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OB INCIDENTS IN THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR.
BY THE AUTHOB OF "THE DOCTOR'S TH1BD PATIENT."
Did my reader ever sec an "Indian summer," as we, in all the northern parts of the United States, witness it every autumn? It comes late in autumn, after the rich glories of summer are past—after the trees have yielded their fruits, and their foliage is either gone or touched and painted by the frosts. The sky wears a robe of softest blue, and the most delicious haze rests upon the landscape; the winds sleep, and the clouds float like piles of pearl, crested and fluted and polished; and though the green of nature is faded, yet Nature herself is robed in a loveliness, calm and indescribable. It is Summer, giving us her last smiles, ere she falls into the cold grave which Winter will dig, covering up her children in a winding-sheet of snow, and transfixing her streams with his cold, icy spear. This short period used to be seized upon by the Indian to complete whatever might be necessary about his wigwam or traps, or preparation for winter. Hence it has always been called "the Indian summer." The squirrels come out and do their last foraging; the wild fowls take their last looks upon the northern lakes beforo leaving, and the timid deer comes out of the forest to graze in the warm sun, ere he exchanges his summer diet for bushes and shoots.
It was early in the morning of the 1st of November, 1705, on one of these lovely days, that a canoe was seen coming down the Piscataqua River, in New Hampshire, and making towards the then little town of Portsmouth. The canoe was made of a single pine tree, and though she moved slowly and heavily, yet she was not ungraceful. In her bow was stuck the waving branch, fresh from a young piuc; and in the stern sat a youth alone, about twenty years old. He was dressed in homespun and home-made clothes, with a beaver-skin cap, around which was a black piece of crape, which hung streaming out behind. On his arms, just above each elbow, was another huge strip of old crape. It was evident that he was in deep mourning, or at least affecting to be. He landed just above the village, drew his canoe out of the water, ajid made his way into the town. Hardly had he entered it, before he met a girl about sixteen years of age, tripping her way hastily along the street, with a largo
portfolio in her arms. He? hardly noticed her, till she half paused, and with a comical look said,
"So, Henry Duel, you have come to be a fool with the rest of us!"
"Why, Kitty! is that you?"
"It's me, or my ghost. But what are you here for?"
"Why, to attend the funeral, to be sure. I have come down out of the woods to bury the dead," and then added in alow voice, "maybe to see a resurrection, too!"
"What a strange fellow you are! I suppose you would go further to see this mock funeral, than if all the rest of us should die, or even kill ourselves for your sport!"
"Now don't be trying that to see, Kitty. But where are you going so early?"
"Oh! Iam going with my father. But you are such a whig that I'm afraid to tell you anything. But my father is going to his 'log cottage,' as he calls it, till these times have gone past, and the people are ready to obey the Bible and honour the King, as you Puritans might read, if you chose!"
"Well, we won't quarrel now, dear Kitty, because I know you think just as I do about these things—and—"
"You don't know any such thing, Mr. Henry Buel," and she tossed her pretty head most scornfully. "Whether I do or not," she added after a pause, "I am glad thaj my poor father is going where he won't be so vexed, and where none of you naughty whigs can find him."
"He must go a great way off, if he means to get rid of one—at any rate."
The beautiful girl blushed, stammered something, shook her little hand and went on her way. Just then the sun began to peep from the east, and the moment his golden form was seen, the bells from the town began to toll slowly and solemnly. Black ribands were hung on the door handles, and muffled drums began to beat. At an early hour the crowds began to assemble near the old court house, and long before noon, it seemed as if "everybody" was there. It was the day appointed by Royal Proclamation, for the first distribution of the stamp paper, forced upon the Colonies by the British Parliament, and so indignantly rejected by the Colonies. The countenances of all evinced trouble, fear, and a scowl of daring. About eleven o'clock the marshals had formed the procession. The pall-bearers had gone into the court-house, and all stood silent. All had some grave badge of mourning about their persons. The bells had not stopped tolling since sunrise. Presently there came out, borne upon the shoulders of men, a new bier, on which was placed a superb coffin. It was richly ornamented, with a drooping eagle, spreading his feeble wings over it.. On the coffin-lid, in large letters, was printed "Lirerty, Aged Cxlv. Years," dating her birth in 16'20, at the landing of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock. With slow tread, and muffled drum, and tolling bell, the coffin was carried to the grave, and let down gently, amid the firing of minute guns. After resting in the grave, an oration was pronounced over this friend of the people, eloquent and stirring, and terribly severe upon the authors of her death. Scarcely had the oration closed, and they were preparing to fill up the grave, when our young canoe-man leaped up on the dirt which came out of the grave and cried,
"Hold, hold! I see her move! She ain't dead yet! She's only taken too much of their doctor-stuff! She's just awaking! Don't bury her!"
Like wildfire the spark caught and spread. There was a loud shout, and up came the coffin. The drums struck up a lively beat, the procession was re-formed, the badges were torn off the arms and thrown into the grave; the bells rang aloud with a merry peal, and "lirerty Revived" was hastily scrawled and stuck over the coffin, while the multitudes marched and shouted through the streets. The young man who applied the torch at the right moment, whether by design or accident, was pressed into the eelectcst of the company, and became at once quite a hero. He bore it all very meekly, and the ladies all declared the young fellow was bettor educated than he was dressed. The day was closed with a great supper, at which all partook who chose, with patriotic speeches, sentiments, and prophecies as to the future. At a late hour, Henry Buel sought his canoe, and leaving the town far behind, paddled far up the beautiful Piscataqua—now starlit in the centre, and shaded by overhanging trees on either bank.
Several years after this event, a part of the army under General Gates was encamped in the valley of the Hudson, watching the movements of Burgoyno, previous to the battle in which he surrendered. It was a small number of men who were selected especially to take the post of observation. As they were surrounded by hostile Indians, it was also a post of danger. They were encamped on a side
hill, sloping eastward, down to the river. On the north and south the country had been cleared up; but on the west lay a forest, unexplored, and which reached back to the Great Lakes. When the new-made soldier first arrived at the camp, he saw what seemed to be careless gaiety and leisure; but he soon found that behind the most glittering uniforms and parades, there were such things as poor and insufficient food, lodgings on the cold ground, without a covering, wounds that were not dressed, sickness without nursing, and distresses without alleviation, and often without compassion. Every selfish feeling of the heart had fullplay. There were watchings andmarchings amid autumnal storms and winter sleet, and often the officers were unfeeling, and even inhuman. About mid-day, a solitary soldier was seen returning to the camp, without arms of any kind. He had been off to a log .house almost four miles distant, but why he had been there no one knew. He was thoughtful, sober, and apparently greatly perplexed. He was a noble fellow, commonly known as "the Puritan," because he read his Bible regularly, never used profane language, never drank, and never quarrelled. Yet all knew that he was no coward. In the daily drill, leaping ditches and fences, carrying burdens, firing at the target, or acting the scout, he had no superior. For the last few days there had been quite a stir in the little encampment, by a danger, new and mysterious. It was found that the sentinel at the stand near the woods, on the west, had been missing every night. No traces of him were to be found. They could not have deserted, because the patrols at the north and south would have intercepted them, and because they would not dare to attempt to penetrate an interminable forest on the west. Some of them, too, were such characters as would never desert. For nearly a dozen nights, the sentinel had thus mysteriously disappeared. The men were not ashamed to refuse to take the post. Some thought the Evil One had too much to do with it. The humane but perplexed commander next called for volunteers, and none but the bravest offered themselves. But the result was the same. No braver men lived than some who were thus taken away. As the soldier whom I have mentioned, slowly bent his steps towards his tent, with his eyes on the ground, he was met by his Captain, with a face hardly less anxious. He thus addressed him:
"Well, Buel, you have got back quick. Have you made any discovery? Our Colonel is confounded, and relies on you to ferret out the mystery, and intimates that it will be as good as a captain's commission, if you can do it."
"Truce to his intimations, Captain. I have obtained no great light, and yet enough to 259
help me form a theory. I have determined to volunteer to stand sentinel to-night, provided the Colonel will let me make my own conditions."
"What are these?"
"I will name them before my comrades when we muster." "Very well."
Just before night, the little company were paraded, and volunteers for the forlorn post were called for. Buel at once stepped out of the ranks and said, "I will take the post, on three conditions. That there is a mysterious and certain danger, is very plain. That we are all afraid to take the stand, is equally plain. I trust I shall not be thought to forfeit the character of a soldier, if I insist on my conditions." "Name them."
"First, my post shall be nearer the woods; that is, I will have four trees this side of me, instead of having them all to the west of me."
"Well, I think the Colonel won't object to that." •
"Second, that I may blacken the barrel and bayonet of my gun."
"I think too, that may be allowed."
"Third, that I may whistle on my post."
"Whittle on your post! A sentinel whistle on his post!"
"Yes, sir, I mean just so, and I deem this so essential to my safety, that I cannot volunteer without it."
"Stand to your arms," shouted the Captain, and turned upon his heel for the quarters of the commander. In a few minutes he returned and dismissed the company. "Buel," said he, after the men had retired, "I believe you or the Colonel, or both, are crazy, or fools, and perhaps both. The Colonel says you may whistle softly and low."
"Very well, sir, that is all I ask for."
About ten o'clock the soldier stood leaning upon his gun. He had blackened the barrel, and had contrived to conceal his uniform, and even to shade his face. He had written two long letters, which he committed to a comrade, with a charge to forward them, provided he never returned. He had also read his Bible, and even, with a few like himself, had spent a little season*in prayer. The proper guard accompanied him, as usual, to his post. It was plain that they never expected to see him again. He merely said, "Officer of the guard, if my musket is heard, I trust the guard will lose no time in coming to my relief."
'' You may be assured of that, my good fellow."
The soldier shouldered his musket, and carefully kicked every dry stick out of the path which he was to pace. The night was pro
foundly dark and still. At every turn he whistled some snatches of a tune, now emitting a loud note, and now sinking so low as to be unheard, and at periods so uncertain that no one could calculate for a moment, by the whistling, precisely where the soldier was. He had also taken off his shoes, and walked in his stockings. He had walked his post nearly two hours, when he noticed the grunting and the tread of a large hog among the bushes. His first thought was, "Why is not that fellow at home and abed?" The second thought was, "She said so!" As he walked and whistled by turns, the hog evidently worked along nearer. But as yet he could not see him. The animal rooted and grunted. After a while the soldier fixed his eye on the hog, nor did he for an instant take it off, sometimes walking, and sometimes halting. About ten feet from where the soldier stood, was a small log, lying parallel with his path, or beat. The moment the bog attempted to step over the log, he noticed that he did not lift his foot naturally. It was done too carefully. In an instant he brought his gun to his shoulder, and the woods echoed long and loud at the report. The soldier stepped back a few paces, from the spot where the flash of the gun revealed him, and commenced reloading. At that instant a groan, unlike that of a dying hog, was heard, and the alarm drum beat, to call out the guard to his relief. The guard came upon the run and met the sentinel.
"Buel, all well?"
"All well, sir."
"At what did you discharge your arms?" "We will see, sir," and he led the guard to his mark.
"So you have actually shot a hog in your terror."
He gave the hog a kick, and off came the hog-skin, revealing a monstrous Indian, full six feet and four inches long! He was dead, and the mystery was solved. He had crept up to the sentinel in the disguise of a hog, night after night, till he was so near that with a spring he could leap upon him and throttle him, and carry him off dead. Buel received the congratulations of his comrades, the praises of his officers, and it was the first step in his promotions, which followed in rapid succession.
Now for the links to our story. Among the first who went with Mason to his grant on the Piseataqua River was Egbert Hamilton, a man of fortune, a daring spirit, and who loved excitement for its own sake, and dangers for the sak* of their excitements. He was a thorough Englishman in all his habits, views, and feelings, attached to the Episcopal form of worship, prejudiced against Puritanism, and ready to die for his king. That the king could do no wrong, was a prime article in his creed. He fixed his residence at Portsmouth, where, with a lovely wife and a little girl, he created a pleasant home. In the same neighbourhood lived a sturdy single-hearted Puritan by the name of Jehiel Bucl. He was a thrifty, well-to-doin-the-world sort of a man, who began his Sabbath precisely at sunset on Saturday evening, who never cheated a human being out of a cent, who was a devout worshipper, an humble Christian, and an iron Whig. If Egbert Hamilton knelt with his prayer-book, Jehiel Buel stood up and uncovered his head, and let nothing come between him and his God but his Redeemer. If Hamilton was an uncompromising Tory, Buel was a Whig, bred in the bone. Yet they lived happily side by side, their families occasionally mingling together at the fireside and their children conning their lessons together in the same little log schoolhousc. But time produces great changes. Egbert Hamilton buried his family—all excepting Kitty, who was left to him as a bright sunbeam in a dark night. Bucl, too, had been called to mourning. He had been stripped of family and property, save one son, Henry, and a daughter, two years younger. In consequence of his misfortunes, he had left the town and gone up the river and cleared up a wild farm, where he was living at the time when our history commences. It was from this farm that Henry came down in his canoe when we first find him attending the funeral of Liberty. The excitement of the times, which had Boston for its centre, was very great. It reached and thrilled every dweller in the land. One pulse seemed to beat through the nation. When Hamilton found that all around him were going to be Whigs, and that he must be left alone, he resolved to leave Portsmouth, and go to a more loyal part of the country. New York at that time seemed to be more passive to the king and his ministers than the rest of the land, and owning a small estate on the Hudson River, he took his child and fled to find quiet and repose. He actually left his comfortable home on the morning of the popular outhreak which we have described. Henry and Kitty had known each other at school. They were very young, and probably had no very intimate knowledge of each other. But it is natural for the heart to indulge in day-dreams, and these usually commence early and last late in life. The visions which dance before the eyes of the imagination, lie forward of us in youth, and back of us in age.
When the first tidings of shedding of Mood at Lexington spread through New England, it caused every young man to start up, seize his gun, and hasten down from the hills and forests to the scene of action. When they reached Portsmouth and vicinity, Mr. Buel and his son
were both gone up the river on business. But his sister at home felt the shock no less than the rest. She knew that on his return the next morning, Henry would be off. But what could he do for clothing? It so happened that he was deficient in pantaloons, and neither garments nor materials could be bought. What shall the patriotic girl do? She gets a dish of oats, goes out and calls the sheep, catches one, and with her shears, takes off half of its fleece. How shall she colour it? She hesitates not, but goes and catches a black sheep and shears it in the same way. This she washes, dries, cards, spins, weaves, and, by sitting up all night, actually had the pantaloons cut and made up ready for her brother by sunrise the next morning! * On the return of her brother, he snatched his gun and pantaloons, kisse'd his wearied, weeping sister, and went to the gathering of the people in the day of their peril. From this time onward, he had been in the army, sometimes almost naked, sometimes almost starving, but never flinching. Like thousands and thousands, he served his country without rewards, or honours, or the hopes of either. When we next introduce Henry Buel, he is in the army at an advanced post of observation as we have narrated. About a week before the event of his standing sentinel, in one of his lonely scouting excursions he had fallen in with a large, strongly-built log house, which, from watching in concealment one whole day, he was sure was the resort of Tories, Indians, and even British officers. By some means or other, to his utter amazement, he found it was the habitation of his father's old neighbour, Egbert Hamilton! By some equally mysterious process, too, he discovered that his old schoolmate, Kitty, inhabited the cottage I How he contrived to meet her alone, and actually, to speak to her, to shake her little hand, and to see the tear of gladness that dropped from her eye, I am sure is equally mysterious. For years they had been separated, neither knowing where the other was, and neither expecting ever to see each other again. And now they met—ho, a soldier risking his life daily for his country, and she, the daughter of a most determined Tory! She had too much filial reverence to compromit her father by word or deed, and about him or his company she would not utter a single word. It came to pass also, that under the pretence of scouting, Henry was in the neighbourhood of the solitary dwelling often, almost daily, and by some means or other it so happened, that he seldom came away without at least a short interview with Kitty. In these chance meetings, they never talked of anything but politics — the
* A literal bet.