‘Civilization or Death to All Savages’: Soldiers, Indians, and Congress’s War on the Revolutionary Frontier

Delivered at the annual Society for Military History Conference in Kansas City, Missouri in April 2014

US Indian policies during the Revolutionary War were in large part characterized by efforts at cultural conversion. Some historians have noted the practical considerations of such policies.[1] While significant, however, it is also important to apprehend that the Indian policies American leaders developed during the Revolution were inspired by the most prominent concepts of racial hierarchy from their age.[2] As a result, such policies were largely predicated upon an American belief in the necessity of ‘civilizing’ Indians in preparation for their assimilation into American society as fellow natives of the same continent.[3]

Those Indians that allied themselves with the US were called “friends” and “brothers,” showered with gifts, and provided with missionaries, and schoolmasters who were expected to instruct the Indians in ‘civilized’ practices.[4] Those that did not (the large majority) were declared savages by Congressional leaders who were not worthy to be included in the new American nation and were instead worthy only of destruction.[5]

Indeed, by late 1778 leaders in Congress had resolved that a total destruction of their Indian enemies was the only appropriate course of action. The result was the Sullivan Expedition that began in the summer of 1779. Over the course of its campaign through Seneca territory, the Sullivan Expedition pursued a governmentally-sponsored scorched earth campaign that almost entirely destroyed the Seneca food supply. In the process, they drove five thousand Seneca refugees from their homes.

In the minds of Congressional leaders, this demonstration of superiority gave them the opportunity to demand considerable land cessions from the Seneca Indians they had theoretically conquered.[6] Such demands became increasingly common after the war, representing a concerted shift in opinion among early American leaders.[7] Whereas, at the beginning of the war, they had believed it possible – indeed desirable – for Indians to be ‘civilized’ and assimilated into American society, by the end of the war (after the large majority of such efforts had failed) many had reached the conclusion that Indians were simply too ‘savage’ to be included in the new American nation. Instead, they should be pushed as far away from American society as possible, where they could neither threaten the United States nor remind American leaders of their failure.

In the early republic, an attempt was made by a number of prominent American officials (most notably Secretary of War Henry Knox and President George Washington) the ‘civilization’ of the early Revolution.[8] Determining why these figures supported the renewal of such efforts when so many of their peers did not can be, at times, difficult. Understanding why many of those that took part in expeditions like General Sullivan’s did likewise can be even more so. More than anything, what connects these figures is that a large number of them shared the experience of actually fighting against and alongside real-world Indians. While such experiences undoubtedly confirmed many of their preexisting biases toward Indian cultures, they also held the potential to be fairly revelatory in nature. Such revelations, I would argue, very well may be key to understanding the basis of support in prominent quarters for civilization policies after the Revolution.

An examination of the Sullivan Expedition in particular would perhaps be most useful in understanding the nature of military experiences involving Indians during the Revolution. Not only does it possess what is perhaps the greatest wealth of primary source material of any such expedition, it may also be the expedition most uniquely suited for an in-depth analysis.[9] Unlike the other expeditions of its kind, however, the members of the Continental Congress played an active role in shaping the Sullivan Campaign to their objectives.[10] Thus, Sullivan’s army was (unlike the majority of western expeditions during the Revolution) made up almost entirely of Continental Army regulars from veteran regiments.

Still, like many Americans of the period the men that composed Sullivan’s troops were steeped in the racialism and prejudice of their age. Such men were convinced (like many of their leaders) that the savage Indians they faced were doomed to succumb to the American ‘civilization’ culture either through assimilation or eradication, a belief that was given full voice in perhaps one of the most loudly cheered toasts made at the Independence Day celebrations that took place at the outset of the Sullivan Expedition: “civilization or death to all savages.”[11]

Sullivan’s men were given the opportunity to enact this promise on August 29th, 1779, outside of Chemung, (now Newtown, New York). As Sullivan’s forces began to cross the Chemung River, they were confronted with the scouts of an army of 1500 Indians and Loyalists led by the British Loyalist Colonel John Butler and the Mohawk leader Thayendanegea (more commonly known as Joseph Brant). The American troops had been well trained and prepared for such a moment. Many were veterans of the campaigns under General George Washington on the eastern seaboard and had wintered at Valley Forge under the tutelage of the famous drillmaster Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. As they reached the fortifications of their adversaries, the long months of instruction they had received at his hand finally came to fruition. With the guidance of General Sullivan and his commanders, they were able to crest a nearby hill, breach their opponents’ defenses, and turn their foes’ heavily guarded flank. Shortly thereafter, the forces under Brant and Butler were sent into headlong retreat, with the most eager among Sullivan’s men in hot pursuit.

They had won, the Americans believed, because they had behaved like ‘true’ soldiers. They had followed orders well and had not panicked in the heat of battle, instead – in the words Lieutenant John L. Hardenbergh, “undauntedly push[ing] on” in the face of enemy fire.[12] Most importantly, they had waited until the last possible moment to discharge their weapons and had reloaded them smoothly and efficiently. Such skills were cherished in even the most seasoned and professional military forces of Europe. Their training had served them well. As a result, their enemy had fled almost immediately after their first, well-aimed and well-timed volley. Theirs was a force to be reckoned with, fit to defeat any that stood in its way (perhaps even the vaunted infantry of the mother country against which they rebelled).

Of course, they told each other, it was not simply their training that had turned the battle in their favor. Perhaps more importantly, they had faced an enemy that was not nearly as well versed in the methods of civilized warfare as they were, and though their enemies had laid their defenses well, their savage manners had managed to spell their demise. Most of the enemy’s battlefield maneuvers had been – in Lieutenant Eukeries Beatty’s words – been conducted in “great Disorder,” the sure sign of a force untrained in the ‘civilized’ art of war.[13] Even more significantly, perhaps, the Indians intended ambush had been discovered by Sullivan’s scouts before the trap could be sprung because, according to Lieutenant Colonel Adam Hubley that the “movement of several Indians” had been “rendered conspicuous from the quantity of paint they had on them.”[14] Had the Indians simply foregone their savage customs in preparing for war, many in Sullivan’s army believed, the trap very well might have worked.

Only two weeks later, however, the pride Sullivan’s men felt quickly turned to anger. On September 13th, an Oneida Indian named Hanyost Thaosagwat guided a band of riflemen under Lieutenant Thomas Boyd on a reconnaissance mission near Little Beard’s Town (now modern-day Groveland, New York).[15] During their mission, they were surprised and overwhelmed by a band of several hundred Indians and Loyalists under the Seneca leader Little Beard. In the attack, the Seneca took Boyd and at least a dozen other men in his party (including the Oneida guide Hanyost) captive for subsequent interrogation.

Sullivan’s men found their comrades’ bodies the next day, ritualistically tortured in (according to Colonel Adam Hubley) the “most cruel & barbarous manner that the human mind can possibly conceive.”[16] Before death, Little Beard’s men had skinned, scalped, and branded Boyd and his soldiers. Shortly before beheading them, they ripped the riflemen’s fingernails and toenails from their hands and feet. When they were done, they left the corpses for the village’s dogs to feast upon.[17] The worst fate, however, was reserved for their fellow Iroquois, Hanyost.[18] After torturing him, they chopped his body into small bits. Such carnage, wrote Lieutenant Colonel Henry Dearborn, was enough to teach every man in Sullivan’s army the “necessity of fighting those more than devels to the last moment rather then fall into their hands alive.”[19]

The Indians, it seemed, had confirmed the worst suspicions of the men that were invading their homeland. They could not be trusted to act according to the civilized rules of warfare in which Sullivan’s men placed so much faith. Indeed, they had proven themselves capable of committing the most unspeakable atrocities. Men capable of such acts, the soldiers of Sullivan’s army told each other, were truly worthy of being called savages. They should and (if the Battle of Chemung had proven anything) could and would be destroyed.

For many Americans, this perception of ‘savagery’ would soon expand to encompass all Indians, even those like the Oneidas who fought for their cause. The men of the Sullivan Expedition, however, did not entirely allow this to happen. The Indians they had faced, they believed, were surely too savage to be saved. The rest of their kind, however, might be a different matter. Throughout the remainder of the campaign, Sullivan’s soldiers warmly welcomed a number of Oneida Indians into their camp despite the atrocities their fellow Indians had committed. Such Indians were always treated with respect, deference, and friendliness.

This relationship became even more friendly when Sullivan’s men gathered to celebrate the end of their campaign in October of 1779, during which a number of Oneida dignitaries played an integral role in the event’s proceedings. In stark contrast to their celebrations at the campaign’s outset, the victory celebration’s crowning moment was an “Indian dance” led by a “young Sachem of the Oneida Tribe” and “several other Indians.” The “officers who join’d in,” wrote Lieutenant Colonel Adam Hubley, covered their faces in “Visiors (alias) Monetas [masks]” and proceeded “after the Indian custom” to dance to the music of a “rattle, a knife and a pipe, which the Sachem continued clashing together.” With the Oneidas “singing Indian the whole time,” the officers of Sullivan’s army danced with the Indian guests until the “Indian whoop was set up by the whole.” It was, Hubley noted, perhaps the perfect way to “conclude the mirth of the day” and bring an end to their trials and tribulations.[20]

Evidently, while their experiences during the campaign had confirmed many of their suspicions regarding Indians, it had disabused them of some important others. The Indians they had fought were, they believed, savages capable of the worst imaginable atrocities, acts inconceivable to those who operated according to what were regarded as the civilized rules of warfare. The Oneida, however, seemed to Sullivan’s men to be worthy of respect, friendship, perhaps even a limited sort of emulation.

While their leaders came largely to reject most Indians – even US allied ones like the Oneidas – in the latter years of the war and afterwards, the soldiers of the Sullivan Campaign proved remarkably unwilling to do so. It is possible (and, indeed, I argue it is the case) that the key to explaining this behavior may lie in events like the massacre at Little Beard’s Town, when the Oneida guide Hanyost fought and suffered at the hands of the Senecas alongside Lieutenant Boyd and his men. Because of this, Hanyost may have served for Sullivan’s troops as representative of the virtues of his entire people. After all, he had sacrificed himself for the cause of liberty and perhaps suffered more than any other in the expedition. To Sullivan’s men, then, he would have been considered a true martyr to the cause. Many, like Major Jeremiah Fogg, eventually came to remember him fondly as a man of “integrity and sobriety.”[21] All no doubt saw him as the epitome of the noble savage. He had bravely and nobly given his life for his cause and his comrades, just as a true soldier should and would. He was, therefore, buried with full military honors alongside his fallen brothers-in-arms. Thus, Sullivan’s men deemed him an Indian that, though savage, was worthy of the civilization they believed due to all potential American citizens as well as the loyalty and respect they knew all those who died for independence deserved.

What is perhaps even more interesting, however, is that Sullivan’s men seem to have come to think of almost all Oneida Indians in relation to the martyred Hanyost. The morning after their victory celebrations, the men of Sullivan’s army bid a remarkably fond farewell to their Oneida allies. Many echoed the sentiments of Lieutenant Colonel Adam Hubley when he honored the Oneidas as the “Relatives and friends of the unfortunate Indian Han-jost, who bravely fell with the party under the Command of the much lamented Lieut. Boyd.” They had, he recorded affectionately, “faithfully acted as Guides in the Army” and shown that they were truly loyal to the cause of liberty. Therefore, they were deemed worthy of the loyalty of their brothers-in-arms, the veterans of Sullivan’s campaign. Thus, with the death of a single Oneida, the entire Oneida nation had earned the loyalty of five thousand Continental Army veterans.[22]

Of course, there is at least some indication that those five thousand army regulars were not alone. The journal of Robert McCready from the failed expedition against Fort Detroit under General Lachlan McIntosh in 1778, for example, emphasizes the men’s close relationship with the Indian warriors that fought alongside them and frequently calls them his “Brethren.” This tone is echoed in a number of other frontier soldiers’ accounts throughout the war (and distinctly resembles that used to describe interactions between various units composed entirely of Americans). Such examples seem to indicate that soldiers that fought alongside Indians during the war came to consider them as brothers-in-arms worthy of their loyalty. This perception would ultimately translate into a sense of their worthiness as potential recipients of American civilization and eventual citizens of the United States.[23]

Meanwhile, commanders like Henry Knox and George Washington watched Indian auxiliaries fight and die alongside their own men. Such experiences could very well have translated into the belief that such Indians were indeed capable of being civilized and did, in fact, deserve to be assimilated into the new American nation. There is some indication, at least, that this may have been the case. Washington, for example, expressed the utmost admiration for the Indian allies that fought alongside his troops during the Revolution. “The Oneidas and Tuscaroras,” he wrote shortly after members of those tribes had provided his troops at Valley Forge with much needed supplies and military assistance when the cash-strapped Continental Congress could not, “have a particular claim to attention and kindness, for their perseverance and fidelity.”[24] For the remainder of the war, Washington proved himself to be a constant and powerful supporter of Oneida interests. I am “well convinced,” he wrote the Congressional War Board in 1781, “not only of the policy, but of the justice of giving support to a tribe, who have manifested so strong an attachment to us as the Oneidas have done.”[25] Even after the war, Washington continued to fight for the security of his friends among the Indian nations along the frontier and offered his wartime allies support and protection long after he had stepped down as commander of the Continental Army.[26]

Upon his election as the first President of the United States, Washington and his supporters (like Secretary of War Henry Knox) seized their opportunity to renounce what they considered to be ineffective Congressional removal policies and instead steer their government’s policies away from the depths of revenge and toward the shores of what they heralded as benevolent paternalism in the form of renewed efforts at ‘civilizing’ the Indians.

Despite their best efforts, however, the men of the Washington administration began to realize just how great the opposition to their policies was before they had even left office. As early as 1791, Secretary of War Henry Knox was writing in frustration to the House of Representatives of that body’s efforts to prevent Oneida Indians from drawing pensions as Revolutionary veterans.[27] It could only be hoped, he concluded sardonically in his missive to Congress, that the Oneidas would at least be allowed to retain the “lands to which it appears they are entitled, and which it is conceived they may receive without any act of Congress.”[28]

Instead, by the turn of the nineteenth century the Oneidas and other allied Indians had lost most of their lands east of the Mississippi River. In the interim between the Washington and Jefferson years, removal had become the chief Indian policy of the American government, a policy that would find its ultimate expression in the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and subsequent Cherokee Trail of Tears. In that same period, the Marquis de Lafayette – Washington’s aide de camp – would find his repeated requests for an audience with his Oneida brothers-in-arms from the Revolution greeted with nothing but confused stares from the Americans who came to honor him during his tour of the United States in 1825.[29] The American public, it seemed, had almost completely forgotten that there was a time when Indians like Hanyost fought and died in the name of liberty.

[1] For a historian’s argument for an emphasis on Revolutionary Indian policies practical considerations, see Leonard J. Sadosky. Revolutionary Negotiations: Indians, Empires, and Diplomats in the Founding of America. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009.

[2] For examinations of the development of racial thought in the Americas, see Thomas F. Gossett. Race; the History of an Idea in America. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963.; Yehudi O. Webster. The Racialization of America. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992.; Audrey Smedley. Race in North America: Origin and Evolution of a Worldview. Boulder: Westview Press, 1993.; and Ivan Hannaford. Race: The History of an Idea in the West. Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1996. For examinations of the racialization of American society with particular attention paid to Indians, see Patrick Griffin. American Leviathan: Empire, Nation, and Revolutionary Frontier. New York: Hill and Wang, 2007. and Peter Rhoads Silver. Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008.

[3] These policies were also rooted in American attempts during the War for Independence to establish a sense of national identity separate from that of their hated British oppressors. See, for example, T. H. Breen. “Ideology and Nationalism on the Eve of the American Revolution: Revisions Once More in Need of Revising.” The Journal of American History 84, no. 1 (June 1997): 13-39. and Kariann Akemi Yokota. Unbecoming British: How Revolutionary America Became a Postcolonial Nation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Realizing the necessity of uniting a diverse set of colonies in a time of war, the leaders of the United States began to emphasize the commonality they and their fellow colonists shared as the natives of a common land: America. In establishing this identity as Americans, they also emphasized their shared similarities with other natives of their land (in particular the Indian peoples resident throughout the continent). Informed by the racial biases of their day, this process naturally led to the formulation of an idealized Indian stereotype. This ‘noble savage’ would soon come to serve as the symbol and repository for all those republican virtues considered the innate birthright of those that grew to maturity upon their shared American continent. For perhaps the most in-depth explication of this process, see Philip Joseph Deloria. Playing Indian. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. Many other historians have echoed Deloria’s ideas in their own work. For earlier expositions on the subject, see Richard Slotkin. Regeneration through Violence; the Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1973 and Robert F. Berkhofer. The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present. New York: Knopf, 1978. For later echoes of Deloria’s ideas, see Alan Taylor. William Cooper’s Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1995; Jill Lepore. The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity. New York: Knopf, 1998; and Alfred Fabian Young. The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1999. Such authors have noted that many Americans attempted to integrate Indians into their new national identity while simultaneously excluding them from their society. They have not argued as I do, however, that this process had real consequences for the shaping of official Indian policies.

[4] For examples of the Congressional practice of awarding allied Indian nations with goods, services, and commissions, see Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, ed. Worthington C. Ford et al. (Washington, D.C., 1904-37),1775, 3: 351; 1776, 4: 111, 269. Indians that allied themselves with the American cause seem to have done so largely as a means of preserving their sovereignty and independence in the face of American cultural and territorial incursions. By accepting American overtures of friendship, they believed, they could facilitate the at least partial survival of their own culture. In many ways, Indian efforts to preserve their own independence and culture resembled those of later periods studied by scholars like David Rich Lewis. Lewis describes this process of partial acceptance of another culture in order to maintain the important aspects of one’s own culture as cultural reproduction. See David Rich Lewis. Neither Wolf nor Dog: American Indians, Environment, and Agrarian Change. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

[5] For examples of early American leaders’ presumptions of Indian savagery and the impact of such presumptions on policy decisions, see the passages from the Journals of the Continental Congress cited above. It is perhaps most prominently seen, however, in the Declaration of Independence (Thomas Jefferson. “Declaration of Independence.” Archives.gov. Accessed March 19, 2013. http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html.). Indians that allied themselves with the British fought throughout the Revolutionary War to preserve their own culture and independence by creatively adapting to the new circumstances of their age (just as the Indians of the American West would a century later). For these Indians, the British seemed far more willing and capable of protecting the most basic of their concerns. By allying themselves with Great Britain, many Indian nations found a way to both protect their homelands from American settlement and allow their young warriors to prove their name in battle.

[6] For the list of Congressional demands presented to the vanquished Seneca (which served as the template for numerous subsequent treaties), see Journals of the Continental Congress 1779, 15: 1320.

[7] Congressional Indian policies after the Revolution that were designed to punish and remove the large majority of Indian nations as far from American lands as possible. See “Report of the Committee on Indian Affairs, October 15, 1783.” in Colin G. Calloway and Alden T. Vaughan, eds. Revolution and Confederation. Vol. XVIII. Early American Indian Documents: Treaties and Laws, 1607-1789. Bethesda, MD: University Publications of America, 1994, 290-294. (In this report, Congressional leaders reasoned that “only a bare recollection of the facts” was “sufficient to manifest the obligation [the Indians were] under to make atonement for the enormities which they have perpetrated.” A “reasonable compensation” for their “wanton barbarity,” the leaders concluded, was a “compliance” with “proposed boundaries” that would force many Indians off their homelands and farther westward. Such conclusions were echoed by prominent Congressional Indian agents like James Duane (see “James Duane’s Views on Indian Negotiations, July/August 1784” in Calloway et. al., 298-301.).

[8] For the Washington administration’s most prominent expression of its support for a return to civilization policies, see “Report of the Secretary of War on the Southern Indians,” July 7, 1789.” in Calloway et. al., 529.

[9] For a collection of first-hand accounts of Sullivan’s campaign, see Frederick Cook and George S. Conover, cited above. For a brief description of the events of that campaign, see William Elliot Griffis. “Sullivan’s Great March Into the Indian Country.” Magazine of History, 2 (1905), pp. 295-310, 365-378; 3 (1906), pp. 1-10.

[10] For more information on these expeditions, which include those under under Colonels Zebulon Butler, Thomas Hartley, William Crawford, and George Rogers Clark, see David Craft. “The Expedition of Col. Thomas Hartley Against the Indians in 1778, to avenge the Massacre of Wyoming.” Proceedings and Collections of the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society, 9 (1905), pp. 189-216.; George M. Waller. “George Rogers Clark and the American Revolution in the West.” Indiana Magazine of History, 72 (March 1976), pp. 1-20.; and Parker B. Brown. “The Battle of Sandusky, June 4-6, 1782.” Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, 65 (April 1982), pp. 115-151. For primary sources, see George Rogers Clark. Col. George Rogers Clark’s Sketch of His Campaigns in the Illinois in 1778-9 and Major Bowman’s Journal of the Taking of Post St. Vincents. Cincinnati: Robert Clarke, 1869.; Gustavus Rosenthal, alias George Rose. “Journal of a Volunteer Expedition to Sandusky, From May 24 to June 13, 1782.” Edited by Baron George Pilar von Pilchau. Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 18 (1894), pp. 130-157, 293-328.; Zebulon Butler. “Correspondence of Col. Zebulon Butler, Wyoming, June-December 1778.” Proceedings and Collections of the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society, 7 (1902), pp. 131-150.; Obadiah Gore, Jr. The Revolutionary War Diary of Lieut. Obadiah Gore, Jr. Edited by R. W. G. Vail. New York: New York Public Library, 1929.; and William Lenoir. “Revolutionary Diary of William Lenoir.” Edited by J. D. de Roulhac Hamilton. Journal of Southern History, 6 (May 1940), pp. 247-259.

[11] Cook and Conover, eds., Journals, Lieutenant Thomas Blake, 39.

[12] Cook and Conover, eds., Journals, Lieutenant John L. Hardenbergh, 126.

[13] Cook and Conover, eds., Journals, Lieutenant Erkuries Beatty, 27.

[14] Adam Hubley, Jr. “Adm Hubley, Jr., Lt Colo. Comdt 11th Penna. Regt, Commencing at Wyoming, July 30th, 1779.” Edited by John W. Jordan. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 33, no. 3 (1909), 286.

[15] Hanyost’s name appears variously as Han Yerry, Hanjoit, and a variety of other spellings in numerous primary sources. I have chosen Hanyost as my preferred spelling based upon its usage in numerous articles, most prominently in one by Lockwood R. Doty. See Lockwood R. Doty. “The Massacre at Groveland.” New York State Historical Association Quarterly Journal 11, no. 2 (April 1930): 132-40.

[16] Hubley, 410.

[17] The torture of Lieutenant Boyd and his men followed the pattern of many such tortures, which played an important role in the culture and warfare of the Iroquois and other Indian nations. The removed body parts typically served as spiritual offerings to various deities, while the victim was expected to act with the courage expected of a warrior (which would bring honor both to his own name and those of the men who had defeated him). For more information on the subject, see Knowles, Nathaniel. The Torture of Captives [by the Indians of Eastern North America]. New York: Garland Pub., 1977.

[18] The more severe treatment of the Oneida Hanyost may have been rooted in an awareness of his status as a sort of ‘blood traitor’ fighting alongside American forces and against the bulk of his fellow Iroquois. Without any extant sources on the Indian perspectives from the period, however, this suggestion must of necessity find its home in the realm of speculation.

[19] Cook and Conover, eds., Journals, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Dearborn, 75.

[20] Hubley, 417; 420.

[21] Cook and Conover, eds., Journals, Major Jeremiah Fogg, 94.

[22] Hubley, 420.

[23] Robert McCready and Edward G. Williams, ed. “A Revolutionary Journal and Orderly Book of General Lachlan McIntosh’s Expedition, 1778.” Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, 43 (1960), 16. See also, for example Cook and Conover, eds., Gore, and Lenoir cited above and Consul Willshire Butterfield, ed. Washington-Irvine Correspondence; the official letters which passed between Washington and Brigadier General William Irvine, and between Irvine and others concerning military affairs in the West from 1781 to 1783. Madison, Wisc.: D. Atwood, 1882. and Edward Hand. “Correspondence of General Edward Hand of the Continental Line, 1779-1781.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 33 (1909), pp. 353-360.

[24] “George Washington to Philip J. Schuyler, May 15, 1778” in John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. Cited from HTML version at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/gwhtml/.

[25] “George Washington to Continental Congress War Board, February 23, 1781.” in Fitzpatrick.

[26] For Washington’s response to Duane’s suggestions, see “George Washington to James Duane, September 7, 1783.” in Fitzpatrick et al. In this letter, Washington admits his belief in the necessity of an at least partial punishment for some Indian nations, but concludes by maintaining his support for allied nations like the Oneida.

[27] Knox’s frustrations may have been somewhat heightened by the difficulty of American veterans to draw pensions as well. As such, it is possible that – to a certain degree – some veterans’ support for Indian ‘rights’ (as they saw them) may have been tied at least partially to their own struggle to receive a modicum of respect from their own government (to be evinced in the form of land grants for veterans, pensions for veteran families, etc.). Rather than weaken their perceived bond with certain Indians like the Oneidas, however, such a shared ‘oppression’ would most likely have strengthened it even further in the minds of former Continental Army soldiers and officers like Secretary of War Henry Knox.

[28] Henry Knox. “Oneidas and Tuscaroras: Communicated to the House of Representatives, March 3, 1791.” American States Papers: Indian Affairs 1: 123.

[29] For an account of this event, see Joseph T. Glaatthaar and James Kirby Martin. Forgotten Allies: The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006, 6.


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