The following sections of this BookRags Literature Study Guide is offprint from Gale's For Students Series: Presenting Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Commonly Studied Works: Introduction, Author Biography, Plot Summary, Characters, Themes, Style, Historical Context, Critical Overview, Criticism and Critical Essays, Media Adaptations, Topics for Further Study, Compare & Contrast, What Do I Read Next?, For Further Study, and Sources.
(c)1998-2002; (c)2002 by Gale. Gale is an imprint of The Gale Group, Inc., a division of Thomson Learning, Inc. Gale and Design and Thomson Learning are trademarks used herein under license.
The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction: "Social Concerns", "Thematic Overview", "Techniques", "Literary Precedents", "Key Questions", "Related Titles", "Adaptations", "Related Web Sites". (c)1994-2005, by Walton Beacham.
The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults: "About the Author", "Overview", "Setting", "Literary Qualities", "Social Sensitivity", "Topics for Discussion", "Ideas for Reports and Papers". (c)1994-2005, by Walton Beacham.
All other sections in this Literature Study Guide are owned and copyrighted by BookRags, Inc.
|Table of Contents|
|Start of eBook||1|
|THE LEBANON CLUB.||2|
|THE SKIRMISH AT LEXINGTON.||6|
|FIGHT AT CONCORD.||8|
|THE EXPEDITION AGAINST TICONDEROGA.||23|
|THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON.||29|
|THE CAPTURE OF GENERAL SULLIVAN.||35|
|THE PATRIOTISM OF MRS. BORDEN.||39|
|THE ESCAPE OF CAPTAIN PLUNKETT.||40|
|THE TREASON OF RUGSDALE.||42|
|THE CRUELTY OF TARLETON.||46|
|THE ATTACK ON GENERAL WAYNE.||57|
|THE MUTINY AT MORRISTOWN.||58|
|THE TREASON OF BETTYS.||62|
|THE BATTLE OF BUNKER’S HILL.||65|
|EXPLOITS OF PETER FRANCISCO.||68|
|THE EXPLOIT OF COL. ALLAN M’LEAN.||70|
|THE ADVENTURE OF MAJOR LEE.||72|
|GENERAL DANIEL MORGAN.||77|
|THE BATTLE OF ORISKANY.||79|
Those who have been associated in the performance of any deed of valor or patriotism ever feel attracted to each other by an influence stronger and nobler than that of friendship. The daring patriots who joined in resistance to the tyrannizing might of Britain, were men pledged to die rather than betray each other, and to maintain their rights while they could lift the sword or aim the musket; and that pledge made them look upon each other in after years, when the storm of war was hushed and security dwelt at the fireside, as brothers whom no petty cause could sunder nor ill report make foes. These remarks apply, especially, to those who first threw themselves into the breach, and resolved that, if the British ministry would adopt such measures as the stamp act, their execution should be resisted and become difficult, and if such measures were passed as the act taxing tea, coffee, and the comforts of life, that the tea should never be landed, and thus prove a loss to its owners. The men who threw the tea into Boston harbor were patriots united by a sense that union was necessary for the salvation of liberty; and they were attracted to each other by the same influence during the bloody struggle which succeeded. What wonder, then, that they loved to meet in after years, to wish each other health and happiness, and chat over the stirring events in which they had participated, and to which their first bold deed was as the spark to dry hay, kindling to a fierce blaze the ready seeds of war.
It was the fourth of July in Boston. Throughout the city which cradled the Revolution, the anniversary of the birth of the free and happy United States of America was celebrated with rejoicings unknown to the shackled people of monarchical countries. Meetings were held in various parts of the city, patriotic and democratic speeches made, bells rung, cannons fired, pistols, crackers, and fireworks of all descriptions discharged, toasts drank, and festivities of all kinds indulged. The soldiers paraded the streets with fine bands discoursing most excellent music, and followed by the usual crowd. Bunker Hill was the scene of a large patriotic meeting, and the events of the ‘trying time’ were again and again recounted with much enthusiasm.
But a more unusual and far more interesting meeting occurred in Boston, about a quarter of a mile from the wharf known ever since the commencement of the Revolution as Griffin’s Wharf. In the upper room of an old and somewhat dilapidated tavern were assembled a party of old and young men—the representatives of two generations. Three of the old men were the remaining members of the famous Lebanon Club; the first liberty club formed in the colonies, and the one which designed and executed the project of destroying the tea at Boston. They had come from various parts of the country, upon agreement, to meet once more in the house where the disguised members of the club had met on the evening of the sixteenth of December, 1773. The names of the old patriots were David Kinnison, Adam Colson, and Lendall Pitts. Five other veterans had joined the party by invitation, together with half-a-dozen young men who had arranged the meeting and paid all expenses, with a view of passing the Fourth of July in a novel and interesting manner.
A well-laden table extended the whole length of the room, and flags, banners, and appropriate emblems and devices, were hung on the walls. There was no formal organization, as at public festivals, no president elected, and no list of toasts prepared. It was intended to be a sociable gathering. No band of well-arranged and harmonized instruments appeared, but old Jacob Brown and old Samuel Hanson, a fifer and a drummer of the continental army, occasionally stirred the hearts and fired the eyes of the company with the music which had nerved the patriots of Bunker’s Hill and Bennington. Each of the veterans sat in an arm-chair at the table, the young men being distributed among them so as to wait upon them occasionally, and show them every attention.
Mr. Kinnison, though not the oldest man of the company, looked as if he had seen the hardest service, and received the hardest buffets of Time. His features bespoke a strong and energetic mind, and his eye was full of fire and activity. His hair was grey and bushy, partly covering a large scar on his high forehead. He had evidently been a man of powerful frame, but was now bent with the weight of years, and service. The other veterans appeared to be generally of the same age, and to have seen hard toil and service. The fifer was the most remarkable of the party. In spite of his age and white hair, his puffed cheeks and the sly twinkle of his eyes gave him a kind of jolly, frolicsome appearance, which would indicate that age could not chill the humor of his heart.
When the company were fairly seated at the table, Mr. Kinnison opened the conversation by asking the young men if they had ever heard any account of the Lebanon Liberty Club. They replied they had heard of the club, but never any definite account.
“Well,” said Mr. Kinnison, “I can tell you something about it. Mr. Pitts, Mr. Colson, and myself, were members of a club consisting of seventeen men, living at Lebanon, up here in Maine. Most of us were farmers. We knew what them folks over the river were aiming at, and we knew that there was no use of dallying about matters. Our rights were to be untouched, or there must be a fight. So, you see, we Lebanon men resolved to form a club, to consider what was to be done, and to do accordingly. We hired a room in the tavern of Colonel Gooding, and held regular meetings at night. The colonel was an American of the right color, but we kept our object secret, not even letting him into it.”
“If it isn’t too much trouble, Mr. Kinnison, we should like you to tell us all about what the club had to do with the tea-party, and how that affair was conducted,” said one of the young men, named Hand, filling the veteran’s plate.
“He can tell you much better than any one else,” remarked Mr. Pitts. “I can vouch for the bold part he took in it, and he has a better memory than the rest of us.”
“No flattery, Pitts,” returned Mr. Kinnison. “My memory ’s bad enough, and as for taking such a bold part in that tea-party, it’s all nonsense. If there was a leader, you was the man. But I’ll tell these young men all I know of the affair, and what the Lebanon Club had to do with it.”
“Take some of this beef, Mr. Brown?” interrupted Hand.
“Much obliged, sir, but beef is rather too tough for my gums,” replied the old fifer. “I’ll try something else.” Mr. Kinnison went on with his narrative.
“Well, the seventeen men of our club determined, whether we were aided or not, to destroy the tea which the East India Company had sent to Boston. The plan was soon formed, as it always is when men are determined to do a thing. We wanted no captain—each man could command for himself. We resolved to disguise ourselves in Mohawk dresses, and carry such arms as would enable us to sell our lives pretty dearly; we also pledged ourselves never to reveal the names of any of the party while there was danger in it. We expected to have a fight anyhow, and the first man who faltered was to be thrown overboard with the tea. We came to Boston and found the people ripe for the deed. A great meeting was to be held at the old South Meeting-house, and we concluded to wait and see what would be done there. We lodged at this tavern, and held our councils up in this room. Well, there was a tremendous meeting at the Old South, and most of us were there to help to keep up the excitement, and to push our plan if a chance appeared. Young Quincy made a speech that stirred the people, and made them ready for anything which would show their spirit. The people voted with one voice that the tea should not be landed. We saw how things were going, came back to the tavern, put on our Mohawk dresses, and returned to the meeting. Pitts succeeded in getting into the church just about dusk and raising the war-whoop. We answered outside. Then Pitts cried out, ’Boston harbor a tea-pot to-night!’
“Ay,” exclaimed Pitts, brandishing his knife above his head, “and ’hurra for Griffin’s Wharf!’”
“The crowd echoed Griffin’s Wharf,” continued Kinnison, “and hurried towards that place. Our men joined together, returned to the tavern, got our muskets and tomahawks, and collected about seventy men together, armed with axes and hatchets. Then we pushed for the wharf where the East Indiamen, loaded with the tea, were lying. Let me see!—The ships were called the Dartmouth, the—”
“The Eleanor, and the Beaver,” prompted Colson.
“Ay, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver,” continued Kinnison. “You see, my memory ’s weak. Well, when we reached the wharf, there was a crowd of people near it. It was a clear, moonlight night, and the British squadron was not more than a quarter of a mile distant—so, you see, there was a little risk. We didn’t halt long. Pitts led the way on board the Dartmouth, and we followed, musket and tomahawk in hand.
Pitts was rather disposed to deny the assertion that he was actually drunk; but Kinnison and Colson said it was a fact, and he, at length, admitted that he was considerably excited, perhaps beyond the command of his reason. The company laughed at this ‘getting around the stump,’ and one of the young men proposed that Pitts’ health should be drank in a glass of ale. The beverage was ordered and the health of the patriot drank with a hearty relish. The work of demolishing the eatables then went bravely on.
“Mr. Kinnison,” said Mr. Colson, “there’s one incident concerning that tea-party that has slipped your memory. As our procession moved from the wharf and passed the house of the tory Coffin, Admiral Montague raised the window, and said, ’Ah! boys, you have had a fine evening for your Indian caper; but mind, you’ve got to pay the fiddler yet!’ Pitts here shouted, ’Oh! never mind, never mind, squire! Just come out, if you please, and we’ll settle that bill in two minutes!’ The people shouted, and the admiral thought he had better put his head in in a hurry.”
“That’s true,” remarked Kinnison. “Well, you see, my memory is poor. Pitts would have mentioned it but for his modesty.”
“I recollect it well,” said Pitts. “If that tory Coffin had shown his face that night, I wouldn’t have given three cents for his life.”
“I think I would have had a slash at him,” observed Kinnison. “I felt as savage as a Mohawk on a war-path.”
“I don’t want to interrupt your eating, Brown and Hanson,” said Colson, “but couldn’t you stir us up a little with the drum and fife?”
“Ay,” added young Hand, who seemed to be the general mouth-piece of the younger portion of the company, “give us the air you played when you marched up from Griffin’s Wharf.”
“No objection,” replied Hanson. “Come, Brown, get out your whistle. There’s a little music left in it yet, I know.”
The old fife was soon produced, and the drum also; and moving their chairs a short distance from the table, the veteran musicians struck up the stirring air of the old Massachusetts Song of Liberty, once so popular throughout the colonies, and supposed to have been written by Mrs. Warren.
“Hurra!” exclaimed Hand, when the musicians had concluded. “Three cheers for the music and the musicians!” and three cheers were given quite lustily by the young men, and some of the old ones.
“I have a copy of that Song of Liberty,” said Hand. “Here it is, with the music. I’ll sing it and you must all join in the chorus.”
“Good!” said Kinnison, and the others echoed him. Hand then sang the following words, the young men joining in the chorus, and, occasionally, some of the veterans attempting to do likewise.
Come swallow your bumpers, ye tories,
That the Sons of fair Freedom are hamper’d once more;
But know that no cut-throats our spirits can tame,
Nor a host of oppressors shall smother the flame.
In freedom we’re born, and, like sons of the brave,
Will never surrender,
But swear to defend her,
And scorn to survive, if unable to save.
Our grandsires, bless’d heroes, we’ll give them a tear,
Nor sully their honors by stooping to fear;
Through deaths and through dangers their trophies they won,
We dare be their rivals, nor will be outdone.
In freedom we’re born, &c.
Let tyrants and minions presume to despise,
Encroach on our rights, and make freedom their prize;
The fruits of their rapine they never shall keep,
Though vengeance may nod, yet how short is her sleep!
In freedom we’re born, &c.
The tree which proud Haman
for Mordecai rear’d
Stands recorded, that virtue endanger’d is spared;
That rogues, whom no bounds and no laws can restrain.
Must be stripp’d of their honors and humbled again.
In freedom we’re born, &c.
Our wives and our babes, still
protected, shall know,
Those who dare to be free shall forever be so;
On these arms and these hearts they may safely rely,
For in freedom we’ll live, or like heroes we’ll die.
In freedom we’re born, &c.
Ye insolent tyrants! who wish
Ye minions, ye placemen, pimps, pensioners, all;
How short is your triumph, how feeble your trust!
Your honor must wither and nod to the dust.
In freedom we’re born, &c.
When oppress’d and approach’d,
our king we implore,
Still firmly persuaded our rights he’ll restore;
When our hearts beat to arms to defend a just right,
Our monarch rules there, and forbids us to fight.
In freedom we’re born, &c.
Not the glitter of arms, nor
the dread of a fray
Could make us submit to their claims for a day;
Withheld by affection, on Britons we call,
Prevent the fierce conflict which threatens your fall.
In freedom we’re born, &c.
All ages shall speak with
amaze and applause
Of the prudence we show in support of our cause;
Assured of our safety, a Brunswick still reigns,
Whose free loyal subjects are strangers to chains.
In freedom we’re born, &c.
Then join hand in hand, brave
To be free is to live, to be slaves is to fall;
Has the land such a dastard as scorns not a lord,
Who dreads not a fetter much more than a sword?
In freedom we’re born, &c.
The song was much applauded for its spirit, and some of the young men wanted to give three more cheers, but Hand said they were already making too much noise, and their enthusiasm cooled.
“Now,” observed Hand, “I should like to hear some account of how things went on during the war. We are all in the right mood for it.”
“I could talk enough to fill whole books about the war,” replied Kinnison; “but I want to hear Mr. Pitts and Mr. Colson, and the rest of the old men, spend a little breath for our amusement.”
“Mr. Kinnison was in the fight at Lexington, and all the principal battles in the Northern States during the war. I think he could interest you more than I,” said Colson.
“I’ll make an agreement with you,” remarked Kinnison. “If I tell you all I know of that skrimmage at Lexington, one of you must follow me.” The agreement was settled, and Kinnison commenced his narrative of how the first blow of the Revolution was given.
“You see, after that tea scape, and the quarrels with the red-coat troops in Boston, the people of Massachusetts, and, in fact, of nearly all New England, began to see that there was no way of upholding their rights but by war, and they accordingly began to arm and practise military tactics. The fife and drum were to be heard every day all around the country. In our village we collected a company of about thirty men. My father, and two brothers, Samuel and James, and myself, joined the company, and we used to parade and drill every day. A bold and knowing fellow, named Jonathan Williams, was our captain. Well, early in the fall of 1774, we heard the news that Gage had fortified Charlestown Neck, and sent some troops to seize the gunpowder at Cambridge. This roused our mettle, and we set into drilling and learning
“Dr. Warren stayed in Boston,” interrupted Pitts, “to keep the others informed of the movements of the red-coats.”
“Yes,” continued Kinnison; “the royals, as Deacon Slocum used to call ’em, didn’t hate Warren as much as they did John Hancock and the Adamses. Well, when Captain Williams heard of what General Gage was after, he told us we had better be prepared to march at a minute’s warning. Gage sent eight hundred troops, under Colonel Smith and Major Pitcorn, on his rascally errand. They started from Boston about nine o’clock on the night of the eighteenth of April, never thinking that our men knew anything about it—but we were awake.”
“Wait a bit,” said John Warner, one of the veterans who had not yet spoken. “I’ll tell you something. I was in Boston when the red-coats started, and knew that the country militia were ready to protect the stores. I was standing on the Common, talking to a few of my friends of my own politics, when I said rather loud, ’the British troops will miss their aim.’ ‘What aim?’ inquired a person behind me. ’The cannon at Concord,’ replied I as I turned to see who asked the question. The man was dressed in British uniform, and he walked away as I turned to look at him. One of my friends whispered to me that it was Lord Percy. Soon after, guards were set at every avenue, and nobody was allowed to leave the city.”
“I suppose Lord Percy went to Gage and told him what he had heard,” remarked Kinnison. “It must have galled him a little to find they were so closely watched. Well, Captain Williams was first, aroused by the sound of the bells ringing and cannons firing on the Lexington road, and he ordered us out to march and join our friends near that place. It was a moonlight night, and we marched rapidly. When we got about half-way to Lexington, we met a man who told us that the minute-men of Lexington were out, but he didn’t think there would be much of a fight. Captain Williams then thought it would be better for the company to march to Concord and help defend the stores, but said that a few of us might go to Lexington, and see now things went on. Accordingly, my brother Sam—a ripe fellow Sam was—and three others, and myself, were allowed to go to Lexington. We arrived there about half-past three in the morning, and found the bells ringing, cannons firing, and about a hundred minute-men drawn up in front of the meeting-house, waiting the approach of the enemy. We joined them, and placed ourselves under the orders of Captain Parker. Between four and five o’clock, we caught sight of the red-coats coming along the road, with Pitcorn at their head. I saw at once that we couldn’t make much show against so many regulars, and I believe all our men thought the same; but we stood firm, with our loaded muskets in our hands. The red-coated troops were drawn up near the meeting-house, just opposite to us, and loaded their muskets. For a little while, it seemed as if neither party wanted to begin, and that we both knew a long war hung on the first fire. At last, Major Pitcorn and his officers rode forward, waving their swords and shouting, ’disperse, you villains—you rebels! why don’t you disperse?’ As we didn’t stir, Pitcorn turned and ordered his troops to press forward and surround us.—Just then, a few scattering shots were fired at us, and we Lebanon men returned ’em at once. Then Pitcorn fired his pistol and gave the word ‘fire,’ and they did fire. Four of our men fell dead, and our Sam was wounded in the leg. We had to retreat, although I felt savage enough to fight ’em all myself; and so I fired my musket, and took hold of Sam, and helped him to get away with us. The red-coats continued to fire at us as we retreated, and some of our men paid ’em in the same coin. Two or three of the men were killed as they were getting over a stone fence, and Captain Parker, who wouldn’t run, was killed with the bayonet. I hurried Sam into a house near by, saw him safe in the cellar, where the owner of the house said he would attend to him, and then joined the other Lebanon men, who were running towards Concord.”
“You must tell us what took place at Concord, also,” said young Hand.
“Certainly,” replied Kinnison. “Now, that I’ve got into the thing, I wouldn’t mind telling you the whole war—but Concord will do for the present. Well, after a hard run, we reached Concord, and found the minute-men collecting from all quarters, and under the command of Colonel James Barrett. The women and children were hard at work removing the stores to a wood a considerable distance off. We joined Captain Williams, and told him there had been a skrimmage at Lexington, and that Sam was wounded. Colonel Barrett collected all the minute-men about the place, and drew ’em up in two battalions, on the hill in the centre of Concord. We had hardly formed, when we saw the red-coats coming up only about a quarter of a mile off. Our officers held a short council. Some were for making a bold stand where we were; but the greater number said it would be best to retreat till we were reinforced. Accordingly, the back-out advice was adopted, and we retreated over the North Bridge, about a mile from the common. I saw the royals come up and enter Concord in two divisions. Soon after, some of their companies took possession of the bridges, while the others hunted the stores. About sixty barrels of flour were broken open, a large quantity of cannon-balls thrown into the wells, the liberty-pole cut down, and the court-house set on fire. But the greater part of the stores were saved. In the meantime, the minute-men had come in from Acton, Carlisle, Weston, Littleton, and all around, and our force swelled to about four hundred men. I tell you, when the men saw the houses in Concord burning, they got a leetle excited—they did. Adjutant Hosmer made a speech to them, and they wanted to go right down and attack the red-coats at the North Bridge. Our company was very anxious to go, and it was settled that the attack should be made. Major John Buttrick took command, and ordered us to follow. There was about three hundred of us, the Acton company, under Captain Isaac Davis, taking the lead. We marched in double file, with trailed arms. I felt anxious to have a good fire at the rascals. They were on the west side of the river; but when they saw us coming, they crossed over and commenced pulling up the planks of the bridge. Major Buttrick called out to them to quit, and told us to hurry on to save the bridge. The red-coats formed for action, and, when we were near the bridge, fired a few shots at us. Captain Davis and Adjutant Hosmer were killed, and one Acton man wounded. Davis and Hosmer were both brave men, and they died like heroes. Seeing these men fall, Major Buttrick called out, ‘Fire, for God’s sake, men, fire!’ and we did pour a volley into the redcoats. I brought down one man, and he never got up again. We were getting ready to give them another, when the cowards retreated. We found three of the enemy had been killed, and the Acton company took several of the wounded prisoners. I saw a mere boy, with a hatchet in his hand, run up to a Britisher who wasn’t quite dead, and kill him with one blow. That I didn’t like, though the boy’s spirit and courage pleased me.”
“It was butchery,” said Pitts.
“So it was,” replied Kinnison; “and it caused a report to be spread that we killed and scalped all the men who fell into our hands. As I said, I didn’t like it; but we had no time for thinking. The enemy saw how fast our men were coming in from all quarters, for, by that time, the whole province was aroused, and they thought it would be best to think of getting back to Boston. Well, they started from Concord about twelve o’clock. As the main body marched along the road, the flanking parties tried to cover them, but it was of little use. We followed, and kept picking off men from their rear, while it seemed as if there was a minuteman behind every fence or tree by the road. We didn’t march under any regular orders, but each man tried to do all he could with his musket. I and two or three other Lebanon men kept together, and managed to pick off some men at every by-road. At one time, we just escaped the attack of a flanking party who killed some of the militia a short distance from us. We lay concealed in the bushes till they went by, and then followed them up as before. At two or three points, some companies of minute-men attacked the enemy in the open field, and killed a considerable number of them. When they reached Lexington they were almost worn out, and could not have marched much farther. Just then, we saw a large reinforcement of the red-coats, under Lord Percy, coming along the Roxbury road, and we had to hold off awhile. You ought to have seen those royals, how they lay stretched on the ground, with their tongues hanging out of their mouths. I got on the top of a stone barn, and saw Percy’s men form a hollow square about Smith’s troops, in order to protect them while they got a little breath. But they could not halt long. The woods were swarming with minute-men; and, if they waited, their retreat would have been cut off. Well, they started again, and our men followed as before, picking off men from the flanks and rear. At West Cambridge, we met Dr. Warren with a party of our men, and attacked the enemy boldly. But their bayonets kept us off, and we only roused ’em so much that they plundered and burnt some houses along the road, and butchered some women and children. Well, after a hard struggle, the enemy reached Charlestown, and then General Heath called us from the pursuit.”
“I’ve read,” remarked Mr. Hand, “that the British loss during that day was nearly three hundred—that is, including wounded and prisoners.”
“It amounted to that, at least,” replied Kinnison; “and our loss was less than one hundred men. I think the royals got a taste of our spirit that day.”
“Here’s a man can tell you something about the retreat of the enemy,” said Pitts, pointing to one of the old men, named Jonas Davenport.
“Yes,” said Jonas; “I know a little about it. I lived near Lexington. My house stood on the road. I joined the minute-men when I heard of the comin’ of the British troops, and left my wife and two children home, under the care of my father, then about sixty. I told ’em to keep as quiet as possible and they would be safe. Well, as I said, I joined the minute-men, and, when the rascals retreated from Concord, followed and did some execution with my firelock. But one of ’em shot me in the shoulder, and I couldn’t point my gun any more. I waited till the enemy had got a considerable distance on the road towards Boston, and then managed to reach my house—but such a house as I found it! The windows were broken in, the doors torn off their hinges, and the furniture broken and thrown about in heaps. I called for my father and wife, but received no reply. I crawled up stairs, for I was nearly exhausted from loss of blood, and there I found my father and oldest child stretched on the floor dead. The old man had his gun still clenched in his hand, and he had, no doubt, done the enemy some damage with it. But his face was beaten in, and he had two or three bayonet stabs in his breast. The little boy had been shot through the head. I was a pretty tough-hearted man, but I fainted at the sight; and, when I came to myself, I found my wife and the youngest child bending over me crying. How they did hug and kiss me when they saw me revive! I think I did as much to them, for I never expected to see them alive. My wife told me that the old man would fire at the British as they were passing the house, and some of them stopped, broke open the doors, and knocked the things about. The old man and the little boy ran up stairs, while my wife and the other child ran from the house towards a neighbor’s. As she ran away, she heard the muskets fired, but couldn’t stop, as she thought the rascals were after her. She had returned as soon as she knew they were far on the road. I didn’t grieve long; but sent her for the doctor at Lexington to dress my wound. Boys, boys, I’ve made many a red-coat pay for the lives of that old man and child. I hated them enough before, but that day’s work made me all gall!” The memory of gratified revenge lighted up the old man’s eyes as he spoke. He was a man of stern spirit, and no thought that such revenge was wrong ever crossed his mind.
“I can tell you folks of something more about that retreat from Concord,” continued Davenport. “The story is generally known up around the country here, but some of you may not have heard it. It’s about old Hezekiah Wyman, who gained the name of ‘Death on the pale horse.’”
“I heard the story, and saw the old man on his white horse,” remarked Kinnison; “but it will interest the young men, no doubt—so drive on.”
[Illustration: Hezekiah Wyman.]
“Well, you see,” began Davenport, “the window of old Hezekiah Wyman’s house looked out on the ground where the British shot our men at Lexington. The old man saw the whole affair, and it made him so savage that he vowed to revenge his countrymen if he fell in doing it.
“‘Wife,’ said he, ’is there not an old gun-barrel somewhere in the garret.’
“‘I believe there was,’ said she; ‘but pray what do you want with it?’
“‘I should like to see if it is fit for service,’ replied he. ’If I am not mistaken, it is good enough to drill a hole through a rig’lar.’
“’Mercy on me, husband! are you going mad? An old man like you—sixty years last November—to talk of going to war! I should think you had seen enough of fighting the British already. There lies poor Captain Roe and his men bleeding on the grass before your eyes. What could you do with a gun?’
“The old man made no reply, but ascended the stairs, and soon returned with a rusty barrel in his hands. In spite of his wife’s incessant din, he went to his shop, made a stock for it, and put it in complete order for use. He then saddled a strong white horse, and mounted him. He gave the steed the rein, and directed his course toward Concord. He met the British troops returning, and was not long in perceiving that there was a wasp’s nest about their ears. He dashed so closely upon the flank of the enemy that his horse’s neck was drenched with the spouting blood of the wounded soldiers. Then reining back his snorting steed to reload, he dealt a second death upon the ranks with his never-failing bullet. The tall, gaunt form of the assailant, his grey locks floating on the breeze, and the color of his steed, soon distinguished him from the other Americans, and the regulars gave him the name of ’Death on the pale horse.’ A dozen bullets whizzed by his head, when he made the first assault, but, undismayed, the old patriot continued to prance his gay steed over the heads of the foot-soldiers—to do his own business faithfully, in the belief that, because others did wrong by firing at him, it would be no excuse for him to do wrong by sparing the hireling bullies of a tyrannical government. At length, a vigorous charge of the bayonet drove the old man, and the party with which he was acting, far from the main body of the British. Hezekiah was also out of ammunition, and was compelled to pick up some on the road, before he could return to the charge. He then came on again and picked off an officer, by sending a slug through his royal brains, before he was again driven off. But ever and anon, through the smoke that curled about the flanks of the detachment, could be seen the white horse of the veteran for a moment—the report of his piece was heard, and the sacred person of one of his majesty’s faithful subjects was sure to measure his length on rebel ground. Thus did Hezekiah and his neighbors continue to harass the retreating foe, until the Earl Percy appeared with a thousand fresh troops from Boston. The two detachments of the British were now two thousand strong, and they kept off the Americans with their artillery while they took a hasty meal. No sooner had they again commenced their march, than the powerful white horse was seen careering at full speed over the hills, with the dauntless old yankee on his back.
“‘Ha!’ cried the soldiers, ’there comes that old fellow again, on the white horse! Look out for yourselves, for one of us has got to die, in spite of fate.’ And one of them did die, for Hezekiah’s aim was true, and his principles of economy would not admit of his wasting powder or ball. Throughout the whole of that bloody road between Lexington and Cambridge, the fatal approaches of the white horse and his rider were dreaded by the trained troops of Britain, and every wound inflicted by Hezekiah needed no repeating. But on reaching Cambridge, the regulars, greatly to their comfort, missed the old man and his horse. They comforted themselves by the conjecture that he had, at length, paid the forfeit of his temerity, and that his steed had gone home with a bloody bridle and an empty saddle. Not so.—Hezekiah had only lingered for a moment to aid in a plot which had been laid by Amni Cutter, for taking the baggage-waggons and their guards. Amni had planted about fifty old rusty muskets under a stone wall, with their muzzles directed toward the road. As the waggons arrived opposite this battery, the muskets were discharged, and eight horses, together with some soldiers, were sent out of existence. The party of soldiers who had the baggage in charge ran to a pond, and, plunging their muskets into the water, surrendered themselves to an old woman, called Mother Barberick, who was at that time digging roots in an adjacent field. A party of Americans recaptured the gallant Englishmen from Mother Barberick, and placed them in safe keeping. The captives were exceedingly astonished at the suddenness of the attack, and declared that the yankees would rise up like musketoes out of a marsh, and kill them. This chef d’oeuvre having been concluded, the harassed soldiers were again amazed by the appearance of Hezekiah, whose white horse was conspicuous among the now countless assailants that sprang from every hill and ringing dale, copse and wood, through which the bleeding regiments, like wounded snakes, held their toilsome way. His fatal aim was taken, and a soldier fell at every report of his piece. Even after the worried troops had entered Charlestown, there was no escape for them from the deadly bullets of the restless veteran. The appalling white horse would suddenly and unexpectedly dash out from a brake, or from behind a rock, and the whizzing of his bullet was the precursor of death. He followed the enemy to their very boats; and then, turning his horse’s head, returned unharmed to his household.
“‘Where have you been, husband?’
“‘Picking cherries,’ replied Hezekiah—but he forgot to say that he had first make cherries of the red-coats, by putting the pits into them.”
“That old man was sure death,” remarked Kinnison. “I knew the old fellow well. He had the name of being one of the best shots around that part of the country. I should never want to be within his range.”
“The old man immortalized himself,” said Hand.
“It served the ’tarnal rascals right,” observed Hanson. “They only reaped what they had sown. War’s a horrible matter, altogether, and I don’t like it much; but I like to see it done up in that old man’s style, if it is done at all.”
“I should like to have seen that royal officer that said he could march through our country with three regiments,” said Kinnison. “If he was with Smith and Pitcorn that day, he saw there was a little of the bulldog spirit in the Yankees.”
“I think,” observed Pitts, “we might have that old, heart-firing, arm-moving tune called Yankee Doodle. Come, Brown, pipe.”
“Ay,” replied Brown, “that tune came out of this here fife naturally—almost without my blowing it. For some time, I couldn’t work anything else out of it.”
“Come, pipe and drum the old tune once more,” cried Colson; and it was piped and drummed by Brown and Hanson in the real old continental style. The effect on the company was electric. Knives, and forks, and feet, kept time to the well-known music. Some of the old men could scarcely restrain themselves from attempting a cheer, and the young men felt themselves stirred by a feeling of patriotism they had scarcely known before. The spirit of 1775 dwelt in the music, and, as the quick notes started from fife and drum, visions of farmers leaving the plough in the furrow and shouldering the rusty and unbayoneted firelock—of citizens leaving their business and homes to grasp the sword and gun—of stout-hearted, strong-armed minute-men, untrained to war’s manoeuvres, marching and battling with the well-disciplined, war-schooled, and haughty Britons, made confident by a more than Roman career of victory—and of the glorious fight at Breed’s Hill—came to the minds of all present. Three cheers were given, when the musicians had concluded, for the tune itself, and three more for those who had played it.
“More ale,” called out Hand, and more ale was brought; and then Hand proposed as a toast—“The memory of the men who fell on the 19th of April, 1775.” This was drank standing, and a short pause ensued.
“Now,” said Kinnison, “I expect that some of you men who know something about them times shall keep your promise of following my story.”
“I’ll tell you a story,” replied Brown, the fifer. “P’raps some of you won’t swallow it; but it’s all fact, and that you’ll find if you choose to hunt for the papers. It’s chiefly about me and my fife, and Hanson and his drum.”
“Pipe away, Brown,” said Kinnison.
“Well, you see,” began Brown, “Hanson and I were drummer and fifer in Colonel Brooks’ regiment, at Saratoga, and we were in the battle of Stillwater, fought on the nineteenth of September. I’m not going to ‘spin a yarn,’ as the sailors say, in the way of an account of that battle, for that has been said and sung often enough. It is sufficient for me to say, that it was the hardest
“Hold on, Brown,” interrupted Kinnison. “Wasn’t it a dark night?”
“Yes,” replied Brown; “but we saw where the fife lay, by the quick flashes of the guns. Didn’t we, Hanson?”
“Yes; it’s a fact,” replied the drummer; “and when we returned, I found a couple of balls had passed through the heads of my drum.”
“I told you I thought you wouldn’t swallow it,” observed Brown; “but here’s the fife, and here’s the mark where the ball passed through my hand.” Brown exhibited the scar, and doubt seemed to be set at rest. Kinnison, however, shook his head, as if unsatisfied.
“There wasn’t a great deal in the mere going after the fife at such a time,” continued the fifer, “but I thought I’d mention it, to give you an idea of Hanson’s spirit.”
“Very well,” remarked Hand, “we are satisfied now that both Mr. Brown and Mr. Hanson are really men of spirit.”
“Mr. Davenport,” said one of the young men, “won’t you entertain us with an account of something you saw or joined in, or did yourself, during the war?”
“Were any of you at Quebec, with Arnold and Montgomery?” inquired one of the veterans who had been an attentive and silent listener to the preceding narratives.
“I accompanied Colonel Arnold on the expedition up the Kennebec,” replied Davenport.
“Then tell us about it, won’t you?” eagerly exclaimed one of the young men.
“Ay, Davenport, tell us about it,” added Kinnison. “I’ve never heard anything I could depend on about that march through the wilderness. Old Joe Weston tried to give me an account of it; but his memory was very weak, and he hadn’t the knack of talking so that a person could understand him.”
“Well, you see,” began Davenport, “I was livin’ up here on the Lexington road, when I hear that General Washington had planned an expedition to Canada by way of the Kennebec and the wilderness north of it, and that Colonel Arnold had been appointed to command the troops who were to undertake it. I was preparing to join the army at Cambridge; but I thought that Arnold’s expedition would suit me better than staying in camp around Boston. So I furnished myself with many little knick-nacks, shouldered my musket, and started off to offer my services. They placed me in one of the companies of Major Bigelow’s battalion. I believe there was about eleven hundred men, in all, under Arnold’s command, who marched from Cambridge to Newburyport. There we embarked on board of eleven transports, and, on the nineteenth of September, sailed for the Kennebec. I must confess, I didn’t like the idea of starting so late in the year, because I knew we’d meet with some of the coldest kind of weather before we reached Canada; but I had to be satisfied. At the end of two days, we had entered the Kennebec and reached the town of Gardiner. The only accident we had met with was the grounding of two of our transports; but we got them off without much difficulty. I forgot to mention, however, that two hundred carpenters had been sent up the river, before we started from Cambridge, with orders to build two hundred batteaux at Pittston, opposite Gardiner. Well, when we arrived at that place, we found the batteaux ready, and immediately transferred our baggage and provisions to them, and pushed up the river to Fort Western. At that place our real work was to commence. Colonel Arnold knew a great deal about the route, and he had undertaken it because he knew what he had to encounter, and how much glory he would win if he succeeded; but we men, who were to work and suffer most, knew nothing about the route; except that it was through a wilderness where few white men had set foot. Before the army started from Fort Western, two small parties were sent forward to survey and reconnoitre the route as far as Lake Megantic and the Dead River. Next, the army began to move in four divisions. Morgan and his riflemen went first; next day, Green and Bigelow, with three companies; next day, Meigs, with four companies; and the next day, Colonel Enos, with the three other companies. You see, the divisions started a day apart, so as to prevent any difficulty in passing rapids and falls. Colonel Arnold waited to see all the troops embarked, and then passed the whole line till he overtook Morgan. On the fourth day after our party—that is, Green and Bigelow’s—started from Fort Western, we arrived at Norridgewock Falls. You may recollect, there used to be a tribe of Indians called the Norridgewocks, who had a village near these falls. I saw the plain where the village stood, and the ruins of the church which was destroyed by Captain Moulton during the war with the tribe. At the falls, all the batteaux had to be taken out
“What sort of a looking man was Arnold at that time?” inquired Hand.
“He was then about thirty-five years old,” replied Davenport; “of the middle size, and rather stout, his face was rather handsome; but there was an iron look about his mouth that many a man would not like; his eyes were of a dark grey, and full of fire and restlessness. He seemed never to be satisfied unless he was moving about and doing something.”
“Exactly as I knew him,” remarked Kinnison.
“Well,” said Davenport, “I’ll return to my story. At the end of seven days we were ready to move on; and we soon arrived at the Carratunc Falls, where there was another portage. We got round that, however, without much difficulty. The banks were more level and the road not so long; but the work afterwards was tough. The stream was so rapid that the men were compelled to wade and push the batteaux against the current. There was a little grumbling among us, and quite a number of the men deserted. Two days after reaching the Carratunc Falls, we came to the Great Carrying Place. There work was to begin to which all our other work was play. The Great Carrying Place extended from the Kennebec to the Dead River, about fifteen miles, and on the road were three small ponds. Before we took our batteaux out of the water of the Kennebec, we built a block-house on its banks, as a depository for provisions, so as to secure a supply in case of retreat.”
“I thought you said you had no extra quantity of provisions,” said Pitts.
“I did,” replied Davenport. “We did not intend to leave any of our provisions at the block-house. It was built as a repository for supplies ordered up from Norridgewock. Well, we took the boats out of the water, and took most of the baggage and provisions out of the boats, and toiled up a steep, rocky road for more than three miles to the first pond. There the boats were put into the water, and we had a short rest. We caught plenty of fresh salmon-trout in the pond, and Colonel Arnold ordered two oxen to be killed and divided among us, as a sort of treat. At the second portage we built another block-house for the sick. At that time I felt sick and worn out myself, but I couldn’t think of stopping, so I kept my sufferings hidden as much as I could from everybody but O’Brien, who did all he could to help me. After crossing the last pond, we had several marshes and deep ravines to cross. Sometimes we had to wade up to the knees in mud and water, carrying heavy bundles of baggage on our shoulders, and in constant danger of sinking into deep mud holes. Ha! ha! I recollect, O’Brien, Johnson and myself were toiling along through one of the marshes, Johnson a short distance behind, when O’Brien and I heard a yell and a cry of ‘Och, murther!’ The yell, I thought might have come from a savage, but the ‘Och, murther!’ I knew never could. O’Brien’s quick eye soon discovered what was the cause of it, and I followed him back. There we found Johnson, up to his neck in mud and water, yelling for help to get out of the bloody dirt. I was the first to grasp his hand, but in pulling, my foot slipped, and I fell in alongside of Johnson. O’Brien was more careful; he got on the baggage that Johnson and I had thrown down, and by great exertions, dragged us both out; but in such a condition—covered with mud from head to foot. Of course, O’Brien and I laid it all on Johnson’s blundering. O’Brien said he believed Johnson’s birth was a blunder of nature, she had regretted ever since; and that if he fell into a mudhole again, he should stick there. Johnson admitted that he was thinking of home when he fell into the dirty place; he was just kissing his darlin’ Mary when his foot slipped. Well, we shouldered our wet baggage, and waded on to the rest of the party, and soon after, we reached Dead River. This river seemed to have a smooth current, broken by two or three little falls, and we thought we could have quite an easy progress. The boats were easily pushed along, and the men got the rest they wanted. As we were going slowly along the river, we discovered a high mountain, the summit of which appeared to be whitened with snow. Near the base of the mountain we found Arnold, with the two first divisions, encamped. We were all very glad to see a camp once more and enjoyed it, I tell you, as much as a good meal after a hard day’s work. On the day after the arrival of our party,
“People have different opinions of that man’s conduct,” said Kinnison. “For my part, I think he was a poor-spirited man, if not a coward.”
“I think so too,” said Davenport. “Although his court-martial acquitted him, General Washington, and other officers showed such dissatisfaction, that he resigned his commission.”
“Never mind the shirk,” said Pitts: “tell us how the men of the right grit made out.”
“Well,” said Davenport, “after Colonel Arnold had arranged his plans, he hurried forwards with sixty men, intending to proceed as soon as possible to the inhabitants on the Chaudiere and send back provisions to the main body. When we started again, the rain had changed to snow, which fell two inches deep. Ice formed on the surface of the water through which we were forced to wade and drag the boats. You may talk about suffering at Valley Forge, but I tell you it was no kind of circumstance to what we men endured. We were cold, hungry and tired all the time, and yet we couldn’t rest, for fear of starvation in the wilderness. I always think my living through it all was owing to O’Brien’s care and his trying to keep me in good spirits. Poor fellow! he met his death at Quebec. I’ll never forget him. The man who could forget such service at such a time would be a blot upon the name of humanity.” Davenport paused, as if indulging mournful memory, and then proceeded. “Near the source of the Dead River, we had to pass through a string of small lakes, choked with drift-wood and rocks. So it seemed as if we met greater difficulty at every step of our advance. At last we reached the four-mile carrying place, from the Dead River to the stream that leads into Lake Megantic. We took the batteaux out of the water and dragged and carried them over the highlands till we reached the little stream, which conducted us by a very crooked course into Lake Megantic. I began to think our toils and dangers would soon be over, and of course worked with a light heart. At the Lake, we found Lieutenant Steel and the exploring party which had been sent forward to explore and clear the path at the portages. The night after our party entered the Lake, we encamped on the eastern shore, where a large Indian wigwam that appeared as if it had been used for a council, served to shelter us from the cold winds. Colonel Arnold ordered Hanchet and fifty men to march by land along the shore of Chaudiere River, and he, himself, embarked with Captain Oswald, Lieutenants Steel and Church and thirteen men, determined to proceed as soon as possible to the French inhabitants, and send back provisions to the army. This was the only plan to save the men from starvation. You see the Chaudiere is a rough rapid river, the water in some places boiling and foaming over a rocky bottom. The baggage had to be lashed to the boats. Arnold’s party fell among the rapids. Three of the boats were overset, dashed to pieces against the rocks and their contents swallowed up by the waves. Six men struggled for some time in the water, but were saved. That accident turned out to be a lucky one, for no sooner had the men dried their clothes and re-embarked, than one of them, who had gone forward, cried out ‘a fall ahead,’ and thus the whole party was saved from destruction. Soon after we entered the Chaudiere
“I wonder how those men would have acted if they had met such a loaded table as this in the woods,” said Hand.
“Acted!” said Davenport. “Like wolves, whose bellies had been pinched with hunger for a week. You may judge from what I tell you. As we were marching slowly through the woods, a set of ragged skeletons, the foremost of the party caught sight of some Canadians and Indians coming towards us, with great packages and bundles which we knew were the provisions sent by Colonel Arnold. There was a perfect yell of joy, and the whole party rushed towards them. But Major Bigelow and his officers kept the men off from the food, at the sword’s point. The food was then distributed in very small quantities to each man. How it disappeared! I venture to say that ten minutes after the men received their shares, they had devoured them all. The Canadians and Indians were ordered to keep enough provisions for the other troops, who were fed as they came up. At last we caught sight of the French settlement of Sertigan, where Colonel Arnold had arrived some days before. The people came out to receive us; but they wondered at us as if we were more than men. They offered us plenty of food and clothing, and took care of the sick. Within four or five days, the whole army was collected by small parties at Sertigan.”
“What was the number of the troops who arrived safe?” enquired Pitts.
“About five hundred and fifty men, I suppose,” replied Davenport. “The rest had either gone back with Enos, deserted, or been left at the block-house, sick.”
“How long did the expedition occupy?” enquired Hand.
“About two months,” replied Davenport. “For thirty-two days we traversed a dreary wilderness without meeting a human being.”
“It was a great feat, and the men who performed it are entitled to high renown,” said Hand.
“Many of them afterwards became distinguished,” said Davenport. “Morgan, Dearborn, Meigs, Febiger, Greene and others were known to the enemy in after years.”
Mr. Hand now proposed three cheers for the men of Arnold’s expedition and three more for Mr. Davenport, both of which propositions were acted upon in the heartiest manner by the young men. Mr. Hand then said he had a song to sing to the tune of “Ye Mariners of England.” It was not his own composition; he had found it in print, and knowing the music, thought it would be acceptable. Being pressed to sing, he complied, singing the following words:—
Ye freemen of Columbia,
Who guard our native coast,
Whose fathers won your liberty,
Your country’s pride and boast;
Your glorious standard rear again,
To match your ancient foe,
As she roars on your shores,
Where the stormy tempests blow;
As she prowls for prey on every shore,
Where the stormy tempests blow.
The spirits of your fathers
Shall hover o’er each plain,
Where in their injured country’s cause
The immortal brave were slain!
Where bold Montgomery fearless fell,
Where carnage strew’d the field,
In your might shall you fight,
And force the foe to yield;
And on the heights of Abraham
Your country’s vengeance wield.
Columbia fears no enemy
That ploughs the briny main;
Her home a mighty continent,
Its soil her rich domain!
To avenge our much-loved country’s wrongs,
To the field her sons shall fly,
While alarms sound to arms,
We’ll conquer or we’ll die.
When Britain’s tears may flow in vain,
As low her legions lie!
Columbia’s eagle standard
Triumphant then shall tower,
Till from the land the foe depart,
Driven by its gallant power.
Then, then, ye patriot warriors!
Our song and feast shall flow,
And no more, on our shore,
Shall war’s dread tempests blow;
But the breeze of peace shall gently breathe,
Like the winds that murmur low.
The song was well received by the company, who were not disposed to be critical. The drum and fife were then brought into play, Brown and Hanson, without entreaty, striking up, “Come out, ye Continentallers.” This rollicking tune called up such laughable associations, that one of the young men proposed that it should be sung. No one knew it entire, except Brown, the fifer, who had been the musician of his mess as well as of the company, and Brown complied with the repeated entreaties of the young men, singing the following ludicrous words in a cracked and weak remnant of a voice.
Come out, ye continentallers!
We’re going for to go
To fight the red-coat enemy,
Who’re plaguy “cute,” you know.
Now, shoulder whoop!—eyes
right and dress—
Front!—Davis, wipe your nose—
Port whoop!—that’s slick—now, carry whoop!
Mike Jones, turn out your toes.
your sort, my boys:
Now, quick time!—march!—that’s right;
Just so we’d poke the enemy,
If they were but in sight.
whoop!—stop laughing, Nick—
By platoons, wheel!—halt—dress!
Hold up your muzzles on the left;
No talking, more or less.
Bill Sneezer, keep your canteen
We’re going for to travel;
“Captain, I wants to halt a bit,
My shoe is full of gravel.”
Ho—strike up music—for’ard
Now point your toes, Bob Rogers;
See! yonder are the red-coat men—
Let fly upon ’em, sogers.
This song was written in the early part of the revolutionary war to burlesque the meeting of the country militia, and afterwards became very popular. Although Brown had not much voice, he managed to give a correct and exceedingly laughable expression to the old song.
“That may be all true enough of some of the country militia,” said Robinson, “but in our village, there was no such foolery. Regulars—and British ones at that—couldn’t have gone through a better training, or a better rill. One of the British officers at Saratoga said that the New England militia were equal to regulars; and as far as marching up to cannons’ mouths and driving back dragoons goes, I think they were, myself. You see, for a long time previous to the battle of Lexington, we had trainings all around the country, and some of our officers were men who had seen some hard service in the old French War. Why, just look at the men that Ethan Allen and Arnold led against Ticonderoga, as strong a place as was ever fortified in the northern states. There was not a bolder or better conducted enterprise in the whole war.”
“Were either of you in the expedition against Ticonderoga?” enquired Hand, wishing to learn the particulars of that affair.
“Ay,” replied a little old man, who had quit eating and fallen asleep during Davenport’s narrative, and had only wakened up at the sound of the drum and fife, playing “Come out, ye Continentallers.” “I was with Ethan Allen. I was one of the Green Mountain Boys, that did the thing.”
“Then perhaps you can tell us something about it,” said Kinnison, “and about the quarrel between Allen and Arnold. I never heard the facts of the case, but from what I know of the two men, I feel sure Arnold was wrong.”
“To be sure he was,” said old Timothy Ransom. “To be sure he was. But I’ll tell you all I know about the matter. I was at work on my farm when I heard of the battle of Lexington. I belonged to a regiment of militia that used to meet for drill on a neighbouring farm. Ethan Allen was the Colonel, and he was fit to be the leader anywhere. He would lead where any would follow, was as honest a man as ever breathed, and had a great share of strong sense. As soon as Colonel Allen heard that the war had really begun, he determined to seize Ticonderoga, where a great quantity of munitions of war were stored. I forgot to tell you, however, that Allen was commissioned a colonel by the government of Vermont. He collected our boys at his residence, and marched to Bennington, where he expected to be joined by more volunteers. At Bennington we met Colonel Easton, with some men from his regiment of militia. Our party then amounted to two hundred and seventy men; and, though I was one among ’em, I may be allowed to say, that a more daring, and a tougher set of men were never assembled. About dusk on the 7th of May, we reached Castleton—that’s about fourteen miles east of Skenesborough. There we were to make our final arrangements. A council of war was held. Colonel Allen was appointed commander of the expedition, Colonel Easton second in command, and Seth Warner, third. Allen, with the main force, was to march to Shoreham, opposite Ticonderoga, Captain Herrick with thirty men was to push up to Skenesborough, and capture the young Major Skene, confine his people, and seizing all the boats he could find there, hasten to join Allen at Shoreham; and Captain Douglas was to proceed to Panton, beyond Crown Point, and secure all the boats that should fall in his way. On the 9th of May, Arnold arrived at Castleton, with a few officers and men, and after introducing himself to our officers, showed a commission from the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, by which he claimed the supreme command. But our boys wouldn’t hear anything of the kind. We all said that Ethan Allen was our leader, and if he had not the command, we would march back to our homes. So Colonel Arnold found that he would have to join us without a command, or go back where he came from. He chose to join as a mere volunteer, smothering his claim till another occasion. On the same day on which Colonel Arnold arrived, Mr. Phelps, one of the Connecticut Committee who were with us, disguised himself as a countryman who wanted to be shaved, and visited Ticonderoga, to spy into the condition of the garrison. He found that the walls of the old fort were broken down, and that the small garrison were careless of all discipline. As soon as Colonel Allen was informed of this state of things, he resolved to move on at once. We marched to the shore of the lake, opposite Ticonderoga, during the night of the 9th of May. Allen had secured a guide in a boy named Nathan Beman, who was fully acquainted
“I can’t agree with you, Ransom,” said Jonas Davenport. “I think he was a selfish man in general; but I know he could be generous sometimes. In that expedition to Canada, he helped his men whenever he could in the smallest matters, when many other commanders would have minded their own comfort alone. Let us have justice done to every man. I never liked Arnold as a man; but I think he was as good a soldier and general as I ever knew.”
“Certainly as good a soldier,” said Kinnison.
“His generalship,” said Pitts, “never had much play. As far as he had the chance, he proved that he had the skill and knowledge for planning military enterprises.”
“I preferred old Putnam to Arnold,” said John Warner. “He was quite as daring, and a much better-hearted man.”
“Ay, a braver man than General Putnam never drew a blade,” said Kinnison. “That man’s adventures would make as interestin’ a book as you’d wish to read.”
“I should like to hear some of them,” said Hand.
“You’ve heard of his great feat at Horseneck, I suppose,” said Jonas Davenport.
“Yes,” replied Hand, “and often wondered at it.”
“I happened to be on the spot and see that affair,” said old John Warner. “I was on a visit to a friend at a farm near Horseneck, when the news of Governor Tryon’s approach, with a large force, reached me. I hadn’t joined the regular army, for a great many reasons; but I always took advantage of an opportunity to serve the right side. General Putnam’s picket of one hundred and fifty men, with two field-pieces, was the only force in that neighbourhood; but I knew Old Put. would have a shot at the enemy, no matter how few men he had with him. So I shouldered my firelock and went and offered my services. General Putnam planted his cannon on the high ground near the meeting-house, and awaited the approach of the enemy. Directly, we saw Tryon, with a great force of regulars, coming along the road. Our cannon blazed away at them and checked their advance for a short time. But pretty soon, we saw the dragoons and infantry preparing to make a charge, and Old Put. knew there wouldn’t be much chance of our withstanding the shock. So he ordered us to retire into the swamp just back of our position, where we would be safe from dragoons, at least, and where we would have an even chance with the infantry. I expected to see the general follow us; but he turned his horse towards the stone steps that led down the rocks from the meeting-house. As we fell back I had time to observe him. When he reached the head of the steps, the horse stopped as if afraid of the attempt. But Old Putnam knew there was no time to lose, as the dragoons were nearly upon him. So he struck his spurs into the horse’s sides, and they plunged down the steps together. I lost sight of the horse and rider just then; but saw the red-coat dragoons stop short at the head of the precipice, and fire their pistols after them. Not one among the red-coats dared to follow, and ten chances to one if they had attempted it, they would have broken their necks; for the precipice was so high and steep as to have one hundred steps cut in it. Before they could get round the brow of the height by the ordinary road, the General was far beyond their reach. Tryon didn’t attempt to follow us into the swamp, but soon after commenced his retreat. We fell back to Stamford, where we met the General with some militia he had collected, and marched back in search of Tryon. The red-coats had completed their work and were out of our reach.”
“That ride was but one of a whole life of such deeds,” said Kinnison. “There never was a man who dared more than Putnam. In the old French War, he astonished the boldest savages and rangers by his feats, often throwing himself into the arms of death, as it were, and escaping without any serious hurt.”
“It was a great pity,” said Colson, “that Putnam was not a younger man when the revolutionary war broke out. He had spent his best years in fighting for the old country, against the French and Indians.”
“Perhaps it was better as it was,” said Davenport. “I think there were brave men enough in our army.” It was clear that Davenport was disposed to argue the respective merits of the generals of the revolution. Hand thought argument might check the flow of good-feeling, and therefore suggested that they should have more drum and fife music. Brown and Hanson agreed, and upon request struck up the “White Cockade.” This was spirit-stirring, and called forth much applause. Another song was called for, and one of the young men sang the following song, written for the occasion, but which his modesty had hitherto held back. The music was that of “Rule, Brittania!”
When our great sires this
A shelter from tyrannic wrong!
Led on by heaven’s Almighty Lord,
They sung—and acted well the song,
Rise united! dare be freed!
Our sons shall vindicate the deed.
In vain the region they would
Was distant, dreary, undisclosed;
In vain the Atlantic roar’d between;
And hosts of savages opposed;
They rush’d undaunted, Heaven decreed
Their sons should vindicate the deed.
’Twas Freedom led the
And manly fortitude to bear;
They toil’d, they vanquished I such high worth
Is always Heaven’s peculiar care.
Their great example still inspires,
Nor dare we act beneath our sires.
’Tis ours undaunted
The dear-bought, rich inheritance;
And spite of each invading hand,
We’ll fight, bleed, die, in its defence!
Pursue our fathers’ paths of fame,
And emulate their glorious flame.
As the proud oak inglorious
Till storms and thunder root it fast,
So stood our new unpractised bands,
Till Britain roar’d her stormy blast;
Then, see, they vanquish’d! fierce led on
By Freedom and great Washington.
The song had very little poetry and less music in it; but patriotism applauded its spirit. Mr. Hand again directed the conversation in such a manner as to glean as much information from the veteran patriots as possible, and enquired if any of them had seen the hero of Bennington—General John Stark.
“Oh! yes,” replied Timothy Ransom, “There was very few of the right-side-up men in Vermont, that I didn’t see and know too. See General Stark! I guess I did; and seen a leetle of him at Bennington, too.”
“I thought General Stark belonged to New Hampshire,” said Hand.
“So he did,” replied Ransom. “The country that now makes the states of Varmount and New Hampshire was then called the New Hampshire Grants, and was governed by one assembly and one council.”
“What sort of a looking man was Stark?” enquired Pitts.
“Well, he weren’t much to look at,” said Ransom. “He was about the middle height, and strongly built. He had a firm look about the face, and you might have been sure of his doing what he said he would do, just from hearing him talk. Blunt and downright, he was—and didn’t stop to pick words. He had seen a tougher life than any of his neighbours—fighting as a ranger and regular soldier—and you might suppose there was no nice affectation in his dress and manners like you find in some of our generals. He was a man made for service.”
“That’s the man exactly as I saw him at Saratoga,” said Kinnison.
“Did you say you was with General Stark, at Bennington?” enquired Hand.
“Ay, and did my share of that day’s work,” replied Ransom. “That was a battle, my boys. If you had seen the way that the militia walked up to the enemy’s cannon, and fought with regulars, you’d have said at once, there was no use of Great Britain trying to subdue such men.”
“Not having had the pleasure of seeing it,” replied Hand, “I should like to hear what you saw of it. Tell us about the affair, and how you won such a victory.”
“You shall hear about the battle of Bennington,” said Ransom. “At the time Burgoyne was advancing towards the Hudson, the people of Massachusetts and the New Hampshire Grants were alarmed, and feared that Burgoyne would march towards Boston. The whole frontier was uncovered. But the people began to feel the necessity of taking measures to check the advance of the enemy. General Stark was then at home, angry with Congress on account of his rank not being equal to his services. He had resigned his commission in the regular army. I was then at my farm, having gone home after serving with Colonel Allen. I expected to be called into service again, but didn’t intend to fight under any other orders than those of John Stark; because I knew the man had been badly treated, and I and most of the militia felt for him. The New Hampshire Assembly met, and began to adopt measures for the defence of the country. The militia was formed into two brigades. General Whipple was appointed to command the first, and General Stark the second. Stark refused to accept the appointment. But finding that his name was a host, he was induced to yield his private griefs for the public good. He said he would assume the command of the troops, if he was not desired to join the main army, and was made accountable to no authority but that of New Hampshire. His conditions were accepted, and he went to Charlestown to meet the Committee of Safety. As soon as I heard that General Stark was in the field, I hurried off to Charlestown to join the militia, I knew would assemble there. I found the men were coming in from all directions, and all were in high spirits. Stark sent us off to Manchester, twenty miles from Bennington, to join
“The battle should have been all skirmishes,” said Kinnison. “You might have cut the enemy up piece-meal.”
“We tried it next day,” said Ransom. “It was rainy, and Stark thought it best not to attempt anything more than skirmishing. Our light parties appeared in the woods on every side of the enemy, and picked off the men so fast that the Indians became disheartened, and began to desert Baum. The rain, which prevented our troops from attacking the enemy, enabled them to complete their entrenchments, and send to General Burgoyne for reinforcements; but on the morning of the 16th of August, we found that General Stark and a council of war had agreed upon a plan of attack, and intended to execute it that day. I don’t think there was a man among our troops who was not anxious for a fight. Our skirmishes had put us in the humour for it. I can’t exactly give you an idea of the position of the enemy, and of the real amount of skill General Stark displayed in his plan of attack. But I’ll try to do the best I can. The Germans were posted on a rising ground near a bend in Wallomsac Creek, which is a branch of the Hoosic River. The ground on both sides of the creek is rolling, and the position of the Germans was on the highest of the small hills. Peter’s corps of Tories were entrenched on the other side of the creek, nearly in front of the German battery, and on lower ground. During the night of the 15th, Colonel Symonds with about one hundred Berkshire militia, arrived in camp. Parson Allen, who, you may have heard, was such a zealous whig, was with the Berkshire men, and he wanted to fight right off. But General Stark told him if the next day was clear, there would be fighting enough. Well, when the morning of the 16th of August came; it was clear and bright. Both armies seemed to know that day was to decide between them. General Stark had given his orders to all the colonels of his regiments. Colonel Nichols, with our corps of about two hundred men, marched up the little creek just above the bridge, to attack the rear of the enemy’s left; while Colonel Herrick, with three hundred men, marched to attack the rear of the right, with orders to join our party before the assault was made. Colonels Hubbard and Stickney were ordered to march down the Wallomsac, with three hundred men, near the Tories, so as to turn Baum’s attention to that point. We started about noon, and marched through the thick woods and up from the valley towards the enemy’s entrenchments. Our march was rapid
“What was the loss of the enemy that day?” enquired Pitts.
“I heard since, that it was nine hundred and thirty-four men, including killed, wounded, and prisoners,” replied Ransom. “I recollect we buried two hundred and seven of them. Our own loss was one hundred killed, and about the same number wounded. Besides the prisoners, we took four pieces of brass cannon, more than two hundred and fifty swords, several hundred muskets, several brass drums, and four ammunition wagons. So you see, we had plenty of plunder.”
“I suppose the men were not allowed to take any thing but the swords and muskets,” said Kinnison.
“Yes, the baggage fell to us,” said Ransom, “and all the fixins of the German camp; the cannon, drums, wagons and standards were not taken away.”
“I guess that was one of the completest victories ever gained,” said Kinnison. “Only to think of militia flogging regulars in that style. What could the enemy expect from our regulars?”
“There’s as much credit due to General Stark for that victory, as was ever given to him or as we could give to a general,” said Ransom. “If he had not taken command of the troops, there would have been very little resistance to Baum’s advance. The plan of attack was formed with great skill, and the general went into the battle with the determination to win it or leave his body on the field. Such a man as John Stark would make soldiers out of cowards.”
Mr. Hand here proposed three cheers for General Stark and his Green Mountain Boys, and they were given with a hearty will. One of the young men then announced that he had a song, which had been sung at an anniversary of the battle of Bennington, and which he would now sing, if the company wished it. Of course, the company did wish it, and the young gentleman sang the following words:—
Remember the glories of patriots
Though the days of the heroes are o’er;
Long lost to their country and cold in their grave,
They return to their kindred no more,
The stars of the field, which in victory pour’d
Their beams on the battle are set,
But enough of their glory remains on each sword
To light us to victory yet.
Walloomsack! when nature embellished
Of thy fields and mountains so fair,
Did she ever intend a tyrant should print
The footsteps of slavery there!
No! Freedom, whose smiles we shall never resign,
Told those who invaded our plains,
That ’t is sweeter to bleed for an age at thy shrine,
Than to sleep for a moment in chains.
Forget not the chieftain of
Hampshire, who stood
In the day of distress by our side;
Nor the heroes who nourished the fields with their blood,
Nor the rights they secured as they died.
The sun that now blesses our eyes with his light,
Saw the martyrs of liberty slain;
O, let him not blush when he leaves us to-night,
To find that they fell there in vain!
Brown and Hanson had prepared their instruments during the singing, and immediately followed it with Washington’s march, to which knives and forks kept time.
[Illustration: Mr. Bleeker and his son.]
“An incident occurred just after the battle of Bennington, which showed the spirit of the people of the neighbourhood,” said Ransom, when the musicians had concluded. “Old Zedekiah Bleeker, who lived in Bennington, sent five bold sons to join our little army, just before the battle. One of them—Sam. Bleeker—was killed; and one of the old man’s neighbours came to tell him about it—’Mr. Bleeker,’ said the neighbour, ’your son has been unfortunate.’ ‘What!’ said the old man, ’has he misbehaved? Did he desert his post or shrink from the charge?’ ‘Worse than that,’ replied the neighbour; ‘he was slain, but he was fighting nobly.’ ’Then I am satisfied,’ said the old man; ‘bring him to me.’ Sam’s body was brought home. The old man wiped the blood from the wound, and while a tear stood in his eye, said it was the happiest day of his life, to know that he had five sons fighting for freedom and one slain for the same cause. There was a spirit of patriotism for you.”
“I can tell you of an instance quite as good,” said old John Warner. “Perhaps it is better; for in this instance, a woman displayed the like spirit. A good lady in 1775, lived on the sea-board, about a day’s march from Boston, where the British army then was. By some unaccountable accident, a rumour was spread, in town and country, in and about there, that the Regulars were on a full march for the place, and would probably arrive in three hours at farthest. This was after the battle of
“I heard of many such instances,” said Kinnison; “such a spirit was common at the time, not only in New England, but throughout the States. Look at the noble conduct of some of the people of New Jersey, during Washington’s retreat, and afterwards. The women did all they could to lessen the sufferings of the men, and many an old man wanted to join the army, knowing how much he would have to endure.”
“The women were all right during the Revolution,” said Pitts. “I can tell you of an instance in which a woman displayed both patriotism and wisdom, though it may be rather a long story.”
“Oh! the longer the better,” said Hand.
“Very well,” said Pitts, “I’ll tell you about it, as near as I can recollect. One night, while the British army was encamped on Long Island, a party of the redcoats, galled by the death of Major Andre, formed a plan to cross over to the Connecticut side and capture General Sullivan, who commanded some of the Americans stationed there, and hold him in revenge for Andre’s death.
“It was a hazardous project, but four bold men pledged themselves to undertake it. John Hartwell, a brave young officer was selected as their leader.
“Soon as arranged they proceeded to a boat, and made the best progress they could across the river; on gaining the shore, they made for a small clump of underwood, where they lay concealed, until they noted what direction it was best to take.
“Here too may be seen the tents where repose the brave men who have sworn to protect their homes and country, or die in its defence against the invaders, who seek to control their free rights. Near may be seen a spacious farm house, the abode of General Sullivan—the brave soldier and faithful friend—who now slept, unconscious of danger. Through some neglect, the sentinels on duty had wandered from their posts, never dreaming it possible that any one would risk a landing, or could pass the tents unobserved. By a circuitous route they gained the house, and here the faithful watch-dog gave the alarm; a blow soon silenced him; and ascending the piazza, Captain Hartwell opened the casement, and followed by his men, stepped lightly into the sitting-room of the family.
“They now struck a light, and with caution proceeded on their search—they passed through several apartments, while, strange to relate, the inmates slept on, unconscious of this deed of darkness.
“They at length reached the General’s room—two of the men remained outside, while Captain Hartwell, with another officer, entered, and stood in silence, musing on the scene before them.
“A night-lamp burnt in the room, dimly revealing the face of the sleepers—whose unprotected situation could not but awake a feeling of pity even in their callous hearts.
“‘Jack,’ whispered his companion, ’by heaven I wish this part of the business had been entrusted to some one else—I could meet this man face to face, life for life, in the field of battle—but this savors too much of cowardice.’
“‘Hold your craven tongue, Low,’ answered Captain Hartwell, ’perform your part of the play, or let some one else take your place—you forget the scrape we are in at the least alarm. We might happen to salute the rising sun from one of the tallest trees on the General’s farm—an idea far from pleasing.’
“’For my part, I could wish myself back on Long Island—but our general expects every man to do his duty—let yours be to prevent that female from screaming, while I secure her husband.’
“The ear of woman is quick, and from their entering the room, not a word had escaped Mrs. Sullivan. At first she could scarce refrain from calling out, but her uncommon strength of mind enabled her to master her fear—she scarce knew what to think: her husband’s life, herself and family, were at stake, and her courage rose in proportion as her sense of danger increased.
“She scarcely dared to breathe, and even the infant at her breast seemed to partake of its mother’s anxiety, and nestled closer to her bosom.
“The curtains partly shaded where she lay, and breathing a prayer to Heaven for protection, she silently stepped from the bed, scarce knowing how to proceed.
“Her woman’s tact led her to appeal to their sympathies, if sympathies they had—if she died, she but risked her life for one dearer than herself whose existence to his country was invaluable—and perhaps by this means enable him to escape. In an instant she was before them, her infant at their feet, her pale beseeching face imploring what speech refused to utter.
“The officers started—this sight was unexpected—the least hesitation, and all would be lost.
“Captain Hartwell threw aside his heavy watch-cloak and said—
“’Madam, let this uniform be the warrant for our honour—our object is to take your husband alive, if possible—that depends, however, on your silence.’
“At this moment General Sullivan awoke, and finding his wife in the hands of men whose calling he knew not, his good sword was soon in his hand, but a strong arm wrested it from him—handcuffs were placed on his wrists, and he stood their prisoner.
“He enquired by what right they entered his house! ‘Our object, sir,’ replied the officer, ’is to convey you to Long Island—the least expression of alarm from you, that moment you breathe your last—if peaceable, no violence will be offered.’ Mrs. Sullivan threw herself before them, and entreaties for mercy gushed from her agonized heart. ’Oh! spare him—take what money is here, but leave me my husband, the father of my children. Think, if you have wives or families, what their sense of bereavement would be to see some murderous band tear you from their arms, and they left in horrid uncertainty as to your fate. Take all that we have, but leave him.’ A sneer of scorn curled the officer’s lip, as he coolly replied—
“’Madam, we are neither robbers nor assassins—the compliment on our part is quite undeserved. We are British officers.’
“‘Then, sir,’ exclaimed Mrs. Sullivan starting to her feet—her eyes flashing, her proud form trembling, as her own wrongs were forgot in those of her country—’Shame on the cause that sanctions such a deed as this—in the silence of night to enter a peaceful dwelling and take an unoffending man from the arms of his wife and family—Truly, such an act as this would well need the covering of darkness. You may call yourselves servants of Britain—that is your fit appellation. Take him—another victim is required for my country. But the vengeance of Heaven is abroad, and, ere long, the men who war for the price of blood, will find the arm of him who fights for his fireside and liberty, nerved by a stronger consciousness of right.’
“‘Madam,’ interrupted the officer, awed by the stern majesty of her manner, ’I came not here to interchange words with a woman, or, I might speak about warring against our lawful king.—But you know, Tom,’ turning to his companion, ‘I never was good at preaching.’ ’Not to a woman, certainly,’ said Tom, laughing, ’or rather you could never bring one to your way of thinking.’
“A slight noise warned them of the impropriety of their longer remaining. The General having completed dressing, took an affectionate farewell of his wife, assuring her he would soon be enabled to return. They left the house—but to gain the shore was a matter of some difficulty. The general was rendered incapable of making the slightest noise if he had wished to, and they had tied Mrs. Sullivan, and bound her mouth to prevent her giving any alarm. But the tents were not so easily passed. The morning was fast approaching, and the route they came would occupy too much time to retrace it—their only plan now was to make as straight a line as possible to the shore. Already had they passed one tent, when the cry ‘who goes there’ was heard. In a moment they gained the shadow of an adjoining tent, when a man suddenly stept before them and demanded their business. No time could be lost—the two officers proceeded on to the boat with the general, while the remainder overpowered the sentinel and joined their companions as the dawn was faintly perceptible in the east. By the time an alarm was given, they were far beyond the reach of pursuit.
“Their prisoner was borne triumph to their commander, who intended waiting superior orders as to the disposal of him.
“In the meanwhile, Mrs. Sullivan was not idle. A council was called, and every plan was proposed that could tend to liberate her husband.
“The womanly wit of Mrs. Sullivan suggested that they should cross the river in the same manner as the British had done, and seize the person of one of their influential men, and hold him as an hostage until terms could be agreed upon for the exchange of prisoners. It was a risk, and if discovered, no mercy could be expected.
“The nephew of the general, a young officer of merit, and several others, volunteered their services. The following night was arranged for the purpose.
“The difficulty, when the time arrived, was to procure some mode of getting over. A whale-boat was at length found, into which the adventurers got, disguised as fishermen. They soon arrived at Long Island and proceeded to the residence of Judge Jones.
“With some difficulty they secured that worthy functionary, and notwithstanding his assurance as to being a good patriot, which they assured him they did not in the least question, conveyed the good man to the boat, in spite of his wish to finish his sleep out, and embarked pleased with their success. On reaching the house of Mrs. Sullivan they introduced their prisoner. Mrs. Sullivan courteously apologized for the necessity they had been under for requesting his society without due time for preparation; a suring him that the house and all in it were at his service while he honoured it as his abode.
“The Judge was taken quite at a loss. At any time he was a man of a few words, but the sudden transition had quite bewildered his faculties. At times he doubted whether the good old cogniac, of which he had taken a plentiful supply before retiring to rest, had not turned his head.
“He stood in the centre of the apartment gazing listlessly around him, until the voice of Mrs. Sullivan, politely inquiring if her guest stood in need of any refreshment, recalled his fleeting thoughts. The tempting repast set before him did wonders in restoring his good humor, his sail having given him quite an appetite, and at any time a lover of the good things of life, and knowing arguments could produce no alteration in his fate, he submitted with as much good grace as possible, a little alleviated by the reflection that a woman’s care was not the worst he could have fallen into. By a singular coincidence, Mrs. Sullivan learnt that her husband was an inmate in the house of the Judge, an assurance in every way relieving, having been placed in his charge until conveyed from Flatbush.
“Letters were soon interchanged, the Americans refusing to yield their prisoner without the British doing the same. Terms were accordingly entered into, and the Judge prepared to take leave of his fair hostess at the same time her husband was taking leave of the Judge’s wife.—The Judge had been highly pleased with the manners of Mrs. Sullivan, who did every thing in her power to make his stay agreeable.
“The two boats with their respective prisoners at length set sail, and meeting on the river, they had an opportunity of congratulating each other on the happy termination of their imprisonment, which, thanks to woman’s wit, so fertile in expedients, had saved them from what might have been a tragedy. With assurances of friendship they parted, the wives soon having the pleasure of embracing their husbands. Subsequently letters couched in terms of the warmest gratitude were exchanged between the two ladies, for the attention paid to their respective husbands.”
“That Mrs. Sullivan was a remarkable woman,” remarked Colson. “But so were most of the women of our side at that time; and the fact is, such a cause as ours would have made heroes and heroines out of the weakest. Besides, what won’t a woman do to save her husband, at all times?”
“A good stratagem—that of Mrs. Sullivan’s,” said Hand.
“Equal to some of Washington’s generalship,” remarked Kinnison. Each one of the party had some remark to make upon the courage and resource of Mrs. Sullivan, except Brown, the fifer, who was enjoying the dreams of Morpheus, and therefore deaf to the narrative.
“I heard of an instance in which a woman was still more heroic than Mrs. Sullivan,” said Ransom, “Because, in this case, the lady suffered for maintaining the cause of her country.
“When New York and Rhode Island were quietly possessed by the British armies, and the Jerseys, overrun by their victorious generals, opposed but a feeble resistance to their overwhelming power, Lord Cornwallis, commanding a large division of their troops, stationed at Bordentown, addressing Mrs. Borden, who resided on her estate in a mansion of superior elegance, demanded in an authoritative tone, ’Where, Madam, is your rebel husband—where your rebel son?’ ’Doing their duty to their country, under the orders of General Washington,’ was the prompt reply. ‘We are well apprized,’ rejoined that officer, of ’the influence you possess over the political creed of your family, and that to them your opinion is law. Be wise, then, in time, and while mercy is tendered to you, fail not to accept it. Bid them quit the standard of rebellion, and cordially unite with us, in bringing his Majesty’s deluded subjects to submission, and a proper sense of their errors and ingratitude, to the best of kings. Your property will then be protected, and remain without injury in your possession. But, should you hesitate to profit by our clemency, the wasting of your estate and destruction of your mansion will inevitably follow.’ ‘Begin, then, the havoc which you threaten,’ replied the heroic lady: ’the sight of my house in flames, would be to me a treat, for, I have seen enough of you to know, that you never injure, what it is possible for you to keep and enjoy. The application of a torch to it I should regard as a signal for your departure, and consider the retreat of the spoiler an ample compensation for the loss of my property.’
“This was one of those threats which the British never failed to carry into execution. The house was burnt, and the whole property consigned to waste and desolation. But, as had been foreseen, the perpetrator of the ruthless deed retreated, to return no more.”
“Just like Cornwallis and his red-coats,” said Kinnison, “burning people’s houses and wasting their lands was a way of making converts, which they discovered and practised with a vengeance. Mrs. Borden was a strong-minded woman to have endured all this.”
“Yes,” said Warner, “Mrs. Borden was a heroine as wouldn’t have disgraced the Romans. But what would you think of a mere girl, whose family was opposed to our cause, exerting herself to procure the freedom of one of our officers, who had been taken by the British?”
“I should say it’s what young girls in love have done many a time,” said Kinnison.
“Not under such circumstances,” said Warner. “But I’ll tell you about it as it was told to me. Captain Plunkett was a bold-spirited Irishman, who held a commission in our army. In some way or other—it may have been at the battle of Brandywine—Plunkett was taken by the enemy, and soon after placed in a prison in Philadelphia. Previous to that, he had made many
“Well, now we have had enough of the women,” said Kinnison.
“Yes,” said Hand, “and now we must have something more of the men of the Revolution. Come, which of you will tell something about George Washington—the Father of his Country?”
“I can tell you of an important incident in the career of Washington, which was told to me by a man who witnessed a part of it, and heard the rest,” said Colson.
“Then strike up, old boy,” said Kinnison, familiarly.
“What I am now about to tell you occurred in the fall of 1782,” began Colson. “General Washington was then at West Point. One evening he was invited to a party given at the house of one Rugsdale, an old friend. Several other officers were invited to accompany him. The general seldom engaged in festivities at the period, but in respect to an old acquaintance, and, it is whispered, the solicitations of the daughter of Rugsdale, he consented to honour the company with his presence. He started from West Point in a barge, with some officers and men. As the barge gained the opposite bank, one of the rowers leaped on shore, and made it fast to the root of a willow which hung its broad branches over the river. The rest of the party then landed, and uncovering, saluted their commander, who returned their courtesy.
“‘By ten o’clock you may expect me,’ said Washington. ’Be cautious; look well that you are not surprised. These are no times for trifling.’
“‘Depend on us,’ replied one of the party.
“‘I do,’ he responded; and bidding them farewell, departed along the bank of the river.
“After continuing his path some distance along the river’s side he struck off into a narrow road, bordered thickly with brushwood, tinged with a thousand dyes of departed summer; here and there a grey crag peeped out from the foliage, over which the green ivy and the scarlet woodbine hung in wreathy dalliance; at other places the arms of the chestnut and mountain ash met in lofty fondness, casting a gloom deep almost as night. Suddenly a crashing among the trees was heard, and like a deer an Indian girl bounded into the path, and stood full in his presence. He started back with surprise, laid his hand upon his sword—but the Indian only fell upon her knee, placed her finger on her lips, and by a sign with her hand forbade him to proceed.
“‘What seek you, my wild flower,’ said the General.
“She started to her feet, drew a small tomahawk from her belt of wampum, and imitated the act of scalping the enemy; then again waving her hand as forbidding him to advance, she darted into the bushes, leaving him lost in amazement.
“There is danger,” said he to himself, after a short pause, and recovering from his surprise. “That Indian’s manner betokens no good, but my trust is in God; he has never deserted me!” and, resuming the path, he shortly reached the mansion of Rufus Rugsdale.
“His appearance was the signal of joy among the party assembled, each of whom vied with the other to do him honour. Although grave in council, and bold in war, yet in the bosom of domestic bliss no one knew better how to render himself agreeable. The old were cheered by his consolatory word; the young by his mirthful manner; nor even in gallantry was he wanting, when it added to the cheerful spirit of the hour. The protestations of friendship and welcome were warmly tendered to him by his host. Fast and thick the guests were assembling; the laugh and mingling music rose joyously around. The twilight was fast emerging into night; but a thousand sparkling lamps of beauty gave a brilliancy of day to the scene; all was happiness; bright eyes and blooming aces were every where beaming; but alas! a serpent was lurking among the flowers.
“In the midst of the hilarity, the sound of a cannon burst upon the ear, startling the guests and suspending the dance. Washington and the officers looked at each other with surprise, but their fears were quickly dispelled by Rugsdale, who assured him it was only a discharge of ordnance in honour of his distinguished visitors. The joy of the moment was again resumed, but the gloom of suspicion had fallen upon the spirit of Washington, who sat in moody silence apart from the happy throng.
“A silent tap upon the shoulder aroused him from his abstraction, and looking up he perceived the person of the Indian standing in the shadow of a myrtle bush close to his side.
“‘Ha! again here!’ he exclaimed with astonishment; but she motioned him to be silent, and kneeling at his feet, presented him with a bouquet of flowers. Washington received it, and was about to place it in his breast, when she grasped him firmly by the arm, and pointing to it, said in a whisper ‘Snake! Snake!’ and the next moment mingled with the company, who appeared to recognise and welcome her as one well-known and esteemed.
“Washington regarded the bouquet with wonder; her words and singular appearance had, however, sunk deeper into his heart, and looking closer upon the nosegay, to his surprise he saw a small piece of paper in the midst of the flowers. Hastily he drew it forth, and confounded and horror-stricken, read, ‘Beware! you are betrayed!’ It was now apparent that he was within the den of the tiger; but to quit abruptly, might only draw the consummation of treachery the speedier upon his head. He resolved therefore that he would disguise his feelings, and trust to that Power which had never forsaken him. The festivities were again renewed, but almost momentarily interrupted by a second sound of the cannon. The guests now began to regard each other with distrust, while many and moody were the glances cast upon Rugsdale, whose countenance began to show symptoms of uneasiness, while ever and anon he looked from the window out upon the broad green lawn which extended to the river’s edge, as if in expectation of some one’s arrival.
“‘What can detain them?’ he muttered to himself. ’Can they have deceived me? Why answer they not the signal?’ At that moment a bright flame rose from the river, illuminating, for a moment, the surrounding scenery, and showing a small boat filled with persons making rapidly towards the shore. ‘All’s well,’ he continued; ’in three minutes I shall be the possessor of a coronet, and the cause of the Republic be no more.’
“Then gaily turning to Washington, he said, ’Come, General, pledge me to the success of your arms.’ The eye of Rugsdale at that moment encountered the scrutinizing look of Washington, and sunk to the ground; his hand trembled violently, even to so great a degree as to partly spill the contents of the goblet. With difficulty he conveyed it to his lips—then retiring to the window, he waved his hand, which action was immediately responded to by a third sound of the cannon, at the same moment the English anthem of ‘God save the King,’ burst in full volume upon the ear, and a band of men attired in British uniform, with their faces hidden by masks, entered the apartment. The American officers drew their swords, but Washington, cool and collected, stood with his arms folded upon his breast, and quietly remarked to them, ’Be calm, gentlemen—this is an honour we did not anticipate.’ Then, turning to Rugsdale, he said, ‘Speak, sir, what does this mean?’
“‘It means,’ replied the traitor, (placing his hand upon the shoulder of Washington,) ’that you are my prisoner. In the name of King George, I arrest you.’
“‘Never,’ exclaimed the General. ’We may be cut to pieces, but surrender we will not. Therefore give way,’ and he waved his sword to the guard who stood with their muskets levelled, as ready to fire, should they attempt to escape. In an instant were their weapons reversed, and, dropping their masks, to the horror of Rugsdale, and the agreeable surprise of Washington, his own brave party, whom he had left in charge of the barge, stood revealed before him.
“‘Seize that traitor!’ exclaimed the commander. ’In ten minutes from this moment let him be a spectacle between the heavens and the earth.’ The wife and daughter clung to his knees in supplication, but an irrevocable oath had passed his lips that never should treason receive his forgiveness after that of the miscreant Arnold. ‘For my own life,’ he said, while tears rolled down his noble countenance at the agony of the wife and daughter: ’For my own life I heed not; but the liberty of my native land—the welfare of millions demand this sacrifice. For the sake of humanity, I pity him; but my oath is recorded, and now in the presence of Heaven, I swear I will not forgive him.’
“Like a thunderbolt fell these words upon the wife and daughter. They sank lifeless into the hands of the domestics, and when they had recovered to consciousness, Rugsdale had atoned for his treason by the sacrifice of his life.
“It appears that the Indian girl, who was an especial favourite and domesticated in the family, had overheard the intentions of Rugsdale to betray the American General, and other valuable officers, that evening, into the hands of the British, for which purpose they had been invited to this ‘feast of Judas.’ Hating, in her heart, the enemies of America, who had driven her tribe from their native forests, she resolved to frustrate the design, and consequently waylaid the steps of Washington, as we have described, but failing in her noble purpose, she had recourse to the party left in possession of the boat.
“Scarcely had she given the information, and night closed round, when a company of British soldiers were discovered making their way rapidly towards the banks of the Hudson, within a short distance of the spot where the American party was waiting the return of their commander. Bold in the cause of liberty, and knowing that immediate action alone could preserve him, they rushed upon and overpowered them, bound them hand and foot, placed them with their companions, and sent them to the American camp at West Point. Having disguised themselves in the habiliments of the enemy, they proceeded to the house of Rugsdale, where, at the appointed time and sign made known by the Indian, they opportunely arrived to the relief of Washington, and the confusion of the traitor.”
“Who told you that story?” enquired Kinnison.
“An old friend of mine, named Buckram; he was one of the men who disguised themselves,” replied Colson.
“I’m inclined to believe it’s a tough yarn,” said Kinnison. “It’s true enough to the character of Washington. He never let his feelings swerve him from the strict line of duty. But all that stuff about the Indian girl is somebody’s invention, or the most extraordinary thing of the kind I’ve heard tell of. I don’t doubt your friend’s veracity, but it’s a tough yarn.”
“Probable enough,” remarked Hand.
“It’s a very pretty story,” said Ransom, “and I’m inclined to swallow it as truth.”
“I’m satisfied of its truth,” said Colson. “But I wouldn’t ask any of you to believe it, if there’s anything in it staggers you.”
“I think Rugsdale was served as all such traitors in such times should be served,” said Hanson. “Hurra! for Gineral Washington.”
“Three cheers for General Washington!” suggested Hand, and the three cheers were given. A song was called for by several voices, and a young man volunteered to favour the company with “Liberty and Washington,” the song which follows:—
When Freedom, from her starry
Look’d down upon the drooping world,
She saw a land of fairy bloom,
Where Ocean’s sparkling billows curl’d;
The sunbeams kiss’d its mighty floods,
And verdure clad its boundless plains—
But floods and fields and leafy woods,
All wore alike a despot’s chains!
“Be free!” she cried, “land of my choice;
Arise! and put thy buckler on;
Let every patriot raise his voice
For Liberty and Washington!”
The word went forth from hill
Each patriot heart leapt at the sound;
Proud Freedom’s banner flapp’d the gale,
And Britain’s chains fell to the ground.
Man stood erect in majesty,
The proud defender of his rights:
For where is he would not be free
From stern oppression’s deadening blights!
Be free—be free then, happy land!
Forever beam the light that shone
Upon the firm and dauntless band,
Who fought beside our Washington!
Lo! where the forest’s
Midst woody hill and rocky glen,
Wild as the dark retreats they loved—
What now are towns were deserts then.
The world has marked her onward way,
Beneath the smile of Liberty;
And Fame records the glorious day
Which made the western empire free.
Be free—be free then, glorious land!
In union be thy millions one;
Be strong in friendship’s holy band,
Thy brightest star—our Washington!
This song and the applause which succeeded wakened the sleeping fifer, Brown, who looked around him as if wondering where he was.
“Hallo, old boy,” said Kinnison, “you look frightened. What’s the matter with you?”
“I was dreaming,” replied Brown. “I thought I was at the battle of Lexington, and the roar of the British guns was in my ears. But I find it is only the roar of your voices. Liberty and Washington was our war-cry on many a field, and I thought I heard it again.”
“It was our peace cry,” said Hand.
Some of the young men, we regret to say, were not members of any of the temperance societies; and as they had partaken freely of the stimulating beverages which had been called for, they were getting very noisy and losing much of that bashfulness which had hitherto kept them silent. In this state of things, Mr. Hand was forced to entreat one of the veterans to amuse them with some interesting incidents of the Revolution.
“There was a British officer, whose career has often interested me,” said Hand, “and that was Colonel Tarleton. He was a daring, fiery soldier, according to the accounts of him; but a savage man.”
“Tarleton was a regular blood-hound,” said Pitts, “A savage, though among civilized men. I always admired his fiery spirit and daring courage, but never could regard him as a civilized warrior. I’ll tell you of an instance in which Tarleton displayed his character in full. I had a Tory relative in North Carolina, who died not long ago. When Colonel Tarleton was encamped west of the Haw River, Cornwallis received information that Lee’s fiery Legion had recrossed the Dan, cut up several detachments of Tories, and was scouring the neighbouring country in search of parties of the enemy. The British general immediately sent information to Colonel Tarleton, to warn him to guard against surprise. My Tory relative was the messenger, and he told me about what he saw at Tarleton’s camp.
“As soon (says the old Tory) as I came in view of the British lines, I hastened to deliver myself up to the nearest patrol, informing him that I was the bearer of important despatches from Lord Cornwallis to Colonel Tarleton. The guard was immediately called out, the commander of which taking me in charge, carried me at once to Tarleton’s marquee. A servant informed him of my arrival, and returned immediately with the answer that his master would see me after a while, and that in the mean time I was to await his pleasure where I then was. The servant was a grave and sedate looking Englishman, between 50 and 60 years of age, and informed me that he had known Colonel Tarleton from his earliest youth, having lived for many years in the family of his father, a worthy clergyman, at whose particular request he had followed the Colonel to this country, with the view that, if overtaken by disease and suffering in his headlong career, he might have some one near him who had known him ere the pranksome mischief of the boy had hardened into the sterner vices of the man. ‘He was always a wild blade, friend,’ (said the old man) ’and many a heart-ache has he given us all, but he’ll mend in time, I hope.” Just then my attention was arrested by the violent plungings of a horse, which two stout grooms, one on each side, were endeavouring to lead to the spot where we were standing. He was a large and powerful brute, beautifully formed, and black as a crow, with an eye that seemed actually to blaze with rage, at the restraint which was put upon him. His progress was one continued bound, at times swinging the grooms clear from the earth, as lightly as though they were but tassels hung on to the huge Spanish bit, so that with difficulty they escaped being trampled under foot. I asked the meaning of the scene, and was informed that the horse was one that Tarleton had heard of as being a magnificent animal, but one altogether unmanageable; and so delighted was he with the description, that he sent all the way down into Moore County where his owner resided, and purchased him at the extravagant price of one hundred guineas; and that moreover, he was about to ride him that morning. ‘Ride him?’ said I, ’why one had as well try to back a streak of lightning!—the mad brute will certainly be the death of him.’ ’Never fear for him,’ said my companion; ’never fear for him, his time has not come yet.’ By this time the horse had been brought up to where we were; the curtain of the marquee was pushed aside and my attention was drawn from the savage stud, to rivet itself upon his dauntless rider. And a picture of a man he was. Rather below the middle height, and with a face almost femininely beautiful, Tarleton possessed a form that was a model of manly strength and vigor. Without a particle of superfluous flesh, his rounded limbs and full broad chest seemed moulded from iron, yet at the same time displaying all the elasticity which usually accompanies elegance of proportion. His dress (strange as it may appear)
“The struggle for the mastery had commenced—bound succeeded bound with the rapidity of thought; every device which its animal instinct could teach, was resorted to by the maddened brute to shake off its unwelcome burthen—but in vain. Its ruthless rider proved irresistible—and, clinging like fate itself, plied the scourge and rowel like a fiend. The punishment was too severe to be long withstood, and at length, after a succession of frantic efforts, the tortured animal, with a scream of agony, leaped forth upon the plain and flew across it with the speed of an arrow. The ground upon which Tarleton had pitched his camp was an almost perfectly level plain, something more than half a mile in circumference.
“Around this, after getting him under way, he continued to urge his furious steed, amid the raptures and shouts of the admiring soldiery, plying the whip and spur at every leap, until wearied and worn down with its prodigious efforts, the tired creature discontinued all exertion, save that to which it was urged by its merciless rider.
[Illustration: Tarleton breaking the horse.]
“At length, exhausted from the conflict, Tarleton drew up before his tent and threw himself from his saddle. The horse was completely subdued, and at the word of command followed him like a dog. The victory was complete. His eye of fire was dim and lustreless—drops of agony fell from his drooping front, while from his labouring and mangled sides the mingled blood and foam poured in a thick and clotted stream. Tarleton himself was pale as death, and as soon as he was satisfied with his success, retired and threw himself on his couch. In a short time I was called into his presence and delivered my despatches. Immediate orders were issued to make preparation for a return to Hillsborough, so soon as all the scouts had come in; and the next morning early found us again beyond the Haw River—and in good time, too, for as the last files were emerging from the stream, the advance of Lee’s Legion appeared on the opposite bank, and, with a shout of disappointed rage, poured a volley into the ranks of the retreating columns.
“I have witnessed many stirring scenes,” said the old man, “both during the Revolution and since, but I never saw one half so exciting as the strife between that savage man and savage horse.”
“It was almost equal to Alexander and Buce—Buce—Alexander the Great, and that wild horse you know he tamed when a boy—what was its name?” said Kinnison.
“Bucephalus,” said Hand.
“That’s the name,” said Kinnison. “Tarleton was more savage, however, than even that conqueror.”
“The same relative told me of several other instances in which Tarleton displayed his savage and merciless nature,” said Pitts. “After the fall of Charleston, a young man named Stroud, who had taken a British protection, resumed arms in defence of his country. Shortly after, Tarleton captured him, and without any shadow of a trial, hung him up by the public road, with a label attached to his back, announcing that such should be the fate of the man who presumed to cut him down. The body was exposed in that manner for more than three weeks, when the sister of the young man ventured out, cut the body down and gave it decent burial. At another time, a young man named Wade, who had been induced to join Tarleton’s Legion, deserted, to unite with his countrymen. He was taken, tried and sentenced to receive a thousand lashes. Of course the poor fellow died under the punishment.”
“The wretch!” said Hand. “I suppose if he had fallen into the hands of our men, they would have strung him up without mercy.”
“He never would have fallen alive into the hands of our men,” replied Pitts. “Such men know that they must expect vengeance. He came near losing his life in various battles. At Cowpens, Colonel Washington cut him with his sabre, and would have killed him, if be had turned and fought like a man; at the Waxhaws, Captain Adam Wallace made a thrust at Tarleton that would have done for him, if a British trooper had not struck Wallace to the earth just at the time.”
“There were many Tarletons among the enemy,” said Colson, as “far as cruelty is considered, but most of them lacked his activity, and were therefore less formidable.”
“It seemed,” said Pitts, “as if Tarleton never aimed to win merely, but to destroy. He said that severity alone could establish the regal authority in America. If a party of Americans were surprised, they were not made prisoners, but slaughtered while asking for quarter. He was a tiger that was never satisfied until he had mangled and devoured his enemy.” And so the veterans went on, talking of the cruelties of Tarleton, giving his character no more quarter than he had given his unfortunate prisoners.
“There was another British officer, up in these parts, who was nearly equal to Tarleton,” said Davenport. “I mean General Grey—the man who massacred our men at Paoli and Tappan. Both these were night-attacks, it is true, and we always expect bloody work on such an occasion. But it is known that our men were bayoneted while calling for quarter, which can’t be justified. Did Wayne slaughter the enemy at Stony Point? No; he spared them, although they were the men who had acted otherwise at Paoli.”
“Grey was known as the no-quarter General, I believe,” said Hand.
“Yes,” said Davenport; “and he was always selected to do the bloodiest work—the hangman of the enemy, as we might say.”
“Hang Tarleton and Grey,” said Hand. “Tell us something of our own men. Did either of you ever see Henry Lee? he was always one of my favourite heroes.”
“Oh! yes,” said Kinnison, “I frequently saw Lee, before he went south with his Legion. He was a noble-looking young man, with the judgment of a skilful general, and the fire of a natural soldier. I knew several of his men, who were with him through the whole campaign, under General Greene. You may have heard what Greene said of him. Speaking of the principal officers under him, he said Colonel Lee was the eye of the army, and Colonel Washington its arm; and he afterwards said that he was more indebted to Lee’s judgment and activity for success, than to the qualities of any other officer. It was Lee who advised Greene to recross the Dan, and pursue Cornwallis in North Carolina. Even Tarleton was very careful to keep out of the Legion’s reach, when numbers were anything like equal.”
“I always liked Henry Lee,” said Warner. “But he was too severe sometimes. See how he slaughtered the Tories with Colonel Pyle at their head.”
“Yes, he cut the poor rascals to pieces,” said Pitts. “I heard that about three hundred out of four hundred men were butchered on that occasion.”
“It’s a fact,” said Kinnison; “but I can’t think Lee was too cruel there. You see, it’s often necessary to strike a heavy blow to effect an object; and Lee wanted to put an end to the movements of the tories, who were collecting in great numbers to join Cornwallis. There was no better way than the summary one he adopted, of making them feel the consequence of being traitors to their country and to freedom.”
“It served them just right,” said Davenport.
“I don’t wish to defend the tories,” said Hand; “but I think in many instances, great injustice was done to them. Many of them were honest, true-hearted men, who didn’t think as the Whigs did, or whose thinking did not lead them to the same conclusion. I scarcely think such men could be called traitors to their country.”
“No; you talk very well,” said Davenport; “but if you had suffered from them, you would have hated the tories just as much as we did.”
“Well, don’t dispute about it,” said Kinnison. “We were talking of Colonel Henry Lee, and his brave Legion. Cornwallis said he never felt secure while Lee was anywhere in his neighbourhood; and that he knew how to seek the weak points of an enemy and strike a blow as well as any partisan officer he ever knew. He feared Lee as much as Tarleton feared the night-attacks of the Swamp-Fox, Marion. My friends in the Legion told me that Lee had as daring and enterprising officers under his
“I saw him soon after he joined the Legion,” said Hanson. “Colonel Lee considered him his best officer, I believe.”
“Yes,” said Kinnison, “he was one of the best officers in the army—conducting sieges as well as he did partisan movements. Not long before the British evacuated Charleston, Captain Rudolph performed two remarkable exploits that tell the character of the man better than words can. The left of the British line was at a place called the Quarter House, near Charleston, on what is called the Neck. To protect this post on the water-side, the enemy had a large armed galley, well manned and equipped. Captain Rudolph, gaining a knowledge of the exact position of the galley and her force, formed a plan to capture, or least destroy her. He chose only sixteen men—the most daring and enterprising in the Legion, and informed them of his scheme. They were eager for such enterprises, and everything was soon arranged. A night was fixed upon, and boats prepared. There was no moon upon that night, which made it favourable to secrecy. At the appointed time, Rudolph and his men rowed with muffled oars and ready weapons towards the place where the galley was anchored. They had to pass very near the British sentinels on the Neck, but were not discovered; and they reached the side of the galley before any of the British were aware that the enterprise was afoot. Twenty-six men who were aboard the galley were made prisoners with scarcely any resistance, so sudden was the attack. These prisoners were hurried into the boats; and then Captain Rudolph, seeing that he couldn’t get the galley away from the place in time to get out of the enemy’s reach, set fire to her. The party then gave a shout and pulled away towards the shore from which they had started. The enemy were alarmed by the firing of the sentinels, the glare of the burning galley and the shout of the daring band, and fired some of their artillery after Rudolph. But it was too late; the Americans escaped, and the galley was burned to the water’s edge.”
“That was equal to Decatur’s burning of the Philadelphia,” said Hand.
“It was,” replied Kinnison. “Rudolph was very much of a Decatur in spirit. Soon after the enterprise I’ve just mentioned. Captain Rudolph attacked a party of black dragoons who were out foraging for the British. The blacks were defeated, and many of them taken. In the course of the fight, Rudolph engaged one of the largest-sized and boldest of the black dragoons in a regular hand-to-hand combat; and in a very short time dismounted and captured him.”
“The war in the Southern States had more of romance and daring enterprise connected with it than the war in the North,” said Hand; “though it must be owned, that the movements of the Northern armies were of more consequence in the long run.”
“Yes, there was more that most young men like to read about in the Southern war,” said Warner; “plenty of dare-devil movements, but no Canadian expedition, nor Saratoga.”
“It’s a pity there are no soldiers of the Southern army here to reply to your sneers,” said Kinnison. “I know from what I’ve heard, there never were better soldiers than the men who fought under Lee and Morgan, and I scarcely think that George Washington himself was a better general than Nathaniel Greene. But I was going to tell you of some other officers of Lee’s Legion; there was Lieutenant Manning, an Irishman, who was very much of a favourite among his brother officers on account of his good-humour in company, and his coolness and bravery in battle. Many anecdotes are told of him which speak his parts, and if agreeable, I’ll tell some of them to you as they were told to me.”
“Very agreeable,” said Hand.
“The kind of stories I like to hear,” said another of the young men.
“Well, you shall hear, if I can recollect aright,” said Kinnison. “The intrigues and efforts of Lord Cornwallis, to excite insurrection, backed by a very formidable force, had produced among the Highland emigrants a spirit of revolt, which it required all the energies of General Greene to counteract, before it could be matured. The zeal and activity of Lieutenant Colonel Lee, united to his acuteness and happy talent of obtaining intelligence of every movement, and of the most secret intentions of the enemy, pointed him out as the fittest man for this important service. He was accordingly selected with orders to impede the intercourse of Lord Cornwallis with the disaffected; to repress every symptom of revolt, and promptly to cut off every party that should take up arms for Britain. Constantly on the alert, he was equally anxious to give security to his own command, while he harassed the enemy. A secure position was, on one occasion, taken near a forked road, one division of which led directly to Lord Cornwallis’ camp, about six miles distant. The ground was chosen in the dusk of evening; and to prevent surprise, patrols of cavalry were kept out on each fork during the night. An order for a movement before day had been communicated to every individual, and was executed with so little noise and confusion, that Lieutenant Manning waking at early dawn, found himself, excepting one soldier, left alone. Stephen Green, the attendant of Captain Carns, lay near him, resting on the portmanteau of his superior, and buried in profound sleep. Being awakened he was ordered to mount and follow, while Manning, hastening towards the fork, hoped to fall upon the track, and speedily rejoin his regiment. Much rain had fallen during the night, so that, finding
[Illustration: Lee’s Legion.]
“We’ve already argued that question,” said Davenport, “and in my mind, it is a settled point that Lee was right.” Nobody seemed disposed to revive the argument, and Kinnison continued.
“In this instance you see how ready Manning was to break a net or weave one. I can tell you of another instance in which he showed his daring courage, and quickness of resource in time of danger. At the battle of Eutaw, after the British line had been broken, and the Old Buffs, a regiment that had boasted of the extraordinary feats that they were to perform, were running from the field, Manning, sprang forward in pursuit, directing the platoon which he commanded, to follow him. He did not cast an eye behind him until he found himself near a large brick house, into which the York Volunteers, commanded by Cruger, were retiring. The British were on all sides of him, and not an American soldier nearer than one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards. He did not hesitate a moment, but springing at an officer who was near him, seized him by the collar, and exclaiming in a harsh tone of voice—’Damn you, sir, you are my prisoner,’ wrested his sword from his grasp, dragged him by force from the house, and keeping his body as a shield of defence from the heavy fire sustained from the windows, carried him off without receiving any injury. Manning has often related, that at the moment when he expected that his prisoner would have made an effort for his liberty, he, with great solemnity, commenced an enumeration of his titles—I am, Sir Henry Barry, Deputy Adjutant General of the British Army, Captain in the 52d Regiment, Secretary to the Commandant of Charleston.’ ‘Enough, enough, sir,’ said Manning, ’you are just the man I was looking for; fear nothing for your life, you shall screen me from danger, and I will take special care of you.’ He had retired in this manner some distance from the brick house, when he saw Captain Robert Joiett of the Virginia line, engaged in single combat with a British officer. They had selected each other for battle a little before, the American armed with a broad-sword, the Briton with a musket and bayonet. As they came together, a thrust was made at Joiett, which he parried, and both dropping their artificial weapons, being too much in contact to use them with effect, resorted to those with which they had been furnished by nature. They were both men of great bulk and vigour, and while struggling each anxious to bring the other to the ground, a grenadier who saw the contest, ran to the assistance of his officer, made a longe with his bayonet, missed Joiett’s body, but drove it beyond the curve into his coat. In attempting to withdraw the entangled weapon, he threw both combatants to the ground; when getting it free, he raised it deliberately, determined not to fail again in his purpose, but to transfix Joiett. It was at this moment that Manning
“Manning was a cool and ready soldier,” observed Pitts. “I saw him once in Philadelphia, before his Legion went south. He had a most determined look in spite of the good-humoured leer of his eye. He was one of the last men I should have wished to provoke; he was a complete Irishman—blunders and all. I heard of his telling a black servant who was walking barefoot on the snow to put on a pair of stockings the next time he went barefoot.”
“Great things were done by the soldiers, as well as by the officers of that Legion,” said Kinnison. “At the siege of the Stockade Fort at Ninety-Six, Colonel Lee, who had charge of all the operations of the siege, thought that the Fort might be destroyed by fire. Accordingly, Sergeant Whaling, a non-commissioned officer whose term of service was about to expire, with twelve privates, was detached to perform the service. Whaling saw that he was moving to certain death; as the approach to the Fort was to be made in open day, and over clear, level ground, which offered no cover. But he was a brave man, and had served from the commencement of the war. It was his greatest pride never to shrink from his duty. He dressed himself neatly—took an affectionate but cheerful leave of his comrades, swung his musket over his shoulder, and with a bundle of blazing pine torches in his hand, sprang forward, followed by his little band. They reached the Stockade before the enemy fired a shot. But a deliberate aim killed Whaling and all his men except one, who escaped unhurt. It was the opinion of most of the officers of the Legion that Whaling’s life was sacrificed in attempting to carry out a rash idea. But we oughtn’t to judge Colonel Lee without being more certain of the facts.”
“But we know enough to say it was a very wild idea to send men up to a fort in open day, and over ground where they could have no cover,” remarked Ransom. “I know General John Stark would never have sacrificed his men in that way.”
“Perhaps,” said Hand, coming to the rescue of his hero, “a desperate measure was necessary. I’ve heard that at the time, Lord Rawdon was marching very rapidly to relieve the garrison, and Colonel Lee thought that every means should be tried to reduce the Fort ere the siege was abandoned.”
“You say well,” said Kinnison. “As I said before, we should never judge commanders without knowing the facts of the case. Never say a man has committed a fault, unless it sticks out plain to the eye. Harry Lee was as a common thing very sparing of the lives of his men, and he never made any military movement without very strong driving from reason, as General Greene himself would have told you. Whaling was a brave man and a strict soldier, or he would never have dared to approach the fort in such a way. But as I said before, they were all daring men that belonged to Lee’s Legion. There were two soldiers of the cavalry, named Bulkley and Newman, who had been the warmest and the closest friends from infancy. They had both joined the army at the same time—that is, at the commencement of the war; and through the greater part of the southern campaign, they fought side by side, and each one strove to lighten the sufferings of the other. Brothers could not have been more attached to each other. In the fight at Quimby, where Captain Armstrong made a famous dragoon charge upon the 19th British regiment, the friends were among the foremost. The dragoons had to pass a bridge in which the enemy had made a large gap. Captain Armstrong led the way, but not more than a dozen men followed, to support him. At the head of this little band, Armstrong cut his way through the entire British regiment. But then a well-aimed fire brought down several of the dragoons. Bulkley and Newman were mortally wounded at the same fire, and fell, locked in each other’s arms.”
“A kind of Damon and Pythias friendship,” observed Hand.
“Yes, I believe they would have died for each other,” said Kinnison. “A friend told me that they were never separated, in camp or field. If one was sick, the other watched by his side. I had a comrade of the same kind during the greater part of my life; his name was Williams, and he was one of the best-hearted men I ever knew. We fought through the Revolution together, and both entered the army in 1812. But I lost him during the attack on Fort Erie. Poor Williams was killed by a shell. It has been a long while since then, but I still feel as if I had lost a part of my heart when he fell. Poor Williams!” and Kinnison appeared to be busy with the mournful recollections of the “friends of his better days.”
“Well, you may talk as much as you please about Henry Lee and Marion, and your other men in the south,” said Ransom, “but John Stark or Ethan Allen was worth as much as either of them.”
“My favourite leader was Mad Anthony Wayne,” said Colson. “A better soldier or a more wide-awake general was not to be found in the army during the revolution.”
“I know General Wayne was a whole soldier,” observed Davenport.
“Did any of you ever hear or read an account of the night-attack on General Wayne, near Savannah, just before the close of the war?” enquired Colson.
“I have read something about it, and know it was a warm struggle,” said Kinnison.
“One of Parker’s Light Infantry told me all about it,” said Colson. “He says that General Wayne, with eight hundred men—infantry, artillery and dragoons—were encamped at Gibbons’ Plantation, about five miles from Savannah, where the British were posted. It was the early part of February. General Wayne had no idea that an enemy was nearer than Savannah. But the brave Creeks had been taken into the pay of the British, and their chief, Gurestessego, formed a plan to surprise the Continentals. Never was an attack better planned; our men were sleeping with a feeling of security, when, about midnight, the Creeks fell upon the camp. The sentinels were captured and the Indians entered the camp, and secured the cannon; but while they were trying to make the cannon serviceable, instead of following up their success, Wayne and his men recovered from their surprise and were soon in order for battle. Parker’s Infantry charged with the bayonet and after a short struggle recovered the cannon. Gunn, with his dragoons, followed up the charge, and the Creeks were forced to give way. General Wayne encountered the chief Gurestessego in hand-to-hand combat—the General with sword and pistols, and the chief with musket, tomahawk and knife. The struggle was fierce but short. The chief was killed, and Wayne escaped without any serious injury. Seventeen of the Creeks fell and the rest escaped in the darkness, leaving their packhorses and a considerable quantity of peltry in the hands of the victors. Wayne conjectured at once that the Indians would not have dared to make an attack, without being assured of the approach of the British or Tories to support them, and a rumour spread that Colonel Browne was marching towards the camp for that purpose. In the fight, Wayne had captured twelve young warriors, whom he doomed to death to prevent them joining the enemy. This was a rash act. The rumour of Browne’s approach was false; but the young warriors had been sacrificed before this was known. General Wayne felt many a pang for this rash command, as he was a man who never would shed blood without it was necessary in the performance of his duty.”
“Why didn’t he send the Indians to Greene’s camp, or some other American post?” enquired Hand.
“There was no time or men to spare if the rumour had been true,” said Colson. “Most commanders would have acted as Wayne did, under the circumstances. Though I think the execution of the order might have been delayed until the enemy came in sight.”
“The General no doubt had good reason for his course,” said Kinnison. “He believed it to be his duty to do everything for the safety of the men he commanded, and expecting to be assailed by a much larger force than his own, he did right to destroy the foes he had in camp. I know it must have shocked his feelings to give the order, but he was a man who couldn’t shrink or be driven from the plain line of duty. Now, there was that affair with the Pennsylvania line, at Morristown. I’ve heard several men who were at Morristown at the time, say that Wayne was wrong in daring to oppose the mutineers—that their demands were just and reasonable, and he ought rather to have led, than opposed them. But every man who knows anything of the duty of a general and a patriot must applaud Wayne.”
“Can’t you give us an account of that mutiny at Morristown?” enquired Hand.
“I can tell you what was told me by men who engaged in it,” said Kinnison. “For myself, I was at that time, with the Massachusetts troops at Middlebrook. The Pennsylvania line, numbering about two thousand men, was stationed at the old camp ground at Morristown. Most of these men believed that their term of service expired at the end of the year 1779, though Congress and some of the generals thought otherwise, or that the men were enlisted to serve until the end of the war. This difficulty about the term of enlistment was the seed of the mutiny. But there were many other things that would have roused any other men to revolt. The Pennsylvanians had not received any pay for twelve months, and during the severest part of the fall, they suffered for the want of food and clothing. To expect men to bear such treatment and remain in the army when there was the slightest pretext for leaving, it was building on a sandy foundation. Patriotism and starvation were not as agreeable to common soldiers as they were to some members of Congress. Even some of the officers—men who depended upon their pay to support their families while fighting for liberty—grumbled at the conduct of those who should have supplied them. This gave the men courage, and they determined to act boldly. They appointed a serjeant-major their major-general, and at a given signal on the morning of the 1st of January, the whole line, except a part of three regiments, paraded under arms, and without their regular officers, marched to the magazines, supplied themselves with provisions and ammunition, and secured six field-pieces, to which they attached horses from General Wayne’s stables. The regular officers collected those who had not joined the mutineers, and tried to restore order; but some of the mutineers fired, killed Captain Billings, and, I believe, wounded several of his men. They then ordered those who remained with the officers to join them or meet death by the bayonet, and they obeyed. Then General Wayne appeared, and, by
“Perhaps,” said Hand, “the Jersey troops had not as much reason to revolt as the Pennsylvanians.”
“I know they hadn’t as much reason,” said Kinnison. “They had suffered as much for want of food and clothing, but their term of service was more certainly known.”
“How nobly the men treated the offers of Sir Henry Clinton!” said Hand. “I should think the British government might have learned from that affair, the spirit of the Americans, and the futility of efforts to conquer men with such motives and sentiments.”
“They might have learned it if they had wished to learn,” said Pitts. “They might have learned the same thing from the Boston tea-party. But they determined that they had a right to act towards us just as they pleased, and their pride was blind to consequences.”
“One may look through Greek and Roman history in vain to find men holding such noble and patriotic sentiments, while harassed with want of every kind,” said Hand, growing eloquent.
“Ah! those were times to try the metal men were made of,” said Colson. “The men who took up the sword and gun for freedom were resolved to win their country’s safety or die in the attempt, and such men will not be bought at any price. Arnold was a mere soldier—never a patriot.”
“I might combat that last remark,” said Davenport, “but I’ll let it go.”
“Come, Brown, more music,” exclaimed Warner. “The dinner and the dull conversation makes some of us drowsy. Stir us up, man!”
“There’s nothing like the fife and drum for rousing men,” said Kinnison. “I hate these finnicking, soft and love-sick instruments, such as pianos, guitars and some others they play on now-a-days. There’s no manliness about them.”
Brown and Hanson, having produced their old martial instruments, then struck up “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the best of the national anthems of America. Soon after the last roll of the fife had ended, Hand, without invitation, struck up the anthem itself, and sang the words with great force, the whole company joining in the two last lines of every verse. The music and the anthem thoroughly roused the old as well as the young members of the company, and, at its conclusion, three cheers were lustily given for the stars and stripes. One of the young men then said that he had a song to sing, which would be new to the company; but still was not an original composition. The music was stirring and appropriate. The words were as follows:—
Freemen! arise, and keep your
The foe are on our shore,
And we must win our freedom now,
Or yield forevermore.
The share will make a goodly
Then tear it from the plough!
Lingers there here a crouching slave!
Depart, a recreant thou!
Depart, and leave the field
Determined to be free,
Who burn to meet their vaunting foes
And strike for liberty.
Why did the pilgrim cross
Say, was he not your sire?
And shall the liberty he gave
Upon his grave expire!
The stormy wave could not
Nor where the savage trod;
He braved them all, and conquer’d all,
For freedom and for God.
We fight for fireside and
For heritage, for altar;
And, by the God of yon blue dome,
Not one of us shall falter!
We’ll guard them, though
the foeman stood
Like sand-grains on our shore,
And raise our angry battle-flood,
And whelm the despots o’er.
We’ve drawn the sword,
and shrined the sheath
Upon our father’s tomb;
And when the foe shall sleep in death,
We’ll sheath it o’er their doom.
Firm be your step, steady
Unbroken your array;
The spirits of the blest shall smile
Upon our deeds to-day.
Unfurl the banner of the free
Amidst the battle’s cloud;
Its folds shall wave to Liberty,
Or be to us a shroud.
O’er those who fall,
a soldier’s tear
Exulting shall be shed;
We’ll bear them upon honour’s bier,
To sleep in honour’s bed.
The maiden, with her hurried
And rapture-beaming eye,
Shall all forget the field of death
To bless the victory.
The child, O! he will bless
The mother bless her son,
And God, He will not frown in ire,
When such a field is won.
“Good!” exclaimed Kinnison, when the song was done. “That is a war-song of ’76, I know.”
“It is,” replied the singer; “and judging from what I have heard you say, it expresses in it the feeling of the period.”
“A truce to songs and music,” said Davenport. “I never was fond of any kind of music but that of the fife and drum, and I never needed that to put me in a condition to stand fire.”
“You are too gloomy,” said Kinnison.
“I have had cause enough for gloominess,” said Davenport.
“But I wanted to talk to you about something—and that was my reason for checking you. You talk so much about the treason of Arnold, and say that he never was a patriot, that I wanted to tell you of another man’s treason, not to excuse Arnold, but to show you that he wasn’t alone in preferring the British side of the question, and that there were bolder patriots than Paulding, Williams, and Van Wert, the captors of Andre.
“We know there were plenty of traitors and patriots in the country without a showing,” said Kinnison, “but go on with your narrative.”
“But this will prove that all censure should not be heaped upon Arnold’s head, nor all the praise on the militia-men of Tarry-town,” observed Davenport.
“When the Revolutionary War broke out,” said Davenport, beginning his narrative, “there was a man named Joseph Bettys, who lived in Ballston, New York, remarkable for his courage, strength and intelligence. Colonel Ball of the Continental forces saw that Bettys might be of great service to our cause, and succeeded in enlisting him as a serjeant. But he was soon afterwards reduced to the ranks, on account of his insolence to an officer, who, he said, had abused him without cause. Colonel Ball was not acquainted with the facts of the affair, but being unwilling to lose so active and courageous a man, he procured him the rank of a serjeant in the fleet commanded by General Arnold, on Lake Champlain. Bettys was as skilful a seaman as could be found in the service, and during the desperate fight between
[Illustration: SEIZURE OF THE BETTYS.]
“Did this affair happen before that of Andre’s?” enquired Hand. “If so, these men only imitated the noble example of Paulding, Williams and Van Wert.”
“It did occur after the capture of Andre,” replied Davenport. “But that takes nothing from the danger of the attempt, or the amount of the temptation resisted.”
“That’s true,” replied Hand; “but the capture of Andre, and the favour with which our countrymen regarded his captors, may have stimulated many to patriotic exertions, and thereby have made such deeds so common as not to receive special notice. I’ve no doubt the researches of historians will yet bring to light many such deeds.”
“How the conduct of such men as Arnold and Bettys contrasts with that of Samuel Adams and his fellow-patriots!” remarked Warner. “When the first resistance was made to quartering the British troops in Boston, Samuel Adams was the leader and mouth-piece of the patriots, and the royal rulers of Massachusetts tried every way to induce him to abandon the cause he had espoused. In the first place, they threatened him with severe punishment. But they couldn’t scare him from his chosen course. Then they flattered and caressed him, but it was of no effect. At last, Governor Gage resolved to try whether bribes wouldn’t work a change. So, he sent Col. Fenton to him, as a confidential messenger. The Colonel visited Adams, and stated his business at
“Aye, Samuel Adams was whole-souled and high-souled,” said Davenport. “No one will dispute that, who knows any thing of his history.”
“New England had a host of patriots at the same period,” observed Kinnison. “Many of them did not possess the talents and energy of Samuel Adams, but the heart was all right.”
“Well, gentlemen,” said Mr. Hand, “there is a most important matter, which you have omitted. You have told us nothing of Bunker Hill’s memorable fight, in which, as Bostonians and friends of liberty, we feel the deepest interest. Which of you can oblige us by giving us your recollections of our first great struggle?”
“Mr. Warner was one of Col. Starke’s men. He can tell you all about it,” said Colson.
“Aye, if memory serves me yet,” said Warner, “I can tell you much of that day’s struggle. I joined Col. Starke’s regiment shortly before the battle. I always admired Starke, and preferred to serve under him. I suppose you are acquainted with the general features of the battle, and therefore I will not detain you long, with reciting them.
“On the sixteenth of June, 1775, it was determined that a fortified post should be established at or near Bunker’s Hill.
“A detachment of the army was ordered to advance early in the evening of that day, and commence the erection of a strong work on the heights in the rear of Charlestown, at that time called Breed’s Hill, but from its proximity to Bunker Hill, the battle has taken its name from the latter eminence, which overlooks it.
“The work was commenced and carried on under the direction of such engineers as we were able to procure at that time. It was a square redoubt, the curtains of which were about sixty or seventy feet in extent, with an entrenchment, or breast-work, extending fifty or sixty feet from the northern angle, towards Mystic river.
“In the course of the night, the ramparts had been raised to the height of six or seven feet, with a small ditch at their base, but it was yet in a rude and very imperfect state. Being in full view from the northern heights of Boston, it was discovered by the enemy, as soon as daylight appeared; and a determination was immediately formed by General Gage, for dislodging our troops from this new and alarming position. Arrangements were promptly made for effecting this important object. The movements of the British troops, indicating an attack, were soon discovered; in consequence of which orders were immediately issued for the march of a considerable part of our army to reinforce the detachment at the redoubts on Breed’s Hill; but such was the imperfect state of discipline, the want of knowledge in military science, and the deficiency of the materials of war, that the movement of the troops was extremely irregular and devoid of every thing like concert—each regiment advancing according to the opinions, feelings, or caprice, of its commander.
“Colonel Stark’s regiment was quartered in Medford, distant about four miles from the point of anticipated attack. It then consisted of thirteen companies, and was probably the largest regiment in the army. About ten o’clock in the morning, he received orders to march. The regiment being destitute of ammunition, it was formed in front of a house occupied as an arsenal, where each man received a gill-cup full of powder, fifteen balls, and one flint.
“The several captains were then ordered to march their companies to their respective quarters, and make up their powder and ball into cartridges, with the greatest possible despatch. As there were scarcely two muskets in a company of equal calibre, it was necessary to reduce the size of the balls for many of them; and as but a small proportion of the men had cartridge-boxes, the remainder made use of powder-horns and ball-pouches.
“After completing the necessary preparations for action, the regiment formed, and marched about one o’clock. When it reached Charlestown Neck, we found two regiments halted, in consequence of a heavy enfilading fire thrown across it, of round, bar, and chain shot, from the Lively frigate, and floating batteries anchored in Charles river, and a floating battery laying in the river Mystic. Major M’Clary went forward, and observed to the commanders, if they did not intend to move on, he wished them to open and let our regiment pass: the latter was immediately done.
“Soon after, the enemy were discovered to have landed on the shore of Morton’s Point, in front of Breed’s Hill, under cover of a tremendous fire of shot and shells from a battery on Copp’s Hill, in Boston, which had opened on the redoubt at day-break.
“Major-general Howe and Brigadier-general Pigot, were the commanders of the British forces which first landed, consisting of four battalions of infantry, ten companies of grenadiers, and ten of light infantry, with a train of field-artillery. They formed as they disembarked, but remained in that position until they were reinforced by another detachment.
“At this moment, the veteran and gallant Colonel Stark harangued his regiment, in a short, but animated address; then directed them to give three cheers, and make a rapid movement to the rail-fence which ran to from the left, and about forty yards in the rear of the redoubt, towards Mystic river. Part of the grass, having been recently cut, lay in winnows and cocks on the field. Another fence was taken up—the rails run through the one in front, and the hay, mown in the vicinity, suspended upon them, from the bottom to the top, which had the appearance of a breast-work, but was, in fact, no real cover to the men; it, however, served as a deception on the enemy. This wag done by the direction of the ‘Committee of Safety,’ as I afterwards heard. That committee exerted itself nobly.
“At the moment our regiment was formed in the rear of the rail-fence, with one other small regiment from New Hampshire, under the command of Colonel Reid, the fire commenced between the left wing of the British army, commanded by General Howe, and the troops in the redoubt, under Colonel Prescott; while a column of the enemy was advancing on our left, on the shore of Mystic river, with an evident intention of turning our left wing, and that veteran and most excellent regiment of Welsh fusileers, so distinguished for its gallant conduct in the battle of Minden, advanced in column directly on the rail-fence; when within eighty or an hundred yards, displayed into line, with the precision and firmness of troops on parade, and opened a brisk, but regular fire by platoons, which was returned by a well-directed, rapid, and fatal discharge from our whole line.
“The action soon became general, and very heavy from right to left In the course of ten or fifteen minutes, the enemy gave way at all points, and retreated in great disorder; leaving a large number of dead and wounded on the field.
“The firing ceased for a short time, until the enemy again formed, advanced, and recommenced a spirited fire from his whole line. Several attempts were again made to turn our left; but the troops, having thrown up a slight stone-wall on the bank of the river, and laying down behind it, gave such a deadly fire, as cut down almost every man of the party opposed to them; while the fire from the redoubt and rail-fence was so well directed and so fatal, especially to the British officers, that the whole army was compelled a second time to retreat with precipitation and great confusion. At this time, the ground occupied by the enemy was covered with his dead and wounded. Only a few small detached parties again advanced, which kept up a distant, ineffectual, scattering fire, until a strong reinforcement arrived from Boston, which advanced on the southern declivity of the hill, In the rear of Charlestown. When this column arrived opposite that angle of the redoubt which faced Charlestown, it wheeled by platoons to the right, and advanced directly upon the redoubt without firing a gun. By this time, our ammunition was exhausted. A few men only had a charge left.
“The advancing column made an attempt to carry the redoubt by assault, but at the first onset every man that mounted the parapet was cut down, by the troops within, who had formed on the opposite side, not being prepared with bayonets to meet the charge.
“The column wavered for a moment, but soon formed again; when a forward movement was made with such spirit and intrepidity as to render the feeble efforts of a handful of men, without the means of defence, unavailing; and they fled through an open space, in the rear of the redoubt, which had been left for a gateway. At this moment, the rear of the British column advanced round the angle of the redoubt, and threw in a galling flank-fire upon our troops, as they rushed from it, which killed and wounded a greater number than had fallen before during the action. The whole of our line immediately after gave away, and retreated with rapidity and disorder towards Bunker’s Hill; carrying off as many of the wounded as possible, so that only thirty-six or seven fell into the hands of the enemy, among whom were Lt. Col. Parker and two or three other officers, who fell in or near the redoubt.
“The whole of the troops now descended the north-western declivity of Bunker’s Hill, and recrossed the neck. Those of the New Hampshire line retired towards Winter Hill, and the others on to Prospect Hill.
“Some slight works were thrown up in the course of the evening,—strong advance pickets were posted on the roads leading to Charlestown, and the troops, anticipating an attack, rested on their arms.
“It is a most extraordinary fact that the British did not make a single charge during the battle, which, if attempted, would have been decisive, and fatal to the Americans, as they did not carry into the field fifty bayonets. In my company there was not one.
“Soon after the commencement of the action, a detachment from the British forces in Boston was landed in Charlestown, and within a few moments the whole town appeared in a blaze. A dense column of smoke rose to a great height, and there being a gentle breeze from the southwest, it hung like a thunder-cloud over the contending armies. A very few houses escaped the dreadful conflagration of this devoted town.”
“I say, men, the story of Bunker Hill is old enough, and the events of that day have caused enough dispute already. We know that we taught the red-coats a good, round lesson, and we shouldn’t fight about particulars. Now, young men, I’ll tell you a story about a real hero,” said Pitts.
“Who was he?” enquired Hand.
“His name was Peter Francisco, and he was a trooper in our army,” replied Pitts. “Now, I’ll tell you what he did.
“While the British troops were spreading havoc and desolation all around them, by their plundering and burnings in Virginia, in 1781, Peter Francisco had been reconnoitring, and whilst stopping at the house of a Mr. Wand, in Amelia county, nine of Tarleton’s cavalry coming up with three negroes, told him he was a prisoner. Seeing himself overpowered by numbers, he made no resistance; and believing him to be very peaceable they all went into the house, leaving the paymaster and Francisco together. He demanded his watch, money, &c., which being delivered to him, in order to secure his plunder, he put his sword under his arm, with the hilt behind him. While in the act of putting a silver buckle into his pocket, Francisco, finding so favourable an opportunity to recover his liberty, stepped one pace in his rear, drew the sword with force under his arm and instantly gave him a blow across the skull. His enemy was brave, and though severely wounded, drew a pistol, and, in the same moment that he pulled the trigger, Francisco cut his hand nearly off. The bullet grazed his side. Ben Wand (the man of the house) very ungenerously brought out a musket, and gave it to one of the British soldiers, and told him to make use of that. He mounted the only horse they could get, and presented it at his breast. It missed fire. Francisco rushed on the muzzle of the gun. A short struggle ensued, in which the British soldier was disarmed and wounded. Tarleton’s troop of four hundred men were in sight. All was hurry and confusion, which Francisco increased by repeatedly hallooing, as loud as he could, ’Come on, my brave boys! now’s your time! we will soon despatch these few, and then attack the main body!’ The wounded man flew to the troop; the others were panic-struck, and fled. Francisco seized Wand, and would have despatched him, but the poor wretch begged for his life; he was not only an object of contempt, but pity. The eight horses that were left behind, he gave him to conceal. Discovering Tarleton had despatched ten more in pursuit of him, Francisco then made off, and evaded their vigilance. They stopped to refresh themselves, and he, like an old fox, doubled, and fell on their rear. He went the next day to Wand for his horses; Wand demanded two for his trouble and generous intentions. Finding his situation dangerous, and surrounded by enemies where he ought to have found friends, Francisco went off with his six horses. He intended to have avenged himself on Wand at a future day, but Providence ordained he should not be his executioner, for he broke his neck by a fall from of the very horses.”
“Francisco displayed great courage, daring and presence of mind in that scrape,” observed Kinnison. “But I have heard of several encounters quite equal to it.”
“Yes, Francisco displayed great presence of mind, and that’s the most valuable quality of a soldier—it will save him when courage and strength are palsied. Francisco performed many singular exploits down South, and had a high reputation. He had much of the dare-devil in his nature, and it seemed as if dangerous adventures agreed with him better than easy success. He fought bravely in several battles, and was known to many of the enemy as a man to be shunned. There wasn’t a man among the red-coats stout-hearted and strong-limbed enough to dare to meet him. But you said you had heard of several encounters equal to the one I just narrated,” said Pitts.
“I did,” replied Kinnison. “Have you ever seen a painting of the fight between Colonel Allan M’Lean and some British troops? It used to be a common thing in Boston.”
“I have seen the picture,” said Hand, “and I should like to hear the story of the affair. It must have been a desperate fight.”
“It was,” replied Kinnison. “A man who was intimately acquainted with McLean, and heard the account from his own lips, told me of it. You may boast of Francisco’s exploits, but here was a man who united the most daring courage and strength with a very intelligent and quick-working mind.”
“While the British occupied Philadelphia,” said Kinnison, “Col. M’Lean was constantly scouring the upper end of Bucks and Montgomery counties, to cut off scouting parties of the enemy and intercept their supplies of provisions.”
“Having agreed, for some purpose, to rendezvous near Shoemakertown, Col. M’Lean ordered his little band of troopers to follow at some distance, and commanded two of them to precede the main body, but also to keep in his rear; and if they discovered an enemy, to ride up to his side and inform him of it, without speaking aloud. While leisurely approaching the place of rendezvous in this order, in the early gray of the morning, the two men directly in his rear, forgetting their orders, suddenly called out, ‘Colonel, the British!’ faced about, and putting spurs to their horses, were soon out of sight. The colonel, looking around, discovered that he was in the centre of a powerful ambuscade, into which the enemy had silently allowed him to pass, without his observing them. They lined both sides of the road, and had been stationed there to pick up any straggling party of the Americans that might chance to pass. Immediately on finding they were discovered, a file of soldiers rose from the side of the highway, and fired at the colonel, but without effect; and as he put spurs to his horse, and mounted the road-side into the woods, the other part of the detachment also fired. The colonel miraculously escaped; but a shot striking his horse upon the flank, he dashed through the woods, and in a few minutes reached a parallel road upon the opposite side of the forest. Being
[Illustration: EXPLOIT OF COLONEL M’LEAN.]
“Beaten, beaten!” exclaimed Pitts. “I admit that, in resolution and daring, Francisco was surpassed by M’Lean. He was a hero!”
“Major Garden, in his Anecdotes of the Revolution, eulogizes McLean’s courage and enterprise,” said Hand.
“If courage and resolution make up the hero, our country didn’t hunger for ’em during the Revolution,” said Davenport.
“Yes, it’s a difficult and nice matter to say who bears away the palm. But I do not believe that Col. M’Lean was surpassed,” said Kinnison. “Col. Henry Lee was a man of the same mould,” added Colson.
“Aye, he was; and that reminds me of an adventure of his which displays his courage and resolution,” replied Kinnison.
“In the Revolution, a prison was erected at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for those red-coats who fell into our hands. The prisoners were confined in barracks, enclosed with a stockade and vigilantly guarded; but in spite of all precautions, they often disappeared in an unaccountable manner, and nothing was heard of them until they resumed their places in the British army. It was presumed that they were aided by American tories, but where suspicion should fall, no one could conjecture. Gen. Hazen had charge of the post. He devised a stratagem for detecting the culprits, and selected Capt. Lee, afterwards Maj. Lee, a distinguished partisan officer, to carry out his plan. It was given out that Lee had left the post on furlough. He, however, having disguised himself as a British prisoner, was thrown into the prison with the others. So complete was the disguise, that even the intendant, familiar with him from long daily intercourse, did not penetrate it. Had his fellow-prisoners detected him, his history might have been embraced in the proverb, ’Dead men tell no tales.’
“For many days he remained in this situation, making no discoveries whatever. He thought he perceived at times signs of intelligence between the prisoners and an old woman who was allowed to bring fruit for sale within the enclosure: She was known to be deaf and half-witted, and was therefore no object of suspicion. It was known that her son had been disgraced and punished in the American army, but she had never betrayed any malice on that account, and no one dreamed that she could have the power to do injury if she possessed the will. Lee matched her closely, but saw nothing to confirm his suspicions. Her dwelling was about a mile distant, in a wild retreat, where she shared her miserable quarters with a dog and cat.
“One dark stormy night in autumn, Lee was lying awake at midnight. All at once the door was gently opened, and a figure moved silently into the room. It was too dark to observe its motions narrowly, but he could see that it stooped towards one of the sleepers, who immediately rose. Next it approached and touched him on the shoulder. Lee immediately started up. The figure then allowed a slight gleam from a dark lantern to pass over his face, and as it did so whispered, impatiently, ’Not the man—but come!’ It then occurred to Lee that it was the opportunity he desired. The unknown whispered to him to keep his place till another man was called; but just at that moment something disturbed him, and making a signal to Lee to follow, he moved silently out of the room. They found the door of the house unbarred, and a small part of the fence removed, where they passed out without molestation. The sentry had retired to a shelter, where he thought he could guard his post without suffering from the rain; but Lee saw his conductors put themselves in preparation to silence him if he should happen to address them. Just without the fence appeared a stooping figure, wrapped in a red cloak, and supporting itself with a large stick, which Lee at once perceived could be no other than the old fruit-woman. But the most profound silence was observed: a man came out from a thicket at a little distance and joined them, and the whole party moved onward by the guidance of the old woman. At first they frequently stopped to listen, but having heard the sentinel cry, ‘All’s well!’ they seemed reassured, and moved with more confidence than before.
“They soon came to her cottage. A table was spread with some coarse provisions upon it, and a large jug, which one of the soldiers was about to seize, when the man who conducted them withheld him. ‘No,’ said he, ‘we must first proceed to business.’
“The conductor, a middle-aged, harsh-looking man, was here about to require all present, before he could conduct them farther, to swear upon the Scriptures not to make the least attempt at escape, and never to reveal the circumstances or agents in the proceeding, whatever might befal them. But before they had time to take the oath, their practised ears detected the sound of the alarm-gun; and the conductor, directing the party to follow him in close order, immediately left the house, taking with him a dark lantern. Lee’s reflections were not now the most agreeable. If he were to be compelled to accompany his party to the British lines in New York, he would be detected and hanged as a spy; and he saw that the conductor had prepared arms for them, which they were to use in taking the life of any one who should attempt to escape. They went on with great despatch, but not without difficulty. Lee might now have deserted, in this hurry and alarm; but he had made no discovery, and he could not bear to confess that he had not nerve enough to carry him through. They went on, and
“For several nights they went on in this manner, being delivered over to different persons from time to time; and, as Lee could gather from their whispering conversations, they were regularly employed on occasions like the present, and well rewarded by the British for their services. Their employment was full of danger; and though they seemed like desperate men, he could observe that they never remitted their precautions. They were concealed days in barns, cellars, caves made for the purpose, and similar retreats; and one day was passed in a tomb, the dimensions of which had been enlarged, and the inmates, if there had been any, banished to make room for the living. The burying-grounds were a favourite retreat, and on more occasions than one they were obliged to resort to superstitious alarms to remove intruders upon their path. Their success fully justified the experiment; and unpleasantly situated as he was, in the prospect of soon being a ghost himself, he could not avoid laughing at the expedition with which old and young fled from the fancied apparitions.
“Though the distance of the Delaware was not great, they had now been twelve days on the road, and such was the vigilance and suspicion prevailing throughout the country, that they almost despaired of effecting their object. The conductor grew impatient, and Lee’s companions, at least one of them, became ferocious. There was, as we have said, something unpleasant to him in the glances of this fellow towards him, which became more and more fierce as they went on; but it did not appear whether it was owing to circumstances, or actual suspicion. It so happened that, on the twelfth night, Lee was placed in a barn, while the rest of the party sheltered themselves in the cellar of a little stone church, where they could talk and act with more freedom; both because the solitude of the church was not often disturbed even on the Sabbath, and because even the proprietors did not know that illegal hands had added a cellar to the conveniences of the building.
“Here they were smoking pipes with great diligence, and, at intervals not distant, applying a huge canteen to their mouths, from which they drank with upturned faces, expressive of solemn satisfaction. While they were thus engaged, the short soldier asked them, in a careless way, if they knew whom they had in their party. The others started, and took their pipes from their mouths to ask him what he meant. ‘I mean,’ said he, ’that we are honoured with the company of Capt. Lee, of the rebel army. The rascal once punished me, and I never mistook my man when I had a debt of that kind to pay.’
“The others expressed their disgust at his ferocity, saying that if, as he said, their companion was an American officer, all they had to do was to watch him closely. As he had come among them uninvited, he must go with them to New York, and take the consequences; but meantime it was their interest not to seem to suspect him, otherwise he might give an alarm—whereas it was evidently his intention to go with them till they were ready to embark for New York. The other person persisted in saying that he would have his revenge with his own hand; upon which the conductor, drawing a pistol, declared to him that if he saw the least attempt to injure Capt. Lee, or any conduct which would lead him to suspect that his disguise was discovered, he would that moment shoot him through the head. The soldier put his hand upon his knife, with an ominous scowl upon his conductor; but he restrained himself.
“The next night they went on as usual, but the manner of their conductor showed that there was more danger than before; in fact, he explained to the party that they were now not far from the Delaware, and hoped to reach it before midnight. They occasionally heard the report of a musket, which seemed to indicate that some movement was going on in the country.
“When they came to the bank there were no traces of a boat on the waters. Their conductor stood still for a moment in dismay; but, recollecting himself, he said it was possible it might have been secured lower down the stream; and forgetting every thing else, he directed the larger soldier to accompany him. Giving a pistol to the other, he whispered, ’If the rebel officer attempts to betray us, shoot him; if not, you will not, for your own sake, make any noise to show where we are.’ In the same instant they departed, and Lee was left alone with the ruffian.
“He had before suspected that the fellow knew him, and now doubts were changed to certainty at once. Dark as it was, it seemed as if fire flashed from his eye, now he felt that revenge was within his power. Lee was as brave as any officer in the army; but he was unarmed; and though he was strong, his adversary was still more powerful. While he stood, uncertain what to do, the fellow seemed enjoying the prospect of revenge, as he looked on him with a steady eye. Though the officer stood to appearance unmoved, the
“The party of the armed countrymen, though they had succeeded in their attempt, and were sufficiently triumphant on the occasion, were sorely perplexed how to dispose of their prisoners. After some discussion, one of them proposed to throw the decision upon the wisdom of the nearest magistrate. They accordingly proceeded with their prisoners to his mansion, about two miles distant, and called upon him to rise and attend to business. A window was hastily thrown up, and the justice put forth his night-capped head, and with more wrath than became his dignity, ordered them off; and in requital for their calling him out of bed in the cold, generously wished them in the warmest place. However, resistance was vain: he was compelled to rise; and as soon as the prisoners were brought before him, he ordered them to be taken in irons to the prison at Philadelphia. Lee improved the opportunity to take the old gentleman aside, and told him who he was, and why he was thus disguised. The justice only interrupted him with the occasional inquiry, ‘Most done?’ When he had finished, the magistrate told him that his story was very well made, and told in a manner very creditable to his address; and that he should give it all the weight it seemed to require. And Lee’s remonstrances were unavailing.
“As soon as they were fairly lodged in the prison, Lee prevailed on the jailor to carry a note to Gen. Lincoln, informing him of his condition. The general received it as he was dressing in the morning, and immediately sent one of his aids to the jail. That officer could not believe his eyes that he saw Capt. Lee. His uniform, worn-out when he assumed it, was now hanging in rags about him; and he had not been shaved for a fortnight. He wished, very naturally, to improve his appearance before presenting himself before the secretary of war; but the orders were peremptory to bring him as he was. The general loved a joke full well: his laughter was hardly exceeded by the report of his own cannon; and long and loud did he laugh that day.
“When Capt. Lee returned to Lancaster, he immediately attempted to retrace the ground; and so accurate, under all the unfavourable circumstances, had been his investigation, that he brought to justice fifteen persons who had aided the escape of British prisoners. It is hardly necessary to say, to you who know the fate of revolutionary officers, that he received, for his hazardous and effectual service, no reward whatever.”
“A perilous adventure,” observed Warner, as Kinnison concluded his narrative.
“It was,” replied Davenport. “It seems rather strange how Capt. Lee could so disguise himself and impose upon the enemy. But he knew a thing or two more than common men, and I shouldn’t wonder.”
“The British had many useful friends in every part of the country, during the war, and were enabled to do many such deeds,” remarked Colson.
“Fill up, my friends, another glass of ale, and drink the health of Capt. Lee!” added Hand, rising. The company filled their glasses and drank the toast. The veterans were not as deep drinkers as their young and vigorous friends, and therefore they merely sipped their ale and sat it aside.
“Speaking of brave men,” observed Colson, “I suppose there is not one of the company who will doubt the bravery of Gen. Morgan, the hero of so many fields.”
“The man who does doubt it knows not what courage is,” remarked Ransom, taking another sip of the ale.
“Well, I’m going to tell you something about his bravery,” said Colson. “Men have different ideas of that particular thing.”
“This ‘thunderbolt of war,’ this ‘brave Morgan, who never knew fear,’ was, in camp, often wicked and very profane, but never a disbeliever in religion. He testified that himself. In his latter years General Morgan professed religion, and united himself with the Presbyterian church in Winchester, Va., under the pastoral care of the Rev. Dr. Hill, who preached in that house some forty years, and may now be occasionally heard on Loudon Street, Winchester. His last days were passed in that town; and while sinking to the grave, he related to his minister the experience of his soul. ‘People thought,’ said he, ’that Daniel Morgan never prayed;’—’People said old Morgan never was afraid;’—’People did not know.’ He then proceeded to relate in his blunt manner, among many other things, that the night they stormed Quebec, while waiting in the darkness and storm, with his men paraded, for the word ‘to advance,’ he felt unhappy; the enterprise appeared more than perilous; it seemed to him that nothing less than a miracle could bring them off safe from an encounter at such an amazing disadvantage. He stepped aside and kneeled by the side of a cannon—and then most fervently prayed that the Lord God Almighty would be his shield and defence, for nothing less than an almighty arm could protect him. He continued
[Illustration: GENERAL MORGAN.]
“We seldom hear of a man admitting that he was ever afraid,” observed Hand. “But the man who never knew fear must be possessed of a small degree of intelligence and no sense of responsibility; neither of which are creditable. Great generals, and soldiers, in all ages, have boasted of their freedom from dread under all circumstances. But it is a mere boast. Fear is natural and useful, and I have ever observed that the man of most fear is the man of most prudence and forecast.”
“Do you mean to say that the coward is the wisest man?” enquired Kinnison, in astonishment.
“Oh, no. A coward is one who will not grapple with danger when he meets it, but shrinks and flies. A man who is conscious of dangers to be met, and feels a distrust of his own power to meet them, is a different sort of person,” replied Hand.
“Well, that’s a very nice distinction,” remarked one of the young men.
“There’s truth in what he says, however,” said Ranson. “I have felt a fear of consequences many a time, yet I know that I am not a coward; for my conduct in the time of battle, and when death was hailing around me, proves it.”
“I can’t see any distinction between a coward and a man of many fears,” remarked Davenport; “though, of course, I don’t know enough of words to argue the point.”
“To make it clearer,” replied Hand, “I will assert that Washington was a man fearful of consequences, and some of those who refused to go to the aid of the heroes of Bunker Hill were cowards.”
“It’s all plain enough to me,” observed Colson. But the rest of the company, by shakes of the head and meditative looks, indicated that the distinction was not perceptible to their mental vision.
“Well now, my friends, I can tell you of a brave man who was not fearful enough to be prudent,” observed Colson. “I allude to Gen. Herkimer. No man can dispute his courage; and it is clear that if he had possessed more fear of Indian wiles, he would not have fallen into an ambuscade.”
“Will you tell us about the battle in which he fell?” enquired Hand.
“I was about to do so,” replied Colson. “Brig. Gen. Herkimer was the commander of the militia of Tryon County, N.Y., when news was received that St. Leger, with about 2,000 men, had invested Fort Schuyler. The General immediately issued a proclamation, calling out all the able-bodied men in the county, and appointed a place for their rendezvous and a time for them to be ready for marching to the relief of Fort Schuyler.
“Learning that Gen. Herkimer was approaching to the relief of the garrison, and not being disposed to receive him in his camp, St. Leger detached a body of Indians and tories, under Brant and Col. Butler, to watch his approach, and to intercept, if possible, his march. The surrounding country afforded every facility for the practice of the Indian mode of warfare. In the deep recesses of its forests they were secure from observation, and to them they could retreat in case they were defeated. Finding that the militia approached in a very careless manner, Butler determined to attack them by surprise. He selected a place well fitted for such an attack. A few miles from the fort there was a deep ravine sweeping toward the east in a semicircular form, and having a northern and southern direction. The bottom of this ravine was marshy, and the road along which the militia were marching crossed it by means of a log causeway. The ground thus partly enclosed by the ravine was elevated and level. Along the road, on each side of this height of land, Butler disposed his men.
“About ten o’clock on the morning of the 6th of August, 1777, the Tryon County militia arrived at this place without any suspicions of danger. The dark foliage of the forest trees, with a thick growth of underbrush, entirely concealed the enemy from their view. The advanced guard, with about two-thirds of the whole force, had gained the elevated ground, the baggage-wagons had descended into the ravine—Col. Fisher’s regiment was still on the east side—when the Indians arose, and with a dreadful yell poured a destructive fire upon them. The advanced guard was entirely cut off. Those who survived the first fire were immediately cut down with the tomahawk. The horror of the scene was increased by the personal appearance of the savages, who were almost naked and painted in a most hideous manner. They ran down each side, keeping up a constant fire, and united at the causeway; thus dividing the militia into two bodies. The rear regiment, after a feeble resistance, fled in confusion, and were pursued by the Indians. They suffered more severely than they would have done had they stood their ground, or advanced to the support of the main body in front.
“The latter course would have been attended with great loss, but might probably have been effected. The forward division had no alternative but to fight. Facing out in every direction, they sought shelter behind the trees and returned the fire of the enemy with spirit. In the beginning of the battle, the Indians, whenever they saw that a gun was fired from behind a tree, rushed up and tomahawked the person thus firing before he had time to reload his gun. To counteract this, two men were ordered to station themselves behind one tree, the one reserving his fire until the Indian ran up. In this way the Indians were made to suffer severely in return. The fighting had continued for some time, and the Indians had begun to give way, when Major Watson, a brother-in-law of Sir John Johnson, brought up a reinforcement, consisting of a detachment of Johnson’s Greens. The blood of the Germans boiled with indignation at the sight of these men. Many of the Greens were personally known to them. They had fled their country, and were now returned in arms to subdue it. Their presence under any circumstances would have kindled up the resentment of these militia; but coming up as they now did, in aid of a retreating foe, called into exercise the most bitter feelings of hostility. They fired upon them as they advanced, and then rushing from behind their covers, attacked them with their bayonets, and those who had none, with the butt end of their muskets. This contest was maintained, hand to hand, for nearly half an hour. The Greens made a manful resistance, but were finally obliged to give way before the dreadful fury of their assailants, with the loss of thirty killed upon the spot where they first entered. Major Watson was wounded and taken prisoner, though afterwards left upon the field.
“In this assault Col. Cox is said to have been killed; possessing an athletic frame, with a daring spirit, he mingled in the thickest of the fight. His voice could be distinctly heard, as he cheered on his men or issued his orders, amid the clashing of arms and the yells of the contending savages.
“About one o’clock, Adam Helmer, who had been sent by Gen. Herkimer with a letter to Col. Gansevoort, announcing his approach, arrived at the fort. At two o’clock, Lieut. Col. Willet, with 207 men, sallied from the fort for the purpose of making a diversion in favour Gen. Herkimer, and attacked the camp of the enemy. This engagement lasted about an hour, when the enemy were driven off with considerable loss. Col. Willet having thrown out flanking parties, and ascertained that the retreat was not feigned, ordered his men to take as much of the spoil as they could remove, and to destroy the remainder. On their return to the fort, above the landing, and near where the old French fort stood, a party of 200 regular troops appeared, and prepared to give battle. A smart fire of musketry, aided by the cannon from the fort, soon obliged them to retreat, when Willet returned into the fort with his spoil, and without the loss of a single man. A part of that spoil was placed upon the walls of the fortress, where it waved in triumph in sight of the vanquished enemy.
“This timely and well-conducted sally was attended with complete success. A shower of rain had already caused the enemy to slacken their fire, when finding by reports that their camp was attacked and taken, they withdrew and left the militia in possession of the field.
“The Americans lost in killed nearly 200, and about as many wounded and prisoners; they carried off between 40 and 50 of their wounded. They encamped the first night upon the ground where old Fort Schuyler was built.
“Among the wounded was Gen. Herkimer. Early in the action his leg was fractured by a musket-ball. The leg was amputated a few days after, but in consequence of the unfavourable state of the weather, and want of skill in his surgeons, mortification ensued, and occasioned his death. On receiving his wound, his horse having been killed, he directed his saddle to be placed upon a little hillock of earth and rested himself upon it. Being advised to choose a place where he would be less exposed, he replied, ‘I will face the enemy.’ Surrounded by a few men he continued to issue his orders with firmness. In this situation, and in the heat of the battle, he very deliberately took from his pocket his tinder-box and lit his pipe, which he smoked with great composure. He was certainly to blame for not using greater caution on his march, but the coolness and intrepidity which he exhibited when he found himself ambuscaded, aided materially in restoring order and in inspiring his men with courage. His loss was deeply lamented by his friends and by the inhabitants of Tryon County. The Continental Congress, in October following, directed that a monument should be erected to his memory, of the value of five hundred dollars. But no monument was ever erected.”
“I will face the enemy,” said Kinnison, repeating the words of the brave Herkimer.
“Heroic words. But the General should have possessed more prudence. He had lived long enough in the neighbourhood of the Indians to know their mode of warfare, and he should have sent out rangers to reconnoitre his route,” remarked Colson.
“However,” observed Kinnison, “the enemy didn’t get off whole-skinned. I have heard that they had more than 200 killed. It was a hard-fought battle, and considering all circumstances, no men could have behaved better than our militia did. You see, young men, after they recovered from the confusion of the first attack, they found they had no ammunition save what they had in their cartouch-boxes. Their baggage-wagons were in possession of the enemy, and they could get no water, which was in great demand in such warm weather. To fight five or six hours under such circumstances was certainly noble conduct.”
“Another point is to be taken into consideration. The enemy were much superior in numbers,” said Colson.
“Of course; that’s very important,” replied Ranson.
“I suppose there was little mercy shown by either party. There was too much hateful fury,” said Hand.
“You’re right,” remarked Colson. “Few tories received quarters from the militia, and fewer of the militia asked it of the tories.”
“Herkimer should have been more cautious. Though a brave soldier, we cannot consider him a good commander,” said Pitts.
“Nay, I think he was a good commander, friend Pitts,” replied Hanson. “He was cool-headed and skilful in the hottest battle; and because he neglected sending out scouts on one occasion, you should not conclude that imprudence was part of his character.”
“But a commander, acquainted with Indian warfare, as Herkimer was, must be considered imprudent if he neglects such a common precaution as sending out scouts,” observed Kinnison.
“Well, we won’t argue the matter now. It’s getting late, and we had better break our company,” said Warner.
“But first we’ll have a toast and a song,” replied Hand. “Fill your glasses, friends. Heaven knows if we may ever meet again; and your company has been too amusing and instructive for us to part suddenly.”
“The ale has made me feel very drowsy,” said Kinnison.
“But you may sip our toast. Gentlemen, this is the Fourth of July; and surely it becomes us, as Americans, to toast the memory of the men who, on this day, pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors for the support of our independence. I therefore propose, ’The memory of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. May the brightness of their fame endure as long as patriotism and the love of freedom burn in the breasts of mankind!’” exclaimed Hand. This was drunk standing, and a short silence ensued.
Hand now proposed that they should have a song, and remarked that he knew one appropriate to the occasion, which he would sing, if the old soldiers were not too weary to listen. Of course, they expressed it to be their pleasure that he should sing it, and he proceeded. “The song,” said he, “is called ‘The Last Revolutionary.’” The words were as follows:—
O! where are they—those
Who braved the battle’s storm of fire,
When war’s wild halo fill’d the glen,
And lit each humble village spire;
When hill sent back the sound to hill,
When might was right, and law was will!
O! where are they, whose manly
Beat back the pride of England’s might;
Whose stalwart arm laid low the crests
Of many an old and valiant knight;
When evening came with murderous flame,
And liberty was but a name?
I see them, in the distance,
Like spectres on a misty shore;
Before them rolls the dreadful storm,
And hills send forth their rills of gore;
Around them death with lightning breath
Is twining an immortal wreath.
They conquer! God of
They conquer! Freedom’s banner waves
Above Oppression’s broken ranks,
And withers o’er her children’s graves;
And loud and long the pealing song
Of Jubilee is borne along.
’Tis evening, and December’s
Goes swiftly down behind the wave,
And there I see a gray-haired one,
A special courier to the grave;
He looks around on vale and mound,
Then falls upon his battle-ground.
Beneath him rests the hallow’d
Now changed like him, and still and cold;
The blood that gave young freedom birth
No longer warms the warrior old;
He waves his hand with stern command,
Then dies, the last of Glory’s band.
“A very good song, but a very mournful subject,” observed Kinnison. “And now, friends, we’ll part.”
“The carriages are at the door,” said one of the young men, as the party arose and prepared to descend. The kindest and best wishes were exchanged between the old and young men; and over and over again were promises made to meet the next year, if possible. At length, the veterans were assisted to descend the stairs. When they reached the door, they found a crowd collected round it. The sound of the fife and drum had drawn these people there, and hearing that the survivors of the Tea-party were in the house, they had become very anxious to see them. As soon as the old men appeared, they jostled around them, and it was with much difficulty that they were safely placed in the carriages by their young friends. Hand and his comrades at last bade the veterans an affectionate farewell, and the carriages drove away amid cheers given by the crowd for “The Boston Tea-party.”