How General Schuyler Was Saved
DURING the latter part of the Revolution, the war was carried on mainly in the South. Still, the people of the North were frequently attacked by parties of Indians and Tories, who descended upon the small towns and outlying houses, killing the inmates and carrying off all the plunder they could find.
At this time, General Schuyler was living in his own home, near Albany, just outside the wall, or stockade. It was a tempting bait for the Tories and Indians. A party of them resolved to capture the General and his family, and to plunder the house.
When the marauders were on the way, they found out from a Dutch farmer, whom they had taken, that the General's house was guarded by six soldiers, three by day and three by night. They told the Dutchman they would punish him if he mentioned seeing them, or if, in any way, he warned the General of their approach. They then let the Dutchman go; and, as soon as they were out of sight, he ran as fast as he could to tell the General of the attack.
The Schuyler family were all seated in the wide hall downstairs. The doors and windows were open, for it was a hot day in August. The guard was outside under the shade of the trees. Nobody was suspicious of danger. In fact, the General was dozing in his chair.
A servant entered the back door, and said, "There is a man outside who wishes to speak to the General." The General ordered him to be shown in. The Dutchman entered, and told of his meeting with the party of Indians. In fact, hardly had he delivered his message before a scuffle in the yard showed to the dismayed family that the enemy had actually arrived, overpowered the guard, and bound them hand and foot.
Schuyler hastily barred the doors and windows, and retired with his family to the upper rooms. The Indians approached the house, and tried the doors. Then, running to a window, they smashed the panes of glass, and made an entrance to the house. Schuyler, upstairs, with his gun in hand, stood ready to defend himself and his family. Around him were his negro slaves, each one with some kind of weapon. At the other end of the room, the women were huddled in fear, weeping and praying. In the mind of each arose the horrible tales of Indian cruelty, so common in that day.
Just as the Indians entered, Mrs. Schuyler cried out, "My baby! My baby! I have left him downstairs in his cradle." She made a rush for the stairs. Her agony was extreme, and only the strong arms of her husband kept her from going down amidst the savages, to snatch her child from death.
General Schuyler held her, and told her it would be death for both her and the baby, if she should carry out her purpose. As they were thus hesitating, one of their daughters said, "I will go after my little brother. They will not see me." With that, she slipped past her mother and father, and, in a moment, was down in the hall.
It was dark because the doors and shutters had been closed. The Indians were in the dining-room, devouring food, breaking china and furniture, and quarreling over their spoils. The girl darted by the open door, and reached the cradle where the baby lay asleep. Seizing the child in her arms, she started on her way upstairs, when she was discovered by one of the Tories.
He thought she was a servant-girl, and called out to her, "Here, where has your master gone?" The brave girl, half-way up the steps, turned and replied,
"My master has gone to the town to alarm the people. He will be here any moment with some troops."
When General Schuyler heard his daughter make this brave retort, he went to an open window upstairs, and fired his pistol several times. He then called out in a loud voice,
"Come on, my brave men! Here they are inside the house! Surround the buildings, and let no one escape."
He then made his negro slaves put their heads out of the windows, and utter loud yells of defiance. The Indians and Tories recognized Schuyler's voice, and, hearing all this noise outside, thought that surely troops had come to the rescue. They broke out of the house more quickly than they had broken in, and ran away much faster than they had come, pursued by shots from the General's rifles, and shouts from his slaves.
"My brave little girl," said Schuyler to his daughter, "you have had courage to do a brave deed, and wit enough to get us out of trouble."