Rebellion in the Mohawk Valley: The St Leger Expedition of 1777


429 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55002-376-4
DDC 973.3'33





Reviewed by John R. Abbott

John Abbott is a professor of history at Laurentian University’s Algoma University College. He is the co-author of The Border at Sault Ste Marie and The History of Fort St. Joseph.


Nestled to the southeast of Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence
River is a historic triangle bounded on the south by the Oswego and
Mohawk rivers, and on the east by Lake Champlain and the lakes and
rivers that connect it to the St. Lawrence and Hudson. From time out of
mind, these waterways had conveyed invasion forces north and south. At
one time or another, most of the strategic points along these routes
were fortified. Rebellion in the Mohawk Valley examines the American
defence of the strategic Oneida Carry, the portage traversing the height
of land between the Mohawk–Hudson River watershed, and then carrying
the waters of Lake Oneida and the Oswego River into Lake Ontario. It was
here, in 1777, that the American rebels refortified Fort Stanwix and
renamed it Fort Schuyler. It was here that Brigadier Barry St. Leger
tried and failed to take the fort, which was his objective in General
John Burgoyne’s campaign to divide the rebellious colonies in two.

Gavin Watt’s mastery of the details of the St. Leger Expedition and
his ability to flesh out the salient elements of a complex narrative in
lucid prose afford readers an opportunity to understand the dynamics of
the American Revolution in terms that are fundamentally a part of our
human condition. Watt connects us intellectually and emotionally with
some of the actors engaged on a portion of the American Revolution’s
great stage. We see how petty rivalries mar great strategies and
political loyalties cut across family connection. In his examination of
the ambush at Oriskany, the author provides an extended and graphic
description of frontier warfare, as waged by a mixture of regular,
militia, and Indian forces.

Watt’s account is based on a impressive range of primary and
secondary sources. Amateur and professional historians alike will find
the work both informative and a pleasure to read.


Watt, Gavin K., “Rebellion in the Mohawk Valley: The St Leger Expedition of 1777,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,