Talk:The Bushfighters

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Information about this edition
Edition: Extracted from Adventure magazine, October 1920, pp. 3—81.
Contributor(s): veni vidi
Level of progress:
Proofreaders: ditto

An interesting behind-the-scenes look

from the "Camp-Fire Section" of the issue, pp. 153–154.

AN INTERESTING look into the times in which Hugh Pendexter's story in this issue is laid. Personally, in a case of this kind I would by all means read the story itself before reading the explanation, thus both gaining a clearer and fuller understanding of the historical data given for Camp-Fire and avoiding having any of the story's plot told me in advance. But of course every fellow will follow his own inclination as to that.

Norway, Maine.

I have taken a liberty with the historical facts furnishing the background of “The Bushfighters,” i.e., the capture of Putnam. He was captured in 1758 and I have recorded it as being in the Fall of '56 for the sake of knitting up the action of the story. For, after all, it is intended for a story, not history.

HOWEVER, the incidents surrounding his capture and the attempts to roast him, the shower, and his rescue are facts. Parkman credits Marin with effecting the rescue; other writers have noted a tradition that Putnam's captor, the big Caughnawaga chief, was informed of his prisoner's plight by an Indian who once was Putnam's captive and had been treated kindly by him. It has also been said that Putnam appealed to Marin as a Mason and thus secured his intercession. In any event he was taken before Montcalm at Ticonderoga and afterwards conveyed to Montreal. Col. Peter Schuyler, of New Jersey, also a prisoner, who was exchanged for De Noyan, commandant at Fort Frontenac,,got Putnam's name placed on the list of prisoners to be exchanged. At the time of the story Putnam was thirty-eight years old and the father of a large family. For the sake of romantic element I have introduced Ephraim Willis and the girl spy. There was at Albany at that time a Dutchman, Lydius, to whom and his daughters Vaudreuil sent costly presents and who, Loudoun claimed, was a spy.

ROGERS' scout into Lake Champlain was much as I have described it, the fiction incidents fill- à ing in and rounding out the picture. Putnam's 'scout to within two or three miles of Ticonderoga, his ascent of the mountain and his careful recon- naisance was one of the most important bits of scouting during the war. He made many similar trips during the war.

Rogers' amazing carelessness in shooting at a target with Lieutenant Irwin and thus warning Marin he was on his trail is a fact. Also the disposition of the provincials, regulars and rangers, with Putnam in the lead.:

Young Brant served through the 1755 campaign with Johnson. 'Two years later Sir William sent him to school. I introduce him at the age of thirteen.

Rogers' services as a leader of rangers were invaluable to the English. There are innumerable instances of his daring and cunning. At the close of the French-Indian War he was sent to take over the French forts in the west. He accepted a commission in the English army in the Revolutionary War.

THE language used by the ranger in [[../Chapter 8|Chapter VIII]], when he shoots and captures Captain Pean, is practically the same as used by the captor of Dieskau on his capture the year before. The incident of Jan the Rogue's girl appearing in New York tap-rooms and tea-houses in male attire was suggested by the exploit of a young woman of that time, who created a sensation by a similar prank and by spending twenty pounds in one night.

I cast back to Putnam to remark that his experience in volunteering as a sentinel at the outpost near Fort Edward after the sentinels had mysteriously disappeared, also his killing a big Indian clothed in a bearskin, are facts. Alfred P. Putnam's “Sketch of Israel Putnam,” mentions Putnam's laughing at warriors who were burning him, and explains his lack of fear was constitutional.

IT AS Colonel Jonathan Bagley who humorously assured General Winslow that every wheel would turn. that “human flesh and rum” could move, etc., Saratoga in 1745 was a small settlement of Dutch farmers and the only defense of Albany “towards Canada.” The fort was stockaded. It leaked so that the garrison of one sergeant and ten soldiers couldn't keep-their powder dry. Neither the General Assembly nor Albany would pay for having it repaired. The garrison was withdrawn and the fort burned. -On November twenty-eighth of that year, five hundred French and Indians raided the settlement, killing thirty and taking a hundred prisoners. This left Albany uncovered. The Long House ridiculed the English and said, “You burned your own fort at Saratoga and ran.” The French and Indians were burning and killing in sight of Albany, and as the Iroquois had no love for the provincials at any time, and never for a people they held in contempt for shirking a fight, it was with the utmost difficulty that William Johnson won them back to neutrality. This is the episode that young Brant referred to.

SOME thirty years before the time of my story there was much smuggling between Albany and Montreal. The Mohawks held the Eastern Door and from them were drawn men who were willing to carry goods back and forth. These go-betweens gradually became converted in so far as a pagan Indian can be converted to Christianity. It was charged that they peddled information concerning colonial affairs as well as goods. They were further charged with inciting wars between the Five Nations and the southern Indians, thus eliminating the possibility of the Long House becoming an ally agent the French: Strenuous efforts were made to break up the smuggling game, it being believed that, once it was done away with, the Mohawks would come back home, the French refusing to give them more presents after the usefulness ceased. From such a beginning did the Caughnawaga village of Mohawks and Oneidas spring.

The fort at Oswego was a constant menace to the French fort at Niagara. To counteract the influence of the Oswego fort the French placed trading: posts at Presqu'ile (Erie, Pennsylvania), French Creek, and Venango.

AFTER Lord Howe was killed in the attack on Ticonderoga (Putnam being by his side all through the fight) and after the incompetent Abercrombie had lost two thousand men, Colonel Bradstreet captured Frontenac and the French navy on Lake Ontario, thus sealing the fate of Fort Duquesne.

1756 is the year when Sir William Johnson “took the petticots off the Delawares and also the name of women.” Of course this could only be done with the consent of the Iroquois, who had imposed the humiliating condition on the Delawares that they should call themselves “women,” and publicly admit they were unfit to carry arms. The Long House had refused to give aid in the Braddock campaign because of her dislike for the Virginians; the last resulting from Virginia's claims to the Ohio lands, which the Iroquois also claimed. The attitude of the Iroquois toward the provincials is not overdrawn in my story. Three hundred offered to follow Johnson because of their love for him. The Iroquois as a confederacy desired to stand one side and watch France and England exhaust each other in battles over what the Iroquois believed to be their own lands.