On being asked as to the help he might render to the English arms in the New World, Brant asserted strongly that he and his people were loyal. He said that, as War Chief, he would lead three thousand of his warriors into the struggle, and that they would fight manfully as subjects of the king. He knew full well how desperate the contest was going to be, and wishing to have some article on his body that would identify him in case of death, he bought from a London goldsmith a ring, in which he had his full name engraved. This he wore through the vicissitudes of many a long year.
Before the winter was over Brant was anxious to return to his tribes, for he knew that when the hatchet was whirling the wigwam was more fitting for him that the palaces of London. Accordingly, in the spring of 1776, he set out for his western home.
BRANT MEETS HERKIMER
When the ship on which Brant was a passenger touched the shores of America, he was landed secretly somewhere near New York city. He was now face to face with the difficulty of reaching his friends—a task that called forth all his alertness. He was in a hostile country, a long way from the forests of the Mohawk valley lying above Albany. But he was a wily redskin, too clever to be caught, and after adroitly evading many dangers he eventually reached the border country and crossed over safely into Canada.
In July 1776, several weeks before his arrival, the colonists had declared their independence. The language of the Declaration of Independence was confident, but soon after it was uttered the colonists suffered a series of defeats. Arnold was beaten by Carleton on Lake Champlain and Washington was forced to retreat until he had crossed the Delaware. It has been said that Brant took part in the Battle of the Cedars, where, on the north bank of the St Lawrence, Captain Forster overpowered a body of four hundred Americans; but this occurred in May 1776, and since Brant’s ship did not arrive until July he could not have been one of the combatants in this engagement. What Brant was doing during the greater part of the year following his arrival in Canada has not been recorded. In the spring of 1777 we are able to pick up his trail again. While the armies were preparing for another summer campaign, Brant returned once more to his old haunts near the frontier of the colony of New York, taking up his position at a place called Oquaga on the Susquehanna river, south of the Mohawk valley. This was a favourite resort of the Indians, and Brant was well aware that from this point he could carry on to advantage a guerrilla warfare against the rebels and their sympathizers.