Created  May. 1, 2013                            green 006,000  brown 720,000            Truth 1's Related Info site

THIS COUNTRY OF OURS

The Story of the United States

by Henrietta Elizabeth MARSHALL - 1917


Parts 1 - 2       Chapters 1-21 Parts 5 - 6       Chapters 45-63
Parts 3 - 4       Chapters 22-44 Part  7       Chapters 64-99
Part 5: Chapter:     45     46     47     48     49     50
Part 6: Chapter:     51     52     53     54     55     56     57     
                                58     59     60     61     62     63

CONTENTS

PART V    STORIES OF THE FRENCH IN AMERICA

45. HOW THE MISSISSIPPI WAS DISCOVERED
46. KING WILLIAM'S WAR AND QUEEN ANNE'S WAR
47. THE MISSISSIPPI BUBBLE
48. HOW A TERRIBLE DISASTER BEFELL THE BRITISH ARMY
49. THE END OF FRENCH RULE IN AMERICA
50. THE REBELLION OF PONTIAC

PART VI    STORIES OF THE STRUGGLE FOR LIBERTY

51. THE BOSTON TEA-PARTY
52. PAUL REVERE'S RIDE–THE UNSHEATHING OF THE SWORD
53. THE FIRST THRUST–THE BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL
54. THE WAR IN CANADA
55. THE BIRTH OF A GREAT NATION
56. THE DARKEST HOUR–TRENTON AND PRINCETON
57. BURGOYNE'S CAMPAIGN–BENNINGTON AND ORISKANY
58. BURGOYNE'S CAMPAIGN–BEMIS HEIGHTS AND SARATOGA
59. BRANDYWINE–GERMANTOWN–VALLEY FORGE
60. WAR ON THE SEA
61. THE BATTLE OF MONMOUTH–THE STORY OF CAPTAIN MOLLY
62. THE STORY OF A GREAT CRIME
63. A TURNING POINT IN THE WORLD'S HISTORY


ILLUSTRATIONS

THE DEPARTURE OF THE "MAYFLOWER"
THE LANDING OF THE VIKINGS
THE VOYAGE OF COLUMBUS
THE CROWNING OF POWHATAN
WILLIAM PENN'S TREATY WITH THE INDIANS
LA SALLE TAKES POSSESSION OF LOUISIANA
THE DEATH OF WOLFE
WASHINGTON TAKING LEAVE OF HIS OFFICERS
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, THE GREAT EMANCIPATOR
HIGH TIDE AT GETTYSBURGH


PART V: STORIES OF THE FRENCH IN AMERICA


CHAPTER 45
HOW THE MISSISSIPPI WAS DISCOVERED

WHILE the shores of the Atlantic from Nova Scotia to Georgia were being claimed and peopled by the British another and very different nation laid claim also to the mighty continent. Before Jamestown was founded the French had already set foot upon the St. Lawrence. Long before the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Plymouth the flag of France was floating from the citadel of Quebec; and the French laid claim to the whole of Canada.

 

But the French and the British claimed these new lands in very different ways. The Englishmen came seeking freedom and a new home. The Frenchmen came seeking adventure. The Englishman painfully felled trees and cleared land, toiling by the sweat of his brow for the comfort of a home. The Frenchman set up crosses on the edge of pathless forests, claiming unknown lands for God and his King. He came as missionary, trader and adventurer rather than as farmer. And, led on by zeal for religion or desire for adventure, he pushed his settlements far into the wilderness.

The difference between French and British

So, long years went by. All along the Atlantic coasts spread fertile fields and fair homesteads. The British were content to live on the lands which they had cleared and tilled, and no adventurer sought to know what lay beyond the blue mountain range which shut him from the West.

 

Far otherwise was it with the French. Priests and traders were both full of a desire for conquest and adventure. Many of them indeed were so driven by the roving spirit that they left the towns altogether and lived alone among the forests, tracking the wild animals, and only coming to towns to sell the skins and get provisions.

 

These trappers brought back with them many strange tales of the forests and unknown wilds. They spoke of the Mississippi or "great water" of which the Indians told marvellous tales. And at length it seemed to their hearers that this great water could be no other than the long sought passage to India and the East.

the "great water"

Many people, fired by these tales, went in search of this great water. Two priests named Marquette and Joliet were the first to discover it. * For many miles they floated down the Mississippi. On either side stretched endless forests and plains of waving grass, haunts of wild animals and of the Indians,–almost as wild. On they went, past the mouth of the yellow Missouri, on still till they came to the river Arkansas. At last, sure that the great river went southward and not westward as they had supposed, they decided to return.

Marquette and Joliet, 1673

It had been easy enough floating down, but now they had to battle against the stream, and it was only after weeks of toil that they at length reached Canada again with their news.

 

When he heard their story another adventurer named René Robert Cavelier Sieur de la Salle became eager to make certain of their discovery, and follow the river all the way to its mouth.

La Salle, 1643-87

With great care and trouble he made his arrangements. He thought it would be impossible to compass so great a journey by canoes, so he built a little ship which he called the Griffin. It was the first ship which had been seen by the Indians round Lake Erie, and in amazement and fear they came to stare at it. In their ignorant terror they would have destroyed it had not careful watch been kept.

 

From the very beginning of his expedition La Salle found many difficulties. But at length they all seemed to be overcome, and he set out with his friend, Henri de Tonty, and about forty men.

 

Tonty was a man of courage, as bold and enterprising as La Salle himself. He was, too, much feared by the Indians, who thought him a great Medicine Man. For while fighting in Europe he had had one hand shot off. But he had replaced it with an iron hand, which he always wore covered with a glove. The Indians did not know this, and once or twice when they had been troublesome he had brought them to order by knocking them down with this hand. Not knowing the secret of it they marvelled greatly at his strength, and, fearing him accordingly, called him Iron Hand.

Henri de Tonty

One of La Salle's great difficulties was lack of money. So before leaving the great lakes he collected a quantity of furs. Then he sent back the Griffin and half his men, with orders to sell these furs, and return with supplies for the expedition as quickly as possible. With the rest of his men La Salle journeyed on to the head of Lake Michigan in canoes.

 

It was no easy journey, for storms swept the lake. The waves tossed their frail canoes hither and thither so that they were often in danger of drowning. They were harassed, too, by unfriendly Indians. At length, worn out by fatigue, starving with cold and hunger, they reached the appointed place to await the return of the Griffin.

 

But the Griffin never came. In vain La Salle scanned the grey waters. Day after day passed, and no white sail flecked the dreary expanse. The Griffin was never heard of more.

The Griffin is lost

With a heavy heart La Salle at length gave up the weary watch, and decided to go on with such men and supplies as he had. But with every step fresh difficulties arose. La Salle had many enemies, and they did their best to hinder and hamper him. His own men were discontented and mutinous. They had no love for their leader, no enthusiasm for the expedition, and the hardships and dangers of the way made them sullen.

 

They were half starved and worn out with fatigue; all they wanted was to get back to a comfortable life. They were sick of the wilderness and its hardships. Added to this the Indians told them bloodcurdling tales of the terrors of the "Father of Waters." It was a raging torrent of whirlpools, they said, full of poisonous serpents and loathly monsters. Those who ventured on it would never return.

 

This was more than the men could face. They chose rather the possibility of death among the Indians and the wilderness to its certainty among such horrors, and some of them ran away.

 

Depressed by this desertion La Salle resolved to camp for the rest of the winter. So on the banks of the river Illinois he built a fort which he called Creve-Coeur, or Heart-break.

Fort Heart-break

But La Salle's brave heart was not yet broken. And here he began to build a new ship in which to sail down the Mississippi. There was wood in plenty around, and the work was begun. But many things, such as sails and rigging, which were necessary for the ship, the wilderness could not supply. And, seeing no other way, La Salle resolved to go back to Fort Frontenac to get them, leaving Tonty meanwhile to look after the building of the ship.

 

It was March when La Salle set out on his tremendous walk of a thousand miles. With him he took a faithful Indian guide and four Frenchmen. And seldom have men endured a journey more terrible.

La Salle's tremendous walk;

The spring sun was just beginning to thaw the ice and snow of winter, so that the prairies were turned to marshes into which the travellers sank knee deep. The forests were pathless thickets through which they had to force a way with axe and hatchet. As a pathway the rivers were useless to them, for the ice was so thin that it would not bear their weight. And later when it thawed and broke up they still could not use their canoes lest they should be shattered by the floating masses of ice.

 

All day long they toiled knee deep in mud and half-melted snow, laden with baggage, guns and ammunition. At night they lay down without shelter of any kind. They were often hungry, they suffered constantly both from cold and heat. For at noon the sun beat down upon them fiercely, and at night the frost was so bitter that the blankets in which they lay wrapped were frozen stiff.

 

The hardships of the journey were so tremendous that the marvel is that any one lived to tell of them. Indeed, one by one the men fell ill, and when at length after three months of pain and peril they arrived at their journey's end only La Salle had strength or courage left.

 

Here more bad news greeted La Salle, for he now heard that a ship sent out from France laden with supplies for him had been wrecked. But even this cruel stroke of fortune could not break his spirit. Once more he set about gathering supplies, and made ready to return to Fort Heart-break.

he hears bad news;

But worse was yet to come. La Salle was about to start when he received a letter from Tonty. From this he learned that soon after he had left nearly all his men had mutinied. They had rifled the stores and demolished the fort; then, throwing into the river everything they could not carry, had made off. Only three or four had remained faithful. With these Tonty was now alone in the wilderness.

 

This staggering news only made La Salle more eager to set out, for he could not leave his brave friend thus helpless. So once more the toilsome journey was begun. But when Heart-break was reached, La Salle found no friend to welcome him. All around there was nothing but silence and desolation, and ghastly ash-strewn ruins. The unfinished ship, like some vast skeleton, huge and gaunt, alone bore witness that white men had once been there.

finds Fort Heart-break deserted

Still La Salle would not despair. He spent the winter making friends with the Indians and searching earnestly for some trace of Tonty. The winter was unusually severe, the whole land was covered with snow and both La Salle and some of his men became snow-blind for days. But at last with the melting of the snows light and joy came to him. The blindness passed, Tonty was found.

 

Once again the friends met. Each had a tale to tell, a tale of bitter disappointments and defeats. Yet in spite of all the blows of fortune Le Salle would not give in. Once more he set about making preparations for the expedition. But now he gave up the idea of building a ship, and decided to trust to canoes alone.

Meets Tonty again;

It was mid-winter when all was ready. The rivers were frozen hard. So, placing their canoes on sledges, the men dragged them over the ice. As they went southward and spring came on, the ice melted and would no longer bear them. The stream was soon filled with floating masses of broken ice, so they were obliged to land and wait until it had melted.

they set out once more;

Then once more they set out. Every day now they drifted farther and farther into the heat of summer. The sun shone softly through the overhanging trees, the river banks were gay with flowers, and bright plumaged birds flashed through the sunlight. After the tortures of the past winters this green and fertile land seemed a very paradise. So on the adventurers passed where never white man had passed before; and at length they reached the mouth of the mighty river and stood upon the shore of the Gulf of Mexico.

 

And here, while wondering savages looked on, this mere handful of white men claimed all the land through which they had passed for their King. The long silence of the wilderness was awakened for the first time by the sound of Latin chants. Guns were fired, and to the shouts of "God save the King," a pillar was set up.

they reach the Gulf of Mexico, 1682

Then standing beside the pillar, drawn sword in hand, in a loud voice La Salle claimed the land for his King.

La Salle claims the land for France

"In the Name of the most high, mighty, invincible, and victorious Prince, Louis the Great, by the Grace of God King of France and of Navarre," he cried, "I do now take possession of this country of Louisiana, the seas, harbours, ports, bays, and neighbouring straits, and all the nations, peoples, provinces, cities, towns, villages, mines, minerals, fisheries, streams, and rivers within the said Louisiana, from the mouth of the great river St. Louis along the river Mississippi and the rivers which flow there into from its source to its mouth."

 

As La Salle ceased speaking once more the air was rent with shouts of "God save the King," and the thunder of guns. A cross was placed beside the pillar, a Latin hymn was sung; once more "God save the King" rang out upon the still air, and the ceremony was over.

 

To France an enormous possession had been added. For La Salle claimed for France the greatest part of what is now the United States of America. Over all that lay between the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes, between the Rocky Mountains and the Alleghanies the sceptre of Louis of France was stretched out.

 

But such a realm could not be held by the mere singing of hymns and planting of crosses. La Salle himself had no idea how vast a province he had claimed. But even he realised that it could not be held by words and ceremonies. He had, however, his dreams of how it might be done. In imagination he built a great city at the mouth of the Mississippi. Upon the broad bosom of the river he saw vessels pass to and fro, carrying all the trade of Canada from north to south. And all along its course forts were built. These were to serve for trading stations and also as fortresses against the ever-encroaching British. Thus if his dream came true Northern and Southern New France would be united, and wealth and glory be added to the crown of Louis.

La Salle's dream

So with his great plan in his head La Salle turned homeward. Many dangers and difficulties met him on the way. But through famine, sickness, treachery and many perils he struggled onward, and at length reached Quebec.

 

From there he set sail for France, impatient to tell the King all that he had done, lay his great plan before him, and beg his help.

La Salle gets help from King Louis;

Louis was quite ready to listen to La Salle. He gave him all and more than he asked. And before long La Salle once more sailed joyfully across the seas with a little fleet of four ships laden with colonists, and with everything necessary for the building of his city.

 



LA SALLE TAKES POSSESSION OF LOUISIANA
"In the Name of the most high, mighty, invincible,
and victorious Prince Louis the Great, by the
Grace of God, King of France and Navarre . . .
I do now take possession of this country of
Louisiana."


The plan was to sail direct to the mouth of the Mississippi and make a settlement there as the first step in La Salle's grand scheme. But from the beginning everything went wrong. On the way out La Salle quarrelled with the other officers. One of the ships laden with provisions and tools for the colony was captured by the Spaniards; another, filled with nearly all the remaining stores, was wrecked, and–worst of all–La Salle could not find the mouth of the Mississippi. Approaching it from the sea it was quite a different matter from sailing down from source to mouth. And coming to it from the sea La Salle could not recognise the place, and sailed some hundred miles beyond.

 

When at length they landed the colonists were already dispirited, and they set to work to build their little town in a hopeless, listless fashion. Many fell ill and died; others wandered away into the forests, and were never heard of more. Misery after misery fell upon the settlers. Their numbers dwindled day by day, and at the end of two years scarce forty of the two hundred colonists who had set sail from France remained.

founds a colony, 1684;

Despair seized them all and their one desire was to return to France. But how? They were utterly alone, forsaken and forgotten. In vain they scanned the blue waters of the bay. No ship ever appeared.

it becomes a place of misery

Of all the company La Salle alone remained cheerful and courageous. It was he alone who saved the others from utter despair. And at length, seeing no other way, he determined once more to take the long weary journey back to Canada, and bring help from there to the starving colony.

 

So one January morning the forlorn little company gathered within the walls of the fort, and those who were to set out on the desperate adventure said farewell to those who were to stay behind and await their return. It was not easy to say whose lot was the harder. Words tender and sad were said, tears fell, and hand clung to hand, for a dread foreboding hung over the little company that they would never meet again.

La Salle goes to seek help;

The last words were said, the last handshake given, and the adventurers trudged away on their long, long journey. They were a weather-worn, threadbare company, fantastically dressed in garments they had fashioned for themselves out of skins of animals, old sails and other oddments. Their clothes, though quaint, were serviceable enough, but their lack of boots was yet another misery added to the many which they had to endure on their long march. But in spite of every hardship La Salle remained undaunted and confident of success.

 

Not so his men. Some of them, though not all, had grown to hate him as the cause of all their misfortunes, and now as day by day their sufferings grew greater, their hatred strengthened. At length there was mutiny in the camp, and one morning one of the mutineers, skulking in the bushes, shot at La Salle from behind and killed him.

 

As their dead leader lay upon the ground the mutineers gathered round rejoicing. But their rage was not yet sated, and to show their hatred and contempt they brutally stripped the body naked, and left it to lie unburied among the bushes, a prey to wild beasts. Thus in misery and failure the life of this great pioneer ended.

he is murdered, 1687

The mutineers now continued their journey, but they began to quarrel among themselves, and the ringleader was killed. What became of the others is not known. The few who had not been concerned in the murder journeyed on to Canada, which, after many adventures and hardships, they reached at length. From there they crossed to France to tell their woful tale, and beg King Louis to send help to the starving colony. But Louis would send no aid, and the colony of St. Louis was blotted out. Some time after La Salle left it was attacked by Indians. Nearly all were slain, and the few who escaped were scattered among the Indian tribes.

The colony is blotted out

Thus ended La Salle's splendid dream in the blackness of utter failure. But the failure was only for the time being. La Salle had given his countrymen a magnificent idea. He had pointed out the way to them, and others walked in it.

 



* The Spanish explorer, Ferdinand de Soto, in 1641, came upon the Mississippi by accident probably somewhere near the boundaries of the present states of Tennessee and Mississippi, and after his death his followers sailed down to its mouth. But little came of his discovery, nor was it then connected with the great river which took its rise more than two thousand miles farther north.

 


CHAPTER 46
KING WILLIAM'S WAR AND QUEEN ANNE'S WAR

AT this time in Europe France and Britain were at war. When King William came to take possession of Britain, James II ran away to France. The King of France received him kindly, and soon declared war upon William. The war was fought not only in Europe but in America also, and it is known in America as King William's War, because William was King of Great Britain at the time. It was the beginning of a fierce struggle between British and French for possession of the vast continent of America–a struggle which was to last for seventy years; a struggle in which not only the white people but the Indians also took part, some fighting for the British, some for the French.

King William's War, 1690-1697

At this time Frontenac was Governor of Canada. He was one of the greatest nobles of France and lived surrounded with state and splendour. Proud and haughty and of a fiery temper, with white men he quarreled often, but he knew better than any other how to manage the Indians, and they feared him as they feared no white ruler who came before or after him. He would not allow the chiefs to call him brother as other governors had done. They were his children; to them he was the Great Father. Yet if need be he would paint his face, dress himself in Indian clothes, and, tomahawk in his hand, lead the war dance, yelling and leaping with the best of them.

Count Frontenac, Governor General of Canada, 1672-82, and 1689-98

King Louis now gave Frontenac orders to seize New York so that the French might have access to the Hudson River, and a port open all the year round and not frozen up for months at a time like Quebec.

 

So Frontenac made ready his forces. He gathered three armies and sent them by different ways to attack the British. But few of these forces were regular soldiers. Many of them were Indians, still more were coureurs de bois, wild bush-rangers who dressed and lived more like Indians than white men, and were as fearless, and lawless, and learned in the secrets of the forest as the Indians.

 

These armies set out in the depth of winter. French and Indian alike were smeared with war-paint and decked with feathers. Shod with snow shoes they sped over the snow, dragging light sledges behind them laden with food. For twenty-two days they journeyed over plains, through forest, across rivers, but at length one of the armies reached the village of Schenectady, the very farthest outpost of New York.

The French attack New York settlements, 1690

The people had been warned of their danger, but they paid no heed. They did not believe that the danger was real. So secure indeed did they feel that the gates were left wide open, and on either side for sentinels stood two snow men.

 

In all the village there was no sound, no light. Every one was sleeping peacefully. Then suddenly through the stillness there rang the awful Indian war whoop.

 

In terror the villagers leaped from their beds, but before they could seize their weapons they were struck down. Neither man, woman nor child was spared, and before the sun was high Schenectady was a smoking, blood-stained ruin.

 

The other parties which Frontenac had sent out also caused terrible havoc. They surprised and burned many villages and farms, slaughtering and carrying prisoner the inhabitants. Thus all New England was filled with bloodshed and terror.

 

But these horrors instead of making the British give in made them determined to attack Canada. New York and the colonies of New England joined together and decided to make an attack by land and by sea. The British determined to attack Canada

The British determined to attack Canada

But what, with mismanagement, sickness, and bickerings among the various colonies, the land attack came to nothing. It was left for the fleet to conquer Canada.

 

The little New England fleet was commanded by Sir William Phips, a bluff, short-tempered sailor. He sailed up the St. Lawrence and anchored a little below Quebec.

Sir William Phips;

Then the watching Frenchmen saw a small boat put off, flying a white flag. As it neared the shore some canoes went out to meet it and found that it was bringing a young British officer with a letter for Count Frontenac.

 

The officer was allowed to land, but first his eyes were blindfolded. Then as he stepped on shore a sailor seized each arm, and thus he was led through the streets.

sends a messenger to Frontenac

Quebec is built on a height, and the streets are steep and narrow, sometimes being nothing more than flights of steps. And now, instead of being taken directly to the Governor, the young officer was dragged up and down these steep and stony streets. Now here, now there, he was led, stumbling blindly over stones and steps, and followed by a laughing, jeering crowd, who told him it was a game of blind man's bluff.

 

At last, thoroughly bewildered and exhausted, he was led into the castle, and the bandage was suddenly taken from his eyes. Confused and dazzled by the bright light he stood for a moment gazing stupidly about him.

 

Before him, haughty and defiant, stood Frontenac surrounded by his officers. Their splendid uniforms glittered with gold and silver lace, their wigs were curled and powdered, their hats were decked with feathers, as if for a ball rather than for war.

 

For a moment the young Englishman stood abashed before them. Then, recovering himself, he handed his commander's letters to Frontenac.

 

The letter was written in English, but an interpreter read it aloud, translating it into French. In haughty language it demanded the surrender of Quebec, in the name of William and Mary, within an hour.

 

When the reading was finished the officer pulled his watch out of his pocket, and held it towards Frontenac.

 

"I cannot see the time," said he.

 

"It is ten o'clock," replied the Englishman. "By eleven I must have your answer."

 

Frontenac's brow grew dark with anger. Hitherto he had held himself in check, but now his wrath burst forth.

 

"By heaven," he cried, "I will not keep you waiting so long. Tell your General that I do not acknowledge King William. The Prince of Orange who calls himself so is a usurper. I know of no king of England save King James."

Frontenac's answer

The Englishman was quite taken aback by Frontenac's vehemence. He felt he could not go back to his leader with such an answer.

 

"Will you give me your answer in writing?" he said.

 

"No," thundered Frontenac, "I will answer your general with the mouths of my cannon only. Let him do his best, and I will do mine."

 

And with this answer the Englishman was forced to be content. Once more his eyes were blindfolded, and again he was jostled and hustled through the streets until he reached his boat.

 

When Phips received Frontenac's proud answer he prepared to attack. But he was no match for the fierce old lion of a Frenchman. The New Englanders were brave enough, but they had little discipline, and, worse still, they had no leader worthy of the name. They spent shot and shell uselessly battering the solid rock upon which Quebec is built. Their aim was bad, and their guns so small that even when the balls hit the mark they did little damage.

Phips' attack on Quebec

At length, having wasted most of their ammunition in a useless cannonade, the British sailed away. The men were dejected and gloomy at their failure. Many of their ships had been sorely disabled by the French guns, and on the way home several were wrecked. As the others struggled homeward with their tale of disaster, New England was filled with sadness and dismay.

 

The attack on Canada had been an utter failure. Yet, had Phips but known it, Quebec was almost in his grasp. For although there were men enough within the fortress there was little food. And even before he sailed away the pangs of hunger had made themselves felt.

it fails

For seven years more the war lingered on, but now it chiefly consisted of border raids and skirmishes, and the New Englanders formed no more designs of conquering Canada. And at length in 1697, with the Treaty of Ryswick, King William's War came to an end.

Treaty of Ryswick, 1697

In 1701 James, the exiled King of Britain, died; and Louis of France recognised his son James as the rightful King of Britain. This made King William angry. Louis also placed his grandson, the Duke of Anjou, on the throne of Spain. This made King William and the British people still more angry. For with a French King on the throne of Spain they thought it very likely that France and Spain might one day be joined together and become too powerful. So King William again declared war on France, but before the war began he died.

 

Queen Mary's sister Anne now became Queen; she carried on the war already declared. This war brought fighting in America as well as in Europe. In America it is called Queen Anne's War, and in Europe the War of the Spanish Succession.

Queen Anne's War, 1702-1713

This war was carried on in much the same manner as the last. There were Indian massacres, sudden sallies, attacks by land and sea. But this time the British were more determined. And although another attack on Quebec failed, just as the attack made by Phips had failed, one on Nova Scotia succeeded.

 

In the South, too, the Spaniards were defeated at Charleston. Taken altogether the British had the best of the fighting. And when at length peace was made by the Treaty of Utrect in 1713 Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and the Hudson Bay Territory were given up to the British. Thus both in west and north the British enclosed the French possessions.

Treaty of Utrecht, 1713


CHAPTER 47
THE MISSISSIPPI BUBBLE

BEING thus encroached upon by the British the French became more determined to shut them out from the south. Already twelve years after La Salle's death another attempt had been made to found a town at the mouth of the Mississippi, and this time the attempt was successful.

 

This time the expedition was led by Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville.

d'Iberville's expedition, 1698

With two ships he sailed out from France and, after some trouble, found the mouth of the Mississippi. He did not, however, build his fort here, but on the coast of what is now the State of Mississippi. Then, leaving one of his officers and his brother in command, he sailed home again to France.

 

While d'Iberville was away, his brother Bienville started on an expedition to explore the Mississippi. And he soon discovered that the French had taken possession none too soon, for not far from where New Orleans now stands, he fell in with a British ship. On board were a lot of French Huguenot families who had come to found a settlement on the Mississippi. Bienville talked to the captain, who told him that this was one of three ships sent out from England by a company formed of Huguenots and Englishmen who intended to found a colony on the Mississippi. They were not sure, however, whether they were on the Mississippi or not.

Bienville, 1680-1768

Bienville at once assured them that they were not, but were instead on a river which belonged to Louis of France, where already the French had several settlements. The British captain believed what he was told and, much to the Frenchmen's delight, turned back. Just at the spot where this took place the river makes a bed, and because of this it was given the name of English Bend, by which name it is known to this day.

English Bend

D'Iberville only stayed long enough in France to gather more colonists and returned at once to Louisiana, where he founded two more towns along the coast. But the colonists sent out by Louis were of the lowest. Many of them were little more than rogues and vagabonds. The mere off-scourings of the towns, they were idle and extravagant, and the colony did not prosper.

 

Instead of putting gold into Louis' pockets, as he had hoped, he had constantly to pour it out to maintain the colony. Of that Louis soon grew tired. Besides this he wanted all the money he could gather to carry on the war (Queen Anne's War), which was still raging. So, in 1712, he handed Louisiana over to a wealthy merchant named Crozat to make what he could out of it.

 

Such great power was given to this merchant that he was little less than a king. He had every monopoly. Nobody in the colony could buy or sell the smallest thing without his permission, and every one had to work for him and not for themselves. But the people were by no means willing workers. They were, said one of their priests, "nearly all drunkards, gamblers, blasphemers and foes of everything that was good," and when they found that they are expected to work merely to put money into the proprietor's pocket they would not work at all.

Crozat, 1655-1738

So very soon Crozat found he could make nothing out of the colony. And after some vain efforts to make it pay he gave up his charter, and Louisiana once more became a royal possession.

 

Meanwhile France itself was in sore straits for money. Louis XIV, that magnificent and extravagant monarch, had died and left his country beggared and in want. The Duke of Orleans now ruled as Regent for little Louis XV. He was at his wit's end to know where to find money, when a clever Scots adventurer named John Law came to him with a new and splendid idea. this was to use paper money instead of gold and silver. The Regent was greatly taken with the idea, and he gave Law leave to issue the paper money. It was quite a good idea had it been kept within bounds. But it was not kept within bounds. All France went mad with eagerness to get some of the paper money which was, they thought, going to make them rich forever.

John Law, 1671-1729

Besides issuing paper money, Law started what was known as the Mississippi Scheme or Company of the Indies. Louisiana, which had been received back from Crozat, was handed over to John Law, who undertook to settle the country, and work the gold and silver mines which were supposed to be there.

The Company of the Indies, 1717

Law began at once to fill all France with stories of Louisiana and its delights. Gold and silver mines, he said, had been discovered there which were so rich that they could never be used up. Lumps of gold lay about everywhere, and one might have them for the picking up. As for silver, it was so common that it had little value except to be used for paving the streets. In proof of these stories lumps of gold said to have come from Louisiana were shown in the shops of Paris.

 

As to the climate, it was the most perfect on earth. It was never too hot, and never too cold, but always warm and sunny. The soil was so fertile that one had but to scratch it to produce the finest crops. Delicious fruits grew everywhere, and might be gathered all the year round. The meadows were made beautiful, and the air scented, with the loveliest of flowers. In fact Louisiana was painted as an earthly paradise, where nothing the heart could desire was lacking.

 

People believed these stories. And, believing them, it was not wonderful that they desired to possess for themselves some of these delights. So, rich and poor, high and low, rushed to buy shares in the Company. The street in Paris where the offices of the Company were was choked from end to end with a struggling crowd. The rich brought their hundreds, the poor their scanty savings. Great lords and ladies sold their lands and houses in order to have money to buy more shares. The poor went ragged and hungry in order to scrape together a few pence. Peers and merchants, soldiers, priests, fine ladies, servants, statesmen, labourers, all jostled together, and fought to buy the magic paper which would make them rich and happy beyond belief. Fortunes were made and lost in a day. Some who had been rich found themselves penniless; others who had always lived in poverty found themselves suddenly rolling in wealth which they did not know how to use.

The rush for wealth

And John Law was the wizard whose magic wand had created all these riches. He was flattered and courted by every one. The greatest princes in the land came to beg favours of him. They came to him to beg, and he treated them haughtily as beggars, and bade them wait.

 

Day by day, and month by month, the madness increased, and the gigantic bubble grew larger and larger. Bienville, meanwhile, who had been deprived of his governorship, was once more made Governor of Louisiana. With a company of settlers, he returned again to the colony, and he at once set about building a capital, which, in honour of the Regent, he called New Orleans. The place he chose for a capital was covered with forest. So before any building could be done fifty men were set to fell the trees and clear a space. And then the first foundations of the new great city of New Orleans were laid.

New Orleans founded, 1718

But still the colony did not prosper. For the colonists were for the most part rogues and vagabonds, sent there by force, and kept there equally by force. They looked upon Louisiana as a prison, and tried constantly to escape from it.

 

Meanwhile no ships laden with gold and gems reached France, for no gold mines had ever been discovered. Then people began to grow tired of waiting. Some of them began to suspect that all the stories of the splendours of Louisiana were not true, and they tried to sell their paper money and paper shares, and get back the gold which they had given for them. Soon every one wanted to sell, and no one wanted to buy. The value of the paper money fell and fell, until it was worth less than nothing. People who had thought themselves millionaires found themselves beggars. Law, who had been flattered and courted, was now hated and cursed. And in terror of his life he fled from France to die miserably in Italy a few years later.

Law flees from France, 1720

As to Louisiana, a new set of stories were told of it. Now it was no longer described as a sort of earthly paradise, but as a place of horror and misery. It was a land of noisome marsh and gloomy forest, where prowled every imaginable evil beast. At certain times of the year the river flooded the whole land, so that the people were obliged to take refuge in the trees. There they lived more like monkeys than men, springing from tree to tree in search of food. The sun was so hot that it could strike a man dead as if with a pistol. This was called sunstroke. Luscious fruits indeed grew around, but they were all poisonous and those who ate of them died in agonies. In fact Louisiana was now pictured as a place to be shunned, as a place of punishment. "Be good or I will send you to the Mississippi" was a threat terrible enough to make the naughtiest child obedient.

 

The Mississippi bubble burst,–but still France clung to Louisiana. Once again it became a royal province, and at length after long years of struggle it began to prosper. The French had thus two great centres of power in America, one at Quebec amid the pine trees and snows of the North, and one at New Orleans amid the palm trees and sunshine of the South. And between the two fort after fort was built, until gradually north and south were united. Thus La Salle's dream came true.

Louisiana again a royal province, 1731

It was during the time of peace after the end of Queen Anne's War that the French had thus strengthened their hold on America and joined Canada and Louisiana. They had also built a strong fortress on the Island of Cape Breton which commanded the mouth of the St. Lawrence. This fortress was called Louisburg in honour of King Louis, and it was the strongest and best fortified in the whole of New France. The walls were solid and high, and bristled with more than a hundred cannon. The moat was both wide and deep. Indeed the French believe that this fort was so strong that no power on earth could take it.

Louisburg built, 1715

But the days of peace sped fast. Soon once more Europe was ablaze with war, France and Britain again taking opposite sides. In Europe this war is called the War of the Austrian Succession, because it was brought on by a quarrel among the nations of Europe as to who should succeed to the throne of Austria. In America it is called King George's War, as King George II was King of Britain at the time.

King George's War, 1744-48

Like the other wars before it, it was fought in America as well as in Europe. The chief event in America was the capture of Louisburg. That redoubtable fortress which it was thought would hold off any attack, yielded after six weeks to an army chiefly composed of New England farmers and fishermen, and led by Maine merchant who had no knowledge of war.

Louisburg taken, 1745

When the news that Louisburg was taken reached New England the people rejoiced. Bells were rung, cannons were fired and bonfires blazed in all the chief towns. In England itself the news was received with surprise and delight, and Pepperell, the merchant-soldier, was made a baronet and could henceforth call himself Sir William Pepperell.

 

But when the French heard that they had lost their splendid American fortress they were filled with dismay. One after another, three expeditions were sent to recapture it, but one after another they miscarried. And when at length peace was agreed upon, Louisburg was still in the hands of the New Englanders. The peace which was now signed is called the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. By it, it was agreed that each side should give back all its conquests, so that after all the terrible loss and bloodshed neither side was one whit the better.

Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, 1748

The New Englanders had been greatly delighted at their conquest of Louisburg. The French, on the other hand, were greatly grieved, and when terms of peace were discussed Louis XV insisted that Louisburg should be restored. "That cannot be," said King George. "It is not mine to give, for it was taken by the people of Boston."

 

The French, however, were firm. So King George gave way, and Louisburg was restored to France, and Madras in India, which the French had taken, was in exchange restored to Britain. When the New Englanders heard of it, they were very angry. Madras was nothing to them; it was but a "petty factory" on the other side of the globe; while Louisburg was at their very doors, and of vast importance to their security. They had to obey and give it back. But they did so with bitterness in their hearts against a King who cared so little for their welfare.

Louisburg given back to France


CHAPTER 48
HOW A TERRIBLE DISASTER BEFELL THE BRITISH ARMY

WE have now seen something of the great struggle between French and British for the continent of America. War after war broke out, peace after peace was signed. But each peace was no more than a truce, and even when the noise of cannon ceased there was nearly always war with the Redman, for he took sides and fought for French or British. And as years went past the struggle grew ever more and more bitter. If the French had their way, the British would have been hemmed in between the Alleghanies and the sea. If the British had had their way the French would have been confined to a little strip of land north of the St. Lawrence. It became plain at length to every one that in all the wide continent there was no room for both. One must go. But which?

 

The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle was not a year old before the last, great struggle began. Both French and British had now cast their eyes on the valley of the Ohio, and the spot where Pittsburgh now stands became known as the Gateway of the West. The British determined to possess that gateway, but the French were just as determined to prevent them ever getting through it. So the French began to build a line of forts from Lake Erie southward to the gate of the west. Now, Virginia claimed all this land, and when two French forts had been built the Governor of Virginia began to be both alarmed and angry. He decided, therefore, to send a messenger to the French to tell them that they were on British ground, and bid them to be gone.

The Gateway of the West

It was not an easy task, and one which had to be done with courtesy and firmness. Therefore Dinwiddie resolved to send a "person of distinction." So as his messenger he chose a young man named George Washington. He was a straightforward, tall young man, well used to a woodland life, but withal a gentleman, the descendant of one of the old Royalist families who had come to Virginia in the time of Cromwell, and just the very man for the Governor's purpose.

George Washington;

It was a long and toilsome journey through pathless forest, over hills, deep snows and frozen rivers, a journey which none but one skilled in forest lore could endure.

 

But at length after weeks of weary marching Washington arrived at Fort le Boeuf. The Frenchmen greeted him courteously, and entertained him in the most friendly fashion during the three days which the commander took to make up his answer. The answer was not very satisfactory. The commander promised to send Dinwiddie's letter to the Governor of Canada. "But meanwhile," he added, "my men and I will stay where we are. I have been commanded to take possession of the country, and I mean to do it to the best of my ability."

reaches Fort le Boeuf, 1753

With this answer Washington set out again, and after many adventures and dangers arrived safely once more at Williamsburg.

 

In the spring the Frenchmen marched south to the Gateway of the West. Here they found a party of British, who had begun to build a fort. The French, who were in far greater numbers, surrounded them and bade them surrender. This the British did, being utterly unable to defend themselves. The French then seized the fort, leveled it to the ground, and began to build one of their own, which they called Fort Duquesne.

Fort Duquesne

Upon this, Dinwiddie resolved to dislodge the French, and he sent a small force against them. George Washington was with this little force and when its leader died he took command. But he was not able to dislodge the French. So after some fighting he was obliged to make terms with the enemy and march home discomfited.

 

Up to this time the war was purely an American one. France and Britain were at peace, and neither country sent soldiers to help their colonies. It was the settlers, the farmers, fishermen and fur traders of New England and New France who fought each other.

 

And in this the French had one great advantage over the British. The French were united, the British were not. New France was like one great colony in which every man was ready to answer the call to battle.

 

The British were divided into thirteen colonies. Each one of the thirteen colonies was jealous of all the others; each was selfishly concerned with its own welfare and quite careless of the welfare of the others. But already the feelings of patriotism had been born. Among the many who cared nothing for union there were a few who did. There were some who were neither Virginians nor New Englanders, neither Georgians nor Carolinians, but Americans. These now felt that if they were not to become the vassals of France they must stand shoulder to shoulder.

 

A Congress of all the Northern Colonies was now called at Albany to discuss some means of defense. And at this Congress Benjamin Franklin proposed a plan of union. But the colonies would have nothing to say to it. Some took no notice of it at all, others treated it with scorn, or said it put too much power into the hands of the King. As to the King, when he heard of it he rejected it also, for, said he, it gave too much power to the colonies. So for the time being nothing came of it. Meanwhile the Governors of the various colonies wrote home to England, and, seeing how serious the matter was becoming, the British Government sent out two regiments of soldiers to help the colonies. They were about a thousand men in all, and were under the leadership of Major-General Edward Braddock.

The Albany Congress, 1754

General Braddock arrives, 1755

As soon as the French heard this they, too, sent soldiers to Canada. It was just like a game of "Catch who catch can." For as soon as the British knew that French troops were sailing to America they sent a squadron to stop them. But the French had got a start, and most of them got away. The British ships, however, overtook some which had lagged behind the others.

 

As soon as they were within hailing distance a red flag was suddenly run up to the masthead of the British flagship.

 

"Is this peace or war?" shouted the French captain.

Peace or War?

"I don't know," answered the British, "but you had better prepare for war." He, however, gave the Frenchman little time to prepare, for the words were hardly out of his mouth before the thunder of cannon was heard.

 

The Frenchmen fought pluckily. But they were far outnumbered, and were soon forced to surrender.

 

Thus both on land and sea fighting had begun. Yet war had not been declared and King George and King Louis were still calling each other "dear cousin" or "dear brother," and making believe that there was no thought of war.

 

But the little success on sea was followed up by a bitter disaster on land.

 

General Braddock now commanded the whole army both home and colonial. He was a brave and honest man, but obstinate, fiery-tempered and narrow. He had a tremendous idea of what his own soldiers could do, and he was very scornful of the colonials. He was still more scornful of the Indians. "These savages," he said to Franklin, "may indeed be a formidable enemy to your raw American militia. But upon the King's regular and disciplined troops, sir, it is impossible that they should make any impression."

Braddock scorns the Indians

The haughty savages were quick to see that he looked down upon them. "He looks upon us as dogs," they said, and drawing their ragged blankets about them they stalked off deeply offended. With the same narrow pride Braddock turned away another useful ally.

 

This was Captain Jack, the Black Hunter. He was a white man, but he roamed the woods dressed like an Indian, followed by a band of men as reckless and lawless as himself. The Black Hunter, however, although he dressed like an Indian, was the white man's friend, the Redman's deadly foe.

Captain Jack

He had been at one time, it was said, a peaceful settler living happily with his wife and children. But one day he returned from hunting to find his cottage in ashes, and his wife and children dead among the ruins. In his grief and rage he vowed eternal vengeance on the Indians who had done the evil deed, robbing him for ever of home and happiness. Henceforth he roamed the woods a terror to the Redmen. For his aim was unerring, he could steal through the forest as silently and swiftly as they, and was as learned in all the woodland lore. His very name indeed struck terror to the hearts of all his foes.

 

Black Hunter now with his wild band of followers offered his help to Braddock. They were well armed, they cared neither for heat nor cold, they required no tents nor shelter for the night; nor did they ask for any pay.

 

General Braddock looked at the gaunt weather-beaten man of the woods, clad in hunting shirt and moccasins, painted and bedecked with feathers like an Indian. Truly a strange ally, he thought.

 

"I have experienced troops," he said, "on whom I can depend."

Braddock scorns him

And finding that he could get no other answer Black Hunter and his men drew off, and disappeared into the woods whence they had come.

 

On the other hand Braddock had much to put up with. The whole success of the expedition depended on swiftness. The British must strike a blow before the French had time to arm. But when Braddock landed nothing was ready; there were no stores, no horses, no wagons. And it seemed impossible to gather them. Nobody seemed to care greatly whether the expedition set out or not. So, goaded to fury Braddock stamped and swore, and declared that nearly every one he had to do with was stupid or dishonest.

 

But at length the preparations were complete, and in June the expedition set out.

Braddock's expedition sets out

From the first things went wrong. Had Braddock gone through Pennsylvania he would have found a great part of his road cleared for him. But he went through Virginia, and had to hew his way through pathless forest.

 

In front of the army went three hundred axemen to cut down trees and clear a passage. Behind them the long baggage train jolted slowly onwards, now floundering axle deep through mud, now rocking perilously over stumps or stones. On either side threading in and out among the trees marched the soldiers. So day after day the many-coloured cavalcade wound along, bugle call and sound of drum awakening the forest silences.

 

The march was toilsome, and many of the men, unused to the hardships of the wilderness, fell ill, and the slow progress became slower still. At length Braddock decided to divide his force, and leaving the sick men and the heaviest baggage behind, press on more rapidly with the others. It was George Washington who went with him as an aide-de-camp who advised this.

 

So the sick and all baggage that could be done without were left behind with Colonel Dunbar. But even after this the progress was very slow.

The sick are left behind

Meanwhile news of the coming of the British army had been carried to the French at Fort Duquesne. And when they heard how great the force was, they were much alarmed. But a gallant Frenchman named Beaujeu offered to go out and meet the British, lie in wait for them and take them unawares. But to do this he had need of Indian help. So council fires were lit and Beaujeu flung down the war hatchet. But the Indians refused it, for they were afraid of the great British force.

Beaujeu

"Do you want to die, our father?" they asked, "and sacrifice us also?"

 

"I am determined to go," said Beaujeu. "What! Will you let your father go alone? I know we shall win."

 

Seeing him so confident the Indians forgot their fears, and the war dance was danced. Then, smeared with paint and led by Beaujeu himself dressed like a savage, they marched to meet the British.

French and Indians march to meet the British;

There were about six hundred Indians and half as many Frenchmen. Stealthily they crept through the forest, flitting like shadows from tree to tree, closing ever nearer and nearer upon the British.

 

They, meanwhile, had reached the river Monongahela. They crossed it gaily, for they knew now that Fort Duquesne was near; their toilsome march was at an end, and victory was sure.

 

It was a glorious summer morning; the bands played, the men laughed and shouted joyously. The long line swept onward, a glittering pageant of scarlet and blue, of shining steel and fluttering banners.

 

Then suddenly out of the forest darted a man dressed like an Indian. When he saw the advancing column he stopped. Then turning, he waved to some one behind him. It was Beaujeu, and at his signal the air was rent with the terrible Indian war cry, and a hail of bullets swept the British ranks.

the attack;

Shouting "God save the King" the British returned the fire. But it availed little, for they could not see the enemy. From the shelter of the forest, hidden behind trees, the French and Indians fired upon the British. They were an easy mark, for they stood solidly, shoulder to shoulder, their scarlet coats showing clearly against the green background. Still the British stood their ground firing volley after volley. It was quite useless, for they could see no enemy. The puffs of smoke were their only guides. To aim at the points where the smoke came from was all they could do. But for the most part their bullets crashed through the branches, or were buried in tree trunks, while the pitiless rain of lead mowed down the redcoats.

terrible slaughter;

The American soldiers fared better. For as soon as they were attacked they scattered, and from behind the shelter of trees fought the Indians in their own fashion. Some of the British tried to do the same. But Braddock had no knowledge of savage warfare. To fight in such a manner seemed to him shocking. It was unsoldierly; it was cowardly. So he swore savagely at his men, calling them cowards, and beat them back into line with the flat of his sword. And thus huddled together they stood a brilliant, living target for the bullets of the savages.

 

Braddock himself fought with fury. He dashed here and there, swearing, commanding, threatening. Four horses were shot under him, and at last he himself fell wounded to death.

 

Washington too fought with fearless bravery, trying to carry out Braddock's frenzied orders. And although he escaped unhurt his clothes were riddled with holes, and twice his horse was shot under him.

 

For nearly three hours the terrible carnage lasted. Then flesh and blood could stand no more, and the men broke rank and fled. All night they fled in utter rout, bearing with them their wounded leader.

defeat;

At length they reached Dunbar's camp. But even then they did not pause. For the news of the disaster had thrown the whole camp into confusion. Frantic orders were given, and obeyed with frenzied haste. Wagon loads of stores were burned, barrels of gunpowder were staved in, and the contents poured into the river; shells and bullets were buried. Then, the work of destruction complete, the whole army moved on again in utter rout.

retreat

And now Braddock's dark, last hour had come. Brooding and silent he lay in his litter. This awful defeat was something he could not grasp. "Who would have thought it?" he murmured. "Who would have thought it?" But his stubborn spirit was yet unbroken. "We will know better how to do it another time," he sighed. A few minutes later he died.

Braddock dies

His men buried him in the middle of the road, Washington reading over him the prayers for the dead. Then lest the Indians should find and desecrate his last resting-place the whole army passed over his grave.

 


CHAPTER 49
THE END OF FRENCH RULE IN AMERICA

BRADDOCK'S campaign was a complete disaster. The French had triumphed, and even those Indians who up till now had been willing to side with the British were anxious to make friends with the French. For were they not the stronger? Surely it seemed to them the White Father of the St. Lawrence was more powerful than the White Father of the Hudson.

 

"If the English will not suffer the branches of the Great Tree of Peace to hide us from the French," they said, "we will go farther off. We will lie down and warm ourselves by the war fires of the French. We love to hear the sound of the war whoop. We delight in the war yell. It flies from hill to hill, from heart to heart. It makes the old heart young, it makes the young heart dance. Our young braves run to battle with the swiftness of the fawn. If you will not fight, the French will drive us from our hunting grounds. The English King does not aid us, we must join the strong. Who is strong? Who is strong? The French! The English have become weak."

Many Indians join the French

War was now really declared between France and Britain and fighting took place in Europe as well as in America. And in America things went ill for the British. Defeats and disasters followed each other, things were muddled and went wrong continually. For truth to tell the British had no great leader either in England or in America, while the French had the Marquess Montcalm, one of the best soldiers in the French army, as their commander-in-chief.

 

At length, however, a great man came to power in England. This was William Pitt, known as the Great Commoner. He was, it has been said, the first Englishman of his time, and he made England the first country in the world. He was a great judge of men, and he had a happy way of choosing the right man for the right place. So now instead of defeats came victories, not only in America, but all over the world. "We are forced to ask every morning," said a witty man of the time, "what victory there has been for fear of missing one."

William Pitt, 1708-78

In America Louisburg fell once more into the hands of the British. Fort Duquesne too was taken, and the misery of Braddock's disaster was wiped out. Then in honour of the great statesman the name of the fort was changed to Pittsburg. It is still called by that name and is now one of the world's greatest manufacturing cities; and where Braddock fought and fell stretches a network of streets.

Fort Duquesne called Pittsburg

But although the British had many successes the key of Canada defied all efforts to take it. Quebec still frowned upon her rock, invulnerable as in the days of old lion-hearted Frontenac.

 

Among the men Pitt had chosen to lead the armies in America was Major-General James Wolfe. He was a long-legged, red-haired Englishman. There was nothing of the hero about his appearance except his bright and flashing eyes. It was this man who was sent to capture Quebec. Many people were astonished at Pitt's choice. "He is mad," said one stupid old man.

General Wolfe, 1727-59

"Mad is he?" said King George. "Then I wish he would bite some others of my generals."

 

Led by a daring old sea captain the British war ships passed safely up the St. Lawrence and anchored off the Isle of Orleans a little below Quebec.

Siege of Quebec begins

Once more British guns thundered against the high rock fortress. The town was laid in ruins, the country round was but a barren waste. Yet the fortress of Quebec was no nearer being taken than before. Weeks and months went past, the fleet rocked idly at anchor, the troops lay almost as idle in their tents. Only the gunners had work to do. And although they shattered the walls of Quebec the Frenchmen were undaunted.

 

"You may ruin the town," they said, "but you will never get inside."

 

"I will have Quebec if I stay here till the end of November," replied Wolfe.

 

But Montcalm smiled grimly. Winter, he knew, would be his ally. For then the St. Lawrence would be frozen from bank to bank and before that the British must sail away or be caught fast in its icy jaws.

 

Wolfe, who was frail and sickly by nature, now broke down beneath the strain and the constant disappointments. Helpless and in agony he lay on his sickbed, his mind still busy with plans of how to take Quebec.

Wolfe falls ill;

"Doctor," he said, "I know you can't cure me but patch me up till I see this business through."

 

Soon he was about again, and making plans for his last desperate attempt to take Quebec.

 

Seeking to find a means of reaching the fortress he had himself examined all the north shores of the St. Lawrence. And just a little above the town he had found one spot where a narrow pathway led up the steep cliffs. It was so steep and narrow that the French never dreamed of any one making an attack that way, and it was carelessly guarded. But dangerous though it was it seemed to Wolfe the only way, and he determined to attempt it.

 

Soon his preparations were made, and one dark moonless night in September a long procession of boats floated silently down the river. In one of the boats sat Wolfe, and as they drifted slowly along in the starlight in a low voice he repeated Gray's poem called an Elegy in a Country Churchyard:

"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
  And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour,
  The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

a last attempt;

"Gentlemen," said Wolfe when he finished, "I would rather have written those lines than take Quebec."

 

In dead silence now the boats drifted on. Then suddenly out of the darkness rang a sharp challenge.

 

"Who goes there?" was asked in French.

 

"France," replied a Highland officer who spoke good French.

 

"What regiment?" shouted the sentry.

 

"The Queen's," answered the officer glibly, for luckily he had learned from French prisoners that boats with provisions were expected by the enemy, and that very likely the Queen's regiment would convoy them.

 

The sentry was satisfied and let the boats pass. But they were not safe yet. A little further on they were challenged again.

 

The same officer replied.

 

"Speak louder!" cried the sentry.

 

"Hush!" replied the Highlander, "provision boats, I say. Do not make a noise; the British will hear us."

 

The sentry was quite deceived. He let the boats pass, and very soon the men were safely landed.

 

Then the climb began. Like wild mountain cats the men dashed at it. They swung themselves up by branches of trees, gripping projecting stones and roots with hand and knee. It was hot, breathless work, but soon they were near the top. But they had been heard. Once more the challenge rang out, "Who goes there?"

a desperate climb

"France," panted a voice from below. But this time the sentry was not deceived. He could see nothing, but he fired at a venture down into the darkness.

 

It was too late. The first men had reached the top, and the guard was overpowered. So hour by hour up the steep cliff the red coats swarmed unhindered. When morning dawned four thousand British stood upon the plains of Abraham.

 

"This is a very serious business," said Montcalm when he heard of it, "but it can only be a small party."

 

Soon, however, more news was brought to him. It was no small party.

 

"Then we must crush them," he said, and with pale set face he rode forth to battle.

 

It was ten o'clock when the fight began. The French attacked first. The British awaited them calmly as they dashed on over the plain. On they came nearer and nearer. Then suddenly the order was given, and, cheering wildly, the British charged.

The fight begins

A shot struck Wolfe in the wrist. Without pausing he tied a handkerchief about it. Again he was hit. Still he went on. Then a third shot struck his breast, and he fell. Hastily he was carried to the rear, and laid upon the ground.

 

"It is all over with me," he sighed. Then he lay still in a sort of stupor.

 

Suddenly one of the officers beside him cried out, "They run! They run!"

 

"Who run?" said Wolfe, rousing himself.

 

"The enemy, sir," answered the officer, "they give way everywhere."

 

"Now God be praised," murmured Wolfe. "I die happy." Then turning on his side he died.

Wolfe dies



THE DEATH OF WOLFE
A shot struck Wolfe in the wrist . . . Again
he was hit. Still he went on. Then a third shot
struck his breast and he fell.


Everywhere the French fled, and in their mad rush they carried along with them their gallant leader, Montcalm. He was sorely wounded, but still sat his horse as he rode within the gates of Quebec. Here an excited, eager crowd was gathered, waiting for news. And when they saw Montcalm's well-known figure on his black horse they were seized with dismay. For his face was white and drawn and blood flowed from his breast.

 

"Alas! Alas!" cried a woman in a piercing voice of despair, "the Marquess is killed!"

 

"It is nothing, it is nothing, good friends," he replied. "Do not trouble about me." So saying he fell from his horse into the arms of one of his officers.

 

That night he died.

 

He was glad to go. "It is better for me," he said, "for I shall not live to see Quebec surrender."

 

With him died the last hope of New France. The story of New France was done. The Story of Canada was about to begin as well as that of her mighty neighbour. For as a great English historian has said, "With the triumph of Wolfe on the Heights of Abraham began the history of the United States."

Montcalm dies, 1759

Meanwhile, however, the war still dragged on for another year. Then the following summer Montreal surrendered to the British, and French rule in America was completely at an end.

 

Fighting in America was over. But the war still went on in other parts of the world. Spain had also joined in the struggle, and from them the British took Cuba and the Philippine Islands. But at length in 1763 peace was made by the Treaty of Paris.

Treaty of Paris, 1763

By this treaty Britain was confirmed in her claim to nearly the whole of French possessions in America. So that from the Atlantic to the Mississippi and from the Gulf of Mexico to Hudson Bay was now declared British except the peninsula forming Florida. That the Spaniards claimed. So in exchange for it the British gave back Cuba and the Philippines. And to make up to Spain for the loss of Florida France gave them New Orleans and resigned to Spain all claims to the land which La Salle had called Louisiana.

 

Thus nothing remained to France of all her great possessions in America, and the vast continent was divided between Spain and Britain. Never in all known history had a single treaty transferred such enormous tracts of land from one nation to another.

 


CHAPTER 50
THE REBELLION OF PONTIAC

"DO you not know the difference between the King of France and the King of Britain?" a Frenchman once asked an Indian. "Go, look at the forts which our King has built, you will see that you can still hunt under their very walls. They have been built for your good in the places where you go. The British on the other hand are no sooner in possession of a place than they drive the game away, the trees fall before them, the earth is laid bare, so that you can scarcely find a few branches with which to make a shelter for the night."

 

The Frenchman spoke truth. The British settlers were, for the most part, grave and earnest men who had come to seek new homes. They felled trees and built their houses, and ploughed the land, turning wilderness into cornfields and meadow.

British settlers

The Frenchmen came for the sake of religion or for adventure, they set up crosses and claimed the land for God and the King. They scattered churches and hamlets far in the wilderness, but left the wilderness and the forest still the Redman's hunting ground. The Frenchmen treated the Indians with an easy, careless sort of friendliness, while most of the British looked down upon them as savages.

French settlers

So very soon after the British took possession of Canada the Indians became very discontented. For now they got no more presents, they were no longer treated as brothers, and they were hurt both in their pockets and their pride. "The English mean to make slaves of us," they said, in haughty indignation, and soon a plot to murder all the British was formed.

Discontent of Indians

The French who still lived in Canada encouraged the Indians in their discontent, telling them that the English meant thoroughly to root them out. Then a great Medicine Man arose among them who preached war.

A Medicine Man

"The Great Spirit himself appeared unto me," he said. "Thus he spake. 'I am the Lord of Life. It is I who made all men. I work for their safety, therefore I give you warning. Suffer not the English to dwell in your midst, lest their poisons and their sickness destroy you utterly.'"

 

When they heard the Medicine Man speak thus, the Indians were greatly stirred. "The Lord of Life himself," they said, "moves our hearts to war." They became ever more and more eager to fight. They only wanted a leader, and found one in Pontiac, chief of the Ottawas.

Pontiac

He was subtle and fierce, haughty and ambitious, and by far the most clever and powerful chief who ever took up arms against the white man.

 

Now he sent messengers to all the Indian villages both far and near. With them these messengers carried a hatchet, stained with blood, and a war belt of scarlet wampum. When they came to a village they called the braves together. Then in their midst their spokesman flung down the blood stained hatchet, and holding the belt in his hand he made a passionate speech, reminding the Redmen of their wrongs, and calling upon them to be avenged upon their foes. And wherever the messengers went the blood stained hatchet was seized, and the war dance danced.

 

At length all was arranged and upon a certain day in May the Indians were to rise in a body, and slay the British to a man. Only the French were to be spared.

Indians plot against the British

Pontiac himself was to attack Fort Detroit, and so quietly and secretly were the preparations made that no one had the slightest suspicion of what was going forward. But the day before the attack a farmer's wife rowed across the river, and went to the Indian village to buy some maple sugar. While she was there she was much astonished to see some of the Indian braves filing off the barrels of their guns. The sight made her uneasy. "I wonder what they are up to?" she said.

 

When she got home she told her friends what she had seen.

 

"I believe they are up to some mischief," she repeated.

 

"I think so too," said a blacksmith, "they have been asking me to lend them files and saws."

 

As the settlers talked the matter over they became at length so uneasy that they sent to tell Major Gladwin, the commander of the fort, of what they had seen. He, however, thought nothing of it.

 

But later in the day a young Indian girl came to see him, to bring him a pair of moccasins which he had asked her to make. She seemed very sad and downcast, and after she had given the Major the moccasins she still loitered about.

 

"What's the matter?" asked a young officer.

 

The Indian girl did not answer, she only looked at him gravely with sorrowful brown eyes.

 

Still she lingered about, it was nearly dark, time almost to close the gates. At last the young officer watching her, became certain that something was the matter, and he urged his commander to see the girl again.

 

Major Gladwin at once called the girl to him. "What is the matter?" he asked. "Why are you so sad?"

 

Still she would not speak. Then the Major talked to her kindly, promising that whatever her secret was, it would be safe with him, and that he would never betray her. So at length the Indian girl spoke.

 

"The Indians mean to kill you all," she whispered; "the braves have filed off the ends of their gun barrels so that the guns can be hidden beneath their blankets. To-morrow Pontiac will come with many warriors, and will ask to hold a Council within the fort. He will make a speech, and offer you a peace belt of wampum. At the end of the speech he will turn the belt round–that will be the signal. The chiefs will then spring up, draw the guns from their hiding places, and kill you all. Indians outside will kill all your soldiers. Not one of you will escape."

her story

So saying the girl went sadly away.

 

Gladwin at once called his officers and told them what he had heard. They were convinced now that evil was afoot, and all night they kept watch lest the Indians should change their minds, and make their attack during the night.

 

But the night passed peacefully. When morning came a great many Indians were seen to be gathered about the fort, and at ten o'clock Pontiac, followed by his chiefs, entered the gateway.

Pontiac enters the Fort;

They stalked in proudly, garbed in all the glory of savage splendours. They were cloaked in bright coloured blankets, and hung about with beads and hawk-bells. Their heads were decorated with eagle feathers, and their faces hideously painted.

 

Pontiac came first, and as he passed beneath the gateway, he started, and drew a sharp, deep breath. For both sides of the narrow street were lined with soldiers gun in hand. He had been betrayed! Yet the haughty chiefs made no sign. In silence they stalked on, not a muscle of their faces moving. Here and there as they passed on they saw traders standing about in groups, every man fully armed. Not a woman or child was to be seen.

he finds it guarded

At length the Indians reached the Council Hall. Here they found the commander seated awaiting them, surrounded by his officers. They, too, were armed, for every man of them wore a sword by his side and a brace of pistols in his belt.

 

Ill at ease now, the Indians gazed at each other in doubt what to do.

 

Then Pontiac spoke, "why," he asked, "do I see so many of my father's braves standing in the street with their guns?"

 

"Because I exercise my soldiers," replied Gladwin calmly, "for the good of their health, and also to keep discipline."

The Council begins

This answer made the Indians still more uneasy, but after some hesitation they all sat down on the floor. Then with due ceremony Pontiac rose, and holding the belt of peace in his hand began to speak. His words were fair. They had come, he said, to tell of their love for the English, "to smoke the pipe of peace, and make the bonds of friendship closer."

 

As he spoke his false and cunning words, the officers kept a watchful eye upon him. Would he give the signal or not, they asked themselves.

 

He raised the belt. At that moment Gladwin made a quick, slight signal. Immediately from the passage with out came the sound of grounding arms, and the rat-tat of a drum. Pontiac stood rigid, as one turned to stone. Then after a moment's deathly silence he sat down.

 

In the silence Gladwin sat looking steadily and fearlessly at the Indians. Then he replied shortly to Pontiac's fine speech, "The friendship of the British should be theirs," he said, "so long as they deserved it."

 

The Council was at an end. The gates of the fort which had been closed were now thrown open again, and the savages, balked in their treachery, stalked back to their wigwams.

The Indians leave the Fort;

But Pontiac was not yet beaten, and again he tried to master the fort by treachery. And when he found the gates of the fort shut against him, his rage was terrible. Then seeing they could not win Fort Detroit by treachery, the Indians attacked it in force. But in spite of all his horde of warriors, in spite of all his wiles, Pontiac could not take the fort although he besieged it for a whole year.

1763;

Meanwhile the savages over-ran the whole country, and every other fort, save Fort Pitt and Fort Niagara, fell into their hands. More often than not, they won their way into the forts by treachery, and having entered they slew, without mercy, men, women and children.

 

At Michilimackinac the Redskins invited the officers and soldiers to watch a game of ball. The invitation was accepted, and nearly all the soldiers stood about watching while the Indians with piercing yells dashed madly hither and thither after the ball. Crowds of Indians also looked on, among them many squaws wrapped in coloured blankets. The game was played just outside the fort, the gates stood open, and most of the soldiers had strolled out without their weapons to watch.

a game of ball;

Suddenly the ball flew through the air and landed close to the gate of the fort. There was a mad rush after it. As they ran the Indians snatched the hatchets and knives which till now the squaws had hidden beneath their blankets. Screams of delight were changed to war cries. The two officers who stood by the gate were seized and carried away prisoner, while the rabble stormed into the fort slaying and robbing at will. Every one of the British was either killed or taken prisoner, but the French were left alone.

it ends in slaughter;

Thus all the land was filled with bloodshed and horror. There was no safety anywhere. In every bush an Indian might lurk, and night was made terrible with bloodcurdling war cries.

 

For nearly three years the war lasted. But by degrees Pontiac saw that his cause was lost. The French did not help him as he had expected they would. Some of his followers deserted, and other tribes refused to join him, and at last he saw himself forced to make peace. So there were flowery speeches, and the exchange of wampum belts, and peace was made.

 

Then Pontiac's army melted away like snow in summer, and the great Chief himself retired to the forest to live among his children and his squaws. A few years later he was traitorously slain by one of his own people.

peace is made, 1766



PART VI: STORIES OF THE STRUGGLE FOR LIBERTY


CHAPTER 51
THE BOSTON TEA-PARTY

ALL these wars which had been fought on American soil had cost a great deal of money and many lives. Now it seemed to the British Government that the best way to be sure of peace in the future was to keep an army in America. They decided to do this. They also decided that America should pay for the army. And in order to raise the money a stamp tax was to be introduced. Newspapers, marriage licenses, wills, and all sorts of legal papers were henceforth to be printed on stamped paper, the price of stamps varying according to the importance of the paper from a few pence to as many pounds.

The Stamp Act, 1765

But when the Americans heard that this Act had been passed without their consent they were angry.

 

"No," they said to the British Government, "you cannot tax us without our consent. It is one of the foundations of British freedom that those who pay the tax must also consent to it. We are not represented in the British Parliament, our consent has not been asked, and we deny your right to tax us."

"No taxation without representation"

The whole country was filled with clamour. In every colony young men banded themselves together, calling themselves Sons of Liberty, and determined to resist the tax. "No taxation without representation" was the cry.

 

When the first boxes of stamps arrived they were seized and destroyed. Newspapers appeared with a skull and crossbones printed where the stamp should have been. There were riots and mass meetings everywhere.

 

The Americans did not merely resist, they resisted in a body. Nothing but the idea that their liberty was in danger made them act together. Over everything else they had been divided. Over that they were united. "There ought to be no New England men, no New Yorkers, known on the continent," said one man; "but all of us Americans."

Americans all

Even in Britain there were people who thought this Stamp Act was a mistake. The great Pitt had been ill when it was passed into law, but when he returned to Parliament he spoke strongly against it.

 

"I was ill in bed," he said, "but if I could have been carried here in my bed I would have asked some kind friend to lay me on this floor, so that I might have spoken against it. It is a subject of greater importance than ever engaged the attention of this House; that subject always excepted, when nearly a century ago it was the question whether you yourselves were to be bond or free."

 

Pitt was thinking of the time when Englishmen strove with Charles I. He gloried in British liberty, and he could not bear to think of Britons oppressing Britons. "Who that has an English heart," he once said, "can ever be weary of asserting liberty?"

 

"I rejoice that America has resisted," he said later.

 

There were many against Pitt, but he won the day, and the Stamp Act was repealed.

The Stamp Act repealed, 1766

There was great rejoicing in America, and the matter seemed at an end. But the very next year a new bill for taxing the Americans was brought into Parliament. This time the tax was to be paid on tea, glass, lead and a few other things brought into the country.

 

Once again the colonies were ablaze, and they refused to pay this duty just as they had refused to pay the Stamp Tax. Everywhere there were indignation meetings. But Boston seemed to be the heart of the storm, and to Boston British troops were sent to keep order.

 

The soldiers had nothing to do, but the very sight of their red coats made the colonists angry. They taunted the soldiers, and worried them every way they knew, and the soldiers were not slow to reply. So at last after eighteen months of bickering one March evening it came to blows. Two or three exasperated soldiers fired upon the crowd of citizens, five of whom were killed and several others wounded.

 

This was afterwards known as the Boston Massacre. It made the people terribly angry, and next day a great meeting was held in Old South Church. At this meeting the people demanded that the troops should be at once removed from the town. And seeing the temper of the people the Lieutenant Governor withdrew them that same day to a little island in the harbour.

The Boston Massacre, 1770

And now finding how useless it was to try to force taxes on unwilling subjects, the Government removed all the taxes except one. King George wanted to show his power. He wanted to prove to the Americans that he had the right to tax them if he liked. So he insisted that there should still be a tax on tea.

The tea tax

"The King will have it so, he means to try the question with America," said Lord North, the easy-going, stupid minister who was now in power.

 

But to prove that neither the King nor any one else had the right to tax them, without their consent, was exactly for what the Americans were fighting. To them, one tax was as bad as a dozen. It was not a question of money, but a question of right or wrong, of freedom or slavery. So they refused to pay the tax on tea. They refused to buy tea from Britain at all, and smuggled it from Holland. Ships laden with tea came to port, and it was landed. But no one would buy it, and it rotted and mouldered in the cellars. In Boston, however, the people determined that it should not even land. And when three ships laden with tea came into Boston harbour, the people refused to allow them to unload.

Three tea ships arrive at Boston, 1773

"Take your tea back again to England," they said to the captain.

 

But the captain could not do that, for the customs officers would not allow him to leave until he had landed his cargo. The people were greatly excited. Large meetings were held, and every possible manner of getting rid of the tea was discussed. But at length some of the younger men grew tired of talk. Time was passing. If something were not done, the tea would be landed by force.

 

That, these bold young men determined, should not be. So about fifty of them dressed themselves as Red Indians, staining their faces brown and painting them hideously. Then, tomahawk in hand, they stole silently down to the ships, and uttering wild war cries sprang on board. They seized the tea chests and with their hatchets burst them open, and poured the tea into the harbour.

The "tea party"

There were nearly three hundred and fifty chests, and soon the harbour was black with tea. It was terrible waste, but no one stopped it. From the shore people looked on quietly. And when the work was done the "Red Indians" vanished away as silently as they had come. This was afterwards called the Boston Tea Party. Certainly no greater brewing of tea has ever been known.

 

When George III heard of the Boston Tea Party he was very angry, and he resolved to punish the people of Boston. "They will be lions," he said, "as long as we are lambs, but if we show them that we mean to be firm they will soon prove very meek."

 

So he closed the port and forbade any ships to go there, thus cutting off Boston from the trade of the world. He also said that Boston should no longer be the capital of Massachusetts, and made Salem the capital instead.

Boston port closed

Boston, of course, was well-nigh ruined by these acts. But instead of looking coldly on her misfortunes, the other colonies rallied to her aid. And grain, cattle and all sorts of merchandise poured into Boston from them.

 

Boston could not be starved, neither could it be frightened into submitting.

 


CHAPTER 52
PAUL REVERE'S RIDE–THE UNSHEATHING OF THE SWORD

ALL the colonies now felt that they must unite in truth, and that they must have some centre to which all could appeal. So a Congress of all the colonies was called at Philadelphia. This is called the first Continental Congress, and to it all the colonies except Georgia sent delegates.

First Continental Congress, 1774

This Congress drew up a Declaration of Rights. They also sent an address to the King in which they declared that they had no wish to separate from Britain.

 

But the King called the Congress an unlawful and seditious gathering, and would not listen to anything it had to say. Still, far-seeing statesmen with Pitt at their head struggled to bring about a reconciliation.

 

"I contend, not for indulgence, but for justice to America," he said. "The Americans are a brave, generous and united people, with arms in their hands, and courage in their hearts. It is not repealing this act of Parliament, it is not repealing a piece of parchment, that can restore America to our bosom. You must repeal her fears and her resentments. And you may then hope for her love and gratitude."

 

But few people listened to Pitt, the bill which he brought into Parliament was rejected with scorn, and the great struggle which was to last for eight years began.

 

Already in America, men's minds had begun to turn to war, and on every village green the farmers might be seen drilling every evening. Bands of minute men, that is, men who would be ready at a minute's notice, were organised. All sorts of war stores were gathered.

 

Two of the leaders of the people in all these matters were Samuel Adams and John Hancock. These men Governor Gage, who was also commander of the troops, was ordered to arrest and send to England to be tried as traitors. Gage having heard that both men were staying at the village of Lexington decided to arrest them together.

Samuel Adams, 1722-1803 John Hancock, 1737-93

For this he carefully laid his plans. Eight hundred men were to leave Boston in secret at dead of night. First they were to go to Lexington, and having arrested the "traitors" they were next to march on to Concord to seize the large war stores which were known to be gathered there.

 

All the preparations were made as silently and as secretly as possible. But the colonists were on the alert. They knew that something was afoot, and guessed what it was.

 

On the 18th of April Gage gave strict orders that no one was to be allowed to leave Boston that night. But no orders could stop determined men.

 

And as the moon was rising a little boat was rowed across the Charles river almost under the shadow of the British man-of-war. The boat reached the farther shore and a man booted and spurred, as if ready for a long ride, leaped out upon the bank. This man was Paul Revere.

Paul Revere, 1735-1818

At ten o'clock the troops also were silently rowed across the Charles River, and in the darkness set out for Lexington. But not far off on the bank of the same river, a man stood waiting beside a saddled horse. Quietly he waited, looking always towards the tower of the Old North Church. It was Paul Revere, and he waited for a signal to tell him which way the red coats were going.

The signal

Suddenly about eleven o'clock two twinkling lights appeared upon the tower, and without a moment's loss Paul Revere leaped into the saddle and dashed away. Swiftly he rode, urging his good horse onward with voice and hand.

The ride

Near the lonely spot where stood the gallows he passed. Here under a tree, two horsemen waited, and as Revere came nearer he saw that they were British soldiers. Swiftly they darted at him. One tried to seize his bridle, the other to head him off. But Revere was a fearless rider, and knew the countryside by heart. He swerved suddenly, doubled, and was soon clear of his pursuers.

 

Then on through the darkness he galloped unhindered till he reached Medford. Here he stayed but to rouse the captain of the minute men, and onward he sped once more. Now at the door of every cottage or farmhouse which he passed he loudly knocked, shouting his news "the soldiers are coming," and thundered off again in the darkness.

 

A little after midnight he reached Lexington and stopped before the house where Adams and Hancock were sleeping. He found it guarded by minute men, and as he excitedly shouted his news, they bade him be quiet.

Lexington reached

"Don't make such a noise," said the sergeant, "you will waken the people in the house."

 

"Noise," cried Revere, "you will soon have noise enough–the regulars are coming."

 

Hancock was awake, and hearing Revere's voice he threw up his window, shouting to the guard to let him in. So Revere went into the house and told all he knew. When they heard the news, Hancock wanted to stay and fight, if fighting there was to be. But the others would not hear of it, so as day dawned the two men quietly walked away, and were soon on the road to Philadelphia.

Hancock and Adams escape

Meanwhile the British troops were steadily marching nearer and nearer. At first all was silent: save the clatter and jingle of their arms and the tramp of their feet, there was no sound. No light was to be seen far or near. Then suddenly a bell rang, a shout was heard, lights twinkled here and there. The night was no longer silent and dark. The country was no longer asleep.

 

The colonel in command of the troops grew anxious. He had expected to take the people completely by surprise, and he had not done so. Somehow the secret had leaked out. The whole countryside was up and awake, and fearing lest with his small company of soldiers, he would not be able to do what he had set out to do, he sent back to Boston for more men.

 

And sure enough, his fears were well founded, for when in the cold grey of early dawn the advance party reached Lexington, they found a little guard of sixty or seventy armed men drawn up to receive them.

The British troops reach Lexington

"Disperse, ye rebels, disperse," shouted the commander as he rode towards them. But the men stood motionless and silent.

 

"Why don't you disperse, you villains?" he cried again.

 

Then seeing words had no effect, he gave the order to fire. The soldiers obeyed, and eight minute men fell dead, and several more were wounded. The minute men returned the fire, but just then more British soldiers appeared in sight. And seeing that it was useless to try to resist so great a force the Americans dispersed.

The first shot fired, April 19, 1775

Thus the terrible war, which was almost a civil war, began. The British now marched on to Concord. They had failed to arrest the men they had been sent to arrest at Lexington. So there was all the more reason to hurry on to Concord, and seize the war stores before there was time to spirit them away. But when about seven o'clock in the morning the troops arrived at Concord the stores for the most part had been already safely hidden. A gun or two they found, and a few barrels of flour. The guns were spiked, the barrels staved in, the court house set on fire.

 

But meanwhile the minute men had been gathering, and now a force four hundred strong appeared on the further side of a bridge known as the North Bridge. The bridge was held by two hundred British, and when they saw the minute men approach they began to destroy it.

The fight at the bridge

There was a sharp exchange of fire. Then the minute men charged across the narrow bridge, sweeping all before them. The British fled back to the village, and the minute men, hardly knowing what they had done, retired again across the bridge and waited.

 

The British leader now decided to return to Boston. He had done nothing which he had set out to do. But he saw this his position was one of great danger. Everywhere he was surrounded with enemies. His men were hungry and worn out, so about twelve o'clock the march back to Boston began.

 

But the return was not easy, for all the way the troops were harassed by the Americans. Every bush, every wall concealed an armed farmer, whose aim was deadly and sure. Man after man fell, and beneath the constant and galling fire coming, it seemed from everywhere and nowhere, the nerves of the wearied, hungry men gave way. Faster and faster the long red line swept along in every growing confusion. There was no thought now of anything but safety, and the march was almost a rout when at length the reinforcements from Boston appeared. These were a thousand strong, and their leader, Lord Percy, seeing the confusion and distress of the British formed his men into a hollow square. Into this refuge the fugitives fled, throwing themselves upon the ground in utter exhaustion, with their tongues hanging out of their mouths "like those of dogs after a chase."

The British retreat

Lord Percy had brought cannons with him, so with these he swept the field, and for a time forced the colonists to retire. But they did not disperse; they still hovered near, and as soon as the retreat again began, there began with it the constant galling fire from every tree or bush, before, behind, on either side. To return the fire was useless, as the enemy were hidden. It was a sort of warfare not unlike that which Braddock had had to meet, a sort of warfare in which the American farmer was skilled, but of which the British soldier knew nothing. So when, at length, as day darkened the British troops reached Boston they were utterly spent and weary. And in a huddled, disorganised crowd, they hurried into shelter.

 


CHAPTER 53
THE FIRST THRUST–THE BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL

THE sword was at length unsheathed. There was no more doubt about it. There was to be a war between the Mother Country and her daughter states. And now far and wide throughout the colonies the call to arms was heard and answered. Farmers left their ploughs and seized their rifles, trappers forsook their hunting grounds, traders left their business, and hastened to join the army.

 

John Stark, a bold trapper learned in Indian ways and famous in Indian warfare, marched from New Hampshire at the head of several hundred men. Israel Putnam, more famous still for his deeds of daring in the Indian wars, came too. He was busy on his farm at Pomfret, Connecticut, when the news of the fight at Lexington reached him. He was already a man of fifty-seven but there and then he left his work and hastened round the neighbouring farms calling out the militia. Then, commanding them to follow him with all speed, he mounted his horse, and turned its head towards Cambridge. Hour after hour throughout the night he rode onward, and as day dawned on the 21st of April he galloped into Cambridge, having ridden a hundred miles in eighteen hours without a change of horse. Handsome young Captain Benedict Arnold, half sailor, half merchant, gathered his men on New Haven green. And when the general of militia bade him wait for regular orders and refused to supply him with ammunition for his men, he threatened to break open the magazine if the ammunition was not forthcoming at once. So, seeing that nothing would restrain him, the general yielded, and Arnold, gallant and gay, with sixty men behind him marched for Cambridge.

John Stark, 1728-1822

Israel Putnam, 1718-90

Benedict Arnold, 1741-1801

Thus day by day men of all classes, and of all ages, poured in from the countryside, until an army of sixteen thousand was gathered around Boston.

 

Meetings, too, were held throughout the country, when patriots urged the need of arming and fighting. In the Virginian Convention, Patrick Henry, the great orator, thrilled his hearers with his fiery eloquence. "We must fight," he cried, "I repeat it, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us." Brilliantly, convincingly he spoke, and ended with the unforgettable words:– "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

 

"His last exclamation," said one who heard him, "was like the shout of the leader who turns back the rout of battle."

 

But even yet the leaders of the country hoped to avoid a war. The second Continental Congress met at Philadelphia on the 10th of May and the members talked anxiously of ways and means to restore peace. But it was already too late. For the gathered army was no longer to be restrained, and the very day upon which Congress met a British fortress had been seized by the colonists.

 

The chain of lakes and rivers connecting the Hudson with the St. Lawrence was felt to be of great importance to the colonists. For if Britain had control of it it would cut the colonies in two, and stop intercourse between New England and the south. It would also give the British an easy route by which to bring troops and supplies from Canada.

 

Among those who felt the importance of this route was Benedict Arnold, and the day after he arrived at Cambridge he laid his ideas before the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, and asked to be allowed to attack the forts guarding this waterway. His request was granted. He was given the rank of colonel, and authority to raise a company of four hundred men for the purpose.

 

Arnold set out at once, but he soon found that he was not first in the field. For the people of Connecticut, too, had felt the value of this waterway and Ethan Allen with a hundred and fifty volunteers who went by the name of Green Mountain Boys had set out for the same purpose. These Green Mountain Boys took their name from the district of Vermont which means Green Mountain. That district, under the name of New Hampshire Grants, had been claimed by New York colony. But the Green Mountain Boys had resisted the claim, and by force of arms proved their right to be considered a separate colony. Thus having settled their own little revolution they were now ready to take part in the great one.

Ethan Allen, 1738-89

At Castleton, Vermont, Arnold met Ethan Allen and his men, and claimed the leadership of the expedition. But the Green Mountain Boys scouted the idea. They would fight under their own leader or not fight at all, they said, and as Arnold had gathered very few of his four hundred men he had to give way. So instead of leading the expedition he joined it as a volunteer.

 

This matter settled the little company marched on to Lake Champlain, and in the middle of the night they arrived at the southern end, opposite Fort Ticonderoga. Here the lake is hardly more than a quarter of a mile wide and the men began at once to row across. But they had only two or three boats and when day began to dawn only about eighty men had got over. With these Allen decided to attack, for he feared if he waited till daylight that the garrison would be awake and would no doubt resist stubbornly. So placing himself at the head of his men with Arnold beside him, he marched quickly and silently up the hill to the gateway of the fort. When the astonished sentinel saw this body of men creeping out of the morning dusk he fired at their leader. But his gun missed fire and he fled into the fort.

Ticonderoga attacked, 10th May

After him dashed the colonists uttering a loud, blood-curdling, Indian yell as they reached the parade ground within the fort. The garrison which consisted of about forty men was completely taken by surprise, and yielded with little resistance. Then Allen marched to the door of the commandment's quarters, and striking three blows upon it with his sword hilt, commanded him to come forth and surrender.

 

As Allen struck, the door was flung open, and half dressed and half awake the commandment appeared.

 

"In whose name," he demanded, "do you order me to surrender?"

 

"In the name of the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress," thundered Allen.

 

Really the Continental Congress had nothing to do with the matter. The commandment could not know that. But he had only to look about him to see that the fort was already in the hands of the enemy. So seeing no help for it he yielded; and all his great stores of cannon and ammunition were sent to supply the needs of the New England army.

 

Two days after this Crown Point, further down the lake, was also seized, for it was only guarded by twelve men. Here a small ship was found and Arnold's chance to lead came. For he was a sailor, and going on board with his own men he made a dash for St. John's at the northern end of the lake. When he was about thirty miles from the fort the wind dropped, and his ship lay rocking idly on the water. Arnold, however, was not the man to be easily beaten. He had boats enough to carry thirty men, and with these he set off to row to the fort. All night the men bent to the oars, and at six o'clock in the morning they reached St. John's.

Crown Point taken

Once more the fort was easily taken. For here too, there were no more than twelve men. Arnold, however, was only just in time, for he learned from his prisoners that troops were expected from Canada. He felt therefore that St. John's was no safe place for him and his little band of thirty. So he seized a small ship which lay in the harbour, sank everything else in the shape of a boat, and made off. And when the Canadian troops arrived next day they found the fort deserted alike by friend and foe, and the boats which should have carried them on their way to Ticonderoga at the bottom of the lake.

St. John's taken

By these quick bold attacks the control of the great waterway was for a time at least in the hands of the colonists. It was, moreover, rendered useless to the British, for their boats being destroyed they had no means of transporting soldiers southwards until new boats could be built. This caused a long delay, a delay very useful to the colonists.

 

In the meantime Allen was appointed commandment of Ticonderoga, and Arnold, with a little soreness at his heart returned to Cambridge. He had been appointed leader of the expedition, but had been forced to join it as a volunteer under another leader. His knowledge and dash had crowned the expedition with success, but another received the rewards and praise.

 

When however the Continental Congress heard what had been done it was rather taken aback. It was not at all sure at first whether it was a case for rewards or reprimands, for it was still vainly hoping for peace. So it ordered that an exact list of all cannon and supplies which had been captured should be made, in order that they might be given back to the Mother Country, "when the restoration of the former harmony between Great Britain and these colonies shall render it prudent and consistent."

 

Meanwhile the new army grew daily larger. It was still almost entirely made up of New Englanders, but it was now called the Continental Army, and the Continental Congress appointed George Washington to be commander-in-chief.

George Washington, Commander-in-chief, 1775

Washington was now a tall, handsome man, little over forty. He was as modest as he was brave, and he accepted the great honour and heavy duties laid upon him with something of dread.

 

"Since the Congress desire it," he said, "I will enter upon this momentous duty, and exert every power I possess in their service. But I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in this room that I this day declare, with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honoured with."

 

Meantime things had not been standing still; while Congress had been choosing a commander-in-chief the army had been fighting. By this time, too, new troops had come out from England, and the British force was now ten thousand strong. Feeling sure that the Americans would not stand against such a force, Governor Gage issued a proclamation offering pardon to all who would lay down their arms, except Samuel Adams and John Hancock. These two, he said, were too bad to be forgiven. Instead they prepared to take possession of the hills commanding Boston.

 

It was at Bunker Hill that the first real battle of the war was fought. For Lexington had after all been a mere skirmish, only of importance because it was the first in this long and deadly war. The forts on Lake Champlain had been taken without the shedding of blood.

Bunker Hill, 17th June, 1775

The battle is called Bunker Hill although it was really fought on Breed's Hill which is quite close. The mistake of the name was made because the Americans had been sent to take possession of Bunker Hill, but instead took possession of Breed's Hill.

 

It was during the night that the Americans took up their position on the hill. And when day dawned and the British saw them there, they determined to dislodge them, and the battle began.

 

Up the hill the British charged with splendid courage, only to be met and driven back by a withering fire from the American rifles. Their front files were mowed down, and the hillside was strewn with dead and dying. But again and yet again they came on. At the third charge they reached the top, for the Americans had used up all their ammunition, and could fire no longer. Still they would not yield, and there was a fierce hand to hand fight before the Americans were driven from their trenches and the hill was in possession of the British.

 

For the British, it was a hard won victory, for they lost nearly three times as many men as the Americans, among them some gallant officers. As to the Americans in spite of their defeat they rejoiced; for they knew now what they could do. They knew they could stand up to the famous British regulars.

 

And now as Washington rode towards Charleston to take command of the army, news of this battle was brought to him.

 

"Did our men fight?" asked Washington. And when he was told how well, his grave face lighted up.

 

"Then the liberties of the country are safe," he cried.

 

So with hope in his heart Washington rode on, and at length after a journey of eleven days reached Cambridge, the headquarters of the army.

 

The next day, the 3rd of July, the whole army was drawn up upon the plain. And mounted on a splendid white horse Washington rode to the head of it. Under a great elm tree he wheeled his horse, and drawing his sword solemnly took command of the army of the United Colonies. And as the blade glittered in the sunshine, a great shout went up from the soldiers. They were New Englanders, for the most part, but they welcomed their Virginian commander whole heartedly. For were they not all Americans? Were they not all ready to stand shoulder to shoulder for the one great cause?

Washington takes command of the army

But the army of which Washington had taken command was, perhaps, the rawest, worst equipped army which ever marched into the field.

 

The men had neither uniforms, tents, stores nor ammunition, many of them had no arms. There was no organisation, and little discipline. Even the exact numbers composing this army were not known. They were, in fact, as one of Washington's own officers said, "only a gathering of brave, enthusiastic, undisciplined country lads."

 

But out of this crowd of brave enthusiastic men, Washington set himself to make an army fit to do great deeds. So he worked, and rode, and wrote, unceasingly and unwearyingly. For he had not only to deal with the army but with Congress also. He had to awaken them to the fact that the country had to do great deeds, and that to do them well money, and a great deal of money, was needed.

The army and Congress

Meanwhile George III also was making great preparations. More soldiers he saw were needed to subdue these rebel farmers. And as it was difficult to persuade Britons to go to fight their brothers he hired a lot of Germans, and sent them out to fight the Americans. Nothing hurt the Americans more than this; more than anything else this act made them long to be independent. After this there was no more talk of making friends.

 


CHAPTER 54
THE WAR IN CANADA

AFTER Bunker Hill there was a pause in the fighting round Boston which gave Washington time to get his raw recruits in hand a little. Then during the summer news came that Sir Guy Carleton, the Governor of Canada, was making plans to retake Ticonderoga, and the colonists determined to invade Canada. General Philip Schuyler was given command of the expedition, and with two thousand men he set out for St. John's, which Arnold had taken, but had been unable to hold, earlier in the year.

Philip Schuyler, 1733-1804

This time the colonists found St. John's better guarded, and only at the end of a two months' siege did it yield. By this time Schuyler had become ill, and the command was given to General Richard Montgomery who crossed the St. Lawrence, and entered Montreal in triumph.

 

Almost at the same time Benedict Arnold set out with twelve hundred men to attack Quebec. He marched through the forest of Maine, then an almost unknown country and uninhabited save by Indians. It was a tremendous march, and one that needed all the grit and endurance of brave, determined men. They climbed hills, struggled through swamps, paddled across lakes and down unknown streams. Sometimes they waded up to their knees in icy waters pushing their canoes before them against the rapid current, or again they carried them over long portages, shouldering their way through forest so dense that they could scarcely advance a mile an hour. At night soaked with rain and sleet they slept upon the snowy ground. Their food gave out, and the pangs of hunger were added to their other miseries. Many died by the way; others, losing heart, turned back. But sick and giddy, starving and exhausted the rest stumbled onward, and at length little more than five hundred ragged half armed, more than half famished men, reached the shores of the St. Lawrence.

Arnold sets out for Quebec, Sept., 1775;

They were a sorry little company with which to invade a vast province. But their courage was superb, their hope sublime, and without delay they set out to take the great fortress which had withstood so many sieges, and had only fallen at last before the genius and daring of Wolfe.

 

Across the St. Lawrence this little company of intrepid colonists paddled, up the path where Wolfe had led his men they climbed, and stood at length where they had stood upon the heights of Abraham. They had no cannon, and half their muskets were useless. Yet Arnold at the head of his spectral little company boldly summoned the town to surrender.

 

The town did not surrender, the Governor refused to come out and fight. So seeing the uselessness of his summons Arnold marched away about twenty miles, and encamped to wait for Montgomery's arrival from Montreal. He soon arrived. But even with his men the colonists only numbered about eight hundred, far too small a company with which to besiege a fortress such as Quebec. Still they made an attempt at a siege, but finding that useless they resolved to take the place by storm.

 

It was early on the morning of the 1st of January, 1776, that they made the attempt in the teeth of a blinding snow storm. Arnold led the assault on one side of the town, Montgomery on the other. With tremendous dash and bravery the colonists carried the first barricades, and forced their way into the town. But almost at the outset Montgomery was killed. A little later Arnold was sorely wounded, and had to be carried back to the camp. Both leaders gone, the heart went out of the men, and they retreated, leaving many prisoners in the hands of the British.

he attacks Quebec;

The great assault had failed, but sick and wounded though he was, Arnold did not lose heart. He still kept up a show of besieging Quebec. "I have no thought of leaving this proud town," he said, "until I first enter it in triumph. I am in the way of my duty and know no fear." But the only chance of taking Quebec was to take it in the winter, while the St. Lawrence was closed with ice, so that the British ships could not reach it with reinforcements and supplies. Arnold therefore sent to Washington begging for five thousand troops. Such a number it was impossible for Washington to spare from his little army, and only a few reinforcements were sent, most of whom reached Arnold utterly exhausted with their long tramp through the pathless wilderness. Smallpox, too, became rife in the camp, so although there at length two thousand men before Quebec not more than a thousand were fit for duty. Yet what mere men could do they did.

 

But winter passed and Quebec remained untaken. Then on April morning Captain Charles Douglas arrived off the mouth of the St. Lawrence with a fleet of British ships. He found the river still packed with ice. But Quebec he knew must be in sore straits. It was no time for caution, so by way of experiment he ran his flag ship full speed against a mass of ice. The ice was shivered to pieces, and the good ship sailed unharmed. For nine days the gallant vessel ploughed on through fields of ice, but suffering no serious damage, her stout-hearted captain having no thought but to reach and relieve the beleaguered city.

relief ships arrive

His boldness was rewarded. Other vessels followed in his track, and at their coming the colonists gave up their attempt to conquer Canada, and marched away.

 

The attack on Canada had been an utter failure, but Arnold still clung to the hope of commanding the great waterway from the St. Lawrence to the Hudson. At Crown Point he began to build ships, and by the end of September had a little fleet of nine. The British also busied themselves building ships, and on the 11th of October a fight between the two fleets took place on Lake Champlain, between the island of Valcour and the mainland.

battle of Valcour Island

The British ships were far larger and more numerous than the American, indeed in comparison with the British the American boats were mere cockle shells, but the colonists put up a gallant fight which lasted five hours, and the sun went down leaving them sadly shattered but still unbeaten.

 

The British commander, however, felt sure of finishing them off in the morning. So he anchored his ships in a line across the southern end of the channel, between the island and the mainland, thus cutting off all retreat. But Arnold knew his danger, and determined to make a dash for freedom. The night was dark and foggy. The British were so sure of their prey that they kept no watch. So while they slept one by one the American ships crept silently through their lines and sped away.

 

When day dawned the British with wrath and disgust saw an empty lake where they had expected to see a stricken foe. They immediately gave chase and the following day they again came up with the little American fleet, for many of the ships were so crippled that they could move but slowly. Again a five hours' battle was fought. One ship, the Washington, struck her flag. But Arnold in his little Congress fought doggedly on. Then seeing he could resist no more he drove the Congress and four other small boats ashore in a creek too narrow for any but the smallest one of the British ships to follow. Here he set them on fire, and bade his men leap for the shore, he himself being the last to leave the burning decks. On land he waited until he was certain that the ships were safe from capture, and that they would go down with their flags flying. Then he marched off with his men, and brought them all safely to Ticonderoga.

 

The attack on Canada had been an utter failure, the little American fleet had been shattered, save for Ticonderoga the coveted waterway was in the hands of the British. Had the British commander known it too he might have attacked Ticonderoga then and there, and taken it with ease. But Arnold was there, and Arnold had made such a name for himself by his dash and courage that Carleton did not dare attack the fort. And contenting himself for the moment with having gained control of Lake Champlain he turned back to Canada.

Carleton goes back to Canada

Arnold had failed to take Quebec, and he has lost his little fleet. But against his failure to take Quebec his countrymen put his wonderful march through pathless forest; against the loss of the fleet the fact that but for Arnold it would never have been built at all. So the people cheered him as a hero, and Washington looked upon him as one of his best officers.

 

But Arnold's temper was hot if his head was cool, he was ambitious and somewhat arrogant. And while he had been fighting so bravely he had quarreled with his brother officers, and made enemies of many. They declared that he fought not for his country's honour but for the glory of Benedict Arnold. So it came about that he did not receive the reward of promotion which he felt himself entitled to. When Congress appointed several new Major Generals he was passed over, and once again, as after the taking of Ticonderoga, bitterness filled his heart.

 


CHAPTER 55
THE BIRTH OF A GREAT NATION

WHILE these things were happening in the north the British had been forced to march away from Boston.

 

At first Washington could do little but keep his army before the town, for he had no siege guns with which to bombard it. Nor had he any desire to destroy the town. "Burn it," said some, "if that is the only way of driving out the British." Even John Hancock to whom a great part of Boston belonged advised this. "Burn Boston," he said," and make John Hancock a beggar, if the public good requires it." But Washington did not attempt to burn it.

 

After the taking of Ticonderoga and Crown Point however he got guns. For many of the cannon taken at these forts were put on sledges and dragged over the snow to Boston. It was Colonel Henry Knox who carried out this feat. He was a stout young man with a lovely smile and jolly fat laugh, who greatly enjoyed a joke. He had been a bookseller before the war turned him into a soldier. And now as he felled trees, and made sledges, and encouraged his men over the long rough way he hugely enjoyed the joke of bringing British guns to bombard the British out of Boston.

Henry Knox, 1750-1806

When Washington got these guns he quietly one night took possession of Dorchester Heights, which commanded both Boston town and harbour. So quick had been his action that it seemed to General Howe, the British commander, as if the fortifications on Dorchester Heights had been the work of magic. But magic or no magic they were, he saw, a real and formidable danger. With siege guns frowning above both town and harbour it was no longer possible to hold Boston. So hastily embarking his troops General Howe sailed away to Halifax in Nova Scotia, and Boston was left in peace for the rest of the war.

 

By this time there had been fighting in the south as well as in New England. For King George had taken it into his stubborn head that it would be a good plan to attack the southern colonies in spite of the fact that the war in the north was already more than he could manage. Sir Peter Parker, therefore, was sent out from England with a fleet of about fifty ships, and Lord Cornwallis with two thousand men, to attack Charleston in South Carolina. Howe was also ordered to send some soldiers southward, and although he could ill spare them from Boston he sent General Sir Henry Clinton with a small detachment.

Cornwallis arrives

According to arrangement the troops from Boston and England were to attack together with the loyalists of the south and the friendly Indians. But everything was bungled. The fleet, the land force, the loyalists and the Indians all seemed to be pulling different ways, and attacked at different times. The assault on Charleston was a miserable failure, and to the delight of the colonists the whole British force sailed away to join Howe in the north, and for more than two years there was no fighting in the southern colonies.

 

The commander of the colonists in Charleston was General Charles Lee. He was not really an American at all, but an Englishman, a soldier of fortune and adventure. He had wandered about the world, fighting in many lands, and had been in Braddock's army when it was defeated. He never became an American at heart like some other Englishmen who fought on their side. He cared little for them, he cared as little for the cause in which they were fighting, merely seeing in it a chance of making himself famous, and he had a very poor opinion of their fighting qualities. He was a tall, spare man with a hollow-cheeked, ugly face, and a disagreeable manner. He had a great opinion of himself, and boasted to such purpose that the Americans believed him to be a military genius. And in this first tussle with the British in the south he did so well that their belief in him seemed justified. He seemed to the people a hero and a genius rolled in one. In all the war after he did nothing to uphold the fame he gained at Charleston.

Charles Lee, 1731-82

South as well as north had now had a taste of war. South as well as north had seen the British sail away, foiled. Every royal governor had by this time been driven from his post, and for six months and more the colonies had practically ruled themselves. What then, said many, was the use of talking any more about allegiance to the mother country? It was time, they said, to announce to all the world that the colonies of America were a free and independent nation.

 

There was much grave discussion in Congress and throughout the country. Some patriots, even those who longed most ardently to see America a free country, thought that it was too soon to make the claim. Among those was Patrick Henry who had already ranged himself so passionately on the side of freedom. "The struggle is only beginning," he said, "and we are not yet united. Wait till we are united. Wait until we have won our freedom, then let us proclaim it."

 

But by degrees all those who hesitated were won over, and on the 4th of July, 1776, the colonies declared themselves to be free.

Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1776

Many meetings were held in what has since been called Independence Hall at Philadelphia. Much discussion there was, but at length the solemn declaration was drawn up. "We, the Representatives of the United States of America," so it ran, "in General Congress assembled, appealing to the supreme judge of the world for the rectitude of our intention, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent States." These are but a few words of the long, gravely worded declaration which was drawn up by Thomas Jefferson, and which is familiar to every American to this day.

 

John Hancock was President of Congress at this time, and he was the first to sign the declaration. Large, and clear, and all across the page the signature runs, showing, as it were, the calm mind and firm judgment which guided the hand that wrote. It was not until a few days later that it was signed by the other members.

 

It was on the 4th of July that Congress agreed to the declaration, and so that day has ever since been kept as a national holiday. It was the birthday of the United States as a Nation. But it was not until a few days later that the Declaration was read to the people of Philadelphia from Independence Hall. It was greeted with cheers and shouts of delight. The old bell upon the tower pealed joyfully, and swift riders mounted and rode to bear the news in all directions. The next day it was read at the head of each brigade of the army, and was greeted with loud cheers.

Birthday of the United States

This Declaration of Independence was a bold deed, it might almost seem a rash one. For the British army was still in the land, and the Americans by no means always victorious. But the very fact of the boldness of the deed made them feel that they must be brave and steadfast, and that having claimed freedom they must win it. The Declaration drew the colonies together as nothing else had done, and even those who had thought the deed too rash came to see that it had been wise.

 


CHAPTER 56
THE DARKEST HOUR–TRENTON AND PRINCETON

IN many places the news of the Declaration of Independence and the news of the victory at Charleston came at the same time, and gave a double cause for rejoicing. It was the last good news which was to come for many a long day. Indeed for months misfortune followed misfortune, until it almost seemed as if the Declaration of Independence had been the rash and useless action some had held it to be.

 

By the end of June General Howe sailed southward from Halifax, and landed on Staten Island southwest of New York, to await the arrival from England of his brother, Admiral Howe. On July 12th, just eight days after the declaration of independence, Admiral Howe arrived with strong reinforcements of ships and men. But before he began to fight he tried to come to terms with the rebel colonies, and for a second time free pardon was offered to all who would submit and own British rule once more. But the Americans were in no mood to submit, and had no wish for "pardon."

Admiral Howe arrives

"No doubt," said one, "we all need pardon from heaven, but the American who needs pardon from his Britannic Majesty is yet to be found."

 

So instead of submitting they made ready to fight. The British also prepared to fight, and the force of the next blow fell upon New York. There were now more than thirty thousand British troops gathered here. It was the largest army which had ever been sent out of England, and King George had never a doubt that this great force, backed by his unconquerable navy, would soon bring the ten or twenty thousand ragged, half starved rebels to their knees.

 

He little knew the men or the man with whom he had to deal. The army was indeed ragged and undisciplined. But as the great Napoleon said later, "In war the man is everything." And Washington was soon to show the world what could be done by brave undisciplined men whose hearts were behind their muskets.

 

As soon as Washington had gained possession of Boston he left an old general with a small force to guard it, and transported the main body of his army to New York, feeling sure that the next attack would be made there.

 

Brooklyn Heights on Long Island commanded New York, very much in the same way as Bunker Hill and Dorchester Heights commanded Boston, and Washington knew he must keep possession of those heights, if New York was not to be given up without a blow being struck. He did not want to give it up without striking a blow, for he feared the effect on the spirits of the country. So he send General Putnam with about eight thousand men to occupy the Heights.

 

In doing this Washington placed his army in a very dangerous position, for the East River was large enough to allow British war ships to sail up it and thus cut his army in two. But he could do nothing else, for if the enemy got possession of the Heights the town was at his mercy.

 

Howe was not slow to see this, and, having carefully and secretly made his plans, he attacked the forces on Brooklyn Heights in the early morning of August 27th in front, and flank, and rear, all at once.

Battle of Brooklyn Heights

One division of the Americans was nearly wiped out, many being killed and the rest being taken prisoner. A little band of Marylanders put up a fine but hopeless fight for nearly four hours, the remnant of them at length taking refuge in the fortifications. To make the defeat a disaster for the colonists Howe had but to storm these fortifications. But he refused to do so. Enough had been done for one day, he said. Bunker Hill had taught the British to beware of storming heights. A siege would be less costly, thought Howe.

 

Within the fortifications the colonists were in a miserable plight. They had little shelter, the rain fell in torrents, and a cold northeast wind chilled them to the bone. They had nothing to eat except dry biscuit and raw pork. They were hungry and weary, wet and cold. Yet one of their miseries was a blessing. For as long as the northeast wind blew Howe could not bring his ships up the East River and cut communications between Long Island and New York. For in those days, it must be remembered, there were no steamers, and sailing vessels had to depend on wind and tide.

 

Washington, however, knew his danger. He knew that he must withdraw from Long Island. So secretly he gave orders that everything which could be found in the shape of a boat was to be brought to Brooklyn Ferry. They were soon gathered, and at eight o'clock in the evening, two days after the battle of Long Island, quickly and quietly the army was ferried across the wide river to the New York side. All night the rowers laboured, but the work was by no means finished when day dawned. The weather, however, still helped the colonists, for a thick fog settled over the river and hid what was going on from the British. Wounded, prisoners, cannon, stores, horses, were all ferried over, and when later in the day the British marched into the deserted camp they found not so much as a crust of bread.

Washington abandons Brooklyn Heights, 29th Aug.;

It was about six in the morning when the last boat put off, and in it was Washington, the last man to leave. For forty hours he had hardly been off his horse, and had never for a minute lain down to rest. He was unwearyingly watchful, and left nothing to chance, and this retreat is looked upon as one of the most masterly in all military history.

 

Having abandoned Brooklyn Washington knew that he could not hope to hold New York against an attack. But for a fortnight neither Admiral nor General Howe made any attack. Instead they talked once more of peace. It almost seemed as if Lord Howe were on the side of the Americans, as indeed he had always said he was, until he was ordered out to fight against them. "He is either a very slow officer, or else he is our very good friend," said one of them.

 

The fortnight which he now wasted gave Washington time to decide what it was best to do, and when at last the British began the attack on New York nearly all the stores and cannon had already been removed to Harlem Heights, about ten miles away at the north of Manhattan Island. All the troops, too, had gone except about four thousand under General Putnam, who stayed to keep order, and look after the removal of the last of the stores. When the attack came these were very nearly caught. For the regiment who ought to have guarded the landing place, and have kept the enemy from advancing until Putnam could retire, ran away as soon as they saw the red coats.

he removes to Harlem

New York attacked

In vain their officers tried to rally them; panic had seized them, and they fled like frightened sheep. In the confusion Washington rode up. He was a man of fiery temper, and now when he saw his men show such a lack of courage in the face of the enemy he lost all control. Dashing his hat upon the ground, and, drawing his sword, he bade them cease their cowardly retreat. But even Washington could not rally the fleeing men. Then his wrath and despair knew no bounds, and spurring his horse, he rode alone towards the enemy. Death, he felt, was better than such shame. But one of his officers, dashing after him, seized his bridle and turned him back to safety.

 

Meanwhile Putnam was making frantic efforts to gather his men and march them off to Harlem Heights. It was a day of violent heat, and as the men struggled on, laden with their baggage, their breath came short, and the perspiration trickled down their faces. Every moment they expected to be attacked in the rear.

 

But the attack did not come. For as Howe and his officers were passing the pleasant country house of Mrs. Robert Murray a servant came out to ask them to lunch. It was a tempting invitation on a hot day,–too tempting to be refused. So a halt was called, and while Howe and his officers enjoyed a pleasant meal, and listened to the talk of a clever, handsome lady, Putnam marched his panting men to safety.

A woman's strategy

Washington was greatly cast down at what he called the "disgraceful and dastardly" conduct of some of his troops that day. He knew that an attack on Harlem Heights must come, and come soon. But what would be the result? Would his men run away, or would they fight? "Experience, to my extreme affliction," he wrote sadly, "has convinced me that this is rather to be wished for than expected. However, I trust there are many who will act like men, and show themselves worthy of the blessings of freedom."

 

Washington had no real cause for fear. Next day the test came, and the Americans wiped out the memory of the day before. In wave after wave the British attacked, but again and again the colonists met them, and at last drove them to their trenches; and there was joy in the patriot camp.

Battle of Harlem Heights

Howe still pursued the war very slowly. After the battle of Harlem Heights he left Washington alone for nearly a month, during which time the colonists fortified their camp strongly. But the commander-in-chief soon became convinced that the place was little better than a trap, in which Howe might surround him, and force him to surrender with all his army. So he retreated northward to White Plains, and the British settled down in New York, which they held till the end of the war.

White Plains, 28th Feb., 1776

And now misfortunes fell thick and fast upon the patriots. They still held Fort Washington on Manhattan Island, and Fort Lee on the opposite side of the Hudson, the garrisons of which were under the command of General Greene. Washington now advised him to abandon the forts, but did not give him absolute orders to do so. It is probable that he would have taken his commander's advice had not Congress interfered and sent orders that Fort Washington was not to be given up, except as a last necessity. Greene, believing that it was possible to hold it, tried to obey Congress. But on the 16th of November, after a fierce fight against tremendous odds, the fort was surrounded, and all the defenders to the number of about three thousand were taken prisoner.

Fort Washington taken

The loss was a bitter blow to Washington, for the men taken prisoners were some of his best soldiers. Four days later Fort Lee was also taken, and although the garrison escaped they left behind them large stores of food, ammunition, baggage of all sorts, as well as cannon, which they could ill spare.

Fort Lee taken

Washington now resolved on a retreat towards Philadelphia, and gloom settled on the ragged little army of patriots. They were weary of retreats and defeats, and felt that their cause was already lost. Winter was fast coming on and many shouldered their arms and marched homeward. And so the once buoyant enthusiastic army melted away to a hungry and dispirited troop of little more than four thousand.

Retreat through New Jersey begins

General Lee had at this time but lately returned from his triumphs in South Carolina, and he was more boastful and arrogant than ever. After Washington he was second in command, but he had no doubt in his own mind that he ought to be first. Now he was not slow to let others know what he thought. And while Washington, noble and upright gentleman as he was, trusted Lee as a friend, and believed in him as a soldier, Lee schemed to supplant him.

 

Washington had left Lee at North Castle with seven thousand men. Now he sent him orders to join him at once, so that if he should have to fight a battle he could have at least some sort of army to fight with. But Lee pretended to misunderstand. He made excuses for delay, he argued, and lied, and stayed where he was. Perhaps he thought that it would be no bad thing if Washington should be defeated and captured. Then he would be commander-in-chief.

 

But it was Lee who was captured, not Washington. He had in a leisurely fashion at last begun to move, and on the march he spent a night at a wayside inn. The British, hearing of his whereabouts, surrounded the inn and took him prisoner. For more than a year he remained in their hands, a very comfortable captive, and his army, under General John Sullivan, marched to join Washington, who was still retreating southward through New Jersey before the overwhelming force of the British.

 

It was weary work retreating. But with masterly generalship, and untiring watchfulness, Washington avoided a battle, and slipped through the toils. As the pursued and pursuers neared Philadelphia something like panic laid hold of the city. All day long the rumble of wagons might be heard carrying women and children to places of safety. Congress was hurriedly removed to Baltimore; but hundreds of men seized their rifles and marched to join the army to fight for their country in its darkest hour.

 

But already the worst was over. Washington's army was now well reinforced. He had the recruits from Philadelphia, he had Lee's army, and he also had two thousand men sent him by Schuyler from the north. So he resolved to make a bold bid for fortune. He resolved to do or die. He gave as the password, "Victory or death," and in the dark of Christmas night, 1776, he and his men crossed the Delaware River above the town of Trenton, where the British lay, together with a large company of the Hessian troops who had been hired to fight the Americans. The river was full of floating ice, which made the crossing dangerous and slow. But through the darkness the men toiled on, fending off the ice blocks as best they could as they steered their boats through the drifting mass. At length, after ten hours' labour, they reached the other side without the loss of one man.

The tide turns

Trenton

It was four o'clock when the troops started off on their seven-mile march to Trenton over the snowy ground, the icy wind driving the sleet and snow in their faces. But by eight o'clock they had reached Trenton. The British were utterly taken by surprise, and almost at once the Hessians surrendered.

 

Having sent his prisoners, to the number of nearly a thousand, to the other side of the river, Washington took possession of the town. But he was not long allowed to remain there. For the British commander, Lord Cornwallis, marched to dislodge him with an army of eight thousand men.

 

Washington let him come, and on the 2nd of January, Cornwallis encamped before Trenton, determined next morning to give battle. He was sure of victory, and in great spirits. "At last we have run down the old fox, and we will bag him in the morning," he said.

 

But Washington was not to be so easily caught. The two armies were so near that the watchfires of the one could be plainly seen by the other. All night the American watchfires blazed, all night men could be heard working at the fortifications. But that was only a blind. In the darkness Washington and his army quietly slipped away to Princeton. There he fell upon the British reinforcements, who were marching to join Cornwallis at Trenton, and put them to flight.

Princeton

When day came Cornwallis was astonished to find the American camp empty. And when he heard the firing in the distance he knew what had happened, and hastily retreated to New York, while Washington drew off his victorious but weary men to Morristown in New Jersey. Here for the next few months they remained, resting after their labours, unmolested by the foe.

 


CHAPTER 57
BURGOYNE'S CAMPAIGN–BENNINGTON AND ORISKANY

AS many of the Americans had foreseen, the British had from the first formed the design of cutting the colonies in two by taking possession of the great waterway from the Hudson to the St. Lawrence. Their plans had been long delayed, but in the spring of 1777, they determined to carry them out.

 

General Burgoyne was now in command of the Canadian troops. He was a genial man of fashion, a writer of plays, and a great gambler. But he was a brave soldier, too, and his men adored him. For in days when it was common to treat the rank and file as little better than dogs, Burgoyne treated them like reasoning beings.

Burgoyne;

It was arranged that Burgoyne should move southward with his main force, by way of Lake Champlain to Ticonderoga, and that a smaller force should go by Lake Ontario and seize Fort Stanwix. Howe, at the same time, was to move up the Hudson until the armies should meet at Albany, having, it was to be supposed, swept the whole country free of "rebels."

plan of campaign

It was a very fine plan, but it was not carried out as intended–because, although Burgoyne received his orders, Howe did not receive his. For the British minister, who ought to have sent them, went off on a holiday and forgot all about the matter for several weeks. When at length he remembered, and sent the order, Howe was far away from the Hudson, at his old game of trying to run Washington to earth.

 

Burgoyne, however, knew nothing of this and cheerfully set out from Canada with a well drilled, well equipped, and well fed army of about eight thousand men, and on the 1st of July reached Ticonderoga.

 

Since this fort had been taken by Ethan Allen it had been greatly strengthened, and the Americans believed that now it could withstand any assault, however vigorous. But while strengthening the fort itself they failed to fortify a little hill near. They had already much experience of the danger of heights commanding a town or fort. But they thought that this hill was too steep and rugged to be a danger. No cannon, it was said, could ever be dragged up to the top of it. When the British came, however, they thought otherwise. They at once saw the value of the hill, and determined that guns should be dragged up it. For forty-eight hours they worked furiously, and when day dawned on the 5th of July both men and guns were on the summit.

 

The American commander, St. Clair, saw them with despair in his heart. Every corner of the fort was commanded by the guns, and the garrison utterly at the mercy of the enemy. To remain, he knew, would mean the loss of his whole force. So he resolved to abandon the fort, and as soon as the sun set the work was begun. Guns and stores were laden on boats, cannon too heavy to be removed were spiked, and nearly all the garrison had left when a fire broke out in the officers' quarters.

 

The light of the flames showed the British sentinels what was going on. The alarm was given. The British made a dash for the fort, and as day dawned the Union Jack was once more planted upon its ramparts.

Fort Ticonderoga retaken by the British, 6th July, 1777

Then a hot pursuit began. At the village of Hubbardton the Americans made a valiant stand, but they were worsted and fled, and five days later St. Clair brought the remnant of his force into Fort Edward, where the main army under Schuyler was stationed.

 

Burgoyne had begun well, and when King George heard the news he clapped his hands with joy. "I have beat them," he cried, dashing into the queen's rooms, "I have beat all the Americans." But over America the loss cast a gloom. St. Clair and Schuyler were severely blamed and court-martialled. But both were honourably acquitted. Nothing could have saved the garrison from being utterly wiped out; and when men came to judge the matter calmly they admitted that it was better to lose the fort than to lose the fort and garrison also. Meanwhile Burgoyne was chasing hot-foot after the fugitives. As he approached, Schuyler abandoned Fort Edward, for it was a mere shell and impossible of defence for a single day. But as he fell back, he broke up the roads behind him. Trees were felled and laid across them every two or three yards, bridges were burned, fords destroyed. So thoroughly was the work done that Burgoyne, in pursuit, could only march about a mile a day, and had to build no fewer than forty bridges in a distance of little more than twenty-four miles.

Fort Edward abandoned

Besides destroying the roads Schuyler also made the country a desert. He carried away and destroyed the crops, drove off the sheep and cattle, sweeping the country so bare that the hostile army could find no food, and were forced to depend altogether on their own supplies. Before long these gave out, and the British began to suffer from hunger.

 

Burgoyne now learned that at the village of Bennington the patriots had a depot containing large stores of food and ammunition. These he determined to have for his own army, and he sent a force of six hundred men, mostly Germans and Indians, to make the capture.

 

The old trapper, Captain John Stark, was in command of the American force at Bennington. He had fought in many battles from Bunker Hill to Princeton. But, finding himself passed over, when others were promoted, he had gone off homeward in dudgeon. But now in his country's hour of need he forgot his grievances and once more girded on his sword. He led his men with splendid dash and the enemy was utterly defeated, and Stark was made a brigadier general as a reward. It was a disaster for Burgoyne, and on the heels of this defeat came the news that the second force marching by way of Lake Ontario had also met with disaster at Oriskany near Fort Stanwix.

Battle of Bennington, 16th Aug.

This force had surrounded Fort Stanwix, and General Nicholas Herkimer had marched to its relief.

 

General Herkimer was an old German of over sixty, and although he had lived all his life in America, and loved the country with his whole heart, he spoke English very badly, and wrote it worse. It must have sadly puzzled his officers sometimes to make out his dispatches and orders. One is said to have run as follows: "Ser, yu will orter yur bodellyen to merchs Immetdielich do ford edward weid for das broflesen and amenieschen fied for en betell. Dis yu will desben at yur berrel." This being translated means:" Sir, you will order your battalion to march immediately to Fort Edward with four days' provisions, and ammunition for one battle. This you will disobey at your peril."

Nicholas Herkimer, 1715?-77

As this doughty old German marched to the relief of Fort Stanwix he fell into an ambush prepared for him by the famous Indian chief, Joseph Brant, who, with his braves, was fighting on the side of the British. A terrible hand to hand struggle followed. The air was filled with wild yells and still wilder curses as the two foes grappled. It was war in all its savagery. Tomahawks and knives were used as freely as rifles. Stabbing, shooting, wrestling, the men fought each other more like wildcats than human beings. A fearful thunderstorm burst forth, too. Rain fell in torrents, a raging wind tore through the tree tops, thunder and lightning added their terrors to the scene.

Battle of Oriskany, Aug. 6th;

For five hours the savage warfare lasted. Almost at the beginning a ball shattered Herkimer's leg and killed his horse. But the stout old warrior refused to leave the field. He bade his men take the saddle from his horse and place it at the root of a great beech tree. Sitting there he directed the battle, shouting his orders in his quaint guttural English, and calmly smoking a pipe the while. They were the last orders he was to give. For, ten days after the battle he died from his wound, serenely smoking his pipe, and reading his old German Bible almost to the last.

 

Soon the noise of the battle was heard at Fort Stanwix, and the garrison, led by Colonel Marinus Willett, sallied forth to the aid of their comrades, put a detachment of the enemy to flight, and captured their stores of food and ammunition, together with five flags. And now for the first time the Stars and Stripes were unfurled.

 

When Washington had taken command of the army there had still been no real thought of separating from Britain. So for his flag he had used the British ensign with the Union Jack in the corner. But instead of a red ground he had used a ground of thirteen red and white stripes, on stripe for each colony. But when all hope of reconciliation was gone Congress decided that the Union Jack must be cut out of the flag altogether, and in its place a blue square was to be used with thirteen white stars in a circle, one star for each state, just as there was one stripe for each state.

The flag

People, however, were too busy doing other things and had no time to see to the making of flags. So the first one was hoisted by Colonel Willett, after the battle of Oriskany. He had captured five standards. These, as victor, he hoisted on the fort. To make his triumph complete, however, he wanted an American flag to hoist over them. But he had none. So a soldier's wife gave her red petticoat, some one else supplied a white shirt, and out of that and an old blue jacket was made the first American flag to float upon the breeze.

 

This, of course, was only a rough and ready flag, and Betsy Ross, a seamstress, who lived in Arch Street, Philadelphia, had the honour of making the first real one. While in Philadelphia Washington and some members of council called upon Betsy to ask her to make the flag. Washington had brought a sketch with him, but Betsy suggested some alterations. So Washington drew another sketch, and there and then Betsy set to work, and very soon her flag also was floating on the breeze.

Betsy Ross


CHAPTER 58
BURGOYNE'S CAMPAIGN–BEMIS HEIGHTS AND SARATOGA

AFTER all the fierce fighting at Oriskany neither side could claim a victory. The British had received a check, but were by no means beaten. Fort Stanwix was still besieged, and unless relief came must soon fall into the hands of the enemy.

 

Colonel Gansewoort, the commandant of the fort, therefore now sent to Schuyler asking for help, and Benedict Arnold, who had but lately arrived, volunteering for the service, was soon on his way with twelve hundred men. Arnold was ready enough to fight, as he always was. But he knew that his force was much smaller than that of the British, and, after some thought, he fell upon a plan by which theirs could be made less.

Arnold sets out to relieve Fort Stanwix;

A spy had been caught within the American lines, and was condemned to death. He was an almost half-witted creature, with queer cunning ways, and the Indians looked upon him as a sort of Medicine Man, and feared him accordingly. Knowing this, Arnold thought that he might be useful to him, and promised to spare his life if he would go to the British camp and spread a report among their Indian allies that the Americans were coming down upon them in tremendous force.

his strategy

The man was glad enough to get a chance to escape being hanged, and his brother being held as hostage, he set out. He acted his part well. Panting and breathless, with his coat torn in many places by bullets, and a face twisted with fear, he dashed into the enemy camp. There he told his eager listeners that he had barely escaped with his life from the Americans (which was true enough) and that they were marching towards them in vast numbers, and showed his bullet-riddled coat as proof of his story.

 

"How many are they?" he was asked.

 

In reply the man spread his hands abroad, pointing to the leaves of the trees and shaking his head as if in awe.

 

The Indians were greatly disturbed, and began to hold a council. While they were still consulting, an Indian, friendly to the Americans, who was in the plot, arrived. He told the same story as the spy, pointing like him to the numberless trees of the forest when asked how many of the enemy were coming.

 

Then another and still another Indian arrived. They all told the same tale. A mysterious bird had come to warn them, they said, that the whole valley was filled with warriors.

 

At length the Indians could bear no more. Already many of their best warriors had been slain. They would no longer stay to be utterly wiped out, and they prepared to flee.

 

In vain the British commander implored them to stay. Bribes, threats, and promises were all alike useless. At last he offered them "fire water." For if only he could make them drunk, he thought, they might forget their fear. But even the much coveted "fire water" had no power to still their terrors. They refused to drink, and with clamour and noise they fled.

The Indians flee in terror

The panic spread to the rest of the army. Two battalions of white men followed in the wake of their redskin brothers, and the commander, deserted by the bulk of his army, was forced to join in the general retreat.

The whole army retreats

It was a humiliating and disorderly flight. The Indians, when they recovered from their terror, had lost every vestige of respect for their white brothers. Soon they became insolent, and amused themselves by playing on their fears. "They are coming! They are coming!" they would cry whenever the weary fugitives lay down to rest. Then they would laugh to see the white men leap up again, fling away their knapsacks and their rifles, so as to make the greater haste, and stumble onward.

 

At length the shameful retreat came to an end, and, hungry and ragged, a feeble remnant of the expedition reached the shores of Lake Ontario, and passed over into Canada.

 

Such was the news brought to Burgoyne soon after the defeat at Bennington. It made his dark outlook darker still. No help could ever come to him now from the north, and all his hopes were fixed on Howe's advancing host from the south. But no news of Howe's approach reached him. Day by day the American force round him was increasing. Day by day his own was growing weaker. At last in desperation he decided to risk a battle. For he saw that he must either soon cut his way through the hostile forces or perish miserably.

 

General Horatio Gates was now in command of the Americans instead of Schuyler. Gates was nothing of a soldier. Indeed it was said of him that all through the beginning of the war he never so much as heard the sound of a gun, and that when there was a battle to the fore he always had business elsewhere. Like Lee he was an Englishman by birth. And even as Lee had been jealous of Washington so Gates was jealous of Schuyler, and at last he succeeded in ousting him. He did so at a good time for himself, for all the hard work of this campaign was done, and Gates stepped in in time to reap the glory.

Gates, 1728-1806

Burgoyne thought little of Gates, and called him an old woman. So he was the more ready to give battle. But the Americans were now so thoroughly aroused that they would have fought well without a leader. Besides, Arnold was with them, and Arnold they would have followed anywhere.

 

The Americans were strongly entrenched on Bemis Heights, and on the day of battle Gates would have done nothing but sit still and let the enemy wear himself out in attacks. But this did not suit Arnold's fiery temper, and he begged hard to be allowed to charge the enemy. Gates grudgingly gave him leave, and with a small force he bore down upon the British. The fight was fierce, and finding his force too small Arnold sent to Gates asking for reinforcements. But Gates, although he had ten thousand troops standing idle, refused to send a man. So, with his always diminishing handful of troops, Arnold fought on till night fell.

Battle of Bemis Heights, 19th September

Again neither side could claim a victory. But Burgoyne had lost nearly six hundred men, and his position was not one whit the better. Gates took all the credit to himself, and when he sent his account of the battle to Congress he did not so much as mention Arnold's name. Out of this, and his refusal to send reinforcements, a furious quarrel arouse between the two men, and Gates told Arnold that he had no further use for his services and that he could go. Arnold, shaken with wrath, would have gone had not his brother officers with one voice begged him to stay. So he stayed, but he had no longer any command.

 

Like a caged and wounded lion Burgoyne now sought a way out of the trap in which he was. But turn which way he would there was no escape. He was hemmed in on all sides. So eighteen days after the battle of Bemis Heights he took the field again on the same ground. It was a desperate adventure, for what could six thousand worn and weary men do against twenty thousand already conscious of success?

Battle of Saratoga, 9th Oct.

The British fought with dogged courage. Chafing with impatience Arnold watched the battle from the heights. He saw how an attack might be made with advantage, how victory might be won. At length he could bear inaction no longer, and, leaping on to his horse, he dashed into the fray.

Arnold joins the battle;

"Go after that fellow and bring him back," shouted Gates; "he will be doing something rash."

 

The messenger sped after him. But Arnold was too quick, and the battle was well nigh won before Gates' order reached him. As Arnold came his men gave a ringing cheer, and for the rest of the day he and Daniel Morgan were the leaders of the battle, Gates never leaving his headquarters.

 

Where the bullets flew thickest, there Arnold was to be found. The madness of battle was upon him, and, like one possessed, he rode through flame and smoke, his clear voice raised above the hideous clamour, cheering and directing his men.

 

The fight was fierce and long, but as the day wore on there could be no more doubt about the end. The British were defeated. Yet so long as daylight lasted they fought on.

 

Just as the sun was setting Arnold and his men had routed a party of Germans, and a wounded German, lying on the ground, shot at Arnold, killing his horse and shattering his leg–the same leg which had been wounded at Quebec.

he is wounded

As Arnold fell, one of his men, with a cry of rage dashed at the German and would have killed him where he lay. But Arnold stopped him. "For God's sake, don't hurt him." he cried, "he's a fine fellow." So the man's life was spared.

 

Arnold's leg was so badly shattered that the doctors talked of cutting it off. Arnold, however, would not hear of it.

 

"If that is all you can do for me," he said, "put me on another horse and let me see the battle out."

 

But the battle was over, for night had put an end to the dreadful strife.

 

With this defeat Burgoyne's last hope vanished. To fight again would be merely to sacrifice his brave soldiers. He had only food in the camp for a week, and there was still no sign of help coming from the south. There was nothing left to him but to surrender.

 

So on October 17th he surrendered to General Gates, with all his cannon, ammunition, and great stores, and nearly six thousand men.

General Burgoyne surrenders

As his soldiers laid down their arms many of them wept bitterly. But there was no one there to see or deride their grief. For the Americans, having no wish to add to the sorrow of their brave foe, stayed within their lines. Then, as the disarmed soldiers marched away, Burgoyne stepped out of the ranks, and, drawing his sword, gave it to General Gates.

 

"The fortune of war has made me your prisoner," he said.

 

"It was through no fault of yours," replied Gates, with grave courtesy, as he handed back the sword.

 


CHAPTER 59
BRANDYWINE–GERMANTOWN–VALLEY FORGE

WASHINGTON spent the winter of 1776-7 at Morristown. In May he once more led his army out, and while the forces in the north, under Schuyler and then Gates, were defeating Burgoyne, he was holding his own against Howe's far more formidable army further south.

 

Howe had spent the winter at New York, which from the time of its capture to the end of the war, remained the British headquarters. In the spring he determined to capture Philadelphia, the "rebel capital," and began to march through New Jersey. But in every move he made he found himself checked by Washington. It was like a game of chess. Washington's army was only about half the size of Howe's, so he refused to be drawn into an open battle, but harried and harassed his foe at every turn, and at length drove Howe back to Staten Island.

 

Having failed to get to Philadelphia by land, Howe now decided to go by sea, and, sailing up Chesapeake Bay, he landed in Maryland in the end of August. But there again he found Washington waiting for him. And now, although his army was still much smaller than Howe's, Washington determined to risk a battle rather than give up Philadelphia without a blow.

 

With his usual care and genius Washington chose his position well, on the banks of the Brandywine, a little river which falls into the Delaware at Wilmington about twenty-six miles from Philadelphia. On both sides the battle was well fought. But the British army was larger, better equipped, and better drilled, and they gained the victory.

Battle of Brandywine, 11th Sept., 1777

This defeat made the fate of Philadelphia certain, and Congress fled once more, this time to Lancaster. Yet for a fortnight longer Washington held back the enemy, and only on the 26th of September did the British march into the city. But before they had time to settle into their comfortable quarters Washington gave battle again, at Germantown, on the outskirts of Philadelphia.

 

It was a well contested battle, and at one time it seemed as if it might end in victory for the Americans. But Washington's plan of battle was rather a hard one for inexperienced troops to carry out. They were as brave as any men who ever carried rifles, but they were so ignorant of drill that they could not even form into column or wheel to right or left in soldierly fashion. A thick fog, too, which hung over the field from early morning, made it difficult to distinguish friend from foe, and at one time two divisions of the Americans, each mistaking the other for the enemy, fired upon each other.

Battle of Germantown, 4th October

But although the battle of Germantown was a defeat for the Americans it by no means spelled disaster. Another two months of frays and skirmishes followed. Then the British settled down to comfortable winter quarters in Philadelphia, and Washington marched his war-worn patriots to Valley Forge, about twenty miles away.

 

Wile the Americans had been busy losing and winning battles, Pitt in England was still struggling for peace and kindly understanding between Britain and her colonies. "You can never conquer the Americans," he cried. "If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country I would never lay down my arms,–never, never, never!"

Pitt pleads for America

But Pitt talked in vain. For the King was deaf to all the great minister's pleadings. In his eyes the Americans were rebels who must be crushed, and Pitt was but the "trumpet of sedition."

 

But meanwhile all Europe had been watching the struggle of these same rebels, watching it, too, with keep interest and admiration. And now soldiers from many countries came to offer help to the Americans. Among them the best known perhaps are Kosciuszko, who later fought so bravely for his own land, Poland; and Lafayette, who took a large share in the French Revolution.

Kosciuszko and Lafayette

Lafayette was at this time only nineteen. He had an immense admiration for Washington, and after they met, in spite of the difference in the their ages, they became lifelong friends, and Lafayette named his eldest son after Washington.

 

But the Americans owed more perhaps to Baron von Steuben than to any other foreigner. Von Steuben was a German, and had fought under Frederick the Great.

Baron von Steuben

Washington had taken up winter quarters at Valley Forge, which is a beautiful little valley. But that winter it was a scene of misery and desolation. The cold was terrible, and the army was ragged and hungry. The men had neither coats, shirts, nor shoes, and often their feet and hands froze so that they had to be amputated. For days at a time they had but one poor meal a day. Even Washington saw no hope of help. "I am now convinced beyond a doubt," he wrote, "that unless some great and capital change takes place this army must inevitably be reduced to one or other of these three things: starve, dissolve, or disperse."

Valley Forge

Much of this misery was due to the neglect and folly of Congress. It had sadly changed from the brave days of the Declaration of Independence. It was filled now with politicians who cared about their own advancement rather than with patriots who sought their country's good. They refused to see that money, and still more money, was needed to keep a properly equipped army in the field. They harassed Washington with petty interference with his plans. They gave promotion to useless officers against his wishes and better judgement. There was plenty of food in the country, stores of clothing were ready for the army's use, but they lay by the wayside, rotting, because there was no money to pay men to bring it to the army. Washington wore himself out in fruitless efforts to awaken Congress to a sense of its duty. And at length, utterly despairing of any support, weary of seeing his men suffer and dwindle day by day under the miseries of Valley Forge, he wrote out his resignation as Commander-in-Chief of the army. And it needed all the persuasions of his officers to make him tear it up.

Neglect of Congress

Washington's despair

It was to this camp of misery at Valley Forge that Baron von Steuben came. And the ragged, hungry, perishing army he drilled. To these men, brave enough, but all unused to discipline, he taught what discipline meant.

 

At first it was by no means easy. For the Baron knew little English and the men he tried to teach knew not a word of French or German. So misunderstandings were many, and when one day a young American officer named Walker, who knew French, came to von Steuben and offered to act as interpreter he was overjoyed. "Had I seen an angel from heaven," he cried, "I could not have been more glad."

 

But even then, between his own mistakes and the men's mistakes, the Baron was often driven distracted, and lost his temper. Once, it is said, utterly worn out, he turned the troops over to Walker. "Come, my friend," he cried, "take them; I can curse them no longer."

 

But in spite of all hindrances and failings, both men and officers learned so much from von Steuben that when the terrible winter was over the army went forth again to fight far more fit to face the foe than before.

 


CHAPTER 60
WAR ON THE SEA

BESIDES being themselves more fit to fight, the Americans now received other help, for France joined with America in her struggle against Britain. And after this the war was not confined to America only. There was war on the sea, now, as well as on land, and whenever the British and the French navies met there was fighting.

France joins with America, February, 1778

The Americans themselves also carried the war on to the sea. At first they had no fleet, but very soon they began to build ships and before long they had a little fleet of six. Of this fleet Esek Hopkins was made commander-in-chief. He was an old salt, for he had been captain of a trading vessel for thirty years. But as a naval commander he was not a success. He had no knowledge of warfare, he was touchy, obstinate, and could not get on with Congress, which he said was a pack of ignorant clerks who knew nothing at all. The fleet under him only made one cruise. Then he was dismissed, and was succeeded by James Nicholson, the son of a Scotsman from Berwick-on-Tweed.

The fleet

As the war went on other vessels were added to the first six. But the largest was not bigger than a small British cruiser, and in the end they were nearly all taken, or sunk to prevent them being taken. Still before their end they fought many gallant fights, and did some good work for their country.

 

The first shot of the Revolution on the water was fired by Captain Abraham Whipple when he chased a tender belonging to the British cruiser Rose, and captured her. This was, however, not the first shot the hardy Captain had fired against the British. For in 1772, before the "Boston Tea Party," even, had taken place, he had seized and burned the British revenue schooner, Gaspé, in Narragansett Bay.

Abraham Whipple, 1733-1819

The Gaspé, 10th June, 1772

The commander of the Gaspé had been trying to put down smuggling on the coast of Rhode Island. He stopped all vessels, and examined even market boats, to see if they had any smuggled goods. This made the Rhode Island people very angry. They had smuggled as they liked for a hundred years; the British laws against it seemed to them mere tyranny; and they looked upon the commander of the Gaspé as little better than a pirate, who was interfering with their lawful trade. So when one day the people learned that the Gaspé had gone aground a few miles from Providence, and could not be got off before three o'clock in the morning, they determined to attack her.

 

Abraham Whipple was chosen as captain for the expedition. He and his men boarded the Gaspé, wounded the captain, overpowered the crew, and burned the schooner to the water's edge.

 

When the British commander-in-chief heard of it he was furious, and he wrote to Whipple.

 

"Sir," he said, "you, Abraham Whipple, on the 10th of June, 1772, burned his Majesty's ship the Gaspé, and I will hang you at the yardarm."

 

To this Whipple, nothing daunted, replied: "Sir, always catch a man before you hang him."

 

Whipple was never caught until 1778, when with his ship the Providence he tried to relieve Charleston, in South Carolina, which was at that time besieged by the British. Then he was not hanged, but kept prisoner until the end of the war.

 

Lambert Wickes, captain of the Reprisal, was another gallant naval officer. When Benjamin Franklin was sent as United States ambassador to France in 1776 he sailed in the Reprisal, which was the first American warship to visit the shores of Europe.

Lambert Wickes, 1735-78

It might be here interesting to note that besides being minister to France, Franklin had to look after naval affairs in a general way. He used his powers with wisdom, and often with great humanity. Among other things he gave all American naval commanders orders that they were not to attack the great discoverer, Captain Cook, no matter in what part of the ocean they might meet him. They were not merely forbidden to attack him, they were even commanded to offer him any aid they could. For it would not beseem Americans, said Franklin, to fight against one who had earned the admiration of the whole world.

 

The Reprisal did not return home before it had made its presence felt. For, having landed Franklin, Wickes cruised about the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel, capturing many British merchantmen, and taking them to France, where he sold them.

 

At this time France was still at peace with Britain, and the British Government complained bitterly to the French at this breach of neutrality. They were, therefore, forced to order the American ships to leave France, and Wickes sailed for home.

 

On the way the Reprisal was chased by a British warship, and Wickes only saved himself from capture by throwing his guns overboard. He thus escaped one danger, however, only to fall into another, and in a storm off the coast of Newfoundland the Reprisal went down, and all on board were lost.

 

But of all the naval commanders on the American side, the Scotsman, John Paul Jones, was the most famous. He was the son of a gardener, and was born at Arbigland in Kirkcudbrightshire. From a child he had been fond of the sea, and when still only a boy of twelve he began his seafaring life on board a ship trading with Virginia. For some years he led a roving and adventurous life. Then after a time he came to live in America, which, he said himself, "has been my favourite country since the age of thirteen, when I first saw it."

John Paul Jones, 1747-92

His real name was John Paul. But he took the name of Jones out of gratitude to Mr. Jones, a gentleman of Virginia, who had befriended him when he was poor and in trouble.

 

When the War of the Revolution broke out Jones was a young man of twenty-seven, and he threw himself heart and soul into the struggle on the side of the Americans. He was the first man to receive a naval commission after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He was, too, the first man to break the American naval flag from the mast. This was not, however, the Stars and Stripes, but a yellow flag with a pine tree and a rattlesnake, and the words, "Tread on me who dares."

The first naval flag

Jones became famous at once for his deeds of skill and daring, for it was his sole ambition, he said, "to fight a battle under the new flag, which will teach the world that the American flag means something afloat, and must be respected at sea." But he never liked the yellow flag. It was more fit for a pirate ship, he thought, than to be the ensign of a great nation, and he it was who first sailed under the Stars and Stripes, which he hoisted on his little ship, the Ranger. This was only a vessel of three hundred tons. In it in November, 1777, he crossed the Atlantic, harried the coasts of England and Scotland, and then made his way to France.

The Ranger

From France Jones set out again with a little fleet of four ships. His flagship he called Bonhomme Richard, as a compliment both to France and Franklin. Franklin being the author of "Poor Richard's Almanac," for which Bonhomme Richard was the French translation.

The Bonhomme Richard

The Bonhomme Richard was the largest vessel of the American navy, but it was only a worn-out old East India merchantman, turned into a man-of-war by having portholes for guns cut in the sides. And, although, Jones did not know it at the time, the guns themselves had all been condemned as unsafe before they were sent on board. The other ships of the squadron were also traders fitted up with guns in the same way, but were all much smaller than the Bonhomme.

 

With this raffish little fleet Paul Jones set out to do great deeds. His bold plan was to attack Liverpool, the great centre of shipping, but that had to be given up, for he found it impossible to keep his little squadron together. Sometimes he would only have one other ship with him, sometimes he would be quite alone. So he cruised about the North Sea, doing a great deal of damage to British shipping, catching merchantmen, and sending them to France as prizes.

 

At length one afternoon in September, when he had only the Pallas with him, he sighted a whole fleet of merchantmen off the coast of England and at once gave chase. The merchantmen were being convoyed by two British men-of-war, the Serapis and the Countess of Scarborough, and they at once got between Jones and his prey. Then the merchantmen made off as fast as they could, and the men-of-war came on. Presently the captain of the Serapis hailed the Bonhomme Richard.

Jones meets the Serapis, 23rd Sept., 1779

"What ship are you?" he shouted.

 

"I can't hear what you say," replied Jones, who wanted to get nearer.

 

That made the British captain suspicious. Nearer and nearer the two vessels drew on to each other.

 

"Hah," he said, "it is probably Paul Jones. If so there is hot work ahead."

 

Again the Serapis sent a hail.

 

"What ship is that? Answer immediately, or I shall be obliged to fire into you."

 

Paul Jones answered this time–with a broadside–and a terrible battle began. The carnage was awful. The decks were soon cumbered with dead and dying. The two ships were so near that the muzzles of the guns almost touched each other. Both were soon riddled with shot, and leaking so that the pumps could hardly keep pace with rising water. Still the men fought on.

The battle

Jones was everywhere, firing guns himself, encouraging his men, cheering them with his voice and his example. "The commodore had but to look at a man to make him brave," said a Frenchman, who was there. "Such was the power of one heart that knew no fear."

 

The sun went down over the green fields of England, and the great red harvest moon came up. Still through the calm moonlit night the guns thundered, and a heavy cloud of smoke hung over the sea. Two of the rotten old guns on the Bonhomme Richard had burst at the first charge, killing and wounding the gunners; others were soon utterly useless. For a minute not one could be fired, and the Captain of the Serapis thought that the Americans were beaten.

 

"Have you struck?" he shouted, through the smoke of the battle.

 

"No," cried Jones, "I haven't begun to fight yet."

"I haven't begun to fight yet."

The next instant the roar and rattle of the musketry crashed forth again. Both ships were now on fire, and a great hole smashed in the side of the Bonhomme.

 

"For God's sake, strike, Captain," said one of his officers.

 

Jones looked at him silently for a minute. The he answered: "No," he cried, "I will sink. I will never strike."

 

The ships were now side by side, and Jones gave orders to lash the Bonhomme Richard to the Serapis. He seized a rope himself and helped to do it. The carpenter beside him, finding the lines tangled, rapped out a sailor's oath.

 

But Jones was calm as if nothing was happening.

 

"Don't swear, Mr. Stacy," he said. "We may soon all be in eternity. Let us do our duty."

 

Lashed together now the two ships swung on the waves in a death grapple. The guns on the Bonhomme Richard were nearly all silenced. But a sailor climbed out on to the yards, and began to throw hand grenades into the Serapis. He threw one right into the hold, where it fell upon a heap of cartridges and exploded, killing about twenty men. That ended the battle. With his ship sinking and aflame, and the dead lying thick about him, the British captain struck his flag, and the Americans boarded the Serapis and took possession.

The Serapis strikes her flag

In silence and bitterness of heart Captain Pearson bowed and handed his sword to Jones. But Jones had only admiration for his gallant foe. He longed to say something to comfort him, but he looked so sad and dignified that he knew not what to say. At length he spoke.

 

"Captain Pearson," he said "you have fought like a hero. You have worn this sword to your credit, and to the honour of your service. I hope your King will reward you suitably."

 

But Captain Pearson could not answer, his heart was still too sore. Without a word he bowed again and turned away.

 

While this terrible fight had been going on the Pallas had engaged the Countess of Scarborough, and captured her, and now appeared, not much worse for the fight. But the Bonhomme Richard was an utter wreck, and was sinking fast. So as quickly as possible, the sailors, utterly weary as they were with fighting, began to move the wounded to the Serapis. The crew of the British ship, too, worked with a will, doing their best to save the enemies of the night before. At length all were safely carried aboard the Serapis, and only the dead were left on the gallant old Bonhomme Richard.

 

"To them," says Jones, in his journal, "I gave the good old ship for their coffin, and in it they found a sublime sepulchre. And the last mortal eyes ever saw of the Bonhomme Richard was the defiant waving of her unconquered and unstricken flag as she went down."

The Bonhomme Richard sinks

So this strange sea-duel was over. The victorious ship went down, and the victorious captain sailed away in his prize. But the Serapis, too, was little more than a wreck. Her main mast was shot away. Her other masts and spars were badly damaged, and could carry but little sail, and it seemed doubtful if she would ever reach port. But, after a perilous journey, the coasts of Holland were sighted, and the Serapis was duly anchored in the Texel.

 

With deeds like these the little American navy realised Jones' desire. But beyond that they did little to bring the war to an end. Far more was done by the privateers, which were fitted out by the hundred. They scoured the seas like greyhounds, attacking British merchantmen on every trade route, capturing and sinking as many as three hundred in one year. This kind of warfare paid so well, indeed, that farming was almost given up in many states, the farmers having all gone off to make their fortunes by capturing British merchantmen.

The privateers

As for Paul Jones he never had a chance again of showing his great prowess. When the war was over he entered the service of Russia, and became an admiral. He died in Paris in 1792, but for a long time it was not known where he was buried. His grave was discovered in 1905, and his body was brought to America by a squadron of the navy which was sent to France for the purpose, and reburied at Annapolis with the honour due to a hero.

 


CHAPTER 61
THE BATTLE OF MONMOUTH–THE STORY OF CAPTAIN MOLLY

WHILE the Americans were learning endurance in the hard school of Valley Forge the British were having a gay time in Philadelphia. The grave old Quaker town rang with song and laughter as never before. Balls and parties, theatricals and races, followed each other in a constant round of gaiety. And amid this light-hearted jollity Howe seemed to forget all about the war.

The British in Philadelphia

Had he chosen he could easily have attacked Valley Forge, and crushed Washington's perishing army out of existence. Or if he grudged to lose men in an attack, he might have surrounded the Americans, and starved them into submission. But he did neither. He was too comfortable in his winter quarters, and had no wish to go out in the snow to fight battles.

 

Those in power in England had long been dissatisfied with Howe's way of conducting the war. Time and again he had seemed to lose his chance of crushing the rebellion and now this idle and gay winter in Philadelphia seemed the last straw. Such bitter things indeed were said of him that he resigned his commission, and went home, and the supreme command was given to General Clinton.

Howe sails for England, 1778

Now that France had joined with America, Britain was in a very different position than before. She could no longer afford to send out large armies such as Howe had been given to subdue the colonies. For she had to keep troops at home to protect Great Britain from invasion. She had to send ships and men all over the world, to repel the attacks of the French on her scattered colonies and possessions. Clinton therefore was left with only an army of about ten thousand. And with this force he was expected to conquer the country which Howe had been unable to conquer with thirty thousand.

 

Clinton knew that his task was a hard one. He saw that the taking of Philadelphia had been a mistake, and that from a military point of view it was worthless. So he decided at once to abandon Philadelphia, and take his army back to New York. And on the morning of the 18th of June the British marched out. A few days later Congress returned, and the city settled back to its quiet old life once more.

The British leave Philadelphia

It was no easy task for Clinton to cross New Jersey in grilling summer weather, with a small force, an enormous baggage train, and Washington hanging threateningly about his path, harassing him at every step. That he did accomplish it brought him no little renown as a soldier.

 

For some time, following the advice of his officers, Washington did not make a general attack on the British. But near the town of Monmouth he saw his chance, and determined to give battle.

Battle of Monmouth, 23rd June, 1778

General Lee had by this time been exchanged, and was now again with Washington's army as second in command, and for this battle Washington gave him command of an advance party of six thousand men. With him were Anthony Wayne and Lafayette.

 

On the morning of the battle Lee's division was in a very good position. It seemed as if the British might be surrounded with ease, but when Wayne and Lafayette were about to attack Lee stopped them.

 

"You do not know British soldiers," he said to Lafayette. "We are certain to be driven back. We must be cautious."

 

"That may be so, General," replied Lafayette, "but British soldiers have been beaten, and may be so again. At any rate, I should like to try."

 

But for answer, Lee ordered his men to retreat.

Lee orders a retreat

At this Lafayette was both angry and astonished, and he hurriedly sent a message to Washington, telling him that his presence was urgently needed.

 

The soldiers did not in the least know from what they were retreating, and they soon fell into disorder. Then suddenly Washington appeared among them. He was white to the lips with wrath.

 

"I desire to know," he said, in a terrible voice, turning to Lee, "I desire to know, sir, what is the reason–whence arises this disorder and confusion?"

 

Lee trembled before the awful anger of his chief. He tried to make excuses. Then Washington's fury knew no bounds. He poured forth a torrent of wrath upon Lee till, as one of his officers who heard him said, "the very leaves shook on the trees." Then halting the retreating troops, he formed them for battle once more. Later in the day meeting Lee he sent him to the rear.

Washington's wrath

Soon the battle was raging fiercely. Some of the hottest fighting took place round the American artillery, which was commanded by General Knox. The guns were doing deadly work, yet moving about coolly amidst the din and smoke of battle, there might be seen a saucy young Irish girl, with a mop of red hair, a freckled face, and flashing eyes. She was the wife of one of the gunners, and so devoted was she to her husband that she followed him even to battle, helping him constantly with his gun. His comrades looked upon her almost as one of the regiment, and called her Captain Molly, and she wore an artilleryman's coat over her short red skirt, so that she might look like a soldier.

Captain Molly

Captain Molly was returning from a spring nearby with a bucket full of water, when her husband, who was just about to fire, was killed by a shot from the enemy. The officer in command, having no one to take his place, ordered the gun to be removed.

 

Molly saw her husband fall, heard the command given, and she dropped her bucket and sprang to the gun.

 

"Bedad no," she cried. "I'll fire the gun myself, and avenge my man's death."

 

It was not the first time that Molly had fired a gun. She was with her husband at Fort Clinton, when it was taken by the British. As the enemy scaled the walls the Americans retreated. Her husband dropped his lighted match and fled with the rest. But Captain Molly was in no such haste. She picked up the match, fired the gun, and then ran after the others. Hers was the last gun fired on the American side that day.

Fort Clinton, 6th Oct., 1777

Now all the long day of Monmouth she kept her gun in action, firing so skillfully and bravely, that all around were filled with admiration, and news of her deeds was carried through the army. Even Washington heard of them.

 

Next day he ordered her to be brought to him, and there and then he made her a sergeant, and recommended her for an officer's pension for life. But now that her husband was dead Molly's heart was no longer with the army. Soon after the battle of Monmouth she left it, and a few years later she died.

 

All through the long summer day of pitiless heat the battle raged. Again and again the British charged. Again and again they were thrown back, and at length were driven across a ravine. Here Washington would have followed, but the sun went down, and darkness put an end to the fight.

 

Washington, however, was determined to renew the battle next day, and that night the army slept on the field. He himself slept under a tree, sharing a cloak with Lafayette. But the battle was never renewed, for during the night Clinton marched quietly away. When day dawned he was already too far off to pursue, and at length he got safely into New York.

Clinton retreats in the night

This was the last great battle to be fought in the northern states, and a few weeks later Washington took up his quarters on White Plains. There for nearly three years he stayed, guarding the great waterway of the Hudson, and preventing the British from making any further advance in the north.

 


CHAPTER 62
THE STORY OF A GREAT CRIME

FOR his strange conduct at the battle of Monmouth General Lee was court-martialled, and deprived of his command for one year. Before the year was out, however, he quarrelled with Congress, and was expelled from the army altogether. So his soldiering days were done, and he retired to his farm in Virginia. He was still looked upon as a patriot, even if an incompetent soldier. But many years after his death some letters that he had written to Howe were found. These proved him to have been a traitor to the American cause. For in them he gave the British commander advice as to how the Americans could best be conquered.

Lee expelled from the army

A traitor

Thus his strange conduct at the battle of Monmouth was explained. He had always given his voice against attacking the British on their way to New York. And doubtless he thought that if Washington had been defeated, he could have proved that it was because his advice had not been followed. If in consequence Washington's command had been taken from him, he would have been made commander-in-chief and could have easily arranged terms of peace with the British.

 

But his plans miscarried. He lived to see America victorious, but died before peace was signed.

 

Lee was a traitor. But he had never been a real American. He had taken the American side merely for his own glory, and had never done anything for it worthy of record. But now a true American, one who had fought brilliantly and gallantly for this country, turned traitor, and blackened his fair name, blotting out his brave deeds for all time.

 

When the Americans took possession of Philadelphia again Benedict Arnold was still too crippled by his wound to be able for active service. So the command of Philadelphia was given to him.

Arnold made commander of Philadelphia;

There he soon got into trouble. He began to live extravagantly, and grew short of money. He quarrelled with the state government, and with Congress, was accused of inviting loyalists to his house, of getting money by dishonest acts, and of being in many ways untrue to his duty. He also married a beautiful young loyalist lady, and that was another offence.

 

Arnold was arrogant and sensitive. He grew restive under all these accusations, and demanded an enquiry. His demand was granted, and a court-martial, although acquitting him of everything except imprudence, sentenced him to be reprimanded by the Commander-in-chief.

 

Washington loved his high-spirited, gallant officer, and his reprimand was so gentle and kind that it seemed more like praise than blame. But even Washington's gracious words chafed Arnold's proud spirit. He was hurt and angry. He had deserved well of his country, and he was reprimanded. He had fought gallantly, and had been passed over for others. He had been twice wounded in his country's service, and he was rewarded by jealousy, caviling, and a court-martial.

 

Soon these feelings of bitterness turned to thoughts of treachery, when exactly is not known. But turn they did, and Arnold began in secret to write letters to General Clinton, the British commander-in-chief.

he begins to write treasonable letters

In the summer of 1780, his wound still making him unfit for active service, Arnold was given command of the fortress of West Point, which guarded the approaches to the Hudson Valley. This fortress he agreed to betray into the hands of the enemy, and thus give them command of that valley for which Burgoyne had made such a gallant and hopeless fight. For a long time Arnold carried on a secret correspondence with Major André, a British officer, and at length a meeting between them was arranged. One September night Arnold waited until all was still and dark in the fort. Then stealthily he crept forth and reached in safety a clump of trees on the bank of the Hudson just beyond the American lines. Here he lay waiting.

The midnight meeting, Sept., 1780

Soon through the darkness the British warship, the Vulture, crept up the river. Presently Arnold heard the soft splash of oars, and in a few minutes Major André stepped ashore.

 

For hours the two conspirators talked until at length all details of the plot were settled. But day had dawned before Arnold returned to West Point, and André set out to regain the Vulture, with plans of the fort, and all other particulars hidden in his boots. By this time, however, the batteries on shore had begun to fire upon the ship, and André, finding it impossible to get on board, decided to go back to New York by land.

 

It was a dangerous journey, but for a little while he crept on unseen. Then suddenly his way was barred by three Americans, and he found himself a prisoner.

André captured

"Have you any letters?" asked his captors.

 

"No," he answered.

 

They were not satisfied with his answer, and began to search him. But finding nothing they were just about to let him go when one of them said, "I'm not satisfied, boys. His boots must come off."

 

André made every kind of excuse to prevent them taking off his boots. They were hard to pull off, he said, and it would take a long time. He was already late, so he begged them not to hinder him more. But the more unwilling he was to take off his boots, the more determined were his captors that they should come off.

 

So they forced him to sit down, his boots were pulled off, and the papers discovered.

his papers are discovered

Only one of the three Americans could read. He seized the papers and glanced hastily over them.

 

"By heaven," he cried, "he is a spy!"

 

It was in vain that André now begged to be set free. First he tried persuasion, and when that failed he tried bribery. But his captors would not listen, and marched him off to headquarters.

 

Arnold was just about to sit down to breakfast, with some other officers as his guests, Washington being expected every minute to join them, when a letter was handed to him, telling him that a spy had been captured. It was an awful moment for Arnold. If André was captured then all too surely his own treachery was known. He could not stay to face the disgrace. But he made no sign. He calmly folded the letter, and put it in his pocket. Then saying that he had been suddenly called to the fort, he begged his guests to excuse him, and went out, and mounting the horse of the messenger who had brought the letter, he sped away, never staying his flight until he was safe aboard the Vulture.

Arnold flees

Very soon after Arnold had escaped Washington arrived. And when the traitorous papers which had been found in André's possession were placed in his hands he was overcome with grief.

 

"Arnold is a traitor, and has fled to the British," he said. "Whom can we trust now?"

Washington's grief

As he spoke the tears ran down his cheeks, bitter tears rung from his noble soul at the thought of this "one more devil's-triumph and sorrow for angels."

 

The chief sinner had escaped. But he had left his fellow conspirator to pay his debt. For a spy could expect no mercy. André was young, brave, and gay. He had such winning ways with him that even his captors came to love him, and they grieved that such a gay young life must be brought to a sudden and dreadful end. His many friends did their best to save him. But their efforts were all in vain. Nothing could alter the fact that he was a spy caught in the act, and the punishment was death.

 

So one morning André was led out to die. He begged to shot as a soldier, and not hanged like a felon. But even that was denied him. Calm and brave to the end he met his death.

André dies

When Arnold's treachery was known a cry of rage rang through the country. Yet in spite of his foul deed people could not quite forget how nobly he had fought. "Hang him," they cried, "but cut off the leg that was wounded at Saratoga first!"

 

Arnold, however, was beyond their vengeance, safe in the British lines. There he at once received a commission, and turned his sword against his own country.

 

Thus a brave man cast his valour in the dust, and made his name a scorn and a by-word. But who shall say that the men who belittled his deeds, and followed him with jealousy and carping, were wholly blameless?

 


CHAPTER 63
A TURNING POINT IN THE WORLD'S HISTORY

AFTER nearly four years' fighting the British had utterly failed to subdue the rebel colonies. They had lost one whole army, had poured out treasures of blood and money, and all they had in return was New York and the coast town of Newport. Besides this they were at war with half Europe. For in 1779 Spain declared war against Britain, more indeed from anger against the British than from any love of the Americans. The following year Holland also declared war against Britain, who thus found herself surrounded by foes.

Spain and Holland declare war

Still, in spite of all, the British stuck doggedly to their task of conquering the Americans. But as Pitt had told them again and again, it was an impossible task. At length, having failed to make any impression in the north they decided to change the seat of war and attack the weaker colonies in the south.

The war carried into the south

Here for a time they were more successful. Georgia was overrun, then South Carolina, and Charleston, which had made such a brave defence at the beginning of the war, surrendered to the British, with all its stores of food and ammunition.

 

Things were going badly for the patriots in the south, and Gates, who was still looked upon as a hero, because Burgoyne had surrendered to him, was sent to take command. Now he had a chance to prove of what stuff he was made. He proved it by being utterly defeated at the battle of Camden.

Battle of Camden, 6th Aug., 1780

This defeat was a bitter blow. Never since before the battle of Trenton had the patriot cause seemed so much in danger. But the dark days passed, and once more the Americans began to win instead of lose battles. South Carolina was re-conquered, and Cornwallis, who was commander-in-chief of the British army in the south, retired into Virginia, and occupied Yorktown.

 

Just at this time Washington learned that a French fleet was sailing for Chesapeake Bay, and he determined to make a grand French-American attack on the British in the south. He made his plans very secretly, and leaving General Heath with four thousand men to guard the Hudson, he marched southwards, moving with such quickness that he had reached the Delaware before Clinton in New York knew what he was about. His army now consisted of two thousand Americans, and four thousand French, and this was the only time throughout the war that French and Americans marched together.

 

On the 6th of October the siege of Yorktown began. It was soon seen that its defenses were of no use against the seventy heavy siege guns of the allied army, and the surrender of Cornwallis was only a matter of time–for he was caught in a trap, just as Burgoyne had been. He could not escape to the south, for Lafayette barred the way to the Carolinas. He could not escape by sea, for the French and British fleets had fought a battle at the entrance of Chesapeake Bay, in which the British ships had been so badly damaged that they were obliged to sail to New York to refit. He could not escape to the north or the east, for Washington's army shut him in.

Siege of Yorktown

Still for a few days the British made a gallant stand. But their ammunition was running short, their defenses were crumbling to bits, and on the 19th of October, almost four years to a day after Burgoyne's surrender to Gates, Cornwallis surrendered to Washington.

Cornwallis surrenders, 1780

Two days later the British soldiers marched out with flags furled, while the bands played a tune called "The World Turned Upside Down." To them indeed the world must have seemed turned upside down, for the all-conquering British had been conquered at last, and that by a nation of farmers unskilled in war. Yet they may have found some comfort in the thought that after all they had been beaten by their equals, by men of their own race.

 

On either side there was the same grit and endurance, the same love of fair play. But added to that the Americans had fought for a great cause. Their hearts were in it, as the hearts of the British had never been. This was their great advantage. This nerved their arm.

 

For two years after this Clinton still held New York, but there was no more fighting between the regular armies, and the surrender of Cornwallis may be said to have ended the war. When Lord North heard the news he was distracted with grief. He dashed wildly up and down the room, waving his arms and crying over and over again, "O God, it is all over, it is all over."

 

As for King George, he would not admit that it was all over, and he swore he would rather give up his crown than acknowledge the States to be free. But at length he, too, had to give way, and the treaty of peace was signed in Paris in November, 1782. This Peace, however, was only a first step, for Europe was still at war, and it was difficult to settle matters. But in September of the following year the real peace was signed, and the United States were acknowledged to be free. By this treaty Florida was given back to Spain, the Mississippi was made the western boundary, and the Great Lakes the northern boundary of the United States.

The Peace of Paris

Thus a new great power came into being, and as an English historian has said, "the world had reached one of the turning points of its history."