페이지 이미지

Truly he might say with Sampson of old, “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.” There he lay, under that log, for three days; patient and surgeon, sick man, bunter, cook, and nurse, all in one. On the third day his snake was nearly picked to the bones, and he was too weak to fetch wood to cook the remainder. Sammons made up his mind, that death could not be postponed ; and, having already shown how little division of labor was needed in such cases, determined to essay one more office, and by his knife proceeded to carve his epitaph on the log by his side. But God was not afar off from that brave man. He fell asleep, and strength from unknown sources flowed into his limbs. On the fourth day he rose refreshed, and, having made sandals of his hat and waistcoat, proceeded to hobble on his way once more, taking with him, as stores, the unconsumed portion of his snake.

That night, again, he was comforted, being assured, by some means unknown to him, that he was near fellow-men. Rising with this faith, he struggled on till afternoon, when he reached a house and was safe. It was the 28th of June, 1780. Such were the fortunes of Jacob Sammons.

His brother Frederick, was less fortunate. He had made many efforts, to no purpose, to find Jacob, who, when he fell, would not permit Frederick to stop and help him ; and, in seeking him, had run many risks. At length he crossed the Sorel ; killed an ox ; made himself some jerked beef ; and for seven days travelled along the eastern shore of Champlain without ill luck. But, on the morning of the Sth day, he awoke sick ; a pleurisy was upon him ; a fever in his veins ; pain in every limb. It began to rain also, and there he lay, this other young Sampson, close by his brother, who, at that very moment, in that very neighbourhood, was nursing his rattlesnake bite ; – there he lay, knowing not that any was near him, for three days, on the earth, in the summer rain, and his blood all on fire. For three days, we say, he lay thus helpless. On the fourth day he was better, and tried to eat a little of his beef, but it was spoiled. He managed, however, to crawl to a frog-pond near by, a green and slimy pond, where the last year's leaves were rotting, and the bubbles rose of a hot day. He crawled thither, and put aside the green coating of the pool, and drank. He caught frogs, too, and feasted, though not a Frenchman in

any of his tastes probably. There he lay, for fourteen days and nights, living by the life that was in him. Having expected death, he put up his hat upon a pole, so that it might be seen from the lake. It was seen by an enemy; and he was found senseless and speechless, and carried, - shame on the human creature that bore him, — back to his prison again. And not to his prison only, but to its darkest dungeon; and there, for fourteen months, in utter darkness, he lay in irons ; in irons so heavy and so tight, that they ate into the flesh of his legs, so that the flesh came off to the bone. And for fifty-six years afterwards, — for this young Sampson was living in 1837, and may be living yet, the wounds then made did not heal. The British officer, whose heart enabled him, knowingly, to do this thing, was named (how aptly !) Steele. He was a Captain in the thirty-second regiment. May God have mercy upon his soul.

But our Sampson's adventures are not yet ended; for neither was his captivity over, nor his spirit broken. In November, 1781, he, with others, was transferred to an island above Montreal, in the rapids of the St. Lawrence. There he, as a first step, organized another plot for escape, which failed, and, as a second step, jumped, with one other, from the island into the rapids of the great river. For four miles, through those rapids, our hero and his comrade swam, navigating among the sharp rocks and fearful shoals with what skill they had. Landing on the north side of the St. Lawrence, they fought a clubbattle with a village-full of Canadian Frenchmen; conquered ; killed a calf; and, seizing a canoe, tried to cross to the south side of the river. They were above the rapids of the Cedars, where no canoe can live long unguided, when their paddle broke in the mid-stream ; and once more destruction seemed certain. A fallen tree, in the branches of which they caught, saved them, however ; and, crossing the next day below the falls, they struck into the forest to seek the Hudson. For twelve more days they toiled on, living on roots, without shoes, without clothes, without hats, and reached Schenectady at last, in a plight that made Christian men give them a wide berth.

To close this strange, eventful history, - strange, and yet nowise improbable, — we have a statement which is of a kind to make men doubt, — perhaps to doubt the whole. VOL. XLIX. — No. 105.


We will give it. When Frederick reached Schenectady, – so runs the tale, — he wrote to his father. This letter went to a Mr. De Witt's, who lived some five miles from old Sampson, and there got misplaced. Jacob, who had long since settled into his usual ways once more, when he came down to breakfast one morning, said, that he had dreamed that Frederick was well and safe, and that a letter from him lay at neighbour De Witt's. The old father laughed at the fancy of the boy, and the sisters smiled, and shook their heads, and wished it were so ; but Jacob persisted it was so, and saddled his horse and rode over. Neighbour De Witt heard his young friend, and chuckled over his notion, but said there was no such letter. “Look,” said Jacob; so the good man looked, but said there was no letter there. " Look harder,” said Jacob, “move the things, and see if it has not fallen down somewhere.” The worthy farmer humored his adventurous neighbour, and moved this table, and that ironing-board, and the great settle, and by and by the flour-barrel.“ Ha ! what 's that ? a letter, true enough. " To Sampson Sammons, Marbletown.?” -Well,” said De Witt,“ if this is not strange! Why, it must have been left by that officer, that went along to Philadelphia last night." “ Hark to me,” said Jacob, " and see if dreams don't reveal things. Do you open the letter and read it, and see if I cannot tell you what's in it.” The amazed countryman opened and read, and Jacob repeated it word for word.

Such is Mr. Stone's account, based upon the statements of the Sammonses and De Witt. One question naturally occurs to the reader ; Did Mr. Stone write it after his studies in Animal Magnetism at Providence ?

But we must leave these details, and return to finish, in a few words, our process of skeletonizing. It is one of the great miseries of historical review writers, that they must often confine their labors to the most barren sketching, leaving it for others to supply those minute and personal matters to which history owes so much of its value and charm.

But, before returning to what little remains of our dry narrative, let us briefly look back over the six years which have passed since the campaign of Dunmore, in the autumn of 1774.

During 1775 offers were made, both by the Americans

and English, to the Indians, and attempts to hold them neutral, or win them to one or the other side. The savages, longing generally to see the invaders driven from their hunting-grounds, and knowing, apart from all merits, that the Americans possessed those grounds, were inclined to side with England ; and hesitated, in most instances, only till the result of the first campaign should show them the probable result of the contest. The Oneidas, and the branch of the Delawares led by White-Eyes, were exceptions to this general state of the red men. They were from the outset, and continued till the last, true friends of the provinces. The year 1775, therefore, produced no results, so far as active operations were concerned. But the general tendency of the Iroquois in the north, the Delawares, Shawanese, Wyandots, Miamis, and Chippeways, in the west, and the Cherokees, Creeks, and Chickasaws, in the south, was in favor of England. .

In 1776, the Iroquois went over openly to Britain ; the Shawanese, and their more western neighbours, were also minded to war for the mother country ; and in the south the Cherokees rose, laid waste the Carolina frontiers, and were conquered.

The years 1777 1780 found the Iroquois first scourging the valleys of the Mohawk and upper Susquehanna ; then houseless themselves; and then, once more in the ascendant, laying waste the country of their foes, till it was a desert from Ontario to the Hudson. Those same years found the Delawares still divided, but the American party faithful to their original undertaking. This fidelity at last, after the death of White-Eyes, who died in the winter of 1779 - 80, at Fort Laurens, of small-pox, obliged the chiefs to leave their country and go to Pittsburg ; Pipe having, after the decease of his great rival and controller, obtained a strong influence in the nation. In the autumn of 1780, therefore, we may say that the Delawares were mainly in the British interest.

The Shawanese, from 1776 to 1780, were also in the main against the colonies, one tribe only being with them ; but this nation had suffered so much from the Kentuckians, that in the autumn of 1780 they were very quiet.

Their northwestern neighbours had suffered less, and were less overawed, but yet had been much cooled, in their loy

alty to England, by Clark's campaigns on the Mississippi and Wabash.

The Cherokees, during this time, had been quiet, but were fast rousing to action again. Had not Hamilton been captured, they would have been with him in his devastation of the western country ; and they stood ready to strike whenever the time came. That time came, as they thought, in the summer of 1781, and an attack was made by the Cherokees and Chickasaws upon the frontiers of South Carolina. It did, however, but little damage ; and General Pickens, with about four hundred men on horseback, having ridden into the Indian country, and tried upon them a new mode of attack, - namely, a sudden charge with swords, — the warriors gave way. In fourteen days the General destroyed thirteen towns, and took many prisoners, and all without the loss of a man. In the autumn a new treaty of peace was made, and after that time no further trouble occurred with those two tribes. Their neighbours, the Creeks, tried their hand against General Wayne, near Savannah, in June of the following year. They fought well, and for a time had the better of the battle ; but in the end were defeated. Peace was preserved with them also from that time.*

During 1781 the Iroquois and their helpmates, the Tories, were wasting and slaughtering with renewed vigor, and but one happy event for the colonists occurred in the regions which they visited. That was the death of Walter N. Butler, the famous Tory leader, a man of great ability, great courage, and vile passions ; a sort of reversed Marion. He was killed in one of the skirmishes of October, 1781, by an Oneida Indian. After that autumn no hostile events of importance occurred in the Mohawk valley.

We have left us, then, for examination only the doings in the west, and they were too bad to speak of otherwise than briefly. We have, already, in the course of this sketch, presented, or rather hinted at, our views of British proceedings respecting the employment of the savages. The mere enlisting of those wild allies we cannot think, in the men of that day, reprehensible. The patriots of Massachusetts and Washington would never have advocated such an enlistment, had the measure possessed to their minds the objectionable

* Holmes's Annals, 1781 and 1782.

Stone, Vol. II. p. 191.

« 이전계속 »