Page:Letters of Life.djvu/28

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16
LETTERS OF LIFE.

before my birth; but I have heard their recital, seated on his knee, and my heart now kindles at their memory as a trumpet-cry.

One recital of those warlike gatherings made a strong impression on my infantine imagination, probably because it was coupled with home scenery. In the autumn of 1781, the inhabitants of Norwich beheld their whole southern horizon wrapped in the strange, flickering redness of a distant flame. Thundering sounds were on the air, like the cannon's death-peal. There was a quick mustering of the men of war. Boys who had never seen service, besought their troubled mothers for leave to gird on the harness, and go where danger called. In hot haste, and with as much of military order as the occasion would admit, horse and foot sped on to the point of danger.

No rail-train in those days rapidly conveyed tidings, no telegraph bore them on the lightning's wing; but the fleetest leader of the cavalry, gaining a commanding ascent, announced that New London, our neighbor city, was in flames. From van to rear passed the mournful sound, "New London is in flames!" Indignation sat on every face. Their beautiful seaport! The favorite and finest harbor of Connecticut! Every individual thought of some acquaintance or friend left houseless, if, indeed, among the living. They hurried to meet the foe. The fourteen miles that divided Norwich from New London was achieved as on eagle's