After retreating to Princeton from Philadelphia we did not lie long at that place. From Princeton we went to Bethlehem. Northampton County, Pa. Whilst we laid at Bethlehem I went frequently to the Nunnery which was used as a hospital to see the surgeons dressing the wounds of the wounded soldiers. Among the number I remember seeing two soldiers, one of the name of Samuel Smith,whose whole leg and thigh was dreadfully mangled by a cannon ball. The doctors amputated it close up to the body. Smith recovered and learned to be a tinker. I often seen him after the Revolution. The other soldier was shot through the neck, the ball had passed in at one side and out at the other. He recovered, but his neck was always so stiff afterwards that when he wanted to turn his head to look in any direction, he had to turn his body therewith to enable him to do so. l often seen him also after the Revolution.
About this time, October or November 1777, the small pox broke out in portions of the army and my father was sent to take charge of the sick to a place where a considerable number of soldiers were encamped not far from Allentown, Bucks County, Pa. Upon my father’s reaching there, a large
house that had belonged to a Tory was converted into a hospital. All the soldiers that had not been taken with the small pox were immediately inoculated.
Sometime about the first of March I inquired diligently for, and found that the army laid at Valley Forge. I told the man I homed with that I was going on to camp. He tried to dissuade me from my purpose. He said everything to me that it was possible for him to say in order to scare me or ﬁll my mind with fear. I told him that l would go and that nothing upon earth should be able to keep me from joining my own regiment or some other one if I could but reach the army. When he found that I was determined to go, he gave me an eighteen-penny piece for all the labor I had performed for him during the winter.
I bundled up my little all and started early in the morning, bending my steps towards Valley Forge.
I cannot remember the state of the roads at this time but remember well, however, that my shoes were very bad. When I traveled more than half way to camp, I became quite weary and hungry and had resolved in my own mind that I would stop at the ﬁrst house at which I should think likely to offer me something to eat. I had not traveled far after I resolved thus until I met a soldier. I inquired of him the way and distance to Valley Forge encampment and asked him also relative to a house ahead at which I might be likely to obtain something to eat. He then asked me if I had any money. I told him I had none. He said he knew better and with that he caught hold of me and took my eighteen-penny piece out of my packet. I than started off from him and ran as hard as I could, being in a fretting humor at my loss as well as in consequence of being very hungry and nothing in my pocket to supply me with food.
Whilst running in this fretting mood, I met an ofﬁcer who asked me what was the matter. I told him I was going on to join the army at Valley Forge and that I had been robbed by a soldier of an eighteen-penny piece which was all the money I had possessed, and that I was then very hungry and knew not what to do. He thrust his hand into his pocket and pulled out a ﬁve dollar note (I do not recollect whether it was Continental or States money) and handed it to me. He then bade me to hurry on beyond the first woods and that when I should get down to a bottom I would come to a tavern and bade me to call there and get something to eat and to drink. His kindness made a deep impression upon me, so much so that even now at this late day after a lapse of nearly 67 years, he sits on horseback before me as plainly as he did then—the generous hearted soldier on whose face the lofty frown of indignancy is strongly depicted.
After this ofﬁcer gave me the money for which I thanked him, he put spurs to his horse and rode on in pursuit of the soldier. I then went on my way rejoicing in a heart overﬂowing with gratitude to so kind a friend as he was to me in the dark hour of my extremity. I soon arrived at the tavern and done as the officer had directed me, and soon had victuals served up before me. I told the landlord and his wife how badly the soldier had treated me. After I had made a hearty meal, I offered to pay them for it and some drink, but they would not take any money from me. Perhaps my having told them of the affair or that of my seeking the camp in my boyhood, or both induced them to refuse any remuneration.
I had not been a great while there and as I was about to start, I espied the same soldier that robbed me advancing towards the house and was all covered over in front with blood. Being no little afraid at seeing him in this plight, thinking at the same time that he might fall upon me by the way and kill me for having informed the ofﬁcer of his conduct. I ran back through the house and went out a back door.
I think that I did not stop running until I arrived at the encampment at Valley Forge. I never knew how it was that he became so bloody, but had good cause to believe that the officer who was so kind to me had overtaken him and struck and cut him with his sword, for when he left me he was very much exasperated at his dastardly conduct in robbing me (then a boy) of my money.
Upon my arrival at Valley Forge encampment I immediately inquired for the 11th regiment, it being (as I have before stated) the regiment to which my father and Myself were attached. Having found where it laid, I went in search of a Sergeant Major Lawson, an old comrade of my father whom I soon found. He was very glad to see me but very sorry to hear of my father’s death.
I told Sergeant Lawson how ill I had fared through the past winter, how little compensation I had received, and of that little having been taken away from me. I next told him how generously I had been befriended by the ofﬁcer that I met afterwards.
In the course of a day or two Sergeant Lawson made known my case to Colonel Richard Humpton who took me to be his waiter. Mth Colonel Humpton l fared very well. The Colonel was an Englishman and had held a Captain’s commission in the old British service in America, but upon the breaking out of the Revolution, he took his stand upon the side of the colonies and joined the patriotic army in defense of the rights and liberation of the colonies.
Colonel Humpton had a young lady with him whom he called his niece, but who became his wife in marriage shortly after the Revolutionary War was ended. This young lady he was in the habit of placing to home at some distance from the camp and from danger, and with her he placed me to wait somewhat upon her
and to take care of her. Miss Elizabeth, although of high extraction, was quite unassuming and of industrious habits. She differed from the ladies generally of the present day. She did not think it unbecoming or degrading to understand and do the duties of housewifery. She did her own sewing and washed and done up her own, the Colonel’s and my linen, etc.
Relative to her acting the part of a washerwoman, I can speak conﬁdently, for upon her wash days I always bore a part in her labors and washed for her (as the saying goes) like a major!
At one time he homed her in the family of a Dutchman not far from the Lehigh River. The Colonel sometimes joined us. The Dutchman was fond of fowling and often used an English gun belonging to the Colonel, the touch-hole of which was bushed with gold. There was a large pond (or mill dam) on or near to his fann and it was much visited by wild ducks. The Dutchman often rose before day and went out and laid in ambuscade and waited their approach. He being a good shot would often kill numbers of them and generally divided the spoils with the Colonel.
The next place where he placed her to home was near to Somerset Court House in Jersey. The Colonel had a wagon, four horses and a driver allowed him, and in this he sent his niece, myself and all his baggage to the above named place. The team was again driven to camp.
Whilst we homed at Somerset Court House a British ofﬁcer had been captured and placed in the Court House which was guarded by American soldiers. One morning after getting out of bed about sun up, I noticed some men coming at a distance and thought that they were American light horse. I immediately ran down towards a large gate at the road side in order to see them, supposing at the same time that I might know some of them. I had gotten within a rod or two of the road as the front passed me. They were moving very slowly and some of them looked at me. Casting my eyes towards the rear, l discovered by their regimental coats that they were British dragoons. I at this moment bethought me that I was dressed in a Fifer’s regiment coat and cap with horse or cow tail hanging thereon, and instantly dashed away at an angling direction across the ﬁeld as swiftly as I could, not daring to look at or to stop at the house to awake Lady Elizabeth, but ran until I gained the elevation in the ﬁelds, towards the wood.
Quickly alter I had commenced to take French Leave of them I looked around and discovered that they were moving very fast. Whether it was seeing me running at such a speed that caused them to gallop off so furiously as they did, I know not. They might have thought that I ran to give intelligence to some detachment of ‘soldiers not far off and that they knew not was stationed in the neighborhood. But if they had thought that Iwas making an instrument of myself for this purpose, they might have hindered me by shooting me and there was the gate, at it they might have entered the field and captured or killed me.
When I arrived near to the woods I looked around me and discovered Somerset Court House all in a blaze. I feel conﬁdent that not more than 15 minutes had elapsed from the time they passed me until the Court House was thus enveloped in ﬂames. Before they ﬁred the building, they released the British ofﬁcer and sent him off by another route.
Here I must remark that the Giver of all good was merciful to me in preserving me, an unarmed lad, and consequently without the power self defense, for the same marauding band of assassinators killed several unoffending and innocent persons in cold blood on that same day. Among the number was a young man who had been married but the day previous. I was in their power for l was within a shorter distance than pistol shot.
Shortly after I gained the woods, I beheld people with wagons containing their families and moveables ﬂeeing from the town and from danger. l staid out all day and knew nothing of the fate of Miss Elizabeth until I returned in the evening. She upbraided me in a very harsh manner for leaving her and threatened that as soon as Colonel Humpton should arrive, she would get him to flog me severely.
The Colonel, however, commended me highly when he did arrive. He stated to her that I had acted with more sense and caution in the matter for her safety than she could or would have done herself. “For had Sammy ran to the house, they might have followed him, captured you and recovered my old British regimentals and papers which might have betrayed me into their power.”
She was of a forgiving disposition of heart and before he arrived she had no doubt revoked her hasty decision. She spoke to the Colonel of my conduct upon that occasion but did not ask him in my presence to chastise me for it.
The Colonel’s harshness at all times was of rather a momentary cast. It would not have been a matter of great surprise to myself if he had ﬂogged me at her instance for upon the day of his arrival an accident occurred which was well calculated in itself to have fretted him. He had a very valuable slut [female dog] that he had brought from England with him and which his niece had with her on
the farm where we resided.
A dog in the neighborhood which was in the habit of killing sheep was often seen lurking about the premises. I had determined to shoot him if possible and had procured a large leaden bullet which I had made into slugs for the purpose. With my piece loaded with these l laid in waiting for him.
He at length came near and the slut springing forward just as I was in the act of pulling the trigger of the gun; received one of the slugs into her head just above one of her eyes which caused her to reel about for sometime. I thought at first that I had really killed her but she was but little injured by it. I recollect that the Colonel besides cutting the slug out of her head, pulled my ear well for me as my punishment for the injury I had done. This, however, was a much lighter
punishment than that which I should have endured within my own breast had I been so unfortunate as to have killed her.
The Colonel always seemed to relent his conduct of severity towards me, and as certain as he dealt in any way harsh with me he would shortly afterwards sing out, “Boy!” When I would go to his room he would hand me a bowl containing
some “good stuff” — liquor (of which he always kept the best) saying, “My lad here is something to drink.” This was a habit so peculiar with him and so uniform that his cook would often say to me when the Colonel pulled or boxed my ears “Sammy, I wish the old fellow would come home and you would do a mischief, for then we would get a good grog.” Folks were not much worse in heart then, than they are now. But they were better fellows of their grog then than they are now. I could divide with the cook and the cook could as generously divide with me.
From Somerset Court House Colonel Humpton removed us to one Garret Van Zandt’s (not far from Coryell’s Ferry) whose farm was worked by one Eber Addis. Coryell’s Ferry is situated in Jersey not very far from Trenton.
The Colonel had a grey horse which had belonged to the adjutant of the regiment (his name was Huston) who had been shot from off him at the Battle of Germantown. Huston having been killed when in the rear of the line, it was supposed that he was shot by some of his own men. He was said to be a rascally and tyrannical officer and from the fact also of his having been often threatened by his own men (among themselves) that he would be the ﬁrst to fall
in battle. Huston after he was shot (although shot dead) hung sometime on the back or rump of his horse before he fell off. As some confusion took place in consequence of the great fog on the morning of the Battle of Germantown, it is possible that he may have fallen through mistake as others of the American soldiers did by the hands of their own companions in arms.
Whilst we were at Van Zandt’s, a boy belonging to Van Zandt (and about my age) and myself undertook to run our horses at times and to jump them over a pair of bars in order (besides the amusement it afforded us) to see which could make the most lofty leaps, he upon a horse that belonged to Van Zandt and l upon the Colonel’s grey charger. With good judges and a purse up, I would have been sure of drawing it with the Colonel’s horse.
For this mischievous frolic of the boy and myself, I recollect that the Colonel not only reprimanded me harshly but in addition pulled my ear severely. The Colonel set great store by this horse and such maneuvers as ours might have rendered him useless, jumping him over such high obstacles, which was well calculated to break a leg or otherwise injure him. And besides this, we stood a good chance to have broken our own necks at the time. CONTINUED NEXT MONTH……