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2d. Capt. Asaph Whittlesey's company, from Plymouth, consisting of forty-four men.
3d. Capt. William McKarrican's company, from Hanover, numbering about forty men. Being also the schoolmaster, and little used to war, though a brave, active, and valuable man, he gave up the command to Capt. Lazarus Stewart; Rosewell Franklin was his lieutenant.
4th. The Lower Wilkesbarre company, commanded by Capt. James Bidlack, Jr., consisting of thirty-eight men.
5th. The Upper Wilkesbarre company, commanded by Capt. Rezin Geer, smaller, but the number not known.
6th. The Kingston company, commanded by Capt. Aholiab Buck, lieutenant Elijah Shoemaker, second in command.
In addition to those in the trainbands, the Judges of the Court, and all the civil officers who were near, went out. Many old men—some of them grandfathers—took their muskets and marched to the field. For instance, the aged Mr. Searle, of Kingston, was one. Having become bald, he wore a wig. Taking out his silver knee-buckles, he said to his family, “ If I fall, I shall not need them. If I come back, they will be safe here.”—Nothing could have been more incongruous, more pitiably unfit, than the mingling of such aged men in the rough onset of battle. Dire was the necessity that compelled it. The old gentleman had a number of grandchildren. Several boys, from fourteen to sixteen, are known to have been on the field. There was a company at Pittston, of thirty or forty men, under Capt. Blanchard, stationed at the fort, to guard the people gathered there. To leave them, and march to Forty Fort, would be to expose them to certain destruction, for the enemy were in sight, on the opposite bank of the river. Capt. Franklin's company, from Huntington and Salem, had not arrived. The other companies of the regiment were at Capouse, and at the “ Lackaway" settlement, too far off to afford assistance. So that there were about two hundred and thirty enrolled men, and seventy old people, boys, civil magistrates, and other volunteers.
Every movement of Col. Z. Butler was watched by a vigilant and wary
foe. No sooner had the march commenced than the news was communicated to Col. John Butler, at Wintermoot's, who immediately despatched a messenger up to Fort Jenkins, for the party there, who were destroying the defences, to hasten down, for the Yankees were coming out to battle. This was between two and three o'clock. A few sentinels alone were left at Forty Fort; and one of these by the name of Cooper, more brave than obedient to
orders, said “ Our people need all their strength on the field. If defeated or successful, my being here will do no good.” And he hurried off to join his neighbours.
Miss Bennett, (since Mrs. Myers,) was one of the crowd of women and children who had resorted to the Forty Fort. After the troops had been gone about half an hour, three men were seen, spurring their jaded horses up the road. As they came to the gate and dismounted, the sweat flowed from the panting flanks of their generous steeds. Two of them were Capt. Durkee and Lieut. Pierce. moment they learned the state of things. We are faint-give us bread; we have not broken our fasts to day.” Such provisions as were at hand were placed before them. Pierce was a lieutenant in Capt. Spalding's company, then about forty miles off, through the Great Swamp. They had ridden nearly all night. Having snatched a morsel of food, they hastened to the field.
Among many patriotic volunteers, justice requires that Anderson Dana, Esq., should be particularly mentioned. He had just returned from duty as a member of Assembly at Hartford. It is impossible that any man could have conducted with a more cheerful spirit, or a more animating zeal. Christopher Avery, Esq., one of the Justices of the Court, who had filled many important stations, and possessed a large share of public confidence, though exempt by law, took post beside his neighbours. Many officers are mentioned, who strictly held no command. Captains Durkee and Ransom were in the battle, and no doubt were referred to, and obeyed by the militia officers, but they held no official station.
As the American troops approached Wintermoot's, they perceived that the fort was in flames. The motive for setting it on fire is not yet understood, probably to prevent its sudden assault and capture; probably to draw attention and conceal their number and movements.
At this point there are two plains, the upper and lower flats, divided by a steep bank of about fifteen or twenty feet in height; the lower a rich sandy loam; the upper a coarse gravel. The fort was on the bank dividing the two plains.
Col. Z. Butler, on approaching the enemy, sent forward Captains Ransom and Durkee, Lieutenants Ross and Wells, as officers whose skill he most relied on, to select the spot, and mark off the ground on which to form the order of battle. On coming up, the column displayed to the left, and under those officers every company took its station, and then advanced in line to the proper position, where
it halted, the right resting on the steep bank noted—the left extending across the gravel flat to a morass, thick with timber and brush that separated the bottom land from the mountain. Yellow and pitch pine trees, with oak shrubs, were scattered all over the plain. On the American right was Capt. Bidlack's company. Next was Capt. Hewitt's, Daniel Gore being one of his Lieutenants. On the extreme left was Capt. Whittlesey's. Col. Butler, supported by Maj. John Garrett, commanded the right wing. Col. Denison, supported by Lieut. Col. George Dorrance, commanded the left. Such was the ground, and such the order of battle. Every thing was judiciously disposed, and conducted in a strictly military and prudent manner. Captains Durkee and Ransom, as experienced officers, in whom great confidence was placed, were stationed, Durkee with Bidlack on the right wing-Ransom with Whittlesey on the left. Col. Butler made a very brief address, just before he ordered the column to display. “Men, yonder is the enemy. The fate of the Hardings tells us what we have to expect if defeated. We come out to fight, not only for liberty, but for life itself, and what is dearer, to preserve our homes from conflagration; our women and children from the tomahawk. Stand firm the first shock, and the Indians will give way. Every man to his duty."
The column had marched up the road running near the bank on which our right rested. On its display, as Denison led off his men, he repeated the expression of Col. Butler—“Be firm, every thing depends on resisting the first shock.”
The left of the enemy rested on Wintermoot's Fort, now on fire, and was commanded by Col. John Butler, who, divested of feathers and finery, appeared on the ground with a handkerchief tied on his head. A flanking party of Indian marksmen, were concealed among some logs and bushes under the bank. Johnson's Royal Greens, commanded by Capt. Caldwell, (if Johnson himself was not present,) formed on Butler's right. Indian marksmen filling the space between. The main body of the Indians, under Brandt, or Gi-engwah-toh,* formed the right wing, and extended to the morass or swamp
From Wintermoot's Fort, to the river in a straight line, was about eighty rods—To Menockasy island, over the low flats in a south direction about a mile. The weather clear and warm.
• Gi-en-gwah-toh, a Seneca. "He who goes in the smoke.”
About four in the afternoon the battle began; Colonel Z. Butler ordered his men to fire, and at each discharge to advance a step. Along the whole line the discharges were rapid and steady. It was evident, on the more open ground the Yankees were doing most execution. As our men advanced, pouring in their platoon fires with great vivacity, the British line gave way, in spite of all their officers efforts to prevent it. The Indian flanking party on our right kept up from their hiding places a galling fire. Lieut. Daniel Gore received a ball through the left arm. “Captain Durkee,” said he, " look sharp for the Indians in those bushes.” Captain D. stepped to the bank to look, preparatory to making a charge and dislodging them, when he fell. On the British Butler's right, his Indian warriors were sharply engaged. They seemed to be divided into six bands, for a yell would be raised at one end of their line, taken up, and carried through, six distinct bodies appearing at each time to repeat the cry. As the battle waxed warmer, that fearful yell was renewed again and again, with more and more spirit. It appeared to be at once their animating shout, and their signal of communication. As several fell near Col. Dorrance, one of his men gave way ; “ Stand up to your work, sir," said he, firmly, but coolly, and the soldier resumed his place.
For half an hour a hot fire had been given and sustained, when the vastly superior numbers of the enemy began to develope its power. The Indians had thrown into the swamp a large force, which now completely outflanked our left. It was impossible it should be otherwise: that wing was thrown into confusion. Col. Denison gave orders that the company of Whittlesey should wheel back, so as to form an angle with the main line, and thus present his front, instead of flank, to the enemy. The difficulty of performing evolutions, by the bravest militia on the field, under a hot fire, is well known. On the attempt the savages rushed in with horrid yells. Some had mistaken the order to fall back, as one to retreat, and that word, that fatal word, ran along the line. Utter confusion now prevailed on the left. Seeing the disorder, and his own men beginning to give way, Col. Z. Butler threw himself between the fires of the opposing ranks, and rode up and down the line in the most reckless exposure. “ Don't leave me, my children, and the victory is ours." But it was too late.
Still on the fated left, men stood their ground. "See,” said Westover to George Cooper, “our men are all retreating, shall we go ?”
“ I'll have one more shot first,” was his reply. At that moment a ball struck a tree just by his head, and an Indian springing towards him with his spear, Cooper drew up his rifle and fired, the Indian sprung several feet from the ground, and fell prostrate on his face.
Come," said Westover. “I'll load first,” replied Cooper-and it is probable this coolness saved them, for the great body of the savages had dashed forward after the flying, and were far in their rear.
On the right, one of his officers said to Captain Hewitt, “The day is lost-see the Indians are sixty rods in our rear, shall we retreat ?"
" I'll be d-d* if I do," was his answer. “ Drummer strike up,” cried he, and strove to rally his men. Every effort was vain. Thus he fought, and there he fell !
Every captain that led a company into action was slain, and in every instance fell on, or near the line. As was said of Bidlack, so of Hewitt, Whittlesey, and the others; “they died at the head of their men.” They fought bravely-every man and officer did his duty, but they were overpowered by three fold their force. In point of numbers the enemy was overwhelmingly superior.
Darius Spafford was just married to Miss Blackman. Receiving a death wound, he fell into the arms of his brother Phineas, by whose side he fought.“ Brother," said he, “I am mortally hurt; take care of Lavina." Stephen Whiton, a young schoolmaster from Connecticut, was also a bridegroom, having recently married the daughter of Anderson Dana, Esq. The father and son-in-law fell together.
The battle being ended, the massacre began.
A portion of the Indian flanking party pushed forward in the rear of the Connecticut line, to cut off retreat to Forty Fort, and then pressed the retreating army towards the river. Monockasy Island affording the only hope of crossing, the stream of flight flowed in that direction through fields of grain. Cooper, and those who remained near the line of battle, saw the main body of the Indians hastening after the fugitives.
At Forty Fort, the bank of the river was lined by anxious wives and mothers, awaiting the issue. Hearing the firing sharply continued, now, hope arose; but when the shots became irregular, and approached nearer and nearer, that hope sank in dismay. Lieut.
*" The accusing spirit flew up to Heaven's chancery with the oath, and as she wrote it down, dropped a tear on the word, and blotted it out forever."