Puslapio vaizdai

and her whelps. They managed, in the course of the season, to kill off the whelps with their dogs, but the old wolf was too wary to allow herself to be caught. She had once been taken in a trap, but she escaped, leaving her toes behind her. Israel entered into a league with some of his neighbors, who agreed to watch and hunt, and never to abandon the pursuit until the wolf was destroyed. Two of them were to keep on her track until she was overtaken, or driven to her den. Commencing the pursuit in the opening of winter, after a light fall of snow, they were soon on a sure trail; they found the track of the toeless foot. They pursued her to the banks of the Connecticut River, where she doubled and turned back to Pomfret again. Early in the morning, the day after their return, they earthed her in a den, about three miles from Israel's house. There she was guarded until a large company of men and boys had assembled together, with dogs and guns, and straw and sulphur, and other warlike appurtenances, offensive and defensive. The dogs ventured in the den, but soon came back yelping and bloody. The band next tried the virtues of straw and sulphur. They smoked the cave and themselves, but the wolf refused to come forth. They tried the dogs again, but the dogs backed out. Israel proposed to his servant to take a torch and gun, and enter the cave and shoot her; as might have been expected, the servant declined. Finding no one willing to attempt the descent, he made up his mind to do it himself; his neighbors remonstrated with him, but in vain. Knowing that all wild animals have an instinctive dread of fire, he tore up a quantity of birch bark into strips, and throwing off his coat and waistcoat, lighted one of his extempore torches, and crawled into the cave on his hands and knees. The mouth of the cave was about two feet square. It had an oblique descent of fifteen feet, then it ran horizontally ten feet, and then ascended gradually about sixteen feet more. The sides of the passage through which he crawled were solid rock, as was also the top and bottom. It was in no place high enough for a man to raise himself upright. He was several times obliged to stop, and renew his birch torch, at the hazard each time of being left in utter darkness. He crept on all-fours to the top of the ascent,

where he discovered the glaring eyes of the wolf, who was sitting in the extremity of the cavern. Startled at the sight of the flame, she growled and gnashed her teeth. He reconnoitered her position, formed his plan of attack, and giving a kick at the rope which was fastened to his leg, (I believe I forgot to mention the rope,) was dragged out feet first, and so violently, that his shirt was stripped over his head. His skin was terribly lacerated. He immediately loaded his gun, and lighting another handful of torches, descended a second time. As he approached the wolf, she howled and snapped her teeth, and rolling her terrible eyes, dropped her head between her paws. He took deliberate aim at her head, and fired as she was in the act of springing. Stunned with the shock, and suffocated with the smoke of the powder, he was again dragged out into the air. As soon as the smoke had cleared away, he went down the third time to secure and bring out his prize. She lay on the floor of the cave bathed in blood. He held the torch to her nose, and finding her insensible, he seized her by the ears, and was again dragged out, wolf and all. Then the old woods of Pomfret rang with shouts, great, manly shouts, whose echoes rolled away into the village, and lifted a load of fear from the hearts of the troubled women folk. Ere long they saw a band with torches winding down the road, escorting Israel to his home, wolf and all. The wolf was borne on a litter, on the shoulders of the larger boys, who claimed the honor, because they had kept awake so long. There was great merriment that night in Pomfret; tables were spread, and loaded down with good things, not forgetting new cider and old rum. If the bird that Israel had taken to his nest years before wept a little, it was with joy, not sorrow. story was noised all over the country, with many marvelous additions, the wolf being changed, at the option of the storyteller, into an indefinite number of wolves, or a bear with two cubs, or any convenient member of the animal kingdom. At length it got into the papers of that day and region, and finally into the journals of England and France, and Putnam was familiarly known as "the Old Wolf."


On the breaking out of the French war, in 1755, Putnam was appointed to a captaincy in the regiment of Connecticut

provincials. He had had no previous military experience; but his popularity was so great, that his company was soon made up. His first service was in the victory of Sir William Johnson over the Baron Dieskau, at Fort Edward. He took an active part in this campaign of 1755, not so much as a regular officer, as a ranger or scout. It was his employment to reconnoiter the lines of the enemy, gain intelligence of his movements, carry off stragglers, and annoy him generally. His success was complete. Among other adventures which belong to this period of his career, may be mentioned one in which he, and a certain lieutenant, Robert Durkee, came near losing their lives. They were sent out to reconnoiter the enemy's camp near Ticonderoga, and being ignorant of the French and Indian method of lighting fires in the middle of their camps, instead of on the outer edge, as was the English custom, they crept too near, and found themselves all at once among the sentinels. They were seen and fired upon, and Durkee was wounded in the thigh. They jumped up and ran in the dark, amid a shower of bullets. When they reached a place of safety Putnam remembered that there was a little rum left in his canteen. He unslung the canteen, which hung under his arm, and found it perfectly dry. It had been pierced by one of the balls which whistled about him in his flight. The next day he examined his blanket to see how that had fared; it was riddled in fourteen places!

About this time the garrison was perplexed every night by the disappearance of the sentinel at a certain post. The commanding officer had given orders that in case any noise should be heard in the vicinity, the sentinel should call out three times, "Who goes there?" and then, if no answer were returned, fire in the direction of the noise. The precaution was useless; the post was always found deserted in the morning. This went on some time, until Putnam, who, as a commissioned officer, was excused from all such duties, solicited the honor of standing guard. It was granted, and the usual instructions were given him. For several hours nothing occurred to attract his attention; about midnight, however, his quick ear discerned a slight rustling in the grass, as if some animal were stealthily approaching the spot. Presently the rust

ling was followed by a crackling sound like that made by a hog munching acorns. Putnam raised his musket, and calling out, "Who goes there three times ?" fired. His shot was followed by a deep groan and a struggle, as of a man in the agonies of death. On examining the spot, he found a huge Indian disguised in a boar's skin, and breathing his last. Putnam had shot him through the heart.

In 1757 the Legislature of Connecticut conferred on Putnam the commission of a Major. He examined with General Webb the condition of Fort William Henry, the frontier post of the Americans, then under Colonel Monroe. While there his valiant commander, who seems to have had a large stock of discretion always on hand, heard that the enemy were about to make a southern movement, which alarmed him, and he immediately retreated to Fort Edward. Fort William Henry was invested with a force of seven thousand French soldiers and two thousand Indians. Colonel Monroe sent off an express to Webb, but that prudent commander refused for a time to succor him. The solicitations of Sir William Johnson were so urgent, however, that he and as many as would volunteer for the service were allowed to march, after several days' delay, with relief. They set out, but Webb's courage failed him, and he recalled them. The garrison of Fort William Henry capitulated, but they had scarcely passed the gates of the fortress when the whole body of Indians attached to the French army fell upon them, and commenced an indiscriminate slaughter. Putnam, who had been sent out to reconnoiter, reached the scene of carnage just as the rear-guard of the French army were embarking at Lake George. The fort was dismantled and demolished. The cannon, stores, and boats were all carried off. The barracks and out-houses had been fired, and were still burning, and hundreds of human bodies lay, half consumed, in the smoking ruins. More than one hundred women were among them, some with their scalps torn off, others with their brains battered out. It was a sight never to be forgotten.

In the ensuing winter, when the army were comfortably sheltered in their quarters at Fort Edward, a fire broke out in the barracks. Within twelve feet of these barracks stood the magazine containing three hundred barrels of powder. Sev

eral pieces of heavy artillery were brought to bear upon the barracks with a view of leveling them to the ground, but the effort was unsuccessful, and the flames spread with great rapidity. Putnam heard the aların, and hastened to the fort to render what assistance he could. By his suggestion a line of soldiers was formed through a postern gate to the river, from which a constant supply of water was conveyed. He mounted a ladder, and receiving the water as it was passed to him, threw it over the burning rafters. The fire gained upon him, but he valiantly stood his ground, enveloped in smoke, and so near the flames that his mittens were burnt from his hands. Calling for another pair, he dipped them in water, and renewed his efforts, disputing the progress of the fire inch by inch. The flames at length spread over the whole extent of barracks, and began to shoot their long tongues toward the magazine. He descended from the tottering building, and took his station between it and the powder. The fire was so intense that the outside flank sheathing of the magazine was soon consumed, leaving only a thin partition of timber between it and the powder. Clouds of cinders flew over Putnam, singeing and scorching him fearfully, but he maintained his position, and poured an incessant stream of water on the magazine, until the rafters of the barracks fell in, and the fire was cut off. His face, hands, and arms were blistered with the heat, and when he pulled off his second pair of mittens the skin of his hands and fingers came with them!

In the month of August, 1758, Putnam's good luck forsook him, and he was made a prisoner by the Indians. It happened in this wise: a party of baggage teams having been cut off by the enemy's rangers, a corps of about eight hundred men, commanded by Putnam and a certain Major Rogers, were sent out to head off the party. They were defeated in their object, and it was deemed expedient to return to their head quarters at Fort Edward. They proceeded about a mile from their encampment on the banks of Clear River, when they were intercepted by a band of five hundred Indians commanded by the celebrated French partisan, Molang. Putnam returned the fire of his assailants with his accustomed spirit. Inspired by his example, the officers and

men behaved with great bravery, sometimes fighting in masses, in open view, and then individually and under cover, after the Indian fashion, each man taking to a tree, and acting independent of the rest. Putnam discharged his fusee several times, until at length it missed fire, while the muzzle was pressed against the breast of a powerful Indian. The red skin availed himself of the mishap, and springing forward with his hatchet uplifted, compelled Putnam to surrender. He was immediately disarmed and bound to a tree, while his captor returned to the battle. Ere long the shifting fortunes of war brought the tree to which he was bound directly between the fire of both parties. Putnam was now a mark for the random bullets of friends and foes. They flew incessantly from either side; many of them struck the tree, some even passed through the sleeves and skirts of his coat. The fight was so obstinate and evenly balanced that he was kept in this situation more than an hour. A young Indian warrior saw him there, and amused himself by throwing his tomahawk at his head, not so much to wound him as to show his skill. He grazed his skin several times. Then came a French officer, who leveled his musket at his breast, and tried to shoot him. The flint missed fire, whereat the brute pushed the muzzle of his gun against Putnam's ribs, and ended by striking him on the jaw with the butt end of his piece. The Indians were compelled to retire, but they went leisurely, taking Putnam with them. He was stripped of his coat, vest, stockings, and shoes, loaded with as many of the packs of the wounded as could be piled upon him, strongly pinioned, and dragged along by a cord which was tied tightly around his wrists. They marched several miles before they came to a halt. By this time his hands were terribly swollen, and the blood flowed from his feet. He begged the Indians to unloose his hands, or to knock him on the head and kill him. A French officer interposed in his behalf, ordered his hands to be unbound, and some of the packs to be taken off. In the mean time the Indian who had captured him came up, and expressing great indignation at the treatment his prisoner had received, gave him a pair of moccasins.

When the party camped for the night they determined to roast him alive. He

was led into a dark forest, stripped, and bound naked to a tree, and a circle of brush-wood was piled around him. The pile was set on fire, amid the dancing and screaming of the savages, but a sudden shower fell and damped the flames. They re-kindled the fire, and the blaze soon ran round the circle. He began to feel the scorching heat, and his hands being tied so that he could move his body, he shifted sides as the flames approached him. His fiendish enemies shouted, and yelled with joy. Their joy, however, was of short duration, for a French officer rushed through the crowd, and opening a way by scattering the brands, unbound the slowly roasting victim. It was Molang himself. Putnam's new master rejoined the band, (he seems to have had a bad habit, that master, of being out of the way at the wrong time,) and took charge of him. He offered him some hard biscuit to eat, but finding that he could not chew them on account of the blow on the jaw, he soaked them in water until they were soft enough to be swallowed without effort. He slept that night like the gentleman in the old song:

"His lodging was the cold, cold ground." He lay on his back with his hands and feet fastened to four trees; his coverlet was a number of slender poles over which bushes and branches were thrown. He was watched by as many Indians as could conveniently lie about him. The next day he was allowed his blanket and moccasins, and permitted to march without the packs. To allay his hunger they gave him a little bear's meat, which he sucked through his teeth. At night the party arrived at Ticonderoga, and the prisoners were placed under the care of a French guard. After being examined by the Marquis de Montcalm, Putnam was conducted to Montreal.

The capture of Frontinac by Colonel Braddock afforded occasion for an exchange of prisoners. Among the number who were included in the cartel was Colonel Schuyler, who succeeded in persuading the French governor to give up Putnam.

To follow the fortunes of Colonel Putnam (for in good time he was made a colonel) through his subsequent adventures in the Pontiac war, would occupy more space than I have given myself, so I shall pass them over. It is enough to

say that they were similar to those already related, not, indeed, in the matter of bondage, but in danger and daring. Ten years had now elapsed since Putnam, at the call of his country, gave up the peaceful pursuits of a farmer's life for the pomp and circumstance of war. Entering the service without experience, as "the Old Wolf," he rose regularly through every grade, from the command of a company to that of a regiment, and laid his arms in the bosom of his family, a colonel. Success had not inflated him with pride, or made him forgetful of his old connections. He possessed the good-will and confidence of his neighbors and fellowcitizens, and stood high in public estimation throughout the country. Between the French war and the Revolution he was frequently employed to fill the higher municipal offices, and to represent the town in the General Assembly of the colony. There was but one dark spot in his otherwise bright and happy life-the death of his wife. She died shortly after his return from his last campaign. After a considerable period of widowhood he married again. His second wife was Mrs. Deborah Gardner, the widow of John Gardner, Esq., of Gardner's Island. She was a native of Pomfret, the daughter o. one of Putnam's neighbors. She accompanied Putnam in most of his campaigns in the Revolutionary War, and died at his head-quarters on the Highlands, in 1777.

The passage of the Stamp Act in 1765 aroused the anger of Putnam, and in common with all the true men of that time he set his face against its introduction into Connecticut. At his instigation a large number of the yeomanry of the province assembled in one of the eastern counties of the state, and proceeded in a body toward New Haven to demand the resignation of the distributer of stamps. They met that gentleman at Wethersfield, and after a little hesitation he yielded to their wishes, and resigned. Putnam soon after waited on the governor, and gave him to understand, that if he refused to obey the people his house would be leveled with the dust. The powers that were were deterred from trying the stamp experiment in that quarter. About this time Putnam threw open his house for the accommodation of the public. His sign was a gorgeous portrait of General Wolfe in full uniform, with his arm extended, as if charging an imag

inary foe. It may be seen among other Revolutionary relics in the Museum of the Historical Society of Connecticut at Hartford.

During the troubles which immediately preceded the Revolution Putnam was often questioned by his old friends in the English army, as to the part he should take in the approaching crisis. "I shall take part with my country," he said, "in any event; whatever may happen, I am prepared to abide the consequences." On one occasion he was asked if five thousand British veterans might not march without molestation from one end of the continent to the other. "No doubt they could," he answered, "if they behaved themselves civilly, and paid for what they took, not otherwise. But it they should attempt it in a hostile manner, the very women would meet them with their ladles and broomsticks, and put them to rout before they had got half way through."

The news of the battle of Lexington, which was fought on the 18th of April, 1775, found Putnam plowing on his farm in Pomfret. He unyoked his team from the plow, and bidding his boy go home and tell his mother where he had gone, mounted his horse and dashed away down the road in the direction of Boston. Boston was about one hundred miles from Pomfret, but he reached it in twenty-four hours. He attended a council of war at Cambridge on the 21st of April, where the parole, on account of his arrival, was "Putnam." Finding the British confined to Boston, and invested with a force sufficient to watch their movements, he❘ returned to Hartford, and met the Legislature of Connecticut, as he had been especially requested. Having assisted in levying and organizing a regiment, of which he was made Brigadier General, he returned once more to Cambridge, leaving orders for the troops to follow as speedily as possible. Numbers of his old friends, who had served with him in the French and Indian wars, enlisted in his regiment.

The Battle of Bunker's Hill was the first action of the Revolution in which Putnam figured conspicuously, and had he no other claims to the grateful remembrance of his countrymen, that alone would make his name

"One of the few immortal names
That were not born to die."

That memorable battle has been too often and too well described to need any lengthy description here. Still, as some knowledge of it is necessary to a proper understanding of Putnam's unexampled bravery, I shall venture to recapitulate a few of its most prominent facts. Learning that the British, whom we left shut up in Boston a few paragraphs back, intended to take possession of the heights of Charlestown, as a vantage ground from which to dislodge them from their intrenchmentsthe whole intrenchments, by the way, were built under the supervision of Putnamthe generals of the American forces resolved, by a sudden and secret movement, to defeat the project by advancing to that position the left wing of their own camp. The measure was canvassed, and after considerable debate decided upon, and orders were issued to Colonels Prescott and Bridge, and the regiment of Colonel Frye, to be prepared for an expedition with all their men who were fit for service, and with one day's provision. The same or der was issued to one hundred and twenty men of General Putnam's division, and one company of artillery with two field pieces. Putnam was to have the general superintendence of the affair. There were about one thousand men in all. They assembled on the Common at Cambridge at an early hour of the evening of the 16th of June, 1775, where prayers were offered up by the President of Harvard College. Immediately after dark they commenced their march through Cambridge, and across the Neck, Colonel Prescott leading the way. He was attended by two sergeants carrying dark lanterns. It was only when they arrived at the base of Bunker's Hill, where they found a line of wagons laden with intrenching tools, that the men were made acquainted with the nature of the expedition. The orders were to throw up intrenchments on Bunker's Hill; but Putnam and Prescott saw that it would not be practicable, so they took the responsibility and changed the ground to Breed's Hill, which they deemed a more important post. It was midnight before the first spade entered the ground, and it being within four days of the summer solstice, they had but about four hours' darkness left to work in. Instructed by Putnam and Prescott they worked with a will. They were discovered at daybreak by the sentinels of the British army, and a brisk fire

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