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estimated from twenty to upwards of fifty. Few of the Indians were at home—the men proba. bly being absent either in hunting or trading their baskets and furs at Lancaster. In the dead of night the white men fell upon the village : some defence was doubtless attempted by the few male Indians present, (Dr. Franklin's narrative says there were only three men, two women, and a young boy,) but they were overpowered, and the whole, men, women, and children, fell victims to the rifle, the tomahawk, and the knife of the frontier-men. The dwellings were burnt to the ground.
The citizens and magistrates of Lancaster, shocked at the horrible outrage, with commendable humanity gathered the scattered individuals of the tribe who remained into the stone work-house at Lancaster, where, under bolts and bars, and the strict supervision of the keeper, they could not doubt but the Indians would be safe until they could be conveyed to Philadelphia for more secure protection.
But the Paxton men were satisfied with nothing short of the extermination of the tribe, al. leging, however, that one or two of the hostile Indians were still among the Indians protected by the civil authority at Lancaster. Concealing themselves at night near Lancaster, they waited until the next day, 27th Dec., when the whole community was engaged in the solemnities of the sanotuary; then, riding suddenly into town at a gallop, the band seized upon the keeper of the workhouse and overpowered him, and rushing into the prison, the work of death was speedily accomplished : the poor Indians, about fourteen in number, were left weltering in gore, while the Paxton men left the town in the same haste with which they had entered it. The alarm was raised through the town; but, before the citizens could assemble, the murderers were beyond their reach. In consequence of this affair, the Moravian Indians from Wyalusing and Nain, who had come to Philadelphia for protection, were removed to Province island near the city, and placed under the charge of the garrison.
The Paxton men, elated by their recent success, assembled in greater numbers early in January, and threatened to march to Philadelphia in a body, and destroy the Indians there. The people of the city were prodigiously alarmed, and several companies of foot, horse, and artillery were formed to repel the expected attack. The Paxton men, who had approached the Schuylkill on their march, finding such a force prepared to receive them, returned home.
A proclamation was issued by the governor, expressing the strongest indignation at the outrago at Conestoga and Lancaster, and offering a reward for the arrest of the perpetrators; but such was the state of public opinion in the interior counties that no one dared to bring the offenders to justice, although they mingled openly among their fellow-citizens.
The press of the day teemed with pamphlets, letters, appeals, pasquinades, and caricatures, many of which are still preserved in the Philadelphia Library. While some of these present calm and forcible arguments on their respective sides, others exhibit the most rancorous malignity, and others show that that age was not a whit behind our own in the scurrility of its political writers. After the Indians were killed, all parties busied themselves, as usual in such cases, to ascertain who was to blame. The governor was blamed for not having removed the Indians long before to Philadelphia, as he had been repeatedly warned to do. The Quakers and Moravians were blamed for fostering murderous Indians, and sheltering them from merited vengeance. The magistrates of Lancaster were charged with remissness of duty, since they might have applied to Capt. Robinson, who was then stationed at the barracks in Lancaster with his company, for a guard; but the magistrates say they did apply to him, and he denied their request. The citizens of Lancaster, too, and the keeper of the workhouse, were charged with collusion and connivance with the Paxton men; but they indignantly denied the charge. And the whole Presbyterian church, it was plainly insinuated, was, if not aiding and abetting in the massacre, ready, at all events, to shield the guilty from punishment, and extenuate the crime.*
“ The insurgents," says Mr. Gordon, “were not the ignorant and vulgar of the border counties-persons more likely to yield to their passions than
* Those who would investigate these questions more fully, are referred to the various pamph. lets in the Philadelphia Library, and to the voluminous mass of documents recently republished in the Lancaster Intelligencer for 1843.
to respect the laws of their country and of humanity. They were of such consideration, that whilst the public voice and the press execrated the cruelty and illegality of their conduct, they forbore to name the guilty individuals. Nor did the latter remain silent, and shrink from reproach without an attempt at self-defence. They urged the repeated murders perpetrated by the Indians, and their convictions of the union of the neutral with the belligerent tribes.”
During the old French war, and that of the revolution, the Scotch-Irish of Lancaster county, and such of the Germans (the Lutherans chiefly) as were not conscientiously opposed to it, cheerfully took arms in defence of the frontier. At the time of Braddock's expedition, Dr. Franklin, by his tact and perseverance, raised a large force of horses and wagons among the farmers of the county. Those who scrupled themselves to fight, did not object to send a horse and wagon to carry provisions, and to relieve the wounded. At Lancaster, on the return of Gen. Forbes's army from Fort Pitt, a barrack was erected for the accommodation of his troops. This building is still standing, though recently somewhat altered in its appearance, in Middle-street, near Mr. Fries' tavern. It is generally known as the British prison, from the fact that during the revolution it was selected for the confinement of the British prisoners, who were brought here because the inhabitants were thought to be decidedly hostile to the English. The following narrative of an adventure which occurred at that time, is abridged from a communication in the New Eng. land Magazine for 1833. The writer obtained his facts from the former intendant of the prison.
The prisoners were confined in barracks, enclosed with a stockads and vigilantly guarded; but in spite of all precautions, they often disappeared in an unaccountable manner, and nothing was heard of them until they resumed their places in the British army. It was presumed that they were aided by American tories, but where suspicion should fall, 'no one could conjecture. Gen. Hazen had charge of the post. He devised a stratagem for detecting the culprits, and selected Capt. Lee, afterwards Maj. Lee, a distinguished partisan officer, * to carry out his plan. It was given out that Lee had left the post on furlough. He, however, having disguised himself as a British prisoner, was thrown into the prison with the others. So complete was the disguise, that even the intendant, familiar with him from long daily intercourse, did not penetrate it. Had his fellow-prisoners detected him, his history might have been embraced in the proverb, “ Dead men tell no tales.”
For many days he remained in this situation, making no discoveries whatever. He thought he perceived at times signs of intelligence between the prisoners and an old woman who was al. lowed to bring fruit for sale within the enclosure. She was known to be deaf and half-witted, and was therefore no object of suspicion. It was known that her son had been disgraced and punished in the American army, but she had never betrayed any malice on that account, and no one dreamed that she could have the power to do injury if she possessed the will. Lee watched her closely, but saw nothing to confirm his suspicions. Her dwelling was about a mile distant, in a wild retreat, where she shared her miserable quarters with a dog and cat.
One dark stormy night in autumn, Lee was lying awake at midnight. All at once the door was gently opened, and a figure moved silently into the room. It was too dark to observe its motions narrowly, but he could see that it stooped towards one of the sleepers, who imme. diately rose. Next it approached and touched him on the shoulder. Lee immediately started up. The figure then allowed a slight gleam from a dark lantern to pass over his face, and as it did so whispered, impatiently, “Not the man—but come !" It then occurred to Lee that it was the opportunity he desired. The unknown whispered to him to keep his place till another man was called; but just at that moment something disturbed him, and making a signal to Lee to follow, he moved silently out of the room. They found the door of the house unbarred, and a small part of the fence removed, where they passed out without molestation. The sentry had retired to a shelter, where he thought he could guard his post without suffering from the rain ; but Lee saw his conductors put themselves in preparation to silence him if he should happen to address them
* See page 242.
Just without the fence appeared a stooping figure, wrapped in a red cloak, and supporting itself with a large stick, which Lee at once perceived could be no other than the old fruit-woman. But the most profound silence was observed : a man came out from a thicket at a little distance and joined them, and the whole party moved onward by the guidance of the old woman. At first they frequently stopped to listen, but having heard the sentinel cry “All's well!” they seemed reäs. sured, and moved with more confidence than before.
They soon came to her cottage. A table was spread with some coarse provisions upon it, and a large jug, which one of the soldiers was about to seize, when the man who conducted them withheld him. "No," said he, " we must first proceed to business."
The conductor, a middle-aged, harsh-looking man, was here about to require all present, before he could conduct them farther, to swear upon the Scriptures not to make the least attempt at escape, and never to reveal the circumstances or agents in the proceeding, whatever might befall them. But before they had time to take the oath, their practised ears detected the sound of the alarm-gun; and the conductor, directing the party to follow him in close order, immediately left the house, taking with him a dark lantern. Lee's reflections were not now the most agreeable. If he were to be compelled to accompany his party to the British lines in New York, he would be detected and hanged as a spy; and he saw that the conductor had prepared arms for them, which they were to use in taking the life of any one who should attempt to escape. They went on with great despatch, but not without difficulty. Lee might now have deserted, in this hurry and alarm; but he had made no discovery, and he could not bear to confess that he had not nerve enough to carry him through. They went on, and were concealed in a barn the whole of the next day. Provisions were brought, and low whistles and other signs showed that the owner of the barn was in collusion with his secret guests. The barn was attached to a small farm-house. Lee was so near the house that he could overhear the conversation which was carried on about the door. The morning rose clear, and it was evident from the inquiries of horsemen, who occasionally galloped up to the door, that the country was alarmed. The farmer gave short and surly replies, as if unwilling to be taken off from his labor; but the other inmates of the house were eager in their questions; and from the answers Lee gathered that the means by which he and his companions had escaped were as mysterious as ever. The next night, when all was quiet, they resumed their march, and explained to Lee that, as he was not with them in their conspiracy, and was accidentally associated with them in their escape, they should take the precaution to keep him before them, just behind the guide. He submitted without opposition, though the arrangement considerably lessened his chances of escape.
For several nights they went on in this manner, being delivered over to different persons from time to time; and, as Lee could gather from their whispering conversations, they were regularly employed on occasions like the present, and well rewarded by the British for their services. Their employment was full of danger; and though they seemed like desperate men, he could observe that they never remitted their precautions. They were concealed days in barns, cellars, caves made for the purpose, and similar retreats; and one day was passed in a tomb, the dimensions of which had been enlarged, and the inmates, if there had been any, banished to make room for the living. The burying-grounds were a favorite retreat, and on more occasions than one they were obliged to resort to superstitious alarms to remove intruders upon their path. Their success fully justified the experiment; and unpleasantly situated as he was, in the prospect of soon being a ghost himself, he could not avoid laughing at the expedition with which old and young fled from the fancied apparitions.
Though the distance to the Delaware was not great, they had now been 12 days on the road, and such was the vigilance and suspicion prevailing throughout the country, that they almost despaired of effecting their object. The conductor grew impatient, and Lee's companions, at Jeast one of them, became ferocious. There was, as we have said, something unpleasant to him in the glances of this fellow towards him, which became more and more fierce as they went on; but it did not appear whether it was owing to circumstances, or actual suspicion. It so happened that, on the twelfth night, Lee was placed in a barn, while the rest of the party sheltered themselves in the cellar of a little stone church, where they could talk and act with more freedom ; both because the solitude of the church was not often disturbed even on the Sabbath, and because even the proprietors did not know that illegal hands had added a cellar to the conveniences of the building.
Here they were smoking pipes with great diligence, and, at intervals not distant, applying a huge canteen to their mouths, from which they drank with upturned faces, expressive of solemn satisfaction. While they were thus engaged, the short soldier asked them, in a careless way, if they knew whom they had in their party. The others started, and took their pipes from their mouths to ask him what he meant. “I mean," said he, " that we are honored with the company of Capt. Lee, of the rebel army. The rascal once punished me, and I never mistook my man when I had a debt of that kind to pay. Now I shall have my revenge.”
The others expressed their disgust at his ferocity, saying that if, as he said, their companion was an American officer, all they had to do was to watch him closely. As he had come among them uninvited, he must go with them to New York, and take the consequences; but
meantime it was their interest not to seem to suspect him, otherwise he might give an alarm whereas it was evidently his intention to go with them till they were ready to embark for New York. The other person persisted in saying that he would have his revenge with his own hand, upon which the conductor, drawing a pistol, declared to him that if he saw the least attempt to injure Capt. Lee, or any conduct which would lead him to suspect that his disguise was discor. ered, he would that moment shoot him through the head. The soldier put his hand upon his knife, with an ominous scowl upon his conductor; but he restrained himself.
The next night they went on as usual, but the manner of their conductor showed that there was more danger than before; in fact, he explained to the party that they were now not far from the Delaware, and hoped to reach it before midnight. They occasionally heard the report of a musket, which seemed to indicate that some movement was going on in the country.
When they came to the bank there were no traces of a boat on the waters. Their conductor stood still for a moment in dismay; but, recollecting himself, he said it was possible it might have been secured lower down the stream; and forgetting every thing else, he directed the larger soldier to accompany him. Giving a pistol to the other, he whispered, “ If the rebel officer attempts to betray us, shoot him; if not, you will not, for your own sake, make any noise to show where
In the same instant they departed, and Lee was left alone with the ruffian. He had before suspected that the fellow knew him, and now doubts were changed to certainty at once. Dark as it was, it seemed as if fire flashed from his eye, now he felt that revenge was within his power. Lee was as brave as any officer in the army; but he was unarmed ; and though he was strong, his adversary was still more powerful. While he stood, uncertain what to do, the fellow seemed enjoying the prospect of revenge, as he looked on him with a steady eye. Though the officer stood to appearance unmoved, the sweat rolled in heavy drops from his brow. Lee soon took his resolution, and sprang upon his adversary with the intention of wresting the pistol from his hand; but the other was upon his guard, and aimed with such precision that, had the pistol been charged with a bullet, that moment would have been his last. But it seemed that the conductor had trusted to the sight of his weapons to render them unnecessary, and had therefore only loaded them with powder. As it was, the shock threw Lee to the ground; but fortunately, as the fellow dropped the pistol, it fell where Lee could reach it; and as his adversary stooped, and was drawing his knife from his bosom, Lee was able to give him a stunning blox. He immediately threw himself upon the assassin, and a long and bloody struggle began. They were so nearly matched in strength and advantage, that neither dared unclench his hold for the sake of grasping the knife. The blood gushed from their mouths, and the combat would have probably ended in favor of the assassin-when steps and voices were heard advancing, and they found themselves in the hands of a party of countrymen, who were armed for the occasion, and were scouring the banks of the river. They were forcibly torn apart, but so exhausted and breathless that neither could make any explanation; and they submitted quietly to their captors.
The party of the armed countrymen, though they had succeeded in their attempt, and were sufficiently triumphant on the occasion, were sorely perplexed how to dispose of their pris
After some discussion, one of them proposed to throw the decision upon the wisdom of the nearest magistrate. They accordingly proceeded with their prisoners to his mansion, about two miles distant, and called upon him to arise and attend to business. A window was hastily thrown up, and the justice put forth his night-capped head, and with more wrath than becaine his dignity, ordered them off; and in requital for their calling him out of bed in the cold, generously wished them in the warmest place. However, resistance was vain : he was compelled to rise; and as soon as the prisoners were brought before him, he ordered them to be taken in irons to the prison at Philadelphia. Lee improved the opportunity to take the old gentleman aside, and told him who he was, and why he was thus disguised.' The justice only interrupted him with the occasional inquiry, “ Most done?” When he had finished, the magistrate told him that his story was very well made, and told in a manner very creditable to his address; and that he should give it all the weight it seemed to require. And Lee's remonstrances were unavailing.
As soon as they were fairly lodged in the prison, Lee prevailed on the jailer to carry a note to Gen. Lincoln, informing him of his condition. The general received it as he was dressing in the morning, and immediately sent one of his aids to the jail. That officer could not believe his eyes that he saw Capt. Lee. His uniform, worn out when he assumed it, was now hanging in rags about him; and he had not been shaved for a fortnight. He wished, very naturally, to improve his appearance before presenting himself before the secretary of war; but the orders were peremptory to bring him as he was. The general loved a joke full well : his laughter was hardly erceeded by the report of his own cannon; and long and loud did he laugh that day.
When "Capt. Lee returned to Lancaster, he immediately attempted to retrace the ground; and so accurate, under all the unfavorable circumstances, had been his investigation, that he brought to justice fifteen persons who had aided the escape of British prisoners. It is hardly necessary to say, to those who know the fate of revolutionary officers, that he received, for his hazardons and effectual service, no reward whatever.
The internal improvements in and near Lancaster deserve a passing
notice. The turnpike to Philadelphia, 62 miles long--at first paved with stone, and since McAdamized_was one of the earliest and most important enterprises in the state, and was the first road of the kind made in the United States. It was commenced in 1792, and finished in 1794, by a private company, at an expense of $465,000.
One mile east of Lancaster is a splendid stone bridge over the Conestoga creek. A tablet in the parapet wall gives its history as follows :
Erected by Abraham Witmer, 1799–1800. A law of an enlightened commonwealth, passed April 4, 1798, Thomas Mifflin governor, sanctioned this monument of the public spirit of an individual.” Mr. Witmer was remunerated by the tolls. Such a work, at that early day, was indeed an enterprise of which the state might have been proud-much more an individual.
The Conestoga Navigation is a series of 9 locks and slackwater pools, 18 miles in length, from Lancaster to Safe Harbor on the Susquehanna, at the mouth of the Conestoga. By means of the tide water canal to Port Deposit, a navigable communication is thus opened to Baltimore. This work was completed in 1829. It cost about $4000 per mile. A valuable water power is created at the locks. The Philadelphia and Columbia railroad was first opened through for travel to Colúmbia in Oct. 1834. There are some splendid bridges on this road, among the most important of which are those over the Conestoga and Little Conestoga creeks. The former is 1400 feet long, resting on ten piers; and the latter is 804 feet long. The road was at first located at about half a mile to the north of Lancaster; but the route was changed, at considerable expense, to accommodate the city. The Harrisburg and Lancaster railroad, constructed by a company, was completed about the year 1838.
In the cemetery of the Episcopal church in Lancaster, is a monument sacred to the memory of Gov. Thomas Mifflin, erected by order of the legislature. The remains of Thomas Wharton, the first president of the supreme executive council, also repose in Lancaster.
Thomas Mifflin was a descendant of one of the early settlers of the province, and was born at Philadelphia in 1744. He was educated for the mercantile profession, and after a tour in Europe was engaged in business with his brother. At the age of 28 he was elected to represent his native city in the provincial assembly, and in July 1774 was one of the delegates to the first congress. When the news came of the battle of Lexington, he roused his fellow-citizens to action by his eloquence. “Let us not,” said he, “ be bold in declarations and afterwards cold in action. Let it not be said of Philadelphia that she passed noble resolutions, slept upon them, and afterwards neglected them.” What he recommended he practised, and was soon in active service as a major at the siege of Boston, where he distinguished himself by his coolness and personal bra. very. On his return to Philadelphia, in 1776, he was charged with the arduous but unenviable duties of Quarter Master General, and soon after was appointed by congress a brigadier, at the age of 32. He enjoyed in a high degree the confidence of congress, and was often associated in secret councils with men of much riper years. When torpor and discouragement seemed to have seized
upon the nation, late in 1776, he went through Pennsylvania in person, and by his persuasive eloquence roused the people to a new effort. Regiments were raised on the spot, and the brilliant affair at Trenton was the result. Congress in February ensuing conferred upon him the rank of major-general. During the gloomy winter of 1777–78, when the army was encamped at Valley Forge, attempts were made io impute the sufferings of the army to various causes, and among others, Gen. Mifflin did not escape his share of public prejudice, particularly as he had been connected with the quartermaster's department. But congress, after the forms of an in. quiry, again renewed their confidence. In 1783 he was elected to congress from Pennsylvania, and had the honor to preside over that body. At the close of the term he retired to private life, where he could not remain long. He was speaker of the legislature in 1785, and in 1788 he was placed by popular suffrage in the seat which had been occupied by Franklin, and was afterwards president of the supreme executive council
. Previous to this, he had been a member of the con