BRAVEHORSES WARRIOR US Army Lt. Colonel Lewis Cook

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Adjunct Professor

Mohegan Warrior

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United States Army Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Cook
Warriors Citation
Lt. Col. Lewis Cook was born at Saratoga. His father was colored man & his mother an Indian woman of the Mohegan or Abaniquis tribe. The attack made on Saratoga by the French & Indians in November 1745, the parents of young Lewis were among the captives. A French officer Mr. Le Corn [Brother of the noted St. Luke Le Corn] seized the Boy and would claim him as his captivated property. But his mother unceasingly cries out "Uh Nihawa" i.e. "He is my child"—No-no," said the officer, "he is a Negro and he is mine." The afflicted mother made an appeal to the Iroquois chief warriors for the restoration of her child-who immediately demanded of the officer to deliver up the child to them as one of their own people, who reluctantly gave up his prize. The mother, out of gratitude to her Iroquois friends would accompany them with her child, on their return to their country. She lived & died at Cahnawaga, and after her death, the Jesuit father of that Mission, persuaded young Lewis to reside with him as his attendant, which was accepted. Here Lewis acquired the French language of which he spoke with ease. He grew up pretty much as other Indians Boys of the place. He was early discovered as having inquisitive mind. In his youth he was often seen in councils to hear the orators of the day and to learn the object of their deliberations. From these councils, he often said his old age, that "he learned the Lessons of [wisdom]." Living as he did with the Jesuit father of the Mission, he was taught the faith of the Romish church, and was somewhat partial to its mode of worship yet he did not believe all her dogmas &. was liberal towards other religious sects. The war which commenced in 1755, between Great Britain & France, Lewis was among the Indian warriors on the side of the French who were detached to watch the movements of the English on the Lake George. Early in the spring of 1756, he being in the vicinity of Ticonderoga and was one of the scouting party and out to spy out the enemy, and was met by the English under Major Rogers who, were on a similar errand, a skirmish ensued. The contest was maintained with a great obstinacy by both parties for nearly one hour but finally, they separated. In this affair, Lewis was wounded which troubled him for a considerable time. From this period, he was considered to be a warrior of the first order as to courage & bravery. He was with the French troops at the depot of General Braddocks on Ohio, where a French officer was saved by the brave and skillful conduct of Lewis. He was also at the taking of Fort Oswego with General Montcalm in 1756. In 1758. But few of the Iroquois warriors had reached the fortress of Ticonderoga, when General Abercrombie appeared before it, with 7000 British regulars & ten thousand colonial troops – In this unequal engagement, Lewis was for the first time, made a commander of the Iroquois party and the choice was not misplaced. General Montcalm and Chevalier de Levy commended him as a good soldier for the French and a brave warrior for the Indians. In April of 1760, he accompanied with the French army under Chevalier de Levy when an attempted was made by the French to retake Quebec and was engaged in the battle on the Plains of Abraham, where the English were defeated under Gen. Murray. After the conquest of Canada his war spirit entirely ceased—He once more, to gain his livelihood, resumed the chase. In the mean time, he was much respected by his Brethren, the Indians as well as the French, where ever he was known. Lewis was so much attached to his old military friends, the French; he was never reconciled under the English Government. He would sigh, when speaking of the English conquest of Canada. He watched with intense interest at the movements of the American Colonies [ ] the expected rupture between England & her American subjects. Once or twice he took a journey to Albany for information. The Late Gen. Schuyler & John Bleccker, he would confer and from whom he derived all the information he desired. Many of the Cahnowaga chiefs, on his return became friendly to the American cause from the information they [received] from him. [The] above mentioned gentlemen were known to them & highly respected. The long expected hostilities between Great Britain and her colonies, finally reached Lewis, with which he seemed to be roused from his lethargy, and his martial spirit was once more on the wing. He was sure that the Americans would succeed, --He knew they were brave people, (by experience) he had met them in a battlefield, when they fought with unequal numbers, like tigers. He was sure; they would sweep the English every where and show them what is to be a soldier.
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"They will fight," said he, "for their liberties, their country, their wives & children and for their church." "The King of England" said he "would make slaves of them, and their country as a nursery to keep up the strength of his army & navy and as a treasury to enrich his Kingdom." To these, they will never submit—their cause is a good cause, and they will be victorious." After the skirmish at Lexington and the battle of bunker hill, and General Washington had assumed the command of the American army at Cambridge, several of the Cahnowaga chiefs would visit the American General & his camp and this visit Gen. Washington mentioned it in one of his letters to Congress+ [+which see in the I Vol. of his Letters.] Lewis was one of the parties. He had exerted to persuade & encourage the chiefs to make this visit. He succeeded as to get the party in a motion and their arrival at Crown point where they remained for several days where most unfortunate event occurred which would to destroy his peace & comfort for a time—although done innocently, he and a young man of the party, in a play, was killed. In consequence of this sorrowful event, Lewis, was dejected & appeared to be in a gloomy state of mind. But after the interview with the American General he assumed his former vivacity [ ] which he appeared to be highly gratified what had passed between the Gen. and his party. His war spirit was rekindled in his breast & his whole soul appeared to be to defend the Americans cause. General W. was pleased with his speech which was delivered in a council with him, which unfortunately is not preserved. The Rev. Mr. Kirkland Missionary to the Oneida Indians (it so happened he) was present & acted as an interpreter on the occasion, from him we learn, something what it passed between the Gen. W. & the Indian council with the Iroquois from Canada and the Oneidas. "One of the Cahnowaga chiefs rose & said, He perceived that there was a war cloud rising in the East which may make much trouble and bring a great distress upon the American people, on account of which his very soul troubled him. War was a great evil to any nation or people. He knew this by sad experience. In the war between the English & France, which ended in the conquest of Canada by the former, the French people, in Canada were brought to the very verge of destruction—and it was happy for them, that they were conquered at the time and that this saved them from further distress, and lost of lives. He rejoiced to see that the Americans had such a independent spirits as to take up arms & defend their rights and liberties—and that they would succeed because, he believed that God was on their side. and that this must be gained at expense of much blood and a great distress upon the people. That the King of England was strong & powerful King, yea, so powerful was he as to conquer the French King in Canada. But that the King of heaven is a stronger than any Earthly King and will defend the oppressed." and then with a strong voice, added, "Brother Bostonians, Be strong & courageous. Your cause is good—you will assuredly be supported by the Great Spirit above, whose omnipotent arm will defend you, and in the end will give you a victory. A victory that will resound through all the Earth and this shall be a notable day with you & your children and it shall be celebrated with joyful hearts as long as the true Americans spirits shall beat in their hearts. Your true Indians friends from the north will do what they can in your favor. Indians are free born people—they love liberty, yes, they would wish to live as free as the deer in the forest and fowls in the air. Brother Bostonians, you are a great people, you are sensible of this as to dare to meet the King of England in a battlefield. We the Indians, are now in feeble state in comparison of what we were once, -- you will I hope, always remember the feeble people, once the Lords of this soil— but who are now much reduced as to numbers & strength. The war spirit, which is naturally in us, is still so, and we will therefore exert ourselves to our uttermost to aid you when an opportunity shall offer, even to the destruction of our village, by the British your enemies. Remember, Brother, Bostonians, the words of your Brothers at Cahnowaga. Never forget that a portion of them are your true friends at heart, & pray to the Great Spirit that you may become free people as your Brothers, the Indians. It is said, by those who heard the foregoing speech, that it was delivered with great modesty, but it was with much animation. General W. pronounced it to be sensible, judicious & friendly speech. It was received] with much satisfaction by all present, especially by the officers of the army. Other friendly speeches which were somewhat more eloquent were delivered on this occasion by the Cahnowaga chiefs, but the above was the only one preserved. The chiefs were regaled during their stay at the expense of the Continental Congress. They returned by way of Albany, where a Council was held by Gen. Schuyler with them and John Bleecker acted as an interpreter. There Lewis made known to the party of his intentions to remain and join the American forces in the contest. Four others volunteered with him. The remainder ten returned to Canada with strong appearance to be friendly and to render secret service to the American Colonies. So they did, on various occasions. Governor Carlton & his Indian agents were jealous of them. But Indian sagacity & activity were not to be thwarted by "slow & long thought Englishmen." They carry out their plans & projects in defiance of the vigilance of the British agents. The information they communicated to Lewis, he to Gen Schuyler & General W. were seasonable & important. In 1775, he accompanied with the American army when Gen. Schuyler invaded Canada, but who was prevented by sickness. He left the army at Aux Isle Noix and was succeeded by Gen. Thomas. After the reduction of Montreal, Lewis was active among the Indians & Canadians in sustaining the American cause. He assisted Col. Livingston and Haven in raising volunteers from the French. One or two Regiments of them were received into the service. In the spring of 1776 the commanding General of the American forces would erect a fort at the Cedars, with which Lewis attempted in strong language to dissuade him as impolitic, & unsafe with so small detachment he had sent to erect the works & to defend it. Knowing as he did, that the British were still in possession of Oswegatchie under Capt. Foster, a vigilant & brave officer, although he had but few regulars with him yet, he had one thousand Indians warriors were at his command. As predicted by Lewis, the unfinished works were attacked by Foster & his Indians & some Tories. Col. Biddle being absent from his command & had gone down to Montreal to bring up reinforcement—and Major Butterfield made but a feeble resistance and surrendered. There was a massacre a goodly number of the prisoners by the western Indians. Col. Biddle corps was advancing at the time & a portion of them had reached at St. Anna's Church where the enemy's Indians had already amassed—a skirmish ensued, Lewis with Cahnowagas fell with them on the right flank and as soon as the British Indians heard the war whoop, they fled and at the same instant, the Americans pressed forward, the English also gave away and retreated to their Boats and were fired upon so long as the Indian rifles could reach them. In June Governor Carlton having received large reinforcements and the Americans were compelled to retreat. Lewis was deeply affected with event. He left Canada once more and directed his course for Albany, accompanied with 16 Cahnowagas. From this period, he watched with intense interest, the preparations & movements of the enemy under the command of Gen. Burgoyne. In the winter 1777 he was in a feeble state of health, and this may be attributed to his having passed through so many hardships in his several expeditions. But in the spring his health was restored. As the Oneidas had taken headquarters at Schenectady, so he resided with them when not in actual service. He gave early intimations (in June) to General Schuyler of the movements of the enemy on Lake Champlain. With his Indian friends, they were in two battles which was fought at Saratoga and shared with the Americans—the joyful event in beating and taking the English army. In the winter of 1778 or 9, when it was contemplated by Congress to invade Canada one more time with an army under the command of General La Fayette, and to prepare the minds of friendly Indians & French in that quarter of such an event and to obtain information the strength of the enemy in that quarter, Lewis and Capt. John Vincent were dispatched on this dangerous expedition. They were Indians and the country they were traverse was known to them. They reached Chateaugay River and there Vincent was left with a friendly French Canadian and Lewis alone proceeded accompanied by the Frenchman and in dark ness met the American chiefs as they were called and delivered to them Letters and the message from General Schuyler and La Fayette which were received with peculiar satisfaction. Before the dawning of the day and in the midst of a snow storm, he left the village and was once more on his way toward Albany accompanied by Vincent. They struck into deep forest and bent their course for Lake Champlain which they gained at the north end of Isle Motte. As they entered upon the [Lie] of the Lake they were discovered by the British piquet guard at Rouse's Point and heavy guns were fired. This hastened their steps and in a few hours they reached Onion River which they followed up and so on to Connecticut River. It would appear that Lewis went on a similar errand in the winter of 1777 and extended his journey as far as river Boquet in Essex County and there met him according to previous agreement a Messenger from the north, and there they interchanged the communications entrusted to them. Lewis reached the camp of his friend in a state of starvation, as he had lost his provision bag in crossing one of the branches of the Hudson River. He could not hunt on the way, as the British had Indian scouts from Lake Champlain to Fort Edward - But he was relieved by his forest friend, who had plenty of venison, Bears Geese & with all, his friend had preserved two bottles of Brandy for him. After spending three days in merriment, they separated on the fourth at noon— each one bearing an important & confidential communications to their respective friends. Lewis crossed the Lake & took his course for Coose Country, as some Letters were directed to President Wheelock of Dartmouth College & his friend Col. Biddle of Haverhill, by whom the dispatches were immediately for warded to Albany. In June following he visited Gen. Washington's camp where he was much respected for his patriotism and was often with Gen. Washington in a private walk. Lewis, "worth to our cause," said Gen. Washington to some of his officers, "cannot be too highly appreciated." In 1780 he received a commission from Congress as Lt. Col. of the Calvary with which he had merited for the important services he had rendered to the American people. After peace in 1783, he & his Cahnowaga friends accompanied with the Oneidas on their return to their country, where he resided until 1784 and the removed with his family to St. Regis—he gave preference to this place (which being near the great territorial line) instead to that of Cahnawaga, where in all probability he would not live in peace, in consequence of the great prejudice existed among the British officers in the Indian Department and the Tories. The Cahnowaga, who had so nobly volunteered in the American cause, where left to find home where they could—as no special provision was made for them by Congress as they had done for the French Canadians. These patriotic Indians for years wandered here & there homeless. Some of them finally went to St. Regis. This act of ingratitude on the part of Congress is indelible stain in the view of the Indians upon the character of that Honorable body. Congress may yet retrieve its character by granting something to their descendants. A spirit of unfriendly feelings was creating Ed between Col. Lewis & Col. Brandt during the Revolution. They were in opposite parties. This feeling was cherished by Brandt to unmanly degree. After Lewis' return to St. Regis he was often disturbed by the British Indian agents. Although living peaceably with his Indian friends, yet, his former course in the American struggle was not easily forgotten by the Tories who had taken a refuge in the Province. Col. Brandt at Montreal in 1797 made a visit, with a large party of the Mohawks & held a council with Sir John at La Chine. The Mohawks were heard with threats against the life of Col. Lewis. Some of the friendly Cahnowagas, gave timely notice to Lewis of those threats. As it was expected, on the return of Brandt’s party, they crossed the St. Lawrence from Cornwall with a view to execute those threats uttered at La Chine. But he was secured by his friends. An account of which there was a fray with the Mohawks by some of the St. Regis Indians. Lewis received a military grants in land from the State, like other officers, and a hand tract from the Oneidas and several sums at different times from General Government. The claims to some lands in the state of New York were aggregated by the Iroquois Indians in 1789. To favor the claims of the Cahnowaga Volunteers, for services rendered to the U. States, in the revolution, Lewis, who had been their late commander, would sustain their claim. With this view, he, Thomas Williams & W. Gray, the interpreter, formed themselves into an association to effect this charitable and friendly act in behalf of the long neglected Indian Volunteers, if effected, not only for their benefit but for all those who may hereafter be in a similar situated. To give home to the Indian Volunteers as well as to manifest some gratitude by the Americans towards them was one of the most powerful arguments which moved the Legislature of the state to give hearing to the pretend claims and finally, to go into a treaty, with seven nations of Canada, as they termed themselves, who were to realize five hundred dollars per ann. and this was all it was provided for them. But the land was given up for the benefit [of] their American friends, which tract all lay within the state of New York. Although the treaty reads as if it was surrendered to the 'St. Regis Indians" who were all living within the British Province, and the name of the place & village was over the territorial line, and this only shows that the commissioners intended for their own volunteers friends as a place of refuge then & hereafter. This tract was within the town of Bombay and Missina. The arguments used by Lewis, Williams & Gray with the Legislature for a grant certainly favors this idea & construction of the treaty. It was intended for those who may live within the state of New York and by those who had rendered service. When Lewis & Williams objected to the term of St. Regis Indians, being used but the commissioner replied, that the name was nothing, which being in Canada and the state of New York had nothing to do with it. And the same was used in [consequence?] of Lewis and some of the volunteers being at the place, who intended to reside in the tract specified and for whose benefit the state had repurchased from Macomb, Constable &c. The treaty was finally consummated at the head of Lake George in 1796 between the commissioners of the state, with the consent of the Gen. Government with the Deputies & chiefs from the North. On this occasion Lewis appeared to a great advantage and much notice was taken of him by the several officers & soldiers of the revolution who were at the place. From this period of his life, nothing worthy occurred to our notice, excepting from 1801. To 1811 he was greatly troubled & perplexed the course had been taken by the St. Regis chiefs in relation to the lands within the state. its those, for whose especial benefit, it was granted, had not occupied excepting three or four, nor were disposed to control it as they (& with Lewis) might have done. The power of controlling the same was assumed in a gradually manner by the chiefs of the St. Regis village. Many of these were dissipated and ever deposed to sell it, which they knew it was not granted them. They commenced to sell those lands on Salmon River to some French men, and which give the name French mills after words. To these sells, Lewis was opposed and from necessity was often compelled to put his signatures to those seals. - The St. Regis Indians became so tenacious "of their sole right" to the tract of land within the state as to attempt to exclude those for whose benefit it was granted, even the heirs of Col. Lewis, Williams & Gray are suffering under it to this day. This spirit of ingratitude & usurpation over the rights of others, manifested by the St. Regis Indians, may be attributed to two causes, vise: Religious & political principles of those men whose rights they would disclaim. Those patriotic men, who were liberal in their religious sentiments and above all, they loved the Americans. The Romish Priesthood & the British functionaries have ever cherished this spirit of discord & usurpation in the tribe. In the war of 1812, Lewis was once more called upon to manifest his love for the Americans & his Indian Brethren. The Indians at St. Regis were called upon by the British Governor to take up arms for his Britannic Majesty. To this Lewis strongly opposed it. In accordance to the policy and wishes of the American government, he would have them to be neutrals in the present contest. He and Thomas Williams at Cahnowaga were in unison in the sentiments. But on this account, Lewis was compelled to withdraw himself from the tribe & repaired to Plattsburgh, where he drew his rations from the government stores. Being now aged, he could render no active service to his American friends yet his influence was some use. "On the 17th August 1813, a body of volunteers, under command of Major Chapin had a skirmish with the enemy, near Fort George, in which the Latter was defeated & completely routed. The American Indians captured 12 of the British Indians, & four whites. In the former there were four Cahnawaga Indians, and the latter, a Capt. De Lorimie of the Indian Department (whose father was the principal agent at Cahnowaga). The captivity of the four Cahnowagas excited much interest among them, as two of those were chiefs & men of consideration in their village. A belt & a branch of peace or in other words charity and mercy for the prisoners were sent to the neutral party of the St. Regis Indians, for their [interference] (if possible) in favor of the prisoners. Col Lewis was applied to for an advice, and who, out of humanity, consented to retire to Niagara and make an attempt to do something in their favor. His young friend Col. E. Williams was not consulted upon the subject, who was somewhat surprised at the hearing of Lewis mission. Seven or eight warriors from St. Regis accompanied him to Oneida where in a council he made known to the chiefs the object of his mission. After several hours in consultation, he was dissuaded by them to dropt the subject and not makes further known the object of his mission. As the six nations had in a formal manner declared war against the English so that they could do nothing for the prisoner, they must be left with the American Government. To this Lewis assented, but would proceed to Niagara. In the meantime, Col De Lorimie of Cahnowaga writes to the an officer in the American army, in which he stated a chief, by name Lewis, a resident in the Province, was on a secret mission in that quarter. The letter was calculated to rouse the spirit of jealousy among the American officers against patriotic Lewis. The Letter had reached Niagara before his arrival. When he presented himself at the fort he was detained as a prisoner, his old friend in revolution Gen. Dearborn had been recalled. The old patriotic was held as a prisoner eight days when some officers arrived from Plattsburgh who knew him and were surprised to find, he was suspected,- They would have a further investigation into his case - according a court of enquiry was instituted - only three were known to him, and the rest entirely strangers. When it was represented of his patriotism & fidelity in the revolution, and with all that he bore a commission. All these were doubted- He stood before them with great modesty- Several questions were put to him by the young officers- One of them more officious than the rest- his questions roused the war spirit in Lewis- with a strong voice and with a commend in aspect- said - Gentlemen officers, you see I am old and your are young - yes, your are in the service of your country, your know but little of that service, but I am worn out & know it much by experience - You seemed to doubt of what I have been & what I am now - It is right for your to guard the rights of your country and with whom you have to do in the time of war. My history you shall have. there are living witness to the East in this state, who I am confident will declare to you that I am the same man now that I was during the revolution, in which you gained your independence. General Mooers Gen. Dearbor who were acquainted with me in those days, Gov. Thompkins, and Col. E. Williams, the Superintendent General of the Indian Affairs at the north, will be able to give you the information of my attachment to the American people and their cause in the present contest. Gentlemen, I do not blame you for examining me so close in regard to the object of my coming here. I have no secret. I understand that Col. De Lorimie's Letter is the cause of this examination. This infamous agent of our enemies has effected in some measure to [injure] me and his sole object was to destroy me. I will state the real cause in the beginning of my taking this journey, but my brothers, the Oneidas make me see the impropriety of interfering in the Governmental concerns. - But I would extend my journey into these frontiers in order to visit the six nations who have declared war against the common enemy. I have learned since I left St. Regis that it was by the advice of De Lorimie that an application was made to me to take such a mission as I did when I left St. Regis in behalf of the prisoners and one of them is his own son. But mark Gentle men - Immediately on my departure he writes that infamous Letter - and to whom was it directed - to an American officer - how comes he being an enemy, to write to his enemy - This is a new thing with me. For an enemy to write his enemy and appraise him that there is a man from his own country going to do him a mischief. If my words and statements are not sufficient, here are my credentials and these will show you what I have done for your country and how I am viewed by those who are now in authority in civil & military. He then with a heavy hand laid large black pocket Book on the table - "please Gentlemen" said he, "Examine them". There were found his commission as a Lt. Col. of the Calvary - Gen. Washington's commending Letters, Gen. Schuyler's, Gen Gates, Gov. G. Clinton, Gen Knox, Gov. Tompkins, and Gen. B. Mooers. A certificate (in parchment) as a regular member of Gen. Washington's Military Masonic Lodge. To satisfy the commanding officer of the American army in the Niagara Frontier Lewis insisted that Letters should be addressed to different persons at the north by way of inquiry as to his character & standing. Although the Gentlemen were more than satisfied of his patriotism, yet to gratify him Letters were written and one to Col. E Williams at Plattsburgh, who replied. "I am astonished that Col. Lewis Cook should be suspected of his fidelity to the American people. He is now suffering on account of it. He has been driven from home- and I believe, as old as he is, he is ready to sacrifice his life to sustain the honor of the American flag. I fear there is an intrigue in operation against him by his personal as well as common enemy in Canada. I have regretted much that the object of his Indian mission to the west was kept from me. Of this, I am satisfied it was not for want of confidence in me, but from various circumstances, which were urgent in their nature, that his departure was somewhat in haste." In autumn, on the arrival of Gen. Wilkinson with his army at the French Mills (now Fort Covington), in 1813 he repaired thither. And when the army vacated the place January 1814, he follows Ed Gen. Brown's division for Sacket Harbor. In June following he & his sons & several others of the St. Regis Indians went to Buffalo. When the American army under Gen. Brown crossed into Canada side, he and a detachment of the warriors of the six nations, accompanied the army. He was present at the battles of Chippewa & Lundy's Lane. After the retreat of the American army to Fort Erie, he soon after regressed to Buffaloes being now in a feeble state of health, where he was attended to with much kind ness and care by the Government Physicians. Age & other infirmities were making a slow progress upon his strong constitution; - He desired to be carried to the Indian settlements, as he wished, as he said, to give his last advice to them, and to breathe his last breath among them. Col. Moody Biddle of the 11th Regiment, the son of his former old friend in Coos Country, often sent to know his welfare - Lewis at length sent for the Col. who hastened to his wigwam & found him in a dying condition but able to speak. Lewis said to him, "My Col. you see I am about to leave the world- leave all my dear friends - to die in the midst of the American camp as I have always wished. Pray remember me to Gen. Brown & other officers here. I think much of my family at St. Regis and the American part of the tribe - but they are under the superintendence of Col. E. Williams, they are safe if they will adhere to his councils. He is a true friend to them & to the Americans. Col. Williams is following my steps, and I trust, he will live & protect the Indians at St. Regis - as you are about to return to Plattsburgh remember me to my Indians there, Gen. Mooers, Sailly, Col. Isaac Clark." After a few minutes - said, Col. as your Honored father was a soldier, & brave one too - I hope you will prove to be a worthy of his descendant." Several other officers now made their appearance, but were able to say but a few words. In three hours after the party left him, he breathed his last. His death was announced by heavy guns in the American camp. From: historical accounts & records

Bravehorse’s Warriors

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