A Conspiracy on the Muskingum
IN THE FALL and winter of 1775, a rebel army led by Benedict Arnold and Richard Montgomery made a valiant but abortive attempt to capture Canada. Although Montgomery was successful against Montreal, the attack against Quebec failed.1 But the invasion had the side effects of sealing the British supply lines to the interior and preventing Indian trade goods from reaching Detroit.2 Lacking both men and material, Governor Hamilton had to be content with urging the Indians to conduct small, individual, and largely ineffective raids against the frontier.
With fewer than eighty English regulars under his command, Hamilton could do little to mount an effective offensive. Each of his prospective Indian allies had rejected his proffered war belts, primarily because the Delawares refused and other tribes followed their example. Only the Mingoes were Hamilton's willing allies. Smarting from their humiliating defeat during Dunmore's War, they refused to be placated by American agents.
With the lifting of the American blockade of the St. Lawrence River in early 1777, British supplies began to filter into Detroit, and the fragile peace carefully crafted by the United States agent at Pittsburgh began to disintegrate. Movements toward the British first began to appear among the Shawnees. By summer their loyalties were divided between their two