Zopher Hawkings


Zopher Hawkins enlisted in the Continental Army of the United States, at New Haven, Connecticut in November 1776. He was a private in the company, which was commanded by Capt. Samuel Sacket. Nathaniel Norton of Coram was the first lieutenant. Later he was transferred into a company that was commanded by Capt. Fowler. While with that company, he was marched to Fishkill and spent the winter in New York.

The following spring he then marched to New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In August of 1778 he was ordered north, where he participated in the battles of Stillwater and Saratoga. It was here that British General Burgoyne was defeated as he attempted to capture the Hudson River, separating the New England Colonies from the Middle Colonies. It was this victory that would persuade the French to help us fight the British.

Hawkins was stationed near the frontier where he was engaged in skirmishes with the British and the Mohawk Indians. In the fall of 1780 he was ordered to Fort Stanwix where he remained through the winter. Fort Stanwix was located on the western end of the Mohawk River. It was originally built in 1758, by the British during the French and Indian war. The Americans rebuilt it in 1776.Fort Stanwix protected the Mohawk valley during two wars, the French and Indian war, and the American Revolution.

On March 2, a party of men including Hawkins was sent out of the fort to cut and bring in firewood. While cutting firewood the party was surprised by a party of Indians, under the command of Iroquois chief Col. Joseph Brant. They were made prisoners, but were not killed. Joseph Brandt was a Mohawk Indian chief whose Indian name was Thayendanegea. He and his war party left Fort Niagara on Feb. 11, 1780, near Lake Ontario for Eastern New York, to raid, and capture prisoners for whom he would be paid $8 for each prisoner or scalp.

Zopher Hawkings
Chief Joseph Brant

The Iroquois were accused of killing captured prisoners. To show people that he wasn't killing the prisoners, Col. Brandt wrote a letter to the Americans a month after Zopher Hawkins was captured. Here it is:

"That you Bostonians (alias Americans) may be certified of my conduct towards all those whom I have captured in these parts know that I have taken off with me but a small number. Many have I released. Neither were the weak and the helpless subjected to death. It is a shame to destroy those who are defenseless. It has been uniformly my conduct during the war. I have always been for saving and releasing. These being my sentiments you have exceedingly angered me by your threatening and distressing those whom may be considered as prisoners. Let there be no more of this conduct. Ye are or does the like conduct take in the future.
On the Delaware, April 10, 1780."

Zopher Hawkins was taken with the other prisoners to Fort Niagara, where he was held prisoner. Fort Niagara was in an important location for the British. It guarded the route to the Great Lakes, and served as the main contact point between the Iroquois and the British. It was here that captured American prisoners were kept. In the fall of 1783, after the end of the war, Zopher Hawkins was freed and returned home to Brookhaven.

Written by
Blair Buckman
Longwood Middle School
May, 2000


From the book The Refugees of 1766 from Long Island to Connecticut, by Fredric Mather, 1913

HAWKINGS ZOPHER-From Brookhaven. He served in Col. Smith's Regt. (G. 7, 35) Afterward, he served in the 4th Line. (G. 48. Also Onderdonk's " Suffolk Co.," P. 29) He was a Prisoner. (" N. Y. in the Revolution Sept." p. 42) He signed the Association, in 1775. (H19) He was b. Jan. 24, 1757; m. Juliana Bayles; I Oct. 26, 1847. His children were: Moses, b. Oct. 16, 1804; Mary, b. Jan. 9, 1806; Ruth, b. May 19, 1808; Sarah (twin with Ruth); Elizabeth, b. Apr. 6, 1811 and Samuel, b. July 17, 1816. (I. G. H-)

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