History From America's Most Famous Valleys h
The Orderly Book of Sir John Johnson
During the Oriskany Campaign
Annotated by Wm. L. Stone
With an Historical Introduction illustrating the Life of Johnson by J. Watts De Peyster, and Some Tracings from the Foot-Prints of the Tories, or Loyalists in America by T. R. Myers.
Joel Munsell, 1882
"Our knowledge of the future [1861-5],
can only be a copy of the past [1775-83]."
TH. RIBOT'S "Diseases of Memory"
Caesar.-"You must obey what all obey, the rule
Of fix'd necessity : against her edict
Rebellion prospers not."
Arnold.- "And when it prospers-"
Caesar.-" Tis no rebellion."
* * * *
Philbert.- '" How now, fellow !
Thou waxest insolent, beyond the privilege
Of a buffoon."
Caesar.-" You mean, I speak the truth.
I'll lie-it is as easy; then you'll praise me
For calling you a hero."
BYRON'S "Deformed Transformed" Act I., Scene II.
Posselt, in his " History of Gustavus III., of Sweden,"
after mentioning that he has had a number of manuscripts communicated to him
by a high and competent authority, says, "the author, although he fully
agrees in opinion with the writer (of these manuscripts), will not communicate
them to the public, because the world will neither hear nor believe the simple
truths but wishes to be deceived,''1
SCHLOSSER, "History of the XIX. Century," IV., 342.
"A wonderful and horrible" thing is committed in the land ; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means ; and my people love to have it so : and what will ye do in the end thereof." JEREMIAH V., 30, 31.
There was a greater and a finer display of Loyalty to the Government, that is, to the Union and to the Flag, in 1861, ten times over, than of patriotism or whatever it may be said to represent, to the cause of Liberty and Independence, that is to the Confederated Colonies, in 1775-6. In 1861 there was a universal popular fervor at the North, totally disinterested-an uprising of the people.* In 1775-6, as a national feeling, it was exactly the reverse. There were more native Americans in the course of the war in the British service than Washington ever had together, regulars and irregulars, under the highest pressure of voluntary and compulsory service.
Lorenzo Sabine demonstrates this, and the following letter is too pertinent and corroborative to be omitted. It is from the pen of a very able Federal general, and one of the most reflecting men of this generation, who is likewise a collateral relation of one of the most prominent Continental generals. In it the writer says :
"The more I read and understand the American Revolution, the more I wonder at our success. I doubt if there were more than two States decidedly Whig-Massachusetts and Virginia. Massachusetts (morally) overlapped New Hampshire- and the northern part of Rhode Island-and dragged them after her. [These seemed to realize the dependence, of the Second Jager in Schiller's "Wallenstein's Lager," or camp-
''Freedom must ever with might entwine,
I live and will die by "Wallenstein."]
The Massachusetts people were Aryan (by race), with a strong injection of Jewish (instincts). The population of Southern Rhode Island and Connecticut were divided-more loyal than
* There was more patriotism shown at the North, among all classes and conditions of men, daring the first two years of the " Slaveholders' Rebellion" than has ever been exhibited, spontaneously, by any people in the world-far more than during the American Revolution. The Loyalists of 1861-2 took up arms for their colors and country and for conscience-for principle ; so did the Loyalists of 1775-6.
Rebel. New York was Tory. New Jersey-eastern part followed New York, western part Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania was Tory, Maryland was divided; North Carolina partly followed her, partly South Carolina. South Carolina had many Tories. Georgia followed South Carolina. Two parties constituted the strength of the Whigs-the Democratic Communists of Massachusetts and wherever their organization extended and the (Provincial) aristocracy of Virginia, which was loyal to the King but would not bend to the aristocratic Parliament.
The Scotch (Protestant not Papist) Irish in New York, Pennsylvania and North Carolina were Rebels to the backbone. The Dutch families in New York [not in authority], the Huguenots in South Carolina, likewise. The Church party, the Germans, the Catholic Irish and the Quakers were Loyalists. The Dissenters everywhere were Rebels."
Without the active assistance of France and Spain, and the silent influence of other powers, jealous or envious or inimical to Great Britain, the achievement of American Independence would have been an impossibility. When the goal was reached how did the Confederated Colonies, transmuted into the United States, show their gratitude to France and Spain?
Again, there was more honesty, mercy, magnanimity, more charity or philanthropy manifested to the "Rebels in 1865, than to their brethren, if they were so in fact, by the Colonial authorities in 1782-3. The Duke of Alva was scarcely more cruel for his race, day, prejudices and opportunities than the authorities of the State of New York, for their blood and their era. Not one sentence of this introduction is written to uphold Great Britain. Even accepting Lecky's deprecatory estimate of George III and his ministry, nothing can excuse the animus which permeates the enactments of New York against the Loyalists, stigmatized as Tories, who were certainly as honest and self-sacrificing in their convictions as their opponents.
The uprising of 1861 settled the interpretation or definition of Loyality-Fealty to the Government and Fidelity to the Flag! If there was any man in the Colonies who was a decided enemy to the Crown it was John Adams, and yet he it was who declared, or rather wrote these remarkable words:
"For my own part there was not a moment during the Revolution when I would not have given anything I possessed for a restoration to the state of things before the contest began, provided we could have a sufficient security for its continuance."
The idea thus expressed by John Adams with the pen, was nothing more than Sir John Johnson wrote in fiercer colors with the sword, at the sacrifice of such a magnificent property that John Adams would have regarded a portion of it as an elegant competency.
What have Native Americans gained by all that has been undergone ? "Would their leaders have taken the stand that they did, if they could have looked forward and foreseen the present condition of things? Is material prosperity the highest good ? The wish has been attributed to Jefferson, the "Apostle of Democracy?" that an ocean of fire rolled between his country and the old world, to preserve it from the evils of emigration. Foreigners in a great measure engineered the American Revolution. How many figured at the head of our armies ? How many influenced the resolutions of Congress? Of twenty-eight active major-generals-there were thirty, but one resigned 33d April, 1776, and one was retired in 1778- eleven were foreigners, and four had learned their trades in the British service. Throwing out those who were promoted, of the fifty-five brigadiers, between 1775 and the close of the war in 1782, twelve were foreigners.
The two chief agents of independence were Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine. The first was an accidental American, just born in this country, and the latter an Englishman.
Individual rights are more respected and regarded today in Great Britain, and the law is held in more reverence there than in the United States. Here license dictates the laws and a respectable minority has to suffer and succumb. There is no law but public opinion, right or wrong, and the atrocious influence of political greed and grasping monopoly. Is that worse than a royal will, tempered by a constitutional representation ?
The atmosphere breathed by so many of the prominent American families of New York was surcharged with Loyalty and Fidelity to a rightful Prince. Whether the idea was wise or foolish, right or wrong, nothing was considered as much a man's personal duty as the maintenance of his honor. The young and charming Lord James Radcliffe, Earl of Derwentwater, the idol of the Jacobites, was beheaded*
* "LORD DERWENTWATER'S LIGHTS.-There have been several wonderful and most unusual displays of aurora borealis in England
24th February, 1716; that is, on the very day, it is claimed by Col. T. Bailey Myers, that Sir William Johnson was born, and the wild fervor of Jacobite Loyalty was still alive when Sir John was a boy. The world was yet ringing with the thrilling, touching and trumpet-toned ballads which celebrated the virtues and sacrifices of those who dared and died for the Stuarts. With such examples before them, men who had been elevated and rewarded by the Crown would have been false to manhood if they had not stood by the source of honor whose streams had ennobled and enriched them.
Contrast LORD DERWENTWATER'S famous "Good Night" with a similar poem, evoked by the exile and ruin of the Westchester de Lanceys. The same spirit manifests itself in both.
lately, seriously affecting, as they have done here, the telegraphic communication. In Northumberland, the aurora borealis is known among the peasantry by the name of Lord Derwentwater Lights. In the attempt to place the Stuarts on the throne, the Earl of Derwentwater, head of the great Roman Catholic north country family of Radcliffe, took a conspicuous part, and paid the penalty on the scaffold. On the night of his execution there was a brilliant display of the aurora borealis, and the simple peasantry, by whom their lord, a man of high and amiable character, was greatly beloved, associated the phenomena with the death of the unfortunate young nobleman.
"There is also a legend, which yet lingers amidst the homesteads of the property which once was his, that the water in the moat of Dilstone Castle, the family seat, turned blood red on that same fatal night. This notion is likely to have arisen from the reflection of the sky [crimson with the aurora] in the water. The vast estates of the Radcliffes were confiscated to the endowment of Greenwich Hospital, and are now worth about £60,000 a year. A maniac, calling herself Countess of Derwentwater, has lately been claiming them."Post, Nov. 29,1870.
"Farewell to pleasant Dilston Hall,
My father's ancient seat;
A stranger now must call thee his,
Which gars my heart to greet.
Farewell each friendly well-known face,
My heart has held so dear ;
My tenants now must leave their lands,
Or hold their lives in, fear*
"No more along the banks of Tyne,
I'll rove in autumn grey;
No more I'll hear at early dawn,
The lav' rocks wake the day.
Then fare thee well, brave Witherington,
And Forster ever true ;
Dear Shaftesbury and Errington,
Receive my last adieu.
" And fare thee well, George Collingwood,
Since fate has put us down,
If thou and I have lost our lives,
Our King has lost his crown.
Farewell, farewell, my lady dear,
Ill, ill thou counseli'dst me ;
I never more may see the babe
That smiles upon thy knee.+
" And fare thee well, my bonny grey steed,++
That carried me aye so free ;
I wish I had been asleep in my bed,
The last time I mounted thee.
This warning bell now bids me cease,
My trouble's nearly o'er ;
* True to the letter as regards the tenants and dependents of Sir John Johnson.
+ Lady Johnson's child, born in captivity, died in consequence of the exposure attending her escape from the Whigs or Rebels, and Sir John only looked upon it to see it die.
++ Sir John Johnson had a famous (white or whitey-grey ?) charger, which was captured during the invasion of 1780. (See Simm's "Schoharie" 386.)
Yon Sun that rises from the sea,
Shall rise on me no more.
"Albeit that here in London town,
It is my fate to die ;
O carry me to Northumberland,
In my father's grave to lie!
Then chant my solemn requiem,
In Hexham's holy towers;
And let six maids of fair Tynedale,
Scatter my grave with flowers.
"And when the head that wears the crown,
Shall be laid low like mine,
Some honest hearts may then lament,
For Radcliffe's fallen line.
Farewell to pleasant Dilston Hall,
My father's ancient seat;
A stranger now must call thee his,
Which gars my heart to greet."
The touching lines, just quoted, are echoes of similar heart-utterances of every nation which has a literature, and which has been torn by civil war. Several poems of exquisite pathos attest the deep feeling of the Huguenot exiles driven by bigotry from France and from the sunny homes they were never again to behold. Many years ago, among old family records, the writer found some verses in manuscript which embody the same sentiments as those which characterize "Lord Derwentwater's Good Night." They refer to the desolation which fell upon the domain in Westchester County, N. Y., where his grandfather, Hon. John Watts, Jr., married, 2d October, 1775, the lovely Jane de Lancey-a couple so fitted for each other in every respect, that the festival was suitably commemorated in prose and poetry. The gentle Jane was the niece of Lady Johnson, wife of Sir John, and the Sister of the famous Colonel James de Lancey, who organized a Battalion of Loyal Light Horse. "This Troop [the nucleus] is truly 'Elite' of the country," is the record of the Royal Governor. Their commander, stigmatized by his opponents as the ''Outlaw of the Bronx,'' became "the terror of the region" between the Harlem river and the Highlands. He was fearless and indefatigable, and, on one occasion, came near "gobbling" Washington. So formidable did he prove, that "Washington's "first offensive design"-after his junction with Lauzun's Legion and the advanced corps of Rochambeau-was an attempt to destroy de Lancey's Legion. This, like that of Lauzun, Pulaski, Armand and "Light Horse Harry" Lee, comprised both Horse and Foot. The enterprise was undertaken on the night of 1st July, 1781. It failed completely.
When the success of the Americans was decided, Colonel James de Lancey, the hero of so much sterling fact and romantic fiction, went forth an exile-a sad fate for so brave and conscientious a soldier, although he was rewarded by the bounty and confidence of the King for whom he had lost all. He was a nephew of Sir John Johnson. When about to leave forever his ancestral home, the " 'Outlaw of the Bronx' mounted his horse, and, riding to the dwellings of his neighbors [early associates and constant friends through life] bid them each farewell. His paternal fields and every object presented to his view were associated with the joyful recollections of early life. The consciousness that he beheld them all for the last time, and the uncertainties to be encountered in the strange country to which banishment was consigning him, conspired to awaken emotions such as the sternest bosom is sometimes compelled to entertain. It was in vain that he struggled to suppress feelings which shook his iron heart. Nature soon obtained the mastery, and he burst into tears. After weeping with uncontrollable bitterness for a few moments, he shook his ancient friend by the hand, ejaculating with difficulty the words of benediction-'God bless you, Theophilus [Bailey]!' and spurring forward, turned his back forever upon his native valley"-the home of the writer's great-grandparents on the mother's side.
The following feeling lines were written by a stranger, an Englishman, who visited the old de Lancey manor, in Westchester County, N. T., expecting to find there, still existing, some memorials of that gallant, courtly and eminent race which once directed the development of the colony and province. But, alas, in the same manner that war, exile, confiscation and death had smitten and scattered the proud owners, even so had flood, fire and change laid waste or altered their ornate possessions. A solitary pine towering aloft in natural majesty, alone survived to mark the spot where once a flourishing loyal race extended its stately hospitalities, and enjoyed the sweets of a home, the abode of prosperity and the shelter of extraordinary hereditary capacity. A contrast so marked between the past and the present moved even the alien, and in poetic numbers he testified his sympathy and recorded the desolation:
" Where gentle Bronx clear winding flows
His shadowing banks between ;
Where blossom'd bell and wilding rose
Adorn the brightest green ;
Memorials of the fallen great,
The rich and honor'd line,
Stands high in solitary state,
De Lancey's ancient pine.
" There, once at early dawn array'd,
The rural sports to lead,
The gallant master of the glade
Bestrode his eager steed ;
And once the light-foot maiden came,
In loveliness divine,
To sculpture with the dearest name,
De Lancey's ancient pine.
"And now the stranger's foot explores
De Lancey's wide domain,
And scarce one kindred heart restores
His memory to the plain ;
And just like one in age alone,
The last of all his line
Bends sadly where the waters moan-
De Lancey's ancient pine.
" Oh greatness! o'er thy final fall,
The feeling heart should mourn.
Nor from de Lancey's ancient Hall
With cold rejoicing turn :
No ! no ! the satiate stranger stays
When eve's calm glories shine,
To weep-as tells of other days
De Lancey's ancient pine."
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