The Frenchmen consulted together, and the result was that Guardapie with two others jumped into the boat, took their oars, and rather sulkily rowed us the remaining two miles to Fort Howard.
FORT HOWARD—OUR RETURN HOME.
We soon learned that a great panic prevailed at Green Bay on account of the Sauks. The people seemed to have possessed themselves with the idea that the enemy would visit this place on their way to Canada to put themselves under the protection of the British Government. How they were to get there from this point—whether they were to stop and fabricate themselves bark canoes for the purpose, or whether they were to charter one of Mr. Newbery’s schooners for the trip, the good people did not seem fully to have made up their minds. One thing is certain, a portion of the citizens were nearly frightened to death, and were fully convinced that there was no safety for them but within the walls of the old dilapidated fort, from which nearly all the troops had been withdrawn and sent to Fort Winnebago some time previous.
Their fears were greatly aggravated by a report, brought by some traveller, that he had slept at night on the very spot where the Sauks breakfasted the next morning. Now, as the Sauks were known to be reduced to very short commons, there was every reason to suppose that if the man had waited half an hour longer they would have eaten him; so he was considered to have made a wonderful escape.
Our immediate friends and acquaintances were far from joining in these fears. The utter improbability of such a movement was obvious to all who considered the nature of the country to be traversed, and the efficient and numerous body of whites by whom they must be opposed on their entrance into that neighborhood. There were some, however, who could not be persuaded that there was any security but in flight, and eagerly was the arrival of the “Mariner” looked for, as the anxiety grew more and more intense.
The “Mariner” appeared at last. It was early in the morning. In one hour from the time of her arrival the fearful news she brought had spread the whole length of the settlement—“the cholera was in this country! It was in Detroit—it was among the troops who were on their way to the seat of war! Whole companies had died of it in the river St. Clair, and the survivors had been put on shore at Port Gratiot, to save their lives as best they might!” We were shut in between the savage foe on one hand and the pestilence on the other!
To those who had friends at the East the news was most appalling. It seemed to unman every one who heard it. An officer who had exhibited the most distinguished prowess in the battle-field, and also in some private enterprises demanding unequalled courage and daring, was the first to bring us the news. When he had communicated it, he laid his head against the window-sill and wept like a child.