Mark R. AndersonApr 21, 2022
Down the Warpath to the Cedars
Indians' First Battles in the Revolution
University of Oklahoma Press 2021
In May 1776 more than two hundred Indian warriors descended the St. Lawrence River to attack Continental forces at the Cedars, west of Montreal. In just three days’ fighting, the Native Americans and their British and Canadian allies forced the American fort to surrender and ambushed a fatally delayed relief column. In Down the Warpath to the Cedars: Indians' First Battles in the Revolution (University of Oklahoma Press, 2022), Mark R. Anderson flips the usual perspective on this early engagement and focuses on its Native participants—their motivations, battlefield conduct, and the event’s impact in their world. In this way, Anderson’s work establishes and explains Native Americans’ centrality in the Revolutionary War’s northern theater.
Anderson’s dramatic, deftly written narrative encompasses decisive diplomatic encounters, political intrigue, and scenes of brutal violence but is rooted in deep archival research and ethnohistorical scholarship. It sheds new light on the alleged massacre and atrocities that other accounts typically focus on. At the same time, Anderson traces the aftermath for Indian captives and military hostages, as well as the political impact of the Cedars reaching all the way to the Declaration of Independence. The action at the Cedars emerges here as a watershed moment, when Indian neutrality frayed to the point that hundreds of northern warriors entered the fight between crown and colonies.
Adroitly interweaving the stories of diverse characters—chiefs, officials, agents, soldiers, and warriors—Down the Warpath to the Cedars produces a complex picture, and a definitive account, of the Revolutionary War’s first Indian battles, an account that significantly expands our historical understanding of the northern theater of the American Revolution.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.