There was a challenge given to box upon the part of one bully, and accepted upon the part of another. The combatants were James Reed of the 1st Brigade and Andrew Travis of the 2nd Brigade. They fought by permission of their officers.
They met upon a ﬂat piece of ground below the forts. They chose their seconds and judges who established certain rules or regulations by which they were to be governed in the ﬁght. Among them this one, that they were not to strike each other in the face.
A large ring was formed by the large body of soldiers which had assembled to witness the ﬁght. The combatants then entered the ring and commenced the fight. They began about 10 o’clock a.m. and fought hard, giving each other most tremendous hard knocks. During the ﬁght they sat down to rest four or five times and each time they partook of refreshments. After resting in this way they would go at it again. They appeared to be very equally matched. Both stout, both strong and vigorous and full of ambitious metal.
I suppose they knocked each other down full twenty times. This ﬁght lasted until near 3 o’clock p.m. Up to that hour it could not be told which was the best or most likely to bear away the palm of victory. Travis at length was forced to yield to Reed who, although not much of a better
man, proved himself the best man of the two upon that occasion. After the ﬁght ended, those that were of our brigade with Reed returned to camp wearing the laurels of victory.
Sometime after this there was a misunderstanding took place between Captain Steake and a Captain Smith. There was a challenge to ﬁght a duel sent and accepted. Smith was an Irishman and was called the lrish Beauty from his being a remarkably handsome man.
On the morning of the day upon which they fought we were waiting for the morning gun to ﬁre. As soon as the morning gun was ﬁred we commenced beating the Reveille. Whilst we were thus engaged our Drum Major said to us, “Huzzah boys, rattle it off. We can see Captain Steake and Captain Smith ﬁght a duel this momingl”
The parties were just at that moment going out to the field. As soon as we had done playing and beating the Reveille we started and ran speedily, but we were out of time for just as we were getting within sight of where they were, we heard the report of Captain Steake’s pistol. His ball had struck his antagonist in his right shoulder, causing his right arm and hand to fall down helpless or powerless at his side. And of course, his pistol fell also. Steake’s ball had taken effect so quick that Smith’s pistol remained undischarged. This was enough for Captain
Smith at this time.
Captain Steake was a good shot. I have known him to ﬁght several duels and never knew him miss his ﬁre once. His balls always took effect. It was said that this or the one he fought afterwards was the seventh duel he fought. l don’t recollect of any of his shots ever proving fatal. Captain Steake was my Captain when I was finally discharged. He was a brave man.
I was detached to a place once during the Revolution which was called “The Hundred Acres.” It was perhaps that section of Delaware County now called “Old Hundred.” Whilst I laid at this place there was a very unfortunate and solemn affair transpired there.
There were two officers, a Second Colonel and a Major that were candidates for promotion to the post of First Colonel. The Major succeeded to the ofﬁce of First Colonel and a high dispute arose between them and a challenge to ﬁght a duel was given and accepted. They met upon the field of death and tossed up to determine which should have the first ﬁre. The Major (elected First Colonel) won the great and decided advantage and they took their stations.
The distance that they were apart was but ten steps. The regulation was that each one when it should be his turn to ﬁre was to stand with his back to the other and at the word “lire” was to wheel and fire. The First Colonel received the word, wheeled and ﬁred and his antagonist
fell mortally wounded. The First Colonel then stepped up to him and asked him if he would be reconciled to him, expressing at the same time his regret that the affair had gone on until itterminated so fatally.
The Second Colonel was determined (although in a dying state) to have his shot. The First Colonel then stepped off ten paces to his post and turning himself around, bared his breast by pulling his shirt bosom apart with both hands and said, “In the name of God. fire.” The Second Colonel was then bolstered up by his second and other ofﬁcers, raised his pistol as far as he was able and ﬁred, but not having strength to hold it high enough, the bullet struck the ground before it reached to where the First Colonel stood. The Second Colonel died immediately after he had discharged his pistol.
This duel caused a great deal of talk, both among the soldiers and among the citizens. Some applauded the deceased ofﬁcer for his spunk, and others the living one for his honor which he had backed by so brave a contempt of death, prepared as he seemed to be to await in a cool and deliberate manner the hand of death truly raised against him.
There came to camp one day an old man and old woman with their family consisting of 24 children. The old people must have been nearly 80 years old. The eldest child I think was a daughter and walked next to the two old people and each of the rest according to his or her age from the eldest to the youngest.
After they entered the encampment they walked down and up the parade ground before the soldiers and in the order I have described. The soldiers ran out of curiosity to see them as they had come for the purpose of getting some help. Most of the officers and some of the soldiers (that had money and they were few) gave them something. It was said that General Washington gave a considerable sum of money to them. I do not recollect
whether they presented any other claim than their poverty and novelty of appearance.
I had never seen such a family previous but I have since. I had a brother-in-law by the name of John Cochell who was married to my ﬁrst wife’s sister and who lived in Berks County, Pa., about 5 miles below Reading whose family consisted (at one time when my wife and myself were there on a visit) of 24 or 25 children; his wife however had ﬁve or six times twins at a birth.
When we lay 4 or 5 miles from (I think it must have been the) Passaic Falls in Jersey (although it is possible that it was near to Trenton Falls in York state) the soldiers went frequently to see the falls and then a great curiosity which was not far from the falls.
There was a poor family that had in it a son who was said to be upwards of thirty years old. I went with some soldiers to see him and beheld the most wonderful sight that I ever did behold in all my life. His body was chunky and about the size of a healthy boy of ten or twelve years
old. He laid in a kind of cradle, but his head (although shaped like a human head) was like a flour barrel in size and it was common for one soldier to describe to others by comparing it to a ﬂour barrel. it had to be lifted about (the body could not support it) whenever and wherever it had to be moved to. His senses appeared to be good and it was usual for us to say “He can talk like a lawyer.”
He would talk to every person that visited him. All the soldiers that visited him and that had any money would always give him something. It was said that General Washington when he went to see him gave his father the sum of four or ﬁve hundred dollars as a present to aid in his support. Although I have here attempted a description of his person and appearance. it beggered every description I can give as no person can conceive truly his appearance but those that seen him.
The soldiers would sometimes go to swim in the river on which the falls was situated. They were always cautioned not to go nearer to the falls than a certain distance then named, it being very dangerous to enter to river at any point nearer than that, as the “suck” was so great as to
draw whatever might chance to fall therein over the falls.
It was said by old people in the settlement around the falls that an Indian had been drawn (with his canoe) by the suck and had been precipitated over the falls.
His body (or parts) of it had been discovered afterwards. The water dashed wildly and swiftly over a precipice that seemed straight almost as the side of a wall and when it fell, it fell broken indeed among high and projecting rocks to which nature had given every ragged and picturesquely wild shape imaginable. The noise of this mighty dashing water could be heard for many miles in every direction
around the falls.
Near to where we lay at some other place during the Revolution we frequently went to see a couple of dwarfs. They were male and female. The one was said to be 33 years old and the other two or three years older or younger, and which it was I cannot now recollect. They were both well on to 3 feet high but their bodies were very slender, their arms and hands were very small and their eyes were no larger than the eyes of a rat. but black as jet. The people called them “fairies.”
Their parents were not very well off. It was also said of General Washington that when he visited them he gave their parents something clever to aid in supporting them. I suppose it was true for I never knew or heard of his closing his hands, but always understood that he gave
liberally on all necessary occasions.
A large detachment of soldiers were sent on from West Point to Crown Point in order to strengthen that post and add to the strength of that portion of the northern army. I accompanied this body of troops in that expedition in the capacity of a regular Fifer in the __ regiment. Owing to our having to pass through a great portion of wilderness country and by means of poor roads often very deep and miry and leading through almost impassable swamps, we endured much hardship and often that of great want.
From the great distance that Crown Point laid from the middle theatre of war, provisions whilst we laid there were often extremely scarce. In fact, sometimes we had to subsist for days without a mouthful of anything to eat. This was not conﬁned to one particular post, but it was
general, as well near to the ﬁrst great Independence ground Philadelphia, as at the far off out posts.
In addition to the want of food, the army was suffering for want of clothing and the want of ammunition with which the soldiers, although enduring every privation could not have protected themselves without. But we considered ourselves well off when we were blessed with rations
sufficient to make tolerably satisfying meals. We considered ourselves well off in the midst of hardships when we were where we could draw a gill of liquor per day occasionally.
When we drew fresh meat we did not always draw salt to preserve it or use with it. During the war we drew more liquor and vinegar when in the vicinity of cities or large towns than when removed to any great distance from them. We indeed (I may state) drew more abundantly (if it were to be had at all) of everything else.
Sometimes we drew two day’s rations at a time. Sometimes when near to towns where baker’s bread could be obtained, it would be procured for us. At West Point we drew bread very often. Sometimes we drew soap. l have known however, that no soap would be drawn for six months at a time. We have often procured white clay and used it as soap in washing our shirts, pantaloons, etc.
I recollect that when we laid at Carlisle barracks. we procured white clay and mixed it up like mortar and made it into large balls and after they would become dry we would rub them on our pantaloons like to buff balls upon buckskin breeches. By their use thus, we made them for a
time almost white as chalk.
This mode of washing or metamorphosing dirty wearing apparel into clean, might suit some particular characters not very particular nowadays. but not the generality of folks. This mode of washing or rather painting of dirty clothes, if introduced now would be considered by our tidy housewives and their rosy cheeked lassies of daughters rather a dry and very odd kind of wash indeed.
At times when we drew biscuit, we were scarce of everything else and were then in the midst of hard times. Sometimes we had one biscuit and a herring per day and often neither the one nor the other. Sometimes we had neither the one nor the other for two days at a time, and in one or two instances nothing until the evening of the third day.
This was previous to our drawing a biscuit and a herring each day, the biscuit was made of “ship-stuff” and they were so hard that a hammer or a substitute therefor was requisite to break them. This or throw them to soak in boiling water.
Upon these, a biscuit and a herring each day, the soldiers lived until their mouths broke out with scabs and their throats became as sore and raw as a piece of uncooked meat. This was very annoying and oppressive and was called the scurvy.
The soldiers at length determined to kick against the receipt of herrings. We all drew our herrings and saved them for a day or two and then collected them at one place on the parade ground. We fastened them upon long poles and some of the soldiers carried them upon their shoulders around and up and down the parade ground whilst we (the musicians) played and beat “The Rogue’s March” after them. After we had endeavored to
Fish Drill our officers enough, we left our ﬁsh lying upon the parade ground to undergo an “official” inspection and repaired quietly and orderly to our quarters.
The officers made a great ado about the matter but the soldiers were determined not to yield anything. This course of independent burlesquing at the expense of the “tiny” tribe of unwelcome guests brought us a load or two of dried clams in a very few days thereafter.
The clams had been taken out of the shells and then put upon strings and dried as farmers’ wives dry their apples in the chimney corners and in the sun. Every man drew four or ﬁve inches of dried clams. They were very dry and would rattle one against another like two pebble stones and
were seemingly as hard. When boiled however, they would swell out and become soft and as large nearly as when they had been ﬁrst strung. Our process was to boil them and then break up some ship biscuit and throw them into our camp kettles and would make a kind of soup out
of them and believed ourselves to have been blessed with pretty fair living considering the times and situation of the army.
Sometimes whilst we laid at West Point, Fort Ticonderoga and at other military posts, we drew what was called “state’s stores.“ I don’t know why they were called by this name unless it was that these goods were donations from store keepers made to their respective State Governments, and then from the State Governments to the United State’s Government, for the use of the army in general. From these state’s stores we drew coffee, tea,sugar, chocolate, soap, tobacco, pepper and other articles that were very serviceable to us. ([Footnote:]
Nothing could be more acceptable to us than tobacco. It was hard doing without it or its substitute. I have known soldiers to chew leaves of various kinds and also roots, some would use Calamus as a substitute for tobacco.)
it was considered a great thing among us to draw rations thus. This good fortune came but seldom, perhaps once in six months we fared this well. A shorter period, however, might have elapsed at times between. but oftener a longer elapsed than a shorter one.
Nothing of consequence that l recollect of transpired whilst we laid at Crown Point and Ticonderoga. Something like skirmishing would occur occasionally. It was in consequence of some diversion or feint having been made by one of the British commanders that we had
been detached there. The necessity of this force at that point having been done away with and we [were] needed in a more enlarged sphere, we were ordered back again to West Point. I do not recollect our route from West Point to Crown Point, neither can I recollect by what route we
returned. I remember, however, of having been at FortSchuyler a short time, but whether it was at this time or not I cannot now state.
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