Under the aegis of war, he had revenge.
During the American Revolution, many colonists took the opportunity to settle scores, line their pockets, and otherwise wreak havoc.
Years before the war began, my father was cheated by some men from the center of New York state. Responsibilities kept him in Cross, though the mistreatment rankled him some. When the war arrived, my father decided it was time to visit his vengeance upon his former business partners.
I remember him leaving at the time, telling me he would be back as soon as he could, and to keep a weather-eye out for trouble. While both colonists and loyalists were raiding across our portion of Massachusetts, both sides steered clear of Cross. We’d shed the blood of patriots and king’s-men alike. It made no difference to us.
My father traveled up into New York and struck a bargain with a Mohawk chief by the name of Joseph Brant and a loyalist unit led by Major Walter Butler. My father offered his services as a soldier, though only for the raid against his enemies. While Major Butler was unaware of my father’s reputation, the Mohawks were well familiar with it, and they were pleased to have my father with them as they made their way toward Cherry Valley.
In the early morning hours of November 11th, the war party arrived and attacked both the fort and the town located in Cherry Valley. While Major Butler had exacted promises from the Mohawks not to harm any of the noncombatants, my father refused to agree to such terms.
Harming them was why he had left Cross.
‘In less time than it takes to write this,’ my father entered in his journal, ‘I was within the town and at the house of Master Thomas Wells. I put it to the torch, and as he and his wife fled the structure, I slew them both. This one act sealed the fate of the town, as I hoped it would.’
He returned home in December, seven cured scalps on his belt.
He tossed them onto the table, poured himself a cup of tea and said, ‘Never cheat your business partners.’
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