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HUMOROUS AND SATIRICAL.
1. CELEBRATION OF THE FOURTH OF JULY AT HOME,
BY AN OLD SOLDIER.
[New-Hampshire Patriot. Concord.]
WHILE Various parts of these United States are bursting forth in orations, songs, and toasts, in commemoration of that day, which gave birth to our republic; while hills and dales echo with shouts of joy and acclamations of triumph for our deliverance from the shackles of foreign despots; permit an old revolutionary soldier, through the medium of your paper, to talk a little about himself, "to fight his battles o'er again," and "shoulder his crutch, and show how fields are won.' You must know, I am no scholar; I am not gifted in the set forms of speech now in fashion; but I talk right on, just as the spirit (I mean the spirit of '76) gives me utterance. I did, indeed, once set out to become a scholar; acquired a smattering of Latin, and almost conquered the Greek alphabet. At any rate, I carried the outworks, and captured the front and rear guards, alpha and omega, and do verily believe, that had it not been for the breaking out of the revolution, I might have mustered knowledge enough, so that I should have done very well to have been made over into a pettifogger, a pedagogue, or a quack-doctor. What I might have made, had I not entered the army, the Lord only knows; but I have ever been of the opinion, that I was not born to move in that humble station, in which my evil stars have placed me.
But this is all nothing: and why should I care, so long as I have one of the best poets in the world on my side, who says,
"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
You see, sirs, I have read a little, and have got a good memory, and that makes me believe I might have made a scholar, had I not gone off at half bent and mis-fired, from which unlucky accident I have never yet fully recovered. In short, I am nothing but a poor lame soldier and a pensioner, thank God and my country; and this is much better than nothing. General St. Clair, and I, have had a hard day of it, thank fortune; he has got a discharge and gone home; he lived in the woods and died in the woods; he lived poor and died poor: and 1, thank heaven, am just like him, except that I never commanded an army. But alas! from my rambling, I find, as Dr. Franklin says, that I am growing old. I did, indeed, intend to say something considerable about the wars, and what General Washington and I suffered through a seven years' tug; but I am apt to stray from the ground, and I find I cannot keep my eye steadily on the gun as I used to do. I think, however, I shall be justified in the opinion of the world, if in talking of my self, I should boast and swagger a little, and, as they used to say in the army, let off a gun now and then; for, if I do not mistake, I have heard it said that Cicero, or some such true American, who lived a long while before the dark ages, used to say, that old men, and especially old revolutionary soldiers, have a sort of right and privilege given them to talk about themselves, and to say almost what they please--more especially, if they had been good soldiers and had served during the
To come to the point, then, I am now sixty-nine years old, and though I say it, have seen as much service and as hard fortune as any man of my years. I began my military career with the battle of Bunker-Hill: and a hard fought battle it was, as any one could wish to see : but I have this consolation; I know full well, that I brought down a British grenadier at the distance of
twenty yards, and laid him sprawling on the ground. This, I say, was some comfort to me; for before I peppered him, I plainly saw him pick off three Yankee boys in succession. In this act, he discovered the coward, for he concealed himself behind a large tree, and as opportunity presented, he peeped out and took off his man, as a fox would take hens from the roost. Heaven protect me! I never felt a thirst for blood until this moment; and I was resolved to lay him low. I made two shots at him, which proved ineffectual, because the time of his appearance from behind the tree was rather too short for me to take deliberate aim. But the third time, ah! beware of the third time-I tumbled him over, for I took aim in season, not at the man himself, but at the place of his appearance, and so soon as he presented, I pulled, and he fell! I cannot tell what you call it; but just at that moment, I felt a sort of check at my heart, as though I had shed human blood; but it was all gone, as soon as I recollected that this fellow had come three thousand miles to destroy my kindred and friends. heaven! this was a day of blood and hard fighting! It was a day which the Britons have remembered with sorrow; "for many a gallant gentleman lay gasping on the ground." You must know, that I was not exactly satisfied with this bout at the English; so you see, I turned out under General Stark, and a proper hard-headed, cock-pistol fellow he was, as ever drew a ramrod. He was precisely of our sort, and, some how, just the soldier's man; for he would at proper times laugh and jest with them; but, you see, at other times, when the word came, they must mind their cue. I fought under him at the battle of Bennington, and a glorious fight it was. You may think strange, but I then served as a corporal and stood in the front rank, so that I saw and heard every thing. The old general, as be rode through, made a most glorious speech. I shall remember it as long as I can cock a gun, for he delivered it just as he passed me, and it was this: "Boys, mind your cuethere is the enemy-and we conquer, or Molly Stark sleeps a widow this night." Good heavens! I felt, I cannot tell how; but I think your college fellows call it
a sort of voluntary act or motion; for just at that instant I put my thumb upon the cock of my gun, and my forefinger upon the trigger; It was well I did not pull, if I had, in all probability some one would have had daylight let through him. And now, at it we went, firing right into each other's faces. I got a new heart as it were, for so soon as I began to fire, away went trembling and fear. It was a glorious day; the cannon roared like lightning, and the guns flashed as though the heavens and earth were coming together; and the smoke, too, oh! what columns of smoke! it seemed like darkness made thick! so you see, I kept loading and firing, loading and firing, until, for the want of lead, I fired my ramrod, but which way it went, or what it did, I neither knew nor cared, for the enemy now began to break and run, and we followed them up with Yankee Doodle. However, just at this moment, up comes another detachment of Hessians; (I was always of the opinion these Dutchmen would have been better off at home ;) so, you see, we had to go to loggerheads with them too; for we had by this time got a kind of knack at fighting, and so did their business for them in a hurry, and they were in a prodigious hurry to get out of our way.
I don't know how it was, but after this, I got such a notion of fighting, that I wanted to keep at it all the time. So, after the surrender of Burgoyne, (by the way, that was a delightful battle) I went to the southward, and enlisted during the war as a rifleman under Morgan; I tell you what, these riflemen are a dangerous set of fellows, you may depend on it. Why, I have seen the time when I should not have been the least afraid to have laid down a twenty dollar continental bill against the same amount of farmer's exchange, that I could have taken the sight from a sparrow's eye at the distance of ten yards; and in fact, we riflemen used to shoot so accurately, and kill so dead, that one eye of the enemy has been found shut and the other open, precisely in the act of taking aim; and the reason of this, I suppose was that the space from time to eternity was so short that they had no opportunity to shut or open an eye. Now, lest any one should doubt this fact, and set it down for
a large story, he may satisfy himself of the truth of it, by just looking into Gordon's history of the revolution.
And now, to conclude, you must know that I kept fighting, and kept on fighting, until I fought my way through the war, and got an honourable discharge under Washington's own hand, and this but few, at this day, can boast of. By the way, I had almost forgotten to inform you, that, at the capture of Cornwallis, the enemy handled their guns so very careless, that they tucked a rifle ball into my hip, which careless trick made me a cripple for life; aye, and a pensioner too, thank fortune; so you see, I did not get wounded for nothing. Well, at the close of the war, I retired into the back settlements, purchased fifty acres of wild land, and got me a wife; for, you know, that men will always encumber themselves with wives, rich or poor, sick or well. But alas! my campaign through life has been a sore one. I proved lame, and my wife proved sickly-she brought me an only daughter, and to sum up my misery, she proved to be an old maid. But this is not all; my wife lost an eye by the sting of a hornet, and my daughter a kneejoint, from the kick of a horse. So you see, we have the blind, the halt, and the maimed. But, blessed be God, I live in a free country and under a good government, and so my lot is not half so hard as it might have been; because, you see, on the back of all my other misfortunes, might have been a slave, and that would have doubled the dose. I have always rejoiced at the return of every anniversary of American Independence, and have never failed to make myself joyful on that day with others. But alas! all our joys and all our sorrows must have an end. On the forty-seventh anniversary of American liberty, I found I had grown too old and too poor, to seek amusement abroad; and also, that I was of too little consequence in this world, for any one to seek me. For, like general St. Clair, I live in the woods and expect to die in the woods. But no matter, I was determined not to be kicked out of the world, nor cheated out of my joy, for I like to see the lamp of life keep burning; and so I was resolved to celebrate the day at home, in some fashion or other. I accordingly notified