Part 6 out of 7
cliff, and he felt confident that all four were there. He
resolved to surprise them.
Laying the shoes aside, he crept so carefully up the path that he
dislodged no snow and made no noise of any kind. As be gradually
approached "The Alcove" he beard the murmur of voices, and
presently, as he turned an angle in the path, he saw a beam of
glorious mellow light falling on the snow.
But the murmur of the voices sent a great thrill of delight
through him. Low and indistinct as they were, they had a
familiar sound. He knew all those tones. They were the voices
of his faithful comrades, the four who had gone with him through
so many perils and hardships, the little band who with himself
were ready to die at any time, one for another.
He crept a little closer, and then a little closer still. Lying
almost flat on the steep path, and drawing himself forward, he
looked into "The Alcove." A fire of deep, red coals glowed in one
corner, and disposed about it were the four. Paul lay on his
elbow on a deerskin, and was gazing into the coals. Tom Ross was
working on a pair of moccasins, Long Jim was making some kind of
kitchen implement, and Shif'less Sol was talking. Henry could
hear the words distinctly, and they were about himself.
"Henry will turn up all right," he was saying. "Hasn't he always
done it afore? Then ef he's always done it afore he's shorely
not goin' to break his rule now. I tell you, boys, thar ain't
enough Injuns an' Tories between Canady an' New Orleans, an' the
Mississippi an' the Atlantic, to ketch Henry. I bet I could
guess what he's doin' right at this moment."
"What is he doing, Sol?" asked Paul.
"When I shet my eyes ez I'm doin' now I kin see him," said the
shiftless one. "He's away off thar toward the north, skirtin'
around an Injun village, Mohawk most likely, lookin' an'
listenin' an' gatherin' talk about their plans."
"He ain't doin' any sech thing," broke in Long Jim.
"I've sleet my eyes, too, Sol Hyde, jest ez tight ez you've shet
yours, an' I see him, too, but he ain't doin' any uv the things
that you're talkin' about."
"What is he doing, Jim?" asked Paul.
"Henry's away off to the south, not to the north," replied the
long one, "an' he's in the Iroquois village that we burned. One
house has been left standin', an' he's been occupyin' it while
the big snow's on the groun'. A whole deer is hangin' from the
wall, an' he's been settin' thar fur days, eatin' so much an'
hevin' such a good time that the fat's hangin' down over his
cheeks, an' his whole body is threatenin' to bust right out uv
his huntin' shirt."
Paul moved a little on his elbow and turned the other side of his
face to the fire. Then he glanced at the silent worker with the
"Sol and Jim don't seem to agree much in their second sight," he
said. "Can you have any vision, too, Tom?"
"Yes," replied Tom Ross, "I kin. I shet my eyes, but I don't see
like either Sol or Jim, 'cause both uv 'em see wrong. I see
Henry, an' I see him plain. He's had a pow'ful tough time. He
ain't threatenin' to bust with fat out uv no huntin' shirt, his
cheeks ain't so full that they are fallin' down over his jaws.
It's t'other way roun'; them cheeks are sunk a mite, he don't
fill out his clothes, an' when he crawls along he drags his left
leg a leetle, though he hides it from hisself. He ain't spyin'
on no Injun village, an' he ain't in no snug camp with a dressed
deer hangin' by the side uv him. It's t'other way 'roan'. He's
layin' almost flat on his face not twenty feet from us, lookin'
right in at us, an' I wuz the first to see him."
All the others sprang to their feet in astonishment, and Henry
likewise sprang to his feet. Three leaps, and he was in the
"And so you saw me, Tom," he exclaimed, as he joyously grasped
one hand after another. "I might have known that, while I could
stalk some of you, I could not stalk all of you."
"I caught the glimpse uv you," said Silent Tom, while Sol an' Jim
wuz talkin' the foolish talk that they most always talk, an' when
Paul called on me, I thought I would give 'em a dream that 'wuz
true, an' worth tellin'."
"You're right," said Henry. "I've not been having any easy time,
and for a while, boys, it looked as if I never would come back.
Sit down, and I will tell you all about it."
They gave him the warmest place by the fire, brought him the
tenderest food, and he told the long and thrilling tale.
"I don't believe anybody else but you would have tried it,
Henry," said Paul, when they heard of the fearful slide.
"Any one of you would have done it," said Henry, modestly.
"I'm pow'ful glad that you done it for two reasons," said
Shif'less Sol. "One, 'cause it helped you to git away, an' the
other, 'cause that scoundrel, Braxton Wyatt, didn't take you.
'Twould hurt my pride tre-men-jeous for any uv us to be took by
"You speak for us all there, Sol," said Paul.
"What have all of you been doing?" asked Henry.
"Not much of anything," replied Shif'less Sol. We've been
scoutin' several times, lookin' fur you, though we knowed you'd
come in some time or other, but mostly we've been workin' 'roun'
the place here, fixin' it up warmer an' storin' away food."
"We'll have to continue at that for some time, I'm afraid," said
Henry, "unless this snow breaks up. Have any of you heard if any
movement is yet on foot against the Iroquois?"
"Tom ran across some scouts from the militia," replied Paul, "and
they said nothing could be done until warm weather came. Then a
real army would march."
"I hope so," said Henry earnestly.
But for the present the five could achieve little. The snow
lasted a long time, but it was finally swept away by big rains.
It poured for two days and nights, and even when the rain ceased
the snow continued to melt under the warmer air. The water
rushed in great torrents down the cliffs, and would have entered
"The Alcove" had not the five made provision to turn it away. As
it was, they sat snug and dry, listening to the gush of the
water, the sign of falling snow, and the talk of one another.
Yet the time dragged.
"Man wuz never made to be a caged animile," said Shif'less Sol.
"The longer I stay shet up in one place, the weaker I become. My
temper don't improve, neither, an' I ain't happy."
"Guess it's the same with all uv us," said Tom Ross.
But when the earth came from beneath the snow, although it was
still cold weather, they began again to range the forest far in
every direction, and they found that the Indians, and the Tories
also, were becoming active. There were more burnings, more
slaughters, and more scalpings. The whole border was still
appalled at the massacres of Wyoming and Cherry Valley, and the
savages were continually spreading over a wider area. Braxton
Wyatt at the head of his band, and with the aid of his Tory
lieutenant, Levi Coleman, had made for himself a name equal to
that of Walter Butler. As for "Indian" Butler and his men, no
men were hated more thoroughly than they.
The five continued to do the best they could, which was much,
carrying many a warning, and saving some who would otherwise have
been victims. While they devoted themselves to their strenuous
task, great events in which they were to take a part were
preparing. The rear guard of the Revolution was about to become
for the time the main guard. A great eye had been turned upon
the ravaged and bleeding border, and a great mind, which could
bear misfortune-even disaster-without complaint, was preparing to
send help to those farther away. So mighty a cry of distress had
risen, that the power of the Iroquois must be destroyed. As the
warm weather came, the soldiers began to march.
Rumors that a formidable foe was about to advance reached the
Iroquois and their allies, the Tories, the English, and the
Canadians. There was a great stirring among the leaders,
Thayendanegea, Hiokatoo, Sangerachte, the Johnsons, the Butlers,
Claus, and the rest. Haldimand, the king's representative in
Canada, sent forth an urgent call to all the Iroquois to meet the
enemy. The Tories were' extremely active. Promises were made to
the tribes that they should have other victories even greater
than those of Wyoming and Cherry Valley, and again the terrible
Queen Esther went among them, swinging her great war tomahawk
over her head and chanting her song of death. She, more than any
other, inflamed the Iroquois, and they were eager for the coming
Timmendiquas had gone back to the Ohio country in the winter,
but, faithful to his promise to give Thayendanegea help to the
last, he returned in the spring with a hundred chosen warriors of
the Wyandot nation, a reenforcement the value of which could not
be estimated too highly.
Henry and his comrades felt the stir as they roamed through the
forest, and they thrilled at the thought that the crisis was
approaching. Then they set out for Lake Otsego, where the army
was gathering for the great campaign. They were equipped
thoroughly, and they were now so well known in the region that
they knew they would be welcome.
They traveled several days, and were preparing to encamp for the
last night within about fifteen miles of the lake when Henry,
scouting as usual to see if an enemy were near, heard a footstep
in the forest. He wheeled instantly to cover behind the body of
a great beech tree, and the stranger sought to do likewise, only
he had no convenient tree that was so large. It was about the
twelfth hour, but Henry could see a portion of a body protruding
beyond a slim oak, and he believed that he recognized it. As he
held the advantage he would, at any rate, hail the stranger.
"Ho, Cornelius Heemskerk, Dutchman, fat man, great scout and
woodsman, what are you doing in my wilderness? Stand forth at
once and give an account of yourself, or I will shoot off the
part of your body that sticks beyond that oak tree!"
The answer was instantaneous. A round, plump body revolved from
the partial shelter of the tree and stood upright in the open,
rifle in hand and cap thrown back from a broad ruddy brow.
"Ho, Mynheer Henry Ware," replied Cornelius Heemskerk in a loud,
clear tone, "I am in your woods on perhaps the same errand that
you are. Come from behind that beech and let us see which has
the stronger grip."
Henry stood forth, and the two clasped hands in a grip so
powerful that both winced. Then they released hands
simultaneously, and Heemskerk asked:
"And the other four mynheers? Am I wrong to say that they are
near, somewhere ?"
"You are not wrong," replied Henry. "They are alive, well and
hungry, not a mile from here. There is one man whom they would
be very glad to see, and his name is Cornelius Heemskerk, who is
roaming in our woods without a permit."
The round, ruddy face of the Dutchman glowed. It was obvious
that he felt as much delight in seeing Henry as Henry felt in
"My heart swells," he said. "I feared that you might have been
killed or scalped, or, at the best, have gone back to that far
land of Kentucky."
"We have wintered well," said Henry, "in a place of which I shall
not tell you now, and we are here to see the campaign through."
"I come, too, for the same purpose," said Heemskerk. "We shall be
together. It is goot." "Meanwhile," said Henry, "our camp
fire is lighted. Jim Hart, whom you have known of old, is
cooking strips of meat over the coals, and, although it is a mile
away, the odor of them is very pleasant in my nostrils. I wish
to go back there, and it will be all the more delightful to me,
and to those who wait, if I can bring with me such a welcome
"Lead on, mynheer," said Cornelius Heemskerk sententiously.
He received an equally emphatic welcome from the others, and then
they ate and talked. Heemskerk was sanguine.
"Something will be done this time," he said. "Word has come from
the great commander that the Iroquois must be crushed. The
thousands who have fallen must be avenged, and this great fire
along our border must be stopped. If it cannot be done, then we
perish. We have old tales in my own country of the cruel deeds
that the Spaniards did long, long ago, but they were not worse
than have been done here."
The five made no response, but the mind of every one of them
traveled back to Wyoming and all that they had seen there, and
the scars and traces of many more tragedies.
They reached the camp on Lake Otsego the next day, and Henry saw
that all they had heard was true. The most formidable force that
they had ever seen was gathering. There were many companies in
the Continental buff and blue, epauletted officers, bayonets and
cannon. The camp was full of life, energy, and hope, and the
five at once felt the influence of it. They found here old
friends whom they had known in the march on Oghwaga, William
Gray, young Taylor, and others, and they were made very welcome.
They were presented to General James Clinton, then in charge,
received roving commissions as scouts and hunters, and with
Heemskerk and the two celebrated borderers, Timothy Murphy and
David Elerson, they roamed the forest in a great circle about the
lake, bringing much valuable information about the movements of
the enemy, who in their turn were gathering in force, while the
royal authorities were dispatching both Indians and white men
from Canada to help them.
These great scouting expeditions saved the five from much
impatience. It takes a long time for an army to gather and then
to equip itself for the march, and they were so used to swift
motion that it was now a part of their nature. At last the army
was ready, and it left the lake. Then it proceeded in boats down
the Tioga flooded to a sufficient depth by an artificial dam
built with immense labor, to its confluence with the larger
river. Here were more men, and the five saw a new commander,
General James Sullivan, take charge of the united force. Then
the army, late in August, began its march upon the Iroquois.
The five were now in the van, miles ahead of the main guard.
They knew that no important movement of so large a force could
escape the notice of the enemy, but they, with other scouts, made
it their duty to see that the Americans marched into no trap.
It was now the waning summer. The leaves were lightly touched
with brown, and the grass had begun to wither. Berries were
ripening on the vines, and the quantity of game had increased,
the wild animals returning to the land from which civilized man
had disappeared. The desolation seemed even more complete than
in the autumn before. In the winter and spring the Iroquois and
Tories had destroyed the few remnants of houses that were left.
Braxton Wyatt and his band had been particularly active in this
work, and many tales had come of his cruelty and that of his
swart Tory lieutenant, Coleman. Henry was sure, too, that
Wyatt's band, which numbered perhaps fifty Indians and Tories,
was now in front of them.
He, his comrades, Heemskerk, Elerson, Murphy, and four others,
twelve brave forest runners all told, went into camp one night
about ten miles ahead of the army. They lighted no fire, and,
even had it been cold, they would not have done so, as the region
was far too dangerous for any light. Yet the little band felt no
fear. They were only twelve, it is true, but such a twelve! No
chance would either Indians or Tories have to surprise them.
They merely lay down in the thick brushwood, three intending to
keep watch while the others slept. Henry, Shif'less Sol, and
Heemskerk were the sentinels. It was very late, nearly midnight;
the sky was clear, and presently they saw smoke rings ascending
from high hills to their right, to be answered soon by other
rings of smoke to their left. The three watched them with but
little comment, and read every signal in turn. They said: "The
enemy is still advancing," "He is too strong for us...... We must
retreat and await our brethren."
"It means that there will be no battle to-morrow, at least,"
whispered Heemskerk. " Brant is probably ahead of us in command,
and he will avoid us until he receives the fresh forces from
"I take it that you're right," Henry whispered back.
"Timmendiquas also is with him, and the two great chiefs are too
cunning to fight until they can bring their last man into
"An' then," said the shiftless one, "we'll see what happens."
"Yes," said Henry very gravely, "we'll see what happens. The
Iroquois are a powerful confederacy. They've ruled in these
woods for hundreds of years. They're led by great chiefs, and
they're helped by our white enemies. You can't tell what would
happen even to an army like ours in an ambush."
Shif'less Sol nodded, and they said no more until an hour later,
when they heard footsteps. They awakened the others, and the
twelve, crawling to the edge of the brushwood, lay almost flat
upon their faces, with their hands upon the triggers of their
Braxton Wyatt and his band of nearly threescore, Indians and
Tories in about equal numbers, were passing. Wyatt walked at the
head. Despite his youth, he had acquired an air of command, and
he seemed a fit leader for such a crew. He wore a faded royal
uniform, and, while a small sword hung at his side, he also
carried a rifle on his shoulder. Close behind him was the swart
and squat Tory, Coleman, and then came Indians and Tories
The watchful eyes of Henry saw three fresh scalps hanging from as
many belts, and the finger that lay upon the trigger of his rifle
fairly ached to press it. What an opportunity this would be if
the twelve were only forty, or even thirty! With the advantage
of surprise they might hope to annihilate this band which had won
such hate for itself on the border. But twelve were not enough
and twelve such lives could not be spared at a time when the army
needed them most.
Henry pressed his teeth firmly together in order to keep down his
disappointment by a mere physical act if possible. He happened
to look at Shif'less Sol, and saw that his teeth were pressed
together in the same manner. It is probable that like feelings
swayed every one of the twelve, but they were so still in the
brushwood that no Iroquois heard grass or leaf rustle. Thus the
twelve watched the sixty pass, and after they were gone, Henry,
Shif'less Sol, and Tim Murphy followed for several miles. They
saw Wyatt proceed toward the Chemung River, and as they
approached the stream they beheld signs of fortifications. It
was now nearly daylight, and, as Indians were everywhere, they
turned back. But they were convinced that the enemy meant to
fight on the Chemung.
A GLOOMY COUNCIL
The next night after Henry Ware and his comrades lay in the
brushwood and saw Braxton Wyatt and his band pass, a number of
men, famous or infamous in their day, were gathered around a low
camp fire on the crest of a small hill. The most distinguished
of them all in looks was a young Indian chief of great height and
magnificent build, with a noble and impressive countenance. He
wore nothing of civilized attire, the nearest approach to it
being the rich dark-blue blanket that was flung gracefully over
his right shoulder. It was none other than the great Wyandot
chief, Timmendiquas, saying little, and listening without
expression to the words of the others.
Near Timmendiquas sat Thayendanegea, dressed as usual in his
mixture of savage and civilized costume, and about him were other
famous Indian chiefs, The Corn Planter, Red jacket, Hiokatoo,
Sangerachte, Little Beard, a young Seneca renowned for ferocity,
On the other side of the fire sat the white men: the young Sir
John Johnson, who, a prisoner to the Colonials, had broken his
oath of neutrality, the condition of his release, and then,
fleeing to Canada, had returned to wage bloody war on the
settlements; his brother-in-law, Colonel Guy Johnson; the swart
and squat John Butler of Wyoming infamy; his son, Walter Butler,
of the pallid face, thin lips, and cruel heart; the Canadian
Captain MacDonald; Braxton Wyatt; his lieutenant, the dark Tory,
Coleman; and some others who had helped to ravage their former
Sir John Johnson, a tall man with blue eyes set close together,
wore the handsome uniform of his Royal Greens; he had committed
many dark deeds or permitted them to be done by men under his
command, and he had secured the opportunity only through his
broken oath, but he had lost greatly. The vast estates of his
father, Sir William Johnson, were being torn from him, and
perhaps he saw, even then, that in return for what he had done he
would lose all and become an exile from the country in which he
It was not a cheerful council. There was no exultation as after
Wyoming and Cherry Valley and the Minisink and other places. Sir
John bit his lip uneasily, and his brother-in-law, resting his
hand on his knee, stared gloomily at the fire. The two Butlers
were silent, and the dark face of Thayendanegea was overcast.
A little distance before these men was a breastwork about half a
mile long, connecting with a bend of the river in such a manner
that an enemy could attack only in front and on one flank, that
flank itself being approached only by the ascent of a steep ridge
which ran parallel to the river. The ground about the camp was
covered with pine and scrub oaks. Many others had been cut down
and added to the breastwork. A deep brook ran at the foot of the
hill on which the leaders sat. About the slopes of this hill and
another, a little distance away, sat hundreds of Indian warriors,
all in their war paint, and other hundreds of their white allies,
conspicuous among them Johnson's Royal Greens and Butler's
Rangers. These men made but little noise now. They were resting
Thayendanegea was the first to break the silence in the group at
the fire. He turned his dark face to Sir John Johnson and said
in his excellent English: "The king promised us that if we would
take up arms for him against the Yankees, he would send a great
army, many thousands, to help us. We believed him, and we took
up the hatchet for him. We fought in the dark and the storm with
Herkimer at the Oriskany, and many of our warriors fell. But we
did not sulk in our lodges. We have ravaged and driven in the
whole American border along a line of hundreds of miles. Now the
Congress sends an army to attack us, to avenge what we have done,
and the great forces of the king are not here. I have been
across the sea; I have seen the mighty city of London and its
people as numerous as the blades of grass. Why has not the king
kept his promise and sent men enough to save the Iroquois ?"
Sir John Johnson and Thayendanegea were good friends, but the
soul of the great Mohawk chief was deeply stirred. His
penetrating mind saw the uplifted hand about to strike-and the
target was his own people. His tone became bitterly sarcastic as
he spoke, and when he ceased he looked directly at the baronet in
a manner that showed a reply must be given. Sir John moved
uneasily, but he spoke at last.
"Much that you say is true, Thayendanegea," he admitted, "but the
king has many things to do. The war is spread over a vast area,
and he must keep his largest armies in the East. But the Royal
Greens, the Rangers, and all others whom we can raise, even in
Canada, are here to help you. In the coming battle your fortunes
are our fortunes."
Thayendanegea nodded, but he was not yet appeased. His glance
fell upon the two Butlers, father and son, and he frowned.
"There are many in England itself," he said, "who wish us harm,
and who perhaps have kept us from receiving some of the help that
we ought to have. They speak of Wyoming and Cherry Valley, of
the torture and of the slaughter of women and children, and they
say that war must not be carried on in such a way. But there are
some among us who are more savage than the savages themselves, as
they call us. It was you, John Butler, who led at Wyoming, and
it was you, Walter Butler, who allowed the women and children to
be killed at Cherry Valley, and more would have been slain there
had I not, come up in time."
The dark face of "Indian" Butler grew darker, and the pallid face
of his son grew more pallid. Both were angry, and at the same
time a little afraid.
"We won at Wyoming in fair battle," said the elder Butler.
"But afterwards?" said Thayendanegea.
The man was silent.
"It is these two places that have so aroused the Bostonians
against us," continued Thayendanegea. "It is because of them
that the commander of the Bostonians has sent a great army, and
the Long House is threatened with destruction."
"My son and I have fought for our common cause," said "Indian"
Butler, the blood flushing through his swarthy face.
Sir John Johnson interfered.
"We have admitted, Joseph, the danger to the Iroquois," he said,
calling the chieftain familiarly by his first Christian name,
"but I and my brother-in-law and Colonel Butler and Captain
Butler have already lost though we may regain. And with this
strong position and the aid of ambush it is likely that we can
defeat the rebels."
The eyes of Thayendanegea brightened as he looked at the long
embankment, the trees, and the dark forms of the warriors
scattered numerously here and there.
"You may be right, Sir John," he said; "yes, I think you are
right, and by all the gods, red and white, we shall see. I wish
to fight here, because this is the best place in which to meet
the Bostonians. What say you, Timmendiquas, sworn brother of
mine, great warrior and great chief of the Wyandots, the bravest
of all the western nations?"
The eye of Timmendiquas expressed little, but his voice was
sonorous, and his words were such as Thayendanegea wished to
"If we fight-and we must fight-this is the place in which to meet
the, white army," he said. "The Wyandots are here to help the
Iroquois, as the Iroquois would go to help them. The Manitou of
the Wyandots, the Aieroski of the Iroquois, alone knows the end."
He spoke with the utmost gravity, and after his brief reply he
said no more. All regarded him with respect and admiration.
Even Braxton Wyatt felt that it was a noble deed to remain and
face destruction for the sake of tribes not his own.
Sir John Johnson turned to Braxton Wyatt, who had sat all the
while in silence.
"You have examined the evening's advance, Wyatt," he said. "What
further information can you give us?"
"We shall certainly be attacked to-morrow," replied Wyatt, "and
the American army is advancing cautiously. It has out strong
flanking parties, and it is preceded by the scouts, those
Kentuckians whom I know and have met often, Murphy, Elerson,
Heemskerk, and the others."
"If we could only lead them into an ambush," said Sir John. "Any
kind of troops, even the best of regulars, will give way before
an unseen foe pouring a deadly fire upon them from the deep
woods. Then they magnify the enemy tenfold."
"It is so," said the fierce old Seneca chief, Hiokatoo. "When we
killed Braddock and all his men, they thought that ten warriors
stood in the moccasins of only one."
Sir John frowned. He did not like this allusion to the time when
the Iroquois fought against the English, and inflicted on them a
great defeat. But he feared to rebuke the old chief. Hiokatoo
and the Senecas were too important.
"There ought to be a chance yet for an ambuscade," he said. "The
foliage is still thick and heavy, and Sullivan, their general, is
not used to forest warfare. What say you to this, Wyatt?"
Wyatt shook his head. He knew the caliber of the five from
Kentucky, and he had little hope of such good fortune.
"They have learned from many lessons," he replied, and their
scouts are the best. Moreover, they will attempt anything."
They relapsed into silence again, and the sharp eyes of the
renegade roved about the dark circle of trees and warriors that
inclosed them. Presently he saw something that caused him to
rise and walk a little distance from the fire. Although his eye
suspected and his mind confirmed, Braxton Wyatt could not believe
that it was true. It was incredible. No one, be he ever so
daring, would dare such a thing. But the figure down there among
the trees, passing about among the warriors, many of whom did not
know one another, certainly looked familiar, despite the Indian
paint and garb. Only that of Timmendiquas could rival it in
height and nobility. These were facts that could not be hidden
by any disguise.
"What is it, Wyatt?" asked Sir John. "What do you see? Why do
you look so startled?"
Wyatt sought to reply calmly.
"There is a warrior among those trees over there whom I have not
seen here before," he replied. "he is as tall and as powerful as
Timmendiquas, and there is only one such. There is a spy among
us, and it is Henry Ware."
He snatched a pistol from his belt, ran forward, and fired at the
flitting figure, which was gone in an instant among the trees and
"What do you say?" exclaimed Thayendanegea, as he ran forward, "a
spy, and you know him to be such!"
"Yes, he is the worst of them all," replied Wyatt. "I know him.
I could not mistake him. But he has dared too much. He cannot
The great camp was now in an uproar. The tall figure was seen
here and there, always to vanish quickly. Twenty shots were
fired at it. None hit. Many more would have been fired, but the
camp was too much crowded to take such a risk. Every moment the
tumult and confusion increased, but Thayendanegea quickly posted
warriors on the embankment and the flanks, to prevent the escape
of the fugitive in any of those directions.
But the tall figure did not appear at either embankment or flank.
It was next seen near the river, when a young warrior, striving
to strike with a tomahawk, was dashed to the earth with great
force. The next instant the figure leaped far out into the
stream. The moonlight glimmered an instant on the bare head,
while bullets the next moment pattered on the water where it had
been. Then, with a few powerful strokes, the stranger reclaimed
the land, sprang upon the shore, and darted into the woods with
more vain bullets flying about him. But he sent back a shout of
irony and triumph that made the chiefs and Tories standing on the
bank bite their lips in anger.
BATTLE OF THE CHEMUNG
Paul had been sleeping heavily, and the sharp, pealing notes of a
trumpet awoke him at the sunburst of a brilliant morning. Henry
was standing beside him, showing no fatigue from the night's
excitement, danger, and escape, but his face was flushed and his
"Up, Paul! Up!" he cried. "We know the enemy's position, and we
will be in battle before another sun sets."
Paul was awake in an instant, and the second instant he was on
his feet, rifle in hand, and heart thrilling for the great
attack. He, like all the others, had slept on such a night fully
dressed. Shif'less Sol, Long Jim, Silent Tom, Heemskerk, and the
rest were by the side of him, and all about them rose the sounds
of an army going into battle, commands sharp and short, the
rolling of cannon wheels, the metallic rattle of bayonets, the
clink of bullets poured into the pouches, and the hum of men
talking in half-finished sentences.
It was to all the five a vast and stirring scene. It was the
first time that they bad ever beheld a large and regular army
going into action, and they were a part of it, a part by no means
unimportant. It was Henry, with his consummate skill and daring,
who had uncovered the position of the enemy, and now, without
snatching a moment's sleep, he was ready to lead where the fray
might be thickest.
The brief breakfast finished, the trumpet pealed forth again, and
the army began to move through the thick forest. A light wind,
crisp with the air of early autumn, blew, and the leaves rustled.
The sun, swinging upward in the east, poured down a flood of
brilliant rays that lighted up everything, the buff and blue
uniforms, the cannon, the rifles, the bayonets, and the forest,
still heavy with foliage.
"Now! now!" thought every one of the five, "we begin the
vengeance for Wyoming!"
The scouts were well in front, searching everywhere among the
thickets for the Indian sharpshooters, who could scorch so
terribly. As Braxton Wyatt had truly said, these scouts were the
best in the world. Nothing could escape the trained eyes of
Henry Ware and his comrades, and those of Murphy, Ellerson, and
the others, while off on either flank of the army heavy
detachments guarded against any surprise or turning movement.
They saw no Indian sign in the woods. There was yet a deep
silence in front of them, and the sun, rising higher, poured its
golden light down upon the army in such an intense, vivid flood
that rifle barrels and bayonets gave back a metallic gleam. All
around them the deep woods swayed and rustled before the light
breeze, and now and then they caught glimpses of the river, its
surface now gold, then silver, under the shining sun.
Henry's heart swelled as he advanced. He was not revengeful, but
he had seen so much of savage atrocity in the last year that he
could not keep down the desire to see punishment. It is only
those in sheltered homes who can forgive the tomahawk and the
stake. Now he was the very first of the scouts, although his
comrades and a dozen others were close behind him.
The scouts went so far forward that the army was hidden from them
by the forest, although they could yet hear the clank of arms and
the sound of commands.
Henry knew the ground thoroughly. He knew where the embankment
ran, and he knew, too, that the Iroquois had dug pits, marked by
timber. They were not far ahead, and the scouts now proceeded
very slowly, examining every tree and clump of bushes to see
whether a lurking enemy was hidden there. The silence endured
longer than he had thought. Nothing could be seen in front save
the waving forest.
Henry stopped suddenly. He caught a glimpse of a brown
shoulder's edge showing from behind a tree, and at his signal all
the scouts sank to the ground.
The savage fired, but the bullet, the first of the battle,
whistled over their heads. The sharp crack, sounding triply loud
at such a time, came back from the forest in many echoes, and a
light puff of smoke arose. Quick as a flash, before the brown
shoulder and body exposed to take aim could be withdrawn, Tom
Ross fired, and the Mohawk fell, uttering his death yell. The
Iroquois in the woods took up the cry, pouring forth a war whoop,
fierce, long drawn, the most terrible of human sounds, and before
it died, their brethren behind the embankment repeated it in
tremendous volume from hundreds of throats. It was a shout that
had often appalled the bravest, but the little band of scouts
were not afraid. When its last echo died they sent forth a
fierce, defiant note of their own, and, crawling forward, began
to send in their bullets.
The woods in front of them swarmed with the Indian skirmishers,
who replied to the scouts, and the fire ran along a long line
through the undergrowth. Flashes of flames appeared, puffs of
smoke arose and, uniting, hung over the trees. Bullets hissed.
Twigs and bark fell, and now and then a man, as they fought from
tree to tree. Henry caught one glimpse of a face that was white,
that of Braxton Wyatt, and he sought a shot at the renegade
leader, but he could not get it. But the scouts pushed on, and
the Indian and Tory skirmishers dropped back. Then on the flanks
they began to hear the rattle of rifle fire. The wings of the
army were in action, but the main body still advanced without
firing a shot.
The scouts could now see through the trees the embankments and
rifle pits, and they could also see the last of the Iroquois and
Tory skirmishers leaping over the earthworks and taking refuge
with their army. Then they turned back and saw the long line of
their own army steadily advancing, while the sounds of heavy
firing still continued on both flanks. Henry looked proudly at
the unbroken array, the front of steel, and the cannon. He felt
prouder still when the general turned to him and said:
"You have done well, Mr. Ware; you have shown us exactly where
the enemy lies, and that will save us many men. Now bigger
voices than those of the rifles shall talk."
The army stopped. The Indian position could be plainly seen.
The crest of the earthwork was lined with fierce, dark faces, and
here and there among the brown Iroquois were the green uniforms
of the Royalists.
Henry saw both Thayendanegea and Timmendiquas, the plumes in
their hair waving aloft, and he felt sure that wherever they
stood the battle would be thickest.
The Americans were now pushing forward their cannon, six
three-pounders and two howitzers, the howitzers, firing
five-and-a-half-inch shells, new and terrifying missiles to the
Indians. The guns were wheeled into position, and the first
howitzer was fired. It sent its great shell in a curving line at
and over the embankment, where it burst with a crash, followed by
a shout of mingled pain and awe. Then the second howitzer, aimed
well like the first, sent a shell almost to the same point, and a
like cry came back.
Shif'less Sol, watching the shots, jumped up and down in
"That's the medicine!" he cried. "I wonder how you like that,
you Butlers an' Johnsons an' Wyatts an' Mohawks an' all the rest
o' your scalp-taking crew! Ah, thar goes another! This ain't
The three-pounders also opened fire, and sent their balls
squarely into the rifle pits and the Indian camp. The Iroquois
replied with a shower of rifle bullets and a defiant war whoop,
but the bullets fell short, and the whoop hurt no one.
The artillery, eight pieces, was served with rapidity and
precision, while the riflemen, except on their flanks, where they
were more closely engaged, were ordered to hold their fire. The
spectacle was to Henry and his comrades panoramic in its effect.
They watched the flashes of fire from the mouths of the cannon,
the flight of the great shells, and the bank of smoke which soon
began to lower like a cloud over the field. They could picture
to themselves what was going on beyond the earthwork, the dead
falling, the wounded limping away, earth and trees torn by shell
and shot. They even fancied that they could hear the voices of
the great chiefs, Thayendanegea and Timmendiquas, encouraging
their men, and striving to keep them in line against a fire not
as deadly as rifle bullets at close quarters, but more
Presently a cloud of skirmishers issued once more from the Indian
camp, creeping among the trees and bushes, and seeking a chance
to shoot down the men at the guns. But sharp eyes were watching
"Come, boys," exclaimed Henry. "Here's work for us now."
He led the scouts and the best of the riflemen against the
skirmishers, who were soon driven in again. The artillery fire
had never ceased for a moment, the shells and balls passing over
their heads. Their work done, the sharpshooters fell back again,
the gunners worked faster for a while, and then at a command they
ceased suddenly. Henry, Paul, and all the others knew
instinctively what was going to happen. They felt it in every
bone of them. The silence so sudden was full of meaning.
"Now!" Henry found himself exclaiming. Even at that moment the
order was given, and the whole army rushed forward, the smoke
floating away for the moment and the sun flashing off the
bayonets. The five sprang up and rushed on ahead. A sheet of
flame burst from the embankment, and the rifle pits sprang into
fire. The five beard the bullets whizzing past them, and the
sudden cries of the wounded behind them, but they never ceased to
rush straight for the embankment.
It seemed to Henry that he ran forward through living fire.
There was one continuous flash from the earthwork, and a
continuous flash replied. The rifles were at work now, thousands
of them, and they kept up an incessant crash, while above them
rose the unbroken thunder of the cannon. The volume of smoke
deepened, and it was shot through with the sharp, pungent odor of
Henry fired his rifle and pistol, almost unconsciously reloaded,
and fired again, as he ran, and then noticed that the advance had
never ceased. It had not been checked even for a moment, and the
bayonets of one of the regiments glittered in the sun a straight
line of steel.
Henry kept his gaze fixed upon a point where the earthwork was
lowest. He saw there the plumed head of Thayendanegea, and he
intended to strike if he could. He saw the Mohawk gesticulating
and shouting to his men to stand fast and drive back the charge.
He believed even then, and he knew later, that Thayendanegea and
Timmendiquas were showing courage superior to that of the
Johnsons and Butters or any of their British and Canadian allies.
The two great chiefs still held their men in line, and the
Iroquois did not cease to send a stream of bullets from the
Henry saw the brown faces and the embankment coming closer and
closer. He saw the face of Braxton Wyatt appear a moment, and he
snapped his empty pistol at it. But it was hidden the next
instant behind others, and then they were at the embankment. He
saw the glowing faces of his comrades at his side, the singular
figure of Heemskerk revolving swiftly, and behind them the line
of bayonets closing in with the grimness of fate.
Henry leaped upon the earthwork. An Indian fired at him point
blank, and he swung heavily with his clubbed rifle. Then his
comrades were by his side, and they leaped down into the Indian
camp. After them came the riflemen, and then the line of
bayonets. Even then the great Mohawk and the great Wyandot
shouted to their men to stand fast, although the Royal Greens and
the Rangers had begun to run, and the Johnsons, the Butlers,
McDonald, Wyatt, and the other white men were running with them.
Henry, with the memory of Wyoming and all the other dreadful
things that had come before his eyes, saw red. He was conscious
of a terrible melee, of striking again and again with his clubbed
rifle, of fierce brown faces before him, and of Timmendiquas and
Thayedanegea rushing here and there, shouting to their warriors,
encouraging them, and exclaiming that the battle was not lost.
Beyond he saw the vanishing forms of the Royal Greens and the
Rangers in full flight. But the Wyandots and the best of the
Iroquois still stood fast until the pressure upon them became
overwhelming. When the line of bayonets approached their breasts
they fell back. Skilled in every detail of ambush, and a
wonderful forest fighter, the Indian could never stand the
bayonet. Reluctantly Timmendiquas, Thayendanegea and the
Mohawks, Senecas, and Wyandots, who were most strenuous in the
conflict, gave ground. Yet the battlefield, with its numerous
trees, stumps, and inequalities, still favored them. They
retreated slowly, firing from every covert, sending a shower of
bullets, and now and then tittering the war whoop.
Henry heard a panting breath by his side. He looked around and
saw the face of Heemskerk, glowing red with zeal and exertion.
"The victory is won already!" said he. "Now to drive it home!"
"Come on," cried Henry in return, "and we'll lead!"
A single glance showed him that none of his comrades had fallen.
Long Jim and Tom Ross had suffered slight wounds that they
scarcely noticed, and they and the whole group of scouts were
just behind Henry. But they now took breath, reloaded their
rifles, and, throwing themselves down in Indian fashion, opened a
deadly fire upon their antagonists. Their bullets searched all
the thickets, drove out the Iroquois, and compelled them to
The attack was now pressed with fresh vigor. In truth, with so
much that the bravest of the Indians at last yielded to panic.
Thayendanegea and Timmendiquas were carried away in the rush, and
the white leaders of their allies were already out of sight. On
all sides the allied red and white force was dissolving.
Precipitate flight was saving the fugitives from a greater loss
in killed and wounded-it was usually Indian tactics to flee with
great speed when the battle began to go against them-but the
people of the Long House had suffered the greatest overthrow in
their history, and bitterness and despair were in the hearts of
the Iroquois chiefs as they fled.
The American army not only carried the center of the Indian camp,
but the heavy flanking parties closed in also, and the whole
Indian army was driven in at every point. The retreat was
becoming a rout. A great, confused conflict was going on. The
rapid crackle of rifles mingled with the shouts and war whoops of
the combatants. Smoke floated everywhere. The victorious army,
animated by the memory of the countless cruelties that had been
practiced on the border, pushed harder and harder. The Iroquois
were driven back along the Chemung. It seemed that they might be
hemmed in against the river, but in their flight they came to a
ford. Uttering their cry of despair, "Oonali! Oonali!" a wail
for a battle lost, they sprang into the stream, many of them
throwing away their rifles, tomahawks, and blankets, and rushed
for the other shore. But the Scouts and a body of riflemen were
Braxton Wyatt and his band appeared in the woods on the far
shore, and opened fire on the pursuers now in the stream. He
alone among the white men had the courage, or the desperation, to
throw himself and his men in the path of the pursuit. The
riflemen in the water felt the bullets pattering around them, and
some were struck, but they did not stop. They kept on for the
bank, and their own men behind them opened a covering fire over
Henry felt a great pulse leap in his throat at the sight of
Braxton Wyatt again. Nothing could have turned him back now.
Shouting to the riflemen, he led the charge through the water,
and the bank's defenders were driven back. Yet Wyatt, with his
usual dexterity and prudence, escaped among the thickets.
The battle now became only a series of detached combats. Little
groups seeking to make a stand here and there were soon swept
away. Thayendanegea and Timmendiquas raged and sought to gather
together enough men for an ambush, for anything that would sting
the victors, but they were pushed too hard and fast. A rally was
always destroyed in the beginning, and the chiefs themselves at
last ran for their lives. The pursuit was continued for a long
time, not only by the vanguard, but the army itself moved forward
over the battlefield and deep into the forest on the trail of the
The scouts continued the pursuit the longest, keeping a close
watch, nevertheless, against an ambush. Now and then they
exchanged shots with a band, but the Indians always fled quickly,
and at last they stopped because they could no longer find any
resistance. They had been in action or pursuit for many hours,
and they were black with smoke, dust, and sweat, but they were
not yet conscious of any weariness. Heemskerk drew a great red
silk handkerchief from his pocket, and wiped his glowing face,
which was as red as the handkerchief.
"It's the best job that's been done in these parts for many a
year," he said. "The Iroquois have always thought they were
invincible, and now the spell's been broke. If we only follow it
"That's sure to be done," said Henry. "I heard General Sullivan
himself say that his orders were to root up the whole Iroquois
They returned slowly toward the main force, retracing their steps
over the path of battle. It was easy enough to follow it. They
beheld a dead warrior at every step, and at intervals were
rifles, tomahawks, scalping knives, blankets, and an occasional
shot pouch or powder horn. Presently they reached the main army,
which was going into camp for the night. Many camp fires were
built, and the soldiers, happy in their victory, were getting
ready for supper. But there was no disorder. They had been told
already that they were to march again in the morning.
Henry, Paul, Tom, Jim, and Shif'less Sol went back over the field
of battle, where many of the dead still lay. Twilight was now
coming, and it was a somber sight. The earthwork, the thickets,
and the trees were torn by cannon balls. Some tents raised by
the Tories lay in ruins, and the earth was stained with many dark
splotches. But the army had passed on, and it was silent and
desolate where so many men had fought. The twilight drew swiftly
on to night, and out of the forest came grewsome sounds. The
wolves, thick now in a region which the Iroquois had done so much
to turn into a wilderness, were learning welcome news, and they
were telling it to one another. By and by, as the night
deepened, the five saw fiery eyes in the thickets, and the long
howls came again.
"It sounds like the dirge of the people of the Long House," said
Paul, upon whose sensitive mind the scene made a deep impression.
The others nodded. At that moment they did not feel the flush of
victory in its full force. It was not in their nature to rejoice
over a fallen foe. Yet they knew the full value of the victory,
and none of them could wish any part of it undone. They returned
slowly to the camp, and once more they heard behind them the howl
of the wolves as they invaded the battlefield.
They were glad when they saw the cheerful lights of the camp
fires twinkling through the forest, and heard the voices of many
men talking. Heemskerk welcomed them there.
"Come, lads," he said. "You must eat-you won't find out until
you begin, how hungry you are-and then you must sleep, because we
march early to-morrow, and we march fast."
The Dutchman's words were true. They had not tasted food since
morning; they had never thought of it, but now, with the
relaxation from battle, they found themselves voraciously hungry.
"It's mighty good," said Shif'less Sol, as they sat by a fire and
ate bread and meat and drank coffee, "but I'll say this for you,
you old ornery, long-legged Jim Hart, it ain't any better than
the venison an' bulffaler steaks that you've cooked fur us many a
"An' that I'm likely to cook fur you many a time more," said Long
"But it will be months before you have any chance at buffalo
again, Jim," said Henry. "We are going on a long campaign
through the Iroquois country."
"An' it's shore to be a dangerous one," said Shif'less Sol. "Men
like warriors o' the Iroquois ain't goin' to give up with one
fight. They'll be hangin' on our flanks like wasps."
"That's true," said Henry, "but in my opinion the Iroquois are
overthrown forever. One defeat means more to them than a half
dozen to us."
They said little more, but by and by lay down to sleep before the
fires. They had toiled so long and so faithfully that the work
of watching and scouting that night could be intrusted to others.
Yet Henry could not sleep for a long time. The noises of the
night interested him. He watched the men going about, and the
sentinels pacing back and forth around the camp. The sounds died
gradually as the men lay down and sank to sleep. The fires which
had formed a great core of light also sank, and the shadows crept
toward the camp. The figures of the pacing sentinels, rifle on
shoulder, gradually grew dusky. Henry's nerves, attuned so long
to great effort, slowly relaxed. Deep peace came over him, and
his eyelids drooped, the sounds in the camp sank to the lowest
murmur, but just as he was falling asleep there came from the
battlefield behind then the far, faint howl of a wolf, the dirge
of the Iroquois.
LITTLE BEARD'S TOWN
The trumpets called early the next morning, and the five rose,
refreshed, ready for new labors. The fires were already lighted,
and breakfast was cooking. Savory odors permeated the forest.
But as soon as all had eaten, the army marched, going northward
and westward, intending to cut through the very center of the
Iroquois country. Orders had come from the great commander that
the power of the Six Nations, which had been so long such a
terrible scourge on the American frontier, must be annihilated.
They must be made strangers in their own country. Women and
children were not to be molested, but their towns must perish.
As Thayendanegea had said the night before the Battle of the
Chemung, the power beyond the seas that had urged the Iroquois to
war on the border did not save them. It could not. British and
Tories alike had promised them certain victory, and for a while
it had seemed that the promises would come true. But the tide
had turned, and the Iroquois were fugitives in their own country.
The army continued its march through the wilderness, the scouts
in front and heavy parties of riflemen on either flank. There
was no chance for a surprise. Henry and his comrades were aware
that Indian bands still lurked in the forest, and they had
several narrow escapes from the bullets of ambushed foes, but the
progress of the army was irresistible. Nothing could check it
for a moment, however much the Indian and Tory chiefs might plan.
They camped again that night in the forest, with a thorough ring
of sentinels posted against surprise, although there was little
danger of the latter, as the enemy could not, for the present at
least, bring a sufficient force into the field. But after the
moon had risen, the five, with Heemskerk, went ahead through the
forest. The Iroquois town of Kanawaholla lay just ahead, and the
army would reach it on the morrow. It was the intention of the
scouts to see if it was still occupied.
It was near midnight when the little party drew near to
Kanawaholla and watched it from the shelter of the forest. Like
most other Iroquois towns, it contained wooden houses, and
cultivated fields were about it. No smoke rose from any of the
chimneys, but the sharp eyes of the scouts saw loaded figures
departing through a great field of ripe and waving corn. It was
the last of the inhabitants, fleeing with what they could carry.
Two or three warriors might have been in that group of fugitives,
but the scouts made no attempt to pursue. They could not
restrain a little feeling of sympathy and pity, although a just
retribution was coming.
"If the Iroquois had only stood neutral at the beginning of the
war, as we asked them," said Heemskerk, "how much might have been
spared to both sides! Look! Those people are stopping for a
The burdened figures, perhaps a dozen, halted at the far edge of
the corn field. Henry and Paul readily imagined that they were
taking a last look at their town, and the feeling of pity and
sympathy deepened, despite Wyoming, Cherry Valley, and all the
rest. But that feeling never extended to the white allies of the
Iroquois, whom Thayendanegea characterized in word and in writing
as "more savage than the savages themselves."
The scouts waited an hour, and then entered the town. Not a soul
was in Kanawaholla. Some of the lighter things had been taken
away, but that was all. Most of the houses were in disorder,
showing the signs of hasty flight, but the town lay wholly at the
mercy of the advancing army. Henry and his comrades withdrew
with the news, and the next day, when the troops advanced,
Kanawaholla was put to the torch. In an hour it was smoking
ruins, and then the crops and fruit trees were destroyed.
Leaving ruin behind, the army continued its march, treading the
Iroquois power under foot and laying waste the country. One
after another the Indian towns were destroyed, Catherinetown,
Kendaia, Kanadesaga, Shenanwaga, Skoiyase, Kanandaigua, Honeyoye,
Kanaghsawa, Gathtsewarohare, and others, forming a long roll,
bearing the sounding Iroquois names. Villages around Cayuga and
other lakes were burned by detachments. The smoke of perishing
towns arose everywhere in the Iroquois country, while the
Iroquois themselves fled before the advancing army. They sent
appeal after appeal for help from those to whom they had given so
much help, but none came.
It was now deep autumn, and the nights grew cold. The forests
blazed with brilliant colors. The winds blew, leaves rustled and
fell. The winter would soon be at hand, and the Iroquois, so
proud of what they had achieved, would have to find what shelter
they could in the forests or at the British posts on the Canadian
frontier. Thayendanegea was destined to come again with bands of
red men and white and inflict great loss, but the power of the
Six Nations was overthrown forever, after four centuries of
victory and glory. Henry, Paul, and the rest were all the time
in the thick of it. The army, as the autumn advanced, marched
into the Genesee Valley, destroying everything. Henry and Paul,
as they lay on their blankets one night, counted fires in three
different directions, and every one of the three marked a
perishing Indian village. It was not a work in which they took
any delight; on the contrary, it often saddened them, but they
felt that it had to be done, and they could not shirk the task.
In October, Henry, despite his youth, took command of a body of
scouts and riflemen which beat up the ways, and skirmished in
advance of the army. It was a democratic little band, everyone
saying what he pleased, but yielding in the end to the authority
of the leader. They were now far up the Genesee toward the Great
Lakes, and Henry formed the plan of advancing ahead of the army
on the great Seneca village known variously as the Seneca Castle
and Little Beard's Town, after its chief, a full match in cruelty
for the older Seneca chief, Hiokatoo. Several causes led to this
decision. It was reported that Thayendanegea, Timmendiquas, all
the Butlers and Johnsons, and Braxton Wyatt were there. While
not likely to be true about all, it was probably true about some
of them, and a bold stroke might effect much.
It is probable that Henry had Braxton Wyatt most in mind. The
renegade was in his element among the Indians and Tories, and he
had developed great abilities as a partisan, being skillfully
seconded by the squat Tory, Coleman. His reputation now was
equal at least to that of Walter Butler, and he had skirmished
more than once with the vanguard of the army. Growing in Henry's
heart was a strong desire to match forces with him, and it was
quite probable that a swift advance might find him at the Seneca
The riflemen took up their march on a brisk morning in late
autumn. The night had been clear and cold, with a touch of
winter in it, and the brilliant colors of the foliage had now
turned to a solid brown. Whenever the wind blew, the leaves fell
in showers. The sky was a fleecy blue, but over hills, valley,
and forest hung a fine misty veil that is the mark of Indian
summer. The land was nowhere inhabited. They saw the cabin of
neither white man nor Indian. A desolation and a silence,
brought by the great struggle, hung over everything. Many
discerning eyes among the riflemen noted the beauty and fertility
of the country, with its noble forests and rich meadows. At
times they caught glimpses of the river, a clear stream sparkling
under the sun.
"Makes me think o' some o' the country 'way down thar in
Kentucky," said Shif'less Sol, "an' it seems to me I like one
about ez well ez t'other. Say, Henry, do you think we'll ever go
back home? 'Pears to me that we're always goin' farther an'
"It's because circumstances have taken us by the hand and led us
away, Sol," he replied.
"Then," said the shiftless one with a resigned air, "I hope them
same circumstances will take me by both hands, an' lead me
gently, but strongly, back to a place whar thar is peace an' rest
fur a lazy an' tired man like me."
"I think you'll have to endure a lot, until next spring at
least," said Henry.
The shiftless one heaved a deep sigh, but his next words were
"S'pose we'll light on that thar Seneca Castle by tomorrow
night?" he asked.
"It seems to me that for a lazy and tired man you're extremely
anxious for a fight," Henry replied.
"I try to be resigned," said Shif'less Sol. But his eyes were
sparkling with the light of battle.
They went into camp that night in a dense forest, with the Seneca
Castle about ten miles ahead. Henry was quite sure that the
Senecas to whom it belonged had not yet abandoned it, and with
the aid of the other tribes might make a stand there. It was
more than likely, too, that the Senecas had sharpshooters and
sentinels well to the south of their town, and it behooved the
riflemen to be extremely careful lest they run into a hornet's
nest. Hence they lighted no fires, despite a cold night wind
that searched them through until they wrapped themselves in their
The night settled down thick and dark, and the band lay close in
the thickets. Shif'less Sol was within a yard of Henry. He had
observed his young leader's face closely that day, and he had a
mind of uncommon penetration.
"Henry," he whispered, "you're hopin' that you'll find Braxton
Wyatt an' his band at Little Beard's town?"
"That among other things," replied Henry in a similar whisper.
"That first, and the others afterwards," persisted the shiftless
"It may be so," admitted Henry.
"I feel the same way you do," said Shif'less Sol. "You see,
we've knowed Braxton Wyatt a long time, an' it seems strange that
one who started out a boy with you an' Paul could turn so black.
An' think uv all the cruel things that he's done an' helped to
do. I ain't hidin' my feelin's. I'm jest itchin' to git at
"Yes," said Henry, "I'd like for our band to have it out with
Henry and Shif'less Sol, and in fact all of the five, slept that
night, because Henry wished to be strong and vigorous for the
following night, in view of an enterprise that he had in mind.
The rosy Dutchman, Heemskerk, was in command of the guard, and he
revolved continually about the camp with amazing ease, and with a
footstep so light that it made no sound whatever. Now and then
he came back in the thicket and looked down at the faces of the
sleeping five from Kentucky. "Goot boys," he murmured to
himself. "Brave boys, to stay here and help. May they go
through all our battles and take no harm. The goot and great God
often watches over the brave."
Mynheer Cornelius Heemskerk, native of Holland, but devoted to
the new nation of which he had made himself a part, was a devout
man, despite a life of danger and hardship. The people of the
woods do not lose faith, and he looked up at the dark skies as if
he found encouragement there. Then he resumed his circle about
the camp. He heard various noises-the hoot of an owl, the long
whine of a wolf, and twice the footsteps of deer going down to
the river to drink. But the sounds were all natural, made by the
animals to which they belonged, and Heemskerk knew it. Once or
twice he went farther into the forest, but he found nothing to
indicate the presence of a foe, and while he watched thus, and
beat up the woods, the night passed, eventless, away.
They went the next day much nearer to the Seneca Castle, and saw
sure indications that it was still inhabited, as the Iroquois
evidently were not aware of the swift advance of the riflemen.
Henry had learned that this was one of the largest and strongest
of all the Iroquois towns, containing between a hundred and two
hundred wooden houses, and with a population likely to be swollen
greatly by fugitives from the Iroquois towns already destroyed.
The need of caution-great caution-was borne in upon him, and he
paid good heed.
The riflemen sought another covert in the deep forest, now about
three miles from Little Beard's Town, and lay there, while Henry,
according to his plan, went forth at night with Shif'less Sol and
Tom Ross. He was resolved to find out more about this important
town, and his enterprise was in full accord with his duties,
chief among which was to save the vanguard of the army from
When the complete darkness of night had come, the three left the
covert, and, after traveling a short distance through the forest,
turned in toward the river. As the town lay on or near the
river, Henry thought they might see some signs of Indian life on
the stream, and from this they could proceed to discoveries.
But when they first saw the river it was desolate. Not a canoe
was moving on its surface, and the three, keeping well in the
undergrowth, followed the bank toward the town. But the forest
soon ceased, and they came upon a great field, where the Senecas
had raised corn, and where stalks, stripped of their ears and
browned by the autumn cold, were still standing. But all the
work of planting, tending, and reaping this great field, like all
the other work in all the Iroquois fields, had been done by the
Iroquois women, not by the warriors.
Beyond the field they saw fruit trees, and beyond these, faint
lines of smoke, indicating the position of the great Seneca
Castle. The dry cornstalks rustled mournfully as the wind blew
across the field.
"The stalks will make a little shelter," said Henry, "and we must
cross the field. We want to keep near the river."
"Lead on," said Shif'less Sol.
They took a diagonal course, walking swiftly among the stalks and
bearing back toward the river. They crossed the field without
being observed, and came into a thick fringe of trees and
undergrowth along the river. They moved cautiously in this
shelter for a rod or two, and then the three, without word from
any one of them, stopped simultaneously. They heard in the water
the unmistakable ripple made by a paddle, and then the sound of
several more. They crept to the edge of the bank and crouched
down among the bushes. Then they saw a singular procession.
A half-dozen Iroquois canoes were moving slowly up the stream.
They were in single file, and the first canoe was the largest.
But the aspect of the little fleet was wholly different from that
of an ordinary group of Iroquois war canoes. It was dark,
somber, and funereal, and in every canoe, between the feet of the
paddlers, lay a figure, stiff and impassive, the body of a chief
slain in battle. It had all the appearance of a funeral
procession, but the eyes of the three, as they roved over it,
fastened on a figure in the first canoe, and, used as they were
to the strange and curious, every one of them gave a start.
The figure was that of a woman, a wild and terrible creature, who
half sat, half crouched in the canoe, looking steadily downward.
Her long black hair fell in disordered masses from her uncovered
head. She wore a brilliant red dress with savage adornments, but
it was stained and torn. The woman's whole attitude expressed
grief, anger, and despair.
"Queen Esther!" whispered Henry. The other two nodded.
So horrifying had been the impression made upon him by this woman
at Wyoming that he could not feel any pity for her now. The
picture of the great war tomahawk cleaving the heads of bound
prisoners was still too vivid. She had several sons, one or two
of whom were slain in battle with the colonists, and the body
that lay in the boat may have been one of them. Henry always
believed that it was-but he still felt no pity.
As the file came nearer they heard her chanting a low song, and
now she raised her face and tore at her black hair.
"They're goin' to land," whispered Shif'less Sol.
The head of the file was turned toward the shore, and, as it
approached, a group of warriors, led by Little Beard, the Seneca
chief, appeared among the trees, coming forward to meet them.
The three in their covert crouched closer, interested so
intensely that they were prepared to brave the danger in order to
remain. But the absorption of the Iroquois in what they were
about to do favored the three scouts.
As the canoes touched the bank, Catharine Montour rose from her
crouching position and uttered a long, piercing wail, so full of
grief, rage, and despair that the three in the bushes shuddered.
It was fiercer than the cry of a wolf, and it came back from the
dark forest in terrifying echoes.
"It's not a woman, but a fiend," whispered Henry; and, as before,
his comrades nodded in assent.
The woman stood erect, a tall and stalwart figure, but the beauty
that had once caused her to be received in colonial capitals was
long since gone. Her white half of blood had been submerged
years ago in her Indian half, and there was nothing now about her
to remind one of civilization or of the French Governor General
of Canada who was said to have been her father.
The Iroquois stood respectfully before her. It was evident that
she had lost none of her power among the Six Nations, a power
proceeding partly from her force and partly from superstition.
As the bodies were brought ashore, one by one, and laid upon the
ground, she uttered the long wailing cry again and again, and the
others repeated it in a sort of chorus.
When the bodies-and Henry was sure that they must all be those of
chiefs-were laid out, she tore her hair, sank down upon the
ground, and began a chant, which Tom Ross was afterwards able to
interpret roughly to the others. She sang:
The white men have come with the cannon and bayonet,
Numerous as forest leaves the army has come.
Our warriors are driven like deer by the hunter,
Fallen is the League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee!
Our towns are burned and our fields uprooted,
Our people flee through the forest for their lives,
The king who promised to help us comes not.
Fallen is the League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee!
The great chiefs are slain and their bodies lie here.
No longer will they lead the warriors in battle;
No more will they drive the foe from the thicket.
Fallen is the League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee!
Scalps we have taken from all who hated us;
None, but feared us in the days of our glory.
But the cannon and bayonet have taken our country;
Fallen is the League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee!
She chanted many verses, but these were all that Tom Ross could
ever remember or translate. But every verse ended with the
melancholy refrain: "Fallen is the League of the
Ho-de-no-sau-nee!" which the others also repeated in chorus.
Then the warriors lifted up the bodies, and they moved in
procession toward the town. The three watched them, but they did
not rise until the funeral train had reached the fruit trees.
Then they stood up, looked at one another, and breathed sighs of
"I don't care ef I never see that woman ag'in," said Shif'less
Sol. "She gives me the creeps. She must be a witch huntin' for
blood. She is shore to stir up the Iroquois in this town."
"That's true," said Henry, "but I mean to go nearer."
"Wa'al," said Tom Ross, "I reckon that if you mean it we mean it,
"There are certainly Tories in the town," said Henry, and if we
are seen we can probably pass for them. I'm bound to find out
"Still huntin' fur Braxton Wyatt," said Shif'less Sol.
"I mean to know if he's here," said Henry.
"Lead on," said the shiftless one.
They followed in the path of the procession, which was now out of
sight, and entered the orchard. From that point they saw the
houses and great numbers of Indians, including squaws and
children, gathered in the open spaces, where the funeral train
was passing. Queen Esther still stalked at its head, but her
chant was now taken up by many scores of voices, and the volume
of sound penetrated far in the night. Henry yet relied upon the
absorption of the Iroquois in this ceremonial to give him a
chance for a good look through the town, and he and his comrades
advanced with boldness.
They passed by many of the houses, all empty, as their occupants
had gone to join in the funeral lament, but they soon saw white
men-a few of the Royal Greens, and some of the Rangers, and other
Tories, who were dressed much like Henry and his comrades. One
of them spoke to Shif'less Sol, who nodded carelessly and passed
by. The Tory seemed satisfied and went his way.
"Takes us fur some o' the crowd that's come runnin' in here ahead
o' the army," said the shiftless one.
Henry was noting with a careful eye the condition of the town.
He saw that no preparations for defense had been made, and there
was no evidence that any would be made. All was confusion and
despair. Already some of the squaws were fleeing, carrying heavy
burdens. The three coupled caution with boldness. If they met a
Tory they merely exchanged a word or two, and passed swiftly on.
Henry, although he had seen enough to know that the army could
advance without hesitation, still pursued the quest. Shif'less
Sol was right. At the bottom of Henry's heart was a desire to
know whether Braxton Wyatt was in Little Beard's Town, a desire
soon satisfied, as they reached the great Council House, turned a
corner of it, and met the renegade face to face.
Wyatt was with his lieutenant, the squat Tory, Coleman, and he
uttered a cry when he saw the tall figure of the great youth.
There was no light but that of the moon, but he knew his foe in
"Henry Ware!" he cried, and snatched his pistol from his belt.
They were so close together that Henry did not have time to use a
weapon. Instinctively he struck out with his fist, catching
Wyatt on the jaw, and sending him down as if he had been shot.
Shif'less Sol and Tom Ross ran bodily over Coleman, hurling him
down, and leaping across his prostrate figure. Then they ran
their utmost, knowing that their lives depended on speed and
They quickly put the Council House between them and their
pursuers, and darted away among the houses. Braxton Wyatt was
stunned, but he speedily regained his wits and his feet.
"It was the fellow Ware, spying among us again! be cried to his
lieutenant, who, half dazed, was also struggling up. "Come, men!
After them! After them!"
A dozen men came at his call, and, led by the renegade, they
began a search among the houses. But it was hard to find the
fugitives. The light was not good, many flitting figures were
about, and the frantic search developed confusion. Other Tories
were often mistaken for the three scouts, and were overhauled,
much to their disgust and that of the overhaulers. Iroquois,
drawn from the funeral ceremony, began to join in the hunt, but
Wyatt could give them little information. He had merely seen an
enemy, and then the enemy had gone. It was quite certain that
this enemy, or, rather, three of them, was still in the town.
Henry and his comrades were crafty. Trained by ambush and
escape, flight and pursuit, they practiced many wiles to deceive
their pursuers. When Wyatt and Coleman were hurled down they ran
around the Council House, a large and solid structure, and,
finding a door on the opposite side and no one there or in sight
from that point, they entered it, closing the door behind them.
They stood in almost complete darkness, although at length they
made out the log wall of the great, single room which constituted
the Council House. After that, with more accustomed eyes, they
saw on the wall arms, pipes, wampum, and hideous trophies, some
with long hair and some with short. The hair was usually blonde,
and most of the scalps had been stretched tight over little
hoops. Henry clenched his fist in the darkness.
"Mebbe we're walkin' into a trap here," said Shif'less Sol.
"I don't think so," said Henry. "At any rate they'd find us if
we were rushing about the village. Here we at least have a
At the far end of the Council House hung mats, woven of rushes,
and the three sat down behind them in the very heart of the
Iroquois sanctuary. Should anyone casually enter the Council
House they would still be hidden. They sat in Turkish fashion on
the floor, close together and with their rifles lying across
their knees. A thin light filtered through a window and threw
pallid streaks on the floor, which they could see when they
peeped around the edge of the mats. But outside they heard very
clearly the clamor of the hunt as it swung to and fro in the
village. Shif'less Sol chuckled. It was very low, but it was a
chuckle, nevertheless, and the others heard.
"It's sorter takin' an advantage uv 'em," said the shiftless one,
"layin' here in thar own church, so to speak, while they're
ragin' an' tearin' up the earth everywhar else lookin' fur us.
Gives me a mighty snug feelin', though, like the one you have
when you're safe in a big log house, an' the wind an' the hail
an' the snow are beatin' outside."
"You're shorely right, Sol," said Tom Ross.
"Seems to me," continued the irrepressible Sol, "that you did git
in a good lick at Braxton Wyatt, after all. Ain't he unhappy
now, bitin' his fingers an' pawin' the earth an' findin' nothin'?
I feel real sorry, I do, fur Braxton. It's hard fur a nice young
feller to have to suffer sech disappointments."
Shif'less Sol chuckled again, and Henry was forced to smile in
the darkness. Shif'less Sol was not wholly wrong. It would be a
bitter blow to Braxton Wyatt. Moreover, it was pleasant where
they sat. A hard floor was soft to them, and as they leaned
against the wall they could relax and rest.
"What will our fellows out thar in the woods think?" asked Tom
"They won't have to think," replied Henry. "They'll sit quiet as
we're doing and wait."
The noise of the hunt went on for a long time outside. War whoops
came from different points of the village. There were shrill
cries of women and children, and the sound of many running feet.
After a while it began to sink, and soon after that they heard no
more noises than those of people preparing for flight. Henry
felt sure that the town would be abandoned on the morrow, but his
desire to come to close quarters with Braxton Wyatt was as strong
as ever. It was certain that the army could not overtake Wyatt's
band, but he might match his own against it. He was thinking of
making the attempt to steal from the place when, to their great
amazement, they heard the door of the Council House open and
shut, and then footsteps inside.
Henry looked under the edge of the hanging mat and saw two dusky
figures near the window.
THE FINAL FIGHT
Shif'less Sol and Tom Ross were also looking under the mats, and
the three would have recognized those figures anywhere. The
taller was Timmendiquas, the other Thayendanegea. The thin light
from the window fell upon their faces, and Henry saw that both
were sad. Haughty and proud they were still, but each bore the
look that comes only from continued defeat and great
disappointment. It is truth to say that the concealed three
watched them with a curiosity so intense that all thought of
their own risk was forgotten. To Henry, as well as his comrades,
these two were the greatest of all Indian chiefs.
The White Lightning of the Wyandots and the Joseph Brant of the
Mohawks stood for a space side by side, gazing out of the window,
taking a last look at the great Seneca Castle. It was
Thayendanegea who spoke first, using Wyandot, which Henry
"Farewell, my brother, great chief of the Wyandots," he said.
"You have come far with your warriors, and you have been by our
side in battle. The Six Nations owe you much. You have helped
us in victory, and you have not deserted us in defeat. You are
the greatest of warriors, the boldest in battle, and the most
Timmendiquas made a deprecatory gesture, but Thayendanegea went
"I speak but the truth, great chief of the Wyandots. We owe you
much, and some day we may repay. Here the Bostonians crowd us
hard, and the Mohawks may yet fight by your side to save your own
"It is true," said Timmendiquas. "There, too, we' must fight the
"Victory was long with us here," said Thayendanegea, "but the
rebels have at last brought an army against us, and the king who
persuaded us to make war upon the Americans adds nothing to the
help that he has given us already. Our white allies were the
first to run at the Chemung, and now the Iroquois country, so
large and so beautiful, is at the mercy of the invader. We
perish. In all the valleys our towns lie in ashes. The American
army will come to-morrow, and this, the great Seneca Castle, the
last of our strongholds, will also sink under the flames. I know
not how our people will live through the Winter that is yet to
come. Aieroski has turned his face from us."
But Timmendiquas spoke words of courage and hope.
"The Six Nations will regain their country," he said. "The great
League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee, which has been victorious for so
many generations, cannot be destroyed. All the tribes from here
to the Mississippi will help, and will press down upon the
settlements. I will return to stir them anew, and the British
posts will give us arms and ammunition."
The light of defiance shone once more in the eyes of
"You raise my spirits again," he said. "We flee now, but we
shall come back again. The Ho-de-no-saunee can never submit. We
will ravage all their settlements, and burn and destroy. We will
make a wilderness where they have been. The king and his men
will yet give us more help."
Part of his words came true, and the name of the raiding
Thayendanegea was long a terror, but the Iroquois, who had
refused the requested neutrality, had lost their Country forever,
save such portions as the victor in the end chose to offer to
"And now, as you and your Wyandots depart within the half hour, I
give you a last farewell," said Thayendanegea.
The hands of the two great chiefs met in a clasp like that of the
white man, and then Timmendiquas abruptly left the Council House,
shutting the door behind him. Thayendanegea lingered a while at
the window, and the look of sadness returned to his face. Henry
could read many of the thoughts that were passing through the
Mohawk's proud mind.
Thayendanegea was thinking of his great journey to London, of the
power and magnificence that he had seen, of the pride and glory
of the Iroquois, of the strong and numerous Tory faction led by
Sir John Johnson, the half brother of the children of Molly
Brant, Thayendanegea's own sister, of the Butlers and all the
others who had said that the rebels would be easy to conquer. He
knew better now, he had long known better, ever since that
dreadful battle in the dark defile of the Oriskany, when the
Palatine Germans, with old Herkimer at their head, beat the
Tories, the English, and the Iroquois, and made the taking of
Burgoyne possible. The Indian chieftain was a statesman, and it
may be that from this moment he saw that the cause of both the
Iroquois and their white allies was doomed. Presently
Thayendanegea left the window, walking slowly toward the door.
He paused there a moment or two, and then went out, closing it
behind him, as Timmendiquas had done. The three did not speak
until several minutes after he had gone.
"I don't believe," said Henry, "that either of them thinks,
despite their brave words, that the Iroquois can ever win back
"Serves 'em right," said Tom Ross. "I remember what I saw at
"Whether they kin do it or not," said the practical Sol, "it's
time for us to git out o' here, an' go back to our men."
"True words, Sol," said Henry, "and we'll go."
Examining first at the window and then through the door, opened
slightly, they saw that the Iroquois village bad become quiet.
The preparations for departure had probably ceased until morning.
Forth stole the three, passing swiftly among the houses, going,
with silent foot toward the orchard. An old squaw, carrying a
bundle from a house, saw them, looked sharply into their faces,
and knew them to be white. She threw down her bundle with a
fierce, shrill scream, and ran, repeating the scream as she ran.
Indians rushed out, and with them Braxton Wyatt and his band.
Wyatt caught a glimpse of a tall figure, with two others, one on
each side, running toward the orchard, and he knew it. Hate and
the hope to capture or kill swelled afresh. He put a whistle to
his lip and blew shrilly. It was a signal to his band, and they
came from every point, leading the pursuit.
Henry heard the whistle, and he was quite sure that it was Wyatt
who had made the sound. A single glance backward confirmed him.
He knew Wyatt's figure as well as Wyatt knew his, and the dark
mass with him was certainly composed of his own men. The other
Indians and Tories, in all likelihood, would turn back soon, and
that fact would give him the chance he wished.
They were clear of the town now, running lightly through the
orchard, and Shif'less Sol suggested that they enter the woods at
"We can soon dodge 'em thar in the dark," he said.
"We don't want to dodge 'em," said Henry.
The shiftless one was surprised, but when he glanced at Henry's
face he understood.
"You want to lead 'em on an' to a fight?" he said.
"Glad you thought uv it," said Shif'less Sol.
They crossed the very corn field through which they had come,
Braxton Wyatt and his band in full cry after them. Several shots
were fired, but the three kept too far ahead for any sort of
marksmanship, and they were not touched. When they finally
entered the woods they curved a little, and then, keeping just
far enough ahead to be within sight, but not close enough for the
bullets, Henry led them straight toward the camp of the riflemen.
As he approached, he fired his own rifle, and uttered the long
shout of the forest runner. He shouted a second time, and now
Shif'less Sol and Tom Ross joined in the chorus, their great cry
penetrating far through the woods.
Whether Braxton Wyatt or any of his mixed band of Indians and
Tories suspected the meaning of those great shouts Henry never
knew, but the pursuit came on with undiminished speed. There was
a good silver moon now, shedding much light, and he saw Wyatt
still in the van, with his Tory lieutenant close behind, and
after them red men and white, spreading out like a fan to inclose
the fugitives in a trap. The blood leaped in his veins. It was
a tide of fierce joy. He had achieved both of the purposes for
which he had come. He had thoroughly scouted the Seneca Castle,
and he was about to come to close quarters with Braxton Wyatt and
the band which he had made such a terror through the valleys.
Shif'less Sol saw the face of his young comrade, and he was
startled. He had never before beheld it so stern, so resolute,
and so pitiless. He seemed to remember as one single, fearful
picture all the ruthless and terrible scenes of the last year.
Henry uttered again that cry which was at once a defiance and a
signal, and from the forest ahead of him it was answered, signal
for signal. The riflemen were coming, Paul, Long Jim, and
Heemskerk at their head. They uttered a mighty cheer as they saw
the flying three, and their ranks opened to receive them. From
the Indians and Tories came the long whoop of challenge, and
every one in either band knew that the issue was now about to be
settled by battle, and by battle alone. They used all the
tactics of the forest. Both sides instantly dropped down among
the trees and undergrowth, three or four hundred yards apart, and
for a few moments there was no sound save heavy breathing, heard
only by those who lay close by. Not a single human being would
have been visible to an ordinary eye there in the moonlight,
which tipped boughs and bushes with ghostly silver. Yet no area
so small ever held a greater store of resolution and deadly
animosity. On one side were the riflemen, nearly every one of
whom had slaughtered kin to mourn, often wives and little
children, and on the other the Tories and Iroquois, about to lose
their country, and swayed by the utmost passions of hate and
"Spread out," whispered Henry. "Don't give them a chance to
flank us. You, Sol, take ten men and go to the right, and you,
Heemskerk, take ten and go to the left."
"It is well," whispered Heemskerk. "You have a great head,
Each promptly obeyed, but the larger number of the riflemen
remained in the center, where Henry knelt, with Paul and Long Jim
on one side of him, and Silent Tom on the other. When he thought
that the two flanking parties had reached the right position, he
uttered a low whistle, and back came two low whistles, signals
that all was ready. Then the line began its slow advance,
creeping forward from tree to tree and from bush to bush. Henry
raised himself up a little, but he could not yet see anything
where the hostile force lay hidden. They went a little farther,
and then all lay down again to look.
Tom Ross had not spoken a word, but none was more eager than he.
He was almost flat upon the ground, and he had been pulling
himself along by a sort of muscular action of his whole body.
Now he was so still that he did not seem to breathe. Yet his
eyes, uncommonly eager now, were searching the thickets ahead.
They rested at last on a spot of brown showing through some
bushes, and, raising his rifle, he fired with sure aim. The
Iroquois uttered his death cry, sprang up convulsively, and then
fell back prone. Shots were fired in return, and a dozen
riflemen replied to them. The battle was joined.
They heard Braxton Wyatt's whistle, the challenging war cry of
the Iroquois, and then they fought in silence, save for the crack
of the rifles. The riflemen continued to advance in slow,
creeping fashion, always pressing the enemy. Every time they
caught sight of a hostile face or body they sent a bullet at it,
and Wyatt's men did the same. The two lines came closer, and all
along each there were many sharp little jets of fire and smoke.
Some of the riflemen were wounded, and two were slain, dying
quietly and without interrupting their comrades, who continued to
press the combat, Henry always leading in the center, and
Shif'less Sol and Heemskerk on the flanks.
This battle so strange, in which faces were seen only for a
moment, and which was now without the sound of voices, continued
without a moment's cessation in the dark forest. The fury of the
combatants increased as the time went on, and neither side was
yet victorious. Closer and closer came the lines. Meanwhile
dark clouds were piling in a bank in the southwest. Slow thunder
rumbled far away, and the sky was cut at intervals by lightning.
But the combatants did not notice the heralds of storm. Their
attention was only for each other.
It seemed to Henry that emotions and impulses in him had
culminated. Before him were the worst of all their foes, and his
pitiless resolve was not relaxed a particle. The thunder and the
lightning, although he did not notice them, seemed to act upon
him as an incitement, and with low words he continually urged
those about him to push the battle.
Drops of rain fell, showing in the moonshine like beads of silver
on boughs and twigs, but by and by the smoke from the rifle fire,
pressed down by the heavy atmosphere, gathered among the trees,
and the moon was partly hidden. But file combat did not relax
because of the obscurity. Wandering Indians, hearing the firing,
came to Wyatt's relief, but, despite their aid, he was compelled
to give ground. His were the most desperate and hardened men,
red and white, in all the allied forces, but they were faced by
sharpshooters better than themselves. Many of them were already
killed, others were wounded, and, although Wyatt and Coleman
raged and strove to hold them, they began to give back, and so
hard pressed were they that the Iroquois could not perform the
sacred duty of carrying off their dead. No one sought to carry
away the Tories, who lay with the rain, that had now begun to
fall, beating upon them.
So much had the riflemen advanced that they came to the point
where bodies of their enemies lay. Again that fierce joy surged
up in Henry's heart. His friends and he were winning. But he
wished to do more than win. This band, if left alone, would
merely flee from the Seneca Castle before the advance of the
army, and would still exist to ravage and slay elsewhere.
"Keep on, Tom! Keep on!" he cried to Ross and the others.
"Never let them rest!"
"We won't! We ain't dreamin' o' doin' sech a thing," replied the
redoubtable one as he loaded and fired. "Thar, I got another!"
The Iroquois, yielding slowly at first, began now to give way
faster. Some sought to dart away to right or left, and bury
themselves in the forest, but they were caught by the flanking
parties of Shif'less Sol and Heemskerk, and driven back on the
center. They could not retreat except straight on the town, and
the riflemen followed them step for step. The moan of the
distant thunder went on, and the soft rain fell, but the deadly
crackle of the rifles formed a sharper, insistent note that
claimed the whole attention of both combatants.
It was now the turn of the riflemen to receive help. Twenty or
more scouts and others abroad in the forest were called by the
rifle fire, and went at once into the battle. Then Wyatt was
helped a second time by a band of Senecas and Mohawks, but,
despite all the aid, they could not withstand the riflemen.
Wyatt, black with fury and despair, shouted to them and sometimes
cursed or even struck at them, but the retreat could not be
stopped. Men fell fast. Every one of the riflemen was a
sharpshooter, and few bullets missed.
Wyatt was driven out of the forest and into the very corn field
through which Henry had passed. Here the retreat became faster,
and, with shouts of triumph, the riflemen followed after. Wyatt
lost some men in the flight through the field, but when he came
to the orchard, having the advantage of cover, he made another
But Shif'less Sol and Heemskerk took the band on the flanks,
pouring in a destructive fire, and Wyatt, Coleman, and a fourth
of his band, all that survived, broke into a run for the town.
The riflemen uttered shout after shout of triumph, and it was
impossible to restrain their pursuit. Henry would have stopped
here, knowing the danger of following into the town, especially
when the army was near at band with an irresistible force, but he
could not stay them. He decided then that if they would charge
it must be done with the utmost fire and spirit.
"On, men! On!" he cried. "Give them no chance to take cover."
Shif'less Sol and Heemskerk wheeled in with the flanking parties,
and the riflemen, a solid mass now, increased the speed of
pursuit. Wyatt and his men had no chance to turn and fire, or
even to reload. Bullets beat upon them as they fled, and here
perished nearly all of that savage band. Wyatt, Coleman, and
only a half dozen made good the town, where a portion of the
Iroquois who had not yet fled received them. But the exultant
riflemen did not stop even there. They were hot on the heels of
Wyatt and the fugitives, and attacked at once the Iroquois who
came to their relief. So fierce was their rush that these new
forces were driven back at once. Braxton Wyatt, Coleman, and a
dozen more, seeing no other escape, fled to a large log house
used as a granary, threw themselves into it, barred the doors
heavily, and began to fire from the upper windows, small openings
usually closed with boards. Other Indians from the covert of
house, tepee, or tree, fired upon the assailants, and a fresh
battle began in the town.
The riflemen, directed by their leaders, met the new situation
promptly. Fired upon from all sides, at least twenty rushed into
a house some forty yards from that of Braxton Wyatt. Others
seized another house, while the rest remained outside, sheltered
by little outhouses, trees, or inequalities of the earth, and
maintained rapid sharpshooting in reply to the Iroquois in the
town or to Braxton Wyatt's men in the house. Now the combat
became fiercer than ever. The warriors uttered yells, and
Wyatt's men in the house sent forth defiant shouts. From another
part of the town came shrill cries of old squaws, urging on their
It was now about four o'clock in the morning. The thunder and
lightning had ceased, but the soft rain was still falling. The
Indians had lighted fires some distance away. Several carried
torches. Helped by these, and, used so long to the night, the
combatants saw distinctly. The five lay behind a low embankment,
and they paid their whole attention to the big house that
sheltered Wyatt and his men. On the sides and behind they were
protected by Heemskerk and others, who faced a coming swarm.
"Keep low, Paul," said Henry, restraining his eager comrade.
"Those fellows in the house can shoot, and we don't want to lose