- Historic Sites
Last Survivors Of The Revolution
In the misty memories of six centenarians recorded in 1864, the great war lives again
April 1958 | Volume 9, Issue 3
“Afterwards we were stationed in the Mohawk valley. Arnold was our fighting general, and a bloody fellow he was. He didn’t care for nothing; he’d ride right in. It was ‘Come on, boys!’ ‘twasn’t ‘Go, boys!’ He was as brave a man as ever lived. He was darkskinned, with black hair, of middling height. There wasn’t any waste timber on him. He was a stern looking man, but kind to his soldiers. They didn’t treat him right; he ought to have had Burgoyne’s sword. But he ought to have been true. We had true men then; ‘twasn’t as it is now. Everybody was true: the tories we’d killed or driven to Canada.”
“You don’t believe, then, in letting men stay at their homes and help the enemy?”
“Not by a grand sight!” was his emphatic reply. “The men that caught Andre were true. He wanted to get away, offered them everything. Washington hated to hang him; he cried, they said.”
The student of American history will remember the important part which Arnold performed in the battle connected with the surrender of Burgoyne. Mr. Downing was engaged.
“We heard,” he said, “Burgoyne was coming. The tories began to feel triumphant. One of them came in one morning and said to his wife, ‘Ty (Ticonderoga) is taken, my dear.’ But they soon changed their tune. The first day at Bemis Heights both claimed the victory. But by and by we got Burgoyne where we wanted him, and he gave up. He saw there was no use in fighting it out. There’s where I call ‘em gentlemen . Bless your body, we had gentlemen to fight with in those days. When they was whipped they gave up. It isn’t so now.
“Gates was an ‘old granny’ looking fellow. When Burgoyne came up to surrender his sword, he said to Gates, ‘Are you a general? You look more like a granny than you do like a general.’ ‘I be a granny,’ said Gates, ‘and I’ve delivered you of ten thousand men to-day.’
“By and by they began to talk about going to take New York. There’s always policy, you know, in war. We made the British think we were coming to take the city. We drew up in line of battle: the British drew up over there (pointing with his hand). They looked very handsome. But Washington went south to Yorktown. LaFayette laid down the white sticks, and we threw up entrenchments by them. We were right opposite Washington’s headquarters. I saw him every day.”
“Was he as fine a looking man as he is reported to have been?”
“Oh!” he exclaimed, lifting up both his hands and pausing, “but you never got a smile out of him. He was a nice man. We loved him. They’d sell their lives for him.” I asked, “What do you think he would say if he was here now?”
“Say!” exclaimed he, “I don’t know, but he’d be mad to see me sitting here. I tell ‘em if they’ll give me a horse I’ll go as it is. If the rebels come here, I shall sartingly take my gun. I can see best furtherest off.”
“How would Washington treat traitors if he caught them?”
“Hang ‘em to the first tree!” was his reply. …
“When peace was declared,” said the old man, concluding his story of the war, “we burnt thirteen candles in every hut, one for each State.”
Since [Adam Link’s] picture was taken, he has passed away. He was born in Washington county, near Hagerstown, Maryland, November 14, 1761. He died at Sulphur Springs, Crawford county, Ohio, August 15, 1864. His age was one hundred and two.
The circumstances of Mr. Link’s life were humble, and his part in the war unimportant. He enlisted at the age of sixteen, in Wheeling, Virginia, for the frontier service, and spent live years in that service, mostly in the vicinity of Wheeling. …
At the age of twenty-eight years, he married Elizabeth Link, a distant relative. After this, being fond of (hange, he roamed about from place to place. At the age of sixty, he walked one hundred and forty-one, miles from his home in Pennsylvania to Ohio, accomplishing it in three days. When seventy years of age, he set about clearing a farm …
Perpetuating the habits of the frontier service, Mr. Link roughed’ it through life. His constitution must have been of iron to have endured his irregularities and excesses. He paid no attention to his manner of eating, and he was addicted to strong drink. Notwithstanding all, his health was good till near the very close of his life. … Upon the artist when he took his photograph] telling him that he had come a long way to see him, he replied, “You can see me cheap now. Whatever else they may say of me, no man ever could call me a coward.”
At Adam’s Basin, on the Rochester and Niagara Falls division of the Central Railroad, lives Alexander Milliner. Mr. Milliner was born at Quebec on the 14th of March, 1760. … On the 14th of March, of the present year, therefore, Mr. Milliner was one hundred and four years old. …