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billows, there it shot down inclined reaches, now it seemed plunging into a boiling eddy, now it whirled round a threatening obstacle; like a leaf in the tempest it was borne onward, and at length, to the amazement of its inmates themselves, and the astoundment of the Indians, it floated safely on the smooth waters below, after a passage of perils such as have rarely been dared. The savages gave up the chase. A man who could safely run those rapids seemed to them to bear a charmed life.
The other story mentioned is one indicative of Putnam's wit and readiness. The army was now encamped in the forest, in a locality to the eastward of Lake George. While here, the Indians prowled through the woods around it, committing depredations here and there, picking off sentinels, and doing other mischief. They seemed to have impunity in this work, and defied the utmost efforts at discovery. One outpost in particular was the seat of a dread mystery. Night after night the sentinel at this post disappeared, and was not heard of again. Some of the bravest men of the army were selected to occupy the post, with orders, if they should hear any noise, to call out“ Who goes there ?” three times, and if no answer came, to fire. Yet the mysterious disappearances continued, until the men refused to accept so dangerous a post. The commander was about to draw a sentinel by lot, when Major Putnam solved the difficulty by offering to stand guard for the coming night. The puzzled commander promptly accepted his offer, instructing him, as he had done the others,
"If you hear any sound from without the lines, you will call “Who goes there ?' three times, and then, if no answer be given, fire.”.
Putnam promised to obey, and marched to his post. Here he examined the surrounding locality with the utmost care, fixed in his mind the position of every point in the neighborhood, saw that his musket was in good order, and began his monotonous tramp, backward and forward.
For several hours all remained silent, save for the ordinary noises of the woodland. At length, near midnight, a slight rustling sound met his keen ears. He listened intently. Some animal appeared to be stealthily approaching. Then there came a crackling sound, as of a hog munching acorns. Putnam's previous observation of the locality enabled him to judge very closely the position of this creature, and he was too familiar with Indian artifices, and too sensible of the danger of his position, to let even a hog pass unchallenged. Raising his musket to his shoulder, and taking deliberate aim at the spot indicated, he called out, in strict obedience to orders, “Who goes there ? three times,” and instantly pulled the trigger.
A loud groaning and struggling noise followed. Putnam quickly reloaded and ran forward to the spot. Here he found what seemed a large bear, struggling in the agony of death. But a moment's observation showed the wide-awake sentinel that the seeming bear was really a gigantic Indian, enclosed in a bear-skin, in which, disguised, he had been able to approach and shoot the preceding sentinels, Putnam had solved the mystery of the solitary post. The sentinels on that outpost ceased, from that moment, to be disturbed.
Numerous other adventures of Major Putnam, and encounters with the Indians and the French rangers, might be recounted, but we must content ourselves with the narrative of one which ended in the captivity of our hero, and his very narrow escape from death in more than one form. As an illustration of the barbarity of Indian warfare it cannot but prove of interest.
It was the month of August, 1758. A train of baggage-wagons had been cut off by the enemy's rangers. Majors Putnam and Rogers, with eight. hundred men, were despatched to intercept the foe, retake the spoils, and punish them for their daring. The effort proved fruitless. The enemy had taken to their canoes and escaped before their pursuers could overtake them.
Failing in this expedition, they camped out on Wood Creek and South Bay, with the hope of cutting off some straggling party of the enemy. Here they were discovered by French scouts, and, having reason to fear an attack in force, it was deemed most prudent to return to head-quarters at Fort Edward.
The route proved difficult. It lay through dense forest, impeded by fallen trees and thick undergrowth. They were obliged to advance in Indian file, cutting a path as they went. When night came they encamped on the bank of Clear River. The next morning, while the others were preparing to resume the march, Major Rogers, with a foolhardy