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The Blacksmith At Brandywine






Category: ON AND NEAR THE DELAWARE

Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

Terrible in the field at Brandywine was the figure of a man armed only
with a hammer, who plunged into the ranks of the enemy, heedless of his
own life, yet seeming to escape their shots and sabre cuts by magic, and
with Thor strokes beat them to the earth. But yesterday war had been to
him a distant rumor, a thing as far from his cottage at Dilworth as if it
had been in Europe, but he had revolted at a plot that he had overheard
to capture Washington and had warned the general. In revenge the Tories
had burned his cottage, and his wife and baby had perished in the flames.
All day he had sat beside the smoking ruins, unable to weep, unable to
think, unable almost to suffer, except dumbly, for as yet he could not
understand it. But when the drums were heard they roused the tiger in
him, and gaunt with sleeplessness and hunger he joined his countrymen and
ranged like Ajax on the field. Every cry for quarter was in vain: to
every such appeal he had but one reply, his wife's name--Mary.

Near the end of the fight he lay beside the road, his leg broken, his
flesh torn, his life ebbing from a dozen wounds. A wagoner, hasting to
join the American retreat, paused to give him drink. I've only five
minutes more of life in me, said the smith. Can you lift me into that
tree and put a rifle in my hands? The powerful teamster raised him to
the crotch of an oak, and gave him the rifle and ammunition that a dying
soldier had dropped there. A band of red-coats came running down the
road, chasing some farmers. The blacksmith took careful aim; there was a
report, and the leader of the band fell dead. A pause; again a report
rang out, and a trooper sprawled upon the ground. The marksman had been
seen, and a lieutenant was urging his men to hurry on and cut him down.
There was a third report, and the lieutenant reeled forward into the
road, bleeding and cursing. That's for Mary, gasped the blacksmith. The
rifle dropped from his hands, and he, too, sank lifeless against the
boughs.





Next: Father And Son

Previous: Parricide Of The Wissahickon



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