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Forgotten Allies

The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution

Joseph T. Glatthaar and James Kirby Martin

Hill and Wang

Forgotten Allies Download image

ISBN10: 0809046008
ISBN13: 9780809046003

Trade Paperback

448 Pages



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Combining poignant detail and grand historical sweep, Forgotten Allies offers a vivid account of the American Revolution's forgotten heroes, the Oneida Indians who risked their homeland, their culture, and their lives to join a war that gave birth to a new nation at the expense of their own.

Revealing for the first time the full sacrifice of the Oneidas in securing American independence, Forgotten Allies also provides insights into Oneida culture and how it was shaped and molded throughout many years of contact with the American colonists. It depicts the valor and determination of an Indian nation that fought with all the resolve of the revolutionaries as their valuable ally, only to be erased from America's collective historical memory. Beautifully written, Forgotten Allies makes certain that the Oneidas' incredible story is finally told in its entirety, while also enriching our understanding of the colonial era and the American Revolution.


Praise for Forgotten Allies

"This richly detailed account by Joseph T. Glatthaar and James Kirby Martin joins the work of Laurence M. Hauptman, Barbara Graymont, Jack Campisi, and others to make a significant contribution to the understanding of the Oneidas in particular and the Iroquois in general during this important period of their histories . . . Documenting and recognizing these ‘forgotten allies' is one of the most important elements of Glatthaar and Martin's work."—Gerald F. Reid, The Journal of American History

"Joseph T. Glatthaar and James Kirby Martin have made a signal contribution to Native American history and the history of the American Revolution in this detailed study of the Oneidas, one of the Iroquois Six Nations . . . This book is rich in detail and sweeping in its contextualization of the Oneidas' revolutionary experience."—Gary B. Nash, University of California Los Angeles, American Historical Review

"In Forgotten Allies, we learn of the long-standing relationship between the Oneidas, the foundation of the Six Nations, and the English Americans who interacted with them . . . The account of the many council fires and ceremonial deliberation of which position to adopt provides great insight to a remarkable, courtly life among the Indians of upstate New York . . . Forgotten Allies is an ennobling story about a noble people who as a nation and a leader of nations helped the British defeat the French and then helped British Americans defeat their own king's army. In reading this history of the Oneidas we learn much about the cultural tapestry that has made this continent a rich and prosperous land."—Michael L. Ramsey, The Roanoke Times

"A vividly revealing chronicle of the Oneidas' thankless role in the American Revolution . . . Assiduously researched . . . [Glatthaar and Martin] closely examine the relationship between American Indians and Euro-Americans and the Oneida Indians' military aid to the rebels. Along the way they also elucidate the tribal customs, politics and military tactics of the Oneidas."—Chris Patsilelis, Houston Chronicle

"Forgotten Allies is a brilliant history of the Oneida Indian Nation and its complex participation in the American Revolution."—Jack Leustig, producer, director, writer, of the award-winning CBS television documentary 500 Nations

"Two accomplished historians tell the sad, neglected, yet fascinating story, rich in detail and well written, of the Oneida, one major Indian group who backed the 'winning' side in the American Revolution."—John Shy, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Michigan, and author A People Numerous and Armed

"This is a book that will surprise and delight anyone interested in American history. It reveals in vivid, scrupulously researched detail a hitherto unknown side of the War for Independence."—Thomas Fleming, author of Washington's Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge

"Magnificent reading! Forgotten Allies represents the very best kind of American history. The book is truly worthy of our Oneida grandfathers and grandmother, who fought alongside the patriots in the American Revolution, and their descendents, who have lived with the consequences of the decision to remain loyal to the cause of liberty. Professors Glatthaar and Martin have helped restore the truths of our Oneida Hertiage, as both allies in war and partners in peace with the United States."—Ray Halbritter, Nation Representative and CEO, Oneida Indian Nation

"The story of the Oneida Indians and the larger Iroquois Confederacy in the American Revolution is elegantly told in Forgotten Allies, a book that will surprise, delight and sadden readers. The Oneidas stood with the liberty-loving forces of the Continental Army at Saratoga and Oriskany and Valley Forge. Yet once the war ended their bravery and loyalty were conveniently forgotten—until now. This is a gem of a book."—David M. Oshinsky, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Polio: An American Story

"Two scholars seamlessly combine forces to tell a little-known but important and ultimately shameful story from an unlit corner of the colonies' battle for independence. Glatthaar and begin and end with the elderly Marquis de Lafayette's triumphal 1824 tour of the United States. In Utica, N.Y., he wondered aloud why none of his former Oneida allies had been invited to meet with him; a few hundred pages later, we learn what happened. Following an enlightening chapter on Oneida history, culture and cosmogony, the authors offer a straightforward narrative of the tribe's earliest collisions with European immigrants, the French and Indian War, the colonists' growing unhappiness with the British and the Oneidas' reluctant involvement. Unable to convince their Iroquois allies to remain neutral during the Revolution, the Oneidas sided with the rebels and contributed significantly to the revolutionary cause. The text moves with great ease through some very complex issues: the Oneidas' delicate political relations with the other tribes in the Six Nations (most of whom supported the British), the nature of frontier warfare (Indian warriors were often impatient with European/American martial strategies), internal politics (Oneida sachems held great sway, but warriors remained free to make their own decisions) and the Oneidas' struggles to maintain their homes as war raged. Despite the great regard and gratitude that the Oneidas earned from the likes of George Washington and Lafayette, the Indians soon fell victim to encroachment and deception. By the early 20th century, the authors note, Oneida territory had shrunk from six million acres to 32, a disgraceful but predictable denouement to the tribe's heroic assist during the war for independence. A brief afterword explains how the Oneidas' prospects have recently improved. Much research and erudition underlie a sad tale of fidelity betrayed."—Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt



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