Henry C. (Henry Clay) Watson.

Camp-fires of the revolution: or, The war of independence, illustrated by thrilling events and stories by the old continental soldiers online

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NYPL REStAM'-r. - -• ■



^""i^'^33 08177501 1



CAMP-IIRES OF THE REVOLUTION



THE NEW YORK

PUBLIC LIBRARY.



ASTOR, LENOX ANO
TILDC-N FOUNDATICNi.




GENERAL LAFAYETTE AND CHARLEY MORGAN.




EVENING AFTER THE BATTLE OP TKKNTOV.



^cMi i I n ii r I fi li i 11 :

Xi nil fill ij xV iU 11 lust OIL



CAMP-FIRES



OF



THE REYOLUTION:



OK, THE



nr nf initf|.utibenr!,



ILLUSTRATED BT



THRILLING EVENTS AND STORIES



Bl THE



(PU iCniitiiiBntnl Inliirrs.



BY HENRY C. WATSON.



WITH ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS BY CROOME.



PHILADELPHIA:

LINDSAY AND BLAKISTON.

1 8 58.



it » » ; * > t '



rpp r k:ew YORK'
Fj:l:C LIBRARY

202502

ASTOR LF-NOXAND
TILDEN FOUNDATIONS.

R 1 900. L



^ BROWN-GCODE COLLEdTfCtH-



Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in tlie year 1850, hy

LINDSAY & BLAKISTON.

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Uuited States for the

Eastern District of Pennsylvania.



i> STEREOTYPED BY J. FAGAJ».

PRINTED BT C. SHERMAN.




In presenting the " Camp-Fires of the Eevo-
lution" to the public, a few remarks may be
necessary, or, at least, will not be mal aproi^os.
The ''battles, sieges, fortunes,^' of the war in
which American Independence was secured, may
be found detailed in history, with all possible
accuracy, and elaborate criticism. But the suf-
ferings of the ill-furnished soldiers during the
long and dreary winters of that period, and
their means of whiling away the time when
forced to gather around the camp-fire and watch
when they had not the conveniences for sleep-
ing, are not to be found on the dignified page of
history. Yet are they worthy of being noted;
and, by the aid of the few remaining heroes of
that terrible struggle, wlien '' Saxon met Saxon,''
— those few remaining links wliich chain us to

the past, we may imagine the extent of their

(iii)



iv PREFACE.

sufifering, and the means they made use of to
draw their attention from its severity. It is
thought, a work upon the plan of the ^'Camp-
Fires of the Eevolution/' will bring the doings
and the scenes of the '' trying time" more vividly
before the mind than the common history. Here
we have the incidents of various battles, and the
exploits of chieftains, told as if by eye-witnesses,
and in the familiar, easily comprehended lan-
guage of the farmer and mechanic soldiers of
the American army. No later achievements of a
more dazzling character should withdraw the
admiration and the gratitude of the American
people from those iron-nerved patriots who, desti-
tute of most of the requisites of an army, con-
quered only because they were determined to
conquer. Their history affords the brightest
examples for the imitation of those who would
be truly brave and patriotic.




CONTENTS.



The Camp-fire on Dorchester Heights . . . Page 13

" " AT Cambridge 37

« « AT Mount Indepexdexce .... 52

" " AT Long Island T6

« « AT Skippack Creek 107

« " AT Germantown 14-4

« " AT Valley Forge 152

« " AT Whitemarsh 165

« « AT White Plains ISl

" « AT Saratoga 218

« " AT MiDDLEBROOK 23i;

« " AT MiDDLEBROOK (CONTINUED) . . . 251

u " ON THE Susquehanna 2G8

«« •« at Springfield 201



vi CONTENTS.

The Camp-fire at Morristowx 309

" " ON THE Old Pedee 341

« " IN THE Swamp 356

»< " ON THE Hills of Santee .... 382

« " NEAR Charleston 399

The Officers' Carousal 400




Monument to General Montgomery, at St. Paul's Church, New York.







lUiBltatiBujs,





GENERAL LAFAYETTE AND CHARLEY MORGAN . . FROXxisriECE.
THE EVENING AFTER THE BATTLE OF TRENTON . . TiTLE-rAGE.
THE EVENING BEFORE THE BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL . Page 41

BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL * 4G

GENERAL WARREN 4S

THE SENTINEL 70

GENERAL GREENE 79

BATTLE OF TRENTON 119

GENERAL PUTNAM AND THE SENTINEL 143

GENERAL MjRGAN 106

(vii)



Vlll



ILLUSTRATIONS.



THE CAMP-FIRE AT SARATOGA ....



. 220



BATTLE OF MONMOUTH 245



GENERAL WAYNE 295



BATTLE OF PRINCETON 403



WASHINGTON SENDING HIS ULTIMATUM TO CORNWALLIS . . 417



TEE OFFICERS CAROUSING AT VERPLANCK'S POINT. ... 431





CAMP-FIRES OF THE REVOLUTION.



THE CAMP-FIRE O^T DORCHESTER HEIGHTS.



A SEASON of gloom and anxiety, harassing as that
which preceded the action on Bunker Hill, had set in
upon that army of patriots which during ten months
had prosecuted the siege of Boston. A movement
was made silently, and by night, toward Dorchester
Heights; in the bright moonlight of a still March
evening, the chosen band, under General Thomas,
selected the ground, broke the frozen earth, and began
the erection of breastworks. No words were spoken,
save those of command, and they crept along the
lines in whispers ; none thought of rest, or complained
of fatigue ; but animated by the desire of liberty, by
the remembrance of Bunker Hill and Concord, and
by the thoughts of those who had been left at the
fireside, lonely and defenceless, they toiled with an
alacrity and success which astonished themselves.
2 (13)



14 THE CAMP-FIRE ON

Far different was tlie scene on the plains. There,
throughout the night, the whole park of artillery,
superintended by Washington in person, played upon
the city of Boston, illuminating the sky with arches
of fire, and dimming the pale light of the moon.
Strange and bewildering was the spectacle to many
of the colonists ; for even after an actual warfare
of many months, they could not comprehend how
brethren of the same race could embrue their hands
in each other's blood. Yet the object of Washington
was less to annoy the enemy, than to conceal the
operations at Dorchester Heights. He succeeded;
and on the following day, the British troops beheld,
with admiration and astonishment, a series of breast-
works, which, looming through the morning mist,
seemed, in their distorted proportions, to be the work
of giants.

Yet all this was but the prelude to a more exciting
scene. Throughout that day, the forts of Boston,
and the shipping in the harbour, maintained a heavy
fire upon the frail works on the Heights ; while Gene-
ral Thomas and his officers, mounted on horseback,
perceived, with the aid of their glasses, closely com-
pacted regiments marching toward the ferry. That
an attack was intended, none doubted ; and the heart
of many a patriot throbbed with mingled emotions,
as he thought on the prize which was to be staked on
the following morning.



DORCHESTER HEIGHTS. 15

The sun went down behind thin, misty clouds ; and
as the light grew fainter till it was lost in darkness,
the bustle and animation on each side increased.
The men on the Heights, no longer fearful of disco-
very, worked merrily; encouraging each other by
every means, until the breastwork was finished.
Washington crossed over from the opposite plain,
that he might superintend the expected battle in
person ; the sturdy yeomanry, aroused by rumors of
the events of the two preceding days, poured into the
camp well armed, and threatening vengeance on the
foe ; and amid the uproar of a cannonade by night,
the brave men who had labored so assiduously,
raised their tents and built their fires amid showers
of earth and stones, struck from the hill by the
enemy's balls.

The men lay on their arms all night. Most of
them were soon sunk in slumber ; but there were a
few whom excitement would not suffer to sleep.
These, in small groups, sat around the blazing piles,
listenimr to the sounds which came at irre^'ular inter-
vals from the city, or rehearsing stories of the last
year s adventures. One of these groups, consisting
of four men, might be seen seated with their backs
against a huge bundle of hay, that formed part of tlie
works, and partaking with great satisfiiction of n
sliglit repast; making a table, of course, of their
knees.



16 THE CAMP-FIRE ON

^•I hope they'll get across the Neck," remarked
one, whose name was Stuart.

" Heaven grant it !" was the answer. " If they do,
they'll remember Dorchester for some years, I'm
thinking. It will be a bloodier battle than Bunker
Hill. Think of poor Warren, boys !"

" He shall be revenged !" exclaimed another, named
Hadley. "As for me, I do n't see the use of this tire-
some business that they call a ^ siege.' Here we've
been marching, and driUing, and firing cannon, eyer
since — let me see — was n't it June when old Putnam
fought on Bunker Hill ?"

Stuart answered in the affirmative.

" Well, ever since then. I know it was dreadful
hot, and we '11 soon have summer again ; so it 's been
almost a year. Why don't his excellency let us
march over at once, and drive the red-coat rascals and
tories out of town, as we did at Concord ?"

" Because he knows better than we do," Stuart re-
plied.

" Hark !" exclaimed the eldest of the four, named
Green. " Was that cannon ?"

A deep, crashing sound broke on the stillness which
had reigned for a short time previous, and the echo
rolled heavily in the distance. Then all was again
silent, save that the breathing of the wearied men
was heard around, and sounds which seemed strange
and mysterious, came from the harbor. The party



DO KC II ESTER HEIGHTS. 17



grasped their muskets^ and looked one upon another,
in breathless expectation.

"It sounded like thunder," Stuart said, breaking
the silence.

" Not likely to thunder in the month of March,'*
replied Green.

" But let 's keep quiet, boys, till we get orders ; for
you may depend upon it, we '11 have enough to do be-
fore many days."

" Tell us about Concord, Ben," said Stuart, address-
ing Hadley. " I wish I had been there with you."

" You may well wish that," was the reply, as Had-
ley placed himself in a more erect position, prepara-
tory to beginning upon his favourite theme.

" It was a glorious day ; and the neighbors rose in
their strength, to show the murderers of our people
who was going to be master. It made the blood tingle
in our veins, when we came to Concord, and saw our
poor countrymen lying by the roadside, and heard
that ruffian Pitcairn cursing the handful of men who
were flying Ijcfore his bayonets !"

" Did our men run ?" enquired Barry.

"Yes," resumed Iladley, "till the boys from Bead-
ing, Dorchester, and Boxbury, came up. Then we
went ridit at them. We didn't wait for a com-
mander; we didn't besiege them; but we beat them
clean up the old road from Concord to Lexington, and
from Lexington to Charlestown, till every poor fellow
9 * XI



18 THE CAMP-FIRE ON

who fell on our side was properly revenged — all be-
cause they called us rebels 1"

"It was a glorious day!" ejaculated Stuart, half-
musingly.

"But tell us how it began, and all about it/' said
Barry.

" So I will ; but let us stir up the fire first, for it 's
getting chilly. — You remember what a stir there was
in Boston, when Gage arrived with ' reinforcements,'
as he called them. A w^orse-looking set of thieves
and rascals — for they are nothing else — you never
saAV. They squinted maliciously at the neighbors
as they marched by ; and some of them had got so
used to that fashion, that they could n't look straight
when they tried ! I was in town then ; and I tell
you, lads, it was hard to keep hands off of them, even
though they did shoulder muskets. Some brisk lads
met, two or three days afterwards, to see if they
could plan some mischief against them ; but one, who
had been to college and read a great many books, per-
suaded them out of it. I think he was half a coward,
though he did know more than the rest of us.

" Things went on bad enough for more than a year,
but we didn't get to blows with the soldiers, because
the time hadn't come. Our great men had deter-
mined not to strike the first blow, and not to take the
second, without putting one in between. By and by,
the Boston men discovered that Gage had spies out,



DORCHESTER HEIGHTS. 19

who went through all the streets, prying into every-
body's business, and reporting anything that they
thought would hurt one of our men, to the officers.
Many a one was treated hard enough, merely because
these telltales informed on him. But still we kept
quiet, only trying to get one of these villains into a
by-place, where tar and feathers might be had. At
last, how^cver, these fellows became such a nuisance,
that some working-men in town formed a society to
watch them ; and you may depend upon it, they did
the business close enough. Every night, even in the
depth of winter, they would be out, walking the
streets in all directions, mixing with the soldiers,
talking to the spies, and picking up all kinds of news
about tlic Termv, sometimes before it reached Gage's
men themselves. No weather could keep them from
their duty. These men waded through snow-storms,
breasted the rain, and travelled over the glib ice when
everything cracked with the cold. Once, one of them,
tired, I suppose, with working hard all day, stumbled
and fell into a frozen pond in the upper part of the
town, which came near costing him his life.

" There was a good deal of drilling among our boys
about the same time, and we continued to store up
some ammunition where Gaire's men couldn't fnid it
The women helped us mightily in this work, know-
ing, as they did, so many nooks and corners where
tilings could be stowed away in safety. By and by



o



THE CAMP-FIRE ON



our men grew bolder. They stored tlieir powder and
balls at Concord, not caring whether Gage knew of it
or not; and some of them talked pretty strongly
about kicking up a fuss, if the soldiers should be sent
to take away what didn't belong to them."

'' They were sent, though," interrupted Barry.

'^ Yes — but don't drive me ahead of the story.- —
The battle, you know, took place on Wednesday.
Well, on the Saturday previous. Dr. Warren observed
a great stir among the soldiers ; and before night a
good number of them were off duty, and pretending
to drill. But this was only a sham to deceive us ; for
you must know, lads, that Gage was as artful and as
sly as a black snake. Dr. Warren, however, watched
him close enough ; and about midnight what should
he behold but the sailors getting the boats ready to
cross over toward Concord. Then it was he felt sure
that no time was to be lost; so he sends Colonel
Revere to tell Mr. Adams and Mr. Hancock to take
care of themselves. These three talked over the
matter together at Lexington ; and it was agreed that
when Revere went back to Boston he should make
signals, to let the surrounding country know if the
rascally soldiers were going to attack them."

" Signals," interrupted Stuart ; " what kind of
signals ?"

Scarcely was this question asked, when the same
heavy sound, which had disturbed the party before,



D R C II E S T E I^ HEIGHTS. 21

again broke on the stillness of the night. Now it
rolled near enough to convince them that it was
thunder ; and each one, on gazing around, beheld the
sky overcast with pitchy clouds, and the atmosphere
shrouded in thick darkness, while the wind rushed by
in fitful and powerful gusts. A feeling of gloom,
mingled with uneasy foreboding, stole upon the heart
of even the boldest; and after a vain attempt to
pierce the darkness with the eye, the little party
again drew close to their camp-fire, wrapped their
blankets around them, and awaited the conclusion of
Hadley's narration.

" I believe I left off at the signals," he resumed.
" It was managed, boys, in this way. If the soldiers
should march out by Roxbury, a light was to be hung
in North Church steeple ; but if they crossed in their
boats to the country, there were to be two lights.
— Revere got back to Boston on Sunday ; and he
arranged matters with Dr. Warren, in such a manner
that Gage knew nothing about it. All day, on Mon-
day and Tuesday, our men were busy picking up
information about what the soldiers intended to do ;
but the busiest time was yet to come. All the town
was in alarm ; folks left their own houses and ran to
others, whenever anybody arrived with fresh news ;
no one talked loud, but only whispered. Few men
worked on those two davs ; but vou midit see crowds
at the corners, speaking low, but rolling their eyes



22 THE CAMP-FIRE 0^

like mad people, and clencliing their hands as firm an
iron. Some were afraid to speak, or to listen when
others w^anted to speak; and a good number, not
knowing what might happen, were busily engaged in
hiding their little notions where they thought the
soldiers could n't get at them.

^^ After some time the fears of the people increased.
An order came on Tuesday, that no one should leave
Boston that night; but Warren had just sent Colonel
Revere and Mr. Dawes to warn the whole neighbor-
hood; so Gage was cheated, after all his pains. They
didn't forget to hang the lanterns in the steeple
either; and it was a sight to make one hold his
breath, to see those two dim lanterns burning in the
darkness, to warn the people of their danger. I was
going home that night, after being out to buy some
flour ; and the first thing I saw on looking toward
town, was the lights in the steeple. Thinks I to my-
self, ' There 's news, sure enough ;' and home I hurried
to Lexington, as fast as my horse could trot. Pretty
soon, Colonel Revere rode into the town, giving the
alarm wherever he went, and stating that the soldiers
were crossing Charlestown Neck.

'^ While the news was spreading through the town,
Mr. Dawes arrived. Both of them had been chased
by the British ; but they were true men, and were
afraid of nothing. At one o'clock on Wednesday
morning they started for Concord, and our prayers



DORCHESTER HEIGHTS. 23

went with them ; but you remember they were both
taken on the road. The British left Eevere behind,

4

fearing they would be pursued. And they had good
cause to fear ; for the whole country was by this time
alarmed, and the militia preparing to fight the minute
the first gun should be fired.

'' Nor had they to wait long. At rive o'clock on
Wednesday morning, a man on horseback, without
cap or coat, galloped into Lexington, shouting that
the British were coming up the road. Some called
to him to stop ; but he rushed on in that mad way
toward Concord. Then it was that the blood boiled
in our veins. We remembered the insults and threats
which had been heaped upon us so long, and swore
that they should be revenged that day. Some ran
through the streets, waving their hats over their
heads, and hurraing for their rights. The women
hurried from house to house, gathering muskets for
the militia, and carrying ammunition in their aprons.
No one was idle, and no one was afraid to face all the
British troops — yes, and to fight them, too, if fighting
was to be done.

"At last the drum beat to arms. We seized our
muskets and rushed to the green. Captain Parker
drew us up, seventy strong, in double rank ; telling
us to fight bravely in the cause of freedom. It was
only a little while after that, that the clouds of dust
in the road told that the enemy were coming. Then



24 THE CAMP-FIRE ON

we heard their drums beating, and saw the bayonets
peeping out from the dust, and gUttering in the sun.
One company after another came in sight, until our
little party looked like a mere handful, compared
to them. But we did not fly — not w^hen we saw the
officers pointing at us with their swords, and the
men lowering their guns for a charge. Our hearts
were beating, but not with fear : no, w^e w^ould have
been cut to pieces before one of us would have acted
cowardly ! But what could seventy men do against
nearly a thousand ? We had not long to consider.
Their leader galloped up lik a madman ; cursing,
shouting, and ordering us to disperse. It was hard
to let him finish without letting fly at him ; but our
captain told us we must keep quiet. All at once they
poured a volley upon us. No one was hurt ; and as
we did n't choose to run for their powder, we faced
them just as boldly as before. Seeing this, they fired
again ; and then the dreadful scene began. How
many fell, I had no time to find out, before I heard a
deep groan on my left. It seemed to me that I knew
the voice ; and turning round, I saw my poor brother
lying on his back, wuth his eyes turned up toward
me."

" But he was n't shot ?" enquired Stuart.

" Shot — dying — the blood pouring from his side.
I could contain myself no longer; but pulled the
trigger of my musket so that it broke in my hand."



DORCHESTER HEIGHTS. 25

" And did the others fire, too ?" enquired Barry.

" Yes — but I have forgotten all that followed till
we left Lexington. My brain reeled ; and though I
heard the shouts of the British as they advanced, I
did not see them. I was trying to assist poor Sam,
but the tide bore me on ; and when I regained my
senses, I was standing in a field, with two or three
other men, uttering, as they told me, the wildest lan-
guage against my brother's murderers."

" But where were they first checked ?" asked Green.

" Not till they got to Concord. It was then seven
o'clock. All the militia in town were drawn up on
the hills ; and the news of the affair at Lexington
filled them with fury. The enemy marched to the
storehouses, broke them open, and began the work of
destruction. The flour was emptied into the river;
the ball, which we had gathered w^ith so much care,
stolen or sunk in wells, and our two cannon battered
and abused till they were unfit for use. We let them
do it all quietl}^, but swore that every pennyworth
should be taken out of their red jackets. Next they
began to break up the bridges ; and this was more
than we could bear. We were getting stronger
every minute ; for the farmers came up to the scratch
like men, and all the towns were ringing their bells,
and sending messengers in every direction, to get up
a general rising. I had joined the party on the hills.
We couldn't wait any longer; but down we went,
3



26 THE CAMP-FIRE ON

with gallant Davis at our head, waving his sword,
and calling on us to strike for freedom, but not to give
the first blow. Near the bridge they fired upon us
again, and Davis, with another man, fell dead. We
flung back a volley that made the old hills echo ; and
half a dozen of Gage's men dropped. They wheeled
and fired again, and we did the same, till the guns
cracked merrily all around, and we saw them falling
as our men did at Lexington. The enemy didn't
stand it long, but went back to the town in a greater
hurry than they had quitted it. But we were after
them in hot pursuit. British guns couldn't frighten
us as the name once did ; for every one was deter-
mined to fight it out, if he should be riddled for it.
You may believe it cheered our hearts as we chased
the cowards, to see the old men, too feeble to fight,
and wives and mothers, at the windows, encouraging
us to push on, and waving their handkerchiefs, in-
stead of flags.

" Then it w^as we heard the old drums, that had
been with us when w^e whipped the French, beating
along the roads to Concord, and telling us that help
was at hand. And soon the hills and lanes were
swarming with the boys from Beading and Boxbur}^,
who had heard of their friends being shot, and had
come to ask satisfaction. And when w^e saw them
coming, shouting that more were behind, and heard
the bells tolling for the dead, and giving the alarm to



r'



DORCHESTER HEIGHTS. 27

tlie living, we ruslied headlong on the murderers, and
drove hoth them and their commander out of the
town. Then they began their retreat toward Boston,
trying to march decently for a little while, as though
not afraid of us. But we soon helped their pace,
paying particular attention to their rear and flanks.
The boys who did n't pursue, got among the rocks
and bushes, and peppered them as they went along.
There was some shouting among us, when they began
to run like a flock of sheep, with their long guns over
their shoulders, and their faces as white as a tent-
cloth. When they v/ere near one of the gaps opening
into the road. Captain Parker lighted on them with
his little party from Lexington. He galled their
flank properly till they passed, and then joined in the
pursuit. Militia came on as though they were spring-
ing from the ground ; and the sides of the road blazed
with one sheet of fire after another. ! it was
glorious to be in that chase — glorious ! Remember,
boys, how often we were insulted by Gage, and called
^rebels,' or ^Yankees,' by his men ! Yes, and cowards,
too — cowards ! The blood boils at the word ! And
then our bleedhig men behind us ! — It was glory, I
say, lads, to chase the rascals like deer up the road,
and nudce them feel that 'rebels' could fl''ht as well



Online LibraryHenry C. (Henry Clay) WatsonCamp-fires of the revolution: or, The war of independence, illustrated by thrilling events and stories by the old continental soldiers → online text (page 1 of 25)