History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume II, Page 645.
EVENTS OF 1783.
An Abortive Attempt of Col. Willett to Capture Fort Oswego. - Said Moses Nelson, an American prisoner there in the spring of 1782, when the enemy set about rebuilding Fort Oswego, three officers, Capt. Nellis, Lieut. James Hare, and Ensign Robert Nellis, a son of the Captain, all of the forester service, had charge of the Indians there, employed. Nelson and two other lads, also prisoners, accompanied this party, which was conveyed in a sloop, as waiters. About 100 persons were employed in rebuilding this fortress, which occupied most of the season. The winter following, Nelson remained at this fort and was in it when Col. Willett advanced with a body of troops February 9, 1783, with the intention of taking it by surprise. The enterprise is said to have proved abortive in consequence of Col. Willett's guide, who was an Oneida Indian, having lost his way in the night when within only a few miles of the fort. The men were illy provided for their return-certain victory having been anticipated-and their sufferings were, in consequence, very severe. This enterprise was undertaken agreeably to the orders of Gen. Washington ; but it certainly added no laurels to the chaplet of the brave Willett.
After the above was first published, I learned from John Roof, who was a private soldier in that enterprise under Willett, that so certain did the latter feel of success, that a scant quantity of provisions were taken along. While on the way out, several dogs with the army were killed to prevent betraying their position, which the famished troops were glad on their homeward march to dig out of the snow and eat. Col. Willett, possibly, may not have known, as well as Washington did, that Fort Oswego had been so strongly fitted up the preceding year, and consequently the difficulties he had to encounter before its capture-be that as it may, the probability is, that had the attack been made, the impossibility of scaling the walls would have frustrated the design, with the loss of many brave men. The fort was surrounded by a deep moat, in which were planted heavy pickets. From the lower part of the walls projected downward and outward another row of pickets. A draw-bridge enabled the inmates to pass out and in, which was drawn up and secured, to the wall every night, and the corners were built out so that mounted cannon commanded the trenches. Two of Willett's men, badly frozen, entered the fort in the morning, surrendering themselves prisoners, from whom the garrison learned the object of the enterprise. The ladders prepared by Willett to scale the walls were left on his return, and a party of British soldiers went and brought them in. The longest of them," said Nelson, " when placed against the walls inside the pickets,- reached only about two-thirds of the way to the top." The post was strongly garrisoned, and it was the opinion of Mr. N. that the accident or treachery which misled the troops was most providential, tending to save Col. Willett from defeat, and most of his men from certain death.
Gen. Washington reported the failure of this enterprise to the President of Congress, February 25, 1783, as follows :
" SIR-I am sorry to acquaint your Excellency-for the information of Congress-that a project which I had formed, for attacking the enemy's fort at Oswego-as soon as the sleighing should be good, and the ice of the Oneida lake should have acquired sufficient thickness to admit the passage of a detachment-has miscarried. The report of Col. Willett, to whom I had entrusted the command of the party, consisting of a part of the Rhode Island regiment and the State troops of New York-in all about 500 men-will assign reasons for the disappointment."
He added that, although the expedition had failed, " I am certain nothing depended upon Col. Willett to give efficiency to it, was wanting."-Sparks' Life of Washington, vol. 8, p. 385.
How the Forerunner of Peace, a Notice of the Cessation of Hostilities Between Great Britain and the United States, was sent from Fort Plain to Fort Oswego.-In July, 1880, Rev. Dr. Denis Wortman placed in my hands a journal of Capt. Alexander Thompson,* an officer in the American artillery service, which journal now belongs to the family of Thomas T. Buckley, Esq., of Brooklyn, N. Y.-Mrs. B. being a sister of Rev. Dr. Alex. R. Thompson, the third of the name-the second, Col. A. R. Thompson, having been killed in the Florida war. The journal, which consists of 50-five and a half by seven and a half-well written pages, has the following heading :
"JOURNAL of a tour from the AMERICAN GARRISON at Fort Rensselaer, in Canajoharie, on the Mohawk River, to the BRITISH GARRISON of OSWEGO, as a Flagg, to announce a cessation of hostilities on the frontiers of New York, commenced. Friday, April 18, 1783."
On the first of January of this year, Capt. Thompson, as his journal shows, was appointed to the artillery command of several posts of the Mohawk valley, which he names as follows : Fort Rensselaer, Fort Plank, Fort Herkimer
* A native of East Windsor, Ct. He with William Burns, of Coventry, and Charles Brown, all of Connecticut, are said to have been the first three of the forlorn hope to enter the enemy's works at Stoney Point, under the impetuous Gen. Wayne.
and Fort Dayton. Fort Rensselaer*-another name for Fort Plain-being, as he says, the headquarters of the river forts, he thought proper to have his own quarters near those of the commanding officer, so as to furnish from his own company detachments, as circumstances required. On the 17th of April-only a little over two months after Col. Willett's attempt to surprise Fort Oswego-an express arrived at Fort Plain from Washington's headquarters, to have an officer sent from thence with a flag to Oswego, to announce to that garrison-from whence many of the Indian depredators came-a general cessation of hostilities, and an impending peace.
Maj. Andrew Finck, then in command at Fort Plain, committed this important and hazardous mission to Capt. Thompson. His companions in the enterprise were to be four, a bombardier of his own company, a sergeant of Willett's levies, and a Stockbridge Indian, and his guide and interpreter was to join him at Fort Herkimer. We regret that he did not give the names of his attendants. All things were to be ready for an early start on the morning of the 18th, but when the nature of his mission became known along the valley-and such news as he was bearer of sped on fleet horses-many having lost friends whose fate was unknown, desired a chance to send letters by the flagbearer, and his start was thus delayed until 11 o'clock, at which hour numerous small packets and letters were collected to be sent to friends in Canada. To some inquiries, he said on his return, his mission proved one of joy, but to others one of sadness ; as the veil of mysteries had not been lifted. A flag of truce having been made by securing a white cloth to the head of a spontoon, to be borne by the sergeant, he left the fort with the flag-man in front of him, and the artiliary-man and Indian in his rear. He started with a pack-horse, which he discreetly left at Fort Herkimer. The novelty of his mission drew a great crowd together, and he was accompanied several miles by a cavalcade of officers, soldiers and citizens. He went up the
* It is much to be deprecated that Gen. Van Renaselaer, in pursuit of Sir John Johnson in the fall of 1780, after this fort had been known on the frontier by no other name than that of Fort plain for four years, should have taken the liberty to change its name to his own. This is worse than calling Fort Stanwix Fort Schuyler, because that was, though very unwisely, so done at the beginning of the war. Col. Willett, although in command of Fort Plain when its name was purloined, we thought could not have advised so unwise a measure, but he connived at it. Would any one expect a Patroon, to have presumed on such an act ?
river road on the south side of the Mohawk, and spoke of passing Fort Windecker (now Mindenville), and the Canajoharie, or Upper Mohawk castle (now Danube where the Mohawk's church still stands), arriving at Mr. Schuyler's house at the foot of Fall Hill, about 3 o'clock p. M., where he and his party were presented with an excellent dinner. This halt was but a little distance from the Gen. Herkimer house, which is still standing. I suppose this Schuyler to have been keeping a public house where Warner Dygert was residing, when killed by the Indians several years before. Leaving Schuyler's at 4 P. M., he passed over Fall Hill and arrived at Fort Herkimer after sunset.
At this garrison Capt. Thompson found David Schuyler, a brother of the man he had dined with, who became his guide and interpreter. Eight days rations were put into knapsacks, and one short musket was concealed in a blanket, with which to kill game, if by any means their provisions failed. On Saturday morning, April 19, in a snow storm, this party of five set out on their wilderness journey, still on the south side of the Mohawk. They met several hunting parties, and made their first halt opposite "Thompson's place above New Germantown," now in the town of Schuyler. A few miles above he fell in with a party of 10 families of Indians on a hunting excursion, and learned how forest children lived, and after passing through a swampy defile, he encamped on solid ground for the night Here his men instructed by the Indian soon erected an Indian wigwam for the night, in the following manner : Two stakes, with crotches at the upper end, were set upright about 10 feet apart, upon which they placed a pole. They then covered the sides with bark resting the top against the pole with the bottom on the ground, so as to leave a space about 12 feet wide. The gables were also covered with bark ; a fire was made in the middle of the structure, and a small hole left in the top for smoke to pass out, and when some hemlock boughs had been cut for their beds, the tabernacle was completed. Such a structure the Indians would construct in an incredible space of time, where bark was handily obtained. In such rude huts, many a hunter or weary traveler has found a good night's rest. The next morning the journey was resumed on the Fort Stanwix road, and at 10 o'clock he passed the ruins of old Fort Schuyler, of the French war, now Utica. On Capt. Thompson's arrival at the " Seekaquate" creek-Sadaquada or Saquoit creek which enters the Mohawk at Whitestown-he found the bridge gone. Soon after passing this stream he said he ascended "Ariska (Oriskany) Hill," which he observed "was usually allowed to be the highest piece of ground from Schenectada to Fort Stanwix." Says the journal: " I went over the ground where Gen. Herkimer fought Sir John Johnson, this is allowed to be one of the most desperate engagements that has ever been fought by the militia. I saw a vast number of human skulls and bones scattered through the woods ;" this was nearly five and a half years after the battle. He halted to view the ruins of Fort Stanwix, and those of St. Ledger's works while besieging the fort, and passing the sight of Fort Bull on Wood creek, at the end of a mile and a half he encamped for the night, erecting the usual Indian wigwam. The night was one of terror, as the howling of wolves and other animals prevented much sleep, but keeping up their fires the beasts were kept at bay. Monday morning, on arriving at Canada creek, a tributary to Wood creek, two trees were felled to bridge the stream. A mile and a half below he left the creek and ascended Pine ridge, where he discovered in his path a human foot-print made by a shoe, which indicated a white wearer. On arriving at Fish creek he halted to fish, but with poor success.
He had purposed to cross the creek and pursue his way to Oswego on the north side of Oneida lake, striking Oswego river near the falls, but learning from his Indian, who had recently been on a scout to the Three Rivers, that he had seen three flat bottomed boats with oars, as the ice had but recently left the lakes and thinking they might still be there, he changed his course for Wood creek, and striking it at a well known place called the " Scow," he had a raft made and sent the Indian and sergeant to search for the boats in Oneida creek, and to return the same evening. The three remaining at the Scow were soon searching for material for a cabin, but neither bark or hemlock could be found, and as it was fast growing dark, they collected what logs and wood they could to keep up a good fire, which was started. At 8 o'clock it began to rain terribly, and in two or three hours, their fire was put out. As the boat seekers did not come back that night, it became one of great anxiety and discontent. The men returned after day-light, and reported a serviceable boat without oars, which they had launched and towed round the edge of the lake and left at the Royal Block House, known as Fort Royal, at the mouth of Wood creek. No time was lost in reaching the boat, which was found to leak badly. They caulked it as best they could with an old rope. From a board oars were soon made, a pole raised and blankets substituted for a sale with bark halliards ; and, having everything on board, they moved into Oneida lake-20 miles long with a favorable but light wind. It was deemed prudent with their craft to run across the lake to Nine Mile Point, on the north shore, but before reaching it, two men were kept constantly bailing. The boat was again repaired and put afloat, sailing from point to point. As night approached, the crew landed about half way down the lake, where they improvised a cabin, with a good fire to dry their clothes. The night was pleasant, but the howling of wild beasts was again terrific.
On Wednesday, the 23d, a beautiful day, the party were early on the move, and from the middle of the lake Capt. Thompson said he could see both ends of it, and enjoyed one of the most delightful views imaginable. There were several islands on the western side of the lake covered with lofty timber, while back of the Oneida castles, he said, the elevated grounds made a very beautiful prospect. After about eight miles sail, he heard a gun, evidently fired by an enemy ; but, to avoid observation, he sailed along the shore until he was opposite the Six Mile Islands-as the two largest islands in the "lake, lying side by side, are called-when he went ashore, where a fire was kindled and a good dinner enjoyed ; after which he again dropped down the lake, passed Fort Brewerton, at the east end of the lake, and entered the Oneida river. Here he found a rapid current in his favor, and the river the most serpentine of any stream he had ever been on, abounding, at that season, with immense quantities of wild fowl, especially of ducks in many varieties. He saw many flocks of geese, but he would not allow the old musket to be fired, lest a lurking scout might be attracted to his position. He continued his course down the river, sometimes on the Onondaga side, and at others on the Oswego side.
A Change in the Programme.-About two miles from Three Rivers-nearly 20 miles from Oneida lake-he discovered a party of Indians in three canoes, coming up the river on the same shore. On seeing his boat they gave a yell, and paddled to the opposite shore. His white flag was planted on the bow of the boat, but they did not at first distinguish it, and, supposing the boat contained a hostile party, they landed, drew their canoes out of the water, ascended the bank and took to trees. When the flag was opposite, they hailed in Indian and in English, which last was answered. When assured that the Captain had a flag of truce, the Canadians asked him to come ashore. Four Indians then came out from behind trees, and beckoned to him to land : he did so, and was conducted into the woods. His men also landed, and the Indians drew his boat well on shore. He was conducted to the presence of two white men and an old Indian, who were seated on the ground. One of them told Capt. Thompson his name was Hare, a Lieutenant of Butler's rangers, and had just started on an enterprise to the neighborhood of Fort Plain. He assured the Lieutenant that all hostilities had ceased on the war path, and that his mission was to convey such intelligence to the commanding officer of Fort Oswego. Lieut. Hare seemed much surprised, and said no such news had been received there. When assured the American scouts had all been called in, after several consultations the war party-consisting of one other white man and eight Indians, all being painted alike-concluded to take him to the fort, saying if the measure proved a. finesse, they had him sure. He was conducted back to his boat to the great relief of his friends, who were exercised by thoughts of treachery ; and with a canoe on each side of the boat, and one behind it, the flotilla passed down the river, the Lieutenant taking a seat with Captain T. in his boat. The party glided down past the Three Rivers-Three Rivers point is formed by the junction of the Oneida and Seneca rivers, forming the third on Oswego river-about six miles below which they landed and encamped for the night, constructing two cabins, one of which Lieut. Hare, Capt. Thompson and two Indians occupied, the remainder of both parties using the other. The Oswego river is 24 miles long.
Early on Thursday morning, Lieut. Hare sent one of his canoes to Oswego, to inform the commander of the approaching flag ; and soon after sunrise they all embarked down the rapids, which increased as they approached the Falls. On arriving there they drew the boat around the carrying place, and safely passing the rifts below, they stopped within a mile of Lake Ontario, where they were bailed by a sentinel on shore, to await orders from the commandant of the fort. At the end of an hour, Lieut. McLane, of the eighth regiment received him, to whom he presented his instructions, which pointedly required his delivery of them to the commanding officer of the garrison. McLane wanted to send the dispatches by another officer ; to this the Captain would not consent, and he had to wait further instructions. In a short time Mr. Frazier, Lieutenant and Adjutant of the garrison, arrived with Maj. Ross's compliments to conduct him to the fort, which he did blind folded ; and taking Frazier's arm he thus entered the fortress. He heard the draw-bridge over the trench let down-the chains of which made a remarkable clattering. He was conducted up a flight of steps and into a room where the handkerchief was removed from his eyes, and he was presented by the Adjutant to Maj. Ross, the commanding officer, who received him very courteously, and to whom he delivered his instructions and dispatches ; and who told him to be seated and partake of provided refreshments, such as cold ham, fowl, wine, etc., while he perused the papers. That the traveler did justice to the collation we cannot doubt.
Maj. Ross told his guest he had brought very different intelligence from that which he had received recently from Gov. Haldimand, and added that 14 days before he had received orders from Quebec, to prepare his post with every exertion for its defense against an expected invasion of the Americans at the beginning of May, and that lie would be obliged to continue the working parties, and forward the dispatches to Gen. McLane, at Niagara-pledging his honor that all his own scouts should at once be called home. He ordered the Sloop Caldwell, mounting 14 guns and then lying near the fort, to sail immediately to that garrison with the dispatches.
Before his arrival and the nature of the Captain's mission was known, curtains were put to the windows looking out upon the lake, but they were now removed, and Maj. Ross asked his guest to look out and see the Caldwell take her departure for Fort Niagara. The view from the window in the sun-light upon the wide waters of the lake was a delightful one. Maj. Ross took occasion to inform the Captain in a delicate and polite manner; that although he had brought the first news of approaching peace, but that his garrison consisted of different corps of troops, on which account he was not at liberty to show him the situation of Oswego with its improved fortifications, for which be hoped full allowance would be made. In a letter subsequently sent the Captain at Fort Rensselaer-Fort Plain-the Major further explained why he could not be as complaisant and communative to him when at Fort Oswego, as his inclination or better nature prompted.
After Maj. Ross had expressed his delicate situation to his guest, the latter presented him the letters and descriptions of prisoners made in Central New York, which he agreed should be promptly attended to. He said it was impossible for any officer to control the savages when on excursions, and he really believed that many cruel depredations had been committed by them on our frontiers, known only to themselves. He said he had exerted himself to prevent the murdering of any prisoners, " but the utmost effort," said he, " could not prevent them from taking the scalps of the killed." He must have known that the Indian's desire to obtain scalps, was to receive for them the proffered bounty offered by the government which he served. The Major took occasion to say that he was very happy that such an unnatural war was at an end : saying, however, that war created the Soldier's Harvest. Maj. Ross was one of the most successful, as well as humane invaders of Central New York.
Nothing, said Capt. Thompson, seemed to affect Maj. Ross so much as did the published articles of peace by both nations, naming the boundaries of the United States. He got out maps and began to traverse the lines, only to find that the posts of Oswego, Niagara and Detroit, had all been ceded to the United States ; and still more was he mortified to learn that they were all to be surrendered in their present condition. But he controlled his feelings as best he could. He introduced a number of officers to the Captain, who, said the latter were all civil except Capt. Crawford, who had joined the British standard, when the enemy took New York city in 1776, and who now belonged to Sir John Johnson's Greens. " This person," said the Captain, "comes under that despicable character of a loyal subject. He appeared to be really ignorant of the cause he was fighting for, and had the wickedness to observe that he had made more money in the British service in the war, than he would have made in the American service in a hundred years. Capt. T. gave him to understand that American officers were engaged in the service from principle, and not for money. Maj. Ross and the other officers were disposed to treat the flag bearer courteously, and Crawford was obliged to choke down his politics, and offer a lame apology. The Captain took as little notice of this violent partizan as possible, during the rest of his stay.
Maj. Ross invited Capt. Thompson to remain a few days longer, and said that he would send his own barge with him up the rivers, lake and Wood creek ; he expressed his thanks and said he wished to return on the west side of the river, as that would take him through a country he had not explored. The Major said he should manifest his pleasure, but he would be happy to afford him any assistance. On Saturday the Major told him that the Indians had been clamorous, some one having told them that all their lands were to be taken from them, and they were to be driven to where the sun went down. He had also learned from some source that they had threatened his life on his return, and said it was necessary he should know it: he also assured him that lie would take every measure to prevent insult or injury, for which purpose he would send a detachment of troops to protect him as near his own garrison as he might think proper.
Capt. Thompson suggested leaving the next morning, and Maj. Ross required Adj't Ferguson to make a list of the persons he presented the names of, that he might report whether they were still alive or not. This list was given him in the evening. He then learned that a lad 14 years old was there a prisoner, who had been captured near Fort Dayton, and at the Captain's request, the boy, who was incapable of bearing arms-was allowed to return with him to his anxious parents. It is a pity the boy's name was not mentioned. He was a feeling lad, and was very grateful for the intercession of the Captain in his behalf. Thanking Maj. Roes for his kind entertainment, he was again blind folded, and taking the arms of Adj't Ferguson and Lieut. Hare, he was conducted without the fort and to his attendants in the mission at his boat at 11 o'clock P. M., on Sunday the 27th. The journal here ends abruptly, and the presumption is, that the balance of his memoranda was put into another small book-which may or may not be yet extant. As Maj. Ross agreed to have an escort ready to protect him on the journey back from savage insult, he no doubt sent a detachment of troops with him for some distance, perhaps under one of the officers named. In due time he again safely reached Fort Plain. Thus have we been able to present, at the end of nearly a century, the first published account of this important event in the annals of border-warfare.
Washington's Newburgh Headquarters. Washington in the Mohawk Valley.-In the spring of 1783, an order for the cessation of hostilities between Great Britain and the United States, was published in the camp of the latter just eight years after the battle of Lexington, but an army organization was kept up until fall. As the initiatory step to his contemplated tour of observation in Central New York, Gen. Washington wrote to Gen. Philip Schuyler, from his Newburgh Headquarters, July 15, 1783, as follows :
" DEAR SIR-I have always entertained a great desire to see the northern part of this State, before I returned Southward. The present irksome interval, while we are waiting for the definitive treaty, affords an opportunity of gratifying this inclination. I have therefore concerted with Geo. Clinton to make a tour to reconnoitre those places, where the most remarkable posts were established, and the ground which became famous by being the theatre of action in 1777. On our return from thence, we propose to pass across the Mohawk river, in order to have a view of that tract of country, which is so much celebrated for the fertility of its soil and the beauty of its situation. We shall set out by water on Friday the 18th, if nothing shall intervene to prevent our journey.
" Mr. Dimler, assistant quartermaster-general, who will have the honor of delivering this letter, precedes us to make arrangements, and particularly to have some light boats provided and transported to Lake George, that we may not be delayed on arrival there.
" I pray you, my dear sir, to be so good as to advise Mr. Dimler in what manner to proceed in this business, to excuse the trouble I am about to give you, and to be persuaded that your kind information and direction to the bearer will greatly increase the obligations, with which I have the honor to be, etc."-Sparks Life, 8, 425.
July 16th Washington wrote to the President of Congress as follows :
"Finding myself in most disagreeable circumstances here, and likely to be, so long as Congress are pleased to continue me in this awkward situation, anxiously expecting the definitive treaty ; without command, and with little else to do, than to be teased with troublesome applications and fruitless demands, which I have neither the means nor the power of satisfaction : in this distressing tedium I have resolved to wear away a little time in performing a tour to the northward, as far as Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and perhaps as far up the Mohawk river as Fort Schuyler. I shall leave this place (Newburgh) on Friday next, and shall probably be gone about two weeks, unless my tour should be interrupted by some special recall. One gentleman of my family will be left here to receive any letters or commands that shall be necessary."-Sparks.
Washington got back to his headquarters, August 5th, and the next day he wrote to the President of Congress. After speaking of his return, which was by water from Albany to Newburgh, he says : " My tour having been extended as far northward as Crown Point, and westward to Fort Schuyler (Stanwix) and its district, and my movements having been pretty rapid, my horses, which are not yet arrived, will be so much fatigued, that they will need some days to recruit, etc." In another letter of the same date he renews the subject, and says : " I was the more particularly induced by two considerations to make the tour, which in my letter of the 16th ultimo, I informed Congress I had in contemplation, and from which I returned last evening. The one was an inclination to see the northern and western posts of this State, with those places which have been the theatre of important military transactions ; the other a desire to facilitate, as far in my power, the operations, which will be necessary for occupying the posts which are ceded by the treaty of peace, as soon as they shall be evacuated by the British troops." He had his eye upon Detroit as a point to be looked after, and wanted some of the well affected citizens of that place to preserve the fortifications and public buildings there, " until such time as a garrison could be sent with provisions and stores sufficient to take and hold possession of them. The propriety of this measure has appeared in a more forcible point of light, since I have been up the Mohawk river, and taken a view of the situation of things in that quarter, etc." Elsewhere he adds : " I engaged at Fort Rensselaer,* a gentleman whose name is Cassaty, formerly a resident at Detroit, and who is well recommended, to proceed without loss of time, find out the disposition of the inhabitants, and make every previous inquiry, which might be necessary for the information of the Baron on his arrival, that he should be able to make such final arrangements, as the circumstances might appear to justify. This seemed to be the best alternative on failure of furnishing a garrison of our own troops, which; for many reasons would be infinitely the most eligible mode, if the season and your means would possibly admit."
I have at the same time endeavored to take the best preparatory steps in my power for supplying the garrisons on the western
* As Fort Rensselaer, of Canajoharie, was only a picketed dwelling, he no doubt had reference to Fort Plain, and thus unwittingly adopted Gen. Van Rensselaer's new name for the principal post In the neighborhood,
waters by the provision contract. I can only form my magazine at Fort Herkimer, on the German flats, which is 32 miles by land and almost 50 by water from the carrying place between the Mohawk river and Wood creek (owing to the many curves). The route by the former is impracticable in its present state for carriages, and the other extremely difficult for bateaux, as the river is much obstructed with fallen and floating trees, from the long disuse of the navigation. That nothing, however, which depends upon me might be left undone, I have -directed 10 months provisions for 500 men to be laid up at Fort Herkimer, and have ordered Col. Willett, an active officer commanding the troops of the State (he evidently meant State troops in that locality), to repair the roads, remove the obstructions in the river, and, as far as can be effected by the labors of the soldiers, build houses for the reception of the provisions and stores at the carrying place (Fort Stanwix), in order that the whole may be in perfect readiness to move forward, so soon as the arrangement shall be made with Gen. Haldimand. I shall have such ordnance and stores forwarded to Albany, as in the present view of matters may be judged necessary for the western posts, and I will also write to the Quartermaster-General, by this conveyance, on the subject of bateaux and the other articles, which may be required from his department. However, as I before observed, without money to provide some boats, and to pay the expense of transportation, it will be next to impossible to get these things even to Niagara."-Sparks.
From Princeton, New Jersey, October 12, 1783, Washington wrote to the Chevalier Chastelleux, as follows : " I have lately made a tour through the Lakes George and Champlain as far as Crown Point. Thence returning to Schenectada, I proceeded up the Mohawk river to Fort Schuyler (formerly Fort Stanwix), and crossed over to Wood creek, which empties into the Oneida lake, and affords the water communication with Ontario. I then traversed the country to the eastern branch of the Susquehanna, and viewed the Lake Otsego, and the portage between that lake and the Mohawk river at Canajoharie. Prompted by these actual observations, I could not help taking a more expensive view of the vast inland navigation of these United States, from maps and the information of others, and could not but be struck with the immense extent and importance of it, and with the goodness of that Providence, which has dealt its favors to us with so profuse a hand. Would to God we may have wisdom enough to improve them. I shall not rest contented, till I have explored the western country, and traversed those lines or a great portion of them, which have given bounds to a new empire. But when it may, if it ever shall happen, I dare not say, as my first attention must be given to the deranged situation of my private concerns, which are not a little injured by almost nine years absence and total disregard of them, etc., etc."
The reader will observe by Washington's correspondence, that he made the northern trip by water to Crown Point, but from Schenectada to Fort Stanwix, or rather its site, on horseback. The tour of inspection as shadowed in his letters, is devoid of all incident, and whether or not he halted at Fort Plain on his way up is uncertain ; but as he speaks last of going to Otsego Lake, it is presumed he made no halt at the river forts going up, nor is there any mention of his visiting Johnstown in his tour, but it is reasonable to conclude that he did. He did not mention Fort Plain, but it is well known that he was there, giving it another name. Arriving in its vicinity, said the late Cornelius Mabee, who was thus informed by his mother, he tarried over night with Peter Wormuth, in Palatine, on the late Reuben Lipe farm, the former having had an only son killed, as elsewhere shown, near Cherry Valley. It was no doubt known to many that he had passed up the valley, who were on the quivive to see him on his return, and good tradition says that in the morning many people had assembled at Wormuth's to see the world's model man, and to satisfy their curiosity, he walked back and forth in front of the house, which fronted toward the river. This old stone dwelling in ruins, was totally demolished about the year 1863.
We have seen that Washington found Col. Willett in command at Fort Herkimer on his visit, at which time Col. Clyde was in command of Fort Plain. Just how many accompanied his Excellency through the Mohawk valley, is not satisfactorily known. His correspondence only names Gov. George Clinton. Campbell, in his Annals, says he was accompanied by Gov. Clinton, Gen. Hand, and many other officers of the New York line. But his retinue was not a large one. The officers making the escort were no doubt attended by their aids and servants. Whether any other officer remained with Washington at Wormuth's over night is unknown. It is presumed, however, the house being small and the fort only a mile off, that his attendants all went thither, crossing at Walrath's Ferry, opposite the fort, some of whom returned in the morning to escort the Commander-in-chief over the river. A pretty incident awaited his arrival on the eminence near the fort. Beside the road Rev. Mrs. Gros had paraded a bevy of small boys, her nephew Lawrence Gros (from whom this fact was derived) being of the number, to make their obeisance. At a signal they took off and swung their hats, huzzaed a welcome and made their best bow to Washington, when the illustrious guest gracefully lifted his chapeau, returned their respectful salutation with a cheerful, "Good morning, boys !"* Immediately after, he rode up to the fort where he received a military salute from the garrison.
I suppose Washington to have been welcomed within the large block-house, and on introducing the guest to its commandant, Gov. Clinton took occasion to say to him : " Gen. Washington, this is Col. Clyde, a true whig and a brave officer who has made great sacrifices for his country." The guest responded with warmth : " Then, sir, you should remember him in your appointments." From this hint Gov. Clinton afterwards appointed him sheriff of Montgomery county. The distinguished guest dined with Col. Clyde,+ after which,
*In 1880, I was assured by the venerable Jabez Tappen, then residing near Fort Plain, that when a boy he lived at Morristown, N. J. When Washington was on his way to New York, to be inaugurated as president, la April, 1789, his uncle Stephen Ogden, his mother's brother, stood beside the road with three sons, Charles, Ephraim and Jacob, and informant, and as Washington neared the little platoon powdered and ruffled, they doffed their hats and holding them against their left breast with their right hands, they made their best bow to the Illustrious traveler. The hero touched his beaver gracefully, and with a gesture of the hand he said, " Good morning, sirs." He was escorted from Morristown to Trenton by a body of cavalry. Ogden was a soldier under Washington at Monmouth, where he was terribly wounded, and where be was personally noticed by Washington, as he lay upon the ground, with a bullet through the hips.
+ Since the above was written, I have learned the following facts, In the history of Col. James Clyde. He was born in Windham, Rockingham county, N. H., April 11, 1732: his mother's maiden name being Esther Rankin. He worked his father's farm, to the age of 20, when he went to Cape Breton and worked as a ship-carpenter, from whence he went to Halifax and labored on a dock for the English navy. In 1757, he went to New Hampshire and raised a company of bateau-men and rangers, of which he was appointed Captain, by Gen. James Aberoromby, said company being under the command of Lieut. Col. John Bradstreet. This commission was dated at Albany, May 25,1758. He marched his company to Albany, and was soon after on his way to Lake George. He was in the battle of Ticonderoga, in which Gen. Howe was slain, and the British defeated. He was afterwards at the capture of Fort Frontenac and returning from the campaign to Schenectada, In 1781, he there married Catharina Wasson, a niece of Matthew Thornton, a signer of the declaration of Independence.In 1762, he became a permanent settler of Cherry Valley. About the year 1770, Capt. Clyde erected a small church, for the Indians, at Oneida castle, which with graced with an English bell, at the first ringing of which the Indians manifested unbounded joy.
escorted by Maj. Thornton, they proceeded to Cherry Valley, where they became the guests, over night, of Col. Campbell, "who had returned not long before and erected a log house. Judge Campbell in his Annals, erroneously dates this visit in 1784 instead of 1783. Burnt out as the Campbell's had been, their accommodations were limited for so many guests, but they were all soldiers and had often been on short allowance of " bed and board," and could rough it if necessary. Besides, it is possible other families had returned to discover their hospitality for the night. They found themselves very agreeably entertained, however. Mrs. Campbell and her children had been prisoners to Canada.
In the morning Gov. Clinton, seeing several of her boys, told Mrs. Campbell, " they would make good soldiers in time." She replied, " she hoped their services would never be thus needed." " I hope so, too, madam," said Washington, " for I have seen enough of war." One of those boys, the late Judge James S. Campbell, was captured so young and kept so long among the Indians, that he could only speak their language when exchanged. After breakfast the party were early in the saddle to visit the outlet of Otsego Lake, and see where Gen. James Clinton dammed the lake just above its outlet, to float his boats down the Susquehanna, to join in Sullivan's expedition. We saw several of the posts of that dam, still in the water, about the year 1845. The party returned the same evening to Fort Plain, via the portage road, opened by Clinton to Springfield from Canajoharie, and the next day, as believed,
* Said Judge Hammond, in Stuart's Magazine, In 1852, "Mrs. Clyde, whom he had the pleasure of knowing, was a woman of uncommon talents both natural and acquired, and of great fortitude. She read much and kept up with the literature of the day. Her style In conversing was peculiarly elegant, and at the same time easy and unaffected. Her manner was dignified, graceful and attractive. Her conversation with young men during the Revolutionary war, tended greatly to raise their drooping spirits, and confirm their resolution to stand by their country to the last." Not a few noble women on the frontiers thus made their influence felt in the hour of need.
they dropped down the valley.-Judge George Clyde, and Judge W. W. Campbell.
At the beginning of national difficulties, a company of volunteers was raised in Cherry Valley and New Town Martin for home protection, of which James Clyde was commissioned its Captain, by the 40 men he was to command, of which John Campbell, Jr., was chosen Lieutenant, and James Cannon, Ensign. Among the names of the volunteers voting for these officers, appears that of James Campbell, afterwards Colonel. This commission was dated July 13, 1775. October 28, following the State Prov. Congress commissioned him as a Captain and Adjutant of the First Regiment of Tryon county militia. September 5, 1776, he was commissioned as Second-Major of the fourth regiment, commanded by Col. Cox. Here is an error in the number of the regiment, as Cox commanded the First from the promotion of Gen. Herkimer. June 25, 1778, Maj. Clyde was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the regiment, of which James Campbell was then Colonel, the commission as such passing the secretary's office with the signature of Gov. George Clinton, March 17, 1781. He must have had Borne evidence of his appointment long before. We have not seen his commission as Colonel of this regiment which he attained to.
That Clyde was the acting Colonel of this regiment long before the date of his commission as Lieutenant-Colonel, here is positive evidence. A company of Levies was being raised in Tryon county, and under date of May 3, 1780, Stephen Lush, upon consulting with Gen. Ten Broeck and Col. Van Schaick, wrote to the Colonels of the valley regiments, to write names in commissions inclosed, for a Captain and a Lieutenant of said company. This letter was thus superscribed : "Public Service -George Clinton-Colonels Klock, Fisher, Clyde and Bellinger-any three or two of them-Tryon county." Those were the acting Colonels of the Tryon county militia at that date, as recognized in Albany. Col. Clyde seems to have been on duty every summer in the bounds of his regiment, until the close of the war.
On the organization of the State government in 1777, he was a member of the Legislature. March 8, 1785, he was commissioned as sheriff of Montgomery county, by George Clinton, March 8, 1785 ; the duties of which office he discharged with conscientious fidelity.-Clyde Manuscripts, and Hon. J. D. Hammond's Sketch published in 1852. And I here mention with deep regret, that Isaac De Graff, his compatriot and friend, stated to me in 1844 (then at the age 87), while speaking of the virtues and goodness of Col. Clyde, that owing to his unbounded generosity he became involved, and was confined in the Otsego county jail for debt, where he soon after died. This fact is not mentioned as a stigma upon his character for it was not-as many a good man at that period was thus incarcerated for lenity and assistance rendered to others-but to show how the most deserving, were at times affected by that cruel law, which imprisoned a virtuous man for his own or someone's else debts.
After the destruction of Cherry Valley, Col. Campbell is said to have made his home at Niskayuna, and is not remembered as taking an active part in military affairs after that event in 1778. Whether or not he retained his commission as Colonel of the regiment while Clyde was discharging its duties, is unknown to the writer ; but the late date of Clyde's commission as Lieutenant-Colonel, would seem to imply such a state of things. Certainly Gov. Clinton must have known who the acting Colonel of the regiment in question was, after 1778 to the close of the war.
Incidents Attending the Evacuation of New York City by the British Army, November 25, 1783.-When the British army evacuated New York, and the triumphant Americans, led by Gen. Knox, entered the city, there stood upon the battery a flag-staff 70 feet high, upon which the enemy's ensign had floated for more than seven years. The British shipping had not left the bay, when the republican army, accompanied by Gen. Washington and Gov. Clinton, brought up on the battery ; and determined to see their flag at the top of this staff while they remained, the enemy drew it up removing the halliards by which it could be lowered, and to make it stay in this enviable position the more certain, they slushed the pole with grease and soft soap, twenty feet upward from the ground.
Climbing the Flag-staff.-On gaining the battery, the officers were anxious to see their own flag occupying the place of the foeman's, and offered to reward liberally any individual, who would climb the staff and adjust thereon, in place of the British flag, the banner of liberty. About a dozen sprightly young men tried to perform the feat, but the pole was so foul they gave it up in despair, carrying away upon their clothes much of the slush.
At this moment when the officers had become impatient at the delay, Thomas Johnson, then in his 18th year, who had seen so many make the fruitless attempt, walked to the staff and took hold of it. Gen. Washington standing near said to him in a friendly manner, " My lad, have you a notion to try it?"
I don't know, sir," replied Johnson," it feels pretty greasy."
" If you think you can possibly climb it," said Washington in a winning way, " make the attempt, you shall be well paid if you succeed."
Divesting himself of all his clothing except his shirt and pantaloons, Johnson mounted the pole amid the anxious gaze of thousands, and ascended above the slush and higher than any of his predecessors had gone, and stopped to take breath. Fearing he was about to abandon the enterprise, Washington shouted : " Keep up good courage my lad ! Courage wins half the battle, I know, for I have tried it! Go on, you will soon be at the top !"
He did go on and in a few minutes was at the summit, tore down the emblem of royalty, adjusted the halliards anew for the stripes and stars, and soon after was in safety upon the ground, to receive the thanks of the multitude. Said an officer as he was putting on his clothes, " Now go round with your hat to all the officers!"
" No, my lad," said Washington advancing toward him, " Stand still, they will all come to you !" Setting them an example he thrust his hand into his pocket, drew out a handful of silver coin, and without looking at it, cast it into the hat. Many others came up and contributed liberally for the times, and when he retired to count his reward, he had about twenty dollars.
Thus was struck the last British standard in our contest for liberty. Is that banner yet in existence ?
Johnson was a native of New York city. His father was in the American army, and when the city fell into the possession of the enemy, the rest of the family removed to Fishkill. They returned to the city at the close of the war, and the son was on the battery to find his father among the soldiery, when he performed the feat mentioned. In pictures representing the evacuation of the city, Johnson is figured as climbing upon cleats nailed across the flag-staff, but he declared there was not a single cleat upon it, and his statement to me was corroborated by Maj. Nicholas Stoner, who witnessed the feat, and who was present at our interview, Johnson is now living, 1850, at Pleasant Valley, Fulton county, N. Y.*
The British were determined on leaving their last stronghold, that their ears should not be saluted by the cannon they were obliged to leave behind, and rendered them unfit for use, either by spiking or driving down cold shot. This was a trick Gen. Knox anticipated, and he declared, with an oath, before entering the city, that they should have thunder. Accordingly he took with him four brass 12-pounders, which, as freedom's flag spread its graceful folds to the breeze, opened their noisy mouths and boomed forth a national salute on the battery, that was responded to by the British shipping still in sight and ladened with tory families bound for Nova Scotia, by many a bitter curse.
It was either required or suggested by Gov. Clinton near the time of its evacuation, that the friends of liberty in the city should wear a knot of green ribbon half an inch wide, tied in three button holes of the vest. As several days longer were
* The completion of a plank road from Fonda to the head of the Garoga lakes, a distance of 18 miles, was celebrated at the latter place on the 4th of July, 1849, at which time the writer met Mr. Johnson, and had from his lips the particulars here given. While Johnson was relating his feat, one of a similar though less difficult nature was being performed scarcely 203 feet from us. A liberty pole 80 feet high with one splice was standing on a knoll in front of the public house of Abram Seeber, at Newkirks Mills, near where the celebration took place, and the halliards became entangled in the pully at the top of the pole, so that the flag could only be raised to half-mast. A young German named Jacob Fisher, ascended the pole to the top, in a very short time, and adjusted the cord. The feat was a pretty one, and the more Interesting to the writer, as be was noting down a similar event. Fisher had on boots with iron creepers upon his ankles, which be struck into the pole to aid him in his ascent.
At the celebration here alluded to, the late Stephen Sammons, Esq., delivered an oration to a very large assemblage, and to add interest to the occasion, Stoner and Johnson were both upon the stage, to whose services, while upon Revolutionary scenes, be happily alluded.
N. B. Maj. Nicholas Stoner died at the age of nearly 91 years, on Thursday November 24,1853, and was buried at Kingsborough, beside his first wife.
Thomas Johnson died in January, 1864, in the 89th year of his age.
granted the British than had been contemplated, the tories determined not to see the significant emblem, and about 70 patriots who would not doff the (to them) hateful badge, were imprisoned. This treatment of his friends came to the knowledge of Gov. Clinton on entering the city, and after the brass war-dogs had ended their barking, the Governor conferred with Gen. Knox ; when the republican prisoners were set at liberty, and the places they had occupied were filled by a greater number of loyalists, who had been instrumental to their durance.- Facts from Elisha Bache, of the Continental artillery, which entered New York under Gen. Knox. Mr. Bache also saw Johnson climb the flag staff, and first mentioned the circumstance to the writer, at which time he was a Canajoharie pensioner.
They Paid for the Bread.-Soon after the war, probably in 1784, Adam Hartman returned home from his labor, when his wife informed him that several Indians had been there, and had taken her baking of bread from the oven and carried it off. His blood; was soon up to fever heat, and armed with his rifle, he was soon on their trail. Coming up with them he managed to secure their guns, when he accused them of their theft, and threatened to shoot them if they did not pay for the bread, which they were then eating. They were in funds and were very willing to cancel the debt ; and ever after they gave his oven a wide berth. He was often heard to say that he was not afraid of any dozen Indians.-Lodowick Moyer.
Some notice of individuals and matters connected with the war not elsewhere given. The active operations of the enemy closed with the year 1782, preliminaries for a peace having been agreed upon in November of that year, which was not finally ratified until September 30th following. As shown, the British troops evacuated New York November 25th, soon after which, Washington repaired to Annapolis, Maryland, when Congress was then in session, and on the 20th day of December he resigned to that august body his military command, prefaced by a brief and appropriate address, which was handsomely responded to by its president, Gen. Mifflin. Once more a private citizen, Washington repaired to his seat at Mount Vernon, followed by the prayers and admiration of every lover of civil liberty upon the habitable globe.
Oothout Van Rensselaer, Esq., of Albany, is said to have been commissioner for disposing of confiscated property in the Schoharie settlements. The title of farms (in New York) in the possession of royalists, which had been purchased of patriotic Americans, and not paid for, reverting to the private owner-while those of active royalists, who held a free title, were confiscated to the government. Nearly all the property sequestered in the present county of Schoharie, was owned in Breakabeen, Rhinebeck, and New Dorlach, more than 1,000 acres of which were in the-latter settlement.
Vengeance.-After the war not a few tories came back to Schoharie, some of whom even boasted of their evil deeds, and if they were not treated like Beacraft, they were looked upon with great suspicion for at least one generation.
A number of Schoharie Indians, who had escaped the bullets of the rangers, claiming the same privilege as the Tories with whom they had acted, also returned to the scenes of their former cruelties. Among them was Seth's Henry, as previously mentioned, Abram, his sister's son, and a few others of notoriety. The former had not been long in Vrooman's Land before he became suspicious of the republicans, and whenever he entered a house he preferred a position where he could look from an open door or window, and anticipate any ominious movement. From this place he started to go to the Charlotte river, was followed by Timothy Murphy, who had kept vigils of his footsteps in the valley, and, as he never reached the place for which he set out, it was currently believed, though not generally known, that his bones were left to bleach in the intervening forest. The writer has, no doubt, from the information he has received from Lawrence Mattice, David Elerson and others, that a bullet from the rifle which sent Gen. Fraser to his long home, also ended the career of this crafty chief, who was one of the most blood thirsty and successful warriors of the Revolution.
The Schoharie Indian, Abram, who returned with Seth's Henry, was followed by Peter C. Vrooman (familiarly known as Hoarse Pete), armed with an axe, into the kitchen of Samuel Vrooman's house, in Vroomans' Land, where he inflicted two blows upon his head, and would, no doubt, have slain him as he lay upon the floor, had not a slave belonging to the house seized the arm of the assailant, and afforded the Indian an opportunity to effect his escape. The Indian had provoked Vrooman's vengeance by boasting of his former deeds, and would, no doubt, have been killed by the first blow struck at him, had not the missile hit the floor over head, and broke its fall. He was a long time in recovering, and is said to have been less saucy afterwards.-Mrs. Van Slyck and J. W. Bouck.
This same Indian, if report is true, tarried about Schoharie for a year or two, and suddenly disappeared. He was at a bee, as a gathering of neighbors is called, when they are assembled to husk corn, draw wood, or manure, etc., as is often witnessed in the interior of New York-the sequel of which usually is, a good warm supper, got up in the best possible style-on some occasions followed by a dance. Such bees are common in the Schoharie and Mohawk valleys now, and have been from the time of their earliest white settlements. Indeed, they are not confined to the males either; quilting bees, spinning bees, apple paring bees, and the like, are common among the females, and fortunate, indeed, is that young man's lot who has notice to be present and help " shake the quilt," or remove the rejected parts of the apple, as he sometimes has most delectable kissing when the quilt is folded, the apples cut, and the happifying " come Phylanders," and many other nectar originators are fairly begun. Pardon this digression, kind reader ; I was going to say, that the Indian, Abram, was at a bee of some sort at the house of a farmer on Foxescreek, and was not a little intoxictaed. " Schoharie John" was there also, and probably not sober enough to " walk a crack," unless it was a curved one. They quarrelled ; after passionate words had escaped them, the Indian left the house, and was followed in a short time by " Schoharie John." This Indian was never seen again in the settlement, and as a large pile of drift wood upon the bank of the creek not far distant, was seen on fire the following morning, it was conjectured by some, that possibly Abram's bones might be found in the ashes ; but whether they were or not, or whether suspicion slandered the old soldier who followed him from the house, the writer knows not.-Doct. P. S. Swart, J. M. Swart, and others.
Most of the Indians who returned to Schoharie after the war, remained about the settlement until fall, when several of their number disappeared in a very unaccountable manner. The fact was, several of them had been met in by-places by citizen hunters, and were mistaken for bears. A few disappeared, and the rest took the hint and left the country.-Lawrence Lawyer.
Drinks.-The most common beverages drank by the soldiery in the Revolution, were flip and kill-devil. The former was made of beer brewed from malt and hops, to which was added sugar and liquor-the whole heated with a hot iron. The latter was made like flip, except that cider was substituted for beer. The price of each was one York shilling for a quart mug ; half a mug usually served two persons.
Some Notice of Capt. Williams.-Among the survivors of the Revolution, with whom the author has spent many agreeable hours, was Capt. Eben Williams, a son of Jonathan Williams, of Lebanon, Connecticut. He entered the army under Col. Patterson, of Berkshire county, Massachusetts, in 1775, from which time to the end of the war, he was in constant and varied service. He was on duty in 11 of the 13 States and the Canadas. He witnessed the battle of Bunker Hill, but was with the troops at their camp on the main land, where an attack was expected. He also witnessed the surrender of the armies of Burgoyne and Cornwallis.
On the 20th day of May, 1876, he was in the battle of the Cedars, 37 miles from Montreal, on which occasion he became a prisoner to the Indians, by whom he was robbed of his clothing. He was kept in confinement 10 days, and then exchanged. He was commissioned as Second-Lieutenant of infantry, in September, 1776. In February, 1777, Col. Patterson was promoted to Brigadier-General, and Joseph Vose became the Colonel of his regiment, which formed a part of the army of Gen. Gates in the fall campaign of that year. Col. Vose, who made a prudent, good officer, had been educated a butcher. While marching at the head of his regiment, in the vicinity of Burgoyne's army, to execute a command, a party of Hessians brought two field-pieces to bear upon them, and a shot killed the Colonel's horse under him, but without halting his men he proceeded on foot, ordering a drummer to bring along his pistols.*
*The sangfroid manifested by Col. Vose, while under Gen. Gates, reminds me of another anecdote of the same campaign. Col. Scamrnel was distinguished for his courage and activity in the battle of Saratoga, and in the heat of it his cue was nearly shot off by a ball from the enemy. Pulling it off, he threw it down in the direction of the foe, exclaiming with emphasis, "D-n you, take it all!" Col. Scammel led the van of Washington's army on their march to Yorktown, early in the seige of which place he fell, covered with glory. He was prompted to Adjutant-General just before his death.-James Williamson.
In the fall of 1777, the brigade of Gen. Glover, to which Williams, then a Lieutenant of infantry, was attached, proceeded from Bemis's Heights to Valley Forge for winter quarters. On arriving near the residence of Gen. Richard Montgomery which was then pleasantly situated near the Hudson, about midway between Red Hook and Rhinebeck, Col. Shephard, at that time in temporary command of the troops, as a compliment to the widow of so conspicuous a martyr in the cause, dispatched Lieut. Williams, in the capacity of Adjutant, with Major-General's guard, and the compliments of the commander, tendering the service of the guard for the night. A Major-General's guard consisted of a subaltern officer and 20 men, and a Brigadier-General's guard, of a sergeant and 12 men. As Williams road up to the door, Mrs. Montgomery (Miss Jennet Livingston before marriage) made her appearance. She possessed a genteel form, with a small sparkling eye, and was neatly clad in black. She performed her part of the ceremony very politely, accepting the guard and quartering them for the night. Lieut. Emery, the officer of the guard, a gallant young soldier under Capt. Pillsbury, was highly pleased with the duty and executed it handsomely. He was enthusiastic, on joining his regiment in the morning, in describing the very hospitable manner in which himself and men were entertained.*
* A cenotaph to the memory of Gen. Montgomery stands in the front wall of St. Paul's church in New York city. At the time of his death December 31,1776, Congress voted to erect a monument to his memory. In 1818, the Legislature of New York, DeWItt Clinton being then Governor, in accordance with the Congressional resolve made 12 years before; ordered the remains of this brave warrior to be removed from Quebec to New York. They reached Albany July 4th, and remained In that city over Sunday, and on Wednesday Allowing they were deposited with funeral honors in their final resting place at St. Pauls. Gov. Clinton had informed Mrs. Montgomery, when the steamer Richmond with the body of her husband, would pass her mansion on the North river. At her request she stood alone on the portico at the moment that the boat passed. It was over 10 years since she had parted from her husband, they had been married two years, but she remained faithful to his memory as if alive. Indeed, it is said by old people, that she never ceased in her life-time to wear black. The steam boat halted opposite her mansion, the band played the Dead March, a salute was fired, and the ashes of the departed husband passed on as the boat resumed its course. The attendants of the Spartan widow found on approaching her, that the excitement had been to great a strain upon her nerves, and she had swooned and fallen upon the floor.-Letter in the Albany Argus, November 30,1870.
In the summer of 1778, Lieut. Williams was on duty in New Jersey, and was at the battle of Monmouth. In August following that battle, Gen. Glover's brigade, consisting of four Massachusetts regiments, commanded by Colonels Shephard, Wigglesworth, Bigelow, and Vose, proceeded to Rhode Island to strengthen the army of Gen. Sullivan.
In June, 1779, Jeremiah Miller, his captain, was appointed paymaster of the regiment, and Lieut. Williams took the command of the company; from which time until the war closed, he almost constantly performed the duty of Captain. In July, his regiment marched to Westchester county, New York, and the following winter (known as the cold winter), Gen. Glover's brigade was cantoned at a place called Budd's Huts, situated three miles east of West Point, on the road leading from Fishkill to Peekskill. The snow was deep while the huts were building, and the water did not drop from the eaves of those rude dwellings for 40 successive days. Part of the army wintered the same season three miles back of West Point, in what were called the York huts. The logs for Budd's huts were brought together by the soldiers with drag-ropes.
In the summer of 1780, Capt. Williams was on duty on the borders of New York and New Jersey, and in the summer of 1781, in the vicinity of King's Ferry, until September, when he marched with the army of Gen. Washington to Yorktown.
Dueling.-In December, 1781, Capt. Williams returned to Westchester county, where he wintered and continued in service in that vicinity a good part of the year, 1782. On his return from Yorktown, Capt. Hitchcock, of the light infantry, had some difficulty with Lieut. Stone, of his own company. The quarrel ended in a duel and the Captain was killed ; soon after which Williams was transferred to the command of his company.* It is worthy of remark that but little dueling took place in the American army in the Revolution, the moral part of the community sternly rebuking the practice. A quarrel between Gen. Poor and Brigade Major Porter, which originated
* In 1783, Williams was on guard at Washington's quarters more than once, and on those occasions he usually dined with his Excellency, It was his custom to seat the commissioned, officers of his army at his table by turns; and it Is believed that few officers were near his person during the war, who were not thus honored. This course not only served to make the officers respect themselves, but it tended in a great degree to make him the better known to his troops, and to increase their respect for him.
it is believed, in a reproof of the former to the latter for his rakish conduct, resulted in a duel, which took place in 1780, at Paramus, New Jersey, in which the General, a fine officer, was killed.
In the army arrangement of the Revolution, the Colonel, Lieutenant-Colonel, and Major of each regiment of State troops, retained the command of a company in the same called theirs, to which no Captain was assigned. The immediate command of those companies usually devolved on subaltern officers ; that of the Colonel on a Captain or Lieutenant, that of Lieutenant-Colonel on the First-Lieutenant, and that of Major on a Second-Lieutenant.
Capt. Williams continued in the army of Washington near the Hudson until the British evacuated New York, on the 25th of November, 1783, at which time he accompanied the victorious army in its entree to that city, and was present at Francis' Tavern, or " Black Sam's," as familiarly called, when Gen. Washington took leave of his officers on the 4th of December. On leaving the disbanded army Capt. Williams could say -- what few others could -- he was never mustered during the whole war, sick or absent, when duty required his presence. At the close of the war he became a member of the Massachusetts Cincinnatti. Those associations composed chiefly of military officers, were formed in the several States with a general society of the United States, of which Gen. Washington was president. About the year 1808, Capt. Williams removed from Massachusetts to Onondaga county, New York. For several years before his death he resided in the town of Schoharie, and in his 96th year, few young men read more than he did. He from choice cut his own fire wood, worked his own garden, etc., and the fall he was 90 years old, he revived the trade of his youth by framing two good sized buildings. He was ever a firm supporter of that government he helped to establish. He had long been an exemplary Christian-and imbibing in childhood the moral principles of a New England mother, he proved himself a worthy, honest and respected citizen. He still wrote a legible hand at the age of 96, without glasses. His answer to the question-Were you a young man with the knowledge you now have, would you enter the army if a war should break out ?-was, " Yes, I think I should. Yes, I am pretty sure I should." He died in the summer of 1847, aged about 98 years.
Brief Mention of Col. Tallmadge.-I have made several quotations from the military journal of Major, afterwards Col. Benjamin Tallmadge, an active and efficient officer of the Revolution. This private journal, which was prepared after the war at the request of his children to exhibit his military life, contains memoranda of an interesting character, and from it I glean the following additional facts :*
Col. Tallmadge was the second of five sons of the Rev. Benjamin Tallmadge, a settled minister at Brookhaven, L. I. He graduated at Yale College with literary honors in 1773, soon after which he was called to the charge of a high school in Weathersfield, Ct. Capt. Chester, of Weathersfield, having been appointed a Colonel of State troops, and tendering young Tallmadge a Lieutenant's commission, with the appointment of Adjutant of his regiment, the student laid aside his books, and the contemplated study of the law, and entered the service of his country. He was commissioned a Lieutenant by Gov. Trumbull, June 20th, 1776, and received a warrant as Adjutant, bearing the same date. He marched with the army of Washington to New York, was engaged in the disastrous battle of Long Island, and in several skirmishes above New York, in one of which Brigade-Maj. Wyllis was made prisoner, and he was given his station. At the battle of White Plains, he was with a division of the army under Gen. Spencer, who engaged the Hessian troops under Gen. Rahl, when the Americans, pressed by overpowering numbers, were obliged to fall back to Chadderton's Hill, then occupied by Gen. McDougall. As the Adjutant was about to enter the Bronx with the rear of the army, the Rev. Dr. Trumbull, their chaplain, sprang upon his horse behind him, with an impetus that carried them both headlong, with saddle and accoutrements, into the river. Regaining their feet, they, however, forded the stream in time to make good their retreat. Long poles, with iron pikes, supplied the want of bayonets, at this time, in the American camp. Near the close of the year, a new organization of the army took place,
* For the loan of this journal, in 1844, the author would here acknowledge his indebtedness to the Hon. John P. Cushman, of Troy, a son-in-law of Col. Tallmadge.
when Lieut. Tallmadge received the command of a company of dragoons, under Col. Elisha Sheldon.
Early in the spring of 1777, a squadron of four companies of Sheldon's corps, under the command of Tallmadge, the senior Captain, joined the army of Washington, near Middlebrook, N. J. His own troop was mounted entirely on dapple grey horses, of which, under black mountings, he acknowledged he felt proud. On the 25th June, 1777, he was engaged in the battle of Short Hills, between the Americans, under Lord Sterling, and the enemy, under Lord Cornwallis, in which the former lost four field pieces a second time. About this period Capt. Tallmadge was promoted to Major of cavalry. In 1778, while actively employed with the army in New Jersey, Maj. Tallmadge opened a private correspondence with some persons in New York, for Gen. Washington, which lasted through the war.
About the first of July, 1779, when the dragoons of Col. Sheldon were stationed below North Castle, a large body of the enemy's light horse and infantry, under Lord Rawdon, attacked them in the night. The onset was impetuous, and the Americans, borne down by superior numbers, and flanked by infantry, found i4, necessary to retreat-doing which the servant of Maj. Tallmadge was wounded and captured by the enemy, and with him his master's horse and valise, the latter containing 20 guineas. In the summer of 1780, Gen. Washington honored Maj. Tallmadge with a separate command, consisting of a body of horse and two companies of infantry, formed from dismounted dragoons. He took a station soon after at North Stamford, Conn., and while there Gen. Parsons proposed a joint enterprise of their forces against the enemy's garrison at Lloyd's Neck, on Long Island, which was abandoned, owing to the treachery of the agent employed by the general to gain the requisite information.
"On the fifth of September, 1779" (says the journal), "I undertook an expedition against the enemy on Lloyd's Neck, L. I. At this place, and on a promontory or elevated piece of ground next to the sound, between Huntington Harbor and Oyster Bay, the enemy had established a strongly fortified post, where they kept a body of about 500 troops. In the rear of this garrison a large band of marauders encamped, who, having boats at command, continually infested the sound and our shores. Having a great desire to break up the banditti of free-booters, on the evening named I embarked my detachment, amounting in the whole to about 130, at Shipand Point, near Stamford, at eight o'clock in the evening, and by 10 we landed on Lloyd's Neck. Having made my arrangements we proceeded in different divisions to beat up their quarters. Our attack was so sudden and unexpected that we succeeded in capturing almost the whole party, a few only escaping into the bushes, from whence they commenced firing on my detachment, which gave the alarm to the garrison. This prevented our attempting any attack upon the outposts and guards of the fort, and after destroying all the boats we could find, as well as the huts of these refugees, we returned with our prisoners to our boats, and embarked for Connecticut, where we landed in safety before sunrise the next morning, and without the loss of a single man.
In the fall of 1780 Maj. Tallmadge revived his project of an expedition to Long Island. Through agents he obtained accurate returns of a fortification in Suffolk county, called Fort St. George. It was constructed " at a point which projects into the South Bay on Smith's Manor, being the enemy's easternmost defense." It is thus described in the Journal:
"I found it to be a triangular inclosure of several acres of ground, at two angles of which was a strongly barricaded house, and at the third, a fort, with a deep ditch and wall encircled by an abattis of sharpened pickets, projecting at an angle of 45 degrees. The fort and houses were entirely connected with a strong stockade, 12 feet high, every piece sharpened and fastened to each other by a traverse rail strongly bolted to each. The work was nearly finished."
Having obtained the necessary information he proposed to the Commander-in-chief to destroy the works, who concluded the expedition too dangerous to warrant its undertaking. Not willing to abandon his project, Maj. Tallmadge visited the island in person about the 1st of November, to ascertain the then state of the works. He learned "that the fortress was completed, and was the depository of stores, dry-goods, groceries, and arms, from whence Suffolk county could be supplied." Provided with an accurate draft of the fort, and apprised that a large quantity of forage was collected at Coram, from the east end of the island, he again importuned Gen. Washington to sanction a contemplated visit, who, on the 11th day of November, signified his assent by letter. The expedition is thus entered in the journal:
"All preparations necessary being made, on the 21st of November, at about four o'clock p. M., I embarked my detachment composed of two companies of dismounted dragoons (and in all short of 100 selected men), at Fairfield, and the same evening at nine o'clock, we landed at a place on Long Island called the Old Man's. I was obliged to go so far east to avoid a large body of the enemy which laid at Huntington and its vicinity, partly in our direct route from Stamford. Soon after we landed, say by 10 o'clock, I put the troops in motion to cross Long Island. We had not gone far, say four or five miles, before the wind began to blow from the southeast, and the rain soon followed. I faced the troops about, returned to our boats, which were drawn up and concealed in the bushes. There we remained through the night and the next day, and at evening the rain abated, and I again ordered the troops to march for our destined place on the south side of Long Island. At four o'clock next morning I found we were within two miles of Fort St. George, when we halted a short time to take refreshment. Having made my arrangements for the plan of attack, I placed two small detachments under the command of subaltern officers of high spirit, at different positions from the fort, with orders to keep concealed until the enemy should fire on my column. Just as the day began to dawn, I put my detachment in motion. The pioneers who preceded my column had reached within 40 yards of the stockade before they were discovered by the enemy. At this moment, the sentinel in advance of the stockade, halted his march, looked attentively at our column, demanded " who comes there !" and fired. Before the smoke from his gun had cleared his vision, my sergeant, who marched by my side, reached him with his bayonet, and prostrated him. This was the signal for the other troops to move forward, when all seemed to vie with each other to enter the fort. So resolute were the men, that a breach was soon made in the stockade, where the rear platoon halted to prevent the prisoners from escaping. I led the column directly through the grand parade against the main fort, -which we carried with the bayonet in less than 10 minutes, not a musket being loaded. At the same instant that I entered one side of the fort, the officers commanding the smaller detachments mounted the ramparts on the other sides, and the watchword, Washington and Glory ! was repeated from three sides of the fort at the same time. While we were standing, elated with victory, in the canter of the fort, a volley of musketry was discharged from the windows of one of the large houses, which induced me to order my whole detachment to load and fire. I soon found it necessary to lead the column directly to the house, which being strongly barricaded required the aid of the pioneers with their axes. As soon as the troops could enter, the contusion and conflict was great. A considerable portion or those who had fired after the fort was taken and the colors had been struck, were thrown headlong from the second story to the ground. Having forfeited their lives by the usages of war, all would have been killed had I not ordered the slaughter to cease. The prisoners, being secured, it was soon discovered that the shipping, which laid near the fort, loaded with stores, etc., were getting under weigh. The guns of the fort were brought to bear on them, and they were soon secured. All things were now safe and quiet, and I had never seen the gun rise more pleasantly. It became necessary to demolish the enemy's works, as far as possible, which was done: an immense quantity of stores of various kinds, English, etc., were destroyed. The shipping and their stores were also burned up. Some valuable articles of dry goods were made up in bundles, placed on the prisoners' shoulders, who were pinioned two and two, and thus carried across the island to our boats. The work of capturing and destroying this fortress being effected, at eight o'clock A. M , I put the troops under march to recross the island to our boats. Having given the command of the detachment to Capt. Edgar, with orders to halt at a given point near the middle of the island, I selected 10 or 12 men, and mounted them on horses taken at the fort, with which I intended to destroy the King's magazine of forage at Coram. This place was nearly half way to a place where a large body of British troops were encamped, east of Huntington. I reached the place in about, an hour and a half, made a vigorous charge upon the guard placed to protect it, set it on fire (some 300 tons of hay), and in about an hour and a half more reached the place where I had ordered the troops to halt, having rode some 15 or 16 miles. As I arrived at the spot, I was gratified to see the head of the detachment, under Capt. Edgar, advancing with the prisoners. As none of us had halted since we parted, we sat down for nearly an hour and refreshed. After this we took up our line of march, by four o'clock reached our boats, and before sunset we were all afloat on the sound ; by midnight, or one o'clock next morning, every boat arrived on Fairfield beach, although we had entirely lost sight of each other in the darkness of the night. This service was executed entirely without the loss of one man from my detachment and one only was badly wounded, and him we brought off. The enemy's loss was seven killed and wounded, most of them mortally. We took one Lieutenant-Colonel commandant, one Captain, one Lieutenant, one Surgeon, and 50 rank and file, with a host of others in the garrison."
On reporting the result of his expedition to the Commander-in-chief, Maj. Tallmadge requested permission to give his troops the spoils they had borne from the captured fortress, to which he received the following reply :
28th November, 1780.
" DEAR SIR-Both your letters of the 25th came to my hands this day. I received with much pleasure the report of your successful enterprise upon Fort St. George, and the vessel with stores in the harbor, and was particularly well pleased with the destruction of the hay, which must, I should conceive, be severely felt by the enemy at this time.
" I beg of you to accept my thanks for your judicious planning, and spirited execution of the business, and that you will offer them to the Officers and Men who shared the honor of the Enterprise with you.
The gallant behavior of Mr. Murison gives him a fair claim to an appointment
in the second Regt. of Dragoons, or any Other of the State to which he belongs,
where there is a vacancy, and I have no doubt of his meeting with it accordingly,
if you will make known his merits, with these sentiments in his favor. "You
have my free consent to reward your gallant party with the little booty they
were able to bring from the Enemy's works.
" With much esteem and regard, I am, Dear Sir,
" Your most obed't Serv't,
" GO. WASHINGTON."
following honorable notice of Maj. Tallmadge's success over the enemy on Long
Island, is found on the journal of Congress for 1780, under date of December
sixth, that body having been apprised of the affair some days before by Gen.
" While Congress are sensible of the patriotism, courage and perseverance of the officers and privates of their regular forces, as well as the militia throughout these United States, and of the military conduct of the principal commanders in both, it gives them pleasure to be so frequently called upon to confer marks of distinction and applause for enterprises which do honor to the profession of arms, and claim a high rank among military achievements. In this light they view the enterprise against Fort George, on Long Island, planned, and conducted with wisdom and great gallantry by Maj. Tallmadge, of the light dragoons, and executed with intrepidity and complete success by the officers and soldiers of his detachment.
" Ordered, therefore, That Maj. Tallmadge's report to the Commander-in-Chief be published, with the preceding minute, as a tribute to distinguished merit, and in testimony of the sense Congress entertain of this brilliant service." " No person but a military man," says the journal of Col. Tallmadge " knows how to appreciate the honor bestowed, when the Commander-in-Chief and the Congress of the United States return their thanks for a military achievement."
Contemplating an expedition against a British garrison of 800 men at Lloyd's Neck, and that of Fort Slongo, eight miles eastward of it, guarded by 150 men, Maj. Tallmadge again visited Long Island, April 22, 1781, to obtain accurate information. Submitting his plan of intended operations to Gen. Washington for the capture of these posts, and clearing the sound of the enemy's small craft, with the aid of more troops, and the co-operation of the French frigates, it was favorably received, and he was furnished with a flattering letter of introduction to Count Rochambeau, then at Rhode Island, for the naval force. The absence of the vessels of the size wanted, prevented the prosecution of the enterprise. In the fall of this year, Maj. Tallmadge renewed his project of annoying the enemy on Long Island.
." The fortress at Treadwell's Neck, called Fort Slongo (says the journal), seemed to demand attention, and on the first of October I moved my detachment of light infantry into the neighborhood of Norwalk ; at the same time I directed a suitable number of boats to be assembled at the mouth of Saugatuck river, east of the town of Norwalk. On the evening of October 2, 1781, at nine o'clock, I embarked a part of my detachment, and placed Maj. Trescott at the head of it, with orders to assail the fort on a particular point. The troops landed on Long Island by four o'clock, and at the dawn of day the attack was made and the fortress subdued. The block house, and other combustible materials, were burned, and the troops and prisoners returned in safety, bringing off one piece of handsome brass field artillery."*
When the campaign of 1782 was opened, many felt as though the independence of the country had already been secured by the capture of Cornwallis and his army, but Gen. Washington, whatever may have been his private opinion, " inculcated upon his troops the necessity of strict discipline, that they might be prepared for any emergency." Many supernumary officers were permitted to retire from the army early this season, the most efficient being retained in service. As this year was one of comparative inactivity, the soldier's life became irksome, and he sighed for employment.
Toward the close of the year 1782, Major Tallmadge having been informed that 600 of the enemy had encamped at Huntington. Long Island, conceived the plan of "beating up their quarters." He disclosed his project in person to Gen. Washington, in the latter part of November, and obtained his permission to undertake it, the General claiming to name the time. The 5th of December was the day fixed upon, when the Commander
* Maj. Prescott's force on this occasion numbered 100 men, and the surprise of the enemy was complete. He made two captains, one Lieutenant and 18 rank and file prisoners; two of the enemy were also killed and two wounded. Of his command, only one man was wounded.- Thacher's Journal.
intended to execute an enterprise on the Hudson-which was, to throw a large detachment of his troops below Fort Washington, while he moved down with the main body to Fort Independence and Kingsbridge, thus bringing the enemy between two fires. On the evening of the day named, Maj. Tallmadge assembled his troops at Shipand Point, where his boats had been ordered. His forces-some 700 men-consisting of four companies of infantry, a party of dismounted dragoons, to mount the captured horses, and a body of Connecticut levies, began to embark at sunset ; but the half had not left the shore, when, a western storm arising, they were called back, the boats drawn on shore and turned up for shelter. The Sound was agitated the next day, and at night became quiet, and the troops were beginning a second time to embark, but another gale arising, the troops were sheltered as on the previous night. Apprised, on the morning of the 7th, that three of the enemy's boats from Long Island had taken refuge and were wind-bound on the Norwalk islands, a few miles east of the point, Maj. Tallmadge despatched six sail boats under Capt. Brewster, to give some account of them. Two were captured, after a spirited contest, in crossing the Sound-there about twelve miles wide -and the third escaped to land. Capt. Brewster received a bullet in the breast, which passed through the body, but recovered of the wound. The wind again rising on the third night, the expedition to the island was abandoned. The contemplated movement of Gen. Washington, on the evening of the 5th, was prevented by several British vessels having moved up that day, and anchored above Fort Washington.
In the winter of 1782 and '83, considerable illicit intercourse was carried on by traders along the Sound with the merchants of New York, and boats thus employed often fell into the hands of the vigilant Americans. Informed that a public armed vessel, in the employ of the government, was actively employed in the traffic "technically called the London trade," Maj. Tallmadge proposed to punish the offenders. The craft was a large sloop called the Sheeldham, Capt. Hoyt. Furnished with a copy of her invoice of goods, and notified of her expected arrival at Norwalk, Maj. T. repaired to that place with a party of dragoons, and had the satisfaction of seeing her approach the harbor. She anchored near the Old Wells, soon after which he went on board with a warrant, and constable to serve it. Making known his errand, the captain flew into a passion, and threatened to throw him overboard. While the intrepid Major was endeavoring to reason with the dealer in contraband wares, the latter weighed anchor, hoisted sails, and stood out into the Sound, with a breeze from the northwest. When ordered to put back, he not only refused, but swore he would throw his guest overboard. The rest of the farce is thus noted in the journal:
" My Captain continued his course towards Lloyd's Neck, where the enemy's fleet lay, until we reached the middle of the Sound. I inquired of him where he was going, when he informed me, with an oath, he would carry me over to the enemy. I informed him that for such an offense, by our martial law, he exposed himself to be punished with death. He professed to care nothing for the consequences. I maintained my former course, and sternly ordered him to put about his vessel and return to Norwalk, assuring him that if he executed his threat I would have him hanged as high as Haman hung, if ever I returned, as I did not doubt I should. The time now became very critical, for we were rapidly approaching the enemy, when I again commanded him to put about his ship and return. He began to hesitate, and in a few minutes ordered his men to put about ; and then steered directly back into Norwalk harbor. As soon as he came to anchor down at the Old Wells, the Captain went ashore in his boat, and I never saw him again. I now found myself in the peaceable possession of the vessel and its cargo. On taking up the scuttle in the cabin, I found an assortment of English goods corresponding with my invoice, which I had duly libeled and condemned. Thus ended my hazardous contest with the captain of the Sheeldham, a man void of principle, and unworthy the commission he held."
One of the enemy's sloops of war having been seen repeatedly to cross the Sound and anchor under Stratford Point, Conn., where she went to barter merchandise for produce, measures were taken to capture her. At Bridgeport, Major Tallmadge met Captain Amos Hubbel, who had a suitable vessel, and readily engaged in the enterprise. The Captain agreed to bring his craft along side the hostile ship, if indemnified against her loss in case of capture by the enemy, to which proposition Maj. Tallmadge readily assented. On the 20th of February, 1783, when the English sloop was at the point, the Major placed 45 men of his detachment, under the immediate command of Lieutenants Rhea and Hawley, with Capt. Brewster's boot's crew of continental troops, on board of Capt. Hubbel's vessel, the whole to be commanded by Capt. Brewster. Capt. Hubbel, taking the helm in person, sailed at two o'clock p. M., and at four was within hail of the foe. The American troops were kept concealed until the vessels were brought in contact. As they neared, the enemy opened a broadside, which crippled their antagonist considerably in the mast and rigging, but Capt. Hubbel, with great presence of mind, brought her up gallantly to the work. The troops, at a given signal, appeared on deck, discharged a volley of balls, and under Capt. Brewster boarded and carried the enemy at the point of the bayonet, " as in a moment," nearly every man on board being either killed or wounded. Not one of Brewster's men were harmed, nor was the vessel materially injured. In a few hours both vessels were moored in safety at Black Rock harbor. The affair being duly reported to Gen. Washington, he expressed his thanks to Maj. Tallmadge by letter, ordered the condemnation of the prize, and the avails thereof to be distributed among the troops who captured it.
In the summer of 1873, after preliminary articles of peace had been announced, Maj. Tallmadge, with the approbation of Gen. Washington, proceeded to New York, under the sanction of a flag, to grant that protection the times demanded, to such persons as had transmitted intelligence of the enemy's doings from time to time during the war, to Maj. Tallmadge and others employed by the Commander-in-chief to procure it. Private emissaries, in other words secret spies, employed for years in the American service were thus protected against the insults of their countrymen, who, on entering the city, might otherwise have treated them with indignity, instead of merited respect. Several Enoch Crosbys were secretly engaged in the Revolution in transmitting to Gen. Washington, as best they could, important information of the enemy's movements in and around New York.
Maj. Tallmadge was with the troops under Gen. Washington, which entered New York on the day it was evacuated by the enemy. On this occasion, Gen. Knox, at the head of a select corps, led the van of the American army. "The Commander-in-chief, accompanied by Gov. Clinton, and their respective suites, made their public entry into the city on horseback, followed by the Lieutenant Governor and members of the council, the officers of the army, eight abreast, and citizens on horseback, eight abreast, accompanied by the speaker of the Assembly, and citizens, on foot, eight abreast. So perfect was the order of march, that entire tranquility prevailed, and nothing occurred to mar the general joy." Gov. Clinton gave a public dinner on the occasion, at which Gen. Washington and numerous other guests were present. On the Tuesday evening following, a most splendid display of fire-works took place near the Bowling Green, at the foot of Broadway. Maj. Tallmadge was also present, at Francis' tavern in Pearl street, when Gen. Washington took leave of his officers. They assembled at 12 o'clock M., soon after which General Washington appeared. After partaking of a little refreshment, in almost breathless silence, his Excellency filled his glass with wine, and turning to his companions in arms, thus addressed them : " With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable." The officers drank a glass of wine with him, after which he added : " I cannot come to each of you, but shall feel obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand." Gen. Knox, being nearest, grasped his hand, and they embraced each other in silence. This was no doubt one of the most affecting interviews of the kind ever known. Each officer, in turn, imitating the example of Gen. Knox, embraced their Commander, and saluted him with a kiss, while their tears mingled profusely with his own. Waving his hand to his comrades, he left the room, and passing through a corps of light infantry paraded to receive him, he walked in silence to Whitehall, where a barge waited his arrival. His officers followed to the wharf, where a large multitude had assembled to see his departure, and there witness his last salutation, which was the waving of his hat above the boat.
On the return of peace, Maj. Tallmadge again visited his native place, where the patriotic citizens got up a festival, roasted an ox whole, and made the Major master of ceremonies.
On the 16th of March, 1784, Maj. Tallmadge led to Hymen's altar, the eldest daughter of the Hon. William Floyd, of Mastick, L. I., after which he commenced the mercantile business in Litchfield, Conn. He was much respected for his talents, and represented the district in which he resided in the councils of the nation.
Fortune Telling in the Revolution.-The work has never been without its quidnuncs, and occasionally they are found very serviceable in perilous times. At some period of the war when an article had mysteriously disappeared in a company of Connecticut troops, Uncle Tim. Adams, a pensioner, who, when a boy, the writer well remembers as an old fox hunter, etc., having the name of being a divinator in his company, was called upon to " conjure and fortune-tell the rogue." He said over some hocus pocus, and then told the complainant that he had divined who had the stolen property. Said he, very gravely, "It may be found in the knapsack of Ben. Shaw." Adams and Shaw were both from the town of Canterbury, Conn. The commanding officer being notified of the theft and prognostication, went with complainant and ordered the accused to open his pack; he did so, when lo! the lost property was found. Such offenses were usually very severely punished; but Shaw got off with a mild reprimand. The reader wonders why he escaped a public flogging. The truth is, Ben. was so good a commissariat, to supply not only his own wants but those of his friends and even officers with a dainty morsel, when money would not buy poultry and other desirable things in the country, that it would hardly do to whip him, for by so doing needed supplies would be cut off. In relating this event, after the war, " Uncle Tim." Was asked how he could tell who had the stolen property. He said he could not tell who had it, but he felt quite sure there was no man in the company that would be so likely to have it as Ben. Shaw-hence his accusation. Like many a true fortune-teller, he prognosticated from impending circumstances,-From the Memory of the Writer's Brother, E. F. S.
Why Hartman Kills an Indian.-Among the patriotic men who dwelt on the rich German Flats, which he aided in defending in the Revolution, as already shown, was Adam Hartman, a descendant of an early German settler. In a skirmish in that war he received from an Indian a severe bullet wound in his right shoulder, which troubled him through life. After the war now and then a Mohawk hunter came back to the land of his childhood-hunting grounds of his youth, and the places where in riper years he had engaged in scenes of blood and carnage. At the close of the war, when traces of the tomahawk and scalping knife were abundant, an Indian halted at nightfall, probably in 1784, at a little tavern in the eastern part of the present town of Frankfort, kept, as believed, by a Bellinger, some say a Myers. At this little inn-which, I suppose, was one story high and painted red-with accommodations ample for the wants of then Western New York, a few neighbors were congregated in the evening, as was their custom, to have a smoke, drink a glass of grog and talk over the news-subjects of present or past occurrence-something deeply interesting, making the eyes of little boys in the chimney corner glisten.
On such an occasion did the lone chieftain, whom some one has called a Mohawk known as " Saucy Nick," enter the barroom of mine host, by far the most important room in the house. Disencumbered of his treasures, a rifle and a pack, having oiled his tongue at the bar, he, too, joined in the conversation. Among the guests, and principal speakers, was Adam Hartman. There was nothing peculiar in his person or dress, save that he had on a green coat, evident to all but the Indian, had been a trophy of war, and had once been worn by one of " Johnson's Greens." Determination was a marked feature of his countenance. Knowing that the tories associated with him had worn such coats, the Indian, a large, muscular fellow, took Hartman to be one of that class, and directed most of his conversation to him. As the evening wore away, and the bar patronage increased, Revolutionary scenes became the absorbing topic, fraught with blood and murder; when the Indian, divested of his usual caution, began to boast, in broken English, of his own deeds of cruelty. Among his acts of exultation, he had killed a white infant and skinned a portion of its person. He then exhibited a tobacco pouch and said, "Him skin pale-faced papoose.'" The sight of this trophy, which, says a correspondent, somewhat resembled a greasy glove, operated electrically upon Hartman's worst passions, and some threatening expressions passed his lips, the import of which, spoken in German, was mistaken by the Indian for praise. Soon after the red warrior produced, the novel evidence of his prowess, the company dispersed; but Hartman learned before he left that the traveler would go early in the morning toward Oneida Castle.
Betimes, the next morning, Hartman might have been seen in the vicinity of a small swamp a little west of Frankfort. Soon after, an Indian is traveling westward, who recognized the former by his green coat. As the two were going the same way, Hartman very kindly offered to carry his companion's rifle : and as his lost cow, for which he pretended to be seeking, might possibly have strayed into the swamp beside the road, he tried to persuade his dusky companion to go through it with him in search of her, but no entreaty could prevail on the Mohawk to enter the thicket, and they proceeded beside it. In a desired spot, the white man looked this way and that-as Moses did over the sands of Egypt, and saw not a third person. Threading his way unconscious of danger, the stout warrior's eye was glancing over the landscape, once more to rest on some known object of by-gone days-some tree had given him shelter, or some hill rising above its fellows had proven a landmark to guide the hunter when young to his wigwam. Revenge, the master passion of the red man, for once had found a place in the white man's breast, and suddenly a rifle's shrill note rang out on the morning air, claiming response to the requiem of a departing spirit.
In the path before Hartman, lay quivering in death with a bullet hole through his heart, a victim of passion, slain without unexceptionable claim to a justifiable cause : for if it was morally wrong for the Indian to kill a white child in time of war, it was no less so for a white man to kill in time of peace a fellow being. Two wrongs cannot make a moral right, and Christian teaching requires the exercise of charity. Scarcely had his victim ceased to breathe, when Hartman drew his body into the swamp near the bank of the river and stamped it into the mud, as also his rifle and pack. A year or two later, when this Indian's visit was nearly forgotten, his deeds of exultation were mentioned:-possibly in the same bar-room, when Hartman, who was present, casually remarked : " That Indian never got far from here!" The expression caused great surprise, for when he thus spoke everyone knew there was meaning in his words. Interrogated as to the Indian's fate he replied : " In the little swamp above, his carcass may possibly be found, and with it his beautiful tobacco pouch ! "
At the place indicated, some person had the curiosity to search, when lo ! the skeleton of a man and a rusty rifle were found.* They were near the site of the late Judge Dygert's dwelling. Herkimer county had not then been organized, when some one of tory proclivities, got Hartman indicted at Johnstown for the murder of this Indian, and was there for trial. Abram Van Vechten, Esq., was present to defend him, who picked a flaw in the indictment, and the old patriot went home to his family, and was not again molested.-Facts from the late Hon. John B. Dygert, and Frederick Petrie ; the latter had the story from Hartman's own lips.
and where Van Camp Killed an Indian.-Garret Walrath, a disciple of Vulcan,
carried on business in Palatine, about half a mile to the westward of the
Fort Plain railroad depot. The incident here given transpired directly after
the war, and probably in the fall of 1784. An old two-story dwelling now stands
on the premises. Moses Van Camp, who had been a brave soldier in the war,
was at work one day at the anvil, when his boss came in and remarked, in no
pleasant humor :
" See them d-d Indians on the flats, stealing my potatoes."
" Well," said Van Camp, " I'll go down and tell them to be off."
" Don't go near them," said Walrath, "for like as not they'll kill you."
" I'm not afraid of the c-d redskins," said he, and, retaining a two-pound hammer under his apron, he left the shop and approached the nearest of three Indians, two of whom were several rods from their fellow, who stood in a dug-out canoe moored at the shore, where was a ferry rope, not far from which all had deposited their guns. It was not that the citizens begrudged the Indians a few potatoes, but because they would impudently help themselves, wasting more than they took. It was their custom to pull up vines, at times destroying the further growth of a dozen hills to get a few of the larger ones attaching to the vines. As the young blacksmith came upon the bank of the river, the Indian, who, with a knife, was scraping a piece of raw pork designed for their dinner-they having a camp-kettle in which to cook it-he began to remonstrate
* Said D. Hawkins, Esq; of Newport, N. Y., In 1850, Col. Matthew Myers, of Brooklyn, N. Y., was then the owner of the identical rifle.
with him for getting potatoes without permission, when the Indian, who was large and saucy, rose up in anger, raised the knife, and exclaimed in broken English: "-Be off, or me give you dis! " Quick as a flash that hammer came from its concealment, and fell heavily upon the head of his adversary, who was killed by the blow, and fell backward into the river.
His friends in the potatoe patch witnessed the transaction at the boat, and with terrific yells ran for their weapons, Van Camp fleeing up the river and into the woods for dear life. They fired at and then pursued him for some distance, but being fleet as an antelope he escaped.-From Isaac Maxfield, a relative of Van Camp, corroborated by George Countryman and his wife (a sister of Maj. Jost Spraker), Lawrence Gros, and George Wagner.
How he Escaped Vengeance at Another Time.-At a little later period, believed in the spring of 1785 or '86, Moses Van Camp accompanied a brother to Fort Stanwix, now Rome, in a sleigh, from some place a few miles distant. They had been in a store trading, and among their purchases was a keg of rum, and from the store they went into the bar-room of a small tavern, where they had left their team. While they were in the store, a small party of Indian hunters had entered this barroom Hardly were they in the room, when one of the warriors stepped up to Moses and asked him if his name was Van Camp ? He replied in the affirmative, when instantly his interrogator, with flashing eye and threatening mien, exclaimed, " You killed my brozer with hammer." "No," said Van Camp, who saw his danger, "that was a brother of mine; he was a bad fellow; you and I are friends, and we'll drink together." So saying he took the plug from the keg, and taking a swig himself he handed it to his accuser to drink and pass it to his companions. While they were thus disposing of the liquor, Van Camp's brother took the hint, drove the team to the door and Moses sprang in, leaving the liquor with the Indians; and giving the lash to the horses they threw themselves down in the bottom of the sleigh just in time to avoid a tomahawk hurled, as supposed, by the brother of the slain Indian, which passed over their heads and stuck in the fore-end of the sleigh; becoming a valuable memento of his escape from the revenge of a savage. This event is said to have occurred in the evening, which favored their flight. The hatchet exchanged for the rum was a very neat one, having a copper head in which was a pipe. After his marriage, Van Camp, knowing that he was identified and marked, never dared to remain long in a place, moving often to avoid another interview with his accuser. The late Geo. Wagner assured the writer that he went once or twice some distance with this Van Camp to look for a desirable farm. He finally removed to Pennsylvania, where he died.-Mr. and Mrs. George Countryman, at whose house Van Camp often found a home.
Indian Hunters Come Back to the Johnstown Settlements.- Soon after the war, the Indian hunters of Northern New York, began to visit the Fish House settlement, and go from there to Johnstown to sell fur. On one occasion two Indian hunters hired Godfrey Shew to take them to Johnstown in a wagon, and on their way they stopped at the house of George Cough. The reader will remember he had twice gone to Canada as a prisoner, and judge his surprise at seeing in the person of one of the Indians, a former tyrannic master. " What, Shew '." said the old gentleman starting with surprise, with his passions kindling, " and do you bring this cursed Indian here? He took me prisoner the last time I went to Canada?"
"Ah ! we friends now !" said the Indian extending his hand for a shake, which Cough finally received, and acting on the Christian principle of rendering good for evil, that former foe was shown some kindness by the family. The Indian told the sons playfully, that they had got to be men from having been under his care.* On arriving at Johnstown, the hunters sold their fur to Gen. Dodge, + and paid Mr. Shew liberally for taking them there.-Jacob Shew, a son of Godfrey Shew.
Jacob Shew, who was greatly respected for his integrity and moral worth, was a Captain of Militia after the war. I have somewhere remarked that he was a member of Assembly, in 1818. While he was there the following event occurred : At a dinner party given by Gov. Dewitt Clinton, to the members of the Legislature, at which Mr. Shew was a guest, Gen. Erastus Root, of Delaware county, carved a round of venison.
A fact stated to the writer by George Cough, one of those sons, in
+ A soldier during the war, and a General of militia after its close. The following Inscription is from a stone In the old Johnstown grave-yard: "Maj.-Gen. Richard Dodge, a soldier In the Revolution, died Sept. 2,1832, aged 70 years."
After serving all who would be helped, he took a liberal slice himself. " Now," said he still standing and running his eye along the table, " all who will vote for a bounty on wolves" (a bill for which was then pending), "can eat venison, but those who intend to vote against it, must not eat any. As for myself," he added with emphasis, " I intend to eat a large slice." This little speech gained him several votes for the protection of deer in the destruction of wolves.- -- Shew.
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