Patriots' Blood

Native Americans in Military Service - 1778
Action in the Bronx, Summer 1778
Battle of Kingsbridge
Roster of the Indian Company
Indian Field Today
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On September 11, Lieut. Solomon Hendrick, ranking officer of the Indian Company, visited the main encampment of the Continental Army at White Plains.  There he returned fourteen muskets and one rifle to the quartermaster, and met with General Washington.   That same day, Washington wrote to Jedidiah Huntington of the Connecticut Brigade requesting that he release the four remaining Stockbridge Indians from their regiments due to the severe setback suffered by the tribe at Kingsbridge.   One such man was James Simon of the 1st CT, whose military service card from September to December, 1778 has the remark, “absent by leave of his Excelly. Genl. Washinton.”  This example of shifting of men and the initial process of detaching various soldiers from their home regiments to serve in the Indian Company caused confusion in the military records. In the aftermath of the massacre many men were reported as deserted from their regiments, when in fact, they were allowed to go home. 

An example of this confusion was the record of Thomas Worroups of the 7th CT.  He was listed as on command with the Indian Corps in August and on the October roll, he was noted as “furlowd Sept. 11 for 13 days by Gen. Huntington.”  Yet his company commander noted that Worroups had deserted from the light infantry service, without regard to his furlow.  Regimental records show that Warroups rejoined his unit as of January 1, 1779.

Of the other men in the Indian Company, most returned to their regiments. Upon his return from captivity, Jabez Pottage served out his term with the 7th CT. When discharged after three years of service, Pottage joined Sheldon's Dragoons in 1781. In fact, the entire corps of Light Infantry was disbanded in the early fall, and the men went back to their regiments in preparation for going into winter quarters.

And so came an end to what Washington had planned as the creation of a "Flying Army composed of light Infantry & rifle Men mix[ed with] about 400 Indians with them; being thus incorporated with our own Troops, who are designed to skirmish, act in Detachments & light Parties, as well as lead the Attack..." The anticipation made by Washington in the desperate days of Valley Forge was altered by the events of that year. The Oneida warriors were at home, defending their families and property from their pro-British brethren, and the arrival of the French army and navy in July, 1778 lessened the necessity of employing such special forces as the Indian regiment. Finally, with winter approaching and the decimation of the Indian Corps at Kingsbridge on August 31, there was no practical method of rebuilding and sustaining this unique strike force.

To be sure, the Stockbridge Indians and their fellow Algonquin and Iroquois neighbors and relations continued to play crucial roles in the remaining years of the war. The Oneida and Tuscarora bore the burden of internecine warfare on the border when their villages were burned out in retribution for Sullivan's Expedition in 1779. Later in the war, many of these refugees found comfort with the Stockbridge in Massachusetts. The Delaware Indians tried to remain neutral on the frontier, until Captain White Eyes was murdered, the Americans could not sustain them as allies, and the brutal extermination of nearly one hundred Moravian Delaware & Mohican converts at Gnadenhutten in 1782 by patriot militia. (see

The story of the Stockbridge Mohicans continued well past the war and extends into the present. The shared kinship and culture were evident in the years just after the Revolution when New England and New York Indians shared in the effort to adapt to the realpolitik world of a culture bent on land acquisition and the exploitation of nature. The establishment of New Stockbridge and Brothertown, all on land gifted by the Oneida after the war, is a clear demonstration of the communal bond that, while predating the American Revolution, was fastened forever by the blood shed by the Indian men who had fought and died together on a hot summer's day in 1778.


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