THE BLACKSMITH AT THE BATTLE OF BRANDYWINE.
The hero of the following story was an humble blacksmith, but his stalwart frame, hardened with toil, throbbed with as generous an impulse of freedom as ever beat in the bosom of a La Fayette, or around the heart of mad Anthony Wayne.
It was in the full tide of a retreat, that follower of the American camp was driving a baggage wagon from the battle field, while some short distance behind a body of Continentals were rushing forward, with a troop of British in close pursuit.
The wagon had arrived at a narrow point of the bye road leading to the South, where two high banks of rocks and crag, arising on either side, afforded just space sufficient for the passage of his wagon, and not an inch more.
His eye was arrested by the sight of a muscular man, some forty years of age, extended at the foot of a tree at the very opening of this pass. He was clad in the coarse attire of a mechanic. His coat which had been flung aside, and with the shirt sleeves rolled up from his muscular arm, he lay extended on the turf, with his rifle in his grasp, while the blood streamed in a torrent from his right leg broken at the knee by a cannon ball.
The wagoner’s sympathies were arrested by the sight — he would have passed in the very instant of his flight and placed the wounded blacksmith in his wagon but the stout hearted mechanic refused.
“I’ll not get into the wagon,” he exclaimed in his rough way; “but I’ll tell you what I will do. Do you see yonder cherry tree on the top of that rock that hangs over the road? Do you think you could lift a man of my build up there? For you see neighbor,” he continued, while the blood flowed from his wound, “I never meddled with the Britishers until they came trampling over this valley and burned my house down. And now I’m all riddled to pieces, and haint got more than fifteen minutes life in me. But I have got three good rifle balls in my cartridge box, and so just prop me against that cherry tree, and I’ll give ‘em the whole three shots, and then,” — he exclaimed, “I will die!”
The wagoner started his horses ahead and then with a sudden effort of strength, dragged the blacksmith along the sod to the foot of the cherry tree surmounting the rock by the road side.
In a moment his back was proped against the tree, his face was to the advancing troopers and while his shattered leg hung over the bank, the waggoners rushed on his way; while the blacksmith very coolly proceeded to load his rifle.
It was not long before a body of American soldiers rushed by with the British in pursuit.
The blacksmith greeted them with a shout, and then raising his rifle to his shoulder he picked the foremost from his steed with the exclamation, “that’s for Gen. Washington.”
In a moment the rifle was loaded, again it was fired, and, the pursuing British rode over the body of another fallen officer.
“That’s for myself!” cried the blacksmith.
And then with a hand strong with the feeling of coming death, the sturdy freeman again loaded, again raised his rifle. He fired his last shot, and as another soldier kissed the sod, the tear quivered in the eye of the dying blacksmith. “And that,” he cried with a husky voice which strengthened into a shout, “and that’s for mad Anthony Wayne!”
Long after the battle was pase, the body was discovered, propped against the tree, with the features frozen in death, smiling grimly, whilst the right hand grasped the never failing rifle.
And thus died one of the thousand brave mechanic heroes of the Revolution, brave in the hour of battle, undaunted in the hour of retreat, undismayed in the hour of death.
The Experiement (Norwalk, Ohio) Jul 3, 1844
Read more about Brandywine:
Sons of the American Revolution website
“The Battle of Brandywine”
Images from the following book:
Title: On the Trail of Washington
(a narrative history of Washington’s boyhood and manhood, based on his own writings, authentic documents and other authoritative information)
Author: Frederick Trevor Hill
Publisher: Appleton, 1916 (Google book LINK)
Includes The Battle of Brandywine, pages 154-159.