Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

The Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883

Jacob Shew

Vol II, Page 346-7 Anecdotal Attending the Ranger Service in the Mohawk Valley in 1780, Related by Jacob Shew, one of their number.-- In the spring of 1780, Jacob Shew went for one of a class as then termed, in Capt. Garret Putman's company for the term of nine months, a part of which time he was on duty at Fort Plank. The ranger service often called the troops from one frontier fort to another. Shew was one of a guard of perhaps a dozen men once sent with a drove of cattle to Fort Stanwix. While encamped for the night near Shoemaker's place, near the now village of Mohawk, they were fired upon after dark by concealed foes, who had doubtless kept an eye of vigilance on their movements. The fire was a random one, and none of the Americans were injured; but it was promptly returned in the direction of the enemy, and they were not again disturbed that night. On resuming their march in the morning, the guard found blood on the ground, and supposed they had killed or wounded one or more of the "night watch."

At another time, shew was one of a guard sent up the Mohawk with several boats laden with provisions and military stores, also for Fort Stanwix. The boats were usually laden and started from Schenectada, a military escort receiving them in charge at Fort Plain. The troops went along the shore, and at rapids had to aid in getting the boats along; which were laid up nights, the boatmen encamping on shore with the guard.

When moving up the Mohawk from Fort Plain to take charge of Fort House, a little stockade on the north side of the river enclosing the dwelling of George House--situated nearly opposite fort Windecker, a party of Putman's men, of which number was my friend Shew, halted over night at a similar stockade at George Klock's, a mile or two below. On their arrival, the citizens clustered within the little post were much gratified at having their security increased, and gave to the men in war's panopoly a cordial welcome. Moses Van Camp, on of the latter and a fine soldier, was not a little annoyed by the warm reception he met from a buxom wench who chanced to know him. "Oh Moses!" she exclaimed, "how glad I am to see you; now we are safe!" and running up she grasped his muscular hand and held on as though she had a life lease of it. She did not give him a hug and a kiss, though his companions told him afterwards that she wanted to. The ardor of this artless, dark eyed and darker skinned maiden, put the blush on young Van Camp, who subsequently had often to hear of the joyous tears his presence had caused to flow down cheeks, whose rosy flashes refused at the surface to answer to his own. His is not the last we shall have to say of this daring young man.

Some time in the summer of this year (1780) several Indians appeared down the river from Fort Herkimer, and attempted, as supposed, to draw a scout from the fort. They burnt a train of powder on a log,and thus raised a smoke to attract notice. By a maneuver, Capt. Putman, then on duty at this post, attempted to surprise them. At the head of his company, with martial music, he made quite a circuit in the woods and returned to the fort, leaving, concealed by the way, his Lieut., Solomon Woodworth, Shew and several other soldiers. But the ruse did not succeed. The Indians, from some position, no doubt counted their numbers and were aware that all had not gone back to the fort.

In the fall of 1780, a girl in her teens went from Fort Herkimer to pick apples, not far distant; and while thus engaged at a favorite tree, just out of sight of the fort, she was surprised by an Indian; was tomahawked and scalped. She left the fort early in the day, and not returning at the proper time, her friends became alarmed for her safety and sought her at her favorite tree, which stood in a retired part of the orchard; beneath which she lay, weltering in her own blood. She was borne to the fort, her wounds dressed, and she recovered and lived after the war.

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