Samuel G. (Samuel Griswold) Goodrich.

A tale of the Revolution : and other sketches online

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See page 40.







Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1845,


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.

A?^ n'i4(^




OF Prosperity, 71

DICK HIELDOVER; or, Crime its own Pun-
ishment, 109




A LITTLE to the west of the point where
Connecticut River pours itself into Long
Island Sound, lies a small, circular piece
of land, called Duck Island. It is some
two miles in circuit, and perhaps two miles
from the shore, which here consists of the
fine old town of Saybrook.

It is now about eighty years since this
place was the seat of a hospital for the
small-pox. At that period the kine-pox,
since employed to check the most fearful
and formidable disease that ever afflicted
mankind, was unknown. The only miti-
gation of small-pox was obtained by inocu-
lation, which produced the disease in a
milder form. Those who caught it by iiiy
fection, or had it the '' natural way," to use
the common phrase of that period, were


always supposed to be in imminent danger
of losing their lives.

The hospital of Duck Island was there-
fore resorted to by persons who wished to
be inoculated for the small-pox. The rea-
son for selecting such a situation was, that
no danger of the infection could arise when
there were no inhabitants near.

The island itself was originally a barren,
sandy knoll, without trees ; but the propri-
etor. Doctor Joinly, had taken pains to cul-
tivate and embellish it, and, at the time of
which we speak, it possessed a fertile and
inviting aspect. Two large and handsome
buildings, with a variety of out-houses, were
erected upon the island, and furnished ac-
commodations for the patients of the hos-
pital. The establishment had acquired great
reputation, arising from the high professional
standing of the proprietor, and the admirable
manner in which it was conducted. Nearly
a hundred patients were constantly in the
hospital, which, with the necessary attend-
ants, made the little island seem like a small
city in the midst of the sea.

It might seem that an institution so be-


nignant in its operation should find shelter
even from the ravages of war ; but it was
not so. The revolutionary struggle com-
menced in 1775, and soon pervaded the
w^hole country. The British fleet, under
Lord Howe, fled from Boston in the spring
of 1776, and in the course of the summer,
after severe fighting, New York fell into the
hands of the enemy. Long Island Sound
was soon occupied by British ships of war.
The hospital on Duck Island was respected
for a time, — as much, perhaps, from a fear
of infection, as from sentiments of humanity.
But this at last fell a victim to the ruth-
less spirit which animated the foe.

A British ship of war was one day passing
near the island. In mere wantonness she
opened her battery, and the deadly cannon
shot came ploughing up the soil and rend-
ing the out-buildings of the hospital. All
within the establishment was instantly con-
verted into confusion and uproar. The sick
patients leaped from their beds and fled
screaming through the passages ; while shot
after shot now struck the houses, and, pierc-
ing them through and through, rendered the


whole a scene of indescribable terror and
misery. Two or three children were killed,
and their blood was spattered upon the walls
of the rooms where patients lay, too sick
to move from their beds. Some expired
from fright, while others, almost naked, and
wasted to a shadow, leaped up in frenzy and
went raving forth into the open air.

We need not dwell upon this fearful
scene, which is only one of the common
fruits of the great game of war — a game
which has made Alexander, and Caesar, and
Napoleon, so glorious. Doctor Joinly did
every thing in his power to calm his agitated
patients, but in vain. The time of trial was,
however, short ; the commander of the ship
of war only desired to clear out his guns,
which had been loaded for some time ; and
when he had done this, and had had some
fine sport, he and his iron battery passed on.
What was sport to him, however, was agony
and death to others. The hospital of Duck
Island was destroyed ; the buildings were
torn to rags by the cannon shot; several
persons were killed outright, and others died
of agitation and exposure. It was in vain



to think of continuing the establishment5
when it was exposed to occurrences like
this. The patients were removed to the
main land, the island was deserted, and the
buildings were left to moulder into dust.

It was scenes like this, proceeding from
the wanton cruelty of the British forces, that
roused the American people to resistance,
and united them, heart to heart, for liberty
or death. The feelings which the British
officers brought to this country were com-
posed of hatred and contempt; they hated
us as rebels, and despised us as Yankees,
which, in their ignorant prejudice, meant
every thing mean and cowardly. They
made war upon us, as the sportsman pur-
sues noxious game, which it is a pleasure
not only to kill, but to worry, irritate, and
torment. The attack upon the hospital of
Duck Island no doubt passed for a good
joke among the British officers ; but if so,
it was a joke somewhat dearly bought, as
we shall see.

The indignation of the people of Say-
brook, and indeed of the people generally
along the Connecticut shore, on account


of the destruction of the hospital, knew
no bounds. A movement was immediately
made to raise a body of troops, and des-
patch them against the enemy, now quar-
tered upon Long Island. A regiment was
soon assembled, and Dr. Joinly was chosen
as colonel. Their adventures we shall
relate in another chapter.


14 A taLe of the revolution.


It is not our design to detail the pro-
ceedings of the regiment raised in Saybrook,
and commanded by Colonel Joinly. It is
sufficient to say that it marched toward New
York, and crossing over the Sound to Long
Island, for the purpose of executing some
plan against a detachment of British troops
stationed there, they were attacked by a
superior force, and after some brave fighting,
were driven back. A small portion of them,
including the colonel, being separated from
the rest, were surrounded and captured.
The rest were dispersed and returned to
their homes.

New York had now fallen into the hands
of the British, and General Clinton, the
British commander, had established his head-
quarters there. The citizens, for the most
part, remained at home, though many fam-
ilies had departed for other portions of the
country. Those who remained were not
disturbed in their ordinary business, though


they were carefully watched by the British

The city of New York at this period
seemed almost like a British town. The
soldiers of King George, dressed in their
red coats, and bearing the British flag, were
seen parading the streets every day, and
fining the city with the sounds of the fife
and drum. Sir Henry Clinton had a fine
house, where he might often be seen sur-
rounded by British officers gayly decked in
gold lace, rich epaulettes, and cocked hats
ornamented with plumes.

Though the business of these men was
w'ar, they seemed, while in New York, to
be chiefly occupied with amusement. It is
true that, during the day, they rode forth
on fine horses to review the troops, ex-
amine the fortifications, or inspect military
stores. Sometimes they assembled together
for counsel, when they might be seen care-
fully inspecting maps, reading despatches^
and forming deep schemes to defeat General
Washington and conquer our country.

But although a portion of their time was
thus occupied, still these officers seemed to


live as if amusement engrossed their atten-
tion. They were often seen gallanting gay
ladies through the streets, and almost every
evening was devoted to pleasure. Frequent
levees were held at the general's house,
where music, dancing, and revelry, seemed
to fill the hearts of all who were present.
There were several American families in
New York who were friendly to the British
and opposed to the cause of liberty, and who
were called tories. These paid their court
to General Clinton, and did every thing in
their power to please, amuse, and gratify
his officers.

Thus things went gaily on in the city,
while war raged in all parts of the coun-
try. Towns and villages were attacked ; the
houses plundered and burned ; the inhabit-
ants slain, or driven in poverty and deso-
lation from their houses. Even where these
scenes of violence had not occurred, and
in places remote from battle and bloodshed,
there were sorrow and gloom hanging over
many a family and many a village. To form
an idea of this, let us turn our attention a
moment to Saybrook and the home of Col-


onel Joinly. He had now been absent about
two years, being detained in captivity at
New York. He had left behind him a
wife and family of six children.

Before his departure, they had lived in
the enjoyment of wealth and prosperity.
Their house stood upon the bank of the
Connecticut River, commanding a view of
the noble bay which spreads out at the
point where that stream mingles with the
ocean. The edifice was of the olden fash-
ion, of two stories, with a steep roof and
heavy cornices. It was of ample dimen-
sions, with several outhouses and two large
baitis ; the latter showing that a liberal farm
was connected with the domain.

Several lofty elms stood around \ and two
in front, with their vast spreading branches,
especially, indicated the full century which
had elapsed since the house was reared. In
the present instance, they might have been
emblematic of the heads of the house. It
seldom happens that two nobler spirits are
united than in the alliance of Colonel Joinly
and his wife.

He was distinguished alike for manly


beauty, fine intellect, and true nobleness
of soul. Eminent in his profession, he had
acquired wealth, which had been used to
embellish his home, bestow the advantages
of education upon his family, and dispense
charity around him. His wife was in every
respect his equal.

I remember her well, for she hved to
the age of threescore and ten, and when I
was a boy, and sat upon her knee, she told
me the tales which I am now telling. In
her old age, her tall form was erect, her
eye black and piercing; and as she walked
upon her high-heeled shoes, she seemed the
very image of dignity. She was still scru-
pulous as to her toilette; and though she had
the long waist, the tall cap, the frizzed gray
hair, the rich, stiff, black silk of the olden
time, there was a graciousness of manner,
a heavenly sanctity of countenance about
her, which rendered her, as my memory
has preserved her portrait, one of the most
beautiful beings I have ever beheld. There
is surely no extravagance in conceiving that
the two noble elms, that stood before the
old mansion, were emblematic of the master
and mistress who presided over it.


For a series of years, an unbroken tide of
prosperity had seemed to attend the Joinly
family. In the enjoyment of wealth and
respectability, they also possessed the con-
fidence and good will of all around. They
might, perhaps, be considered a Uttle aristo-
cratic, and there was doubtless something
of family pride in their hearts.

But these things were common in that
day ; the English custom of dividing society
into different ranks was prevalent in the
country. Where there was wealth, talent,
and good character, a certain degree of
superiority was assumed. It did not then,
as in our day, give offence, for such was the
practice of the people ; and especially in the
case of the Joinlys, was the rank assumed
on the one hand, and accorded on the other,
without provoking unpleasant feelings. In
the dignity they maintained there was nothing
of strutting haughtiness, or obtrusive pride ;
and such was their reputation for kindness,
hospitality and charity to all, that envy was
disarmed and scandal silenced.

Such was the state of things when the
hospital on Duck Island was destroyed.


This was a serious disaster ; for the amount
of property that was lost was considerable.
It was, however, followed by other calam-
ities. Colonel Joinly expended a large sum
of money in preparing his own outfit and
that of the regiment, all of which was speed-
ily dissipated. Beside this, the unfortunate
result of his expedition, though in no respect
occasioned by want of skill or courage, had
impaired the reputation of the colonel, and
served in no small degree to mortify the
feelings of the family.

But more than all, his prolonged captivity,
and the circumstances wiiich attended it,
served to harass both himself and those who
were nearest and dearest to his heart. He
was detained at the western extremity of
Long Island, contiguous to New York, where
a large number of American prisoners were
kept. Some of these were in barracks, and
others in the hulks of large vessels, which
were moored near the shore of the present
city of Brooklyn.

Crowded closely together in these dismal
apartments, with unwholesome and scanty
food, surrounded with a putrid atmosphere,


and deprived of every comfort, the poor
wretches suffered every thing that humanity
could endure. Many of them fell victims
to these miseries, as well as to diseases
engendered by destitution, famine, and
infection. Colonel Joinly, from his rank,
was spared some of these evils ; but he
was a physician, and seeing the sufferings
of the poor wretches, his generous heart
was touched with pity, and from the first,
he devoted himself to their alleviation as
far as was in his power. He expended the
little money he possessed in the purchase
of medicines; and when this was exhausted,
he sent home to his family, begging them
to forward him all the money in their power,
to be employed in this pressing charity.

Though already impoverished, and strug-
gling under many difficultieSj his wife des-
patched all the money she could collect,
and added several articles of jewelry. All
this was soon expended, and still there was a
demand for more. The colonel, at length,
exchanged his gold watch and his gold
sleeve-buttons for medicines ; and finally
he proceeded to some of the merchants in


New York, and ran in debt to a consider-
able amount for the same object.

From the earliest dawn, till late at night,
he was devoted to the poor, suffering sol-
diers. Sometimes a hundred of them were
prostrate with disease, and he was the only
physician. Naturally of a kind and sympa-
thizing nature, he felt the sorrows of these
unhappy men, as if they were his own. He
not only administered to them as a phys-
ician, but he alleviated their sorrows in
every way that his ingenuity could suggest.

The soldiers looked upon him as their
only friend, and they regarded him with
an affection almost bordering upon idolatry.
In a multitude of cases, he was called by
the dying soldiers to communicate their
last words to their friends, and a large part
of his time was taken up in writing letters
of this nature. Nothing could exceed the
patience, the gentleness, the sympathy, with
which he would sit by the bedside of the
dying, soothing their agonies of body and
softening their mental sorrows.

While thus, for two long years. Colonel
Joinly was occupied in his career of charity.


his family at home had been subjected to
many privations. Every thing that could
be done by a woman was achieved by the
energy, skill, and devotion of his wife. But
they had been completely impoverished by
the draining of their resources, and nothing
was left for the support of a large and ex-
pensive family but the farm. From this,
the absolute necessaries of life were indeed
procured, but nothing more.

The situation of Mrs. Joinly was, in many
respects, distressing. Her husband was in
captivity, and in circumstances which led
her to feel that his life must soon be sac-
rificed to exposure, care, and anxiety. She
knew the depth of his feelings, and foresaw
that, unless he were soon released from his
present condition, he would speedily wear
out his life from mere sympathy with the
distress around him. She had several sons,
now approaching manhood, who needed the
guidance of a father ; and she had daughters,
who were deprived of advantages which they
once possessed, and which a father's pres-
ence alone could restore.

With all her care, she felt too that stern


poverty was creeping upon them. The old
family carriage had been laid aside, the
sleek horses were gone, and the plough-horse
alone remairjed in their stead. The ample
flock of sheep had dwindled down to some
half-dozen ewes. Nothing remained of the
noble dairy but two lean cows. The fences
of the farm were going to decay, and every
thing around seemed to wear an aspect
of ruin and dilapidation.

Hitherto, Mrs. Joinly had supported her
adversities with firmness, or if she had mo-
ments of weakness, they were hidden from
the view of all around, and the tears which
were shed, fell in secrecy and silence. But
at last, she wrote a letter to her husband,
setting forth her anxieties, and begging him
earnestly to adopt some means by which
he would be able to return.

When this letter reached Colonel Joinly,
his heart was wrung with anguish. It seemed
impossible that he should leave the prisoners
to their fate, and yet the call of his family
appeared imperative. With a view of dis-
charging his duty to all, he proceeded to
General Clinton, and in moving terms set


before him the distresses of the prisoners,
and the necessity of provision, of medicines,
medical attendants, and other comforts.
His earnestness and eloquence, extorted a
promise of compliance with these reason-
able requests ; but the event proved that it
was promise alone.

Colonel Joinly also wrote to General
Washington, entreating him to provide for
his immediate exchange. He set before him
his great sacrifices, his broken constitution,
his ruined fortunes, his distressed family.
The reply received from the commander-
in-chief was full of kindly sympathy; but it
still expressed a belief that Colonel Joinly's
presence with the distressed prisoners was
indispensable, and that his leaving them
would be but a dereliction of duty.

In a state almost bordering on despair, his
nerves already shaken by impaired health,
the colonel proceeded to General Clinton,
and besought him to grant him leave of
absence for a month, upon parole. The
request seemed to startle the general at first,
but great virtues make their way through
all hearts. Colonel Joinly's devotion to the


prisoners had become the theme of praise
even with the enemy, and had reached the
ears of the British commander. He there-
fore, after a little hesitation, granted the
request of Colonel Joinly, taking only his
word of honor as the pledge for his return.
The war-worn soldier now made prep-
arations to depart for his home ; but, owing
to some caprice in the British commander,
or other circumstances which we cannot
explain, at the moment Colonel Joinly was
about to depart, his leave of absence was
revoked, and, sick at heart, he was obliged
to submit to the disappointment which this
event occasioned.



We have related the bitter disappoint-
ment experienced by Colonel Joinly at be-
ing deprived of the means of release from
his captivity, and of even obtaining a short
respite for the purpose of visiting his family ;
nor was his sorrow mitigated by any pro-
pitious event. Time rolled on, and the evils
of his condition seemed rather to increase.
The number of the prisoners had accumu-
lated, and their miseries were aggravated
by all the possible horrors of the prison-
house ; — unhealthy provisions, foul apart-
ments, and a loathsome atmosphere, attend-
ed by disease and death.

His own elastic constitution was also rap-
idly bending beneath his various cares — his
incessant labors, the impurities which he
breathed, the scenes he witnessed, and gnaw-
ing anxieties for his family and his home.
At last, in one of his fits of depression, he
poured out his whole soul in a letter to his
wife. When she received it, it sank into


her inmost heart. Accustomed, however, to
confine her cares and anxieties to her own
breast, she did not impart the substance
of her letter to her already depressed and
anxious children.

She revolved the subject, however, deeply
in her own mind ; yet what could she, a
woman, do? Even could she devise the
means of escape for her husband, she knew
him too well to believe that he would take
advantage of it. She knew his chivalrous
pride ; his deep sense of duty ; his devotion
to the cause of his country and of humanity ;
and she believed that these mingled feelings
would unite to keep him at his post until
some arrangement could be made to supply
his place, and provide for the miserable suf-
ferers whose only comfort he seemed to be.

We may not say that there was no mo-
mentary repining, no rebel suggestions of
the heart against the ways of Providence,
in these stern events. There were moments
when she felt it impossible to be passive.
Again and again, in the solitude of her
chamber, with clenched hand and flashing
eye, she said, "I must do something — I


must do something ! " It is often easier
to rush into some headlong enterprise than
to submit with patient dignity to the dark,
uncertain course of time ; to bow with res-
ignation to the will of Heaven, saying,
''Thy will be done!"

This beautiful and lofty heroism is, how-
ever, no uncommon grace of woman ; and
Madam Joinly, after the storm of feeling
and affection had subsided into a calm, sat
down and wrote a cheering, submissive, and
consolatory letter to her husband. When
she had nearly completed it, she left it,
marked with her tears, upon the table m
the library, and went out of the room,
intending soon to return.

She was, however, detained ; and, dur-
ing her absence, her eldest son, whose name
was Worthington, came accidentally into
the room. His eye fell upon the two let-
ters, and he hastily ran them over. He
had known something before of his father's
anxiety and his mother'? sorrow ; but the
whole extent of their distress was now for
the first time unfolded to him. He was
a youth of quick perception, great self-


dependence, and firm resolution. Saying
nothing to any member of the family, and
treasuring the knowledge he had acquired
in his own heart, he strode rapidly down
to the river, leaped into a light boat, and
pushed off from the shore. Applying the
oars, he bent them with his vigorous strokes,
and the little shallop glided like an arrow
out upon the broad water of the sound.

The sea was smooth, and young Joinly,
as if he could now breathe freely, drew in
his oars, and permitted the boat to float at
the will of the waves. He then gave him-
self up to thought. The resolution to do
something was speedily fixed ; but what
should he attempt? Should he go to Gen-
eral Washington, and beg for his interfe-
rence ? Should he proceed to New York,
and, throwing himself at the feet of the
British general, solicit the liberation of his
parent ? Should he proceed to the scene
of his father's captivity, and devise the
means of his escape ?

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Online LibrarySamuel G. (Samuel Griswold) GoodrichA tale of the Revolution : and other sketches → online text (page 1 of 7)