They rendezvoused at Fort Dayton, on the German Flats, and, on the day when the Indians encircled the fort, Herkimer was near Oriskany with more than eight hundred men, eager to face the enemy.
The Powwow When we had learned all that our acquaintances among the command could tell us, Jacob insisted that Sergeant Corney see General Herkimer without delay, in order to learn if that officer would so far interest himself in the fate of Peter Sitz as to make inquiries of Thayendanega regarding him, in case the opportunity offered.
Therefore it was, according to the belief of the soldier, that General Herkimer would have little or no weight with Brant so far as rescuing Peter Sitz was concerned, if there chanced at the moment to be Tories near at hand to whisper in his ear.
The soldiers were astir at an early hour next morning; but before the column could be set in motion an Indian strode gravely into the encampment waving a bit of white cloth, and, on being questioned by the sentinels, announced himself as a messenger sent by Thayendanega with words to General Herkimer.
" "If it was some one else's father, Jacob, you would say that there was no danger anything of the kind would happen while Brant is makin' ready for the interview with General Herkimer.
As a matter of course we indulged in much speculation regarding the outcome of the matter, and discussed at great length the possibility of General Herkimer's being able, even if he failed in other desired directions, to set free the prisoner whom Joseph Brant doubtless intended should suffer death at the stake.
"To meet my old neighbor and friend," General Herkimer replied, whereupon Brant asked: "And have all those behind you come on a friendly visit, too?
Even General Herkimer had lost all hope of being able to dissuade Joseph Brant from the course he had already marked out for himself, and shared with his men the suspicion that before the second interview was come to an end we would be the victims of the sachem's treachery.
Wagner selected George and Abraham Herkimer, nephews of the general, and these three were prepared to face the most cruel of deaths, for certain it was that if they were obliged to make an attack upon the Mohawk chieftain, every Indian under his command would strive most earnestly to take them prisoners in order that they be made to suffer death by torture.
General Herkimer asked, sternly.
For a time it was absolutely necessary that we two hold Jacob by force to prevent him from leaving us, and then gradually the boy came to understand that for his father's life he could only hope in the mercy of God, since even had General Herkimer been willing to risk a battle, in which he would have been greatly outnumbered by the savages, there was no hope he might effect the release of Peter Sitz.
Wemeaning Sergeant Corney, Jacob, and myselfset off as soon as the conference with General Herkimer was at an end, on the long journey to our homes, knowing that the advance must be slow and cautious, for we had heard from Thayendanega's own lips that he was fully committed to the work of harrying the patriots.
And this was the situation, as I afterward read it in printed letters: "A few days after this conference with General Herkimer, Brant withdrew his warriors from the Susquehanna and joined Sir John Johnson and Col. John Butler, who were collecting a large body of Tories and refugees at Oswego, preparatory to a descent upon the Mohawk and Schoharie settlements.
Sergeant Corney believed General Herkimer had some especial matter in hand in which he thought we three might be of particular service, and when that was done we would be allowed to return home.
I said to myself again and again, that if General Herkimer really needed such services as we could render, it would have been better had we remained with him, rather than spend so many days and be forced to such severe labor as was required for the march to Cherry Valley and back.
Colonel Campbell knew even more regarding Brant's movements than we could tell him, and it was by no means necessary he should be informed immediately as to the result of General Herkimer's interview with the Mohawk sachem.
" Taking heed not to go near Sergeant Corney, whom we could see in the distance, Jacob went from one group of soldiers to the other, and, as may be supposed, the chief topic of conversation everywhere was the possibility that Fort Schuyler could hold out against the large number of men who were besieging it, as well as the chances of General Herkimer's command being able to enter the place.
From General Herkimer's encampment in an air-line through the forest to Fort Schuyler was not more than seven or eight miles, and, despite our slow progress, for one cannot travel rapidly when striving to advance without so much as the breaking of a twig, we counted on arriving in front of the enemy's lines by midnight.
But that I knew beyond a peradventure it was useless, I would have said all in my power to keep him with us; but his mind was fixed, and, to tell the truth, I could not well blame him for doing as I would have done, regardless of any duty I might owe to General Herkimer.
Already had our venture, so it appeared to me, cost the life of one of our small party, and mentally I reproached myself bitterly for having left Cherry Valley to take service with this General Herkimer, who could as well have sent some other in our place, for surely all in his command were not known to Thayendanega's following.
Toward noon a messenger from the general commanding came in, bringing with him the sad news that General Herkimer was dead of his wounds, or, perhaps I should say, because of his wounds.
I recollect an affair that occurred at a settlement called Shell's Bush, about five miles from Herkimer village.
(In The Evening telegram, Herkimer, NY, Oct. 27, 1947) © 27Oct47; B5-2383.
| | | Miss Ella B. Walker, | | Herkimer, New York.
He had been a farmer and sawmill man, and still had a farm between Herkimer and Little Falls on the Mohawk River.