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battle o' Brandywine, and makes a forced march to 'tack de enemy for ’trudin' on my premises and passin' my lines. I goes right into de hen-house arter de fox, 'tarmined to be skeered at no kind o' varmint whatsomeber, and pulled de door suddenly shet right arter me, and 'gan to 'noitre round about in de dark arter de white of de enemy's eye ; but no black fox dar as I could 'scover. Thinks I to myself, ole black fox, you's not gwine to uptrip me dis way, for I'se bound to spy you out some whar. So I cocks my musket and opens de door jes' 'bout wide nuff to let in some ob de compound and 'centrated 'gredient ob daylight, and den I’gan to 'noitre 'bout once more for de enemy. What in dis world do you think I next seed wid dese 'dentical eyes o’mine ? Wy, right in one corner ob de hen-house, jes right 'hind de door, dar lay de ole black fox, dead as a nit, wid de white ob his eye rolled over tudder siden his head ! I kotch him by de tail and gib him a mos' 'normous pull; but he made no answer 'tall whatsomeber. I nex' seized him chuck by the tail and toated him right outen de hen-house and frowed him down on de ground, so hard dat he went kersmolloc.
As I was standin' dar wonderin' how dis ole black fox come to his death, de ole rooster flew down from de roost, walked up towards de fox, as if spyin' round arter things, and said, Caw! caw! caw!
"I stood dar rejoicin' in dis heart o' mine, dat Mount Vernon was shet ob dis monster at las'.
He 'peared stiff ’nuff to be dead 'bout two, free days, and de temperyment ob de carcass ’peared to 'spress a 'gree ob cold 'bout two foot 'neath de zero, if de 'mometer was long 'nuff to say so.
I soon 'gan to feel right skeered, and 'magined I mus' be gazin' at de ghos' ob de ole fox. I 'flected and 'flected on de subjec, and cast my eyes round on de trees and on de ground, to see if I want dreamin'; and den I'gan to feel more and more skeered. I nex' started down to de spring to tell de old 'oman, for I swears I felt too weak from de fright to hollow for her, leavin' de dead carcas ob de old black fox stretched out on de ground, right 'fore de hen-house door. I walks down to de house, and sot my old musket down siden de
and starts off froo de bushes to de spring; but who you 'spose I meet, but the ole 'oman comin' to de house? Jes at dis pint, while I was about to tell de ole 'oman what's gwine on, I cast my eyes round to de hen-house and seed de old rooster standin' right in de door. I
nex' turned to try to tell de tale I was gwine to tell; and while I was 'splainin' to de ole 'oman, I turned my eye jes' slightly round agin, and what do you think dese 'stounded eyes o' mine seed ? Why, I seed dat same old dead black fox, riz from de dead, seize de ole rooster by de froat, swing him over his back at de fust toss, and run off wid him like de debil! I seize my old musket and let fly de ruin arter him, but never totched the fust hair ob his hide. Dis was de fust time I ever knowed dat dis crafty varmunt would ape de possum, by 'fecting to be dead. Soon as dat fox knowed I had sot down my ole musket ʼgin dat house, he comes to life jes like a sneak and stole my game chicken.”
“The domestic duties of Mount Vernon,” says Mr. Custis, of Arlington, “were governed by clock time. Now, the cook required that the fish should be forthcoming at a certain hour, so that they might be served smoking on the board precisely at three o'clock. He would repair to the river bank and make the accustomed signals; but, alas, there would be no response; the old fisherman was seen quietly reposing in his canoe, rocked by the gentle undulations of the stream, and dreaming, no doubt, of events long tinie ago. The unfortunate artiste of the culinary department, growing furious by delay, would now rush down to the water's edge, and, by dint of loud shouting, would cause the canoe to turn its prow to the shore. Father Jack, indignant at its being even supposed that he was asleep upon his post, would rate those present on his landing with "What you all meck sich a debil of a noise for, hey? I want sleepin', only noddin'.'
“We were accosted,” says Mr. Custis,“by an elderly stranger, who inquired if the General was to be found at the mansion house, or whether he had gone to visit his estate. We replied that he was abroad, and gave the stranger directions as to the route he must take; observing, at the same time, you will meet, sir, with an old gentleman, riding alone, in plain drab clothes, a broad-brimmed white hat, a hickory switch in his hand, and carrying an umbrella with a long staff, which is attached to his saddle-bow. That person, sir, is General Washington.”
This was the same Washington to whom the Indian Sachem talked as follows:
“I am a Chief, and the ruler of many tribes. My influence ex
tends to the waters of the great lakes, and to the far blue mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day when the white man's blood mixed with the streams of our forest, that I first beheld this chief. I called to my young men and said, mark yon tall and daring warrior. He is not of the red-coat tribe—he hath an Indian's wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do—himself is alone exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were leveled-rifles which, but for him, knew not how to miss—'twas all in vain; a power mightier far than we, shielded him from harm. He cannot die in battle. I am old, and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers, in the land of shades; but ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man and guides his destinies—he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire.”
“Let us repair to the old lady's room,” writes Mrs. Carrington of Mrs. Washington, “which is precisely in the style of our good old aunt's--that is to say, nicely fixed for all sorts of work. On one side sits the chambermaid, with her knitting; on the other, a little colored pet, learning to sew. An old decent woman is there, with her table and shears, cutting out the negroes' winter clothes; while the good old lady directs them all, incessantly knitting herself. She points out to me several pair of nice colored stockings and gloves she had just finished and presents me with a pair half done, which she begs I will finish and wear for her sake.”
The foregoing pages are descriptive of life and character at Mount Vernon in the latter years of Washington's life, when, on a beautiful day in the Spring of '97, the departing sun began to gild the lofty forest trees, which cast their long and well-defined shadows eastward over the magnificent lawn. Twilight soon came, and a golden sky smiled serenely, without an obscuring cloud, over the earthly tabernacle of the great American Chief. A warm breeze from the river invited groups of servants, skillful in melody, to the open air, and happy children chased each other around the peaceful mansion of the liberator. Smiling Spring had suddenly emerged from the chilly embrace of Winter, the moon looked down on the happy scene, and, in that hour, the “Battle of the Kegs,” to the air of “Yankee Doodle,” rode harmoniously on the breezes of the Potomac.
" Battle of the Kegs” in '78—Hopkinson's Poem-Sung at Mount
Vernon-Origin of Yankee Doodle-Nancy Dawson-Lydia Locket- Original Yankee Doodle Song-Surrender of Burgoyne— Yankee Doodle of '98-0. O. Pinckney in France—His short Speech—“Hail Columbia" obscured—Saul of TarsusWagon-loads for Sheriff"Old lig”Yankee Doodle of 1812 -Yankee Doodle Immortalized.
“Early in January, 1778, David Bushnell, the inventor of the American torpedo and other submarine machinery, prepared a num. ber of infernals, as the British termed them, and set them atloat in the Delaware river, a few miles above Philadelphia, in order to annoy the royal shipping, which at that time lay off that place. These machines were constructed of kegs, charged with powder, and so arranged as to explode on coming in contact with any thing while floating along with the tide. One of these kegs exploded near the city, and spread general alarm. Whenever one appeared, the British seamen and troops became alarmed, and, manning the shipping and wharves, discharged their small arms and cannon at every thing they could see floating in the river. Not a chip or a stick floated for twenty-four hours afterward that was not fired at by the British troops.
“The city," says a writer under date of January 9, 1778, "has been lately entertained with a most astonishing instance of the activity, bravery, and military skill of the royal navy of Great Britain. The affair is somewhat particular, and deserves your notice. Some time last week, two boys observed a keg, of singular construction, floating in the river opposite to the city. They got into a small boat, and in attempting to obtain the keg, it burst with a great explosion, and blew up the unfortunate boys. On Monday last, several kegs of a like construction made their appearance. An alarm was immediately spread through the city. Various reports prevailed, filling the city and royal troops with consternation.
Some reported that these kegs were filled with armed rebels, who were to issue forth in the dead of night, as did the Grecians of old from their wooden horse at the siege of Troy, and take the city by Burprise, asserting that they had seen the points of their bayonets through the bung-holes of the kegs. Others said they were charged with the most inveterate combustibles, to be kindled by secret machinery, and setting the whole Delaware in flames, were to consume all the shipping in the harbor ; whilst others asserted they were constructed by art magic, would of themselves ascend the wharves in the night time, and roll all flaming through the streets of the city, destroying every thing in their way. Be this as it may, certain it is that the shipping in the harbor, and all the wharves in the city, were fully manned. The battle began, and it was surprising to behold the incessant blaze that was kept up against the enemy, the kegs. Both officers and men exhibited the most unparalleled skill and bravery on the occasion, whilst the citizens stood gazing at the solemn witnesses of their prowess. From the Roebuck and other ships of war, whole broadsides were poured into the Delaware. In short, not a wandering chip or stick, or drift log, but felt the vigor of the British arms. The action began about sunrise, and would have been completed with great success by noon,
had not an old market-woman coming down the river with provisions unfortunately let a small keg of butter fall overboard, which, as it was then ebb-tide, floated down to the scene of action. At the sight of this unexpected reinforcement of the enemy, the battle was renewed with fresh fury, and the firing was incessant until evening closed the affair. The kegs were either totally demolished or obliged to fly, as none of them have shown their heads since. It is said that his Excellency Lord Howe has despatched a swift sailing packet with an account of this victory to the court of London. In a word, Monday, the fifth of January, seventeen hundred and seventy-eight, must ever be distinguished in history for the memorable Battle of the Kegs.”
The battle of the kegs furnished a theme for a facetious poem from the pen of Francis Ilopkinson, Esq., one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. It soon became popular with Washington's army, and is mentioned by Surgeon Thacher as follows: "Our drums and fifes afforded us a favorite music till evening, when we were delighted with the song composed by Mr. Hopkinson, "The