Robert Tomes.

Battles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) online

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cre, they were much exaggerated by the
contemporary reports, which have been
repeated by most subsequent historians.
Two well-authenticated incidents., howev
er, were of a nature sufficiently terrible
to set the imagination brooding;, until hor-

O O- 7

ror accumulated upon horror.

Several of the fugitives, having thrown
away their arms, succeeded in swimming
to an island in the river called Monocko-
nock, and hid themselves amid the brush
wood. The enemy were in hot pursuit,
arid followed them across the stream, and,
having deliberately wiped their muskets,
which had been wetted by the water, re-



loaded them, and began to beat up the
island in search of the hidden fugitives.
One of the pursuers was a former tory
settler of Wyoming ; ( and as he passed
slowly along, carefully scrutinizing every
covert, he suddenly came upon a fugitive,
who proved to be his brother ! " So, it
is you, is it ?" exclaimed he fiercely. The
poor fellow, finding himself discovered,
came out of his hiding-place, and, throw
ing himself upon his knees, begged his
brother to spare his life ; declaring that,
if he would, he would live with him and
serve him as a slave for the rest of his
days. " All this is mighty good, but you

are a d d rebel !" was the only answer

to this fraternal appeal ; and the monster
levelled his rifle, and shot his brother
dead upon the spot.

One Elijah Shoemaker, while endeav
oring to escape, plunged into the river;
but, not being able to swim, he feared to
venture beyond his depth. At this mo
ment he was observed by one of the ene
my, a tory of the name of Windecker,
who had been indebted to Shoemaker for
many an act of neighborly kindness in
former days. " Come out. Shoemaker !"
hallooed Windecker. "I am afraid you
will give me up to the Indians," was the
reply. No," rejoined Windecker, "I ll
save you ; they sha n t hurt you." The
poor fellow, trusting to his word, no soon
er came within his reach, than the per
fidious Windecker dashed his tomahawk
into his head, and sent the lifeless body
floating down the stream.

Some fugitives escaped by swimming
the river ; others by crossing the morass
to the mountains, and hiding themselves

until night, when they made their way
back to Fort Forty. The two colonels,
being mounted, were the first to reach
the fort, and bring the sad intelligence
of the day s disaster to the defenceless
old men, Avomen, and children, there hud
dled together. After they had drawn up
terms of capitulation to be offered to the
enemy, Colonel Butler crossed the river
to Wilkesbarre ; and early next morning,
throwing a feather-bed across his horse,
and mounting with his wife behind him,
he made his escape from the valley, leav
ing Colonel Denison in chief command
of the fort.

In the evening, a small reinforcement
of militia from the neighboring towns of
Salern and Huntington arrived at Fort
Forty, which somewhat strengthened the
garrison, but did not encourage them to
hold out. On the next morning, f
Colonel John, the " Indian" But
ler, sent in a summons to Colonel Deni
son to surrender, which, after a short ne
gotiation, was complied with. The terms
agreed upon were, that the settlers should
lay -down their arms, and not resume them
during the contest; that the fort be de
molished ; that the continental stores be
given up ; that the British prisoners in
the fort be released ; that the inhabitants
be allowed to occupy their farms, that
their lives and property be preserved, and
that Colonel Butler should use his utmost
influence with his troops and Indians in
securing these conditions. It was also
agreed that the property taken from " the
people called tories" should be made good,
and that they should be allowed to re
main in the peaceable possession of their



July 5.

farms, and unmolested in pursuing a free
trade throughout the settlement.

On the ensuing day, the gates
of Fort Forty were thrown open,
and the tory Butler entered with his Ran
gers, followed by the Seneca chief En-
cingerachtan and his Indian warriors.


The arms of the garrison were all stacked,
and Butler, pointing to them as his sav
age allies came in, exclaimed, " See what
a present the Yankees have made you !"
During the day, the Indians contented
themselves with skulking about the set
tlement, and peering with their painted
faces through the doors of the houses ;
and, although they greatly terrified the
inhabitants, they did not harm them or
their property. The savages, however,
soon gave way to their instincts for plun
der. Helping themselves to the rum in
the shops and taverns, they soon became
so wild with drink, that their leader, But
ler, lost all control over them. He was
remonstrated with by Colonel Denison,
for not extending the protection to the
inhabitants which had been guarantied
by the treaty. Butler, however, waved
his hand significantly, and declared, "I
can do nothing with them." Without
further effort to check their barbarous
propensities, he marched out of the val
ley with his tory confederates, and left the
settlement to the mercy of his savage allies.

The Indians, in company with their
squaws, now went prowling about from
house to house, from barn to henroost, in
search of plunder. Nothing escaped them.
They tore the hunting -shirts from the
men s backs, and pulled the bonnets from
the heads of the women. The " great

chests" were ransacked, and the stores of
household linen, so dear to good house
wives, carried off by the filthy hands of
drunken squaws. The ovens were robbed
of the last loaf, before the wistful eyes of
famishing children. They seized upon
the feather-beds, flung out the feathers,
and, cramming in their plunder, threw
them upon the horses stolen from the sta
bles ; and then decking themselves in ill-
assorted finery, they paraded in grotesque
triumph throughout the settlement. The
drunken, -painted squaw, with bonnets
put on all awry, and towering three deep
upon her head, with a bright scarlet cloak
hanging before her, a terrific wand in her
hand strung with bloody scalps, and jolt
ing upon some sorry nag along the road,
presented a horrid picture, }^et so gro
tesque, that it did not fail, even in those
hours of trouble, to raise a laugh from the
suffering spectators.

Thus the savages revelled in riot and
robbery from day to day for a week, un
til they finally set fire to all the houses
in the settlement, and gave up the fields
of grain to the. trampling hoof of horse
and cattle. The inhabitants fled for ref
uge to the fort, where they remained for
a fortnight, living upon a concealed store
of provisions, which had fortunately es
caped the observation of the Indian rob
bers, who did not leave " a hoof, a kernel,
or a morsel of bread or meat," which they
could either carry away or burn.

As their provisions were being rapidly
exhausted, as all hope of aid from beyond
the mountains passed away, and as the
savages still prowled about, and peered
into the very embrasures of the fort, and




jeered at the poor wretches huddled to
gether with the cruel threat, " Wild In
dians come soon kill Yankee and eat
em !" it was determined to abandon the
ill-fated colony. Their work of devasta
tion .accomplished, the savages returned
to their homes, having burnt every dwel
ling but a few near the fort at Wilkesbarre.

A general exodus of the survivors now
took place. Some constructed rude boats,
and risked their all upon the dangerous
waters of the Susquehanna; some few
were fortunate enough to find a stray
horse or a pair of oxen, while the greater
portion were obliged to travel their wea
ry wny on foot. With a scanty supply
of provisions to begin their journey, they
had exhausted them all long before they
reached the hospitable homes of their
countrymen beyond the mountains. In
their hunger they were forced to feed
themselves on the twigs and roots of the
sassafras and the wild berries which grew
by the roadside. Women and children
sickened and died by the way, and strong
men almost gave up in despair when they
found themselves powerless to save those
they loved.

In a few weeks, however, the fugitives
began to return, in order to secure such
of their crops as had escaped destruction.
In October they undertook to gather the
remains of their comrades who had fallen,
and to give them decent burial. The
weather had been so hot and dry, that the
mutilated corpses were shrivelled up and
inoffensive. They could be recognised
only by the clothing that remained upon
them. They were taken up with pitch
forks, and deposited in a common grave,-

which remained unmarked for more than
half a century. At last a granite monu
ment was erected over the spot, bearing
appropriate inscriptions, and recording
the names of those who fell in that fatal

During the remainder of the war, Wy
oming was harassed by prowling bands
of Indians. No man who went into the
fields in the morning had any security
that he would not be waylaid, shot, and
scalped, before night. Scarcely a month
passed which was not marked by some
murder committed by the marauding sav

Thus was the beautiful vale of Wyo
ming made desolate by a savage enemy.
The dark morasses of the Pocono river,
through which the wretched fugitives
from the battle fled before the ruthless
tomahawks of Butler s pursuing Indians
now received the fitting appellation of
"Tlie Slmdes of Death." The valley had
never resembled the picture which Camp
bell, with a poet s license, had painted of
its earlier days:

" Delightful Wyoming ! beneath thy skies

The happy shepherd-swains had naught to do
But feed their flocks on green declivities,

Or skim perchance thy lake with light canoe."

In these later times, there is but little
hope of an Arcadian revival, with such
unpastoral elements as a puffing locomo
tive, a smoky furnace-chimney, or a board
ed factory. Wyoming, with all its attrac
tions, will ever owe more to the genius
of the poet for its picturesque reputation
than to the rich bounty of Nature or the
homely virtues of its inhabitants.





A Timely Escape. Arrival of a French Fleet. The Count D Estaing. Encampment of the Americans. Character ot
D Estaing. French Hyberbole. Arrival of the French Minister and the American Agent. Admiral Lord Howe on
the Move. Spirit of the British Tars. The two Fleets in Sight. D Estaing prudently sails away. He arrives at
Newport. Another Chance lost. Expedition against Rhode Island. Active Preparations by Washington. John
Hancock in Arms. Plans of Attack. Postponement. Gallic: Sensibility. An Apology demanded. Appearance of
Lord Howe. D Estaing sails out to meet Him. Manoeuvres. General Sullivan begins the Siege. A Terrible
gtorm. No Appearance of D Estaing. He arrives at Last. The Adventures of his Fleet. The Storm. Fight with
the British. A Drawn Battle. D Estaing goes to Boston to refit. Disappointment of the Americans. Quarrel with
Sullivan. A Satirical Order. Complaint of D Estaing to Congress. Lafayette interposes. The British Attack.
The Americans on the Defensive. Retreat of Sullivan. New Bedford laid in Ruins.


July 8,

SIR HENRY CLINTON with his army
and Admiral Lord Howe with his
ships had escaped just in time. They
had left Philadelphia and the Delaware
only a few days before the formidable
French fleet, under Count D Estaing, ap
peared off the mouth of the riv
er. The voyage from Toulon, pro
longed by head winds, had lasted eighty-
seven days, and the French admiral was
thus balked of his purpose of caging the
English earl within the Delaware. D Es-
taing s fleet, composed of twelve ships-of-
the-line and six frigates, and having on
board, in addition to full crews, troops
amounting to over four thousand men,
was in a condition to have effectually
checked the movements of the British, if
not, with the co-operation of Washing
ton s army, to have forced both Howe
and Clinton to terms.

This practical demonstration of the ad
vantages of the "French alliance" gave
great encouragement to the Americans,
and they warmly welcomed the arrival
of D Estaing. His personal reputation
was not such as to be particularly assu

ring, or the reverse ; but the substantial
aid be brought with him, in the shape of
great ships and powerful armaments, to
gether with thousands of men, were such
accessions of strength, that for the first
time the people felt that they had such
resources at command as to remove all
dread of being overwhelmed by the ma
terial weight and wealth of the powerful
nation against which they were bravely

French admiral, was a native of the prov
ince of Auvergne, and had acquired some
reflected glory while serving under the
great Marshal Saxe, and in the East In
dies under the famous native Irishman
and naturalized Frenchman De Lally.
D Estaing had somewhat stained his gal
lantry by breaking his parole when a pris
oner in the hands of the English ; but his
rank and family influence in France se
cured him promotion, and, although his
early career had been in the army, when
appointed to the command of the fleet
now sent to the succor of the American
cause, he was among the most prominent




of the French naval commanders. On
arriving off the mouth of the Delaware,
he immediately sent a despatch to Wash
ington, which was characteristic of the
man, who had more than the usual Gallic
fondness for hyberbole. He was charged,
he said, witli the glorious task of giving
his allies, the United States of America,
the most striking proofs of his royal mas
ter s affection. His happiness in perform
ing it w r as enhanced, he declared, by the
consideration of serving with General
Washington, whose talents and ureat ac-

< - * O

tions " have insured him, in the eyes of
all Europe, the title truly sublime of De
liverer of America"

The count, disappointed in his expecta
tion of catching Lord Howe in the Dela
ware, now sent a small vessel to convey
to Philadelphia Monsieur Gerard, the first
minister from France, and the recalled
American agent, Silas Deane, who had
come passengers with the fleet, and then
went in pursuit of his lordship.

In the meantime, Admiral Howe, hav
ing heard of the count s arrival, prepared
to receive him. The British lleet was
lying within Sandy Hook, and, although
it was small compared with the French
(consisting only of six ships of sixty-four
guns, three of fifty, two of forty, and a
lew small frigates and sloops, making six
hundred and fourteen guns in all, with
which to oppose D Estaing s eight hun
dred and fifty-four), it soon showed a very
vigorous manifestation of resistance. The
spirit of the English sailors was aroused
to great enthusiasm by the prospect of
fighting with their ancient and heredita
ry enemies. D Estaing arrived off New

York, but seemed to hesitate about ven
turing into the bav. He remained at an-


chor for eleven days off Sandy Hook with
his formidable fleet, separated only by a
narrow strip of sand from his adversary.
During this delay, Lord Howe had a good
opportunity of putting his ships in order
and recruiting his crews. English sea
men of all classes readily offered their
services. A thousand volunteers were im
mediately despatched from the transports
to serve in the fleet; others were daily
coming in, and among them masters and
mates, who did not hesitate to abandon
their traders in order to have a brush
with the French. So many officers and
soldiers of the army contended eagerly
to serve on board the rnen-of-war as ma
rines, that it became necessary to choose
them by lot.

Count d Estaing, however, had doubts,
strengthened by the judgment of his pi
lots, about the safety of carrying his large
vessels across the bar ; and, after his lon<;

77 o

delay, he weighed anchor and set sail for
Newport. He again lost the chance of a
success. A few days after he put to sea,
several British men-of-war arrived, which
belonged to Admiral Byron s fleet, that
had been scattered in a storm. Within
a week after D Estaing s departure, no
less than four vessels, each one singly,
came and anchored inside of the Hook.
They were so damaged by the severe
weather to which they had been exposed,
that they were little more than so many
wrecks, and were so incapable of resist
ance, that they would have struck imme
diately had they encountered the French
fleet on their arrival. To add to D Es-



[PART n.

tiling s chagrin, he soon learned that, a
few days after he had left the Delaware,
a large convoy of ships laden with pro
visions for the British forces, of \vhich
they were in great need, had entered the
river. By a neglect on the part of the
British ministry, these storeshipshad been
allowed to sail for Philadelphia, although
orders to evacuate that city had been pre
viously sent out. Count d Estaing de
clared, with an emphatic sacre, that the
English had the devil s own luck.

The expedition against the British on
Rhode island, which was now undertaken
by the French fleet, was suggested by
Washington, who did his utmost, by an
active co-operation, to secure a successful
result. He urged General Sullivan, then
in command at Providence, to be on the
alert, and make all possible preparations
by land. Militia were ordered to be called
out from New England to reinforce the
regulars in the proposed enterprise, and
Washington sent additional troops from
his own camp in New Jersey. These lat
ter, with their officers, as far as possible,
were selected from those who were con
nected with New England, and especially
with Rhode Island, in order that to the
incentive of duty there might be added
the spur of interest. The Massachusetts
and Rhode Island brigades of Glover and
Varnum were accordingly despatched;
and General Greene, a Rhode-Islander, al
though he could be ill spared, as he was
then performing the important functions
of quartermaster-general, was ordered to
take command of one division, and La
fayette of the other. The young marquis
had been selected because he was a com

patriot of D Estaing, and it was thought
his presence might serve to regulate and
harmonize the naturally-discordant com
bination of Americans with the French.
General Sullivan, already in command at
Providence, was of course commander-in-
chief of the land-force, which soon num
bered ten thousand men. Such was the
eagerness to co-operate with their new
allies, and their confidence of a triumph
ant success, that thousands of gentlemen-
volunteers had thronged in from Boston,
Salem, Newburyport, and Portsmouth, to
offer their services. John Hancock, who
had retired from the presidency of Con
gress, had buckled on his sword and led
the militia of Massachusetts as their ma
jor-general, but was not destined to gar
ner from the field of battle any fresh lau
rels to add to those which he had har
vested in the state.

Count D Estaing now arrived with his
formidable fleet off Point Judith,
but it was not until some days
after that he moved in toward the har
bor, where General Sir Robert Pb-ott. the

O /

commander of the British forces, made
preparations for receiving the expected
attack. The squadron, consisting of four-
frigates and several smaller vessels, were
burned or sunk by the British; and Pigott
withdrew all his troops, amounting to six
thousand, from the various forts scattered
over Rhode island, within his strong in-
trenchments, about three miles from New

D Estaing, having concocted with Gen
eral Sullivan the plan of operations, by
which the former was to push into the har
bor with his fleet, and the latter should

July 29,



August 8,

cross from the main over Seaconnet chan
nel and attack the British intrenchments
by land, was prepared to begin his part,
when unfortunately a delay took place.
Sullivan sent word to the count that he
was not ready, in consequence of the non-
arrival of some expected troops. The at
tack was therefore postponed until the
10th of August.

In the meantime, the French
admiral took his fleet into the
harbor, under a heavy fire from the Brit
ish batteries (which, however, he soon
passed), and anchored his ships above the
town. General Sullivan had also moved
forward to Tiverton, ready to cross Sea
connet channel at the time agreed upon ;
but finding on arriving there in the night
(August 8th), that the works on the op
posite side had been abandoned in con
sequence of the withdrawal by the British
commander of all his troops within his in
trenchments near Newport, he could not
resist the temptation of crossing. Early
the next morning, Sullivan ac
cordingly threw his whole force
across to the northern part of Rhode isl
and, on which Newport is situated, and
thus made this movement one day sooner
than had been agreed upon with D Es

The French admiral, who had not been
informed of the change in the plan of op -
erations, felt highly vexed at this appa
rent want of respectful consideration for
a man of his rank and dignity, and now
refused to act until his wounded sensibil
ity was relieved by an explanation or
healed by an apology. While the irrita
ble Frenchman was undergoing the sooth-

August 9.

ing process, the appearance of Admiral
Lord Howe and his fleet off Newport put
a sudden stop for the time being to all
thought of an attack upon the island, and
D Estaing concentrated his attentions up
on his naval antagonist.

As soon as he had discovered the des
tination of the French, Lord Howe hast
ily refitted the shattered vessels belong
ing to Admiral Byron s squadron, and
with his fleet thus reinforced sailed from
New York in search of D Estaing. The
wind blew directly in for the harbor of
Newport, but Earl Howe thought it more
prudent to come to anchor off Point Ju
dith. The count was eager to try his
metal with his lordship, and, considering
his arrival a challenge to an encounter,
he determined to accept it. The wind
changing, gave D Estaing an opportunity
to stand out with all his fleet; and ac
cordingly, the next morning, at
an early hour, he sailed out of
Newport harbor, sending word to General
Sullivan before he left that on his return
he would be prepared to carry out the
concerted plan against the British on the

In the meantime, Lord Howe wei;hed


anchor and made preparations to receive
his antagonist; but, not willing that the
latter should have the advantage of the
weather-gage of him, the earl tacked and
manoeuvred his fleet, in order to get be
tween him and the wind. D Estaing was
not less anxious to retain his position ;
and the two squadrons, while thus trying
to outmanoeuvre each other, ran out to
sea, and out of sight of Rhode island.
General Sullivan had already advanced

Aug. 10,



[PART n.

All*, 12,

from the northern point of the island,
where he had landed, to Quaker hill, about
ten miles from the British lines near New
port ; and when he heard that his French
ally, instead of co-operating with him, had
gone to give battle to Admiral Howe, he
was so vexed, that he determined to car
ry out the enterprise without waiting for
the impracticable Frenchman. Lafayette,
with a natural sympathy for his compa
triot, strongly urged Sullivan not to be
gin operations until the return of D Es
taing; but the American officers were all
strenuously in favor of commencing the
siege at once, without waiting for the
count, whose delays and punctilious for
malities had greatly disgusted them.

The siege began ; but little
progress had been made, howev
er, when a severe storm came on, which
raged with the violence of a tropical hur
ricane, blowing down the tents, damaging
the ammunition, and causing the death
of sa>me of the soldiers and horses. The
storm lasted two days. On the third, the
sun shone brightly ; and the troops, al
though somewhat dispirited by their suf
ferings, prepared themselves to continue
the siege. A day having been spent in
drying the arms and ammunition, and re
pairing the tents torn by the wind, the
soldiers on the next morning marched
to Honeyman s hill, within only two miles
of the British intrenchments. Here they

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 85 of 126)