That Chivalrous Savage . . . Joseph Brant
BY A. ELLSTON COOPER
His admirers included the Prince of Wales, Talleyrand and biographer Boswell; he was at home in the salons of Mayfair and Broadway—yet the same Joseph Brant was also reviled as a murderous savage who led his Six Nations tribesmen on a warpath of blood and desolation in the Mohawk Valley
HISTORY knows few more controversial
warriors than Joseph Brant, an Indian war chief who fought for the British in the late 1770s during the American War of Independence. Novelist Ned Buntline, who made William Cody famous as Buffalo Bill, once wrote a blood-curdling novel called Thayendanegea, Scourge of the Mohawks which was supposed to be an account of Brant’s forays against the Americans in the Mohawk Valley during that war. He emerged from the pages as a murderous savage who left a trail of blood, burned-out. settlements and desolation. American history holds a similar, if less barbaric, view.
By contrast, the Prince of Wales, who later became George IV; the Duke of Northumberland, Aaron Burr, James Boswell, Talleyrand, Volney and other prominent gentleman called Brant their friend and admired his culture. Brant trod Mayfair’s sophisticated salons in London, resided on Broadway in New York, and frequented some of the finest dining rooms in Philadelphia and Montreal. In Canada, the city of Brantford in southern Ontario, named after the warrior, has his statue in its most central park and civic officials still laud his name.
Somewhere between these divergent viewpoints stands the contentious figure of Joseph Grant, called Thayendanegea hy his people, a name denoting strength. There is no question he was a warrior by choice. Dr. Eleazar Wheelock, first president of Dartmouth College, urged Brant to live a life of peace but the Mohawk replied, “I love the harpsichord well and the organ even better; but give me the drums and the bugles for they make my hear! beat faster.”
To most of the inhabitants of the Mohawk alley a hundred and eighty years ago he was less > warrior than a fiend. Along six hundred miles J frontier in upper New York State women wailed ind cursed his name when their men failed to return from battle, their reeking scalps hanging from the -belts of his braves. A child crying in a frontier cabin was silenced at mention of his name, and in iBr-away Scotland Thomas Campbell, a leading noet, sharpened his quill to label Brant a monster. Brant’s origin is obscure but James Boswell, the
renowned English diaryist who knew him in England, wrote in the London Magazine of July 1776, that he was the grandson of a Mohawk chief born in 1742 on the banks of the Ohio River while the Mohawks were on a hunting party south of Lake Erie. Louis Aubrey Wood, in a biography of Brant called The War Chief of the Six Nations, notes that some historians claim the warrior’s father bore the English name of Nickus Brant. Others say that Thayendanegea’s father died while the son was an infant, and that his mother then married an Indian known to the English as Brant. At any rate he was Joseph Brant as he grew up along the Mohawk
River in the western areas of New York State.
At maturity he was of stocky build, with the dark hair and eyes of an Indian but not the hawk’s nose or the bronze skin; like some Mohawks, his appearance was almost European. Although of medium height he appeared tall because of the erect dignity of his walk. Brant spent most of his life in the Mohawk Valley but near the close of the eighteenth century he moved to land granted the Six Nations Indians by Sir Frederick Haldimand, Governor of Canada, on the Grand River in southwestern Ontario. Twenty-three years after
Brant’s death in 1807
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at the age of sixty-five his name was taken by bis settlement at a shallow part of the river which he forded in trips to Detroit. It was called Brant’s Ford in 1830 and as the town grew the abbreviation, Brantford, was adopted.
To understand the paradox of Brant —a man who could translate the Gospel into Mohawk and also dash his tomahawk into a dying soldier’s brain—it must be realized that in his mind it was the white man, not the Indian, who was the savage. Asked in later years by the Rev. John Stuart whether he preferred the white man’s or the Indian’s way of life, Brant replied that although he had lived among both Indians and white men, he favored his own people.
“In the government you call civilized,” Brant wrote, “the happiness of your people is constantly sacrificed. Hence your code of criminal and civil laws; hence your dungeons and prisons. Among the Indians you will find no prisons, no pompous parade of courts. We have no written laws and yet our judges are highly revered among us.
“And for what are many of your people confined? Debt! You put a man in prison, perhaps for life, for circumstances beyond his control. I would rather die by the most severe tortures than to languish in one of your prisons for a single year.”
Brant has been called an Iroquois because his tribe, the Mohawks, was one of the five that originally made up the Iroquois Council. According to tradition Hiawatha, a Mohawk, induced the five—Onondagas, Senecas, Mohawks, Cayugas and Oneidas—to form a league which preserved the integrity of each but united them in common council and ceremonies. A century later the Tuscaroras joined the league to form the Six Nations. It was from the ranks of the Mohawks that the head war chief of the Six Nations was chosen.
Brant’s home at Canajoharie Castle —castle being the Six Nations’ term for village—was near that of Col. William Johnson, King George 11’s representative for Indian affairs, an adventurous Irishman who held vast tracts of land. Johnson lived in lavish style in a three-story home surrounded by wilderness, but he also loved the free-andeasy style of the frontier. He liked the Indians and they trusted him as their friend. As a widower he married Brant’s sister Molly, and young Joseph became a familiar figure at Johnson Hall.
In 1755 when England and the American colonies resolved to end the French threat to the north, Johnson was made a major-general and sent against Crown Point, the French fort at the southern tip of Lake Champlain which pointed into the heart of New York State. With him went one thousand Indians, among them the thirteen-year-old Brant.
In a battle which marked the beginning of the Seven Years’ War, Johnson defeated the French under Baron Dieskau. Brant reacted like most young soldiers under their baptism of fire. He admitted later that he was filled with fear, and clung to a sapling, shivering. The moment passed quickly. Long before the battle was over, young Brant had his rifle to his shoulder, and his treble war whoop joined that of the victorious Mohawks.
Later, Brant was with the Indians who helped capture Fort Niagara, breaking the chain of French forts which stretched from the St. Lawrence to Louisiana. The Mohawks were
proud of him. Although still a boy, he had been tested in battle, and had fought bravely.
Brant himself, was dissatisfied. From living near Johnson—now Sir William —he realized that there was more to life than hunting and the warpath. He wanted to see beyond the forests.
The opportunity came when Dr. Eleazar Wheelock started a school for Indians at Lebanon, N.H., the forerunner of Dartmouth College. Brant was selected to go for the Six Nations, and after two years of intensive study under Dr. Wheelock, took the Gospel to the Indians.
But again the hatchet was taken up. Pontiac, great chief of the Ottawas and leader of the western Indians, headed a revolt against all English and Americans. On one red day in 1763 eight English forts fell; only Detroit, Fort Pitt and Ligonier remained.
Loyal to the British, Brant played his part in helping in the relief of both Detroit and Fort Pitt, and in 1764 when Pontiac was defeated and French
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domination broken, it seemed Brant could devote his life to peace. High in the esteem of the Six Nations, Brant returned to his home at Canajoharie Castle and married an Oneida chief’s daughter who bore him two children. He joined the Anglican Church and worked with Rev. John Stuart in translating the Acts of the Apostles into Mohawk.
Brant saw trouble coming between England and the American colonies. There was shooting in Boston in 1770 and he realized war was imminent. The Six Nations, for the most part, felt they could not remain neutral, situated between Canada and the American colonies, and they made Brant the head war chief.
In 1774 Sir William Johnson, on his deathbed, urged Brant to be loyal to the Crown, for he knew that the Six Nations were not united and that the Oneidas were wavering. They felt they could not take a stand in the dispute between brothers (for remaining neutral, Oneidas living on the Six Nations Reservation near Brantford still gèt a pension from the United States Government).
Sir Guy Carleton, Governor of Canada, commissioned Brant a captain—the highest rank an Indian could hold in the regular British army. With open warfare still to come, Brant decided in the fall of 1775 to go to London to learn the true situation.
Seventy years before, in Queen Anne’s time, his grandfather Nickus Brant had been in London where he had been moved by the wretched plight of German refugees from the Palatine. He had given them land in the Mohawk Valley; now if open warfare came, it would be the descendants of this displaced people whom the Six Nations would be fighting.
Brant was invited to appear at court, and when the Earl of Warwick requested his portrait, Brant sat for George Romney, one of the noted artists of the day. Writing in the London Journal, James Boswell said:
“The present unhapoy civil war in America has occasioned Brant coming
over to England . . . He has promised to put three thousand men into the field . . . His manners are gentle and quiet . . . He was struck with the appearance of England but said he chiefly admired the ladies and horses.”
While in London, Brant was at a high society dinner party when a simpering lady observed she hadn’t ex -pected a savage to have such polis! cd manners. Brant, who always fiercely resented patronage, seized a bone and commenced to gnaw.
“Did you expect the poor Indian to eat like this?” Brant asked, putting down the bone. “I’m afraid, madam, that we have different ideas of what kind of manners constitute the savage!”
The war began in earnest in 1776 and Brant sailed for New York, which was in British hands. His old teacher, Dr. Wheelock, tried to persuade him to join the Americans, or at least to remain neutral. He asked Brant to recall the many things he had taught him.
“I remember one prayer,” Brant replied. “In it you prayed that we might live like good subjects, to fear God and honor the King. This I propose to do.”
Brant was back in the Mohawk Valley in the spring of 1776 and settlers who had been remote from the war felt dread at his coming. As Brant drew more Indians about him, the settlers asked Nicholas Herkimer, a brigadier-general in the American militia and an old friend of Brant’s, to negotiate a peace. Herkimer was vain and felt he could easily persuade Brant to his side. Taking three hundred and eighty militiamen to impress Brant, the little German commander arranged a meeting at Unadilla on the Susquehanna.
Brant appeared with five hundred warriors, the majority of whom he concealed in the woods before he stepped within a circle drawn on the ground to meet Herkimer. Brant wore a short vivid blue blanket cape turned back to show red lining and a cocked black hat, trimmed with gold lace. He asked why the meeting had been called and Herkimer replied that he had merely wanted to talk to his brother Brant.
Brant was unmoved. “Do all there soldiers just come out of friendship to meet their brother Brant, too?” he enquired.
Herkimer had concealed four settlers in the treetops to kill Brant if he couldn’t win him over, and was about to give the signal to shoot when Brant, suspecting treachery, gave his war whoop. Five hundred Indians immediately appeared. Brant suavely thanked Herkimer for inviting him to this meeting, but grimly advised him to return home, and if he valued his life to stay there.
Brant went to Oswego where a council of war was held. Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne, Commander-in-Chief of the British forces, planned that he would go south from Montreal with the regular army until he reached the Hudson. In the meantime, Lieut.Col. Barry St. Leger, a British regular, would lead a mixed force along the south shore of Lake Ontario and tight his way through the heart of the colonists’ country and meet Burgoyne at Albany. This mixed command consisted of four hundred red coats, six hundred green-coated Canadians and Tories (as the Americans called the pro-British) and a thousand Senecas and Mohawks, including a scattering of Cayugas and Onondagas. The Indians would be under Brant’s command.
The first blow was to fall at Fort Stanwix which the Americans had built in Indian territory. It was defended by Col. Peter Gansevoort and seven hundred and fifty men. On Aug. 3, 1777, St. Leger and Brant reached the fort and laid siege.
Col. Gansevoort ordered an improvised Stars and Stripes flown over the fort. It was made of a red petticoat, a white shirt and a captured British blue army cloak. The flag had only been authorized the previous June 14, and it was the first time it had been flown over American Hoops under fire.
When scouts brought news of the siege to Gen. Herkimer, he called out the militia companies to the strength of a thousand men. Recently they had news that Burgoyne. on his march toward Albany had taken Fort Tieonderoga, and now with St. Leger and Brant pressing from the west, the Americans knew that if the two forces met, the rich, populous German Flats country in which most of them lived would be gone. It was imperative that St. Leger and Brant be stopped.
Herkimer’s men were farmers and frontiersmen dressed in hunting shirts and homespun. One company made a semblance of military dress by wearing red cockades. The officers were mostly gentry of the countryside and wore the blue uniform of the American Continental Army, but some of the horses they rode were more at home pulling a plow. Ox-carts hauled the provisions, and when the river and creek bottoms became too soft with the passage of the first few carts the militiamen lined the ford in two parallel lines to simulate a fence while the teamsters flogged the reluctant oxen through.
The Americans were eager to join battle, feeling they would beat both the redcoats and the hated Tories at one blow. They held the frontiersman’s contempt for the Indians, believing that one white man was worth five Indians. Only Herkimer was dubious but he held no true command over his unruly volunteers.
On August 5, Herkimer was within eight miles of Fort Stanwix, and he sent out three scouts with instructions to get into the fort that night and fire three guns next morning as a signal. The men in the fort, were then to sally out, while he would attack St. Leger and Brant from the rear.
It was a good plan but when no sound of the guns came next morning, the militiamen became impatient. In spite of Herkimer’s remonstrances the commander of one company decided to
attack. Herkimer was forced to follow his undisciplined men.
In double file, following the ruts of the road, the Americans straggled forward. It was almost eleven, and the day hot and dusty. No breath of air stirred the leaves on the trees, and as the men sweated, branches whipped their salty faces. Then the ground dropped away, and across a brook lay an invitingly cool swamp. The Americans entered its dark shades.
From the top of a tall hemlock a flash of orange appeared, followed by a puff of smoke. The commander of
the first American company fell from his white horse. A whistle shrieked three short blasts, and the wall of dark hemlocks burst into a solid sheet of fire. Men fell; a horse neighed wildly. Herkimer himself was wounded. Seneca scouts had informed Brant of Herkimer’s approach, and he had laid an ambuscade in the deep woods on the edge of a marshy ravine at Oriskany.
Brant’s deep voice echoed and reechoed from the woods, urging his Indians on. Like shadows, they flitted from tree to tree, many of them wearing nothing but their moccasins and
vermilion, black and white paint. The high, weird yips of the war whoop sounded on all sides.
Herkimer, although wounded, sat propped against a tree smoking a pipe, rallying his men. For the next half hour the opponents sniped at each other, then Brant again raised his war whoop. After one brief volley, the Indians rushed forward with their hatchets. The carnage that followed developed into the most gruesome battle of the War of Independence.
There was no room to manoeuvre in the marsh. The opponents battled
with knife and bayonet; Indian spear and gunstock; tomahawk and bare hands. About three-thirty in the afternoon a dense rain began to fall, and at four both sides heard the guns of the fort. Herkimer’s messengers had finally got in.
Thinking St. Leger might be in trouble Brant broke off the engagement. One company of Americans —the advance company which had been so eager to fight—had broken and fled at the beginning. Of the remaining force only two hundred could walk. Five hundred Americans had been killed and scalped in the swampy ravine and Herkimer died later.
Hearing of Herkimer’s defeat, Gen. Benedict Arnold, still a clever commander in the American army, moved to relieve Fort Stanwix. He managed to capture a dim-witted character by the name of Hon-Yost Schuyler. Schuyler had spent most of his life among the Indians, who regarded him with the superstitious awe they gave all insane people.
Keeping his brother as hostage, and shooting a few bullet-holes through Schuyler’s coat to make it appear he had been in a battle, Arnold sent him to the Indians’ camp. There Schuyler told of Arnold’s vast army—“as many men as there were leaves on the trees,” he said.
The Indians believed the half-wit and in spite of Brant’s remonstrances fell back, and St. Leger was forced to withdraw from the siege. Brant was disgusted and instead of going with St. Leger took his Mohawks to Burgoyne’s camp on the Hudson.
In the winter of 1777-78 Brant was back at Niagara, Canada, planning a campaign to weaken the American cause. He determined to attack American settlements along the Mohawk to draw off troops, and to destroy the crops upon which George Washington’s army was depending. He fell on the village of Springfield, N.Y., and though most of the men managed to flee Brant took their women prisoners and put the town to the torch.
By continual raiding Brant began to get a bad name. His Indians were lacking in discipline and although Brant saved many settlers from death and torture he did not try to keep his warriors from plundering and destroying property. His argument was that the settlers had taken up arms against the King, and that their property was forfeited.
The settlers however looked upon the Indians as butchers without a redeeming feature except courage. Everything that was bloody, hateful and ferocious was attributed to Brant.
Then came the massacre of Wyoming Valley, a populous area of five thousand in Pennsylvania, near Scranton. Some American historians claim Brant was present but others, and Brant himself, insisted he wasn’t. Thomas Campbell wrote in his long poem, Gertrude of Wyoming:
“The mammoth comes—the foe —the Monstrous Brant
With all his howling desolate band
These eyes have seen their blade, the burning pine
Awake at once, and silence half your land.
Red is the cup they drink, but not with wine:”
Brant was at the Cherry Valley massacre, sixty-eight miles west of Albany, with Lieut. Walter Butler, son of the more famous Col. John Butler. Eight hundred men, about a third of them Senecas, attacked the American fort at Cherry Valley in November, 1777, after Col. Ichabod Alden refused to believe reports the
Tories and Indians were close. When neighboring settlers sought refuge in the fort Col. Alden assured them they were in no danger. In the massacre that ensued thirty-two settlers, mostly women and children, Col. Alden and fifteen soldiers were slain. Thirty to forty prisoners were taken, mostly women and children, and the village of Cherry Valley was reduced to ashes.
Throughout the devastation Brant always believed that if the British didn’t win, the land belonging to the Six Nations would be lost. It was savage fighting on both sides and the Indians were merciless. Yet Brant often did kind deeds and if he had a weakness it was that he wanted to be admired by both white men and Indians. This apparently caused his fluctuations between kindness and cruelty.
The massacres created tremendous indignation with the American Congress in Philadelphia and on February 25, 1779. it moved to crush the Six Nations forever. Gen. John Sullivan was ordered to advance from Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna and Gen. James Clinton to drive from the north so that a giant pincers movement should sweep the Six Nations country.
Setbacks Spurred Him
Brant realized that if the two armies accomplished their purposes the Indian villages would be destroyed. To divert their attention he planned the most daring raid of the war. He attacked Minisink, only fifty miles from New York City, with sixty Indians and twenty-seven green-coated Rangers, and massacred fifty settlers and devastated the surrounding country. As Brant drew off with prisoners and booty a force of one hundred and forty-nine Orange County men set out on his trail. It was their first experience in Indian warfare and in a dark ravine on the banks of the Delaware Brant turned and trapped them; of the entire American force only twenty-seven escaped.
As Gen. Sullivan advanced along the Chemung River, Brant gathered six hundred Indians with two hundred men under Sir John Johnson—Sir William’s son—and threw up a half-mile breastwork. But Gen. Sullivan had five thousand men and artillery, and the cannon soon smashed the defenses. Brant was inspiring but the Indians were beaten. “Oonah! Oonah!” was their doleful cry as they fell back leaving the gates of the Six Nations country open.
When he saw the burning valley, Red Jacket, chief of the Senecas, tried to negotiate a peace but Brant captured his messengers to Gen. Sullivan and continued to fight on.
Making his headquarters at Niagara, Brant raided the Mohawk Valley for two more years. Harpersfield was leveled, German Flats, Andrustown and Canajoharie destroyed. When the Oneidas who had been neutral started to become active sympathizers of the Americans Brant destroyed their villages. Just before the war ended he defeated an American army under Col. Clark, who had previously defeated a British force under Gen. Hamilton.
The Indians were resentful of the treaty made in 1782 between Britain and the United States. Their land was made over to the Americans, and there was no mention of provisions for them. Land was given by Great Britain to Brant and his Mohawks on the Bay of Quinte on Lake Ontario, but the Senecas who desired to remain in New York State were distressed to see their kinsmen moving so far away. They dispatched to Gen. Haldimand, who had succeeded Sir Guy Carleton as Governor, packs of scalps and a grim
invoice of their terrifying services.
“. . . 43 scalps of Congress soldiers stretched on black hoops; the inside of the skin painted red, with a small black spot to denote their being killed with bullets ... 98 of farmers, killed in their houses, hoops red . . . 102 of farmers, mixed of several marks, only 18 with a little yellow flame to denote being burned alive ... 88 scalps of women . . . 193 boys’ scalps of various ages . . . 29 little infants’ scalps ... we send you these many scalps that you may see that we are not idle friends of the King . . .”
The result was that the Six Nations forever were awarded six miles on either side of the Grand River in Ontario on October 25, 1784, over which the King relinquished all sovereignty.
Late in 1785 Brant left again for Plngland where his visit was a triumphant procession. Nobility vied to have him as a guest. He was lauded by Lord Percy, heir of the Duke of Northumberland; Charles James Fox gave him a silver snuff box and the Prince of Wales took him on many jaunts. The Baroness of Riedesel wrote: “I saw the famous chief, Captain Joseph Brant. His manners are polished, and he expressed himself with great fluency.”
Brant was presented to King George 111 and Queen Charlotte, and when the King offered the royal hand to be kissed, as was then the custom, Brant refused it. He was, he said, a king among his own people; it was beneath his dignity to bow to anyone. He would, however, he smiled, be pleased to kiss the hand of such a gracious Queen.
The Karl of Moira invited Brant to a masquerade in Mayfair and Brant wore Indian costume and war paint. He was a commanding figure as his lofty plumage swayed grandly, and from his belt hung the famous glittering tomahawk, engraved with a J (for Joseph) and his Indian name, Thayendanegea.
The Turkish ambassador mistook Brant’s painted face for a false one and in a moment of exuberance pinched his nose to remove the disguise. The next moment he fell back, his face paling, and the glittering assembly stood frozen as the blood-curdling, high-pitched war whoop of the Mohawks echoed through the hall. Brant whipped out his gleaming tomahawk and whirled it around the Turk’s head. The Turk stood terrified, and the crowd silent, and then as Brant realized that the Turk had intended no insult, his features slowly relaxed.
When Brant returned to America in 1786, he found American settlers pressing on Indian land in Pennsylvania and
Ohio. Spasmodic fighting broke out but Brant did not want to go into the struggle blindly. He realized that without British help the Indians would have little chance of permanent success. But neither did he want his people to bend too low before the white man. He insisted that the Ohio River be the dividing line between settlers and Indians.
The United States Congress concluded from this that Brant and the Indians were hostile and Gen. Arthur St. Clair was dispatched with a large army in 1791 to quell the unrest. This act decided Brant. “The hatchet has grown old and rusted,” he said, “but I cannot see the Long Knives moving against my people.” The various Indian nations allied themselves under the leadership of Little Turtle, a Miami chief. Brant, with a hundred and fifty Mohawks, joined him and provided the strategy.
A hundred miles southwest of Toledo, on the Ohio-Indiana border, in spite of the fact that St. Clair had artillery, Brant and the allied Indians practically annihilated the Americans, killing eight hundred.
This battle indicated to Congress how fierce the war would be, and the American Secretary of State, John Adams, invited Brant to Washington to confer with President Washington. He arrived on June 20, 1792, in
Philadelphia where the President gave him a hearty welcome.
“1 \vas offered five thousand dollars down,” Brant reported later, “and my half-pay and pension I receive from Great Britain doubled, merely on condition that I use my endeavors to bring about peace. This I rejected.”
Brant was then offered land worth a hundred thousand dollars and fifteen hundred a year—a tremendous sum for the times but he rejected the extravagant offer. “How could I accept such a bribe?” Brant said later. “They might expect me to act contrary to His Majesty’s interests, and the honor of the Six Nations.”
Brant did finally state, however, that he would endeavor to promote peace and at a meeting of ninety-three chiefs counseled it. His blood was cooler now and no longer sought the warpath.
At his home on the Grand River, Brant turned to the church. Knowing both Greek and Latin, he translated the Prayer and Psalms Book and the Gospel of St. Mark into Mohawk. He translated the Liturgy of the Anglican Church into Mohawk and presented Harvard University with a copy.
In 1793Simcoe, Lieutenant-Governor
of Upper Canada, visited Brant, bringing with him a brace of pistols from Brant’s old friend Lord Percy, now the Duke of Northumberland. The services of Brant were much in demand and he made frequent trips to New York, Albany and Philadelphia. In the latter city he was entertained by the archconspirator Aaron Burr, as well as the French exiles, Talleyrand and Volney.
Brant was also given a tract of land at Burlington, near Hamilton, Ont., and here on a plot which he called Wellington Square, he built an imposing home. He lived in comparative ease in his later years, with Negro servants who had been slaves when he captured them, to give him attention. A replica of his home now stands on the same ground, and is open to the public as the Brant Museum.
Brant’s first wife had died in 1771 and he had married her half-sister Susanna who died childless. His third wife, Catherine, bore him three sons and four daughters. One of the tragedies of his later years was his son Issac, born of his first wife, who became extremely jealous of the children of Brant’s third wife. In 1795 both father and son were at Burlington Heights at a time when the Indians were receiving supplies from the Government.
Issac had been drinking heavily, and in Burlington Tavern attacked his father. Brant drew his dirk and slightly wounded Issac’s hand. Issac refused to have the cut treated, and died of blood poisoning. Brant surrendered himself to the authorities but no charge was laid.
Brant’s trail ended on November 24, 1807. His grave is in His Majesty’s Chapel to the Mohawks, a church on the outskirts of Brantford. In spite of his deeds and his rigid loyalty to the Grown, few Canadians fully realize the tremendous debt owed Brant and the Six Nations. After the American War of Independence, American settlers flooded west, and it was only the presence of Brant, who created such havoc in the Mohawk Valley, that deterred these settlers from claiming much of the rich lands of Ontario.
Mrs. Alma Greene, corresponding secretary for the Six Nations people, writes: “While we honor Captain
Brant and have no doubt his intentions were for the good of the people we know that had he been alive today he would see the great harm done by his allegiance to the Crown. He discarded our Indian faith and religion, which caused us to lose acres of land through the New England Company whose sole purpose was to Christianize the savages, but who instead sold our land.
“Captain Brant sold acres of our land without the approval of our confederate council. By becoming allies of Great Britain we have become minors, and wards of the Government. All treaties and sacred pledges have been violated, and I am sure if Captain Brant could have foreseen all this trouble he would have hesitated to make the Six Nations allies of Great Britain.”
Well, maybe so, hut Brant chose the British because in his experience their word had always been good. It is hardly likely that the Six Nations would have fared better under American rule for United States treaties with the Indians were more often violated than not.
Perhaps in his dying moments, Brant sensed what would inevitably happen. His final words were to John Norton, a Mohawk chief. “Have pity on my poor Indians,” Brant whispered. “If you have any influence with the great, endeavor to use it for their good.” ^