Two images dominate popular conceptions of conflicts in early American history: Colonists battling
Indians in defense of their lives and families, and patriot farmers battling red-coated soldiers in defense of liberty.
At the Battle of Kingsbridge near White Plains, New York, in 1778, however occurred a desparate struggle
of tomahawk against saber. But the battle confounded the ususal stereotypes of Indian-white conflict. The Indians
were American patriots, fighting and dying in the cause of independence which they embraced as their own. Their adversaries
were British loyalist soldiers. the Indians were from a mission town, Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The few who
survived the War for Independence returned home to find that their lands and town offices had been taken over by non-Indian
neighbors who stayed home during the fighting and benefited from the absence of the Stockbridge men. After the Revolution,
Stockbridge Indians moved west, first to New York, and eventually to Wisconsin.
Richard Walling provides important information and source material about the Indians who fought and died
in this battle. It was, relative to the tide-turning conflicts like Saratoga and Yorktown, a small affair and has generally
been forgotten in the histories of the Revolution that became a national triumph. But it was a major catastrophe for
the Stockbridge community whose men died there. The participation and sacrifices of these Indians in this war are a
reminder of the complexities of the past. The subsequent experiences of these American patriots are crucial to understanding
the place accorded to Indian people in the new nation they helped to establish with their blood.
Colin G. Calloway
American Indian Historical Research