National Geographic : 1975 Apr
in New York's Mohawk Valley. For its size 800 Whig militiamen against perhaps 650 Loyalists and Indians-the battle at this verdant site in 1777 is considered the blood iest encounter of the Revolutionary War. The Mohawk leader Thayendanegea, bet ter known as Joseph Brant, led the ambush against Brig. Gen. Nicholas Herkimer's mili tia. Herkimer died, and so did more Patriots than Loyalists. But the carnage left the Loyal ist attackers almost useless for the imminent British push to overwhelm the state. Conse quently, New York remained predominantly pro-independence, and historians still waffle over who won and who lost the battle. As we strolled the serene battleground, my UEL friend spoke of his ancestors. "My great great-grandfather was only a boy when his family was forced to leave the States," he said, face clouding. "He spent his first night in Canada sleeping under a log; I've seen the spot. Just a boy!" There was the other side of the family, too, the UEL related. His great-great-great-great grandfather on that side had also felt com pelled to flee the Colonies after falling afoul of bullying Whigs. Then the old man paused in his storytell ing. "I hold no grudges," he finally said, "and I don't want to be harsh or offend anyone. But I must admit, it does make me a little bitterish sometimes."