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The principal group represents the death of General Montgomery, who, together with his two aids-de-camp, Major M'Pherson and Captain Cheesman, fell by a discharge of grapeshot from the cannon of the place. The general is represented as expiring, supported by two of his officers, and surrounded by others, among whom is Colonel Campbell, on whom the command devolved, and by whose order a retreat was immediately begun.
Grief and surprise mark the countenances of the various characters. The earth covered with snow-trees stripped of their foliage--the desolation of winter, and the gloom of night heightened the melancholy character of the scene."
Trumbull's “Declaration of Independence" is the best known of any American work of art. "To preserve the resemblance of the men who were the authors of this memorable act, was an essential object of this painting. Important difficulties presented themselves to the artist at the outset; for although only ten years had then elapsed since the date of the event, it was already difficult to ascertain who were the individuals to be represented. Should he regard the fact of having been actually present in the room on the fourth of July, indispensable? Should he admit those only who were in favor of, and reject those who were opposed to the act? Where a person was dead, and no authentic portrait cổuld be obtained, should he admit ideal heads? These were questions on which Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson were consulted, and they concurred in the advice, that with regard to the characters to be introduced, the signatures of the original act (which is still preserved in the office of state), ought to be the general guide. · That portraits ought, however, to be admitted, of those who were opposed to, and of course did not sign, as well as of those who voted in favor of the declaration, and did sign it, particularly John Dickinson, of Delaware, author of the Farmer's Letters, who was the most eloquent and powerful opposer of the measure; not indeed of its principle, but of the fitness of the time, which he considered premature. And they particularly recommended, that wherever it was possible, the artist should obtain his portrait from the living person ; that where any one was dead, he should be careful to copy the finest portrait that could be obtained; but that in case of death, where no portrait could be obtained (and there were many such instances, for, anterior to the Revolution, the arts had been very little attended to, except in one or two cities), he should by no means admit any ideal representation, lest it being known that some such were to be found in the painting, a doubt of the truth of others should be excited in the minds of posterity; and that, in short, absolute authenticity should be attempted, as far as it could be attained.
The artist was governed by this advice, and spared neither pains nor expense in obtaining his portraits from the living. Mr. Adams was painted in London; Mr. Jefferson in Paris ; Mr. Hancock and Samuel Adams in Boston; Mr. Edward Rutledge in Charleston, South Carolina ; Mr. Wythe at Williamsburg, in Virginia ; Mr. Bartlett at Exeter, in New Harnpshire, etc.
In order to give some variety to his composition, he found it necessary to depart from the usual practice of reporting an act, and has made the whole committee of five advance to the table of the president to make their report, instead of having the chairman rise in his place for the purpose; the silence and solemnity of the scene, offered such real difficulties to a picturesque and agreeable composition, as to justify, in his opinion, this departure from custom, and perhaps fact. Silence and solemnity he thought essential to the dignity of the subject; levity or inattention would have been unworthy on such an occasion and in such an assembly. The dresses are faithfully copied from the costume of the time, the present fashion of pantaloons and trowsers being then unknown among gentlemen.
The room is copied from that in which Congress held their sessions at the time, such as it was before the spirit of innovation laid unhallowed hands upon it, and violated its venerable walls by modern improvement, as it is called. The artist also took the liberty of embellishing the background, by suspending upon the wall, military flags and trophies; such as had been taken from the enemy at St. Johns, Chambly, etc., and probably were actually placed in the hall. In fact nothing has been neglected by the artist, that was in his power, to render this a faithful memorial of the great event.”
The remains of Trumbull, with those of his wife, are deposited in a vault under the Trumbull Gallery. The following is a part of the inscription on his monumental tablet : "Colonel John Trumbull, Painter and Artist, Friend and Aid of Washington, died, in New York, November 10, 1843, aged eighty-eight. To his Country he gave his Sword and his Pencil.”
Lester states, in his “Artists of America,” that to no one artist “does the country owe so much as to Trumbull. Congress paid grudgingly eight thousand dollars a piece for his four great paintings in the Rotunda--but what representative of the American people would dare now to rise in his place, and propose to sell the Declaration of Independence, I care not what sum were offered for it? It is the only picture in the world which has preserved the forms and expressions of the great fathers of American liberty, and it would be sacrilege to ruin it, because it is above all price. As ages roll by, the wonderful events those pictures commemorate, will be graven more deeply in the minds of men, and to each successive generation they will become more invaluable. The early historical painters of nations have always ranked among their early historians--they stand side by side at tho fountains of history, to rescue those sacred forms and relics, which, but for their holy vigilance, would have passed away forever.”
AN ACCURATE AND INTERESTING ACCOUNT
HARDSHIPS AND SUFFERINGS
B A N D OF
WHO TRAVERSED THE WILDERNESS IN
THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST QUEBEC, IN 1775.
THE above is the title of a little volume of about two hundred pages. It was written by the Hon. John Joseph Henry, for the instruction and amusement of his children, and was not published until after his death, in 1812.* The author, the son of William Henry, Esq., the inventor of the screw-augur, was born at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1758. At the age of fourteen, he was apprenticed to an uncle who was a gunsmith, and accompanied him to Detroit, where, however, his stay was short, on account of the scarcity of business. He returned on foot, with a single guide, who died in the wilderness which lay between Detroit and his home, and it was there that hardships and misfortune were first encountered. Soon after his return, the troubles of his country aroused attention, and his arduous mind panted for military glory. In the fall of 1775, he clandestinely joined a corps of Lancaster men raised to reinforce Arnold at Boston. He was then a mere stripling, the youngest of that band of heroes who accompanied Arnold to Quebec: the day he entered Canada being but his seventeenth birthday.
While in prison in Quebec, where he lay for nine months, he contracted the scurvy which, on his return, assumed a most malignant form, and frustrated all his plans of future military life, for which purpose a captaincy had been procured for him in Morgan's famous Virginia rifle regiment. After the war, he studied law and eventually was appointed by Gov. Mifflin, President Judge of the Second Judicial District of Pennsylvania. He died in 1809, some of the leisure of his last years having been devoted to the writing of the instructive narrative to his “dear children," here given in an abridged form.
* It may
interest persons not familiar with the demand for old scarce works illustrating American History to state, that this small volume, the original price of which was probably not over one dollar, brought at an auction in New York City, of rare American works, ten dollars, which is more than its weight in silver-it weighing but seven ounces. Another scarce American work, weighing but seventeen ounces was sold to the writer for thirty dollars ; yet these prices are low compared to what books comprising the saine amount of matter were in manuscript before the invention of printing.
MY DEAR CHILDREN.
There is a point, in the history of the American revolution, hitherto little attended to; as yet imperfectly related, and now at this late day almost forgotten; which would deserve and require the talents and genius of a Xenophon, to do it real justice. As your father in early life had a concern in that adventure, permit him to relate to you in the words of truth, a compendious detail of the sufferings of a small band of heroes ; unused, to be sure, to military tactics and due subordination, but whose souls were fired by an enthusiastic love of country, and a spirit such as has often inspired our ancestors, when determined to be free.
In the autumn of 1775, our adorable Washington, thought it prudent to make a descent upon Canada. A detachment from the American grand army, then in the vicinity of Boston, was organized, to fulfill this intention, by the route of the Kennebec and Chaudiere Rivers. It was intended as a co-operation with the army of General Montgomery, who had entered the same province, by the way of Champlain and Montreal. Colonel Benedict Arnold was appointed the commander-in-chief of the whole detachment, which consisted of eleven hundred men. Colonel Enos was second in command. Riflemen composed a part of the armament. These companies, from sixty-five to seventy-five strong, were from the southward : that is, Captain Daniel Morgan's company from Virginia ; that of Captain William Hendricks from Cumberland county in Pennsylvania, and Captain Matthew Smith's company from the county of Lancaster, in the latter province. The residue, and bulk of this corps, consisted of troops mainly from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. All these men were of as rude and hardy a race as ourselves, and as unused to the discipline of a camp, and as fearless as we were. They were an excellent body of men, formed by nature as the stamina of an army, fitted for a tough and tight defense of the liberties of their country. The principal distinction between us, was in our dialects, our arms, and our dress. Each man of the three companies, bore a riflebarreled gun, a tomahawk, or small axe, and a long knife, usually called a "scalping-knife,” which served for all purposes, in the woods. His underdress, by no means in a military style, was covered by a deep ash-colored hunting-shirt, leggins, and moccasins, if the latter could be procured. It was the silly fashion of those times, for riflemen to ape the manners of savages. Our commander, Arnold, was of a remarkable character. He was brave,
, even to temerity, was beloved by the soldiery, perhaps for that quality only :-he possessed great powers of persuasion, was complaisant : but withal sordidly avaricious. Arnold was a short handsome man, of a florid complexion, stoutly made, and forty years old at least. On the other hand Morgan was a large strong-bodied personage, whose appearance gave the idea history has left us of Belisarius. His manners were of the severer cast; but where he became attached he was kind and truly affectionate. This is said, from experience of the most sensitive and pleasing nature ; activity, spirit and courage in a soldier, procured his good will and esteem. Hendricks was tall, of a mild and beautiful countenance. His soul was animated by a genuine spark of heroism. Smith was a good looking man,
had the air of a soldier, was illiterate and outrageously talkative. The officers of the eastern troops, were many of them men of sterling worth.
Our little army, in high spirits, marched from Prospect Hill, near Cambridge, on the 11th of September, 1775, to Newburyport; from thence we embarked in transports to the mouth of the Kennebec, run up that river one hundred and fifty miles to Colonel Cobourn's ship-yard, there obtained batteaux, and proceeded to Fort Western. Here it was concluded to dispatch an officer and seven men in advance, for the purposes of ascertaining and inarking the paths, which were used by the Indians at the numerous carrying-places in the wilderness, toward the heads of the river; and also, to ascertain the course of the River Chaudiere, which runs from the height of land, toward Quebec.
To give some degree of certainty of success to so hazardous an enterprise, Arnold found it necessary to select an officer of activity and courage; the choice fell upon Archibald Steele of Smith's company, a man of an activo, courageous, sprightly and hardy disposition, who was complimented with the privilege of naming his companions. These consisted of Jesse Wheeler, George Merchant, and James Clifton, of Morgan's; and Robert Cunningham, Thomas Boyd, John Tidd, and John M’Konkey, of Smith's company. Though a very youth, yet in a small degree accustomed to hardships, derived from long marches in the American woods, Steele’s course of selection next fell upon your father, who was his messmate and friend. Two birch-bark cannes were provided ; and two guides, celebratėd for the management of such water-craft, and who knew the river as high up as the great carrying-place, were also found. These were Jeremiah Getchel, a very respectable man, and John Horne, an Irishman, who had grown gray in this cold climate.
This small party, unconscious of danger, and animated by a hope of applause from their country, set forward from Fort Western in their light barks, at the rate of from fifteen to twenty, and in good water twenty-five miles per day. These canoes are so light, that a person of common strength, may carry one of the smaller kind, such as ours were, many hundred yards without halting.
On the evening of the 23d of September, our party arrived at Fort Halifax, situated on the point, formed by a junction of the Sábasticoog and Kennebec Rivers. Here our commander, Steele, was accosted by a Captain Harrison, or Buddlestone, inviting him and the compány to his house. The invitation was gladly accepted, as the accommodation at the fort, which consisted of old block-houses and a stockade in a ruinous state, did not admit of much comfort'; besides it was inhabited, as our friend the captain said, by a rank tory. Here, for the first time, the application of the American term "tory," was defined to me by the captain. Its European definition was well known before. In a very few days, we arrived safely at Norridgewoc Falls, and passed the portage. We ascended the river rapidly, blazing every carrying-place. Having now seceded many miles fronī the last white inhabitants at Norridgewoc, it became us therefore to proceed cautiously. The party proceeded without molestation, but from natural rock, and a strict current (by the 27th of September), to the twelve-mile carrying-place. We searched for the càrrying-place, and found a path tolerably distinct, which we made more so by blazing the trees and snagging the bushes with our tomahawks. Proceeding until evening, the party encamped at the margin