“Didn’t they start a pursuit?” inquired Higgins.
“No: John thought his party was not strong enough, and that the glory of defeating such a party of regulars was enough for once. But several of the wounded red-coats were taken. Some of the farmers wanted to kill them right off, but John wouldn’t let them. He said there had been blood enough shed already, and set them at work to bury the dead. Soon after, John went to the army, and told Joe of the attack, and of the death of his wife and child. Joe swore, by the most sacred oaths, to have revenge; and made John describe the appearance of the man whom he had seen running away from the house after firing the shot that had killed Mrs. Bates. The man had peculiar features, and could not be mistaken.
“At the great Battle of Eutaw Springs, Joe was among the troops who charged with trailed arms. He came upon a man who answered the description given by John, and rushed upon him with such force that he pinned him to the ground with his bayonet, and he then drew a knife across his throat to make sure work of it. He told me that he stopped, amid a tremendous storm of grape and musketry, to take a look at the Britisher, and to be sure that he had no life in him.”
“What bloody creatures war can make men,” remarked young Harmar. “That man was not sure he had killed the murderer of his wife.”
“It made no difference to him,” replied old Harmar. “He hated the whole set, and he had no mercy on any of them. Joe Bates was a clever fellow—as warm a friend and as quiet a companion as you would wish to meet in time of peace; but he hated like he loved—with all his heart, and would go through fire and death to get at a foe.”
“I believe Joe Bates’ conduct was a fair specimen of that of the whole people of those parts, at that time,” said Wilson. “I’ve been told that the whigs and tories had no mercy on each other.”
“Not a bit,” added old Harmar. “It seems to me that the fighting up here in the North was child’s play in comparison with that in the South. Every man on the American side that went into the battle of Eutaw Springs, was so full of courage and the desire of revenge that he was equal to two common men. Greene had difficulty in restraining their ardor within the limits of prudence. I heard of Colonel Henry Lee and his legion coming up with a body of tories who were assembled to march to the British camp, and his men would slaughter them without mercy, in spite of his efforts to restrain them.”