The Autumn of 1775...
George Washington's Private Journals
An elderly woman crouched in the corner of her living-room and covered herself with a piece of a fallen curtain. Outside she heard women and children screaming , and the shrieks exploded in her ears. The drama pierced through her walls and invaded her reality. That old woman curled in a tighter ball and drew the rosary beads closer to her lips.
The screaming stopped abruptly. The old woman relaxed slightly. She called out to the heaven's above. “Why is this happening, who is doing this?”
She received no answer.
It was the autumn of 1775 and the mild weather wanted badly to progress into strong, cold winter weather.
There were over a hundred civilians hung by the neck outside of Deerland Park near lower Manhatten. The visual cut General George Washington deeply. He understood that causalities were an unavoidable part of the ugly business of war, but the hanging of innocent women and children unsettled his soul.
There was an old woman hanging lifeless in front of him. Shortly after that old woman's body ceased to swing like a pendulum from a leafless cherry tree, he thought, deep down that freedom had been doomed from the start. His temper had reached its peak, and he thought about revenge, but revenge simply had to wait.
“General, the hanging party was spotted camping out near the water wells to Long Island.”
“The Indians are keeping a watch on them until they hear from you.”
“They have them in clear sight?”
“How quickly can we get to them?”
“General, for food and shelter, the Indians are willing to slaughter the hanging party for us.”
“They'll bring back scalps as proof of the slaughter.”
General George Washington was delighted with the proposal and, together with his second in command, drafted a detailed letter to all camp commanders that the Indians were to receive food and shelter and treated with respect just through the end of the harsh winter of 1775 and 1776.
“I want the man who ordered the hangings alive,” said the General.
Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Britcone, the man who had ordered the hangings, suspected something was going to happen. The silence was too much and it registered in his brain. He ordered the British troops to destroy the orchards, of which, George Washington was so proud of, and to feed British fires and help build a fort. Wood from all over town, including shops, private structures, schools and even churches were also commandeered for this effort .
The the Indians attacked. The town was quickly descending into a simmering chaos. Over 200 enemy soldiers held a line to fight nearly 900 Indians. The slaughter was quick and Britcone stood in the center of town begging Loyalists to Freedom to protect him. But hope was rapidly evaporating. The people in that small town locked him out. Some even called to the Indians.
Then ten Indians on horse back rode toward Britcone. While captured soldiers were marched through the mist and then slaughtered away from the eyesight of the Loyalists.
“I'm worth more alive to you then dead,” quivered the lieutenant.
“Washington wishes to meet with you,” replied the Indian in broken English, but clear enough so Britcone could understand.
Relief washed over his face as he fell to his knees and almost thanked God above for General Washington. All he thought about was striking a deal with the Freedom Fighter.
A nearly full moon was rising over the eastern hills, and the damaged town was washed almost in an eerie golden haze.
“Take me to Washington, now!” he demanded.
An old Indian Chief walked over to the lieutenant and kissed his cold forehead. It was an odd gesture for Britcone, but the Indians on the horseback knew it was their sign of death.
© 2015 Frank Atanacio