Montcalm's Cross

British Native Allies

Sir William Johnson, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the British, promised a substantial amount of Native warriors for the campaign to invade Canada, but fell short of his promise in the months leading up to the attack on Carrillon. The 450 warriors who joined him came from mostly the Iroquois, the Delaware, and the Choctaw. In general,  the dress and appearance of these native warriors did not vary greatly, excepting the decorative details of their dress. Common in most articles of natives attire was their use of English goods and items of clothing. Their use of English goods reflected their relationship with Sir William Johnson as a trader, diplomat, and soldier. Johnson, a master at his job, went as far to marry in to the Mohawk tribe to seal these relationships. The attire of the native warriors speaks directly to Johnson's hard work.

Generally speaking, native warriors from these different tribes wore a breechcloth, leggings, garters, and moccasins. In addition to their basic clothing a shirt, matchcoat, and English garments like waistcoats, coats, breeches, and hats were also worn by Johnson's native warriors. In a list of goods to be sent over from London in 1756 Sir William Johnson included many of these items such as:

Strowd Cloth (for making breechcloths and matchcoats)

Mens Ruffled Shirts

Rolls of wool gartering in various colors

Castor (beaver) hats laced with a broad cheap lace

Cheap green waste coats with white metal buttons

Prisoner of the Delaware, John M'Cullough, described in his narrative what a native wore in 1756. Remarkably, he described many items that show up on Sir William Johnson's list of goods to purchase.

He had a brown coat on him, no shirt, his breast bare, a breech-clout, a pair of leggins and moccasons--his face and breast painted rudely with vermillion and vergigrease--a bunch of artificial hair, dyed of a crimson color, fixed on the top or crown of his head, a large triangle piece or silver hanging below his nose, that covered almost the whole of his upper lip; his ears were stretched out with fine brass wire.

Apart from the ornate decorations natives included in their attire being different from tribe to tribe,M'Cullough described generally the appearance of warriors with Sir William Johnson. M'Cullough also described the Native as being painted. Native warriors painted themselves from head to toe using bear grease mixed with colored pigments. These pigments also showed up amongst Sir William Johnson's list of trade goods with requests to purchase, "casks of vermillion," and, "lumps of verdegreace."

Not only was the clothing of the native warriors unique, but so were their arms. Guns, knives, hatchets, and swords were also being supplied by Sir William Johnson. In the same list of goods he asked for:

400 Neat Long Substantial stocks to have some distinguishing mark on the Barrel and Lock of each

400 do. a better kind distinguished above

200 do. 3 Feet Barrel for Boys, do. Wilson Maker

100 pr. of Middling Pistols and Ramrod

1000 Indian Cutlashes strong & of the cymiter Kind

500 pipe Hatchets neat & strong without Handles

50 dozn. of Long Fish Knives with Box Handles and sharp points

50 do. of Buckhorn clasp Knives

20 dozn. of Penknives Sorted

Johnson's list of arms was indicative of the relationship between the British and the Natives. He did not have a general request of arms; rather he was very specific in keeping with exactly what the natives requested. With intimate knowledge of the functioning of the native affairs, Johnson knew that failure to fulfill native requests could loose their support for the crown. Meeting demands for arms and trade goods,  winning them over for the campaign Johnson brought with him 450 very well-equipped warriors to the campaign agains Fort Carillon. Having the basics to survive, the weapons to deliver a powerful blow to the enemy, and the paint and fineries to psychologically affect the enemy. As M'Cullough described one warrior, "he appeared something like what you might apprehend to be a likeness of the devil." 


Best: Wool stroud cloth, decorated or undecorated.

Accepted: Other wool.

Unacceptable: Leather, cotton, linen.


Best: Well fit, unadorned or adorned wool Indian leggings, with hand woven garters.

Acceptable: Well fit, unadorned or adorned leather Indian leggings with hand woven garters.

Unacceptable: Gaiters, or baggy wool leggings.


Best: pucker-toe moccasins.

Acceptable: Buckled shoes.

Unacceptable: Officer’s boots, half boots or; Dyer, Arrow, Minnetonka moccasins,Shoepacks.


Best: Hand-stitched white linen or correct period cotton shirt with narrow band cuffs with thread buttons or made for sleeve buttons (cuff links).

Acceptable: White linen or correct period cotton shirt with narrow band cuffs with thread buttons or made for sleeve buttons (cuff links) with minor visible machine-stitching.

Discouraged: Checked, striped linen, or wool shirts.

Unacceptable: Cotton calico or plaid shirts.


Best: Silk, linen, cotton neckerchief, sterling silver gorget, or shell gorget.

Acceptable: None

Unacceptable: Leather neck-stocks.


Best: English trade guns, English fowlers.

Acceptable:  French trade guns, Fusil de Chasse.

Unacceptable: Blunderbuss, "blanket guns," cut down guns.

Side Arms

Best: Neck-knives, or sheathed trade knife; Hatchet, a curved sword, all carried on a simple leather belt or a sash.


Shot Bag

Best: Quilled shot bag, and quilled slit pouch.

Discouraged: Plain shot bag, and plain slit pouch.

Unacceptable: Cartridge pouches and boxes, belly boxes.

Powder Horn

Best: Native influenced horns reflecting Iroquois culture.

Acceptable: Plain white powder horn slung on a small leather strap.

Unacceptable: Filled powder horns.


Acceptable: Hemp tumpline, moose hair embroidered or plain.

Discouraged: Jute, leather tumpline.

Unacceptable: Two-strap knapsacks, snapsacks, French haversacks.


Best: Matchcoats.

Acceptable: 2-3 point check, Dutch, or rose blankets. Sewn Skin robes, and bear skin hides may also be used.

Discouraged: Plain white or Hudson Bay blankets. 

Unacceptable: Civil War grey blankets.


Best: Gourd canteen slung over the shoulder on a hemp cord or leather thong.

Acceptable: Glass or ceramic canteen, slung over the shoulder on a hemp cord or leather thong.

Discouraged: Leather or tin kidney shaped style canteen.

Unacceptable: Wooden cheese-box canteens.