The Stockbridge-Mohican Community, 1775-1783


February 3, 2016
by Bryan Rindfleisch Also by this Author


Journal of the American Revolution is the leading source of knowledge about the American Revolution and Founding Era. We feature smart, groundbreaking research and well-written narratives from expert writers. Our work has been featured by the New York Times, TIME magazine, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian, Mental Floss, NPR, and more. Journal of the American Revolution also produces annual hardcover volumes, a branded book series, and the podcast, Dispatches

On July 4, 1776, the authors of American independence declared to the world “that all men are created equal, [and] that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” However, one of the Declaration’s grievances against the English Crown was that it employed “the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” The message therein was quite clear: Native Americans were the decided enemies of independence. Such sentiments not only resonated with the revolutionary leadership, but also the general population that by and large embraced an “anti-Indian sublime,” a rabidly hostile attitude toward Native peoples and communities during and particularly after the war.[1] Along with the obvious ramifications of such a statement, the founders sought to delineate the boundaries of citizenship and inclusion in the new nation, one that ultimately did not include Native Americans. As part of this, though, the revolutionaries also engaged in memory politics; meaning, they tried to whitewash, or sanitize, the narrative of rebellion by removing the agency and support of indigenous peoples who fought alongside the Americans. Instead, Native allies were lumped together with those indigenous nations that supported the British, thereby casting all Native peoples in the role of adversary. In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, the United States, possessed of an insatiable hunger for indigenous lands, turned this fabricated truth into gospel truth.[2]

The revolutionaries’ list of indigenous allies, a fluid one that changed with the circumstances of war, Native politics, and other internal and external forces, is quite striking. Foremost among those who supported the Revolution were the Stockbridge-Mohican community in New England, the Oneida and Tuscarora nations among the Iroquois, the St. Francis Abenaki, Micmac, and Penobscot peoples in Canada, the Catawba nation in North Carolina, towns among the Creek and Yuchi to the southeast, and others. The case of the Mohican peoples of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, illustrates that these indigenous allies defied the Declaration’s dichotomy of good and bad, or civilized and savage, and paints a very complicated picture of Native communities caught up in the revolutionary events that forced them to choose sides, producing untold changes within their societies. Yet at the same time, Native Americans like the Stockbridge-Mohican continuously adapted to and navigated these transformative contexts and circumstances.

Who were the Stockbridge-Mohican? First and foremost, they are the “Muh-he-con-neok” (Muhheakun’nuk), the “People of the Waters that are Never Still.”[3] Historically, they are Mahican, Housatonic, Wappinger, Tunxis, Shawnee, and other “River Indian” (Hudson River) peoples who all congregated at the town of Stockbridge, one of several Mahican communities in New England and New York, in the mid eighteenth century.[4] Specifically, Stockbridge was a “Praying Town,” a settlement of assorted Native peoples who embraced Christianity and lived in the English colonies alongside white inhabitants. Being Christian as well as residing in a “Praying Town” was both a deliberate choice (often attributed to the “Great Awakening” in the early eighteenth century) and a consequence of King Philip’s War (1675-1676), therefore a mixture of indigenous agency and settler colonialism.[5] For the British, “Praying Towns” offered strategic buffers against French Canada and the inroads of Catholicism, while at the same time confining indigenous peoples to fixed spaces out of the way of colonial expansion. For Native Christians, these communities offered pragmatic solutions to increasingly precarious situations in the colonies. For instance, the “Praying Towns” provided a means through which the Mahican might preserve a portion of their sacred lands,[6] reconstitute their society and population through coalescence with other Native Christian groups, retain cultural identities as brokers between white and indigenous worlds, and a host of other benefits.[7] But whatever their motives, the Stockbridge time and again proved themselves staunch supporters of the British colonies, serving in militia units during King George’s War, the Seven Years’ War, and Pontiac’s Uprising, all between 1747 and 1764.[8] In short, the Stockbridge-Mohican, and other indigenous allies along with them, were in the hearts and minds of many American colonists long before 1776.

Von Ewald's 1778 sketch of a Stockbridge Mahican. (Wikimedia Commons)
Von Ewald’s 1778 sketch of a Stockbridge Mahican. (Wikimedia Commons)

However, the years 1764-1775 proved momentously disruptive for the Stockbridge-Mohican community. In the wake of the Seven Years’ War, a flood of white settlers poured into the town and devoured thousands of acres of Mohican land, oftentimes through squatting, illegal purchases, turning Native debts into acquisitions of land, and other mechanisms of dispossession. Furthermore, the growing white majority within the community increasingly excluded Mohican members from the town council, turned colonial law and courts against them, and monitored the behavior and movement of Native residents. As John Konkapat remarked in 1763, the whites were “endeavouring not only To get all the power but our Lands too into their hands.”[9] Out of this chaos evolved a deeply segregated community, where both indigenous and white inhabitants “emerged … with a starker sense of their differences.”[10] And even when the Stockbridge-Mohican appealed to higher authorities, going so far as to plead their case in London to the Lords of Trade in 1765, both colonial and imperial administrators merely offered promises rather than answers.[11] On the eve of the Revolution, then, a greatly disillusioned Stockbridge-Mohican community seemed one of the most unlikely of allies for the Americans.[12]

Yet despite all of these experiences, the Stockbridge-Mohican overwhelmingly supported the revolutionaries, which most certainly begs the question: why? While such a decision likely involved a multitude of factors, one cannot get past the fact that the Mohican were completely surrounded by a settler community, known for its rabid opposition to the Stamp Act as well as for being a hotbed of activity for the Sons of Liberty.[13] It would take no leap of the imagination to believe that the Mohican felt enormous pressure, if not the threat of intimidation and violence, to join the revolutionary movement. Yet the Stockbridge-Mohican also saw the revolution undoubtedly as an opportunity. If they sided with the American rebels and proved their loyalty, the new nation might respect or honor their attempts to reclaim lost lands and to protect their sovereignty. In petitions to the Massachusetts legislature and Continental Congress, the Stockbridge presented their case of being “defrauded of their lands,” and thereby demanded “assurances that their land rights … would be vindicated,” to which both governments promised “to protect you to the utmost of our power.”[14] Other motivations included the fact that the British occupied New England and threatened Mohican homes, ideological similarities between Mohicans struggles to preserve their autonomy and the revolutionaries’ own battles for sovereignty within the empire, military service that offered wages and land bounties, and the initiative of certain individuals, like Jehoiakim Mtohksin, who joined the revolutionary protests of their own volition.[15]

At the outset of the war, Stockbridge community leaders like Solomon Wa-haun-wan-wau-meet met with the revolutionary leadership to cement an alliance. As Solomon declared in April 1774, “Brothers: You remember when you first came over the great waters, I was great and you was very little … I then took you in for a friend, and kept you under my arms, so that no one might injure you.” But since then, “our conditions are changed. You are become great and tall … and I am become small … Now you take care of me, and I look to you for protection.” In concluding his talk, Solomon promised “Wherever you go, we will be by your sides. Our bones shall die with yours. We are determined never to be at peace with the red coats, while they are at variance with you.”[16] Congressional delegates responded to Solomon that “Your engaging in this cause discovers not only your attachment to your liberties, but furnishes us with an evidence of your gratitude[,] … abundant proof of your fidelity[,] … and [we] shall depend upon your firm and steady attachment to the cause you have engaged in.”[17]

It was not long before the Stockbridge-Mohican found themselves at the center of the revolutionary struggle. In the immediate aftermath of shots fired at Lexington and Concord in April 1775, dozens of the Stockbridge community joined the New England minutemen who rushed to the scene. In what became known as Battle Road, Mohican and American soldiers lined the path connecting Concord, Lexington, and Boston where they poured an incessant fire upon the British army and inflicted heavy casualties.[18] From there, the “Stockbridge Indian Company”[19] marched to Cambridge, where thousands of militiamen besieged the British army within Boston.[20] Over the course of ten months, the Mohican built siege fortifications, patrolled the outer defenses, and conducted periodic ambushes of British forces, like on June 21 when “two Stockbridge Indians killed four British regulars.”[21] Or in the exaggerated reports of Horatio Gates, “the Stockbridge Indians had ambushed a party of the Ministerial Army & Kill’d Two Officers & Sixty Men.”[22] In one memorable instance, “some British barges sounding the waters near the mouth of the Charles River were put into a retreat by a shower of arrows that killed one redcoat and wounded three. The arrows were aimed by Stockbridges … who were encamped near that place.”[23] And at Bunker Hill, the Stockbridge were knee-deep in the fighting to fend off the British assault, which came at the cost of one of their own, Abraham Naumanmpputaunky.[24]

The descendants of Jehoiakim Mtohksin, who relayed the following story to the missionary Cutting Marsh in 1838, fondly recalled his reckless act of bravery during the siege of Boston. At a moment when British regulars found the opportunity to occupy a watchtower in the nearby town of Charlestown, Mtohksin took it upon himself to get rid of them. Armed with “combustibles,” Mtohksin successfully avoided detection and then “set fire to the [adjoining] barn,” after which he “retreated with all speed … amidst a shower of bullets.” Soon thereafter, the British-occupied “buildings with their contents were entirely consumed,” which forced the British soldiers to abandon their position. When Mtohksin returned to American lines, he was received with “no small joy and surprise … for they expected he was killed, he having [at one point been] seen to fall amidst the fire of the enemy.”[25] Although the story does not correlate with primary sources, it may be based on an actual event that was altered as it was recalled by successive generations.

On account of such services, the Continental Congress seized upon the Stockbridge example as evidence for the need, and imminent support, of other Native allies. Months before the signing of the Declaration, Congress resolved “That the Commander in Chief be authorised and instructed to employ in the Continental Armies a number of Indians not exceeding … two thousand men.”[26] Although George Washington proved reluctant to enlist the Stockbridge or other Native allies at first, he eventually changed his mind and confided to Timothy Edwards, one of the Commissioners for Indian Affairs, “the expediency of engaging as many of them as you can.”[27] The Stockbridge regiment soon after marched north where they joined Benedict Arnold in his stand at Valcour Bay in October 1776, as well as the defense of Fort Ticonderoga the following year.[28] During these campaigns, the Stockbridge often served as advanced scouts. In one instance, Abraham Nimham led Mohican soldiers behind enemy lines where they harassed the British army. On their return to camp, Nimham and his men met with a smaller force of Tory militia. To catch the Loyalists off guard, Nimham demanded, “will you be true to the King, and fight for him till you die?” The Tories responded “O yes!” But upon recognizing the Stockbridge as not part of their army, the Loyalists tried to backtrack, “What King do you mean? I mean King Hancock!” One can only imagine that Nimham smiled and retorted “we don’t know kings in America yet; you must go along with us.”[29]

Of even greater importance for the revolutionaries, the Stockbridge-Mohican acted on their behalf as emissaries and ambassadors to other indigenous nations. Throughout their long history, the Mohican often served as diplomatic bridges between the many people of the Hudson, Susquehanna, and Ohio Valley regions, as well as Canada.[30] As Hendrick Aupaumut asserted: “It was the business of our fathers to go around the towns of these nations to renew the agreements between them.”[31] Thus the Stockbridge operated within the cultural and historical continuities of such roles. Therefore, Mohican envoys like Solomon Uhhaunauwaumut met with the headmen of the Iroquois Confederacy (Six Nations) in the early years of the war, with whom he exchanged wampum belts as well as promises of neutrality and friendship during the war.[32] Similarly, Abraham Nimham journeyed to Montreal in 1775 as the American “ambassador of peace,” and appealed to Native populations like the Abenaki: “I want your Warriors to Join with me and my Warriors like Brothers and … help me fight [British] Regulars.”[33] Meanwhile, Hendrick Aupaumut trekked westward to the Ohio River Valley where he met with the Delaware and Shawnee nations. After invoking the kinship connections between the Stockbridge, Delaware, and Shawnee people,[34] Aupaumut asked them “to rise up against the Red Coats that they may not do as they please with this Big Island … let us humble them.[35]

In the fall of 1777, the Stockbridge company requested “to be [further] employed in the service of the United States,” and were thereby “referred to Major General Gates.”[36] Upon arriving in upstate New York, the Mohican once again reunited with Benedict Arnold, who relied on the Stockbridge to scout and harass the British army. As German General Friedrich Adolf von Riedesel complained, “a few English soldiers, who were digging potatoes in a field 500 paces in the rear of headquarters, were suddenly surprised by the enemy, who suddenly issued from the woods and carried off the men in the very faces of their comrades. For these sallies the Americans also generally employed Indians who were called Stock bridges.” Riedesel then lamented that “many soldiers disappeared in this manner.”[37] Such actions by the Mohican culminated with their involvement in the Battle of Freeman’s Farm, followed by the American victory at Bemis Heights that forced the surrender of Burgoyne’s army. In the wake of the Saratoga campaign, the Stockbridge marched south and joined Washington’s forces at Valley Forge. Inn June 1778 they fought at the Battle of Monmouth.[38] And the following summer, Washington personally asked the Mohican to accompany and assist his armies under the command of Major General John Sullivan[39] against the Iroquois Confederacy (in what became known as the “Sullivan Expedition”[40]).

However, the turning point for the Stockbridge-Mohican occurred near White Plains, New York in late 1778, at a place called Kingsbridge. Led by Abraham Nimham, the Mohican soldiers were on patrol to “annoy the enemy and prevent their Landing or making incursion into the Country,” when all of a sudden they ran into a far superior force that consisted of Tartleton’s dragoons, Hessian jägers, and Loyalists. The resulting skirmish was captured in vivid detail by John Graves Simcoe, commander of the Queen’s Rangers. Simcoe witnessed “the Indians give a yell, and fired upon the grenadier company [of the Queen’s Rangers], wounding four of them … They were driven from the fences, and Lt. Col. Tarleton, with the Cavalry, got among them.” Although “the Indians fought most gallantly, [and] pulled more than one of the Cavalry from their horses,” the Stockbridge were eventually overwhelmed.[41] As the Hessian officer, Johann Ewald, recalled: “The Indians … defended themselves like brave men against all sides where they were attacked … however, most of the enemy were killed, partly shot dead and partly cut down by the cavalry. No Indians, especially, received quarter, including their chief called Nimham and his son.”[42] In total, fourteen Mohican soldiers lost their lives at Kingsbridge, including community leaders like Nimham, a staggering blow to the Stockbridge people.[43]

Meanwhile, the Mohican families of Stockbridge similarly suffered at home, despite their services to the revolution. As early as 1777, Abraham Nimham pleaded with the Continental Congress to provide “necessary cloathing for ourselves and families … that we don’t lieve our Wives and our Children naked.”[44] Shortly thereafter, Jehoiakim Mtohksin wrote to Horatio Gates about the worsening conditions at Stockbridge, albeit thanking Gates “for your kindness in letting [our] young men come home … [to] help their families in gathering their harvest.”[45] And in the wake of Kingsbridge, the Stockbridge appealed to the Massachusetts legislature for the “Widows [of the slain] who are now left to take care of themselves and their children; without help from their Husbands, who at this season of the year provided for their families.”[46] Even when Washington himself tried to move Congress into action on behalf of the Stockbridge, little aid was ever forthcoming.[47] In particular, the white residents of Stockbridge not only neglected their indigenous counterparts, but continued to chip away at Mohican lands within the town. As Native residents demanded of the state legislature and Congress in 1782, “Brothers! What I ask is that you resign to me that land which is justly mine!” To remind the revolutionaries of their sacrifices, the petitioners invoked “Where your fathers died in battle, my fathers died by their side!”[48] But such pleas fell on deaf ears and by 1783, all Mohican land in Stockbridge was lost.[49]

While the revolutionaries reveled in the founding of a new nation according to the principles articulated in the Declaration, the renowned Mohican missionary Reverend Samson Occom remarked that the Revolution “has been the most Distructive … of any wars that ever happened in my Day.”[50] As the Stockbridge-Mohican discovered, they were not only excluded from the new republic, but even the memory of their services were forgotten or purged from the record.[51] The only recognition they ever received was a “Certificate to the Muhhekunnuk Indians” from George Washington, giving “Testimony of their attachment to the United States of America during the late War,” after which the Stockbridge received an “ox roast.” But even this document suffered from the same narrative violence as the Declaration. Whereas Washington framed the Mohican “intention of removing their present settlement near Stockbridge” as of their own volition, the reality was that white residents forced the Mohican community out of that town, and out of the state of Massachusetts.[52] In the end, settler colonialism was the name of the game for the new American nation, and not even those indigenous peoples who bled and died for the revolution were safe from that reality.

Yet the Stockbridge-Mohican not only continued to survive these assaults upon their livelihood and sovereignty, but repeatedly adapted to and negotiated these colonial conditions. After being dispossessed of their land at Stockbridge, the Mohican drew upon their pre-existing relationships with the Oneida nation, another indigenous ally of the revolutionaries, to secure refuge among the Iroquois. And when the United States started to carve up Iroquois territory through treaties and fraudulent purchases in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the Mohican once again improvised, this time migrating west and settling in present-day Wisconsin where they were later joined by a group of the Delaware people known as the Munsee.

Today, the Stockbridge-Munsee Community (Band) of Mohican Indians continues to navigate and adapt to their colonial circumstances and contexts within the United States. Their reservation located in Shawano County, Wisconsin, is itself a testament to a long history of survivance and acclimation to colonial conditions,[53] all despite their services rendered during the Revolution. But unlike this community’s experiences during and after the war, the Stockbridge-Munsee are now a sovereign nation with an economic infrastructure all their own. Through corporate businesses such as Mohican LP Gas Company, North Star Casino, Pine Hills Golf Course & Restaurant, among others, the Stockbridge-Munsee provide extensive services to their own people and community, which include care for elders, housing, higher education and adult learning, medical and health support, insurance coverage, family wellness, conservation, and more. The same could not be said of the Stockbridge-Mohican in 1783.[54]

The seal of the Stockbridge-Munsee nation is a testament to their innovation and reinvention as well as this community’s resolve, survivance, and adaptation to the colonial worlds that they have encountered over these past four centuries. Created and designed by Edwin Martin, a Mohican member, the seal is called “Many Trails,” symbolizing the “endurance, strength and hope” of the Stockbridge in the face of great violence, dispossession, and forced removal, all of which stemmed from the revolutionary era. In the words of the nation itself, the seal represents and embodies “a long suffering [but] Proud and Determined People.”[55]


[1] Peter Silver, Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008), xx (“anti-Indian sublime”).

[2] Colin Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country: Crisis and Diversity in Native American Communities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), xiii-xiv.

[3] The Stockbridge-Mohican are not to be confused with the modern Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, but are instead the Stockbridge-Munsee Community (Band) of Mohican Indians in Wisconsin.

[4] Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country, 85; Rachel Wheeler, To Live upon Hope: Mohicans and Missionaries in the Eighteenth-Century Northeast (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008), 187; William A. Starna, From Homeland to New Land: History of the Mahican Indians (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2013), 175.

[5] David J. Silverman, Red Brethren: The Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians and the Problem of Race in Early America (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2010), 23 (King Philip’s War), 44-45 (Great Awakening); Patrick Frazier, The Mohicans of Stockbridge (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994), 41 (“Praying Towns”); Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country 86 (“Praying Towns”).

[6] At the outset of establishing the Stockbridge community, indigenous residents were promised that they would hold the lands within the town in perpetuity, so long as they allowed white families to live alongside them. Silverman, Red Brethren, 37.

[7] As historian Rachel Wheeler suggests, this coalescence of indigenous communities at Stockbridge – Mahican, Housatonic, Wappinger, Tunxis, Shawnee, and others – fostered a distinct identity as cultural, political, economic, and religious brokers between white and Native worlds, as well as across indigenous societies and populations. In addition, Wheeler demonstrates that the amalgamation of these Native peoples at Stockbridge transformed the identity of “Mahican” into a more collective “Mohican.” Wheeler, To Life upon Hope, 187-189.

[8] The Stockbridge-Mohican were a constant presence in the New England militia and Robert Rogers’ Rangers in the French & Indian War. A quick survey of the muster rolls from Massachusetts regiments and the British army from 1755-1763 shows that scores of Mohican men were involved on the front lines of the war, oftentimes in their own units, under the command of Lt. Jacob Cheeksaunkun and Capt. Jacob Naunaumphtaung. Leon Miles, “Mohican Warriors: A Documentary History, 1747-1813,” Manuscript V3, Stockbridge-Munsee Library & Museum Archives, Bowler WI, pg. 2-11; Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country, 88; Frazier, The Mohicans of Stockbridge, 144.

[9] Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country, 89 (Konkapot).

[10] Wheeler, To Live upon Hope, 222 (“differences”).

[11] Frazier, The Mohicans of Stockbridge, 162-163 (London), 169 (promises).

[12] Silverman, Red Brethren, 74-75 (post-1763 settlers); Frazier, The Mohicans of Stockbridge, 180 (debts); Wheeler, To Live upon Hope, 204 (courts), 227 (community segregation).

[13] Frazier, The Mohicans of Stockbridge, 165 (Stamp Act); Silverman, Red Brethren, 109 (“Sons of Liberty”).

[14] Frazier, The Mohicans of Stockbridge, 204 (“vindicated,” “power”); 8 March 1782, Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, Volume XXII: January 1, 1782 – August 9, 1782, ed. Gaillard Hunt (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1914), 120 (“defrauded”).

[15] Frazier, The Mohicans of Stockbridge, 193 (ideology); Starna, From Homeland to New Land, 193 (wages, bounties); Miles, “Mohican Warriors: A Documentary History, 1747-1813,” 11-12 (Mtohksin).

[16] Captain Solomon Speech to the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, April 1774, Manuscript PPLA 17, Stockbridge-Munsee Library & Museum Archives, Bowler WI (“great waters,” “great and tall”); Captain Solomon Speech at German Flats and Albany, 17 June 1775, Manuscript PPLA 17,  Stockbridge-Munsee Library & Museum Archives, Bowler WI (“bones”).

[17] John Patterson to Jehoiakim Mtohksin, 1 April 1775, The Life of John Patterson: Major General in the Revolutionary Army, ed. Thomas Egleston (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1894), 38-39 (“liberties,” “fidelity”).

[18] Eric G. Grundset, ed. African American and American Indian Patriots of the Revolutionary War (Washington D.C.: National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, 2001), 31 (Battle Road); Miles, “Mohican Warriors: A Documentary History, 1747-1813,” 12 (Mtohksin).

[19] The “Stockbridge Indian Company” consisted of two separate companies, one led by Jehoiakim Mtohksin, and the other by Solomon Uhhaunauwaunmut. Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country, 92.

[20] Miles, “Mohican Warriors: A Documentary History, 1747-1813,” 12-13 (“Indian Company”); Doyen Salsig, Parole: Quebec, Countersign: Ticonderoga (Teaneck, NJ: Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1980), 237 (“Independent Company”).

[21] Richard Frothingham, History of the Siege of Boston and of the Battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), 213. In addition, the Stockbridge on June 25, 1775 “killed more of the British guard” and the next day “Two Indians went down near Bunker Hill and killed a sentry.” Andrew McFarland Davis, “The Employment of Indian Auxiliaries in the American War,” English Historical Review Vol. 2: No. 8 (October 1887): 715.

[22] Miles, “Mohican Warriors: A Documentary History, 1747-1813,” 14 (Horatio Gates).

[23] Miles, “Mohican Warriors: A Documentary History, 1747-1813,” 14 (“barges”).

[24] Ibid., 14 (Abraham).

[25] Ibid., 29 (Mtohksin). See also Journals and Diaries of Rev. Cutting Marsh, Missionary to the Stockbridge (Mohican) Indians, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, WI.

[26] May 25, 1776, Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, Volume IV: January 1, 1776 – June 4, 1776, ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1906), 395 (“number of Indians”).

[27] George Washington to Timothy Edwards, August 7, 1776, The Writings of George Washington, Volume V: June-August 1776, ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890), 392 (“expediency”).

[28] Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country, 96; Frazier, The Mohicans of Stockbridge, 209 (Valcour Bay); Salsig, Parole: Quebec, Countersign: Ticonderoga, 237 (Ticonderoga); August 9, 1777, Pennsylvania Evening Post, American’s Historical Newspapers, Marquette University (Ticonderoga).

[29] Captain Johann Ewald, Diary of the American War: A Hessian Journal, trans. and ed. Joseph P. Tustin (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), 474-475 (“King Hancock”).

[30] Wheeler, To Live upon Hope, 193 (cultural, historical continuity).

[31] Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country, 94-95 (“agreements”).

[32] Barbara Graymont, The Iroquois in the American Revolution (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1975), 68; Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country, 93, Miles, “Mohican Warriors: A Documentary History, 1747-1813,” 13. Despite Stockbridge intercessions, the Iroquois were similarly swept up by the revolution, which precipitated the Battle of Oriskany between American and Loyalist forces and also pitted Iroquois warriors on both sides of the skirmish. As a consequence, the Iroquois Six Nations erupted in civil war, with lines drawn in the sand between the Mohawk, Cayuga, and Seneca (pro-British) against the Oneida and Tuscarora (pro-American), with the Onondaga caught in the middle.

[33] Graymont, The Iroquois in the American Revolution, 68 (“Warriors”).

[34] Wheeler, To Live upon Hope, 192 (Stockbridge-Shawnee); Stockbridge-Munsee Community, “Our History: Origin & Early Mohican History,” (Stockbridge-Delaware). The Stockbridge-Mohican community included several Shawnee peoples, which accounted for the kinship connections between them. For further information about the migrations and survivance patterns of the Shawnee, see Stephen Warren, The Worlds the Shawnees Made: Migrations and Violence in Early America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014). With the Delaware, the Stockbridge-Mohican Creation (Migration) Story establishes a centuries-old (if not longer) relationship between the two people. During the Mohican sojourn millennia ago, they came across the Lenni Lenape (Delaware) and ever since then maintained relationships with one another.

[35] Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country, 95 (“rise up”).

[36] October 25, 1777, Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, Volume IX: October 3, 1777 – December 31, 1777, ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1907), 840 (Gates).

[37] Richard M. Ketchum, Saratoga: Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997), 381 (Arnold-Stockbridge); William L. Stone, ed. and trans. Memoirs and Letters and Journals of Major General Riedesel (Albany: Arno Press Inc., 1969), 159 (“potatoes,” “disappeared”). For instance, on September 23 the Stockbridge captured two sentries and eight other prisoners. On September 24, they took three additional prisoners. On September 26, three Hessians, one Tory, and two sailors. On September 28, two British soldiers. “Journal of Oliver Boardman of Middletown, 1777: Burgoyne’s Surrender,” Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, Volume VII (Hartford: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1899), 226-227.

[38] Ketchum, Saratoga, 381 (Freeman’s Farm); Frazier, The Mohicans of Stockbridge, 227 (Monmouth).

[39] Instructions to Major William Goodrich, June 19, 1779, The Writings of George Washington, Volume XV: 6 May 1779 – 28 July 1779, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1936), 268 (Sullivan Expedition); George Washington to Major William Goodrich, July 4, 1779, The Writings of George Washington, Vol. XV, 367-368; George Washington to Solomon Hendricks, July 4, 1779, The Writings of George Washington, Vol. 15, 368-369.

[40] The “Sullivan Expedition,” one of the largest and deadliest invasions of Iroquoia, remains a bitter memory for the Iroquois today. The Six Nations have many reasons to still revile this military action, but none more so than the excessive violence used to wipe out entire Iroquois communities.

[41] John Graves Simcoe, Simcoe’s Military Journal: A History of the Operations of a Partisan Corps, called the Queen’s Rangers (New York: Bartlett & Welford, 1844), 84-85 (“fences,” “gallantly”).

[42] Ewald, Diary of the American War, 145 (“defended”). According to popular myth, Nimham, upon seeing the Loyalist dragoons descend upon them, reportedly shouted to the rest of the Stockbridge to “Fly, my people! I am old, and I can die here!” Simcoe, Simcoe’s Military Journal, 86.

[43] As General Charles Scott reported to Washington, there were “fourteen Indians … missing [including] Nimham his father and the whole of the officers of that Corps … I am in Hopes it is not so bad as it at Present appears, But I can’t promise myself that.” Charles Stuart to George Washington, August 31, 1778, The Writings of George Washington, Volume XVI: July-September 1778, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1887); Frazier, The Mohicans of Stockbridge, 224.

[44] October 1777, Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, Volume V, 451 (“naked”).

[45] Jehoiakim Mtohksin to Horatio Gates, October 22, 1777, Horatio Gates Papers, 1726-1828, MS 240, Series 1: Correspondence, Reel 6, New York Historical Society, New York NY (“kindness”).

[46] Miles, “Mohican Warriors: A Documentary History, 1747-1813,” 21 (“Widows”).

[47] George Washington to the President of Congress, September 13, 1780, The Writings of George Washington, Volume XX: September 6, 1780-December 20, 1780, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1938), 44-45.

[48] Frazier, The Mohicans of Stockbridge, 235 (“battle”).

[49] Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country, 103 (1783).

[50] Silverman, Red Brethren, 108 (“Distructive”).

[51] See David Ramsay, Mercy Otis Warren, or any other contemporary chroniclers of the Revolutionary War for evidence of such “deliberate forgetting” or “purging” of indigenous involvement with the American war effort.

[52] Certificate to the Muhhekunnuk Indians, July 8, 1783, The Writings of George Washington, Volume XXVII: June 11, 1783 – November 28, 1784, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1938), 53.

[53] See James W. Oberly, A Nation of Statesmen: The Political Culture of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans, 1815-1972 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2005).

[54] Stockbridge-Munsee Community, “Services,”

[55] Stockbridge-Munsee Community, “Our History: Many Trails,”


  • Very interesting article. It raised some questions about colonial-Native relations early in the war. Most importantly, did the authors of the Declaration see a distinction between “Indian Savages” and the “praying” communities that had become by some British measures civilized and thus non-savage? Was that a way the Continental leaders could justify a distinction between their Native allies and those fighting alongside the British?

    On the sources, there’s a mention of an exchange between a Stockbridge leader and the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in April 1774, but the congress wasn’t formed until October. Horatio Gates’s exaggerated description of a Stockbridge company attack in early July 1775 was written from New York based on, it appears, newspaper accounts. What sort of coverage did the Patriots’ Native allies get in the Patriot press?

    1. Thanks for reading!

      Your question about whether the authors of the Declaration saw a distinction between “Savage” (enemy) and “Praying” (allied) Native peoples is a fantastic one. I don’t really have a good answer, but I suspect — much like yourself — that if such a distinction was made, it was used to differentiate the revolutionaries’ employment of the Stockbridge from the British use of Indigenous allies like the Cherokee (thereby situating “blame” for involving Native peoples on the British, per the Declaration of Independence).

      In terms of press coverage, the Stockbridge were usually the “face” — or prime examples — of Patriot “Indians” during the Revolutionary War, which may be on account of their “Praying” (if you will, more “civilized”) nature. From Boston to Saratoga, the Patriot newspapers singled out the Stockbridge more than other allied Native peoples, at least up until the Battle of Kingsbridge. After that, I know very little.

      As for the Mass. Provincial Congress exchange, many thanks, truly. The source itself was a transcript from the Stockbridge archives in Bowler, WI — making note of that now.

    2. Now that I think about it, it seems much more likely that the original author of that Provincial Congress document likely meant “April 1775” instead of “April 1774,” since — as you point out — that body didn’t exist until later that year. But April 1775 is particularly significant for the Stockbridge since they were at the forefront of the fighting in that month, which provided the backdrop for Captain Solomon’s speech. So I’m betting that April 1775 is the right date, instead of the recorded April 1774. Many thanks for this help!

      1. I agree that the most likely explanation for the Provincial Congress reference is a simple one-digit error. The congress’s own published records, as I recall, show that it was in contact with men from Stockbridge about Native soldiers before April 1775.

        I also recall that the newspaper accounts of the raising of a Liberty Pole or flag in the American camps in the spring of 1775 describe the Natives’ involvement. And a couple of individual Native soldiers’ names appear in the Provincial Congress’s records and Washington’s household accounts (in the latter case for digging the general’s necessaries).

  • Caughnawaga Abenaki, is not correct……the settlement at Caughnawaga was made up of mostly of folks who had an Iroquoian culture, not an Abenaki (Algonkin) one….Makes me doubt how factual the rest of the article is….

    1. Hi John,

      You are correct, my mistake, Caughnawaga (Kahnawake) was a settlement rather than a “people” per se, and predominately Mohawk (although that community had good relations with Abenaki communities like St. Francis). Thank you for that clarification, truly.

      As for the Stockbridge at Battle Road, see the NPS report compiled by George Quintal Jr., “Patriots of Color: African Americans and Native Americans at Battle Road & Bunker Hill,” as well as oral sources recorded in the archives of the Stockbridge-Munsee in Bowler, WI.

      However, your insinuation that the rest of my article may not be factually based upon that one error (mentioned in passing), when the larger focus of the research and article is on the Stockbridge-Mohican, is — in my opinion — uncalled for. As you can see from my footnotes, I am a very diligent researcher and I would invite you to look at those footnotes for further information.

      Having said that, I thank you for reading the article in the first place, whether you agree with it or not.

    1. Quintal’s “Patriots of Color” report, cited above, names scores of militiamen with Native American and African ancestry at Battle Road. However, it doesn’t list any who enlisted in Stockbridge. Why not? Especially since, as I wrote in a comment above, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress was already in touch with men from that town about fighting for the Patriot cause?

      One reason is that Stockbridge was so far west that there was no way its men could have reached the fighting on April 19. Another is that Quintal’s report was based mostly on Continental Army pension applications. Did the Stockbridge soldiers live long enough to apply for those? Were they eligible?

      It’s quite clear from other sources that the Stockbridge company arrived in the provincial camp early in the siege of Boston and participated in skirmishes. Do Stockbridge traditions claim they were involved in the “big name” battles of Lexington & Concord and Bunker Hill? If so, I suspect that was because veterans got more credit from a connection to those events than to lesser-known but equally dangerous fights.

      1. Great questions. And yes, Stockbridge traditions suggest that they were involved at Battle Road, Breed’s/Bunker Hill, etc.. But keep in mind that the Stockbridge community was composed of multiple peoples from various backgrounds and cultures (a coalescence society) — such as Mahican, Houstanic, Tunxis, etc. (they would not be known or identify as “Stockbridge” per se) — individuals of which were involved in the fighting immediately after Lexington & Concord. This may suggest that Stockbridge involvement was initiated at the individual or personal level, but it seems that after April 1775 there was a concerted effort by Solomon, Mtohksin, and the Nimhams to direct Stockbridge energies in a collective manner.

        My other suspicions is that Stockbridge individuals were part of other New England communities prior to the outbreak of war, and thus were involved in the conflicts immediately following Lexington & Concord (if not those skirmishes themselves) on an individual basis.

        But, as you suggest, the opportunity to link their service to “big name” battles such as Lexington & Concord may have been attractive as well, which in itself is significant and has potential ramifications for how Native Americans navigated their relationships with the United States after the war.

        Intriguing, this is food for thought.

        1. Quintal’s report is based mostly on U.S. and Massachusetts records, which state where men enlisted. That place was usually their home town, but not always. Indeed, some men who felt allegiance to the Stockbridge Native community might have been living and enlisted elsewhere. Yet it’s also clear that there was a Stockbridge company distinct from the rest of the provincial army, one that came to the siege, yet I can’t find them discussed in that report.

          Here’s the Massachusetts Provincial Congress’s outreach to the Stockbridge Indians in early April 1775 before the British march to Concord. An interesting counterpoint to the Declaration’s complaint.

  • Great piece. Any idea how many Stockbridge Indians received gift blankets and ribbons from the Provincial Congress. Is dozens your best estimate?

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