‘Oonah! Oonah!’ The savages’ doleful cry of retreat vibrated upon the air. Moving towards the stream, redskins and white men crossed it together in headlong flight. It was an Indian custom to carry the dead from the field of battle, but on this occasion so precipitate was their retreat that eleven corpses were left to lie where they had fallen in the struggle. Sullivan and his army had undisputed possession of the field. To Brant and to the men of the Six Nations this was a day of grief and disaster. The gates of their country were thrown open; their villages were left undefended; there was nothing to prevent the ravager from treading down and plundering the fair land of their fathers, the pride of a noble race, the gift of the centuries. But in the light of their conduct at the affair in Cherry Valley it must be said that their fate was not undeserved.
As General Sullivan advanced, burning and devastating, he came at length into the valley of the Genesee. This he made ’a scene of drear and sickening desolation. The Indians were hunted like wild beasts, till neither house nor fruit-tree, nor field of corn, nor inhabitant, remained in the whole country.’ One hundred and twenty-eight houses were razed in the town of Genesee. Sullivan became known to the Indians as the ‘Town Destroyer.’ ’And to this day,’ said Cornplanter, in a speech delivered many years afterwards, ’when the name is heard, our women look behind them and turn pale and our children cling close to the necks of their mothers.’
The War Chief had, indeed, been beaten on the Chemung river. And yet, in the hour of defeat, he had added lustre to his name. In the annals of the forest there are few incidents as glorious as this Spartan-like struggle on the frontiers of the Indian country. Points of similarity can be traced between this battle and another which was waged, in 1813, by the great Shawnee warrior Tecumseh, at Moravian Town, on the Canadian Thames. Like Brant, Tecumseh was allied with a force of white men, and, like the chief of the Mohawks in the struggle on the Chemung, Tecumseh played the leading role in the battle of the Thames. In each engagement the fight was against an army much stronger in numbers; in each the defeat was not without honour to the Indian leader.
OVER THE BORDER
Instead of proceeding to attack the strong loyalist fort at Niagara, General Sullivan re-crossed the Genesee on September 16. Lack of provisions, he asserted, was his reason for turning back. Before this, Brant had frustrated a plot which was afoot among the Indians to desert the British cause. Red jacket, an influential chief of the Senecas and a very persuasive orator, had suggested that the Six Nations should negotiate a permanent peace with the colonists. ‘What have the English done for us,’ he exclaimed, as he pointed in the direction of the Mohawk valley, ’that we should become