Imágenes de páginas

village settled by the Moravians, and massacred the inhabi. tants; but the place was thought a good situation for one of the forts. In order to march thither, I assembled the companies at Bethlehem, the chief establishment of those people; I was surprised to find it in so good a posture of defence: the destruction of Gnadenhutten bad made them apprehend danger. The principal buildings were defended by a stockade; they had purchased a quantity of arms and ammunition from New York, and bad even placed quantities of small paving stones between the windows of their high stone houses, for their women to throw them down upon the heads of any Indians that should attempt to force into them. The armed brethren too kept watch, and relieved each other on guard as methodically as in any garrison town. In conversation with the bishop, Spangenberg, I mentioned my surprise; for knowing they had obtained an act of parliament exempting them from military duties in the colonies, I had supposed they were conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms. He answered me,

That it was not one of their established principles; but that at the time of their obtaining that act it was thought to be a principle with many of their people. On this occasion, however, they to their surprise, found it adopted by but a few.” It seems they were either deceived in themselves, or deceived the parliament: but common sense aided by present danger will sometimes be too strong for whimsical opinions.

It was the beginning of January when we set out upon this business of building forts; I sent one detachment towards the Minisink, with instructions to erect one for the security of that upper part of the country; and another to the lower part with similar instructions: and I concluded to go myself with the rest of my force to Gnadenhutten, where a fort was thought more immediately necessary. The Moravians procured me five wagons for our tools, stores, baggage, &c. Just before we left Bethlehem, eleven farmers, who had been driven from their plantations by the Indians, came to me requesting a supply of fire-arms, that they might go back and bring off their cattle. I gave them each a gun with suitable ammu

nition. We had not marched many miles before it began to rain, and it continued raining all day; there were no habitations on the road to shelter us, till we arrived near night at the house of a German, where, and in his barn, we were all huddled together as wet as water could make us. It was well we were not attacked in our march, for our arms were of the most ordinary sort, and our men could not keep the locks of their guns dry. The Indians are dextrous in contrivances for that purpose, which we had not. They met that day the eleven poor farmers abovementioned, and killed ten of them; the one that escaped informed us, that his, and his companions' guns would not go off, the priming being wet with the rain. The next day being fair we continued our march, and arrived at the desolate Gnadenhutten; there was a mill near, round which were left several pine boards, with which we soon hutted ourselves; an operation the more necessary at that inclement season, as we had no tents. Our first work was to bury more effectually the dead we found there, who had been half interred by the country people; the next morning our fort was planned and marked out, the circumference measuring four hundred and fifty-five feet, which would require as many palisades to be made, one with another of a foot diameter each. Our axes, of which we had seventy, were immediately set to work, to cut down trees; and our men being dextrous in the use of them, great dispatch was made. Seeing the trees fall so fast, I had the curiosity to look at my watch when two men began to cut at a pine: in six minutes they had it upon the ground, and I found it of fourteen inches diameter: each pine made three palisades of eighteen feet long, pointed at one end. While these were preparing, our other men dug a trench all round of three feet deer, in which the palisades were to be planted; and the bo. dies being taken off our wagons, and the fore and hind wheels separated by taking out the pin which united the two parts of the perch, we had ten carriages with two horses each, to bring the palisades from the woods to the spot. When they were set up, our carpenters built a platform of boards all round within, about six feet high, for the men to stand on when to fire through the loop-boles. We had one swivel gun, which we mounted on one of the angles, and fired it as soon as fixed, to let the Indians know if any were within hearing, that we had such pieces; and thus our fort (if that name may be given to so miserable a stockade) was finished in a week, though it rained so hard every other day that the men could not well work.

This gave me occasion to observe, that when men are employed they are best contented; for on the days they worked they were good-natured and cheerful: and with the consciousness of having done a good day's work, they spent the evening jollily; but on our idle days, they were mutinous and quarrelsome, finding fault with the pork, the bread, &c., and were continually in bad humor; which put me in mind of a sea captain, whose rule it was to keep his men constantly at work; and when his mate once told him that they had done every thing, and there was nothing farther to employ them about; " 0," said he, “ make them scour the anchor."

This kind of fort, however contemptible, is a sufficient defence against Indians who had no cannon. Finding ourselves now posted securely, and having a place to retreat to on occasion, we ventured out in parties to scour the adjacent country. We met with no Indians, but we found the places on the neighboring hills where they had lain to watch our proceedings. There was an art in their contrivance of those places, that seems worth mentioning. It being winter, a fire was necessary for them: but a common fire on the surface of the ground would by its light bave discovered their position at a distance: they had therefore dug holes in the ground about three feet diameter, and somewhat deeper; we found where they had with their batchets cut off the charcoal from the sides of burnt logs lying in the woods. With these coals they had made small fires in the bottom of the holes, and we observed among the weeds and grass the prints of their bodies, made by their lying all round with their legs hanging down in the holes to keep their feet warm; which with them

[ocr errors]

is an essential point. This kind of fire so managed could not discover them either by its light, flame, sparks, or even smoke: it appeared that the number was not great, and it seems they saw we were too many to be attacked by them with prospect of advantage.

We had for our chaplain a zealous Presbyterian minister, Mr. Beatty, who complained to me that the men did not generally attend his prayers and exhortations. When they enlisted they were promised, besides pay and provisions, a gill of rum a day, which was punctually served out to them, half in the morning, and the other half in the evening; and I observed they were punctual in attending to receive it: upon which I said to Mr. Beatty, it is perhaps below the dignity of your profession to act as steward of the rum; but if you were to distribute it out only just after prayers, you would have them all about you." He liked the thought, undertook the task, and with the help of a few hands to measure out the liquor, executed it to satisfaction; and never were prayers more generally and more punctually attended. So that I think this method preferable to the punishment inflicted by some military laws for non-attendance on divine service.

I had hardly finished this business, and got my fort well stored with provisions, when I received a letter from the governor, acquainting me that he had called the assembly, and wished my attendance there, if the posture of affairs on the frontiers was such that my remaining there was no longer necessary. My friends too of the assembly pressing me by their letters to be, if possible, at the meeting; and my three intended forts being now completed, and the inhabitants contented to remain on their farms under that protection, I resolved to return; the more willingly, as a New England officer, colonel Clapham, experienced in Indian war, being on a visit to our establishment, consented to accept the command. I gave him a commission, and parading the garrison, bad it read before them; and introduced him to them as an officer, who from his skill in military affairs, was much more fit to command them than myself; and giving them a little exhortation, took my leave. I was escorted as far as Bethlehem, where I rested a few days to recover from the fatigue I had undergone. The first night lying in a good bed, I could hardly sleep, it was so different from my hard lodging on the floor of a hut at Gnadenbutten, with only a blanket or two. While at Bethlehem, I inquired a little into the practices of the Moravians; some of them had accompanied me, and all were very kind to me. I found they worked for a common stock, eat at common tables, and slept in common dormitories, great numbers together. In the dormitories I observed loop-holes at certain distances all along just under the ceiling, which I thought judiciously placed for change of air. I went to their church, where I was entertained with good music, the organ being accompanied with violins, hautboys, flutes, clarinets, &c. I understood their sermons were not usually preached to mixed congregations of men, women, and children, as is our common practice; but that they assembled sometimes the married men, at other times their wives, then the young men, the young women, and the little children; each division by itself. The sermon I heard was to the latter, who came in and were placed in rows on benches, the boys under the conduct of a young man their tutor; and the girls conducted by a young woman. The discourse seemed well adapted to their capacities, and was delivered in a pleasing, familiar inanner, coaxing them as it were to be good. They behaved very orderly, but looked pale and unhealthy, which made me suspect they were kept too much within doors, or not allowed sufficient exercise. I inquired concerning the Moravian marriages, whether the report was true that they were by lot; I was told that lots were used only in particular cases: that generally when a young man found himself disposed to marry he informed the elders of his class, who consulted the elder ladies that governed the young women. As these elders of the different sexes were well acquainted with the tempers and dispositions of their respective pupils, they could best judge what matches were suitable, and their judgments were generally acquiesced in. But if, for example, it should liap

« AnteriorContinuar »