Saturday, 5 September 2009

William Caldwell (1750-1822)

I am a big fan of the film Drums Along the Mohawk - it's one of the great 'Easterns' and has some John Ford magic aplenty in the characters and some of the scenes. The villain of the piece is 'Caldwell' played by the masterly John Carradine (pictured) - a loyalist who leads the Indians in the attack on the Martin's village. I have to admit that I have never read the book that the movie is based on despite the fact I have been told it's a classic but it seems that the character is based on the Butler's Rangers leader William Caldwell.
He seems to me a fascinating fellow taking part as an officer in Lord Dunmore's war a year after arriving in America from Ireland. In the Revolution he was based at Niagara and according to his bio 'In the rangers’ campaigns Caldwell was “a very active Partisan,” according to the fort’s commandant. He led, rather than ordered, his troops into battle and he demonstrated a ruthlessness that the Americans would remember'. Victor at Sandusky and Blue Licks. He attracted a notoriety that didn't die down after the War was over and he was still 'public enemy number 1' for a lot of Americans in that part of the world for a long time.
He didn't die like his implied end in Drums - he survived and lived a pillar of the community existence in Canada. He led a unit in the War of 1812 called 'Caldwell's Rangers' fighting at the battle of the Thames and lived on until 1822.
A concise history of Butler's Rangers

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