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1771.-Capt. Ogden with increased force returns--Summons Fort Durkee to sui render
Builds Fort Wyoming— Battle-Nathan Ogden mortally wounded—Fort Durkee abandored-A reward offered for Capt. Stewart—Fort Wyoming invested by Capt. ButlerThe four-pounder brought into action - Pepperage Log Cannon-Remarkable feat of courage and conduct on the part of Capt. Ogden-He escapes to the City-Captains Dick, Morris, Clayton, Ledlie and Ogden, hasten with their companies to the relief of Fort Wyoming-Soldierly conduct of Capt. Butler-Ambush and victory-Captains Dick and Ogden, with loss of provisions, forced into the starving garrison-Fierce War-Ogden wounded-Redyard killed—Fort surrenders-Capitulation, The Pennsylvania troope withdrawn-Close of hostilities–Negotiation between the authorities of Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
OUR letter commences with the opening year, and we find ourselves at the beginning of 1771, in the midst of the Pennymite and Yankee war, already of two full years duration. At the close of 1770, we have recorded that Capt. Stewart and his followers descended like a whirlwind on the garrison left by Capt. Ogden, expelled them from the valley, and held undivided sway over Wyoming.
On learning the fact of the arrest and violent release of Stewart, together with his subsequent descent and victory upon the disputed lands, a new warrant was issued by Judge Willing for his apprehension, and a larger sum offered as a bounty for his capture and safe delivery in prison. Peter Hacklein, Esq., was now sheriff of Northampton, in place of Jennings, who has figured so conspicuously in our preceding pages, and with whom we cannot part without the proffer of our testimony to his merits as a vigilant and enterprising officer, who performed his whole duty as a faithful magistrate of Pennsylvania.
Capt. Amos Ogden was again placed at the head of the military, and acted as before, the undisputed leader of the expedition, although ostensibly under the direction of the civil magistrate: He was accompanied by a brother, Nathan Ogden. So far as we can
learn, his first campaign, probably a young man whose ambition was aroused by the gathering laurels round his brother's brow; and he too would seek reputation in the stirring scenes of the Wyoming contest.
So vigorous had been the efforts on the part of the Proprietary Government, that in less than thirty days from the expulsion of the Pennsylvania party, although in the depth of winter, a force of more than one hundred men was displayed before Fort Durkee. But as a prudent officer, Ogden directed his first efforts to provide shelter and defence for his men. His old position at Mill Creek, was not only in ashes, but too far from his enemy. Such was his courage, he could not be brought too near them. Ground was broke and a fortification commenced on the bank of the river, sixty rods above Fort Durkee, at which his force wrought with such spirit, that in three or four days it was inhabitable. The baggage being secured, and a tolerable defence from a sudden attack prepared, Sheriff Hacklein, as civil officer, proceeded to Fort Durkee, declared his name and character, and demanded the surrender of the fortress, and all persons within it, in the name of the authorities of Pennsyl . vania. Capt. Stewart's men were all at their quarters, not intending to attack but ready to repel aggression ; Stewart himself, with four or five trusty friends, stood on the battlements prepared to
To the summons he replied :—" That he had taken possession in the name and behalf of the Colony of Connecticut, in whose jurisdiction they were ; and in that name, and by that authority he would defend it." Doubtless, the use of the name of Connecticut was unwarranted and improper; for so far, that colony was, officially, uncommitted in the civil war, although in fact almost all the members of the Government, in their individual capacity, were exerting their utmost influence to forward the interests of the Susquehanna Company, of which they were component parts, and shareholders. But the use of the name imparted consideration to the Yankee cause, and therefore it was boldly exercised.
Sheriff Hacklein withdrew, and every nerve was exerted to finish the defences of fort Wyoming,* (for so was the new fortress named) and to prepare for a vigorous prosecution of the war.
On the 20th of January, 1771, Capt. Amos Ogden, drew out in armed array, and accompanied by his brother Nathan, marched
* The remains of this fort, directly opposite Mr. Butler's white house, were in tolerable preservation forty years ago, (1800,) but it has been swept away by the encroachment of the river on the bank.
forth to attempt the reduction of Fort Durkee. Stewart and his men were ready. Two more daring leaders never met. To part without a battle appeared improbable, and blood seemed destined again to flow in this unhappy contest. A peremptory demand was made for the surrender of the fort, and as peremptorily refused; when Ogden opened his fire, which was promptly returned. At the first volley, several of Ogden's men fell, and among the number, Nathan was mortally wounded by his side.* Of the deceased, we know nothing, except that he was brother to as gallant and noble a spirit as ever gained laurels or gathered cypress on the tented field. Amos, peradventure had persuaded him to leave his peaceful home, and engage in the expedition. In the bitterness of his grief, in the spirit, though not the words of David, we may conceive him exclaiming in pathetic strain :—“My brother,! oh, my brother! would to God I had died for thee.” Little could our sympathies affect the survivor-less, could our regrets avail the dead; but every feeling breast will heave a sigh of pity for the living, and the eye shed a tear of unaffected sorrow for the fate of him who fell. It was the fortune of war. It was in fair open fight. He had chosen his lot. If his mother wept, so too wept many mothers for the loss of sons in this sharply contested conflict. Their bones rest together; they repose, side by side, on the lovely fields their valour sought to win. Peace to their gallant shades!
Taking with them the lifeless body, and the three wounded men, the besieging party withdrew unmolested by the garrison, and slowly retraced their melancholy way to their own fortification.
Irritated as the Proprietary Government already was known to be against Capt. Stewart; exasperated as, from recent events, they would assuredly become, Capt. Stewart wisely thought, that a free foot on the mountains would be safer for him, and better for his friends, than confinement within the limits of a wooden fortress, however spiritedly defended. In the night following the battle, taking with him twenty or thirty trusty followers, he abandoned Fort Durkee, leaving about twenty persons, least obnoxious to the vengeance of the enemy. With the break of morning, his retreat was known to
* From Hugh Gaines' New York Gazette, Nov. 11, 1771. " Philadelphia Nov. 4.-At the Supreme Court, held here on Tuesday last, William Speddy was arraigned and tried for the murder of Lieut. Nathan Ogden, who was shot from the block-house, al Wioming, while it was in the possession of Lazarus Stewart, and company; and after a long and impartial hearing, the jury soon gave in their verdict, 'NOT GUILTY.'"
Capt. Ogden, who, forthwith, took possession of the Fort, and, as was the invariable custom, sent the garrison to jail, at Easton ; Sheriff Hacklein returning with them in charge. This, the reader will observe, was the fifth total expulsion of the Yankees.
An additional reward of three hundred pounds was now offered for the arrest of Stewart, and the Governor in his communication to the Assembly, represented the killing of Nathan Ogden, as a treacherous murder, demanding prompt and condign punishment.
Capt. Ogden now devoted himself assiduously to rendering Fort Wyoming impregnable, so far as his means would admit, to any force the Yankees could muster to assail it. February and March passed away without the slightest interruption, or even note of alarm. Too wary to be again so caught, Ogden this time, less assured that his conquest was safe, had remained with his men, to defend what they had purchased at, to him, a price so dear. It was well, though in vain, he did so, for early in April Capt. Zebulon Butler, with Capt. Stewart as an assistant, accompanied by an hundred and fifty armed men, entered the valley, and forthwith laid vigorous seige to Fort Wyoming. Three redoubts were thrown up, one on the opposite side of the river, chiefly with a view to cut off all access to water ;-one on the river bank, between Forts Durkee and Wyoming; the other on the hill, known ever since as “The Redoubt,” by the canal basin, at the upper part of the town of Wilkesbarre. The cannon, which had been carefully hid by the Yankees, too precious to be exposed to capture by a sortie, was placed on this elevation, and with skilful gunners, would have completely commanded Ogden's position. But distance and want of skill rendered it in a very slight degree effective.
Among the new body of emigrants, were two of the Gore family, from Norwich, (whose names will fill a bright and a bloody page in our subsequent annals.) Obadiah Gore, Esq., the father, and Daniel Gore his son, blacksmiths by trade, full of ardour, and replete with Yankee ingenuity. They conceived the design of adding to the ordnance, a new cannon. A large pepperage* log was fashioned, bored, and then hooped from breach to muzzle with stout bands of iron.Painted black, with a red mouth, and mounted on a wagon ;-its appearance at least was sufficiently formidable. The first discharge excited at once admiration and hope among its friends. Re-loaded,
* Presumed to be the Nyssa-Sylvatica, the Upland Tupelo-Tree-or Sour Gum of Marshall.
a heavier charge was driven home that a corresponding execution might be produced,—the cannon split, and so terrible was the explosion that one of the iron bands, thrown a thousand feet across the Susquehanna, was afterwards found in the willows on the river shore.
To courage no way inferior to that of Ogden, the Connecticut party, in Capt. Butler, had a commander, skilled in the arts of war by long service, and so thorough was the investment, and so closely pressed, that not a man could venture out for food, fuel, or water, without being met by a volley from one of the redoubts. The garrison, containing nearly an hundred souls, soon felt the pressure of actual want, (for all were placed on short allowance, and the dread of approaching famine. Husbanding his resources however, in the most prudent manner, and in the darkness and stillness of night bringing up from the river sufficient water to last through the day, Ogden determined to hold out to the last extremity. But without aid, time must exhaust his provisions, and then to surrender would be inevitable. The descent of Capt. Butler had been made with such secrecy and celerity that not the slightest notice of his approach had been received, and instantly the fort had been so completely surrounded, no messenger could be despatched to the Proprietary Government, which was entirely ignorant of the recent events which had transpired at Wyoming, and the relief demanded by the critical state of the garrison. To convey intelligence to head quarters opened the only avenue of hope, and Ogden, as the achievement demanded the ut. most boldness, promptitude and wisdom, determined to be himself the messenger. The deed alone was sufficient to immortalize any man, and stamp his name with the title of hero. A little past midnight on the 12th of July, when all was quiet, one of the Yankee sentinels saw something floating on the river having a very suspicious appear. ance. A shot awakened attention, and directed the eyes of every other sentinel to the spot. A volley was poured in, but producing no apparent effect; the thing still floating gently with the current, the firing was suspended, while the “wonder grew” what the object could be. Capt. Ogden had tied his clothes in a bundle, and fastened his hat to the top; to this was connected a string of several yards in length which he fastened to his arm. Letting himself noiselessly into the water, swimming on his back so deeply as only to allow his lips to breathe-the whole movement demanding the most extraordinary skill and self possession, he floated down, drawing the bundle after him. As he had calculated, this being the only object