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When I had descended the steps to the edge of the water, the master and crew of the vessel advised me not to venture, saying that I would be drowned and offered to carry my apples and self over the river in their boat. This offer I rejected, being perhaps a little vain of my abilities as a swimmer. But if I was a little proud of my performances, I possessed something worth being proud of, for no man I ever met with could out go me in swimming. It seemed to me that I could walk (tread) in the water, as long and as far as it might please ine, and could swim upon my back any distance I chose to swim to.
Notwithstanding the generous' offer made to me by the crew, I dashed off into the water in fine spirits, and swam off with my load and had succeeded in reaching better than half way across the river. I do not recollect the width of the river at West Point, but suppose I had swam fully half a mile. All at once a monster of a Sturgeon jumped up out of the water very near to me, and making a great splashing and noise about me at the same time. Being frightened at this moment, thinking it might be a Shark, “ I began to pull away for life.” This swimming in so hurried and hard a manner caused me to let water into my throat, which strangled me very much, and I began to sink. But as a kind Providence would have it, the tide was out at the time, and when I began to sink, I found bottom with my feet. This so encouraged me at the moment that my strength renewed itself, and by making a powerful effort I succeeded in reaching the land and my comrades in safety with my apples. As is with the jacktar in a storm, it was with me then. This made a deep impression for the moment, but I suppose it was soon lost (as are their impressions in a calm over a flowing cann) in making our eager repast-that of feasting upon my cargo of mel-. low and delicious apples. The ship's crew cheered tremendously when they saw me reach the shore in safety.
The musicians had a certain duty besides camp duty to perform daily. Sometimes once each day and somet times iwice, we had to repair with the Drum and Fife Majors to a short distance from the camp and practice in playing on the Fife and in bcating on the Drum. The Fife Major taught the Fifers and the Drum Major the Drummers. There were, however, grown musicians that had not to attend these musical drills. Some of them though accompanied us, and assisted the Drum and Fife Majors in teaching. There was one of this class, a Fifer named Brown, who was a British deserter. He was a capital Fifer. Brown frequently assisted the Fife Major in his duties of teaching.
When I lived in Wormelsdorf, Pa., after the Revolution and previous to the Whiskey Insurrection, Brown passed through there as an enlisted soldier in a company of regulars, which was bound westward in its march to join General Wayne's army in its expeditions against the Indians down ihe Ohio river.
When this duty of practising upon the Fife and Druin was ended (it being done early in the forenoon in general, or else late in the afternoon) we were then at liberty generally to amuse ourselves by strolling out in different directions and for various purposes. Oftentimes we made up companies and went to the river to bathe, or to fight a sham battle in the river. There was a large round rock (flat upon the top) in the Hudson river, and which stood within 30 or 40 yards of the shore. It was quite a perpendicular rock at the sides. When the tide was out it was generally bare for the most part. Sometimes when the tide was not very high, a foot or so of some parts of its surface would show itself above the water. We called this our Fort. We musicians and others of the younger soldiers would often make up companies, appoint our Captains and other officers, and repair to this rock to have sport in taking and retaking this Fort from each other. I being among the · best of the swimmers, was always chosen to belong to
that company which was to act the part of the besiegers. We made large balls of grass by twisting it, and winding it like yarn into a ball. One party would take pos
session of it, and the men of the other party would swim up as a squadron abreast, and endeavor to take it by storm. When we caine near, our bombardment and a general action took place. We would "pelt” those upon the rock with our grass balls, whilst they in return would pelt us. If we could succeed in getting upon the rock we would grapple with its possessors and defenders, and succeeded often in pushing them off from the top of the Fort. Sometimes when “clinched” thus, several pairs would plunge over its sides into the water together. When this happened to be the case, all knew their duty to themselves and to each other, and would instantly relinquish their holds one upon the other. If a number succeeded in reaching the top of the rock, all those upon it would often (after consuming their ammunition) jump off into the water. Which done, the besiegers became the besieged in turn, and the besieged (that was) became the besiegers. This mode of warfare afforded us much good sport. Sometimes we would dive from off its top. Other times we would stand on its edge and turn somersets into the water.
Owing to the hill rising very bluff and high from the shore, the water at this place was very deep. I recolleet in diving down along side of this rock, that its sides were perpendicular like to a wall of a house. Sometimes when we were there and in the midst of our pleasant sport, the “Orderly Drummer” at camp would beat up “the Drummer's Call;" each musician would (upon hearing the first tap of the drum) plunge into the water, swim swiftly to shore, and then be all splutter, for after picking up his clothes each would dress the best way he could as he ran for camp.
When the tide made strong to the shore it acted as conqueror in taking possession of our Fort, and would not perinit us to play upon its surface. At such a time its top would often be many feet under water. When this was the case, we recreated ourselves by performing in some other way. Hopping, jumping and running often afforded us plenty of amusement.
I remember when General Arnold was fired after, that I (with other musicians) was engaged in swimming in the Hudson river. Hearing the orderly? at camp beating up the Drummer's Call, we hurried our clothes on, dressing indeed as we ran, and made all the haste we possibly could until we reached the camp. Shortly after our arrival at camp, the “alarm guns” (cannon) were fired, and upon our hearing the third of which, we beat up "to arms,” “to arms." A history of Arnold's treason and the capture and execution of Andre, I shall now present to my readers.
As soon as the news of Arnold's treachery reached the Forts, alarm guns were fired. The first gun in cases of alarm is a token, and when the second gun is fired all are in readiness to hear the third fired. The fife and drum majors have their musicians in readiness, and the moment the third gun is fired, the musicians instantly strike or beat up the air or tune“ to arms," « to arms." In this case (at West Point) the second gun very soon followed the first, and the third sooner than the second. None in camp could imagine what it was—what such tremendous roaring of cannon could be indicative of. The largest cannon mounted in the fort was the one made choice of to vomit out execrations against Arnold and tories, and warnings to the three brigades lying at and near to West Point, as well also to others at a somewhat remote distance, but not so far as to be out of the hearing of that loud and faithful messenger.
The firing of three cannon so loud and so quick in succession caused a dreadful commotion in the whole line of extended camps. The musicians belonging to the whole army (myself included among the number) at the instant the third gun was fired, played and beat up the tune to arms, to arms, and in less than five minutes, the whole of the two or three brigades were in line and under arms, the field officers all mounted on horseback and at their posts awaiting the orders of the Commanding General, as also a knowledge of what had given rise to so hasty an alarm. We were not long, however,