A Caughnawaga soldier gave me a bit of soap; and I spent the morning there. By noon the fierce heat of the sun had dried my clothes; by two o’clock our small scout of four left the Stanwix and Johnstown road and struck out through the unbroken wilderness for German Flatts.
THE HOME TRAIL
For eleven days we lay at German Flatts, Colonel Visscher begging us to aid in the defence of that threatened village until the women and children could be conveyed to Johnstown. But Sir John Johnson remained before Stanwix, and McCraw’s riders gave the village wide berth, and on the 18th of August we set out for Varicks’.
Warned by our extreme outposts, we bore to the south, forced miles out of our course to avoid the Oneida country, where a terrific little war was raging. For the Senecas, Cayugas, a few Mohawks, and McCraw’s renegade Tories, furious at the neutral and pacific attitude of the Oneidas towards our people, had suddenly fallen upon them, tooth and nail, vowing that the Oneida nation should perish from the earth for their treason to the Long House.
We skirted the doomed region cautiously, touching here and there the fringe of massacre and fire, often scenting smoke, sometimes hearing a distant shot. Once we encountered an Oneida runner, painted blue and white, and naked save for the loin-cloth, who told us of the civil war that was already rending the Long House; and I then understood more fully what Magdalen Brant had done for our cause, and how far-reaching had been the effects of her appearance at the False-Faces’ council-fire.
The Oneida appeared to be disheartened. He sullenly admitted to us that the Cayugas had scattered his people and laid their village in ashes; he cursed McCraw fiercely and promised a dreadful retaliation on any renegade captured. He also described the fate of the Oriskany prisoners and some bateaux-men taken by Walter Butler’s Rangers near Wood Creek; and I could scarcely endure to listen, so horrid were the details of our soldiers’ common fate, where Mohawk and Tory, stripped and painted alike, conspired to invent atrocities undreamed of for their wretched victims.
It was then that I heard for the second time the term “Blue-eyed Indian,” meaning white men stained, painted, and disguised as savages. More terrifying than the savages themselves, it appeared, were the blue-eyed Indians to the miserable settlers of Tryon. For hellish ingenuity and devilish cruelty these mock savages, the Oneida assured us, had nothing to learn from their red comrades; and I shall never be able to efface from my mind the memory of what we saw, that very day, in a lonely farm-house on the flats of the Mohawk; nor was it necessary that McCraw should have left his mark on the shattered door—a cock crowing, drawn in outline by a man’s forefinger steeped in blood—to enlighten those who might not recognize the ghastly work as his.