As the brothers rose to prominence and attracted followers, they drew American attention and contempt, which, in turn, created problems for pro-American Aboriginal peoples who sought a peaceful co-existence with the settlers. There, in November , the Americans launched an attack on what had grown into a community of more than 3, Aboriginal people.
Tecumseh was away on a recruiting mission and Tenskwatawa led his people to defeat. Tecumseh wasted no time in rebuilding the alliance, pointing to Prophetstown as an indication of what lay in store for Aboriginal people who did not resist American incursions. Tecumseh sought out support from the British, which he secured. It was for this reason that the Americans accused the British of stirring up trouble on their western frontier. The Royal Navy tried to starve France of imports and American shipping was an easy target.
As well, the British were looking for British sailors who jumped ship to American vessels. There were plenty and they provided an excuse for the Royal Navy to seize American ships. Congress to agitate for war with Britain. For the Americans this seemed like an enormous risk, one requiring a lot of bravado.
Britain was not prepared to turn the full force of its military might on the United States; it was too busy in Europe fighting France. In fact, the British government had not wanted a war with the Americans at all. Nor did the rise in hostilities necessarily reflect the desires and interests of settlers on either side of the border. Rising British demand for wheat could not be met by British North America alone, and American producers and shippers took advantage of the situation to export their grain through Canadian ports as well as Halifax and Saint John.
Upper Canadian settlers in the Niagara Escarpment included a great many Americans who had simply migrated westward and paid little heed to the border between the two countries. Likewise, Canadian exporters on the north side of Lakes Erie and Ontario shipped goods across the water to American ports.
Families in exile since were in some instances reunited by these economic linkages before Such concerns did not, of course, factor into the thinking of Britain or Washington. The Americans could not attack Great Britain directly; an invasion of the British Isles was out of the question. To conduct the war, the Americans had to find British military targets at sea, in the form of the Royal Navy, and on land in North America, where the first obvious target was Canada.
By , some Americans believed that an invasion of Canada would trigger a Canadian revolt and help ensure an American victory, which might even bring the war to a quick end. They were wrong. For this reason, the American garrison at Fort Michilimackinac was surprised when a British force arrived in July and demanded their surrender. The British force was small, consisting of the garrison from St.
The fort fell without a shot being fired. British relations with the Aboriginal nations of the Great Lakes had improved after The War Hawks were right in their suspicions in this regard.
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Keeping the Americans off-balance in the West was undoubtedly in the best interests of the British and Canadians, although the settler society was hardly anti-American. Efforts to drum up support and voluntarism among the Upper Canadians was, as historian Jane Errington has demonstrated, largely a failure. Brock had nothing but good things to say about Tecumseh. Following setbacks on the lake and at Amherstburg, Procter led a retreat up the Valley of the Thames repeatedly refusing to take up offensive positions. His troops were, however, much depleted and demoralized.
Against an American force three times that of the British-Aboriginal-Canadian alliance, the outcome was almost certain. Tecumseh was one of the casualties of the battle. With his death the Confederacy and the dream of a unified Aboriginal homeland in the Great Lakes region perished as well. The Aboriginal warriors from across the region dispersed and thereafter played only a minor and supporting role in the war.
Brock peeled off from the western frontier to defend the Niagara Peninsula in October This was the first instance of destruction of public buildings for which the Americans would repeatedly pay a high price in This became a theme of naval battles on the Great Lakes in the year that followed. Capturing the Niagara would have controlled the flow of supplies between Lake Erie and downstream Lake Ontario.
Likewise the eastern end of Lake Ontario at Prescott became a target in an effort to cut off Upper Canadian troops from Montreal suppliers. The American garrison withdrew and commerce across the border resumed as though there was no war. Likewise the American attacks in late failed along the Champlain corridor. Champlain Lake issues into Champlain River and then into the St. Lawrence and was a Haudenosaunee invasion route for centuries.
Importantly, Chateauguay was fought mostly by Canadien Voltigeurs, a volunteer regiment bolstered by promises of significant land grants at the end of the war, along with Mohawks from near Montreal. Robert Sellar paints us the picture:. The Indians, of whom such apprehensions were entertained, soon appeared, the first band being one of about a hundred braves, commanded by a French-Canadian, Capt. Their appearance was terrifying enough, for beyond a girdle they were naked, their bodies and faces streaked with the war paint, and feathers stuck in their hair.
One good woman who regarded a band of them, who came to her house one evening, with terror, had all her apprehensions set at rest when, on looking into the shed where they were to pass the night, she witnessed several on their knees in prayer. They were divided into bands of 40, and were constantly on the move along the frontier from Lake Champlain to St Regis, doing service as scouts and patrols which was simply invaluable, for while they watched the enemy like the hawk, they were as stealthy in their movements and as difficult to catch as the snake.
Though the Americans repeatedly endeavored to surprise these Indians bands, and though they were constantly hovering around their lines, it is a curious fact, illustrative of their consummate craft, that not a single Indian was captured during the war When they became acquainted with them, the settlers rather liked to have a visit from an Indian patrol, as it gave them a sense of security. These children of the forest carried their food in small haversacks, and, except when the weather was cold or wet, rarely went near a house save to buy provisions. The pro-British warriors of Akwesasne, Kahnawake, Kanehsatake, Tyendinaga, and the Six Nations reserve are credited by modern historians for the decisive role they played in blocking the American invasion of Canada.
At the time, these warriors were more concerned about their immediate circumstances than how they would go down in history. In , eight Akwesasne chiefs petitioned the Governor General of Canada and gave this account of what happened to them as a result of taking up arms on behalf of the King:. That Animosity which manifested itself on the part of the American and nominally neutral Indians towards your Petitioners Regis and to erect Huts on different Islands in the vicinity of Cornwall, to shelter their families from the inclemency of the weather.
That while on the Niagara frontier your Petitioners were frequently engaged with the enemy many of their warriors were killed and some severely wounded and all as your Petitioners believe served to the entire satisfaction of their Commanding Officers. That while your Petitioners and their families were thus exposed to many dangers and hardships innumerable in consequence of their attachment to their Sovereign those who remained as Americans or Neutral Indians in the Village of St.
Regis were living in peace and comfort and availed themselves of the absence of your Petitioners and Families to take Possession of Such Buildings and Plantations as best suited them.
Some of the former were wholly destroyed and of the latter many still remain in possession of those who obtained them. The animosities continued well after the end of the war, forcing the loyalists to erect temporary dwellings on the islands that were probably only slightly better than the huts they were forced to live in before.
They eventually returned to the village, but continued to suffer harrassment by the neutral and pro-American factions. The American St. Regis Indians.
First there was William Gray, a former American soldier that was captured during the American Revolution and adopted by the Indians. He married an Akwesasne woman and became the interpreter for the chiefs. His influence with them afforded him business opportunities. It was Gray that guided American forces in their first attempt to take St.
For his efforts, Isaac Leclair captured him and sent him off to Quebec where he died in prison. Another prominent member of the American faction was Thomas Williams, or Tehoragwanegen. He fought for the British in the American Revolution and eventually became a chief at Kahnawake. By the time the War of broke out, he had established himself in Akwesasne. Thomas Williams had a son named Eleazer who took an active part in the war, but to what extent depends on how much stock you put on his claims and his character.
For years it was assumed that his journal for the War of was fabricated many years later, not only because he took credit for American success at the battle of Plattsburgh, but because he also claimed to be the Lost Dauphin of France. Keith A. Lawrence and Franklin counties. Had he not done so, it is doubtful that we would know anything about these men today. Hough thanked Williams for his efforts by promising to publish his biography of his father, Thomas. It is a shame that Hough did not produce a similar volume on the life of Chief Atiatonharonkwen, because this might have prevented him for slipping through the cracks of history.
Who Fought in the War of ?
Regis, among the native population. The Early Life of Atiatonharonkwen. The boy who came to be known as Chief Atiatonharonkwen and Colonel Louis Cook was born in in old Saratoga modern Schuylerville a small settlement on the Hudson River, 11 miles east of Saratoga Springs. His mother was an Abenaki Indian and his father was an African slave. Many years later he told an acquaintance that his Abenaki name was Nia-man-rigounant, and that it had something to do with a multi-colored bird. There was an old fort in Saratoga in a sad state of disrepair, but the Governor of New York could not get the funds to fix it up, so he withdrew the troops that were stationed there.
This left the town defenseless against an incursion of the French and their Kahnawake allies that took place in October of French soldiers claimed the slaves, and the Kahnawake warriors claimed the Indians they found.
Native Americans in the Revolutionary War
Because he looked more African than Indian, one of the soldiers grabbed our little hero. His mother cried out that he was her son. The Kahnawake warriors intervened, and he was allowed to stay with his mother. They were taken to Kahnawake where they were adopted into the tribe. The mother of Atiatonharonkwen died in the years after their arrival in Kahnawake, so the priest of the mission persuaded him to live with him and serve as his atttendant.
As Eleazer Williams wrote,. Here Lewis acquired the french language of which he spoke with ease. He grew up pretty much as other Indians Boys of the place. He was early discovered as having inquisitive mind. In his youth he was often seen in councils to hear the orators of the day and to learn the object of their deliberations. When the French and Indian War erupted in , he was in his teens and old enough to go to war. We can safely assume that he did so in the war paint and attire of his Kahnawake brothers.
The presence of a young warrior who looked more African than Indian was nothing unusual among the Indians, who regularly took in escaped slaves or slaves they captured on raids. They joined the many white captives that were taken from New England, who were also known to paint up like their Indian brothers to the point that they were indistinguishable. Basically, he was Magua in The Last of the Mohicans. When the war ended, he resumed the life of a hunter. He got married and started a family. He was unable to reconcile himself to English rule, so he took an interest in the affairs of the thirteen colonies and ventured among them to see for himself what all of the commotion was about.
His initiative earned him an audience with General George Washington and an appearance before the Massachusetts House of Representatives where he shared intelligence about efforts of the British to win over Kahnawake and the other members of the Seven Nations of Canada. This was in On Sunday evening, thirteen of the Caughnawaga Indians arrived here on a visit. I shall take care that they be so entertained during their stay, that they may return impressed with sentiments of friendship for us, and also of our great strength.
One of them is Colonel Louis, who honored me with a visit once before. Three days later, Washington wrote to General Philip Schuyler about the visit of Atiatonharonkwen and his Kahnawake delegation:. They have, notwithstanding the treaty of neutrality which I find they entered into with you the other day The chief of them who, I understand, is now the first man of the nation, intends, as it is intimated, to apply to me for a commission, with the assurance of raising four or five hundred men, when he returns.
He may have exaggerated his standing at Kahnawake to impress General Washington.
Somehow his gambit worked. Washington chose to grant his wish for a commission. By then the bulk of his people were fighting on the side of Great Britain, and he was leading Oneida and Tuscarora warriors instead! For instance, he was with the American forces that were ambushed by British troops and warriors of the Iroquois Confederacy at Oriskany Creek in August of , and is mentioned in one of the popular accounts of the battle:.
I can stand it no longer; either he or I must die. The Indian leaped into the air and fell dead across the fork of a tree which had sheltered him. Louis gave a wild Indian whoop and then ran up to his victim. In March of , General Philip Schuyler gave Atiatonharonkwen an assignment that shows just how much confidence the American military put in this man:. Colonel Louis Cook was also a man of refinement, as he demonstrated at Valley Forge in the spring of They became mortal enemies during the war and were both present at Oriskany.
General Louis Cook in the War of When the War of was declared, Atiatonharonkwen was in his seventies, but he rallied to the American banner once again. Franklin Hough tells us that he visited General Jacob Brown in Ogdensburgh in the summer of and received a new commission:. On his return to his family, his appearance was so changed, that they did not know him, and his children fled from the proffered caresses of their father, as if he had been the spirit of evil.
General Louis of the St. Regis Indians, a firm and undeviating friend of the United States, and his son, have been in this village for several weeks. The St. Regis Indians are disposed to remain neutral in the present contest, but what effect the British influence and British success may have upon them we know not. Agreeably to the request of Genl Louis, of St. Louis represents of great importance These Indians are very expensive allies.
On to Canada
Atiatonharonkwen was called upon by the neutral faction in August of to see what he could do to effect the release of some influential Kahnawake chiefs and warriors and their commanding officer, Delormiere, who had been captured by the Americans on the Niagara frontier. He agreed to do what he could on their behalf, and set out for Niagara, but one of his enemies wrote a letter to the Americans to warn them that he was coming on a secret mission. He was arrested when he arrived and held for eight days.
He was eventually released when some officers from Plattsburgh came along that knew him, but a commission of inquiry was held to sort through the mess. According to Hough,. You seem to doubt what I have been, and what I am now. It is right that you should watch the interests of your country in time of war. My history you can have. Atiatonharonkwen was cleared of any suspicion and returned to Akwesasne where he joined General James Wilkinson at French Mills in the autumn of According to Eleazer Williams,. When the American army under Gen. Brown crossed into Canada side, he and a detachment of the warriors of the six nations, accompanied the army.