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A SCRAP OF AMERICAN HISTORY.
Many of the bold and daring feats of the “times that tried men's souls,” have escaped the historian's pen, and are only known to the relatives and acquaintances of those who were the acting heroes of many thrilling adventures and daring deeds. As they fall by the ruthless hand of death, the corroding tooth of time robs their history of its richest features, and but a faint tribute is paid to their merits by after generations.
The animated countenance, the strong emotion, the trembling voice, the bending frame, the furrowed cheek, the heaving bosom, the silent tear, of an old soldier ; impart an interest to his story that no pen can portray, no eloquence imitate. His adventures, his toils, his sufferings, his hair-breadth escapes, his struggles for victory and liberty; are all indelibly imprinted on his mind, and are ever fresh in his recollection. His patriotic feelings expire only with life ; his soul is enraptured with the same enthusiasm, that impelled the heroes of '76 to break the chains of slavery, and drive from our country the last vestige of kingly power. His memory is on the wing, and runs back, with lightning quickness, and grasps the scenes of the Revolution, as if they had occurred but yesterday. His relation of “ battles fought and victories won," is enlivened by the fascinating charms of a pure original, producing an impression upon his listeners, more chaste and enchanting, than can be imparted by the ablest pen, or most finished eulogist.
Among the veterans of the American Revolution were two noble and brave spirits, whose thrilling stories were deeply impressed on my mind when a boy. Unconnected with the army, called to protect the new settlements in a confined interior, their names were not entered upon the public roll, and have not appeared upon the historic page. Their services and fame were known, and highly appreciated by those around them, and their memories are still held in high veneration in my native neighborhood, where their bones lie, beneath the clods of the valley.
Their names were Harper and Murphy, the latter an Irishman. They were among the pioneers who settled at the head of the Delaware river, which rises from a fountain of pure water, called by the Indians, lake Utstayantho. Around this lake is a small valley, then the central rendezvous of the savage tribes, whose walks extended from the Mohawk in the north, far down the Delaware, Lackawaxen, Lackawana, and the Susquehanna, in the south. It was an isolated spot, surrounded by mountains and hills ; covered with lofty pines, and a variety of evergreens. Its scenery was romantic and beautiful; formed by nature for a retreat, such as the rude children of the forest suppose the Great Spirit delights to dwell in.
For years, perhaps for centuries, the lords of the forest built their council fires in the amphitheatre of Utstayantho. There they manufactured their stone pots, their flint arrow points, and their bows. There they smoked the pipe of peace, performed the terrific war dance, and tortured their unfortunate prisoners. There they saluted the white man as brother, and murdered him as a foe. There, many of their boldest war
riors fell, beneath the avenging hand of the enraged inhabitants. There, I first drew my vital breath, there I grew to manhood, there I have ploughed up the bones of those who were slightly buried; and there I have often listened to the tale that follows.
At the commencement of the American Revolution, the Indian tribes in that section of country, were influenced by two tories, Brandt and McDonald, to enlist in favor of the British. Their tomahawks and scalping knives were soon bathed in the blood of mothers and babes, as well as in that of husbands and fathers. In the spring of 77, they murdered several families, and took a number of prisoners. Among the latter, were Harper and Murphy. As these were the leading men of the settlement, it was decided to take them down the Delaware about sixty miles, to an Indian station, then called Aquago, now Deposit. They were put in charge of eleven warriors, who started with their victims, pinioned and bound. The second night, fatigued with their march, they all laid down before a fire, and the savages were soon soundly asleep. A supply of rum during the day, and a hearty drink as they stretched themselves out to sleep, rendered their stupor more complete than it otherwise would have been. This opportunity could not pass unimproved by such men as Harper and Murphy. Although closely wedged between the Indians, they rose so cautiously as not to awake them. They soon relieved each other from the bark thongs with which their arms were bound, and hesitated, for a moment, whether to flee, or attempt to despatch the cruel foes. They quickly decided upon the latter ; removed the arms to some distance, and, with tomahawk in hand, commenced the fearful work. Each
blow was sure and deep-a messenger of death. So profound was their sleep, and so rapid the work of blood, that eight of the savages were killed, before the other three awoke. They attempted to rise to their feet, but two of them met the deadly blow of the two champions, and fell beneath their own weapons. The other escaped, and fled to Aquago, to tell the sad news. The two heroes then took each a gun and all the ammunition, secreted the other guns, and with some parched corn and dried venison, guided by the polar star, commenced their journey back, keeping near the river until daylight, when they took the ridge to avoid meeting Indians, and in the evening reached a small settlement, within ten miles of their home. They were met with joy unspeakable, as the news of their capture had already reached this point; and with almost as much surprise, as if they had risen from the dead.
When taken, they were in the woods, manufacturing maple sugar, and knew not that their families had fallen beneath the savage hand. Imagine, you who are husbands and fathers, the bitter anguish of their souls, when informed, that their wives and children had been butchered, by a party led on by the bloody Brandt.
The next day, the most of the men left the blockhouse, and escorted them home, there to behold a scene, too awful for reflection, too horrible for description, too painful for humanity. Murphy had two children, one two years old, the other three months. The eldest had apparently fled under the bed, and had been pulled out far enough to be tomahawked and scalped, and then left. The mother, a beautiful woman of about twentytwo, seemed not to have attempted an escape, as her hands and arms were much cut, and her body in the
back part of the room. She had received three blows in the head with the tomahawk, one of which penetrated the brain. Her cranium was literally bare, that her fine head of hairs might be all saved. Across her lifeless body lay ber lovely babe, smiling in death. It had been finished by a single blow, and was not mutilated. Low murmuring execrations were whispered, the tears of sympathy flowed from all but Murphy; he stood silent, with dry and glaring eyes, immovably fixed on the wife of his youth, and the pledges of their love. Dark and dreadful was the storm that gathered in his convulsed bosom. At length he took his murdered infant in his arms, and, with a high and desperate resolve, swore to be revenged or die, and sealed the vow with a kiss upon the cold cheek of the little innocent. How fearfully his vengeance was poured out upon the red man, the sequel will tell.
A rude grave was then prepared, lined with bark, in place of a coffin, and the mournful duties of sepulture closed the bloody scene. The children were placed in the arms of their mother, upon the bosom that had so often nourished them. To this day, that grave is moistened with the tears of visitors, who have been informed of their tragic end.
They then proceeded to the dwelling of Mr. Harper, and found it empty. His wife was an amiable young lady, only nineteen years of age, with an infant at her breast. She had attempted to escape to the woods, and was overtaken a few rods from the house, where she and her babe had been massacred, and their bodies had subsequently been torn to pieces by wolves, or some carnivorous animal. This spectacle was more heart-rending than the other. The husband wrung his