If you were to offer a thirsty man all wisdom, you would not please him more than if you gave him a drink. — Sophocles

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

Indian Cruelty

The French and Indian War ended, Putnam resumed work on his Connecticut farm. At the time of the Stamp Act trouble he and some of his fellow citizens visited the house of one of the men who had stamped paper for sale. They told him he must not sell a single sheet of it; and when he objected that he must mind the king, Putnam declared that if he dared disobey them his house would "be level with the dust in five minutes."

Indian cruelty

You have already seen how quick Putnam was to respond to the call when the patriots flew to arms. Ever since the beginning of the war he had been equally active. Called upon to meet the British in Connecticut, with but very few men, Putnam nevertheless managed to hamper their movements greatly.

On one occasion he found himself almost surrounded by the British. Calling to his companions to save themselves, he drew off the British soldiers, who hotly pursued him. With the enemy on three sides of him, and a frightfully steep and rocky slope on the other, it seemed quite impossible that Putnam should escape. But he boldly drove his spurs into his steed, rode safely down the stone steps at Horseneck, and as none of the British dared follow him, he thus managed to get away.

Hearing that the British were burning farmhouses and villages in Connecticut, Washington fancied it might be a good plan to strike a blow which would frighten them and make them come back. He therefore planned to storm Stony Point, a place on the Hudson, where the British were building a new fort.

Sending for Anthony Wayne, an officer who was so brave and daring that his men generally called him "Mad Anthony," Washington told him what he wanted. The young man, devoted to Washington, promptly cried: "I'll storm hell, general, if you will only plan it!" The patriotic young soldier's answer was so well meant that Washington, who never swore himself, and generally reproved his men when they did so, merely smiled on this occasion, and quietly said: "Hadn't we better try Stony Point first?"

The Americans, with guns unloaded and bayonets fixed, drew near the fort unseen, led by an old negro who often went in and out of the British camp to sell strawberries. He walked up to the sentinel, and whispered: "The fort is ours." As this was the password, the soldier began to chat with him, and thus did not notice the Americans creeping up behind him until they seized and gagged him.

The capture of Stony Point

The patriots thus got halfway up the hill before the alarm was given and firing began. Although one of the first shots wounded Mad Anthony, he bade his men carry him, and, cheering his soldiers on, led the way into the fort. Taken by surprise, the British lost many men and their new fort, and at two o'clock in the morning Wayne wrote to Washington: "The fort and garrison, with Colonel Johnson, are ours. Our officers and men behaved like men who are determined to be free." This charge at Stony Point (1777) is considered one of the most brilliant deeds of the Revolutionary War, and the place where it occurred is often visited.

When war first broke out the British hired many Indians to fight for them. While the two main armies were busy in New Jersey, southern New York, and Connecticut, people living in northern New York, and all along the western frontier, were in constant danger. Led by a man named Butler, some Tories—friends of the king

and many Indians suddenly appeared in the Wyoming Valley, in Pennsylvania. Here they cruelly murdered men, women, and children. We are even told that a cruel soldier once ran his bayonet through a tiny baby, and tossed it out of its cradle, saying it was a rebel also!

Not satisfied with one raid of this kind, the Indians soon made a second one at Cherry Valley, in New York. These massacres roused the Americans' anger, not only against the Indians, but also against the British for hiring the help of such cruel allies. Still, it was only the king and some of his ministers who were to blame for this, for most Englishmen felt like Burke. When the order had been given to make use of the Indians, but forbidding them to be cruel, Burke made a speech in the House of Commons; saying: "Suppose there was a riot on Tower Hill. What would the keeper of his Majesty's lions do? Would he not fling open the dens of the wild beasts, and then address them thus: 'My gentle lions, my humane bears, my tender-hearted hyenas, go forth! But I exhort you, as you are Christians and members of civilized society, to take care not to hurt any man, woman, or child!'"

To punish the Indians for the massacres at Wyoming Valley and Cherry Valley, General Sullivan now marched into the Indian territory, where he burned more than forty villages. He also killed so many warriors that the Indians in that part of the country never again dared rise up against the Americans.

Clark's March

The Indian war not only raged in the northeast, but extended even into what is now Kentucky. Although there were but very few settlers there then, many of these were slain. To put an end to Indian raids, General George Rogers Clark of Virginia marched northward, hoping to conquer all the land between the Ohio, the Lakes, and the Mississippi.

Although his army was small, it was composed of brave men, used to the woods and to the Indian way of fighting. They followed him boldly through the wilderness, fording rivers and streams. We are told that they once came to water so deep that their little drummer boy, seeing it would rise above his head, used his drum as a raft, begging the tallest soldier to steer him safely across.

Marching thus from point to point, Clark's forces took all the forts in the Illinois country; but as he had few men, he could not send fair-sized garrisons to all. Some time after Vincennes submitted, a large British force appeared to capture it, and loudly commanded the American officer there to surrender. After some parley, this man consented to do so, provided he and his garrison were allowed to march out with all the honors of war.

The British officer granted this request; but imagine his surprise and anger when he saw the officer march out, followed by only one man! These two composed the whole garrison, and could boast that they had held the fort of Vincennes against a force of eight hundred men. When Clark heard what had happened, he marched over with a large force and recaptured the fort.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell