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Page 134


General JacksonDear Sir: I hope you'll excuse me, my
makin' bold to write to you, bein' you are President of the
United States and I only a humble farmer in the back-woods
down here in Maine; but I'm a Republikan to the back-bone,
so I kind of think you'll take it in good part. My neffu, Captain
Jack Downing, has been here and got his company and
started off for Madawaska. He said he ought to write to you
before he started, but he was so arnest to get down there and
give them New Brumzickers a thrashin' he didn't know how
to stop. So I told him to go ahead, and I'd write and tell you
all about it arter he was gone. We had the company all
drafted and cut and dried for him when he got here, for the
Governor of the State had given orders to draft the militia all
over the State to be ready for the war down in the disputed

My son Joel has gone down to the boundary war along
with the rest of 'em, and we feel bad enough about it, I can
tell you. He's too young to go, I know; he's a mere striplin'
of a boy yet; he won't be seventeen years old till the fifth day
of next May, if he should live to see it. But the poor boy
may not live to see that day now; for he's taken his life in his


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hands, and gone to fight for his country like a man and a
hero, live or die. It was a tryin' time to us, Gineral; it was
a tryin' time—but I may as well tell you the story, and then
you'll know.

After we heard the British had taken our land agent, and
carried him off to New Brumzick, we begun to look out for a
squall. It was about dark when the post brought the papers
that had the account of it; so, arter supper, we all went into
father's to talk the matter over. For father knows more
about sich matters than anybody else in Downingville—he was
out three years in the Revolution, and was in the battle of
Lexington before he 'listed, and had the fore-finger of his right
hand shot off in the battle of Bunker Hill, jest as he was pulling
trigger, and aiming at a British officer that was hurrying
up the hill, and driving his soldiers up like a fury. But
father always says he didn't lose his shot by it; for when he
found that finger was gone, and wouldn't pull, he tried the
next finger, and the old gun went without losing his aim, and
the British officer fell; and he always believed it was his
shot brought him down. Though father is eighty-five years
old now, and is so lame he can't walk about much, yet his
mind holds out remarkably, and he can talk about these
things as smart as ever he could. His house stands right
aside of mine, only fur enough apart for a long shed between
'em, and he used to live in the same house with me, or rather,
I lived in the same house with him, till I had so many
children, and my family got so large 'twas rather worrisome
to the old gentleman, and we was rather scant of room, so I
built another house and moved into it, and got cousin Debby
to live with the old folks and take care of them.


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So, as I said afore, arter supper we took the papers and
went into father's, and I sot down and read it all over to
him—how a parcel of the British come over into our disputed
territory and went to cutting down our timber like smoke, so
as to steal it, and carry it off in the spring when the rivers
open, away down to New Brumzick; and how our Governor,
as soon as he heard about it, sent Mr. McIntire, the land
agent, and a hundred and fifty men to put a stop to that
stealin' business, and ketch the fellers if he could, and bring
'em off; and how Mr. McIntire took his men and marched
off down there into the woods, ever so fur, into our disputed
territory, and got all ready and was jest a going to ketch the
fellers and bring 'em off up to Augusta, when the thieving
chaps turned about and ketched him, and put him on a sled and
hauled him off down to Fredericton, in New Brumzick, and
put him in jail

When I got along so fur, father couldn't hold still no
longer; he struck his staff down on the floor, jest as if it had
been a training-gun, and says he:

“Joshua, there'll be trouble; you may depend upon't,
there'll be trouble. If our people will stand that, they ain't
made of such kind of stuff as the old Revolution folks was
made of, nor nothing like it. In them days, if the British had
took one of our men and hauled him off to Fredericton, and
put him in jail, every man in the old Bay State, and every boy
tu, that was big enough to carry a gun, would a shouldered
it, and marched to New Brumzick, and Fredericton jail would
a been stripped down in no time, and Mr. McIntire brought
home again.”

Says I, “father, you mistake; your Revolution folks


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couldn't a brought Mr. McIntire home again, for he was not
there in them days; it's Mr. McIntire that's in jail now.”

“Yes they would,” said the old gentleman, rising out of his
chair, and striking his staff down on the floor harder than he
did afore; “they'd a gone after Mr. McIntire, or any other
man living, that had American blood in his veins, and they'd
a brought him back, if they'd had to fit their way through
forty New Brumzicks for him. Ain't the people waking up
about it no where? ain't they going down to give them New
Brumzicks a thrashing?”

I looked at my son Joel, and I see his face was all of a
blaze; and he looked as if he was jest a going to burst out.

Says I, “Joel, my boy, what's the matter?”

His face grew redder, and the tears came into his eyes, and
he struck his fists together, hard enough to crack a walnut.

“By king,” says he, “father, I wish I was old enough to
train; I want to go down there, and help give them are
British what they deserve.”

“By the memory of George Washington!” said my father,
“I wish I was young enough to train; I should like to shoulder
my gun agin, and go and teach them New Brumzickers
better manners. But what are they doing at Augusta? Ain't
there no stir about it yet?”

Says I, “we'll read on and see.” So I looked over the
papers a little more, and found the Governor had ordered ten
thousand of the militia to be drafted to go down and keep the
British out of our disputed territory, and prevent their stealing
our pine timber.

“That looks something like it,” said my father; “that's a
little like the spunk of old seventy-six. The British 'll have to


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let our disputed territory alone now, or else they'll have to
come to the scratch for it. I wish I was twenty years
younger, I'd go down as a volunteer.”

“I wish I was only two years older,” said my son Joel,
“then I should stan' a chance to be drafted; and if I wasn't
drafted, I'd go, whether or no.”

At that my wife and mother both fetched a heavy sigh.
Mother said she thought father had been through wars
enough in his day to rest in his old age, and let sich things
alone. My wife, she wiped her eyes, for they was full of tears,
and begged Joel not to talk so, for he was too young ever to
think of sich things. And then she turned to father, and
asked him if he really thought there was going to be any war.

“Yes,” said father, “jest as true as the sun will rise tomorrow,
there'll be a war, and that pretty soon tu, unless the
New Brumzickers back out, and give up Mr. McIntire, and let
the timber on our disputed territory alone. The orders will
be up here to draft the militia within two days, and I
shouldn't be surprised if they should be called out before tomorrow

At that my wife and the gals had a pretty considerable of a
crying spell.

After we'd talked the matter all over, we went home, and
went to bed; but we didn't any of us rest very well. My
wife she sighed herself to sleep arter awhile; and I heard my
son Joel, arter he got to sleep, muttering about guns and the
British, and declaring he would go. I had jest got into a
drowse, about midnight, when I heard a heavy knock at the
door. I sprung out of bed, and went and looked out of the
window, and asked who was there.


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“Sargent Johnson,” was the reply. “We've got to stan
a draft to-night. The Governor's orders got here about an
hour ago. We're sending round to warn our company to
meet up here, to Mr. Wilson's tavern, at two o'clock this
morning; it's near about one now, and the Captain wants
Squire Downing to come over and help see about making the
draft. He wants to get through with it as soon as he can, so
them that's drafted may be getting ready, for they've got to
set out to Bangor at eight o'clock this morning.”

I told him I would come right over; and so I lit a candle
and dressed myself as quick as I could, and come out into the
kitchen to put on my boots, and who should I find there but
my son Joel all dressed, and his cap on, ready for a start. He
had heard what had been said, and it put the fidgets right
into him.

Says he, “Father, I want to go over and see 'em draft.” I
told him he better be abed and asleep by half. But he said
he couldn't sleep; and I found the boy was so arnest to go,
that I finally told him he might.

We hadn't more than got dressed, before we heard the drum
beat over to Mr. Wilson's tavern; so we started off and went
over. When we got there, they had a fire in the large hall,
and the company was most all there. The Captain had got a
bowl and some black beans and white beans all ready, and he
wanted me to draw for them, so they might all feel satisfied
there was no partiality. There was one sargent to be drafted,
and we drew him first; and it fell to Sargent Johnson. He
stood it like a man; I didn't see as he trembled or turned
pale a bit He looked a little redder if anything, and kind of
bit his lip as he took his gun and marched into the middle of


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the floor, and he turned round and looked at the company, and
says he,

“I'm ready to go and fight for our country to the last drop
of my blood but what we'll make the British back out of our
disputed territory, and stop their thieving.”

The company gave three cheers for Sargent Johnson, and
then we went to drafting the privates. There was eighty in
the company, and twenty was to be drafted. So they took
sixty white beans and twenty black ones, and put 'em into the
bowl, and held it up, so nobody couldn't look into it, and I
was to draw 'em out as the orderly sargent called out the
names. So when we got ready to begin, the sargent sung

“William Jones.”

I put my had into the bowl and drawed, and sung out,

“White bean.”

“Peter Livermore,” cried the sargent.

Peter Livermore started, as if he'd had a shock from an
electrical machine; his legs shook a little, and he looked in
the face as if he felt rather bad. I put my hand in and
drawed, and sung out,

“White bean.”

Peter looked better in a minute. He's a great, tall, six-foot
chap, and looks as if he could almost whip a regiment of common
fellers himself; and although he's something of a brag,
it's generally thought, when you come right up to the pinch
of the game, he's a little cowardly. Peter stretched his head
back, and straddled his legs a little wider, and looked round
on the company, and says he,

“I swow, I thought I should a been drafted, and I almost


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wish I had. It would a been fun alive to a gone down there,
and had a brush 'long with them are New Brumzickers. My
old fowling-piece would a made daylight shine through fifty of
'em in half an hour's fighting. I swow I'm disappinted—I
was in hopes I should been drafted.”

The company knew Peter too well to mind much what he
said; they only laughed a little, and the Sargent went on, and
called out,

“John Smith, the third.”

I drawed to it, and says I,

“White bean.”

The Sargent called out again,

“John Downing, the second.”

That was the oldest son of Uncle John Downing, the blacksmith,
a smart boy, and twenty-three years old. Somehow, as
soon as I heard his name, I kind of felt as if he was going to
be drafted; and I put in my hand and drawed, and sure enough,
I sung out,

“Black bean.”

John shouldered his gun in a minute, and marched out into
the middle of the floor, and took his stand beside Sargent
Johnson. He looked so resolute, and marched so quick, that
the company at once gave three cheers for John.

“David Sanborn,” cried the Sargent.

“White bean,” said I.

“Ichabod Downing,” said the Sargent.

I drawed, and answered the same as before,

“White bean.”

“Jeremiah Cole,” called out the Sargent.

“Black bean,” said I; “black bean for Jerry.”


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After waiting a minute, the Captain called out, “Where's
Jerry Cole? Isn't Jerry here?”

“Yes, setting down behind here on a bench,” answered half
a dozen at once.

“Come Jerry, come forward,” said the Captain; “let us see
your spunk.”

By and by Jerry come creeping out from behind the company,
and tried to get across the floor; but his face was as
white as a cloth, and he shook and trembled so he couldn't
scarcely walk. He let his gun fall on the floor, and sot down
in a chair that stood by the side of the room, and boo-hoo'd
out a crying like a baby.

“Well done,” said the Captain; “there's spunk for you.
What's the matter, Jerry—can't you go?”

“Booh-hoo,” said Jerry, “I aint well—I'm very sick, Captain;
I don't think I could go any way in the world.”

“Well, well,” said the Captain, “leave your gun, and you
may run home as fast as you can go, and see your mother,
and we'll get somebody else to go in your room.”

At that, Jerry darted out of the door, and pulled foot for
home, like a streak of lightning.

“Where's Peter Livermore,” said the Captain; “he may
take Jerry's place, being he was disappointed at not being
drafted.” And he called Peter, and told him to take Jerry's
gun and stand up in the floor with the drafts. Peter colored
as red as you ever see, and begun to sweat. At last, says he:

“Captain, I don't see how I can go any way in the world,
my family's out of wood and meal, and a good many other
things, and I couldn't leave home.”

“Oh,” says the Captain, “we'll take care of your family


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while you are gone, Peter. Come, take the gun; don't stop
to parley.”

“But, Captain,” said Peter, the sweat beginning to roll off
his face, “if I'd been drafted, Captain, I'd a gone with the
greatest pleasure in the world, and shouldn't wanted no better
fun. But somehow or other, it seems to me like presumption,
to go throwing myself into danger, when it wasn't my
lot to go. I shouldn't like to go, Captain, without I was

“Well, well,” said the Captain, “you needn't go; we want
no cowards to go. But who is there here, among the spectators,
or among the men whose names have been called, that
isn't afraid to take Jerry's gun and fill Jerry's place. If there's
any one here that's willing to go, let him come forward.”

At that, my son Joel sprung like a young tiger, and seized
Jerry's gun, and jumped into the middle of the floor and stood
up by the side of Sargent Johnson, and shouldered his gun
with so much eagerness, and looked so fierce and determined,
although nothing but a striplin' of a boy, that the whole company
burst out in three tremendous cheers for Joel Downing.
The Captain asked me if I was willing he should go. I was
never so tried in my life. For my own part, bein' the boy was
so brave and wanted to go so much, I should a said yes. But
then I knew it would almost kill his mother. So, what to do
I didn't know. But I found the boy had got his mind so fixed
upon going, that if he didn't go it would about kill him. So,
on the whole, I told the Captain yes, he might put his name

Then we went on with the drafting again and got all through
without any more trouble, and got ready to go home about


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three o'clock. The Captain told them that was drafted that
they must all be ready to march at eight o'clock in the morning,
and they must be in front of the tavern at that hour, and
start together for Bangor. My son Joel and I then went
home, and made up a fire and routed the folks all out, and told
'em Joel was listed, and got to start at eight o'clock, to fight
for our disputed territory. Sich an outcry as there was for
about a half an hour I guess you never heard. My wife
couldn't a cried harder if Joel had been shot dead there before
her feet, though she didn't make much noise about it, for she
always cries to herself. The older gals, they cried considerable
louder; and some of the younger children, that didn't
hardly understand what the trouble was about, sot in and
screamed as loud as they could bawl.

At last says I, “There's no use in this noise and fuss; the
boy's got to go, and he's got to be off at eight o'clock tu, and
the sooner we set ourselves to work to get him ready the better.”
That seemed to wake 'em up a little. My wife went to
work and picked up his clothes, and she and the gals sot down
and mended his shirts and stockins, and fried up a parcel of
doughnuts for him to put in his knapsack, and got him all
fixed up and breakfast ready about six o'clock. We hadn't
waked up old father in the night, bein' he's so old; but in the
morning we let him know about it, and he wanted my son
Joel to come in and see him before he went; so we went into
the old gentleman's room.

“Now, Joel, my boy,” said the old gentleman, “I feel proud
to hear sich a good report of you. You'd a made a good soldier
in the days of the Revolution. 'Twas such boys as you
that drove the British from Lexington, and mowed 'em down


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on Bunker Hill, and went through the fatigue of Burgoine.
You'll feel a little queer at first, when you see the enemy coming
up to you with their guns pinted right at you; and, brave
as you are, you'll feel a little streaked. But you mus'n't mind
it; as soon as they've fired once, you wont feel any more of it,
and wont keer any more about 'em than you would about a
flock of sheep. But don't be in a hurry to fire—mind that—
don't be in a hurry to fire; they told us at Bunker Hill not to
fire till the enemy got up so near we could see the whites of
their eyes. And 'twas a good rule; for by that means we let
'em get up so near, that when we did fire, we mowed 'em down
like a field of clover, I can tell you. Be a good boy, Joel, and
don't quit our disputed territory as long as there is any dispute
about it.”

By this time we see 'em begin to gather in the road up by
the tavern, and I told Joel it was time to be off; so he took
his gun, and his knapsack, which was pretty well stuffed, for
each of the children had put in a doughnut or an apple, or a
piece of cake, after their mother had crammed in as much as
she thought he could carry, and then he marched away like a
soldier up to the tavern. When they started they had to
come down again by our house and go up over a rise of land
t'other way about half a mile, before they got out of sight. So
we all stood out in a row along by the side of the road to see
'em as they went by. Father got out as fur as the door-step
and stood leaning on his staff, and mother stood behind him
with her specs on, looking over his shoulder; and the rest of
us, with the children, and cousin Debby, and all, went clear out
to the side of the road. Pretty soon they come along by, my
son Joel at the head, and the rest marching two and two.


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[Description: 688EAF. Page 146. In-line image. A group of soldiers heads off to war and a crowd of people gather on the porch of a house to send them off. One little girl is holding the arm of one of the soldiers. The soldiers are holding guns with bayonettes at attention.]
When they got along against us, little Sally run up and tucked
another great apple into Joel's pocket, and my wife called out
to him, “Now do pray be careful, Joel, and not get shot.”

Then grandfather raised his trembling voice, and says he:

“Now Joel, my boy, remember and don't be in a hurry to


Page 147

And the children called out all together, “good-by, Joel,
good-by, Joel,” each repeating it over three or four times.
Joel looked round and nodded once, when his mother called
out to him, but the rest of the time he held his head up
straight and marched like a soldier. We stood and watched
'em till they got clear to the top of the hill and was jest a
going out of sight, when all to once Joel stepped out one side,
where we could see him, and let his old gun blaze away into
the air, and in a minute more they were out of sight.

“Ah,” said old father, “that sounds like Bunker Hill; that
boy 'll do the business for them New Brumzickers, if they don't
let our disputed territory alone.”

The company had not been gone more than half an hour
when my neffu, Captain Jack Downing, arrived with his commission
in his pocket. Jack hadn't been in Downingville before
for two years, and if there wasn't a time of it among our
folks I'll never guess agin. Nabby, she hopped right up and
down, like a mouse treed in a flour barrel. Ephraim snapped
his thumb and finger, and spit on his hands, as though he had
a cord of wood to chop. Aunt Keziah, (that's my wife) she
put her apron up to her eyes and cried as much as half an
hour, as hard as she could cry. I found I was rather choky,
but I took down my pipe and rolled out a few whifs, and so
made out to smoke it off. As soon as Jack had a chance to
shake hands all round and get a little breakfast, he started off
like a streak of chalk to overtake the company and take

So I remain your true friend and fellow-laborer in the
Republikan cause.