Project Gutenberg's Historic Tales, Vol. 1 (of 15), by Charles Morris

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Title: Historic Tales, Vol. 1 (of 15)
       The Romance of Reality

Author: Charles Morris

Release Date: July 15, 2005 [EBook #16298]

Language: English

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Édition d'Élite

Historical Tales

The Romance of Reality



Author of "Half-Hours with the Best American Authors," "Tales from the Dramatists," etc.


Volume I




Copyright, 1893, by J.B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY.
Copyright, 1904, by J.B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY.
Copyright, 1908, by J.B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY.




It has become a commonplace remark that fact is often stranger than fiction. It may be said, as a variant of this, that history is often more romantic than romance. The pages of the record of man's doings are frequently illustrated by entertaining and striking incidents, relief points in the dull monotony of every-day events, stories fitted to rouse the reader from languid weariness and stir anew in his veins the pulse of interest in human life. There are many such,—dramas on the stage of history, life scenes that are pictures in action, tales pathetic, stirring, enlivening, full of the element of the unusual, of the stuff the novel and the romance are made of, yet with the advantage of being actual fact. Incidents of this kind have proved as attractive to writers as to readers. They have dwelt upon them lovingly, embellished them with the charms of rhetoric and occasionally with the inventions of fancy, until what began as fact has often entered far into the domains of legend and fiction. It may well be that some of the narratives in the present work have gone through this process. If so, it is simply indicative of the interest they have awakened in generations of readers and writers. But the bulk of them are fact, so far as history in general can be called fact, it having been our design to cull from the annals of the nations some of their more stirring and romantic incidents, and present them as a gallery of pictures that might serve to adorn the entrance to the temple of history, of which this work is offered as in some sense an illuminated ante-chamber. As such, it is hoped that some pilgrims from the world of readers may find it a pleasant halting-place on their way into the far-extending aisles of the great temple beyond.




The year 1000 A.D. was one of strange history. Its advent threw the people of Europe into a state of mortal terror. Ten centuries had passed since the birth of Christ. The world was about to come to an end. Such was the general belief. How it was to reach its end,—whether by fire, water, or some other agent of ruin,—the prophets of disaster did not say, nor did people trouble themselves to learn. Destruction was coming upon them, that was enough to know; how to provide against it was the one thing to be considered.

Some hastened to the churches; others to the taverns. Here prayers went up; there wine went down. The petitions of the pious were matched by the ribaldry of the profligate. Some made their wills; others wasted their wealth in revelry, eager to get all the pleasure out of life that remained for them. Many freely gave away their property, hoping, by ridding themselves of the goods of this earth, to establish a claim to the goods of Heaven, with little regard to the fate of those whom they loaded with their discarded wealth.

It was an era of ignorance and superstition. Christendom went insane over an idea. When the year ended, and the world rolled on, none the worse for conflagration or deluge, green with the spring leafage and ripe with the works of man, dismay gave way to hope, mirth took the place of prayer, man regained their flown wits, and those who had so recklessly given away their wealth bethought themselves of taking legal measures for its recovery.

Such was one of the events that made that year memorable. There was another of a highly different character. Instead of a world being lost, a world was found. The Old World not only remained unharmed, but a New World was added to it, a world beyond the seas, for this was the year in which the foot of the European was first set upon the shores of the trans-Atlantic continent. It is the story of this first discovery of America that we have now to tell.

In the autumn of the year 1000, in a region far away from fear-haunted Europe, a scene was being enacted of a very different character from that just described. Over the waters of unknown seas a small, strange craft boldly made its way, manned by a crew of the hardiest and most vigorous men, driven by a single square sail, whose coarse woollen texture bellied deeply before the fierce ocean winds, which seemed at times as if they would drive that deckless vessel bodily beneath the waves.

This crew was of men to whom fear was almost unknown, the stalwart Vikings of the North, whose oar-and sail-driven barks now set out from the coasts of Norway and Denmark to ravage the shores of southern Europe, now turned their prows boldly to the west in search of unknown lands afar.

Shall we describe this craft? It was a tiny one in which to venture upon an untravelled ocean in search of an unknown continent,—a vessel shaped somewhat like a strung bow, scarcely fifty feet in length, low amidships and curving upwards to high peaks at stem and stern, both of which converged to sharp edges. It resembled an enormous canoe rather than aught else to which we can compare it. On the stem was a carved and gilt dragon, the figurehead of the ship, which glittered in the bright rays of the sun. Along the bulwarks of the ship, fore and aft, hung rows of large painted wooden shields, which gave an Argus-eyed aspect to the craft. Between them was a double row of thole-pins for the great oars, which now lay at rest in the bottom of the boat, but by which, in calm weather, this "walker of the seas" could be forced swiftly through the yielding element.



Near the stern, on an elevated platform, stood the commander, a man of large and powerful frame and imposing aspect, one whose commands not the fiercest of his crew would lightly venture to disobey. A coat of ring-mail encircled his stalwart frame; by his side, in a richly-embossed scabbard, hung a long sword, with hilt of gilded bronze; on his head was a helmet that shone like pure gold, shaped like a wolf's head, with gaping jaws and threatening teeth. Land was in sight, an unknown coast, peopled perhaps by warlike men. The cautious Viking leader deemed it wise to be prepared for danger, and was armed for possible combat.

Below him, on the rowing-benches, sat his hardy crew, their arms—spears, axes, bows, and slings—beside them, ready for any deed of daring they might be called upon to perform. Their dress consisted of trousers of coarse stuff, belted at the waist; thick woollen shirts, blue, red, or brown in color; iron helmets, beneath which their long hair streamed down to their shoulders; and a shoulder belt descending to the waist and supporting their leather-covered sword-scabbards. Heavy whiskers and moustaches added to the fierceness of their stern faces, and many of them wore as ornament on the forehead a band of gold.

They numbered thirty-five in all, this crew who had set out to brave the terrors and solve the mysteries of the great Atlantic. Their leader, Leif by name, was the son of Eirek the Red, the discoverer of Greenland, and a Viking as fierce as ever breathed the air of the north land. Outlawed in Norway, where in hot blood he had killed more men than the law could condone, Eirek had made his way to Iceland. Here his fierce temper led him again to murder, and flight once more became necessary. Manning a ship, he set sail boldly to the west, and in the year 982 reached a land on which the eye of European had never before gazed. To this he gave the name of Greenland, with the hope, perhaps, that this inviting name would induce others to follow him.

Such proved to be the case. Eirek returned to Iceland, told the story of his discovery, and in 985 set sail again for his new realm with twenty-five ships and many colonists. Others came afterwards, among them one Biarni, a bold and enterprising youth, for whom a great adventure was reserved. Enveloped in fogs, and driven for days from its course by northeasterly winds, his vessel was forced far to the south. When at length the fog cleared away, the distressed mariners saw land before them, a low, level, thickly-wooded region, very different from the ice-covered realm they had been led to expect.

"Is this the land of which we are in search?" asked the sailors.

"No," answered Biarni; "for I am told that we may look for very large glaciers in Greenland.

"At any rate, let us land and rest."

"Not so; my father has gone with Eirek. I shall not rest till I see him again."

And now the winds blew northward, and for seven days they scudded before a furious gale, passing on their way a mountainous, ice-covered island, and in the end, by great good fortune, Biarni's vessel put into the very port where his father had fixed his abode.

Biarni had seen, but had not set foot upon, the shores of the New World. That was left for bolder or more enterprising mariners to perform. About 995 he went to Norway, where the story of his strange voyage caused great excitement among the adventure-loving people. Above all, it stirred up the soul of Leif, eldest son of Eirek the Red, then in Norway, who in his soul resolved to visit and explore that strange land which Biarni had only seen from afar.

Leif returned to Greenland with more than this idea in his mind. When Eirek left Norway he had left a heathen land. When Leif visited it he found it a Christian country. Or at least he found there a Christian king, Olaf Tryggvason by name, who desired his guest to embrace the new faith. Leif consented without hesitation. Heathenism did not seem very firmly fixed in the minds of those northern barbarians. He and all his sailors were baptized, and betook themselves to Greenland with this new faith as their most precious freight. In this way Christianity first made its way across the seas. And thus it further came about that the ship which we have seen set sail for southern lands.

This ship was that of Biarni. Leif had bought it, it may be with the fancy that it would prove fortunate in retracing its course. Not only Leif, but his father Eirek, now an old man, was fired with the hope of new discoveries. The aged Viking had given Greenland, to the world; it was a natural ambition to desire to add to his fame as a discoverer. But on his way to the vessel his horse stumbled. Superstitious, as all men were in that day, he looked on this as an evil omen.

"I shall not go," he said. "It is not my destiny to discover any other lands than that on which we now live. I shall follow you no farther, but end my life in Greenland." And Eirek rode back to his home.

Not so the adventurers. They boldly put out to sea, turned the prow of their craft southward, and battled with the waves day after day, their hearts full of hope, their eyes on the alert for the glint of distant lands.

At length land was discovered,—a dreary country, mountainous, icy; doubtless the inhospitable island which Biarni had described. They landed, but only to find themselves on a shore covered with bare, flat rocks, while before them loomed snow-covered heights.

"This is not the land we seek," said Leif; "but we will not do as Biarni did, who never set foot on shore. I will give this land a name, and will call it Helluland,"—a name which signifies the "land of broad stones."

Onward they sailed again, their hearts now filled with ardent expectation. At length rose again the stirring cry of "Land!" or its Norse equivalent, and as the dragon-peaked craft glided swiftly onward there rose into view a long coast-line, flat and covered with white sand in the foreground, while a dense forest spread over the rising ground in the rear.

"Markland [land of forest] let it be called," cried Leif. "This must be the land which Biarni first saw. We will not be like him, but will set foot on its promising shores."

They landed, but tarried not long. Soon they took ship again, and sailed for two days out of sight of land. Then there came into view an island, with a broad channel between it and the mainland. Up this channel they laid their course, and soon came to where a river poured its clear waters into the sea. They decided to explore this stream. The boat was lowered and the ship towed up the river, until, at a short distance inland, it broadened into a lake. Here, at Leif's command, the anchor was cast, and their good ship, the pioneer in American discovery, came to rest within the inland waters of the New World.

Not many minutes passed before the hardy mariners were on shore, and eagerly observing the conditions of their new-discovered realm. River and lake alike were full of salmon, the largest they had ever seen, a fact which agreeably settled the question of food. The climate seemed deliciously mild, as compared with the icy shores to which they were used. The grass was but little withered by frost, and promised a winter supply of food for cattle. Altogether they were so pleased with their surroundings that Leif determined to spend the winter at that place, exploring the land so far as he could.

For some time they dwelt under booths, passing the nights in their leather sleeping-bags; but wood was abundant, axes and hands skilful to wield them were at hand, and they quickly went to work to build themselves habitations more suitable for the coming season of cold.

No inhabitants of the land were seen. So far as yet appeared, it might be a region on which human foot had never before been set. But Leif was a cautious leader. He bade his men not to separate until the houses were finished. Then he divided them into two parties, left one to guard their homes and their ship, and sent the other inland to explore.

"Beware, though," he said, "that you risk not too much. We know not what perils surround us. Go not so far inland but that you can get back by evening, and take care not to separate."

Day after day these explorations continued, the men plunging into the forest that surrounded them and wandering far into its hidden recesses, each evening bringing back with them some story of the marvels of this new land, or some sample of its productions strange to their eyes.

An evening came in which one of the explorers failed to return. He had either disobeyed the injunctions of Leif and gone too far to get back by evening, or some peril of that unknown land had befallen him. This man was of German birth, Tyrker by name, a southerner who had for years dwelt with Eirek and been made the foster-father of Leif, who had been fond of him since childhood. He was a little, wretched-looking fellow, with protruding forehead, unsteady eyes, and tiny face, yet a man skilled in all manner of handicraft.

Leif, on learning of his absence, upbraided the men bitterly for losing him, and called on twelve of them to follow him in search. Into the forest they went, and before long had the good fortune to behold Tyrker returning. The little fellow, far from showing signs of disaster, was in the highest of spirits, his face radiant with joy.

"How now, foster-father!" cried Leif. "Why are you so late? and why have you parted from the others?"

Tyrker was too excited to answer. He rolled his eyes wildly and made wry faces. When words came to him, he spoke in his native German, which none of them understood. Joy seemed to have driven all memory of the language of the north from his mind. It was plain that no harm had come to him. On the contrary, he seemed to have stumbled upon some landfall of good luck. Yet some time passed before they could bring him out of his ecstasy into reason.

"I did not go much farther than you," he at length called out, in their own tongue "and if I am late I have a good excuse. I can tell you news."

"What are they?"

"I have made a grand discovery. See, I have found vines and grapes," and he showed them his hands filled with the purple fruit. "I was born in a land where grapes grow in plenty. And this land bears them! Behold what I bring you!"

The memory of his childhood had driven for the time all memory of the Norse language from his brain. Grapes he had not seen for many years, and the sight of them made him a child again. The others beheld the prize with little less joy. They slept where they were that night, and in the morning followed Tyrker to the scene of his discovery, where he gladly pointed to the arbor-like vines, laden thickly with wild grapes, a fruit delicious to their unaccustomed palates.

"This is a glorious find," cried Leif. "We must take some of this splendid fruit north. There are two kinds of work now to be done. One day you shall gather grapes the next you shall cut timber to freight the ship. We must show our friends north what a country we have found. As for this land, I have a new name for it. Let it be called Vineland, the land of grapes and wine."

After this discovery there is little of interest to record. The winter, which proved to be a very mild one, passed away, and in the spring they set sail again for Greenland, their ship laden deeply with timber, so useful a treasure in their treeless northern home, while the long-boat was filled to the gunwale with the grapes they had gathered and dried.

Such is the story of the first discovery of America, as told in the sagas of the North. Leif the Lucky was the name given the discoverer from that time forward. He made no more visits to Vineland, for during the next winter his father died, and he became the governing head of the Greenland settlements.

But the adventurous Northmen were not the men to rest at ease with an untrodden continent so near at hand. Thorvald, Leif's brother, one of the boldest of his race, determined to see for himself the wonders of Vineland. In the spring of 1002 he set sail with thirty companions, in the pioneer ship of American discovery, the same vessel which Biarni and Leif had made famous in that service. Unluckily the records fail to give us the name of this notable ship.

Steering southward, they reached in due time the lake on whose shores Leif and his crew had passed the winter. The buildings stood unharmed, and the new crew passed a winter here, most of their time being spent in catching and drying the delicious salmon which thronged river and lake. In the spring they set sail again, and explored the coast for a long distance to the south. How far they went we cannot tell, for all we know of their voyage is that nearly everywhere they found white sandy shores and a background of unbroken forest. Like Leif, they saw no men.

Back they came to Vineland, and there passed the winter again. Another spring came in the tender green of the young leafage, and again they put to sea. So far fortune had steadily befriended them. Now the reign of misfortune began. Not far had they gone before the vessel was driven ashore by a storm, and broke her keel on a protruding shoal. This was not a serious disaster. A new keel was made, and the old one planted upright in the sands of the coast.

"We will call this place Kial-ar-ness" [Keel Cape], said Thorvald.

On they sailed again, and came to a country of such attractive aspect that Thorvald looked upon it with longing eyes.

"This is a fine country, and here I should like to build myself a home," he said, little deeming in what gruesome manner his words were to be fulfilled.

For now, for the first time in the story of these voyages, are we told of the natives of the land,—the Skroelings, as the Norsemen called them. Passing the cape which Thorvald had chosen for his home, the mariners landed to explore the shore, and on their way back to the ship saw, on the white sands, three significant marks. They were like those made by a boat when driven ashore. Continuing their observation, they quickly perceived, drawn well up on the shore, three skin-canoes turned keel upward. Dividing into three parties, they righted these boats, and to their surprise saw that under each three men lay concealed.

The blood-loving instinct of the Norsemen was never at fault in a case like this. Drawing their swords, they assailed the hidden men, and of the nine only one escaped, the other being stretched in death upon the beach.

The mariners had made a fatal mistake. To kill none, unless they could kill all, should have been their rule, a lesson in practical wisdom which they were soon to learn. But, heedless of danger and with the confidence of strength and courage, they threw themselves upon the sands, and, being weary and drowsy, were quickly lost in slumber.

And now came a marvel. A voice, none knew whence or of whom, called loudly in their slumbering ears,—

"Wake, Thorvaldt! Wake all your men, if you would save your life and theirs! Haste to your ship and fly from land with all speed, for vengeance and death confront you."

Suddenly aroused, they sprang to their feet, looking at each other with astounded eyes, and asking who had spoken those words. Little time for answer remained. The woods behind them suddenly seemed alive with fierce natives, who had been roused to vengeful fury by the flying fugitive, and now came on with hostile cries. The Norsemen sprang to their boats and rowed in all haste to the ship; but before they could make sail the surface of the bay swarmed with skin-boats, and showers of arrows were poured upon them.

The warlike mariners in turn assailed their foes with arrows, slings, and javelins, slaying so many of them that the remainder were quickly put to flight. But they fled not unrevenged. A keen-pointed arrow, flying between the ship's side and the edge of his shield, struck Thorvald in the armpit, wounding him so deeply that death threatened to follow the withdrawal of the fatal dart.

"My day is come," said the dying chief. "Return home to Greenland as quickly as you may. But as for me, you shall carry me to the place which I said would be so pleasant to dwell in. Doubtless truth came out of my mouth, for it may be that I shall live there for awhile. There you shall bury me and put crosses at my head and feet, and henceforward that place shall be called Krossanes" [Cross Cape].

The sorrowing sailors carried out the wishes of their dying chief, who lived but long enough to fix his eyes once more on the place which he had chosen for his home, and then closed them in the sleep of death. They buried him here, placing the crosses at his head and feet as he had bidden, and then set sail again for the booths of Leif at Vineland, where part of their company had been left to gather grapes in their absence. To these they told the story of what had happened, and agreed with them that the winter should be spent in that place, and that in the spring they should obey Thorvald's request and set sail for Greenland. This they did, taking on board their ship vines and an abundance of dried grapes. Ere the year was old their good ship again reached Eireksfjord, where Leif was told of the death of his brother and of all that had happened to the voyagers.

The remaining story of the discoveries of the Northmen must be told in a few words. The next to set sail for that far-off land was Thorstein, the third son of Eirek the Red. He failed to get there, however, but made land on the east coast of Greenland, where he died, while his wife Gudrid returned home. Much was this woman noted for her beauty, and as much for her wisdom and prudence, so the sagas tell us.

In 1006 came to Greenland a noble Icelander, Thorfinn by name. That winter he married Gudrid, and so allied himself to the family of Eirek the Red. And quickly he took up the business of discovery, which had been pursued so ardently by Eirek and his sons. He sailed in 1007, with three ships, for Vineland, where he remained three years, having many adventures with the natives, now trading with them for furs, now fighting with them for life. In Vineland was born a son to Thorfinn and Gudrid, the first white child born in America. From him—Snorri Thorfinnson he was named—came a long line of illustrious descendants, many of whom made their mark in the history of Iceland and Denmark, the line ending in modern times in the famous Thorwaldsen, the greatest sculptor of the nineteenth century.

The sagas thus picture for us the natives: "Swarthy they were in complexion, short and savage in aspect, with ugly hair, great eyes, and broad cheeks." In a battle between the adventurers and these savages the warlike blood of Eirek manifested itself in a woman of his race. For Freydis, his daughter, when pursued and likely to be captured by the natives, snatched up a sword which had been dropped by a slain Greenlander, and faced them so valiantly that they took to their heels in affright and fled precipitately to their canoes.

One more story, and we are done. In the spring of 1010 Thorfinn sailed north with the two ships which he still had. One of them reached Greenland in safety. The other, commanded by Biarni Grimolfson, was driven from its course, and, being worm-eaten, threatened to sink.

There was but one boat, and this capable of holding but half the ship's company. Lots were cast to decide who should go in the boat, and who stay on the sinking ship. Biarni was of those to whom fortune proved kindly. But he was a man of noble strain, fit for deeds of heroic fortitude and self-sacrifice. There was on board the ship a young Icelander, who had been put under Biarni's protection, and who lamented bitterly his approaching fate.

"Come down into the boat," called out the noble-hearted Viking. "I will take your place in the ship; for I see that you are fond of life."

So the devoted chieftain mounted again into the ship, and the youth, selfish with fear, took his place in the boat. The end was as they had foreseen. The boat reached land, where the men told their story. The worm-eaten ship must have gone down in the waves, for Biarni and his comrades were never heard of again. Thus perished one of the world's heroes.

Little remains to be told, for all besides is fragment and conjecture. It is true that in the year 1011 Freydis and her husband voyaged again to Vineland, though they made no new discoveries; and it is probable that in the following centuries other journeys were made to the same land. But as time passed on Greenland grew colder; its icy harvest descended farther and farther upon its shores; in the end its colonies disappeared, and with them ended all intercourse with the grape-laden shores of Vineland.

Just where lay this land of the vine no one to-day can tell. Some would place it as far north as Labrador; some seek to bring it even south of New England; the Runic records simply tell us of a land of capes, islands, rivers, and vines. It is to the latter, and to the story of far-reaching forest-land, and pasturage lasting the winter through, that we owe the general belief that the Vikings reached New England's fertile shores, and that the ship of Biarni and Leif, with its war-loving crews, preceded by six centuries the Mayflower, with its peaceful and pious souls.


Hardly had it been learned that Columbus was mistaken in his belief, and that the shores he had discovered were not those of India and Cathay, when vigorous efforts began to find some easy route to the rich lands of the Orient. Balboa, in 1513, crossed the continent at its narrow neck, and gazed, with astounded eyes, upon the mighty ocean that lay beyond,—the world's greatest sea. Magellan, in 1520, sailed round the continent at its southern extremity, and turned his daring prows into that world of waters of seemingly illimitable width. But the route thus laid out was far too long for the feeble commerce of that early day, and various efforts were made to pass the line of the continent at some northern point. The great rivers of North America, the James, the Hudson, and others, were explored in the eager hope that they might prove to be liquid canals between the two great seas. But a more promising hope was that which hinted that America might be circumnavigated at the north as well as at the south, and the Pacific be reached by way of the icy channel of the northern seas.

This hope, born so long ago, has but died out in our own days. Much of the most thrilling literature of adventure of the nineteenth century comes from the persistent efforts to traverse these perilous Arctic ocean wastes. Let us go back to the oldest of the daring navigators of this frozen sea, the worthy knight Sir Martin Frobisher, and tell the story of his notable efforts to discover a Northwest Passage, "the only thing left undone," as he quaintly says, "whereby a notable mind might become famous and fortunate."

As an interesting preface to our story we may quote from that curious old tome, "Purchas his Pilgrimage," the following quaintly imaginative passage,—

"How shall I admire your valor and courage, yee Marine Worthies, beyond all names of worthinesse; that neither dread so long either presense nor absence of the Sunne, nor those foggie mists, tempestuous windes, cold blasts, snowes and haile in the aire; nor the unequal Seas, where the Tritons and Neptune's selfe would quake with chilling feare to behold such monstrous Icie Islands, mustering themselves in those watery plaines, where they hold a continuall civill warre, rushing one upon another, making windes and waves give back; nor the rigid, ragged face of the broken landes, sometimes towering themselves to a loftie height, to see if they can finde refuge from those snowes and colds that continually beat them, sometimes hiding themselves under some hollow hills or cliffes, sometimes sinking and shrinking into valleys, looking pale with snowes and falling in frozen and dead swounes: sometimes breaking their neckes into the sea, rather embracing the waters' than the aires' crueltie," and so on with the like labored fancies. "Great God," he concludes, "to whom all names of greatnesse are little, and lesse than nothing, let me in silence admire thy greatnesse, that in this little heart of man (not able to serve a Kite for a break-fast) hast placed such greatness of spirit as the world is too little to fill."

Thus in long-winded meed of praise writes Master Samuel Purchas. Of those bold mariners of whom he speaks our worthy knight, Sir Martin, is one of the first and far from the least.

An effort had been made to discover a northwest passage to the Pacific as early as 1527, and another nine years later; but these were feeble attempts, which ended in failure and disaster, and discovered nothing worthy of record. It was in 1576 that Frobisher, one of the most renowned navigators of his day, put into effect the project he had cherished from his youth upward, and for which he had sought aid during fifteen weary years, that of endeavoring to solve the ice-locked secret of the Arctic seas.

The fleet with which this daring adventure was undertaken was a strangely insignificant one, consisting of three vessels which were even less in size than those with which Columbus had ventured on his great voyage. Two of these were but of twenty tons burden each, and the third only of ten, while the aggregate crews numbered but thirty-five men. With this tiny squadron, less in size than a trio of fishing-smacks, the daring adventurer set out to traverse the northern seas and face the waves of the great Pacific, if fortune should open to him its gates.

On the 11th of July, 1576, the southern extremity of Greenland was sighted. It presented a more icy aspect than that which the Norsemen had seen nearly six centuries before. Sailing thence westward, the land of the continent came into view, and for the first time by modern Europeans was seen that strange race, now so well known under the name of Eskimo. The characteristics of this people, and the conditions of their life, are plainly described. The captain "went on shore, and was encountered with mightie Deere, which ranne at him, with danger of his life. Here he had sight of the Savages, which rowed to his Shippe in Boates of Seales Skinnes, with a Keele of wood within them. They eate raw Flesh and Fish, or rather devoured the same: they had long black hayre, broad faces, flat noses, tawnie of color, or like an Olive."

His first voyage went not beyond this point. He returned home, having lost five of his men, who were carried off by the natives. But he brought with him that which was sure to pave the way to future voyages. This was a piece of glittering stone, which the ignorant goldsmiths of London confidently declared to be ore of gold.

Frobisher's first voyage had been delayed by the great difficulty in obtaining aid. For his new project assistance was freely offered, Queen Elizabeth herself, moved by hope of treasure, coming to his help with a hundred and eighty-ton craft, the "Ayde," to which two smaller vessels were added. These being provisioned and manned, the bold navigator, with "a merrie wind" in his sails, set out again for the desolate north.

His first discovery here was of the strait now known by his name, up which he passed in a boat, with the mistaken notion in his mind that the land bounding the strait to the south was America, and that to the north was Asia. The natives proved friendly, but Frobisher soon succeeded in making them hostile. He seized some of them and attempted to drag them to his boat, "that he might conciliate them by presents." The Eskimos, however, did not approve of this forcible method of conciliation, and the unwise knight reached the boat alone, with an arrow in his leg.

But, to their great joy, the mariners found plenty of the shining yellow stones, and stowed abundance of them on their ships, deeming, like certain Virginian gold-seekers of a later date, that their fortunes were now surely made. They found also "a great dead fish, round like a porepis [porpoise], twelve feet long, having a Horne of two yardes, lacking two ynches, growing out of the Snout, wreathed and straight, like a Waxe-Taper, and might be thought to be a Sea-Unicorne. It was reserved as a Jewell by the Queens' commandment in her Wardrobe of Robes."

A northwest wind having cleared the strait of ice, the navigators sailed gayly forward, full of the belief that the Pacific would soon open to their eyes. It was not long before they were in battle with the Eskimos. They had found European articles in some native kyacks, which they supposed belonged to the men they had lost the year before. To rescue or revenge these unfortunates, Frobisher attacked the natives, who valiantly resisted, even plucking the arrows from their bodies to use as missiles, and, when mortally hurt, flinging themselves from the rocks into the sea. At length they gave ground, and fled to the loftier cliffs, leaving two of their women as trophies to the assailants. These two, one "being olde," says the record, "the other encombred with a yong childe, we took. The olde wretch, whom divers of our Saylors supposed to be eyther the Divell, or a witch, had her buskins plucked off, to see if she were cloven-footed; and for her ougly hewe and deformitie, we let her goe; the young woman and the childe we brought away."

This was not the last of their encounters with the Eskimos, who, incensed against them, made every effort to entrap them into their power. Their stratagems consisted in placing tempting pieces of meat at points near which they lay in ambush, and in pretending lameness to decoy the Englishmen into pursuit. These schemes failing, they made a furious assault upon the vessel with arrows and other missiles.

Before the strait could be fully traversed, ice had formed so thickly that further progress was stopped, and, leaving the hoped-for Cathay for future voyagers, the mariners turned their prows homeward, their vessels laden with two hundred tons of the glittering stone.

Strangely enough, an examination of this material failed to dispel the delusion. The scientists of that day declared that it was genuine gold-ore, and expressed their belief that the road to China lay through Frobisher Strait. Untold wealth, far surpassing that which the Spaniards had obtained in Mexico and Peru, seemed ready to shower into England's coffers. Frobisher was now given the proud honor of kissing the queen's hand, his neck was encircled with a chain of gold of more value than his entire two hundred tons of ore, and, with a fleet of fifteen ships, one of them of four hundred tons, he set sail again for the land of golden promise. Of the things that happened to him in this voyage, one of the most curious is thus related. "The Salamander (one of their Shippes), being under both her Courses and Bonets, happened to strike upon a great Whale, with her full Stemme, with suche a blow that the Shippe stood still, and neither stirred backward or forward. The whale thereat made a great and hideous noyse, and casting up his body and tayle, presently sank under water. Within two days they found a whale dead, which they supposed was this which the Salamander had stricken."

Other peril came to the fleet from icebergs, through the midst of which they were driven by a tempest, but they finally made their way into what is now known as Hudson Strait, up which, filled with hope that the continental limits would quickly be passed and the route to China open before them, they sailed some sixty miles. But to their disappointment they found that they were being turned southward, and, instead of crossing the continent, were descending into its heart.

Reluctantly Frobisher turned back, and, after many buffetings from the storms, managed to bring part of his fleet into Frobisher Bay. So much time had been lost that it was not safe to proceed. Winter might surprise them in those icy wilds. Therefore, shipping immense quantities of the "fools' gold" which had led them so sadly astray, they turned their prows once more homeward, reaching England's shores in early October.

Meanwhile the "ore" had been found to be absolutely worthless, the golden dreams which had roused England to exultation had faded away, and the new ship-loads they brought were esteemed to be hardly worth their weight as ballast. For this disappointment the unlucky Frobisher, who had been appointed High Admiral of all lands and waters which he might discover, could not be held to blame. It was not he that had pronounced the worthless pyrites gold, and he had but obeyed orders in bringing new cargoes of this useless rubbish to add to the weight of Albion's rock-bound shores. But he could not obtain aid for a new voyage to the icy north, England for the time had lost all interest in that unpromising region, and Frobisher was forced to employ in other directions his skill in seamanship.

With the after-career of this unsuccessful searcher for the Northwest Passage we have no concern. It will suffice to say that fortune attended his later ventures upon the seas, and that he died in 1594, from a wound which he received in a naval battle off the coast of France.


On a bright May morning in the year 1609, at the point where the stream then known as the Rivière des Iroquois—and which has since borne the various names of the Richelieu, the Chambly, the St. Louis, the Sorel and the St. John—poured the waters of an unknown interior lake into the channel of the broad St. Lawrence, there was presented a striking spectacle. Everywhere on the liquid surface canoes, driven by the steady sweep of paddles wielded by naked and dusky arms, shot to and fro. Near the shore a small shallop, on whose deck stood a group of armed whites, had just cast anchor, and was furling its sails. Upon the strip of open land bordering the river, and in the woodland beyond, were visible great numbers of savage warriors, their faces hideously bedaubed with war-paint, their hands busy in erecting the frail habitations of a temporary camp.

The scene was one of striking beauty, such as only the virgin wilderness can display. The river ran between walls of fresh green leafage, here narrowed, yonder widened into a broad reach which was encircled by far sweeping forests. The sun shone broadly on the animated scene, while the whites, from the deck of their small craft, gazed with deep interest on the strange picture before them, filled as it was with dusky natives, some erecting their forest shelters, others fishing in the stream, while still others were seeking the forest depths in pursuit of game.

The scene is of interest to us for another reason. It was the prelude to the first scene of Indian warfare which the eyes of Europeans were to behold in the northern region of the American continent. The Spaniards had been long established in the south, but no English settlement had yet been made on the shores of the New World, and the French had but recently built a group of wooden edifices on that precipitous height which is now crowned with the walls and the spires of Quebec.

Not long had the whites been there before the native hunters of the forests came to gaze with wondering eyes on those pale-faced strangers, with their unusual attire and surprising powers of architecture. And quickly they begged their aid in an expedition against their powerful enemies, the confederated nations of the Iroquois, who dwelt in a wonderful lake-region to the south, and by their strength, skill, and valor had made themselves the terror of the tribes.

Samuel de Champlain, an adventurous Frenchman who had already won himself reputation by an exploration of the Spanish domain of the West Indies, was now in authority at Quebec, and did not hesitate to promise his aid in the coming foray, moved, perhaps, by that thirst for discovery and warlike spirit which burned deeply in his breast. The Indians had told him of great lakes and mighty rivers to the south, and doubtless the ardent wish to be the first to traverse these unknown waters was a moving impulse in his ready assent.

With the opening season the warriors gathered, Hurons and Algonquins, a numerous band. They paddled to Quebec; gazed with surprise on the strange buildings, the story of which had already been told in their distant wigwams, and on their no less strange inmates; feasted, smoked, and debated; and shrank in consternation from the piercing report of the arquebuse and the cannon's frightful roar.

Their savage hearts were filled with exultation on learning the powers of their new allies. Surely these wonderful strangers would deal destruction on their terrible foes. Burning with thirst for vengeance, they made their faces frightful with the war-paint, danced with frenzied gestures round the blaze of their camp-fires, filled the air with ear-piercing war-whoops, and at the word of command hastened to their canoes and swept in hasty phalanx up the mighty stream, accompanied by Champlain and eleven other white allies.

Two days the war-party remained encamped at the place where we have seen them, hunting, fishing, fasting, and quarrelling, the latter so effectually that numbers of them took to their canoes and paddled angrily away, scarce a fourth of the original array being left for the march upon the dreaded enemy.

It was no easy task which now lay before them. The journey was long, the way difficult. Onward again swept the diminutive squadron, the shallop outsailing the canoes, and making its way up the Richelieu, Champlain being too ardent with the fever of discovery to await the slow work of the paddles. He had not, however, sailed far up that forest-enclosed stream before unwelcome sounds came to his ears. The roar of rushing and tumbling waters sounded through the still air. And now, through the screen of leaves, came a vision of snowy foam and the flash of leaping waves. The Indians had lied to him. They had promised him an unobstructed route to the great lake ahead, and here already were rapids in his path.

How far did the obstruction extend? That must be learned. Leaving the shallop, he set out with part of his men to explore the wilds. It was no easy journey. Tangled vines, dense thickets, swampy recesses crossed the way. Here lay half-decayed tree-trunks; there heaps of rocks lifted their mossy tops in the path. And ever, as they went, the roar of the rapids followed, while through the foliage could be seen the hurrying waters, pouring over rocks, stealing amid drift-logs, eddying in chasms, and shooting in white lines of foam along every open space.

Was this the open river of which he had been told; this the ready route to the great lake beyond? In anger and dismay, Champlain retraced his steps, to find, when he reached the shallop, that the canoes of the savages had come up, and now filled the stream around it.

The disappointed adventurer did not hesitate to tell them that they had lied to him; but he went on to say that though they had broken their word he would keep his. In truth, the vision of the mighty lake, with its chain of islands, its fertile shores, and bordering forests, of which they had told him, rose alluringly before his eyes, and with all the ardor of the pioneer he was determined to push onward into that realm of the unknown.

But their plans must be changed. Nine of the men were sent back to Quebec with the shallop. Champlain, with two others, determined to proceed in the Indian canoes. At his command the warriors lifted their light boats from the water, and bore them on their shoulders over the difficult portage past the rapids, to the smooth stream above. Here, launching them again, the paddles once more broke the placid surface of the stream, and onward they went, still through the primeval forest, which stretched away in an unbroken expanse of green.

It was a virgin solitude, unmarked by habitation, destitute of human inmate, abundant with game; for it was the debatable land between warring tribes, traversed only by hostile bands, the battle-ground of Iroquois and Algonquin hordes. None could dwell here in safety; even hunting-parties had to be constantly prepared for war. Through this region of blood and terror the canoes made their way, now reduced to twenty-four in number, manned by sixty warriors and three white allies. The advance was made with great caution, for danger was in the air. Scouts were sent in advance through the forests; others were thrown out on the flanks and rear, hunting for game as they went; for the store of pounded and parched maize which the warriors had brought with them was to be kept for food when the vicinity of the foe should render hunting impossible.

The scene that night, as described by Champlain was one to be remembered. The canoes were drawn up closely, side by side. Active life pervaded the chosen camp. Here some gathered dry wood for their fires; there others stripped off sheets of bark, to cover their forest wigwams; yonder the sound of axes was followed by the roar of falling trees. The savages had steel axes, obtained from the French, and, with their aid, in two hours a strong defensive work, constructed of the felled trunks, was built, a half-circle in form, with the river at its two ends. This was the extent of their precautions. The returning scouts reported that the forest in advance was empty of foes. The tawny host cast themselves in full security on the grassy soil, setting no guards, and were soon lost in slumber, with that blind trust in fortune which has ever been one of the weak features of Indian warfare.

They had not failed, however, to consult their oracles, those spirits which the medicine-man was looked upon as an adept at invoking, and whose counsel was ever diligently sought by the superstitious natives. The conjurer crept within his skin-covered lodge, where, crouched upon the earth, he filled the air with inarticulate invocations to the surrounding spirits; while outside, squatted on the ground, the dusky auditors looked and listened with awe. Suddenly the lodge began to rock violently, by the power of the spirits, as the Indians deemed, though Champlain fancied that the arm of the medicine-man was the only spirit at work.

"Look on the peak of the lodge," whispered the awed savages. "You will see fire and smoke rise into the air." Champlain looked, but saw nothing.

The medicine-man by this time had worked himself into convulsions. He called loudly upon the spirit in an unknown language, and was answered in squeaking tones like those of a young puppy. This powerful spirit was deemed to be present in the form of a stone. When the conjurer reappeared his body streamed with perspiration, while the story he had to tell promised an auspicious termination of the enterprise.

This was not the only performance of the warriors. There was another of a more rational character. Bundles of sticks were collected by the leading chief, which he stuck in the earth in a fixed order, calling each by the name of some warrior, the taller ones representing the chiefs. The arrangement of the sticks indicated the plan of battle. Each warrior was to occupy the position indicated by his special stick. The savages gathered closely round, intently studied the plan, then formed their ranks in accordance therewith, broke them, reformed them, and continued the process with a skill and alacrity that surprised and pleased their civilized observer.

With the early morning light they again advanced, following the ever-widening stream, in whose midst islands leagues in extent now appeared. Beyond came broad channels and extended reaches of widening waters, and soon the delighted explorer found that the river had ended and that the canoes were moving over the broad bosom of that great lake of which the Indians had told him, and which has ever since borne his name. It was a charming scene which thus first met the eyes of civilized man. Far in front spread the inland sea. On either side distant forests, clad in the fresh leafage of June, marked the borders of the lake. Far away, over their leafy tops, appeared lofty heights; on the left the Green Mountains lifted their forest-clad ridges, with patches of snow still whitening their tops; on the right rose the clustering hills of the Adirondacks, then the hunting-grounds of the Iroquois, and destined to remain the game-preserves of the whites long after the axe and plough had subdued all the remainder of that forest-clad domain.



They had reached a region destined to play a prominent part in the coming history of America. The savages told their interested auditors of another lake, thickly studded with islands, beyond that on which they now were; and still beyond a rocky portage over which they hoped to carry their canoes, and a great river which flowed far down to the mighty waters of the sea. If they met not the foe sooner they would press onward to this stream, and there perhaps surprise some town of the Mohawks, whose settlements approached its banks. This same liquid route in later days was to be traversed by warlike hosts both in the French and Indian and the Revolutionary Wars, and to be signalized by the capture of Burgoyne and his invading host, one of the most vital events in the American struggle for liberty.

The present expedition was not to go so far. Hostile bands were to be met before they left the sheet of water over which their canoes now glided. Onward they went, the route becoming hourly more dangerous. At length they changed their mode of progress, resting in the depths of the forest all day long, taking to the waters at twilight, and paddling cautiously onward till the crimsoning of the eastern sky told them that day was near at hand. Then the canoes were drawn up in sheltered coves, and the warriors, chatting, smoking, and sleeping, spent on the leafy lake borders the slow-moving hours of the day.

The journey was a long one. It was the 29th of July when they reached a point far down the lake, near the present site of Crown Point. They had paddled all night. They hid here all day. Champlain fell asleep on a heap of spruce boughs, and in his slumber dreamed that he had seen the Iroquois drowning in the lake, and that when he tried to rescue them he had been told by his Algonquin friends to leave them alone, as they were not worth the trouble of saving.

The Indians believed in the power of dreams. They had beset Champlain daily to learn if he had had any visions. When now he told them his dream they were filled with joy. Victory had spoken into his slumbering ear. With gladness they re-embarked when night came on, and continued their course down the lake.

They had not far to go. At ten o'clock, through the shadows of the night, they beheld a number of dark objects on the lake before them. It was a fleet of Iroquois canoes, heavier and slower craft than those of the Algonquins, for they were made of oak-or elm-bark, instead of the light paper-birch used by the latter.

Each party saw the other, and recognized that they were in the presence of foes. War-cries sounded over the shadowy waters. The Iroquois, who preferred to do their fighting on land and who were nearer shore, hastened to the beach and began at once to build a barricade of logs, filling the air of the night with yells of defiance as they worked away like beavers. The allies meanwhile remained on the lake, their canoes lashed together with poles, dancing with a vigor that imperilled their frail barks, and answering the taunts and menaces of their foes with equally vociferous abuse.

It was agreed that the battle should be deferred till daybreak. As day approached Champlain and his two followers armed themselves, their armor consisting of cuirass, or breast-plate, steel coverings for the thighs, and a plumed helmet for the head. By the side of the leader hung his sword, and in his hand was his arquebuse, which he had loaded with four balls. The savages of these woods were now first to learn the destructive power of that weapon, for which in the years to come they would themselves discard the antiquated bow.

The Iroquois much outnumbered their foes. There were some two hundred of them in all, tall, powerful men, the boldest warriors of America, whose steady march excited Champlain's admiration as he saw them filing from their barricade and advancing through the woods. As for himself and his two companions, they had remained concealed in the canoes, and not even when a landing was made did the Iroquois behold the strangely-clad allies of their hereditary enemies.

Not until they stood face to face, ready for the battle-cry, did the Algonquin ranks open, and the white men advance before the astonished gaze of the Iroquois. Never before had they set eyes on such an apparition, and they stood in mute wonder while Champlain raised his arquebuse, took aim at a chief, and fired. The chief fell dead. A warrior by his side fell wounded in the bushes. As the report rang through the air a frightful yell came from the allies, and in an instant their arrows were whizzing thickly through the ranks of their foes. For a moment the Iroquois stood their ground and returned arrow for arrow. But when from the two flanks of their adversaries came new reports, and other warriors bit the dust, their courage gave way to panic terror, and they turned and fled in wild haste through the forest, swiftly pursued by the triumphant Algonquins.

Several of the Iroquois were killed. A number were captured. At night the victors camped in triumph on the field of battle, torturing one of their captives till Champlain begged to put him out of pain, and sent a bullet through his heart.

Thus ended the first battle between whites and Indians on the soil of the northern United States, in a victory for which the French were to pay dearly in future days, at the hands of their now vanquished foes. With the dawn of the next day the victors began their retreat. A few days of rapid paddling brought them to the Richelieu. Here they separated, the Hurons and Algonquins returning to their homes by way of the Ottowa, the Montagnais, who dwelt in the vicinity of Quebec, accompanying Champlain to his new-built city.

The Iroquois, however, were not the men to be quelled by a single defeat. In June of the ensuing year a war-party of them advanced to the mouth of the Richelieu, and a second fierce battle took place. As another vivid example of the character of Indian warfare, the story of this conflict, may be added to that already given.

On an island in the St. Lawrence near the mouth of the Richelieu was gathered a horde of Montagnais Indians, Champlain and others of the whites being with them. A war-party of Algonquins was expected, and busy preparations were being made for feast and dance, in order that they might be received with due honor. In the midst of this festal activity an event occurred that suddenly changed thoughts of peace to those of war. At a distance on the stream appeared a single canoe, approaching as rapidly as strong arms could drive it through the water. On coming near, its inmates called out loudly that the Algonquins were in the forest, engaged in battle with a hundred Iroquois, who, outnumbered, were fighting from behind a barricade of trees which they had hastily erected.

In an instant the air was filled with deafening cries. Tidings of battle were to the Indians like a fresh scent to hounds of the chase: The Montagnais flew to their canoes, and paddled with frantic haste to the opposite shore, loudly calling on Champlain and his fellow-whites to follow. They obeyed, crossing the stream in canoes. As the shore was reached the warriors flung down their paddles, snatched up their weapons, and darted into the woods with such speed that the Frenchmen found it impossible to keep them in sight. It was a hot and oppressive day; the air was filled with mosquitoes,—"so thick," says Champlain, "that we could hardly draw breath, and it was wonderful how cruelly they persecuted us,"—their route lay through swampy soil, where the water at places stood knee-deep; over fallen logs, wet and slimy, and under entangling vines; their heavy armor added to their discomfort; the air was close and heavy; altogether it was a progress fit to make one sicken of warfare in the wilderness. After struggling onward till they were almost in despair, they saw two Indians in the distance, and by vigorous shouts secured their aid as guides to the field of battle.

An instinct seemed to guide the savages through that dense and tangled forest. In a short time they led the laboring whites to a point where the woodland grew thinner, and within hearing of the wild war-whoops of the combatants. Soon they emerged into a partial clearing, which had been made by the axes of the Iroquois in preparing their breastwork of defence. Champlain gazed upon the scene before him with wondering eyes. In front was a circular barricade, composed of trunks of trees, boughs, and matted twigs, behind which the Iroquois stood like tigers at bay. In the edge of the forest around were clustered their yelling foes, screaming shrill defiance, yet afraid to attack, for they had already been driven back with severe loss. Their hope now lay in their white allies, and when they saw Champlain and his men a yell arose that rent the air, and a cloud of winged arrows was poured into the woodland fort. The beleaguered Iroquois replied with as fierce a shout, and with a better-aimed shower of arrows. At least Champlain had reason to think so, for one of these stone-headed darts split his ear, and tore a furrow through the muscles of his neck. One of his men received a similar wound.

Furious with pain, Champlain, secure in his steel armor, rushed to the woodland fort, followed by his men, and discharged their arquebuses through its crevices upon the dismayed savages within, who, wild with terror at this new and deadly weapon, flung themselves flat upon the earth at each report.

At each moment the scene of war grew more animated. The assailing Indians, yelling in triumph, ran up under cover of their large wooden shields, and began to tug at the trees of the barricade, while other of them gathered thickly in the bushes for the final onset. And now, from the forest depths, came hurrying to the scene a new party of French allies,—a boat's crew of fur-traders, who had heard the firing and flown with warlike eagerness to take part in the fight.

The bullets of these new assailants added to the terror of the Iroquois. They writhed and darted to and fro to escape the leaden missiles that tore through their frail barricade. At a signal from Champlain the allies rushed from their leafy covert, flew to the breastwork, tore down or clambered over the boughs, and precipitated themselves into the fort, while the French ceased their firing and led a party of Indians to the assault on the opposite side.

The howls of defiance, screams of pain, deafening war-whoops, and dull sound of deadly blows were now redoubled. Many of the Iroquois stood their ground, hewing with tomahawks and war-clubs, and dying not unrevenged. Some leaped the barrier and were killed by the crowd outside; others sprang into the river and were drowned; of them all not one escaped, and at the end of the conflict but fifteen remained alive, prisoners in the hands of their deadly foes, destined victims of torture and flame.

On the next day a large party of Hurons arrived, and heard with envy the story of the fight, in which they were too late to take part. The forest and river shore were crowded with Indian huts. Hundreds of warriors assembled, who spent the day in wild war-dances and songs, then loaded their canoes and paddled away in triumph to their homes, without a thought of following up their success and striking yet heavier blows upon their dreaded enemy. Even Champlain, who was versed in civilized warfare, made no attempt to lead them to an invasion of the Iroquois realm. He did not dream of the deadly reprisal which the now defeated race would exact for this day of disaster.

Of the further doings of Champlain we shall relate but one incident,—a thrilling adventure which he tells of his being lost in the interminable woodland depths. Year after year he continued his explorations; now voyaging far up the Ottawa; now reaching the mighty inland sea of Lake Huron, voyaging upon its waters, and visiting the Indian villages upon its shores; now again battling with the Iroquois, who, this time, drove their assailants in baffled confusion from their fort; now joining an Indian hunting-party, and taking part with them in their annual deer-hunt. For this they constructed two lines of posts interlaced with boughs, each more than half a mile long, and converging to a point where a strong enclosure was built. The hunters drove the deer before them into this enclosure, where others despatched them with spears and arrows. It was during this expedition that the incident referred to took place.

Champlain had gone into the forest with the hunters. Here he saw a bird new to him, and whose brilliant hue and strange shape struck him with surprise and admiration. It was, to judge from his description, a red-headed woodpecker. Bent on possessing this winged marvel, he pursued it, gun in hand. From bough to bough, from tree to tree, the bird fitted onward, leading the unthinking hunter step by step deeper into the wilderness. Then, when he surely thought to capture his prize, the luring wonder took wing and vanished in the forest depths.

Disappointed, Champlain turned to seek his friends. But in what direction should he go? The day was cloudy; he had left his pocket-compass at the camp; the forest spread in endless lines around him; he stood in helpless bewilderment and dismay.

All day he wandered blindly, and at nightfall found himself still in a hopeless solitude. Weary and hungry, he lay down at the foot of a great tree, and passed the night in broken slumbers. The next day he wandered onward in the same blind helplessness, reaching, in late afternoon, the waters of a forest pond, shadowed by thick pines, and with water-fowl on its brink. One of these he shot, kindled a fire and cooked it, and for the first time since his misadventure tasted food. At night there came on a cold rain, drenched by which the blanketless wanderer was forced to seek sleep in the open wood.

Another day of fruitless wandering succeeded; another night of unrefreshing slumber. Paths were found in the forest, but they had been made by other feet than those of men, and if followed would lead him deeper into the seemingly endless wild. Roused by the new day from his chill couch, the lost wanderer despairingly roamed on, now almost hopeless of escape. Yet what sound was that which reached his ear? It was the silvery tinkle of a woodland rill, which crept onward unseen in the depths of a bushy glen. A ray of hope shot into his breast. This descending rivulet might lead him to the river where the hunters lay encamped. With renewed energy he traced its course, making his way through thicket and glen, led ever onwards by that musical sound, till he found himself on the borders of a small lake, within which the waters of his forest guide were lost.

This lake, he felt, must have an outlet. He circled round it, clambering over fallen trees and forcing his way through thorny vines, till he saw, amid roots of alder-bushes, a streamlet flow from the lakeside. This he hopefully followed. Not far had he gone before a dull roar met his ears, breaking the sullen silence of the woods. It was the sound of falling waters. He hastened forward. The wood grew thinner. Light appeared before him. Pushing gladly onward, he broke through the screening bushes and found himself on the edge of an open meadow, wild animals its only tenants, some browsing on the grass, others lurking in bushy coverts. Yet a more gladsome sight to his eyes was the broad river, which here rushed along in a turbulent rapid, whose roar it was which had come to his ear in the forest glades.

He looked about him. On the rocky river-bank was a portage-path made by Indian feet. The place seemed familiar. A second sweeping gaze; yes, here were points he had seen before. He was saved. Glad at heart, he camped upon the river-brink, kindled a fire, cooked the remains of his game, and passed that night, at least, in dreamless sleep. With daybreak he rose, followed the river downwards, and soon saw the smoke of the Indian camp-fires ascending in the morning air. In a few moments he had joined his dusky friends, greatly to their delight. They had sought him everywhere in vain, and now chided him gently for his careless risk, declaring that thenceforth they would never suffer him to go into the forest alone.


The story of a poor boy, born on the edge of the wilderness,—"at a despicable plantation on the river of Kennebec, and almost the farthest village of the eastern settlement of New England,"—yet who ended his life as governor and nobleman, is what we have to tell. It is one of the most romantic stories in history. He was born in 1651, being a scion of the early days of the Puritan colony. He came of a highly prolific pioneer family,—he had twenty brothers and five sisters,—yet none but himself of this extensive family are heard of in history or biography. Genius is too rare a quality to be spread through such a flock. His father was a gunsmith. Of the children, William was one of the youngest. After his father's death, he helped his mother at sheep-keeping in the wilderness till he was eighteen years of age, then there came "an unaccountable impulse upon his mind that he was born to greater matters." The seed of genius planted in his nature was beginning to germinate.

The story of the early life of William Phips may be told in a few words. From sheep-tending he turned to carpentry, becoming an expert ship-carpenter. With this trade at his fingers' ends he went to Boston, and there first learned to read and write, accomplishments which had not penetrated to the Kennebec. His next step was to marry, his wife being a widow, a Mrs. Hull, with little money but good connections. She lifted our carpenter a step higher in the social scale. At that time, says his biographer, "he was one tall beyond the common set of men, and thick as well as tall, and strong as well as thick; exceedingly robust, and able to conquer such difficulties of diet and of travel as would have killed most men alive. He was of a very comely though a very manly countenance," and in character of "a most incomparable generosity." He hated anything small or mean, was somewhat choleric, but not given to nourish malice.



To this notable young man there soon came an adventure. He had become a master workman, and built a ship for some Boston merchants on the river Sheepscote, a few leagues from his native Kennebec. The vessel was finished, and ready to be loaded with lumber; but its first cargo proved to be very different from that which Phips had designed. For Indians attacked the settlement; the inhabitants, flying for their lives, crowded on board the vessel, and Phips set sail with a shipload of his old friends and neighbors, who could pay him only in thanks. It is not unlikely that some of his own brothers and sisters were among the rescued. Certainly the extensive family of Phips must have spread somewhat widely over the coast region of Maine.

William Phips's first adventure had proved unprofitable except in works of charity. But he was not one to be easily put down, having in his nature an abundance of the perilous stuff of ambition. He was not the man to sit down and wait for fortune to come to him. Rather, he belonged to those who go to seek fortune. He was determined, he told his wife, to become captain of a king's ship, and owner of a fair brick house in the Green Lane of North Boston. It took him some eight or nine years to make good the first of these predictions, and then, in the year 1683, he sailed into the harbor of Boston as captain of the "Algier Rose," a frigate of eighteen guns and ninety-five men.

It was by the magic wand of sunken silver that our hero achieved this success. The treasures of Peru, loaded on Spanish ships, had not all reached the ports of Spain. Some cargoes of silver had gone to the bottom of the Atlantic. Phips had heard of such a wreck on the Bahamas, had sailed thither, and had made enough money by the enterprise to pay him for a voyage to England. While in the Bahamas he had been told of another Spanish wreck, "wherein was lost a mighty treasure, hitherto undiscovered." It was this that took him to England. He had made up his mind to be the discoverer of this sunken treasure-ship. The idea took possession of him wholly. His hope was to interest some wealthy persons, or the government itself, in his design. The man must have had in him something of that silver-tongued eloquence which makes persuasion easy, for the royalties at Whitehall heard him with favor and support, and he came back to New England captain of a king's ship, with full powers to search the seas for silver.

And now we have reached the verge of the romance of the life of William Phips. He had before him a difficult task, but he possessed the qualities which enable men to meet and overcome difficulty. The silver-ship was said to have been sunk somewhere near the Bahamas; the exact spot it was not easy to learn, for half a century had passed since its demise. Sailing thither in the "Algier Rose," Phips set himself to find the sunken treasure. Here and there he dredged, using every effort to gain information, trying every spot available, ending now in disappointment, starting now with renewed hope, continuing with unflagging energy. His frequent failures would have discouraged a common man, but Phips was not a common man, and would not accept defeat.

The resolute searcher had more than the difficulties of the sea-bottom to contend with. His men lost hope, grew weary of unprofitable labor, and at last rose in mutiny They fancied that they saw their way clear to an easier method of getting silver, and marched with drawn cutlasses to the quarterdeck, where they bade their commander to give up his useless search and set sail for the South Seas. There they would become pirates, and get silver without dredging or drudging.

It was a dangerous crisis. Phips stood with empty hands before that crew of armed and reckless men. Yet choler and courage proved stronger than sword-blades. Roused to fury, he rushed upon the mutineers with bare hands, knocked them down till the deck was strewn with fallen bodies, and by sheer force of anger and fearlessness quelled the mutiny and forced the men to return to their duty.

They were quelled, but not conquered. The daring adventurer was to have a more dangerous encounter with these would-be pirates. Some further time had passed in fruitless search. The frigate lay careened beside a rock of a Bahaman island, some eight or ten men being at work on its barnacled sides, while the others had been allowed to go on shore. They pretended that they wished to take a ramble in the tropical woods. What they wished to do was to organize a more effectual mutiny, seize the ship, leave the captain and those who held with him on that island, and sail away as lawless rovers of the deep.

Under the great trees of that Spanish island, moss-grown and bowery, in a secluded spot which nature seemed to have set aside for secret counsels, the mutinous crew perfected their plans, and signed a round-robin compact which pledged all present to the perilous enterprise. One man they needed to make their project sure. They could not do without the carpenter. He was at work on the vessel. They sent him a message to come to them in the woods. He came, heard their plans, affected to look on them favorably, but asked for a half-hour to consider the matter. This they were not disposed to grant. They must have an answer at once. The carpenter looked about him; dark and resolute faces surrounded him. Yet he earnestly declared he must have the time. They vigorously declared he should not. He was persistent, and in the end prevailed. The half-hour respite was granted.

The carpenter then said that he must return to the vessel. His absence from his work would look suspicious. They could send a man with him to see that he kept faith. The enterprise would be in danger if the captain noticed his absence. The mutineers were not men of much intelligence or shrewdness, and consented to his return. The carpenter, who had at heart no thought of joining the mutineers, had gained his point and saved the ship. In spite of the guard upon his movements he managed to get a minute's interview with Captain Phips, in which he told him what was afoot.

He was quickly at his post again, and under the eyes of his guard, but he had accomplished his purpose. Captain Phips was quick to realize the danger, and called about him those who were still in the ship. They all agreed to stand by him. By good fortune the gunner was among them. The energetic captain lost no time in devising what was to be done. During the work on the ship the provisions had been taken ashore and placed in a tent, where several pieces of artillery were mounted to defend them, in case the Spaniards, to whom the island belonged, should appear. Quickly but quietly these guns were brought back to the ship. Then they and the other guns of the ship were loaded and brought to bear on the tent, and the gangway which connected the ship with the land was drawn on board. No great time had elapsed, but Captain Phips was ready for his mutinous crew.

To avert suspicion during these preparations, the carpenter, at the suggestion of Phips, had gone ashore, and announced himself as ready to join the mutineers. This gave them great satisfaction, and after a short interval to complete their plans they issued in a body from the woods and approached the ship. As they drew near the tent, however, they looked at one another in surprise and dismay. The guns were gone!

"We are betrayed!" was the fearful whisper that ran round the circle.

"Stand off, you wretches, at your peril!" cried the captain, in stern accents.

The guns of the ship were trained upon them. They knew the mettle of Captain Phips. In a minute more cannon-balls might be ploughing deadly gaps through their midst. They dared not fly; they dared not fight. Panic fear took possession of them. They fell upon their knees in a body, begged the captain not to fire, and vowed that they would rather live and die with him than any man in the world. All they had found fault with was that he would not turn pirate; otherwise he was the man of their hearts.

The captain was stern; they were humble and beseeching. In the end he made them deliver up their arms, and then permitted them to come on board, a thoroughly quelled body of mutineers. But Captain Phips knew better than to trust these men a third time. The moment the ship was in sailing trim he hoisted anchor and sailed for Jamaica, where he turned the whole crew, except the few faithful ones, adrift, and shipped another crew, smaller, but, as he hoped, more trustworthy.

The treasure-ship still drew him like a magnet. He had not begun to think of giving up the search. Discouragement, failure, mutiny, were to him but incidents. The silver was there, somewhere, and have it he would, if perseverance would avail. From Jamaica he sailed to Hispaniola. There his fluent persuasiveness came again into play. He met a very old man, Spaniard or Portuguese, who was said to know where the ship lay, and "by the policy of his address" wormed from him some further information about the treasure-ship. The old man told him that it had been wrecked on a reef of shoals a few leagues from Hispaniola, and just north of Port de la Plata, which place got its name from the landing there of a boat-load of sailors with plate saved from the sinking vessel. Phips proceeded thither and searched narrowly, but without avail. The sea held its treasures well. The charmed spot was not to be found. The new crew, also, seemed growing mutinous. Phips had had enough of mutiny. He hoisted sail and made the best of his way back to England.

Here trouble and annoyance awaited him. He found powerful enemies. Doubtless ridicule also met his projects. To plough the bottom of the Atlantic, in search of a ship that had gone down fifty years before, certainly seemed to yield fair food for mirth. Yet the polite behavior, the plausible speech, the enthusiasm and energy of the man had their effect. He won friends among the higher nobility. The story of the mutiny and of its bold suppression had also its effect. A man who could attack a horde of armed mutineers with his bare fists, a man so ready and resolute in time of danger, so unflinchingly persevering in time of discouragement, was the man to succeed if success were possible. Finally, the Duke of Albemarle and some others agreed to supply funds for the expedition, and Captain Phips in no long time had another ship under his feet, and was once more upon the seas.

His ship was now accompanied by a tender. He had contrived many instruments to aid him in his search. It is said that he invented the diving-bell. There was certainly one used by him, but it may have been an old device, improved by his Yankee ingenuity.

Port de la Plata was reached in due time, the year being 1684 or 1685. Here Phips had a large canoe or periago made, fitted for eight or ten oars. It was hollowed out from the trunk of a cotton-tree, he using "his own hands and adze" in the work, enduring much hardship, and "lying abroad in the woods many nights together."

The shoals where search was to be made were known by the name of the "Boilers." They lay only two or three feet below the surface, yet their sloping sides were so steep that, says one author, "a ship striking on them would immediately sink down, who could say how many fathom, into the ocean?"

The tender and the periago were anchored near these dangerous shoals, and the work went on from them. Days passed, still of fruitless labor. The men, as they said, could make nothing of all their "peeping among the Boilers," Fortunately they had calm weather and a quiet sea, and could all day long pursue their labors around and among the shoals.

A day came in which one of them, looking far down into the smooth water, saw what is known as a sea-feather, one of the attractive products of those gardens of the seas, growing out of what seemed a rock below him. He turned to an Indian diver, and asked him to dive down and bring it up.

"We will take it to the captain," he said. "It is tiresome going back always empty-handed."

The diver made the leap. In a minute he was back with the sea-feather in his hand. There were signs of excitement on his dusky face as he climbed into the boat. He had indeed a surprising story to tell.

"I saw great guns down there," he said.

"What? guns?" was the general cry.

"Yes, great guns, as from some ship."

"Guns!" The despondency of the crew at once changed to ardent enthusiasm. Had they at length hit upon the spot for which they had so long sought in vain? The Indian was told to dive again, and see what could be found.

He did so. When he came up, their eyes were ready to start from their heads, for he bore with him an object of infinite promise to their wealth-craving souls. It was a lump of silver,—a "sow," they called it,—worth some two or three hundred pounds in money.

The search was over! The spot was found! Fortune lay within their reach! Marking the spot with a buoy, they rowed back to the ship, on which the captain had remained. Here they, disposed to have some sport, declared with long faces that the affair had better come to an end. They were wasting time and labor; the sea had no treasure to yield.

"If we were wise, captain," said the leading speaker, "we'd pull up stakes and sail back for merry old England. There's nothing but failure here. As much work done in digging and drudging at home would bring tenfold more profit."

Phips listened in silence to him and the others, looking from face to face.

"Our disappointments have been many," he replied, in a calm and resolute tone. "Yet I do not despair. I am determined to wait patiently on God's providence. We will find the treasure-ship yet, my lads. Do not lose courage."

Turning his gaze to one side as he spoke, he started violently, and then asked, in a tone so constrained that it seemed the voice of agony,—

"Why, what is this? Whence comes this?"

He had caught sight of the sow of silver, which they had cunningly laid a little out of direct vision.

"It is silver, Captain Phips," said the spokesman. "We did but jest with you. That came from the bottom of the sea. All is well; we have found the treasure-ship."

"Then, thanks be to God, we are made!" cried the captain, clasping his hands in fervent thankfulness.

There was no longer any lack of energy in the labor. All hands went to work with a hearty good-ill. Curiosity to learn what the sea had to yield wrought upon them as much as desire for reward. Up came the silver, sow after sow. In a short time they had brought up no less than thirty-two tons of this precious metal, with six tons besides that were raised and appropriated by a Captain Adderly, of Providence, whom Phips had engaged to help him, and who took this means of helping himself. His crew was small, but his diligence great.

The silver was not all in sows. Much of it was coined, and this coined silver was, in many cases, covered with a crust, several inches thick, of limestone-like material. It came out in great lumps, the crust needing to be broken with iron tools, when out would tumble whole bushels of rusty pieces of eight, Nor was the treasure confined to silver. There came up gold in large quantities, and also pearls and other precious stones. The Spaniards had gleaned actively in those days of old, when the treasures of Peru were theirs for the taking; and the ocean, its secret hiding-place once found, yielded generously. In short, the treasure recovered is said to have been worth nearly three hundred thousand pounds sterling. They did not exhaust the deposit. Their provisions failed, and they had to leave before the work was completed. Others who came after them were well paid for their labor.

The treasure on board, Captain Phips had new trouble. The men, seeing "such vast litters of silver sows and pigs come on board," were not content with ordinary sailors' pay. They might even be tempted to seize the ship and take its rich lading for themselves. Phips was in great apprehension. He had not forgotten the conduct of his former crew. He did his utmost to gain the friendship of his men, and promised them a handsome reward for their services, even if he had to give them all his own share.

England was reached in safety, and the kingdom electrified by the story of Captain Phips's success. The romantic incidents of the narrative attracted universal attention. Phips was the hero of the hour. Some of his enemies, it is true, did their utmost to make him a wronged hero. They diligently sought to persuade James II., then on the throne, to seize the whole treasure as the appanage of the crown, and not be content with the tithe to which his prerogative entitled him. James II. was tyrannical but not unjust. He refused to rob the mariners. "Captain Phips," he said, "he saw to be a person of that honesty, ability, and fidelity that he should not want his countenance."

Phips was certainly honest,—so much so, indeed, that little of the treasure came to him. His promises to his men were carefully kept; his employers were paid the last penny of their dues; in the end, out of the whole, there remained to himself less than sixteen thousand pounds. The Duke of Albemarle, moved by admiration for his honesty, gave him, as a present from his wife, a gold cup of the value of nearly one thousand pounds. As for the king, he was so pleased with the whole conduct of the adventurer, and perhaps so charmed by Phips's silvery speech, that he conferred on him the honor of knighthood, and the plain Kennebec boy became Sir William Phips, and a member of the aristocracy of England.

Every one acknowledged that the discoverer owed his success to merit, not to luck. He was evidently a man of the highest capacity, and might, had he chosen, have filled high places and gained great honors in England. But America was his native land, and he was not to be kept from its shores.

He became such a favorite at court, that one day, when King James was particularly gracious to him, and asked him what favor he desired, he replied that he asked nothing for himself, but hoped that the king would restore to his native province its lost liberties, by returning the charter of which it had been deprived.

"Anything but that!" exclaimed James, who had no idea of restoring liberty to mother-land or colony.

He appointed Phips, however, high sheriff of New England, and the adventurer returned home as a man of power and station. On his way there he visited the silver-ship again, and succeeded in adding something of value to his fortune. Then, sailing to Boston, he rejoined his wife after a five years' absence, and, to complete the realization of his predictions, immediately began to build himself a "fair brick house in Green Lane."

We have finished our story, which was to tell how the sheep-boy of the Kennebec rose to be high sheriff of New England, with the privilege of writing "Sir" before his name. His after-life was little less memorable than the part of it told, but we have no space left to tell it in.

King James was soon driven from the throne, and King William took his place, but Sir William Phips retained his power and influence. In 1690 he led an army against Port Royal in Acadia, took it, and came back to receive the plaudits of the Bostonians. He next attempted to conquer all Canada from the French, attacked Quebec with a strong force, but was repulsed, largely in consequence of a storm that scattered his ships. The Bostonians had now no plaudits for him. The expedition had cost New England about forty thousand pounds, and there was not a penny in the treasury. The difficulty was overcome by the issue of treasury-notes, an expedient which was not adopted in England till five years afterwards. Charles Montagu, the alleged inventor of exchequer bills doubtless owed his idea to the sharp-witted Bostonians.

The beginning of 1692 found Sir William again in England, whence he came back to his native land as captain-general and governor-in-chief of the colony of Massachusetts. From sheep-boy he had risen to the title of "Your Excellency." Phips was governor of Massachusetts during the witchcraft delusion. The part he took in it was not a very active one; but when, in 1693, he found that grand juries were beginning to throw out indictments, and petit juries to return verdicts of "Not guilty," he ended the whole mad business by emptying the prisons, then containing about one hundred and fifty persons committed, while over two hundred more were accused. In 1693 Governor Phips led an expedition against the Indians of Maine, and forced them to conclude a treaty of peace. In 1694 he went to England, to answer certain accusations against his conduct as governor, and here was taken suddenly sick, and died February 18, 1695.

The noble house of Phips, thus instituted, has steadily grown in rank and dignity since that date, bearing successively the titles of baron, viscount, earl, until finally, in 1838, a Phips attained the rank of marquis of Normandy. It is a remarkable development from the life of that poor boy, one of a family of twenty-six, whose early life was spent in tending sheep in the wilderness of Maine.


The years 1675 and 1676 were years of terrible experience for New England. The most dreadful of all the Indian outbreaks of that region—that known as King Philip's War—was raging, and hundreds of the inhabitants fell victims to the ruthless rage of their savage foes. Whole villages perished, their inhabitants being slain on the spot, or carried away captive for the more cruel fate of Indian vengeance. The province was in a state of terror, for none knew at what moment the terrible war-whoop might sound, and the murderous enemy be upon them with tomahawk and brand.

Everywhere the whites were on the alert. The farmer went to his fields with his musket as an indispensable companion. Outlying houses were guarded like fortresses. Even places of worship were converted into strongholds, and the people prayed with musket in hand, and, while listening to the exhortations of their pastors, kept keenly alive to the sounds without, for none could tell at what moment the foe might break in on their devotions.

In the frontier town of Hadley, Massachusetts, then on the northwestern edge of civilization, on a day in the summer of 1676, the people were thus all gathered at the meeting-house, engaged in divine service. It was a day of fasting and prayer, set aside to implore God's aid to relieve the land from the reign of terror which had come upon it. Yet the devout villagers, in their appeal for spiritual aid, did not forget the importance of temporal weapons. They had brought their muskets with them, and took part in the pious exercises with these carnal instruments of safety within easy reach of their hands.

Their caution was well advised. In the midst of their devotional exercises a powerful body of Indians made a sudden onslaught upon the village. They had crept up in their usual stealthy way, under cover of trees and bushes, and their wild yells as they assailed the outlying houses were the first intimation of their approach.

These alarming sounds reached the ears of the worshippers, and quickly brought their devotional services to an end. In an instant all thought of dependence upon the Almighty was replaced by the instinct of dependence upon themselves. Grasping their weapons, they hurried out, to find themselves face to face with the armed and exultant savages, who now crowded the village street, and whose cries of triumph filled the air with discordant sounds.

The people were confused and frightened, huddled together with little show of order or discipline, and void of the spirit and energy necessary to meet their threatening foe. The Indians were on all sides, completely surrounding them. The suddenness of the alarm and the evidence of imminent peril robbed the villagers of their usual vigor and readiness, signs of panic were visible, and had the Indians attacked at that moment the people must have been hurled back in disorderly flight, to become in great part the victims of their foes.

It was a critical moment. Was Hadley to suffer the fate of other frontier towns, or would the recent prayers of pastor and people bring some divine interposition in their favor? Yes; suddenly it seemed as if God indeed had come to their aid; for as they stood there in a state of nerveless dread a venerable stranger appeared in their midst, a tall, stately personage, with long white hair, and dressed in strange, old-fashioned garb, his countenance beaming with energy and decision.

"Quick," he cried, "into line and order at once! The Indians are about to charge upon you. Take heart, and prepare for them, or they will slaughter you like sheep."

With the air of one born to command, he hastily formed the band of villagers into military array, displaying such skill and ardor that their temporary fright vanished, to be succeeded by courage and confidence. Had not the Almighty sent this venerable stranger to their aid? Should they fear when led by God's messenger?

"Now, upon them!" cried their mysterious leader. "We must have the advantage of the assault!"

Putting himself at their head, he led them on with an ardor remarkable in one of his years. The savages, who had been swarming together preparatory to an attack, beheld with surprise this orderly rush forward of the villagers, and shrunk from their death-dealing and regular volleys. And the white-haired form who led their foes with such fearless audacity struck terror to their superstitious souls, filling them with dread and dismay.

The struggle that followed was short and decisive. Animated by the voice and example of their leader, the small band attacked their savage enemies with such vigor and show of discipline that in very few minutes the Indians were in full flight for the wilderness, leaving a considerable number of dead upon the ground. Of the villagers only two or three had fallen.

The grateful people, when the turmoil and confusion of the affray were over, turned to thank their venerable leader for his invaluable aid. To their surprise he was nowhere to be seen. He had vanished in the same mysterious manner as he had appeared. They looked at one another in bewilderment. What did this strange event signify? Had God really sent one of his angels from heaven, in response to their prayers, to rescue them from destruction? Such was the conclusion to which some of the people came, while the most of them believed that there was some miracle concerned in their strange preservation.

This interesting story, which tradition has preserved in the form here given, has a no less interesting sequel. We know, what most of the villagers never knew, who their preserver was, and how it happened that he came so opportunely to their rescue. To complete our narrative we must go back years in time, to the date of 1649, the year of the execution of Charles I. of England.

Fifty-nine signatures had been affixed to the death-warrant of this royal criminal. A number of the signers afterwards paid the penalty of that day's work on the scaffold. We are concerned here only with two of them, Generals Whalley and Goffe, who, after the death of Cromwell and the return of Charles II., fled for safety to New England, knowing well what would be their fate if found in their mother-land. A third of the regicides, Colonel Dixwell, afterwards joined them in America, but his story is void of the romance which surrounded that of his associates.

Whalley and Goffe reached Boston in July, 1660. The vessel that brought them brought also tidings that Charles II. was on the throne. The fugitives were well received. They had stood high in the Commonwealth, brought letters of commendation from Puritan ministers in England, and hoped to dwell in peace in Cambridge, where they decided to fix their residence. But the month of November brought a new story to Boston. In the Act of Indemnity passed by Parliament the names of Whalley and Goffe were among those left out. They had played a part in the execution of the king, and to the regicides no mercy was to be shown. Their estates were confiscated; their lives declared forfeited; any man who befriended them did so at his own peril.

These tidings produced excitement and alarm in Boston. The Puritans of the colony were all warmly inclined towards their endangered guests. Some would have protected them at all hazards; others felt inclined to help them to escape; a few thought it might be their duty to take them prisoners.

The illustrious fugitives settled this difficulty by privately leaving Cambridge and making their way overland to New Haven. Here they were well received. In truth, the Rev. John Davenport, one of the founders of the colony, did not hesitate to speak to his congregation in their behalf. We quote from his bold and significant words, whose slightly masked meaning his hearers failed not to understand.

"Withhold not countenance, entertainment, and protection from the people of God,—whom men may call fools and fanatics,—if any such come to you from other countries, as from France or England, or any other place. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers. Hide the outcasts, betray not him that wandereth. Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab. Be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler."

Mr. Davenport was not afraid to live up to the spirit of his words. For several weeks the regicides dwelt openly in his house. But meanwhile a proclamation from the king had reached Boston, ordering their arrest as traitors and murderers. News of its arrival was quickly received at New Haven. The fugitives, despite the sympathy of the people, were in imminent danger. Measures must be taken for their safety.

They left New Haven and proceeded to Milford, where they showed themselves in public. But by night they covertly returned, and for more than a week lay hid in Mr. Davenport's cellar. This cellar is still in existence, and the place in it where the fugitives are said to have hidden may still be seen.

But their danger soon grew more imminent. Peremptory orders came from England for their arrest. Governor Endicott felt obliged to act decisively. He gave commission to two young royalists who had recently come from England, empowering them to search through Massachusetts for the fugitives. Letters to the governors of the other colonies, requesting aid in their purpose, were also given them.

These agents of the king at once started on their mission of death. They had no difficulty in tracing the fugitives to New Haven. One person went so far as to tell them that the men they sought were secreted in Mr. Davenport's house. Stopping at Guilford, they showed their warrant to Mr. Leete, the deputy-governor, and demanded horses for their journey, and aid and power to search for and apprehend the fugitives.

Deputy Leete had little heart for this task. He knew very well where the fugitives were, but managed to make such excuses and find so many reasons for delay that the agents, who arrived on Saturday, were detained until Sunday, and then, as this was Puritan New England, could not get away till Monday. Meanwhile a secret messenger was on his way to New Haven, to warn the fugitives of their danger. On hearing this startling news they hastily removed from their hiding-place in Mr. Davenport's house, and were taken to a secluded mill two miles away.

The royal messengers reached New Haven and demanded the assistance of the authorities in their search. They failed to get it. Every obstacle was thrown in their way. They equally failed to find any trace of the fugitives, though the latter did not leave the immediate vicinity of the town. After two days at the mill they were taken to a hiding-place at a spot called Hatchet Harbor, and soon afterwards, finding this place too exposed, they removed to a cavern-like covert in a heap of large stones, near the summit of West Rock, not far from the town. Here they remained in hiding for several months, being supplied with food from a lonely farm-house in the neighborhood.

The royal agents, finding their search fruitless and their efforts to get aid from the magistrates vexatiously baffled, at length returned to Boston, where they told a bitter story of the obstinate and pertinacious contempt of his Majesty's orders displayed by these New Haven worthies. The chase thus given up, the fugitives found shelter in a house in Milford, where they dwelt in seclusion for two years.

But danger returned. The king demanded blood-revenge for his father's death. Commissioners from England reached Boston, armed with extraordinary powers of search. The pursuit was renewed with greater energy than before. The fugitives, finding the danger imminent, and fearing to bring their protectors into trouble, returned to their cave. Here they lay for some time in security, while the surrounding country was being actively scoured by parties of search. On one occasion, when out of their place of shelter, they were so nearly overtaken that they only escaped by hiding under a bridge. This was what is known as Neck Bridge, over Mill River. As they sat beneath it they heard above them the hoof-beats of their pursuers' horses on the bridge. The sleuth-hounds of the law passed on without dreaming how nearly their victims had been within their reach. This was not the only narrow escape of the fugitives. Several times they were in imminent danger of capture, yet fortune always came to their aid.



A day arrived in which the cave ceased to serve as a safe harbor of refuge. A party of Indians, hunting in the woods, discovered its lurking occupants. Fearing that the savages might betray them, to obtain the large reward offered, the fugitives felt it necessary to seek a new place of shelter. A promising plan was devised by their friends, who included all the pious Puritans of the colony. Leaving the vicinity of New Haven, and travelling by night only, the aged regicides made their way, through many miles of forest, to Hadley, then an outpost in the wilderness. Here the Rev. John Russell, who ministered to the spiritual wants of the inhabitants, gladly received and sheltered them. His house had been lately added to, and contained many rooms and closets. In doing this work a hiding-place had been prepared for his expected guests. One of the closets, in the garret, had doors opening into two chambers, while its floor-boards were so laid that they could be slipped aside and admit to a dark under-closet. From this there seems to have been a passage-way to the cellar.

With this provision for their retreat, in case the house should be searched, Mr. Russell gave harbor to the hunted regicides, the secret of their presence being known only to his family and one or two of the most trusty inhabitants. The fugitives, happily for them, had no occasion to avail themselves of the concealed closet. Their place of hiding remained for years unsuspected. In time the rigor of the search was given up, and for many years they remained here in safety, their secret being remarkably well kept. It was in 1664 that they reached Hadley. In 1676, when Colonel Goffe so opportunely served the villagers in their extremity, so little was it known that two strangers had dwelt for twelve years concealed in their midst, that some of the people, as we have said, decided that their rescuer must be an angel from heaven, in default of other explanation of his sudden appearance.

There is little more to say about them. General Whalley died at Hadley, probably in the year of the Indian raid, and was buried in the cellar of Mr. Russell's house, his secret being kept even after his death. His bones have since been found there. As for General Goffe, his place of exit from this earth is a mystery. Tradition says that he left Hadley, went "westward towards Virginia," and vanished from human sight and knowledge. The place of his death and burial remains unknown.

It may be said, in conclusion, that Colonel Dixwell joined his fellow-regicides in Hadley in 1665. He had taken the name of Davids, was not known to be in America, and was comparatively safe. He had no reason to hide, and dwelt in a retired part of the town, where his presence and intercourse doubtless went far to relieve the monotony of life of his fellows in exile. He afterwards lived many years in New Haven, where he spent much of his time in reading,—history being his favorite study,—in walking in the neighboring groves, and in intercourse with the more cultivated inhabitants, the Rev. Mr. Pierpont being his intimate friend. He married twice while here, and at his death left a wife and two children, who resumed his true name, which he made known in his last illness. His descendants are well known in New England, and the Dixwells are among the most respected Boston families of to-day.


Not until James II. became king of England was a determined effort made to take away the liberties of the American colonies. All New England, up to that time, had been virtually free, working under charters of very liberal character, and governing itself in its own way and with its own elected rulers. Connecticut, with whose history we are now concerned, received its charter in 1662, from Charles II., and went on happily and prosperously until James ascended the throne. This bigoted tyrant, who spent his short reign in seeking to overthrow the liberties of England, quickly determined that America needed disciplining, and that these much too independent colonists ought to be made to feel the dominant authority of the king. The New England colonies in particular, which claimed charter rights and disdained royal governors, must be made to yield their patents and privileges, and submit to the rule of a governor-general, appointed by the king, with paramount authority over the colonies.

Sir Edmund Andros, a worthy minion of a tyrant, was chosen as the first governor-general, and arrived at Boston in December, 1686, determined to bring these rampant colonists to a sense of their duty as humble subjects of his royal master. He quickly began to display autocratic authority, with an offensiveness of manner that disgusted the citizens as much as his acts of tyranny annoyed them. The several colonies were peremptorily ordered to deliver up their charters. With the response to this command we are not here concerned, except in the case of Connecticut, which absolutely refused.

Months passed, during which the royal representative aped kingly manners and dignity in Boston, and Connecticut went on undisturbed except by his wordy fulminations. But in October of the next year he made his appearance at Hartford, attended by a body-guard of some sixty soldiers and officers. The Assembly was in session. Sir Edmund marched with an important air into the chamber, and in a peremptory tone demanded that the charter should be immediately placed in his hands.

This demand put the members into an awkward dilemma. The charter was in Hartford, in a place easy of access; Sir Edmund was prepared to seize it by force if it were not quickly surrendered; how to save this precious instrument of liberty did not at once appear. The members temporized, received their unwelcome visitor with every show of respect, and entered upon a long and calm debate, with a wearisome deliberation which the impatience of the governor-general could not hasten or cut short.

Governor Treat, the presiding officer of the Assembly, addressed Sir Edmund in tones of remonstrance and entreaty. The people of America, he said, had been at the greatest expense and had suffered the most extreme hardships in planting the country; they had freely spent their blood and treasure in defending it against savage natives and foreign aggressors; and all this had been done for the honor and glory of the motherland. He himself had endured hardships and been environed by perils, and it would be like giving up his life to surrender the patent and privileges so dearly bought and so long enjoyed.

Argument of this kind was wasted on Sir Edmund. Remonstrance and appeal were alike in vain. It was the charter he wanted, not long-winded excuses, and he fumed and fretted while the slow-talking members wasted the hours in what he looked upon as useless argument.

Night had been drawing near on his entrance. Darkness settled upon the Assembly while the debate went on. Lights were now brought in,—the tallow candles of our colonial forefathers,—and placed upon the table round which the members sat. By this time Sir Edmund's impatience at their procrastination had deepened into anger, and he demanded the charter in so decided tones that the reluctant governor gave orders that it should be produced. The box containing it was brought into the chamber and laid upon the table, the cover removed, and there before their eyes lay the precious parchment, the charter of colonial liberty.

Still the members talked and procrastinated. But it is not easy to restrain the hound when within sight of the game which it has long pursued. Before the eyes of Sir Edmund lay that pestiferous paper which had given him such annoyance. His impatience was no longer to be restrained. In the midst of the long-drawn-out oratory of the members he rose and stepped towards the table to seize the object in dispute.

At that critical instant there came an unexpected diversion. During the debate a number of the more important citizens had entered the room, and stood near the table round which the members sat. Suddenly, from the midst of those people, a long cloak was deftly flung, with such sure aim that it fell upon the circle of blazing candles, extinguishing them all, and in a moment throwing the room into total darkness.

Confusion followed. There were quick and excited movements within the room. Outside, the crowd which had assembled set up a lusty cheer, and a number of them pushed into the chamber. The members stirred uneasily in their seats. Sir Edmund angrily exclaimed,—

"What means this, gentlemen? Is some treachery at work? Guard the charter! Light those candles instantly!"

The attendants hastened to obey; but haste in procuring light in those days had a different meaning than now. The lucifer-match had not yet been dreamed of. The flint-and-steel was a slow conception. Several minutes elapsed before the candles again shed their feeble glow through the room.

With the first gleam of light every eye was fixed upon the box which had contained the charter. It was empty! The charter was gone!

Just what Sir Edmund said on this occasion history has not recorded. Those were days in which the most exalted persons dealt freely in oaths, and it is to be presumed that the infuriated governor-general used words that must have sadly shocked the pious ears of his Puritan auditors.

But the charter had vanished, and could not be sworn back into the box. Where it had gone probably no one knew; certainly no one was willing to say. The members looked at one another in blank astonishment. The lookers-on manifested as blank an ignorance, though their faces beamed with delight. It had disappeared as utterly as if it had sunk into the earth, and the oaths of Sir Edmund and his efforts to recover it proved alike in vain.

But the mystery of that night after-history has revealed, and the story can now be told. In truth, some of those present in the hall knew far more than they cared to tell. In the darkness a quick-moving person had made a lane through the throng to a neighboring window whose sash was thrown up. Out of this he leaped to the ground below. Here people were thickly gathered.

"Make way," he said (or may have said, for his real words have not been preserved), "for Connecticut and liberty. I have the charter."

The cheers redoubled. The crowd separated and let him through. In a minute he had disappeared in the darkness beyond.

Sir Edmund meanwhile was storming like a fury in the hall; threatening the colony with the anger of the king; declaring that every man in the chamber should be searched; fairly raving in his disappointment. Outside, the bold fugitive sped swiftly along the dark and quiet streets, ending his course at length in front of a noble and imposing oak-tree, which stood before the house of the Honorable Samuel Wyllys, one of the colonial magistrates.

This tree was hollow; the opening slender without, large within. Deeply into this cavity the fugitive thrust his arm, pushing the precious packet as far as it would go, and covering it thickly with fine débris at the bottom of the trunk.



"So much for Sir Edmund," he said. "Let him now rob Connecticut of the charter of its liberties, if he can."

Tradition—for it must be acknowledged that this story is traditional, though probably true in its main elements—tells us that this daring individual was Captain Joseph Wadsworth, a bold and energetic militia-leader who was yet to play another prominent part in the drama of colonial life.

As for the Charter Oak, it long remained Hartford's most venerated historical monument. It became in time a huge tree, twenty-five feet in circumference near the roots. The cavity in which the charter was hidden grew larger year by year, until it was wide enough within to contain a child, though the orifice leading to it gradually closed until it was hardly large enough to admit a hand. This grand monument to liberty survived until 1856, when tempest in its boughs and decay in its trunk brought it in ruin to the earth.

What followed may be briefly told. The charter lost, Sir Edmund Andros assumed control, declared the privileges granted by it to be annulled, and issued a proclamation in which the liberties of the colonies were replaced by the tyranny of autocratic rule. The colonists were forced to submit, but their submission was one of discontent and barely-concealed revolt. Fortunately the tyranny of Sir Edmund lasted not long. The next year the royal tyrant of England was driven from his throne, and the chain which he had laid upon the neck of Britannia and her colonies was suddenly removed.

The exultation in America knew no bounds. Andros was seized and thrown into prison in Boston, to preserve him from a ruder fate from the mob. Early in the next year he was shipped to England. Captain Wadsworth withdrew the charter from the hiding-place which had safely kept its secret until that hour, and placed it in the hands of the delighted governor. Jurists in England had declared that it was still in force, and the former government was at once resumed, amid the most earnest manifestations of joy by the populace.

Yet the liberties of Connecticut were soon again to be imperilled, and were to be save once more by the intrepid daring of Captain Wadsworth.

It was now the year 1693. William of Orange had been for some years on the English throne. While far more liberal than his predecessor, his acts had somewhat limited the former freedom of the New England colonies. He did not attempt to appoint royal governors over these truculent people, but on Governor Fletcher, of New York, were conferred privileges which went far to set aside the charter rights of the neighboring colony.

In brief, this royal governor was given full power of command over the militia of Connecticut, an act in direct contravention of the charter, which placed the military control in the hands of the colonial authorities. Fletcher pressed his claim. The governor indignantly refused to yield his rights. The people ardently supported him.

Filled with blustering indignation, Governor Fletcher left New York and came to Hartford, determined that his authority should be acknowledged. He reached there on October 26, 1693.

He called upon the governor and other authorities, armed with the royal commission, and sternly demanded that the command of the militia should be handed over to him.

"You have played with me in this matter," he asserted. "Now I demand an answer, immediate, and in two words, Yes or No. And I require that the militia of Hartford shall be instantly ordered under arms."

"As for the latter, it shall be as you wish," answered the governor "As for the former, we deny your authority. Nor will I, as you suggest, consent to hold command as your representative."

The train-bands were ordered out. The demand had been expected, and no long time elapsed before these citizen-soldiers were assembled on the drill-ground of Hartford,—an awkward squad, probably, if we may judge from the train-bands of later days, but doubtless containing much good soldierly material.

At their head stood their senior officer, Captain Wadsworth, the same bold patriot who had so signally defeated a royal governor six years before. He was now to add to his fame by as signally defeating another royal governor.

When the New York potentate, accompanied by the governor and a number of the assemblymen, and by the members of his staff, reached the place, they found the valiant captain walking up and down before his men, busily engaged in putting them through their exercises.

Governor Fletcher stepped forward importantly, produced his commission and instructions, and ordered them to be read to the assembled troops. The person to whom he handed them unfolded the commission, advanced to the front of the line, and prepared to read. He did not know with whom he had to deal.

"Beat the drums!" cried Captain Wadsworth, in a stentorian voice.

Instantly there broke out a roar that utterly drowned the voice of the reader.

"Silence!" exclaimed Fletcher, angrily advancing.

The drums ceased their rattling uproar. Silence once more prevailed. The reader began again.

"Drum! drum, I say!" thundered Wadsworth.

Again such an uproar filled the air as only drum-heads beaten by vigorous arms can make.

"Silence! silence!" cried Fletcher, furiously. The drums ceased.

"Drum! drum, I say!" roared Wadsworth. Then, turning to the governor, and handling his sword significantly, he continued, in resolute tones, "If I am interrupted again I will make the sun shine through you in a minute."

This fierce threat ended the business. Governor Fletcher had no fancy for being riddled by this truculent captain of militia. King William's commission doubtless had its weight, but the king was three thousand miles away across the seas, and Captain Wadsworth and his trainbands were unpleasantly near. Governor Fletcher deemed it unwise to try too strongly the fiery temper of the Hartford militiaman; he and his suite returned hastily to New York, and that was the last that was heard of a royal commander for the militia of Connecticut.


To-day we may make our way from New York to Philadelphia in a two-hour "Flyer," with palace-car accommodations. To-morrow, perhaps, the journey will be made in ninety minutes. Such, at least, is the nearly-realized dream of railroad-men. A century and a half ago this journey took considerably more time, and was made with much less comfort. There is on record an interesting narrative of how the trip was made in 1723, which is worth giving as a contrast to present conditions.

The traveller was no less notable a personage than Benjamin Franklin, who, much to the after-advantage of the Quaker City, had run away from too severe an apprenticeship in Boston, failed to obtain employment in New York, and learned that work might be had in Philadelphia. The story of how he came thither cannot be told better than in his own homely language, so we will suffer him to speak for himself.



"Philadelphia was one hundred miles farther; I set out, however, in a boat for Amboy, leaving my chest and things to follow me round by sea. In crossing the bay, we met with a squall that tore our rotten sail to pieces, prevented our getting into the Kill, and drove us upon Long Island. In our way a drunken Dutchman, who was a passenger too, fell overboard; when he was sinking, I reached through the water to his shock pate and drew him up, so that we got him in again. His ducking sobered him a little, and he went to sleep, taking first out of his pocket a book, which he desired I would dry for him."

The book proved to be the "Pilgrim's Progress," in Dutch, well printed, and with copper-plate illustrations, a fact which greatly interested the book-loving traveller.

"On approaching the island, we found it was a place where there could be no landing, there being a great surge on the stony beach. So we dropped anchor, and swung out our cable towards the shore. Some people came down to the shore, and hallooed to us, as we did to them; but the wind was so high, and the surge so loud, that we could not understand each other. There were some small boats near the shore, and we made signs, and called to them to fetch us; but they either did not comprehend us, or it was impracticable, so they went off.

"Night approaching, we had no remedy but to have patience till the wind abated, and in the mean time the boatman and myself concluded to sleep, if we could; and so we crowded into the hatches, where we joined the Dutchman, who was still wet, and the spray, breaking over the head of our boat, leaked through to us, so that we were soon almost as wet as he. In this manner we lay all night, with very little rest; but the wind abating the next day, we made a shift to reach Amboy before night, having been thirty hours on the water, without victuals, or any drink but a bottle of filthy rum, the water we sailed on being salt."

The story seems hard to credit. The travellers had already spent fifteen times the period it now takes to make the complete journey, and were but fairly started; while they had experienced almost as much hardship as though they were wrecked mariners, cast upon a desolate coast. The remainder of the journey was no less wearisome. The traveller thus continues his narrative:

"In the evening I found myself very feverish, and went to bed; but having read somewhere that cold water drunk plentifully was good for a fever, I followed the prescription, and sweat plentifully most of the night. My fever left me, and in the morning, crossing the ferry, I proceeded on my journey on foot, having fifty miles to go to Burlington, where I was told I should find boats that would carry me the rest of the way to Philadelphia.

"It rained very hard all the day; I was thoroughly soaked, and by noon a good deal tired; so I stopped at a poor inn, where I stayed all night, beginning now to wish I had never left home. I made so miserable a figure, too, that I found, by the questions asked me, I was suspected to be some runaway indentured servant, and in danger of being taken up on that suspicion. However, I proceeded next day, and in the evening got to an inn, within eight or ten miles of Burlington, kept by one Dr. Brown. He entered into conversation with me while I took some refreshment, and, finding I had read a little, became very obliging and friendly. Our acquaintance continued all the rest of his life. He had been, I imagine, an ambulatory quack doctor, for there was no town in England, nor any country in Europe, of which he could not give a very particular account. He had some letters, and was ingenious, but he was an infidel, and wickedly undertook, some years after, to turn the Bible into doggerel verse, as Cotton had formerly done with Virgil. By this means he set many facts in a ridiculous light, and might have done mischief with weak minds if his work had been published, but it never was.

"At his house I lay that night, and arrived the next morning at Burlington, but had the mortification to find that the regular boats were gone a little before, and no other expected to go before Tuesday, this being Saturday, wherefore I returned to an old woman in the town, of whom I had bought some gingerbread to eat on the water, and asked her advice. She proposed to lodge me till a passage by some other boat occurred. I accepted her offer, being much fatigued by travelling on foot. Understanding I was a printer, she would have had me remain in that town and follow my business, being ignorant what stock was necessary to begin with. She was very hospitable, gave me a dinner of ox-cheek with great good-will, accepting only of a pot of ale in return; and I thought myself fixed till Tuesday should come.

"However, walking in the evening by the side of the river, a boat came by which I found was going towards Philadelphia, with several people in her. They took me in, and, as there was no wind, we rowed all the way; and about midnight, not having yet seen the city, some of the company were confident we must have passed it, and would row no farther; the others knew not where we were; so we put towards the shore, got into a creek, landed near an old fence, with the rails of which we made a fire, the night being cold, in October, and there we remained till daylight. Then one of the company knew the place to be Cooper's Creek, a little above Philadelphia, which we saw as soon as we got out of the creek, and arrived there about eight or nine o'clock on the Sunday morning, and landed at Market Street wharf."

The closing portion of this naïve narrative is as interesting in its way as the opening. The idea that Philadelphia could be passed in the darkness and not discovered seems almost ludicrous when we consider its present many miles of river front, and the long-drawn-out glow of illumination which it casts across the stream. Nothing could be more indicative of its village-like condition at the time of Franklin's arrival, and its enormous growth since. Nor are the incidents and conditions of the journey less striking. The traveller, making the best time possible to him, had been nearly five full days on the way, and had experienced a succession of hardships which would have thrown many men into a sick-bed at the end. It took youth, health, and energy to accomplish the difficult passage from New York to Philadelphia in that day; a journey which we now make between breakfast and dinner, with considerable time for business in the interval. Verily, the world moves. But to return to our traveller's story.

"I have been the more particular in this description of my journey, and shall be so of my first entry into that city, that you may in your mind compare such unlikely beginnings with the figure I have since made there. I was in my working-dress, my best clothes coming round by sea. I was dirty from my being so long in the boat. My pockets were stuffed out with shirts and stockings, and I knew no one, nor where to look for lodging. Fatigued with walking, rowing, and the want of sleep, I was very hungry; and my whole stock of cash consisted in a single dollar, and about a shilling in copper coin, which I gave to the boatmen for my passage. At first they refused it, on account of my having rowed, but I insisted on their taking it. Man is sometimes more generous when he has little money than when he has plenty; perhaps to prevent his being thought to have but little.

"I walked towards the top of the street, gazing about till near Market Street, where I met a boy with bread. I had often made a meal of dry bread, and, inquiring where he had bought it, I went immediately to the baker's he directed me to. I asked for biscuits, meaning such as we had at Boston; that sort, it seems, was not made in Philadelphia. I then asked for a three-penny loaf, and was told they had none. Not knowing the different prices, nor the names of the different sorts of bread, I told him to give me three-penny-worth of any sort. He gave me, accordingly, three great puffy rolls. I was surprised at the quantity, but took it, and having no room in my pockets, walked off with a roll under each arm, and eating the other.

"Thus I went up Market Street as far as Fourth Street, passing by the door of Mr. Read, my future wife's father, when she, standing at the door, saw me, and thought I made, as I certainly did, a most awkward, ridiculous appearance. Then I turned and went down Chestnut Street, and part of Walnut Street, eating my roll all the way, and, coming round, found myself again at Market Street wharf, near the boat I came in, to which I went for a draught of the river-water, and, being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to a woman and her child that came down the river in the boat with us, and were waiting to go farther.

"Thus refreshed, I walked again up the street, which by this time had many cleanly-dressed people in it, who were all walking the same way. I joined them, and was thereby led into the great meeting-house of the Quakers, near the market. I sat down among them, and, after looking round a while and hearing nothing said, became very drowsy through labor and want of rest the preceding night, I fell fast asleep, and continued so till the meeting broke up, when some one was kind enough to arouse me. This, therefore, was the first house I was in, or slept in, in Philadelphia."

There is nothing more simple, homely, and attractive in literature than Franklin's autobiographical account of the first period of his life, of which we have transcribed a portion, nor nothing more indicative of the great changes which time has produced in the conditions of this country, and which it produced in the life of our author. As for his journey from New York to Philadelphia, it presents, for the time involved, as great a series of adventures and hardships as does Stanley's recent journey through Central Africa. And as regards his own history, the contrast between the Franklin of 1723 and 1783 was as great as that which has come upon the city of his adoption. There is something amusingly ludicrous in the picture of the great Franklin, soiled with travel, a dollar in his pocket representing his entire wealth, walking up Market Street with two great rolls of bread under his arms and gnawing hungrily at a third; while his future wife peers from her door, and laughs to herself at this awkward youth, who looked as if he had never set foot on city street before.

We can hardly imagine this to be the Franklin who afterwards became the associate of the great and the admired of nations, who argued the cause of America before the assembled notables of England, who played a leading part in the formation of the Constitution of the United States, and to whom Philadelphia owes several of its most thriving and useful institutions. Millions of people have since poured into the City of Brotherly Love, but certainly no other journey thither has been nearly so momentous in its consequences as the humble one above described.


On the 31st day of October, in the year 1753, a young man, whose name was as yet unknown outside the colony of Virginia, though it was destined to attain world-wide fame, set out from Williamsburg, in that colony, on a momentous errand. It was the first step taken in a series of events which were to end in driving the French from North America, and placing this great realm under English control,—the opening movement in the memorable French and Indian War. The name of the young man was George Washington. His age was twenty-one years. He began thus, in his earliest manhood, that work in the service of his country which was to continue until the end.

The enterprise before the young Virginian was one that needed the energies of youth and the unyielding perseverance of an indefatigable spirit. A wilderness extended far and wide before him, partly broken in Virginia, but farther on untouched by the hand of civilization. Much of his route lay over rugged mountains, pathless save by the narrow and difficult Indian trails. The whole distance to be traversed was not less than five hundred and sixty miles, with an equal distance to return. The season was winter. It was a task calculated to try the powers and test the endurance of the strongest and most energetic man.

The contest between France and England for American soil was about to begin. Hitherto the colonists of those nations had kept far asunder,—the French in Canada and on the great lakes; the English on the Atlantic coast. Now the English were feeling their way westward, the French southward,—lines of movement which would touch each other on the Ohio. The touch, when made, was sure to be a hostile one.

England had established an "Ohio Company,"—ostensibly for trade, really for conquest. The French had built forts,—one at Presque Isle, on Lake Erie; one on French Creek, near its head-waters; a third at the junction of French Creek with the Alleghany. This was a bold push inland. They had done more than this. A party of French and Indians had made their way as far as the point where Pittsburgh now stands. Here they found some English traders, took them prisoners, and conveyed them to Presque Isle. In response to this, some French traders were seized by the Twightwee Indians, a tribe friendly to the English, and sent to Pennsylvania. The touch had taken place, and it was a hostile one.



Major Washington—he had been a Virginian adjutant-general, with the rank of major, since the age of nineteen—was chosen for the next step, that of visiting the French forts and demanding the withdrawal of their garrisons from what was claimed to be English territory. The mission was a delicate one. It demanded courage, discretion, and energy. Washington had them all. No better choice could have been made than of this young officer of militia.

The youthful pioneer proceeded alone as far as Fredericksburg. Here he engaged two companions, one as French, the other as Indian, interpreter, and proceeded. Civilization had touched the region before him, but not subdued it. At the junction of Will's Creek with the Potomac (now Cumberland, Maryland), he reached the extreme outpost of civilization. Before him stretched more than four hundred miles of unbroken wilderness. The snow-covered Alleghanies were just in advance. The chill of the coming winter already was making itself felt. Recent rains had swollen the streams. They could be crossed only on log-rafts, or by the more primitive methods of wading or swimming,—expedients none too agreeable in freezing weather. But youth and a lofty spirit halt not for obstacles. Washington pushed on.

At Will's Creek he added to his party. Here he was joined by Mr. Gist, an experienced frontiersman, who knew well the ways of the wilderness, and by four other persons, two of them Indian traders. On November 14 the journey was resumed. Hardships now surrounded the little party of adventurers. Miles of rough mountain had to be climbed; streams, swollen to their limits, to be crossed; unbroken and interminable forests to be traversed. Day after day they pressed onward, through difficulties that would have deterred all but the hardiest and most vigorous of men. In ten days they had accomplished an important section of their journey, and reached those forks of the Ohio which were afterwards to attain such celebrity both in war and peace,—as the site of Fort Duquesne and of the subsequent city of Pittsburgh.

Twenty miles farther on the Indian settlement of Logstown was reached. Here Washington called the Indian chiefs together in conference. The leading chief was known as Tanacharison (Half-King), an Indian patriot, who had been much disturbed by the French and English incursions. He had been to the French forts. What he had said to their commanders is curious, and worthy of being quoted:

"Fathers, I am come to tell you your own speeches; what your own mouths have declared. Fathers, you in former days set a silver basin before us, wherein was the leg of a beaver, and desired all the nations to come and eat of it,—to eat in peace and plenty, and not to be churlish to one another; and that, if any person should be found to be a disturber, I here lay down by the edge of the dish a rod, which you must scourge them with; and if your father should get foolish in my old days, I desire you may use it upon me as well as others. Now, fathers, it is you who are the disturbers in this land, by coming and building your towns, and taking it away unknown to us, and by force....

"Fathers, I desire you may hear me in civilness; if not, we must handle that rod which was laid down for the use of the obstreperous.... Fathers, both you and the English are white; we live in a country between; therefore, the land belongs to neither one nor the other. The Great Being above allowed it to be a place of residence for us; so, fathers, I desire you to withdraw, as I have done our brothers the English: for I will keep you at arms' length. I lay this down as a trial for both, to see which will have the greatest regard for it, and that side we will stand by, and make equal sharers with us. Our brothers, the English, have heard this, and I now come to tell it to you; for I am not afraid to discharge you off this land."

The poor Half-King was to find that he had undertaken a task like that of discharging the wolves out of the sheep-cote. The French heard his protest with contempt, and went on building their forts. He thereupon turned to the English, whom he, in the simplicity of his heart, imagined had no purpose save that of peaceful trade. His "fathers" had contemned him; to his "brothers" he turned in amity.

Washington told his purposes to his dusky auditors. He had come to warn the French intruders off the Indian lands. He desired a guide to conduct him to the French fort, one hundred and twenty miles distant. His statement pleased the Indians. Their English "brothers" were in sympathy with them. They would help them to recover their lands. The generosity of their white brothers must have seemed highly meritorious to the simple savages. They had yet to learn that the French and the English were the two millstones, and they and their lands the corn to be ground between.

The Half-King, with two other chiefs (Jeskakake and White Thunder by name), volunteered to guide the whites. A hunter of noted skill also joined them. Once more the expedition set out. The journey was a terrible one. Winter had set in; rain and snow fell almost unceasingly; the forest was next to impassable; great were their toils, severe their hardships. On December 5 they reached the French outpost at Venango (now Franklin), where French Creek joins the Alleghany. Here they were met by Captain Joncaire, the French commandant, with a promising show of civility. Secretly, however, the astute Frenchman sought to rob Washington of his Indians. Fortunately, the aborigines knew the French too well to be cajoled, and were ready to accompany Washington when he set out on his remaining journey. Their route now led up French Creek to Fort Le Boeuf, on the head-waters of that stream. This they reached on the 12th, after a wearisome experience of frontier travel. Forty-one days had passed since Washington left Williamsburg.

The commandant here was M. de St. Pierre, an elderly man, of courteous manners, a knight of the order of St. Louis. He received Washington cordially, treated him with every hospitality while in the fort, did everything except to comply with Governor Dinwiddie's order to leave the works.

Washington's instruction were conveyed in a letter from the governor of Virginia, which asserted that the lands of the Ohio and its tributaries belonged to England, declared that the French movements were encroachments, asked by whose authority an armed force had crossed the lakes, and demanded their speedy departure from English territory.

St. Pierre's reply was given in a sealed letter. It declared that he was a soldier, his duty being to obey orders, not to discuss treaties. He was there under instructions from the governor of Canada, here he meant to stay. Such was the purport of the communication. The tone was courteous, but in it was no shadow of turning.

While the Frenchman was using the pen, Washington was using his eyes. He went away with an accurate mental picture of the fort, its form, size, construction, location, and the details of its armament. His men counted the canoes in the river. The fort lay about fifteen miles south of Lake Erie. A plan of it, drawn by Washington, was sent to England.

At the time fixed for their return, Washington found the snow falling so fast that he decided to make his journey to Venango by canoe, the horses, which they had used in the outward journey, being forwarded through the forest with their baggage. St. Pierre was civil to the last. He was as hospitable as polite. The canoe was plentifully stocked with provisions and liquors. But secretly artifices were practised to lure away the Indians. The Half-King was a man whose friendship was worth bidding for. Promises were made, present were given, the Indians were offered every advantage of friendship and trade.

But the Half-King was not to be placated by fine words. He knew the French. Delay was occasioned, however, of which Washington complained, and hinted at the cause.

"You are certainly mistaken, Major Washington," declared the polite Frenchman. "Nothing of the kind has come to my knowledge. I really cannot tell why the Indians delay. They are naturally inclined to procrastinate, you know. Certainly, everything shall be done on my part to get you off in good time."

Finally, the Indians proving immovable in their decision, the party got off. The journey before them was no pleasure one, even with the advantage of a water-route, and a canoe as a vehicle of travel. Rocks and drifting trees obstructed the channel. Here were shallows; there, dangerous currents. The passage was slow and wearisome, and not without its perils.

"Many times," says Washington, "all hands were obliged to get out, and remain in the water half an hour or more in getting over the shoals. At one place the ice had lodged and made it impassable by water, and we were obliged to carry our canoe across a neck of land a quarter of a mile over."

In six days they reached Venango, having journeyed one hundred and thirty miles by the course of the stream. The horses had preceded them, but had reached the fort in so pitiable a condition as to render them hardly fit to carry the baggage and provisions. Washington, Mr. Gist, and Mr. Vanbraam, the French interpreter, clad in Indian walking costume, proceeded on foot, the horses following with their drivers. After three days' journey the poor animals had become so feeble, the snow so deep, the cold so severe, that Washington and Gist determined to push forward alone, leaving Mr. Vanbraam as leader of the remainder of the party.

Gun in hand, and knapsack—containing his food and papers—on back, the intrepid explorer pushed forward with his companion, who was similarly equipped. Leaving the path they had been following, they struck into a straight trail through the woods, purposing to reach the Alleghany a few miles above the Ohio.

The journey proved an adventurous one. They met an Indian, who agreed to go with them and show them the nearest way. Ten or twelve miles were traversed, at the end of which Washington grew very foot-sore and weary. The Indian had carried his knapsack, and now wished to relieve him of his gun. This Washington refused, whereupon the savage grew surly. He pressed them to keep on, however, saying that there were Ottawa Indians in the forest, who might discover and scalp them if they lay out at night. By going on they would reach his cabin and be safe.

They advanced several miles farther. Then the Indian, who had fallen behind them, suddenly stopped. On looking back they perceived that he had raised his gun, and was aiming at them. The next instant the piece was discharged.

"Are you shot?" cried Washington.

"No," answered Gist.

"After this fellow, then."

The Indian had run to the shelter of a large white oak, behind which he was loading as fast as possible. The others were quickly upon him, Gist with his gun at his shoulder.

"Do not shoot," said Washington. "We had best not kill the man, but we must take care of him."

The savage was permitted to finish his loading, even to putting in a ball, but his companions took good heed to give him no further opportunity to play the traitor. At a little run which they soon reached they bade the Indian to make a fire, on pretence that they would sleep there. They had no such intention, however.

"As you will not have him killed," said Gist, "we must get him away, and then we must travel all night."

Gist turned to the Indian. "I suppose you were lost, and fired your gun," he said, with a transparent affectation of innocence.

"I know the way to my cabin," replied the Indian "It is not far away."

"Well, then, do you go home. We are tired, but will follow your track in the morning. Here is a cake of bread for you, and you must give us meat in the morning."

The savage was glad enough to get away. Gist followed and listened, that he might not steal back on them. Then they went half a mile farther, where they made a fire, set their compass, and, after a short period of rest, took to the route again and travelled all night.

The next night they reached the Alleghany. Here they were destined to experience a dangerous adventure. They had expected to cross on the ice, but the river proved to be frozen only for a short distance from the shores. That night they slept with the snow for a bed, their blankets for a covering. When dawn appeared the same dubious prospect confronted them. The current of the river still swept past, loaded with broken ice.

"There is nothing for it but a raft," said Washington. "And we have but one hatchet to aid us in making it. Let us to work."

To work they fell, but it was sunset before the raft was completed. Not caring to spend another night where they were, they launched the raft and pushed from shore. It proved a perilous journey. Before the stream was half crossed they were so jammed in the floating ice that it seemed every moment as if their frail support would sink, and they perish in the swift current. Washington tried with his setting-pole to stop the raft and let the ice run by. His effort ended unfortunately. Such was the strength of the current that the ice was driven against the pole with a violence that swept him from his feet and hurled him into water ten feet deep. Only that chance which seems the work of destiny saved him. He fell near enough to the raft to seize one of its logs, and after a sharp scramble was up again, though dripping with icy water. They continued their efforts, but failed to reach either shore, and in the end they were obliged to spring from their weak support to an island, past which the current was sweeping the raft.

The escape was almost like the proverbial one "from the frying-pan to the fire." The island was destitute of shelter. As the night advanced the air grew colder, and the adventurers suffered severely. Mr. Gist had his hands and feet frozen,—a disaster which Washington, despite his wetting, fortunately escaped. The morning dawned at length. Hope returned to their hearts. The cold of the night had done one service, it had frozen the water between the island and the eastern bank of the stream. The ice bore their weight. They crossed in safety, and the same day reached a trading-post, recently formed, near the ground subsequently to be celebrated as that of Braddock's defeat.

Here they rested two or three days, Gist recovering from the effects of his freezing, Washington improving the opportunity to pay a visit to Queen Aliquippa, an Indian princess, whose palace—if we may venture to call it so—was near by. The royal lady had been angry that he had neglected her on his way out. This visit, an apology, and a present healed her wounded feelings, and disposed her to a gracious reception.

Nothing could be learned of Vanbraam and the remainder of the party. Washington could not wait for them. He hurried forward with Gist, crossed the Alleghanies to Will's Creek, and, leaving his companion there, hastened onward to Williamsburg, anxious to put his despatches in Governor Dinwiddie's hands. He reached there on January 16, having been absent eleven weeks, during which he had traversed a distance of eleven hundred miles.

What followed is matter of common history. Dinwiddie was incensed at St. Pierre's letter. The French had come to stay; that was plain. If the English wanted a footing in the land they must be on the alert. A party was quickly sent to the Ohio forks to build a fort, Washington having suggested this as a suitable plan. But hardly was this fort begun before it was captured by the French, who hastened to erect one for themselves on the spot.

Washington, advancing with a supporting force, met a French detachment in the woods, which he attacked and defeated. It was the opening contest of the French and Indian War.

As for Fort Duquesne, which the French had built, it gave rise to the most disastrous event of the war, the defeat of General Braddock and his army, on their march to capture it. It continued in French hands till near the end of the war, its final capture by Washington being nearly the closing event in the contest which wrested from the hands of the French all their possessions on the American continent.


The vicinity of the mountain-girdled, island-dotted, tourist-inviting Lake George has perhaps been the scene of more of the romance of war than any other locality that could be named. Fort Ticonderoga, on the ridge between that beautiful sheet of water and Lake Champlain, is a point vital with stirring memories, among which the striking exploit of Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain boys is of imperishable interest. Fort William Henry, at the lower end of Lake George, is memorable as the locality of one of the most nerve-shaking examples of Indian treachery and barbarity, a scene which Cooper's fruitful pen has brought well within the kingdom of romance. The history of the whole vicinity, in short, is laden with picturesque incident, and the details of fact never approached those of romantic fiction more closely than in the annals of this interesting region.

Israel Putnam, best known to us as one of the most daring heroes of the Revolution, began here his career, in the French and Indian War, as scout and ranger, and of no American frontiersman can a more exciting series of adventures be told. Some of these adventures it is our purpose here to give.

After the Fort William Henry massacre, the American forces were concentrated in Fort Edward, on the head-waters of the Hudson; Putnam, with his corps of Rangers, occupying an outpost station, on a small island near the fort. Fearing a hostile visit from the victorious French, the commander, General Lyman, made all haste to strengthen his defences, sending a party of a hundred and fifty men into the neighboring forest to cut timber for that purpose. Captain Little, with fifty British regulars, was deputized to protect these men at their labors. This supporting party was posted on a narrow ridge leading to the fort, with a morass on one side, a creek on the other, and the forest in front.

One morning, at daybreak, a sentinel who stood on the edge of the morass, overlooking the dense thicket which filled its depths, was surprised at what seemed to him, in the hazy light, a flight of strange birds coming from the leafy hollow. One after another of these winged objects passed over his head. After he had observed them a moment or two, he saw one of them strike a neighboring tree, and cling quivering to its trunk. A glance was enough for the drowsy sentinel. He was suddenly wide awake, and his musket and voice rang instant alarm, for the bird which he had seen was a winged Indian arrow. He had been made a target for ambushed savages, eager to pick him off without alarming the party which he guarded.

A large force of Indians had crept into the morass during the night, with the hope of cutting off the laborers and the party of support. The sentinel's alarm shot unmasked them. Whooping like discovered fiends, they flew from their covert upon the unarmed laborers, shot and tomahawked those within reach, and sent the others in panic flight to the fort. Captain Little and his band flew to the rescue, and checked the pursuit of the savages by hasty volleys, but soon found themselves so pressed by superior numbers that the whole party was in danger of being surrounded and slain.

In this extremity Captain Little sent a messenger to General Lyman, imploring instant aid. He failed to obtain it. The over-cautious commander, filled with the idea that the whole French and Indian army was at hand, drew in his outposts with nervous haste, shut the gates of the fort, and left the little band to its fate.

Fortunately, the volleys of musketry had reached the ears of Major Putnam, on his island outpost. Immediately afterwards his scouts brought him word that Captain Little was surrounded by Indians, and in imminent danger of destruction. Without an instant's hesitation the brave Putnam plunged into the water, shouting to his men to follow him, and waded to the shore. This reached, they dashed hastily towards the scene of the contest. Their route led them past the walls of the fort, on whose parapets stood the alarmed commander.

"Halt!" cried General Lyman. "Come into the fort. The enemy is in overwhelming force. We can spare no more men."

To these words, or similar ones, spoken by General Lyman, Putnam returned a vague reply, intended for an apology, but having more the tone of a defiance. Discipline and military authority must stand aside when brave men were struggling with ruthless savages. Without waiting to hear the general's response to his apology, the gallant partisan dashed on, and in a minute or two more had joined the party of regulars, who were holding their ground with difficulty.

"On them!" cried Putnam. "They will shoot us down here! Forward! We must rout them out from their ambush!"

His words found a responsive echo in every heart. With loud shouts the whole party charged impetuously into the morass, and in a minute were face to face with the concealed savages. This sudden onslaught threw the Indians into a panic. They broke and fled in every direction, hotly pursued by their revengeful foes, numbers of them being killed in the flight. The chase was not given up until it had extended miles into the forest.

Triumphantly then the victors returned to the fort, Putnam alone among them expecting reprimand. He had never before disobeyed the orders of his superior. He well knew the rigidity of military discipline and its necessity. Possibly General Lyman might not be content with a simple reprimand, but might order a court-martial. Putnam entered the fort, not fully at ease in his mind.

As it proved, he had no occasion for anxiety. The general recognized that alarm had led him too far. He welcomed the whole party with hearty commendation, and chose quite to forget the fact that Major Putnam was guilty of a flagrant disregard of orders, in view of the fact, of more immediate importance to himself, that his daring subaltern had saved him from public reprobation for exposing a brave party to destruction.

It was not long after this scene that Putnam took the leading part in another memorable affair, in which his promptitude, energy, and decision have become historical. The barracks within the fort took fire. Twelve feet from them stood the magazine, containing three hundred barrels of powder. The fort and its defenders were in imminent danger of being blown to atoms. Putnam, who still occupied his island outpost, saw the smoke and flames rising, and hastened with all speed to the fort. When he reached there the barracks appeared to be doomed, and the flames were rapidly approaching the magazine. As for the garrison, it was almost in a state of panic, and next to nothing was being done to avert the danger.

A glance was sufficient for the prompt and energetic mind of the daring ranger. In a minute's time he had organized a line of soldiers, leading through a postern-gate to the river, and each one bearing a bucket. The energetic major mounted a ladder, received the water as it came, and poured it into the flaming building. The heat was intense, the smoke suffocating; so near were the flames that a pair of thick mittens were quickly burned from his hands. Calling for another pair, he dipped them into the water and continued his work.

"Come down!" cried Colonel Haviland. "It is too dangerous there. We must try other means."

"There are no means but to fight the enemy inch by inch," replied Putnam. "A moment's yielding on our part may prove fatal."

His cool trepidity gave new courage to the colonel, who exclaimed, as he urged the others to renewed exertions,—

"If we must be blown up, we will all go together."

Despite Putnam's heroic efforts, the flames spread. Soon the whole barracks were enveloped, and lurid tongues of fire began to shoot out alarmingly towards the magazine. Putnam now descended, took his station between the two buildings, and continued his active service, his energy and audacity giving new life and activity to officers and men. The outside planks of the magazine caught. They were consumed. Only a thin timber partition remained between the flames and fifteen tons of powder. This, too, was charred and smoking. Destruction seemed inevitable. The consternation was extreme.

But there, in the scorching heat of the flames, covered with falling cinders, threatened with instant death, stood the undaunted Putnam, still pouring water on the smoking timbers, still calling to the men to keep steadily to their work. And thus he continued till the rafters of the barracks fell in, the heat decreased, and the safety of the magazine was insured.

For an hour and a half he had fought the flames. His hands, face, almost his whole body, were scorched and blistered. When he pulled off his second pair of mittens the skin came with them. Several weeks passed before he recovered from the effects of his hard battle with fire. But he had the reward of success, and the earnest thanks and kind attentions of officers and men alike, who felt that to him alone they owed the safety of the fort, and the escape of many, if not all, of the garrison from destruction.

Among Putnam's many adventures, there are two others which have often been told, but are worthy of repetition. On one occasion he was surprised by a large party of Indians, when with a few men in a boat at the head of the rapids of the Hudson, at Fort Miller. It was a frightfully perilous situation. To stay where he was, was to be slaughtered; to attempt crossing the stream would bring him under the Indian fire; to go down the falls promised instant death. Which expedient should he adopt? He chose the latter, preferring to risk death from water rather than from tomahawk or bullet.

The boat was pushed from the shore and exposed to the full force of the current. In a minute or two it had swept beyond the range of the Indian weapons. But death seemed inevitable. The water rushed on in foaming torrents, whirling round rocks, sweeping over shelves, pouring down in abrupt falls, shooting onward with the wildest fury. It seemed as if only a miracle could save the voyagers.

Yet with unyielding coolness Putnam grasped the helm; while his keen eye scanned the peril ahead, his quick hand met every danger as it came. Incessantly the course of the boat was changed, to avoid the protruding rocks. Here it was tossed on the billows, there it shot down inclined reaches, now it seemed plunging into a boiling eddy, now it whirled round a threatening obstacle; like a leaf in the tempest it was borne onward, and at length, to the amazement of its inmates themselves, and the astoundment of the Indians, it floated safely on the smooth waters below, after a passage of perils such as have rarely been dared. The savages gave up the chase. A man who could safely run those rapids seemed to them to bear a charmed life.



The other story mentioned is one indicative of Putnam's wit and readiness. The army was now encamped in the forest, in a locality to the eastward of Lake George. While here, the Indians prowled through the woods around it, committing depredations here and there, picking off sentinels, and doing other mischief. They seemed to have impunity in this work, and defied the utmost efforts at discovery. One outpost in particular was the seat of a dread mystery. Night after night the sentinel at this post disappeared, and was not heard of again. Some of the bravest men of the army were selected to occupy the post, with orders, if they should hear any noise, to call out "Who goes there?" three times, and if no answer came, to fire. Yet the mysterious disappearances continued, until the men refused to accept so dangerous a post. The commander was about to draw a sentinel by lot, when Major Putnam solved the difficulty by offering to stand guard for the coming night. The puzzled commander promptly accepted his offer, instructing him, as he had done the others,—

"If you hear any sound from without the lines, you will call 'Who goes there?' three times, and then, if no answer be given, fire."

Putnam promised to obey, and marched to his post. Here he examined the surrounding locality with the utmost care, fixed in his mind the position of every point in the neighborhood, saw that his musket was in good order, and began his monotonous tramp, backward and forward.

For several hours all remained silent, save for the ordinary noises of the woodland. At length, near midnight, a slight rustling sound met his keen ears. He listened intently. Some animal appeared to be stealthily approaching. Then there came a crackling sound, as of a hog munching acorns. Putnam's previous observation of the locality enabled him to judge very closely the position of this creature, and he was too familiar with Indian artifices, and too sensible of the danger of his position, to let even a hog pass unchallenged. Raising his musket to his shoulder, and taking deliberate aim at the spot indicated, he called out, in strict obedience to orders, "Who goes there? three times," and instantly pulled the trigger.

A loud groaning and struggling noise followed. Putnam quickly reloaded and ran forward to the spot. Here he found what seemed a large bear, struggling in the agony of death. But a moment's observation showed the wide-awake sentinel that the seeming bear was really a gigantic Indian, enclosed in a bear-skin, in which, disguised, he had been able to approach and shoot the preceding sentinels. Putnam had solved the mystery of the solitary post. The sentinels on that outpost ceased, from that moment, to be disturbed.

Numerous other adventures of Major Putnam, and encounters with the Indians and the French rangers, might be recounted, but we must content ourselves with the narrative of one which ended in the captivity of our hero, and his very narrow escape from death in more than one form. As an illustration of the barbarity of Indian warfare it cannot but prove of interest.

It was the month of August, 1758. A train of baggage-wagons had been cut off by the enemy's rangers. Majors Putnam and Rogers, with eight hundred men, were despatched to intercept the foe, retake the spoils, and punish them for their daring. The effort proved fruitless. The enemy had taken to their canoes and escaped before their pursuers could overtake them.

Failing in this expedition, they camped out on Wood Creek and South Bay, with the hope of cutting off some straggling party of the enemy. Here they were discovered by French scouts, and, having reason to fear an attack in force, it was deemed most prudent to return to head-quarters at Fort Edward.

The route proved difficult. It lay through dense forest, impeded by fallen trees and thick undergrowth. They were obliged to advance in Indian file, cutting a path as they went. When night came they encamped on the bank of Clear River. The next morning, while the others were preparing to resume the march, Major Rogers, with a foolhardy imprudence that was little less than criminal in their situation, amused himself by a trial of skill with a British officer in firing at a mark.

The result was almost fatal. Molang, the celebrated French partisan, had hastily left Ticonderoga with five hundred men, on hearing of the presence of this scouting party of provincials, and was now near at hand. The sound of the muskets gave him exact information as to the position of their camp. Hastening forward, he laid an ambuscade on the line of march of his foes, and awaited their approach.

Onward through the thicket came the unsuspecting provincials. They had advanced a mile, and were on the point of emerging from the dense growth into the more open forest, when yells broke from the bushes on both sides of their path, and a shower of bullets was poured into the advance ranks.

Putnam, who led the van, quickly bade his men to return the fire, and passed the word back for the other divisions to hasten up. The fight soon became a hand-to-hand one. The creek was close by, but it could not be crossed in the face of the enemy, and Putnam bade his men to hold their ground. A sharp fight ensued, now in the open, now from behind trees, in Indian fashion. Putnam had discharged his piece several times, and once more pulled trigger, with the muzzle against the breast of a powerful Indian. His piece missed fire. Instantly the warrior dashed forward, tomahawk in hand, and by threat of death compelled his antagonist to surrender. Putnam was immediately disarmed and bound to a tree, and his captor returned to the fight.

The battle continued, one party after the other being forced back. In the end, the movements of the struggling foes were such as to bring the tree to which Putnam was bound directly between their lines. He was like a target for both parties. Balls flew past him from either side. Many of them struck the tree, while his coat was pierced by more than one bullet. So obstinate was the contest that for an hour the battle raged about him, his peril continuing extreme. Nor was this his only danger. During the heat of the conflict a young Indian hurled a tomahawk several times at his head, out of mischief more than malice, but with such skilful aim that the keen weapon more than once grazed his skin and buried its edge in the tree beside his head. With still greater malice, a French officer of low grade levelled his musket at the prisoner's breast and attempted to discharge it. Fortunately for Putnam it missed fire. The prisoner vainly solicited more merciful treatment. The heartless villain thrust the muzzle of his gun violently against the captive's ribs, and in the end gave him a painful blow on the jaw with the butt-end of his piece.

The battle ended at length in the triumph of the provincials. They drove the French from the field. But they failed to rescue Putnam. Before retiring, the Indian who had made him captive untied him, and forced him to accompany the retreating party. When a safe distance had been reached, the prisoner was deprived of his coat, vest, shoes, and stockings, his shoulders were loaded with the packs of the wounded, and his wrists were tied behind him as tightly as they could be drawn. In this painful condition he was forced to walk for miles through the woodland paths, until the party halted to rest.

By this time his hands were so swollen from the tightness of the cord that the pain was unbearable, while his feet bled freely from their many scratches. Exhausted with his burden and wild with torment, he asked the interpreter to beg the Indians either to loose his hands or knock him on the head, and end his torture at once. His appeal was heard by a French officer, who immediately order his hands to be unbound and some of his burden to be removed. Shortly afterwards the Indian who had captured him, and who had been absent with the wounded, came up and expressed great indignation at his treatment. He gave him a pair of moccasins, and seemed kindly disposed towards him.

Unfortunately for the captive, this kindly savage was obliged to resume his duty with the wounded, leaving Putnam with the other Indians, some two hundred in number, who marched in advance of the French contingent of the party towards the selected camping-place. On the way their barbarity to their helpless prisoner continued, culminating in a blow with a tomahawk, which made a deep wound in his left cheek.

This cruel treatment was but preliminary to a more fatal purpose. It was their intention to burn their captive alive. No sooner had they reached their camping-ground than they led him into the forest depths, stripped him of his clothes, bound him to a tree, and heaped dry fuel in a circle round him. While thus engaged they filled the air with the most fearful sounds to which their throats could give vent, a pandemonium of ear-piercing yells and screams. The pile prepared, it was set on fire. The flames spread rapidly through the dry brush. But by a chance that seemed providential, at that moment a sudden shower sent its rain-drops through the foliage, extinguished the increasing fire, and dampened the fuel.

No sooner was the rain over than the yelling savages applied their torches again to the funeral pile of their living victim. The dampness checked their efforts for a time, but at length the flames caught, and a crimson glow slowly made its way round the circle of fuel. The captive soon felt the scorching heat. He was tied in such a way that he could move his body, and he involuntarily shifted his position to escape the pain,—an evidence of nervousness that afforded the highest delight to his tormentors, who expressed their exultation in yells, dances, and wild gesticulations. The last hour of the brave soldier seemed at hand. He strove to bring resolution to his aid, and to fix his thoughts on a happier state of existence beyond this earth, the contemplation of which might aid him to bear without flinching, a short period of excruciating pain.

At this critical moment, when death in its most horrid form stared him in the face, relief came. A French officer, who had been told of what was in progress, suddenly bounded through the savage band, kicked the blazing brands to right and left, and with a stroke of his knife released the imperilled captive. It was Molang himself. An Indian who retained some instincts of humanity had informed him of what was on foot. The French commander reprimanded his barbarian associates severely, and led the prisoner away, keeping him by his side until he was able to transfer him to the care of the gigantic Indian who had captured him.

This savage seemed to regard him with feelings of kindness. He offered him some biscuits, but finding that the wound in his cheek and the blow he had received on the jaw prevented him from chewing, he soaked them in water till they could be swallowed easily. Yet, despite his kindness, he took extraordinary care that his prisoner should not escape. When the camp was made, he forced the captive to lie on the ground, stretched each arm at full length, and bound it to a young tree, and fastened his legs in the same manner. Then a number of long and slender poles were cut and laid across his body from head to foot, on the ends of which lay several of the Indians.

Under such circumstances escape could not even be thought of, nor was a moment's comfort possible. The night seemed infinitely extended, the only relief that came to the prisoner, as he himself relates, being the reflection of what a ludicrous subject the group, of which he was the central figure, would have made for a painter.

The next day he was given a blanket and moccasins, and allowed to march without being loaded with packs. A little bear's meat was furnished him, whose juice he was able to suck. At night the party reached Ticonderoga, where he was placed in charge of a French guard, and his sufferings came to an end. The savages manifested their chagrin at his escape by insulting grimaces and threatening gestures, but were not allowed to offer him any further indignity or violence. After an examination by the Marquis de Montcalm, who was in command at Ticonderoga, he was sent to Montreal, under charge of a French officer, who treated him in a humane manner.

Major Putnam was a frightful object on reaching Montreal, the little clothing allowed him being miserably dirty and ragged, his beard and hair dishevelled, his legs torn by thorns and briers, his face gashed, blood-stained, and swollen. Colonel Schuyler, a prisoner there, beheld his plight with deep commiseration, supplied him with clothing and money, and did his utmost to alleviate his condition.

When shortly afterwards an exchange of prisoners was being made, in which Colonel Schuyler was to be included, he, fearing that Putnam would be indefinitely held should his importance as a partisan leader become known, used a skilful artifice to obtain his release. Speaking to the governor with great politeness and seeming indifference of purpose, he remarked,—

"There is an old man here who is a provincial major. He is very desirous to be at home with his wife and children. He can do no good here, nor anywhere else. I believe your excellency had better keep some of the young men, who have no wives or children to care for, and let this old fellow go home with me."

His artifice was effective. Putnam was released, and left Montreal in company with his generous friend. He took further part in the war, at the end of which, at the Indian village of Cochuawaga, near Montreal, he met again the Indian whose prisoner he had been. The kindly savage was delighted to see him again, and entertained him with all the friendship and hospitality at his command. At a later date, when Putnam took part in the Pontiac war, he met again this old chief, who was now an ally of the English, and who marched side by side with his former prisoner to do battle with the ancient enemies of his tribe.


The relations between the Indians and the European colonists of America were, during nearly the whole colonial and much of the subsequent period, what we now suggestively entitle "strained." There were incessant aggressions of the colonists, incessant reprisals by the aborigines, while the warring whites of America never hesitated to use these savage auxiliaries in their struggles for territory and power. The history of this country is filled with details of Indian assaults on forts and settlements, ambushes, massacres, torturings, and acts of duplicity and ferocity innumerable. Yet every instance of Indian hostility has ended in the triumph of the whites, the advance of the army of colonization a step further, and the gradual subjugation of American savagery, animate and inanimate, to the beneficent influences of civilization.

These Indian doings are frequently sickening in their details. The story of America cannot be told without them. Yet they are of one family, and largely of one species, and an example or two will serve for the whole. In our next tale the story of an Indian assault on the Daniel Boone stronghold in Kentucky will be told. We purpose now to give the interesting details of an attack on Fort Henry, a small frontier work near where Wheeling now stands.

This attack was the work of Simon Girty, one of the most detestable characters that the drama of American history ever brought upon the stage. He was the offspring of crime, his parents being irredeemably besotted and vicious. Of their four sons, two, who were taken prisoner by the Indian at Braddock's defeat, developed into monsters of wickedness. James was adopted by the Delawares, and became the fiercest savage of the tribe. Simon grew into a great hunter among the Senecas,—unfortunately a hunter of helpless human beings as much as of game,—and for twenty years his name was a terror in every white household of the Ohio country. He is spoken of as honest. It was his one virtue, the sole redeeming leaven in a life of vice, savagery, and cruelty.



In the summer of 1777 this evil product of frontier life collected a force of four hundred Indians for an assault on the white. His place of rendezvous was Sandusky; his ostensible purpose to cross the Ohio and attack the Kentucky frontier settlements. On reaching the river, however, he suddenly turned up its course, and made all haste towards Fort Henry, then garrisoned by Colonel Sheppard, with about forty men.

The movements of Girty were known, and alarm as to their purpose was widely felt. Sheppard had his scouts out, but the shrewd renegade managed to deceive them, and to appear before Fort Henry almost unannounced. Happily, the coming of this storm of savagery was discovered in time enough to permit the inhabitants of Wheeling, then composed of some twenty-five log huts, to fly for refuge to the fort.

A reconnoitring party had been sent out under Captain Mason. These were ambushed by the cunning leader of the Indians, and more than half of them fell victims to the rifle and the tomahawk. Their perilous position being perceived, a party of twelve more, under Captain Ogle, sallied to their rescue. They found themselves overwhelmingly outnumbered, and eight of the twelve fell. These untowards events frightfully reduced the garrison. Of the original forty only twelve remained, some of them little more than boys. Within the fort were this little garrison and the women and children of the settlement. Outside raged four hundred savage warriors, under a skilful commander. It seemed absolute madness to attempt a defence. Yet Colonel Sheppard was not one of the men who lightly surrender. Death by the rifle was, in his view, better than death at the stake. With him were two men, Ebenezer and Silas Zane, of his own calibre, while the whole garrison was made up of hearts of oak.

As for the women in the fort, though they were of little use in the fight, they could lend their aid in casting bullets, making cartridges, and loading rifles. Among them was one, Elizabeth Zane, sister of the two men named, who was to perform a far more important service. She had just returned from school in Philadelphia, knew little of the horrors of border warfare, but had in her the same indomitable spirit that distinguished her brothers. A woman she was of heroic mould, as the events will prove.

It was in the early morning of September 26 that Girty appeared before the fort. A brief period sufficed, in the manner related, to reduce the garrison to a mere handful. Sure now of success, Girty advanced towards the palisades with a white flag, and demanded an unconditional surrender.

Colonel Sheppard was ready with his answer. He had already felt the pulse of his men, and found that it beat with the same high spirit as his own. He mounted upon the ramparts, stern and inflexible, and hurled back his reply,—

"This fort shall never be surrendered to you, nor to any other man, while there is an American left to defend it."

"Are you mad, man?" cried Girty. "Do you know our force? Do you know your own? Resistance is folly."

"I know you, Simon Girty. That is enough to know. You have my answer."

In a rage, Girty hurled back a volley of dark threats, then turned away, and ordered an instant attack. Unluckily for the garrison, some of the deserted log-huts were sufficiently near to shelter the Indians, and enable them to assault the fort under cover. They swarmed into these houses, and for six hours kept up an incessant fire on the works, wasting their bullets, as it proved, for none of them did harm to fort or man. As for the defenders, they had no ammunition to waste. But most of them were sharp-shooters, and they took good care that every bullet should tell. Nearly every report from behind the walls told a story of wound or death. As good fortune willed, the savages had no artillery, and were little disposed to hazard their dusky skins in an assault in force on the well-defended walls.

At midday the attack temporarily ceased. The Indians withdrew to the base of Wheeling Hill, and the uproar of yells and musketry was replaced by a short season of quiet. It was a fortunate reprieve for the whites. Their powder was almost exhausted. Had the assault continued for an hour longer their rifles must have ceased to reply.

What was to be done? The Indians had withdrawn only for rest and food. They would soon be at their threatening work again. Answer to them could not long be continued. When the fire from the fort ceased all would be over. The exultant savages would swarm over the undefended walls, and torture and outrage be the lot of all who were not fortunate enough to die in the assault.

Ebenezer Zane looked wistfully at his house, sixty yards away.

"There is a keg of powder within those walls," he said. "If we only had it here it might mean the difference between safety and death."

"A keg of powder!" cried Colonel Sheppard. "We must have it, whatever the danger!" He looked out. The Indians were within easy gunshot. Whoever went for the powder ran the most imminent risk of death. The appearance of a man outside the gates would be the signal for a fierce fusillade. "But we must have it," he repeated. "And we can spare but one man for the task. Who shall it be? I cannot order any one to such a duty. What man is ready to volunteer?"

Every man, apparently; they all thronged forward, each eager for the perilous effort. They struggled, indeed, so long for the honor that there was danger of the Indians returning to the assault before the powder was obtained.

At this interval a woman stepped forward. It was Elizabeth Zane. The fire of a noble purpose shone on her earnest face.

"But one man can be spared to go, you say, Colonel Sheppard," she remarked. "In my opinion no man can be spared to go. Let me go for the powder. My life is of much less importance to the garrison than that of a man."

Colonel Sheppard looked at her with eyes of admiration, and then peremptorily refused her request. This was work for men, he said, not for women. She should not sacrifice herself.

It was every one's duty to do their share, she replied. All were alike in danger. The walls were not half manned. If she fell, the gap would be small; if a man fell, it would be large.

So earnest were her solicitations, and so potent her arguments, that Colonel Sheppard finally yielded a reluctant consent. It was given none too soon. There was little time to spare. The gate was opened and the brave woman walked fearlessly out.

She had not gone a step beyond the shelter of the fort before the Indians perceived her. Yet the suddenness of her appearance seemed to paralyze them. They stood and watched her movements, as she walked swiftly but steadily over the space leading to her brothers' house, but not a gun was lifted nor a voice was raised. So far the expedient of sending a woman had proved unexpectedly successful. The savages gazed at her in blank amazement, wondering at her purpose.

She entered the house. An anxious minute or two passed. The Indians still had not stirred. The eyes of the garrison were fixed with feverish anxiety on the door of that small hut. Then they were relieved by the reappearance of the devoted girl, now clasping the precious keg of powder in her arms.

It was no time now to walk. As rapidly as she could run, with the weight in her arms, she sped over the open space. Speed was needed. The Indians had suddenly come to a realizing sense of the woman's purpose, and a volley of bullets swept the space over which she fled.

Not one touched her. In a minute she had reached the fort. A shout of enthusiastic welcome went up. As the gate closed behind her, and she let fall the valuable prize from her unnerved arms, every hand was stretched to grasp hers, and a chorus of praise and congratulation filled the air.

"We have a heroine among us; we will all be heroes, and conquer or die," was the universal thought.

It was a true one; Elizabeth Zane's was one of those rare souls which seem sent on earth to make man proud of his race.

At half-past two the assailants returned to the attack, availing themselves, as before, of the cover of the huts. After a period spent in musketry, they made an assault in force on the gate of the fort. They were met by the concentrated fire of the garrison. Six of them fell. The others fled back to their shelter.

Until dark the fusillade continued. After darkness had fallen the assailants tried a new device. Lacking artillery, they attempted to convert a hollow maple log into a cannon. They bound this as firmly as possible with chains, then, with a ludicrous ignorance of what they were about, they loaded it to its muzzle with stones, pieces of iron, and other missiles. This done, they conveyed the impromptu cannon to a point within sixty yards of the fort, and attempted to discharge it against the gates.

The result was what might have been anticipated. The log burst into a thousand pieces, and sent splinters and projectiles hurtling among the curious crowd of dusky warriors. Several of them were killed, others were wounded, but the gates remained unharmed. This was more than the savages had counted on, and they ceased the assault for the night, no little discouraged by their lack of success.

Meanwhile tidings of what Girty and his horde were about had spread through the settlements, and relief parties were hastily formed. At four o'clock in the morning fourteen men arrived, under command of Colonel Swearingen, and fought their way into the fort without losing a man. At dawn a party of forty mounted men made their appearance, Major McCullough at their head. The men managed to enter the fort in safety, but the gallant major, being unluckily separated from his band, was left alone outside.

His was a terribly critical situation. Fortunately, the Indians knew him for one of their most daring and skillful enemies, and hated him intensely. Fortunately, we say, for to that he owed his life. They could easily have killed him, but not a man of them would fire. Such a foeman must not die so easily; he must end his life in flame and torture. Such was their unspoken argument, and they dashed after him with yells of exultation, satisfied that they had one of their chief foes safely in their hands.

It seemed so, indeed. The major was well mounted, but the swift Indian runners managed to surround him on three sides, and force him towards the river bluffs, from which escape seemed impossible.

With redoubled shouts they closed in upon him. The major, somewhat ignorant of the situation, pushed onward till he suddenly found himself on the brow of a precipice which descended at an almost vertical inclination for a hundred and fifty feet. Here was a frightful dilemma. To right and left the Indian runners could be seen, their lines extending to the verge of the cliff. What was to be done? surrender to the Indians, attempt to dash through their line, or leap the cliff? Each way promised death. But death by fall was preferable to death by torture. And a forlorn hope of life remained. The horse was a powerful one, and might make the descent in safety. Gathering his reins tightly in his right hand, while his left grasped his rifle, McCullough spurred the noble animal forward, and in an instant was over the brow of the cliff, and falling rather than dashing down its steep declivity.

By unlooked-for good fortune the foot of the bluff was reached in safety. Into the creek dashed horse and man, and in a minute or two the daring fugitive was across and safe from his savage pursuers.

The Indians returned disappointed to the vicinity of the fort. Here they found that their leader had decided on abandoning the assault. The reinforcements received, and the probability that others were on the way, discouraged the renegade, and Girty led his horde of savages away, first doing all the harm in his power by burning the houses of the settlement, and killing about three hundred cattle belonging to the settlers.

The defence of Fort Henry was one of the most striking for the courage displayed, and the success of the defenders, of the many gallant contests with the Indian foe of that age of stirring deeds. Aside from those killed in ambush, not a man of the garrison had lost his life. Of the assailants, from sixty to one hundred fell. Simon Girty and his Indians had received a lesson they would not soon forget.


The region of Kentucky, that "dark and bloody ground" of Indian warfare, lay long unknown to the whites. No Indians even dwelt there, though it was a land of marvellous beauty and wonderful fertility. For its forests and plains so abounded with game that it was used by various tribes as a hunting-ground, and here the savage warriors so often met in hostile array, and waged such deadly war, that not the most daring of them ventured to make it their home. And the name which they gave it was destined to retain its sombre significance for the whites, when they should invade the perilous Kentuckian wilds, and build their habitations in this land of dread.

In 1767 John Finley, a courageous Indian trader, pushed far into its depths, and returned with thrilling stories of his adventures and tempting descriptions of the beauty and fertility of the land. These he told to Daniel Boone, an adventure-loving Pennsylvanian, who had made his way to North Carolina, and built himself a home in the virgin forest at the head-waters of the Yadkin. Here, with his wife, his rifle, and his growing family, he enjoyed his frontier life with the greatest zest, until the increasing numbers of new settlers and the alluring narrative of Finley induced him to leave his home and seek again the untrodden wilds.

On the 1st of May, 1769, Finley, Boone, and three others struck boldly into the broad backbone of mountain-land which lay between their old home and the new land of promise. They set out on their dangerous journey amid the tears of their families, who deemed that destruction awaited them, and vainly besought them to abandon the enterprise. Forward, for days and weeks, pushed the hardy pioneers, their rifles providing them with game, their eyes on the alert against savages, until, after what seemed months of toil, the mountains were passed and the fertile plains and extended forests of Kentucky lay before them.

"We found everywhere" says Boone, "abundance of wild beasts of all sorts, through this vast forest. The buffalo were more frequent than I have seen cattle in the settlements, browsing on the leaves of the cane, or cropping the herbage of these extensive plains, fearless, because ignorant of the violence of man. In this forest, the habitation of beasts of every kind natural to America, we practised hunting with great success until the 22d day of December following."

On that day Boone and another were taken prisoner by a party of Indians. Seven days they were held, uncertain as to their fate, but at length, by a skilful artifice, they escaped and made their way back to their camp, only to find it deserted, those whom they had left there having returned to North Carolina. Other adventurers soon joined them, however, Boone's brother among them, and the remainder of the winter was passed in safety.

As regards the immediately succeeding events, it will suffice to say that Squire Boone, as Daniel's brother was called, returned to the settlements in the spring for supplies, the others having gone before, so that the daring hunter was left alone in that vast wilderness. Even his dog had deserted him, and the absolute solitude of nature surrounded him.

The movements we have described had not passed unknown to the Indians, and only the most extraordinary caution saved the solitary hunter from his dusky foes. He changed his camp every night, never sleeping twice in the same place. Often he found that it had been visited by Indians in his absence. Once a party of savages pursued him for many miles, until, by speed and skill, he threw them from his trail. Many and perilous were his adventures during his three months of lonely life in the woods and canebrakes of that fear-haunted land. Prowling wolves troubled him by night, prowling savages by day, yet fear never entered his bold heart, and cheerfulness never fled from his mind. He was the true pioneer, despising peril and proof against loneliness. At length his brother joined him, with horses and supplies, and the two adventurers passed another winter in the wilderness.

Several efforts were made in the ensuing years to people the country, but numbers of the settlers were slain by the Indians, whose hostility made the task so perilous that a permanent settlement was not made till 1775. The place then settled—a fine location on the Kentucky River—was called, in honor of its founder, Boonesborough. Here a small fort was built, to which the adventurer now brought his family, being determined to make it his place of abode, despite his dusky foes. "My wife and daughter," he says, "were the first white women that ever stood on the banks of Kentucky River."

It was a dangerous step they had taken. The savages, furious at this invasion of their hunting-grounds, were ever on the alert against their pale-faced foes. In the following spring Boone's daughter, with two other girls, who had thoughtlessly left the fort to gather flowers, were seized by ambushed Indians and hurried away into the forest depths.

Their loss was soon learned, and the distracted parents, with seven companions, were quickly in pursuit through the far-reaching forest. For two days, with the skill of trained scouts, they followed the trail which the girls, true hunters' daughters, managed to mark by shreds of their clothing which they tore off and dropped by the way.

The rapid pursuers at length came within sight of the camp of the Indians. Here they waited till darkness descended, approaching as closely as was safe. The two fathers, Boone and Calloway, now volunteered to attempt a rescue under cover of the night, and crept, with the acumen of practised frontiersmen, towards the Indian halting-place. Unluckily for them they were discovered and captured by the Indians, who dragged them exultingly to their camp. Here a council was quickly held, and the captives condemned to suffer the dreadful fate of savage reprisal,—death by torture and flame.

Morning had but fairly dawned when speedy preparations were made by the savages for their deadly work. They had no time to waste, for they knew not how many pursuers might be on their trail. The captives were securely bound to trees, before the eyes of their distracted daughters, and fagots hastily gathered for the fell purpose of their foes.

But while they were thus busied, the companions of Boone and Calloway had not been idle. Troubled by the non-return of the rescuers, the woodsmen crept up with the first dawn of day, saw the bloody work designed, and poured in a sudden storm of bullets on the savages, several of whom were stretched bleeding upon the ground. Then, with shouts of exultation, the ambushed whites burst from their covert, dashed into the camp before the savages could wreak their vengeance on their prisoners, and with renewed rifle-shots sent them away in panic flight. A knife-stroke or two released the captives, and the party returned in triumph to the fort.

The example of Boone and his companions in making their homes on Kentucky soil was soon followed by others, and within a year or two a number of settlements had been made, at various promising localities. The Indians did not view with equanimity this invasion of their hunting-grounds. Their old battles with each other were now replaced by persistent hostility to the whites, and they lurked everywhere around the feeble settlements, seizing stragglers, destroying cattle, and in every way annoying the daring pioneers.

In April, 1777, a party of a hundred of them fiercely attacked Boonesborough, but were driven off by the rifles of the settlers. In July they came again, now doubled in numbers, and for two days assailed the fort, but with the same ill-success as before. Similar attacks were made on the other settlements, and a state of almost incessant warfare prevailed, in which Boone showed such valor and activity that he became the terror of his savage foes, who, in compliment to his daring, christened him "The Great Long-Knife." On one occasion when two Indian warriors assailed him in the woods he manoeuvred so skilfully as to draw the fire of both, and then slew the pair of them, the one with his rifle, the other, in hand-to-hand fight, with his deadly hunting-knife.

But the bold pioneer was destined soon to pass through an experience such as few men have safely endured. It was now February, 1778. For three years the settlers had defied their foes, Boone, in despite of them, hesitating not to traverse the forest alone, with rifle and hunting-knife, in pursuit of game. In one of these perilous excursions he suddenly found himself surrounded by a party of a hundred Shawnese warriors, who were on their way to attack his own fort. He fled, but was overtaken and secured. Soon after, the savages fell in with a large party of whites who were making salt at the Salt Lick springs, and captured them all, twenty-seven in number.

Exulting in their success, the warriors gave up their original project, and hastened northward with their prisoners. Fortunately for the latter, the Revolutionary War was now in full progress, and the Indians deemed it more advantageous to themselves to sell their prisoners than to torture them. They, therefore, took them to Detroit, where all were ransomed by the British except Boone. The governor offered a large sum for his release, but the savages would not listen to the bribe. They knew the value of the man they held, and were determined that their illustrious captive should not escape again to give them trouble in field and forest.

Leaving Detroit, they took him to Chillicothe, on the Little Miami River, the chief town of the tribe. Here a grand council was held as to what should be done with him. Boone's fate trembled in the balance. The stake seemed his destined doom. Fortunately, an old woman, of the family of Blackfish, one of their most distinguished chiefs, having lost a son in battle, claimed the captive as her adopted son. Such a claim could not be set aside. It was a legal right in the tribe, and the chiefs could not but yield. They were proud, indeed, to have such a mighty hunter as one of themselves, and the man for whose blood they had been hungering was now treated with the utmost kindness and respect.

The ceremony of adoption into the tribe was a painful one, which Boone had to endure. Part of it consisted in plucking out all the hairs of his head with the exception of the scalp-lock, of three or four inches diameter. But the shrewd captive bore his inflictions with equanimity, and appeared perfectly contented with his lot. The new son of the tribe, with his scalp-lock, painted face, and Indian dress, and his skin deeply embrowned by constant exposure to the air, could hardly be distinguished from one of themselves, while his seeming satisfaction with his new life was well adapted to throw the Indians off their guard. His skill in all manly exercises and in the use of arms was particularly admired by his new associates, though, as Boone says, he "was careful not to exceed many of them in shooting, for no people are more envious than they in this sport."

His wary captors, however, were not easily to be deceived. Seemingly, Boone was left free to go where he would, but secretly he was watched, and precautions taken to prevent his escape. He was permitted to go out alone to hunt, but the Indians always carefully counted his balls and measured his charges of powder, determined that he should have none to aid him to procure food in a long flight. Shrewd as they were, however, Boone was more than their match. In his hunting expeditions he cut his balls in half, and used very small charges of powder, so that he was enabled to bring back game while gradually secreting a store of ammunition.

And thus the days and weeks went on, while Daniel Boone remained, to all outward appearance, a contented Shawnee warrior. But at length came a time when flight grew imperative. He had been taken to the salt-licks with a party of Indians to aid them in making salt. On returning to Chillicothe he was alarmed to see the former peaceful aspect of the village changed to one of threatened war. A band of four hundred and fifty warriors had been collected for a hostile foray, and to his horror he learned that Boonesborough was the destined point of attack.

In this fort were his wife and children. In the present state of security of the inmates they might easily be taken by surprise. He alone could warn them of their danger, and to this end he must escape from his watchful foes.

Boone was not the man to let the anxiety that tore his heart appear on his face. To all seeming he was careless and indifferent, looking on with smiling face at their war-dances, and hesitating not to give them advice in warlike matters. He knew their language sufficiently to understand all they said, but from the moment of his captivity had pretended to be entirely ignorant of it, talking to them only in the jargon which then formed the medium of communication between the red men and the whites, and listening with impassive countenance to the most fear-inspiring plans. They, therefore, talked freely before him, not for a moment dreaming that their astute prisoner had solved the problem of their destination. As for Boone, he appeared to enter with whole-souled ardor into their project and to be as eager as themselves for its success, seeming so fully in sympathy with them, and so content with his lot, that they absorbed in their enterprise, became less vigilant than usual in watching his movements.

The time for the expedition was at hand. Whatever the result, he must dare the peril of flight. The distance to be traversed was one hundred and sixty miles. As soon as his flight should become known, he was well aware that a host of Indian scouts, thoroughly prepared for pursuit and full of revengeful fury, would be on his track. And there would be no further safety for him if captured. Death, by the most cruel tortures the infuriated savages could devise, was sure to be his fate.

All this Boone knew, but it did not shake his resolute soul. His family and friends were in deadly peril; he alone could save them; his own danger was not to be thought of in this emergency. On the morning of June 16 he rose very early for his usual hunt. Taking the ammunition doled out to him by his Indian guards, he added to it that which he had secreted in the woods, and was ready for the desperate enterprise which he designed.

Boone was now forty-three years of age, a man of giant frame and iron muscles, possessed of great powers of endurance, a master of all the arts of woodcraft, and one of the most skilful riflemen in the Western wilds. Keen on the trail, swift of foot, and valorous in action as were the Indian braves, there was no warrior of the tribe the equal in these particulars of the practised hunter who now meditated flight.

On the selected morning the daring woodsman did not waste a moment. No sooner had he lost sight of the village than he headed southward at his utmost speed. He could count on but an hour or two to gain a start on his wary foes. He well knew that when the hour of his usual return had passed without his appearance, a host of scouts would follow in swift pursuit. Such was the case, as he afterwards learned. No sooner had the Indians discovered the fact of his flight than an intense commotion reigned among them, and a large number of their swiftest runners and best hunters were put upon his trail.

By this time, however, he had gained a considerable start, and was pushing forward with all speed taking the usual precautions as he went to avoid making a plain trail, but losing no time in his flight. He dared not use his rifle,—quick ears might be within hearing of its sound. He dared not kindle a fire to cook game, even if he had killed it,—sharp eyes might be within sight of its smoke. He had secured a few cuts of dried venison, and with this as his only food he pushed on by day and night, hardly taking time to sleep, making his way through forest and swamp, and across many streams which were swollen by recent rains. And on his track, like blood-hounds on the scent of their victims, came the furious pursuers now losing his trail, now recovering it; and, as they went, spreading out over a wide space, and pushing steadily southward over the general route which they felt sure he would pursue.

At length the weary fugitive reached the banks of the Ohio River. As yet he had not seen a foe. As yet he had not fired a gun. He must put that great stream, now swollen to a half-mile in width by the late rains, between him and his foes ere he could dare for a moment to relax his vigilance.

Unluckily, expert as he was in woodcraft, Boone was a poor swimmer. His skill in the water would never carry him across that rushing stream. How to get across had for hours been to him a matter of deep anxiety. Fortunately, on reaching its banks, he found an old canoe, which had drifted among the bushes of the shore, and stranded there, being full of water from a large hole in its bottom.

The skilled hunter was not long in emptying the canoe and closing the hole. Then, improvising a paddle, he launched his leaky craft upon the stream, and succeeded in reaching the southern shore in safety. Now, for the first time, did he feel sufficiently safe to fire a shot and to kindle a fire. He brought down a wild turkey which, seasoned with hunger, made him the most delicious repast he had ever tasted. It was the only regular meal in which he indulged in his flight. Safety was not yet assured. Some of his pursuers might be already across the river. Onward he dashed, with unflagging energy, and at length reached the fort, after five days of incessant travel through the untrodden wilds.

He was like a dead man returned to life. The people at the fort looked at him with staring eyes. They had long given him up for lost, and he learned, much to his grief, that his wife and children had returned to their old home in North Carolina. Just now, however, there was no time for sorrow, and little time for greeting. The fort had been neglected, and was in bad condition. The foe might even then be near at hand. There was not a moment to spare. He put the men energetically to work, and quickly had the neglected defences repaired. Then determined to strike terror into the foe, he led a party of men swiftly to and across the Ohio, met a party of thirty savages near the Indian town of Paint Creek, and attacked them so fiercely that they were put to rout.

This foray greatly alarmed the Indians. It put courage into the hearts of the garrison. After an absence of seven days and a journey of a hundred and fifty miles, Boone and his little party returned, in fear lest the Chillicothe warriors might reach the fort during his absence.

It was not, however, until August that the Indians appeared. They were four hundred and forty-four in number, led by Captain Duquesne and other French officers, and with French and British colors flying. There were but fifty men in the fort. The situation seemed a desperate one, but under Boone's command the settlers were resolute, and to the summons to surrender, the daring commander returned the bold reply, "We are determined to defend our fort while a man of us lives."

The next proposition of Duquesne was that nine of the garrison should come out and treat with him. If they could come to terms he would peacefully retire. The veteran pioneer well knew what peril lurked in this specious promise, and how little safety they would have in trusting their Indian foes. But, moved by his bold heart and daring love of adventure, he assented to the dangerous proposition, though not without taking precautions for safety. He selected nine of the strongest and most active of his men, appointed the place of meeting in front of the fort, at one hundred and twenty feet from the walls, and stationed the riflemen of the garrison so as to cover the spot with their guns, in case of treachery.

These precautions taken, Boone led his party out, and was met by Duquesne and his brother officers. The terms proposed were liberal enough, but the astute frontiersman knew very well that the Indians would never assent to them. As the conference proceeded, the Indian chiefs drew near, and Blackfish, Boone's adopted father, professed the utmost friendship, and suggested that the treaty should be concluded in the Indian manner, by shaking hands.

The artifice was too shallow to deceive the silliest of the garrison. It was Blackfish's purpose to have two savages seize each of the whites, drag them away as prisoners, and then by threats of torture compel their comrades to surrender the fort. Boone, however, did not hesitate to assent to the proposition. He wished to unmask his wily foes. That done, he trusted to the strength of himself and his fellows, and the bullets of his riflemen, to bring his party in safety back to the fort.

It proved as he expected. No sooner had they yielded their hands to the Indians than a desperate attempt was made to drag them away. The surrounding Indians rushed to the aid of their fellows. From behind stumps and trees, a shower of bullets was poured upon the fort. But the alert pioneers were not taken by surprise. From the rifles of the garrison bullets were poured back. Boone easily shook off his assailant, and his companions did the same. Back to the fort they fled, bullets pattering after them, while the keen marksmen of the fort sent back their sharp response. In a few seconds the imperilled nine were behind the heavy gates, only one of their number, Boone's brother, being wounded. They had escaped a peril from which, for the moment, rescue seemed hopeless.

Baffled in their treachery, the assailants now made a fierce assault on the fort, upon which they kept up an incessant fire for nine days and nights, giving the beleaguered garrison scarcely a moment for rest. Hidden behind rocks and trees, they poured in their bullets in a manner far more brisk than effectual. The garrison but feebly responded to this incessant fusillade, feeling it necessary to husband their ammunition. But, unlike the fire of their foes, every shot of theirs told.

During this interval the assailants began to undermine the fort, beginning their tunnel at the river-bank. But the clay they threw out discolored the water and revealed their project, and the garrison at once began to countermine, by cutting a trench across the line of their projected passage. The enemy, in their turn, discovered this and gave up the attempt. Another of their efforts was to set fire to the fort by means of flaming arrows. This proved temporarily successful, the dry timbers of the roof bursting into flames. But one of the young men of the fort daringly sprang upon the roof, extinguished the fire, and returned unharmed, although bullets had fallen like hailstones around him.

At length, thoroughly discouraged, the enemy raised the siege and departed, having succeeded only in killing two and wounding four of the garrison, while their dead numbered thirty-seven, and their wounded a large number. One of these dead was a negro, who had deserted from the fort and joined the Indians, and whom Boone brought down with a bullet from the remarkable distance, for the rifles of that day, of five hundred and twenty-five feet. After the enemy had gone there were "picked up," says Boone, "one hundred and twenty-five pounds' weight of bullets, besides what stuck in the logs of the fort, which certainly is a great proof of their industry," whatever may be said of their marksmanship.

The remainder of Daniel Boone's life we can give but in outline. After the repulse of the enemy he returned to the Yadkin for his family, and brought them again to his chosen land. He came back to find an Indian war raging along the whole frontier, in which he was called to play an active part, and on more than one occasion owed his life to his strength, endurance, and sagacity. This warfare continued for a number of years, the Indians being generally successful, and large numbers of soldiers falling before their savage onsets. At length the conduct of the war was intrusted to "Mad Anthony" Wayne, whose skill, rapidity, and decision soon brought it to an end, and forced the tribes to conclude a treaty of peace.

Thenceforward Kentucky was undisturbed by Indian forays, and its settlement went forward with rapidity. The intrepid Boone had by no means passed through the fire of war unharmed. He tells us, "Two darling sons and a brother have I lost by savage hands, which have also taken from me forty valuable horses and abundance of cattle. Many dark and sleepless nights have I been a companion for owls, separated from the cheerful society of men, scorched by the summers' sun, and pinched by the winter's cold, an instrument ordained to settle the wilderness."

One wilderness settled, the hardy veteran pined for more. Population in Kentucky was getting far too thick for his ideas of comfort. His spirit craved the solitude of the unsettled forest, and in 1802 he again pulled up stakes and plunged into the depths of the Western woods. "Too much crowded," he declared; "too much crowded. I want more elbow-room."

His first abiding place was on the Great Kanawha, where he remained for several years. Then, as the vanguard of the army of immigrants pressed upon his chosen home, he struck camp again, and started westward with wife and children, driving his cattle before him, in search of a "promised land" of few men and abundant game. He settled now beyond the Mississippi, about fifty miles west of St. Louis. Here he dwelt for years, hunting, trapping, and enjoying life in his own wild way.

Years went by, and once more the emigrant army pressed upon the solitude-loving pioneer, but he was now too old for further flight. Eighty years lay upon his frosted brow, yet with little diminished activity he pursued his old mode of life, being often absent from home for weeks on hunting expeditions. Audubon, the famous ornithologist, met him in one of these forays, and thus pictures him: "The stature and general appearance of this wanderer of the Western forests," he says, "approached the gigantic. His chest was broad and prominent; his muscular powers displayed themselves in every limb; his countenance gave indication of his great courage, enterprise, and perseverance, and, whenever he spoke, the very motion of his lips brought the impression that whatever he uttered could not be otherwise than strictly true."

Mr. Irving tells a similar story of him in his eighty-fifth year. He was then visited by the Astor overland expedition to the Columbia. "He had but recently returned from a hunting and trapping expedition," says the historian, "and had brought nearly sixty beaver skins as trophies of his skill. The old man was still erect in form, strong in limb, and unflinching in spirit; and as he stood on the river bank watching the departure of an expedition destined to traverse the wilderness to the very shores of the Pacific, very probably felt a throb of his old pioneer spirit, impelling him to shoulder his rifle and join the adventurous band."

Seven years afterwards he joined another band, that of the heroes who have gone to their rest. To his last year he carried the rifle and sought the depths of the wood. At last, in 1818, with no disease but old age, he laid down his life, after a most adventurous career, in which he had won himself imperishable fame as the most daring, skilful, and successful of that pioneer band who have dared the perils of the wilderness and surpassed the savage tenants of the forest in their own chosen arts.


It was night at Boston, the birthnight of one of the leading events in the history of the world. The weather was balmy and clear. Most of the good citizens of the town were at their homes; many of them doubtless in their beds; for early hours were kept in those early days of our country's history. Yet many were abroad, and from certain streets of the town arose unwonted sounds, the steady tread of marching feet, the occasional click of steel, the rattle of accoutrements. Those who were within view of Boston Common at a late hour of that evening of April 18, 1775, beheld an unusual sight, that of serried ranks of armed men, who had quietly marched thither from their quarters throughout the town, as the starting-point for some secret and mysterious expedition.

At the same hour, in a shaded recess of the suburb of Charlestown, stood a strongly-built and keen-eyed man, with his hand on the bridle of an impatiently waiting horse, his eyes fixed on a distant spire that rose like a shadow through the gloom of the night. Paul Revere was the name of this expectant patriot. He had just before crossed the Charles River in a small boat, rowing needfully through the darkness, for his route lay under the guns of a British man-of-war, the "Somerset," on whose deck, doubtless were watchful eyes on the lookout for midnight prowlers. Fortunately, the dark shadows which lay upon the water hid the solitary rower from view, and he reached the opposite shore unobserved. Here a swift horse had been provided for him, and he was bidden to be keenly on the alert, as a force of mounted British officers were on the road which he might soon have to take.



And still the night moved on in its slow and silent course, while slumber locked the eyes of most of the worthy people of Boston town, and few of the patriots were afoot. But among these was the ardent man who stood with his eyes impatiently fixed on the lofty spire of the Old North Church, and in the town itself others heedfully watched the secret movements of the British troops.

Suddenly a double gleam flashed from the far-off spire. Two lighted candles had been placed in the belfry window of the church, and their feeble glimmer sped swiftly through the intervening air and fell upon the eyes of the expectant messenger. No sooner had the light met his gaze than Paul Revere, with a glad cry of relief, sprang to his saddle, gave his uneasy horse the rein, and dashed away at a swinging pace, the hoof-beats of his horse sounding like the hammer-strokes of fate as he bore away on his vital errand.

A minute or two brought him past Charlestown Neck. But not many steps had he taken on his onward course before peril to his enterprise suddenly confronted him. Two British officers appeared in the road.

"Who goes there? Halt!" was their stern command.

Paul Revere looked at them. They were mounted and armed. Should he attempt to dash past them? It was too risky and his errand too important. But there was another road near by, whose entrance he had just passed. With a quick jerk at the rein he turned his horse, and in an instant was flying back at racing speed.

"Halt, or we will fire!" cried the officers, spurring their horses to swift pursuit.

Heedless of this command the bold rider drove headlong back, his horse quickly proving his mettle by distancing those of his pursuers. A few minutes brought him to the entrance to the Medford Road. Into this he sharply wheeled, and was quickly away again towards his distant goal. Meanwhile one of the officers, finding himself distanced, turned his horse into the fields lying between the two roads, with the purpose of riding across and cutting off the flight of the fugitive. He had not taken many steps, however, before he found his horse floundering in a clay-pit, while Revere on the opposite road shot past, with a ringing shout of triumph as he went.

Leaving him for the present to his journey, we must return to the streets of Boston, and learn the secret of this midnight ride.

For several years previous to 1775 Boston had been in the hands of British troops,—of a foreign foe, we may almost say, for they treated it as though it were a captured town. Many collisions had occurred between the troops and the citizens, the rebellious feeling growing with every hour of occupation, until now the spirit of rebellion, like a contagious fever, had spread far beyond its point of origin, and affected townsmen and farmers widely throughout the colonies. In all New England hostility to British rule had become rampant, minute-men (men pledged to spring to arms at a minute's notice) were everywhere gathering and drilling, and here and there depots of arms and ammunition had hastily been formed. Peace still prevailed, but war was in the air.

Boston itself aided in supplying these warlike stores. Under the very eyes of the British guards cannon-balls and muskets were carried out in carts, covered by loads of manure. Market-women conveyed powder from the city in their panniers, and candle-boxes served as secret receptacles for cartridges. Depots of these munitions were made near Boston. In the preceding February the troops had sought to seize one of these at Salem, but were forced to halt at Salem bridge by a strong body of the people, led by Colonel Pickering. Finding themselves outnumbered, they turned and marched back, no shot being fired and no harm done.

Another depot of stores had now been made at Concord, about nineteen miles away, and this General Gage had determined to destroy, even if blood were shed in so doing. Rebellion, in his opinion, was gaining too great a head; it must be put down by the strong arm of force; the time for mild measures was past.

Yet he was not eager to rouse the colonists to hostility. It was his purpose to surprise the patriots and capture the stores before a party could be gathered to their defence. This was the meaning of the stealthy midnight movement of the troops. But the patriot leaders in Boston were too watchful to be easily deceived; they had their means of obtaining information, and the profound secret of the British general was known to them before the evening had far advanced.

About nine o'clock Lord Percy, one of the British officers, crossed the Common, and in doing so noticed a group of persons in eager chat. He joined these, curious to learn the subject of their conversation. The first words he heard filled him with alarm.

"The British troops will miss their aim," said a garrulous talker.

"What aim?" asked Percy.

"The cannon at Concord," was the reply.

Percy, who was in Gage's confidence, hastened to the head-quarters of the commanding general and informed him of what he had overheard. Gage, startled to learn that his guarded secret was already town's talk, at once set guards on all the avenues leading from the town, with orders to arrest every person who should attempt to leave, while the squad of officers of whom we have spoken were sent forward to patrol the roads.

But the patriots were too keen-witted to be so easily checked in their plans. Samuel Adams and John Hancock, the patriot leaders, fearing arrest, had left town, and were then at Lexington at the house of the Rev. Jonas Clarke. Paul Revere had been sent to Charlestown by the patriotic Dr. Warren, with orders to take to the road the moment the signal lights in the belfry of the old North Church should appear. These lights would indicate that the troops were on the road. We have seen how promptly he obeyed, and how narrowly he escaped capture by General Gages' guards.

On he went, mile by mile, rattling down the Medford Road. At every wayside house he stopped, knocked furiously at the door, and, as the startled inmates came hastily to the windows, shouted, "Up! up! the regulars are coming!" and before his sleepy auditors could fairly grasp his meaning, was away again.

It was about midnight when the British troops left Boston, on their supposed secret march. At a little after the same hour the rattling sound of hoofs broke the quiet of the dusky streets of Lexington, thirteen miles away.

Around the house of the Rev. Mr. Clarke eight minute-men had been stationed as a guard, to protect the patriot leaders within. They started hastily to their feet as the messenger rode up at headlong speed.

"Rouse the house!" cried Revere.

"That we will not," answered the guards. "Orders have been given not to disturb the people within by noise."

"Noise!" exclaimed Revere; "you'll have noise enough before long; the regulars are coming!"

At these startling tidings the guards suffered him to approach and knock at the door. The next minute a window was thrown up and Mr. Clarke looked out.

"Who is there?" he demanded.

"I wish to see Mr. Hancock," was the reply.

"I cannot admit strangers to my house at night without knowing who they are."

Another window opened as he spoke. It was that of John Hancock, who had heard and recognized the messenger's voice. He knew him well.

"Come in, Revere," he cried; "we are not afraid of you."

The door was opened and Revere admitted, to tell his alarming tale, and bid the patriot leaders to flee from that place of danger. His story was quickly confirmed, for shortly afterwards another messenger, William Dawes by name, rode up. He had left Boston at the same time as Revere, but by a different route. Adams was by this time aroused and had joined his friend, and the two patriot leaders, feeling assured that their capture was one of the purposes of the expedition, hastily prepared for retreat to safer quarters. While they did so, Revere and Dawes, now joining company, mounted again, and once more took to the road, on their midnight mission of warning and alarm.

Away they went again, with thunder of hoofs and rattle of harness, while as they left the streets of Lexington behind them a hasty stir succeeded the late silence of that quiet village. From every house men rushed to learn the news; from every window women's heads were thrust; some armed minute-men began to gather, and by two o'clock a hundred and thirty of these were gathered upon the meeting-house green. But no foe appeared, and the air was chilly at this hour of the night, so that, after the roll had been called, they were dismissed, with orders to be ready to assemble at beat of drum.

Meanwhile, Revere and his companion had pushed on towards Concord, six miles beyond. On the road they met Dr. Samuel Prescott, a resident of that town, on his way home from a visit to Lexington. The three rode on together, the messengers telling their startling story to their new companion.

It was a fortunate meeting, as events fell out, for, as they pushed onward, Paul Revere somewhat in advance, the group of British officers of whom he had been told suddenly appeared in the road before him. Before he could make a movement to escape they were around him, and strong hands were upon his shoulders. The gallant scout was a prisoner in British hands.

Dawes, who had been closely behind him, suffered the same fate. Not so Prescott, who had been left a short distance behind by the ardent messengers. He sprang over the road-side wall before the officers could reach him, and hastened away through the fields towards Concord, bearing thither the story he had so opportunely learned.

The officers had already in their custody three Lexington men, who, in order to convey the news, had taken to the road while Revere and Dawes were closeted with the patriot leaders at Mr Clarke's. Riding back with their prisoners to a house near by, they questioned them at point of pistol as to their purpose.

Revere at first gave evasive answers to their questions. But at length, with a show of exultation, he said,—

"Gentlemen, you have missed your aim."

"What aim?" they asked.

"I came from Boston an hour after your troops left it," answered Revere. "And if I had not known that messengers were out in time enough to carry the news for fifty miles, you would not have stopped me without a shot."

The officers, startled by this confident assertion, continued their questions; but now, from a distance, the clang of a bell was heard. The Lexington men cried out at this,—

"The bells are ringing! The towns are alarmed! You are all dead men!"

This assertion, which the sound of the bells appeared to confirm, alarmed the officers. If the people should rise, their position would be a dangerous one. They must make their way back. But, as a measure of precaution, they took Revere's horse and cut the girths and bridles of the others. This done, they rode away at full speed, leaving their late captives on foot in the road. But this the two messengers little heeded, as they knew that their tidings had gone on in safe hands.

While all this was taking place, indeed, Prescott had regained the road, and was pressing onward at speed. He reached Concord about two o'clock in the morning, and immediately gave the alarm. As quickly as possible the bells were set ringing, and from all sides people, roused by the midnight alarum, thronged towards the centre square. As soon as the startling news was heard active measures were taken to remove the stores. All the men, and a fair share of the women, gave their aid, carrying ammunition, muskets, cartridges, and other munitions hastily to the nearest woods. Some of the cannon were buried in trenches, over which a farmer rapidly ran his plough, to give it the aspect of a newly-ploughed field. The militia gathered in all haste from neighboring villages, and at early day a large body of them were assembled, while the bulk of the precious stores had vanished.



Meanwhile, momentous events were taking place at Lexington. The first shots of the American Revolution had been fired; the first blood had been shed. It was about four o'clock when the marching troops came within sight of the town. Until now they had supposed that their secret was safe, and that they would take the patriots off their guard. But the sound of bells, clashing through the morning air, told a different tale. In some way the people had been aroused. Colonel Smith halted his men, sent a messenger to Boston for re-enforcements, and ordered Major Pitcairn, with six companies, to press on to Concord with all haste and secure the bridges.

News that the troops were at hand quickly reached Lexington. The drums were beaten, the minute-men gathered, and as the coming morning showed its first gray tinge in the east, it gave light to a new spectacle on Lexington green, that of a force of about a hundred armed militiamen facing five or six times their number of scarlet-coated British troops.

It was a critical moment. Neither party wished to fire. Both knew well what the first shot involved. But the moment of prudence did not last. Pitcairn galloped forward, sword in hand, followed quickly by his men, and shouted in ringing tones,—

"Disperse, you villains! Lay down your arms, you rebels, and disperse!"

The patriots did not obey. Not a man of them moved from his ranks. Not a face blanched. Pitcairn galloped back and bade his men surround the rebels in arms. At this instant some shots came from the British line. They were instantly answered from the American ranks. Pitcairn drew his pistol and discharged it.

"Fire!" he cried to his troops.

Instantly a fusillade of musketry rang out upon the morning air, four of the patriots fell dead, and the other, moved by sudden panic, fled. As they retreated another volley was fired, and more men fell. The others hid behind stone walls and buildings and returned the fire, wounding three of the soldiers and Pitcairn's horse.

Such was the opening contest of the American Revolution. Those shots were the signal of a tempest of war which was destined to end in the establishment of one of the greatest nations known to human history. As for the men who lay dead upon Lexington green, the first victims of a great cause, they would be amply revenged before their assailants set foot again on Boston streets.

The troops, elated with their temporary success, now pushed on briskly towards Concord, hoping to be in time to seize the stores. They reached there about seven o'clock, but only to find that they were too late, and that most of the material of war had disappeared. They did what damage they could, knocked open about sixty barrels of flour which they found, injured three cannon, threw some five hundred pounds of balls into wells and the mill-pond, and set fire to the court-house. A Mrs. Moulton put out the flames before they had done much harm.

The time taken in these exercises was destined to be fatal to many of those indulging in them. Militia were now gathering in haste from all the neighboring towns. The Concord force had withdrawn for re-enforcements, but about ten o'clock, being now some four hundred strong, the militia advanced and attacked the enemy on guard at North Bridge. A sharp contest ensued. Captain Isaac Davis and one of his men fell dead. Three of the British were killed, and several wounded and captured. The bridge was taken.

Colonel Smith was in a quandary. Should he stand his ground, or retreat before these despised provincials? Should veteran British troops fly before countrymen who had never fired gun before at anything larger than a rabbit? But these despised countrymen were gathering in hordes. On every side they could be seen hasting forward, musket or rifle in hand. Prudence just then seemed the better part of valor. About twelve o'clock Colonel Smith reluctantly gave the order to retreat.

It began as an orderly march; it ended as a disorderly flight. The story of Lexington had already spread far and wide and, full of revengeful fury, the minute-men hastened to the scene. Reaching the line of retreat, they hid behind houses, barns, and road-side walls, and poured a galling fire upon the troops, some of whom at every moment fell dead. During that dreadful six miles' march to Lexington, the helpless troops ran the gantlet of the most destructive storm of bullets they had ever encountered. On Lexington battle-green several of them fell. It is doubtful if a man of them would have reached Boston alive but for the cautious demand for re-enforcements which Colonel Smith had sent back in the early morning.

Lord Percy, with about nine hundred men, left Boston about nine o'clock in the morning of the 19th, and a short time after two in the afternoon reached the vicinity of Lexington. He was barely in time to rescue the exhausted troops of Colonel Smith. So worn out were they with fatigue that they were obliged to fling themselves on the ground for rest, their tongues hanging from their mouths through drought and weariness.

Little time could be given them for rest. The woods swarmed with militiamen, who scarcely could be kept back by the hollow square and planted cannon of Lord Percy's troops. In a short time the march was resumed. The troops had burned several houses at Lexington, a vandalism which added to the fury of the provincials. As they proceeded, the infuriated soldiers committed other acts of atrocity, particularly in West Cambridge, where houses were plundered and several unoffending persons murdered.

But for all this they paid dearly. The militia pursued them almost to the very streets of Boston, pouring in a hot fire at every available point. On nearing Charlestown the situation of the British troops became critical, for their ammunition was nearly exhausted, and a strong force was marching upon them from several points. Fortunately for them, they succeeded in reaching Charlestown before they could be cut off, and here the pursuit ended as no longer available. The British loss in killed, wounded, and missing in that dreadful march had been nearly three hundred; that of the Americans was about one hundred in all.

It was a day mighty in history, the birthday of the American Revolution; the opening event in the history of the United States of America, which has since grown to so enormous stature, and is perhaps destined to become the greatest nation upon the face of the earth. That midnight ride of Paul Revere was one of the turning-points in the history of mankind.


Down from the green hills of Vermont came in all haste a company of hardy mountaineers, at their head a large-framed, strong-limbed, keen-eyed frontiersman, all dressed in the homespun of their native hills, but all with rifles in their hands, a weapon which none in the land knew better how to use. The tidings of stirring events at Boston, spreading rapidly through New England, had reached their ears. The people of America had been attacked by English troops, blood had been shed at Lexington and Concord, war was begun, a struggle for independence was at hand. Everywhere the colonists, fiery with indignation, were seizing their arms and preparing to fight for their rights. The tocsin had rung. It was time for all patriots to be up and alert.

On the divide between Lakes George and Champlain stood a famous fort, time-honored old Ticonderoga, which had played so prominent a part in the French and Indian War. It was feebly garrisoned by English troops, and was well supplied with munitions of war. These munitions were, just then, of more importance than men to the patriot cause. The instant the news of Lexington reached the ears of the mountaineers of Vermont, axes were dropped, ploughs abandoned, rifles seized, and "Ticonderoga" was the cry. Ethan Allen, a leader in the struggle which had for several years been maintained between the settlers of that region and the colony of New York, and a man of vigor and decision, lost no time in calling his neighbors to arms, and the Green Mountain boys were quickly in the field.



Prompt as they had been, they were none too soon. Others of the patriots had their eyes on the same tempting prize. Other leaders were eagerly preparing to obtain commissions and raise men for the expedition. One of the first of these was Benedict Arnold, who had been made colonel for the purpose by the governor of Massachusetts, and hastened to the western part of the colony to raise men and take command of the enterprise.

He found men ready for the work, Green Mountain men, with the stalwart Ethan Allen at their head, but men by no means disposed to put themselves under any other commander than the sturdy leader of their choice.

Only a year or two before Allen, as their colonel, had led these hardy mountaineers against the settlers from New York who had attempted to seize their claims, and driven out the interlopers at sword's point. The courts at Albany had decided that the Green Mountain region was part of the colony of New York. Against this decision Allen had stirred the settlers to armed resistance, thundering out against the fulminations of the lawyers the opposite quotation from Scripture, "The Lord is the God of the hills, but He is not the God of the valleys," and rousing the men of the hills to fight what he affirmed to be God's battle for the right. In 1774, Governor Tryon, of New York, offered a reward of one hundred and fifty pounds for the capture of Allen. The insurgent mountaineers retorted by offering an equal reward for the capture of Governor Tryon. Neither reward had been earned, a year more had elapsed, and Ethan Allen, at the head of his Green Mountain boys, was in motion in a greater cause, to defend, not Vermont against New York, but America against England.

But, before proceeding, we must go back and bring up events to the point we have reached. The means for the expedition of the Green Mountain boys came from Connecticut, whence a sum of three hundred pounds had been sent in the hands of trusty agents to Allen and his followers. They were found to be more than ready, and the Connecticut agents started in advance towards the fort, leaving the armed band to follow. One of them, Noah Phelps by name, volunteered to enter the fort and obtain exact information as to its condition. He disguised himself and entered the fort as a countryman, pretending that he wanted to be shaved. While hunting for the barber he kept his eyes open and used his tongue freely, asking questions like an innocent rustic, until he had learned the exact condition of affairs, and came out with a clean face and a full mind.

Allen was now rapidly approaching, and, lest news of his movement should reach the fort, men were sent out on all the roads leading thither, to intercept passers. On the 8th of May all was ready. Allen, with one hundred and forty men, was to go to the lake by way of Shoreham, opposite the fort. Thirty men, under Captain Herrick, were to advance to Skenesborough, capture Major Skene, seize boats, and drop down the lake to join Allen.

All was in readiness for the completion of the work, when an officer, attended by a single servant, came suddenly from the woods and hurried to the camp. It was Benedict Arnold, who had heard of what was afoot, and had hastened forward to claim command of the mountaineers.

It was near nightfall. The advance party of Allen's men was at Hand's Cove, on the eastern side of the lake, preparing to cross. Arnold joined them and crossed with them, but on reaching the other side of the lake claimed the command. Allen angrily refused. The debate waxed hot; Arnold had the commission; Allen had the men: the best of the situation lay with the latter. He was about to settle the difficulty by ordering Arnold under guard, when one of his friends, fearing danger to the enterprise from the controversy, suggested that the two men should march side by side. This compromise was accepted and the dispute ended.

By this time day was about to break. Eighty-three men had landed, and the boats had returned for the rest. But there was evidently no time to lose if the fort was to be surprised. They must move at once, without waiting for the remainder of the party. A farmer's boy of the vicinity, who was familiar with the fort, offered to act as guide, and in a few minutes more the advance was begun, the two leaders at the head, Allen in command, Arnold as a volunteer.

The stockade was reached. A wicket stood open. Through this Allen charged followed by his men. A sentry posted there took aim, but his piece missed fire, and he ran back shouting the alarm. At his heels came the two leaders, at full speed, their men crowding after, till, before a man of the garrison appeared, the fort was fairly won.

Allen at once arranged his men so as to face each of the barracks. It was so early that most of those within were still asleep, and the fort was captured without the commander becoming aware that any thing unusual was going on. His whole command was less than fifty men, and resistance would have been useless with double their number of stalwart mountaineers on the parade-ground.

Allen forced one of the sentries who had been captured to show him the way to the quarters of Captain Delaplace, the commander. Reaching the chamber of the latter, the militia leader called on him in a stentorian voice to surrender. Delaplace sprang out of bed, and, half dressed, appeared with an alarmed and surprised face at the door.

"By whose authority?" he demanded, not yet alive to the situation.

"In the name of the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!" roared out the Green Mountaineer.

Here was a demand which backed as it was by a drawn sword and the sound of shouts of triumph outside, it would have been madness to resist. The fort was surrendered with scarcely a shot fired or a blow exchanged, and its large stores of cannon and ammunition, then sorely needed by the colonists besieging Boston, fell into American hands. The stores and military material captured included a hundred and twenty pieces of cannon, with a considerable number of small arms and other munitions of high value to the patriot cause.

While these events were taking place, Colonel Seth Warner was bringing the rear-guard across the lake, and was immediately sent with a hundred men to take possession of the fort at Crown Point, in which were only a sergeant and twelve men. This was done without difficulty, and a hundred more cannon captured.

The dispute between Arnold and Allen was now renewed, Massachusetts supporting the one, Connecticut the other. While it was being settled, the two joined in an expedition together, with the purpose of gaining full possession of Lake Champlain, and seizing the town of St. Johns, at its head. This failed, reinforcements having been sent from Montreal, and the adventurers returned to Ticonderoga, contenting themselves for the time being with their signal success in that quarter, and the fame on which they counted from their daring exploit.

The after-career of Ethan Allen was an interesting one, and worthy of being briefly sketched. Having taken Ticonderoga, he grew warm with the desire to take Canada, and, on September 25, 1775, made a rash assault on Montreal with an inadequate body of men. The support he hoped for was not forthcoming, and he and his little band were taken, Allen, soon after, being sent in chains to England.

Here he attracted much attention, his striking form, his ardent patriotism, his defiance of the English, even in captivity, and certain eccentricities of his manner and character interesting some and angering others of those with whom he had intercourse.

Afterwards he was sent back to America and held prisoner at Halifax and New York, in jails and prison-ships, being most of the time harshly treated and kept heavily ironed. He was released in 1778.

A fellow-prisoner, Alexander Graydon, has left in his memoirs a sketch of Allen, which gives us an excellent idea of the man. "His figure was that of a robust, large-framed man worn down by confinement and hard fare.... His style was a singular compound of local barbarisms, scriptural phrases, and Oriental wildness.... Notwithstanding that Allen might have had something of the insubordinate, lawless, frontier spirit in his composition, he appeared to me to be a man of generosity and honor."

Among the eccentricities of the man was a disbelief in Christianity,—much more of an anomaly in that day than at present,—and a belief in the transmigration of souls, it being one of his fancies that, after death, his spiritual part was to return to this world in the form of a large white horse.

On his release he did not join the army. Vermont had declared itself an independent State in 1777, and sought admittance to the Confederation. This New York opposed. Allen took up the cause, visited Congress on the subject, but found its members not inclined to offend the powerful State of New York. There was danger of civil war in the midst of the war for independence, and the English leaders, seeing the state of affairs, tried to persuade Allen and the other Green Mountain leaders to declare for the authority of the king. They evidently did not know Ethan Allen. He was far too sound a patriot to entertain for a moment such a thought. The letters received by him he sent in 1782 to Congress, and when the war ended Vermont was a part of the Union, though not admitted as a State till 1791. Allen was then dead, having been carried away suddenly by apoplexy in 1789.


Before the days of dynamite and the other powerful explosives which enable modern man to set at naught the most rigid conditions of nature, warfare with the torpedo was little thought of, gunpowder being a comparatively innocent agent for this purpose. In the second period of the Revolutionary War, when the British fleet had left Boston and appeared in the harbor of New York, preparatory to an attack on the latter city, the only methods devised by the Americans for protection of the Hudson were sunken hulks in the stream, chevaux-de-frise, composed of anchored logs, and fire-ships prepared to float down on the foe. All these proved of no avail. The current loosened the anchored logs, so that they proved useless; the fire-ships did no damage; and the batteries on shore were not able to hinder certain ships of the enemy from running the gantlet of the city, and ascending the Hudson to Tappan Sea, forty miles above. All the service done by the fire-ships was to alarm the captains of these bold cruisers, and induce them to run down the river again, and rejoin the fleet at the Narrows.

It was at this juncture that an interesting event took place, the first instance on record of the use of a torpedo-vessel in warfare. A Connecticut officer named Bushnell, an ingenious mechanician, had invented during his college-life an oddly-conceived machine for submarine explosion, to which he gave the appropriate name of "The American Turtle." He had the model with him in camp. A report of the existence of this contrivance reached General Putnam, then in command at New York. He sent for Bushnell, talked the matter over with him, examined the model, and was so pleased with it that he gave the inventor an order to construct a working-machine, supplying funds for this purpose.

Bushnell lost no time. In ten days the machine was ready. It was a peculiar-looking affair, justifying its name by its resemblance to a large ocean-turtle. In the head, or front portion, was an air-tight apartment, with a narrow entrance. It was claimed to be capable of containing fresh air enough to support life for half an hour. The bottom of the machine was ballasted with lead. Motion was obtained from an oar, adapted for rowing backward or forward, while a rudder under control of the operator served for steering purposes. In the bottom was a valved aperture, into which water could be admitted when it was desired to sink the machine; while the water could be ejected by two brass pumps when the operator wished to rise again.

The torpedo arrangement consisted of two pieces of oak timber, hollowed out and filled with powder, the space containing a clock-work arrangement that could be set to run any time desired, and a contrivance for exploding the powder when the time expired. This torpedo was fixed in the rear of the vessel, and was provided with a strong screw, that could be turned by the operator, so as to fasten it under the bottom of a ship or in other desired location. So far as appeared, the contrivance was not unpromising. It failed in its purpose, but solely, if the word of the operator may be taken, from the absence of an indispensable article of supply. What this was will appear in the sequel.

Captain Bushnell's brother had volunteered for the perilous enterprise. A sudden sickness prevented him, and his place was taken by a venturesome New London sergeant named Abijah Shipman, or, as rechristened by his companions, "Long Bige." He was an amphibious chap, half sailor, half soldier, long, thin, and bony, and not wanting in Yankee humor. He had courage enough to undertake any enterprise, if he could only be primed with rum and tobacco, articles which he deemed the leading necessaries of life.

It was an early hour of a July morning. The sun had not appeared on the eastern horizon. By a wharf-side on the Hudson floated the strange marine monster whose powers were about to be tested. On the shore stood Putnam and many other officers. In their midst was Abijah Shipman, ready to start on his dangerous enterprise. It was proposed to tow the nondescript affair into the stream, set it adrift on the tide, and trust to Abijah's skill to bring it under the bottom of the "Eagle," Admiral Howe's flag-ship, which had been chosen for the victim. If the magazine could be attached to the bottom of this vessel, she must surely be destroyed. But certainly the chances seemed greatly against its being thus attached.

Everything was ready. Abijah stepped on board his craft, entered the air-tight chamber, closed the cover, and was about to screw it down, when suddenly it flew open again, and his head emerged.

"Thunder and marlinspikes!" he exclaimed, "who's got a cud of tobacco? This old cud won't last, anyhow." And he threw away the worn-out lump on which he had been chewing.

A laugh followed his appeal. Such of the officers as used the weed felt hastily in their pockets. They were empty of the indispensable article. There was no hope for Abijah; daylight was at hand, time was precious, he must sail short of supplies.

"You see how it is, my brave fellow," said Putnam. "We Continental officers are too poor to raise even a tobacco plug. Push off. To-morrow, after you have sent the 'Eagle' on its last flight, some of our Southern officers shall order you a full keg of old Virginia weed."

"It's too bad," muttered Abijah, dejectedly. "And mind you, general, if the old 'Turtle' doesn't do her duty, it's all 'long of me goin' to sea without tobacco."

Down went Abijah's head, the cover was tightly screwed into place, and the machine was towed out into the channel and cast loose. Away it floated towards the British fleet, which lay well up in the Narrows. The officers made their way to the Battery, where they waited in much suspense the result of the enterprise.

An hour slowly moved by. Morning broke. The rim of the sun lifted over the distant waters. Yet the "Eagle" still rode unharmed. Something surely had happened. The torpedo had failed. Possibly the venturesome Abijah was reposing in his stranded machine on the bottom of the bay. Putnam anxiously swept the waters in the vicinity of the "Eagle" with his glass. Suddenly he exclaimed, "There he is!" The top of the "Turtle" had just emerged, in a little bay a short distance to the left of Howe's flag-ship.

It was seen as quickly by the sentinels on the "Eagle," who fired at the strange aquatic monster with such good aim that Abijah popped under the water as hastily as he had emerged from it. On board the "Eagle" confusion evidently prevailed. This strange contrivance had apparently filled the mariners with alarm. There were signs of a hasty effort to get under weigh, and wings were added to this haste when a violent explosion took place in the immediate vicinity of the fleet, hurling up great volumes of water into the air. The machine had been set to run an hour, and had duly gone off at its proper time, but, for some reason yet to be explained, not under the "Eagle." The whole fleet was not long in getting up its anchors, setting sail, and scurrying down the bay to a safer abiding-place below. And here they lay until the day of the battle of Long Island, not venturing again within reach of that naval nondescript.

As for the "Turtle," boats at once set out to Abijah's relief and he was taken off in the vicinity of Governor's Island. On landing and being questioned, he gave, in his own odd way, the reasons of his failure.

"Just as I said, gen'ral," he remarked "it all failed for the want of that cud of tobacco. You see, I am narvous without tobacco. I got under the 'Eagle's' bottom, but somehow the screw struck the iron bar that passes from the rudder pintle, and wouldn't hold on anyhow I could fix it. Just then I let go the oar to feel for a cud, to steady my narves, and I hadn't any. The tide swept me under her counter, and away I slipped top o' water. I couldn't manage to get back, so I pulled the lock and let the thunder-box slide. That's what comes of sailin' short of supplies. Say, can't you raise a cud among you now?"

There is another interesting story to tell, in connection with the British occupation of New York, which may be fitly given here. The battle of Long Island had been fought. The American forces had been safely withdrawn. Washington had moved the main body of his army, with the bulk of the stores, from the city, leaving General Putnam behind, in command of the rear-guard.

Putnam's position was a perilous one. The configuration of Manhattan Island is such that the British could land a force from the East River, throw it across the narrow width of the island, and cut off retreat from below. The only trust lay in the shore batteries, and they proved useless.

A British landing was made at Kip's Bay, about three miles above the city, where were works strong enough to have kept off the enemy for a long time, had they been well defended. As it was, the garrison fled in a panic, on the bare appearance of the British transports. At the same time three ships of war moved up the Hudson to Bloomingdale, and attacked the works there.

The flight of the Kip's Bay garrison left Putnam in the most imminent peril. He had about three thousand men, and a dangerous incumbrance of women, children, camp-followers, and baggage. The weather was very hot, the roads were narrow; everything tended to make the retreat difficult and perilous. The instant he heard of the unlooked-for cowardice of the Kip's Bay garrison and the landing of the enemy, he put his men in motion, and strained every nerve to push them past the point of danger before his channel of escape should be closed.

Safety seemed a forlorn hope. The British had landed in force above him. A rapid march would quickly bring them to the Hudson. The avenue of exit would be closed. The danger of capture was extreme. It was averted by one of those striking incidents of which so many give interest to the history of war. In this case it was a woman whose coolness and quick wit proved the salvation of Putnam's imperilled army.

Sir Henry Clinton, having fairly landed his men at Kip's Bay, put them quickly into motion to cut off Putnam's retreat. In his march for this object, his route lay along the eastern side of Murray Hill, where was the residence of Mrs. Murray, mother of Lindley Murray, the grammarian, and a most worthy old Quaker lady. Putnam had sent her word, some time before, of his perilous situation, begging her, if possible, to detain General Clinton, by entertaining him and his officers. If their march could be hindered for an hour it would be an invaluable service.

The patriotic old lady was quick to respond. Many of the British officers knew her, and when she appeared, with a welcoming smile, at her door, and cordially invited them to step in and take a friendly glass of wine, the offer was too tempting to be refused. Exhausted with the heat and with the labor of disembarking, they were only too glad to halt their columns for a short rest, and follow her into her comfortable dining-room. Here Mrs. Murray and the ladies of her family exerted themselves to entertain their guests. The wine proved excellent. The society and conversation of the ladies were a delightful change from the duties of the camp. The minutes became an hour before the guests dreamed of the flight of time.

At length a negro servant, who had been on the lookout from the housetop, entered the room, made a significant sign to his mistress, and at once withdrew. Mrs. Murray now rose, and with a meaning smile turned to her titled guest.

"Will you be kind enough to come with me, Sir Henry?" she asked. "I have something of great interest to show you."

"With pleasure," he replied, rising with alacrity, and following her from the room.

She led the way to the lookout in the upper story, and pointed to the northern side of the hill, where could be seen the American flag, proudly waving over the ranks of the retiring army. They were marching in close array into the open plain of Bloomingdale.

"How do you like the prospect, Sir Henry?" she calmly inquired. "We consider the view from this side an admirable one."

What Sir Henry replied, history has not recorded. No doubt it lacked the quality of politeness. Down the stairs he rushed, calling to his officers as he passed, leaped upon his horse, and could scarcely find words in his nervous haste to give orders for pursuit.

He was too late. The gap was closed; but nothing, except such baggage and stores as could not be moved, remained in the trap which, if sprung an hour earlier, would have caught an army.

Only for Mrs. Murray's inestimable service, Putnam and his men would probably have become prisoners of war. Her name lives in history among those of the many heroines who so ably played their part in the drama of American liberty, and who should hold high rank among the makers of the American Commonwealth.


In Philadelphia, on Second Street below Spruce, formerly stood an antiquated mansion, known by the name of "Loxley's House," it having been originally the residence of Lieutenant Loxley, who served in the artillery under Braddock, and took part in his celebrated defeat. During the Revolution this house was the scene of an interesting historical incident, which is well worth relating.

At that time it was occupied by a Quaker named Darrah, or perhaps we should say by his wife Lydia, who seems to have been the ruling spirit of the house. During the British occupation of Philadelphia, when patriots and royalists alike had to open their mansions to their none too welcome guests, the Darrah mansion was used as the quarters of the British adjutant-general. In that day it was somewhat "out of town," and was frequently the scene of private conferences of the higher officers, as being somewhat secluded.

On one chill and snowy day, the 2d of December, 1777, the adjutant-general appeared at the house and bade Mrs. Darrah to prepare the upper back room for a meeting of his friends, which would take place that night.

"They may stay late," he said, and added, emphatically, "be sure, Lydia, that your family are all in bed at an early hour. When our guests are ready to leave the house I will give you notice, that you may let us out and extinguish the fire and candles."

Mrs. Darrah obeyed. Yet she was so struck by the mystery with which he seemed inclined to surround the projected meeting, that she made up her mind to learn, if possible, what very secret business was afoot. She obeyed his orders literally, saw that her people were early in bed, and, after receiving the officers, retired herself to her room, but not to sleep. This conference might presage some peril to the American cause. If so, she wished to know it.

When she deemed the proper time had come, she removed her shoes, and in stocking feet stole softly along the passage to the door of the apartment where the officers were in consultation. Here the key-hole served the purpose to which that useful opening has so often been put, and enabled her to hear tidings of vital interest. For some time only a murmur of voices reaches her ears. Then silence fell, followed by one of the officers reading in a clear tone. She listened intently, for the document was of absorbing interest. It was an order from Sir William Howe, arranging for a secret attack on Washington's camp at Whitemarsh. The troops were to leave the city on the night of the 4th under cover of the darkness, and surprise the rebels before daybreak.

The fair eavesdropper had heard enough. Rarely had key-hole listener been so well rewarded. She glided back to her room, and threw herself on her bed. She was none too soon. In a few minutes afterwards steps were heard in the passage and then came a rap upon her door. The fair conspirator was not to be taken unawares; she feigned not to hear. The rap was repeated a second and a third time. Then the shrewd woman affected to awake, answered in a sleepy tone, and, learning that the adjutant-general and his friends were ready to leave, arose and saw them out.



Lydia Darrah slept no more that night. The secret she had learned banished slumber. What was to be done? This thought filled her mind the night long. Washington must be warned; but how? Should she trust her husband, or some other member of her family? No, they were all leaky vessels; she would trust herself alone. Before morning she had devised a plan of action, and for the first time since learning that eventful news the anxious woman gave her mind a moment's rest.

At early dawn she was astir. Flour was needed for the household. She woke her husband and told him of this, saying that she must make an early journey to Frankford to supply the needed stores. This was a matter of ordinary occurrence in those days, the people of Philadelphia being largely dependent upon the Frankford mills for their flour, and being obliged to go for it themselves. The idea of house-to-house delivery had not yet been born. Mr. Darrah advised that she should take the maid with her, but she declined. The maid could not be spared from her household duties, she said.

It was a cold December morning. The snow of the day before had left several inches of its white covering upon the ground. It was no very pleasant journey which lay before Mrs. Darrah. Frankford was some five miles away, and she was obliged to traverse this distance afoot, and return over the same route with her load of flour. Certainly comfort was not the ruling consideration in those days of our forefathers. A ten-mile walk through the snow for a bag of flour would be an unmentionable hardship to a nineteenth-century housewife.

On foot, and bag in hand, Mrs. Darrah started on her journey through the almost untrodden snow, stopping at General Howe's head-quarters, on Market Street near Sixth, to obtain the requisite passport to leave the city. It was still early in the day when the devoted woman reached the mills. The British outposts did not extend to this point; those of the Americans were not far beyond. Leaving her bag at the mill to be filled, Mrs. Darrah, full of her vital mission, pushed on through the wintry air, ready to incur any danger or discomfort if thereby she could convey to the patriot army the important information which she had so opportunely learned.

Fortunately, she had not far to go. At a short distance out she met Lieutenant-Colonel Craig, who had been sent out by Washington on a scouting expedition in search of information. She told him her story begged him to hasten to Washington with the momentous tidings and not to reveal her name and hurried back to the mill. Here she shouldered the bag of flour, and trudged her five miles home, reaching there in as reasonably short a time as could have been expected.

Night came. The next day passed. They were a night and day of anxious suspense for Lydia Darrah. From her window, when night had again fallen, she watched anxiously for movements of the British troops. Ah! there at length they go, long lines of them, marching steadily through the darkness, but as noiselessly as possible. It was not advisable to alarm the city. Patriot scouts might be abroad.

When morning dawned the restless woman was on the watch again. The roll of a drum came to her ears from a distance. Soon afterwards troops appeared, weary and discontented warriors, marching back. They had had their night's journey in vain. Instead of finding the Americans off their guard and an easy prey, they had found them wide awake, and ready to give them the hottest kind of a reception. After manoeuvring about their lines for a vulnerable point, and finding none, the doughty British warriors turned on their track and marched disconsolately homeward, having had their labor for their pains.

The army authorities were all at sea. How had this information got afoot? Had it come from the Darrah house? Possibly, for there the conference had been held. The adjutant-general hastened to his quarters, summoned the fair Quakeress to his room, and after locking the door against intrusion, turned to her with a stern and doubting face.

"Were any of your family up, Lydia," he asked, "on the night when I had visitors here?"

"No," she replied; "they all retired at eight o'clock.

This was quite true so far as retiring went. Nothing was said about a subsequent rising.

"It is very strange," he remarked, musingly. "You, I know, were asleep, for I knocked at your door three times before you heard me; yet it is certain that we were betrayed. I am altogether at a loss to conceive who could have given Washington information of our intended attack. But on arriving near his camp we found him ready, with troops under arms and cannon planted, prepared at all points to receive us. We have been compelled to turn on our heels, and march back home again, like a parcel of fools."

As may well be surmised, the patriotic Lydia kept her own counsel, and not until the British had left Philadelphia was the important secret of that signal failure made known.


All was terror in the valley of the Mohawk, for its fertile fields and happy homes were threatened with the horrors of Indian warfare. All New York State, indeed, was in danger. The hopes of American liberty were in danger. The deadliest peril threatened the patriotic cause; for General Burgoyne, with an army of more than seven thousand men, was encamped at St. John's, at the foot of Lake Champlain, prepared to sweep down that lake and Lake George, march to the valley of the upper Hudson, driving the feeble colonial forces from his path, and by joining with a force sent up the Hudson from New York City, cut off New England from the remaining colonies and hold this hot-bed of rebellion at his mercy. It was a well-devised and threatening scheme. How disastrously for the royalists it ended all readers of history know. With this great enterprise, however, we are not here concerned, but with a side issue of Burgoyne's march whose romantic incidents fit it for our pages.

On the Mohawk River, at the head of boat-navigation, stood a fort, built in 1758, and named Fort Stanwix; repaired in 1776, and named Fort Schuyler. The possession of this fort was important to General Burgoyne's plan. Its defence was of vital moment to the inhabitants of the Mohawk Valley. Interest for the time being centred round this outpost of the then almost unbroken wilderness.

On one side Lieutenant-Colonel St. Leger was despatched, at the head of seven hundred rangers, to sail up the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario to Oswego, and from that point to march southward, rousing and gathering the Indians as he went, capture Fort Schuyler, sweep the valley of the Mohawk with the aid of his savage allies, and join Burgoyne at Albany when his triumphant march should have reached that point.

On the other side no small degree of haste and consternation prevailed. Colonel Gansevoort had been placed in command at the fort with a garrison of seven hundred and fifty men. But he found it in a state of perilous dilapidation. Originally a strong square fortification, with bomb-proof bastions, glacis, covered way, and ditch outside the ramparts, it had been allowed to fall into decay, and strenuous efforts were needed to bring it into condition for defence.

Meanwhile, news of the coming danger had spread widely throughout the Mohawk Valley, and everywhere the most lively alarm prevailed. An Oneida Indian brought the news to the fort, and from there it made its way rapidly through the valley. Consternation was wide-spread. It was too late to look for aid to a distance. The people were in too great a panic to trust to themselves. That the rotten timbers of the old fort could resist assault seemed very doubtful. If they went down, and Brant with his Indians swept the valley, for what horrors might they not look? It is not surprising that, for the time, fear drove valor from almost every heart in the imperilled region.

Up Lake Oneida came the enemy, now seventeen hundred strong, St. Leger with his rangers having been joined by Johnson, Butler, and Brant with their Tories and Indians. Every tribe of the Iroquois had joined the invaders with the exception of the Oneidas, who remained faithful to the colonists.

On the 2d of August, 1777, Brent with his savage followers reached and invested the fort, the plumed and moccasined foe suddenly breaking from the forest, and with their wild war-whoops seeking to intimidate the beleaguered garrison. On the next day came St. Leger with his whole force. On the 4th the siege commenced. Bombs were planted and threw their shells into the fort; the Indians, concealed behind bushes and trees, picked off with their arrows the men who were diligently employed in strengthening the parapets; and during the evening the savages, spreading through the woods, sought, by frightful yells, to drive all courage from the hearts of the defenders.

Meanwhile, aid was approaching. The valor of the patriots, which fled at the first threat of danger, had returned. The enemy was now almost at their doors; their helpless families might soon be at the mercy of the ruthless savages; when General Herkimer, a valiant veteran, called for recruits, armed men flocked in numbers to his standard. He was quickly at the head of more than eight hundred men. He sent a messenger to the fort, telling Gansevoort of his approach, and bidding him to discharge three signal-guns to show that the tidings had reached him. His small army was called to a halt within hearing of the guns of the fort, as he deemed it the part of prudence to await the signal before advancing on the foe.

Unfortunately for the brave Herkimer, his men, lately over-timid, were now over-bold. His officers demanded to be led at once to the fort. Two of them, Cox and Paris by name, were impertinent in their demands, charging the veteran with cowardice.

"I am placed over you as a father and guardian," answered Herkimer, calmly, "and shall not lead you into difficulties, from which I may not be able to extricate you."

But their importunities and taunts continued, and at length the brave old man, angered by their insults, gave the word "March on!" He continued, "You, who want to fight so badly now, will be the first to run when you smell burnt powder."

On they marched, in tumultuous haste, and with the lack of discipline of untrained militia. It was now August 6, two days after the beginning of the siege. Indian scouts lurked everywhere in the forest, and the movements of the patriot army were closely watched. St. Leger was informed of their near approach, and at once took steps to intercept their advance.

Heedless of this, and of the cautious words of their commander, the vanguard pressed hastily on, winding along the road, and at length entering a deep curving ravine, over whose marshy bottom the road way was carried by a causeway of earth and logs. The borders of the ravine were heavily timbered, while a thick growth of underwood masked its sloping sides.

Utterly without precaution, the militia pushed forward into this doubtful passage, until the whole body, with the exception of the rear-guard, had entered it. Behind them came the baggage-wagons. All was silent, unnaturally silent, for not even the chirp of a squirrel nor the rustle of a prowling ground-animal broke the stillness. The fort was not far distant. The hurrying provincials hoped soon to join their beleaguered friends.

Suddenly, from the wooded hill to the west, around which the ravine curved in a semicircle, rose a frightful sound,—the Indian war-whoop from hundreds of savage throats. Hardly had it fallen on the startled ears of the patriots when the sharp crack of musketry followed, and leaden missiles were hurled into the crowded ranks. Arrows accompanied them, and spears and tomahawks came hurtling through the air hurled with deadly aim.

The patriot army had fallen into a dangerous ambuscade. Herkimer's prediction was fulfilled. The rear-guard, on hearing the warlike sounds in front, turned in panic flight, leaving their comrades to their fate. No one can regret to hear that they were pursued by the Indians, and suffered more than if they had stood their ground.

As for the remainder of the force, flight was impossible. They had entered a trap. It was fight or fall. Bullets, arrows, war-axes hurtled through their ranks. Frightful yells still filled the air. Many fell where they stood. Herkimer was severely wounded, his horse being killed and his own leg shattered. But, with a composure and cool courage that have rarely been emulated, he ordered the saddle to be taken from his horse and placed against a large beech-tree near by. Here seated, with his men falling and the bullets of the enemy whistling perilously near, he steadily gave his orders while many of those who had called him coward were in full flight. During the heat of the action he took his tinder box from his pocket, calmly lighted his pipe, and sat smoking as composedly as though by his own fireside. A striking spectacle, that old man, sitting in the midst of hottest battle, with the life blood oozing from his shattered leg, smoking and giving his orders with the quiet composure of one on dress-parade! It is one of the most imposing pictures in the portrait-gallery of American history.

The battle went on. If it was to be fight or fall, the brave frontiersmen decided it should be fight. Great confusion reigned at first, but courage soon returned, and though men fell in numbers, the survivors stood their ground like veterans. For nearly an hour the fierce affray continued. The enemy surrounded the provincials on all sides, and were pressing step by step closer. The whole force might have been slain or captured, but for a wise suggestion of one of their number and an admirable change in their line of battle. Each small group was formed into a circle, and thus they met the enemy at all points. This greatly increased their defensive powers. So destructive now became their fire that the British soldiers rushed upon them in rage, seeking to break their line by a bayonet charge. They were boldly met, and a hand-to-hand death-struggle began.

At this moment a heavy thunder-peal broke from the darkening skies. Down poured the rain in drenching showers. Lightning filled the air. Crash after crash of thunder rolled through the sky. Checked in their blood-thirst by the fury of the elements, the combatants hastily separated and ran for the shelter of the trees, vanquished by water where fire had failed to overcome their rage.

The affair so far had not been unlike that of Braddock's defeat, some twenty years before. But these were American militia, not British regulars, frontiersmen who knew too much of Indian fighting to stand in their ranks and be shot down. They had long since taken to the trees, and fought the savages in their own way. To this, perhaps, may be ascribed the difference in result from that of the Braddock fight.

After the rain, the patriots gained better ground and adopted new and useful tactics. Before, when the Indians noticed a shot from behind a tree, they would rush forward and tomahawk the unlucky provincial before he could reload. But now two men were placed behind each tree, so that when the whooping savage sprang forward with his tomahawk a second bullet was ready to welcome him. The fire from the American side now grew so destructive that the Indians began to give way.

A body of Johnson's Greens came up to their support. These were mostly loyalist refugees from the Mohawk Valley, to whom the patriot militia bore the bitterest enmity. Recognizing them, the maddened provincials leaped upon them with tiger-like rage, and a hand-to-hand contest began, in which knives and bayonets took the place of bullets, and the contest grew brutally ferocious.

At this moment a firing was heard in the direction of the fort. New hope sprung into the hearts of the patriots. Was aid coming to them from the garrison? It seemed so, indeed, for soon a body of men in Continental uniform came marching briskly towards them. It was a ruse on the part of the enemy which might have proved fatal. These men were Johnson Green's disguised as Continentals. A chance revealed their character. One of the patriots seeing an acquaintance among them, ran up to shake hands with him. He was seized and dragged into their ranks. Captain Gardenier, perceiving this, sprang forward, spear in hand, and released his man; but found himself in a moment engaged in a fierce combat, in which he killed two of his antagonists and wounded another, but was himself seriously hurt.

"For God's sake, captain," cried some of the militia, "you are killing our own men!"

"They are not our own men, they are Tories!" yelled back the captain. "Fire away!"

Fire they did, and with such deadly effect that numbers of the disguised Tories fell, and nearly as many Indians. In an instant the battle was violently raging again, with roar of rifles, clash of steel, yells of combatants, and the wild war-whoops of the savages.

But the Indians by this time had enough of it. The stubborn defence of the provincials had sadly thinned their ranks, and seeing the Tories falling back, they raised their cry of retreat, "Oonah! Oonah!" and at once broke and fled. The Tories and regulars, dismayed by their flight, quickly followed, the bullets of the provincials adding wings to their speed.

Thus ended one of the hottest and most deadly, for the numbers engaged, of the battles of the Revolution. Of the provincials, less than half of them ever saw their homes again. The loss of the enemy was probably still heavier. General Herkimer died ten days after the battle. The militia, despite the well-laid ambuscade into which they had marched, were the victors, but they had been so severely handled that they were unable to accomplish their design, the relief of the fort.

As for the garrison, they had not been idle during the battle. The sound of the combat had been borne to their ears, and immediately after the cessation of the rain Colonel Willett made a sally from the fort, at the head of two hundred and fifty men. The camp of the enemy had been depleted for the battle, and the sortie proved highly successful. The remnants of Johnson's regiment were soon driven from their camp. The Indian encampment beyond was demolished, its savage guards flying in terror from "the Devil," by which expressive name they called Colonel Willett. Wagons were hurried from the fort, camp equipage, British flags, papers, and the effects of the officers loaded into them, and twenty-one loads of this useful spoil triumphantly carried off. As the victorious force was returning, Colonel St. Leger appeared, with a strong body of men, across the river, just in time to be saluted by a shower of bullets, the provincials then retiring, without the loss of a man. The setting sun that day cast its last rays on five British standards, displayed from the walls of the fort, with the stars and stripes floating proudly above them. The day had ended triumphantly for the provincials, though it proved unsuccessful in its main object; for the fort was still invested, and the rescuing force were in no condition to come to its aid.

The investment, indeed, was so close that the garrison knew nothing of the result of the battle. St. Leger took advantage of this, and sent a white flag to the fort with false information, declaring that the relief-party had been annihilated, that Burgoyne had reached and captured Albany, and that, unless the fort was surrendered, he could not much longer restrain the Indians from devastating the valley settlements with fire and tomahawk.

This story Gansevoort did not half believe, and answered the messenger with words of severe reprobation for his threat of an Indian foray.

"After you get out of this fort," he concluded, "you may turn around and look at its outside, but never expect to come in again, unless as a prisoner. Before I would consent to deliver this garrison to such a murdering set as your army, by your own account, consists of, I would suffer my body to be filled with splinters and set on fire, as you know has at times been practised by such hordes of women-and children-killers as belong to your army."

After such a message there was no longer question of surrender, and the siege was strongly pushed. The enemy, finding that their guns had little effect on the sod-work of the fort, began a series of approaches by sapping and mining. Colonel Gansevoort, on his part, took an important step. Fearing that his stock of food and ammunition might give out, he determined to send a message to General Schuyler, asking for succor.

Colonel Willet volunteered for this service, Lieutenant Stockwell joining him. The night chosen was a dark and stormy one. Shower followed shower. The sentinels of the enemy were not likely to be on the alert. Leaving the fort at the sally-port at ten o'clock, the two messengers crept on hands and knees along a morass till they reached the river. This they crossed on a log, and entered a dense wood which lay beyond. No sentinel had seen them. But they lost their way in the darkness, and straggled on blindly until the barking of a dog told them that they were near an Indian camp.

Progress was now dangerous. Advance or retreat alike might throw them into the hands of the savage foe. For several hours they stood still, in a most annoying and perilous situation. The night passed; dawn was at hand; fortunately now the clouds broke the morning-star shone in the east, and with this as a guide they resumed their journey. Their expedition was still a dangerous one. The enemy might strike their trail in the morning light. To break this they now and then walked in the bed of a stream. They had set out on the night of the 10th. All day of the 11th they pushed on, with a small store of crackers and cheese as their only food. Another night and day passed. On the afternoon of the 12th, nearly worn out with hardship, they reached the settlement of the German Flats. Here horses were procured, and they rode at full speed to General Schuyler's head-quarters at Stillwater.

Schuyler had already heard of Herkimer's failure, and was laying plans for the relief of the fort. His purpose was opposed by many of his officers, who were filled with fear of the coming of Burgoyne. Schuyler was pacing the floor in anxious thought when he heard the low remark,—

"He means to weaken the army."

Schuyler turned towards the speaker, so angry that he bit into pieces a pipe he was smoking, and exclaimed,—

"Gentlemen, I shall take the responsibility; where is the brigadier that will take command of the relief? I shall beat up for volunteers to-morrow."

General Arnold, one of the boldest and most impulsive men in the army, immediately asked for the command. The next morning the drums beat, and before noon eight hundred volunteers were enrolled. Arnold at once advanced, but, feeling that his force was too weak, stopped at Fort Dayton till reinforcements could reach him.

And now occurred one of the most striking events in the history of the war, that of the defeat of an invading army by stratagem without sight of soldier or musket. It is to be told from two points of view, that of the garrison, and that of the army of relief. As regards the garrison, its situation was becoming critical. St. Leger's parallels were approaching the fort. The store of provisions was running low. Many of the garrison began to hint at surrender, fearing massacre by the Indians should the fort be taken by assault. Gansevoort, despairing of further successful resistance, had decided upon a desperate attempt to cut through the enemy's lines. Suddenly, on the 22d, there came a sudden lull in the siege. The guns ceased their fire; quick and confused movements could be seen; there were signs of flight. Away went the besiegers, Indians and whites alike, in panic disarray, and with such haste that their tents, artillery, and camp equipage were left behind. The astonished garrison sallied forth to find not a foeman in the field, yet not a sign to show what mysterious influence had caused this headlong flight. It was not from the face of an enemy, for no enemy was visible, and the mystery was too deep for the garrison to fathom.

To learn the cause of this strange event we must return to Arnold and his stratagem. He had, on learning the peril of the fort, been about to advance despite the smallness of his force, when an opportunity occurred to send terror in advance of his march. There were in his hands several Tory prisoners, among them an ignorant, coarse, half-idiotic fellow named Hon-Yost Schuyler, who had been condemned to death for treason. His mother pleaded for his life, casting herself on her knees before Arnold, and imploring for her son with tears and entreaties. She found him at first inexorable, but he changed his tone and appeared to soften as a fortunate idea came to his mind.

Her son's life should be spared, but upon conditions. These were, that he should go to Fort Schuyler and, by stories of the immense force upon the march, endeavor to alarm St. Leger. Hon-Yost readily consented, leaving his brother as a hostage in Arnold's hands.

The seemingly foolish fellow was far from being an idiot. Before leaving the camp he had several bullet-holes shot through his coat. He arranged also with a friendly Oneida Indian to follow and confirm his tale. Thus prepared, he set out for St. Leger's camp. Reaching it, he ran breathlessly among the Indians, seemingly in a state of terror. Many of the savages knew him, and he was eagerly questioned as to what had happened.

The Americans were coming, he replied; numbers of them, hosts of them; he had barely escaped with his life; he had been riddled with bullets. He pointed to his coat in evidence. How many were there? he was asked. Hon-Yost, in reply, shook his head mysteriously, and pointed to the leaves on the trees.

His seeming alarm communicated itself to the Indians. They had been severely dealt with at Oriskany. The present siege dragged on. They were dissatisfied. While the chiefs debated and talked of flight, the Oneida appeared with several others of his tribe whom he had picked up on the way. These told the same story. A bird had brought them the news. The valley was swarming with soldiers. The army of Burgoyne had been cut to pieces, said one. Arnold had three thousand men, said another. Others pointed to the leaves, as Hon-Yost had done, and meaningly shook their heads.

The panic spread among the Indians. St. Leger stormed at them; Johnson pleaded with them; but all in vain. Drink was offered them, but they refused it. "The pow-wow said we must go," was their answer to every remonstrance, and go they did.

"You said there would be no fighting for us Indians," said a chief. "We might go down and smoke our pipes. But many of our warriors have been killed, and you mean to sacrifice us all."

Oaths and persuasions proved alike useless. The council broke up and the Indians took to flight. Their panic communicated itself to the whites. Dropping everything but their muskets, they fled in terror for their boats on Oneida Lake, with such haste that many of them threw away arms and knapsacks in their mad flight.

The Indians, who had started the panic, grew merry on seeing the wild terror of their late allies. They ran behind them, shouting, "They are coming, they are coming!" and thus added wings to their flight. They robbed, stripped, and even killed many of them, plundered them of their boats, and proved a more formidable foe than the enemy from whom they fled.

Half-starved and empty-handed, the whites hurried to Oswego and took boat on the lake for Montreal, while their Indian allies, who had proved of more harm than good, went merrily home to their villages, looking upon the flight as a stupendous joke.

When Arnold, hearing of what had happened, hurried to the fort, the enemy had utterly vanished, except a few whom Gansevoort's men had brought in as prisoners. Hon-Yost soon came back, having taken the first opportunity to slip away from the flying horde. He had amply won his pardon.

Thus ended the siege of Fort Schuyler; in its way, considering the numbers engaged, the most desperate and bloody struggle of the Revolution, and of the greatest utility as an aid to the subsequent defeat of Burgoyne. As regards its singular termination, it is without parallel in the history of American wars. Hon-Yost had proved himself the most surprising idiot on record.


While Major André was dying the death of a spy, General Arnold, his tempter and betrayer, was living the life of a cherished traitor, in the midst of the British army at New York. This was a state of affairs far from satisfactory to the American authorities. The tool had suffered; the schemer had escaped. Could Arnold be captured, and made to pay the penalty of his treason, it would be a sharp lesson of retribution to any who might feel disposed to follow his base example.

Washington had his secret correspondents in New York, and from them had learned that Arnold was living in quarters adjoining those of Sir Henry Clinton, at but a short distance from the river, and apparently with no thought of or precaution against danger. It might be possible to seize him and carry him away bodily from the midst of his new friends.

Sending for Major Henry Lee, a brave and shrewd cavalry leader, Washington broached to him this important matter, and submitted a plan of action which seemed to him to promise success.

"It is a delicate and dangerous project," he said. "Much depends on our finding an agent fit for such hazardous work. You may have the man in your corps. Whoever volunteers for this duty will lay me under the greatest personal obligation, and may expect an ample reward. But no time is to be lost. He must proceed, if possible, to-night."

"Not only courage and daring, but very peculiar talent, are needed for such an enterprise," said Lee. "I have plenty of brave men, but can think of only one whom I can recommend for such a duty as this. His name is John Champe; his rank, sergeant-major, but there is one serious obstacle in the way,—he must appear to desert, and I fear that Champe has too high a sense of military honor for that."

"Try him," said Washington. "The service he will do to his country far outweighs anything he can do in the ranks. Rumor says that other officers of high rank are ready to follow Arnold's example. If we can punish this traitor, he will have no imitators."

"I can try," answered Lee. "I may succeed. Champe is not without ambition, and the object to be attained is a great one. I may safely promise him the promotion which he ardently desires."

"That will be but part of his reward," said Washington.

Lee sent for Champe. There entered in response a young man, large and muscular of build, saturnine of countenance; a grave, thoughtful, silent person, safe to trust with a secret, for his words were few, his sense of honor high. In all the army there was not his superior in courage and persistence in anything he should undertake.

It was no agreeable surprise to the worthy fellow to learn what he was desired to do. The plan was an admirable one, he admitted, it promised the best results. He did not care for peril, and was ready to venture on anything that would not involve his honor; but to desert from his corps, to win the scorn and detestation of his fellows, to seem to play the traitor to his country,—these were serious obstacles. He begged to be excused.

Lee combated his objections. Success promised honor to himself and to his corps, the gratitude of his country, the greatest service to his beloved commander-in-chief. Desertion, for such a purpose, carried with it no dishonor, and any stain upon his character would vanish when the truth became known. The conference was a long one; in the end Lee's arguments proved efficacious; Champe yielded, and promised to undertake the mission.

The necessary instructions had already been prepared by Washington himself. The chosen agent was to deliver letters to two persons in New York, who were in Washington's confidence, and who would lend him their assistance. He was to use his own judgment in procuring aid for the capture of Arnold, and to lay such plans as circumstances should suggest; and he was strictly enjoined not to kill the traitor under any circumstances.

All this settled, the question of the difficulties in the way arose. Between the American camp and the British outpost were many pickets and patrols. Parties of marauding patriots, like those that had seized André, might be in the way. Against these Lee could offer no aid. The desertion must seem a real one. All he could do would be to delay pursuit. For the rest, Champe must trust to his own skill and daring.

Eleven o'clock was the hour fixed. At that hour the worthy sergeant, taking his cloak, valise, and orderly-book, and with three guineas in his pocket, which Lee had given him, secretly mounted his horse and slipped quietly from the camp.

Lee immediately went to bed, and seemingly to sleep, though he had never been more wide awake. A half-hour passed. Then a heavy tread was heard outside the major's quarters, and a loud knock came upon his door. It was some time before he could be aroused.

"Who is there?" he asked, in sleepy tones.

"It is I, Captain Carnes," was the reply. "I am here for orders. One of our patrols has just fallen in with a dragoon, who put spurs to his horse on being challenged, and fled at full speed. He is a deserter, and must be pursued."

Lee still seemed half asleep. He questioned the officer in a drowsy way, affecting not to understand him. When at length the captain's purpose was made clear to his seemingly drowsy wits, Lee ridiculed the idea that one of his men had deserted. Such a thing had happened but once during the whole war. He could not believe it possible.

"It has happened now," persisted Captain Carnes. "The fellow is a deserter, and must be pursued."

Lee still affected incredulity, and was with difficulty brought to order that the whole squadron should be mustered, to see if any of them were missing. This done, there was no longer room for doubt or delay. Champe, the sergeant-major, was gone, and with him his arms, baggage, and orderly-book.

Captain Carnes ordered that pursuit should be made at once. Here, too, Lee made such delay as he could without arousing suspicion; and when the pursuing party was ready he changed its command, giving it to Lieutenant Middleton, a tender-hearted young man, whom he could trust to treat Champe mercifully if he should be overtaken. These various delays had the desired effect. By the time the party started, Champe had been an hour on the road.

It was past twelve o'clock of a starry night when Middleton and his men took to horse, and galloped away on the track of the deserter. It was a plain track, unluckily; a trail that a child might have followed. There had been a shower at sunset, sharp enough to wash out all previous hoof-marks from the road. The footprints of a single horse were all that now appeared. In addition to this, the horse-shoes of Lee's legion had a private mark, by which they could be readily recognized. There could be no question; those foot prints were made by the horse of the deserter.

Here was a contingency unlooked for by Lee. The pursuit could be pushed on at full speed. At every fork or cross-road a trooper sprang quickly from his horse and examined the trail. It needed but a glance to discover what road had been taken. On they went, with scarce a moment's loss of time, and with sure knowledge that they were on the fugitive's track.

At sunrise the pursuing party found themselves at the top of a ridge in the road, near the "Three Pigeons," a road-side tavern several miles north of the village of Bergen. Looking ahead, their eyes fell on the form of the deserter. He was but half a mile in advance. They had gained on him greatly during the night.

At the same moment Champe perceived them. Both parties spurred their horses to greater speed, and away went fugitive and pursuers at a rattling pace. The roads in that vicinity were well known to them all. There was a short cut through the woods from near the Three Pigeons to the bridge below Bergen. Middleton sent part of his men by this route to cut off the fugitive, while he followed the main road with the rest. He felt sure now that he had the deserter, for he could not reach the British outposts without crossing the bridge.

On they went. No long time elapsed before the two divisions met at the bridge. But Champe was not between them. The trap had been sprung, but had failed to catch its game. He had in some strange manner disappeared. What was to be done? How had he eluded them?

Middleton rode hastily back to Bergen, and inquired if a dragoon had passed through the village that morning.

"Yes; and not long ago."

"Which way did he go?"

"That we cannot say. No one took notice."

Middleton examined the road. Other horses had been out that morning, and the Lee corps footprint was no longer to be seen. But at a short distance from the village the trail again became legible and the pursuit was resumed. In a few minutes Champe was discovered. He had reached a point near the water's edge, and was making signals to certain British galleys which lay in the stream.

The truth was that the fugitive knew of the short cut quite as well as his pursuers, and had shrewdly judged that they would take it, and endeavor to cut him off before he could reach the enemy's lines at Paulus Hook. He knew, besides, that two of the king's galleys lay in the bay, a mile from Bergen, and in front of the small settlement of Communipaw. Hither he directed his course, lashing his valise, as he went, upon his back.

Champe now found himself in imminent peril of capture. There had been no response from the galleys to his signals. The pursuers were close at hand, and pushing forward with shouts of triumph. Soon they were but a few hundred yards away. There was but one hope left. Champe sprang from his horse, flung away the scabbard of his sword, and with the naked blade in his hand ran across the marshy ground before him, leaped into the waters of the bay, and swam lustily for the galleys, calling loudly for help.

A boat had just before left the side of the nearest galley. As the pursuers reined up their horses by the side of the marsh, the fugitive was hauled in and was swiftly rowed back to the ship. Middleton, disappointed in his main object, took the horse, cloak, and scabbard of the fugitive and returned with them to camp.

"He has not been killed?" asked Lee, hastily, on seeing these articles.

"No; the rascal gave us the slip. He is safely on a British galley, and this is all we have to show."

A few days afterwards Lee received a letter from Champe, in a disguised hand and without signature, transmitted through a secret channel which had been arranged, telling of his success up to this point, and what he proposed to do.

As it appeared, the seeming deserter had been well received in New York. The sharpness of the pursuit and the orderly-book which he bore seemed satisfactory proofs of his sincerity of purpose. The captain of the galley sent him to New York, with a letter to Sir Henry Clinton.

Clinton was glad to see him. For a deserter to come to him from a legion so faithful to the rebel cause as that of Major Lee seemed an evidence that the American side was rapidly weakening. He questioned Champe closely. The taciturn deserter answered him briefly, but with such a show of sincerity as to win his confidence. The interview ended in Clinton's giving him a couple of guineas, and bidding him to call on General Arnold, who was forming a corps of loyalists and deserters, and who would be glad to have his name on his rolls. This suggestion hit Champe's views exactly. It was what had been calculated upon by Washington in advance. The seeming deserter called upon Arnold, who received him courteously, and gave him quarters among his recruiting sergeants. He asked him to join his legion, but Champe declined, saying that if caught by the rebels in this corps he was sure to be hanged.

A few days sufficed the secret agent to lay his plans. He delivered the letters which had been given him, and made arrangements with one of the parties written to for aid in the proposed abduction of Arnold. This done, he went to Arnold, told him that he had changed his mind, and agreed to enlist in his legion. His purpose now was to gain free intercourse with him, that he might learn all that was possible about his habits.

Arnold's quarters were at No. 3 Broadway. Back of the house was a garden, which extended towards the water's edge. Champe soon learned that it was Arnold's habit to seek his quarters about midnight, and that before going to bed he always visited the garden. Adjoining this garden was a dark alley, which led to the street. In short, all the surroundings and circumstances were adapted to the design, and seemed to promise success.

The plan was well laid. Two patriotic accomplices were found. One of them was to have a boat in readiness by the river-side. On the night fixed upon they were to conceal themselves in Arnold's garden at midnight, seize and gag him when he came out for his nightly walk, and take him by way of the alley, and of unfrequented streets in the vicinity, to the adjoining river-side. In case of meeting any one and being questioned, it was arranged that they should profess to be carrying a drunken soldier to the guard-house. Once in the boat, Hoboken could quickly be reached. Here assistance from Lee's corps had been arranged for.



The plot was a promising one. Champe prepared for it by removing some of the palings between the garden and the alley. These he replaced in such a way that they could be taken out again without noise. All being arranged, he wrote to Lee, and told him that on the third night from that date, if all went well, the traitor would be delivered upon the Jersey shore. He must be present, at an appointed place in the woods at Hoboken, to receive him.

This information gave Lee the greatest satisfaction. On the night in question he left camp with a small party, taking with him three led horses, for the prisoner and his captors, and at midnight sought the appointed spot. Here he waited with slowly declining hope. Hour after hour passed; the gray light of dawn appeared in the east; the sun rose over the waters; yet Champe and his prisoner failed to appear. Deeply disappointed, Lee led his party back to camp.

The cause of the failure may be told in a few words. It was a simple one. The merest chance saved Arnold from the fate which he so richly merited. This was, that on the very day which Champe had fixed for the execution of his plot, Arnold changed his quarters, his purpose being to attend to the embarkation of an expedition to the south, which was to be under his command.

In a few days Lee received a letter from his agent, telling the cause of failure, and saying that, at present, success was hopeless. In fact, Champe found himself unexpectedly in an awkward situation. Arnold's American legion was to form part of this expedition. Champe had enlisted in it. He was caught in a trap of his own setting. Instead of crossing the Hudson that night, with Arnold as his prisoner, he found himself on board a British transport, with Arnold as his commander. He was in for the war on the British side; forced to face his fellow-countrymen in the field.

We need not tell the story of Arnold's expedition to Virginia, with the brutal incidents which history relates concerning it. It will suffice to say that Champe formed part of it, all his efforts to desert proving fruitless. It may safely be said that no bullet from his musket reached the American ranks, but he was forced to brave death from the hands of those with whom alone he was in sympathy.

Not until Arnold's corps had joined Cornwallis at Petersburg did its unwilling recruit succeed in escaping. Taking to the mountains he made his way into North Carolina, and was not long in finding himself among friends. His old corps was in that State, taking part in the pursuit of Lord Rawdon. It had just passed the Congaree in this pursuit when, greatly to the surprise of his old comrades, the deserter appeared in their ranks. Their surprise was redoubled when they saw Major Lee receive him with the utmost cordiality. A few minutes sufficed to change their surprise to admiration. There was no longer occasion for secrecy. Champe's story was told, and was received with the utmost enthusiasm by his old comrades. So this was the man they had pursued so closely, this man who had been seeking to put the arch-traitor within their hands! John Champe they declared, was a comrade to be proud of, and his promotion to a higher rank was the plain duty of the military authorities.

Washington knew too well, however, what would be the fate of his late agent, if taken by the enemy, to subject him to this peril. He would have been immediately hanged. Champe was, therefore, discharged from the service, after having been richly rewarded by the commander-in-chief. When Washington, seventeen years afterwards, was preparing against a threatened war with the French, he sent to Lee for information about Champe, whom he desired to make a captain of infantry. He was too late. The gallant sergeant-major had joined a higher corps. He had enlisted in the grand army of the dead.


Our story takes us back to the summer of 1780, a summer of war, suffering, and outrage in the States of the South. General Gates, at the head of the army of the South, was marching towards Camden, South Carolina, filled with inflated hopes of meeting and defeating Cornwallis. How this hopeful general was himself defeated, and how, in consequence, the whole country south of Virginia fell under British control, history relates; we are not here concerned with it.

Gates's army had crossed the Pedee River and was pushing southward. During its march a circumstance occurred which gave great amusement to the trim soldiery. There joined the army a volunteer detachment of about twenty men, such a heterogeneous and woe-begone corps that Falstaff himself might have hesitated before enlisting them. They were a mosaic of whites and blacks, men and boys, their clothes tatters, their equipments burlesques on military array, their horses—for they were all mounted—parodies on the noble war-charger. At the head of this motley array was a small-sized, thin-faced, modest-looking man, his uniform superior to that of his men, but no model of neatness, yet with a flashing spirit in his eye that admonished the amused soldiers not to laugh at his men in his presence. Behind his back they laughed enough. The Pedee volunteers were a source of ridicule to the well-clad Continentals that might have caused trouble had not the officers used every effort to repress it.

As for Gates, he offered no welcome to this ragged squad. The leader modestly offered him some advice about the military condition of the South, but the general in command was clothed in too dense an armor of conceit to be open to advice from any quarter, certainly not from the leader of such a Falstaffian company, and he was glad enough to get rid of him by sending him on a scouting expedition in advance of the army, to watch the enemy and report his movements.

This service precisely suited him to whom it was given, for this small, non-intrusive personage was no less a man than Francis Marion, then but little known, but destined to become the Robin Hood of partisan warriors, the celebrated "Swamp-Fox" of historical romance and romantic history.

Marion had appeared with the title of colonel. He left the army with the rank of general. Governor Rutledge, who was present, knew him and his worth, gave him a brigadier's commission, and authorized him to enlist a brigade for guerilla work in the swamps and forests of the State.

Thus raised in rank, Marion marched away with his motley crew of followers, they doubtless greatly elevated in dignity to feel that they had a general at their head. The army indulged in a broad laugh, after they had gone, at Marion's miniature brigade of scarecrows. They laughed at the wrong man, for after their proud array was broken and scattered to the winds, and the region they had marched to relieve had become the prey of the enemy, that modest partisan alone was to keep alive the fire of liberty in South Carolina, and so annoy the victors that in the end they hardly dared show their faces out of the forts. The Swamp-Fox was to pave the way for the reconquest of the South by the brave General Greene.

No long time elapsed before Marion increased his disreputable score to a brigade of more respectable proportions, with which he struck such quick and telling blows from all sides on the British and Tories, that no nest of hornets could have more dismayed a marauding party of boys. The swamps of the Pedee were his head-quarters. In their interminable and thicket-hidden depths he found hiding-places in abundance, and from them he made rapid darts, north, south, east, and west, making his presence felt wherever he appeared, and flying back to shelter before his pursuers could overtake him. His corps was constantly changing, now swelling, now shrinking, now little larger than his original ragged score, now grown to a company of a hundred or more in dimensions. It was always small. The swamps could not furnish shelter and food for any large body of men.

Marion's head-quarters were at Snow's Island, at the point where Lynch's Creek joins the Pedee River. This was a region of high river-swamp, thickly forested, and abundantly supplied with game. The camp was on dry land, but around it spread broad reaches of wet thicket and canebrake, whose paths were known only to the partisans, and their secrets sedulously preserved. As regards the mode of life here of Marion and his men, there is an anecdote which will picture it better than pages of description.

A young British officer was sent from Georgetown to treat with Marion for an exchange of prisoners. The Swamp-Fox fully approved of the interview, being ready enough to rid himself of his captives, who were a burden on his hands. But he was too shrewd to lay bare the ways that led to his camp. The officer was blindfolded, and led by devious paths through canebrake, thicket, and forest to the hidden camp. On the removal of the bandage from his eyes he looked about him with admiration and surprise. He found himself in a scene worthy of Robin Hood's woodland band. Above him spread the boughs of magnificent trees, laden with drooping moss, and hardly letting a ray of sunlight through their crowding foliage. Around him rose their massive trunks, like the columns of some vast cathedral. On the grassy or moss-clad ground sat or lay groups of hardy-looking men, no two of them dressed alike, and with none of the neat appearance of uniformed soldiers. More remote were their horses, cropping the short herbage in equine contentment. It looked like a camp of forest outlaws, jovial tenants of the merry greenwood.

The surprise of the officer was not lessened when his eyes fell on Marion, whom he had never seen before. It may be that he expected to gaze on a burly giant. As it was, he could scarcely believe that this diminutive, quiet-looking man, and this handful of ill-dressed and lounging followers, were the celebrated band who had thrown the whole British power in the South into alarm.

Marion addressed him, and a conference ensued in which their business was quickly arranged to their mutual satisfaction.

"And now, my dear sir," said Marion, "I should be glad to have you dine with me. You have fasted during your journey, and will be the better for a woodland repast."

"With pleasure," replied the officer. "It will be a new and pleasant experience."

He looked around him. Where was the dining-room? where, at least, the table, on which their mid-day repast was to be spread? Where were the dishes and the other paraphernalia which civilization demands as the essentials of a modern dinner?—Where? His eyes found no answer to this mental question. Marion looked at him with a smile.

"We dine here in simple style, captain," he remarked. "Pray be seated."

He took his seat on a mossy log, and pointed to an opposite one for the officer. A minute or two afterwards the camp purveyor made his appearance, bearing a large piece of bark, on which smoked some roasted sweet potatoes. They came from a fire of brushwood blazing at a distance.

"Help yourself, captain," said Marion, taking a swollen and brown-coated potato from the impromptu platter, breaking it in half, and beginning to eat with a forest appetite.

The officer looked at the viands and at his host with eyes of wonder.

"Surely, general," he exclaimed, "this cannot be your ordinary fare?"

"Indeed it is," said Marion. "And we are fortunate, on this occasion, having company to entertain, to have more than our usual allowance."

The officer had little more to say. He helped himself to the rural viands, which he ate with thought for salt. On returning to Georgetown he gave in his report, and then tendered his commission to his superior officer, saying that a people who could fight on roots for fare could not be, and ought not to be, subdued, and that he, for one, would not serve against them.

Of the exploits of Marion we can but speak briefly; they were too many to be given in detail. His blows were so sharply dealt, in such quick succession, and at such remote points, that his foes were puzzled, and could hardly believe that a single band was giving them all this trouble. Their annoyance culminated in their sending one of their best cavalry leaders, Colonel Wemyss, to surprise and crush the Swamp-Fox, then far from his hiding-place. Wemyss got on Marion's trail, and pursued him with impetuous haste. But the wary patriot was not to be easily surprised, nor would he fight where he had no chance to win. Northward he swiftly made his way, through swamps and across deep streams, into North Carolina. Wemyss lost his trail, found it, lost it again, and finally, discouraged and revengeful, turned back and desolated the country from which he had driven its active defender, and which was looked on as the hot-bed of rebellion.

Marion, who had but sixty men in his band, halted the moment pursuit ceased, sent out scouts for information, and in a very short time was back in the desolated district. The people rushed, with horse and rifle, to his ranks. Swiftly he sped to the Black Mingo, below Georgetown, and here fell at midnight on a large body of Tories, with such vigor and success that the foe were almost annihilated, while Marion lost but a single man.

The devoted band now had a short period of rest, the British being discouraged and depressed. Then Tarleton, the celebrated hard-riding marauder, took upon himself the difficult task of crushing the Swamp-Fox. He scoured the country, spreading ruin as he went, but all his skill and impetuosity were useless in the effort to overtake Marion. The patriot leader was not even to be driven from his chosen region of operations, and he managed to give his pursuer some unwelcome reminders of his presence. At times Tarleton would be within a few miles of him, and full of hope of overtaking him before the next day's dawn. But, while he was thus lulled to security, Marion would be watching him from the shadows of some dark morass, and at midnight the British rear or flank would feel the sharp bite of the Swamp-Fox's teeth. In the end, Tarleton withdrew discomfited from the pursuit, with more hard words against this fellow, who "would not fight like a gentleman or a Christian," than he had ever been able to give him hard blows.

Tarleton withdrawn, Marion resumed all his old activity, his audacity reaching the extent of making an attack on the British garrison at Georgetown. This was performed in conjunction with Major Lee, who had been sent by General Greene to Marion's aid. Lee had no little trouble to find him. The active partisan was so constantly moving about, now in deep swamps, now far from his lurking-places, that friend and foe alike were puzzled to trace his movements. They met at last, however, and made a midnight attack on Georgetown, unsuccessful, as it proved, yet sufficient to redouble the alarm of the enemy.

In the spring of 1781 we find Colonel Watson, with a force of five hundred men, engaged in the difficult task of "crushing Marion." He found him,—unlike the predecessors,—but, as it proved, to his own cost. Marion was now at Snow's Island, whence he emerged to strike a quick succession of heavy blows at such different points that he appeared to be ubiquitous. His force met that of Watson unexpectedly, and a fight ensued. Watson had the advantage of field-pieces, and Marion was obliged to fall back. Reaching a bridge over the Black River, he checked his pursuers with telling volleys long enough to burn the bridge. Then a peculiar contest took place. The two forces marched down the stream, one on each side, for ten miles, skirmishing across the water all the way. Darkness ended the fight. The two camps were pitched near together. For ten days Watson remained there, not able to get at Marion, and so annoyed by the constant raids of his active foe that in the end he made a midnight flight to escape destruction in detail. Marion pursued, and did him no small damage in the flight. Watson's only solace was the remark, already quoted, that his troublesome foe would not "fight like a gentleman or a Christian."

Major Lee tells an amusing story of an incident that happened to himself, on his march in search of Marion. He had encamped for the night on Drowning Creek, a branch of the Pedee. As morning approached, word was brought to the officer of the day that noises were heard in front of the pickets, in the direction of the creek. They seemed like the stealthy movements of men. Now a sentinel fired, the bugles sounded for the horse patrols to come in, and the whole force was quickly got ready for the coming enemy. But no enemy appeared. Soon after another sentinel fired, and word came that an unseen foe was moving in the swamp. The troops faced in this direction, and waited anxiously for the coming of dawn. Suddenly the line of sentinels in their rear fire in succession. The enemy had undoubtedly gained the road behind them, and were marching on them from that direction. The line again faced round. Lee went along it, telling his men that there was nothing left but to fight, and bidding them to sustain the high reputation which they had long since won. The cavalry were ordered not to pursue a flying force, for the country was well suited for concealment, and they might be tempted into an ambuscade.

When day broke the whole column advanced with great caution, infantry in front, baggage in centre, cavalry in rear. Where was the foe? None appeared. The van officer carefully examined the road for an enemy's trail. To his surprise and amusement, he found only the tracks of a large pack of wolves.

These animals had been attempting to pass the camp at point after point, turned from each point by the fire of the sentinels, and trying the line on all sides. Great merriment followed, in which pickets, patrols, and the officer of the day were made the butt of the ridicule of the whole force.

We shall close with one interesting story in which Marion played the leading part, but which is distinguished by an example of womanly patriotism worthy of the highest praise. The mansion of Mrs. Rebecca Motte, a rich widow of South Carolina, had been taken possession of by the British authorities, she being obliged to take up her residence in a farm-house on her lands. The large mansion was converted into a fort, and surrounded by a deep ditch and a high parapet. A garrison of one hundred and fifty men, under Captain McPherson, was stationed here, the place being re-named Fort Motte.

This stronghold was attacked, in May, 1781, by Marion and Lee, then in conjunction. Lee took position at the farm-house, and posted his men on the declivity of the plain on which the fort stood. Marion cast up a mound, placed on it the six-pounder they had brought with them, and prepared to assail the parapet while Lee made his approaches. McPherson had no artillery.

Their approaches were made by a trench from an adjacent ravine. In a few days they were near enough to be justified in demanding a surrender. McPherson refused. The same evening word reached the Americans that Lord Rawdon was approaching. On the following night the light of his camp-fires could be seen on the neighboring hills of the Santee. The garrison saw them as well as the assailants, and were filled with renewed hope.

What was to be done? The besiegers must succeed quickly or retreat. Lee was not long in devising an expedient. The mansion of Mrs. Motte was shingled and the shingles very dry. There had been no rain for several days, and the sun had poured its rays warmly upon them. They might be set on fire. Lee suggested this to Mrs. Motte, with much dread as to how she would receive it. Her acquiescence was so cheerful that his mind was relieved. The patriotic woman expressed herself as ready to make any sacrifice for her country.

Lee told his plan to Marion, who warmly approved it. It was proposed to do the work by means of arrows carrying flaming combustibles. As it proved, however, the only bows and arrows they could find in the camp were very inferior articles.

"They will never do," said Mrs. Motte. "I can provide you with much better. I have in the house an excellent bow and a bundle of arrows, which came from the East Indies. They are at your service."

She hastened from the room, and quickly returned with the weapons, which she handed to Lee as cheerfully as though she looked for some special benefit to herself from their use. Word was sent to McPherson of what was intended, and that Rawdon had not yet crossed the Santee. Immediate surrender would save many lives. The bold commandant still refused.

At midday, from the shelter of the ditch, Nathan Savage, one of Marion's men, shot several flaming arrows at the roof. Two of them struck the dry shingles. Almost instantly these were in a flame. The fire crept along the roof. Soldiers were sent up to extinguish it, but a shot or two from the field-piece drove them down.

There was no longer hope for McPherson. He must surrender, or have his men burned in the fort, or decimated if they should leave it. He hung out the white flag of surrender. The firing ceased; the flames were extinguished; at one o'clock the garrison yielded themselves prisoners. An hour afterwards the victorious and the captive officers were seated at an ample repast at Mrs. Motte's table, presided over by that lady with as much urbanity and grace as though these guests were her especial friends. Since that day Mrs. Motte has been classed among the most patriotic heroines of the Revolution.

This is, perhaps, enough in prose, but the fame of Marion and his men has been fitly enshrined in poetry, and it will not be amiss to quote a verse or two, in conclusion, from Bryant's stirring poem entitled "Song of Marion's Men."

Our band is few, but true and tried
Our leader frank and bold:
The British soldier trembles
When Marion's name is told.
Our fortress is the good greenwood,
Our tent the cypress-tree;
We know the forest round us,
As seamen know the sea.
We know its walls of thorny vines,
Its glades of reedy grass;
Its safe and silent islands
Within the dark morass.
Well knows the fair and friendly moon
The band that Marion leads,—
The glitter of their rifles,
The scampering of their steeds.
'Tis life to guide the fiery barb
Across the moonlit plain;
'Tis life to feel the night wind
That lifts his tossing mane.
A moment in the British camp,—
A moment,—and away
Back to the pathless forest
Before the peep of day.
Grave men there are by broad Santee,
Grave men with hoary hairs;
Their hearts are all with Marion,
For Marion are their prayers.
And lovely ladies greet our band
With kindliest welcoming,
With smiles like those of summer,
And tears like those of spring.
For them we wear these trusty arms,
And lay them down no more
Till we have driven the Briton
Forever from our shore.


It was a mild evening on the Mediterranean, the wind light, the sea smooth, the temperature—though the season was that of midwinter—summer-like in its geniality. Into the harbor of Tripoli slowly glided a small, two-masted vessel, all her sails set and moderately well filled by the wind, yet moving with the tardiness of a very slow sailer. A broad bay lay before her, its surface silvered by the young moon whose crescent glowed in the western sky. Far inward could be dimly seen the masts and hull of a large vessel, its furled sails white in the moonlight. Beyond it were visible distant lights, and a white lustre as of minaret tops touched by the moonbeams. These were the lights and spires of Tripoli, a Moorish town then best known as a haunt and stronghold of the pirates of the Mediterranean. All was silence, all seemingly peace. The vessel—the ketch, to give it its nautical name—moved onward with what seemed exasperating slowness, scarcely ruffling the polished waters of the bay. The hours passed on. The miles lagged tardily behind. The wind fell. The time crept towards midnight. The only life visible in the wide landscape was that of the gliding ketch.

But any one who could have gained a bird's-eye view of the vessel would have seen sufficient to excite his distrust of that innocent-seeming craft. From the water-side only ten or twelve men could be seen, but on looking downward the decks would have been perceived to be crowded with men, lying down so as to be hidden behind the bulwarks and other objects upon the deck, and so thick that the sailors who were working the vessel had barely room to move.

This appeared suspicious. Not less suspicious was the fact that the water behind the vessel was ruffled by dragging objects of various kinds, which seemed to have something to do with her slowness of motion. As the wind grew lighter, and the speed of the vessel fell until it was moving at barely a two-knots' rate, these objects were drawn in, and proved to be buckets, spars, and other drags which had been towed astern to reduce the vessel's speed. Her tardiness of motion was evidently the work of design.

It was now about ten o'clock. The moon hovered on the western horizon, near its hour of setting. The wind was nearly east, and favorable to the vessel's course, but was growing lighter every moment. The speed of the ketch diminished until it seemed almost to have come to rest. It had now reached the eastern entrance to the bay, the passage here being narrowed by rocks on the one hand and a shoal on the other. Through this passage it stole onward like a ghost, for nearly an hour, all around being tranquil, nothing anywhere to arouse distrust. The craft seemed a coaster delayed by the light winds in making harbor.

The gliding ketch had now come so near to the large vessel in front, that the latter had lost its dimness of outline and was much more plainly visible. It was evidently no Moorish craft, its large hull, its lofty masts, its tracery of spars and rigging being rather those of an English or American frigate than a product of Tripolitan dock-yards. Its great bulk and sweeping spars arose in striking contrast to the low-decked vessels which could be seen here and there huddled about the inner sides of the harbor.

A half-hour more passed. The ketch was now close aboard the frigate-like craft, steering directly towards it. Despite the seeming security of the harbor, there were sentries posted on the frigate and officers moving about its deck. From one of these now came a loud hail in the Tripolitan tongue.

"What craft is that?"

"The Mastico, from Malta," came the answer, in the same language.

"Keep off. Do you want to run afoul of us?"

"We would like to ride beside you for the night," came the answer. "We have lost our anchors in a gale."

The conversation continued, in the Tripolitan language, as the ketch crept slowly up, an officer of the frigate and the pilot of the smaller vessel being the spokesmen. A number of Moorish sailors were looking with mild curiosity over the frigate's rails, without a moment's suspicion that anything was wrong. The moon still dimly lit up the waters of the bay, but not with light enough to make any object very distinct.

As the ketch came close a boat was lowered with a line, and was rowed towards the frigate, to whose fore-chains the end was made fast. At the same time the officer of the large vessel, willing to aid the seemingly disabled coaster, ordered some of his men to lower a boat and take a line from the stern to the ketch. As the boat of the latter returned, it met the frigate's boat, took the line from the hands of its crew, and passed it in to the smaller vessel.

The ketch was now fast to the frigate bow and stern. The lines were passed to the men lying on the deck, none of whom were visible from the frigate's rail, and were slowly passed from hand to hand by the men, the coaster thus being cautiously drawn closer to the obliging Moorish craft.

All this took time. Foot by foot the ketch drew nearer, her motion being almost imperceptible. The Moors looked lazily over their bulwark, fancying that it was but the set of the current that was bringing the vessels together. But suddenly there was a change. The officer of the frigate had discovered that the ketch was still provided with anchors, despite the story that her anchors had been lost in a gale.

"What is this?" he cried, sternly. "You have your anchors! You have lied to me! Keep off! Cut those fasts there!"

A moment afterwards the cry of "Amerikanos!" was raised in the ship, and a number of the night-watch drew their knives and hastened fore and aft to cut the fasts.

The crew of the Mastico—or the Intrepid, to give it its proper name—were still more alert. At the first signal of alarm, their cautious pull on the ropes was changed to a vigorous effort which sent the ketch surging through the water to the side of the frigate, where she was instantly secured by grappling-irons, hurled by strong hands.

Up to this moment not a movement or whisper had betrayed the presence of the men crouched on the deck. The ten or twelve who were visible seemed to constitute the whole crew of the craft. But now there came a sudden change. The stirring cry of "Boarders away!" was raised in stentorian tones, and in an instant the deck of the Intrepid seemed alive. The astonished Moors gazed with startled eyes at a dense crowd of men who had appeared as suddenly as if they had come from the air.

The order to board had been given by an officer who sprang at the same moment for the frigate's chain-plates. Two active young men followed him, and in an instant the whole crew were at their heels, some boarding the frigate by the ports, others over the rail, swarming upon her deck like so many bees, while the Moors fell back in panic fright.

The surprise was perfect. The men on the frigate's deck ran to the starboard side as their assailants poured in on the larboard, and constant plunges into the water told that they were hastily leaping overboard in their fright. Hardly a blow had been struck. The deck was cleared in almost a minute after the order to board. The only struggle took place below, but this lasted little longer. In less than ten minutes from the time of boarding all resistance was at an end, and the craft was an undisputed prize to the Intrepid's crew.

And now to learn the meaning of this midnight assault. The vessel which had been so skilfully captured was the frigate Philadelphia, of the American navy, which had fallen into the hands of the Tripolitans some time before. For years the Moorish powers of Africa had been preying upon the commerce of the Mediterranean, until the weaker nations of Europe were obliged to pay an annual tribute for the security of their commerce. The United States did the same for some time, but the thing grew so annoying that war was at length declared against Tripoli, the boldest of these piratical powers. In 1803 Commodore Preble was sent with a fleet to the Mediterranean. He forced Morocco to respect American commerce, and then proceeded to Tripoli, outside whose harbor his fleet congregated, with a view of blockading the port.

On October 31 Captain Bainbridge of the Philadelphia, while cruising about, saw a vessel in shore and to windward, standing for Tripoli. Sail was made to cut her off. The chase continued for several hours, the lead being kept constantly going to avoid danger of shoals. When about a league distant from Tripoli it became evident that the fugitive craft could not be overtaken, and the frigate wore round to haul off into deeper waters. But, to the alarm of the officers, they found the water in their front rapidly shoaling, it having quickly decreased in depth from eight to six and a half fathoms. A hasty effort was now made to wear the ship, but it was too late; the next instant she struck on a reef, with such force that she was lifted on it between five and six feet.

This was an appalling accident. No other cruiser was near. The enemy was close at hand. Gunboats were visible near the town. The moment it was discovered that the frigate was in trouble these dogs of war would be out. Captain Bainbridge gave orders to lighten the ship with all speed. All but a few of her guns were thrown overboard. The anchors were cut from the bows. The water-casks in the hold were started, and the water pumped out. All heavy articles were thrown overboard, and finally the foremast was cut away. But all proved in vain. The ship still lay immovable on the rocks. The gunboats of the enemy now surrounded her, and were growing bolder every minute. There was nothing for it but surrender. Resistance could only end in the death of all on board.

But before hauling down his flag, Captain Bainbridge had the magazine drowned, holes bored in the ship's bottom, the pumps choked, and every measure taken to insure her sinking. Then the colors were lowered and the gunboats took possession, three hundred and fifteen prisoners being captured. The officers were well treated by the bashaw of Tripoli, but an enormous ransom was demanded for them, and all signs of an inclination to peace disappeared.

Captain Bainbridge's efforts to sink the Philadelphia proved ineffectual. During a high wind the prize was got off the reef, her leaks stopped, and she taken in triumph to the city. Her guns, anchors, and other articles were raised from the reef, the ship was moored about a quarter of a mile from the bashaw's castle, and her injuries repaired, it being the intention to fit her for sea as a Tripolitan cruiser.

These were the events that preceded the daring attempt we have detailed. Lieutenant Stephen Decatur had volunteered to make an effort to destroy the vessel, with the aid of a recently-captured ketch, called the Mastico. This, renamed the Intrepid, manned with a crew of seventy-six men, had entered the harbor on the evening of February 3, 1804. What followed, to the capture of the frigate, has been told. The succeeding events remain to be detailed.

Doubtless Lieutenant Decatur would have attempted to carry off the prize had it been possible. His orders, however, were to destroy it, and the fact that there was not a sail bent or a yard crossed left him no alternative. The command was, therefore, at once given to pass up the combustibles from the ketch. There was no time to be lost. The swimming fugitives would quickly be in the town and the alarm given. Every moment now was of value, for the place where they were was commanded by the guns of the forts and of several armed vessels anchored at no great distance, and they might look for an assault the instant their character was determined.

With all haste, then, officers and men went to work. They had been divided into squads, each with its own duty to perform, and they acted with the utmost promptitude and disciplined exactness. The men who descended with combustibles to the cockpit and after-store-rooms had need to haste, for fires were lighted over their heads before they were through with their task. So rapidly did the flames catch and spread that some of those on board had to make their escape from between-decks by the forward ladders, the after-part of the ship being already filled with smoke.

In twenty minutes from the time the Americans had taken possession of the ship they were driven out of her by flames, so rapidly had they spread. The vessel had become so dry under those tropical suns that she burned like pine. By the time the party which had been engaged in the store-rooms reached the deck, most of the others were on board the Intrepid. They joined them, and the order to cast off was given. It was not an instant too soon, for the daring party were just then in the most risky situation they had been in that night.

The fire, in fact, had spread with such unexpected rapidity that flames were already shooting from the port-holes. The head fast was cast off, and the ketch fell astern. But the stern fast became jammed and the boom foul, while the ammunition of the party, covered only with a tarpaulin, was within easy reach of the increasing flames.

There was no time to look for an axe, and the rope was severed with swords-blows, while a vigorous shove sent the Intrepid clear of the frigate and free from the danger which had threatened her. As she swung clear, the flames reached the rigging, up which they shot in hissing lines, the ropes being saturated with tar which had oozed out through the heat of the sun.

The Intrepid did not depend on her sails alone for escape. She was provided with sweeps, and these were now got out and manned with haste, a few vigorous strokes sending the vessel safely away from the flaming frigate. This done, the crew, as with one impulse, dropped their oars and gave three rousing cheers for their signal victory.

Their shouts of triumph appeared to rouse the Moors from their lethargy. So rapid and unlooked-for had been the affair, that the vessel was in full flame before the town and the harbor were awake to the situation. There were batteries on shore, and two corsairs and a galley were anchored at no great distance from the Philadelphia, and from these now the boom of cannon began. But their fire was too hasty and nervous to do much harm, and the men of the Intrepid seized their sweeps again and bowled merrily down the harbor, their progress aided by a light breeze in their sails.

The spectacle that followed is described as of a beauty that approached sublimity. The ship, aflame from hull to peak, presented a magnificent appearance, the entire bay was illuminated, and the flash and roar of cannon were constant, the guns of the Philadelphia going off as they became heated, and adding to the uproar. She lay so that one of her broadsides was directed towards the town, thus returning the enemy's fire, while the other sent its balls far out into the harbor. "The most singular effect of the conflagration was on board the ship, for the flames, having run up the rigging and masts, collected under the tops, and fell over, giving the whole the appearance of glowing columns and fiery capitals."

The Intrepid moved on down the harbor, none the worse for the cannon-balls that were sent after her, and continued her course until she reached her consort, the Siren, which awaited her outside the harbor. Joining company, they proceeded to Syracuse, where the fleet then lay.

The exploit we have here described was one of the most notable in the annals of the American navy. It was one that needed the utmost daring combined with the most exact attention to details, and in both these respects there was nothing wanting to insure the success of the enterprise. The hour was well chosen, as that in which the foe would most likely be off their guard, and to this we must ascribe the slowness of their assault on the Americans and the uncertainty of their aim. The mode of approach to the frigate, the skill with which the ketch was laid alongside without exciting suspicion, and the rapidity and completeness with which the destruction of the prize was prepared for, were all worthy of high commendation. As for the boldness of the enterprise, one has but to consider what would have been the fate of the Americans had the attack failed. Directly under the frigate's guns, and in a harbor filled with gunboats and armed cruisers and surrounded by forts and batteries, escape would have been impossible, and every man in the Intrepid must have perished. The greatest courage, coolness, and self-possession, and the most exact discipline, alone could have yielded success in the daring project, and these qualities seem to have been possessed in a high degree.

The success of this exploit gave Lieutenant Decatur a reputation for gallantry which had its share in his subsequent elevation to the highest rank in the navy. The country generally applauded the feat, and the navy long considered it one of its most brilliant achievements, it being deemed a high honor among sailors and officers to have been one of the Intrepid's crew. The writer of these pages may add that it is to him a matter of some interest that the first man to reach the deck of the Philadelphia on that memorable night was a namesake of his own, Midshipman Charles Morris. For the credit of the name he is also glad to say that Mr. Morris in time become a commodore in the navy, and attained a high reputation as an officer both in war and peace.


On the Ohio River, fourteen miles below Marietta, lies a beautiful island, which became, in the early part of this century, the scene of a singular romance. At that time it was a wild and forest-clad domain, except for a few acres of clearing near its upper extremity, on which stood a large and handsome mansion, with spacious out-buildings and surrounding grounds which were laid out with the finest taste. The great elms and gigantic sycamore of the West gave grandeur to the surrounding woodland, and afforded shelter to grazing flocks and herds. Huge water-willows dipped their drooping branches into the waves of the Ohio as they ran swiftly by. In front of the mansion were several acres of well-kept lawn. In its rear were two acres of flower-garden, planted with native and exotic shrubs. Vine-covered arbors and grottos rose here and there. On one side of the house was the kitchen garden, stocked with choice fruit-trees. Through the forest-trees an opening had been cut, which afforded an attractive view of the river for several miles of its course. On the whole, it was a paradise in the wilderness, a remarkable scene for that outlying region, for not far from the mansion still stood a large block-house, which had, not many years before, been used as a place of refuge in the desolating Indian wars.

Here dwelt Harman Blennerhasset and his lovely wife; he a man of scientific attainments, she a woman of fine education and charming manners. He was of Irish origin, wealthy, amply educated, with friends among the highest nobility. But he had imbibed republican principles, and failed to find himself comfortable in royalist society. He had therefore sought America, heard of the beautiful islands of the Ohio, and built himself a home on one of the most charming of them all.

We have described the exterior of the mansion. Interiorly it was richly ornamented and splendidly furnished. The drawing-room was of noble proportions and admirable adornment. The library was well filled with choice books. The proprietor was fond of chemistry, and had an excellent laboratory; he enjoyed astronomy, and possessed a powerful telescope; he had a passion for music, had composed many airs, and played well on several instruments. He was, in his way, a universal genius, courteous in manners, benevolent in disposition, yet of that genial and unsuspicious nature which laid him open to the wiles of those shrewd enough to make use of his weak points.

Mrs. Blennerhasset loved society, and was none too well pleased that her husband should bury himself and her in the wilderness, and waste his fine powers on undeveloped nature. Such guests of culture as could be obtained were hospitably welcomed at their island mansion. Few boats passed up and down the river without stopping at the island, and cultured and noble persons from England and France not infrequently found their way to the far-off home of the Blennerhassets.

Yet, withal, the intervals between the visits of cultivated guests were long. Ohio was rapidly filling up with population, but culture was a rare exotic in that pioneer region, and the inmates of the Blennerhasset mansion must have greatly lacked visits from their own social equals.

One day in the spring of 1805 a traveller landed on the island, as if merely lured thither by the beauty of the grounds as seen from the river. Mr. Blennerhasset was in his study, whither a servant came to tell him that a gentlemanly stranger had landed, and was observing the lawn. The servant was at once bidden to invite the stranger, in his master's name, to enter the house. The traveller courteously declined. He could not think of intruding, begged to be excused for landing on the grounds, and sent in his card. Mr. Blennerhasset read the card, and his eyes lighted up with interest, for what he saw was the name of a former Vice-President of the United States. He at once hastened to the lawn, and with polite insistence declared that Mr. Burr must enter and partake of the hospitality of his house.

It was like inviting Satan into Eden. Aaron Burr, for it was he, readily complied. He had made the journey thither for that sole purpose. The story of Mr. Blennerhasset's wealth had reached the East, and the astute schemer hoped to enlist his aid in certain questionable projects he then entertained.

But no hint of an ulterior purpose was suffered to appear. Burr was noted for the fascination of his manners, and his host and hostess were charmed with him. He was unusually well informed, eloquent in speech, familiar with all social arts, and could mask the deepest designs with the most artless affectation of simplicity. All the secrets of American political movements were familiar to him, and he conversed fluently of the prospects of war with Spain, the ease with which the Mexicans might throw off their foreign yoke, and the possibilities of splendid pecuniary results from land speculations within the Spanish territory on the Red River.

This seed sown, the arch deceiver went his way. His first step had been taken. Blennerhasset was patriotically devoted to the United States, but the grand scheme which had been portrayed to him seemed to have nothing to do with questions of state. It was a land speculation open to private wealth.

Burr kept his interest alive by letters. The Blennerhassets spent the next winter in New York and Philadelphia, and there met Aaron Burr again. Not unlikely they came with that purpose, for the hopes of new wealth, easily to be made, were alluring and exciting. During that winter it is probable that a sort of land-speculation partnership was formed. Very rich lands lay on the Washita River, within Spanish territory, said Burr, which could be bought for a small sum. Then, by encouraging immigration thither, they might be sold at enormous profit.

This was the Burr scheme as Blennerhasset heard it. The dupe did not dream of the treasonable projects resting within the mind of his dangerous associate. These were, to provoke revolt of the people of Mexico and the northern Spanish provinces, annex the western United States region, and establish a great empire, in which Burr should be the leading potentate.

Mr. Blennerhasset, once enlisted in the land-speculation project, supplied the funds to buy the lands on the Washita, and engaged in operations on a large scale for sending settlers to the purchased domain. Colonel Burr came to Marietta and took an active part in these operations. Fifteen large flat-boats were built to convey the immigrants, their furniture, and such arms as they might need for repelling Indians. Five hundred men were fixed as the number for the first colony, and this number Burr succeeded in enlisting. Each was to have one hundred acres of land. This was not in itself any great inducement where land was so plentiful as in Ohio. But Burr did not hesitate to hint at future possibilities. The lands to be colonized had been peacefully purchased. But the Mexicans were eager to throw off the Spanish yoke; war between the United States and Spain might break out at any minute; Mexico would be invaded by an army, set free, and the new pioneers would have splendid opportunities in the formation of a new and great republic of the West and South. Burr went further than this. He had articles inserted in a Marietta newspaper, signed by an assumed name, in which was advocated the secession of the States west of the Alleghanies. These articles were strongly replied to by a writer who signed himself "Regulus," and with whose views the community at large sympathized. His articles were copied by Eastern papers. They spoke of the armed expedition which Colonel Burr was preparing, and declared that its purpose was the invasion of Mexico. Jefferson, then in the Presidential chair, knew Burr too well to ignore these warnings. He sent a secret agent to Marietta to discover what was going on, and at the same time asked the governor of Ohio to seize the boats and suppress the expedition.

Mr. Blennerhasset assured the secret agent, Mr. Graham, that no thought was entertained of invading Mexico. The project, he said, was an eminently peaceful one. But the public was of a different opinion. Rumor, once started, grew with its usual rapidity. Burr was organizing an army to seize New Orleans, rob the banks, capture the artillery, and set up an empire or republic of his own in the valley of the lower Mississippi. Blennerhasset was his accomplice, and as deep in the scheme as himself. The Ohio Legislature, roused to energetic action by the rumors which were everywhere afloat, passed an act that all armed expeditions should be suppressed, and empowered the governor to call out the militia, seize Burr's boats, and hold the crews for trial.

Public attention had been earnestly and hostilely directed to the questionable project, and Burr's hopes were at an end. The militia were mustered at Marietta, a six-pounder was planted on the river-bank, orders were given to stop and examine all descending boats, and sentries were placed to watch the stream by day and night.

While these events were proceeding, Mr. Blennerhasset had gone to the Muskingum, to superintend the departure of the boats that were to start from that stream. While there the boats were seized by order of the governor. The suspicions of the people and government were for the first time made clear to him. Greatly disturbed, and disposed to abandon the whole project, costly as it had been to him, he hastened back to his island home. There he found a flotilla of four boats, with a crew of about thirty men, which had passed Marietta before the mustering of the militia. They were commanded by a Mr. Tyler.

Mr. Blennerhasset's judgment was in favor of abandoning the scheme. Mrs. Blennerhasset, who was very ambitious, argued strongly on the other side. She was eager to see her husband assume a position fitting to his great talents. Mr. Tyler joined her in her arguments. Blennerhasset gave way. It was a fatal compliance, one destined to destroy his happiness and peace for the remainder of his life, and to expose his wife to the most frightful scenes of outrage and barbarity.

The frontier contained hosts of lawless men, men to whom loyalty meant license. Three days after the conversation described, word was brought to the island that a party of the Wood County militia, made up of the lowest and most brutal men in the community, would land on the island that very night, seize the boats, arrest all the men they found, and probably burn the house.

The danger was imminent. Blennerhasset and all the men with him took to the boats to escape arrest and possibly murder from these exasperated frontiersmen. Mrs. Blennerhasset and her children were left in the mansion, with the expectation that their presence would restrain the brutality of the militia, and preserve the house and its valuable contents from destruction. It proved a fallacious hope. Colonel Phelps, the commander of the militia, pursued Blennerhasset. In his absence his men behaved like savages. They took possession of the house, became brutally drunk from the liquors they found in the cellar, rioted through its elegantly furnished rooms, burned its fences for bonfires, and for seven days made life a pandemonium of horrors for the helpless woman and frightened children who had been left in their midst.

The experience of those seven days was frightful. There was no escape. Mrs. Blennerhasset was compelled to witness the ruthless destruction of all she held most dear, and to listen to the brutal ribaldry and insults of the rioting savages. Not until the end of the time named did relief come. Then Mr. Putnam, a friend from the neighboring town of Belpré, ventured on the island. He provided a boat in which the unhappy lady was enabled to save a few articles of furniture and some choice books. In this boat, with her two sons, six and eight years old, and with two young men from Belpré, she started down the river to join her husband. Two or three negro servants accompanied her.

It was a journey of great hardships. The weather was cold, the river filled with floating ice, the boat devoid of any comforts. A rude cabin, open in the front, afforded the only shelter from wind and rain. Half frozen in her flight, the poor woman made her way down the stream, and at length joined her husband at the mouth of the Cumberland River, which he had reached with his companions, having distanced pursuit. Their flight was continued down the Mississippi as far as Natchez.

No sooner had Mrs. Blennerhasset left the island than the slight restraint which her presence had exercised upon the militia disappeared. The mansion was ransacked. Whatever they did not care to carry away was destroyed. Books, pictures, rich furniture were used to feed bonfires. Doors were torn from their hinges, windows dashed in, costly mirrors broken with hammers. Destruction swept the island, all its improvements being ruthlessly destroyed. For months the mansion stood, an eyesore of desolation, until some hand, moved by the last impulse of savagery, set it on fire, and it was burned to the ground.

What followed may be briefly told. So great was the indignation against Burr that he was forced to abandon his project. His adherents were left in destitution. Some of them were a thousand miles and more from their homes, and were forced to make their way back as they best could. Burr and Blennerhasset were both arrested for treason. The latter escaped. There was no criminating evidence against him. As for Burr, he had been far too shrewd to leave himself open to the hand of the law. His trial resulted in an acquittal. Though no doubt was felt of his guilt, no evidence could be found to establish it. He was perforce set free.

If he had done nothing more, he had, by his detestable arts, broken up one of the happiest homes in America, and ruined his guileless victim.

Blennerhasset bought a cotton plantation at Natchez. His wife, who had the energy he lacked, managed it. They dwelt there for ten years, favorites with the neighboring planters. Then came war with England, and the plantation ceased to afford them a living. The ruined man returned to his native land, utterly worn out and discouraged, and died there in poverty in 1831.

Mrs. Blennerhasset became a charge on the charity of her friends. After several years she returned to the United States, where she sought to obtain remuneration from Congress for her destroyed property. She would probably have succeeded but for her sudden death. She was buried at the expense of a society of Irish ladies in the city of New York. And thus ended the career of two of the victims of Aaron Burr. They had listened to the siren voice of the tempter, and ruin and despair were their rewards.


The year 1832 is only sixty years ago in time, yet since then there has been a striking development of conveniences, rapidity of travel, and arrangements for the diffusion of intelligence. People then still travelled in great part by aid of horses, the railroad having just begun its marvellous career. News, which now fly over continents and under oceans at lightning speed, then jogged on at stage-coach rates of progress, creeping where they now fly. On the ocean, steam was beginning to battle with wind and wave, but the ocean racer was yet a far-off dream, and mariners still put their trust in sails much more than in the new-born contrivances which were preparing to revolutionize travel. But the wand of the enchanter had been waved; steam had come, and with it the new era of progress had dawned. And another great agent in the development of civilization was about to come. Electricity, which during all previous time had laughed at bonds, was soon to become man's slave, and to be made his purveyor of news. It is the story of this chaining of the lightning, and forcing it to become the swift conveyer of man's sayings and doings, that we have here to tell.

In the far remote period named—if we measure time by deeds, not by years—a packet-ship, the Sully, was making its deliberate way across the Atlantic from Havre to New York. Its passenger list was not large,—the ocean had not yet become a busy highway of the continents,—but among them were some persons in whom we are interested. One of these was a Boston doctor, Charles T. Jackson by name. A second was a New York artist, named Samuel F.B. Morse. The last-named gentleman had been a student at Yale, where he became greatly interested in chemistry and some other sciences. He had studied the art of painting under Benjamin West in London, had practised it in New York, had long been president of the National Academy of the Arts of Design; and was now on his way home after a second period of residence in Europe as a student of art.

An interesting conversation took place one day in the cabin of the Sully. Dr. Jackson spoke of Ampère's experiments with the electro-magnet; of how Franklin had sent electricity through several miles of wire, finding no loss of time between the touch at one end and the spark at the other; and how, in a recent experiment at Paris, a great length of wire had been carried in circles around the walls of a large apartment, an electro-magnet connected with one end, and an electric current manifested at the other, having passed through the wire so quickly as to seem instantaneous. Mr. Morse's taste for science had not died out during his years of devotion to art. He listened with the most earnest attention to the doctor's narrative, and while he did so a large and promising idea came into being in his brain.

"Why," he exclaimed, with much ardor of manner, "if that is so, and the presence of electricity can be made visible in any desired part of the circuit, I see no reason why intelligence should not be transmitted instantaneously by electricity."

"How convenient it would be if we could send news in that manner!" chimed in one of the passengers.

"Why can't we?" exclaimed Morse.

Why not, indeed? The idea probably died in the minds of most of the persons present within five minutes. But Samuel Morse was not one of the men who let ideas die. This one haunted him day and night. He thought of it and dreamed of it. In those days of deliberate travel time hung heavily on the hands of transatlantic passengers, despite the partial diversions of eating and sleeping. The ocean grew monotonous, the vessel monotonous, the passengers monotonous, everything monotonous except that idea, and that grew and spread till its fibres filled every nook and cranny of the inventive brain that had taken it in to bed and board.

Morse had abundance of the native Yankee faculty of invention. To do, had been plain enough from the start. How to do, was the question to be solved. But before the Sully steamed into New York harbor the solution had been reached. In the mind of the inventor, and in graphic words and drawings on paper, were laid down the leading features of that telegraphic method which is used to-day in the great majority of the telegraph lines of the world.

An alphabet of dots and marks, a revolving ribbon of paper to receive this alphabet, a method of enclosing the wires in tubes which were to be buried underground, were the leading features of the device as first thought of. The last conception was quickly followed by that of supporting the wires in the air, but Morse clung to his original fancy for burying them,—a fancy which, it may here be said, is coming again into vogue in these latter days, so far as cities are concerned.

It is not meant to be implied that the idea of sending news by electricity was original with Morse. Others had had it before him. More than half a century before, Dr. Franklin and some friends had stretched a wire across the Schuylkill River and killed a turkey on the other side by electricity. As they ate this turkey, it is quite possible that they imbibed with it the idea of making this marvellous agent do other work than killing fowl for dinner, and from that time on it is likely that many had speculated on the possibility of sending intelligence by wire. Some experiments had been made, and with a certain degree of success, but time still waited for the hour and the man, and the hour and the man met in that fertile October day in the cabin of the Sully.

"If it can go ten miles without stopping, I can make it go round the world," said Morse to his fellow-passengers, his imagination expanding in the ardor of his new idea.

"Well, captain," he said, with a laugh, on leaving the ship, "should you hear of the telegraph one of these days as the wonder of the world, remember that the discovery was made on board the good ship Sully."

The inventor, indeed, was possessed with his new conceptions, mad with an idea, as we may say, and glad to set foot once more on shore, that he might put his plans in practice.

This proved no easy task. He was none too well provided with funds, and the need of making a living was the first necessity that presented itself to him. He experimented as much as he was able, but three years passed before his efforts yielded a satisfactory result. Then, with a circuit of seventeen hundred feet of wire, and a wooden clock, adapted by himself to suit his purpose, he managed to send a message from end to end of this wire. It was not very legible. He could make some sense of it. His friends could not. But all were much interested in the experiment. Many persons witnessed these results, as shown in a large room of the New York University, in 1837. They seemed wonderful; much was said about them; but nobody seemed to believe that the apparatus was more than a curious and unprofitable toy, and capitalists buttoned their pockets when the question of backing up this wild inventor's fancy with money was broached.

But by this time Mr. Morse was a complete captive to his idea. Body and soul he was its slave. The question of daily fare became secondary; that of driving his idea over and through all obstacles became primary. His business as an artist was neglected. He fell into want, into almost abject poverty. For twenty-four hours he went without food. But not for a moment did he lose faith in his invention, or remit his efforts to find a capitalist with sufficient confidence in him to risk his money in it.

Failing with the private rich, he tried to obtain public support, went to Washington in 1838, exhibited his apparatus to interested congressmen, and petitioned for enough money from the public purse to build a line from Baltimore to Washington,—forty miles only. It is traditionally slow work in getting a bill through Congress. Weary with waiting, Morse went to Europe, to try his new seed in that old soil. It failed to germinate abroad as it had at home. Men with money acknowledged that the idea was a scientific success, but could not believe that it might be made a business success.

"What would people care for instantaneous news?" they said. "Some might, it is true, but the great mass would be content to wait for their news in the good old way. To lay miles of wire in the earth is to bury a large treasure in money. We cannot see our way clear to getting it back again out of the pockets of the public. Your wires work, Mr. Morse, but, from a business point of view, there's more cost than profit in the idea."

It may be that these exact words were not spoken, but the answer of Europe was near enough to this to send the inventor home disappointed. He began again his weary waiting on the slowly-revolving wheels of the congressional machinery.

March 3, 1843, came. It was the last day of the session. With the stroke of midnight on that day the existing Congress would die, and a new one be born, with which the weary work of the education of congressmen would have to be gone over again. The inventor had been given half a loaf. His bill had been passed, on February 23, in the House. All day of March 3 he hung about the Senate chamber petitioning, where possible, for the other half of his loaf, faintly hoping that in the last will and testament of the expiring Congress some small legacy might be left for him.

Evening came. The clock-hands circled rapidly round. Pressure of bills and confusion of legislation grew greater minute by minute. The floodgates of the deluge are lifted upon Congress in its last hours, and business pours onward in such an overwhelming fashion that small private petitioners can scarcely hope that the doors of the ark of safety will be opened to their petty claims. Morse hung about the chamber until the midnight hour was almost ready to strike. Every moment confusion seemed to grow "worse confounded." The work of a month of easy-going legislation was being compressed into an hour of haste and excitement. The inventor at last left the Capitol, a saddened and disappointed man, and made his way home, the last shreds of hope seeming to drop from him as he went. He was almost ready to give up the fight, and devote himself for the future solely to brush and pencil.

He slept but poorly that night, and rose the next morning still depressed and gloomy. He appeared at the breakfast-table with a face from which the very color of ambition seemed to have been washed out. As he entered the room he was met by a young lady, Miss Annie G. Ellsworth, daughter of the Commissioner of Patents. The smile on her beaming face was in striking contrast to the gloom on his downcast countenance.

"I have come to congratulate you, Mr. Morse," she said, cheerily.

"For what, my dear friend?"

"For the passage of your bill."

"What!" he gazed at her amazement. Could she be attempting a foolish and cruel jest? "The passage of my bill!" he faltered.

"Yes. Do you not know of it?"


"Then you came home too early last night. And I am happy in being the first to bring you the good news. Congress has granted your claim."

It was true: he had been remembered in the will of the expiring Congress. In the last hour of the Senate, amid the roar of the deluge of public business, his small demand had floated into sight, and thirty thousand dollars had been voted him for the construction of an experimental telegraph line.

"You have given me new life, Miss Ellsworth," he said. "As a reward for your good tidings I promise you that when my telegraph line is completed, you shall have the honor of choosing the first message to be sent over it."

The inventor was highly elated, and not without reason. Since the morning of the conversation on the ship Sully, eleven and a half years had passed. They had been years of such struggle against poverty and discouragement as only a man who is the slave of an idea has the hardihood to endure. The annals of invention contain many such instances; more, perhaps, than can be found in any other channel of human effort.

To complete our story we have to bring another inventor upon the stage. This was Ezra Cornell, memorable to-day as the founder of Cornell University, a man at that time unknown, but filled with inventive ideas, and ready to undertake any task that might offer itself, from digging a well to boring a mountain tunnel. One day Mr. Cornell, who was at that time occupying the humble position of traveling agent for a patent plough, called at the office of an agricultural newspaper in Portland, Maine. He found the editor on his knees, a piece of chalk in his hand, and parts of a plough by his side, making drawings on the floor, and trying to explain something to a plough-maker beside him. The editor looked up at his visitor, and an expression of relief replaced the perplexity on his face.

"Cornell," he cried, "you're the very man I want to see. I want a scraper made, and I can't make Robinson here see into my idea. You can understand it, and make it for me, too."

"What is your scraper to do?" asked Cornell.

Mr. Smith, the editor, rose from his knees and explained. A line of telegraph was to be built from Baltimore to Washington. Congress had granted the money. He had taken the contract from Professor Morse to lay the tube in which the wire was to be placed. He had made a bad bargain, he feared. The job was going to cost more than he had calculated, on. He was trying to invent something that would dig the ditch, and fill in the dirt again after the pipe was laid. Cornell listened to him, questioned him, found out the size of the pipe and the depth of the ditch, then sat down and passed some minutes in hard thinking. Finally he said,—

"You are on the wrong tack. You don't want either a ditch or a scraper."

He took a pencil and in a few minutes outlined a machine, which he said would cut a trench two feet deep, lay the pipe at its bottom, and cover the earth in behind it. The motive power need be only a team of oxen or mules. These creatures had but to trudge slowly onward. The machine would do its work faithfully behind them.

"Come, come, this is impossible!" cried editor Smith.

"I'll wager my head it can be done, and I can do it," replied inventor Cornell.

He laid a large premium on his confidence in his idea, promising that if his machine would not work he would ask no money for it. But if it succeeded, he was to be well paid. Smith agreed to these terms, and Cornell went to work.

In ten days the machine was built and ready for trial. A yoke of oxen was attached to it, three men managed it, and in the first five minutes it had laid one hundred feet of pipe and covered it with earth. It was a decided success. Mr. Smith had contracted to lay the pipe for one hundred dollars a mile. A short calculation proved to him that, with the aid of Ezra Cornell's machine, ninety dollars of this would be profit.

But the shrewd editor did not feel like risking Cornell's machine in any hands but those of the inventor. He made him a profitable offer if he would go to Baltimore and take charge of the job himself. It would pay better than selling patent ploughs. Cornell agreed to go.

Reaching Baltimore, he met Professor Morse. They had never met before. Their future lives were to be closely associated. In the conversation that ensued Morse explained what he proposed to do. An electric wire might either be laid underground or carried through the air. He had decided on the underground system, the wire being coated by an insulating compound and drawn through a pipe.

Cornell questioned him closely, got a clear idea of the scheme, saw the pipe that was to be used, and expressed doubts of its working.

"It will work, for it has worked," said Morse. "While I have been fighting Congress, inventors in Europe have been experimenting with the telegraphic idea. Short lines have been laid in England and elsewhere, in which the wire is carried in buried pipes. They had been successful. What can be done in Europe can be done in America."

What Morse said was a fact. While he had been pushing his telegraph conception in America it had been tried successfully in Europe. But the system adopted there, of vibrating needle signals, was so greatly inferior to the Morse system, that it was destined in the future to be almost or quite set aside by the latter. To-day the Morse system and alphabet are used in much the greater number of the telegraph offices of the world.

But to return to our story. Cornell went to work, and the pipe, with its interior wire, was laid with much rapidity. Not many days had elapsed before ten miles were underground, the pipe being neatly covered as laid. It reached from Baltimore nearly to the Relay House. Here it stopped, for something had gone wrong. Morse tested his wire. It would not work. No trace of an electric current could be got through it. The insulation was evidently imperfect. What was to be done? He would be charged with wasting the public money on an impracticable experiment. Yet if he stopped he might expect a roar of newspaper disapprobation of his whole scheme. He was in a serious dilemma. How should he escape?

He sought Cornell, and told him of the failure of his experiments. The work must be stopped. He must try other kinds of pipe and new methods of insulation. But if the public should suspect failure there would be vials of wrath poured on their devoted heads.

"The public shall not suspect failure. Leave it to me," said Cornell.

He turned to his men. The machine was slowly moving forward, drawn by a team of eight mules, depositing pipe as it went. A section had just been laid. Night was at hand.

"Hurry up, boys," cried Cornell, cheerily. "We must lay another length before we quit."

He grasped the handles of his plough-like machine; the drivers stirred up the mules to a lively pace; the contrivance went merrily forward. But the cunning pilot knew what he was about. He steered the buried point of the machine against a rock that just protruded from the earth. In an instant there was a shock, a sound of rending wood and iron, a noise of shouting and trampling; and then the line of mules came to a halt. But behind them were only the ruins of a machine. That moment's work had converted the pipe-laying contrivance into kindling-wood and scrap-iron.

The public condoled with the inventor. It was so unlucky that his promising progress should be stopped by such an accident! As for Morse and his cunning associate, they smiled quietly to themselves as they went on with their experiments. Another kind of pipe was tried. Still the current would not go through. A year passed by. Experiment after experiment had been made. All had proved failures. Twenty-three thousand dollars of the money had been spent. Only seven thousand remained. The inventor was on the verge of despair.

"I am afraid it will never work," said Cornell. "It looks bad for the pipe plan."

"Then let us try the other," said Morse. "If the current won't go underground, it may be coaxed to go above-ground."

The plan suggested was to string the wire upon poles, insulating it from the wood by some non-conductor. A suitable insulator was needed. Cornell devised one; another inventor produced another. Morse approved of the latter, started for New York with it to make arrangements for its manufacture, and on his way met Professor Henry, who knew more about electricity than any other man in the country. Morse showed him the models of the two insulators, and indicated the one he had chosen. Mr. Henry examined them closely.

"You are mistaken," he said. "That one won't work. This is the insulator you need." He pointed to Cornell's device.

In a few words he gave his reasons. Morse saw that he was right. The Cornell insulator was chosen And now the work went forward with great rapidity. The planting of poles, and stringing of wires over a glass insulator at their tops, was an easy and rapid process. And more encouraging still, the thing worked to a charm. There was no trouble now in obtaining signals from the wire.

The first public proof of the system was made on May 11, 1844. On that day the Whig National Convention, then in session at Baltimore, had nominated Henry Clay for the Presidency. The telegraph was being built from the Washington end, and was yet miles distant from Baltimore. The first railroad train from Baltimore carried passengers who were eager to tell the tidings to their Washington friends. But it carried also an agent of Professor Morse, who brought the news to the inventor at the unfinished end of the telegraph. From that point he sent it over the wire to Washington. It was successfully received at the Washington end, and never were human beings more surprised than were the train passengers on alighting at the capital city to find that they brought stale news, and that Clay's nomination was already known throughout Washington. It was the first public proof in America of the powers of the telegraph, and certainly a vital and convincing one.

Before the 24th of May the telegraph line to Baltimore was completed, the tests successfully made, and all was ready for the public exhibition of its marvellous powers, which had been fixed for that day. Miss Ellsworth, in compliance with the inventor's promise, made her more than a year before, was given the privilege of choosing the first message to go over the magic wires. She selected the appropriate message from Scriptures: "What hath God wrought?" With these significant words began the reign of that marvellous invention which has wrought so wonderfully in binding the ends of the earth together and making one family of mankind.

There were difficulties still in the way of the inventor, severe ones. His after-life lay in no bed of roses. His patents were violated, his honor was questioned, even his integrity was assailed; rival companies stole his business, and lawsuits made his life a burden. He won at last, but failed to have the success of his associate, Mr. Cornell, who grew in time very wealthy from his telegraphic enterprises.

As regards the Morse system of telegraphy, it may be said in conclusion that over one hundred devices have been invented to supersede it, but that it holds its own triumphant over them all. The inventor wrought with his brain to good purpose in those days and nights of mental discipline above the Atlantic waves and on board the good ship Sully.


On the 9th of March, 1862, for the first time in human history, two iron-clad ships met in battle. The occasion was a memorable one, and its story is well worthy of being retold in our cycle of historic events. For centuries, for thousands of years, in truth, wooden vessels had been struggling for the mastery of the seas. With the first shot fired from the turret of the Monitor at the roof-like sides of the Merrimac, in the early morning of the day named, the long reign of wooden war vessels ended; that of iron monarchs of the deep began. England could no more trust to her "wooden walls" for safety, and all the nations of Europe, when the echo of that shot reached their ears, felt that the ancient era of naval construction was at an end, and that the future navies of the world must ride the waves clad in massive armor of steel.

On the 8th of March, indeed, this had been shown. On that day the Merrimac steamed down from Norfolk harbor into Hampton Roads, where lay a fleet of wooden men-of-war, some of them the largest sailing frigates then in the American navy. On shore soldiers were encamped, here Union, there Confederate; and the inmates of the camps, the garrison of Fortress Monroe, the crews of the ships at anchor under its guns, all gazed with eager eyes over the open waters of the bay, their interest in the coming contest as intense as Roman audience ever displayed for the life and death struggle in the gladiatorial arena. Before them lay a mightier amphitheatre than that of the Coliseum, and before them was to be fought more notable struggle for life and death than ever took place within the walls of mighty Rome.

It was in the afternoon of the 8th, about one o'clock, that the long roll sounded in the camps on shore, and the cry resounded from camp to camp, "The Merrimac is coming!" For several weeks she had been looked for, and preparations made for her reception. The frigates bore a powerful armament of heavy guns, ready to batter her iron-clad sides, and strong hopes were entertained that this modern leviathan would soon cease to trouble the deep. The lesson fixed by fate for that day had not yet been learned.

Down the bay she came, looking at a distance like a flood-borne house, its sides drowned, only its sloping roof visible. The strange-appearing craft moved slowly, accompanied by two small gunboats as tenders. As she came near no signs of life were visible, while her iron sides displayed no evidence of guns. Yet within that threatening monster was a crew of three hundred men, and her armament embraced ten heavy cannon. Hinged lids closed the gun-ports; raised only when the guns were thrust forward for firing. As for the men, they were hidden somewhere under that iron roof; to be felt, but not seen.

What followed has been told in song and story; it need be repeated here but in epitome. The first assault of the Merrimac was upon the Cumberland, a thirty-gun frigate. Again and again the thirty heavy balls of the frigate rattled upon the impenetrable sides of the iron-clad monster, and bounded off uselessly into the deep. The Merrimac came on at full speed, as heedless of this fusillade as though she was being fired at with peas. As she approached, two heavy balls from her guns tore through the timbers of the Cumberland. They were followed by a stunning blow from her iron beak, that opened a gaping wound in the defenceless side of her victim. Then she drew off, leaving her broken beak sticking in the ship's side, and began firing broadsides into the helpless frigate; raking her fore and aft with shell and grape, despite the fact that she had already got her death-blow, and was rapidly filling with water.

Never ship was fought more nobly than the doomed Cumberland. With the decks sinking under their feet, the men fought with unflinching courage. When the bow guns were under water, the rear guns were made to do double duty. The captain was called on to surrender. He sternly refused. The last shot was fired from a gun on a level with the waves. Then, with sails spread and flags flying, the Cumberland went down, carrying with her nearly one hundred of her crew, the remainder swimming ashore. The water was deep, but the topmast of the doomed vessel still rose above the surface, with its pennant waving in the wind. For months afterwards that old flag continued to fly, as if to say, "The Cumberland sinks, but never surrenders."

The Congress, a fifty-gun frigate, was next attacked, and handled so severely that her commander ran her ashore, and soon after hoisted the white flag, destruction appearing inevitable. Boats were sent by the enemy to take possession, but a sharp fire from the shore drove them off.

"Is this in accordance with military law?" asked one of the officers in the camp. "Since the ship has surrendered, has not the enemy the right to take possession of her?"

This legal knot was quickly and decisively cut by General Mansfield, in an unanswerable decision.

"I know the d——d ship has surrendered," he said. "But we haven't." And the firing continued.

The Merrimac, not being able to seize her prize, opened fire with hot shot on the Congress, and quickly set her on fire. Night was now at hand, and the conquering iron-clad drew off. The Congress continued to burn, her loaded guns roaring her requiem one after another, as the fire spread along her decks. About one o'clock her magazine was reached, and she blew up with a tremendous explosion, the shock being so great as to prostrate many of those on the shore.

So ended that momentous day. It had shown one thing conclusively, that "wooden walls" could no longer "rule the wave." Iron had proved its superiority in naval construction. The next day was to behold another novel sight,—the struggle of iron with iron.

Morning came. The atmosphere was hazy. Only as the mist slowly lifted were the gladiators of that liquid arena successively made visible. Here, just above the water, defiantly floated the flag of the sunken Cumberland. There smoked the still-burning hull of the Congress. Here, up the bay, steamed the Merrimac, with two attendants, the Yorktown and the Patrick Henry. Yonder lay the great hull of the steam-frigate Minnesota, which had taken some part in the battle of the day before, but had unfortunately gone ashore on a mud-bank, from which the utmost efforts failed to force her off. Other Union naval vessels were visible in the distance.

The Merrimac made her way towards the Minnesota, as towards a certain prey. Her commander felt confident that an hour or two would enable him to reduce this great vessel to the condition of her recent companions.

Yet an odd sight met his vision. Alongside the Minnesota floated the strangest-looking craft that human eye had ever gazed upon. An insignificant affair it appeared; a "cheese-box on a raft" it was irreverently designated. The deck, a level expanse of iron, came scarcely above the surface. Above it rose a circular turret, capable of being revolved, and with port-holes for two great guns, among the largest up to that time used in naval warfare.

How this odd contrivance came there so opportunely may be briefly told. It was the conception of John Ericsson, the eminent Swedish engineer, and was being rapidly built in New York while the Merrimac was being plated with thick iron bars in Norfolk. A contest for time took place between these two unlike craft. Spies were in both places, to report progress. Fortunately, the Monitor was finished a day or two before her competitor. Immediately she steamed away for Hampton Roads. The passage was a severe one. Three days were consumed, during which the seas swept repeatedly over the low deck, the men being often half suffocated in their confined quarters, the turret alone standing above the water. As they approached Fortress Monroe the sound of cannonading was heard. Tarrying but a few minutes at the fort, the Monitor, as this odd vessel had been named, approached the Minnesota, and reached her side at a late hour of the night.



And now, with the new day, back to the fray came the Merrimac, looking like a giant in comparison with this dwarfish antagonist. As she approached, the little craft glided swiftly in front of her grounded consort, like a new David offering battle to a modern Goliath. As if in disdain of this puny antagonist, the Merrimac began an attack on the Minnesota. But when the two eleven-inch guns of the Monitor opened fire, hurling solid balls of one hundred and sixty-eight pounds' weight against the iron sides of her great opponent, it became at once evident that a new move had opened in the game, and that the Merrimac had no longer the best of the play.

The fight that followed was an extraordinary one, and was gazed on with intense interest by the throng of spectators who crowded the shores of the bay. The Merrimac had no solid shot, as she had expected only wooden antagonists. Her shells were hurled upon the Monitor, but most of them missed their mark, and those that struck failed to do any injury. So small was the object fired at that the great shells, as a rule, whirled uselessly by, and plunged hissing into the waves. The massive solid balls of the Monitor were far more effective. Nearly every one struck the broad sides of the Merrimac, breaking her armor in several places, and shattering the wood backing behind it. Many times the Merrimac tried to ram her small antagonist, and thus to rid herself of this teasing tormentor, but the active "cheese-box" slipped agilely out of her way. The Monitor in turn tried to disable the screw of her opponent, but without success.

Unable to do any harm to her dwarfish foe, the Merrimac now, as if in disdain, turned her attention to the Minnesota, hurling shells through her side. In return the frigate poured into her a whole broadside at close range.

"It was enough," said the captain of the frigate afterwards, "to have blown out of the water any wooden ship in the world." It was wasted on the iron-clad foe.

This change of action did not please the captain of the Monitor. He thrust his vessel quickly between the two combatants, and assailed so sharply that the Merrimac steamed away. The Monitor followed. Suddenly the fugitive vessel turned, and, like an animal moved by an impulse of fury, rushed head on upon her tormentor. Her beak struck the flat iron deck so sharply as to be wrenched by the blow. The great hull seemed for the moment as if it would crowd the low-lying vessel bodily beneath the waves. But no such result followed. The Monitor glided away unharmed. As she went she sent a ball against the Merrimac that seemed to crush in her armored sides.

At ten o'clock the Monitor steamed away, as if in flight. The Merrimac now prepared to pay attention again to the Minnesota, her captain deeming that he had silenced his tormenting foe. He was mistaken. In half an hour the Monitor, having hoisted a new supply of balls into her turret, was back again, and for two hours more the strange battle continued.

Then it came to an end. The Merrimac turned and ran away. She had need to,—those on shore saw that she was sagging down at the stern. The battle was over. The turreted iron-clad had driven her great antagonist from the field, and won the victory. And thus ended one of the strangest and most notable naval combats in history.

During the fight the Monitor had fired forty-one shots, and been struck twenty-two times. Her greatest injury was the shattering of her pilot-house. Her commander, Lieutenant Worden, was knocked senseless and temporarily blinded by the shock. On board the Merrimac two men were killed and nineteen wounded. Her iron prow was gone, her armor broken and damaged, her steam-pipe and smoke-stock riddled, the muzzles of two of her guns shot away, while water made its way into her through more than one crevice.

Back to Norfolk went the injured Merrimac. Here she was put into the dry-dock and hastily repaired. After that had been done, she steamed down to the old fighting-ground on two or three occasions, and challenged her small antagonist. The Monitor did not accept the challenge. If any accident had happened to her the rest of the fleet would have been lost, and it was deemed wisest to hold her back for emergencies.

On the 10th of May the Confederates marched out of Norfolk. On the 11th the Merrimac was blown up, and only her disabled hull remained as a trophy to the victors. As to her condition and fighting powers, one of the engineers who had charge of the repairs upon her said,—

"A shot from the Monitor entered one of her ports, lodged in the backing of the other side, and so shivered her timbers that she never afterwards could be made seaworthy. She could not have been kept afloat for twelve hours, and her officers knew it when they went out and dared the Monitor to fight her. It was a case of pure bluff; we didn't hold a single pair."

The combat we have recorded was perhaps the most important in the history of naval warfare. It marked a turning-point in the construction of the monarchs of the deep, by proving that the future battles of the sea must be fought behind iron walls.


On a fine day in April, 1862, a passenger-train drew out from Marietta, Georgia, bound north. Those were not days of abundant passenger travel in the South, except for those who wore the butternut uniform and carried muskets, but this train was well filled, and at Marietta a score of men in civilian dress had boarded the cars. Soldierly-looking fellows these were too, not the kind that were likely to escape long the clutch of the Confederate conscription.

Eight miles north of Marietta the train stopped at the station of Big Shanty, with the welcome announcement of "Ten minutes for breakfast." Out from the train, like bees from the hive, swarmed the hungry passengers, and made their way with all speed to the lunch-counter, followed more deliberately by conductor, engineer, and brakesmen. The demands of the lunch-counter are of universal potency; few have the hardihood to resist them; that particular train was emptied in the first of its ten minutes of grace.

Yet breakfast did not seem to appeal to all upon the train. The Marietta group of civilians left the train with the others, but instead of seeking the refreshment-room, turned their steps towards the locomotive. No one noticed them, though there was a Confederate camp hard by the station, well filled with raw recruits, and hardly a dozen steps from the engine a sentinel steadily walked his beat, rifle on shoulder.

One of the men climbed into the engine. The sentinel paid no heed to him. Another slipped in between two cars, and pulled out a coupling-pin. The sentinel failed to observe him. A group of others climbed quickly into an open box-car. The sentinel looked at them, and walked serenely on. The last man of the party now strode rapidly up the platform, nodded to the one in the locomotive, and swung himself lightly into the cab. The sentinel turned at the end of his beat and walked back, just beginning to wonder what all this meant. Meanwhile famine was being rapidly appeased at the lunch-counter within, and the not very luxurious display of food was vanishing like a field of wheat before an army of locusts.

Suddenly the sharp report of a rifle rung with warning sound through the air. The drowsy tenants of the camp sprang to their feet. The conductor hurried, out to the platform. He had heard something besides the rifle-shot,—the grind of wheels on the track,—and his eyes opened widely in alarm and astonishment as he saw that the train was broken in two, and half of it running away. The passenger-cars stood where he had left them. The locomotive, with three box-cars, was flying rapidly up the track. The sentinel, roused to a sense of the situation only when he saw the train in actual flight, had somewhat late given the alarm.

The conductor's eyes opened very wide. The engine, under a full head of steam, was driving up the road. The locomotive had been stolen! Out from the refreshment-room poured passengers and trainmen, filled with surprise and chagrin. What did it mean? What was to be done? There was no other engine within miles. How should these daring thieves ever be overtaken? Their capture seemed a forlorn hope.

The conductor, wild with alarm and dreading reprimand, started up the track on foot, running as fast as his legs could carry him. A railroad mechanic named Murphy kept him company. To one with a love of humor it would have been an amusing sight to see two men on foot chasing a locomotive, but just then Conductor Fuller was not troubled about the opinion of men of humor; his one thought was to overtake his runaway locomotive, and he would have crawled after it if no better way appeared.

Fortune comes to him who pursues her, not to him who waits her coming. The brace of locomotive chasers had not run down their strength before they were lucky enough to spy a hand-car, standing beside the track. Here was a gleam of hope. In a minute or two they had lifted it upon the rails. Springing within it, they applied themselves to the levers, and away they went at a more promising rate of speed.

For a mile or two all went on swimmingly. Then sudden disaster came. The car struck a broken rail and was hurled headlong from the track, sending its occupants flying into the muddy roadside ditch. This was enough to discourage anybody with less go in him than Conductor Fuller. But in a moment he was on his feet, trying his limbs. No bones were broken. A mud-bath was the full measure of his misfortune. Murphy was equally sound. The car was none the worse. With scarce a minute's delay they sprang to it, righted it, and with some strong tugging lifted it upon the track. With very few minutes' delay they were away again, somewhat more cautiously than before, and sharply on the lookout for further gifts of broken rails from the runaways ahead.

Leaving the pair of pursuers to their seemingly hopeless task, we must return to the score of locomotive pirates. These men who had done such strange work at Big Shanty were by no means what they seemed. They were clad in the butternut gray and the slouch hats of the Confederacy, but their ordinary attire was the blue uniform of the Union army. They were, in truth, a party of daring scouts, who had stealthily made their way south in disguise, their purpose being to steal a train, burn the bridges behind them as they fled, and thus make useless for a time the only railroad by which the Confederate authorities could send troops to Chattanooga, then threatened by the Union forces under General Mitchel.

They had been remarkably successful, as we have seen, at the beginning of their enterprise. Making their way, by devious routes, to Marietta, they had gathered at that place, boarded a train, and started north. The rush of passengers and trainmen into the refreshment-room at Big Shanty had been calculated upon. The presence of a Confederate camp at that out-of-the-way station had not been. It might have proved fatal to their enterprise but for the stolid stupidity of the sentinel. But that peril had been met and passed. They were safely away. Exhilaration filled their souls. All was safe behind; all seemed safe ahead.

True, there was one peril close at hand. Beside the track ran that slender wire, a resting-place, it seemed, for passing birds. In that outstretching wire their most imminent danger lurked. Fast as they might go, it could flash the news of their exploit a thousand-fold faster. The flight of the lightning news-bearer must be stopped. The train was halted a mile or two from the town, the pole climbed, the wire cut. Danger from this source was at an end. Halting long enough to tear up the rail to whose absence Conductor Fuller owed his somersault, they sprang to their places again and the runaway train sped blithely on.

Several times they stopped for wood and water. When any questions were asked they were answered by the companion of the engineer, James J. Andrews by name, a Union spy by profession, the originator of and leader in this daring enterprise.

"I am taking a train-load of powder to General Beauregard," was his stereotyped answer, as he pointed to the closed box-cars behind him, within one of which lay concealed the bulk of his confederates.

For some time they went swimmingly on, without delay or difficulty. Yet trouble was in the air, ill-fortune awaiting them in front, pursuing them from behind. They had, by the fatality of unlucky chance, chosen the wrong day for their work. Yesterday they would have found a clear track; to-day the road ahead was blocked with trains, hurrying swiftly southward.

At Kingston, thirty miles from Big Shanty, this trouble came upon them in a rush. A local train was to pass at that point. Andrews was well aware of this, and drew his train upon the siding to let it pass, expecting when it had gone to find the road clear to Chattanooga. The train came in on time, halted, and on its last car was seen waving the red danger-flag, the railroad signal that another train was following close behind. Andrews looked at this with no friendly eyes.

"How comes it," he asked the conductor, somewhat sharply, "that the road is blocked in this manner, when I have orders to take this powder to Beauregard without delay?"

"Mitchel has taken Huntsville," answered the conductor. "They say he is coming to Chattanooga. We are getting everything out of there as quickly as we can."

This looked serious. How many trains might there be in the rear? A badly-blocked road meant ruin to their enterprise and possibly death to themselves. They waited with intense anxiety, each minute of delay seeming to stretch almost into an hour. The next train came. They watched it pass with hopeful eyes. Ah! upon its rear floated that fatal red flag, the crimson emblem of death, as it seemed to them.

The next train came. Still the red flag! Still hope deferred, danger coming near! An hour of frightful anxiety passed. It was torture to those upon the engine. It was agony to those in the box-car, who knew nothing of the cause of this frightful delay, and to whom life itself must have seemed to have stopped.

Andrews had to cast off every appearance of anxiety and to feign easy indifference, for the station people were showing somewhat too much curiosity about this train, whose crew were strangers, and concerning which the telegraph had sent them no advices. The practised spy was full of resources, but their searching questions taxed him for satisfying answers.

At length, after more than an hour's delay, the blockade was broken. A train passed destitute of the red flag. The relief was great. They had waited at that station like men with the hangman's rope upon their necks. Now the track to Chattanooga was clear and success seemed assured. The train began to move. It slowly gathered speed. Up went hope in the hearts of those upon the engine. New life flowed in the veins of those within the car as they heard the grinding sound on the rails beneath them, and felt the motion of their prison upon wheels.

Yet perilous possibilities were in their rear. Their delay at Kingston had been threateningly long. They must guard against pursuit. Stopping the train, and seizing their tools, they sprang out to tear up a rail. Suddenly, as they worked at this, a sound met their ears that almost caused them to drop their tools in dismay. It was the far-off bugle blast of a locomotive whistle sounding from the direction from which they had come.

The Confederates, then, were on their track! They had failed to distance pursuit! The delay at Kingston had given their enemies the needed time! Nervous with alarm, they worked like giants. The rail yielded slightly. It bent. A few minutes more and it would be torn from its fastenings. A few minutes! Not a minute could be spared for this vital work. For just then the whistle shrieked again, now close at hand, the rattle of wheels could be heard in the distance, and round a curve behind them came a locomotive speeding up the road with what seemed frantic haste, and filled with armed men, who shouted in triumph at sight of the dismayed fugitives. It was too late to finish their work. Nothing remained to the raiders but to spring to their engine and cars and fly for life.

We have seen the beginnings of this pursuit. We must now go back to trace the doings of the forlorn-hope of pursuers, Fuller and his companion. After their adventure with the broken rail, that brace of worthies pushed on in their hand-car till the station of Etowah was reached. Here, by good fortune for them, an engine stood with steam up, ready for the road. Fuller viewed it with eyes of hope. The game, he felt, was in his hands. For he knew, what the raiders had not known, that the road in advance would be blocked that day with special trains, and on a one-tracked road special trains are an impassable obstacle.

There were soldiers at Etowah. Fuller's story of the daring trick of the Yankees gave him plenty of volunteers. He filled the locomotive and its cab with eager allies, and drove on at the greatest speed of which his engine was capable, hoping to overtake the fugitives at Kingston. He reached that place; they were not there. Hurried questions taught him that they were barely gone, with very few minutes the start. Away he went again, sending his alarm whistle far down the road in his front.

The race was now one for life or death. Andrews and his men well knew what would be their fate if they were caught. They dared not stop and fight; their only arms were revolvers, and they were outnumbered by their armed foes. Their only hope lay in flight. Away they went; on came their shouting pursuers. Over the track thundered both locomotives at frightful speed. The partly-raised rail proved no obstacle to the pursuers. They were over it with a jolt and a jump, and away on the smooth track ahead.

If the fugitives could have halted long enough to tear up a rail or burn a bridge all might have been well; but that would take more minutes than they had to spare. A shrewd idea came into Andrews's fertile mind. The three box-cars behind him were a useless load. One of them might be usefully spared. The rear car of the train was uncoupled and left behind, with the hope that the pursuers might unwittingly dash into it and be wrecked. On they went, leaving a car standing on the track.

Fortunately for the Confederates, they saw the obstruction in time to prepare for it. Their engine was slowed up, and the car caught and pushed before it. Andrews tried the device a second time, another car being dropped. It was picked up by Fuller in the same manner as before. On reaching a siding at Resaca station, the Confederate engineer switched off these supernumerary cars, and pushed ahead again relieved of his load.

Not far beyond was a bridge which the raiders had intended to destroy. It could not be done. The pursuit was too sharp. They dashed on over its creaking planks, having time for nothing but headlong flight. The race was a remarkably even one, the engines proving to be closely matched in speed. Fuller, despite all his efforts, failed to overtake the fugitives, but he was resolved to push them so sharply that they would have no time to damage track or bridges, or take on wood or water. In the latter necessity Andrews got the better of him. His men knocked out the end of the one box-car they had left, and dropped the ties with which it was loaded one by one upon the track, delaying the pursuers sufficiently to enable them to take on some fresh fuel.

Onward again went the chase, mile after mile, over a rough track, at a frightful speed, the people along the route looking on with wondering eyes. It seemed marvellous that the engines could cling to those unevenly-laid rails. The escape of the pursuers, was, indeed, almost miraculous, for Andrews found time to stop just beyond a curve and lay a loose rail on the track, and Fuller's engine ran upon this at full speed. There came a terrific jolt; the engine seemed to leap into the air; but by a marvellous chance it lighted again on the rails and ran on unharmed. Had it missed the track not a man on it would have lived to tell the tale.

The position of the fugitives was now desperate. Some of them wished to leave the engine, reverse its valves, and send it back at full speed to meet the foe. Others suggested that they should face the enemy and fight for their lives. Andrews was not ready to accept either of these plans. He decided to go on and do the work for which they had set out, if possible. He knew the road. There was a covered bridge a few miles ahead. If they could burn this all would be well. He determined to try.

There was one box-car left. That might serve his purpose. He had his men pile wood on its floor, and light this with coals from the engine. In a minute it was burning. The draught made by the rushing train soon blew the fire into a roaring flame. By the time the bridge was reached the whole car was in a fierce blaze.

Andrews slowed up and uncoupled this blazing car on the bridge. He stopped the engine just beyond, and he and his companions watched it hopefully. The flames curled fiercely upward. Dense smoke poured out at each end of the covered bridge. Success seemed to be at length in their hands. But the flames failed to do their work. The roof of the bridge had been soaked by recent rains and resisted the blazing heat. The roaring flames were uselessly licking the wet timbers when the pursuing engine came dashing up. Fuller did not hesitate for a minute. He had the heart of a soldier in the frame of a conductor. Into the blinding smoke his engine was daringly driven, and in a minute it had caught the blazing car and was pushing it forward. A minute more and it rolled into the open air, and the bridge was saved. Its timbers had stubbornly refused to burn.

This ended the hopes of the fugitives. They had exhausted their means of checking pursuit. Their wood had been all consumed in this fruitless effort; their steam was rapidly going down; they had played their last card and lost the game. The men sprang from the slowed-up engine. The engineer reversed its valves and followed them. Into the fields they rushed and ran in all directions, their only hope being now in their own powers of flight. As they sped away the engines met, but without damage. The steam in the stolen engine had so fallen that it was incapable of doing harm. The other engine had been stopped, and the pursuers were springing agilely to the ground, and hurrying into the fields in hot chase.

Pursuit through field and forest was as keen and unrelenting as it had been over iron rails. The Union lines were not far distant, yet not a man of the fugitives succeeded in reaching them. The alarm spread with great rapidity; the whole surrounding country was up in pursuit; and before that day ended several of the daring raiders were prisoners in Confederate hands. The others buried themselves in woods and swamps, lived on roots and berries, and ventured from their hiding-places only at night. Yet they were hunted with unwearying persistence, and by the end of a week all but two had been captured. These two had so successfully eluded pursuit that they fancied themselves out of danger, and became somewhat careless in consequence. As a result, in a few days more they, too, fell into the hands of their foes.

A court-martial was convened. The attempt had been so daring, and so nearly successful, the injury intended so great, and the whole affair so threatening, that the Confederate military authorities could not think of leniency. Andrews and seven of his companions were condemned to death and hung. Their graves may be seen to-day in the Soldiers' Cemetery at Chattanooga, monuments to one of the most daring and reckless enterprises in the history of the Civil War. The others were imprisoned.


During the winter of 1864 certain highly interesting operations were going on in the underground region of the noted Libby Prison, at Richmond, Virginia, at that time the by no means luxurious or agreeable home of some eleven hundred officers of the United States army. These operations, by means of which numerous captives were to make their way to fresh air and freedom, are abundantly worthy of being told, as an evidence of the ingenuity of man and the amount of labor and hardship he is willing to give in exchange for liberty.



Libby Prison was certainly not of palatial dimensions or accommodations. Before the war it had been a tobacco warehouse, situated close by the Lynchburg Canal, and a short distance from James River, whose waters ran by in full view of the longing eyes which gazed upon them from the close-barred prison windows. For the story which we have to tell some description of the make-up of this place of detention is a necessary preliminary. The building was three stories high in front, and four in the rear, its dimensions being one hundred and sixty-five by one hundred and five feet. It was strongly built, of brick and stone, while very thick partition walls of brick divided it internally into three sections. Each section had its cellar, one of them, with which we are particularly concerned, being unoccupied. The others were occasionally used. The first floor had three apartments, one used by the prison authorities, one as a hospital, while the middle one served the prisoners as a cooking-and dining-room. The second and third stories were the quarters of the prisoners, where, in seven rooms, more than eleven hundred United States officers ate, slept, and did all the duties of life for many months. It may even be said that they enjoyed some of the pleasures of life, for though the discipline was harsh and the food scanty and poor, man's love of enjoyment is not easily to be repressed, and what with occasional minstrel and theatrical entertainments among themselves, fencing exercises with wooden swords, games of cards, checkers and chess, study of languages, military tactics, etc., and other entertainments and pastimes, they managed somewhat to overcome the monotony of prison life and the hardship of prison discipline.

As regards chances of escape, they were very poor. A strong guard constantly surrounded the prison, and such attempts at escape as were made were rarely successful. The only one that had measurable success is that which we have to describe, in which a body of prisoners played the rôle of rats or beavers, and got out of Libby by an underground route.

The tunnel enterprise was the project of a few choice spirits only. It was too perilous to confide to many. The disused cellar was chosen as the avenue of escape. It was never visited, and might be used with safety. But how to get there was a difficult question to solve. And how to hide the fact that men were absent from roll-call was another. The latter difficulty was got over by several expedients. If Lieutenant Jones, for instance, was at work in the tunnel, Captain Smith would answer for him; then, when Smith was pronounced absent, he would step forward and declare that he had answered to his own name. His presence served as sure proof that he had not been absent. Other and still more ingenious methods were at times adopted, and the authorities were completely hoodwinked in this particular.

And now as regards the difficulty of entering the cellar. The cooking-room on the first floor contained, in its thick brick and stone partition, a fireplace, in front of which, partly masking it, three stoves were placed for the cooking operations of the prisoners. The floor of this fireplace was chosen as the initial point of excavation, from which a sloping passage might be made, under the floor of the next room, into the disused cellar.

Captain Hamilton, a stonemason by trade, began the excavation, removing the first brick and stone from the fireplace. It need scarcely be said that this work was done only at night, and with as little noise as possible. By day the opening was carefully closed, the bricks and stones being so ingeniously replaced that no signs of disturbance appeared. Thick as the wall was, a passage was quickly made through it, presenting an easy route to the cellar below. As for this cellar, it was dark, rarely or never opened, and contained only some old boxes, boards, straw, and the like débris, and an abundance of rats.

The cellar reached, and the route to it carefully concealed by day alike from the prison authorities and the prisoners not in the secret, the question of the tunnel followed. There were two possible routes. One of these led southward, towards the canal; the other eastward, under a narrow street, on the opposite side of which was a yard and stable, with a high board fence on the street side. The opposite side of the yard faced a warehouse.

A tunnel was commenced towards the canal. But it quickly struck a sewer whose odor was more than the workers could endure. It was abandoned, and a tunnel begun eastward, the most difficult part of it being to make an opening in the thick foundation wall. The hope of liberty, however, will bear man up through the most exhausting labors, and this fatiguing task was at length successfully performed. The remainder of the excavation was through earth, and was easier, though much the reverse of easy.

A few words will tell what was to be done, and how it was accomplished. The tunnel began near the floor of the cellar, eight or nine feet underground. Its length would need to be seventy or eighty feet. Only one man could work in it at a time, and this he had to do while crawling forward with his face downward, and with such tools as pocket-knives, small hatchets, sharp pieces of wood, and a broken fire-shovel. After the opening had made some progress two men could work in it, one digging, the other carrying back the earth, for which work frying-pans were brought into use.

Another point of some little importance was the disposal of the dirt. This was carelessly scattered over the cellar floor, with straw thrown over it, and some of it placed in boxes and barrels. The whole amount was not great, and not likely to be noticed if the officials should happen to enter the cellar, which had not been cleaned for years.

The work here described was begun in the latter part of January, 1864. So diligently was it prosecuted that the tunnel was pronounced finished on the night of February 8. During this period only two or three men could work at once. It was, indeed, frightfully exhausting labor, the confinement of the narrow passage and the difficulty of breathing in its foul air being not the least of the hardships to be endured. Work was prosecuted during part of the period night and day, the absence of a man from roll-call being concealed in various ways, as already mentioned.

The secret had been kept well, but not too well. Some workers had divulged it to their friends. Others of the prisoners had discovered that something was going on, and had been let into the affair on a pledge of secrecy. By the time the tunnel was completed its existence was known to something more than one hundred out of the eleven hundred prisoners. These were all placed on their word of honor to give no hint of the enterprise.

The night of February 8 was signalized by the opening of the outward end of the tunnel. A passage was dug upwards, and an opening made sufficiently large to permit the worker to take a look outward into the midnight air. What he saw gave him a frightful shock. The distance had been miscalculated; the opening was on the wrong side of the fence; there in full sight was one of the sentinels, pacing his beat with loaded musket.

Here was a situation that needed nerve and alertness. The protruded head was quickly withdrawn, and the earth which had been removed rapidly replaced, it being packed as tightly as possible from below to prevent its falling in. Word of the perilous error was sent back, and as the whisper passed from ear to ear every heart throbbed with a nervous shock. They had barely escaped losing the benefit of their weeks of exhausting labor.

The opening had been at the outward edge of the fence. The tunnel was now run two feet farther, and an opening again made. It was now on the inside of the fence, and in a safe place, for the stable adjoining the yard was disused.

The evening of the 9th was that fixed upon for flight. At a little after nine o'clock the exodus began. Those in the secret made their way to the cooking-room. The fireplace passage was opened, and such was the haste to avail themselves of it that the men almost struggled for precedence. Rules had been made, but no order could be kept. Silence reigned, however. No voice was raised above a whisper; every footstep was made as light as possible. It had been decided that fifty men should leave that night, and fifty the next, the prison clerk being deceived at roll-call by an artifice which had been practised more than once before, that of men leaving one end of the line and regaining the other unseen, to answer to the names of others. But the risk of discovery was too great. Every man wanted to be among the first. It proved impossible to restrain the anxious prisoners.

Down into the cellar passed a long line of descending men, dropping to its floor in rapid succession. Around the mouth of the tunnel a dense crowd gathered. But here only one man was allowed to pass at a time, on account of the bad air. The noise made in passing through told those behind how long the tunnel was occupied. The instant the noise ceased another plunged in.

The passage was no easy one. The tunnel was little more than wide enough to contain a man's body, and progress had to be made by kicking and scrambling forward. Two or three minutes, however, sufficed for the journey, the one who had last emerged helping his companion to the upper air.

Here was a carriage-way fronting southward, and leading into Canal Street, which ran along the Lynchburg Canal. Four guards paced along the south side of the prison within plain view. The risk was great. On emerging from the carriage-way the fugitives would be in full sight of these guards. But the risk must be taken. Watching the street for a moment in which it was comparatively clear, one by one they passed out and walked deliberately along the canal, in the direction away from the prison, like ordinary passers. This dangerous space was crossed with remarkable good fortune. If the guards noticed them at all, they must have taken them for ordinary citizens. The unusual number of passers, on that retired street, nearly the whole night long, does not seem to have attracted the attention of any of the guards. One hundred and nine escaped in all, yet not a man of them was challenged.

Canal Street once left, the first breath of relief was drawn. Those who early escaped soon found themselves in well-lighted streets, many of the shops still open, and numerous citizens and soldiers promenading. No one took notice of the fugitives, who strolled along the streets in small groups, laughing and talking on indifferent subjects, and, with no sign of haste, directing their steps towards the outskirts of the city.

As to what followed, there are almost as many adventures to relate as there were persons escaped. We shall confine ourselves to the narrative of one of them, Captain Earle, from whose story the particulars above given have been condensed. With him was one companion, Captain Charles E. Rowan.

They had provided themselves with a small quantity of food, but had no definite plans. It quickly occurred to them, however, that they had better make their way down the peninsula, towards Fortress Monroe, as the nearest locality where Union troops could probably be found. With the polar star for guide they set out, having left the perilous precincts of the city in their rear.

To travel by night, to hide by day, was their chosen plan. The end of their first night's journey found them in the vicinity of a swamp, some five miles from Richmond. Here, hid behind a screen of brushwood and evergreen bushes, they spent the long and anxious day, within hearing of the noises of the camps around the city, but without discovery.

A day had made a gratifying change in their situation. The day before they had been prisoners, with no apparent prospect of freedom for months. This day they were free, even if in a far from agreeable situation. Liberty solaced them for the weariness of that day's anxious vigil. How long they would remain free was the burning question of the hour. They were surrounded with perils. Could they hope to pass through them in safety? This only the event could tell.

The wintry cold was one of their difficulties. Their meagre stock of food was another. They divided this up into very small rations, with the hope that they could make it last for six days. The second night they moved in an easterly direction, and near morning ventured to approach a small cabin, which proved to be, as they had hoped, occupied by a negro. He gave them directions as to their course, and all the food he had,—a small piece of pone bread.

That day they suffered much, in their hiding place, from the cold. That night, avoiding roads, they made their way through swamp and thicket, finding themselves in the morning chilled with wet clothing and torn by briers. Near morning of the third night they reached what seemed to be a swamp. They concluded to rest on its borders till dawn, and then pass through it. Sleep came to them here. When they wakened it was full day, and an agreeable surprise greeted their eyes. What they supposed to be a swamp proved to be the Chickahominy River. The prospect of meeting this stream had given them much mental anxiety. Captain Rowan could not swim. Captain Earle had no desire to do so, in February. How it was to be crossed had troubled them greatly. As they opened their eyes now, the problem was solved. There lay a fallen tree, neatly bridging the narrow stream! In less than five minutes they were safely on the other side of this dreaded obstacle, and with far better prospects than they had dreamed of a few hours before.

By the end of the fourth night they found that their six days' stock of food was exhausted, and their strength almost gone. Their only hope of food now lay in confiscating a chicken from the vicinity of some farm-house, and eating it raw. For this purpose they cautiously approached the out-buildings of a farm-house. Here, while secretly scouting for the desired chicken, they were discovered by a negro. They had no need to fear him. There is no case on record of a negro betraying an escaped prisoner into the hands of the enemy. The sympathy of these dusky captives to slavery could be safely counted upon, and many a fugitive owed to them his safety from recapture.

"Glad to see you, gemmen," he cried, courteously. "You's Yankee off'cers, 'scaped from prison. It's all right wid me, gemmen. Come dis way; you's got to be looked arter."

The kindly sympathy of this dusky friend was so evident that they followed him without a thought of treachery. He led them to his cabin, where a blazing fire in an old-fashioned fireplace quickly restored that sense of the comfort of warmth which they had for days lost.

Several colored people were present, who surrounded and questioned them with the warmest sympathy. A guard was posted to prevent surprise, and the old mammy of the family hastened to prepare what seemed to them the most delicious meal they had ever tasted. The corn-bread pones vanished down their throats as fast as she could take them from the hot ashes in which they were baked. The cabbage, fried in a skillet, tasted like ambrosia. The meat no game could surpass in flavor, and an additional zest was added to it by their fancy that it had been furnished by the slave-holder's pantry. They had partaken of many sumptuous meals, but nothing to equal that set before them on the hospitable table of their dusky hosts. They were new men, with new courage, when they at length set out again, fully informed as to their route.

On they went through the cold, following the difficult paths which they chose in preference to travelled roads, while the dogs,—for the peninsula seemed to them to be principally peopled by dogs,—by their unceasing chorus of barks, right, left, and in front, kept them in a state of nervous exasperation. Many times did they turn from their course through fear of detection from these vociferous guardians of the night.

On the fifth day they were visited, in their place of concealment, by a snow-storm. Their suffering from cold now became so intolerable that they could not remain at rest, and they resumed their route about four o'clock. Two hours they went, and then, to their complete discouragement, found themselves back again at their starting-point, and cold, wet, tired, and hungry into the bargain.

As they stood there, expressing in very plain language their opinion of Dame Fortune, a covered cart approached. Taking it for granted that the driver was a negro, they hailed him; but to their dismay found that they had halted a white man.

There was but one thing to do. They told him that they were Confederate scouts, and asked him for information about the Yankee outposts. A short conference ensued, which ended in their discovering that they were talking to a man of strong Union sympathies, and as likely to befriend them as the negroes. This was a hopeful discovery. They now freely told him who they really were, and in return received valuable information as to roads, being told in addition where they could find a negro family who would give them food.

"If you can keep out of the way of rebel scouts for twenty-four hours more," he continued, "you will very likely come across some of your own troops. But you are on very dangerous ground. Here is the scouting-place of both armies, and guerillas and bushwackers are everywhere."

Thanking him, and with hearts filled with new hope, the wanderers started forward. At midnight they reached the negro cabin to which they had been directed, where, to their great relief, they obtained a substantial meal of corn-bread, pork, and rye coffee, and, what was quite as acceptable, a warming from a bright fire. The friendly black warned them, as their late informant had done, of the danger of the ground they had yet to traverse.

These warnings caused them to proceed very cautiously, after leaving the hospitable cabin of their sable entertainer. But they had not gone far before they met an unexpected and vexatious obstacle, a river or creek, the Diascon, as the negroes named it. They crossed it at length, but not without great trouble and serious loss of time.

It was now the sixth night since their escape. Hitherto Captain Rowan had been a model of strength, perseverance, and judgment. Now these qualities seemed suddenly to leave him. The terrible strain, mental and physical, to which they had been exposed, and their sufferings from cold, fatigue, and hunger, produced their effect at last, and he became physically prostrate and mentally indifferent. Captain Earle, who retained his energies, had great difficulty in persuading him to proceed, and before daybreak was obliged to let him stop and rest.

When dawn appeared they found themselves in an open country, affording poor opportunities for concealment. They felt sure, however, that they must be near the Union outposts. With these considerations they concluded to make their journey now by day, and in a road. In truth, Rowan had lost all care as to how they went and what became of them, and his companion's energy and decision were on the decline.

Onward they trudged, mile by mile, with keen enjoyment of the highway after their bitter experience of by-ways, and somewhat heedless of consequences, though glad to perceive that no human form was in sight. Nine o'clock came. Before them the road curved sharply. They walked steadily onward. But as they neared the curve there came to their ears a most disquieting sound, the noise of hoofs on the hard road-bed, the rattle of cavalry equipments. A force of horsemen was evidently approaching. Were they Union or Confederate? Was freedom or renewed captivity before them? They looked quickly to right and left. No opportunity for concealment appeared. Nor was there a moment's time for flight, for the sound of hoof-beats was immediately followed by the appearance of mounted and uniformed men, a cavalry squad, still some hundreds of yards away, but riding towards them at full gallop.

The eyes of the fugitives looked wistfully and anxiously towards them. Thank Heaven! they wore the Union blue! Those guidons which rose high in the air bore the Union colors! They were United States cavalry! Safety was assured!

In a minute more the rattling hoofs were close at hand, the band of rescuers were around them; eager questions, glad answers, heartfelt congratulations filled the air. In a very few minutes the fugitives were mounted and riding gladly back in the midst of their new friends, to be banqueted, feasted, and fêted, until every vestige of their hardships had been worn away by human kindness.

As to their feelings at this happy termination of their heroic struggle for freedom, words cannot express them. The weary days, the bitter disappointments, the harsh treatment of prison life; the days and nights of cold, hunger, and peril, wanderings through swamps and thorny thickets, hopes and despairs of flight; all were at an end, and now only friends surrounded them, only congratulating and commiserating voices met their ears. It was a feast of joy never to be forgotten.

A few words will finish. One hundred and nine men had escaped. Of these, fifty-five reached the Union lines. Fifty-four were captured and taken back to prison. Some of the escaped officers, more swift in motion or fortunate in route than the others, reached the Union lines on their third day from Richmond. Their report that others were on the road bore good fruit. General Butler, then in command at Fortress Monroe, sent out, on alternate days, the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry and the First New York Rifles to patrol the country in search of the escaping prisoners, with tall guidons to attract their attention if they should be in concealment. Many of the fugitives were thus rescued. The adventures of two, as above given, must serve for example of them all.


Naval operations in the American Civil War were particularly distinguished by the active building of iron-clads. The North built and employed them with marked success; the South, with marked failure. With praiseworthy energy and at great cost the Confederates produced iron-clad vessels of war in Norfolk Harbor, on Roanoke River, in the Mississippi, and elsewhere, yet, with the exception of the one day's raid of ruin of the Merrimac in Hampton Roads, their labor was almost in vain, their expensive war-vessels went down in the engulfing waters or went up in flame and smoke. Their efforts in this direction were simply conspicuous examples of non-success. We propose here to tell the tale of disaster of the Albemarle, one of these iron-clads, and the great deed of heroism which brought her career to an untimely end.

The Albemarle was built on the Roanoke River in 1863. She was of light draught, but of considerable length and width, her hull above the water-line being covered with four inches of iron bars. Such an armor would be like paper against the great guns of to-day; then it served its purpose well. The competition for effectiveness between rifled cannon and armor plates had not yet begun.

April, 1864, had arrived before this formidable opponent of the Union blockading fleet was ready for service. Then, one misty morning, down the river she went, on her mission of death and destruction. The opening of her career was promising. She attacked the Union gunboats and fort at Plymouth, near the mouth of the river, captured one of the boats, sunk another, and aided in forcing the fort to surrender, its garrison being taken prisoners. It had been assailed at the same time by a strong land force, and the next day Plymouth itself was taken by the Confederate troops, with a heavy Union loss in men and material.

So far favoring fortune had attended the Albemarle. Enlivened with success, on a morning in May she steamed out into the deeper waters of Albemarle Bay, confident on playing the same rôle with the wooden vessels there that the Merrimac had played in Hampton Roads. She failed in this laudable enterprise. The Albemarle was not so formidable as the Merrimac. The steamers of war which she was to meet were more formidable than the Congress and the Cumberland. She first encountered the Sassacus, a vessel of powerful armament. More agile than the iron-clad, the Sassacus played round her, exchanging shots, and seeking a vulnerable point. At length, under a full head of steam, she dashed on the monster, striking a blow which drove it bodily half under the water. Recovering from the blow, the two vessels, almost side by side, hurled 100-pound balls upon each other. Most of those of the Sassacus bounded from the mailed sides of her antagonist, like hail from stone walls. But three of them entered a port, and did sad work within. In reply the Albemarle sent one of her great bolts through a boiler of the Sassacus, filling her with steam. So far the iron-clad had the best of the game; but others of the fleet were now near at hand; the balls which had entered her port had done serious injury; she was no longer in fighting trim; she turned and made the best of her way back to Plymouth, firing as she fled.

This ended her career for that summer. But repairs were made, and she was put in fighting trim again; another gunboat was building as a consort; unless something were quickly done she would soon be in Albemarle Sound again, with possibly a different tale to tell from that of her first assault.

At this critical juncture Lieutenant William B. Cushing, a very young but a very bold officer, proposed a daring plan; no less a one than to attack the Albemarle at her wharf, explode a torpedo under her hull, and send her, if possible, to the bottom of the Roanoke. He proposed to use a swift steam-launch, run up the stream at night, and assail the iron-clad where she lay in fancied security. From the bow of the launch protruded a long spar, loaded at its end with a 100-pound dynamite cartridge. The spar could be lowered by pulling one rope, the cartridge detached by pulling another, and the dynamite exploded by pulling a third.

The proposed exploit was a highly perilous one. The Albemarle lay eight miles up the river. Plymouth was garrisoned by several thousand soldiers, and the banks of the stream were patrolled by sentinels all the way down to the bay. It was more than likely that none of the adventurers would live to return. Yet Cushing and the crew of seven daring men whom he selected were willing to take the risk, and the naval commanders, to whom success in such an enterprise promised the most valuable results, agreed to let them go.

It was a dark night in which the expedition set out,—that of October 27, 1864. Up the stream headed the little launch, with her crew of seven, and towing two boats, each containing ten men, armed with cutlasses, grenades, and revolvers. Silently they proceeded, keeping to mid-stream, so as to avoid alarming the sentinels on the banks. In this success was attained; the eight miles were passed and the front of the town reached without the Confederates having an inkling of the disaster in store for them.

Reaching Plymouth, Lieutenant Cushing came to a quick decision as to what had best be done. He knew the town well. No alarm had been given. He might land a party and take the Albemarle by surprise. He could land his men on the lower wharf, lead them stealthily through the dark streets, leap with them upon the iron-clad, surprise the officers and crew, and capture the vessel at her moorings. It was an enterprise of frightful risk, yet Cushing was just the man for it, and his men would follow wherever he should lead. A low order was given. The launch turned and glided almost noiselessly towards the wharf. But she was now only a short distance from the Albemarle, on whose deck the lookout was wide-awake.

"What boat is that?" came a loud hail.

No reply. The launch glided on.

"What boat is that?" came the hail again, sharper than before.

"Cast off!" said Cushing, in a low tone. The two boats were loosened and drifted away. The plan of surprise was at an end. The vigilance of the lookout had made it impossible. That of destruction remained. The launch was turned again, and moved once more towards the Albemarle.

They were quickly so close that the hull of the iron-clad loomed darkly above them. Upon that vessel all was commotion. The unanswered hail was followed by the springing of rattles, ringing of bells, running of men, and shouting of orders. Muskets were fired at random at the dimly seen black object. Bullets whizzed past the devoted crew. Lights began to flash here and there. A minute before all had been rest and silence; now all was noise, alarm, and commotion.



All this did not disconcert the intrepid commander of the launch. His main concern at that moment was an unexpected obstacle he had discovered, and which threatened to defeat his enterprise. A raft of logs had been placed around the iron-clad to protect her from any such attack. There she lay, not fifty feet away; but this seemingly insuperable obstacle intervened.

What was to be done? In emergencies like that men think quickly and to the point. The raft must be passed, or all was at an end. The logs had been long in the water, and doubtless were slippery with river slime. The launch might be run upon and over them. Once inside the raft, it could never return. No matter for that. He was there to sink the Albemarle. The smaller contingency of losing his own life was a matter to be left for an after-thought.

This decision was reached in a moment's thought. The noise above them increased. Men were running and shouting, lights flashing, landsmen, startled by the noise, hurrying to the river-bank. Without an instant's delay the launch was wheeled round, steamed rapidly into the stream until a good offing was gained, turned again, and now drove straight forward for the Albemarle with all the power of her engines. As she came near bullets poured like hail across her decks. One tore off the sole of Cushing's shoe; another went through the back of his coat; it was perilously close and hot work. The hail came again:

"What boat is that?"

This time Lieutenant Cushing replied. His reply was not in words, however, but in a howitzer load of canister which drove across the Albemarle's deck. The next minute the bow of the launch struck the logs. As had been expected, the light craft slid up on their slippery surfaces, forcing them down into the water. The end of the spar almost touched the iron hull of the destined victim.

The first rope was loosened. The spar, with its load, dropped under water. The launch was still gliding onward, and carrying the spar forward. The second cord was pulled; the torpedo dropped from the spar. At this moment a bullet cut across the left palm of the gallant Cushing. As it did so he pulled the third cord. The next instant a surging column of water was raised, lifting the Albemarle as though the great iron-clad were of feather weight. At the same instant a cannon, its muzzle not fifteen feet away, sent its charge rending through the timbers of the launch.

The Albemarle, lifted for a moment on the boiling surge, settled down into the mud of her shallow anchorage, never more to swim, with a great hole torn in her bottom. The torpedo had done its work. Cushing had earned his fame.

"Surrender!" came a loud shout from Confederate lungs.

"Never!" shouted Cushing in reply. "Save yourselves!" he said to his men.

In an instant he had thrown off coat, shoes, sword, and pistols, and plunged into the waters that rolled darkly at his feet, and in which he had just dug a grave for the Albemarle. His men sprung beside him, and struck out boldly for the farther shore.

All this had passed in far less time than it takes to tell it. Little more than five minutes had passed since the first hail, and already the Albemarle was a wreck, the launch destroyed, her crew swimming for their lives, and bullets from deck and shore pouring thickly across the dark stream.

The incensed Confederates hastily manned boats and pushed out into the stream. In a few minutes they had captured most of the swimming crew. One sank and was drowned. One reached the shore. The gallant commander of the launch they failed to find. They called his name,—they had learned it from their prisoners,—but no answer came, and the darkness veiled him from view. Had he gone to the bottom? Such most of the searchers deemed to be his fate.

In a few minutes the light of a blazing fire flashed across the river from Plymouth wharf. It failed to reveal any swimming forms. The impression became general that the daring commander was drowned. After some further search most of the boats returned, deeming their work at an end.

They had not sought far or fast enough. Cushing had reached shore—on the Plymouth side—before the fire was kindled. He was chilled and exhausted, but he dared not stop to rest. Boats were still patrolling the stream; parties of search might soon be scouring the river-banks; the moments were precious, he must hasten on.

He found himself near the walls of a fort. On its parapet, towering gloomily above him, a sentinel could be seen, pacing steadily to and fro. The fugitive lay almost under his eyes. A bushy swamp lay not far beyond, but to reach its shelter he must cross an open space forty feet wide in full view of this man. The sentinel walks away. Cushing makes a dash for life. But not half the space is traversed when his backward glancing eye sees the sentinel about to turn. Down he goes on his back in the rushes, trusting to their friendly shelter and the gloom of the night to keep him from sight.

As he lies there, slowly gaining breath after his excited effort, four men—two of them officers—pass so close that they almost tread on his extended form, seeking him, but failing to see what lies nearly under their feet. They pass on, talking of the night's startling event. Cushing dares not rise again. Yet the swamp must be gained, and speedily. Still flat on his back, he digs his heels into the soft earth, and pushes himself inch by inch through the rushes, until, with a warm heart-throb of hope, he feels the welcome dampness of the swamp.

It proves to be no pleasant refuge. The mire is too deep to walk in, while above it grow tangled briers and thorny shrubs, through which he is able to pass only as before, by lying on his back, and pushing and pulling himself onward.

The hours of the night passed. Day dawned. He had made some progress, and was now at a safe distance from the fort, but found himself still in the midst of peril. Near where he lay a party of soldiers were at work, engaged in planting obstructions in the river, lest the Union fleet should follow its daring pioneers to Plymouth, now that the Albemarle was sunk, and the chief naval defence of the place gone.

Just back from the river-bank, and not far from where he lay, a cornfield lifted its yellowed plumes into the air. Cushing managed to reach its friendly shelter unobserved, and now, almost for the first time since his escape, stood upright, and behind the rustling rows made his way past the soldiers.

To his alarm, as he came near the opposite side of the field, he found himself face to face with a man who glared at him in surprise. Well he might, for the late trimly-dressed lieutenant was now a sorry sight, covered from head to foot with swamp mud, his clothes rent, and blood oozing from a hundred scratches in his skin.

He had no reason for alarm; the man was a negro; the dusky face showed sympathy under its surprise.

"I am a Union soldier," said Cushing, feeling in his heart that no slave would betray him.

"One o' dem as was in de town last night?" asked the negro.

"Yes. Have you been there? Can you tell me anything?"

"No, massa; on'y I's been tole dat dar's pow'ful bad work dar, an' de sojers is bilin' mad."

Further words passed, in the end the negro agreeing to go to the town, see for himself what harm had been done, and bring back word. Cushing would wait for him under shelter of the corn.

The old negro set out on his errand, glad of the opportunity to help one of "Massa Linkum's sojers." The lieutenant secreted himself as well as he could, and waited. An hour passed. Then steps and the rustling of the dry leaves of the corn-stalks were heard. The fugitive peeped from his ambush. To his joy he saw before him the smiling face of his dusky messenger.

"What news?" he demanded, stepping joyfully forward.

"Mighty good news, massa," said the negro, with a laugh. "Dat big iron ship's got a hole in her bottom big 'nough to drive a wagon in. She's deep in de mud, 'longside de wharf, an' folks say she'll neber git up ag'in."

"Good! She's done for, then? My work is accomplished?—Now, old man, tell me how I must go to get back to the ships."

The negro gave what directions he could, and the fugitive took to the swamp again, after a grateful good-by to his dusky friend and a warm "God-speed" from the latter. It was into a thicket of tangled shrubs that Lieutenant Cushing now plunged, so dense that he could not see ten feet in advance. But the sun was visible overhead and served him as a guide. Hour by hour he dragged himself painfully onward. At two o'clock in the afternoon he found himself on the banks of a narrow creek, a small affluent of the Roanoke.

He crouched in the bushes on the creek-side, peering warily before him. Voices reached his ears. Across the stream he saw men. A minute's observation apprised him of the situation. The men he saw to be a group of soldiers, seven in number, who had just landed from a boat in the stream. As he watched, they tied their boat to the root of a tree, and then turned into a path that led upward. Reaching a point at some distance from the river, they stopped, sat down, and began to eat their dinner.

Here was an opportunity, a desperate one, but Cushing had grown ready for desperate chances. He had had enough of wandering through mire and thorns. Without hesitation he lowered himself noiselessly into the water, swam across the stream, untied the boat, pushed it cautiously from the bank, and swam with it down the stream until far enough away to be out of sight of its recent occupants. Then he climbed into the boat and paddled away as fast as possible.

There was no sign of pursuit. The soldiers kept unsuspiciously at their mid-day meal. The swamp-lined creek-sides served well as a shelter from prying eyes. For hours Cushing pursued his slow course. The sun sank; darkness gathered; night came on. At the same time the water widened around him; he was on the surface of the Roanoke.

Onward he paddled; the night crept on till midnight was reached; for ten hours he had been at that exhausting toil. But now before his eyes appeared a welcome sight, the dark hull of a Union gunboat.

"Ship ahoy!" came a loud hail from the exhausted man.

"Who goes there?" answered the lookout on the gunboat.

"A friend. Take me up."

The gunboat was quickly in motion. This might be a Confederate ruse, possibly a torpedo might have been sent to blow them up; they were in dangerous waters. Boats were quickly lowered, and rowed towards the small object on the stream.

"Who are you?" came the cry, as they drew near.

"Lieutenant Cushing, or what is left of me."

"Cushing!" was the excited answer. "And the Albemarle?"

"Will never trouble a Union fleet again. She rests in her grave on the muddy bottom of the Roanoke."

Loud cheers followed this stirring announcement. The sailors bent to their oars, and quickly had the gallant lieutenant on board. Their cheers were heightened tenfold when the crew of the Valley City heard what had been done. In truth, the exploit of Lieutenant Cushing was one that for coolness, daring, and success in the face of seemingly insuperable obstacles has rarely been equalled in history, and the destruction of the Albemarle ranks with the most notable events in the history of war.


In 1867, when the far-seeing Secretary Seward purchased Alaska from the Russian government for $7,200,000, there was an outcry of disapproval equal to that made when Louisiana territory was purchased from France in 1803. Many of the people called the region "Seward's Folly" and said it would produce nothing but icebergs and polar bears, and General Benjamin F. Butler, representative from Massachusetts, said in the House: "If we are to pay this amount for Russia's friendship during the war, then give her the $7,200,000 and tell her to keep Alaska." Representative Washburn, of Wisconsin, exclaimed: "I defy any man on the face of the earth to produce any evidence that an ounce of gold has ever been found in Alaska."

To-day Alaska is yielding in gold $10,000,000 per year; its fisheries are among the richest in the world, including more than half the salmon yield of the United States; its forests are of enormous value; its fur-seal harvest is without a rival; its territory is traversed by one of the greatest rivers of the world, two thousand miles long and with more than a thousand miles of navigable waters, and it promises to become an important farming and stock-raising region. As for extent, it is large enough to cover more than twenty of our States. In revenue it has repaid the United States the original outlay and several millions more; while, aside from its gold product, its fisheries have netted $100,000,000 and its furs $80,000,000 since its acquisition. Seward, then, was wise in looking upon this purchase as the greatest achievement of his life, though he truly said that it would take the country a generation to find out Alaska's value.

The most dramatic and interesting portion of the story of Alaska is its gold-mining enterprise, and it is of this, therefore, that we propose to speak. The discovery of placer gold deposits in British Columbia led naturally to the surmise that this precious metal might be found farther northward, and as early as 1880 wandering gold-hunters had made their way over the passes from Cassiar or inward from the coast and were trying the gravel bars of tributaries of the Yukon, finding the yellow metal at several places.



The first important find along the Yukon was made on Stewart River in 1885, about $100,000 being taken out in two summers. The next year a good find was made at Forty-Mile Creek, finds being made later on Sixty-Mile Creek, Birch Creek, and other streams. On Birch Creek arose Circle City, named from its proximity to the Arctic circle, and growing into a well-built and well-conducted little town.

Meanwhile a valuable find had been made on Douglas Island, one of the long chain of islands that bound the western coast line, and this has since developed into one of the richest mines in the world. It is not a placer mine, however, but a quartz mine, one needing capital for its development and with no charms for the ordinary gold-seeker. The gold is found in a friable and easily worked rock, enabling low-grade ores to be handled at a profit, and to-day fifteen hundred stamps are busy and the mines are highly profitable.

The placer miners, however, have no use for gold that rests in quartz veins and has to be obtained by the aid of costly stamping mills. The gold they seek is that on which nature has done the work of stamping, by breaking up the original veins into sands and gravels, with which the freed gold is mixed in condition to be obtained by a simple process of washing. The wandering miners thus prospected Alaska, following the long course of the Yukon and trying its tributary streams, many of them making a living, a few of them acquiring wealth, but none of their finds attracting the attention of the world, which scarcely knew that gold-seekers were at work in this remote and almost unknown region.

Thus it went on until 1897, when on July 16 a party of miners arrived in San Francisco from the upper Yukon with a large quantity of gold in nuggets and dust and a story to tell that deeply stirred that old land of gold. On the 17th another steamer put into Seattle with more miners and $800,000 in gold dust, nearly all of it the outcome of a winter's work on a small stream known as the Klondike, entering the Yukon about fifty miles above Forty-Mile Creek.

The discovery of this rich placer region was made in the autumn of 1896 by an Illinois man named George McCormick, who, in the intervals of salmon fishing, tried his hand at prospecting, and on Bonanzo Creek, a tributary of the Klondike, was surprised and overjoyed to find gold in a profusion never before dreamed of in the Alaskan region. The news of the find spread rapidly through Alaska and before winter set in the old diggings were largely deserted, a swarm of eager miners poured into the Klondike region, and the frozen earth was torn and rent in their eagerness to reach its yellow treasures.

The news of the discovery spread as far and fast as the telegraph could carry it. The richness of the find surpassed anything ever before found and the whole country was agog. The stories of wonderful fortunes made by miners were testified to by a display of nuggets and sacks of shining gold in stores and hotels, the find of one man being shown in a San Francisco shop window in the shape of one hundred and thirty thousand dollars worth of gold.

The old gold-fever broke out again as an epidemic. Such a stampede as took place had never before been seen. The stream of picturesque humanity that poured through Seattle and on to the golden north surpassed the palmy days of '49 when California opened its caves of Aladdin. Every steamer that could be made use of was booked to its full capacity, while many ardent gold-seekers were turned away. Every passenger and every pound of cargo that could be taken on these steamers was loaded and the hegira was almost instantly in full blast.

As it proved, the new find was in Canadian territory, a few miles east of the Alaskan boundary, but the flood of men that set in was mainly American. Many threw up good positions or mortgaged their homes for funds to join the mad migration, oblivious in most cases of the fact that they were setting out to encounter hardships and arctic extremes of temperature for which their home life had utterly unfitted them. Warnings were published that those who joined the pioneer flood faced starvation or death by freezing or hardship, but the tide was on and could not be turned, and before the autumn had far advanced thousands had landed at the mushroom settlements of Skagway and Dyea, laden with the effects they had brought with them and proposing to fight their way against nature's obstacles over the difficult mountain passes and along the little less difficult lakes and streams to the promised land of gold. A village of log houses and tents, known as Dawson, had sprung up at the mouth of the Klondike, and this was the mecca towards which the great pilgrimage set.

The struggle inland of the first comers was a frightful one. No roads or pack-trails existed over the rough and lofty passes of the coast range of mountains, and it was killing work to transport the many tons of equipments and provisions over the nearly impassable Chilkoot and White Passes. For those who came too late in the season it was quite impassable, the trails and rivers were stopped by snow and ice, and numbers had to endure a long and miserable winter in the primitive coast settlements or straggle back to civilization.

The terrors of that first year's battle with the unbroken passes are indescribable. Thousands of dead pack-horses marked the way. And the mountains once crossed and the waters reached new troubles arose. Boats had to be built for the long reach of navigation down the chain of lakes and the Yukon—many having brought the necessary boat timbers with them. Six hundred miles of waterways were to be traversed. On some of the short streams connecting the lakes there were dangerous rapids to be run, in which many lost their goods and some their lives. The early winter added ice to the difficulties of the way and the Yukon section of the trip was made by the later comers through miles of drift ice, grinding and ploughing its way to the peril of the boats, or water travel was checked by the final closing of the stream for the winter, leaving no resource but a long sledging journey over the snow.

Those who took the long voyage to the mouth of the Yukon and journeyed by steamer up that stream had their difficulties with ice and current, and it was not uncommon for them to be frozen in, leaving them the sole expedient of the dog sled, if they elected to proceed to the diggings without their supplies.

Dawson once reached, the trouble and hardship were by no means at an end. Having penetrated a total wilderness in an arctic climate, borne on by dreams of sudden fortune, the enthusiastic treasure-seekers found new difficulties awaiting them. There was no easy task of digging and panning, as in more favored climes. Winter had locked the golden treasures with its strongest fetters. The ground was everywhere frozen into the firmness of rock. In midsummer it thawed no more than three feet down, and eternal frost reigned below.

To reach the gold-bearing gravels the miners had to build fires on the frozen surface and keep these going for twenty-four hours. This would soften the soil to the depth of some six inches. This thrown out, new fires had to be kindled, and thus laboriously the miners burned their way down to the gold-bearing gravel, usually at a depth of fifteen feet. Then other fires were built at the bottom and tunnels made through the five feet or more of "pay-dirt," which was dug out and piled up to await the coming of flowing water in the spring, when the gold might be washed out in the rockers and sluices employed.

As may be seen, the buried treasures of these gravel beds were to be won in these pioneer years only by dint of exhausting labor and frightful hardship. They would never have been found at all had not the bars and shores of the streams yielded gold at the surface level. Yet the extraordinary richness of these gravels, from which as much as $50,000 might be obtained as the result of a winter's work, excited men's imaginations to the utmost, and the stream of gold-seekers continued year after year until Dawson grew to be a well-built and populous city and the yearly output of the Klondike mines amounted to more than $16,000,000.

The difficulty in reaching the mines grew less year by year. As early as 1898 a railway was begun across the White Pass. It now extends from Skagway more than a hundred miles inland, the lakes and streams being traversed by steamers, so that the purgatory of the early prospectors has been converted into the "broad and easy way" of the later sinners. The old method of burning into the frozen soil has also been improved on, steam being now used instead of fire and the pay-dirt reached much more rapidly and cheaply by its aid.

The Klondike region, though largely prospected and worked by Americans, is not in Alaska, Dawson lying sixty miles east of the border. The streams of Alaska itself, so far as they have yet been worked, are far less promising, and yet Alaska has a golden treasure house of its own that may yet prove as prolific as the Klondike itself.

This is at Nome, on the shores of Bering Sea, about twenty-five degrees of longitude nearly due west from Dawson, and a hundred and fifty miles north of the mouth of the Yukon. Here the sands of the sea itself and of its bordering shores have proven splendid gold bearers and have attracted a large population to that inhospitable region, in latitude sixty-five degrees north; here has grown up a city containing 25,000 inhabitants, and here may be seen the most northerly railroad in the world.

In 1898 a soldier, in digging a well on the beach at Nome, saw in the sands thrown up that alluring yellow glint which has led so many men to fortune and so many to death. The story of his find came to the ears of an old prospector from Idaho, who, too ill to go inland, was stranded in the military station of Nome. Spade and pan were at once put to work and in twenty days the fortunate invalid found himself worth $3000 in gold.

At Nome the gold was first found in the beach sands and even in the sands of the sea adjoining the beach, old Neptune being forced to yield part of the treasures he had taken to himself. Later, the bench of higher land stretching back from the beach and the sides of the down-flowing creeks were found to be gold-bearing, the bench gravels being from forty to eighty feet thick, with gold throughout. A heavy growth of moss covers this coastal plain, under which lie the frozen gravels, which are softened by the use of steam and thus forced to give up their previous freight. That is all we need say about the gold product of Alaska, further than to sum up that the territory yields about $10,000,000 per year, or with the Klondike about $25,000,000, these equalling nearly one-third the total production of the United States. Here is a fine showing for a region once deemed worthless.

Gold is an alluring subject, but Alaska has other sources of wealth which enormously exceed its golden sands in value. We have already spoken of the rich products of its fisheries and furs. The former include several species of salmon, which the Yukon yields in vast numbers; the latter embrace, in addition to the usual fur-bearing animals, the valuable fur-seal of the Aleutian Islands, a species found nowhere else. To these sources of wealth may be added the vast forests of valuable timber, especially of spruce, hemlock, red and yellow cedar, which are likely to become of great value in the growing extermination of the home forests of the United States.

Alaska also presents excellent opportunities in its coast districts for agriculture, most of the hardy vegetables and cereals here yielding good crops. But a more valuable outlook for the farmer appears to lie in the grazing opportunities of the land. In some localities along the south coast the grasses grow in splendid luxuriance, much of the grass being six feet high. On the higher elevations and in exposed places the grass is often too low for hay making but is admirable for grazing, the cattle that eat it growing very fat. Of these grass lands there are about 10,000 square miles, of which more than half can be utilized.

Stock raising, then, is likely to become a leading industry, and especially dairying, there being more meat than is needed by the sparse population. There are admirable dairy sites on the islands and mainland. The reindeer, recently introduced, are likely to prove invaluable to the natives, supplanting in great measure the dog for transportation purposes, and supplying also food and clothing. Reindeer milk makes excellent cheese, and in a few years there may be deer-meat for sale outside.

Such is the story of Alaska. It occupies much the same position on the west coast of America as Norway does on that of Europe, but has four times as wide a habitable area as Norway and a milder climate on its south coast lands. Therefore, as Norway sustains a population of 2,240,000, there is no special reason why Alaska may not yet possess a population of 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 and take rank as one of the important States of the American Union.


Up to the year 1898 the United States was confined to the continent of North America. In that year it made a great stride outward over the oceans, adding to its dominion the island of Porto Rico in the West India waters and the archipelagoes of the Philippine and Hawaiian Islands in the far Pacific. Porto Rico and the Philippines were added as a result of the war with Spain. As to how Hawaii was acquired it is our purpose here to tell.

Midway in the North Pacific lies this interesting group of islands, first made known to the world by Captain Cook, the famous English discoverer, in 1778, and annexed to the United States one hundred and twenty years later. Before telling the story of their acquisition a few words as to their prior history will he in place.

Called by Captain Cook the Sandwich Islands, after the English Earl of Sandwich, they afterwards became known as the Hawaiian Islands, from the native name of the largest island of the group, and are now collectively known as Hawaii in their new position as a Territory of the United States.

When Captain Cook visited this locality he found the islands inhabited by a friendly, kind-hearted people, disposed to receive their visitors in a hospitable spirit. But, in the usual way of sailors and discoverers dealing with the primitive races, quarrels soon developed, some of the natives were shot, one of them by Cook himself, and in the fight that followed the great sailor and discoverer lost his life.

At that time each of the islands was governed by a chief, or king if we may call him so, who had absolute authority over his people. Greatest among them was Kamehameha, heir to the throne of Hawaii, who was present when Captain Cook was killed. Bold and ambitious and invested by nature with political genius, this chief conceived the idea of making himself master of all the islands and subjecting their chiefs to his rule.

A shrewd and able man, he was quick to perceive that the strangers who soon began to visit the islands were far superior to the natives in arms and ability and he decided to use them for his ends. In a fight with some American fur traders a schooner, the "Fair American," was taken by the islanders, and two Americans, Isaac Davis and John Young, were made prisoners. With them the new chief obtained the cannon, muskets and ammunition of the "Fair American." Thus equipped, the Napoleon of Hawaii set out on his career of conquest.

Kindly treatment made the two Americans, Davis and Young, his faithful friends and subjects, and they proved his mainstay in the work of conquest. It was no easy matter, even with his cannon and muskets. The chiefs of the other islands resisted him fiercely, and it took many years, with all the stern will and unyielding perseverance of Kamehameha and the ability and courage of his two able lieutenants, to subdue them all. Davis and Young were amply rewarded, with honors and lands, for their services, and some of their descendants still dwell on the islands.

While this work of conquest was going on many vessels visited the islands, missionaries made their way thither, Christianity was introduced and idolatry abolished, and many of the arts of civilization found their way inward. Then settlers other than missionaries came, many of them from America, and a white population was added to the aboriginal. Sugar-cane grew in abundance on the islands and sugar-mills were introduced. Other industries were established. The great fertility of the islands attracted speculators, the lands rose in value, and great fortunes were made. Such is, briefly, the industrial history of these islands.



The political history is not without its interest. Five kings of the name of Kamehameha reigned in succession. Of these, Kamehameha III., under American advice, gave up his absolute rule, founded a constitutional government and distributed the lands among the people. After the Kamehamehas came King Lunalio, who ruled but one year, and Kalakaua, who ruled from 1874 to 1891 and showed such a disposition to return to absolutism that the people were in constant dread for their liberties and lands. It was only by a revolt of the people that they regained their rights, forcing him to grant them a new constitution and their former liberties and privileges.

The next and last monarch of Hawaii was a woman, Liliuokalani, the sister of Kalakaua. She was the wife of an Englishman, Mr. J.O. Dominis, and on a visit to London had been entertained by Queen Victoria. Her rearing and education had been under the influence of American missionaries, and the whites of the islands, who had been in constant fear of the late king, hailed her accession to the throne with joy, with the expectation that they would have in her a good friend. They soon found themselves disappointed.

The extravagance and ill rule of Kalakaua had left the country in a wretched state. It was deeply in debt and the much needed public improvements were at a standstill. The country had long been divided between two parties, the missionary and the anti-missionary, the former seeking to save the natives from vice and degradation, the latter encouraging such vicious practices as lotteries and opium sales for their personal benefit.

Under Kalakaua these ill weeds had gained full growth and the new queen soon showed a disposition to encourage them. Her whole nature seemed to change, her former friends were cast aside and new favorites adopted, and though she had a personal income of about $70,000, it was far from sufficing for her needs.

To add to her income the agents of the Louisiana Lottery were encouraged and the opium smugglers found little interference with their nefarious traffic, while the frequent changes of the queen's ministers kept the people in a state of doubt and uneasiness.

At what was called the long term of the legislature laws were passed favoring the lottery and the opium dealers. The session was protracted until the grinding season for the sugar-cane, when a number of the best members were obliged to return to their plantations, and in their absence the lottery and opium bills were rushed through.

Many of the Christian ladies of Honolulu now called on the queen and implored her to veto this pernicious legislation, which would turn their country into a den of gambling and infamy. She wept with them over the situation and the good ladies knelt and prayed that God would help their queen in the terrible ordeal before her. They left the palace feeling sure that the country was safe from the dread affliction—an hour later the queen signed both bills and they became laws.

The passage of these bills created intense indignation. All felt that it was a piece of treachery and fraud, those who gave the queen any credit for good intentions looking upon her as weak and vacillating and utterly under the influence of bad advisers.

As yet, however, no thought of revolution had arisen. It was imagined that the worst stage had been reached. But when the announcement was made the next day that the queen was about to declare a new constitution the most vivid dread and alarm were aroused. Feeling now secure of a revenue from the proceeds of the lottery and the opium trade, Queen Liliuokalani no longer hesitated to show her hand. The proposed new constitution was a scheme for a return to absolute monarchy, one under which every white man on the islands, unless married to a Hawaiian woman, would be deprived of the right to vote.

The act was a fatal one to her reign. It precipitated a revolution which quickly brought her queenship to an end. The steps which led to this result are well worth relating.

The ceremony of proroguing the legislature ended, the queen returned to the palace with the purpose of immediately proclaiming the new constitution. In the procession to the palace the native society called the "Hui Kalaiaina" marched in a double line, its president carrying a large package containing the constitution. A throng of Hawaiians surrounded the palace gates and filled the grounds near the front entrance to the building, the queen's guard being drawn up under arms.

In the throne room the native society which had escorted the queen ranged themselves in regular lines, their president, Alapai, having in his hand an address which he proposed to deliver. Most of the native members of the legislature were also present, some members of the diplomatic corps being with them.

While they waited, the cabinet was assembled in the blue room, to which they had been summoned by the queen. Here a striking scene took place. Liliuokalani placed before them a copy of the new constitution and bade them sign it, saying that she proposed to promulgate it at once. She met with an outspoken opposition.

"Your Majesty, we have not read that constitution," said Mr. Parker, Secretary of Foreign Affairs. "And before we read it we must advise you that this is a revolutionary act. It cannot be done."

An angry reply came from the queen, and an animated discussion followed, in which the cabinet officials said that a meeting had just been held with the foreign representatives and that if she persisted there was danger of an insurrection.

"It is your doing," she replied. "I would not have undertaken this step if you had not encouraged me to do so. You have led me to the brink of a precipice and are now leaving me to take the leap alone. Why not give the people this constitution? You need have no fear. I will bear the brunt of all the blame afterwards."

The cabinet stood firm, Mr. Peterson, the Attorney General, repeating:

"We have not read the constitution."

"How dare you say that," she exclaimed, "when you have had it in your possession for a month."

The dispute grew more violent as it went on. The cabinet declined to resign when asked by her to do so, whereupon she threatened that if they would not accede to her wishes she would go to the palace door and tell the mob outside that she wished to give them a new constitution but that her ministers had prevented her from doing so.

At this threat three of the ministers left the room and escaped from the building. They remembered the fate of certain representatives who fell into the hands of a Hawaiian mob in 1874. Mr. Parker alone had the courage to remain. He feared that if the queen were left alone she would sign the instrument herself, and proclaim it to the people, telling them that her cabinet refused to comply with her wishes and seeking to rouse against them the wrath of the unthinking mob, whose only idea of the situation was that the white men were opposing their queen.

The cabinet stood between two fires, that of the supporters of the queen on the one hand and that of the white people of Honolulu on the other. The report of the fleeing members raised the excitement of the latter to the boiling pitch. A Committee of Safety was at once organized, and held its first meeting with closed doors.

"Gentlemen," said a member of this committee, "we are brought face to face with this question; what shall we do?"

The discussion ended in a motion by the Hon. A.L. Thurston, to the effect that "preliminary steps be taken at once to form a provisional government, with a view to annexation to the United States of America."

Meanwhile a sub-committee had waited on the United States Minister, Mr. John L. Stevens, asking him to give them the support of the United States troops on board the "Boston."

"Gentlemen," he replied, "I have no authority to involve the United States Government in your revolution. I will request to have troops landed to protect American life and property, but for no other purpose."

Left to their own resources, the revolutionary party determined to go on with the enterprise, even if their own lives should be lost in the effort to prevent the tyranny of the queen. The Committee of Safety collected and stored arms in convenient places, finally taking all these arms to the barracks of the committee.

This brought about the first collision. It was shortly after noon on January 17, 1893, that three of the revolutionists, John Good, Edwin Benner and Edward Parris, with a man named Fritz, were taking some arms in a wagon to the barracks. A policeman, who had been watching the store from which the arms were taken, seized the bridle of the horse and cried:


"What shall I do?" asked Benner.

"Go on!" roared Good.

Benner made a cut at the policeman with his whip and tried to drive on. The man let go the bridle and blew his whistle, bringing two other policemen quickly to his aid. One tried to climb into the front of the wagon, but was knocked senseless by Benner, while the other, who attacked in the rear, was roughly handled by Parris and Fritz.

The wagon now drove on, but got entangled in a block of two street cars and a truck. Other policemen came running up and a fight ensued, one of the officers putting his hand into his pocket as if to draw a weapon.

"Look out, he is going to shoot," cried a voice from one of the cars.

Good instantly drew his pistol, and crying, "Benner, it's life or death; if we must, we must," he fired.

The policeman fell, with a ball in his shoulder. The wagon by this time had got loose from the block and was driven furiously away, reaching the barracks without further trouble.

That wounded policeman constituted the sole list of dead and wounded in the revolution. Men were rapidly gathering about the barracks, two companies of armed men soon marched up, and a proclamation was read to the following effect:

"The Hawaiian monarchical system of government is hereby abrogated.

"A provisional government for the control and management of public affairs and the protection of the public is hereby established, to exist until terms of union with the United States of America have been negotiated and agreed upon."

These were the essential clauses of the proclamation that overthrew the Hawaiian government, the armed insurgents now marching to the palace, where they found no one but a highly indignant woman, the queen, deserted by all and in a violent state of excitement. Her soldiers, who were in the police station, made no effort to help her, and the only thing needed to complete the work of the revolution was the capture of this station. This was done without a blow being struck and the revolution was complete. In this easy way a government more than a century old was overturned and a new one installed in its place.

But the end was not yet. The United States had still to be heard from. Minister Stevens and Captain Wiltse of the "Boston" had landed troops to protect the interests of American citizens and from this incident trouble arose. The revolution in Hawaii took place January 17, 1893, when President Harrison, then in office, had little more than six weeks to serve. Harrison favored annexation of the new ocean republic, a treaty was prepared and sent to the Senate, but before it could be acted upon the 4th of March arrived and a new man, with new views, came in to fill the Presidential chair.

President Cleveland's views were startlingly new. He believed that the success of the revolution was due to the act of Minister Stevens and Captain Wiltse in landing troops, that the queen had been illegally removed, and sent the Hon. Albert S. Willis to Honolulu to unseat President Dole of the new republic and restore Queen Liliuokalani to the throne.

This would undoubtedly have been done but for the dethroned queen herself, who showed a sanguinary spirit that put poor Mr. Willis, a man of kindly nature and humane sympathies, in an embarrassing situation. The President expected the queen, if restored, to show a spirit of forgiveness to the revolutionists and his agent was decidedly taken aback by her answers to his questions.

"Should you be restored to the throne," he asked, "would you grant full amnesty as to life and property to all those persons who have been or who are now in the provisional government?"

The queen's answer, slowly and hesitatingly given, was:

"There are certain laws of my government by which I shall abide. My decision would be, as the law directs, that such persons should be beheaded and their property confiscated."

Here was a mediæval decision with a vengeance. In spite of all that Willis could plead, the savagely inclined queen stuck to her ultimatum. The utmost she would yield was that these persons "must be exiled or otherwise punished, and their property confiscated."

The tidings of this ultimatum put President Cleveland in an awkward dilemma. The beheading idea was too much for him and the affair dragged on until the following December, when the ex-queen generously consented to let Dole and his friends keep their heads, on condition of leaving the country and losing their property. Finally, when told that she could not have the throne on any such conditions, she experienced a change of heart and agreed to grant full amnesty.

When news of what was in view reached Honolulu there was intense excitement. It was expected that marines would be landed from the warship "Philadelphia" and "Adams" to restore the queen and a determination to resist them arose. The capital was entrenched with sand-bag breastworks, the batteries were manned and armed, and men were stationed to fight. As for President Dole and his cabinet, they were in a quandary. It was finally decided to make only a show of opposition to the landing of the marines, but after they had restored the queen and retired, to capture her again and resume business as a republic.

Their alarm had no real foundation. There had never been an intention to land the marines. The President knew well that he had no authority to land marines for such a purpose, and in his message referred the whole matter to Congress—where it slept.

Yet the ex-queen and her supporters did not sleep. Finding that there was no hope of bringing the United States into the squabble, they organized a counter-revolution of their own, smuggled arms into the country, and in January, 1895, the new insurrection broke out. Great secrecy was maintained. The night of Sunday, January 5, was fixed for the outbreak. In the evening President Dole and his cabinet and many other officials of the republic would be at the service in the Central Union Church and it would be easy to blow up the whole government with a bomb.

Unluckily for the conspirators, their first capture was that of some whiskey, and inspired by this they began celebrating their victory in advance. Yelling and shooting on Sunday afternoon alarmed the authorities and suspicion of something wrong was aroused. An attempt to search a suspected house for arms led to a fight in which one man was killed and others wounded. News of the insurrection were taken to the church and whispered to the members of the National Guard and the government, who slipped quietly out. The pastor, oblivious to this circumstance, went on with his sermon, but uneasiness arose in the congregation, and when at last the clatter of cavalry and the roll of artillery were heard passing the church all order was at an end. The worshippers rushed into the street in a mass, the preacher following. Within ten minutes a state of peace had been changed into one of war.

The most intense excitement prevailed. No one knew anything of the numbers or location of the enemy. They were at length found, in large force, in the hollow basin or crater of Diamond Head, so strongly posted that they could not be dislodged from the side of the land. A tug was therefore sent, with a howitzer, to shell them from the sea, while a fierce land attack was kept up, and before night on Monday they were driven out of their stronghold and in full flight.

Another fight took place at Punchbowl Hill, in the rear of Honolulu, lasting an hour, though with little loss. Tuesday was spent in searching for the enemy and on Wednesday another sharp fight took place, they being again defeated. Before the end of the week the affair was at an end, and the ex-queen arrested as one of the conspirators. Her premises were found to be a regular magazine of arms and artillery.

Lilioukalani now found Hawaii too hot to hold her and sought a new home in the United States, and the republic went on peaceably until 1898, when, the war with Spain then being in progress and a new President in the chair, a new and successful effort for its annexation was made. The bill for its admission was signed by President McKinley on July 7, and the Hawaiian group became an outlying possession of the United States. It was made an American Territory in 1900.


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