Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

the dangers of the field, to the sports of the stream,* from the half famished abstinence of the camp, to feast on the richest of nature's dainties. Hope, and joy, and confidence began to prevail. Every new detachment of adventurous settlers, and especially one under the command of Capt. Butler, whose presence had been anxiously looked for, was hailed with shouts of welcome. Settlements commenced on the west side of the river, were prosecuted with spirit. Old Forty fort, so celebrated in the future history of Wyoming, was begun. More distant positions were explored, David Mead and Christopher Hurlbut, Esqs., the principal surveyors on behalf of the Susquehanna Company, with untiring assiduity again followed the compass over hill and dale, in locating and lotting the several townships set off for actual settlers.

Spring passed away without the appearance of an enemy; summer followed, and not a foe had disturbed their repose. Rich harvests were ripening to crown their labours, and a feeling of security would have pervaded the breasts of the most timid, were it not for the recollection of the untoward events of the preceding fall.

Disappointed in his application for assistance from Gen. Gage, Governor Penn viewed the aspect of affairs at the north, with the extremest embarrassment, almost amounting to despair. But the arrival of Capt. Ogden, his faithful military commander, reanimated his desponding hopes, and he resolved to make a vigorous effort to regain possession of the disputed ground.—Moral as well as physical force was brought into action.—On the 28th of June a proclamation was issued, referring to the events which had recently transpired at Wyoming, and forbidding, under severest penalties, any person from making a settlement there, unless by the authority of the proprietaries, or their lessees, Ştewart, Ogden, and Jennings. The utmost force that could be assembled for the occasion, was raised, and placed under the orders of Capt. Ogden, with directions to repair to the scene of action, and dispossess the Yankees if in his power. Again, with characteristic consistency, the military was marched under the ostensible auspices of the civil authority. The official term of Sheriff Jennings had expired, and Aaron Van Campen, Esq., a magistrate, whose zeal had previously led him to take an active part in the controversy, was selected to accompany the commander on his expedition.

* Mrs. Young states that the first rude nets were made of willow boughs, woven in meshes together. Ropes were made of bark of trees, or long grape vines. But so abundant were the fish, a boundless profusion was taken by those seines.

So difficult had it become to raise recruits, that it was late in September before he arrived on the eastern mountain that overlooks the valley.

Surprise will naturally be excited, that the powerful province of Pennsylvania did not at once raise and maintain a force of sufficient strength to expel the Connecticut people, and to build, arm, and garrison two or more forts, in suitable positions, effectually to put an end to all hope of making a permanent settlement at Wyoming. A popular government in a cause deemed just, possessing the wealth, the numbers, and the resources of Pennsylvania, could have crushed, like an egg shell in the hand of a giant, all the power which the Susquehanna Company had yet been able to concentrate on the Susquehanna; for the colony of Connecticut, biding its time, cautiously watching events, had as yet neither committed itself by a direct recognition of, nor lent the least official aid to the measures adopted for the settlement of Wyoming, further than to express their assent to the formation of the company, the purchase of the Indians, and the proposed application to the king for a charter to the new colony. Had the Proprietary Government aroused itself with becoming spirit, and put forth at once, with decisive energy, all the strength the occasion demanded, Connecticut would probably have postponed the avowal of her claim to jurisdiction until a more inviting season.

Doubtless the inefficient movements on the part of the Proprietary Government are to be ascribed, principally, to its own unpopularity. It is sufficient that we advert to the long existing contention between the people of the province and the proprietaries, in respect to taxation chiefly, and the jealousy existing because of their immense, and as it was deemed, unreasonable land monopoly, connected with numerous other points of lesser magnitude, exciting feelings of mutual distrust and enmity, paralyzing almost every effort of the Governor, either for good or evil. The contest at Wyoming was a dispute respecting the soil. The best part of the valley it was known, had been surveyed, and appropriated to the proprietaries themselves. Without scrutinizing very closely the origin of titles, the people sympathised very generally with the Wyoming settlers, and no inconsiderable number wished success to their cause.

We have before stated that there were three paths (roads they

could not be called,) to Wyoming. The old warrior's path, by way high of the l.ehi water gap and Fort Allen, coming into the valley a mile

below Solomon's Creek, in Hanover; the path from the Delaware at

Coshutunk, (where was a small Yankee settlement, which came in through Cob's Gap to the Lackawana, at Capouse meadows,—the other from Easton, through the Wind Gap, near the line of the present turnpike. By the latter way, all the military expeditions had heretofore invaded the valley, and that alone was watched by the Yankee sentinels. Aware of this fact, with far more tact than was displayed by his adversaries, Captain Ogden took the old warrior path, marched with celerity and secrecy, and on the 21st of September* encamped on the head waters of Solomon's Creek. Kindling no fire, creating no smoke, giving no alarm, early the next morning this gallant leader took a position from which, with his telescope, he could bring the greater part of the valley under his eye. All was quiet; the settlers were unconcernedly engaged in their usual occupations. The husbandmen repaired each to his own field, with his hands. The population was thus divided into little parties of from three to six, through the flats, and along the meadows. Ready to conceive, and prompt to execute, this most able commander instantly divided bis force, consisting of one hundred and forty men, into detachments of ten, each under an approved leader, and directed them to hasten noiselessly and secretly to the fields, and seize upon the laborers. The plan succeeded to admiration. A considerable por. tion of the settlement fell into his power, and were immediately sent to Easton jail, while the remainder fled for refuge to Fort Durkee. Captain Ogden withdrew to his bivouac of the preceding night on the mountain, but in a way that left no suspicion that he had not entered by the usual route. The night was one of unexampled gloom and confusion in Fort Durkee. The position and number of their invaders were unknown, but it was presumed to be powerful; for it could not be supposed that the enemy was unapprized of the accession of numbers, who had emigrated during the summer from Connecticut, or that they would attempt to dislodge them without adequate preparation. A large number of their men the Yankees knew were made prisoners, and immediate assistance was deemed necessary. Four men were therefore selected to carry tidings of their disaster to the friendly settlement at Coshutunk, and solicit all the forces in their power to muster. A step so probable, the Yankees imagined the enemy would not fail to foresee and counteract. Taking it for granted that the passes by the usual Minisink road, and the generally traveled central way would be guarded, the Yankee

* Mr. Chapman.

messengers, as directed, sought to evade the vigilance of the foe by taking the much neglected warrior's path. Scarcely had they ascended the mountain, when they found themselves prisoners in the presence of Captain Ogden. The confused state of Fort Durkee was no sooner learned from the reluctant captives, than with a promptitude that would have done honour to Bonaparte, in his early Italian campaigns, Captain Ogden put his men in motion-stormed the Fort with such an impetuous rush, that Captain Craig, who led the van, gave the first alarm by springing into the midst of the astonished multitude. But the armed men did not yield without a short, but severe struggle. Several lives were lost, and Captain Butler was only saved from a bayonet aimed at his breast, by the noble humanity and timely interposition of Craig.* Severely hurt, Captain B. was taken into the hut of Mr. Beach, and had his wounds dressed. Ten years afterwards these two gallant officers, and Major John Durkee, making a third, found themselves each in the command of a regiment, in their country's service, efficient supporters of the cause of Independence, respected and beloved. Captain Butler, Mr. Spalding, and a few of the most prominent of the Yankee leaders were honored with the distinction of being sent to Philadelphia for imprisonment, while the others were escorted to the jail at Easton.

All the Connecticut possessions were now, as on the preceding autumn, abandoned, and the whole labor of the summer fell into the hands of their Pennymite foes. Mr. Beach and family started down the river in a canoe ; tarrying a night at what is now Beach Grove, they liked the place, and made a settlement. The property lost was by no means inconsiderable, and the soldiers of the successful party were richly rewarded with the plunder.

Again Ogden retired from this fourth effectual expulsion of the Connecticut people, not doubting now, after this signal overthrow,

* Captain Thomas Craig was a native of Allentown, Northampton county. On this invasion he coinınanded a company under Ogden. Leading the storming party he stepped lightly in advance of his men and speaking low to the sentinel, as a friend, threw him off his guard, knocked him down and entered the fort as stated. Early in the Revolutionary war, Captain Craig led a company into service under Washington, and rose to the command of a regiment. Not only was he brave, but constitutionally impetuous. He was at Quebec, in the battles of Germantown and Monmouth, and at the taking of Lord Cornwallis.

His intrepid and humane conduct in storming the fort, and preserving the prisoners from slaughter, entitle him to our esteem. Though brave as either, in his social walks he resembled Marc Antony rather than Scipio. Having quit the tented field, he sought excitement and pleasure, amid the lilies and the roses, with the blond and the brunette beauties of the stream and hill, in old Northampton. Colonel Craig lived to the very advanced age of 93 years, having departed this life in January 1832.

that the contest was at an end, and the Proprietaries secured in the peaceful possession of the valley forever.

A small garrison of twenty men was left as before, to take charge of the property, until the lessees should come out early in the spring, to resume their engagement to erect a suitable house and open a trade with the Indians.

But the Susquehanna Company's forces were like the Arab cavalry, or the far sweeping hurrah of the Cossacs of the Don; however often forced to retreat, they renewed the struggle again and again, with tenfold vigor. Though the middle of December was passed, the second year of the Pennymite and Yankee war had not terminated. On the 18th of that month, suddenly, without the slightest previous notice, a “ Hurrah for King George !” started the sleeping garrison, too confidently secure even to keep a sentinel on duty, and Captain Lazarus Stewart with thirty men, took possession of the fort in behalf of the colony of Connecticut. Six of the garrison escaped nearly naked to the mountains; the others were as unceremoniously expelled as had been the previous Yankee tenants. The fugitives hastened to give information to Captain Ogden, who in the midst of festal enjoyment, and the sweetest of all adulation to the ambitious mind, that of plaudits to a victorious chief, was once more astounded with the heart-sickening annunciation, that his thrice conquered Wyoming was lost, and the audacious Yankees were again in full possession.

Thus closed 1770, an ever memorable year in our interesting annals.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »