic of his power over them was not im 
paired by death itself. 

Sir John Johnson was at his home the 
Mount nearly ten miles away, when his 
father was stricken. An express sent by the 
hands of young William Johnson, the half- 
breed son, mounted on the fleetest horse in Sir 
William s racing-stable, reached Sir John 
about five o clock young William ruining the 
blooded horse he rode. Sir John instantly 
saddled his own best race-horse an Irish 
steeplechaser named Royal Duke, the most 
valuable stallion then in the colonies and 
covered nine miles of the distance in thirty 
minutes. The steeplechaser fell dead with 
in a mile of Johnson Hall, and Sir John 
borrowed the horse of a farmer who hap- 
is* 271 

Sir William Johnson 

pened to be in the road when his own stal 
lion fell, and soon arrived at the Hall. But 
his father, though still breathing, was un 
conscious, and in a few minutes passed 




Life of Sir William Johnson . 

Life of Sir William Johnson . 

Life of Sir William Johnson . 

Life of Sir William Johnson (Canadian) . 

Life of Joseph Brant .... 

The Old New York Frontier . 

The Mohawk Valley 

History of Herkimer County . 

History of Chenango County . 

History of Otsego County 

History of the Five Nations 

History of Herkimer County . 

A Voyage to North America, 1772 . 

Memoir of Rev. Dr. Wheelock 

Dr. Wheelock s Narrative of the Indian 

School at Lebanon, Conn. . 
Settlement of the Genesee Country . 
Gazetteer of New York State, 1821 . 
Historical Gazetteer of New York, 1860 
History of Schoharie County . 
Narrative of Mary Jemison 
Life of Mary Jemison . 
Annals of Tryon County . 
Early Times on the Susquehanna . 
Montcalm and Wolfe .... 
Pontiac s Conspiracy . 
History of Braddock s Expedition . 
Narrative of Ezra Buell . . . . 
New York Colonial Documents 
History of Montgomery County 


William L. Stone. 

William E. Griffis. 



William L. Stone. 

Francis W. Halsey, 

W. Max Reid. 




Cadwallader Golden. 


Peter Kalm. 






Jephtha R. Simms. 



Wm. W. Campbell. 

Mrs. Perkins. 

Francis Parkman. 




Public Print. 


Sir William Johnson 

The Iroquois League .... 
Eight Years in America. Journal of an 

Officer s Wife 

Narrative of James Smith. Six Years 


Journal of Jean Franois Joncaire . 
Journal of Father Joliet .... 
Journal of Father Moline 
Journal of George Washington. Ohio 


Journal of Captain Orme. Braddock s 


Reports of the Marquis Duquesne. 

Operations in New France, 1753-1755 . 
History of New France. (Histoire de la 

Nouvelle France) 

The Holy Cross in America. Collection 

of Narratives of Jesuit Fathers . 
Life of General John Stark 
Life of General John Stark 
History of the Seneca Nation . 
Rites and Social Customs of the Iroquois. 

(By a daughter of Sir William Johnson) 
Public Correspondence of Sir William 


History of the Fur Trade 

Half a Century of Conflict 

Essays of Voltaire. 

The Defeat of Braddock .... 

Memoir of Father Picquet 
The Montours, Mother, Sons, and Grand 
sons ....... 

Memoir of the Comte de Frontenac 

Diary of Admiral Sir Peter Warren . -j 

Sketch of Sir William Pepperell 
Journal of Dr. Williams, with Letters to 

his Wife 


Lewis H. Morgan. 
Mrs. Julia Grant. 


St. Martin. 


Caleb Stark. 
Edward Everett. 

Mrs. Kerr. 

Sir John Johnson. 


Francis Parkman. 


By his Grandson. 
Navy Records Soci 
ety, of England. 



A BERCROMBIE, General James, 

-- in French war, 163, 164 ; at 
tack on Fort Ticonderoga, 165, 

Abraham, Chief, 44, 49, 52, 54 ; at 
Albany conference, 65. 

Aix-la-Chapelle, treaty of, 1748, 33, 
38, 114. 

Albany, grand council at, 62 ; visit 
of chiefs to Governor Clinton at, 
78 ; convention of Colonial dele 
gates at, in 1754, 89. 

Alexandria, Va., conference of Co 
lonial governors with General 
Braddock at, 133. 

Amherst, General Sir Jeffrey, 161 
note, 169 ; character and ability, 
181 ; takes Louisburg, 180; orders 
respecting Colonial officers, 181 ; 
capture of Ticonderoga and 
Crown Point, 182, 184, 192 ; cam 
paign against Montreal, 197 ; 
capitulation of Montreal, 202 ; 
plans expedition against Louisi 
ana, 208 ; bitterness toward the 
Senecas, 227 ; raised to the peer 
age, 207 ; compliments Sir Will 
iam Johnson, 192 ; opinion of Sir 
William Johnson, 261. 

Amsterdam, N. Y., 13. 

Anasthose, Chief, in command of 
Indians at Braddock s defeat, 106, 

Anne, Queen, reign of, 2. 


Austrian Succession, War of the, 
effect on American colonies, 31. 

TDARCLAY, Mrs., 48. 

-L* Beaujeau, Captain, 120; de 
feats Braddock, 127. 

Blanchard, Colonel J. A., 137. 

Boquet, Colonel Henry, relieves 
Fort Pitt, 225. 

Boscawen, Admiral Edward, 168. 

Braddock, Major-General Edward, 
chosen for the American com 
mand, 124 ; arrival in America, 
124 ; reappoints Sir William John 
son, 125 ; plans for the campaign, 
133 ; campaign, defeat, and death, 
126 ; Braddock s defeat, effect on 
the colonies, 156 ; effect on Indi 
ans, 137. 

Brant, Joseph, 20, 48, 53, 69 note ; 
education, 223 ; in campaign 
against Crown Point, 139 ; at 
Lake George, 159 ; in Fort Ni 
agara campaign, 189 ; in St. Law 
rence campaign, 200 note ; after 
battle of Oriskany, 266 ; final ad 
vice of Sir William to, 270. 

, Mary, relations of Sir William 
Johnson with the Indian woman, 
48, 52, 55, 61, 248 ; after battle of 
Oriskany, 266. 

, Chief Nicklaus, 44, 49, 53, 57 ; 
on Seneca expedition, 86 ; suc 
ceeds Hendrick, 158 ; after Ger- 


Sir William Johnson 


man Flats massacre, 176 ; in Fort 

Niagara campaign, 189. 
Buell, Ezra, 21, 237, 244. 
, Simon, 20. 
Butler, John, 22. 
Byrne, Michael, 53. 

/"CANADA, French, population of, 

^-^ 94 ; commercial records of, 
99 ; preparations for the war in, 

Caroline (Hendrick), relations of 
Sir William Johnson with the In 
dian woman, 44, 49, 61 ; death, 57. 

Cayugas, 28, 58, 65 ; disaffection of, 
176 ; conference at Mount John 
son in 1758, 183. 

Claus, Colonel Daniel, deputy su 
perintendent of Indian affairs, 
219, 222, 235 ; on Sir William s at 
titude toward the Revolution, 266. 

Clauzun, Mile., marries Jean Fran- 
gois Joncaire, 106. 

Clauzun-Joncaire, Jean Francois, 
106, 132 note. 

Clinton, George, Governor of New 
York, 15 ; correspondence with 
Sir William Johnson on Indian 
question, 15, 25, 29, 34; Albany 
conference, 64; and Hardenburgh 
affair, 74 ; receives delegation to 
protest Sir William Johnson s 
resignation as superintendent of 
Indian affairs, 78. 

Clinton, General Sir Henry, 15. 

Cole, Lieutenant-Colonel, at Lake 
George, 146. 

Colonial troops, value of, 157 ; con 
trasted with French Canadian 
militia, 111 ; at first capture of 
Louisburg, 33 ; in Braddock cam 
paign, 126 ; in campaign against 
Crown Point, 136 ; under Sir Jef 
frey Amherst, 181. 

Colonies, English, in America, in 
1715, 3, 93. 


Colonies, French, in America, 93. 

Contrecoeur, Captain, receives sur 
render of Captain Trent, 84 ; at 
Fort Duquesne, 130. 

Cornplanter, Chief, domestic life of, 

Croghan, Major George, in com 
mand at Fort Pitt, 225 ; deputy 
superintendent of Indian affairs, 
219, 235. 

Crown Point, movement of 1746 
upon, 32 ; of 1747, 34 ; expedition 
for the reduction of, 134 ; Mont- 
calm at, 171 ; captured by Gen 
eral Amherst, 182, 184, 192. 

Cumberland, Duke of, Commander- 
in-chief of British army, 122, 179 ; 
praise of Sir William Johnson, 

D AUBREY, Colonel. French 
commander, defeated at Ni 
agara by Sir William Johnson, 

De Jumonville, French command 
er, Washington s fight with, 84. 

De Lancey, James, Chief-Justice, 
23, 25 ; the Hardenburgh affair, 74. 

, Stephen, 9, 23. 

, Susan (Lady Peter Warren), 9 

Detroit, Sir William s visit to, 108 ; 
grand council at, in 1761, 212 ; 
Pontiac s attack on, 224. 

De Vaudreuil, Marquis, Governor- 
General of Canada, 143 ; in com 
mand at Montreal, 197, 202. 

De Villiers, French commander, re 
ceives capitulation of Fort Neces 
sity, 85. 

Dieskau, Baron, attack upon Sir 
William Johnson at Lake George, 
143 ; after battle of Lake George, 

Dinwiddie, Robert, Governor of Vir 
ginia, 84. 




Donaldson, Professor, quoted, 50, 

Dunbar, Colonel Thomas, 123, 126. 

Dunmore s War, 270. 

Duquesne, Marquis, Governor-Gen 
eral of Canada, 94, 117, 120. 

T71NGLAND, colonies in America, 
-L^ 3, 93 ; claim to the Ohio Valley, 

81 ; preparations for the French 

War, 122. 

Tj^OLLECK, John, rifle-maker, 

-JP 250. 

Fontenoy, battle of, 119. 

Forbes, General John, captures 
Fort Duquesne, 1C9, 180. 

Fort Cumberland, 126. 

Fort Duquesne, 121 ; captured by 
General Forbes, 180. See Fort 

Fort Edward, site of, 39 ; estab 
lished, 138 ; General Webb at, 165. 

Fort Le Boeuf, 87, 121 ; massacre 
at, in Pontiac s War, 227. 

Fort Necessity, capitulation of, 85, 

Fort Pitt, 219 ; attack on, in Ponti- 
ac s War, 225. See Fort Du 

Fort Stanwix, 86. 

Fort Stanwix Treaty Line of 1769, 
22, 244. 

Fort William Henry, demonstra 
tion against, 171 ; capture and 
massacre at, 172, 165. 

France, colonies of, in America, 93 ; 
claim of, to the Ohio Valley, 81 ; 
preparations for the war, 117. 

Frontenac, Comte de, 68 note ; at 
Schenectady massacre, 175. 

GAGE, General Thomas, in com 
mand at Oswego, 193 ; in 
Montreal campaign, 204. 
German Flats, massacre of, 175. 


Gist, Christopher, explores the 
Ohio, 84 

Gladwyn, Major, in command at 
Detroit, 224. 

Grant, Mrs. Julia, visit to Mount 
Johnson, 43. 

Great Meadows, Washington s 
skirmish at, 84. 

Griffis 1 s, " Life of Sir William John 
son, 11 quoted, 59. 

HALF-BREEDS, importance of, 
in French war, 113. 

Halket, Sir Peter, 123, 126. 

Hardenburgh, Sir William John 
son 1 ^ affair with representative, 

Haviland, Colonel, in Montreal 
campaign, 197, 202. 

Hawke, Sir Edward, in French 
War, 168. 

Hawkins, Henry, rifle-maker, 250. 

Hendrick, Chief, 36, 44, 52, 54, 65 ; 
protests against Sir William 
Johnson^ resignation, 78 ; in 
campaign against Crown Point, 
139 ; death of, at Lake George, 
145, 158. 

, Caroline. See Caroline (Hen 

Hi-o-ka-to, chief of Senecas, 63, 72 ; 
visit to, 86 ; in campaign against 
Crown Point, 137 ; in Fort Niagara 
campaign, 189 ; in St. Lawrence 
campaign, 199 note. 

Holborn, Admiral, 174. 

Howe, Sir Richard, 168. 

TNDIAN affairs, condition of, in 
-- early eighteenth century, 14 ; 
Sir William Johnson s service in, 
16, 25 ; superintendent of, 34 ; re 
signs, 77 ; reappointed by Brad- 
dock, 125. 

Commissioners, Board of, 26 ; 
abolished, 34. 


Sir William Johnson 


Indians, customs and habits, 44, 57, 
254 ; domestic life, 19 ; number, 
241 ; hospitality, 85 ; missions to, 
27, 101 ; French and English 
methods of dealing with the In 
dians, 97 ; in first campaign 
against Crown Point, 36, 38 ; in 
French War, 97, 100, 107 ; under 
French at Braddock^s defeat, 
129 ; assembly at Mount Johnson 
in 1755, 135; at battle of Lake 
George, 147 ; status after the 
French War, 209. 

"Indian trade smooth bore, 11 in 
vented by Sir William, 71. 

Iroquois, number of the, 102 ; na 
ture and customs, 50 ; compara 
tive civilization, 235. 

confederacy, 19, 27 ; importance 
of, 42 ; in French and Indian 
War, 101, 136 ; in Fort Niagara 
campaign, 187. 

Isle aux Noix, 182. 

JEAN COEUR. 11 See Joncaire, 
^ Jean Francois. 

Jemison, Mary, 63. 

Jesuits, labors and influence of the, 
with the Indians, 101 ; schools in 
Canada, 106; after the French 
and Indian War, 211. 

Johnson, Anne (Warren), mother 
of Sir William, 4. 

, Anne, daughter of Sir William 
by Katharine Weisenburg, 17, 46 ; 
marriage, 219, 222. 

, Anne, daughter of Sir William 
by Mary Brant, 55. 

, Caroline, daughter of Sir Will 
iam by Caroline (Hendrick), 52, 
56, 222. 

, Charlotte, daughter of Sir Will 
iam by Caroline (Hendrick), 52, 

, Christopher, father of Sir Will 
iam, 4. 



Johnson, Elizabeth, daughter of 
Sir William by Mary Brant, 55. 

, George, son of Sir William by 
Mary Brant, 55. 

, Colonel Guy, nephew of Sir 
William, 213, 219, 222, 235. 

, Sir John, son of Sir William by 
Katharine Weisenburg, 17, 46 ; iu 
St. Lawrence campaign, 199 note ; 
at Detroit conference, 213 ; suc 
ceeds to estate at Mount John 
son, 221, 271. 

, Katharine (Weisenburg), wife of 
Sir William, 16 ; died, 46. 

, Magdalene, daughter of Sir 
William by Mary Brant, 55. 

, Margaret, daughter of Sir Will 
iam by Mary Brant, 55. 

, Mary, daughter of Sir William 
by Katharine Weisenburg, 17, 46; 
marriage, 219, 222. 

, Mary, daughter of Sir William 
by Mary Brant, 55, 222. 

, Peter Warren, son of Sir Will 
iam by Mary Brant, 55. 

, Suzanne, daughter of Sir Will 
iam by Mary Brant, 55. 

, William, son of Sir William by 
Caroline (Hendrick), 52, 54, 55, 
271 ; education, 222, 237. 

, Captain Warren, brother of Sir 
William, 18, 23 ; at siege and cap 
ture of Louisburg, 33. 

, Sir William : parentage, 4 ; birth 
and boyhood, 4 ; school life, 6 ; 
personality, 43 ; character, 261 ; 
scholarship, 260 ; military ability, 
260 ; knowledge of Indian cus 
toms, 14, 254 ; marriage to Kath 
arine Weisenburg, 16 ; domestic 
life, 43, 46 ; children, 17, 46, 52, 
55 ; estate, 246 ; library, 252 ; 
stock-raising, 30 ; slaves, 31 ; ar 
rival in New York, 9 ; method of 
distributing land, 18 ; corre 
spondence with Governor Clin- 



ton on the Indian question, 15, 25, 
29, 34 ; laud titles, referee in re 
gard to, in Mohawk Valley, 25 ; 
wounded at Lake George, 150 ; 
designs gun for Indian trade, 71 ; 
king s magistrate, 30 ; colonel of 
militia, 29; commissioned colonel, 
34 ; major-general, 155 ; receives 
baronetcy, 155 ; death, 270. 

Hall, removal to, 221. 

, Mount. See Mount Johnson. 

Johnstown, N. Y., founded, 221 ; 
growth of, 248. 

Joncaire, Chabert or Chaubert, 104, 

, Captain Jean Francois, 104, 69 
note, 102, 120 ; meets Sir William 
at Kanandegea, 87 ; at Braddock s 
defeat, 128 ; last days, 131 note. 

TT" AY-AG-SHO-TA, father of Red 

-"- Jacket, 240 ; at Albany con 
ference, 66. 

Kanaudegea, principal town of the 
Senecas, 85. 

Kaskaskia, 111., established, 115. 

Kerr, Mrs., daughter of Sir William 
and Mary Brant, 56. 

King, George, 53. 

" King George s War," 32. 

LA BUTE, Jacques, 216, 243. 
La Galette, capture of, 200. 

La Gallissoniere, Count de, Govern 
or-General of Canada, 117, 120. 

Lake George, arrival of Sir William 
Johnson at, 141 ; battle of, 143. 

Lawrence, Governor Charles, of 
Nova Scotia, 134. 

Lewis, General Andrew, defeats 
the Indians at Point Pleasant, 270. 

Liquor, laws in regard to selling, 
to Indians, 27. 

Little Abe, Chief, 53. 

Loudoun, Lord, in French War, 163, 
180 ; retreat from Louisburg, 174. 


Louis XIV, wars with William of 
Orange, 1. 

XV, reign of, 3; attitude 
toward Canada, 11G. 

Louisburg, Cape Breton, 98 ; cap 
tured by Provincial soldiers, 32 ; 
threatened by Lord Loudoun, 
174 ; captured by General Am- 
herst, 180 ; Wolfe at, 182. 

Louisiana, expedition planned 
against, 208. 

Lyman, General Phineas, 47, 137, 
140 ; at Lake George, 150. 

MACKINAW, massacre at, in 
Pontiac s War, 227. 
Militia, reorganization of Albany, 

40 ; French Canadian, 111. 
Missions, Jesuit, to the Indians, 

27 ; Protestant, to the Indians, 

Maumee, massacre at, in Pontiac s 

War, 227. 
Metcalf, Simon, chief surveyor of 

Fort Stanwix treaty line, 22, 237, 

Mohawk, early settlements on the, 

8, 13, 18, 30. 
Monroe, Colonel, massacred at Fort 

William Henry, 166, 172. 
Montcalm, General Louis Joseph, 

111 ; character and ability, 167 ; 

defense of Fort Ticonderoga, 165 ; 

takes Oswego, 169 ; takes Fort 

William Henry, 172 ; defense of 

Quebec and death, 195. 
Montour, Andre, 68 note. 
, Catharine, 68 note. 
, Jean, 68, 78 ; in campaign 

against Crown Point, 137 ; in Fort 

Niagara campaign, 189. 
Montreal, 98 ; retreat of the French 

forces to, 196 ; final campaign of 

General Amherst against, 197; 

capitulation of, 201. 
Morgan, General Daniel, 53, 225. 


Sir William Johnson 


Mount Johnson, 13, 17, 43 ; Indian 
visitors, 43, 58 ; assembly of In 
dians at, in 1755, 135 ; Indian con 
ference at, in 1758, 183 ; removal 
from, to Johnson Hall, 221. 

Hurray, General James, in Mon 
treal campaign, 197, 202. 

NAVY, English, work of, in 
French War, 168. 

Newcastle, Duke of, Prime Min 
ister, 37, 122, 163; end of min 
istry, 179. 

Niagara, Fort, General Shirley s 
campaign against, 134, 143, 156, 
162 ; General Prideaux s and Sir 
William Johnson s expedition 
against, 184, 186 ; attacks on, in 
Pontiac s War, 226; visit to, in 
1766, 131 note ; grand council at, 
in 1766, 233. 

/~\GHWAGA. See Oquawgo. 

^- Ohio Land Company, 81. 

Ohio Valley, French and English 
claims to the, 82, 114 ; first cam 
paigns in the, 84. 

Onondagas, disaffection of, 176 ; 
conference at Mount Johnson 
with the, in 1758, 183. 

Oquawgo or Oghwaga, trading- 
post at, 19. 

Oriskany, battle of, 54, 266. 

Orme, Captain, Braddock s chief of 
staff, 126. 

Oswegatchie, capture of, 200. 

Oswego, captured by Montcalm, 
169; General Gage in command 
at, 193; assembly of troops at, 
for St. Lawrence campaign, 199 ; 
Pontiac s surrender at, 233. 

TDALM, Frederick, rifle-maker, 
-^ 250. 

Palm, Jacob, rifle-maker, 250. 
Parkman, Francis, provincial bias 
of, 46 note. 


Pepperell, Sir William, at siege and 
capture of Louisburg, 33 ; in com 
mand at Albany, 1747-48, 36 ; at 
beginning of French War, 123; 
military ability, 260. 

Pitt, William, accession to the min 
istry, 179. 

Polk, Colonel Thomas, deputy su 
perintendent of Indian affairs, 235. 

Pontiac, at Braddock s defeat, 129 ; 
with Montcalm at Oswego, 169; 
meets Rogers and Stark near De 
troit, 207 ; Pontiac s War, 69 note, 
131, 223 ; formal surrender, 232. 

Pettier, Father Pierre, Jesuit mis 
sionary to the Indians, at Detroit 
conference, 216. 

Pouchet, French commander at 
Fort Niagara, 191 ; at La Galette, 

Presque Isle (Erie, Pa.), 120, 121; 
massacre at, in Pontiac s War, 

Prideaux, General John, expedition 
with Sir William Johnson against 
Fort Niagara, 184, 186; killed, 187. 

QUEBEC, 98 ; Wolfe s campaign 
against, 184, 195. 
Queen Esther, 69 note. 

"DANDALL, Henry, 53. 

- 1 - * Reid, W. Max, History of the 
Mohawk Valley, quoted, 17, 51. 

Revolution, the American, Sir Will 
iam Johnson s attitude toward, 

Rifle manufacture in America, 70 ; 
introduced into New York, 249. 

Rogers, Major Robert, expedition 
to Detriot, 207. 

ST. CHARLES, Mo., established, 

St. Genevieve, Mo., established, 115. 
St. Joseph, massacre at, in Pon 
tiac s War, 227. 




St. Martin, Father, Jesuit mission 
ary to the Indians, History of 
New France, 108; at Detroit 
conference, 216, 243. 

St. Mary s, massacre at, in Pon- 
tiae s War, 227. 

St. Pierre, Captain Jacques Legar- 
deur de, 131, 144. 

Sandusky, massacre at, in Pon- 
tiac s War, 227. 

Schenectady, 8; massacre at, in 
1690, 175. 

Schuyler, Colonel Peter, 26. 

Senecas, 28, 58, 65 ; disaffection 
among the, 85, 101, 176 ; and news 
of Braddock s defeat, 137 ; con 
ference at Mount Johnson with 
the, in 1758, 183 ; in Montreal 
campaign, 199 note ; in Pontiac s 
War, 226 ; General Amherst s bit 
terness toward, 227. 

Shirley, Governor William, of Mas 
sachusetts, 90; controversy with 
Sir William Johnson, 138, 159 ; 
at beginning of French War, 123 ; 
expedition against Fort Niagara, 
134, 143, 156, 162. 

Spencer, Thomas, 54. 

Stark, John, in campaign against 
Crown Point, 140; at Battle of 
Lake George, 150; in St. Law 
rence campaign, 200 note ; expe 
dition to-Detroit, 207. 

-*- seph Brant. 

Ticonderoga, Fort, built by Mont- 
calm, 171 ; Abercrombie s attack 
on, 165, 180; captured by Gen 
eral Amherst, 182, 184, 192. 

Trent, Captain, expedition to the 
Ohio, 87 ; surrender, 122. 



Van Ness, Rev. Mr., 27. 
Venango, French fort at, 121 ; 
Washington s visit to, 87; mas 
sacre at, in Pontiac s War, 227. 
Vincennes, Ind., established, 115. 

TTTARREN, Anne. See Anne 
V * (Warren) Johnson. 

Warren, Admiral Sir Peter, 5, 8, 11 ; 
fortune of, 23 ; at siege and cap 
ture of Louisburg, 33. 

Warrensburg, orWarrensbush, first 
settlement at, 10, 13. 

Washington, Augustine, 82. 

Washington, George, in early Ohio 
River campaign, 84 visit to Ve 
nango, 87; capitulation of Fort 
Necessity, 85, 122; in General 
Braddock s campaign, 126; esti 
mate of Braddock, 132. 

Washington, Lawrence, 82. 

Webb, General, incapacity of, 163, 
165, 180; Fort William Henry 
massacre, 165, 172. 

Weisenberg, Rev. Jacob, 16, 26. 

Weisenburg, Katharine. See Kath 
arine (Weisenburg) Johnson. 

Wetzel, Lewis, Indian fighter, 226. 

Wheelock, Dr. Eleazar, 58; acad 
emy at Lebanon, Conn., 223, 237. 

Whiting, Major Nathan, at Lake 
George, 147. 

William of Orange, wars with Louis 
XIV. 1 ; debt of England to, 2. 

Williams, Colonel Ephraim, death 
of. at Lake George, 145. 

Williams, Major Thomas, 140. 

Wolfe, General James, 169, 180; 
Quebec campaign, 184, 195; 
death, 195. 




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