The Old Bell Of Independence; Or, Philadelphia In 1776
Henry C. Watson
Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Internet Archive; University of Florida, jayam and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
[Illustration: The Old State House Bell]
THE YOUNG AMERICAN'S LIBRARY.
THE OLD BELL OF INDEPENDENCE;
PHILADELPHIA IN 1776.
BY HENRY C. WATSON,
AUTHOR OF "THE CAMP-FIRES OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION," "THE YANKEE
TEA-PARTY, OR BOSTON IN 1773," ETC. ETC.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1851, by LINDSAY AND
BLAKISTON, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United
States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
To awaken in the minds of all Americans that veneration of the patriots
and heroes of the War of Independence, and that emulation of their noble
example which is so necessary to the maintenance of our liberties, are
the objects of this little work. Every day's developments illustrate
the importance of these objects. In the enjoyment of the freedom and
prosperity of our country, we are apt to under-rate the means by which
that enjoyment was secured to us, and to forget the men who worked for
that end. A knowledge of the toils and sufferings of the noble-hearted
fathers of the Revolution is the best preventative, or curative, for
this "falling off." War, clothed as it is, with horrors, is to be
condemned, and the spirit which leads to it should be driven from the
breasts of men. But generous devotion, strength of resolution, and
far-reaching skill, are things to be commended and imitated wherever
displayed. In these pages, will be found stories of the chief men of the
Revolution, so connected, by the manner in which they are narrated, as
to give a general interest to them--"The Old Bell of Independence" being
the rallying point of the veteran story-tellers.
STORY OF GENERAL WASHINGTON
THE SPY'S FATE
STORY OF THE SERMON
STORY OF THE PRAYER
STORY OF LYDIA DARRAGH
THE DEAD MAN'S LAKE
DEATH OF COLONEL LOVELACE
MURDER OF MISS McCREA
DEFENCE OF SHELL'S BLOCK-HOUSE
STORY OF GENERAL WAYNE
THE OUTLAW OF THE PINES
THE TORY'S CONVERSION
THE TIMELY RESCUE
THE BATTLE OF GERMANTOWN
THE BATTLE OF THE KEGS
CAPTURE OF GENERAL PRESCOTT
JONATHAN RILEY AND FRANK LILLY
MASSACRE OF WYOMING
STORY OF THE DAUPHIN'S BIRTHDAY
THE OLD BELL OF INDEPENDENCE.
It was a season of unparalleled enthusiasm and rejoicing, when General
Lafayette, the friend and supporter of American Independence, responded
to the wishes of the people of the United States, and came to see their
prosperity, and to hear their expressions of gratitude. The national
heart beat joyfully in anticipation; and one long, loud, and free shout
of welcome was heard throughout the land.
Arriving at New York in August, 1824, General Lafayette journeyed
through the Eastern States, receiving such tokens of affection as the
people had extended to no other man except Washington, and then returned
southward. On the 28th of September, he entered Philadelphia, the
birth-place of the Declaration of Independence, the greater part of the
population coming out to receive and welcome him. A large procession was
formed, and thirteen triumphal arches erected in the principal streets
through which the procession passed.
After General Lafayette himself, the most remarkable objects in the
procession were four large open cars, resembling tents, each containing
forty veterans of the struggle for independence. No one could, without
emotion, behold these winter-locked patriots, whose eyes, dimmed by age,
poured forth tears of joy at their unexpected happiness in once more
meeting an old commander, and joining in the expressions of gratitude to
After passing through the principal streets, General Lafayette was
conducted into the hall of the State-House, where the old Continental
Congress had assembled, and where the immortal Declaration of
Independence was signed. Here the nation's guest was received formally
on behalf of the citizens by the mayor, and then the people were
admitted to take him by the hand. At night there was a splendid
illumination; and crowds of people traversed the streets, singing and
celebrating the exploits of the champion of liberty and the friend of
On one of the days succeeding Lafayette's grand entry into the city,
he received, in the Hall of Independence, the veteran soldiers of the
Revolution who had come to the city, and those who were residents. One
by one these feeble old men came up and took the General by the hand,
and to each he had some reminiscence to recall, or some congratulation
to offer. Heroes of Brandy wine, Germantown, Trenton, Princeton,
Monmouth, and other fields, were there; some with scars to show, and all
much suffering to relate. The old patriotic fire was kindled in their
breasts, and beamed from their furrowed countenances, as memory flew
back to the time that proved their truth and love of liberty. One had
been under the command of the fiery Wayne, and shared his dangers with
a spirit as dauntless; another had served with the cool and skilful
Greene, and loved to recall some exploit in which the Quaker general
had displayed his genius; another had followed the lead of Lafayette
himself, when a mere youth, at Brandywine: everything conspired to
render this interview of the General and the veteran soldiers as
touching and as interesting as any recorded by history, or invented by
After the reception of the veterans, one of them proposed to go up into
the belfry, and see the old bell which proclaimed liberty "to all the
land, and to all the nations thereof." Lafayette and a few others
accompanied the proposal by expressing a wish to see that interesting
relic. With great difficulty, some of the old men were conducted up to
the belfry, and there they beheld the bell still swinging. Lafayette was
much gratified at the sight, as it awakened his old enthusiasm to think
of the period when John Adams and his bold brother patriots dared to
assert the principles of civil liberty, and to proclaim the independence
of their country. Old John Harmar, one of the veteran soldiers who had
been in Philadelphia when the Declaration was proclaimed, and who again
shook hands with his old brothers in arms, gave vent to his thoughts and
feelings as he stood looking at the bell.
"Ah! that's the trumpet that told the Britishers a tale of vengeance! My
memory's not so bad but I can recollect the day that old bell was rung
for independence! This city presented a very different appearance in
those days. It was a small town. Every body was expectin' that the
king's troops would be comin' here soon, and would sack and burn the
place: but the largest number of us were patriots, and knew the king was
a tyrant; and so we didn't care much whether they came or not. How the
people did crowd around this State-House on the day the Declaration was
proclaimed! Bells were ringing all over town, and guns were fired; but
above 'em all could be heard the heavy, deep sound of this old bell,
that rang as if it meant something! Ah! them was great times."
As old Harmar concluded these remarks, the old men standing near the
bell nodded approvingly, and some echoed, "Them _was_ great times!" in
a tone which indicated that memory was endeavoring to conjure back the
time of which they spoke. They then slowly turned to descend. Lafayette
had preceded them with his few friends. "Stop!" said old Harmar;
"Wilson, Morton, Smith, and you, Higgins, my son wants you to come home
with me, and take dinner at his house. Come; I want to have some chat
with you over old doings. I may never see you again after you leave
The invitation, cordially given, was cordially accepted, and the party
of old friends descended the stairs, and, arriving at the door, were
assisted by the cheering crowd to get into their carriage, which then
drove towards the residence of old Harmar's son. At that place we shall
consider them as having arrived, and, after much welcoming, introducing,
and other preparatory ceremonies, as seated at a long, well-supplied
table, set in a large and pleasant dining-hall. Young Harmar, his wife,
and the four children, were also accommodated at the same table, and a
scene of conviviality and pleasure was presented such as is not often
witnessed. The old men were very communicative and good-humored; and
young Harmar and his family were free of questions concerning the great
scenes through which they had passed. But we will let the company speak
STORY OF GENERAL WASHINGTON.
"GRANDFATHER," said Thomas Jefferson Harmar, "won't you tell us
something about General Washington?"
"I could tell you many a thing about that man, my child," replied old
Harmar, "but I suppose people know everything concerning him by this
time. You see, these history writers go about hunting up every incident
relating to the war, now, and after a while they'll know more about
it--or say they do--than the men who were actors in it."
"That's not improbable," said young Harmar. "These historians may not
know as much of the real spirit of the people at that period, but that
they should be better acquainted with the mass of facts relating to
battles and to political affairs is perfectly natural." The old man
demurred, however, and mumbled over, that nobody could know the real
state of things who was not living among them at the time.
"But the little boy wants to hear a story about Washington," said
Wilson. "Can't you tell him something about _the_ man? I think I could.
Any one who wants to appreciate the character of Washington, and the
extent of his services during the Revolution, should know the history of
the campaign of 1776, when every body was desponding, and thinking
of giving up the good cause. I tell you, if Washington had not been
superior to all other men, that cause must have sunk into darkness."
"You say well," said Smith. "We, who were at Valley Forge, know
something of his character."
"I remember an incident," said Wilson, "that will give you some idea,
Mrs. Harmar, of the heart George Washington had in his bosom. I suppose
Mr. Harmar has told you something of the sufferings of our men during
the winter we lay at Valley Forge. It was a terrible season. It's hard
to give a faint idea of it in words; but you may imagine a party of
men, with ragged clothes and no shoes, huddled around a fire in a log
hut--the snow about two feet deep on the ground, and the wind driving
fierce and bitter through the chinks of the rude hovel. Many of the men
had their feet frost-bitten, and there were no remedies to be had, like
there is now-a-days. The sentinels suffered terribly, and looked more
like ghosts than men, as they paced up and down before the lines of
"I wonder the men didn't all desert," remarked Mrs. Harmar. "They must
have been uncommon men."
"They were uncommon men, or, at least, they suffered in an uncommon
cause," replied Wilson. "But about General Washington. He saw how the
men were situated, and, I really believe, his heart bled for them. He
would write to Congress of the state of affairs, and entreat that body
to procure supplies; but, you see, Congress hadn't the power to comply.
All it could do was to call on the States, and await the action of their
"Washington's head-quarters was near the camp, and he often came over to
see the poor fellows, and to try to soothe and comfort them; and, I tell
you, the men loved that man as if he had been their father, and would
rather have died with him than have lived in luxury with the red-coat
"I recollect a scene I beheld in the next hut to the one in which I
messed. An old friend, named Josiah Jones, was dying. He was lying on a
scant straw bed, with nothing but rags to cover him. He had been sick
for several days, but wouldn't go under the doctor's hands, as he always
said it was like going into battle, certain of being killed. One day,
when we had no notion of anything of the kind, Josiah called out to us,
as we sat talking near his bed, that he was dying, and wanted us to pray
for him. We were all anxious to do anything for the man, for we loved
him as a brother; but as for praying, we didn't exactly know how to go
about it. To get clear of the service, I ran to obtain the poor fellow a
drink of water to moisten his parched lips.
"While the rest were standing about, not knowing what to do, some one
heard the voice of General Washington in the next hut, where he was
comforting some poor wretches who had their feet almost frozen off.
Directly, he came to our door, and one of the men went and told him the
state of things. Now, you see, a commander-in-chief might have been
justified in being angry that the regulations for the sick had been
disobeyed, and have turned away; but he was a nobler sort of man than
could do that. He entered the hut, and went up to poor Josiah, and asked
him how he was. Josiah told him that he felt as if he was dying, and
wanted some one to pray for him. Washington saw that a doctor could do
the man no good, and he knelt on the ground by him and prayed. We all
knelt down too; we couldn't help it. An old comrade was dying, away from
his home and friends, and there was our general kneeling by him, with
his face turned towards heaven, looking, I thought, like an angel's.
Well, he prayed for Heaven to have mercy on the dying man's soul; to
pardon his sins; and to take him to Himself: and then he prayed for us
all. Before the prayer was concluded, Josiah's spirit had fled, and his
body was cold and stiff. Washington felt the brow of the poor fellow,
and, seeing that his life was out, gave the men directions how to
dispose of the corpse, and then left us to visit the other parts of the
"That was, indeed, noble conduct," said young Harmar. "Did he ever speak
to you afterwards about violating the regulations of the army?"
"No," replied Wilson. "He knew that strict discipline could not be, and
should not have been maintained in that camp. He was satisfied if we
were true to the cause amid all our sufferings."
[ Illustration: WASHINGTON'S PRAYER
FOR THE DYING SOLDIER.]
"Praying at the death-bed of a private," mused Smith aloud. "Well, I
might have conjectured what he would do in such a case, from what I saw
of him. I wonder if history ever spoke of a greater and better man?"
Young Mr. Harmar here felt inclined to launch out into an elaborate
panegyric on the character of Washington, but reflected that it might be
out of place, and therefore contented himself with remarking, "We shall
ne'er look upon his like again."
"He was a dear, good man," remarked Mrs. Harmar.
"Yes," said old Harmar, "General Washington was the main pillar of the
Revolution. As a general, he was vigilant and skilful; but if he had
not been anything more, we might have been defeated and crushed by the
enemy. He had the love and confidence of the men, on account of his
character as a man, and that enabled him to remain firm and full of hope
when his countrymen saw nothing but a gloomy prospect."
THE SPY'S FATE
"Now I'll tell you a story that I have just called to mind," said old
Harmar. "It's of a very different character, though, from the story of
Washington. It's about a spy's fate."
"Where was the scene of it?" inquired Mrs. Harmar.
"Out here on the Schuylkill's banks, just after the British took
possession of this city," replied old Harmar. "There was a man named
James Sykes, who had a lime-kiln on the east bank of the river, and was
manufacturing lime pretty extensively when the enemy came to this city.
While Congress was sitting here, Sykes always professed to be a warm
friend to the colonial cause; but there was always something suspicious
about his movements, and his friends and neighbours did not put much
faith in his professions. He would occasionally be out very late at
night, and sometimes be gone from home for a week, and give very vague
accounts of the business which had occupied him during his absence. Some
of his neighbours suspected that he was acting as one of Sir William
Howe's spies, but they could never get any positive proof of their
"At length the enemy took possession of this city, and then Sykes began
to show that he was not such a very warm friend of the right side. He
went to the head-quarters of the British general frequently, and seemed
to be on the best terms with the enemy. Well, it happened that one of
his old neighbors, named Jones, was the captain of one of the companies
of our line; and he, somehow or other, obtained proof that Sykes was
acting as a spy for the enemy. He informed General Wayne of the fact,
and immediately proposed that he should be allowed to attempt his
capture. Wayne consented, and Captain Jones set about preparing for the
enterprise. Sykes was usually out at his lime-kiln, with some of his
men, during the morning, and, as the guilty are ever suspicious, he
increased the number of his assistants, to ensure himself against
attack. Captain Jones took only twenty men from his company, and left
our camp just before dark. The business was full of danger. The place
where Jones expected to capture the spy was within a mile of a British
out-post; and the greatest secrecy and rapidity of movement was
necessary to prevent surprise by the enemy's scouting parties.
"About daylight, Jones and his party reached the wood near Sykes'
lime-kiln, and halted to reconnoitre. Sykes and four of his men were at
work at that early hour. The lime was burning, and some of the men were
engaged in loading and unloading two carts which stood near the kiln.
Captain Jones' plan was quickly formed. He sent one half his party
around to cut off the escape of Sykes towards the city, and when he
thought they had reached a favorable position sallied out towards the
kiln. When he was about half-way to it, Sykes discovered the party,
and, shouting to his men to follow, ran along the bank of the river
to escape; but the other party cut off retreat, and Jones coming up
rapidly, Sykes and his men were taken. Jones did not intend to detain
the workmen any longer than till he got out of the reach of the British,
when he would not have cared for their giving the alarm. Sykes seemed to
be very anxious to know why he was arrested in that manner; but Jones
simply told him he would know when they got him to the American camp;
and that, if Sykes had not thought of a reason for his arrest, he
would not have attempted to run away. Well, the Americans hurried the
prisoners towards the wood, but Jones soon descried a large party of
British coming over a neighboring hill, and knew that his chance was
a desperate one. Sykes also discovered the party of red-coats, and
struggled hard to make his escape from the Americans. Jones wanted to
bring him alive to the American camp, or he would have shot him down at
once. Suddenly, Sykes broke away from his captors, and ran towards the
lime-kiln. Several muskets were discharged, but all missed him. Then
one of the privates, named Janvers, a daring fellow, rushed after the
prisoner, and caught him just as he reached the kiln. There a fierce
struggle ensued; but Sykes was cut in the shoulder, and, in attempting
to throw his antagonist into the hot lime and fire, was hurled into it
himself. Then Janvers hurried to the woods after his brave comrades. The
British party was near enough to see the struggle at the limekiln, and
came on rapidly in pursuit of our men. A few of the red-coats were
ordered to examine the lime-kiln, to see if Sykes was alive and
concealed; and they found his body burned almost to a crisp."
"Horrible!" exclaimed Mrs. Harmar.
"Well," continued Old Harmar, "there was a long and doubtful race
between the two parties; but Jones succeeded in getting within the lines
of the Americans without losing a man, and with his four prisoners in
safe custody. These fellows were examined, but no evidence of their
being spies and confidants of Sykes could be produced, and they were
discharged with the promise of a terrible punishment if they were
detected tampering with the enemy."
"Captain Jones was a daring fellow to venture so near the British lines,
and with such a small party," observed Morton.
"In such an attempt, a small party was preferable. Its success depended
upon secrecy and quickness of movements," said Wilson.
"It was a horrible death," remarked young Harmar. "Sykes, however,
courted it by treachery to his countrymen."
STORY OF THE SERMON.
"I believe this is the first time I've seen you since the disbanding of
the army, Morton," said Wilson. "Time has been rather severe on us both
since that time."
"Oh, we can't complain," replied Morton. "We can't complain. I never
grumble at my age."
"Some men would have considered themselves fortunate to have seen what
you have seen," said young Harmar. "I think I could bear your years, to
have your experience."
"So do I," added Mrs. Harmar. She always agreed with her husband in
whatever he asserted.
"Let me see," said old Harmar; "where did I first meet you, Higgins?
Oh! wasn't it just before the battle of Brandywine you joined the
"No," answered Smith for Higgins, who, just then, was endeavoring to
make up for his want of teeth by the vigorous exertions of his jaws. "He
joined at the same time I did, before the battle of Germantown."
"Yes, just before the battle of Germantown," added Higgins. "I was not
"You wasn't? Then you missed seeing us retreat," said old Harraar. "But
we did considerable fightin', howsomever. Mad Anthony was there, and he
used to fight, you know--at least the enemy thought so. I shall never
forget the night before that battle."
"Why?" asked Higgins. "Was you on the watch?"
"No, not on that account; something very different. There was a sermon
preached on the evenin' before that battle, such as can only be heard
"A sermon?" enquired Wilson.
"Yes; a sermon preached for our side by the Rev. Joab Prout. I told my
son there about it, and he wrote it into a beautiful sketch for one of
the papers. He's got a knack of words, and can tell about it much better
than I can. Tell them about it, Jackson, just as you wrote it," said old
"Certainly," replied young Harmar. "If I can recall it."
"Do," said Mrs. Harmer; and "Oh! do," added the children; and Mr.
Jackson Harmar did--as follows:--"All day long, on the tenth of
September, 1777, both armies were in the vicinity of each other, and
frequent and desperate skirmishes took place between advanced parties,
without bringing on a general action. At length, as the day closed,
both armies encamped within sight of each other, anxiously awaiting the
morrow, to decide the fate of the devoted city.
"The Americans lay behind Chadd's Ford, with the shallow waters of the
Brandywine between them and their opponents; the line extending two
miles along that stream.
"The sun was just sinking behind the dark hills of the west, gilding the
fading heavens with an autumnal brightness, and shedding a lurid glare
upon the already drooping and discolored foliage of the surrounding
forests. It was an hour of solemn calm. The cool evening breezes stole
softly through the air, as if unwilling to disturb the repose of all
around. The crystal waters of the creek murmured gently in their narrow
bed, and the national standard flapped lazily from the tall flag-staff
on its banks.
"In the American camp, interspersed between groups of tents and stacks
of arms, might be seen little knots of weary soldiers seated on the
ground, resting from the fatigues of the day, and talking in a low but
animated tone of the coming contest.
"Suddenly the tattoo sounded,--not loud and shrill, as on ordinary
occasions, but in a subdued and cautious manner, as if fearful of being
heard by the British, whose white tents might be seen in the distance.
Obedient to the signal, the greater part of the soldiers assembled
in front of the marquee of the commander, near the centre of the
"All was hushed in expectation: soon the tall form of Washington,
wrapped in his military cloak, and attended by a large body of officers,
was seen advancing in their midst. All present respectfully saluted
them, to which they bowed courteously, and then took their seats upon
camp-stools set for them by a servant. The venerable Joab Prout,
chaplain of the Pennsylvania line, then stood upon the stump of a tree,
and commanded silence--for it was the hour of prayer.
"Here was a scene of moral grandeur unsurpassed by anything in the
annals of war. There, on that still, cool evening, when the sky was
darkening into night, were assembled some eight thousand men; very many
of whom would never look upon the glorious sunset again. From the humble
cottages in the quiet valley of the Connecticut--from the statelier
mansions of the sunny South--at the call of liberty, they had rushed to
the tented field; and now, on the eve of battle, as brethren in heart
and deed, had met together to implore the God of battles to smile upon
their noble cause.
"Oh! it was a thrilling and an august sight! The mild and dignified
Washington looked around him with proud emotion, and turned enquiringly
to the fair young stranger, Lafayette, beside him, as if to ask, 'Can
such men as these be vanquished?'
"The bold and fearless Wayne was there; the undaunted Pulaski, and the
whole-hearted Kosciusko; and they bowed their heads in reverence to Him
in whose presence they were worshipping.
"Never beneath the vaulted dome of the stately temple--never from the
lips of the eloquent divine--was seen such a congregation, or was heard
such a discourse, as on that September evening, from that humble old
man, with his grey locks streaming in the wind.
"With a firm, clear voice, that re-echoed to the distant hills, he
announced his text:--
_'They that take the sword shall perish by the sword.'_
Then, straightening himself to his full height, and his eye beaming with
a holy feeling inspired by the time and place, he commenced:--
"'_They that take the sword shall perish by the sword.'_
'Soldiers and Countrymen:
We have met this evening perhaps for the last time. We have shared
the toil of the march, the peril of the fight, the dismay of the
retreat--alike we have endured cold and hunger, the contumely of the
internal foe, and outrage of the foreign oppressor. We have sat, night
after, night, beside the same camp-fire, shared the same rough soldiers'
fare; we have together heard the roll of the reveille, which called us
to duty, or the beat of the tattoo, which gave the signal for the hardy
sleep of the soldier, with the earth for his bed, the knapsack for his
'And now, soldiers and brethren, we have met in a peaceful valley,
on the eve of battle, while the sunlight is dying away behind yonder
heights--the sunlight that, to-morrow morn, will glimmer on scenes of
blood. We have met, amid the whitening tents of our encampment,--in
times of terror and of gloom have we gathered together--God grant it may
not be for the last time!
'It is a solemn moment. Brethren, does not the solemn voice of nature
seem to echo the sympathies of the hour? The flag of our country droops
heavily from yonder staff; the breeze has died away along the green
plain of Chadd's Ford--the plain that spreads before us, glistening
in the sunlight; the heights of the Brandywine arise gloomy and grand
beyond the waters of yonder stream, and all nature holds a pause of
solemn silence, on the eve of the uproar and bloodshed and strife of
"The propriety of this language was manifest. Breathless attention was
pictured upon every countenance, and the smallest whisper could be
distinctly heard. Pausing a moment, as if running back, in his mind's
eye, over the eventful past, he again repeated his text:--
"'They that take the sword shall perish by the sword.'
'And have they not taken the sword?
'Let the desolated plain, the blood-soddened valley, the burnt
farm-house, blackening in the sun, the sacked village, and the ravaged
town, answer; let the whitening bones of the butchered farmer, strewn
along the fields of his homestead, answer; let the starving mother, with
the babe clinging to the withered breast, that can afford no sustenance,
let her answer; with the death-rattle mingling with the murmuring tones
that mark the last struggle for life--let the dying mother and her babe
'It was but a day past and our land slept in peace. War was not
here--wrong was not here. Fraud, and woe, and misery, and want, dwelt not
among us. From the eternal solitude of the green woods arose the blue
smoke of the settler's cabin, and golden fields of corn looked forth
from amid the waste of the wilderness, and the glad music of human
voices awoke the silence of the forest.
'Now! God of mercy, behold the change! Under the shadow of a
pretext--under the sanctity of the name of God--invoking the Redeemer to
their aid, do these foreign hirelings slay our people! They throng our
towns; they darken our plains; and now they encompass our posts on the
lonely plain of Chadd's Ford.
"The effect was electric. The keen eye of the in-trepid Wayne flashed
fire. The neighboring sentinels, who had paused to listen, quickened
their pace, with a proud tread and a nervous feeling, impatient for
vengeance on the vandal foe.
"Gathering strength once more, he checked the choking sensations his own
recital had caused, and continued:
"'They that take the sword shall perish by the sword.'
"Brethren, think me not unworthy of belief, when I tell you that the
doom of the Britisher is near! Think me not vain, when I tell you that
beyond the cloud that now enshrouds us, I see gathering, thick and fast,
the darker cloud and the blacker storm of a Divine retribution!
'They may conquer us on the morrow! Might and wrong may prevail, and we
may be driven from this field--but the hour of God's own vengeance will
'Ay, if in the vast solitudes of eternal space, if in the heart of the
boundless universe, there throbs the being of an awful God, quick
to avenge, and sure to punish guilt, then will the man, George of
Brunswick, called king, feel in his brain and in his heart the vengeance
of the Eternal Jehovah! A blight will be upon his life--a withered
brain, an accurst intellect; a blight will be upon his children, and on
his people. Great God! how dread the punishment!
'A crowded populace, peopling the dense towns where the man of money
thrives, while the labourer starves; want striding among the people
in all its forms of terror; an ignorant and God-defying priesthood
chuckling over the miseries of millions; a proud and merciless nobility
adding wrong to wrong, and heaping insult upon robbery and fraud;
royalty corrupt to the very heart; aristocracy rotten to the core; crime
and want linked hand in hand, and tempting men to deeds of woe and
death--these are a part of the doom and the retribution that shall come
upon the English throne and the English people!'
"This was pronounced with a voice of such power, that its tones might
have reached almost to the Briton's camp, and struck upon the ear of
Howe as the prophetic inspiration of one whose keen eye had read from
the dark tablets of futurity.
"Looking around upon the officers, he perceived that Washington and
Lafayette had half risen from their seats, and were gazing spell-bound
at him, as if to drink in every word he uttered.
"Taking advantage of the pervading feeling, he went on:--
"'Soldiers--I look around upon your familiar faces with a strange
interest! To-morrow morning we will all go forth to battle--for need I
tell you that your unworthy minister will march with you, invoking God's
aid in the fight?--we will march forth to battle! Need I exhort you to
fight the good fight, to fight for your homesteads, and for your wives
'My friends, I might urge you to fight, by the galling memories of
British wrong! Walton--I might tell you of your father butchered in the
silence of midnight on the plains of Trenton; I might picture his grey
hairs dabbled in blood; I might ring his death-shriek in your ears.
Shelmire--I might tell you of a mother butchered, and a sister
outraged--the lonely farm-house, the night assault, the roof in flames,
the shouts of the troopers, as they despatch their victim, the cries
for mercy, the pleadings of innocence for pity. I might paint this all
again, in the terrible colors of the vivid reality, if I thought your
courage needed such wild excitement.
'But I know you are strong in the might of the Lord. You will forth to
battle on the morrow with light hearts and determined spirits, though
the solemn duty--the duty of avenging the dead--may rest heavy on your
'And in the hour of battle, when all around is darkness, lit by the
lurid cannon glare and the piercing musket flash--when the wounded strew
the ground, and the dead litter your path--then remember, soldiers, that
God is with you. The eternal God fights for you--He rides on the battle
cloud, He sweeps onward with the march of the hurricane charge--God, the
Awful and the Infinite, fights for you, and you will triumph.'
"Roused by this manly and pathetic appeal, a low murmur ran from man
to man, as a heartfelt response; and the chieftains who were near the
speaker, felt proud and happy in the command of such true hearts and
tried blades. But darkness was enveloping all, and he hastened to
"'They that take the sword shall perish by the sword.'
'You have taken the sword, but not in the spirit of wrong and ravage.
You have taken the sword for your homes, for your wives, for your little
ones. You have taken the sword for truth, for justice and right, and to
you the promise is, Be of good cheer, for your foes have taken the sword
in defiance of all that man holds dear, in blasphemy of God--they shall
_perish by the sword_.
'And now, brethren and soldiers, I bid you all farewell. Many of us may
fall in the fight of to-morrow--God rest the souls of the fallen; many
of us may live to tell the story of the fight of to-morrow; and, in
the memory of all, will ever rest and linger the quiet scene of this
'Solemn twilight advances over the valley; the woods on the opposite
heights fling their long shadows over the green of the meadow; around
us are the tents of the continental host, the suppressed bustle of the
camp, the hurried tramp of the soldiers to and fro among the tents, the
stillness and silence that marks the eve of battle.
'When we meet again, may the long shadows of twilight be flung over a
'God in heaven grant it.'
"And now the last ray of lingering light had departed, and they were
left in darkness. Presuming it proper to dismiss his auditors, he
proposed a parting prayer, and immediately every head was uncovered and
bowed in reverence, while, with outstretched hands, that sincere old man
in the homespun garb thus addressed the throne of grace.
"'Great Father, we bow before thee. We invoke thy blessing, we deprecate
thy wrath, we return thee thanks for the past, we ask thy aid for the
future. For we are in times of trouble, oh, Lord! and sore beset by
foes, merciless and unpitying; the sword gleams over our land, and
the dust of the soil is dampened with the blood of our neighbors and
'Oh! God of mercy, we pray thy blessing on the American arms. Make the
man of our hearts strong in thy wisdom; bless, we beseech, with renewed
life and strength, our hope and thy instrument, even GEORGE WASHINGTON.
Shower thy counsels on the honorable, the Continental Congress.
Visit the tents of our host; comfort the soldier in his wounds and
afflictions; nerve him for the hour of fight; prepare him for the hour
'And in the hour of defeat, oh, God of Hosts, do thou be our stay; and
in the hour of triumph be thou our guide.
'Teach us to be merciful. Though the memory of galling wrongs be at our
hearts, knocking for admittance, that they may fill us with desires for
revenge, yet let us, oh, Lord, spare the vanquished, though they never
spared us in their hour of butchery and bloodshed. And, in the hour of
death, do thou guide us into the abode prepared for the blest; so shall
we return thanks unto thee, through Christ, our Redeemer.--GOD PROSPER
During the recital of this interesting and thrilling incident of the
Revolution, the veterans--even Higgins, too--laid down their knives
and forks, and listened as if carried back to the memorable eve of the
battle of Brandywine, and filled with the hopes and fears of the period.
At its conclusion, they expressed their approbation of the manner of the
recital, and the beauty of the sermon.
"That minister was one of the kind that I like," said Wilson. "He could
preach peace as long as peace was wise, and buckle on his armor and
fight when it became his duty."
"Mr. Harmer handles his pen well," remarked Morton, "but such an
incident would make any pen write well of itself. There's fire in it."
"Yes, a whole heap of fire," put in Mrs. Harmar, who thought she must
make a remark, as she had been quieting the children while the latter
part of the sermon and the remarks upon it were listened to by the
"But the Lord didn't assist us much in that next day's battle," said old
Harmar. "We had hard fighting, and then were compelled to retreat."
"It was all for the best," said Wilson. "We shouldn't have known our
enemies nor ourselves without losing that battle. The harder the
struggle for liberty, the more we enjoy it when won."
"That's true," said young Harmar, "The freedom dearest bought is highest
prized, and Americans have learned the value of that inestimable gem."
The dinner was, by this time, pretty well disposed of, and the party
adjourned to the large parlor, where they were soon comfortable seated.
Mrs. Harmar would make one of the company, and the children would force
their way in to see and hear the "sogers." The windows were up, and the
gentle breeze of summer blew softly through the parlor, thus relieving
the otherwise oppressive atmosphere.
But we must introduce the company to the reader. Old Hannar was seated
on one end of the sofa, with one of the small children on his knee. He
was a stout, hearty-looking man of about seventy, with silvery hair,
and a face much embrowned by exposure and furrowed by time. The general
expression of his features was a hearty good humor, as if perfectly
satisfied with things around. On the other end of the sofa sat Mr.
Higgins, a thin, small-featured, bald-headed man, looking much older
than old Mr. Harmar. On the opposite sofa sat Mr. Morton and Mr. Wilson.
The first was a large-bodied, full-faced man, slightly bald, with a scar
across his forehead, from the right eye to the left side of his head.
His appearance bespoke an active life, and a strong constitution; and
his eye yet beamed with intelligence. Mr. Wilson was evidently about
seventy-five, with a long, lank face, tall figure, and head scantily
covered with grey hair. Mr. Smith sat in an easy arm-chair. His
appearance was much the same as that of Mr. Higgins, though his face
expressed more intelligence. He had a troublesome cough, and was
evidently very weak. Mr. Jackson Harmar sat on a chair next to his
father. He was about thirty-five, rather short and thin, with long brown
hair, wild, blue eyes, in a "fine frenzy rolling," and a very literary
appearance generally. Mrs. Harraar sat near her husband, with two very
mischievous little boys, apparently about six and eight years of age, by
her side. She had a childish face, but might have been thought pretty by
a loving and indulgent husband.
STORY OF THE PRAYER.
"There is only one other scene during the struggle for our country's
right," said young Harmar, "which I would compare with the one I have
just narrated; and that is the scene in Congress--the old Continental
Congress--during the first prayer by the Rev. Mr. Duche."
"I've heard something of that prayer," said Morton, "since the
Revolution, but nothing that I could depend on."
"An account of the scene is given by John Adams, who was a chief actor
in it," said young Harmar.
"Old John Adams?" enquired Higgins. "He was the man! He was the
Washington of our politics during the war. He was the man!" and Higgins
rubbed his hands together.
"Thomas Jefferson, take your foot off your brother's, and quit pinching
him," interrupted Mrs. Harmar.
"I have Mr. Adams' account of that first prayer and its effects," said
young Harmar, "and here it is." So saying, he pulled from his pocket a
paper into which the account had been copied, and read:--
"'When the Congress met, Mr. Gushing made a motion that it should be
opened with prayer. It was opposed by Mr. Jay, of New York, and Mr.
Rutledge, of South Carolina, because we were so divided in our religious
sentiments, some Episcopalians, some Quakers, some Anabaptists, some
Presbyterians, and some Congregationalists, that we could not join in
the same act of worship. Mr. Samuel Adams arose and said, 'that he was
no bigot, and could hear a prayer from any gentleman of piety, and who
was, at the same time, a friend of his country. He was a stranger in
Philadelphia, but had heard that Mr. Duche (Dushay they pronounced it)
deserved that character, and therefore he moved that Mr. Duche, an
Episcopal clergyman, might be desired to read prayers to the Congress
to-morrow morning.' The motion was seconded, and passed in the
affirmative.--Mr. Randolph, our President, waited on Mr. Duche, and
received for answer, that if his health would permit he certainly would.
Accordingly, next morning he appeared with his clerk, and, in his
pontificals, read several prayers in the established form, and then read
the collect for the seventh day of September, which was the thirty-fifth
psalm. You must remember, this was the next morning after we had heard
the rumor of the horrible cannonade of Boston. _It seemed as if Heaven
had ordained that psalm to be read on that morning_.
"'After this, Mr. Duche, unexpectedly to every body, struck out into an
extemporary prayer which filled the bosom of every man present. I must
confess I never heard a better prayer, or one so well pronounced.
Episcopalian as he is, Dr. Cooper himself never prayed with such fervor,
such correctness and pathos, and in language so elegant and sublime, for
America, for Congress, for the province of Massachusetts Bay, especially
the town of Boston. It has had an excellent effect upon every body here.
I must beg you to read that psalm. If there is any faith in the sortes
Virgilianae, or sortes Homericae, or especially the sortes Biblicae, it
would be thought providential.'
"The thirty-fifth psalm was indeed appropriate to the news received, and
the exigencies of the times. It commences:--
"'Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that fight against me.
'Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help.
'Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute
me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.'
"What a subject for contemplation does this picture present. The
forty-four members of the first Congress, in their Hall, all bent before
the mercy-seat, and asking Him that their enemies 'might be as chaff
before the wind.' WASHINGTON was kneeling there; and Henry and Randolph,
and Rutledge, and Lee, and Jay; and by their side there stood, bowed in
reverence, the Puritan patriots of New England, who, at that moment,
had reason to believe that an armed soldiery was wasting their humble
households. It was believed that Boston had been bombarded and
destroyed. They prayed fervently 'for America, for the Congress, for the
province of Massachusetts Bay, and especially for the town of Boston;'
and who can realize the emotion with which they turned imploringly to
Heaven for divine interposition and aid? 'It was enough to melt a heart
of stone. I saw the tears gush into the eyes of the old, grave Quakers
"Yes," said Wilson, when young Harmar had concluded, "that was a scene
equal, at least, to the one on the eve of Brandywine: how finely old
John Adams speaks about it!"
"That Dr. Duche forgot his connexion with the Church of England, and
only thought of his country," remarked Morton. "He was a good man."
"Yes; and he prayed in the presence of as good a set of men as was ever
assembled together," added Smith. "Them was men--those Congressmen. They
didn't get eight dollars a day for making speeches."
"No," put in Higgins, "but they earned a great deal more. Some of 'em
lost all the property they had, during the war."
"The spirit which animated our countrymen at that period was the noblest
which could prompt the deeds of men," said young Harmar, growing quite
eloquent. "From the men who emptied the tea into Boston harbor, to the
statesman of the Continental Congress, all were filled with patriotism,
and that's the most unselfish of human motives."
STORY OF LYDIA DARRAGH.
"Mrs. Harmar, your sex nobly maintained their reputation for devotion
and patriotism during the Revolution," said Wilson. "Did you ever hear
how a Quaker lady, named Lydia Darragh, saved the army under Washington
from being surprised?"
"No, never," replied Mrs. Harmar.
"No! Then, as a Philadelphia lady, you should know about it," said
"The superior officers of the British army were accustomed to hold their
consultations on all subjects of importance at the house of William and
Lydia Darragh, members of the Society of Friends, immediately opposite
to the quarters of the commander-in-chief, in Second street. It was
in December, in the year that they occupied the city, that the
adjutant-general of the army desired Lydia to have an apartment prepared
for himself and friends, and to order her family early to bed; adding,
when ready to depart, 'Notice shall be given to you to let us out, and
to extinguish the fire and candles.' The manner of delivering this
order, especially that part of it which commanded the early retirement
of her family, strongly excited Lydia's curiosity, and determined her,
if possible, to discover the mystery of their meeting. Approaching
without shoes the room in which the conference was held, and placing her
ear to the keyhole, she heard the order read for the troops to quit the
city on the night of the 4th, to attack the American army encamped at
White Marsh. Returning immediately to her room, she laid herself down,
but, in a little while, a loud knocking at the door, which for some time
she pretended not to hear, proclaimed the intention of the party to
retire. Having let them out, she again sought her bed, but not to sleep;
the agitation of her mind prevented it. She thought only of the dangers
that threatened the lives of thousands of her countrymen, and believing
it to be in her power to avert the evil, determined, at all hazards, to
apprize General Washington of his danger. Telling her husband, at early
dawn, that flour was wanting for domestic purposes, and that she should
go to Frankford to obtain it, she repaired to headquarters, got access
to General Howe, and obtained permission to pass the British lines.
Leaving her bag at the mill, Lydia now pressed forward towards the
American army, and meeting Captain Allen M'Lean, an officer, from his
superior intelligence and activity, selected by General Washington to
gain intelligence, discovered to him the important secret, obtaining
his promise not to jeopardize her safety by telling from whom he
had obtained it. Captain M'Lean, with all speed, informed the
commander-in-chief of his danger, who, of course, took every necessary
step to baffle the contemplated enterprize, and to show the enemy that
he was prepared to receive them. Lydia returned home with her flour,
secretly watched the movements of the British, and saw them depart. Her
anxiety during their absence was excessive, nor was it lessened when, on
their return, the adjutant-general, summoning her to his apartment and
locking the door with an air of mystery, demanded 'Whether any of the
family were up on the night that he had received company at her house?'
She told him, that, without an exception, they had all retired at eight
o'clock. 'You, I know, Lydia, were asleep, for I knocked at your door
three times before you heard me, yet, although I am at a loss to
conceive who gave the information of our intended attack to General
Washington, it is certain we were betrayed; for, on arriving near his
encampment, we found his cannon mounted, his troops under arms, and at
every point so perfectly prepared to receive us, that we were compelled,
like fools, to make a retrograde movement, without inflicting on our
enemy any manner of injury whatever.'"
"Ha! ha! a neat stratagem, and a patriotic woman," exclaimed young
"Talking of the services of the women during the war," said Higgins,
"reminds me of Molly Macauly, or Sergeant Macauly, as we knew her while
in the army. She was a Pennsylvanian, and was so enthusiastic in her
patriotism, that she donned a man's dress, and joined the army, when she
became a sergeant, and fought bravely in several battles and skirmishes.
Nobody suspected that she was not what she seemed to be; for she was
tall, stout, and rough-looking, and associated with men very freely.
Molly had a custom of swinging her sabre over her head, and hurraing for
Mad Anthony, as she called General Wayne. She was wounded at Brandywine,
and, her sex being discovered, returned home."
"She was not the only woman in disguise in the army," said old Harmar.
"There was Elizabeth Canning, who was at Fort Washington, and, when her
husband was killed, took his place at the gun, loading, priming, and
firing with good effect, till she was wounded in the breast by a
grape-shot. While our army lay at Valley Forge, several Pennsylvania
women were detected in disguise, enduring all kinds of want, and with
less murmuring than the men themselves. Oh, yes! the women were all
right in those days, however they may have degenerated since."
"Come, no slander on the women of the present day," said Mrs. Harmar.
"I've no doubt, take them all in all; they will not suffer in comparison
with those of any age."
"Bravo! Mrs. Harmar," exclaimed Wilson.
"Women, now, are ready enough with disguises," remarked young Harmar.
"To be sure!" replied his wife, "and always were."
THE DEAD MAN'S LAKE.
"Mr. Smith, can't we have a leaf from your experience in those trying
times?" said old Harmar.
"Ah! sir, I would have much to tell if I had time to collect my
memory--much to tell, sir. But though I saw a great deal in the
Revolution, I heard much more."
"Tell us anything to pass time," said young Harmar. "I've heard my
father speak of some bold exploits up in the vicinity of New York. The
history of the Cowboys and Skinners always interested me."
"Ah! I've heard many a story of them," replied Smith. "I'll tell you of
one old Jack Hanson told me--you recollect old Jack, don't you, Harmar?
He was with us at Valley Forge."
"That I do," replied old Harmer. "He gave me a piece of his blanket, and
an old shoe, when I believe I was freezing to death."
"Yes, he was ever a good-hearted fellow--Jack Hanson was. He's been dead
now about ten years. Well, as I was saying, he told me a story about
those Cowboys and Skinners which will bear telling again."
"It happened when the British were in possession of the city of New
York. Many brave men did all that could be done to destroy the power and
comfort of the king's representatives, and alarm them for their personal
safety; and, to the greater part of them, the neighboring county of West
Chester furnished both the home, and a theatre of action. Their system
of warfare partook of the semi-savage and partisan predatory character,
and many fierce and desperate encounters took place between them and the
outlawed hordes of desperadoes in the pay of the British.
"The refugees, banded together for the purpose of preying upon
the patriots, and then retreating behind the shelter of the royal
fortifications, were composed of the vilest miscreants that could be
gathered from the dregs of any community, and were generally known by
the slang name of 'Skinners.'
"To oppose these desperadoes, and protect their lives and property from
insult, many of the whigs had united in small parties, and were styled
by the Skinners, in derision, the 'Cow-boys.' One of the most active and
energetic of these bands, ever ready for any species of patriotic duty,
was led by Nicholas Odell. Nick, as he was familiarly termed, though
entirely uneducated, was one of the shrewdest men to be found; for
Nature had gifted him where cultivation was wanting, and he became, in
consequence, a most formidable and dangerous enemy in the service he had
chosen. But fifty men composed his entire force, and with these he did
his country much service, and the enemy no little mischief.
"The line of the Bronx River was the route always kept in view by Nick
and his men; and, at six several points, places of rendezvous were
established, at which they were generally to be found when off duty,
which was, indeed, seldom the case.
"One of these places was on the banks of that stream, where the water
was so wide and deep as to render it perilous for any but an expert and
experienced swimmer to attempt its passage, and always placid, with a
sort of oily surface looking like the backed waters of a mill-pond. The
banks were covered with a thick undergrowth of vines, saplings, and
trees in abundance, so that autumn did not, by taking away the leaves,
expose the spot to the observation of the passer-by. Here a rude board
shanty had been knocked up in a hurry, and was used to shelter the men
from the intense cold of the winter nights. This episode in the stream
Nick had named 'Dead Man's Lake,' in consequence of finding on its
banks the body of a man who had been murdered and mutilated by his old
enemies, the Skinners.
"One evening, in the depth of winter, Nick, who had been a long distance
above White Plains, hastened back to the lake in order to intercept
a body of Skinners, on their way from Connecticut to the city, with
considerable booty taken from the inhabitants in the vicinity of the
Sound. They numbered about eighty, under the control of a petty Scotch
officer named McPherson. Nick had contrived to gain intelligence of
their movements and access to their party, by means of John Valentine,
one of his own scouts, who, by his direction, had met and joined the
tories with a specious tale, and promised to lead them through the
country so securely that none of the prowling rebels should encounter
"Previous to John's starting on his perilous adventure, it was agreed
that Nick, with all his men, should remain the whole night in question
concealed at the lake, without entering the hut. John was then to bring
the refugees to the spot, shelter them in the hut, and, at a favorable
moment, he would sing out, 'Hurrah for Gin'ral Washington, and down with
the red-coats!' when the Cow-boys were to rush in, and take them by
"Having reached the lake about nine o'clock in the evening, Nick
proceeded to devise a plan for concealment, for he expected to wait
several hours. The cold was intense, and, like all the servants
of Congress, Nick and his men were but ill prepared to resist the
inclemency of the weather.
"Nick was in perplexity; no plan could be devised with satisfaction to
the majority, and they stood in absolute danger of perishing with cold.
The debate on the subject was still in progress, when heavy flakes
of snow began to fall briskly, with promising appearances of a long
continuance. 'Good!' said Nick, half in soliloquy, as he viewed the
feathery element, and a new idea seemed to strike him, 'I have hit it at
last. Boys, no grumblin' or skulkin' now, for I won't have it. You must
do as I am goin' to order, or we part company.'
"So saying, he directed the whole of his men to enter a swamp meadow
which was behind the shanty, and had been rendered hard and porous by
the weather. Here he directed them to spread their blankets, and lie
down with the locks of their muskets between their knees, and the muzzle
protected by a wooden stopper kept for the purpose. Nick enforced this
command with an explanation of its advantages: the snow being dry, and
not subject to drift, would soon cover them, keeping them quite warm,
and would also conceal them at their ease. The porous quality of the
ground would enable them to distinguish the distant approach of the
enemy, and therefore they could snatch a few moments sleep in the snow.
To prevent its being fatal or injurious, he made each man, previous to
lying down, drink freely of rye whiskey. Four long hours elapsed, by
which time the hardy patriots were completely under the snow, being
covered with nearly eight inches of it.
"The keenest eye, or acutest cunning, could not have detected in those
undulating hillocks aught but the natural irregularities of swampy
"At length, about two o'clock in the morning, John arrived with his
_devoted_ followers. They were right thankful for the shelter of the
shanty, and McPherson swore he would report John's generous conduct at
head-quarters, and procure him a deserved reward.
"'Wait,' said John; '_I have not done the half that I intend to do for
"Nick, whose _bed_ was nearest the hovel, now arose, and placed himself
against it, that he might be ready to act when John's signal was given.
He first, however, awoke his men, without permitting them to rise, by
the summary process of slightly pricking each one with the sharp point
of a bayonet.
"The tories, stowed like sheep in the little hut, soon began to drink,
and, as they did so, became very valorous and boastful. McPherson,
singularly communicative to John, detailed his atrocities on the route
with savage exultation. He feared no assault--not he! He was strong
enough to repel any handful of half-starved, skulking outlaws. If he
caught any of the Cow-boys he would hang them to their own trees, and
manure the soil with the blood of their women.
"John had crept to the door by degrees, and now stood with his hand upon
the raised latchet. He applauded the officer's remarks, and was willing,
he said, to aid him in the deed he contemplated. He then proposed
a toast, and, filling a tin-cup with liquor, said in a loud voice,
'_Hurrah for Ginral Washington, and down with the red-coats_!' The
liquor was dashed in McPherson's face, and John vanished from the hut.
Nick immediately summoned his men by a repetition of the toast, and the
fifty hillocks of snow were suddenly changed, as if by magic, into as
many armed and furious 'rebels.' Before the Skinners could recover from
the momentary surprise into which this curious incident had thrown them,
a volley of powder and shot had been fired into their midst. Dashing
like a frightened hare through the open door, McPherson beheld his
assailants. His fears magnified their numbers, and, conceiving there was
no hope in _fight_, he summoned his men to follow him in _flight_.
"They madly rushed after him, and forcing their way through the dry
limbs of brush that stuck up on the banks of the lake, gained the frozen
surface. More than one half their number had taken this course, while
the rest had either fallen victims to the first fire, or taken to their
heels towards the main road. Suddenly a terrible crash was heard,
accompanied by a splash, and a hubbub of unearthly screams. The ice
had broken, and 'Dead Man's Lake' was accomplishing a victory for the
handful of American patriots who stood upon its banks.
"The result was, that over twenty of the Skinners were taken prisoners.
Only half-a-dozen were killed by fire-arms. The lake was examined at
sunrise, and fifteen bodies were drawn from its remorseless bosom. The
remainder, McPherson among them, escaped."
"That Nick Odell was nearly equal to old Nick himself in stratagems,"
said Wilson, when Smith had concluded.
"It's a wonder the men didn't freeze to death under the snow," said
Morton. "I think I should have been opposed to trying such a way of
disposing of myself."
"Oh! there 's no doubt about its keeping you warm," said old Harmar.
"How can cold snow keep men warm?" enquired Thomas Jefferson Harmar.
"I suppose," answered Higgins, "that it's much like blowing your warm
breath on anything hot to cool it."
As nobody seemed disposed to contradict this explanation, old Higgins
took it for granted that he was correct; and Thomas Jefferson was
[Illustration: DEFEAT OF THE SKINNERS AT DEADMAN'S LAKE.]
[Illustration: THE STORY OF THE HALF-BREED.]
STORY OF THE HALF-BREED.
"Now," said young Harmar, who, as a literary gentleman, was anxious to
collect as many incidents of the Revolution as he could from these old
men; "now, Mr. Higgins, you must oblige us by recalling something of
"Ah!" replied Higgins, "if I could tell in words a small part of what I
know of the war, I'm sure I could interest you."
"We are not critical," said old Harmar. "Jackson may think of his
bookish notions sometimes; but he knows what kind of old men we are.
Narrate anything that comes uppermost."
"Well," commenced Higgins, "I'll tell you about an adventure of a
friend of mine, named Humphries, with a half-breed--that's horribly
interesting--if I can only recollect it." And, after a short pause, to
let his old memory bring up the incidents from the far past, Higgins
told the following story of revenge.
"In the country around Saratoga, when General Gates lay encamped there,
lived a half-breed Indian, called Blonay. He was well known in the
neighborhood as a fierce and outlawed character, who wandered and
skulked from place to place, sometimes pretending to be for the
Americans, and, at others, for the tories. He went anywhere, and did
everything to serve his own ends; but his whole life, and all his
actions, seemed centred in one darling object, and that was revenge.
He had deeply and fearfully sworn never to rest until he had drawn the
heart's blood of Humphries, a member of Morgan's corps, and his greatest
enemy. They had been mortal foes from boyhood, and a blow Humphries had
given Blonay had fixed their hatred for life. He had pursued him from
place to place with untiring vigilance, and had watched, day after day,
and month after month, for an opportunity to glut his revenge, but none
"One morning, Humphries and a comrade named Davis, with a negro servant
belonging to Marion's band, were standing on a small hill near the
encampment, when a strange dog suddenly appeared through the bushes, at
the sight of which Humphries seized his rifle, and raised it to his eye,
as if about to fire. The black was about to express his surprise at this
sudden ferocity of manner, when, noticing that the dog was quiet, he
lowered the weapon, and, pointing to the animal, asked Davis if he knew
it. 'I do; but can't say where I've seen him,' replied the other. 'And
what do you say, Tom?' he asked of the black, in tones that startled
him. 'Don't _you_ know that dog?' 'He face berry familiar, massa, but I
loss to recollect.' 'That's the cur of Blonay, and the bear-eyed rascal
must be in the neighborhood.' 'Do you think so?' inquired Davis. 'Think
so! I know so; and why should he be here if his master was not?' 'Tom,'
he continued, 'hit the critter a smart blow with your stick--hard enough
to scare him off, but not to hurt him; and do you move to the edge of
the creek, Davis, as soon as the dog runs off, for his master must be in
that direction, and I want to see him.'
"Thus ordering, he called two of the riflemen that were near, and sent
them on the path directly opposite to that taken by Davis. He himself
prepared to strike the creek at a point between these two. He then made
a signal, and Tom gave the dog a heavy blow, which sent him howling into
the swamp, taking, as they had expected, the very path he came. Blonay,
however, was not to be caught napping. He left the point from which
he was watching the camp, and running in a line for some fifty yards,
turned suddenly about for the point at which he had entered the swamp.
But he could not but have some doubts as to the adequacy of his
concealment. He cursed the keen scent of the dog, which he feared would
too quickly discover him to his pursuers. He hurried on, therefore,
taking the water at every chance, to leave as small a trail as possible;
but, from place to place, the cur kept after him, giving forth an
occasional yelp. 'Aroint the pup! there's no losin' him. If I had my
hand on him, I should knife him as my best caution,' exclaimed the
half-breed, as the bark of the dog, in making a new trail, showed the
success with which he pursued him. Exasperated, he rose upon a stump,
and saw the head of Humphries, who was still pressing on, led by the
cries of the dog.
"'I can hit him now,' muttered Blonay. 'It's not two hundred yards, and
I've hit a smaller mark than that at a greater distance, before now.'
"He raised the rifle and brought the sight to his eye, and would have
fired, but the next minute Humphries was covered by a tree. The dog came
on, and Blonay heard the voices of his pursuers behind; and just then
the dog reached him.
"The faithful animal, little knowing the danger into which he had
brought his master, leaped fondly upon him, testifying his joy by
yelping with his greatest vocal powers.
"With a hearty curse, Blonay grasped the dog by the back of the neck,
and, drawing the skin tightly across the throat, quickly passed the keen
edge of his knife but once over it, and then thrust the body from him.
Sheathing the knife and seizing his rifle, he again set forward, and did
not stop till he gained a small but thick under-brush. His pursuers
now came up to the dead body of the dog; seeing which, they considered
further pursuit hopeless.
"At this moment, sounds of a trumpet came from the camp, as the signal
to return. Humphries told the others to obey its summons, but avowed his
determination of pursuing Blonay until he or the other had fallen. After
they had left him, he again set forward, and walked very fast in the
direction he supposed his enemy had taken, and had not proceeded far ere
he saw his track in the mud, which he followed until it was lost among
the leaves. Darkness coming on, he gave up the chase until the next
morning. That night both slept in the swamp, not more than two hundred
yards apart, but unconscious of each other's locality. In the morning,
Humphries was the first to awake. Descending from the tree where he had
slept, he carefully looked around, thinking what he should do next.
While he thus stood, a slight noise reached his ears, sounding like
the friction of bark; a repetition of it showed where it came from. He
glanced at an old cypress which stood in the water near him, and saw
that its trunk was hollow, but did not look as if it would hold a man.
On a sudden, something prompted him to look upward, and, in the quick
glance he gave, the glare of a wild and well-known eye, peeping out upon
him from its woody retreat, met his gaze. With a howl of delight, he
raised his rifle, and the drop of the deadly instrument fell upon the
aperture; but before he could draw the trigger the object was gone. It
was Blonay, who, the moment he perceived the aim of Humphries' piece,
sank into the body of the tree.
"'Come out and meet your enemy like a man!' exclaimed Humphries, 'and
don't crawl, like a snake, into a hollow tree, and wait for his heel.
Come out, you skunk! You shall have fair fight, and your own distance.
It shall be the quickest fire that shall make the difference of chances
between us. Come out, if you're a man!' Thus he raved at him; but a
fiendish laugh was the only answer he got. He next tried to cut his legs
with his knife, by piercing the bark; but a bend of the tree, on which
Blonay rested, prevented him. He then selected from some fallen limbs
one of the largest, which he carried to the tree and thrust into the
hollow, trying to wedge it between the inner knobs on which the feet of
the half-breed evidently were placed. But Blonay soon became aware of
his design, and opposed it with a desperate effort. Baffled for a long
time by his enemy, Humphries became enraged, and, seizing upon a jagged
knot of light wood, he thrust it against one of the legs of Blonay.
Using another heavy knot as a mallet, he drove the wedge forward against
the yielding flesh, which became awfully torn and lacerated by the sharp
edges of the wood. Under the severe pain, the feet were drawn up, and
Humphries was suffered to proceed with his original design. The poor
wretch, thus doomed to be buried alive, was now willing to come to any
terms, and agreed to accept the offer to fight; but Humphries refused
him, exclaiming, 'No, you don't, you cowardly skunk! you shall die in
your hole, like a varmint as you are; and the tree which has been your
house shall be your coffin. There you shall stay, if hard chunks and
solid wood can keep you, until your yellow flesh rots away from your
bones. You shall stay there until the lightning rips open your coffin,
or the autumn winds tumble you into the swamp.' So saying, he left him,
and went back to the camp--left him to die in the old woods, where
no help could ever come; and in this wild and awful manner--buried
alive--perished the savage half-breed."
"That was an awful death, indeed," exclaimed Mrs. Harmar. "That
Humphries must have been a very disagreeable fellow."
"And why so?" enquired Higgins. "The men in those parts of the country
were forced to be as fierce as their foes. Humphries was one of the
cleverest fellows I ever knew."
"A man after your own heart," remarked Smith. "A warm friend and a warm
foe. I know you, Higgins."
"You should know me, Smith, or no man should," replied Higgins,
evidently profoundly satisfied with himself.
"Many a time have we messed together," added Smith; "ay, and many a time
have we hunted in company for the food we made a mess of."
"Those times are gone," said old Harmar mournfully. "Those times are
"I wonder where?" put in Mrs. Harmar's youngest, looking up in her face
for an answer. She smoothed his hair, and shook her head.
STORY OF THE DEATH OF COLONEL LOVELACE.
"Speaking of awful deaths," said Morton, "reminds me of a scene I
witnessed at Saratoga, which I may as well tell you about, as young
Mr. Harmar seems anxious to hear anything relating to the war of
independence. You know there was an unconscionable number of tories up
there in New York State about the time of Burgoyne's invasion. Some of
them were honest, good sort of men, who didn't happen to think just as
we did: they kept at home, and did not lift their arms against us during
the war, though some of them were pretty hardly used by their whig
neighbors. Another set of the tories, however, acted upon the maxim that
'might makes right.' They were whigs when the royal power was weak, and
tories when they found it strong. Though raised in the same neighborhood
with the staunch whigs, these men turned robbers and murderers, and lost
all virtuous and manly feelings. Colonel Tom Lovelace was one of this
class: He was born and raised in the Saratoga district, and yet his old
neighbors dreaded him almost as much as if he had been one of the fierce
Senecas. When the war commenced, Lovelace went to Canada, and there
confederated with five men from his own district, to come down to
Saratoga, and kill, rob, or betray his old neighbors and friends.
There's no denying Lovelace was a bold, wary, and cunning fellow, and
he made the worst use of his qualities. He fixed his quarters in a
large swamp, about five miles from the residence of Colonel Van Vechten,
at Dovegat, and very cunningly concealed them.
"Soon after, the robberies and captures around that neighborhood became
frequent. General Schuyler's house was robbed, and an attempt was made,
by Lovelace and his companions, to carry off Colonel Van Vechten. But
General Stark, who was in command of the barracks north of Fish Creek,
was too wide awake for him. He got wind of the scheme, and gave the
Colonel a strong guard, and so Lovelace was balked, and compelled to
give up his design. Captain Dunham, who commanded a company of militia
in the neighborhood, found out the tory colonel's place of concealment,
and he determined to attempt his capture. Accordingly, he summoned his
lieutenant, ensign, orderly, and one private, to his house; and, about
dusk, they started for the swamp, which was two miles distant. Having
separated to reconnoitre, two of them, named Green and Guiles, got lost;
but the other three kept together, and, about dawn, discovered Lovelace
and his party, in a hut covered over with boughs, just drawing on their
stockings. The three men crawled cautiously forward till near the hut,
when they sprang up with a shout, levelled their muskets, and Captain
Dunham sang out, 'Surrender, or you are all dead men!' There was no time
for parley; and the tory rascals, believing that our men were down on
them in force, came out one by one, without arms, and Dunham and his men
marched them off to General Stark's quarters. The rascals were all tried
by court-martial, as spies, traitors, and robbers; and Lovelace was
sentenced to be hung, as he was considered too dangerous to be allowed
to get loose again. He made complaint of injustice, and said he ought to
be treated as a prisoner of war; but our general could not consent to
look upon such a villain as an honorable soldier, and his sentence was
ordered to be carried into effect three days afterwards. I was then with
a company of New York volunteers, sent to reinforce General Stark, and
I was enabled to gratify my desire to witness the execution of a man I
detested. The gallows was put up on the high bluff a few miles south of
Fish Creek, near our barracks. When the day arrived, I found that our
company was on the guard to be posted near the gallows. It was a gloomy
morning, and about the time the tory colonel was marched out to the
gallows, and we were placed in position at the foot of the bluff, a
tremendous storm of wind and rain came on. It was an awful scene.
The sky seemed as black as midnight, except when the vivid sheets of
lightning glared and shot across it; and the peals of thunder were loud
and long. Lovelace knelt upon the scaffold, and the chaplain prayed with
him. I think if there was anything could change a man's heart, it must
have been the thought of dying at such a time, when God himself seemed
wrathful at the deeds of men.
"I expected to be delighted with seeing such a man hung; but I tell you,
my friends, I felt very differently when the time came, and I saw the
cruel tory kneeling on the scaffold, while the lightning seemed to be
quivering over the gallows. I turned away my head a moment, and when I
looked again, the body of Lovelace was suspended in the air, and his
spirit had gone to give its account to its God."
The account of this terrible scene had deeply interested the company;
and the animated manner of Morton impressed even the children with a
feeling of awe.
"Why didn't they postpone the hanging of the man until there was a clear
day?" enquired Mrs. Harmar.
"Executions are never postponed on account of the weather, my dear,"
replied her husband. "It would be rather cruel than otherwise thus to
"I've heard of that Lovelace before," remarked old Harmar. "I judged
that he was a bold villain from some of his outrages, and I think he
deserved his death."
"For my part," said Higgins, "I hated the very name of a tory so much,
during the war, that I believe I could have killed any man who dared to
speak in their defence. All that I knew or heard of were blood-thirsty
STORY OF THE MURDER OF MISS M'CREA.
"If you were at Saratoga, Mr. Morton, perhaps you know something about
the murder of Miss M'Crea," said Mrs. Harmar.
"Oh, yes! I know the real facts of the case," replied Morton. "I got
them from one who was acquainted with her family. The real story is
quite different from the one we find in the histories of the war, and
which General Gates received as true."
"Then set us right upon the matter," remarked young Harmar.
"Do," added Wilson. "I've heard the story through two or three
twistings, and I'm only satisfied that the lady was killed."
"Well," commenced Morton, "what I now tell you may depend on as the
truest account you can receive. No one but Heaven and the Indians
themselves witnessed the death of the young girl; and our only evidence
of a positive nature is the declaration of those who were supposed to be
her murderers. But to the story.
"Jane M'Crea, or Jenny M'Crea, as she is more generally known, was the
daughter of a Scotch clergyman, who resided in Jersey City, opposite
New York. While living with her father, an intimacy grew up between the
daughter of a Mrs. M'Niel and Jenny. Mrs. M'Niel's husband dying, she
went to live on an estate near Fort Edward. Soon after, Mr. M'Crea died,
and Jenny went to live with her brother near the same place. There the
intimacy of former years was renewed, and Jenny spent much of her time
at the house of Mrs. M'Niel and her daughter. Near the M'Niel's lived a
family named Jones, consisting of a widow and six sons. David Jones, one
of the sons, became acquainted with Jenny, and at length this friendship
deepened into love. When the war broke out, the Jones's took the royal
side of the question; and, in the fall of 1776, David and Jonathan Jones
went to Canada, raised a company, and joined the British garrison at
Crown Point. They both afterwards attached themselves to Burgoyne's
army; David being made a lieutenant in Frazer's division. The brother
of Jenny M'Crea was a whig, and, as the British army advanced, they
prepared to set out for Albany. Mrs. M'Niel was a loyalist, and, as she
remained, Jenny remained with her, perhaps with the hope of seeing David
"At length Jenny's brother sent her a peremptory order to join him, and
she promised to comply the next day after receiving it. On the morning
of that day, (I believe it was the 27th of July,) a black servant boy
belonging to Mrs. M'Niel discovered some Indians approaching the house,
and, giving the alarm, he ran to the fort, which was but a short
distance off. Mrs. M'Niel, Jenny, a black woman, and two children, were
in the house when the alarm was given. Mrs. M'Niel's eldest daughter was
at Argyle. The black woman seized the two children, fled through the
back door into the kitchen, and down into the cellar. Jenny and Mrs.
M'Niel followed; but the old woman was corpulent, and before they could
descend, a powerful Indian seized Mrs. M'Niel by the hair and dragged
her up. Another brought Jenny out of the cellar. But the black woman and
the children remained undiscovered. The Indians started off with the two
women on the road towards Burgoyne's camp. Having caught two horses that
were grazing, they attempted to place their prisoners upon them. Mrs.
M'Niel being too heavy to ride, two stout Indians took her by the arms,
and hurried her along, while the others, with Jenny on horseback,
proceeded by another path through the woods. The negro boy having
alarmed the garrison at the fort, a detachment was sent out to effect
a rescue. They fired several volleys at the party of Indians; and the
Indians said that a bullet intended for them mortally wounded Jenny, and
she fell from her horse; and that they then stripped her of her clothing
and scalped her, that they might obtain the reward offered for those
things by Burgoyne.
"Mrs. M'Niel said that the Indians who were hurrying her along seemed to
watch the flash of the guns, and fell down upon their faces, dragging
her down with them. When they got beyond the reach of the firing, the
Indians stript the old lady of everything except her chemise, and
in that plight carried her into the British camp. There she met her
kinsman, General Frazer, who endeavored to make her due reparation
for what she had endured. Soon after, the Indians who had been left
to bring Jenny arrived with some scalps, and Mrs. M'Niel immediately
recognised the long bright hair of the poor girl who had been murdered.
She charged the savages with the crime, but they denied it, and
explained the manner of her death. Mrs. M'Niel was compelled to believe
their story, as she knew it was more to the interest of the Indians to
bring in a prisoner than a scalp.
"It being known in camp that Lieutenant Jones was betrothed to Jenny,
some lively imagination invented the story that he had sent the Indians
to bring her to camp, and that they quarrelled, and one of them scalped
her. This story seemed to be confirmed by General Gates' letter to
Burgoyne, and soon spread all over the country, making the people
more exasperated against the British than ever. Young Jones was
horror-stricken by the death of his betrothed, and immediately offered
to resign his commission, but they would not allow him. He bought
Jenny's scalp, and then, with his brother, deserted, and fled to
"Did you ever hear what became of him?" enquired Mrs. Harmar.
"Yes; he was living in Canada the last time I heard of him," replied
Morton. "He never married; and, from being a lively, talkative fellow,
he became silent and melancholy."
"Poor fellow! It was enough to make a man silent and melancholy,"
remarked young Harmar. "I can imagine how I would have felt if deprived
of her I loved, in as tragical a manner." "Don't--don't mention it, my
dear!" exclaimed his wife, sensibly affected at the thought of her being
"It was a horrible transaction," remarked Wilson; "and it had a stirring
effect upon our people. I can recollect when I first heard the story
with all its embellishments; I felt as if I could have eaten up all the
red varmints I should chance to meet."
"General Gates's version of the affair answered a good purpose," said
Higgins. "It roused our people to great exertions to defeat the designs
of a government which employed those savages."
"King George's government thought it had a right to make use of every
body--rascals and honest men--to effect its design of enslaving us; but
we taught 'em a thing or two," added Morton, with a gratified smile.
STORY OF THE DEFENCE OF SHELL'S BLOCK-HOUSE.
"I suppose," said young Harmar, "that, while you were up in New York,
you heard of many bloody affairs with the Indians and tories."
"Many a one," replied Morton. "Many a one, sir. I could interest you for
days in recounting all I saw and heard. The poor whigs suffered a great
deal from the rascals--they did. Those in Tryon county, especially, were
always exposed to the attacks of the savages. I recollect an affair that
occurred at a settlement called Shell's Bush, about five miles from
"A wealthy German, named John Shell, had built a block-house of his
own. It was two stories high, and built so as to let those inside fire
straight down on the assailants. One afternoon in August, while the
people of the settlement were generally in the fields at work, a
Scotchman named M'Donald, with about sixty Indians and tories, made an
attack on Shell's Bush. Most of the people fled to Fort Dayton, but
Shell and his family took refuge in the block-house. The father and two
sons were at work in the field when the alarm was given. The sons were
captured, but the father succeeded in reaching the block-house, which
was then besieged. Old Shell had six sons with him, and his wife loaded
the muskets, which were discharged with sure aim. This little garrison
kept their foes at a distance. M'Donald tried to burn the block-house,
but did not succeed. Furious at the prospect of being disappointed
of his expected prey, he seized a crowbar, ran up to the door, and
attempted to force it; but old Shell fired and shot him in the leg, and
then instantly opened the door and made him a prisoner. M'Donald was
well supplied with cartridges, and these he was compelled to surrender
to the garrison. The battle was now hushed for a time; and Shell,
knowing that the enemy would not attempt to burn the house while their
captain was in it, went into the second story, and began to sing the
favorite hymn of Martin Luther, when surrounded with the perils he
encountered in his controversy with the Pope."
"That was cool," remarked Higgins.
"Bravely cool," added old Harmar.
"Oh, it was necessary to be cool and brave in those times," said Morton.
"But to go on with my story; the respite was very short. The tories and
Indians were exasperated at the successful resistance of the garrison,
and rushed up to the block-house. Five of them thrust the muzzles of
their pieces through the loop-holes; but Mrs. Shell seized an axe, and,
with well-directed blows, ruined every musket by bending the barrels. At
the same time, Shell and his sons kept up a brisk fire, and drove the
enemy off. About twilight, the old man went up stairs, and called out in
a loud voice to his wife, that Captain Small was approaching from Fort
Dayton, with succor. In a few minutes, he exclaimed, 'Captain Small,
march your company round on this side of the house. Captain Getman, you
had better wheel your men off to the left, and come up on that side.'
This, you see, was a stratagem. The enemy were deceived, took to their
heels, and fled through the woods, leaving eleven men killed and six
wounded. M'Donald was taken to Fort Dayton the next day, where his leg
was amputated; but the blood flowed so freely that he died in a few
hours. On his person was found a silver-mounted tomahawk, which had
thirty-two scalp notches on the handle, to show how he had imitated the
"But what became of the two sons who were captured by the tories and
Indians?" inquired young Harmar.
"They were carried to Canada," replied Morton. "They afterwards asserted
that nine of the wounded tories died on the way. But some of the Indians
were resolved to have revenge for their defeat, and they lurked in the
woods near Shell's house. One day they found the wished-for opportunity,
and fired upon Shell and his boys while they were at work in the field.
One of the boys was killed, and Shell so badly wounded that he died soon
after, at Fort Dayton."
"Revenge seems a part of an Indian's nature," remarked young Harmar.
"Yes," said Higgins, "they will pursue one who has injured them in any
way until he has paid for it."
"Our people suffered much from them during the Revolution," added
Higgins, "and they want no instruction in regard to their character."
STORY OF BATE'S BEVENGE.
"I recollect," said old Harmar, "after our line went south, under
General Wayne, just after the surrender of Cornwallis, I met some of the
men who had passed through Green's campaign. They were the bitterest
kind of whigs--men who had seen their houses burnt over their heads, and
who could have killed and eaten all the tories they should meet. They
told me many wild stories of the black doings of those traitorous
"Tell us one of them, won't you?" entreated Mrs. Harmar.
"Come, father, spin us one of those yarns, as the sailors say," added
her husband. The children also became clamorous for 'a story,' and the
old veteran was compelled to comply.
"Well, you shall hear. A man named Joe Bates told me how he had been
used by the enemy, and how he had been revenged. He joined the southern
army when Greene first took command of it, leaving his wife and two
children at his farm on the banks of the Santee River. His brother, John
Bates, promised to take care of the family and the farm. You see, John
used to help Marion's band whenever he could spare the time--he was so
anxious to do something for the good of his country, and he didn't know
how else he could do it than by going off on an occasional expedition
with Marion. Well, some how or other, Major Wernyss, the commander of
the royalists in the neighborhood, got wind of John's freaks, and also
of those of some other whig farmers, and he said he would put a stop
to them. So he sent a detachment of about twenty-five men to burn the
houses of the people who were suspected of being the friends of Marion.
John Bates heard of their coming, and collected about ten or a dozen
whigs to defend his house. He hadn't time to send the wife of Joe and
his children away to a safer place, or else he thought there was no
better place. However it was, they remained there. The house was barred
up, and everything fixed to give the red-coats a warm reception, should
they attempt to carry out their intention. The time they chose for it
was a moonlight night. The neighbors could see their houses burning
from the upper windows of the one where they were posted, and they kept
muttering curses and threats of vengeance all the time."
"Why didn't each man stay at home, and take care of his own house?"
enquired Mrs. Harmar.
"Of what use would that have been?" returned old Harmar. "By so doing,
they could not have saved any house, and would have lost the chance
of punishing the red-coats for their outrages. I forgot to tell you,
though, that some of the farmers had brought their wives and children
to Bates', and these were all put up-stairs out of the way. The little
garrison had made loop-holes on all sides of the house, and each man had
his rifle and knife ready to guard the post at which he was stationed.
John Bates was the captain, because he knew most about such fightin'
matters; he learned it of Marion. Well, at last the garrison caught
sight of the Britishers coming up steadily, the leader a little in
advance. They didn't seem to suspect that any body was in the house, for
they had found all the rest deserted. Still they thought it wise to be
careful. They surrounded the house at their leader's command, and were
getting their things ready to set fire to it, when the garrison, who had
kept still as death all the time, blazed away at them from all sides.
This staggered the whole party; four or five of their number were shot
dead, and as many more wounded. They rallied, however, and poured a
volley into the house. The garrison, under John's command, returned the
fire, and seemed to have decidedly the best of the matter. Joe's wife
couldn't content herself up-stairs with the women and children. She
wanted to be of some use in defending her own house. She would come down
and load the guns for John, while he kept a look-out on the movements of
the British party. Well, she had just loaded the gun, and was handing it
to John, when a bullet whizzed past him, struck her in the breast, and
she fell dead. John Bates looked through the loop-hole, and caught sight
of one of the red-coats running back from the house, and fired at him
but missed. He saw the man's face, though, and remembered it. John then
bore the corpse up-stairs. The women and children shrieked at the sight,
and thus discovered to the cowardly foe where they were placed. A volley
was sent through the upper part of the house, which killed one of Joe's
children and wounded the wife of a neighbor. But the enemy were losing
men too fast to continue the attack. I think Joe said they had lost half
their party in killed and wounded, while in the house only one man was
wounded. The red-coats that were left began to move off, dragging some
of their wounded with them. Then the farmers threw open the doors and
windows, and, giving a shout of triumph, sent a volley after them that
must have done some damage."
"Didn't they start a pursuit?" inquired Higgins.
"No: John thought his party was not strong enough, and that the glory of
defeating such a party of regulars was enough for once. But several of
the wounded red-coats were taken. Some of the farmers wanted to kill
them right off, but John wouldn't let them. He said there had been blood
enough shed already, and set them at work to bury the dead. Soon after,
John went to the army, and told Joe of the attack, and of the death
of his wife and child. Joe swore, by the most sacred oaths, to have
revenge; and made John describe the appearance of the man whom he had
seen running away from the house after firing the shot that had killed
Mrs. Bates. The man had peculiar features, and could not be mistaken.
"At the great Battle of Eutaw Springs, Joe was among the troops
who charged with trailed arms. He came upon a man who answered the
description given by John, and rushed upon him with such force that he
pinned him to the ground with his bayonet, and he then drew a knife
across his throat to make sure work of it. He told me that he stopped,
amid a tremendous storm of grape and musketry, to take a look at the
Britisher, and to be sure that he had no life in him."
"What bloody creatures war can make men," remarked young Harmar. "That
man was not sure he had killed the murderer of his wife."
"It made no difference to him," replied old Harmar. "He hated the
whole set, and he had no mercy on any of them. Joe Bates was a clever
fellow--as warm a friend and as quiet a companion as you would wish to
meet in time of peace; but he hated like he loved--with all his heart,
and would go through fire and death to get at a foe."
"I believe Joe Bates' conduct was a fair specimen of that of the whole
people of those parts, at that time," said Wilson. "I've been told that
the whigs and tories had no mercy on each other."
"Not a bit," added old Harmar. "It seems to me that the fighting up here
in the North was child's play in comparison with that in the South.
Every man on the American side that went into the battle of Eutaw
Springs, was so full of courage and the desire of revenge that he was
equal to two common men. Greene had difficulty in restraining their
ardor within the limits of prudence. I heard of Colonel Henry Lee and
his legion coming up with a body of tories who were assembled to
march to the British camp, and his men would slaughter them without
mercy, in spite of his efforts to restrain them."
"It was a bloody time," remarked Smith.
"God grant that we may never see its like again," added Morton.
"Up this way," said Wilson, "the tories were quite peaceable and
respectable; and some of them were badly treated without any reason for
it. They were honest men, and differed in opinion with those who judged
the Declaration of Independence and the assumption of arms, necessary
"Yes," replied Higgins; "its all very well for men to differ in
opinion--nobody finds fault with that; its taking up arms against their
own countrymen, and opposing their country's cause, that we grumble at.
We should all adopt Commodore Decatur's motto; 'Our country--right or
wrong.' If she be right, our support cannot be refused; if wrong, we
should endeavor to set her right, and not, by refusing our support, or
by taking up arms against her, see her fall."
"Bravo!" cried Mr. Jackson Harmar. "There's the true patriotic sentiment
for you. Allow me, Mr. Higgins, to shake hands with you over that
The veteran patriot extended his hand, and received the hearty shake of
the patriot of another generation.
STORY OF GENERAL WAYNE
"Grandfather," said Thomas Jefferson Harmar, "wont you tell us something
about Mad Anthony Wayne?"
"Who learnt you to call him Mad Anthony Wayne?" inquired Higgins.
"That's what grandfather calls him," replied the boy.
"Yes," said old Harmar; "we always called him Mad Anthony--he was such
a dare-devil. I don't believe, if that man, when alone, had been
surrounded by foes, they could really have made him afraid."
"He was a bold and skilful general," remarked Morton. "He was equal to
Arnold in those qualities, and superior to him in all others."
"I think I can see him now, at Morristown, in the midst of the
mutineers, with his cocked pistol in his hand, attempting to enforce
orders--an action that no other man would have thought of doing under
such circumstances." "He did his duty," said Wilson; "but the men cannot
be censured for their conduct. They had received no pay for many months,
were without sufficient clothing to protect them from the weather, and
sometimes without food. If they had not been fighting for freedom and
their country's rights, they never could have stood it out."
"One of the best things Wayne ever did," said Smith, "was that manoeuvre
of his in Virginia, where the British thought they had him surely in a
"What manoeuvre was that?" inquired Mr. Jackson Harmar.
"Why, you see, General Lafayette was endeavoring to avoid a general
action with Cornwallis, and yet to harass him. Early in July, 1781, the
British army marched from Williamsburg, and encamped on the banks of the
James River, so as to cover a ford leading to the island of Jamestown.
Soon after, the baggage and some of the troops passed the ford, but the
main army kept its ground. Lafayette then moved from his encampment,
crossed the Chichahominy, pushed his light troops near the British
position, and advanced with the continentals to make an attempt on the
British rear, after the main body had passed the river. The next day,
the Marquis was told that the main body of the British had crossed the
ford, and that a rear-guard only remained behind. This was what the
British general wanted him to believe, and he posted his troops ready to
receive our men. Well, General Wayne, with eight hundred men, chiefly of
the Pennsylvania line, (including Mr. Harmar, Mr. Higgins, Mr. Wilson,
and myself,) was ordered to advance against the enemy. Now, Wayne
thought he had to fight a rear-guard only, and so he moved forward
boldly and rapidly; but, in a short time, he found himself directly in
front of the whole British army, drawn up to receive him. Retreat was
impracticable, as the enemy then might have had a fair chance to kill or
capture the whole detachment. Wayne thought that the best plan was to
put on a bold face, and so he commenced the attack at once. A fierce
and bloody struggle followed, and I'm not sure but we were gaining the
advantage, when General Lafayette discovered the mistake and ordered a
retreat, and we were compelled to fall back, leaving two cannon in the
hands of the enemy. By General Wayne's presence of mind and courage, you
see, we got off with but the loss of one hundred men. The British lost
the same number."
"The Marquis was, of course, right in ordering a retreat," remarked
"I suppose so," replied Smith. "Our detachment might have made
considerable havoc among the British, and, perhaps, if promptly
supported, have maintained a long and doubtful battle. But General
Lafayette wanted to save his men until a more certain contest could be
brought about. He was a very young general--younger than Napoleon when
he took command of the army of Italy; but all his movements about that
time indicated that he was as skilful and vigilant as he was brave."
"Americans should ever be grateful to the memory of such a man as
Lafayette," said old Harmar. "He was a true lover of liberty, and a
staunch friend to this land when it most needed friends."
"And that reminds me," added young Harmar, "that I've a song here, which
I wrote for one of the papers, in relation to Lafayette. It is arranged
in the measure of the feeling melody of 'Auld Lang Syne.'"
"Sing it," said Mr. Smith; and the request was echoed by the rest.
Mr. Jackson Harmar, therefore, after sundry excuses in the usual
routine--that he had a cold, &c.--sang the following words in a very
emphatic manner, with an occasional break in the high notes, and
huskiness in the low ones.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
The friend that's true, remember'd not,
And days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
We never can forget;
When dangers press'd, and foes drew near,
Our friend was Lafayette.
When first our fathers bravely drew
'Gainst tyrants and their laws,
On wings of generous zeal he flew
To aid the holy cause.
For auld lang syne, my dear, &c.
He stemm'd the broad Atlantic wave;
He vow'd they should be free;
He led the bravest of the brave
To death or victory.
For auld lang syne, my dear, &c.
Let Brandywine his glory tell,
And Monmouth loud proclaim;
Let York in triumph proudly swell
The measure of his fame.
For auld lang syne, my dear, &c.
Shall sons of freedom e'er forget,
Till time shall cease to move,
The debt they owe to Lafayette
Of gratitude and love?
For auld lang syne, my dear, &c.
The song was listened to with considerable pleasure by the company, and
there was an occasional attempt, on the part of the veterans, to join in
the chorus, which, however, ended in a slight cough and shaking of the
head, as if the attempt was hopeless.
"There's good sentiment in that song," remarked Smith. "It stirs the
"Mr. Harmar, did you say the piece was your own composition?" inquired
"It is one of my humble efforts," modestly replied Mr. Jackson Harmar.
"I'm very glad there are some young men left who can write something
else besides the love trash that's so popular," said Mr. Higgins. Old
men generally have a strong aversion or lofty contempt for everything
relating to the love matters of youth.
"Everything has its time," was the sage remark of Mr. Jackson Harmar;
"or, in the more popular phrase of Mr. Shakespeare, 'Every dog will have
"I should like to see patriotic songs more popular," remarked Morton;
and it is highly probable the conversation would have continued on
this subject, but Mrs. Harmar and the children kept up a constant clamor
for more stories, and old Harmar consented to amuse them and the rest of
the company with a story which, he said, he had seen in several papers,
and told in several different ways, none of which were correct. The true
circumstances he would then relate in order that his son might make a
story of it for his forthcoming work,--"Legends of the Times that tried
STORY OF THE OUTLAW OF THE PINES.
"In the fall and winter of 1776," began Mr. Harmar, "the people of New
Jersey experienced their full share of the miseries of civil war. During
no period of the Revolutionary contest did the enemy's troops act more
cruelly or more unlike civilized men. As they marched through the
Jerseys, driving our poor 'rebel' army before them, they committed all
kinds of outrages on helpless women and old men; but this conduct was
destined to recoil upon the heads of the foe. The people were roused
to resist the invaders, and the militia was organised throughout the
State--silently but surely. Our victories at Trenton and Princeton were
received as the signals for action. As the enemy retired on Brunswick,
they were followed by the exasperated farmers, and harassed terribly.
But, at the time when my story commences, the red-coats were in
quiet possession of New Jersey, from Burlington to New York. General
Washington had come over on this side of the Delaware.
"It was late in December. The weather was bitter cold, and the enemy
seldom stirred from their quarters to visit the interior of the State.
This respite would have been refreshing to the harassed farmer, if the
withdrawal of the regular troops had not left free play for the more
desperate servants of King George, or others who pretended to be such.
One of these pretenders was named Fagan. He was the leader of about
twenty ruffians as free from any particle of human feeling as himself.
There was no romance about the black character of Fagan; he was a
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