Richard Markham.

Colonial Days : being stories and ballads for young patriots ; as recounted by five boys and five girls ; in Around the yule log, Aboard the Mavis, On the edge of winter online

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Online LibraryRichard MarkhamColonial Days : being stories and ballads for young patriots ; as recounted by five boys and five girls ; in Around the yule log, Aboard the Mavis, On the edge of winter → online text (page 16 of 30)
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from. He was a fine fellow. When he was a young man, 'there
was a wolf "

At this point, however, our young friend stopped short, for a
smile was on every countenance.

" We think we have all heard that story," said Charlie apolo
getically, and Jack subsided.

" There is another story about Putnam, though," said Toni,
" that I don't believe you have heard. He was marching, at one
time, under Gen. Amherst, to attack the French in Canada.
The troops, late on an afternoon, reached a lake, which it was
necessary they should cross. But there, sailing up and down,
was an armed French vessel, ready to attack them the moment
they attempted it.

" Putnam went to Gen. Amherst. ' We must capture that
vessel,' said he.

" Gen. Amherst was of the same mind ; but how to do it
was the question.


" ' Give me,' said Putnam, ' half a dozen picked men, a mallet,
and some wedges, and I'll take her.'

" Amherst didn't quite see how he was to capture a ship
with a mallet and wedges ; but he told him that he should have
them. In the middle of the night Putnam and his men stole
softly out in a small boat, and, under cover of the darkness,
drove the wedges in back of the vessel's rudder, so that it could
not move. As soon as daylight came, the troops began to get
on the rafts and bateau that were to take them across, and
the Frenchman hoisted his sail to attack them. But, somehow,
his craft wouldn't behave. She just blew along over the water;
and, before he knew it, he was ashore, and a party of the enemy
were aboard and in possession."

" I say," called out Jack presently, returning from a tour into
the bows, " I can see the light-house off New London harbor."

" New London was a stirring town during the Revolution,"
said Mr. Longwood. " Before the war broke out she had a -large
shipping -trade with the West Indies and Mediterranean ports.
But the British cruisers soon put an end to that. And so she
became the headquarters of privateersmen. You remember how
Capt. Dayton brought his prizes there. Well, he was only one
of hundreds. Woe to the English transport or merchant-vessel
that fell behind her convoy as she entered the Sound ! A
low, swift-sailing craft suddenly crept out from shore, and, before
her escort could help, compelled her, by the logic of cold lead,
to haul down her flag, and surrender. At times the warehouses
of New London were crammed with English goods, taken in this



" But the New-London people did not have it all their own
way. Half of the time they lived with their hearts in their
mouths ; for the harbor defences were practically worthless, and
there was nothing to
have prevented a British
fleet anchoring before
the town, and blowing
it to pieces. And many
a tfme the good citizens
thought the hour had
come, when they saw
frigate after frigate com
ing to anchor, and furl
ing their sails off the
harbor mouth. Many a
time the alarm-guns to
rouse the country about
sounded, but the enemy
sheered off, and went
elsewhere. But at last,
when they had grown
bold, and least expected
it, the blow fell. The
British came, and burned
the town."

" I remember reading about it, not long ago," said Will.
" It was Arnold the traitor who led the British, was it not ? "

" Yes," said Mr. Longwood. " Go on, and tell the story."



11 Well," said Will, " if I remember rightly, Arnold made the
point of assemblage for his vessels somewhere on the Long-
Island shore, perhaps near where we started from in the

" As soon as it was dusk they set sail, intending to reach
New London, and make the attack in the night, before the
militia could be summoned to the aid of the town. But just as
they reached the harbor mouth, a little after midnight, the wind
hauled, and they could not enter, but had to beat off and on,
waiting for daylight.

" With the first dawn they were seen ; and the alarm-guns
from the forts began to echo over the country-side, rousing the
militia to their aid."

" The signal for danger," interrupted Mr. Longwood, " was
two guns. Three meant the arrival of a prize, or good news.
The enemy had learned this ; and, whenever the forts fired two
guns, one of their ships added a third, so as to confound the

" It was ten o'clock before the British made a landing," went
on Will ; " and by that time the militia had begun to come in.
But a parcel of half-disciplined farmers could do nothing against
well-drilled regulars. They fired from behind fences, and every
now and then a rebel bullet reached its mark, and brought down
a man ; but the militia were practically helpless, and the English,
with the traitor at their head, marched forward, and took the

" Arnold was doubly a traitor on this expedition," said Mrs.
Longwood ; "for he was born only a few miles from New Lon-



don, and no doubt had
known the town for
years, so that it was
his own native place he
was destroying."

" You can imagine
the excitement," Will
continued, " when it was
known that the British
were really at hand.
Wagons were hastily
loading; women and
children half wild with
terror rushed here and
there, and then made
their way to the open
country, whence they
watched the flames that
made them homeless.

" The people had
hoped that the town
might escape ; but this
was not Arnold's inten
tion. The warehouses,
shops, dwellings, were
soon in a blaze, while
he watched it all from the steeple of the meeting-house. Among
the townspeople were many old acquaintances. He even took



dinner with one of them ; but before he rose from the table the
house had been fired, and he left it wrapped in flames."

" What an old scamp he must have been ! " said two or three ;
and Ned added, " After all, the British must have lost more
men than the patriots, for they had the advantage of firing only
from cover, and did not once meet them in the open."

" Ay, but," said Will, " there was some of the bloodiest fight
ing in the whole war on the other side of the harbor. You see,
there were a lot of sail, great and small, in port, and Arnold
meant to make a clean sweep of them all. There was, among
others, a large ship, ' The Hannah,' which had been brought in
as a prize, and was unloading. These vessels would naturally
all go up the river, where the British could not follow, and
escape. But the wind was dead against them, so that they could
not. Arnold had foreseen all this, and so he had landed men
on each side of the harbor mouth, and, while one party was
burning the town, the other was marching to get above the
shipping. They almost made it out ; but, just at the right mo
ment, with the change of the tide, the wind changed, and all
that lay in the stream hoisted sail, and fled in safety.

" Now, as this detachment of the British marched along, they
came to Fort Griswold. In it were only a hundred and fifty
militia ; but they refused to surrender when challenged, though
the enemy outnumbered them ten to one. Then began a fight
that was a fight in earnest. The militia, with grape-shot, swept
down whole ranks of the enemy, killing their two commanding
officers at the first fire. But the odds were too unequal. The
British poured over the works, and the fort was theirs. They



must have been fiends, and they were led by a fiend ; for, when
the American colonel surrendered his sword, the wretch seized it,
and plunged it into his heart. The soldiers, angered at the
unexpected resistance they had met, acted like so many wild
beasts, and, falling upon the Americans who had laid down their
arms, cut them down in cold blood, firing upon them in platoons,
and despatching the wounded with their bayonets. It could
never be found out who was the officer who allowed it all."

" The whole conflict at Fort Griswold was totally unnecessary,"
said Mr. Longwood. " The British did not intend to hold New
London ; and the fort, after they had possession of the town,
was of no earthly use. Two or three hundred men were killed
and wounded through sheer stupidity. They had hardly gained
possession of the fort, too, before they began to see that, if
they wished to get away in safety, they must make all speed.
For the news of their landing had spread, and all over the
country the militia were coming in by the hundreds. Bullets
from unseen rifles began to fly among the red-coats, and make
them long to be back on their ships. So they made haste to
gather about the shore.

" Before they left, though, they determined to blow up what
was left of the fort. They had recovered from their madness
by this time, and prepared to remove the wounded first, though
after a barbarous fashion. Getting an ammunition-wagon, they
piled them in on top of one another, regardless of their groans.
Then some twenty soldiers dragged the wagon along toward
the crest of the hill, at the foot of which was a house in
which they could be left. But the hill was steep, and the


wagon heavy ; the men could not hold it back. Leaping aside,
they let it go. Down it went, faster and faster, bumping over
rocks and stones, until at the foot, when, under full headway, it
crashed against an apple-tree, and came to a sudden halt. The
screams and cries of the wounded men were heard across the
harbor, and several died outright from the shock.

" By this time it was sunset, and the British embarked, and
dropped down the harbor, watching to see the fort fly into the
air ; for they had laid a train to the magazine, and had fired it.
But, though they looked and looked, the fort never moved, much
to their disgust and astonishment. Arnold, in his report, was
very severe on the artillery-officer whose work failed ; but it
was not the officer's fault. The train was burning fast, when a
hardy militiaman made his way in, and, seeing the danger, rushed
to the pump, and, filling an old cartridge-box with water, put
out the fire, and saved the fort."

Just at this time Jack, who had not been paying much
attention to Mr. Longwood's and Will's story, came aft, and, seat
ing himself, remarked abruptly, " I say, here's larks ! Dinner's
been ready for ten minutes, and cookie's in a stew ! "

"What's the matter?" asked they all.

" The cabin won't begin to hold us ; and he hasn't plates
and things enough to go around in such a crowd."

" Why should we go into the cabin ? " said the girls. " Let's
call it a picnic, and have dinner on deck ; and then it will be a
good joke, not having dishes enough."

So they all went forward, much to the cook's embarrassment.
His black face was screwed up into a comical knot in his per-


plexity. " 'Pears like I don't see how ye're to eat dis yer soup,
nohow," he said.

The soup smelled very nicely, and boys and girls were very
hungry. " How many soup-plates have you ? " asked Rose.

Jack hastened to explain that there were no soup-plates at
all, but that there were six bowls.

" Tumblers for the rest of us," cried Ned, seized by a sudden

So, this difficulty being over, the soup was soon disposed of.
After that the other courses were more easily managed ; for
" The Mavis's " stock of plates and other articles, though small,
was yet enough to go around, with a little ingenious assistance.
The cook had evidently a pretty thorough idea of what hungry
boys and girls could do ; for one good thing appeared after
another, until, at last, peaches and raisins ended the meal.


ff^rjL\ 09 EANTIME "The Mavis" had been
^ \ ^*^%/ X/r making good progress. * She had

v \ ^/^rTELy ,if, s / / ' i

passed the light-house and the great
hotel buildings, and had glided up
the harbor; and, just as Jack was
surreptitiously sweeping the last of
the raisins into his pocket, she
rounded the point on which Fort
Trumbull stands, and dropped her
anchor before the town.
A small boat shot out at once from one of the piers, and
came alongside ; and a young man in it touched his hat to Mr.
Longwood, and scrambled up the schooner's side.

" You are very prompt, sir," he said. " I have only just

Mr. Longwood led the way to the cabin, and the young man
followed. Presently he came out again, and said, " I thought
that only my signature was wanted ; but I find that there is
work here that will take me two or three hours. You had all
better go ashore, and enjoy yourselves."

So, after a brief consultation, it was decided that they should



land at the foot of the hill where the fight that we have just
heard of took place, and visit the remains of the old fort. It
was necessary that the boat should make two trips to take them
all : so Ned, Tom, and Will, with three of the girls, went first.
While the boat went back for the rest, they began to climb, and


presently reached the top of the hill. Somewhat out of breath, they
waited for the others to come, before they should begin their ex
plorations. They had with them a glass, and through it they could
see the piers of the town plainly, with schooners lying along
side, taking in and discharging cargo. Presently they cast their
restless eyes about them. Not far away, on an old stone, was


seated a man with his back toward them, smoking a pipe. His
shabby coat showed that his circumstances were not of the best.

" Let's go and talk to him," said Tom.

So he and Will strolled over. As they came near, the man
removed his pipe, not noticing their approach, and began to
sing a song in a low tone. The boys stopped to listen.

Whin Pharaoh's daughther wint down to the wather,

Sure there was young Moses a-shwimmin' around
In his arruk all so handy, wid a shtick of swate candy,

To kape him from cryin' ontil he was found.

Says she to a maithen, says she, " Bring yon haythen,

Your trotters be shakin', ye lazy spalpeen ;
If the wathers wance wet him, or the crockodiles get him,

It's no crockodile tears ye'll be sheddin', I ween."

So, whin from his shwimmin' he was brought to the wimmin,
Faith, it shows how the blarney's a famale's chafe joy,

A nate bow he was makin', as sure as I'm spakin';
" Begorra ! " says she, " he's the broth of a boy."

" He seems to have attended Sunday school in his youth,"
said Will, as the singer broke off abruptly, to put his pipe back
into his mouth.

The man heard his voice, and turned around. " Long life to
your honors," he said, rising.

" That's quite a nice song you were singing," said Will.
" Where did you learn it ? "

" It was injuced by me own circumsthances," said the man.


41 1 was lookin' at that bit of wather just fornint yez, and wishin'
Moses had left his boat whin he got through wid it ; for how I
am to get across, I doan know, be raison that I have niver so
much as a pinny, and the fare is five cints on the boat. On-
less," he added, with a grin, " ye may be a brother of Pharaoh's
daughther, and inclined to hilp a poor man a bit, like your
sister did wid Moses."

Will laughed, and gave him a small coin ; and, with another
" Long life to your honors ! " he set out briskly for the ferry.

By this time, Mrs. Longwood and the rest of the party had
arrived, and together they strolled about the hill-top. There was
not much to see, though, beside the view : so, after a little, they
sat themselves down on a grassy knoll, and two or three began
to urge Mrs. Longwood to tell them more about Arnold and his

"It is not a pleasant subject," said that lady ; " but it is a
good thing for every boy and girl to know the story of that
traitor, and how his acts recoiled on his own head, and left him
despised alike by friends and foes.

" Arnold was born some ten or a dozen miles from where
we now are, on the very river Thames that we see winding be
neath us. He grew up to be a man among the stirring scenes
that preceded the Revolution, in the days of the Stamp Act,
and other attempts at oppression by the mother country. He
was a thorough patriot. When the news of the battle of Lex
ington came, he was in business in New Haven. He summoned
the guards of which he was captain, and called for volunteers to
march with him to Cambridge. Sixty men stepped forward. He


demanded arms and ammunition of the selectmen. But these
worthies were not accustomed to such rapidity of action : they
said that he would do better to wait a little, for regular orders.
Arnold marched his men to the house where they were assem
bled, and sent in word, that, if the keys of the magazine were
not produced in five minutes, his men should break in the
doors. The keys were produced ; and the company, well armed
and equipped, set out at once."

" What an energetic fellow he must have been ! " said Charlie,

" He was, indeed," said Mrs. Longwood. " No sooner had
he and his men arrived in camp than he proposed to the authori
ties a plan for seizing Fort Ticonderoga."

" Why, that is where the wagoner went," said Carrie.

" Yes," said Mrs. Longwood ; " but the wagoner was two or
three years later. Well, the authorities fancied Arnold's plan ;
and they made him a colonel, with power to recruit four hun
dred men. So he set out to the western part of Massachusetts
to raise his men ; but, when he reached there, he found that a
party of Green-Mountain Boys under Ethan Allen had already
started for the same purpose. He went after them, and, showing
his commission, claimed the command. But the Vermonters did
not know him, and would not obey him. They would fight under
their own leader, or go home. Arnold, however, went on with
them ; and he and Ethan Allen were side by side at the head
of the men, when, in the gray morning, the troops seized the
fort, and, waking up the commander from his sleep, demanded
his surrender in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Conti
nental Congress.


" Arnold's reputation was now established as a bold and
daring man, and one who could rouse his followers to enthusi
asm. And so he was chosen to lead one of the most dangerous
expeditions of the whole war. Its plan was this. Here," said
Mrs. Longwood, drawing with her parasol an imaginary map on
the grass, " is Montreal, and here Quebec, which were occupied
by the British. Now, an American army was on its way to
Canada, to attack these cities. It was marching northward by
way of the lakes," and she pointed out their course. " It was
proposed that Arnold should lead a force to join them. His
route was to be through Maine. No one but Indians had ever
passed through these northern wilds ; but it was thought that his
army might ascend the Kennebec River in scows, as far as pos
sible, then strike across country to the head waters of the
Chaudiere, down which they could float to the St. Lawrence.

" Arnold's men were bold and hardy. Three companies were
from Western Virginia, men who had seen rough service on
the Indian frontier, the rest were rugged farmers used to all
manner of toil and exposure. Full of determination they set
out, and were soon lost to sight in the forest."

" It must have been glorious fun, though, making their way
up the rivers, and camping in the Maine woods ! " said Tom.
" Just think of it, fellows : salmon, and trout, and deer, and all
that sort of thing."

" These men did not go for a lark, as you would call it,"
said Mrs. Longwood. " They had to pole great heavy bateaux
against the current all day, sometimes stopping to carry the
baggage on their backs around rapids. When night came, they



were glad enough to broil their salt pork over the camp-fire,
and drop off" to sleep, without thinking of trout and venison.
A band of pioneers went before, to explore the way, and many
was the rough experience they had.


" At length, after days and days of toil, the little army
reached the head-waters of the Kennebec, where the stream was
to be left, and the forest crossed that lay between them and the
head-waters of the Chaudiere. And now they were in peril
indeed. They were too far along to go back, and to go forward


seemed almost certain death. Storm after storm came upon
them. In a single night the streams rose ten feet, so that they
were often up to their waists in the icy water. And, worst of all,
their provisions gave out. Many lay down and died in their
misery. To push on, and reach some of the friendly French
villages, was their only hope. They were reduced to such straits,
that they killed the two dogs that were with them, and made
them into soup ; they boiled their buckskin breeches, and ate
them ; and they gnawed the roots of trees and shrubs that they
dug out of the ground. In all these trials Arnold shared as a
common soldier, and was everywhere present, encouraging and
sympathizing with the men.

" And at last a remnant, ragged and famishing, found them
selves within reach of help from the friendly French settlers."

" Poor fellows ! " said Lou, " they certainly deserved success :
they worked hard enough for it."

" They did not achieve it, however," said Mrs. Longwood.
" It was early in September when Arnold's little army left Boston,
Now it was the loth of November ; and his force, after all
stragglers had come in, was only six hundred men, half-clothed.
They had not lost their determination, though, but pressed
forward with all speed toward Quebec. But the British had
learned of their coming, and recruits poured into the city from
all about. They burned every boat on the St. Lawrence, for
twenty miles, to prevent their crossing. And when, one dark
night, Arnold, eluding a man-of-war, landed his little army in
Wolfe's Cove, and scaled the plains on which the city stood,
there were three men inside her walls, to his one without."

39 6


11 It looks to me," said Jack, "as if he were in rather a
tight place."

" Of course he could not attack the city with such a force,"
said Mrs. Longwood : " so he intrenched himself, and waited for


the other American army to join him. That army, led by Gen.
Montgomery, had had brilliant success. It had taken Montreal,
and would have taken the English commander, Gen. Carleton,


had he not made his escape in disguise, in a small boat. But
by reason of the garrisons it had had to leave behind it, and
the expiration of the time for which the men had enlisted, it
had so dwindled that it numbered only three hundred men."

" And so Arnold was not much better for their coming,"'
said Kate.

" No ; he was not, indeed," said Mrs. Longwood. " The two
commanders held a conference. To attack the city seemed mad
ness, but they were determined to attempt it. They planned a
night assault. The snow was coming down thick and fast when
the attack was made. A hundred yards before his men ran
Arnold, while all the bells of the city were clanging forth a wild
alarm. On a run after him came his men, holding their muskets
under their coat-flaps, to keep the locks dry. At the very first
onset Montgomery was killed, and Arnold was struck by a mus
ket-ball that broke his leg. Rising on his other leg, he tried
to press forward, and cheered the men as they passed him.
They made a galh,nt fight, but it was in vain : Quebec was not
to fall."

" What a shame it was," exclaimed the boys, " that he should
fail ! but it was a desperate venture at the best. The fight
must have given him a great reputation."

".Yes," said Mrs. Longwood. " Congress at once promoted
him to be a brigadier. The Americans were forced to retire
slowly from Canada, and the British followed them up as they
went. Gen. Carleton was determined to get full possession of
Lake Champlain, because of its nearness to Ticonderoga. The
British always had their eyes on Ticonderoga, longing to gain it,.


because, with it once in their hands, they thought they could easily
force their way to Albany, and effect a junction with the forces
in New York. So Carleton began to build vessels with all speed,
and Arnold, too, began to build vessels to fight him. Of course
Carleton had great advantages. He was not far from Montreal,
his base of supplies, whence he could get men and material,
and he had the whole purse of England to draw from, while

Online LibraryRichard MarkhamColonial Days : being stories and ballads for young patriots ; as recounted by five boys and five girls ; in Around the yule log, Aboard the Mavis, On the edge of winter → online text (page 16 of 30)