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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 20: Battle of Kinquariones, 1669.

[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 308-312 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. Some images have been relocated to the area in the text where they are discussed. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Mohican attacks on Caughnawaga, 1669 — Repulse of the invaders — Battle of Kinquariones, near Hoffmans — Mohawks, led by their war chief, the "Great Kryn", rout the Mohicans and kill their chief, Chicatabutt — Account of the conflict by Father Pierron, French Jesuit missionary at Caughnawaga, near present Fonda. (308)

In July, 1669, the Mohicans organized a large war party, consisting of Mohican warriors and their allies, and set out to revenge themselves by the destruction of their old enemies the Mohawks. The authorities of Massachusetts and New York attempted to dissuade them from this expedition but the great Mohican chief, Chickatabutt (meaning, "House-afire"), raised, near Boston, a considerable force of Mohicans and their allies, and started the march for the Mohawk Valley. The number of the invaders is variously estimated by Father Pierron, at 300, and by Gookin, the Massachusetts Indian agent, as 600 or 700 warriors. Besides the Mohicans, Chickatabutt's savage army consisted of braves from the Massachusetts, Naragansetts and Hudson River tribes, all Algonquins, who were deadly enemies of the Mohawks. The meaning of Mohican is "Wolf" and the tribe was known as "Loups" (Wolves) to the French, and they were also frequently so called by the English. It will be noted that Father Pierron of Caughnawaga castle calls the Mohawks either "Iroquois" or "Agnies", which was a French adaptation of their true tribal name of Caniengas or "People of the Flint". It is said that a Mohawk could not pronounce the name "Mohawk", which was one given them by their enemies, the Mohicans.

All eastern Indians were now well supplied with arms and ammunition and the bow and arrow was used but little in Indian warfare. In savage fashion, the Mohican raiders are said to have wasted a great part of their ammunition in firing off their guns while boasting what they would do to the Mohawks, in the different Indian villages through which they passed on their march to the Mohawk castles.

In the early days of August, the invaders reached the Mohawk country and before dawn made an attack upon the first castle to which they came — Caughnawaga, at present Fonda.

The Mohican war party opened a fire on the village and the Mohawk braves, aroused from their sleep by the rattle of muskets, seized their weapons and sprang to the stockade platforms for defense, where four were quickly killed and two wounded, while a number of the enemy fell from the well-directed fire of the castle's defenders. The Mohawk squaws and girls took knives and hatchets and made ready to sell their lives dearly in case the enemy should force the palisade, while they meantime urged on their Canienga warriors with shouts of encouragement and defiance. Scouts were sent out to warn the castles to the west and bring help. By noon the Canienga warriors from the middle castles of Candagaro and Canajora had arrived and the defenders prepared to make a sally from Caughnawaga against the enemy. Arrayed in full war regalia, the Mohawks burst from their town gates and dashed across the clearing upon the enemy a furious Indian fight followed behind tree stumps and in the woods. After two hours of battle, the Mohicans retreated. Following the Indian custom of carrying off their dead from the battlefield, but one Mohican was left on the ground. To honor their war demon, Aireskoi, the victors proceeded to chop this victim up for a war feast.

A number of Mohawks had been killed or wounded and Father Pierron and the village squaws were busied with the care of the injured braves, while the castle resounded with the usual wailings of the squaws over their dead heroes.

The Mohicans did not retire from Caughnawaga but besieged it for several days, keeping up an occasional fire upon its ramparts. The provisions and ammunition of the invaders were getting low and they decided to retreat. They quietly decamped and passed down the river seventeen miles to Kinquariones, on the western side of the mountain of Touareuna and to the west of present Hoffmans Ferry. Here the Mohicans entrenched themselves on this summit, which commanded a wide view of the warpath down which they knew the Mohawks would soon come from the west in pursuit.

All the Mohawk warriors at this time probably did not number three hundred or equal the invading Mohican forces. So the Canienga chiefs waited until all the braves from Candagaro (Canagora), Canajora and the great castle of Tionnontogen had reached Caughnawaga and then, their full Mohawk war strength being assembled, the braves prepared to go against their enemy led by their chief, Kryn, known as "the Great Mohawk", of the Caughnawaga castle.

The squaws prepared and supplied each warrior with the usual parched corn meal ration mixed with a little maple sugar, which was always carried on the hunt or the warpath. Kryn then led his war party from Caughnawaga to the river, where they embarked in canoes, rapidly paddled down the Mohawk and were soon lost to the view of the anxious squaws, children and old people left in the village. The next day a runner arrived with news of a desperate battle in progress twenty miles away. The following day, August 6th, 1669, news came that the Mohawks had won a great victory over their enemies, and that the invaders were in full flight. All was joy and jubilation in Caughnawaga. Father Pierron immediately set out, from the lower castle, for the battlefield to nurse the wounded and congratulate the victors. Pierron's account of the Mohawk-Mohican battle at Kinquariones, given in the Jesuit Relations, is the best we have. It is as follows:

"Night overtaking them in their pursuit, they sent in advance certain of their number in quest of the enemy, and quietly to discover the place where he was encamped. As the scouts came within sight of the spot, desiring a better view of the situation, they drew still nearer. But notwithstanding their great caution, one of the Loups on guard close by, hearing a noise, gave the customary challenge, 'Koue, kuoe', (this is 'Who comes there?' of the savages); as there was no response and he saw nothing, he did not deem it necessary to give the alarm.

"From the report given by the spies on their return of the condition of the enemy, it was determined not to attack him in his lodging place, where he appeared too well entrenched, but to prepare an ambush on the route it was believed he would take. In the execution of this plan, the Iroquois made a wide detour to lay their ambuscade in a cragged and most advantageous pass which commanded the only route in the direction of the Hollanders. In the morning the Loups decamped; and as they marched in single file, after the Indian custom, twelve of them fell unexpectedly into the ambuscade. A shower of balls of which they were at once made aware, immediately put to flight those that the casualty had spared. Frightful cries at once ran through the forest, and the Loups rallied at the same place where they had encamped. The Iroquois pursued them with vigor. On overtaking them, they made a fierce assault. The Loups at first made a stout resistance; but the cowardice of some among them forcing the main body to recede before the fury of the Iroquois, ten of the whole band made a stand within their works to defend themselves unto death. This new entrenchment greatly harrassed our Agnies but, as they are an indefatigable and brave people, they did not lose courage nor the hope of driving out the enemy; and to succeed in this with the least peril they made use of an old tree which they found there and which they carried in front of them for protection. This they were able to do, instead of going up one by one to the place where the enemy was fortified. Their skill, however, did not avail them; for, notwithstanding this device, the Loups did not omit to open a heavy fire from all sides, killing and wounding a number of our people; and the fight, without doubt, would have been still more disastrous if night had not terminated it. Our Indians captured at the outset four women of the twenty-four who accompanied the expedition, and six men subsequently in the heat of the combat.

"The next morning as they were ready to renew the attack, they found the enemy had made their escape during the night and that they were left masters of the battlefield. The victors, following the custom of the savages, tomahawked and scalped the Loups left on the place, and then took care to bury those of their own people who had been slain in the fight.

"We left two days after the combat, in company with a large number, both those who had taken part in the fight and those who had come to look on. The victors bore the scalps well painted, at the end of long batons made to support their trophies. The captives, divided into several bands, marched with singing; and as I perceived that one of the women had a sick infant which she carried at the breast, I thought I would do well to baptize it, seeing it was about to die."

The Mohican captives, as usual, were hideously tortured and maimed after their capture and then were taken to Caughnawaga. Here they were again beaten in the gauntlet and placed on the torture scaffold for the final agonies before being killed or burned.

During an interval of this horrible business, Father Pierron led some of these unfortunates into a nearby cabin and gave them religious instruction to prepare them for death. Some of the Mohawks looked in saying, "Do you see how he loves our enemies", while others angrily remarked, "He ought to leave them to burn in hell — people who have done us so much evil". Pierron turned to the Mohawks and, with his usual effective fervor, "taking them for his text, explained so well and so forcibly the teachings of Christ on the Mount, that in a little while the Indians, who had gathered about him, were all of one mind, and declared that he did well to teach the captives. They no longer interfered with his self-imposed task, but gave him ample time to instruct them. Before they were taken to their death, Pierron baptized all of the ten doomed captives."

After this defeat of the Mohicans, Kryn, "The Great Mohawk", became also known as "The Conqueror of the Mohicans." His subsequent conversion to Christianity and removal to the colony of "praying Indians" on the St. Lawrence, is told later, as well as his leadership of the Canadian Indians in the Schenectady massacre.

In the attack upon Caughnawaga and in the battle of Kinquariones, the Mohawks claimed that they had killed one hundred Mohicans, which Father Pierron seems to have doubted. The Mohicans admitted a loss of fifty warriors, while claiming they had killed forty Mohawks. The actual casualties are hard to discover but probably they were between fifty and one hundred warriors on both sides, not a large number for an attack on a castle and a pitched battle in the open in which six or seven hundred Indian braves were engaged.

Thus ended the attempt of the Mohicans, once masters of the Eastern Mohawk Valley, to regain their former lands and revenge themselves upon their ancient hereditary enemies, the Mohawks.

[Photo: Chaughtanoonda Creek]

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