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Thrilling Incidents In American History

• Title
• Preface

Revolutionary War
• Opening Of The Revolution
• The Boston Massacre
• Affair of the Sloop Liberty
• Affair of the Gaspee
• The Tea Riot
• The Boston Port Bill
• The First Continental Congress-Consequent Parliamentary proceedings
• Organization of the Minute-Men
• Patrick Henry-Second Provincial Congress-First Military Enterprise
• Battles of Lexington and Concord
• Battle of Bunker's Hill
• Capture of Ticonderoga
• Second Continental Congress-Washington's Appointment
• Siege of Boston
• Incidents at the Evacuation of Boston
• Burning of Falmouth
• Arnold's Expedition to Quebec
• Siege of Quebec, and Death of Montgomery
• Scenes at Quebec during the Siege
• Expedition against Charleston
• The Declaration of Independence
• The Battle of Long Island
• Washington's Retreat through New Jersey-Capture of General Lee
• Battle of Trenton
• Battle of Princeton
• Capture of General Prescott
• Battle of Brandywine
• Battle of Germantown
• Battle of Red-Bank
• Attack on Fort Mifflin-Retirement of the Army to Valley Forge
• Battle of Bennington
• Murder of Miss M'Crea
• Battle of Stillwater
• Battle of Bemis' Heights, and Retreat of Burgoyne
• Capture of Forts Clinton and Montgomery
• Surrender of Burgoyne
• The Treaty with France
• Attack on Savannah, and Death of Pulaski
• Storming of Stony Point
• General Sullivan's Campaign against the Mohawks
• Tarleton's Quarters
• Battle of Camden, and Death of De Kalb
• Arnold's Treason
• The Loss of the Randolph
• The British Prison-Ships
• Capture of the Serapis
• Putnam's Feat at Horseneck
• Battle of Eutaw Springs
• Wayne's Charge at Green Spring
• Capture of the General Monk
• The Mutinies
• Battle of the Cowpens
• Capture of New London
• Massacre of Wyoming
• Surrender of Cornwallis

War With France
• Capture of L'Insurgente
• The Constellation and Vengeance

War With Tripoli
• Burning of the Philadelphia
• Bombardment of Tripoli
• Loss of the Intrepid
• Expedition of General Eaton

Second War With England
• Battle of Tippecanoe
• Capture of the Guerriere
• Tragical Affair of an Indian Chief
• Battle and Massacre at the River Raisin
• Captain Holmes's Expedition
• Capture of the Caledonia and Detroit
• The Wasp and Frolic
• Gallant Conduct of Lieutenant Allen at the Capture of the Macedonian
• Capture and Destruction of the Java
• Siege of Fort Meigs
• Capture of York, and Death of General Pike
• Defence of Sackett's Harbour
• Defence of Fort Stephenson
• Battle of Lake Erie
• Battle of the Thames
• Gallant Action of Commodore Chauncey under the guns of Kingston Citadel
• The Sacking of Hampton
• Capture of the Peacock
• Massacre at Fort Mimms
• Surrender of Weatherford
• Battle of Niagara
• BattIe of New Orleans

War With Mexico
• Battle of Palo Alto
• Battle of Resaca de la Palma
• Capture of Monterey
• Battle in the Streets of Monterey
• Thrilling Scenes in the Battle of Buena Vista
• Bombardment of Vera Cruz
• Battle of Cerro Gordo
• Battles of Contreras and Churubusco
• Storming of Chapultepec


THE sufferings endured by our brave men, during the long struggle for independence, can scarcely be appreciated by those who live in a more propitious age. Encamped in winter amid driving snows, with no shelter except rude huts, without blankets or shirts, they frequently passed entire days destitute of any food. Their petitions were rejected by Congress, and their pay was often more than a year in arrears. Disease was added to their other miseries-death in every shape stared them in the face. Should their cause fail, nothing was before them but an ignominious fate; and should they gain their independence, their only reward appeared to be utter destitution.

Under these circumstances it is no matter of surprise that discontent against Congress, and a dissatisfaction with the service, should have spread themselves throughout the camp. Men of common mould would not have supported such suffering one week; and amid all the wonders of that wonderful period, one of the greatest is the patience of the revolutionary martyrs.

An unfortunate oversight of Congress, was the enlistment of men for three years, or during the continuance of the war. When the three years expired, the troops claimed their discharge, asserting that the phrase-“during the continuance of the war,” was added only as a provision in case of the war ceasing before the expiration of three years. Congress, however, thought differently, contending that the disputed phrase provided for the continuation of the war beyond three years. Considering the construction of Congress as an attempt at fraud, the soldiers became discontented and exasperated, and peremptorily claimed their discharge. This was positively refused, and now the forbearance of patriotism itself was exhausted.

On the 1st of January, 1781, the whole Pennsylvania line, except a part of three regiments, paraded under arms, seized provisions, ammunition, and six field-pieces, broke into the stables of General Wayne, and took his horses to transport them. The alarm spread like lightning through the camp, messengers rushed toward Wayne's head-quarters, and in half an hour wild uproar was revelling where all had been order and quiet. The officers met in groups, pale and undecided; men that had charged into the throat of blazing batteries, were now irresolute, and feeble as children. The remainder of the line hurried together, and, gaining courage from their presence, the officers joined them, and confronted the insurgents. Shots were exchanged, and a few fell dead. Then the mutineers became furious. Sweeping onward with fixed bayonets, they drove everything before them, and called on their opposers to join them, under pain of instant death. Unable to stand before so overwhelming a tide, they complied, and the revolt became general.

At this moment a single horseman was seen galloping as for life toward the army. Alone, armed only with his pistols, that fierce rider dashed along the ranks, and called for submission. It was General Wayne; he whose wild battle-shout had led them at Brandywine and Germantown, and Monmouth and Stopy Point. But there are moments when love and reverence are flung to the winds, in the struggle for right and honour. Wayne's magic voice had lost its spell. Each soldier sternly grasped his piece, and the march continued. He drew his pistol; but, with a calmness stern and dreadful, they said, “General, we respect and love you. Often have you led us into the field of battle; but we are no longer under your command. We warn you to be on your guard. If you fire your pistols, or attempt to enforce your commands, you are a dead man!” Unable to stem the torrent, he resorted to expostulation. He reminded them of the cause for which they were fighting; of their former patience, and of the ignominy they would acquire by joining the enemy, who were doubtless on the alert to seize this favourable opportunity. “We are not going to the enemy,” was their answer. “On the contrary were they now to come out, you should see us fight under your orders with as much alacrity as ever. But we will no longer be amused. We are determined on obtaining what is our just due. We have been imposed upon, and deceived respecting our term of enlistment; we have received no wages for more than a year; we are destitute of clothing, and have often been deprived of our rations. Now we march to Congress to demand that justice which has so long been denied.” They set out for Philadelphia, moving in the strictest military order, and posting pickets, guards, and sentinefs, around their night camps. Wayne, with other officers, aceompanied them, and, on arriving at Princeton, prevailed on them to halt, and draw up a petition of redress to be presented to Congress.

On hearing of this unexpected occurrence, Sir Henry Clinton hastened to turn it to his own advantage. Well assured that the breath of civil war would blast the prospect of independence far more effectually than any effort he could exert, he sent two emissaries to the revolters, with written instructions that, by laying down their alms and marching to New York, they should receive their arrearages and depreeiation in hard eash, should be well clothed, have a free pardon for all past offences, be protected by the British government, and have no military service imposed upon them, unless voluntarily offered. But Sir Henry was unacquainted with the men with whom he was dealing, and had calculated too far on the influence of Arnold's example. His golden offers were spurned with the disdain of true patriotism, and the commissioners seized. Soon after a committee redressed the wrongs of the insurgents, the British deputies were executed as spies, and the soldiers returned to duty.

The revolt of the New Jersey line was one more deeply tragic. Determined not to temporize with so dangerous an event, Washington despatched Major-General Howe, with five hundred men, to quell the rebellion at all hazards. After four days' marching, through woods and over mountains, in the depth of winter, they reached the huts of the insurgents. Howe then ordered his aid to command the mutineers to appear on parade in front of their camp, unarmed, within five minutes. They hesitated; a second messenger was sent; and, finding all resistance useless, they paraded without arms. A terrible pauJe succeeded-the sickening anticipation of unknown evil. Then three of the ringleaders were brought out, court-martialled on the spot, and sentenced to be immediately shot. Twelve of their guilty companions were selected as executioners. Terrible duty!-each shuddered with horror; and, when ordered to load, shed tears of bitter agony. Overwhelmed by the terrors of death, the victims gazed despairingly from side to side; but no force was near to wrest them from the stern arm of power. Every heart bled with sympathy, yet none dared speak his feelings.

The first victim was led to the distance of a few yards; and placed upon his knees. At a signal from an officer, six of the executioners fired, three aiming at his breast, and three at his head. A stifled groan of agony came from the line, and each man involuntarily closed his eyes. But every gun had missed. The next moment the remaining six fired, and the wretch was hurled into eternity. The second criminal was despatched at the first fire. Half dead with apprehension, the third victim was brought upon the snow. He kneeled down. Already the pieces were aimed, and every muscle shuddered in anticipation of the fatal report. Suddenly he was pardoned. The thrill of joy-of wild relief-at that unexpected moment, was too great even for military discipline. With exclamations of gratitude, an the men rushed toward their officers; and, while tears streamed from their eyes, swore never again to desert the cause.

After the execution was finished, Howe ordered the former officers to resume their stations and command; and then, in a pathetic manner, addressed the whole line by platoons, endeavouring to impress them with a sense of the enormity of their crime, and of the dreadful consequences which might have resulted from it; After this he commanded them to ask pardon of their officers, and promise to devote themselves to duty in future.

In this affair Sir Henry Clinton again made himself detestable, by sending an emissary to the troops, with similar offers to those formerly extended. His designs were again frustrated; after which General Howe returned to head-quarters.