Thursday, September 15, 2016

Drums Along the Fingerlakes

The rebellion of the American colonials against King George is well underway. His Majesty's loyal allies, the Iroquois are raiding all along the frontier. This is the story of the attack on Fort Donald.

Just as the harvest time was upon them, the settlers of Hilton on the New York frontier heard that the Iroquois warband of Joseph Brandt was headed their way. They sent their women, children and the infirm down river to safety, and then the militia moved into Fort Donald and prepared for the fight.

 The militiamen take up position in the fort 
 At first light the Indians emerge from the forest
One side of the fort was on a steep bluff above the river and was safe from direct assault. The dozen militiamen were spread thin along the other three sides of the fort and the corner bastions. The warriors approached in three bands, one against each of the exposed sides of Fort Donald. As they raised their blood chilling war cry and began to sprint across the clear ground, the muskets of the defenders banged out in defiance.
The militiamen open fire in the uncertain dawn light
A few Indians fell crossing the open ground
The morning mist made the fire of the defenders perhaps less effective than it might otherwise be, but still five braves were killed and a similar number wounded by the time they reached the walls.
The Indians reach the walls with ladders and a ram
The two militiamen deployed along the ravine side of the fort ran to join the defenders on the three sides under attack while the British agent-provocateur, known to the Iroquois as Dances With French Fries, urged the warriors on with promises of rich gifts from King George.
Dances With French Fries shouts encouragement from just beyond musket range
The hardened warriors were soon on the parapets engaged in a desperate hand to hand struggle with the defenders while the battering ram pounded the gate.
The gates shivered with each strike of the ram
One of the Indians dropped down to the parade ground and sprinted to unbar the gate from the inside. Two of the militiamen had been killed and two others, grievously wounded, were in the hands of the savages. The remaining defenders could hear their cries as their captors handled them brutally. All of this was too much and the defenders morale broke. They agreed to lay down their arms when Dances With French Fries offered them the protection of King George. Fort Donald was comprehensively looted and the Indian war party went on to pillage and burn the deserted settlement.