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his safety. During the period that this subject was agitated, in all the struggles which it occasioned, and in which he took a part, he was uniformly successful. He not only proved a valuable friend to those, whose cause he had espoused, but he was humane and generous towards those with whom he had to contend. When called to take the field, he showed himself an able leader and an intrepid soldier.
The news of the battle of Lexington determined colonel Allen to engage on the side of his country, and inspired him with the desire of demonstrating his attachment to liberty by some bold exploit.-While his mind was in this state, a plan for taking Ticonderoga and Crown Point by surprise, which was formed by several gentlemen in Connecticut, was communicated to him, and he readily engaged in the project. Receiving directions from the general assembly of Connecticut, to raise the green mountain boys, and conduct the enterprise, he collected 200 of the hardy settlers, and proceeded to Castleton. Here he was unexpectedly joined by colonel Arnold, who had been commissioned by the Massachusetts' committee to raise 400 men and effect the same object, which was now about to be accomplished. As he had not raised the men, he was admitted to act as assistant to colonel Allen. They reached the lake opposite Ticonderoga on the evening of the 9th of May, 1775. With the utmost difficulty, boats were procured, and eighty-three men were landed near the garrison. The approach of day rendering it dangerous to wait for the rear, it was determined immediately to proceed. The commander in chief now addressed his men, representing that they had been, for a number of years, a scourge to arbitrary power, and famed for their valor; and concluded with saying, “ I now propose to advance before you, and in person conduct you through the wicket gate, and you that will go with me voluntarily in this desperate attempt, poise your
firelocks.” At the head of the centre file he marched instantly to the gate, where a sentry snapped his gun at him, and retreated through the covered way; he pressed forward into the fort, and formed his men on the parade in such a manner as to face two opposite barracks. Three huzzas awakened the garrison. A sentry, who asked quarter, pointed out the apartments of the commanding officer; and Allen, with a drawn sword over the head of captain De la Place, who was undressed, demanded the surrender of the fort. “By what authority do you demand it?" inquired the astonished commander. " I demand it,” said Allen, "in the name of the great Jehovah and of the continental congress.” The summons could not be disobeyed, and the fort with its very valuable stores and 49. prisoners, was immediately surrendered, Crown Point was taken the same day, and the capture of a sloop of war soon afterwards made Allen and his brave party complete masters of lake Champlain.
In the fall of 1775, he was sent twice into Canada to observe the dispositions of the people, and attach them, if possible, to the American cause. During this last tour, colonel Brown met him, and proposed an attack on Montreal, in concert. The proposal was eagerly embraced, and colonel Allen with 110 men, near 80 of whom were Canadians, crossed the river in the night of the 24th of September. In the morning he waited with impatience for the signal of colonel Brown, who agreed to co-operate with him; but he waited in vain. He made a resolute defence against an attack of 500 men, and it was not till his own party was reduced, by desertions, to the number of 31, and he had retreated near a mile, that he surrendered. A moment afterwards a furious savage rushed towards him, and presented his fireloek, with the intent of
killing him. It was only by making use of the body of the officer, to whom he had given his sword, as a shield, that ne escaped destruction.
He was now kept for some time in irons and treated with great severity and cruelty. He was sent to England as a prisoner, being assured that the halter would be the reward of his rebellion when he arrived there. After his arrival, about the middle of December, he was lodged for a short time in Pendennis castle, near Falmouth. On the 8th of January, 1776, he was put on board a frigate and by a circuitous route carried to Halifax. Here he remained confined in the jail from June to October, when he was removed to New York. During the passage to this place, captain Burke, a daring prisoner, proposed to kill the British captain and seize the frigate; but colonel Allen refused to engage in the plot, and was, probably, the means of preserving the life of captain Smith, who had treated him very politely. He was kept at New York, about a year and a half, sometimes imprisoned and sometimes permitted to be on parole. While here, he had an opportunity to observe the inhuman manner, in which the American prisoners were treated. In one of the churches, in which they were crowded, he saw seven lying dead at one time, and others biting pieces of chips from hunger. He calculated, that of the prisoners taken at Long Island and fort Washington, near 2000 perished by hunger and cold, or in consequence of diseases occasioned by the impurity of their pri
Colonel Allen was exchanged for colonel Campbell, May 6, 1778, and after having repaired to head quarters, and offered his services to general Washington in case his health should be restored, he returned to Vermont. His arrival on the evening of the last of May, gave his friends great joy, and it was announced by the discharge of cannon.
As an expression of confidence in his patriotisii and military talents, he was very soon appointed to the command of the state militia. It does not appear, however, that his intrepidity was ever again brought to the test, though his patriotism was tried by an unsuccessful attempt of the British to bribe him to attempt a union of Vermont with Canada. He died suddenly at his estate in Colchester, February 13, 1789.
Colonel Allen possessed a mind naturally strong, vigorous and eccentric, but it had not been improved by an early education. He was brave in the most imminent danger, and possessed a bold, daring, and adventurous spirit, which neither feared dangers nor regarded difficulties. He was also ingenuous, frank, generous, and patriotic, which are the usual accompanying virtues of native bravery and courage. He wrote and published a . narrative of his sufferings during his imprisonment in England and in New York; comprising
Iso various observations upon the events of the war, the conduct of the British, and their treatment of their prisoners.
ALEXANDER, WILLIAM, commonly called lord Sterling, a major-general in the American army, in the revolutionary war with Great Britain, was a native of the city of New York, birt spent a considerable part of his life in New Jersey. He was considered by many as the rightful heir to the title and estate of an earldom in Scotland, of which country his father was a native; and although, when he went to North Britain in pursuit of this inheritance, he failed of obtaining an acknowledgment of his claim by government; yet, among his friends and acquaintances, he received by courtesy the title of lord Sterling. He discovered an early fondness for the study of mathematics and astronomy, and attained great eminence in these sciences.
In the battle on Long Island, August 27, 1776, ke was taken prisoner, after having secured to a large part of the detachment, an opportunity to escape, by a bold attack, with four hundred men, upon a corps under lord Cornwallis. In the battle of Germantown, his division, and the brigades of generals Nash and Maxwell, formed the corps of reserve. At the battle of Monmouth, he commanded the left wing of the American army.
He died at Albany, January 15, 1783, aged 57 years. He was a brave, discerning, and intrepid officer.
Ramsay, in his history of the American revolution, gives the following account of the battle of Monmouth:
“The royal army passed over the Delaware into New Jersey, General Washington, having penetrated into their design of evacuating Philadelphia, had previously detached general Maxwell's brigade, to co-operate with the Jersey militia, in obstructing their progress, till time would be given for his army to overtake them. The British were incumbered with enormous baggage, which, together with the impediments thrown into their way, greatly retarded their march. The American army, having, in pursuit of the British, crossed the Delaware, six hundred men were immediately detached, under colonel Morgan, to reinforce general Maxwell. Washington halted his troops, when they had marched to the vicinity of Princeton. The general officers in the American army, being asked by the commander in chief, "Will it be advisable to hazard a general action?' answered in the negative, but recommended a detachment of fifteen hundred men, to be immediately sent, to act as occasion might serve, on the enemy's left flank and rear.
This was immediately forwarded under general Scott. When sir Henry Clinton had advanced to Allentown, he determined, instead of