History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume II, Page 91 Incidents attending the Oriskany Battle and Siege of Fort Stanwix.-- It is only in the minor events attending a battle, that the reader is made to realize its fullness and see its horrors: and that the reader may see this deadly conflict as the writer does, some of its interesting scenes are here depicted.
Col. Visscher's Narrow Escape.-- Bullets in a battle often perform very singular missions. The fashion of "ye olden time" allowed a man's hair to grow long in the neck, to be bound up in a ribbon and hung down on his back; the appendage being known as a cue or "hair tail." A bullet from the enemy passed so close to the head of Col. Visscher, as to draw blood on his neck and cut off a part of his cue; which lock of auburn hair was long kept in the family, and probably the friends have some of it still. The writer had a small lock of it, obtained about 1843, from his son, Daniel Visscher, and which was in his cabinet when sold to the State.
Capt. Jacob Gardinier.*After having been literally riddled with bullets and bayonets, he crept into a cavity at the roots of a tree, and by the aid of his waiter, a German lad, who loaded his gun for him, he hand having been lacerated by a bayonet, he continued the fight, shooting from that position an Indian who was dodging about to get a shot at an American officer. Of this brave militia Captain, said the Rev. Johan Daniel Gros, of Fort Plain, in a work published after the war on "Moral Philosophy:" "Let it stand recorded among other patriotic deeds of that little army of militia, that a Jacob Gardinier, with a few of his men, vanquished a whole platoon, killing the captain, after he had held him for a long time by his collar as a shield against the balls and bayonets of the whole platoon. This brave militia captain is still alive, and was cured of thirteen wounds."
*An Anecdotes of Capt. Gardinier's Wife.--At the period under consideration, Mr. Gardinier dwelt near the residence of the late Andrew J. Yates, in Fultonville. His wife, like many of her sex on the frontiers of New York, on an emergency, could use fire arms. On some occasion, when her husband was away from home, in the service of his country; she saw, from her house, a flock of pigeons alighting upon the fence and ground not far off. She resolved to give them a salute, and hastily loaded an old musket, forgetting to draw out the iron ramrod. She left the house cautiously, gained a position within close gunshot, aimed at the pigeons on the fence and blazed away. To her own surprise and that of several of her family, who, from the window, saw her fire, and doubtless tot he surprise of the reader, seven of the birds sitting upon a rail, were spitted on the ramrod, in which condition they were taken to the house. From Martin A. Gardinier, a son.
George Walter Scalped.-- The following narrative was communicated to the writer by Job Babcock, in May, 1853, who had the story from the lips of Geo. Walter, a soldier at Oriskany, where he fell with a severe bullet wound. Faint from loss of blood, he crept to a spring and slacked his thirst; and, revived, he sat up. While watching the progress of the carnage, an Indian, lurking near, discovered him, and running up, gave him a blow on the head with his tomahawk, and in another moment had torn off his reeking scalp. Informant said that Walter, who was a German, told him, "Dat Indian tot I vash det, but I knows petter all de time: but I tot I would say nodding so as he would go off." When found by his friends some of his wounds were fly-blown, but being well cared for, he recovered and lived to old age. He died in August, 1831. His ability feign death while tortured, as was the case with Capt. Gregg a short time before, saved his life for future usefulness.
Captain Christopher W. Fox.-- In the Palatine Battalion of militia there were three Captains by the name of Fox, viz.: Captain William Fox, Jun., Captain Christopher P. Fox and Captain Christopher W. Fox. Probably they were all in the Oriskany battle. Tradition says the last two named were surely there; while Jacob P. Fox, of Palatine, a grandnephew of the last named, who is now 83 year of age with a clear intellect, relates of him the following story: "He was wounded severely in the right arm, which was partially dressed on the ground where he remained with his men; and discovering an Indian crawling from behind a tree in the direction of the enemy's encampment, grasping his sword in his left hand, he said to some of his men: 'You keep an eye on me for safety and I will kill an Indian.' As he approached him a mutual recognition took place. The Indian was a half breed, called William Johnson, and was a reputed son of his namesake, Sir William Johnson. He was down with a broken leg, and begged for his life because he was wounded. 'Ah,' said the dauntless captain, directing the prostrate warrior to his crippled arm, 'I am wounded too, and one of us must die!' In an instant he thrust, with his left hand, the keen edged sword through the Indian's body, and his liberated spirit was soon roving in new hunting grounds."
How Captain. C. W. Fox got his Wound.-- He and a hostile Indian under the cover of trees a few rods distant, were for some time watching in a vain endeavor to get some advantage of each other; and thinking to draw the Indians' shot and win the game, Fox extended his hat upon his hand beside the tree to attract his observation. The ruse succeeded and the Indian supposing the hat contained a head, fired on the target; but unfortunately, Fox had a long arm, and had extended it so far that the ball struck it, and dropping the hat the hand fell limp at his side. The Indian seeing the hat fall, no doubt supposed he had killed his man, but considered the hazard of securing a scalp too great to approach his victim. It was a common practice to thrust out a hat on one's ramrod or a stick to draw an antagonist's charge, when fighting in the Indian fashion; but so reckless an act as that of this hero, seemed to merit the punishment he received. Mr. Fox, afterward a Major, resided after the war at the Palatine Stone Church, and became well known to the generation succeeding his own, as an active, proud and enterprising man. This incident was communicated to the writer by F. M. Fox, of Cold Water, Michigan, a great-grandson of Maj. Fox.
Here is a copy of a receipt preserved in the family of the late Nicholas Gros, of Palatine:
"Recd., Willinger, Oct. 16, 1779, of Christopher Fox, Esq., eight dollars in full for curing his arm of a wound received in Oriskany fight. £3.4.0.
Dr. Younglove was surgeon in the Palatine regiment, and was taken prisoner at Oriskany. This service must have been rendered after his return. I have been unable to learn what locality was then called "Williger." Gen. Peter C. Fox assured me in 1854, that he was a son of Capt. C. W. Fox, and corroborated this account of him:
Peter Fox, the father of Jacob P. Fox, mentioned in this connection, was a young soldier, who, on that day, acted as waiter to his uncle, Capt. Fox. As the company changed its position Peter became oblivious of its whereabouts, but satisfied that he must go eastward to join it, he was cautiously proceeding in that direction, when he discovered an Indian behind a tree close by, looking for a chance to shoot an American, and little suspecting that one was behind him. Young Fox sent a bullet through his body, and he fell backward with a guttural exclamation, "O-wah!" and as Fox passed him he saw that the blood was running from his mouth. The young hero soon after again joined his captain.
Abram D. Quackenboss.-- The last syllable of this name is written boss, but pronouncedbush. One of the earliest Low Dutch families to locate in the present town of Glen was that of Quackenbush, as the name is now generally written. The late John S. Quackenbush, Esq., whom we knew intimately for years, and who related this incident to us in the presence of the late Judge I. H. Tiffany, of Fultonville, had previously furnished the anecdote to Col. Stone, who published its substance in the Life of Brant, volume 1, page 461. Here is the story as narrated to the writer: "Abram D. Quackenbush (father of our informant) was born a little distance of the Lower Mohawk Castle. Among his Indian playmates in boyhood, residing not far from his own home, was an Indian known by the unpoetic name of Bron-ka-horse, who was about his own age. In the beginning of the Revolution we find Quackenbush a Lieutenant under the brave Capt. Gardinier, mentioned in this connection. Among the followers of the Johnsons to Canada was his Indian friend, who before leaving sought at an interview to persuade him to go to Canada, assuring him he should have the same office in the royal army; which it is not improbable had been an argument whispered in the warrior's ear by Sir John Johnson. The love of country triumphed in the white man's breast, but the two parted as friends. Their next meeting was in the dodging from tree-to-tree fight at Oriskany. The Lieutenant heard himself addressed in a familiar voice, which he recognized as that of his early Indian friend, now posted behind a tree within gun shot of the one which covered his own person. 'Surrender yourself my prisoner,' shouted the Mohawk brave, 'and you shall be treated kindly; but if you do not you will never get away from here alive, we intend to kill all who are not made prisoners!' The success of the enemy at the beginning of the contest made them bold and defiant. 'Never!' said the young subaltern, 'will I become a prisoner!' Each, with eagle eye, now watched the other as an enemy, if possible to get the first shot, for both were expert riflemen. Bron-ka-horse fired and planted a bullet in the tree scarcely an inch from his adversary's head, but he had lost his best chance, as the Lieutenant sprang to a new position, from which is adversary's tree would not shield him, and in the next instant a rifle ball had passed through is heart."
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