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commission, and being the only person of the same name who did. He was commissioned a brigadier general of the militia of Tryon county, embodied for the defense of American liberty, and to repel every hostile invasion thereof, by the provincial congress, September 5th, 1776. It should here be noticed that in 1775, he had been appointed or elected colonel of the 1st battalion of militia in his county, when that force was organized by the provincial authorities. At the commencement of the revolution he lived in the Canajoharie district of the county and represented the district in the county committee of safety. His younger brother George was a member from the German Flats and Kingsland district. The General was also a member of the committee from his district and chairman thereof in 1776.
He acted as chairman pro tem, of the Tryon county committee of safety in July and August, 1775, and several letters signed by him are found published in the journals and proceedings of the New York provincial convention of that year. Although twice married he left no children at his death, and his family papers have been scattered, lost and destroyed, so that at this day we are left much in the dark as to his early history. In 1760 he resided in the Canajoharie district, and in May of that year, his father conveyed to him five hundred acres of land, portions of Lindesay and Livingston's and Fall Hill patents. This conveyance also covers a small island in the Mohawk river of about two acres. The consideration expressed in the deed is the love and affection the grantor had for his son.
His family mansion had then been or was subsequently erected on these lands, and the home he occupied while living still remains, but little changed in outward appearance, and some of its interior arrangements and finish are left as when first completed although it has long since been possessed by strangers. The two commissions before referred to are now given to the public, believing they will be interesting to the reader.
By the Honorable
His Majesty's Lieutenant-Governor, and commander in
chief in and over the Province of New York, and the
Territories depending thereon in America.
Reposing especial trust and confidence, as well in the care, diligence and circumspection, as in the loyalty, courage and Readiness of You, to do His Majesty good and faithful service; Have nominated, constituted and appointed, and I Do, by Virtue of the Powers and Authorities to me given by His Majesty, hereby nominate, constitute and appoint You, the said Harry Nicholas Herchkimer, to be second Lieutenant of the company of Militia in the Schonectady Batalion, whereof William Wormwood, Esq, is Captain.
You are therefore to take the said Company into your Charge and Care, as second Lieut, thereof, and duly to exercise both the Officers and Soldiers of that Company in Arms. And as they are hereby commanded to obey you, as their second Lieutenant, so are you likewise to observe and follow such Orders and Directions, from time to time as you shall receive from Me or any other your Superior Officer, according to the Rules and Discipline of War, in Pursuance of the Trust reposed in you; and for so doing this shall be your Commission.
Given under my Hand and Seal at Arms, in New York, the fifth day of January, in the Thirty First Year of His Majisty's Reign, Annoq: Domini one Thousand seven Hundred and Fifty eight. James De Lancey.
By His Honour's Command,
Go. Banyer D. Secry.
Sealed. This is on coarse cap paper stamped fourpenny stamp.
The provincial convention of the state, on the 5th of September, 1776, after organizing the militia of Tryon county into a brigade, separate from that of Albany county, adopted the following preamble and resolution:
"And whereas, Nicholas Herkimer, Esq, is justly entitled to be appointed the brigadier-general of the brigade of militia of Tryon county, as well from his military rank in that county as from his great merit and many exertions in the present glorious struggle for liberty: Therefore,
Resolved, unanimously, That Nicholas Herkimer, Esquire, be appointed brigadier-general of the militia of Tryon county, and that a commission issue to him accordingly for that purpose." In convention of the Representatives of the State of New
We reposing Especial trust and Confidence in your patriotism, Valour, Conduct and Fidelity, do by these presents constitute and appoint you the said Nicholas Herkimer Brigadier General of the Brigade of Militia of the county of Tryon Embodied for the defence of American Liberty and for repelling Every Hostile Invasion thereof, you are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of Brigadier General by doing and performing all manner of things, thereunto belonging, and we do strictly charge and Require all officers and privates under your command to be obedient to your orders as Brigadier General: And you are to observe and follow such orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from the present or any future Congress of the United States of America, or from this or any future Convention of the Representatives, or future executive Authority of this State, or from the Commander in Chief for the time Being of the Army of the United States, or any other your superior officer According to the rules and Discipline of War, in pursuance of the Trust Reposed in you. Provided such orders and directions of the said Commander in Chief or of such Superior Officer be grounded on the authority of the present or any future Congress of the United American States, or the present or any future Convention of the Representatives or other Executive authority of this state, or their Respective committees of Safety; This Commission to Continue in force until Revoked by this or a future convention of this State.
Given at Fishkills the fifth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy six. By order, Ab'm Yates Jun'r, President.
Attest, John McKesson, Sec'ry.
It is not now known whether the General held any civil office under the crown. As the Johnson family controlled all such appointments in the Mohawk valley, it is not probable he did. He was an early advocate for the rights of the colonists, with the rest of the family, except his brother Hanyost, who was attainted under the act of 1779, and removed to Canada where he died in 1787. The family were wealthy and exerted great influence with the German population in the upper districts of the valley.
From the first organization of the Tryon county committee of safety until he was commissioned a brigadier, Gen. Herkimer appears to have been a prominent member of that committee, and was actively engaged in promoting the patriot cause. His services were known to and appreciated by his fellow citizens in the whole valley, and the voluntary revolutionary associations in the colony. It has been asserted that his education was limited. It is probably true his early instruction was confined to the schools of the country, and was only such as was deemed necessary at that day to fit him for the occupation he was destined to follow. He was a farmer. »
In June, 1777, Gen. Herkimer, at the head of about three hundred of the local militia of the county, and one hundred and fifty men of Col. Van Schaick's regiment, repaired to Unadilla and sought an interview with Capt. Joseph Brant, the too celebrated Mohawk chief.
Brant had been a considerable time at Oghkwaga on the Susquehanna, collecting an Indian force, and although he had not then made any hostile attack upon the frontier settlements, he held no equivocal language in respect to his own feelings, and those of his people, in regard to the ex
isting difficulties between the crown and colonies. The Mohawk did not speak with a forked tongue, nor can he be charged with duplicity. Herkimer and Brant had been long acquainted; had been friends and quite near neighbors before the chief left his farm at the upper Mohawk castle, now in Danube, and went to Canada with Guy Johnson, in 1775. The particular object of this visit has never been fully disclosed; nor does it appear to have been made without consultation among the leading and prominent men of the day. Gen. Herkimer's conduct, on this occasion, strongly indicates that he went on a mission of peace. It was known that Brant was surrounded by a very considerable Indian force, numerically larger than the expedition which accompanied the General.
A part of the Mohawks had at German Flats and Albany bound themselves by treaty not to take any part in the contest, and it is by no means a forced inference to conclude that Herkimer's object was to persuade Brant and his followers to adopt the same resolution. It was not inappropriate, even if the General designed nothing but a friendly visit and pacific consultation with his former neighbor, that he should be attended with an imposing force. It was no doubt considered important to make a show of strength to the Indians on that occasion, that they might see if they took up the hatchet against the provincials, what they might have to encounter. It was not until after this conference between Herkimer and Brant that the Indians concluded at a council held at Oswego, to take up the war hatchet in favor of the king; and it was then, and not before, that Brant was acknowledged the war chief of the Six Nations. That place according to the usages of the Iroquois confederacy, belonged to Little Abraham, after the death of his brother Hendrik. Abraham having been a party to the GermanFlats and Albany treaty of neutrality, was no doubt displaced or superseded as war chief at the instigation of the British commissioners.
Gen. Herkimer held two consultations with Brant, on two