History From America's Most Famous Valleys
of New York
or a BIOGRAPHY of NICHOLAS STONER & NATHANIEL FOSTER;
TOGETHER WITH ANECDOTES OF OTHER CELEBRATED HUNTERS,
AND SOME ACCOUNT OF SIR WILLIAM JOHNSON AND HIS STYLE OF LIVING
by Jeptha R. Simms
A Reprint with New Supplementary Matter
Printed by Enterprise and News
St. Johnsville, N.Y. 1935
Albany: J. Munsell, 82 State Street. 1850
JOHN HELMER IN JAIL
John, a son of Philip Helmer, named as one of the pioneer settlers in Fonda's Bush, who remained there after his patriotic neighbors had removed to Johnstown, accompanied Sir John Johnson to Canada on his removal from Johnson Hall, early in the Revolution. Returning to the settlement not long after, he became an object of suspicion; was arrested by the patriots, and confined at Johnstown. A sentinel was placed over him who was very green in the service, and improving a favorable opportunity, the prisoner took occasion to praise his gun; and closed his adulation by requesting permission to look at it, which was readily granted. The piece had hardly passed out of the young guard's possession, ere his authority was set at defiance, and its new owner took it to a place of retirement to inspect its merits; which were not fully decided upon until he had safely arrived in Canada.
At a later period of the war, young Helmer again had the audacity to visit the Johnstown settlements. He returned late in the fall, and was concealed at his father's house for some time, intending on the return of spring, if possible, to take back some recruits with him for the British service. The nonintercourse so generally observed between Whig and Tory families favored his design, but by some means his place of refuge became known to three patriotic neighbors, Benjamin DeLine, Solomon Woodworth and Henry Shew, who determined on his capture. Well armed, they proceeded one night to the vicinity of his father's dwelling, and concealed themselves at a place where they had reason to suppose he would pass. They had not been there long when, unsuspicious of danger, he approached the trio, who poised their firearms and he yielded to their authority, and was lodged in the Johnstown jail. The entrance to the fort through the picketed enclosure, was on the south side.
Helmer had a sister named Magdalene, the Germans called the name Lana, by this name she was known. Miss Lana was on intimate terms with a soldier then on duty at the Johnstown fort; and at an interview with him carried such little comforts as a sister can provide, she got a pledge from him, that when on sentinel duty he would unlock the prison door and set the prisoner free. It was in the night time and while his vigils lasted, that she had found access to the prisoner. True to his promise, Lana's lover did set her brother at liberty, and, with another soldier, was seduced from his duty by the prisoner, when both fled in his company. When she wills it, what can not woman do? A sergeant and five men, Amasa Stevens, Benjamin DeLine, before named, and three continental soldiers were soon upon their trail, which they were enabled to follow by the fall of a light snow, and taking with them a lantern that they might travel by night, they came up with and surprised them in the woods. The two soldiers were fired upon and killed, but Helmer, with a severe bayonet wound in his thigh escaped: he was afterwards discovered nearly dead, in some bushes where he had concealed himself, and was taken to the fort: there he was cured of his wounds and again imprisoned, By some unaccountable means he succeeded the third time in effecting his enlargement; fled to Canada, and there remained. He, too, had been a hunter before the war, and was familiar with the forest. A part of the preceding facts were from Jacob Shew. At an interview between Helmer and Nicholas Stoner, which took place in Canada subsequent to the war, he told the latter that he suffered almost incredible hardships in making his last journey to that country.
In the last year of the Revolution, Nicholas Stoner belonged to a band of musicians, which marched into New York with troops under Col. Willett, on its evacuation by the enemy. He played the clarinet, as did also Nicholas Hill. During the stay of Gen. Washington in that city, an exhibition of fireworks took place, on which occasion the band alluded to performed. Stoner also saw Washington enter the barge at Whitehall on his leaving New York; and to use his own words was one of the band that played him off.
Mischief lurked in the veins of young Stoner to the end of the war, and often brought him into difficulty, from which fortune sometimes extricated him quite as easily as he deserved to be. The summer of 1783, was one of comparative inactivity in the army, as hostilities had nearly ceased that spring. Stoner was with a body of troops which were encamped back of Newburgh, when a little incident occurred which afforded some momentary amusement. In the camp was a black soldier, who had frozen off his toes while under Col. Willett the preceding February, in his abortive attack on Fort Oswego. In consequence, the poor fellow experienced such difficulty in walking, that few could observe his peculiar gait, without having their risible faculties get the mastery.
As he was waddling along near the young musician, the latter called him a stool-pigeon. The words were scarcely uttered, ere the sable patriot, who felt the insult sensibly, pursued the offender, armed with a bayonet, threatening vengeance. A clarinet was a poor weapon with which to repel an attack, and its possessor fled for dear life, and took refuge in the hut of Lieutenant-Col. Cochrane, who was then entertaining several friends. So abrupt an entrance started all to their feet, little doubting that the enemy from New York were upon them: but fears of an invasion were soon at an end, as close upon the heels of Stoner came tumbling in the infuriated, frostbitten hero. What's the matter? What has happened? What means this intrusion? Several voices were at once demanding, as the last enterer, almost out of breath, stammered out-"Massa curnil! dis deblish musiker, he 'sult me berry bad; I'm lame, can't help it; froze my feet, like to froze my body too: all under Curnil Will't in de bush; snow knee deep; dis rascal call me tool pigeon; I no stand it."
"I comprehend," said Col. Cochrane: "you have been very unfortunate while in the service of your country, and it grieves you, as well it should, to have any one speak lightly of your misfortunes."
"Well, my good fellow, leave the matter to me, and go to your quarters: I'll punish the impudent rascal."
"Dat's wat I want," said the lame soldier, now restored to good humor; "he desarbs it, and I hope you whip him berry hard, massa curnil; yah-yah-yah-"
"Tank you, curnil, cause you my friend;" continued the offended warrior, as he turned to go out, and restored a care worn drab and black hat to his bump of pugnacity. While closing the door to leave the presence of his unique umpire and friends, a smile of satisfaction was seen lurking about his under lip, and he was observed to close his fist and shake it at his offender, as much as to say-"ha, de cumil gib it to you; you get your hide loosened dis time."
While the dialogue lasted, a frown sat upon the brow of Col. Cochrane, and the young culprit began to feel in imagination the whistling lash his unruly tongue had invoked; but no sooner had the complain closed the rough door, than, in spite of all his efforts to the contrary, he found himself obliged to join his merry companions and laugh heartily. The figure of the limping Negro, who, if he did not wear cotton, was amazingly outward-bound, seemed still before him, and turning to the mischief-maker, he with no little effort gave him a sharp reproof for thus imprudently wounding the feelings of one who should excite sympathy; and then, not daring to venture a longer speech, lest he should spoil it with a laugh, he ordered him from his presence with a threat of terrible vengeance at the end of a rawhide, if he ever did the like again.
Bowing his thanks for the easy and unexpected terms meted to him, young Stoner promised to do better in future, and as he left the hut to seek his own, the walls of the rude dwelling behind him shook with the boisterous merriment of its inmates, at their very unique entertainment.
When the war of the Revolution closed and the dove took the place of the eagle-when the prattling infant could nestle in its mother's bosom secure from midnight assassins-when the warrior once more laid aside his sword and musket to grasp the hoe and spade of thrift-when commerce again spread her white wings without fear of the foeman's fire-when art and science again smiled o'er bill and dale, enriched by the blood of freemen slain-when LIBERTY with a home of her own, invited the oppressed of the earth to her embrace, extending to the penury-stricken the horn which needed only his industry to become one of plenty-then and not till then did our hero, grown to man's estate, return again to reside in the vicinity of Johnstown.
Where is the hoary-headed warrior that never felt the melting influence of woman's smiles? If any such there are, let them come forth while I tell them a brief love-story of their own time. I have already informed the reader, that there dwelt at Johnstown in the Revolution, a soft haired, dark eyed maiden named Anna Mason; and have shadowed forth the fact, that a little intimacy existed between her and our hero in their youthful days. As no matrimonial engagement had passed between them, not having seen or heard from the young pigeon hunter for several long years; and not informed whether the glory of a dead warrior or the triumph of a live one were his; in fact, not knowing if he were alive in a distant colony, but what some other young heart then beat against his own; it is not surprising that she looked upon him as lost to her, however vividly fancy at times may have brought back his graceful figure. Among the Johnstown patriots was a young man named William Scarborough, who answered also to the name of Crowley. His mother, at the time she married Jeremiah Crowley, was a widow Scarborough, her husband having been killed in the batteau service, and was already possessed of little Willie, but people did not always stop to consider his true parentage, and after a while he almost ceased to be called Scarborough. On page 477 of my History of Schoharie County, etc., where his death is mentioned, he is called Crowley, as I was then ignorant of his true parentage. William Scarborough, who was in some respects a very worthy young man, paid his addresses to the charming Anna Mason. Now William was a brave youth, and had been in the service of his country, which Anna happened to know, and on which account she the more highly respected him; for the women of that period could and did discriminate between right and wrong; between liberty and oppression. To cut a long story short, for wooing is full of mazes and phases, and interesting filigree, William found himself enamored with the bewitching Anna, who, on his making tender advances, cast a long sigh on the warpath of a certain hunter, blushed deeply and reciprocated ardently his attachment.
Early in the year 1781, but in what month we can not speak with certainty, Anna Mason was led to Hymen's altar, an altar on which have been offered many pure affections, but few more unsullied than hers, and became the bride of her heroic William. Days, weeks, even months passed, and still the young wife was happy; should she ever be otherwise? For she had a kind husband, and was surrounded by those who loved and respected her.
The green summer flew past, and autumn with her russet-clad meadows and golden forests arrived, and still Anna Scarborough was cheerful and happy: but alas! a civil war that had raged for years and stained with lifeblood the threshold of many dwellings within a few miles, was still devastating the land; and although the war-cry for a little season was removed to a distance, and no immediate danger was apprehended, yet the midnight alarm might again break on the ear, and the most tender ties be sundered in a moment: for
Storms that have been again may be! The battle-axe if yet on high, Stained with the blood of martyrs free--When thought most distant may be nearest by; And from it fondly cherished may not fly.
On the morning of October 25, 1781, a large body of the enemy under Maj. Ross, entered Johnstown with several prisoners, and not a little plunder; among which were a number of human scalps taken the afternoon and night previous, in settlements in and adjoining the Mohawk valley; to which was added the scalp of Hugh McMonts, a constable, who was surprised and killed as they entered Johnstown. In the course of the day the troops from the garrisons near and the militia from the surrounding country, rallied under the active the Active and daring Willett, and gave the enemy battle on the Hall farm, in which the latter were finally defeated with loss, and made good their retreat to Canada. Young Scarborough was then in the nine months' service, and while the action was going on, himself and one Crosset left the Johnstown fort, where they were on garrison duty, to loin in the fight, less than two miles distant. Between the Hall and woods they soon found themselves engaged. Crosset after shooting down one or two, received a bullet through one hand, but winding a handkerchief around it, he continued the fight under cover of a hemlock stump. He was shot down and killed there, and his companion surrounded and made prisoner by a party of Scotch troops commanded by Capt. McDonald. When Scarborough was captured, Capt. McDonald was not present, but the moment he saw him he ordered his men to shoot him down. Several refused; but three, shall I call them men? obeyed the dastardly order, and yet he possibly would have survived his wounds, had not the miscreant in authority cut him down with his own broadsword. The sword was caught in its first descent, and the valiant captain drew it out, cutting the hand nearly in two.
Why this cold-blooded murder? Were those hostile warriors rivals in love? Had the epauletted hero, commissioner at the door of the infernal regions, sought the hand of the blooming Anna and been rejected because his arm was raised against his suffering country? Or must the prisoner be destroyed because in arms with his countryman? A more hellish and malignant act was not perpetrated, even by the sons of the forest, on the frontiers of New York (10). Jeremiah Crowley, the stepfather of Scarborough, was made a prisoner by the enemy and taken to Canada. Mrs. Scarborough, who was at her father's on the morning of the action, fled to the fort with her father, Mrs. Mason choosing to brave the dangers of the day to save her effects. Mason's house stood a little north of the present site of John Yost's tavern, and on the edge of the Hall farm. The action was fought in its vicinity, and thirteen balls were fired into it, which no doubt kept the old lady from falling asleep. One of McDonald's men, who had been ordered to fire on young Scarborough and refused to obey, was so disgusted with his captain for the act, that he deserted the same evening and joined the Americans.
On the morning after their death, the remains of Scarborough and Crosset were taken to the fort on a wooden-shod sleigh drawn by horses (11). Need I stop to tell the reader how the young bride, Anna Scarborough, was overwhelmed with sorrow on the day succeeding the Johnstown battle? How her keenest sensibilities were on fire, at beholding the mangled remains of her beloved William; and what mental agony she endured? But such sufferings are at all times the attendants of a civil war, in which neighbor is clad in armor against his fellow, and kinsman against those of his own blood. Some time after the death of her husband, and about eleven months after the sealing of the nuptial vow, Mrs. Scarborough was presented with a daughter as a pledge of her early love, which tended in no measured degree to reconcile her to the cruel fate war had meted her. This daughter grew up to woman's estate.
Time and change of circumstances, with the blessings of social intercourse returning at the close of a protracted war, again restored the young widow, who possessed a buoyant disposition, or a spirit to wrestle successfully with trials, to the enjoyment of society and the shaded realities of life
One that has won, again may win;
and soon after the return of Nicholas Stoner to Johnstown, he came within the path of the young widow's charms, which in the military camp had often brought him to his senses, and shortly after sought and obtained her hand in marriage. Although her affections had been chastened by the blight of sorrow, her young heart was still susceptible of an ardent offering to the one who had inspired the first budding of love there, and she proved a boon companion and cheerful wife. The fruit of this connection was four sons and two daughters. Three of the sons are still living. The daughters were Mary and Catharine: the former married William Mills, and now (1847) resides in Fulton county; and the latter died when a young woman.
Nicholas Stoner, the first two years after his marriage, lived near Johnson Hall, and then settled at Scotch Bush now known as McEwen's Corners in the western part of Johnstown, where he resided many years. John Stoner, whose temperament did not bring him into trouble often, continued in the army to the close of the war; after which he was for several years employed by Col. Frederick Fisher, who built him a farmhouse nearby on the site of his homestead, and where he had been scalped by the Indians. To the location of this dwelling, a substantial brick edifice, I have already alluded. After John Stoner left the employ of Col. Fisher, he married Miss Susan Philes, by whom he had a daughter, Catharine Ann, and four sons.
Soon after the Revolution, Nicholas Stoner was for three years a deputy sheriff under John Littel, Esq. He was also a captain of militia, and filled several town offices at different periods. When we again came to blows with England, because of her insolence in searching our ships and impressing our seamen into her service, the Stoner brothers were once more enrolled in the American army; John enlisting in 1812, and Nicholas in 1813. John Stoner, who was a drum-major in this war, was taken sick at Sacket's Harbor and died there. Nicholas enlisted at Johnstown into the 29th New York regiment, of which Melancthon Smith was colonel, G. D. Young lieutenant-colonel (12), and John E. Wool, major. He joined the company of Capt. A. P. Spencer, Lieut. Henry Van Antwerp being the recruiting officer under whom he enrolled his name. He proceeded to Utica, and from thence to Sacket's Harbor, where he remained until fall; at which time he went into winter quarters at Greenbush. Early the following spring he joined the army at Plattsburg, going from Whitehall by water.
Lake Champlain and the territory adjoining it, in September, 1814, became the theater of some of the most important events which characterized the war of that period. The withdrawal of troops from Plattsburg to succor Fort Erie, determined the governor general of Canada, Sir George Prevost, to attack it with a force he supposed irresistible; and for that purpose he invaded the territory of the States on the 3d day of September, with an army some fourteen thousand strong, well equipped and provided with a splendid train of artillery. About the same time, so as to make a clean sweep, Commodore Downie, with a naval force far superior in number of vessels, guns and men, made preparations to engage the American flotilla on Lake Champlain, then under the command of the gallant Commodore Thomas McDonnough, who, ten years before, had so distinguished himself under Decatur in a captured Turkish ketch before the walls, and under the very batteries of the bashaw of Tripoli.
Gen. Macomb, at Plattsburg, had only about fifteen hundred men at his command when the invasion of Prevost began, but his call on the patriotic sons of New York and Vermont was promptly obeyed, and he was enabled to keep a vastly superior force at bay, until reinforced sufficiently to cope with his adversary. From the 3d until the 11th of September, repeated engagements took place contiguous to Plattsburg, in several of which Nicholas Stoner, then a fife-major, was engaged. He took a musket, however, and performed duty at this time as a sergeant, and as he was a good marksman, several must have fallen before his deadly aim.
There was not a little excitement in the American camp at Plattsburg as the British army was advancing on that post, and great exertions were made to put it in a fit state for the enemy's reception. The meritorious young Trojan, Captain Wool, as a reward for his daring conduct in storming Queenston heights, in October, 1812, had been appointed major, of the 29th New York regiment, and in the absence of its colonels, the command of it devolved upon him in September, 1814.
As the enemy were approaching, Major Wool volunteered his services, and repeatedly on the 5th of September, urged General Macomb to allow him to meet the enemy and make at least a show of resistance; as nothing more could be expected against such odds. The general met his earnest solicitations with some coolness, and expressed his apprehensions that if he went out he would be captured. On the evening of the 5th, the gallant Wool received a reluctant assent to meet the enemy, but was not allowed to do so until morning. So anxious was he for active service, however, that long before daylight on the 6th, the major had mustered his corps and was on the Beekmantown road. Gen. Macomb had assured him Capt. Leonard, with his company of artillery, should accompany him, but the latter declined marching without the express orders of the general, and he moved forward without him. His own regiment then numbered only 200 men, to which were added about 50 from other regiments, and some 30 volunteer militia: in all nearly 280 men. Gen. Mooers had been stationed on the Beekmantown road with a regiment of 700 militia, previous to Maj. Wool's going there, and the latter was commanded by Gen. Macomb to set the militia an example of firmness.
The enemy on the morning of the 6th were advancing by three roads, the eastern road running along the western shore of Lake Champlain; the western leading from Chazy to Plattsburg, and called the Chazy road, and the centre known as the Beekmantown road. Maj. Appling with a body of riflemen was posted on the eastern or lake road, Maj. Wool on the center; while the enemy were allowed to advance on the Chazy road without opposition. Maj. Appling directed his attention chiefly to obstructing the road by falling trees, and fell back in time to join Major Wool near Plattsburg.
On arriving, just at daylight, at Gen. Mooers's camp, seven miles from Plattsburg, Maj. Wool found the enemy, 4000 strong, were not far distant on that road, and already moving. Gen. Mooers made several attempts as the enemy drew near, to form his men for action, but they broke and fled, most of them without firing. Maj. Wool told him he had better make a stand upon the road, so as to cover his own retreat.
The unexpected flight of the militia, as may be supposed, created some confusion in the infantry, to recover from which and gain a little time, Maj. Wool ordered Capt. Van Buren with his company to charge the enemy. The brave captain expressed a doubt about his ability to do it; fearing his men would desert him. "Shoot down the first man that attempts to run, or I will shoot you!" was the peremptory order of the enthusiastic major. Van Buren quickly moved forward to execute the command, but when within a few rods of the foe, satisfied his handful of men could hardly be trusted to charge such a billow of animated matter, he ordered them to halt and fire. The fire was well directed and told fearfully in the enemy's ranks, which were sufficiently retarded for Maj. Wool to dispose of his Spartan band to his mind. That Capt. Van Buren did good service in his morning salute, is proven by the fact, that twenty of the enemy were carried into the house of a Mr. Howe, living near by. Maj. Wool formed his men in three several double platoons; one occupying the road, and the others the fields or woods a little in rear of the first, and on either side of the road with out-flankers. The British in column continued to advance, and in the order named the Americans kept up a street fight, firing and retreating before the enemy: the troops in the street again forming and deploying in the street after each fire, a little in the rear of the field troops; and those in turn forming and deploying in the rear of the platoons occupying the street. Thus did this little detachment of brave men resist the invader's approach step by step for nearly six miles, doing at times fearful execution in his ranks, and setting truly an example of firmness that would have done credit to veteran troops, with a Buonaparte for a commander.
On an eminence in the road, called Culver's hill, Lieut.-Col. Willington, of the 3d regiment of British Buffs, an officer of gallant bearing, was slain, with a number of his men; while a little farther on, forty of the enemy, dead and wounded, were borne into the house of Maj. Platt, among whom was Lieut. Kingsbury, and possibly some other officers. Learning in the morning that Capt. Leonard had not accompanied Maj. Wool, Gen. Macomb ordered him forward to his assistance. At the junction of the Chazy and Beekmantown roads, called Halsey's corners, he joined the infantry with two six-pounders. At this place the militia, having recovered from their panic, were brought into action by Gen. Mooers. They were posted in woods on the right and also in the rear of the artillery; the infantry being mostly behind a stone wall along the Chazy road, to the left of the ordnance. A part of it was stationed so as to conceal the artillery, however, and as the British advanced, unsuspicious of receiving such a salute, the war dogs were unmasked, and several round shot plowed their bloody furrows the entire length of the enemy's column. At this moment the Americans observed, says an eyewitness, "one of the finest specimens of discipline ever exhibited." The gaps in the British ranks were closed as if by magic, and steadily onward was their march.
As the enemy neared the field-pieces, they were greeted by grape shot, which caused them to halt, but the British bugles soon sounded a charge, and the Americans were obliged to retreat, which they did in good order to Gallows hill (13), at which place they made the last stand on the north side of the Saranac. Adjutant Boynton, a young officer of great merit, and whose services to Maj. Wool were invaluable on this stirring day, was sent by the latter with orders to Maj. Appling to join him. The order was heroically executed though one of great peril, as he was exposed to the fire of many scores of British muskets, and Maj. Appling joined the invincible 29th near Gallows hill. After a brief stand at the latter place, the Americans fell back across the Saranac, and taking up the bridge in their rear they kept the enemy upon the north side of the river. In removing the plank of this bridge, the Americans suffered considerably. Maj. Stoner assisted in taking up this bridge, and also the one over Dead creek. The enemy's loss in this long road fight with the troops under Maj. Wool, in killed and wounded, was about 240, a number nearly equal to his entire command during the greatest part of the action. The American loss was about 45 in killed and wounded. Maj. Wool had a horse shot under him during the day. For the masterly manner in which he acquitted himself on this occasion, he was breveted lieutenant colonel; a promotion he could not that day have merited, had he not been surrounded by a band of iron- hearted warriors.
In the action at Gallows hill the following incident took place. William Bosworth, a sergeant-major who had deserted from the British and entered the American service, and on the day in question had greatly distinguished himself, received a musket ball through his thigh which brought him to the ground. It was impossible for the Americans to bring off all their wounded, so closely did the enemy press upon them. Apprised of the fact that Bosworth was down, Major Wool, addressing himself to Adjutant Boynton, exclaimed, "See that the boys throw Bosworth on a horse and remove him to a place of safety, for if he falls into the hands of the enemy they will either hang or shoot him: he is too good a fellow to be used up in that manner; take him off!" A horse was quickly provided which Stoner held, while two soldiers placed the wounded sergeant upon his back, his blood running down the animal's side. The wounded man was taken to Plattsburg and afterwards to Burlington, Vermont, where he recovered. The reader may not be surprised to learn, that the generous-hearted major, who was not unmindful of the fate of a poor soldier, even in a fearful shower of iron and lead, is the illustrious Major-General Wool, who has been one of the brightest stars of that heroic band, which has recently covered itself with such a blaze of glory in Mexico.
The army of Prevost was kept on the north side of the Saranac by Macomb until the 11th of September, at which time Downie prepared to engage with McDonough. Undaunted by the superior naval force of his adversary, the latter met him with a firmness and coolness characteristic of the man. It is stated in a newspaper account of his death, that he engaged the enemy at this time with a confident trust in God of battles for his success. Calling his brave tars around him on the quarter-deck, as the enemy hove in sight, upon his knees he commended his cause to Him who governs the universe. This engagement was witnessed by both armies, it is reasonable to suppose, with intense excitement; as upon its result was suspended the probable fortune of the land forces. At 9 o'clock the contest began, and in less than two hours the Confiance, the enemy's flagship, had, with two other vessels, struck her colors to the Americans, and several British galleys had been sunk: the rest of the fleet escaped by flight, the victors being unable to pursue them, as there was not a mast standing in either squadron to which a sail could be raised. Commodore Downie was among the slain.
A pleasing incident attendant on this battle should be given in its connection. In the midst of the fiery contest, a hencoop on the Saratoga, McDonough's flagship, was shot away, and a liberated rooster flew into the rigging overhead and began to crow. The circumstance was ominous, and contributed in no little degree to inspire the hardy tars with confidence, and they responded with a round of cheers and renewed exertions to his Yankee-doodle-do!
The artillery of the land forces was almost constantly in play during the naval engagement, but when the Confiance struck her colors, the army of Macomb took time to give a huzzaing, that fell on the ears of Prevost like the knell of death. The army of the latter was in full retreat, early in the evening, for Canada. That they might have something to remember their Yankee neighbors by, as they were about to strike their tents, Macomb fired a national salute, with ball cartridges, into their camp.
The remains of Commodore Downie, with those of five of his fellow officers, and the remains of five officers of Commodore McDonough's squadron, were brought on shore and buried by Gen. Macomb with the honors of war; on which occasion Maj. Wool was master of ceremonies and selected the place of burial. The music which led the procession consisted of some fifteen fifes and as many drums, the latter all muffled, and was commanded by Maj. Stoner: the tunes Logan Water and Roslin Castle, were played during the ceremony. The bodies were taken to a grove of pines and arranged side by side in three several rows. Two stately pines are still standing, one on each side of Downie's grave. While on that station Major Wool had the remains of the officers which fell on the Beekmantown road, removed and deposited beside those which fell in the naval service. After the war Mrs. Mary Downie, a sister-in-law, erected a tablet to the memory of her gallant kinsman.
Some weeks after the above incidents transpired, Major Stoner conducted several British officers to the grave of Commodore Downie, where some of them manifested much feeling, mingling their tears of sympathy with the dewdrops of heaven.
When Great Britain became satisfied that her claims to oceanic rule were not well founded, and the American army was disbanded, Gen. Macomb offered Maj. Stoner strong inducements to join the national army, which he declined.
On the 11th of September, 1842, twenty-nine years after the event, the Clinton County Military Association celebrated the anniversary of the battle of Plattsburg at that place, in a very commendable manner, on which occasion monuments were erected to the memory of all the officers which had been buried near Commodore Downie. Gen. Wool and his suite were present by special invitation, to take part in the interesting proceedings. Appropriate addresses were delivered by General Skinner, Col. McNeil and Gen. Wool. The ceremony of placing a monument at Col. Willington's grave, was very properly assigned to Gen. Wool, before whose prowess he had fallen in battle.
How creditable to the enterprise and magnanimity of the citizens of Plattsburg, in so just and appropriate a manner to meet and mingle their sympathies over the remains, not only of their illustrious friends who had fallen in the service of their country, but also over those of their gallant and unfortunate foes, who found a final resting place beneath the pines of a foreign land. Warrior foes, there gently slumber.
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