While the French and Indians besiege Fort William Henry, Cora and Alice Munro, daughters of the English commander, are on their way to join him. They are accompanied by Major Duncan Heyward, Alice's fiance, and by the treacherous Indian Magua, who secretly serves the French. Magua plans to betray the party to the Iroquois, and to claim Cora as his squaw, but he is foiled by the scout Hawkeye and his companions, Chingachgook and his son Uncas, who deliver the girls to their father. After the fall of the fort, the girls are given safe passage by the French, but Magua captures them and they become prisoners of the Indians. To rescue Alice and Cora, Hawkeye and Uncas lead the Mohicans against the Hurons, an action filled with unforeseen consequences for all of them. The Last of the Mohicans is a story of romance and adventure on the American frontier. It is a story of love and loyalty, and of America's coming of age.
It was a feature peculiar to the colonial wars of North America, that the toils and dangers of the wilderness were to be encountered before the adverse hosts could meet. A wide and apparently an impervious boundary of forests severed the possessions of the hostile provinces of France and England. The hardy colonist, and the trained European who fought at his side, frequently expended months in struggling against the rapids of the streams, or in effecting the rugged passes of the mountains, in quest of an opportunity to exhibit their courage in a more martial conflict. But, emulating the patience and self–denial of the practised native warriors, they learned to overcome every difficulty; and it would seem that, in time, there was no recess of the woods so dark, nor any secret place so lovely, that it might claim exemption from the inroads of those who had pledged their blood to satiate their vengeance, or to uphold the cold and selfish policy of the distant monarchs of Europe. Perhaps no district throughout the wide extent of the intermediate frontiers can furnish a livelier picture of the cruelty and fierceness of the savage warfare of those periods than the country which lies between the head waters of the Hudson and the adjacent lakes.