STRANGE STORIES FROM HISTORY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
GEORGE CARY EGGLESTON
Author of "Red Eagle," "The Big Brother," "The Wreck of the Red Bird," "The Signal Boys," Etc.
New York Harper & Brothers, Franklin Square
HARPER'S YOUNG PEOPLE SERIES.
Illustrated. 16mo, Cloth, $1.00 per volume.
THE ADVENTURES OF JIMMY BROWN. Edited by W. L. ALDEN. THE CRUISE OF THE CANOE CLUB. By W. L. ALDEN. THE CRUISE OF THE "GHOST." By W. L. ALDEN. THE MORAL PIRATES. By W. L. ALDEN. TOBY TYLER; OR, TEN WEEKS WITH A CIRCUS by JAMES OTIS. MR. STUBBS'S BROTHER. A sequel to "Toby Tyler." By JAMES OTIS. TIM AND TIP: OR, THE ADVENTURES OF A BOY AND A DOG. By JAMES OTIS. LEFT BEHIND: OR, TEN DAYS A NEWSBOY. By JAMES OTIS. RAISING THE "PEARL." By JAMES OTIS. MILDRED'S BARGAIN, AND OTHER STORIES. By LUCY C. LILLIE. NAN. By LUCY C. LILLIE. THE FOUR MACNICOLS. By WILLIAM BLACK. THE LOST CITY; OR, THE BOY EXPLORERS IN CENTRAL ASIA. By DAVID KER. THE TALKING LEAVES. An Indian Story. By W. O. STODDARD. WHO WAS PAUL GRAYSON? By JOHN HABBERTON, Author of "Helen's Babies." PRINCE LAZYBONES, AND OTHER STORIES. By Mrs. W. J. HAYS. THE ICE QUEEN. By ERNEST INGERSOLL. CHAPTERS ON PLANT LIFE. By Mrs. S. B. HERRICK. STRANGE STORIES FROM HISTORY. By GEORGE CARY EGGLESTON.
PUBLISHED BY Harper & Brothers, NEW YORK.
Any of the above works will be sent by mail, postage prepaid, to any part of the United States or Canada, on receipt of the price.
Copyright, 1885, by HARPER & BROTHERS.
In calling the tales in this volume "Strange Stories" I have sought simply to indicate that, in the main, they are unfamiliar to youthful readers, and that most of them relate deeds and occurrences some what out of the common. In choosing the themes I have tried to avoid the tales that have been often used, and to tell only those of which young readers generally have not before heard.
Of course, a book of this kind can make no pretension to originality of matter, as the facts used in it are to be found in historical works of recognized authority, though many of them have been drawn from books that are not easily accessible to the majority of readers. If there is any originality in my little volume it is in the manner in which the tales are told. I have endeavored to tell them as simply as possible, and at the same time with as much dramatic force and fervor as I could command, while adhering rigidly to the facts of history.
It would be impossible for me to say to what sources I am indebted for materials. The incidents related have been familiar to me for years, as they are to all persons whose reading of history has been at all extensive, and I cannot say with any certainty how much of each I learned from one and how much from another historical writer. Nor is it in any way necessary that I should do so, as the recorded facts of history are common property. But a special acknowledgment is due to Mr. James Parton in the case of the tale of the Negro Fort, and also for certain details in those relating to the New Orleans campaign of 1814-15. In that field Mr. Parton is an original investigator, to whose labors every writer on the subject must be indebted. I wish also to acknowledge my obligation to Mr. A. B. Meek, the author of a little work entitled "Romantic Passages in Southwestern History," for the main facts in the stories of the Charge of the Hounds and the Battle of the Canoes on the Alabama River; but, with respect to those matters, I have had the advantage of private sources of information also.
Most of the stories in the volume were originally written for Harper's Young People; one was first published in Good Cheer, and a few in other periodicals. I owe thanks to the editors and publishers concerned for permission to reprint them in this form.
PAGE HISTORY STORIES.
THE STORY OF THE NEGRO FORT 13
A WAR FOR AN ARCHBISHOP 26
THE BOY COMMANDER OF THE CAMISARDS 38
THE CANOE FIGHT 55
THE BATTLE OF LAKE BORGNE 67
THE BATTLE IN THE DARK 77
THE TROUBLESOME BURGHERS 88
THE DEFENCE OF ROCHELLE 99
THE SAD STORY OF A BOY KING 111
TWO OBSCURE HEROES 120
THE CHARGE OF THE HOUNDS 130
THE STORY OF A WINTER CAMPAIGN 140
YOUNG WASHINGTON IN THE WOODS 151
THE STORY OF CATHERINE 163
THE VIRGINIA WIFE-MARKET 175
BOYHOOD OF DANIEL WEBSTER 185
THE SCULLION WHO BECAME A SCULPTOR 193
BOYHOOD OF WILLIAM CHAMBERS 200
HOW A BOY HIRED OUT, AND WHAT CAME OF IT 206
THE WICKEDEST MAN IN THE WORLD 212
A PRINCE WHO WOULD NOT STAY DEAD 228
Breakfast and Battle 23
Vladimir Besieging the City Containing his Archbishop 35
Cavalier Personating the Lieutenant of the Count Broglio 47
With a Single Blow he Knocked over the Indian with whom Austill was Struggling 63
Boarding the Gun-boats 73
General Jackson at New Orleans 79
The Burghers Prepare to Defend their City 95
Richelieu Surveying the Works at Rochelle 103
The Parting between King Richard II. and Queen Isabella 117
Martin Preaching to the People on the Duty of Fighting 125
"Just at the Moment when Matters were at their Worst, he Rode up" 137
Capture of the Dutch fleet by the Soldiers of the French Republic 149
Washington as a Surveyor 157
"She Went Boldly into his Tent" 171
"'To the End of the Twelfth Book of the AEneid,' answered the 'Idle' Boy in Triumph" 189
THE STORY OF THE NEGRO FORT.
During the war of 1812-14, between Great Britain and the United States, the weak Spanish Governor of Florida—for Florida was then Spanish territory—permitted the British to make Pensacola their base of operations against us. This was a gross outrage, as we were at peace with Spain at the time, and General Jackson, acting on his own responsibility, invaded Florida in retaliation.
Among the British at that time was an eccentric Irish officer, Colonel Edward Nichols, who enlisted and tried to make soldiers of a large number of the Seminole Indians. In 1815, after the war was over, Colonel Nichols again visited the Seminoles, who were disposed to be hostile to the United States, as Colonel Nichols himself was, and made an astonishing treaty with them, in which an alliance, offensive and defensive, between Great Britain and the Seminoles, was agreed upon. We had made peace with Great Britain a few months before, and yet this ridiculous Irish colonel signed a treaty binding Great Britain to fight us whenever the Seminoles in the Spanish territory of Florida should see fit to make a war! If this extraordinary performance had been all, it would not have mattered so much, for the British government refused to ratify the treaty; but it was not all. Colonel Nichols, as if determined to give us as much trouble as he could, built a strong fortress on the Appalachicola River, and gave it to his friends the Seminoles, naming it "The British Post on the Appalachicola," where the British had not the least right to have any post whatever. Situated on a high bluff, with flanks securely guarded by the river on one side and a swamp on the other, this fort, properly defended, was capable of resisting the assaults of almost any force that could approach it; and Colonel Nichols was determined that it should be properly defended, and should be a constant menace and source of danger to the United States. He armed it with one 32-pounder cannon, three 24-pounders, and eight other guns. In the matter of small-arms he was even more liberal. He supplied the fort with 2500 muskets, 500 carbines, 400 pistols, and 500 swords. In the magazines he stored 300 quarter casks of rifle powder and 763 barrels of ordinary gunpowder.
When Colonel Nichols went away, his Seminoles soon wandered off, leaving the fort without a garrison. This gave an opportunity to a negro bandit and desperado named Garcon to seize the place, which he did, gathering about him a large band of runaway negroes, Choctaw Indians, and other lawless persons, whom he organized into a strong company of robbers. Garcon made the fort his stronghold, and began to plunder the country round about as thoroughly as any robber baron or Italian bandit ever did, sometimes venturing across the border into the United States.
All this was so annoying and so threatening to our frontier settlements in Georgia, that General Jackson demanded of the Spanish authorities that they should reduce the place; and they would have been glad enough to do so, probably, if it had been possible, because the banditti plundered Spanish as well as other settlements. But the Spanish governor had no force at command, and could do nothing, and so the fort remained, a standing menace to the American borders.
Matters were in this position in the spring of 1816, when General Gaines was sent to fortify our frontier at the point where the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers unite to form the Appalachicola. In June of that year some stores for General Gaines's forces were sent by sea from New Orleans. The vessels carrying them were to go up the Appalachicola, and General Gaines was not sure that the little fleet would be permitted to pass the robbers' stronghold, which had come to be called the Negro Fort. Accordingly, he sent Colonel Clinch with a small force down the river, to render any assistance that might be necessary. On the way Colonel Clinch was joined by a band of Seminoles, who wanted to recapture the fort on their own account, and the two bodies determined to act together.
Meantime the two schooners with supplies and the two gun-boats sent to guard them had arrived at the mouth of the river; and when the commandant tried to hold a conference with Garcon, the ship's boat, bearing a white flag, was fired upon.
Running short of water while lying off the river's mouth, the officers of the fleet sent out a boat to procure a supply. This boat was armed with a swivel and muskets, and was commanded by Midshipman Luffborough. The boat went into the mouth of the river, and, seeing a negro on shore, Midshipman Luffborough landed to ask for fresh-water supplies. Garcon, with some of his men, lay in ambush at the spot, and while the officer talked with the negro the concealed men fired upon the boat, killing Luffborough and two of his men. One man got away by swimming, and was picked up by the fleet; two others were taken prisoners, and, as was afterwards learned, Garcon coated them with tar and burned them to death.
It would not do to send more boats ashore, and so the little squadron lay together awaiting orders from Colonel Clinch. That officer, as he approached the fort, captured a negro, who wore a white man's scalp at his belt, and from him he learned of the massacre of Luffborough's party. There was no further occasion for doubt as to what was to be done. Colonel Clinch determined to reduce the fort at any cost, although the operation promised to be a very difficult one.
Placing his men in line of battle, he sent a courier to the fleet, ordering the gun-boats to come up and help in the attack. The Seminoles made many demonstrations against the works, and the negroes replied with their cannon. Garcon had raised his flags—a red one and a British Union-jack—and whenever he caught sight of the Indians or the Americans, he shelled them vigorously with his 32-pounder.
Three or four days were passed in this way, while the gun-boats were slowly making their way up the river. It was Colonel Clinch's purpose to have the gun-boats shell the fort, while he should storm it on the land side. The work promised to be bloody, and it was necessary to bring all the available force to bear at once. There were no siege-guns at hand, or anywhere within reach, and the only way to reduce the fort was for the small force of soldiers—numbering only one hundred and sixteen men—to rush upon it, receiving the fire of its heavy artillery, and climb over its parapets in the face of a murderous fire of small-arms. Garcon had with him three hundred and thirty-four men, so that, besides having strong defensive works and an abundant supply of large cannon, his force outnumbered Colonel Clinch's nearly three to one. It is true that the American officer had the band of Seminoles with him, but they were entirely worthless for determined work of the kind that the white men had to do. Even while lying in the woods at a distance, waiting for the gun-boats to come up, the Indians became utterly demoralized under the fire of Garcon's 32-pounder. There was nothing to be done, however, by way of improving the prospect, which was certainly hopeless enough. One hundred and sixteen white men had the Negro Fort to storm, notwithstanding its strength and the overwhelming force that defended it. But those one hundred and sixteen men were American soldiers, under command of a brave and resolute officer, who had made up his mind that the fort could be taken, and they were prepared to follow their leader up to the muzzle of the guns and over the ramparts, there to fight the question out in a hand-to-hand struggle with the desperadoes inside.
Finally the gun-boats arrived, and preparations were made for the attack. Sailing-master Jairus Loomis, the commandant of the little fleet, cast his anchors under the guns of the Negro Fort at five o'clock in the morning on the 27th of July, 1816. The fort at once opened fire, and it seemed impossible for the little vessels to endure the storm of shot and shell that rained upon them from the ramparts above. They replied vigorously, however, but with no effect. Their guns were too small to make any impression upon the heavy earthen walls of the fortress.
Sailing-master Loomis had roused his ship's cook early that morning, and had given him a strange breakfast to cook. He had ordered him to make all the fire he could in his galley, and to fill the fire with cannon-balls. Not long after the bombardment began the cook reported that breakfast was ready; that is to say, that the cannon-balls were red-hot. Loomis trained one of his guns with his own hands so that its shot should fall within the fort, instead of burying itself in the ramparts, and this gun was at once loaded with a red-hot shot. The word was given, the match applied, and the glowing missile sped on its way. A few seconds later the earth shook and quivered, a deafening roar stunned the sailors, and a vast cloud of smoke filled the air, shutting out the sun.
The hot shot had fallen into the great magazine, where there were hundreds of barrels of gunpowder, and the Negro Fort was no more. It had been literally blown to atoms in a second.
The slaughter was frightful. There were, as we know already, three hundred and thirty-four men in the fort, and two hundred and seventy of them were killed outright by the explosion. All the rest, except three men who miraculously escaped injury, were wounded, most of them so badly that they died soon afterwards.
One of the three men who escaped the explosion unhurt was Garcon himself. Bad as this bandit chief was, Colonel Clinch would have spared his life, but it happened that he fell into the hands of the sailors from the gun-boat; and when they learned that Garcon had tarred and burned their comrades whom he had captured in the attack on Luffborough's boat, they turned him over to the infuriated Seminoles, who put him to death in their own cruel way.
This is the history of a strange affair, which at one time promised to give the government of the United States no little trouble, even threatening to involve us in a war with Spain, for the fort was on Spanish territory, and the Spaniards naturally resented an invasion of their soil.
A WAR FOR AN ARCHBISHOP.
THE CURIOUS STORY OF VLADIMIR THE GREAT.
In the latter part of the tenth century Sviatozlaf was Grand Prince of Russia. He was a powerful prince, but a turbulent one, and he behaved so ill towards his neighbors that, when an opportunity offered, one of them converted his skull into a gold-mounted drinking-cup, with an inscription upon it, and his dominions were parcelled out between his three sons—Yaropolk, Oleg, and Vladimir.
Yaropolk, finding his possessions too small for his ambition, made war on Oleg, and conquered his territory; but his brother Oleg having been killed in the war, the tender-hearted Yaropolk wept bitterly over his corpse.
The other brother, Vladimir, was so grieved at the death of Oleg that he abandoned his capital, Novgorod, and remained for a time in seclusion. Yaropolk seized the opportunity thus offered, and made himself master of Vladimir's dominions also. Not long afterwards Vladimir appeared at the head of an army, and Yaropolk ran away to his own capital, Kiev. Vladimir at once resumed the throne, and sent word to Yaropolk that he would in due time return the hostile visit.
About this time Yaropolk and Vladimir both asked for the hand of the Princess Rogneda, of Polotzk, in marriage; and the father of the princess, fearing to offend either of the royal barbarians, left the choice to Rogneda herself. She chose Yaropolk, sending a very insulting message to Vladimir, whereupon that prince marched against Polotzk, conquered the province, and with his own hand slew the father and brothers of the princess. Then, with their blood still unwashed from his hands, he forced Rogneda to marry him.
Having attended to this matter, Vladimir undertook to return his brother's hostile visit, as he had promised to do. Yaropolk's capital, Kiev, was a strongly fortified place, and capable of a stout resistance; but Vladimir corrupted Blude, one of Yaropolk's ministers, paying him to betray his master, and promising, in the event of success, to heap honors on his head. Blude worked upon Yaropolk's fears, and persuaded him to abandon the capital without a struggle, and Vladimir took possession of the throne and the country. Even in his exile, however, Yaropolk had no peace. Blude frightened him with false stories, and persuaded him to remove from place to place, until his mind and body were worn out, when, at Blude's suggestion, he determined to surrender himself, and trust to the mercy of Vladimir. That good-natured brother ordered the betrayed and distressed prince to be put to death.
Then Vladimir rewarded Blude. He entertained him in princely fashion, declaring to his followers that he was deeply indebted to this man for his faithful services, and heaping all manner of honors upon him. But at the end of three days he said to Blude: "I have kept my promise strictly. I have received you with welcome, and heaped unwonted honors upon your head. This I have done as your friend. To-day, as judge, I condemn the traitor and the murderer of his prince." He ordered that Blude should suffer instant death, and the sentence was executed.
Now that both Oleg and Yaropolk were dead, Vladimir was Grand Prince of all the Russias, as his father before him had been. He invaded Poland, and made war upon various others of his neighbors, greatly enlarging his dominions and strengthening his rule.
But Vladimir was a very pious prince in his heathen way, and feeling that the gods had greatly favored him, he made rich feasts of thanksgiving in their honor. He ordered splendid memorials to various deities to be erected throughout the country, and he specially honored Perune, the father of the gods, for whom he provided a new pair of golden whiskers—golden whiskers being the special glory of Perune.
Not content with this, Vladimir ordered a human sacrifice to be made, and selected for the victim a Christian youth of the capital. The father of the boy resisted, and both were slain, locked in each other's arms.
Vladimir gave vast sums of money to the religious establishments, and behaved generally like a very devout pagan. His piety and generosity made him so desirable a patron that efforts were made by the priests of other religions to convert him. Jews, Mohammedans, Catholics, and Greeks all sought to win him, and Vladimir began seriously to consider the question of changing his religion. He appointed a commission, consisting of ten boyards, and ordered them to examine into the comparative merits of the different religions, and to report to him. When their report was made, Vladimir weighed the matter carefully.
He began by rejecting Mohammedanism, because it forbids the use of wine, and Vladimir was not at all disposed to become a water-drinker. Judaism, he said, was a homeless religion, its followers being wanderers on the face of the earth, under a curse; so he would have nothing to do with that faith. The Catholic religion would not do at all, because it recognized in the pope a superior to himself, and Vladimir had no mind to acknowledge a superior. The Greek religion was free from these objections, and moreover, by adopting it he would bring himself into friendship with the great Greek or Byzantine Empire, whose capital was at Constantinople, and that was something which he earnestly desired to accomplish.
Accordingly, he determined to become a Christian and a member of the Greek Church; but how? There were serious difficulties in the way. In order to become a Christian he must be baptized, and he was puzzled about how to accomplish that. There were many Greek priests in his capital, any one of whom would have been glad to baptize the heathen monarch, but Vladimir would not let a mere priest convert him into a Christian. Nobody less than an archbishop would do for that, and there was no archbishop in Russia.
It is true that there were plenty of archbishops in the dominions of his Byzantine neighbors, and that the Greek emperors, Basil and Constantine, would have been glad to send him a dozen of them if he had expressed a wish to that effect; but Vladimir was proud, and could not think of asking a favor of anybody, least of all of the Greek emperors. No, he would die a heathen rather than ask for an archbishop to baptize him.
Nevertheless, Vladimir had fully made up his mind to have himself baptized by an archbishop. It was his lifelong habit, when he wanted anything, to take it by force. He had taken two thirds of his dominions in that way, and, as we have seen, it was in that way that he got his wife Rogneda. So now that he wanted an archbishop, he determined to take one. Calling his army together, he declared war on the Greek emperors, and promising his soldiers all the pillage they wanted, he marched away towards Constantinople.
The first serious obstacle he met with was the fortified city of Kherson, situated near the spot where Sebastopol stands in our day. Here the resistance was so obstinate that month after month was consumed in siege operations. At the end of six months Vladimir became seriously alarmed lest the garrison should be succored from without, in which case his hope of getting himself converted into a Christian must be abandoned altogether.
While he was troubled on this score, however, one of his soldiers picked up an arrow that had been shot from the city, and found a letter attached to it. This letter informed the Grand Prince that the water-pipes of the city received their supplies at a point immediately in his rear, and with this news Vladimir's hope of becoming a Christian revived. He found the water-pipes and stopped them up, and the city surrendered.
There were plenty of bishops and archbishops there, of course, and they were perfectly willing—as they had been from the first, for that matter—to baptize the unruly royal convert, but Vladimir was not content now with that. He sent a messenger to Constantinople to tell the emperors there that he wanted their sister, the Princess Anne, for a wife; and that if they refused, he would march against Constantinople itself. The Emperors Basil and Constantine consented, and although Vladimir had five wives already, he married Anne, and was baptized on the same day.
Having now become a Christian, the Grand Prince determined that his Russians should do the same. He publicly stripped the god Perune of his gorgeous golden whiskers, and of his rich vestments, showing the people that Perune was only a log of wood. Then he had the deposed god whipped in public, and thrown into the river, with all the other gods.
He next ordered all the people of his capital city to assemble on the banks of the Dnieper River, and, at a signal, made them all rush into the water, while a priest pronounced the baptismal service over the whole population of the city at once. It was the most wholesale baptism ever performed.
That is the way in which Russia was changed from a pagan to a Christian empire. The story reads like a romance, but it is plain, well-authenticated history. For his military exploits the Russian historians call this prince Vladimir the Great. The people call him St. Vladimir, the Greek Church having enrolled his name among the saints soon after his death. He was undoubtedly a man of rare military skill, and unusual ability in the government of men. Bad as his acts were, he seems to have had a conscience, and to have done his duty so far as he was capable of understanding it.
THE BOY COMMANDER OF THE CAMISARDS.
When Louis XIV. was King of France, that country was generally Catholic, as it is still, but in the rugged mountain region called the Cevennes more than half the people were Protestants. At first the king consented that these Protestant people, who were well behaved both in peace and in war, should live in quiet, and worship as they pleased; but in those days men were not tolerant in matters of religion, as they are now, and so after a while King Louis made up his mind that he would compel all his people to believe alike. The Protestants of the Cevennes were required to give up their religion and to become Catholics. When they refused, soldiers were sent to compel them, and great cruelties were practised upon them. Many of them were killed, many put in prison, and many sent to work in the galleys.
When this persecution had lasted for nearly thirty years, a body of young men who were gathered together in the High Cevennes resolved to defend themselves by force. They secured arms, and although their numbers were very small, they met and fought the troops.
Among these young men was one, a mere boy, named Jean Cavalier. His home was in the Lower Cevennes, but he had fled to the highlands for safety. This boy, without knowing it, had military genius of a very high order, and when it became evident that he and his comrades could not long hold out against the large bodies of regular troops sent against them, he suggested a plan which in the end proved to be so good that for years the poor peasants were able to maintain war against all the armies that King Louis could send against them, although he sent many of his finest generals and as many as sixty thousand men to subdue them.
Cavalier's plan was to collect more men, divide, and make uprisings in several places at once, so that the king's officers could not tell in which way to turn. As he and his comrades knew the country well, and had friends to tell them of the enemy's movements, they could nearly always know when it was safe to attack, and when they must hide in the woods.
Cavalier took thirty men and went into one part of the country, while Captain La Porte, with a like number, went to another, and Captain St. John to still another. They kept each other informed of all movements, and whenever one was pressed by the enemy, the others would begin burning churches or attacking small garrisons. The enemy would thus be compelled to abandon the pursuit of one party in order to go after the others, and it soon became evident that under Cavalier's lead the peasants were too wily and too strong for the soldiers. Sometimes Cavalier would fairly beat detachments of his foes, and give them chase, killing all whom he caught; for in that war both sides did this, even killing their prisoners without mercy. At other times Cavalier was worsted in fight, and when that was the case he fled to the woods, collected more men, and waited for another chance.
Without trying to write an orderly history of the war, for which there is not space enough here, I shall now tell some stories of Cavalier's adventures, drawing the information chiefly from a book which he himself wrote years afterwards, when he was a celebrated man and a general in the British army.
One Sunday Cavalier, who was a preacher as well as a soldier, held services in his camp in the woods, and all the Protestant peasants in the neighborhood attended. The Governor of Alais, whose name was De la Hay, thought this a good opportunity not only to defeat Cavalier's small force, but also to catch the Protestant women and children in the act of attending a Protestant service, the punishment for which was death. He collected a force of about six hundred men, cavalry and infantry, and marched towards the wood, where he knew he should outnumber the peasants three or four to one. He had a mule loaded with ropes, declaring that he was going to hang all the rebels at once.
When news of De la Hay's coming was brought to the peasants, they sent away all the country people, women, and children, and began to discuss the situation. They had no commander, for although Cavalier had led them generally, he had no authority to do so. Everything was voluntary, and everything a subject of debate. On this occasion many thought it best to retreat at once, as there were less than two hundred of them; but Cavalier declared that if they would follow him, he would lead them to a place where victory might be won. They consented, and he advanced to a point on the road where he could shelter his men. Quickly disposing them in line of battle behind some defences, he awaited the coming of the enemy.
De la Hay, being over-confident because of his superior numbers, blundered at the outset. Instead of attacking first with his infantry, he placed his horsemen in front, and ordered an assault. Cavalier was quick to take advantage of this blunder. He ordered only a few of his men to fire, and this drew a volley from the advancing horsemen, which did little damage to the sheltered troops, but emptied the horsemen's weapons. Instantly Cavalier ordered a charge and a volley, and the horsemen, with empty pistols, gave way, Cavalier pursuing them. De la Hay's infantry, being just behind the horsemen, were ridden down by their own friends, and became confused and panic-stricken. Cavalier pursued hotly, his men throwing off their coats to lighten themselves, and giving the enemy no time to rally. A reinforcement two hundred strong, coming up, tried to check Cavalier's charge; but so impetuous was the onset that those fresh troops gave way in their turn, and the chase ended only when the king's men had shut themselves up in the fortified towns. Cavalier had lost only five or six men, the enemy losing a hundred killed and many more wounded. Cavalier captured a large quantity of arms and ammunition, of which he was in sore need.
When the battle was over it was decided unanimously to make Cavalier the commander. He refused, however, to accept the responsibility unless it could be accompanied with power to enforce obedience, and his troops at once voted to make his authority absolute, even to the decision of questions of life and death. According to the best authorities, Cavalier was only seventeen years old when this absolute command was conferred upon him. How skilfully he used the scant means at his disposal we shall see hereafter.
On one occasion Cavalier attacked a party of forty men who were marching through the country to reinforce a distant post, and killed most of them. While searching the dead bodies, he found in the pocket of the commanding officer an order signed by Count Broglio, the king's lieutenant, directing all military officers and town authorities to lodge and feed the party on their march. No sooner had the boy soldier read this paper than he resolved to turn it to his own advantage in a daring and dangerous way.
The castle of Servas, near Alais, had long been a source of trouble to him. It was a strong place, built upon a steep hill, and was so difficult of approach that it would have been madness to try to take it by force. This castle stood right in the line of Cavalier's communications with his friends, near a road which he was frequently obliged to pass, and its presence there was a source of annoyance and danger to him. Moreover, its garrison of about forty men were constantly plundering and murdering Cavalier's friends in the country round about, and giving timely notice to his enemies of his own military movements.
When he found the order referred to, he resolved to pretend that he was Count Broglio's nephew, the dead commander of the detachment which he had just destroyed. Dressing himself in that officer's clothes, he ordered his men to put on the clothing of the other dead royalists. Then he took six of his best men, with their own Camisard uniforms on, and bound them with ropes, to represent prisoners. One of them had been wounded in the arm, and his bloody sleeve helped the stratagem. Putting these six men at the head of his troop, with a guard of their disguised comrades over them, he marched towards the Castle of Servas. There he declared himself to be Count Broglio's nephew, and said that he had met a company of the Barbets, or Camisards, and had defeated them, taking six prisoners; that he was afraid to keep these prisoners in the village overnight lest their friends should rescue them; and that he wished to lodge them in the castle for safety. When the governor of the castle heard this story, and saw the order of Count Broglio, he was completely imposed upon. He ordered the prisoners to be brought into the castle, and invited Cavalier to be his guest there for the night. Taking two of his officers with him, Cavalier went into the castle to sup with the governor. During supper several of his soldiers, who were encamped just outside, went into the castle upon pretence of getting wine or bread, and when five or six of them were in, at a signal from Cavalier, they overpowered the sentinels and threw the gates open. The rest of the troop rushed in at once, and before the garrison could seize their arms the boy commander was master of the fortress. He put the garrison to the sword, and, hastily collecting all the arms, ammunition, and provisions he could find, set fire to the castle and marched away. When the fire reached the powder magazine the whole fortress was blown to fragments, and a post which had long annoyed and endangered the Camisards was no more.
On another occasion, finding himself short of ammunition, Cavalier resolved to take some by force and stratagem from the strongly fortified town of Savnes. His first care was to send a detachment of forty men to a point at some distance, with orders to burn a church which had lately been fortified, "thereby," he says, "to make the inhabitants of Savnes believe we were busy in another place." Then he detached an officer and fifty men, and ordered them to disguise themselves as country militia in the king's service, and to go into Savnes in that character. With some difficulty this officer accomplished his purpose, and then Roland and Cavalier marched upon the place. His officer inside the town, when the alarm was given, said to the governor, "Let them come; you'll see how I'll receive them." Anxious for his own safety, the governor permitted the supposed officer of militia to take charge of the defence, and the armed citizens put themselves under his command. He instructed the citizens to reserve their fire until he should give them orders, and in that way enabled Cavalier to approach unharmed. Suddenly the officer, directing the aim of his men against the citizens, ordered them to throw down their arms upon pain of instant death, and they, seeing themselves caught in a trap, obeyed. Cavalier marched in without opposition, secured all that he could carry away of arms, ammunition, and provisions, and retired to the woods.
Throughout the summer and autumn the boy carried on his part of the war, nearly always getting the better of his enemies by his shrewdness and valor, and when that was impossible, eluding them with equal shrewdness. During that first campaign he destroyed many fortified places, won many fights against superior numbers of regular troops, and killed far more soldiers for the enemy than he had under his own command. Failing to conquer him by force or strategy, his foes fell back upon the confident hope of starving him during the winter, for he must pass the winter in the forests, with no bases of supply to draw upon for either food or ammunition. But in indulging this hope his enemies forgot that the crown and glory of his achievements in the field had been his marvellous fertility of resource. The very qualities which had made him formidable in fight were his safeguard for the winter. He knew quite as well as they did that he must live all winter in the woods surrounded by foes, and, knowing the difficulty of doing so, he gave his whole mind to the question of how to do it.
He began during the harvest to make his preparations. He explored all the caves in the mountains, and selected the most available ones for use as magazines, taking care to have them in all parts of the mountains, so that if cut off from one he could draw upon another. In these caves he stored great quantities of grain and other provisions, and during the winter, whenever he needed meal, some of his men, who were millers, would carry grain to some lonely country mill and grind it. To prevent this, the king's officers ordered that all the country mills should be disabled and rendered unfit for use; but before the order could be executed, Cavalier directed some of his men, who were skilled machinists, to disable two or three of the mills by carrying away the essential parts of their machinery and storing them in his caves. Then, when he wanted meal, his machinists had only to replace the machinery in some disabled mill, and remove it again after his millers had done the necessary grinding. His bakers made use of farmers' ovens to bake bread in, and when the king's soldiers, hearing of this, destroyed the ovens, Cavalier sent his masons—for he had all sorts of craftsmen in his ranks—to rebuild them.
Having two powder-makers with him, he collected saltpetre, burned willow twigs for charcoal, and made all the powder he needed in his caves. Before doing so he had been obliged to resort to many devices in order to get powder, sometimes disguising himself as a merchant and going into a town and buying small quantities at a time, so that suspicion might not be awakened, until he secured enough to fill his portmanteau.
For bullets he melted down the leaden weights of windows, and when that source of supply failed he melted pewter vessels and used pewter bullets—a fact which gave rise to the belief that he used poisoned balls. Finally, in a dyer's establishment, he had the good luck to find two great leaden kettles, weighing more than seven hundred quintals, which, he says, "I caused immediately to be carried into the magazines with as much diligence and care as if they had been silver."
Chiefly by Cavalier's tireless energy and wonderful military skill, the war was kept up against fearful odds for years, and finally the young soldier succeeded in making a treaty of peace in which perfect liberty of conscience and worship—which was all he had been fighting for—was guaranteed to the Protestants of the Cevennes. His friends rejected this treaty, however, and Cavalier soon afterwards went to Holland, where he was given command of a regiment in the English service. His career in arms was a brilliant one, so brilliant that the British made him a general and governor of the island of Jersey; but he nowhere showed greater genius or manifested higher soldierly qualities than during the time when he was the Boy Commander of the Camisards.
THE CANOE FIGHT.
AN INCIDENT OF THE CREEK WAR.
The smallest naval battle ever fought in the world, perhaps, occurred on the Alabama River on the 13th of November, 1813, between two canoes, and this is the way in which it happened.
The United States were at war with Great Britain at that time, and a war with Spain was also threatened. The British had stirred up the Indians in the Northwest to make war upon the whites, and in 1813 they persuaded the Creek Indians of Alabama and Mississippi to begin a war there.
The government troops were so busy with the British in other quarters of the country that very little could be done for the protection of the white settlers in the Southwest, and for a good while they had to take care of themselves in the best way they could. Leaving their homes, they gathered together here and there and built rude stockade forts, in which they lived, with all their women and children. All the men, including all the boys who were old enough to pull a trigger—and frontier boys learn to use a gun very early in life—were organized into companies of volunteer soldiers.
At Fort Madison, one of the smallest of the forts, there was a very daring frontiersman, named Samuel (or Sam) Dale—a man who had lived much with the Indians, and was like them in many respects, even in his dress and manners. Hearing that the Indians were in force on the southeastern bank of the Alabama River, the people in Fort Madison were greatly alarmed, fearing that all the crops in that region—which were ripe in the fields—would be destroyed. If that should occur, they knew they must starve during the coming winter, and so they made up their minds to drive the savages away, at least until they could gather the corn.
Captain Dale at once made up a party, consisting of seventy-two men, all volunteers. With this force he set out on the 11th of November, taking Tandy Walker, a celebrated scout, for his guide. The column marched to the Alabama River, and crossed it at a point about twenty miles below the present town of Claiborne.
Once across the river, Dale knew that he was among the Indians, and, knowing their ways, he was as watchful as if he had been one of them himself. He forbade his men to sleep at all during the night after crossing the river, and kept them under arms, in expectation of an attack.
No attack being made, he moved up the river the next morning, marching most of the men, but ordering Jerry Austill, with six men, to paddle up in two canoes that had been found. This Jerry Austill—who afterwards became a merchant in Mobile and a state senator—was a boy only nineteen years of age at the time, but he had already distinguished himself in the war by his courage.
At a point called Peggy Bailey's Bluff, Dale, who was marching with one man several hundreds of yards ahead of his men, came upon a party of Indians at breakfast. He shot one of them, and the rest ran away, leaving their provisions behind them. Securing the provisions, Dale marched on for a mile or two, but, finding no further trace of Indians, he concluded that the country on that side of the river was now pretty clear of them, and so he set to work to cross to the other side, meaning to look for enemies there.
The river at that point is about a quarter of a mile wide, and, as there were only two small canoes at hand, the work of taking the men across was very slow. When all were over except Dale and about a dozen others, the little remnant of the force was suddenly attacked.
The situation was a very dangerous one. With the main body of his command on the other side of the river, where it could give him no help, Dale had to face a large body of Indians with only a dozen men, and, as only one canoe remained on his side of the river, it was impossible for the whole of the little party to escape by flight, as the canoe would not hold them all.
Concealing his men in the bushes, behind trees, and under the river-bank, he replied to the fire of the Indians, and kept them at bay. But it was certain that this could not last long. The Indians must soon find out from the firing how small the number of their adversaries was; and Dale knew that as soon as the discovery was made, they would rush upon him, and put the whole party to death.
He called to the men on the other side of the river to come over and help him, but they were panic-stricken, probably because they could see, as Dale could not, how large a body of Indians was pressing their commander. The men on the other bank did, indeed, make one or two slight attempts to cross, but those came to nothing, and the little party on the eastern shore seemed doomed to destruction.
Bad as matters were with Dale, they soon became worse. An immense canoe, more than thirty feet long and four feet deep, came down the river, bearing eleven warriors, who undertook to land and attack Dale in the rear. This compelled the party to fight in two directions at once. Dale and his companions kept up the battle in front, while Jerry Austill, James Smith, and one other man fought the warriors in the canoe to keep them from landing. One of the eleven was killed, and another swam ashore and succeeded in joining the Indians on the bank.
Seeing how desperate the case was, Dale resolved upon a desperate remedy. He called for volunteers for a dangerous piece of work, and was at once joined by Jerry Austill, James Smith, and a negro man whose name was Caesar. With these men he leaped into the little canoe, and paddled towards the big Indian boat, meaning to fight the nine Indians who remained in it, although he and his canoe party numbered only four men all told.
As the two canoes approached each other, both parties tried to fire, but their gunpowder was wet, and so they grappled for a hand-to-hand battle. Jerry Austill, being in front, received the first attack. No sooner did the two canoes touch than an Indian sprang forward, and dealt the youth a terrible blow with a war-club, knocking him down, and making a dent in his skull which he carried through life. Once down, he would have been killed but for the quickness of Smith, who, seeing the danger his companion was in, raised his rifle. With a single blow he knocked over the Indian with whom Austill was struggling.
Then Austill rose, and the fierce contest went on. Dale and his men rained their blows upon their foes, and received blows quite as lusty in return, but Caesar managed the boat so skilfully that, in spite of the superior numbers of the Indians, the fight was not very unequal. He held the little boat against the big one, but kept it at the end, so that the Indians in the other end of the big canoe could not reach Dale's men.
In this way those that were actually fighting Dale, Austill, and Smith never numbered more than three or four at any one time, and so the three could not be borne down by mere force of numbers. Dale stood for a time with one foot in each boat; then he stepped over into the Indian canoe, giving his comrades more room, and crowding the Indians towards the end of their boat.
One by one the savages fell, until only one was left facing Dale, who held Caesar's gun, with bayonet attached, in his hand. This sole survivor was Tar-cha-chee, an Indian with whom Dale had hunted and lived, one whom he regarded as a friend, and whom he now wished to spare. But the savage was strong within the Indian's breast, and he refused to accept mercy even from a man who had been his comrade and friend. Standing erect in the bow of the canoe, he shook himself, and said, in the Muscogee tongue, "Big Sam, you are a man, I am another; now for it."
With that he rushed forward, only to meet death at the hands of the friend who would gladly have spared him.
The canoe fight was ended, but Dale's work was not yet done. His party on the bank were every minute more closely pressed, and if they were to be saved it must be done quickly. For this purpose he and his companions at once began clearing the big canoe of its load of dead Indians. Now that only the white men were there, the Indians upon the bank directed a galling fire upon the canoe, but by careening it to one side Dale made a sort of breastwork of its thick gunwale, and thus succeeded in clearing it. When this was done he went ashore and quickly carried off the party there, landing all of them in safety on the other side.
The hero of this singular battle lived until the year 1841. The whole story of his life is a romance of hardship, daring, and wonderful achievement. When he died, General John F. H. Claiborne, who knew him intimately, wrote a sketch of his career for a Natchez newspaper, in which he described him as follows:
"In person General Dale was tall, erect, raw-boned, and muscular. In many respects, physical and moral, he resembled his antagonists of the woods. He had the square forehead, the high cheek-bones, the compressed lips, and, in fact, the physiognomy of an Indian, relieved, however, by a firm, benevolent Saxon eye. Like the red men, too, his foot fell lightly upon the ground, and turned neither to the right nor left. He was habitually taciturn, his face grave, he spoke slowly and in low tones, and he seldom laughed. I observed of him what I have often noted as peculiar to border men of high attributes: he entertained the strongest attachment for the Indians, extolled their courage, their love of country, and many of their domestic qualities; and I have often seen the wretched remnant of the Choctaws camped round his plantation and subsisting on his crops."
It is a curious fact that after the war ended, when Weatherford (Red Eagle), who commanded the Indians on the shore in this battle with Dale, was about to marry, he asked Dale to act as his best man, and the two who had fought each other so desperately stood side by side, as devoted friends, at the altar.
THE BATTLE OF LAKE BORGNE.
HOW THE BRITISH MADE A LANDING UNDER DIFFICULTIES.
When the British made up their minds, near the end of the year 1814, to take New Orleans, and thus to get control of the Mississippi River, there seemed to be very little difficulty in their way.
So far as anybody on either side could see, their only trouble was likely to be in making a landing. If they could once get their splendid army on shore anywhere near the city, there was very little to prevent them from taking the town, and if they had taken it, it is easy to see that the whole history of the United States would have been changed.
They did make a landing, but they did not take New Orleans, and in the story of "The Battle in the Dark" I shall tell how and why they failed. In the present story I want to tell how they landed.
The expedition consisted of a large fleet bearing a large army. At first the intention was to sail up the Mississippi River, but General Jackson made that impossible by building strong forts on the stream, and so it was necessary to try some other plan.
It happens that New Orleans has two entrances from the sea. The river flows in front of the city, and by that route it is about a hundred miles from the city to the sea; but just behind the town, only a few miles away, lies a great bay called Lake Pontchartrain. This bay is connected by a narrow strait with another bay called Lake Borgne, which is connected directly with the sea.
Lake Borgne is very shallow, but the British knew little about it. They only knew that if they could land anywhere on the banks of Lake Borgne or Lake Pontchartrain they would be within an easy march of New Orleans.
Accordingly, the fleet bearing the British army, instead of entering the mouth of the Mississippi, and trying to get to New Orleans in front, sailed in by the back way, and anchored near the entrance of Lake Borgne.
Here the British had their first sight of the preparations made to resist them. Six little gun-boats, carrying twenty-three guns in all, were afloat on the lake under command of Lieutenant Thomas Ap Catesby Jones. These gun-boats were mere mosquitoes in comparison with the great British men-of-war, and when they made their appearance in the track of the invading fleet, the British laughed and wondered at the foolhardiness of the American commander in sending such vessels there.
Lieutenant Thomas Ap Catesby Jones knew what he was about, however, as the British soon found out. He sailed up almost within cannon-shot of the enemy's ships, and they, of course, gave chase to him. Then he nimbly sailed away, with the fleet after him. Very soon a large man-of-war ran aground; then another and another struck the bottom, and the British Admiral began to understand the trick. It was evident that Lake Borgne was much too shallow for the large ships, and so the commander called a halt, and transferred the troops to the smaller vessels of the fleet.
When that was done the chase was begun again by the smaller ships, and for a time with every prospect of success; but presently even these ships were hard aground, and the whole British fleet which had been intended to carry the army across the lake was stuck fast in the mud near the entrance, and thirty miles from the point at which the landing was to be made.
The British commander was at his wits' end. It was clear that the ships could not cross the lake, and the only thing to be done was to transport the army across little by little in the ships' boats, and make a landing in that way. But to do that while Lieutenant Jones and his gun-boats were afloat was manifestly impossible. If it had been attempted, the little gun-boats, which could sail anywhere on the lake, would have destroyed the British army by boat-loads.
There was nothing to be done until the saucy little fleet was out of the way, and to put it out of the way was not easy.
Lieutenant Jones was an officer very much given to hard fighting, and in this case the British saw that they must fight him at a disadvantage. As they could not get to him in their ships, they must make an attack in open boats, which, of course, was a very dangerous thing to do, as the American gun-boats were armed with cannon.
The British commander wanted his bravest men for such work, and so he called for volunteers to man the boats. A thousand gallant fellows offered themselves, and were placed in fifty boats, under command of Captain Lockyer. Each boat was armed with a carronade—a kind of small cannon—but the men well knew that the real fighting was not to be done with carronades. The only hope of success lay in a sudden, determined attack. The only way to capture the American gun-boats was to row up to them in the face of their fire, climb over their sides, and take them by force in a hand-to-hand fight.
When the flotilla set sail, on the 14th of December, Lieutenant Jones knew what their mode of attack would be quite as well as Captain Lockyer did. If he let them attack him in the open lake he knew very well that the British could overpower him and capture his fleet; but he did not intend to be attacked in the open lake if he could help it. His plan was to sail slowly, keeping just out of reach of the row-boats, and gradually to draw them to the mouth of the strait which leads into Lake Pontchartrain. At that point there was a well-armed fort, and if he could anchor his gun-boats across the narrow channel, he believed he could destroy the British flotilla with the aid of the fort, and thus beat off the expedition from New Orleans.
Unluckily, while the fleet was yet far from the mouth of the strait the wind failed entirely, and the gun-boats were helpless. They could not sail without wind, and they must receive the attack right where they were.
At daylight on the morning of December 15 the British flotilla was about nine miles away, but was rapidly drawing nearer, the boats being propelled by oars. Lieutenant Jones called the commanders of his gun-boats together, gave them instructions, and informed them of his purpose to make as obstinate a fight as possible. His case was hopeless; his fleet would be captured, but by fighting obstinately he could at least gain time for General Jackson at New Orleans, and time was greatly needed there.
Meanwhile the British boats, carrying a thousand men, all accustomed to desperate fighting, approached and anchored just out of gunshot. Captain Lockyer wished his men to go into action in the best condition possible, and therefore he came to anchor in order to rest the oarsmen, and to give the men time for breakfast.
At half-past ten o'clock the British weighed anchor, and, forming in line, began the advance. As soon as they came within range the American gun-boats opened fire, but with little effect at first. Of course the British could not reply at such a distance, but being under fire, their chief need was to go forward as fast and come to close quarters as quickly as possible. The sailors bent to their oars, and the boats flew over the water. Soon the men at the bows began to fire the carronades in reply to the American cannon. Then as the boats drew nearer, small arms came into use, and the battle grew fiercer with every moment. The British boats were with difficulty kept in line, and their advance grew slower. Oarsmen were killed, and time was lost in putting others into their places. Still the line was preserved, and the battle went on, the attacking boats slowly and steadily advancing all the time.
Two of the American gun-boats had drifted out of place, and were considerably in advance of the rest. Seeing this, Captain Lockyer ordered the men commanding the British boats to surround them, and a few minutes later the sailors were climbing over the sides of these vessels. Their attack was stoutly resisted. The American sailors above them fired volleys into their faces, and beat them back with handspikes. Scores of the British fell back into the water dead or wounded, while their comrades pressed forward to fill their places. There were so many of them that in spite of all the Americans could do to beat them off they swarmed over the gunwales and gained the decks. Their work was not yet done, however. The Americans fiercely contested every inch of their advance, and the two parties hewed each other down with cutlasses, the Americans being slowly beaten back by superior numbers, but still obstinately fighting until they could fight no more.
One by one all the gun-boats were taken in this way, Lieutenant Jones's vessel holding out longest, and the Lieutenant himself fighting till he was stricken down with a severe wound.
Having thus cleared Lake Borgne, the British were free to begin the work of landing. It was a terrible undertaking, however—scarcely less so than the fight itself. The whole army had to be carried thirty miles in open boats and landed in a swamp. The men were drenched with rain, and, a frost coming on, their clothes were frozen on their bodies. There was no fuel to be had on the island where they made their first landing, and to their sufferings from cold was added severe suffering from hunger before supplies of food could be brought to them. Some of the sailors who were engaged in rowing the boats were kept at work for four days and nights without relief.
The landing was secured, however, and the British cared little for the sufferings it had cost them. They believed then that they had little more to do except to march twelve miles and take possession of the city, with its one hundred and fifty thousand bales of cotton and its ten thousand hogsheads of sugar. How it came about that they were disappointed is made clear in the next story.
THE BATTLE IN THE DARK.
HOW GENERAL JACKSON RECEIVED THE BRITISH.
When the British succeeded in taking Lieutenant Jones's little gun-boats and making a landing, after the manner described in the preceding story, they supposed that the hardest part of their work was done. It was not far from their landing-place to New Orleans, and there was nothing in their way. Their army numbered nearly twenty thousand men, and the men were the best soldiers that England had. Many of them were Wellington's veterans.
It seemed certain that such an army could march into New Orleans with very little trouble indeed, and everybody on both sides thought so—everybody, that is to say, but General Jackson. He meant to fight that question out, and as the Legislature and many of the people in the city would do nothing to help him, he put the town under martial law, and worked night and day to get together something like an army.
On the 23d of December, 1814, the British arrived at a point a few miles below the city, and went into camp about noon. As soon as Jackson heard of their arrival he said to the people around him, "Gentlemen, the British are below: we must fight them tonight."
He immediately ordered his troops forward. He had made a soldier of everybody who could carry a gun, and his little army was a curiously mixed collection of men. There were a few regulars, in uniform; there were some Mississippi troopers, and Coffee's Kentucky and Tennessee hunters, in hunting-shirts and jeans trousers; there were volunteers of all sorts from the streets of New Orleans—merchants, lawyers, laborers, clerks, and clergymen—armed with shot-guns, rifles, and old muskets; there were some criminals whom Jackson had released from prison on condition that they would fight; there was a battalion of free negroes, who were good soldiers; and, finally, there were about twenty Choctaw Indians.
With this mixed crowd Jackson had to fight the very best troops in the British army. Only about half of his men had ever heard a bullet whistle, and less than half of them were drilled and disciplined; but they were brave men who believed in their general, and they were about to fight for their country as brave men should. When all were counted—backwoodsmen, regulars, city volunteers, negroes, Indians, and all—the whole army numbered only 2131 men! But, weak as this force was, Jackson had made up his mind to fight with it. He knew that the British were too strong for him, but he knew too that every day would make them stronger, as more and more of their troops would come forward each day.
The British camp was nine miles below the city, on a narrow strip of land between the river and a swamp. Jackson sent a gun-boat, the Carolina, down the river, with orders to anchor in front of the camp and pour a fire of grape-shot into it. He sent Coffee across to the swamp, and ordered him to creep through the bushes, and thus get upon the right flank of the British. He kept the rest of his army under his own command, ready to advance from the front upon the enemy's position.
But no attack was to be made until after dark. The army was kept well out of sight, and the British had no suspicion that any attack was thought of. They did not regard Jackson's men as soldiers at all, but called them a posse comitatus of ragamuffins—that is to say, a mob of ragged citizens—and the most they expected such a mob to do was to wait somewhere below the city until the British soldiers should get ready to drive them away with a few volleys.
So the British lighted their camp-fires, stacked their arms for the night, and cooked their suppers. They meant to stay where they were for a day or two until the rest of their force could come up, and then they expected to march into the town and make themselves at home.
Night came on, and it was exceedingly dark. At half-past seven o'clock there came a flash and a roar. The Carolina, lying in the river, within a few hundred yards of the camp, had begun to pour her broadsides into the British quarters. Her cannon vomited fire, and sent a hail-storm of grape-shot into the camp, while the marines on board kept up a steady fire of small-arms.
The British were completely surprised, but they were cool-headed old soldiers, who were not to be scared by a surprise. They quickly formed a line on the bank, and, bringing up some cannon, gave battle to the saucy gun-boat.
For ten minutes this fight went on between the Americans on the river and the British on shore; then Jackson ordered his troops to advance. His columns rushed forward and fell upon the enemy, again surprising them, and forcing them to fight on two sides at once. Coffee, who was hidden over in the swamp, no sooner heard the roar of the Carolina's guns than he gave the word to advance, and, rushing out of the bushes, his rough Tennesseeans and Kentuckians attacked still another side of the enemy's position.
Still the sturdy British held their ground, and fought like the brave men and good soldiers that they were. It was too dark for anybody to see clearly what was going on. The lines on both sides were soon broken up into independent groups of soldiers, who could not see in what direction they were marching, or maintain anything like a regular fight. Regiments and battalions wandered about at their own discretion, fighting whatever bodies of the enemy they met, and sometimes getting hopelessly entangled with each other. Never was there so complete a jumble on a battle-field. Whenever two bodies of troops met, they had to call out to each other to find out whether they were friends or foes; then, if one body proved to be Americans and the other British, they delivered a volley, and rushed upon each other in a desperate struggle for mastery.
Sometimes a regiment would win success in one direction, and just as its enemy on that side was driven back, it would be attacked from the opposite quarter. Coffee's men were armed with squirrel rifles, which, of course, had no bayonets; but the men had their long hunting-knives, and with no better weapons than these they did not hesitate to make charge after charge upon the lines of gleaming bayonets.
The British suffered terribly from the first, but their steadiness was never lost for a moment. The mad onset of the Americans broke their lines, and in the darkness it was impossible to form them again promptly; but still the men kept up the fight, while the officers, as rapidly as they could, directed their detached columns towards protected positions.
Retreating slowly and in as good order as they could, the British got beyond the range of the Carolina's guns by nine o'clock, and, finding a position where a bank of earth served for a breastwork, they made a final stand there. It was impossible to drive them from such a position, and so, little by little, the Americans withdrew, and at ten o'clock the Battle in the Dark was at an end.
Now let us see what Jackson had gained or lost by this hasty attack. The British were still in a position to threaten New Orleans. They had not been driven away, and the rest of their large army, which had not yet come up, was hurrying forward to help them. They had lost a great many more men than Jackson had, but they could spare men better than he could, and they were not whipped by any means. Still, the attack was equal to a victory for the Americans. It is almost certain that if Jackson had waited another day before fighting he would have lost New Orleans, and the whole Southwest would have been overrun.
But, by making this night attack, he showed the British that he could and would fight; and they, finding what kind of a defence he meant to make, made up their minds to move slowly and cautiously. They waited for the rest of their force to come up, and while they were waiting and getting ready Jackson had more than two weeks' time in which to collect troops from the country north of him, to get arms and ammunition, and to throw up strong fortifications. When the British made their grand attack on the 8th of January, 1815, they found Jackson ready for them. His army was increased, his men were full of confidence, and, best of all, he had a line of strong earth-works to fight behind. It is commonly said that his fortifications were made of cotton-bales, but that is an error. When he first began to fortify, he used some cotton-bales, and some sugar, which, it was thought, would do instead of sand; but in some of the early skirmishes it was found that the sugar was useless, because it would not stop cannon-balls; while the cotton was worse, because it took fire, and nearly suffocated the men behind it with smoke. The cotton and sugar were at once thrown aside, and the battle of New Orleans was fought behind earth-works. In that battle the British were so badly worsted that they gave up all idea of taking New Orleans, which, a month before, they had believed it would be so easy to capture.
THE TROUBLESOME BURGHERS.
Philip van Artevelde was a Dutchman. His father, Jacob, had been Governor of Ghent, and had made himself a great name by leading a revolt against the Count of Flanders, and driving that tyrant out of the country on one occasion.
Philip was a quiet man, who attended to his own affairs and took no part in public business; but in the year 1381 the good people of Ghent found themselves in a very great difficulty. Their city was subject to the Count of Flanders, who oppressed them in every way. He and his nobles thought nothing of the common people, but taxed them heavily and interfered with their business.
The city of Bruges was the rival of Ghent, and in those days rivals in trade were enemies. The Bruges people were not satisfied with trying to make more money and get more business than Ghent could, but they wanted Ghent destroyed, and so they supported Count Louis in all that he did to injure their neighboring city.
Having this quarrel on their hands, the Ghent people did not know what to do. Count Louis was too strong for them, and they were very much afraid he would destroy their town and put the people to death.
A public meeting was held, and remembering how well old Jacob van Artevelde had served them against the father of Count Louis, they made his son Philip their captain, and told him he must manage this quarrel for them.
Philip undertook this duty, and tried to settle the trouble in some peaceable way; but the Count was angry, and would not listen to anything that Van Artevelde proposed. He said the Ghent people were rebels, and must submit without any conditions at all, and this the sturdy Ghent burghers refused to do.
Count Louis would not march against the town and give the people a fair chance to fight the matter out. He preferred to starve them, and for that purpose he put soldiers on all the roads leading towards Ghent, and refused to allow any provisions to be taken to the city.
The people soon ate up nearly all the food they had, and when the spring of 1382 came they were starving. Something must be done at once, and Philip van Artevelde decided that it was of no use to resist any longer. He took twelve deputies with him, and went to beg the Count for mercy. He offered to submit to any terms the Count might propose, if he would only promise not to put any of the people to death. Philip even offered himself as a victim, agreeing that the Count should banish him from the country as a punishment, if he would spare the people of the town. But the haughty Count would promise nothing. He said that all the people of Ghent from fifteen to sixty years old must march half-way to Bruges bareheaded, with no clothes on but their shirts, and each with a rope around his neck, and then he would decide how many of them he would put to death and how many he would spare.
The Count thought the poor Ghent people would have to submit to this, and he meant to put them all to death when they should thus come out without arms to surrender. He therefore called on his vassals to meet him in Bruges at Easter, and to go out with him to "destroy these troublesome burghers."
But the "troublesome burghers," as we shall see presently, were not the kind of men to walk out bareheaded, with ropes around their necks, and submit to destruction.
Philip van Artevelde returned sadly to Ghent, on the 29th of April, and told the people what the Count had said. Then the gallant old soldier Peter van den Bossche exclaimed:
"In a few days the town of Ghent shall be the most honored or the most humbled town in Christendom."
Van Artevelde called the burghers together, and told them what the situation was. There were 30,000 people in Ghent, and there was no food to be had for them. There was no hope that the Count would offer any better terms, or that anybody would come to their assistance. They must decide quickly what they would do, and Philip said there were three courses open to them. First, if they chose, they could wall up the gates of the town and die of starvation. Secondly, they could accept the Count's terms, march out with the ropes around their necks, and take whatever punishment the Count might put upon them. If they should decide to do that, Philip said he would offer himself to the Count to be hanged first. Thirdly, they could get together 5000 of their best men, march to Bruges, and fight the quarrel out.
The answer of the people was that Philip must decide for them, and he at once said, "Then we will fight."
The 5000 men were got together, and on the 1st of May they marched out of the town to win or lose the desperate battle. The priests of the city stood at the gates as the men marched out, and prayed for blessings upon them. The old men, the women, and the children cried out, "If you lose the battle you need not return to Ghent, for you will find your families dead in their homes."
The only food there was for these 5000 men was carried in five little carts, while on another cart two casks of wine were taken.
The next day Van Artevelde placed his little army in line on the common of Beverhoutsveld, at Oedelem, near Bruges. There was a marsh in front of them, and Van Artevelde protected their flank by a fortification consisting of the carts and some stakes driven into the ground. He then sent a messenger to the Count, begging him to pardon the people of Ghent, and, having done this, he ordered his men to go to sleep for the night.
At daybreak the next morning the little army was aroused to make final preparations for the desperate work before them. The priests exhorted the men to fight to the death, showing them how useless it would be to surrender or to run away, as they were sure to be put to death at any rate. Their only hope for life was in victory, and if they could not win that, it would be better to die fighting like men than to surrender and be put to death like dogs.
After these exhortations were given, seven gray friars said mass and gave the sacrament to all the soldiers. Then the five cart-loads of provisions and the two casks of wine were divided among the men, for their last breakfast. When that meal was eaten, the soldiers of Ghent had not an ounce of food left anywhere.
Meanwhile the Count called his men together in Bruges, and got them ready for battle; but the people of Bruges were so sure of easily destroying the little Ghent army that they would not wait for orders, but marched out shouting and singing and making merry.
As their column marched along the road in this noisy fashion, the "troublesome burghers" of Ghent suddenly sprang upon them, crying, "Ghent! Ghent!"
The charge was so sudden and so fierce that the Bruges people gave way, and fled in a panic towards the town, with Van Artevelde's men at their heels in hot pursuit. The Count's regular troops tried to make a stand, but the burghers of Ghent came upon them so furiously that they too became panic-stricken and fled. The Count himself ran with all his might, and as soon as he entered the city he ordered the gates to be shut. He was so anxious to save himself from the fury of Van Artevelde's soldiers that he wanted to close the gates at once and leave those of his own people who were still outside to their fate. But it was already too late. Van Artevelde's column had followed the retreating crowd so fast that it had already pushed its head into the town, and there was no driving it back. The five thousand "troublesome burghers," with their swords in their hands, and still crying "Ghent!" swarmed into Bruges, and quickly took possession of the town. The Count's army was utterly routed and scattered, and the Count himself would have been taken prisoner if one of the Ghent burghers had not hidden him and helped him to escape from the city.
Van Artevelde's soldiers, who had eaten the last of their food that morning in the belief that they would never eat another meal on earth, supped that night on the richest dishes that Bruges could supply; and now that the Count was overthrown, great wagon trains of provisions poured into poor, starving Ghent.
There was a great golden dragon on the belfry of Bruges, of which the Bruges people were very proud. That dragon had once stood on the Church of St. Sophia in Constantinople, and the Emperor Baldwin had sent it as a present to Bruges. In token of their victory Van Artevelde's "troublesome burghers" took down the golden dragon and carried it to Ghent.
THE DEFENCE OF ROCHELLE.
HOW THE CITY OF REFUGE FOUGHT FOR LIBERTY.
In the old times, when people were in the habit of fighting each other about their religion, the little French seaport Rochelle was called "the city of refuge." The Huguenots, or French Protestants, held the place, and when the armies of the French king tried to take it, in the latter part of the sixteenth century, they were beaten off and so badly used in the fight that the king was glad to make terms with the townspeople.
An agreement was therefore made that they should have their own religion, and manage their own affairs; and to make sure of this the king gave Rochelle so many special rights that it became almost a free city. After that, whenever a Protestant in any part of France found that he could not live peaceably in his own home, he went to Rochelle, and that is the way the place came to be called the city of refuge.
For a good many years the people of Rochelle went on living quietly. They had a fine harbor of their own, their trade was good, and they were allowed to manage their own affairs. At last the new King of France made up his mind that he would not have two religions in his country, but would make everybody believe as he did. This troubled the people of Rochelle, but the king sent them word that he only meant to make them change their religion by showing them that his was better, and that he did not intend to trouble them in any way.
In those days promises of that kind did not count for much; but the king's prime-minister, Cardinal Richelieu, who really managed everything, knew very well that Rochelle could give a great deal of trouble if it chose, and so, perhaps, he really would have let the town alone if it had not been for the meddling of the English prime-minister, Buckingham.
This Buckingham, with an English fleet and army, sailed into the harbor of Rochelle in the middle of July, 1627, and undertook to help the people against the French king. If Buckingham had been either a soldier or a sailor, he might have made himself master of the French king's forts near Rochelle at once; but, although he had command of a fleet and an army, he really knew nothing about the business of a commander, and he blundered so badly that the generals of the French king got fresh troops and provisions into the forts, and were able to hold them in spite of all that the English could do.
Seeing how matters stood, Richelieu at once sent an army to surround Rochelle, and at daylight on the 10th of August the people found a strong force in front of the town. Rochelle had not made up its mind to join the English, and the magistrates sent word to the French general that they wanted peace. They said they were loyal to the French king, and even offered to help drive the English away, if their king would promise not to break the treaty that had been made with them many years before.
It was too late to settle the matter in that way, however. The French general meant to make the town surrender, and so, while the English were fighting to get control of the island of Rhe, at some distance from the town, he began to build works around Rochelle. His plan was to shut the people up in the city and cut off their supplies of food; and when the Rochelle folk saw what he was doing, they opened fire on his men.
The war was now begun, and the Huguenots made terms with Buckingham, hoping, with his help, to win in the struggle. Buckingham promised to help them, and he did try to do so in his blundering way; but he did them more harm than good, for when he found that he could not take the forts he sailed away, taking with him three hundred tons of grain, which he ought to have sent into the town.
It was November when the English left, and Rochelle was in a very bad situation. Richelieu set to work to shut the town in and seal it up. He built strong works all around the land side, and then, with great labor, brought earth and stones and built a mole, or strip of land, nearly all the way across the mouth of the harbor, so that no boats could pass in or out.
The situation was a terrible one, but the people of Rochelle were brave, and had no thought of flinching. They chose the mayor, Guiton, for their commander, and when he accepted the office he laid his dagger on the table, saying: "I will thrust that dagger into the heart of the first man who speaks of giving up the town." He then went to work to defend the place. He strengthened the works, and made soldiers of all the men in the city, and all the boys, too, for that matter. Everybody who could handle a weapon of any kind had to take his place in the ranks. England had promised to send help, and the only question, Guiton thought, was whether or not he could hold out till the help should come; so he laid his plans to resist as long as possible.
The French in great numbers stormed the defences time after time; but the brave Rochellese always drove them back with great loss. It was clear from the first that Guiton would not give way, and that no column, however strong, could force the city gates. But there was an enemy inside the town which was harder to fight than the one outside. There was famine in Rochelle! The cattle were eaten up, and the horses went next. Then everything that could be turned into food was carefully used and made to go as far as it would. Guiton stopped every kind of waste; but day by day the food supply grew smaller, and the people grew weaker from hunger. Starvation was doing its work. Every day the list of deaths grew longer, and when people met in the streets they stared at each other with lean, white, hungry faces, wondering who would be the next to go.
Still these heroic people had no thought of giving up. They were fighting for liberty, and they loved that more than life. The French were daily charging their works, but could not move the stubborn, starving Rochellese.
The winter dragged on slowly. Spring came, and yet no help had come from England. In March the French, thinking that the people must be worn out, hurled their heaviest columns against the lines; but, do what they would, they could not break through anywhere, and had to go back to their works, and wait for famine to conquer a people who could not be conquered by arms.
One morning in May an English fleet was seen outside the mole. The news ran through the town like wildfire. Help was at hand, and the poor starving people were wild with joy. Men ran through the streets shouting and singing songs of thanksgiving. They had borne terrible sufferings, but now help was coming, and they were sure that their heroic endurance would not be thrown away. Thousands of their comrades had fallen fighting, and thousands of their women and children had starved to death; but what was that if, after all, Rochelle was not to lose her liberties?
Alas! their hope was a vain one, and their joy soon turned to sorrow. The English fleet did nothing. It hardly tried to do anything; but after lying within sight of the town for a while it sailed away again and left Rochelle to its fate.
Richelieu was sure that Guiton would surrender now, and so he sent a messenger to say that he would spare the lives of all the people if the town were given up within three days. But the gallant Guiton was not ready even yet to give up the struggle. "Tell Cardinal Richelieu," he said to the messenger, "that we are his very obedient servants;" and that was all the answer he had to make.
When the summer came some food was grown in the city gardens, but this went a very little way among so many people, and the famine had now grown frightful. The people gathered all the shellfish they could find at low tide. They ate the leaves off the trees, and even the grass of the gardens and lawns was used for food. Everything that could in any way help to support life was consumed; everything that could be boiled into the thinnest soup was turned to account; everything that could be chewed for its juice was used to quiet the pains of fierce hunger; but all was not enough. Men, women, and children died by thousands. Every morning when the new guard went to take the place of the old one many of the sentinels were found dead at their posts from starvation.
Still the heroic Guiton kept up the fight, and nobody dared say anything to him about giving up. He still hoped for help from England, and meant to hold out until it should come, cost what it might. In order that the soldiers might have a little more to eat, and live and fight a little longer, he turned all the old people and those who were too weak to fight out of the town. The French would not let these poor wretches pass their lines, but made an attack on them, and drove them back towards Rochelle. But Guiton would not open the city gates to them. He said they would starve to death if he let them into Rochelle, and they might as well die outside as inside the gates.
At last news came that the English had made a treaty with the French, and so there was no longer any hope of help for Rochelle, and truly the place could hold out no longer. The famine was at its worst. Out of about thirty thousand people only five thousand were left alive, and they were starving; of six hundred Englishmen who had stayed to help the Rochellese all were dead but sixty-two. Corpses lay thick in the streets, for the people were too weak, from fasting, even to bury their dead. The end had come. On the 30th of October, 1628, after nearly fifteen months of heroic effort and frightful suffering, Rochelle surrendered.
Richelieu at once sent food into the town, and treated the people very kindly; but he took away all the old rights and privileges of the city. He pulled down all the earth-works used by the defenders of the place, and gave orders that nobody should build even a garden fence anywhere near the town. He made a law that no Protestant who was not already a citizen of Rochelle should go thither to live, and that the "city of refuge" should never again receive any stranger without a permit from the king.
THE SAD STORY OF A BOY KING.
London took a holiday on the 16th of July, 1377. There were processions of merry-makers in the streets, and the windows were crowded with gayly dressed men, women, and children. The great lords, glittering in armor, and mounted upon splendid steel-clad horses, marched through the town. The bishops and clergymen in gorgeous robes made a more solemn, but not less attractive show. The trade-guilds were out in their best clothing, bearing the tools of their trades instead of arms. Clowns in motley, merry-makers of all kinds, great city dignitaries, lords and commons—everybody, in short, made a mad and merry holiday; and at night the houses were illuminated, and great bonfires were lighted in the streets.
All England was wild with joy; but the happiest person in the land was Richard Plantagenet, a boy eleven years of age. Indeed, it was for this boy's sake and in his honor that all this feasting and merry-making went on, for on that day young Richard was crowned King of England; and in those times a king of England was a much more important person than now, because the people had not then learned to govern themselves, and the king had powers which Englishmen would not allow any man to have in our time.
Richard was too young to govern wisely, and so a council was appointed to help him until he should grow up; but in the meantime he was a real king, boy as he was, and it is safe to say that he was the happiest boy in England on that July day, when all London took a holiday in his honor.
But if he had known what this crowning was to lead to, young Richard might have been very glad to change places with any baker's or butcher's boy in London. The boy king had some uncles and cousins who were very great people, and who gave him no little trouble after a while. He had wars on his hands, too, and needed a great deal more money than the people were willing to give him; and so, when he grew older and took the government into his own hands, he found troubles all around him. The Irish people rebelled frequently; the Scotch were hostile; there was trouble with Spain because Richard's uncle wanted to become king of that country, and there was a standing war with France.
But this was not all. In order to carry on these wars the king was obliged to have money; and when he ordered taxes to be collected the common people, led by Wat Tyler, rose in rebellion. They marched into London, seized the Tower, and put to death the treasurer of the kingdom, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and many other persons high in the government. Tyler was so insolent one day that the Lord Mayor of London killed him; but the boy king, who was only sixteen years old, seeing that the rebels were too strong for him, put himself at their head, and marched with them out of the city; and so the king, against whom the rebellion was made, became the leader of the rebels. As soon as matters grew quiet, however, he broke all the promises he had made, and punished the chief rebels very harshly.
Not long after this one of the king's uncles made himself master of the kingdom by force, and it was several years before Richard could put him out of power.
But the greatest of all Richard's troubles were yet to come. His cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, the son of old John of Gaunt, had misbehaved, and Richard had sent him out of England, not to return for ten years. But while Richard was in Ireland putting down a rebellion there, Henry came back to England, raised an army, and was joined by many of the most powerful men in the kingdom. When Richard came back from Ireland Henry made him a prisoner, and not long afterwards the great men made up their minds to set up Henry as the king instead of Richard. They made Richard sign a paper giving up his right to the crown, and then, to make the matter sure, Parliament passed a law that Richard should be king no longer.
Richard was only thirty-three years old when all this was done, but after so many troubles he might well have been glad to give up his kingship, if that had been the end of the matter. But a king who has been set aside is always a dangerous man to have in the kingdom, and it would not do to let Richard go free. He might gather his friends around him and give trouble. So it was decided that the unfortunate man should be shut up in a prison for the rest of his life.
But even this was not the worst of the matter. Richard had a wife—Queen Isabella—whom he loved very dearly, and if the two could have gone away together into some quiet place to live, they might still have been happy in spite of being under guard all the time. But the new king would not have it so. He gave orders that Richard should be shut up closely in a prison, and that Isabella should go back to France, where Richard had married her.
This was a terrible thing for the young man and his younger wife, who might have had a long life of happiness still before them if Richard had never been a king. But Richard had been King of England, and so he had to give up both his freedom and his wife.
In his play of "King Richard the Second" Shakespeare makes a very touching scene of their parting. In the play their farewell takes place in the street, as shown in our picture. Isabella, anxious to see her husband once more before they part forever, waits at a point which she knows he must pass on his way to prison. There they meet and talk together for the last time on earth. The words which Shakespeare puts into their mouths are terribly sad, but very beautiful. You will find the scene at the beginning of Act V. of the play. The picture shows the two at the moment when Richard moves away to his prison, leaving Isabella to mourn for him in a nunnery for the rest of her life.
It is not certainly known what became of Richard after he was taken to prison. It is believed that he was murdered there—perhaps starved to death—but there is a story that he got away and lived in Scotland, dying there in 1419. It is not at all likely that the story is true, however, and the common belief has always been that he died or was killed in Pontefract Castle, where he was imprisoned.
However that may be, Richard's life was a terribly unhappy one, and all his sorrows grew out of the fact that he was a king. If he could have looked forward on that July day when the people were making merry in his honor, and could have known all that was to happen to him, instead of being the happiest boy in England on his coronation day, he would have been the most wretched.
TWO OBSCURE HEROES.
HOW THE PARTISAN WARFARE IN THE CAROLINAS WAS BEGUN.
When the British marched up from Savannah and took Charleston, in the spring of 1780, they thought the Revolution was at an end in the Southern States, and it really seemed so. Even the patriots thought it was useless to resist any longer, and so when the British ordered all the people to come together at different places and enrol themselves as British subjects, most of them were ready to do it, simply because they thought they could not help themselves.
Only a few daring men here and there were bold enough to think of refusing, and but for them the British could have set up the royal power again in South Carolina, and then they would have been free to take their whole force against the patriots farther north. The fate of the whole country depended, to a large extent, upon the courage of the few men who would not give up even at such a time, but kept up the fight against all odds. These brave men forced the British to keep an army in the South which they needed farther north.
The credit of beginning this kind of partisan warfare belongs chiefly to two or three plain men, who did it simply because they loved their country more than their ease.
The man who first began it was Justice Gaston—a white-haired patriot who lived on a little stream called Fishing Creek, near Rocky Mount. He was eighty years of age, and might well have thought himself too old to care about war matters; but he was a brave man and a patriot, and the people who lived near him were in the habit of taking his advice and doing as he did.
When the news came that Tarleton had killed a band of patriots under Colonel Buford in cold blood Justice Gaston called his nine sons and many of his nephews around him. Joining hands, these young men promised each other that they never would take the British oath, and never would give up the cause, come what might.
Soon afterwards a British force came to the neighborhood, and all the people were ordered to meet at Rocky Mount to enrol their names and take the oath. One of the British officers went to see Justice Gaston, and tried to persuade him that it was folly to refuse. He knew that if Gaston advised the people to give up, there would be no trouble; but the white-haired patriot told him to his face that he would never take the oath himself or advise anybody else to do so.
As soon as the officer left the old man sent for his friends, and about thirty brave fellows met at his house that night, with their rifles in their hands. They knew there would be a strong force of British and Tories at Rocky Mount the next day, but, in spite of the odds against them, they made up their minds to attack the place, and when the time came they did so. Creeping through the woods, they suddenly came upon the crowd, and after a sharp fight sent the British flying helter-skelter in every direction. This stopped the work of enrolling the people as British subjects, and it did more than that. It showed the patriots through the whole country that they could still give the British a great deal of trouble, and after this affair many of the men who had thought of giving up rubbed up their rifles instead, and formed little bands of fighting men to keep the war going.