“King George’s government thought it had a right to make use of every body—rascals and honest men—to effect its design of enslaving us; but we taught ’em a thing or two,” added Morton, with a gratified smile.
“I suppose,” said young Harmar, “that, while you were up in New York, you heard of many bloody affairs with the Indians and tories.”
“Many a one,” replied Morton. “Many a one, sir. I could interest you for days in recounting all I saw and heard. The poor whigs suffered a great deal from the rascals—they did. Those in Tryon county, especially, were always exposed to the attacks of the savages. I recollect an affair that occurred at a settlement called Shell’s Bush, about five miles from Herkimer village.
“A wealthy German, named John Shell, had built a block-house of his own. It was two stories high, and built so as to let those inside fire straight down on the assailants. One afternoon in August, while the people of the settlement were generally in the fields at work, a Scotchman named M’Donald, with about sixty Indians and tories, made an attack on Shell’s Bush. Most of the people fled to Fort Dayton, but Shell and his family took refuge in the block-house. The father and two sons were at work in the field when the alarm was given. The sons were captured, but the father succeeded in reaching the block-house, which was then besieged. Old Shell had six sons with him, and his wife loaded the muskets, which were discharged with sure aim. This little garrison kept their foes at a distance. M’Donald tried to burn the block-house, but did not succeed. Furious at the prospect of being disappointed of his expected prey, he seized a crowbar, ran up to the door, and attempted to force it; but old Shell fired and shot him in the leg, and then instantly opened the door and made him a prisoner. M’Donald was well supplied with cartridges, and these he was compelled to surrender to the garrison. The battle was now hushed for a time; and Shell, knowing that the enemy would not attempt to burn the house while their captain was in it, went into the second story, and began to sing the favorite hymn of Martin Luther, when surrounded with the perils he encountered in his controversy with the Pope.”
“That was cool,” remarked Higgins.
“Bravely cool,” added old Harmar.
“Oh, it was necessary to be cool and brave in those times,” said Morton. “But to go on with my story; the respite was very short. The tories and Indians were exasperated at the successful resistance of the garrison, and rushed up to the block-house. Five of them thrust the muzzles of their pieces through the loop-holes; but Mrs. Shell seized an axe, and, with well-directed blows, ruined every musket by bending the barrels. At the same time, Shell and his sons kept up a brisk fire, and drove the enemy off.