I received your book and it is a delight. It's so meticulous. Thank you for this memento ... Madeleine Stowe

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Will the real Duncan Heyward please step forward?


August 2d 1757

In the Evening, Col. Young of the 3d Battalion of the Royal Americans and Col. Fry of the N. England Forces came to the Camp at Lake George with a reinforcement of 1100 men Regulars and Provincials making with what we had before upwards of 2400 men the whole under command of Col. Monro of the 35th Regime.

{Note: The reinforcements arrived at night, sent by General Webb from Fort Edward. "Col. Young" is Lieutenant John Young who came with 200 Royal Americans and Independents. "Col. Fry" is Colonel Joseph Frye; he led 823 Massachusetts provincial troops into Fort William Henry.}

Alas! We have found the REAL Duncan ... thank you very much. The above excerpt is taken from the journal of an anonymous officer, possibly an artillery officer inside the fort, written during the siege of Fort William Henry.

According to Russell P. Bellico, in his 1995 book Chronicles of Lake George; Journeys in War and Peace, Lieutenant John Young is the historic model for Duncan Heyward (actually, Heywood in the novel).

As for the film version of the man ... A mere lad of 21 when LOTM was filmed, Steven Waddington recently starred in an A&E Special Presentation of another classic, Ivanhoe. Here's what the LOTM Press Kit had to say about him:

As Major Duncan Heyward, the British Officer leading the 35th Regiment of foot, English actor STEVEN WADDINGTON learned a great deal about military rank in a short time. "There is only one character, Colonel Munro, who outranks Heyward, who finds out very early on that he likes to give orders. That is all he has ever known. One of the main conflicts he has in the movie is with Hawkeye because he can't stand being out of control. He's simply not used to people disobeying his orders or declining his requests. So the harsh reality in store for Heyward is that he is surrounded by insubordination, he is spurned by his lover and he finds himself out of place in this world."

Born and raised in Leeds, England, Steven Waddington ... will soon be seen as Christopher Columbus' brother in 1492 ... LOTM was [his] first work in the United States.


Glens Falls ... Cooper's Cave ... to a Mohicanite these place names seem to be shrouded in inexplicable mystique. Indeed, the scene Under The Falls in LOTM is one of the true magical segments in the film. (For a view of the real Glens Falls in the present, see our historic PHOTO GALLERY!) Viewing the Falls for the first time triggered many images in our minds ... obviously they had a similar effect on James Fenimore Cooper, as the Falls and the Cave became integral parts of the story.

It was not only Cooper who was enamored by these scenic wonders. In nearly all accounts written by early visitors to this region, mention of these Falls can be found. Many earlier accounts refer to "Wings Falls", as they were originally known (at the time of LOTM, in fact), as a "fine piece of Nature's workmanship", but perhaps some of the later descriptions conjure up more vivid images. In 1819, Benjamin Stilliman, a professor who founded The American Journal of Science and Arts, wrote:

We stopped for a few moments at this celebrated place ... The various rapids we had passed above Albany ... and still more, the falls ... had powerfully arrested our attention, and prepared us for the magnificent spectacle now before us ... Down these platforms, and through these channels, the Hudson, when the river is full, indignantly rushes, in one broad expanse; now, in several subordinate rivers, thundering and foaming among the black rocks, and at last dashing their conflicting waters into one tumultuous raging torrent ...

In 1824, Cooper himself visited these Falls, and exclaimed, " I must place one of my old Indians here!" Shortly later, in 1825, Theodore Wright, Jr., a renowned author of the day, described them in some detail:

The river here makes a sudden descent of 37 feet, over a rock of dark blue limestone, which has been worn into so many forms as to break up the current in a very singular manner. The projection of two large masses of rock divides the water into three sheets ... Of these, the northern one is much the largest, and the other two unite and pass through a deep channel, about 15 feet wide ... A dam is thrown across just above the falls ... (Yes, even then!)

And then, on the Cave (writing in 1831, when LOTM was enjoying immense success):

... The first [cavern] is just large enough to permit the passage of a man, and is cut with surprising regularity for a distance of about 25 feet. This place is the scene of some of the most interesting chapters of Mr. Cooper's novel The Last of the Mohicans. The cavern ... was the place where the wanderers secreted themselves, and were made captives. The cavern conducts to one of the river's channels, where it opens up on the side of a precipice, directly over the water.

And, several years later, in 1835, author Harriet Martineau writes:

We were all astounded at the splendour of Glen's Falls. The full though narrow Hudson rushes along amid enormous masses of rock, and leaps sixty feet down the chasms and precipices which occur in the passage, sweeping between dark banks of shelving rocks below, its current speckled with foam. The noise is so tremendous ...

You can almost see Hawkeye & Cora, Uncas & Alice, Duncan, The Redcoats, & Chingachgook in this dark, dank real hideaway. The blue hues ... the shifting camera angles ... the powerful music ... outdone only by the raw power of the falls ... the desperation! Cooper must have been able to see all of that ... in 1824! It makes you wonder!


A Few Bits & Pieces Contributed By Marie Faure:

General Montcalm's aide de camp, Louis Antoine de Bougainville is played by Dylan Baker. How he came to get this role, and what happened afterward is an interesting story. Please note, however, that my information is secondhand, though from a very reliable source -- a friend of mine, also in the film, [Bill Bozic - already a contributor to these Musings!] who was his 'roomie' and good friend during the shoot.

One night around the camp fires, Dylan Baker was giving his rendition of one of his favorite scenes in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", imitating the French guard on top of the castle wall who insults King Arthur. His accent made an impression, and the next thing he knew, Michael Mann was asking him to play Bougainville. This he was delighted to do, and I think he was very, very good. However, in view of his rapid elevation through the ranks -- from Private to le Marquis' right-hand man, Dylan thought his salary should rise accordingly. Michael Mann did not agree. Things were said. Nobody was spared. In the end, Michael Mann made good on his threat to dub over Dylan's voice. If you pay close attention, you will barely make out the evidence of this. Dylan, if you see this, I'm on your side! [Coincidentally, Soldier #2 makes this very same point on the Mohican WWW Board!]


Captain Beams, who arrests Hawkeye in the middle of the night, is played by Pete Postlethwaite. He and Daniel have been close friends since they first appeared on stage together when Daniel was 17 years old. You can see them in In the Name of the Father. They play father and son (even though there's only 12 years difference in their ages!), and this time, instead of throwing Daniel into a cell, Pete shares one with him!


crp_props.jpg (87491 bytes)

The contributor, Marie, at the old Chimney Rock Park display case (since removed)!


"But the Horicane is near trapped out." ... So says Hawkeye while at the Camerons' Cabin. While the script does read 'Horicane', it should be spelled 'Horican'. The lake was previously named Lac Du Saint Sacrement by the French Jesuit, Father Isaac Jogues, on May 30, 1646. Returning to the Hudson Valley four years after his escape from Mohawk captivity, Father Jogues arrived at the northern end of the crystalline waters on the eve of the Feast of Corpus Christi, thus the name.

In 1755, prior to the Battle of Lake George, Sir William Johnson renamed the lake both to honor King George II and to declare England's sovereignty of the lake region. It has been called Lake George ever since.

Cooper apparently wished to avoid using either the French or the English names in his novel, thus we have Hawkeye's usage of Horican. Cooper's choice was made by; "Looking over an ancient map, it was ascertained that a tribe of Indians, called "Les Horicans" by the French, existed in the neighborhood of this beautiful sheet of water." The author felt strongly about the waterway's name, for he led an unsuccessful campaign to rename it Horican.

There was yet another name for this placid water. The Iroquois had called it Andiatarocte ... 'there where the lake is shut in." Whatever the favored name, it really was "near trapped out"!


It has become obvious ... the folks who post on our bulletin board miss nothing! A red bandana on a person in the background during The Elk Hunt scene!! You may be interested in knowing that the live elk was filmed running in a pen on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Perhaps this mysterious figure lurking in the foliage on screen was giving the elk a little stimulation to run! The "dead" elk is then shoved off the rock (covered with forest debris, etc.) at the actual location where the Mohicans "shoot" it. 

Screen capture from the DVD


On our latest trek into MohicanLand, a notion we were always aware of was reinforced. That is, the location of The Final Scene is very difficult to find. Those of you who have purchased the book, or plan to, and who have attempted to locate the exact spot ... well, it ain't easy! Even tougher to explain in print. It's a similar situation with The Elk Hunt. "Go to the big tree, pass the cliff, hang a right at the cracked rock ..." Really though, please send us an e-mail before attempting these two locations. Rather than have you make a journey that ultimately ends in disappointment, we'll try to clarify what's in the book. Don't get us wrong, the directions in the book get you there, and these locations are findable. With photos in hand or imprinted in your mind, you should successfully find them. We'd like to make it just a little easier for you. To that end, here's another view of the area not found in the book ...

The Last Scene

The vicinity of The Final Scene.



We have come across, on several occasions, instances of people being critical of LOTM based on alleged misuse, or unrealistic use, of the musket. Here, we present an argument against such notions. DDL worked long and hard to get things right, as did the rest of the cast. Michael Mann wanted it that way. Joe Hinson, a colonial re-enactor from South Carolina, contacted us via e-mail and has this to say, on that and other topics:

I have read several times in LOM sites about DDL loading his rifle incorrectly in the climactic cliff scene. This is not true, unless I haven't seen the version others are speaking of. I know the fellow who taught DDL to shoot a flintlock (Mark A. Baker, listed in the credits as Colonial Man) and have seen him do the same thing Hawkeye does. After firing, knowing that you are going to load straight from the horn and not from a measure, he blows down the barrel to extinguish any hot sparks before pouring powder from the horn. I'm not sure if this is what people have misinterpreted as Hawkeye spitting a ball down the barrel, then pulling the plug from his horn to charge the rifle. If anyone has a question on living history subjects or loading and firing a flintlock I would be glad to try to answer them. I have been "fighting" the French and Indians, and the 'Bloody Lobsterbacks' for over 12 years now.

One thing I was kind of disappointed in in the film is the total disregard of the presence of any of Rogers' Rangers. I know, I know, they weren't mentioned in the novel, but they were there. In fact, Rogers' brother Richard died there just before the siege, of smallpox - one of the trophies taken home by the warriors who plundered the fort after the capitulation was this devastating disease. I'll be glad to let any one "pick my brain" about historical practices in real practice - a lot of what looks so good on film doesn't work well in real life.

One thing in the film I have never seen anyone discuss is Hawkeye's swinging of Killdeer off of his shoulder at the ambush on the George road. In the shot directly before this we see him sling across his shoulder over his head, then when he sees Magua sighting on Cora, he does this smooth spin of the rifle off of his shoulder without taking it over his head. "Movie Magic".

I also read in the Mohican Board some one musing over the name of the "ditty" bags and the red thing showing in Hawkeye's knapsack. The Ditty bags are shooting bags that carry all your ball, shoot, patching and accouterments to work on and clean your firelock. The Red Thing is Hawkeye's blanket. I haven't seen the Green things hanging from Uncas' bag but it is probably the same thing. I'll have to check that out in my next viewing of the film.


You can e-mail Colonial Joe at: gonja@charlotte.infi.net


And this from the May/June '92 issue of Muzzleloader Magazine regarding DDL's proficiency:

In the interest of blending safety and historic accuracy, we started the run with a clean empty bore. [Day -] Lewis moved along the trail at a quick clip, dumping powder while counting to five, removing a round ball from his mouth and placing it in the muzzle of Killdeer, ramming the ball home and finally priming with the big horn. After one afternoon of practice, he could get such a shot off - and hit the mark - in less than 30 seconds.

The above was written by Mark A. Baker. More on him and shooting from Joe:

[Baker] was the fellow who was handing DDL the loaded rifles during the courier scene; also, he's the one who greets them at the fort as they arrive, "Hello Boys!!". This should answer the fellow who said it would take 2 minutes to load and fire the rifle standing still. I have fired my flintlock in competition 12 times in 5 mins. Of course, I was prepared in advance with a mouth full of round ball, but you get the idea.

To hear from Mark himself, read ON THE TRAIL WITH ... MARK A. BAKER.


Blood debts? Revenge?...Magua is but a character in a fictional work. While The Last of the Mohicans has an historical backdrop, its tale of the plotting Huron anxious to avenge wrongs committed against him has no historical basis. Or does it? While there is no evidence of a planned massacre, there are some curious coincidences involved with the Fort William Henry affair that deserve some consideration.

Both the Huron and the Abenaki were consistently pro-French. In the case of the Abenaki, it could be added that they were anti-English. Bitterly anti-English. Reaching back into the latter half of the 17th century, one finds the 'seeds' of their hatred. The New Englanders had been encroaching upon Abenaki lands from that period on. There was war, resistance, retaliation, and still more war. On and on it went. In the 1720s a violent, major five-year long war broke out. Alternately called Dummer's War, Grey Lock's War, and Lovewell's War, it was a bloody struggle to retake their land. The battle grounds were in what was then the Massachusetts Colony, encompassing Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire. There was no resolution, no peace effected from this continual war with the New Englanders.

Then we have the forcible removal of the Acadians in 1755. Among the inhabitants of the area, besides the French, were the Abenaki. They were highly sympathetic to the plight of the refugees. Who now moved into the nearly vacated region? New Englanders!

At Fort William Henry two years later, the Abenaki were among the 'Canadian' Indians who partook in the massacre of the wounded men. Who were those men? New Englanders! From the Massachusetts regiment. The following morning, as the column moved along the road to Fort Edward, it was attacked in the rear. It is said that the Abenaki were the ones who gave the signal. Who were these troops in the rear? New Englanders! This time from the New Hampshire regiment.

While this does not, of course, prove there was any element of revenge, it is something to think about. Perhaps there really was an element of " ... wiping [the Grey Hair's] seed from the earth forever". Maybe Cooper was on to something?...


Though we don't necessarily agree with one or two of the assessments made below, here are some rather interesting quotes from the Big 3 - DDL, Stowe, Mann - culled from the pages of Premiere:

One of the things I find attractive in people, is when they know enough of the worth of what they're doing not to try to sell it to anybody else. Michael knew a great deal about the history of the period, about Montcalm and about a distant ancestor of mine called Wolfe, who actually died in the same battle as Montcalm, at Quebec. He never once said to me, "I think you should do it." ... Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel was unique. He did not question or challenge Michael ... It's a real deep, unspoken agreement I think they had. Daniel was called upon to expend a great deal of energy, do a lot of things that were tricky or dangerous. And there was no thanks involved or exchanged, because it was understood - a real male thing - that Michael was the general and Daniel was going to fulfill his orders. I think they really care about each other a great deal, those two. ... Madeleine Stowe

The guy who got it most wrong is James Fenimore Cooper. Writing years after these events in a very romantic age, having sentimental notions about noble savages, Cooper managed to completely denigrate the northeastern Indians. ... Michael Mann

Chingachgook describes it in the closing stages of the film, when he talks about the frontier moving farther and farther west and that at one point there will no longer be any need for people like Hawkeye. ... Daniel Day-Lewis

When you're doing a scene with another person, who plays the other half of the most important relationship in the movie, and you share this intimacy with the director - almost an exclusive circle - and you feel everybody else working to capture that, it's the most incredible feeling. Daniel's not cerebral, doesn't talk a lot of bull ... There's a quality about him that's almost religious. ... Madeleine Stowe

... after months and months of the Blue Ridge Mountains and cliffside shoots and up at dawn, I came away from principal photography saying, "Give me some lights, give me some rock & roll, some parking lot, f_ nature, I'm out of here. I hit the airport in Atlanta - you fly in from Asheville - and went up the main concourse. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Light and fast-food stands, magazine racks. When I landed in L.A., I thought it was Byzantium ... Everybody burned their hiking boots; that was the ritual. When I wrapped the movie, everybody threw their boots in a giant pile, put a little gasoline on it, and we lit it up. ... Michael Mann

He made a risky decision, I think. There's nothing he could have seen in my work to make him think, "Why not Hawkeye?" So from my point of view, I think it was an obscure choice. ... Daniel Day-Lewis

The last couple of days of shooting, we were so exhausted. After lunch one day, it deteriorated to the point where Daniel was doing my makeup. I had my head tilted back, and he was putting on my mascara and my eye liner, and they said, "Daniel, we really need you on the stage." And he turned to the AD and said, "I'm going as fast as I can." ... Madeleine Stowe

You see a scene today that's a large-scale, massive affair, but the point of the scene is it follows Hawkeye ... Now, if it's not personalized as the story of Hawkeye and Cora, it may be spectacular, and if I really do my job well, it may be engaging cinema, but it's reduced to an historical event. So the priority, the dynamic driving through the scene, is a love story in a war zone ... Michael Mann

What's so good is [Madeleine's] incredibly thoughtful, has a true discipline in the way she thinks. But it's like a framework within which she's very - 'capricious' has too light an air - impulsive. And the intellect barely tames what's threatening to break out all the time ... she has an interior life, it seems to me ... Daniel Day-Lewis


Chimney Rock Park! More than any other place, this breath taking locale is associated with The Last Of The Mohicans. Here are a few more images, not found in On The Trail Of The Last Of The Mohicans:

An Uncas Whack

Appearing from behind this rock wall, Uncas delivers a mortal blow to the first unsuspecting Huron.

Hawkeye Run Thru

As he runs through this crevice, Hawkeye knows he will be unsuccessful in his attempt to aid Uncas.

Alice Falling

From this ledge, Alice is seen free-falling to her death.


The Indian Protest affair has been difficult for us to put our finger on, yet it is something that always seems to pop up in Mohican Lore. Some kind of strike did take place, organized by someone, occurring somewhere, by some group of people ... we won't attempt to chronicle the event definitively - not yet, anyway - but will put some information before you. What do you think?

The strike took place during the third week of July. By its end, on July 24, the production was Union. Though dubbed by most media as an Indian Protest, it really began as a strike by the technicians - wardrobe, cameramen, props, grips, makeup ... over 100 in all - and certainly most of the lost time was caused by this group. Why?

Michael Mann said, "They work very hard. They work long hours. Some of the problems we have stem from what we are trying to capture. We have a number of extras who have never been extras before. They may feel it's a little rough on them as a group." An unidentified crew member had this to say regarding the reasons for striking, "... the long hours with bad food and not the best pay, waiting in the wet, cold mountains for the constant drizzle to stop." Russell Means, who downplays his role in the affair, says, "They [the Indian extras] were quartered at an abandoned Scout camp. It was known as Camp Mohican, and it resembled a concentration camp ... they were stuck out there in the summer heat and 90% humidity ... they spent the hottest part of the day in these hellholes ..." Bryan Unger, a representative of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees says, " The working conditions the crew was put under were very difficult."

It appears unanimous that the working conditions were perceived as poor. The work stoppage, though during a time when the Fort William Henry scenes were being filmed, actually appears to have had the most impact on a night scene which was filmed at the Biltmore Estate (the Burial Ground?). On that night, according to the October, 1992 issue of Premiere magazine, "The first pickets, who set up around 2 PM, were IA members from out of town, so none of the Mohicans crew would be singled out as strike ringleaders. When the first van bearing crew members for the 5 o'clock call arrived, their Teamster drivers simply pulled over short of the picket line and cut their engines. The crew piled out, joining the pickets just as the previous few days' quiet strike call had prearranged."

Though in the media, Russell Means received all the "blame" for organizing this affair, it appears it was a Union call, and would have happened with or without the Indian extras. There at Lake James, Indians did gather in protest, for all of 4 hours, apparently. Negotiations went on between Union reps and Hunt Lowery & Michael Mann. It seems the matter was settled in a very short time. In the end, it all had very little real impact on the production, despite all the publicity ... it seems it was much ado about nothing.

The Indian Protest

Pickets at Lake James.

Photo courtesy of Susan V. Houck


Prompted by some visitor discussion, we offer this dialogue on dialogue ...

Certainly a strength of The Last of the Mohicans was the use of four different languages; English, French, Delaware, and Huron. The spirited effect of the multi-lingual dialogue transcended the audio impact; it heightened the visual as well. Examples would be Cameron's Cabin and The Huron Village. These scenes were given more power and depth by the realistic expression of confusion and bewilderment by those present at the smoldering remains of the homestead, yet ignorant of an explanation. Think of the indignation and shock expressed in the faces of Major Heyward, Cora, and Alice as they struggled to understand what exactly they had come upon and why those poor souls were left unburied. Had the party all spoken in English, the effect would have been greatly diminished as it would instead have been a scene where all understood in a moment the what, who, and why. Likewise, when Hawkeye was forced to rely on Duncan for translation, consider the dynamics between the two. For the first time in the duo's unhappy association they were not only desperately unified, but had need in an instant of mutual trust. The effective trans-lingual element reached its apogee when the Huron Sachem unexpectedly broke off from the French discourse and pronounced judgment in the unintelligible Huron. Hawkeye et al were terrified, having no clue as to what their fate was. Powerfully portrayed, once again, through the facial expressions of the captives.

Wes Studi in particular should be applauded for his performance, for he spoke not one or two, but three distinct 'tongues'! (French, English, and Huron.) As a Tsaliga-speaking Cherokee, he already had fluency in one Iroquoian dialect. Huron, though vastly different from Studi's Cherokee language, is nonetheless Iroquoian. While neither of these tribes would be able to understand the other, phonetically they are similar and would allow a speaker of one to more rapidly absorb the other. Delaware, spoken by Chingachgook, Uncas, and Hawkeye, is an Algonquian language and not at all related to Iroquoian. Mohican has its roots in the Delaware/Lenape tongue, the probable proto-language of all Algonquian speaking people.

{Note: Since writing this we had the opportunity to interview both Wes Studi & Mike Phillips. From both men we learned that the scripted Huron dialogue was replaced by two other Iroquoian languages; Mohawk & Cherokee. Both were utilized by the men whose first language it was; Mohawk for Mike Phillips, Tsaliga for Wes Studi. The modification was simply to improve the flow & impact of the scenes which called for Huron to be spoken. For both actors, more conviction & drama was created by speaking that which they knew rather than struggling with the unfamiliar Huron. A wise decision ... }






HOW TO PURCHASE THE BOOK ... Ordering Information

THE SCRIPT ... The Complete Collection of Scenes From the Film

HISTORY & THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS ... Seeing Through the Distant Haze


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