The Project Gutenberg EBook of Hero Stories from American History, by Albert F. Blaisdell and Francis K. Ball This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: Hero Stories from American History For Elementary Schools Author: Albert F. Blaisdell Francis K. Ball Release Date: January 26, 2010 [EBook #31092] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HERO STORIES FROM AMERICAN HISTORY *** Produced by Ron Swanson
"'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"
This book is intended to be used as a supplementary historical reader for the sixth and seventh grades of our public schools, or for any other pupils from twelve to fifteen years of age. It is also designed for collateral reading in connection with the study of a formal text-book on American history.
The period here included is the first fifty years of our national life. No attempt has been made, however, to present a connected account, or to furnish a bird's-eye view, of this half century.
It is the universal testimony of experienced teachers that such materials as are pervaded with reality serve a useful purpose with young pupils. The reason is plain. Historical matter that is instinct with human life attracts and holds the attention of boys and girls, and whets their desire to know more of the real meaning of their country's history. For this reason the authors have selected rapid historical narratives, treating of notable and dramatic events, and have embellished them with more details than is feasible within the limits of most school-books. Free use has been made of personal incidents and anecdotes, which thrill us because of their human element, and smack of the picturesque life of our forefathers.
It has seemed advisable to arrange the subjects in chronological order. As the various chapters have appeared in proof, they have been put to a practical test in the sixth grade in several grammar schools. In a number of instances the pupils learned that, in the first reading, some of the stories were less difficult than others. From the nature of the subject-matter this is inevitable. For instance, it was found easier, and doubtless more interesting, to read "The Patriot Spy" and "A Daring Exploit" before beginning "The Hero of Vincennes" and "The Crisis." "Old Ironsides" will at first probably appeal to more young people than "The Final Victory."
An historical reader would truly be of little value if it could be read at a glance, like so many insipid storybooks, and then thrown aside.
Hence, it is suggested that teachers, after becoming familiar with the general scope of this book and gauging with some care the capabilities of their pupils, should, if they find it for the best interests of their classes, change the order of the chapters for the first reading. But in the second, or review reading, they should follow the chronological order.
The attention of teachers is called to the questions for review, the pronunciation of proper names, and the reference books and supplementary reading in American history mentioned after the chapters below. The index is made full for purposes of reference and review.
In the preparation of this book, old journals, original records and documents, and sundry other trustworthy sources have been diligently consulted and freely utilized.
We would acknowledge our indebtedness to Mrs. Janet Nettleton Ball, who has aided us materially at several stages of our work; and to Mr. Ralph Hartt Bowles, Instructor in English in The Phillips Exeter Academy, for valuable assistance in reading the manuscript and the proofs.
BOSTON, March, 1903.
THE HERO OF VINCENNES
A MIDWINTER CAMPAIGN
HOW PALMETTO LOGS MAY BE USED
THE PATRIOT SPY
OUR GREATEST PATRIOT
A MIDNIGHT SURPRISE
THE DEFEAT OF THE RED DRAGOONS
FROM TEAMSTER TO MAJOR GENERAL
THE FINAL VICTORY
A DARING EXPLOIT
"OLD HICKORY'S" CHRISTMAS
A HERO'S WELCOME
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW
PRONUNCIATION OF PROPER NAMES
BOOKS FOR REFERENCE AND READING IN THE STUDY OF AMERICAN HISTORY
Early in 1775 Daniel Boone, the famous hunter and Indian fighter, with thirty other backwoodsmen, set out from the Holston settlements to clear the first trail, or bridle path, to what is now Kentucky. In the spring of the same year, George Rogers Clark, although a young fellow of only twenty-three years, tramped through the wilderness alone. When he reached the frontier settlements, he at once became the leader of the little band of pioneers.
|A Minuteman of 1776|
One evening in the autumn of 1775, Clark and his companions were sitting round their camp fire in the wilderness. They had just drawn the lines for a fort, and were busy talking about it, when a messenger came with tidings of the bloodshed at Lexington, in far-away Massachusetts. With wild cheers these hunters listened to the story of the minutemen, and, in honor of the event, named their log fort "Lexington."
At the close of this eventful year, three hundred resolute men had gained a foothold in Kentucky. In the trackless wilderness, hemmed in by savage foes, these pioneers with their wives and their children began their struggle for a home. In one short year, this handful of men along the western border were drawn into the midst of the war of the Revolution. From now on, the East and the West had each its own work to do. While Washington and his "ragged Continentals" fought for our independence, "the rear guard of the Revolution," as the frontiersmen were called, were not less busy.
Under their brave leaders, Boone, Clark, and Harrod, in half a dozen little blockhouses and settlements, they were laying the foundations of a great commonwealth, while between them and the nearest eastern settlements were two hundred miles of wilderness. The struggle became so desperate in the fall of 1776 that Clark tramped back to Virginia, to ask the governor for help and to trade for powder.
Virginia was at this time straining every nerve to do her part in the fight against Great Britain, and could not spare men to defend her distant county of Kentucky; but, won by Clark's earnest appeal, the governor lent him, on his own personal security, five hundred pounds of powder. After many thrilling adventures and sharp fighting with the Indians, Clark got the powder down the Ohio River, and distributed it among the settlers. The war with their savage foes was now carried on with greater vigor than ever.
Now we must remember that the vast region north of the Ohio was at this time a part of Canada. In this wilderness of forests and prairies lived many tribes of warlike Indians. Here and there were clusters of French Creole villages, and forts occupied by British soldiers; for with the conquest of Canada these French settlements had passed to the English crown. When the war of the American Revolution broke out, the British government tried to unite all the tribes of Indians against its rebellious subjects in America. In this way the people were to be kept from going west to settle.
|Indians attacking a Stockaded Fort on the Frontier|
Colonel Henry Hamilton was the lieutenant governor of Canada, with headquarters at Detroit. It was his task to let loose the redskins that they might burn the cabins of the settlers on the border, and kill their women and children, or carry them into captivity. The British commander supplied the savages with rum, rifles, and powder; and he paid gold for the scalps which they brought him. The pioneers named Hamilton the "hair buyer."
For the next two years Kentucky well deserved the name of "the dark and bloody ground." It was one long, dismal story of desperate fighting, in which heroic women, with tender hearts but iron muscles, fought side by side with their husbands and their lovers.
Meanwhile, Clark was busy planning deeds never dreamed of by those round him. He saw that the Kentucky settlers were losing ground, and were doing little harm to their enemies. The French villages, guarded by British forts, were the headquarters for stirring up, arming, and guiding the savages. It seemed to Clark that the way to defend Kentucky was to carry the war across the Ohio, and to take these outposts from the British. He made up his mind that the whole region could be won for the United States by a bold and sudden march.
In 1777, he sent two hunters as spies through the Illinois country. They brought back word that the French took little interest in the war between England and her colonies; that they did not care for the British, and were much afraid of the pioneers. Clark was a keen and far-sighted soldier. He knew that it took all the wisdom and courage of his fellow settlers to defend their own homes. He must bring the main part of his force from Virginia.
Two weeks before Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga, he tramped through the woods for the third time, to lay his cause before Patrick Henry, who was then governor of Virginia. Henry was a fiery patriot, and he was deeply moved by the faith and the eloquence of the gallant young soldier.
|General George Rogers Clark|
Virginia was at this time nearly worn out by the struggle against King George. A few of the leading patriots, such as Jefferson and Madison, listened favorably to Clark's plan of conquest, and helped him as much as they could. At last the governor made Clark a colonel, and gave him power to raise three hundred and fifty men from the frontier counties west of the Blue Ridge. He also gave orders on the state officers at Fort Pitt for boats, supplies, and powder. All this did not mean much except to show good will and to give the legal right to relieve Kentucky. Everything now depended on Clark's own energy and influence.
During the winter he succeeded in raising one hundred and fifty riflemen. In the spring he took his little army, and, with a few settlers and their families, drifted down the Ohio in flatboats to the place where stands to-day the city of Louisville.
The young leader now weeded out of his army all who seemed to him unable to stand hardship and fatigue. Four companies of less than fifty men each, under four trusty captains, were chosen. All of these were familiar with frontier warfare.
On the 24th of June, the little fleet shot the Falls of the Ohio amid the darkness of a total eclipse of the sun. Clark planned to land at a deserted French fort opposite the mouth of the Tennessee River, and from there to march across the country against Kaskaskia, the nearest Illinois town. He did not dare to go up the Mississippi, the usual way of the fur traders, for fear of discovery.
At the landing place, the army was joined by a band of American hunters who had just come from the French settlements. These hunters said that the fort at Kaskaskia was in good order; and that the Creole militia not only were well drilled, but greatly outnumbered the invading force. They also said that the only chance of success was to surprise the town; and they offered to guide the frontier leader by the shortest route.
With these hunters as guides, Clark began his march of a hundred miles through the wilderness. The first fifty miles led through a tangled and pathless forest. On the prairies the marching was less difficult. Once the chief guide lost his course, and all were in dismay. Clark, fearing treachery, coolly told the man that he should shoot him in two hours if he did not find the trail. The guide was, however, loyal; and, marching by night and hiding by day, the party reached the river Kaskaskia, within three miles of the town that lay on the farther side.
|A Map showing the Line of Clark's March|
The chances were greatly against our young leader. Only the speed and the silence of his march gave him hope of success. Under the cover of darkness, and in silence, Clark ferried his men across the river, and spread his little army as if to surround the town.
Fortune favored him at every move. It was a hot July night; and through the open windows of the fort came the sound of music and dancing. The officers were giving a ball to the light-hearted Creoles. All the men of the village were there; even the sentinels had left their posts.
|Clark interrupts the Dance|
Leaving a few men at the entrance, Clark walked boldly into the great hall, and, leaning silently against the doorpost, watched the gay dancers as they whirled round in the light of the flaring torches. Suddenly an Indian lying on the floor spied the tall stranger, sprang to his feet, and gave a whoop. The dancing stopped. The young ladies screamed, and their partners rushed toward the doors.
"Go on with your dance," said Clark, "but remember that henceforth you dance under the American flag, and not under that of Great Britain."
The surprise was complete. Nobody had a chance to resist. The town and the fort were in the hands of the riflemen.
Clark now began to make friends with the Creoles. He formed them into companies, and drilled them every day. A priest known as Father Gibault, a man of ability and influence, became a devoted friend to the Americans. He persuaded the people at Cahokia and at other Creole villages, and even at Vincennes, about one hundred and forty miles away on the Wabash, to turn from the British and to raise the American flag. Thus, without the loss of a drop of blood, all the posts in the Wabash valley passed into the hands of the Americans, and the boundary of the rising republic was extended to the Mississippi.
Clark soon had another chance to show what kind of man he was. With less than two hundred riflemen and a few Creoles, he was hemmed in by tribes of faithless savages, with no hope of getting help or advice for months; but he acted as few other men in the country would have dared to act. He had just conquered a territory as large as almost any European kingdom. If he could hold it, it would become a part of the new nation. Could he do it?
From the Great Lakes to the Mississippi came the chiefs and the warriors to Cahokia to hear what the great chief of the "Long Knives" had to say for himself. The sullen and hideously painted warriors strutted to and fro in the village. At times there were enough of them to scalp every white man at one blow, if they had only dared. Clark knew exactly how to treat them.
One day when it seemed as if there would be trouble at any moment, the fearless commander did not even shift his lodging to the fort. To show his contempt of the peril, he held a grand dance, and "the ladies and gentlemen danced nearly the whole night," while the sullen warriors spent the time in secret council. Clark appeared not to care, but at the same time he had a large room near by filled with trusty riflemen. It was hard work, but the young Virginian did not give up. He won the friendship and the respect of the different tribes, and secured from them pledges of peace. It was little trouble to gain the good will of the Creoles.
Let me tell you of an incident which showed Clark's boldness in dealing with Indians. Years after the Illinois campaign, three hundred Shawnee warriors came in full war paint to Fort Washington, the present site of Cincinnati, to meet the great "Long Knife" chief in council. Clark had only seventy men in the stockade. The savages strode into the council room with a war belt and a peace belt. Full of fight and ugliness, they threw the belts on the table, and told the great pioneer leader to take his choice.
Fort Washington, a Stockaded Fort on the Ohio,
the Present Site of Cincinnati
Quick as a flash, Clark rose to his feet, swept both the belts to the floor with his cane, stamped upon them, and thrust the savages out of the hall, telling them to make peace at once, or he would drive them off the face of the earth. The Shawnees held a council which lasted all night, but in the morning they humbly agreed to bury the hatchet.
Great was the wrath of Hamilton, the "hair buyer general," when he heard what the young Virginian had done. He at once sent out runners to stir up the savages; and, in the first week of October, he set out in person from Detroit with five hundred British regulars, French, and Indians. He recaptured Vincennes without any trouble. Clark had been able to leave only a few of the men he had sent there, and some of them deserted the moment they caught sight of the redcoats.
If Hamilton had pushed on through the Illinois country, he could easily have crushed the little American force; but it was no easy thing to march one hundred and forty miles over snow-covered prairies, and so the British commander decided to wait until spring.
When Clark heard of the capture of Vincennes, he knew that he had not enough men to meet Hamilton in open fight. What was he to do? Fortune again came to his aid.
The last of January, he heard that Hamilton had sent most of his men back to Detroit; that the Indians had scattered among the villages; and that the British commander himself was now wintering at Vincennes with about a hundred men. Clark at once decided to do what Hamilton had failed to do. Having selected the best of his riflemen, together with a few Creoles, one hundred and seventy men in all, he set out on February 7 for Vincennes.
All went well for the first week. They marched rapidly. Their rifles supplied them with food. At night, as an old journal says, they "broiled their meat over the huge camp fires, and feasted like Indian war dancers." After a week the ice had broken up, and the thaw flooded everything. The branches of the Little Wabash now made one great river five miles wide, the water even in the shallow places being three feet deep.
It took three days of the hardest work to ferry the little force across the flooded plain. All day long the men waded in the icy waters, and at night they slept as well as they could on some muddy hillock that rose above the flood. By this time they had come so near Vincennes that they dared not fire a gun for fear of being discovered.
Marching at the head of his chilled and foot-sore army, Clark was the first to test every danger.
"Come on, boys!" he would shout, as he plunged into the flood.
Were the men short of food? "I am not hungry," he would say, "help yourself." Was some poor fellow chilled to the bone? "Take my blanket," said Clark, "I am glad to get rid of it."
In fact, as peril and suffering increased, the courage and the cheerfulness of the young leader seemed to grow stronger.
On February 17, the tired army heard Hamilton's sunrise gun on the fort at Vincennes, nine miles away, boom across the muddy flood.
Their food had now given out. The bravest began to lose heart, and wished to go back. In hastily made dugouts the men were ferried, in a driving rain, to the eastern bank of the Wabash; but they found no dry land for miles round. With Clark leading the way, the men waded for three miles with the water often up to their chins, and camped on a hillock for the night. The records tell us that a little drummer boy, whom some of the tallest men carried on their shoulders, made a deal of fun for the weary men by his pranks and jokes.
Death now stared them in the face. The canoes could find no place to ford. Even the riflemen huddled together in despair. Clark blacked his face with damp gunpowder, as the Indians did when ready to die, gave the war whoop, and leaped into the ice-cold river. With a wild shout the men followed. The whole column took up their line of march, singing a merry song. They halted six miles from Vincennes. The night was bitterly cold, and the half-frozen and half-starved men tried to sleep on a hillock.
The next morning the sun rose bright and beautiful. Clark made a thrilling speech and told his famished men that they would surely reach the fort before dark. One of the captains, however, was sent with twenty-five trusty riflemen to bring up the rear, with orders to shoot any man that tried to turn back.
The worst of all came when they crossed the Horseshoe Plain, which the floods had made a shallow lake four miles wide, with dense woods on the farther side. In the deep water the tall and the strong helped the short and the weak. The little dugouts picked up the poor fellows who were clinging to bushes and old logs, and ferried them to a spot of dry land. When they reached the farther shore, so many of the men were chilled that the strong ones had to seize those half-frozen, and run them up and down the bank until they were able to walk.
One of the dugouts captured an Indian canoe paddled by some squaws. It proved a rich prize, for in it were buffalo meat and some kettles. Broth was soon made and served to the weakest. The strong gave up their share. Then amid much joking and merry songs, the column marched in single file through a bit of timber. Not two miles away was Vincennes, the goal of all their hopes.
A Creole who was out shooting ducks was captured. From him it was learned that nobody suspected the coming of the Americans, and that two hundred Indians had just come into town.
With the hope that the Creoles would not dare to fight, and that the Indians would escape, Clark boldly sent the duck hunter back to town with the news of his arrival. He sent warning to the Creoles to remain in their houses, for he came only to fight the British.
So great was the terror of Clark's name that the French shut themselves up in their houses, while most of the Indians took to the woods. Nobody dared give a word of warning to the British.
Just after dark the riflemen marched into the streets of the village before the redcoats knew what was going on.
Crack! crack! sharply sounded half a dozen rifles outside the fort.
"That is Clark, and your time is short!" cried Captain Helm, who was Hamilton's prisoner at this time; "he will have this fort tumbling on your heads before to-morrow morning."
|Defending a Frontier Fort against the British and Indians|
During the night the Americans threw up an intrenchment within rifle shot of the fort, and at daybreak opened a hot fire into the portholes. The men begged their leader to let them storm the fort, but he dared not risk their lives. A party of Indians that had been pillaging the Kentucky settlements came marching into the village, and were caught red-handed with scalps hanging at their belts.
Clark was not slow to show his power.
"Think, men," he said sternly, "of the cries of the widows and the fatherless on our frontier. Do your duty."
Six of the savages were tomahawked before the fort, where the garrison could see them, and their dead bodies were thrown into the river.
The British defended their fort for a few days, but could not stand against the fire of the long rifles. It was sure death for a gunner to try to fire a cannon. Not a man dared show himself at a porthole, through which the rifle bullets were humming like mad hornets.
Hamilton the "hair buyer" gave up the defense as a bad job, and surrendered the fort, defended by cannon and occupied by regular troops, as he says in his journal, "to a set of uncivilized Virginia backwoodsmen armed with rifles."
Tap! tap! sounded the drums, as Clark gave the signal, and down came the British colors.
Thirteen cannon boomed the salute over the flooded plains of the Wabash, and a hundred frontier soldiers shouted themselves hoarse when the stars and stripes went up at Vincennes, never to come down again.
The British authority over this region was forever at an end. It only remained for Clark to defend what he had so gallantly won.
Of all the deeds done west of the Alleghanies during the war of the Revolution, Clark's campaign, in the region which seemed so remote and so strange to our forefathers, is the most remarkable. The vast region north of the Ohio River was wrested from the British crown. When peace came, a few years later, the boundary lines of the United States were the Great Lakes on the north, and on the west the Mississippi River.
A splendid monument overlooks the battlefield of Saratoga. Heroic bronze statues of Schuyler, Gates, and Morgan, three of the four great leaders in this battle, stand each in a niche on three faces of the obelisk. On the south side the space is empty. The man who led the patriots to victory forfeited his place on this monument. What a sermon in stone is the empty niche on that massive granite shaft! We need no chiseled words to tell us of the great name so gallantly won by Arnold the hero, and so wretchedly lost by Arnold the traitor.
Only a few months after Benedict Arnold had turned traitor, and was fighting against his native land, he was sent by Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander, to sack and plunder in Virginia. In one of these raids a captain of the colonial army was taken prisoner.
"What will your people do with me if they catch me?" Arnold is said to have asked his prisoner.
"They will cut off your leg that was shot at Quebec and Saratoga," said the plucky and witty officer, "and bury it with the honors of war, and hang the rest of your body on a gibbet."
This bold reply of the patriot soldier showed the hatred and the contempt in which Arnold was held by all true Americans; it also hints at an earlier fame which this strange and remarkable man had won in fighting the battles of his country.
Now that war with the mother country had begun, an attack upon Canada seemed to be an act of self-defense; for through the valley of the St. Lawrence the colonies to the south could be invaded. The "back door," as Canada was called, which was now open for such invasion, must be tightly shut. In fact it was believed that Sir Guy Carleton, the governor of Canada, was even now trying to get the Indians to sweep down the valley of the Hudson, to harry the New England frontier.
The Washington Elm in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, under which
Washington took Command
Meanwhile, under the old elm in Cambridge, Washington had taken command of the Continental army. Shortly afterwards he met Benedict Arnold for the first time. The great Virginian found the young officer a man after his own heart. Arnold was at this time captain of the best-drilled and best-equipped company that the patriot army could boast. He had already proved himself a man of energy and of rare personal bravery.
Before his meeting with Washington, Arnold had hurried spies into Canada to find out the enemy's strength; and he had also sent Indians with wampum, to make friends with the redskins along the St. Lawrence. Some years before, he had been to Canada to buy horses; and through his friends in Quebec and in Montreal he was now able to get a great deal of information, which he promptly sent to Congress.
Congress voted to send out an expedition. An army was to enter Canada by the way of the Kennebec and Chaudière rivers; there to unite forces with Montgomery, who had started from Ticonderoga; and then, if possible, to surprise Quebec.
The patriot army of some eighteen thousand men was at this time engaged in the siege of Boston. During the first week in September, orders came to draft men for Quebec. For the purpose of carrying the troops up the Kennebec River, a force of carpenters was sent ahead to build two hundred bateaux, or flat-bottomed boats. To Arnold, as colonel, was given the command of the expedition. For the sake of avoiding any ill feeling, the officers were allowed to draw lots. So eager were the troops to share in the possible glories of the campaign that several thousand at once volunteered.
About eleven hundred men were chosen, the very flower of the Continental army. More than one half of these came from New England; three hundred were riflemen from Pennsylvania and from Virginia, among whom were Daniel Morgan and his famous riflemen from the west bank of the Potomac.
On September 13, the little army left Cambridge and marched through Essex to Newburyport. The good people of this old seaport gave the troops an ovation, on their arrival Saturday night. They escorted them to the churches on Sunday, and on Tuesday morning bade them good-by, "with colors flying, drums and fifes playing, the hills all around being covered with pretty girls weeping for their departing swains."
On the following Thursday, with a fair wind, the troops reached the mouth of the Kennebec, one hundred and fifty miles away. Working their way up the river, they came to anchor at what is now the city of Gardiner. Near this place, the two hundred bateaux had been hastily built of green pine. The little army now advanced six miles up the river to Fort Western, opposite the present city of Augusta. Here they rested for three days, and made ready for the ascent of the Kennebec.
An old journal tells us that the people who lived near prepared a grand feast for the soldiers, with three bears roasted whole in frontier fashion, and an abundance of venison, smoked salmon, and huge pumpkin pies, all washed down with plenty of West India rum.
Among the guests at this frontier feast was a half-breed Indian girl named Jacataqua, who had fallen in love with a handsome young officer of the expedition. This officer was Aaron Burr, who afterwards became Vice President of the United States. When the young visitor found that the wives of two riflemen, James Warner and Sergeant Grier, were going to tramp to Canada with the troops, she, too, with some of her Indian friends, made up her mind to go with them. This trifling incident, as we shall see later, saved the lives of many brave men.
The season was now far advanced. There must be no delay, or the early Canadian winter would close in upon them. The little army was divided into four divisions. On September 25, Daniel Morgan and his riflemen led the advance, with orders to go with all speed to what was called the Twelve Mile carrying place. The second division, under the command of Colonel Greene, started the next day. Then came the third division, under Major Meigs, while Colonel Enos brought up the rear. There were fourteen companies, each provided with sixteen bateaux.
These boats were heavy and clumsy. When loaded, four men could hardly haul or push them through the shallow channels, or row them against the strong current of the river. It was hard and rough work. And those dreadful carrying places! Before they reached Lake Megantic, they dragged these boats, or what was left of them, round the rapids twenty-four times. At each carrying place, kegs of powder and of bullets, barrels of flour and of pork, iron kettles, and all manner of camp baggage had to be unpacked from the boats, carried round on the men's backs, and reloaded again. Sometimes the "carry" was only a matter of a few rods, and again it was two miles long.
A Map of Arnold's
Route to Quebec
From the day the army left Norridgewock, the last outpost of civilization, troubles came thick and fast. Water from the leaky boats spoiled the dried codfish and most of the flour. The salt beef was found unfit for use. There was now nothing left to eat but flour and pork. The all-day exposure in water, the chilling river fogs at night, and the sleeping in uniforms which were frozen stiff even in front of the camp fires, all began to thin the ranks of these sturdy backwoodsmen.
On October 12, Colonel Enos and the rear guard reached the Twelve Mile carrying place. The army that had set out from Fort Western with nearly twelve hundred men could now muster only nine hundred and fifty well men. And yet they were only beginning the most perilous stage of their journey. All about them stood the dark and silent wilderness, through which they were to make their way for sixteen miles, to reach the Dead River. In this dreaded route there were four carrying places. The last was three miles long, a third of which was a miry spruce and cedar swamp. It took five days of hardest toil to cut their way through the unbroken wilderness. Fortunately, the hunters shot four moose and caught plenty of salmon trout.
Now began the snail-like advance for eighty-six miles up the crooked course of the Dead River. Sometimes they cut their way through the thickets and the underbrush, but oftener they waded along the banks. Then came a heavy rainstorm, which grew into a hurricane during the night. The river overflowed its banks for a mile or more on either side. Many of the boats sank or were dashed to pieces. Barrels of pork and of flour were swept away. For the next ten days, these heroic men seemed to be pressing forward to a slow death by starvation. Each man's ration was reduced to half a pint of flour a day.
The old adage tells us that misfortunes never come singly. The rear guard under Colonel Enos, with its trail hewn out for it, had carried the bulk of the supplies; but, after losing most of the provisions in the freshet, he refused any more flour for his half-starved comrades at the front.
On October 25, the rear guard having caught up with Greene's division, which was in the worst plight of all, encamped at a place called Ledge Falls. At a council of war held in the midst of a driving snowstorm, Enos himself voted at first to go forward; but afterwards he decided to go back. So the rear guard, grudgingly giving up two barrels of flour, turned their backs, and, in spite of the jeers and the threats of their comrades, started home. Greene and his brave fellows showed no signs of faltering, but, as a diary reads, "took each man his duds to his back, bid them adieu, and marched on."
Just over the boundary between Maine and Canada there was a great swamp. In this bog two companies lost their way, and waded knee-deep in the mire for ten miles in endless circles. Reaching a little hillock after dark, they stood up all night long to keep from freezing. Each man was for himself in the struggle for life. The strong dared not halt to help the weak for fear they too should perish.
"Alas! alas!" writes one soldier, "these horrid spectacles! my heart sickens at the recollection."
That each man might fully realize how little food was left, a final division was made of the remaining provisions. Five pints of flour were given to each man! This must last him for a hundred miles through the pathless wilderness, a tramp of at least six days. In the ashes of the camp fire, each man baked his flour, Indian fashion, into five little cakes. Though the officers coaxed and threatened, some of the poor frantic fellows ate all their cakes at one meal.
On November 2, our little army, scattered for more than forty miles along the banks of the Chaudière River, was still dragging out its weary way. Tents, boats, and camp supplies were all gone, except here and there a tin camp kettle or an ax. A rifleman tells us that one day he roasted and chewed his shot pouch, and adds, "in a short time there was not a shot pouch to be seen among all those in my view." For four days this man had not eaten anything except a squirrel skin, which he had picked up some days before.
Several dogs that had faithfully followed their masters were now killed and roasted; and even their feet, skin, and entrails were eaten. Captain Dearborn tells us how downcast he was when he was forced to kill and eat his fine Newfoundland dog. He writes, "we even pounded up the dog's bones and made broth for another meal."
A dozen men, who had been left behind to die, caught a stray horse that had run away from some settlement. They shot it and ate heartily of the flesh while they rested, and at last reached the main army. For seven days these men had had nothing for food but roots and black birch bark.
The Indian girl Jacataqua, with a pet dog, still followed the troops. She proved herself of the greatest service as a guide. She knew, also, about roots and herbs, and these she prepared in Indian fashion for the sick and the injured. The men did not dare to kill her dog, for she threatened to leave them to their fate if they harmed the faithful animal.
At one place James Warner, whose wife Jemima was marching with the troops, lagged behind, and, before his wife knew it, sank exhausted. The faithful woman ran back alone, and stayed with him until he died. She buried him with leaves; and then, taking his musket and girding on his cartridge belt, she hurried breathless and panting for twenty miles, until she caught up with the troops. And as for Sergeant Grier's good wife, she tramped and starved her way with the men. No wonder that one writer, a boy of seventeen at the time, says, as he saw this plucky woman wading through the rivers, "My mind was humbled, yet astonished at the exertions of this good woman."
|Arnold's Men marching through the Flooded Wilderness|
Where was the bold commander all this time, the man who was to lead these sturdy riflemen to easy victory? After paddling thirteen miles across Lake Megantic, Arnold performed one of those brilliant and reckless deeds for which he was noted. Perhaps no other man in the American army would have dared to do what he did. The remnant of his famishing soldiers must be saved, and the time was short.
On October 28, he started down the swollen Chaudière River with only a few men and without a guide. Sartigan, the nearest French settlement where provisions could be bought, was nearly seventy miles away. The swift current carried the frail canoes down the first twenty miles in two hours. Here through the rapids, there over hidden ledges, now escaping the driftwood and the sharp-edged rocks, Arnold and his men wrestled with the angry river.
At one place they plunged over a fall, and every canoe was capsized. Six of the men found themselves swimming in a large rock-bound basin, while the angry flood thundered thirty feet over the ledges just beyond them. The men swam ashore, thankful to escape death.
The last twenty miles was tramped through the wilderness, but such was the energy of their leader that Sartigan was reached on the evening of the second day. Long before daybreak, cattle and bags of flour were ready, and, with a relief party of French Canadians on horseback, Arnold was on his way back to the starving army.
Four days later, from the famished men in the frozen wilderness was heard far and wide the joyful cry, "Provisions!" "Provisions!"
The cry was echoed from hill to hill, and along the snow-covered banks of the great river. The grim fight for life was over. They had won. How like a pack of famished wolves did they kill, cook, and devour the cattle!
The next day, two companies dashed through the icy waters of the Du Loup River, and, shortly afterwards, greeted with cheers the first house they had seen for thirty days. Six miles beyond, was Sartigan,—a half dozen log cabins and a few Indian wigwams.
A snowstorm now set in, but the joyful men hastily built huts of pine boughs, kindled huge camp fires, and waited for the stragglers. The severe Canadian winter was well begun. It kept on snowing heavily. As Quebec might be reënforced at any moment, every captain was ordered to get his men over the remaining fifty-four miles with all possible speed.
"Quebec!" "Quebec!" was in everybody's mouth.
Five days later, on November 9, the patriots reached Point Levi, a little French village opposite Quebec. The people looked on with astonishment as they straggled out of the woods, a worn-out army of perhaps six hundred men, with faces haggard, clothing in tatters, and many barefooted and bareheaded. Over eighty had died in the wilderness, and a hundred were on the sick list. So pitiful and so ludicrous was their appearance that one man wrote in his diary that they "resembled those animals of New Spain called orang-outangs," and "unlike the children of Israel, whose clothes waxed not old in the wilderness, theirs hardly held together."
With his usual bravado, Arnold planned to capture the "Gibraltar of America" at one stroke. He little knew that, a few days before, some treacherous Indians had warned the British commander of his approach.
On the night of November 13, Arnold ferried five hundred of his men across the St. Lawrence, and climbed to the Heights of Abraham, at the very place where Wolfe had climbed to victory sixteen years before. At daybreak the walls of the city were covered with soldiers and with citizens. Within half a mile of the walls, which fairly bristled with cannon, the ragged soldiers halted and began to cheer lustily. The redcoats shouted back their defiance. Arnold wrote a letter to the governor of Quebec, demanding the surrender of the city. The bearer of the letter, although under a flag of truce, was not even allowed to come near the walls.
After six days the little army slipped away one dark night, and tramped to a village some twenty miles to the west of Quebec. Here they hoped to join forces with Montgomery, who had already captured Montreal, and then come back to renew the siege.
Ten days later, on December 1, Arnold paraded his troops in front of the village church to greet Montgomery with his army. The united forces, still less than a thousand men, now trudged their way back to Quebec. On arriving there, Montgomery boldly demanded the surrender of the town.
Meanwhile, on November 19, Sir Guy Carleton had left Montreal, and, having made his way down the river, in the disguise of a farmer, slipped into Quebec. This was the salvation of Canada.
The British general was an able soldier. He at once took energetic steps for the defense of the city. At every available point he built blockhouses, barricades, and palisades; and mounted one hundred and fifty cannon. He took five hundred sailors from the war vessels to help man the guns, and thus increased the garrison to eighteen hundred fighting men.
For two weeks the patriot army fired their little three-pounders, and threw several hundred "fire pills," as the men called them, against the granite ramparts and into the town. Even the women laughed at them, for they did no more harm than so many popguns. The redcoats kept up the bloodless contest by raking with their cannon the patriots' feeble breastworks of ice and snow.
Montgomery spoke hopefully to his men, but in his heart was despair. How could he ever go home without taking Quebec? Washington and Congress expected it, and the people at home were waiting for it. When he bade his young wife good-by at their home on the Hudson, he said, "You shall never blush for your Montgomery." What was his duty now? Should he not make at least one desperate attempt? Did not Wolfe take equally desperate chances and win deathless renown? At last it was decided to wait for a dark night, in which to attack the Lower Town.
At midnight on the last day of 1775, came the snowstorm so long awaited. The word was given, and about half past three the columns marched to the assault. Every man pinned to his hat a piece of white paper, on which was written the motto of Morgan's far-famed riflemen, "Liberty or Death!"
Arnold and Morgan, with about six hundred men, were to make the attack on one side of the town, and Montgomery, with three hundred men, on the other side.
The storm had become furious. With their heads down and their guns under their coats, the men had enough to do to keep up with Arnold as he led the attack. Presently a musket ball shattered his leg and stretched him bleeding in the snow. Morgan at once took command, and, cheering on his men, carried the batteries; then, forcing his way into the streets of the Lower Town, he waited for the promised signal from Montgomery.
Meantime, the precious moments slipped by, while the young Montgomery was forcing his way through the darkness and the huge snowdrifts, along the shores of the St. Lawrence. When the head of his column crept cautiously round a point of the steep cliff, they came face to face with the redcoats standing beside their cannon with lighted matches.
"On, boys, Quebec is ours!" shouted Montgomery, as he sprang forward.
|The Midnight Attack on Quebec|
A storm of grape and canister swept the narrow pass, and the young general fell dead. In dismay and confusion, the column gave way. The command to retreat was hastily given and obeyed. Strange to say, so dazed were the British by the fierce attack that they, too, ran away, but soon rallied. The driving snow quickly covered the dead and the wounded in a funeral shroud.
The enemy were now free to close in upon Morgan and his riflemen, on the other side of the town. All night long, fierce hand to hand fighting went on in the narrow streets, amid the howling storm of driving snow; and the morning light broke slowly upon scenes of confusion and horror. Morgan and his men fought like heroes, but they were outnumbered, and were forced to surrender.
The rest of this sad story may be briefly told. Arnold was given the chief command. Although he was weakened from loss of blood, and helpless from his shattered leg, nothing could break his dauntless will. Expecting the enemy at any moment to attack the hospital, he had his pistols and his sword placed on his bed, that he might die fighting. From that bedside, he kept his army of seven hundred men sternly to its duty. In a month he was out of doors, hobbling about on crutches, and hopeful as ever of success.
Washington sent orders for Arnold to stand his ground, and as late as January 27 wrote him that "the glorious work must be accomplished this winter." With bulldog grip, Arnold obeyed orders, and kept up the hopeless siege. During the winter, more troops came to his help from across the lakes, but they only closed the gaps made by hardships and smallpox.
On the 14th of March, a flag of truce was again sent to the city, demanding its surrender.
"No flag will be received," said the officer of the day, "unless it comes to implore the mercy of the king."
A wooden horse was mounted on the walls near the famous old St. John's gate, with a bundle of hay before it. Upon the horse was tacked a placard, on which was written, "When this horse has eaten this bunch of hay, we will surrender."
Although they were short of food, and were forced to tear down the houses for firewood, the garrison was safe and quite comfortable behind the snow-covered ramparts.
The end of the coldest winter ever known in Canada save one came at last. The river was full of ice during the first week of May. A few days later, three men-of-war forced their way up the St. Lawrence through the floating ice, and relieved the besieged city. The salute of twenty-one guns fired by the fleet was joyful music to the people of Quebec. Amid the thundering of the guns from the citadel, the great bell of the Cathedral clanged the death knell to Arnold's hopes.
The "Gibraltar of America" still remained in the possession of England.
In 1775, in Virginia, the patriots forced the royal governor, Lord Dunmore, to take refuge on board a British man-of-war in Norfolk Harbor. In revenge, the town of Norfolk, the largest and the most important in the Old Dominion, was, on New Year's Day, 1776, shelled and destroyed. This bombardment, and scores of other less wanton acts of the men-of-war, alarmed every coastwise town from Maine to Georgia.
Early in the fall of 1775, the British government planned to strike a hard blow against the Southern colonies. North Carolina was to be the first to receive punishment. It was the first colony, as perhaps you know, to take decided action in declaring its independence from the mother country. To carry out the intent of the British, Sir Henry Clinton, with two thousand troops, sailed from Boston for the Cape Fear River.
The minutemen of the Old North State rallied from far and near, as they had done in Massachusetts after the battle of Lexington. Within ten days, there were ten thousand men ready to fight the redcoats. And so when Sir Henry arrived off the coast, he decided, like a prudent man, not to land; but cruised along the shore, waiting for the coming of war vessels from England.
This long-expected fleet was under the command of Sir Peter Parker. Baffled by head winds, and tossed about by storms, the ships were nearly three months on the voyage, and did not arrive at Cape Fear until the first of May. There they found Clinton.
Sir Peter and Sir Henry could not agree as to what action was best. Clinton, with a wholesome respect for the minutemen of the Old North State, wished to sail to the Chesapeake; while Lord Campbell, the royal governor of South Carolina, who was now an officer of the fleet, begged that the first hard blow should fall upon Charleston. He declared that, as soon as the city was captured, the loyalists would be strong enough to restore the king's power. Campbell, it seems, had his way at last, and it was decided to sail south, to capture Charleston.
Meanwhile, the people of South Carolina had received ample warning. So they were not surprised when, on the last day of May, a British fleet under a cloud of canvas was seen bearing up for Charleston. On the next day, Sir Peter Parker cast anchor off the bar, with upwards of fifty war ships and transports. Affairs looked serious for the people of this fair city; but they were of fighting stock, and, with the war thus brought to their doors, were not slow to show their mettle.
For weeks the patriots had been pushing the works of defense. Stores and warehouses were leveled to the ground, to give room for the fire of cannon and muskets from various lines of earthworks; seven hundred wagons belonging to loyalists were pressed into service, to help build redoubts; owners of houses gave the lead from their windows, to be cast into bullets; fire boats were made ready to burn the enemy's vessels, if they passed the forts. The militia came pouring in from the neighboring colonies until there were sixty-five hundred ready to defend the city.
It was believed that a fort built on the southern end of Sullivan's Island, within point-blank shot of the channel leading into Charleston Harbor, might help prevent the British fleet from sailing up to the city. At all events it would be worth trying. So, in the early spring of 1776, Colonel William Moultrie, a veteran of the Indian wars, was ordered to build a square fort large enough to hold a thousand men.
|Colonel William Moultrie|
The use of palmetto logs was a happy thought. Hundreds of negroes were set at work cutting down the trees and hauling them to the southern end of the island. The long straight logs were laid one upon another in two parallel rows sixteen feet apart, and were bound together with cross timbers dovetailed and bolted into the logs. The space between the two rows of logs was filled with sand. This made the walls of the fort.
The cannon were mounted upon platforms six feet high, which rested upon brick pillars. Upon these platforms the men could stand and fire through the openings. The rear of the fort and the eastern side were left unfinished, being merely built up seven feet with logs. Thirty-one cannon were mounted, but only twenty-five could at any one time be brought to bear upon the enemy.
On the day of the battle, there were about four hundred and fifty men in the fort, only thirty of whom knew anything about handling cannon. But most of the garrison were expert riflemen, and it was soon found that their skill in small arms helped them in sighting the artillery.
One day early in June, General Charles Lee, who had been sent down to take the chief command, went over to the island to visit the fort. As the old-time soldier, who had seen long service in the British army, looked over the rudely built affair, and saw that it was not even finished, he gravely shook his head.
"The ships will anchor off there," said he to Moultrie, pointing to the channel, "and will make your fort a mere slaughter pen."
The weak-kneed general, who afterwards sold himself to the British, went back and told Governor Rutledge that the only thing to do was to abandon the fort. The governor, however, was made of better stuff, and, besides, had the greatest faith in Colonel Moultrie. But he did ask his old friend if he thought he really could defend the cob-house fort, which Lee had laughed to scorn.
Moultrie was a man of few words, and replied simply, "I think I can."
"General Lee wishes you to give up the fort," added Rutledge, "but you are not to do it without an order from me, and I will sooner cut off my right hand than write one."
The idea of retreating seems never to have occurred to the brave commander.
"I was never uneasy," wrote Moultrie in after years, "because I never thought the enemy could force me to retire."
It was indeed fortunate that Colonel Moultrie was a stout-hearted man, for otherwise he might well have been discouraged. A few days before the battle, the master of a privateer, whose vessel was laid up in Charleston harbor, paid him a visit. As the two friends stood on the palmetto walls, looking at the fleet in the distance, the naval officer said, "Well, Colonel Moultrie, what do you think of it now?"
Moultrie replied, "We shall beat them."
"Sir," exclaimed his visitor, pointing to the distant men-of-war, "when those ships come to lay alongside of your fort, they will knock it down in less than thirty minutes."
"We will then fight behind the ruins," said the stubborn patriot, "and prevent their men from landing."
The British plan of attack, to judge from all military rules, should have been successful. First, the redcoat regulars were to land upon Long Island, lying to the north, and wade across the inlet which separates it from Sullivan's Island. Then, after the war ships had silenced the guns in the fort, the land troops were to storm the position, and thus leave the channel clear for the combined forces to sail up and capture the city.
If a great naval captain like Nelson or Farragut had been in command, probably the ships would not have waited a month, but would at once have made a bold dash past the fort, and straightway captured Charleston. Sir Peter, however, was slow, and felt sure of success. For over three weeks he delayed the attack, thus giving the patriots more time for completing their defenses.
Friday morning, June 28, was hot, but bright and beautiful. Early in the day, Colonel Moultrie rode to the northern end of the island to see Colonel Thompson. The latter had charge of a little fort manned by sharpshooters, and it was his duty to prevent Clinton's troops from getting across the inlet.
Suddenly the men-of-war begin to spread their topsails and raise their anchors. The tide is coming in. The wind is fair. One after another, the war ships get under way and come proudly up the harbor, under full sail. The all-important moment of Moultrie's life is at hand. He puts spurs to his horse and gallops back to the palmetto fort.
"Beat the long roll!" he shouts to his officers, Colonel Motte and Captain Marion.
The drums beat, and each man hurries to his chosen place beside the cannon. The supreme test for the little cob-house fort has come. The men shout, as a blue flag with a crescent, the colors of South Carolina, is flung to the breeze.
Just as a year before, the people of Boston crowded the roofs and the belfries, to watch the outcome of Bunker Hill; so now, the old men and the women and children of Charleston cluster on the wharves, the church towers, and the roofs, all that hot day, to watch the duel between the palmetto fort and the British fleet.
Sir Peter Parker has a powerful fleet. He is ready to do his work. Two of his ships carry fifty guns each, and four carry twenty-eight guns each. With a strong flood tide and a favorable southwest wind, the stately men-of-war sweep gracefully to their positions. Moultrie's fighting blood is up, and his dark eyes flash with delight. The men of South Carolina, eager to fight for their homes, train their cannon upon the war ships.
"Fire! fire!" shouts Moultrie, as the men-of-war come within point-blank shot. The low palmetto cob house begins to thunder with its heavy guns.
A bomb vessel casts anchor about a mile from the fort. Puff! bang! a thirteen-inch shell rises in the air with a fine curve and falls into the fort. It bursts and hurls up cart loads of sand, but hurts nobody. Four of the largest war ships are now within easy range. Down go the anchors, with spring ropes fastened to the cables, to keep the vessels broadside to the fort. The smaller men-of-war take their positions in a second line, in the rear. Fast and furious, more than one hundred and fifty cannon bang away at the little inclosure.
But, even from the first, things did not turn out as the British expected. After firing some fifty shells, which buried themselves in the loose sand and did not explode, the bomb vessel broke down.
About noon, the flagship signaled to three of the men-of-war, "Move down and take position southwest of the fort."
Once there, the platforms inside the fort could be raked from end to end. As good fortune would have it, two of these vessels, in attempting to carry out their orders, ran afoul of each other, and all three stuck fast on the shoal on which is now the famed Fort Sumter.
How goes the battle inside the fort? The men, stripped to the waist and with handkerchiefs bound round their heads, stand at the guns all that sweltering day, with the coolness and the courage of old soldiers. The supply of powder is scant. They take careful aim, fire slowly, and make almost every shot tell. The twenty-six-pound balls splinter the masts, and make sad havoc on the decks. Crash! crash! strike the enemy's cannon balls against the palmetto logs. The wood is soft and spongy, and the huge shot either bury themselves without making splinters, or else bound off like rubber balls.
Meanwhile, where was Sir Henry Clinton? For nearly three weeks he had been encamped with some two thousand men on the sand bar known as Long Island. The men had suffered fearfully from the heat, from lack of water, and from the mosquitoes.
During the bombardment of Fort Sullivan, Sir Henry marched his men down to the end of the sand island, but could not cross; for the water in the inlet proved to be seven feet deep even at low tide. Somebody had blundered about the ford. The redcoats, however, were paraded on the sandy shore while some armed boats made ready to cross the inlet. The grapeshot from two cannon, and the bullets of Colonel Thompson's riflemen, so raked the decks that the men could not stay at their posts. Memories of Bunker Hill, perhaps, made the British officers a trifle timid about crossing the inlet, and marching over the sandy shore, to attack intrenched sharpshooters. Thus it happened that Clinton and his men, through stupidity, were kept prisoners on the sand island, mere spectators of the thrilling scene. They had to content themselves with fighting mosquitoes, under the sweltering rays of a Southern sun.
|Defending the Palmetto Fort|
All this time, Sir Peter was doing his best to pound the fort down. The fort trembled and shook, but it stood. Moultrie and his men, with perfect coolness and with steady aim, made havoc of the war ships. Colonel Moultrie prepared grog by the pailful, which, with a negro as helper, he dipped out to the tired men at the guns.
"Take good aim, boys," he said, as he passed from gun to gun, "mind the big ships, and don't waste the powder."
The mainmast of the flagship Bristol was hit nine times, and the mizzenmast was struck by seven thirty-two-pound balls, and had to be cut away. In short, the flagship was pierced so many times that she would have sunk had not the wind been light and the water smooth. While the battle raged in all its fury, the carpenters worked like beavers to keep the vessel afloat.
At one time a cannon ball shot off one of the cables, and the ship swung round with the tide.
"Give it to her, boys!" shouts Moultrie, "now is your time!" and the cannon balls rake the decks from stem to stern.
The captain of the flagship was struck twice, Lord Campbell was hurt, and one hundred men were either killed or wounded. Once Sir Peter was the only man left on the quarter-deck, and he himself was twice wounded.
The other big ship, the Experiment, fared fully as hard as did the flagship. The captain lost his right arm, and nearly a hundred of his men were killed or wounded.
In fact, these two vessels were about to be left to their fate, when suddenly the fire of the fort slackened.
"Fire once in ten minutes," orders Colonel Moultrie, for the supply of powder is becoming dangerously small.
An aid from General Lee came running over to the fort. "When your powder is gone, spike your guns and retreat," wrote the general.
Moultrie was not that kind of man.
Between three and five o'clock in the afternoon, the fire of the fort almost stopped. The British thought the guns were silenced. Not a bit of it! Even then a fresh supply of five hundred pounds of powder had nearly reached the fort. It came from Governor Rutledge with a note, saying, "Honor and victory, my good sir, to you and your worthy men with you. Don't make too free with your cannon. Keep cool and do mischief."
How those men shouted when the powder came! Bang! bang! the cannon in the fort thunder again. The British admiral tries to batter down the fort by firing several broadsides at the same moment. At times it seemed as if it would tumble in a heap. Once the broadsides of four vessels struck the fort at one time; but the palmetto logs stood unharmed. A gunner by the name of McDaniel was mortally wounded by a cannon ball. As the dying soldier was being carried away, he cried out to his comrades in words that will never be forgotten, "Fight on, brave boys, and don't let liberty die with this day!"
In the hottest of the fight, the flagstaff is shot away. Down falls the blue banner upon the beach, outside the fort.
"The flag is down!" "The fort has surrendered!" cry the people of Charleston, with pale faces and tearful eyes.
|Sergeant Jasper saves the Flag|
Out from one of the cannon openings leaps Sergeant William Jasper. Walking the whole length of the fort, he tears away the flag from the staff. Returning with it, he fastens it to the rammer of a cannon, and plants it on the ramparts, amidst the rain of shot and shell.
With the setting of the sun, the roar of battle slackens. The victory is Moultrie's. Twilight and silence fall upon the smoking fort. Here and there lights glimmer in the city, as the joyful people of Charleston return to their homes. The stars look down upon the lapping waters of the bay, where ride at anchor the shadowy vessels of the British fleet. Towards midnight, when the tide begins to ebb, the battered war ships slip their cables and sail out into the darkness with their dead.
The next day, hundreds came from the city to rejoice with Moultrie and his sturdy fighters. Governor Rutledge came down with a party of ladies, and presented a silk banner to the fort. Calling for Sergeant Jasper, he took his own short sword from his side, buckled it on him, and thanked him in the name of his country. He also offered him a lieutenant's commission, but the young hero modestly refused the honor, saying, "I am not fitted for an officer; I am only a sergeant."
For several days, the crippled British fleet lay in the harbor, too much shattered to fight or to go to sea. In fact, it was the first week in August before the patriots of South Carolina saw the last war ship and the last transport put out to sea, and fade away in the distance. The hated redcoats were gone.
In the ten hours of active fighting, the British fleet fired seventeen tons of powder and nearly ten thousand shot and shell, but, in that little inclosure of green logs and sand, only one gun was silenced.
The defense of Fort Sullivan ranks as one of the few complete American victories of the Revolution. The moral effect of the victory was perhaps more far-reaching than the battle of Bunker Hill. Many of the Southern people who had been lukewarm now openly united their fortunes with the patriot cause.
Honors were showered upon the brave Colonel Moultrie. His services to his state and to his country continued through life. He died at a good old age, beloved by his fellow citizens.
It was plain that Washington was troubled. As he paced the piazza of the stately Murray mansion one fine autumn afternoon, he was saying half aloud to himself, "Shall we defend or shall we quit New York?"
At this time Washington's headquarters were on Manhattan Island, at the home of the Quaker merchant, Robert Murray; and here, in the first week of September, 1776, he had asked his officers to meet him in council.
Was it strange that Washington's heart was heavy? During the last week of August, the Continental army had been defeated in the battle of Long Island. A fourth of the army were on the sick list; a third were without tents. Winter was close at hand, and the men, mostly new recruits, were short of clothing, shoes, and blankets. Only fourteen thousand men were fit for duty, and they were scattered all the way from the Battery to Kingsbridge, a distance of a dozen miles or more.
The British army, numbering about twenty-five thousand, lay encamped along the shores of New York Bay and the East River. The soldiers were veterans, and they were led by veterans. A large fleet of war ships, lying at anchor, was ready to assist the land forces at a moment's notice. Scores of guard ships sailed to and fro, watching every movement of the patriot troops.
To give up the city to the British without battle seemed a great pity. The effect upon the patriot cause in all the colonies would be bad. Still, there was no help for it. What was the use of fighting against such odds? Why run the risk of almost certain defeat? Washington always looked beyond the present, and he did not intend now to be shut up on Manhattan Island, perhaps to lose his entire army; so, with the main body, he moved north to Harlem Heights. Here he was soon informed by scouts that the British were getting ready to move at once. Whither, nobody could tell. Such was the state of affairs that led Washington to call his chief officers to the Murray mansion, on that September afternoon.
Of course they talked over the situation long and calmly. After all, the main question was, What shall be done? Among other things, it was thought best to find the right sort of man, and send him in disguise into the British camp on Long Island, to find out just where the enemy were planning to attack.
"Upon this, gentlemen," said Washington, "depends at this time the fate of our army."
The commander in chief sent for Colonel Knowlton, the hero of the rail fence at Bunker Hill.
"I want you to find for me in your regiment or in some other," he said, "some young officer to go at once into the British camp, to discover what is going on. The man must have a quick eye, a cool head, and nerves of steel. I wish him to make notes of the position of the enemy, draw plans of the forts, and listen to the talk of the officers. Can you find such a man for me this very afternoon?"
"I will do my best, General Washington," said the colonel, as he took leave to go to his regiment.
On arriving at his quarters that afternoon, Knowlton called together a number of officers. He briefly told them what Washington wanted, and asked for volunteers. There was a long pause, amid deep surprise. These soldiers were willing to serve their country; but to play the spy, the hated spy, was too much even for Washington to ask.
One after another of the officers, as Knowlton called them by name, declined. His task seemed hopeless. At last, he asked a grizzled Frenchman, who had fought in many battles and was noted for his rash bravery.
"No, no! Colonel Knowlton," he said, "I am ready to fight the redcoats at any place and at any time; but, sir, I am not willing to play the spy, and be hanged like a dog if I am caught."
Just as Knowlton gave up hope of finding a man willing to go on the perilous mission, there came to him the painfully thrilling but cheering words, "I will undertake it." It was the voice of Captain Nathan Hale. He had just entered Knowlton's tent. His face was still pale from a severe sickness. Every man was astonished. The whole company knew the brilliant young officer, and they loved him. Now they all tried to dissuade him. They spoke of his fair prospects, and of the fond hopes of his parents and his friends. It was all in vain. They could not turn him from his purpose.
"I wish to be useful," he said, "and every kind of service necessary for the public good becomes honorable by being necessary. If my country needs a peculiar service, its claims upon me are imperious."
These patriotic words of a man willing to give up his life, if necessary, for the good of his country silenced his brother officers.
|Hale receiving his Orders from Washington|
"Good-by, Nathan!" "Don't you let the redcoats catch you!" "Good luck to you!" "We never expect to see you again!" cried his nearest friends in camp, as, in company with Colonel Knowlton, the young captain rode out that same afternoon to receive his orders from Washington himself.
Nathan Hale was born, as were his eight brothers and his three sisters, in an old-fashioned, two-storied house, in a little country village of Connecticut. His father, a man of integrity, was a stanch patriot. Instead of allowing his family to use the wool raised on his farm, he saved it to make blankets for the Continental army. The mother of this large family was a woman of high moral and domestic worth, devoted to her children, for whom she sought the highest good. It was a quiet, strict household, Puritan in its faith and its manners, where the Bible ruled, where family prayers never failed, nor was grace ever omitted at meals. On a Saturday night, no work was done after sundown.
Young Nathan was a bright, active American boy. He liked his gun and his fishing pole. He was fond of running, leaping, wrestling, and playing ball. One of his pupils said that Hale would put his hand upon a fence as high as his head, and clear it easily at a bound. He liked books, and read much out of school. Like two of his brothers, he was to be educated for the ministry. When only sixteen, he entered Yale College, and was graduated two years before the battle of Bunker Hill. Early in the fall of 1773, the young graduate began to teach school, and was soon afterwards made master of a select school in New London, in his native state.
At this time young Hale was about six feet tall, and well built. He had a broad chest, full face, light blue eyes, fair complexion, and light brown hair. He had a large mole on his neck, just where the knot of his cravat came. At college his friends used to joke him about it, declaring that he was surely born to be hanged.
Such was Nathan Hale when the news of the bloodshed at Lexington reached New London. A rousing meeting was held that evening. The young schoolmaster was one of the speakers.
"Let us march at once," he said, "and never lay down our arms until we obtain our independence."
The next morning, Hale called his pupils together, "gave them earnest counsel, prayed with them, and shaking each by the hand," took his leave, and during the same forenoon marched with his company for Cambridge.
The young officer from Connecticut took an active part in the siege of Boston, and soon became captain of his company. Hale's diary is still preserved, and after all these years it is full of interest. It seems that he took charge of his men's clothing, rations, and money. Much of his time he was on picket duty, and took part in many lively skirmishes with the redcoats. Besides studying military tactics, he found time to make up wrestling matches, to play football and checkers, and, on Sundays, to hold religious meetings in barns.
Within a few hours after bidding good-by to General Washington, Captain Hale, taking with him one of his own trusty soldiers, left the camp at Harlem, intending at the first opportunity to cross Long Island Sound. There were so many British guard ships on the watch that he and his companion found no safe place to cross until they had reached Norwalk, fifty miles up the Sound on the Connecticut shore. Here a small sloop was to land Hale on the other side.
Stripping off his uniform, the young captain put on a plain brown suit of citizen's clothes, and a broad-brimmed hat. Thus attired in the dress of a schoolmaster, he was landed across the Sound, and shortly afterwards reached the nearest British camp.
The redcoats received the pretended schoolmaster cordially. A captain of the dragoons spoke of him long afterwards as a "jolly good fellow." Hale pretended that he was tired of the "rebel cause," and that he was in search of a place to teach school.
It would be interesting to know just what the "schoolmaster" did in the next two weeks. Think of the poor fellow's eagerness to make the most of his time, drawing plans of the forts, and going rapidly from one point to another to watch the marching of troops, patrols, and guards. Think of his sleepless nights, his fearful risk, the ever-present dread of being recognized by some Tory. All this we know nothing about, but his brave and tender heart must sometimes have been sorely tried.
From the midst of all these dangers Hale, unharmed, began his return trip to the American lines. He had threaded his way through the woods, and round all the British camps on Long Island, until he reached in safety the point where he had first landed. Here he had planned for a boat to meet him early the next morning, to take him over to the mainland.
Many a patriotic American boy has thought what he should have done if he could have exchanged places with Nathan Hale on this evening. Near by, at a place then called and still called "The Cedars," a woman by the name of Chichester, and nicknamed "Mother Chick," kept a tavern, which was the favorite resort of all the Tories in that region. Hale was sure that nobody would know him in his strange dress, and so he ventured into the tavern. A number of people were in the barroom. A few minutes afterwards, a man whose face seemed familiar to Hale suddenly left the room, and was not seen again.
The pretended schoolmaster spent the night at the tavern.
Early the next morning, the landlady rushed into the barroom, crying out to her guests, "Look out, boys! there is a strange boat close in shore!"
The Tories scampered as if the house were on fire.
"That surely is the very boat I'm looking for," thought Hale on leaving the tavern, and hastened towards the beach, where the boat had already landed.
A moment more, and the young captain was amazed at the sight of six British marines, standing erect in the boat, with their muskets aimed at him. He turned to run, when a loud voice cried out, "Surrender or die!" He was within close range of their guns. Escape was not possible. The poor fellow gave himself up. He was taken on board the British guard ship Halifax, which lay at anchor close by, hidden from sight by a point of land.
Some have declared that the man who so suddenly left the tavern was a Tory cousin to Hale, and saw at once through the patriot's disguise; that, being quite a rascal, he hurried away to get word to the British camp. There seems to be no good reason, however, to believe that the fellow was a kinsman.
However this may be, the British captured Captain Hale in disguise. They stripped him and searched him, and found his drawings and his notes. These were written in Latin, and had been tucked away between the soles of his shoes.
"I am sorry that so fine a fellow has fallen into my hands," said the captain of the guard ship, "but you are my prisoner, and I think a spy. So to New York you must go!"
|The Patriot Spy before the British General|
General Howe's headquarters were at this time in the elegant Beekman mansion, situated near what is now the corner of Fifty-First Street and First Avenue. Calm and fearless, the captured spy stood before the British commander. He bravely owned that he was an American officer, and said that he was sorry he had not been able to serve his country better. No time was to be wasted in calling a court-martial. Without trial of any kind, Captain Hale was condemned to die the death of a spy. The verdict was that he should be hanged by the neck, "to-morrow morning at daybreak."
That night, which was Saturday, September 21, the condemned man was kept under a strong guard, in the greenhouse near the Beekman mansion. He had been given over to the care of the brutal Cunningham, the infamous British provost marshal, with orders to carry out the sentence before sunrise the next morning.
"To-morrow morning at daybreak."
How cruelly brief! Nathan Hale, the patriot spy, was left to himself for the night.
When morning came, Cunningham found his prisoner ready. While preparations were being made, a young officer, moved in spite of himself, allowed Hale to sit in his tent long enough to write brief letters to his parents and his friends. The letters were passed to Cunningham to be sent. He read them, and as he saw the noble spirit which breathed in every line, the wretch began to curse, and tore the letters into bits before the face of his victim. He said that the rebels should never know they had a man who could die with such firmness.
It was just before sunrise on a lovely Sabbath morning that Nathan Hale was led out to death. The gallows was the limb of an apple tree. Early as it was, a number of men and women had come to witness the execution.
|Statue of Nathan Hale, standing in City Hall Park in New York City|
"Give us your dying speech, you young rebel!" shouted the brutal Cunningham.
The young patriot, standing upon the fatal ladder, lifted his eyes toward heaven, and said, in a calm, clear voice, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
These were his last words. The women sobbed, and some of the men began to show signs of sympathy.
"Swing the rebel off!" cried Cunningham, in a voice hoarse with anger. The order was obeyed.
Half an hour later, the body of the patriot spy was buried, probably beneath the apple tree, but the grave was not marked, and the exact spot is now unknown. A British officer was sent, under a flag of truce, to tell Washington of the fate of his gallant young captain.
Thus died in the bloom of life, Captain Nathan Hale, the early martyr in the cause of our freedom. Gifted, educated, ambitious, he laid aside every thought of himself, and entered upon a service of the greatest risk to life and to honor, because Washington deemed it important to the sacred cause to which they had both given their best efforts.
"What was to have been your reward in case you succeeded?" asked Major Tallmadge, Hale's classmate, of the British spy, Major André, as his prisoner was being rowed across the Hudson River to be tried by court-martial.
"Military glory was all I sought for," replied André; "the thanks of my general and the approbation of my king would have been a rich reward."
Hale did not expect, nor did he care, to be a hero. He had no thought of reward or of promotion. He sacrificed his life from a pure sense of what he thought to be his duty.
If American boys and girls were asked to name the one great man in their country's history whom they would like to have seen and talked with, nine out of every ten would probably say, "Washington." Many an old man of our day has asked his grandfather or his great-grandfather how Washington looked. Indeed, so much has been said and written of the "Father of his Country" that we are apt to think of him as something more than human.
Washington was truly a remarkable man, from whatever point of view we choose to study his life. He left, as a priceless legacy to his fellow citizens, an example of what a man with a pure and noble character can do for himself and for his country. Duty performed with faithfulness was the keynote to every word and every act of his life.
Still, we must not overlook the fact that Washington was, after all, quite human. Like all the rest of us, he had his faults, his trials, and his failures. Knowing this, we are only drawn nearer to him, and find ourselves possessed of a more abiding admiration for the life he lived.
Washington was tall, and straight as an arrow. His favorite nephew, Lawrence Lewis, once asked him about his height. He replied, "In my best days, Lawrence, I stood six feet and two inches, in ordinary shoes."
During his whole life, Washington was rather spare than fleshy. Most of his portraits, it is said, give to his person a fullness that it did not have. He once said that the best weight of his best days never exceeded two hundred and twenty pounds. His chest was broad but not well rounded. His arms and his legs were long, large, and sinewy. His feet and his hands were especially large. Lafayette, who aided us in the Revolution, once said to a friend, "I never saw so large a hand on any human being, as the general's."
Washington's eyes were of a light, grayish blue, and were so deep sunken that they gave him an unusually serious expression. On being asked why he painted these eyes of a deeper blue than life, the artist said, "In a hundred years they will have faded to the right color." This painting, by Stuart, of the bust of Washington, is said to be wonderfully true to life.
Many stories are told of the mighty power of Washington's right arm. It is said that he once threw a stone from the bed of the stream to the top of the Natural Bridge, in Virginia. Again, we are told that once upon a time he rounded a piece of slate to the size of a silver dollar, and threw it across the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg, the slate falling at least thirty feet on the other side. Many strong men have since tried the same feat, but have never cleared the water.
Peale, who was called the soldier artist, was once visiting Washington at Mount Vernon. One day, he tells us, some athletic young men were pitching the iron bar in the presence of their host. Suddenly, without taking off his coat, Washington grasped the bar and hurled it, with little effort, much farther than any of them had done. "We were indeed amazed," said one of the young men, "as we stood round, all stripped to the buff, and having thought ourselves very clever fellows, while the colonel, on retiring, pleasantly said, 'When you beat my pitch, young gentlemen, I'll try again.'"
At another time, Washington witnessed a wrestling match. The champion of the day challenged him, in sport, to wrestle. Washington did not stop to take off his coat, but grasped the "strong man of Virginia." It was all over in a moment, for, said the wrestler, "in Washington's lionlike grasp, I became powerless, and was hurled to the ground with a force that seemed to jar the very marrow in my bones."
In the days of the Revolution, some of the riflemen and the backwoodsmen were men of gigantic strength, but it was generally believed, by good judges, that their commander in chief was the strongest man in the army.
During all his life, Washington was fond of dancing. He learned in boyhood, and danced at "balls and routs" until he was sixty-four. To attend a dance, he often rode to Alexandria, ten miles distant from Mount Vernon. The year he died he was forced, on account of his failing health, to give up this recreation. "Alas!" he wrote, "my dancing days are no more."
Many and merry were the dances at the army headquarters during the long winter evenings. General Greene once wrote to a friend, "We had a little dance and His Excellency and Mrs. Greene danced upwards of three hours, without once sitting down." Another winter, although they had not a ton of hay for the horses, as Greene wrote, and the provisions had about given out, and for two weeks there was not cash enough in camp to forward the public dispatches, Washington subscribed to a series of dancing parties.
Amid all the hardships of campaign life, Washington was ever the same dignified and self-contained gentleman. At one time, the headquarters were in an old log house, in which there was only one bed. He alone occupied this, while the fourteen members of his staff slept on the floor in the same room. Food, except mush and milk, was scarce. At this homely but wholesome fare, the commander in chief presided with his usual dignity.
For a man so large and so strong, Washington ate sparingly and of the simplest food. We are told that he "breakfasted at seven o'clock on three small Indian hoecakes, and as many dishes of tea." Custis, his adopted son, once said that the general ate for breakfast "Indian cakes, honey, and tea," and that "he was excessively fond of fish." In fact, salt codfish was at Mount Vernon the regular Sunday dinner. Even at the state banquets, the President generally dined on a single dish, and that of a very simple kind. When asked to eat some rich food, his courteous refusal was, "That is too good for me." People at a distance, hearing of the great man's liking for honey, took pride in sending him great quantities of it. During fast days, he religiously went without food the entire day.
Washington was fond of rich and costly clothes. In truth, he was in early life a good deal of a dandy. His clothes were made in London; and from his long letters to his tailor we know that he was fussy about their quality and their fit. Even while away from home fighting Indians and making surveys, he did not neglect to write to London for "Silver Lace for a Hatt," "Ruffled Shirts;" "Waistcoat of superfine scarlet Cloth and gold Lace," "Marble colored Silk Hose," "a fashionable gold lace Hat," "a superfine blue Broadcloth Coat with silver Trimmings," and many other costly and highly colored articles of apparel worn by the rich young men of that period. As he grew older, he wore more subdued clothing, and in old age reminded his nephew that "fine Cloathes do not make fine Men more than fine Feathers make fine Birds."
You have noticed, of course, the wrong spelling of certain words quoted from Washington's letters and journals. These words are spelled as he wrote them. The truth is, the "Father of his Country" was all his life a poor speller. He was always sensitive over what he called his "defective education." His more formal letters and his state papers were in many instances put into shape by his aids or his secretaries, or by others associated with him in official life.
|Washington before Trenton|
If Washington had an amiable weakness, it was for horses. From early boyhood, he was a skillful and daring rider. He rode on horseback, year in and year out, until shortly before his death. Many were the stories told by the "ragged Continentals" of the superb appearance of their commander in chief at the head of the army or in battle. In speaking of the battle of Monmouth, Lafayette said, "Amid the roar and confusion of that conflict I took time to admire our beloved chief, mounted on a splendid charger, as he rode along the ranks amid the shouts of the soldiers. I thought then, as now," continued he, "that never had I beheld so superb a man." Jefferson summed it all up in one brief sentence: "Washington was the best horseman of his age, and the most graceful figure that could be seen on horseback."
During all his life, Washington was thrifty, and very methodical in business. He grew so wealthy that when he died his estate was valued at half a million dollars. This large fortune for those days did not include his wife's estate, or the Mount Vernon property, which he inherited from his brother. He was the richest American of his time.
His management of the Mount Vernon estate would make of itself an interesting and instructive book. Of the eight thousand acres, nearly one half was under cultivation during the last part of its owner's life. We must not forget that at this time few tools and very little machinery were used in farming. At Mount Vernon, the negroes and the hired laborers numbered more than five hundred. The owner's orders were, "Buy nothing you can make within yourselves." The Mount Vernon gristmill not only ground all the flour and the meal for the help, but it also turned out a brand of flour which sold at a fancy price. The coopers of the place made the flour barrels, and Washington's own sloop carried the flour to market. A dozen kinds of cloth, from woolen and linen to bedticking and toweling, were woven on the premises.
|Mount Vernon, the Home of Washington|
In 1793, although he had one hundred and one cows on his farms, Washington writes that he was obliged to buy butter for the use of his family. Another time, he says that one hundred and fifteen hogsheads of "sweetly scented and neatly managed Tobacco" were raised, and that in a single year he sold eighty-five thousand herring, taken from the Potomac.
For his services in the French and Indian Wars, Washington received as a bounty fifteen thousand acres of Western lands. By buying the claims of his fellow officers who needed money, he secured nearly as much more. After the Revolution, Washington and General Clinton bought six thousand acres "amazingly cheap," in the Mohawk valley. No wonder Washington was spoken of as "perhaps the greatest landholder in America."
Like many other Southern proprietors, Washington had no end of bother with his slaves. He bought and sold negroes as he did his cattle and his horses, but, as he said, "except on the richest of Soils they only add to the Expense." In 1791, the slaves on the Mount Vernon estate alone numbered three hundred. In this same year, the owner wrote one day in his diary that he would never buy another slave; but the next night his cook ran away, and not being able to hire one, "white or black," he had to buy one. "Something must be done," he said, "or I shall be ruined. It would be for my Interest to set them free, rather than give them Victuals and Clooths."
Washington was too kind-hearted ever to flog his slaves, and yet his kindness was often abused. Fat and lazy, they made believe to be sick, or they ran away, and they played all kinds of pranks. In his diary, we read the tale of woe. We are told that his slaves would steal his sheep and his potatoes; would burn their tools; and wasted six thousand twelvepenny nails in building a corn-house.
Like other rich Virginians of his time, Washington kept open house. He once said that his home had become "a well resorted tavern." Indeed it was, for guests of all sorts and conditions were dined and wined to their hearts' content. According to the diary, it seemed to matter little whether it was a real nobleman, or a tramp "who called himself a French Nobleman," a sick or a wounded soldier, or "a Farmer who came to see the new drill Plow," all "were desired to tarry," to help eat the hot roasts and drink the choice wines.
There seems to have been almost no end to the sums of money, both large and small, which Washington gave away. Through the pages of his ledgers, we find hundreds of items of cash paid in charity. Here are a few entries which are typical of the whole: "10 Shillings for a wounded Soldier"; "gave a poor Man $2.00"; "two deserving French Women, $25"; "a poor blind Man, $1.50"; "a Lady in Distress, $50"; "the poor in Alexandria, $100"; "Sufferers by Fire, $300"; "School in Kentucky, $100." His lavish hospitality and his unceasing charity were a constant drain on his income. Had he not been so thorough in business, he surely would have been brought to financial ruin.
|General Washington and Staff riding through a Country Village|
After the war of the Revolution was over, Congress having failed to pay certain prominent officers of the army, an outbreak was threatened. A meeting was held at Newburgh, New York. Washington was there. Everybody present knew that he had served without pay and had advanced large sums from his private fortune, to pay the army expenses. There was a deathlike stillness when the commander in chief rose to read his address. His eyesight had become so poor that he was now using glasses. He had never worn these in public, but, finding his sight dim, he stopped reading, took his spectacles from his pocket, and put them on, saying quietly, "You will permit me to put on my spectacles. I have grown gray in the service of my country, and now find myself growing blind." It was not merely what the beloved general said, but the way he spoke the few, simple words. The pathos of this act, and the solemn address of this majestic man touched every heart. No wonder that some of the veterans were moved to tears.
One day a schoolboy stood on the stone steps before the old State House, in Philadelphia, as the first President of the United States was driven up to make his formal visit to Congress. This small boy glided into the hall, under the cover of the long coats of the finely dressed escort. Boylike he climbed to a hiding place, from which he watched the proceedings with the deepest awe. The boy lived to write fifty years afterwards a pleasing description of the affair. He tells us that while Washington entered, and walked up the broad aisle, and ascended the steps leading to the speaker's chair, the large and crowded chamber "was as profoundly still as a house of worship in the most solemn pauses of devotion."
On this occasion, Washington was dressed in a full suit of the richest black velvet, with diamond knee buckles, and square silver buckles set upon shoes japanned with the greatest neatness, black silk stockings, his shirt ruffled at the breast and the wrists, a light sword, his hair fully dressed, so as to project at the sides, and gathered behind in a silk bag, ornamented with a large rose of black ribbon. As he advanced toward the chair, he held in his hand his cocked hat, which had a large black cockade. When seated, he laid his hat upon the table. Amid the most profound silence, Washington, taking a roll of paper from his inside coat pocket, arose and read with a deep, rich voice his opening address.
Those who knew Washington have said that his presence inspired a feeling of awe and veneration rarely experienced in the presence of any other American. His countenance rarely softened or changed its habitual gravity, and his manner in public life was always grave and self-contained. In vain did the merry young women at Lady Washington's receptions do their best to make the stately President laugh. Some declared that he could not laugh. Beautiful Nellie Custis, his ward and foster child, used to boast of her occasional success in making the sedate President laugh aloud.
We may be sure that President Washington's receptions, every other Tuesday afternoon, were formal. On such occasions, he was in the full dress of a gentleman of that day,—black velvet, powdered hair gathered in a large silk bag, and yellow gloves. At his side was a long, finely wrought sword, with a scabbard of white polished leather. He always stood in front of the fireplace, with his face toward the door. He received each visitor with a dignified bow, but never shook hands, even with his nearest friends. He considered himself visited, not as a friend, but as President of the United States.
|Washington at Mount Vernon|
While President, Washington used to give a public dinner, every Thursday at four o'clock, "to as many as my table will hold." He allowed five minutes for difference in watches, and, at exactly five minutes past four by his hall clock, went to the table. His only apology to the laggard guest was, "I have a cook who never asks whether the company has come, but whether the hour has come."
If we may judge from the very full accounts of these grand dinners, as described in the diaries of the guests, they must have been stiff affairs. These people probably wrote the truth when they said, "glad it is over," "great formality," "my duty to submit to it," "scarcely a word was said," "there was a dead silence." No doubt there was much good food to eat and choice wine to drink, but the formal manners of the times were emphasized by awe of their grave host. Very few of the guests, both at Mount Vernon and at Philadelphia, failed to allude to the habit that Washington had of playing with his fork and striking on the table with it.
It would take a book many times larger than this to tell you all that has been written about Washington's everyday life. Some day you will delight to read more about him, and learn why he was, in every sense of the word, a wise, a good, and a great man,—the man who "without a beacon, without a chart, but with an unswerving eye and steady hand, guided his country safe through darkness and through storm."
Every young American should remember of Washington that "there is no word spoken, no line written, no deed done by him, which justice would reverse or wisdom deplore." His greatness did not consist so much in his intellect, his skill, and his genius, though he possessed all these, as in his honor, his integrity, his truthfulness, his high and controlling sense of duty—in a word, his character, honest, pure, noble, great.
We have certainly read enough about General Washington to know that he often planned to steal a march on the British. Don't you remember how surprised General Howe was one morning to find that Washington had gone to Dorchester Heights, with a big force of men, horses, and carts, and how he threw up breastworks, mounted cannon, and forced the British general after a few days to quit the good city of Boston? Haven't we also read how the "ragged Continentals" left their bloody footprints in the snow, as they marched to Trenton all that bitter cold night in December, 1777, and gave the Hessians a Christmas greeting they little expected?
In January, 1779, England sent orders to General Clinton "to bring Mr. Washington to a general and decisive action at the opening of the campaign," and also "to harry the frontiers and coasts north and south."
General Clinton wrote back that he had found "Mr. Washington" a hard nut to crack, but he would do his level best, he said, "to strike at Washington while he was in motion."
The main American force was still in winter quarters in northern New Jersey, near New York. Various brigades were stationed up and down the Hudson as far as West Point. As at the beginning of the war, so now in 1779, the line of the Hudson from Albany to New York was the key to the general situation. Its protection, as Washington had written, was of "infinite consequence to our cause."
The first real move in the game was made in May, when a large British force marched up, captured, and strongly fortified the two forts at Stony Point and Verplanck's Point, only thirteen miles below West Point. The enemy thus secured the control of King's Ferry, where troops and supplies for the patriot army were ferried across the Hudson.
Our spies now sent word to Washington that the British were ready to move on some secret service. The patriot army was at once marched up, and went into camp within easy reach of West Point, to wait for the next move in the game. Once more these far-famed Hudson Highlands were to become the storm center of the struggle.
For some reason, Clinton did not push farther up the Hudson. On the contrary, he began to make raids into various parts of the country, from Martha's Vineyard to the James River. These raids were marked by cruelties unknown in the earlier years of the war. The hated Tryon, once the royal governor of New York, led twenty-six hundred men into Connecticut. His brutal soldiers killed unarmed and helpless men and women, and sacked and burned houses and churches.
One of Clinton's objects in sending out the raiders was to coax Washington to weaken his army by sending out forces to offset them, or to tease him into making what he called a "false move." Washington was, of course, keenly alive to the misery brought upon the people of the country by these brutalities, but he was too wise a general to run any risk of losing his hold upon the line of the Hudson. The Continental army could not muster ten thousand men. Although not strong enough to begin a vigorous campaign, yet it was sufficiently powerful to hold the key to the Highlands.
Washington could, if need be, strike a quick, hard blow, either in New England or farther south. It might be, to be sure, a sort of side play, and yet it was to have the effect of a great battle. Indeed, it was high time to give the enemy another surprise.
At length it was decided to attack Stony Point. Any open assault, however, would be hopeless. This stronghold, if taken at all, must be taken by night.
What kind of place was this Stony Point?
It was a huge rocky bluff, shooting out into the river more than half a mile from the shore, and rising, at its highest point, nearly two hundred feet. It was joined to the shore by a marshy neck of land, crossed by a rude bridge, or causeway.
The British had fortified the top of this rocky point with half a dozen separate batteries. The cannon were so mounted as to defend all sides. Between the fort and the mainland, two rows of logs were set into the ground, with their ends sharpened to a point and directed outwards, forming what is known in military language as an abatis. This stronghold was defended by six hundred men.
Washington Irving well describes Stony Point as "a natural sentinel guarding the gateway of the far-famed Highlands of the Hudson." The British called it their "little Gibraltar," and defied the rebels to come and take it.
And now for a leader! Who was the best man to perform this desperate exploit?
|General Anthony Wayne|
There was really no choice, for there was only one officer in the whole army who was fitted for the undertaking,—General Anthony Wayne.
Wayne was a little over thirty years old. He was a fine-looking man with a high forehead and fiery hazel eyes. He had a youthful face, full of beauty. He liked handsome uniforms and fine military equipments. Some of his officers used to speak of him in fun as "Dandy Wayne." But the men who followed their dashing, almost reckless leader called him "Mad Anthony," and this name has clung to him ever since.
Wayne was, without doubt, the hardest fighter produced on either side during the American Revolution. He had an eager love of battle; and he was cautions, vigilant, and firm as a rock. This gallant officer eagerly caught at the idea when the commander in chief told him what he wanted. And so it came to pass that Washington did the planning, and Wayne did the fighting.
Washington's plans were made with the greatest care. The dogs for three miles about the fort were killed the day before the intended attack, lest some indiscreet bark might alarm the garrison. The commander in chief himself rode down and spent the whole day looking over the situation. Trusty men, who knew every inch of the region, guarded every road and every trail by which spies and deserters could pass.
"Ten minutes' notice to the enemy blasts all your hopes," wrote Washington to Wayne.
The orders were "to take and keep all stragglers."
"Took the widow Calhoun and another widow going to the enemy with chickens and greens," reported Captain McLane. "Drove off twenty head of horned cattle from their pasture."
The hour of attack was to be midnight. Washington hoped for a dark night and even a rainy one. Not a gun was to be loaded except by two companies who were to make the false attack. The bayonet alone was to be used, Wayne's favorite weapon. At Germantown, it was Wayne's men who drove the Hessians at the point of the bayonet. And at Monmouth, these men had met, with cold steel, the fierce bayonet charge of the far-famed British grenadiers.
About thirteen hundred men of the famous light infantry were chosen to make the attack. Both officers and men were veterans and the flower of the Continental army.
On the forenoon of July 15, the companies were called in from the various camps, and drawn up for inspection as a battalion, "fresh-shaved and well-powdered," as Wayne had commanded.
At twelve o'clock the inspection was over, but the men, instead of being sent to their quarters, were wheeled into the road, with the head of the column facing southward. The march to Stony Point had begun.
"If any soldier loads his musket, or fires from the ranks, or tries to skulk in the face of danger, he is at once to be put to death by the officer nearest him." One soldier did begin to load his gun, saying that he did not know how to fight without firing. His captain warned him once. The soldier would not stop. The officer then ran his sword through him in an instant. The next day, however, the captain came to Colonel Hull and said he was sorry that he had killed the poor fellow. "You performed a painful service," said Hull, "by which, perhaps, victory has been secured, and the life of many a brave man saved. Be satisfied."
All that hot July afternoon, the men picked their way along rough and narrow roads, up steep hillsides, and through swamps and dense ravines, often in single file. No soldier was allowed to leave the ranks, on any excuse whatever, except at a general halt, and then only in company with an officer.
At eight o'clock the little army came to a final halt at a farmhouse, thirteen miles from their camp, and a little more than a mile back of Stony Point. Nobody was permitted to speak. The tired men dropped upon the ground, and ate in silence their supper of bread and cold meat.
A little later, Wayne's order of battle was read. For the first time the men knew what was before them. No doubt many a brave fellow's knees shook and his cheek grew pale, when he thought of what might happen before another sunrise.
Until half past eleven o'clock they rested.
Each man now pinned a piece of white paper "to the most conspicuous part of his hat or his cap," so that, in the thick of the midnight fight, he might not run his bayonet through some comrade. No man was to speak until the parapet of the main fort was reached. Then all were to shout the watchword of the night, "The fort's our own!"
One of the last things that Wayne did was to write a letter to a friend at his home in Philadelphia, dated "Eleven o'clock and near the hour and scene of carnage." He wrote that he hoped his friend would look after the education of his children.
"I am called to sup," he wrote, "but where to breakfast? Either within the enemy's lines in triumph, or in another world."
|Pompey guiding General Wayne|
Half past eleven! It was time to start.
A negro, named Pompey, who sold cherries and strawberries to the garrison, was used as a guide. This shrewd darkey had got the British password for the night, by claiming that his master would not let him come in during the daytime, because he was needed to hoe corn. You will be glad to know that Pompey, as a reward for this eventful night's service, never had to hoe corn again, and that his master not only gave him a horse to ride, but also set him free.
Wayne divided his little army into two main columns, to attack right and left, having detached two companies, with loaded guns, to move in between the two columns and make a false attack.
Each column was divided into three parts. A "forlorn hope" of twenty men was to be the first to rush headlong into the hand to hand fight. Then followed an advance guard of one hundred and fifty men, who, with axes in hand and muskets slung, were to cut away the timbers. Last of all came the main body.
The silent band reaches the edge of the marsh at midnight, the hour set by Washington for the assault. Wayne himself leads the right column, to attack by the south approach. The tide has not ebbed, and the water is in places waist deep. The marsh is fully six hundred feet across. No matter for that! Straight ahead the column moves as if on parade. Now they have crossed, and are close to the outer defense. The British pickets hear the noise, open fire, and give the general alarm. The drums on the hill beat the "long roll." Quick and sharp come the orders. The redcoats leap from the barracks, and in a few moments every man is at his post.
Up rush the pioneers with their axes, and cut away the sharpened timbers the best they can in the darkness, while the bullets whiz over their heads. Then follow the main columns, who climb over, and form on the other side. Now they reach the second defense. They cut and tear away the sharp stakes. The bullets fall like hail. On, on, the two columns rush. They push up the steep hill, and dash for the main fort on the top. On the left, the "forlorn hope" has lost seventeen out of twenty men, either killed or wounded.
Meanwhile, Colonel Murfree and his two companies take their stand directly in front of the fort, and open a brisk and rapid fire, to make the garrison believe that they are the real attacking party. The redcoats are surely fooled, for they hurry down with a strong force to meet them, only to find their fort captured before they can get back.
|Wayne leads the Assault|
Wayne is struck in the head by a musket ball, and falls. The blood flows over his face. He fears in the confusion that he has received his death wound.
He cries to his aids, "Carry me into the fort and let me die at the head of the column."
Two of his officers pick up their gallant leader, and hurry forward; but it is only a scalp wound, and Wayne returns to the fight.
Wayne's column scales the ramparts.
The first man over shouts, "The fort's our own," and pulls down the British flag.
The second main column follows.
"The fort's our own!" "The fort's our own!" echoes and reëchoes over the hills.
The bayonet is now doing its grim work. The darkness is lighted only by the flashes from the guns of the redcoats. The bewildered British are driven at the point of the bayonet into the corners of the fort, and cry, "Mercy, mercy, dear Americans!" "Quarter! quarter!" "Don't kill us! we surrender!"
At one o'clock the work was done,—thirty minutes from the time the marsh was crossed! As soon as they were sure of victory, Wayne's men gave three rousing cheers. The British on the war vessels in the river, and at the fort on the opposite side of the river, answered; for they thought that the attacking party had been defeated. The only British soldier to escape from Stony Point was a captain. Leaping into the Hudson, he swam a mile to the Vulture and told its captain what had happened. In this way the news of the disaster reached Sir Henry Clinton at breakfast.
After the surrender, Wayne wrote the following letter to Washington:
Stony Point, 16th July, 1779, 2 o'clock.
The fort and garrison with Colonel Johnson are ours. Our officers and men behaved like men who are determined to be free.
Yours most sincerely,
The news spread like wildfire. Wayne and his light infantry were the heroes of the hour.
Two days afterwards, Washington, with his chief officers, rode down to Stony Point and heard the whole story. The commander in chief shook hands with the men, and "with joy that glowed in his countenance, here offered his thanks to Almighty God, that He had been our shield and protector amidst the dangers we had been called to encounter."
Washington did not, of course, intend to hold Stony Point, for the enemy could besiege it by land and by water. The prisoners, the cannon, and the supplies were carried away, and very little was left to the foe but the bare rock of their "little Gibraltar."
This exploit gave the Continental soldier greater confidence in himself. It proved to the British that the "rebel" could use the bayonet with as much boldness and effect as the proudest grenadier. The fight was not a great affair in itself. Only fifteen Americans were killed and eighty-three wounded; of the British, sixty-three were killed and some seventy wounded.
As for Clinton, although he put on a bold face in the matter, and spoke of the event as an accident, he owned that he felt the blow keenly.
"Mr. Washington" was still master of the situation.
If what the proverb tells us is true, that it is always darkest before dawn, the patriots of the South in 1780 must indeed have prayed for the light. Affairs had gone rapidly from bad to worse. Sir Henry Clinton had come again from New York, and in May of that year had captured Charleston with all of Lincoln's army.
Sir Henry went back to New York, leaving Lord Cornwallis in command. Washington desired to send his right-hand man, General Greene, to stem the tide of British success, but the Continental Congress chose to send General Gates.
In August, this weak general was utterly defeated in the battle of Camden, in South Carolina. How the bitter words of General Charles Lee, "Beware lest your Northern laurels change to Southern willows," must have rung in his ears! Gates fled from Camden like the commonest coward in the army. Mounted on a fast horse, he did not stop until he reached Charlotte, seventy miles away.
No organized American force now held the field in the South, and the red dragoons easily overran Georgia and South Carolina. There seemed to be little left for Cornwallis to do; for the three Southern colonies were for the time ground under the iron heel of the enemy.
Crushing blows, however, only nerved the leaders, Sumter, Pickens, Marion, Davie, and others, to greater efforts. The insolence, the cruelty, and the tyranny of the British soldiers, and the bitter hatred of the Tories, had brought to the front a new class of patriots. These men cared little about the original cause of the war, but the burning of their houses, the stealing of their cattle and their horses, and the brutal insulting of their wives and their daughters, aroused them to avenge their wrongs to the bitter end. And many were the skirmishes they brought about with the British.
Thirty days had now passed since the battle of Camden, and Cornwallis on his return march had not yet reached the Old North State. It was still a long way to Virginia, and the road thither was beset with many dangers.
Meanwhile, the British commander had intrusted to two of his officers, Tarleton and Ferguson, the task of pillaging plantations, raising and drilling troops among the Tories, and breaking up the bands of armed patriots.
The brutal manner in which Tarleton and his men plundered, burned, and hanged does not concern this story.
Ferguson was the colonel of a regular regiment that had been recruited in this country, instead of in England. With his kind heart and his winning manner, he was bold and brave, and always ready to take desperate chances in battle. He was noted for hard riding, night attacks, and swift movements with his troopers; and as a marksman he was unsurpassed. In short, Ferguson was just the leader to win the respect and the admiration of the Tories; and they eagerly enlisted in his service.
With a few regulars and a large force of loyalists, he pushed his victories to the foot of the mountains, in the western borders of the Carolinas. For the first time, he learned that over the high ranges in front of him were the homes of the men who had been causing him annoyance, and who were harboring those that had fled before his advance.
The proud young Briton now made the mistake of his life. He sent a prisoner, Samuel Phillips, over to the frontier settlements, to Colonel Isaac Shelby, with the insolent message that, if the "backwater" men did not quit resisting the royal arms, he would march his army over the mountains, and would straightway lay waste their homes with fire and sword, and hang their leaders.
He little knew what kind of men he had stirred to wrath. The frontier settlers of Franklin and Holston, which grew into the great commonwealth of Tennessee, were, for the most part, Scotch-Irish people. They had grappled with the wilderness, and had hewn out homes for themselves. Along with their log cabins they had built meetinghouses and schoolhouses. Their life was full of ever-present peril and hardship; for they were engaged in a ceaseless struggle with the Indians. The minister preached with his gun at his side, and the men listened with their rifles within their grasp.
As we should expect, these hardy settlers were generally stanch patriots. They believed in Washington and in the Continental Congress. They knew that British gold bribed the Indians, and furnished them with weapons to butcher their women and children. It was British gold, too, that hired the wild and lawless among them to enlist in the invading army; and it was British officers that drilled them to become expert in killing their brethren of the lowlands.
At the time of the Revolution, these backwoodsmen were still fighting with the savages, and so had not taken an active part in the war on the seaboard. Like a rear guard of well-seasoned veterans, they stood between the Indians and their people on the coast.
Now these hardy mountaineers took Ferguson's threat seriously. Their Scotch-Irish blood was up.
Colonel Shelby, one of the county lieutenants of Washington County, rode posthaste to John Sevier's home, sixty miles away, to carry Ferguson's threat.
Sevier lived on the Nolichucky River, and from his deeds of daring and his hospitality was nicknamed "Chucky Jack." When Shelby arrived, it was a day of merrymaking. They were having a barbecue; that is, they were roasting oxen whole on great spits; and a horse race was to be run. The colonel told his story, and the merrymakers agreed to turn out.
Shelby now rode home at full speed to muster his own men, and sent urgent word to Colonel William Campbell, a famous Indian fighter, who lived forty miles away, to call out the Holston Virginians.
The place appointed for meeting was at Sycamore Shoals, a central point on the Watauga River. The day set was September 25.
Hither came Shelby and Sevier with about five hundred men, William Campbell with four hundred Virginians, and McDowell with about one hundred and sixty refugees from North Carolina.
Word was sent to Colonel Cleveland, a hunter and Indian fighter of Wilkes County in North Carolina, to come with all the men he could raise east of the mountains.
Colonel Sevier tried in vain to borrow money to furnish the men with horses and supplies. The people were willing to give their last dollar, but they had paid out all their money for land, and the cash was in the hands of the county entry taker, John Adair.
Sevier appealed to him.
This patriot's reply is historic: "I have no authority by law, Colonel Sevier, to make that disposition of this money. It belongs to the treasury of North Carolina, and I dare not appropriate a penny of it to any purpose. But if the country is overrun by the British, liberty is gone. Let the money go, too. Take it. If the enemy, by its use, is driven from the country, I can trust that country to justify and vindicate my conduct. Take it."
This money, thirteen thousand dollars in silver and gold, was taken, and the supplies bought. Shelby and Sevier pledged themselves to refund the money, or to have the act legalized by the legislature.
September 25 was a day of intense excitement in those frontier settlements. The entire military force of what is now Tennessee met at Sycamore Shoals. The younger and more vigorous men were to march, while the older men with poorer guns were to remain behind, to help the women defend their homes against the savages. But all came, to bid good-by to husbands, to brothers, and to lovers. Food, horses, guns, blankets,—everything except money was brought without stint.
The backwoodsmen were mounted on swift, wiry horses. Their long hunting shirts were girded with bead-worked belts. Some wore caps made of mink or of coonskins, with the tails hanging down behind; others had soft hats, in each of which was fastened either a sprig of evergreen or a buck's tail.
Nearly all were armed with what was called the Deckhard rifle, remarkable for the precision and the distance of its shot. Every man carried a tomahawk and a scalping knife. There was not a bayonet in the whole force. Here and there an officer wore a sword.
|Praying for the Success of the Riflemen|
There was no staff, no commissary, no quartermaster, and no surgeon.
Early in the morning of September 26, the little army was ready to march. Before leaving camp, all met in an open grove to hear their minister, the Rev. Samuel Doak, invoke divine blessing on their perilous undertaking.
Years before, this God-fearing man had crossed the mountains, driving before him an "old flea-bitten gray horse" loaded with Bibles, and had cast his lot with the Holston settlers. By his energy in founding churches and in building schoolhouses, as well as by his skill in shooting Indians, he had become a potent influence for good among these frontier people.
Every man doffed his hat and bowed his head on his long rifle, as the white-headed Presbyterian prayed in burning words that they might stand bravely in battle, and that the sword of the Lord and of Gideon might smite their foes.
Our little army now pushed on over the mountains. On the third day they crossed the Blue Ridge, and saw far away the fertile valleys of the upper Catawba. The next day they reached the lovely lowlands, where Colonel Cleveland with three hundred and fifty militia joined them.
Hitherto, each band of the mountain army had been under the command of its own leader. Some of the men were unruly; others were disposed to plunder. This would never do, if they were to be successful; and so, on October 2, it was decided to give the supreme command to Colonel Cleveland.
Before the army set out on the following day, the colonels told their men what was expected of them.
"Now, my brave fellows," said Colonel Cleveland, "the redcoats are at hand. We must up and at them. When the pinch comes, I shall be with you."
"Everybody must be his own officer!" cried Colonel Shelby. "Give them Indian play, boys; and now if a single man among you wants to go back home, this is your chance; let him step three paces to the rear."
Not a man did so.
The pioneer army continued its march, picking up small bands of refugees. When they reached Gilberttown the next night, they numbered nearly fifteen hundred men. They hoped to find Ferguson at this place, but the wily partisan had sharp eyes and quick ears. He had been told by his Tory friends that the army of riflemen were after him.
The Briton sent posthaste to Cornwallis for more men; he called upon the Tories to rally to his support; and he issued a proclamation, in which he called the backwoodsmen "the dregs of mankind," "a set of mongrels," and other bad names. "Something must be done," he wrote to Cornwallis.
All this showed to the patriot riflemen that Ferguson was retreating because he feared them. Doubtless he would have escaped easily enough from ordinary soldiers; but his pursuers were made of different stuff. They had hunted wild beasts and savages all their lives. Now they were after the redcoats in the same way they would pursue a band of Indians. They had come over the mountains to fight, and fight they would.
Seven hundred and fifty men, mounted on the strongest horses, now hurried forward, leaving the rest to follow.
At sunset, on October 6, they reached Cowpens, where three months later Morgan was to defeat Tarleton. Here several hundred militia under noted partisan leaders joined them. Seated round their blazing camp fires, the hungry men roasted for supper the corn which they had stripped from the field of a rich Tory.
The colonels decided in council to pick out about nine hundred men, and with these to push on all night in pursuit of their hated foe. Some were so eager to fight that they followed on foot, and actually arrived in time for the battle.
All this time Ferguson was working to keep out of the way of the patriots. Several large bands of Tories were already on their way to help him. He also expected help from Cornwallis. The one thing needed was a day or two of time, and then he would be able to make a stand against his pursuers.
|A Map of the Military Operations in the Carolinas|
On the same night of October 6, Ferguson halted at King's Mountain, about a day's march from the riflemen at Cowpens, and thirty-five miles from the camp of Cornwallis. The ridge on which he pitched his camp was nearly half a mile long, and about sixty feet above the level of the valley. Its steep sides were covered with timber.
The next day the British did not move. The heavy baggage wagons were massed along the northeast part of the ridge, while the soldiers camped on the south side.
In his pride, the haughty young Briton declared that he could defend the hill against any rebel force, and "that God Almighty Himself could not drive him from it."
Through that dark and rainy night the mountaineers marched. It rained hard all the next forenoon, but the men wrapped their blankets and the skirts of their hunting shirts round their gunlocks, and hurried on after Ferguson. A few of Shelby's men stopped at a Tory's house.
"How many are there of you?" asked a young girl.
"Enough," said one of the riflemen, "to whip Ferguson, if we can catch him."
"He is on that hill yonder," replied the girl, pointing to the high range about three miles away.
Shelby had sent out Enoch Gilmer as a spy. He came back, saying that he had met a young woman who had been at the enemy's camp to sell chickens, and that Ferguson was encamped on the spot where some hunters had been the year before. These same hunters were with Shelby, and at once said they knew every inch of the way. Two captured Tories were compelled to tell how the British leader was dressed.
It was now three o'clock. It had stopped raining, and the sun was shining. All was hurry and bustle. The plan was to surround the hill, to give the men a better chance to fire upward, without firing into each other.
When the patriots came within about a mile of the ridge, they dismounted and tied their horses. The watchword was "Buford," the name of the brave officer whose troops had been massacred by Tarleton after their surrender. Each man was ordered to fight for himself. He might retreat before the British bayonets, but he must rally at once to the fight, and let the redcoats have "Indian play."
Sevier led the right wing. Some of his men by hard riding got to the rear of Ferguson's army, and cut off the only chance for retreat. Cleveland had charge of the left wing, while Campbell and Shelby were to attack in front. So swiftly did the different detachments reach their places that Ferguson found himself attacked on every side at once.
On horseback the gallant Briton leads his regulars in a bayonet charge down the steep hillside. With the Indian war whoop, which echoes and reëchoes, Campbell's riflemen rush forward. They have no bayonets, and are driven down the hill. In a voice of thunder, Campbell rallies his men, and up the hill they go with a still deadlier fire, as the regulars retreat.
|Charging the British at King's Mountain|
Now Shelby's men swarm up on the other side. Again the bayonets drive these new foes down the rocky cliffs. No sooner do the redcoats retire, than up comes Shelby again at the head of his men, nearer the top than before.
Meanwhile the riflemen, behind every tree and every rock, were picking off the redcoats. Clad in a hunting shirt, and blowing his silver whistle, the brave Ferguson dashes here and there to rally his men. He cuts and slashes with his sword until it is broken off at the hilt. Two horses are killed under him.
Some of the Tories raise a white flag. Ferguson rides up and cuts it down. A second flag is raised elsewhere. He rides there and cuts that down.
Now he flies at Sevier's riflemen, who had just made their way to the top of the hill. At once they recognize their man. In an instant, half a dozen bullets strike the gallant officer, and he falls dead from his horse. No longer is the shrill whistle heard.
Colonel De Peyster, the next in command, bravely keeps up the fight, but the deadly rifles have done their work. The British are hemmed in and there is no escape. At the head of their men the several colonels arrive at the top of the hill about the same time. The Tories are now huddled together near the baggage wagons.
"Quarter! quarter!" they cry everywhere.
"Remember Buford!" madly shout the victorious patriots.
"Throw down your arms, if you want quarter!" cries Shelby.
In despair, De Peyster at last raises a white flag, and white handkerchiefs are waved from ramrods. Some of the younger backwoodsmen did not know what a white flag meant, and kept on firing. The colonels ordered them to stop, and then made the Tories take off their hats and sit down on the ground.
There had been fierce and bloody work this beautiful autumn afternoon, on the crest of that rocky hill. Friends, neighbors, and relatives, in their bitter hatred, taunted and jeered one another, as they shot and stabbed in the desperate struggle.
Ferguson had about eleven hundred men in the action. Of these about four hundred were killed, wounded, or missing, and some seven hundred made prisoners. Of the patriots, twenty-eight were killed and about sixty wounded.
Under bold and resolute leaders, the backwoods riflemen had swept over the mountains like a Highland clan. Their work done, they wished to return home. They knew too well the dangers of an Indian attack on those they had left in their distant log cabins.
After burying their dead, and loading their horses with the captured guns and supplies, the victors shouldered their rifles, and, carrying their wounded on litters made of the captured tents, vanished from the mountains as suddenly as they had appeared.
Such was the defeat of the red dragoons at King's Mountain. It proved to be one of the decisive battles of the Revolution, and was the turn of the tide of British success in the South. The courage of the Southern patriots rose at a bound, and the Tories of the Carolinas never recovered from the blow.
On July 3, 1775, under the great elm on Cambridge Common, Washington took command of the patriot army. During the siege of Boston, which followed, his headquarters were in that fine old mansion, the Craigie house, where, from time to time, met men whose names became great in the history of the Revolution.
|Washington taking Command of the American Army, at Cambridge|
Hither came to consult with the commander in chief three men who died hated and scorned by their countrymen. The first was Horatio Gates, a vainglorious man, given to intrigue and treachery. Next came tall and slovenly Charles Lee of Virginia, a restless adventurer, who, by his cowardice in the battle of Monmouth, stirred even Washington to anger. Then there was a young man for whom Washington had a peculiar liking on account of his great personal bravery, who afterward became the despised Benedict Arnold.
But here were also gathered men of another stamp,—men whom the nation delights to honor. From the granite hills of New Hampshire, came rough and ready John Stark, who afterwards whipped the British at Bennington. From little Rhode Island, came Nathanael Greene, a young Quaker, who began life as a blacksmith, but who became the ablest general of the Revolution except Washington.
Into this group of patriot leaders came also Daniel Morgan of Virginia. Little is known of the early life of this remarkable man. He would rarely say anything about his family. It is believed that he was born of obscure Welsh people, in New Jersey, about the year 1737.
At seventeen, Morgan could barely read and write. He was rude of speech and uncouth in manners, but his heart was brave, and he scorned to lie.
The next two years did wonders for this awkward boy. He grew to be over six feet tall, with limbs of fine build, and with muscles like iron. In some way he had found time to study, and was regarded by the village people as a promising young fellow.
Stirring times were at hand. The bitter struggle between the French and the English in the Ohio valley was raging.
Morgan at once enlisted in the Virginia troops, and served one of the companies as a teamster. An incident revealed the stuff of which the young wagoner was made. The captain of his company had trouble with a surly fellow who was a great bully and a skillful boxer. It was agreed, according to the unwritten rules of the time, that the matter should be settled by a fight at the next stopping place; and so when the troops halted for dinner, out strode the captain to meet his foe.
"You must not fight this man," said Morgan, stepping to the front.
"Why not?" asked the officer.
"Because you are our captain," replied the young teamster, "and if the fellow whips you, we shall all be disgraced. Let me fight him, and if he whips me, it will not hurt the name of the company."
The captain said it would never do, but at last yielded. Morgan promptly gave the bully a sound thrashing.
After the defeat of Braddock, in 1755, the French and the redskins wreaked their vengeance upon the terrified frontier settlements. A regiment of a thousand men was raised, and Washington was made its colonel. With this small force, he was supposed to guard a frontier of two hundred and fifty miles.
Morgan enlisted as a teamster. It was his duty to carry supplies to the various military posts on this long frontier. This meant almost daily exposure to all kinds of dangers. It was a rough, hard school for a young man of twenty; but it made him an expert with the rifle and the tomahawk, and a master of Indian warfare, which was so useful to him in after years.
During one of these wild campaigns on the frontier, a British captain took offense at something young Morgan had said or done, and struck him with the flat of his sword. This was too much for the high-strung teamster. He straightway knocked the redcoat officer senseless.
A drumhead court-martial sentenced the young Virginian to receive one hundred lashes on the bare back. He was at once stripped, tied up, and punished. Morgan said in joke that there was a miscount, and that he actually received only ninety-nine blows. With his wonderful power of endurance, the young fellow stood the punishment like a hero, and came out of it alive and defiant.
This act, extreme even in those days of British cruelty, doubtless nerved him to incredible deeds of bravery in fighting the hated redcoats.
Shortly after this, he became a private in the militia. He made his mark when the French and Indians attacked a fort near Winchester. The story is that he killed four savages in as many minutes.
The young Virginian never drove any more army wagons. From this time, he stood forth as a born fighter and a leader of men. Such was his coolness in danger, his sound judgment, and, more than all else, his great influence over his men, that he was recommended to Governor Dinwiddie for a captain's commission.
"What!" exclaimed the governor, "to a camp boxer and a teamster?"
Still, the best men of Virginia urged it, and the royal governor so far yielded as to give him the commission of an ensign.
Not long afterwards, in one of the bloody fights with the French and Indians, Morgan was shot through the back of the neck. The bullet went through his mouth and came out through the left cheek, knocking out all the teeth on the left side. Supposing that he was mortally wounded, and resolved not to lose his scalp, the fainting rifleman clasped his arms tightly round the neck of his good horse, and galloped for life through the woods. A fleet Indian ran after him, tomahawk in hand. Finding at last that the horse was leaving him behind, the panting savage hurled his weapon, and with a wild yell gave up the chase.
|Morgan's Escape from the Indian|
The hardy frontiersman lay for months hovering between life and death, but finally recovered, and was once more in the thick of the wild warfare.
In his old age, Morgan used to tell his grandchildren of the fiendish look on the Indian's face while he felt sure of another scalp, and he would also imitate the horrible yell the redskin made when he was forced to give up the pursuit.
At last the war was over, and Morgan went back to his farm. He brought home with him, however, the vices of his wild campaign life. He used strong drink, and gambled. Far and near, he was noted as a boxer and a wrestler. Pugilists came from a distance to try their skill with the noted Indian fighter and athlete, who weighed over two hundred pounds, and yet had not an extra ounce of flesh.
But these were only passing incidents in the life of the great man. With a giant's frame, he had a tender heart. His good angel came to him in the person of a farmer's daughter, Abigail Bailey. She had great beauty; and she was a loving, Christian woman.
They were soon married, and, as the fairy books say, were happy ever after. As if by a magic spell, the strong man left his tavern chums and their rough sports, his boxing, his gambling, and his strong drink, and to the day of his death lived an upright life.
The young wife taught her husband to believe in God, and to trust in prayer. In his simple-hearted way, Morgan tells us that, just before the fierce attack on the fort at Quebec, he knelt in the drifting snow, and felt that God had nerved him to fight.
In riding over the battlefield after his great victory at Cowpens, old soldiers saw with wonder the fierce fighter stop his horse and pray aloud, and, with tears running down his face, thank God for the victory.
His men never scoffed at their leader's prayers, for it was noticed that the harder "old Dan Morgan" prayed, the more certain they were of being soon led into the jaws of death itself.
Meanwhile, he and his young bride were thrifty and prosperous. They were both ignorant of books, but they studied early and late to make up for lost time. For the next nine years, Morgan, with his household treasures,—his good wife, and his two little daughters,—lived in the pure atmosphere of a Christian home.
|Riflemen treating with Indians in the Wilderness of Virginia|
The storm cloud of the Revolution was now gathering thick and fast. Events followed each other with startling rapidity. Morgan watched keenly. He never did anything in a half-hearted way; and we may be sure that he took up the cause of the Revolution with all the fervor of his strong nature.
After the bloodshed at Lexington, the Continental Congress called for ten companies from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Morgan received his commission as captain, five days after Bunker Hill. When he shouted, "Come, boys, who's for the camp before Cambridge?" every man in his section turned out.
In less than ten days, Morgan at the head of ninety-six expert riflemen started for Boston. It was six hundred miles away, but they marched the distance in twenty-one days without the loss of a single man.
One day as Washington was riding out to inspect the redoubts, he met these Virginians.
Morgan halted his men, and saluted the commander in chief, saying, "From the right bank of the Potomac, General!"
Washington dismounted, and, walking along the line, shook hands with each of them.
Late in the fall of 1775, Morgan and his famous sharpshooters marched with about a thousand other troops on Arnold's ill-fated expedition to Quebec. This campaign, as you have read, was one of the most remarkable exploits of the war.
In the attack upon Quebec, after Arnold had been carried wounded from the field, and Montgomery had been killed, Morgan took Arnold's place and fought like a hero. He forced his way so far into the city that he and all his men were surrounded and captured.
A British officer who greatly admired his daring visited him in prison, and offered him the rank and pay of a colonel in the royal army.
"I hope, sir," answered the Virginian patriot, "you will never again insult me, in my present distressed and unfortunate situation, by making me offers which plainly imply that you think me a scoundrel."
Soon after his release, Congress voted him a colonel's commission, with orders to raise a regiment. The regiment reported for service at Morristown, New Jersey, in the winter of 1776.
Five hundred of the best riflemen were selected from the various regiments, and put under the command of Colonel Morgan. He was well fitted to be the leader of this celebrated corps of sharpshooters. They were always to be at the front, to watch every movement of the enemy, and to furnish prompt and accurate news for Washington. They were to harass the British, and to fight with the enemy's outposts for every inch of ground.
Meanwhile, in the fall of 1777, Burgoyne, with a large army of British, Hessians, and Indians, marched down from Canada, through the valley of the Hudson. The country was greatly alarmed. Washington could ill spare Morgan, but generously sent him with his riflemen to help drive back the invaders.
Two great battles, the first at Freeman's Farm, the second at Saratoga, sealed Burgoyne's fate. In each battle, the sharpshooters did signal service. Before their deadly rifles, the British officers, clad in scarlet uniforms, fell with frightful rapidity. They were a terror to the Hessians. As Morgan would often say in high glee, "The very sight of my riflemen was always enough for the Hessian pickets. They would scamper into their lines as if the devil drove them, shouting in all the English they knew, 'Rebel in de bush! rebel in de bush!'"
After the surrender, when Burgoyne was introduced to Morgan, he took him warmly by the hand and said, "Sir, you command the finest regiment in the world."
For over a year and a half after Saratoga, Morgan and his riflemen were attached to Washington's army, and saw hard service. Their incessant attacks on the enemy's outposts, and their numberless picket skirmishes, are all lost to history, and are now forgotten.
Just before the battle of Monmouth, a painful disease, known as sciatica, brought on by constant exposure and hardship, disabled Morgan. Sick and discouraged because he had seen officers who were favorites with Congress promoted over his head, he, like Greene, Stark, and Schuyler, now left the army for a time.
But after Gates was defeated at Camden, the fighting blood of the old Virginian was greatly stirred. He declared that no man should have any personal feeling when his country was in peril. So he hurried down South, and took, under Gates, his old place as colonel.
|General Daniel Morgan|
After the battle at King's Mountain, Congress very wisely made Morgan a brigadier general.
The glorious and ever-memorable victory at Cowpens made him more famous than ever before. Hitherto he had fought in battles that other men had planned. Now he had a chance to plan and to fight as he pleased. It was not a great battle so far as numbers were concerned, but "in point of tactics," says John Fiske, the historian, "it was the most brilliant battle of the war for independence."
After leading eleven hundred men into the northeast part of South Carolina, to cut off Cornwallis from the seacoast, General Greene gave Morgan the command of about a thousand men, with orders to march to the southwest, and threaten the inland posts and their garrisons. Cornwallis, the English earl, scarcely knew which way to turn; but he followed Greene's example, and, dividing his army, sent Colonel Tarleton to crush Morgan.
Tarleton, confident of success, dashed away with his eleven hundred troopers to pounce upon the "old wagoner" and crush him at a single blow. Morgan, well trained in the school of Washington and Greene, and wishing just then to avoid a decisive battle, skillfully fell back until he found a spot in which to fight after his own fashion.
His choice was at a place where cattle were rounded up and branded, known as Cowpens. A broad, deep river, which lay in the rear, cut off all hope of retreat. A long, thickly wooded slope commanded the enemy's approach for a great distance. Morgan afterwards said that he made this choice purposely, that the militia might know they could not run away, but must fight or die.
At Cowpens, then, the patriot army lay encamped the night before the expected battle. A trusty spy was sent to Tarleton, to say that the Americans had faced about, and were waiting to fight him sometime the next day. There was no fuss and feathers about Morgan. In the evening, he went round among the various camp fires, and with fatherly words talked the situation over.
"Stand by me, boys," said he in his blunt way, "and the old 'wagoner' will crack his whip for sure over Tarleton to-morrow."
The British commander, eager to strike a sudden blow, put his army in motion at three o'clock in the morning. He was not early enough, however, to catch the old rifleman napping. Morgan had rested his men during the night, and given them a good breakfast early in the morning. When Tarleton appeared upon the scene about sunrise, he found the patriots ready.
In the skirmish line, Morgan placed one hundred and twenty riflemen that could bring down a squirrel from the tallest tree. The militia, under the command of Colonel Pickens, were drawn up about three hundred yards in front of the hill. Along the brow of the hill, and about one hundred and fifty yards behind the militia, were the veterans of the Continental line. And beyond the brow of the hill, he stationed Colonel Washington with his cavalry, out of sight, and ready to move in an instant.
"Be firm, keep cool, take good aim. Give two volleys at killing distance, and fall back," were the orders to the raw militia.
"Don't lose heart," said Morgan to the Continentals, "when the skirmishers and the militia fall back. 'Tis a part of the plan. Stand firm, and fire low. Listen for my turkey call."
Morgan was in the habit of using a small turkey call such as hunters use to decoy turkeys. In the heat of battle he would blow a loud blast. This he said was to let the boys know that he was still alive and was watching them fight.
Tarleton, unmindful of the fact that Morgan's retreat was "sullen, stern, and dangerous," had marched his men all night through the mud. They were tired out and hungry. Never mind, their restless leader would crush "old wagoner" first, and eat breakfast afterwards. He could hardly wait to form his line or to allow his reserves to come up.
The battle begins in real earnest. The militia fire several well-aimed volleys, and fall back behind the Continentals. With a wild hurrah, the redcoats advance on the run. They are met with a deadly volley. They overlap the Continentals a little, who fall back a short distance, to save their left flank. Tarleton hurls his whole force upon them. The veterans stand their ground and pour in a heavy and well-sustained fire. Quick as a flash, Morgan sees his golden chance.
|The Carolina Militia resisting the British Grenadiers at Cowpens|
"They are coming on like a mob!" shouts Colonel Washington to the gallant Colonel Howard, the commander of the Continentals. "Face about and fire, and I will charge them."
Then is heard the shrill whistle of the turkey call, and Morgan's voice rings along the lines, "Face about! One good fire, and the victory is ours!"
Like a thunderbolt, Colonel Washington and his troopers, flying their famous crimson flag, sweep down in a semicircle round the hill, and charge the enemy's right flank.
"Charge bayonets!" shouts Howard.
Instantly the splendid veterans face about, open a deadly fire, and charge the disordered British line with the bayonet.
All was over in a few minutes. The old "teamster" had set his trap, and the redcoats were caught. Finding themselves surrounded, six hundred threw down their guns, and cried for quarter. The rest, including Tarleton himself, by hard riding, escaped.
Colonel Washington and his troopers rode in hot haste to capture Tarleton, if possible. In the eagerness of his pursuit, Washington rode in advance of his men. Tarleton and two of his aids turned upon him. Just as one of the aids was about to strike the colonel with his saber, a trooper came up and disabled the redcoat's arm. Before the other aid could strike, he was wounded by Washington's little bugler, who, too small to handle a sword, fired his pistol. Tarleton now made a thrust at the colonel with his sword. The latter parried the blow, and wounded his enemy in the hand.
|Hand to Hand Fight between Colonel Washington and Colonel Tarleton|
As the story is told, this wound was twice the subject for witty remarks by two young women, the daughters of a North Carolina patriot. Tarleton remarked to one of these sisters that he understood Colonel Washington was an unlettered fellow, hardly able to write his name.
"Ah, Colonel," said the lady, "you ought to know better, for you can testify that he knows how to make his mark."
At another time, Tarleton said with a sneer to the other sister, "I should be happy to see Colonel Washington."
"If you had looked behind you at the battle of Cowpens, Colonel Tarleton," she replied, "you would have enjoyed that pleasure."
In the battle of Cowpens, the British lost two hundred and thirty, killed and wounded. The Americans had twelve killed and sixty-one wounded.
Morgan did not rest for one moment after his victory. He knew that Lord Cornwallis, stung by the defeat of Tarleton, would do his best to crush him before he could rejoin Greene's army. By forced marches, he got to the fords of the Catawba first, and when his lordship reached the river, he learned that the patriots had crossed with all their prisoners and booty two days before, and were well on their way to join General Greene.
Soon after the battle of Cowpens, repeated attacks of his old enemy, sciatica, so disabled Morgan that he was forced to retire from the service and go back to his home, in Virginia.
During the summer of 1780, when the British invaded the Old Dominion, he again took the field. With Wayne and Lafayette, he took part in a series of movements which led to the capture of Cornwallis. The exposure of camp life again brought on a severe illness.
"I lay out the night after coming into camp," Morgan wrote General Greene, "and caught cold."
Crippled and suffering great pain, he went home with the belief that he had dealt his last blow for the cause he loved so well. He afterward received from Washington, Greene, Jefferson, Lafayette, and other leaders, letters that stir our blood after so many years.
From a simple teamster, Morgan had become a major general. After taking part in fifty battles, he lived to serve his country in peace as well as in war, and was returned to Congress the second time. His valor at the North is commemorated, as you already know, by the statue on the monument at Saratoga. In the little city of Spartanburg, in South Carolina, stands another figure of Daniel Morgan, the "old wagoner of the Alleghanies," the hero of Cowpens.
About the middle of March, 1781, Lord Cornwallis defeated Greene in a stubborn battle at Guilford, North Carolina. Although victorious, the British general was in desperate straits. He had lost a fourth of his whole army, and was over two hundred miles from his base of supplies. He could not afford to risk another battle.
There was now really only one thing for Cornwallis to do, and that was to make a bee line for Wilmington, the nearest point on the coast, and look for help from the fleet.
General Greene must have guessed that the British general would march northwards, to unite forces with Arnold, who was already in Virginia. At all events, the sagacious American general made a bold move. He followed Cornwallis for about fifty miles from Guilford, and then, facing about, marched with all speed to Camden, a hundred and sixty miles away.
His lordship was not a little vexed. He was simply ignored by his wily foe, and left to do as he pleased. So he made his way into Virginia, and on May 20 arrived at Petersburg.
Benedict Arnold, who was now fighting under the British flag, had been sent to Virginia to burn and to pillage. Washington dispatched Lafayette to check the traitor's dastardly work. When Lord Cornwallis reached Virginia, Arnold had been recalled, and the young Frenchman was at Richmond.
Cornwallis thought he might now regain his reputation by some grand stroke. The first thing to do was to crush the young Lafayette.
"The boy cannot escape me," he said.
But Lafayette was so skillful at retreating and avoiding a decisive action that his lordship could get no chance to deal him a blow.
"I am not strong enough even to be beaten," wrote the French general to the commander in chief.
Away to the west rode our friend Colonel Tarleton, still smarting from the sound thrashing he had received from old Dan Morgan at Cowpens. He was trying to break up the State Assembly, and capture Thomas Jefferson, governor of Virginia.
It was a narrow escape for the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence. The story is told that Jefferson had only five minutes in which to take flight into the woods, before Tarleton's hard riders surrounded his house at Monticello.
About this time, Mad Anthony Wayne, with a thousand Pennsylvania regulars, appeared upon the scene and joined Lafayette.
Now Cornwallis, finding that he could not catch "the boy," and having a wholesome respect for Wayne, stopped his marching and countermarching, and retreated to Williamsburg by way of Richmond and the York peninsula.
During the first week in August, the British commander continued his retreat to the coast, and occupied Yorktown, with about seven thousand men. Lafayette was encamped on Malvern Hill, in the York peninsula, where he was waiting for the next act in the drama.
Far away in the North, at West Point, Washington was keeping a sharp lookout over the whole field. The main part of the patriot army was encamped along the Hudson.
At Newport, there was a French force under General Rochambeau. Late in May, Washington rode over to a little town in Connecticut, to consult with him. It was decided that the French army should march to the Hudson as speedily as possible, and unite with the patriot forces encamped there.
The plan at this time was to capture New York. This could not be done without the aid of a large fleet.
Early in the spring of this year, 1781, the French government had sent a powerful fleet to the West Indies, under the command of Count de Grasse. De Grasse now had orders to act in concert with Washington and Rochambeau, against the common enemy. This was joyful news.
News traveled very slowly in those times. It took ten days for Washington to hear from Lafayette that Cornwallis had retreated to Yorktown, and thirty days to learn that Greene was marching southward against Lord Rawdon in South Carolina. And as for De Grasse, it was uncertain just when and where he would arrive on the coast.
Washington had some hard thinking to do. The storm center of the whole war might suddenly shift to Virginia.
Now came the test for his military genius. Hitherto, the British fleet had been in control of our coast. Now, however, nobody but a Nelson would ever hope to defeat the French men-of-war that were nearing our shores. Cornwallis was safe enough on the York peninsula so long as the British fleet had control of the Virginia coast. But suppose De Grasse should take up a position on the three sides of Yorktown, would it not be an easy matter, with the aid of a large land force, to entrap Cornwallis?
The supreme moment for the patriot cause was now at hand. In the middle of August, word came from De Grasse that he was headed with his whole fleet for Chesapeake Bay.
As might be expected, Washington was equal to the occasion. The capture of New York must wait. He made up his mind that he would swoop down with his army upon Yorktown, four hundred miles away, and crush Cornwallis.
Yes, but what about Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander in chief in New York? If Sir Henry should happen to get an inkling of what Washington intended to do, what would prevent his sending an army by sea to the relief of Yorktown?
Nothing, of course, and so the all-important point was to hoodwink the British commander. It was cleverly done, as we shall see.
Clinton knew that the French fleet was expected; but everything pointed to an attack on New York.
If we glance at the map of this section, we shall see that, from his headquarters at West Point, Washington could march half way to Yorktown, by way of New Jersey, without arousing suspicions of his real design.
Nobody but Rochambeau had the least knowledge of what he intended to do. Bodies of troops were moved toward Long Island. Ovens were built as if to bake bread for a large army. The patriots seemed merely to be waiting for the French fleet before beginning in earnest the siege of New York.
Washington wrote a letter to Lafayette which was purposely sent in such a way as to be captured by Clinton. In this letter, the American general said he should be happy if Cornwallis fortified Yorktown or Old Point Comfort, because in that case he would remain under the protection of the British fleet.
Washington wrote similar letters to throw Clinton off his guard. For instance, to one of his generals he wrote in detail just how he had planned to lay siege to New York. He selected a young minister, by the name of Montaigne, to carry the dispatch to Morristown, through what was called the Clove.
"If I go through the Clove," said Montaigne, "the cowboys will capture me."
"Your duty, young man, is to obey," sternly replied Washington.
The hope of the ever-alert commander in chief was fulfilled, for the young clergyman soon found himself a prisoner in the famous Sugar House, in New York. The next day, the dispatch was printed with great show in Rivington's Tory paper.
On August 19, or just five days after receiving the dispatch from De Grasse, Washington crossed the Hudson at King's Ferry, and set out on his long march, with two thousand Continental and four thousand French troops.
They had nearly reached Philadelphia before their real destination was suspected.
The good people of the Quaker city had just heard of Greene's successes in the South. The popular feeling showed itself in the rousing welcome they gave to the "ragged Continentals" and to the finely dressed French troops, as the combined forces marched hurriedly through the streets. The drums and fifes played "The White Cockade and the Peacock's Feather"; everywhere the stars and stripes were flung to the breeze; and ladies threw flowers from the windows.
"Long live Washington!" shouted the people, as the dusty soldiers marched by in a column nearly two miles long.
"He has gone to catch Cornwallis in his mouse trap!" shouted the crowd, in great glee.
Even the self-possessed Washington was a trifle nervous. Galloping ahead to Chester on his favorite charger, Nelson, he sent back word that De Grasse had arrived in Chesapeake Bay.
By rapid marches, the combined armies reached the head of the Bay on September 6. From this point, most of the men were carried in transports to the scene of action. In another week, an army of more than sixteen thousand men was closing round Cornwallis.
Soon after his arrival, Washington, accompanied by Rochambeau, Knox, Hamilton, and others, made a formal call on Admiral De Grasse on board his flagship, the famous ship of the line, Ville de Paris, then at anchor in Hampton Roads.
When Washington reached the quarter-deck, the little French admiral ran to embrace his guest, and kissed him on each cheek, after the French fashion.
"My dear little general!" he exclaimed, hugging him.
Now when the excited admiral stood on tiptoe to embrace the majestic Washington, and began to call him "petit," or "little," the scene was ludicrous. The French officers politely turned aside; but it was too much for General Knox, who was a big, jolly man. He simply forgot his politeness, and laughed aloud until his sides shook.
Where was the British fleet all this time?
Its commander, Admiral Hood, had followed sharply after De Grasse, and had outsailed him. Not finding the enemy's fleet in the Chesapeake, he sailed on to New York and reported to Admiral Graves.
Then Sir Henry began to open his eyes to the real state of affairs. All was bustle and hurry. Crowding on all sail, the British fleet headed for the Chesapeake, and there found De Grasse blockading the bay.
It would be all up with Washington's plans if the British fleet should now defeat the French. The French fleet, however, was much the stronger, and Graves was no Nelson. There was a sharp fight for two hours. On the two fleets, the killed and the wounded amounted to seven hundred. The British admiral was then forced to withdraw; and after a few days he sailed back to New York. De Grasse was now in complete control of the Chesapeake.
Cornwallis did not as yet know that Washington was marching at full speed straight for Yorktown. Still, his lordship began to realize that he was fast getting himself into a tight place.
Why not cross the James River and retreat to a safe place in North Carolina?
It was too late. Three thousand French troops had already landed on the neck of the peninsula, and were united with the patriot forces. The "boy" had now more than eight thousand men, with which he could easily cut off every chance for his lordship's retreat.
In the American camp, the combined armies were working with a hearty good will to hasten the siege. There could be no delay. The British fleet was sure to return, and another fleet was hourly expected from England. Again, Sir Henry might at any moment come by sea to the rescue. Day and night the men toiled. Nobody was permitted to speak aloud, for they were close to the British pickets. Intrenchments were made, and cannon were rapidly dragged up and placed in position. By October 10, all was ready.
|General Washington in the Trenches before Yorktown|
The siege begins in earnest. Shot and shell are hurled into the British lines. All day and all night long, are heard the roaring of cannon and the bursting of shells. Bang! bang! The French fire red-hot shot across the water and set fire to the British transports.
New lines of redoubts are thrown up during the night, and guns are mounted, which pound away at the doomed army. Two of the British redoubts are troublesome. These are gallantly captured.
On the next night, Cornwallis makes a vigorous effort to break through the American lines, but is driven back into the town. With seventy cannon pounding away, the British earthworks are fast crumbling. The British commander grows desperate. He thinks that, by leaving his baggage and his sick behind, he can cross the river to Gloucester in boats, by night, cut through the French, and by forced marches make his way to New York.
On the night of the 16th, a few of the redcoats actually succeeded in reaching the opposite shore, when a storm of wind and rain suddenly arose and continued till morning. This last ray of hope was gone.
Cornwallis had his headquarters in a large brick mansion owned by a Tory. It was a fine target for the artillery, and was soon riddled. His lordship stayed in the house until a cannon ball killed his steward, as he was carrying a tureen of soup to his master's table.
The British general now moved his headquarters into Governor Nelson's fine stone mansion. Its owner was in command of the Virginia troops in the besieging army. He was the "war governor" who had left his crops to their fate, and his plows in the furrows, while his horses and his oxen were harnessed to the cannon that were being hurried to the siege. When Nelson learned, through a deserter, where Cornwallis and his staff were, regardless of his personal loss, he ordered the bombarding of the house.
In Trumbull's famous painting, "The Surrender of Cornwallis," Governor Nelson's mansion is plainly seen.
By this time, the only safe place in Yorktown was a cave, which had been dug under the bank of the river. To this spot, as the story goes, Cornwallis moved his headquarters. Here he received a British colonel who had made his way in the night through the French fleet, to bring orders from Sir Henry Clinton. Cornwallis was to hold out to the last. Seven thousand troops had sailed to his relief.
His lordship served a lunch for his guest, and while they were drinking their wine, the colonel declared his intention of going up on the ramparts for a moment, to take a look at the Yankees. As he left, he gayly said that on his return he would give Washington's health in a bumper. It was useless to urge him to remain under shelter. He had scarcely climbed to the top of the redoubt when his head was shot off by a cannon ball.
On October 17, the thirteenth day of the siege and the fourth anniversary of Burgoyne's surrender, a red-coated drummer boy stands on the rampart and beats a parley. A white flag is raised on the British works. The roar of the cannon ceases. Cornwallis sends an officer to ask that fighting be stopped for twenty-four hours.
Twenty-four hours! No! "No more fighting for two hours," says Washington.
Held in an iron grasp both by land and by sea, the British commander knows that all is lost. He can do nothing but surrender.
At two o'clock on the afternoon of October 19, in a field not far from Washington's headquarters, the formal surrender takes place. This ceremony, so joyful to the one side, so painful to the other, is carried out in stately form. The officers on both sides wear their best uniforms and military equipments. Washington rides his favorite charger, Nelson. The stars and stripes of America, and the white flag and lilies of France, wave in triumph. While the band plays a quaint old English melody, "The World Turned Upside Down," the British troops, over seven thousand in number, slowly march between the columns of the combined armies and lay down their arms.
Cornwallis was not there. Saying that he was sick, he sent O'Hara, one of his generals, to deliver up his sword, while Washington, with his usual high regard for official dignity, sent General Lincoln.
As perhaps you may remember, when General Lincoln was forced to surrender to Cornwallis, at Charleston in 1780, the haughty British general turned him over to an inferior officer, as if to treat his surrender with contempt.
Lafayette said, in after years, that the captive redcoats, while they gazed at the French soldiers with their showy trappings, "did not as much as look at my darling light infantry, the apple of my eye and the pride of my heart." Whereupon the lively young French general ordered his fife and drum corps to strike up "Yankee Doodle." "Then," he said, "they did look at us, but were not very well pleased."
After the surrender, both the Americans and the British hastened away. Scores of brave men, whom thus far the bullets had spared, were the victims of camp fever and smallpox. Fourteen days afterwards, Yorktown became again a sleepy little hamlet of sixty houses.
On the same day that Cornwallis found "the world turned upside down," Clinton sailed from New York, with thirty-five ships and over seven thousand of his best troops. Had this great force reached the scene ten days earlier, the story of Yorktown might have been different.
"Cornwallis is taken!" How quickly the news spread! Men, women, and children pour in from the country, and wait along the road leading to Philadelphia, for the long-expected news.
At length a horseman is seen riding at headlong speed.
He waves his hat and shouts to the eager people, "Cornwallis is taken!"
It is Colonel Tilghman, whom Washington sent posthaste to Philadelphia to inform Congress of the surrender.
|The Night Watchman announcing the Capture of Cornwallis|
It is after midnight when he arrives. The drowsy night watchman is slowly pacing the streets. Suddenly is heard the joyful cry, "Past three o'clock, and Cornwallis is taken!"
Up go the windows. Men and women rush into the streets, all eager to hear the news. An hour before daylight, old Independence bell rings out its loudest peals, and sunrise is greeted with the boom of cannon.
Congress meets during the forenoon, to read Washington's dispatches. In the afternoon, the members go in solemn procession to the Lutheran church, "and return thanks to Almighty God for crowning the allied armies of the United States and France with success."
At noon on Sunday, November 25, the news reached London. Somebody asked a member of the cabinet how Lord North, the prime minister, received the "communication."
"As he would have taken a cannon ball in his chest," was the reply; "for he opened his arms, exclaimed wildly, as he walked up and down the room during a few minutes, 'O God! it is all over! it is all over!'"
The news was sent to King George, who replied the same evening. It was noted that His Majesty being a trifle stupid, wrote very calmly, but forgot to mark the exact hour and minute of his writing. This circumstance, the like of which had never happened before, seemed to indicate to his cabinet some unusual disturbance. Shortly afterwards, however, the old king took some comfort in declaring that the Yankees were a wretched set of knaves, whom he was glad to get rid of at any price.
On a gentle slope at Yorktown stands a monument, erected a century later by Congress, in commemoration of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis. There it stands, a tall, white shaft, solitary, glorious, and impressive, a landmark for many miles along that sleepy shore.
Exactly eight years from the day when
the Continental Congress informed General Washington that the war was over. In September, 1783, the formal treaty of peace was signed; a month later, the Continental army was disbanded; and three weeks later, the British army sailed from New York.
What a pathetic and impressive scene took place at a little tavern, in lower New York, when Washington said good-by to his generals! With hearts too full for words, and with eyes dimmed with tears, these veterans embraced their chief and bade him farewell.
|Washington's Farewell to his Generals|
A few days before Christmas, Washington gave up the command of the army, and hurried away to spend the holidays at Mount Vernon.
"The times that tried men's souls are over," wrote the author of "Common Sense," a man whose writings voiced the opinions of the people.
Freedom was indeed won, but the country was in a sad plight.
"It is not too much to say," says John Fiske, "that the period of five years following the peace of 1783 was the most critical moment in all the history of the American people."
Thirteen little republics, fringing the Atlantic, were hemmed in on the north, the south, and the west, by two hostile European nations that were capable of much mischief.
In 1774, under the pressure of a common peril and the need of quick action, the colonies had banded together for the common good. By a kind of general consent their representatives in the Continental Congress had assumed the task of carrying on the war. But for nine years Congress had steadily declined in power, and now that peace had come and the need of united action was removed, there was danger that this shadowy union would dissolve. Believing strongly in their own state governments, the people had almost no feeling in favor of federation.
Just before the disbanding of the army and his retirement to private life, Washington wrote a letter to the governor of each colony. This letter, he said, was his "legacy" to the American people.
He urged the necessity of forming a more perfect union, under a single government. He declared that the war debt must be paid to the last penny; that the people must be willing to sacrifice some of their local interests for the common good; and that they must regard one another as fellow citizens of a common country.
We must not make the mistake of thinking that the Continental Congress was like our present national Congress.
When the struggle between the colonies and the mother country threatened war, the colonies through their assemblies, or special conventions, chose delegates to represent them in Philadelphia. These delegates composed the first Continental Congress. It met on September 5, 1774, and broke up during the last week of the following October.
Three weeks after Lexington, a second Congress met in the same city. This was the Congress that appointed Washington commander in chief, and issued the immortal Declaration of Independence.
In the strict sense of the word, this body had no legal authority. It was really a meeting of delegates from the several colonies, to advise and consult with each other concerning the public welfare.
There was war in the land. Something must be done to meet the crisis. The Continental Congress, therefore, acted in the name of the "United Colonies."
Many of the ablest and most patriotic men of the country were sent as delegates to this Congress; and until the crowning victory at Yorktown, although without clearly defined powers, it continued to act, by common consent, as if it had the highest authority. It made an alliance with France; it built a navy; it granted permits to privateers; it raised and organized an army; it borrowed large sums of money, and issued paper bills.
A few days after the Declaration of Independence was signed, a form of government, called the "Articles of Confederation," was brought before Congress; but it was not adopted until several weeks after the surrender of Burgoyne, in 1777.
The "Articles" were not finally ratified by the states until the spring of 1781.
The constitution thus adopted was a league of friendship between the states. It was bad from beginning to end; for it dealt with the thirteen states as thirteen units, and not with the people of the several states. It never secured a hold upon the people of the country, and for very good reasons.
Each state, whether large or small, had only one vote. A single delegate from Delaware or from Rhode Island could balance the whole delegation from New York or from Virginia.
Congress had no power to enforce any law whatever. It could recommend all manner of things to the states, but it could do nothing more. It could not even protect itself.
Hence, the states violated the "Articles" whenever they pleased. Thus Congress might call for troops, but the states could refuse to obey. Without the consent of every state, not a dollar could be raised by taxation.
At one time, twelve states voted to allow Congress to raise money to pay the soldiers; but little Rhode Island flatly refused, and the plan failed. The next year Rhode Island consented, but New York refused.
Although Congress had authority to coin money, to issue bills of credit, and to make its notes legal tender for debts, each one of the thirteen states had the same authority.
Money affairs got into a wretched condition. Paper money became almost worthless. The year after Saratoga, a paper dollar was worth only sixteen cents, and early in 1780 its value had fallen to two cents.
A trader in Philadelphia papered his shop with dollar bills, to show what he thought of the flimsy stuff. In the year of Cornwallis's surrender, a bushel of corn sold for one hundred and fifty dollars; and Samuel Adams, the Boston patriot, had to pay two thousand dollars for a hat and a suit of clothes.
A private soldier had to serve four months before his pay would buy a bushel of wheat. When he could not collect this beggarly sum, is it any wonder that he deserted or rebelled?
At one time, being unable to get money for the army, Congress asked the states to contribute supplies of corn, pork, and hay.
To add to the general misery, the states began to quarrel with one another, like a lot of schoolboys. They almost came to bloodshed over boundary lines, and levied the most absurd taxes and duties.
If a Connecticut farmer brought a load of firewood into New York, he had to pay a heavy duty. Sloops that sailed through Hell Gate, and Jersey market boats that crossed to Manhattan Island, were treated as if from foreign ports. Entrance fees had to be paid, and clearance papers must be got at the custom house.
The country was indeed in a bad condition. There were riots, bankruptcy, endless wranglings, foreclosed mortgages, and imprisonment for debt.
The gallant Colonel Barton, who captured General Prescott, was kept locked up because he could not pay a small sum of money. Robert Morris, once a wealthy merchant, was sent to jail for debt, although he had given his whole fortune to the patriot cause.
Thoughtful and patriotic men and women throughout the country felt that something must be done.
Washington and other far-sighted men of Virginia began to work out the problem. First it was proposed that delegates from two or three states should meet at Annapolis, to discuss the question of trade. Finally all the states were invited to send delegates.
At this meeting, only twelve delegates, from five states, were present. Alexander Hamilton wrote an eloquent address, which it was voted to send to the state assemblies, strongly recommending that delegates should be appointed to meet at Philadelphia on the second day of May, 1787.
This plan, however, Congress promptly rejected.
During the winter of 1786, the times were perhaps even harder, and the country nearer to the brink of civil war and ruin. There were riots in New Hampshire and in Vermont and Shays's Rebellion in the old Bay State. There were also the threatened separation of the Northern and Southern states, the worthless paper money, wildcat speculation, the failure to carry out certain provisions of the treaty of peace, and many troubles of less importance.
As we may well suppose, all this discord made King George and his court happy. He declared that the several states would soon repent, and beg on bended knees to be taken back into the British empire.
When it was predicted in Parliament that we should become a great nation, a British statesman, who bore us no ill will, said, "It is one of the idlest and most visionary notions that was ever conceived even by a writer of romance."
Frederick the Great was friendly to us, but he declared that nobody but a king could ever rule so large a country.
All these unhappy events produced a great change in public opinion. People were convinced that anarchy might be worse than the union of these thirteen little commonwealths, under a strong, central government.
At this great crisis in affairs, Virginia boldly took the lead, and promptly sent seven of her ablest citizens, one of whom was Washington, to the Philadelphia convention. This was a masterly stroke of policy. People everywhere applauded, and the tide of popular sentiment soon favored the convention. At last Congress yielded to the voice of the people and approved the plan. Every state except Rhode Island sent delegates.
|The Old State House, in Philadelphia, now called Independence Hall|
It was a notable group of Americans that met in one of the upper rooms of old Independence Hall, the last week of May, 1787. There were fifty-five delegates in all, some of whom, however, did not arrive for several weeks after the convention began its meetings.
Eight of the delegates had signed the Declaration of Independence, in the same room; twenty-eight had been members of the Continental Congress, and seven had been governors of states. Two afterwards became presidents of the United States, and many others in after years filled high places in the national government.
Head and shoulders above all others towered George Washington. The man most widely known, except Washington, was Benjamin Franklin, eighty-one years old; the youngest delegate was Mr. Dayton of New Jersey, who was only twenty-six.
Here also were two of the ablest statesmen of their time, Alexander Hamilton of New York, and James Madison of Virginia.
Connecticut sent two of her great men, Oliver Ellsworth, afterwards chief justice of the United States, and Roger Sherman, the learned shoemaker.
Near Robert Morris, the great financier, sat his namesake, Gouverneur Morris, who originated our decimal system of money, and James Wilson, one of the most learned lawyers of his day.
The two brilliant Pinckneys and John Rutledge, the silver-tongued orator, were there to represent South Carolina.
Then there were Elbridge Gerry and Rufus King of Massachusetts, John Langdon of New Hampshire, John Dickinson of Delaware, and the great orator, Edmund Randolph of Virginia.
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams would no doubt have been delegates, had they not been abroad in the service of their country. Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams remained at home; for they did not approve of the convention.
How Rhode Island must have missed her most eminent citizen, Nathanael Greene, who had just died of sunstroke, in the prime of manhood!
Washington was elected president of the convention. The doors were locked, and, every member being pledged to secrecy, they settled down to work.
Just what was said and done during those four months was for more than fifty years kept a profound secret. After the death of James Madison, often called the "Father of the Constitution," his journal was published, giving a complete account of the proceedings.
When the delegates began their work, they soon realized what a problem it was to frame a government for the whole country. As might have been expected, some of these men had a fit of moral cowardice. They began to cut and to trim, and tried to avoid any measure of thorough reform.
Washington was equal to the occasion. He was not a brilliant orator, and his speech was very brief; but the solemn words of this majestic man, as his tall figure drawn up to its full height rose from the president's chair, carried conviction to every delegate.
"If, to please the people," he said, "we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterward defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair; the event is in the hand of God."
The details of what this convention did would be dull reading; but some day we shall want to study in our school work the noble Constitution which these men framed.
The gist of the whole matter is that our Federal Constitution is based upon three great compromises.
The first compromise was between the small and the large states. In the upper house, or Senate, equal representation was conceded to all the states, but in the lower house of Congress, representation was arranged according to the population.
Thus, as you know, little Rhode Island and Delaware have each two senators, while the great commonwealths of New York and Ohio have no more. In the House of Representatives, on the other hand, New York has forty-three representatives, and Ohio has twenty-two, while Rhode Island has three, and Delaware only one.
The second compromise was between the free and the slave states.
Were the slaves to be counted as persons or as goods?
South Carolina and Georgia maintained that they were persons; the Northern states said they were merely property.
Now indeed there was a clashing over local interest; but it was decided that in counting the population, whether for taxation, or for representation in the lower house, a slave should be considered as three fifths of an individual. And so it stood until the outbreak of the Civil War.
It was a bitter pill for far-sighted men like Washington, Madison, and others, who did not believe in slavery. Without this compromise, however, they believed that nine slave states would never adopt the Constitution, and doubtless they were right.
The slave question was the real bone of contention that resulted in the third compromise. The majority of the delegates, especially those from Virginia, were not in favor of slavery.
"This infernal traffic that brings the judgment of Heaven on a country!" said George Mason of Virginia.
At first, it was proposed to abolish foreign slave trade. South Carolina and Georgia sturdily protested.
"Are we wanted in the Union?" they said.
They declared that it was not a question of morality or of religion, but purely a matter of business.
Rhode Island had refused to send delegates; and those from New York had gone home in anger. The discussions were bitter, and the situation became dangerous.
While the convention "was scarcely held together by the strength of a hair," the question came up for discussion, whether Congress or the individual states should have control over commerce.
The New England states, with their wealth of shipping, said that by all means Congress should have the control, and should make a uniform tariff in all the states. This, it was believed, would put an end to all the wranglings and the unjust acts which were so ruinous to commerce.
The extreme Southern states that had no shipping said it would never do; for New England, by controlling the carrying trade, would extort ruinous prices for shipping tobacco and rice.
When the outlook seemed darkest, two of the Connecticut delegates suggested a compromise.
"Yes," said Franklin, "when a carpenter wishes to fit two boards, he sometimes pares off a bit from each."
It was finally decided that there should be free trade between the states, and that Congress should control commerce.
To complete the "bargain," nothing was to be done about the African slave trade for twenty years. Slavery had been slowly dying out both in the North and in the South, for nearly fifty years. The wisest men of 1787 believed that it would speedily die a natural death and give way to a better system of labor.
It was upon these three great foundation stones, or compromises, that our Constitution was built. The rest of the work, while very important, was not difficult or dangerous. The question of choosing a president, and a hundred other less important matters were at last settled.
The scorching summer of 1787 was well-nigh spent before the great document was finished. The convention broke up on September 17. Few of its members were satisfied with their work. None supposed it complete.
Tradition says that Washington, who was the first to sign, standing by the table, held up his pen and said solemnly, "Should the states reject this excellent Constitution, they probably will never sign another in peace. The next will be drawn in blood."
Of the delegates who were present on the last day of the convention, all but three signed the Constitution.
|Signing the Constitution|
It is said that when the last man had signed, many of the delegates seemed awe-struck at what they had done. Washington himself sat with head bowed in deep thought.
Thirty-three years before this, and before some of the delegates then present were born, Franklin had done his best to bring the colonies into a federal union. He was sixty years of age when, in this very room, he put his name to the Declaration of Independence. Now, as the genial old man saw the noble aim of his life accomplished, he indulged in one of his homely bits of pleasantry.
There was a rude painting of a half sun, gorgeous with its yellow rays, on the back of the president's black armchair. When Washington solemnly rose, as the meeting was breaking up, Franklin pointed to the chair and said, "As I have been sitting here all these weeks, I have often wondered whether that sun behind our president is rising or setting. Now I do know that it is a rising sun."
The Constitution was sent to the Continental Congress, who submitted it to the people of the several states for their approval. It was agreed that when it was adopted by nine states, it should become the supreme law of the land.
Now for the first time there was a real national issue. The people arranged themselves into two great political parties, the Federalists, who believed in a strong government and the new Constitution, and the Anti-Federalists, who were opposed to a stronger union between the states.
And now what keen discussions, bitter quarrels, and scurrilous and abusive newspaper articles! A bloodless war of squibs, broadsides, pamphlets, and frenzied oratory was waged everywhere.
Hamilton and Madison were "mere boys" and "visionary young men"; Franklin was an "old dotard" and "in his second childhood"; and as for Washington, "What did he know about politics?"
The Constitution was called "a triple-headed monster." Many able men sincerely believed it to be "as deep and wicked a conspiracy as ever was invented in the darkest ages against the liberties of the people."
How eloquently did such men as Hamilton, Madison, Randolph, Jay, "Light-Horse Harry" Lee, John Marshall, Fisher Ames, and a score of other "makers of our country" defend the "New Roof," as the people were then fond of calling the Federal Constitution!
A series of short essays written by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, and published under the name of "The Federalist," were widely read. Although written at a white heat, their grave and lofty eloquence and their stern patriotism carried conviction to the hearts of the people.
"The Delaware State," as it was called, was the first to adopt the Constitution. It was not until the next June that Massachusetts and Virginia ratified it, as the sixth and tenth states. New York next fell into line in July.
The victory was won! The "New Roof" was up and finished, supported by eleven stout pillars!
On the glorious "Fourth" in 1788, there was great rejoicing throughout the land. Bonfires, stump speeches, fireworks, processions, music, gorgeous banners, and barbecues of oxen expressed the joy of the people over the establishment of a federal government.
"Hurrah for the United States of America!" shouted every patriot.
"The good ship Constitution" was at last fairly launched.
The wheels of the new government began to turn slowly and with much friction. It was not until the first week of April, 1789, that the House of Representatives and the Senate met and counted the electoral votes for a President of the newly born nation. There were sixty-nine votes in all, and of these every one was for George Washington. John Adams was the second choice of the electoral college. He received thirty-four votes, and was accordingly declared Vice President.
Thus was formed and adopted our just and wise Constitution, which, except for a few amendments, has ever since been the supreme law of the land. This document has been called by Gladstone "the greatest work ever struck off at any time by the mind and purpose of man." To it we owe our prosperity and our high place among nations.
About a century ago, pirates on the northern coast of Africa were causing a great deal of trouble. They used to dash out in their vessels, and capture and plunder the merchant ships of all nations. The poor sailors were sold as slaves, and then kicked and cuffed about by cruel masters.
|American Sailors sold into Slavery by the Barbary Pirates|
You will hardly believe it, but our country used to do exactly what other nations did. We used to buy the good will of these Barbary pirates, by giving them, every year, cannon, powder, and great sums of money. In fact we could not at first help it; for we were then a young and feeble nation with many troubles, and our navy was so small that we could not do as we pleased.
The payment of this blackmail soon became a serious affair. The ruler, or pasha, of Tripoli was bold enough to declare war against this country, and cut down the flagstaff in front of our consul's house. Two other Barbary states, Morocco and Tunis, began to be impudent because they did not get enough money.
This was more than our people could stand. These scamps needed a lesson.
You will, of course, remember Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence. He was at this time President of the United States. As you may well think, he was not the man to put up with such insults.
"It reminds me," said Jefferson, "of what my good friend, Ben Franklin, once said in his Poor Richard's Almanac: 'If you make yourself a sheep, the wolves will eat you.' We must put a stop to paying this blood money, and deal with these pirates with an iron hand."
So it came to pass that Commodore Dale was sent to the Mediterranean, with a small fleet of war ships.
When our little fleet arrived off the Barbary coast, Morocco and Tunis stopped grumbling and soon came to terms. We were then free to deal with Tripoli.
Our war ships had orders simply to look after our merchantmen, without doing any fighting. Still, to give the proud ruler of Tripoli a hint of what he might soon expect, one of our small vessels, the Enterprise, afterwards commanded by Decatur, fought a short but furious battle with a Tripolitan man-of-war.
|Fight between Dale and the Tripolitan Pirates|
The pirate captain hauled his flag down three times, but hoisted it again when the fire of the Enterprise ceased. This insult was too much for Dale. Bringing his vessel alongside the pirate craft, he sprang over her side, followed by fifty of his men. The pirate crew, with their long curved swords, fought hard; yet in fifteen minutes they were beaten.
Our sailors now cut away the masts of the enemy's vessel, and, stripping her of everything except one old sail and a single spar, let her drift back to Tripoli, as a hint of how the new nation across the Atlantic was likely to deal with pirates.
"Tell your pasha," shouted the American captain, as the Barbary ship drifted away, "that this is the way my country will pay him tribute after this."
In the year 1803, the command of our fleet was given to Commodore Preble, who had just forced the ruler of Morocco to pay for an attack upon one of our merchant ships. The famous frigate Constitution, better known to every wide-awake American boy and girl as "Old Ironsides," was his flagship.
Among his officers, or "schoolboy captains," as he called them, were many bright young men, who afterwards gained fame in fighting their country's battles. One of these officers was Stephen Decatur, the hero of this story, who afterwards, as captain of the frigate United States, whipped the British frigate Macedonian after a fight of an hour and a half.
One morning late in the fall of 1803, the frigate Philadelphia, one of the best ships of our little navy, while chasing a piratical craft, ran upon a sunken reef near the harbor of Tripoli. The good ship was helpless either to fight or to get away.
The officers and crew worked with all their might. They threw some of the cannon overboard, they cut away the foremast, they did everything they could to float the vessel. It was no use; the ship stuck fast.
Of course it did not take long for the Tripolitans to see that the American war ship was helpless. Their gunboats swarmed round the ill-fated vessel and opened fire. It was a trying hour for the gallant Captain Bainbridge and his men. Down must come the colors, and down they came. The officers and the sailors were taken ashore and thrown into prison.
After a time, the Tripolitans got the Philadelphia off the reef. Then, towing her into the harbor of Tripoli, they anchored her close under the guns of their forts. The vessel was refitted, cannon were put on board, together with a crew of several hundred sailors, and the crescent flag was raised. She was now ready to sail out to attack our shipping.
Just think of the days of grief and shame for Captain Bainbridge and his men! Think of them as they looked day after day out of the narrow windows of the pasha's castle, and saw this vessel, one of the handsomest in the world, flying the colors of the enemy! These brave Americans had need of all their grit; but they kept up their courage and bided their time.
Commodore Preble now sailed to Sicily, and cast anchor in the harbor of Syracuse.
Don't you suppose the recapture of the Philadelphia was talked of every day?
Of course it was. Everybody in the fleet, from the commodore to the powder monkey, was thinking about it. They must do something, and the sooner the better.
Even Captain Bainbridge in his prison cell wrote several letters with lemon juice, which could be read on being held to the fire, and sent them to Preble. These letters contained plans for sinking the ill-fated ship.
Every one of Preble's young captains was eager to try it. It might mean glory, and promotion, or perhaps failure, and death.
|Commodore Stephen Decatur|
Somehow or other all looked to the dashing Stephen Decatur; for from the first he had taken a leading part in planning the desperate deed.
"For the honor of the flag, sir, the ship must be destroyed. She must never be allowed to sail under that pirate flag," said Commodore Preble to Decatur.
"My father was the ship's first commander," replied the young officer, whose fine black eyes gleamed, "and if I can only rescue her, it will be glory enough for a lifetime."
"You have spoken first," said the commodore, "and it is only right that you should have the first chance."
No time was lost. All hands went to work.
What was their plan?
With a vessel made to look like a Maltese trader, and with his men dressed like Maltese sailors, Decatur meant to steal into the harbor at night, set fire to the Philadelphia, and then make a race for life.
A short time before this, Decatur had captured a small vessel, known as a ketch. As this kind of boat was common here, nobody would suspect her.
The little craft, now named the Intrepid, was soon loaded with all kinds of things that would catch fire easily.
On board the Enterprise on the afternoon of February 3, 1803, the order was, "All hands to muster!"
"I want sixty-one men out of this ship's crew," said Decatur, "to leave to-morrow in the Intrepid, to help destroy the Philadelphia. Let each man who wants to go take two steps ahead."
With a cheer, every officer, every sailor, and even the smallest powder boys stepped forward. No wonder the young captain's fine face beamed with joy.
"A thousand thanks, my men," he said, and the tears came into his eyes; "I am sorry, but you can't all go. I will now choose the men I want to take with me." He picked out about sixty of the youngest and most active.
"Thankee, sir," said each man when his name was called.
Besides his own younger officers and his surgeon, Decatur took five young officers from the Constitution, and a Sicilian pilot named Catalano, who knew the harbor of Tripoli.
That same evening, the little ketch, with its crew of some seventy-five men, sailed out of the harbor of Syracuse amid three lusty cheers. The war brig Siren went with her.
In four days, the two vessels reached the harbor of Tripoli, but a bad storm drove them off shore. What a time they had for six days! The Intrepid was a poor affair at best, and there was no shelter from the fury and the cold of the storm. The sailors slept on the hard deck, nibbled what little ship bread was not water-soaked,—for they had lost all their bacon,—and caught rain water to drink. In cold, hunger, and wet, these men, like true American sailors, sang their songs, cracked their jokes, and kept up their courage.
After a week, the fury of the storm abated, the bright sunshine brought comfort, and the two vessels set sail for Tripoli.
As they drew near the coast, towards evening, the wind was so light that the Siren was almost becalmed. The Intrepid, however, met a light breeze, which sped her toward the rocky harbor.
Decatur saw that his best hope now was to make a bold dash, without waiting for the brig.
"Never mind, boys," he said, "the fewer the number, the greater the glory. Keep your heads level; obey orders every time; and do your duty."
About sunset, the ketch with her alert crew came in sight of the white-walled city. They could see the chain of forts and the frowning castle. The tall black hull and the shining masts of the Philadelphia stood out boldly against the bright blue African sky. Two huge men-of-war and a score of gunboats were moored near her. The harbor was like a giant cavern, at the back of which lay the Philadelphia, manned by pirates armed to the teeth, who were waiting for an attack from the dreaded Americans.
Into these jaws of death, Decatur boldly steered his little craft. The breeze was still fresh. It would never do to take in sail, for the ever-watchful pirates would think it strange. So spare sails and buckets were towed astern to act as a drag, for fear they should reach their goal too early.
The men now hid themselves by lying flat upon the deck, behind the bulwarks, the rails, and the masts. Only a few persons, dressed like Maltese sailors, could be seen. Decatur stood calmly at the wheel by the side of Catalano, the pilot.
"We lay packed closer than sardines in a box, and were still as so many dead men," said one of the men long afterwards to his grandchildren.
About nine o'clock the moon rose, and by its clear light the ketch was steered straight across the blue waters for the bows of the Philadelphia.
"Vessel ahoy! What vessel is that?" shouted an officer of the frigate, as the Intrepid boldly came nearer.
Decatur whispered to his pilot.
"This is the ketch Stella, from Malta," shouted Catalano, in Italian. "We have lost our anchors, and were nearly wrecked in the gale; we want to ride near you during the night."
"All right! but only until daylight," replied the officer, and ordered a line to be lowered.
Without a moment's delay, a boat under the command of young Lawrence put off from the Intrepid. On meeting the pirate boat, he took the line and rowed back to the ketch.
The Americans, in their red jackets and fezzes, hauled away with a right good will, and brought their little craft steadily in toward the huge black hull of the frigate, where they were soon being made fast under her port side.
As the ketch now drifted into a patch of moonlight, the pirate officer spied the anchors with their cables coiled up.
"Keep off! You have lied to me," he shouted, and ordered his men to cut the hawser.
As if by magic, the deck of the ketch swarmed with men, whose strong arms forced their vessel up against the side of the Philadelphia.
"Americans! Americans!" cried the dazed Tripolitans.
"Board! board!" shouted Decatur, as he made a spring for the deck of the frigate, followed by his gallant men.
Although taken by surprise, the Tripolitans fought hard. They were called the best hand to hand fighters in the world, but they were no match for American sailors. As Preble's orders were "to carry all with the sword," no firearms were used. The only weapons were cutlasses. The watchword was "Philadelphia," which they were to use in the darkness.
The Americans formed a line from one side of the ship to the other, and, with Decatur as leader, swept everything before them on the main deck. On the gun deck, Lawrence and McDonough did the same thing. In fifteen minutes, every Tripolitan had been cut down or driven overboard. In spite of the close, sharp fighting, not one of our men received a scratch.
But now comes the tug of war! Every man knows exactly what to do, for he has been well drilled. Some hand up kegs of powder and balls of oakum soaked in tar. Others carry these along the deck and down below. Now they drag two eighteen-pounders amidships, double-shot them, and point them down the main hatch, so as to blow out the bottom of the ship. In a few minutes everything is ready.
"Start the fires!" A puff of smoke, a little blaze, then flames everywhere!
Quick and sharp comes the order to leap aboard the ketch. Decatur, sure that the work thus far is well done, is the last man to leave.
|The Burning of the Philadelphia|
Now all are safe aboard the Intrepid. The order is given to cast off. The ketch still clings to the blazing frigate, from whose portholes the flames are shooting out. The gunpowder left on the deck is covered only with canvas. Life is in peril. They find that the stern rope has not been cast off. Up rush Decatur and his officers, and cut the hawser with their swords. The boat swings clear, and the men row for their lives.
The fierce flames of the burning ship bring the Intrepid into plain view. She is a target for every gun. Bang! bang! thunder a hundred cannon.
"Stop rowing, boys, and give 'em three cheers," shouts Decatur.
Everybody is on his feet in an instant, and joins in the hurrahs.
Solid shot, grape, and shells whistle and scream in the air above the little ketch, and throw up showers of spray as they strike the water. Only one shot hits, and that whizzes through the mainsail. The men bend to their oars and pull for dear life. They are soon well out of range, and, in a short time, safe under the guns of the Siren.
What wild hurrahs were heard when Decatur, clad in a sailor's pea-jacket, and begrimed with powder, sprang on board and shouted, "Didn't she make a glorious bonfire, and we didn't lose a man!"
In telling the story afterwards, the men said it was a superb sight. The flames burst out and ran rapidly up the masts and the rigging, and lighted up the sea and the sky with a lurid glare. The guns soon became heated and began to go off. They fired their hot shot into the shipping, and even into the town. Then, as if giving a last salute, the Philadelphia parted her cables, drifted ashore, and blew up.
As a popular saying goes, "Nothing succeeds like success." So it was with Decatur's deed. His cool head and the fine discipline of his men won success. The famous Lord Nelson, the greatest naval commander of his time, said it was "the most bold and daring act of the age."
Decatur was well rewarded. At twenty-five he was made a captain, and given the command of "Old Ironsides," probably the finest frigate at that time in the world.
|"Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!|
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky."
In 1833, when the old war ship Constitution, unfit for service, lay in the navy yard in Charlestown, the Secretary of the Navy decided to sell her or to break her up. On the appearance of this bit of news in a Boston paper, Oliver Wendell Holmes, a law student at Harvard, scribbled some verses and sent them to the editor.
This poem of twenty-four lines was at once published, and was soon copied into the leading newspapers of the country. In our large cities, the poem was circulated as a handbill. Popular indignation rose to a white heat, and swept everything before it.
The order was at once revoked, and Congress decided that the old frigate, so dear to the hearts of the American people, should be rebuilt.
Why did the people care so much about "Old Ironsides"?
For twenty-five years after the adoption of the Constitution, we had a rough road to travel. We were nearly crushed by our foreign debts, and could do little to defend ourselves on the high seas. England boarded our ships and carried off our sailors, and France captured our vessels and stole their cargoes. Even the Barbary pirates, when they spied the new flag, began to plunder and burn our merchantmen, and sell their crews into slavery.
In the fall of 1793, eight Algerine pirate craft sailed out into the Atlantic, and within a month had captured eleven of our ships and made slaves of more than a hundred of our sailors.
Think of our consul at Lisbon writing home, "Another Algerine pirate in the Atlantic. God preserve us!"
In behalf of American citizens held as slaves by these pirates, a petition was sent to Congress. A bill was then passed, allowing President Washington to build or to buy six frigates.
It was a fortunate day for our nation when the plans of Mr. Humphreys, a shipbuilder of Philadelphia, were accepted. He was directed by Congress to prepare the models of six war ships, to be built in different towns on the coast.
The design of the Constitution was sent to Boston, and her keel was laid in Hartt's Naval Yard, near what is now Constitution Wharf. The ideas of Mr. Humphreys were carried out to the letter. The new frigate was to have better guns, greater speed, greater cruising capacity,—in fact, was to be a little better in every respect than the British and the French ships of the same rating.
The Constitution was called a forty-four-gun frigate, although she actually carried thirty twenty-four-pounders on her main deck, and twenty-two thirty-two-pounders on her spar deck. She had one gun deck instead of two, and her cannon were heavier than were usually carried on foreign war ships of her own class. She was twenty feet longer and about five feet broader than the far-famed thirty-eight-gun British frigates. In comparison with a modern war ship, she was less than one half as long as the armed cruiser New York, and not far from the size of one of our gunboats.
The British naval officers made much sport of these new ships; but after "Old Ironsides" had destroyed two fine British frigates, and had outsailed a large British fleet, they went to work and made over some of their line of battle ships into large frigates.
The Constitution was built of the best material, and with unusual care. A Boston shipwright was sent South to select live oak, red cedar, and hard pine. Paul Revere, who made the famous midnight ride to Concord, received nearly four thousand dollars for the copper which he furnished for the new frigate.
From the laying of the keel to the final equipment, the Constitution was kept in the shipyard fully three years. Her live oak timbers, having had two years to season, were hard as iron.
After many delays, the stanch ship was set afloat at midday, October 21, 1797, "before a numerous and brilliant collection of citizens."
In 1803, a fleet was sent to the north of Africa, to force the pirates of the Barbary coast to respect the persons and the property of American citizens. Commodore Preble was made commander, with the Constitution as his flagship. He had under him the Philadelphia, a fine new frigate, and five smaller war ships.
Preble was a remarkable man, and his "schoolboy captains," as he called them, all under twenty-five years of age, were also remarkable men.
For two years or more, there was plenty of stubborn fighting. Within forty days, five attacks were made on the forts and the war ships of Tripoli. In three of these attacks, the Constitution took part; and once, while supporting the fleet, she silenced more than a hundred guns behind the forts of the pirate capital.
Even from the first, the new frigate was lucky. She was never dismasted, or seriously injured, in battle or by weather. In all her service, not one commanding officer was ever lost, and few of her crew were ever killed.
On one occasion, six of our gunboats made a savage hand to hand attack on twenty-one Tripolitan gunboats, and drove them back into the harbor with great loss.
"There, Commodore Preble," said young Decatur, as he came over the side of the Constitution, and walked joyfully up to his commander on the quarter-deck, "I have brought you out three of the gunboats."
Preble had a kind heart, but a very quick temper. Like a flash, he seized Decatur by the collar and shook him, shouting, "Aye, sir, why did you not bring me out more?" and walked into his cabin.
The stern old fighter was over his temper in a moment. He sent for his young officer, and made ample amends for bad temper and hasty words. Ever afterwards these two great men were the best of friends.
During the war of 1812, "the war for free trade and sailors' rights," the Constitution won her chief honors. The story of her remarkable escape from a British squadron has been often told.
It was at daybreak about the middle of July, 1812, off the New Jersey coast. Not a breath ruffled the ocean. Captain Isaac Hull, every inch of him a sailor, was in command. A British fleet of five frigates and some smaller vessels, which had been sighted the day before, had crept up during the night, and at daylight almost surrounded "Old Ironsides."
Hull knew his ship and his men. Not for one moment did he think of giving up his vessel. Of course he could not fight his powerful foe with his single ship. He must get away. But how?
One of the British frigates, the Shannon, had furled her sails, and was being towed by all the boats of the fleet.
"This," said Lieutenant Morris, "seemed to decide our fate."
A moment later, however, a puff of wind carried our frigate out of gunshot.
"How deep is the water?" shouts Captain Hull.
"Twenty fathoms," is the reply.
"Out with the kedge anchor!" cries Hull.
All the spare ropes and cables are fastened together and payed out to an anchor, which is dropped into the sea a mile ahead. The sailors on the frigate go round the windlass on the run, and the vessel is slowly drawn ahead to the anchor, which is now quickly taken up and carried out once more. This is called kedging.
Our sailor boys give cheer on cheer as they whirl the windlass and pull at the oars.
The captain of one of the enemy's frigates now sees the game, and tries kedging, but does not get near enough to throw a shot.
Three of the pursuing frigates open fire at long range, without doing any damage.
All day long this pursuit is kept up. Every gun is loaded, ready to fire. The men rest by the cannon, with their rammers and their sponges beside them. All the next day the chase goes on. At last, slowly but surely, the American frigate gains on her pursuers. At four o'clock in the afternoon, the Shannon is four miles astern.
Two hours later, a squall gave Hull a chance to play a trick on his pursuers. Sail was shortened the moment the squall struck. The British captain, seeing the apparent confusion on board the Yankee frigate, also shortened sail. The moment his vessel was hidden by the rain, Hull quickly made sail again. When the weather cleared, his nearest pursuer was far astern.
At daylight the next morning, the British fleet was almost out of sight, and, after a chase of three nights and two days, gave up the contest.
Six days later, the good people of Boston went wild with delight, as their favorite frigate ran the blockade and came to anchor in the harbor.
Captain Hull was not the man to be shut up in Boston harbor if he could help it. In less than two weeks he ran the blockade and sailed out upon the broad ocean. A powerful British fleet was off the coast. Hull knew it, but out he sailed with his single ship to battle for his country.
Now the British had a fine frigate named the Guerrière. This vessel was one of the fleet that had given the Constitution such a hot chase a few days before. Captain Dacres, her commander, and Captain Hull were personal friends, and had wagered a hat on the result of a possible battle between their frigates. The British captain had just written a challenge to the commander of our fleet, saying that he should like to meet any frigate of the United States, to have a few minutes tête-à-tête.
On the afternoon of August 19, about seven hundred miles northeast of Boston, these two finest frigates in the world, the Guerrière and the Constitution, met for the "interview" that Dacres so much wanted.
All is hurry and bustle on "Old Ironsides."
"Clear for action!" shrilly sounds the boatswain's whistle.
The fife and drum call to quarters. Everybody hurries to his place.
The British frigate, as if in defiance, flings out a flag from each topmast. Her big guns flash, but the balls fall short.
"Don't fire until I give the word," orders Captain Hull.
Now the Guerrière, drawing nearer and nearer, pours in a broadside.
"Shall we not fire, sir?" asks Lieutenant Morris.
"Not yet," is Hull's reply.
Another broadside tears through the rigging, wounding several men. The sailors are restless at their double-shotted guns.
Now the two frigates are fairly abreast, and within pistol shot of each other.
"Now, boys, do your duty. Fire!" shouts the gallant commander, at the top of his voice.
Hull is a short and stout man. As he leans over to give the order to fire, his breeches burst from hip to knee. The men roar with laughter. There is no time to waste, however, and so he finishes the battle in his laughable plight.
An officer, pointing to the captain, cries, "Hull her, boys! hull her!"
The men, catching the play upon words, shout, "Hull her! Yes, we'll hull her!"
"Old Ironsides" now lets fly a terrible broadside at close range. The Guerrière's mizzenmast goes overboard.
"My lads, you have made a brig of that craft!" cries Hull.
"Wait a moment, sir, and we'll make her a sloop!" shout back the sailors.
Sure enough, the Guerrière swings round and gets a raking fire, which cuts away the foremast and much of the rigging, and leaves her a helpless hulk in the trough of the sea. The flag goes down with the rigging, and there is nothing to do but to surrender.
In just thirty minutes, the British frigate is a wreck.
During the hottest part of the battle, a sailor, at least so runs the story, saw a cannon ball strike the side of the vessel and fall back into the sea.
"Hurrah, boys! hurrah for 'Old Ironsides'!" he shouted to his mates; "her sides are made of iron."
Some say that from this incident the nickname of "Old Ironsides" took its origin.
|Hull refuses Dacres's Sword|
Captain Hull received his old friend Dacres, kindly, on board the Constitution, and said, "I see you are wounded, Dacres. Let me help you."
When the British captain offered his sword, Hull said, "No, Dacres, I cannot take the sword of a man who knows so well how to use it, but I will thank you for that hat!"
Just as they were ready to blow up the Guerrière, Dacres remembered that a Bible, his wife's gift, which he had carried with him for years, had been left behind. Captain Hull at once sent a boat after it.
Twenty-five years after this incident, Captain Dacres, then an admiral, gave Hull a dinner on his flagship, at Gibraltar, and told the ladies the story of his wife's Bible.
When "Old Ironsides" came sailing up the harbor, on the last day of August, what a rousing reception the people of Boston gave Captain Hull and his gallant men!
All the people of the town crowded the wharves or filled the windows and the housetops overlooking the bay. The streets were gay with bunting, and there was a grand dinner, with many patriotic speeches and deafening cheers.
In less than five months after her battle with the Guerrière, the Constitution had her hardest fight. It was with the Java, one of the best frigates in the British navy. Her commander, Captain Lambert, was said to be one of the ablest sailors that ever handled a war ship. The battle took place some thirty miles off the northeast coast of Brazil.
The Constitution was commanded by Captain William Bainbridge. Before this, he had done some feats of seamanship, but thus far in his career he had not been fortunate. As you remember, Captain Bainbridge, through no fault of his own, lost the Philadelphia off the harbor of Tripoli.
The battle began about two o'clock in the afternoon, with broadsides from both frigates.
Bainbridge was soon wounded in the hip by a musket ball; then the wheel was shattered, and a small copper bolt was driven into his thigh. Unwilling to leave the deck a moment, he had his wounds dressed while directing the battle.
Finding that he could not get near enough to the swift British frigate, Bainbridge boldly headed for the enemy. There was great risk of getting raked, but fortunately the Java's shots went wild.
|"Old Ironsides" bearing down on a British Man-of-War|
"Old Ironsides" was now within close range of the Java, and the fire of her heavy cannon soon left the British frigate dismasted and helpless. The British did not surrender, however, until every stick in the ship except a part of the mainmast had been cut away.
Captain Lambert was mortally injured, his first lieutenant severely hurt, and nearly fifty men were killed and more than one hundred wounded. "Old Ironsides" came out of the battle with every spar in place.
The wheel of the Java was removed and fitted on the Constitution, to replace the one which had been shot away.
A few years after the war, some British naval officers paid a visit to "Old Ironsides."
"You have a most perfect vessel," said one of them, "but I must say that you have a very ugly wheel for so beautiful a frigate."
"Yes," said the American captain to whom the remark was made, "it is ugly. We lost our wheel in fighting the Java, and after the battle we replaced it with her wheel, and somehow we have never felt like changing it."
Bainbridge was a great-hearted and heroic man. When he was told that Captain Lambert was mortally injured, he forgot his own wounds and had his men carry him to the blood-stained quarter-deck, where the British officer lay. He then put into the dying man's hand the sword he had just surrendered.
On Captain Bainbridge's return to Boston, another long procession marched up State Street, and another grand dinner was given. When he traveled by coach to Washington, the people along the route turned out in great crowds to honor the naval hero.
The Constitution fought her last battle off the Madeira Islands, on February 20, 1815, under the command of Captain Charles Stewart, one of the hardest fighters in the history of our navy.
"What shall I bring you for a present?" said Captain Stewart to his bride.
"A British frigate," promptly replied the patriotic young wife.
"I will bring you two," answered Stewart.
On the afternoon of February 20, two British men-of-war hove in sight. They proved to be the frigate Cyane and the sloop of war Levant.
"Old Ironsides" made all sail to overhaul them.
Stewart's superb seamanship in this sharp battle has excited the admiration of naval experts, even to our own day. It is generally admitted that no American ship was ever better handled. He raked one vessel and then the other, repeatedly. Neither of the enemy's war ships got in a single broadside.
Just forty minutes after Stewart's first fire, the Cyane surrendered. A full moon then rose in all its splendor, and the battle went stoutly on with the Levant. At ten o'clock, however, she, too, perfectly helpless, struck her colors.
"Old Ironsides'" last great battle was over. Singlehanded, she had fought two British war ships at one time and defeated them, and that, too, with only three men killed and twelve wounded. In less than three hours our stanch frigate was again in fighting trim.
With the exception of long periods of rest, "Old Ironsides" carried her country's flag with dignity and honor for forty years.
Her cruising days ended just before the outburst of the Civil War, in 1861, when she was taken to Newport, Rhode Island, to serve as a school-ship for the Naval Academy. Later, she was housed over, and used as a receiving ship at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In the fall of 1897, she was towed to the navy yard at Charlestown, to take part in her centennial celebration, October 21, 1897.
The old Constitution has been rebuilt in parts, and repaired many times; so that little remains of the original vessel except her keel and her floor frames. These huge pieces of her framework, hewn by hand from solid oak, are the same that thrilled with the shock of the old guns, before the granite forts of Tripoli. Over them floated the American flag and the pennants of Preble, Hull, Bainbridge, Decatur, Stewart, and many other gallant men, whose heroic deeds have shed luster on the American navy.
It is interesting to know that Commodore Stewart was the last survivor of the great captains of the war of 1812. He served his country faithfully for seventy-one years, and lived to be ninety-one. He died at his home, called "Old Ironsides," in New Jersey, in 1869.
The loss of a few frigates did not matter much to England, but the loss of her naval prestige in the war of 1812 was of importance to the whole world. For the first time, Europe realized that there was a new nation, which was able and willing to fight for its freedom on the ocean, as it had fought for its independence on land.
"Old Ironsides" still survives, a weather-beaten and battle-scarred hull, but a precious memorial of the nation's glory. She has earned a lasting place in the affections of the American people.
At the beginning of the last century, England was fighting for her very life against the mighty Napoleon. We remained neutral; but our ships were doing a fine business in carrying supplies to the two nations.
England, however, looked at us with a jealous eye, and was determined to prevent our trade with France. On the other hand, Napoleon was eager to shut us out from England.
Thus trouble arose. Both nations began to meddle with our commerce, and to capture and plunder our ships. What did they care for the rights of a feeble nation so long as each could cut off the other's supplies?
Great Britain, moreover, could not man her enormous navy. To get sailors, she overhauled our merchantmen on the high seas and carried men away to supply her war ships. In 1807, nearly two hundred of our merchantmen had been taken by the British, and fully as many more by the French. The time had come when we must either fight or give up our trade.
It was hard to know what was best to do. Some were for fighting both England and France at the same time.
Thomas Jefferson, who was President at this time, and James Madison, who followed him in 1809, were men of peace, and believed that the nation should keep out of war.
In 1811, however, the pent-up wrath of the people, roused by even greater insults, found relief in electing a "war" Congress. Then, through men like Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, President Madison yielded to popular feeling, and in June, 1812, war was declared with Great Britain.
It was a bold thing to do. England had thousands of well-seasoned troops, commanded by officers who had been trained by Wellington. Our regular army had less than seven thousand men, and our main dependence was upon the militia, who proved of little service. To meet England on the water, we had only six frigates and a dozen or more little craft. England had more than two hundred war ships larger than any of ours.
The war began, and was carried on, in a haphazard sort of way. Most of our land battles were inglorious enough; but the story of our naval battles is another thing. England, the "mistress of the seas," met with some unpleasant surprises. Out of fifteen naval contests, with equal forces, we won twelve. Never before had the British navy met with such defeats.
Early in the year 1814, Napoleon was driven into exile at Elba, and Europe was for a time free from war. England was now able to send larger fleets and more troops to our shores, and planned to capture New Orleans, the gateway to the commerce of the Mississippi. The hour of trial had indeed come for the fair Creole city.
New Orleans was foreign in character, having been joined to our republic by purchase, with little in common with our people except a bitter hatred for England.
In the last week of November, a great fleet with ten thousand veterans sailed across the Gulf of Mexico, in the direction of New Orleans. The troops, most of whom had just served in Spain, under the "Iron Duke," were held to be the best fighting men in the world.
The voyage seems to have been a kind of gala trip. The wives of many of the officers sailed with their husbands; and the time was spent in dancing, in musical and theatrical performances, and in other festivities.
So sure were the proud Britons of taking the Creole city that they brought officers to govern it.
On December 9, in the midst of a storm, the ships anchored off the delta of the Mississippi.
The British, having planned to approach New Orleans from the east, sent the lighter craft to cross Lake Borgne, some fifteen miles from the city.
Five American gunboats, commanded by a young officer named Jones, with less than two hundred men, were guarding the lake. The British landed twelve hundred marines. There was a sharp hand to hand fight for an hour, in which over three hundred of the British were killed or wounded. But it was twelve hundred against two hundred. Young Jones was severely wounded, and his gunboats were captured.
|On the Eve of the Battle, Spies Inform Jackson of the Enemy's Position|
It was now two days before Christmas. In a little dwelling house in Royal Street all was hurry and bustle. This was General Jackson's headquarters. Early in the afternoon, a young French officer, Major Villeré, had galloped to the door, with the word that an outpost on his father's plantation, twelve miles below New Orleans, had been surprised that morning by the British.
"The redcoats are marching in full force straight for the city," he said; "and if they keep on, they will reach here this very night."
"By the Eternal!" exclaimed Jackson. His eyes flashed, his reddish gray hair began to bristle, and he brought his fist down upon the table. "They shall not sleep upon our soil this night."
"Gentlemen," he continued to his officers and to the citizens round him, "the British are below; we must fight them to-night."
The great bell on the old cathedral of St. Louis begins to ring, cannon are fired three times to signify danger, and messengers ride to and fro in hot haste, with orders for the troops to take up their line of march.
The people of New Orleans had heard how the rough Britons dealt with the cities of Spain, and they knew well enough that the hated redcoats would treat their own loved city in like manner.
Jackson put every able-bodied man at work. It was a motley crowd. Creoles, Frenchmen, Spaniards, prison convicts, negroes, and even Lafitte, the far-famed "Pirate of the Gulf," and his crew of buccaneers, answered Jackson's call. The people cheerfully submitted to martial law. The streets resounded with "Yankee Doodle" and with "The Marseillaise" sung in English, French, and Spanish.
The backwoodsmen once more came to the front, as they had done at King's Mountain, thirty-five years before. The stern features of "Old Hickory" relaxed a bit at the sight of Colonel Carroll and his riflemen from Nashville. They arrived in flatboats on the same day that the British vanguard reached the river. Clad in coonskin caps and fringed leggins, and with their long rifles on their shoulders, these rough pioneers came tramping into the city. They were tall, gaunt fellows, with powder horns over their buckskin shirts, and with hunting knives in their belts.
Colonel Coffee, too, had come with his regiment of mounted riflemen, and was encamped five miles below the city.
Now Jackson knew that if he did not have time to throw up some earthworks, the city was likely to fall. In his usual fiery way, he made up his mind to attack the enemy that very night.
Meanwhile the British had built their camp fires along the levee, and were eating their supper. Not once did they think themselves in danger.
Soon after dark, a strange vessel, dropping quietly down the river, anchored within musket shot. Some of the redcoats thought it best to stir up the stranger, and so fired several times at her.
Suddenly a hoarse voice was heard, "Now give it to them, boys, for the honor of America!"
It was the Carolina, an American war schooner.
At once shot and shell rained on the British camp, killing or wounding at least a hundred men in ten minutes. The redcoats trampled out their camp fires, and fled behind the levee for shelter.
This was a rather warm reception, but it became a great deal warmer when Jackson charged into their camp. For two hours in the dark was fought a series of deadly hand to hand fights. The British used their bayonets, the riflemen their hunting knives.
At last, a thick fog from the river made it impossible to tell friend from foe. The redcoats retreated and found shelter behind the levee. The Americans fell back about three miles and camped.
This bold night attack cost the British five hundred in killed and wounded, and saved New Orleans from capture. Jackson had gained his point. He had dealt the enemy a sudden, stinging blow.
|General Jackson, nicknamed "Old Hickory"|
Christmas opened drearily enough for the invaders, but before night, to their great joy, Sir Edward Pakenham arrived from England, and took command. The British had now about ten thousand men, led by three veterans. Surely, it would be nothing but boy's play for the great Sir Edward to defeat the "backwoods general" and his motley army. On his return home, his reward was to be a peerage.
Pakenham went to work bright and early the next morning. Within two days, eleven cannon and a mortar were brought from the fleet, and mounted in a redoubt on the bank of the river. The battery at once began to throw red-hot shells at the two war vessels in the river. The little Carolina soon blew up, while the Louisiana was towed out of range and escaped.
The next morning, Sir Edward thought that by marching out his army he might get a look at the enemy. He was not disappointed, for after advancing nearly three miles, he stumbled on the Americans in good earnest.
No sooner were the British columns in sight than they were driven back by a brisk fire of shot and shell. Then followed a furious artillery duel. In vain the British pounded away with field pieces, rocket guns, and mortars; they were forced back by the cannon of the Americans.
The British commander now saw that he must lay regular siege to the American position.
Shortly after midnight, on New Year's morning, his men silently advanced to within three hundred yards of Jackson's first intrenchments, which were made of cotton bales, and threw up a redoubt of mud and hogsheads of sugar. When the fog lifted at ten o'clock, the Americans were surprised to see the British cannon frowning upon them.
The artillery began to roar. Jackson's cotton bales were soon burning. On the other hand, the Louisiana and a water battery did fine work with their raking fire, and soon blew the sugar barrels into thousands of pieces. The British guns were quickly silenced, and only the gallantry of the sailors from the war ships saved them from capture.
Sir Edward had boasted that he should pass this New Year's night in New Orleans; but his reception had been so warm that he was now forced to withdraw. Jackson had made it so lively for the invaders that they had been without sleep and food for nearly sixty hours.
The British admiral tried a grim joke by sending word to Sir Edward that, if he did not hurry and capture the city, he should land his marines and do up the job himself.
The British now decided to carry by storm the American lines on both sides of the river, and chose Sunday morning, January 8, for the attack.
Jackson gave himself and his men no rest, night or day. He had redoubts thrown up even to the city itself.
The main line of defense, over which not a single British soldier passed, except as prisoner, was a mud bank about a mile and a half long. In front of it was a ditch, or half choked canal, which ran from the river to an impassable cypress swamp on the left wing.
All Saturday night, January 7, was heard in the British camp the sound of pickax and shovel, the rumble of artillery, and the muffled tread of the regiments, as they marched to their several positions in the line of battle.
After a day of great fatigue, Jackson lay down upon a sofa to rest. At midnight, he looked at his watch and spoke to his aids.
"Gentlemen," he said, "we have slept long enough. The enemy will be upon us in a few moments."
Long before daylight, "Old Hickory" saw to it that every man was at his post. Leaning on their rifles, or grouped about the great guns, the men in silence saluted their beloved general, as he rode from post to post, in the thick fog of that long, wakeful night.
The lifting of the fog in the early light revealed the long scarlet lines of British veterans, in battle array. Surely it was only something to whet their appetites for breakfast, for such well-trained fighters to carry that low, mud earthwork.
The bugle sounded, and the red-coated grenadiers and the kilted Highlanders moved steadily forward in columns. Not a rifle cracked, but the cannon from the mud earthwork thundered furiously. Grape and solid shot tore long lanes through the advancing battalions.
General Gibbs led the attack on the left, which a deserter had told Pakenham was the weakest part of the earthwork. So it was; but on the day before the battle, Jackson had stationed there his Tennessee riflemen.
Nearer come the British regulars on the double-quick. The four lines of sturdy riflemen wait until three fourths of the distance is covered.
Suddenly the clear voice of General Carroll rings out, "Fire!"
A sheet of flame bursts from the earthwork. The advancing columns falter, stop, break, and run. Not a man reaches the redoubt.
It was said that an old thirty-two-pounder had been loaded to the muzzle with musket balls, the first volley of which killed or wounded two hundred of the enemy.
"Here comes the Ninety-Third! Rally on the Ninety-Third!" shouts Pakenham, as this splendid regiment of eight hundred kilted Highlanders advances amid the confusion.
The brave men now rally for another desperate charge.
"Hurrah, boys! the day is ours!" shouts Colonel Rennie, as he leads the attack on the right flank.
But the day is not theirs. A few officers and men actually get across the ditch, but every one of them is shot dead the moment his head shows over the earthwork. The wavering columns stagger and give way.
Sir Edward leaves General Lambert in command of the reserve, and, with generals Gibbs and Keane, now leads the assault. The mud earthwork again belches its sheets of flame, as the backwoods riflemen fire their death-dealing volleys. Again the proud columns give way.
"Forward, men, forward!" cries Pakenham, ordering the bugler to sound the charge.
A rifle ball carries away the bugle before a note is sounded.
"Order up the reserve!" shouts the British commander, and leads his men to another deadly charge.
A rifle bullet shatters his right leg, another kills his horse, and finally a third, fired by a negro, instantly kills him. Gibbs and Keane are both severely wounded. The officers in the brilliant uniforms are easy targets for the sharpshooters.
It is what Bunker Hill might have been if the patriots had had stronger breastworks and plenty of ammunition.
The eight hundred Highlanders, with pale faces but firm step, advance to the ditch, and, too proud to run, stand the fire until few more than a hundred are left. These slowly retire with their faces still toward the Americans.
The battle lasted only twenty-five minutes. During this time the American flag was kept flying near the middle of the line. A military band roused the troops. Just after the fight, Jackson and his staff in full uniform rode slowly along the lines. The wild uproar of that motley army was echoed by thousands of spectators, who with fear and trembling had watched the issue of the contest.
|General Jackson riding along the Lines, after the Battle|
In the final and decisive action on that Sunday morning, the British had about six thousand men, while Jackson had less than three thousand. Of the British, seven hundred were killed, fourteen hundred wounded, and five hundred taken prisoners. The Americans had only eight killed and fourteen wounded!
It was the most astonishing battle ever fought on this continent. There had never been a defeat so crushing, with a loss so small.
For a week or more, the British kept sullenly within their lines. Jackson clung to his intrenchments. He was a fearless fighter, but was unwilling to risk a battle with well-tried veterans in an open field. He kept up, however, a continual pounding with his big guns, and his mounted riflemen gave the redcoats no rest.
In about three weeks, General Lambert skillfully retreated to the ships, and, soon afterwards, the entire army sailed for England.
Such was the glorious but dreadful battle of New Orleans, the anniversary of which is still celebrated.
Honors fell thick and fast upon "Old Hickory." Fourteen years later, he became the seventh President of the United States.
The sad part of this astounding victory is that peace had been declared about two weeks before the battle was fought. A "cablegram," or even an ocean greyhound, could have saved the lives of many brave men.
When peace was made, nothing was said about impressing our sailors, or about the rights of our merchantmen. From that day to this, however, no American citizen has been forced to serve on a British war ship, and no American vessel has ever been searched on the high seas.
The war of 1812 was not fought in vain. The nations of the world saw that we would fight to maintain our rights. Best of all, perhaps, this war served to strengthen the feeling of nationality among our own people.
Rarely has the benefactor of a people been awarded such measure of gratitude as we gave Lafayette, in 1824. Eager crowds flocked into the cities and the villages to welcome this hero. Thousands of children, the boys in blue jackets and the girls in white dresses, scattered flowers before him. If you could get your grandfather or your grandmother to tell you of this visit, it would be as interesting as a storybook.
The conditions in the United States were just right for such an outburst of feeling. Everybody knew the story of the rich French nobleman, who, at the age of nineteen, had left friends, wife, home, and native land, to cast his lot with strange people, three thousand miles away, engaged in fighting for freedom.
It was not until after the battle of Bunker Hill that, at a grand dinner party, the young marquis heard of our struggle for independence. He knew neither our country nor our people, and he did not speak our language; but his sympathies were at once awakened, and he made up his mind to fight for us.
In the spring of 1777, at his own expense, he bought and fitted out a vessel with military supplies, and sailed for America. Seven weeks later, he landed in South Carolina, and at once went to Philadelphia to offer his services to Congress.
He wrote a note to a member of Congress, in which he said, "After the sacrifices I have made, I have the right to exact two favors; one is, to serve at my own expense, the other, to serve as a volunteer."
These manly words and the striking appearance of the young Frenchman, together with letters from Benjamin Franklin, had their effect. His services were accepted, and he was made a major general.
For seven years Lafayette served Washington as an aid and a personal friend. His deep sympathy, his generous conduct, and his gracious ways won all hearts, from the stately Washington to the humblest soldier. Personal bravery on the battlefield at once gained fame for him as a soldier, and made him one of the heroes of the hour. His example worked wonders in getting the best young men of the country to enlist in the army.
During the fearful winter at Valley Forge, the young nobleman suddenly changed his manner of living. Used to ease and personal comforts, he became even more frugal and self-denying than the half-starved and half-frozen soldiers. How different it must have been from the gayeties and the luxuries of the French court of the winter before!
The battle of Monmouth was fought on a hot Sunday in June, 1778. From four o'clock in the morning until dusk, Lafayette fought like a hero. Late at night, when the battle was over, he and Washington lay upon the same cloak, under a tree, and talked over the strange events of the day until they fell asleep.
After the battle of Monmouth, Lafayette went back to France to visit his family, and to plead the cause of his adopted country. He was kindly received at court.
"Tell us all the good news about our dearly-beloved Americans," begged the queen.
To the king, Lafayette spoke plainly: "The money that you spend, Sire, on one of your court balls would go far towards sending an army to the colonies in America, and dealing England a blow where she would most feel it."
In the spring of 1780, Lafayette returned to America with the French king's pledge of help.
At the close of the Revolution, the gallant young marquis went back to France, the hero of his nation, but his interest in America never grew less. When the treaty of peace was signed at Paris, he hired a vessel and hurried it across the ocean, with the good news.
|Lafayette's Visit to Washington at Mount Vernon, in 1784|
In 1784, the year after peace was declared, Lafayette visited this country for the third time. He made Washington a long visit at Mount Vernon, went over the old battlefields, and met his old comrades.
In 1824, it was known that Lafayette, now an old man, longed to visit once more the American people and the scenes he loved so well. Congress at once requested President Monroe to invite him as the nation's guest.
Forty years had wrought a marvelous change in America. The thirteen colonies, in whose cause the young Frenchman came over the sea, had been united into a nation of twenty-four states. The experiment of laying the foundation of a great republic had proved successful. The problem of self-government had been solved.
The United States had taken its place among the great nations of the world,—a republic of twelve millions of prosperous and happy people. Towns and cities had sprung up like magic. The tide of immigration had taken possession of mountain and valley of what was then the far West.
The people of the young nation were still rejoicing over the glorious victories of Hull, Decatur, Bainbridge, Perry, and other heroes of the sea. Less than ten years before, General Jackson had won his great victory at New Orleans.
Time had dealt heavily with the great generals of the Revolution. Washington had been laid away in the tomb at Mount Vernon, twenty-five years before. Greene, Wayne, Marion, Morgan, Schuyler, Knox, and Lincoln were all dead. Stark had died only two years before. Sumter was still living. Lafayette was the last surviving major general of the Revolution.
The people of this country were familiar with Lafayette's remarkable history since he had left America. They had heard of his lifelong struggle against tyranny in his native land. They knew him as the gallant knight who had dealt hard blows in the cause of freedom. They cared little about the turmoils of French politics, but knew that this champion of liberty had been for five years in an Austrian dungeon.
Do you wonder that the grateful people of the sturdy young republic were eager to receive him as their guest?
In company with his son, George Washington Lafayette, and his private secretary, Lafayette landed at Staten Island, New York, on Sunday, August 15, 1824. He spent the night at the house of Vice President Tompkins. The next day, six thousand citizens came, in a grand procession of gayly decked vessels, to escort the national guest to the city. The cannon from the forts and from the men-of-war boomed a welcome, while two hundred thousand people cheered themselves hoarse.
Within a few days Lafayette went to Washington, and was formally received as the nation's guest by President Monroe, at the White House.
|President Monroe, who received the Nation's Guest|
As our guest now enters upon an unbroken series of receptions and triumphal ovations in the twenty-four states of the Union, let us take a glimpse at his personal appearance.
Lafayette was tall, rather stout, and had a large head. His face was oval and regular, with a high forehead. His complexion was light, and his cheeks were red. He had a long nose, and well-arched eyebrows overhanging grayish blue eyes. He had lost his hair in the Austrian prison, and in its place wore a curly, reddish brown wig, set low upon his forehead, thus concealing the heavy wrinkles upon his brow.
"Time has much changed us, for then we were young and active," said Lafayette to his old friend, the famous Indian chief Red Jacket, whom he met at Buffalo.
"Alas!" said the aged warrior, who did not suspect the finely made French wig, "time has left my white brother red cheeks and a head covered with hair; but for me,—look!" and, untying the handkerchief that covered his head, the old chieftain showed with a grim smile that he was entirely bald.
The veteran soldiers of the Revolution said they could not see any resemblance to their youthful hero of nearly half a century before. He was always a plain-looking, if not a homely man, but his smile was magnetic, his face singularly attractive, and his manner full of sweet and gracious courtesy. To the people of the Revolution he was always known as "the young marquis."
Lafayette remained in New York four days; but, having promised to attend the graduating exercises at Harvard College, he was forced to hasten to Boston. The trip was made by a relay of carriages, with a large civic and military escort.
Although the party traveled from five o'clock in the morning until midnight, it took five days to reach the city. Every village along the route had its triumphal arch, trimmed with flowers and patriotic mottoes. People came for many miles round, to welcome the great man and his party. At night the long file of carriages was escorted by men on horseback, carrying torches. Cannon were fired and church bells rung, all along the route; while, after dark, huge bonfires were lighted on the hilltops and on every village green.
When Lafayette appeared, there was wild excitement in the staid city of Boston. He rode in an open barouche drawn by six white horses; and was escorted by companies of militia, and by twelve hundred mounted tradesmen, clad in white frocks.
It seems that Dr. Bowditch, the famous mathematician, a man too dignified to smile on ordinary occasions, was caught in the crowd that was waiting for Lafayette. He walked up a flight of steps, that he might with proper dignity let the crowd pass. At the sight of the famous Frenchman, he seemed to lose his senses; for in an instant he was in the front ranks of the crowd, trying to shake hands with the honored guest, and shouting with all his might.
On this trip Lafayette went east as far as Portsmouth, New Hampshire. His tour was then directed by way of Worcester, Hartford, and the familiar scenes of the Hudson, to the South and the Southwest, where he visited all the large cities. From New Orleans, he ascended the Mississippi and the Ohio. He then crossed Lake Erie, and, passing through the state of New York and the old Bay State, visited Portland, Maine. Returning by Lake Champlain and the Hudson, he reached New York in time for the magnificent celebration of the Fourth of July, 1825. The tour was brought to an end in September, by a visit to the national capital.
Lafayette's journey through the country lasted for more than a year, and was one unbroken ovation. Towns and cities all over the land vied with each other in paying him honor. It was one long series of public dinners, patriotic speeches, bonfires, flower-decked arches, processions of school children, and brilliant balls.
The old veterans who had fought under Washington eagerly put on their faded uniforms, and found themselves the heroes of the hour, as they fought their battles over again to crowds of eager listeners. In fact, Lafayette's interviews with the old soldiers and the few surviving officers appear to have been the most interesting and the most pathetic features of the whole journey.
A few weeks after his arrival in this country, Lafayette went to Yorktown, to celebrate the anniversary of that notable victory. He was entertained in the house which had been the headquarters of Cornwallis, forty-three years before. A single bed was found for the marquis; but the little village was so crowded that the governor of Virginia and the great officers of the state were forced to camp on straw spread on the floor.
A big box of candles, which once belonged to Cornwallis's supplies, was found in good order in the cellar. They were lighted and arranged in the middle of the camp, where the ladies and the soldiers danced.
The next day, Lafayette received his callers in the large Washington tent, which had been brought from Mount Vernon for this purpose. Branches cut from a fine laurel in front of the Nelson house were woven into a crown, and placed on the head of the honored guest.
Lafayette at once took it off, and, putting it on the head of his old comrade, Colonel Nicholas Fish, who helped him carry the redoubt at Yorktown, said, "Take it; this wreath belongs to you also; keep it as a deposit for which we must account to our comrades."
"Nick," said Lafayette at another time to this aged man, as the two old friends sailed up the Hudson, "do you remember when we used to slide down that hill with the Newburgh girls, on an ox sled?"
On the trip through the Southwest, one of the grandest ovations took place at Nashville, Tennessee. General Jackson, the hero of New Orleans, with forty veterans of the Revolution, and thousands of people from far and near, gave their guest a rousing welcome.
One old German veteran, who came over with Lafayette in 1777, and who served with him during the whole war, traveled a hundred and fifty miles over the mountains to reach Nashville.
As he threw himself into his general's arms, he exclaimed, "I have seen you once again; I have nothing more to wish for; I have lived long enough."
In the grand procession at New Orleans, one hundred Choctaw Indians marched in single file. They had been in camp near the city for a month, that they might be on hand to see "the great warrior," "the brother of their great father Washington."
It would fill a good-sized book to tell you all the incidents and the courtesies that marked this triumphal tour.
At Hartford, Connecticut, eight hundred school children, who had saved their pennies, gave Lafayette a gold medal, and a hundred veterans of the Revolution escorted him through the city to the boat.
When the grand cavalcade reached Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the rain came down in torrents, but a thousand school children, crowned with flowers, lined the road to greet the far-famed man, and not one left the ranks.
In New York City, there was a firemen's parade with nearly fifty hand engines, each drawn by thirty red-shirted men. A sham house was built and set on fire; then, at the captain's signal, the firemen leaped to the brakes and showed their foreign guest how fire was put out in America.
Sixty Boston boys, from twelve to fourteen years of age, formed a flying artillery company, and, keeping just ahead of the long procession, fired salute after salute as the party neared the city.
While in Boston, Lafayette rode out to Quincy one Sunday, to pay a visit of respect to the venerable John Adams, and dine with him. He was astonished to find this noted man and ex-President of the United States living in a one-story frame house. Although the old statesman was so feeble that his grandchildren had to put the food into his mouth, Lafayette said "he kept up the conversation on the old times with an ease and readiness of memory which made us forget his eighty-nine years."
One beautiful night while Lafayette was the guest of Philadelphia, the whole city was illuminated in his honor. Forty thousand strangers flocked into town for the night. The next morning the mayor called upon the distinguished guest, and told him that although it was "a night of joyous and popular effervescence," perfect order prevailed, and not a single arrest was made.
A word was coined to express this flood tide of popular homage, and, for many years afterwards, whenever special honors were paid to anybody, he was said to be "Lafayetted."
|Lafayette's Reception at a Roadside Tavern in Virginia|
A touching incident shows the spirit of gratitude which seemed to seize even the humblest of citizens, in trying to please the nation's guest. The party stopped at a small tavern on a byroad in Virginia, to rest the horses. The landlord came out and begged Lafayette to come into his house, if only for five minutes. The marquis, with his usual courtesy, yielded to the request, and entered.
The plain but neat living room was trimmed with fir trees, and upon its whitewashed wall was written, in charcoal, "Welcome, Lafayette." On a small table was a bottle of strong drink, with glasses, as was the custom in those days. There was also a plate of thin slices of bread, all neatly covered with a napkin. The landlord introduced his wife, and brought in his little five-year old boy. The food was served, and the health of the guest was drunk.
The speech for the occasion was recited by the boy: "General Lafayette, I thank you for the liberty which you have won for my father, for my mother, for myself, and for my country."
Lafayette was much moved by the sincerity of it all; and after kissing the boy and getting into his carriage, he said, with tears in his eyes, that it was one of the happiest moments of his life.
While on his way to Yorktown, in October, Lafayette paid a visit to Mount Vernon. Again he passed through the rooms and over the grounds with which he was so familiar. What memories of its owner, his great and faithful friend for twenty-two years, must have crowded upon the old hero!
The remains of Washington then lay in the old tomb near the river. The door was opened, and Lafayette went down into the vault, where he remained some moments beside the coffin of his great chief. He came out with his head bowed, and with tears streaming down his face. He then led his son into the tomb, where they knelt reverently, and, after the French fashion, kissed the coffin.
|Bunker Hill Monument|
Meanwhile, the fiftieth anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill was near at hand. The prosperous and happy people of the old Bay State were preparing a celebration. The corner stone of Bunker Hill Monument was to be laid by Lafayette.
The weather on this memorable June day was perfect. Never before had such a crowd been seen in Boston.
A Yankee stage driver very aptly said, "Everything that had wheels and everything that had legs used them to get to Boston."
Through the densely crowded streets, a grand civic and military procession of seven thousand people escorted the guests to Bunker Hill.
As one famous man said, "It seemed as if no spot where a human foot could plant itself was left unoccupied."
Two hundred officers and soldiers of the Revolution marched at the head of the procession. One old man, who had been a drummer in the battle of Bunker Hill, carried the same drum with which he had rallied the patriot forces.
How they shouted when the hero of the day came riding slowly along, in an open barouche drawn by six white horses! The women waved their handkerchiefs and the gayly decked school children scattered flowers.
How thrilling it was to see those forty white-haired men, the survivors of Bunker Hill!
|Lafayette's Reception, in Boston, to the Veterans of the Revolution|
During the morning, these honored heroes had been presented to Lafayette. He had shaken hands with them, had called them by name, and had spoken a few tender words to each of them, as if to some dear friend.
Not a field officer or a staff officer of the battle was living. Captain Clark, the highest surviving officer, came tottering along under the weight of ninety-five years, to shake hands with the French nobleman.
The young man who introduced the veterans, and who in after years became one of the most honored citizens and mayors of Boston, said of this occasion, "If there were dry eyes in the room, mine were not among them."
What a scene it was for an historical picture, when the brave old minister, the Reverend Joseph Thaxter, who was chaplain of Colonel Prescott's regiment, rose to offer prayer and to give the benediction! As his feeble voice was lifted to ask for the blessing of God, it did not seem possible that fifty years before, on the same spot, this man had stood and prayed for the patriot cause.
Daniel Webster was the orator of the day. A famous Englishman once said that no man could be as great as Webster looked, and on this day the majestic orator seemed to tower above all other men.
Every American schoolboy who has had "to speak his piece" knows by heart the famous passage from this oration, beginning, "Venerable men! you have come down to us from a former generation. Heaven has bounteously lengthened out your lives, that you might behold this joyous day."
Mr. Webster's voice was in such good order that fifteen thousand people are said to have been able to hear him.
At the banquet during the same evening, the great orator said, "I shall never desire to behold again the awful spectacle of so many human faces all turned towards me."
Near the end, Lafayette visited Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. The veteran statesman, now eighty-one years old, drove his old-time friend and guest over to a grand banquet at the University of Virginia. James Madison was present. When the students and the great crowd of people saw Washington's friend seated between the two aged statesmen, a shout went up, the like of which, it was said, was never before heard in the Old Dominion.
When Lafayette arrived in America, in August, 1824, he first visited the national capital, and was formally received at the White House by President Monroe and by many of the great men of the country. On his return to Washington in 1825, he was told that Congress had voted him two hundred thousand dollars and two large tracts of land, for his services during the Revolution.
It was now September, and Lafayette had remained in this country much longer than he had expected. The new President, John Quincy Adams, gave him a farewell dinner at the White House, with a large party of notable men. The President's formal farewell to the country's guest is a classic in our literature.
Amid the blessings and the prayers of a grateful people, Lafayette sailed for France in the new and beautiful frigate Brandywine, which had been built and named in his honor.
For years afterwards, some people used to tell their children, with a peculiar thrill and feeling of awe, that a beautiful rainbow arched the heavens just before Lafayette landed at Staten Island, and that an equally beautiful symbol of peace spanned the broad ocean, as the steamboat moved slowly down Chesapeake Bay, to take the nation's guest on board the Brandywine.
1. Who was Daniel Boone?
2. When did Boone live?
3. How old was George Rogers Clark at this time?
4. Was Clark brave?
5. Why were the pioneers so long in hearing of the battle of Lexington, which was fought in April?
6. How did Lexington, Kentucky, get its name?
7. What kind of life did the pioneers lead in the wilderness?
8. Did the pioneers have other enemies besides the Indians?
9. Why did Clark go back to Virginia?
10. Who lived north of the Ohio?
11. Why did England try to keep the Americans from going west?
12. Who was Hamilton the "hair buyer"?
13. What made the Indians so hostile to the pioneers?
14. How did Clark plan to defend Kentucky?
15. Where was the Illinois country?
16. Why did Clark go back a second time to Virginia?
17. Did anybody think well of Clark's plan of campaign?
18. How much of an army did Clark have for his campaign?
19. Where did Clark plan to begin his campaign?
20. Why did Clark avoid the Mississippi River?
21. Whom did Clark have as guides?
22. How long a march was it to Kaskaskia?
23. What time of year was it when Clark marched to Kaskaskia?
24. Did Clark have trouble in getting into the town of Kaskaskia?
25. What were the people of Kaskaskia doing?
26. How did Clark introduce himself?
27. Who were the Creoles? (Consult a large dictionary.)
28. Who helped Clark make friends?
29. What sort of man was Clark?
30. What did Hamilton do when he heard of Clark's conquest?
31. Why did not Hamilton march from Vincennes to Kaskaskia?
32. Why did Clark decide to push on to Vincennes?
33. At what time of year did Clark start for Vincennes?
34. What did the little army have for food?
35. What hindered Clark's march?
36. How long did it take to cross the plain of the Wabash River?
37. What is a dugout?
38. How did the army get along in crossing the Horseshoe Plain?
39. Who announced Clark's arrival at Vincennes?
40. At what time did Clark reach the village?
41. Why did not Clark allow his men to storm the fort?
42. How did Clark get possession of the fort?
43. Why was Clark's campaign so important?
44. What states are now in this region of Clark's conquest?
45. Do you think Clark was a hero?
1. Who led the patriots to victory at Saratoga, New York?
2. Why did Arnold's leg deserve to be buried with the honors of war?
3. When the Revolution began, why did Washington wish to attack Canada?
4. Why did Washington like Benedict Arnold?
5. How had Arnold got information about Canada?
6. How did Arnold try to make friends of the Indians?
7. What is wampum?
8. How was the expedition to reach Canada?
9. Why was it easy to get soldiers for this campaign?
10. What time of year was it when the army started?
11. How were the soldiers treated at Newburyport and at Fort Western?
12. Who was Jacataqua?
13. Why did Jacataqua decide to go with the troops?
14. How was the army divided?
15. What trouble did they have with their boats?
16. What is a carrying place?
17. What made the army diminish in numbers?
18. Why was it so hard to reach the Dead River?
19. Why was the ascent of the Dead River so difficult?
20. How many cups of flour in half a pint?
21. What sort of patriot was Colonel Enos?
22. When the flour was gone, what did the army do for food?
23. What did Jacataqua do?
24. What did Arnold do to save his army?
25. What sort of man was Arnold at this time?
26. How far did Arnold have to go to get provisions?
27. When did the army reach Point Levi?
28. What was the condition of the army when it reached Point Levi?
29. What did the Indians do who learned of Arnold's approach?
30. How did Arnold reach the city of Quebec?
31. How did the British treat Arnold and his men?
32. Why did Arnold leave Quebec?
33. What did Sir Guy Carleton do to save Quebec?
34. Why did the patriots wait so long before attacking the city?
35. How was the attack to be made?
36. What happened to Montgomery, Arnold, and Morgan?
37. How did relief finally come to Quebec?
38. How long had this campaign lasted?
1. Why did the British destroy Norfolk?
2. Why did England wish to punish North Carolina first of all?
3. Why did Sir Henry Clinton delay the attack upon North Carolina?
4. Why did Lord Campbell wish to capture Charleston?
5. What sort of people were the South Carolinians?
6. Why was a fort built on Sullivan's Island?
7. Who was Moultrie?
8. How were the walls of the fort made?
9. How many cannon did Moultrie have?
10. What made the patriots skillful in firing the cannon?
11. What was the difference between General Charles Lee and Governor Rutledge?
12. What sort of man was Colonel Moultrie?
13. How did the British plan to attack the fort?
14. How was the weather on the day of the battle?
15. How many cannon were the British able to fire at one time?
16. What happened to the men-of-war when they were changing their positions?
17. What sort of men were in the palmetto fort?
18. Do you know a good use for palmetto logs?
19. What share in the battle did Sir Henry Clinton and his men have?
20. Did the patriots have plenty of powder?
21. What did McDaniel think about when he was dying?
22. Why did the people of Charleston suppose the fort had surrendered?
23. What did Jasper do to save the flag?
24. Why did not Jasper accept promotion?
25. The people of South Carolina decreed that the fort on Sullivan's Island should forever be called Fort Moultrie. Why do you think they did so?
26. What was the effect of Moultrie's victory?
27. What can you say of Moultrie's after life?
1. What condition of affairs was troubling Washington at this time?
2. Were the British well situated at this time?
3. Why did Washington withdraw from New York?
4. What did Washington think should be done?
5. What kind of man was needed to carry out Washington's plan?
6. Why did Knowlton find it hard to get a man for Washington's purpose?
7. What reason did Nathan Hale give for volunteering to act as spy?
8. What kind of home did Hale have?
9. What kind of boy had Hale been?
10. What was Hale doing at the time of the battle of Lexington?
11. What did Hale do when he learned of the battle of Lexington?
12. What kind of life did Hale lead when captain in the army?
13. How did Hale disguise himself?
14. What sort of place was "The Cedars"?
15. Was it wise for Hale to spend the night at "Mother Chick's" tavern?
16. What did the British marines do with Hale?
17. Where did the captain of the Halifax send Hale?
18. Did Hale receive a trial?
19. What do you think of Cunningham?
20. What regret did Hale have?
21. How was Hale executed?
22. Where was Hale buried?
23. Was Hale a patriot?
24. Would you call Hale a hero?
1. Whom do you consider our greatest patriot?
2. What kind of example has Washington set us?
3. Why do we admire Washington?
4. What was Washington's appearance?
5. What do you know of Washington's strength?
6. What was Washington's favorite amusement?
7. What can you say of Washington's dignity?
8. What was Washington's diet?
9. What do you know of Washington's fondness for fine dress?
10. What can you say of Washington's education?
11. What kind of horseman was Washington?
12. How wealthy was Washington?
13. How did Washington become so wealthy?
14. How much land did Washington have?
15. What did Washington think of slaves?
16. How did Washington treat his slaves?
17. How did Washington's slaves treat him?
18. Why did Washington call his house "a well resorted tavern"?
19. What can you say of Washington's charity?
20. What kept Washington from financial ruin?
21. How did Washington look when at the meeting at Newburgh, New York?
22. How was the first President of the United States dressed when he made his formal visit to Congress?
23. What can you say of Washington's gravity?
24. What do you know of President Washington's public receptions?
25. How did the guests enjoy President Washington's grand dinners?
26. In what did Washington's greatness consist?
1. What sort of general was Washington?
2. What did General Clinton think of Washington?
3. What part of the country did Washington need to protect?
4. What did the British do in May, 1779?
5. Why was it important for the Americans to have possession of King's Ferry?
6. Where did the patriot army now take up its quarters?
7. How did the British soldiers act in Connecticut?
8. Why did General Clinton send out raiders?
9. Why did not Washington follow up Clinton's raiders?
10. What did Washington decide to do?
11. What kind of place was Stony Point?
12. Who had possession of Stony Point?
13. How was Stony Point defended?
14. How many soldiers were in the garrison at Stony Point?
15. What does Washington Irving say of Stony Point?
16. What name did the British give to Stony Point?
17. Who led the attack on Stony Point?
18. How old was General Anthony Wayne at this time?
19. How did Wayne look?
20. Why was Wayne called "Mad Anthony"?
21. What sort of soldier was Anthony Wayne?
22. What was Washington's plan of attack?
23. At what hour was the attack to be made?
24. What weapons were to be used in attacking Stony Point?
25. How many men were chosen to go to Stony Point?
26. What time of year was it now?
27. Why was the soldier put to death for loading his gun?
28. What sort of road was it to Stony Point?
29. When did the men learn where they were going?
30. What was the watchword?
31. What did Wayne write to his friend?
32. What did Pompey do?
33. How did Wayne divide his army to make the attack?
34. What is a "forlorn hope"? (Consult a large dictionary.)
35. How did the Americans show their good discipline?
36. What are pioneers? (Consult a large dictionary.)
37. What was the effect of having Colonel Murfree and his men appear in front of the fort?
38. How long did the fight last?
39. How many of the British escaped from Stony Point?
40. Why did not Washington hold Stony Point?
41. What effect did this victory have on the American soldier?
42. What did the British think of the "rebels"?
43. How did General Clinton take it all?
1. How did the patriots of the South get on in 1780?
2. What have we already learned about Sir Henry Clinton? (See the Index.)
3. What were General Gates's "Northern laurels"? (See Chapter II.)
4. What sort of man was Gates? (Compare Chapter VIII.)
5. What effect did the crushing blows of the British have on the Southern patriots?
6. What orders did Tarleton and Ferguson receive from Lord Cornwallis?
7. What sort of man was Ferguson?
8. What threat did Ferguson send to the backwoodsmen?
9. What was the character of the Franklin and Holston settlers?
10. What is the name of the state that grew out of the Franklin and Holston settlements?
11. What have we already learned about the Holston settlements? (See Chapter I.)
12. What had become of the lawless men of the Franklin and Holston settlements?
13. What did the people do when they heard Ferguson's threat?
14. Where was the money got to buy supplies for the army?
15. What do you know of the gathering at Sycamore Shoals?
16. How were the backwoodsmen dressed?
17. What arms did the backwoodsmen have?
18. Who was Samuel Doak?
19. Why were the bands of pioneers put under one supreme commander?
20. Why did the backwoodsmen not find Ferguson at Gilberttown?
21. What kind of spirit did the pioneers show in their pursuit of Ferguson?
22. How far away were the patriots when Ferguson camped at King's Mountain?
23. Why did Ferguson choose King's Mountain for his camp?
24. How long were the riflemen in getting from Cowpens to King's Mountain?
25. What was the riflemen's plan of attack?
26. How was Ferguson killed?
27. Who succeeded Ferguson in command?
28. Why was this battle so fierce?
29. What was the effect of the victory at King's Mountain?
1. What have we already learned of Gates? (See the Index.)
2. Where was Daniel Morgan's home?
3. What kind of education did Morgan have?
4. Why was Morgan well thought of by the village people?
5. What kind of times were at hand?
6. Why did Morgan wish to fight the bully?
7. What is a drumhead court-martial? (Consult a large dictionary.)
8. What do you know of Morgan's strength?
9. Why did Morgan stop driving army wagons?
10. Why did Governor Dinwiddie object to promoting Morgan?
11. How did Morgan escape from the Indian?
12. What effect did the army life have on Morgan?
13. What can you say of Morgan's marriage?
14. What do you know of Morgan's religious life?
15. When was Morgan appointed captain?
16. How many men answered Morgan's call?
17. How long a march was it to Boston?
18. When was Morgan made a colonel?
19. What kind of regiment did Morgan command?
20. What was the duty of Morgan and his sharpshooters?
21. What have we already learned about Morgan at Saratoga, New York? (See Chapter II.)
22. How did the Hessians like Morgan's riflemen?
23. What did Burgoyne think of Morgan's regiment?
24. Why did Morgan leave the army for a while?
25. Why did Morgan return to the army?
26. When was Morgan made a brigadier general?
27. What do you remember about King's Mountain? (See the last half of Chapter VII.)
28. Why did the battle of Cowpens make Morgan so famous?
29. What does John Fiske say of this battle?
30. What do you know of Colonel Tarleton? (See Chapter VII.)
31. Where did Morgan get the names "old wagoner," "wagoner," and "teamster"? (See earlier in this chapter.)
32. Why did not Morgan meet Tarleton at once?
33. Why did Morgan choose Cowpens for his battle ground?
34. What did Tarleton do when the spy told him that Morgan had halted?
35. What was the condition of Morgan and his men when Tarleton appeared?
36. What was the condition of Tarleton's soldiers when they began the battle?
37. What did Tarleton do when defeat came?
38. What did the young ladies say to Tarleton?
39. How did Morgan outwit Lord Cornwallis?
40. Why did Morgan again retire from service?
41. When did Morgan again take part in the war?
42. What do you know about Wayne? (See Chapter VI.)
43. How was Morgan remembered by Washington and other leaders?
44. In how many battles did Morgan take part?
45. What was Morgan besides being a great soldier?
46. What was Morgan's success due to?
47. How is Morgan's valor commemorated?
1. What have you already learned about General Greene? (See Chapter VIII.)
2. What was the condition of Lord Cornwallis after his victory over Greene?
3. What did Cornwallis now do?
4. Where is Petersburg, Virginia? (See the map in Chapter VII.)
5. What was the nationality of Lafayette?
6. Where is Yorktown? (See the map in Chapter VII.)
7. Where was Washington at this time?
8. Where was the main part of the patriot army at this time?
9. What was Washington planning to do?
10. Who was Count de Grasse?
11. Why did news travel so slowly in those days?
12. Why did Washington need a fleet?
13. What did Washington hope to do with the assistance of the French fleet?
14. Where was Sir Henry Clinton at this time?
15. Why did Washington send troops to Long Island?
16. Why was the young minister sent through the Clove?
17. How were the Continental and French troops received at Philadelphia?
18. How large an army did Washington have in Virginia?
19. What have we already learned of Rochambeau? (See earlier in this chapter.)
20. When did Sir Henry Clinton begin to open his eyes?
21. How did the British fleet fare at Chesapeake Bay?
22. Why did not Lord Cornwallis retreat from Yorktown?
23. Why did the patriots hasten the siege of Yorktown?
24. What last attempt did Lord Cornwallis make?
25. Where did Lord Cornwallis have his headquarters?
26. What kind of man was Governor Nelson?
27. Where did Lord Cornwallis finally make his headquarters?
28. What message did Sir Henry Clinton send Lord Cornwallis?
29. How long did the siege of Yorktown continue?
30. Why did Lord Cornwallis wish a truce for so long a time?
31. What was Washington's reply to Lord Cornwallis?
32. How many soldiers were there in Cornwallis's army?
33. Why did not Cornwallis take part in the surrender?
34. Whom did Washington send to receive Cornwallis's sword?
35. Why did the armies hurry away from Yorktown?
36. How might Sir Henry Clinton have changed the history of Yorktown?
37. How did the people get news of the surrender?
38. How was the news received by the prime minister of England, and by the king?
39. What did King George say of the Yankees?
40. How is the surrender of Cornwallis commemorated?
1. What battle began the war of the Revolution? (See Chapter I.)
2. How long did the war last?
3. What did Thomas Paine, the author of the pamphlet called "Common Sense," say of the Revolutionary War?
4. What does John Fiske say of our condition after peace was made?
5. Why did the colonies band together in 1774?
6. Why did the Continental Congress decline in power?
7. What is a federation? (Consult a large dictionary.)
8. Why did the people care so little about a federation, or federal government?
9. What did Washington say in his letter to the colonies?
10. What authority did the Continental Congress have?
11. What kind of men were delegates to the Continental Congress?
12. How long did the Continental Congress continue to act?
13. What was done by the Continental Congress?
14. What is a privateer? (Consult a large dictionary.)
15. What can you say of the Articles of Confederation?
16. What power did the Articles of Confederation grant to each state?
17. What power did Congress have under the Articles of Confederation?
18. How obedient were the states to the Articles of Confederation?
19. What was the condition of paper money in 1780?
20. How long had a soldier to serve before he could buy a bushel of wheat?
21. How did the states begin to treat each other?
22. What can you say of imprisonment for debt?
23. How did Washington and others begin to work out the problem of our national existence?
24. How successful was the meeting at Annapolis?
25. What further troubles occurred in 1786?
26. How was England affected by our troubles?
27. What prediction about our nation was made in Parliament?
28. What opinion of us did Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, have?
29. What did the people of the several states at last begin to think?
30. What state took the lead in sending delegates to Philadelphia?
31. How many states were represented at Philadelphia?
32. What kind of men were sent to the Philadelphia convention?
33. Who, next to Washington, was the most noted man at the Philadelphia convention?
34. Can you name some others of the delegates to the Philadelphia convention?
35. Why did not Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Patrick Henry, and Samuel Adams attend the Philadelphia convention?
36. What do you know of Nathanael Greene? (See Chapter VIII.)
37. Who was chosen president of the Philadelphia convention?
38. How long did the Philadelphia convention continue in session?
39. How did some of the delegates wish to deal with the great problem of the national government?
40. How did Washington convince the delegates of their duty?
41. By what means did the delegates at Philadelphia succeed in agreeing on a form of federal government?
42. What is a compromise? (Consult a large dictionary.)
43. What was the first compromise in framing the Constitution?
44. What was the second compromise in framing the Constitution?
45. What question about the slaves arose?
46. How was it decided to count the slaves?
47. How did Washington and others feel about the second compromise?
48. What was the cause of the third compromise?
49. What was the third compromise?
50. What did Washington think of the Constitution?
51. What was Franklin's opinion of the Constitution?
52. When was the Constitution to become law?
53. To what two political parties did the Constitution give rise?
54. What did many of the people throughout the country think of the Constitution?
55. Which was the first state to sign the Constitution?
56. Why was the Fourth of July in 1788 so glorious?
57. Who was the first President, and who the first Vice President, of the new nation?
58. What did Gladstone say of the Constitution?
59. Why do we owe such a debt of gratitude to the builders of "the good ship Constitution"?
1. Who were the Barbary pirates?
2. Why did we buy the good will of the Barbary pirates?
3. What is blackmail? (Consult a large dictionary.)
4. What did Thomas Jefferson think should be done concerning the Barbary pirates?
5. Who was sent to the Mediterranean Sea?
6. What was the exploit of the Enterprise?
7. What is a pasha? (Consult a large dictionary.)
8. What happened to the frigate Philadelphia and her crew?
9. What did Commodore Preble do when the Philadelphia was captured?
10. Why was Stephen Decatur chosen to destroy the Philadelphia?
11. What was Decatur's plan for destroying the Philadelphia?
12. What is a ketch? (Consult a large dictionary.)
13. How many men volunteered for the dangerous undertaking?
14. What kind of time did Decatur and his men have off the shore of Tripoli?
15. What happened to the Siren?
16. How was the Philadelphia guarded?
17. What was the object in dragging sails and buckets in the water?
18. How did Decatur deceive the pirate officer?
19. How did the pirates discover the Americans?
20. What kind of fighters were the Tripolitan pirates said to be?
21. How long did the fight on board the Philadelphia last?
22. How many of Decatur's men were injured?
23. What did the Americans do with the Philadelphia?
24. Why were the Americans obliged to burn the Philadelphia? (Read earlier in this chapter.)
25. How successful were the pirates in firing at the Americans?
26. What did the sailors say afterwards about the burning ship?
27. Why was it the Americans were so successful in burning the Philadelphia?
28. What did Nelson say of Decatur's deed?
29. What promotion did Decatur receive?
1. What did the Secretary of the Navy in 1833 intend to do with the Constitution?
2. Why did Congress decide to rebuild the Constitution?
3. What troubles did we have with other nations during the first twenty-five years of our national life?
4. Why was Washington instructed to add six war ships to our navy?
5. Where was the Constitution built?
6. How does the Constitution compare in size with our modern war ships?
7. Why did England model some of her ships after "Old Ironsides"?
8. When was the Constitution launched?
9. What success did the Constitution have in fighting with Tripoli?
10. How did Commodore Preble treat Decatur after his capture of the Tripolitan gunboats?
11. How did Captain Isaac Hull get away from the British fleet?
12. How did Captain Hull win a hat from Captain Dacres?
13. How is the Constitution said to have received the name "Old Ironsides"?
14. What kind of welcome did Boston have in store for Captain Hull?
15. What was the hardest battle that "Old Ironsides" had?
16. What was done with the wheel of the Java?
17. Why was not a new wheel put on "Old Ironsides"?
18. How did Captain Bainbridge treat the dying Captain Lambert?
19. What was the Constitution's last battle?
20. What is said of Captain Stewart's seamanship in the last battle of "Old Ironsides"?
21. When was "Old Ironsides" taken to Newport?
22. How was "Old Ironsides" used at Newport?
23. What is a receiving ship? (Consult a large dictionary, under the word "receive" or "receiving.")
24. When was "Old Ironsides" taken to Charlestown?
25. How much of the original ship Constitution still exists?
26. Why were the battles of "Old Ironsides" so important to us as a nation?
27. Why should we continue to preserve "Old Ironsides"?
1. Why were both England and France so jealous of us a century ago?
2. What did England and France do to our merchantmen?
3. Why did we not declare war on Great Britain before 1812?
4. How did our navy compare with England's in 1812?
5. What was England's plan in 1814?
6. What was the character of New Orleans?
7. Who was the "Iron Duke"? (Wellington.)
8. When did the British fleet arrive at the delta of the Mississippi?
9. Why was General Jackson so busy just before Christmas?
10. How was the alarm sounded to the people of New Orleans?
11. Who answered Jackson's call for assistance?
12. Who came from outside New Orleans to help defend the city?
13. How did the riflemen look as they came into town?
14. Why did Jackson plan to attack the British at once?
15. What did the war schooner Carolina do?
16. How were the British reënforced on Christmas day?
17. What did Sir Edward Pakenham think of the task before him?
18. How did Pakenham begin his operations?
19. How did Sir Edward fare when he marched out to get a look at the Americans?
20. What were Jackson's first intrenchments made of?
21. What did Pakenham use for making a redoubt?
22. What happened to Jackson's defenses?
23. Of how much use was Pakenham's redoubt?
24. What did the British now decide to do?
25. What was Jackson's main line of defense?
26. How early did Jackson's men go to their posts on that last Sunday morning?
27. What happened to Sir Edward Pakenham, and to Generals Gibbs and Keane?
28. Why did the British lose so many officers in the battle?
29. How long did the engagement on Sunday morning continue?
30. How many men did the British have in the final action, and how many did the Americans have?
31. How many men did the British lose in the final action, and how many did the Americans lose?
32. What did General Lambert do after the battle?
33. How was "Old Hickory" honored?
34. Why is the victory a sad one to think of?
35. What was the result of the war of 1812?
1. What kind of welcome did we give Lafayette in 1824?
2. Who was Lafayette?
3. Why did Lafayette first come to this country?
4. When did Lafayette first come to this country?
5. Why did Congress accept Lafayette's services?
6. What was the effect of Lafayette's manner and example?
7. How did Lafayette live at Valley Forge?
8. What did Lafayette do on his return to France?
9. What did Lafayette do when peace was declared?
10. When did Lafayette make his third trip to this country?
11. How had our country changed when Lafayette came in 1824?
12. What had been Lafayette's career in his own country?
13. Why did it take Lafayette so long to go from New York to Boston?
14. Who was Dr. Bowditch?
15. How much of our country did Lafayette visit?
16. What did Lafayette do with the laurel wreath presented to him at Yorktown?
17. Can you describe some of the incidents of Lafayette's visit?
18. What did "Lafayetted" mean?
19. What occurred at the tavern in Virginia?
20. How did Lafayette show his affection for Washington?
21. What can you say of the scenes connected with the fiftieth anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill?
22. Who was the orator at the laying of the corner stone of Bunker Hill Monument?
23. How was Lafayette received at the University of Virginia?
24. How did Congress show its gratitude for Lafayette's services during the Revolution?
25. What was the last honor shown the departing guest? (The frigate on which Lafayette sailed for France was named in commemoration of Lafayette's gallantry at the battle of the Brandywine. Although wounded in the leg, Lafayette kept the field till the battle was over. To the surgeon who cared for the injured Lafayette, Washington said, "Take care of him as though he were my son.")
De Grasse, de-grass'.
Gerry, ger'y (g as in get).
Guerrière, ger-i-air' (g as in get).
Guilford, gil'ford (g as in get).
Illinois, il-i-noi' or il-i-noiz'.
Louisville, loo'is-vill or loo'y-vill.
Madeira, ma-de'ra or ma-day'i-ra.
Maltese, mall-tees' or mall-teez'.
Moultrie, moo'try or mool'try.
St. Louis, saint loo'is or saint loo'y.
Ville de Paris, vill de (e as in her) pah-ree'.
Worcester, woos'ter (oo as in foot).
This book is designed to be used either before the formal text-book on American history is begun, or to be read in connection with it. It is also intended to serve as a convenient basis for more extended work on the part of both teacher and pupils. Hence, to the reading of the preceding chapters should be added a systematic course in supplementary reading.
The following plan is suggested, which may be readily modified to meet the needs of any particular class of pupils:
Two books are of special value to teachers. These are Channing and Hart's Guide to American History (Ginn & Company, $2.00), and Gordy and Twitchell's Pathfinder in American History (Lee & Shepard, $1.20. In separate parts, Part I, 60 cents; Part II, 90 cents).
These two works are replete with suggestions, hints, and helps on collateral study, with numerous references, detailed lists of topics, and a wide range of other subjects which make them indispensable to the teacher of American history.
NOTE.—The subject of reference books on American history is treated thoroughly in Montgomery's American History (see "Short List of Books," page xxxiii in Appendix), and Fiske's History of the United States (see Appendix D, page 530, Appendix E, page 539, and Appendix F, page 542).
For original materials pertaining to the colonial period and the Revolution, admirably edited for school use, consult Hart's "Source-Readers in American History": No. 1, Colonial Children; No. 2, Camps and Firesides of the Revolution; No. 3, How our Grandfathers Lived.
In searching libraries for books on the Revolution, the teacher will find Winsor's Reader's Handbook of the American Revolution very useful.
Pupils should have easy access, by means of the school library or otherwise, to a few of the formal school text-books on American history. In connection with this book, Montgomery's Leading Facts of American History, Fiske's History of the United States, Eggleston's History of the United States, and Steele's Brief History of the United States (usually known as "Barnes's History") are especially valuable.
If less difficult and much smaller works are thought desirable, the following five books are recommended: Montgomery's Beginner's American History, McMaster's Primary History of the United States, Tappan's Our Country's Story, Thorpe's Junior History of the United States, and Eggleston's First Book in American History.
These books are useful for additional topics, for dates, maps, illustrations, reference tables, and for filling in subjects which do not come within the scope of this book.
Pupils should also have easy reference to books from which topics may be read, or from which may be read sparingly passages indicated by the teacher. Some of the books which have been suggested are more useful on account of their interesting style than for strict historical accuracy. Read the designated works not as a whole, but only by topics or by selections. They will do much to awaken and maintain a lively interest in American history.
While the study of this book is in progress, it is well for the pupils to limit their home reading to such books as bear directly upon the subject. Under this head we have suggested several books which belong to the "storybook" order. Wholesome books of fiction and semifiction may certainly do much to stimulate and hold the attention of young students of American history. Thus, Churchill's Richard Carvel and Cooper's Pilot furnish stirring scenes in the career of Paul Jones.
With the home reading, as with all other collateral reading, the teacher should exercise a careful supervision.
The work in history should be enlivened by reading occasionally, before the class or the school, poems or prose selections which bear directly upon the general topic under consideration.1 For instance, in the appropriate chapters Finch's well-known poem, "Nathan Hale," Simms's "Ballad of King's Mountain," and Holmes's "Old Ironsides" may be read.
1 For a list of books which may be classed as useful under the preceding paragraphs, see Blaisdell's Story of American History, pp. 431-434.
Teacher and pupil should appreciate the scope and the usefulness of a topic book, or notebook. By this is meant a blank book of a convenient size, with semiflexible or board covers, and of at least forty-eight pages. Into this blank book should be written carefully, with ink, brief notes, as the several chapters of this book are read or studied. It may well be a kind of enlarged diary of the pupil's work.
Make brief notes of the various books read in whole or in part; of topics not treated in this book but discussed in the class, such as the treason of Benedict Arnold, the battle of Bennington, etc.; of references to new books to be reserved for future reading; and of other subjects which will readily suggest themselves.
This notebook should be enlivened with inexpensive photographic copies (sold for about one cent each) of famous pictures illustrating important events in American history. Catalogues giving the exact titles, the cost, and other details are frequently advertised.
The notebook may be illustrated with photographic reproductions of such works as Stuart's "Washington"; Faed's "Washington at Trenton"; Trumbull's "The Surrender of Cornwallis" and "Signing the Declaration of Independence"; Benjamin West's "Penn's Treaty"; Leutze's "Washington crossing the Delaware"; Vanderlyn's "The Landing of Columbus"; Johnson's "Old Ironsides"; Overend's "An August Morning with Farragut"; and many other historical subjects.
Portraits, maps, facsimiles of documents and autographs, etc., etc. are often easily obtained from book catalogues, guide books, advertising pages, and secondhand text-books.
All this illustrative material should be pasted into the notebook at the proper place, neatly and with good judgment, with plenty of space for margins. Such a compilation is, of course, a matter of slow growth. It should be preserved as a pleasant reminder of school days.
For two short articles on George Rogers Clark, read Roosevelt and Lodge's Hero Tales from American History, p. 29, and Brady's Border Fights and Fighters, p. 211. For a more extended account, consult Roosevelt's Winning of the West, Vol. II, p. 31.
A novel by Maurice Thompson, Alice of Old Vincennes, gives a graphic description of Clark's campaign.
For an account of Arnold's expedition to Canada, read articles in The Century Magazine for January and February, 1903, by Professor Justin H. Smith. Codman's Arnold's Expedition to Quebec is a fair-sized volume, and full of interest. Read also Lodge's Story of the Revolution, Vol. I, p. 106.
Tomlinson's Under Colonial Colors, the story of Arnold's expedition to Quebec told for boys, is an interesting and stimulating work of fiction.
The defense of Fort Sullivan is well described in Brady's American Fights and Fighters, p. 5, and Lodge's Story of the Revolution, Vol. I, p. 126.
Perhaps the most readable account of Nathan Hale is to be found in Lossing's Two Spies (André and Hale). Consult Partridge's Nathan Hale, a character study.
In connection with this story, Chapter XVII, "The Story of Arnold's Treason," in Blaisdell's Story of American History may be profitably read.
For the everyday life of Washington, consult Paul Leicester Ford's The True George Washington. Refer to sundry sections in Bolton's The Private Soldier under Washington and in Herbert's Washington: His Homes and his Households.
Read the stirring romance about Washington, A Virginia Cavalier, by Molly Elliot Seawell.
For the capture of Stony Point, read Lodge's Story of the Revolution, Vol. II, p. 130; Brady's American Fights and Fighters, p. 121; and Roosevelt and Lodge's Hero Tales from American History, p. 79. Henry P. Johnston's The Storming of Stony Point is perhaps the best account ever written of this famous exploit.
Read Roosevelt and Lodge's Hero Tales from American History, p. 69, and Lodge's Story of the Revolution, p. 56.
In connection with Chapters VII and VIII, read "The War of the Revolution in the South," in Blaisdell's Story of American History, Chapter XVI, p, 250.
Read Brady's American Fights and Fighters, p. 84, for an account of General Morgan; also Chapter IV, "King's Mountain and the Cowpens," in Lodge's Story of the Revolution, Vol. II, p. 56.
For a description of the battle at Yorktown, read Brady's American Fights and Fighters, p. 143, and Chapter VII in Lodge's Story of the Revolution, p. 165. Henry P. Johnston's The Yorktown Campaign is excellent for collateral reference.
Very little collateral reading should be allowed in reading this chapter on framing the Constitution. Sundry topics may be sparingly selected for reading from the index to Fiske's Critical Period of American History. Fiske's Civil Government in the United States may be utilized for reference.
Read Brooks's Century Book for Young Americans; Chapter II in Elson's Side Lights on American History (First Series, p. 24), on "The Framing of the Constitution"; and Chapter XII, p. 283, in Higginson's Larger History of the United States, on "The Birth of a Nation."
NOTE.—For the War of the Revolution no more interesting books can be read by pupils than Brooks's Century Book of the Revolution and Coffin's Boys of '76. Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, in two large volumes, is interesting, and contains hundreds of illustrations.
Read "Decatur and the Philadelphia," in Brady's American Fights and Fighters, p. 199, and "The Burning of the Philadelphia," in Roosevelt and Lodge's Hero Tales from American History, p. 103.
Read Seawell's storybook, Decatur and Somers; and Barnes's Commodore Bainbridge, a story.
Consult two chapters in Brady's American Fights and Fighters: "The Constitution's Hardest Fight," p. 215, and "The Constitution's Last Battle," p. 304. Hollis's Frigate Constitution is invaluable for reading and reference. Refer to Lossing's History of the War of 1812 and Lodge's A Fighting Frigate and Other Essays.
In connection with this chapter, read "What our Navy did in the War of 1812," in Blaisdell's Story of American History, Chapter XXI, p. 323.
Read "The Battle of New Orleans," in Roosevelt and Lodge's Hero Tales from American History, p. 139, and "The Last Battle with England," in Brady's American Fights and Fighters, p. 287. Chapter XVIII, p. 431, in Higginson's Larger History of the United States is well worth reading.
Concerning Lafayette's visit to this country in 1824, no books are readily accessible. Consult Quincy's Figures of the Past and Brooks's The True Story of Lafayette.