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much as possible, to turn the right flank of the Connecticut people. But this danger having been forseen, and guarded against, the flanking party was repelled. During this contest several lives were lost, and a number on both sides wounded, how many, no record has been kept. A son of Surveyor-General Lukens fell in the engagement; a fine young man, deeply lamented on all sides; but it was the fortune of war.
A circumstance extremely affecting grew out of this battle. A great portion of the male population on the upper waters of the Susquehanna, it is known, in after times sawed lumber during the winter, and descended with it in rafts to market in the spring. The most cordial good understanding had for many years subsisted between the Yankee raftmen and the inhabitants below; the latter being remarkable for their hospitality and kindness. A person who was in the battle saw one of Plunket's men approach with great intrepidity very near the Yankee line, who, taking shelter behind a rock to load, would step out and fire wherever he could bring his rifle to bear. Already several men had fallen-the blood was up; it had become a matter of life or death, and the aims became more close and deadly. The relator watched the opportunity, and as the head of Plunket's brave soldier rose above the rock, he fired, and the man fell. After the battle was decided, going to the place, the relator found a hat band cut by a bullet; the man and the hat were gone.
Being down the river on a raft, many years afterwards, and staying all night with a fine, hospitable old gentleman, they talked of Wyoming, and the ancient troubles there. “I lost a beloved son in the Plunket Invasion,” said the aged father, as a tear fell. “See here," producing a hat perforated by a ball, “ The bullet must have cut the band." The narrator said he never before experienced the depth of the calamities of war—the scene was most painful. Of course, he did not avow the deed, but most deeply deplored it, although never doubting he was doing right at the time, and under the circumstances, in defending his home from the invaders.
Finding Col. Butler's position too strong to be carried by storm, Col. Plunket concluded his rash enterprise by a retreat. On Christmas day he withdrew his troops, they marching as they had come up, on the west side of the river. In the mean time, a party of the Yankees followed on the east side, with a view to capture one of the boats, but Mr. Harvey, who was a prisoner on board, calling to them not to fire, for they might injure their friends, they returned, and left the retreating army to pass down without further pursuit.
The expedition of Col. Plunket* was, in every aspect in which it could be viewed, rash, and ill advised. After the resistance made in 1771, and the two previous years, when they were comparatively weak, the expulsion of the Wyoming people could not have been rationally calculated on, without a long and bloody contest. Just at the opening of the war with Great Britain, to commence a civil war, would seem to have been extremely unwise. In the depth of winter, when the Susquehanna is usually frozen up, to rely on transporting provisions, and the munitions of war in boats, appears to have been setting every precept of prudence at defiance. We see no reason to doubt the courage of Col. Plunket, and his men were unquestionably brave. But however zealous he and some of his troops may have been, the great body of them were extremely indisposed to adopt the harsh measures proposed against the Connecticut people. Though zealous for the rights of Pennsylvania, an impression prevailed that the Connecticut people, though in error, honestly believed their title good, and it was thought by most of them, that some peaceable mode of settling the controversy would be preferable to a resort to violence and arms. Had the Northumberland militia pursued the attack with the zeal of their Commander, they would have given the Yankees, brave and determined as they might have been, infinitely more trouble, and occasioned a much heavier mutual loss of life. It is probable too, that the Resolution of Congress had reached the camp, and rendered many unwilling to pursue the matter further. In recording the transaction, we cannot refrain from the expression of pleasure, that the consequences were to either, no further disastrous.
While these affairs were in progress, the colony of Connecticut had resolved to prohibit any addition being made to the settlement at Wyoming, unless under special license from the General Assembly.
Situated as the inhabitants of Westmoreland were, on the very borders of the Indian towns which spotted the upper branches of the Susquehanna, several of their villages at Tioga, Sheshequin, and Queen Esther's Flats, being in fact within the town of Westmoreland. and whose conduct already gave strong indications of hostility, this resolution prohibing any accessions of strength to the colony, they had sent out to assert and maintain their Charter rights west of New York, must appear to every candid reader, as of a very extraordinary character. Perhaps it may have been done in concert
* See Note at the close of this Letter
with, and to quiet the apprehensions of Pennsylvania. The times demanded union. Patriotism urged the most powerful persuasives that every proper sacrifice should be made to assuage jealousy, and lead to concert in council and action. Connecticut had previously forbidden any settlement on the disputed ground, except under her authority. Two years had not elapsed, and now she positively forbids any further settlement whatever, even under her claim, except upon special license of the Assembly, not likely to be easily obtained. The keeping at home all her able bodied men, and the wealth they might possess, to aid her in the war just commenced, it must be confessed, might have been a motive deriving some sanction from prudence and policy, but none from justice and good faith to the Wyoming settlement.*
A town meeting had been held December 6th, 1775, at which among other officers, Simon Spalding was chosen constable. The fact we quote in illustration of a previous remark, namely, that there was no office so high, or low, demanding the service of any freeman, which was not promptly accepted by the principal and leading men. Every station where the public was to be served, was a station of honour. Simon Spalding soon after held a captain's commission with distinguished honour, in the continental army, and was afterwards a general in the militia. The emoluments of office were a secondary consideration; to serve the country seemed to be, in those patriotic times, a hallowed duty.
But the meeting not having finished the business on which it had met, adjourned to Wednesday, the 20th of the month. Then, as the reader is aware, the whole valley was in commotion, preparing for the reception of Plunket. But a subsequent entry is made by Ezekiel Pierce, the usual Clerk. “This meeting was adjourned until Wednesday, the 20th of December, at 9 of ye o'clock in the forenoon, at ye house of Mr. Jabez Sill.
“ But there was no meeting by reason of ye Pennimites," etc.
Though trifling in itself, yet as we mean to hold the mirror up to nature, and reflect a true picture of those ancient times, the fact must
In addition to the Resolutions of the Connecticut Assembly, we find the following proceedings of Congress on the subject, passed Dec. 23, 1775.
Whereas, the colony of Connecticut has, by a certain Act of their Assembly,“ Resolved, that no further settlements be made on the lands disputed between them an.1 Pennsylvania, without license from the said Assembly.”
Resolred, That it be recommended to the Colony of Connecticut not to introduce any settlers on the said lands, till the further order of this Congress, until the said dispute shall be settled.
be stated. A rivalry for power and precedence had sprung up between Kingston, or the Forty, and Wilkesbarre. The widely extended and rich bottom lands on the west side of the river, Abra. ham's Plains and Shawney, had attracted thither a large portion of the settlers. Why should they cross the river and pay ferriage to attend town meetings in Wilkesbarre? Aye, but Wilkesbarre, with its superb town plot, already seeing itself a county town in perspective, thought nothing could be more reasonable and pleasant than that public business should be transacted on her side. This jealousy had led to a town vote, and it had been decided by a small majority, that a certain tree in Kingston, “ ten rods north of the house of Mr. Timothy Ross, shall be the Public sign-post;" repealing thereby, and repudiating the tree north of Mr. Butler's, in Wilkesbarre. Several town meetings were held in Kingston, and the prudence of Clerks would not, or failed to, state where they were holden. At length a compromise was made, as they had excellent precedent from Home, Hartford and New Haven possessing half-share rights in the honour of having the General Assembly meet in their respective cities. So, too, the County Courts were held alternately at the rival cities of Norwich and New London.
“ Voted—That for the future the Annual town meetings, and Freeman's meetings shall be held, half the time on the east side of the river, and the other half on the west side of the river, for one year."
On the 29th of December, only four days after Col. Plunket had retired, we find the whole settlement together, in “ TOWN MEETING." It was in importance equal to the Wittenagemote of our Saxon ancestors. The rigid Puritanism of the times allowing few amusements, the town meeting was a matter both of business and recreation. When met the most athletic threw the bar, rolled the bullet, wrestled, standing face to face, the right hand on each other's collar, the left hold of each other's elbow, the play with the feet, and the expert trip and twitch, affording a fine opportunity to display activity and skill. Or the parties took each other round the back, seizing by the waistband, the other hands interlocked, and then came the less neat and scientific, but more arduous struggle, the result depending greatly on strength. A third mode was for two to stand at a few rods distance, and rushing in, seize each other, and wrestle rough and tumble. Others again ran foot races, especially the lads, while some of the first in activity would run and jump the string. William Hibberd, it is told with a sort of bold pride by the old men, would cause a
twine to be stretched so high that he could pass under it, just touching his hair-then stepping back a rod or two, he would leap like a deer, so light, so airy, as scarcely to touch the earth, and clear it with ease at a bound.
Several votes were passed in consequence of the Plunket invasion, too important to be omitted.
“ That Mr. Christopher Avery be chosen Agent for this town, to proceed forthwith to his Hon. the Governor of this Colony, and lay our distressed case before him."
Obadiah Gore, jr., was also appointed to proceed to Philadel phia, "and lay before the Honorable Continental Congress, the late invasion made by the tory party of the Pennsylvania people.”
“ Voted–That Titus Hinman and Perrin Ross, be appointed to collect the charity of the people for the support of the widow Baker, the widow Franklin, and the widow Ensign.”
How many single men were slain, or how many more married men whose circumstances were such that their widows would not need the aid of contributions we are not informed. It is probable six or eight were killed in all, and three times that number wounded.
It is not strange that money should have been scarce at Wyoming, as no market invited and rewarded the transportation of their surplus products, but grain, it is inferred, must have been plenty, from the prices at which it was valued. A vote was passed that in payment of taxes, corn should be received at two shillings a bushel, rye at three shillings, and wheat at four shillings, that is thirty-four, fifty, and sixty-seven cents.
So ended the memorable Plunket invasion, and thus closed the eventful year 1775.*
* On a recent visit to Northumberland, (May 1815) Mr. McC- an intelligent gentleman, whose memory reaches back to Revolutionary times, related to me several characteristic anecdotes of Dr. Plunket. He was an Irishman (the name is distinguished in the history of the Emerald Isle,) whose loyalty to his king, neither the blandishments of ambition, the persuasions of interest, nor the terrors of proscription could shake for a moment. Up to the day of his death he would never take the oath of allegiance, which conceded the demise of royal authority in America. Not unfrequently assailed, for he was fearless and free spoken, he went armed with the loaded but of a riding whip, prepared to defend or chastise. A Justice of the Peace before the Revolution, if his decisions were just, his manner of inflicting punishment was frequently odd, if not arbitrary and severe. It would seem that the old English whipping-post and stocks, was unknown in Northumberland; but the Doctor had a stout worm-fence, and sometimes placed the neck of the prisoner between the rails, making them both pillory and stocks, at the same time. He died at an advanced age, a bachelor, and was buried at Sunbury. The father of Mr. McC - was in the Plunket invasion, and some years afterwards received from the treasury (he thinks) $250 for his services on the expedition.