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day, we had, at least, the satisfaction of believing that our fallen companions would not, like Scipio's ghost, “ stalk unrevenged among us.” But nestling in the mire, and starving, and coughing our lungs away, were matters which had not entered into our contract with the government, and on which our commissions, as well as the 6 rules and articles” were silent. It was not so 6 nominated in the bond.” Why could not Uncle Sam send us food, and physic, and a few lusty fellows to help us fight? Where there are no superfluous men, every one who falls leaves a niche; and while we beheld our little force gradually wasting away, it was provoking enough to reflect that our country was full of men, some of whom abused us, some laughed at us, a few praised, and none assisted. I may add, that the foe had vowed our extermination, and on one occasion had marched up to our batteries, filling the air with the dreadful war cry—“no quarterno quarter to the d-d Yankees!!” and that noble spirit of emulation, that generous contention, and courteous interchange of kindly offices upon proper occasions, which should exist among civilized armies, were all swallowed up in the deep hate excited by the cold blooded cruelty
As war, disease, and the doctor, daily thinned our ranks, it seemed evident, that unless supplies should arrive, we must become the victims of that unrelenting barbarity, of which our fellow citizens, on various occasions, have had sufficient experience. Our country, however, still forgot us, and I know not what would have become of us, had it not been for one kind-hearted gentleman. He was a Quaker gentleman; and the Quakers, you know, are famed for benevolence. Slipping out of the Fort one day, about noon, when John Bull never dreamt of such a matter, he dexterously cut off about a third of their army, and by that “ free use of the
of the enemy:
bayonet," which the British commander had recommended upon a recent occasion; he saved his own credit, and the throats and scalps of his men, who filled the air with acclamations. The enemy, completely defeated, retired; and General Brown, not having force enough to pursue, could only make his bow, and wish them good bye.
At this juncture a despatch arrived, announcing that General Izard had left Plattsburgh; was to embark at Sackett's Harbour, and passing up the lake, touch at the mouth of the Eighteen Mile Creek, whence his course would be directed, in a great measure, by the intelligence he might receive from General Brown. It was desirable, therefore, that he should be met at that point by an officer from Fort Erie, who could advise him of the exact situation of the garrison, and the relative positions and strength of the two contending armies, and convey the communications of General Brown. A young artillery officer was accordingly summoned to the general's quarters, and after receiving the necessary instructions, he was ordered to get himself in readiness to set out immediately. “General Izard must be met,” said the commander, “ at the hour he has appointed: can you reach the place by that time?” “Oh, yes, certainly, sir," replied the young artillerist,“ though I must confess that I neither know the route nor the distance." The General smiled, named the distance, hastily indicated the route, and reminding his envoy that there was barely time left to accomplish the journey by the most rapid riding, wished him a pleasant jaunt.
The Bearer of Despatches crossing an arm of the lake, which separates Fort Erie from Buffaloe, repaired to the Quartermaster to procure a horse, and being well mounted, departed early in the afternoon of the same day. Two routes were presented to his choice; the one was the main
road which led by Batavia, and was too circuitous to be travelled within the allotted time; the other was an unfrequented, but more direct path, which, leading in the neighbourhood of Fort Niagara, then in possession of the enemy, was fraught with danger: but it was necessarily chosen. A large cloak disguised the person of our soldier, concealing his arms and military insignia; and he hoped, under the cover of night, to pass the vicinity of the Fort unobserved. By rapid riding he reached the neighbourhood of Schlosser a little before sunset, and being unwilling to approach Queenstown early in the evening, he checked his horse and rode leisurely along. Cooped up, as he had been, he now enjoyed, with an exquisite relish, the luxuries of pure air, exercise, and liberty. His route lay along the margin of the Niagara river, which now separated him from those glorious fields which had been so recently drenched in gore, and in which American valour had been so conspicuously displayed. A few weeks before, he had passed along the opposite shore in all the fervour of youthful hope and military pride, surrounded by the pomp and circumstance of glorious war, by the tumult and glitter of an army with flying colours, and drums and hearts beating. Now the solitary horseman rode alone; the breeze bore not the accents of men, nor did the distant echo whisper danger in his ear, but his eye dwelt upon scenes of interest; well known spots occasionally glanced upon his vision: here an army had been encamped, there a battle fought, and under those trees slept many a companion! The last rays of the sun fell
upon his back, and the trees threw their gigantic shadows along the path before him. At such an hour the eye is most delighted with the beauties of a wild landscape, when the nooks, and glens, and secluded places begin to darken into the gloom of twilight, while
the sunbeams still glitter on the hills and tree-tops, or sleep upon the wave. The Niagara was rippling along its rocky channel, murmuring and fretting as it rushed towards the precipice, over which its descent causes one of the sublimest objects in nature. These circumstances all combined to wrap the heart of the traveller in sweet and pleasing meditation; and he rode on, enjoying those dreams, which, creeping imperceptibly into young hearts, hold the imagination entranced in delight; in irresistible delusions, full of rapture, variety, and beauty. The hour was witching, the scene picturesque, the very air melodious, and the realities around him became mellowed, and softened, and spiritualized into airy creations of the fancy. The mind, warmed into romantic feeling, gave its own hue to the surrounding objects; rude and familiar things took to themselves wings and flew away; vulgar associations were banished; the scenery disposed itself into shapes and shades of beauty; bright and varied colours fell upon the landscape; creatures of fancy peopled the shade, and the breeze murmured in numbers.
Our officer halted a moment at Schlosser to make some inquiries relative to his route, and learning that a countryman had just passed along, whose homeward path led in the very direction desired, he determined to profit by his company and guidance. Spurring his steed, therefore, he rode rapidly on. Near the Falls he overtook the boor, plodding heavily along. He was a man whose general outline announced him to be of the middle age; but his visage placed him in the decline of life. Dissipation had probably anticipated the palsying touch of time, had wrinkled his face, and slightly tinged his hair with the frosty hue of winter. His bloodshot eyes gave proof of habitual intemperance; but there was speculation in them, and a vile speculation it was: it was the keen, cun
ning, steady glance of one who in his time had cut, shuffled, and dealt, who could slip a card, and knew where the trumps lay. With this was mingled the dulness of an illiterate man, and the good humour of one who was willing to be amused, and meant no harm to others. Saving the besetting sin above alluded to, and perhaps the occasional passing of a counterfeit bill upon strong temptation, a small matter for a frontier man, he might have been a right honest fellow; one who knew the courtesies and good feelings of life, passed the cup merrily, would do a neighbourly act when it came in his way, never beat his wife when he was sober, nor troubled his children when they kept out of his way. Such at least was the estimate which our young soldier formed of his companion, during their subsequent ride together, to which it is only necessary to add, that he seemed to have recently parted from good liquor, and to have attained that precise point of elation, which is well understood in every polite circle by the phrase, a little high.
When the two riders encountered, they scrutinized each other with that jealous caution which commonly passed between strangers who met, in those dangerous times, in the vicinity of the hostile armies. The cautious question, and the guarded answer passed mutually, until each had learned as much as he could, and disclosed as much as he pleased. Our officer announced himself as a storekeeper, who had been to the army to make a traffic with the suttlers, having failed in which, he was now returning home in haste, by a route which he was told was nearer than the main road, and wished to get that night to a place called
The countryman lived at that very place, was now going home, although it was still upwards of sixteen miles distant, and he said he would be glad of our traveller's company.