The Pictorial Field-Book
of The Revolution
by Benson J. Lossing
"Billows! there's not a wave! the waters spread
One broad, unbroken mirror; all around
Is hush'd to silence-silence so profound
That a bird's carol, or an arrow sped
Into the distance, would, like 'larum-bell,
Jar the deep stillness and dissolve the spell."
A CALM, sweetly consonant with ideas of Sabbath rest, was upon the mam, the islands, and the river, and all the day long not a breath of air rippled the silent-flowing but mighty St. Lawrence. We passed the (August 13, 1848.) morning in alternately viewing the ever-changing scene as our vessel sped toward Ontario, and in perusing Burke's "Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful." I never read that charming production with so much pleasure as then, for illustrative examples were on every side. And when, toward noon, our course was among the Thousand Islands, the propriety of his citation of the stars as an example, by their number and confusion, of the cause of the idea of sublimity was forcibly illustrated." The apparent disorder," he says, "augments the grandeur, for the appearance of care is highly contrary to our idea of magnificence." So with these islands. They fill the St. Lawrence through nearly sixty miles of its course, commencing fifteen miles below Kingston, and vary in size from a few yards to eighteen miles in length. Some are mere syenite rocks, bearing sufficient alluvium to produce cedar, spruce, and pine shrubs, which seldom grow to the dignity of a tree; while others were beautifully fringed with luxuriant grass and shaded by lofty trees. A few of the larger are inhabited and cultivated. They are twelve hundred and twenty-seven in number. Viewed separately, they present nothing remarkable; but scattered, as they are, so profusely and in such disorder over the bosom of the river, their features constantly changing as we made our rapid way among them, an idea of magnificence and sublimity involuntarily possessed the mind, and wooed our attention from the tuition of books to that of nature.
We reached Kingston, Upper Canada, at about four o'clock, where we remained until nearly sunset. This is a large and flourishing town, at the lower end of Lake Ontario, and its commercial position is valuable and important. It stands near the site of old Fort Frontenac, and is now a British military post. It seems strongly fortified, and completely commands, by its military works, the entrance of the St. Lawrence from Ontario. A strong bomb-proof round tower stands upon Cedar Island, just below the city. Similar structures guard the portals of Fort Henry, the open space between the city and the fort, and one is a huge sentinel in the harbor, directly in front of the magnificent market-house that fronts upon the quay. They are mounted with cannon, and the hollow buttresses are pierced for musketry. A flourishing Indian settlement, called Candaragui, was upon the site of Kingston when first discovered by the French, and traces of the builder's art, evidently older than the fortifications of the whites, have been discovered. I was informed by a resident at Kingston, whom I met at Quebec, that while excavating to form a terrace near his residence, a few months previous, his workmen
struck the stump of a tree three feet in diameter, and, upon removing it, a stone wall, regularly laid, was found beneath it.
This spot, known as Fort Frontenac, was a place of much importance during the inter-colonial wars of the last century. It was first a fur trading and missionary station of the Quebec colony. In 1673, Count Louis Frontenac, governor of Canada, erected a fort there and gave it his own name, and for eighty years it was one of the strongest military posts in America. It was from this point that Father Marquette (under the patronage of Frontenac) and other missionaries took their final departure for explorations in the Far West, and here provisions and stores were kept to supply other military and religious establishments upon the great lakes. Fort Frontenac remained in possession of the French until 1758. when Colonel Bradstreet,(1) with a detachment of men, chiefly provincials of New York and New England, captured it. After the disastrous defeat of Abercrombie at Ticonderoga, Colonel Bradstreet solicited and obtained permission to undertake that expedition. He traversed the wilderness to Oswego, where he embarked in three vessels already prepared for him, descended the lake, and suddenly appeared before Frontenac. The weak garrison, overwhelmed by numbers, surrendered without resistance. The commander of the fort was exchanged for Colonel Peter Schuyler, then a prisoner in Canada.
Leaving a small garrison to keep the post, Bradstreet and his troops returned and aided in building Fort Stanwix, upon the Mohawk, at the portage between that river and Wood Creek, a tributary of Oneida Lake. Among his officers were, Colonel Charles Clinton, of Ulster county, New York; Major Nathaniel Woodhull, who fell on Long Island in 1776, and Goosen Van Schaick, of Albany, and Lieutenant Marinus Willett, of New York, who were afterward colonels in the New York Revolutionary line.(2)
We did not land at Kingston, for the tarrying time of the boat was uncertain. It was nearly sunset when we left, and we passed the southern extremity of Gage Island just in time to see its last rays sparkling upon the tree-tops on Amherst Island, in the far distance. Ontario, like the St. Lawrence, was unruffled, and the evening voyage between Kingston and Sackett's Harbor was exceedingly pleasant, rendered so chiefly by a cool breeze, cushioned seats, agreeable company, and the anticipations of meeting deal' friends at Oswego the next morning. We landed there a little after daybreak, and tarried three days before starting for the "Niagara frontier."
Oswego is beautifully situated upon Lake Ontario, on each side of the Chouegesen or Oswego River, a large and rapid stream, through which flow the waters of eight considerable lakes in the interior of New York-the Canandagua, Crooked, Seneca, Cayuga., Oswego, Skaneateles, Onondaga, and Oneida, with their numerous little tributaries-and drains a surface of four thousand five hundred square miles. Beautifully significant are the Indian names of Oswego and Ontario-rapid water and pretty lake-for the river comes foaming
1 John Bradstreet was a native of England. He was Lieutenant-governor
of St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1746, and ten years afterward accompanied
the expeditions against the French on the frontier of New York. In 1756
he was commissary general, and engaged in keeping up a communication between
Albany and Oswego. He had charge of boats that carried provisions, and so
much were they annoyed by the Indians in the French service, while passing
down the Onondaga or Oswego River, that it required a great deal of skill
and bravery to defend them. A small stockade fort near the site of the present
village of Rome was cut off by the enemy, and they were obliged to depend
upon their own power, in the open forest, for protection. He had a severe
engagement near the margin of Oneida Lake, with a large war party of savages,
but gained a victory, leaving nearly two hundred of the enemy dead upon
the field. His own los5 was about thirty. His capture of Fort Frontenac,
in 1758, put into the possession of thc English the fort, nine armed vessels,
forty pieces of cannon, a vast quantity of provisions and stores, and one
hundred and ten prisoners. In the summer of 1764 he was employed against
the Indians on the borders of Ontario, and at Presque Isle he compelled
the Delawares, Shawnees, and other tribes to agree to terms of peace. He
was appointed major general in 1772, and died at New York, October 21st,
2 The captains of the New York troops engaged in this expedition were, Jonathan Ogden, of West Chester; Peter Dubois, of New York; Samuel Badgely and William Humphrey, of Dutchess; Daniel Wright and Richard Howlet, of Queens; Thomas Arrowsmith, of Richmond; Ebenezer Seely, of Ulster; and Peter Yates and Goosen Van Schaick, of Albany.
down broad rapids several miles before it expands into the harbor and mingles its flood with the blue waters of Ontario. Its hydraulic power, its commercial position relative to Canada and the great West of our own dominion, and the healthfulness of its climate, mark out Oswego far a busy and populous city. These advantages of locality were early perceived by the English, and were probably not entirely overlooked by the French. But military occupation, far the purpose of spreading wide the overshadowing wings of empire, through the two-fold influences of religion and traffic, seemed to be the chief design of the French in planting small colonies at commanding points.
As early as July, 1696, Frontenac, governor of Canada, fitted out an expedition to attack the Five Nations in New York,(1) and Oswego was made his place of rendezvous. There he built a small stockade fort on the west side of the river, and then proceeded with fifty men into the interior as far as the Onondaga Valley. The Indians fled before him, but upon the share of Onondaga Lake, near the present Salina, they left their emblem of defiance-two bundles of rushes suspended from a branch. The governor returned to Oswego, and sailed for Fort Frontenac, without accomplishing any good for himself or harm to the Indians, except burning their dwellings when they fled from them. Three years previously, Frontenac, by another route, fell upon the Indians on the Mohawk, near Schenectady, slew many, and took about three hundred prisoners.
These expeditions seemed to be a part of the grand scheme of the French to confine the English, now pushing into the wilderness in all directions, to the Atlantic sea-board; but their forts on the lakes and upon the Ohio, and their extensive alliances with Indian tribes, could not repress the spirit of adventure and love of gain which marked their southern neighbors. The great confederacy of the FIVE NATIONS of New York remained for a long time the fast friends and allies of the English, none but the Caughnawagas, as the French Jesuits termed their converts of the confederacy, lifting the hatchet against them. Protected by these friendly savages, trading posts were founded, and these in turn became military establishments. In 1722, Governor Burnet, of New York (son of the celebrated English bishop of that name), established a trading house at Oswego. His object seemed to be political rather than commercial, for he desired to gain a foothold there, and thus, in a measure, command Lake Ontario. He had been advised by the Board of Trade, after the treaty of Utrecht in 1713, "to extend with caution the English settlements as far as possible, as there was no probability of obtaining an arrangement of general boundaries." Acting under this advice and the promptings of his own clear judgment, he planted the English standard, far the first time, upon the great lakes, and in spite of the remonstrances of the French and the murmurings of the of the Oneidas and Senecas (who disliked to see fortresses rising in their neighborhood), he built and armed, at his own expense, a small fort at Oswego in 1727. The French, in the mean while, had strangely fortified their trading post at the mouth of the Niagara River, and thus outflanked the English so far as the lake was concerned. Beauharnois, the governor of Canada, ordered Burnet to desist. Burnet defied, the Frenchman threatened, but, after blustering for a while, the latter, as a countervailing measure, took possession of Crown Point and built Fort St. Frederic there. From that time until 1755, the English had undisturbed possession of Burnet's fort, and kept it garrisoned by a lieutenant and twenty-five men.
I am indebted to E. W. Clarke, Esq., of Oswego, for much local information concerning that city and neighborhood. He kindly permitted me to use the manuscript of a lecture delivered by him before a literary society there, and from it I gleaned a description of the trading-house and fort erected by Governor Burnet. It was situated on the west side of the river, directly on the bank of the lake, and forty feet above the water. The bank, composed of rock and hard-pan, was almost perpendicular. The building was of stone, and about ninety feet square. The eastern end was circular. It was provided with port-holes and a
1 The name of the Confederation of the Five Nations was changed to that of Six Nations when it was joined by the Tuscaroras of Carolina in 1714.
deep well. The ascent to it from the south was a flight of stone steps (see engraving), the remains of which have been visible within a few years. The earth embankments of the fort, with its ditch and palisades, were about two hundred feet west of the building, upon higher ground, and traces of these might be seen until the late growth of the city obliterated them. The bluff on which the trading-house and fort rested has been leveled in filling in the basin, for the construction of wharves.
While Braddock was making his fatal march against Fort Duquesne, at the junction of the Ohio and Monongahela, in 1755, Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts, with a force of about one thousand five hundred men, composed of provincials und Indians, was on the march from Albany to Oswego, for the purpose of making attacks simultaneously upon Niagara and Frontenac. His march through the wilderness was perilous and fatiguing, and when he arrived at Oswego in August, his troops were reduced by sickness, and dispirited by the intelligence of Braddock's defeat. But Shirley, who succeeded Braddock in the chief (1755.) command, was not disheartened. He strengthened Oswego by erecting two other forts; one westward of old Fort Oswego, called New Fort, one hundred and seventy feet square, with bastions and a rampart of earth and stones; and another on the opposite side of the basin, four hundred and seventy yards distant from the old fort. The east fortification, called Fort Ontario, was built of logs from twenty to thirty inches in diameter. It was eight hundred feet in circumference, and its outer walls were fourteen feet high. Around it was a ditch fourteen feet wide and ten deep, and within were barracks for three hundred men. It was intended to mount sixteen pieces of cannon. This fort was on a commanding site, the perpendicular bank being higher than that upon the west side.(2)
Shirley built vessels and made other great preparations at Oswego to proceed against Niagara. He constructed and equipped a sloop and schooner of sixty tons each, two row-galleys of twenty tons each, and eight whale-boats, each capable of carrying sixteen men. His views were promptly seconded by the New York Assembly. That body had already voted eight thousand pounds toward the enlistment of two thousand men in Connecticut, and raised four hundred men of their own in addition to their eight hundred then in the field. Shirley was also directed to complete the forts, and prepare for building one or more vessels of a large class, to mount ten six pounders besides swivels, two more row-galleys, and one hundred whale-boats. But heavy rains delayed his embarkation so long, that winter approached, and he abandoned the expedition against Niagara. He left seven hundred men in garrison at Oswego, and returned to Albany, where the remainder of his troops were disbanded. Additional fortifications, to complete the works, were made to the fort on the west side of the river, and stronger outworks were added to Fort Ontario.
1 This view is looking north toward the lake. It is a reduced
copy of the frontispiece to Smith's History or New York, first edition,
London, 1757, and represents the encampment of Shirley there at that time.
2 Smith's History of New York; Clarke's MS.
3 There are but few traces left of old Fort Oswego. The light-house that stood upon the bluff between the old fort and the present Fort Ontario, is removed, and another substantial one is erected upon the left pier, in front of the harbor. The city, on the east, is now fast crowding upon the ravelins of the old Fort.
The remains of the ramparts and ditches of the New Fort are now quite prominent at the junction of Montcalm and Van Buren Streets. The annexed engraving is a view of the appearance of these remains when I (August 1848.) visited them. The view is from Montcalm Street, looking north, toward the lake. The mounds and ditch were covered with a green sward; and decayed stumps of trees, three feet in diameter, were upon the former. The fort had been abandoned about ninety years (for Fort Ontario became the main fortification after 1758), and, therefore, those large trees must have been produced within that time.
Shirley made vigorous preparations at Albany to re-enforce Oswego, the following spring, for the Marquis de Montcalm, all (1756) enterprising an experienced commander, was governor of Canada, and offensive operations on the part of the French were certainly expected. Colonel Bradstreet was appointed commissary general, and, aided by Captain (afterward General) Philip Schuyler, forwarded large quantities of provisions to Oswego. William Alexander, afterward Lord Sterling, of the Revolutionary army, was Shirley's secretary. Early in the spring an army of seven thousand men, under General Winslow, was at Albany, waiting the arrival of the Commander-in-chief, Lord Loudon. His procrastination, which defeated all the plans for the season's campaign, was fatal in this instance. He did not arrive until late in the summer. In the mean while the French, about five thousand in number, under the Marquis de Montcalm, came up the lake from Fort Frontenac, and landed stealthily behind a heavily-wooded cape (now called Four-mile Point), a few miles below Oswego. Montcalm was there nearly two days before the fact was known to the garrison. He had thirty pieces of heavy artillery, and was about commencing a march through the forest, to take Fort Ontario by surprise, when he was discovered by the English. Colonel Mercer, the commandant of the garrison, ordered a brigantine to cruise eastward, and prevent any attempt of the enemy to approach the fort by water. The next day a heavy gale drove the brigantine ashore, and while she was thus disabled, the French transported their cannon, unmolested, to within two miles of the fort. One or two other small vessels were sent out to annoy them, but (August 11.) the heavy guns of the French drove them back to the harbor. The enemy pressed steadily forward through the woods, and toward noon of the same day invested the fort with thirty-two pieces of cannon, ranging from twelve to eighteen pounders, several large brass pounders and hoyets, and about five thousand men, one half of whom were Canadians and (July 9, 1755.) Indians. Some of this artillery was taken from the English when Braddock was defeated. The garrison, under Colonel Mercer, numbered only one thousand four hundred, and a large portion of these were withdrawn to the fort on the west side of the river, to strengthen it, and to place the river between Mercer's main body and the enemy. The French began the assault with small arms, which were answered by the guns of Fort Ontario, and bombs from the small fort on the other side of the basin. Finding an open assault dangerous, Montcalm commenced approaching by parallels during the night, and the next (August 12.) day he began another brisk fire with small arms. On the day following he opened a battery of cannons within sixty yards of the fort. As soon as Colonel Mercer perceived this, he sent word to the garrison, consisting of three hundred and seventy men, to destroy their cannon, ammunition, and provisions, and retreat to. the west side. This they effected without the loss of a man. During the night of the 13th the enemy were employed, in the face of a destructive cannonade, in erecting a heavy battery to play upon the fort. On the morning of the 14th they had finished their battery of twelve heavy guns, and under its cover two thousand five hundred Canadians and Indians crossed the river in three divisions. Colonel Mercer was killed during this movement, and the command devolved upon Colonel Littlehales.
The enemy had a mortar battery in readiness by ten o'clock, and their forces were so disposed that all the works of defense were completely enfiladed. At the same time, the regulars, under the immediate command of Montcalm, were preparing to cross to the attack. Colonel Littlehales called a council of war, and, it being agreed that a defense was no longer practicable, a chamade, or parley, was beaten by the drums of the fort, and the firing ceased on both sides. Two officers were sent to the French general to inquire upon what terms he would accept a surrender. He sent back a polite and generous answer, remarking, at the same, time that the English were an enemy to be esteemed, and that none but a brave nation would have thought of defending so weak a place so long.(1) The fort, the whole garrison, one hundred and twenty cannons, fourteen mortars, a large quantity of ammunition and stores, and quite a respectable fleet in the harbor, were the spoils of victory. The forts were dismantled, the prisoners were placed on transports for Frontenac, and, without leaving a garrison behind, the whole military armament went down the lake, and left Oswego solitary and desolate.
The destruction of the forts was a stroke of policy on the part of Montcalm. They had been a continual eyesore to the Six Nations, for they had reason to suspect that, if the English became strong enough, their fortifications would be used as instruments to enslave the tribes. This act of Montcalm was highly approved by the Indians, and caused them to assume a position of neutrality toward the belligerent Europeans. This was what Montcalm desired, and he gained far more power by destroying the forts than he would by garrisoning them. French emissaries were sent among the Indians, and by their blandishments, and in consequence of their successes, they seduced four of the tribes wholly from the British interest. These were the Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas.
The following year English troops again took possession of Fort Ontario, and (1757.) partially restored it to its former strength, and in 1759 it was rebuilt on a larger scale. They also erected a small stockade fort near the Oswego Falls, and built Fort Stanwix, on the Mohawk. Thus, in a military point of view, Oswego remained until our (1758.) war for independence broke out.(2)
This post was rather too remote for active operations, during the first years of the war, to attract the serious attention of either party, and the fort was garrisoned by only a few men until the summer of 1777, when St. Leger, with seven hundred Rangers, detached from the army of Burgoyne at St. John's, on the Sorel, made this his place of rendezvous preparatory to his incursion into the Valley of the Mohawk. Here he was joined by Sir John Johnson and Colonel Daniel Claus, with nearly seven hundred Indians, under Brant, and four hundred regular troops. Here a war feast was given, and, certain of success, the party, in high spirits, departed to invest Fort Stanwix. A different scene was exhibited a few weeks later at Oswego. St. Leger, foiled, and his troops utterly routed, came hastening back in all the terror and confusion of a retreat, the victors in hot pursuit. His Indian allies, greatly alarmed, were scattered over the vast forests, and a mere remnant of his army,
1 His note to Colonel Littlehales was as follows: "The
Marquis of Montcalm; army and field marshal, commander-in-chief of his most
Christian majesty's troops, is ready to receive a capitulation upon the
most honorable conditions, surrendering to him all the forts. They shall
he shown all the regard the politest nation can show. I send an aid-de-camp
on my part, viz., Mons. de Bougainville, captain of dragoons; they need
only send the capitulation to he signed. I require an answer by noon. I
have kept Mr. Drake for a hostage. " MONTCALM.
"August 14, 1756."
2 Mrs. Grant, of Edinburgh, Scotland, in her "Memoirs of an American Lady," gives a charming picture of the scenery about Oswego in 1761-2. She was then a child, and resided there with her father; and her book presents all the vividness of a child's impressions. She noted, in particular, a feature in the forest scenery which now delights the sojourner upon the southern shores of Lake Ontario-the sudden bursting forth of leaves and flowers in the spring. Major Duncan, who was in command of the fort at that time, was a gentleman of taste, and, in addition to a large and well-cultivated garden, he had a howling green and other pleasure grounds. These were the delight of the author of the" Memoirs," whose pleasing pictures may he found in chapters xliv. to xlvii. inclusive.
without arms, half naked, and nearly starved, followed him to Fort Ontario, whence he fled to Montreal. The details of the siege of Fort Stanwix will be given hereafter.
There was no engagement at Oswego during the Revolution. Just at the close of the war, Washington conceived the design of securing Fort Ontario, and sent an expedition thither under the command of Colonel Marinus Willett, who had been an efficient officer in the Mohawk Valley from the time of the siege of Fort Stanwix. Preliminary articles of peace had been signed in November previous, but as the terms were not definitely agreed upon, it was the policy of the commander-in-chief to be prepared for the reopening of hostilities, and, therefore, until the settlement was finally made, in September, 1783, by the signing of the definitive treaty, his vigilance was unrelaxed. This enterprise was undertaken in mid-winter. Willett assembled his troops at Fort Herkimer, on the German Flats, and on the 9th of February crossed the Oneida Lake on the ice, and reached Oswego Falls (1783.) the next morning. Not being strong enough in numbers to attempt a sIege or an open assault, he there prepared scaling-ladders, and determined to surprise the garrison that night. A deep snow lay upon the ground, and the weather was so intensely cold that one of the soldiers was frozen to death. A young Oneida Indian acted as guide, but the snow and the darkness caused him to lose his way. At daylight they found themselves in sight of the fort, and soon afterward they discovered three wood-choppers near. Two of them were captured, but the third escaped to the fort and gave the alarm. Willett and his party immediately retreated, and thus ended the expedition. (1) In 1796 this post, with all others upon the frontier, was given up by the English to the United States. A prize, in the shape of public stores deposited at the Oswego Falls. attracted the attention of the British in 1814, and a fleet, bearing three thousand men, appeared before the town on the fifth of May. Fort Oswego, (called Ontario when repaired subsequent to the War,) on the East side of the harbor, was quite dilapidated, and the little garrison had small means of defense. They had only six cannons, and three of these had lost their trunnions. As soon as the sail of the enemy appeared, information was sent to Captain Woolsey, of the navy, then at the village on the west side of the river, and to the neighboring militia. Four large ships, three brigs, and a number of gun and other boats (1814.) appeared, about seven miles distant, at dawn on the morning of the fifth of May.
The Americans prepared a battery on the shore, and gave the enemy such a warm reception, while approaching in boats to land, that they returned to their ships. Early on the morning of the 6th the fleet came within cannon-shot of the works, and for three hours kept up a discharge of grape and heavy balls against the fort and batteries.(3) The troops finally effected a landing, and the little band of Americans, not exceeding three hundred in number, after maintaining their ground as long as possible, withdrew into the rear of the fort, and halted within four hundred yards of it. After fighting about half an hour, they marched
1 Clarke's MS.
2 This view is from the west side of the river, near the site of the present United States Hotel.
3 I visited Fort Ontario, which is now a strong and admirably appointed fortification. A small garrison is usually stationed there, but at the time of my visit the fort was vacated by troops and left in charge of a sergeant (Mr. Brown), whose courtesy made our little party feel as much at home amid the equipments of war as if we were veritable soldiers and our ladies attache. of the camp. He gave me a four-pound cannon-ball, which was fired into the fort from the British ship Wolfe, the only ship engaged in the action, on the morning of the Sixth of May, 1814. It bears the rude anchor mark of British ordnance shot, and was labeled by the sergeant, "A present from John Bull to Uncle Sam."
toward the falls, to defend the stores, destroying the bridges in their rear. The British burned the barracks, and, after spiking some of the guns, evacuated the fort, and retired to their ships at three o'clock on the morning of the 7th. The loss of the Americans was six killed, thirty-eight wounded, and twenty-five missing. The enemy lost, in killed, wounded, drowned, and missing, two hundred and thirty-five.(1) They returned on the 9th, and sent a flag into the village, to inform the people of their intention to land a large force and capture the stores; but, being informed that the bridges were destroyed and the stores removed, the fleet weighed anchor and returned to Kingston.
Scarcely a feature of old Oswego is left. The little hamlet of the Revolution and the tiny village of 1814 have grown into a flourishing city. Heavy stone piers, built by the United States government, guard the harbor from storms, and a strong fortification protects it from enemies. Lake commerce enlivens the mart, and a canal and rail-road daily pour their freights of goods and travel into its lap.
While in Oswego I visited the venerable Major Cochran and his excellent lady, the daughter of General Philip Schuyler. Major Cochran was then nearly eighty years old, and feeble in bodily health, but his mind was active and vigorous. His father was Dr. John Cochran,(2) the surgeon general of the Middle Department of the Revolutionary army; and himself was a member of Congress during the administration of the elder Adams.(4) His family relationship and position made him acquainted with all the general officers of the Revolution, and his reminiscences afforded mc much pleasure and instruction during my brief visit. He has since gone down into the grave, and thus the men of that generation, like the sands of an hour-glass, fall into their resting
1 Letter of Commodore Chauney to the Secretary of the Navy.
2 Dr. Cochran was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1730. His father came from the north of Ireland. He studied medicine at Lancaster, and served as surgeon's mate in the hospital department during the French and Indian war. At the close of that contest he settled in Albany, and married Gertrude, the only sister of General Schuyler. He entered the Revolutionary army, and in the spring of 1777 Washington appointed him surgeon general of the Middle Department, and in October, 1781, director general of the hospitals of the United States. He removed to New York after the peace, and his eminent services were not forgotten by Washington, who nominated him commissioner of loans for that state. He died at Palatine, Montgomery county, April 6th, 1807, aged 76.
3 This view is from the top of the United States Hotel, looking east-northeast. It was hastily sketched during the approach of a thunder-storm, and the "huge herald drops" came down just as I traced the distant water-line of the lake. The objects by the figure in the foreground are the balustrade and chimney of the hotel, now (1848) a summer boarding-house for strangers. The first height beyond the water on the right is the point on which stands Fort Oswego. The land in the far distance, on the same side, is Four-mile Point, behind which Mont calm landed his forces. On the left is seen the light-house upon one of the stone piers, and beyond it spread out the waters of Lake Ontario.
4 Circumstances connected with his election are rather amusing. A vessel was to be launched upon (I think) Seneca Lake, at Geneva, and, it being an unusual event, people came from afar to see it. The young folks gathered there, determined to have a dance at night. A fiddle was procured, but a fiddler was wanting. Young Cochran was an amateur performer, and his services were demanded on the occasion. He gratified the joyous company, and at the supper-table one of the gentlemen remarked, in commendation of his talents, that he was "fit for Congress." The hint was favorably received by the company, the mattel was "talked up," and he was nominated and elected a representative in Congress for the district then comprising the whole state of New York west of Schenectady. He always claimed to have fiddled himself into Congress.
place. His lady, many years his junior, was the youngest and favorite daughter of General Schuyler. She was his traveling companion during his old age, and constantly enjoyed the advantages of the refined society by which he was surrounded. When her mother departed from earth, she was his companion and solace, and was at his bedside, to minister to his wants, in the hour of death.(1) Although the stirring scenes of the Revolution were passed before the years of her infancy were numbered, her intercourse with the great and honorable of that generation, during her youth and early womanhood, brought facts and circumstances to her vigorous mind so forcibly, that their impressions are as vivid and truthful as if made by actual observation. She related many interesting circumstances in the life of her father, and among them that of an attempted abduction of his person in 1781.
At the time in question, General Schuyler was residing in the suburbs of Albany, having left the army and engaged in the civil service of his country. Notwithstanding his comparatively obscure position, his aid and counsel were constantly sought, in both military and civil transactions, and he was considered by the enemy one of the prominent obstacles in the way of their success. He was then charged by Washington with the duty of intercepting all communications between General Haldimand in Canada and Clinton in New York. For some time the Tories in the neighborhood of Albany had been employed in capturing prominent citizens and carrying them off to Canada, for the purpose of exchange. Such an attempt was made upon Colonel Gansevoort, and now a bold project was conceived to carry off General Schuyler. John Waltermeyer, a bold partisan and colleague of the notorious Joe Bettys, was employed for the purpose. Accompanied by a gang of Tories, Canadians, and Indians, he repaired to the neighborhood of Albany, but, uncertain how well General Schuyler might be guarded, he lurked among the pine shrubbery in the vicinity eight or ten days. He seized a Dutch laborer, and learned from him the exact position of affairs at Schuyler's house, after which he extorted an oath of secrecy from the man and let him go. The Dutchman seems to have made a mental reservation, for he immediately gave information of the fact to General Schuyler. A Loyalist, who was the general's personal friend, and cognizant of Waltermeyer's design, also warned him. In consequence of the recent abductions, the general kept a guard of six men constantly on duty, three by day and three by night, and after these warnings they and his family were on the alert.
(August, 1781.) At the close of a sultry day, the general and his family were sitting in the front hall. The servants were dispersed about the premises. The three guards relieved for the night were asleep in the basement room, and the three on duty, oppressed by the heat, were lying upon the cool grass in the garden. A servant announced to the general that a stranger desired to speak to him at the back gate. The stranger's errand was at once comprehended. The doors of the house were immediately shut and close barred. The family were hastily collected in an upper room, and the general ran to his bed-chamber for his arms. From the window he saw the house surrounded by armed men. For the purpose of arousing the sentinels upon the grass, and perchance to alarm the town, he fired a pistol from the window. The assailants burst open the doors, and at that moment Mrs. Schuyler perceived that, in the confusion and alarm of the retreat from the hall, her infant child, a few months old, had been left in the cradle in the nursery below. Parental love subdued all fear, and she was flying to the rescue of her child, when the general interposed and prevented her, But her third daughter (2) instantly rushed down the two flights of stairs, snatched the still sleeping infant from the cradle, and bore it off safely. One of the miscreants hurled a sharp tomahawk at her as she left the room, but it effected no other harm than a slight injury to her dress, within a few inches of the infant's head. As she ascended a private stair-case she met Waltermeyer, who, supposing her to be a servant, exclaimed, "Wench, wench, where
1 Grief for the loss of his wife, and the melancholy circumstances
connected with the death of his son-in-law, General Alexander Hamilton,
weighed heavily upon his spirits. His death was hastened by exposure and
fatigue while accompanying two French dukes over the battle-ground of Saratoga.
He was taken ill there, and never recovered.
2 Margaret, afterward the first wife of the late venerated General Van Rensselaer (the patroon) of Albany.
is your master?" With great presence of mind, she replied, "Gone to alarm the town." The Tory's followers were then in the dining-room, plundering it of the plate and other valuables, and he called them together for consultation. At that moment the general threw up a window, and, as if speaking to numbers, called out, in a loud voice, "Come on, my brave fellows, surround the house and secure the villains, who are plundering." The assailants made a precipitate retreat, carrying with them the three guards that were in the house, and a large quantity of silver plate. They made their way to Ballstown by daybreak, where they took General Gordon a prisoner from his bed, and with their booty returned to Canada,(1) The bursting open of the doors of General Schuyler's house, aroused the sleeping guards in the cellar, who rushed up to the back hall, where they had left their arms, but they were gone. Mrs. Church(2) another daughter of General Schuyler, who was there at the time, without the slightest suspicion that they might be wanted, caused the arms to be removed a short time before the attack, on account of apprehended injury to her little son, whom she found playing with them. The guards had no other weapon but their brawny fists, and these they used manfully until overpowered. They were taken to Canada, and when they were exchanged, the general gave them each a farm, in Saratoga county. Their names were John Tubbs, John Corlies, and John Ward.
Mrs. Cochran was the infant rescued by her intrepid sister. The incident is one of deep interest, and shows the state of constant alarm and danger in which the people lived at that day, particularly those whose position made them conspicuous. Mrs. Cochran kindly complied with my solicitation for a likeness of herself to accompany the narrative here given.
1 Major Cochran related to me an incident connected with
the booty in question. Among the plundered articles was a silver soup tureen.
He was at Washington city at the time of the inauguration of Harrison, in
1841, and while in the rotunda of the Capitol, viewing Trumbull's picture
of the surrender of Burgoyne, a stranger at his elbow inquired, "Who
is that fine-looking man in the group, in citizen's dress?" "General
Schuyler," replied Major Cochran. "General Schuyler!" repeated
the stranger. "Why, I ate soup not long since, at Belleville, in Canada,
from a tureen that was carried off from his house by some Tories in the
Revolution." This was the first and only trace the family ever had
of the plundered articles.
2 She was the wife of John B. Church, Esq., an English gentleman, who was a contractor for the French army in America under Rochambeau. He returned to England, and was afterward a member of Parliament.
It was my intention to go directly from Oswego to Rome, by the plank road that traverses the old war-paths of the last century between those points, for the region westward is quite barren of incident connected with the Revolution. Old Fort Niagara, at the mouth of the Niagara River, was /I; place of rendezvous for Tories and Indians while preparing for marauding excursions on the borders of civilization in New York, or when they returned with prisoners and scalps. Beyond this it offered no attractions, for hardly a remnant of its former material is left. But having been joined at Oswego by another member of my family, who, with my traveling companion, was anxious to see the great cataract, and desirous myself to look again upon that wonder of the New World, I changed my course, and on a (August 17 1848.) stormy morning, with a strong north wind awakening the billows of Ontario, we left Oswego for Lewiston in the steamer Cataract, commanded by the same excellent Van Cleve whose vessel got a little entangled, ten years before, in the affair at Wind-mill Point, near Ogdensburgh. The lake was very rough, and nearly all on board turned their thoughts inwardly, conversing but little until we entered the Genesee River in the afternoon. Many lost the breakfast they had paid for, and others, by commendable abstinence and economy, saved the price of dinner by shunning it altogether.
The scenery upon the tortuous course of the Genesee is very picturesque. The stream is deep and narrow, and its precipitous shores are heavily wooded. The voyage terminated three fourths of a mile below the Lower Falls of the Genesee, and five miles from Ontario. Here is the port of Rochester. The city lies upon the plains at the Upper Falls, two miles distant. Our boat remained there until toward evening, and, the rain having abated, I strolled up the winding carriage-way as far as the Lower Falls. This road is cut in the precipitous bank of the river, presenting overhanging cliffs, high and rugged, on one side, and on the other steep precipices going down more than a hundred feet below to the sluggish bed of the stream. Every thing about the falls is broken and confused. The stream, the rocks, the hills, and trees are all commingled in chaotic grandeur, varying in lineament at each step, and defying every attempt to detect a feature of regularity. There sandstone may be seen in every stage of formation, from the loose soil to shale, and slate-like lamina, and the solid stratified rock. The painter and the geologist are well rewarded for a visit to the Lower Falls of the Genesee.
We descended the river toward evening. Heavy clouds were rolling over the lake; and the white caps that sparkled upon its bosom, and the spray that dashed furiously over the unfinished stone pier at the mouth of the river, betokened a night of tempest and gloom. The wind had increased almost to a gale upon the lake while we had been quietly lying in the sheltering arms of the Genesee. Premonitions of sea-sickness alarmed my prudence, and by its wise direction I slipped into my berth before eight o'clock, and slept soundly until aroused by the porter's bell, a little before daybreak, at Lewiston Landing. The rain continued, though falling gently. We groped our way up the slippery road to the cars, and, shivering in the damp air, took seats for Niagara, fully resolved to give the bland invitation of the" lake route" a contemptuous refusal on our return eastward. It may be very pleas. ant on a calm day or a moonlight night, but our experience made us all averse to the aquatic journey.
We passed from Ontario into the Niagara River, seven miles below Lewiston, while slum. bering, and, consequently, I have nothing to say of Fort Niagara from personal observation. We will turn to veritable history for the record, and borrow the outlines of an illustration from another pencil.
In 1679, during the administration of Frontenac, a French officer named De Salle inclosed a small spot in palisades at the mouth of the Niagara River, and in 1725, two years before Governor Burnet built his fort at Oswego, a strong fortification was erected there. It was captured by the British, under Sir William Johnson, in 1759. The forces, chiefly provincials, that were sent against the fort were commanded by General Prideaux, who sailed (July 7, 1757.) from Oswego, and landed near the mouth of the river in July. He at once opened his batteries upon the fortress, but was soon killed by the bursting of a gun. The
command then devolved upon Johnson. An army of French regulars, twelve hundred strong, drawn chiefly from western posts, and accompanied by an equal number of Indians, marching to the relief of the garrison, were totally routed by Johnson, and a large part of them made prisoners. The siege had then continued more than a fortnight, and the beleaguered garrison, despairing of succor, surrendered the next day. In (July 23, 1759.) addition to the ammunition and stores that fell into their hands, the strong fort itself was an important acquisition for the English. Within its dungeons were found instruments for executions or murders and the ears of the English received many horrid tales from the captive Indians of atrocities committed there during French rule.
It is said that the mess-house, a strong building still standing within the fort, was built by the French by stratagem. The Indians were opposed to the erection of any thing that appeared like a fortress. The French troops were kindly received by the savages, and obtained their consent to build a wigwam. They then induced the Indians to engage in an extensive hunt with some French officers, and when they returned the walls were so far advanced that they might defy the savages if they should attack them. It grew into a large fort, with bastions and ravelins, ditches and pickets, curtains and counter-scarp, covered way, draw-bridge, raking batteries, stone towers, bakery, blacksmith shop, mess-house, barracks, laboratory, magazine, and a chapel with a dial over its door to mark the progress of the hours. It covered about eight acres. A few rods from the barrier-gate was a burial-ground, over the portal of which was painted, in large letters, REST. The dungeon of the mess-house, called the black-hole, was a strong, dark, and dismal place, and in one corner of the room was fixed an apparatus for strangling those whom the despotic officers chose to kill. The walls were profusely in scribed with French names and mementoes in that language, and the letters and emblems were many of them so well executed as to prove that some of the victims were not of common stamp. When, in June, 1812, an attack upon the fort by the English was momentarily expected, a merchant, residing near the fort, deposited some valuable articles in the dungeon. He went there one night with a light, and discovered his own family name upon the walls. Like other ruins, it has its local legends. The headless trunk of a French officer has been seen sitting on the margin of the well in the dungeon; and large sums of money have been buried there, and their localities pointed out by fingers visible only to money diggers.(2)
During the American Revolution "it was the headquarters," says De Veaux, "of all that was barbarous, unrelenting, and cruel. There were congregated the leaders and chiefs of those bands of murderers and miscreants who carried death and destruction into the remote American settlements. There civilized Europe reveled with savage America, and ladies of education and refinement mingled in the society of those whose only distinction was to wield the bloody tomahawk and the scalping-knife. There the squaws of the forests were raised to eminence, and the most unholy unions between them and officers of the highest Tank smiled upon and countenanced. There, in their strong-hold, like a nest of vultures, securely, for seven years, they sallied forth and preyed upon the distant settlements of the Mohawk and
1 This is copied from one published in Barber and Howe's
"Historical Collections of New York." They copied it from an engraving
published during the war of 1812. It gives the appearance of the locality
at that time. The view is from \he west side of the Niagara River, near
the lighthouse. The fort is on the ea.,t side (the right of the picture),
at the mouth of the river. The steam-boat seen in the distance is out on
2 See De Veaux's Niagara Falls.
Susquehanna Valleys. It was the depot of their plunder: there they planned their forays, and there they returned to feast, until the time of action came again."
The shores of Niagara River, from Erie to Ontario, abound in historic associations connected with the military operations on that frontier durmg the war of 1812. The battles of Chippewa, Lundy's Lane, Queenston, and Fort Erie occurred in this vicinity; but these events are so irrelevant to our subject, that we must give them but brief incidental notice as we happen to pass by their localities.
Fort Niagara was feebly garrisoned by the Americans, and on 19th of December, 1813, a British force of twelve hundred men crossed the river and took it by surprise. The garrison consisted of three hundred and seventy men. The commanding officer was absent, the gates were open and unguarded, and the fortress, strong as it was, became an easy prey to the enemy. Sixty-five of the garrison were killed, and twenty-seven pieces of ordnance and a large quantity of military stores were the spoils of victory for the British.
It was broad daylight when our train moved from Lewiston, and across the Niagara, on the Canada shore, the heights of Queenston, surmounted by Brock's monument, were in full view. The battle that renders this towering slope so famous occurred on the 13th of October, 1812. The Americans were commanded by the late General Stephen Van Rensselaer, the British by General Sir Isaac Brock. The former were about twenty-five hundred strong; the latter numbered about the same, besides a horde of Chippewa Indians. The British were strongly posted upon the heights. At four o'clock on the morning of the 13th about l812. six hundred Americans, under Colonel Solomon Van Rensselaer and Lieutenant-colonel Christie, crossed over in boats to dislodge the enemy. The passage was made in the face of a destructive fire, and the brave Americans rushed impetuously up the acclivity and attacked the first battery, captured it, and soon stood victorious upon the height from which they had driven the enemy. General Brock endeavored, in person, to rally his scattered troops, and was fatally wounded while leading them to the charge.(1) Dismayed when they saw their leader fall, they fled in great confusion. At this time Colonel Scott,(2) with a reenforcement of six hundred men, regulars and volunteers, crossed over; and the enemy was also reenforced by troops from Fort George, and five hundred Chippewa Indians. The strife was fierce for a long time. The British, re-enforced, far outnumbered the Americans, and the militia remaining at Lewiston could not be induced to cross over to support their friends in the combat. Overwhelming numbers closed in upon the Americans, and, after fighting eleven hours, they were obliged to surrender. The American loss was about ninety killed and nine hundred wounded, missing, and prisoners. The behavior of many of our militia on this occasion was extremely disgraceful. Taking advantage of the darkness when they crossed in the morning, they hid themselves in the clefts of the rocks and clumps of bushes near the shore, where they remained while the fighting ones were periling life upon the heights above. The cowards were dragged out from their hiding-places by the legs, by the British soldiers, after the surrender.
The rail-road cars from Lewiston to the Falls ascend in their course an inclined plane that winds up what is evidently the ancient southern shore of Lake Ontario. Deposits of pebbles at the foot of the ridge, and many other facts connected with this physical featuring of the country from Niagara to Oswego, prove conclusively, to the mind of the close observer, that this was the shore of Ontario before the great convulsion took place which formed the
1 General Brock was lieutenant governor of Upper Canada.
The Legislature of that province caused a monument to be erected to his
memory, on the heights near the spot where he fell. It is in a position
so elevated, that it may be seen at different points nearly fifty miles
distant. The monument is constructed of freestone. The base, which covers
the vault wherein lie the remains of General Brock and his aid, Lieutenant-colonel
John M'Donald (who was killed in the same action), is twenty feet square.
The shaft rises one hundred and twenty-six feet from the ground. A miscreant
named Lett attempted to destroy it by gunpowder on the night of the 17th
of April, 1840. The keystone over the door was thrown out, and the shaft
was cracked nearly two thirds of its height.
2 Now Major-general Scott, of the United States army, commanded a company in the action. The present General Wool was a captain, and commanded a company in the action.
Falls of Niagara. We leave what questions upon this point remain open, to be settled by wiser minds, and hasten on to the Falls. We caught a few glimpses of the green waters from the windows of the car, and in a few minutes were in the midst of the tumult of porters at the village, more clamorous for our ears than the dull roar of the cataract near by. The fasting upon the lake and the early morning ride had given us a glorious appetite for breakfast, and as soon as it was appeased we sallied out, guide-book in hand, to see the celebrities. These have been described a thousand times. Poets, painters, travelers, historians, philosophers, and penny-a-liners have vied with each other in magnifying this wonder, and as I can not (if I would) "add one cubit to its stature" for the credulous, a thought concerning its sublimity and beauty for the romantic, a hue to the high coloring of others for the sentimental, or a new fact or theory for the philosophical, I shall pass among the lions in almost perfect silence, and speedily leave the excitements of this fashionable resort for the more quiet grandeur and beauty of the Mohawk Valley, once the" dark and bloody ground," but now a paradise of fertility, repose, and peace.
We crossed the whirling rapids and made the circuit of Goat Island. In
this route all the remarkable points of the great cataract are brought to
view. From the Hog's Back, at the lower end of the island, there is a fine
prospect of the river below, and the distant Canada shore beyond. The almost
invisible Suspension Bridge, like a thread in air, was seen two miles distant;
and beneath us, through the mist of the American Fall, glorious with rainbow
hues, the little steam-boat, the" Maid of the Mist," came breasting
the powerful current. We looked down from our lofty eyrie (literally, in
the clouds), through the mist veil, upon her deck, and her passengers appeared
like Lilliputians in a tiny skiff: From the southern side of the island
we had a noble view of the Horse-shoe Fall, over which pours the greater
portion of the Niagara River. The water is estimated to be twenty feet deep
upon the crown of the cataract. Biddle's Tower is a fine observatory, overlooking,
on one side, the boiling abyss below the fall, and standing apparently in
the midst of the rushing waters as they hurry down the rapids above. We
spent two hours upon the verge of the floods, in the shadows of the lofty
trees that cover the island, but these scenes were tame compared with what
we beheld from the" Maid of the Mist" toward noon. We rode nearly
to the Suspension Bridge, and, walking down a winding road cleft in the
rocks, reached the brink of the river at the head of the great rapids above
the whirlpool. There we embarked on the little steam-boat, and moved up
the river to the cataract. As we approached the American Fall, all retreated
into the cabins, and, the windows being closed, we were soon enveloped in
spray. It was a sight indescribably grand. As we looked up, the waters seemed
to be pouring from the clouds. A feeling of awe, allied to that of worship,
pervaded us, and all were silent until the avalanche of waters was passed.
The beautiful lines of Brainerd came vividly up from the shrine of memory,
and aided my thoughts in seeking appropriate language:
" It would seem
As if God poured thee from his' hollow hand,'
And hung his how upon thine awful front,
And spoke in that loud voice which seemed to him
Who dwelt in Patmos for his Savior's sake,
'The sound of many waters,' and had bade
The flood to chronicle the ages back,
And notch his cent'ries in the eternal rocks.
Deep calleth unto deep. And what are we
That hear the question of that voice sublime?
Or what are all the notes that ever rung
From war's vain trumpet, by thy thundering side?
Yea, what is all the riot man can make
In his short life to thy unceasing roar?
And yet, bold babbler, what art thou to Him
Who drowned the world, and heaped the waters far
Above its loftiest mountains? a light wave
That breaks and whispers of its Maker's might."
Beautifully has Buckingham expressed the reverential thoughts which fill the mind and part the lips for utterance in that majestic presence:
"Hail! sovereign of the world of floods! whose majesty
First dazzles-then enraptures-then o'erawes the aching sight;
The pomp of kings and emperors in every clime and zone
Grow dim beneath the splendors of thy glorious watery throne.
"No fleets can stop thy progress, no armies bid thee
But onward, onward, onward thy marcb still holds its way;
The rising mist that veils thee, as thine herald, goes before,
And the music that proclaims thee is the thundering cataract's roar.
"Thy reign is of the ancient days, thy scepter from
Thy birth was when the distant stars first lit the gloomy sky;
The sun, the moon, and all the orbs that shine upon thee now,
Beheld the wreath of glory which first bound thy infant brow!"
Our little boat, after sweeping around as near the great Horse-shoe Fall as prudence would allow, touched a moment at the landing on the Canada side, and then returned to her moor. ings. We felt relieved when we stood again on land, for there is some peril in the voyage; yet the wonderful scene yields a full compensation for the risk. It affords an opportunity to exhibit courage more sensibly than the foolish periling of life in clambering over the slippery rocks under the Falls, and sentiment has here some chance for respectable display. The week previous to our visit a young couple, with a parson, took passage in the "Maid of the Mist," and, when enveloped in the spray of the cataract, were united in wedlock. What an altar before which to make nuptial vows! Can they ever forget the solemn promises there made, or be unfaithful to the pledge there sealed?
We visited the whirlpool, and that wonder of art, the Suspension Bridge, before retuming to the village. The former is at tbe elbow of the Niagara River, two and a half miles below the cataract, and should never be left unseen by the visitor at the Falls. The Suspension Bridge spans the river near the head of the rapids above the whirlpool. The present structure is only the scaffolding for constructing the one intended for the passage of a train of railroad cars. Nunerous foot-passengers were upon it, and a coach and horses, with driver and two passengers, crossed it while we were tbere. The light structure bent beneath the weight like thin ice under the skater, yet the passage is considered perfectly safe. I visited it again toward evening, and made the accompanying sketch to illustrate the method of its construction and its relative position to the Falls.(1) To attempt to sketch the Falls truthfully is vain. They have never yet been portrayed
1 The hridge from pier to pier is eight hundred feet long. Its breadtb
is eight feet. The whole bridge is suspended upon eight cables, four on
each side, whicb pass over towers fifty-four feet higb, built of heavy timbers.
The towers for the large bridge will be of solid masonry eighty feet bigh.
Eacb cable is eleven bundred and sixty feet long, and composed of seventy-two
number ten iron wires, around wbich is wrapped small wire tbree times boiled
in linseed oil, which anneals it, and gives it a coat that can not be injured
by exposure to the weather, and preserves the wire from rust. The cahles,
after passing over the piers on the banks, are fast anchored in masonry
fifty feet back of them. The suspenders are composed of eight wires each,
and are placed four and a half feet apart. The bridge is two hundred feet
above the water.
. This view, looking up the river, comprises about one half the bridge, a portion of tbe bank on tbe Canada side on the right, the American shore on the left, and a part of the Falls, seen under the bridge, in the extreme distance.
OI<' THE REVOLUTION.
Departure Irom Ibe Fan..
A Day upon tbe Rail-road.
Early History of tbat Region.
in their grandeur, and never can be. A picture can not convey an idea of
their magnificence to the eye. They must be seen to be known. Art utterly
fails in attempts to transfer their features to canvas, and degrades nature
by its puny efforts. In their motion consists their great sublimity, and
the painter might as well attempt to delineate the whirlwind as to depict
Niagara in its glory.
We left Niagara early on Saturday morning, stopped in Buffalo justlong enough August 19, to go from one rail-way station to another, and reached Syracuse at about eight in 1S4S.
the evening, a distance of two hundred miles. That day's journey seems more like a dream than reality, for hills and valleys, woods and meadows, hamlets and villages, lakes and rivers, the puff of the engine, the rattle of the train, men, women, and children in serried ranks, are all mingled in confhsion in the kaleidescope of memory, and nothing but a map or a Traveler's Guide-book can unravel the tangled skein of localities that was spun out in that rapid journey of fourteen hours. We remember the broad Niagara, the dark Erie with white sails upon its bosom, the stately houses and busy streets of Buffalo, the long ?'eaches of flat, new country, dotted with stumps, from Buffalo to Attica and beyond, the stirring mart of Rochester, the fields, and orchards, and groves of lofty trees that seemed waltzing by us, the beautiful villages of Canandaigua and Geneva, the falls of the Seneca, the long bridge 01 Cayuga, the strong prison and beautiful dwellings of Auburn, and the golden sunset and cool breeze that charmed us as we approached Syracuse. In that flourishing city of the recent wilderness we passed a quiet Sabbath with some friends, and the next morning I journeyed to Rome.
Although a quarter of a century has scarcely passed since Syracuse was a village of mean huts,' it has a history connected with European civilization more than two hundred years old. At Salina, now a portion of the city of Syracuse, .where the principal salt-wells are, the French, under the Sieur Dupuys, an officer of the garrison at Quebec, made a settlement as early as 1655. The Onondaga tribe then had their villages in the valley, a few miles from Syracuse, and a good understanding prevailed between them and the new-comers. The jealousy of the Mohawks was aroused, and they attempted to cut off the colonists while on their way up the St. Lawrence. They, however, reached their destin'1,tion in safety, and upon the borders of the Onondaga Lake they reared dwellings and prepared for a permanent colony. But the uneasiness of the Indian tribes soon manifested itself in hostile preparations, and in the winter of 1658 Dupuys was informed that large parties of Mohawks, Oneidas, and even Onondagas, were arming. Unable to procure assistance in time from Quebec, he succeeded, by stratagem, in constructing some bateaux and escaping with the whole colony secretly down the river to Oswego, and thence to Montreal.
Relying implicitly upon the good faith and promised friendship of the Indians, Dupuys had neglected to preserve his canoes. To construct new ones in view of the Indians would advertise them of his intentions, and bring their hatchets upon the settlement at once. He therefore had small bateaux made in the garret of the Jesuit's house, and kept them concealed when finished. A young Frenchman had been adopted into the family of a chief, and had acquired great influence over the tribe.
1 In 1820 the late William L. Stone visited Syracuse in
company with Mr. Forman, one of the earliest and most industrious friends
of the Erie Canal. "I lodged for the night," says Mr. Stone, "at
a miserable tavern, thronged by a company of salt-boilers from Salina, forming
a group of about as rough-looking specimens of hnmanit.y as I had ever seen.
Their wild visages, beards thick and long, and matted hair even now rise
up in dark, distant, and picturesque effect before me. I passed a restless
night, disturbed by strange fancies, as I yet well remember. It was in October,
and a flurry of snow during the night had rendered the morning aspect of
the country more dreary than the evening hefore. The few houses I have already
deseribed, standing upon low and almost marshy ground, and surrounded by
trees and entangled thickets, presented a very uninvitiug scene. 'Mr. Forman,'
said I, 'do you call this a village? It would make an owl weep to fly over
it.' 'Never' mind,' said he, in reply, 'you will live to see it a city yet.'
" Mr. Stone did, indeed, live to see it a city in size, when he wrote
the above in 1840, and it is now a city in fact, with mayor and aldermen,
noble stores and dwellings, and a population of some 14,000.
Judge Forman was one of the projectors of the Erie Canal, and the founder of Syracuse. He died at Rutherfordton, North Carolina, on the 4th of August, 1849, aged 72 years.
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