Puslapio vaizdai

port in the heat of battle, that his son, a boy of sixteen, had just been killed. "This is not the moment," he said, turning to the officious tale-bearer, "this is not the moment, sir, to talk of private affairs. Go back to your duty." The rebuke was worthy of a Spartan. It turned out in the end that his son was not killed; he served through the war as a staff officer.

After the battle Stark's regiment was stationed on Winter's Hill, where it remained till March, 1776, when the British evacuated Boston. He was then transferred to New York, and shortly after he joined the American army in Canada. He was now on the old battle-grounds of his youth, in the neighborhood of Crown Point and Ticonderoga. It was while the troops were at the latter place that the news of the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed to them. The failure of the Canadian campaign and the disastrous occurrences at New York drew Stark and his regiment from the Northern army to the banks of the Delaware. They led the vanguard in the attack upon Trenton, and fought gallantly at Princeton. The term for which his men had enlisted expiring about this time, he proceeded to New Hampshire to raise new recruits. His popularity soon filled his regiment, and he communicated the intelligence to the council of the state, and to Washington. Repairing to Exeter to receive instructions from the authorities, he was informed that a new list of promotions had just been made, in which his name was omitted, while those of other officers, who were his juniors, were found. He conceived himself deeply wronged in the matter, as according to military usages he undoubtedly was, and refused to submit to the slight which Congress had put upon him. He declared that the officer who would not maintain his rank, and assert his own rights, was not fit to be trusted to vindicate those of his country. The proposition was too sweeping to be entirely true, but there was a show of good sense in it, which was enough for the irate colonel. He waited upon the council, and upon Generals Sullivan and Poor, stated the grounds of his dissatisfaction, and his determination to quit the army. He then surrendered his commission, and returned home; not to join the British, as his brother William had done on a somewhat similar occasion; nor to betray his country, like Benedict Arnold.

He took a nobler revenge; he fitted out for the army all the members of his own family who were old enough to join it! He gave everything to the good cause but his services; those he reserved till he should have justice done him. He threw up his commission in the spring of 1777; in the summer of that year the Eastern States were invaded by a formidable army from Canada. This force was commanded by Burgoyne, and consisted in part of German troops, veterans of the Seven Years' War. They were amply supplied with the necessaries of war, arms, ammunition, and military stores; they had a considerable force of Canadian and American loyalists for spies, scouts, and rangers, besides several bands of savages, whose hearts were as sanguinary as their war dresses were grim. Altogether the army numbered ten thousand strong.

The New England States, especially Massachusetts and New Hampshire, were alarmed. They felt that their frontier was uncovered, and that they must make a great effort to protect the country. The New Hampshire committee of safety met and formed the whole militia of the state into two brigades; the command of one was tendered to Stark. He refused at first to accept it, but at length consented, on condition that he should not be obliged to join the main army, but be allowed to hang on the wings of the enemy in what was then called the New Hampshire Grants, but is now the State of Vermont. He was to exercise his own discretion as to his movements, accountable to no one but the authorities of New Hampshire. His conditions were complied with, and the militia took the field without hesitation. Stark's name, like that of the king, in Shakspeare, was "a tower of strength."

Stark and the New Hampshire militia were encamped in the neighborhood of Bennington, on the 13th of August, where intelligence reached them that a party of Indians, attached to the forces of Baum, the Hessian commander, were within twelve miles of that place. LieutenantColonel Gregg and two hundred men were detached to stop their march. Late at night General Stark was advised that these Indians, and a large body of the enemy, with a train of artillery, were on the way to Bennington. He moved for


ued clap of thunder." The thunder, however, was all on one side, for Stark had no cannon. In the meantime the battle was going on in another part of the field, and decidedly in favor of the Americans. The Hessians kept their ranks unbroken, and fought gallantly, till all their ammunition was expended; then they threw away their muskets, and rushed to the charge with their sabers. They were overpowered by the undaunted militia, who compelled them to give way, leaving their artillery and baggage on the field.

The battle was won. But it was nearly lost again, through the cupidity of the militia, who immediately dispersed to gather the plunder. While they were engaged in this (to them) very natural and laudable occupation, intelligence was brought to Stark that a large re-enforcement of the British army-a re-enforcement which would have arrived the day before, but for the badness of the roads, was in full march within two miles of him. The retreating Hessians took courage, and wheeled about to a renewed attack. The British came up, and the militia being once more in order, the battle raged again. It was contested with great obstinacy on both sides, but the result was rather unfavorable to the Americans, who were driven from post to post till they were just on the verge of flight. It was no wonder, for they were already worn out, while the British were fresh and active. But at this moment a regiment of Berkshire militia, who, like the British detachment, had been detained by the weather, came up and decided the fate of the day. The enemy fled at sunset, and were pursued till dark, when Stark drew off his men, to prevent them from firing upon each other by mistake. "One hour more of day," he said, "and I would have captured the whole body." The fruits of the victory were four pieces of brass cannon, several hundred stand of arms, a quantity of German broadswords, and about seven hundred prisoners. Two hundred and seven of the Hessians were killed; the number of the wounded was not known. The Americans had forty wounded, and thirty killed. Stark's horse was shot under him. Baum, the Hessian commander, was mortally wounded. As Southey says, in his famous little poem on the Battle of Blenheim,

"It was a famous victory."

ward in the morning with all his men to the support of Colonel Gregg, whom he met in full retreat four or five miles out of town, flying before their foes, who were then within a mile of him. He halted at once, and drew up his men in battle order. The Hessians halted also, and immediately intrenched themselves. Not being able to draw them from their position, which was an advantageous one, he fell back for a mile, leaving his skirmishers to deal with them. They were lucky enough to kill thirty, without any loss on their own side. The next day nothing was done except by the skirmishers, whose prowess alarmed the Indians, and made them desert their allies. The position of the combatants on the 16th, the day of the battle, was as follows. On the north ern bank of the Wollamsac, (a tributary of the Hoosic,) were the German troops. Nearly in front of their battery, on the other side of the river, was a band of Tories. The river was shallow enough to be fordable anywhere, but its course was so serpentine that Stark, who was on the same side as the Germans, had to cross it twice on his march to their position. His plan of the battle consisted of a series of simultaneous attacks. Two hundred men, commanded by Colonel Nichols, were to attack the rear of the enemy's left. Colonel Herrick, with three hundred men, was to fall upon the rear of their right; while Colonels Hubbard and Stickney were to advance with two hundred on their right and one hundred in front. The latter detachments were to divert their attention from the real point of attack. At three o'clock in the afternoon the action commenced, by the party of Colonel Nichols, who, gaining the position assigned to them, fell upon the enemy furiously.

The rest of the detachments performed their work, while Stark, who had wound his way along the meandering river, hearkening the while for the sound of the guns, rushed upon the Tories. Their cannon opened upon him, but to no purpose; the brave New Hampshire militia charged to the very mouths of the guns, and finally drove the Tories across the river, pellmell into the ranks of the Hessians, who were driven from their breastworks. "The action," said Stark, in his official report, "lasted two hours, and was the hottest I ever saw. It was like one contin

A good anecdote is told of a clergyman in the Berkshire militia, who, on the morning of the battle, waited on Stark, and addressed him as follows: "We, the people of Berkshire, have been frequently called upon to fight, but have never been led against the enemy. We have now resolved, if you will not let us fight, never to turn out again." "But," said Stark, "do you wish to march now, when it is dark and rainy ?" "No," said the clergyman. "Then wait until the Lord gives us sunshine, and if I do not give you fighting enough I will never ask you to come again." The weather cleared up in a few hours, and the men of Berkshire followed their pastor into the battle.

The reader has, no doubt, missed in this account that famous embellishment of the battle, Stark's speech to his soldiers. "See there, men," he is said to have exclaimed, "there are the red coats. Before night they are ours, or Molly Stark's a widow!" It is possible that Stark might have said this, but as his wife's name was Elizabeth, and not Mary, the only proper name from which the nick-name "Molly" could be derived, I have my doubts about it. The famous battle words of famous commanders have generally been manufactured long after the battles were fought. Wellington always denied the laconic "Up, guards, and at them!" Taylor denied "A little more grape, Captain Bragg" and those who were with Lawrence in his last moments deny his stubborn "Don't give up the ship." Taking these facts into consideration, and not seeing how Elizabeth can be Molly-fied, I beg to remain skeptical as to that lady's predicted chances of widowhood. I shall omit the part of Hamlet.

The defeat of the Hessians at Bennington deranged the whole plan of Burgoyne's campaign; he was compelled to halt to procure stores, which he had expected to find at Bennington, and his projected march to Albany was retarded a month, during which time the militia flocked to the standard of Gates, and put him in a condition to compel the surrender of the British army. Three days after the battle Stark communicated the intelligence of it to Gates, but left Congress to find it out the best way they could. Two days after the battle they passed a resolution censuring him for assuming a separate command.

His conduct was considered destructive of military subordination, and highly prejudicial to the common cause. On the 4th of October, however, they thought better of the matter, and voted "That the thanks of Congress be presented to General Stark, of the New Hampshire militia, and the officers and troops under his command, for their brave and successful attack upon and victory over the enemy in their lines at Bennington, and that Brigadier Stark be appointed a brigadier-general in the armies of the United States." His victory had vindicated him in their eyes for what they were at first disposed to consider rebellion. In addition to the communication which he sent Gates, he transmitted an official account of the battle to the state authorities of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont; and sent to each of these states some drums, muskets, and swords, trophies taken from the field.

The rest of Stark's military career may be briefly summed up. He took the field again after the battle of Bennington, and, placing his army in the rear of the enemy, wholly cut off their communication with Lake George and Canada. In the spring of 1778 he took command of the northern department; shortly afterward he received an order to join Gates in Rhode Island. The British decamped from Rhode Island in November, 1779, and he took possession of their former stronghold-Newport. In May, 1780, he joined Washington, who was at Morristown, New Jersey. He was present at the battle of Springfield, and shortly before the defection of Arnold he supplied that officer with a detachment of New England militia which he had recruited for his use. He also acted on the court martial which condemned Major André. He commanded the Northern department again in the summer of 1781, his head-quarters being at Saratoga. His health was now seriously impaired by the hardships he had undergone, and for a time he was forced to give up active service. When peace was declared he retired to his farm at Manchester, on the Merrimac, where he remained till his death, in 1822. He died at the ripe old age of ninety-four. His family raised a monument over his remains on the 4th of July, 1829. It is a block of granite in the form of an obelisk, with the simple inscription:


[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[graphic][merged small]



ITH this are forwarded two sketches | who enter into contracts to serve their made during our late visit to the employer, (the government contractor,) Chincha Islands, and, considering the im- Don Domingo Elias, for four dollars a portance of the group, concerning which month, renewing it, if they choose, with the the world in general probably is compara- increase of four dollars monthly, and a tively ignorant, they may prove interest- bonus of one hundred and twenty. Those ing. We found one hundred and twenty- who work on their own account are paid six sail of ships lying at anchor, some of eight and ten rials, four and five shillings, them having been waiting four months for for each cart that they load. They live their turn to go under the shoots, the time in a collection of dirty huts made of bambeing governed by their tonnage, at the boo and mud; they, nevertheless, appear rate of ten days for every hundred tons to be happy and contented, and in general register; but a vessel measuring one thou- are well conducted. We landed at a sand tons is loaded in three days by the wooden pier on the north island, ascended shoots, if the men work well. They also the slope of the guano hill, passed through use large launches, which, of course, is a the settlement, and walked round a quarry tedious business. The export of the guano which forms the subject of one of the has increased considerably during the last sketches. The men with pickaxes work few years between three and four hun- their way into the guano, leaving a sort dred thousand tons are the annual amount of wall on either side: here it was so hard at present, which is effected by the aid of that it requires a heavy blow to remove it. nine hundred working hands, three hun- It is then conveyed in wheelbarrows either dred and twenty of them being Chinese, direct to the mouths of the shoots on the

« AnkstesnisTęsti »