Ethan Allen Hitchcock, Philosopher-Soldier
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Hitchcock, the grandson of Revolutionary hero Ethan Allen, was a well-educated soldier with a philosophical turn of mind.
In intervals during the fighting, he took notes on Kant's
Critique of Pure Reason, which he was reading in the original German.
He left Florida early in 1836 to accompany General Gaines to the west, but when he returned in 1840, he was less sanguine than ever about the conflict. "To carry on such a war seems an idle, if not a wicked waste of life and treasure," he wrote in his diary. In a letter to Reverend W.G. Eliot, he added:
"This service is harder on me than on most others, for I know the cruel wrongs to which the enemy has been subjected, so I can not help wishing that the right may prevail, which is, to use your own language, 'praying for the Indians.'"
The philosopher and skeptic was far from alone. Nearly to a man, officers of the regular army shared the belief that the Treaty of Payne's Landing,
which had precipitated the war, was "a foul blot upon the escutcheon of the nation." It was not unusual for white men to harbor in private, and later express in public, the feeling that the Indians fought for the nobler cause.
Mahon 77, Hitchcock 125-28, McKenney Memoirs 274-75.
Part 2, War: l