WHICH CONTAINS THE ADVENTURES OF SOLOMON IN THE TIMBER SACK AND ON THE “HAND-MADE RIVER”
In the spring of 1779, there were scarcely sixteen thousand men in the American army, of which three thousand were under Gates at Providence; five thousand in the Highlands under McDougall, who was building new defenses at West Point, and on the east shore of the Hudson under Putnam; seven thousand were with Washington at Middlebrook where he had spent a quiet winter; a few were in the south. The British, discouraged in their efforts to conquer the northern and middle colonies, sent a force of seven thousand men to take Georgia and South Carolina. They hoped that Washington, who could not be induced to risk his army in decisive action against superior numbers, would thus be compelled to scatter and weaken it. But the Commander-in-Chief, knowing how seriously Nature, his great ally, was gnawing at the vitals of the British, bided his time and kept his tried regiments around him. Now and then, a staggering blow filled his enemies with a wholesome fear of him. His sallies were as swift and unexpected as the rush of a panther with the way of retreat always open. Meanwhile a cry of affliction and alarm had arisen in England. Its manufacturers were on the verge of bankruptcy, its people out of patience.
As soon as the ice was out of the lakes and rivers, Jack and Solomon joined an expedition under Sullivan against the Six Nations, who had been wreaking bloody vengeance on the frontiers of Pennsylvania and New York. The Senecas had been the worst offenders, having spilled the blood of every white family in their reach. Sullivan’s expedition ascended the Chemung branch of the Susquehanna and routed a great force of Indians under Brant and Johnson at Newtown and crossed to the Valley of the Genessee, destroying orchards, crops and villages. The red men were slain and scattered. The fertile valley was turned into a flaming, smoking hell. Simultaneously a force went up the Alleghany and swept its shores with the besom of destruction.
Remembrance of the bold and growing iniquities of the savage was like a fire in the heart of the white man. His blood boiled with anger. He was without mercy. Like every reaping of the whirlwind this one had been far more plentiful than the seed from which it sprang. Those April days the power of the Indian was forever broken and his cup filled with bitterness. Solomon had spoken the truth when he left the Council Fire in the land of Kiodote:
“Hereafter the Injun will be a brother to the snake.”
Jack and Solomon put their lives in danger by entering the last village ahead of the army and warning its people to flee. The killing had made them heart-sick, although they had ample reason for hating the red men.
In the absence of these able helpers Washington had moved to the Highlands. This led the British General, Sir Henry Clinton, to decide to block his return. So he sent a large force up the river and captured the fort at Stony Point and King’s Ferry connecting the great road from the east with the middle states. The fort and ferry had to be retaken, and, early in July, Jack and Solomon were sent to look the ground over.