The Project Gutenberg eBook of Great Events in the History of North and South America

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Title: Great Events in the History of North and South America

Author: Charles A. Goodrich

Release date: March 25, 2013 [eBook #42410]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Douglas L. Alley, III, Adrian Mastronardi and
the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images
generously made available by The Internet Archive/American



Pictorially Illustrated

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The plan of the following work, whatever may be thought of its execution, will commend itself, it is believed, to the taste and judgment of the public. It proceeds upon the principle of selection, being chiefly confined to the Great Events of American History, and which are treated of as distinct subjects. In these respects, the work differs from other historical works on the same subject.

The advantages of a work thus constructed, are too obvious to need specification. Yet, it may be remarked, that great events in history are like great objects in nature and art. It is the bolder features of a country—the more costly and imposing edifices of the city—the higher and more elaborate achievements of art—upon which we delight to dwell. In like manner, great events attract our attention and interest our minds, because of their relations—because of the higher qualities of mind which, perhaps, gave them birth, and the striking and lasting changes which grow out of them. They serve as landmarks in our drift down the stream of time. We date from them. We refer to them. We measure between them. We compare them one with another—their causes, progress, influences; and, in so doing, our knowledge of men and things is advanced—our false opinions are corrected—our topics for interesting and profitable speculation and reflection greatly multiplied. A thorough perusal of a work thus constructed will secure, it is believed, a more competent and permanent knowledge of the history of a country, than some half-dozen readings of that history, written on the ordinary plan.

The principle of selection will render the work the more valuable to certain classes of persons—to those who, desirous of a competent knowledge of the history of their country, have but a limited time to devote to the study of it; to the young, whose minds are apt to become wearied and perplexed with the number and details of minor events; and to those who wish to refresh their recollections, without the labor and loss of time incident to the perusal of works constructed on the common plan. Each of these classes will find their interests consulted in the work before them, while the general reader may profitably proceed from the perusal of such a volume to those which describe events and details more minutely.

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In regard to what constitute the 'Great Events of American History,' there may be some diversity of opinion. As to his selection, the author has not the vanity to suppose that it is the best that could be made. The journey has been a long one; and surely, it were not strange, if some events had been magnified into an undue importance; while those of perhaps even higher consideration were neglected, either for want of a better judgment, or for want of more serious reflection.

In the progress of the work, the author has endeavored to do justice to the original settlers of the United States, and their immediate descendants, by bringing into view their constant sense of their dependence upon God. It will be seen that our forefathers were men who feared God—who sought his blessing in all their great enterprises; and when success crowned those enterprises, that they were ready to acknowledge His good hand which had been with them. In seasons of darkness, they fasted and prayed: in seasons of prosperity, they rejoiced and gave thanks.

In these respects, our ancestors did, indeed, only their duty; but, it may well be urged upon the rising generation, which will soon take the management of the affairs of this already-mighty nation—and which is growing in population, wealth, and importance, every year—to imitate an example so just! so beautiful! so impressive!

The author has briefly to add, that the work was begun some years since; but, until now, he has found no opportunity to complete it; nor should he, even at this date, have had that pleasure, but for the important aid of a highly valued literary friend, long favorably known to the public, Rev. Royal Robbins, of Berlin, Ct., to whom, in this place, he is happy to make his acknowledgments for valuable portions of the volume.


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I. Northmen.—Claims for the Northmen; Voyages of Biarne, Leif, Thorwald, Thorfinn, Helge, and Finnboge, 19
II. Columbus.—Birth and Education of Columbus; Unsuccessful application to several European Courts; Patronized by Isabella; Sails from Palos; Early Discontent of his Crew; Expedients by which they are quieted; Discovery of Land; First appearance of the Natives; Cuba and Hispaniola discovered; Columbus sets sail on his Return; Incidents of the Voyage; Marks of consideration bestowed upon him; Second Voyage; Further Discoveries; Complaints against him; Third Voyage; Discovery of the Continent; Persecuted by Enemies; Sent home in Chains; Kindness of Isabella; Fourth Voyage; Return and Death, 26
III. Sebastian Cabot.—Discovery of the North American Continent by Sebastian Cabot, 45
Unsuccessful Attempts to settle America; Expeditions of Sir Humphrey Gilbert; Sir Walter Raleigh; Sir Richard Grenville; Sir John White; First Permanent Settlement at Jamestown; Colonists early in Want; Dissensions in their Councils; Hostility of the Indians; Capture of Captain Smith; Generous Conduct of Pocahontas; Gloomy Condition of the Colony; Timely arrival of Assistance; Returning Prosperity; Establishment of a Provisional Government; Introduction of Negro Slavery; Cruel Massacre of the Colonists, 48
Plymouth; Massachusetts; Connecticut; New Haven; New Hampshire; Rhode Island; Maine; Vermont—Character of the Early Settlers, 61
New York; New Jersey; Delaware; Maryland; N. Carolina; S. Carolina; Georgia; Pennsylvania, 96
General Division; Tribes in the Central and Southern parts of New England; Tribes in the Northern parts; East of Lake Erie and South of Lake Ontario; Southern Tribes, 104
Various Speculations on the subject; Opinions of Voltaire, of Rev. Thos. Thorowgood, Dr. Boudinot, Roger Williams, Hubbard, Thos. Morton, John Josselin, Cotton Mather, Dr. Mitchell, Dr. Swinton, 109
Early Troubles of the English with the Indians; Power and Cruelty of Powhatan; his apparent Friendship for the Colonists; Treacherous Conduct; Kindness of Pocahontas; Inhuman Conduct of Lord De la War; Captivity of Pocahontas; Cruel Massacre of the Whites; Opecancanough; Troubles with Totopotomoi; Anecdote of Jack-of-the-feather, 113
Early Rencontre at Plymouth; Friendly Intercourse established by means of Samoset; Kindness of Squanto; Intercourse with Massasoit; Contemplated Massacre defeated; Caunbitant; Hobomok, 125
Territory of the Narragansets; Canonicus their Sachem; his mode of Challenging the English to War; Union proposed between the Pequods and Narragansets; how Defeated; Haughty Bearing of Miantonimoh; Accused of a Conspiracy against the English; Accusations repelled; Peace concluded between him and Massachusetts; War between Uncas and Miantonimoh; the latter captured, and delivered to the English; how disposed of; Character of Uncas; Troubles with the Narragansets under Ninigret; Expedition against him; its Issue, 142
Territory of the Pequods; their Character; Sassacus; his Hatred of the English; Cruelties practiced towards them; War declared by Connecticut; Expedition of Captain Mason; Surprise and Destruction of the Fort; Further Prosecution of the War; Consequences resulting from it, 153
Causes of Philip's War; Character of Philip; General Spirit of Hostility among the Indians; Outbreak at Swansey; Expedition under General Savage; Expedition under Captain Church; Perilous Situation of this latter party; Timely Arrival of Captain Hutchinson; Second Expedition of Captain Church; Critical Situation of Philip; Effects his Escape; Annoys the Back Settlements of Massachusetts; Treachery of the Nipmucks; Attack on Brookfield; Bloody Affair at Muddy Brook; Attack on Springfield; Attack on Hatfield; Outrages at Northampton; Large Force raised by Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Connecticut, against the Narragansets; Philip's Fortress at Kingston, Rhode Island; Destruction of it; Lancaster destroyed; other Towns burned; Fatal Affair at Pawtuxet river, Rhode Island; Stratagem of Cape Cod Indians; Attacks on Rehoboth, Chelmsford, Sudbury, &c.; Expedition of Connecticut troops; Conanchet captured; Long Meadow attacked; Hadley; Fortunes of Philip on the wane; Successful Expedition at Connecticut-river Falls; Attack on Hatfield; on Hadley; Remarkable Interposition of a Stranger at Hadley, supposed to be Goffe; Decline of Philip's Power; Pursued by Captain Church; Death of Philip; Disastrous Effects of the War; Philip's Warriors; Annawon; Reflections, 161
Combination of French and Indians against the Americans; Burning of Schenectady; Cause of it; Horrors attending it; Attack upon Salmon Falls and upon Casco; Results of Expeditions fitted out by New York and New England; Reduction of Port Royal; Atrocities which marked the War; Attack on Haverhill, Massachusetts; Heroic Conduct of Mrs. Dustan; Peace, 190
Principal Scenes of this War in America; Attack upon Deerfield; Captivity and Sufferings of Rev. Mr. Williams; Other Disasters of the War; Peace; Death of Queen Anne; Accession of George I.; Continued Sufferings of the Colonies of Massachusetts and New Hampshire; Peace concluded with the Indians at Boston, 200
War between England and France, 1744; French take Casco; Effect of this Declaration of War upon the Indians; Attack upon the Great Meadows (now Putney); also, upon Ashuelot (now Keene); Expedition against Louisburg; Particulars of it; Surrender of it; Continuance of the War; Various places assaulted; Savage Barbarities following the surrender of Fort Massachusetts; Peace declared, 208
Declaration of War between England and France; Causes of the War; Mode of conducting it; Various Expeditions planned; Nova Scotia taken from the French; General Braddock's Signal Defeat; Failure of Expeditions against Niagara and Fort Frontenac; Expedition against Crown Point; Battle of Lake George; Campaign of 1756; Inefficiency of Lord Loudon; Loss of Fort Oswego; Indian Atrocities in Pennsylvania; Campaign of 1757; Massacre at Fort William Henry; Exploits of Colonel Trye; Captain John Burke and others; Campaign of 1758; Capture of Louisburg; Unsuccessful Expedition against Ticonderoga; Capture of Fort Frontenac; Fort du Quesne taken; Campaign of 1759; Ticonderoga and Crown Point taken; Niagara captured; Siege and Capture of Quebec; Death of Wolfe and Montcalm; Final Surrender of the French Possessions in Canada to the English; Peace of Paris, 214
Objects proposed in the Settlement of America; Forms of Government conducive to Independence; Influence of Expenses; Colonies obliged to defend themselves, and to defray the Expenses of their own Wars and those of the Mother-country; British system of Taxation commenced; Writs of Assistance; Stamp Act; Formidable Opposition to it; Non-importation Act; Arrival of British Forces; Boston Massacre; Destruction of the Gaspee; Destruction of Tea; Boston Port Bill; Arrival of General Gage; his Obnoxious Measures; Meeting of Congress; Preparations for War; Obstinacy of the King and Parliament; Crisis arrives; Determination of the Colonists, 238
I. Battle of Lexington.—Cause or Occasion of the Battle; British Detachment proceeds towards Concord; Reaches Lexington; First Blood shed; Hancock and Adams; Captain Wheeler and the British Officer; Stores destroyed; the British harassed by the Americans; Retreat from Concord; Effect of this affair upon the Country; Proceedings of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, 266
II. Battle of Bunker's Hill.—American Patriotism; American and British Forces; Fortification of Bunker's Hill; Attacked by British Ships; Asa Pollard, the First Martyr; Preparations of the[Pg 7] British; Warren; Prescott's Injunction to his Troops; British repulsed with terrible slaughter; Second Attack; Charlestown set on fire at the same time; Second Repulse; Putnam and Major Small; Death of Colonel Gardiner; Thrilling Incident; Third Advance of the British; Death of Major Pitcairn; Americans in want of Ammunition; Retreat; Death of Warren; Respective Losses; Results of the Battle, 274
III. Washington, Commander-in-Chief.—Effects of the Battle of Bunker's Hill; Meeting of Congress; Appointment of a Commander-in-Chief proposed; Difficulties in regard to a Selection; Claims of Individuals; Interview between John and Samuel Adams; Speech of the former; Washington Nominated; Unanimously Confirmed; Manifesto of Congress; Public Fast, 291
IV. Evacuation of Boston.—General Officers appointed; Washington repairs to Cambridge; State of the Army; Great Want of Gunpowder; Sickness in the Camp; Dorchester Heights fortified; Proposal of the British General to attack the American Intrenchments; Alters his plan, and evacuates Boston; Embarkation of the British; Washington enters the city, 299
V. Independence Declared.—Independence begun to be contemplated; Causes which increased a desire for such an event; Question of a Declaration of Independence enters the Colonial Assemblies; Introduced to Congress by Richard Henry Lee; Debated; State of Parties in respect to it; Measures adopted to secure a favorable vote; Question taken, and Declaration adopted; Signed; the Great Act of the Revolution; its Influence immediately perceptible; Character of the Signers; the Fourth of July, a time-honored and glorious day; How it should be celebrated, 310
VI. Attack on Sullivan's Island.—Invasion of Southern Colonies proposed; Expedition dispatched; Charleston its first Object; Proceedings of its Citizens; Sullivan's island Fortified; Arrival of General Lee; his Opinion of Fort Moultrie; British Fleet arrives; Preliminary Movements; Fort Moultrie attacked; Remarkable Defence; Action described; Heroic Conduct of Sergeant Jasper; Repulse of the British; Respective Losses; Liberality of Governor Rutledge; Standards presented by Mrs. Elliot; Death of Jasper, 322
VII. Military Reverses: Loss of New York.—British take possession of Staten Island; Strongly reinforced; State of the American Army; New York and Brooklyn occupied; Battle of Brooklyn; Americans repulsed; Long Island abandoned; Remarkable retreat; Gloomy State of the American Army; Washington retreats to Harlem; Movements of the British; Washington retires to White Plains; Loss of Fort Washington; American Army pursued; Retreats successively to New Brunswick, Princeton, and Trenton; thence to the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware; British go into Winter-quarters; Capture of General Lee; Prevalent Spirit of Despondency, 338
VIII. Returning Prosperity: Battles of Trenton and Princeton.—Reliance of the Patriots upon God for Success; Public Fast recommended by Congress; Offensive Operations decided upon; Battle of Trenton; Washington victorious; Battle of Princeton; British repulsed; American Army at Morristown; British at Brunswick; Prospects brightening, 344
IX. Occupation of Philadelphia.—Position of the Armies; British remove to New York; Sail for the Chesapeake; Advance towards Philadelphia; American Army also move towards the same place; Meet at Brandywine; Battle; Americans repulsed; British enter Philadelphia; Congress retire to Lancaster; Battle of Germantown; Americans retreat; Ineffectual Attempts to force the British to evacuate Philadelphia, 353
X. Surrender of Burgoyne.—British Project for securing the command of the Hudson between New York and Albany; Intrusted to Generals Howe and Burgoyne; the latter leaves Canada with a strong Force; Invests and takes Crown Point and Ticonderoga; Affair of Skenesborough; Fort Edward abandoned; Retreat of Americans to Stillwater; Battle of Bennington; General Gates supersedes General Schuyler; Critical position of Burgoyne; he advances upon Saratoga; Battle; Battle of Stillwater; Burgoyne retreats, pursued by Gates; Capitulates; Public Rejoicings, 360
XI. Progress of the War.—State of affairs in England; Treaty with France; Movements in the British Parliament; Overtures to Congress; Rejection of them; Battle of Monmouth; Disastrous Retreat of General Lee; Fortunate Interposition of Washington; his Rebuke of Lee; Tremendous Battle; Sufferings of the Armies; Renewal of the Contest; Midnight Retreat of the British army; Subsequent Trial and Dismission of General Lee, 378
XII. Treachery of Arnold.—The Vulture in the Hudson; Midnight Adventure; Benedict Arnold; Repairs to Cambridge; Expedition to Canada; Created a Brigadier-general; Grounds of Complaint; Honorable Conduct in Connecticut; Appointed to the command at Philadelphia; Charges preferred against him; Reprimanded by Washington; Plots against his Country; Correspondence with Sir H. Clinton; Appointed to the command of West Point; Interview with Andre; Capture of Andre; Arrival of Washington; Escape of Arnold; Developments of his Traitorous Intentions; Trial and Condemnation of Andre; Subsequent Incidents in the life of Arnold, 391
XIII. Concluding Scenes of the Revolution.—Theatre of War changed to the South; Siege of Savannah; Battle of Camden; Battle of Cowpens; Retreat; Subsequent Movements; Battles of Guilford, Kohkirk's Hill, Ninety-Six, and Eutaw Springs; Yorktown; Treaty of Peace; Cessation of Hostilities; Army disbanded; Departure of the British; Final Interview between Washington and his Officers; Resigns his Commission; Retires to Mount Vernon, 415
XIV. Naval Operations.—State of the Naval Affairs of the Colonies at the commencement of the Revolution; First Naval Engagement; Measures adopted by Congress to provide a Naval Armament; Naval Officers appointed; Vessels built; Flag adopted; Success of American Privateering; Distinguished Naval Officers; Character of Naval Commanders; Particular Engagements:—Randolph and Yarmouth; Raleigh and Druid; Sub-marine Warfare, Le Bon Homme Richard and Serapis; Trumbull and Watt; Alliance, Atalanta, and Trepassey; Congress and Savage,[Pg 8] 450
XV. Eminent Foreigners connected with the Revolution.—George III. King of England; General Burgoyne, Sir Henry Clinton, Colonel Barre, Charles Townshend, Lord Cornwallis, William Pitt, Marquis of Bute, George Grenville, Duke of Grafton, Lord North, Colonel Tarleton, Sir Peter Parker, Sir William Meadows, Sir Guy Carlton, General Gage, Marquis of Rockingham, Edmund Burke, Kosciusko, Pulaski, Baron de Kalb, Baron Steuben, Count Rochambeau, Count D'Estaing, 488
Original Governments of the Colonies; Union between them; Plan proposed by Dr. Franklin; First Congress; Congress of '74; Confederation; Defects of it; Convention of States proposed by Virginia; Commissioners from five States meet at Annapolis; Powers too limited to act; Recommend a General Convention of States; Delegates appointed; Convention meets at Philadelphia; Decides to form a new Constitution; Draft prepared, discussed, and adopted; Speech of Doctor Franklin; Constitution signed; Adopted by the several States; Amendments; States admitted since the adoption; Remarks on the Constitution, 520
A System of Revenue; Regulation of Departments; Amendments of the Constitution; Establishment of a Judiciary; Assumption of Debts; Removal of the Seat of Government; National Bank; Indian War; Re-election of Washington; Difficulties with France; Insurrection in Pennsylvania; Jay's Treaty; Election of Mr. Adams; Farewell Address, 542
Difficulties with France; Treaty with that Power; Death of Washington; Removal of the Seat of Government; Election of Mr. Jefferson, 571
Purchase of Louisiana; War with Tripoli; Murder of Hamilton; Re-election of Jefferson; Conspiracy and Trial of Burr; Attack on the Chesapeake; British Orders in Council; Milan Decree; Embargo; Election of Mr. Madison; Difficulties between France and England, 590
Battle of Tippecanoe; Early Session of Congress; Declaration of War; Surrender of Hull; Capture of the Gurriere; Battle of Queenstown; Capture of the Frolic; of the Macedonian; of the Java; Battle of Frenchtown; Capture of the Peacock; Re-election of Mr. Madison; Capture of York; Siege of Fort Meigs; Capture of the Argus; Perry's Victory; Battle of the Thames; Creek War; Battle of Chippewa and Bridgewater; Capture of Washington City; Engagement on Lake Champlain; Battle of New Orleans; Treaty of Ghent; Close of Mr. Madison's Administration, 611
Tour of the President; Admission of Missouri; Provision for Indigent Officers, &c.; Re-election of Mr. Monroe; Seminole War; Revision of the Tariff; Visit of Lafayette; Review of Mr. Monroe's Administration; Election of Mr. Adams, 658
Controversy respecting the Creeks; Proposed Mission to Panama; Internal Improvements; Fiftieth Anniversary of Independence; "American System;" Election of General Jackson, 673
Condition of the Country; Georgia and the Cherokees; Public Lands; National Bank; Internal Improvements; Indian Hostilities; Discontents in South Carolina; Re-election of Andrew Jackson; Removal of the Deposites; Death of Lafayette; Deposite Act; Seminole War; Treasury Circular; Election of Mr. Van Buren; Character of Jackson's Administration, 683
Measures respecting Banks; Treasury Circular; Continuance of Florida War; Internal Improvements; Public Expenses; Difficulties in Maine; Border Troubles; Changes of Public Opinion; Character of the Administration; Election of William H. Harrison, 701
Extra Session of Congress; Relations with Great Britain; Settlement of the North-eastern Boundary; Difficulties in Rhode Island; Modification of the Tariff; Bunker's Hill Monument; Treaties; Annexation of Texas; Presidential Canvass; Character of Mr. Tyler's Administration, 715
Decease of General Jackson; Admission of Texas; Division of Oregon; Mexican War; Siege of Fort Brown; Battle of Palo Alto; Battle of Resaca de la Palma; Fall of Monterey; Battle of Buena Vista; Capture of Vera Cruz; Cerro Gordo; Progress of the Army; Occupation of Mexico; Treaty; California and its Gold; Election of General Taylor, 725
Discovery; Settlement; Capture of Quebec; Death of Champlain; Religious Enterprises; War made by the Iroquois; Accessions to the Colony; Progress of the Colony; Attempts of the English to Conquer Canada; Condition of Canada in 1721 and 1722; General Prosperity of the Colony; Refusal to join in the War of American Independence; Consequences of American Independence to Canada; Territorial Divisions and Constitution; Dissensions after the close of the War of 1812; Disturbances and Insurrections, 759
Limits; Conquest by the English; Settlement; Annexation to the British Crown; Policy of England in relation to the Country; Situation of the English Settlers; English Treatment of the Acadians; State of the Province during the Wars of the United States; Results of the War of 1812, 781
Extent; Physical Aspect and Soil; Settlement and Progress; Signal Calamity, 787
Location, Surface, and Climate; Early Settlers; Change of Possession; Plans of Colonization; Character of late Governors; Inhabitants, 790
Location and Importance; Discovery and Settlement; French Hostilities; Renewal of War; Change of Administration; Present Condition, 793
Extent; Discovery; Settlement; Contests with France; Present State, 797
Discovery; Condition, anterior to the Spanish Conquest; Invasion by Cortez; Arrival of Cortez in the Mexican Capital; Abdication of Montezuma; Retreat of Cortez, and Return; Fall of the City and Empire; Fate of Cortez; Extent of New Spain; Introduction of the Catholic Religion; Native Spanish Population, under the Colonial Government; Classes of the Inhabitants; Causes of the First Mexican Revolution; Commencement of the Revolution; Continuation of the War by the Patriot Chiefs; Decline of the Revolution; Invasion by Mina; Revolution under Iturbide; Adoption of the Federal Constitution; Prosperity of the years 1825 and 1826; Election of President in 1828; Usurpation of Bustamente; Defence of the Federal Constitution; Santa Anna's Proceedings; Establishment of a Central Republic; Attempts against the Central Government; Revolution of 1841; Overthrow of Santa Anna's Government, 802
Locality; Extent; Physical Character; Discovery and Conquest; Independence of the Country, 830
Extent and Physical Features; Revolution of 1811; Formation of a Constitution; Liberation of Quito; Crisis of 1828; Separation of New Grenada, Venezuela, and Equator; State of the Government since the Separation, 833
Name, Physical Features, &c.; Discovery; State of the Country under the Spanish Dominion; Termination of the Spanish Dominion; Condition since, 837
Name, Extent, and Physical Character; Classes of the Inhabitants; Subversion of the Spanish Authority; Condition since the Spanish Rule, 841
Locality, Extent, and Physical Character; Condition at the time of its Invasion by the Spaniards; Conquest by Pizarro; Condition of the Country after the Conquest; Insurrection; Revolutionary Movement; Declaration of Independence; Condition after the Expulsion of the Spaniards, 845
Name, Extent, and Physical Character; Overthrow of the Spanish Power; Proclamation of Independence; Choice of Rulers under the New Constitution; Present Condition, 855
Name, &c.; Inhabitants, or Classes of People; Discovery and Settlement; First Insurrection against the Government of Spain; Progress and Changes of the New Government; Present Condition of the Government, 863
Locality and Extent; Name and History; Constitution, 868
Situation, Extent, &c.; Discovery and Settlement; Policy of the Portuguese Government; Removal of the Portuguese Court to Brazil; Constitution and Government, 870
Situation, Extent, &c.; Insurrection and attempt at Revolution in the latter part of the Eighteenth Century; Establishment of Independence, and Despotic Government, 875
Situation, Extent, &c.; Inhabitants; Political Divisions, 879
Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbadoes, Bahamas, St. Christopher, Bermudas, and St. Vincent, 881
Cuba and Porto Rico, 885
Martinique and Guadaloupe, 887
Curacoa, St. Eustatius, St. Martin, and Saba, 888
St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, 888
Formerly called St. Domingo and Hispaniola, 888
XVII. ZACHARY TAYLOR. (Continued from page 756.)
Proceedings in Congress; Death of Mr. Calhoun; Invasion of Cuba; Convention with Great Britain; Death of Gen. Taylor, 902
Assumes the Government; Compromise Bill; Adjournment of Congress, 911

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Time stopping in his Course, &c. 13
Tailpiece—Discovery of Newfoundland, 18
Columbus and Cabot, 19
Northmen leaving Iceland, 21
Discovery of Labrador, 22
Incident in the Camp of the Northmen, 24
Columbus, 26
Columbus before Ferdinand and Isabella, 30
Columbus sets sail, 32
First Sight of Land, 36
Columbus and Natives of Cuba, 38
Columbus casting a Barrel into the Sea, 39
Tailpiece—Prairie Scene, 44
Tailpiece—Columbus at Hispaniola, 47
Early Settlements, 48
Early Settlers trading with the Natives, 50
Captain Smith saved from death, 55
Landing of the Pilgrims, 66
Visit of Samoset to the English, 67
Interview with Massasoit, 68
Boston founded, 73
Settlers emigrating to Connecticut, 76
Hooker addressing the Soldiers, 79
Gallup finds Oldham murdered, 80
Portsmouth founded, 84
Tailpiece—Indian Council, 95
Surrendering of New Amsterdam, 97
Charles II. signing for Penn, 101
Tailpiece—The Maple, 103
Indian Wars, 104
Tailpiece—Indian War Dance, 108
Tailpiece—Savage Barbarities, 112
Smith selling Blue Beads to Powhatan, 115
Pocahontas disclosing a Plot, 118
Opecancanough borne to a Massacre, 121
Tailpiece—Ship before the wind, 124
New England Indian Wars, 125
Governor Winslow's Visit to Massasoit, 134
Governor Bradford and the Snake-skin, 143
Captain Atherton threatens Ninigret, 149
Captain Mason attacking the Pequod Fort, 156
Tailpiece—Camanche Wigwam, 160
Philip's War, 161
Flight of Philip from Mount Hope, 163
Captain Church and his Men hemmed in, 164
Attack on Brookfield, 166
Battle of Muddy Brook, 168
Swamp Fight, 172
Indian Stratagem, 176
Fight near Sudbury, 177
Indians attacked at Connecticut-river Falls, 180
Defence of Hadley, 182
Philip's Escape, 184
Death of Philip, 185
Capture of Anawon, 188
Burning of Schenectady, 191
Mrs. Dustan saving her Children, 196
Escape of Mrs. Dustan, 197
Tailpiece—Round Tower at Rhode Island, 199
Capture of Mr. Williams, 202
Reduction of Louisburg, 211
Tailpiece—Boston Harbor discovered, 213
Braddock's Defeat, 219
Battle of Lake George, 222
Destruction of Kittaning, 224
Destruction of the village of St. Francis, 230
View of Quebec, 231
Death of Wolfe, 235
Tailpiece—Peruvian Canoe, &c. 237
The Revolution, 238
Otis in the Council-chamber, 246
Procession at Boston, 249
Attack on the Governor's House, 250
Burning of the Effigy of Governor Colden, 251
Arrival of the First Man-of-war at Boston, 253
Boston Massacre, 255
Burning of the Gaspee, 257
Destruction of Tea, 259
Patrick Henry, 262
Tailpiece—Falls of St. Anthony, 265
Events of the Revolution, 266
Battle of Lexington, 268
Captain Wheeler and the British Officer, 269
Retreat of the British from Concord, 271
Tailpiece—Source of the Passaic, 273
President Langdon at Prayer, 276
Death of Pollard, 277
General Putnam, 278
Interview between Warren and Putnam, 279
Putnam saves the life of Major Small, 284
Death of Colonel Gardiner, 286
Tailpiece—View of Boston, 290
Messengers spreading news, &c. 291
Tailpiece—Penn laying out Philadelphia, 298
Evacuation of Boston, 299
House at Cambridge occupied by Washington, 300
Fortifying Dorchester Heights, 305
Putnam reading Declaration of Independence, 310
John Hancock, 317
Sergeant Jasper re-planting the Flag, 328
Tailpiece—The Cotton-plant, 332
Battle of Trenton, 347
Tailpiece—Cortez landing at St. Juan d'Ulloa, 352
General Wayne, 355
Marquis Lafayette, 356
Tailpiece—Franklin in Council, 359
Destruction of Gallies, 363
Burgoyne's Advance, 366
Burgoyne's Retreat, 372
Tailpiece—View on the Hudson, 377
American Commissioners and Louis XVI. 379
Tailpiece—The Genius of Liberty, &c. 390
The Sloop-of-war Vulture, 391
Arnold's Expedition through the Wilderness, 393
General Lincoln, 394
[Pg 12]Death of General Wooster, 396
Arnold and the British Soldier, 397
General Arnold, 398
Major Andre, 401
Interview of Arnold and Wife, 409
Tailpiece—Capture of Major Andre, 414
Jasper on the Ramparts, 419
Death of De Kalb, 425
Charge of Colonel Washington, 428
Battle of Yorktown, 440
Washington taking leave of the Army, 444
Washington embarking at Whitehall, 446
Tailpiece—American Flag, 449
Naval Operations, 450
First Naval Engagement of the Revolution, 452
Silas Deane, 454
Randolph and Yarmouth, 463
Raleigh and Druid, 465
Jones setting fire to Ships at Whitehaven, 470
Paul Jones, 472
Le Bon Homme Richard and Serapis, 473
Sinking of the Bon Homme Richard, 479
Tailpiece—Ship on her Beam-ends, 487
Sir Henry Clinton, 494
Colonel Barre, 495
Lord Chatham, 500
Charles James Fox, 503
George Grenville, 506
Sir Guy Carlton, 511
Edmund Burke, 513
Tailpiece—Lugger near Shore, 519
Governments, 520
Franklin, 534
Tailpiece—Natural Bridge, 541
George Washington, 542
Inauguration of Washington, 547
John Adams, 571
Tailpiece—New York, from the East river, 589
Thomas Jefferson, 590
Tailpiece—Basket of Flowers, 610
James Madison, 611
Tippecanoe, 615
Constitution and Java, 629
Perry's Victory, 638
Battle of the Thames, 639
Creek Chiefs surrendering to Gen. Jackson, 641
Battle of New Orleans, 652
James Monroe, 656
Reception of Monroe, 658
Attack on Lieutenant Scott's Boats, 663
Taking the Fort at Pensacola, 665
Landing of Lafayette at New York, 668
Lafayette laying Corner-stone, &c. 669
Lafayette at Washington's Tomb, 670
John Q. Adams, 673
Removal of the Creek Indians, 676
Tailpiece—Agricultural Emblem, 682
Andrew Jackson, 683
Martin Van Buren, 701
Burning of the Caroline, 709
William Henry Harrison, 713
John Tyler, 715
James K. Polk, 725
Surprise of Captain Thornton and his Party, 732
Charge of Captain May, 736
American Army in Vera Cruz, 744
Colonel Harney at Cerro Gordo, 746
Battle of Churubusco, 748
Army crossing the National Bridge, 751
Zachary Taylor, 755
British America, 757
Tailpiece—Indians Hunting in Skins, 758
Champlain's Interview with the Algonquins, 760
Extermination of the Hurons, 764
Death of Wolfe, 771
Tailpiece—Tampico, 780
Nova Scotia, 781
Destruction of the Acadians, 785
Newfoundland, 793
Tailpiece—Vessels in the Offing, 796
Tailpiece—Icebergs, 799
Tailpiece—Winter in Lapland, 801
Mexico, 802
Marina acting as Interpreter, 805
Cortez burning his Ships, 806
Meeting of Cortez and Montezuma, 807
Montezuma on his Throne, 808
Death of Montezuma, 809
Noche Triste, 811
Texans flying to Arms, 827
Guatemala, 830
Alvarado marching on Guatemala, 832
New Grenada, 833
Venezuela, 837
Equator, 841
Tailpiece—Peruvian Peasants, 844
Peru, 845
Hualpa discovers the Mine of Potosi, 846
Manco Capac and his Wife, 847
Valverde addressing Atahualpa, 848
Pizarro in Cusco, 850
Bolivia, 855
Tailpiece—Mexican Women making Bread, 857
Chili, 858
Almagro marching against Chili, 859
Tailpiece—Araucanian Men and Women, 862
Buenos Ayres, 863
Uruguay, 868
Brazil, 870
Alvarez Cabral discovers Brazil, 872
Paraguay, 875
West Indies, 879
Millard Fillmore, 911

[Pg 13]

Time stopping in his course to read the Inscription carved by the Muse of History.

Time stopping in his course to read the Inscription carved by the Muse of History.

If it be remarkable that the Western Continent should have remained unknown for so many centuries to civilized man, it is, perhaps, still more remarkable that since its discovery and settlement, it should have become the theatre of so many signal transactions, and have advanced so rapidly to its present civil, religious, and political importance. The history of every portion of it is interesting and instructive; but more especially that portion occupied by the people of the United States. A great work is in progress throughout the entire continent; but the importance of the American Republic, with which our fortunes are more immediately connected, is becoming apparent with each revolving year. While, therefore, we propose to make an historical survey of the several countries both of North and South America, we shall dwell with greater particularity upon the events which have signalized our own republican America. If not from her present population, which, though increasing by a wonderful progression, is still, in point of numbers, inferior to many other nations; yet, from her wealth, her enterprise, her commercial and political relations, she is entitled to rank among the most powerful and influential nations on the globe. The eyes of the civilized world[Pg 14] are upon her; and with wonder, if not with jealousy, do they mark her rapid and surprising advancement.

The history of such a people must be full of interest. By what means has her national elevation been maintained? But a little more than two centuries have elapsed, since the first settlers planted themselves at Jamestown, in Virginia, and the Pilgrim Fathers landed on Plymouth Rock. They were then a feeble band. Before them lay a howling wilderness. An inhospitable and intractable race rose up to oppose and harass them. The means of living were stinted and uncertain. Famine pressed upon them, and weakened them. The winters were cold and piercing. Their habitations were rude and unprotective. Disease added its sufferings and sorrows, and death hurried many of the few to an untimely grave. Yet, amidst accumulated calamity, they gathered strength and courage. Accessions from the mother-country were made to their numbers. Other and distant stations were occupied. The forest fell before them. Towns and villages rose in the wilderness, and solitary places became glad. Savage tribes—after years of terror, massacre, and bloodshed—retired, leaving the colonists to the peaceful occupancy of the land, in all its length and breadth.

But they were still a dependant people—subject to the laws, exactions, and oppressions of a proud and arbitrary foreign government. That government, jealous of their growing importance, adopted measures to check their aspirations, and to extend and perpetuate the prerogatives of the crown. But it was impossible that a people, sprung from the loins of fathers whose courage and enterprise had been matured by years of conflict, should be either crushed, or long thwarted in their plans. Oppressions served rather to strengthen them; threats prompted to resolution, and served to inspire confidence. And, at length, they arose to the assertion and maintenance of their rights. They entered the field; and for years, with all the fortunes of war apparently against them, they grappled successfully with the colossal power of the British empire—thwarted her counsels—conquered her armies—established their independence.

But a little more than seventy years has America been free from the British yoke; yet, in that brief period, her advancement has outstripped all the predictions of the most sanguine statesmen.[Pg 15] With but three millions of people, she entered the Revolutionary contest; she now numbers more than twenty millions. Instead of thirteen colonies, she embraces thirty free and independent states. Meanwhile, she has continued to gather national strength and national importance. Her wealth is rolling up, while her moral power is becoming the admiration of the world.

These attainments, too, she has made amid convulsions and revolutions, which have shaken the proudest empires, and spread desolation over some of the fairest portions of the globe. On every side are the evidences of her advancement. Genius and industry are creating and rolling forward with amazing power and rapidity the means of national wealth and aggrandizement. An enterprising, ardent, restless population are spreading over our western wilds, and our cities are now the creations almost of a day.

But by what means has this national elevation and prosperity been attained? Shall we ascribe them to the wise, sagacious, and patriotic men, who guided our councils and led our armies? Shall we offer our homage and gratitude to Washington, Franklin, Adams, Otis, Henry, Jefferson, and a multitude of others, who periled fortune, liberty, life itself, to achieve our independence, and lay the foundation of our country's glory?

Let us do them honor; and a nation's honor and gratitude will be accorded to them, so long as the recorded history of their noble achievements shall last.

Theirs is no vulgar sepulchre: green sods
Are all their monument; and, yet, it tells
A nobler history than pillar'd pile,
Or the eternal pyramid. They need
No statue, nor inscription, to reveal
Their greatness.

But, while merited honor is paid to the sages and heroes of the Revolution, and to the Pilgrim Fathers of an earlier age, let not the hand of Providence be overlooked or disregarded.

On this point, the Puritans have left a noble example to their posterity. The supplication of the smiles and blessings of a superintending Providence preceded and accompanied all their plans and all their enterprises. "God was their king; and they regarded him as truly and literally so, as if he had dwelt in a[Pg 16] visible palace in the midst of their state. They were his devoted, resolute, humble subjects; they undertook nothing which they did not beg of him to prosper; they accomplished nothing without rendering to him the praise; they suffered nothing without carrying up their sorrows to his throne; they ate nothing which they did not implore him to bless." Nor were the actors in the Revolutionary struggle insensible to the necessity of the Divine blessing upon their counsels and efforts. Washington, as well at the head of his army as in the retirement of his closet, or amid some secluded spot in the field, looked up for the blessing of the God of battles. That also was a beautiful recognition of a superintending Providence, which Franklin made in the Convention, which, subsequent to the Revolution, framed the Constitution. "I have lived, sir, a long time," said he; "and the longer I live, the more convincing proof I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?"

Let it be remembered by the American people—by men who fill her councils—by historians who write her history—by the young, who are coming up to the possession of the rich inheritance, that whatever human agencies were employed in the discovery, settlement, independence, and prosperity of these states, the "good hand of God has been over and around us," and has given to us this goodly land, with its religious institutions—its free government—its unwonted prosperity.

Let not the historian, who writes—especially if he writes for the young—be thought to travel out of his appropriate sphere, in an effort to imbue the rising generation with somewhat of the religious spirit of the fathers—to lead them to recognise the Divine government, in respect to nations as well as individuals—to impress upon them that sentiment of the "Father of his country," as just as impressive, viz: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports."

"When the children of the Pilgrims forget that Being who was the Pilgrims guide and deliverer"—should they ever be so faulty and unfortunate—when the descendants of the Puritans cease to acknowledge, and obey, and love that Being, for whose service the[Pg 17] Puritans forsook all that men chiefly love, enduring scorn and reproach, exile and poverty, and finding at last a superabundant reward; when the sons of a religious and holy ancestry fall away from its high communion, and join themselves to the assemblies of the profane, they have forfeited the dear blessings of their inheritance; and they deserve to be cast out from this fair land, without even a wilderness for their refuge. No! let us still keep the ark of God in the midst of us; let us adopt the prayer of the wise monarch of Israel: "The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers; let him not leave us nor forsake us; that he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers."

Such a regard for God—his laws—his institutions, and his service, is obligatory upon the present generation, aside from those blessings which may be justly anticipated as the reward of such reverence and obedience. It is due to the memory of the Pilgrim Fathers. Never can we so worthily and appropriately honor them, as to cherish the pious sentiments which they cherished, and perpetuate the civil and religious institutions which they founded.—It is due to the generation of our Revolutionary era, which, impressed with a sense of the value of the inheritance transmitted to them, periled life and fortune that they might transmit that inheritance in all its fullness and in all its richness to their posterity. We are the children of patriot heroes, who prayed and then fought, and fought and then prayed.—It is due to ourselves, as we would secure the admiration and gratitude of the generations which are to follow us.—It is due to those generations which, by the blessing of God, are to spread over and occupy the vast territory which now constitutes the American republic.

Those generations! I see them rising and spreading abroad, as future years roll on! What shall be their character—their regard for civil and religious liberty—their peace, order, happiness, and prosperity, may depend upon the example which we set, and the principles which we inculcate. We are living and acting not only for the present, but for the future. We are making impressions for all time to come. If, then, our history for the future shall be as our history past—filled up with divine blessings, and signal providential interpositions—if the noble work begun, centuries[Pg 18] since, is to go on—if the "fullest liberty and the purest religion" are to prevail as time rolls on—if this vast continent is to be inhabited by enlightened and happy millions—we, who are now on the stage of action, must imitate the example of that pilgrim band, which first landed on Plymouth Rock.

Under the influence of such an example transmitted from generation to generation, we may hope that our beloved country will ultimately become, if she is not already,

"The queen of the world, and the child of the skies."

Impressed with the importance of such sentiments himself, the author will make no apology for offering them as, in his own view, an appropriate introduction to a work chiefly designed for the benefit of the rising generation.

Tailpiece—Discovery of Newfoundland

[Pg 19]




Columbus and Cabot

I. Northmen. Claims for the Northmen—Voyage of Biarné—Leif—Thorwald—Thorfinn—Helge and Finnboge.

II. Columbus. Birth and Education of Columbus—Unsuccessful application to several European Courts—Patronized by Isabella—Sails from Palos—Early Discontent of his crew—Expedients by which they are quieted—Discovery of Land—First appearance of the Natives—Cuba and Hispaniola discovered—Columbus sets sail on his return—Incidents of the voyage—Marks of consideration bestowed upon him—Second Voyage—Further Discoveries—Complaints against him—Third Voyage—Discovery of the[Pg 20] Continent—Persecuted by Enemies—sent home in Chains—Kindness of Isabella—Fourth Voyage—Return and Death.

III. Sebastian Cabot. Discovery of the North American Continent by Sebastian Cabot.


No event, in the history of modern ages, surpasses in interest the discovery of the American Continent. It has scarcely any parallel, indeed, in the annals of the world; whether we consider the difficulty of the undertaking or the magnitude of its consequences. Without any serious question, the honor of the discovery belongs solely to Christopher Columbus. Mankind, hitherto, have so awarded it, and posterity will doubtless confirm the judgment. As, however, a claim to a prior discovery by the Northmen has been brought forward in recent times, it becomes the impartiality of history to notice it, and to give such an account of the circumstances on which the claim is founded, as they may appear to deserve. Whether or not, at the distance of some four or five centuries, the trans-Atlantic continent had been discovered by the Scandinavian voyagers, the merits of the great Italian are far from being affected by the fact.

Northmen leaving Iceland.

Northmen leaving Iceland.

The prominent incidents in this alleged ante-Columbian discovery, it seems, are given on the authority of certain Icelandic manuscripts, the genuineness, and even the existence of which, have formerly been doubted by many; but which, there is now reason to suppose, are entitled to credence. The general story may be received as probable. In the details, there is often something too vague, if not too extraordinary, to entitle it to any historical importance. The adventurous spirit, and even the naval skill of the Northmen, are not a matter of doubt with any who are acquainted with the history of the times to which reference is here made. The seas and the coasts of Europe were the scenes of their exploits—their piracies, their battles, or their colonization. According to the Icelandic statements, Eric the Red, in 986, emigrated from Iceland to Greenland,[Pg 21] and formed there a settlement. Among his companions was Herjulf Bardson, who fixed his residence at a place which was called after him, Herjulfsness. Herjulf had a son, whose name was Biarné, who, with his father, was engaged in trading between Iceland and Norway. Biarné was absent on a trading voyage, when his father accompanied Eric, on the emigration of the latter to Greenland. The son returning to Iceland in a few months, and finding that Herjulf was absent, sailed in pursuit of him. In the course of the sail, having been enveloped in the fogs, he was carried to some unknown distance; but after the fogs were dispersed, land was seen. As, however, it did not answer the description given respecting Greenland, the party did not steer for it. During a sail of several days, they came in sight of land at two different times in succession; and at last, tacking about, and carried by brisk and favorable winds in a north-west direction, they reached the coast of Greenland. This tradition of Biarné's voyage, allowing it to be authentic, would seem to indicate that he[Pg 22] was carried far down on the coast of America, and passed on his return the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Discovery of Labrador.

Discovery of Labrador.

In consequence of this adventure, and the interest which the account of it excited, a voyage of exploration was projected, and at length put into effect. It was conducted by Leif, a son of Eric the Red, an adventurous rover, who selected a company as adventurous as himself, among whom was a German named Tyrker. It was in the year 1000 that the voyage was made. After finding a shore in a direction similar to that in which Biarné took, they landed, calling the region Helluland, which was most probably Labrador. It was an iceberg-lined shore, without grass or verdure. From this spot they put out to sea, and, steering south, they came to another coast, low like the first, but covered with thick wood, except the portion immediately skirting the sea, which consisted of white sand. It was probably Nova Scotia, named by them, however, Markland, or Woodland. They pursued their voyage for two days, under the favor of a north-east wind, when they discovered land for the third time. Here they disembarked on a part of the coast, which[Pg 23] was sheltered by an island. The face of the country was found to be undulating, covered with wood, and bearing a growth of fine fruits and berries. Taking to their vessel again, they proceeded west in search of a harbor, which they were so fortunate as to find. It was at the mouth of a river proceeding from a lake. They first made the river and then the lake; in the latter they cast anchor. In this spot they erected huts in which to pass the winter. When thus established, Leif made a division of his company into two parties, for the purpose, on the one hand, of watching the settlement, and, on the other, of exploring the country.

In performing the latter service it happened, on one occasion, that the German Tyrker, above named, failed to return at night. After much anxiety and search, he was discovered, having found during his wanderings a region which afforded an abundance of grapes. The country, from this incident, was named Vinland or Wineland. From the mention which they made of the rising and the setting of the sun, at the shortest day, it has been inferred that the island was Nantucket, and the region called Vinland embraced the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They returned to Greenland the following season.

Thorwald, a brother of Leif, next undertook to make a voyage, to the newly discovered land beyond the ocean. This was in 1002. We need not mention the particulars, but may state generally that the adventurers continued in Vinland till the year 1004, and that the expedition terminated unfortunately in the death of Thorwald. He was killed in a skirmish with certain Esquimaux, with whom the party came in contact in three several boats. Before breathing his last, he gave directions as to the spot where they should inter him. The rest returned to Greenland.

Following this adventure, the third son of Eric, named Thornstein, embarked with his wife Gudrida, in search of the body of Thorwald. But he never reached the country. He was eventually driven back to Greenland, where he died.

[Pg 24]

The next expedition seems to have been a project to colonize the country. The vessels were three in number, on board of which one hundred and forty men embarked, who took with them all kinds of live stock. The leaders on this occasion were Thorfinn, who married the widow of Thornstein, Biarné Grimolfson, and Thorhall Gamlason. The enterprise appears to have been attended with a measure of success. They erected their tents, and fortified them in the best manner they were able, as a protection against the natives. An incident of some interest is mentioned as having occurred in their trade with the latter. These were eager for arms, but as they were not suffered to become an article of barter, one of the natives seized an axe, and, in order to test its efficacy, struck a companion with it, who was killed on the spot. The affair shocked them exceedingly; but in the midst of the confusion, the axe having been seized by one who appeared to be a chief, was critically inspected for a while, and then violently cast into the sea.

An Incident in the Camp of the Northmen.

An Incident in the Camp of the Northmen.

The period of their continuance in Vinland was three[Pg 25] years. They found it a beautiful country, while residing in it. Thorfinn had a son born to him, whom he named Snorre, the first child of European descent born on this continent, the ancestor of many distinguished personages now living. Among them is the noted sculptor Thorwaldsen. Thorfinn and a part of his company returned at length to Iceland. The remainder still continued in Vinland, where they were afterwards joined by an expedition led by two brothers, Helge and Finnboge, from Greenland. But this latter enterprise ended tragically, a large number of the colonists having been killed in a quarrel, which a wicked female adventurer in the expedition had excited. A few other voyages to Vinland, either accidental or designed, were made by the Northmen during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, some of them connected with attempts to propagate Christianity among the natives, but no interesting results are spoken of, and the whole project of colonizing the new region seems to have been not only abandoned, but to have passed from the minds of men. On the supposition that the records are true, which in general may be admitted, the colony could not have had a long continuance, and it is certain that no remains of it have ever appeared, unless some questionable accounts of the Jesuists, or the more questionable inscriptions on Dighton-rock. It was not until the era of Columbus that the world was awakened to the enterprise, or even to the thought of discovering land beyond the Western ocean. Whether he knew or did not know, respecting the adventures of the Scandinavians in those northern seas, it is hardly to be supposed that he could have the remotest conception that the country they called Vinland was the same as the Indies, which he proposed to reach by sailing due west. The honor, first of his theory, and then of his achievement, is therefore, in no degree diminished, by the facts above narrated, so far as they may be believed to be facts. He after all stands prëeminent among men, as the discoverer of the new world. It was certainly, at that period, new to European knowledge and adventure.

[Pg 26]




It is not ascertained in what year the birth of this illustrious individual occurred. Some authorities have placed it in 1446, others have removed it back eight or ten years farther. As he died in 1506, and was said by Bernaldez, one of his cotemporaries and intimates, to have departed "in a good old age of seventy, a little more or less,"[1] it would seem, abating the vagueness of the expression, that about 1436 was the period. The place of his birth also has been a subject of controversy, but the evidence is decidedly in favor of Genoa. His parentage was humble, though probably of honorable descent. It is generally believed that his father exercised the craft of a wool-carder or weaver. Christopher was the eldest of four children, having two brothers, Bartholomew and Diego, and one sister, who was obscurely connected in life. In his early youth he was instructed at Pavia, a place then celebrated for education,[Pg 27] and is said there to have acquired that taste for mathematical studies in which he afterwards excelled. Of geographical science he was particularly enamored, as it became also to be the favorite study of an adventurous age. It doubtless gave a direction, in some measure, to the course which Columbus pursued in life. At the early age of fourteen years, he began to follow the seas, and after continuing this profession for more than sixteen years, he proceeded to Portugal, the country of maritime enterprise at that era. Hither the adventurous spirits of Europe repaired, where they sought their fortunes in this department of business. Columbus mingled in the exciting scenes of the country and the times. Sailing from thence, he continued to make voyages to the various then known parts of the world, and while on shore, he occupied his time in the construction and sale of maps and charts. Thus furnished with all the nautical science of the times, and with a large fund of experience, he was prepared to enter upon those speculations, respecting the possibility of lands lying beyond the western waters, the result of which, when put into practice, proved to be so auspicious to the interests of mankind. What will not a single thought, when pursued as it may be, sometimes effect! In our hero, it brought to light the existence of a new world. His single object appeared to be, to find the eastern shores of Asia, or some unknown tract, by sailing due west.

How far that idea was original with him, it is not very material to ascertain. If not the first individual to conceive it, he was the first to carry it into execution. That land existed beyond the Atlantic, was a conjecture merely of the ancients. Seneca comes the nearest to a direct intimation, though as a poetic fancy it claims no serious consideration. As the idea is given by Frenau, he says:

"The time shall come when numerous years are past,
The ocean shall dissolve the band of things,
And an extended region rise at last:
[Pg 28] And Typhis shall disclose the mighty land,
Far, far away, where none have roamed before:
Nor shall the world's remotest region be
Gibraltar's rock, or Thule's savage shore,"

Ferdinand Columbus informs us, that his father's conviction of the existence of land in the west was founded on—1, natural reason, or the deductions of science; 2, authority of writers, amounting, however, to vague surmises; 3, testimony of sea-faring persons, or rather popular rumors of land, described in western voyages, embracing such relics as appeared to be wafted from over the Atlantic to Europe. What particular intimations he may have received, either from authors or sailors, do not appear; since, in his voyage to Iceland, no mention is made of his having learned the story of the Scandinavian voyages to the northern portion of America. It is possible, however, that he may have been informed of them; and the reason why no mention was made by him was, as M. Humboldt conjectures, that he had no conception that the land discovered by the Northmen had any connection with the region of which he was in pursuit. The traditions which he may have met with, and the speculations of the times, were realized in his view. So strong was the conviction which had been wrought in his mind, from whatever cause, he was willing to jeopard life and fortune to put it to the test of experiment.

With this grand object before him, he first submitted his theory of a western route to the Indies, to John the Second, king of Portugal. He met with no countenance from this quarter. His project, in its vastness, was in advance of the comprehension of the age. John was not unwilling clandestinely to avail himself of information communicated to him by Columbus, but he would enter into no stipulation to aid him in the enterprise. Leaving the court of Lisbon in disgust, in the latter part of 1484, Columbus repaired to the Spanish sovereigns, Ferdinand and Isabella. The time of the application was peculiarly unfavorable, as the nation was then in the midst of the Moorish war, and needed for its prosecution all the pecuniary resources of the state.[Pg 29] The persons of influence also in the court, were destitute of those enlarged views, which are essential to a just appreciation of the scheme that fired the great mind of Columbus. With these causes of discouragement, and the submission of his proposal on the part of the sovereigns to a council chiefly of ecclesiastics, he had little reason to expect a favorable issue. After waiting years in the most agitating suspense and doubt (for the council would come to no decision), he was preparing to abandon the suit. Pressing the court for a definite answer at that juncture, they at last gave him to understand, that his scheme was "vain, impracticable, and resting on grounds too weak to merit the support of the government." In deep despondency he quitted the court, and took his way to the south, as if in desperation, to seek other patronage in other quarters.

From the period of his application to the Spanish court, to that at which we are now arrived in his history, it would seem that he made several attempts to interest other distinguished personages in his scheme, particularly the citizens of his native Genoa; but the early authorities so disagree among themselves, that the chronology of his movements, previously to his first voyage, cannot be determined with precision. It is certain, however, that while in the act of leaving Spain, probably for the court of the French king, from whom he had received a letter of encouragement, he was purposely detained by a friend, Juan Perez, (who had formerly been a confessor of Isabella,) for the purpose of trying the effect of another application to the Spanish sovereigns. This measure, seconded by the influence of several distinguished individuals, and occurring just at the triumphant termination of the Moorish war, had well nigh proved successful at once; but Columbus was again doomed to disappointment. The single obstacle in the way now, was not the disinclination of Ferdinand and Isabella, but what were deemed the extravagant demands of Columbus himself. He would not consent to engage in the undertaking, except on the condition that he and his heirs should receive[Pg 30] the title of admiral and viceroy over all lands discovered by him, with one-tenth of the profits. This demand was the means of breaking up the negotiations, and that at the moment when he seemed to be on the point of realizing the visions which he had fondly indulged, through long years of vexation, trouble, and disappointment. That he would consent to dash those bright visions, rather than surrender one of the rewards due to his service, is, in the language of our Prescott, "the most remarkable exhibition in his whole life, of that proud, unyielding spirit which sustained him through so many years of trial, and enabled him to achieve his great enterprise, in the face of every obstacle which man and nature had opposed to it."

Columbus before Ferdinand and Isabella.

Columbus before Ferdinand and Isabella.

Columbus again having turned his back from the scene of the negotiations, had proceeded only a few leagues distant, when he was recalled by the royal message. The queen in the meanwhile had yielded to the dictates of her own noble and generous nature, having been convinced of the importance of the enterprise, by the powerful representations[Pg 31] of the friends of our hero. She said at once in answer, "I will assume the undertaking for my own crown of Castile, and will pledge my private jewels to raise the necessary funds, if the means in the treasury should be found inadequate." The money, however, was furnished by the receiver of the revenues of Arragon, and subsequently refunded at the instance of Ferdinand.[2] The conditions on which Columbus had insisted, in the event of discovery, were finally granted. He was constituted by the united sovereigns, their admiral, viceroy, and governor-general, of all such countries as he should discover in the Western ocean. He was to be entitled to one-tenth of the products and profits, within the limits of his discoveries. These, with other privileges of a like kind, not necessary to name here, were settled on him and his heirs for ever. Thus possessing the royal sanction, Columbus immediately entered upon the arrangements required to prosecute the voyage. Isabella urged it forward to the extent of her power. Delay, however, unavoidably occurred, on account of the opposition or indifference of the local magistrates and the people where the equipment was to be made. This obstacle was at length removed, by stern edicts on the part of the government and by the energy of Columbus. The fleet consisted of three vessels, one furnished by himself, through the assistance of his friends, and was to sail from the little port of Palos in Andalusia. Two of the vessels were caravels—that is, light vessels without decks—the other was of a larger burden, though not amounting even to an hundred tons. How such craft could survive the waves and storms of the Atlantic, is one of the marvelous circumstances of the undertaking. The number of men received on board amounted to one hundred and twenty. The preparations having been finished, the undaunted navigator set sail on the morning of the 3d of August, 1492, having first with his whole crew partaken of the sacrament.

[Pg 32]

Columbus sets sail.

Columbus sets sail.

He soon directed his course to the Canary islands, in consequence of the condition of one of the vessels, called the Pinta, whose rudder had been found to be unfit for service. This, after a detention of more than three weeks, was repaired, and they then, on the 6th of September, proceeded on their voyage. On the fourth day, land ceased to be in sight, and now the fearful reality of their condition pressed upon the minds of the sailors with overpowering weight. They had been pressed into the service, and from the beginning were averse to the enterprise. Columbus had reason, therefore, to expect the open manifestation of discontent, if not insubordination and mutiny. The first exhibition of their feelings, upon losing sight of land, was that of alarm and terror. Many of them shed tears, and broke out into loud lamentations—all before them seemed to be mystery, danger, and death. It was by no means easy to quell their fears, and it required all the address of the admiral to effect it. Their minds were, in a degree, soothed for that time by the promises of land and riches, which he addressed to their wants or their cupidity. Every[Pg 33] unusual incident, however, on the voyage, was calculated to awaken their gloomy and distressing apprehensions, such as the sight of a part of a mast, when they had sailed some one hundred and fifty leagues, and the variation of the needles. The former presented to their imagination the probable wreck of their own frail barks. The variation of the needle created surprise even in the mind of the admiral, but to his crew the circumstance seemed perfectly terrific. They felt as if the very laws of nature were undergoing a change, and the compass was about to lose its virtues and its power, as a guide over the waste of waters. Columbus, however, by ascribing the variation of the needle to the change of the polar-star itself, satisfied the minds of his pilots, inasmuch as they entertained a high opinion of his knowledge of astronomy. The distance at which they were every day carried from their homes, was a source of accumulating uneasiness. Every sort of superstitious fear was indulged in. One while, the prevalence of winds from the east, excited their apprehensions that a return to Spain was impracticable. At another time, the slight south-west breezes and frequent calms, causing the ocean to seem like a lake of dead water, made them feel that they were in strange regions, where nature was out of course, and all was different from that to which they had been accustomed. Here they thought they might be left to perish, on stagnant and boundless waters. Now, they seemed to themselves to be in danger of falling on concealed rocks and treacherous quicksands—then, of being inextricably entangled in vast masses of seaweed which lay in their path. Although Columbus had contrived to keep his men ignorant of the real distance they had come, yet the length of time could but tell them that they must be far, very far from country and home, and that their ever going on to the west, would at length place the east too remote from them to hope ever reaching it. They had been occasionally cheered with what were deemed indications of their proximity to land, such as the flying of birds about their fleet, the patches of weeds and herbs covering the[Pg 34] surface of the water, and a certain cloudiness in the distant horizon, such as hangs over land; but these had proved fallacious; and the higher hope was raised by such appearances, the deeper was its fall when the appearances passed away.

This state of things led to murmurs and discontent, and at one time, the crew were on the point of combining in open and desperate rebellion. The power which the great admiral possessed over the minds of men, was never more signalized, than in putting down this spirit of insubordination and mutiny. He was perfectly aware of their intentions, but preserved a serene and steady countenance. He seemed intuitively to understand in what way to address himself to the different portions of his company. Some, he soothed with gentle words. Of others, he stimulated the pride or avarice, by the offers of honors and rewards. The most refractory he openly menaced with condign punishment, should they make the slightest attempt at impeding the voyage.

After the experience of long-continued calms, the wind sprang up in a favorable direction, and they were enabled efficiently to prosecute their voyage. This was on the 25th of September, and the vessels sailing quite near to each other, a frequent interchange of conversation took place on the subject most interesting to them—their probable position as to land. In the midst of it, a shout from the Pinta was heard on board the Santa Maria, the admiral's ship, "Land, land!"—the signal pointing to the south-west. Columbus, who had found cause on other occasions to dissent from the opinions of his men, gave way, in this instance, to the joyful feelings which were at once excited in their bosoms: but it proved, at length, that what appeared to be land, was nothing more than an evening cloud of a peculiar kind. Thus were their hopes dashed, and nothing remained for them but to press onward. Fain would the crew have turned back upon their course, but the commander was sternly resolute on realizing his magnificent project, and pressed forward still deeper into mid-ocean.

[Pg 35]

It is a necessary explanation of the character of this extraordinary man, that he appeared all along to view himself under the immediate guardianship of Heaven, in this solemn enterprise. He consequently felt few or none of the misgivings which so strongly affected his associates. For several days longer they continued on, till on the 1st of October, they had advanced more than seven hundred leagues since the Canary islands were left behind. Again the murmurs of the crew were renewed, but, in this instance, became soon hushed by increasing tokens of their nearness to land. Indeed, so sanguine were they on the subject, that on the 7th of October, on board of the Nina, land was again announced. But it proved a delusion, and all except Columbus were ready to abandon hope. At the end of three days more, they saw the sun, after renewed appearances betokening their neighborhood to land, go down upon a shoreless horizon. At this time the turbulence of the crew became clamorous—they insisted upon turning homeward, and abandoning the voyage as a forlorn hope. The commander now, after trying to pacify them by kind words and large promises, and trying in vain, arose in the majesty of his undaunted heart, and gave them to understand that all murmuring would be fruitless, and that, with God's blessing, he would accomplish the purpose for which his sovereigns had sent him on a voyage of discovery. Fortunately, at this juncture, when the conduct of Columbus had become nearly desperate, the indications of neighboring land could not be mistaken. Besides fresh weed, the limb of a tree, a reed, and a small board, they picked up an artificially carved staff. Soon despondency and rebellion gave way to hope, and, throughout the day, every person on board of the little fleet was on the watch for the long-wished-for land.

First sight of land from Columbus' ship.

First sight of land from Columbus' ship.

The following evening was a time of intense anxiety to Columbus. He could but infer that he was near to the goal of his adventures and his hopes. But was it so indeed? That was the question, and it must now be soon decided. Would the night reveal it to him? Would its discoveries settle[Pg 36] for ever the truth of his theory, and bring to him the immortal honor which he sought, as the end of all his toil and suffering? Taking his station in a conspicuous part of his vessel, he maintained an intense and unremitting watch. A few hours only had transpired, when suddenly he thought he beheld a light glimmering at a great distance. One and another was called to examine the appearance, in order to confirm the commander in his impression, if indeed it was correct. They gave their opinion in the affirmative. Soon, however, the light disappeared, and few attached any importance to it, except Columbus. They pursued their course until two in the morning, when from the Pinta, which generally sailed ahead, the thundering signal was heard, the order being that a gun should be fired as soon as land hove in sight. It was indeed land at this time. It lay before them, now dimly seen, about two leagues distant. The joy which Columbus and his crew felt at the sight, surpasses the power of description. It is difficult, even for the imagination, to conceive the emotions of such a man, in whose temperament[Pg 37] a wonderful enthusiasm and unbounded aspiration prevailed, at the moment of so sublime a discovery. Utterance was given to his intense feelings by tears, and prayers, and thanksgivings.

It was on the morning of Friday, 12th of October, 1492, that Columbus first saw the new world. A beautiful, fragrant, verdure-crowned island lay before him, and evidently populous, for the inhabitants were seen darting, in great numbers, through the woods to the shore. That greenhouse appearance, which the regions within the tropics are known generally to assume, together with the purity and blandness of the atmosphere, struck the senses of the voyagers, as though it had been Eden itself. They could give vent to their feelings only in tears of gratitude—in prayers and praises to God, who had conducted them to such happy destinies. Having made the necessary preparations, Columbus landed with his crew on the delightful shore, in an ecstasy of joy and devotion, taking possession of the whole region in the name of his sovereigns, and calling the island San Salvador. It proved to be one of what has since been known as the Bahama islands.

The conduct and appearance of the natives were such as to show that the Spaniards had no reason to fear their hostility or treachery. Simple, harmless, naked, and unarmed, they seemed rather to be at the mercy of their visitors. Equally timid and curious, they were at first shy; but being encouraged to approach the strangers, they at length became entirely familiar with them, and received presents with expressions of the highest delight. The new comers to their shores were thought to have dropped from the skies, and the articles bestowed were received as celestial presents. All was a scene of wonder and amazement indeed to both parties.

As Columbus supposed himself to have landed on an island at the extremity of India, he gave to the natives the general appellation of Indians, by which, as a distinct race, they have ever since been known.

[Pg 38]

Interview of Columbus with the Natives of Cuba.

Interview of Columbus with the Natives of Cuba.

After having noticed the features of the new-found island sufficiently, and learned what he was able from the natives in respect to other lands or islands, and particularly in respect to the gold they might contain, he explored the archipelago around, touched at several of the groups, and finally discovered the larger and more distant islands of Cuba and Hispaniola. Many interesting adventures occurred during his sojourn among these islands, in his intercourse with the natives, upon which we cannot enlarge. Suffice it to say, that he succeeded according to his wishes in conciliating the affections of the people, and in the extent of his discoveries for the first voyage, but found a less amount of gold than he expected, and was unfortunate in the shipwreck of the Santa Maria, the principal vessel. His trials, also, with several of his subordinates in office, were severe; as, on more than one occasion, they proved unfaithful to his interests and disobedient to his commands.

Columbus casting a barrel into the sea.

Columbus casting a barrel into the sea.

It was on the 4th of January, 1493, that Columbus set sail for Spain. He left a part of his men in the island of Hispaniola (Hayti, in the language of the original inhabitants),[Pg 39] to occupy a fort he had built near a harbor, which he had named La Navidad. While coasting on the eastern side of the island, he met the Pinta, which had for a time, under its disaffected captain, deserted from him. Joined by this vessel again, they proceeded homeward on their voyage; but they met with tempests, which their frail barks were little able to encounter. The Pinta, being separated from the Nina, was supposed to have been lost; but this proved to have be a mistake, as she reached Spain nearly at the same time with the other caravel. At the time of their greatest extremity, when all hope of safety had departed, Columbus, anxious that the knowledge of his discovery might be communicated to the world, wrote a brief account of his voyage; and having properly secured it in a barrel, committed the latter to the ocean, in the hope that it might afterwards be found, should he and his crew never see land again.[3] But they were[Pg 40] mercifully preserved, as the storm at length subsided, and, within a few days, they reached the island of St. Mary's, one of the Azores.

While he was at that island, where he had sought a refuge for his wearied men and his own over-tasked body and mind, he encountered a species of persecution most disgraceful to civilized society. It was the result of the mean malignity of the Portuguese, who were piqued that the honor of the discovery should not have been secured for themselves, and was manifested by the imprisonment of a portion of his crew, and other vexatious treatment. At length, regaining his men, he set sail for home; but, meeting with tempestuous weather, he was forced to take shelter in the Tagus. Here astonishment and envy seemed to be equally excited by the knowledge of his discoveries; and, could certain courtiers of the monarch have had their own way, the great adventurer[Pg 41] would have been stricken down by the hand of the assassin. So black a deed of treacherous villany had been advised. The king, however, treated him with generosity, and Columbus being dismissed with safety, soon found himself entering the harbor of Palos, just seven months and eleven days since his departure from that port.

His arrival in Spain excited the most lively feelings of astonishment, joy, and gratitude. The nation was swayed by one common sentiment of admiration of the man and his exploits. Ferdinand and Isabella, who seemed to derive so much glory from his success, most of all participated in this sentiment. He was the universal theme, and most amply was he indemnified by the honors now bestowed upon him, and the enthusiasm with which he was every where welcomed, for all the neglect and contumely he had previously suffered, as a supposed insane or fanatical projector. His progress through Spain was like the triumphal march of a conqueror. But it is impossible, within the limited compass of this narrative, to present any thing like an adequate idea of the sensation which was produced throughout the nation and Europe at large, by the events that had thus transpired, or to enumerate the hundredth part of the marks of consideration, which "the observed of all observers" received from prince and peasant—from the learned and ignorant. The government confirmed anew to him all the dignities, privileges, and emoluments for which he had before stipulated, and others were added to them. But to Columbus, the most satisfactory consideration accorded to him by his sovereigns at this time, was the request to attempt a second voyage of discovery. For this, the preparations were on a scale commensurate to the object in view.

The complement of the fleet amounted to fifteen hundred souls. Among these were many who enlisted from love of adventure or glory, including several persons of rank, hidalgos, and members of the royal household. The squadron consisted of seventeen vessels, three of which were of one[Pg 42] hundred tons burden each. With a navy of this size, so strongly contrasting with that of his former voyage, he took his departure from the Bay of Cadiz on the 25th of September, 1493. He sailed on a course somewhat south of west, instead of due west as before, and after being upon the sea one month and seven days, he came to a lofty island, to which he gave the name of Dominica, from having discovered it on Sunday. The liveliest joy was felt by the numerous company, and devout thanks were returned to God for their prosperous voyage.

Sad reverses, however, awaited the great commander during this voyage of discovery. The garrison which he had left on the island of Hispaniola had disappeared, and the natives seemed less favorably disposed towards the white man than at first—a change which probably accounts for the fate of the garrison. Columbus, indeed, added other islands to the list of those before known, planted stations here and there on the principal island above named, and showed his usual unequaled energy and skill in the conduct of the expedition. But, as he could not be every where at once, his absence from a place was the sure signal of misrule and insubordination among that class of adventurers who had never been accustomed to subjection or labor. His cautious and conciliating policy in the treatment of the natives was abandoned, where he could not be present to enforce it, and, the consequence was, that they were aroused to resentment, on account of the injuries inflicted upon them. The treatment of the female natives, on the part of the colonists, was of that scandalous character calculated to produce continual broils and collisions. Eventually, a fierce warlike spirit was excited among portions of this naturally gentle and timid people; but they proved to be unequal to the civilized man, with the superior arms and discipline of the latter, in hostile encounter, and were driven before him as the leaves of autumn before a storm. There was such a war of extermination, that, in less than four years after the Spaniards had set foot on the island of Hispaniola, one-third[Pg 43] of its population, amounting probably to several hundred thousand, was destroyed.

Complaints were made by the colonists against the administration of Columbus, so that eventually he felt the necessity of returning home to vindicate his proceedings. Ferdinand and Isabella, however, took no part with the malcontents against him. They treated him with marked distinction; but it was evident that with the novelty of his discoveries, the enthusiasm of the nation had passed away. It was generally felt to be a losing concern. The actual returns of gold and other products of the new world were so scanty, as to bear no proportion to the outlays.

A third expedition was projected, and after various hindrances, arising from the difficulty of meeting the expense, and the apathy of the public, Columbus took his departure from the port of St. Lucas, May 30, 1498. Proceeding in a still more southerly direction than before, on the 1st of August following, he succeeded in reaching terra firma. He thus entitled himself to the glory of discovering the great southern continent, for which he had before prepared the way.

It is not necessary to detail the events of this expedition, except to say, that it proved a source of untold evil and suffering to the veteran navigator. After his arrival at Hispaniola, he was involved in inextricable difficulties with the colonists, the final result of which was, that he was sent home in chains. This shocking indignity was the unauthorized act of a commissioner, named Boadilla, sent out by the government to adjust the differences that had taken place. The king and queen of Spain thus became unwittingly the cause of his disgrace. This was too much for the kind and generous feelings of the queen in particular. Columbus was soothed by the assurances of her sympathy and sorrow for his trials. "When he beheld the emotion of his royal mistress, and listened to her consolatory language, it was too much for his loyal and generous heart; and, throwing himself on his knees, he gave vent to his[Pg 44] feelings, and sobbed aloud."[4] As an indication of the continued confidence of the king and queen in his fidelity, wisdom, and nautical skill, they proposed to him a fourth voyage. To this he assented, with some reluctance at first; but, cheered by their assurances, he quitted the port of Cadiz on the 9th of March, 1502, with a small squadron of four caravels. This was his last voyage, and more disastrous than any which preceded it. Among other misfortunes, he was wrecked on the island of Jamaica, where he was permitted to linger more than a year, through the malice of Ovando, the new governor of St. Domingo. On his return, the 7th of November, 1504, after a most perilous and tedious voyage, he was destined to feel the heaviest stroke of all, in the death of his most constant and liberal supporter, the queen; and, with her death, to fail of that public justice which he had looked for as the crown of all his labors, hardships, and sacrifices. The king, always wary and distrustful, though he treated Columbus with high public consideration, seems to have regarded him "in the unwelcome light of a creditor, whose demands were never to be disavowed, and too large to be satisfied." The great discoverer lived only a year and a half after his return; and, though poorly compensated by the king in his last days, he bore his trials with patience, and died on the 5th of May, 1506, in the most Christian spirit of resignation.

Tailpiece—Prairie Scene

[Pg 45]


Although the evidence of history establishes the claim of Columbus, as the first discoverer of the new world, including in that term the West Indian archipelago, yet there were other meritorious voyagers, who extended the knowledge of these new regions, thus laid open to mankind. Others there were, who, stimulated by his success, and following his steps, enlarged the boundaries of geographical science even beyond the actual discoveries of Columbus. Among these voyagers was the admirable Sebastian Cabot, whose merits have never been fully acknowledged as they deserved to be, having been overlooked, in a measure, through the greater admiration bestowed on his predecessor. He belonged to a family distinguished for their spirit of adventure, as his father before him was an eminent navigator, and he was associated with two brothers, apparently possessing the same love of a sea-faring life. The father of Sebastian was an Italian, but the son was born in Bristol, England, in 1477. The family was fitted out with five ships, for the purpose of discovery, by the English government, who granted a patent, under date of March 6th, 1496, to John Cabot, the father, as leader of the expedition. He was, however, rather the overseer or adviser of the concern, than the leader. The real conductor of it was Sebastian, who, through his modesty, failed to secure for himself that consideration from the world which was his due.

His object, like that of Columbus, was to find a passage to India; but not in the direction which the latter took. The idea which possessed the mind of Cabot was, that India might be reached by sailing north-west. He left Bristol in the spring of 1497, and on the 24th of June, in pursuing his course, he came unexpectedly, and to his disappointment, in sight of land, and was thus impeded as to his progress in that direction. It was the North American continent which he had approached. The land seen was the coast of Labrador,[Pg 46] as also an island that received the name of St. John's island, from the day on which it was discovered. Cabot has recorded, in all simplicity, how the affair happened. He supposed himself to be on the direct route to India, "but, after certayne dayes," said he, "I found that the land ranne towards the north, which was to mee a great displeasure." St. John's island he describes as "full of white bears, and stagges far greater than the English." From this point he steered his course towards the bay since called Hudson's bay; but, after several days' sailing, he yielded to the discontent of the crew, and returned to England.

Cabot conducted a second expedition, which sailed from Bristol in 1498. He reached Labrador again, where he left a portion of his crew, in order to commence a colony, while he proceeded on his voyage. But success did not reward his attempt, and, on his return to Labrador, he found the colonists, from the sufferings they had experienced in that cold and sterile region, clamorous for a return. He accordingly submitted to their demands, and, laying his course to the south as far as the Cape of Florida, he rëcrossed the ocean. The notes which he took of his voyage have unhappily been lost.

In 1517 he was again employed, in an expedition from England; but though he penetrated to about the sixty-seventh degree of north latitude, and entered Hudson's bay, giving names to various places in the vicinity, he was compelled to return, through the cowardice of an officer high in command, Sir Thomas Pert, and the disaffection of the crew. They had not the spirit to encounter the rigor and privations of the climate.

Notwithstanding these and his subsequent services for his country, he was suffered in the end to fall into poverty and neglect. His life was filled with adventures and changes. For several years he was employed in the service of the king of Spain, and during one of the expeditions on which he was sent from that country, he made the important discovery of the Rio de la Plata. He occasionally returned[Pg 47] to England, and at length made it his resting-place. Gloom overshadowed his latter days. His pension, at the accession of Mary, was suspended for two years, and, though restored, it was diminished the one-half. He survived to a great age, being over eighty years, dying as is supposed in London, but when no record shows. Not the slightest memorial points out the place of his sepulture.

It is quite certain that the date of Cabot's discovery of the Western continent is more than one year anterior to that of Columbus, the latter having reached the southern portion of it August 1st, 1498, while Cabot reached the northern portion June 24th, 1497. Amerigo Vespucci, who has carried away the honor of giving name to the continent, did not reach it until nearly two years after the English adventurer. But Columbus, in his first voyage, having ascertained the existence of regions beyond the Atlantic, became in effect the earliest and real discoverer. Except for his sublime theory and adventurous experiment, the age, probably, would not have furnished a Sebastian Cabot or an Amerigo Vespucci.

Tailpiece—Columbus at Hispaniola

[Pg 48]


Early Settlements


Unsuccessful attempts to settle America—Expeditions of Sir Humphrey Gilbert—Sir Walter Raleigh—Sir Richard Grenville—Sir John White-First permanent settlement at Jamestown—Colonists early in want—Dissensions in their Councils—Hostility of the Indians—Capture of Captain Smith—Generous conduct of Pocahontas—Gloomy condition of the Colony—Timely arrival of assistance—Returning prosperity—Establishment of a Provisional government—Introduction of Negro Slavery—Cruel Massacre of the Colonists.

When the new world, as America has since been familiarly called, was opened to the enterprise and cupidity of Europeans, it became an object to effect settlements in it from time to time. Accordingly, during a period of more than one hundred years from the discovery of San Salvador by Columbus, attempts were made for this purpose, either by adventurers in search of other discoveries, or by expeditions fitted out to occupy regions already known. So far, however, as the northern portion of the continent was concerned, these attempts proved entirely without success.[Pg 49] There was no want of excitement and effort at this remarkable era, on the part of individuals. The strange story of the voyages of Columbus awakened the spirit of adventure in Europe, as it was never felt before. Vessel after vessel, and fleet after fleet, were despatched to the new-discovered continent, but the object in view was rather to find gold than a home; and even where the latter was sought, the preparations were either inadequate, or the undertaking was indifferently contrived and managed. Sebastian Cabot, who discovered Newfoundland; James Cartier, who first entered the Gulf of St. Lawrence; Ferdinand de Soto, who first ascertained the existence of the Mississippi; Sir Walter Raleigh, among the earliest adventurers to Virginia, and Bartholomew Gosnold, to whom Cape Cod was first known, and all of whom attempted settlements for a longer or shorter period, were unsuccessful, and disappointed in the end. The English were not thoroughly engaged in the business of colonizing America, until the latter part of the sixteenth century, when several successive attempts were made to settle Virginia. The first expedition was conducted by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who failed in his object, having never reached Virginia; and being shipwrecked, perished with all his crew on the return voyage to England. In 1584, the enterprise was confided to the auspices of Sir Walter Raleigh, who, in the spring of that year, despatched two small barks, under the command severally of Amidas and Barlow. After going much farther south than was necessary, and experiencing the sickness incident to the season, they proceeded northerly till they made a harbor, taking possession of the adjoining land, "for the queen's most excellent majestie," and in a short time afterward came to the island of Roanoke. Nothing was effected by this voyage, except a little trafficking with the natives, and the favorable account which was given of the country, upon the return of the expedition. In the third expedition, which was conducted by Sir Richard Grenville, under Sir Walter, in 1585, a company was landed on Roanoke, consisting of[Pg 50] one hundred and eight persons, who, upon the return of the ship, were left to settle the country. But being reduced to extremities for want of sustenance, and by the hostility of the Indians, they all returned to England the next year with Sir Francis Drake. In the mean while, 1585, Sir Walter Raleigh and his associates made a voyage to Virginia, taking supplies for the colony; but after spending some time in the country, and not finding the colonists, they returned to England.

Early Settlers trading with the Natives.

Early Settlers trading with the Natives.

In the earlier attempts at settlement, after the spirit of conquest and adventure had been somewhat satiated, the object in view, so far as the English were engaged in it, was the acquisition of tributary provinces, and the wealth which they would bring to the parent states. In this line of policy, England but followed the example of Spain and Portugal, yet with far less energy, and with no manner of success. The signal failures that were experienced turned attention, at length, to more sober and rational projects—to regular colonization and commerce. But the success, even here, was quite indifferent for several years. Mercenary views obtained the precedence. That[Pg 51] moral heroism, which submits to any extremity of toil and self-denial for the objects of religious faith, could not be summoned to the support of these merely secular adventures. So far as colonization was calculated upon as a source of wealth directly, it did not feel the influence of a self-sustaining motive. It needed, as will soon be seen, other views of colonization, to render the scheme completely successful, in regions remote from tropical riches and luxuries. What more might have been done to insure success, had the kings and princes of Europe been at leisure to prosecute the object with the means in their power, is not now to be ascertained. It is clear, from the history of the times, that they could ill afford the necessary leisure, in consequence of the multiplicity and weight of their own individual concerns. Wars, negociations, schemes of policy, and the adjustment of ecclesiastical relations, occupied the rulers of England and France, as also Germany and nearly all the continent, almost exclusively through the sixteenth century. Of that which was achieved in the way of discovery and temporary settlement, in the northern portion of the American continent, much was left to individual enterprise and resources; and the universal failure of permanent colonization was almost the unavoidable result, connected, indeed, with the mercenary motive and bad management with which it was prosecuted.

The first settlement of a permanent character, effected by the English in North America, was at Jamestown, in Virginia, in 1607. To that portion of the continent, as has been just detailed, more numerous and vigorous efforts at settlement had been directed than to any other on the coast, and with what results has also appeared. No one can read the account of these early and unfortunate attempts to settle our country, without deeply lamenting the fate of those brave adventurers who were engaged in them. In the Virginia enterprise, religion and its blessings were not the direct moving influences on the minds of the adventurers; but they were a gallant and public spirited class of[Pg 52] the English people, and many of them of the better orders of society.

Their failure, however, did not check the spirit of enterprise; a settlement was determined on, and it was providentially effected. Under the sanction of a grant from King James, of the southern equal half of the territory lying between the thirty-fourth and forty-fifth degrees of latitude, an association was constituted, called the London Company, who undertook the colonization of their portion of the country. This was called the Southern Colony. The expedition consisted of three small vessels, under the command of Captain Christopher Newport, a man of great nautical experience. Neither they who were designed for the magistracy, nor the code of laws, could be known until the arrival of the fleet in Virginia, when the sealed orders, committed to the commander, might be broken. It would seem, from the early accounts, that a portion of the emigrants were but little influenced by the considerations of religion or propriety, from the disorders that occurred during the voyage; but their pious preacher, Mr. Hunt, at length, "with the water of patience and his godly exhortations (but chiefly by his true-devoted examples) quenched these flames of envy and dissension."

In searching for Roanoke, they were driven by a storm to a different part of the coast; the first land they made being a cape, which they called Cape Henry. Thus discovering and sailing up the Chesapeake bay, they came, at length, to a place suited to their purpose. Here they commenced in earnest their great work of settlement, calling the place Jamestown, in honor of King James. According to directions, the box containing the orders was opened, and the names of Bartholomew Gosnold, John Smith, Edward Wingfield, Christopher Newport, John Radcliffe, John Martin, and George Kendall, were found as constituting the council. These were to choose a president from among themselves, for a year, who, with the council, should conduct and govern the colony. Mr. Wingfield was elected[Pg 53] president, while one of the most distinguished of them, Captain John Smith, on account of suspicions entertained respecting his ambitious views, was excluded, for a time, from the council. The plan of government was, that matters of moment were to be examined by a jury, but determined by the major part of the council, in which the president had two votes.

While erecting accommodations for themselves, and during the absence of a portion of the men on discoveries in the country, they were molested by the savages, with some small loss, and were in danger of total extirpation, "had it not chanced that a crosse-barre, shot from the ships, stroke down a bough from a tree amongst them (the savages), that caused them to retire." These, it seems, on other occasions, after troubling the planters, "by the nimbleness of their heeles, escaped." What with labor by day, and watching by night—with felling trees, and planting the ground—with resisting hostile attacks, rëloading ships, and effecting governmental business—the settlers found their hands and their hearts fully, and often painfully, occupied. Several weeks were spent in this manner, and after adjusting their disputes, and receiving Smith into the council, with a handsome remuneration for the wrong he had received, they all partook of the Holy Communion, the savages at the same time desiring peace with them. On the 15th of June, 1607, Captain Newport returned to England with the intelligence of their success, leaving in Virginia one hundred emigrants.

The departure of Newport was the signal for want, and an increase of their difficulties. While the vessels were with them, provisions, at some rate, were to be had; but after they left, "there remained neither taverne, beere-house, nor place of reliefe, but the common kettell. Had we beene as free from all shine as gluttony and drunkenness, we might have been cannonized for saints—we might truly call it (the damaged grain) so much bran than corne, our drink was water, our lodgings castles in the air: with this lodging and[Pg 54] diet, our extreme toil, in bearing and planting pallisadoes, so strained and bruised us, and our continual labor, in the extremity of the heat, had so weakened us, as were cause sufficient to have made us miserable in our native country, or any other place in the world."[5] This was truly a hard lot—through the summer they lived on the products of the sea. During that time, they buried fifty of their number. At the point, however, of their greatest scarcity, they were happily supplied with fruit and provisions by the Indians.

Their difficulties were greatly increased by the perverseness or incapacity of several of their council. In this body, changes and deposals took place from time to time, until the management of every thing abroad, fell into the hands of Captain Smith. Of this extraordinary man, much might be related, were there space; but we can pursue only the course of events as they occurred in the settlement of this country. In the mean while, by his energy and example in labor, "himselfe alwayes bearing the greatest taske for his own share," he set the men effectually to work in providing for themselves comfortable lodgings. This done, the necessity of procuring a more permanent supply of provisions, and of receiving the friendship of the natives, or subjecting them to the power of the colonists, engaged him for a period in the most daring projects. In this, he passed through a wonderful vicissitude of fortune—the colony in the mean while sustaining a precarious existence, by means of the dissensions that prevailed, the hostility of the Indians, and the sickness that wasted the whites. On one occasion, while exploring the country, after he left his boat, and was proceeding in company with two Englishmen, and a savage for his guide, he was beset with two hundred savages. The Englishmen were killed; the savage he tied to his arm with his garter, using him as a buckler. Smith was soon wounded and taken prisoner; but not until he had killed three of the Indians. The fear inspired by his bravery checked their[Pg 55] advance, till he sunk to the middle in a miry spot which was in his way, as he retreated backward. Even then they dared not come near him, till, being nearly dead with cold, he threw away his arms. Upon being taken, he presented to their king a round ivory compass, which was the means of saving him from instant death. Just as they were preparing to pierce him with their arrows, the chief, lifting the compass, they all laid down their bows and arrows, at the same time releasing him from his pitiable situation.

Smith saved from Death.

Smith saved from Death.

At length he was brought to Powhatan, their emperor. It soon became evident that they were preparing to put him to death after their peculiarly fantastic and barbarous ceremonies. A long consultation was held, and the conclusion was, "two great stones were brought before Powhatan, then as many as could lay hands on him dragged him to them, and thereon laid his head; and being ready with their clubs to beate out his brains, Pocahontas, the king's dearest daughter, when no entreaty could prevail, got his head into her armes, and laid her owne upon his, to save him from death: whereat the emperor was contented he should live."

Friendship with the whites soon followed this event. Smith was taken to Jamestown by his guides, and contracts[Pg 56] were made with the Indians by means of presents, which secured a portion of their territory to the English. Every few days, Pocahontas with her attendants brought to Captain Smith provisions in such quantity as to save the lives of the colonists.

This condition of things could not always last: the support thus received could be but precarious at the best; and it happened favorably that, for a period, the spirits and courage of the small band of emigrants were sustained by the arrival of two ships from England, laden with supplies, and bringing a complement of men. They arrived indeed at different times, having been separated by stormy weather. In consequence of these arrivals, and one other before the end of the year 1608, the number of colonists amounted to nearly three hundred.

In 1609, a new charter was granted to the London company, with enlarged privileges, as well as more definite limits, and with the addition of five hundred adventurers. Sir Thomas West, Lord De la War, was now appointed governor for life; Sir Thomas Gates, his lieutenant; Sir George Somers, admiral; and other high officers were appointed for life. By the new charter, the right of absolute property was vested in the company; the crown to receive one-fifth of all ore of gold and silver found there for all manner of services. The governor, though unable himself immediately to leave England, lost no time in fitting out a fleet for Virginia. Of the nine ships constituting the expedition, eight arrived in season at Jamestown. The other, having Sir Thomas, the admiral, on board, was wrecked on the Bermudas; and it was not until they could fit up craft to convey them to Virginia, that they reached Jamestown, which was in the spring of the following year. This disaster and delay seemed to be highly providential in the end, as the colonists were rëunited with one hundred and fifty men, and a full supply of provisions, at a time when they had been reduced to the greatest extremities. Captain Smith, disabled by a severe accidental wound, had[Pg 57] returned to England. In consequence of his departure, the settlement had been thrown into great confusion. Complaints, disputes, and insubordination ensued; the savages became hostile, and often imbrued their hands in the blood of the whites; and finally, starvation followed in the train of the other calamities. Roots, herbs, acorns, walnuts, starch, the skins of horses, and even human flesh, were devoured in order to support life. In a few days more, had not relief been brought to them, the whole colony would probably have perished.

On the arrival of Sir Thomas, the affairs of the settlement seemed so desperate, that it was determined to return with the miserable remnant to England. In putting the plan into execution, and just as they were leaving the mouth of the river, the long-boat of Lord De la War was descried. As he had three ships well furnished with provisions, the colonists were persuaded to return, and renew their efforts to settle the country. This was on the 9th of June, 1610, and proved to be the crisis of the colony. It was now, in the providence of God, destined to live. Improvements began to be made—forts were erected—and the former idleness and misrule of the people in a great measure disappeared. In the spring of the succeeding year, however, the health of Lord De la War became seriously affected, and he consequently returned to England. The administration was then committed to Sir Thomas Dale for a short period. He acquitted himself well in it, though he had some difficulty with the colonists, who had not all been reduced to the requisite order and submission. The government passed into the hands of Sir Thomas Gates, upon his arrival at Jamestown, in August, 1611. He came over with a fleet of six ships, and three hundred men, bringing with him kine and other cattle, munitions of war, and a large supply of provisions.

Being thus strengthened, the English extended their domain from time to time. In the course of the present year, they built a town, which they called Henrico, in honor[Pg 58] of Prince Henry, and in the subsequent year, they seized a place called Apamatuck, on account of some injury they had received from its inhabitants. Here they built a town, which they called the New Bermudas. About this period, a Captain Argal, sailing up the Patawomeakee, secured Pocahontas by stratagem; the consequence of which was, her acquaintance with an English gentleman, named John Rolfe, and her marriage to him, together with peace between the whites and Powhatan.

The plan of providing for the colony was now changed. Instead of feeding out of the common store, and laboring jointly together, the people were allowed to hold each a lot of his own, with a sufficient time to cultivate it. This change produced the most beneficial results, as it prevented the idleness and inefficiency which are apt to attend a common-stock social establishment, and multiplied, in a ten-fold degree, the amount of their provisions. The experiment having been so propitious, the original plan of a community of labor and supply was finally abandoned. The government of the colony at this time was again in the hands of Sir Thomas Dale; the former governor, Sir Thomas Gates, having returned to England in the spring of 1614. Governor Dale continued about two years, superintending satisfactorily the affairs of the colony, and, having chosen Captain George Yeardley to be deputy-governor, he returned to England, accompanied by Pocahontas and her husband. Pocahontas became a Christian and a mother; and it may be added, that her descendants, in a subsequent age, inherited her lands in Virginia, and that some of the first families of that state trace from her their lineage.

Yeardley applied himself to the cultivation of tobacco, and was highly successful in an attack on the savages, who refused to pay their annual tribute of corn. He continued in the colony about a year, when, by an appointment made in England, the government devolved on Captain Argal, before named. Argal found Jamestown in a bad condition; the dwellings, which were slight structures, had mostly[Pg 59] disappeared, and the public works neglected or in decay, and "the colonie dispersed all about, planting Tobacco." A reformation to some extent was effected. At this period, 1617, more colonists arrived; but it would seem, from a remark in a narrative of that date, that the number of the higher classes of society exceeded their wants; "for, in Virginia, a plaine souldier, that can use a pickaxe and spade, is better than five knights, although they were knights that could break a lance; for men of great place, not inured to those encounters, when they finde things not suitable, grow many times so discontented, they forget themselves, and oft become so carelesse, that a discontented melancholy brings them to much sorrow, and to others, much miserie." When it was ascertained that great multitudes were preparing, in England, to be sent, the colonists, in a communication to the council, entreated that provisions might be forwarded as well as people, and gave the company to understand, "what they did suffer for want of skilful husbandmen and meanes to set their plough on worke, having as good land as any man can desire."

In the year 1619, the settlements of Virginia were favored with the establishment of a provincial legislature, which was constituted of delegates chosen by themselves, as they were divided into eleven corporations. The first meeting of the legislature was on the 19th of June, having been convoked by the governor-general of the colony. This was a great and desirable change from the sort of vassalage in which they had previously lived. This general assembly debated and decided all matters that were deemed essential to the welfare of the colony. A great addition was made to the number of the colonists the two following years, among whom were one hundred and fifty young women, of good character, designed as the future wives of the colonists. During the summer of 1620, a Dutch armed ship arrived at the colony, and sold them twenty negroes, at which period the system of slave holding, with its attendant crimes and evils, commenced in this country.

[Pg 60]

The year 1621 was rendered memorable by the arrival of Sir Francis Wyatt, who brought with him, from the London company, a more perfect constitution and form of government, than the colony had previously enjoyed, although the general representative character of its government had been established in 1619. The following year was rendered still more memorable by the massacre of a large number of whites, through the treachery of the Indians. The instigator and executor of this tragedy was the successor of Powhatan, named Opecancanough. He had enlisted the savages in all the vicinity in the infernal plot. The colonists, in the security of friendship and good understanding, which had existed between them and that people, were wholly off their guard, and unprepared for the blow. It was inflicted simultaneously, at a time agreed upon, and three hundred and forty-seven men, women, and children, were at once butchered, in several and separate places. It had been universal, but for the providence of God. A converted Indian, coming to the knowledge of the plot the night before its execution, disclosed it to the whites in season to save the greater number of settlements. The Indians, in their turn, now suffered the vengeance of the colonists, who felt authorized to procure the means of future security against similar acts of treachery. The emigrations had been so numerous, through the few preceding years, that the colonists, at this time, amounted to several thousands. Thus the people, with various fortune, and after incredible hardships, had placed their colony on a firm basis, having learned many useful lessons from their own errors, imprudence, or sufferings. And such was the beginning of the American republic in its southern portion, nearly two hundred and fifty years ago.

[Pg 61]


Plymouth—Massachusetts—Connecticut—New Haven—New Hampshire—Rhode Island—Maine—Vermont—Character of the Early Settlers.

The settlement of New England commenced at Plymouth in 1620. This part of the continent between Penobscot and Cape Cod, had been carefully explored in 1614, by Captain Smith. He says, respecting it: "Of all the foure parts of the world I have yet seen not inhabited, could I have but means to transport a colony, I would rather live here than any where; and if it did not maintaine itselfe, were we but once indifferently well fitted, let us starve." Such was the opinion early formed of the desirableness of this region for colonization. Charles, Prince of Wales, was pleased to call it New England, on account of the favorable impression he received respecting it, from Smith's chart and description. This country was settled by a class of people very different, in many respects, from that which emigrated to the southern colony. The latter, for the most part, as has been seen, were mere adventurers, having in view the improvement of their secular interests, or the eclat of successful enterprise. The colonists of New England sought chiefly the boon of religious freedom for themselves and their descendants, and through it the advancement of the Christian church in the world—a boon of which they had been deprived in their native land. The ground of this disfranchisement, was their non-conformity to the established English church, or separation from it. Having, while members of that church, devised and sought a greater purity in its worship without success, they at length separated themselves from it, and formed a distinct worshiping community. For thus professing to follow the pure word of God, in opposition to traditions and human devices, they were in derision termed Puritans. In the progress of their religious views, and of the persecuting spirit of the government, they passed from mere puritanism, or efforts at greater purity in worship and in manners, to[Pg 62] non-conformity, and from non-conformity to dissent. From difficulties in regard to the ritual of the church, they proceeded to doctrines. The Puritans and the universities denied a portion of the Apostles' Creed, so called: "advocated the sanctity of the Sabbath and the opinions of Calvin; his institutions being read in their schools, while the Episcopal party took the opposite side, and espoused the system of Arminius." Both under Elizabeth and James, conformity was insisted on. The latter declared, "I will have one doctrine, one discipline, one religion, in substance and ceremony. I will make them conform, or I will hurry them out of the land, or else worse." And he did hurry out of the land many of those who had become obnoxious to him; while the others were more cruelly hindered from leaving the country, to suffer from contempt, poverty, or a lingering death in imprisonment. Their attempts to escape were frequently frustrated, and it was not without great vexation and loss, that portions of this persecuted people exiled themselves from their native country. Their first place of refuge was Holland, where religious toleration had been established by law. The leader of the emigrants, on this occasion, was the able and pious Mr. John Robinson, who has since been considered as the father of that portion of the Puritans who were the founders of New England. They successively left England, as many as found it in their power, in the year 1606, and the two following years. Their first place of residence was Amsterdam; but in 1609 they removed to Leyden, with a view to avoid some difficulties that were felt or foreseen in the former place. Here they were received with kindness, and continued several years in a flourishing condition, under the faithful labors of their pastor. In the mean while, notwithstanding their general prospects, there were causes in operation which rendered a change of location, in their case, extremely desirable. These were the unhealthiness of the low countries where they lived; the hard labors to which they were subjected; the dissipated manners of the Hollanders,[Pg 63] especially their lax observance of the Lord's day; the apprehension of war at the conclusion of the truce between Spain and Holland, which was then near at hand; the fear lest their young men would enter into the military and naval service; the tendency of their little community to become absorbed and lost in a foreign nation; the natural and pious desire of perpetuating a church, which they believed to be constituted after the simple and pure model of the primitive church of Christ, and a commendable zeal to propagate the Gospel in the regions of the new world.[6]

In this situation, they turned their attention towards America. Here they hoped to engage in their original occupation of agriculture, and not merely to enjoy toleration, but to form a society founded on their favorite plan of ecclesiastical order. With this object in view, they first applied to the Virginia company for a patent, who zealously espoused their cause, but who were unable to obtain from the king a toleration, under his seal, in religious liberty, though he promised to wink at their heresy, provided they should conduct themselves peaceably. The company granted them permission to make a settlement near the mouth of the Hudson river. They had previously, in the want of adequate capital of their own for the founding of a plantation, been enabled to interest several London merchants in their scheme. These agreed to advance the necessary sums, to be rëpaid out of the avails of their industry. In this way, the emigrants were enabled to purchase the Speedwell, a ship of sixty tons, and to hire in England the Mayflower, a ship of one hundred and eighty tons, for the intended expedition. The Mayflower alone came, as the smaller vessel proved to be in a leaky condition, and, after two several trials, she was dismissed, as unfit for the service. The Mayflower took her departure on the 6th of September, and, after a boisterous passage, they discovered the land of Cape Cod on the 9th of November, at the break of[Pg 64] day. The number of pilgrims, who had embarked, was one hundred and one, not all who had proposed to come; for the disasters that attended their setting out, had "winowed their number of the cowardly and the lukewarm." Their pastor, Mr. Robinson, did not leave Leyden, according to an original agreement, that only a part of their company should go to America to make provision for the rest.

The pilgrim voyagers found themselves on a bleak and inhospitable coast, and much farther to the northward than they intended to go. In agreement with their wishes, an attempt was made, by the master of the ship, to proceed to the Hudson. But either finding, or affecting to believe the passage to be dangerous, he readily seized on the fears which had been excited, probably by himself, to return to the cape, with a view to make a landing there. It afterwards appeared that he had been bribed by the Dutch, who intended to keep possession of the Hudson river, to carry the adventurers quite to the northward of their place of destination. They arrived in Cape Cod harbor on the 11th of November, "and, being brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees, and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from many perils and miseries." At this time, "it was thought meet for their more orderly carrying on their affairs, and accordingly by mutual consent they entered into a solemn combination, as a body politic, to submit to such government and governors, laws and ordinances, as should by general consent from time to time be made choice of and assented unto."[7] Forty-one persons signed this compact. It contained the essential principles of a free government, such as have since been embodied in the institutions of republican America. John Carver was immediately chosen their governor, "a man godly and well-approved among them."

Severe were the trials which awaited this small and lone[Pg 65] band of pilgrims. The necessity of selecting a more commodious place for living was obvious, and, in the efforts which were made for this purpose, several of them well nigh perished. The excursions of an adventurous band of men, on several occasions, were extremely hazardous; and, though generally at the places where they landed, no Indians were found, yet, in one instance, they came in contact with the latter, and a hostile collision took place between them. By the kind providence of God, however, they were preserved. During one of their excursions into the country, they found a quantity of corn, which they took, with the intention of remunerating the owners, which intention they were afterwards happily enabled to fulfil. This was a providential discovery, which supplied their present wants, and served as seed for a future harvest. An entire month was occupied with these explorations. At last, they found a tract where they concluded to consummate their enterprise. Having sounded the harbor in front, they ascertained it to be fit for shipping. Going on shore, they explored the adjacent land, where they saw various corn-fields and brooks. They then returned to the ship, with the agreeable intelligence that they had found a place convenient for settlement. This was on Monday, the 11th of December, answering to the 22nd day, new style, the day now celebrated in commemoration of the landing of the pilgrims at Plymouth. The company had kept the Christian Sabbath, the day before, on an island in the harbor. The ship arrived at the newly-discovered port on the 16th. Several days were spent in disembarking, and it was not until the 25th that they began to build the first house. This was a structure for common use, to receive them and their goods. The undertaking, however, was preceded by united prayer for Divine guidance. The building having been completed, they began to erect "some cottages for habitation, as time would admit, and also consulted of laws and order, both for their civil and military government, as the necessity of their present condition did require. But that[Pg 66] which was sad and lamentable, in two or three months half their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, wanting houses and other comforts, being infected with the scurvy and other diseases, which their long voyage and their incommodate condition brought upon them."[8] Their reduction, by sickness, would have rendered them an easy prey to the Indians; but the providence of God had so ordered it, that but few of this fierce people existed, at that period, in the neighborhood of the settlers, and those few were kept back from inflicting any injury, by the dread which had almost supernaturally, so to speak, been inspired in their hearts. The paucity of the Indians has been accounted for, from a wasting sickness, of an extraordinary character, which had visited the region some few years before.

Landing of the Pilgrims.

Landing of the Pilgrims.

Some time in March of 1621, an agreeable and unexpected occurrence took place at the rendezvous of the whites. It was a visit of an Indian sagamore, named[Pg 67] Samoset, with professions of friendship for them, and satisfaction at their arrival in the country. His kind greeting to them was, "Welcome, Englishmen! Welcome, Englishmen!" He spoke in broken English, which he had learned from English fishermen on the eastern coast. This was an event of great consequence to the settlers, as they learned from him many things in respect to the region around, and the Indians that inhabited it. He came to the English settlement again, with some other natives, and advised the emigrants of the coming of the great sachem, named Massasoit. In a short time this chief made his appearance, in company with his principal associates, particularly an Indian named Squanto, who proved to be of signal service to the whites. He had learned the English language, in consequence of having been carried to England by an English adventurer. Mutual fear and distrust took place between the parties, as Massasoit came in sight on the hill which overlooked the place. After they each had taken proper precautions against surprise, through the agency of[Pg 68] Squanto they came together, and the result of the interview was a league of peace, which was kept inviolate more than fifty years.

Visit of Samoset to the English.

Visit of Samoset to the English.

The visit was not much prolonged. "Samoset and Squanto stayed all night with us, and the king and all his men lay all night in the wood, not above half an English mile from us, and all their wives and women with them. They said that within eight or nine days they would come and set corn on the other side of the brook, and dwell there all summer, which is hard by us. That night we kept good watch, but there was no appearance of danger."[9] The plantation at Plymouth enjoyed the benefit of Squanto's presence with them, after the departure of the others. He was a native or resident of the place, and almost the only one that was left; and being acquainted with every part of it, his information was made highly useful to the colonists. They learned from him the method of cultivating corn, and where to take their fish, and procure their commodities.[Pg 69] He continued among them until the day of his death. In the spring of 1621, Mr. Carver was confirmed as governor for the succeeding year, but his death occurred soon afterwards. Mr. William Bradford was chosen his successor, and Mr. Israel Allerton his assistant. The intercourse of the colonists with the Indians continued to be of a friendly character, the former having, during the summer, made several excursions into the country around, particularly one to Shawmut (Boston), where they had an interview with Obbatinnua, one of the parties to the submission signed a short time before at Plymouth. He renewed his submission, receiving, at the same time, a promise of defence against his enemies.

Interview with Massasoit.

Interview with Massasoit.

The small number of the colonists was increased before the end of the year by an accession of thirty-five persons, among whom was a very active and pious agent, Mr. Robert Cushman. He became eminently useful to the plantation. Upon the departure of the ship conveying this latter company, the colony received a threatening token from the Narraganset tribe of Indians—a circumstance which induced them to fortify their little settlement as well as they were able, and to keep a constant guard by day and by night. Happily, no attempts at that time were made to disturb their peace. This event occurred in the year 1622. In the following year, a vigorous and successful attempt, under the brave Captain Miles Standish, was made to defeat a conspiracy formed by the Massachusetts tribe, with several others, against a recent English settlement at Wessagusset (Weymouth). This settlement had been formed under Mr. Thos. Weston on his own account, and consisted of sixty men. The slaughter of several of the conspirators so terrified the Indian tribes concerned in the conspiracy, that they fled from their homes into swamps and desert places, where many of them perished. This generous service, on the part of the Plymouth colony, towards a neighboring plantation, redounded greatly to their credit, especially as the latter were merely a company[Pg 70] of adventurers, and had been guilty of injustice towards the Indians.

The present year proved to be a year of suffering, in consequence of the scarcity of food. The following affecting account is given by Bradford: "But by the time our corn is planted, our victuals are spent, not knowing at night where to have a bit in the morning; we have neither bread nor corn for three or four months together, yet bear our wants with cheerfulness, and rest on Providence. Having but one boat left, we divide the men into several companies, six or seven in each, who take their turns to go out with a net, and fish, and return not till they get some, though they be five or six days out; knowing there is nothing at home, and to return empty would be a great discouragement. When they stay long, or get but little, the rest go a digging shellfish, and thus we live the summer; only sending one or two to range the woods for deer, they get now and then one, which we divide among the company; and in the winter are helped with fowl and ground-nuts."[10] It is recorded that, after a drought of six weeks, the government set apart a solemn day of humiliation and prayer, which was almost immediately followed by a copious supply of rain. In the language of the chronicles of the times, it is thus spoken of: "Though in the morning, when we assembled together, the heavens were as clear, and the drought as like to continue as it ever was, yet (our exercise continuing some eight or nine hours) before our departure, the weather was overcast, the clouds gathered together on all sides, and, in the morning, distilled such soft, sweet, and moderate showers of rain, continuing some fourteen days, and mixed with such seasonable weather, as it was hard to say, whether our withered corn or drooping affections were most quickened or revived, such was the bounty and goodness of our God." Soon after, in grateful acknowledgment of the blessing, a day of public thanksgiving was observed. This, by a judicious[Pg 71] historian, (Thomas Robbins, D. D.) is believed to be the origin of the annual thanksgiving of New England.

Towards the close of the summer, two ships arrived at Plymouth, bringing sixty emigrants, some of them the wives and children of such as were already in the colony. Those who came in the first three ships—the Mayflower, the Fortune, and the Ann—are distinctively called the old comers, or the forefathers. In 1624, Plymouth contained thirty-two dwellings and about one hundred and eighty inhabitants. Bradford was rëelected governor, and four assistants to him were also chosen. To each person and his family an acre of land was given in perpetuity. The first neat cattle in New England were brought over this year by Edward Winslow. The colonists had at that time no small trouble with several of the new comers, particularly with one John Lyford, a minister, and another by the name of Oldham, who were disposed to act in opposition to the laws and order of the colony. The persons above mentioned, however, soon perished, Oldham having first become apparently a penitent.

The congregation of the Puritans at Leyden was broken up on the death of their pastor, Mr. Robinson, in 1627. They desired to remove to New England, but only a part of them were enabled to come. The others settled in Amsterdam. Mr. Robinson had hoped to emigrate, but the expense of the undertaking could not well be met, and his death now preventing, only his wife and children came with the portion of the congregation that crossed the water. His place in the colony was supplied by Mr. William Brewster, a ruling elder in the church, and a man every way qualified as a spiritual guide of the people.

The foundation of the colony of Massachusetts was laid in the year 1628. It was styled the Colony of Massachusetts bay, the territory of which had been purchased by the Plymouth company—by Sir Henry Roswell, Sir John Young, and several others. The patent included all that part of New England lying between three miles to the[Pg 72] northward of Merrimack river, and three miles to the southward of Charles river, extending in length from the Atlantic ocean to the South sea. The leader of the expedition was Mr. John Endicot, whose character may be summed up by saying, that he was a fit person to found that noble commonwealth. He came with one hundred emigrants, and was appointed governor of the colony. Mr. White, an eminent minister, was one of the company. Three years previously, a small company of adventurers had emigrated to a place in the Massachusetts bay, afterwards called Mount Wollaston, after the name of their leader; but, having no religious object in view, they fell into shameful irregularities. Upon the arrival of Endicot, however, a check was put on these proceedings, and their leader, Morton, was finally sent to England. These pious non-conformists under Endicot, like the Plymouth colonists, sought a refuge from oppression in their religious concerns, and desired to build up a community on the true principles of Christianity. They located themselves at Numkeag, (Salem,) where the first permanent town in Massachusetts was constituted. In the following year, they were joined by about two hundred others from England, making in the whole three hundred; of which number one hundred removed the same year, and settled themselves, with the consent of Governor Endicot, at Mishawam, now Charlestown. At this period, on the petition of the Massachusetts company, King Charles by charter confirmed the patent of the Massachusetts colony. By this instrument, they were empowered to elect a governor, deputy governor, and eighteen assistants, out of the freemen of said company, by the greater part of the company. The first governor, under this renewed charter, was Matthew Cradock. The company being desirous of establishing their plantation in the order of the Gospel, engaged two eminent divines, Mr. Higginson and Mr. Skelton, to go out for the spiritual service of the colony. Soon after their arrival at Salem, they were placed over the church there with all due solemnity, the one as teacher, the other as pastor. These[Pg 73] excellent men, however, lived but a short period, sharing largely, as they did, in the sickness and suffering that diminished the strength and shortened the lives of a large number of their people.

Boston founded.

Boston founded.

Among the many persons of distinction who left England the ensuing year, on account of the stringent measures of the government in regard to affairs both of church and state, are found the names of Isaac Johnson, John Winthrop, Thomas Dudley, and Sir Richard Saltonstall. These gentlemen, by their persuasions, were the means of having the charter and government of the company transferred to New England. They left with fifteen hundred other persons, in a fleet of seventeen sail, Winthrop having been chosen governor under the new order of things. They arrived in safety, eleven ships at one time, and six at another; and before the conclusion of the season, commenced settlements in several places; which, at present, constitute some of the fairest towns of New England. Governor Winthrop, and a portion of the company, laid the foundation of Boston.[Pg 74] Several most highly esteemed ministers accompanied the expedition just spoken of; Mr. Wilson, Mr. Warham, and others. These were placed over the several churches that soon began to be formed in this vicinity. The first general court of Massachusetts, was held in Boston this year, on the 19th of October, at which time many of the planters attended, and were made freemen of the colony. The winters of 1630 and 1631, were very fatal to the Massachusetts colony. Frost and sickness carried off a number, and famine at length threatened the suffering survivors. They were, however, providentially relieved by the arrival of a ship from England with provisions, the day previously to a public fast, which had been appointed on account of the alarming state of things. This circumstance turned the intended fast into a general thanksgiving. The colony continued to increase by fresh accessions of emigrants till the year 1640, up to which time, it is computed that four thousand families had arrived in New England. From this small beginning have arisen the population, power, wealth, piety, and freedom of the New England states.

In the year 1633, the Plymouth colony suffered from a pestilential disease, which not only thinned their number, but, extending to the neighboring territory, swept off many of the Indians. In the same year, arrived those lights of the New England church, Mr. John Cotton, Mr. Thomas Hooker, and Mr. Samuel Stone, and that model of a magistrate, Mr. William Collier, whose services, to the Plymouth colony, were so considerable. Generally, the emigrants of this period were actuated by the same spirit of opposition to tyranny in church and state, and of love to the institutions of Christianity, which had characterized their predecessors. The men placed at the head of the new colonies were, universally, men of sterling worth of character.

The first settlers of Connecticut came from the eastern shore of Massachusetts. They were a portion of the emigrants who constituted the colonies of Plymouth and Massachusetts bay. The emigration from England continuing[Pg 75] to be large, and likely to increase from year to year, more room was wanted, and especially locations where the soil was rich and could be easily cultivated, became an object of desire. This consideration, and, probably, others pertaining to their tranquillity and increase as churches, had influence on the resolution to seat themselves again in the wilderness. It had happened, as early as the year 1631, that their attention was directed to the beautiful and rich tract of land, on the Connecticut river, by Wahcuimacut, a sachem living upon the river. He made a journey to Plymouth and Boston, with a view to enlist the governors of those colonies in the project of making settlements in his country. The proposition was not formally accepted, but the governor of Plymouth was sufficiently interested in it to make a voyage to the coast, in which excursion he discovered the river and the adjacent territory; thus precluding the title of the Dutch to any part of it, as they had neither "trading-house, nor any pretence to a foot of land there."[11] The subject of settling Connecticut was not lost sight of during one or two subsequent years; but, occasionally, vessels were sent from Plymouth to the river, for the purposes of trade, and, in one instance, several men, from Dorchester, traveled through the wilderness thither for the same object, as also to view the country.

The Settlers emigrating to Connecticut.

The Settlers emigrating to Connecticut.

In 1633, when the Plymouth colony had determined to commence the work of settlement, they commissioned William Holmes, and a chosen company with him, to proceed to Connecticut. They took with them the frame of a house, which they set up in Windsor. They achieved their object, notwithstanding the threatened opposition of the Dutch at Hartford, where the latter, after learning that the Plymouth people intended to settle on the river, had erected a slight fort. The Plymouth people, also, were successful in defending their trading-house subsequently, both against the Dutch and the Indians. The Dutch erected a trading-house at[Pg 76] Hartford the same year, the house at Windsor having preceded it, perhaps, by a few months. The actual settlement of the region, however, was deferred for a time, from the fact of divided opinions on the subject in the Massachusetts court. No vote could be obtained in favor of the project. In the mean time, individuals were determined to prosecute the enterprise, and a number of the people of Watertown came, in 1634, to Connecticut. They erected a few huts at Pyquag (Wethersfield), in which they contrived to pass the winter. In the spring of 1635, the general court of Massachusetts bay assented to the plan of emigration to Connecticut, and, accordingly, preparations were made in several places. The Watertown people gradually removed, and added to their settlement at Wethersfield. Mr. Warham, one of the ministers of Dorchester, accompanied by a great part of the church, settled at Mattaneang (Windsor). A company from Newtown began a plantation, between those two settlements, at Suchiang (Hartford). In the course of the year, a large body of settlers, sixty in number, came[Pg 77] together—men, women, and children, with their horses, cattle, and swine. It being somewhat late in the season, and their journey proving to be long and difficult, winter came upon them before they were prepared. They were but indifferently sheltered, and their food was scanty—a large portion of their furniture and provisions, having been put on board of several small vessels, never reached them. The vessels were lost, and some lives with them. A part of their domestic animals they were obliged to leave on the other side of the river. Famine and its fearful effects were now to be encountered. It was impossible for all to stay where they were. Some, attempted to return to the east through the wilderness; others, went down to the mouth of the river, in order to meet their provisions, and, being disappointed, were obliged, finally, to embark on board of a vessel for Boston. In both instances they suffered greatly, but were providentially preserved to arrive at their former home. The portion of the settlers who remained were subjected to much distress. The resources of hunting and food from the Indians being exhausted, they had recourse to acorns, malt, and grains for subsistence. Large numbers of their cattle perished. Their condition was indeed most trying and perilous, in their solitude and separation from others, at the mercy alike of the elements of nature, and the power of savage foes. But their God, in whom they trusted, carried them through in safety.

The Connecticut planters held courts of their own, though they were settled under the general government of the Massachusetts. These courts consisted of two principal men from each town, joined sometimes by committees of three additional persons, as occasion might require. The first court was held at Hartford, April 26th, 1636. At this season of the year, both those who had left Connecticut in the winter and many others proceeded to take up their residence on the river. At length, about the beginning of June, a company of an hundred men, women, and children, under Messrs. Hooker and Stone, took their departure from[Pg 78] Cambridge, and traveled to Hartford through the pathless wilderness that lay between the two places. Over mountains, through ravines, swamps, thickets, and rivers, they made their way, submitting to incredible fatigue and many privations. These trials, to a portion of the new comers, must have been peculiarly severe, as they were a class of society who, having enjoyed all the comforts and elegancies of life, knew little of hardship and danger.

The year preceding, a fort was erected at the mouth of the river, called Saybrook fort, in honor of Lords Say and Brooks, to whom, with several others, a commission had been given to begin a plantation at Connecticut. This was effected under the auspices of John Winthrop, a son of the governor of Massachusetts. Winthrop's commission interfered with the settlement commenced by the Massachusetts colonists, but the latter were left in the quiet enjoyment of their possessions. The number of persons in the three towns of Hartford, Windsor, and Wethersfield, was about eight hundred at the close of the year 1636.

The succeeding year was signalized for the critical condition of the settlement. There was a great want of provisions and of the implements of husbandry, and every article bore a high price. The year was also filled with the incidents of warfare. In the feebleness of its infancy, the little colony was called to contend with one of the most warlike tribes of Indians that ever inhabited New England. And never were heroism and fortitude displayed in a more marked degree, or animated by a loftier spirit of patriotism and piety. The particulars need not be here rehearsed. Suffice it to say, they completely triumphed over their savage foe, the Pequots, under their brave leader, Captain John Mason. They went forth to battle, under the sanction and rites of religion, to save themselves, their wives, and children, and the Church of Christ in the wilderness, from utter extinction. The holy ardor of Hooker, in his incomparable address to the soldiers, filled their minds with an unwavering confidence in God. Seventy-seven brave men[Pg 79] saved Connecticut, and destroyed the most terrible Indian nation in New England.

Hooker addressing the Soldiers.

Hooker addressing the Soldiers.

This necessity of warfare they would gladly have avoided, for the condition of the settlement required all their energies and efforts at home. They could neither hunt, fish, nor cultivate their fields, nor travel the shortest distance, while an insidious and cruel foe was hovering around them. They felt that he must be crippled or destroyed, or that their entire settlement would be cut off by piecemeal. The natives embraced every opportunity of committing depredations on the lives and property of the whites. A picture of the kind of life which was passed in those times of savage treachery and English daring, is given in the following detail of incidents, which occurred on the water immediately previous to the Pequot war:

Gallop finds Oldham murdered.

Gallop finds Oldham murdered.

"John Oldham, who had been fairly trading at Connecticut, was murdered near Block island. He had with him only two boys and two Narraganset Indians. These were taken and carried off. One John Gallop, as he was going from Connecticut to Boston, discovered Mr. Oldham's vessel[Pg 80] full of Indians, and he saw a canoe full of Indians on board, go from her laden with goods. Suspecting that they had murdered Mr. Oldham, he hailed them, but received no answer. Gallop was a bold man, and though he had with him but one man and two boys, he immediately bore down upon them, and fired duck-shot so thick among them, that he soon cleared the deck. The Indians all got under the hatches. He then stood off; and, running down upon her quarter with a brisk gale, nearly overset them, and so frighted the Indians, that six of them leaped into the sea, and were drowned. He then steered off again; and, running down upon her a second time, bored her with his anchor, and raked her fore and aft with his shot. But the Indians kept themselves so close, he got loose from her; and, running down a third time upon the vessel, he gave her such a shock, that five more leaped overboard, and perished, as the former had done. He then boarded the vessel, and took two of the Indians, and bound them. Two or three others, armed with swords, in a little room below, could not be driven from their retreat. Mr. Oldham's corse[Pg 81] was found on board, the head split and the body mangled in a barbarous manner. He was a Dorchester man, one of Mr. Warham's congregation. In these circumstances, Gallop, fearing that the Indians whom he had taken might get loose, especially if they were kept together, and having no place where he could keep them apart, threw one of them overboard. Gallop and his company then, as decently as circumstances would permit, put the corse into the sea. They stripped the vessel, and took the rigging and the goods which had not been carried off on board their own. She was taken in tow, with a view to carry her in; but the night coming on and the wind rising, Gallop was obliged to let her go adrift, and she was lost."

At the termination of the Pequot war, there was a great scarcity of provisions in Connecticut, and fearful apprehensions were felt on the part of the settlers. With all their efforts, they had not been able to raise a sufficiency of provisions, and these became at length very costly. Corn rose to the extraordinary price of twelve shillings by the bushel. The debt contracted by the war was paid with difficulty. Nothing saved the colony from a famine but a providential supply of corn, which they were enabled to purchase from the natives, at an Indian settlement called Pocomptock (Deerfield).

The first constitution of Connecticut was adopted January 15, 1639, by the free planters of the three towns of Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield, who convened at Hartford for the purpose. It was an admirably contrived instrument, providing for the freedom and liberties of themselves and their posterity. Some fifty years ago, Doctor Trumbull remarked, respecting it, that it was "one of the most free and happy institutions of civil government which has ever been formed. The formation of it at so early a period, when the light of liberty was wholly darkened in most parts of the earth, and the rights of men so little understood in others, does great honor to their ability, integrity, and love to mankind. To posterity, indeed, it[Pg 82] exhibited a most benevolent regard. It has continued with little alteration to the present time."

The New Haven colony was settled in the spirit that influenced the comers to the other parts of New England, and eminently so. The establishment of the Church of God on its true basis, and the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, was the object of the emigrants; and they proceeded to secure the fair inheritance by the wisest counsels and the most efficient action. The company who first constituted the settlement, was a rare assemblage of choice spirits. Among them were John Davenport, a distinguished minister in London, and Theophilus Eaton and Edward Hopkins, wealthy merchants of the same city, and eminent for their abilities and integrity. They with their associates arrived at Boston in the summer of 1637, and would have been gladly retained in the Massachusetts colony, had they consented. Strong inducements were held out to them to fix their residence there, but they wanted more room than they could find in the vicinity of Boston for themselves and the large number of friends whom they expected to follow them. Their principal reason, however, for migrating elsewhere, as suggested by the historian of Connecticut, was probably "the desire of being at the head of a new government, modeled, both in civil and religious matters, agreeably to their own apprehensions. It had been an observation of Mr. Davenport, that whenever a reformation had been effected in the church, in any part of the world, it had rested where it had been left by the reformers: it could not be advanced another step. He was embarked in a design of forming a civil and religious constitution, as near as possible to scripture precept and example." Their strict views, it seems, could not be fully met elsewhere.

Mr. Davenport and his company, on the 30th of March, 1638, sailed from Boston to Quinnipiac (New Haven), and arrived at the desired spot at about the middle of April. A portion of their company, with Eaton at their head, had made a journey to Connecticut during the preceding autumn,[Pg 83] to explore the lands and harbors on the sea-coast; and having fixed upon Quinnipiac as the best place for a settlement, erected a hut there, in which a few men passed the winter. The first Sabbath which Mr. Davenport spent in the wilderness, was on the 18th of April, 1638, when he preached a discourse on the Temptations of the Wilderness. In a short time, at the close of a day of fasting and prayer, they entered into what they called a plantation covenant, in which they solemnly engaged, in their civil ordinances as well as religion, they would be governed by the rules of scripture. At different times, and in separate contracts, they purchased their lands of the Indians, by the payment of such articles as were satisfactory to the latter. As the New Haven adventurers were the most opulent company which came into New England, they were disposed and able to lay the foundation of a first-rate colony—the proofs of which are visible, in part, in the elegant city which became its capital. The foundations of the civil and religious polity of the colony were laid on the 4th of June, 1639, with every due solemnity. The act was not consummated until the 25th of October of the same year, as a term of trial was required for the seven men who were to constitute the seven pillars of the church. The number of subscribers to the compact, on the 4th of June, was sixty-three; to which there were soon after added about fifty other names. This colony enjoyed great comparative order and tranquillity, as well from the extreme care with which it was constituted at the beginning, the superior wealth and character of its founders, and their wise and prudent intercourse with their neighbors, the Indians.

The New Haven colony was distinguished among the sister-colonies for its zeal in behalf of education, for its great strictness in the administration of the laws, for its scrupulous justice towards the Indians, and for the absence of a frivolous or extravagant legislation, which in some instances had been thought to characterize the other colonies.[Pg 84][12] The colony, however, was not exempt from occasional providential calamities, particularly in its commercial pursuits. For a period, the colonists did not succeed in their principal secular object. Their plans may not have been the most judicious; but their greatest misfortune in this concern was the loss of a large ship, which contained a valuable cargo of about five thousand pounds. The ship, with its precious burden, and more precious navigators, was never heard of more after it left the harbor. Several other settlements in the vicinity were nearly coëval with that of New Haven. Milford and Guilford were settled in 1639, as also Stratford and Fairfield the same year; Stamford in 1641, and soon after the town of Brandford.

Portsmouth founded.

Portsmouth founded.

A settlement, at an early period, was made in New Hampshire, but it did not, until some time afterwards, constitute a distinct colony. In the spring of the year 1623, two members of the council of Plymouth (Gorges and Mason) having obtained a grant of a tract of country, sent over a few persons for the purpose of establishing a colony and fishing at the river Piscataqua. This was the beginning of the town of Portsmouth; but, for several years, together with[Pg 85] the town of Dover, which had a fish-house erected about the same time, it was a small and scarcely permanent settlement. In 1629, some of the settlers about the Massachusetts bay, purchased a tract of country of the Indians, with a view to unite with the settlement at Piscataqua. After this purchase, the latter settlement was favored with a small increase; but no other settlements were made till the year 1638, when the towns of Exeter and Hampton commenced. Exeter was settled by people chiefly from Boston, who had been regularly dismissed from their church relations, and were constituted at once into a church in their new locality. Like the settlers of the other New England colonies, those of New Hampshire were desirous of enjoying the ministrations and ordinances of the Gospel, and were able to obtain excellent ministers.

These several plantations continued, for many years, to live on good terms with the natives, and were generally well supplied with provisions, in consequence of their advantages for fishery. They constituted distinct civil communities, after the most perfect model of freedom, but were unable to preserve their peculiar organization, on account of the intrusion of disaffected individuals, from the colonies of Massachusetts and Plymouth, and the constant influx of other emigrants. They were too weak thus to stand alone, and, after suitable negociations on the subject, they came under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, in 1641, on the condition of enjoying equal privileges with the people of that colony, and having a court of justice maintained among themselves. This union continued nearly forty years, and was followed by the greater increase and security of the colony.[13]

The rise of the colony of Rhode Island commenced in the expulsion of Roger Williams from Massachusetts. He was a minister of the Gospel at Salem; but, holding tenets that were obnoxious to the people there, and being unwilling[Pg 86] to renounce them, after friendly remonstrance and dealing, he was ordered to quit the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. He accordingly took his exile thence, and traveling, with his few followers, as far as the present town of Rehoboth, he sat down there; but, being within the jurisdiction of Plymouth, Governor Winslow, out of courtesy to the government of Massachusetts, desired Mr. Williams to leave that place. The latter, then crossing the Pawtucket river, came to the spot which, in acknowledgment of God's merciful providence to him in his distress, he called 'Providence.' He purchased the lands of his plantation of the Indian owners, became the father of the colony, and, for a period, appeared to have combined, in his person, the principal powers of government. Times of scarcity occurred in the Providence plantation, as in most of the other colonies in North America, and the followers of Mr. Williams were saved from famine only by the products of their forests and rivers. No personal resentment seems to have arisen between Mr. Williams and Governor Winthrop, from the proceedings which led to the founding of the new settlement. All the several colonies remained at peace, and cultivated friendship with each other.

The religious difficulties in Massachusetts, arising out of the case of the fanatical Mrs. Hutchinson, were the occasion of the origin of the Rhode Island plantation, south of Providence. Several gentlemen differed in principle from the prevailing belief of the churches, and chose to leave the colony. Among them were William Coddington, John Clark, and others, who came to Providence in search of a place where they might enjoy their own sentiments unmolested. Through the assistance of Mr. Williams, they purchased Aquetnec of the Indian sachems. The adventurers, eighteen in number, incorporated themselves into a body politic, and chose Mr. Coddington to be their judge, or chief magistrate. The character of the climate and soil, soon brought many adventurers to their settlement. The territory was Rhode Island, according to its subsequent[Pg 87] name. The two settlements of Mr. Williams and Mr. Coddington, being destitute of any charter from the mother-country, the former went to England with a view to procure one. He succeeded in the object, and returned with a liberal charter of incorporation of Providence and Rhode Island plantations.

The district, now state, of Maine, though the first permanent settlement commenced in 1630, was for a long time in an unhappy condition, from the number and hostility of the Indians within its borders. The early settlers, after the death of their proprietary, Sir Fernando Gorges, formed some kind of voluntary compacts, and chose their own rulers; but the difficulties under which they labored induced them, in 1650, to unite with the government of Massachusetts, and to become an integral part of that colony. Their civil and religious institutions generally resembled those of the other colonies of New England. In the first settlements, churches were early established, which enjoyed the labors of some of the worthiest ministers of their time.[14]

A project of great importance was consummated, in 1643, in the union formed by the New England colonists. It had been proposed, by the colonies of Connecticut and New Haven, as early as 1638, but was not brought to a conclusion until five years after. The confederacy consisted of Massachusetts, New Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven. The plan of it evidently reminds one of the great confederacy, afterwards formed between the thirteen United States, with similar provisions and principles. It was a powerful means of defence, and of the subsequent strength and prosperity of the colonies. It maintained their internal peace, awed the savage tribes, and caused their neighbors, the Dutch, and the French in Canada, to respect them. By the articles of confederation, they entered into a firm and perpetual league of friendship and amity, for offence and defence, mutual advice and assistance upon all[Pg 88] just occasions, both for preserving and propagating the truth and liberties of the Gospel, and for their own mutual safety and welfare. Each colony was to continue its separate organization, as to courts and laws, but to be considered as one, in regard to their public transactions. This union subsisted, with some alterations, more than forty years, and was dissolved when the charters of all the colonies were rescinded by James II. It was known under the style of The United Colonies of New England.

The state of Vermont was not settled until long after the other New England states. It was as late as the year 1724, before any settlement was made in that territory. This was on a spot, within the present town of Brattleborough, where, at the same time, during a severe Indian war, the government of Massachusetts had erected a fort. It was then supposed that the settlement was within the limits of that state, but it afterwards appeared not to be the case. Subsequently it was believed that the territory belonged to New Hampshire. Grants were accordingly made from time to time, by the latter colony, of tracts within the territory of Vermont. As it was the scene of warfare, during the middle part of the century, the country became well known to many individuals, and not a few openings were made in the wilderness, towards the cessation of hostilities, on the northern borders. During the revolutionary war, the Green-mountain Boys, as they were familiarly called, distinguished themselves by their bravery, and rendered important service to the cause. In 1777, the inhabitants constituted themselves an independent state. As Vermont was settled mostly by emigrants from Connecticut, the character of the people was similar to that of the inhabitants of the latter state, and of New England in general. They were careful to establish their civil and religious institutions in accordance with those of the sister-states, and have been highly distinguished by their stability in the principles and usages of the fathers.

The character of the early settlers of New England[Pg 89] deserves a distinct notice, beyond that which has incidentally appeared in narrating the history of their achievements. A brief sketch can only be presented, and scarcely commensurate with the importance of the topic; but it is all that the limits of this work will admit. The greatness of the results, though affected extensively by the direct providence of God, manifests the peculiarity of the dispositions and motives of the agents who were concerned in producing them.

The planters of New England were men of whom their descendants need not be ashamed. So far as the pride of ancestry may be lawfully indulged, New Englanders, of the present race, may indulge it to the full, in view of the character and deeds of their forefathers. They were inferior men in no sense of the word, however apt we may be to connect the idea of adventurers with that of a roving, restless, dissipated, loose-living class of men, loving savage nature, or freedom from the restraints of civilized life. They became adventurers, not from love of adventure, but from high and noble impulses—the impulses of religion. To advance that precious interest was, indeed, their commanding object. This was indicated by their circumstances and manner of life in Holland before they removed thence, and by the desire they felt to leave that country. Could their favorite views, in respect to religion, have been carried out there, they would, probably, never have come to this western wilderness. Their declarations and professions, through their leading men, also show that the establishment and enjoyment of a free Gospel was their great object. Their laws and institutions, moreover, evince that this was their principal concern, in connection with the diffusion of education and knowledge. These all had reference, more or less directly, to the moral and religious welfare of the community. The cause of God and righteousness was guarded by the wisest and most decided legal provisions. The concurrent declarations of all the early writers among them, likewise indicate the spirit and purposes which distinguished[Pg 90] the fathers of New England above, perhaps, all other settlers of new countries, in proposing and carrying forward the interests of religion. Indeed, no object but religion and its enjoyment, could have borne them through their almost unprecedented trials and privations. To these they voluntarily submitted, on account of their religion. They were not otherwise compelled to leave their native land and the homes of their childhood—the seats of ease and plenty. To hardships, of any kind, many of them had never been exposed before; but the love of God's word, and freedom of worship, according to the light of their own minds, were motives, with them, sufficient to brave every peril and earthly woe.

They were not inferior men, in respect to their civil standing in the community. They did not proceed, generally, from the lower orders of society—the poorer artisans and the laborers. They belonged, mostly, to the middle and respectable ranks of English society. A few were classed with the higher orders, but not to the same extent as was the fact with the settlers of Virginia, if we may judge from the list of names and titles of several emigrants of the different colonies. In respect to a worldly, chivalrous bearing and spirit of adventure, New England and Virginia differed—the latter were eminent in this respect, but never were men more truly brave than the fathers of New England; in moral courage, they were unrivalled. Like other adventurers, they manifested their undaunted spirit in relinquishing their comfortable homes, in braving the dangers of the deep, in encountering the horrors of a wilderness, in incurring the risk of famine and pestilence, and in frequently combatting a fierce savage foe. There were as extraordinary traits of martial heroism displayed among the pilgrims of New England, when called forth by the necessity of circumstances, as can be found in the history of any of the American colonists, though this was not a characteristic in which they gloried. The exploits of Miles Standish, of Plymouth, and John Mason, of Connecticut,[Pg 91] might be ranked among the most striking exhibitions of courage on record. Of Standish, it is remarked, by an old historian, that "he was allied to the noble house of Standish, in Lancashire, and inherited some of the virtues of that honorable family, as well as the name." But the high bearing and courage of the planters was eminently of a moral kind. Unlike their Virginian neighbors, they suffered no misrule in their settlements. If any threatened for a time, they promptly put it down. Their courage was seen in resisting evil among themselves. They feared not to put their laws into execution. They were characterized by a healthful, vigorous public spirit, consenting to sacrifice their own individual interest for the general good. They thus manifested a noble nature, the product of principle, if not of birth.

The fathers of New England were not ignorant men, and unversed in the concerns of the world. Their clergymen and leading men in civil life, were among the ripe scholars of the age. They had been educated at the English universities, and numbers of them had occupied important stations in church and state. As authors and men of influence, in their native land, they could not have sunk their high character by emigration; and though in a wilderness, and under the pressure of mighty cares, they could not so advantageously pursue their studies as in the shades of academic retirement, they still did not neglect to add to their intellectual stores. In several instances, they brought large and valuable libraries with them. The writings of Colton, Hooker, Davenport, Winthrop, Bradford, Prince, and others, show that they were eminently men of mind and masters of language—that they were well versed in the science and literature which adorned the age; and their universal learning, sanctified by grace, we know, was devoted to the most noble and beneficent purposes. There were among the merchants and men of business, who had figured in the world's affairs before they came to these solitudes—men of large experience and cultivated taste, not[Pg 92] wanting in any accomplishment deemed essential in refined and honorable society. The mass of the people, who came over to this country as its settlers, must evidently, from the nature of the case, have been of that thinking, intellectual, practical class, who understood their rights and duties as human beings, as also the principles of government; and could not, therefore, with their good sense and honesty, submit to the exactions and wrongs of tyranny. This, of all others, is the most valuable body of the community.

The estimate which the fathers placed upon education, is seen in the immediate establishment of literary institutions, both of the higher and lower grades. Scarcely had the venerable men felled the trees of the forest, than they erected the common school-house, the academy, and the college. In the midst of their untold personal pressing cares and troubles, they exercised a far-reaching sagacity and benevolent regard towards the common good, and towards posterity, in laying broadly the foundations of order, intelligence, and virtue. They conceived the highest idea of the importance of sound education to their rising republic. They wisely judged that solid learning and true religion were the firmest pillars of the commonwealth and of the church. Within ten years from the settlement of Massachusetts, a college, with good endowments, was founded for the use of the colony.

The planters of New England were not poor men—needy adventurers. Had they been such, whence could the funds have been derived that were necessary to sustain the enterprise? It is evident that large sums of money were expended in the transportation of themselves, their cattle, and their effects to this country, and in their various removals when here, as well as in the continued sustentation of their families in times of scarcity and famine. These we know, from their history, were of frequent occurrence. Governors Winthrop, Haynes, Eaton, and Hopkins, were men of wealth; so also were Mr. Johnson, Mr. Colton, and Mr. Hooker—the last two uncommonly rich for ministers.[Pg 93] Mr. Johnson was reputed to be the wealthiest of all the original emigrants. The mass of the early comers must also have possessed no inconsiderable means, to enable them to bear the heavy expenses of their voyage and settlement. With such a basis of property, it is not a matter of surprise that, notwithstanding the drain and exhaustion of the few first years, they should have increased greatly in their worldly substance in the end, inasmuch as they settled on a virgin soil, possessed abundance of land, and carried on a lucrative trade in the products of the country. Their habits of sobriety and industry were essentially favorable to their advancement in wealth.

The New England planters were not wanting in any moral virtues, piety, wisdom, or magnanimity. There never lived on earth, if we may credit history, a more disinterested, upright, conscientious, prudent, and holy body of men. Their souls were imbued with the loftiest principles of patriotism and piety. They gave undoubted proofs of the possession of this spirit in their exertions, toils, and sacrifices for the best welfare of their descendants and the cause of Christianity—in their spirituality, prayerfulness, purity, and well-ordered lives. They wished, above all things, to serve God and to do good—to transmit to posterity a pure church and free form of government. They received the Word of God as their sole guide in religious concerns and moral conduct—they regulated their individual life, their families, their local societies, their churches, and their state, by its rules, so far as the latter could be consistently applied. They were sound in the faith, receiving the doctrines of grace as the real system of divine truth—were strict in preserving the order and carrying out the discipline of the churches—and were rigid in the administration of law and justice. Their zeal and liberality in supporting the institutions of the Gospel among themselves, and in efforts to Christianize the Indians, were marked traits in their character. They considered it one of the great objects of their mission to this continent, to[Pg 94] become the means of the salvation of its aboriginal inhabitants, and thus to extend Christ's kingdom in the world. In a most commendable degree, they carried their religion into the various every-day concerns of life, and consulted, especially on every occasion of interest and importance, the particular guidance and blessing of God.

Such was the character of New England's fathers: they were not perfect men; they did not claim for themselves the attributes of perfection; neither can others, their warmest panegyrists, claim it for them with any consistency. They had their errors—the errors of the age. All darkness had not passed away from their understandings, nor all obliquity from their hearts. There was an austerity, a preciseness in some points, an unaccommodating temper, which perhaps is not well suited to all times, or every state of society, but which better agreed with their circumstances as the founders of a nation, and as an example for others to follow. In the natural course of imitation from age to age, there will be apt to be a feebler resemblance of the original; so that where the conduct in the beginning was over-strict, in the lapse of years it will be apt to fall quite too far below the true standard of virtue. The founders of a nation, if they fail at all in firmness of temper or rigidness of discipline, will be very apt to bring on the sooner a dissolute state of the body politic. Our fathers, on this account, were not so much at fault as many suppose. They were fitted, by the guidance and grace of God, for the times in which they lived—for the work which they were called to perform. If some few spots or shades could have been effaced from their characters, they would have been still more fitting instruments of good to the Church and to posterity; but as the case is, no other founders of an empire probably ever possessed so large a portion of wisdom and goodness.

In respect to charges made against the fathers of New England, pertaining to superstition, enthusiasm, injustice towards the Indians, treatment of supposed witches, bigotry,[Pg 95] persecution, and the incorporation of church and state, they are capable of a satisfactory refutation in all the material points, and have often received that refutation. While something, however, is to be laid to human imperfection in their case, yet, even in these matters, more is due to the grace of God, which preserved them so comparatively free from evils to which their natural dispositions, or their circumstances, might be supposed to lead them.

It was indeed a new order of things which was introduced by the pilgrim fathers, in their removal to America. The Mayflower came to these shores freighted with great moral principles, as well as with a precious cargo of godly men and women. Of those principles, some were the following, viz: The right of private judgment in the examination of divine truth, is to be held sacred—Conscience, enlightened by the Word of God, is a sufficient guide as to truth and duty—a majority governs in church and state—universal education is the basis of free government—the observation of the Sabbath is a moral virtue, and essential to the safety of a people. From these principles, others have been deduced; or to them others, of scarcely less importance, have been added in more recent times.

Tailpiece—Indian Council

[Pg 96]


New York—New Jersey—Delaware—Maryland—North Carolina—South Carolina—Georgia—Pennsylvania.

The settlement of the state of New York commenced in 1613, so far as the erection of a fort, near the present city of Albany, and a few trading-houses on the island of Manhattan (New York), may be said to constitute a settlement. The Dutch founded their claim to the soil from the discovery of the Hudson by an Englishman of that name, who was then in the employ of the Dutch; but the British king disputed the claim, from the fact of the previous discovery of the country by the Cabots. The Dutch were forced, for a short time, to yield to the demands of the English; but, the colony having increased in the course of a year, the English were required, in their turn, to yield their authority to the original occupants. For a series of years, the latter continued in peaceful possession, and, by characteristic toil and perseverance, secured the blessings of a growing settlement.

The territory on both sides of the Hudson, occupied by the settlers, was called New Netherlands. In defence of their colony, in 1623, they built several forts, one on the east side of Delaware bay, which they named Nassau, and another, one hundred and fifty miles up the river, which they called Aurania. At the mouth of the river they built a town, to which they gave the name of New Amsterdam, afterwards New York. Near fort Nassau, the Swedes had a settlement, and, from the interfering claims of the two people, quarrels arose, which in a few years ended in the subjugation of the Swedes. In consequence of the Dutch claims so far to the eastward, difficulties frequently arose between them and the Connecticut and New Haven colonies; but these never amounted to another rupture, and the Dutch[Pg 97] were occasionally assisted in the Indian warfare by their more courageous neighbors.

At the ascension of Charles II. to the British throne, the province of New Netherlands passed into the hands of the English. As the king, by a charter, had conveyed the whole territory to his brother, the Duke of York and Albany, he undertook to effect his object by force, and accordingly despatched an armament, under the command of Colonel Nichols, who was also appointed governor of the province. The exhibition of force was the means of effecting a treaty of capitulation on the part of Stuyvesant the Dutch governor. From this time, New Amsterdam and the whole conquered province received the name of New York, the original settlers choosing, for the most part, to remain, and being permitted to adopt many of their own forms of government.

The Dutch Governor surrendering New Amsterdam.

The Dutch Governor surrendering New Amsterdam.

New Jersey was settled by the Dutch, not long after they had fixed themselves on the Hudson river. The Danes, also, commenced a settlement at a place to which[Pg 98] they gave the name Bergen. This was about the year 1624. In 1626, a company of Swedes and Finns purchased land on both sides of Delaware river, and commenced a settlement on the western bank. The Dutch, however, considering themselves as the original settlers, laid claim to the country. They had built a fort, as early as 1623, on the east bank of the South river, as the Delaware was then called. It was not until the year 1640, that the English made any attempt to colonize the territory in question, and then they were resisted and expelled by the Swedes and Dutch. A few years afterwards, however, the Duke of York granted New Jersey to John, Lord Berkley, and Sir George Carteret, the territory receiving that name in compliment to Sir George, who had been governor of the island of Jersey in the English channel. Carteret soon after arrived at Elizabethtown, which he made the seat of government.

The state of Delaware was originally settled by the Dutch and Swedes, the former as early as 1629, having purchased a tract of land near Cape Henlopen. The enterprise of planting a colony, on the Delaware, was entrusted to an experienced navigator, De Vriez; and, in 1630, an association was formed for this purpose, in pursuance of which, a settlement was made, the next spring, on the west side of the river, at a place since called Lewiston. The Swedes, also, made considerable settlements on the same side of the river; but, whether these preceded that of the Dutch, is considered doubtful, the more recent authorities leaning rather to the Dutch claim. The Swedes, however, whatever their pretensions may have been, were conquered by the Dutch, in whose possession the country remained until the surrender of New York, in 1664. It was immediately after taken possession of, for the Duke of York, by Sir Robert Carr. A portion of its subsequent history is included in that of Pennsylvania, as Delaware had not even an assembly, separate from that of Pennsylvania, for several years.

Settlements commenced in Maryland as early as 1634.[Pg 99] Two or three years previously, Lord Baltimore had visited the colony of Virginia, and, observing that the Virginians had formed no settlement to the northward of the river Potomac, he determined to procure a grant of territory in that region; but he died before the necessary authority by charter, which Charles had promised, could be given him. The patent, however, was filled up for his son, Cornelius Calvert, who had then become Lord Baltimore. The king gave to the new province the name of Maryland, in honor of his queen, Henrietta Maria. It was originally included in the patent of the south Virginia company, a circumstance which gave rise, for a time, to disputes and difficulties between these communities. Lord Baltimore pursued a wise course in forming his colony. He established a basis of security to property and of freedom to religion, bestowing, in absolute fee, fifty acres of land on every emigrant, and allowing toleration to the various sects of the Christian faith. George Calvert, the brother of the governor, arrived with the first colony, consisting of about two hundred Roman Catholics, from England. Calvert, by kindness and liberality, obtained possession of an Indian town of importance, to which he gave the name of St. Mary's. Lord Baltimore was constituted the proprietor of the province; and he and his descendants, with some years of interruption, continued to enjoy the rights of jurisdiction and property until the time of the Revolution. Then the people, having adopted a constitution, refused to admit the claims of the representatives of Lord Baltimore.

The charter, embracing what is now North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, was granted by Charles II., in 1662, to Edward, Earl of Clarendon; George, Duke of Albemarle; William, Lord Craven, and several others. This country was called Florida, and claimed by the Spaniards. The claim, nevertheless, was supposed to be relinquished by the stipulations of a treaty between Great Britain and Spain, in 1667. The previous efforts to colonize this portion of the American continent had been unsuccessful,[Pg 100] and grants that had been given to different individuals were now pronounced by the privy council to be null and void. A government was organized over the few settlers that were scattered in different parts, Mr. Drummond having been appointed governor. The settlers on Albemarle sound were allowed, on certain conditions, to retain their lands. The proprietors of the Carolinas did not make serious effort towards adding to the number of the colonists until 1667. Two ships carried out a number of adventurers, with provisions, arms, and utensils, necessary for building and cultivation. Sayle was appointed governor in 1669. In what place he first landed is uncertain; but not being pleased with his situation, he moved to the southward, and took possession of a neck of land between Ashley and Cooper rivers. Here he laid out a town, which, in honor of the British king, he called Charleston. This was the origin of South Carolina, as distinguished from North Carolina. The distance between Albemarle and the new location, induced the proprietors to establish two separate governments, the settlements on the sound constituting North Carolina. The early existence of the northern colony is said to have been marked, in a sad degree, by confusion and misrule, owing mainly to the exceptionable nature of its fundamental constitutions.

Georgia, though the last of the English colonies established in North America, may be mentioned here, since it was included in the original grant with the Carolinas. The charter of Georgia, as a district, was granted in 1732, and embraced the country on the south of the Carolinas, between the rivers Savannah and Altamaha, and extended westward from the heads of these rivers to the South sea. It was given to twenty-one persons, who were wealthy and influential individuals, as trustees, who were incorporated for the purpose of settling and establishing the colony. In pursuance of this design, in 1733, James Oglethorpe embarked for the province, with one hundred and sixteen persons destined for settlement. He selected the present site of Savannah, as[Pg 101] the most desirable spot for this object. Here he built a fort, and put the colony in a proper state of defence, not neglecting, in the mean time, to cultivate friendly relations with the Indians. Though the objects of the settlement of Georgia were in a great measure benevolent—as they contemplated, among other things, an asylum for the poor and wretched in England and Ireland—yet the hopes of prosperity, entertained by the trustees, were not a little disappointed. The expenditures necessary for the support of the colony, became, at length, very onerous. The colony, also, was disturbed by the hostility of the Spaniards on the south, and nothing, under Divine Providence, but the wise counsels and determined valor of General Oglethorpe, saved it from destruction in the early part of its existence.

Charles II. signing the Charter of Pennsylvania.

Charles II. signing the Charter of Pennsylvania.

The tract of country west of the Delaware was, in 1681, granted to William Penn, son of the distinguished Admiral Penn, as a reward for the services of his father. The boundaries of the tract are definitely given us in the charter, but are too minute to be here specified. The[Pg 102] whole region was afterwards called Pennsylvania, constituting a state of very large and regular dimensions. The origin of the name is beautifully and ingeniously accounted for, in a letter written by William Penn: "This day (January 5, 1681)," says he, "after many waitings, watchings, solicitings, and disputes in the council, my country was confirmed to me under the great seal of England, with large powers and privileges, by the name of Pennsylvania; a name the king would give it in honor of my father. I chose New Wales, being a hilly country; and when the secretary, a Welshman, refused to call it New Wales, I proposed Sylvania, and they added Penn to it, though I much opposed it, and went to the king to have it struck out. He said 'twas past, and he would take it upon him; nor could twenty guineas move the under secretary to vary the name; for I feared it would be looked on as a vanity in me, and not as a respect in the king to my father, as it really was. Thou mayst communicate my grant to friends, and expect shortly my proposals. 'Tis a dear and just thing, and my God, that has given it to me through many difficulties, will, I believe, bless and make it the seed of a nation. I shall have a tender care to the government, that it be well laid at first." And it was well laid. The territory was peaceably, and by fair purchase, procured of the natives, and though difficulties occasionally existed in the government, which gave the proprietor considerable concern, yet the colony enjoyed a career of prosperity for several successive years. The effects of his magnanimity and justice were especially visible in the early history of the colony.

Such, as briefly reviewed, is the history of the original settlements of the old thirteen United States. The character of the settlers, as well as their circumstances, were various. They were from different nations in the old world, though the great majority were of direct English descent. But amidst the variety, there is a degree of uniformity, a similar basis of institutions and principles has obtained, and they have admirably coalesced in forming[Pg 103] and sustaining one and a general government, amid their several distinct state organizations—a government admirable for its simplicity, freedom, exact equipoise, and liberal compromises. The number of states is now more than doubled, and ere long will probably be three-fold. Through the Divine blessing, let it be perpetual!

Tailpiece—The Maple

[Pg 104]


Indian wars


General Division—Tribes in the Central and Southern parts of New England—Tribes in the Northern parts—East of Lake Erie and south of Lake Ontario—Southern tribes.

At the period of the settlement of the English colonies in America, savage tribes of Indians were scattered over the country. In many respects, they possessed a similar character, usages, and institutions—a bond of affinity running through their several communities and tribes. As a race of men, they were distinct from all the races found in the old world. Their history was unknown, and to us, in these times, dates no farther back than to the period of European discovery here. They had, indeed, their traditions; but these, like the traditions of all other nations, are no farther entitled to credit than they are confirmed by appearance or probable conjecture. If the hypothesis be correct of the Asiatic origin of the Aborigines of America,[Pg 105] by the way of Bherings straits, there would seem to be a probability in the general account given of their migration towards the east, and of their conquest of a more civilized race, then occupying the country. Such a race seems to have been once in existence, judging from the monuments and relics that have been occasionally found among us. They were called the Allegewi, and their more rude conquerors styled themselves the Lenape and the Mengwe, or the Iroquois. These seem chiefly to have divided the country between them, after they had expelled the Allegewi. The general name of the Delawares has since been given to the former, and their language, called by the French, the Algonquin. The Iroquois inhabited more the upper parts of the country, along the lakes and the St. Lawrence. The Lenape, or Delawares, extended themselves to the south and east.

When our fathers came to these shores, they found here the descendants of these savage conquerors. They were entirely uncivilized, having, probably, undergone no process of civilization, from the time of the migration of their ancestors to the Mississippi and the Atlantic slope. As distributed through the various parts of the thirteen original states, they may be mentioned, as to their confederacies or tribes, in the following order:

In the central and southern parts of New England there were five principal tribes: the Wampanoags or Pokanokets, the Pawtuckets, the Massachusetts, the Narragansets, and the Pequods. The Pokanokets were the first known to the English settlers. The territory inhabited by this tribe, was that which now constitutes the south-eastern part of Massachusetts and the eastern portion of Rhode Island. To the chief of this tribe, who was Massasoit, at the time of the English emigration, other smaller tribes were subject, dwelling principally on the adjacent islands. His residence, as also afterwards that of Philip his son, was at Montaup, now Mount Hope, in Bristol, Rhode Island.

The tribe of Pawtuckets occupied the land upon the[Pg 106] Merrimack near its mouth, as their principal seat, though they extended themselves south until they came in contact with the Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts were found about the bay which bears the name of the tribe. They were bounded by the Pawtuckets on the north, and the Pokanokets on the south. Their head sachem held under his rule several smaller tribes, some of which were known by the name of the Neponsetts, the Nashuas, and the Pocumtucks. The acknowledged sovereign of the confederacy, at the time of the English settlement, was the widow of a powerful chief, styled sometimes the "Massachusett's queen." They were situated in a delightful region, where now stands the metropolis of New England, with its cluster of noble towns in the vicinity.

The tribe of the Narragansets held their chief seat on the island of the Canonicut, in the bay called after their name. Here, also, their grand sachem resided. They extended west of the Pawcatuck river, where they came into the neighborhood of the Pequods. The Pokanokets bordered them on the east. They occupied a beautiful country, and happily adapted to their mode of life, which was fishing and hunting. Their disposition was more mild and peaceable than usually appeared in the Indian character. When the English arrived in that region, they found there Canonicus, the grand sachem of the tribe, who proved a benefactor of Rhode Island.

The tribe of Pequods were seated in the eastern part of Connecticut, having the Narragansets on their eastern border. They were a fierce and warlike race. Their grand sachem, Sassacus, resided on the heights of Groton, near the river called by their name, now the Thames. Sassacus held the Mohegans subject to his authority. These were a tribe occupying the place where Norwich now stands. Uncas, the leader of the latter, joined the whites in their war with the Pequods. These several tribes, at the period referred to, were singularly diminished[Pg 107] in number and power, on account of a wasting sickness, which had been sent among them a few years before.

In the northern portion of New England, roved the Indians whose general name was that of Tarenteens, or Abenakis. They inhabited the coast of Maine throughout, and extended into New Hampshire. Their character was ferocious, and the settlers suffered severely from their wars, murders, and depredations. Stealing in, at the dead of night, upon the villages or dwellings, they burned and plundered, indiscriminately, whatever came in their way—butchering men, women, and children, without mercy.

The five tribes, or nations, that spread out east of Lake Erie, and south of Lake Ontario, were the Iroquois, or Mengwe, who had become thus divided, in consequence of being pressed by the Hurons, and one or two other tribes, inhabiting the St. Lawrence. They were called the Senecas, Cayugas, Onondagas, Oneidas, and Mohawks. They at length became a powerful race in their new abodes, and not only overcame the Hurons, but made war upon the Delawares, and were objects of dread far and near. The most warlike community of the whole was said to be the Mohawks. Their power and exactions reached east and south, to a great distance.

The Indians, in the southerly portion of the country, were of course earlier known to the English, than those already mentioned—this was true of the tribes at least that inhabited Virginia, of which there were more than forty in number, in 1607. The nucleus of an entire confederacy, inhabiting the territory from the sea-coast to the falls of the rivers, was the Powhatan nation. This confederacy included no less than thirty tribes, and the number of warriors was estimated at eight thousand. The chief of the same name, who figures so much in the history of Virginia, was the great sachem of the confederacy. The seat of the hereditary dominions was near the present site of the city of Richmond. Here the noble Pocahontas was born, and passed her early, uncultivated life.

[Pg 108]

The Indians who dwelt on the highlands, between the falls of the rivers and the mountains, were divided into two confederacies, not long after the arrival of the English. One division consisted of the Monahoaks, in the eight tribes, on the north. The other consisted of the Monacans, in five tribes, stretching on the south into Carolina. The latter went under the name of Tuscaroras, and connected with the Iroquois.

Of the Indians in the southern extremity of the country, the principal confederacies were the Creeks, whose locality was mostly in Georgia—the Cherokees, who inhabited the mountainous back country—and the Choctaws and Chickasaws, who dwelt in the region between the mountains and the Mississippi. Two or three other tribes occupied particular localities, which need not be indicated.[16]

Tailpiece—Indian War Dance

[Pg 109]


Various speculations on the subject—Opinions of Voltaire—Of Rev. Thomas Thorowgood—Dr. Boudinot—Roger Williams—Hubbard—Thomas Morton—John Josselin—Cotton Mather—Dr. Mitchell—Dr. Swinton.

Although not in precise accordance with the plan of this work, yet, on account of the interest which attaches to the subject, we devote a few pages to an exposition of the various theories advanced in relation to the origin of the Indian tribes existing at the time the English settled the country. These theories have been various, according to the whims or predilections of the authors. Some have seen in them an original species of the human race, unconnected with any of the nations or tribes of the old world. Others have fancied their resemblance to this or the other people, ancient or modern, of the eastern continent—as Hebrews, Trojans, Tartars, and the like.

Voltaire, and other skeptical writers, have accounted for their origin, according to the first-named theory. They have considered the Indian placed in America by the hand of the Creator, or by nature—just as the buffalo, or the tortoise, or any other animal, was placed there—or just as trees and other products of vegetation, that are indigenous to the soil. Thus they make no account of the apparent scriptural doctrine of the unity of the human race—the common descent from Adam.

The identity of the Indian with the Hebrew or the Israelite has been conjectured by many. Rev. Thomas Thorowgood, an author of the seventeenth century, held that opinion, and endeavored to prove that the Indians were the Jews, who had been lost in the world for the space of near two thousand years. Adair, who claims to have resided forty years among the southern Indians, published a large quarto upon their origin, history, &c. He endeavors to prove their identity with the Jews, by showing the similarity of their customs, usages, and language to those[Pg 110] of the latter. The author of the Star in the West, Dr. Boudinot, has followed the same thing, and thinks assuredly that the Indians are the long-lost ten tribes of Israel.

Roger Williams, at one time, expressed the same opinion. He writes, in a letter to friends in Salem, that the Indians did not come into America from the north-east, as some had imagined, for the following reasons: 1, Their ancestors affirm that they came from the south-west, and return thence when they die; 2, Because they separate their women, in a little wigwam by themselves, at certain seasons; and 3, Beside their god Kuttand, to the south-west, they hold that Nanawitnawit (a God overhead) made the heavens and the earth; and he avers, also, that he (the writer) had found "some taste of affinity with the Hebrew."

The similarity of practices, or even of a number of terms in a language, can, however, be no conclusive proof of sameness of origin. It may be merely accidental, or in respect to customs more particularly, may be owing to similarity of circumstances. "Who will pretend that different people, when placed under similar circumstances, will not have similar wants, and hence similar actions? that like wants will not prompt like exertions? and like causes produce not like effects?" The slight resemblances existing, or fancied to exist, between the Indians and the Israelites, may be owing to a cause like the one pointed out. As to the language of the Indians, Mr. William Wood, an old writer, says: "Some have thought that they might be of the dispersed Jews, because some of their words be near unto the Hebrew; but, by the same rule, they may conclude them to be of the gleanings of all nations, because they have words after the Greek, Latin, French, and other tongues."

Hubbard, an American historian, who wrote about 1680, has this among other passages on the subject: "If any observation be made of their manners and dispositions, it is easier to say from what nations they did not, than from whom they did derive their original. Doubtless their conjecture,[Pg 111] who fancy them to be descended from the ten tribes of the Israelites, carried captive by the Salamaneser and Esarhaddon, hath the least show of reason of any other, there being no footsteps to be observed of their propinquity to them more than to any other of the tribes of the earth, either as to their language or manners."

Thomas Morton, an early New England historian, refers their origin to the scattered Trojans, observing, "for after that Brutus, who was the fourth from Æneas, left Latium, upon the conflict held with the Latins, where, although he gave them a great overthrow to the slaughter of their grand captain, and many others of the heroes of Latium, yet he held it more safely to depart unto some other place and people, than by staying to run the hazard of an unquiet life or doubtful conquest; which, as history maketh mention, he performed. This people was dispersed there is no question, but the people that lived with him, by reason of their conversation with the Grecians and Latins, had a mixed language that participated of both." Morton maintains the great similarity of the languages of the Indians to the Greek and Roman, as an instance of which, he fancied he heard among their words Pasco-pan, and hence thinks without doubt their ancestors were acquainted with the god Pan!

A writer, Mr. John Josselin, who resided some time in New England, towards the middle part of the seventeenth century, pronounces the speech of the Mohawks to be a dialect of the Tartars. He says "the north-east people of America, that is, New England, &c., are judged to be Tartars, called Samoades, being alike in complexion, shape, habit and manners."

That the Indians were Scythians, is an opinion expressed in a decided manner by Cotton Mather. He was confirmed in it, on meeting with this passage of Julius Cæsar: "Difficilis invenire quam interficere," rendered by him, "It is harder to find them than to foil them." Cæsar was speaking of the Scythians, and the aptness of the language, as[Pg 112] expressing one peculiarity of the Indians in their warfare—their sudden attacks and retreats—is noticeable.

Dr. S. L. Mitchell, of New York, a voluminous writer in his day, thought that he had settled the question of the origin of the Indians. They came, in his opinion, from the north-east of Asia, and that is now, perhaps, the more common belief. He thinks that they possessed originally the same color, as that of the north-eastern nations of Asia.

Dr. Swinton, author of many parts of the Universal History, after stating the different opinions of various authors, who have advocated in favor of "the dispersed people," the Phœnicians and other eastern nations, observes, "that, therefore, the Americans in general were descended from a people who inhabited a country not so far distant from them as Egypt and Phœnicia, one will, as we apprehend, readily admit. Now, no country can be pitched upon so proper and convenient for this purpose, as the north-eastern part of Asia, particularly Great Tartary, Siberia, and more especially the peninsula of Kamschatka. That probably was the tract through which many Tartarian colonies passed into America, and peopled the most considerable part of the new world."[17]

Tailpiece—Savage Barbarities

[Pg 113]


Early troubles of the English with the Indians—Power and cruelty of Powhatan—His apparent friendship for the Colonists—Treacherous conduct—Kindness of Pocahontas—Inhuman conduct of Lord De la War—Captivity of Pocahontas—Cruel Massacre of the Whites—Opecancanough—Troubles with Totopotomoi—Anecdote of Jack-of-the-feather.

The intercourse of the colonists in Virginia with the Indians, was not altogether such as to secure their friendship. Difficulties arose, which were settled only by a resort to wars and massacres. The earlier colonists either returned to their native land, were destroyed by famine, or were cut off by violence. The whole scheme of colonizing was, at first, a series of mismanagement or misfortune. The earliest attempt at settlement, under the Captains Amidas and Barlow, in 1684, was abortive. It is related that the English, after landing on an island, called by the Indians Wokokon, saw none of the natives until the third day, when three were observed in a canoe. One of them came on shore, and the English went to him. He was not at all intimidated, but spoke much to them, and then went fearlessly on board the vessels. The whites, after making him some presents, received some food in return. Wingina, chief of the Indians in that place, never had much faith in the good intentions of the English, and to him was mainly attributed the breaking up of the colony. They were disposed to return home, having made no serious attempt at settlement.

The next colony which proceeded to Virginia was conducted by Sir Richard Grenville, in 1685. He had the imprudence to commit an outrage upon the natives, which occasioned at length the breaking up of the colony of one hundred and eight men whom he left behind him. He burned an Indian town, in revenge of a petty theft, which some native committed upon him. Ralf Lane, who was governor, became justly chargeable with very reprehensible conduct. He put to death some of the natives on the most frivolous charges, and it is no wonder that the animosity of[Pg 114] the Indians was aroused, and that the small band of adventurers were so discomfited as to seek a return to England.

No attempt to settle Virginia had succeeded up to the year 1607. The ill-advised schemes of the company or their controversies, and the suspicions and hatred of the Indians, had defeated every enterprise hitherto. But one man, Captain Smith, by his sagacity and heroism, at length accomplished the object. Of his adventures, no particular account needs to be given here, as these have been narrated in another part of this work. But his connection with Powhatan affords the occasion of bringing the latter more especially into view in this place. This chief is described as being tall and well-proportioned, wearing an aspect of sadness—exceedingly vigorous, and possessing a body fitted to endure great hardships. At the time of the settlement of Jamestown, he was about sixty years of age, and rendered the more majestic by the grayness of his hair. He inspired the awe of beholders as he was seated on his wooden form, and adorned with his robe of racoon skins, and his headdress of various feathers having the appearance of a crown. He governed many nations, and many of them by the right of conquest. The place of his residence, at first, was at Powhatan, near the falls of James river; but, afterwards, when he had extended his conquests north, it was at a place called Werowocomoco. His dominion included the country upon James river, from its mouth to the falls, and all its tributary streams. This was the boundary of his country southerly, and thus across the territory, "nearly as high as the falls of all the great rivers over the Potowmack, even to Patuxet in Maryland."



He usually kept a guard, consisting of forty or fifty of his bravest men, especially when he slept, but this number was four-fold after the arrival of the English. His wives were numerous, and taken or dismissed at his pleasure. When he slept, one sat at his head and another at his feet. His places for temporary residence, or at certain seasons of the year, were numerous. At these places he had victuals[Pg 115]
[Pg 116]
provided against his coming, in spacious wigwams thirty or forty yards in extent. His manner of attack upon his neighbors, was stealthy and fiercely cruel. An instance is given, in his surprisal, on one occasion, of the people of Payankatank, who were his neighbors and subjects. To effect his barbarous purpose, he sent several of his men to lodge with them the night on which he designed an attack; then, secretly surrounding them in their wigwams, commenced a horrid massacre. Many of the men were killed, their scalps taken, and the women and children made prisoners. The scalps were exhibited upon a line between two trees as a trophy, and the chief of Payankatank and his wife Powhatan became servants to the emperor.

Through Captain Smith's address, this prince was now brought completely into the English interest; although eventually, through the imprudent conduct of Newport, who soon after arrived from England, he was induced to practice deception upon his new friends, in the way of trade. Smith, however, in his turn, took advantage of the emperor, to the no great credit of his moral principles. The revenge was complete, as the following example shows; Smith gained his end fully, by pretending to set a great value on a few blue beads, which he had exposed to Powhatan as if by accident, and which he professed to be very unwilling to part with, as they were worn, according to his account, only by great kings. This fired the emperor with the wish to secure them, at whatever sacrifice on his part. In the infatuation produced, he parted with two or three hundred bushels of corn, for a pound or two of beads. Thus the intercourse of the whites with these simple children of nature, in the early period of our history, was not always marked with that delicate regard of right and veracity, with which every transaction of this nature should be attended. The consequences very naturally appeared in the many plots and counter-plots which were contrived to embarrass one another, or to effect unlawful objects.

On one occasion Powhatan became offended with Smith,[Pg 117] because he could not procure swords from him in the manner in which he procured them from Newport. When the latter was about leaving the country, Powhatan sent him twenty turkeys, for which he demanded and obtained twenty swords in return. He supposed that he could do the same with Smith, but was disappointed; and, accordingly he ordered his men to seize the English wherever they could find them. The consequence was, that many of the latter, in the vicinity of the forts, were robbed of their swords. These depredations were continued until Smith surprised a number of the Indians, from whom he learned that Powhatan was endeavoring to get all the arms in his power, with a view to massacre the whites. When the chief found that his plot was discovered, he sent Pocahontas, his daughter, with gifts, in order to apologize for his conduct, and pretended that the mischief was done by some of his chiefs. He directed her to use her influence in effecting the release of his men, in which she succeeded, and thus the parties became at peace again.

The friendship which Powhatan manifested towards the English at any time, was short-lived, and seems not to have been at all sincere. Constant deceptions were practised by him to gain his ends; and, so long as he lived, difficulties existed between him and the English. The noble Pocahontas was a sort of mediator between them, and often brought important intelligence, as seasonable aid, to the latter. On one occasion, after a long conference, in regard to a trade in provisions, in which deceptions were employed on both sides, and in which Powhatan endeavored to persuade Captain Smith and his men to treat with him in a friendly manner, and to throw aside their arms, Smith was about to resort to force in order to effect his object. Powhatan, however, succeeded in escaping from the conference, and in conveying his women, children, and effects into the woods. Even then he attempted to allure Smith into his presence unarmed, if possible, by sending him a present. Finding, at last, all artifices without effect, Powhatan[Pg 118] resolved to fall upon the English in their cabins on the following night. But here Pocahontas interposed her kind offices, and was the means, most probably, of saving the life of Smith and his attendants. She came alone, in a dark night, through the woods, and apprised Smith of her father's design. For such a favor, Smith offered her whatever articles she would please to accept; but she declined taking any thing, and, with tears in her eyes, remarked, that if her father should see her with any thing, he would suspect what she had done, and instantly kill her. She then retired as she came, through the dismal forest.

Pocahontas coming in the night to tell Smith of the intended Massacre.

Pocahontas coming in the night to tell Smith of the intended Massacre.

After Smith's final departure from Virginia, the emperor's animosity against the whites was confirmed, as the English successor in the government, Lord De la War, was much less cautious and moderate in his measures with the Indians, severe as Smith's treatment of them was at times. The new governor, finding Powhatan not disposed to yield to his demands, proceeded to an act of horrid barbarity. Having got into his power an Indian prisoner, his lordship[Pg 119] caused his right hand to be cut off. In this shocking condition he sent the poor creature to Powhatan. At the same time he gave the sachem to understand, that he would serve all the Indians in that manner, if they refused obedience any longer, and that he would destroy all the corn, which was then near to the harvest. Powhatan, consequently, could not but feel the most burning indignation against the Englishman.

Two years after Smith left Virginia, that is, in 1611, Captain Argal treacherously took the king's daughter prisoner, with a view to prevent him from doing injury to the English, as also to extort a large ransom from him, and such terms of peace as they should prescribe. On being informed of the captivity of Pocahontas, connected with the demand that he should restore to the English their men, guns, and tools, taken at different times by the Indians, the stern and wary chief became greatly embarrassed, and knew not what to do. They did not hear from him until at the expiration of three months, when he complied with their demand only in part. This did not satisfy Argal; the demand in full was reiterated; but Powhatan was again, for a long time, silent. The result was, that, in a year or two, Sir Thomas Dale took Pocahontas to the residence of her father, in hopes to effect an exchange, and bring about a peace. Powhatan was absent from home, and the party met with no kindly reception from the Indians, who seemed to take the presence of the English in dudgeon. The latter burned many of their Indian habitations, and gave out threats of other vengeance. This had the effect of inducing some of the Indians to come and make peace, as they called it. Pocahontas had then an opportunity of seeing two of her brothers, which gave her unbounded joy. After the marriage of this excellent Indian woman to Mr. Rolfe, the whites experienced less trouble from Powhatan; though it is believed that they were never entirely exempt from the effects of his policy or his power.

The successors of Powhatan were, first, Opitchapan, and,[Pg 120] next, Opecancanough, both brothers of the emperor. Such was the law of the succession. The first-named chief seems never to have been noted for any distinguishing quality, but is spoken of as being feeble and decrepid. He compared unfavorably with his brother, who, in the council and in the field, was the most conspicuous personage among the Powhatans. He had, during the life-time of the late emperor, procured from the free tribe of the Chickahominies the title of their king.

It was Opecancanough who figured so disastrously in the great massacre of the whites, on the 22d March, 1622, which has been narrated in another place. It was kept a profound secret during four years, and burst upon the settlement like a bolt from heaven. In the vengeance, with which the English followed this act of treachery and blood, it was for some time supposed that Opecancanough was among the killed; but if history does not misguide us, the same sachem, twenty-two years afterwards, executed a still greater massacre upon the English. It is not known how long he had been plotting the extirpation of the whites, but in 1644, all the Indians over the space of country six hundred miles in extent, were joined in the enterprise. The governor and council had appointed a fast-day to be kept through the country upon Good-Friday for the success of the king. On the day before the intended fast, Opecancanough, borne in a litter, led his warriors forward, and commenced the work of death. He was supposed to be near one hundred years old at this time. The massacre commenced in the out-parts of the circumjacent country, and continued two days. The Indians fell suddenly upon the inhabitants, and killed all indiscriminately, to the number of three hundred. Their progress was checked by the arrival of Sir William Berkley, at the head of an armed force.

Opecancanough borne in a litter to the Massacre of the Whites.

Opecancanough borne in a litter to the Massacre of the Whites.

Subsequently to this massacre (the date has not been ascertained), this bloody chief was taken prisoner. Sir William intended to send him as a present to the king of England. He was, however, prevented from doing it, by[Pg 121] the assassination of Opecancanough. The soldier who was appointed to guard him, fired upon him, and inflicted a mortal wound, it having been, as was supposed, an act of private revenge. Just before the old chief expired, hearing a great noise and crowd around him, he ordered an attendant to lift up his eye-lids, as from age and fatigue the elasticity of his muscles was in a great degree impaired, when he discovered a multitude pressing around him, to gratify the morbid desire of beholding a dying sachem. Aroused with indignation, and little fearing death, he seemed to disregard the crowd; but raising himself from the ground in the spirit of his wonted authority, commanded that the governor should be called to him. When the latter came, the chief uttered in his hearing the impassioned remark: "Had it been my fortune to have taken Sir William Berkley prisoner, I would not meanly have exposed him as a show to my people," and soon after expired. An Indian, whom they afterwards had seized as prisoner, confessed that they attempted this destruction of the English, because[Pg 122] they saw the latter "took up all their lands from them, and would drive them out of the country, and they took this season, for that they understood that they were at war in England, and began to go to war among themselves." These intrusions upon the Indian territory were, however, conformable to the grants of the proprietors, the Indians. Opecancanough could hardly have expected an entire conquest, as his people had already begun to melt away, and the villages of the English planters were springing up over an extent of country of over five hundred miles, with a comparatively large population.

Nickotawance succeeded Opecancanough as a tributary to the English. In 1648, he came to Jamestown in company with several other chiefs, and brought a number of beaver-skins to be sent to the English king. He delivered a prolonged address, which he concluded with the protestation, "that the sun and moon should first lose their glorious lights and shining, before he or his people should ever more wrong the English."

The successor of this chief is supposed to have been Totopotomoi, as he was king of Pamunkey in 1656. In that year, a body of western or inland Indians, to the number of six or seven hundred, came down from the mountainous country, and took possession of the territory about the falls of James river. This fact coming to the knowledge of the legislature of Virginia, which was then in session, it was resolved to dislodge the Indians from their new location, as their situation and proximity were considered dangerous to the whites. The war seems not to have been attended with any success on the part of the colony. The English leader, with one hundred men, and Totopotomoi with one hundred of his warriors, suffered extremely in an engagement. It appears, however, that a peace was not long after concluded with the Indians.

A renowned warrior, Nemattanow, not having been mentioned in the proper order of time, may be introduced here. He was supposed to have had an agency in bringing about[Pg 123] the great massacre of 1622. He was, however, an object of jealousy to Opecancanough, the leader in that tragedy, on account of his popularity among his countrymen. He is said to have been an eccentric and vain person, being wont "to dress himself up in a strange attire and barbaric fashion with feathers," on which account he obtained the name of Jack-of-the-feather. As he had been engaged in many fights with the English, and, though particularly exposed, had never received a wound, he was considered by the Indians to be invulnerable. The cause and manner of his fate were the following: "Only about fourteen days before the massacre, Jack-of-the-feather went to the house of one Morgan, where he saw many such articles exhibited as were calculated to excite admiration in such people. Jack, perhaps, had not the means to purchase, but it seems he was resolved some how or other to possess them. He therefore told Morgan that if he would take his commodities to Pamunkey, the Indians would give him a great price for them. Not in the least mistrusting the design of Nemattanow, the simple Englishman set out for Pamunkey, in company with this Indian. This was the last the English ever heard of Morgan. However strange it may seem, Jack's ill-directing fate sent him to the same place again; and, what was still more strange, he had the cap of the murdered Morgan upon his head. Morgan's servants asked him where their master was, who very deliberately answered that he was dead. This satisfied them that he had murdered him. They therefore seized him, in order to take him before a magistrate at Berkley; but he made a good deal of resistance, which caused one of the captors to shoot him down. The singular part of the tragedy is yet to be related. Though mortally wounded, Nemattanow was not killed outright, and his captors, which were two stout young men, got him into a boat to proceed to Mr. Thorp's, the magistrate. As they were going, the warrior became satisfied that he must die, and with the most extraordinary earnestness, besought that two things might be granted him. One[Pg 124] was, that it should never be told to his countrymen that he was killed by a bullet; and the other, that he should be buried among the English, so that it should never be discovered that he had died, or was subject to death like other men. Such was the pride and vanity exhibited by an Indian at his death."[18]

From the preceding brief notices of the hostile bearing of the savage tribes towards the early Southern planters, it will be apparent that the colonization of that portion of America was no easy matter. The jealousy of the Indians towards their new neighbors was soon excited; nor did the conduct of the colonists serve to allay, but rather to increase it. The cruelty and vindictiveness of the Indians cannot be justified; but in their circumstances may be found, perhaps, some small apology. This was their country: they were proprietors of the soil. Here they lived: here were their altars: here their fathers' sepulchres; and they regarded them with the veneration and love of which they were capable. Who can blame them? Who censure those feelings—that patriotism—that love of liberty, which, when found among civilized nations, are highly extolled? Among the Indian chiefs, there were men of no small sagacity; who, foreseeing the consequences to themselves and people of the thrift and extension of the English—can it be deemed strange that their anticipations were most sad? or that they should adopt every expedient which seemed likely to avert calamities to them most fearful?

Tailpiece—Ship before the wind

[Pg 125]

New England Indian Wars


Early Rencontre at Plymouth—Friendly intercourse established by means of Samoset—Kindness of Squanto—Intercourse with Massasoit—Contemplated Massacre defeated—Jealousy of Caunbitant—Notice of Hobomok.

In the early period of the settlements of New England, the difficulties with the Indians were of less frequent occurrence, than those which took place in the Virginia colony. The providence of God had prepared the way for the pilgrims to enter upon their wilderness inheritance. The power of the Indians had been weakened by sickness, or their dispositions softened, perhaps, in some cases, by their adversities. There were instances, certainly, of singular friendship toward the whites, on the part of these children of nature, as was manifested in Samoset, Massasoit, and others. But the character, objects, and policy of the pilgrims will account, in part, for the comparative freedom from Indian hostility which marked the early era of their settlement in this land. As they came to enjoy and disseminate their religion, they had no motive to irritate or disturb the[Pg 126] aboriginal inhabitants. Wealth was not sought from them, nor any greater portion of the soil than would suffice for their wants, at the same time leaving to the Indian behind the boundless wilderness, which alone he cared for. They would have reclaimed him from heathenism, and taught him religion, science, and the arts of civilised life, had he been pleased to learn them. This was attempted, in some instances, but the success, though a matter of gratitude, was not at any time very considerable. The policy of the fathers was to cultivate peace with all the Indian tribes; and during many years, so far as the settlement of the eastern shore was concerned, the object generally was effected. Still occasionally difficulties would occur, and at length, under a new set of chiefs, the notes of savage warfare rung loud and long over the hills and vales of New England. But we will here speak more particularly of the earliest colony, Plymouth.

The first encounter had with the Indians, preceded the disembarkation of the company of adventurers. It was a select party of some fifteen or sixteen, who had landed with a view to explore the country. Overtaken by night, they set their watch, hoping doubtless to pass the night unmolested; but about midnight they heard a hideous cry. The cry then ceased, and it was then supposed that it had been the noise only of wolves and foxes. About five o'clock, however, they again heard a sudden and strange noise, which they knew to be the same voices, though they varied their notes. One of the company being abroad, came running in, and cried, "They are men, Indians! Indians!" and with this announcement came a shower of arrows. The whites ran out with all speed to recover their arms. The cry of the enemy was terrific, especially when they perceived what the whites were about to do. Their arms being secured, the Indians were ready to make an assault. One, who appeared to be the leader of the latter, a stout athletic man, stood behind a tree within a musket-shot, and there let his arrows fly at the English. Three several shots[Pg 127] were poured in upon him without touching him—at length, one seemed to take effect, as he bounded off, and his company with him, yelling most hideously. It is not known that any blood was shed in this encounter, though the probability is, that the chief was wounded. Of the arrows that were left on the field, several were picked up, and sent as a curiosity to friends in England. Some of them were ingeniously headed with brass, some with harts' horn, and some with the claws of eagles.

An intercourse of an agreeable character between the pilgrims and the natives soon commenced, by means of Samoset, whose manner of introducing himself to the settlement has been mentioned in another portion of this work. The hospitality with which he was treated, secured his friendship and confidence, and he communicated to the settlers, in answer to their inquiries, whatever information he possessed respecting the Indians and the country. He is described by an early historian as having been a tall, strait man, the hair of his head black, long behind, and short before, none at all on his face. He ate and drank freely of that which was offered him; and, although they wished his absence at night, yet he was unwilling to leave, and they could not do otherwise than keep and watch him. This visit of the kind Samoset was an augury of good to the colony. It seemed purely a providential event.

The visit continued only until the next morning, but was repeated in the course of a day or two. His return then brought to the acquaintance of the colony other Indians who accompanied him. They were some of Massasoit's men, whose object was to trade with the English. As Samoset was charged not to let any who came with him bring their arms, these, therefore, left their bows and arrows at a distance from the place. They were entertained in a fitting manner; they ate liberally of the English victuals, and appeared very friendly; "sang and danced after their manner like antics." They were dismissed as soon as it could be done conveniently, without effecting any[Pg 128] trade. Samoset, either being sick, or feigning himself so, would not depart, and contrived to continue several days longer. In this visit, some stolen articles were returned by the Indians, through Samoset's influence.

At the next visit he made, he was accompanied by Squanto, as once before related. The latter was said to be the only native of Patuxet (the Indian name of Plymouth) living there at that period. His captivity and residence in England had prepared him, by understanding the English language, to render service to the colony. Squanto, it appears, was the only person that escaped the great sickness at Patuxet. The extent of its ravages, as near as can be judged, was from Narraganset bay to Kennebec, or, perhaps, Penobscot, and is supposed to have commenced about 1617, and its continuance between two and three years, as it was nearly abated in 1619. According to the account of the Indians, it was a terrific scene, the deaths occurring with such frequency, that the living were not able to bury the dead. In the language of an author of the time, "they died in heaps as they laid in their houses, and the living, that were able to shift for themselves, would runne away, and would let them dy, and let their carcasses ly above the ground without buriall. For in a place where many inhabited, there had been but one (referring to Squanto) left alive to tell what became of the rest." When the pilgrims arrived in this country, their bones were thick upon the ground in many places. Squanto, with another Indian and several Englishmen, was employed, on one occasion, to go in search of an English boy, who had been lost in the woods. Having been informed of some Indians that the boy was at Nauset, they proceeded in a vessel to that place, joined also by Iyanough, the sachem of Cummaquid, and two of his men. Aspinet, the chief at Nauset, being informed by Squanto that his English friends had come for the boy, he came with a great train, and brought the boy with him, one carrying him through the water. Not less than an hundred Indians appeared on this occasion, half of whom attending[Pg 129] the boy to the boat, the rest standing aloof, with their bows and arrows, looking on. The child was delivered up in a formal manner, covered with beads, and Aspinet embraced the opportunity of making peace with the English, the latter giving him a knife, as also one to the kind Indian who first entertained the lost boy, and brought him to Nauset.

Squanto had shown his early attachment to the English, in his conduct towards Captain Dermer, who visited the country the year before the pilgrims arrived here. When the Indians would have killed him on some occasion, Squanto successfully pleaded in his behalf. They had in view the avenging of some murders, which a foreigner, an Englishman, had a while before inflicted on their people. These two Indians, Samoset and Squanto, remained with the English, instructing them how to live in their country. Squanto became an important personage in the Indian politics. He was in the main friendly to the English; but his devices to enhance himself in the eyes of his new friends, or to make himself great in the eyes of his countrymen, were not always wise, and were not, unfrequently, mischievous. In 1622 he forfeited his life by plotting to destroy that of Massasoit. On that occasion, the latter went to Plymouth, burning with rage against Squanto, but the governor succeeded in quieting him for that time. Soon after, he sent a messenger to entreat the governor's consent to his being put to death; but the latter would not be persuaded to yield to his request. Squanto denied all knowledge of the plot. The English, however, seemed well satisfied that Squanto had laid this shallow scheme to set them against Massasoit, thinking they would destroy him, by which means he expected to become chief sachem himself; and this seems the more probable, as Massasoit was, for some time, irreconcilable, because they withheld Squanto from him. When the English understood his object, they assured the Indians that they did not concur in the plot, and that they would do no injury to them, unless the Indians began with the whites. Squanto was sharply[Pg 130] reproved by the governor, but he was so necessary to the welfare of the colony, in respect to its intercourse with the Indians, that he was retained there.

The following instance is related of his manœuvres to possess his countrymen with great fear of the English: He told them that the English kept the plague buried in one of their store-houses, and that they could send it at any time to any place, to destroy whatever persons or people they would, though they themselves stirred not out of doors. This piece of information was of course calculated to inspire them with great terror. Some sagacious Indians at length discovered the trick, by inquiring of the English respecting it.

Squanto died during an expedition or trading voyage, which was undertaken among the Indians of Cape Cod, to buy corn in a time of scarcity. He was pilot on this occasion. He was seized with sickness in the midst of the undertaking, his disorder being a fever, and he bleeding much at the nose, which the Indians reckon a fatal symptom, the disease soon overpowered him. He desired the governor would pray for him, that he might go to the Englishman's God. He bequeathed his effects to sundry of his English friends, as remembrances of his affection.

"Thus died the famous Squanto, or Tisquantum, in December, 1622. To him the pilgrims were greatly indebted, although he often, through extreme folly and short-sightedness, gave them, as well as himself and others, a great deal of trouble."

One of the most interesting personages of Indian history is Massasoit, already spoken of incidentally. His visit to the pilgrims had been previously announced through Samoset and Squanto. He was chief of the Wampanoags, and resided at a place called Pokanet by the Indians, which is now included in the town of Bristol, Rhode Island. He was a friend to the English, and persevered in his friendship to the last. His renown was more in peace than in war, and[Pg 131] is for that reason more precious in the memory of the wise and virtuous.

"It has often been thought strange that so mild a sachem as Massasoit should have possessed so great a country, and our wonder has been increased, when we consider that Indian possessions are generally obtained by prowess and great personal courage. We know of none who could boast of such extensive dominions, where all were contented to consider themselves his friends and children. Powhatan, Pontiac, Little Turtle, Tecumseh, and many more that we could name, have swayed numerous tribes; but theirs was a temporary union in an emergency of war. That Massasoit should be able to hold so many tribes together, without constant war, required qualities belonging only to a few. That he was not a warrior, no one will allow, when the testimony of Annawon is so direct to the point; for that great chief gave Captain Church an account of what mighty success he had formerly in the wars against many nations of Indians, when he served Asuhmequin (Massasoit), Philip's father."

The limits of his country cannot be exactly pointed out, as occasionally the Nipmucks, or inland Indians, owned his sway, and at other times that of the Narraganset sachem. He possessed at least Cape Cod, and all that part of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, between Massachusetts and Narraganset bays, extending into the interior to some distance between Pawtucket and Charles rivers. The distance is not accurately known. This chief had several places of residence, but the favorite one would appear to have been Mount Hope. It has always been deemed a picturesque and beautiful locality. The Indian name, Pokanoket, signifies the wood or land on the other side of the water. There was a place in Middleborough, and another in Raynham, where Massasoit spent some parts of the year, probably the summer.

It was of course in Massasoit's country that the pilgrim fathers had arrived. With their object, and the nature of[Pg 132] their movement, he could not be supposed to be acquainted. These points he made some attempts to ascertain, by sending occasionally some of his men to the settlement at Plymouth. It was in this way that his introduction to the English was brought about, the visit of Samoset and Squanto being the preparation for the event. It was on the 22d of March, 1621, that the great sagamore, with Quadequina, his brother, made his appearance before them. Much caution was observed by each party in respect to the meeting, as they were uncertain of one another's views. But presents were made to the Indians, and much good will was expressed. The following description of the scene has been given: "As Massasoit proceeded to meet the English, they met him with six soldiers, who saluted each other. Several of his men were with him, but all left their bows and arrows behind. They were conducted to a new house which was partly finished, and a green rug was spread on the floor, and several cushions for Massasoit and his chiefs to sit down upon. Then came the English governor, followed by a drummer and trumpeter, and a few soldiers, and, after kissing one another, all sat down. Some strong water being brought, the governor drank to Massasoit, who in his turn drank a great draught, that made him sweat all the while after. They now proceeded to make a treaty, which stipulated that neither Massasoit nor any of his people should do hurt to the English, and that if they did, they should be given up to be punished by them; and that if the English did any harm to him or any of his people, they (the English) would do the like to them." Massasoit is represented as having trembled much on the occasion, through his fear of the English. This was his first visit to the infant colony, and its consequences seem to have been of the most propitious character. He ever afterwards treated the English with kindness, and the compact was followed by a long period of peace.

The only exception to his feelings of friendship for the new comers, arose from the affair of Squanto, as has been[Pg 133] already detailed. Massasoit could not but feel aggrieved; but a sort of necessity seemed to be laid upon them to secure the good offices of Squanto, and they could not know, perhaps, how far he was implicated in wrong. Indeed, it is stated that at one time they were about to deliver up Squanto to Massasoit's men, but that the latter, in their impatience at the delay, went off in a rage.

Sometime during the next summer, Massasoit was visited by several of the English, among whom were Mr. Edward Winslow, Mr. Stephen Hopkins, and Squanto, their interpreter. The object they had in view was to ascertain his place of residence, in the event of having to call on him for assistance, to cement and continue their begun friendship, and particularly to induce him to restrain his men in regard to their visits to the colony, as it was a time of scarcity, and they could not afford to support such vagabonds. They took presents with them, in order to render their visit agreeable to the sagamore, and such was the effect produced. Massasoit was absent at the time, but, being immediately sent for, he soon returned to meet his guests. The report of their guns, upon hearing he was on the way, frightened the Indian women and children to such a degree, that they all fled; but their salutation in the same manner to Massasoit as he drew near, very greatly elated him. He welcomed his guests with kindness, and took them into his house; but they had sorry accommodations and scanty fare. Except tobacco for smoking, their entertainment for the first night was only a supperless bed, as he had no victuals to give them. Their bed, if it might be so called, consisted only of planks, raised a foot from the ground, with a thin mat upon them, with a mixed company to occupy it, so that they were "worse weary of" their "lodgings, than of" their "journey." After fasting two nights and one day, they partook of a scanty, but "timely" meal of boiled fish. In the language of the times, it is related: "Very importunate was he to have us stay with them longer. But we desired to keep the Sabbath at home,[Pg 134] and feared we should either be light-headed for the want of sleep—for what with bad lodging, the savages' barbarous singing (for they used to sing themselves to sleep), lice, and fleas, within doors, and musketoes without, we could hardly sleep all the time of our being there—we much fearing that if we should stay any longer, we should not be able to recover home for want of strength. So that on Friday morning, before the sun rising, we took our leave and departed, Massasoit being both grieved and ashamed that he could no better entertain us."

Governor Winslow's visit to Massasoit during his sickness.

Governor Winslow's visit to Massasoit during his sickness.

A sickness with which this sachem was seized, in 1623, occasioned another visit on the part of Mr. Winslow. He had been sent for by the chief to visit him in his distress, accompanied by "one Master John Hampden," then on a visit to the colony, and he took with him medicines and cordials, such as were deemed necessary. As it was a custom, among the Indians, for all the friends of a chief to attend on such occasions, Mr. Winslow found on his arrival that the house was filled with people. They were noisily[Pg 135] engaged in practicing their charms or powows, and all was confusion and uproar—a poor sedative, surely, for a sick man. To keep heat in him, some half dozen women were busily employed in chafing his arms, legs, and thighs. When they had made an end of their incantations, the chief was told that his friends, the English, were come to see him. Unable to see, but learning who it was, he desired to speak with Mr. Winslow. The interview was touching in no small degree, and especially as Massasoit said: "O, Winsow, I shall never see thee again." Like other Indians, he could not articulate the liquid l. By Winslow's kind exertions, however, his sickness began to abate, and the sachem finally recovered, contrary to the expectations of himself and all his friends.

For this attention of the whites, he ever felt grateful, viewing it as the means of his recovery. He gave a striking proof of his appreciation of the favor shown him, even before the departure of Winslow, by informing Hobomok of a plot laid by some of his subordinate chiefs for the purpose of destroying the two English plantations. This he charged him to make known to the English, which was done. Massasoit mentioned, at the same time, that he had been urged to join in it, or give his consent to the plan; but that he had steadily opposed it. The evils which that plot brought upon its authors, will be seen in another place.

Massasoit manifested a great desire for the welfare of his people, as appeared from his inducing Mr. Winslow to go among them, in the midst of a prevailing sickness, and administer to them the medicines and cordials which had proved so efficacious in his own case. This, his paternal regard for his people, raised him still higher in the estimation of the English. Many Indians, before Mr. Winslow left, came to see their chief; some probably from a distance of an hundred miles.

A war, which commenced in 1632, between Massasoit and Canonicus, the sachem of the Narragansets, was speedily terminated by the interference of the English in behalf[Pg 136] of their benefactor. Captain Miles Standish led the force, and accomplished the object with little bloodshed, although the Indians expected a serious contest.

Massasoit showed his kind feeling towards Mr. Williams, in giving up the lands in dispute between him and the Narraganset sachem, since Mr. Williams had bought and paid for all he possessed of the latter. His title was precarious so long as Massasoit laid claim to the territory, as it would then be considered as being within the jurisdiction of Plymouth. The land thus given up, included that which is the island called Rhode Island, Prudence island, and perhaps some others, together with Providence. Agreeably to Massasoit's advice, in regard to the Indian plot for the massacre of the whites, already referred to, that a bold stroke should be struck, and the heads of the plot destroyed, the daring Standish, with a party of only eight men, went into the hostile country to effect the object. The party intended secresy, but the Indians in some way obtained knowledge of it, or mistrusted Standish's design. Accordingly, they began to prepare for the conflict. One of them, Pecksuot, a man of great courage, called a paniese, told Hobomok, he understood the captain was there to kill him and the rest of the Indians there. "Tell him," said Pecksuot, "we know it, but fear him not, neither will we shun him." By their conduct before the English, in sharpening their knives and in their insulting gestures and speeches, they showed how little apprehension they entertained, especially as the English were so inconsiderable in number. Pecksuot even told Standish, that though he were a great captain, yet he was but a little man, and that he himself, though he was no sachem, yet was a man of great strength and courage. Standish little heeded what was said, but watched his opportunity, as the parties were in a house together. After considerable manœuvring, he could get advantage over but a few of the Indians. At length, having got Pecksuot and Wittuwamat, a bloody Massachusetts' chief, both together, with another man and a youth, brother[Pg 137] to Wittuwamat, and like him in character; and having about as many of his own company in the same room, he gave the word to his men to commence the work. The door was at once made fast, and Standish himself began the terrible contest. Snatching from Pecksuot his own knife from his neck, though with a desperate struggle, he pierced with it the athletic Indian, and brought him to the floor. The rest killed Wittuwamat and the other man, and took the youth, whom the captain caused to be hanged. After this, other encounters were had with the scattered Indians, and some three more were also killed.

In justice to the savages, it is worthy of remark, that they were provoked to the conspiracy for which they were so severely dealt with, by the unauthorized aggressions of Weston's men, a colony of sixty Englishmen, who had come over a year or two before, under the direction of Thomas Weston. He was at first a friend of the pilgrims, but became at length their traducer. This company, after living upon the ill-supplied settlers at Plymouth through the winter of 1621-22, had made at Weymouth an inexpedient settlement. The pilgrims prosecuted this bloody enterprise, under the excitement produced by the horrible intelligence from Virginia of the great Indian massacre in that colony. In view of this bloody tale, we cannot but regret the necessity which our fathers felt for engaging in such a work; and we cannot but be touched with the piety and humanity of the godly Mr. Robinson, the father of the Plymouth church, in consequence of the present affair, that "it would have been happy if they had converted some before they had killed any."

Between the years 1649 and 1657, Massasoit sold to the English, at different times, various tracts of land for a valuable consideration. Indeed, being entirely subservient to the English, he claimed to hold little or nothing of his own at length, and ceased to act in his own name. He therefore scarcely appears in the records of the colony, during the three or four last years of his life. He died, it[Pg 138] is believed, in 1662, his son Alexander dying also the same year. Another son, the celebrated Philip, succeeded him. Even Massasoit could be guilty of an Indian trick, as the following instance, related by Governor Winthrop, evinces: Mr. Winslow, on returning from a trading voyage southward, left his vessel, and, traveling by land, called on his old friend Massasoit, who agreed to accompany him during the remainder of the journey. While they were on the way, Massasoit sent on one of his men forward to Plymouth, for the purpose of surprising the people, by the announcement of Winslow's death. As the declaration was believed at Plymouth, from the manner in which the account was given, it produced unmingled grief at the settlement. But shortly, what was their astonishment at seeing him alive, in company with his Indian friend. When it was known that the sachem had caused the sad news to be conveyed to them, they demanded the reason of his conduct in practising such a deception. He gave as a reply, that he might be more welcome when he did return, and that such things were customary with his people.

Of Caunbitant, as one of the Indian chiefs in that region, something deserves to be said. He was one of the most renowned captains within the dominions of Massasoit. The place of his residence was Mettapoiset, in the present town of Swansey. He ever looked upon the English with a jealous eye, considering them as enemies and intruders on the soil, and his plans appeared to be shaped for the destruction of the strangers, as soon as he could find a fitting occasion. In the summer of 1621, he was supposed to be in the interests of the Narragansets, and plotting with them to overthrow Massasoit. He had much also to say against the English, and the peace concluded between Nauset, Cummaquid, and the latter. Against Squanto and Hobomok he indulged a deadly enmity. Discovering, on one occasion, the house where Squanto was, he set a guard around it, and secured him. Hobomok, seeing that Squanto was taken, and Caunbitant holding a knife to his throat,[Pg 139] being a strong man broke away from them, and came to Plymouth, with the news of Squanto's probable death. Upon this, the people sent an expedition of fourteen men, under Standish, to rectify matters. After much toil, this small handful of men arrived at the place where they expected to find Caunbitant. They beset the house, and demanded of the chief if he were there. The savages seemed to be struck dumb with fear. Upon being assured that they sought only Caunbitant, and that every Indian was safe who would be still, they at length, though a few of them endeavored to escape, told the assailants that Caunbitant was returned home with his whole train, and that Squanto was yet living, and in the town. The attack being made in the night, carried terror to the hearts of the Indians, as in the affray a couple of guns were discharged, some of them never having heard the report of fire-arms before. While the English were searching the house, Hobomok got on the top of it, and called Squanto and another Indian, Tokamahamon, whom they sought. They both appeared in a short time, together with several others, some armed and others naked. The captured wigwam was held until daylight, when the prisoners were released, and the little army marched into the town of the Namaskets. Here it seems Squanto had a house to which they went, and where they took breakfast. The issue of the whole was, the giving out of a decree from the court that they held, in which they warned Caunbitant of the consequences of offering violence to Tisquantum, Hobomok, or any of Massasoit's subjects. Caunbitant seemed from this time to lay aside his enmity to the English, or at least his open opposition, as on the 13th of September following he went to Plymouth, and signed a treaty of amity, together with others. The English nevertheless always doubted his sincerity.

What became of this sachem is not known to history. His name appears no more on record after 1623, and it is supposed that he either fled his country, or died about that time.

[Pg 140]

Hobomok, already spoken of occasionally in the story of others, deserves a more particular notice. He was a notable warrior, who came to Plymouth about the end of July, 1621, and remained with the English to the close of his life. He was the principal means of the lasting friendship of Massasoit, which he took much pains to promote. Esteemed by his own countrymen for his prowess and valor, he was extremely serviceable to the colonists, by teaching them how to cultivate the fruits and grains peculiar to the country. The latter had no reason to apprehend treachery on his part, as Hobomok was a favorite of Massasoit, and one of his principal captains, and was entirely in their interest. The following incident strengthened them in their opinion: The Massachusetts Indians had, for some time, been inviting the settlers into their country to trade for furs. When in March, 1622, they began to make ready for the voyage, Hobomok told the people that he feared the Massachusetts were joined in confederacy with the Narragansets, and that they therefore would seize upon this occasion to cut off Captain Standish and his company abroad; and also, in the mean while, it was to be feared that the Narragansets would attack the town at home, giving reasons for his apprehensions, declaring also that Tisquantum was in the confederacy. He intimated that the latter would use many persuasions to draw the people from their shallops, that the Indians might take advantage of their situation.

They, however, proceeded on their voyage, but had not reached a great distance before a false messenger came running into Plymouth, apparently in great agitation. He informed them that Caunbitant, with many of the Narragansets, and he believed Massasoit with them, were on their way in order to cut off the English. The story was unhesitatingly believed, and their instant purpose was to bring back Captain Standish, who had just left in the boat with Hobomok. The discharge of a cannon from the town brought the company back. They had no sooner arrived than Hobomok assured them there was no truth in the[Pg 141] report, and said it was a plot of Squanto's, who was then in one of the boats. He knew that as to Massasoit, that chief would not engage in such an enterprise without consulting him. Although there was reason to believe this, or at least to confide in the sincerity of Hobomok, yet, as related in another place, the English saw fit to connive at Squanto's practices. "Hobomok was greatly beloved by Massasoit, notwithstanding he became a professed Christian, and Massasoit was always opposed to the English religion himself. He was the pilot of the English when they visited Massasoit in his sickness, whom before their arrival they considered dead, which caused great manifestations of grief in Hobomok. He often exclaimed, as they were on the way, 'My loving sachem! my loving sachem! many have I known, but never any like thee.' Then turning to Mr. Winslow, said: 'While you live, you will never see his like among the Indians, that he was no liar, nor bloody and cruel, like other Indians. In anger and passion, he was soon reclaimed, easy to be reconciled towards such as had offended him; that his reason was such as to cause him to receive advice of mean men; and that he governed his people better with few blows than others did with many.' In the division of the land at Plymouth, among the inhabitants, Hobomok received a lot as his share, on which he resided after the English manner, and died a Christian among them. The year of his death does not appear, but was previous to 1642."[19]

[Pg 142]


Territory of the Narragansets—Canonicus their sachem—His mode of challenging the English to War—Union proposed between the Pequods and Narragansets—How defeated—Haughty bearing of Miantonimoh—Accused of a conspiracy against the English—Accusations repelled—Peace concluded between him and Massachusetts—War between Uncas and Miantonimoh—The latter captured and delivered to the English—How disposed of—Troubles with the Narragansets under Ninigret—Expedition against him—Issue of it.

The Narragansets were considered a great nation among the Indians. The territory of their sachem extended about thirty or forty miles from Sekunk river and Narraganset bay, including Rhode Island and other islands in that bay. Pawcatuck river separated it from the Pequods. Under the rule of Canonicus, in 1642, this nation was at the height of its greatness, and was supposed to embrace a population of thirty thousand inhabitants. He was sachem of the tribe at the time of the landing of the fathers on the shores of New England, and continued in this capacity to the time of his death, in 1647. He died, it is believed, at a very advanced age. At the period of the settlement of Plymouth, the Wampanoags were in great fear of the Narragansets, and at one time war actually existed. During its continuance, Massasoit fled before Canonicus, and sought the protection of the English.

The Narragansets, at an early period, were not disinclined to seek a quarrel with the English. In view of the weakness of the latter, they began to utter threats, although the summer preceding they had desired and obtained peace. They deemed it a favorable opportunity for their purpose, as the English had just received an addition to their numbers, but not to their arms or provisions—a circumstance of which the Indians were advised. Their desire, or intention, was definitely made known by the following significant circumstance: In February, 1622, Canonicus sent a man, accompanied by one Tokamahamon,[Pg 143] a friendly Indian, into Plymouth, bringing with him a bundle of arrows, bound with a rattle-snake's skin, and, leaving them there, immediately left the place. When Squanto was made acquainted with the incident, he informed the English that it was a challenge for war. The governor (Bradford) taking the rattle-snake's skin, and filling it with powder and shot, returned it to Canonicus. At the same time, he instructed the messenger to bid him defiance, and dare him to the combat. This had the desired effect upon the Indian sachem. He refused to receive the skin, as also the other chiefs, until it was at last returned to Plymouth. Canonicus was evidently awed by the hostile bearing and threat of the English.

Governor Bradford and the Snake-skin.

Governor Bradford and the Snake-skin.

Not long after this affair, the Pequods proposed to the Narragansets to join them in rooting out the English: on the ground that if the Pequods were once destroyed, the ruin of the Narragansets was sure to follow. The English would want their lands. They were spreading fast. But a timely combination would save both tribes and their inheritance.[Pg 144] On these politic representations, the historian Hubbard cleverly remarks that, "Machiavel himself, if he had sat in council with them, could not have insinuated stronger reasons to have persuaded them to a peace." It is said that the Narragansets felt the force of them, and were almost persuaded to accede to the proposal, and to join with the others against the English; but when they considered what an advantage they had put in their hands, by the power and favor of the English, to take full revenge of all their former injuries upon their inveterate enemies, the thought of that was so sweet, that it decided their hesitating minds.

The governor of Massachusetts, in order to prevent a union between these savage nations, and to strengthen the bands of peace between the Narraganset Indians and the colony, sent for Miantonimoh, who was their sachem in connection with Canonicus, inviting him to come to Boston. Upon this, Miantonimoh, together with two of the sons of Canonicus, another sachem, and a number of their men, went to Boston, and entered into a treaty to the following effect: That there should be a firm peace between them and the English and their posterity—that neither party should make peace with the Pequods without the consent of the other—that they should not harbor the Pequods—and that they should return all fugitive servants, and deliver over to the English, or put to death, all murderers. The English were to give them notice when they went out against the Pequods, and they were to furnish them with guides. It was also stipulated that a free trade should be maintained between the parties.

These articles were indifferently well observed by the Narragansets till their enemies, the Pequods, were totally subdued; but after that event, they began to grow insolent and treacherous, especially Miantonimoh himself. The English seem always to have been more favorably disposed towards other tribes than to the Narragansets, as appears from the interest they took in the wars between them and their enemies. As long as the other tribes succeeded[Pg 145] against them, the English took no part in the contests; but whenever the Narragansets prevailed, they were ready to intercede.

After the period of the Pequod war, in 1637, the Narragansets were the most numerous and powerful of the Indian tribes in this part of the country. Conscious of their power, and discontented that the whole sovereignty over the rest of the Indians was not adjudged to belong to them, or envious that Uncas, the chief sachem of the Mohegans, had gained the favor of the English more than themselves, they constantly sought occasions of disagreement with the Mohegans. This was in contravention of an agreement made between the English and the Narragansets, in the year 1637, when they had helped to destroy the Pequods, and also the triple league between the English, Mohegans, and Narragansets, entered into at Hartford in 1638. The Narragansets seemed to owe a special spite against Uncas and the Mohegans, from the time of the distribution of the Pequods after the termination of the war. They had probably expected the whole management of that affair for themselves. They therefore found occasions of quarrel with Uncas, and were hardly kept from making open war with him, when they saw all other attempts to destroy him by treachery, poison, and sorcery had failed. The Mohegans, though a less numerous and powerful people than the Narragansets, were yet more warlike in character and more politic in their intercourse with the whites.

The disposition of Miantonimoh was haughty and aspiring, and he seemed to infuse the same spirit into the minds of his people. He possessed a fine figure, was tall of stature, and was a master of cunning and subtlely. It was strongly suspected that, in the year 1642, he had contrived to draw all the Indians throughout the country into a general conspiracy against the English. Letters from Connecticut, received at Boston, had announced the existence of such a conspiracy, and even the details of it were given. The time appointed for the assault was said to be after[Pg 146] harvest—the manner, to be by several companies entering into the houses of the principal men, professedly for the purposes of trade, and then to kill them there; one company seizing their arms, and others being at hand to prosecute the massacre. It was urged on the part of Connecticut, that war should be begun with them, and that if Massachusetts would send one hundred and twenty men to Saybrook, at the mouth of the river, they would meet them with a proportionable number. Though there was a probability in the stories afloat, respecting the Narragansets, yet the general court of Massachusetts did not think the information to be a sufficient ground for commencing a war. The court, however, ordered that the Indians within their jurisdiction should be disarmed, and to this they willingly assented. The sachem of the Narragansets was, moreover, sent for to Boston, and, by his readiness to appear, confirmed the English in the opinion that nothing had as yet occurred which could be construed into a justifiable cause of war. The sachem's quarrel with the Mohegans would very naturally render them a subject of such a report, whether there was a foundation for it or not.

Miantonimoh very consistently urged before the court, that his accusers should be confronted to him, and their allegations sifted, so that the truth might be ascertained—that if they could not prove their charges, they might receive the punishment which was their due, and which would have been inflicted on himself if found guilty, that is, death—and that as the English must have believed the report, because they ordered the disarming of the Indians, so equity required that they who accused him, should be punished according to the offence charged upon his own person. He, moreover, engaged to prove that the report was raised by Uncas himself, or some of his people. On the part of English, the disarming of the Indians was excused on the ground that Englishmen's houses had been robbed in several instances by the Indians, which was a[Pg 147] consideration that somewhat satisfied the chief. The Connecticut people yielded, though with reluctance, to the decision of the Massachusetts court.

They spent two days in making a treaty of peace, the delay being occasioned by the difficulty of obtaining Miantonimoh's consent to a portion of the stipulations. It was, however, effected to the satisfaction of the English. Indian hostages were given for its performance, and, excepting a company stationed in the Mohegan country for the protection of Uncas, the whites laid aside warlike preparations.

In the year 1643, Miantonimoh invaded the Mohegans with nine hundred of his warriors; Uncas met him at the head of five hundred of his men, on a large plain; both prepared for action, and advanced within bow-shot. Before the conflict commenced, Uncas advanced singly, and thus addressed his antagonist: "You have a number of men with you, and so have I with me. It is a pity that such brave warriors should be killed in a private quarrel between us. Come like a man, as you profess to be, and let us fight it out. If you kill me, my men shall be yours; but if I kill you, your men shall be mine." Miantonimoh replied: "My men came to fight, and they shall fight." Uncas had before told his men, that if his enemy should refuse to fight with him personally, he would fall down, and then they were to discharge their missiles on the Narragansets, and fall upon them as fast as they could. This was accordingly done. Uncas instantly fell upon the ground, and his men poured a shower of arrows upon Miantonimoh's army, and with a horrible yell advanced rapidly upon them, and put them to flight. Uncas and his men pressed on, driving them down ledges of rock, and scattering them in every direction. Miantonimoh was overtaken and seized by Uncas, who, by a shout, called back his furious warriors. About thirty Narragansets were slain, among whom were several noted chiefs. Finding himself in the hands of his implacable enemy, Miantonimoh remained silent, nor could Uncas, by any art, force him to break his sullen mood.[Pg 148] "Had you taken me," said the conqueror, "I should have asked you for my life." No reply was made by the indignant chief, and he submitted without a murmur to his humiliating condition. He was afterwards conducted to Hartford, by his conqueror, and delivered to the English, by whom he was held in duress until his fate should be determined by the commissioners of the colonies. After an examination of his case, the commissioners resolved, "that as it was evident that Uncas could not be safe while Miantonimoh lived, but either by secret treachery or open force his life would be constantly in danger, he might justly put such a false and blood-thirsty enemy to death; but this was to be done out of the English jurisdiction, and without cruelty or torture." Miantonimoh was delivered to Uncas, and by a number of his trusty men was marched to the spot where he was captured, attended by two Englishmen to see that no torture was inflicted, and the moment he arrived at the fatal place, one of Uncas' men came up behind, and with his hatchet split the skull of the unfortunate chief. The body was buried on the spot, and a heap of stones piled upon the grave. The place since that time has been known by the name of Sachem's plain, and is situated in the town of Norwich, in Connecticut.[20]

The Narragansets, as was to be expected, ever afterwards bore an implacable malice against Uncas and all the Mohegans, and also for their sakes secretly against the English, so far as they dared to discover it. But the death of Miantonimoh, and the preparation for the invasion of the Narraganset country by the English which had been made, put an end to hostilities for a period in the eastern part of Connecticut.

In continuing the Narraganset history, Ninigret now properly comes into view. As already mentioned, he was sachem of the Nianticks, a tribe of the Narragansets. In 1644, the Narragansets and Ninigret's men united against[Pg 149] the Mohegans, and for some time obliged Uncas to confine himself and men to his fort. The Indians, however, afraid of the English, abandoned the siege, and came in to Boston to sue for peace. This was granted; but a short time after, it became necessary to again terrify them. With twenty men, Captain Atherton marched to the wigwam of Ninigret, entering which, he seized the chief, and threatened his life. This step had the desired effect. The Indians begged for life, and promised submission.

Captain Atherton in the Wigwam of Ninigret.

Captain Atherton in the Wigwam of Ninigret.

Some time after this occurrence, Ninigret again grew troublesome, and again had to be quieted by an armed force sent against him. In the panic with which he was affected, he submitted to the demands that were laid upon him. Ninigret passed the winter of 1652-53 among the Dutch of New York. This circumstance awakened the suspicions of the English, especially as hostile feelings existed at that time between the Dutch and English. The report from several sagamores was, that the Dutch governor had attempted to hire them to cut off the English. The[Pg 150] consequence was, a special meeting of the English commissioners of the several New England colonies, to consult in reference to this subject. Their object was to ascertain the truth of the rumor, that the Narragansets had leagued with the Dutch, to break up the English settlements. Several of the chiefs of the Narragansets were accordingly questioned by a letter, through an agent living at the Narraganset, in regard to this plot; but their answers were altogether exculpatory. As to any positive testimony that Ninigret was plotting against the English, there appears to be none.

In the year 1652, a war having commenced between England and Holland, it was apprehended that hostilities would take place between the colonies of the two nations in America. A threatening attitude was indeed held for some time by the Dutch of New Netherlands, and forces were raised by the four New England colonies; but no collision occurred. In the event of hostilities, it was believed that the sachem, Ninigret, would lead the Narragansets to the aid of the Dutch, and that he had held a conference with them at Manhattan, in the winter of 1652. Whether that was the case or not, he refused for some time after to treat with the English for a continuance of the peace. Under these threatening appearances, the commissioners of the colonies met, and resolved to raise two hundred and seventy infantry, and forty cavalry, for the purpose of chastising Ninigret's haughtiness, and bringing the Narragansets to terms. The forces were duly apportioned among the colonies. Massachusetts had been at first reluctant, but finally assented to the measure. The commissioners nominated Major Gibbons, Major Denison, or Captain Atherton, to the chief command; leaving it, in complaisance, to the general court of Massachusetts to appoint which one of the three they should please. But, rejecting these, who were men of known courage and enterprise, they appointed Major Simon Willard. The commissioners instructed him to proceed, with such troops as should be[Pg 151] found at the place of general rendezvous, by the 13th of October, directly to Ninigret's quarters, and demand of him the Pequods who had been put under him, and the tribute which was due. If Ninigret should not deliver them, and pay the tribute, he was required to take them by force. He was instructed to demand of the sachem a cessation from all further hostilities against the Long Island Indians. Receiving these and some other instructions, he proceeded into the Narraganset country. When he arrived at the place of rendezvous, he found that Ninigret had fled into a swamp about fifteen miles distant. The latter had left his country, corn, and wigwams, without defence, and they might have been laid waste without danger or loss. He, however, returned without ever advancing from his head-quarters, or doing the enemy the least damage. About a hundred Pequods took this opportunity to renounce the government of Ninigret, and come off with the English army, putting themselves under the control of the whites.

The commissioners in favor of the expedition, were dissatisfied with the conduct of Major Willard, and charged him with having neglected a fair opportunity of chastising the Indians, by the destruction of their dwellings, and their fields of corn. He, however, pleaded in excuse, that his instructions were equivocal, and the season for marching unfavorable. By many people in Connecticut and New Haven, it was believed that the commander was secretly instructed by the government of Massachusetts to avoid depredations on the property of the Indians, and thereby prevent a war, which the latter colony considered to be of doubtful policy. However this may be, it is certain that Major Willard received no censure from the Massachusetts court, and no one doubted his firmness as an officer.

After the return of the English troops from the Narraganset country, Ninigret assumed his former spirit of defiance, and continued the war against the Indians upon Long Island. Both the Indians and the English there were soon thrown into great distress. It became apparent that[Pg 152] these Indians could not hold out much longer, but that they must submit themselves and their country to the Narragansets, unless they should receive speedy aid. In consequence of this state of things, and as these Indians were in alliance with the colonies, measures were taken to aid them against Ninigret. An armed vessel was stationed off Montauk to watch his movements, and forces were held in readiness at Saybrook and New London, to move on the shortest notice, should the hostile chief again attempt to invade the island. Hostilities, however, continued some time, and the tribes in various directions exhibited a strange, changeable conduct. Uncas, in this exigency, was so pressed by the Narragansets, that Connecticut was obliged to send men to his fortress to assist in defending himself against them. The Narragansets, in several instances, threatened and plundered the inhabitants of Connecticut.

In 1657, some mischief was done at Farmington, in which the Norwootuck and Pocomotuck Indians were supposed to be accomplices. Even the Mohegans under Uncas also partook of the hostile spirit, and an assault was made by them upon the Podunk Indians at Windsor. At length the Long Island Indians turned against their friends on the island, and Major Mason was ordered with a force for the protection of the English in that quarter. At last the war, and the difficulties in regard to the Narragansets, having ceased for a period, the English were once more left to pursue the arts of peace, and consummate their labors for colonizing the country.[21]

[Pg 153]


Territory of the Pequods—Their Character—Sassacus—His hatred of the English—Cruelties practised towards them—War declared by Connecticut—Expedition of Captain Mason—Surprise and destruction of the fort—Further prosecution of the war—Happy consequences resulting from it.

The Pequods are supposed to have emigrated from the interior parts of the country, towards the sea-shore of Connecticut. They inhabited more or less of the territory now constituting that state, as well as a part of Rhode Island, and New York as far west as the Hudson river. At what time this emigration took place, is not known. Being a fierce, cruel, and warlike people, they made all the other tribes stand in awe of them, though they were fewer in number than their neighbors, the Narragansets. The principal seat of the Pequod sagamores was near the mouth of the Pequod river, now the Thames, where New London is built. There was said to be one principal sagamore, or sachem, over the rest. He who sustained this distinction, at the time of the English settlements in Connecticut, was Sassacus. His name alone was a terror to all the neighboring tribes of Indians. At the height of his power, he had twenty sachems under him.

Sassacus ever regarded the English with feelings of jealousy and hatred. As he considered them, intruders on his domains, he was determined to expel them, if possible. Fired with rage, he breathed nothing but war and revenge. The utmost effort and art were employed by him to produce a combination of Indian power against them. The Narragansets, as related in another place, barely escaped the snare. But though unable to effect any extensive union, Sassacus was firm in himself, and inspired all the Indians under his influence with the resentment that burned in his own bosom.

Finding war with this powerful and exasperated chief unavoidable, the Connecticut people prepared for it with[Pg 154] such means and resources as they could command. A court was summoned to meet at Hartford on the 1st day of May, 1637, at which it was resolved, that an offensive war should be immediately commenced against the Pequods. Ninety men were ordered to be raised from the three towns on Connecticut river, and Captain John Mason was appointed to command an expedition into the heart of the Pequod country. At the same time, the report of the slaughter and horrid cruelties, committed by this savage tribe against the people of Connecticut, roused the other colonies to exertions against the common enemy. Massachusetts resolved to send two hundred men, and Plymouth forty, to assist the sister-colony in prosecuting the war. Captains Stoughton, Trask, and Patrick, were appointed their commanders.

The troops embarked at Hartford on the 10th of May, and sailed down the river to Saybrook. They consisted of ninety Englishmen, and about seventy Mohegans and river Indians. While at Saybrook, forty of the Indians under Mason, being out at some distance from the place, fell in with about forty of the enemy, killed seven and captured one, who was brought to the fort, and executed by the English. Here the little army was joined by Captain Underhill with nineteen men, who had some months before been sent by the governor of Massachusetts to strengthen the garrison at Saybrook. This accession to his forces permitted Mason to send back twenty of his original number for the protection of the infant settlements on the river, which were peculiarly exposed at this crisis. The whole force, including the Indians, was embodied and directed by Mason. After remaining several days at Saybrook to complete his arrangements, he sailed, with his Connecticut forces, for Narraganset bay, where he arrived on the 19th of May. At this place, two hundred of Miantonimoh's warriors were engaged to accompany the English forces on the expedition. Information was now received from Captain Patrick, that he had arrived at Providence with[Pg 155] forty Massachusetts' men, under orders to join the troops of Connecticut. For various reasons, but chiefly from an apprehension that the Pequods might gain intelligence of the expedition, Mason commenced his march, without waiting for Patrick's company, and soon reached Nehantick, the seat of the Narraganset sachems. Here he was joined by an additional company of Indians—the whole army, including the English, amounting to more than five hundred.

Here they staid over night, and learning that the Pequods held two forts, one at Mystic river and the other about three miles west of that, they resolved, contrary to their original plan of attacking both together, to make a united attack on the Mystic fort, and accordingly commenced their march. After a march of twelve miles, through forests and over hills and morasses, Mason reached the Pawcatuck. The day was very hot, and the men, through the great heat and a scarcity of provisions, began to faint. Here he halted for some time, and refreshed the troops. In the meanwhile, the Indians, who had previously boasted how they would fight, when they learned that the forts were to be actually attacked, and the dreaded Sassacus to be met, were overcome by their fears, and many of them returned home to Narraganset. But the intrepid Mason, resolving to advance, despatched a faithful Indian to reconnoitre the fort, who soon returned with information that the Pequods were unapprised of their danger, and appeared to be resting in entire security. The march was immediately rëcommenced towards Mystic river, and on the night of the 26th, the whole body encamped about three miles from the fort.

"The important crisis was now come when the very existence of Connecticut, under Providence, was to be determined by the sword in a single action, by the good conduct of less than eighty men." They proved themselves, as the event shows, worthy of the occasion, and properly conscious of the interest at stake. To God they[Pg 156] looked for aid and courage, at an hour when the decision was to be made, whether all that they held dear in life should be secured, or wrenched from them for ever.

Captain Mason and his Party attacking the Pequod Fort in the Swamp.

Captain Mason and his Party attacking the Pequod Fort in the Swamp.

Two hours before day, the troops were in motion for the assault. At this juncture, Mason's Indians entirely lost their resolution, and began to fall back. The captain bid them not to fly, but to surround the fort at any distance they pleased, and there remain witnesses of the courage of the English. Without delay, the fort was approached on two opposite sides, the Pequods having just before been aroused from sleep by the cry of one of their number, "Owanux, Owanux!"—Englishmen, Englishmen! He had, at that instant, been awakened by the barking of a dog. While the Pequods were rallying, Mason's troops advanced, and poured in a fire through the openings of the palisades, and wheeling off to a side barricaded only with brush, rushed into the fort, sword in hand. Notwithstanding the suddenness of the attack, and their great confusion, the enemy made a desperate resistance. Concealing themselves[Pg 157] in and behind their wigwams, they maintained their ground stoutly against the English, who, advancing in different directions, cut down every Indian they met. But the victory was not certain—it had not been achieved. Mason felt it to be an awful moment. Happily it occurred to him to burn the Indian wigwams. The shout was immediately uttered, "We must burn them!" It was done. In a few moments the mats, with which their dwellings were covered, were in a blaze, and the flames spread in every direction. As the fire increased, the English retired without the fort, and environed it on every side. The Indians now recovering courage, formed another circle exterior to that of the English.

The amazed Pequods, driven from their covert by fire, climbed the palisades, and presenting themselves in full view, more than one hundred were shot down. Others, sallying forth from their burning cells, were shot, or cut in pieces with the sword. In the mean time, many perished in the flames within the fort. The battle, in this locality, continued about an hour, and the scene of terror and blood is hardly to be described. Seventy wigwams were consumed, and between five and six hundred of the enemy, of all descriptions, strewed the ground, or were involved in the burning pile. This victory was achieved with the loss only of two men killed and twenty wounded.

In the course of the attack, in the interior of the fort, Captain Mason's life was in immediate danger. As he was entering a wigwam to procure a firebrand, a Pequod, perceiving him, drew his arrow to the head, with a view to pierce the captain's body. At this critical moment, a resolute sergeant entering in, rescued his commander from imminent peril by cutting the bow-string with his cutlass.

Although the result of the engagement was the complete overthrow of the Pequod camp, yet the situation of the Connecticut army was extremely dangerous and distressing. Two of their troops were killed, and at least one-fourth wounded; the remainder were faint with fatigue and want[Pg 158] of food; they were in the midst of an enemy's country, many miles from their vessels, and their ammunition was nearly expended. The principal fortress of their enemy was but three miles distant, where there was a fresh army, which they knew would be filled with rage, on learning the fate of their comrades. In this perilous condition, while they were consulting on the course to be pursued, their vessels, as if guided by the visible hand of Providence, appeared in sight, steering with a fair wind into the harbor. The little band, however, were not permitted to reach Pequod harbor without additional fighting. For no sooner had the vessels been discovered, than three hundred Indians came from the other fort, and were disposed to attack Captain Mason's party. He, however, so disposed of his few available men, assisted by the Indians with him, who carried the wounded English, that the Pequods were prevented from coming so near as to do any mischief. But the balls of the English muskets took effect on several of their number; and though, when the enemy came in sight of the demolished fort, they raved, and tore their hair from their heads, and rushed forward with the utmost fury to demolish the English, they were taught to repent their rashness. Finding all attempts in vain, to break in upon the little army, they left the victors to pursue the remainder of their way to Pequod harbor unmolested. They entered it with their colors flying, and were received on board the vessels with every demonstration of joy and gratitude.

The troops employed on this expedition, reached their homes in about three weeks from the time they embarked at Hartford. They were received with the greatest exultation. Benisons were poured forth on them from all lips. But to God, especially, as the helper of his people in their fearful trial, did the anthem of praise ascend from the domestic altar and the solemn assembly.

The Pequods, on the departure of Captain Mason, burned their wigwams, destroyed their principal fort, and were with difficulty restrained from putting their own chief, Sassacus,[Pg 159] to death, as they looked upon him as the author of their calamity. They scattered themselves throughout the country, Sassacus, Mononotto, and seventy or eighty of their chief counsellors and warriors, taking their route over Hudson river. In the mean time, Massachusetts, hearing of the success of Mason, despatched a body of one hundred and twenty men under Captain Stoughton, to follow up the victory. Arriving in the enemy's country, the Massachusetts army, finding a body of that tribe in a swamp, made an assault upon them, with the aid of the Narragansets. Some twenty-eight were killed and a larger number taken prisoners.

The court at Connecticut ordered that forty men should be raised forthwith, for the further prosecution of the war, under the same commander. These troops formed a junction with the party under command of Stoughton at Pequod, and the conclusion was immediately to march in pursuit of Sassacus. They proceeded on their way as far as Quinnipiac (New Haven), where, after staying several days, they received intelligence that the enemy was at a considerable distance, in a great swamp to the westward. Here the Indians were met, and an engagement took place, under circumstances of great difficulty to the English, many of whom were nearly mired, but it was nevertheless attended with success. The fighting was of a most desperate character, the assailants finding it nearly impossible to master or dislodge the foe. Under the cover of a fog, after having been watched through the night, Sassacus and sixty or seventy of his bravest warriors broke through the English ranks, and escaped. About twenty Indians were killed, and one hundred and eighty were taken prisoners. The Pequods, who remained in the territory, amounting to some two hundred, besides women and children, were at length divided among the Narragansets and Mohegans, and the nation became extinct.

The character of this war, from the boldness and vigor with which it had been prosecuted, seemed to belong to the[Pg 160] age of romance. It is replete with thrilling incident and daring adventure. Yet the sober, religious spirit and convictions of duty, which accompanied the pilgrims to battle, turn its chivalrous aspect into the features of stern reality and unavoidable necessity. It involved the fate of an infant republic and the interests of posterity. The conquest of the Pequods, while it was so fatal to one party, was productive of the most happy consequences to the other. It struck the Indians throughout New England with such a salutary terror, that they were contented to remain at peace nearly forty years.

Tailpiece—Camanche Wigwam

[Pg 161]



Causes of Philip's War—Character of Philip—General spirit of hostility among the Indians—Outbreak at Swansey—Expedition under General Savage—Expedition under Captain Church—Perilous situation of this latter party—Timely arrival of Captain Hutchinson—Second expedition of Captain Church—Critical situation of Philip—Effects his escape—Annoys the back settlements of Massachusetts—Treachery of the Nipmucks—Attack on Brookfield—Bloody affair at Muddy Brook—Attack on Springfield—Attack on Hatfield—Outrages at Northampton—Large force raised by Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Connecticut, against the Narragansets—Philip's fortress at Kingston, Rhode Island—Destruction of it—Lancaster destroyed—Other towns burned—Fatal affair at Pawtuxet river, Rhode Island—Stratagem of Cape Cod Indians—Attacks on Rehoboth, Chelmsford, Sudbury, &c.—Expedition of Connecticut troops—Conanchet captured—Long Meadow attacked—Hadley—Fortunes of Philip on the wane—Successful expedition against the Indians at Connecticut river falls—Attack on Hatfield—On Hadley—Remarkable interposition of a stranger at Hadley, supposed to be Goffe—Decline of Philip's power—Pursued by Captain Church—Death of Philip—Disastrous effects of the war—Philip's warriors—Annawon—Reflections.

To communities and nations, crises arrive, in which, through danger and sufferings, they are either overcome and[Pg 162] extirpated, or spring forward to an improved condition after the first hurtful effect of the trial is passed away. The war with Philip constituted such a crisis to the New England colonies. Their danger was imminent—their sufferings were fearful, and the immediate consequences were lamentation, and weakness, and indebtedness. But their recuperative energies soon rëappeared, and a wide door thus became open to extended settlement and population.

The causes of the war lay partly in the condition of the colonies, and partly in the character of Philip. The English settlements were extending far into the wilderness, the home of the Indian, and were rapidly increasing in strength. The natives viewed them as intruders, and considered the probability that, at no distant day, they would be dispossessed of the heritage of their fathers. They were jealous of the designs of the English, and impatient under the encroachments already made. They viewed themselves as the proper lords of the forest, and they now saw that their hunting grounds were abridged, and the wild animals on which they depended for subsistence, were disappearing, as the white man felled the trees, and cultivated the soil, and reared his dwellings.

In view of this progress of the whites, nothing seemed to remain to the native savage but to be forced from his loved haunts, and to lose his cherished possessions, or to arouse, and by a desperate effort of strength and valor to regain all that he once owned.

The individual among the Indians whose foresight most clearly discerned the state of things, and whose spirit was equal to the emergency of attempting to resist it, was Pometacom. He was styled Philip by the English, a nickname given him on account of his ambitious and haughty temper, and by this name he is chiefly known in history. He was the sachem of the Wampanoags, residing at Mount Hope, a younger son of the famous Massasoit, the friend of the whites.

Philip had not spared any pains for a long time to effect[Pg 163] a conspiracy, and to unite the Indians in a general war against the colonists; but it happened that before his plan was matured, his intentions, and those of the Indians generally, were revealed to the English. The Indian who betrayed him was Sausaman, one of Eliot's converts. For this he was murdered by Philip's men; three of whom were seized, tried, and executed. This was the signal for blood. The first attack of the Indians was upon Swansey, several of whose inhabitants were killed.

Flight of Philip from Mount Hope.

Flight of Philip from Mount Hope.

Philip soon after suddenly left his place of residence and his territory to the English. The occasion of his precipitate retreat, was the following: Additional assistance being needed, the authorities of Boston sent out Major General Savage from that place, with sixty horse and as many foot. They scoured the country on the march to Mount Hope, where Philip and his wife were supposed to be at that time. They came into his neighborhood unawares, so that he was forced to rise from dinner, and he and all with him fled farther up into the country. They pursued him as far as they[Pg 164] could go for swamps; and killed fifteen or sixteen in that expedition.

Captain Church and his men hemmed in by Indians.

Captain Church and his men hemmed in by Indians.

At the solicitation of Benjamin Church, a company of thirty-six men were put under him and Captain Fuller, who on the 8th of July marched down into Pocasset Neck. This force, small as it was, afterwards divided—Church taking nineteen men, and Fuller the remaining seventeen. The party under Church proceeded into a point of land called Punkateeset, now the southerly extremity of Tiverton, where they were attacked by a body of three hundred Indians. After a few moments' fight, the English retreated to the sea-shore, and thus saved themselves from destruction; for Church perceived that it was the intention of the Indians to surround them. They could expect little more than to perish, but they knew they were in a situation to sell their lives at the dearest rate. Thus hemmed in, Church had a double duty to perform—that of preserving the spirit of his followers, several of whom viewed their situation as desperate, and erecting piles of stone to defend them.

[Pg 165]

As boats had been appointed to attend upon the English in this expedition, the heroic party looked for relief from this quarter; but though the boats appeared, they were kept off by the fire of the Indians, and Church, in a moment of vexation, bid them be gone. The Indians, now encouraged, fired thicker and faster than before. The situation of the English was now most forlorn, although as yet, providentially, not one of them had been wounded. Night was coming on, their ammunition nearly spent, and the Indians had possessed themselves of a stone house that overlooked them; but, just in season to save them, a sloop was discovered bearing down towards the shore. It was commanded by a resolute man, Captain Golding, who effected the embarkation of the company, taking only two at a time in a canoe. During all this time, the Indians plied their fire-arms; and Church, who was the last to embark, narrowly escaped the balls of the enemy, one grazing the hair of his head, and another lodging in a stake, which happened to stand just before the centre of his breast. The band under Captain Fuller met with a similar fortune, but escaped by getting possession of an old house, close upon the water's edge, and were early taken off by boats. He had two of his party wounded.

Church soon after joined a body of English forces, and again penetrated Pocasset, and renewed his skirmishes with the enemy. The main body of the English, not long after, arrived at the place; on which, Philip retired into the recesses of a large swamp. Here his situation, for a time, was exceedingly critical; but at length he contrived to elude his besiegers; and, effecting his escape, fled to the Nipmucks, by whom he was readily received.

Soon after the war began, an effort had been made by the governor of Massachusetts to dissuade the Nipmucks from espousing the cause of Philip. But at the time, not agreeing among themselves, they would only consent to meet the English commissioners at a place three miles from Brookfield on a specified day. The English authorities[Pg 166] deputed Captains Hutchinson and Wheeler to proceed to the appointed place. They took with them twenty mounted men, and three Christian Indians as guides and interpreters. On reaching the place agreed upon, no Indians were to be seen; upon this, the party proceeded still further; when, on reaching a narrow defile, they were suddenly attacked. Eight men were killed outright, and three mortally wounded; among the latter, was Captain Hutchinson. With the above loss, a retreat was effected; and, under the guidance of the three Christian Indians, the remnant made their way to Brookfield.

Attack on Brookfield.

Attack on Brookfield.

They were, however, immediately followed by the Indian foe. Luckily, there was barely time to alarm the inhabitants, who, to the number of seventy or eighty, flocked into a garrison-house. It was slightly fortified about the exterior side, by a few logs hastily thrown up, and in the interior by a few feather beds suspended to deaden the force of the bullets. The house was soon surrounded by the enemy, and shot poured upon it in all directions. But the fire of[Pg 167] the besieged kept the Indians from a very near approach. By persevering exertions, the English were enabled to maintain themselves, until a force under Major Willard came to their relief. He was in the vicinity of Lancaster with forty-eight dragoons, when he learned the critical condition of Brookfield. With a forced march of thirty miles, he reached the place the following night.

At the very time Major Willard arrived at Brookfield, the Indians were contriving some machinery to set the garrison on fire. They first endeavored to effect their purpose by fire-arrows, and rags dipped in brimstone tied to long poles spliced together. But this method was without effect, while it exposed them to the deadly fire of those within the building. They next filled a cart with hemp, flax, and other combustible materials; and this, after they set it on fire, they thrust backward with their long poles. But no sooner had the flame began to take effect, than it was extinguished by an unexpected shower of rain.

Major Willard soon left the region of Brookfield, and marched the principal part of his forces to Hadley, for the protection of the settlements in that quarter. When he had completed his business, he returned to Boston, leaving Lathrop and Beers at Hadley. A considerable number of christianized Indians, belonging to the neighborhood of Hadley, occupied a small fort about a mile above Hatfield. On the occurrence of the difficulties in that region, these, as all other Indians, were watched and suspected of conniving with Philip. To put their fidelity to a test, Captains Lathrop and Beers, with a force of one hundred and eighty men, ordered these Indians to surrender their arms. They hesitated to do so then, but promised a speedy compliance. Yet, on the following night, August 25th, they left their fort, and fled up the river towards Deerfield to join Philip. The English captains commenced a pursuit early the next morning, and came up with them at a swamp, opposite to the present town of Sunderland, where a warm contest ensued. The Indians fought bravely, but were finally routed, with a[Pg 168] loss of twenty-six of their number. The whites lost ten men. The Indians, who escaped, joined Philip's forces, and Lathrop and Beers returned to their station in Hadley.

Battle of Muddy Brook.

Battle of Muddy Brook.

Near the middle of September, Captain Lathrop was sent from Hadley, with eighty-eight men, to bring away some corn, grain, and other valuable articles from Deerfield. It was at that very time that the company under Captain Mosely, then quartered at Deerfield, intended to pursue the enemy. But upon the 10th of the month, "that most fatal day, the saddest that ever befel New England," Lathrop's company was attacked by the Indians, who had selected a place very advantageous to their purpose, knowing that the English with their teams would pass the road at the spot. The place was at the village now called Muddy Brook, in the southerly part of Deerfield, where the road crossed a small stream (as it now does), bordered by a narrow morass. Here the Indians, in great force, had planted themselves in ambuscade; and no sooner had Lathrop arrived at the spot, than the Indians poured a heavy and[Pg 169] destructive fire upon the columns, and then rushed furiously to close engagement. The English ranks were broken, and the scattered troops were every where attacked. Those who survived, after the first onset, met the foe individually, and endeavored to sell their lives as dearly as possible. Seeking the covert of a tree, each one selected an object of attack, and the awful conflict now became a trial of skill in sharp shooting, on the issues of which life or death was suspended. But the overwhelming superiority of the Indians, as to numbers, left no room for hope on the part of the English. They were cut down every instant from behind their retreats, until nearly the whole number were destroyed. The dead, the dying, the wounded, strewed the ground in every direction. Out of nearly one hundred, including the teamsters, only seven or eight escaped from the bloody spot. The wounded were indiscriminately massacred. This company consisted of choice young men, "the very flower of Essex county, none of whom were ashamed to speak with the enemy in the gate." Eighteen of the men belonged to Deerfield.

Captain Mosely, being only four or five miles distant, heard the sound of musketry, and reasonably concluded what was the cause of the report. By a rapid march for the relief of Lathrop, he arrived at the close of the struggle, when he found the Indians stripping and mangling the dead. At once he rushed on in compact order, and broke through the enemy, charging back and forth, and cutting down all within range of his shot. After several hours of gallant fighting, he compelled the Indians to flee into the more distant parts of the forest. His loss amounted to two killed and eleven wounded.

Until this period, the Indians near Springfield remained friendly, and refused the appeals of Philip, to cöoperate with him against the white population. But now that he held the northern towns, they were closely watched by the English, who supposed that the Indians might take sides with him, as his cause seemed likely to prevail. The suspicions[Pg 170] entertained concerning them were confirmed. On the night of the 4th of October, they admitted about three hundred of Philip's men into their fort, which was situated at a place called Longhill, about a mile below the village of Springfield, and a plan was concerted for the destruction of the place. The plot, however, was revealed by an Indian at Windsor, and the inhabitants of Springfield had time barely to escape into their garrisons. Here they resisted the attacks of the Indians until they received relief from abroad. The unfortified houses, thirty-two in number, together with twenty-five barns, were burned by the savages. The people were reduced to great distress, and had very inadequate means of support through the ensuing winter.

The confidence of Philip and his Indians was now greatly increased by their successes. The next blow which they aimed, was at the head-quarters of the whites, hoping to destroy Hatfield, Hadley, and Northampton, as they had Springfield. But by the providence of God, and the good conduct of the whites, they were effectually foiled. At this time, Captain Appleton, with one company, lay at Hadley, and Captains Mosely and Poole, with two companies, at Hatfield, and Major Treat was just returned to Northampton for the security of that settlement. Against such commanders, it was in vain for the untutored Indian to contend in regular battle. Philip's men, however, made a bold attempt, and seven or eight hundred strong fell upon Hatfield, on the 19th of October, attacking it on all sides at once. They had previously cut off several parties, which were scouring the woods in the vicinity. While Poole bravely defended one extremity, Mosely, with no less vigor, protected the centre, and Appleton, coming on with his troops, maintained the other extremity. After a severe struggle, the Indians were repulsed at every point.

After leaving the western frontier of Massachusetts, Philip was known next to be in the country of his allies, the Narragansets. They had not heartily engaged in the[Pg 171] war; but their inclination to do so was not doubted, and it was the design of Philip to incite them to activity. An army of fifteen hundred English was therefore raised by the three colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Connecticut, for the purpose of breaking down the power of Philip among the Narragansets. It was believed that the next spring, that nation would come with all their power upon the whites. Conanchet, their sachem, in violation of the treaty, had not only received Philip's warriors, but aided their operations against the English. These were the grounds of the great expedition against the Narragansets, in the winter of 1675.

Philip had strongly fortified himself in South Kingston, Rhode Island, on an elevated portion of an immense swamp. Here his men had erected about five hundred wigwams, of a superior construction, in which was deposited an abundant store of provisions. Baskets and tubs of corn (hollow trees cut off about the length of a barrel), were piled one upon another, about the inside of the dwellings, which rendered them bullet-proof. Here about three thousand persons, as is supposed, had taken up their residence for the winter, among whom were Philip's best warriors.



The forces destined to the attack of this great rendezvous of Philip and his men, were under command of Governor Winslow, of Plymouth. By reasons of a great body of snow, and the prevalence of intense cold, much time was consumed in reaching the fort. On the 19th of December, they arrived before it; and, by reason of a want of provisions, found an immediate attack indispensable. No Englishman, however, was acquainted with its situation, and, but for an Indian, who betrayed his countrymen, there is little probability that the assailants could have effected any thing against it. The hour of their arrival was one o'clock on that short day of the year. There was but one point where the place could be assailed with the least probability of success, and this was fortified by a kind of blockhouse,[Pg 172]
[Pg 173]
directly in front of the entrance, and had also flankers to cover a cross-fire. The place was protected by high palisades, and an immense hedge of fallen trees surrounding it on all sides. Between the fort and the main land was a body of water, which could be crossed only on a large tree lying over it. Such was the formidable aspect of the place—such the difficulty of gaining access to the interior of it.

On coming to the spot, the English soldiers, attempting to pass upon the tree in single file, the only possible mode, were instantly swept off by the fire of the enemy. Still, others, led by their captains, supplied the places of the slain. These also met the same fearful fire, with the same fatal effect. The attempts were repeated, until six captains and a large number of men had fallen. And now was a partial, but momentary, recoil from the face of death.

At length, however, Captain Mosely got within the fort, with a small band of men. Then commenced a terrible struggle, at fearful odds. While these were contending hand to hand with the Indians, the cry was heard, "They run! they run!" and immediately a considerable body of their fellow-soldiers rushed in. The slaughter of the foe became immense, as the assailants were insufficient in strength to drive them from the main breast-work. Captain Church, who was acting as aid to Winslow, at the head of a volunteer party, about this time dashed through the fort, and reached the swamp in the rear, where he poured a destructive fire on the rear of a party of the enemy. Thus attacked in different directions, the warriors were at length compelled to relinquish their ground, and flee into the wilderness.

The Indian cabins, (contrary to the advice of some of the officers, who thought it best that the wearied and wounded soldiers should rest there for a time,) "were now set on fire; in a few moments every thing in the interior of the fort was involved in a blaze; and a scene of horror was now exhibited. Several hundred of the Indians strewed the ground on all sides: about three hundred miserable women[Pg 174] and children with lamentable shrieks were running in every direction to escape the flames, in which many of the wounded, as well as the helpless old men, were seen broiling and roasting, and adding to the terrors of the scene by their agonizing yells. The most callous heart must have been melted to pity at so awful a spectacle. By information afterwards obtained from a Narraganset chief, it was ascertained that they lost about seven hundred warriors at the fort, and three hundred who died of their wounds. After the destruction of the place, Winslow, about sunset, commenced his march for Pettyquamscott, in a snow storm, carrying most of his dead and wounded, where he arrived a little after midnight. Several wounded, probably not mortally, were overcome with cold, and died on their march; and the next day thirty-four were buried in one grave. Many were severely frozen, and about four hundred so disabled that they were unfit for duty. The whole number killed and wounded, was about two hundred." The sufferings of the English, after the fight, were well pronounced to be almost without a parallel in history.

The spirit of Philip animated the Indians even where he was not present, for he was now by some supposed to be beyond the frontier. On the 19th of February, they surprised Lancaster with complete success, falling upon it with a force of several hundred warriors. It contained at that time fifty families, of whom forty-two persons were killed and captured. Most of the buildings were set on fire. Among the captives were Mrs. Rowlandson and her children, the family of the minister of that place, who were afterwards happily redeemed. The town was saved from entire ruin by the arrival of Captain Wadsworth with forty men from Marlborough.

Not far from this time a fatal affair occurred at Pawtuxet river, in Rhode Island. Captain Pierce, of Scituate, with fifty men, and twenty Cape Cod Indians, having passed the river, unexpectedly met with a large body of Indians. Perceiving that their numbers rendered an attack upon[Pg 175] them hopeless, he fell back, and took a position so as to be sheltered by the bank. In this situation, the company was not long secure. Part of the Indians crossed the river, and attacked them from the opposite bank, while the remainder encircled them on the side of the river, where they had sought protection, and poured in upon them a most destructive fire. Hemmed in so effectually, there was no possibility of escape, and nothing was left them but to sell their lives as dearly as possible. This was accordingly done, and before the unfortunate men were nearly all cut off, more than a hundred of the enemy are said to have fallen by the desperate valor of the English.

The Christian Cape Cod Indians showed their faithfulness and courage in this melancholy affair, as also their dexterity and foresight. Four of them effected their escape, and one of these aided the escape of the only Englishman that survived the encounter. One of them, whose name was Amos, after Captain Pierce was disabled by a wound, would not leave him, so long as there was a prospect of rendering him service, but loaded and fired his piece several times. At length, to save himself, he adroitly adopted the plan of painting his face black, as he perceived the enemy had done to their faces. In this disguise he ran among them, and pretended to join them in the fight; but watching his opportunity, he soon escaped into the woods. Of another it is reported, that being pursued by one of the enemy, he sought the shelter of a large rock. While in that situation, he perceived that his foe lay ready with his gun on the opposite side, to fire upon him as soon as he stirred. A stratagem only saved his life. Raising carefully his hat upon a pole, he seemed to the person lying in wait, to have exposed himself to a shot. A ball was instantly sent through the hat, but one was returned in earnest against the head of the enemy. Thus the Christian Indian, through his address, found the means of escape from his singular peril. A similar subtle device was used by another of these Indians, who was pursued as he attempted to cross[Pg 176] the river. Hiding himself behind a mass of earth turned up with the roots of a tree, he was watched by the enemy, in the expectation that he would soon be obliged to change his position. But, instead of doing this, the Cape Cod Indian, perforating his breastwork, made a convenient loophole, and shot his enemy before he had time to notice the artifice. The fourth Cape Cod Indian who escaped, effected his object by affecting to be in pursuit of an Englishman with his upraised hatchet. This ingenious feint, of course, was the means of saving the white man at the same time.

Indian Stratagem.

Indian Stratagem.

The work of destruction continued among the towns of New England at this period. To a greater or less extent Rehoboth and Providence suffered—also, Plymouth, Chelmsford, and Andover—either men were killed, or dwelling-houses and barns were burned. But the most signal disaster, at this time, fell upon the English in the vicinity of Sudbury. On the morning of the 20th of April, the largest body of Indians which had at any time appeared, attacked the place, and, before a force could be brought against them,[Pg 177] set fire to several buildings, which were consumed. The inhabitants rallied, and bravely defended their homes; and, being soon joined by some soldiers from Watertown, they forced the Indians to retreat without effecting further mischief against the town that day. On hearing the news of the attack on Sudbury, some of the people of Concord flew for its protection. As they approached a garrison-house, a few Indians were discovered, and a pursuit was given them. The flight of the latter proved to be only a decoy, and the Concord people, eleven in number, found themselves ambushed on every side. Fighting with the utmost desperation, they were all cut off except one. The Indians, who remained in the adjoining woods for further depredations, found another opportunity to glut their vengeance against the whites. Captain Wadsworth, hearing of the transactions at Sudbury, marched with several men, joined by Captain Brocklebank and ten others, towards the place. At a mile and a half from the town, five hundred Indians lay in ambush behind the hills. When Wadsworth[Pg 178] arrived at the spot, the Indians sent out a few of their party, who crossed the track of the English, and, being discovered by the latter, affected to fly through fear. Wadsworth, with great want of caution, immediately commenced a pursuit, and was consequently drawn into the ambush. The Indians began the attack with great boldness. For some time, the English maintained good order, and retreated with small loss to an adjacent hill. After fighting four hours, and losing many men, the Indians became doubly enraged, and resolved to try the effect of another stratagem. In this they completely succeeded. They immediately set the woods on fire to the windward of the English, which, owing to the wind, and the dryness of grass and other combustibles, spread with great and fatal rapidity. The English were driven, by the fury of the flames, from their favorable position, and were thus exposed to the tomahawks of the Indians. Nearly all the English fell—some accounts say that they sold their lives, to the last man.

Fight near Sudbury.

Fight near Sudbury.

Several towns in the colony of Plymouth, as Scituate, Bridgewater, Middleborough, and Plymouth, were in turn attacked and injured, though not many of their inhabitants were destroyed. They probably betook themselves to the fortified houses, which now became common in the exposed villages.

Connecticut, not being exposed to the incursions of the natives, sent out several volunteer companies in aid of her sister colonies, in addition to the troops required as her quota in the present war. These volunteer forces were raised principally from New London, Norwich, and Stonington, joined by a body of friendly Indians. On the 27th of March, a body of these troops, under Captains Dennison and Avery, penetrated the country of the hostile Narragansets. In the course of their excursion, they struck the trail of a large body of Indians, and commenced pursuit. The latter, upon the approach of the English, scattered in all directions. It proved to be a force commanded by Conanchet. He took a route by himself and, being swift[Pg 179] of foot, hoped to outstrip his pursuers. In crossing a river, however, he accidentally plunged under water, and wet his gun. On this occurrence, he was soon overtaken by a fast-running Pequod, to whom he surrendered himself at once. A young Englishman, coming up, began to put various questions to the chief, who, little liking to be catechised in that manner, replied to him, with a look of contempt: "You much child—no understand matters of war; let your captain come: him I will answer." Conanchet was conveyed to Stonington, and, after a sort of trial, was condemned to be shot by the Mohegan and Pequod sachems. The alternative of life was, however, presented to him, if he would make peace with the English. The chieftain indignantly refused it, and gave utterance to the feelings of his untamed spirit, when his sentence was pronounced, in the sentiment, that "he liked it well that he should die before his heart was soft, or he had said any thing unworthy of himself." Conanchet was the son of the famous Miantonimoh, who was put to death by Uncas, as related in another portion of this work.[22]

When success no longer attended Philip in Massachusetts, those of his allies whom he had seduced into this war began to accuse him as the author of all their calamities. Many of the tribes, therefore, scattered themselves in different directions. The Deerfield Indians were among the first who abandoned his cause, and many of the Nipmucks and Narragansets soon followed their example. Still, Philip, though he had not been much seen during the winter—and it is doubtful, even, where he had spent the most of it—had no intention of abating his efforts against the English. In the month of May, 1676, he was found at the head of a powerful force, in the northern part of Massachusetts, extending many miles on its frontier from east to west. Considerable numbers of his people were also still in and about Narraganset, ravaging and annoying the adjacent English settlements.

[Pg 180]

Large bodies of the Indians, about this time, anxious to secure the advantages of fishing in Connecticut river, took up positions at the falls, between the present towns of Gill and Montague. This was in the vicinity of the line of country occupied by Philip's forces. They felt the more secure here, as the English forces at Hadley and the adjacent towns were not at this time at all numerous. Two captive lads, who had escaped from the Indians, informed the English of their situation, and the little pains they had taken to guard themselves. The intelligence thus brought induced the people of Hatfield, Hadley, and Northampton, to raise a force, for the purpose of attacking the enemy at so favorable a point. About one hundred and sixty troops were raised, and placed under the command of Captain Turner. They marched silently in the dead of the night, and came upon the Indians a little before the dawn of day, whom they found almost in a dead sleep, and without any scouts abroad, or watching around their wigwams at home.

Indians attacked at Connecticut River Falls.

Indians attacked at Connecticut River Falls.

When the Indians were first awakened by the thunder of[Pg 181] their guns, they cried out, "Mohawks! Mohawks!" as if their own native enemies had been upon them; but the dawning of the light soon rectified their error, though it could not prevent their danger. The loss of the Indians was great: one hundred men were left dead on the ground, and one hundred and forty were seen to pass down the cataract, but one of whom escaped drowning.

The march of the English forces back was, however, attended with no small disaster. The Indians, learning the inconsiderable numbers that had attacked them, rallied in their turn, and hung upon the rear of the English. Their captain, just then enfeebled by sickness, was unable to arrange or conduct his forces as they should have been; and the consequence was a degree of confusion, and their separation into small parties. In this manner, they suffered the loss of thirty-eight men, though the Indians paid dearly for it by the loss of more than a hundred of their warriors on the way. Captain Turner perished in the expedition.

By the destruction at the falls, Philip's forces were seriously diminished; yet his spirit continued unsubdued and undaunted, and he was resolved to retort upon the English the injuries he had sustained. Accordingly, on the 30th of May, six hundred of his warriors appeared at Hatfield, and rushed suddenly into the town. They immediately set fire to twelve unfortified buildings, and attacked several palisaded dwelling-houses. These were bravely defended by the people. In the midst of the fight, as the inhabitants were attacked, whether in their dwellings or at their labors, a party of twenty-five resolute young men crossed the river from Hadley, and came with such animation upon the Indians, and with so deadly a fire, that the latter were driven back. Eventually, the whole body of the enemy was obliged to return, without effecting, as was intended, the complete destruction of the place. They, however, drove off a large number of sheep and cattle.

Massachusetts and Connecticut now increased their forces in this quarter, as it appeared that the foe was determined[Pg 182] on devastating the settlements upon the river. Hadley became next the object of attack, in which about seven hundred Indians were engaged. The assault was made on the 12th of June, the Indians having laid an ambuscade at the southern extremity, and advanced the main body towards the other the preceding night. Though the Indians exhibited their usual fierceness, they were met and repulsed at the palisades. Renewing their attacks upon other points, they seemed resolved to carry the place. Still, they were held in check until assistance arrived from Northampton, when the foe was driven into the woods.

Defence of Hadley.

Defence of Hadley.

It was during this attack, as is supposed, that the assistance was afforded to the whites which has generally been ascribed to Goffe, one of the fugitive judges from England, which at the time was believed to have been rendered by the guardian angel of the place. In the midst of the confusion and distress of the battle, a gray-headed, venerable-looking man, whose costume differed from that of the inhabitants, appeared, and assumed the direction of the[Pg 183] defence. He arrayed the people in the best manner, showing that he well understood military tactics, led in the battle, and, by his exhortations and efforts, rendered essential aid on the occasion. After the departure of the Indians, he was not observed, and nothing was heard of him afterwards. As it is known that, at that time, Goffe and Whalley were concealed in the house of Mr. Russel in Hadley, it is inferred that one of these men, Goffe (for Whalley was superanuated) left his concealment, in the danger which existed, and put forth the effort here recorded, in order to save the town.

Philip was now secure in no place, but his haughty spirit was untamed by adversity. Although meeting with constant losses, and among them some of his most experienced warriors, he, nevertheless, seemed as hostile and determined as ever. In August, the intrepid Church made a descent upon his head-quarters, at Matapoiset, where he killed and took prisoners about one hundred and thirty of his men. Even Philip escaped with difficulty. So great was his precipitation, that he was obliged to leave his wampum behind, which, with his wife and son, fell into the hands of the victors. That son, it was afterwards ascertained, was sold into slavery, as it was also the mournful fact, with a number of Philip's captured followers. Philip, as stated above, escaped with difficulty. The particulars, as related by Church, are as follow: Church's guide had brought him to a place where a large tree, which the enemy had fallen across a river, lay. Church had come to the top end of the tree when he happened to spy an Indian upon the stump of it, on the other side of the stream. He immediately leveled his gun against the Indian, and had doubtless despatched him, had not one of his own Indians called hastily to him not to fire, for he believed it was one of his own men. Hearing this, in all probability the Indian upon the stump looked about, and Church's Indian, then seeing his face, perceived his mistake, for he knew him to be Philip. Church's Indian then fired himself, but it was too[Pg 184] late. Philip immediately threw himself off the stump, leaped down a bank on the other side of the river, and was out of sight. Church at once gave chase for him, but was unable to discover his course, and only took some of his friends and followers, as has been related.

Philip's Escape.

Philip's Escape.

But from this time, Philip was too closely watched and hotly pursued to escape destruction. His end was rapidly drawing near, his followers mostly deserted him, and he was driven from place to place, until he found himself in his ancient seat near Pokanoket. The immediate occasion of his death is thus narrated: He having put to death one of his own men, for advising him to make peace, this man's brother, whose name was Alderman, fearing the same fate, deserted him, and gave Captain Church an account of his situation, and offered to lead him to his camp. Early on Saturday morning, 12th August, Church came to the swamp where Philip was encamped, and, before he was discovered, had placed a guard about it so as to encompass it, except at a small place. He then ordered Captain Golding to rush[Pg 185] into the swamp, and fall upon Philip in his camp, which he immediately did, but was discovered as he approached, and, as usual, Philip was the first to fly. Having but just awaked from sleep, and having put on part of his clothes, he fled with all his might. Coming directly upon an Englishman and Indian, who composed a part of the ambush at the edge of the swamp, the Englishman's gun missed fire, but Alderman, the Indian, whose gun was loaded with two balls, sent one through his heart and another not above two inches from it. "He fell upon his face in the mud and water, with his gun under him."

Death of Philip.

Death of Philip.

This important news was immediately communicated to Captain Church, by the man who performed the exploit; but the captain suffered nothing to be said concerning it, as he wished to dislodge the enemy from his retreat. Philip's great captain, Annawon, had, however, led out about sixty of his followers from their dangerous situation, and, when the English scoured the swamp, they found not many Indians left. These were killed and captured. After the[Pg 186] affair was over, Church communicated to his troops the gratifying intelligence of Philip's death, upon which the whole army gave three loud huzzas. Philip's body was drawn from the spot where he fell, the head taken off, and the body left unburied, to be devoured by wild beasts. With the great chief fell five of his most trusty followers; one of whom was his chief captain's son, and the Indian who fired the first gun in this bloody war. Thus fell this chieftain, who, though an untutored savage, was doubtless a great man—considered in reference to his intellectual resources and the influence he wielded among his compatriots. Had his lot fallen among a civilized race, and fighting as he did for his native country, he had been as illustrious as any hero of any age or clime.

Philip's war proved a most serious concern to the infant colonies. It cost them half a million of dollars, and the lives of above six hundred inhabitants, who were either killed in battle, or otherwise destroyed by the enemy. Thirteen towns and six hundred houses were burned, and there was scarcely a family in the United Colonies that had not occasion to mourn the death of a relative. Dr. Trumbull thinks the loss exceeds the common estimate. He concludes that about one fencible man in eleven was killed, and every eleventh family burned out. But the war was still more disastrous to the Indians. Great numbers of them fell in battle; their lodges were destroyed, and, indeed, their country conquered. Scarcely a hundred warriors remained of the great leading tribe of the Narragansets.[23]

Of Philip's warriors, several were remarkable men.—Among these were Nanunteno, or Cononchet; Annawon, Quinnapin, Tuspaquin, and Tatoson. We can briefly notice but one—the mighty Annawon. We have seen that at the time of Philip's death, he escaped with a number of his men. The place of his retreat was not long after disclosed by an Indian and his daughter, who had been[Pg 187] captured. It was in a swamp in the south-east part of Rehoboth. Captain Church, upon this information, adopted a most daring stratagem to secure Annawon. At the head of a small party, conducted by his informers, Church cautiously approached in the evening the edge of a rocky precipice, under which the chief was encamped, and critically examined the position. The Indians, their arms, their employments, (for they were preparing for a meal,) and other defences, were all noticed by Captain Church; and particularly the fact, that Annawon and his son were reposing near the arms. As he learned from his guide that no one was allowed to go out or come into the camp, except by the precipice, he determined to seek his object in that direction. The Indian and his daughter, according to a concerted plan, with baskets upon their backs, as if bringing in provisions, preceded Church and his men, by their shadows concealing the latter, and descended the rock. In this way, although with great difficulty, they all reached the bottom without alarming the Indians. It happened, singularly enough, that their descent was accomplished without discovery, on account of the noise made by the pounding of a mortar; a squaw being engaged in that work in preparing green dried corn for their supper. Under favor of the noise thus made, the rustling sound proceeding from their leaps from crag to crag was not noticed. Church, with his hatchet in his hand, stepped over the young man's head to the arms. The young Annawon threw his blanket suddenly over his head, and shrunk up in a heap. The old chief started upon end, and cried out Howah! meaning Welcome! Finding that there was no escape, he resigned himself to his fate, and fell back on his couch; while his captors secured the rest of the company. English and Indian amicably ate their supper together, and Church afterwards laid down to rest, as he had not slept during the thirty-six previous hours; but his mind was too full of cares to admit of repose, and after lying a short time, he got up. On one occasion, during the night, he felt suspicious[Pg 188] of Annawon's intentions, as the latter, after attempting in vain to sleep, arose, and left the spot a short time. Returning with something in his hands, (Church having in the mean time prepared himself for the worst,) he placed it on the ground, and, falling on his knees before his captor, said: "Great Captain, you have killed Philip and conquered his country, for I believe that I and my company are the last that war against the English. I suppose the war is ended by your means." His pack consisted of presents, being principally several belts of wampum, curiously wrought, and a red cloth blanket, the royal dress of Philip. These he gave to Church, expressing his gratification in having an opportunity of delivering them to him.

Capture of Annawon.

Capture of Annawon.

The remainder of the night they spent in discourse, in which Annawon gave an account of his success and exploits in former wars with the Indians when he served Asuhmequin, Philip's father. Annawon, it is said, had confessed that he had put to death several of the captive English, and could not deny but that some of them had been tortured. Under[Pg 189] these circumstances, and considering the exasperation which the English naturally felt, it was hardly to be expected that mercy should be shown him. Church, however, did not intend that he should be put to death, and had earnestly entreated for him; but in his absence from Plymouth, not long after, the old chief was executed.

It is not uncommon with historians and others, to denounce and execrate the conduct of Philip and his warriors, as wanton and savage. They were doubtless cruel—they were savage. The writer would not become their panegyrist. But let it be remembered, that if they cannot be exculpated, there are mitigating circumstances which should always be mentioned in connection with their most inhuman barbarities. The influences of Christianity never bore upon them. They inflicted no greater tortures upon the English than they often inflicted upon other prisoners of their own complexion. But in addition, they were fighting for their own country. They were patriots—and they saw in the progress and prosperity of the English, the downfall of Indian power—the annihilation of Indian title. They were fathers, husbands, and full well did they know that soon their family relations would be broken up—and the inheritance of their children for ever fail. Who can blame them for wishing to perpetuate their hold on their native hunting grounds—or leaving to their posterity an inheritance dear to them as ours is to us?—We cannot justify their treachery—their indiscriminate and wholesale butcheries—but surely we may admire their bravery—their endurance—their patriotism.

[Pg 190]


Combination of French and Indians against the Americans—Burning of Schenectady—Cause of it—Horrors attending it—Attack upon Salmon Falls—Upon Casco—Results of Expeditions fitted out by New York and New England—Reduction of Port Royal—Atrocities which marked the war—Attack on Haverhill, Mass.—Heroic Conduct of Mrs. Dustan—Peace.

During the three wars of King William, Queen Anne, and George II., the sufferings of the northern colonies were severe and protracted, or were intermitted only at short intervals. The hostility of the Indians was kept alive, and often kindled into a fresh flame, through the agency of European settlers on their northern border. These took up the quarrel of France and England, and sought occasions to molest the subjects of the English sovereign in America.

In King William's War, the French combined with the Indians in bringing fire and sword upon the inhabitants of New England and New York. A connected account need not be given of the disastrous occurrences that took place, during this sanguinary war; but only particular instances of hostilities, and their effects, will be narrated in this portion of the present work.

We commence with the attack on Schenectady. This was made in pursuance of a plan adopted by Count Frontenac, then the governor of Canada, in revenging on the English colonies the treatment which King James had received from the English government, and which had inflamed the resentment of Frontenac's master, Louis XIV. The governor fitted out three expeditions against the American colonies in the midst of winter, of which one was against New York. The attack on Schenectady was the fruit of this expedition. It was made by a party, consisting of about two hundred French and, perhaps, fifty Caughnewaga Indians, under the command of two French officers, Maulet and St. Helene, in 1689-90.

[Pg 191]

Burning of Schenectady.

Burning of Schenectady.

Schenectady was then in the form of an oblong square, having a gate at each extremity. But as one of the gates only could be found, they all entered at that one. The gate was not only open, but was also unguarded. Although the town was impaled, and might have been protected, no one deemed it necessary to close the gate at night, presuming that the severity of the season was a sufficient security. The enemy divided themselves into several parties, and waylaid every portal, and then raised the war-whoop. It was between eleven and twelve o'clock on Saturday night, the 8th of February, when the fearful tragedy commenced. Maulet attacked a garrison, where the only resistance of any account was made. He soon forced the gate, and all the English were slaughtered, and the garrison burned. One of the French officers was wounded, in forcing a house, and thereby wholly disabled; but St. Helene having come to his assistance, the house was taken and all who had shut themselves in it were put to the sword. Nothing was now to be seen but massacre and[Pg 192] pillage on every side. The most shocking barbarities were committed on the inhabitants. "Sixty-three houses and the church were immediately in a blaze. Enciente women, in their expiring agonies, saw their infants cast into the flames, being first delivered by the knife of the midnight assassin. Sixty-three persons were murdered and twenty-seven were carried into captivity."

A few persons were enabled to escape, but being without sufficient clothing, they lost their limbs from the severity of the cold, as they traveled towards Albany.

About noon, the next day, the enemy left the desolated place, taking such plunder as they could carry with them, and destroying the remainder. It was designed, it seems, to spare the minister of the place, as Maulet wanted him as his own prisoner; but he was found among the mangled dead, and his papers burned. The houses of two or three individuals were spared, for particular reasons, while the rest were consigned to the flames.

Owing to the state of the traveling, news of the massacre did not reach the great Mohawk castle, seventeen miles distant, until at the expiration of two days. On the reception of the news, a party commenced a pursuit of the foe. After a tedious route, they fell upon their rear, killed and took twenty-five of them, and effected some other damage.

The second party of French and Indians was sent against the delightful settlement at Salmon Falls, on the Piscataqua. At Three Rivers, Frontenac had fitted out an expedition of fifty-two men and twenty-five Indians. They had an officer at their head in whom the greatest confidence could be reposed—Sieur Hertel. In his small band he had three sons and two nephews. After a long and rugged march, Hertel reached the place on the 27th of March, 1690. His spies having reconnoitered it, he divided his men into three companies, the largest portion of which he led himself. The attack was made at the break of day. The English made a stout resistance, but were unable to withstand the well-directed fire of the assailants. Thirty of the bravest of[Pg 193] the inhabitants were cut to pieces; the remainder, amounting to fifty-four, were made prisoners. The English had twenty-seven houses reduced to ashes, and two thousand domestic animals perished in the barns that had been burned.

The third party, which was fitted out from Quebec by the directions of Frontenac, made an attack upon Casco, in Maine. This was commanded by M. de Portneuf. Hertel, on his return to Canada, met with this expedition, and, joining it with the force under his command, came back to the scene of warfare in which he had been so unhappily successful. As the hostile company marched through the country of the Abenakis, numbers of them joined it. Portneuf, with his forces thus augmented, came into the neighborhood of Casco, according to the French account, on the 25th of May, 1690. On the following night, having prepared an ambush, he succeeded in taking and killing an Englishman who fell into it. Upon this occurrence, the Indians raised the war-whoop, and about fifty English soldiers, leaving the garrison to learn the occasion of it, had nearly reached the ambush, when they were fired upon. Before they could make resistance, they were fallen upon by the French and Indians, who, with their swords and tomahawks, made such a slaughter, that but four of them escaped, and those with severe wounds. "The English, seeing now that they must stand a siege, abandoned four garrisons, and all retired into one which was provided with cannon. Before these were abandoned, an attack was made upon one of them, in which the French were repulsed with the loss of one Indian killed, and one Frenchman wounded. Portneuf began now to doubt of his ability to take Casco, fearing the issue; for his commission only ordered him to lay waste the English settlements, and not to attempt fortified places. But, in this dilemma, Hertel and Hopehood (a celebrated chief of the tribe of the Kennebecks), arrived. It was now determined to press the siege. In the deserted forts they found all the necessary tools for carrying on the work, and they began a mine within fifty[Pg 194] feet of the fort, under a steep bank, which entirely protected them from its guns. The English became discouraged, and, on the 28th of May, surrendered themselves prisoners of war. There were seventy men, and probably a much greater number of women and children; all of whom, except Captain Davis, who commanded the garrison, and three or four others, were given up to the Indians, who murdered most of them in their most cruel manner; and, if the accounts be true, Hopehood excelled all other savages in acts of cruelty."

These barbarous transactions, producing alike terror and indignation, aroused New England and New York to attempt a formidable demonstration against the enemy. The general court of Massachusetts sent letters of request to the several executives of the provinces, pursuant to which they convened at New York, May 1st, 1691. Two important measures were adopted, as the result of the deliberations, on this occasion—Connecticut sent General Winthrop, with troops, to march through Albany, there to receive supplies, and to be joined by a body of men from New York. The expedition was to proceed up Lake Champlain, and was destined for the destruction of Montreal. There was a failure, however, of the supplies, and thus the project was defeated. Massachusetts sent forth a fleet of thirty-four sail, under Sir William Phipps. He proceeded to Port Royal, took it, reduced Acadia, and thence sailed up the St. Lawrence, with the design of capturing Quebec. The troops landed, with some difficulty, and the place was boldly summoned to surrender. A proud defiance was returned by Frontenac. The position of the latter happened to be strengthened, just at this time, by a rëinforcement from Montreal. Phipps, learning this, and finding also that the party of Winthrop, which he expected from Montreal, had failed, gave up the attempt, and returned to Boston, with the loss of several vessels and a considerable number of troops. A part of his fleet had been wrecked by a storm.

[Pg 195]

During the progress of King William's War, the atrocities committed upon the colonists, by the French and Indians, were equal to any recorded in the annals of the most barbarous age. Connected with these, were instances of heroic valor on the part of the sufferers, which are not surpassed by any on the historic page. A specimen will here be related: On the 15th of March, 1697, the last year of King William's War, an attack was suddenly made on Haverhill, in Massachusetts, by a party of about twenty Indians. It was a rapid, but fatal onset, and a fitting finale of so dreadful a ten years' war. Eight houses were destroyed, twenty-seven persons killed, and thirteen carried away prisoners. One of these houses belonged to a Mr. Dustan, in the skirts of the town. Mr. Dustan was engaged in work at some distance from home, but, by some means, he learned what was passing at the place.

Before the Indians had reached his house, he had arrived there, and been able to make some arrangements for the removal of his wife and children. The latter he bid to run. His wife, who had but only a few days before become the mother of an infant, was in no condition to leave her bed. He undertook, however, to remove her, but it was too late. The Indians were rushing on. No time could be lost; and Mr. Dustan turned with despair from the mother of his children, to the children themselves. It became necessary at once to hasten their flight—they were seven in number, besides the infant left with its mother, the eldest being seventeen years, and the youngest two years old. The Indians were upon them, and what could the agonized father do? With his gun he mounted his horse, and riding in the direction of his children, overtook them only about forty rods from the house. His first intention was to take up the child that he could least spare, and escape with that. But, alas! that point he was unable to decide—they were all equally dear to him. He, therefore, determined to resist the enemy, who was on a pursuit, and, if possible, save all. Facing the savages, he fired, and they returned the fire.[Pg 196] The Indians, however, did not choose to follow up the pursuit, either from fear of the resolute father, who continued to fire as he retreated, or from an apprehension of arousing the neighboring English, before they could finish their depredations in the town, and hence this part of the family soon effected their escape.

Mr. Dustan saving his children.

Mr. Dustan saving his children.

We now return to the house. There was living in it a nurse, Mrs. Neff, who heroically shared the fate of her mistress, when escape was in her power. The Indians entered the house, and, having ordered the sick woman to rise and sit quietly in the corner of the fire-place, they commenced the pillage of the dwelling, and concluded by setting it on fire. At the approach of night, Mrs. Dustan was forced to march into the wilderness, and seek repose upon the hard, cold ground. Mrs. Neff, in attempting to elude the Indians with the infant, was intercepted. The babe was taken from her, and its brains beat out against a neighboring tree. The captives, when collected, amounted to thirteen in number. That same day they were marched[Pg 197] twelve miles before encamping, although it was nearly night before they set out. Succeeding this, for several days, they were obliged to keep up with their savage comrades, over an extent of country of not less than one hundred and forty or fifty miles. Mrs. Dustan, feeble as she had been, wonderfully supported the fatigue incident to her situation.

Escape of Mrs. Dustan.

Escape of Mrs. Dustan.

After this, the Indians, according to their custom, divided their prisoners. Mrs. Dustan, Mrs. Neff, and a captive lad from Worcester, fell to the share of an Indian family consisting of twelve persons. These now took charge of the captives, and appear to have treated them with no unkindness, save that of forcing them to extend their journey still farther towards an Indian settlement. They, however, gave the prisoners to understand that there was one ceremony to which they must submit, after they had arrived at their place of destination, and that was to run the gauntlet between two files of Indians. This announcement filled Mrs. Dustan and her two companions with so much[Pg 198] dread, that they mutually decided to attempt an escape. Accordingly, after obtaining information from the Indians themselves, as to the way of killing and scalping their enemies, who gave the information without suspecting their object, they laid their plans for taking the lives of the savages. One night, "when the Indians were in the most sound sleep, these three captives arose, and, softly arming themselves with the tomahawks of their masters, allotted the number each should kill; and so truly did they direct their blows, that but two, a boy and a woman, made their escape, the latter having been seriously wounded. Having finished their fearful work, they hastily left the place. As the scene of the exploit was a small island, in the mouth of a stream that falls into the Merrimack, they made use of a boat of the Indians to effect their escape; the others being scuttled to prevent the use of them in pursuit, should the Indians be near; and thus, with what provisions and arms the Indian camp afforded, they embarked, and slowly took the course of the river for their homes, which they reached without accident."

The whole country was startled at the relation of the heroic deed, the truth of which was never questioned. The palpable proofs of their feat they brought with them, and the general court of Massachusetts gave them fifty pounds as a reward, and they received from individuals likewise substantial tokens, expressing the admiration in which the exploit was held. The governor of Maryland, hearing of the transaction, sent them also a generous present.

This is a case where individuals may, perhaps, differ in opinion as to the strict moral propriety of the deed. The necessity of such an act, for relief from suffering, may be estimated differently, according to the different theories which men have adopted. Yet it seems to have been generally, if not universally approved by those who lived contemporaneously with the transaction; and who, from the stern integrity of their character, and from their acquaintance[Pg 199] with the circumstances of the country, were peculiarly well fitted to judge.

Such were some of the striking events during the period of King William's War; a war which continued nearly ten years, and brought incalculable distress upon the colonies. The peace of Ryswick, in 1697, put an end to it; but this peace proved to be of short duration.

Tailpiece—Round Tower at Rhode Island

[Pg 200]


Principal Scenes of this War in America—Attack upon Deerfield—Captivity and Sufferings of Rev. Mr. Williams—Other Disasters of the War—Peace—Death of Queen Anne—Accession of George I.—Continued Sufferings of the Colonies of Massachusetts and New Hampshire—Peace concluded with the Indians at Boston.

King William having deceased in 1702, Queen Anne was seated on the British throne, and war soon began again to rage throughout Europe. England and France, including Spain also, drew the sword, to settle some unadjusted claims between them, and the contest of the parent countries, as usual, soon involved their American colonies. The states of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, became the principal scenes of the war in America, the colony of New York being secured from aggression through the neutrality of the Five Nations on her borders. The war, which lasted more than ten years, is generally denominated Queen Anne's War, and was attended with the usual barbarous and distressing results incident to savage warfare.

The drama opened at Deerfield, on the Connecticut river, on the 19th of February, 1704. The preliminaries to it had occurred a little before in the destruction of several small settlements from Casco to Wells in Maine, and the killing and capture of one hundred and thirty people in the aggregate. This was in contravention to the solemn assurance given by the eastern Indians, of peace with New England. As Deerfield was a frontier town, the enemy had watched it for the purpose of capture from an early period. Indeed, it had been constantly exposed to inroads, during King William's War, but had resolutely maintained its ground, and increased in size and population, especially from the termination of that war. It was palisaded, though imperfectly; several detached houses were protected by slight fortifications, and twenty soldiers had been placed within it. They had, however, been quartered about in different houses, and, forgetting their duty as soldiers, were[Pg 201] surprised with the rest of the inhabitants. There was a great depth of snow upon the ground, a circumstance which gave the enemy an easy entrance over the pickets. The commander of the French was Hertel de Rouville.

The assailants, in approaching the place, used every precaution to avoid disturbing the soldiery or the inhabitants by noise in walking over the crusted snow, stopping occasionally, that the sound of their feet might appear like the fitful gusts of the wind. But the precaution was unnecessary, for the guard within the fort had retired, and fallen asleep. None, of all who were in the village, awaked, except to be put immediately into the sleep of death; to be doomed to a a horrible captivity, or to effect a difficult and hazardous escape into the adjacent woods amidst the snows of winter. The houses were assaulted by parties detached in different directions; the doors were broken open, the astonished people dragged from their beds, and pillage and personal violence in all its forms ensued. They who attempted resistance, were felled by the tomahawk or musket.

Capture of Mr. Williams.

Capture of Mr. Williams.

Some of the separate features of this work of destruction and scene of agony, deserve particular notice, and will ever call up the painful sympathies of the reader of history. The minister of the place, the Rev. John Williams, who subsequently wrote a narrative of the affair, and of his own captivity, was a conspicuous actor and sufferer in the sad tragedy. Early in the assault, which was not long before the break of day, about twenty Indians attacked his house. Instantly leaping from his bed, he ran towards the door, and perceived a party making their entrance into the house. He called to awaken two soldiers who were sleeping in the chamber, and had only returned to the bedside for his arms, when the enemy rushed into the room. Upon this, as he says, "I reached my hands up to the bed-tester for my pistol, uttering a short petition to God, expecting a present passage through the valley of the shadow of death." He levelled it at the breast of the foremost Indian, but it missed fire: he was immediately seized by three Indians, who[Pg 202] secured his pistol, and, binding him fast, kept him naked in the cold, nearly the space of an hour. One of these captors was a leader or captain, who soon met the fate he merited. Says Mr. Williams, "the judgment of God did not long slumber, for by sun-rising he received a mortal shot from my next neighbor's house." This house was not a garrison, but being defended by seven resolute men, and as many resolute women, withstood the efforts of three hundred French and Indians. They attacked it repeatedly, and tried various methods to set it on fire, but without success; in the mean while suffering from the fire which was poured upon them from the windows and loop-holes of the building. The enemy gave up the attempt in despair. Mrs. Williams having been confined but a few weeks previously, was feeble—a circumstance which rendered her case hopeless; but her agony was intensely increased by witnessing the murder of two of her little ones, who were dragged to the door, and butchered, as was also a black woman belonging to the family. Rifling the house with the utmost rudeness,[Pg 203] the enemy seized Mrs. Williams, ill as she was, and five remaining children, with a view to carry them into captivity.

While these transactions were in progress, a lodger in the house, Captain Stoddard, seized his cloak, and leaped from a chamber window. He escaped across Deerfield river, and finding it necessary to secure his feet from injury, he tore the cloak into pieces, and wrapped them up in it, and was thus enabled, though in great exhaustion, to reach Hatfield. An assault was made upon the house of Captain John Sheldon, but the door was so strong and so firmly bolted, that the enemy found it difficult to break or penetrate it. Their only resort, therefore, was to perforate it with their tomahawks. Through the aperture thus made, they thrust a musket, fired, and killed Mrs. Sheldon, a ball striking her as she was rising from her bed in an adjoining room. The mark of the ball was long to be seen in a timber near the bed, the house having been carefully preserved, bearing upon the front door the marks of the Indian hatchet. In the mean time, the son and son's wife of Captain Sheldon, sprang from a chamber window at the east end of the building; but unfortunately for the lady, her ankle became sprained by the fall, and being unable to walk, she was seized by the Indians. The husband escaped into the adjoining forest, and reached Hatfield. The enemy at length gaining possession of the house, reserved it on account of its size as a dépôt for the prisoners taken in the village.

At the expiration of about two hours, the enemy having collected the prisoners, and plundered and set fire to the buildings, took up their march from the place. Forty-seven persons had been put to death, including those killed in making the defence. "We were carried over the river to the foot of the mountain, about a mile from my house," says Mr. Williams, "where we found a great number of our Christian neighbors—men, women, and children—to the number of one hundred, nineteen of whom were afterwards murdered in the way, and two starved to death near Coos[Pg 204] in a time of great scarcity and famine the savages underwent there. When we came to the foot of the mountain, they took away our shoes, and gave us Indian shoes, to prepare us for our journey."

At this spot, a portion of the enemy was overtaken by a party of the English, consisting of the few who had escaped, together with the men who had defended the two houses, and a small number from Hatfield, and a brisk fight ensued. The little band, however, was in danger of being surrounded by the main body of the enemy's troops, as they came into the action, and, accordingly, they were compelled to retreat. They left nine of their number slain. The attack on the enemy, under such circumstances, indicated the resolute and sympathizing spirit of the people, but it had well nigh proved fatal to the prisoners. Rouville, fearing, at one time, a defeat, had ordered the latter to be put to death, but, providentially, the bearer of the message was killed before he executed his orders. They were, nevertheless, held in readiness to be sacrificed in the event of disasters happening to the enemy.

Soon after the termination of the skirmish, Rouville commenced his march for Canada. Three hundred miles of a trackless wilderness were to be traversed, and that too at a very inclement season of the year. The prospects of the captives were gloomy beyond description. Many were women, at that time under circumstances requiring the most tender treatment. Some were young children, not sufficiently strong to endure the fatigues of traveling. Infants there were, who must be carried in their parents' arms, or left behind to be butchered by the savage or frozen on the snow; and, of the adult males, several were suffering from severe wounds.

The first day's journey was but four miles, and was signalized by the murder of an infant. The Indians, however, seemed disposed generally to favor the captives, by carrying on their backs such children as were incapable of traveling. From mercenary motives, they wished to keep[Pg 205] all alive that they could, as the captives would bring a price, or be serviceable to them in some way, in Canada. It was no sentiment of compassion that moved them; for, as soon as their patience failed them, the miserable captive, whether man, woman, or child, was knocked on the head. At night, they encamped in a meadow, in what is now Greenfield, where they cleared away the snow, spread boughs of trees, and made slight cabins of brush, for the accommodation of the prisoners. The strongest of the latter were bound after the Indian manner that night, and every subsequent night, in order to prevent escape. In the very first night, one man broke away and escaped, and, at the same time, Mr. Williams, who was considered the principal of the captives, was informed by the commander-in-chief, that if any more attempted to escape, the rest should be put to death.

In the second day's march occurred the death of Mrs. Williams. In the course of the route, it became necessary to cross Creek river, at the upper part of Deerfield meadow. From some change of conductors, Mr. Williams, who had before been forbidden to speak to his fellow-captives, was now permitted to do it, and even to assist his distressed wife, who had begun to be exhausted. But it was their last meeting, and most affecting was the scene. She very calmly told him that her strength was fast failing, and that he would soon lose her. At the same time, she did not utter the language of discouragement or of complaint, in view of the hardness of her fortune. When the company halted, Mr. Williams' former conductor resumed his place, and ordered him into the front, and his wife was obliged to travel unaided. They had now arrived at the margin of Green river. This they passed by wading through the water, which was about two feet in depth, and running with great rapidity. They now came to a steep mountain, which it was necessary to ascend. The narrative of Mr. Williams says, here: "No sooner had I overcome the difficulty of that ascent, but I was permitted to sit down, and to be unburthened of my pack. I sat pitying[Pg 206] those who were behind, and entreated my master to let me go down and help my wife, but he refused. I asked each of the prisoners, as they passed by me, after her, and heard that, passing through the above said river, she fell down, and was plunged all over in the water; after which, she traveled not far; for, at the foot of the mountain, the cruel and blood-thirsty savage who took her, slew her with his hatchet, at one stroke." The same day, a young woman and child were killed and scalped.

After some days, they reached the mouth of White river, where Rouville divided his force into several parties, who took different routes to the St. Lawrence. Mr. Williams belonged to a party which reached the Indian village St. Francis, on the St. Lawrence, by the way of Lake Champlain. After a short residence at that village, he was sent to Montreal, where he was treated with kindness by the governor, Vaudreuil.

In the year 1706, fifty-seven of these captives were conveyed to Boston in a flag-ship, among whom were Mr. Williams and all his remaining children (two having been ransomed and sent home before), except his daughter Eunice, whom, notwithstanding all his exertions, he was never able to redeem, and whom, at the tender age of ten years, he was obliged to leave among the Indians. As she grew up under Indian influence, having no other home, and no other friends who could counsel and guide her, she adopted the manners and customs of the Indians, settled with them in a domestic state, and, by her husband, had several children. She became also, it is said, a Catholic, and ever afterwards firmly attached to that religion. This, perhaps, is scarcely a matter of surprise, as the sentiment was, the more easily instilled into her mind, from her age and the circumstances in which she was placed. Some time after the war, she visited her relations at Deerfield, in company with her husband. She was habited in the Indian costume, and, strange as it may seem, though every persuasive was used to induce her to abandon the savages, and to remain among her connections, all was in vain. She continued to lead[Pg 207] the life of a savage, and, though she repeated her visits to her friends in New England, she uniformly persisted in wearing her blanket and counting her beads. Two of the children of Mr. Williams, after their return, became worthy and respectable ministers; one at Waltham, the other at Long Meadow, in Springfield.

The captive Mr. Williams, upon his return to the colony, was desired, by the remnant of his Deerfield friends, to resume the duties of his pastoral office in that place. He complied with their request, and, having rëmarried, reared another family of children, and died in 1729.

During Queen Anne's War, no other single tragedy occurred like that of Deerfield; but, at all times, the enemy were prowling about the frontier settlements, watching, in concealment, for an opportunity to strike a sudden blow, and, having done irreparable mischief, to escape with safety. The women and children retired into garrisons; the men left their fields uncultivated, or labored with arms at their sides, and having sentinels posted at every point whence an attack could be apprehended. Yet, notwithstanding these precautions, the Indians were often successful, killing sometimes an individual, sometimes a whole family, sometimes a band of laborers, ten or twelve in number; and, so alert were they in their movements, that but few of them fell into the hands of the whites.

Queen Anne died in 1714, and George I., of the house of Brunswick, ascended the throne of England. During the reign of the latter, a state of warfare existed between the enemy and the colony of Massachusetts and New Hampshire for several years, distressing to the former, but attended by few signal conflicts, disasters, or victories. At length, however, it was discovered that the Indians, although instigated still by the French, were not averse to peace. Accordingly, towards the latter part of the year 1725, a treaty was concluded at Boston, and the next spring was ratified at Falmouth. A period of tranquillity succeeded this event in the northern colonies.

[Pg 208]


War between England and France, 1744—French take Canso—Effect of this Declaration of War upon the Indians—Attack upon Great Meadows (now Putney)—Also, upon Ashuelot (now Keene)—Expedition against Louisburg—Particulars of it—Surrender of it—Continuance of the War—Various places assaulted—Savage Barbarities following the surrender of Fort Massachusetts—Peace declared.

The attempts to maintain peace with the Indians were successful through a number of years. The most happy expedient which the English adopted for that purpose, was the erection of trading-houses, where goods were furnished by government to be exchanged for furs, which the Indians brought to them. This had the effect of conciliating the Indians, and, as it stimulated their industry, it was more serviceable to them than direct gifts. In the course of time, however, they began to be restive. Their intercourse with the whites, for trading purposes, renewed reminiscences of the attacks and cruelties committed upon the exterior settlements. The Indians were wont to boast of their feats, and of the tortures inflicted upon the captured English; in some instances, the friends of those with whom they were now holding intercourse. They were disposed frequently, when provoked or intoxicated, to threaten to come again, with the war-whoop and the tomahawk. Hence, individual acts of violence occasionally took place, at or near the trading-towns, and it was evident that, whenever war between the English and French should commence, there would be a reiteration of the former scenes and acts of atrocity.

The day of blood at length arrived. It was in the year 1744, that England and France again commenced hostilities. The intelligence no sooner crossed the Atlantic, than the frontiers of the colonies became the area of the conflict, and the blood-thirsty savage took up his hatchet, with the intention of giving vent to his long pent-up vengeance. George II. had been on the throne several years.

[Pg 209]

Before the proclamation of war was known at Boston, the French governor of Cape Breton sent a party to take Canso, which was effected, and the captives were conveyed to Louisburg. The proclamation of war seems to have had a singular effect on the Indians, who had manifested a degree of attachment to the whites. It awakened the naturally ferocious feelings of the savage—feelings that had been for some time suspended; and, forgetting the many ties of acquaintance and friendly intercourse, he easily fell back upon those habits of carnage and plunder, in which he was originally nurtured. The effect of the proclamation of war, on all the other Indians, was to have been expected, as gratifying their long-indulged desires of mingling in the scenes of murder and pillage. It was an unhappy circumstance, in regard to the Indians who had been indulged with so intimate an intercourse with the whites, that they were perfectly acquainted with all the routes from Canada to the various English settlements, thus serving as guides for others, or facilitating their predatory irruptions.

With a wise foresight, upon the first intimation of war, several new forts were ordered to be built in exposed parts of the country, the western regiments of militia in Massachusetts were called on for their quotas of men to defend the frontiers in that quarter, and scouting parties were employed in various places for the purpose of discovering the incursions of the enemy, and ferreting out their trails. But happily, during the first year, they remained quiet, or were secretly making their preparations for the part they intended hereafter to enact.

The Indians commenced operations in July, 1745, at the Great Meadow, now Putney, on the Connecticut, and a few days after at upper Ashuelot (Keene), killing at each place an individual. Somewhat later in the year, the Great Meadow was the scene of another attack, with a small loss to the whites, as also to the Indians. The vigilance of the colonists, however, was so unceasing, that but little[Pg 210] opportunity at this time was afforded for the gratification of their malignity.

The eyes of the New England colonists were now fixed on one great enterprise, the reduction of Louisburg, on the island of Cape Breton, a place of incredible strength, which had been twenty-five years in building. Accordingly, four thousand troops from the several colonies, as far as Pennsylvania, were raised, the command of which was assigned to William Pepperell. On the 4th of April, 1745, the expedition had arrived at Canso. Here they were detained three weeks on account of the ice. At length Commodore Warren, according to orders from England, arrived at Canso in a ship of sixty guns, with three other ships of forty guns each. After a consultation with Pepperell, the commodore proceeded to cruise before Louisburg. Soon after, the general sailed with the whole fleet. On the 30th of April, landing his troops, he invested the city. A portion of the troops on the north-east part of the harbor, meeting with the warehouses containing the naval stores, set them on fire. The smoke, driven by the wind into the grand battery, so terrified the French, that they abandoned it. After spiking the guns, they returned to the city. Colonel Vaughan, who conducted the first column, took possession of the deserted battery. With extreme difficulty, cannon were drawn up for fourteen nights successively, from the landing-place, through a morass to the camp. It was done by men with straps over their shoulders, and sinking to their knees in the mud; a service which oxen or horses on such ground could not have performed. The cannon of the forsaken battery were drilled, and turned with good effect on the city.

On the 7th of May, a summons was sent to the commanding officer of Louisburg, but he refused to surrender the place. The efforts of the assailants were then renewed, and put forth to the utmost, both by the commodore's fleet and the land forces. Their efforts were at length crowned with success. Discouraged by the whole aspect of affairs, Duchambon, the French commander, felt under the necessity[Pg 211] of surrendering; and, accordingly, on the 16th of June, articles of capitulation were signed.

Reduction of Louisburg.

Reduction of Louisburg.

This expedition, and its success, are one of the most striking events in American warfare. It established the New England character for a daring and enterprising spirit, and it became equally the boast and the fear of Britain. The daring and the prowess that effected such an achievement, might one day be arrayed against the integrity of the British empire in America. Pious people considered that this victory was wrought out by a special guiding and cöoperating Providence.

After the loss of Louisburg, the conflicts on the borders became more frequent and fatal. The enemy was exasperated, and determined to give the colonists no rest. Various places on the Connecticut were accordingly attacked, but chiefly settlements in New Hampshire, the results of which were very distressing to individual families. Charlestown, Keene, New Hopkinton, Contoocook, Rochester, and many other places whose situations exposed them to the enemy[Pg 212] were attacked, and a greater or less number of individuals were killed, wounded, or captured.

One attack may be stated in detail; it followed the surrender of Fort Massachusetts to Vaudreuil's French and Indian forces, an honourable capitulation, which took place in the summer of 1746, the fort having defended itself as long as its ammunition lasted. The narrative is given in the language of another: "Immediately after the surrender of Fort Massachusetts, about fifty of Vaudreuil's Indians passed Hoosack mountain, for the purpose of making depredations at Deerfield, about forty miles eastward. Arriving near the village on Sunday, they reconnoitered the north meadow, for the purpose of selecting a place of attack upon the people, as they should commence their labor the next morning. Not finding a point of attack suited to their design, which seems to have been rather to capture than to secure scalps, they proceeded about two miles south, to a place called the Bars, where were a couple of houses, owned by the families of Arnsden and Allen, but now deserted; and early in the morning formed an ambuscade on the margin of a meadow, under the cover of a thicket of alders, near which was a quantity of mown hay. The laborers of the two families, accompanied by several children, then residing in Deerfield village, proceeded to their work in the early part of the day, and commenced their business very near the Indians, who now considered their prey as certain. But a little before they commenced their attack, Mr. Eleazer Hawks, one of the neighboring inhabitants, went out for fowling; and, approaching near the ambuscade, was shot down and scalped. Alarmed at the fire, the persons fled down a creek towards a mill, fiercely pursued by the Indians. Simeon Arnsden, a lad, was seized, killed and scalped; Samuel Allen, John Sadler, and Adonijah Gillet, made a stand under the bank of Deerfield river, near the mouth of the mill creek, whence they opened a fire on the Indians. Soon overpowered, Allen and Gillet fell; but Sadler escaped to an island, and thence across the[Pg 213] river, under a shower of balls. In the mean time, others, making for the road leading to the town, were closely pursued, and Oliver Arnsden, after a vigorous struggle for his life, was barbarously butchered. Eunice, a daughter, and two sons of Allen (Samuel and Caleb) were in the field; Eunice was knocked down by a tomahawk, and her skull fractured, but, in the hurry, was left unscalped. Samuel was made prisoner, and Caleb effected his escape by running through a piece of corn, though the Indians passed very near him. Notwithstanding the severity of her wounds, Eunice recovered, and lived to an advanced age."[24]

Although the war between England and France was terminated by the treaty of peace at Aix-la-Chapelle, on the 18th of October, 1743, yet tranquillity did not immediately follow. The frontiers continued to be ravaged, and the comfort and progress of the settlers were seriously interrupted, for a time, beyond the general pacification. The basis of the peace, as settled at Aix-la-Chapelle, was the mutual restoration of all places taken during the war: Louisburg, the pride and glory of the war, reverted to the French, to the grief and mortification of New England.

Tailpiece—Boston Harbor discovered

[Pg 214]


Declaration of War between England and France—Causes of the War—Mode of conducting it—Various Expeditions planned—Nova Scotia taken from the French—General Braddock's signal defeat—Failure of Expeditions against Niagara and Fort Frontenac—Expedition against Crown Point—Battle of Lake George—Campaign of 1756—Inefficiency of Lord Loudon—Loss of Fort Oswego—Indian Atrocities in Pennsylvania—Campaign of 1757—Massacre at Fort William Henry—Campaign of 1758—Capture of Louisburg—Unsuccessful Expedition against Ticonderoga—Capture of Fort Frontenac—Fort du Quesne taken—Campaign of 1759—Ticonderoga and Crown Point taken—Niagara Captured—Siege and Capture of Quebec—Death of Wolfe and Montcalm—Final Surrender of the French Possessions in Canada to the English—Peace of Paris.

After a few years of peace, during which the colonies had somewhat repaired their wasted strength and resources, a declaration of war was made between Great Britain and France in the summer of 1756. There had been an actual state of warfare for two previous years, causing no small grief and annoyance to the colonies, who had fondly hoped longer to enjoy the blessings of tranquillity, and prosecute their schemes of improvement. An invaluable blessing, however, ultimately flowed from the renewed conflict of arms—as, from this time, that federation took place among the separated provinces, which was consummated afterwards in their independence as a nation. The prosecution of a common object, such as was presented in the French and Indian War, naturally concentrated and united their energies, and evolved, at length, the idea of a more perfect political association.

The causes of the war grew out of the encroachments of the French upon the frontier of the English colonies in America. Such, at least, was the allegation on the part of England. France had established settlements on the St. Lawrence, and at the mouth of the Mississippi, and commenced the gigantic plan of uniting these points by a chain of forts, extending across the continent, and designed to[Pg 215] confine the English colonists to the eastern slope of the Alleghanies. The French possessed considerable military strength in their northern colonies. They had strongly fortified Quebec and Montreal, and, at other points, the frontiers were defended by Louisburg, Cape Breton, and the forts of Lake Champlain, Niagara, Crown Point, Frontenac, and Ticonderoga. And they had, also, a fort of some strength at Du Quesne, now the spot on which Pittsburg is built.

The establishment of French posts on the Ohio, and the attack on Colonel Washington, were declared, by the British government, as the commencement of hostilities. The French, however, allege the intrusion of the Ohio Company upon their territory, as the immediate cause of the war. General Braddock, at the head of fifteen hundred troops, had been despatched to America. On his arrival in Virginia, he requested a convention of colonial governors to meet him there, to confer on the plan of the ensuing campaign. They accordingly met, and three expeditions were resolved upon—one against Du Quesne, to be conducted by General Braddock; one against forts Niagara and Frontenac, to be commanded by Governor Shirley; and one against Crown Point, to be led by General Johnson. The last-named expedition was a measure proposed by Massachusetts, and was to be executed by troops raised in New England and New York. In the mean time, a fourth expedition, which had been previously concerted, was carried on against the French forts in Nova Scotia. This province, it seems, after its cession to the English, by the treaty of Utrecht, was still retained, in part, by the French, as its boundaries were not defined. They had built forts on a portion of it which the English claimed. To gain possession of these, was the object of the expedition. About two thousand militia, under Monckton and Winslow, embarked at Boston, on the 20th of May, 1755; and, having been joined by three hundred regulars, when they had arrived at Chignecto, on the Bay of Fundy, they proceeded against[Pg 216] Beau Sejour, now the principal post of the French in that country.

This place they invested and took possession of, after a bombardment of a few days. Other forts were afterwards attacked and taken, and the whole province was secured to the British, according to their idea of its proper boundaries.

The military operations at the South, during this time, proved to be disastrous in the extreme. One of the most signal defeats took place in Virginia, that the annals of American history have recorded. It had been a total loss of a large army (large for the colonial warfare), but for the prudence and valor of our youthful Fabius, George Washington. He saved a portion of it, while the whole was exposed to utter annihilation, through the pride and ill-calculating policy of its leader. General Braddock was not wanting in valor, or in the knowledge of European tactics; but he little understood the proper mode of meeting Indian warfare, and had the greater misfortune of unwillingness to receive advice from subordinates in office.

The object of the expedition under Braddock, was the reduction of Fort du Quesne. At the head of two thousand men, he commenced his march; but, as it was deemed an object of great importance to reach the fort before it could be rëinforced, he marched forward with twelve hundred men, selected from the different corps, with ten pieces of cannon, and the necessary ammunition and provisions. The remainder of the army was left under the command of Colonel Dunbar, to follow with the heavy artillery, by moderate and easy marches.

Washington, who was his aid, and well acquainted with the peculiarities of Indian warfare, foresaw the danger which was impending, and ventured to suggest the propriety of employing a body of Indians, who had offered their services. These, had the commander seen fit to accept the advice, would have proved serviceable to him as scouting and advanced parties. Or had he, as was[Pg 217] also suggested to him, as a matter of safety, placed the provincial troops in his army in front, he would have avoided the danger. These troops, consisting of independent and ranging companies, accustomed to such services, would have scoured the woods and morasses, and guarded against an ambuscade. Despising the enemy, undervaluing the colonial troops, and confiding only in his own valor and the splendid array of his well-drilled British regulars, he fearlessly pursued his way. The natural and necessary impediments were many, and he did not reach the Monongahela until the 8th of July. The next day he expected to invest the fort, and in the morning he made a disposition of his forces, in accordance with that expectation. His van, consisting of three hundred British regulars, was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Gage, and he followed, at some distance, with the artillery and main body of his men, divided into small columns.

"Washington had the day before rëjoined the army, from which he had been a short time detained by severe illness. It was noon on the 9th of July, when, from the height above the right bank of the Monongahela, he looked upon the ascending army, which, ten miles from Fort Du Quesne, had just crossed the stream for the second time. Every thing looked more bright and beautiful than aught he had ever witnessed before. The companies in their crimson uniform, with burnished arms and floating banners, were marching gayly to cheerful music as they entered the forest."

But soon and suddenly, how changed the scene! How many exulting soldiers that entered the forest, were destined never to emerge from it, into the light of day! How many hearts that were throbbing with hope at the prospect of an easy victory, were to be hushed for ever! Heedless of danger, Braddock pressed forward, the distance of seven miles only still intervening between his army and the contemplated place of action. Suddenly, in an open wood, thick set with high grass, there burst upon them the Indian war-whoop and a fierce fire from an unseen enemy on[Pg 218] every side. A momentary confusion and panic ensued—many fell, and, the ranks being broken, there was danger of an ignominious flight. None could at first tell who might be or where lurked the foe that was dealing death at so fearful a rate. Braddock, however, rallied his forces, but mistakingly deemed it necessary to fight, even under these circumstances, according to European tactics, and to preserve a regular order of battle. Thus he kept his soldiers in compact masses, as fair marks for the Indian bullet or arrow, without the possibility of effectually meeting the foe. At this critical moment, personal valor was of no avail. Discipline and art, combined action, and orderly movement, brought not the enemy where he could be foiled. There was, indeed, a momentary suspension of the fight, resulting from the fall of the commanding officer of the foe, but the attack was quickly renewed with increased fury—the van fell back on the main army, and the whole body was again thrown into confusion. Had an instant retreat, or a rapid charge without observance of orderly military movements been commanded, the result might have been very different. But Braddock, too ignorant of the right course, or too bigoted to the European method of battle, refused to adopt either expedient. Continually fired upon, and losing his brave men by scores, he still made efforts to form his broken and wasting troops on the very spot where they were first attacked, thus bringing the living to supply the places of the dead, and offering needlessly, and without any countervailing advantage, successive holocausts to the demon of battle.

The enemy was small in numbers, and hardly calculated on the possibility of defeating the English army. Annoyance and delay, seemed to be all that they expected to accomplish; but permitted securely, in the two ravines on each side of the road where they were concealed, to fire upon the English, they could but triumph. The Indians, taking leisurely aim at the officers, swept them from the field, and all but Washington were either killed or wounded.[Pg 219] He, as aid to Braddock, was peculiarly exposed, as he rode over every part of the field to carry the general's orders. Indeed, the sharp-shooters endeavored to take him off, as well as the rest, but he was providentially preserved. No instrument of death might be wielded with effect upon him. The superstitious Indians were struck by the phenomenon of his escape, and concluded that he was not to be killed. One of them afterwards averred that he shot at him seventeen times in succession, and was forced to yield to the conviction that he was invulnerable. At the close of the battle, four bullets were found in his coat, and it was known that two horses had been killed under him.

Braddock's Defeat.

Braddock's Defeat.

After an action of three hours, General Braddock, who had fearlessly breasted the vollies of the enemy, and had lost successively three horses from under him, received a mortal wound. His troops no longer maintained their position, but fled in terror and dismay. The provincials remained last on the field, and effected an orderly retreat, protecting, at the same time, the regulars in their flight.[Pg 220] The defeat was most signal, and the loss of life appalling. The proud army, at the close of the contest, counted but one-half of its entire number. Sixty-four officers were killed and wounded. The remains of the English forces sought their companions under Dunbar, forty miles distant. Braddock could proceed no farther, and there expired. The army, with Dunbar for its leader, was soon after marched to Philadelphia, where it found its winter-quarters. Thus, in the fatal results of that expedition, the whole frontier of Virginia was left exposed to the French and Indians.

Of the enterprise against Niagara and Fort Frontenac, it may suffice to say, that it utterly failed. We proceed, therefore, to that against Crown Point, the rendezvous for which was at Albany. On the last of June (1755), four thousand troops arrived at Albany, under the command of General William Johnson and General Lyman. Here the sachem Hendrick joined them with a body of his Mohawks. As a portion of the troops, together with the artillery, batteaux, provisions, and other necessaries for the attempt on Crown Point, could not be immediately got ready, General Lyman advanced with the main body, and erected Fort Edward, on the Hudson, for the security of the apparatus above named, which was to be forwarded by Johnson.

Towards the end of August, General Johnson moved his forces forward more northerly, and pitched his camp at the south end of Lake George. Here he learned that two thousand French and Indians, under the command of Baron Dieskau, had landed at South bay, now Whitehall, and were marching toward Fort Edward for the purpose of destroying the English transports and munitions of war. It was resolved the next morning, in a council of war, to send out a large detachment of men to intercept Dieskau's army on its way. To perform this service, Colonel Ephraim Williams, of Deerfield, was appointed, at the head of twelve hundred troops, two hundred of whom were Indians. Dieskau, who was an able commander, had made an advantageous disposition to receive the English. While he kept[Pg 221] the main body of his regulars with him in the center, he ordered the Canadians and Indians to advance on the right and left in the woods, with a view to surround their opponents. When the American troops had arrived considerably within the ambuscade, the Mohawk sachem, Hendrick, who had been sent out too late with his band, was hailed by a hostile Indian, and instantly there commenced a sharp fire. This brought on the action sooner than was intended by Dieskau, who had ordered his flanking parties to reserve their fire till the firing should proceed from the center. It was his design to let the English troops get completely inclosed before the firing commenced, in which case there would have been an entire defeat of the English. The discharge of arms necessarily became general, after the flanking parties had begun; but the advantage was altogether on the side of the ambuscaders. The provincials fought bravely, but finding that they were in danger of being hemmed in from every quarter, they were obliged to retreat. The loss of the Americans was considerable. Colonel Williams was killed. Hendrick and a number of his Indians, who fought with great intrepidity, were left dead on the field. The retreating troops joined the main body, and waited the approach of their now exulting assailants.[25]

It was nearly noon when the enemy appeared in sight of Johnson's army. The battle of Lake George, which was the consequence of their meeting, occurred on the 8th of September. The American army was encamped on the banks of that lake, and covered each side of a low thick morass. To form a sort of breastwork, trees had been felled, and this was his only cover against an attack. It happened most favorably that, two days before, General Johnson had received several cannon from Fort Edward. The enemy marched up in front of the breastwork within the distance of one hundred and fifty yards. Soon the grand and central attack was commenced, while the[Pg 222] English flanks were beset by the Canadians and Indians. The distant platoon fire of the French did but little execution; and the English, summoning resolution, entered with increased spirit upon the defence of their position. Working their artillery with vigor, they compelled the Indians and Canadian militia to flee into the swamps. Dieskau, under these circumstances, was forced to order a retreat. It was not effected with much success, as his troops were thrown into irrecoverable disorder, and their flight was hastened by a party pursuing them from the English camp. The baron met the frequent fate of war—he received his death-wound from a soldier, who, meeting him alone, mistook a movement on the part of the general, which was intended as propitiatory, for an attempt at self-defence, and discharged his piece at him. He was feeling for his watch to give to the soldier. His wound proved fatal, but not until he had reached England.

Battle of Lake George.

Battle of Lake George.

When the baron's army halted, after its retreat or flight, it happened, just as they were about to take refreshment, that[Pg 223] two hundred men of the New Hampshire forces, which had been detached from Fort Edward to the aid of the main body, fell upon the French, and put many of them to the sword. Their dead bodies were thrown into a small lake, which, from this circumstance, was afterwards called "the bloody pond."

The spirits of the colonists, which had been so depressed by Braddock's defeat, were greatly revived, but the issue of the battle of Lake George was not otherwise beneficial. The success was by no means followed up according to the expectations of the country. No further effort at this time was made to reduce Crown Point; but the remainder of the campaign was employed by Johnson only in strengthening the works at Fort Edward, and erecting on the site of the battle a fort, which he called William Henry.

Johnson, in his official letter respecting the engagement, makes no mention of General Lyman, although the latter held the command most of the day, as Johnson was wounded early in the action. This was an instance of ingratitude and selfishness highly unbecoming a soldier, especially as the consideration bestowed on himself was a baronetcy and five thousand pounds sterling.

The campaign of 1756, the year in which the public declaration of war was made, makes but an indifferent figure in American history. Expeditions against Niagara, Crown Point, Fort Du Quesne, and other places, were projected; but they severally failed. On the other hand, before the close of the summer, the Marquis de Montcalm, an efficient officer, who succeeded Dieskau, with a large force of regulars, Canadians, and Indians, took the important fort of Oswego, on the south side of Lake Ontario, which gave him the command of the lakes Ontario and Erie, and of the entire country of the Five Nations. Sixteen hundred men were taken prisoners; Colonel Mercer, the commanding officer, was killed, and the loss in cannon, mortars, batteaux, and other military resources, was great.

Destruction of Kittaning.

Destruction of Kittaning.

During this unfortunate year, a single military adventure[Pg 224] on the confines of Pennsylvania, shows that the colonists were not insensible to the Indian depredations, and to the duty of attempting to repress them. Fort Granby, in that state, was surprised by a party of French and Indians, who made the garrison prisoners. Departing, in this instance, from their usual custom of killing and scalping the captives, they loaded them with flour, and thus drove them into the wilderness. In another quarter, the Indians on the Ohio barbarously killed, in their incursions, above a thousand inhabitants of the western frontiers. To avenge this outrageous conduct, Colonel Armstrong, with a party of two hundred and eighty provincials, marched from Fort Shirley, on the Juniata river, about one hundred and fifty miles west of Philadelphia, to Kittaning, an Indian town, the rendezvous of these murdering savages, and destroyed it. An Indian chief, called Captain Jacobs, defended himself through loop-holes of his log cabin. As the Indians refused the quarter which was offered them, Colonel Armstrong gave orders to set their houses on fire. This was at once[Pg 225] executed, and many of the Indians perished by the flames and suffocation. Numbers were shot in attempting to reach the river. Jacobs, his squaw, and a boy called the king's son, were fired upon as they were attempting to escape out of the window, and were all killed and scalped. It is computed that between thirty and forty Indians were destroyed in this attack. Eleven English prisoners were also released.

On this occasion, a Captain Mercer was wounded, and conveyed away by his ensign and eleven men. He afterwards returned safe with twenty-three men, and four released prisoners. He is believed to be the distinguished General Mercer of the United States army, who died of wounds received in the battle of Princeton in 1776.[26]

The campaign of the succeeding year, 1757, is chiefly memorable in our annals for the dreadful massacre of the English at Fort William Henry, on the 9th of August, and which deserves a particular recital. Fort William Henry was commanded at this time by Colonel Monroe, a British officer. Being vigorously pressed, and unable to obtain assistance from General Webb, who was at Fort Edward with the main army, and having burst many of his guns and mortars, and expended most of his ammunition, he had no alternative but to surrender. By the capitulation which was signed, the troops were allowed to retain their arms, and as a protection against the Indians, were to receive an escort for their march to Fort Edward. Soon after, a detachment of the French army took possession of the fort. At the same time, the Indians, impatient for plunder and blood, rushed over the parapets, and were ready for operations. Colonel Monroe, perceiving their object, and dreading to remain within the camp exposed to their cupidity and vengeance, gave orders for marching about midnight. Preparations accordingly were made, but it was found that a large body of Indians was on the road[Pg 226] with a view to intercept his march. Safety, therefore, did not permit them to leave the camp.

Early in the morning they began their march, but their situation was worse now than it had been before, with the savages threatening and prowling around them. Armed with tomahawks or other instruments of death, they filled the woods, and commenced their work of plunder and butchery upon the retreating British. Monroe complained to the French commander, and demanded the promised escort. This was not furnished, probably, as the French themselves feared the Indians; but the British were advised to yield to the former their private property, as the means of appeasing the foe, and saving life. This was very generally done, but it produced no effect, except to increase their rapacity. Whatever was withheld, they seized, and many were stripped almost entirely of their clothing, and some even to nudity. They rushed upon the sick and wounded, whom they killed and scalped; the negroes, mulattoes, and friendly Indians, were then dragged from the ranks, and shared the same fate. The English troops, under these circumstances, did as they could, until they reached a French guard on the way. They were followed by the insulting, robbing, and murdering savages. "The women accompanying the troops, unable to resist, were seized, their throats cut, their bodies ripped open, and their bowels torn out, and thrown in their faces; the children were taken by the heels, and their brains dashed out against the rocks and trees; and it is stated that many of the savages drank the heart's blood of their victims, as it flowed reeking from the horrid wounds."

General Webb, on receiving intelligence of the capitulation, ordered five hundred men to meet the captured troops, and conduct them to his camp; but, to his surprise, instead of meeting the escort, he found the captives flying, through the woods singly, or in small groups, some distracted, and many bleeding with dreadful wounds, faint, and in a state of exhaustion. The whole number[Pg 227] massacred and carried off, was probably not far from three hundred.

The ill successes and losses of several campaigns now roused the people, both in the parent-country and in the provinces, to the consideration of more vigorous measures, under more able men. Accordingly, William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, the greatest statesman of modern ages, was brought forward at the present crisis, and infused his own ardent and decisive spirit into the national counsels. He sympathized with his trans-Atlantic brethren, and assured them, in a circular which he addressed to the governors of the provinces, that an effectual force should be sent against the French the next year, to operate both by sea and land. In connection with such a force, they were expected to raise their full quotas of troops, according to the number of the inhabitants. Animated by the favorable change in the parent-country, the government of Massachusetts voted seven thousand men, Connecticut five thousand, and New Hampshire three thousand, and the troops were ready for service in the early part of the year (1758). An armament of twelve thousand troops having been sent out from England, commanded by General Amherst, and the British forces already in America, added to the number of soldiers raised by the colonies, constituted an army far greater than had been before seen on this side of the ocean.

The expeditions proposed for the year were three—the first against Louisburg, the second against Ticonderoga, and Crown Point, and the third against Fort Du Quesne. The feelings of resentment against the enemy were strong, and the colonists engaged heartily in the movements; for Canada was filled, so to speak, "with prisoners and scalps, private plunder, and public stores and provisions, which our people, as beasts of burden, had conveyed to them." The enterprise against Louisburg was conducted by the land and naval commanders, Amherst and Boscawen, with twenty ships of the line, and fourteen thousand men. As the British minister had in view the absolute extinction of[Pg 228] the French power in America, it was of the highest importance to take Louisburg, as a key to the possession of the capital of Canada.

The armament arrived before the place on the 2d of June. The commander of the garrison, the Chevalier de Drucourt, was an officer of experience and courage. His force, however, was not large, consisting of twenty-five hundred regulars, and six hundred militia. But the harbor was so strongly secured, that it was found necessary to land the English forces at some distance from the town. The landing was effected with difficulty, though with little loss. General James Wolfe, who then commenced his distinguished military career, was detached with two thousand men to seize a post occupied by the enemy at the Light-house point, from which the ships in the harbor and the fortifications in the town might be greatly harassed. The post was abandoned on the approach of Wolfe, and very strong batteries were erected there. Approaches were also made on the opposite side of the town, and the siege was urged with skill and vigor. The cannonade kept up against the town and the ships in the harbor was so effective, that there seemed to be little prospect of defending the place, and the government offered to capitulate Louisburg, with all its artillery, (two hundred and twenty-one pieces of cannon and eighteen mortars,) and a very large quantity of stores and ammunition; as also the Island Royal, St. John's, and their dependencies, were surrendered to the English. The speedy result was also the entire possession of the island of Cape Breton. The loss to the garrison was upwards of fifteen hundred men—to the assailants, about four hundred killed and wounded. In England, the trophies of the victory were publicly exhibited, and the event was religiously noticed in all the churches. In New England the joy was great, and the victory there also commemorated with public thanksgivings.[27]

Of the second expedition, under General Abercrombie,[Pg 229] against Ticonderoga, it may suffice to say, that, notwithstanding its strength, numbering fifteen thousand troops, with a formidable train of artillery and the usual appliances, it utterly failed, through the unskilfulness and rashness of Abercrombie himself. Fort Frontenac, however, on the return of the army from their dépôt, was besieged and captured. The success of this last enterprise prepared the way for the reduction of Fort Du Quesne, the third object of the campaign of 1758. This expedition was entrusted to General Forbes. The fort, however, was found to have been abandoned by the French and Indians. It was now taken possession of by the English, who named it Pittsburg, in compliment to the British minister. Upon this event, the Indian tribes on the Ohio submitted to the English. The gloom which spread over the colonies by the defeat at Ticonderoga, was, in a measure, dissipated by the successes of Amherst and Forbes.

For the campaign of 1759, three expeditions were proposed—one against Ticonderoga and Crown Point, to be conducted by Amherst—a second against Niagara, under Prideaux—and a third against Quebec, to be conducted by General Wolfe.

On the 22d of July, Amherst, in accordance with the above plan, invested Ticonderoga with twelve thousand provincials and regulars, and soon succeeded in capturing that important fortress. Following this, the village of St. Francis, situated at the mouth of the river of that name was destroyed.

Destruction of the village of St. Francis.

Destruction of the village of St. Francis.

It had been the resort of Indian robbers and murderers, where were deposited the scalps and plundered goods of hundreds of hapless Englishmen. It was taken and destroyed by a party under Major Rogers, after a series of adventures and hair-breadth escapes, which have more the appearance of romance than reality. There was a general conflagration of the cabins, and out of three hundred inhabitants, two hundred were killed, twenty women and children captured, and five English prisoners in the village set free.

[Pg 230]

The army destined against Niagara, was composed principally of provincials, rëinforced by a strong body of friendly Indians. It was placed under the command of General Prideaux, who commenced the siege of the place on the 6th of July. While directing the operations of the place, he was killed by the bursting of a shell. The command of the army then fell upon Sir William Johnson, who prosecuted the enterprise with judgment and vigor. The French, alarmed at the prospect of losing a post which formed the communication between Canada and Louisiana, in the mean while, made a strenuous effort to raise the siege, by collecting a large body of troops from several neighboring garrisons. These were brought, on the morning of the 24th, in battle array against the besiegers, ushered in by the horrible sound of the Indian war-whoop. The French charged with great impetuosity, but the English maintained their ground, and eventually repulsed them with signal slaughter. The fate of Niagara was now decided. The next day a capitulation was signed, and this portion of the country fell into the hands of the English.

[Pg 231]

The grand enterprise for the reduction of Quebec was entrusted, as already noticed, to the gallant and accomplished Wolfe, who sailed from Halifax early in the season, and near the last of June landed the whole army on the island of Orleans, a few miles below Quebec. Here the sight presented to him of the formidable position and works of the enemy by no means served to encourage expectations of success. But his resolution and desire of victory overcame every other sentiment.



"The city of Quebec rose before him upon the north side of the St. Lawrence; its upper town and strong fortifications situated on a rock, whose bold and steep front continued far westward parallel with the river, its base near the shore; thus presenting a wall which it seemed impossible to scale. From the north-west came down the St. Charles, entering the St. Lawrence just below the town, its banks high and uneven, and cut by deep ravines; while armed vessels were borne upon its waters, and floating batteries obstructed its entrance. A few miles below, the Montmorenci leaped down the cataract into the St. Lawrence;[Pg 232] and strongly posted along the sloping banks of that river, and between these two tributaries, the French army, commanded by Montcalm, displayed its formidable lines."

We necessarily pass over several ineffectual attempts of Wolfe to draw Montcalm from his strong intrenchments into a general engagement, during which, and in consequence of excitement under their repeated failure, he fell sick. When, however, he had so far recovered as to assume the command, a plan was proposed to him by his generals for getting possession of the heights in the rear of the city, where it was but slightly fortified. Could the steep acclivity of rocks be surmounted, they would be able to reach the level plain above, called the Heights of Abraham. The plan was altogether congenial to the feelings of the commander-in-chief, and was put into execution with judgment and vigor.

In pursuance of this plan, Wolfe broke up his camp at Montmorenci, near the falls of that name, and returned to the island of Orleans, where he first disembarked. From that spot he determined to push his daring enterprise. Embarking himself and army on board of the fleet, he directed Admiral Holmes to sail up the river several miles higher than the intended point of debarkation, making occasional demonstrations of a design to land troops. That being accomplished, during the night a strong detachment in flat-bottomed boats fell down with the tide, to a point about a mile above the city. The shelving beach, the high precipitous banks, and the only path by which the place could be scaled, being defended by a captain's guard and a battery of four guns, all rendered the landing and ascent of the heights, on the part of the English, a work of amazing difficulty; yet it was effected, Wolfe himself being one of the first who leaped on shore.

The whole plan had well nigh been defeated at the water's edge, for one of the sentinels hailed. But being answered by a captain in Frazier's regiment, who fully understood the French language, and had been expressly instructed for[Pg 233] the purpose, the latter was suffered to pass. The sentinel, from the answers given, (for the English were twice interrogated,) concluded at once that this was a French convoy of provisions, which was expected to pass down the river to Quebec. This the English had learned from some deserters. Escaping this difficulty, they commenced their arduous and perilous task. The Highlanders and light infantry, under the command of General Howe, led the way up the fearful precipice, which was one hundred and fifty or two hundred feet high, an almost perpendicular ascent. They clambered up by the aid of the projection of rocks, and the limbs of trees and shrubs growing on the cliffs. They first drove away the guard, and seized the battery. The rest of the troops pressed on in the difficult and confined path, and, by day-break, the whole army was planted firmly on the plains of Abraham.

Montcalm, taken by surprise at this unexpected scaling of the heights, was forced to abandon his strong position, and come to an engagement. For this purpose, he crossed the St. Charles, and drew up his army in battle array. This being perceived by Wolfe, a corresponding movement was made on the part of the English, and the disposition of the troops was such as to meet the masterly arrangements of Montcalm. The battle was commenced by the French, a portion of whose army, consisting of fifteen hundred Indians and Canadians, who were excellent marksmen, advanced in front for this purpose. Screened by surrounding thickets, they aimed with fatal effect at many of the British officers, but this lasted only a short time. The main body of the French now advancing, the principal struggle came on in all its fury. The English, reserving their fire until within forty yards of the enemy's line, then made terrible havoc among them by a general discharge. This fire was vigorously maintained until the French yielded to it. General Wolfe exposed himself in front of his battalion, as also did Montcalm before his, and both officers paid the price of their bravery. They were in the sections of the two[Pg 234] armies, where the battle was most severe, and both fell mortally wounded, not far from the same time. There was another striking coincidence—they who succeeded them in command in either army, also fell wounded—the Frenchman mortally. When Wolfe fell, he was pressing on at the head of his grenadiers with fixed bayonets. It was the third time that he had received a wound; a ball had now pierced his breast. The respective armies continued in their strife, as if nothing had happened. After Wolfe and Monckton had been laid aside, Townsend assumed the command, and the British grenadiers pressed on with their bayonets. The center of the French army was soon broken by the brisk advance of General Murray. The Highlanders with their broad-swords completed the confusion of the enemy, driving them with great slaughter in different directions. A portion of the French army fled into Quebec. The enemy was signally defeated, having lost a thousand men, besides an equal number of prisoners. The loss of the English, in killed and wounded, was less than six hundred.

The necessary preparations were now made by Townsend for the siege of the city; but at the expiration of five days, it was surrendered to the English fleet and army. The capital of Canada, at the time of its capitulation, contained about ten thousand inhabitants, and thus having passed under the dominion of Great Britain, was protected by a garrison of five thousand men, under the command of General Murray.

Wolfe died of his wounds on the field of battle. He manifested "the ruling passion strong in death." As a touching incident in the annals of warfare, scarcely any thing can equal it, unless it may be that which also marked the death of his opponent. He was removed into the rear almost against his consent, that he might be attended to; but while others were expressing their sympathy in his behalf, he was watching the terrific contest with intense anxiety. At length, he could no longer sustain himself, but, faint with[Pg 235] the loss of blood, he leaned on the shoulder of an officer, who kneeled down to support him. The agony of death was now upon him. A cry was heard, "They fly, they fly!" "Who fly?" asked the expiring hero. "The French!" replied his supporter. "Then I die happy!" he said.

Death of Wolfe.

Death of Wolfe.

Montcalm, too, died in a few hours after, having been first conveyed into the city. On being told that his wound was mortal, he expressed his satisfaction at the fact. When further informed that he could survive but a few hours, he replied, "So much the better: I shall not live to see the surrender of Quebec."

The French continued in possession of Canada for a time, notwithstanding the capture of Quebec. Indeed, a second, and more mortal struggle, was soon to be again witnessed on the Heights of Abraham. The main body of the French army, which, after its defeat, retired to Montreal, and which was still formidable, had been rëinforced by six thousand Canadian militia and a body of Indians. With these forces, M. de Levi, the successor of Montcalm, appeared before[Pg 236] Quebec, with the design of besieging the fortress. Murray, whose force had been reduced by the severities of the winter, the want of proper food, from five thousand to three thousand, left his works, and met the French near Sillery, and a severe action took place, in which the advantage was on the side of the French, the English being obliged to retire within the fortress. The loss on both sides was very great, being nearly one thousand each; but the battle was productive of no special results. Levi found it impossible to reduce the place; and the English, receiving rëinforcements after being closely invested for a time, it was concluded by the French commander to abandon the project, and he accordingly returned to Montreal.

As it seemed necessary to try the fortune of another campaign against the enemy, since, notwithstanding the capture of the French posts in 1759, the province still held out against the British arms, General Amherst had made arrangements for assembling before Montreal all the British troops from Lake Ontario, Lake Champlain, and Quebec. The several armies were early in motion, and so accurately had their operations been concerted, that Amherst and Murray reached the vicinity of Montreal on the same day; when Haviland, who commanded a small force from Crown Point, joined them: the next day, Vaudreuil, the governor, finding further resistance vain, demanded a capitulation; and on the 18th of September, 1760, the whole French possessions in Canada, were surrendered to the British power.

The war still continued in Europe, and a few provincial troops were raised in 1761 and 1762; but New England remained exempted from all border hostilities. On the 10th of February, 1763, a general peace was signed at Paris, and soon after ratified by Great Britain and France. This was an era of joy to the colonies. They had experienced no such relief since the commencement of King William's War, in 1689. A few short intervals of peace had indeed been enjoyed, but during nearly eighty years, they were[Pg 237] generally doomed in every exposed point to pillage, captivity, and slaughter. Relieved from their miseries and dangers, they reoccupied their plantations, and new ones were commenced, and population began to spread with rapidity.

It may be added, and it is due to the colonist to add, that they were not unmindful of their obligations to that Being by whose fostering care they had been preserved during so many and so severe trials and privations. They had put their trust in Him, and he had saved them from the hands of their foes. Many had indeed fallen—many had suffered; but now, relieved from foreign invasion and savage butchery, they united in giving God thanks on a day set apart for the purpose, and went on their way rejoicing.

Tailpiece—Peruvian Canoe, &c.

[Pg 238]




Objects proposed in the Settlement of America—Forms of Government conducive to Independence—Influence of Expenses—Colonies obliged to defend themselves, and to defray the Expense of their own Wars and those of the Mother-country—British system of Taxation commenced—Writs of Assistance—Stamp Act—Formidable Opposition to it—Non-importation Act—Arrival of British forces—Boston Massacre—Destruction of the Gaspee—Destruction of Tea—Boston Port Bill—Arrival of General Gage—His obnoxious Measures—Meeting of Congress—Preparations for War—Obstinacy of the King and Parliament—Crisis arrives—Determination of the Colonists.

The Revolution of America was an extraordinary event; and at the time of its occurrence was unlooked for, both by the government and nation of Great Britain. That the colonies had long been dissatisfied with the measures adopted towards them by the parent-country, and that this dissatisfaction was gradually increasing, was well known; but the statesmen on the other side designed, and doubtless supposed,[Pg 239] that they should be able to secure the submission of the colonies to whatever line of policy they might please to adopt.

But they little understood the American character. Had they reflected upon the circumstances in which the colonies originated, and their steady progress in wealth and population, they might well have anticipated the final result. Certain it was, that oppressive and coercive measures would only tend to weaken their affection for the parent-country. Kindness and conciliation might have preserved the bond of union—indeed, it was possible to have confirmed the colonies in their regard for the land of their birth; but the line of policy which could alone have effected that object, was overlooked or disregarded by British statesmen; and through their infatuated counsels, they hastened the very event which they so much deplored.

Let us advert to some of the remote and proximate causes, which brought about this Revolution:

1. Objects proposed by the colonies in their settlement of America.—

At the era of the Revolution, thirteen colonies had been planted. These were Virginia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. Virginia, the first, was settled in 1607, and Georgia, the last, in 1732. Different objects were proposed in the establishment of the different colonies. The leading object of some was pecuniary profit. They were induced, either by associated or individual proprietors, who themselves remained in England, to come to America, with the hope of profitable returns for the advance of their capital. But the more northern colonies came on their own concern, at their own expense, and with reference to the enjoyment of freedom and peace in religion, which they could not find at home.

Now, was it to be expected that those who had left home, and all its endearments, for the sake of enjoying a larger[Pg 240] liberty, would consent to have that liberty abridged, especially after having tasted its blessings for years? If the Pilgrim Fathers had such notions themselves, was it to be supposed that their children would cherish less manly and patriotic sentiments? The spirit of liberty does not easily die, where there is aliment to keep it alive. The blood of freemen, or those who aspire to freedom, instead of becoming weaker, as it flows down in successive generations, usually becomes more pure and more excitable. This was verified in the history of the colonies, anterior to the Revolution. They were men of whom the principles of liberty had taken strong hold. Their distance from the mother-country—her neglect of them—the exercise of civil and religious freedom for a number of years—all served to excite and strengthen a desire for independence. Such an event was the natural result of the principles with which the colonies began their career. It was the natural result of the physical courage and strength acquired in felling forests, resisting savages, and in carrying out those plans and enterprises in which a young, ardent, and ambitious people are likely to engage.

2. Their forms of government were conducive to independence.

In the settlement of the colonies, three forms of government were established. These were usually denominated Charter, Proprietary, and Royal governments. The difference arose from the different circumstances under which the colonies were settled, as well as the different objects of the first emigrants. The Charter governments were confined to New England. The Proprietary governments were those of Maryland, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, and the Jerseys. The others were royal governments, or those which were immediately under the British crown.[28]

As early as 1619, only twelve years from its settlement,[Pg 241] a provincial legislature, in which the colonists were represented, was introduced into Virginia. In Plymouth and in Massachusetts, the colonies organized their body, politic and social, upon principles of perfect equality. And, as the Puritans spread themselves over New England, they gave to the distinct communities which they established, constitutions still more democratic. In January, 1639, three years from the commencement of the Connecticut colony, the planters on Connecticut river convened at Hartford, and formed a system of government which continued, with scarcely any alterations, to the year 1818. Of this system, Dr. Trumbull observes: "With such wisdom did our venerable ancestors provide for the freedom and liberties of themselves and their posterity. Thus happily did they guard against every encroachment on the rights of the subject. This, probably, is one of the most free and happy constitutions of civil government ever formed. The formation of it, at so early a period, when the light of liberty was wholly darkened in most parts of the world, and the rights of man were so little understood in others, does great honor to their ability, integrity, and love of freedom."

In Maryland and Pennsylvania, the first assemblies established a popular representation, and in all their political regulations proceeded upon broad views of civil freedom. The same remark, says Mr. Walsh, may be extended to the Carolinas and New York.

The very first principles, then, of the colonists in relation to government were anti-monarchical. In their incipient colonial state, they had the feelings of freemen; and all their institutions, as far as they were allowed to carry them, spoke of liberty and equality.

This spirit was never lost to the colonies. In the variety of fortune which they subsequently encountered—in every change of monarch abroad—in every shift of rulers at home—through royal smiles and royal frowns—in times of war and in times of peace—their love of liberty continued unabated, and even increased. Thus early began those[Pg 242] sentiments of freedom and independence which, uniting in their course with other streams, ended at length in a deep, broad, irresistible current against British oppression.

3. Influence of the expenses incurred by the colonies in their settlements, and in their several wars and those of the mother-country.

"All the thirteen colonies," says Mr. Walsh, "with the exception of Georgia, were established, and had attained to considerable strength, without the slightest aid from the treasury of the mother-country."

Neither the crown nor the parliament paid a dollar towards purchasing the soil of the Indians—the original masters of that soil. These purchases were made by the colonists themselves. The settlement of the province of Massachusetts Bay alone cost two hundred thousand pounds—an enormous sum at the era at which it was effected. Lord Baltimore expended forty thousand pounds in his establishment of the colony of Maryland. On that of Virginia, immense wealth was lavished by the first settlers. The first planters of Connecticut consumed great estates in purchasing lands of the Indians and in making settlements.

In like manner, when assailed by fierce and warlike tribes, the mother-country furnished no aid whatever—neither troops nor money. She erected no fortifications; entered into no negotiations, and manifested no sympathy, or even interest, in the fate of her offspring. Some of the most considerable Indian wars in which the colonies were involved, were the immediate result of the rashness and cupidity of the royal governors. That, for instance, which is styled 'King William's War'—memorable in the annals of New Hampshire particularly—was owing to a wanton predatory expedition of Andros, in 1688, against the possessions of a French individual, situate between Penobscot and Nova Scotia.

The testimony of Lord Brougham on this subject is[Pg 243] worthy of special notice. In his work on 'Colonial Policy,' he observes:

"The old colonies of North America, besides defraying the whole expenses of their internal administration, were enabled from their situation to render very active assistance to the mother-country upon several occasions, not peculiarly interesting to themselves. They uniformly asserted, that they would never refuse contributions, even for purposes strictly imperial, provided these were constitutionally demanded. Nor did they stop at mere professions of zeal.

"The whole expense of civil government in the British North American colonies, previous to the Revolution, did not amount to eighty thousand pounds sterling, which was paid by the produce of their taxes. The military establishments, the garrisons and the forts in the old colonies, cost the mother-country nothing."

From the foregoing facts, nothing is clearer than that the colonies were obliged, from their earliest existence, to take care of themselves. At first, Great Britain thought little of them, and cared, if possible, still less. They were obliged to repel hostile tribes without aid, and defend themselves against the aggressions of more civilized powers. And, moreover, they were compelled to carry on not only their own wars, but those of the mother-country, and then pay the expenses.

It may well be asked, what was the natural and almost necessary consequence of such treatment? Keep a child in leading-strings, and it will be long ere it walks. Teach him to walk early, and he will soon decline your aid. Let a father send forth his son to take care of himself, and perchance the next he hears of him, he will learn that his fortune is made, and no longer will he wish for parental assistance; and fortunate will it be if the son, under a sense of former parental indifference and unkindness, does not, at length, feel a correspondent alienation from the parent.

But whether these illustrations are apposite or not, certain it is, that the colonists at length learned the important fact,[Pg 244] that they could take care of themselves. To this they had been driven. The next natural feeling to this superiority over the difficulties and trials which they encountered in their early settlement of the country, was a willingness, and even wish, to be independent of the parent by whom they had been so unkindly neglected. Great Britain might, therefore, thank herself for the spirit of independence which at length appeared among the colonies; her line of policy engendered and matured it.

4. Measures of oppression.

"Within little more than a generation from the commencement of the plantations," says Mr. Walsh, "the royal government began those formal inquiries into their population and manufactures, which were so often renewed, until the period of our revolution." The object or occasion of these inquiries was twofold—a jealousy, lest the colonies should grow too fast; and, secondly, a desire to monopolize, for the benefit of Great Britain, all their trade, and the proceeds of their manufacturing industry.

The various acts of monopoly which passed parliament during a series of years, it is not necessary to particularize. They uniformly bore heavily on the commercial and manufacturing enterprise of the colonies, and were designed "to keep them in a firmer dependence upon England"—"to render them more beneficial and advantageous"—"to employ and increase the English shipping"—"to make a vent for English manufactures."

After the peace of 1763, a still more grinding policy was proposed—that of taxing the colonies, with the avowed purpose of drawing a revenue into the royal exchequer, and on the plausible, yet unwarrantable ground, that Great Britain had contracted a debt in their defence.

Hitherto, when money was wanted in the colonies, the parliament of England had been content to ask for it by a formal requisition upon the colonial legislatures, and they had supplied it with a willing hand. But now, it was[Pg 245] thought that a shorter method of obtaining it might be resorted to with better effect.

Before proceeding to notice the measures adopted with reference to the foregoing object, it is necessary to advert to what were denominated writs of assistance, which were orders issued by the superior court of the province, requiring the sheriffs and other civil officers to assist the person to whom it was granted, in breaking open and searching every place, even private dwellings, if suspected of containing prohibited goods.

The first application for a writ of this kind was made by the deputy collector at Salem in November, 1760. Doubts being expressed by the court as to the legality of the writ, or the power of the court to grant it, the application was deferred to the next term, when the question was to be argued.

At the appointed time, Mr. Gridley, a distinguished lawyer, appeared for the crown; Mr. Thatcher and Mr. Otis for the merchants. The trial took place in the council chamber of the old Town-house in Boston. The judges were five in number, including Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, who presided as chief justice; and the room was filled with all the officers of government and the principal citizens, to hear the arguments in a cause that inspired the deepest solicitude. The case was opened by Mr. Gridley, who argued it with much learning, ingenuity, and dignity; making all his reason depend upon this consideration, "That the parliament of Great Britain was the sovereign legislator of the British empire." He was followed by Mr. Thatcher on the opposite side, whose reasoning was ingenious and able, delivered in a tone of great mildness and moderation. "But," in the language of President Adams, "Otis was a flame of fire; with a promptitude of classical allusion, a depth of research, a rapid summary of historical events and dates, a profusion of legal authorities, a prophetic glance into futurity, and a rapid torrent of impetuous eloquence, he hurried away all before him."

[Pg 246]

"I will to my dying day," said Otis, among other things—"I will to my dying day oppose, with all the power and faculties God has given me, all such instruments of slavery on the one hand and villany on the other. It appears to me the worst instrument of arbitrary power, the most destructive of English liberty, and the fundamental principles of law, that was ever found in an English law-book."

Otis in the Council chamber.

Otis in the Council chamber.

The occasion was intensely exciting—the liberties of the people were in danger—their dwellings, those sanctuaries where every man should feel himself safe, and his effects—all were in jeopardy. And the vast throng gathered on the occasion so thought—especially as their excited feelings became more intense under the thrilling appeals of the eloquent Otis. "Every man of an immensely crowded audience," says President Adams, "appeared to me to go away, as I did, ready to take arms against writs of assistance. Then and there was the first scene of the first act of opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain."

The court postponed a decision of the question until the following term; and in the mean time wrote to Great Britain[Pg 247] for information on the subject. Writs were afterwards granted, but were extremely unpopular. In Connecticut writs of assistance, it is said, were never granted.

The next measure of oppression was the passage of the famous stamp act. Such a project had been suggested during the administrations of Lord Walpole and Mr. Pitt; but they were too sagacious to venture upon a measure at once so odious and unjust. Said Walpole, "I will leave the taxation of America to some of my successors, who may have more courage than I have." And said Pitt, "I will never burn my fingers with an American stamp act." To the successor of Mr. Pitt, Lord Grenville, was reserved the honor, or rather the infamy, of such a project.

When the bill was ushered into the House of Commons, petitions from Virginia, Connecticut, and South Carolina, in every way respectful, but in tone firm and decided, were offered in opposition to it. But the house refused even to receive them, on the ground that the right of parliament to tax the colonies was denied; and, secondly, that it was contrary to a rule of the house "to receive any petition against a money-bill."

The debate therefore proceeded. The chief advocates of the bill were the prime minister and Charles Townshend. In the opposition were Mr. Pitt—who, however, was absent by reason of sickness—General Conway, Alderman Beckford, Colonel Barre, Mr. Jackson, Sir William Meredith, &c. Conway and Beckford opposed the bill on the ground of its injustice; Colonel Barre and others on the ground of its inexpediency. The purpose of the minister, however, was fixed; and, rallying his surprised and half-hesitating troops, he took the question—a large majority expressed in favor of the bill—two hundred and fifty for, and fifty against it. On its coming into the House of Lords, it received the entire concurrence of that body, and on the 22d of March obtained the royal assent.

This act, so celebrated in the annals of American history, both as an act of flagrant injustice, on the part of the British[Pg 248] parliament, and one of the proximate causes of the Revolution, consisted of fifty-five specific duties, laid on as many different species of instruments, in which paper was used; such as notes, bonds, mortgages, deeds, university degrees, licenses, advertisements in newspapers, and even almanacs; varying from one half-penny up to six pounds. As an illustration of the heavy burdens designed to be put upon the colonies by this act, it may be stated, that previous to the passage of the act, a ream of common printed bailbonds cost fifteen pounds—stamped, one hundred. A ream of stamped policies of insurance amounted to one hundred and ninety pounds—of common ones, without stamps, twenty. A piece of paper, or parchment, used as a diploma, or certificate of a degree taken in any university, academy, or college, was taxed two pounds. For a piece of paper for a license for retailing spirituous liquors, twenty shillings were demanded. For one for a license for selling wine only, four pounds; for wine and spirituous liquors, three pounds. For letters of probate, administration, or guardianship, ten shillings. For a common deed, conveying not exceeding one hundred acres of land, one shilling and sixpence. For a newspaper, containing half a sheet or less, one half-penny; one sheet, one penny. Pamphlets, one shilling per sheet. Advertisements, two shillings each. Almanacs, fourpence.

This act was ordered to take effect on the following 1st of November. Meanwhile, the people in various parts of the country were anxious to express their detestation of the measure, which the lapse of a few months was to bring into operation. One day in the month of August, the effigy of Andrew Oliver, the proposed distributor of stamps in Massachusetts, was found hanging on a tree, afterwards well known by the name of Liberty-tree, in the main street of Boston. At night it was taken down, and carried on a bier amidst the acclamations of an immense collection of people through the court-house, down King street, to a small brick building, supposed to have been erected for the reception of the detested stamps. This building being soon levelled[Pg 249] with the ground, the rioters next attacked Mr. Oliver's house; and having broken the windows, entered it, and destroyed part of the furniture.

Procession with an Effigy and Stamp-master at Boston.

Procession with an Effigy and Stamp-master at Boston.

The house of Benjamin Hallowell, jun., comptroller of the customs, was next entered; and, elevated and emboldened by liquors found in his cellar, the mob, with inflamed rage, directed their course to the house of Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, who, after vainly attempting resistance, was constrained to depart, to save his life. By four in the morning, one of the best houses in the province was completely in ruins, nothing remaining but the bare walls and floors. The plate, family pictures, most of the furniture, the wearing apparel, about nine hundred pounds sterling, and the manuscripts and books which Mr. Hutchinson had been thirty years collecting, besides many public papers in his custody, were either carried off or destroyed. The whole damage was estimated at two thousand five hundred pounds.

[Pg 250]

Attack, on the Governor's House.

Attack, on the Governor's House.

On the arrival of the 1st of November, on which the stamp act was to go into effect, the day was ushered in at Boston by the tolling of the bells; many shops and stores were shut, and effigies of the authors and friends of that act were carried about the streets, and afterwards torn in pieces by the populace.

Nor was Massachusetts alone; the obnoxious act received similar treatment in the other colonies. On the 24th of August, a gazette was published at Providence, with vox Populi, vox Dei, for a motto; effigies were exhibited, and in the evening cut down and burned. In Portsmouth, New Castle, and other places, the bells were tolled to denote the decease of Liberty. In Connecticut, Mr. Ingersoll, the stamp-master, was compelled to resign. The spirit manifested in New York produced a similar resignation. Offended with the conduct of Lieutenant-Governor Colden, in relation to the stamp act, many of the inhabitants assembled one evening, and breaking open his coach-house, took[Pg 251] out his coach, which, with his effigy, they burned, amid the acclamations of several thousand spectators.

Burning of the Coach and Effigy of Governor Colden.

Burning of the Coach and Effigy of Governor Colden.

In Philadelphia, on the appearance of the ships having the stamps on board, all the ships in the harbor hoisted their colors half-mast high; the bells were muffled, and continued to toll till evening. Similar demonstrations of dissatisfaction were made in numerous other places.

The opposition to the stamp act was so universal and so formidable, as to prevent all hope of its successful operation; had this measure been persisted in, the Revolution in America would doubtless have dated at an earlier day.

Fortunately for the American colonies, the administration of Lord Grenville terminated in July, 1765—that minister being succeeded by the Marquis of Rockingham, while the Duke of Grafton and General Conway were made secretaries of state.

To this new ministry it early became apparent that, in respect to the colonies, a crisis was now at hand; either existing measures must be relaxed, or a resort must be had[Pg 252] to arms. The former being deemed the wiser plan, a repeal of the stamp act was moved in parliament, and, on the 18th of March, passed the House by a majority of two hundred and seventy-five to one hundred and sixty-seven. In the House of Lords, the majority was one hundred and five to seventy-one.

In America, the intelligence of the repeal was received with acclamations of the most sincere and heart-felt gratitude, by all classes of people. Public thanksgivings were offered up in all the churches. The resolutions, which had been passed on the subject of importations, were rescinded, and their trade with the mother-country was immediately renewed with increased vigor. The home-spun dresses were given to the poor, and once more the colonists appeared clad in the produce of British looms.

In July, 1766, the Marquis of Rockingham retired from the cabinet, and a new ministry was formed under the direction of William Pitt—the Duke of Grafton being placed at the head of the treasury, and Charles Townshend made chancellor of the exchequer. In May, 1767, the latter revived the scheme of taxing America, proposing to impose duties on glass, paper, tea, &c., imported into the colonies. The bill passed both houses without much opposition, the Earl of Chatham being confined at that time by sickness.

The news of this measure, on reaching America, produced the greatest possible excitement. Counter-measures were immediately proposed. Resort was had, as at a former day, to non-importation, the effects of which had been so severely felt by the traders in England, under the stamp act. Boston, as before, took the lead. At a town-meeting, held in October, it was voted that measures should be immediately taken to promote the establishment of domestic manufactories, by encouraging the consumption of all articles of American manufacture. They also agreed to purchase no articles of foreign growth or manufacture, but such as were absolutely indispensable. New York and Philadelphia soon followed the example of Boston; and, in[Pg 253] a short time, the merchants themselves entered into associations to import nothing from Great Britain but articles that necessity required.

Several events, about this time, served to increase the excitement of the colonies, especially in Boston. Among these may be mentioned the arrival, at the latter place, of a man-of-war and transports, from Halifax, with nine hundred troops on board.

Arrival of the first Man-of-war at Boston.

Arrival of the first Man-of-war at Boston.

Such a proceeding, on the part of the British ministry, was eminently calculated to excite the jealousy and indignation of the colonists. They felt disgusted and injured; and the more so, from the haughty and imperious bearing of the officers and troops. In a few weeks, this force was augmented by the arrival of several more transports from Cork, with the sixty-fourth and sixty-fifth regiments, under Colonels Mackay and Pomeroy.

Another measure, adopted about this time by the British ministry, and one which perhaps struck more vitally at the liberty of the colonists than any which preceded, was an order to the provincial governors to procure information[Pg 254] touching all treasons, &c., and to transmit the same, with the names of the suspected persons, to England, in order that they might be ordered thither for trial. The design of it was to terrify the patriotic party into submission; but well might it have been foreseen that such an offensive measure would only serve to rouse opposition, and confirm the whole civilized world in the righteousness of the common cause.

Parliament again convened, January 9, 1770, soon after which (28th) the Duke of Grafton resigned his office of first lord of the treasury. Lord Chatham, having recovered from his late illness, had now returned to parliament, and, with his wonted vigor, attacked the system and measures of the administration.

Lord North, chancellor of the exchequer, succeeded the Duke of Grafton; "and from this time commences an administration which forms a momentous era in the history of Great Britain. During his administration, which lasted to the close of the Revolution, Great Britain lost more territory and accumulated more debt than at any former period of her history."

The first measure of North's administration was in part conciliatory—being a motion to repeal the port duties of 1767, with the exception of the duty on tea. This his lordship, in spite of the friends of the colonies, determined to retain.

To this partial repeal, Governor Pownall strongly objected. It would produce nothing but civil discord and interminable contention. Repeal all, or none. Why retain this single duty, as a pepper-corn rent, to show the tenor by which the colonists hold their rights, and, by so doing, jeopardize his majesty's entire interest in the American colonies? "I have lived in America," said he; "I know the character of the people. Depend upon it, with their views, they will never solicit the favor of this house; never more will they wish to bring before parliament the grievances under which they conceive themselves to labor."

[Pg 255]

While high and angry debate was thus in progress on the other side of the water, on this side, events were transpiring which were giving increasing irritation to already excited feelings, and adding to the force of the gathering storm. Collisions and quarrels, between the soldiers quartered in Boston and the citizens, were not unfrequent; and at length, on the evening of the 5th of March, 1770, resulted in an effusion of blood, called, by way of eminence, "The Boston Massacre."

Boston Massacre.

Boston Massacre.

Three men were killed and two mortally wounded, who died soon after. Mutual exasperations preceded. Neither citizens nor soldiers were exempt from the charge of insult and provocation. But a sentinel, who had been brought to the ground by a blow, on rising, fired, as did, at the same time, a sergeant and six men who were with him. Their fire resulted as already stated. Great excitement followed. The murderers were arrested. Captain Preston, to whose company the soldiers belonged, and who was present, was also arrested, and committed to prison.

[Pg 256]

The following morning the authorities of Boston, urged on by an exasperated people, required the troops to be withdrawn from the town. The lieutenant-governor, for a time, resisted the demand; but on learning that no other course would satisfy or restrain the people, he expressed his willingness that they should be withdrawn to the castle, which was accordingly done.

The funeral of the victims was attended with extraordinary pomp. Most of the shops were closed, all the bells of the town tolled on the occasion, and the corpses were followed to the grave by an immense concourse of people, arranged six abreast, the procession being closed by a long train of carriages, belonging to the principal gentry of the town. Captain Preston and the party of soldiers were afterwards tried. The captain and six of the men were acquitted, and two were brought in guilty of manslaughter; a result which reflected great honor on John Adams and Josiah Quincy, the counsel for the prisoners, and on the jury.

The month of June, '72, furnished a new source of disquietude and animosity. On the 9th of that month, the Providence packet, while sailing into the harbor of Newport, was required, by his majesty's revenue-cutter, the Gaspee, Lieutenant Doddington, to lower her colors. This the captain of the packet deemed repugnant to his patriotic feelings, and the Gaspee fired at the packet, to bring her to; the American, however, still persisted in holding on her course, and, by keeping in shoal water, dexterously contrived to run the schooner aground in the chase. As the tide was upon the ebb, the Gaspee was set fast for the night, and afforded a tempting opportunity for retaliation; and a number of fishermen, aided and encouraged by some of the most respectable inhabitants of Providence, being determined to rid themselves of so uncivil an inspector, in the middle of the night manned several boats, and boarded the Gaspee. The lieutenant was wounded in the affray; but, with every thing belonging to him, he was carefully conveyed on shore, as were all his crew. The[Pg 257] vessel, with her stores, was then burned; and the party returned unmolested to their homes. When the governor became acquainted with this event, he offered a reward of five hundred pounds for the discovery of the offenders.

Burning of the Gaspee.

Burning of the Gaspee.

Another fruitful source of mutual ill-feeling between the British ministry and the colonists was the determination of the former to introduce tea into America, and to impose a tax thereon, in opposition to the wishes of the latter. Accordingly, cargoes of tea were sent to New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, and Boston. The fate of these cargoes, thus sent, was different. Those destined for New York and Philadelphia, were sent back by the inhabitants. The citizens of Charleston unloaded the cargo sent thither, and stored it in cellars, where it perished.

On the arrival of the vessel with the tea, in the harbor of Boston, a meeting of the citizens was immediately called. "The hour of destruction," it was said, "or of manly opposition, had now come:" and all who were friends to their country were invited to attend, "to make an united and successful[Pg 258] resistance to this last and worst measure of administration." A great number of people assembled, from the adjoining towns, as well as from the capital, in the celebrated Faneuil Hall, but the meeting was soon adjourned to one of the largest churches in town. Here it was voted, that they would use all lawful means to prevent its being landed, and to have it returned immediately to England.

On the following day, when the citizens assembled to receive the final answer of the factors, as to the course they would pursue in disposing of the tea, a communication was made to the meeting, in which the factors informed them that they must decline sending back the tea; but were ready to have it stored, and remain, until they could hear from the company in England. The citizens continued dissatisfied with the conduct and proposal of the consignees, and again ordered a watch to guard the vessels. It was also again voted, that whoever should import tea into the province, should be considered an enemy to the country.

When it was found that nothing could be effected in a regular way, the meeting was broken up, and a number of men, in disguise, proceeded, late in the evening, to the vessels, then lying at the wharf, which had the tea on board; and, in a short time, every chest was taken out, and the contents thrown into the sea; but no injury was done to any other part of the cargoes.

The inhabitants of the town, generally, had no knowledge of the event until the next day. It is supposed the number concerned in the affair was about fifty; but who they were no one pretended to know. A few of them became known in after years, when it was no longer liable to involve them in trouble.

When intelligence of the destruction of the tea reached Great Britain, and the determined spirit manifested in the colonies, in opposition to all revenue laws, was made known to the ministers, a majority at once resolved on more energetic measures, and found themselves supported by[Pg 259] parliament in their plans of coercion, regardless alike of the great principles of the constitution, and of the permanent peace and prosperity of the kingdom. Lord North, it is said, declared "that he would not listen to any complaints or petitions from America, till she was at his feet."

Destruction of Tea.

Destruction of Tea.

In a few days, a bill was introduced "for the immediate removal of the officers concerned in the collection of customs from Boston, and to discontinue the landing and discharging, lading and shipping goods, wares, and merchandise, at Boston, or within the harbor thereof." The bill, also, levied a fine upon the town, as a compensation to the East India Company for the destruction of their teas, and was to continue in force during the pleasure of the king. The opposition to this measure was very slight, and it was carried, in both Houses, without a division.

The 1st of June was fixed for the Boston port-bill to go into operation, and the blockade was consequently to commence on that day. On the 13th of May, at a meeting of the inhabitants of Boston, it was resolved to invite the other[Pg 260] colonies to unite in refusing all importations from Great Britain, and to withhold all commercial intercourse with her. To secure their cöoperation, a special messenger was dispatched to New York, Philadelphia, and other places; in every place he was received with great cordiality, and resolutions were immediately adopted, corresponding to the wishes of the people of Boston.

Such was the state of affairs in the colonies generally, in May, when General Gage arrived in Boston, as the successor to Governor Hutchinson, who had been rëcalled. At a former period, he had been, for several years, commander-in-chief of the British military forces in America. Notwithstanding the prejudices of the people to the appointment of a military man, he was received with due honor, and even great ceremony, by the council and citizens, all of whom expressed a hope that his administration would conduce to the peace and welfare of the province.

A short time, however, served to develope the character of General Gage, and his servility to an arbitrary ministry in the mother-country. He threatened to remove the general assembly to Salem—gave his negative to thirteen of the council chosen by the assembly—refused to appoint a day for special prayer, at the request of that body—and, finally, sent a proclamation, by his secretary, to dissolve them.

At this period of increasing turmoil and agitation, the second general congress assembled (September 5, 1774), at Philadelphia, in which all the colonies were represented, excepting Georgia. Peyton Randolph, of Virginia, was elected president, and Charles Thompson, of Philadelphia, secretary.

The most eminent men of the various colonies were now, for the first time, brought together. They were known to each other by fame, but they were, personally, strangers. The meeting was solemn. The object which had called them together, was of incalculable magnitude. The liberties of no less than three millions of people, with that of[Pg 261] all their posterity, were staked on the wisdom and energy of their councils. No wonder, then, at the long and deep silence, which is said to have followed upon their organization; at the anxiety with which the members looked round upon each other; and at the reluctance which every individual felt to open a business so fearfully momentous. In the midst of this deep and death-like silence, and just when it was becoming painfully embarrassing, Mr. Henry arose slowly, as if borne down by the weight of the subject. "After faltering, according to his habit, through a most expressive exordium, in which he merely echoed back the consciousness of every other heart, in deploring his inability to do justice to the occasion, he launched gradually into a recital of the colonial wrongs. Rising, as he advanced, with the grandeur of his subject, and glowing, at length, with all the majesty of the occasion, his speech seemed more than that of mortal man. Mr. Henry was followed by Mr. Richard Henry Lee, in a speech scarcely less powerful, and still more replete with classic eloquence. One spirit of ardent love of liberty pervaded every breast, and produced a unanimity, as advantageous to the cause they advocated, as it was unexpected and appalling to their adversaries."[29]

The congress proceeded with great deliberation; its debates were held with closed doors, and the honor of each member was solemnly engaged not to disclose any of the discussions, till such disclosure was declared advisable by the majority. On the 14th of October, a series of resolutions, regarding the rights and grievances of the colonies, was passed and promulgated. They were couched in strong and undisguised language, and set forth to the world what were considered, by this noble body of men, to be the rights and privileges of the people of America, in defence of which they were ready to peril life, liberty, and fortune.

"A majority of the members of this congress," says Mr.[Pg 262] Pitkin, "had little doubt, that the measures taken by them, if supported by the American people, would produce a redress of grievances.

"Richard Henry Lee said to Mr. Adams: 'We shall undoubtedly carry all our points. You will be completely relieved; all the offensive acts will be repealed, the army and fleet will be rëcalled, and Britain will give up her foolish projects.'

Patrick Henry.

Patrick Henry.

"George Washington was of opinion that, with the aid of both the non-importation and non-exportation system, America would prevail. Patrick Henry concurred in opinion with Mr. Adams, that the contest must ultimately be decided by force. The proceedings of congress met with the almost unanimous approbation of the people of America. The non-importation agreement, entered into by their delegates, was adopted as their own. Committees of vigilance were appointed in all the towns and districts, and the names of those who disregarded it, were published as the enemies of public liberty."

[Pg 263]

Before the close of the year, the busy note of preparation resounded through almost every colony. The Massachusetts committee were indefatigable in providing for the most vigorous defence in the spring. They had procured all sorts of military supplies for the service of twelve thousand men, and had engaged the assistance of the three neighboring provinces of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

While the notes of warlike preparation were thus sounding louder and louder through the country, the British parliament assembled on the other side of the waters. In January, 1775, Lord Chatham having taken his seat, moved "That an humble address be presented his majesty, most humbly to advise and beseech his majesty, that, in order to open the way towards our happy settlement of the dangerous troubles in America, by beginning to allay ferments and soften animosities there; and above all, for preventing, in the mean time, any sudden and fatal catastrophe at Boston, now suffering under daily irritation of an army before their eyes, posted in their town; it may graciously please his majesty, that immediate orders may be dispatched to General Gage, for removing his majesty's forces from the town of Boston, as soon as the season and other circumstances, indispensable to the safety and accommodation of the said troops, may render the same practicable."

Notwithstanding this motion was persuasively urged by Lord Chatham, and ably supported by Lord Camden, Lord Shelburne, and the Marquis of Rockingham, it was rejected by a large majority.

Immediately following its rejection, the minister proposed, in the House of Commons, a joint address to the king, on American affairs. In this address, which was carried by large majorities, parliament declared that Massachusetts was in a state of rebellion; and that this colony had been supported by unlawful combinations, and engagements entered into by several of the other colonies, to the great injury and oppression of his majesty's subjects in Great[Pg 264] Britain. Assuring his majesty of their determination never to relinquish the sovereign authority of the king and parliament over the colonies, they requested him to take the most effectual measures to enforce obedience to that authority, and promised him their support, at the hazard of their lives and property. Opposition to the address was made in both houses, but in vain. The king, in his answer, declared his firm determination, in compliance with their request, to enforce obedience to the laws and authority of the supreme legislature of the empire. His answer was followed by a message requesting an increase of his forces by sea and land.

Thus the determination of king and parliament was formed. Left of God to follow the counsels of a proud, overbearing, and obstinate ministry, they had now made declarations and taken positions, from which there was no retreat but by concessions, which were not to be expected. In due time, "the news"—and, such intelligence had not before been borne across the waters of the Atlantic—so exciting—so appalling—so maddening—"the news arrived of the king's speech at the opening of parliament; of the resolutions adopted by that body; and, finally, of the act by which the inhabitants of Massachusetts were proclaimed rebels. All the province flew to arms; indignation became fury,—obstinacy, desperation.

"'We must look back no more!' said the colonies—'we must conquer or die! We are placed between altars smoking with the most grateful incense of glory and gratitude, on the one part, and blocks and dungeons on the other. Let each then rise, and gird himself for the combat. The dearest interests of this world command it; our most holy religion enjoins it; that God, who eternally rewards the virtuous and punishes the wicked, ordains it. Let us accept these happy auguries; for already the mercenary satellites, sent by wicked ministers to reduce this innocent people to extremity, are imprisoned within the walls of a single city, where hunger emaciates them, rage devours them, death consumes them. Let us banish every fear,[Pg 265] every alarm; fortune smiles upon the efforts of the brave!' By similar discourses, they excited one another, and prepared themselves for defence. 'The fatal moment is arrived! the signal of civil war is given!'"[30]

Thus was the way prepared for a contest which king and parliament might, at one time, have easily avoided. Had they listened to the warning voice of Chatham, descending to his grave, or had they regarded the dictates of common political wisdom, America might have been retained, and with all her loyalty and affection, as a dependency. But God designed a better portion for her; and hence he allowed the monarch and the statesmen of England to adopt measures the most impolitic and oppressive—the result of which was—as we shall see—the independence of America, and the loss to the British crown of its brightest jewel.

Tailpiece—Falls of St. Anthony

[Pg 266]




Cause or Occasion of the Battle—British Detachment proceeds towards Concord—Reaches Lexington—First Blood shed—Hancock and Adams—Captain Wheeler and the British Officer—Stores destroyed—The British harassed by the Americans—Retreat from Concord—Effect of this affair upon the Country—Proceedings of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress.

The immediate cause of the battle, or, more properly, rencontre at Lexington, was an attempt of a detachment of British troops to execute an order of General Gage to destroy certain military stores, which the provincials had collected at Concord, a town situated some eighteen miles from Boston. In anticipation of an approaching contest, the provincial assembly of Massachusetts had passed a resolution for the purchase of all the gunpowder that could be found, and of every sort of arms and ammunition requisite for an army of fifteen thousand men. As these objects abounded principally in Boston, the inhabitants employed all their address to procure and transport them to places of[Pg 267] safety in the country. Cannon-balls and other instruments of war were therefore collected and transported in carts, apparently loaded with manure; powder in the baskets and panniers of those who came from Boston market, and cartridges were concealed even in candle-boxes. By these means, and through other channels, a considerable quantity of arms and ammunition had been collected at Concord.

Excited by the loyalists, General Gage resolved to send a few companies to Concord, for the purpose already stated. It was said, also, that he had it in view, by this sudden expedition, to get possession of John Hancock and Samuel Adams, two of the most ardent patriot chiefs, and the principal directors of the provincial congress, then assembled in the town of Concord.

In pursuance of the above purpose, on the evening of the 18th of April, several British officers dispersed themselves here and there upon the road and passages, to intercept the couriers that might have been dispatched to give notice of the movements of the troops. The governor gave orders that no person should be allowed to leave the city; nevertheless, Dr. Warren, one of the most active patriots, had timely intimation of the scheme, and immediately dispatched confidential messengers; some of whom found the roads interdicted by the officers who guarded them; but others made their way unperceived to Lexington, a town upon the road leading to Concord. The intelligence was soon divulged; the people flocked together; the bells in all parts were rung to give the alarm; and the continual firing of cannon spread the agitation through all the neighboring country. In the midst of this tumultuous scene, at eleven in the evening, a strong detachment of grenadiers and of light infantry was embarked at Boston, to land at a place called Phipps' Farm, whence they marched to Concord.

The British troops were under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn, who led the van-guard. The militia of Lexington, as the intelligence of the movement of this detachment was uncertain, had separated[Pg 268] in the course of the night. Finally, at five in the morning of the 19th, advice was received of the near approach of the royal troops. The provincials that happened to be near, assembled—to the number, however, of only seventy. The English appeared; and Major Pitcairn, galloping up to them, in a loud voice cried, "Disperse, rebels! lay down your arms, and disperse!"

The provincials did not obey; upon which, advancing nearer, he discharged a pistol, and, brandishing his sword, ordered his soldiers to fire. Eight Americans were killed, three or four of them by the first fire of the British; the others, after they had left the parade. Several were also wounded. A handsome monument has been erected to the memory of the killed, on the green where the first of them fell.

Battle of Lexington.

Battle of Lexington.

Meanwhile, Hancock and Adams retired from danger; and it is related that, while on the march, the latter, enraptured with joy, exclaimed, "Oh, what an ever-glorious morning is this!"—considering this first effusion of blood[Pg 269] as the prelude of events which must secure the happiness of his country. The soldiers advanced towards Concord, where the inhabitants assembled; but seeing the numbers of the enemy, they fell back, and posted themselves on a bridge, north of the town. The light infantry assailed them with fury, routed them, and occupied the bridge, while the others entered Concord, and proceeded to the execution of their orders. They disabled two twenty-four pounders, threw five hundred pounds of ball into the river and wells, and broke in pieces about sixty barrels of flour.

Captain Wheeler and the British Officer.

Captain Wheeler and the British Officer.

During the search of the British for military stores, a British officer demanded entrance into the barn of Captain Wheeler. This was readily granted. In it was stored a large quantity of provincial flour. The officer expressed his pleasure at the discovery. But Captain Wheeler, with much affected simplicity, said to him, putting his hand on a barrel, "This is my flour. I am a miller, sir; yonder stands my mill; I get my living by it. In the winter, I grind a great deal of grain, and get it ready for market in the[Pg 270] spring. This," (pointing to one barrel,) "is the flour of wheat; this," (pointing to another,) "is the flour of corn; this is the flour of rye; this," (putting his hand on his own cask,) "is my flour; this is my wheat; this is my rye; this is mine." "Well," said the officer, "we do not injure private property," and withdrew, leaving this important depository untouched.

The militia being rëinforced, Major Buttrick, of Concord, who had gallantly offered to command them, advanced towards the bridge; but, not knowing of the transaction at Lexington, ordered the men not to give the first fire, that the provincials might not be the aggressors. As he advanced, the light infantry retired to the Concord side of the river, and began to pull up the bridge; and on his nearer approach, they fired, and killed a captain and one of the privates. The provincials returned the fire; a skirmish ensued, and the regulars were forced to retreat, with some loss. They were soon joined by the main body, which now retreated with precipitancy. Meanwhile, the people of the adjacent country flocked in, and attacked them in every direction. Some fired from behind stone walls and other coverts; while others pressed on their rear during their retreat to Lexington.

General Gage, apprehensive for the fate of the English, had dispatched nine hundred men and two field-pieces, under command of Lord Percy. This corps arrived very opportunely at Lexington, at the moment when the royal troops entered the town from the other side, pursued with fury by the provincial militia.

It appears highly probable that, without this rëinforcement, they would have all been cut to pieces or made prisoners; their strength was exhausted, as well as their ammunition. After making a considerable halt at Lexington, they renewed their march towards Boston, the number of the provincials increasing, although the rear-guard of the English was less molested, on account of the two field-pieces, which repressed the impetuosity of[Pg 271] the Americans. But the flanks of the columns remained exposed to a destructive fire, from every point adapted to serve as coverts. The royalists were also annoyed by the heat, which was excessive, and by a violent wind, which blew a thick dust in their eyes. Finally, after a march of incredible fatigue, and considerable loss of men, the English, overwhelmed with lassitude, arrived at sunset in Charlestown. Independently of the combat they had sustained, the distance they had that day traveled was above five-and-thirty miles. The day following, they crossed over to Boston.[31]

Retreat of the British from Concord.

Retreat of the British from Concord.

The rencontre at Lexington was, in itself, an inconsiderable affair. But, in its relation and influence, its importance can scarcely be estimated. It was the first outbreak of indignant feeling, which, for months and years, had been acquiring strength, but which, until now, had been suppressed. It was a solution of the problem, whether the[Pg 272] wrongs of America could be redressed without a resort to arms. It developed the spirit and determination, as well of the king and parliament, as of the Americans themselves. It shut the door for further negotiation; it cut off hope for the colonies, but through an appeal to arms. In fact, it was a signal for war—it was war itself.

The affair had two results. The first was to demonstrate how false and ridiculous were the vaunts of those Gascons who, within parliament as well as without, had spoken in such unworthy terms of American courage; from this moment, the English nation, and especially its soldiers, persuaded themselves that the struggle would be far more severe and sanguinary than had been at first believed. The second effect of the combat was, greatly to increase the confidence of the colonists, and their resolution to defend their rights. It should be added, also, that the reports of the cruelties of the British troops produced an incredible excitement in the minds of the inhabitants, which was still further increased by the public honors which were paid to those who had fallen in the opening contest. Their eulogies were pronounced, and they were styled martyrs of liberty, while their families were the objects of unusual veneration. They were cited as the models to be imitated in the approaching conflict.

The provincial congress of Massachusetts was in session at Watertown, ten miles distant from Boston. On receiving intelligence of the battle, it took immediate measures to raise thirteen thousand and six hundred men, and chose for their general Colonel Ward, an officer of much reputation. This militia was designed to form the contingent of Massachusetts; the provinces of New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island were invited to furnish theirs, in order to complete an army of thirty thousand men, to be commanded by General John Thomas, an officer of great experience. Connecticut dispatched, immediately, a considerable corps, under the command of Colonel Putnam, an old officer, who, in the two late wars, had often given proof[Pg 273] of courage and intelligence. The other provinces were not slow in causing their standards to move; and, in a short time, an army of thirty thousand men was found assembled under the walls of Boston. So great and so universal was the ardor produced among the inhabitants by the battle of Lexington, that the American generals were obliged to send back to their homes many thousand volunteers. Putnam took his station at Cambridge, and Thomas at Roxbury, upon the right wing of the army, to cut off entirely the communication of the garrison, by the isthmus, with the adjacent country. Thus, in a few days after the affair of Lexington, the capital of the province of Massachusetts was closely besieged; thus a multitude assembled in haste, of men, declared rebels and mean-spirited cowards, held in strict confinement, not daring to sally forth even to procure food, many thousands of veteran troops, commanded by an able general, and combating under the royal standard.

Tailpiece—Source of the Passaic

[Pg 274]


American Patriotism—American and British Forces—Fortification of Bunker's hill—Attacked by British Ships—Asa Pollard, the first Martyr—Preparations of the British—Warren—Prescott's Injunction to his Troops—British repulsed with terrible slaughter—Second Attack—Charlestown set on fire at the same time—Second Repulse—Putnam and Major Small—Death of Colonel Gardiner—Thrilling Incident—Third Advance of the British—Death of Major Pitcairn—Americans in want of Ammunition—Retreat—Death of Warren—Respective Losses—Results of the Battle.

Boston, which for a considerable time had been the point of greatest interest in the American colonies, was not less so immediately following the battle of Lexington. That engagement served to quicken the already excited pulse of thousands. The fires of patriotism burned brighter. Sires and sons, mothers and daughters, rejoiced that the crisis had come, and were ready to make every needful sacrifice for their country's good. In a few weeks, the metropolis of the province of Massachusetts was environed by an American army, fifteen thousand strong—ten thousand of which was furnished by Massachusetts, and three thousand by Connecticut; the rest were supplied by the other New England colonies. Of these troops, General Ward was commander-in-chief. His head-quarters were at Cambridge. The right-wing was stationed at Roxbury, the left at Medford and Chelsea.

Towards the end of May, a considerable rëinforcement arrived at Boston from England, which, with the garrison, formed an army of from ten to twelve thousand men—all veteran troops. At the head of this rëinforcement were three distinguished and practical generals—Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne.

The difference in numbers was on the side of the Americans—not so, however, their military science, arms, or ammunition. They had, in all, but sixteen field-pieces, six of which, at the very utmost, were in a condition for service. Their brass pieces, which were few, were of the[Pg 275] smallest caliber. They had, however, some heavy iron cannon, with three or four mortars and howitzers, and some scanty provision of balls and bombs. But of powder, they were almost totally destitute.

The situation of the English was now daily becoming more perplexing and critical, and the necessity was increasingly apparent, if they intended to retain their position, of fortifying certain points in the neighborhood. The two regarded of greatest importance were the heights of Dorchester and Charlestown. The former presenting superior inducements, it was determined to occupy and fortify that first, and, afterwards, the latter.

The Americans having learned the intentions of the British general, it became a serious question what course was most prudent for them to adopt. For a time, a difference of opinion prevailed among the American patriots; but, at length, the committee of safety recommended to the council of war to occupy and fortify Bunker's hill at once, and Dorchester heights (now South Boston), as early after as practicable.

In conformity with this suggestion, on the following day (16th June), General Ward issued orders to Colonel Prescott to proceed to Charlestown, and occupy and fortify Bunker's hill.

The troops detached for this service, amounted to about one thousand men. They were ordered to take provisions but for a single day. In the early part of the evening of the 16th, they were mustered on Cambridge common, near the colleges. They were commended to the protection and guidance of Almighty God, in a prayer by President Langdon; after which, led by the valiant Prescott, attired in a calico frock, and himself preceded by two sergeants with dark lanterns, and accompanied by Colonel Gridley and Judge Winthrop of Cambridge, they took their destined path.

Having reached the ground, a question arose which of the two hills was intended as Bunker's hill. The northern[Pg 276] eminence was more generally spoken of under that name, while the southern, commonly called Breed's hill, was evidently the one best fitted for the purpose. After long deliberation, it was decided to construct the principal work on Breed's hill, and to erect an additional and subsidiary one on Bunker's hill. Accordingly, Captain Gridley proceeded to lay out the principal work. Midnight arrived, however, before a spade entered the ground; there remained therefore less than four hours before day-light, when the operations would, of course, be seen by the British. The men, however, now began, and they worked.

President Langdon at Prayer.

President Langdon at Prayer.

Meanwhile, a strong guard, under Captain Manners, was stationed on the Charlestown shore, to watch the enemy. The day had been fair, and it was a clear, star-light night. Colonel Prescott, accompanied by Major Brooks, went down twice to the shore to reconnoitre, and distinctly heard the British sentries relieving guard, and uttering, as they walked their rounds, the customary, but, in this instance deceptive, cry, "All's well!"[32]

[Pg 277]

The night, on the part of the patriot band, was one of sleepless vigilance and incessant toil. Shovels, pickaxes, and spades, were in incessant motion; and, by four o'clock in the morning, they had thrown up a redoubt, eight rods square and four feet high. At this time, the captain of a British ship, called the Lively, discovered the work, and opened a fire upon it. The alarm was given to the British in Boston, and to the men-of-war in the river, and a heavy cannonade was commenced. The fire from a battery of six guns, on Copp's hill, proved most annoying; but the Americans, regardless of bombs and balls, continued their labors with unshaken constancy. The first martyr who had the honor of shedding his blood, on that ever-memorable hill, was a private soldier by the name of Asa Pollard, of Billerica, and the shot which killed him was the only one which took fatal effect during the forenoon.

Death of Pollard.

Death of Pollard.

While various movements were in progress, the Americans in the neighborhood of the redoubt were by no means idle. About two hundred yards in the rear of the breastwork[Pg 278] was a stone fence surmounted with rails. In front of this, another fence was constructed, and the space between the two filled with hay, which happened to be on the field. A subsidiary work was also hastily thrown up on Bunker's hill, properly so called, by General Putnam.

General Putnam.

General Putnam.

From the moment the British discovered the operations of the Americans, they well knew the importance of dislodging them from their position. They had expected to attain this object by a cannonade from their batteries and ships of war; but it was soon apparent that other and more effective measures would be necessary. Accordingly, after mature consultation in a council of war, summoned by General Gage, it was resolved to transport a competent force across the river, and attack the works in front.

It was "a day without clouds," and intensely hot. Between mid-day and one o'clock, twenty-eight barges were seen moving from the end of Long wharf towards Morton's point. On board of these were four battalions of infantry and ten of grenadiers. They had six pieces of[Pg 279] artillery, one of which was placed in each of the six leading boats.

About two o'clock, a second detachment left Winnisimmett ferry, and joined the first at Morton's point. These were soon after followed by rëinforcements, which landed at Madlin's ship-yard, now the navy-yard near the east end of Breed's hill. These several detachments, amounting to about four thousand men, were under command of General Howe, subordinate to whom were General Pigot, and Colonels Nesbit, Abercrombie, and Clark.

Interview between Putnam and Warren.

Interview between Putnam and Warren.

A short time before the action commenced, a horseman was perceived advancing rapidly from Charlestown, towards the American redoubt. It proved to be General Warren, the president of the provincial congress. "Ah!" said Putnam, as the former came up, "is it you, General? I am glad to see you, and yet I regret your presence. Your life is too precious to be thus exposed; but since you are here, let me receive your orders." "No," replied the gallant soldier; "I give no orders! I come as a volunteer; and now[Pg 280] say where I can be the most useful." "Go, then," said Putnam, "to the redoubt; you will there be less exposed." "Tell me," rejoined Warren, "where will be the point of greatest danger." "The redoubt will be the enemy's first and principal object," said Putnam; "if we can defend that, the day is ours." Warren passed on, and, as he passed, the troops recognised him, and loud and long were their acclamations. Every bosom felt the impulse of his presence. At the redoubt, Prescott received him, and begged him to receive the command. "Give me a musket," said Warren; "to-day I take a lesson from the veteran soldier in the art of war." Warren could not content himself away from the dangers which were thickening around the patriotic cause. The day previous, he had presided in the congress in session at Watertown, and had spent the entire night in transacting business growing out of his official station. On reaching Cambridge, early in the morning, he received intelligence of the expected battle. He attended a meeting of the committee of safety, of which he was chairman. Here he made known his intention of taking part in the approaching contest. "Your ardent temper," said Gerry, "will carry you forward in the midst of peril, and you will probably fall." "I know that I may fall," replied Warren, "but I should die with shame, were I to remain at home in safety, while my friends and fellow-citizens are shedding their blood, and hazarding their lives in the cause." The honor of Warren is greatly enhanced by the consideration that he was originally opposed to the plan of fortifying the heights of Charlestown, but no sooner had the council of war decided upon that measure, than he gave it his hearty cöoperation. And here we see this brave and patriotic man in the field of battle, and in the midst of danger, having adopted the beautiful sentiment of the Roman poet,

"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori."

The action opened at about three o'clock in the afternoon, at which time a general discharge of artillery was ordered[Pg 281] along the whole British line. At the same time, the troops advanced in two divisions. General Howe led the right towards the rail-fence; General Pigot with the left end towards the redoubt.

The march of the British troops was slow, but steady. They wore the aspect of strong confidence and strong determination. Meanwhile, the American drums beat to arms. Quitting his intrenchment, where he was still at work on Bunker's hill, Putnam led his equally determined, but far less disciplined, troops into action. Said this veteran general, in his usual pointed and laconic style, "Fellow-soldiers! powder is scarce, and must not be wasted. Reserve your fire till you see the whites of their eyes. Then take aim at the officers."

This injunction, however, having been disobeyed by a few of the more restless and impetuous, Prescott, proceeding along the lines, said, in a tone of thunder: "The next man that fires before the order is given, shall be instantly shot." It was apparently cruel thus to require troops, whose bosoms were now glowing with burning zeal, to withhold their fire, while the enemy was pouring in his at every step of his progress. It was, however, a wise delay. At length, the British had advanced within eight rods of the redoubt. "Now, men," said Prescott, "now is your time! Make ready! Take aim! Fire!"

And such a deadly fire, perhaps, was never before made; and, when the smoke rolled off, such a sight was perhaps never before seen. The hill-side was covered with the slain. The ranks of the British were broken, and confusion appeared on every side. The British officers attempted to rally their troops. In this, they succeeded so far as to induce them to fire; but, evidently appalled at the fearful and unexpected carnage, they turned, and fled down the hill.

"Following this repulse, there was an ominous pause," says a writer, "like the lull that sometimes interrupts the wildest tempest, only broken by the occasional discharge of artillery from the ships and batteries." It was not,[Pg 282] however, of long duration. A second attack was decided upon, and orders issued again to advance. Meanwhile, a deep silence brooded over the American lines, all being intent upon the devastation which had been made, and watching for the future movements of the enemy which had been so signally repulsed. Their success had greatly exceeded their own expectations, and served to inspire them with still more confidence in a second rencontre which they might now momently expect. In the first attack, they had been directed to reserve their fire until the enemy had approached within eight rods; now they must wait until the enemy should approach within six rods.

While the British troops were advancing, suddenly a new spectacle burst upon the eyes of the tens of thousands who were looking on from every neighboring eminence, which greatly added to the sublimity of the scene.

Annoyed in his first attack upon the American redoubt, by the fire of a detachment stationed at Charlestown, General Howe had given directions to fire that town, both by way of revenging the injury he had sustained, and, also, the more to distract the Americans during his second attack, to which he was now advancing. In furtherance of this object, a large quantity of combustibles had been conveyed from Boston, and a detachment of marines, from the Somerset, been landed to set them on fire. The work of conflagration was now commenced. Dense and dark clouds of smoke rose over the town, and at length enveloped the whole peninsula; through this smoke, columns of flame shot up, and flashed in every direction. The fire spread with fearful rapidity from house to house, and from street to street. At length, the flames reached the church, and, climbing its lofty steeple, converted it into a blazing pyramid. The beams, supporting the bell, were burned in sunder, upon which it fell, and while falling, its pealing sounds were distinctly heard by hundreds, uniting with crackling flames and crashing edifices in enhancing the dreadful magnificence of the day.

[Pg 283]

It was in the midst of a scene of desolation like this—by which property to the amount of one hundred and twenty thousand pounds sterling was destroyed, six hundred buildings consumed, and two thousand people rendered houseless—the two opposing forces were preparing for another sanguinary rencontre. The British general was leading on his troops, as cool and undisturbed as if they had met with no repulse. They opened their fire by platoons, and apparently at random, yet not entirely without effect. Colonels Nixon and Brewer were borne wounded from the works. A ball through his shoulder rendered Colonel Backminster a cripple for life. Major Moore received a shot through the thigh; soon after which, a second ball pierced his body, which subsequently proved mortal.

The Americans had been charged to reserve their fire till the enemy were within six rods. The success which had attended their former delay, now enabled them the more cheerfully to yield obedience to orders, a compliance with which had, in the first instance, seemed nearly impossible. At length, the enemy reached the prescribed distance, when the anticipated words, "Make ready! Take aim! Fire!" were heard in a voice like thunder—and, in an instant, hundreds of men, including a surprising number of principal officers, were seen prostrated in the dust. The fire proved even more destructive than in the first attack. General Howe was left nearly alone, almost every officer of his staff being either killed or wounded. So sweeping had been the destruction, that the ranks were fatally broken, and a second time orders were issued for the British army to make good their retreat.

An interesting incident is related, as having occurred immediately following the fire of the Americans. Among the British officers who escaped the terrible destruction, was Major Small; but, so fatal had been the fire, that scarcely was there a man left near him. Consequently, his superior dress rendered him a more conspicuous object. Several riflemen had marked him—had indeed raised their[Pg 284] guns, and were in the act of levelling them, when Putnam recognised Major Small, and perceived the imminent danger he was in. A moment longer, and his early friend, with whom he had served in the French war, and for whom he cherished an unfeigned regard, would be in the agonies of death. He sprang upon the parapet, and rushed immediately before the levelled rifles, exclaiming: "My gallant comrades! spare, spare that officer! we are friends; we are brothers. Do you not remember how we rushed into each others' arms, at the meeting for the exchange of prisoners?" The appeal, it needs scarcely be added, was successful. Every rifle was instantly lowered; every bosom glowed with the generous emotions which filled that of the high-souled Putnam; nor was one feeling of regret indulged, as the gallant British officer retired unharmed.

Putnam saves the life of Major Small.

Putnam saves the life of Major Small.

Although repulsed in a second attack, and with losses as signal as unexpected, Howe immediately decided upon renewing the contest. Upon the issue of that day, and the[Pg 285] results of this single conflict, he well knew, might hang the fortunes of the British cause in America. If successful, the patriots would become disheartened; if defeated, they would take courage, and continue the controversy with greater animation. With more wisdom, he decided to concentrate his whole force upon the redoubt—and, that his troops might act with greater energy, he directed them to lay aside their cumbersome knapsacks, and, in imitation of the Americans, to reserve their fire, or, if circumstances allowed, to rely upon the bayonet.

Meanwhile, the situation of the Americans had become critical and alarming. They had, indeed, lost comparatively few of their number; but it was discovered, we might almost say to their dismay, that their ammunition was nearly exhausted. They had little prospect of any further supply; they had few, if any bayonets, and, as to rëinforcements, though extremely desirable, and now necessary, they could indulge only slight hopes. They were, however, cheered by the prospect of a rëinforcement of three hundred men at this critical juncture. The regiment of Colonel Gardiner, stationed at Charlestown, although they had received no orders to that effect, that gallant officer volunteered to bring to their assistance. Most unfortunately, however, just as he was descending to the lines, a musket-ball struck him, which soon after proved mortal. In consequence of this untoward event, his regiment became disordered, and but a single company that marched from Charlestown, under command of Captain Harris, participated in the action. It was, however, and well does it attest their patriotic courage, the very last to leave the field.

The history of the American war furnishes many an incident of thrilling interest, and many an instance of heroic bravery and devotion to the cause of liberty: the last moments of Colonel Gardiner may be ranked among the number. On receiving his wound, he was borne from the field by some of his men; when his son, a youth of only[Pg 286] nineteen, and a second lieutenant in Trevett's artillery company, rushed forward to his father's aid. On beholding him, said the father: "Think not of me, my son. I am well. Go to your duty!" And the son obeyed, and hastened to his post, while the father was borne from the field to die. Is it a matter of marvel that people should succeed in a struggle where such lofty patriotism fired their bosoms, and, in pursuing which, some of the tenderest and strongest ties of our nature were sacrificed for their country's good?

Death of Colonel Gardiner.

Death of Colonel Gardiner.

The British troops, as we said, were again advancing. Without bayonets, with a few charges of powder remaining, the Americans waited in silence to receive them as they were able. Stones and the stocks of their muskets supplied the place of powder and ball. Richardson, a private in the Royal Irish regiment, was the first to mount the parapet; but he fell the next moment. Nearly at the same time, Major Pitcairn, whose insolence and inhumanity at Lexington will not soon be forgotten, appeared upon the[Pg 287] parapet, and, as if actuated by a similar spirit now as then, he exultingly exclaimed: "The day is ours!" But here he met a deserved fate; for, while the words still lingered on his lies, a bullet from a musket, fired by a colored man named Salem, pierced his body, and he fell and expired.

While these events were occurring in one quarter, the enemy were more successful in another, the south-east corner of the redoubt. Here a tree had been left standing, and by means of this, General Pigot succeeded in mounting the works; his men followed him; and here, for a brief space, the contest was spirited and sanguinary. Several American officers suffered severely. Colonel Bridge was twice wounded by a broad-sword. Major Gridley received a ball through the leg, and was borne from the field. Lieutenant Prescott, nephew to the colonel, had his arm so broken, as to hang useless by his side; but, nothing deterred by his wound, he continued to load his musket, and was in the act of pointing his gun through the sally-port at the enemy, when he was cut in sunder by a cannon-ball. But now, the sacrifice of life which was being offered upon the shrine of liberty, was accomplishing no good. The Americans could no longer contend with hope, as their ammunition was fairly expended. Prescott was reluctant to yield; but it was wise—it was best. An honorable retreat was still practicable, and he chose this alternative. The Americans retired in order from the hill.

A retreat bore more heavily upon one patriotic spirit than, if possible, upon all others—that one was Warren's. He lingered to the very latest moment—beyond the moment of safety. Nor had he quitted the works, or proceeded but a few rods, when the British were in full possession. Major Small, the British officer whose life Putnam had saved only a few hours before, saw him—surmised his reluctance—perceived his danger—and would have saved him. Addressing him by name, he besought him to surrender, as the only means of security; at the same time ordering his men to suspend their firing. Warren, it is supposed, heard[Pg 288] the voice of Small; but whether he would have taken advantage of the proffered safety, cannot be known. He turned his head towards the sound, and at that instant a ball sunk deep in his forehead, and produced instant death.

The day following, the body of this patriot, statesman, and hero, was discovered and identified by Isaac Winslow, (then a youth, afterwards general,) and by several others, who were familiar with his person. The bullet which terminated his life was extracted by Mr. Savage, an officer in the custom-house. Subsequently, he carried it to England; but, years afterwards, it was presented at London to Rev. Mr. Montague, of Dedham, Mass., in whose family it still remains. The remains of Warren were buried on the spot where he fell; but the following year they were temporarily removed to a tomb in the Tremont cemetery. They now repose in the family vault, under St. Paul's church, Boston.

The loss of Warren was among the saddest and bitterest incidents of the day. Few had such aspirations after liberty—few so well understood the true interests of the country, or were better able to suggest measures calculated to secure the triumph of her cause. To the British, the intelligence of his fall was as grateful (considering him in the light of an enemy) as it was unexpected. It is recorded that when on the following morning the news of the event was brought to General Howe, who remained on the field during the night, he would scarcely credit it; and when, at length, it was verified, he declared that "his death was a full offset for the loss of five hundred men."

The battle of Bunker's hill, which we have thus described as minutely as our limits will allow, was of about two hours' continuance, having commenced at three o'clock. The Americans engaged were estimated at about three thousand five hundred. The number killed and missing was one hundred and fifteen; three hundred and five were wounded, and thirty taken prisoners. Of the several regiments, Prescott's suffered the most severely, losing forty-two killed and twenty-eight wounded. Several officers were killed—Colonel[Pg 289] Gardiner, Lieutenant-Colonel Parker, Major Moore, and Major Maclary.

The British force engaged in this battle was four thousand. Their loss General Gage, in his official account, acknowledged to be one thousand and fifty-four—two hundred and twenty-six killed; eight hundred and twenty-eight wounded, including nineteen officers killed and twenty-eight wounded. Their loss, according to the official account of the action by the Massachusetts congress, was fifteen hundred.

Charlestown was entirely destroyed. On the retreat of the Americans, the British took possession of Bunker's hill, from which they kept up a fire of artillery during the night. The Americans occupied Prospect and Winter hills.

It was a bold attempt on the part of General Howe to carry the American redoubt by an attack in front; in consequence of this, his troops were exposed to the direct and galling fire of men who were each able to take deliberate aim. A censure was indeed cast upon him for so doing; but a too vain confidence in the bravery and discipline of his soldiers, and an equally mistaken estimate of American valor, led him to reject a plan proposed by General Clinton, and the adoption of one which, had it succeeded, would have secured more honor, but which obviously was so hazardous and doubtful in its issue, as might well have gained for the other the preference.

The night of the 17th of June was one of more sadness to the British than to the Americans, notwithstanding that the latter had been driven from their position, and the colors of the former were waving over Bunker's hill. To the British belonged the field—to the Americans, in effect, the victory. What the former had gained, was of no use to them, as their forces were not sufficiently numerous to hold possession of so extended a line. Their loss in numbers was grievous; but this was small in comparison to the mortification experienced in view of their repeated repulses. Nor was that mortification lessened when it became known that the retreat of the Americans was caused by a want of[Pg 290] ammunition. Had the materiel of battle not failed, who can say that the Americans would not have maintained their position?[33]

Such an issue, however, might have drawn after it consequences which, in the sequel, would have been disastrous to the patriotic cause. A vain confidence might have been engendered, leading to the neglect of needful, and even essential preparation, to cope with a foe more formidable at that era, than any other on the globe. It was well doubtless, and Providence in kindness so ordered, it, that ammunition should fail. God gave to the Americans just that success which was calculated to animate and encourage them: and permitted them to suffer just in that way, and to that extent, as to teach them humility, and to trust in Him. Theirs was a just and glorious cause. It was the cause of liberty and of God. It was right that they should succeed; but it was equally befitting that they should feel and acknowledge that their success was from the God of their fathers.

Tailpiece—View of Boston

[Pg 291]


Effects of the Battle of Bunker hill—Meeting of Congress—Appointment of a Commander-in-Chief proposed—Difficulties in regard to a Selection—Claims of Individuals—Interview between John and Samuel Adams—Speech of the former—Washington Nominated—Unanimously Confirmed—Manifesto of Congress—Public Fast.

If, previous to the battle of Bunker's hill, doubts existed in the minds of any, whether the contest between Great Britain and America would be settled without a struggle, the sanguinary scene on that hill must have dispelled them. Both parties had received a wound not likely soon to be healed. If the British had won the field, they had gained but little, if any, honor—and in the repulse, which the Americans had met with, while they had lost no honor, they had acquired self-confidence, and added to their already high-wrought valor and determination.

Messengers spreading news of the Battle of Bunker's hill.

Messengers spreading news of the Battle of Bunker's hill.

"The battle was fought on Saturday afternoon. Before Sunday night, the intelligence was spread more than a hundred miles distant from the scene of action. All were[Pg 292] roused to the highest pitch of resentment, and set about preparing themselves for a long and bloody struggle. Companies were raised and equipped with the utmost dispatch; all hopes of reconciliation were lost. Squads of armed men flocked to head-quarters, some of them having traveled eighty miles in twenty-four hours."

While events of so much importance were occurring in and around Boston, the more immediate theatre of the war, the second general congress were in session in Philadelphia, in deep consultation as to measures which the cause and exigencies of the country required.

Their session had commenced on the 10th day of May preceding. Various matters of interest engaged their attention, and required all their wisdom and firmness. As the war had commenced, it was essential to keep up the zeal of the people—to prevent revolt to the royal standard—to introduce discipline into an army which had been collected in haste—to provide for the growing expenses of a war, the end of which could not be predicted—to prevent, in the conduct of the war, the revival of jealousies which had existed between the different colonies—and, finally, to place the army in the hands of some commander-in-chief, in whom the country could confide, and whose commands the army would cheerfully obey.

The importance of this last duty magnified, the more it was contemplated—and difficulties presented themselves which occasioned no small anxiety and embarrassment. A mistake here might prove fatal to the liberties of the country, for an indefinite period to come.

Upon whom, then, should their choice fall? Gates and Lee were held in high estimation as military men. The first, for his experience; the second, because to experience he joined a very active genius. But they were both born in England, and, in case of misfortune, it would be difficult, however upright and faithful they might have been, to persuade the people that they had not been guilty of treason, or at least of negligence in the accomplishment of their[Pg 293] duties. Besides, Lee had an impetuosity of temper, which, in some hour of excitement, might spur him to the adoption of measures inconsistent with the safety of the army, and prejudicial to the interests of the patriot cause. There were also Ward and Putnam, who were already in the field, and who had demonstrated the most signal valor and ability in all the actions which had taken place in the vicinity of Boston. Putnam had seen much service, and, for energy and promptitude, had few equals; but he had declared himself too openly in favor of independence; this, congress devoutly wished to procure, but withal in a propitious time. As to General Ward, New England, it was well known, entertained an exalted opinion of him, and many were strongly wishing and anticipating that the lot would fall on him. He had served in the French war, in which he had acquired an honorable distinction. In addition, he was both a scholar and a gentleman, and the army itself was uncommonly prepossessed in his favor. But besides that he also had openly expressed himself in favor of independence, it was well known that the provinces of the middle, and more so of the south, were in a measure jealous of New England, in which the physical force of the country confessedly predominated, and they would naturally be reluctant to have the cause of America confided to the hands of an individual who might allow himself to be influenced by certain local prepossessions, at a time in which all desires and all interests ought to be common. Nor was it a small desideratum with some of the sages of that era, that the commander-in-chief should himself possess an estate of such value as to offer a guaranty of his fidelity, and elevate him above the sordid and selfish motives of personal gain.

Surrounded by such difficulties, and embarrassed by such opposite considerations, what was to be done? One point was clear,—union must be preserved, at any sacrifice. Union was strength. If in harmonious concert the colonies could not proceed, their doom was sealed. The country,[Pg 294] and the whole country, must come in. The pulsation must beat through all hearts. The cause was one, and how many soever bore a part in sustaining and defending it, they must act as impelled but by one motive—and using but a single arm.

To the final question, it had been foreseen for some time, the congress must come. Out of doors, the subject had been considered and debated, but, as yet, no settled opinion had been formed, and no decisive action had been had.

In this anxious and inquiring period, the Father of mercies—that Almighty Being by whose care the colonies had been planted, and hitherto sustained—whose blessing was daily sought by thousands of families, morning and evening—whose guidance the public councils, whether provincial or continental, were never ashamed to implore—that good and gracious Benefactor was not slow in pointing to the man who should lead the armies of his American Israel!

One morning, the elder President Adams was walking in Congress hall, apparently absorbed in thought, when Samuel Adams, a kinsman and a member of congress, approaching him, inquired the subject of his deep cogitation. "The army," he replied; "I am determined what to do about the army at Cambridge." "What is that?" asked his kinsman. "I am determined to enter on a full detail of the state of the colonies, before the house this morning. My object will be to induce congress to name a day for adopting the army, as the legal army of the United Colonies of North America; and, having done this, I shall offer a few hints on my election of a commander-in-chief." "I like your plan, Cousin John," said Samuel Adams; "but on whom have you fixed as this commander?" "George Washington, of Virginia, a member of this house." "That will never do, never, never." "It must do," said John Adams, "and for these reasons: the southern and middle states are loath to enter heartily into the cause, and their arguments are potent; they see that New England holds the physical power in her hands, and they fear the result. A New England army, a[Pg 295] New England commander, with New England perseverance, all united, appal them. For this cause, they hang back. The only way to allay their fears, and silence their complaints, is by appointing a southern chief over the army. This policy will blend us in one mass, and that mass will be resistless."

Mr. Adams now went in, and, taking the floor, put forth his strength in the delineations he had prepared, all aiming at the adoption of the army. He was ready to own the army, appoint a commander, and vote supplies. His speech was patriotic, eloquent, and thrilling; but some doubted, some objected, some feared. To all these doubts and hesitations, he replied: "Gentlemen, if this congress do not adopt this army, before ten moons have set, New England will have a congress of her own, which will adopt it, and she will undertake the struggle alone—with a strong arm and a clear conscience." This had the desired effect, and they agreed to appoint a day.

The day was fixed, and came, and the army was adopted. And now followed the question as to a commander. Mr. Adams again rose. He proceeded to a minute delineation of the character of General Ward, according to him merits and honors, which then belonged to no one else; but, at the end of this eulogy, he said: "This is not the man I have chosen." The peculiar situation of the colonies required another and a different man—and one from a different quarter. These qualifications were now set forth in strong, bold, and eloquent terms; and, in the sequel, he said: "Gentlemen, I know these qualifications are high, but we all know they are needful at this crisis, in this chief. Does any one say that they are not to be obtained in the country? I reply, they are; they reside in one of our own body, and he is the person whom I now nominate: George Washington, of Virginia."

At the moment, Washington was intently gazing, as were others, upon Mr. Adams, wrought up by an eager curiosity for the annunciation of the name. Without a suspicion[Pg 296] that it would be his own, as it transpired from the lips of the speaker, he sprang from his seat, and rushed from the hall.

Samuel Adams, already in the secret, immediately moved an adjournment of the house, in order that the members might have time to deliberate on a nomination so unexpected and so surprising.

On the 15th of June, two days only before the battle of Bunker's hill, congress convened in the hall to decide the important question. As individuals, they had given to the subject a deep and solemn deliberation, commensurate with its vital importance to the country. Until the annunciation of Washington's name by John Adams, probably no one had even thought of him—but now, but one sentiment prevailed. He was the man, and their ballots unanimously confirmed the choice. The delegates of Massachusetts had other predilections; but, nobly relinquishing sectional claims, and even partialities, they united with the others, and rendered the choice unanimous. That was a happy day—that a fortunate selection for America. And who can doubt that the God by whose providence nations rise and fall, guided that choice, with the same benign influence which was exerted upon the prophet in a prior age of the world, when from among his brethren he selected David as the successor of Saul?

In a few days, following the appointment of Washington, congress published a manifesto, setting forth to the world the causes which had led them to take up arms. After enumerating these causes, in a tone of manly assurance, and yet of humble dependence upon Almighty God, they said:

"Our cause is just—our union is perfect—our internal resources are great—and, if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable. We gratefully acknowledge, as signal instances of Divine favor towards us, that His providence would not permit us to be called into this severe controversy, until we were grown to our present strength, had been previously exercised in warlike operations, and possessed of the means of defending ourselves. With[Pg 297] hearts, fortified with these animating reflections, we must most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which the beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance, employ for the preservation of our liberties; being, with one mind, resolved to die freemen, rather than to live slaves." Finally, they added: "With an humble confidence in the mercies of the supreme and impartial Judge and Ruler of the universe, we most devoutly implore His divine goodness, to protect us happily through this great conflict, to dispose our adversaries to reconciliation on reasonable terms, and thereby relieve the empire from the calamities of civil war."

The above manifesto was sent into every part of the country, and read from the pulpits by the ministers of religion, with suitable exhortations. In the camps of Boston, it was read with particular solemnity. Major-General Putnam assembled his division, upon the heights of Prospect hill, to hear it. It was followed by a prayer, analogous to the occasion; the general having given the signal, all the troops cried, three times, amen! and, at the same instant, the artillery of the fort fired a general salute; the colors, recently sent to General Putnam, were seen waving with the usual motto "An appeal to Heaven;" and this other, "Qui transulit sustinet." The same ceremony was observed in the other divisions. The joy and enthusiasm were universal.

It may be added, in this connexion, as an evidence of the piety of our fathers—of the belief of a superintending providence, which characterized that generation, that congress recommended a public fast to be observed in all the colonies, on the 20th of July. The soldiers, they recommended to be "humane and merciful;" and all classes of citizens, "to humble themselves, to fast, to pray, and to implore the Divine assistance, in this day of trouble and of peril."

[Pg 298]

Congress, in a body, attended divine services on that day, in one of the churches of Philadelphia. Just as they were about to enter the temple, important intelligence was received from Georgia. It was, that that province, which had hitherto held itself aloof from the common cause, had joined the confederation, and had appointed five delegates for its representation in Congress. While humbling themselves, God was blessing and exalting them. No news scarcely could have occasioned more joy; and this was heightened, in consideration of the moment at which the government and people were apprised of it.

Tailpiece—Penn laying out Philadelphia

[Pg 299]

Evacuation of Boston


General Officers appointed—Washington repairs to Cambridge—State of the Army—Great want of Gunpowder—Sickness in the Camp—Dorchester heights fortified—Proposal of the British General to attack the American Intrenchments—Alters his plan, and evacuates Boston—Embarkation of the British—Washington enters the city.

Having elected a commander-in-chief, congress proceeded to the selection of other experienced officers.—Artimas Ward, Charles Lee, and Philip Schuyler, were appointed major-generals, and Horatio Gates adjutant-general. These appointments were followed, a few days after, by that of eight brigadier-generals: Seth Pomeroy, William Heath, and John Thomas, of Massachusetts; Richard Montgomery, of New York; David Wooster and Joseph Spencer, of Connecticut; John Sullivan, of New Hampshire; and Nathaniel Greene, of Rhode Island.

In July, Washington, accompanied by General Lee, repaired to the camp near Boston; receiving, on his journey thither, the highest honors from the most distinguished[Pg 300] citizens. On making a review of the army, soon after his arrival, he found an immense multitude, of whom only fourteen thousand five hundred were in a condition fit for service. But even these, in respect to uniform, equipment, and discipline, exhibited a variety most disheartening and painful to a commander. As to discipline, it scarcely existed. The subordinate officers were without emulation; and the privates, having been unaccustomed to the rules and regulations of a camp, were impatient of all subordination.

House at Cambridge where Washington resided.

House at Cambridge where Washington resided.

Fortunately, the newly-appointed generals soon arrived, and with great alacrity betook themselves to the task of reform. General Gates, who was versed in the details of military organization, exerted a powerful influence in this salutary work. In a short period, the camp presented an improved aspect. The soldiers became accustomed to obedience; regulations were observed; each began to know his duty; and, at length, instead of a mass of irregular militia, the camp presented the spectacle of a properly-disciplined army. It was divided into three corps: the right, under the command of Ward, occupied Roxbury; the left, conducted by Lee, defended Prospect hill; and the center, which comprehended a select corps, destined for reserve, was stationed at Cambridge, where Washington himself[Pg 301] had established his head-quarters. The circumvallation was fortified by so great a number of redoubts, and supplied with so formidable an artillery, that it had become impossible for the besieged to assault Cambridge, and spread themselves in the open country. It was believed, also, that they had lost a great many men, as well upon the field of battle as in consequence of wounds and disease.

Another material deficiency was the want of gunpowder. In the depositories at Roxbury, Cambridge, and other places, there were found to be only ninety-six barrels; the magazines of Massachusetts contained but thirty-six more; and, after adding to this quantity all that New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut could furnish, the amount fell short of ten thousand pounds, which allowed only nine charges to a man. In this scarcity and danger, the army remained more than fifteen days; during which time, had the English attacked them, they might easily have forced the lines, and raised the siege. At length, by the exertions of the committee of New Jersey, a few tons of powder arrived at the camp, which supplied for the moment the necessities of the army, and averted the evils that were feared.

The providing of gunpowder had now become an important, and even an essential consideration. Accordingly, it was recommended, by a resolution of congress, that all the colonies should put themselves, in a state of defence, and provide themselves with the greatest possible number of men, of arms, and of munitions; and, especially, that they should make diligent search for saltpetre and sulphur. An exact scrutiny was therefore commenced, in the cellars and in the stables, in pursuit of materials so essential to modern war. In every part, manufactories of gunpowder and foundries of cannon, were seen rising; every place resounded with the preparations of war. The provincial assemblies and conventions seconded admirably the operations of congress; and the people obeyed, with incredible promptitude, the orders of these various authorities. In addition to these measures, several fast-sailing[Pg 302] vessels were despatched to the coast of Guinea, where they procured immense quantities, having purchased it of European ships, employed in the trade. The assembly of Massachusetts even prohibited the use of powder in shooting at game, or its expenditure in public rejoicing.

In the autumn of 1775, General Gage obtained leave to repair to England; or, according to some authorities, was rëcalled by the king. During his administration, he had rendered himself odious to the Americans, and now they heard of his retirement without regret. He was succeeded in command by General William Howe, a gentleman much esteemed for his talents, and, withal, less vindictive in his temper.

Towards the close of the year, Washington was environed with difficulties. Great responsibilities were resting upon him, with which his means were far from being commensurate. The organization of the army, notwithstanding his greatest efforts, was very imperfect. The ardor of the troops, having little excitement beyond an occasional skirmish, was evidently abating. In not a few instances, a spirit of rapacity had been manifested, by portions of the troops, and depredations were made upon private as well as public property. Several generals, dissatisfied with the promotions made by congress, resigned their commissions, and returned home. Sickness, especially the dysentery, appeared in the camp, and proved a distressing visitant. The cold weather set in, and occasioned great suffering to the soldiers, who were destitute of barracks and other conveniences.

While these and other troubles were in a degree disturbing the calmness of Washington, other considerations did not serve to allay his anxiety. "He knew that congress anxiously contemplated more decisive steps, and that the country looked for events of greater magnitude. The public was ignorant of his actual situation, and conceived his means, for offensive operations, to be much greater than they were; and they expected from him the capture or[Pg 303] expulsion of the British army, in Boston. He felt the importance of securing the confidence of his countrymen, by some brilliant action, and was fully sensible that his own reputation was liable to suffer, if he confined himself solely to measures of defence." To publish to his anxious country the state of his army, would be to acquaint the enemy with his weakness, and to hazard his destruction. The firmness and patriotism of General Washington were displayed, in making the good of his country an object of higher consideration, than the applause of those who were incapable of forming a correct opinion of the propriety of his measures. On this, and on many other occasions during the war, he withstood the voice of the populace, rejected the entreaties of the sanguine, and refused to adopt the plans of the rash, that he might ultimately secure the great object of contention. While he resolutely rejected every measure which, in his calm and deliberate judgment he did not approve, he daily pondered the practicability of a successful attack upon Boston. As a preparatory step, he took possession of Plowed hill, Cobble hill, and Lechmere's point, and erected fortifications upon them. These posts brought him within half a mile of the enemy's works on Bunker's hill, and, by his artillery, he drove the British floating-batteries from their stations in Charles' river. He erected floating-batteries to watch the movements of his enemy, and to aid in any offensive operations that circumstances might warrant. In these circumstances, he took the opinion of his general officers, respecting an attack upon Boston; but they unanimously gave their opinion in opposition to the measure, and this opinion was immediately communicated to congress. Congress appeared, however, to favor the attempt; and, that an apprehension of danger to the town of Boston might not have an undue influence upon the operations of the army, resolved, 'That if General Washington and his council of war should be of opinion that a successful attack might be made on the troops in Boston, he should make it in any manner he might think it[Pg 304] expedient, notwithstanding the town and the property therein might thereby be destroyed.'[34]

Towards the close of February, the stock of powder having been considerably increased, and the regular army, which amounted to fourteen thousand men, being rëinforced by six thousand of the militia of Massachusetts, Washington himself was disposed to carry the war against the British into Boston; but his general officers dissenting, he reluctantly acquiesced, and turned his attention to the taking possession of Dorchester heights, by which he would be able to command the city.

The announcement of this intention, diffused joy throughout the American army, and each one prepared himself to obey the summons in case his service was required. The night of the 4th of March, was selected for the enterprise, in hope that a recollection of the tragic scenes of the 5th of March, 1770, would rouse the spirit of the soldiers to a degree commensurate with the daring exploit proposed.

Accordingly, on the evening of the 4th, the necessary arrangements having been made, the Americans proceeded in profound silence towards the peninsula of Dorchester. The obscurity of the night was propitious, and the wind favorable, since it could not bear to the enemy the little noise which it was impossible to avoid. The frost had rendered the roads easy. The batteries of Phipps' farm, and those of Roxbury, incessantly fulminated with a stupendous roar.

Eight hundred men composed the van-guard; it was followed by carriages, filled with utensils of intrenchment, and twelve hundred pioneers led by General Thomas. In the rear-guard were three hundred carts of fascines, of gabions, and bundles of hay, destined to cover the flank of the troops, in the passage of the isthmus of Dorchester, which, being very low, was exposed to be raked on both sides by the artillery of the English vessels.

"All succeeded perfectly; the Americans arrived upon[Pg 305] the heights, not only without being molested, but even without being perceived by the enemy.

Fortifying Dorchester heights.

Fortifying Dorchester heights.

"They set themselves to work with an activity so prodigious, that by ten o'clock at night, they had already constructed two forts, in condition to shelter them from small arms and grape-shot; one upon the height nearest to the city, and the other upon that which looks towards Castle island. The day appeared, but it prevented not the provincials from continuing their works, without any movement being made on the part of the garrison. When the latter discovered these deeds of the Americans, nothing could exceed their astonishment. Their only alternative, it was at once apparent, was either to dislodge the Americans, or abandon the town.

"The first intention of Howe was to attempt the former, and preparations were made accordingly; but he was compelled to defer the attack till the following morning. During the night a storm arose, and when the day dawned, the sea was still excessively agitated. A violent rain came[Pg 306] to increase the obstacles; the English general kept himself quiet. But the Americans made proper use of this delay; they erected a third redoubt, and completed the other works. Colonel Mifflin had prepared a great number of hogsheads full of stones and sand, in order to roll them upon the enemy when he should march up to the assault, to break his ranks, and throw him into a confusion that might smooth the way to his defeat."

On more mature reflection, General Howe was convinced of the impolicy of attempting to dislodge the Americans. If success should crown such an enterprise, it would, indeed, be highly auspicious to the British cause, but a failure would be fatal. The other alternative, therefore, was the only choice left.

Having taken this resolution, General Howe notified the selectmen of Boston, that the city being no longer of any use to the king, he was resolved to abandon it; but, if opposed, he should fire it, and for this purpose ample materials had been provided. To these conditions it appears, from what followed, that Washington consented; but the articles of the truce were never written. The Americans remained quiet spectators of the retreat of the English. But the city presented a melancholy spectacle; notwithstanding the orders of General Howe, all was havoc and confusion. Fifteen hundred loyalists, with their families and their most valuable effects, hastened, with infinite dejection of mind, to abandon a residence which had been so dear to them, and where they had so long enjoyed felicity. The fathers carrying burdens, and the mothers their children, went weeping towards the ships; the last salutations, the farewell embraces of those who departed and of those who remained; the sick, the wounded, the aged, the infants, would have moved with compassion the witnesses of their distress, if the care of their own safety had not absorbed the attention of all.

"The carts and beasts of burden were become the occasion of sharp disputes between the inhabitants, who had[Pg 307] retained them, and the soldiers, who wished to employ them. The disorder was also increased by the animosity that prevailed between the soldiers of the garrison and those of the fleet; they reproached each other mutually, as the authors of their common misfortune. With one accord, however, they complained of the coldness and ingratitude of their country, which seemed to have abandoned, or rather forgotten them upon these distant shores, a prey to so much misery, and to so many dangers. For, since the month of October, General Howe had not received from England any order or intelligence whatever, which testified that the government still existed, and had not lost sight of the army of Boston.

"Meanwhile, a desperate band of soldiers and sailors took advantage of the confusion to force doors, and pillage the houses and shops. They destroyed what they could not carry away. The entire city was devoted to devastation, and it was feared every moment that the flames would break out to consummate its destruction.

"The 15th of March, General Howe issued a proclamation, forbidding any inhabitant to go out of his house before eleven o'clock in the morning, in order not to disturb the embarkation of the troops, which was to have taken place on that day. But an east wind prevented their departure. Meanwhile, the Americans had constructed a redoubt upon the point of Nook's hill, on the peninsula of Dorchester; and having furnished it with artillery, they entirely commanded the isthmus of Boston, and all the southern part of the town. It was even to be feared that they would occupy Noddle's island, and establish batteries, which, sweeping the surface of the water across the harbor, would have entirely interdicted the passage to the ships, and reduced the garrison to the necessity of yielding at discretion. All delay became dangerous; consequently, the British troops and the loyalists began to embark the 17th of March, at four in the morning, and by ten, all were on board.

[Pg 308]

"The vessels were overladen with men and baggage; provisions were scanty, confusion was every where. The rear-guard was scarcely out of the city, when Washington entered it on the other side, with colors displayed, drums beating, and all the forms of victory and triumph. He was received by the inhabitants with every demonstration of gratitude and respect due to a deliverer. Their joy broke forth with the more vivacity, as their sufferings had been long and cruel. For more than sixteen months they had endured hunger, thirst, cold, and the outrages of an insolent soldiery, who deemed them rebels. The most necessary articles of food were risen to exorbitant prices.

"Horse flesh was not refused by those who could procure it. For want of fuel, the pews and benches of churches were taken up for this purpose; the counters and partitions of warehouses were applied to the same uses, and even houses, not inhabited, were demolished for the sake of the wood. The English left a great quantity of artillery and munitions. Two hundred and fifty pieces of cannon, of different caliber, were found in Boston, in Castle island, and in the intrenchments of Bunker's hill, and the Neck. The English had attempted, but with little success, in their haste, to destroy or to spike these last pieces; others had been thrown into the sea, but they were recovered. There were found besides, four mortars, a considerable quantity of coal, of wheat, and of other grains, and one hundred and fifty horses."[35]

Dr. Thatcher in his 'Military Journal,' thus describes a visit which he made to the Old South church, a few days after the evacuation:

"March 23d.—I went to view the Old South church, a spacious brick building, near the centre of the town. It had been for more than a century consecrated to the service of religion, and many eminent divines have in its pulpit labored in teaching the ways of righteousness and[Pg 309] truth. But, during the late siege, the inside of it was entirely destroyed by the British, and the sacred building occupied as a riding school for Burgoyne's regiment of dragoons. The pulpit and pews were removed, the floor covered with earth, and used for the purpose of training and exercising their horses. A beautiful pew, ornamented with carved work and silk furniture, was demolished; and by order of an officer, the carved work, it is said, was used as a fence for a hog-sty. The North church, a very valuable building, was entirely demolished, and consumed for fuel. Thus are our houses, devoted to religious worship, profaned and destroyed by the subjects of his royal majesty. His excellency, the commander-in-chief, has been received by the inhabitants with every mark of respect and gratitude; and a public dinner has been provided for him. He requested the Rev. Dr. Elliot, at the renewal of his customary Thursday lecture, to preach a thanksgiving sermon, adapted to the joyful occasion. Accordingly, on the 28th, this pious divine preached an appropriate discourse from Isaiah xxxiii. 20, in presence of his excellency and a respectable audience."

The recovery of Boston was an important event, and as such was hailed with joyful triumph throughout the colonies. A golden medal, commemorative of the occasion, was struck by order of congress, and a vote of thanks was passed to Washington and the army "for their wise and spirited conduct in the siege and acquisition of Boston."

[Pg 310]

General Putnam reading the Declaration to the Connecticut Troops.

General Putnam reading the Declaration to the Connecticut Troops.


Independence begun to be contemplated—Causes which increased a desire for such an event—Question of a Declaration of Independence enters the Colonial Assemblies—Introduced to Congress by Richard Henry Lee—Debated—State of Parties in respect to it—Measures adopted to secure a favorable vote—Question taken—Declaration adopted—Signed—The great Act of the Revolution—Influence of it immediately perceived—Character and merits of the Signers of that Instrument—The 4th of July, a time-honored and glorious day!—How it should be celebrated.

For some time previous to the winter of 1775-6, the ultimate separation of the colonies from Great Britain must have occurred to the leading men of America as a possible event. But the people at large had, at that time, not only not contemplated such an event, but would have been startled by the proposal. The proceedings of the British parliament, however, at length became so unjust, and even monstrous, as to array most of the Americans against the parent-country, and to excite a wish in the bosoms of thousands that the colonies were free from her dominion.

The news of the battle of Bunker's hill not only roused to indignation the king and his ministers, but convinced[Pg 311] them that "a flock of Yankees" were not so despisable objects as they had supposed; and that if the arms of the Americans were not so brightly burnished as those of his majesty's disciplined troops, nevertheless, in the firm hands and under the practised eye of "country boors," they could make sad havoc among them.

A large augmentation of the forces in America, contrary to all previous opinion, was now deemed essential. Accordingly, an act was introduced into parliament, authorizing the employment of sixteen thousand German troops, which, with the British regiments in, and about to be sent to America, would constitute a force of nearly fifty thousand men. The minority in parliament reprobated the employment of mercenary troops, in strong and unmeasured terms. But little did the friends of America in parliament feel, in view of such a step, compared with the Americans themselves. "Arm foreigners against us!" they exclaimed; "let us treat the English themselves as foreigners. Better for us to be eternally separated from them, than to be exposed to such cruelty." But the indignation of the Americans was, if possible, still more increased by another act of parliament, passed at the same session, viz: "prohibiting all trade and commerce with the colonies; and authorizing the capture and condemnation, not only of all American vessels with their cargoes, but all other vessels found trading, in any port or place in the colonies, as if the same were the vessels and effects of open enemies; and the vessels and property thus taken were vested in the captors, and the crews were to be treated, not as prisoners, but as slaves." By another clause, British subjects were authorized to compel men taken on board of American vessels, whether crews or other persons, to fight against their own countrymen!

By such measures, cruel and impolitic, did the British authorities compel the Americans, not only to take up arms against the mother-country, but to desire a lasting separation from her.

[Pg 312]

Thus the leaven commenced, and by degrees diffused itself through the mass. Shortly after, the gazettes began to speak out. These were followed by the issue of several pamphlets; among which, that entitled Common Sense, by Thomas Paine, "produced a wonderful effect in the different colonies in favor of independence." Influential individuals in every colony urged it as a step absolutely necessary, to preserve the rights and liberties, as well as to secure the happiness and prosperity of America. Reconciliation, they said, on any terms compatible with the preservation and security of these great and important objects, was now impossible. These sentiments were disseminated among the people by distinguished individuals, in a variety of ways. The chief justice of South Carolina, William Henry Dayton, appointed under the new form of government, just adopted, in his charge to the grand jurors, in April, after justifying the proceedings of that colony, in forming a new government, on the principles of the revolution in England, in 1688, thus concludes: "The Almighty created America to be independent of Great Britain: let us beware of the impiety of being backward to act as instruments in the Almighty's hand, now extended to accomplish his purpose; and by the completion of which alone, America, in the nature of human affairs, can be secure against the crafty and insidious designs of her enemies, who think her power and prosperity already far too great. In a word, our piety and political safety are so blended, that to refuse our labors in this divine work, is to refuse to be a great, a free, a pious, and a happy people." This was bold language for one so prominent to utter. In the view of royalists, it was treasonable; but in the estimation of the true friends of American liberty, if bold, it was just and patriotic.

At length, the question of independence entered some of the colonial assemblies and conventions, and expressions in favor of such a measure were made. North Carolina, it is believed, has the honor of taking the lead, as a province, having by her convention, as early as April 22d, empowered[Pg 313] their delegates in congress, "to concur with those in the other colonies in declaring independency."[36]

On the 15th of May the convention of Virginia went still further, and unanimously instructed their delegates in the general congress, "to propose to that respectable body, to declare the united colonies free and independent states, absolved from all allegiance or dependence upon the crown or parliament of Great Britain; and to give the assent of that colony to such declaration." During the same month, Massachusetts and Rhode Island virtually adopted similar resolutions. In short, public sentiment appeared to be setting strongly in favor of action, on this great and momentous question.

Meanwhile, congress were not idle or uninterested spectators of events. They had been watching with no small solicitude the "signs of the times." Personally, they had counted the cost. Most of the members had come to the conclusion that rather than be slaves, as they had been, they would sacrifice fortune and life itself. These, therefore, they were willing to peril, by any act or declaration which might seem to contribute to their country's cause.

[Pg 314]

But a sacred regard to that cause, required the utmost prudence. Premature action might injure a cause which they wished, above all others, to benefit. The popular feelings must have become duly interested—the popular will must precede and direct.

At length, the propitious time was believed to have arrived, and in humble dependence upon the guidance and protection of Almighty God, it was determined to go forward with this great and solemn work.

On the 7th of June, therefore, the great question of independence was brought directly before congress, by Richard Henry Lee, one of the delegates from Virginia. He submitted a resolution, declaring "that the united colonies are, and ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown; and that all political connection between them and Great Britain is, and ought to be, dissolved." The resolution was postponed until the next day, and every member enjoined to attend, to take the same into consideration. On the 8th, it was debated in committee of the whole.

No question of greater magnitude was ever presented to the consideration of a deliberative body, or debated with more eloquence, energy, and ability. Every member seemed duly impressed with the important bearing that their decision would have upon the future destiny of the country.

Mr. Lee, the mover, and Mr. John Adams were particularly distinguished in supporting, and Mr. John Dickinson in opposing the resolution. On the 10th, it was adopted in committee, by a bare majority of the colonies. The delegates from Pennsylvania and Maryland, were instructed to oppose it; and the delegates from some of the other colonies were without special instructions on the subject. To give time for greater unanimity, the resolution was postponed in the house, until the first of July. In the mean time, a committee, consisting of Mr. Jefferson, John Adams, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Sherman, and R. R. Livingston, was[Pg 315] appointed to prepare a declaration of independence. During this interval, measures were taken to procure the assent of all the colonies.[37]

A portion of the colonies had not given specific instructions to their delegates, while others had, and in opposition to the measure. On a question of such magnitude, it was deemed of the utmost importance that entire unanimity, if possible, should be had. The delegates of New York dispatched an express to the convention of that colony, then in session, for advice; but the convention, not considering themselves or their delegates authorized to declare the colony independent, recommended that the people, who were then about to elect new members to the convention, should give instructions on the subject. June 15th, New Hampshire instructed her delegates to join the other colonies on this question. On the 14th, Connecticut gave similar instructions. New Jersey followed on the 21st. Pennsylvania, the same month, removed restrictions which in the previous November, had been laid upon their delegates, and now authorized them to unite in the measure. Maryland had also instructed her delegates to vote against independence; but on the 28th of June, following the example of Pennsylvania, the members of this convention rëcalled their former instructions, and empowered their delegates to concur. These new instructions were immediately dispatched by express to Philadelphia, and, on 1st of July, were laid before congress.

On the same day, the resolution of Mr. Lee, relating to independence, was resumed in that body, referred to a committee of the whole, and was assented to by all the colonies, except Pennsylvania and Delaware.

The delegates from the former, then present, were seven, and four voted against it. The number present from Delaware, was only two—Thomas McKean and George Read—and they were divided; McKean in favor, and Read[Pg 316] against the resolution. Being reported to the house, at the request of a colony, the proposition was postponed until the next day, when it passed, and was entered on the journals. The declaration of independence was reported by the special committee on the 28th of June, and on the 4th of July, came before congress for final decision, and received the vote of every colony.

Two of the members from Pennsylvania, Morris and Dickinson, were absent; of the five who were present, Franklin, Wilson, and Morton, were in favor, and Willing and Humphrey against. Mr. McKean, to secure the vote of Delaware, sent an express for Mr. Rodney, the other delegate from that colony; who, although at the distance of eighty miles from Philadelphia, arrived in time on the 4th to unite with him in the vote, and thus complete the union of the colonies on this momentous question. The committee appointed to prepare a declaration of independence, selected Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson a sub-committee; and the original draft was made by Mr. Jefferson.

This draft, without any amendment by the committee, was reported to congress, and after undergoing several amendments, received their sanction.

It now only remained to affix their signatures to the declaration, and to publish it to the world, and their duty, in respect to this important measure, was done. Having been engrossed on parchment, it was brought out, and laid on the table. This was on the 2d of August. Meanwhile, some who had voted for the declaration, had left congress, and others had taken their places. The latter signed the instrument.

John Hancock, as president of the congress, led the way. Taking a pen, he recorded his name. He wrote with great power, and on the original parchment, no signature is so bold and full-faced as his. The others followed by states—fifty-six in number.

The declaration of independence, was the great act of the Revolution. It was the hinge on which turned the[Pg 317] important events which followed. Yet, at the period the plan was brought forward, it appeared to many to partake of the wildness and extravagance of some measure of the knight of la Mancha. At that day, the colonies were few and feeble. They had no political character—no bond of union but common sufferings, common necessities, and common danger. The inhabitants did not exceed three millions—they had no veteran army—no arsenals but barns—no munitions of war—few fortifications—no public treasury, no power to lay taxes, and no credit on which to obtain a loan.

John Hancock.

John Hancock.

No wonder that the hearts of some trembled. No wonder that many doubted the expediency of such a bold and adventurous step. Who was the nation with which the colonies had to contend?—the mistress of the world—a nation whose navy far exceeded that of any other nation on the globe. Her armies were numerous and veteran—her officers were skilful and practised—her statesmen subtle and sagacious, and were now fired with indignation.

All these circumstances were well known to the patriots[Pg 318] who composed the congress of '76. They were aware that they put in peril life, liberty, and country.

Yet, they well knew the importance of the measure proposed, and not only its importance, but its necessity. The country needed some great object distinctly before them. The colonies required a bond of union—a common cause—one expressed—recorded—recognised—some one great plan, the object of which they could pledge their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor, to secure. That plan was independence.

The influence of the declaration was immediately perceived—it roused the nation to a higher tone of feeling, and gave impulse and concentration to the national energies. It helped on the tide of Revolution, and mightily aided in driving back the waves of British oppression. But the full influence of that measure is not yet felt—is not yet seen. That belongs to distant time. Some day, hereafter, it will stand out in the great picture of human liberty, in all its grandeur and importance. More will be thought of it than of the splendid and long-lauded achievements of Marathon and Salamis—of Waterloo and Trafalgar!

Nor can we yet estimate the greatness of the men. We are still too near them. But they are rising higher and higher, every year that passes. As we retire into the distance from the date and scene of their actions, their magnitude and worth acquire their true and proper dimensions. In stern and self-denying virtue, they will compare with Regulus, and in a pure and lofty patriotism, will be placed on the same roll with William Tell and Robert the Bruce.

The signers of the declaration of American independence, and their compatriots in toil, and trial, and blood, will never be forgotten. They need no monument, but they deserve one; and, for myself, I wish there was one—a Revolutionary monument—erected by the nation—worthy of the empire whose liberties, civil and religious, they secured—one which should stand—if God pleased—through all time,[Pg 319] to serve as a consecrated offering to their patriotism, and the evidence of their imperishable glory:—a monument to which we might conduct our sons in future days; and, as they pondered the deeply engraved names of these heroes and martyrs to liberty—we, the fathers, might say, "Look upon your ancestry, and scorn to be slaves!"

What a day is the 4th of July, as it yearly recurs! The cannon on that day thunders from our hills—but it speaks of liberty. The bell from every spire sends forth its peal, but in sounds which impart a joyous impulse to the blood of the sire, and awaken a thrill of delight in the bosom of the stripling.

No other nation ever celebrated such a day. Days of joy and jubilee they have had; but they were days which, while they removed one usurper from the throne, made way for another; or celebrated some ambitious hero's victories, achieved at the expense of slaughtered thousands. Is it the spirit of an unholy triumph, which prompts the Americans to dwell with delight upon the day? Patriotic sympathy would hail with joy such a day, for any nation on the globe. And such a day, we trust, will come for all; when the sun of liberty, which warms and refreshes us, will fill with joy even the vassals of the Russian autocrat, and spread his heart-cheering beams over the tyrannized millions of the misnamed "celestial empire."

It has sometimes been cast upon us as a reproach, that we exalt the day too much. Exalt it too much! It has indeed sometimes been abused. The spirit of liberty has grown wanton, and excess has sullied the irreproachable propriety, which should ever characterize the demonstrations of joy on such a day as this. But those days are chiefly passed. No—whence the charge of exalting the day too highly?—Not by those who have tasted the sweets of American liberty, nor by those who have drawn long and deep draughts from the refreshing fountains of western freedom. Oh, no—not by such; but by the hirelings of some eastern usurper—by the myrmidons of crowned[Pg 320] heads, who hate a day which speaks so loudly of rational liberty to the rest of the world in bondage.

What monarch in Europe would think his throne safe, were his subjects to witness an American celebration of the 4th of July? It would open visions before them upon which they would gaze with intense emotions. It would excite pantings after liberty, which, if unresisted, would convulse every nation, and demolish every despotic throne. What would the Russian serf say, were he to look in upon the smiling faces which course the streets of a New England village, on a bright and balmy 4th of July? What would the subjects of Algerine or Turkish despotism say?

Yet we exalt the day too much! But for that day, what would have been our present condition? Where would have been that constitution, under which our political voyage of more than sixty years has been made with so much prosperity to the nation? Where were that enterprise which has levelled our forests, and spread a smiling and happy population over our western wilds? Where that inventive genius, which, in its creations, has rivalled, and in some respects excelled, the inventions of Europe? Look at our ships—our manufactures—our printing establishments—our cities—our canals—our railroads—our thousand and ten thousand sources of wealth and happiness—where had these been, but for the 4th of July, 1776, connected as it was, and must ever be, with the achievement of our national independence? Would Great Britain have suffered these? Would she have seen such thrift—such expansion—such accumulation of national power, and not have repressed it—when she could not bear, without passing prohibitory laws, that our forefather's should make a hat to cover their heads—or manufacture a sheet of paper on which to write a letter to a friend! Had the mother-country had her will, where had been the genius of Fulton, Whitney, and Clinton? On the other side of the waters—not on this. Our halls of legislature would have failed in the manly eloquence of rival orators, and our temples of worship would have been[Pg 321] devoted to God and the aggrandizement of a phalanx of spiritual lords.

Said a patriarch and apostle of liberty, just after the vote on the question of independence had been taken—"Let the day be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God. Let it be solemnized with pomp, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward for ever."

The patriarch uttered noble and patriotic sentiments. Be the day remembered now and for ever. Remember it, fathers, as connected with the civil and religious blessings, which have been your portion in your earthly pilgrimage. Remember it, mothers, for it has made you the wives and companions of freemen. Remember it sons and daughters, as the birth-day of liberty, but for which you might be shedding your blood in the service of a tyrant, or staining your virtue in the embraces of a bachanalian.

Be it remembered—and as it recurs—and may it recur with every year while time shall last—first and foremost let the tribute of a devout homage ascend to the GOD of our fathers—to Him, who imparted wisdom to their counsel and success to their arms—who, when darkness encircled them, dispelled it—when stores failed, supplied them—who was a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night—to Him be glory for a land like that which the patriarch saw from Pisgah—and whose hills are like those of Lebanon and Carmel.

The day is becoming a religious festival. This is right. Let the sanctuary be opened, and homage be offered there. Let our Sabbath-schools assemble, and fill our groves with divine song. But never should we dispense with other innocent demonstrations of joy. Let the cannon thunder from our hills—let the bells peal through our villages and through our vallies. In every appropriate way, let the future generations celebrate that glad era in our history when British cohorts were obliged to retire, and "God save the king" on the rolling drum, died upon our shores.

[Pg 322]


Invasion of Southern Colonies proposed—Expedition dispatched—Charleston its first Object—Proceedings of its Citizens—Sullivan's island Fortified—Arrival of General Lee—His opinion of Fort Moultrie—British Fleet arrives—Preliminary movements—Fort Moultrie attacked—Remarkable Defence of it—Action described—Heroic conduct of Sergeant Jasper—British repulsed—Respective losses—Liberal conduct of Governor Rutledge—Mrs. Elliot—Death of Jasper.

The successful defence of Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan's island, is justly considered one of the noblest achievements recorded in the annals of the Revolution.

The reduction of the southern colonies to obedience, was deemed a measure of prime importance by the British government, nor was it considered a project of difficult achievement. Hitherto the principal theatre of the war had been in the north; and, hence, it was calculated that preparations for the defence of the southern colonies had been so much neglected, that little more than a demonstration in that quarter would be necessary to bring the people to terms.

Early in 1776, an expedition having the above object in view was devised, the command of which was entrusted to Sir Peter Parker and Earl Cornwallis. Accordingly, on the 3d of May, Admiral Parker, with twenty sail, arrived at Cape Fear, with Generals Cornwallis, Vaughan, and several others.

General Clinton was expected from New York, with another considerable corps, to cöoperate in the attack. With his troops he had arrived at the point of destination, even anterior to the naval armament; and, being the senior general, on the junction of the forces, assumed the command. The immediate object was the reduction and possession of Charleston, the capital of South Carolina; on the fall of which, the subjugation of that and the other southern provinces would be an easy achievement.

The meditated invasion was not unknown to the Carolinians, who, being a high-minded and chivalrous people,[Pg 323] determined that if their capital fell, it should be at an expense of a treasure of British blood.

With great activity and energy, therefore, they betook themselves to the fortification of every assailable point. With patriotic disinterestedness, the citizens demolished their valuable store-houses on the wharves to supply materials for defence. Streets were barricaded, and intrenchments erected along the shore. Even windows were stripped of their weights, to supply the demand for bullets. The inhabitants generally came to the work of defence, and scarcely a man on the ground could be discovered without a spade, a pickaxe, or other implement of work. Even the blacks from the city, and for miles in the country, were employed, and seemed animated with the enthusiasm and zeal of their masters. The commanding general was Major-general Lee, who, having been appointed by congress to the command of the southern forces, and possessing the entire confidence of the troops and of the people, was enabled to carry to completion the various works of defence, which his knowledge and skill had decided to be important. Governor Rutledge, also a man of great influence in the province, cöoperated with General Lee, in all his measures of defence, and by his example and exhortations essentially contributed to the happy results which followed.

At the distance of six miles from the point of land formed by the confluence of the two rivers, Ashley and Cooper, and on which Charleston is built, lies Sullivan's island. It commands the channel which leads to the port. The due fortification of this point was a matter of great moment. The outline of a fort had already been marked out, to complete which, Colonel William Moultrie, a singularly brave and accomplished officer, was dispatched early in March. Palmetto trees, which from their soft and spongy texture, were admirably calculated to deprive a ball of its impetus without causing splinters, had been cut in the forest, and the logs in huge rafts lay moored to the beach. "Ignorant of gunnery, but confident in their own resources, and[Pg 324] nerved with resolute courage, Moultrie and his coadjutors, hardy sons of the soil, heaved those huge logs from the water, and began the work. A square pen was built, with bastions from each angle, capable of covering a thousand men. The logs were laid in two parallel rows, and sixteen feet apart; bound together with cross-timbers dove-tailed and bolted into logs, and the wide space filled with sand. When completed, it presented the appearance of a solid wall, sixteen feet wide; but its strength was yet to be tested. Behind this, Moultrie placed four hundred and thirty-five men, and thirty-one cannon, some of them twenty-sixes, some eighteens, and the rest of smaller caliber—throwing in all five hundred and thirteen pounds.

"It was at this juncture that Lee arrived from the north, and took command of the troops. When his eye, accustomed to the scientific structures of Europe, fell on this rudely-built affair, he smiled in derision, calling it a 'slaughter-pen,' and requested Governor Rutledge to have it immediately evacuated. But that noble patriot was made of sterner stuff, and replied, 'that while a soldier remained alive, he would never give his sanction to such an order.'"

The naval force of the British, consisted of the Bristol and Experiment, of fifty guns; four frigates, the Active, the Acteon, the Solebay, and the Syren, of twenty-eight; the Sphynx, of twenty, the Friendship, of twenty-two, two smaller vessels of eight, and the Thunder, a bomb-ketch. On reaching the bar, at the entrance of the channels of Charleston, it was found that the fifty-gun ships could not pass without being lightened. The removal and rëplacement of their guns was attended with incredible labor; and although thus lightened, they struck, and for a time were in danger of bilging.

Meanwhile, General Clinton issued his proclamation, which he dispatched to the city with a flag, demanding the citizens to lay down their arms, and to return to their allegiance, on pain of an immediate attack, and an utter[Pg 325] overthrow. To this demand, not even the civility of a reply was accorded, and the threatened attack, on the morning of the 28th of June, was commenced.

To the citizens of Charleston those were anxious hours. There was hope, but more of fear. They filled the wharves, the roofs, and the steeples—in short, every eminence was black with spectators, gazing on the exciting scene and the approaching conflict.

It was a calm, bright, beautiful day. The wind being fair, the British fleet came steadily, proudly, towards the "slaughter-pen," and one after another took the positions assigned them. The Americans watched them with intense interest—"Moultrie's eye flashed with delight." Every gun was loaded—every one was manned—and all were now anxiously waiting the order to fire. At length, a portion of the fleet had reached point-blank-shot distance, when Moultrie, who, like Prescott at the battle of Bunker's hill, had restrained his anxiously-waiting men, now gave the word of command "Fire!"—And they did fire—and "the shores shook with the tremendous explosion."

The fleet continued to advance, a little abreast of the fort, when letting go their anchors, and clewing up their sails, they opened upon the fort. More than a hundred cannon!—their blaze, their smoke, their roar—all in the same instant—it was a terrible commencement—the stoutest heart palpitated! every one unconsciously held his breath!

"The battle had now fairly commenced, and the guns were worked with fearful rapidity. It was one constant peal of thunder, and to the spectators in Charleston, that low spot, across the bay, looked like a volcano breaking forth from the sea. Lee stood on Haddrell's point, watching the effect of the first fire. When the smoke lifted, like the folds of a vast curtain, he expected to see that 'slaughter-pen' in fragments; but there still floated the flag of freedom, and beneath it beat brave hearts, to whom that awful cannonade was but 'a symphony to the grand march of independence.' When the fight had fairly begun, they thought[Pg 326] no more of those heavy guns than they did of their rifles. Their coats were hastily flung one side, and their hats with them—and in their shirt-sleeves, with handkerchiefs about their heads, they toiled away under the sweltering sun with the coolness and courage of old soldiers. The fire from those nine vessels, with their cannon all trained upon that pile of logs, was terrific, and it trembled like a frightened thing under the shock; but the good palmettoes closed silently over the balls, as they buried themselves in the timber and sand, and the work went bravely on. Thus, hour after hour, did it blaze, and flame, and thunder there on the sea, while the shots of the Americans told with murderous effect. At every discharge, those vessels shook as if smitten by a rock—the planks were ripped up, the splinters hurled through the air, and the decks strewed with mangled forms. Amid the smoke, bombs were seen traversing the air, and dropping, in an incessant shower, within the fort—but a morass in the middle swallowed them up as fast as they fell. At length, riddled through and through, her beds of mortar broken up, the bomb-vessel ceased firing. Leaving the smaller vessels, as unworthy of his attention, Moultrie trained his guns upon the larger ones, and 'Look to the Commodore! look to the fifty-gun ship!' passed along the lines, and they did look to the Commodore in good earnest, sweeping her decks at every discharge with such fatal fire, that at one time there was scarcely a man left upon the quarter-deck. The Experiment, too, came in for her share of consideration—her decks were slippery with blood, and nearly a hundred of her men were borne below, either killed or wounded. Nor were the enemy idle, but rained back a perfect tempest of balls; but that brave garrison had got used to the music of cannon, and the men, begrimed with powder and smoke, shot with the precision and steadiness they would have done in firing at a target. As a heavy ball, in full sweep, touched the top of the works, it took one of the coats, lying upon the logs, and lodged it in a tree. 'See that coat! see that coat!'[Pg 327] burst in a laugh on every side, as if it had been a mere plaything that had whistled past their heads. Moultrie, after a while, took out his pipe, and lighting it, leaned against the logs, and smoked away with his officers, as if they were out there sunning themselves, instead of standing within the blaze, and smoke, and uproar of nearly two hundred cannon. Now and then he would take the pipe from his mouth to shout 'fire!' or give some order, and then commence puffing and talking—thus presenting a strange mixture of the droll and heroic. The hearts of the spectators in the distance, many of whom had husbands and brothers in the fight, were far more agitated than they against whom that fearful iron storm was hailing.

"After the fight had continued for several hours, Lee, seeing that the 'slaughter pen' held out so well, passed over to it in a boat, and remained for a short time. Accustomed as he was to battle, and to the disciplined valor of European troops, he still was struck with astonishment at the scene that presented itself as he approached. There stood Moultrie, quietly smoking his pipe, while the heavy and rapid explosions kept up a deafening roar; and there, stooping over their pieces, were those raw gunners firing with the deadly precision of practised artillerists. Amazed to find an English fleet, carrying two hundred and sixty guns, kept at bay by thirty cannon and four hundred men, he left the fort to its brave commander, and returned to his old station."[38]

Among the Americans, who were that day in the "slaughter-pen," and who were dealing death and destruction without stint, was a Sergeant Jasper, whose name has since been given to one of the counties in Georgia, for this and other heroic deeds. In the warmest of the contest, the flag-staff of the fort was shot away by a cannon-ball, and fell to the outside of the ramparts on the beach. The spectators at Charleston saw it fall, and supposing that the fort[Pg 328] had yielded, were filled with consternation and dismay. In the surrender of the fort, they read the destiny of themselves and city. But what was their joy to perceive that columns of smoke, from the fort, still continued to roll up—the blaze and thunder of its cannon continued to be seen and heard; and presently the folds of the flag again fluttered in the breeze. Sergeant Jasper was the hero of the occasion. He had witnessed the fall of the flag—and he saw it "stretched in dishonor on the sand." It was a perilous attempt, but he did not hesitate. Leaping the ramparts, he proceeded, amidst a shower of balls, the entire length of the fort, and, picking up the flag, tied it to a post, and rëplaced it on a parapet, and there, too, he himself supported it till another flag-staff could be procured. Here, once more, it proudly waved—amid the shouts and congratulations of the now still more courageous in the fort, and to the joy of still more distant and equally anxious spectators of the scene.

Sergeant Jasper replanting the Flag at Fort Moultrie.

Sergeant Jasper replanting the Flag at Fort Moultrie.

About this time, another circumstance sent a momentary[Pg 329] panic through the stern hearts of the defenders of the fort. The ammunition was failing, and a large force, which had effected a landing, was in rapid march to storm the works. Moultrie instantly dispatched Marion to a sloop-of-war for a supply, and another message to Governor Rutledge at Charleston. Both were successful—both in season. Said the governor, in a note accompanying five hundred pounds of powder, "Do not make too free with your cannon—cool, and do mischief."

With this fresh supply of ammunition, the fire, which had been relaxed, was redoubled. The British were astounded. They had congratulated themselves, upon the partial suspension of firing, that the fort was about to yield. But the new fury of the firing, on the part of the Americans, soon served to convince them of their error. They also redoubled their efforts, and, for a time, the contest was more terrible than ever. "Once," it is said, "the broadsides of four vessels exploded together, and when the balls struck the fort, it trembled in every timber and throughout its entire extent, and shook as if about to fall in pieces."

The day was now wearing away, and still the contest was undecided. The British, reluctant to relinquish an object which in the morning they imagined so easily won, still continued the heavy cannonade; while the Americans, gathering strength and courage by what they had already accomplished, stood firm and undaunted. At length, the sun went down behind the distant shore, and darkness threw its ample folds on every object of nature. But now, through the darkness, flames shot forth and thunders rolled, presenting a scene of solemn and indescribable grandeur. The inhabitants of Charleston still lingered on their watchtowers, gazing out through the gloom towards the spot where the battle was still raging in its fiercest intensity.

But they were not destined to hope and pray in vain. At about half-past nine, the fire from the English fleet suddenly ceased. They had fought long—fought with all the ardor and enthusiasm of friends to their king and his[Pg 330] cause. But they had fought in vain. Victory decided for Moultrie and his patriot band, and it only remained for the English to withdraw, as well as they were able, their ships, which had been nearly disabled, and their crews, which had been dreadfully reduced.

"The loss of the Americans, in this gallant action," says the writer whom we have already quoted, "was slight, amounting to only thirty-six, both killed and wounded, while that of the British, according to their own accounts, was a hundred and sixty. Double the number would probably be nearer the truth. The commander had his arm carried away. One is surprised that so few of the garrison were killed, when it is remembered that nearly ten thousand shots and shells were fired by the enemy that day. The Acteon, during the action, went aground, and the next morning a few shots were fired at her, when a party was sent to take possession of her. The crew, however, setting fire to her, pushed off. When the Americans got on board, they turned two or three of the guns on the fugitives, but, finding the flames approaching the magazine, abandoned the vessel. For a short time, she stood a noble spectacle, with her tall masts wreathed in flame, and black hull crackling and blazing below. But when the fire reached the powder, there suddenly shot up a huge column of smoke, spreading like a tree at the top, under the pressure of the atmosphere—and then the ill-fated vessel lifted heavily from the water, and fell back in fragments, with an explosion that was heard for miles around."

A few days following the battle, the fort was visited by Governor Rutledge and many of the distinguished ladies and gentlemen of Charleston. They came to see the old "slaughter-pen," which had so nobly withstood the attack under such long-practiced and accomplished officers as Parker, Clinton, and Cornwallis. Ample praises were bestowed upon the "rough-and-ready" soldiers, while mutual congratulations were exchanged with Moultrie and his brave associates in command. Nor was the gallant Jasper[Pg 331] forgotten. Taking from his side his sword, Governor Rutledge buckled it on the daring soldier, as a reward for his noble exploit. Following this, the accomplished Mrs. Elliot presented a pair of elegant colors to the regiment under Moultrie and Motte, with the following brief, but beautiful address: "The gallant behavior in defence of liberty and your country, entitle you to the highest honor; accept, then, two standards, as a reward justly due to your regiment; and I make not the least doubt, under Heaven's protection, you will stand by them as long as they can wave in the air of liberty."

The colors thus presented to Colonel Moultrie were, at a subsequent date, carried by him to Savannah, and were displayed during the assault against that place. Two officers were killed, while attempting to place them upon the enemy's parapet at the Spring-hill redoubt. Just before the retreat, Jasper, while endeavoring to rëplace them upon the works, received a mortal wound. When a retreat was ordered, he recollected the honorable condition upon which the donor presented them to his regiment, and among the last acts of his life, he succeeded in bringing them off.

To Major Horry, who called to see him a little while before his death, he said: "Major, I have got my furlough. That sword was presented to me by Governor Rutledge, for my services in defence of Fort Moultrie; give it to my father, and tell him I have worn it with honor. If he should weep, tell him his son died in hope of a better life. Tell Mrs. Elliot that I lost my life supporting the colors which she presented to our regiment."

Such was the affair at Fort Moultrie—such the patriotic and chivalrous conduct of men fighting for their altars, their homes, their wives, their children. Was it strange that, in a good cause, Heaven should smile on such high and heroic conduct? Was it strange that a people, so intent on the enjoyment of their just rights, should accomplish their object?

[Pg 332]

This repulse of the British, it may be added, was unexpected to them; and the more so, as they well knew that no systematic measure of defence had been adopted at the South. The contest had hitherto been in a different quarter, and no intimations had transpired of a contemplated change. In addition to this, the British were profoundly ignorant of the true southern character. They had learned some lessons in regard to the "Yankees;" and, especially, that if they were made of "stuff," it was "stern stuff;" but they had yet to learn, that the same kind of ore abounded south of the Potomac. The old "slaughter-pen" on Sullivan's Island, enlightened them, and impressed them as to the fact so fully, that the influence of the lesson lasted for two years and a half—that being the respite of the Southern states from the calamities of war, consequent upon the repulse of the British at Fort Moultrie.

Tailpiece—The Cotton-plant

[Pg 333]


British take possession of Staten Island—Strongly rëinforced—State of the American Army—Occupation of New York and Brooklyn—Battle of Brooklyn—Americans repulsed—Long Island abandoned—Remarkable retreat—Gloomy state of the American Army—Washington retreats to Harlem—Movements of the British—Washington retires to White Plains—Loss of Fort Washington—American Army pursued—Retreats successively to Brunswick, Princeton, and Trenton—Thence to the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware—British go into Winter-quarters between the Delaware and Hackensack—Capture of General Lee—Prevalent Spirit of Despondency.

From the commencement of hostilities to the evacuation of Boston by the British, the cause of the Americans had appeared to be specially favored by Heaven. In their several engagements, if they had not achieved decided victories, the effect of them was such as to inspire confidence, to diffuse through the colonies an unabated ardor, and the most lively anticipations of ultimate and not far-distant triumph. A season of sad reverse, and consequent dejection, however, was appointed for them, perhaps to teach them more entire dependence upon Divine Providence, and to enhance the value of a final conquest, when it should arrive, and which, though distant, was still in reserve for them.

On the retirement of the British fleet from Boston, Washington was left to conjecture its destination. Apprehending, however, a hostile attempt upon New York, he had, before their departure, detached a considerable force for the protection of that important post. The main army soon followed, and, on the 14th of April, entered the city. Measures were immediately adopted to place it in a state of defence.

Contrary to the expectations of Washington, the British fleet, on leaving the waters of Boston, directed its course to Halifax, at which place rëinforcements from England were expected by Sir William Howe. Disappointed, however, in this latter respect, and finding provisions for his troops scarce, he resolved on sailing for New York.

[Pg 334]

On the 2d of July, he took possession of Staten Island. The inhabitants of the island received the English general with great demonstrations of joy. The soldiers being quartered about in the villages, found, in abundance, the refreshments of which they were in the greatest need. Here General Howe was visited by Governor Tryon, who gave him precise information with respect to the state of the province, as also with regard to the forces and preparations of the enemy. Many inhabitants of New Jersey came to offer themselves to be enrolled for the royal service; even those of Staten Island were forward to enlist under the English standard; every thing announced that the army had only to show itself in the provinces to be assured of a prompt victory. Admiral Howe, after touching at Halifax, where he found dispatches from his brother, who urged him to come and join him at New York, made sail again immediately, and landed, without accident, at Staten Island, the 12th of July. General Clinton arrived about the same time, with the troops he rëconducted from the unfortunate expedition against Charleston. Commodore Hotham also appeared, with the rëinforcements under his escort; so that in a short time the army amounted to about twenty-four thousand men—English, Hessians, and Waldekers. Several regiments of Hessian infantry were expected to arrive shortly, when the army would be carried to the number of thirty-five thousand combatants, of the best troops of Europe. America had never seen such a display of forces.[39]

The Americans, on their part, meanwhile, had made every effort in their power to resist the danger to their cause, menaced by so formidable a force. The militia of the neighboring provinces, and a few regular regiments from Maryland, from Pennsylvania, and New England, had been called in, by which several augmentations the American force had been nominally raised to twenty-seven thousand. One-fourth part of these, however, were disabled[Pg 335] by sickness, and nearly an equal number were destitute of arms, leaving but about fourteen thousand and five hundred effective men. Among so heterogeneous a force, collected in a time of danger and excitement, there existed little opportunity to introduce order and discipline. To the discerning eye of Washington, grounds of serious apprehension existed; but, nevertheless, with his usual calmness and energy, he adopted every measure within his means to sustain his position, and inspire his soldiers with hope and confidence. In his energetic proclamations addressed to the army, he exhorted them "to animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth."

As Washington was necessarily ignorant by what route the British would choose to approach the city, he was reluctantly compelled to divide his forces. A part were stationed in the city, a part at Brooklyn, Long Island, and detachments at various other assailable points.

Thus the armies, more numerous than had hitherto been collected, were fairly arranged, and every succeeding day was bringing nearer a contest which might decide the fate of the new republic.

At length, from various indications, the American general was convinced that the first attack would be upon the forces at Brooklyn. Accordingly, he rëinforced that point, by a detachment of six regiments, and placed General Putnam in command.

"On the 22d of August, the British forces were landed on the opposite side of Long Island. The two armies were now about four miles asunder, and were separated by a range of hills, over which passed three main roads. Various circumstances led General Putnam to suspect that the enemy intended to approach him by the road leading to his right, which he therefore guarded with most care.

"Very early in the morning of the 26th, his suspicions were strengthened by the approach upon that road, of a[Pg 336] column of British troops, and upon the center road, of a column of Hessians. To oppose these, the American troops were mostly drawn from the camp, and in the engagements which took place, evinced considerable bravery.

"These movements of the enemy were but feints to divert the attention of Putnam from the road which led to his left, along which General Clinton was silently advancing with the main body of the British army. The report of cannon in that direction, gave the first intimation of the danger which was approaching. The Americans endeavored to escape it, by returning with the utmost celerity to their camp. They were not able to arrive there in time, but were intercepted by General Clinton, who drove them back upon the Hessians.

"Attacked thus in front and rear, they fought a succession of skirmishes, in the course of which many were killed, many were made prisoners; and several parties, seeing favorable opportunities, forced their way through the enemy, and regained the camp. A bold and vigorous charge, made by the American general, Lord Sterling, at the head of a Maryland regiment, enabled a large body to escape in this manner. This regiment, fighting with desperate bravery, kept a force greatly superior engaged, until their comrades had passed by, when the few who survived, ceasing to resist, surrendered to the enemy.

"The loss of the Americans in killed, wounded, and taken prisoners, considerably exceeded a thousand. Among the latter, were Generals Sullivan, Sterling, and Woodhull. The total loss of the enemy was less than four hundred."[40]

In the height of the engagement, Washington crossed over to Brooklyn, and seeing some of his best troops slaughtered or taken, he uttered, it is said, an exclamation of anguish. He could, if he saw fit, draw out of their encampment all the troops, and send them to succor the corps that were engaged with the enemy; he might also[Pg 337] call over all the forces he had in New York, and order them to take part in the battle. But all these rëinforcements would by no means have sufficed to render his army equal to that of the English. Victory having already declared in their favor, the courage with which it inspired them, and the superiority of their discipline, cut off all hope of being able to restore the battle. If Washington had engaged all his troops in the action, it is probable that the entire army would have been destroyed on this fatal day, and America reduced to subjection. Great praise, therefore, is due to him for not having allowed himself, in so grave circumstances, to be transported into an inconsiderate resolution, and for having preserved himself and his army for a happier future.

The English were so elated with victory, that eager to profit by their advantages, they would fain have immediately assaulted the American camp. But their general manifested more prudence; whether he believed the intrenchments of the enemy stronger than they really were, or whether he considered himself already sure of entering New York, without encountering new perils, he repressed the ardor of his troops. Afterwards, encamping, in front of the enemy's lines, in the night of the 28th, he broke ground within six hundred paces of a bastion upon the left. His intention was to approach by means of trenches, and to wait till the fleet could cöoperate with the troops.

The situation of the Americans in their camp became extremely critical. They had, in front, an enemy superior in number, and who could attack them at any moment with a new advantage. Their intrenchments were of little moment, and the English, pushing their works with ardor, had every possibility of success in their favor.[41]

Added to these unfavorable circumstances, the arms and ammunition of the soldiers had suffered from a powerful and long-continued rain. Besides, they were worn out with fatigue, and discouraged by defeat. Thus environed with[Pg 338] difficulty and danger, a council of war decided that to evacuate their position, and retire to New York, was the part of wisdom and safety.

The accomplishment of this project, however, was a movement attended with difficulty, but was effected with great skill and judgment, and with complete success. The commencement of the retreat was appointed for eight o'clock on the night of the 29th; but a strong north-east wind and a rapid tide, caused a delay of several hours. In this extremity, Heaven remarkably favored the fugitive army. A south-east wind springing up at eleven, essentially facilitated its passage from the island to the city; and a thick fog hanging over Long Island from about two in the morning, concealed its movements from the enemy, who were so near, that the sound of their pickaxes and shovels was heard. In about half an hour after, the fog cleared away, and the enemy were seen taking possession of the American lines. General Washington, as far as possible, inspected every thing. From the commencement of the action on the morning of the 27th, until the troops were safely across the East river, he never closed his eyes, and was almost constantly on horseback. His wisdom and vigilance, with the interposing favor of Divine Providence, saved the army from destruction.[42]

The defeat experienced by the Americans at Brooklyn, spread a deep gloom through the army; and excited, on that account, no little anxiety in the bosom of Washington. It was the first serious loss which they had sustained—the first reverse which essentially shook their confidence and weakened their courage.

To Washington and his officers, the great defect in the American army was apparent. It was twofold—first, the employment of by far too large a proportion of militia, and secondly, the utter impracticability of introducing among them that discipline and subordination which could place them on equal footing with the practised and veteran troops[Pg 339] of the enemy. At length, convinced of the justness of the views of Washington on these points, congress decided that a regular army should be formed, in which the soldiers should be enlisted to serve during the present war; and that it should consist of eighty-eight battalions, to be raised in all the provinces, according to their respective abilities. A bounty of twenty dollars, and a grant of land, were offered. At a subsequent date, soldiers were allowed to enlist for three years; in which case, however, they were not entitled to the grant of land. Had congress, at an earlier day, taken this measure to furnish an adequate army for Washington, both he and the country might have been saved great anxiety, and a succession of mortifying defeats. And but for the adoption of the above resolution, it is scarcely possible to predict what would have been the ultimate fate of the new republic.

Fortunate would it have been for the Americans, had their ill-fortune terminated in the defeat experienced on Long Island. To other and not much less mortifying reverses they were destined, ere the deepest point of depression should be reached.

It was the ardent wish of Washington to retain possession of New York; but, finding, as he said, in a communication to congress, the militia "dismayed and intractable," and "leaving the camp in some instances almost by regiments, by half-ones, and by companies at a time;" he was compelled to relinquish the place to his enemies, and to abandon, which he still more regretted, all the heavy artillery, and a large portion of the baggage, provisions, and military stores. On leaving the city, the American army took post on Harlem heights.

Here Washington had time to ponder upon his situation, and form his plan. His army had become seriously reduced, and from the despondency and dismay which were visible among them, it might become at anytime still more reduced. On the other hand, the forces of the enemy were numerous, and withal consisted of regular and well-disciplined troops.[Pg 340] It was futile, therefore, to attempt to maintain offensive operations against them. Far better in his judgment to risk no general engagement; but by retiring gradually before them, to lead them as far as possible from their resources; and in the mean while to inspire his own troops with courage, by engaging them in skirmishes, where success was probable. Having adopted this cautious system, he prepared to put it in practice.

The British army did not long entertain its position on York Island. The British frigates, having passed up the North river, under a fire from Fort Washington and the post opposite to it on the Jersey shore, General Howe embarked a great part of his army in flat-bottomed boats, and passing through Hurl Gate into the sound, landed at Frog's neck. The object of the British general was, either to force Washington out of his present lines, or to inclose him in them. Aware of this design, General Washington moved a part of his troops from York island to join those at King's bridge, and detached some regiments to Westchester. A council of war was now called, and the system of evacuation and retreating was adopted, with the exception of Fort Washington, for the defence of which nearly three thousand men were assigned. After a halt of six days, the royal army advanced, not without considerable opposition, along the coast of Long Island sound, by New Rochelle, to White Plains, where the Americans took a strong position behind intrenchments. This post was maintained for several days, till the British, having received considerable rëinforcements, General Washington withdrew to the heights of North Castle, about five miles from White Plains, where, whether from the strength of his position, or from the British general having other objects in view, no attempt at attack was made.

Immediately on leaving White Plains, General Howe directed his attention to Fort Washington and Fort Lee, as their possession would secure the navigation of the Hudson, and facilitate the invasion of New Jersey. On the 15th of[Pg 341] November, General Howe, being in readiness for the assault, summoned the garrison to surrender. Colonel Magaw the commanding officer, in spirited language, replied, that he should defend his works to extremity. On the succeeding morning, the British made the assault in four separate divisions; and, after a brave and obstinate resistance, surmounted the outworks, and again summoned the garrison to surrender. His ammunition being nearly expended, and his force incompetent to repel the numbers which were ready on every side to assail him, Colonel Magaw surrendered himself and his garrison, consisting of two thousand men, prisoners of war. The enemy lost in the assault nearly eight hundred men, mostly Germans. The conquest of Fort Washington made the evacuation of Fort Lee necessary. Orders were, therefore, issued to remove the ammunition and stores in it; but, before much progress had been made in this business, Lord Cornwallis crossed the Hudson, with a number of battalions, with the intention to inclose the garrison between the Hackensack and North rivers. This movement made a precipitate retreat indispensable, which was happily effected with little loss of men; but the greater part of the artillery, stores, and baggage, was left for the enemy. The loss at Fort Washington was heavy. The regiments captured in it were some of the best troops in the army. The tents, camp-kettles, and stores, lost at this place and at Fort Lee, could not, during the campaign, be rëplaced, and for the want of them the men suffered extremely. This loss was unnecessarily sustained, as those posts ought, unquestionably, to have been evacuated before General Howe was in a situation to invest them; and this event was the more to be deplored, as the American force was daily diminished by the expiration of the soldiers' term of enlistment, and by the desertion of the militia.

These successes encouraged the British to pursue the remaining American force, with the prospect of annihilating it. General Washington, who had taken post at Newark,[Pg 342] on the south side of the Passaic, finding himself unable to make any real opposition, withdrew from that place, as the enemy crossed the Passaic, and retreated to Brunswick, on the Raritan; and Lord Cornwallis, on the same day, entered Newark. The retreat was still continued from Brunswick to Princeton; from Princeton to Trenton; and from Trenton to the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware. The pursuit was urged with so much rapidity, that the rear of one army was often within shot of the van of the other.

The winter being now set in, the British army went into quarters, between the Delaware and the Hackensack. Trenton, the most important post and barrier, was occupied by a brigade of Hessians, under Colonel Rawle. General Howe now issued a proclamation, in the name of his brother and himself, in which pardon was offered to all persons who, within the space of sixty days, should take the oath of allegiance, and submit to the authority of the British government. The effects of this proclamation were soon apparent. People from several quarters availed themselves of it, and threw down their arms. No city or town, indeed, in its corporate capacity, submitted to the British government, but most of the families of fortune and influence discovered an inclination to return to their allegiance. Many of the yeomanry claimed the benefit of the commissioner's proclamation; and the great body of them were too much taken up with the security of their families and their property to make any exertion in the public cause.[43] Another source of mortification to the Americans, was the[Pg 343] capture of General Lee, who had imprudently ventured to lodge at a house three miles distant from his corps.[44]

"This was the most gloomy period of the revolutionary war. It was the crisis of the struggle of the United States for independence. The American army, reduced in numbers, depressed by defeat, and exhausted by fatigue, naked, barefoot, and destitute of tents, and even of utensils with which to dress their scanty provisions, was fleeing before a triumphant enemy, well-appointed and abundantly supplied. A general spirit of despondency through New Jersey was the consequence of this disastrous state of public affairs. But, in this worst of times, congress stood unmoved; their measures exhibited no symptoms of confusion or dismay; the public danger only roused them to more vigorous exertions, that they might give a firmer tone to the public mind, and animate the citizens of the United America to a manly defence of their independence. Beneath this cloud of adversity, too, General Washington shone with a brighter lustre than in the day of his highest prosperity. Not dismayed by all the difficulties which encompassed him, he accommodated his measures to his situation, and still made the good of his country the object of his unwearied pursuit. He ever wore the countenance of composure and confidence, and inspired, by his own example, his little band with firmness to struggle with adverse fortune."[45]

[Pg 344]



Reliance of the patriots for success upon God—Public Fast recommended by Congress—Offensive Operations decided upon—Battle of Trenton—Washington victorious—Battle of Princeton—British repulsed—American Army at Morristown—British at Brunswick—Prospects brightening.

Irrespective of the special blessing of Heaven, the colonies of America entered upon the revolutionary war with fearful chances against them. That they well knew, and hence that blessing was more universally sought than by any other people, in similar circumstances, since the founding of empires. The cause was remembered by those who offered the incense of prayer morning and evening on the family altar. Scarcely a Sabbath occurred, on which the embassadors of God did not make public mention, in their addresses to a Throne of grace, of the American cause; and fervent supplications for Divine aid in supporting that cause, and, carrying it to a prosperous issue, were to be heard in every church. Nor were colonial assemblies—nor, after its organization, the continental congress—backward in recognising the necessity of propitiating the Divine favor. Not a single instance, it is believed, is on record, and probably never occurred, in which a legislator in a provincial assembly attached to the patriotic cause, or a member of congress, opposed the adoption of any resolution which had for its object the humiliation of the people in the season of national adversity, or the rendering of due thanks to God in the day of prosperity. There were men concerned in conducting the military operations of the Revolution, and in guiding the counsels of the nation, who were far from being personally religious; but such was the pervading influence of piety in the land, that they would have manifested no open opposition, had they felt it; nor is it to be credited, in the absence of positive evidence, that such feelings ever existed.

[Pg 345]

The reverses sustained by the Americans, detailed in the preceding pages, were most sensibly felt in every portion of the land. Notwithstanding the knowledge of the superiority of the British, in regard to numerical force, but much more in respect to munitions of war, and the disciplined character of their soldiery, the Americans had cherished the expectation of success. Their confidence at the commencement of the struggle had been raised, and strengthened by the issue of the affairs at Lexington, and Bunker's hill, and the evacuation of Boston. Success thus early was positively essential to success in the sequel. Had they early met with reverses, such as were experienced from the discomfiture at Brooklyn to the battle of Trenton, it is doubtful whether that resolution would not have failed, and with the failure of that, the contest have been relinquished.

Those reverses, though painful and mortifying, were perhaps even salutary. A firmer reliance upon Providence was felt to be needful, and a holier tide of supplication ascended to the Arbiter of the fate of nations.

The connexion between an acknowledgment of God in his providence, and his blessing on the common cause, was recognised by no body with more readiness than by the continental congress. Although in May, 1776, that body had recommended a public fast, in view of the gloomy reverses which had attended the American arms, on the 11th of December, in a resolution, which for the tone of its piety cannot be too much admired, and which might serve as a model to future ages, they recommended the observance of a day of fasting and humiliation: "Whereas the war in which the United States are engaged with Great Britain, has not only been prolonged, but is likely to be carried to the greatest extremity; and whereas it becomes all public bodies, as well as private persons, to reverence the providence of God, and look up to him as the Supreme Disposer of all events, and the Arbiter of the fate of nations; therefore Resolved, that it be recommended to all the United States, as soon as possible, to appoint a day of solemn fasting and[Pg 346] humiliation; to implore of Almighty God the forgiveness of the many sins prevailing among all ranks, and to beg the countenance and assistance of his providence in the prosecution of the present just and necessary war. The congress do also, in the most solemn manner, recommend to all the members of the United States, and particularly the officers, civil and military, under them, the exercise of repentance and reformation; and, further, require of them the strict observation of the articles of war, and particularly that part of the said articles which forbids profane swearing and all immorality, of which all such officers are desired to take notice."[46]

We left Washington on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware—his army greatly reduced by the return of numbers to their homes, and depressed by a long and disheartening retreat before an exulting foe. Nor would the Americans have now been permitted to pause in safety, had the British commander succeeded in procuring the means necessary to make the passage of the river. Finding his efforts for this purpose, however, fruitless, he began his preparations for retiring into winter-quarters. The main body of the army was therefore cantoned between the Delaware and the Hackensack: about four thousand men occupied positions between Trenton and Mount Holly, and strong detachments lay at Princeton, Brunswick, and Elizabethtown. The object of this dispersion over so wide an extent of country, was to intimidate the people, and thus prevent the possibility of recruiting for the continental service; while in the spring these forces could be immediately concentrated, and it was then proposed to put an easy conclusion to all rebellious contumacy.

The desperate condition of his country's fortunes now pressed with saddening weight upon the mind of Washington, and he resolved, if possible, to retrieve misfortune by some daring enterprise. To such an enterprise he was the[Pg 347] more inclined, since, with the exception of about fifteen hundred effectives, his whole force would be entitled in a few days to its discharge. Having formed his plan—an attack upon the British posts on the Delaware—he proceeded to put it in execution.

Battle of Trenton.

Battle of Trenton.

Early in the morning of the 26th of December, 1776, the main body of the American army, twenty-four hundred strong, and headed by Washington in person, crossed the river at M'Konkey's ferry, about nine miles above Trenton. The night was tempestuous with rain and sleet, and the river encumbered with quantities of floating ice, so that the passage, although begun soon after midnight, was not fully effected until three o'clock, and one hour more elapsed before the march could be commenced. The Americans moved in two divisions along the roads leading to the town, and their operations were so well combined, and executed with such precision, that the two attacks on the British outposts were made within three minutes of each other. The[Pg 348] pickets attempted resistance, but were almost immediately driven in upon the main body, which was forming hurriedly in line. Colonel Rawle, their commander, soon after fell, mortally wounded; the confusion of the soldiery became irremediable; and, after a loss of about twenty killed, one thousand men laid down their arms, and surrendered their munitions and artillery. On the American side, the loss in battle amounted to only two killed and four wounded; among the latter, James Monroe, afterwards president of the United States.

The other parts of this brilliant enterprise were not, however, executed with the same success. General Irvine had been instructed to cross at Trenton ferry, and, by securing a bridge below the town, to cut off the enemy's march along the Bordentown road. Notwithstanding all his exertions, it was found that the ice had rendered the passage impracticable; and five hundred fugitives from the disastrous field of Trenton were thus enabled to escape by a speedy and well-timed retreat. General Cadwallader was to have crossed at Drink's ferry, and carried the post at Mount Holly; but the same impediment prevented this movement also, and he was compelled to return with a part of his infantry which had effected the passage. Deprived of this important and expected cöoperation, Washington had, nevertheless, achieved a most critical and important triumph; he returned to his former position, charged with the spoils and trophies of his foes; and from that moment, though reverses frequently dimmed the brilliancy of the prospect, hope never again deserted the cause of American independence.

Having secured the Hessian prisoners on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware, Washington rëcrossed the river two days after the action, and took possession of Trenton. Generals Mifflin and Cadwallader, who lay at Bordentown and Crosswix with three thousand six hundred militia, were ordered to march up in the night of the 1st of January, to join the commander-in-chief, whose whole effective force,[Pg 349] including this accession, did not exceed five thousand men. The detachments of the British army, which had been distributed over New Jersey, now assembled at Princeton, and were joined by the army from Brunswick, under Lord Cornwallis. From this position, the enemy advanced towards Trenton in great force, on the morning of the 2d of January; and, after some slight skirmishing with troops detached to harass and delay their march, the van of their army reached Trenton about four in the afternoon. On their approach, General Washington retired across the Assumpinck, a rivulet that runs through the town; and by some field-pieces, posted on its opposite banks, compelled them, after attempting to cross in several places, to fall back out of the reach of his guns. The two armies, kindling their fires, retained their positions on opposite sides of the rivulet, and kept up a cannonade till night.

The situation of the American general at this moment was extremely critical. Nothing but a stream, fordable in many places, separated his army from an enemy, in every respect his superior. If he remained in his present position, he was certain of being attacked the next morning, at the hazard of the entire destruction of his little army. If he should retreat over the Delaware, the ice in that river not being firm enough to admit a passage upon it, there was danger of great loss—perhaps of a total defeat: the Jerseys would be in full possession of the enemy; the public mind would be depressed; recruiting would be discouraged; and Philadelphia would be within the reach of General Howe. In this extremity, he boldly determined to abandon the Delaware; and, by a circuitous march along the left flank of the enemy, fall into their rear at Princeton, which was known to be occupied by three British regiments.[47]

About sunrise, at a short distance from the town, they encountered two of these regiments, marching forward in order to cöoperate in the expected battle, and a warm[Pg 350] engagement immediately commenced. The American general was well aware that the existence of his country hung suspended in the scale of victory; and he exerted himself as one who knew the importance of the object, and felt that success depended on his efforts. Wherever the fire was hottest, or the press of battle most fearful, Washington was sure to be found, guiding the thunders of war, and animating all by his language and example. At length, the British line was broken, and the two regiments separated. Colonel Mawhood, with the division in the van, pushed rapidly forward for the main army; while the fifty-fifth, cut off from this point of support, fled in confusion across the fields to Brunswick. The Americans now pressed the remaining regiment, which at first attempted a defence in the college; but this was soon abandoned, and those who were not captured, escaped only by precipitate flight. The British loss amounted to one hundred killed and three hundred prisoners; the conquerors had to lament the death of General Mercer, an experienced officer, much respected by the commander-in-chief.

"The battles of Trenton and Princeton, though similar in their outlines, were very different in point of conception and execution. The attack upon Trenton was a blow struck against an enemy in position, which admitted, therefore, of every advantage of preparation on the part of the assailants. The battle of Princeton belonged to a higher and more elaborate order of tactics. The American forces were already engaged with a superior army, commanded by an officer of eminent reputation; and the change of plan was wholly contrived and executed with the enemy in front. It was entirely due to the prompt genius, and fertile resources of Washington, that his army was extricated from so perilous an exposure, and enabled to attack the enemy's rear with such advantage, as to leave it no choice but surrender or flight. A military critic, contemplating these inspirations with a soldier's eye, can easily appreciate the feelings of the great Frederick, when he[Pg 351] sent a sword to the American commander, 'as a gift from the world's oldest general to its best.'"

As a natural result of these unexpected manœuvres, the British officers were thrown into a state of uncertainty, which gave to their subsequent operations an unusual character of timidity. The distant roll of the American artillery at Princeton, first announced to Lord Cornwallis the danger of his rear, and the escape of his active adversary. Alarmed for the safety of his magazines, the British commander instantly broke up from the Assumpinck, and commenced a forced march upon New Brunswick; moving with such celerity as nearly to overtake the American rear at Princeton. On the other hand, Sir William Howe drew in all his forces, by concentration in the neighborhood of Amboy and Brunswick, and abandoned all hope of preventing the recruiting service by overawing the whole extent of the country. Washington, finding the surprise of the stores impossible, moved northward into the highlands of Jersey, in order to afford some relief to the fatigues of his troops; for long and severe exposure to the inclemencies of the winter, without the usual protections, had produced sickness, and even complaint. It was finally considered necessary to abandon offensive operations, and to put the army under cover at Morristown. Among other prudent precautions adopted, during this temporary respite, the commander-in-chief caused the whole army to be innoculated; an operation then very uncommon in America, but which enabled him thereafter to defy a disease, which had proved more fatal than the sword of the enemy.

The situation of American affairs—though far from brilliant—was much improved by the late successes. The people of Jersey rose with fresh spirit, and in a number of small skirmishes inflicted loss upon the enemy, both in men and stores: new hope was made to animate the public mind; while congress fanned the flame by judicious and well-timed incitements to vigorous action. Washington was authorized to raise sixteen regiments, and in further[Pg 352] testimony of the public confidence, he was invested for six months with almost dictatorial powers in the conduct of the war. It was, however, found to be impossible to collect a sufficient force for active operations upon any considerable scale during the winter. All the hopes of the commander-in-chief were therefore turned to the next campaign; and in the mean time an active warfare was carried on with small posts and foraging parties, which greatly annoyed the British army; while the frequent reports of fresh successes excited the spirit of the American people. The most earnest applications were made to the several states, for rëinforcements enlisted upon longer terms; for, as Washington strongly observed, "to the short engagements of our troops may be fairly and justly ascribed almost every misfortune that we have experienced." These representations produced at last their due impression; and the hope was abandoned of defending the country by hasty assemblages of militia, and of carrying on a protracted warfare upon the impulse and mere foundation of disinterested patriotism.

Tailpiece—Cortez landing at St. Juan d'Ulloa

[Pg 353]


Position of the Armies—British remove to New York—Sail for the Chesapeake—Advance towards Philadelphia—American Army also move towards the same place—Meet at Brandywine—Battle—Americans repulsed—British enter Philadelphia—Congress retire to Lancaster—Battle of Germantown—Americans retreat—Ineffectual attempts to force the British to evacuate Philadelphia.

During the winter of 1776-7, the American army encamped, as already noticed, at Morristown. The royal army occupied Brunswick. Towards the close of May, the former, which had been augmented by recruits to almost ten thousand men, removed from Morristown to a fortified position at Middlebrook. The British soon after left their encampment, General Howe endeavoring, by various movements, to induce Washington to quit his stronghold and meet him on equal ground. But the latter, too prudent and sagacious to risk an engagement with a force so decidedly superior, determined to remain in his present secure position, until the designs of the British were more fully developed.

At length, the British commander, wearied with an unprofitable contest with an enemy which had the decided advantage as to position, and satisfied that his adversary would, on no consideration, hazard a general engagement, resolved to abandon New Jersey, and direct his attention to the occupation of Philadelphia.

In pursuance of this plan, the British forces fell back upon Amboy, and soon after passed over to Staten Island. Leaving Sir Henry Clinton in command at New York, General Howe, on the 26th of July, put out to sea with sixteen thousand troops. His destination was carefully concealed. Unfavorable winds delayed his voyage beyond his wishes; but, on the 20th of August, he entered Chesapeake bay, and thus rendered it certain that an attack upon Philadelphia was intended. On the 25th, the troops[Pg 354] were landed at Elk ferry, in Maryland, fifty miles south of the city.

Washington, penetrating the designs of his adversary, and yielding to the wishes of a great portion of the people in that section of the country, that a general engagement should be hazarded for the defence of Philadelphia, moved with his army across the Delaware, and hastening his march, passed through and took a position on the eastern bank of Brandywine creek, with the hope of giving a check to the advancing foe. The force of Washington, including irregulars, was now about eleven thousand men.

Meanwhile, the British army was advancing towards Philadelphia. "At day-break, on the morning of the 11th, (Washington having crossed the Brandywine, and taken position on a height behind that river,) it was ascertained, that Sir William Howe in person had crossed the Brandywine at the forks, and was rapidly marching down the north side of the river to attack the American army. The commander-in-chief now ordered General Sullivan to form the right wing to oppose the column of Sir William. General Wayne was directed to remain at Chadd's ford with the left wing, to dispute the passage of the river with Knyphausen. General Green, with his division, was posted as a reserve in the center, between Sullivan and Wayne, to rëinforce either, as circumstances might require. General Sullivan marched up the river, until he found favorable ground on which to form his men; his left was near the Brandywine, and both flanks were covered with thick wood. At half-past four o'clock, when his line was scarcely formed, the British, under Lord Cornwallis, commenced a spirited attack. The action was for some time severe; but the American right, which was not properly in order when the assault began, at length gave way, and exposed the flank of the troops, that maintained their ground, to a destructive fire, and, continuing to break from the right, the whole line finally gave way. As soon as the firing began, General Washington, with General Greene's[Pg 355] division, hastened towards the scene of action, but, before his arrival, Sullivan was routed, and the commander-in-chief could only check the pursuit of the enemy, and cover the retreat of the beaten troops. During these transactions, General Knyphausen assaulted the works erected for the defence of Chadd's ford, and soon carried them. General Wayne, by this time learning the fate of the other divisions, drew off his troops. General Washington retreated with his whole force that night to Chester. The American loss in this battle was about three hundred killed and six hundred wounded. Four hundred were made prisoners, but these chiefly of the wounded." Among the latter were two general officers; the Marquis de la Fayette and General Woodford. Count Pulaski, a Polish nobleman, fought also with the Americans in this battle.

General Wayne.

General Wayne.

"Perceiving that the enemy were moving into the Lancaster road towards the city, General Washington took possession of ground near the Warren tavern, on the left of the British, and twenty-three miles from Philadelphia.[Pg 356] The protection of his stores at Reading was one object of this movement. The next morning, he was informed of the approach of the British army. He immediately put his troops in motion to engage the enemy. The advance of the two hostile armies met, and began to skirmish, when a violent storm came on, which prevented a general engagement, and rendered the retreat of the Americans absolutely necessary. The inferiority of the muskets in the hands of the American soldiery, which had been verified in every action, was strikingly illustrated in this retreat. The gun-locks being badly made, and the cartridge-boxes imperfectly constructed, this storm rendered most of the arms unfit for use, and all the ammunition was damaged. The army was, in consequence, extremely exposed, and their danger became the greater, as many of the soldiers were destitute of bayonets. Fortunately the tempest, which produced such serious mischief to the Americans, prevented the pursuit of the British. Washington still continued to make every effort to save the capitol; but Sir William Howe,[Pg 357] having secured the command of the Schuylkill, on the 23d of September, crossed it with his whole army; on the 26th, he advanced to Germantown, and, on the succeeding day, Lord Cornwallis, at the head of a strong detachment, entered Philadelphia in triumph." Congress removed from the city, and immediately rëassembled at Lancaster. Fortunately, through the precautions of Washington, the military stores and deposits at Philadelphia, had been removed up the Delaware, and were thus prevented from falling into the hands of the enemy.

Marquis de la Fayette.

Marquis de la Fayette.

Passing over some unimportant events, we arrive at the 4th of October, on the morning of which day, the American army made a spirited attack upon a strong body of British forces encamped at Germantown, a village of a single street, beginning about five miles from Philadelphia, and extending along the road about two miles more. Lord Cornwallis occupied the city with another division, and a numerous detachment had marched to Chester, as an escort for a convoy of provisions. A fair opportunity for assailing the enemy in detail was thus offered to the enterprise of the American commander, and he was not slow in perceiving its advantages. He accordingly chose, for his point of assault, the advanced camp at Germantown, and made masterly arrangements for surrounding and destroying that exposed division of the enemy, before rëinforcements could arrive from Philadelphia.

Never was an attack more auspiciously begun, or the prospect of a decisive victory, for a time, more flattering. But the British army, at length, recovering from its first surprise, rallied the fugitives, and prepared vigorously to assume the offensive. The fortunes of the day, in consequence, changed, and Washington became convinced of the necessity of withdrawing his troops from the contest. The disputed town was therefore evacuated by the Americans. According to the official returns of the English general, his loss in the battle of Germantown scarcely exceeded five hundred men. On the side of the Americans, two[Pg 358] hundred were killed, more than five hundred wounded, and four hundred made prisoners. Congress passed a resolution highly commending the plan of the battle, and thanking the commander and the army for their courage and conduct.

The main object of the American commander was now to compel the evacuation of Philadelphia, by cutting off the supplies of the British army. The fleet was effectually prevented from cöoperation by the obstructions fixed in the channel of the Delaware, and by two small forts—one called Fort Mifflin, on Mud Island, near the confluence of the Delaware and Schuylkill, and the other at Red Bank, on the opposite Jersey shore. Strong parties of militia scoured the whole country in the neighborhood of the city, for the purpose of enforcing the resolution of congress, which subjected to martial law all persons supplying provisions to the enemy.

Sir William Howe soon felt the increasing difficulties of his situation, and began to prepare his plans for their forcible removal. Works were erected against Fort Mifflin, which produced severe conflicts with Colonel Samuel Smith, who commanded the station. Lord Howe came up the river, with his ships of war and transports, and anchored from New Castle to Reedy Island; some frigates being detached, in advance, to remove the chevaux de frise that encumbered the channel. Considerable difficulties were encountered in effecting this object, so that the obstructions below Mud Island were not cleared until the middle of October, while those, covered by the American guns, were yet untouched. The capture of the forts was, therefore, the next object, and it was accordingly attempted by a combined attack on land and water.

The importance to the British of effecting the reduction of these forts, brought into requisition every possible means. On the other hand, the most determined resistance was made for their defence; but, at length, the Americans were obliged to yield them up to superior force;[Pg 359] in consequence of which, Sir William Howe was fully secured in his conquest of Philadelphia, and in the possession of an uninterrupted communication between his army and fleet.

The occupation of Philadelphia by the British, was to them an important movement. Washington deeply regretted the success of the enterprise by which it fell into their hands; but he had no occasion to reproach himself in view of the event. He had taken every precaution, and made every effort to prevent the loss of so important a place. But the benefits anticipated by the British, were scarcely realized. The prospects of the Americans were, after all, growing brighter, and events were hastening on, which were to make those prospects brighter still.

Tailpiece—Franklin in Council.

[Pg 360]


British project for securing the command of the Hudson, between New York and Albany—Intrusted to Generals Howe and Burgoyne—The latter leaves Canada with a strong Force—Invests and takes Crown Point and Ticonderoga—Affair of Skenesborough—Fort Edward abandoned—Retreat of Americans to Stillwater—Battle of Bennington—General Gates supersedes General Schuyler—Critical condition of Burgoyne—Burgoyne advances upon Saratoga—Battle of Saratoga—Battle of Stillwater—Burgoyne retreats—Pursued by the Americans—Capitulates—Public rejoicings.

Events of deep interest transpiring in the north, must divert our attention for a time, from the military operations of the middle states.

At an earlier day, a scheme had been formed by the British ministers, of opening a way to New York, by means of their army, which should descend from the lakes to the banks of the Hudson, and unite in the vicinity of Albany with the whole, or a part of that commanded by General Howe, from the south. By means of such a manœuvre, the eastern and western provinces would be separated from each other; and thus, being prevented from furnishing mutual succor, would become an easy prey to the royal forces.

Obstacles had prevented the execution of this plan in the latter part of 1776, as originally intended, but now (the early part of 1777) it was designed to be prosecuted with a vigor and resolution corresponding to its importance.

To General Burgoyne, an officer distinguished for his ability, and possessed of a competent knowledge of the country, and, moreover, animated with an ardent thirst for military glory, the expedition from the north was confided; while General Howe was expected to lead up the royal forces from the south.

General Burgoyne arrived at Quebec in the beginning of May; and being seconded by General Carleton, immediately prepared himself to push forward the business of his mission. The regular force of General Burgoyne consisted of upwards of seven thousand British and German[Pg 361] troops, exclusive of a corps of artillery of five hundred. Seven hundred rangers, under Colonel St. Leger, were added, designed to make an incursion into the country of the Mohawks, and to seize Fort Stanwix, otherwise called Fort Schuyler. It was expected, also, that two thousand Canadians, including hatchmen and other workmen, would join the army. And, finally, one thousand Indians were induced to unite in the expedition. A train of artillery seldom equalled, either in numbers, or in the skill of those who managed it, also accompanied the army. Able and experienced officers had been selected to direct its movements. The principal were, Major-general Philips, of the artillery, who had distinguished himself in the wars of Germany; the Brigadier-generals Frazer, Powel, and Hamilton, with the Brunswick Major-general Baron Reidesel, and Brigadier-general Specht. The whole army shared in the ardor and hopes of its chiefs; not a doubt was entertained of an approaching triumph, and the conquest of America.

Thus prepared, General Burgoyne proceeded to encamp near the little river Bouquet, upon the west bank of Lake Champlain, at no great distance to the north of Crown Point. Here having addressed his army in a speech calculated to excite their highest ardor, and issued a proclamation warning the Americans against any attempt to resist his progress, upon pain of savage fury, devastation, famine, and kindred calamities—he moved upon Crown Point, whence soon after he proceeded with all his force to invest Ticonderoga.

This fortress at the time was under command of General St. Clair. Believing his garrison, only three thousand men, one-third of which were militia, inadequate to resist the attack of so formidable a force as was making its approach, he ordered its evacuation and the retreat of his army, having first burned or destroyed every thing which might prove important to the invading foe.

The night of the 5th of July was appointed for the evacuation. The British army was near, and peculiar caution[Pg 362] was to be observed, in order to effect their retreat in safety. General St. Clair led the van-guard, and Colonel Francis the rear. The soldiers had received orders to proceed with silence. St. Clair drew out the van-guard at two in the morning; Francis with the rear left at four. The baggage, furniture, military stores, and provisions, had been embarked on board of two hundred batteaux, and five armed gallies. The general rendezvous was appointed at Skenesborough; the batteaux proceeding up Wood creek, and the main army taking its route by way of Castleton.

Under the animating prospect of affecting their retreat in safety, the army and batteaux were proceeding on their respective routes, when suddenly flames burst forth from a house which had taken fire on Mount Independence, and discovered by their glare, to the surprise of the royalists, the retreating patriots.

Immediate orders were issued to the English to pursue. General Frazer, at the head of a strong detachment of grenadiers and light troops, proceeded by land along the right bank of Wood creek. General Reidesel rapidly followed with his Germans, to aid him if required. General Burgoyne embarked on board of several vessels, and gave chase by water.

"By three in the afternoon, the van of the British squadron, composed of gun-boats, came up with, and attacked the American gallies, near Skenesborough falls. In the mean time, three regiments which had been landed at South bay, ascended and passed a mountain with great expedition, in order to turn the enemy above Wood creek, to destroy his works at the falls of Skenesborough, and thus to cut off his retreat to Fort Anne. But the Americans eluded this stroke by the rapidity of their flight. The British frigates having joined the van, the gallies, already hard pressed by the gun-boats, were completely overpowered. Two of them surrendered, three were blown up. The Americans now despaired; having set fire to their works, mills, and batteaux, and otherwise destroyed what they were unable[Pg 363] to burn, they escaped as well as they could up Wood creek, without halting till they reached Fort Anne. Their loss was considerable; for the batteaux they burned were loaded with baggage, provisions, and munitions, as necessary to their sustenance as to military operations. The corps which had set out by land was in no better situation. The van-guard, conducted by St. Clair, had arrived at Castleton, thirty miles distant from Ticonderoga, and twelve from Skenesborough; the rear, commanded by Colonels Francis and Warner, had rested the night of the 6th, at Hubbardston, six miles below Castleton, towards Ticonderoga.

Destruction of Gallies.

Destruction of Gallies.

"At five o'clock in the morning of the 7th, the English column, under General Frazer, made its appearance. The Americans were strongly posted, and appeared disposed to defend themselves. Frazer, though inferior in point of numbers, had great confidence in the valor of his troops. He also expected every moment to be joined by General Reidesel; and being apprehensive that the enemy might[Pg 364] escape if he delayed, he ordered the attack immediately. The battle was long and sanguinary. The Americans, being commanded by valiant officers, behaved with great spirit and firmness; but the English displayed an equal obstinacy. After several shocks, with alternate success, the latter began to fall back in disorder; but their leaders rallied them anew, and led them to a furious charge with the bayonet; the Americans were shaken by its impetuosity. At this critical moment, General Reidesel arrived at the head of his column, composed of light troops and some grenadiers. He immediately took part in the action. The Americans, overpowered by numbers, fled on all sides, leaving their brave commander, with many other officers, and upwards of two hundred soldiers, dead on the field. About the same number, besides Colonel Hale, and seventeen officers of inferior rank, were made prisoners. Above six hundred were supposed to be wounded; many of whom, deprived of all succor, perished miserably in the woods. The loss of the royal troops, in dead and wounded, amounted to about one hundred and eighty."[48]

Upon receiving intelligence of the foregoing disasters, St. Clair proceeded by a circuitous route to Fort Edward, in order to strengthen General Schuyler, in anticipation of an attack upon that fortress. With the accessions thus made, the troops at Fort Edward amounted to but little more than four thousand, including the militia. The losses of the Americans had been great, and were severely felt. No less than one hundred and twenty-eight pieces of artillery, besides a great quantity of warlike stores—baggage, provisions, particularly flour—had either fallen into the hands of the enemy, or had been destroyed. Added to these losses, a general panic had seized upon the inhabitants, especially on account of the Indians attached to the British army, and against whose merciless and savage spirit there was felt to be no security.

While General Burgoyne was detained at Skenesborough,[Pg 365] General Schuyler was actively engaged in increasing his means of defence. Trenches were opened, and the roads leading to the fort were in every possible way obstructed. The militia from various quarters were summoned to the American standard, and artillery and warlike stores were forwarded from various points.

At length, General Burgoyne moved towards Fort Edward; but such were the obstacles which impeded his movements, that he did not reach the banks of the Hudson, near Fort Edward, till the 30th of July.

In the mean while, under a conviction that, after all the efforts made to render that fort defensible, it could not be maintained against so formidable a force as was approaching, General Schuyler abandoned it, and returned lower down to Stillwater, where intrenchments were thrown up.

Unexpectedly, General Burgoyne now found himself nearly destitute of provisions, and from the 30th of July to the 15th of August, the time was spent in procuring the means of supporting the army, which were obliged to be brought from Ticonderoga, at the expense of vast toil and labor. This, it was afterwards alleged, was the great mistake of General Burgoyne, that he suffered himself, after the occupation of Skenesborough, and the discomfiture of the enemy's army, to have attempted the reduction of Fort Edward. Had he then made his way directly to Albany, he might have secured the possession of that important place to himself, before the Americans could have rallied.

While thus posted at Fort Edward, General Burgoyne received intelligence that large stores of live cattle, corn, and other necessaries belonging to the Americans, had been deposited at Bennington, a village situated about twenty miles from the Hudson, in Vermont. Impelled by necessity, as well as desirous of adding to his military fame, he resolved to attempt their seizure, the accomplishment of which plan, he entrusted to Colonel Baum, a German officer of great bravery, and well versed in this sort of partisan war.

[Pg 366]



[Pg 367]

Accordingly, with a force of five hundred men and two light field-pieces, Baum set forth, in proud anticipation of success. The roads, however, were so heavy, that the detachment was fatally retarded. The intelligence of their approach preceded them in time to allow Colonel Stark—a brave, active man, who was in command at Bennington, with a corps of New Hampshire militia—to assemble a considerable rëinforcement of Green-mountain Boys from the neighboring towns. Before Baum made his appearance, the number of Americans had swelled to about two thousand. On learning the numbers of the enemy, Baum dispatched an express to Colonel Breyman, who had been detached to support him if necessary, to urge his march. In the mean while, Baum took post on the banks of the Walloon creek, to await the arrival of his auxiliaries.

Stark, however, was not disposed to accommodate his foe by any such delay; but, taking up his line of march, on the morning of the 6th of August, advanced towards the place of Baum's encampment. Dividing his forces into several corps, he gave orders to attack the British on all sides at once. On their approach, Baum strangely mistaking them for loyalists coming to his aid, held still. Judge his surprise when they poured in from all sides a deadly fire upon him! Rallying his men in the best possible manner, for a time he made a brave resistance; but before the impetuous charge of the Americans, the English were obliged to yield.

The fortune of the day had already been decided, when Colonel Breyman appeared. He was, in fact, perfectly ignorant of the engagement, and the fate of his pioneers. What was his consternation, on reaching the intrenchments of Baum, to find, instead of friends ready to receive him, the place in possession of an enemy ready to give him battle! Perceiving his mistake, his troops, though greatly fatigued, were ordered to the combat; and bravely for a time they fought, and not without some prospect of success, a part of the Americans being employed in pillaging. But the momentary advantage which he seemed to have gained[Pg 368] was soon lost; and, leaving all their baggage and one thousand muskets in the hands of the conquerors, they made a rapid retreat. The loss of the British in the two engagements, was about two hundred killed, and five hundred wounded and prisoners. The loss of the Americans did not much exceed one hundred.

The exploit of Bennington redounded not only to the credit of General Stark and his brave troops, but to the good of the country at large. It roused the drooping spirits of the Americans, it inspired the troops with confidence, and presented an earnest of still nobler conquests. In consequence of this defeat, the situation of General Burgoyne was still more perplexing. The hope of supplying his army with provisions from the stores of Bennington, was annihilated, and to other quarters he must look for supplies, without a considerable stock of which, it would be presumption to attempt offensive operations.

While these events were transpiring, congress appointed General Gates to take command of the Northern army, in place of General Schuyler. The latter was a soldier of great bravery, but was not universally acceptable to the troops, especially to those from Massachusetts and other provinces of New England. The former enjoyed a high military reputation, and his appointment was hailed by the army with joy. Gates made his appearance at Stillwater on the 21st of August, and took the command.

"Meanwhile," says Botta, "General Burgoyne continued in his camp, on the left bank of the Hudson, where he used the most unremitting industry and perseverance in bringing stores and provisions forward from Fort George. Having at length, by strenuous efforts, obtained about thirty days' provisions, he took a resolution of passing the river with his army, in order to engage the enemy, and force a passage to Albany. As a swell of water, occasioned by great rains, had carried away his bridge of rafts, he threw another, of boats, over the river at the same place. Towards the middle of September, he crossed with his army to the right[Pg 369] bank of the Hudson, and encamped on the heights and in the plain of Saratoga, Gates being then in the neighborhood of Stillwater, about three miles below. The two armies of course faced each other, and a battle was expected soon to follow."

On the morning of the 19th, it was reported by Colonel Colburn, who was watching the enemy, that they were beginning to ascend the hill towards the American left. General Gates sent Colonel Morgan to oppose them, and the firing began about noon. The action extended, and, in three hours, was general, and continued without interruption till dark. The American troops engaged amounted to three thousand; the British to three thousand five hundred.

"For four hours," says General Wilkinson, "the battle fluctuated, like the waves of a stormy sea, with alternate advantage, without one moment's intermission. It was truly a gallant conflict, in which death, by its familiarity, lost its terrors, and certainly a drawn battle, as night alone terminated it." The British army kept possession of the field; but they had nothing of which to boast. Their loss was more than five hundred men, and, among others, Captain Jones, of the artillery, an officer of great merit; the loss of the Americans, in killed and wounded, was from three to four hundred; among the former, were Colonels Adams and Colburn.

From September 19th to October 7th, was devoted, by the English, to strengthening their fortifications. The army of Gates, in the mean while, was continually increasing, and, on a single occasion, was added to by the arrival of General Lincoln with two thousand men, well trained and disciplined, from the New England provinces. Attacks on the British pickets took place almost every night.

For some time, General Burgoyne had been daily and ardently waiting for news from General Howe, as to the cöoperation he intended. On the 20th of September, he received a letter from that general, informing him that, about the 20th of the month, he should attempt the reduction[Pg 370] of Fort Montgomery, situated on the right bank of the Hudson, and near the Highlands.

The situation of Burgoyne was now becoming so critical, that he immediately despatched an express to General Howe, entreating him to hasten his attack on the fort, if there was any prospect of delay, as he was provided with necessaries for his army only to the 12th of October, at which time he would be obliged to move from his present position.

Near the 1st of October, General Burgoyne found it necessary to lessen the rations of his soldiers—a measure to which they cheerfully submitted. The 7th arrived, and no further tidings had reached him of the movements of General Howe.

In this situation, General Burgoyne resolved, as the last resort, to make a bold and, if possible, a decisive attack.

The battle occurred on the 7th, and a most severe and sanguinary contest it proved; we have space only for the results. The loss of the British, in killed, wounded, and prisoners, was about six hundred; that of the Americans, three hundred and nineteen. Of the British, Brigadier-general Frazer, a gallant officer, was mortally wounded, and Colonel Breyman killed. General Arnold, of the Americans, was badly wounded, in the same leg which had already been shattered under the walls of Quebec.

Many pieces of artillery, all the baggage of the Germans, and many warlike stores, fell into the hands of the republicans, who needed them greatly. They were impatient for the return of day, to renew the battle. But deplorable and perilous, beyond expression, was the situation of the British troops; they bore it, however, with admirable temper and firmness. It was evidently impossible to continue in their present position, without submitting to a certainty of destruction on the ensuing day. The Americans, invigorated and encouraged, would take advantage of the access they had already opened to themselves on the right, and of other untenable points, to carry[Pg 371] every part of the camp, and completely surround the British army. Burgoyne, therefore, determined to operate a total change of ground. He executed this movement with admirable order, and without any loss. The artillery, the camp, and its appurtenances, were all removed, before morning, to the heights above the hospital. The British army, in this position, had the river in its rear, and its two wings displayed along the hills, upon the right bank. The English expected to be attacked the following day. But Gates would not expose to the risk of another battle, that victory of which he was already certain. He intended that time, famine, and necessity, should complete the work which his arms had so fortunately commenced. There were frequent skirmishes, however, occurring in the course of the day, but of little importance. Towards night, the obsequies of General Frazer were celebrated in the British camp; a ceremony mournful of itself, and rendered even terrible by the sense of recent losses, of future dangers, and of regret for the deceased. The darkness and silence of the night aided the effect of the blaze and roar of the American artillery; while, at every moment, the balls spattered the earth upon the face of the officiating chaplain.[49]



The situation of General Burgoyne, after the battle, was gloomy and critical in the extreme. The fortunes of war were obviously against him, and no safe alternative presented itself but in retreat. Orders were accordingly issued for the army to return to Saratoga, six miles up the river. "The retreat began at nine o'clock; but such was the badness of the roads, rendered still more difficult by a heavy rain, which fell that night, and such was the weakness of the teams, for want of forage, that the English did[Pg 372]
[Pg 373]
not reach Saratoga till the evening of the ensuing day; the soldiers were harassed with fatigue and hunger. The hospital, with three hundred sick and wounded, and a great number of wheel-carriages, were abandoned to the enemy. The English, as they retired, burned the houses, and destroyed whatever they could use no longer."

From the moment that General Gates learned the movements of the enemy, his plan was formed—to follow up his success by a vigorous pursuit, pushing the contest until they should surrender their arms as a conquered foe.

Accordingly, putting his army in motion, as early as was practicable, he followed. The only hope which now inspired Burgoyne was, that he might effect a passage to Fort Edward, and in that fastness sustain himself till succor could arrive from the south. But when the intelligence arrived, as it did at the moment of his deepest perplexity, that that fortress was in possession of the Americans, he saw he must relinquish all hope of saving himself by his own efforts.

The condition of the British army was indeed deplorable. "The troops, worn down by a series of hard toil, incessant effort, and stubborn action, abandoned by Indians and Canadians, the whole army reduced by repeated and heavy losses of many of their best men and most distinguished officers, from ten thousand combatants to less than five thousand fighting men, of whom little more than three thousand were English. In these circumstances, and in this state of weakness, without a possibility of retreat, they were invested by an army of four times their own number, whose position extended three parts in four of a circle round them—who refused to fight from a knowledge of their own condition—and who, from the nature of the ground, could not be attacked in any part. In this helpless situation, obliged to be constantly on their arms, while a continued cannonade pervaded all the camp, and even rifle and grape-shot fell in every part of their lines, the troops of Burgoyne retained their ordinary constancy,[Pg 374] and, while sinking under a hard necessity, they showed themselves worthy of a better fate. Nor could they be reproached with any action or word, which betrayed a want of temper or fortitude.

"At length, no succor appearing, and no rational ground of hope of any kind remaining, an exact account of the provisions was taken on the morning of the thirteenth, when it was found that the whole stock would afford no more than three days' bare subsistence for the army. In such a state, it was alike impossible to advance or to remain as they were; and the longer they delayed to take a definite resolution, the more desperate became their situation. Burgoyne, therefore, immediately called a council of war, at which not only the generals and field-officers, but all the captains of companies were invited to assist. While they deliberated, the bullets of the Americans whistled around them, and frequently pierced even the tent, where the council was convened. It was determined, unanimously, to open a treaty, and enter into a convention with the American general."

On the night of the 15th, the articles of capitulation were settled. The morning of the 17th was appointed as the time on which they were to be signed.

That night (15th) intelligence, by a special messenger, reached the English camp, that General Clinton had reduced Fort Montgomery, and was then rapidly marching to their relief. This added to the suffering of the conquered Burgoyne. Forthwith, he summoned a council of war, and to his discredit—the only apology for which is to be found in the deep mortification felt by a proud and ambitious soldier to surrender—proposed to retreat, and once more try the fortunes of combat, in the hope that Clinton might arrive in season to their relief. But his officers, with stricter notions of propriety, were of the opinion that, as their faith had been pledged, the honor of the English character required a fulfillment of the articles of capitulation.

Meanwhile, Gates, apprised of the nature of the intelligence[Pg 375] received, calmly waited for the arrival of the 17th, on the morning of which he proceeded to form his troops in the order of battle; which done, he dispatched a messenger to General Burgoyne, to inform him that the appointed hour had arrived, and he must either sign the articles, or prepare himself for battle.

Deeply as the latter regretted submission, he was fully sensible that circumstances demanded it, and therefore proceeded to sign the articles, which, in substance, were as follows:

"That the army should march out of the camp with all the honors of war and its camp artillery, to a fixed place, where they were to deposit their arms and leave the artillery; to be allowed a free embarkation and passage to Europe, from Boston, upon condition of their not serving again in America during the present war; the army not to be separated, particularly the men from the officers; roll-calling, and other duties of regularity, to be permitted; the officers to be admitted on parole, and to wear their sidearms; all private property to be retained, and the public delivered upon honor; no baggage to be searched or molested; all persons, of whatever country, appertaining to, or following the camp, to be fully comprehended in the terms of capitulation, and the Canadians to be returned to their own country, liable to its conditions."

On the day on which the capitulation took place, the American army numbered nearly fifteen thousand men, ten thousand of whom were regular troops; the English troops amounted to five thousand seven hundred and ninety-one, of whom two thousand four hundred and twelve were Germans, and three thousand three hundred and seventy-nine were English.

The munitions of war, which by the capitulation came into possession of the Americans, were, besides being numerically great, exceedingly valuable. They consisted of a fine train of brass artillery, amounting to forty-two pieces, of different sorts and sizes, four thousand six hundred[Pg 376] muskets, and an immense quantity of bombs, balls, and other implements of war.

Such was the result of this expedition of the British, on the banks of the Hudson. To the English, it was most unexpected and disastrous; to the Americans, joyous and fortunate. It had been planned with ability, and had General Howe fulfilled the part expected of him, the result might have been reversed. But his failure to cöoperate, as contemplated in the plan, left General Burgoyne but little chance of success.

The victory won, General Gates forthwith dispatched Colonel Wilkinson to convey the happy tidings to congress. On entering the hall of session, he approached the speaker, and said: "The whole British army has laid down arms at Saratoga; our own, full of vigor and courage, expect your orders; it is for your wisdom to decide where the country may still have need of their services."

"To General Gates and his army, congress, by resolution, expressed their thanks. To the former, in addition, they voted a gold medal, in commemoration of the proud achievement. On one side of it, was the bust of the general, with these words around: Horatio Gates, Duci strenuo; and in the middle, Comita Americana. On the reverse, Burgoyne was represented in the attitude of delivering his sword; and, in the back ground, on the one side and on the other, were seen the two armies of England and America. At the top were these words: Salum regionum septentrion; and at the foot, Hoste ad Saratogam in deditione accepto. Die XVII. Oct. MDCCLXXVII. It would be difficult to describe the transports of joy which the news of this event excited among the Americans. They began to flatter themselves with a still more happy future; no one any longer entertained a doubt of independence. All hoped, and not without reason, that a success of this kind would at length determine France, and the other European powers that waited for her example, to declare themselves in favor of America."

[Pg 377]

To the American people at large, the news of the victory conveyed the most heartfelt joy. The cloud, which had long rested upon their hopes, seemed to be breaking away, and to presage the dawn of a day for which for years they had prayed and struggled; but which, with all their efforts, hopes, and prayers, had, until now, appeared distant and doubtful.

Tailpiece—View on the Hudson

[Pg 378]


State of affairs in England—Treaty with France—Movements in the British Parliament—Overtures to Congress—Rejection of them—Battle of Monmouth—Disastrous Retreat of General Lee—Fortunate interposition of Washington—His rebuke of Lee—Tremendous Battle—Sufferings of the Armies—Renewal of the Contest—Midnight Retreat of the British army—Subsequent Trial and Dismission of General Lee.


The effect produced by the surrender of General Burgoyne, upon the British cabinet and the nation at large, was as grievous and depressing, as it had been joyous and animating to congress and the American people. The most brilliant success had been anticipated by the former; the most ignominious result had occurred. The pride of the nation was humbled, and those who had disapproved of the war, were now loud in their censures of ministers.

Already had the war cost England twenty thousand men and thirty millions of money. But more of both were now needed. Reluctant to ask parliament for a fresh levy, the ministers, during the recess of that body, near the beginning of the year 1778, dispatched agents into the different provinces of the kingdom, to spur the inhabitants to enlist, and to furnish voluntary contributions to carry on the war.

The success of this plan was only partial—far less than anticipated, or the exigencies of the case required. The citizens of Liverpool and Manchester, however, responded to the call, and agreed to raise and equip a regiment of one thousand each. Edinburgh and Glasgow followed their example. London, as a city, peremptorily refused to raise troops—but the friends of the government raised the sum of twenty thousand pounds.


Not long after the declaration of independence, commissioners were authorized to bring the subject of a recognition before the court of Versailles, and to urge the measure[Pg 379] by such considerations as existed in the case. This they had done, and continued to do, so long as any prospect of success existed. At length, despairing of obtaining their object, they were about to abandon further effort, when the joyful intimation was communicated to Dr. Franklin, that a treaty, involving the desired recognition, had been determined upon by the king and his ministers. On the 6th of February, 1778, this measure, most auspicious to American interests, was concluded at Paris. It was signed on behalf of the king by M. Gerard; and for the United States by Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee. The treaty stipulated—a thing until then unheard of on the part of a king—that the essential and express object of the alliance was to maintain effectually the liberty, sovereignty, and independence of the United States.

American Commissioners before the Court of Louis XVI.

American Commissioners before the Court of Louis XVI.

On the 21st of March, the American commissioners were with great pomp and ceremony, introduced by Count de Vergennes before the throne, whereon was seated the king, Louis XVI., in the midst of the grandees of his court.[Pg 380] The honor was one which was conferred only when the king gave audience to the ambassadors of sovereigns and independent states.

On the 2d of May, the French frigate La Sensible, having on board the important treaty, reached the American shores. Congress was forthwith convened, and the treaty was ratified. The most heartfelt joy pervaded the country. The army, drawn up in the order of battle, received the intelligence with exultation not to be described.


Before the treaty between France and the United States was made public, the British ministry had knowledge of its existence. Justly alarmed, they felt the necessity of adopting some measures by which to bring the war to a close, without a collision with France. What those measures should be, was a question on which a diversity of opinion existed in the cabinet. It is asserted, that some of the members, in secret session, proposed at once to acknowledge the independence of the United States, and to conclude a treaty with them. But on the 19th of February, Lord North introduced a resolution into parliament, admitting that the parliament could not in future impose any tax or duty on the colonies of North America, except such only as should be deemed beneficial to commerce, and the product even of those to be collected under the authority of the respective colonies, and to be employed for their use and advantage. He proposed, besides, that five commissioners should be appointed, empowered to adjust with any assembly or individual whatsoever, the differences existing between Great Britain and her colonies; it being understood, however, that the compacts were not to take effect till ratified by the parliament.

To the surprise and indignation of the friends of the war, the bill passed; and, shortly after, the king appointed for commissioners the Earl of Carlisle, William Eden, George Johnstone, and the commander-in-chief of the English army[Pg 381] in America. The three first sailed from St. Helena for America on the 21st, on board the ship Trident.

In the beginning of June, the commissioners arrived, and on the 9th, repaired to Philadelphia. Soon after, they made a communication to congress, explanatory of their object, and requested the privilege of opening a conference with that body, or with some of its members, either at New York, or some other place which congress should please to appoint.

The serious consideration of congress was given to the overture, and on the 17th of June, their answer was returned. In substance it was, that they would be ready to enter upon the consideration of peace and commerce, not inconsistent with treaties already subsisting, when the king of Great Britain should demonstrate a sincere disposition for that purpose; of which no other proof could be admitted but that of an explicit acknowledgment of the independence of the United States, or the withdrawal of his fleets and armies.

Thus terminated the negotiation. America, steady to her purpose, would not listen to any proposal which did not involve the recognition of her independence. Great Britain was yet too proud to accede to such terms, and consequently, the idea of accommodation was abandoned, and the most vigorous measures were adopted to wage war against her ancient ally and her disobedient child, whose fortunes had now become linked together.

It may be added in this place, that, subsequent to the failure of the commissioners in effecting the object of their mission, commenced a system of intrigue with several distinguished persons, and especially with members of congress, to whom one at least addressed confidential letters, with the hope of winning them to the royal cause. Some of these letters and propositions at length were made public. General Reed, a member of congress, stated that a proposition had been made to him by Johnstone, through a lady, that if he would promote the rëunion of the two countries, he[Pg 382] should have any office in the colonies which he might name. His reply was worthy of a Christian and a patriot: "I am not worth purchasing; but such as I am, the king of Great Britain is not rich enough to do it."


During the winter of 1777-8, the British army had occupied Philadelphia; the winter-quarters of the American army were at Valley Forge. On the opening of the spring, in consequence of the alliance of France and America, orders were issued to the British general to evacuate Philadelphia, and concentrate the royal force in the city and harbor of New York. In pursuance of this resolution, the royal army, now under command of Sir Henry Clinton—General Howe having returned to England—left Philadelphia, and on the 18th of June, passed the Delaware into New Jersey.

Washington immediately quitted his camp, and hung upon the British army, watching a favorable opportunity to offer battle. On the 27th, the British army encamped on some high grounds in the neighborhood of Freehold court-house, in the county of Monmouth.

On the morning of the 28th, General Lee was ordered to take command of five thousand men, and commence the attack.

At first, he declined the honor; but judging, on reflection, that such a procedure would redound to his discredit, he now sought the command at the hands of Lafayette, to whom, on his declining it, it had been tendered.

Lee immediately put his troops in motion for the plain of Monmouth, some four or five miles distant. On approaching it, the British were already in motion. The army was in advance of the baggage-train, which covered miles in extent. The morning was clear, and the sun poured down his heat so fervidly, as seemingly to cause all nature to faint. Before noon, the mercury of the thermometer reached ninety-six. Man and beast panted for breath. The sand-plain[Pg 383] became parched as an oven, and water was needed at almost every step. The sufferings of men and horses early became nearly insupportable.

Moreover, it was the Sabbath—that day when the hum of life is ordinarily hushed, and when men are commonly with their families in the house of God. We may pause, we trust, to say, that that Sabbath, and the God of that Sabbath, would have been more honored—nor do we believe that the patriot cause would have suffered in the sequel—had Washington, instead of sending out a hostile corps—had he and his troops spent it in paying divine honors to the God of our fathers. It had been still better, could hostile armies have that day grounded their arms, and of that plain made a sanctuary, and there, in the exercise of that friendship and love which the gospel enjoins, worshiped together at a common altar, and before a common Father. But the latter was not to be expected—perhaps, not the former. Other thoughts were occupying those bosoms, and a far different spectacle was that day to be witnessed. Let us not judge severely. We will hope that the honor of God did animate those sons of the Pilgrims. We know that they were true patriots, and that they were fighting for their altars and their firesides. Nor is it to be doubted that they would have preferred the calm and delightful worship of God, with their families, in the sanctuaries of their own quiet villages. But they were summoned to the field of battle, and here, now, we find them soon employed amid scenes of carnage and death.

Wayne was that day in command under Lee. On seeing the British train—horses and waggons, miles in extent—following the army in advance, the former, with his detachment, hastened rapidly forward, with the intent to cut off and capture the train. Meanwhile, Lee, with the rest of his division, took a more circuitous route, designing to attack the corps which had the train in charge. Most unexpectedly, however, just as he was ready to commence the charge, intelligence was received that the entire British[Pg 384] army—which was on the retreat, but which had had intimation of Lee's advance—had wheeled about, and were in full march to protect its rear.

Lee had reluctantly taken the command; he was in ill-humor, and, moreover, was probably now appalled at the prospect before him. At all adventures, greatly to his discredit, for as yet he had not commenced action, he ordered a retreat. This movement fell upon Wayne like a thunderbolt, who was himself compelled, by reason of it, to fall back, at the hazard of his entire command.

Washington was still at a distance with the remainder of the army; but was rapidly approaching the theatre of the contest. The distant cannonade impelled him forward. The troops, partaking of his own enthusiasm, if not of his anxiety, laid aside knapsacks—coats—all that encumbered, and amidst dust and heat pressed on to the encounter. At this moment, a horseman was seen approaching from the immediate battle-field. He pressed his horse, and made announcement to Washington that Lee's division, in utter disorder, was in full retreat. For a moment, the latter seemed petrified with astonishment; and the next moment—for it seems he had for some reason dismounted—vaulting upon his saddle, he sprang forward, and like a winged arrow directed his way to the scene of confusion and flight. The instant he was seen by the troops in retreat, "The brave fellows"—we use the stirring language of Headley—"the brave fellows, who had not been half beaten, sent up a shout that was heard the whole length of the line, and 'Long live Washington!' rent the air. Flinging a hasty inquiry to Osgood, as to the reason, who replied, 'Sir, we are fleeing from a shadow;' he galloped to the rear, and, reining up his horse beside Lee, bent on him a face of fearful expression, and thundered in his ear, as he leaned over his saddle-bow, 'Sir, I desire to know what is the reason, and whence arises this disorder and confusion!' It was not the words, but the smothered tone of passion in which they were uttered, and the manner, which was severe as a blow, that[Pg 385] made this rebuke so terrible. Wheeling his steed, he spurred up to Oswald's and Stewart's regiments, saying, 'On you I depend to check this pursuit;' and riding along the ranks, he roused their courage to the highest pitch by his stirring appeals; while that glorious shout of 'Long live Washington!' again shook the field. The sudden gust of passion had swept by; but the storm that ever slumbered in his bosom was now fairly up; and, galloping about on his splendid charger, his tall and commanding form towering above all about him, and his countenance lit up with enthusiasm, he was the impersonation of all that is great and heroic in man. In a moment, the aspect of the field was changed—the retreating mass halted—officers were seen hurrying about in every direction, their shouts and orders ringing above the roar of the enemy's guns. The ranks opened—and, under the galling fire of the British, wheeled, and formed in splendid order. Washington then rode back to Lee, and, pointing to the firm front he had arrayed against the enemy, exclaimed, 'Will you, sir, command in that place?' He replied, 'Yes.'—'Well,' then said he, 'I expect you to check the enemy immediately.' 'Your orders shall be obeyed,' replied the stung commander, 'and I will not be the first to leave the field.' The battle then opened with renewed fury, and Washington hurried back, to bring his own division into the field."

This took time, as the division was still at a distance. Meanwhile, however, the retreat was partially staid. The troops once more rallied. They stood—they fought—fought with unwonted desperation. But the overpowering legions of the enemy pressed hard. Their shouts were deafening—their cannonade appalling and destructive. Lee now attempted to his utmost power to withstand the impetuous shock—but it was entirely beyond the compass of his troops. They were again giving way. A few moments longer, and all would be lost. At this critical juncture, Hamilton appeared, seemingly sent as a messenger from above—crossing the field—his charger covered with foam, and his[Pg 386] hair streaming in the wind—Hamilton appeared, and riding up to Lee, said to him: "My dear general, let us die here rather than retreat."

What would have been the effect of this soul-stirring and patriotic address of Hamilton, had no succor been at hand, we pretend not to say. They were words of comfort and assurance; and, if necessary to prevent a dishonorable retreat, there doubtless Hamilton, and perhaps now Lee himself, would have surrendered up life. But succor was at hand. Washington with his division had arrived. No time was lost. He issued his orders, and they were obeyed. Sterling, Knox, Wayne, brought up their several commands, and soon the battle was raging, and the whole plains shook under the clangor of arms and the thunder of artillery. For a time, few such spectacles were seen during the Revolutionary war. The heat of the day, we have already said, was intense. Water was not to be had, or rather there was no time to quench parched lips, had there been any. Their thirst added to the sufferings of the troops immeasurably. The tongues of the soldiers became so inflamed and swollen, as not to be retained in their mouths. Yet they fought, and fought with a desperation increased by the very sufferings they endured. The British suffered from the same causes, and fought with the same desperation. And for a time, it was indeed doubtful whose cause would triumph. But the batteries of Knox and Sterling, like volcanoes, hurled death and destruction on every side; while the impetuous Wayne with his columns, torrent-like, spread confusion and dismay in every step of their progress. There was a concentration of effort—and that effort, doubtless the more earnest and effective, for the reason of the previous unwarranted and pusillanimous retreat.

In turn, the British themselves now retreated, and encamped on the spot which Lee's division had occupied in the morning. They had fought with unwonted zeal. Officers and soldiers were exhausted. They coveted rest. They needed repose. It was so with the Americans. "Even Washington's[Pg 387] powerful frame was overcome by the heat and toil he had passed through; and as he stood begrimed with the dust and the smoke of the battle, and wiped his brow, the perspiration fell in streams from his horse, which looked as if it had been dragged through a muddy stream, rather than rode by a living man."

Yet, wearied as he was—wearied and worn down as were his officers and men—Washington could not consent so to terminate the day. A further duty remained ere he slept. That duty was to dislodge the enemy from the position which he had taken. His officers—his army sympathized with him; they were willing to put forth one more effort to secure all that they had promised themselves, and which in the morning had seemed so practicable.

Two brigades were therefore ordered to attack the British at their post—on the right and left. The battle was now renewed, and renewed with all the spirit and determination of an earlier hour. It continued, however, but for a brief period. The sun was fast descending when the second battle began, and had set ere the several corps had really attained their proposed positions. It was fortunate, probably, that the contest was interrupted. Both armies had done enough. Had Washington succeeded in dislodging the enemy, his troops were too much spent to have followed up the victory.

There they now paused. Darkness soon set in. Too much overcome even to administer to the wants of nature, the troops of both armies flung themselves upon the parched ground, and slept. They slept in sight of each other, and they slept strong and deep. With the morning light, Washington had decided to renew the battle. He, therefore, instead of retiring to his marquee, wrapped himself in his cloak, and sunk upon the earth in the midst of his soldiers.

At the dawn of morning, Washington rose, and with his recruited followers was about to follow up the advantages of the preceding day. But the enemy had retired. Aware of the peril of his condition, the British commander had[Pg 388] roused his army at midnight, and ordered a retreat. And so silently was that retreat effected, and so soundly had the American army slept, officers and men, that no one of the thousands which composed it, had any suspicion of the retreat, till the light of day revealed it. Washington was indeed disappointed; but the departure of the enemy, if it was not in all respects equal to a victory, gave practical assurance that Washington had suffered no defeat.

There were doubtless other engagements during the Revolutionary struggle more brilliant, and of greater influence, as to the final result, than the battle of Monmouth. But it is doubtful whether there was a single other one in which there was a higher exhibition of firmness, or the practice of greater self-denial, or the endurance of greater suffering.

Never did commander appear more nobly than did Washington. But for his presence at the critical moment—his quick perception of the danger, and the means of averting it—his celerity in issuing his orders—his manly but terrific rebuke of Lee—and perhaps more than all, his undaunted bravery, and his firm stand when all were flying from a pursuing foe—all would indeed have been lost.

For twelve long hours were the respective armies that day engaged. They numbered about twenty thousand men. They were on a plain where little or no water could be obtained, and with a thermometer standing the whole day at nearly one hundred degrees. Not a few died from sun-stroke—and still more from excessive fatigue. The cry for "water! water!" from the wounded and the dying, was sufficient to overcome the stoutest heart.

It is not necessary to dwell longer on the particulars of this remarkable battle. The British troops, as already intimated, left Washington in occupation of the field. On the following day, finding his foe gone, he took up his line of march, and by easy stages moved towards the Hudson.

It does not belong to the plan of our work to pursue the history of the difficulty which that day arose between[Pg 389] Washington and Lee, growing out of the retreat of the latter. That retreat was most unexpected, dishonorable, and needless. So Washington evidently deemed it, and this was the occasion of his severe rebuke of that officer in the field. It has been said that Washington was profane. That he was greatly excited, calm as he usually was, admits of no question. That he was profane, is without proof. Weems says, as quoted by Headley, that as he rode up, he exclaimed, "For God's sake! General Lee, what is the cause of this ill-timed prudence?"—to which the latter replied, "No man can boast a larger share of that rascally virtue than your excellency." What reliance, if any, is to be placed upon the above authority, the writer pretends not to say. To an inquiry once made of Lafayette, at La Grange, by Dr. Sparks, what the precise expression of Washington was, he replied, that although near him at the moment, he could not have told an hour subsequently. He thought, however, that it was not so much the expression itself, as the manner in which it was uttered, that stung the retreating general. That manner was terrible. The wrath of Washington was without disguise.

But the results of the day served to meliorate the feelings of Washington towards Lee, whatever opinion he might have continued to entertain of his unworthy conduct. It is said that he rëinstated him in his old command; and had Lee reciprocated the feelings and kindness of Washington, the unpleasant occurrence might have passed, and have been forgotten. But Lee was hot-tempered; and, under the smart of rebuke, addressed a most ill-judged and "saucy" letter to Washington, in which he demanded a trial by court-martial. Washington, in his reply, accused Lee of a breach of orders, in not attacking the enemy; and a breach of good behavior, unbecoming an officer of his rank, in so hasty and cowardly a retreat. Lee rejoined, and in a manner entirely in accordance with his previous communication. "You cannot," he wrote, "afford me greater pleasure, sir, than in giving me an opportunity of showing to America the efficiency of her[Pg 390] respective servants. I trust that the temporary power of office, and the trivial dignity attending it, will not be able, by all the mists they can raise, to effusate the bright rays of truth. In the mean time, your excellency can have no objection to my retiring from the army."

In whatever light Lee's previous conduct deserved to be regarded, no doubt could exist as to the intended insult of Washington conveyed in the above letter. Suffice it to say, that he was put under immediate arrest; and in August was tried before a court-martial on three separate charges, viz: "for disobeying orders, in not attacking the enemy;" "for making an unnecessary and disorderly retreat;" and "for disrespect to the commander-in-chief, in two letters."

Of these charges, with a slight modification of one of them, he was found guilty, and suspended from the army for twelve months. The decision was most unexpected and distasteful, as might be supposed, to a man of Lee's ardent and self-complacential feelings. Washington he never forgave. Stung by the decision of the court-martial, against that body—against congress itself—he launched his bitter invectives. At the expiration of his suspension, and while congress was contemplating his restoration, he addressed an insulting letter to that body, which hastened his dismission. We add, only, that he retired to Virginia, where on a farm he passed the residue of his days.

Tailpiece—The Genius of Liberty, &c.

[Pg 391]


The Vulture in the Hudson—Midnight Adventure—Benedict Arnold—Repairs to Cambridge—Expedition to Canada—Created a Brigadier-general—Grounds of Complaint—Honorable Conduct in Connecticut—Appointed to the command at Philadelphia—Charges preferred against him—Reprimanded by Washington—Plots against his Country—Correspondence with Sir H. Clinton—Appointed to the command of West Point—Interview with Andre—Capture of Andre—Arrival of Washington—Escape of Arnold—Developments of Arnold's traitorous intentions—Trial and Condemnation of Andre—Subsequent incidents in the life of Arnold.

The Vulture.

The Vulture.

On the night of the 21st of September, 1780, there was lying at anchor on the Hudson, a few miles below West Point, a British sloop-of-war, called the Vulture. A little before midnight, a boat, with muffled oars, and rowed by two men, put off from the American shore, and proceeded with great caution towards the sloop. In the stern of the boat sat a third man, of more consequence than the oarsmen, and the leader of the secret expedition. It was a tranquil night; the stars peered out with unwonted lustre,[Pg 392] and the waters moved slowly down the channel. What object was proposed by this cautious midnight adventure? Was intelligence sought from the enemy, or was it to be imparted to them? Was it a patriotic or a traitorous expedition?—The sequel will tell.

Among the brave and chivalrous men who early engaged in the defence of American rights, was Benedict Arnold. On the occurrence of the battle of Lexington, he was residing at New Haven, and was commandant of a company of militia, called the Governor's Guards.

On the arrival of the news of the above battle at New Haven, citizens and soldiers, as if moved by a common impulse, assembled on the green. Fired with indignation, as were others, Arnold proposed to head such as would volunteer under him, and lead them to the more immediate scene of action.

Such was the dispatch of preparation, that the following day, at the head of sixty volunteers, he was ready to march.

After reaching Cambridge, for a time Arnold was employed in an expedition against Ticonderoga. About the time of his return, congress was contemplating a still more important and hazardous movement against Canada, under General Schuyler. Believing that essential aid might be rendered by the way of the Kennebec river, a detachment of troops was made at Cambridge, the command of which was tendered to Arnold.

The troops detached for this service amounted to eleven hundred men—ten companies of musket-men from New England, and three companies of rifle-men from Virginia and Pennsylvania. The field officers were Colonel Arnold, Lieutenant-colonels Greene and Enos, and Majors Bigelow and Meigs. The afterwards-celebrated Daniel Morgan commanded the riflemen. On the 18th of September, the troops sailed from Newburyport, and rendezvoused at Fort Western, on the Kennebec, opposite the present town of Augusta.

From this point they started, and their hardships and[Pg 393] trials began. No body of troops during the Revolutionary war, if indeed in the annals of warfare, encountered greater obstacles, or endured more suffering, than this. The distance traversed was about two hundred miles, and nearly the whole of it was a howling wilderness.

Arnold's Expedition through the Wilderness.

Arnold's Expedition through the Wilderness.

On the night of the 14th, Arnold with his men crossed the St. Lawrence; and, ascending the same abrupt precipice which Wolfe had climbed before him, formed his small corps on the heights, near the memorable Plains of Abraham. But he soon discovered that neither the number nor condition of his men would justify him in hazarding an action. Having spent a few days on the heights, and summoned the town to surrender, without even a response, he retired twenty miles above Quebec, to wait the arrival of the troops which were to proceed by the western route, which were now led by General Montgomery, who had succeeded General Schuyler, in consequence of the illness of the latter.

On the 1st of December, Montgomery joined Arnold;[Pg 394] and on the morning of the 31st occurred the memorable assault upon Quebec, in which the gallant and lamented Montgomery fell. Arnold, not less bold and intrepid, had his leg-bone severely fractured, and was obliged to be carried from the ground. The issue was disastrous to the Americans, as is well known; about sixty being killed, and between three and four hundred taken prisoners. Notwithstanding his wound and the serious diminution of his force, Arnold maintained a blockade of the city during a long and severe Canadian winter.

As a reward for his persevering efforts in conducting his troops through the wilderness, and for his gallant conduct in the assault of Quebec, congress promoted Arnold to the rank of brigadier-general.

General Lincoln.

General Lincoln.

In February, 1777, congress appointed five additional major-generals. According to the usual practice in reference to promotions, Arnold would have been entitled to this honor; but those thus promoted were all his juniors, and one of them, General Lincoln, was taken from the militia.[Pg 395] To a man like Arnold, ambitious of military glory, such a neglect could not be otherwise than deeply wounding. In anticipation of his mortified feelings, Washington addressed a kind and soothing letter to him, virtually expressing his disapproval of the course of procedure, and advising Arnold to demean himself with the magnanimity of a soldier, in the hope that justice would still be done him, and others, who were similarly neglected.

Meanwhile, Washington addressed to friends in congress a letter of inquiry on the subject. To this it was replied, that as each state claimed a number of general officers, proportioned to the troops it furnished, and as Connecticut already had two, there existed no vacancy for another. There was at least plausibility in the reason, but it seems not to have satisfied Washington; much less could it be expected to satisfy so sensitive and ambitious a man as Arnold. This disappointment was probably among the causes which soured the mind of the latter, and laid the foundation of those corrodings of the heart, which in after-times led to the utter ruin of his reputation, and came near effecting the ruin of his country.

But this was by no means the only ground of Arnold's complaint. Construing the neglect of congress as an implied censure of his military conduct in past times—and perhaps the inference was not entirely without foundation—Arnold resolved to demand of congress an examination into his conduct. With this object in view, he proceeded to head-quarters, to solicit of Washington permission to proceed to Philadelphia.

Just at the time he was passing through Connecticut, a British force, consisting of two thousand troops, under the infamous General Tryon, had landed at Compo, between Fairfield and Norwalk, for the purpose of penetrating to Danbury, to destroy some public stores, which the Americans had lodged there.

Arnold heard of this invasion; and, for the time, honorably foregoing the object of his journey, and roused by that high[Pg 396] military spirit which in no small degree characterized him, he immediately turned his course northward, for the purpose of aiding in repelling the foe.

A militia force of five hundred had been hastily collected by Generals Wooster and Silliman. These, together with about one hundred continental troops, Arnold overtook near Reading, on their march towards Danbury. At Bethel, information was obtained that the town had been fired, and the public stores destroyed. The next morning, the generals divided their forces—General Wooster, with two hundred men, falling in the rear of the enemy, while Arnold and Silliman, with five hundred (their original force having been augmented), by a rapid movement, took post in their front at Ridgefield.

Death of General Wooster.

Death of General Wooster.

About eleven o'clock, General Wooster overtook the enemy, and attacked them with great gallantry. Riding to the front of his troops, with a design of inspiring them with appropriate courage, he cried: "Come on, my boys! never mind such random shot." But scarcely had he uttered the[Pg 397] words, when a fatal ball pierced his side, and this gallant general fell.

Meanwhile, Arnold having reached the north part of the long street at Ridgefield, barricaded the road with carts, logs, hay, and earth, presenting a formidable obstruction to the approaching enemy, and no mean protection to the resisting force.

Arnold and the British Soldier.

Arnold and the British Soldier.

"At three o'clock the enemy appeared, marching in a solid column, and they commenced a heavy fire as they advanced towards the breastwork: it was briskly returned. For nearly a quarter of an hour, the action was warm, and the Americans maintained their ground, by the aid of their barricade, against four times their number, until the British column began to extend itself, and to stretch around their flanks. This was a signal for retreat. Arnold was the last man that remained behind. While alone in this situation, a platoon of British troops, who had clambered up the rocks on the left flank, discharged their muskets at him. His horse dropped lifeless; and when it was perceived that the[Pg 398] rider did not fall, one of the soldiers rushed forward with a fixed bayonet, intending to run him through. Arnold sat unmoved on his struggling horse, watched the soldier's approach till he was near enough to make sure his aim, then drew a pistol from his holsters, and shot him dead. Seizing this critical opportunity, he sprang upon his feet, and escaped unharmed. So remarkable an exhibition of cool and steady courage, in a moment of extreme danger, has rarely been witnessed.

"He rallied his men, and continued to annoy the enemy in their progress. Being rëinforced the next day, he hung upon their flanks and rear throughout the whole march to their ships, attacking them at every assailable point. In a skirmish near Compo, just before the British embarked, the horse which he rode was shot through the neck, and on all occasions he exposed himself with his accustomed intrepidity."

General Arnold.

General Arnold.

The heroic conduct of Arnold—periling life as a volunteer, and while smarting under a sense of wrong—was duly appreciated wherever the exploit was told. Congress, sensible of the merit of the achievement, immediately promoted him to the rank of major-general; but instead of ante-dating[Pg 399] his commission, that he might take rank with those who had been raised above him, they left him still subordinate to them. This was unfortunate, and even inconsistent. Arnold felt the neglect with still deeper sensibility, and saw in it, as he imagined, an undeniable proof that the charge of ingratitude which he had brought against his country was well founded.

At length, his complaints were referred to the Board of War, and the charges of his accusers were examined. The board reported that they were satisfied with the character and conduct of General Arnold. This report congress confirmed. Indeed, they went further, and presented him with a horse properly caparisoned, in token of their approbation of his gallant conduct in resisting the troops under General Tryon. Had they added to this an equality of rank with the generals who had been raised over him, Arnold would have been satisfied; but neglecting this—and the cause was doubtless to be ascribed to the personal influence of bitter enemies, who could not forget his arrogance and presumption—he was chagrined, rather than flattered, by the tokens of approbation he had received—and soured rather than pacified.

Added to this, Arnold was mortified and exasperated that his accounts were not fully and promptly allowed by a committee appointed to audit them. This they could not justly do without much qualification. They were numerous and large, many debts incurred were without authority, and vouchers were wanting. The consequence was a general suspicion that Arnold intended to enrich himself, or meet his private extravagant expenditures at the public expense.

Passing over several intervening events, especially the signal success of General Gates in resisting the progress of General Burgoyne, during which Arnold acted a part so heroic, as to be honored by Washington with one of the three sets of epaulettes and sword-knots which had been presented to him by a gentleman of France, we reach a signal event in the life of this remarkable man—his appointment[Pg 400] by Washington, in consideration of his disabled condition, to the command of Philadelphia, following the evacuation of that city by the British. The station was honorable, and the duties, though delicate, were not severe.

Several circumstances, about this time, served to weaken his affections for the patriotic cause. One was the report of specific charges against him by a committee of congress, for acts oppressive and unworthy his rank and station, on which he was tried, and ordered to be reprimanded by the commander-in-chief.

In performing this duty, Washington exhibited as much mildness as the case permitted. "Our profession," said he, "is the chastest of all. The shadow of a fault tarnishes our most brilliant actions. The least inadvertence may cause us to lose that public favor, which is so hard to be gained. I reprimand you for having forgotten that, in proportion as you had rendered your name formidable to our enemies, you should have shown moderation towards our citizens. Exhibit again those splendid qualities which have placed you in the rank of our most distinguished generals. As far as it shall be in my power, I will myself furnish you with opportunities for regaining the esteem which you have formerly enjoyed."

The decision of the court, and the reprimand of Washington, mild and delicate as it was, fell heavy on the excitable spirit of Arnold. A burning revenge rankled in his bosom, and from this time—if his traitorous purposes had not before been formed—he sought opportunities to gratify his malice, and at the same time the sordid passion of avarice, which had long held sway in his bosom.

Another circumstance, besides contributing to his expenses, operated to separate his affections from the patriotic cause. He had married a beautiful and accomplished lady, during his residence in Philadelphia, a daughter of Mr. Edward Shippen, a family of distinguished rank; and which, like others of a similar stamp in that city, was intimate with Sir William Howe, Major Andre, and other British officers,[Pg 401] during their occupation of Philadelphia. This alliance brought Arnold, as a matter of course, into associations with persons who were attached to the royal cause, and who were ready to foster his prejudices, and justify his complaints of ingratitude and persecution.

At length, he matured a plan—confined for a time to his own bosom—dark, base, and traitorous—as it were the offspring of the nether world.

To the accomplishment of this plan, it was necessary that he should be appointed to the command of West Point, a fortress on the Hudson. With consummate art, he accomplished his purpose; and, at the hands of Washington, to whom he had been indebted more than to any other, for standing by him as a shelter during his stormy life, he received the appointment; soon after which, he repaired to the Highlands, and established his head-quarters at Robinson's house, two or three miles below West Point, on the opposite, or eastern bank of the river.

Major Andre.

Major Andre.

Previous to her marriage, Mrs. Arnold had been acquainted[Pg 402] with Major Andre, and had corresponded with him after that event, and after his removal with the British forces to New York. Acquainted with this correspondence, Arnold took the opportunity presented by it to address, unknown to his wife, letters to Sir Henry Clinton, through Andre, under the signature of Gustavus, and Andre replied under the assumed name of John Anderson. This correspondence had been carried on for months before Arnold's appointment to West Point. For a time, Clinton was at a loss to imagine the real character behind the curtain; but, at length, he became convinced that it could be no other than Arnold himself. Hitherto, that general had treated Gustavus with cautious indifference, but no sooner was Arnold promoted to the command of West Point, than Clinton was ready to enter into negotiation with him to surrender that fortress into the hands of the British, and almost at any price which Arnold might choose to name.

The first plan devised for bringing about an interview between Arnold and Andre failed, but a second proved more successful. The Vulture, a sloop-of-war, with Colonel Robinson on board, came up the river about the 16th of September. On their arrival at Teller's Point, Robinson, who was a tory, and whose property had been confiscated by the state of New York, addressed a letter to General Putnam, relating to the recovery of his property, and forwarded it under cover of a letter to Arnold by a flag-boat. Putnam was known not to be in that quarter, but the letter to him served as a pretext to enable Robinson to communicate a plan, by which an interview could be effected.

Arnold, by means of consummate art and duplicity, had engaged a Mr. Smith, a man of respectable standing, to go on board the Vulture, and convey a gentleman there to the American shore, who would impart intelligence to him of the greatest importance to the American cause. Smith had been employed in procuring intelligence from time to time from New York for Arnold's predecessor at West Point, and at length consented to perform the service solicited by[Pg 403] Arnold; and, that his family might not be privy to the transaction, they were removed to Fishkill, under pretence of a visit to some friends.

Thus matters were arranged; and on the night of the 21st, Smith, with two oarsmen, bribed to secresy by the promise of fifty pounds each, left the American shore, and proceeded, as related in the commencement of this account, to the Vulture.

Andre was expecting Arnold himself. Not finding him on board, but receiving a letter putting him on his guard, and inviting him to return in the boat, for a time he hesitated. Robinson was still firmer in the opinion that he should not go. But, at length, the adventurous spirit of Andre decided the point; and having cautiously concealed his uniform in a great-coat, he stepped on board the boat, which immediately proceeded towards the American shore. They landed at the foot of a mountain, called Long Clove, about six miles below Stony Point.

Arnold was in the bushes, ready to receive the stranger. Smith had expected to be present at the interview, and was not only disappointed, but exasperated, in being refused. What a spot! what a conference! what a deep and traitorous planning in midnight darkness!

The interview was long, and the patience of Smith was exhausted, but more his fears were roused. The night was far spent, and the dawning of the day was at hand. He now made known his apprehensions to the midnight traitors; but as they had not perfected their business, Smith and his oarsmen were allowed to retire.

No sooner were they gone, than Arnold proposed that Andre should proceed with him to Smith's house, and leave the manner of his return to future deliberation. This plan was replete with hazard; but no alternative presenting itself, Andre reluctantly followed. Judge his surprise, when, on approaching the American lines, a sentinel hailed them, and demanded the countersign. Andre shuddered. Arnold gave the sign, and they passed on. Andre was now, contrary to[Pg 404] all his determinations, within the American lines, on dangerous ground, where his life and fortunes hung, as it were, upon the cast of a die.

Arnold and Andre reached Smith's about the dawn of day. Soon after, the latter made his appearance. An incident now occurred, which added to the anxiety of Andre. The sound of cannon broke upon them, which, on proceeding to a window overlooking the river, was ascertained to be from the American shore; and from the movements of the Vulture soon after down the stream, it was inferred that the fire was against her. So it proved. Believing her to lie in the river for no good purpose, Colonel Livingston had directed a fire to be opened upon her, which caused the movement observed. Andre now felt the delicacy of his situation still more, and the difficulty of his return to the sloop to be still greater.

But the duties of his mission required attention, and to its completion the plotters betook themselves. It was finally settled. The British, on a given day, were to dispatch a fleet up the river with the requisite troops: and Arnold, in order to render the seizure of the fortress easy, was previously to withdraw the garrison, and station them at different points in the neighborhood, in small detachments. In consideration of the surrender, the traitor was to receive a large amount of "British gold."

Having completed these nefarious negotiations, the manner in which Andre should return, next engrossed their deliberations. This was a question of difficult solution. Andre insisted on being put on board the Vulture; Smith was unwilling to run the hazard. Before the question was decided, Arnold left for West Point, giving to Andre passports accommodated to the manner in which it might finally be decided that he should return.

Andre spent the day in an upper room at Smith's—a long and anxious day. Towards its close, he urged Smith to take him on board the Vulture; but to his surprise and distress, the former peremptorily refused, but offered to[Pg 405] accompany him on horseback to some point of safety. No other alternative presenting itself, Andre consented; and, having changed his military coat for a citizen's dress, over which throwing his great-coat, they departed.

Between eight and nine o'clock, they were startled by the hail of a sentinel, who ordered them to stop. "Who commands here?" inquired Smith, dismounting, and approaching the sentinel. The commander, Captain Boyd, being himself within hearing distance, approached, and demanded who the stranger was, and whither bound. Smith, ignorant of the real character of Andre, answered as Arnold had dictated; and, moreover, added that he had a pass from the general. Boyd required a sight of the pass, on perusing which, his curiosity was still more excited, and he now in private questioned Smith with still greater particularity. Smith explained the matter as well as he was able; and, by several adroit fabrications, finally induced Boyd to consent to their continuing their journey; not, however, until morning, for fear, as he pretended, they might be waylaid by the Cow-boys.[50] Andre would have purchased a release from tarrying in the neighborhood that night at any price, had he had the means; but such an overture would have been fraught with danger, and therefore, bending to necessity, they repaired to one Miller's, where they passed the night—a night of dread and fearful anticipation.

At early dawn, in order to escape the further scrutiny of Boyd, they were on their journey. At the distance of about a couple of miles from Pine's bridge, they halted, took breakfast, and separated—Smith setting out on his return, and Andre continuing his journey. Andre had now nearly[Pg 406] thirty miles to traverse ere he was on safe ground. He had been recommended to proceed by the way of White Plains; but, on crossing the above bridge, deeming the Tarrytown road more safe, he took that, and for a time passed on without molestation.

Two plundering parties were abroad that morning from the "neutral ground;" one of which, consisting of John Paulding, Daniel Williams, and Isaac Van Wart, had concealed themselves in some bushes near the road which Andre was passing, watching there for some valuable prey.

Andre approached the spot; upon which, Paulding rose, and presenting his firelock to his breast, bid him stand. "Gentlemen," said Andre, "I hope you belong to our party." "I asked him"—we follow the testimony of Paulding on the trial of Smith—"what party? He said, 'The lower party.' Upon that I told him I did. Then he said, 'I am a British officer out of the country on particular business, and I hope you will not detain me a minute;' and to show that he was a British officer, he pulled out his watch. Upon which, I told him to dismount. He then said, 'My God! I must do any thing to get along;' and seemed to make a kind of laugh of it, and pulled out General Arnold's pass, which was to John Anderson, to pass all guards to White Plains and below. Upon that, he dismounted. Said he, 'Gentlemen, you had better let me go, or you will bring yourselves into trouble, for your stopping me will detain the general's business;' and said he was going to Dobb's ferry, to meet a person there, and get intelligence for General Arnold. Upon that, I told him I hoped he would not be offended, that we did not mean to take any thing from him; and I told him there were many bad people who were going along the road, and I did not know but perhaps he might be one."

Williams testified as follows: "We took him into the bushes, and ordered him to pull off his clothes, which he did; but on searching him narrowly, we could not find any sort of writings. We told him to pull off his boots, which[Pg 407] he seemed to be indifferent about; but we got one boot off, and searched in that boot, and could find nothing. But we found there were some papers in the bottom of his stocking next to his foot; on which we made him pull his stocking off, and found three papers wrapped up. Mr. Paulding looked at the contents, and said he was a spy. We then made him pull off his other boot, and there we found three more papers at the bottom of his foot within his stocking."

After consultation, it was decided to take the prisoner to North Castle, where Lieutenant-colonel Jameson commanded a detachment of dragoons. Having surrendered him to Jameson, the latter for a time hesitated what disposition to make of him. The papers found upon Andre were important—in the hand-writing of Arnold, and endorsed by him.

Most men would have suspected treason—nor would Arnold himself have escaped suspicion. Yet Jameson, at length, decided to forward the papers to Washington by express, and the prisoner to Arnold. These measures had been taken, when Major Talmadge, next in command to Jameson, returned from an excursion to White Plains. On learning the incidents of the day, he expressed his surprise, and begged Jameson to dispatch a counter-order, if possible, to bring back the prisoner and the papers.

To the foregoing, Jameson finally consented, but the papers were left to be conveyed to Washington. Andre was overtaken and brought back. Talmadge, being a sagacious observer, marked Andre—his walk—his military air—his dignified bearing—and decided that the prisoner was no ordinary man. Shortly after, under escort of Talmadge, Andre was removed to Lower Salem, to await the developments of time and the orders of Washington.

The morning after their arrival at Salem, Andre requested paper and ink, and soon presented to Talmadge an open letter addressed to Washington, with a request that he would himself read and forward it.

This letter, couched in most respectful language, communicated[Pg 408] to Washington his name, and rank in the British army, and his object in coming within the American lines.

It so happened—a wonderful interposition of Divine Providence, who can doubt?—it so happened, that on the very day that Andre wrote his letter, Washington, on his return from Hartford, arrived at Fishkill, eighteen miles from Arnold's head-quarters. Contrary to his previous intentions, he was induced to remain there during the night. In the morning, an express was dispatched early to give notice to General Arnold, that the party would reach his quarters to breakfast.

Washington and his suite followed soon after, and on coming to the road which led off to Robinson's house—Arnold's residence—Washington was proceeding towards the river. Being informed of his mistake, he observed that as he must inspect the redoubts on this side the river, he himself would forego Mrs. Arnold's breakfast, but his suite might pass on, and enjoy it. They would not, however, leave their general; and all, excepting his aids, who were sent forward to make his excuse, proceeded towards the river.

On learning that General Washington would not be there to breakfast, General Arnold and family, with the aids, proceeded to the breakfast-table.

That was the last peaceful meal Arnold was to enjoy in this world—and even the peace of that was invaded, before they were ready to leave the table. A messenger entered with a letter from Jameson—the letter which first announced the capture of Andre.

It fell as a thunderbolt upon the traitor. Yet he so far concealed his agitation before the aids, as to prevent serious suspicion that any thing uncommon had occurred. A sudden emergency called him to West Point, he said, and he begged to be excused. Having ordered a horse, he requested Mrs. Arnold's presence in her chamber, and here in few words informed her of the necessity of his fleeing for his life. He left her fainting on the floor; and, mounting,[Pg 409] put spurs to his horse, directing his course to the river, on reaching which, he entered a boat, and fabricating a story to his purpose, ordered the men to proceed to the Vulture. The promise of reward gave impulse to their energies, and Arnold was soon safely on board of the royal sloop.

Interview of Arnold and his Wife.

Interview of Arnold and his Wife.

Washington having completed his inspection of the redoubts, reached Arnold's soon after his departure. Understanding that he had gone to West Point, after a hasty breakfast, Washington and suite followed. But what was his surprise to learn that Arnold had not been there. After a cursory view of the fortress, the party returned to Arnold's. Meanwhile, the messenger from Colonel Jameson, with Andre's papers, had arrived.

Light was now shed upon the mystery. Arnold was a traitor, and had fled to the enemy. Measures were immediately taken to secure the fortress. An express was dispatched to Salem, with orders to have Andre conveyed to Arnold's house.

[Pg 410]

Let us hasten to the conclusion. On the 29th of September, Washington ordered a Board of Inquiry, consisting of six major and eight brigadier generals. After a full hearing of the facts, the Board reported that Major Andre ought to be considered as a spy, and, according to the laws and usages of nations, to suffer death.

The decision, though just, was painful—painful to Washington—to the Board—to the officers of the American army—but more painful, if possible, to Sir Henry Clinton and the companions of Andre in arms.

Efforts, and such as did honor to Clinton, were made to reverse the doom of Andre. Intimations were given from Washington, that upon one condition—the surrender of Arnold—Andre might be released; but to this, Clinton thought he could not in honor yield—while in the scale of affection, Andre would have outweighed a thousand traitors like Arnold. A deputation from Clinton repaired to Robinson's house under a flag, to urge the release of Andre, but no change could be effected in the mind of Washington.

Sentence of execution issued, and five o'clock, of the 1st day of October, was appointed for carrying it into effect. On the morning of that day, Andre addressed a letter to Washington, requesting that he might be allowed a soldier's death.

"Tappan, 1st October, 1780.

"Sir: Buoyed above the terror of death, by the consciousness of a life devoted to honorable pursuits, and stained with no action that can give me remorse, I trust that the request I make to your excellency, at this serious period, and which is to soften my last moments, will not be rejected.

"Sympathy towards a soldier will surely induce your excellency, and a military tribunal, to adapt the mode of my death to the feelings of a man of honor.

"Let me hope, sir, that if aught in my character impresses you with esteem towards me—if aught in my misfortune marks me as the victim of policy, and not of resentment—I[Pg 411] shall experience the operations of those feelings in your breast, by being informed that I am not to die on a gibbet.

"I have the honor to be your excellency's most obedient and most humble servant,

"John Andre."

To this request, Washington could not consistently accede, but to avoid needless pain, he omitted to make a reply.

The execution finally took place October 2d, at twelve o'clock—a delay having been occasioned by pending negotiations, which could not be terminated in season the previous day.

Dr. Thatcher, in his 'Military Journal,' has given the closing particulars of this tragic scene. It follows:

"The principal guard-officer, who was constantly in the room with the prisoner, relates, that when the hour of his execution was announced to him in the morning, he received it without emotion; and while all present were affected with silent gloom, he retained a firm countenance, with calmness and composure of mind. Observing his servant enter the room in tears, he exclaimed, 'Leave me till you can show yourself more manly.' His breakfast being sent to him from the table of General Washington, which had been done every day of his confinement, he partook of it as usual; and having shaved and dressed himself, he placed his hat on the table, and cheerfully said to the guard-officers, 'I am ready at any moment, gentlemen, to wait on you.' The fatal hour having arrived, a large detachment of troops was paraded, and an immense concourse of people assembled; almost all our general and field officers, excepting his excellency and his staff, were present on horseback; melancholy and gloom pervaded all ranks; the scene was affecting and awful.

"I was so near during the solemn march to the fatal spot, as to observe every movement, and participate in every emotion which the melancholy scene was calculated to produce. Major Andre walked from the stone house, in which[Pg 412] he had been confined, between two of our subaltern officers, arm in arm; the eyes of the immense multitude were fixed on him, who, rising superior to the fear of death, appeared as if conscious of the dignified deportment which he displayed. He betrayed no want of fortitude, but retained a complacent smile on his countenance, and politely bowed to several gentlemen whom he knew, which was respectfully returned. It was his earnest desire to be shot, as being the mode of death most conformable to the feelings of a military man, and he had indulged the hope that his request would be granted. At the moment, therefore, when suddenly he came in view of the gallows, he involuntarily started backward, and made a pause. 'Why this emotion, sir?' said an officer by his side. Instantly recovering his composure, he said, 'I am reconciled to my death, but I detest the mode.'

"While waiting, and standing near the gallows, I observed some degree of trepidation; placing his foot on a stone, and rolling it over, and choking in his throat, as if attempting to swallow. So soon, however, as he perceived that things were in readiness, he stepped quickly into the wagon, and at this moment he appeared to shrink; but instantly elevating his head with firmness, he said, 'It will be but a momentary pang;' and taking from his pocket two white handkerchiefs, the provost-marshal with one loosely pinioned his arms, and with the other, the victim, after taking off his hat and stock, bandaged his own eyes with perfect firmness, which melted the hearts, and moistened the cheeks, not only of his servant, but of the throng of spectators. The rope being appended to the gallows, he slipped the noose over his head, and adjusted it to his neck, without the assistance of the executioner. Colonel Scammell now informed him that he had opportunity to speak, if he desired it. He raised the handkerchief from his eyes, and said: 'I pray you to bear me witness, that I meet my fate like a brave man.' The wagon being now removed from under him, he was suspended, and instantly expired."

[Pg 413]

Thus was cut off in the morning of life a man full of promise and expectation—one to whose personal attractions were added accomplishments, rich, varied, and brilliant—destined, but for an untimely sacrifice of himself, under the impulse of a forbidden ambition, to have reached the goal of his wishes—honor and renown. His death at the hands of the Americans, according to the usage of war, was just; but to Arnold, the pioneer in the base transaction, the news of his execution must, it would seem, have been as the bitterness of death.

But no:—Arnold had no such feelings. Conscience was seared; the generous sympathies of our nature were extinct; even the honor of a soldier, dearer to him than life itself, had expired. The long-cherished, deep-rooted, sordid passion of his soul—avarice—alone lived; and now, while Andre, who might almost be said to be the victim of that nether spirit, was mouldering in an untimely and dishonored grave, he demanded his pay. What must Clinton—the friend and patron of the high-souled and magnanimous Andre—have felt when he told out to Arnold six thousand three hundred and fifteen pounds, as the reward of his treachery!

In addition to this pecuniary reward, Arnold received the commission of brigadier-general in the British army. But, after his infamous attack on New London, and his inhuman conduct to the brave Ledyard and his garrison in Fort Trumbull, finding himself neglected by the British officers, he obtained permission to retire to England, for which he sailed in 1781 with his family.

The life of Arnold was prolonged twenty years beyond this date. But although the king and a few others in office felt compelled to notice him for a time, yet they, at length, were willing to forget him, while others despised and shunned him. Colonel Gardiner says, that when a petition for a bill authorizing a negotiation of peace was presented to the king, Arnold was standing near the throne. Lauderdale is reported to have declared, on his return to the House of Commons, that, however gracious the language he had heard[Pg 414] from the throne, his indignation could not but be highly excited at beholding, as he had done, his majesty supported by a traitor. And on another occasion, Lord Surrey, rising to speak in the House of Commons, and perceiving Arnold in the gallery, immediately sat down, exclaiming: "I will not speak while that man (pointing to him) is in the house."

Not long after the war, Arnold removed to St. John's, in New Brunswick, where he engaged for a time in the West India trade. Subsequently, he returned to England, where he resided to the time of his death, which occurred in London, June 14th, 1804.

Tailpiece—Capture of Major Andre

[Pg 415]


Theatre of War changed to the South—Siege of Savannah—Siege of Charleston—Battle of Camden—Battle of Cowpens—Retreat—Subsequent Movements—Battles of Guilford, Kobkirk's hill, Ninety-Six, and Eutaw Springs—Battle of Yorktown—Treaty of Peace—Cessation of Hostilities—Army disbanded—Departure of the British Army—Final Interview between Washington and his Officers—Resigns his Commission—Retires to Mount Vernon.

We must hasten to the closing scenes of the long and sanguinary contest between Great Britain and America.

The capture of Burgoyne, in 1777, was hailed, by a portion of the American people, as indicative of a speedy termination of the war. But, in these anticipations, they were destined to be disappointed. For several years following, although the contest was still continued, but little advance was made towards the termination. Battles were indeed fought, naval engagements occurred, and predatory enterprises were planned, and executed with various success; but neither power could be said at any one period to be decidedly in the ascendant. In 1779, the theatre of war was changed from the northern to the southern section of the confederacy. To this change, the British were invited by the prospect of an easier victory. That portion of the country was rendered weak by its scattered population, by the multitude of slaves, and by the number of tories intermingled with the citizens.

Partial success to the British arms was the consequence. Savannah was taken possession of, which gave the enemy, for a time, the power in Georgia. In like manner, Charleston fell into their hands, and with it, a considerable portion of the state of South Carolina. In the progress of this southern warfare, battles occurred at Camden—at the Cowpens—at Guilford Court-house—and at Eutaw Springs.


In the autumn of 1778, Savannah fell into the hands of the British. At that time, Colonel Campbell, with a force[Pg 416] of two thousand men, was dispatched by Governor Clinton from New York against that city. The American garrison, under General Howe, consisting of but six hundred continental troops and a small body of militia, was inadequate to resist so formidable a force; and at the expiration of a spirited action, in which the Americans suffered severely, the latter surrendered, and with that surrender, the British took military occupation of the capital itself.

The succeeding year, D'Estaing, with a French fleet, destined to cöoperate with the Americans for the recovery of Savannah, arrived on the coast of Georgia. This intelligence having been communicated to General Lincoln, who was in the vicinity of Charleston with a small force, he immediately broke up his camp, and marched to assist in the disembarkation of the French troops.

Before the arrival of Lincoln, D'Estaing had sent a "haughty summons" to Prevost, the English commander, to surrender. The safety of the former depended upon rëinforcements, which he was daily expecting; and, in order to attain a delay, he required twenty-four hours to consider the question of a capitulation. Unfortunately, D'Estaing acceded to this demand. This proved fatal to the expedition; for, meanwhile, Prevost was not idle. He succeeded in mounting nearly one hundred cannon, and, moreover, the expected rëinforcement arrived, swelling his force to three thousand men; upon which, he replied to the French commander, that he was resolved to hold out to the last.

The original plan of attempting the place by storm was now prudently abandoned, and the slow process of its reduction by siege was resolved upon. The combined forces numbered between six and seven thousand men. The siege was commenced. Trenches were opened, and, by the 4th of September, a sap had been pushed to within three hundred yards of the abbatis. In the course of a another month, batteries had been erected, and other preparations were ready.

On the evening of October 4th, the tragical scene commenced,[Pg 417] and a heavy cannonade was kept up during the night. In the morning, that scene became terrific. Thirty-seven cannon and nine mortars were opened upon the city, while sixteen heavy guns from the fleet added their uproar to the thunder of the former. The response to these was still louder and more appalling. Nearly one hundred guns, which had been mounted by Prevost, as we have said, gave back their tremendous explosions. Carcasses, filled with all manner of combustibles, were hurled into the town, setting on fire the houses, and spreading consternation among the inhabitants. Shells came down from the sky, bursting like meteors, and scattering their death-dealing fragments in every street and in the neighborhood of every dwelling. All that day, and, indeed, for four succeeding days and nights, this mutual tremendous firing was maintained. Savannah and its neighborhood became covered with a dense, dark cloud of smoke, through which the rays of the sun could scarcely penetrate by day, and which, as that set, served as a pall to increase the gloom and darkness of the night.

If the besiegers were steady to their purpose, the besieged were no less resolute and successful in their resistance. Little or no impression had hitherto been made upon the enemy's works, and how long they would continue to hold out, the Americans had no means of judging. They had reason, indeed, to believe that a reduction might at no distant day be effected, as the supplies were cut off, and the inhabitants must be suffering intensely. But D'Estaing began to fear for the safety of his fleet, exposed, as it was, on an open coast. In this posture, he proposed to Lincoln to attempt the place as originally contemplated—by storm. This the latter deemed extremely hazardous; but submitting to the higher authority of the count, an assault was fixed for the 9th of October.

At one o'clock of the morning of that day, the Americans were up, and ready for the fearful contest. The French unwisely delayed for some two or three hours;[Pg 418] but at length, led on by D'Estaing and Lincoln, the combined forces—the French in three columns and the Americans in one—proceeded to the attack.

Taking a position at the head of the first column, D'Estaing led them forward to the very walls of the English works. It was a fatal approach. Of a sudden, and when the French commander was congratulating himself that he was taking the enemy by surprise, the blaze of a hundred cannon filled him and his troops with amazement, while the balls and grape-shot mowed down their ranks, as did the fire of the Americans at Bunker's hill. Still, D'Estaing ordered the remainder to advance, he himself heroically leading the way. But it was only to death and defeat. Soon wounded, D'Estaing was borne from the spot, while his brave troops remained to meet a still severer destiny. They were mowed as grass by a new-ground scythe. The few who survived, now made good their retreat to an adjoining wood, leaving room for the second column, pressing forward, to supply their place.

Jasper on the Ramparts.

Jasper on the Ramparts.

These, passing over the fallen bodies of their brave companions, succeeded in mounting the walls; and there they stood—and there, with almost superhuman strength and determination, they fought. But it was not even for such bravery and such perseverance to succeed. If the struggle was now fearful, the carnage was still more so. One after another, and by tens and twenties, they fell side by side, companions in death of their brave precursors. A remnant only was left; and as that remnant succeeded in securing a retreat, the third and last column of the French troops came into action. A similar contest awaited them, which they entered into with even greater ardor and more excited passion; but it was followed by a similar, and perhaps still more fatal, result. The chivalrous Laurens, at the head of the Americans, now made his appearance; and directing his entire force against the Spring-hill redoubt, attempted to scale its ramparts. But it was a vain attempt. The parapets were too high to be reached, and the assailants fell as[Pg 419] they appeared, shot down with equal certainty and rapidity. Among the Americans, at this memorable contest, was that Carolina regiment which, at the siege of Fort Moultrie, had so distinguished itself, and which, as a reward for its valor, Mrs. Elliott had presented two standards, as we had occasion to notice, when describing the noble defence of the old "slaughter pen." Nothing daunted by the fate of their companions, this regiment pressed furiously forward; and now, for a brief period, was witnessed a spectacle, which lighted up gladness in every eye: two American standards—the very standards which we have named—were seen waving on the English ramparts. And there, too, was the noble-hearted Jasper himself, with those standards, which he loved better than life itself. But it was a momentary floating to the breeze, and these standards had for ever done their duty. They soon fell, and with them fell the brave and patriotic Jasper. He grasped his standard as he fell into the ditch, and there the flag covered him as a winding-sheet of glory. He had told Mrs. Elliott that he would[Pg 420] surrender his flag only with his life, and he was true to his word. Jasper's name—heroism—patriotism—will descend with the lapse of years; nor will they be remembered but to be honored, while the records of American valor shall have an existence.

The issue may be told in few words. The Americans failed, and retired. Many a noble heart had shed its blood; many an arm, which had that day

Shed fast atonement for its first delay,

was folded on the breast in death. And among those who fell nobly, there was one—a high-souled Polander—the chivalric Pulaski—a volunteer in the American service; he fell at the head of two hundred horsemen, urging on their way amid fire and smoke, until a swivel-shot struck the gallant soldier to the earth.

The contest lasted a little more than an hour; and yet, in that brief space, six hundred and thirty-seven French, and four hundred and fifty Americans, were mangled—bleeding corpses on the ground—more than one thousand! Rapid work! It should seem that Moloch might have been satisfied with the victims offered on that day's altar.

D'Estaing retired soon after with his fleet. He had gained no praise: on the contrary, he was censured for his haste in demanding the surrender of Savannah before the arrival of Lincoln; and then, by allowing Prevost so long a time to deliberate, in truth giving him ample opportunity to prepare for defence. The result was inglorious, and served to perpetuate, and even strengthen, the cause of the English at the South.


Charleston had long been an object of cupidity on the part of the British. We have already had occasion to speak of an expedition under Sir Peter Parker and Generals Cornwallis and Howe, destined against that city, and the summary check they received at Fort Moultrie—that "old slaughter-pen"—every one of whose garrison was[Pg 421] a hero, and the record of whose combined resistance can never be remembered but to the honor and praise of American valor. That repulse was not forgotten by the British, and, when next an attempt should be made, it was to be expected that preparations would be commensurate with the magnitude and difficulties of the enterprise.

It proved so. In the spring following the siege of Savannah, General Clinton left New York with ten thousand men, intent on the capture of Charleston. Lincoln was still at the head of the American troops in the South. But they were altogether inadequate to defend the city against so numerous and formidable a force as now appeared against him. For his own credit, as well as for the honor of the American arms, clearly he should have avoided a collision. But, over-persuaded by Governor Rutledge and other prominent citizens, and, moreover, reluctant to abandon a place which contained large public stores, or seem to yield where there was hope of success, he consented to remain, and accomplish whatever human wisdom, combined with American valor, could do.

On the 30th of March, General Clinton commenced the siege. He proceeded with a caution, to be explained only by the lesson taught the British at the siege of Fort Moultrie, and a determination not to be under the necessity of meeting with another such disastrous result. In another place, it should have been noted, that Fort Moultrie, in the present invasion, made no resistance, the contest, it being intended, should be on the mainland, and in the immediate vicinity of the city, where such defences had been erected as the authorities were able to provide.

On the 10th of April, the first parallel was completed, and Lincoln was summoned to surrender. To this summons, he replied: "that he felt it to be his duty, and it was also his instruction, to defend the place to the last extremity." Ten days elapsed, during which a second parallel was finished, and a second summons made and declined. A heavy and formidable cannonade was now opened by Clinton,[Pg 422] which was kept up, with scarcely any remission, for several days. Meanwhile, Lincoln was almost constantly on duty—straining every muscle to resist the steady, but apparently fatal, advance of his foe. It is related of him, that "one day he was ten hours in the saddle, without once dismounting—riding hither and thither, with his great heart filled with anxious foreboding; and, the last fortnight, he never took off his clothes to rest. Flinging himself, in his uniform, on a couch, he would snatch a few moments' repose, and then again be seen riding along the lines."

Meanwhile, his defences became weakened, and his troops exhausted with labor and fatigue. They had little time to sleep, and even the supply of provisions was limited. Yet, Lincoln continued, day after day, to inspire them with courage and hope. All that a brave commander could do, he did—concealing the apprehensions which harrowed his inmost soul, and for which there were reasons; all that men could do, his noble few did—suffering privations seldom experienced during the revolutionary contest. It was a brave defence! It was a long, protracted, painful struggle! But it was in vain. At length, the batteries of the enemy had reached within eighty yards of the American defences, and preparations were making for a general storm. Thus environed by a formidable force, both by sea and land,

----"Nec spes opis ulla dabatur"—

it was the dictate of humanity, both in respect to the inhabitants of the city, and the brave, but exhausted, remnant of his devoted army, to capitulate. Accordingly, overtures were made to General Clinton, which were at length accepted. Charleston fell, and the entire army laid down arms. By the terms of capitulation, the garrison were to march out, and deposit their arms in front of the works; but, as a mark of humiliation, the drums were not to beat an American march, nor their colors to be displayed. This was severe; but the humiliation was remembered, when, eighteen months afterwards, Lord Cornwallis surrendered[Pg 423] at Yorktown, and "waters of a full cup were wrung out" to him.


The fall of Charleston opened the south to Cornwallis, nor was he slow to take advantage of the opportunity of strengthening the royal cause. Baron de Kalb had been sent from the main army to the assistance of Lincoln; but the latter having surrendered before his arrival, the former assumed the command of the forces opposed to Cornwallis. Shortly after, however, Gates, the "hero of Saratoga," arrived, having been appointed to occupy the place of General Lincoln.

The reputation which Gates had acquired in his contest with Burgoyne, had preceded him, and served to stay the despondency and gloom which was extensively pervading the South. The militia responded to his call, and came flocking to his standard. Thus rëinforced, he proceeded towards Camden, the rendezvous of Lord Rawdon. But his haste was ill-judged. Besides, by reason of a serious lack of provisions for his troops, which he had neglected to provide, they were compelled to subsist for several days on green apples, corn, and other vegetables; their strength, also, was still more diminished for want of needful rest. On reaching the vicinity of Rawdon, instead of an immediate attack, before the latter could receive rëinforcements, and when he was more on an equal footing with the enemy, he wasted several days in skirmishes, which served to darken rather than brighten his chance of success. In this interval, Cornwallis arrived with the troops under his command, thus adding to the strength of the enemy, and greatly increasing their confidence and courage.

Indeed, Cornwallis was not slow in deciding to hazard an engagement, although he knew that the contest would still be unequal. Gates had superior numbers. But a retreat would be to abandon all that he had gained in South Carolina and Georgia; and in effect would be the ruin of the royal cause.

[Pg 424]

The American army occupied a post at Rugely's mills. On the 11th of August, at ten o'clock in the night, the English began their march. Ignorant of this movement, Gates had put his army in motion at the same time, and with similar intent. What was their mutual surprise, when at two o'clock in the morning, the advanced-guard of the British suddenly came in contact with the head column of the Americans! A brief skirmish ensued—but soon ended, as if by mutual consent—neither commander being willing to hazard a nocturnal rencounter.

At a council of war summoned by Gates, the Baron de Kalb advised a retreat to their former encampment, as in their present position they were between two marshes, while at Rugely's mills they would have the decided advantage as to position. In this, however, he was overruled by Gates, who decided to wait the approach of the enemy where they were.

We shall not enter into the details of this unfortunate battle. It was sad and sanguinary. General Gates misjudged as to position; but still greater was his error in attempting to change the order of battle almost at the moment when the battle began. Of this latter mistake, Cornwallis was not slow to take advantage, but at once ordered his troops to charge. Unprepared for an attack so sudden and so furious, the American column gave way—the Virginians actually betaking themselves to flight. All was soon confusion and uproar. De Kalb threw himself at the head of the regular troops, and, infusing into them the fire and indignation which animated his own bosom, led them on. They advanced firm—calm—determined. But the contest was now unequal. They could not resist the impetuous torrent which came thundering upon them. They could not save the battle. And at this time—their ranks thinned—their path obstructed—the cavalry of Tarleton came bearing down upon them with the impetuosity of a whirlwind. "Shot after shot had struck the Baron de Kalb, and the blood was pouring from his side in streams;[Pg 425] yet, animated by that spirit which has made the hero in every age, he rallied his men for a last charge, and led them at the point of the bayonet on the dense ranks. Striking a bayonet from his breast, and laying the grenadier that held it dead at his feet, he pressed forward, and, in the very act of cheering on his men, fell with the blood gushing from eleven wounds. His aids immediately covered him with their bodies, exclaiming, 'Save the Baron de Kalb! save the Baron de Kalb!'"

Death of De Kalb.

Death of De Kalb.

But their efforts to save him were unavailing. He was taken prisoner, and his troops fled. Gates, meanwhile, was pursuing his fugitive army. Their arrest and recall were, however, beyond his power. The rout was entire; the defeat complete; owing, as was thought by men of competent judgment, to the mismanagement of Gates.

De Kalb survived his wounds but a short time. He was able, however, to dictate a brief letter to the patriotic band of soldiers at whose head he had planted himself, and who nobly sustained him up to the moment of his fall. He died[Pg 426] in the cause of liberty—regretted by all who knew his worth as a man and a soldier—and honored by congress, which directed a monument to be erected to his memory at Annapolis.

The battle at Camden was sanguinary, and had the effect to spread a gloom over the face of American affairs. The loss of the patriots exceeded six hundred in killed; the wounded and prisoners thirteen hundred. The British stated their loss to be only three hundred in killed and wounded.

Cornwallis was the victor—but the British cause had now reached its culminating point. Elated at their successes, the conquerors grew insolent and rapacious; the Americans, resolute and determined.


Never did a service require an able and efficient commander more than the American service at the South, following the disastrous defeat of Gates at the battle of Camden. Fortunately, the precise man was found in General Greene, "who, next to Washington, was the ablest commander in the Revolutionary army"—an officer of large experience, and distinguished for two qualities, which were more important, at this juncture, than all others—"great caution and great rapidity." To these were added a wonderful fortitude and as wonderful perseverance.

On assuming the command, Greene found the army reduced to two thousand men, of whom not more than eight hundred were fit for service. The officers, however, had few equals—and no superiors. There were Morgan, Lee, Marion, Sumpter, and Washington (Lieutenant-colonel), men, whose heroic achievements have justly placed them high on the rolls of military fame. Had the army borne any comparison to its officers, either in point of numbers or in discipline, energy, and enthusiasm, the royal cause, in the South, would have met a still earlier doom than it did. But the army was not only greatly reduced in[Pg 427] numbers, but so destitute was it of arms, ammunition, food, and clothing, that it seemed a matter of presumption to attempt entering the list with Cornwallis, who, to a well-disciplined and powerful army, added every desirable materiel of war. But it often occurred during the Revolutionary struggle, that "the race was not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong."

The first measure adopted by Greene was unusual—he separated his forces, small as they were, into several divisions, and stationed them at different points. For this he has been censured, as contrary to military rule; but the sequel proved the wisdom of the measure. It served greatly to dismay Cornwallis, who scarcely knew in what direction to proceed, or which one to attack—whether Morgan, Marion, or Lee, who, with their respective detachments, were threatening him from different points.

At length, however, he decided to begin with Morgan, who was stationed at Cowpens, with an available force of less than a thousand men. The plan proposed by Cornwallis was, that Tarleton, with eleven hundred men, should assail him in front, while he himself, with the main army, would attempt to prevent his retreat. On the appearance of Tarleton, Morgan retired; but being, at length, hotly pressed, a contest became inevitable. The first onset of Tarleton was terrible—the Americans gave way, and the victorious British were anticipating the utter rout of their foes. But, at a critical moment of the action, Colonel Washington, who had been watching the various movements of the respective armies, gave orders to his bugler to sound a charge. It was nobly done! Nothing could withstand the impetuosity, the fire, the fury of the assailants. The infantry, which was pressing on to victory, were, as in a moment, borne down, and scattered like chaff before the whirlwind. Morgan had time to rally his repulsed force; and, with such an example as had been set them, they now sped their way to victory. It was a brief, but a stirring, sanguinary scene. Tarleton lost of his eleven[Pg 428] hundred, seven hundred—besides two cannon, eight hundred muskets, and a hundred dragoons.

Charge of Colonel Washington.

Charge of Colonel Washington.

The battle over, Morgan hastily retired, in order to escape Cornwallis, who was bearing down upon him. In this he was successful; but it was only at the sacrifice of the baggage, and a large part of the stores of the army. Cornwallis pursued a similar policy—never was man more determined to make sure of the enemy than he was; and never was man more determined to escape than Morgan. His object was to reach the head-quarters of Greene; but, at the distance of fifty miles, it was his good fortune to meet his general, who, with a small force, was hastening to his assistance.


Immediately following the battle of Cowpens, Greene directed his course towards Guilford, which he had appointed as the rendezvous of his army. This was a perilous undertaking; and the more so, as his route lay across the[Pg 429] Catawba, the Yadkin, and the Dan—each of which was liable to be suddenly swelled, and thus prevent his passage; and at a time, perhaps, when Cornwallis would be pressing upon him. Besides, the winter was a most unpropitious season for such an enterprise. The soldiers were poorly clad; many of them were barefoot; blankets were greatly needed, and even provisions were scarce. But there was no safe alternative. Greene's force was inadequate to maintain a position against so formidable a force as Cornwallis had under his command. It was not indeed certain that a retreat so distant, and so fraught with difficulties, could be effected in safety. But it was decided to run the hazard, and towards the accomplishment of his plans, Greene now put forth all his energy and skill.

We shall not follow him minutely in the various steps of his remarkable and successful enterprise. Often did the English advance columns press upon his rear; and so determined were the former—with such rapidity did they urge their pursuit—that the fugitives were able in some instances to rest but three hours out of the twenty-four, and to secure but one meal a-day. Their fatigue—their deprivations—their sufferings, penetrated the very heart of their sympathizing leader. His own anxiety was deep and wasting; yet he had a smile and a word of encouragement as he rode up, and hurried forward his exhausted columns.

At length they approached the Dan; that passed, they were safe; but this was the point of their greatest danger. Cornwallis was near at hand, and, like Pharaoh of old, pressing upon the children of Israel at the banks of the Red sea, was confident of their utter extermination—he had resolved to overwhelm and annihilate the American army on the banks of the Dan.

They reached those banks. In the rear, covering their embarkation, and, if possible, keeping in check the advance of the now infuriated enemy, were stationed Lee's legion and Washington's horsemen. It was a noble but perilous enterprise which they had undertaken. Had the forces of[Pg 430] Cornwallis reached them, it is impossible to conjecture the issue. They had decided to succeed or perish.

But about noon, a messenger made his appearance upon a swift charger, making the joyful announcement that the army had safely made the passage. The guard now themselves urged their way to the ferry. Greene had not yet crossed. He had delayed through his anxiety for the safety of Lee and Washington, and their brave comrades. Who can describe his exultation as they came dashing on their proud steeds! That was a moment of intense joy; but that joy reached its climax when all were safely on the opposite shore, and the deep waters of the Dan were rolling between his army and their pursuers. The last boat that left, bore the intrepid Lee, and, as it grounded upon the opposite shore, the British van had reached the banks. This was the climax of their disappointment. At the end of a pursuit of two hundred and fifty miles, and during which they had destroyed all their baggage to accelerate their progress, it was their destiny to behold their prey exulting beyond their reach. Of this retreat, it has been well remarked, that "for the skill with which it was planned, the resolution and energy with which it was carried through, and the distance traveled, it stands alone in the annals of our country, and will bear a comparison with the most renowned feats of ancient or modern times. It covered Greene with more glory than a victory could have done, and stamped him at once the great commander."

Soon after the events now recited, the army of General Greene was augmented by the arrival of rëinforcements from Virginia, to five thousand five hundred men. Numerically, his force was larger than that of Cornwallis, but most of the troops were for the first time in a camp. Thus strengthened, Greene decided to hazard an engagement as early as circumstances allowed. With this object in view, after giving his troops some little opportunity to rest, he proceeded, and took post at Guilford.

Here, on the 15th of March, occurred the battle of Guilford[Pg 431] Court-house, which on the part of Greene had been so wisely planned as must have issued in the utter discomfiture of Cornwallis, had all the Americans behaved with their accustomed bravery. But, most unfortunately, the terrible aspect of the British army, on its near approach, spread consternation and dismay among the Carolina militia; and, throwing down their guns, knapsacks, and canteens, they precipitately left the scene of action. These were followed by a portion of the Marylanders. It was impossible to rally them, or even to stay their progress. But the Virginians fought nobly, as did the second regiment of the Marylanders. Upon these and the continental troops, the entire force of the battle fell. For a time, even with the loss of the aid of those who so ignobly fled, victory seemed to decide for the Americans. But at length Cornwallis, at a great sacrifice of men, succeeded in getting the ascendancy, and no alternative was left to Greene but to order a retreat, while it could safely be made. The loss of the Americans was about four hundred, in killed and wounded; that of the British reached nearly six hundred. The British claimed the victory, but it was a victory which caused Fox to exclaim, when announced in the British House of Commons, "Another such will ruin the British army."

Following the battle above described, Cornwallis retreated to such a distance from Greene, as to present little inducement to the latter to follow, even had his force been able to cope with that under his lordship's command. It remained, therefore, for him to adopt some new plan, and to look in another direction for some field of usefulness to his country's cause. After much consideration, he decided to lead back his forces into South Carolina, and to fall on the line of the British posts between Ninety-Six and Charleston. It was a bold, original, and hazardous experiment; and the more so, as Cornwallis might also return, and press him with his superior force. But the decision was made; and, taking up his line of march, in twelve days he reached Camden, where Lord Rawdon was strongly intrenched.

[Pg 432]

Taking a position on Hobkirk's hill, two miles north of Camden, Rawdon in a few days drew out his forces, and appeared in battle array against him. At the time the approach of the enemy was announced, the Americans were deeply engaged in cooking food, of which, for twenty-four hours, they had been destitute. For a moment, there was confusion; but, abandoning their meal, as did Greene his coffee, they soon stood in order of battle. The action opened with promise to the Americans. Greene himself, at the head of a single regiment, fought as a common soldier. His troops appeared firm, and even enthusiastic. Judge his surprise, when, at this critical moment, he perceived the regiment of Gunby, the one upon which, more perhaps than all others, he depended—the one which at Guilford had displayed such bravery—that regiment was giving way—was in the very act of retreating. Greene sped his charger among them—headed them—rallied them; but it was too late: the battle was lost. There was, indeed, more fighting, and every effort was made to recover from the shock caused by the retreat of Gunby's veteran regiment. But it was fruitless, and Greene retreated, in rather a creditable manner, considering the circumstances.

But the regiment, it is recorded—the cause of such deep mortification and utter failure—was after all not to blame. At least, the apology was made for them, that they mistook the order of Gunby, their leader, who had directed them only to halt, for an order to retreat. In the din of arms, his command was not understood, and the consequence was the disastrous result we have named.

The situation of Rawdon, notwithstanding his success, was critical; Greene's was still more critical. For the first time, it is said, the latter became vacillating and despondent. On the one hand, he was in danger from Rawdon; and on the other, it was reported that Cornwallis was marching rapidly against him. His army was small—destitute—discouraged. But it was not Greene's nature long to despond. He rose above the difficulties and perils of his position, and[Pg 433] decided to occupy the place which God and his country had assigned him.

At this juncture, more certain intelligence was received that Cornwallis was on his march to Virginia. This left him at liberty to follow out his original plan.

Meanwhile, Rawdon broke up his encampment at Camden, and moved towards Fort Motte, against which Marion and Lee were pursuing a siege. Before Rawdon could reach it, it had surrendered to the Americans.

There remained now in the hands of the British but one fortress more of importance. This was Ninety-Six, situated one hundred and forty-seven miles north-west from Charleston, and garrisoned by five hundred and sixty men. To the reduction of this, Greene turned his attention. On the 22d of May, he appeared before it, and commenced a siege. While successfully pursuing his design, and daily advancing towards the consummation of his wishes, news arrived of the rapid approach of Rawdon. Indeed, he appeared even earlier than had been anticipated, and Greene had no alternative but to retreat. But, listening to his army, who were intent on a demonstration against the enemy, he consented thereto: but, although they made the assault with admirable firmness, and even enthusiastic zeal, they failed, and orders to retreat were given.

Rawdon followed Greene some fifteen or twenty miles on his retreat; when, returning to Ninety-Six, he ordered its evacuation, and himself took up his march for Charleston.

As the sickly season had now commenced, Greene withdrew his army to a cool and salubrious position on the high hills of Santee. Here, having remained until the 22d of August—his troops resting and recruiting, as much they needed both—he broke up his encampment, and began his march; and on the 7th of September, arrived within seven miles of Eutaw Springs, where the British lay encamped in an open field, under command of General Stewart.

On the following day, putting his army in motion, he proceeded towards the field, where occurred—

[Pg 434]


Greene took the British commander somewhat by surprise, but he was not slow to put his army in the order of battle. The Americans were the first to commence the contest, and that commencement was auspicious. The militia did themselves greater credit than on some former occasions. Both armies were soon engaged; both contended with a seriousness, a determination, a perseverance, commensurate with the prize at stake. It is not necessary to descend to particulars. Each cause was apparently more than once in the ascendant, but in the sequel neither could claim a decided victory. Yet, the advantage rested with Greene. The English had lost one-quarter of their number in killed, and another quarter were made prisoners. Moreover, he had driven them from the field; but he could not pursue them, on account of his prisoners and wounded, and the exhausted state of his army.

At the close of the contest, the belligerent armies united in burying their dead. What a contrast to the spectacle which had been exhibited a few hours before!

The battle of Eutaw Springs was the last general engagement in the South. Soon after, the British concentrated themselves at Charleston; and here they were for months hemmed in, and watched by the faithful and persevering Greene. But their situation, at length, became so distressing, that they determined to evacuate the city. This was carried into effect on the 13th of December, 1781. At three o'clock of the same day, Greene entered in triumph, to the exultation of its emancipated citizens, and with all the honors which a grateful people could shed upon him. "God bless you! God bless you!" was uttered by hundreds, as he passed along; nor was it a thoughtless, unmeaning prayer, but the warm and ardent desire of warm and ardent hearts. Greene merited it all: he loved his country with an affection which no circumstances could weaken, and served her with a fidelity which no temptation could interrupt. Truthfully,[Pg 435] most truthfully, did Washington say of him: "Could he but promote the interests of his country in the character of a corporal, he would exchange, without a murmur, his epaulettes for the knot."


The campaign for the year 1781, as arranged between Washington and the Count de Rochambeau at Wethersfield, Connecticut, had for its object the recovery of New York, still in possession of the British. A French fleet, to arrive in August, was expected to cöoperate. In pursuance of this plan, the allied forces were concentrated at Kingsbridge, fifteen miles above New York.

While these movements were in progress, it was unexpectedly announced that the destination of the French fleet was the Chesapeake, instead of New York; and here the Count de Grasse, at length, arrived with twenty-eight ships of the line, several frigates, and three thousand troops.

This intelligence manifested the necessity of a change of purpose. Without the cöoperation of a fleet, it would be impossible to succeed in the reduction of New York. Besides, there now opened an equally, if not a more important enterprise, in a different quarter.

Lord Cornwallis, who had for some time conducted the military operations of the British at the South, as we have had occasion to notice, had concentrated his forces at Yorktown, in Virginia, which, together with Gloucester Point, he had strongly fortified. His army consisted of ten thousand effective men.

Washington was not long in deciding the course which the interests of his country required him to pursue. He was now ready to follow the indications of Providence: and it was now apparent that a victory over Cornwallis must necessarily forward the triumph of the patriot cause. It was happily ordered that the French fleet should have the Chesapeake for its destination. In that vicinity, the final conflict was to be waged; there, the pride of Britain[Pg 436] was to be humbled; there, the last act in the drama was to transpire.

Pursuant to his altered purposes, Washington put his army in motion, and on the 25th of August, the passage of the Hudson was effected.

It being a point of great moment to conceal the real object of this movement, the march of the army was continued until the 31st, in such a direction as to keep up fears for New York; and a considerable degree of address was used to countenance the opinion that the real design was against that place. The letters which had been intercepted by Sir Henry Clinton favored this deception; and so strong was the impression made, that after it became necessary for the combined army to leave the route leading down the Hudson, he is stated to have retained his fears for New York, and not to have suspected the real object of his adversary, until he had approached the Delaware, and it had become too late to obstruct the progress of the allied army towards Virginia. He then resolved to make every exertion in his power to relieve Lord Cornwallis, and, in the mean time, to act offensively in the North. An expedition was planned against New London, in Connecticut; and a strong detachment, under the command of General Arnold, was embarked on board a fleet of transports, which landed early in the morning of the 6th of September on both sides of the harbor, about three miles from the town. The result of this expedition—so infamous to Arnold—so inhuman—so contrary to all the laws governing modern warfare—is too well known to need recital here.

The progress of Washington could not consistently be arrested by such an incursion, ready, as in other circumstances he would have been, to have hastened to the defence of his fellow-citizens, against so vindictive a monster as that traitor had shown himself to be. Momentous results were now depending upon accelerated movements; and, accordingly, he urged his troops forward to the extent of their power.

[Pg 437]

Having made the necessary arrangements for the conveyance of his army down the Chesapeake, Washington, accompanied by several distinguished officers, French and American, hastened forward to Williamsburg, where, in an interview with the Count de Grasse, a system of operations for the contemplated siege was devised.

On the 25th of September, the last division of the allied troops arrived in James' river, and were disembarked at the landing near Williamsburg. On the 30th, the combined armies, twelve thousand in number, moved upon Yorktown and Gloucester, at which time the fleet of Count de Grasse proceeded up York river, with the double object of preventing the retreat of Cornwallis, and intercepting his supplies.

The village of Yorktown lies on the south side of York river. Its southern banks are high. In its waters a ship-of-the-line could ride with safety. Gloucester Point projects far into the river on the opposite shore. Both these posts were occupied by Cornwallis—the main body of the army being at York, under the immediate command of his lordship; Lieutenant-colonel Tarleton was stationed at Gloucester with a detachment of about six hundred men. Every possible effort had been made to fortify these posts. The interests involved were of incalculable magnitude. A failure now, Cornwallis could not but perceive, would put to hazard the royal cause. Every expedient, therefore, was adopted, which was calculated to secure his success, and give victory to the British arms.

Washington was equally impressed with the greatness of the enterprise in which he had embarked. The eyes of his countrymen were turned with intense interest to the issues of the impending contest. Nor can it be doubted that supplications went up from thousands of family altars, and from private closets, that the God of the Pilgrim Fathers would interpose for the salvation of a people, who, from their first landing on these shores, had regarded his honor as their highest object, and the enjoyment of rational liberty as their greatest privilege.

[Pg 438]

The preparations having now been completed, Yorktown was invested, upon which Cornwallis, abandoning all his advanced works, retired behind his principal fortifications. The former were immediately occupied by the besiegers.

It is not important to detail the events of each succeeding day, as this siege progressed. Washington, calm and collected, continued to extend his batteries towards the principal works of the enemy. The cannonade from the British line of defences was furious and incessant. On the 16th, a fierce sortie was made by the British, an American battery was stormed—the artillerists were overpowered, and seven cannon spiked; but the Americans rallied, and succeeded in recovering all that was lost.

Finding his situation extremely critical, Cornwallis now decided on abandoning his sick, together with his baggage, and, crossing to Gloucester, to attempt an escape to New York. In pursuance of this plan, boats, prepared under various pretexts, were held in readiness to receive the troops at ten in the evening, and convey them over the river. The arrangements were made with such secresy, that the first embarkation arrived at the Point unperceived, and part of the troops were landed, when a sudden and violent storm interrupted the execution of this hazardous plan, and drove the boats down the river. The storm continued till near daylight, when the boats returned. But the plan was necessarily abandoned, and the boats were sent to bring back the soldiers, who were rëlanded on the southern shore in the course of the forenoon without much loss.

On the morning of the 17th, several new batteries which had been completed were opened, and a more appalling, and, if possible, destructive fire, was commenced upon the British works. It could no longer be withstood. Cornwallis became convinced of the folly of protracting a contest which was only weakening his forces, and sacrificing the lives of his troops. It was a most unwelcome and humiliating necessity, but that necessity existed, and at ten o'clock he ordered the British lines to beat a parley. This was[Pg 439] immediately followed by a proposed cessation of hostilities for twenty-four hours, with reference to a settlement of terms of capitulation. Washington, in his reply, expressed his desire to stay the effusion of blood, but not one moment could he lose in fruitless negotiations. His lordship might transmit his proposals, and two hours would be given to consider them. These were transmitted, but they proved unsatisfactory. Washington now himself dictated the terms; and they were the same as given to Lincoln at the fall of Charleston. At the appointed time, the conquered army, with colors cased, and drums silent, marched out, and laid down their arms. Lincoln was appointed to receive the sword of Cornwallis—an honor which he deserved—and a service doubtless the more grateful from the circumstance that, eighteen months before, he had been compelled to surrender his sword to an English commander. It was an imposing spectacle. To the British, the more humiliating, as it cast a shade over all their prospects of success in the land of rebellion—to the Americans, the more grateful, as it was a presage of an end to their toils and hardships. The conduct of Cornwallis, on the occasion of surrender, was unbecoming the firm and high-minded officer. He was not present, but appointed another to tender his sword in his place. There are men who can participate in the honors of victory, and claim their full portion—but who are too proud to share with their fellow-officers and soldiers the mortification of defeat. Cornwallis was one.

To Washington and his army the issue of this contest was most joyful; and in token of that joy, orders were issued that all under arrest, should forthwith be set at liberty. But this was not enough. A public recognition of the Divine goodness seemed befitting; accordingly, in his public orders, in terms most solemn and impressive, he directed that divine service should be performed in the different brigades and divisions. All the troops not on duty were recommended to be present, and to assist in the solemn and grateful homage paid to the Benefactor of the nation.

[Pg 440]



[Pg 441]


The first intelligence received in America from England, after the news of the battle of Yorktown had reached that country, was different in its tenor from what had been expected. The Americans regarded it as the finishing stroke of the war, and anticipated a similar estimation of the battle in England. But on the assembling of parliament in November, 1781, the speech from the throne breathed a settled purpose to continue the war; and the addresses from both houses, which were carried by large majorities, echoed the sentiment.

But when the first excitement had passed, and men began to contemplate the posture of things with calm and enlightened reason, they saw the folly of persisting in the contest. To conquer America by force, was impracticable, and the further waste of treasure and blood, was both impolitic and inhuman.

Pursuant to these corrected views, on the 22d of February, 1782, General Conway moved an address to the king, praying that the war on the continent of North America might no longer be pursued, for the impracticable purpose of reducing that country to obedience by force; and expressing their hope, that the earnest desire and diligent exertion to restore the public tranquillity, of which they had received his majesty's most gracious assurances, might, by a happy reconciliation with the revolted colonies, be forwarded and made effectual; to which great end his majesty's faithful Commons would be ready to give their utmost assistance. This motion being lost by a single vote only, was, five days after, renewed by the same gentleman, in a form somewhat different, and was carried; and an address, in pursuance of it, presented to the king. Not yet satisfied with the triumph obtained over the ministry, and considering the answer of the king not sufficiently explicit, the House of Commons, on the 4th of March, on the motion of General Conway, declared, that all those who should advise, or by any means[Pg 442] attempt, the further prosecution of offensive war in America, should be considered as enemies to their king and country. In this state of things, it was impossible for the ministry longer to continue in power, and on the 19th, they relinquished their places. A new administration was soon after formed—the Marquis of Rockingham was placed at the head of the treasury, and the Earl of Shelburne and Mr. Fox held the important places of secretaries.

Measures were immediately adopted by the new ministry with a view to peace. As the basis of peace, it was the wish of the Marquis of Rockingham to offer America unlimited, unconditional independence. To this, the Earl of Shelburne was opposed; and, moreover, it was one of the last measures to which the king himself would give his assent. In July, the Marquis of Rockingham died, and Lord Shelburne was appointed first lord of the treasury. This produced an open rupture in the cabinet, and the resignation of Lord John Cavendish, Mr. Fox, and others; in consequence of which, William Pitt was made chancellor of the exchequer, and Thomas Townshend and Lord Grantham, secretaries of state. On the 11th of July, parliament adjourned. Among their last acts, was one authorizing the king to conclude a peace or truce with the Americans.

On the 30th of November, 1782, a provisional treaty was agreed on at Paris, by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens, on the part of America, and by Mr. Fitzherbert and Mr. Oswald, on the part of Great Britain.

It may be added, in this connection, that the definitive treaty of peace was signed at Paris, on the 3d of September, by David Hartley, Esq., on the part of his Britannic majesty, and by John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams, on the part of the United States. The provisions of the treaty attest the zeal and ability of the American negotiation, as well as the liberal feelings which actuated the British minority. The independence of the United States was fully acknowledged. The right of fishing on the banks of Newfoundland,[Pg 443] and certain facilities in the enjoyment of that right, were secured to them for ever.


On the 18th of April, 1783, Gen. Washington announced the cessation of hostilities between the two countries, in the following general order:

"The commander-in-chief orders the cessation of hostilities between the United States of America and the King of Great Britain, to be publicly proclaimed to-morrow, at twelve o'clock, at the New Building; and the proclamation, which will be communicated herewith, be read to-morrow evening, at the head of every regiment and corps of the army; after which, the chaplains, with the several brigades, will render thanks to Almighty God for all his mercies, particularly for his overruling the wrath of man to his own glory, and causing the rage of war to cease among the nations."—It is worthy of notice that this order was read to the army just eight years after the battle of Lexington.


On the 2d of November, Washington issued his farewell orders to the army. In conclusion, he said:

"Being now to conclude these his last public orders, to take his ultimate leave, in a short time, of the military character, and to bid adieu to the armies he has so long had the honor to command, he can only again offer in their behalf his recommendations to their grateful country, and his prayers to the God of armies. May ample justice be done them here, and may the choicest of Heaven's favors, both here and hereafter, attend those who, under the Divine auspices, have secured innumerable blessings for others! With these wishes, and this benediction, the commander-in-chief is about to retire from service. The curtain of separation will soon be drawn, and the military scene to him will be for ever closed."

What more tender!—what more touching! While to[Pg 444] Washington himself, and to his army, it must have been most grateful that years of toil, privation, and suffering were ended, and the glorious object for which that toil, privation, and suffering had been endured, was achieved, the hour of separation must have been most painful. They were to part to meet no more. Well did his soldiers know that their brave and beloved chief would bear them in his heart. But there were circumstances which, at this final interview, bore heavily upon them. They were poor; and, in rags and destitution, they were returning to their homes. Washington's sympathies were enlisted for them; and while he could not justify the course they had pursued—for they had passed resolutions in their encampment reflecting on the justice of their country, and especially upon congress, and had used terms of harshness and threatening—yet Washington expressed his pity, and his ardent hope that ample justice would be done them by a grateful country for the services they had rendered, and for the toils and trials they had sustained.

Washington taking leave of the Army—The Troops defiling before him.

Washington taking leave of the Army—The Troops defiling before him.

[Pg 445]

The parting moment now arrived. Column after column marched by him, receiving as they passed his tender and affectionate salutation—the several bands of music playing the mournful, yet, on this parting occasion, appropriate dirge of "Roslin Castle."


The 25th of November had been fixed for the final retirement from the American shores of the British officers and troops. The place of departure was New York; and on that day they went on board the British fleet—the American troops, under General Knox, at the same time entering and taking possession of the city.

Guards being posted for the security of the citizens, General Washington, accompanied by Governor Clinton, and attended by many civil and military officers, and a large number of respectable inhabitants on horseback, made his public entry into the city. What a triumph! What a glorious issue of the toils, anxieties, and hardships, growing out of an eight years' contest! It was an occasion of joy, such as the sun had not beamed upon since the day he was lighted up in the firmament. Public dinners followed, and magnificent fireworks attested the general joy.


One other painful, yet pleasing scene, awaited the commander-in-chief—the parting with the officers of the army, the companions of his toils and triumph. The affecting interview took place on the 4th of December. "At noon, the principal officers of the army assembled at Francis's tavern; soon after which, their beloved commander entered the room. His emotions were too strong to be concealed. Filling a glass, he turned to them, and said: 'With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you; I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy, as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.' Having drunk, he added: 'I cannot come to[Pg 446] each of you to take my leave, but shall be obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand.' General Knox, being nearest, turned to him. Washington, incapable of utterance, grasped his hand, and embraced him. In the same affectionate manner, he took leave of each succeeding officer. The tear of manly sensibility was in every eye; and not a word was articulated to interrupt the dignified silence and the tenderness of the scene. Leaving the room, he passed through the corps of light infantry, and walked to Whitehall, where a barge waited to convey him to Powles' Hook. The whole company followed in mute and solemn procession, with dejected countenances, testifying feelings of delicious melancholy, which no language can describe. Having entered the barge, he turned to the company, and, waving his hat, bade them a silent adieu. They paid him the same affectionate compliment; and after the barge had left them, returned in the same solemn manner to the place where they had assembled."

Washington taking leave of his Officers, and embarking at Whitehall.

Washington taking leave of his Officers, and embarking at Whitehall.

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And there was still one further duty obligatory upon Washington—one act more, and his earthly glory was consummated—to give back the commission which for eight years he had held, and which, had he been actuated by the ambition of Alexander, Cæsar, or Napoleon, he might have employed to ascend a throne. To the fulfillment of this last and highest duty he now addressed himself. Leaving New York, he repaired to Annapolis, in Maryland, where congress was in session, and, on the 20th of December, informed that body of his intention, and requested a day to be assigned for the performance of the duty.

"To give the more dignity to the act, they determined that it should be offered at a public audience on the following Tuesday at twelve o'clock.

"When the hour arrived for performing a ceremony so well calculated to recall the various interesting scenes which had passed, since the commission now to be returned was granted, the gallery was crowded with spectators, and several persons of distinction were admitted on the floor of congress. The members remained seated and covered. The spectators were standing and uncovered. The general was introduced by the secretary, and conducted to a chair. After a short pause, the president informed him that 'The United States, in congress assembled, were prepared to receive his communications.' With native dignity, improved by the solemnity of the occasion, the general rose, and delivered the following address:

"'Mr. President: The great events on which my resignation depended, having at length taken place, I have now the honor of offering my sincere congratulations to congress, and of presenting myself before them, to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.

"'Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the[Pg 448] United States of becoming a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which, however, was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the union, and the patronage of Heaven.

"'The successful termination of the war, has verified the most sanguine expectations; and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen, increases with every review of the momentous contest.

"'While I repeat my obligations to the army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge, in this place, the peculiar services and distinguished merits of the gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the war. It was impossible that the choice of confidential officers to compose my family, should have been more fortunate. Permit me, sir, to recommend, in particular, those who have continued in the service to the present moment, as worthy of the favorable notice and patronage of congress.

"'I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last act of my official life, by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them to his holy keeping.

"'Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action, and, bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.'"

Here, advancing to the chair, he delivered his commission to the president, who in turn addressed him, and in conclusion said:

"We join you in commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching him to dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens to improve the opportunity afforded them of becoming a happy and[Pg 449] respectable nation. And for you, we address to him our earnest prayers, that a life so beloved may be fostered with all his care; that your days may be happy as they have been illustrious; and that he will finally give you that reward which this world cannot give."

The great act was now accomplished: Washington retired, greater, nobler in the estimation of his countrymen than ever; and followed by their love, esteem, and admiration, he once more took up his abode in the quiet and peaceful shades of Mount Vernon, happier in the consciousness of a disinterested patriotism, than if, as the reward of his toils, he had attained the proudest diadem on earth.

Tailpiece—American Flag

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State of Naval Affairs of the Colonies at the commencement of the Revolution—First Naval Engagement—Measures adopted by Congress to provide a Naval Armament—Naval Officers appointed—Vessels built—Flag adopted—Success of American Privateering—Distinguished Naval Officers—General character of Naval Commanders—Particular Engagements—Randolph and Yarmouth—Raleigh and Druid—Submarine Warfare—Le Bon Homme Richard and Serapis—Trumbull and Watt—Alliance, Atalanta, and Trepassey—Congress and Savage.

Having given some account of the military land operations, during the Revolutionary struggle, it belongs to this place to speak of the operations of the American marine, during the same period.

The colonies were poorly prepared, in respect to the organization of an army, or the supply of munitions of war, at the commencement of the contest. The preparations for the struggle on the ocean were, as might be believed, still more limited. But few, even of the maritime colonies, had turned their attention to a naval force as among the means of defence. Indeed, although the storm had for some years been gathering, and, to men of forecast, the day of open[Pg 451] rupture was likely to arrive, yet, at length, it broke upon the country suddenly. Besides, maritime preparations for such a contest long beforehand would have been difficult, if not impossible. Every measure having such an object in view would have been regarded with jealousy, and have brought down the wrath of the mother-country at a still earlier period than it came. Moreover, the colonies had no general congress till 1774, and when first convened, and until hostilities had actually commenced, the object of that body was rather to obtain a redress of grievances, and thus prevent war, than by strong and threatening measures, to hasten an event which all regarded as a general calamity. In addition to these considerations, in view of the magnitude and power of the British navy, it was not probably seriously contemplated, in case of hostilities, that the scene of successful action could be on the ocean, but only on the land.

No sooner, however, had the struggle actually commenced, than many of the brave and enterprising commercial and sea-faring men, began to look with wishful eyes towards an element which promised, if not honor in competing with the navy of Great Britain, at least wealth by cruising against her commerce. At this early period, the seamen of the the colonies were at home on the deep. They were then, as now, bold, hardy, and adventurous; and had orders of capture been issued at an earlier day, it is probable that the commerce of England would have suffered a signal interruption and loss.

While the limits of this work forbid a minute history of the rise, progress, and success of the American navy, provincial and continental, during the Revolutionary contest, such notices are subjoined in relation thereto, as will give the reader an impression of the efforts and prowess of the Americans, in despite of the obstacles against which they had to contend.

The news of the battle of Lexington reached Machias, in Maine, on Saturday, the 9th of May, 1775, and there, as well as in other parts of the country, roused the indignation[Pg 452] of the inhabitants. At this time, there was lying in that port a British armed schooner, called the Margaretta, convoy to two sloops which were loading with lumber in behalf of his majesty's government. Immediately a plan was devised to seize the officers of the schooner, while in church the next day. The scheme, however, failed; Captain Moore and his officers being enabled to escape through the windows of the church, and effecting their retreat to the schooner. Immediately she was got under way, and, dropping down the river, cast anchor in the bay.

The next morning possession was taken of one of the sloops, and with a volunteer corps of thirty men on board, sail was made upon her, in quest of the fugitive schooner.

First Naval Engagement of the Revolution.

First Naval Engagement of the Revolution.

At this time, Captain Moore was ignorant of the commencement of hostilities, and wishing therefore to avoid a collision, weighed anchor on the appearance of the sloop, and stood out to sea. Chase was given, and the sloop being the better sailer, at length came up with the schooner. The latter was armed with four light guns, and fourteen swivels.[Pg 453] With these a fire was opened, and a man killed on board the sloop. The latter returned the fire from a wall piece, which, besides clearing the quarter-deck, killed the helmsman of the schooner. A further short conflict ensued, when, by the broaching to of the schooner, the vessels came in contact; upon which, the Americans boarded her, and took her into port. Twenty men on both sides were killed and wounded. Among the former was Captain Moore. Such was the first naval engagement in the war of the Revolution. It was wholly a private adventure—an enterprise on the part of a party banded together in a moment of excitement, and successful with fearful chances against them, only through their superior bravery.

Before the subject of a naval armament was entertained by congress, three of the colonies—Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut—had provided each two vessels, fitted, armed, and equipped, without the orders or advice of congress. The precise time when these vessels were ordered by these colonies cannot, perhaps, be satisfactorily fixed at this distant period.

Mr. Austin, in his life of the late vice-president Gerry, accords to that gentleman the honor of having first made the proposal in the provincial assembly of Massachusetts for appointing a committee to prepare a law to encourage the fitting out of armed vessels, and to establish a court for the trial and condemnation of prizes. "The law reported by this committee," remarks the biographer, "was passed by the provincial congress November 10th, 1775, and is the first actual avowal of offensive hostility against the mother-country, which is to be found in the annals of the Revolution. It is not the less worthy of consideration as the first effort to establish an American naval armament."

It is certain, however, that previous to the above action of the Massachusetts provincial assembly, but in no respect derogating from her honor, congress had had the subject of armed vessels before them, and had adopted resolutions ordering vessels of a certain description to be provided.

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The following extracts from the journal of congress for 1775, exhibit the first action of that body on the subject of a navy: Friday, September 22, 1775, congress appointed a committee to take into consideration the state of the trade of America. Thursday, October 5, 1775, Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed, to prepare a plan for intercepting two vessels which are on their way to Canada, laden with arms and powder; and that the committee proceed on this business immediately.

Silas Deane.

Silas Deane.

Pursuant to this resolve, the committee, consisting of Silas Deane, John Langdon, and John Adams, reported that a letter be sent to General Washington, advising him of the sailing of two brigs from England to Quebec, with military stores; and authorizing him to request of the council of Massachusetts any two armed vessels in their service, and dispatch the same to intercept said brigs and cargoes. Also, that the governors of Rhode Island and Connecticut be requested to dispatch, the former one or both of the armed vessels belonging to that colony, and the latter the largest[Pg 455] vessel in the service of the colony of Connecticut, on the same enterprise. This report was accepted, and the resolution was adopted.

The preceding measures in respect to a naval movement, were soon followed by others on a more enlarged scale, and looking still further into the future. Several vessels were ordered, by sundry resolves, to be fitted out at the expense of congress—and among them was one able to carry fourteen guns, one twenty, and a third not to exceed thirty-six guns. In November, privateering was authorized, and rules adopted for the navy. In the following month, a resolve was adopted for the building of thirteen ships—five of thirty-two guns, five of twenty-eight, and three of twenty-four.

Thus it appears that in 1775, congress authorized a regular marine, consisting of seventeen cruisers, varying in force from ten to thirty-six guns. These vessels were to be built in the four colonies of New England, in New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. The following is a list of their names and respective rates, as well as of the colony where each was to be built, viz:

Washington,32 gunsPennsylvania.
Raleigh,32 ——New Hampshire.
Hancock,32 ——Massachusetts.
Randolph,32 ——Pennsylvania.
Warren,32 ——Rhode Island.
Maryland,28 ——Virginia.
Trumbull,28 ——Connecticut
Effingham,28 ——Pennsylvania.
Congress,28 ——New York.
Providence,28 ——Rhode Island.
Boston,24 ——Massachusetts.
Montgomery,24 ——New York.
Delaware,24 ——Pennsylvania.

Such was the commencement of the American navy.

Ezekiel Hopkins was placed at the head of the navy, with the title of "commander-in-chief," thus giving him, in respect to the navy, a rank corresponding to the rank of Washington in the army. Among the seamen, his usual appellation was "commodore;" but not unfrequently he was styled[Pg 456] "admiral." His pay was one hundred and twenty-five dollars a-month. Other officers for the navy were appointed from time to time, as the exigencies of the service required. Originally, congress left the rank of the several officers to be regulated by those who were actually in command; but this gave rise to discontent and dispute; whereupon, in 1776, congress decided the rank of the several captains. They ranked as follows:

1. James Nicholson,
2. John Manly,
3. Hector McNiel,
4. Dudley Saltonstall,
5. Nicholas Biddle,
6. Thomas Thompson,
7. John Barry,
8. Thomas Read,
9. Thomas Grennall,
10. Charles Alexander,
11. Lambert Wickes,
12. Abraham Whipple,
13. John B. Hopkins,
14. John Hodge,
15. William Hallock,
16. Hoysted Hacker,
17. Isaiah Robinson,
18. John Paul Jones,
19. James Josiah,
20. Elisha Hinman,
21. Joseph Olney,
22. James Robinson,
23. John Young,
24. Elisha Warner.

The arrangement of rank of inferior officers was assigned to the marine committee.

Commodore Hopkins continued to act as commander-in-chief till January 2d, 1777, when, by a vote of congress, he was dismissed from the service, for not performing the duties on which he had been sent with a fleet to the South. From this date, Captain Nicholson became the senior officer of the navy, though only with the rank of captain.

The foregoing general view of the proceedings of congress in relation to the provision and equipment of a naval armament for the Revolutionary contest, must suffice. Had their various resolutions been fully carried into effect, more important results might have been expected from this source of opposition to Great Britain. But the want of funds, but much more the want of materials for the final equipment of vessels which had been launched—such as guns, anchors, rigging, &c.—in some instances retarded, and in others prevented the completion of vessels which had been ordered, and which the exigencies of the country so much required.

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By the act of October, 1775, thirteen frigates were ordered to be built. Of these, the Raleigh was laid down in New Hampshire, and in sixty days was launched. But the want of materials for equipment for some time delayed her completion.

The Hancock and Boston were built in Massachusetts, and entered the service.

The Warren and Providence were constructed in Rhode Island, but were the most indifferent of the thirteen.

The Congress and Montgomery, ordered to be built in New York, never reached the mouth of the Hudson, being obliged to be burned in 1777, to prevent their falling into the hands of the British.

The Maryland, constructed in Virginia, was completed, and took her place in the service.

The Randolph, the Washington, the Delaware, and the Effingham were allotted to Pennsylvania. The first of these was launched in 1776, and sailed on her first cruise early in 1777. The Delaware was equipped, but is supposed to have fallen into the hands of the British at the time they took possession of Philadelphia. The Washington and the Effingham were burned by the British in 1778.

"Thus, of the thirteen vessels from which so much was expected, but six got to sea at all in the service in which they were built. To these were added, in the course of the war, a few other frigates, some permanently and some only for single cruises. Of the former class, were the Deane, (Hague,) Alliance, Confederacy, and Queen of France. It is believed that these four ships, added to the thirteen ordered by the law of 1775, and the Alfred and Columbus, will comprise all the frigate-built vessels that properly belonged to the marine of the country during the war of the Revolution. The French vessels that composed most of the squadron of Paul Jones were lent for the occasion, and we hear no more of the Pallas after the cruise had ended. She reverted to her original owners."

During the progress of the war, quite a number of sloops[Pg 458] of war and other vessels were employed by congress, and some by the commissioners in France. But a complete catalogue of these, it is now impossible to give.

At the commencement of the Revolution, the flag used on board of some ships, bore a device, representing a pine-tree with a rattle-snake coiled at the root, and ready to strike, with the appropriate motto, "Don't tread on me." Some privateers showed flags with devices upon them after the fancy of their captains or owners; others adopted the arms of the colony from which they sailed, or by whose authority they cruised. In 1777, congress adopted the present national colors.

Many of the officers of the navy were high-spirited and intelligent men. Not a few of the commanders of privateers—and the ocean soon swarmed with them—were distinguished for their nautical skill, and were possessed of as noble and generous impulses as ever actuated the human bosom. None at the present day can adequately realize the obstacles which, at that early period, were to be overcome. Vessels of war were not in existence; even vessels originally adapted for cruising were not numerous. Besides, not only was the government poor, but the fortunes of individuals bore no comparison to some at the present day. And, moreover, the principal theatre of the war was designed from the beginning to be on the land. But the maritime spirit was by no means to be restrained. A writer somewhere remarks, that the conflict between Great Britain and her oppressed and despised colonies had not continued a twelvemonth, when the coasts of the former country were harassed and agitated by the audacity and enterprise of the American cruisers. Insurance in England rose to an unprecedented height. Ship-owners were afraid to trust their vessels abroad; and few indeed did venture, unless they were protected by a convoy. England was made to feel, few and ill-equipped as were the American vessels, compared with her numerous and well-furnished navy, that a nation thoroughly imbued with the love of maritime[Pg 459] adventure, was not to be despised, though she were distant and poor.

It is remarked by Mr. Hinton that, "in the course of three years, the Americans had taken more than double the number of their own guns from the enemy, besides a great number of merchantmen of value. More than eight hundred guns had been taken from the enemy during this time by the marine which congress had fitted out; while that of Massachusetts and of the other states were equally successful. The vessels taken by the public and private armed vessels, from the battle of Lexington to the 17th of March, 1776, when the British evacuated Boston, amounted to thirty-four, of considerable size and value, with excellent cargoes. The tonnage of these captured vessels amounted to three thousand six hundred and forty-five tons. In 1776, the British vessels captured by the private armed vessels alone, amounted to the great number of three hundred and forty-two, of which forty-four were rëtaken, eighteen released, and five burned. In the following year, 1777, the success of our privateers was still greater. Vessels were captured to the amount of four hundred and twenty-one. The success continued without any great diminution until 1780. At this time, the British merchants made so strong an appeal to their government, that they provided a convoy for every fleet of merchant vessels to every part of the globe. Out of the fleet sailing from England to the West Indies, consisting of two hundred in number, in the year 1777, one hundred and thirty-seven were taken by our privateers; and from a fleet from Ireland to the West Indies of sixty sail, thirty-five were taken. Taking the years 1775, 6, 7, 8, and 9, say for the first year, thirty-four; second, three hundred and forty-two; third, four hundred and twenty-one; and for the fourth, which has not been accurately given, I believe, in any work, say, and this within bounds, two hundred; and, for the fifth, the same, two hundred; and allowing but one hundred for the balance of the time during the war, will make twelve[Pg 460] hundred and ninety-seven, without including those taken by public vessels from 1776 to the close of the war; and this latter number, if it could be precisely given, would add greatly to the list of captures."

The naval names, that have descended to us from this war with the greatest reputation, are those of Manly, Mugford, Jones, Barry, Barney, Waters, Young, Tucker, Talbot, Nicholson, Williams, Biddle, Hopkins, Robinson, Wickes, Rathburne, and Hacket. Besides these, there were many others, either in the service of one of the state sovereignties, at that time, or of congress, who were equally worthy of notice, but who have been neglected, because they were only commanders of privateers.

It cannot be doubted that, considering the great number of privateers that swarmed upon the ocean during the war, there were sometimes cruelties practiced, and scenes enacted, disgraceful to the perpetrators. The contrary was not to be expected. But generally, the commanders of these privateers were men of principle and humanity. Indeed, instances of the most magnanimous conduct among them might be given. In several cases of capture, when they understood that the owners were friendly to the cause of America, both the vessel and the crew were suffered to depart without losing a particle of property. And still further, the officers of vessels, captured by privateers, as well as by public armed ships, were never deprived of their baggage, and often not of their adventures, when they had any.

From the preceding account of the capture of British vessels, during the Revolution, by American privateers and regular ships of war, it can easily be credited that the ocean must have been the scene of many thrilling and adventurous exploits. The American seamen were fired with a patriotism, not less pure and impulsive than the soldiers on the land. But the story of their bravery, the hardships they endured, the zeal and courage with which they fought, unlike that of their compatriots, were left in a[Pg 461] great measure unrecorded; or, if noticed in the papers of the day, were told without those circumstantial details, from which the chief interest of a naval engagement often arises. Some privateersmen probably had not the ability to draw up such accounts, and others who had, not being obliged to report to the government an account of their engagements, lacked the inclination, amid the stirring scenes in which they were engaged. Hence, but few well-authenticated and circumstantial accounts of the operations of this species of force have descended to the present time.

The records of engagements by the regular marine are more abundant, but far from being as copious and circumstantial as those of the American navy, during the late war with Great Britain. Enough of interest, however, exists and more than sufficient for the space which we can allow to the subject. Indeed, we must leave unnoticed several as full of interest and as evincive of prowess, as those which find a place in this volume.


The Randolph, a frigate of thirty-two guns, was launched at Philadelphia in 1776, and sailed on her first cruise in 1777, being one of the first, if not the very first, of the new vessels built under the resolution of congress of October, 1775, that proceeded to sea. She was commanded by Nicholas Biddle, a man combining all the distinguishing qualifications of a great naval commander.

After having been at sea a few days, a defect in his masts, and a disposition to mutiny discovered in his crew, induced him to put into Charleston. On again sailing, he soon fell in with and captured four Jamaica-men, one of which, the True-Briton, had an armament of twenty-guns. With these prizes, he returned to Charleston. The citizens of that place, pleased with the character and enterprise of Captain Biddle, placed four small vessels of their own under his care; with these and the Randolph he proceeded to sea, in search of several British vessels which had been[Pg 462] seen cruising off Charleston for some time. No traces of them, however, were discovered.

Nothing more was heard from this squadron for some time. But, at length, intelligence was received of the most distressing nature. It was contained in a letter of Captain Vincent, of his Britannic majesty's ship Yarmouth, sixty-four, dated March 17th, 1778.

On the 7th of that month, the Yarmouth, while cruising to the east of Barbadoes, discovered six sail bearing south-east, and standing on a wind. On getting nearer, they were discovered to be two ships, three brigs, and a schooner. At nine o'clock P. M., the Yarmouth succeeded in ranging up on the weather-quarter of the largest and leading vessel—the ship, next in size, being astern to leeward. Here, displaying her colors, the Yarmouth ordered the Randolph (for so she proved to be) to show her ensign. At this moment the American flag was run up, and a whole broadside poured in upon the Yarmouth. A spirited action immediately ensued, and for twenty minutes was maintained by both ships with great energy—when on a sudden the Randolph blew up. So near were the ships at the time, that portions of the flying wreck struck the Yarmouth, and even the American ensign fell upon her forecastle. It was rolled up, and not even singed.

Immediately following this catastrophe, the Yarmouth went in pursuit of the other vessels, which, meanwhile, were attempting to escape. But he was unable to come up with them, his own sails having been so injured during the short action had with the Randolph. The chase, therefore, was relinquished, and the Yarmouth continued to cruise in the neighborhood. She was still ignorant of the name of the ill-fated vessel, which she had engaged, nor was there now any prospect of her ever learning it.

But at length, on the 12th, while passing near to the theatre of the engagement, signals of distress were discovered proceeding from persons at a short distance. On reaching them, they proved to be four men, on a piece of wreck.[Pg 463] On being taken on board of the Yarmouth, they reported themselves as having belonged to the Randolph, thirty-two, Captain Biddle, blown up in an action with an English frigate on the night of the 7th. They had been floating on the wreck on which they were discovered, without sustenance, since the time of explosion.

The Randolph and Yarmouth.

The Randolph and Yarmouth.

These men reported, that, soon after the action commenced, Captain Biddle was severely wounded in the thigh. Being taken below, and seated in a chair, the surgeon was proceeding to examine his wound, when the explosion occurred, by which the vessel was blown into fragments, and the whole crew, officers and men, with the exception of the four named, were in a moment killed. The Yarmouth, in the brief time the action lasted, lost five killed and twelve wounded.

What would have been the result, had not this catastrophe occurred, no one can say. Captain Biddle was fighting at fearful odds. But he was young, ardent, ambitious; and, while we can scarcely refrain from thinking him presumptuous,[Pg 464] it is quite apparent, from his actually entering the lists, that he contemplated a victory over his powerful antagonist as an achievement quite possible. He was only twenty-seven years of age. His untimely fate caused a deep sensation in all quarters; the navy was felt to have lost a true friend, and the country a zealous patriot.


Under the law of 1775, the Raleigh was constructed in New Hampshire. She was a fine twelve-pounder frigate, commanded by Captain Thompson. In the latter part of August, 1777, for the first time, she went to sea. She was accompanied by the Alfred, twenty-four, Captain Hinman. Both vessels were bound to France for military stores.

During the first few days, while running off the coast, they captured several small vessels; and, on the 2d of September, fell in with and captured a scow, called the Nancy, belonging to the outward-bound windward fleet. Learning the direction of this fleet, which was in the advance of the Nancy, Captain Thompson went in chase. On the 3d, the convoy of the fleet was descried. It consisted of the Camel, Druid, Weasel, and Grasshopper, which had under their protection sixty merchantmen. At sunset, Captain Thompson spoke the Alfred, and signified his intention of running in among the fleet, and, if possible, engaging the commodore.

By means of the officers of the Nancy, he had obtained the signals of the fleet, and by means of these he was able to pass for one of the convoy. The Alfred proving unable to carry the requisite sail, Captain Thompson left her, and passed on into the midst of the fleet. His guns being housed and his ports lowered, she showed no signs of preparation for an attack. Added to this, making use of the commodore's signals, he was able to give several of the merchantmen direction how to steer. Thus he avoided suspicion, and was able to run the Raleigh alongside of the vessel of war, and "when within pistol-shot, she hauled up[Pg 465] her courses, run out her guns, set her ensign, and commanded the enemy to strike." This was a bold movement. Taken by surprise, the British commander was at an utter loss how to act. The confusion was general. The sails got aback. Taking advantage of the perturbation on board the Druid, (for so she proved,) Captain Thompson poured in upon her a broadside. This was followed by a second, third—twelve broadsides in twenty minutes, scarcely receiving a shot in return.

The Raleigh and Druid.

The Raleigh and Druid.

While thus engaged, a sudden and violent squall came on, which, in a measure, slackened the engagement, and rendered the aim uncertain. As the squall ceased, it was discovered that the convoy had scattered in all directions, and were doing their utmost to escape. The other armed vessels now hastened to the assistance of their crippled companion. Yet the Raleigh continued to deal out her thunder, nor did she haul off until the other vessels were almost within gun-shot of her. Thus compelled, she ran to leeward, and joined the Alfred. Hoping, however, that[Pg 466] the commodore might be induced to renew the engagement, she shortened sail, thus giving her antagonist an opportunity to restore his wounded honor; but, instead of this, he hauled in among his convoy. For several following days the American ships continued to follow the fleet, but they were not so fortunate as to receive the respects of any of the vessels of war.

The Druid, which was of twenty guns, was so much disabled as to be obliged immediately to return to England. Her loss was six killed and twenty-six wounded; among the latter, was her commander, Captain Carteret. Five of the wounded subsequently died. The Raleigh had three men killed and wounded.


During the year 1777, David Bushnell, a native of Connecticut, made several attempts to blow up the ships of the enemy by means of torpedoes. This mode of warfare had employed his thoughts during his collegiate course, so that on graduating in 1775, his plans were in a good degree matured. An account of some of his early plans he gave to the world himself. The following is a description of his celebrated torpedo: "It bore a resemblance to two upper tortoise shells of equal sizes, placed in contact, leaving, at that part which represents the head of the animal, a flue or opening sufficiently capacious to contain the operator, and air to support him thirty minutes. At the bottom, opposite to the entrance, was placed a quantity of lead for ballast. The operator sat upright, and held an oar for rowing forward or backward, and was furnished with a rudder for steering. An aperture at the bottom with its valves admitted water for the purpose of descending, and two brass forcing-pumps served to eject the water within, when necessary for ascending. The vessel was made completely water-tight, furnished with glass windows for the admission of light, with ventilators and air-pipes, and was so ballasted with lead fixed on the bottom as to render it solid,[Pg 467] and obviate all danger of oversetting. Behind the sub-marine vessel was a place above the rudder for carrying a large powder magazine; this was made of two pieces of oak timber, large enough, when hollowed out, to contain one hundred and fifty pounds of powder, with the apparatus used for firing it, and was secured in its place by a screw turned by the operator. It was lighter than water, so that he might rise against the object to which it was intended to be fastened.

"Within the magazine was an apparatus constructed to run any proposed period under twelve hours; when it had run out its time, it unpinioned a strong lock, resembling a gun-lock, which gave fire to the powder. This apparatus was so pinioned, that it could not possibly move, until, by casting off the magazine from the vessel, it was set in motion. The skillful operator could swim so low on the surface of the water, as to approach very near the ship in the night, without fear of being discovered, and might, if he chose, approach the stem or stern above water, with very little danger. He could sink very quickly, keep at any necessary depth, and row a great distance in any direction he desired, without coming to the surface. When he rose to the top, he could soon obtain a fresh supply of air, and, if necessary, descend again and pursue his course."

With a torpedo of the above construction, Bushnell made an experiment on the Eagle, a sixty-gun ship, then lying in the harbor of New York, and under command of Lord Howe. A sergeant of one of the Connecticut regiments conducted the operation. General Putnam, standing on the wharf, was a witness of the proceeding.

The sergeant, having under cover of night proceeded to the ship, attempted to fasten the torpedo to her bottom by means of a screw. But in this he failed, striking, as he supposed, a bar or bolt of iron, which resisted the screw. In attempting to move to another place, he passed from under the ship, and soon rose to the surface. By this time, daylight had so far advanced as to make any further experiments[Pg 468] hazardous. He therefore concluded to return to New York. On passing Governor's island, supposing himself discovered by the British stationed there, he cast off his magazine, and proceeded without it. The internal apparatus was set to run one hour; at the expiration of which, it blew up, in a tremendous explosion, throwing a vast column of water to a great height, to the no small wonder of the enemy.

This experiment was followed in the course of the year by an attempt from a whaling-boat against the frigate Cerebus, off New London. The expedient adopted in this case was to draw a machine, loaded with powder, against her side by means of a line, to be exploded by a gun-lock. But failing to attach itself as intended, against the frigate, it became attached to a schooner, at anchor astern of the frigate, which, on exploding, it demolished.

In a letter addressed to Sir Peter Parker, by Commodore Simmons, at the time of the explosion on board the Cerebus, he gave an account of this singular disaster. Being at anchor to the westward of the town with a schooner which he had taken, about eleven o'clock in the evening he discovered a line towing astern from the bows. He believed some person had been veered away by it, and immediately began to haul in. A sailor belonging to the schooner taking it for a fishing-line, laid hold of it, and drew it in about fifteen fathoms. It was buoyed up by small pieces tied to it at regular distances. At the end of the rope a machine was fastened, too heavy for one man to pull up, for it exceeded one hundred pounds in weight. The other people of the schooner coming to his assistance, they drew it upon deck. While the men, to gratify their curiosity, were examining the machine, it exploded, blew the vessel into pieces, and set her on fire. Three men were killed, and a fourth blown into the water, very much injured. On subsequent examination, the other part of the line was discovered buoyed up in the same manner; this the commodore ordered to be instantly cut away, for fear (as he termed it) of hauling up another of the "infernals!"

[Pg 469]

The above mode of warfare cannot but be considered too shocking and inhuman to be encouraged by civilized nations, and we do not regret that the experiment of Bushnell, and the more recent experiments of Fulton, failed. But it is said that the failure of his efforts cast a deep and permanent gloom over the mind of Bushnell.


On the 10th of April, 1778, the celebrated John Paul Jones sailed on a cruise from France, having the Ranger placed under his command by the American commissioners, Franklin, Deane, and Lee. In consideration of his previous valuable services, he was allowed to cruise wherever he pleased. Accordingly, he directed his course along the British coast, and for a time kept the people of the maritime part of Scotland, and part of England, in a state of great alarm and excitement.

Among his exploits on this cruise, previous to that in which he engaged the Serapis, his descent upon Whitehaven was of the boldest character. Two forts, with thirty pieces of cannon, guarded this port, in which, at the time, were a hundred vessels at anchor.

"Two parties landed in the night; the forts were seized and the guns spiked; the few look-outs that were in the works being confined. In effecting this duty, Captain Jones was foremost in person; for, having once sailed out of that port, he was familiar with the situation of the place. An accident, common to both the parties into which the expedition had been divided, came near defeating the enterprise in the outset. They had brought candles in lanterns, for the double purpose of lights and torches, and, now that they were about to be used as the latter, it was found that they were all consumed. As the day was appearing, the party under Mr. Wallingford, one of the lieutenants, took to its boat without effecting any thing, while Captain Jones sent to a detached building, and obtained a candle. He boarded a large ship, kindled a fire in her steerage, and by placing[Pg 470] a barrel of tar over the spot, soon had the vessel in flames. This ship lay in the midst of more than a hundred others, high and dry, the tide being out; Captain Jones took to his boats, and pulled towards his ship. Some guns were fired on the retiring boats without effect; but the people of the place succeeded in extinguishing the flames before the mischief became very extensive."

Jones setting Fire to the Ships at Whitehaven.

Jones setting Fire to the Ships at Whitehaven.

During this cruise, another bold enterprise was undertaken. This was an attempt to seize the Earl of Selkirk, who had a seat on St. Mary's Isle, near the point, where the Dee flows into the channel. Jones was well acquainted with the place, his father having been gardener to the earl, but he was not himself immediately engaged in the attempt, that being entrusted to a subordinate officer. The party landed, demanded and took possession of the house, but, to their great disappointment, the duke himself was absent. One unauthorized act of the party, Captain Jones condemned, viz: the seizure of about one hundred pounds value of plate. This, however, he afterwards purchased[Pg 471] of the crew, and returned to Lady Selkirk, with a letter expressive of his regrets at the occurrence.

He next steered towards the coast of Ireland, where he encountered the Drake, twenty, a ship which he had a sincere desire to meet. On approaching the Ranger, the Drake hailed, and received the name of her antagonist, by way of challenge, with a request to come on. As the two ships were standing on in this manner, the Drake a little to leeward and astern, the Ranger put her helm up, a manœuvre that the enemy imitated, and the former gave the first broadside. The wind admitted of but few changes, but the battle was fought running fire, under easy canvas. It lasted an hour and four minutes, when the Drake called for quarter, her ensign being already cut down.

The English ship was much cut up, both in her hull and aloft, and Captain Jones computed her loss at about forty men. Her captain and lieutenant were both desperately wounded, and died shortly after the engagement. The Ranger suffered much less, having Lieutenant Wallingford and one man killed, and six wounded. The Drake was not only a heavier ship, but she had a much stronger crew than her antagonist. She had also two guns the most.

With this prize, Jones returned to Brest, where for a time he remained in hope of receiving a more important command, and which had brought him to Europe.

After many delays, the king of France purchased for him the Duras, an old Indiaman, which name Jones exchanged for Le Bon Homme Richard.[51] To this were, added by[Pg 472] order of the French ministry, the Pallas, Cerf, and Vengeance, and, by Dr. Franklin, commissioner, the Alliance, thirty-two, then in France. The Cerf and Alliance were the only vessels of the squadron fitted for war.

Paul Jones.

Paul Jones.

With this squadron, Commodore Jones, on the 19th of June, 1779, sailed from the anchorage under the Isle of Groix, off l'Orient, bound southward; but, finding it necessary to return, he left the anchorage a second time, on the 14th of August. About the 23d of September, he fell in with a fleet of merchantmen, of more than forty sail, under convoy of the Serapis, forty-four, Captain Richard Pearson, and the Countess of Seaborough, twenty-two.

The Serapis was a new ship, mounting on her lower gun-deck, twenty eighteen-pound guns, on her upper gun deck, twenty nine-pound guns, and on her quarter-deck and[Pg 473] forecastle, ten six-pound guns; making an armament of fifty guns in the whole. Her crew consisted of three hundred and twenty men. The Bon Homme Richard was a single-decked ship, with six old eighteen-pounders mounted in the gun-room below, and twenty-eight twelve-pounders on her main or proper gun-deck, with eight nines on her quarter-deck forecastle, and six in the gangways, making in all a mixed, or rather light amount of forty-two guns. Her crew consisted of three hundred and eighty men, of whom one hundred and thirty-seven were marines or soldiers.

Our narrative will be confined to the action between the Richard and the Serapis, which proved one of the most terrible and hotly-contested engagements recorded in the annals of naval warfare.

Le Bon Homme Richard and Serapis.

Le Bon Homme Richard and Serapis.

About half-past seven in the evening, the Richard came up with the Serapis. Captain Pearson hailed. The answer of Commodore Jones was designedly equivocal, and, in a moment after, both ships delivered their entire broadsides. A sad and destructive catastrophe befel the Richard. Two[Pg 474] of her eighteen guns burst, blowing up the deck above, and killing or wounding a large proportion of the people stationed below. This disaster caused all the heavy guns to be deserted, the men having no longer sufficient confidence in them to use them. The loss of these reduced the Richard one-third below that of her rival; in short, it became a contest between a twelve-pounder and an eighteen pounder, a species of contest in which it has been said the former has never been known to prevail. Captain Jones, however, more than most men, was fitted for desperate circumstances, and in a moment determined to make up in rëdoubled activity what was wanting in power of metal.

Nearly an hour was consumed in different manœuvres—shifting, firing—each endeavoring to obtain the advantage of position; till, at length, the vessels came close together, but not in a manner which permitted either party to board. The firing ceased for a few minutes. Captain Pearson, imagining the enemy had surrendered, demanded, "Have you struck your colors?" "I have not yet begun to fight!" vociferated the intrepid Jones.

The ships again separated, and the firing was renewed. Again they fell upon each other, and in the moment of collision, Captain Jones, with his own hands, lashed the enemy's head-gear to his mizen-mast. This brought them more entirely side by side, and it being desirable on the part of Captain Jones to retain the enemy in that position, additional lashings were employed to effect that object. This was a disappointment to Captain Pearson, but he determined to be first in boarding, and now made a vigorous attempt with that object in view, but was repulsed.

"All this time, the battle raged. The lower ports of the Serapis having been closed, as the vessels swung, to prevent boarding, they were now blown off, in order to allow the guns to be run out; and cases actually occurred in which the rammers had to be thrust into the ports of the opposite ship, in order to be entered into the muzzles of their proper guns. It is evident that such a conflict must[Pg 475] have been of short duration. In effect, the heavy metal of the Serapis, in one or two discharges, cleared all before it, and the main guns of the Richard were in a great measure abandoned. Most of the people went on the upper deck, and a great number collected on the forecastle, where they were safe from the fire of the enemy, continuing to fight by throwing grenades and using muskets.

"In this stage of the combat, the Serapis was tearing her antagonist to pieces below, almost without resistance from her enemy's batteries, only two guns on the quarter-deck, and three or four of the twelves, being worked at all. To the former, by shifting a gun from the larboard side, Commodore Jones succeeded in adding a third, all of which were used with effect, under his immediate inspection, to the close of the action. He could not muster force enough to get over a second gun. But the combat would now have soon terminated, had it not been for the courage and activity of the people aloft. Strong parties had been placed in the tops; at the end of a short contest, the Americans had driven every man belonging to the enemy below; after which, they kept up so animated a fire, on the quarter-deck of the Serapis in particular, as to drive nearly every man off it, that was not shot down.

"Thus, while the English had the battle nearly all to themselves below, their enemies had the control above the upper-deck. Having cleared the tops of the Serapis, some American seamen lay out on the Richard's main-yard, and began to throw hand-grenades upon the two upper-decks of the English ship; the men on the forecastle of their own vessel seconding these efforts, by casting the same combustibles through the ports of the Serapis. At length, one man in particular became so hardy, as to take his post on the extreme end of the yard, whence, provided with a bucket filled with combustibles and a match, he dropped the grenades with so much precision, that one passed through the main-hatchway. The powder-boys of the Serapis, had got more cartridges up than were wanted, and, in their hurry, they had carelessly laid a row of them[Pg 476] on the main-deck, in a line with the guns. The grenade just mentioned, set fire to some loose powder that was lying near, and the flash passed from cartridge to cartridge beginning abreast the main-mast, and running quite aft.

"The effect of this explosion was awful. More than twenty men were instantly killed, many of them being left with nothing on them but the collars and wristbands of their shirts, and the waistbands of their duck trowsers; while the official returns of the ship, a week after the action, show that there were no less than thirty-eight wounded on board still alive, who had been injured in this manner, and of whom thirty were said to have been then in great danger. Captain Pearson describes this explosion as having destroyed nearly all the men at the five or six aftermost guns. On the whole, nearly sixty must have been disabled by this sudden blow.

"The advantage thus obtained by the coolness and intrepidity of the topmen, in a great measure restored the chances of the combat; and, by lessening the fire of the enemy, enabled Commodore Jones to increase his. In the same degree that it encouraged the crew of the Richard, it diminished the hopes of the people of the Serapis. One of the guns, under the immediate inspection of Commodore Jones, had been pointed some time against the main-mast of his enemy, while the two others had seconded the fire of the tops, with grape and cannister. Kept below decks by this double attack, where a scene of frightful horror was present in the agonies of the wounded, and the effects of the explosion, the spirits of the English began to droop, and there was a moment when a trifle would have induced them to submit. From this despondency, they were temporarily raised, by one of those unlooked-for events that ever accompany the vicissitudes of battle.

"After exchanging an ineffective and distant broadside with the Scarborough, the Alliance kept standing off and on, to leeward of the two principal ships, out of the direction of their shot, when, about half-past eight, she appeared[Pg 477] crossing the stern of the Serapis and the bow of the Richard, firing at such a distance as to render it impossible to say which vessel would suffer the most. As soon as she had drawn out of the range of her own guns, her helm was put up, and she ran down nearly a mile to leeward, hovering about, until the firing had ceased between the Pallas and Scarborough, when she came within hail, and spoke both of these vessels. Captain Cottineau, of the Pallas, earnestly entreated Captain Landais to take possession of his prize, and allow him to go to the assistance of the Richard, or to stretch up to windward in the Alliance himself, and succor the commodore."[52]

At length, Captain Landais determined to go to the assistance of the Richard, but on reaching the scene of engagement, he opened a fire which did as much damage to friend as foe. He was hailed, and informed that he was firing into the wrong ship. At the time, it was supposed to be a mistake; but afterwards it was more than conjectured to have been a wanton and cruel act of revenge on the part of Landais, who had for some time exhibited strong feelings of hostility to Captain Jones, and had neglected on several occasions to follow out his orders.

"Let the injuries have been received," continues Mr. Cooper, "from what quarter they might, soon after the Alliance had run to leeward, an alarm was spread in the Richard that the ship was sinking. Both vessels had been on fire several times, and some difficulty had been experienced in extinguishing the flames; but here was a new enemy to contend with, and as the information came from the carpenter, whose duty it was to sound the pump-wells, it produced a great deal of consternation. The Richard had more than a hundred English prisoners on board, and the master-at-arms, in the hurry of the moment, let them all up below, in order to save their lives. In the confusion of such a scene at night, the master of a letter-of-marque, that had been taken off the north of Scotland, passed through a port of the Richard into[Pg 478] one of the Serapis, when he reported to Captain Pearson, that a few minutes would probably decide the battle in his favor, or carry his enemy down, he himself having been liberated in order to save his life. Just at this instant, the gunner, who had little to occupy him at his quarters, came on deck, and not perceiving Commodore Jones, or Mr. Dale, both of whom were occupied with the liberated prisoners, and believing the master, the only other superior he had in the ship, to be dead, he ran up the poop to haul down the colors. Fortunately, the flag-staff had been shot away, and, the ensign already hanging in the water, he had no other means of letting his intention to submit be known than by calling out for quarters. Captain Pearson now hailed to inquire if the Richard demanded quarter, and was answered by Commodore Jones himself in the negative. It is probable that the reply was not heard, or if heard, supposed to come from an unauthorized source; for encouraged by what he learned from the escaped prisoner, by the cry, and by the confusion that prevailed in the Richard, the English captain directed his boarders to be called away, and, as soon as mustered, they were ordered to take possession of the prize. Some of the men actually got on the gunwale of the latter ship, but finding boarders ready to repel boarders, they made a precipitate retreat. All this time the topmen were not idle, and the enemy were soon driven below again with loss.

"In the mean while, Mr. Dale, who no longer had a gun that could be fought, mustered the prisoners at the pumps, turning their consternation to account, and probably keeping the Richard afloat by the very blunder that had come so near losing her. The ships were now on fire again, and both parties, with the exception of a few guns on each side, ceased fighting, in order to subdue this dangerous enemy. In the course of the combat, the Serapis is said to have been set on fire no less than twelve times, while towards its close, as will be seen in the sequel, the Richard was burning all the while.

[Pg 479]

"As soon as order was restored in the Richard, after the call for quarter, her chances for success began to increase, while the English, driven under cover almost to a man, appear to have lost, in a great degree, the hope of victory. Their fire materially slackened, while the Richard again brought a few more guns to bear; the main-mast of the Serapis began to totter, and her resistance, in general, to lessen. About an hour after the explosion, or between three hours and three hours and a half after the first gun was fired, and between two hours and two hours and a half after the ships were lashed together, Captain Pearson hauled down the colors of the Serapis with his own hands, the men refusing to expose themselves to the fire of the Richard's tops."

Sinking of the Bon Homme Richard.

Sinking of the Bon Homme Richard.

Thus ended a conflict as murderous and sanguinary as the annals of naval warfare have recorded. Each ship lost about one hundred and fifty men, or nearly one-half of the whole number engaged.

At the time of the surrender, the Richard was on fire,[Pg 480] and apparently sinking. So imminent was the danger, that the powder was hastily removed from the magazine, and placed on the deck, to prevent explosion. Men from the other ships were sent on board, and the pumps were kept in motion, and water raised and dashed around until ten o'clock the next day, before the fire was got under. An examination of the ship followed, the result of which was, that it was necessary to abandon her. The wounded were consequently ordered to be removed, and on the following day, about ten o'clock, this gallant ship settled slowly into the sea.

The squadron now left the scene of mortal combat, with the Serapis and Scarborough, the latter having struck to the Pallas. The former having lost her main-mast, jury masts were obliged to be rigged; after driving about in the rough sea until the 6th of October, the squadron and prizes entered the Texel, the port to which they had been ordered to repair.


The action between these two vessels, next to that of the Richard and Serapis, is supposed to have been the most severe during the war of the Revolution.

The Trumbull, of thirty-two guns, was commanded by Captain James Nicholson, a spirited and skillful officer. During a cruise in June, 1780, a large ship was perceived bearing down upon the Trumbull's quarter. At half-past eleven, she hauled a point more to stern of her. The Trumbull now made sail, hauling upon a wind towards her, upon which she came down upon the Trumbull's beams. The latter then took in all her small sails, hauled her courses up, hove the main-topsail to the mast, cleared for action, end waited the approach of the enemy.

After several manœuvres on the part of each vessel, Captain Nicholson discovered that his adversary had thirteen ports on each side, and eight or ten on her quarter-deck and forecastle, and of course mounted thirty-six guns. At twelve, the Trumbull, finding her great superiority as to[Pg 481] sailing, and having gotten to windward, determined to avail herself of the advantage to commence the engagement.

The stranger, observing the design of Captain Nicholson, fired three shots, and hoisted British colors as a challenge. The Trumbull wore after her, hoisting British colors, with an intention of getting alongside. A private signal was made in turn by the British ship, which not being answered she opened a broadside at a hundred yards distance. The Trumbull, upon this, run up the continental colors, and returned the fire.

Such was the commencement of an action of three hours' continuance. There was bravery, determination, on both sides. During the greater part of the action, the vessels were not fifty yards apart, and at one time, they were nearly enlocked.

Twice was the Trumbull set on fire by means of wads from the other vessel. Her masts and rigging were greatly injured. Observing, at length, that her masts were in imminent danger of going by the board, the first lieutenant informed Captain Nicholson of the danger, and begged him to abandon further attempt to take the enemy's ship, as without masts they should be at his mercy.

It was with great reluctance that Captain Nicholson adopted the course suggested. He was confident that with one half-hour more, he should have been able to have achieved the victory. But yielding to stern necessity, and the dictates of humanity, he gave up the contest. He lost his main and mizen-top-mast, when only musket-shot distant from the other vessel. At length, only her fore-mast was left, and that was badly wounded and sprung. She had eight men killed, and twenty-one wounded, nine of whom died after the action. Her crew consisted of one hundred and ninety-nine men. The English ship proved to be the Watt, letter-of-marque. She had upwards of ninety men killed and wounded. Not less than one hundred balls struck her hull.

[Pg 482]


In February, 1781, Captain Barry, of the frigate Alliance, of thirty-two guns, sailed from Boston for l'Orient, having on board Colonel Lawrence, destined to France on an important embassy to the French court. Having landed Mr. Lawrence, he sailed on a cruise.

On the 28th of May, two sail were discovered on the weather-bow of the Alliance, standing towards her. After having approached sufficiently near to be discovered by Captain Barry, they hauled to wind, and stood on the same course with the Alliance. On the 29th, at day-break, the wind lulled. At sunrise, the Alliance displayed the American colors, and preparations were made for action. The men look their stations.

The vessels with which the Alliance was now to contend were a ship and a brig, displaying English colors—the Atalanta, Captain Edwards, carrying twenty guns and one hundred and thirty men, and the Trepassey, of fourteen guns and eighty men, under command of Captain Smith.

The advantage was, both as to men and guns, on the side of the British; but more than this, as the Alliance must necessarily engage both at the same time. But Captain Barry, no way daunted, determined to do his duty as an officer and a patriot. He, therefore, summoned them to strike their colors. To such a summons they had, of course, no inclination to accede, and the engagement opened with a spirit corresponding to the interest at stake. Unfortunately for the Alliance, a perfect calm prevailed—and on the bosom of the water she lay, in respect to motion, as a thing devoid of life. The opposing vessels had sweeps, and were therefore able to choose their positions. And the most advantageous positions they did choose—they lay on the quarters, and athwart the stern of the Alliance. Consequently, but few of her guns could be brought to bear.

Added to these untoward circumstances, there soon occurred, on board the Alliance, a still greater misfortune.[Pg 483] A grape-shot struck the shoulder of Captain Barry, inflicting a severe and dangerous wound. But he neither heeded its pain nor its danger, but continued on the quarter-deck, marking the progress of the action, and giving his orders as occasion required. At length, however, by reason of loss of blood, he was obliged to be borne below. At this time, the American flag was shot away, and fell. There was a momentary pause on board the Alliance, which the enemy construing into a surrender, they filled the air with loud rejoicings.

But they mistook. The flag had been shot down, not hauled down. The supposed pause was only the needful interval occupied in rëloading. The colors were soon rëinstalled, and again floated as proudly as before; and a full broadside from the Alliance showed to her foes how the interval had been occupied. That broadside rëcalled them to their quarters. Fortunately, about this time, a welcome breeze, though still light, sprung up. The sails of the Alliance, which had scarcely served any purpose during the engagement, and seemed destined to acquire no honor in the coming victory—the sails were no longer idle. They soon brought the vessel into a more favorable position. This circumstance added to the confidence and rëdoubled the efforts of the seamen. Broadside followed broadside in quick succession, and did all desirable execution. At three o'clock in the afternoon the action terminated: the Alliance was the victor.

On being ushered into the presence of Barry, Captain Edwards presented his sword; which, however, the former declined taking, observing, "that he richly merited it, and that his king ought to give him a better ship."

The importance of firmness and perseverance, in a commander, was well illustrated during the above engagement. Soon after Barry received his wound, and had been obliged to go below, one of his lieutenants, disheartened by the misfortune which had befallen his commander, and appalled by the fearful devastation which[Pg 484] seemed to be making by the enemy with the ship's spars and rigging, repaired to him, and proposed that the colors should be struck.

Barry started. The colors be struck! no such thought had entered his mind. The colors be struck! "No!" said he; "if the ship can't be fought without me, carry me at once on deck." The lieutenant, if ashamed, was also rëanimated. He repaired on deck, went round among the crew, and made known Barry's courage and determination. There was but one response among the brave tars. They decided to "stick to him manfully." And they did. From that moment "the ship was fought"—and fought without the presence of Barry. But no sooner was his wound dressed, than he insisted on being aided in ascending to the deck; before reaching it, however, the enemy had struck. Brave seamen! brave commander!

The Alliance had eleven killed during the action, and twenty-one wounded. Among the latter, were several officers. She had suffered terribly in her spars and rigging. The loss of the enemy was eleven killed and thirty wounded.


The Savage was a British sloop, carrying twenty guns and about one hundred and fifty men. In September, 1781, while on a cruise along the Southern coast of the United States, she entered the Potomac, and plundered the estate of Washington, then in another quarter, commanding the American army. It was an expedition unworthy a high-minded and honorable officer, and a well-merited rebuke was soon after meted out to him.

On leaving the Potomac, the Savage fell in with the American privateer Congress, Captain Geddes, off Charleston. The vessels were of the same force. On board the Congress, at the time, was Major McLane, a distinguished American officer, who with a part of his command had volunteered to serve as marines. As the crew of the Savage[Pg 485] were all seamen, she had decidedly the advantage, in respect to the Congress, whose crew, in part, were landsmen, unacquainted with marine warfare.

The vessels were now within cannon distance. The Congress commenced by firing her bow-chasers. This was at half-past ten in the morning. At eleven, they had approximated so near each other, that the landsmen employed their musketry, and with effect. A sharp and destructive cannonade followed on both sides.

At the commencement of the engagement, the advantage lay with the Savage. Her position being on the Congress' bows, was favorable for raking. But a closer engagement followed, and the tide turned in favor of the privateer. So well did she manœuvre, so promptly, so dextrously, that she soon disabled her enemy. At the expiration of an hour, the braces and bowlines of the Savage were shot away. Not a rope was left by which to trim the sails. The musketry of the Americans had cleared her decks. In this situation, it was deemed impossible that she could much longer continue the contest. Indeed, she was already nearly a wreck—her sails, rigging, and yards were so shattered as to forbid her changing her position, but with the greatest difficulty. She would not, however, surrender, but rëcommenced a vigorous cannonade. Again her quarter-deck and forecastle were cleared by the fatal musketry of the American landsmen. Three guns on her main deck were rendered useless. The vessels were now so near each other, that the fire from the guns scorched the men opposed to them in the other. At length, the mizen-mast of the Savage was shot away. At this instant, the boatswain of the Savage appeared forward, with his hat off, calling for quarter. But it was half an hour before the crew of the Congress could board her, by reason of the loss of their boats. But, on reaching her, she was found to be scarcely more than a wreck. Her decks were covered with blood, and killed and wounded men.

The Congress had thirty men killed and wounded. The[Pg 486] Savage had twenty-three killed and thirty-one wounded. Among the latter, was her commander, Captain Sterling.

The marine service often furnished examples of great heroism and most patriotic endurance. Such an instance occurred on board the Congress. After the action terminated, Major McLane went forward to ascertain what had become of his sergeant, Thomas. He found the poor fellow lying on his back in the netting, near the foot of the bowsprit, with his musket loaded, but both legs broken. "Poor fellow!" thought the major, as he beheld him; "poor fellow!" But the poor fellow began huzzaing lustily for the victory achieved; and followed his exulting and even vociferous huzzas by a corresponding exclamation addressed to his major: "Well, major, if they have broken my legs, my hands and my heart are still whole."

Sergeant Thomas was terribly wounded, but the kind-hearted major did not neglect him. The best care was taken of him; ultimately, he recovered; and, nothing deterred by the painful experience he had had of the sometimes ill-fortune of war, he entered on board the Hyder Ali, commanded by Captain Barney.

It is ever delightful to record instances of high-minded and magnanimous conduct on the part of victors towards the vanquished. This engagement furnishes one most honorable to the American character. The officers and crew of the Savage were treated with the greatest kindness and attention. Major McLane even accompanied Captain Sterling into Pennsylvania, to secure him from insult, his treatment of American prisoners having rendered him highly obnoxious to the patriots.

Such is a brief account of some of the exploits of the American marine during the war of the Revolution. There were others perhaps equally honorable to the skill and enterprise of our naval officers, but which our limits forbid us to notice. On the breaking out of the war, the country was poorly prepared to enter the lists with the mistress of the ocean. Indeed, it was not until 1776, that[Pg 487] the forbearing policy of congress was abandoned, and the nautical enterprise of the country was let loose upon British commerce. From that time, however, American valor was exhibited in its true and persevering spirit, and contributed, as far as it had scope, in inducing the mother-country to acknowledge the independence of her wayward child—which she did on the 20th of January, 1783.

Upon this most desirable event, orders of recall were issued to all naval commanders; and the commissions of privateers and letters of marque were annulled. On the 11th of April following, a proclamation from the proper authorities announced the cessation of hostilities. From this time, as the glad intelligence spread, the helms of our warlike ships were turned towards our home ports, leaving the merchantmen again to the peaceful possession of that element, which for years they had traversed, if at all, at the greatest hazard.

Tailpiece—Ship on her Beam-ends

[Pg 488]



George III. King of England—General Burgoyne—Sir Henry Clinton—Colonel Barre—Charles Townshend—Lord Cornwallis—William Pitt—Marquis of Bute—George Grenville—Duke of Grafton—Lord North—Colonel Tarleton—Sir Peter Parker—Sir William Meadows—Sir Guy Carlton—General Gage—Marquis of Rockingham—Edmund Burke—Kosciusko—Count Pulaski—Baron de Kalb—Baron Steuben—Count Rochambeau—Count D'Estaing.

In the preceding pages, we have had occasion to trace the causes and events of that struggle which resulted in the independence of the United States; and, in so doing, incidental mention has been made of some of the leading men of England, who figured in the cabinet, in the field, and on the ocean; with the part they acted either in favor of, or in opposition to the grand object of the colonies in their contest with the mother-country. Judging from his own early desires, the author persuades himself that he will be conferring a favor upon his readers by giving some brief sketches, in this place, of those distinguished men, and of others, who contributed to retard or accelerate the final result. Such notices of the most prominent, we proceed to give, beginning with the monarch, the great fountain of power and law, then on the throne of Great Britain.


George III. was born in 1738, and succeeded to the throne on the death of his grandfather, George II., October 25, 1760, about the time the troubles with America began. At this period, principally through the lofty spirit and political sagacity of Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, who was, and for some time had been, at the head of the administration, the affairs of the nation were in a most prosperous state. The army and navy were highly efficient, and flushed with recent conquests; the revenue flourished; commerce was increasing; the people were loyal; and,[Pg 489] perhaps, no prince had ascended the throne of his ancestors with more flattering prospects than George the Third.

Soon after ascending the throne, the king evinced a determination to procure a general peace. In this measure he differed from his great minister, Pitt, who, on that account, retired from office, October 5, 1761. Peace, however, contrary to the wishes and designs of the king could not be obtained on a just basis, and the war proceeded.

In May, 1762, Lord Bute, a particular favorite of the king, who had contrived to gain a remarkable ascendancy over him, succeeded the Duke of Newcastle, as first lord of the treasury. Preliminaries of peace between England, France, and Spain, were signed on the 3d of November, and the definite treaty followed, February 10th, 1763. The people, however, were by no means pacifically inclined, or contented with the political ascendancy of Lord Bute, whose administration was attacked with unsparing severity by several popular writers, particularly by the celebrated John Wilkes, in his periodical paper, called the North Briton. The arrest of Wilkes, and the seizure of his papers under a general warrant, issued by the secretary of state for the home department, increased the indignation and clamors of the people; Lord Bute was execrated throughout the country, and the king himself became exceedingly unpopular. The removal of the favorite, and the appointment of George Grenville to the head of the treasury, having failed to allay the national irritation, Pitt, it is asserted, was at length summoned to court, and requested to make arrangements for forming a new ministry; but he presumed, it is added, to dictate such arrogant terms, that, rather than submit to them, the king said he would place the crown on Pitt's head, and submit his own neck to the axe.

In 1764, the king suggested to Grenville the taxation of America, as a grand financial measure for relieving the mother-country from the heavy war expenses, which, it was unjustly claimed, had chiefly been incurred for the[Pg 490] security of the colonies. The minister was startled, and raised objections to the proposal, which, however, were overruled by the king, who plainly told him that, if he were afraid to adopt such a measure, others might easily be found who possessed more political courage. At length, Grenville reluctantly brought the subject before parliament; and, in spite of a violent opposition, the stamp act, so important in its consequences, was passed in the following year. The most alarming irritation prevailed among the colonists of America.

The Rockingham party, which now came into power, procured the repeal of the stamp act; but, notwithstanding this and some other popular measures of the new cabinet, it was dissolved in the summer of 1766. The Duke of Grafton succeeded Lord Rockingham, as first lord of the treasury, and Pitt (then Earl of Chatham) took office as lord privy seal. In the following year, Charles Townshend, chancellor of the exchequer, proposed the taxation of certain articles imported by the American colonists; and, early in 1768, Lord Chatham retired in deep disgust from the administration, which, during the preceding autumn, had been weakened by the succession of Lord North to Charles Townshend, as chancellor of the exchequer. Some other official changes took place; one of the most important of which, perhaps, was the appointment of Lord Hillsborough to the new colonial secretaryship.

The aspect of affairs in America grew more serious every hour: the deputies of Massachusetts declared taxation by the British parliament to be illegal; a scheme for a general congress of the different states was proposed, and an open rupture with the mother-country was evidently approaching. Blind to the consequences of their fatal policy, the king and his ministers, however, persisted in those measures, with regard to the trans-Atlantic colonies, which eventually produced a dismemberment of the empire.

In January, 1770, the Duke of Grafton resigned all his employments; but, unfortunately for America, he was succeeded[Pg 491] by Lord North, who increased rather than alleviated the national calamities, and was decidedly with the king in his determination never to yield to the demands of the colonists, but to coerce them to submission, however unjustly, by the arm of power.

In 1782, Lord North was compelled to resign, and the Rockingham party, friendly to the independence of America, came into office; but the new administration soon afterwards broke up, on account of the sudden death of the premier. Lord Shelburne was now placed at the head of the treasury, and Pitt, son of the great Earl of Chatham, became chancellor of the exchequer.

In 1783, a general peace was concluded, and the United States procured a formal acknowledgment of their independence. When Adams, the first American envoy, attended at the levee, the king, to whom he was personally disagreeable, received him with dignified composure, and said, "I was the last man in England to acknowledge the independence of America, but having done so, I shall also be the last to violate it." This was highly honorable to the king. America was a jewel in the British crown which was increasing in lustre, to part with which was truly painful to royal ambition. Nor did George III. consent to any acts which tended to this relinquishment, only as he was compelled to it by the ill success of his armies in America, and the clamorous demands for peace by his subjects at home. But having, at length, parted with this jewel, and having acknowledged the independence of America, he nobly declared his intention to live in peace with this newborn empire.


General Burgoyne was the natural son of Lord Bingley. At an early age he entered the army; and while quartered with his regiment at Preston, married Lady Charlotte Stanley, whose father, the Earl of Derby, was so incensed at the match, that he threatened utterly to discard her; but a[Pg 492] reconciliation at length took place, and the earl allowed her three hundred pounds a-year during his life, and, by his will, bequeathed her a legacy of twenty-five thousand pounds. The influence of the family to which Burgoyne had thus become allied, tended materially to accelerate his professional advance. In 1762, he acted as brigadier-general of the British forces which were sent out for the defence of Portugal against France and Spain.

In 1775, he was appointed to a command in America; whence he returned in the following year, and held a long conference with the king on colonial affairs. Resuming his post in 1777, he addressed a proclamation to the native Indians, in which he invited them to his standard, but deprecated, with due severity, the cruel practice of scalping. The pompous turgidity of style, in which this address was couched, excited the ridicule of the Americans, and procured for General Burgoyne the soubriquet of "Chrononhotonthologos." His first operations were successful: he dislodged the enemy from Ticonderoga and Mount Independence, and took a large number of cannon, all their armed vessels and batteries, as well as a considerable part of their baggage, ammunition, provisions, and military stores. But his subsequent career was truly disastrous; his troops suffered much from bad roads, inclement weather, and a scarcity of provisions; the Indians, who had previously assisted him, deserted; and the Americans, under General Gates, surrounded him with a superior force, to which, although victorious in two engagements, he was, at length, compelled to capitulate at Saratoga, with the whole of his army. This event, which rendered him equally odious to ministers and the people, was, for some time, the leading topic of the press; and numberless lampoons appeared, in which the general's conduct was most severely satirized. The punsters of the day, taking advantage of the American general's name, amused themselves unmercifully at Burgoyne's expense; but of all their effusions, which, for the most part, were virulent rather than pointed, the following[Pg 493] harmless epigram, poor as it is, appears to have been one of the best:

"Burgoyne, unconscious of impending fates,
Could cut his way through woods, but not through Gates."

In May, 1778, he returned to England, on his parole, but the king refused to see him. Burgoyne solicited a court-martial, but in vain. In 1779, he was dismissed the service for refusing to return to America. Three years after, however, he was restored to his rank in the army, appointed commander-in-chief in Ireland, and sworn in one of the privy-council of that kingdom. He died suddenly of a fit of the gout, at his house in Hertford street, on the 4th of August, 1792; and his remains were interred in the cloisters of Westminster abbey.

It would, perhaps, be rash to pronounce a positive opinion of the merits of Burgoyne, as a commander. He boldly courted a scrutiny into the causes which led to his surrender at Saratoga, which ministers refused, because, as it has been insinuated, such a proceeding might expose the absurd imprudence and inefficiency of their own measures with regard to the American war. Prior to the capitulation, his military career, as well in America as Portugal, had been rather brilliant; his misfortune was precisely that which befel Cornwallis; but, unlike the latter, Burgoyne was not allowed an opportunity of redeeming his reputation.

In parliament, he was a frequent and fluent, but neither a sound nor an impressive speaker. While in employment, he appears to have been a staunch advocate for the American war; which, however, he severely reprobated, from the time that he ceased to hold a command. He was a writer, chiefly dramatic, of considerable merit.


This distinguished general was a grandson of the Earl of Clinton, and was born about the year 1738. After having received a liberal education, he entered the army, and served for some time in Hanover. In the early part of[Pg 494] the revolutionary struggle he came to America, and was present at the battle of Bunker's hill; from which time to the close of the American war, he continued to aid the British cause. In 1777, he was made a Knight of the Bath, and in January, 1778, commander-in-chief of the British forces in America. On his return to England, a pamphlet war took place between him and Cornwallis, as to the surrender of the latter, the entire blame of which each party attributed to the other. In 1793, he obtained the governorship of Gibraltar, in possession of which he died on the 23d of December, 1795.

Sir Henry Clinton.

Sir Henry Clinton.

The merits of Sir Henry Clinton, as a commander, have been variously estimated; and, as is usually the case, the truth seems to be intermediate between the panegyric of his friends and the censure of his enemies. That he was endowed with bravery, and possessed a considerable share of military skill, cannot, in fairness, be denied; but he was decidedly unequal to the great difficulties of his situation[Pg 495] and unfit to contend against so lofty a genius as Washington, supported by a people resolved on obtaining their independence, and fighting on their native soil.


Colonel Barre.

Colonel Barre.

Colonel Barre was born in Ireland, about the year 1726. He served at Quebec, under Wolfe, in the picture of whose death, by Benjamin West, his figure is conspicuous. The Earl of Shelburne procured him a seat in parliament, where, acting in opposition to government, he was not only deprived of his offices of adjutant-general and governor of Stirling castle, which he had received as a reward for his services in America, but dismissed from the service. During the Rockingham administration, he was compensated for the loss which he had sustained, by being voted a pension of three thousand two hundred pounds per annum; which he subsequently relinquished, pursuant to an arrangement with Pitt, on obtaining a lucrative, but not distinguished office. He usually took office when his party[Pg 496] predominated; and was, in the course of his career, a privy counsellor, vice treasurer of Ireland, paymaster of the forces, and treasurer of the navy. His best speeches were delivered during North's administration, on the American war, to which he appears to have been inflexibly opposed. His oratory was powerful, but coarse; his manner, rugged; his countenance, stern; and his stature, athletic. He was suspected, but apparently without reason, of having assisted in writing the letters of Junius. For the last twenty years of his life, he was afflicted with blindness, which, however, he is said to have borne with cheerful resignation. His death took place on the 20th of July, 1792.


Charles Townshend, son of Viscount Townshend, was born 1725. From his youth, he was distinguished for great quickness of conception and extraordinary curiosity. In 1747, he went into parliament, and continued a member till he died. He held various offices in the government. In 1765, he was paymaster general, and chancellor of the exchequer; and a lord of the treasury in August, 1766, from which period he remained in office until his decease, which took place on the 4th of September, 1767.

In person, Charles Townshend was tall and beautifully proportioned; his countenance was manly, handsome, expressive, and prepossessing. He was much beloved in private life, and enjoyed an unusual share of domestic happiness.

Burke, in his speech on American taxation, thus admirably depicted the general character of Charles Townshend: "Before this splendid orb (alluding to the great Lord Chatham) had entirely set, and while the western horizon was in a blaze with his descending glory, on the opposite quarter of the heavens arose another luminary, and for his hour he became lord of the ascendant. This light, too, is passed, and set for ever! I speak of Charles Townshend, officially the rëproducer of this fatal scheme (American[Pg 497] taxation); whom I cannot even now remember, without some degree of sensibility. In truth, he was the delight and ornament of this house, and the charm of every private society which he honored with his presence. Perhaps there never arose in this country, nor in any country, a man of more pointed and finished wit, and (where his passions were not concerned) of a more refined, exquisite, and penetrating judgment. If he had not so great a stock, as some have had who flourished formerly, of knowledge long treasured up, he knew better by far, than any man I ever was acquainted with, how to bring together, within a short time, all that was necessary to establish, to illustrate, and to decorate that side of the question he supported. He stated his matter skillfully and powerfully; he particularly excelled in a most luminous explanation and display of his subject."


Lord Cornwallis, eldest son of the fifth lord, and first Earl Cornwallis, was born 1738. At the age of twenty, he entered the army, and obtained a captaincy. In 1762, on the death of his brother, he took his seat in the house of lords. In 1770, he and three other young peers, having protested, with Lord Camden, against the taxation of America, Mansfield, the chief justice, is said to have sneeringly observed, "Poor Camden could only get four boys to join him!"

Although he had opposed the measures of the government with regard to the disaffected colonies, yet when hostilities commenced, he did not scruple to accept of active employment against the Americans. His history, during the war, will be found in the preceding pages. He was a proud man, and most humiliating was it when he was obliged to surrender to Washington at Yorktown.

But his failure in America did not impair his reputation. On his return to England, he was made governor of the Tower. In 1786, he was sent to Calcutta, as governor-general[Pg 498] and commander-in-chief. Having terminated, successfully, a war in that country, he returned to England. In 1799, he became lord-lieutenant of Ireland. Soon after the expiration of his vice-regency, he was sent to France as plenipotentiary for Great Britain, in which capacity he signed the treaty of Amiens. In 1804, he succeeded the Marquis Wellesley, as governor-general of India. On his arrival at Calcutta, he proceeded, by water, to take the command in the upper provinces. The confinement of the boat, the want of exercise, and the heat of the weather, had a most serious effect on his health. Feeling, soon after he had landed, that his dissolution was at hand, he prepared some valuable instructions for his successor; and the last hours of his life were passed in taking measures to lessen the difficulties which his decease would produce. He expired at Ghazepoore, in Benares, on the 5th of October, 1805.

Lord Cornwallis was not endowed with any brilliancy of talent. He had to contend with no difficulties, on his entrance into life: high birth procured him a military station, which his connexions enabled him to retain, after he had committed an error, or, at least, met with a mischance, that would have utterly ruined a less influential commander. Although ambitious, he appears to have possessed but little ardor. He manifested no extraordinary spirit of enterprise; he hazarded no untried manœuvres; and yet, few of his contemporaries passed through life with more personal credit or public advantage. He had the wisdom never to depute to others what he could perform himself. His perseverance, alacrity, and caution, procured him success as a general, while his strong common sense rendered him eminent as a governor. He always evinced a most anxious desire to promote the welfare of those who were placed under his administration; Ireland and Hindostan still venerate his memory. His honor was unimpeachable; his manners, devoid of ostentation; and his private character, altogether amiable.

[Pg 499]

Napoleon Buonaparte, in his conversations with Barry O'Meara, declared that Lord Cornwallis, by his integrity, fidelity, frankness, and the nobility of his sentiments, was the first who had impressed upon him a favorable opinion of Englishmen. "I do not believe," said the ex-emperor, "that he was a man of first-rate abilities; but he had talent, great probity, sincerity, and never broke his word. Something having prevented him from attending at the Hôtel de Dieu, to sign the treaty of Amiens, pursuant to appointment, he sent word to the French ministers that they might consider it completed, and that he would certainly execute it the next morning. During the night, he received instructions to object to some of the articles; disregarding which, he signed the treaty as it stood, observing that his government, if dissatisfied, might refuse to ratify it, but that, having once pledged his word, he felt bound to abide by it. There was a man of honor!" added Napoleon; "a true Englishman."


William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, was born November 15, 1708. His father was Robert Pitt, of Boconnock, in the county of Cornwall. He received his education at Trinity college, Cambridge. He took a seat in parliament as early as 1735, as a member for Old Sarum. His exalted talents, his lofty spirit, and commanding eloquence, soon rendered him singularly conspicuous. Under George II., in 1757, he became premier of that celebrated war administration, which raised England to a proud prëeminence over the other nations of Europe. His energy was unbounded. "It must be done," was the reply he often made, when told that his orders could not be executed. After which, no excuse was admitted. Under his auspices, England triumphed in every quarter of the globe. In America, the French lost Quebec; in Africa, their chief settlements fell; in the East Indies, their power was abridged; in Europe, their armies suffered defeat; while their navy[Pg 500] was nearly annihilated, and their commerce almost reduced to ruin.

On the accession of George the Third, Pitt, who felt strongly impressed with the policy of declaring war against Spain, was thwarted in his wishes by the influence of Lord Bute; and, disdaining to be nominally at the head of a cabinet which he could not direct, he resigned his office in October, 1761.

Lord Chatham.

Lord Chatham.

In 1764, he greatly distinguished himself by his opposition to general warrants, which, with all his accustomed energy and eloquence, he stigmatized as being atrociously illegal. A search for papers, or a seizure of the person, without some specific charge, was, he contended, repugnant to every principle of true liberty. "By the British constitution," said he, "every man's house is his castle! not that it is surrounded by walls and battlements; it may be a straw-built shed; every wind of heaven may whistle round it; all the elements of nature may enter it; but the king cannot; the king dare not."

[Pg 501]

He invariably opposed, with the whole force of his eloquence, the measures which led to the American war: and long after his retirement from office, he exerted himself most zealously to bring about a reconciliation between the mother-country and her colonies; But when the Duke of Portland, in 1778, moved an address to the crown, on the necessity of acknowledging the independence of America, Lord Chatham, although he had but just left a sick bed, opposed the motion with all the ardent eloquence of his younger days. "My lords," said he, "I lament that my infirmities have so long prevented my attendance here, at so awful a crisis. I have made an effort almost beyond my strength to come down to the house on this day, (and perhaps it will be the last time I shall be able to enter its walls,) to express my indignation at an idea which has gone forth of yielding up America. My lords: I rejoice that the grave has not yet closed upon me; that I am still alive to lift up my voice against the dismemberment of this ancient and most noble monarchy. Pressed down, as I am, by the hand of infirmity, I am little able to assist my country in this most perilous conjuncture; but, my lords, while I have sense and memory, I will never consent to deprive the royal offspring of the house of Brunswick of their fairest inheritance."

The Duke of Richmond having replied to this speech, Lord Chatham attempted to rise again, but fainted, and fell into the arms of those who were near him. The house instantly adjourned, and the earl was conveyed home in a state of exhaustion, from which he never recovered. His death took place at Hayes, early in the following month, namely, on the 11th of May, 1778. The House of Commons voted the departed patriot, who had thus died gloriously at his post, a public funeral, and a monument in Westminster abbey at the national expense. An income of four thousand pounds per annum was annexed to the earldom of Chatham, and the sum of twenty thousand pounds cheerfully granted to liquidate his debts: for, instead of[Pg 502] profiting by his public employments, he had wasted his property in sustaining their dignity, and died in embarrassed circumstances.

In figure, Lord Chatham was eminently dignified and commanding. "There was a grandeur in his personal appearance," says a writer, who speaks of him when in his decline, "which produced awe and mute attention; and, though bowed by infirmity and age, his mind shone through the ruins of his body, armed his eye with lightning, and clothed his lips with thunder." Bodily pain never subdued the lofty daring, or the extraordinary activity of his mind. He even used his crutch as a figure of rhetoric. "You talk, my lords," said he, on one occasion, "of conquering America—of your numerous friends there—and your powerful forces to disperse her army. I might as well talk of driving them before me with this crutch."


Charles James Fox was the third son of Henry Fox, Lord Holland, and was born January 24th, 1749. His mother was a daughter of the Duke of Richmond, and his sister the wife of Lord Cornwallis. Lord Holland made it a rule, in the tuition of his children, to follow and regulate, but not to restrain nature. This indulgence was a sad error, as it always is on the part of parents. On arriving to maturity, Charles used to boast that he was, when young, never thwarted in any thing. Two instances are related of this indulgence of the father, before the son was six years old. One day, standing by his father, while he was winding up a watch—"I have a great mind to break that watch, papa," said the boy. "No, Charles; that would be foolish." "Indeed, papa," said he, "I must do it." "Nay," answered the father, "if you have such a violent inclination, I won't baulk it." Upon which, he delivered the watch into the hands of the youngster, who instantly dashed it on the floor.

At another time, while Lord Holland was secretary of state, having just finished a long dispatch which he was[Pg 503] going to send, Mr. Charles, who stood near him, with his hand on the inkstand, said, "Papa, I have a good mind to throw this ink over the paper." "Do, my dear," said the secretary, "if it will give you any pleasure." The young gentleman immediately threw on the ink, and his father sat down very composedly to write the dispatch over again.

Such a course of education, we should anticipate, would work the moral ruin of a child. Its baleful influence was seen in after years, in gambling, horse-racing, drinking, and kindred vices, carried to a fearful extent on the part of this son, whose training was so inauspiciously begun and persevered in.



But, despite of these most degrading and ruinous practices, Fox proved to be one of the most accomplished and effective orators, and perhaps we may add, statesman of his times. He was the rival of Pitt; and, though not so finished in his elocution, he not unfrequently equalled him in the effect produced.

By what means he attained to such eminence, it scarcely appears; for the younger part of his life seems to have been so exclusively devoted to his pleasures, as scarcely to have time left for the cultivation of his intellect. His genius, however, was brilliant; and from his earliest years he was in the society of men distinguished for their cultivated intellect, and the eminent part they took in the government[Pg 504] of the country. It is related of Fox, that he would not unfrequently spend the entire night at his favorite amusement, gambling, and thence proceed to the House of Commons, when he would electrify the whole assembly with some cogent and brilliant speech.

Fox was a firm, steadfast friend to the Americans and their independence. At the time the measures which led to the American war had come to a crisis, a formidable party existed in England, opposed to the unjust and illiberal policy of the government. To this party, Fox united himself; and, from his conspicuous talents, soon acquired the authority of a leader. In 1773, he opposed the Boston port bill, and apologized for the conduct of the colonies. In his speech on that occasion, he arraigned the measures of the ministers in bold and energetic language, and explained the principles of the constitution with masculine eloquence. The session of 1775, opened with a speech from the king, declaring the necessity of coercion. On this occasion, Fox poured forth a torrent of his powerful eloquence. In that plain, forcible language, which formed one of the many excellencies of his speeches, he showed what ought to have been done, what ministers had promised to do, and what they had not done. He affirmed that Lord Chatham, the king of Prussia—nay, even Alexander the Great—never gained more in one campaign than Lord North had lost.

When the news of the disastrous defeat of Burgoyne reached England, Fox loudly insisted upon an inquiry into the causes of his failure. And in like manner, when the fate of Cornwallis' army at Yorktown was made known, the oppositionists were loud in their denunciations of the proceedings of ministers in regard to the war. Mr. Fox designed to make a motion for an investigation into the conduct of Lord Sandwich, who was at the head of the admiralty. But he was, for a time, too much indisposed to make the attempt. It was on this occasion, that Burke is reported to have said, "that if Fox died, it would be no bad use of his skin, if, like John Ziska's, it should be converted[Pg 505] into a drum, and used for the purpose of sounding an alarm to the people of England."

The death of Mr. Fox occurred 13th of August, 1806.

Walpole thus compares the two great orators of England: "Mr. Fox, as a speaker, might be compared to the rough, but masterly specimen of the sculptor's art; Mr. Pitt, to the exquisitely finished statue. The former would need a polish to render him perfect; the latter possessed, in a transcendent degree, every requisite of an accomplished orator. The force of Mr. Fox's reasoning flashed like lightning upon the mind of the hearer: the thunder of Mr. Pitt's eloquence gave irresistible effect to his powerful and convincing arguments."

The sympathy and support of such men as Fox, during our Revolutionary struggle, served to sustain and animate our patriotic fathers. They felt that while they were in the field, engaged in defeating the armies of England, they had friends in the House of Commons, who were making every possible effort to defeat the impolitic and oppressive measures of the king and his ministers.


John Stuart, Marquis of Bute, was born in 1715. In the ninth year of his age, he succeeded his father as Marquis of Bute. On the accession of George the Third, the highest dignities in the state were supposed to be within the grasp of Lord Bute; but, however he might have swayed the king's mind in private, he took no public part in the direction of public affairs until 1761, when he accepted the secretaryship resigned in that year by Lord Holderness. At length, he became prime minister; and, immediately on coming into power, determined, if possible, to effect a peace, which had for some time been negotiating. He accomplished his object, but his success rendered him exceedingly unpopular. He was accused, by some weak-minded persons, of having been bribed by the enemies of his country; and it was added, that the princess dowager had shared with him[Pg 506] in the price at which peace had been purchased by the French government.

He quitted office in April, 1763, but continued to exert a powerful influence over the mind of the king, especially in relation to America. Several measures, the object of which was to humble the colonies, and continue them in subjection to the crown, are said to have been suggested by this nobleman. He died in 1792.




George Grenville was born 1712. In 1741, he was returned to parliament for the town of Buckingham, for which place he served during the remainder of his life. He held several important offices. In April, 1763, he became first lord of the treasury and chancellor of the exchequer. He resigned his office in July, 1765, and died in November, 1770. During his premiership, the project of imposing internal taxes in America was carried into effect. The[Pg 507] project was first named to him by the king, and urged upon him. At first, the minister was opposed to the idea, but after having adopted it as a measure of his administration, which he was compelled to do by royal authority, he urged and supported it by all the means in his power.


Henry Augustus Fitzroy, Duke of Grafton, was born 1735. He was educated at Cambridge, where he was notoriously profligate. In July, 1766, the Rockingham administration was dissolved, and the Duke of Grafton was made first lord commissioner of the treasury, which office he held until January, 1770. He has received an unenviable notoriety from the strictures of Junius. His administration was composed of men of different political principles and parties. Junius, in a letter addressed to the duke, thus narrates, and severely animadverts upon, the circumstances of his grace's appointment to the premiership: "The spirit of the favorite (Lord Bute) had some apparent influence upon every administration; and every set of ministers preserved an appearance of duration as long as they submitted to that influence; but there were certain services to be performed for the favorite's security, or to gratify his resentments, which your predecessors in office had the wisdom, or the virtue, not to undertake. A submissive administration was, at last, gradually collected from the deserters of all parties, interests, and connexions; and nothing remained but to find a leader for these gallant, well-disciplined troops. Stand forth, my lord, for thou art the man! Lord Bute found no resource of dependence or security in the proud, imposing superiority of Lord Chatham's abilities; the shrewd, inflexible judgment of Mr. Grenville; nor in the mild, but determined integrity of Lord Rockingham. His views and situation required a creature void of all these properties; and he was forced to go through all his division, resolution, composition, and refinement of political chemistry, before he happily arrived at the caput mortuum of vitriol in your grace. Flat[Pg 508] and insipid in your retired state, but brought into action, you become vitriol again. Such are the extremes of alternate indolence or fury, which have governed your whole administration!"


This nobleman, better known as Lord North, was the minister of George III., under whose administration England lost her American colonies. He succeeded Charles Townshend, as chancellor of the exchequer; and, in 1770, the Duke