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[216] possible. When yet distant a hundred yards or more a bright fire was seen in the yard, and a sentinel pacing to and fro on his beat in in front of it. It seemed as we drew nearer that he would not detect our approach in time to give an alarm, when, suddenly, ‘Bang!’ went the report of the gun of one of our men, whose excitement had quite overcome his discretion. Instantly, the Federal sentinel returned the shot and rushed for the main building.

No time was now lost by Major Waller in surrounding the dwelling and smaller houses. The demand to surrender was answered from doors and windows by small volleys, which fired in the dark, did no harm. With the aid of a gun barrel and a few rails, the doors of the main building were forced open, when a general surrender at once followed.

Captain Samuel Wilson, a soldier of fine appearance and splendid physique, commanded the Federal squadron, and it looked for a moment as if he had determined to die, rather than yield. When he at length yielded up his weapon, and was made a prisoner, his face wore an air of resolute defiance, mingled with mortified pride.

When the prisoners had been got together, it was found that forty-nine had been here captured, with their horses, saddles, bridles, arms and accoutrements.

The problem now was, how to get the prisoners and horses across the river, which was nearly a mile in width. A large lighter, capable of carrying one hundred men, or more, was found near the water's edge at Leedstown, and this was quickly launched. The prisoners were put into it, with a suitable guard of men, and the boat was speedily poled over (as the watermen say), to the Essex shore.

The approach of daylight, and the prospect of a gunboat's appearance, made the passage of the captured horses a hazardous undertaking. It was decided to take the horses two miles higher up the river, where the stream was narrower, and the banks higher, where better security was offered against gunboats, and a better opportunity could be found for swimming over the horses. The two boats were rowed up to the latter point, where, after the arrival of the men with the horses, the saddles, blankets, and arms were put in the boats, and the horses were all lashed together by their halter-reins. In this way, strung together in a long line, they were forced after the large boat into the river, and were made to swim across.


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