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Sorrows Hung Draped On Their Spirits
George Washington's Private Journals
New York was certainly large enough to absorb whatever elements came its way. The British officers stationed there enjoyed the high life, only occasionally interrupted by the pests that kept leading the troops into battle.
General George Washington knew that the battle near the Rooster River was lopsided. There were fifteen Redcoats to a single Colonist, and his men paid dearly. They took a beating and then fell back so that they could lick their wounds.
Washington was counting heads from the side of his tent, saw the beaten Colonists drifting past all morning. In his belly rose a cold shakiness. His counting went idle, he knew that his soldiers' own sorrows hung draped on their spirits like binding chains.
Most of his men fought with dedication and he would excuse the few that ran away like hawk frightened chickens. Seeing a crowd of soldiers cover you like dark clouds would have put fear in anyone's heart. The General understood that.
Then the General watched two men carrying a young boy. He had to be no more than fifteen years old. There was dried blood on the sides of his face, one shirt sleeve was torn away and he limped badly even though he was being helped.
“How is he?” asked Washington.
The young boy's bloody face turned toward Washington. He swayed, but struck away a man's steadying hand. He wanted to stand and salute General George Washington all on his own.
“Ready for duty sir!” He labored.
“I know you are lad,” Washington replied. “But not today.”
“I'll always be ready sir, just call on me. My name is Paul Revere.”
“Sir, he is the only survivor of his group,” shouted the man on the boy's left side.
“What?” Washington gasped.
“There is a deep pit,” the man paused for a moment. “A grave, we tossed in twenty two young men no older than this one into that grave, and left two of my men standing guard until we get back to help fill it.”
Washington closed his eyes hard and said,” whose was their commanding officer?”
“Conrad Matteson,” he replied. “We found him lying in a ditch. His guts covering a lot of real estate.”
“Carry on men,” Washington sighed.
“General,” Revere called from bending knees. “I'll do it again for freedom. We all fought hard and took out so many redcoats. I do understand sir, that it takes luck to win a battle.”
George Washington walked over to the young boy and helped him stand straight up with the help of the other two men. He then looked right into the boy's eyes and said. “But it takes guts to fight one. And you Paul Revere have guts.”
The physical fighting have subsided for the time being, as George Washington watched the trio walk away. He realized life in the colonies was becoming fragile and the fight for freedom could shatter it at any given moment. Then Paul Revere's words struck him hard: I'll Do It Again For Freedom!
© 2015 Frank Atanacio