History of the Loyalists: Lieut. James Moody's Narrative

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History of the Loyalists: Lieut. James Moody's Narrative
James Hannay
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HISTORY OF THE LOYALISTS LIEUT. JAMES MOODY’S NARRATIVE Or His Exertions and Sufferings in the Cause of the Government Since the Year 1776. [Continued.] From the ditch they went all around the adjacent field; and as Lieutenant Moody sometimes a little raised his head, he saw them frequently running their bayonets into some small stacks of Indian corn-fodder. This suggested to him an idea, that if he should escape till night, a place they had already explored would be the securest shelter for him. When night came, he got into one of those stacks. The wind was high which prevented the rustling of the leaves of the fodder as he entered from being heard by the people who were at that time passing close by him into the country in quest of him. His position in this retreat was very uncomfortable, for he could neither sit nor lie down. In this erect posture, however, he remained two nights and two days, without a morsel of food, for there was no corn on the stalks, and, which was infinitely more intolerable without drink. He must not here relate, for reasons which may be easily imagined, what became of him immediately after his coming out of this uneasy prison; but he will venture to inform the reader that on the fifth night after his elopement from the ferry-house, he searched the banks of the Delaware till he had the good fortune to meet with a small boat. Into this he jumped; and having waited a little for the tide of flood, which was near, he pushed off, and rowed a considerable distance up the river. During this voyage he was several times accosted by people on the water; but having often times found the benefit of putting on a fearless air, he endeavored to answer them in their own way; and recollecting some of the less polished phrases of the gentlemen of the oar, he used them pretty liberally; and thus was suffered to pass on unsuspected. In due time he left hit boat; and relying on the aid of loyalists, some of whom he knew were everywhere to be found, he went into a part of the country least known to him, and the least likely for him to have thought of; and at length, after many circuitous marches, all in the night, and through pathless courses, in about five days, he once more arrived safe in New York. (Note —Lieut. Moody rowed in the boat up to Philadelphia; the place whence his pursuers first set out in search of him; and which he concluded therefore would be the last in which they would look for him.) All these efforts for life were dictated it would seem, rather by instinct than reason; for occupied as his mind had been with his own dangers, and his own sufferings, he can truly say, his greatest uneasiness was on account of his brother. There was not a ray of hope that he could escape, and less, if possible, that he would be pardoned. He was the son of his old age to a most worthy and beloved father who had himself been a soldier, and who loved and honored the profession. Indeed he was a most amiable young man, as remarkable for the sweetness of his disposition as for his undaunted intrepidity. Excellent youth! Every feeling heart will forgive the tear which is new dropped to thy memory by thy sorrowing brother! He perished by an ignominious death, in the 23d year of his age; the news of which, as may naturally be supposed, well night brought the grey hairs of a venerable father with sorrow to the grave. It did not immediately cost him his life, but it cost him, what is more valuable—his reason! His fellow-prisoner was also sentenced to death; but, on making some pretended discoveries, of no considerable moment, he was reprieved. Lieut. Moody is sensible it contains no information that can interest the reader; yet as he preserves it as a precious relic, he persuades himself every man who is a brother will forgive his inserting an extract or two from his brother’s last letter, dated November 12, 1781, from the New Gael Dungeon, Philadelphia. "Dear Brother,—Let me in treat yon not to grieve at my fate, and the fate of my brother soldier. Betrayed by the man on whom we depended to execute the plan proposed by Capt. Beckwith, we were taken up as spies; and have been tried and condemned and are to die tomorrow. I pray you to forgive him as I do, and Laurence Marr does also, as freely as we hope to be forgiven by our Maker. * * * One more request I have to make to you is, that asking warning by my fate, you will not hereafter to often venture yourself out of the British lines. I am in irons; but thanks to the Almighty, I still have the liberty of thought and speech. O! may I make a good use of them and be prepared as I ought to be, for eternity! Sentence has not been passed on us above two hours, all which time I have employed in prayer, and I bless God, I feel quite cheer-full." Lieut. Moody cannot in justice close this plain and unpretending narrative, already spun out to too great a length without bearing his public testimony, feeble as it may be, in favor of, and returning his thanks, as he now most cordially does, to those brave, loyal Americans, whom though in the ranks only, he shall always think it the greatest honor of his life to have commanded in these expeditions. They were in general men of some property; and without a single exception men of principle. They fought for what appeared to be the true interests of their country as well as to regain their little plantations, and to live in peace under a constitution, which they knew by experience to be auspicious to their happiness. Their conduct in their new profession as soldiers verifies their character; they have been brave, and they have been humane. Their honesty and honor have been uniformly conspicuous. It was a first principle, in all their excursions never to make war against private property; and this has been religiously observed. Some striking instances of their forbearance might be given, if necessary, even when they have been provoked to retaliate by private wrongs and personal insults. And here it ought to be mentioned, with the utmost gratitude and pleasure, that though Mr. Moody in the course of his adventures was often obliged to put his life into the hands of the Loyalists, in different parts of the country, he never was disappointed or deceived by any of them. In the year 1777, he continued among them more than three months at a time, and near as long in 1778. He knew their character, and could safely confide in them. They were men of such inflexible attachment to government, that no temptations could induce them to betray their trust. Though many of them were reduced to indigence and distress, and they knew that almost any price might be obtained by giving up so obnoxious a person, yet they were so far from betraying him, that they often ran great hazards in giving him assistance. Surely such merit as this is worthy of esteem and admiration; and it is humbly hoped that the many thousands in the colonies who possess it, will not be deserted by government, and consigned ever to ruin and wretchedness, without an absolute necessity. [To be continued.]