“They Must Expect No Mercy”: Benedict Arnold’s Mohawk Valley Proclamation, August 1777

Emerging Revolutionary War Era

In August 1777, a British army under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Barry St. Leger surrounded and attempted to subdue American-held Fort Stanwix in New York’s Mohawk River Valley. “It is my determined resolution,” the garrison’s commander, Peter Gansvoort told St. Leger, “…to defend this fort and garrison to the last extremity.” Despite this resolve, the Americans desperately needed support in order for the siege to be lifted.

“A sketch of the siege of Fort Schuyler [Stanwix].New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Further east, help was approaching. Leading a column of over 800 men, Major General Benedict Arnold hastily made his way to Stanwix. By August 20, Arnold was at German Flatts (modern-day Herkimer, New York), roughly thirty miles away. From his headquarters he penned a proclamation directed towards the British, their Native American allies, and the region’s loyalist population.

The version of this proclamation below was…

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