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American Heros

The Charge At Gettysburg
For the Lord On the whirlwind is abroad; I...

The Cruise Of The Wasp
A crash as when some swollen cloud Cracks o'er th...

Lieutenant Cushing And The Ram Albemarle
God give us peace! Not such as lulls to sleep, But...

The Storming Of Stony Point
In their ragged regimentals Stood the old Contin...

Charles Russell Lowell
Wut's wurds to them whose faith an' truth On war'...

The Flag-bearer
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;...

Farragut At Mobile Bay
Ha, old ship, do they thrill, The brave two hundre...

Sheridan At Cedar Creek
Inspired repulsed battalions to engage, And taught...

The Death Of Stonewall Jackson
Like a servant of the Lord, with his bible and his sword...

Remember The Alamo
The muffled drum's sad roll has beat The soldier'...

Francis Parkman
(1822-1893) He told the red man's story; far and wide...

The Battle Of New Orleans
The heavy fog of morning Still hid the plain from...

O captain. My captain. Our fearful trip is done; T...

Daniel Boone And The Founding Of Kentucky
... Boone lived hunting up to ninety; And, what's s...

The General Armstrong Privateer
We have fought such a fight for a day and a night As m...

John Quincy Adams And The Right Of Petition
He rests with the immortals; his journey has been long: ...

Robert Gould Shaw
Brave, good, and true, I see him stand before me n...

George Rogers Clark And The Conquest Of The Northwest
Have the elder races halted? Do they droop and end the...

Hampton Roads
Then far away to the south uprose A little feathe...

The Battle Of Trenton
And such they are--and such they will be found: No...

The Storming Of Stony Point

In their ragged regimentals
Stood the old Continentals,
Yielding not,
When the grenadiers were lunging,
And like hail fell the plunging
When the files
Of the isles
From the smoky night encampment bore the banner of the rampant
And grummer, grummer, grummer, rolled the roll of the drummer,
Through the morn!

Then with eyes to the front all,
And with guns horizontal,
Stood our sires;
And the balls whistled deadly,
And in streams flashing redly
Blazed the fires;
As the roar
On the shore
Swept the strong battle-breakers o'er the green-sodded acres
Of the plain;
And louder, louder, louder cracked the black gunpowder,
Cracked amain!
--Guy Humphrey McMaster.

One of the heroic figures of the Revolution was Anthony Wayne,
Major-General of the Continental line. With the exception of Washington,
and perhaps Greene, he was the best general the Americans developed in
the contest; and without exception he showed himself to be the hardest
fighter produced on either side. He belongs, as regards this latter
characteristic, with the men like Winfield Scott, Phil Kearney, Hancock,
and Forrest, who reveled in the danger and the actual shock of arms.
Indeed, his eager love of battle, and splendid disregard of peril,
have made many writers forget his really great qualities as a general.
Soldiers are always prompt to recognize the prime virtue of physical
courage, and Wayne's followers christened their daring commander "Mad
Anthony," in loving allusion to his reckless bravery. It is perfectly
true that Wayne had this courage, and that he was a born fighter;
otherwise, he never would have been a great commander. A man who lacks
the fondness for fighting, the eager desire to punish his adversary,
and the willingness to suffer punishment in return, may be a great
organizer, like McClellan, but can never become a great general or win
great victories. There are, however, plenty of men who, though they
possess these fine manly traits, yet lack the head to command an army;
but Wayne had not only the heart and the hand but the head likewise.
No man could dare as greatly as he did without incurring the risk of an
occasional check; but he was an able and bold tactician, a vigilant
and cautious leader, well fitted to bear the terrible burden of
responsibility which rests upon a commander-in-chief.

Of course, at times he had some rather severe lessons. Quite early in
his career, just after the battle of the Brandywine, when he was set to
watch the enemy, he was surprised at night by the British general Grey,
a redoubtable fighter, who attacked him with the bayonet, killed a
number of his men, and forced him to fall back some distance from the
field of action. This mortifying experience had no effect whatever on
Wayne's courage or self-reliance, but it did give him a valuable lesson
in caution. He showed what he had learned by the skill with which, many
years later, he conducted the famous campaign in which he overthrew the
Northwestern Indians at the Fight of the Fallen Timbers.

Wayne's favorite weapon was the bayonet, and, like Scott he taught his
troops, until they were able in the shock of hand-to-hand conflict to
overthrow the renowned British infantry, who have always justly prided
themselves on their prowess with cold steel. At the battle of Germantown
it was Wayne's troops who, falling on with the bayonet, drove the
Hessians and the British light infantry, and only retreated under orders
when the attack had failed elsewhere. At Monmouth it was Wayne and his
Continentals who first checked the British advance by repulsing the
bayonet charge of the guards and grenadiers.

Washington, a true leader of men, was prompt to recognize in Wayne a
soldier to whom could be intrusted any especially difficult enterprise
which called for the exercise alike of intelligence and of cool daring.
In the summer of 1780 he was very anxious to capture the British fort at
Stony Point, which commanded the Hudson. It was impracticable to attack
it by regular siege while the British frigates lay in the river, and the
defenses ere so strong that open assault by daylight was equally out of
the question. Accordingly Washington suggested to Wayne that he try a
night attack. Wayne eagerly caught at the idea. It was exactly the kind
of enterprise in which he delighted. The fort was on a rocky promontory,
surrounded on three sides by water, and on the fourth by a neck of land,
which was for the most part mere morass. It was across this neck of
land that any attacking column had to move. The garrison was six hundred
strong. To deliver the assault Wayne took nine hundred men. The
American army was camped about fourteen miles from Stony Point. One July
afternoon Wayne started, and led his troops in single file along the
narrow rocky roads, reaching the hills on the mainland near the fort
after nightfall. He divided his force into two columns, to advance one
along each side of the neck, detaching two companies of North Carolina
troops to move in between the two columns and make a false attack.
The rest of the force consisted of New Englanders, Pennsylvanians,
and Virginians. Each attacking column was divided into three parts, a
forlorn hope of twenty men leading, which was followed by an advance
guard of one hundred and twenty, and then by the main body. At the time
commanding officers still carried spontoons, and other old-time weapons,
and Wayne, who himself led the right column, directed its movements
spear in hand. It was nearly midnight when the Americans began to press
along the causeways toward the fort. Before they were near the walls
they were discovered, and the British opened a heavy fire of great guns
and musketry, to which the Carolinians, who were advancing between the
two columns, responded in their turn, according to orders; but the men
in the columns were forbidden to fire. Wayne had warned them that their
work must be done with the bayonet, and their muskets were not even
loaded. Moreover, so strict was the discipline that no one was allowed
to leave the ranks, and when one of the men did so an officer promptly
ran him through the body.

No sooner had the British opened fire than the charging columns broke
into a run, and in a moment the forlorn hopes plunged into the abattis
of fallen timber which the British had constructed just without the
walls. On the left, the forlorn hope was very roughly handled, no less
than seventeen of the twenty men being either killed or wounded, but as
the columns came up both burst through the down timber and swarmed up
the long, sloping embankments of the fort. The British fought well,
cheering loudly as their volley's rang, but the Americans would not be
denied, and pushed silently on to end the contest with the bayonet. A
bullet struck Wayne in the head. He fell, but struggled to his feet and
forward, two of his officers supporting him. A rumor went among the
men that he was dead, but it only impelled them to charge home, more
fiercely than ever.

With a rush the troops swept to the top of the wall. A fierce but
short fight followed in the intense darkness, which was lit only by the
flashes from the British muskets. The Americans did not fire, trusting
solely to the bayonet. The two columns had kept almost equal pace, and
they swept into the fort from opposite sides at the same moment. The
three men who first got over the walls were all wounded, but one of
them hauled down the British flag. The Americans had the advantage
which always comes from delivering an attack that is thrust home. Their
muskets were unloaded and they could not hesitate; so, running boldly
into close quarters, they fought hand to hand with their foes and
speedily overthrew them. For a moment the bayonets flashed and played;
then the British lines broke as their assailants thronged against them,
and the struggle was over. The Americans had lost a hundred in killed
and wounded. Of the British sixty-three had been slain and very many
wounded, every one of the dead or disabled having suffered from the
bayonet. A curious coincidence was that the number of the dead happened
to be exactly equal to the number of Wayne's men who had been killed in
the night attack by the English general, Grey.

There was great rejoicing among the Americans over the successful issue
of the attack. Wayne speedily recovered from his wound, and in the joy
of his victory it weighed but slightly. He had performed a most notable
feat. No night attack of the kind was ever delivered with greater
boldness, skill, and success. When the Revolutionary War broke out the
American armies were composed merely of armed yeomen, stalwart men,
of good courage, and fairly proficient in the use of their weapons, but
entirely without the training which alone could enable them to withstand
the attack of the British regulars in the open, or to deliver an attack
themselves. Washington's victory at Trenton was the first encounter
which showed that the Americans were to be feared when they took the
offensive. With the exception of the battle of Trenton, and perhaps of
Greene's fight at Eutaw Springs, Wayne's feat was the most successful
illustration of daring and victorious attack by an American army that
occurred during the war; and, unlike Greene, who was only able to fight
a drawn battle, Wayne's triumph was complete. At Monmouth he had shown,
as he afterward showed against Cornwallis, that his troops could meet
the renowned British regulars on even terms in the open. At Stony Point
he showed that he could lead them to a triumphant assault with the
bayonet against regulars who held a fortified place of strength. No
American commander has ever displayed greater energy and daring, a
more resolute courage, or readier resource, than the chief of the
hard-fighting Revolutionary generals, Mad Anthony Wayne.

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