« ZurückWeiter »
LIEUT. GOVERNOR CHRISTOPHER GADSDEN.
Christopher Gadsden, lieutenant governor of South Carolina, and a distinguished friend of his country, was born about the year 1724. So high was his reputation in the colony in which he lived, that he was appointed one of the delegates to the congress which met at N. York, in Oct. 1765, to petition against the stamp act. He was also chosen a member of the congress which met in 1774, and on his return early in 1776, received the thanks of the provincial assembly for his services. . He was among the first who openly advocated republican principles, and wished to make his country independent of the monarchical government of Great Britain. ‘The decisive genius,” says Ramsay, ‘of Christopher Gadsden in the south, and of John Adams in the north, at a much earlier day, might have desired a complete separation of America from Great Britain ; but till the year 1776, the rejection of the second petition of congress, and the appearance of Paine's pamphlet, Common Sense, a reconciliation with the mother country was the unanimous wish of almost every other American.” During the siege of Charleston, in 1780, he remained within the lines, with five of the council, while governor Rutledge, with the other three, left the city at the earnest request of gen. Lincoln. Several months after the capitulation, he was taken out of his bed on the 27th of August, and with most of the civil and military officers, transported in a guard ship to St. Augustine. This was done by the order of lord Cornwallis, and it was in violation of the rights of prisoners on parole. Guards were left at their houses, and the private papers of some of them were examined. A parole was offered at St. Augustine ; but such was the indignation of lieut. gov. Gadsden, at the ungenerous treatment which he had received, that he refused to accept it, and bore a close confinement in the castle for forty-two weeks with the greatest fortitude. In 1782, when it became necessary, by the rotation established, to choose a new governor, he was elected to this office ; but he declined it in a short speech to the following effect: ‘I have served you in a variety of stations for thirty years, and I would now cheerfully make one of a forlorn hope in an assault on the lines of Charleston, if it was probable, that with the loss of my life you would be reinstated in the possession of your capital. What I can do for my country, I am willing to do. My sentiments of the American cause from the stamp act downwards, have never changed. I am still of opinion, that it is the cause of liberty and of human nature.--The present times require the vigor and activity of the prime of life; but I feel the in: creasing infirmities of old age to such a degree, that I am conscious I cannot serve you to advantage. I therefore beg for your sakes, and for the sake of the public, that you would indulge me with the liberty of declining the arduous trust.” He continued, however, his exertions for the good of his *: both in the assembly and council,
and notwithstanding the injuries he had suffered, and the immense loss of his property, he zealously opposed the law for confiscating the estates of the adherents to the British government; and contended that sound policy required to forgive and forget. He died in September, 1805, aged eighty-one years.
COLONEL JOHN LAURENS.
John Laurens, a brave officer in the American war, was the son of Henry Laurens, president of Congress, and a native of South Car. olina. John Laurens received his education in England. He joined the army in the beginning of 1777, from which time he was foremost in danger. He was present and distinguished himself in every action of the army under general Washington, and was among the first who entered the British lines at York Town. Early in 1781, while he held the rank of lieut. col. he was selected as the most suitable person to depute on a special mission to France, to solicit a loan of money, and to procure military stores. He arrived in March, and returned in August, having been so successful in the execution of his commission, that Congress passed a vote of thanks for his services. Such was his despatch, that in three days after he repaired to Philadelphia, he finished his business with Congress, and immediately rejoined the American army. On the 27th of August, 1782, in oppo. sing a foraging party of the British, near Combahee river, in South Carolina, he was mortally wounded, and he died at the age of twenty-six years. His father, just released from imprisonment, and happy in a son of such distinction and virtues, now witnessed the desolation of all his hopes. Colonel Laurens, uniting the talents of a great officer with the knowledge of the scholar, and the engaging manners of the gentleman, was the glory of the army, and the idol of his country. Washington, who selected him as his aid, and reposed in him the highest confidence, declared that he could discover no fault in him, unless it was intrepidity, bordering upon rashness. His abilities were exhibited in the legislature and in the cabinet, as well as in the field. He was zealous for the rights of humanity, and, living in a country of slaves, contended, that personal liberty was the birth-right of every human being, however diversified by country, colour, or powers of mind. His insinuating address won the hearts of all his acquaintance, while his sincerity and virtue secured their lasting esteem.
MAJOR GENERAL ISRAEL PUTNAM.
Israel Putnam was born at Salem, Massachusetts, January 7, 1718. His mind was vigorous, but it was never cultivated by education. When he for the first time went to Boston, he was insulted for his rusticity by a boy of twice his size. After bearing his sarcasms until his good nature was exhausted, he attacked and vanquished the
unmannerly fellow, to the great diversion of a crowd of spectators. In running, leaping and wrestling, he almost always bore away the tl26. In 1739, he removed to Pomfret, in Connecticut, where he cultiwated a considerable tract of land. He had, however, to encounter many difficulties, and among his troubles the depredations of wolves upon his sheepfold was not the least. In one night, seventy fine sheep and goats were killed. A she wolf, who with her annual whelps had for several years infested the vicinity, being considered as the principal cause of the havock, Mr. Putnam entered into a combination with a number of his neighbours, to hunt alternately, till they should destroy her. At length the hounds drove her into her den, and a number of persons soon collected with guns, straw, fire and sulphur, to attack the common enemy. But the dogs were afraid to approach her, and the fumes of brimstone could not force her from the cavern. It was now ten o’clock at night. Mr. Putnam proposed to his black servant to descend into the cave and shoot the wolf; but as the negro declined, he resolved to do it himself. Having divested himself of his coat and waistcoat, and having a long rope fastened round his legs, by which he might be pulled back at a concerted signal, he entered the cavern head foremost, with a blazing torch, made of strips of birch bark in his hand. He descended fifteen feet, passed along horizontally ten feet, and then began the gradual ascent, which is sixteen feet in length. He slowly proceeded on his hands and knees in an abode, which was silent as the house of death. Cautiously glancing forwards, he discovered the glaring eye-balls of the wolf, who started at the sight of his torch, gnashed her teeth, and gave a sullen growl. He immediately kicked the rope, and was drawn out with a friendly celerity and violence, which not a little bruised him. Loading his gun with nine buck shot, and carrying it in one hand, while he held the torch with the other, he descended a second time. As he approached the wolf, she howled, rolled her eyes, snapped her teeth, dropped her head between her legs, and was evidently on the point of springing at him. At this moment he fired at her head, and soon found himself drawn out of the cave. Having refreshed himself, he again descended, and seizing the wolf by her ears, kicked the rope, and his companions above with no small exultation, dragged them both out together. During the French war, he was appointed to command a company of the first troops which were raised in Connecticut, in 1755. He rendered much service to the army in the neighbourhood of Crown Point. In 1756, while near Ticonderoga, he was repeatedly in the most imminent danger. He escaped in an adventure of one night with twelve bullet holes in his blanket. In August he was sent out with several hundred men, to watch the motions of the enemy. Being ambuscaded by a party of equal numbers, a general but irregular action took place. Putnam had discharged his fusee several times,
but at length it missed fire, while its muzzle was presented to the breast of a savage. The warrior, with his lifted hatchet, and a tre. mendous war-whoop compelled him to surrender, and then bound him to a tree. In the course of the action, the parties changed their position, so as to bring this tree directly between them. The ball; flew by him incessantly ; many struck the tree, and some passed through his clothes. The enemy now gained possession of the ground, but being afterwards driven from the field, they carried their prisoner with them. At night he was stripped, and a fire was kindled to roast him alive ; but a French officer saved him. The next day he arrived at Ticonderoga, and thence he was carried to Montreal. About the year 1759, he was exchanged, through the ingenuity of his fellow prisoner, col. Schuyler. When peace took place, he returned to his farm. He was ploughing in his field, in 1775, when he heard the news of the battle of Lexington. He immediately unyoked his team, left his plough on the spot, and without changing his clothes, set off for Cam: bridge. He soon went back to Connecticut, levied a regiment, and repaired again to the camp. In a little time he was promoted to the rank of major general. In the battle of Bunker's hill, he exhibited his usual intrepidity. He directed the men to reserve their fire, till the enemy was very near, reminded them of their skill, and told them to take good aim. They did so, and the execution was terri. ble. After the retreat, he made a stand at Winter hill, and drove back the enemy under cover of their ships. When the army was organized by general Washington, at Cambridge, Putnam was ap: pointed to command the reserve. In August, 1776, he was stationed at Brooklyn, on Long Island. After the defeat of our army on the twenty-seventh of that month, he went to New York, and was very serviceable in the city and neighbourhood. In October or Novem. ber, he was sent to Philadelphia to fortify that city. In January, 1777, he was directed to take post at Princeton, where he continued until spring. At this place, a sick prisoner, a captain, requested that a friend in the British army, at Brunswick, might be sent for to assist him in making his will. Putnam was perplexed. He had but fifty men under his command, and he did not wish to have his weak ness known ; yet he was unwilling to deny the request. He however sent a flag of truce, and directed the officer to be brought in the night. In the evening, lights were placed in all the college windows, and in every apartment of the vacant houses throughout the town. The officer on his return, reported that general Putnam's army could not consist of less than four or five thousand men. In the spring he was appointed to the command of a separate army in the highlands of New York. One Palmer, a lieutenant in the tory new levies, wo detected in the camp; governor Tryon reclaimed him as a British officer, threatening vengeance is he was not restored. General Put nam wrote the following pithy reply: “Sir, Nathan Palmer, a lieu
tenant in your king's service, was taken in my eamp as a spy ; he was tried as a spy; he was condemned as a spy ; and he shall be hanged as a spy. P. S. Afternoon. He is hanged.” After the less of fort Montgomery, the commander in chief determined to build another fortification, and he directed Putnam to fix upon a spot. To him belongs the praise of having chosen West Point. The campaign of 1779, which was principally spent in strengthening the works at this place, finished the military career of Putnam. A paralytic affection impaired the activity of his body, and he passed the remainder of his days in retirement, retaining his relish for enjoyment, his love of pleasantry, his strength of memory, and all the faculties of his mind. He died at Brooklyn, Connecticut, May 29, 1790, aged seventy-two years.
MAJOR GENERAL RICHARD MONTGOMERY.
Richard Montgomery, a major general in the army of the United States, was born in the north of Ireland, in the year 1737. He possessed an excellent genius, which was matured by a fine education. Entering the army of Great Britain, he successfully fought her battles with Wolfe, at Quebec, in 1759, and on the very spot, where he was doomed to fall, when fighting against her, under the banners of freedom. After his return to England, he quitted his regiment, in 1772, though in a fair way to preferment. He had imbibed an attachment to America, viewing it as the rising seat of arts and freedom. After his arrival in this country, he purchased an estate in New York, about a hundred miles from the city, and married a daughter of judge Livingston. He now considered himself as an American. When the struggle with Great Britain commenced, as he was known to have an ardent attachment to liberty, and had expressed his readiness to draw his sword on the side of the colonies, the command of the continental forces in the northern department, was entrusted to him and general Schuyler in the fall of 1775.
By the indisposition of Schuyler, the chief command devolved upon him in October. He reduced fort Chamblee, and on the third of November captured St. Johns. On the twelfth, he took Montreal. In December, he joined col. Arnold, and marched to Quebec. The city was besieged, and on the last day of the year it was determined to make an assault. The several divisions were accordingly put in motion, in the midst of a heavy fall of snow, which concealed them from the enemy. Montgomery advanced at the head of the New York troops along the St. Lawrence, and having assisted with his own hands in pulling up the pickets which obstructed his approach to one of the barriers he was determined to force, he was pushing forwards, when one of the guns of the battery was discharged, and he was killed, with his two aids. This was the only gun that was fired, for the enemy had been struck with consternation,