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Prescott and his companions in arms, will the eye of history beam. The military annals of the world rarely furnish an achievement which equals the firmness and courage displayed on that proud day by the gallant band of Americans; and it certainly stands first in the brilliant events of the war."
PUTNAM, ISRAEL, a major-general in the army of the United States, was born at Salem, Massachusetts, January 7, 1718. His mind: was vigorous, but it was never cultivated by education. When he for the first time went to Boston, he was insulted for his rusticity by a boy of twice his size. After bearing his sarcasms until his good nature was entirely exhausted, he attacked and vanquished the unmannerly fellow, to the great diversion of a crowd of spectators. In running, leaping, and wrestling, he almost always bore away the prize. In 1739, he removed to Pomfret, in Connecticut, where he cultivated a consideral·le tract of land. He had, how ever, to encounter many difficulties, and among his troubles, the depredations of wolves on his sheep-fold was not the least. In one night seventy fine sheep and goats were killed. A she wolf, who, with her annual whelps, had for several years infested the vicinity, being considered as the principal cause of the havoc, Mr. Putnam entered into a combination with a number of his neighbours to hunt alternately, till they should destroy her. At length the hounds drove her into her den, and a number of persons soon collected with guns, straw, fire, and sulphur, to attack the common enemy. But the dogs were afraid to approach her, and the fumes of brimstone could not force her from the cavern. It was now ten o'clock at night. Mr. Putnam proposed to his black servant to descend into the cave, and shoot the wolf; but, as the negro declined, he resolved to do it himself. Hav ing divested himself of his coat and waistcoat, and have ing a long rope fastened round his legs, by which he might be pulled back at a concerted signal, he entered
the cavern, head foremost, with a blazing torch, mado of strips of birch bark, in his hand. He descended fifteen feet, passed along horizontally ten feet, and then began the gradual ascent, which is sixteen feet in length. He slowly proceeded on his hands and knees, in an abode which was silent as the house of death. Cautiously glancing forwards, he discovered the glaring eye-balls of the wolf, who started at the sight of his torch, gnashed her teeth, and gave a sullen growl. He immediately kicked the rope, and was drawn out with a friendly celerity and violence, which not a little bruised him. Loading his gun with nine buck shot, and carrying it in one hand, while he held the torch with the other, he descended a second time. As he approached the wolf, she howled, rolled her eyes, snapped her teeth, dropped her head between her legs, and was evidently on the point of springing at him. At this moment he fired at her head, and soon found himself drawn out of the cave. Having refreshed himself, he again descended, and seizing the wolf by her cars, kicked the rope, and his companions above, with no small exultation, dragged them both out together.
During the French war he was appointed to command, a company of the first troops which were raised in Connecticut, in 1755. He rendered much service to the army in the neighbourhood of Crown Point. In 1756, while near Ticonderoga, he was repeatedly in the most imminent danger. He escaped in an adventure of one night with twelve bullet-holes in his blanket. In August he was sent out with several hundred men to watch the motions of the enemy. Being ambuscaded by a party of equal numbers, a general, but irregular action took place. Putnam had discharged his fusee several times, but at length it missed fire while its muzzle was presented to the breast of a savage. The warrior with his lifted hatchet, and a tremendous war-whoop, compelled him to surrender, and then bound him to a tree. In the course of the action the parties changed their position; so as to bring this tree directly between them. The balls flew by him incessantly; many struck the tree, and some passed through his clothes. The enemy now gained possession of the ground, but being afterwards driven from
the field, they carried their prisoners with them. At night he was stripped, and a fire was kindled to roast him alive. For this purpose they led him into a dark forest, stripped him naked, bound him to a tree, and piled dry brush, with other fuel, at a small distance, in å circle round him. They accompanied their labours, as if for his funeral dirge, with screams and sounds, inimitable but by savage voices. They then set the piles on fire. A sudden shower damped the rising flame. Still they strove. to kindle it; at last the blaze ran fiercely round the circle. Major Putnam soon began to feel the scorching heat. His hands were so tied that he could move his body. He often shisted sides as the fire ap. proached. This sight, at the very idea of which, all but savages must shudder, afforded the highest diversion to his inhuman tormentors, who demonstrated the delirium of their joy by correspondent yells, dances, and gesticulations. He saw clearly that his final hour was inevitably come. He summoned all his resolution, and composed his mind, so far as the circumstances could admit, to bid an eternal farewell to all he held most dear. To quit the world would scarcely have cost him a single pang; but for the idea of home, but for the remembrance of domestic endearments, of the affectionate partner of his soul, and of their beloved offspring. His thought was ultimately fixed on a happier state of existence, beyond the tortures he was beginning to endure. The bitterness of death, even of that death which is accompanied with the keenest agonies, was, in a manner, past: naturc, with a feeble struggle, was quitting its last hold on sublunary things, when a French oficer rushed through the crowd, opened a way by scattering the burning brands; and unbound the victim. It was Molang himself, to whom a savage, unwilling to see another human victim immolated, had run and communicated the tidings. That commandant spurned and severely reprimanded the barbarians, whose nocturnal powwas and hellish orgies he suddenly ended. Putnam did not want for feeling or gratitude. The French commander, fearing to trust him alone with them, remained till he could safely deliver bim into the hands of his master.
The savage approached his prisoner kindly, and seem. ed to treat him with particular affection. He offered him some hard biscuit; but finding that he could not chew them on account of the blow he had received from the Frenchman, this more humane savage soaked some of the biscuit in water, and made him suck the pulp-libe part. Determined, however, not to lose his captive, the refreshment being finished, he took the moccasins from his feet, and tied them to one of his wrists; then directing him to lie down on his back on the bare ground, he stretched one arın to its full length, and bound it fast to a young tree; the other arm was extended and bound in the same manner: his legs were stretched apart, and fastened to two sapplings. Then a number of tall, but slender poles were cut down, which, with some long bushes, were laid across his body from head to foot : on each side lay as many Indians as could conveniently find lodging, in order to prevent the possibility of his escape. In this disagreeable and painful posture he remained till morning. During the night, the longest and most dreary conceivable, our hero used to relate that he felt a ray of cheerfulness come casually across his mind, and could not even refrain frum smiling when he reflected on this ludicrous group for a painter, of which he himself was the principal figure.
The next day he was allowed his blanket and moccasins, and permitted to march without carrying any pack, or receiving any insult. To allay his extreme hunger, a little bear's meat was given, which he sucked through his teeth. At night the party arrived at Ticonderoga, and the prisoner was placed under the care of a French guard.
The savages, who had been prevented from glutting their diabolical thirst for blood, took this opportunity of manifesting their malevolence for the disappointment, by horrid grimaces and angry gestures; but they were suffered no more to offer violence or personal indignity to him.
After having been examined by the marquis de Montcalm, major Putnam was conducted to Montreal by a French officer, who treated him with the greatest indulgence and humanity.
At this place were several prisoners. Colonel Peter - Schuyler, remarkable for his philanthropy, generosity
and friendship, was of the number. No sooner had he heard of major Putnam's arrival, than he went to the · interpreter's quarters, and inquired whether he had a provincial major in his custody. He found major Putnam in a comfortless condition, without coat, waistcoat, or hose; the remnant of his clothing miserably dirty and ragged, his heard long and squalid, his legs torn by thorns and briers, his face gashed with wounds, and swollen with bruises. Colonel Schuyler, irritated beyond all sufferance at such a sight, could scarcely restrain his speech within limits, consistent with the prudence of a prisoner, and the meekness of a Christian. Major Putnam was immediately treated according to his rank, clothed in a decent manner, and supplied with money by this liberal and sympathetic patron of the distressed; and by his assistance be was soon after exchanged.
When general Amherst was marching across the country to Canada, the army coming to one of the lakes, which they were obliged to pass, found the French had an armed vessel of twelve guns upon it. He was in great distress, his boats were no match for her, and she alone was capable of sinking his whole army in that situation. While he was pondering what should be done, Putnam comes to him, and says, “General, that ship must be taken. “ Ay,” says Amherst, “I would give the world she. was taken."
“ I'll take her," says Putnam. Amherst smiled, and asked how ?" Give me some wedges, a beetle, (a large wooden hammer, or maul, used for driving wedges,) and a few men of my own choice." Amherst could not conceive how an armed vessel was to be taken by four or five men, a beetle and wedges. However, he granted Putnam's request. When night came, Putnam, with his materials and men, went in a boat under the vessel's stern, and in an instant drove in the wedges between the rudder and ship, and left her.
In the morn. ing, the sails were seen fluttering about: she was adrift in the middle of the lake; and being presently blown ashore, was easily taken.
At the commencement of hostilities between the colo nies and the mother country, colonel Putnam, on héaring of the battle at Lexington, left his plough in the