“Nothing would have been too black for his heart, when he had an end in view. Such men are the most dangerous foes to their fellows, and we must rejoice when a just punishment overtakes them in their headstrong career. Many of those who are glorified as great men have possessed the same unscrupulous disposition. The only difference between them and Lewis lies in this—they fixed their minds on greater objects,” said old Harmar.
“What’s that for?” inquired Higgins, starting up as the sound of drum and fife broke on his ear. Mrs. Harmar went to the front window, and reported that a Volunteer company of soldiers was coming down the street. The old men instantly crowded round the window, and expressed their gratification at the sight that presented itself. The volunteers were neatly uniformed and very precisely drilled. They marched with the firm and uniform tread of regulars. The “ear-piercing fife and spirit-stirring drum” discoursed the music sweetest to the ears of the old warriors, and their eyes brightened and they made an effort to straighten themselves, as if “the old time came o’er them.” They lingered at the window as long as they could catch the sound, and long after the volunteers had turned the corner of the street. Perhaps, if we had possessed sufficient mental insight, we might have been with those old men in the scenes that came back to their minds like a tide that had seemed to have ebbed away for ever. We might have been with them where the drum and fife were as strong drink to the warriors, firing their hearts and steeling their nerves for the bloody struggle. But we are left to conjecture what was present to their imaginations by what they express in conversation.
“Those fellows look very neat and prim; they march well, and their muskets are polished very bright. I wonder how they would stand fire,” said Higgins, after the party had seated themselves.
“I doubt if they would like it as well as parading the streets; but there may be some stout hearts among them,” replied old Harmar.
“They should have been at Brandywine or Germantown. At either place they would have had a chance to prove their stuff. Fife and drum would have been necessary, I think, to stir them up,” said Wilson.
“I paid a visit to Germantown, the other day,” said Mr. Jackson Harmar. “I passed over the chief portion of the battle-ground, and examined Chew’s house, where some of the British took refuge and managed to turn the fortunes of the day. The house is in a good state of preservation, and bears many marks of the conflict.”
“I have seen it since the day of the battle, and have also walked over the neighboring grounds,” said Smith “You are wrong in stating that the troops that threw themselves into that house turned the fortune of the day. Our defeat was the result of many unlooked-for circumstances, which no general could have been prepared to meet.”