« PreviousContinue »
savages, in a few moments, were all locked in the embrace of death. The captain, and four of his men were wounded, but not dangerously. This tragedy was closed about one o'clock in the morning. After dressing the wounded in the best manner they could, they took some refreshment and rest, and the second day after, they reached home, laden with the arms and ammunition of their conquered foes.
These two successful expeditions convinced the settlers, that Captain Harper was the proper man to command, and enrolled themselves under his banner, and organized themselves into a guerilla corps for mutual defence. During the whole time of the revolutionary struggle, the operations of this company were confined to that section of country, which accounts for the omission of their deeds of noble daring, upon the pages of history.
Exasperated at their misfortunes, the fiendish Brandt collected about three hundred savage warriors, and made a descent on the fort in Schoharie. It was too well fortified to be taken by this force, but had not men enough to make a sally. Learning their situation, Captain Harper disguised himself, mounted a horse, and started for Albany to obtain aid. He passed through the midst of the enemy, as a tory named Rose. In the evening, he stopped at a public house for refreshment, where were several men, whose actions were rather suspicious. He went into another room and locked the door. Shortly after, four tories, one of whom had recognised him, demanded entrance. He cocked his pistols, drew his sword, opened the door, and inquired their business. When informed they wished him, he coolly remarked, “ Pass that door, and you are dead
He received no farther molestation at the house, but was fired at, soon after he resumed his journey, but was not injured.
On his arrival at head quarters, the commander despatched a squadron of mounted men, who rode all night. The first intimation received in the fort, of any assistance, was a furious attack on the enemy by the cavalry, just as the day dawned. The troops in the garrison immediately made a sally—the route was complete, the slaughter of the Indians dreadful, many of them plunging into the stream, reddening its waters with blood. At the first onset, Brandt and M.Donald fled and escaped.
Captain Harper remained, a vigilant, bold, discreet, and active commander of the settlers, during the remainder of the Revolution, and subsequently received a large tract of land from government, as a reward for his valuable services. He enjoyed the esteem and respect of a large circle of friends and acquaintances, to the day of his death. Harpersfield is a township at the head of the Delaware river, so called, as a mark of respect for this worthy, good, and honest
Harpersfield, in the Western Reserve, or New Connecticut, Ohio, was located by his descendants and neighbors, and is named after him.
Let us now return to the enraged and revenging Murphy. From the time of the battle of Utstayantho, he commenced fighting on his own hook. His thirst for vengeance knew no bounds. He was a man of great muscular power, near six feet in height, of an iron constitution, and swifter on foot, than any one who ever pursued him. He obtained a double barrelled rifle of the very best kind; carried the tomahawk and
scalping knife he took on the night he and Captain Harper killed the ten Indians, and could use them all, with as much skill as a Mohawk. He soon became a terror to the red men. His many miraculous escapes and bold exploits, led them to believe he was protected by the Great Spirit. He hovered around them like a vulture-many of their braves fell beneath his brawny
He spent the most of his time alone in the woods, seeking his hated foe. He never hesitated attacking a party of three Indians, and not unfrequently despatched the whole. His courage was as cool, as his revenge was direful. Such was Murphy—a revenging foe of the red man, with a warm heart for his friends.
The next day after the battle at the lake, he prepared himself, and pursued the party of Indians that retreated down the Delaware. On the second night, he came in sight of their encampment, and, by the light of the fire, could count twenty-seven warriors, some of whom were evidently wounded. He determined to wait until all was quiet, and make their number less by one. This he effected about midnight, and retreated without being pursued, as the night was quite dark. He followed this party until he despatched six of their number, when he returned to his friends, who received him with glad hearts, fearing he had fallen into the hands of the butchering foe. They entreated him to desist from such exposure to danger, but all in vain. He rested under an oath, and most fearfully did he fulfil it. He desired no angel's tear to blot it from the record. He held his life in his hand, but put upon it a high price.
He replenished his knapsack, and started for the hills bordering on the Mohawk river. The second day,
he arrived at a settlement of whites, who were greatly distressed at the loss of one of their number a few hours before. Early in the morning, a young lady had ventured outside the block-house to milk a cow, when four savages suddenly sprung upon her, and dragged her into the woods. Her cries were heard, her frantic friends could see her struggle, but durst not venture out, as all the men who were able, had left a few days before, for the northern army, among whom was her father, two brothers, and a young officer, to whom she was engaged to be married in a short time. Her mother was overwhelmed with grief, and gave up her child as lost. She fancied her expiring beneath the ruthless hand of the barbarians, perhaps writhing under the agonies of a slow fire, surrounded by demons in human shape, drowning her cries with their savage yells.
No Irish heart beat higher or warmer for woman, than did that of Murphy. Like a knight of chivalry, he started in pursuit. It was then ten o'clock; four hours had elapsed since the capture. He soon found the trail, and advanced rapidly. About five o'clock, when on the top of a bold hill, he discovered the party in the valley below. The fair captive was still alive, but expected that night would close her career for ever. Her anticipated happiness had faded away; she believed an awful fate was about to seal her doom; she had said in her heart; farewell father, mother, brothers, lover, friends; resigned herself to God, and became abstracted from the world. The images of her fond parents, her dear brothers, and him, with whose soul her's had sweetly mingled; all passed in review before her imagination; she could only hope to meet them in heaven.
The encampment for the night was soon arranged by
the red men, during which, Murphy approached as near as prudence would admit, before the mantle of night should cover him; determined, that if they attempted any violence to the young lady, he would immediately rush upon them. With an eagle eye, he watched every motion. They built a large fire, prepared their last supper, and about ten o'clock, tied the hands and feet of their prisoner to two poles, and were soon in a profound sleep. For a few minutes, she struggled, but found she was unable to extricate herself. Her bosom heaved with sighs, her eyes rolled wildly round, she seemed already on the torturing rack. Our knight was so near, he could see all this by the light of the fire. It was too much for him to endure. He drew his knife from its scabbard, and advanced, with still and cautious step. He was soon discovered by the young lady, and motioned her to keep silence. He unbound and removed her, and the guns of the savages, a few rods off, enjoining hes to keep quiet, and, if he became overpowered, to flee for her life ; for he had determined to kill his hated foes, or perish in the attempt. With his tomahawk in one hand, and his knife in the other, he returned. Waiting a few minutes, for their sleep to become more sound, he approached their muscular frames. He plunged his knife into the hearts of three—the fourth awoke, and as he rose, aimed a blow at Murphy with his tomahawk, which was parried, and the head of the savage cleft to the brain. As the Indian rose, the heroic girl, intead of making her escape, siezed a gun, and rushed to the aid of her deliverer. But the work was done, and the heroic knight stood contemplating, with a species of maniac delight, the quivering bodies, expiring in the agonies of death.