How A Madman Helped Save The Colonies


British strategy was completely disrupted. Due to incompetence in the London War Office, Howe did not receive orders to advance up the Hudson from New York City until he had already committed himself to an attack on Philadelphia. The relief of Fort Stanwix completed the catastrophe by leaving Burgoyne in the wilderness above Albany unsupported. Furthermore, the flight of St. Leger’s army did much to destroy the legend that the British regulars were invincible. Militiamen who had been hesitating by their firesides picked up hunting guns and swelled the northern army until Burgoyne and his British regulars were hopelessly outnumbered.

Hon Yost’s prophecies were thus an important link in the chain that led to Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga. Burgoyne’s surrender finally persuaded the French that the Americans were worthy allies, and the French alliance made possible the victory at Yorktown which forced George III to acknowledge the independence of the United States.

Although he might have ranked, on performance, as a patriot hero, Hon Yost continued to hate the patriots. As soon as he had secured his brother’s release, he rejoined the enemy; he took part in later raids on the Mohawk Valley. After the war, he lived with the Oneidas. That his reputation as a mediator with the supernatural powers remained unimpaired is revealed by his last appearance in recorded history: with the approval of the tribe, he tomahawked two Indian women to death as witches.