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They had built houses, barns and cultivated the soil. Naturally such a man will hold his own and fight for it against the world. And the possession becomes endeared by association, and consecrated by special experiences of blood and woe. Those who escaped the tomahawk and scalping knife had come back again from their refuge. The invincible, indestructible community persevered in the contest against all odds, and no power, civilized or barbarian, could root it out.
With judicial impartiality he concludes thus: Upon balancing the facts and evidence we are brought not to the conclusion usually the result of a fair consideration of the whole subject in like cases, that both parties were in the wrong, but that both parties were substantially in the right.
Whisky Insurrection—Threatened French War—Row With England—War Of 1812-15 —Mexican War—Civil War—Etc.
IN 1756 the proprietaries of Pennsylvania imposed an excise duty on all distilled spirits, but the law being very unpopular, was soon repealed. The people of this colony, like all the pioneers of America, put their faith deeply in religion, and a little "suthen for their stomach's sake," whisky being their vernacular beverage here, while rum held undisputed possession of New England. All agricultural products from this section were transported originally by pack-horses, and the transportation companies that were the forerunners of these long railroad trains that now go screaming over the hills and through the valleys, were men who had numbers of pack-horses, that were manned by a crew of two men, one on a leadhorse and one in the rear. A horse could carry four bushels of grain; made into whisky he could carry the equal of twenty-five bushels, thus was saved the labor of five horses out of six. Distilleries were therefore among the first necessities of the pioneers. To be caught by a neighbor with the bottle empty was unpardonable; it was an article of common family use.
In 1791, however, after the power to impose taxes, duties, imposts and excises had been delegated by the States to the federal government, Congress established an excise duty or tax of fourpence per gallon on all distilled spirits. This law produced open insurrection in western Pennsylvania, where large quantities of whisky were annually manufactured.
The people of Washington, Fayette, Alleghany, and other counties viewed the law as an act of oppression. They stigmatized it as unjust, and as odious as those laws of England which led to the Revolutionary war, and they considered themselves justified in forcible opposition to its enforcement. But they did not discriminate between their duty and obligations as citizens of a free government, and their allegiance as subjects of the British crown.
The excise officers of the government were arrested by armed parties, who were painted and otherwise disguised. Some were tarred and feathered; others were conveyed into deep recesses of the woods, divested of their clothing, and firmly bound to trees. County meetings and conventions were assembled, inflammatory speeches were made, and denunciatory resolutions adopted. The dwellings, barns and distilleries of persons who spoke in favor of the law, or exhibited the least sympathy for the government which enacted it, were consumed by fire; and even Pittsburg,
which did not take an active part with the rebels, was threatened with total destruction.
In 1792 Congress reduced the tax, but this did not satisfy the insurgents, the Monongahela whisky manufacturers, and the farmers who supplied them with grain. The country continues in a state of insurrection. After all mild and dissuasive measures had failed, in 1794, Washington being president, it was resolved to raise and equip an army for the purpose of quelling the insurrection. A force of 15,000 men was assembled, of regulars and volunteers, from the States of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey. Gov. Lee, of Virginia, had the chief command. Mifflin was governor of this State, and one of the commanders. All the governors and commanders were ordered to meet in Pittsburg, to hear complaints and take testimony, as the malcontents should be arrested and brought before them. Among the first to tender their services to the government were the Luzerne volunteers, Capt. Samuel Bowman; attached to a battalion of light infantry, under Maj. George Fisher. Capt. Bowman marched out September 1,1794, reaching where is now Pittsburg, with fifty men. The Captain was an old officer of the army of the Revolution; brave and experienced, and in his company were some of his old soldiers. The following is the muster-roll:
Captain, Samuel Bowman; lieutenant, Ebenezer Parrish; ensign, Arnold Colt; sergeants, John Alden, Daniel Spencer, John Freeman; corporals, Archibald White, Oliver Parrish, Robert Lewis, Thompson Holliday; fifer, Peter Yarrington; drummer, John Wright; privates, Samuel Young, Solomon Daniels, John Cochran, Elihu Parrish, James Sitey, Thomas P. Miller, Peter Grubb, Arthur McGill, James Johnston, Joseph Headsdale, Daniel Alden, Simon Stevens, Warham Strong, David Landon, Gideon Underwood, Jeremiah Decker, James Robb, Sale Roberts, Partial Roberts, Rufus Drake, Benjamin Owens, John Earl, Charles Bowes, Curtis Grubb, Thomas Jayne, Joseph Grimes, Jesse Tompkins, William Harris, Jesse Coleman, John Talliday and Cofrin Boldwell.
The gathered 15,000 troops spread terror among the "Tom the Tinker," as the whisky boys were called, and a general surrender soon followed, and "Johnny came marching home." In suppressing this rebellion no precious Luzerne blood was spilled, but is was quite evident to the "rebels" that "Barkis is willin' " so far as the people of the county were concerned. From beginning to end the campaign lasted three months.
French War, 1799.— France had materially helped the colonies in their struggle for independence, and in return France looked to the United States for aid and comfort in its grapple with Europe and its long war with its arch-enemy, England. Americans were content to let France do her own fighting, and even became so friendly with England as to excite the jealousy of the Gauls. France therefore adopted measures openly inimical to American commerce; dismissed curtly the American minister at Paris, and licensed her ships of war to prey upon American merchantmen. The United States tried negotiations, and exhausted the means of pacification, and then openly prepared for war with France. In January, 1799, the American sloop-of-war "Retaliation" was captured by the French vessel "Insurgent" of forty guns. February following, the American frigate "Constellation," thirty-two guns, Capt. Truxtun, met the "Insurgent," engaged her, and compelled her to strike her colors. In a few days after the same American vessel engaged the French frigate "Vengeance," of fifty-four guns; the fight was severe and lasted from 8 in the evening till 1 the next morning, when the second French vessel struck colors, but this was not seen in the dark by Capt. Truxtun, and the Frenchmen and vessel escaped, but with terrible loss. •
The nation was now thoroughly aroused. President Adams requested Gen. Washington to again assume command of the army, and a call for troops was issued. In the call for volunteers Luzerne county as usual was prompt to hear and her men •
turn out. In May, 1799, again the gallant Capt. Samuel Bowman, with seventy five men, went to the front, and became attached to the Eleventh United States infantry, and marched to the Delaware and thence to Newburg, and were in the service until the latter part of the year 1800, when the war-cloud passed away happily, and the army was disbanded, immediately after Bonaparte became first consul of France.
Trouble with England. —In 1807 the British frigate "Leopard," without cause or notice, fired on the American frigate "Chesapeake.'' Other insults were given the American flag, and the frequency of these outrages began to portend war. Luzerne county was again to the fore. The Wyoming Blues, Capt. Joseph Slocum, Lieut. Isaac Bowman, Sergt. Benjamin Perry, in a letter breathing patriotism and war, tendered their services to President Jefferson. This tender must have mightily pleased the President, and in an autograph letter to Slocum, Bowman and Perry, he thanks them warmly. The letter concludes, after referring them to the State authorities: "I salute you with great respect, Th. Jefferson."
War of 1812. —After a long series of taunts and insults, the United States was stung to a declaration of war against England.
The "Wyoming Matross," a volunteer company in Kingston, commanded by Capt. Samuel Thomas, with promptness offered their services to the government, and were accepted April 13, 1813, marching from Kingston to the Eddy, at the mouth of Shoop's creek, in Plymouth, where they embarked, numbering thirty-one men, and proceeded to Danville; thence overland to Bedford, where Capt. Thomas recruited thirty-seven men, recruiting twenty-seven more men in Fayette county, and reached Erie with ninety-five men all told. The following were the Luzerne county men: Captain, Samuel Thomas; first lieutenant, Phineas Underwood; second lieutenant, Ziba Hoyt; third lieutenant, Andrew Sheets; ensign, Edward Gilchrist; sergeants, John Carkhuff, Jacob Taylor, Absolom Roberts, Henry Jones, George W. Smith, John Bowman; corporals, Christopher Miner, Daniel Cochevour, Samuel Parrish, Ebenezer Freeman, John Blane; gunners, Stephen Evans, Isaac Hollister, John Prince, James Bird, Morris Crammer, Festus Freeman, James Devans; drummer, Alexander Lord; fifer, Araba Amsden; privates, Daniel Hoover, John Daniels, James W. Barnum, William Pace, James Bodfish, Godfrey Bowman, Benjamin Hall, Solomon Parker, Ezekiel Hall, Sylvanus Moore, Hallet Gallup.
This artillery company did fine execution in the cannonading at Presque Harbor, firing no less than thirty shots into the hull of the brig "Hunter," and also cut away much of the rigging and injured the "Queen Charlotte." Preparatory to Perry's notable victory on Lake Erie, he had called for volunteers from the land forces. Among those who offered their services were William Pace, Benjamin Hall, Godfrey Bowman and James Bird, of the "Matross" company. They were sent on board the " Niagara," and all distinguished themselves eminently. James Bird fought almost by the side of Commodore Perry, was wounded, but when told to go below, refused, and continued in the battle. The State presented each of these volunteers a medal; but here comes a most sad and painful story. James Bird never received his more than thrice-earned medal, but instead, was shot' kneeling on his coffin—as a deserter.
News of the intended attack on New Orleans had reached the army on the lakes when Bird, fired solely with an ambition to be in the battle at New Orleans, one night when in command of the guards, marched off with several of his men to join Jackson's forces, was arrested at Pittsburg, brought back, court-martialed and shot. .Poor fellow! shot for an excess of bravery and patriotism. In behalf of the memory of Commodore Perry, it is said that poor Bird was dead before he heard of the affair, or otherwise he would have saved him. Hon. Charles Miner wrote and published a poem, telling graphically the pathetic story of James Bird.
The "Matross" company was in Col. Hill's regiment, and under Gen. Harrison; advanced from Erie to Cleveland and joined the main army September 27, crossing into Canada, moving against Maiden, which the enemy deserted, after burning the public buildings. Advancing toward Sandwich, the Americans found that place also deserted. Thence they crossed the Detroit river to attack Gen. Proctor, who, with several hundred British troops and a large body of Indians under the celebrated chief Tecumseh, was in possession of Detroit. Capt. Thomas' company was in the forward gunboats in the passage across the river, and, landing, planted the stars and stripes on the opposite bank. Proctor and his forces retreated, whom Gen. Harrison immediately pursued with the main body of Kis army, including the whole of the "Matross," except fourteen men, who were left with Capt. Thomas at Detroit. In the battle of the Thames the company was commanded by Lieut. Ziba Hoyt, and acquitted itself with credit, sustaining the reputation of Luzerne for good and true soldiers.
In addition to the company of Capt. Thomas, Luzerne furnished a number of volunteers for the companies of Capt. John Baldy, of Columbia, and Capt. Robert Gray, of Northumberland counties. Among these were Job Barton, William Hart, William Brown, Henry Harding, Luther Scott, W. C. Johnson, and about thirty others. These companies were attached to the Sixteenth regiment of infantry, known as the " Bloody Sixteenth." This regiment was commanded by Col. Cromwell Pearce. It was present at the engagements of Sackett's Harbor, Stony Creek, and of other places. At the battle of York, in Canada, when Gen. Pike was killed by the blowing up of the magazine, Col. Pearce, of this regiment, assumed the command of the army, and received the capitulation of the enemy. During the war there was a recruiting station established at Wilkes-Barre, and the names of Capts. Baldy, Gray and McChesney, of the infantry, and Helme of the cavalry are remembered. The infantry barracks were located on the bank of the river, opposite the residence of Col. H. B. Wright, and the cavalry barracks were located on Franklin street, on the site of the residence of the late Joshua Miner. At 4 o'clock A. M.,the drums beat the reveille, and drill officers with new recruits daily paraded in the streets. At short intervals one or more detachments were sent away to the regular army.
In 1814, when the British threatened an attack on Baltimore, five companies of militia from Luzerne and adjoining counties marched under the command of Capts. Joseph Camp, Peter Hallock, Frederick Bailey, George Hidley and Jacob Bittenbender. The Wyoming Blues, a volunteer company, assembled at Wilkea-Barre, with the intention of accompanying the militia, but, some difficulty occurring, the company broke up in a row. Several of its officers and privates entered the ranks of the militia, while eight or ten men, with drums beating, marched toward the seat of war, under the colors of the Wyoming Blues. On the arrival of these companies at Danville, they received intelligence of the gallant defence of Fort Henry, and the repulsion of the British forces. They consequently received orders to return to their homes—an order welcome, doubtless, to men of families, but bringing disappointment to others who were anticipating the excitement of an active campaign.
Mexican War.—December 7, 1846, the Wyoming Artillerists, Capt. E. L. Dana, left Wilkes-Barre for the seat of war in Mexico; going to Pittsburg by canal, where they were mustered into service; a part of the First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, to serve during the war. At this point First Lieut. Francis L. Bowman was elected major, and company " I" left Pittsburg, December 22 for New Orleans by steamboat, reaching there went into camp on Jackson's old battle ground, about seven miles below the city, remaining there until January 16, 1847, then sailed and were landed at the Island of Lobos (Wolf Island), which they reached February 1. The passage to this point was stormy and tedious. The island where they landed is about twelve miles from the Mexican coast, and 120 miles north of Vera Cruz. It is about one mile in circumference, and was covered with a thick growth of chaparral; and the water used by the troops for cooking was of a brackish character, being seawater filtered through the sand.
March 3 the company left Lobos and sailed for Anton Lizardo, nine miles below Vera Cruz, where they arrived two days after. On the 9th of March a landing was effected on the Mexican coast, at a point three miles south of Vera Cruz. The fleet had hardly swung to its cables when Gen. Worth's division, with wonderful celerity, filled the surf-boats, and, at a signal from the ship of the commander-inchief, darted for the shore amid the enthusiastic cheers of the army and of our gallant tars. By 9 o'clock of the night of that day, 12,000 men had landed without firing a gun, and were marshaled within two miles of the city. The army commenced the next morning its march through the thick chaparral and sand-hills for the investment of Vera Cruz. The day was intensely hot, and many men were stricken down by coup de soleil. To add to their sufferings, they dare not drink of the water of the springs of the country; as a report was abroad that they were poisoned by the enemy. It was the fortune of the Wyoming Artillerists to receive the first fire of the Mexicans. Passing through the chaparral by a narrow path, along the base of a gentle declivity, the enemy poured their fire upon them, when the company was halted, and delivered their own with admirable coolness. The Greasers fled to the city. The company participated actively in the investment of the place and was engaged throughout the siege. The trenches were opened on the 22d, and after a terrible storm of iron had been blown on the city for a few days and nights, it surrendered to the American army on March 29, 1847.
In April the volunteer division left the city for the interior, under the command of Maj.-Gen. Patterson. Having arrived at Plan del Rio, fifty miles from Vera Cruz, they found Gen. Twiggs with his division of regulars already there. The Mexicans, under Gen. Santa Ana, were strongly posted in the pass of Cerro Gordo. On the morning of April 18, the American army attacked the Mexican lines. The volunteer brigade formed the left wing, under the command of Gen. Pillow, to which the Wyoming Artillerists were attached. The brigade took a position within 200 yards of the Mexican batteries, which opened upon them a tremendous fire of grape. The Wyoming boyssuffered but slightly; butthe Second Tennessee regiment, occupying more elevated grounds, suffered severely, and Gen. Pillow himself was wounded. In twenty minutes the line of attack was completed, and the brigade moved forward toward the batteries. The Mexicans now displayed the white flag from their defences, for their left wing had been completely routed by the forces under Gens. Twiggs, Shields, Worth and Quitman. The fruits of this victory were 3,000 prisoners, 5,000 stand of arms, forty-three cannon, the money chest of the Mexican army, containing $20,000, and a free passage for the army into the interior of the enemy's country. In this action David R. Morrison, of the Wyoming company, was killed, and Corporal Kitchen wounded.
After the battle the volunteer force encamped three miles west of Jalapa, where they remained about three weeks. They were then ordered to Perote, a place about thirty-five miles west of'Jalapa, on the main road to the capital. Here they took up their quarters in the celebrated castle of Perote, and formed its garrison. The period of their stay here was the most melancholy of the whole campaign, for the burial of the dead was the principal feature of their soldier life.
Here those ravages of the army, diarrhoea and typhus fever, broke out and made fearful havoc in their ranks. For many weeks was heard, almost constantly, the melancholy strains of the dead march accompanying their messmates to lonely and forgotten graves. It was a joyful day when they received orders to leave the gloomy castle and dreary plains of Perote. About the 2d of July they marched for the city of Puebla. On the night of the 4th, when the soldiers had taken to their blankets, the camp was alarmed by an attack on the pickets, which were driven in. Satisfied with this, the enemy retired.
Having reached El Pinal, or the Black Pass, Gen. Pillow anticipated a fight, for the enemy were posted there, prepared to dispute the passage. The Wyoming