Han Yerry Tewahangaraghkan

Portrait of Han Yerry Tewahangaraghkan
"Han Yerry Tewahangaraghkan" by Dale Watson
War & AffiliationRevolutionary War / American
Date of Birth - Death1727-1839

Born around 1727 (or perhaps a few years later) in the Mohawk Valley of New York, Han Yerry Tewahangaraghkan’s parentage from an Oneida mother and German father put him a position to cross into both colonial and Native American worlds along the frontiers. His name means “He Who Takes Up the Snow Shoe.”

Tewahangaraghkan married and lived in the Onedia town of Oriska, not far from the British’s Fort Stanwix. When the American Revolution became in 1775, the couple had to decide whether they would ally with the American Patriots or the British Soldiers. Like many in the Onedia Tribe, they decided to support the Americans. As a prominent member in the Wolf Clan, Tewahangaraghkan organized a group of warriors to assist the Continental Army. 

During the summer of 1777, British General John Burgoyne and his army marched south through New York, planning to capture the city of Albany. Burgoyne also planned to rendezvous with Lieutenant Colonel Barry St. Leger who was advancing east through New York, though Oneida homelands. American troops now held Fort Stanwix and prepared to oppose St. Leger’s advance. The British troops arrived at the fort on August 3, 1777, and laid siege.

Meanwhile, American General Nicholas Herkimer marched to relieve Fort Stanwix, and Tewahangaraghkan joined him with a company of native warriors. Tewahangaraghkan’s wife and one of their sons also went on the march. 

At the Battle of Oriskany on August 6, Herkimer’s force marched into an ambush and the fighting took place at close quarters. Tewahangaraghkan was in the midst of battle, and when he was wounded in the wrist, his wife took over the task of loading his musket for him. By the end of the fight, St. Leger was forced to leave the siege of Fort Stanwix. Tewahangarghkan recovered from his injury. He spent the rest of the year scouting for the Continental Army. 

During the spring of 1778, he led his warriors to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, to meet with General George Washington. He may have dined at Washington’s Headquarters at the Isaac Potts House. Later, on May 20, 1778, the Oneida warriors fought at the Battle of Barren Hill, collaborating with the Marquis de Lafayette

Tewahangaraghkan returned to New York during the summer, but his service was recognized by the Continental Congress in 1779, when he received the rank of captain. 

After the war, he lived with his wife and children near Oriskany, New York. When Lafayette visited the United States in 1825, the Frenchman met with one of Tewahangaraghkan’s sons. According to eyewitness testimony, the Oneida Captain lived until July 4, 1839. 


Related Battles

Oriskany, NY | August 6, 1777
Result: British Victory
Estimated Casualties