(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Magdelana Borst, the oldest of five daughters, marries Gilbert Martin and together they start off from her home at Fox’s Mill to settle farther west in their home at Deerfield. The time is July, 1776, and the spirit of the revolution reaches into the Mohawk Valley, where settlers who side with the rebels have already formed a company of militia commanded by Mark Demooth. Soon after he comes to his new home, Gil reports for muster day. Some Indians were seen in the vicinity. Also, the militia decides to investigate the home of John Wolff, suspected of being a king’s man. Finding evidence that a spy was hidden on the Wolff farm, they arrest Wolff, convict him of aiding the British, and send him to the Newgate Prison at Simsbury Mines.

A few months after their arrival at Deerfield, Gil decides to organize a logrolling to clear his land for farming. The Weavers, the Realls, and Clem Coppernol all come to help with the work. When they are about half finished, Blue Back, a friendly Oneida Indian, comes to warn them that a raiding party of Seneca Indians and whites is in the valley. The settlers immediately scatter for home to collect their few movable belongings, which they might save, and then drive to Fort Schuyler. Lana, who is pregnant, loses her baby as a result of the wild ride to the fort. The enemy destroys the Deerfield settlement. All the houses and fields are burned; Gil’s cow is killed; Mrs. Wolff, who refused to take refuge with the people who sent her husband to prison, is reported missing. Gil and Lana rent a one-room cabin in which to live through the winter. With spring coming and needing a job to support himself and Lana, Gil becomes the hired man of Mrs. McKlennar, a widow. The pay is forty-five dollars a year plus the use of a two-room house and their food.

General Herkimer tries to obtain a pledge of neutrality from the Indian chief, Joseph Brant, but is unsuccessful. At the end of the summer, word comes that the combined forces of the British and the Indians, commanded by General St. Leger, are moving down from Canada to attack the valley. The militia is called up, and they set out westward to encounter this army. The attack by the militia, however, is badly timed, and the party is ambushed. Of nearly six hundred and fifty men, only two hundred and fifty survive. The survivors return in scattered groups. Gil receives a bullet wound in the arm. General Herkimer, seriously injured in the leg, dies from his wounds.

After the death of General Herkimer, General Benedict Arnold is sent out to reorganize the army and lead it in another attack—this time against General St. Leger’s camp. When Nancy Schuyler, Mrs. Demooth’s maid, hears that her brother, Hon...

(The entire section is 1107 words.)