Ben Miller

A Loyalist Boasts of Scalping During the American Revolution

In Colonial (American) Period, Military on March 4, 2010 at 1:29 am

“I am a King’s man, who dare say anything against it; I have killed so many Yankies at Fort St. John’s with this sword of my Father, they are no soldiers at all. I kill’d and scalp’d, and kicked their arses, and the damned Committee here have gone too far already, I will shew them better, and will cut some of their heads off by and by.”

– William Johnson, Jr., half Mohawk son of Sir William Johnson, September, 1775

  1. All I can say is that there’s something distinctly badass about a half-Mohawk Loyalist “kicking arse” with his father’s sword…

    • Yeah, LOL, I love that quote too!

      Most people don’t realize that scalping was commonly practiced by Americans (of European descent) at least up until the 19th century. During the 17th century, the New England colonial governments routinely offered bounties for Indian scalps, as the only way they could ensure that Colonists had actually killed the Indians they claimed to have killed. And thus it became common practice. In 1694, when Hannah Dustin escaped from her Indian captors, she brought back eight Indian scalps, and collected a bounty of 25 pounds on each one (plus a pewter tankard), although the bounty had originally been placed at 50 pounds.

      The following are some good bits from

      “By 1723, Massachusetts was paying 100 pounds sterling for the scalps of male Indians aged 12 and over, and half that for women and children. In Salem, redeemed scalps were hung along the walls of the town courthouse, in full view of the public, until the building was torn down in 1785.

      Axtell even documents an Indian scalping by a Puritan minister, who managed somehow to reconcile it with his religious beliefs.

      “Along with pious thoughts, I receive 165 pounds 3-3 . . . my part of scalp money,” reads the 1757 diary of another clergyman, the Rev. Thomas Smith of Falmouth, Maine, who supplied provisions and ammunition to a scalping party made up of his parishioners.”

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