History From America's Most Famous Valleys
A MILITARY JOURNAL
During the American Revolutionary War,
From 1775 to 1783.
Describing Interesting Events and Transactions of this period;
with numerous Historical Facts and Anecdotes
From the Original Manuscript
By James Thacher, M. D.
Second Edition, Revised and Corrected.
Boston, Published by Cottons & Barnard, 1827.
Concerning death of General Frazer on October 7, 1777.
General Burgoyne, in his defence, after his arrival in England, as commander of the northern expedition, has paid a just tribute of praise to American bravery. Adverting to the action of the 19th of September, he says, " few actions have been characterized by more obstinacy in attack or defence. The British bayonet was repeatedly tried ineffectually. Eleven hundred British soldiers foiled in these trials, bore incessant fire from a succession of fresh troops, in superior numbers, for above four hours ; and after a loss of above a third of their number, and in one of the regiments above two thirds, forced the enemy at last. Of a detachment of a captain and forty-eight artillery men, the captain and thirty-six men were killed or wounded. The tribute of praise due to such troops, will not be wanting in this generous nation." His observations respecting the action of the 7th of October, are expressed in the following energetic and feeling language. " The losses in the action, were uncommonly severe. Sir Francis Clark, my aid de camp, had originally recommended himself to my attention, by his talents and diligence. As service and intimacy opened his character more, he became endeared to me by every quality that can create esteem. I lost in him a useful assistant, an amiable companion, an attached friend ; the state was deprived by his death, of one of the fairest promises of an able general.
" The fate of Colonel Ackland, taken prisoner, and then supposed to be mortally wounded, was a second source of anxiety. General Frazer was expiring.
" In the course of the action, a shot had passed through my hat, and another had torn my waistcoat. I should be sorry to be thought at any time, insensible to the protecting hand of Providence ; but I evermore particularly considered a soldier's hair-breadth escapes as incentives to duty, a marked renewal of the trust of being, for the due purposes of a public station ; and under this reflection, to lose our fortitude, by giving way to our affections, to be diverted by any possible self-emotion, from meeting a present exigency with our best faculties, were at once dishonor and impiety."
General Frazer died of his wounds on the 8th inst. Before his death, he requested that his body might be carried without parade, by the officers of his own corps to the great redoubt and there buried, About sun set the corpse was carried up the hill, and necessarily passed in view of both armies. Generals Burgoyne, Phillips, and Reidesel placed themselves in the humble procession. As General Gates was not made acquainted with the intended solemnity, a constant cannonade was kept up, by our people directed to the hill, where the ceremony was performed. From the pen of General Burgoyne, we have the following eloquent delineation of the melancholy scene. "The incessant cannonade during the solemnity, the steady attitude, and unaltered voice, with which the clergyman officiated, though frequently covered with dust, which the shot threw up on all sides of him ; the mute, but expressive mixture of sensibility and indignation on every countenance ; these objects will remain to the last of life on the mind of every man,who was present. The growing duskiness, added to the scenery, and the whole marked a character of this juncture, that would make one of the finest subjects for the pencil of a master, that the field ever exhibited. To the canvas and to the page of a more important historian, gallant friend! I consign thy memory. There may thy talents, thy manly Virtues, their progress and their period, find due distinction, and long may they survive, long after the frail record of my pen shall be forgotten."
The following appropriate lines, are from the elegant pen of Mrs. Morton.
To gallant Gates, in war serenely brave,
The tide of fortune turns its refluent wave,
Forc'd by his arm, the bold invaders yield
The prize and glory of the well fought field;
Bleeding and lost the captured Ackland lies,
While leaden slumbers seals his Frazer's eyes,
Frazer ! whose deeds unfading glories claim,
Endear'd by virtue, and adorn'd by fame.
Notes on Lady Ackland
Further particulars respecting the affecting story of this distinguished lady have since appeared ; and from the writings of General Burgoyne and other sources, I extract the following. She accompanied Major Ackland to Canada in 1776, and was called to attend on him while sick in a miserable hut at Chamblee. In the expedition to Ticonderoga in 1777, she was positively enjoined not to expose herself to the risk and hazards which might occur on that occasion ; but Major Ackland, having received a wound in the battle of Hubberton, she crossed lake Champlain, to pay her attention to him. After this she followed his fortune, and shared his fatigue, while traversing the dreary, woody country to Fort Edward. Here the tent in which they lodged, took fire by night, from which they escaped with the utmost difficulty. During the action of the 19th of September, she was exposed to great fatigue, and inexpressible anxiety for the fate of her husband, being advanced in the front of the battle. On the 7th of October, during the heat of the conflict, Lady Ackland took refuge among the wounded and dying; her husband commanding the grenadiers, was in the most exposed part of the action, and she in awful suspense awaiting his fate. The baroness Reidesel, and the wives of two other field officers, were her companions in painful apprehension. One of these officers was soon brought in dangerously wounded, and the death of the other was announced. It was not long before intelligence was received that the British army was defeated, and that Major Ackland was desperately wounded and taken. The next day she proposed to visit her husband, in the American camp. General Burgoyne observes, "Though I was ready to believe, for I had experienced, that patience and fortitude in a supreme degree, were to be found, as well as every other virtue, under the most tender forms, I was astonished at this proposal. After so long an agitation of the spirits, exhausted not only for want of rest, but absolutely want of food, drenched in rain, for twelve hours together, that a woman should be capable of delivering herself to the enemy, probably in the night, and uncertain into what she might fall, appeared an effort above human nature. The assistance I was enabled to give, was small indeed; had not even a cup of wine to offer her, but I was told, she had found from some kind and fortunate hand a little rum and dirty water. All I could furnish to her, was an open boat and a few lines written on dirty and wet paper to General Gates, recommending her to his protection.-It is due to justice, the close of this adventure, to say, that she was received and accommodated by General Gates, with all the humanity and respect, that her rank, her merits, and her fortunes deserved.
" Let such as are affected by these circumstances of alarm hardship and danger, recollect that the subject of them was a woman of the most tender and delicate frame ; of the gentlest manners ; habituated to all the soft elegancies and refined enjoyments that attend high birth and fortune ; and far advanced in a state, in which the tender cares, always due to the sex, become indispensably necessary. Her mind alone was formed for such trials."
The adventures of Lady Ackland have been a theme for the display of the poetic talents of the accomplished lady of Perez Morton, Esquire. It is regretted that the limits this production, will not admit of more than the following lines, and those on the preceding page, from that excellent poem.
'Twas now the time, when twilight's misty ray,
Drops the brown curtain of retiring day,
The clouds of heaven, like midnight mountains, lower,
Waft the wild blast, and dash the drizzly shower,
Through the wet path her restless footsteps roam,
To where the leader spread his spacious dome,
Low at his feet she pours the desperate prayer-
Give my lost husband to my soothing care,
Give me in yonder solitary cave,
With duteous love, his burning wounds to lave,
On the warm pillow which his breast supplies,
Catch his faint breath, and close his languid eyes,
Or in his cause my proffer'd life resign,
Mine were his blessings, and his pains are mine.
Notes on Baroness Reidsel.
The following sketch, borrowed from the Memoirs of General Wilkinson, is too highly interesting to be omitted; every reader of taste will be gratified with the perusal, and for myself, I owe to General Wilkmson only an apology for the liberty 1 have taken.
Extract from the Baroness Reidesel's Narrative.
"As we had to march still further, I ordered a large calash to be built, capable of holding my three children, myself and two female servants; in this manner we moved with the army in the midst of the soldiery, who were very merry, singing songs, and panting for action. We had to travel through almost impassable woods and a most picturesque and beautiful country, which was abandoned by its inhabitants, who had repaired to the standard of General Gates ; they added much to his strength, as they were all good marksmen, and fitted by habit for the species of warfare the contending parties were then engaged in-and the love of their country inspired them with more than ordinary courage. The army had shortly to encamp ; I generally remained about an hour's march in the rear, where I received daily visits from my husband ; the army was frequently engaged in small affairs, but nothing of importance took place ; and as the season was getting cold, Major Williams, of the artillery, proposed to have a house built for me with a chimney, observing that it would not cost more than five or six guineas, and that the frequent change of quarters was very inconvenient to me ; it was accordingly built, and was called the Block house, from its square form and the resemblance it bore to those buildings.
" On the 19th of September, an affair happened, which though it turned out to our advantage, yet obliged us to halt at a place called Freeman's farm ; I was an eye witness to the whole affair, and as my husband was engaged in it, I was full of anxiety, and trembled at every shot I heard ; I saw a great number of the wounded, and what added to the distress of the scene, three of them were brought into the house in which I took shelter ; one was a Major Harnage of the sixty second British regiment, the husband of a lady of my acquaintance, another was a lieutenant, married to a lady with whom I had the honor to be on terms of intimacy, and the third was an officer of the name of Young.
" In a short time afterwards I heard groans proceeding from a room near mine, and knew they must have been occasioned by the sufferings of the last mentioned officer, who lay writhing with his wounds.
" His mournful situation interested me much, and more so, because the recollection of many polite attentions, received from a family of that name during my visit to England, was still forcibly impressed on my mind. I sent to him and begged him to accept my best services, and afterwards furnished him with food and refreshments; he expressed a great desire to see me, politely calling me his benefactress. I accordingly visited him, and found him lying on a little straw, as he had lost his equipage. He was a young man nephew of the Mr. Young, the head of the family I have mentioned, and the only son of his parents. This last circumstance was what he lamented most, as to his pain he thought lightly of it. He had lost much blood, and it was thought necessary to amputate the leg, but this he would not consent to, and of course a mortification took place. I sent him cushions and coverings, and my female friends sent him a mattress. I redoubled my attention to him, and visited him every day, for which I received a thousand wishes for my happiness. At last his limb was amputated, but it was too late, and he died the following day. As he lay in the next room to me, and the partition was very thin, I distinctly heard his last sigh, when his immortal part quitted its frail tenement, and I trust, winged its way to the mansions of eternal bliss.
" But severer trials awaited us, and on the 7th of October, our misfortunes began ; I was at breakfast with my husband and heard that something was intended. On the same day I expected Generals Burgoyne, Phillips and Frazer to dine with us. I saw a great movement among the troops; my husband told me it was merely a reconnoisance, which gave me no concern, as it often happened. I walked out of the house and met several Indians in their war dresses, with guns in their hands. When I asked them where they were going, they cried out, war ! war ! meaning that they were going to battle. This filled me with apprehension, and I had scarcely got home before I heard reports of cannon and musketry, which grew louder by degrees, till at last the noise became excessive. About four o'clock in the afternoon, instead of the guests whom I expected, General Frazer was brought on a litter mortally wounded. The table, which was already set, was instantly removed, and a bed placed in its stead for the wounded general. I sat trembling in a corner ; the noise grew louder, and the alarm increased; the thought that my husband might perhaps be brought in, wounded in the same manner, was terrible to me, and distressed me exceedingly. General Frazer said to the surgeon, " tell me if my wound is mortal, do not flatter me." The ball had passed through his body, and unhappily for the general, he had eaten a very hearty breakfast, by which the stomach was distended, and the ball, as the surgeon said, had passed through it. 1 heard him often exclaim with a sigh, "O, fatal ambition! Poor General Burgoyne! Oh, my poor wife ." He was asked if he had any request to make, to which he replied, that " If General Burgoyne would permit it, he should like to be buried at six o'clock in the evening, on the top of a mountain, in a redoubt which had been built there." I did not know which way to turn, all the other rooms were full of sick. Towards evening I saw my husband coming, then I forgot all my sorrows, and thanked God that he was spared to me. He ate in great haste with me and his aid de camp, behind the house. We had been told that we had the advantage over the enemy, but the sorrowful faces I beheld told a different tale, and before my husband went away he took me aside, and said every thing was going very badly, that I must keep myself in readiness to leave the place, but not to mention it to any one. I made the pretence that I would move the next morning into my new house, and had every thing packed up ready.
" Lady Ackland had a tent not far from our house, in this she slept, and the rest of the day she was in the camp. All of a sudden a man came in to tell her that her husband was mortally wounded and taken prisoner ; on hearing this she became very miserable, we comforted her by telling her that the wound was only slight, and at the same time advised her to go over to her husband, to do which, she would certainly obtain permission, and then she would attend him herself; she was a charming woman, and very fond of him. I spent much of the night in comforting her, and then went again to my children, whom I had put to bed. I could not go to sleep, as I had General Frazer and all the other wounded gentlemen in my room, and I was sadly afraid my children would wake, and by their crying, disturb the dying man in his last moments, who often addressed me and apologized " for the trouble, he gave me." About three o'clock in the morning I was told that he could not hold out much longer ; I had desired to he informed of the near approach of this sad crisis, and I then wrapped up my children in their clothes, and went with them into the room below. About eight o'clock in the morning he died. After he was laid out, and his corpse wrapped up in a sheet, we came again into and to add to the melancholy scene, almost every moment some officer of my acquaintance was brought in wounded. The cannonade commenced again ; a retreat was spoken of, but not the smallest motion was made towards it. About four o'clock in the afternoon, I saw the house which had just been built for me in flames, and the enemy was now not far off. We knew that General Burgoyne would not refuse the last request of General Frazer, though by his acceding to it, an unnecessary delay was occasioned, by which the inconvenience of the army was much increased. At six o'clock the corpse was brought out, and we saw all the generals attend it to the mountain; the chaplain, Mr. Brudenell, performed the funeral service, rendered unusually solemn and awful from its being accompanied by constant peals from the enemy's artillery. Many cannon balls flew close by me, but I had my eyes directed towards the mountain,* where my husband was standing, amidst the fire of the enemy, and of course, I could not think of my own danger.
" General Gates afterwards said, that if he had known it had been a funeral he would not have permitted it to be fired on.
" So soon as the funeral service was finished, and the grave of General Frazer was closed, an order was issued that the army should retreat. My calash was prepared, but I would not consent to go before the troops. Major Harnage, though suffering from his wounds, crept from his bed, and he did not wish to remain in the hospital, which was left with a flag of truce. When General Reidesel saw me in the midst of danger, he ordered my women and children to be brought into the calash, and intimated to me to depart without delay, I still prayed to remain, but my husband, knowing my weak side, said, " well then your children must go, that at least they may be safe from danger." I then agreed to enter the calash with them, and we set off at eight o'clock.
" The retreat was ordered to be conducted with the greatest silence, many fires were lighted, and several tents left standing ; we travelled continually during the night. At six o'clock in the morning we halted, which excited the surprize
* The height occupied by Burgoyne on the 18th, which ran parallel with the river till it approached General Gates' camp.
of all ; General Burgoyne had the cannon ranged and counted ; this delay seemed to displease every body, for if we could only have made another good march, we should have been in safety. My husband, quite exhausted with fatigue, came into my calash, and slept for three hours. During that time, Captain Willoe brought me a bag full of bank notes, and Captain Grismar his elegant watch, a ring, and a purse full of money, which they requested me to take care of, and which I promised to do, to the utmost of my power. We again marched, but had scarcely proceeded an hour, before we halted, as the enemy was in sight ; it proved to be only a reconnoitring party of two hundred men, who might easily have been made prisoners, if General Burgoyne had given proper orders on the occasion.
"The Indians had now lost their courage, and were departing for their homes; these people appeared to droop much under adversity, and especially when they had no prospect of plunder. One of my waiting women was in a state of despair, which approached to madness ; she cursed and tore her hair, and when I attempted to reason with her, and to pacify her, she asked me if I was not grieved at our situation, and on my saying, I was, she tore her cap off her head and let her hair drop over her face, saying to me " it is very easy for you to be composed and talk, you have your husband with you, I have none, and what remains to me but the prospect of perishing or losing all I have." I again bade her take comfort, and assured her I would make good whatever she might happen to lose, and I made the same promise to Ellen, my other waiting woman, who, though filled with apprehensions, made no complaints.
" About evening we arrived at Saratoga ; my dress was wet through and through with rain, and in this state I had to remain the whole night, having no place to change it; I however got close to a large fire, and at last lay down on some straw. At this moment General Phillips come up to me, and I asked him why he had not continued our retreat, as my husband had promised to cover it and bring the army through ? " Poor, dear woman," said he, " I wonder how, drenched as you are, you have the courage still to persevere and venture further in this kind of weather ; I wish," continued he, " you was our commanding general, General Burgoyne is tired, and means to halt here to-night and give us our supper.
" On the morning of the 7th, at ten o'clock, General Burgoyne ordered the retreat to be continued, and caused the handsome houses and mills of General Schuyler to be burnt; we marched, however, but a short distance, and then halted, The greatest misery at this time prevailed in the army, and more than thirty officers came to me, for whom tea and coffee was prepared, and with whom I shared all my provisions, with which my calash was in general well supplied, for I had a cook who was an excellent caterer, and who often in the night crossed small rivers and foraged on the inhabitants, bringing in with him, sheep, small pigs, and poultry, for which he very often forgot to pay, though he received good pay from me so long as I had any, and was ultimately handsomely rewarded. Our provisions now failed us for want of proper conduct in the commissary's department, and I began to despair. About two o'clock in the afternoon we again heard a firing of cannon and small arms ; instantly all was alarm, and every thing in motion. My husband told me to go to a house not far off; I immediately seated myself in my calash, with my children, and drove off; but scarcely had we reached it before I discovered five or six armed men on the other side of the Hudson ; instinctively I threw my children down in the calash, and then concealed myself with them ; at this moment the fellows fired, and wounded an already wounded English soldier, who was behind me ; poor fellow I pitied him exceedingly, but at this moment had no means or power to relieve him. A terrible cannonade was commenced by the enemy, which was directed against the house in which I sought to obtain shelter for myself and children, under the mistaken idea that all the generals were in it. Alas ! it contained none but wounded and women ; we were at last obliged to resort to the cellar for refuge, and in one corner of this I remained the whole day, my children sleeping on the earth with their heads in my lap ; and in the same situation I passed a sleepless night.-Eleven cannon balls passed through the house, and we could distinctly hear them roll away. One poor soldier who was lying on a table, for the purpose of having his leg amputated, was struck by a shot, which carried away his other ; his comrades had left him, and when we went to his assistance we found him in a corner of the room, into which he had crept, more dead than alive, scarcely breathing. My reflections on the danger to which my husband was exposed now agonized me exceedingly, and the thoughts of my children and the necessity of struggling for their preservation alone sustained me.
" The ladies of the army who were with me, were Mrs. Harnage, a Mrs. Kennels, the widow of a lieutenant who was killed, and the lady of the commissary. Major Harnage, his wife, and Mrs. Kennels, made a little room in a corner with curtains to it, and wished to do the same for me, but I preferred being near the door, in case of fire. Not far off my women slept, and opposite to us three English officers, who, though wounded, were determined not to be left behind ; one of them was Captain Green, an aid de camp to Major General Phillips, a very valuable officer and most agreeable man. They each made me a most sacred promise not to leave me behind, and in case of sudden retreat, that they would each of them take one of my children on his horse, and for myself, one of my husband's was in constant readiness.
" Our cook, whom I have before mentioned, procured us our meals, but we were in want of water, and I was often obliged to drink wine and to give it to my children. It was the only thing my husband took, which made our faithful hunter, Rockel, express one day his apprehensions, that, " the general was weary of his life, or fearful of being taken, as he drank so much wine." The constant danger which my husband was in, kept me in a state of wretchedness, and I asked myself, if it was possible, I should be the only happy one, and have my husband spared to me unhurt, exposed as he was to so many perils. He never entered his tent, but laid down whole nights by the watch fires; this alone was enough to have killed him, the cold was so intense.
" The want of water distressed us much ; at length we found a soldier's wife who had courage enough to fetch us some from the river, an office nobody else would undertake, as the Americans shot at every person who approached it, but out of respect for her sex they never molested her.
" I now occupied myself through the day in attending the wounded ; I made them tea and coffee, and often shared my dinner with them, for which they offered me a thousand expressions of gratitude. One day a Canadian officer came to our cellar, who had scarcely the power of holding himself upright, and we concluded he was dying for want of nourishment; I was happy in offering him my dinner, which strengthened him and procured me his friendship. I now undertook the care of Major Bloomfield, another aid de camp of General Phillips, he had received a musket ball through both cheeks, which in its course had knocked out several of his teeth, and cut his tongue, he could hold nothing in his mouth, the matter which ran from his wound almost choked him, and he was not able to take any nourishment except a little soup, or something liquid ; we had some Rhenish wine, and in the hope that the acidity of it would cleanse his wound, I gave him a bottle of it; he took a little now and then, and with such effect, that his cure soon followed ; thus I added another to my stock of friends, and derived a satisfaction which in the midst of suffering, served to tranquillize me and diminish their acuteness.
" One day, General Phillips accompanied my husband, at the risk of their lives, on a visit to us, who, after having witnessed our situation, said to him, " I would not for ten thousand guineas come again to this place, my heart is almost broken."
" In this horrid situation we remained six days ; a cessation of hostilities was now spoken of, and eventually took place; a convention was afterwards agreed on but one day a message was sent to my husband who had visited me, and was reposing in my bed, to attend a council of war, where it was proposed to break the convention, but to my great joy, the majority were for adhering to it ; on the 16th, however, my husband had to repair to his post, and I to my cellar ; this day fresh beef was served out to the officers, who till now had only had salt provisions, which was very bad for their wounds. The good woman who brought us water, made us an excellent soup of the meat, but I had lost my appetite, and took nothing but crusts of bread dipped in wine. The wounded officers, my unfortunate companions, cut off the best bit and presented it to me on a plate. I declined eating any thing, but they contended that it was necessary for me to take nourishment, and declared they would not touch a morsel till I afforded them the pleasure of seeing me partake ; I could no longer withstand their pressing invitations, accompanied as they were by assurances of the happiness they had in offering me the first good thing they had in their power, and I partook of a repast rendered palatable by the kindness and good will of my fellow sufferers, forgetting for the moment the misery of our apartment, and the absence of almost every comfort.
" On the 17th of October, the convention was completed. General Burgoyne, and the other generals waited on the American General Gates ; the troops laid down their arms, and gave themselves up prisoners of war ! And now the good woman who had supplied us with water at the hazard of her life, received the reward of her services ; each of us threw a handful of money into her apron and she got altogether about twenty guineas. At such a moment as this, how susceptible is the heart of feelings of gratitude !
" My husband sent a message to me to come over to him with my children. I seated myself once more in my dear calash, and then rode through the American camp. As I passed on, I observed, and this was a great consolation to me, that no one eyed me with looks of resentment, but that they all greeted us, and even showed compassion in their countenances at the sight of a woman with small children. I was, I confess, afraid to go over to the enemy, as it was quite a new situation to me. When I drew near the tents, a handsome man approached and met me, took my children from the calash, and hugged and kissed them, which affected me almost to tears. "You tremble," said he, addressing himself to me, " be not afraid." " No," I answered, " you seem so kind and tender to my children, it inspires me with courage." He now led me to the tent of General Gates, where I found Generals Burgoyne and Phillips, who were on a friendly footing with the former. Burgoyne said to me, " Never mind, your sorrows have now an end." I answered him, " that I should be reprehensible to have any cares, as he had none ; " and I was pleased to see him on such friendly footing with General Gates. All the generals remained to dine with General Gates.
" The same gentleman who received me so kindly, now came and said to me, " You will be very much embarrassed to eat with all these gentlemen ; come with your children to my tent, where I will prepare for you a frugal dinner, and give it with a free will." I said, " You are certainly a husband and a father, you have shown me so much kindness." I now found that he was General Schuyler. He treated me with excellent smoked tongue, beefsteaks, potatoes, and good bread and butter ! Never could I have wished to eat a better dinner ; I was content: I saw all around me were so likewise ; and what was better than all, my husband was out of danger. When we had dined, he told me his residence was at Albany, and that General Burgoyne intended to honor him as his guest, and invited myself and children to do so likewise. I asked my husband how I should act; he told me to accept the invitation. As it was two days' journey there, he advised me to go to a place which was about three hours' ride distant. General Schuyler had the politeness to send with me a French officer, a very agreeable man, who commanded the reconnoitring party, of which I have before spoken ; and when he had escorted me to the house where I was to remain, he turned back again. In the house, I found a French surgeon, who had under his care a Brunswick officer, who was mortally wounded, and died some days afterwards. The Frenchman boasted much of the care he took of his patient, and perhaps was skilful enough as a surgeon, but otherwise was a mere simpleton ; he was rejoiced when he found out I could speak his language, and began to address many empty and impertinent speeches to me. He said, among other things, he could not believe that I was a general's wife, as he was certain a woman of such rank would not follow her husband ; he wished me to remain with him, as he said it was better to be with the conquerers than the conquered. I was shocked at his impudence, but dared not show the contempt and disdain I felt for him, because it would deprive me of a place of safety. Towards evening he begged me to take a part of his chamber. I told him I was determined to remain in the room with the wounded officer ; whereon he attempted to pay me some stupid compliments. At this moment the door opened, and my husband with, his aid de camp entered. I then said, " Here, Sir, is my husband," and at the same time eyed him with scorn, whereon he retired abashed ; nevertheless he was so polite as to offer his chamber to us.
" Some days after this we arrived at Albany, where we so often wished ourselves ; but we did not enter it as we expected we should-victors ! We were received by the good General Schuyler, his wife, and daughters, not as enemies, but kind friends, and they treated us with the most marked attention and politeness, as they did General Burgoyne, who had caused General Schuyler's beautifully finished house to be burnt; in fact, they behaved like persons of exalted minds who determined to bury all recollections of their own injuries in the contemplation of our misfortunes. General Burgoyne was struck with General Schuyler's generosity, and said to him, " You show me great kindness, though I have done you much injury." " That was the fate of war," replied the brave man, " let us say no more about it."
The Story of theKegs.
Mr. Bushnell's squadron of kegs committed to the Delaware in 1777, produced an unprecedented alarm among the British fleet at Philadelphia, and the singular catastrophe was, by the Honorable Francis Hopkmson, made a subject of the following song, which has been, and ever will be celebrated for the brilliancy of its wit and humor.
THE BATTLE OF THE KEGS :-A Song.
Gallants, attend, and hear a friend
Thrill forth harmonious ditty :
Strange things I'll tell, which late befell
In Philadelphia city.
"Twas early day, as poets say,
Just when the sun was rising,
A soldier stood on log of wood,
And saw a sight surprizing.
As in a maze he stood to gaze,
The truth can't be denied. Sir,
He spied a score of Kegs or more,
Come floating down the tide. Sir.
A sailor, too, in jerkin blue,
The strange appearance viewing,
First damn'd his eyes, in great surprise,
Then said, "some mischief's brewing.
" These kegs now hold the rebels bold,
" Pack'd up like pickled herring ;
" And they're come down t' attack the town
" In this new way of ferrying."
The soldier flew ; the sailor too;
And scar'd almost to death. Sir,
Wore out their shoes to spread the news,
And ran till out of breath. Sir.
Now up and down, throughout the town,
Most frantic scenes were acted ;
And some ran here, and some ran there,
Like men almost distracted.
Some fire cried, which some denied,
But said the earth had quaked :
And girls and boys, with hideous noise,
Ran through the streets half naked.
Sir William* he, snug as a flee,
Lay all this time a snoring ;
Nor dreamt of harm, as he lay warm
In bed with Mrs. L--ng.+
* Sir William Howe.
+ The wife of Joshua Loring, a refugee from Boston, made commissary of prisoners, by General Howe. "The consummate cruelties practised on the American prisoners under his administration, almost exceed the ordinary powers of human invention. The conduct of the Turks in putting all prisoners to death, is certainly much more rational and humane, than that of the British army for the first three years of thr American war, or till after the capture of Burgoyne."
Now in a fright, he starts upright,
Awak'd by such a clatter,
He rubs both eyes, and boldly cries,
" For God's sake, what's the matter ?"
At his bed side he then espied
Sir Erskine* at command. Sir;
Upon one foot he had one boot,
And t'other in his hand. Sir.
"Arise! arise!" Sir Erskine cries;
"The rebels-more's the pity-
" Without a boat, are all on float,
" And rang'd before the city.
" The motley crew, in vessels new,
" With satan for their guide. Sir,
" Pack'd up in bags, or wooden kegs,
" Come driving down the tide. Sir :
" Therefore prepare for bloody war;
" These kegs must all be routed,
" Or surely we despis'd shall be,
"And British courage doubted."
The royal band now ready stand,
All rang'd in dread array. Sir,
With stomachs stout, to see it out,
And make a bloody day, Sir.
The cannons roar from shore to shore,
The small arms make a rattle:
Since wars began, I'm sure no man.
E'er saw so strange a battle.
The rebel vales, the rebel dales,
With rebel trees surrounded,
The distant woods, the hills and floods,
With rebel echoes sounded.
The fish below swam to and fro,
Attack'd from ev'ry quarter;
" Why sure," thought they, " the devil's to pay
" 'Mongst folks above the water."
The kegs, 'tis said, though strongly made
Of rebel staves and hoops. Sir,
Could not oppose their pow'rful foes,
The conq'ring British troops. Sir.
From morn to night these men of might
Display 'd amazing courage :
And when the sun was fairly down,
Retir'd to sup their porridge.
A hundred men, with each a pen,
Or more, upon my word, Sir,
It is most true, would be too few
Their valor to record. Sir.
* Sir William Erskine.
Such feats did they perform that day,
Upon these wicked kegs. Sir,
That years to come, if they get home,
They'll make their boasts and brags. Sir.
Notes from year 1781.
The following is an abstract of an interesting narrative taken from the travels of the late Dr. Dwight.
After the failure of the expedition against the British garrison at Penobscot, General Peleg Wadsworth was appointed in the spring of 1780, to the command of a party of state troops in Camden, in the District of Maine. At the expiration of the period for which the troops were engaged in February following, General Wadsworth dismissed his troops, retaining six soldiers only as his guard, and he was making preparations to depart from the place. A neighboring inhabitant communicated his situation to the British commander at Penobscot, and a party of twenty-five soldiers commanded by Lieutenant Stockton, was sent, to make him a prisoner. They embarked in a small schooner, and landing within four miles of the general's quarters, they were concealed at the house of one Snow, a Methodist preacher, professedly a friend to him, but really a traitor, till eleven o clock in the evening, where they made their arrangements for the attack on the general's quarters. The party rushed suddenly on the sentinel, who gave the alarm, and one of his comrades instantly opened the door of the kitchen, and the enemy were so near as to enter with the sentinel, The lady of the general, and her friend Miss Fenno, of Boston, were in the house at the time, and Mrs. Wadsworth escaped from the room of her husband into that of Miss Fenno. The assailants soon became masters of the whole house, except the room where the general was, and which was strongly barred, and they kept up a continual firing of musketry into the windows and doors except into those of the ladies' room. General Wadsworth was provided with a pair of pistols, a blunderbuss and fusee, which he employed with great dexterity, being determined to defend himself to the last moment. With his pistols, which he discharged several times, he defended the windows of his room and a door which opened into the kitchen. His blunderbuss he snapped several times, but unfortunately it missed fire, he then seized his fusee, which he discharged on some who were breaking through one of the windows, and obliged them to flee. He next defended himself with his bayonet, till he received a ball through his left arm, when he surrendered, which terminated the contest. The firing, however, did not cease from the kitchen till the general unbarred the door, when the soldiers rushed into the room, and one of them who had been badly wounded, pointing a musket at his breast, exclaimed with an oath, " you have taken my life and I will take yours." But Lieutenant Stockton turned the musket, and saved his life. The commanding officer now applauded the general for his admirable defence, and assisted in putting on his clothes, saying, " you see we are in a critical situation, you must excuse haste." Mrs. Wadsworth threw a blanket over him, and Miss Fenno applied a handkerchief closely round his wounded arm. In this condition, though much exhausted, he, with a wounded American soldier, was directed to march on foot, while two British wounded soldiers, were mounted on a horse taken from the general's barn. They departed in great haste. When they had proceeded about a mile, they met, at a small house, a number of people who had collected, and who inquired if they had taken General Wadsworth. They said no, and added, that they must leave a wounded man in their care, and if they paid proper attention to him they should be compensate but if not, they would burn down their house, but the man appeared to be dying.
General Wadsworth was now mounted on the horse behind the other wounded soldier, and was warned that his safety depended on his silence. Having crossed over a frozen mill pond about a mile in length, they were met by some of their party who had been left behind. At this place they found the British privateer which brought the party from the fort, the captain on being told that he must return there with the prisoner and the party, and seeing some of his men wounded, became outrageous, and damned the general for a rebel, demanded how he dared to fire on the king's troops, and ordered him to help launch the boat, or he would put his hanger through his body. The general replied that he was a prisoner, and badly wounded, and could not assist in launching the boat. Lieutenant Stockton, on learning of this abusive treatment, in a manner honorable to himself, told the captain that the prisoner was a gentleman, had made a brave defence, and was to be treated accordingly, and added, that his conduct should be represented to General Campbell. After this the captain treated the prisoner with great civility, and afforded him every comfort in his power. General Wadsworth had left the ladies in the house, not a window of which escaped destruction. The doors were broken down, and two of the rooms were set on fire, the floors covered with blood, and on one of them lay a brave old soldier, dangerously wounded, begging for death, that he might be released from misery. The anxiety and distress of Mrs. Wadsworth was inexpressible, and that of the general was greatly increased by the uncertainty in his mind respecting the fate of his little son, only five years old, who had been exposed to every danger by the firing into the house, but he had the happiness afterwards to hear of his safety. Having arrived at the British post, the capture of General Wadsworth was soon announced, and the shore thronged with spectators, to see the man, who, through the preceding year, had disappointed all the designs of the British in that quarter ; and loud shouts were heard from the rabble which covered the shore ; but when he arrived at the fort, and was conducted into the officers' guard room, he was treated with politeness. General Campbell, the commandant of the British garrison, sent his compliments to him, and a surgeon to dress his wounds, assuring him that his situation should be made comfortable. The next morning, General Campbell invited him to breakfast, and at table paid him many compliments on the defence he had made, observing, however, that he had exposed himself in a degree not perfectly justifiable. General Wadsworth replied, that from the manner of the attack, he had no reason to suspect any design of taking him alive, and that he intended therefore to sell his life as dearly as possible. " But, Sir," says General Campbell, " I understand that the captain of the privateer treated you very ill, I shall see that matter set right." He then informed the prisoner, that a room in the officers' barracks within the fort, was prepared for him, and that he should send his orderly sergeant daily to attend him to breakfast and dinner at his table. Having retired to his solitary apartment, and while his spirits were extremely depressed by a recollection of the past, and by his present situation, he received from General Campbell several books of amusement, and soon after a visit from him, kindly endeavoring to cheer the spirits of his prisoner by conversation. Not long after the officers of the party called, and among others the redoubtable captain of the privateer, who called to ask pardon for what had fallen from him when in a passion, adding, that it was not in his nature to treat a gentleman prisoner ill, that the unexpected disappointment of his cruise had thrown him off his guard, and he hoped that this would be deemed a sufficient apology. This General Wadsworth accepted. At the hour of dining, he was invited to the table of the commandant, where he met with all the principal officers of the garrison, and from whom he received particular attention and politeness. General Wadsworth soon made application to the commandant for a flag of truce, by which means he could transmit a letter to the governor of Massachusetts, and another to Mrs. Wadsworth, this was granted, on the condition that the letter to the governor should be inspected. The flag was entrusted to Lieutenant Stockton, and on his return, the general was relieved from all anxiety respecting his wife and family. General Campbell and the officers of the garrison continued their civilities for some time, and endeavored, by books and personal visits, to render his situation as pleasant as circumstances would admit of. At the end of five weeks, his wound being nearly healed, he requested of General Campbell the customary privilege of a parole, and received in reply; that his case had been reported to the commanding officer at New York, and that no alteration could be made till orders were received from that quarter. In about two months, Mrs. Wadsworth and Miss Fenno arrived, and General Campbell and some of the officers contributed to render their visit agreeable to all concerned. About the same time, orders were received from the commanding general at New York, which were concealed from General Wadsworth, but he finally learnt that he was not to be paroled nor exchanged, but was to be sent to England as a rebel of too much consequence to be at liberty. Not long afterwards, Major Benjamin Burton, a brave and worthy man, who had served under General Wadsworth the preceding summer, was taken and brought into the fort, and lodged in the same room with General Wadsworth. He had been informed, that both himself and the general were to be sent, immediately after the return of a privateer, now out on a cruise, either to New York or Halifax, and thence to England. The prisoners immediately resolved to make a desperate attempt to effect their escape. They were confined in a grated room in the officers' barracks within the fort. The walls of this fortress, exclusively of the depth of the ditch surrounding it, were twenty feet high, with fraising on the top, and chevaux de frise at the bottom. Two sentinels were always in the entry, and their door, the upper part of which was of glass, might be opened by these watchmen whenever they thought proper, and was actually opened at seasons of peculiar darkness and silence. At the exterior doors of the entries, sentinels were also stationed, as were others in the body of the fort, and at the quarters of General Campbell. At the guard house, a strong guard was daily mounted. Several sentinels were stationed on the walls of the fort, and a complete line occupied them by night. Without the ditch, glacis and abattis, another complete set of soldiers patrolled through the night, also. The gate of the fort was shut at sunset, and a picquet guard was placed on or near the isthmus leading from the fort to the main land.
The room in which they were confined was ceiled with boards. One of these they determined to cut off so as to make a hole large enough to pass through, and then to creep along till they should come to the next, or middle entry ; and then lower themselves down into this entry by a blanket. If they should not be discovered, the passage to the walls of the fort was easy. In the evening, after the sentinels had seen the prisoners retire to bed, General Wadsworth got up and standing in a chair attempted to cut with his knife the intended opening, but soon found it impracticable. The next day, by giving a soldier a dollar, they procured a gimblet. With this instrument they proceeded cautiously, and as silently as possible, to perforate the board, and in order to conceal every appearance from their servants and from the officers their visiters, they carefully covered the gimblet holes with chewed bread. At the end of three weeks their labors were so far completed that it only remained to cut with a knife the parts which were left to hold the piece in its place. When their preparations were finished, they learned that the privateer in which they were to embark, was daily expected. In the evening of the 18th of June, a very severe storm of rain, with great darkness and almost incessant lightning came on. This the prisoners considered as the propitious moment. Having extinguished their lights, they began to cut the corners of the board, and in less than an hour the intended opening was completed. The noise which the operation occasioned was drowned by the rain falling on the roof. Major Burton first ascended to the ceiling, and pressed himself through the opening. General Wadsworth next, having put the corner of his blanket through the bole, and made it fast by a strong wooden skewer, attempted to make his way through, standing on a chair below, but it was with extreme difficulty that he at length effected it, and reached the middle entry. From this he passed through the door which he found open, and made his way to the wall of the fort, and had to encounter the greatest difficulty before he could ascend to the top. He had now to creep along the top of the fort between the sentry boxes at the very moment when the relief was shifting sentinels, but the falling of heavy rain kept the sentinels within their boxes, and favored his escape. Having now fastened his blanket round a picket at the top, he let himself down through the chevaux de frise to the ground, and in a manner astonishing to himself, made his way into the open field. Here he was obliged to grope his way among rocks, stumps, and brush in the darkness of night, till he reached the cove. Happily the tide had ebbed and enabled him to cross the water about a mile in breadth and not more than three feet deep. About two o'clock in the morning, General Wadsworth found himself a mile and a half from the fort, and he proceeded through a thick wood and brush to the Penobscot river, and after passing some distance along the shore, being seven mites from the fort, to his unspeakable joy he saw his friend Burton advancing towards him. Major Burton had been obliged to encounter in his course equal difficulties with his companion, and such were the incredible perils, dangers and obstructions, which they surmounted, that their escape may be considered almost miraculous. It was now necessary they should cross the Penobscot river, and very fortunately they discovered a canoe with oars on the shore suited to their purpose. While on the river they discovered a barge with a party of British from the fort in pursuit of them, but by taking an oblique course, and plying their oars to the utmost, they happily eluded the eyes of their pursuers, and arrived safe on the western shore. After having wandered in the wilderness for several days and nights, exposed to extreme fatigue and cold, and with no other food than a little dry bread and meat, which they brought in their pockets from the fort, they reached the settlements on the river St. George, and no further difficulties attended their return to their respective families.
Notes on a secret transaction.
There is a particular transaction in the history of our Revolutionary war, which was known only to General Washington and a single confidential officer, the gallant Major Lee, commander of a corps of cavalry. As the story is particularly interesting, and as it has never been disclosed to the public, by any historian except by Major Lee in his valuable Memoirs, I cannot resist the temptation of enriching this work with the narration, in the words of the respectable author.
"Lately, John Champe, serjeant major of the legion of cavalry, who had been for several months considered by the corps a deserter, returned. This high-minded soldier had been selected to undertake a very difficult and perilous project, the narration of which is due to his merit, as well as to the singularity of his progress.
" The treason of General Arnold,--the capture of Andre, with intelligence received by Washington, through his confidential agents in New York, communicating that many of his officers, and especially a major general named to him, were connected with Arnold, could not fail to seize the attention of a commander even less diligent and zealous. It engaged his mind entirely, exciting sensations the most anxious, as well as unpleasant. The moment he reached the army, then under the orders of Major General Greene, encamped in the vicinity of Tappan, he sent for Major Lee, posted with the light troops some distance in front. This officer repaired to head quarters with celerity, and found the general in his marquee alone, busily engaged in writing. So soon as Lee entered, he was requested to take a seat, and a bundle of papers, lying on the table, was given to him for perusal. In these much information was detailed, tending to prove that Arnold was not alone in the base conspiracy just detected, but that the poison was spread ; and that a major general, whose name was not concealed, was certainly as guilty as Arnold himself. This officer had enjoyed without interruption, the confidence of the Commander in Chief throughout the war ; nor did there exist a single reason in support of the accusation. It altogether rested on the intelligence derived from the papers before him. Major Lee, personally acquainted with the accused, could not refrain from suggesting the probability, that the whole was a contrivance of Sir Henry Clinton, in order to destroy that confidence between the commander and his officers, on which the success of military operations depend. This suggestion, Washington replied, was plausible, and deserved due consideration. It had early occurred to his own mind, and had not been slightly regarded ; but his reflections settled in a conclusion not to be shaken, as the same suggestion applied to no officer more forcibly than a few days ago it would have -done to General Arnold, known now to be a traitor.
" Announcing this result of his meditations with the tone and countenance of a mind deeply agitated, and resolved on its course, Lee continued silent, when the general proceeded : I have sent for you, in the expectation that you have in your corps individuals capable and willing to undertake a indispensable, delicate, and hazardous project. Whoever comes forward on this occasion, will lay me under great obligations personally ; and in behalf of the United States, I will reward him amply. No time is to be lost; he must proceed, if possible, this night. My object is to probe to the bottom the afflicting intelligence contained in the papers you have just read, to seize Arnold, and by getting him, to save Andre. They are all connected. While my emissary is engaged in preparing means for the seizure of Arnold, the guilt of others can be traced ; and the timely delivery of Arnold to me, will possibly put it into my power to resist the amiable and unfortunate Andre to his friends. My instructions are ready, in which you will find my express orders, that Arnold is not to be hurt ; but that he be permitted to escape, if to be prevented only by killing him, as his public punishment is the only object in view. This you cannot too forcibly press on whoever may engage in the enterprise; and this fail not to do. With my instructions are two letters, to be delivered as ordered, and here are some guineas for expenses.
" Major Lee replying, said, that he had little or no doubt but that his legion contained many individuals daring enough for any operation, however perilous; but that the one in view, required a combination of qualities not easily to be found, unless in a commissioned officer, to whom he could not venture to propose an enterprise, the first step to which was desertion. That though the serjeant major of the cavalry was in all respects qualified for the delicate and adventurous project, and to him it might be proposed without indelicacy, as his station did not interpose the obstacle before stated; yet it was very probable that the same difficulty would occur in his breast, to remove which would not be easy, if practicable.
" Washington was highly pleased with finding that a non-commissioned officer was deemed capable of executing his views; as he had felt extreme difficulty in authorizing an invitation to officers, who generally are, and always ought to be, scrupulous and nice in adhering to the course of honor. He asked the name, the country, the age, the size, length of service, and character of the sergeant.
" Being told his name,-that he was a native of Loudon county in Virginia ; about twenty-four years of age,-that he had enlisted in 1776,-rather above the common size, full of bone and muscle, with a saturnine countenance, grave, thoughtful and taciturn,-of tried courage and inflexible perseverance, and as likely to reject an overture coupled with ignominy as any officer in the corps; a commission being the goal of his long and anxious exertions, and certain on the first vacancy.
" The general exclaimed, that he was the very man for the business ; that he must undertake it; and that going to the enemy by the instigation and at the request of his officer, was not desertion, though it appeared to be so ; and he enjoined that this explanation, as coming from him, should be pressed on Champe; and that the vast good in prospect should be contrasted, with the mere semblance of doing wrong, which he presumed, could not fail to conquer every scruple. Major Lee assured the general, that every exertion would be assayed on his part to execute his wishes ; and taking leave, returned to the camp of the light corps, which he reached about eight o'clock at night. Sending instantly for the sergeant major, he introduced the business in the way best calculated, as he thought, to produce his concurrence ; and dilated largely on the very great obligations he would confer on the Commander in Chief, whose unchanging and active beneficence to the troops had justly drawn to him their affection, which would be merely nominal, if, when an opportunity should offer to any individual of contributing to the promotion of his views, that opportunity was not zealously embraced. That the one now presented to him had never before occurred, and in all probability would never occur again, even should the war continue for ages ; it being most rare for these distinct consequences, all of primary weight, to be comprised within a single operation, and that operation necessarily to be entrusted to one man, who would want but one or two associates in the active part of its execution. That the chance of detection became extremely narrow, and consequently that of success enlarged. That by succeeding in the safe delivery of Arnold, he not only gratified his general in the most acceptable manner, but he would be hailed as the avenger of the reputation of the army, stained by fowl and wicked perfidy ; and what could not but be highly pleasing, he would be the instrument of saving the life of Major Andre, soon to be brought before a court of inquiry, the decision of which could not be doubted, from the universally known circumstances of the case, and had been anticipated in the general's instructions. That by investigating with diligence and accuracy the intelligence communicated to him, he would bring to light new guilt, or he would relieve innocence, as was most probable, from distrust; quieting the torturing suspicions which now harrowed the mind of Washington, and restoring again to his confidence a once honored general, possessing it at present only ostensibly, as well as hush doubts affecting many of his brother soldiers.
" In short, the accomplishment of so much good was in itself too attractive to be renounced by a generous mind; and when connected with the recollection of the high honor which the selection shed on him as a soldier, he ought not, he must not pause. The discourse was followed by a detail of the plan, with a wish that he would enter on its execution instantly. Champe listened with deep attention, and with a highly excited countenance ; the perturbations of his breast not being hid even by his dark visage. He briefly, and modestly replied, that no soldier exceeded him in respect and affection for the Commander in Chief, to serve whom he would willingly lay down his life ; and that he was sensible of the honor conferred by the choice of him for the execution of a project all over arduous ; nor could he be at a loss to know to whom was to be ascribed the preference bestowed, which he took pleasure in acknowledging, though increasing obligations before great and many.
" That he was charmed with the plan. Even its partial success would lead to great good ; as it would give peace to the general's mind, and do justice, as he hoped, to innocence, Full success, added powerful and delicious personal incitements, as well as the gratification of the general and army. He was not, he said, deterred by the danger and difficulty which was evidently to be encountered, but he was deterred by the ignominy of desertion, to be followed by the hypocrisy of enlisting with the enemy ; neither of which comported with his feelings, and either placed an insuperable bar in his way to promotion.
" He concluded by observing, if any mode could be contrived free from disgrace, he would cordially embark in the enterprize. As it was, he prayed to be excused ; and hoped that services, always the best in his power to perform, faithfully executed, did entitle his prayer to success. The objections at first apprehended, now to be combated, were extended to a consequence which had not suggested itself. Lee candidly admitted that he had expected the first objection made, and that only ; which had been imparted to the general, who gave to it full consideration, and concluded by declaring, that the crime of desertion was not incurred; as no act done by the soldier at the request of the Commander in Chief could be considered as desertion, and that an action so manifestly praiseworthy as that to be performed, when known, would dissipate by its own force the reflections excited by appearances, which no doubt would be acrimonious, leaving the actor in full enjoyment of the future rich rewards of his virtue. That the reflecting mind ought not to balance between the achievement of so much good, and the doing wrong in semblance only ; to which Major Lee subjoined, that when in consequence of the general's call on him for a soldier capable and willing to execute a project so tempting to the brave, he considered himself and corps highly honored ; and that he should consider himself reduced to a mortifying condition, if the resistance to the undertaking compelled him to inform the general that he must recur to some other corps to provide an agent to execute this necessary and bold enterprize.
"He entreated the sergeant to ask himself what must be the sensations of his comrades, if a soldier from some other corps should execute the enterprize, when they should be told that the glory transferred to the regiment of which he was one, might have been enjoyed by the legion, had not sergeant Champe shrunk from the overture made to him by his general, rather than reject scruples too narrow and confined to be permitted to interfere with grand and virtuous deeds. The esprit du corps could not be resisted, and united to his inclination, it subdued his prejudices, and he declared his willingness to conform to the wishes of the general; relying as he confidently did, that his reputation would be protected by those who had induced him to undertake the enterprize should he be unfortunate in the attempt.
" The instructions were read to him, and every distinct object presented plainly to his view, of which he took not so disguised as to be understood only by himself. He particularly cautioned to use the utmost circumspection in delivering his letters, and to take care to withhold from the two individuals, addressed under feigned names, knowledge of each other ; for though both had long been in the confidence of the general, yet it was not known by one that the other was so engaged.
" He was further urged to bear in constant recollection the solemn injunction so pointedly expressed in the instructions to Major Lee, of forbearing to kill Arnold in any condition of things.
" This part of the business being finished, the major's and sergeant's deliberations were turned to the manner of the latter's desertion ; for it was well known to both, that to pass the numerous patroles of horse and foot crossing from the stationary guards, was itself difficult, which was now rendered more so by parties thrown occasionally beyond the place called Liberty Pole, as well as by swarms of irregulars, induced sometimes to venture down to the very point, of Paulus' Hook, with the hope of picking up booty. Evidently discernible as were the difficulties in the way, no relief could be administered by Major Lee, lest it might induce a belief that he was privy to the desertion, which opinion getting to the enemy would involve the life of Champe, The sergeant was left to his own resources and to his own management, with the declared determination that in case his departure should be discovered before morning, Lee would take care to delay pursuit as long as was practicable.
" Giving to the sergeant three guineas, and presenting his best wishes, he recommended him to start without delay, and enjoined him to communicate his arrival in New York as soon thereafter as might be practicable. Champe pulling out his watch, compared it with the major's, reminding the latter of the importance of holding back pursuit, which he was convinced would take place in the course of the night, and which might be fatal, as he knew that he should be obliged to zigzag in order to avoid the patroles, which would consume time. It was now nearly eleven. The sergeant returned to camp and taking his cloak, valice and orderly book, he drew his horse from the picquet, and mounting him put himself on fortune. Lee charmed with his expeditious consummation of the first part of the enterprize, retired to rest. Useless attempt ! the past scene could not be obliterated ; and, indeed, had that been practicable, the interruption which ensued would have stopped repose.
" Within half an hour, Captain Carnes, officer of the day, waited on the major, and with considerable emotion told him that one of the patrol had fallen in with a dragoon, who, being challenged, put spur to his horse, and escaped, though instantly pursued. Lee complaining of the interruption, and pretending to be extremely fatigued by his ride to and from head quarters, answered as if he did not understand what had been said, which compelled the captain to repeat it. Who can the fellow that was pursued be ? inquired the major ; adding, a countryman, probably. No, replied the captain, the patrol sufficiently distinguished him to know that he was a dragoon ; probably one from the army, if not certainly one of our own. This idea was ridiculed from its improbability, as during the whole war but a single dragoon had deserted from the legion. This did not convince Carnes, so much stress was it now the fashion to lay on the desertion of Arnold, and the probable effect of his example. The captain withdrew to examine the squadron of horse, whom he had ordered to assemble in pursuance of established usage on similar occasions. Very quickly he returned, stating that the scoundrel was known, and was no less a person than the sergeant major, who was gone off with his horse, baggage, arms and orderly book,-so presumed, as neither the one nor the other could be found. Sensibly affected at the supposed baseness of a soldier extremely respected, the captain added that he had ordered a party to make ready for pursuit, and begged the major's written orders.
" Occasionally this discourse was interrupted, and every idea suggested which the excellent character of the sergeant warranted, to induce the suspicion that he had not deserted, but had taken the liberty to leave camp with a view of personal pleasure ; an example, said Lee, too often set by the officers themselves, destructive as it was of discipline, opposed as it was to orders, and disastrous as it might prove to the corps in the course of service.
" Some little delay was thus interposed ; but it being now announced that the pursuing party was ready, Major Lee directed a change in the officer, saying that he had a particular service in view, which he had determined to entrust to the lieutenant ready for duly, and which probably must be performed in the morning. He therefore directed him to summon Cornet Middleton for the present command. Lee was, induced thus to act, first to add to the delay, and next from his knowledge of the tenderness of Middleton's disposition, which he hoped would lead to the protection of Champe, should he be taken. Within ten minutes Middleton appeared to receive his orders, which were delivered to him made out in the customary form, and signed by the major. " Pursue so far as you can with safety sergeant Champe, who is suspected of deserting to the enemy, and has taken the road leading to Paulus' Hook. Bring him alive, that he may suffer in the presence of the army, but kill him if he resists, or escapes after being taken."
" Detaining the cornet a few minutes longer in advising him what course to pursue,-urging him to take care of the horse and accoutrements, if recovered,-and enjoining him to be on his guard, lest he might by his eager pursuit, improvidently fall into the hands of the enemy,-the Major dismissed Middleton, wishing him success. A shower of rain fell soon after Champe's departure, which enabled the pursuing dragoons to take the trail of his horse ; knowing, as officer and trooper did, the make of their shoes, whose impression was an unerring guide.*
"When Middleton departed, it was a few minutes past twelve, so that Champe had only the start of rather more than an hour,-by no means so long as was desired. Lee became very unhappy, not only because the estimable and gallant Champe might be injured, but lest the enterprize might be delayed ; and he spent a sleepless night. The pursuing party during the night, was, on their part, delayed by the necessary halts to examine occasionally the road, as the impression of the horse's shoes directed their course ; this was unfortunately too evident, no other horse having passed along the road since the shower. When the day broke, Middleton was no longer forced to halt, and he passed on with rapidity. Ascending an eminence before he reached the Three Pigeons, some miles on the north of the village of Bergen, as the pursuing party reached its summit, Champe was descried not more than half a mile in front. Resembling
*The horses being all shod by our own farriers, the shoes were made in the same form ; which, with a private mark annexed to the fore shoes, and known to the troopers, pointed out the trail of our dragoons to each other, which was often very useful.
an Indian in his vigilance, the sergeant at the same moment discovered the party, to whose object he was no stranger, and giving spur to his horse, he determined to outstrip his pursuers. Middleton at the same instant put his horses to the top of their speed; and being, as the legion all were, well acquainted with the country, he recollected a short route through the woods to the bridge below Bergen, which diverged from the great readjust after you gain the Three Pigeons. Reaching the point of separation, he halted, and divided his party, directed a sergeant with a few dragoons to take the near cut, and possess with all possible despatch the bridge, while he with the residue, followed Champe ; not doubting but that Champe must deliver himself up, as he would be enclosed between himself and his sergeant. Champe did not forget the short cut, and would have taken it himself, but he knew it was the usual route of our parties when returning in the day from the neighborhood of the enemy, properly preferring the woods to the road. He consequently avoided it ; and persuaded that Middleton would avail himself of it, wisely resolved to relinquish his intention of getting to Paulus' Hook, and to seek refuge from two British galleys, laying a few miles to the west of Bergen.
" This was a station always occupied by one or two galleys, and which it was known now lay there. Entering the village of Bergen, Champe turned to his right, and disguising his change of coure as much as he could by taking the beaten streets, turning as they turned, he passed through the village and took the road towards Elizabethtown Point. Middleton's sergeant gained the bridge, where he concealed himself, ready to pounce on Champe, when he came up ; and Middleton, pursuing his course through Bergen, soon got also to the bridge, when, to his extreme mortification, he found that the sergeant had slipt through his fingers. Returning up the road, he enquired of the villagers of Bergen, whether a dragoon had been seen that morning preceding his party. He was answered in the affirmative, but could learn nothing satisfactory as to the route he had taken. While engaged in enquiries himself, he spread his party through the village to strike the trail of Champe's horse, a resort always recurred to. Some of his dragoons hit it, "just as the sergeant, leaving the village, got in the road to the point. Pursuit was renewed with vigor, and again Champe was descried. He, apprehending the event, had prepared himself for it, by lashing his valice, containing his clothes and orderly book, on his shoulders, and holding his drawn sword in his hand having thrown away its scabbard. This he did to save what was indispensable to him, and to prevent any interruption to his swimming from the scabbard, should Middleton, as he presumed, when disappointed at the bridge, take the measures adopted by him. The pursuit was rapid and close, as the stop occasioned by the sergeant's preparations for swimming had brought Middleton within two or three hundred yards. As soon as Champe got abreast of the galleys, he dismounted, and running through the marsh to the river he plunged into it, calling on the galleys for help. This was readily given; they fired on our horse, and sent a boat to meet Champe, who was taken in and carried on board, and conveyed to New York with a letter from the captain of the galley, stating the past scene, all of which he had seen.
"The horse with his equipments, the sergeant's cloak and sword scabbard, were recovered ; the sword itself, being held by Champe till he plunged into the river, was lost, as Middleton found it necessary to retire without searching for it.
" About three o'clock in the evening, our party returned and the soldiers, seeing the horse, well known to them, in our possession, made the air resound with exclamations that the scoundrel was killed.
" Major Lee, called by this heart rending annunciation from his tent, saw the sergeant's horse led by one of Middleton's dragoons, and began to reproach himself with the blood of the highly prized, faithful, and intrepid Champe. Stifling his agony, he advanced to meet Middleton, and became somewhat relieved as soon as he got near enough to discern the countenance of his officer and party. There was evidence in their looks of disappointment, and he was quickly relieved by Middleton's information that the sergeant had effected his escape with the loss of his horse, and narrated the particulars just recited.
" Lee's joy was now as full, as the moment before; his torture had been excruciating. Never was a happier conclusion. The sergeant escaped unhurt, carrying with him to the enemy undeniable testimony of the sincerity of his desertion,-cancelling every apprehension before entertained, lest the enemy might suspect him of being what he really was.
" Major Lee imparted to the Commander in Chief the occurrence, who was sensibly affected by the hair breadth escape of Champe, and anticipated with pleasure the good effect sure to follow the enemy's knowledge of its manner.
" On the fourth day after Champe's departure, Lee received a letter from him, written the day before in a disguised hand, without any signature, and stating what had passed after he got on board the galley, where he was kindly received.
" He was carried to the commandant of New York as soon as he arrived, and presented the letter addressed to this officer from the captain of the galley. Being asked to what corps he belonged, and a few other common questions, he was sent under care of an orderly sergeant, to the adjutant general, who, finding that he was sergeant major of the legion of horse, heretofore remarkable for their fidelity, he began to interrogate him. He was told by Champe, that such was the spirit of defection which prevailed among the American troops, in consequence of Arnold's example, that he had no doubt, if the temper was properly cherished, Washington's ranks would not only be greatly thinned, but that some of his best corps would leave him. To this conclusion, the sergeant said, he was led by his own observations, and especially by his knowledge of the discontents which agitated the corps to which he had belonged. His size, place of birth, his form, countenance, color of his hair, the corps in which he had served, with other remarks in conformity to the British usage, was noted in a large folio book. After this was finished, he was sent to the Commander in Chief, in charge of one of the staff, with a letter from the adjutant general. Sir Henry Clinton treated him very kindly, and detained him more than an hour, asking him many questions, all leading,- first to know to what extent this spirit of defection might be pushed by proper incitements,-what were the most operating incitements,-whether any general officers were suspected by Washington as concerned in Arnold's conspiracy, or any other officers of note;-who they were, and whether the troops approved or censured Washington's suspicions,-whether his popularity in the army was sinking, or continued stationary. What was Major Andre's situation,-whether any change had taken place in the manner of his confinement,-what was the current opinion of his probable fate,-and whether it was thought Washington would treat him as a spy. To these various interrogations, some of which were perplexing, Champe answered warily ; exciting, nevertheless, hopes that the adoption of proper measures to encourage desertion, of which he could not pretend to form an opinion, would certainly bring off hundreds of the American soldiers, including some of the best troops, horse as well as foot. Respecting the fate of Andre, he said he was ignorant, though there appeared to be a general wish in the army that his life should not be taken ; and that he believed it would depend more on the disposition of Congress than on the will of Washington.
" After this long conversation ended, Sir Henry presented Champe with a couple of guineas, and recommended him wait on General Arnold, who was engaged in raising an American legion in the service of his majesty. He directed one his aids to write to Arnold by Champe, stating who he was, and what he had said about the disposition in the army to follow his example, which was very soon done ; it was given to the orderly attending on Champe, to be presented with the deserter to General Arnold. Arnold expressed much satisfaction on hearing from Champe the manner of his escape, and the effect of Arnold's example ; and concluded his numerous inquiries by assigning quarters to the sergeant,-the same as were occupied by his recruiting sergeants.
" He also proposed to Champe to join his legion, telling him he could give him the same station he had held in the rebel service, and promising further advancement when merited. Expressing his wish to retire from war, and his conviction of the certainty of his being hung if ever taken by the rebels, he begged to be excused from enlistment; assuring the general, that should he change his mind, he would certainly accept his offer, Retiring to the assigned quarters, Champe now turned his attention to the delivery of his letters, which he could not effect till the next night, and then only to one of the two incogniti to whom he was recommended. This man received the sergeant with extreme attention, and having read the letter, assured Champe that he might rely on his faithful cooperation in doing every thing in his power consistently with his safety, to guard which required the utmost prudence and circumspection. The sole object in which the aid of this individual was required, regarded the general and others of our army, implicated in the information sent to Washington by him. To this object Champe urged his attention, assuring him of the solicitude it had excited, and telling him that this speedy investigation had induced the general to send him into New York. Promising to enter on it with zeal, and engaging to send out Champe's letters to Major Lee, he fixed the time and place for their next meeting, when they separated.
" Lee made known to the general what had been transmitted to him by Champe, and received in answer directions to Champe to the expeditious conclusion of his mission, as the fate of Andre would be soon decided, when little or no delay could be admitted in executing whatever sentence the court might decree. The same messenger who brought Champe's letter, returned with the ordered communication. Five days had nearly elapsed after reaching New York, before Champe saw the confidant to whom only the attempt against Arnold was to be entrusted. This person entered with promptitude into the design, promising his cordial assistance. To procure a proper associate to Champe was the first object, and this he promised to do with all possible despatch. Furnishing a conveyance to Lee, we again heard from Champe, who stated what I have related, with the additional intelligence that he had that morning, the last of September, been appointed one of Arnold's recruiting sergeants, having enlisted the day before with Arnold ; and that he was induced to take this afflicting step, for the purpose of securing uninterrupted ingress and egress to the house which the general occupied, it being indispensable to a speedy conclusion of the difficult enterprise which the information he had just received had so forcibly urged. He added, that the difficulties in his way were numerous and stubborn, and that his prospect of success was by no means cheering. With respect to the additional treason, he asserted that he had every reason to believe that it was groundless ; that the report took its rise in the enemy's camp, and that he hoped soon to clear up this matter satisfactorily. The pleasure which the last part of this communication afforded was damped by the tidings it imparted respecting Arnold, as on his speedy delivery depended Andre's relief. The-interposition of Sir Henry Clinton, who was extremely anxious to save his much loved aid de camp, still continued ; and it was expected the examination of witnesses and the defence of the prisoner, would protract the decision of the court of inquiry, now assembled, and give sufficient time for the consummation of the project committed to Champe. A complete disappointment took place from a quarter unforeseen, and unexpected. The honorable and accomplished Andre, knowing his guilt, disdained defence, and prevented the examination of witnesses, by confessing the character in which he stood. On the next day, the 2d of October, the court again assembled, when every doubt that could possibly arise in the case having been removed by the previous confession, Andre was declared to be a spy, and condemned to suffer accordingly.
" The sentence was executed on the subsequent day in the usual form, the Commander in Chief deeming it improper to interpose any delay. In this decision he was warranted by the very unpromising intelligence received from Champe,-by the still existing implication of other officers in Arnold's conspiracy,-by a due regard to public opinion,-and by real tenderness to the condemned.
" Neither Congress nor the nation could have been with propriety informed of the cause of the delay, and without such information it must have excited in both, alarm and suspicion. Andre himself could not have been entrusted with the secret, and would consequently have attributed the unlocked for event to the expostulation and exertion of Sir Henry Clinton, which would not fail to produce in his breast expectations of ultimate relief; to excite which would have been cruel, as the realization of such expectation depended only on a posssible but improbable contingency. The fate of Andre, hastened by himself, deprived the enterprise committed to Champe of a feature which had been highly prized by its projector, and which had very much engaged the heart of the individual chosen to execute it.
" Washington ordered Major Lee to communicate what had passed to the sergeant, with directions to encourage him to prosecute with unrelaxed vigor the remaining objects of his instructions, but to intermit haste in the execution only so far as was compatible with final success.
" This was accordingly done, by the first opportunity, in the manner directed. Champe deplored the sad necessity which occurred, and candidly confessed that the hope of enabling Washington to save the life of Andre, who had been the subject of universal commiseration in the American camp, greatly contributed to remove the serious difficulties which opposed his acceding to the proposition when first propounded. Some documents accompanied this communication, tending to prove the innocence of the accused general ; they were completely satisfactory and did credit to the discrimination, zeal and diligence of the sergeant. Lee enclosed them immediately to the Commander in Chief, who was pleased to express the satisfaction he derived from the information, and to order the major to wait on him the next day ; when the whole subject was reexamined, and the distrust heretofore entertained of the accused was forever dismissed.* Nothing now remained to be done but the seizure and safe delivery of Arnold. To this object Champe gave his undivided attention ; and on the 19th October, Major Lee received from him a very particular account of the progress he had made, with the outlines of his plan. This was, without delay, submitted to Washington ; with a request for a few additional guineas. The general's letter+ written on the same day, 30th October, evinces his attention to the minutiae of business, as well as his immutable determination to possess Arnold alive, or not at all. This was his original injunction, which he never omitted to enforce on every proper occasion.
" Major Lee had an opportunity, in the course of the week, of writing to Champe, when he told him that the rewards which he had promised to his associates would be certainly paid on the delivery of Arnold ; and in the mean time, small sums of money would be furnished for casual expenses, it being deemed improper that he should appear with much, lest it might lead to suspicion and detection. That five guineas were now sent, and that more would follow when absolutely necessary.
* Copy of a letter from General Washington to Major Lee, in his own hand writing, dated, October 23d, 1780.
DEAR SIR,-I am very glad your letter of this
date has given strength to my conviction of the innocence of the gentleman
who was the subject of your inquiry I want to see you
on a particular piece of business. If the day is fair, and nothing of consequence
intervenes, I will be at the marquis' quarters at ten o'clock tomorrow. If
this should not happen, I shall be glad to see you at head quarters.
I am, dear Sir, your most obedient servant,
* Copy of a letter from General Washington to Major Lee in his own hand writing.
Head Quarters, October 20th, 1780.
DEAR SIR,-The plan proposed for taking A-d, the outlines of which are communicated in your letter, which was this moment put into my hands without date, has every mark of a good one. I therefore agree to the promised rewards; and have such entire confidence in your management of the business, as to give it my fullest approbation; and leave the whole to the guidance of your own judgment, with this express stipulation and pointed injunction, that he, Ad, is brought to me alive.
No circumstance whatever, shall obtain my consent to his being put to death. The idea which would accompany such an event, would be that ruffians had been hired to assassinate him. My aim is to make a public example of him; and this should be strongly impressed on those who are employed to bring him off. The sergeant must be very circumspect;-too much zeal may create suspicion, and too much precipitancy may defeat the project. The most inviolable secrecy must be observed on all hands. I send you five guineas; but I am not satisfied of the propriety of the sergeant's appearing with much specie. This circumstance may also lead to suspicion, as it is but too well known to the enemy, that we do not abound in this article.
The interviews between the party in and out of
the city, should be managed with much caution and seeming indifference ; or
else the Frequency of their meetings, &c. may betray the design, and involve
bad consequences ; but I am persuaded you will place every matter in a proper
point of view, to the conductors of this interesting business, and therefore
I shall only add, that
I am, dear Sir, &c. &c.
" Ten days elapsed before Champe brought his measures to conclusion, when Lee received from him his final communication, appointing the third subsequent night for a party of dragoons to meet him at Hoboken, when he hoped to deliver Arnold to the officer. Champe had, from his enlistment into the American legion, Arnold's corps, every opportunity he could wish, to attend to the habits of the general. He discovered that it was his custom to return home about twelve every night, and that previous to going to bed he always visited the garden. During this visit the conspirators were to seize him, and being prepared with a gag, intended to have applied the same instantly.
" Adjoining the house in which Arnold resided, and in which it was designed to seize and gag him, Champe had taken off several of the palings and replaced them, so that with care and without noise he could readily open his way to the adjoining alley. Into this alley he meant to have conveyed his prisoner, aided by his companion, one of two associates who had been introduced by the friend to whom Champe had been originally made known by letter from the Commander in Chief, and with whose aid and counsel he had so far conducted the enterprise. His other associate was with the boat prepared at one of the wharves on the Hudson river, to receive the party.
" Champe and his friend intended to have placed themselves each under Arnold's shoulder, and to have thus borne him through the most unfrequented alleys and streets to the boat ; representing Arnold, in case of being questioned as a drunken soldier, whom they were conveying to the guard house.
" When arrived at the boat, the difficulties would be all surmounted, there being no danger nor obstacle in passing to the Jersey shore. These particulars, so soon as known to Lee, were communicated to the Commander in Chief, who was highly gratified with the much desired intelligence. He directed Major Lee to meet Champe, and to take care that Arnold should not be hurt. The day arrived, and Lee with a party of dragoons left camp late in the evening, with three led accoutred horses ; one for Arnold, one for the sergeant, and the third for his associate, never doubting the success of the enterprise, from the tenor of the last received communication. The party reached Hoboken about midnight, where they were concealed in the adjoining wood,-Lee with three dragoons stationing himself near the river shore. Hour after hour passed,-no boat approached. At length the day , broke, and the major retired to his party, and with his led horses returned to camp, when he proceeded to head quarters to inform the general of the much lamented disappointment, as mortifying as inexplicable. Washington having perused Champe's plan and communication, had indulged the presumption that at length the object of his keen and constant pursuit was sure of execution, and did not dissemble the joy such conviction produced. He was chagrined at the issue, and apprehended that his faithful sergeant must have been detected in the last scene of his tedious and difficult enterprise.
" In a few days Lee received an anonymous letter from Champe's patron and friend, informing him that on the day preceding the night fixed for the execution of the plot, Arnold had removed his quarters to another part of the town, to superintend the embarkation of troops, preparing, as was rumored, for an expedition to be directed by himself; and that the American legion, consisting chiefly of American deserters, had been transferred from their barracks to one of the transports, it being apprehended that if left on shore till the expedition was ready, many of them might desert. Thus it happened that John Champe, instead of crossing the Hudson that night, was safely deposited on board one of the fleet of transports, whence he never departed till the troops under Arnold landed in Virginia ! nor was he able to escape from the British army till after the junction of Lord Cornwallis at Petersburg, when he deserted, and proceeding high up into Virginia, he passed into North Carolina, near the Sama towns, and keeping in the friendly districts of that state, safely joined the army soon after it had passed the Congaree in pursuit of Lord Rawdon.
" His appearance excited extreme surprise among his former comrades, which was not a little increased when they saw the cordial reception he met with from the late Major now Lieutenant Colonel Lee. His whole story soon became known to the corps, which reproduced the love and respect of officer and soldier, heretofore invariably entertained for the sergeant, heightened by universal admiration of his late daring and arduous attempt.
" Champe was introduced to General Greene, who very cheerfully complied with the promises made by the Commander in Chief, so far as in his power ; and having provided the sergeant with a good horse and money for his journey, sent him to General Washington, who munificently anticipated every desire of the sergeant, and presented him with his discharge from further service,* lest he might, in the vicissitudes of war, fall into the enemy's hands; when, if recognized, he was sure to die on a gibbet."
*When General Washington was called by President Adams to the command of the army, prepared to defend the country from French hostility, he send to Lieutenant Colonel Lee, to inquire for Champs; being determined to bring him into the field at the had of a company of infantry.
Lee sent to Loudon country, where Champe settled after his discharge from the army; when he learned that the gallant soldier had removed to Kentucky, where he soon after died.
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