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Capture and Death of Lovelace. Daring Adventure of an American Soldier. Departure from Schuylerville.
made by Lovelace and his companions to carry off Colonel Van Vechten; but the active vigilance of General Stark, then in command of the barracks north of the Fish Creek," in furnishing the colonel with a guard, frustrated the marauder's plans. Intimations of his intentions and of his place of concealment were given to Captain Dunham, who commanded a company of militia in the neighborhood, and he at once summoned his lieutenant, ensign, orderly, and one private to his house.” At dark they proceeded to the “Big Swamp,” three miles distant, where two Tory families resided. They separated to reconnoiter, but two of them, Green and Guiles, got lost. The other three kept together, and at dawn discovered Lovelace and his party in a hut covered over with boughs, just drawing on their stockings. The three Americans crawled cautiously forward till near the hut, when they sprang upon a log with a shout, leveled their muskets, and Dunham exclaimed, “Surrender, or you are all dead men!” There was no time for parley, and, believing that the Americans were upon them in force, they came out one by one without arms, and were marched by their captors to General Stark at the barracks. They were tried by a court-martial as spies, traitors, and robbers, and Lovelace, who was considered too dangerous to be allowed to escape, was sentenced to be hung. He complained of injustice, and claimed the leniency due to a prisoner of war; but his plea was disallowed, and three days afterward he was hung upon the brow of the hill at the place delineated, during a tremendous storm of rain and wind, accompanied by vivid lightning and clashing thunder-peals. These facts were communicated to me by the son of Colonel Van Vechten, who accompanied me to the spot, and who was well acquainted with all the captors of Lovelace and his accomplices. The place where Gates and Burgoyne had their first interview (delineated on page 81) is about half way between the Fish Creek and Gates's headquarters. After visiting these localities, we returned to the village, and spent an hour upon the ground where the British army laid down their arms. This locality I have already noted, and will not detain the reader longer than to mention the fact that the plain whereon this event took place formed a part of the extensive meadows of General Schuyler, and to relate a characteristic adventure which occurred there. While the British camp was on the north side of the Fish Creek, a number of the officers' horses were let loose in the meadows to feed. An expert swimmer among the Americans who swarmed upon the hills east of the Hudson, obtained permission to go across and capture one of the horses. He swam the river, seized and mounted a fine bay gelding, and in a few moments was recrossing the stream unharmed, amid a volley of bullets from a party of British soldiers. Shouts greeted him as he returned ; and, when rested, he asked permission to go for another, telling the captain that he ought to have a horse to ride as well as a private. Again the adventurous soldier was among the herd, and, unscathed, returned with an exceedingly good match for the first, and presented it to his commander.” Bidding our kind friend and guide adieu, we left Schuylerville toward evening, in a private carriage, for Fort Miller, six miles further up the Hudson. The same beautiful and diversified scenery, the same prevailing quiet that charmed us all the way from Waterford, still surrounded us; and the river and the narrow alluvial plain through which it flows, bounded on either side by high undulations or abrupt pyramidal hills, which cast lengthened shadows in the evening sun across the meadows, presented a beautiful picture of luxurious repose. We crossed the Hudson upon a long bridge built on strong abutments, two miles and a half above Schuylerville, at the place where Burgoyne and his army crossed on the 12th of September, 1777. The river is here quite broad and shallow, and broken by frequent rifts and rapids. We arrived at Fort Miller village, on the east bank of the river, between five and six o'clock; and while awaiting supper, preparatory to an evening canal voyage to Fort Edward, nine miles above, I engaged a water-man to row me across to the western bank, to
* The place where these barracks were located is just within the northern suburbs of Schuylerville. * Davis, Green, Guiles, and Burden. * Neilson, 223.
Visit to the Site of old Fort Edward. Tragedy of “Bloody Run." Daring Feat by Putnam. Fort Miller Fording-place.
view the site of the old fort. He was a very obliging man, and well acquainted with the localities in the neighborhood, but was rather deficient in historical knowledge. His attempts to relate the events connected with the old fort and its vicinity were amusing; for Putnam's ambush on Lake Champlain, and the defeat of Pyles by Lee, in North Carolina, with a slight tincture of correct narrative, were blended together as parts of an event which occurred at Fort Miller. We crossed the Hudson just above the rapids. A dam for milling purposes spans the stream, causing a sluggish current and deeper water for more than two miles above. Here was the scene of one of Putnam's daring exploits. While a major in the English provincial army, nearly twenty years before the Revolution, he was lying in a bateau on the east side of the river, and was suddenly surprised by a party of Indians. He could not cross the river swiftly enough to escape the balls of their rifles, and there was no alternative but to go down the foaming rapids. In an instant his purpose was fixed, and, to the astonishment of the savages, he steered directly down the current, amid whirling eddies and over shelving rocks. In a few moments his vessel cleared the rush of waters, and was gliding upon the smooth current below, far out of reach of the weapons of the Indians. It was a feat they never dared attempt, and superstition convinced them that he was so favored by the Great Spirit that it would be an affront to Manitou to attempt to kill him with powder and ball. Other Indians of the - tribe, however, soon afterward gave practical evidence of their unbelief in such interposition. There is not a vestige of Fort Miller left, and maize, and potatoes, and pumpkin vines were flourishing where the rival forces of Sir William Johnson and the Baron Dieskau alternately paraded. At the foot of the hill, a few rods below where the fort stood, is a part of the trench and bank of a redoubt, and this is all that remains even of the outworks of the fortification. An eighth of a mile westward is Bloody Run, a stream which comes leaping in sparkling cascades from the hills, and affords fine trout fishing. It derives its name from the fact that, while the English had possession of the fort in 1759, a party of soldiers from the garrison went out to fish at the place represented in the picture. The hills, now cultivated, were then covered with dense forests, and afforded the Indians excellent ambush. A troop of savages, lying near, sprang silently from their covert upon the fishers, and bore off nine reeking scalps before those who escaped could reach the fort and give the alarm. This clear mountain stream enters the Hudson a little above Fort Miller, where the river makes a sudden curve, and where, before the erection of the dam at the rapids, it was quite shallow, and usually fordable. This was the crossing-place for the armies; and there are still to be seen some of the logs and stones upon the shore which formed a part of the old “King's Road” leading to the fording-place. They are now sub
Font MILLER For DING-PLACE."
* This view is taken from the site of the fort, looking northward. The fort was in the town of Northumberland. It was built of logs and earth, and was never a post of great importance.
Canal Voyage to Fort Edward. Scene on Board. Fort Edward. National Debt of England.
merged, the river having been made deeper by the dam; but when the water is limpid they can be plainly seen. It was twilight before we reached the village on the eastern shore. We supped and repaired to the packet office, where we waited until nine o'clock in the evening before the shrill notes of a tin horn brayed out the annunciation of a packet near. Its deck was covered with passengers, for the interesting ceremony of converting the diningroom into a dormitory, or swinging the hammocks or berths and selecting their oceupants, had commenced, and all were driven out, much to their own comfort, but, strange to say, to the dissatisfaction of many who lazily preferred a sweltering lounge in the cabin to the delights of fresh air and the bright starlight. Having no interest in the scramble for beds, we enjoyed the evening breeze and the excitement of the tiny tumult. My companion, fearing the exhalations upon the night air, did indeed finally seek shelter in one end of the cabin, but was driven, with two other young ladies, into the captain's state-room, to allow the “hands” to have full play in making the beds. Imprisoned against their will, the ladies made prompt restitution to themselves by drawing the cork of a bottle of sarsaparilla and sipping its contents, greatly to the consternation of a meek old dame, the mother of one of the girls, who was sure it was “bed-bug pizen, or something a pesky sight worse.” We landed at Fort Edward at midnight, and took lodgings at a small but tidily-kept tavern close by the canal. Fort Edward was a military post of considerable importance during the French and Indian wars and the Revolution." The locality, previous to the erection of the fortress, was called the first carrying-place, being the first and nearest point on the Hudson where the troops, stores, &c., were landed while passing to or from the south end of Lake Champlain, a distance of about twenty-five miles. The fort was built in 1755, when six thousand troops were collected there, under General Lyman, waiting the arrival of General Johnson, the commander-in-chief of an expedition against Ticonderoga and - Crown Point. It was at first called Fort Lyman, in Font Edward.” honor of the general who superintended its erection. It
* I refer particularly to the war between England and France, commonly called, in Europe, the Seven Fears' War. It was declared on the 9th of June, 1756, and ended with the treaty at Paris, concluded and signed February 10th, 1763. It extended to the colonies of the two nations in America, and was carried on with much vigor here until the victory of Wolfe at Quebec, in 1759, and the entire subjugation of Uanada by the English. The French managed to enlist a large proportion of the Indian tribes in their favor, who were allied with them against the Britons. It is for that reason that the section of the Seven Years' War in America was called by the colonists the “French and Indian War.” I would here mention incidentally that that war cost Great Britain five hundred and sixty millions of dollars, and laid one of the largest foundation stones of that national debt under which she now groans. It was twenty millions in the reign of William and Mary, in 1697, and was then thought to be enormous; in 1840 it was about four thousand millions of dollars! * Explanation: a a a a a a, six cannons; A, the barracks; B, the store-house; C, the hospital; D, the magazine; E, a flanker; F, a bridge across Fort Edward Creek; and G, a balm of Gilead tree which then overshadowed the massive water-gate. That tree is still standing, a majestic relic of the past, amid the surrounding changes in nature and art. It is directly upon the high bank of the Hudson, and its branches, heavily foliated when I was there, spread very high and wide. At the union below its three trunks it measures more than twenty feet in circumference. BALM of Gilead. At Fort Elow ARD
Daring Feat of Putnam at Fort Edward. Jane M'Crea Tree. Sir William Johnson and his Title. Fortifications.
was built of logs and earth, sixteen feet high and twenty-two feet thick, and stood at the junction of Fort Edward Creek and the Hudson River. From the creek, around the fort to the river, was a deep fosse or ditch, designated in the engraving by the dark dotted part outside of the black lines. There are still very prominent traces of the banks and fosse of the fort, but the growing village will soon spread over and obliterate them forever. Already a garden was within the lines; and the old parade-ground, wherein Sir William Johnson strutted in the haughty pride of a victor by accident," was desecrated by beds of beets, parsley, radishes, and onions. Fort Edward was the theater of another daring achievement by Putnam. In the winter of 1756 the barracks, then near the northwestern bastion, took fire. The magazine was only twelve feet distant, and contained three hundred barrels of gunpowder. Attempts were made to batter the barracks to the ground with heavy cannons, but without success. Putnam, who was stationed upon Rogers's Island, in the Hudson, opposite the fort, hurried thither, and, taking his station on the roof of the barracks, ordered a line of soldiers to hand him water. But, despite his efforts, the flames raged and approached nearer and nearer to the magazine. The commandant, Colonel Haviland, seeing his danger, ordered him down; but the brave major did not leave his perilous post until the fabric began to totter. He then leaped to the ground, placed himself between the falling building and the magazine, and poured on water with all his might. The external planks of the magazine were consumed, and there was only a thin partition between the flames and the powder. But Putnam succeeded in subduing the flames and saving the ammunition. His hands and face were dreadfully burned, his whole body was more or less blistered, and it was several weeks before he recovered from the effects of his daring conflict with the fire.” The first place of historic interest that we visited at Fort Edward was the venerable and blasted pine tree near which, tradition asserts, the unfortunate Jane M'Crea lost her life while General Burgoyne had his encampment near Sandy Hill. It stands upon the west side of the road leading from Fort Edward to Sandy Hill, and about half a mile from the canal-lock in the former village. The tree had exhibited unaccountable signs of decadence for several years, and when we visited it, it was sapless and bare. Its top was torn off by a November gale, and almost every breeze diminishes its size by scattering its decayed twigs. The trunk is about five feet in diameter, and upon the bark is engraved, in bold letters, JANE MCREA, 1777. The names of many ambitious visitors are intaglioed upon it, and reminded me of the line “Run, run, Orlando, carve on every tree.” I carefully sketched all its branches, and the engraving is a faithful portraiture of the interesting relic, as viewed from the opposite side of the road. In a few years this tree, around which history and romance have clustered so many associations, will crumble and pass away forever. The sad story of the unfortunate girl is so interwoven in our history that it has become a
component part; but it is told with so many variations, in essential and non-essential paro
* Sir William Johnson had command of the English forces in 1755, destined to act against Crown Point. He was not remarkable for courage or activity. He was attacked at the south end of Lake George by the French general, Deiskau, and was wounded at the outset. The command then devolved on Major-general Lyman, of the Connecticut troops, who, by his skill and bravery, secured a victory over the French and Indians. General Johnson, however, had the honor and reward thereof. In his mean jealousy he gave General Lyman no praise; and the British king (George II.) made him a baronet, and a present of twenty thousand dollars to give the title becoming dignity.
Nore.—As I shall have frequent occasion to employ technical terms used infortifications, I here give a diagram, which, with the explanation, will make those terms clear to the reader. The figure is a vertical section of a fortification. The mass of earth, a b c de fgh, forms the rampart with its parapet; a b is the interior slope of the rampart; b c is the terreplein of the ram. part, on which the troops and cannon are placed; d e is the banquette, or step, on which the soldiers mount to fire over the parapet; e fg is the parapet; g h is the exterior slope of the parapet; h i is the revetment, or wall of masonry, supporting the rampart; h k, the exterior front covered with the revetment, is called the escarp; i k l m is the ditch; 1 m is the counterscarp; m n is the covered way, having a banquette n op; s r is the glacis. When there are two ditches, the works between the inner and the outer ditch are called ravelins, and all outside of the ditches, outworks.-See Brande's Cyc., art. Fortification.
* Peabody's Life of Putnam, American Biography, vii., 131.
The Fort Edward Romance. - Mrs. M'Neil and her Grand-daughter. Narrative of the latter.
ticulars, that much of the narratives we have is evidently pure fiction; a simple tale of Indian abduction, resulting in death, having its counterpart in a hund- of NY red like occurrences, has been gar- nished with all the high coloring of a romantic love story. It seems a pity to spoil the romance of the matter, but truth always makes sad havoc with the frost-work of theimagination, and sternly demands the o homage of the historian's pen. All accounts agree that Miss M'Crea was staying at the house of a Mrs. M*Neil, near the fort, at the time of the tragedy. A granddaughter of Mrs. MNeil (Mrs. F—n) is now living at Fort Edward, and from her I received a minute account of the whole transaction, as she had heard it a “thousand times” from her grandmother. She is a woman of remarkable intelligence, about sixty years old. When I was at Fort Edward she was on a visit with her sister at Glenn's Falls. It had been my intention to go direct to Whitehall, on Lake Champlain, by way of Fort Ann, but the traditionary accounts in the neigh
borhood of the event in question were so contradictory of the books, and I received such assurances that perfect reliance might be placed upon the statements of Mrs. F-n, that, anxious to ascertain the truth of the matter, if possible, we went to Lake Champlain by way of Glenn's Falls and Lake George. After considerable search at the falls, I found Mrs. F-n, and the following is her relation of the tragedy at Fort Edward: Jane M'Crea was the daughter of a Scotch Presbyterian clergyman of Jersey City, opposite New York; and while Mrs. M'Neil (then the wife of a former husband named Campbell) was a resident of New York City, an acquaintance and intimacy had grown up between Jenny and her daughter. After the death of Campbell (which occurred at sea) Mrs. Campbell married M'Neil. He, too, was lost at sea, and she removed with her family to an estate