Comic History of the United States - Bill Nye

Intercolonial and Indian Wars

Intercolonial and Indian wars furnished excitement now from 1689 into the early part of the eighteenth century. War broke out in Europe between the French and English, and the Colonies had to take sides, as did also the Indians.

Canadians and Indians would come down into York State or New England, burn a town, tomahawk quite a number of people, then go back on snow-shoes, having entered the town on rubbers, like a decayed show with no printing.

There was an attack on Haverhill in March, 1697, and a Mr. Dustin was at work in the field. He ran to his house and got his seven children ahead of him, while with his gun he protected their rear till he got them away safely. Mrs. Dustin, however, who ran back into the house to remove a pie from the oven as she feared it was burning, was captured, and, with a boy of the neighborhood, taken to an island in the Merrimac, where the Indians camped. At night she woke the boy, told him how to hit an Indian with a tomahawk so that "the subsequent proceedings would interest him no more," and that evening the two stole forth while the ten Indians slept, knocked in their thinks, scalped them to prove their story, and passed on to safety. Mrs. Dustin kept those scalps for many years, showing them to her friends to amuse them.

King William's War lasted eight years. Queen Anne's War lasted from 1702 to 1713. The brunt of this war fell on New England. Our forefathers had to live in block-houses, with barbed-wire fences around them, and carry their guns with them all the time. From planting the Indian with a shotgun, they soon got to planting their corn with the same agricultural instrument in the stony soil.

The French and Spanish tried to take Charleston in 1706, but were repulsed with great loss, consisting principally of time which they might have employed in raising frogs' legs and tantalizing a bull at so much per tant.

This war lasted eleven years, including stops, and was ended by the treaty of Utrecht (pronounced you-trecked).

After this, what was called the Spanish War continued between England and Spain for some time. An attempt to capture Georgia was made, and a garrison established itself there, with good prospects of taking in the State under Spanish rule, but our able friend Oglethorpe, the Henry W. Grady of his time, managed to accidentally mislay a letter which fell into the enemy's hands, the contents of which showed that enormous reinforcements were expected at any moment. This was swallowed comfortably by the commander, who blew up his impregnable works, changed the address of his Atlanta Constitution, and sailed for home.

Oglethorpe wore a wig, but was otherwise one of our greatest minds. It is said that anybody at a distance of two miles on a clear day could readily distinguish that it was a wig, and yet he died believing that no one had ever probed his great mystery and that his wig would rise with him at the playing of the last trump.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


King George's War, which extended over four years, succeeded, but did not amount to anything except the capture of Cape Breton by English and Colonial troops. Cape Breton was called the Gibraltar of America; but a Yankee farmer who has raised flax on an upright farm for twenty years does not mind scaling a couple of Gibraltars before breakfast; so, without any West Point knowledge regarding engineering, they walked up the hill, and those who were alive when they got to the top took it. It was no Balaklava business and no dumb animal show, but simply revealed the fact that brave men fighting for their eight-dollar homes and a mass of children are disagreeable people to meet on the battle-field.

The French and Indian War lasted nine years,—viz., from 1754 to 1763. From Quebec to New Orleans the French owned the land, and mixed up a good deal socially with the Indians, so that the slender settlement along the coast had arrayed against it this vast line of northern and western forts, and the Indians, who were mostly friendly with the French, united with them in several instances and showed them some new styles of barbarism which up to that time they had never known about.

The half-breed is always half French and half Indian.

The English owned all lands lying on one side of the Ohio, the French on the other, which led a great chief to make a P. P. C. call on Governor Dinwiddie, and during the conversation to inquire with some naivete where the Indian came in. No answer was ever received.

We pause here to ask the question, Why did the pale-face usurp the lands of the Indians without remuneration? It was because the Indian was not orthodox. He may have been lazy from a Puritanical stand-point, and he may also have hunted on the twenty-seventh Sunday after Easter; but still was it not right that he should have received a dollar or two per county for the United States? No one would have felt it, and possibly it might have saved the lives of innocent people.

Verbum sap., however, comes in here with peculiar appropriateness, and the massive-browed historian passes on.

The French had three forts along in the Middle States, as they are now called, and Western Pennsylvania; and George Washington, of whom more will be said in the twelfth chapter, was sent to ask the French to remove these forts. He started at once.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


The commanders were some of them arrogant, but the general, St. Pierre, treated him with great respect, refusing, however, to yield the ground discovered by La Salle and Marquette. The author had the pleasure of being arrested in Paris in 1889, and he feels of a truth, as he often does, that there can be no more polite people in the world than the French. Arrested under all circumstances and in many lands, the author can place his hand on his heart and say that he would go hundreds of miles to be arrested by a John Darm.

Washington returned four hundred miles through every kind of danger, including a lunch at Altoona, where he stopped twenty minutes.

The following spring Washington was sent under General Fry to drive out the French, who had started farming at Pittsburg. Fry died, and Washington took command. He liked it very much. After that Washington took command whenever he could, and soon rose to be a great man.

The first expedition against Fort Duquesne (pronounced du-kane) was commanded by General Braddock, whose portrait we are able to give, showing him at the time he did not take Washington's advice in the Duquesne matter. Later we show him as he appeared after he had abandoned his original plans and immediately after not taking Washington's advice.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


"The Indians," said Braddock, "may frighten Colonial troops, but they can make no impression on the king's regulars. We are alike impervious to fun or fear."

Braddock thought of fighting the Indians by man[oe]uvring in large bodies, but the first body to be man[oe]uvred was that of General Braddock, who perished in about a minute.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


We give the reader, above, an idea of Braddock's soldierly bearing after he had been man[oe]uvring a few times.

It was then that Washington took command, as was his custom, and began to fight the Indians and French as one would hunt varmints in Virginia.

Braddock's men fired by platoons into the trees and tore a few holes in the State line, but when most of the Colonial troops were dead the regulars presented their tournures to the foe and fled as far as Philadelphia, where they each took a bath and had some laundry-work done.

General Forbes took command of the second expedition. He spent most of his time building roads.

Time passed on, and Forbes built viaducts, conduits, culverts, and rustic bridges, till it was November, and they were yet fifty miles from the fort. He then decided to abandon the expedition, on account of the cold, and also fearing that he had not made all of his bridges wide enough so that he could take the captured fort home with him.

Washington, however, though only an aidy kong of General Forbes, decided to take command. His mother had said to him over and over, "George, in an emergency always take command." He done so, as General Rusk would say. As he approached, the French set fire to the fort, and retreated, together with the Indians and Molly Maguires.

Pittsburg now stands on this historic ground, and is one of the most delightful cities of America.

Many other changes were going on at this time. The English got possession of Acadia and the French forts at the head of the Bay of Fundy.

In 1757 General Loudon collected an army for an attack on Louisburg. He drilled his troops all summer, and then gave up the attack because he learned that the French had one more skiff than he had.

The Loudons of America at the time of this writing are more quiet and sensible regarding their ancestry than any of the doodle-bug aristocracy of our promoted peasantry and the crested Yahoos of our cowboy republic.

The Loudons—or Lowdowns—of America had a very large family. Some of them changed their names and moved.

The next year after the fox pass of General Loudon, Amherst and Wolfe took possession of the entire island.

About the time of Braddock's justly celebrated expedition another started out for Crown Point. The French, under Dieskau (pronounced dees-kow), met the army composed of Colonial troops in plain clothes, together with the regular troops led by officers with drawn swords and overdrawn salaries. The regular general, seeing that the battle was lost, excused himself and retired to his tent, owing to an ingrowing nail which had annoyed him all day. Lyman, the Colonial officer now took command, and wrung victory from the reluctant jaws of defeat. For this Johnson, the English general, received twenty-five thousand dollars and a baronetcy, while Lyman received a plated butter-dish and a bass-wood what-not. But Lyman was a married man, and had learned to take things as they came.

Four months prior to the capture of Duquesne, one thousand boats loaded with soldiers, each with a neat little lunch-basket and a little flag to wave when they hurrahed for the good kind man at the head of the picnic,—viz., General Abercrombie,—sailed down Lake George to get a whiff of fresh air and take Ticonderoga.

When they arrived, General Abercrombie took out a small book regarding tactics which he had bought on the boat, and, after refreshing his memory, ordered an assault. He then went back to see how his rear was, and, finding it all right, he went back still farther, to see if no one had been left behind.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


Abercrombie never forgot or overlooked any one. He wanted all of his pleasure-party to be where they could see the fight. In that way he missed it himself. I would hate to miss a fight that way.

The Abercrombies of America mostly trace their ancestry back by a cut-off avoiding the general's line.

Niagara had an expedition sent against it at the time of Braddock's trip. The commander was General Shirley, but he ran out of money while at the Falls and decided to return. This post did not finally surrender till 1759.

This gave the then West to the English. They had tried for one hundred and forty years to civilize it, but, alas, with only moderate success. Prosperous and happy even while sniping in their fox-hunting or canvas-back-duck clothes, these people feel somewhat soothed for their lack of culture because they are well-to-do.

In 1759 General Wolfe anchored off Quebec with his fleet and sent a boy up town to ask if there were any letters for him at the post-office, also asking at what time it would be convenient to evacuate the place. The reply came back from General Montcalm, an able French general, that there was no mail for the general, but if Wolfe was dissatisfied with the report he might run up personally and look over the W's.

Wolfe did so, taking his troops up by an unknown cow-path on the off side of the mountain during the night, and at daylight stood in battle array on the Plains of Abraham. An attack was made by Montcalm as soon as he got over his wonder and surprise. At the third fire Wolfe was fatally wounded, and as he was carried back to the rear he heard some one exclaim,—

"They run! They run!"

"Who run?" inquired Wolfe.

"The French! The French!" came the reply.

"Now God be praised," said Wolfe, "I die happy."

Montcalm had a similar experience. He was fatally wounded. "They run! They run!" he heard some one say.

"Who run?" exclaimed Montcalm, wetting his lips with a lemonade-glass of cognac.

"We do," replied the man.

"Then so much the better," said Montcalm, as his eye lighted up, "for I shall not live to see Quebec surrendered."

This shows what can be done without a rehearsal; also how the historian has to control himself in order to avoid lying.

The death of these two brave men is a beautiful and dramatic incident in the history of our country, and should be remembered by every school-boy, because neither lived to write articles criticising the other.

Five days later the city capitulated. An attempt was made to recapture it, but it was not successful. Canada fell into the hands of the English, and from the open Polar Sea to the Mississippi the English flag floated.

What an empire!

What a game-preserve!

Florida was now ceded to the already cedy crown of England by Spain, and brandy-and-soda for the wealthy and bitter beer became the drink of the poor.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


Pontiac's War was brought on by the Indians, who preferred the French occupation to that of the English. Pontiac organized a large number of tribes on the spoils plan, and captured eight forts. He killed a great many people, burned their dwellings, and drove out many more, but at last his tribes made trouble, as there were not spoils enough to go around, and his army was conquered. He was killed in 1769 by an Indian who received for his trouble a barrel of liquor, with which he began to make merry. He remained by the liquor till death came to his relief.

The heroism of an Indian who meets his enemy single-handed in that way, and, though greatly outnumbered, dies with his face to the foe, is deserving of more than a passing notice.

The French and Indian War cost the Colonists sixteen million dollars, of which the English repaid only five million. The Americans lost thirty thousand men, none of whom were replaced. They suffered every kind of horror and barbarity, written and unwritten, and for years their taxes were two-thirds of their income; and yet they did not murmur.

These were the fathers and mothers of whom we justly brag. These were the people whose children we are. What are inherited titles and ancient names many times since dishonored, compared with the heritage of uncomplaining suffering and heroism which we boast of to-day because those modest martyrs were working people, proud that by the sweat of their brows they wrung from a niggardly soil the food they ate, proud also that they could leave the plough to govern or to legislate, able also to survey a county or rule a nation.