Slike strani

twenty or thirty others, was obliged to sleep out all the night, which was uncommonly cold for the season. About ten next morning we arrived at Elizabeth Town Point, where we were kept in the burning sun several hours till the Commissary came to discharge us. I was afflicted with such pains in my joints I could scarcely walk, and besides was weakened with a raging fever; nevertheless, I walked the two miles to Elizabeth Town; here I got a passage on a wagon to within a mile of Crow's Ferry, which I walked; got a passage over the ferry, and walked on as far as Molly Budleigh's, where I stayed all night; next morning, having breakfasted on some bread and milk, I set homeward; when I came to Obadiah Budleigh's corner, I turned to the right and came home through the woods, for fear of terrifying the neighbors with my ghastly looks had I gone thro Mount Pleasant. July 14, 1780. I forgot to mention that as soon as we came to New York, and things were a little adjusted, Mr. Chatham, our first mate, went on board the" Aurora" and found his desk with mine and several books open and everything taken out; so much for English honor and honesty.1 N. B. N. B. Wrote a letter by Hulings to Mr. G., but received no answer. Two days before I was exchanged got a letter from Mr. G. offering me anything I wanted, pretending he did not know what ship I was in. I returned him a letter of thanks, letting him know that if he could get me a parole it would be the greatest favor he could do me. The same day Mr. Robins came alongside in a small boat with fish, offering me what money I wanted. I begged him to lay the money out in wine, oranges, and lemons, and send them to me. He promised to be alongside in three hours, but I never saw him after

1 In leaving the "Aurora" Freneau had been assured by the commander of the "Iris" that his personal effects would be carefully cared for and would be turned over to him later on.

ward; in short I met with nothing but disappointment among this people, and cannot sufficiently congratulate myself upon having got from among them."

Among some papers belonging to Freneau's daughter, Mrs. Agnes Leadbeater, was a clipping from a newspaper yellow with age; it bore no date and read as follows: "At Big Flats, Steuben Co., N. Y., the 4th inst., Hon. Wm. Steele, æt. ninety-five years. Mr. Steele was born in the city of New York, and took an active part in the revolutionary struggle. In the spring of 1780 he sailed from Philadelphia on board the Aurora,' a twenty-gun ship, which was shortly after captured by the British frigate 'Iris' bearing despatches of the surrender of Charleston to the British. In the running fight which ensued he was severely wounded, taken prisoner, and detained between four or five months when he was exchanged in the exchange of prisoners."

It was a singular coincidence that the "Iris" that captured Freneau should be the bearer of despatches containing news of the defeat of an afterwards intimate friend, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina, who commanded Fort Moultrie, but was obliged to abandon the fort to help with the defence of the city of Charleston; but not, however, until he had inflicted great injury upon the British, whose force was greatly superior to his.

Chapter Eighth

HE exchange of prisoners occurring in the summer of 1780, Philip returned to his mother's house to recuperate; his health having been quite shattered by the rigors of his captivity. It is unnecessary to add that he carried with him a burning resentment for the ignominious and cruel treatment he had undergone. It was during these months of rest and a mother's care that he wrote the poem from which we have so largely drawn in the preceding chapter. Originally, the poem contained four cantos, and was thus printed by Francis Bailey in Philadelphia in the year 1781, entitled "Cantos from a Prison Ship." Later on, the author recast it, as was his wont with his productions, and it appeared in the Monmouth edition in three cantos, and was entitled, "The British Prison Ship;" it runs to about six hundred and fifty lines. Mr. Edward Delancey, having quoted a few lines of this poem in his "Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of America," says: "The "The poem was intended to rouse up American feeling, then-in 1780 - excessively depressed; and it serves to show Freneau's power to arrest public attention, as well as the variety, beauty, and force of different characteristics of his verse;" and he continues: "Of course, the poem is exaggerated in its statements, but in this the skill of the true poet shows itself, for in all appeals of this kind exaggeration is a necessity if an effect is to be produced

just as the sculptor is obliged to make the figure of his hero larger than life, if his statue is to be impressive." In the accounts given by persons who were

1 Vol. ii. No. 2.

not poets, and therefore without any poetical license to exaggerate, the description falls very little, if at all, short of Freneau's. Nearly half of the British force in the vicinity of New York was Hessian, and we learn from history that in such contempt were the Hessians held on account of their brutal force and hireling character, that Frederick the Great, disgusted at the thought of any sovereign employing such a force to reduce his colonies, charged so much a head for permitting them to cross his territory; saying, satirically, that was the rate he charged for driving live stock across his kingdom. The boot now exhibited at Washington's Headquarters in Newburg on the Hudson as belonging to one of these troops, speaks volumes as to the owner of such a machine.

The year of Freneau's capture and imprisonment, as well as the succeeding one, was dreary enough for the patriots. In the north, military operations were mostly suspended; and in the south the army had met with many reverses. As we have seen in the last chapter, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney had been compelled to yield Fort Moultrie to greatly superior forces, and to reinforce General Lincoln, who was trying to hold Charleston with fourteen hundred men against Sir Henry Clinton with five thousand. South Carolina was at last obliged to surrender, and the garrison, including Pinckney, were made prisoners of The latter was not released until peace was declared. Meanwhile, the nation's credit was at its lowest ebb; the continental bills fell in value to two cents on the dollar, and business was paralyzed. Had not Robert Morris and a few wealthy patriots come forward and laid their private fortunes on their country's shrine, its sun would have sunk then and there. The condition of the army was desperate; no food, no pay, no clothing. The American women came forward and did their best to provide the latter, still the army


suffered. To add to all this misery, Benedict Arnold had turned traitor. Dismissed from Virginia, where he had held supreme command after General Phillips' death, he returned to New York; and, receiving from Clinton a second detachment, he entered the sound, landing at New London, and captured the town. Colonel William Ledyard,1 who was doubly related to Philip's wife, held command of forts Griswold and Trumbull which protected the city, but finding his force inadequate to hold them both, he withdrew all his force, amounting to one hundred and fifty militia, to the former, and held it for about an hour against eight hundred British troops. The works were carried after severe fighting, but not until the two superior officers and two hundred men had been killed or disabled on the British side. Upon its surrender, Major Bromfield, upon whom the command now devolved, asked who commanded the garrison. Ledyard replied, "I did command it, but you do now," and handed him his sword. Bromfield, taking it, ran it through the body of Colonel Ledyard up to the hilt, and a general massacre ensued. About one hundred men were killed and wounded. A monument has been erected near the spot to commemorate the massacre.

Miss Fannie Ledyard, a niece of Colonel Ledyard, was on a visit to Groton, Conn., while Arnold was carrying on his butcheries there, and she devoted her whole time to caring for the wounded and dying. She became quite a heroine during the war, and her name is honorably mentioned amongst the devoted and self-sacrificing women of the Revolution. She afterwards married R. L. Peters of Southold, and her remains rest in the old cemetery near the historic home of her ancestors. This family, being so nearly related to Philip, and its history a romantic one, it will not do to pass over.

1 Colonel Ledyard was at the time thirty-one years of age.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »