The Junior Classics
Part 5 out of 8
sentinel came up, and after a sharp fight got him back to prison.
For some time poor Trenck was in a sad condition. In his struggle
with the sentinel he had been wounded, while his right foot had
got crushed in the palisades. Besides this, he was watched far more
strictly than before, for an officer and two men remained always
in his cell, and two sentinels were stationed outside. The reason
of these precautions, of course, was to prevent his gaining over
his guards singly, either by pity or bribery. His courage sank to
its lowest ebb, as he was told on all sides that his imprisonment
was for life, whereas long after he discovered the real truth, that
the king's intention had been to keep him under arrest for a year
only, and if he had had a little more patience, three weeks would
have found him free. His repeated attempts to escape naturally
angered Frederic, while on the other hand the king knew nothing
of the fact which excused Trenck's impatience--namely, the belief
carefully instilled in him by all around him that he was doomed to
It is impossible to describe in detail all the plans made by Trenck
to regain his freedom; first because they were endless, and secondly
because several were nipped in the bud. Still, the unfortunate man
felt that as long as his money was not taken from him his case was
not hopeless, for the officers in command were generally poor and
in debt, and were always sent to garrison work as a punishment. After
one wild effort to liberate _all_ the prisoners in the fortress,
which was naturally discovered and frustrated, Trenck made friends
with an officer named Schell, lately arrived at Glatz, who promised not
only his aid but his company in the new enterprise. As more money
would be needed than Trenck had in his possession, he contrived
to apply to his rich relations outside the prison, and by some
means--what we are not told--they managed to convey a large sum to
him. Suspicion, however, got about that Trenck was on too familiar
a footing with the officers, and orders were given that his door
should always be kept locked. This occasioned further delay, as
false keys had secretly to be made before anything else could be
Their flight was unexpectedly hastened by Schell accidentally learning
that he was in danger of arrest. One night they crept unobserved
through the arsenal and over the inner palisade, but on reaching
the rampart they came face to face with two of the officers, and
again a leap into the fosse was the only way of escape. Luckily, the
wall at this point was not high, and Trenck arrived at the bottom
without injury; but Schell was not so happy, and hurt his foot so
badly that he called on his friend to kill him, and to make the
best of his way alone. Trenck, however, declined to abandon him,
and having dragged him over the outer palisade, took him on his
back, and made for the frontier. Before they had gone five hundred
yards, they heard the boom of the alarm guns from the fortress,
while clearer still were the sounds of pursuit. As they knew that
they would naturally be sought on the side toward Bohemia, they
changed their course and pushed on to the river Neiss, at this
season partly covered with ice. Trenck swam over slowly with his
friend on his back, and found a boat on the other side. By means
of this boat they evaded their enemies, and reached the mountains
after some hours, very hungry, and almost frozen to death.
Here a new terror awaited them. Some peasants with whom they took
refuge recognized Schell, and for a moment the fugitives gave
themselves up for lost. But the peasants took pity on the two
wretched objects, fed them and gave them shelter, till they could
make up their minds what was best to be done. To their unspeakable
dismay, they found that they were, after all, only seven miles from
Glatz, and that in the neighboring town of Wunschelburg a hundred
soldiers were quartered, with orders to capture all deserters from
the fortress. This time, however, fortune favored the luckless
Trenck, and though he and Schell were both in uniform, they rode
unobserved through the village while the rest of the people were at
church, and, skirting Wunschelburg, crossed the Bohemian frontier
in the course of the day.
Then follows a period of comparative calm in Trenck's history. He
travelled freely about Poland, Austria, Russia, Sweden, Denmark
and Holland, and even ventured occasionally across the border into
Prussia. Twelve years seem to have passed by in this manner, till,
in 1758, his mother died, and Trenck asked leave of the council
of war to go up to Dantzic to see his family and to arrange his
affairs. Curiously enough, it appears never to have occurred to
him that he was a deserter, and as such liable to be arrested at
any moment. And this was what actually happened. By order of the
king, Trenck was taken first to Berlin, where he was deprived of
his money and some valuable rings, and then removed to Magdeburg,
of which place Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick was the governor.
Here his quarters were worse than he had ever known them. His
cell was only six feet by ten, and the window was high, with bars
without as well as within. The wall was seven feet thick, and beyond
it was a palisade, which rendered it impossible for the sentinels
to approach the window. On the other side the prisoner was shut
in by three doors, and his food (which was not only bad, but very
scanty) was passed to him through an opening.
One thing only was in his favor. His cell was only entered once
a week, so he could pursue any work to further his escape without
much danger of being discovered. Notwithstanding the high window,
the thick wall, and the palisade--notwithstanding, too, his want
of money--he soon managed to open negotiations with the sentinels,
and found, to his great joy, that the next cell was empty. If he
could only contrive to burrow his way into that, he would be able
to watch his opportunity to steal through the open door; once
free, he could either swim the Elbe and cross into Saxony, which
lay about six miles distant, or else float down the river in a boat
till he was out of danger.
Small as the cell was, it contained a sort of cupboard, fixed
into the floor by irons, and on these Trenck began to work. After
frightful labor, he at last extracted the heavy nails which fastened
the staples to the floor, and breaking off the heads (which he put
back to avoid detection), he kept the rest to fashion for his own
purposes. By this means he made instruments to raise the bricks.
On this side also the wall was seven feet thick, and formed of bricks
and stones. Trenck numbered them as he went on with the greatest
care, so that the cell might present its usual appearance before
the Wednesday visit of his guards. To hide the joins, he scraped
off some of the mortar, which he smeared over the place.
As may be supposed, all this took a very long time. He had nothing
to work with but the tools he himself had made, which, of course,
were very rough. But one day a friendly sentinel gave him a little
iron rod and a small knife with a wooden handle. These were treasures
indeed! And with their help he worked away for six months at his
hole, as in some places the mortar had become so hard that it had
to be pounded like a stone.
During this time he enlisted the compassion of some of the other
sentinels, who not only described to him the lay of the country
which he would have to traverse if he ever succeeded in getting
out of prison, but interested in his behalf a Jewess named Esther
Heymann, whose own father had been for two years a prisoner in
Magdeburg. In this manner Trenck became the possessor of a file,
a knife, and some writing paper, as the friendly Jewess had agreed
to convey letters to some influential people, both at Vienna and
Berlin, and also to his sister. But this step led to the ruin,
not only of Trenck, but of several persons concerned, for they were
betrayed by an imperial secretary of embassy called Weingarten, who
was tempted by a bill for 20,000 florins. Many of those guilty of
abetting Trenck in this fresh effort to escape were put to death,
while his sister was ordered to build a new prison for him in the
Fort de l'Etoile, and he himself was destined to pass nine more
years in chains.
In spite of his fetters, Trenck was able in some miraculous way
to get on with his hole, but his long labor was rendered useless
by the circumstance that his new prison was finished sooner than
he expected, and he was removed into it hastily, being only able
to conceal his knife. He was now chained even more heavily than
before, his two feet being attached to a heavy ring fixed in the
wall, another ring being fastened round his body. From this ring
was suspended a chain with a thick iron bar, two feet long at the
bottom, and to this his hands were fastened. An iron collar was
afterward added to his instruments of torture.
Besides torments of body, nothing was wanting which could work on
his mind. His prison was built between the trenches of the principal
rampart, and was of course very dark. It was likewise very damp,
and, to crown all, the name of "Trenck" had been printed in red
bricks on the wall, above a tomb whose place was indicated by a
Here again, he tells us, he excited the pity of his guards, who
gave him a bed and coverlet, and as much bread as he chose to eat;
and, wonderful as it may seem, his health did not suffer from all
these horrors. As soon as he got a little accustomed to his cramped
position, he began to use the knife he had left, and to cut through
his chains. He next burst the iron band, and after a long time
severed his leg fetters, but in such a way that he could put them
on again and no one be any the wiser. Nothing is more common in
the history of prisoners than this exploit, and nothing is more
astonishing, yet we meet with the fact again and again in their memoirs
and biographies. Trenck at any rate appears to have accomplished
the feat without much difficulty, though he found it very hard,
to get his hand back into his handcuffs. After he had disposed of
his bonds, he began to saw at the doors leading to the gallery.
These were four in number, and all of wood, but when he arrived at
the fourth, his knife broke in two, and the courage that had upheld
him for so many years gave away. He opened his veins and lay down
to die, when in his despair he heard the voice of Gefhardt, the
friendly sentinel from the other prison. Hearing of Trenck's sad
plight, he scaled the palisade, and, we are told expressly, bound
up his wounds, though we are _not_ told how he managed to enter
the cell. Be that as it may, the next day, when the guards came
to open the door, they found Trenck ready to meet them, armed with
a brick in one hand, and a knife, doubtless obtained from Gefhardt,
in the other. The first man that approached him, he stretched
wounded at his feet, and thinking it dangerous to irritate further
a desperate man, they made a compromise with him. The governor took
off his chains for a time, and gave him strong soup and fresh linen.
Then, after a while, new doors were put to his cell, the inner door
being lined with plates of iron, and he himself was fastened with
stronger chains than those he had burst through.
For all this the watch must have been very lax, as Gefhardt soon
contrived to open communication with him again, and letters were
passed through the window (to which the prisoner had made a false
and movable frame) and forwarded to Trenck's rich friends. His
appeal was always answered promptly and amply. More valuable than
money were two files, also procured from Gefhardt, and by their
means the new chains were speedily cut through, though, as before,
without any apparent break. Having freed his limbs, he began to
saw through the floor of his cell, which was of wood. Underneath,
instead of hard rock, there was sand, which Trenck scooped out with
his hands. This earth was passed through the window to Gefhardt,
who removed it when he was on guard, and gave his friend pistols,
a bayonet, and knives to assist him when he had finally made his
All seemed going smoothly. The foundations of the prison were only
four feet deep, and Trenck's tunnel had reached a considerable
distance when everything was again spoiled. A letter written by
Trenck to Vienna fell into the hands of the governor, owing to some
stupidity on the part of Gefhardt's wife, who had been intrusted
to deliver it. The letter does not seem to have contained any
special disclosure of his plan of escape, as the governor, who
was still Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, could find nothing wrong in
Trenck's cell except the false window-frame. The cut chains, though
examined, somehow escaped detection, from which we gather either
that the officials were very careless, or the carpenter very stupid.
Perhaps both may have been the case, for as the Seven Years' War
(against Austria) was at this time raging, sentinels and officers
were frequently changed, and prison discipline insensibly relaxed.
Had this not been so, Trenck could never have been able to labor
unseen, but as it was, he was merely deprived of his bed, as a
punishment for tampering with the window.
As soon as he had recovered from his fright and an illness which
followed, he returned to his digging.
It was necessary for him to bore under the subterranean gallery of
the principal rampart, which was a distance of thirty-seven feet,
and to get outside the foundation of the rampart. Beyond that was
a door leading to the second rampart. Trenck was forced to work
almost naked, for fear of raising the suspicions of the officials
by his dirty clothes, but in spite of all his precautions and the
wilful blindness of his guards, who as usual were on his side, all
was at length discovered. His hole was filled up, and a year's work
The next torture invented for him was worse than any that had gone
before. He was visited and awakened every quarter of an hour, in
order that he might not set to work in the night. This lasted for
four years, during part of which time Trenck employed himself in
writing verses and making drawings on his tin cups, after the manner
of all prisoners, and in writing books with his blood, as ink was
forbidden. We are again left in ignorance as to how he got paper.
He also began to scoop out another hole, but was discovered afresh,
though nothing particular seems to have been done to him, partly
owing to the kindness of the new governor, who soon afterward died.
It had been arranged by his friends that for the space of one year
horses should be ready for him at a certain place on the first and
fifteenth of every month. Inspired by this thought, he turned to
his burrowing with renewed vigor, and worked away at every moment
when he thought he could do so unseen. One day, however, when he
had reached some distance, he dislodged a large stone which blocked
up the opening toward his cell. His terror was frightful. Not only
was the air suffocating, and the darkness dreadful, but he knew
that if any of the guards were unexpectedly to come into his cell,
the opening must be discovered, and all his toil again lost. For
eight hours he stayed in the tunnel paralyzed by fear. Then he
roused himself, and by dint of superhuman struggles managed to open
a passage on one side of the stone, and to reach his cell, which
for once appeared to him as a haven of rest.
Soon after this the war ended with the Peace of Paris (1763), and
Trenck's hopes of release seemed likely to be realized. He procured
money from his friends, and bribed the Austrian ambassador in Berlin
to open negotiations on his behalf, and while these were impending
he rested from his labors for three whole months. Suddenly he was
possessed by an idea which was little less than madness. He bribed
a major to ask for a visit from Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, again
Governor of Magdeburg, offering to disclose his passage, and to
reveal all his plans of escape, on condition that the duke would
promise to plead for him with the king. This message never reached
the duke himself, but some officers arrived ostensibly sent by him,
but in reality tools of the major's. They listened to all he had
to say, and saw all he had to show, then broke their word, filled
up the passage, and redoubled the chains and the watch.
Notwithstanding this terrible blow, Trenck's trials were drawing
to an end. Whether Frederic's heart was softened by his brilliant
victories, or whether Trenck's influential friends succeeded in
making themselves heard, we do not know, but six months later he
was set free, on condition that he never tried to revenge himself
on any one, and that he never again should cross the frontiers of
Saxony or Prussia.
A WHITE BOY AMONG THE INDIANS, AS TOLD BY HIMSELF
By John Tanner
The earliest event of my life which I distinctly remember (says
John Tanner) is the death of my mother. This happened when I was
two years old, and many of the attending circumstances made so deep
an impression that they are still fresh in my memory. I cannot
recollect the name of the settlement at which we lived, but I
have since learned it was on the Kentucky River, at a considerable
distance from the Ohio.
My father, whose name was John Tanner, was an emigrant from Virginia,
and had been a clergyman.
When about to start one morning to a village at some distance, he
gave, as it appeared, a strict charge to my sisters, Agatha and
Lucy, to send me to school; but this they neglected to do until
afternoon, and then, as the weather was rainy and unpleasant, I
insisted on remaining at home. When my father returned at night,
and found that I had been at home all day, he sent me for a parcel
of small canes, and flogged me much more severely than I could
suppose the offence merited. I was displeased with my sisters for
attributing all the blame to me, when they had neglected even to
tell me to go to school in the forenoon. From that time, my father's
house was less like home to me, and I often thought and said, "I
wish I could go and live among the Indians."
One day we went from Cincinnati to the mouth of the Big Miami,
opposite which we were to settle. Here was some cleared land, and
one or two log cabins, but they had been deserted on account of
the Indians. My father rebuilt the cabins, and inclosed them with
a strong picket. It was early in the spring when we arrived at
the mouth of the Big Miami, and we were soon engaged in preparing
a field to plant corn. I think it was not more than ten days after
our arrival, when my father told us in the morning, that, from
the actions of the horses, he perceived there were Indians lurking
about in the woods, and he said to me, "John, you must not go out
of the house to-day." After giving strict charge to my stepmother
to let none of the little children go out, he went to the field,
with the negroes, and my elder brother, to sow corn.
Three little children, besides myself, were left in the house
with my stepmother. To prevent me from going out, my stepmother
required me to take care of the little child, then not more than
a few months old; but as I soon became impatient of confinement
I began to pinch my little brother, to make him cry. My mother,
perceiving his uneasiness, told me to take him in my arms and walk
about the house; I did so, but continued to pinch him. My mother
at length took him from me to nurse him. I patched my opportunity
and escaped into the yard; thence through a small door in the large
gate of the wall into the open field. There was a walnut-tree at
some distance from the house, and near the side of the field where
I had been in the habit of finding some of last year's nuts. To gain
this tree without being seen by my father and those in the field,
I had to use some precaution. I remember perfectly well having seen
my father as I skulked toward the tree; he stood in the middle of
the field, with his gun in his hand, to watch for Indians, while
the others were sowing corn. As I came near the tree, I thought
to myself, "I wish I could see these Indians. "I had partly filled
with nuts a straw hat which I wore, when I heard a crackling noise
behind me; I looked round, and saw the Indians; almost at the same
instant, I was seized by both hands, and dragged off between two.
One of them took my straw hat, emptied the nuts on the ground,
and put it on my head. The Indians who seized me were an old and a
young one; these, as I learned subsequently, were Manito-o-geezhik,
and his son Kish-kau-ko.
After I saw myself firmly seized by both wrists by the two Indians,
I was not conscious of anything that passed for a considerable
time. I must have fainted, as I did not cry out, and I can remember
nothing that happened to me until they threw me over a large log,
which must have been at a considerable distance from the house. The
old man I did not now see; I was, dragged along between Kish-kau-ko
and a very short thick man. I had probably made some resistance,
or done something to irritate this latter, for he took me a little
to one side, and drawing his tomahawk, motioned to me to look up.
This I plainly understood, from the expression of his face, and
his manner, to be a direction for me to look up for the last time,
as he was about to kill me. I did as he directed, but Kish-kau-ko
caught his hand as the tomahawk was descending, and prevented him
from burying it in my brains. Loud talking ensued between the two.
Kish-kau-ko presently raised a yell: the old man and four others
answered it by a similar yell, and came running up. I have since
understood that Kish-kau-ko complained to his father that the short
man had made an attempt to kill his little brother, as he called
me. The old chief, after reproving the short man, took me by one
hand, and Kish-kau-ko took me by the other and thus they dragged
me between them, the man who threatened to kill me, and who was
now an object of terror to me, being kept at some distance. I could
perceive, as I retarded them somewhat in their retreat, that they
were apprehensive of being overtaken; some of them were always at
some distance from us.
It was about one mile from my father's house to the place where
they threw me into a hickory-bark canoe, which was concealed under
the bushes, on the bank of the river. Into this they all seven jumped,
and immediately crossed the Ohio, landing at the mouth of the Big
Miami, and on the south side of that river. Here they abandoned
their canoe, and stuck their paddles in the ground, so that they
could be seen from the river. At a little distance in the woods
they had some blankets and provisions concealed; they offered me
some dry venison and bear's grease, but I could not eat. My father's
house was plainly to be seen from the place where we stood; they
pointed at it, looked at me, and laughed, but I have never known
what they said.
After they had eaten a little, they began to ascend the Miami,
dragging me along as before.
It must have been early in the spring when we arrived at Sau-ge-nong,
for I can remember that at this time the leaves were small, and
the Indians were about planting their corn. They managed to make
me assist at their labors, partly by signs, and partly by the few
words of English old Manito-o-geezhik could speak. After planting,
they all left the village, and went out to hunt and dry meat. When
they came to their hunting-grounds, they chose a place where many
deer resorted, and here they began to build a long screen like a
fence; this they made of green boughs and small trees. When they
had built a part of it, they showed me how to remove the leaves and
dry brush from that side of it to which the Indians were to come
to shoot the deer. In this labor I was sometimes assisted by the
squaws and children, but at other times I was left alone. It now
began to be warm weather, and it happened one day that, having been
left alone, as I was tired and thirsty, I fell asleep. I cannot
tell how long I slept, but when I began to awake, I thought I heard
someone crying a great way off. Then I tried to raise up my head,
but could not. Being now more awake, I saw my Indian mother and
sister standing by me, and perceived that my face and head were
wet. The old woman and her daughter were crying bitterly, but it
was some time before I perceived that my head was badly cut and
bruised. It appears that, after I had fallen asleep, Manito-o-geezhik,
passing that way, had perceived me, had tomahawked me, and thrown
me in the bushes; and that when he came to his camp he had said to
his wife, "Old woman, the boy I brought you is good for nothing; I
have killed him; you will find him in such a place." The old woman
and her daughter having found me, discovered still some signs of
life, and had stood over me a long time, crying, and pouring cold
water on my head, when I waked. In a few days I recovered in some
measure from this hurt, and was again set to work at the screen,
but I was more careful not to fall asleep; I endeavored to assist
them at their labors, and to comply in all instances with their
directions, but I was notwithstanding treated with great harshness,
particularly by the old man and his two sons She-mung and Kwo-tash-e.
While we remained at the hunting camp, one of them put a bridle in
my hand, and pointing in a certain direction motioned me to go. I
went accordingly, supposing he wished me to bring a horse: I went
and caught the first I could find, and in this way I learned to
discharge such services as they required of me.
I had been about two years at Sau-ge-nong, when a great council was
called by the British agents at Mackinac. This council was attended
by the Sioux, the Winnebagoes, the Menomonees, and many remote
tribes, as well as by the Ojibbeways, Ottawwaws, etc. When old
Manito-o-geezhik returned from this council, I soon learned that
he had met there his kinswoman, Net-no-kwa, who, notwithstanding
her sex, was then regarded as principal chief of the Ottawwaws.
This woman had lost her son, of about my age, by death; and, having
heard of me, she wished to purchase me to supply his place. My old
Indian mother, the Otter woman, when she heard of this, protested
vehemently against it. I heard her say, "My son has been dead once,
and has been restored to me; I cannot lose him again." But these
remonstrances had little influence when Net-no-kwa arrived with
plenty of presents. She brought to the lodge first blankets, tobacco,
and other articles of great value. She was perfectly acquainted
with the dispositions of those with whom she had to negotiate.
Objections were made to the exchange until a few more presents
completed the bargain, and I was transferred to Net-no-kwa. This
woman, who was then advanced in years, was of a more pleasing
aspect than my former mother. She took me by the hand, after she
had completed the negotiation with my former possessors, and led
me to her own lodge, which stood near. Here I soon found I was to
be treated more indulgently than I had been. She gave me plenty
of food, put good clothes upon me, and told me to go and play with
her own sons. We remained but a short time at Sau-ge-nong. She
would not stop with me at Mackinac, which we passed in the night,
but ran along to Point St. Ignace, where she hired some Indians
to take care of me, while she returned to Mackinac by herself, or
with one or two of her young men. After finishing her business at
Mackinac, she returned, and, continuing on our journey, we arrived
in a few days at Shab-a-wy-wy-a-gun.
The husband of Net-no-kwa was an Ojibbeway of Red River, called
Taw-ga-we-ninne, the hunter. He was always indulgent and kind to
me, treating me like an equal, rather than as a dependent. When
speaking to me, he always called me his son. Indeed, he himself was
but of secondary importance in the family, as everything belonged
to Net-no-kwa. and she had the direction in all affairs of any
moment. She imposed on me, for the first year, some tasks. She
made me cut wood, bring home game, bring water, and perform other
services not commonly required of boys of my age; but she treated
me invariably with so much kindness that I was far more happy and
content than I had been in the family of Manito-o-geezhik. She
sometimes whipped me, as she did her own children: but I was not
so severely and frequently beaten as I had been before.
Early in the spring, Net-no-kwa and her husband, with their family,
started to go to Mackinac. They left me, as they had done before,
at Point St. Ignace, as they would not run the risk of losing me
by suffering me to be seen at Mackinac. On our return, after we had
gone twenty-five or thirty miles from Point St. Ignace, we were
detained by contrary winds at a place called Me-nau-ko-king, a
point running out into the lake. Here we encamped with some other
Indians, and a party of traders. Pigeons were very numerous in the
woods, and the boys of my age, and the traders, were busy shooting
them. I had never killed any game, and, indeed, had never in my
life discharged a gun. My mother had purchased at Mackinac a keg
of powder, which, as they thought it a little damp, was here spread
out to dry. Taw-ga-we-ninne had a large horseman's pistol; and,
finding myself somewhat emboldened by his indulgent manner toward
me, I requested permission to go and try to kill some pigeons with
the pistol. My request was seconded by Net-no-kwa, who said, "It
is time for our son to begin to learn to be a hunter." Accordingly,
my father, as I called Taw-ga-we-ninne, loaded the pistol and gave
it to me, saying, "Go, my son, and if you kill anything with this,
you shall immediately have a gun and learn to hunt." Since I have
been a man, I have been placed in difficult stations; but my anxiety
for success was never greater than in this, my first essay as a
hunter. I had not gone far from the camp before I met with pigeons,
and some of them alighted in the bushes very near me. I cocked my
pistol, and raised it to my face, bringing the breech almost in
contact with my nose. Having brought the sight to bear upon the
pigeon, I pulled trigger, and was in the next instant sensible of a
humming noise, like that of a stone sent swiftly through the air.
I found the pistol at the distance of some paces behind me, and
the pigeon under the tree on which he had been sitting. My face
was much bruised, and covered with blood. I ran home, carrying
my pigeon in triumph. My face was speedily bound up; my pistol
exchanged for a fowling-piece; I was accoutred with a powder-horn,
and furnished with shot, and allowed to go out after birds. One of
the young Indians went with me, to observe my manner of shooting.
I killed three more pigeons in the course of the afternoon, and did
not discharge my gun once without killing. Henceforth I began to
be treated with more consideration, and was allowed to hunt often,
that I might become expert.
Game began to be scarce, and we all suffered from hunger. The
chief man of our band was called As-sin-ne-boi-nainse (the Little
Assinneboin), and he now proposed to us all to move, as the country
where we were was exhausted. The day on which we were to commence
our removal was fixed upon, but before it arrived our necessities
became extreme. The evening before the day on which we intended to
move my mother talked much of all our misfortunes and losses, as
well as of the urgent distress under which we were then laboring.
At the usual hour I went to sleep, as did all the younger part of
the family; but I was wakened again by the loud praying and singing
of the old woman, who continued her devotions through a great part
of the night. Very early on the following morning she called us all
to get up, and put on our moccasins, and be ready to move. She then
called Wa-me-gon-a-biew to her, and said to him in rather a low
voice: "My son, last night I sung and prayed to the Great Spirit,
and when I slept there come to me one like a man, and said to me,
'Net-no-kwa, to-morrow you shall eat a bear. There is, at a distance
from the path you are to travel to-morrow, and in such a direction'
(which she described to him), 'a small round meadow, with something
like a path leading from it; in that path there is a bear.' Now,
my son, I wish you to go to that place, without mentioning to any
one what I have said, and you will certainly find the bear, as I
have described to you." But the young man, who was not particularly
dutiful, or apt to regard what his mother said, going out of the
lodge, spoke sneeringly to the other Indians of the dream. "The
old woman," said he, "tells me we are to eat a bear to-day; but I
do not know who is to kill it." The old woman, hearing him, called
him in, and reproved him; but she could not prevail upon him to go
I had my gun with me, and I continued to think of the conversation
I had heard between my mother and Wa-me-gon-a-biew respecting her
dream. At length I resolved to go in search of the place she had
spoken of, and without mentioning to any one my design, I loaded
my gun as for a bear, and set off on our back track. I soon met
a woman belonging to one of the brothers of Taw-ga-we-ninne, and
of course my aunt. This woman had shown little friendship for us,
considering us as a burden upon her husband, who sometimes gave
something for our support; she had also often ridiculed me. She
asked me immediately what I was doing on the path, and whether
I expected to kill Indians, that I came there with my gun. I made
her no answer; and thinking I must be not far from the place where
my mother had told Wa-me-gon-a-biew to leave the path, I turned off,
continuing carefully to regard all the directions she had given.
At length I found what appeared at some former time to have been
a pond. It was a small, round, open place in the woods, now grown
up with grass and small bushes. This I thought must be the meadow
my mother had spoken of; and examining around it, I came to an open
space in the bushes, where, it is probable, a small brook ran from
the meadow; but the snow was now so deep that I could see nothing
of it. My mother had mentioned that, when she saw the bear in her
dream, she had, at the same time, seen a smoke rising from the
ground. I was confident this was the place she had indicated, and
I watched long, expecting to see the smoke; but, wearied at length
with waiting, I walked a few paces into the open place, resembling
a path, when I unexpectedly fell up to my middle in the snow, I
extricated myself without difficulty, and walked on; but, remembering
that I had heard the Indians speak of killing bears in their holes,
it occurred to me that it might be a bear's hole into which I had
fallen and, looking down into it, I saw the head of a bear lying
close to the bottom of the hole. I placed the muzzle of my gun
nearly between his eyes and discharged it. As soon as the smoke
cleared away, I took a piece of stick and thrust it into the eyes
and into the wound in the head of the bear, and, being satisfied
that he was dead, I endeavored to lift him out of the hole; but
being unable to do this, I returned home, following the track I
had made in coming out. As I came near the camp, where the squaws
had by this time set up the lodges, I met the same woman I had
seen in going out, and she immediately began again to ridicule me.
"Have you killed a bear, that you come back so soon, and walk so
fast?" I thought to myself, "How does she know that I have killed
a bear?" But I passed by her without saying anything, and went into
my mother's lodge. After a few minutes, the old woman said, "My
son, look in that kettle, and you will find a mouthful of beaver
meat, which a man gave me since you left us in the morning. You
must leave half of it for Wa-me-gon-a-biew, who has not yet returned
from hunting, and has eaten nothing to-day. "I accordingly ate the
beaver meat, and when I had finished it, observing an opportunity
when she stood by herself, I stepped up to her, and whispered in her
ear, "My mother, I have killed a bear." "What do you say, my son?"
said she. "I have killed a bear." "Are you sure you have killed
him?" "Yes." "Is he quite dead?" "Yes." She watched my face for
a moment, and then caught me in her arms, hugging and kissing me
with great earnestness, and for a long time. I then told her what
my aunt had said to me, both going and returning, and this being
told to her husband when he returned, he not only reproved her for
it, but gave her a severe flogging. The bear was sent for, and,
as being the first I had killed, was cooked all together, and the
hunters of the whole band invited to feast with us, according to
the custom of the Indians. The same day one of the Crees killed a
bear and a moose, and gave a large share of the meat to my mother.
One winter I hunted for a trader called by the Indians Aneeb, which
means an elm tree. As the winter advanced, and the weather became
more and more cold, I found it difficult to procure as much game
as I had been in the habit of supplying, and as was wanted by the
trader. Early one morning, about mid-winter, I started an elk.
I pursued until night, and had almost overtaken him; but hope and
strength failed me at the same time. What clothing I had on me,
notwithstanding the extreme coldness of the weather, was drenched
with sweat. It was not long after I turned toward home that I
felt it stiffening about me. My leggings were of cloth, and were
torn in pieces in running through the bush. I was conscious I was
somewhat frozen before I arrived at the place where I had left our
lodge standing in the morning, and it was now midnight. I knew it
had been the old woman's intention to move, and I knew where she
would go; but I had not been informed she would go on that day. As
I followed on their path, I soon ceased to suffer from cold, and
felt that sleepy sensation which I knew preceded the last stage of
weakness in such as die of cold. I redoubled my efforts, but with
an entire consciousness of the danger of my situation; it was with
no small difficulty that I could prevent myself from lying down.
At length I lost all consciousness for some time, how long I cannot
tell, and, awaking as from a dream, I found I had been walking round
and round in a small circle not more than twenty or twenty-five
yards over. After the return of my senses, I looked about to try
to discover my path, as I had missed it; but, while I was looking,
I discovered a light at a distance, by which I directed my course.
Once more, before I reached the lodge, I lost my senses; but I did
not fall down; if I had, I should never have gotten up again; but
I ran round and round in a circle as before. When I at last came
into the lodge, I immediately fell down, but I did not lose myself
as before. I can remember seeing the thick and sparkling coat of
frost on the inside of the pukkwi lodge, and hearing my mother say
that she had kept a large fire in expectation of my arrival; and
that she had not thought I should have been so long gone in the
morning, but that I should have known long before night of her
having moved. It was a month before I was able to go out again, my
face, hands, and legs having been much frozen.
After many dangerous and disagreeable experiences, John Tanner,
when almost an old man, came back to the whites to tell his history,
which, as he could not write, was taken down at his dictation.
EVANGELINE OF ACADIA
By Henry W. Longfellow
More than two hundred years ago there lived in Acadia, as Nova
Scotia was then called, a beautiful maiden named Evangeline. Benedict
Bellefontaine, Evangeline's father, was the wealthiest farmer in
the neighborhood. His goodly acres were somewhat apart from the
little village of Grand-Pré, but near enough for Evangeline not to
The people of Grand-Pré were simple and kindly, and dwelt together
in the love of God and man. They had neither locks to their doors
nor bars to their windows; visitors were always welcome, and all
gave of their best to whoever might come.
The house of Benedict Bellefontaine, firmly builded with rafters
of oak, was on a hill commanding the sea. The barns stood toward
the north, shielding the house from storms. They were bursting with
hay and corn, and were so numerous as to form almost a village by
themselves. The horses, the cattle, the sheep and the poultry were
all well-fed and well cared for. At Benedict Bellefontaine's there
was comfort and plenty. The men and the maids never grumbled. All
men were equal, all were brothers and sisters. In Acadia the richest
man was poor, but the poorest lived in abundance.
Evangeline was her father's housekeeper; her mother was dead. Benedict
was seventy years old, but he was hale and hearty and managed his
prosperous farm himself. His hair was as white as snow and his face
was as brown as oak leaves. Evangeline's hair was dark brown and
her eyes were black. She was the loveliest girl in Grand-Pré and
many a lad was in love with her.
Among all Evangeline's suitors only one was welcome, and he was Gabriel
Lajeunesse, son of Basil the blacksmith. Gabriel and Evangeline had
grown up together like brother and sister. The priest had taught
them their letters out of the selfsame book, and together they
had learned their hymns and their verses. Together they had watched
Basil at his forge and with wondering eyes had seen him handle
the hoof of a horse as easily as a plaything, taking it into his
lap and nailing on the shoe. Together they had ridden on sledges
in winter and hunted birds' nests in summer, seeking eagerly that
marvellous stone which the swallow is said to bring from the shore
of the sea to restore the sight of its fledglings. Lucky is he who
finds that stone!
And now they were man and woman. Benedict and Basil were old friends
and they desired the marriage of the children. They were ready to
marry. The young men of the village had built them a house and a
barn. The barn was filled with hay and the house was stored with
food enough to last a year.
One beautiful evening in Indian summer Evangeline and Gabriel were
Benedict was sitting in-doors by the wide-mouthed fireplace singing
fragments of songs such as his fathers before him had sung in their
orchards in sunny France, and Evangeline was close beside him at
her wheel industriously spinning flax for her loom. Up-stairs there
was a chest filled with strong white linen which Evangeline would
take to her new home. Every thread of it had been spun and woven
by the maiden.
As they sat by the fireside, footsteps were heard, and the wooden
latch was suddenly lifted. Benedict knew by the hob-nailed shoes
that it was Basil the blacksmith, and Evangeline knew by her beating
heart that Gabriel was with him.
"Welcome," said Benedict the farmer, "welcome, Basil, my friend.
Come and take thy place on the settle close by the chimney-side.
Take thy pipe and the box of tobacco from the shelf overhead. Never
art thou so much thyself as when through the curling smoke of the
pipe or the forge thy friendly and jovial face gleams as round and
red as the harvest moon through the mist of the marshes."
"Benedict Bellefontaine, thou art always joking. Thou art cheerful
even when others are grave and anxious," answered Basil.
He paused to take the pipe which Evangeline was handing him, and
lighted it with a coal from the embers.
"For four days the English ships have ridden at their anchors in
the Gaspereau's mouth, and their cannon are pointed against us.
What they are here for we do not know, but we are all commanded to
meet in church to-morrow to hear his Majesty's will proclaimed as
law in the land. Alas! in the meantime the hearts of the people
are full of fears of evil," continued the blacksmith.
"Perhaps some friendly purpose brings these ships to our shores,"
replied the farmer. "Perhaps the harvests in England have been
blighted and they have come to buy our grain and hay."
"The people in the village do not think so," said Basil, gravely
shaking his head. "They remember that the English are our enemies.
Some have fled already to the forest, and lurk on its outskirts
waiting anxiously to hear to-morrow's news. If the news is not to
be bad why have our weapons been taken from us? Only the blacksmith's
sledge and the scythes of the mowers have been left."
"We are safer unarmed," answered the cheerful farmer, who as usual
made the best of everything. "What can harm us here in the midst
of our flocks and our corn-fields? Fear no evil, my friend, and,
above all, may no shadow fall on this house and hearth to-night. It
is the night of the contract. René Leblanc will be here presently
with his papers and inkhorn. Shall we not be glad and rejoice in
the happiness of our children?"
Evangeline and her lover were standing by the window. They heard
the words of the farmer and the maiden blushed. Hardly had he spoken
when the worthy notary entered the room.
René Leblanc was bent with age. His hair was yellow, his forehead
was high, and he looked very wise, with his great spectacles sitting
astride on his nose. He was the father of twenty children, and more
than a hundred grandchildren rode on his knee. All children loved
him for he could tell them wonderful fairy tales and strange stories
of the forest. He told them of the goblins that came at night to
water the horses, of how the oxen talked in their stalls on Christmas
Eve, of how a spider shut up in a nutshell could cure the fever, and
of the marvellous powers possessed by horse shoes and four-leaved
clover. He knew more strange things than twenty other men.
As soon as Basil saw the notary he asked him about the English
"Father Leblanc, thou hast heard the talk of the village. Perhaps,
thou canst tell us something about the ships and their errand."
"I have heard enough talk," answered the notary, "but I am none
the wiser. Yet I am not one of those who think that the ships are
here to do us evil. We are at peace and, why then, should they harm
"Must we in all things look for the how and the why and wherefore?"
shouted the hasty and somewhat excitable blacksmith. "Injustice is
often done and might is the right of the strongest."
"Man is unjust," replied the notary, "but God is just, and finally
justice triumphs. I remember a story that has often consoled me
when things have seemed to be going wrong.
"Once in an ancient city, whose name I have forgotten, there stood
high on a marble column, in the public square, a brazen statue
of Justice holding her scales in her left hand and a sword in her
right. This meant that justice reigned over the land and in the
hearts and the homes of the people. Yet in the course of time the
laws of the land were corrupted and might took the place of right,
the weak were oppressed, and the mighty ruled with a rod of iron.
By and by, birds built their nests in the scales of Justice; they
were not afraid of the sword that flashed in the sunshine above
"It happened that in the palace of a wealthy nobleman a necklace
of pearls disappeared. Suspicion fell on a poor orphan girl, who
was arrested and sentenced to be hanged right at the foot of the
statue of Justice.
"The girl was put to death, but as her innocent spirit ascended to
heaven a great storm arose and lightning struck the statue, angrily
hurling the scales from the left hand of the figure of Justice.
They fell to the pavement with a clatter and in one of the shattered
nests was found the pearl necklace. It had been stolen by a magpie
who had cunningly woven the string of pearls into the clay wall of
her babies' cradle. So the poor girl was proven innocent and the
people of that city were taught to be more careful of justice."
This story silenced the blacksmith but did not drive away his
forebodings of evil. Evangeline lighted the brazen lamp on the
table and filled the great pewter tankard with home-brewed nut brown
ale. The notary drew from his pocket his papers and his inkhorn
and began to write the contract of marriage. In spite of his age
his hand was steady, He set down the names and the ages of the
parties and the amount of Evangeline's dowry in flocks of sheep and
in cattle. All was done in accordance with the law and the paper
was signed and sealed. Benedict took from his leathern pouch three
times the notary's fee in solid pieces of silver. The old man arose
and blessed the bride and the bridegroom, and then lifted aloft
the tankard of ale and drank to their health. Then wiping the foam
from his lip, he bowed solemnly and went away.
The others sat quietly by the fireside until Evangeline brought
the draught-board to her father and Basil and arranged the pieces
for them. They were soon deep in the game, while Evangeline and her
lover sat apart in the embrasure of a window and whispered together
as they watched the moon rise over the sea. Their hearts were full
of happiness as they looked into the future, believing that they
would be together.
At nine o'clock the guests rose to depart, but Gabriel lingered on
the doorstep with many farewell words and sweet good-nights. When
he was gone Evangeline carefully covered the fire and noiselessly
followed her father up-stairs. Out in the orchard Gabriel waited
and watched for the gleam of her lamp and her shadow as she moved
about behind her snowy curtains. She did not know that he was so
near, yet her thoughts were of him.
The next day the betrothal feast was held in Benedict's house and
the orchard. There were good Benedict and sturdy Basil the blacksmith
and there were the priest and the notary. Beautiful Evangeline
welcomed the guests with a smiling face and words of gladness.
Then Michael the fiddler took a seat under the trees and he sang
and played for the company to dance, sometimes beating time to the
music with his wooden shoes.
Merrily, merrily whirled the dancers, old and young together, and
the children among them. Fairest of all the maidens was Evangeline,
and Gabriel was the noblest of all the youths.
So the morning passed away. A loud summons sounded from the church
tower and from the drums of the soldiers. The men thronged to the
church leaving the women outside in the church yard.
The church doors were closed, and the crowd silently awaited the
will of the soldiers. Then the commander arose and spoke from the
steps of the altar.
How dreadful were the words spoken from that holy place! The lands
and dwellings and the cattle of all kinds, of the people were to
be given up to the King of England whom they had to obey for he
had conquered the French. They were to be driven from their homes
and Englishmen were to be allowed to take possession of Acadia.
The commander declared the men prisoners, but overcome with sorrow
and anger, they rushed to the door-way. Basil, the hot-headed
blacksmith, cried out, "Down with the tyrants of England!" but a
soldier struck him on the mouth and dragged him down to the pavement.
Then Father Felician, the priest, spoke to his people, and tried
to quiet them. His words were few, but they sank deep in the hearts
of his flock.
"O Father, forgive them," they cried, as the crucified Christ had
cried centuries before them.
The evening service followed and the people fell on their knees
and were comforted.
Evangeline waited for her father at his door. She had set the
table and his supper was ready for him. On the white cloth were the
wheaten bread, the fragrant honey, the tankard of ale, and fresh
cheese, just brought from the dairy, but Benedict did not come. At
last the girl went back to the church and called aloud the names
of her father and Gabriel. There was no answer. Back to the empty
house she went, feeling desolate. It began to rain; then the lightning
flashed and it thundered, but Evangeline was not frightened, for
she remembered that God was in Heaven and that He governs the world
that He created. She thought of the story that she had heard the
night before of the justice of Heaven and, trusting in God, she
went to bed and slept peacefully until morning.
The men were kept prisoners in the church for four days and nights.
On the fifth day the women and the children were bidden to take
their household goods to the seashore and there they were joined
by the long-imprisoned but patient Acadian farmers.
When Evangeline saw Gabriel she ran to him and whispered, "Gabriel,
be of good cheer, for if we love each other nothing can harm us,
whatever mischances may happen."
Then she saw her father. He was sadly changed: the fire was gone
from his eyes and his footstep was heavy and slow. With a full
heart she embraced him, feeling that words of comfort would do no
The Acadians were hurried on board the ships and in the confusion
families were separated. Mothers were torn from their children and
wives from their husbands. Basil was put on one ship and Gabriel
on another, while Evangeline stood on the shore with her father.
When night came not half the work of embarking was done. The people
on shore camped on the beach in the midst of their household goods
and their wagons.
None could escape, for the soldiers were watching them.
The priest moved about in the moonlight trying to comfort the people.
He laid his hand on Evangeline's head and blessed her. Suddenly
columns of shining smoke arose and flashes of flame were seen in
the direction of Grand-Pré. The village was on fire. The people
felt that they could never return to their homes and their hearts
were swelled with anguish. Evangeline and the priest turned to
Benedict. He was motionless, his soul had gone to Heaven.
There on the beach, with the light of the burning village for a
torch, they buried the farmer of Grand-Pré, and the priest repeated
the burial service to the accompaniment of the roaring sea.
In the morning the work of embarking was finished and toward night
the ships sailed out of the harbor leaving the dead on the shore
and the village in ruins.
The Acadians were scattered all over the land from north to south
and from the bleak shores of the ocean even to the banks of the
Mississippi River. Evangeline wandered from place to place looking
for Gabriel Lajeunesse, and Gabriel sought Evangeline as earnestly.
Sometimes they heard of one another but through long years they
Evangeline was growing old and her hair showed faint streaks of
gray when at last she made her home in Philadelphia. She became a
Sister of Mercy and by day and by night ministered to the sick and
A pestilence fell on the city, carrying away rich and poor alike.
Evangeline lovingly tended the very poorest, and each day she went
to the almshouse on her errand of mercy.
One morning she came to a pallet on which lay an old man, thin and
gray. As she looked at him his face seemed to assume the form of
earlier manhood. With a cry she fell on her knees.
"Gabriel, my beloved!"
The old man heard the voice and it carried him back to the home
of his childhood, to happiness and Evangeline. He opened his eyes.
Evangeline was kneeling beside him. At last they were together.
JABEZ ROCKWELL'S POWDER-HORN
By Ralph D. Paine
"Pooh, you are not tall enough to carry a musket! Go with the
drums, and tootle on that fife you blew at the Battle of Saratoga.
Away with you, little Jabez, crying for a powder-horn, when grown
men like me have not a pouch amongst them for a single charge of
A tall, gaunt Vermonter, whose uniform was a woolen bedcover draped
to his knees, laughed loudly from the doorway of his log hut as he
flung these taunts at the stripling soldier.
A little way down the snowy street of these rude cabins a group
of ragged comrades was crowding at the heels of a man who hugged
a leather apron to his chest with both arms. Jabez Rockwell was in
hot haste to join the chase; nevertheless he halted to cry back at
"It's a lie! I put my fife in my pocket at Saratoga, and I fought
with a musket as long and ugly as yourself. And a redcoat shot me
through the arm. If the camp butcher has powder-horns to give away,
I deserve one more than those raw militia recruits, so wait until
you are a veteran of the Connecticut line before you laugh at us
The youngster stooped to tighten the clumsy wrappings of rags which
served him for shoes, and hurried on after the little, shouting
mob which had followed the butcher down to the steep hillside of
Valley Forge, where he stood at bay with his back to the cliff.
"There are thirty of you desperate villains," puffed the fat
fugitive, "and I have only ten horns, which have been saved from
the choicest of all the cattle I've killed these two months gone.
I would I had my maul and skinning-knife here to defend myself.
Take me to headquarters, if there is no other way to end this riot.
I want no pay for the horns. They are my gift to the troops, but,
Heaven help me! who is to decide how to divide them amongst so
"Stand him on his bald head, and loose the horns from the apron. As
they fall, he who finds keeps!" roared one of the boisterous party.
"Toss them all in the air and let us fight for them," was another
The hapless butcher glared round him with growing dismay.
At this rate half the American army would soon be clamoring round
him, drawn by the chance to add to their poor equipment.
By this time Jabez Rockwell had wriggled under the arms of the
shouting soldiers, twisting like an uncommonly active eel, until
he was close to the red-faced butcher. With ready wit the youngster
piped up a plan for breaking the deadlock:
"There are thirty of us, you say, that put you to rout, Master
Ritter. Let us divide the ten horns by lot. Then you can return to
your cow-pens with a whole skin and a clean conscience."
"There is more sense in that little carcass of yours than in all
those big, hulking troopers, that could spit you on a bayonet like
a sparrow!" rumbled Master Ritter. "How shall the lots be drawn?"
"Away with your lottery!" cried a burly rifleman, whose long
hunting-shirt whipped in the bitter wind. "The road up the valley
is well beaten down. The old forge is half a mile away. Do you
mark a line, old beef-killing Jack, and we will run for our lives.
The first ten to touch the stone wall of the smithy will take the
Some yelled approval, others fiercely opposed, and the wrangling
was louder than before. Master Ritter, who had plucked up heart,
began to steal warily from the hillside, hoping to escape in the
A dozen hands clutched his collar and leather apron, and jerked
him headlong back into the argument.
Young Jabez scrambled to the top of the nearest boulder, and ruffled
with importance like a turkey-cock as he waved his arms to command
"The guard will be turned out and we shall end this fray by cooling
our heels in the prison huts on the hill," he declaimed. "If we
run a foot-race, who is to say which of us first reaches the forge?
Again,--and I say I never served with such thick-witted troops
when I fought under General Arnold at Saratoga,--those with shoes
to their feet have the advantage over those that are bound up in
bits of cloth and clumsy patches of hide. Draw lots, I say, before
the picket is down upon us!"
The good-natured crowd cheered the boy orator, and hauled him from
his perch with such hearty thumps that he feared they would break
him in two.
Suddenly the noise was hushed as if the wranglers had been stricken
dumb. Fur-capped heads turned to face down the winding valley,
and without need of an order, the company spread itself along the
roadside in a rude, uneven line. Every man stood at attention, his
head up, his shoulders thrown back, hands at his sides. Thus they
stood while they watched a little group of horsemen trot toward
In front rode a commanding figure in buff and blue. The tall, lithe
frame sat the saddle with the graceful ease of the hard-riding
Virginia fox-hunter. The stern, smooth-shaven face, reddened and
roughened by exposure to all weathers, lighted with an amiable
curiosity at sight of this motley and expectant party, the central
figure of which was the butcher, Master Ritter, who had dropped to
his knees, as if praying for his life.
General Washington turned to a sprightly-looking, red-haired youth
who rode at his side, as if calling his attention to this singular
tableau. The Marquis de Lafayette shrugged his shoulders after the
French manner, and said, laughingly:
"It ees vat you t'ink? Vill they make ready to kill 'im? Vat they
Just behind them pounded General Muhlenberg, the clergyman who had
doffed his gown for the uniform of a brigadier, stalwart, swarthy,
laughter in his piercing eyes as he commented:
"To the rescue. The victim is a worthy member of my old Pennsylvania
flock. This doth savor of a soldier's court martial for honest
The cavalcade halted, and the soldiers saluted, tongue-tied
and embarrassed, scuffling, and prodding one another's ribs in an
attempt to urge a spokesman forward, while General Washington gazed
down at them as if demanding an explanation.
The butcher was about to make a stammering attempt when the string
of his apron parted, and the ten cow-horns were scattered in the
snow. He dived in pursuit of them, and his speech was never made.
Because Jabez Rockwell was too light and slender to make much
resistance, he was first to be pushed into the foreground, and
found himself nearest the commander-in-chief. He made the best of
a bad matter, and his frank young face flushed hotly as he doffed
his battered cap and bowed low.
"May it please the general, we were in a good-natured dispute
touching the matter of those ten cow-horns which the butcher brought
amongst us to his peril. There are more muskets than pouches in our
street, and we are debating a fair way to divide them. It is--it
is exceeding bold, sir, but dare we ask you to suggest a way out
of the trouble which preys sorely on the butcher's mind and body?"
A fleeting frown troubled the noble face of the chief, and his mouth
twitched, not with anger but in pain, for the incident brought home
to him anew that his soldiers, these brave, cheerful, half-clothed,
freezing followers were without even the simplest tools of warfare.
The cloud cleared and he smiled, such a proud, affectionate smile
as a father shows to sons of his who have deemed no sacrifice too
great for duty's sake. His eyes softened as he looked down at the
straight stripling at his bridle-rein, and replied:
"You have asked my advice as a third party, and it is meet that I
share in the distribution. Follow me to the nearest hut."
His officers wheeled and rode after him, while the bewildered
soldiers trailed behind, two and two, down the narrow road, greatly
wondering whether reward or punishment was to be their lot.
As for Jabez Rockwell, he strode proudly in the van as guide to the
log cabin, and felt his heart flutter as he jumped to the head of
the charger, while the general dismounted with the agility of a
Turning to the soldiers, who hung abashed in the road, Washington
"Come in, as many of you as can find room!"
The company filled the hut, and made room for those behind by
climbing into the tiers of bunks filled with boughs to soften the
In one corner a wood-fire smoldered in a rough stone fireplace,
whose smoke made even the general cough and sneeze. He stood behind
a bench of barked logs, and took from his pocket a folded document.
Then he picked up from the hearth a bit of charcoal, and announced:
"I will write down a number between fifteen hundred and two thousand,
and the ten that guess nearest this number shall be declared the
winners of the ten horns."
He carefully tore the document into strips, and then into small
squares, which were passed along the delighted audience. There
was a busy whispering and scratching of heads. Over in one corner,
jammed against the wall until he gasped for breath, Jabez Rockwell
said to himself:
"I must guess shrewdly. Methinks he will choose a number half-way
between fifteen hundred and two thousand. I will write down seventeen
hundred and fifty. But, stay! Seventeen seventy-six may come first
into his mind, the glorious year when the independence of the
colonies was declared. But he will surely take it that we, too,
are thinking of that number, wherefore I will pass it by."
As if reading his thoughts, a comrade curled up in a bunk at Rockwell's
elbow muttered, "Seventeen seventy-six, I haven't a doubt of it!"
Alas for the cunning surmise of Jabez, the chief did write down
the Independence year, "1776," and when this verdict was read aloud
the boy felt deep disappointment. This was turned to joy, however,
when his guess of "1750" was found to be among the ten nearest the
fateful choice, and one of the powder-horns fell to him.
The soldiers pressed back to make way for General Washington as he
went out of the hut, stooping low that his head might escape the
roof-beams. Before the party mounted, the boyish Lafayette swung
his hat round his head and shouted:
"A huzza for ze wise general!"
The soldiers cheered lustily, and General Mühlenberg followed with:
"Now a cheer for the Declaration of Independence and for the soldier
who wrote down 'Seventeen seventy-six.'"
General Washington bowed in his saddle, and the shouting followed
his clattering train up the valley on his daily tour of inspection.
He left behind him a new-fledged hero in the person of Jabez
Rockwell, whose bold tactics had won him a powder-horn and given
his comrades the rarest hour of the dreary winter at Valley Forge.
In his leisure time he scraped and polished the horn, fitted it
with a wooden stopper and cord, and with greatest care and labor
scratched upon its gleaming surface these words:
Jabez Rockwell, Ridgeway, Conn--His Horn
Made in Camp at Valley Forge
Thin and pale, but with unbroken spirit, this sixteen-year-old
veteran drilled and marched and braved picket duty in zero weather,
often without a scrap of meat to brace his ration for a week on
end; but he survived with no worse damage than sundry frost-bites.
In early spring he was assigned to duty as a sentinel of the company
which guarded the path that led up the hill to the headquarters of
the commander-in-chief. Here he learned much to make the condition
of his comrades seem more hopeless and forlorn than ever.
Hard-riding scouting parties came into camp with reports of forays
as far as the suburbs of Philadelphia, twenty miles away. Spies,
disguised as farmers, returned with stories of visits into the heart
of the capital city held by the enemy. This gossip and information,
Which the young sentinel picked up bit by bit, he pieced together
to make a picture of an invincible, veteran British army, waiting
to fall upon the huddled mob of "rebels" at Valley Forge, and
sweep them away like chaff. He heard it over and over again, that
the Hessians, with their tall and gleaming brass hats and fierce
mustaches, "were dreadful to look upon," that the British Grenadiers,
who tramped the Philadelphia streets in legions, "were like moving
ranks of stone wall."
Then Jabez would look out across the valley, and perhaps see an
American regiment at drill, without uniforms, ranks half-filled,
looking like an array of scarecrows. His heart would sink, dfespite
his memories of Saratoga; and in such dark hours he could not
believe it possible even for General Washington to win a battle in
the coming summer campaign.
It was on a bright day of June that Capt. Allan McLane, the leader
of scouts, galloped past the huts of the sentinels, and shouted as
"The British have marched out of Philadelphia! I have just cut my
way through their skirmishers over in New Jersey!"
A little later orderlies were buzzing out of the old stone house
at headquarters like bees from a hive, with orders for the troops
to be ready to march. As Jabez Rockwell hurried to rejoin his
regiment, men were shouting the glad news along the green valley,
with songs and cheers and laughter. They fell in as a fighting
army, and left behind them the tragic story of their winter at
Valley Forge, as the trailing columns swept beyond the Schuylkill
into the wide and smiling farm lands of Pennsylvania.
Summer heat now blistered the dusty faces that had been for so long
blue and pinched with hunger and cold. A week of glad marching and
full rations carried Washington's awakened army into New Jersey,
by which time the troops knew their chief was leading them to block
the British retreat from Philadelphia.
Jabez Rockwell, marching with the Connecticut Brigade, had forgotten
his fears of the brass-capped Hessians and the stone-wall Grenadiers.
One night they camped near Monmouth village, and scouts brought in
the tidings that the British were within sight. In the long summer
twilight Jabez climbed a little knoll hard by, and caught a glimpse
of the white tents of the Queen's Hangers, hardly beyond musket-shot.
Before daybreak a rattle of firing woke him, and he scrambled out
to find that the pickets were already exchanging shots.
He picked up his old musket, and chewing a hunk of dry bread for
breakfast, joined his company drawn up in a pasture. Knapsacks were
piled near Freehold meeting-house, and the troops marched ahead,
not knowing where they were sent.
Across the wooded fields Jabez saw the lines of red splotches which
gleamed in the early sunlight, and he knew these were British troops.
The rattling musket-fire became a grinding roar, and the deeper
note of artillery boomed into the tumult. A battle had begun, yet
the Connecticut Brigade was stewing in the heat hour after hour,
impatient, troubled, wondering why they had no part to play. As
the forenoon dragged along the men became sullen and weary.
When at last an order came it was not to advance, but to retreat.
Falling back, they found themselves near their camping-place.
Valley Forge had not quenched the faith of Jabez Rockwell in General
Washington's power to conquer any odds, but now he felt such dismay
as brought hot tears to his eyes. On both sides of his regiment
American troops were streaming to the rear, their columns broken
and straggling. It seemed as if the whole army was fleeing from
the veterans of Clinton and Cornwallis.
Jabez flung himself into a cornfield, and hid his face in his arms.
Round him his comrades were muttering their anger and despair. He
fumbled for his canteen, and his fingers closed round his powder-horn.
"General Washington did not give you to me to run away with," he
whispered; and then his parched lips moved in a little prayer:
"Dear Lord, help us to beat the British this day, and give me a
chance to empty my powder-horn before night. Thou hast been with
General Washington and me ever since last year. Please don't desert
Nor was he surprised when, as if in direct answer to his petition,
he rose to see the chief riding through the troop lines, but such
a chief as he had never known before. The kindly face was aflame
with anger, and streaked with dust and sweat. The powerful horse
he rode was lathered, and its heaving flanks were scarred from
As the commander passed the regiment, his staff in a whirlwind at
his heels, Jabez heard him shout in a great voice vibrant with rage
"I cannot believe the army is retreating. I ordered a general
advance. Who dared to give such an order? Advance those lines--"
"It was General Lee's order to retreat," Jabez heard an officer
stammer in reply.
Washington vanished in a moment, with a storm of cheers in his wake.
Jabez was content to wait for orders now. He believed the Battle
of Monmouth as good as won.
His recollection of the next few hours was jumbled and hazy. He
knew that the regiment went forward, and then the white smoke of
musket-fire closed down before him. Now and then the summer breeze
made rifts in this stifling cloud, and he saw it streaked with
spouting fire. He aimed his old musket at that other foggy line
beyond the rail fence, whose top was lined with men in coats of
red and green and black.
Suddenly his officers began running to and fro, and a shout ran
down the thin line:
"Stand steady, Connecticut! Save your fire! Aim low! Here comes
A tidal wave of red and brass broke through the gaps in the rail
fence, and the sunlight rippled along a wavering line of British
bayonets. They crept nearer, nearer, until Jabez could see the grim
ferocity, the bared teeth, the staring eyes of the dreaded Grenadiers.
At the command to fire he pulled trigger, and the kick of his musket
made him grunt with pain. Pulling the stopper from his powder-horn
with his teeth, Jabez poured in a charge, and was ramming the
bullet home when he felt his right leg double under him and burn
as if red-hot iron had seared it.
Then the charging tide of Grenadiers swept over him. He felt their
hobnailed heels bite into his back; then his head felt queer, and
he closed his eyes. When he found himself trying to rise, he saw,
as through a mist, his regiment falling back, driven from their
ground by the first shock of the charge. He groaned in agony of
spirit. What would General Washington say?
Jabez was now behind the headlong British column, which heeded him
not. He was in a little part of the field cleared of fighting for
the moment, except for the wounded who dotted the trampled grass.
The smoke had drifted away, for the swaying lines in front of him
were locked in the frightful embrace of cold steel.
The boy staggered to his feet, with his musket as a crutch, and
his wound was forgotten. He was given strength to his need by the
spirit of a great purpose.
Alone he stood and reeled, while he beckoned, passionately,
imploringly, his arm outstretched toward his broken regiment. The
lull in the firing made a moment of strange quiet, broken only by
groans and the hard, gasping curses of men locked in the death-grip.
Therefore the shrill young voice carried far, as he shouted:
"Come back, Connecticut! I'm waiting for you!"
His captain heard the boy, and waved his sword with hoarse cries
to his men. They caught sight of the lonely little figure in the
background, and his cry went to their hearts, and a great wave of
rage and shame swept the line like a prairie fire. Like a landslide
the men of Connecticut swept forward to recapture the ground they
had yielded. Back fell the British before a countercharge they could
not withstand, back beyond the rail fence. Nor was there refuge
even there, for, shattered and spent, they were smashed to fragments
in a flank attack driven home in the nick of time by the American
From a low hill to the right of this action General Washington had
paused to view the charge just when his line gave way. He sent an
officer in hot haste for reserves, and waited for them where he
Thus it happened that his eye swept the littered field from which
Jabez Rockwell rose, as one from the dead, to rally his comrades,
alone, undaunted, pathetic beyond words. A little later two privates
were carrying to the rear the wounded lad, who had been picked up
alive and conscious. They halted to salute their Commander-in-chief,
and laid their burden down as the general drew rein and said:
"Take this man to my quarters, and see to it that he has every
possible attention. I saw him save a regiment and retake a position."
The limp figure on the litter of boughs raised itself on an elbow,
and said very feebly:
"I didn't want to see that powder-horn disgraced, sir."
With a smile of recognition General Washington responded:
"The powder-horn? I remember. _You_ are the lad who led the
powder-horn rebellion at Valley Forge. And I wrote down 'Seventeen
seventy-six.' You have used it well, my boy. I will not forget."
When Jabez Rockwell was able to rejoin his company he scratched
upon the powder-horn this addition to the legend he had carved at
First Used at Monmouth
June 28, 1778.
A hundred years later the grandson of Jabez Rockwell hung the
powder-horn in the old stone house at Valley Forge which had been
General Washington's headquarters. And if you should chance to see
it there you will find that the young soldier added one more line
to the rough inscription:
Last Used at Yorktown, 1781.
A MAN WHO COVETED WASHINGTON'S SHOES
By Frank E. Stockton
The person whose story we are now about to tell was not a Jerseyman;
but, as most of the incidents which make him interesting to us
occurred in this State, we will give him the benefit of a few years'
This was General Charles Lee, who might well have been called a
soldier of fortune. He was born in England, but the British Isles
were entirely too small to satisfy his wild ambitions and his roving
disposition. There are few heroes of romance who have had such a
wide and varied experience, and who have engaged in so many strange
enterprises. He was a brave man and very able, but he had a fault
which prevented him from being a high-class soldier; and that fault
was, that he could not bear restraint, and was always restive under
command of another, and, while always ready to tell other people
what they ought to do, was never willing to be told what he ought
He joined the British army when he was a young man; and he first
came to this country in 1757, when General Abercrombie brought over
an army to fight the French. For three years, Lee was engaged in
the wilds and forests, doing battle with the Indians and French,
and no doubt he had all the adventures an ordinary person would
desire, But this experience was far from satisfactory.
When he left America, he went to Portugal with another British
army, and there he fought the Spanish with as much impetuosity as
he had fought the French and Indians. Life was absolutely tasteless
to Lee without a very strong sprinkle of variety. Consequently
he now tried fighting in an entirely different field, and went
into politics. He became a Liberal, and with his voice fought the
government for whom he had been previously fighting with his sword.
But a few years of this satisfied him; and then he went to Poland,
where he became a member of the king's staff, and as a Polish
officer disported himself for two years.
It is very likely that in Turkey a high-spirited man would find
more opportunities for lively adventure than even in Poland. At any
rate, Charles Lee thought so; and to Turkey he went, and entered
into the service of the sultan. Here he distinguished himself
in a company of Turks who were guarding a great treasure in its
transportation from Moldavia to Constantinople. No doubt he wore
a turban and baggy trousers, and carried a great scimiter, for a
man of that sort is not likely to do things by halves when he does
them at all.
Having had such peculiar experiences in various armies and various
parts of the world, Lee thought himself qualified to occupy a
position of rank in the British army, and, coming back to England,
he endeavored to obtain military promotion. But the government there
did not seem to think he had learned enough in Poland and Turkey
to enable him to take precedence of English officers accustomed
to command English troops, and it declined to put him above such
officers, and to give him the place he desired. Lee was not a man
of mild temper. He became very angry at the treatment he received,
and, abandoning his native country again, he went to Russia, where
the czar gave him command of a company of wild Cossacks. But he
did not remain long with the Cossacks. Perhaps they were not wild
and daring enough to suit his fancy, although there are very few
fancies which would not be satisfied with the reckless and furious
demeanor generally attributed to these savage horsemen.
He threw up his command and went to Hungary, and there he did some
fighting in an entirely different fashion. Not having any opportunity
to distinguish himself upon a battlefield, he engaged in a duel;
and of course, as he was acting the part of a hero of romance, he
killed his man.
Hungary was not a suitable residence for him after the duel, and
he went back to England, and there he found the country in a state
of excitement in regard to the American Colonies. Now, if there
was anything that Lee liked, it was a state of excitement, and in
the midst of this political hubbub he felt as much at home as if
he had been charging the ranks of an enemy. Of course, he took part
against the government, for, as far as we know, he had always been
against it, and he became a violent supporter of the rights of the
He was so much in earnest in this matter, that in 1773 he came
to America to see for himself how matters stood. When he got over
here, he became more strongly in favor of the colonists than he
had been at home, and everywhere proclaimed that the Americans were
right in resisting the unjust taxation claims of Great Britain.
As he had always been ready to lay aside his British birthright
and become some sort of a foreigner, he now determined to become
an American; and to show that he was in earnest, he went down to
Virginia and bought a farm there.
Lee soon became acquainted with people in high places in American
politics; and when the first Congress assembled, he was ready to
talk with its members, urging them to stand up for their rights, and
draw their swords and load their guns in defense of independence.
It was quite natural, that, when the Revolution really began, a man
who was so strongly in favor of the patriots, and had had so much
military experience in so many different lands, should be allowed
to take part in the war, and Charles Lee was appointed major general.
This was a high military position,--much higher, in fact, than
he could ever have obtained in his own country,--but it did not
satisfy him. The position he wanted was that of commander in chief
of the American army; and he was surprised and angry that it was
not offered to him, and that a man of his ability should be passed
over, and that high place given to a person like George Washington,
who knew but little of war, and had no idea whatever how the thing
was done in Portugal, Poland, Russia and Turkey, and who was, in
fact, no more than a country gentleman.
All this showed that these Americans were fools, who did not understand
their best interests. But as there was a good chance for a fight,
and, in fact, a good many fights, and as a major generalship was
not to be sneered at, he accepted it, and resigned the commission
which he held in the English army.
He was doubtless in earnest in his desire to assist the Americans
to obtain their independence, for he was always in earnest when
he was doing anything that he was inclined to do. But he did not
propose to sacrifice his own interests to the cause he had undertaken;
and as, by entering the American army, he risked the loss of his
estate in England, he arranged with Congress for compensation for
But, although General Lee was now a very ardent American soldier,
he could not forgive Mr. Washington for taking command above him.
If that Virginia gentleman had had the courtesy and good sense
which were generally attributed to him, he would have resigned the
supreme command, and, modestly stepping aside, would have asked
General Lee to accept it.
At least, that was the opinion of General Charles Lee.
As this high and mighty soldier was so unwilling to submit to the
orders of incompetent people, he never liked to be under the direct
command of Washington, and, if it were possible to do so, he managed
to be concerned in operations not under the immediate eye of the
commander in chief. In fact, he was very jealous indeed of Washington,
and did not hesitate to express his opinion about him whenever he
had a chance.
The American army was not very successful in Long Island, and there
was a time when it fared very badly in New Jersey; and Lee was not
slow to declare that these misfortunes were owing entirely to the
ignorance of the man who was in command. Moreover, if there was
any one who wanted to know if there was another man in the Colonies
who could command the army better, and lead it more certainly and
speedily to victory, General Lee was always ready to mention an
experienced soldier who would be able to perform that duty most
If it had not been for this unfortunate and jealous disposition,
Charles Lee--a very different man from "Light Horse Harry" Lee--would
have been one of the most useful officers in the American army.
But he had such a jealousy of Washington, and hoped so continually
that something would happen which would give him the place then
occupied by the Virginia country gentleman, that, although he was
at heart an honest patriot, he allowed himself to do things which
were not at all patriotic. He wanted to see the Americans successful
in the country, but he did not want to see all that happen under
the leadership of Washington; and if he could put an obstacle in
the way of that incompetent person, he would do it, and be glad to
see him stumble over it.
In the winter of 1776, when the American army was taking its
way across New Jersey towards the Delaware River with Cornwallis
in pursuit, Washington was anxiously looking for the troops under
the command of General Lee, who had been ordered to come to his
assistance; and if ever assistance was needed, it was needed then.
But Lee liked to do his own ordering, and, instead of hurrying to
help Washington, he thought it would be a great deal better to do
something on his own account; and so he endeavored to get into the
rear of Cornwallis's army, thinking that, if he should attack the
enemy in that way, he might possibly win a startling victory which
would cover him with glory, and show how much better a soldier he
was than that poor Washington who was retreating across the country,
instead of boldly turning and showing fight.
If Lee had been a true soldier, and had conscientiously obeyed the
commands of his superior, he would have joined Washington and his
army without delay and a short time afterward would have had an
opportunity of taking part in the battle of Trenton, in which the
Virginia country gentleman defeated the British, and gained one of
the most important victories of the war.
Lee pressed slowly onward--ready to strike a great blow for himself,
and unwilling to help anybody else strike a blow--until he came to
Morristown; and, after staying there one night, he proceeded in
the direction of Basking Ridge, a pretty village not far away. Lee
left his army at Bernardsville, which was then known as Vealtown,
and rode on to Basking Ridge, accompanied only by a small guard.
There he took lodgings at an inn, and made himself comfortable.
The next morning he did not go and put himself at the head of his
army and move on, because there were various affairs which occupied
Several of his guard wished to speak to him, some of them being men
from Connecticut, who appeared before him in full-bottomed wigs,
showing plainly that they considered themselves people who were
important enough to have their complaints attended to. One of them
wanted his horse shod, another asked for some money on account
of his pay, and a third had something to say about rations. But
General Lee cut them all off very shortly with, "You want a great
deal, but you have not mentioned what you want most. You want to
go home, and I should be glad to let you go, for you are no good
here." Then his adjutant general asked to see him; and he had a
visit from a Major Wilkinson, who arrived that morning with a letter
from General Gates.
All these things occupied him very much, and he did not sit down
to breakfast till ten o'clock. Shortly after they had finished
their meal, and Lee was writing a letter to General Gates, in which
he expressed a very contemptible opinion of General Washington,
Major Wilkinson saw, at the end of the lane which led from the
house down to the main road, a party of British cavalry who dashed
round the corner toward the house. The major immediately called
out to General Lee that the redcoats were coming; but Lee, who was
a man not to be frightened by sudden reports, finished signing the
letter, and then jumped up to see what was the matter.
By this time the dragoons had surrounded the house; and when he
perceived this, General Lee naturally wanted to know where the guards
were, and why they did not fire on these fellows. But there was
no firing, and apparently there were no guards, and when Wilkinson
went to look for them, he found their arms in the room which had
been their quarters, but the men were gone. These private soldiers
had evidently been quite as free and easy, and as bent upon making
themselves comfortable, as had been the general, and they had had
no thought that such a thing as a British soldier was anywhere in
the neighborhood. When Wilkinson looked out of the door, he saw
the guards running in every direction, with dragoons chasing them.
What all this meant, nobody knew at first; and Wilkinson supposed
that it was merely a band of marauders of the British army, who
were making a raid into the country to get what they could in the
way of plunder. It was not long before this was found to be a great
mistake; for the officer in command of the dragoons called from the
outside, and demanded that General Lee should surrender himself,
and that, if he did not do so in five minutes, the house would be
set on fire.
Now, it was plain to everybody that the British had heard of the
leisurely advance of this American general, and that he had left
his command and come to Basking Ridge to take his ease at an inn,
and so they had sent a detachment to capture him. Soon the women
of the house came to General Lee, and urged him to hide himself
under a feather bed. They declared that they would cover him up so
that nohody would suspect that he was in the bed; then they would
tell the soldiers that he was not there, and that they might come
and search the house if they chose.
But although Lee was a jealous man and a hasty man, he had a soul
above such behavior as this, and would not hide himself in a feather
bed; but, as there was no honorable way of escape, he boldly came
forward and surrendered himself.
The British gave him no time to make any preparations for departure.
They did not know but that his army might be on the way to Basking
Ridge; and the sooner they were off, the better. So they made him
jump on Major Wilkinson's horse, which was tied by the door; and
in his slippers and dressing gown, and without a hat, this bold
soldier of wide experience, who thought he should be commander in
chief of the American army, was hurried away at full gallop. He was
taken to New York, where he was put into prison. It is said that
Lee plotted against America during his imprisonment; but General
Washington did not know that, and used every exertion to have him
exchanged, so that his aspiring rival soon again joined the American
But his misfortune had no effect upon General Charles Lee, who
came back to his command with as high an opinion of himself, and
as low an opinion of certain other people, as he had had when he
involuntarily left it. It was some time after this, at the battle
of Monmouth Court House, that Charles Lee showed what sort of a
man he really was. He had now become so jealous that he positively
determined that he would not obey orders, and would act as he thought
best. He had command of a body of troops numbering five thousand,
a good-sized army for those days, and he was ordered to advance
to Monmouth Court House and attack the enemy who were there, while
Washington, with another force, would hasten to his assistance as
rapidly as possible.
Washington carried out his part of the plan; but when he had
nearly reached Monmouth, he found, to his amazement, that Lee had
gone there, but had done no fighting at all, and was now actually
retreating, and coming in his direction. As it would be demoralizing
in the highest degree to his own command, if Lee's armed forces in
full retreat should come upon them, Washington hurried forward to
prevent anything of the sort, and soon met Lee. When the latter
was asked what was the meaning of this strange proceeding, he could
give no good reason, except that he thought it better not to risk
an engagement at that time.
Then the Virginia country gentleman blazed out at the soldier of
fortune, and it is said that no one ever heard George Washington
speak to any other man as he spoke to General Lee on that day. He
was told to go back to his command and to obey orders, and together the
American forces moved on. In the battle which followed, the enemy
was repulsed; but the victory was not so complete as it should have
been, for the British departed in the night and went where they
intended to go, without being cut off by the American army, as
would have been the case if Lee had obeyed the orders which were
General Lee was very angry at the charges which Washington had made
against him, and demanded that he should be tried by court-martial.
His wish was granted. He was tried, and found guilty of every charge
made against him, and in consequence was suspended from the army
for one year.
But Charles Lee never went back into the American army. Perhaps
he had enough of it. In any event, it had had enough of him; and
seven years afterwards, when he died of a fever, his ambition to
stand in Washington's shoes died with him. While he lived on his
Virginia farm, he was as impetuous and eccentric as when he had been
in the army, and he must have been a very unpleasant neighbor. In
fact, the people there thought he was crazy. This opinion was not
changed when his will was read, for in that document he said,--
"I desire most earnestly that I may not be buried in any church
or churchyard, or within a mile of any Presbyterian or Anabaptist
meeting house; for since I have resided in this country I have kept
so much bad company when living, that I do not choose to continue
it when dead."
A FAMOUS FIGHT BETWEEN AN ENGLISH AND A FRENCH FRIGATE
By Rev. W. H. Fitchett, LL. D.
One of the most famous frigate fights in British history is that
between the _Arethusa_ and _La Belle Poule_, fought off Brest
on June 17, 1778. Who is not familiar with the name and fame of
"the saucy _Arethusa_"? Yet there is a curious absence of detail
as to the fight. The combat, indeed, owes its enduring fame to two
somewhat irrelevant circumstances--first, that it was fought when
France and England were not actually at war, but were trembling on
the verge of it. The sound of the _Arethusa's_ guns, indeed, was
the signal of war between the two nations. The other fact is that
an ingenious rhymester--scarcely a poet--crystallised the fight into
a set of verses in which there is something of the true smack of the
sea, and an echo, if not of the cannon's roar, yet of the rough-voiced
mirth of the forecastle; and the sea-fight lies embalmed, so
to speak, and made immortal in the sea-song. The _Arethusa_ was a
stumpy little frigate, scanty in crew, light in guns, attached to
the fleet of Admiral Keppel, then cruising off Brest. Keppel had as
perplexed and delicate a charge as was ever entrusted to a British
admiral. Great Britain was at war with her American colonies, and
there was every sign that France intended to add herself to the
fight. No fewer than thirty-two sail of the line and twelve frigates
were gathered in Brest roads, and another fleet of almost equal
strength in Toulon. Spain, too, was slowly collecting a mighty
armament. What would happen to England if the Toulon and Brest
fleets united, were joined by a third fleet from Spain, and the
mighty array of ships thus collected swept up the British Channel?
On June 13, 1778, Keppel, with twenty-one ships of the line and
three frigates, was despatched to keep watch over the Brest fleet,
War had not been proclaimed, but Keppel was to prevent a junction
of the Brest and Toulon fleets, by persuasion if he could, but by
gunpowder in the last resort.
Keppel's force was much inferior to that of the Brest fleet, and
as soon as the topsails of the British ships were visible from
the French coast, two French frigates, the _Licorne_ and _La Belle
Poule_, with two lighter craft, bore down upon them to reconnoitre.
But Keppel could not afford to let the French admiral know his
exact force, and signalled to his own outlying ships to bring the
French frigates under his lee.
At nine o'clock at night the _Licorne_ was overtaken by the _Milford_,
and with some rough sailorly persuasion, and a hint of broadsides,
her head was turned towards the British fleet. The next morning,
in the grey dawn, the Frenchman, having meditated on affairs during
the night, made a wild dash for freedom. The _America_, an English
64--double, that is, the _Licorne's_ size--overtook her, and fired
a shot across her bow to bring her to, Longford, the captain of
the _America_, stood on the gunwale of his own ship politely urging
the captain of the _Licorne_ to return with him. With a burst of
Celtic passion the French captain fired his whole broadside into
the big Englishman, and then instantly hauled down his flag so as
to escape any answering broadside!
Meanwhile the _Arethusa_ was in eager pursuit of the _Belle Poule_;
a fox-terrier chasing a mastiff! The _Belle Poule_ was a splendid
ship, with heavy metal, and a crew more than twice as numerous
as that of the tiny _Arethusa_. But Marshall, its captain, was a
singularly gallant sailor, and not the man to count odds. The song
tells the story of the fight in an amusing fashion:--
"Come all ye jolly sailors
Whose hearts are cast in honour's mould,
While England's glory I unfold.
Huzza to the _Arethusa_!
She is a frigate tight and brave
As ever stemmed the dashing wave;
Her men are staunch
To their fav'rite launch,
And when the foe shall meet our fire,
Sooner than strike we'll all expire
On board the _Arethusa_.
"On deck five hundred men did dance,
The stoutest they could find in France;
We, with two hundred, did advance
On board the _Arethusa_.
Our captain hailed the Frenchman, 'Ho!'
The Frenchman then cried out, 'Hallo!'
'Bear down, d'ye see,
To our Admiral's lee.'
'No, no,' says the Frenchman, 'that can't be.'
'Then I must lug you along with me,'
Says the saucy _Arethusa_!"
As a matter of fact Marshall hung doggedly on the Frenchman's quarter
for two long hours, fighting a ship twice as big as his own. The
_Belle Poule_ was eager to escape; Marshall was resolute that it
should not escape, and, try as he might, the Frenchman, during that
fierce two hours' wrestle, failed to shake off his tiny but dogged
antagonist. The _Arethusa's_ masts were shot away, its jib-boom
hung a tangled wreck over its bows, its bulwarks were shattered,
half its guns were dismounted, and nearly every third man in its
crew struck down. But still it hung, with quenchless and obstinate
courage, on the _Belle Poule's_ quarter, and by its perfect seamanship
and the quickness and the deadly precision with which its lighter
guns worked, reduced its towering foe to a condition of wreck almost
as complete as its own. The terrier, in fact, was proving too much
for the mastiff.
Suddenly the wind fell. With topmasts hanging over the side, and
canvas torn to ribbons, the _Arethusa_ lay shattered and moveless
on the sea. The shot-torn but loftier sails of the _Belle Poule_,
however, yet held wind enough to drift her out of the reach of the
_Arethusa's_ fire. Both ships were close under the French cliffs;
but the _Belle Poule_, like a broken-winged bird, struggled into
a tiny cove in the rocks, and nothing remained for the _Arethusa_
but to cut away her wreckage, hoist what sail she could, and drag
herself sullenly back under jury-masts to the British fleet. But
the story of that two hours' heroic fight maintained against such
odds sent a thrill of grim exultation through Great Britain. Menaced
by the combination of so many mighty states, while her sea-dogs were
of this fighting temper, what had Great Britain to fear? In the
streets of many a British seaport, and in many a British forecastle,
the story of how the _Arethusa_ fought was sung in deep-throated
"The fight was off the Frenchman's land;
We forced them back upon their strand;
For we fought till not a stick would stand
Of the gallant _Arethuml!_"
THE TRICK OF AN INDIAN SPY
By Arthur Quiller-Couch
It was in 1779, when America was struggling with England for her
independence, and a division of the English redcoats were encamped
on the banks of the Potomac. So admirably fortified was their
position by river and steep woods, that no ordinary text-book of
warfare would admit the possibility of surprising it. But Washington
and his men did not conduct their campaigns by the book. "If you
fight with art," said that general once to his soldiery, "you are
sure to be defeated. Acquire discipline enough for retreat and
the uniformity of combined attack, and your country will prove the
best of engineers."
In fact, it was with a guerilla warfare, and little else, that the
British had to contend. The Americans had enrolled whole tribes
of Indians in their ranks and made full use of the Indian habits
of warfare. The braves would steal like snakes about the pathless
forests, and dashing unexpectedly on the outposted redcoats, kill
a handful in one fierce charge, and then retreat pell-mell back into
their shelter, whither to follow them was to court certain death.
The injuries thus inflicted were not overwhelming, but they
were teasing for all that. Day by day the waste went on--loss of
sentinels, of stragglers, sometimes of whole detachments, and all
this was more galling from the impossibility of revenge. In order
to limit the depredations it was the custom of the British commanders
to throw forward their outposts to a great distance from the main
body, to station sentinels far into the woods, and cover the main
body with a constant guard.
One regiment was suffering from little less than a panic. Perpetually
and day after day sentinels had been missing. Worse than this,
they had been surprised, apparently, and carried off without giving
any alarm or having time to utter a sound. It would happen that
a sentinel went forward to his post with finger upon his trigger,
while his comrades searched the woods around and found them empty.
When the relief came, the man would just be missing. That was all.
There was never a trace left to show the manner in which he had been
conveyed away: only, now and then, a few drops of blood splashed
on the leaves where he had been standing.
The men grew more and more uneasy. Most suspected treachery. It was
unreasonable, they argued, to believe that man after man could be
surprised without having time even to fire his musket. Others talked
of magic, and grew gloomy with strange suspicions of the Indian
medicinemen. At any rate, here was a mystery. Time would clear it
up, no doubt; but meanwhile the sentry despatched to his post felt
like a man marked out for death. It was worse. Many men who would
have marched with firm step to death in any familiar shape, would
go with pale cheeks and bowed knees to this fate of which nothing
was known except that nothing was left of the victim.
Matters at length grew intolerable. One morning, the sentinels
having been set as usual overnight, the guard went as soon as dawn
began to break to relieve a post that extended far into the woods.
The sentinel was gone! They searched about, found his footprints
here and there on the trodden leaves, but no blood--no trace of
struggle, no marks of surrounding enemies. It was the old story,
however, and they had almost given up the problem by this time.
They left another man at the post, and went their way back, wishing
him better luck.
"No need to be afraid," he called after them, "I will not desert."
They looked back. He was standing with his musket ready to fly up
to his shoulder at the slightest sound, his eyes searching the glades
before him. There was nothing faint about Tom, they determined,
and returned to the guard-house.
The sentinels were replaced every four hours, and at the regular
time the guard again marched to relieve the post. The man was gone!
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