OCR Interpretation

Wilmington expositor. (Wilmington, Del.) 1831-18??, September 30, 1831, Image 1

Image and text provided by University of Delaware Library, Newark, DE

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88053122/1831-09-30/ed-1/seq-1/

What is OCR?

Thumbnail for

araurc rToar expositor
MX). 6.
The Wilmington Expositor will be published
Weekly on a Super Royal sheet, at Two Dollars per
year in advance; or Three Dollars at the end of the
year. No paper will be discontinued, until all ar
rearages are paid, except at the option of the pub
lisher—and a failure to notify a discontinuance will
be considered a new engagement.
Advertisements not exceeding one square, will be con
spicuously inserted three times for One Dollar, and
for every subsequent insertion Twenty Cents. Those
exceeding a square in the same proportion.
All communications relating to the business of the
tabUshment, if sent by mail, to ensure attend
milit be post paid.
leading events of the War of Indepen
dence are familiar to cvery*American ; hut
many incidents, full of interest and adventure, and
Vet remain to be disclosed. Iheie are those
yet living who remember the following story, try
The American authorities found much dif- he
fidulty in disposing of their prisoners. They the
had no post regularly fitted for the purpose;
and they could suggest no better means for
Securing them, than to place them under guard the
itt a thickly settled part of the country, where in
the inhabitants were most decidedly hostile to
the English. The town of Lancaster, in Penn- be
oylvania, was of those selected for this pur
pose. The prisoners were confined in bar
rack*,, enclosed with a stockade and vigilantly
guarded. But in spite pt all precautions, they
often disappeared in an unaccountable manner, At
and nothing was heard of them till they had
resumed their place in the British Army. Ma
ny and various were the conjectures as to the
of their escape; the officers inquired
and investigated in vain; the country was ex- an
plored to no purpose; the soldiers shook their
heads, and told of fortune-tellers, pedlars and and
such characters, who had been seen at inter- dog
vais ; and sundry öf the more credulous could
think of nothing but supernatural agency ; but
whether man or spirit was the conspirator, the of
mystery wtts unbroken. . ,n
When this became known to Washington,
he sent General Hazen to take the reap on si be He
charge. This energetic officer, after exhaust
ing all resources, resorted to stratagem. He
was convinced that, as thc nearest British post
e than a hundred miles distant, the
nrisoHöft must he aided bv Americans, but his
where the suspicion should fall, he could not et
even conjecture: the reproach of Toryism be
•ing almost unknown in that region. Having
been trained to meet exigencies of this kind in
a distinguished career, as colonel in the British
army, hts plan was formed at once, and com
municated to an officer of his own, upon whose
talent he relied for its successful execution.
This Vas Cantain Lee. whose courage and
•aMlitv fuUy justified the'selection.
The secret plan concerted between them was
this. It was to be given out that Lee was ab
er-nt on-furlouch or command. He, meantime.
was to assume 5 the dress of a British prisoner,
and, having provided himself with information
and a story of his capture, was to he thrown
into the barracks, where he might gain the con
fidence of the soldiers, and join them in apian
How well Cantain Lee sustained
hi. paTmny inferred P from the fact that
when he had (Ji sa PP eared ond placed himself
amontr the prisoners, his own officers and sol
him everv clav without the least sus
S" The person to whom I am indebted
for most of these particulars was the Intendant
of the prisoners, and familiar with Lee ; but.
thonoh comnelled to see him often in the dis
charge of Ids duty, he never penetrated the
Well it was for Lee that his dis
ouise was so complete. Had his associates
susnectcd his nurnose to betrat' them, his his
torv would have been embraced in thc prov erb,
»dead men tell no tales.'
For many davs he remained in this situation,
making no discoveries whatever. He thought
lie perceived at times, signs of intelligence he
»ween the prisoners and an old woman, who
was allowed to bring fruit for sale within the
as known to be deaf and
was ni<
enclosure. She
half-witted, and was therefore no object
It was known that her
been disgraced and punished in the Americ:
army, but she had never betrayed any malice
on that occount, and no one dreamed that she
could have had the power to do injury if she
possessed the will.
Lee watched her closely,
but saw nothing to confirm his suspicions. Her;
dwelling was about a mile distant, in a wild re
treat where she shared her miserable quarters
with'adog and cat, the former of which mount-!
ed guard over her mansion, while the latter!pery
encouraged superstitious fears which were e-i
Dually effectual in keeping visitors away.
' One dark, stormy night in autumn, he was
Jvine awake at midnight, meditating on the
enterprize hc had undertaken, which, though
in the beginning it had recommended itself
bis romantic disposition, had now lost all its
«■■harms It was ®nc of those tempests, which]
in our climate so often hang upon the path of
tne cleparting year. His companions slept,
soundly, but the wind, which shook the build-jthe
ing to its foundation and threw heavy splashes, low
of rain against the window, conspired with the'
c , . . , A •..
state of his mind, to keep him wakeful. All;
at once the door was gently opened, and a fi-then
gure moved silently into the room. It wasl med
too dark to observe its motions narrowly, but barn
he could see that it stooped towards one of thel
sleepers who immediately rose; next it ap-{ that
proached him and touched him on the shout- the
.1T _i:~...l. .. -J . r !..
der. Lee immediately started up; the figure
then allowed a slight gleam from a dark lantern
to pass over his face, and as it did so, whisper
ed impatiently, 'not the man—hut come!* It of
(hen occurred to Lee that this was the oppor
tunityhe desired. The unknown whispered
to him to keep his place till another man was was
called; but just at that moment, some noise so
disturbed him, and, making a sign to Lee to
follow, he moved silently out of the room.
They found the door of the house unbarred,!
and a small part of the fence removed, where
they passed out without molestation ; the sen
try had retired "to a shelter where he thought and
he could guard his post without suffering from off
the rain; but Lee saw that his conductors put the
themselves in preparation to silence him if he from
should happen to address them. Just without by
the fence appeared a stooping figure, wrapped were
in a red cloak, and supporting itself with a
large stick, which Lee at once perceived could
be no other than the old friiit woman. But the as
most profound silence was observed: a man arm
came out from a thicket, at a little distance and
joined them, and the whole party moved on- to
ward under the guidance ot the old woman. He
At first they frequently stopped to listen, but
having heard the sentinel's cry, * all's well,' jn
they seemed reassured, and moved with more
confidence than before. in
They soon came near to her cottage, under
an overhanging bank, where a bright light was
shining out from a little window upon the wet the
and drooping boughs that hung near it. The
dog received them graciously, and they ente- as
red. A table was spread, with some coarse
provisions upon it, and a large jug, which one
of thc soldiers was about to seize, when the
,n un who conducted them withheld him. • No.'
said he, ' we must first proceed to business, ner,
He then went to a small closet from which lie
returned with what seemed to have been, ori
ginally, a Bible, though now it was won. to a
mahogany color and a spherical form. W bile
they were doing this, Lee had time to examine
his companions; one of whom was a large qui
et looking soldier, the other, a short stout man,
with much the aspect ot a villain. 1 hey ex
amined him in turn, and as Lee had been obli
ged formerly to punish the shortest soldier se
verely, he felt some misgivings when the fel
low s eye rested upon him. Iheir conductor
was a middle-aged, harsh-looking man, whom
Lee had never seen before.
As no time was tobe lost, their guide ex
plained to them in few words, that, "before he
should undertake hi» dangerous enterprise, he to
should require of them to swear upon the
Scriptures, not to make the least attempt to
escape, and ..ever to reveal the circumstances
or agents in the proceeding, whatever might
befal them. The soldiers, however, insisted
on deferring this measure, till they had formed
some slight acquaintance with the contents of
ihe jug, and expressed their sentiments on the
.»bject rather by action than word,. In «hi,
they were joined by Lee, who b\ this time had
regun to contemplate the danger of his enter
prise in a new and unpleasant point of view,
ïf he were to be compelled to accompany his
party to New York, his disguise would at ogee
be detected, and it was certain that he would
be hanged as a spy. He had supposed, be
the forehand, that he should find no difficulty in
.scaping at any moment: but he saw that their
conductor had prepared arms for them, which
they were to use in taking the life of any one
who should attempt to leave them-aml then
the oath. He might possibly have released
himself from its obligations, when it became
necessary for the interests of his country ; but
he- no honorable man can well bear to be driven
to an emergency, m which he must violate an
the oath, however reluctantly it was taken. He
and felt that there was no retreating, when there
of came a Jieavy shock, as if something falling
against thc sides of the house; their practised
enr at once detected thc alarm gun ; and their
conductor, throwing down the old Bible, which
she he had held all the while impatiently m his
she hand, directed the party to î * oll J ow ' L h ™ m clo _ se
order and immediately quitted the house, ta
Her; king with him his dark lantern.
re- They went on with great despatch, but not
without difficulty. Sometimes their, footing
would give way on some sandy bank or slip
latter!pery field; and when their path led through
e-i the woods, the wet boughs dashes heavily m
I their faces. Lee felt that he might have de
was serted his precious companions while they were
the in this hurry and alarm ; but he felt, that, as
yet, he had made no discoveries ; and however
toidangerous his situation was, he could not bear
its to confess that he had not nerve to carry it
which] through. On he went, therefore, for two or
three hours, and was beginning to sink with ored
fatigue« when the barking of a dog, brought arm
party to a stand. Their conductor gave a S°
low whistle, which was answered at no great
distance, and a figure came forward hTthe
■ a figure came forward in the
darkness, who whispered to their guide, and Was
fi-then led the way up to a building, which see
med by the shadowy outline, to be ä large stone
barn They entered it. and were severally
placed in small nooks where they could feel
that the hay was all around them, except on
the side of the wall. Shortly after, some nro- for
!.. . . . ' ... •
some pro
visions were brought to them with the same
silence, and it wps signified to them that they he
were to remain concealed through the whole
of the coming day.
Through a crevice in the wall Lee could * h,
discovers the day came on^bat the'bmn
was attached to a small farm-house. He was as
so near the house that he could overhear the to
[conversation which was carried on about the
'door. The morning rose clear, and it was
evident from the enquiries of horsemen who ncr
occasionally gaUopped up to the door, that the
country was alarmed. The farmer gave short that
and surly replies, as if unwilling to be taken bo
off from his labour; but the other inmates of
the house were eager in their questions, and. if
from the answers, Lee gathered that the means not
by which he and his companions had escaped
were as mvsterious as ever. K
The next night, when all was quiet, they re-!breaats;
sumed their march, and explained to Lee that,
as he was not with them in their conspiracy l 'ie
arm was accidentally associated with them in the
ffiSr escape, they should take the precuation
to keep him before them, just behind the guide.
He submitted without opposition, though the of
arrangement considerably lessened the chances for
jn favor of his escape. He observed from the said
direction of the stars, that they did not move
in a direct line toward the Delaware, but they
changed their course so often that he could not
conjecture at what point they intended to strike will
the river. He endeavoured, whenever any pe- wbc
culiar object appeared, to fix it in his memory an
as well as the darkness would permit, and sue- and
ceeded better than could have been expected.
considering the agitated state in which he tra
For several nights they went on in this man
ner, being delivered over to different persons,
from time to time; and as Lee could gather of
from their whispering conversation, they were
regularly employed on occasions like the pre
sent, and well rewarded by the British for their w
services. Their employment was full of dan- but
ger; and though they seemed like desperate
men, he could observe that they never remitted "
their precautions. I hey were concealed by
day in barns—cellars—caves made for the pur
pose, and similar retreats, and one day was it
passed in a tomb, the dimentions of which had
been enlarged, and the inmates, if there had
been any, banished to make room for the liv.
ing. The burying grounds were a favorite re
treat, and on more occasions than one they
were obliged to resort to superstitious alarms
to remove intruders upon their path ; their sue
cess fully justified the experiment, and, un
pleasantly situated as he was, in the prospect
5f soon being a ghost himself, he could not
avoid laughing at the expedition with which
old and young fled from the fancied apparitions
under clouds of night, wishing to meet such
of enemies, like Ajax, in the face of day.
Though the distance to the Delaware was
not great, they had now been twelve day, on
the road, and such was the vigilance and super
stition prevailing throughout the country, that
they almost despaired of effecting their object. :
Th? conductor grew impatient, and Lee', com
panions, at least one of them became Ierocious.
There was, as we have said something unplea
sant to him in the glances of this fellow to
in ward him. which became more and more fierce
as they went on ; but it did not appear whether
it were owing to circumstances or actual sus
picion. It so happened that, on the twelfth
night, Lee was placed in a barn, whilst the rest
of the party sheltered themselves in the cellar
of a little stone church, where they could talk
but and act with more freedom, both because the
solitude of the church was not often disturbed
an even on the sabbath—and because even the
He proprietors did not know that illegal hands had
added a cellar to the conveniences of the buil
The party where seated here as the day broke
and the light, which struggled in through ere
vices opened for the purpose, showed a low
room about twelve feet square, with a damp
floor and large patches of white mould upon
Findimr, probably, that the pave
nr ii „ ^ cWn'inp
ment afforded no accommodations for sleeping,
the worthies were seated each upon a little cask
which seemed like those used for gunpowder,
Here they were a smoking pipes with great
diligence, and, at the intervals not distant, ap
plying a huge canteen to their mouths, from;
r /. P. , . . . „„„an;,.«,
which theydtank with upturned faces expressive
of solemn satisfaction. W hue they were tnus,
engaged, the short soldier asked them in a care
less way, if they knew whom they had in their
party. 'The others started, and took their
pipes from their mouths to ask nun what ne
' I mean,' snid he, ' that we are hon
ta- the walls.
ored with the company of Captain'LwTrf the w£l
arm y- The rascal once punished me, and I never mis
S° k my man when 1 had a debt of that kind to pay.
Thî ^ • ...
ferocity, saying, that if, as he said, their comuanion
Was aa American officer, all they had to do was
watch him closel y- They said that, as he had come
un .'? vi,ed - hc must with thcm tw New

might give an alarm, whereas it was evidently his in
to 8° With them till they were ready to embark
for , k ' The oth ? r Persisted in saying that he
would Have his rpvpnpp with hi«nwn h-ind «n,..,
^ . ... F"- ' ■»•uv»-*.. Ill anjinj; lllrtl HC

he saw the least attempt to injure Captain Lee, or any
conduct which would lead him to suspect that his dis
guise was discovered, he would that moment shoot him
* h, ^ u sh the head. The soldier put his hand upon his
as good as his word, he restraiaed himself, and beg
to arrange some rubbish to serve him for a bed. T!
soldi f r £? llo wed his example, and their guide
*" drew ' lock,n K' hc door aftcr h,m -
ncr of their "conductor ^how°e n i a ?h U ? l tn bUt the ma,1 I
danger than before; in fact, he explained^« the**party
that they were now not far from the Delaware, and
bo P ed to reach it before midnight. They occasionally
re P ort of a masket » which sèemed to indi
if bus^ waS, e they e qSfckened^toemTteSs! anïirîlli
not long before they saw a gleam of broad* clear light
bcfor ? them > such as is reflected from calm waters
K ven in ., tlie darkest night. They moved up to it with
re-!breaats; I?ee * her6 Vanous cmo,lons m the,r
l 'ie principal objects of which were already
the others were anxious lest some acxident might have
crossing'thestrearn 11 °" WhlCh depeDded tot
When th ram( ,' t0 tI)e bank tW wcre n0 trac( .„
of a boat
for à moment in dismay; but, recollecting himself, he
said lt was P os siblc it might have been secured lower
' and » *® r R ctt,n 8' ever y thing else, he
giving a pistol to toe othe'r^he^hisperS^if the*rebel
officer attempts to betray us, shoot him*; if not, you
will not » for y? or own sake, make any noise to show
wbc ^ c we aT *** In thc . 8ani ® instant they departed
an H ?? 8 f c a ° ne an *
and noWdoubt^werTchanged into certainty at imce!
Dark as it was, it seemed as if five flashed from his
eye, now he felt that revenge was irvhis power. Lee
was as bravc a8 any officer in the army but he was
"in'moïe powerful WhilfTe^tS
what to do, the fellow seemed enjoying the prospect
of revenge, as he 1 poked upon him with a steady eye.
Though the officer stood to appearance unmoved, the
resohitioT^dT^ra^iip^hS* adversartr
w ith thc intention of wresting the pistol from his hand;
but toe other was upon his guard, and aimed with such
precision, that, had the pistol been charged with
" SÄ"™'«nd IXhad^Sedto thé sight
„fhis weapons to render the use of them unnecessary,
and had therefore loaded them only with powder; as
it was, the shock threw Lee to the ground; but fortir
and wak
drawing his knife from his bosom, Lee was able to give
j,hn a stunning blow. He immediately threw himself
upon the assasin, and a long and bloody struggle began;
they were so nearly matched in strength and advantage,
and the com bat would probably have ended in favor of
the assassin, when steps and voices were heard advan
cing, and they found themselves in the hands of a
ald'w'Sring 7hT bÄf the"
Th ' were f orc ibly tom apart, but so exhausted
andbrcatolcss,that ncithercouldmakeanyexpîana
tion, and they submitted quietly to the disposal of thetf
I he party of armed countrymen, though they had
termine how to dispose ot their prisoners. After some
discussion, one of them proposed to throw the decision
: upon the wisdom of the nearest magistrate. They ac
jattend to business _ a window was hastily thrown up,
and the justice put forth his night-capped head, and,
with more wrath than became his dignity, ordered
place which t £® n occurr ' d to his imagination. How
everi resistance was vain; he was compelled to rise;
and, as soon as the prisoners were brought before him,
^ o , d P ntleman as ide,and told him who he was,
and w hy he was thus disguised; the justice only inter*
rupted him with the occasional inquiry, 'most done?*
" ,. y ar 7 di mbie tohis address, and that he should give
it a fi t h c weight which it seemed to require. AllLce*8
remonstrances were unavailing.
As soon as they were fairly lodged in prison, LeU
prevailed on the jailor to carry a note to Gen. Lincoln,
ofhU CTaffitiom mo ^ n ® e " r d a î
ately gent one of his aidsto the jail. That officer could
not believe his eyes when he saw Captain Lee. His
uniform, worn out when he assumed it, was now hang
ing in rags about him, and he had not been shaved for
a fortnight; he wished, very naturally, to improve his
appeaI 4 ce bcfore pre8eD ting himseif before the See
re ^ ary War; but the orders were peremptory to
bring him as he was. The General loved a joke full
well; his laughter was hardly exceeded by thc report
of his cannon; and long and loud did hc laugh that
ay ' _ . _ ^ , . T
When Captain Lee returned to Lancaster, he im
mediately at £ mp t ed to retrace the ground; and so aeç
curate> under ad the favorable circumstances, had
been his investigation, that he brought to justice fifteen
persons, who had aided the escape of British pnson
ne b ishazardous and effectual service,-no reward whatevk
er.—^V*. B. Mtotnintfar Srptembrr.
s hoping for an opportunity to
enterprise which was growing too serious, and
the waters. Their conductor stood still

xml | txt