History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume II, Page 487
Principal Events of 1781.
A Mutiny at Morristown.-The year 1781, opened with an unpleasant occurrence. The sufferings of the soldiers had been very severe, added to which some had been detained in service beyond the term of their enlistment, while all were in arrears of pay for their services. In the evening of the first day of January, the troops of the Pennsylvania line stationed at Morristown, New Jersey, numbering 1,800, paraded under arms-determined to march to Philadelphia and demand from Congress immediate redress. Their officers endeavored, by persuasion, to lull their murmurs and disperse them to their quarters, but to no purpose-although one was killed and several wounded. Gen. Wayne, in front of these men, cocked his pistols to compel obedience to his commands, but in an instant an hundred guns were leveled at his breast. " We love and respect you," said the malcontents, " but fire and you are a dead man." Declaring their intention of not going over to the enemy, they elected temporary officers, and marched off in a body for Princeton. Several agents sent by Sir Henry Clinton to win them to the British interest, were handed over by the revolters to the Americans, who executed them as spies. Committees from Congress and the Legislature of Pennsylvania, met them at Princeton, paid part of their arrears in specie, and they returned to their duty. This mutiny was followed by one of less consequence in the troops of New Jersey, which was quelled and the ring-leaders instantly executed.
Early in the year 1781, a block-house was erected on Mr. Houck's land in Kneiskern's dorf, Schoharie valley, and picketed in. A similar one was constructed about the same time in Hartman's dorf. A blockhouse, similar in form to the one called Fort Plain, was erected that spring near the dwelling of Jacob Shafer in Cobelskill, about half a mile east of Cobelskill village. This blockhouse was erected by Capt. Duboise of Catskill, and was called Fort Duboise. It was surrounded by a deep moat, which was partially filled with water from a brook running near. About half an acre of ground, on which stood the dwelling of Shafer, was embraced in the inclosure, which was also surrounded by pickets. The gate or principal entrance was on the eastern side. This fort, with a small garrison, was for some time under the command of Capt. Duboise.
Major Davis and his Fate.-In the spring of 1781, Col. Livingston, with his regiment of New York troops, marched up the Mohawk valley to Fort Plain. On arriving at the house of George Adam Dockstader, situated four miles west of the present village of Fonda, the regiment halted.* This old house, a one story building, was standing until about 1850). This was the only house except the parsonage, left standing in the valley the year before, from Tribe's Hill to the Nose, a distance of nine or 10 miles. An upper room of Dockstader's house was found to be locked, and Maj. John Davis, a spirited officer of the regiment, demanded the key : but the magic iron had disappeared and could not possibly be found. " Well, then," said the intrepid Major, "bring me an axe ; I can open it." Rather than have the door mutilated, the family produced the key, when lo ! the room was found to be literally filled with hams and other smoked meat. The major concluded, and no doubt correctly, that from the different colors the meat presented, it had been smoked in many places ; and that most of it must have been gathered by Indians and tories, and there deposited to be used as occasion might require. He therefore thought it advisable to victual his own men from it, and leaving a year's supply for the family the rest was "pressed into the service," to the gratification of the troops.-James Williamson, a soldier present.
Capture of Wood-Choppers.-On the second day of March of this year, James Williamson, a sergeant, was sent (as he informed the writer), with Corporal Samuel Betts and half a
*Maj. Davis was a native of East Hampton, L. I. He became a prisoner to the enemy in the latter part of the war, was confined in one of the charnel houses in New York, and there died, as was believed, by having poison administered to him in chocolate. An American captain, who was a fellow-prisoner, tasted the beverage, but suspecting its ingredients, would not drink It, and advised Maj. D. not to-but the latter had already swallowed a portion of It. He was immediately taken ill, and died soon after. Several other prisoners died at the same time from the same cause. Such was the fate of many-yes, very many brave American officers and soldiers. They were either poisoned outright, or subjected to such privations for want of wholesome food, clothing, medical attendance, fuel, and ventilated rooms, as hurried them off by hundreds to eternity.- Williamson.
dozen soldiers, from Fort Stanwix to guard about the same number of wood-choppers, and attend, to measuring a quantity of wood already chopped, distant about half a mile from that post. While thus engaged. Brant came suddenly upon the Americans, with a large body of Indians and tories, and discharging a volley of balls to intimidate them, rushed up and captured the whole party, except Williamson, who fled, amidst a shower of bullets, in safety to the fort. Only two of the Americans were wounded, William Moffatt and Timothy Reynolds-the former with a broken thigh, and the latter a bullet-hole in his cheek, the ball having entered at the mouth. Moffatt fired on the Indians, on which account he was tomahawked, scalped, stripped of his clothing, and left for dead. The enemy immediately set forward, and forded the Mohawk some distance below.
On the arrival of Williamson at the fort, an alarm gun was fired, by which the captors knew their sergeant had escaped. A strong force immediately turned out, and were piloted by him in pursuit of the foe. At the place where the Americans had been surprised, Moffatt was found alive, but died soon after. On reaching the path near the river, which led from Fort Stanwix to Fort Dayton, Brant halted his men, and cut the straps which contained the buckles, from his prisoners' shoes, which he carefully disposed along the path on the crusted snow, that his enemies might know what he had done, giving the captives deer-skin straps with which to tie their shoes. The pursuing party found the buckles, but as it was near night the chase was given over, from fear, probably, of an ambuscade, as the numbers of the presumptuous foe were unknown. Brant first conducted his prisoners to the Oneida castle, some 16 miles southwest of Utica, and after procuring a supply of corn directed his course to Fort Niagara by the great southwestern route.*
* An incident mentioned by Josiah Priest, in the memoirs of David Ogden (a captive at the time), as having taken place before their arrival at Niagara, deserves note. Having halted at noon to rest, " Brant took a notion that Corporal Betts should exercise his men and fellow prisoners, to see, as he said, whether the Yankees could go through the tactics of Baron Steuben. The corporal was very loth to do this- through diffidence or a broken spirit, hanging back considerably; but Brant insisted upon it, when Betts drew out his men in due order, 18 In number, quite a company, dressed them in a straight line, and then went through the manual exercise according to Steuben, to the full approbation of Brant. But as they did this, the tories essayed to make sport of them, which Brant forbid with a terrible frown, saying;that the Yankees went through with it a d-d sight better than they could, and that he liked to see the thing done well, although it were done by the enemy. "
Early in the same spring, two boys, who had gone back of an orchard, only a few hundred rods from Fort Herkimer, to drive home cows, were surprised and captured by seven Indians and "two Tories, and hurried off to Canada.- Williamson.
The Burning of Fort Stanwix.-Early in May, 1781, high water from the Mohawk destroyed a quantity of provisions, etc., at this fort, and May 12th it was destroyed by fire. One of the earliest to mention its destruction was Col. Stone, and his account came from an intercepted letter going from a spy in Albany, to Gov. Haldimand, of Canada. This account from the enemy suggested that it was purposely set on fire ; and our later writers have copied that opinion. On this subject. May 27, 1781, Gen. Washington wrote to the President of Congress as follows:
" There has been a necessity of abandoning the post of Fort Schuyler (Stanwix), and removing the garrison and stores to the German Flats (Fort Dayton). The barracks had been, at the beginning of this month consumed by fire, and the works so exceedingly damaged by a heavy storm of rain, that they were rendered indefensible ; nor could they be repaired in any reasonable time by the number of men, who could be spared as a garrison. Brig.-Gen. Clinton recommended the evacuation of the post, as the only alternative, to which I the more readily consented, as it had been sometime past the opinion of the officers best acquainted with that part of the country, that a post at the German Flats (Fort Dayton) would be more easily supported, and equally advantageous to the security of the frontier." * In a letter from Gen. Washington to Brig.-Gen. James Clinton, dated June 5, he says : " It is clearly my opinion that the reinforcements lately ordered northward, should be except together as much as circumstances will admit, etc. ;" and he adds : " It also appears to me, that the force on the Hudson and Mohawk rivers ought not to be so widely scattered as formerly, but stationed in as compact a manner as may be, except
*Sparks' Washington, vol. 8 p. 56., Ibid, p. 316.
In 1847, I met Samuel Pettit, of Mayfield, then 85 1/2 years old. He was born in Derby, Connecticut, but was living at Spencertown, N. Y., at the beginning of the war. He was a soldier under Capt. Sacket at Fort Stanwix when it was burned. He said the pickets enclosing the fort were not burned, but the fort was except the bomb proof, which was saved by throwing dirt upon it. He, with other soldiers, were playing ball a little distance away, when the fire-alarm was given. One of the barracks occupied by Lieut. Daniel Dennison was on fire, when he offered a guinea to anyone who would get his sword, which hung near a window from which the flame was just bursting out. At the peril of life and somewhat scorched Pettit reached the trusty blade, and placing it in the hand of its delighted owner, he received his well earned guinea. Dennison was an Albanian.
As regarded the origin of the fire, Mr. Pettit believed it was accidental. Some charcoal from a pit recently burned, had been procured for the repair of arms in the armory, and it was thought by many that some brands were still on fire and brought in the coals had ignited them ; and as the fire broke out in this locality, he believed the fire thus originated. The fire breaking out so irrepressibly in the day-time, seems to favor its origin.
A Visit to Miss Anne Lee. Anne Lee, the mother of the religious sect known as Shaking Quakers, and familiarly called, in her lifetime, "Mother Anne," or "The Elect Lady," arrived In "New York from Liverpool, with a few proselytes, in 1774 ; and six years after her advent the sect did not number over a dozen members in the United States. They were of English birth, and located at New Lebanon. One of her leading practical tenets was the perfect separation of the sexes. Her doctrine, like all others, only needed pressing to find converts, and at the end of 50 years had established a seemingly permanent footing, with a phalanx of 4,000 or 5,000 members.
In the winter of 1780 and '81, Capt. Eben Williams had occasion to go on a military errand from West Point to Poughkeepsie with a flag. Gov. Clinton, for whom he had an express, was absent on his arrival, and in consequence he was detained several days. The Elect Lady was then at the house of one Boyd, about a mile from the village ; and having made the acquaintance of Capt. Thomas Machin of the artillery, and Col. Marinus Willett, Capt. Williams went, one evening, with his new friends to visit her ladyship. They found her cheerful, sociable, and a very agreeable companion for the hour. Capt. Machin, who was a brother countryman of hers, and apt at quoting scripture ; after inflicting several good humored jokes, which she took kindly ; asked her in a playful manner what she would do, since she professed to measure her conduct and faith by the Bible, with the 28th verse of the first chapter of Genesis, wherein we are commanded, through our first parents, "to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth," etc. " How," he continued, " is that injunction to be fulfilled if your doctrine be the true one ? " The tidy Quakeress held down her head a moment, apparently in a brown study, and then starting up, as though some new revelation bad been received, she quickly replied, " There will always be enough of your belief for that."
While awaiting Gov. Clinton's return, which was on the day after the interview described, Capt. Williams was very hospitably entertained by Capt. Machin, who had taxed, without stint, a cask of good wine which had become a prize from the enemy just before. The two officers were guests at the dinner table of the Governor, when they took occasion to mention their interview with The Elect Lady. " Ha," said his Excellency, with a smile, " when she first arrived in this country she was imprisoned : however, she was soon liberated. But when I came to know her real principles, I was fearful of no evil results from her preaching;" he added, with emphasis, looking archly at the female members of his family at the table, and inspiring unbidden roses, as I knew our countrywomen would never let so preposterous a doctrine as that get to any height." -- Captain Eben Williams.
A Spook Story of this Neighborhood.-Many years ago it was rumored that a man named Strobeck had been murdered in a small cedar swamp, near to which the Sharon battle had been fought, after which a tin horn was often heard-sometimes in the night and at others in the day-time. Timid minds Were sadly frightened by it. It must have been about 1825 when my informant, Dr. John Loucks, who then resided in that neighborhood, and another young man went into the swamp one Sunday when the unearthly sound was heard, to learn the cause. In a secluded spot the object was found and the mystery solved. Two cedar trees had become wedded, one having fallen into a crotch of the other, and when the wind blew, so as to move their trunks, a creaking sound was heard, somewhat resembling the noise of a tin horn. The mystery solved, the community breathed more freely, as is ever the case when the cause of imaginary alarm is exploded.
A War Party in the Schoharie Valley.-I conjecture that some small parties of the Indians who accompanied Capt. Dockstader, lingered about the Susquehanna and returned to the frontier settlements. In the latter part of July, a party of the enemy, consisting of Capt. David, a Mohawk sachem, Seth's Joseph, a Schoharie Indian and brother of Henry, and seven others-one of whom was suspected by the prisoners to have been a painted tory-surprised William Bouck (a relative of his namesake, previously captured), and his son Lawrence, then 18 years old,-Frederick Mattice and his son Frederick, a lad 10 years old, and four girls ; two were sisters of young Mattice, a third was the daughter of William Bouck, and the fourth was Rosana, a daughter of John Vrooman. The captives were engaged in harvesting wheat, in the afternoon, near a large oak tree, which was yet standing in 1845, on the lands of John Henry in the town of Middleburgh. Two other lads-George, a son of Frederick Mattice, and Nicholas, a son of William Bouck, who were in the field when the enemy appeared, escaped by flight.
The party moved directly up the Schoharie valley, and after proceeding a mile, the girls, all in their teens (Miss Vrooman being a young lady), after having been entirely denuded, were liberated and returned home. The enemy encamped the first night 12 or 15 miles from the wheat field.*
When the journey commenced, the Indians had but little to eat: near the Gen. Patchin place they shot a hedgehog, which, when they encamped at night, after burning off the quills instead of skinning, they roasted for their supper. Tomahawks were used instead of carving knives to distribute it, but the prisoners declined eating.
At night, the captives were stripped of part of their clothing and tightly bound. In the evening a thunder shower came up, and all the party took shelter under a large tree. As they laid down to rest, Lawrence Bouck was so closely pinioned, he told Capt. David he could not sleep, and the rope was loosened. He then laid down between two Indians, while a third one located himself so as to substitute his body for a pillow. While the Indians were eating supper, Lawrence told the elder Mattice, who was his uncle, that he intended to escape. Some time that night, he worked himself out from under the precious head and sat up. Perceiving the party all asleep, he loosened the cord which bound his arms. A tump line adorned his neck ; which, in his first efforts to loosen, he shirred tightly around his throat; but this, too, he removed ; and at a single bound, without touching his hands, he sprang upon his feet: a feat which he declared himself unable ever afterwards to perform. Casting his eye over the group around him, he saw no movement, and taking French leave, he directed his steps toward the Upper Schoharie fort, only a mile or two from which he had been captured. Bouck afterwards learned from his father, that his running awoke the
* The particulars relating to the captivity of these persons were derived at personal interviews, from Lawrence Bouck and the younger Mattice: two of the captives, and other relations.
Indians, several of whom pursued him 100 yards or more; but it being too dark to discover the course he had taken, they returned. The two Mattices were led out in the morning and tied to a tree to be killed, the Indians suspecting them of having loosened the cords which bound their fellow prisoner. Mr. Bouck told them that his son would not have made his escape, had he not feared they would bind him so tight as to cause his death. He was treated with far less severity on the way to Canada, than was either Mattice or his son.
Lawrence Bouck arrived near the Patchin place just at daylight, where he saw numerous tracks, and was at first alarmed, as the captors had asserted- the day previous, that a large body of Indians were to attack the Schoharie settlements that day; but on examining the tracks, his fears were dispelled, when he observed they were not moccasined, as those of Indians would have been.
When it was known at the forts that the Boucks and Mattices were taken prisoners. Col. Vrooman dispatched Capt. Gray, with a small company of troops, in pursuit. He followed until evening, and not overtaking the enemy, returned to Schoharie. Had he prosecuted the pursuit next day, it was believed he would have come up with them. It was the tracks of those soldiers that Lawrence Bouck discovered while returning.- George Richtmyer.
The captives were 20 days journeying to Niagara, and several times were greatly straitened for food. Once on the way, probably on the Susquehanna, they lived a day or two on green apples ; and for four days they had nothing to eat. At Oquago they fortunately found a colt which had been lost by Capt. Dockstader's party. This was killed, divided and feasted upon. Part of the animal was dried by the fire and taken along. One wild duck was also shot on the way. They went down the Susquehanna river to Chenango Point (now Binghamton on foot-and from thence to the Genesee valley, where the prisoners were compelled to run the gantlet. Young Mattice bad been previously divested of all his clothing, except his shirt, which rendered him peculiarly vulnerable to the gads and corn-stalks used by the young Indians. In the Genesee valley they obtained green corn and pumpkins. On arriving at the Tonawanda creek, the punkies tormented young Mattice nights, and he adopted the expedient of the lad Diefendorf-that of burrying his person in the forest leaves-to keep them off. They all laid down to rest nights, like so many dogs in a kennel.
On arriving at Niagara the prisoners were confined in the guard house. They were soon after separated, Bouck being taken first to Montreal and then to Quebec-from whence, being exchanged for an American prisoner, he was removed to Halifax, and soon after sailed for Boston. From the latter place he traveled to Schoharie, where he arrived between Christmas and New Year's day, the year succeeding his capture.* The Mattices did not return home until after the conclusion of peace. A tory brother of the elder Mattice, who had left Schoharie in l777, then residing in Canada, on learning that Frederick was a prisoner, tried to persuade an Indian to kill him. Such was the fraternal affection too often manifested in the Revolution by those who espoused the royal cause. Mr. Mattice was retained by an Indian five weeks to construct a log house. During this time, the latter, on one occasion, returned from Niagara drunk, and got his prisoner up in the night to murder him. He struck a blow at his head with some missile, which the latter paried, and the Indian's squaw caught hold of her liege lord and held him, sending Mattice out of the hut, where he remained until the demonizing effect of the alcohol passed from the warrior's brain.
On the ratification of peace in the summer of 1783, the British and American prisoners were all liberated, at which time the Mattices were put on board of a sloop, with about 600 others, and taken to Bucks Island, near the outlet of Lake Ontario, from whence they were sent to Montreal in bateaus. After a delay of two weeks, the Mattices, with a great number of other persons, proceeded by water up the River Sorel, and landed at Plattsburg, on Lake Champlain, and were set free about the 16th day of December. The snow was then some six
* Peter Zimmer, of Schoharie, taken the July following Bouck's capture, and Adam Garlock, of Sharon, fellow prisoners, accompanied him home from Boston. On their way they had to beg provisions, and the cupboards of the patriotic Yankees were willingly opened to them. Garlock evinced some delicacy lest they might tax too heavily the hospitality of strangers, when the enquiry whether they would not have more bread, was made, he replied no, they had a great plenty. His ready answers cost his companions several stinted meals, until they threatened to flog him if he again prevented their satisfying their hunger. They afterwards fared better, and reached home in safety.
inches deep, through which they had to foot it home. The prisoners were tolerably well protected against the weather by old clothes given them at different places. Three brothers, named Van Alstyne, who had been captured in the Mohawk valley, returned home with the Schoharie prisoners.
A Canadian, Spy, how Concealed in Johnstown, with some Notice of Johnstown Men and Events.-Conspicuous among the zealous and efficient patriots at Johnstown in the Revolution, were Captain, afterwards Maj. John Littel* and Zephaniah Batcheller, the latter an acting justice of the peace. When Sir William Johnson was about to erect Johnson Hall, he sent to England and procured an architect named Bennett, who was afterwards employed on the public buildings at Johnstown, and on Guy Park now in Amsterdam. Soon after the Johnstown settlement began, Zepheniah Batcheller removed there from Boston. He was a house carpenter and an architect of no mean order, and wan employed by the Baronet, who even thought him more skillful than his English artizan. At Sir William's death he made the coffin to receive his remains.
In the employ of Batcheller, was an apprentice named Amos Ansley, who worked with him on Guy Park. With Sir John Johnson, when his parole would no longer hold him, Ansley was among the royalists who followed his fortunes to Canada. Some time in February or March, as believed, of 1781, Mr. Batcheller went with a sled to get a load of hay of Daniel McGregor, who was then living on the farm known subsequently as the Dr. Quilhot place-on which Henry Stoner was killed in 1782. Previous to Batcheller's visit to McGregor's-how long is unknown-Ansley had arrived in the vicinity of Johnstown in the character of a spy, and was then at MeGregor's. As the former approached the dwelling, he was seen and recognized by his former apprentice, who, without rightly divining his errand,
It was thus he wrote his name. He was an active partisan officer during the
whole of the war, and was sheriff of the county after its close. William Wallace,
a Lieutenant under Capt. Littel, proved himself a brave and active defender
of republican principles; and deserves to be named with his Captain, whose
plans to thwart the designs of the enemy he was ever ready to carry out. The
following inscriptions are copied from the grave yard in Johnstown with their
" Maj. John Little, died Sept. 29, 1822, aged 77 years. He commanded the Johnstown fort during the Revolutionary war, and took a conspicuous part in the battle of Johnstown, Oct. 1781."
" Catharine, wife of Maj. John Little, died June 15, 1821, aged 64 yrs., 1 mo. and 3 ds".
fled and concealed himself in the very hay his old boss was after. It is presumed McGregor detained his visitor long enough to have his guest make a safe retreat, if inclemency of weather did not compel him to go in and warm ; but he could hardly have imagined what place he had chosen for his concealment. Scarcely had the spy gained security, when Esq. Batcheller arrived there, pitched on his load and returned to Johnstown, unsuspicious that an enemy to his country-one sent to spy out its vulnerable points, was in the hay within a few feet of him, every moment in danger of being thrust through by the fork.
Mr. Batcheller had a cabinet shop in Johnstown at the close of the war. Ansley visited Johnstown, called to see his old employer, and asked him if he remembered going to McGregor's for hay at a certain time ; and when assured that he did-" Well," said Ansley, " when you was pitching that hay, I was concealed in that same mow with important papers for the foes of liberty on my person ; and kept crawling farther into the hay, as I felt your fork repeatedly brush my person, expecting every moment the next thrust would send the fork tines through my body. What would you have done if you had discovered me ?"
" I do not know," replied the justice, I should certainly have felt it my duty to have given you up to the hangman, however painful the task ; but I am really glad, my son, I did not find you engaged in such nefarious business."-From William Johnson Van Voast, who was present and heard this conversation. This old gentleman, whom I met in Johnstown about the year 1850, was named after Sir William Johnson. He died July 2, 1861, in his 86th year.
A Frontiersman's Escape.-The following anecdote was related by Dr. G. A. Lintner in a historical address delivered at Fort Plain. Just where the incident happened we don't know, but think it was in the Canajoharie district. The story is too good to be lost. Many were the hair-breadth escapes from death in the Revolution, along the borders of civilization. A man named Deck was out on horseback, possibly bearing an express message to some military post. He was discovered by a party of Indians, who thinking easily to capture him, waylaid him at a place in the woods where he would have to pass through a thick growth of underbrush that darkened and almost obstructed the road. In the midst of this entangled and lonely spot, an Indian suddenly sprang from each side of the road and seized his bridle reins and ordered him to dismount. Deck, quick as thought, with a leaden handled riding whip, dealt a heavy blow upon the head of one of his adversaries, and as he fell he kicked the other one out of his way, and applying the whip to his steed, he dashed onward and escaped amidst a shower of bullets. When he safely reached a fort and told his story, no one would believe he had made so remarkable an escape ; but it was afterwards confirmed by returning prisoners, who had heard the Indians in Canada relating the occurrence, saying that they lad, at such a place as described, come across a tough old rebel, who fought like a tiger and kicked like a horse. Said they, he laid one Indian flat and knocked the life out of another. We thought we had got the old fellow, but he slipped out of our hands and ran away on a little pony like a streak of lightning. We sent 20 bullets after him, but couldn't catch him.
Fate of Captain Woodworth and his Command.-Solomon Woodworth, mentioned elsewhere as a pioneer settler of Mayfield, and as having made a brave defense of the Sacondaga block-house, and the pursuit and destruction of its assailants, in the spring of I780, was promised the captaincy of a company of rangers for the frontier service of New York, if he could enlist the men ; and early in 1781 he received such a commission. To make up his complement for active service, he had permission to draw from the other companies in the nine months service. Jacob Shew was thus drafted from Capt. Putman's company. From that, company also were added to Woodworth's, by draft or enlistment, Jacob Dunham, Jacob Burke, Rynier Van Sickler, David Putman, Daniel Dodge, and Ananias Archy. About the 1st of July, Capt. Woodworth assembled his men at Fort Plain, moved up to Fort Dayton and there halted for the night. Leaving the latter just before day-light, with his company, consisting of 49 white men, besides himself, and six Oneida Indians, he proceeded on a secret expedition- his first, in fact,-up the West Canada creek. The company, from its having been so recently organized, was without a full complement of officers, and the most of the men had previously been strangers to each other. It had, besides the Captain, only a Lieutenant and Orderly Sergeant. The subaltern, whose name was Wilson, had been a British deserter. The Orderly, John Dunham, was a very promising young man of the Mayfield settlement, whose father and brother were killed there, by the Indians, early in 1779, as shown elsewhere.
About 10 o'clock in the morning, when several miles distant from the fort, Woodworth struck an Indian trail, evidently but just made, in the dewy grass, and halted his men. The Oneidas, who were accustomed to judge of numbers by the trail they left, told the Captain the number of the enemy was much greater than that of his own men, and advised him to march his troops beside it. He did so, and a path was left about half as large as the first one made in the grass. The Indians proposed to return to the fort for more men, but to this the Captain would not consent. Shew, who was a former neighbor and intimately acquainted with Captain Woodworth, advised a halt until Capt. Putman's company of new levies, then at the fort, could be sent for to strengthen the force ; but to this wise counsel the impetuous commander would not listen. He said that such a delay would only give the enemy a chance to escape, and that beyond a doubt, they would he able to cope with them if so fortunate as to overtake them. He suggested that if any of his men were afraid, they were at liberty to return ; but as there were no chicken-hearted warriors in the corps, he determined to proceed, agreeing to use more caution in his march ; and accordingly an advance-guard was kept out.
The Americans did not wait for breakfast at the fort, but took a lunch in their knapsacks, which, in their excitement, they had not halted to eat after striking the trail ; and when they had pursued it some three miles, as the Oneidas had anticipated, they were surprised and fired upon by a large body of the enemy in concealment. At this time the men were advancing in three columns : the left one headed by Lieut. Wilson ; the right by Orderly Dunham ; the centre by Capt. Woodworth. The six Indians were formed in rear of the centre column. Owing to obstructions in their path, the pioneers were nearer the columns than usual at the time. The enemy, which proved in the sequel it to be 81 strong, mostly Indians, and commanded by Lieut. Clement, a tory from the vicinity of Schenectada, were chiefly concealed behind fallen trees at the time of their fire ; which was almost a simultaneous one from, at least, 40 or 50 guns. More than half of Woodworth's command fell at the first fire, though only one of the Oneidas was wounded : his name was Moses Yockum. He fell with a severe wound in the hip ; was caught up by his red brethren, who instantly fled in a direction opposite the attacking party, and all reached the fort in safety.
The Americans standing after the first fire of the enemy, except their red allies, instantly took trees. Capt. Woodworth and Shew, who was marching directly behind him, were unscathed, and sprang under cover of the same tree : a large sugar maple. For their number, comparatively few guns were discharged by the enemy after the first fire, as they were desirous of making the remainder of the party prisoners. From their covert, Shew and his Captain made two shots apiece, and a few more were made by the Americans, but with what effect is unknown. Capt. Woodworth was a fine marksman, and Shew was not a bad one. At this period, it is believed that all the Captains in the ranger service carried guns. Shew made one of his shots at the back of an Indian crawling behind a log, and the other at a dusky warrior running from one tree to another. The fearless Captain stood next to the tree and Shew on the outside of him : but having reloaded his piece, finding himself too much exposed in his present position, the tree not covering him sufficiently, he sprang off to another large maple about a rod distant; going to which, three balls from the enemy touched him. One passed through his cue, cutting much of it off near his head ; the second, passing through his clothes, cut the skin on his belly, and the third grazed his ankle. Hardly had he got behind the tree when his commander came to it, and as he had first chosen this position, the Captain took the outside. Just as he sprang behind Shew, he received a bullet through his breast ; his trusty rifle dropped from his hand and he fell forward upon his breast, exclaiming as he did so, " O Lord ! I'm a dead man'" Those were his dying words. The blood from his wound literally covered his companion. He was evidently shot through the heart, and never spoke after he fell. Such was the fate of an intrepid and patriotic officer in the border service-a service full of hardships and environed with constant perils.
Soon after the fall of their chief, David Putman, a fellow soldier and relative, came to the tree which still sheltered Shew, to enquire what it was best to do. The advice of the latter was, to attempt their escape, as they must soon fall or be captured in that position ; and Putman agreed to follow Shew in flight. The latter sprang off like a deer fleeing for life, on one side of the back track followed by his comrade ; who was less fleet on foot and could not keep up. After running some distance, Shew caught his foot under a saddle and fell to the ground, his knapsack which contained food for a day or two, and a small brass camp kettle, a most serviceable article at that period, went over his head and was lost. As he regained his feet, he heard a whoop directly ahead, such as the Indian Peter Sword gave to indicate a prisoner, when he was a captive several years before ; and seeing a good place for concealment in bushes and fallen timber, he crawled into it-at which moment Putman came bounding along and passed near his hiding place. From his retreat he called to Putman to share it with him, but fortunately for himself was unheard, and soon after a whoop satisfied him that the fugitive was a prisoner. Three Indians in pursuit of Putman ran so near to Shew, that he could have tripped them with his gun-barrel ; several others passed soon after equally near, but did not discover him. When the enemy assembled to move off, they went back a few rods distant from him on the opposite side of the trail. The party which took Putman also captured Joseph Myers, a fellow soldier. Lieut. Wilson and several who started to run with him on the back track just before Shew did, were all captured. The fate of the subultern we may imagine, if he was recognized on reaching Canada as a British deserter. Putman lived to get back, and possibly a few others.
David Myers and Rynier Van Sickler succeeded in eluding the enemy and reached the fort in safety ; although the latter lost his gun, a shot from the foe forcing it from his hands with a broken lock. One of the soldier's named must have seen Shew fall, for he was reported at the fort as being among those known to have been slain. He remained in his concealment for several hours, until the Indians who stripped and scalped all the dead, withdrew with the guns and other plunder, among which was the well filled knapsacks of the victims ; and then by a circuitous route striking the valley two miles below it, he regained Fort Dayton ; just at nightfall nearly exhausted from the fatigue, hunger and intense excitement of the day, and was welcomed as one almost risen from the dead.
The day after the massacre of Capt. Woodworth and his command, Capt. Putman, was conducted by Moyer, Van Sickler and the five Indians who were uninjured, to the field of blood. Shew was so unwell that Capt. Putman, whose company he again joined, would not allow him to be of the party. A large pit was dug and 25 bodies were collected near together and buried in it. How many more were killed in attempting to escape and remained unburied is unknown. Capt. Woodworth, whose body was somewhat disfigured, Sergeant Dunham, Annanias Archey and Daniel Dodge, are remembered as being buried by the men under Capt. Putman. Having been together but a short time, many of the company were yet almost strangers to each other. It was supposed that not over six or eight of Woodworth's men were made captive, leaving scarcely a dozen survivors at night out of 50 strong men who left Fort Dayton in the morning, to mete to others such a fate as was measured to them. Capt. Woodworth's command was surprised perhaps two miles to the eastward of the West Canada creek, in the present town of Fairfield ; and it was said 30 years ago, that the site of their grave was indicated by a beech tree near it. Lodowick Moyer told me that this burial was not far from Eaton's Bush. In 1851, Erastus Hall, of Eaton's Bush, assured the writer that Capt. Woodworth fell about a mile from West Canada creek, and two miles west in a direct line from Eaton's Bush. He thought it was on the land of either Adam Smith or Peter Helmer, a mile from Cross' Bridge. He said bones had been found in that vicinity. Also in 1851, G. I. Shew, of Le Roy, N. Y., informed me by letter, that Adam Helmer assured him that the place was marked by a beech tree, on the farm then owned by Mr. Folts, about three and one-half miles northerly from Herkimer village.
If the hallowed spot which contains the bodies of this band of martyrs is not near a public highway, they should be removed to the county seat, deposited near the site of Fort Dayton, and a suitable monument erected to their memory ; or place a monument on the nearest thoroughfare to the place of massacre. Let us take measures, when practicable, to mark the places where he buried the Americans who battled not only for their own but for a WORLD'S FREEDOM.
At the time of Capt. Woodworth's death, his wife was at Johnstown with two small children, a son and a daughter. After the war she again married and removed westward. Capt. Woodworth's brother, Seely Woodworth, who settled near him in Mayfield, was several times engaged in the militia service during the war. When the exposed Johnstown settlements were broken up, he moved his family back to Connecticut, but on the return of peace, he renewed his residence in Mayfield, where he lived and died.
Some 20 years after the war, Moses Yockum, the Indian named as having been wounded under Capt. Woodworth, called on Jacob Shew and obtained from him a written certificate, naming the place where, and time when he was wounded. With this evidence of his service and suffering he went to Col. Willett; who interested himself in getting the warrior placed on the pension list. This Fairfield Battle, if I may thus name it, was, no doubt, the bloodiest transaction for the numbers engaged, that took place in Tryon county during the Revolution. Capt. Woodworth, like some of the officers under Herkimer at Oriskany, became the victim of his own indiscretion. Between the years 1845 and 1850, I had repeated interviews with Jacob Shew, from whom the circumstances of this interesting event were obtained. He was, no doubt, its only survivor at that time, having a vivid recollection of its diabolical yells and horrors.
Loss of a Sloop on the Hudson, and Death of Capt. Hurlbut. -Under date of July 15, 1781, Dr. Thacher made the following entry in his Military Journal. " Two of the British frigates and several smaller vessels, passed up the North river as far as Tarrytown, in defiance of our cannon, which were continually playing on them. Their object appears to be, to seize some of our,small vessels which are passing down the river with supplies for our army. One small sloop, loaded with bread for the French army, has fallen into their hands."
The facts attending the capture of this sloop, which were noted before the above was seen, were as follows : In the summer of 1781, Col. Sheldon's regiment of dragoons was stationed near White Plains. A sloop laden with bread at Albany and destined to serve the French troops in the vicinity of Tarrytown, dropped down the river and anchored near that place. Capt. Hurlbut, with a sergeant of his company named Litchfield, and some half a dozen privates, went on board the sloop just before night, to take charge of and guard her until morning. Two of the enemy's armed ships lying in Haverstraw bay, informed by some means of the position of the sloop, sent several boats' crews at nightfall to cut her out. The marines were discovered approaching, and the gallant Captain drew up his men, armed only with cutlasses, to defend his charge. Several of the enemy who first attempted to gain the sloop's deck, fell back with shattered heads or drooping hands ; but his sergeant having been killed by a bullet through the head, finding himself overpowered by numbers who were gaining the deck opposite, the Captain abandoned his trust and told his men to take care of themselves. They plunged into the water, and, amid a shower of bullets, swam to the shore, on gaining which, the Captain halted to bandy harsh epithets with his foes, and received for his temerity a dangerous bullet wound in the groin. He was, however, borne off by his men to the camp.
The night Capt. Hurlbut was wounded, my informant, then a private soldier in his company sat up with him, his vigil lasting until day-light; and as the weather was warm, he had to fan his patient constantly. The next day Capt. H. was removed to the West Point hospital, where, under skillful hands, be was nearly cured ; when he became intimate with the bane of a Military camp-a profligate woman-who poisoned him with disease and lie died soon after much regretted ; as he was an active and daring officer just past his majority in years. He was a native of New London, Connecticut.-Daniel Spencer, of Canajoharie, N. Y.
An Attempt to Capture Gen. Schuyler - Although this patriot had been fortuitously superseded in command in 1777, to appease New England prejudice, it did not stifle his love of country or lose for him the confidence of his superior officers, and of so much importance did the British commanders still place upon his influence and zeal in the cause of liberty, that they offered a large reward for his delivery as a prisoner in Canada. To secure his person and plunder his dwelling, then a suburban home of Albany, Walter Meyer, or as written by Lossing, John Walter Meyer, with about 20 genial spirits from Canada made an attempt to accomplish the object, about nine o'clock on the evening of August 7, 1781. The family fortunately gained an upper room, and from a window the General discharged a pistol or two, shouting as he heard the invaders in the hall : " Come on my lads, surround the house and secure the villains." They were frightened off by the ruse, before succor arrived from the town a mile distant; with the plunder of part of his table silver, and two of four white men as prisoners who disputed the entrance of the enemy, wounding their leader. George Clinton, on learning of this feat of the enemy, ordered a sergeant's guard-a sergeant and 12 men for the future protection of the family. Says Stone, Failing to accomplish his object, Meyer led his destructives to the Ballston settlement, where he captured Col. Gordon. This is no doubt an error. As I have already shown, Col. Gordon was captured at the invasion of Ballston by Maj. Monroe, October 16, 1780. At least so I was informed 40 years ago by Charles and Hugh Mitchell, sons of Maj. Mitchell, and then (at the invasion) residents of Ballston. The late Evert Yates, who was brought up in Albany, assured me that he was one of the volunteers that went from Albany to Schuyler's mansion when the alarm was sounded.
See Lossing's account for full particulars of the attempt to capture Schuyler. This story was handsomely told in the Albany Evening Journal of August 6, 1881, by W. W. Crannell, Esq.
Preparation to Succor Schoharie.- On Sunday preceding; August 14th of this year, about 400 Indians and tones, under Capt. Caldwell, made their appearance in Ulster county, but were so warmly received by the citizens and militia in several skirmishes, that they retreated with much more loss than gain. At this time, Gov. Clinton, fearing the next point of attack from the enemy would be Schoharie, wrote to Gen. Gansevoort, the commanding officer at Albany, to send a detachment of troops here to protect those settlements. About the same time, Col. Vrooman, of Schoharie, who had heard of the enemy's proximity, wrote to Gen. Gansevoort for assistance. Troops were accordingly dispatched, under Colonels Van Rensselaer and Wemple, to Schoharie, -where they were joined by a party of Oneidas from Schenectada.*-Letters of Gov. Clinton to Gen. Gansevoort, and note to the same in Stone's Life of Brant.
*The aid thus seasonably sent to Schoharie was fortunately not called into requisition. I conclude that the forces under Capt. Caldwell consisted principally of the same destructives led by Capt. Dockstader to Corry Town four weeks before; that the latter officer, meeting a body of the enemy on their way to the frontier settlements of New York, with most of his men, joined Caldwell In the enterprise. If so, this will account for the information of Mr. Strobeck, that Dockstader was again engaged with and defeated by the Americans, after Willett's battle in Sharon, with very serious loss before his return to Canada.
Fair Maidens in Palatine, the plot to kidnap six Bellinger virgins.
Surprise of Lieut. Borst and Party in Sharon.-At the Keyes' place in Sharon, * dwelt in the Revolution, a Hanoverian named Christian Myndert, whose family was the only one in that part of Sharon. Having been alarmed several times in the
*The tavern stand of Zachariah Keyes, an inn-keeper, known to every one who traveled the western turnpike about the years 1820.
summer, he removed towards fall, in 1781, to Fort Duboise ; leaving, at the time of his departure, several hogs running in a field, and a quantity of peas growing on the ground. In the latter part of October, Myndert, accompanied by Lieut. Jacob Borst, of Cobelskill, Sergeant William Kneiskern, and Jacob Kerker, proceeded to the dwelling of the former, in Myndert's valley, to secure his peas, shut up his hogs, and take care of some other property. John Crounse, in 1845, lived on the Myndert's farm. The day was cold and stormy, rain and snow alternately falling. The party were endeavoring to secure the hogs, when six Indians, commanded by Walradt, a tory from the Mohawk valley, who had been watching their motions for sometime, secreted themselves in Mydert's barn near his dwelling.
After Lieut. Borst and his companions had been thus engaged, they repaired to the house, wet and cold, to warm themselves. On entering it, they set their guns in one corner of a room and gathered round the fire place, where was igniting a quantity of dry wood. At this time the enemy entered the dwelling, and so suddenly, that not one of the party could seize a gun in time to fire. Borst snatched up his, but in attempting to turn around to discharge it, he was prevented by an Indian who had anticipated his movement. Kneiskern seized a chair to strike one of the invaders, but the latter grappled it in the same instant. Seeing the foes nearly double their own number, with arms in their hands, the Americans surrendered themselves prisoners without further resistance. The latter were then bound, Borst and Kneiskern very tightly, some little plunder made, and all set forward on their journey to Canada. They proceeded to New Dorlach, a few miles distant, on their way toward the Susquehanna, and encamped for the night. Borst and Kneiskern, thinking their foes all asleep, were planning their destruction and their own escape, when an Indian, who had been watching their intimacy, approached and asked them what they were talking about ; and whether they did not contemplate killing their captors ? They replied that they were complaining of the cords being so tight they could not sleep. The Indians did not allow them an unguarded moment, and they found it impossible to escape.
It began to snow soon after they left Myndert's place, and the captives suffered very much on their journey from the severity of the weather, the want of proper food, and the cruelty of their masters. As they approached Indian settlements, they were compelled to run the gantlet, by which severe chastisement was inflicted on all, but the most severely on Borst, who fell into a decline soon after reaching Niagara, owing to his cruel treatment on the journey, and death soon after ended his miseries. Thus ignobly fell one of the most daring spirits Schoharie produced during the war. Kerker, who was confined with Borst, was a good nurse, and took care of the latter while lingering with consumption. Kneiskern, who was imprisoned on an island in the St. Lawrence, succeeded one night, in company with several other prisoners, in making their escape. They dug out beneath the pickets which inclosed the fort where they were confined, made a raft on which they floated down the river ; and one of the party, from fear the raft might not be sufficient to carry them in safety, swam eight or nine miles with but little support, his clothes being upon it, to where they effected a landing on the American shore. After suffering incredible hardships in the forest, living on birch bark, roots, etc., they arrived in safety among friends, where their wants were supplied, and they reached their homes.-Henry France and John M. Brown.
An Invasion of the Schoharie Valley.-About the 1st of November, 1781, a party of the enemy under Joseph Brant, and Capt. Adam Crysler, a former resident of that vicinity, entered Vrooman's Land early in the morning, near the residence of Peter Isaac Vrooman, a little distance from the Upper Schoharie fort. Isaac Vrooman, father of Peter, who then lived on the now Philip B. Lawyer farm, had removed his family below the Helleberg some time before, and had, at the time of which I am writing, visited his son to procure his aid in moving his family back to his old residence in Schoharie. A few days before the arrival of his father, Peter I., who lived nearly half a mile below, had removed from a hut he occupied at the fort, to his dwelling, which he intended should be his winter quarters, thinking the season so far advanced that the enemy would not re-appear that fall.
Peter was a self-taught blacksmith, and had a little shop near his house, where he usually did his own horse-shoeing. It was found necessary, previous to leaving home, to set several shoes ; and the father rose before day-light, carried a shovel of coals from the house to the shop, and made a fire. As it began to get light, the old gentleman left the shop, as was supposed, to call his son. On his way two guns were fired at him-the one by the Tory chieftain, and the other by an Indian warrior beside him. The door of Vrooman's dwelling was on the side opposite the shop, and the son, already up, hearing the report of two guns, and rightly conjecturing the cause, sprang out of his house and ran towards the fort a few hundred yards distant. He had gone but a short distance when he was discovered, fired upon, and hotly pursued by several Indians, but reached the fort in safety.
The wife of the younger Vrooman, on hearing the guns, ran up stairs, and from a chamber window saw an Indian in the act of tearing off the scalp of the elder Vrooman, who was then on his hands and knees, bellowing most piteously. After the scalp was torn off, the Indian, who was the reader's old acquaintance, Seth's Henry, dispatched his victim with a war club, cut his throat, and the bloody knife added another notch on the club, to the record of scalps he had taken in the war ; after which he laid it upon the body of the murdered man and left him. The reader will remember that this Schoharie chief left a war-club in the same neighborhood some time before, which recorded a most startling account of his prowess and cruelty ; the record was much larger at a later period, and I think it hardly possible that an equal number of scalps and prisoners were made during the war by any other individual Indian. When the enemy entered Vrooman's house for plunder, Mrs. Vrooman went below, and being known to several of the Indians, she addressed them in their own dialect, and they spared her life.
From motives of policy she had to receive the proffered hand of a foeman, although bloody from the act named. With two small children, one on her back and the other in her arms, she was allowed to flee to the fort, some 80 rods below. A negro lad belonging to the family some 10 years old, the Indians claimed as a prisoner. He caught hold of Mrs. Vrooman's dress and imploringly enquired if he could not go with mistress? Her sensibilities were severely tested ; but she knew it would be useless to importune a foe that had not a moment to waste, and she gently relaxed his hold and said to him : " Perhaps you'd, better go with them !" He did, and she never saw him again. Hearing several guns after her husband left the house, she supposed him to have been slain ; but he had escaped their bullets and they were happily reunited.
The invaders did not linger long in the vicinity of the fort, but advanced up the river, appropriating to their own use whatever was attainable. Soon after the arrival of Peter Vrooman, a party of 15 or 20 were dispatched from the fort in pursuit of the foe, of whose numbers they were totally ignorant. Who commanded this American scout is unknown, but Timothy Murphy had its principal direction. They proceeded with alacrity along the eastern shore of the Schoharie, and when on " Bouck's Island," a few rods above the residence of the late Gov. Bouck, they were fired upon by the enemy, who were concealed on the bank of the river above Panther mountain, and one of their number, Derrick (Richard) Haggidorn, mortally wounded. The Americans returned the fire and retreated. On this occasion, Murphy and Peter Hager were under cover of a large black oak tree, where, as Murphy made a shot, he dryly remarked : "Chaw that if you please!" As Haggidorn fell, he called to his companions not to leave him to a merciless foe ; whereupon Murphy addressed his brave comrades-nearly as follows : "My boys, every ball was not moulded to hit, let us save him.*" He was then taken between two of his friends and borne off in safety to the fort, where he died the next day, much lamented, as he had been a patriot and faithful soldier.
Whether the enemy received any injury from the return fire of Murphy and party was unknown ; but not long after, Jacob Fremire, a soldier who was out on a hunt from the Upper fort, found the body of a white man sitting against a tree, with his
* The remark of Murphy, that " every bullet was not moulded to hit," was peculiarly applicable to his own case He was almost constantly exposed in border wars from the beginning to the close of the Revolution, ever seeking the post of danger- the front rank, if an enemy was near, and probably, at the lowest estimate, had several hundred bullets fired at him by good marksmen, without ever receiving the slightest wound. To look back on the multiplied dangers he passed through, without injury-but a few of which have come down to the writer in a tangible form-It would almost seem as though fortune had her particular favorites After the above was published in 1845, Judge Hager assured the writer, that he was one of the pursuing party at this time, and that he made the remark accredited to Murphy-" that every bullet was not moulded to hit." Mr. Hagar was a man of truth.
gun and equipments by him ; supposed to have been a tory under Crysler, and to have been mortally wounded by the scout on Bouck's Island : the appearance of the body justifying the belief that he had been dead about that length of time. The dead man, who had been shot through the body, was found a mile or more from where the skirmish had taken place, near where a brook intersected the mill stream known as Bouck's saw-mill creek ; the brook was afterwards called "dead man's creek." As the enemy were concealed, their number was still unknown on the return of Murphy and party, but enough having been seen and heard to judge somewhat correctly of their strength, Col. Vrooman dispatched Capt. Hager with 15 or 20 Schoharie rangers, and a company of eastern troops, numbering about sixty men, under Capt. Hale. The command of the Americans was given to Capt. Hager, who, taking two or three days' provisions, moved up the river. The enemy, as was afterwards ascertained, numbered between 60 and 70 Indians and tories, under the command of Brant and Crysler. One of the principal objects of the invasion was the removal to Canada of Crysler's family, which, up to this time had remained in Brakabeen.
Capt. Hager halted his men just at dark near the late Wm. Finck place, in Blenheim, where they encamped in a pine grove beside the road. The night was a very cold one, and the troops suffered considerably, deeming it imprudent to build fires in the night near an enemy whose strength they did not know.* Three hours before the dawn of day, the pursuit was renewed : and near the residence of the late Gen. Patchin, the Americans ascended the mountain by a narrow and uneven road ; over-hung by a heavy growth of hemlock. As the night was cloudy and dark, the progress of the troops was necessarily slow. On arriving at the forks of the roads which led, one to Harpersfield and the other to Lake Utsayantho, they halted, struck up fires and ate breakfast : it being then about daylight. It was discovered that the enemy had gone towards the lake, and a consultation
* Johan Jost Dietz and Peter Vrooman, the former a Colonel and the latter a Major of militia after the war, were left at the place of encampment, in charge of a keg of rum and a quantity of provisions, to await the return of the troops; and well did they perform their duty, as they assured the writer when together in 1837; being unable a part of the time to leave the trust if they would-for, lest others who liked " the striped pig " should fall in with them and bear off the keg, they had secured a liberal share of its contents within their own stomachs.
now took place between the officers about the road to be pursued. Capt. Hager was in favor of making a rapid march on the Harpersfield route and, if possible, head the enemy at a favorable place for surprise ; but was overruled and the trail of the enemy followed.
Capt. Hager had pursued the enemy but a short, distance on the Lake road, before their approach was known to the latter, who made preparations to receive them. About a mile from the place of breakfasting, they met two of Capt. Hager's horses hoppled together, which the enemy had taken the preceding day. The Captain who was walking in front of his men at the time, with the cautious Murphy beside him, stept up to the horses and cut the cord which fastened them together. They had proceeded but a little way farther, when they heard the whoop of several savages, whom they supposed were in search of the horses. A rapid march soon brought the Americans where the enemy had encamped the previous night; seven large fires being yet burning. Several horses laden with plunder and a number of cattle were abandoned by the Indians near the fire.
On arriving at the lake, the road, which was little more than an Indian foot path, ran along its margin. A ridge of land extended nearly to the lake where the Americans were approaching, and as they were rising the eminence, the enemy who were concealed near its summit, discharged upon them a volley of balls. The instant they fired, Capt. Hager commanded Hale, who was marching in the rear to " flank to the right and march on !" Hager intended to bring the enemy between his command and the lake ; but Hale, instead of obeying the order, faced to the right about, and followed by his men with one noble exception, retreated in double-quick time. Brant and his destructives seeing the cowardly retreat of Hale and his men, advanced to meet Hager-, who was left with less than 20 men to resist a force more than triple his own. The little band had taken trees, and were beginning to return the enemy's fire at the time Hale retreated ; but seeing that they must soon be entirely surrounded, if they attempted to maintain their position, their brave leader ordered a retreat. On leaving the ground, they were necessarily exposed to the fire of the enemy, and Sacket, a Bostonian (the exception of Hale's men), sealed his bravery with his blood, as did Joachim Van Valkenberg,* one of Capt. Hager's followers. Joseph, a brother of Capt. Hager was also wounded severely in the right shoulder, but the ball was extracted and he subsequently recovered. It was thought by the Americans at the time a most providential circumstance, that, exposed as they were in their retreat to the fire of so many good marksmen, only two should have been killed. Capt. Hager, with Murphy still at his side, then ran to overtake the cowardly Hale ; and after a chase of about 500 yards overtook him; as both of them gained his front, they placed the muzzles of their rifles at his breast, and the Captain in a voice of thunder exclaimed : " Attempt to run another step and you are a dead man ! "
Thus unexpectedly brought to a stand, Hale, at the order of Capt. Hager, which he was not in the situation a second time to misunderstand, faced about and began to retrace his steps. But the golden moment to punish the invaders of Schoharie and avenge the murder of Vrooman was past. Brant, to whom possibly the actual force under Capt. Hager was known, having, as before remarked, a French war acquaintance with the latter, and knowing what resistance he might expect if a stand was effected by him, chose, encumbered as he was with Crysler's family, to make a rapid march to the Susquehanna. The two soldiers who fell near the lake were scalped by the foe.
Having restored order and infused a share of his own fearless spirit into his ranks, Capt. Hager was about to renew the pursuit as Col. Vrooman arrived upon the ground, with 40 men drawn from the Lower fort. After a short consultation, the chase was continued, but still in ignorance as to the enemy's numbers ; after proceeding about two miles and losing all trace
* The following anecdote was related to the author by Lydia Kline a sister of Van- Valkenberg. Among the Indians who returned to Schoharie after the war, was one who called at the house of Henry, a brother of Van Valkenberg above named, having with him a gun. Henry instantly recognized the gun as that of his deceased brother, and taking it up he asked the Indian where be got it He replied that he had killed a man at the ' Little lake,' and thus obtained it. Said Henry, " This is my gun, and I shall keep it." The red man wan unwilling to concede that point. It being as he believed a lawful prize from the fortune of war. Henry however retained the gun, and told the Indian to take it from his grasp and he should have it. Mortified at thus losing his gun, the Indian left the house and went into a swamp near by. Not long after this event the body of a dead Indian was discovered in this swamp, but the cause of his death, or by whose hand he had fallen, remained among the mysteries of the times.
of their footsteps, they having left the usual path for some unknown route, the pursuit was abandoned, and the troops returned to Schoharie.-Manuscript of Judge Hager, one of the pursuing party.
In the latter part of the war, supposed in the year 1781, six tories, who had threaded the forests from Niagara to Schoharie in the hope of making a profitable adventure, were concealed in and around the settlements for a week or more. They were led by Nicholas Snyder, a former resident of the valley and neighbor of my informant Jacob Enders, whose person they thought to secure. The party were secreted in a small swamp several days, near the dwelling of William Enders, his father, on Foxescreek. After waiting in vain nearly a week for a sight of Jacob's person, two of the number dressed in Continental clothes, went to the house of Enders, and supposed to be patriots, were very kindly treated ; they enquired of Mr. Enders, while partaking of his hospitality, if he had no sons to aid him in his farming ? He replied that he had a son, who was then in the nine month's service at the Middle fort.
Mortified at being thus foiled in their attempts, the Tories then sought to surprise and capture Capt. Stubrach, to effect which they laid in wait for him sometime under a bridge in Kneiskern's dorf ; but the Captain was not to be caught napping, and the enterprise proved abortive.
Destruction of Warwarsing.-" Early in the morning of Sept. 22, 1781, a party of Indians and Tories, consisting of about 400, entered the beautiful settlement of Warwarsing, situated on the great road leading from Minisink to Esopus, about 35 miles from the former. At their first coming to the place they were hailed by a sentinel, who was at the gate of a piquet fort, where a Sergeant's guard was kept (which were the only soldiers in that quarter) ; they not making any answer, induced the sentinel to fire and run within the fort, which alarmed the garrison. The enemy kept up a constant fire upon the fort for some time, but without effect, and at last retired in confusion, with the loss of three killed and two wounded. They then proceeded to burning and plundering the place. The inhabitants being alarmed by the firing at the fort, all made their escape except John Kittle, whom they killed. The loss of these poor people was very great ; the fate of an hour reduced them from a state of ease and affluence to want and beggary. Thirteen elegant dwelling houses, with all their out-buildings and furniture ; 14 spacious barns, filled with wheat; besides barracks, stables, stacks of hay and grain, were all consumed. Between 60 and 70 horses, mostly very fine ; a great number of cattle, sheep and hogs, were driven off. Col. Pawling, getting intelligence of the above, immediately collected about 200 New York levies and militia, and pursued about 40 miles, but was not able to overtake them. It appeared that they fled in confusion, as they left a considerable quantity of plunder behind them in many places. By a white man who has been with them three years, and made his escape while Warwarsing was in flames, we learn that this party was from Niagara, and that they were four weeks and three days on their way ; that they were exceedingly distressed for want of provisions, insomuch that they ate up their pack-horses and dogs. He adds that the garrison of Niagara was in a melancholy situation for the want of provisions and the necessaries of life, and that the tories there most bitterly execrate the day they were deluded by the tyrant's emissaries to take up arms against their native country." From the Connecticut Journal of Oct. 11, 1781. See His. Coll. of N. Y., p. 560.
A Mutiny in the Connecticut Line.-There was a mutiny at the winter encampment of the Connecticut troops, in the spring of 1781 ; then numbering about 300 men, under Colonels Webb and Hunter. It was at a place called Budd's Huts near West Point. The mutineers resolved to go to Hartford, demand pay for past services ; and if not paid to burn the capitol. The meeting was planned, when the soldiers and non-commissioned officers were on the " Grand Parade " to play ball. One of the sergeants named Baker, expecting to get a liberal reward, revealed the conspiracy to Col. Webb. When the midnight gun was fired, every man was to be ready, with his arms and provisions, to march. On learning the design, Col. Webb stationed a sentinel at each tent door, which notified the malcontents that they were betrayed. In the morning 17 sergeants were arrested and confined. One of them, a smart young man named Gaylord, from Norwalk, Ct., who was not a soldier, but was there as a substitute for his brother for a short time; and coming there about this time, was looked upon as a leading conspirator. He was importuned to turn State's evidence. "No," he replied, " I would rather lose my life than see a dozen others lose theirs."
He was tried, condemned, and hung at West Point, and was only 11 years old. He was the only one executed and the rebellion was quelled. Capt. Eben Williams, who witnessed his execution, said the mutineer ascended a ladder with a noose around his neck, when the ladder was turned over and he was soon in eternity. Noble fellow ! It seems a pity that one so young, and so willing to die for his friends, should thus have been sacrificed. Said our Saviour : "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend." Baker was given a pass into the country to keep him from the revenge of his offended comrades.-Elishu Bache, who belonged to the Connecticut artillery and was there at the time.
Captivity of Jacob Stauring and his Children.-The Massassauga Indian who captured young Windecker, joined another expedition in 1778, only a few days after the latter was initiated into his family, where he had to adopt the Indian custom, its destination being to the Herkimer settlements. I do not know the strength of this party or the scenes it enacted, except in the capture of a family of Staurings on the farm for many years known as Judge Jacob Marcle's place, in Snell's Bush. Some time in the month of May, Jacob Stauring, with his sons Jacob and George, and daughter Lana (Magdalena), were engaged in planting corn, when they were surprised by the enemy and taken to Canada. We suppose the house to have been pillaged, but what else the party accomplished I am not informed. One of the captors was the Massassauga previously mentioned, who claimed for his undivisible interest in the captives, the person of Miss Lana, a beautiful girl of charming proportions, then about 16 years of age.
In due time, the party reached Canada, and Stauring and his sons were surrendered for the accustomed reward to the authorities on Buck's Island. Not so with the bewitching Lana. She was taken to the home of her captor, where she was required to don Indian attire and become his wife. My informant, Windecker, was still in the family. Whether the unwonted charms of the maiden had disturbed the warrior's mind, or whether by his kind treatment while threading the forest he had won upon her esteem, so that affection had anything to do with the match we cannot say. But certain it is, she neither pined away or committed suicide. After she had been a month or more domesticated in her novel relationship, her detention among the Indians became known, and she was required at Montreal; and to remove her more effectually from the Indians, she was taken off among Canadians, where she soon after married, as her friends in captivity learned, and ever after remained in Canada. Her father and brothers lived to return to the Mohawk valley.
Many are the offences for which John Smith is indictable ; among them is that of one John Smith for inducing certain prisoners at Montreal to enlist into the British service. Several of them enlisted, as is believed, to enhance their prospect for their escape. Of this number was John Garter, the Snyders Bush miller; Suffrenes Dygert, and one Hapley, of the Herkimer settlements ; the two latter from the south side of the river near Little Falls. In attempting a midnight escape, the fugitives were discovered by the water-guard not far from the fort, brought back and flogged as deserters. Garter, whose punishment was the most severe, received a thousand stripes save one. He was literally flayed, but survived to be transported for life, never again to see his family.
In the summer of 1782, at which time hostilities had nearly ceased, a party of American prisoners at Rebel Island resolved clandestinely to leave Canada. Their names were John Lour, Andrew Fine, an elderly man named Evertson, Dennis McGraw, one Poonsock, and a German whose name is now forgotten. Initiated into their secret intent, Windecker determined to join them. With what preparations they could make by husbanding rations, etc., they crossed the river in the night in a canoe and trusted to fortune. Mc Graw was the only one who could secure a gun and a few charges of ammunition. With this he shot two young bears, which, with a few fish caught at different times, kept their larder from barrenness. At Kingston-Caturoqua there was an old French fort there-the party got canoes, in which, after six days' ride, they floated to some point on Salmon creek, from whence they footed it home, arriving in the Mohawk valley, after a journey of 14 days. Windecker had been gone about four years and three months.
Abram Wohleber -Loses a Double Scalp or two Crowns.- Among the many sufferers in the German settlements of Herkimer county, was Abram Wohleber. While engaged in some duty, May 28, 1781, a mile or two south of Fort Herkimer, he was knocked down and scalped by the enemy. A day or two after he was discovered by friends, faint from the loss of blood and want of food, vainly endeavoring to mount a horse ; upon which he had contrived to place a bark halter. His face was bloody and disfigured, on which account he was at first taken for an Indian, and came near being dispatched by his friends. Under proper treatment he recovered and lived several years after the war. John, a brother of his, was killed in the Oriskany battle. Another brother, named Peter, was wounded in one arm and made a prisoner by the French and Indians, at the Invasion of German-Flats, in November, 1757. Dr. Petrie's account, which enables me to fix the date of this event, says that "two scalps," meaning two crowns, were taken from Wohleber's head at one time. This was occasionally done on a head that had two crowns. Of this kind was the head of Col. Fr. Visscher, yielding two scalps for a double bounty. As appears by Petrie's account, Nathan Shoemaker was wounded by a ball in the breast on the same day. Wohleber was under the surgeon's care for a whole year.-From David Wohleber, a grandson of Peter, corroborated.
A Thrilling Incident.-At some period of the war, believed in the invasion of 1781, a squad of American prisoners confined in a Canadian prison, having several guns and a few charges of ammunition, made their escape and threaded their way through the wilderness of northern New York, toward its frontier settlements. They were not successfully pursued, and for a few days, while their ammunition lasted, they supplied their larder with small game, and progressed rapidly ; but out of food they began to weary, and one after another had fallen in the rear-possibly to perish-when, by an unlooked for event, the remainder of the party, some five or six, were relieved in the following remarkable manner : Faint and nearly famished, they had halted in a ravine to rest, on one side of which towered a bold bluff : 100 feet high. Suddenly the attention of the wanderers was arrested by a rustling noise, and upon a shelf of the mountain they saw a large bear enter a hole, and come out with something in its mouth, which, at a little distance, it began to devour. In the next moment a panther was seen to enter the opening, and from it went screaming in the direction the bear had taken, and which was devouring one of its kittens.
The trunk of a large tree on the crag projected over the precipice, and, to escape its foe, the bear sprang up the tree, but had not reached a limb of any size when the panther alighted upon its back. The bear dropped the kitten to defend itself, and then a terrible fight ensued. While that was progressing, the unarmed men provided themselves with clubs from the old timber about them, and stood ready, if the animals fell below, to dispatch them. Long and fearful was the bloody struggle, in which both animals were torn and bleeding, but at length the hold of the bear relaxed and the exhausted animals fell heavily upon the rocks below, where they were easily dispatched by the anxious fugitives. A fire was quickly kindled and a portion of the bear was soon cooking for the starving party ; which, thus providentially fed, resumed its journey and arrived safely at a frontier settlement.
I learned this interesting story of an old gentleman at Northville, N. Y., in 1851 ; an uncle of whom was one of the prisoners thus miraculously fed. The old soldier was from Massachusetts, and after the war settled near Fort Edward, but who, for a number of years before his death, resided with my informant. I regret a minute of this affair has been mislaid, as it contained the names of both uncle and nephew. I think, however, the former was Belknap.
The Capture of Cornwallls and his Army.-In May, 1781, at a council of the French and American officers, held at Wethersfield, Conn., a project was formed to attempt the recovery of New York city, but circumstances caused a change in the programme, and the destination of the American and French armies was so judiciously concealed from Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander at New York, that Washington was treading a southern soil, when that officer was anticipating an attack on his own quarters, wholly unaware of the changing drama. The siege of Yorktown, which was strongly fortified, began about the 1st of October, and on the 19th, Cornwallls and his army were prisoners of war to the allied army, with a park of 160 pieces of artillery, mostly brass. The surrender embraced 6,500 effective land troops, 2,000 men in the naval service and over 3,000 tories and negroes. The naval force was assigned to the Count de Grasse, and the land forces and other prisoners to Gen. Washington.
The loss of a second entire army carried consternation to Great Britain, and told her people " in lines that he who ran might read," that her 13 United Colonies were forever loosed from her apron-strings ; while, as the tidings rang through the land from State to Slate, a shout of joy went up that swelled every patriotic heart with gratitude. Joyous festivals and public thanksgivings were the order of the day.
Surrender of Cornwallis, How first Known at Philadelphia.-Col. Tench Tilghman,
an aid of Washington, was dispatched to Congress with the joyful intelligence
that Cornwallis and his army were prisoners of war ; as that body was then
sitting in the " city of brotherly love." He arrived about three
o'clock, A. M., and soon after the important event was publicly heralded in
the following unique manner. A German watchman shouted-" 'Tis basht dre
on der glock, und Cornwallis ish daken ! " The glad tidings were caught
up by another guardian of city slumber, and their cry fell upon a patriot's
ear here and there, who dashed up their windows, and, assured that the agreeable
news was brought by a messenger from the allied army ; a shout rang out upon
the night air, such as seldom ever greeted the drowsy ears of Philadelphians.
In the morning the following street dialogue took place in the same city between
two sable friends : " Look a here Sambo, you hear de news las night ?"
" No, Pete, what is urn ?"
" Cobwalley ish daken !" "
" Yah, yah, yah, I pose you mean Cornwalley-not darkey?"
" No Sambo, saucy niggar, I mean so I say. He be Cornwalley once, but Gen. Washington he shell de corn all off, and now him poor Cobwalley. Yah, yah, yah !" Exit.-Capt. Eben Williams.
Incidents Attending the Seige and Surrender of Yorktown.- The firing on the British works did not commence until the Americans had completed a line of redoubts and bomb-batteries so as to enfilade the enemy's fortifications at Little Yorktown, and play on the greater part of them at once. The allied army had raised a liberty pole with a flag upon it. When word ran round the camp that all was ready, the cannoneers stood at their guns-many of large calibre-with linstocks on fire, and at a given signal from Washington, a hand grenade was sent up by a skyrocket near the liberty pole, and on its explosion in the air, the cannon were discharged. Dr. Thacher, in his Military Journal, says Gen. Washington applied the first match. The simultaneous discharge of such an array of ordnance, was perhaps never heard before ; and nothing in the night could exceed the sublimity of the concussion. In the language of my informant who was present: "It seemed as though the world was at an end-or that the heavens and the earth were coming together."-Nicholas Hill, in 1846.
Two British Redoubts, how Stormed.-During the siege of that plane by the American and French armies, two strong redoubts of the enemy were carried ; the one on the bank of the river by American light infantry under Gen. Lafayette, and the other by French grenadiers under the Baron de Viomenil. To divide the attention of the enemy while the redoubts were being stormed, Col. Laurens, who had recently returned from a foreign embassy, was required, as his first military duty, to select two trusty Captains, each with 40 chosen men from Scammel's corps of infantry (10 from a company), and march in between the redoubts. Captain Williams, of the Massachusetts line, and Betts, of the Connecticut, were the two officers chosen for this honorable task. A heavy fire was opened from both redoubts and the army in front upon the troops under Laurens; but it was illy directed, and soon silenced after an entrance was forced by the forlorn hope; and what is surprising, not one of Laurens' command was either killed or- wounded. Opposition had nearly ceased when Laurens and his men entered the redoubt carried by the American infantry. Charles Miller, an Irish Lieutenant, and the bringer up of the fourth platoon under Williams, was a very large man, and could not enter the passage forced. Said he to his comrades : " My lads, take me on your bayonets and toss me in ! " Said Betts to Williams, as Britain's flag gave place to the stripes of liberty: "This is the 13th engagement I have been in during the war, and this is the best of them all." Those redoubts were carried on the 14th of October.- Capt. Williams.
A Lucky Mistake and fate of a brave man.-At some period of the seige a bomb-battery of the enemy, situated not far from York river, was carried by a party of Americans in the night, who entered as their foes left it. A detachment of American troops arriving after its capture, supposing it still occupied by the British, discharged their pieces in at the entrance, but most fortunately no one was injured within, and a pleasing recognition took place immediately after. The next day the enemy opened upon the lost battery, a heavy cannonade from one of their inner works. A board projected from an exposed part of it, which was a source of inconvenience to its new occupants, and an axe was procured with which to cut it off. A temporary silence prevailed, when Christopher Van Voast, a native of Schenectada, snatched up the axe, and exclaiming " You'r all a pack of d-d cowards ! " sprang up, as a volunteer, to do it. He raised the axe, but ere it had descended to the board a cannon shot passed through his body, cutting it nearly in two. About the same time an American soldier named Smith, was observed to fall near the battery, and on going to him his fellows found he was dead. There was no external mark of injury about him, but on examining his head, the skull was found broken in as was determined by a surgeon, from atmospheric concussion, caused by the passage of a cannon shot near it. Mr. Hill, said he did not believe the skull was thus fractured, but supposed the injury to have proceeded from the sudden fall upon the ground.-Nicholas Hill.
For the want of forage at Yorktown, the enemy killed off their horses during the siege, 600 or 700 hundred of which says Dr. Thacher, were seen floating down the river. When the Americans entered Yorktown, they saw quite a number of those noble animals lying dead with their throats cut-as Paddy would say-to save their lives.
Surrender of the British colors at Yorktown.-In 1845, I published briefly the facts concerning the surrender of those British standards, as I was so fortunate a few years before as to meet with James Williamson, an orderly sergeant of New York troops, who was there and who, as he assured me, received one-half of those standards, furled and laid them down. Soon after, meeting Capt. Eben Williams, of the Massachusetts troops, who was there on the occasion, I enquired of him how it came that orderly sergeants received the British colors at Yorktown. Said he, it was the custom at that period on the surrender of an army, for subaltern officers, a lieutenant or an ensign-usually the latter-to bear the standards and deliver them to officers of the same grade ; and formerly, a flag was called an ensign, probably because carried by that officer. Supposing this would be done here, two ensigns who had distinguished themselves there, were designated for this duty, one of whom was named Wilson, the other name is forgotten. It was expected the enemy would advance in column between files of the victors as they did-flags being borne upon each aide of their column-hence the reason for selecting two officers to receive them.
Said /caot, Williams, when the vanquished troops were getting in line and nearly ready to start on their disagreeable errand, it was discovered that their colors were in the hands of orderly sergeants instead of subaltern?, a fact quickly communicated to the American officers of the day; who supposed the intention was, by surrendering the standards through non-commissioned officers to our ensigns, to cast obloquy upon our troops ; and quickly they cast about and found two orderly sergeants to receive the standards, who had distinguished themselves since the siege began, viz: James Williamson, and Sergeant Brush, of a Connecticut regiment, both of whom had been wounded during the siege. Williamson assured the writer, that when the first flag approached him, he stepped forward and commanded the bearer to halt, adding, "Sir, I will receive your standard." The British orderly halted, hesitated a moment as if disappointed, and then gracefully handed over the humbled ensignia and passed on. Said the old patriot: " When the troops had all passed, I had quite a pile of standards," but he claimed to have received only the half of those surrendered.
The above statement I had corroborated by other soldiers who witnessed that interesting ceremony ; and one thing is certain, that either my friend Lossing, in his Pictorial Field Book, is wide of the mark or I must be, when he said 28 British Captains bore the colors and delivered them to Ensign Wilson, who in turn handed them to 28 American sergeants. Lossing has depicted this scene as he describes it in a beautiful engraving ; but I fail to recognize a feature in it as the scene was described to me by those present. I had supposed that more than the number mentioned by Lossing, changed ownership on that occasion. True, Dr. Thacher speaks of their surrendering 18 German and 10 British regimental standards ; but were there no company flags in all that host of troops ? and were not all the standards of the army surrendered at the same point, and to the same persons ; or, have I been misinformed? What became of the naval flags ? Were they delivered to the French naval officers ? The loss of the allied army, in men, during the siege, was 277 in killed and wounded, and that of the enemy was 549. The honor of bearing the standards to Congress, was entrusted to Col. David Humphreys, an officer who stood high in the estimation of Washington.
Again, other errors have crept into history respecting the surrender at Yorktown. A beautiful picture intended to represent the surrender of the British army at Yorktown-imaginary of course as all of this kind of pictures are-is made the fronticepiece of Howe's Historical Collections of Virginia, published in 1849, and represents the British officers heading the column as advancing on foot. I was particular to ask Capt. Williams, whether the enemy all advanced on foot. No, was the reply, all officers entitled to ride were mounted ; and I don't believe, said the captain, that any officer of either army who had a horse was on foot on that day ; and Dr. Thacher remarked on the occasion : " Being on horseback, I anticipate a full share of satisfaction in viewing the movements in the interesting scene." Mr. Lossing says, Gen. O'Hara, who surrendered the army for Cornwallis, surrendered the sword of the latter. This is the first intimation I have seen that O'Hara wore two swords on that day. If the army was to be delivered over by proxy, what necessity for any sword but his own.
Reception of the Sword.-It has often been asked why Lord Cornwallis* did not make the surrender of his army in person. In May 1780, Gen. Lincoln, at Charlestown, had been compelled to make a surrender to Cornwallis, and knowing that he was with the allied army and his equal in rank, he rightly divined that he would be obliged to receive in turn from the same man, the measure he had meted-hence instead of facing the circumstances he pretended sickness, so all early writers say and so said men who were present, and deputed Gen. O'Hara, the only officer of equal rank in his army, to perform the disagreeable duty which he did with marked ability. Col. Abercrombie, also -well mounted, led the left wing of the vanquished army. I have seen a cut representing the sword delivery, in which Lincoln and O'Hara were shown as having dismounted for the
* As Sir Henry Clinton was in chief command before Charleston, some deny that Lincoln surrendered his sword to Cornwallis. As Clinton did not consider Lincoln his equal in rank, It would seem no more surprising that he should depute Cornwallis, the equal of Lincoln to receive his surrender; than that Washington, who was above O'Hara in position, should have delegated Lincoln-O'Hara's equal, to receive his surrender. The officers of the Revolution would naturally have known the truth in the matter, and Capt. Williams, who was an intelligent, observing and conscientious man, said, Lincoln made his surrender to Cornwallis. I have no motive to falsify history; but would fain render to all Caesars their just deserts. It was a current expression among Revolutionary men that Lincoln was delegated to receive the humiliation of Cornwallis, as the latter had been that of the former.
ceremony; but this could not have been BO. Said Capt. Williams who was standing near them, Gen. O'Hara was elegantly mounted, and as he approached Gen. Washington, the latter politely motioned him toward Gen. Lincoln, quite a large man and rather ungainly in appearance ; but, said my informant, he received, reversed and returned the proffered weapon to O'Hara, with a dignity and grace of gesture he could not forget, for he had never seen it equaled.- Capt. Williams.
It seems most fortunate for the American cause, that Sir Henry Clinton was the British Commander-in-chief, with his headquarters at New York, instead of Cornwallis; as the shrewdness and energy of the latter would, probably, have detected the ruse of the Americans, and been upon their trail in time to have rescued the besieged British garrison at Yorktown. The truth is, just then, for the cause of civil liberty, the right man was in the right place in command at New York ; as was also the case in 1777, when Burgoyne was expecting his needed co-operation. Had Cornwallis been the British Commander-in-chief, the Americans stationed along the Hudson, would probably have made a more active record; for as Gen. Fraser was the soul of Burgoyne's command, so was Cornwallis in that of Sir Henry Clinton. The latter was an excellent officer where little fighting was to be done, the former when hard blows were to be struck requiring zeal and pluck. Cornwallis was a general favorite with the officers and men under his immediate command ; as was the case with Gen. McClellan with those under him in the late American Rebellion. He, more than any other American officer in the army, possessed the magnet that attached his command more firmly to his person, than were troops in the same time wedded to any other northern General, in that unholy war.
Here are several incidents attendant on the march of the American army to and from Yorktown.
Whipping in the Army.-At Baltimore, one Gregg, who belonged to Col. Cortlandt's regiment of New York troops, was flogged eight hundred lashes. Several complaints having been rendered to the colonel that the soldiers were stealing from each other ; in order to stop the habit effectually, he gave orders that the first one guilty of theft should receive fifty lashes for the value of every shilling stolen. A missing shirt was found shortly after in Gregg's knapsack, which two of his fellow soldiers adjudged to be worth two dollars. Poor Gregg was literally flayed. He lingered a long time between life and death, but finally recovered. It turned out in the end that a rascally soldier had stolen the garment, and placed it in Gregg's knapsack on purpose to see him flogged.-James Williamson, corroborated by Samuel Pettit.
Another Falsely Accused.-Cady Larey, an Irishman, one day stole a turkey, and put it in the knapsack of a fellow soldier named Berrian, also of Irish descent, expecting, no doubt, to feast on it. It was discovered, and Col. Cortlandt sentenced Berrian to receive a severe whipping for the theft. His back was bared, and as the lash was about to descend upon it, Larey, conscience-stricken, advanced into the ring and confessed the crime-declaring that if anyone deserved a flogging it was himself. The act of confession was so manly, that Col. C. forgave them both.- Williamson, corroborated by -N. Stoner.
Trustworthy.-All classes could safely be trusted with secrets in the Revolution. A cheese having one day disappeared in an unaccountable manner in a New England regiment, great search was made for it, but in vain. Among others examined was a faithful negro waiter to one of the officers, who was interrogated, and replied much as follows : " Jack, have you seen anyone steal a cheese ?" " No, masaa ; me no see anyone steal chee." "Have you seen a cheese in the hands of anyone?" "No, massa." "Well, Jack, have you seen any cheese?" " Why, ye-ye-yes massa, me see a chee go by, but nobody wid em."-Capt. Eben Williams.
A Soldier Drowned.-At Baltimore the regiment of Col. Cortlandt embarked in a vessel, and after the troops were all on board, the Colonel gave strict orders that no one should go on shore without his permission. The night following, Larey and Berrian, the two soldiers mentioned in another anecdote, yielded to a temptation to violate their officer's commands, which the love of liquor prompted, swam ashore. While returning to the ship, Larey was drowned, but his equally boozy companion was discovered floundering in the water, taken on board, and instantly cited before his commander. He confessed his guilt, and at the mention of his companions name began to cry. " Why do you cry ? " demanded the Colonel. " Because poor Larey was drowned," he replied, " for about his neck was tied a canteen-eh ! of as good brandy as ever a man tasted-eh." The Colonel finally forgave Berrian because of his penitence and great sorrow for the loss of his companion and the precious jewel about his neck-but admonished him and his fellow soldiers never to be guilty of another act of disobedience, if they would not share the fate of poor Larey, who could never drink his own brandy.- Williamson, corroborated by Stoner.
Stealing and Concealing a Watch.-On the return march of Col. Cortlandt's regiment from Yorktown, a gentleman near whose house it had encamped, complained in the evening to Col. C., that his watch had been stolen by a soldier. Secrecy was enjoined until the troops were paraded to march in the morning, when a rigid search was made of the person and knapsack of every soldier in the regiment, but the search was in vain, and the army moved forward. Some days after, the watch was discovered on the person of a soldier, who was publicly whipped for its theft. Exhibiting it exultantly afterwards, he exclaimed : " Who would not take a flogging for such a watch as this ? "
When asked how he had managed to conceal the watch, the rogue said he was about to bake a bread cake as he obtained it, and putting it within the dough, baked it in. The bread was in his knapsack when searched, but no one thought of breaking the loaf to find a concealed treasure.- Williamson and Stoner.
A National Celebration.-The centennial anniversary of the surrender of Cornwallis' army-the crowning event of the war was celebrated at Yorktown, Va., October 19, 1881, when the corner stone of a magnificent monument in design to rise 95 feet from the ground, to commemorate this important event, was laid with becoming ceremonies, in the presence of a great multitude of people. Distinguished guests were there from France, England and Germany. President Chester A. Arthur, and Secretary of State James G. Blaine, were conspicuous in the affair, the former delivering a brief address, and issuing an order through Secretary Blaine, for the American troops present to salute the British flag. In the procession were the Governors of 10 States and numerous distinguished guests and men of mark, prominent among whom were Gen. Hancock of the army, and Rear-Admiral Weyman, of the navy. Ex-Senator Withers was grand, marshal of the procession. Rev. Robert Nelson, invoked a blessing, and Gov. Holliday delivered an Oration. Senator Johnson, of Virginia, also gave an address, recognizing the old obligation of the country to France, in the hour of need. The Free Masons in large numbers performed the ceremony of laying the corner stone of the monument. A hymn written by Charles Poindexter was sung, as also was the centennial ode written by Paul H. Hayne, the latter by 300 voices. The Oration of the day was then given by Robert C. Winthrop, of Massachusetts, after which James B. Hope, of Virginia, read a poem, and music by the band closed the exercises. In the evening there was a grand display of fire works on York river, and a ball at Lafayette Hall. This national celebration of 50 millions of freemen, will have a tendency to obliterate national asperities and strengthen the bond of fraternal union.
Cobelskill Invaded.-About the 1st of September, 1781, a party of twenty or thirty of the enemy, mostly Indians, by whom led I have not been able to learn, entered the lower part of the Cobelskill settlement, which took in that part of the town now known as Cobelskill village, or the churches. The enemy, on entering the settlement, surprised and killed George Fremire, and captured his brother, John Fremire, with George Fester, Abraham Bouck, a boy, John, Nicholas, Peter and William Ottman, brothers. After plundering and burning the dwellings and out-buildings which had escaped the enemy's visitation four years previous, they passed in the afternoon near the fort, then feebly garrisoned. As there was but little ammunition in the fort, few shots were fired upon the enemy, who did not incline to attack it. The dwelling of Jacob Shafer was picketed in, and a little distance outside the inclosure stood two large barns owned by him. Two Indians, with fire-brands, approached these barns, whereupon Shafer, declaring " My property is as dear as my life !" with gun in hand, left the fort, followed by Christopher King, a young man of spirit. As they advanced towards the barn-burners they gave a savage war whoop, drew up their guns, and fired; and the Indians, abandoning their design, showed their heels in rapid flight. That night the enemy stayed at the house of one Borst, which they burned in the morning, and soon after again passed near the fort, upon which several of them then fired, without, however, doing any injury. The enemy then disappeared, probably pursuing the usual southwestern route to Niagara. The treatment those prisoners received has not come to the knowledge of the writer, but it was undoubtedly of that character usually experienced by captives among the Indians-suffering from exposure, possibly torture, hunger, and the gauntlet.-Capt. George Warner (this old hero died April 4, 1844, aged 86 1/2 years), and Mrs. Elisabeth, wife of Tunis Vrooman, before named, who was in the Cobelskill fort when invaded.
A National Outlook.-The events of the year 1781, are among the most important during the war, and gave the seal to American independence. In the early part of the year, the southern States became the theatre of war, and Gen. Greene, who had succeeded Gates after his southern disasters, aided by Morgan, Lee, Marion, Sampler and other brave officers, fought many battles with skill and alternate success to the American arms. On the 19th of January, Generals Greene and Morgan met and defeated, with an inferior numerical force, mostly militia, Col. Tarleton with the flower of the British army. Not long after, Lee and Pickens-the latter a militia officer-fell in, by accident, near the branches of the Haw river, with a body of royalists on their way to join Col. Tarleton, and killed upwards of 200 of their number. On the 15th of March, Gen. Greene met Lord Cornwallis near Guilford Court House, and although victory several times perched upon the spangled banner, the Americans were finally compelled to retreat-with a loss, however, less than that of the victors. On the 25th of April, the battle of Camden was fought, between the armies under Gen. Greene and Lord Rawdon, when fortune again showed herself a fickle goddess-siding, in the latter part of the action, with the foes of freedom. The killed and wounded on each side was between 200 and 300. The vigilance of the prudent though daring Greene, and the spirit with which the British were everywhere met at the south by the yeomanry of the land, caused them, by the early part of June, to abandon nearly all of their line of military posts in the Carolinas, and concentrate their forces. Probably in no other section of the union were the friends of liberty and royalty more equally divided ; or was a spirit of bitter acrimony and rancorous hostility more vividly manifested during the war, than in the Carolinas in the summer of 1781. Indeed, many of their most valuable citizens were sacrificed in a spirit of partisan strife or retaliation. The last important engagement in South Carolina, took place on the eighth of September, at Eutaw Springs, between the troops under Gen. Greene and Lieut.-Col. Stewart. This was one of the most bloody battles during the war for the numbers engaged, and was fairly won by the Americans ; but in their retreat, a body of the British entering a large brick house, kept their pursuers in check until the officers could rally the fugitives ; who returned to the charge, and in turn compelled the Americans to retreat ; which was done in good order, and the wounded borne from the field. The armies were each 2,000 strong when the action began. The Americans lost in killed and wounded 500 men, and the enemy about 700.
Early in the season the traitor, Arnold, was sent with an army into Virginia. In this expedition, lie destroyed, by conflagration and otherwise, much property, public and private, at Richmond, Westham, Smithfield, and some other places. While the traitor was thus serving his new master, Washington concerted a plan for his capture-but the French fleet not co-operating with Gen. Lafayette, to whom was entrusted the enterprise, it proved abortive. Arnold was soon after superseded by Gen. Phillips, who sailed up James river, destroying much property at Boswell's Ferry, City Point, Petersburg and Manchester.
New London, Ct., Pillaged and Burned.-The traitor, Arnold, found his situation at the south growing unpleasant, and fearing he might fall into the hands of his enraged countrymen, he was permitted to return to New York. Chagrined at the turn affairs were taking at the south, when Washington's army was marching thither ; Sir Henry Clinton sent Arnold to destroy New London, in his native county-for he was born at Norwich, 14 miles above New London, on the river Thames. The town is situated on the west side of the river ; and its then defenses were Fort Trumbull- near it, and Fort Griswold, on an eminence on the opposite side of the river. The former fort being untenable, it was abandoned as was the town-its soldiers joining those at Fort Griswold, increasing its defenders to 160 men. The visit of Arnold was on the 6th of September, 1781. Lieut.-Col. William Ledyard, a brave and generous officer was in command of Fort Griswold, and in order more effectually to destroy the town, Arnold thought it necessary to capture that fort.
For this object, a large body of men under Leut.-Col. Eyre were dispatched ; but they were repelled with spirit by its inmates, mostly militia, from its vicinity. The Americans were too few to resist so large a force, and the works were finally carried ; but not until, according to Arnold's official account, 48 of the assailants were slain, and 145 wounded, many mortally.* Numbers were killed with cold shot thrown from the ramparts. The Americans lost but a few men until after the works were carried and they had grounded their arms, when about seventy of their number were brutally massacred, and nearly all the rest wounded ; several are said to have escaped injury by hugging British soldiers, so as to endanger the lives of the latter if those of the former were attempted. One man, who fled from the fort as the enemy entered, was shot at with some others also escaping, and falling uninjured, he remained in the grass feigning himself dead, until the enemy withdrew, when he joined his friends. As Maj. Montgomery entered the fort, (Col. Eyre, his superior, being wounded) he asked who commanded it. The noble Ledyard responded very civilly, " I once bad that honor, the command is now yours :" presenting at the same time the hilt of his sword. The brutal major seized it, and with the spirit of a demon, passed it through the vitals of the unarmed giver. + An American officer standing near him at the time, revenged the act by cutting down Montgomery, but was in turn slaughtered. The command of the
* At the Groton Centennial of this affair in September, 1881, it is stated that the American loss was 85 killed and 60 wounded. Holmes in his Annals says that about 40 Americans were taken along as prisoners-most of them were wounded.
+ In a room of antiquarian relics in Hartford, In 1875, I saw Ledyard's vest. It was originally of a white or light colored fabrics resembling Russia duck, and cut very long. The sword entering at the breast passed entirely through the body, leaving a blood stained hole in the back as in the front of the garment.
At Allyn's Point, on the Thames, between Norwich and New London, is a monument bearing this inscription : " In memory of Capt. Simeon Allyn, who died September 6, 1781, in Fort Griswold, with his Lieut., ensign and 13 soldiers, by traitor Arnold's murdering corps, in ye 37th year of his age."
enemy then devolved on Maj. Bloomfield.* The dastardly example of the officers was followed by an indiscriminate slaughter of the unresisting soldiery. "We talk of the savage massacres of Cherry Valley and Wyoming-here was a more than savage massacre, for it was committed by a people claiming to be civilized. In vindication of the British character, it has been stated that the Americans continued the fight after they had struck their colors. This however is not true ; the flag-staff upon the walls was more than once shot off by the enemy, but the flag was waving above them when they carried the fortress. A regiment of militia under Col. Gallup, who witnessed the whole transaction at a distance of one mile from the fort, would not march to its rescue. Had he led his men into the fort, as a sense of duty should have prompted, the British could not have taken it. Ledyard sent a messenger to Galiup to march into the fort to his assistance when the enemy were landing, but the latter pretended not to have received the message. Galiup was tried by court martial for his want of bravery on the occasion, and broken of his office.
The enemy while in possession of the fort, loaded an ox-cart which chanced to be near, with wounded Americans, and started it down the declivity with the intention of running it into the river, but it struck a large apple-tree after gaining considerable velocity, and thwarted their merciless intention. The shock when it struck was tremendous, and several of the bleeding soldiers were killed outright. Zeke Woodworth, a cousin of the writers father, who was in it at the time with a broken thigh, and was nearly killed by the shock, afterwards stated no one could conceive the acuteness of his suffering when the cart struck the tree. The enemy after burying their own dead, spiking or destroying the cannon, and laying a train of powder to the magazine, left the fort. The explosion was however prevented, as has been stated by some previous writer, by a wounded soldier who crawled upon the train, and saturated it
* Barber, in his His. Col. of Connecticut, states that Maj. Montgomery was killed while entering the fort, and that Capt. Bloomfield was the officer who killed Col. Ledyard But I have ever understood that an American avenged the death of his Colonel; and as Bloomfield survived, I think I have given the true version of this nefarious act. It is not improbable Montgomery was killed in the manner stated by Barber; by a spear in the hands of Jordan Freeman, a colored man. Some late writer has stated, though on what authority, is not named, that Col. Ledyard was assassinated by a refugee Col. named Beckwith, from New Jersey.
with his own life-blood so that it did not communicate with the magazine. The British burnt New London, destroyed some shipping in the harbor, and embarked for New York. Soon after they left the fort, the Americans in the neighborhood entered it. The former had buried their dead but slightly, with their clothes on. The Americans, who found it difficult to obtain clothing, dug up their dead foes ; divested them of their apparel; dug deeper graves, and again burned them; interring also their fallen countrymen. Facts from Ephraim F. Simms, of Otsego county, who obtained them at the request of the author, from Capt. Peckham Maine, a former resident of that county. The latter, then a lad, entered Fort Griswold soon after the enemy left it, and aided in stripping and burying the dead.
A Tory Exploit at Johnstown.-"When the Revolution began, there dwelt in the little settlement of Philadelphia Bush, east of Johnstown, a German named John Cough, a tory in principle. He was not a relative, I am assured, of George Cough, a whig living in the neighborhood. John Cough had a son, a name-sake grown up, who adopted his father's political creed, and when difficulties began he went to Canada with the Johnsons. Not unfrequently in the war the young tories from the Johnstown settlements returned to them clandestinely. Remaining concealed by their Tory friends in the day-time-which the nonintercourse observed between families of different politics favored-executing the objects of their mission nights; they were often about for days and sometimes weeks, and then returned to Canada without their Whig neighbors being any wiser for their visits. They did not always get off so well, however, as the following incident will show.
In October, 1781, says my informant, George Cough, Jr., of Philadelphia Bush, John Cough, Jr., Jacob Ross, a step-son of John Cough ; John and William Parker, brothers, of Philadelphia Bush, and Nicholas Shafer, of Johnson's Bush-west of Johnson Hall-visited the settlement and were about for a few days, in which time as Shafer told the father of my informant, when a prisoner in Canada, they were secreted on John Cough's premises, as the prisoner approached near them to cut a hoe-handle. He looked over a fence at a piece of his own grain, got the article sought, and returned home without discovering his foes-which recognition, Shafer assured him, would have cost him his life.
Desirous of doing some feat of which to boast in Canada, when these young men were about to return thither, they approached near the Johnstown fort and fired on a sentry. Their bullets whistled harmlessly through the night air, but the watchman with a steadier hand returned their salute, wounding Cough in his knee. This was unlooked for, and the party found they had " paid dearly for their bullets' whistle ;" but they lost no time, as the roll of the drum would soon turn out the garrison ; and snatching up their wounded comrade, they carried him as best they could to his father's dwelling-more than six miles distant, and situated in a by place a little off from the main road to Summer House Point. One of them then went to Dr. Barnhart, a German doctor in Albany Bush, and requested him to go slyly and see the sufferer. " No," said he, " I'll not do it ; I shall lose my head if I do ! Mrs. Frey, an old doctress, and several other Tory women, did what they could for three days, and told the father they could do no more for his son-feared the limb would mortify, and advised the patient's surrender at the fort. Mr. Cough had two small boys at home, one of whom on a horse started to bear the unwelcome intelligence to Johnstown. On his way he rode up to an open window of George Cough's dwelling, as he had been directed to, and said : " If you want to see our John, you can come over!" The boy stopped at John Mclntyre's, half way to town, and told him the nature of his errand, and that gentleman communicated the same to Capt. Littel, who was his son-in-law, and commanding the fort.
While George Cough and his family were trying to divine what the message of the lad could mean-suspecting some device was on foot to make him a prisoner-perhaps half an hour later, his Tory namesake came to his door much excited and told Mr. Cough, if he wanted to see his son John, to go over to his house.
See him, for what ? " interrogated the old patriot.
" He is wounded, and I am afraid he'll die," said the Tory in a faltering voice.
" Wounded, pray, how ? " inquired the lover of his country.
" By a party of whigs who were round, the house," replied the royalist.
" I guess more likely," said his neighbor, who had heard of the serenade at Johnstown, " he was wounded the other night at the fort." Mr. Cough proved a Yankee at guessing-his neighbor burst out crying and went directly home. His misfortunes were brought upon him in such a manner, as not to excite very warm sympathy in the breasts of those his son had come to destroy ; but the patriot went next morning to see the sufferer. That day Capt. Littel, also, with four Whigs, Henry and Stephen Shew, brothers ; David Putman and John Eikler,* proceeded to his home to arrest him. A novel litter was soon devised by placing rails on the opposite sides of two of the tory's horses, suspended by ropes across their backs, and fastening a bed between the horses to the ropes and rails. On this the prisoner was carried to the fort, and Stephen Shew, one of the attending guard, repeatedly urged the starting up of a horse to make the Tory groan, which he often did from pain. As the grotesque group neared the fort, Mrs. Kelley, wife of Henry Kelley +, then an American soldier, was heard to exclaim :
"There comes that d- Tory, who was going to kill us the other night."
When Capt. Littel went to arrest his son, John Cough kept out of the way, rightly supposing his own liberty in jeopardy, and directly after made a hasty flight to Canada. Whether he went alone, or with the party which came with his son, and may have lingered in the vicinity is unknown. The family all removed thither the following winter. John Cough, Jr., was cured of his wound, and went to Canada in the fall of 1782, being included in the general exchange of prisoners. He took a wife in Canada soon after his return ; and in conjugal felicity possibly forgot he had done two things worth remembering-fired on a sentinel at midnight, and expatriated himself from one of the best countries in the world.
* Eikler had married Susan Ross, a daughter of John Cough's wife by a former marriage. This accounts for old Mr. Eikler having been set at liberty by his captors in 1878. (Note: This says 1878, perhaps this is a typo. ajb)
+ In the summer of 1778, Kelley tended the Mayfleld grist mlll. One day while a grist was grinding Kelley and his wife were fishing at a little distance from the mill, and discovering Indians approaching they fled and escaped. In a short time the mill was on fire and burnt down; but whether fired by the enemy or its own friction is unknown.-Cough.
Tryon County Prisoners.-Here are the names of 42 male prisoners, which I found recorded among the Maj. Andrew Finck papers, made during the war. About half of them are marked with a star, but why does not appear. The record bears no date, but those prisoners were evidently made mostly in the same season, as scores of prisoners made in the county during the war are not here named.
of prisoner's names taken in Tryon county : -
Han Yost Bellinger,
Jacobus Van Slyke,
Garret Van Slyke,
John P. Helmer,
Peter H. Loucks,
Benjamin De Line,
John D. Falling,
John I. Failing,
Moses Nelson was captured April 24, 1780 ; Fred. Sammons and Benj. De Line were captured May 22, 1780 ; and James Butterfield, July 9, 1781. Four prisoners were made at Cherry Valley, which is noted on the record, and those I have denoted with a star. They were captured after the invasion of 1778.
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