Early June 1780 Near Springfield New Jersey
Lafayette exchanged glances with his sister as she rode alongside him, astride, as was her usual mode of riding. They were travelling from Tappan to Springfield, a distance of thirty miles, to join General Washington at Morristown, having only spent a week at Tappan since their return from Chester. Michel had stayed in Newport, Rhode Island to await Count Rochambeau's arrival.
Behind them were a scraggly bunch of rebel soldiers accompanying them to camp.
Summer had scarcely arrived. The spring blossoms were still breaking from the cocoon of the harsh winter. The last of the snow had melted only a few weeks ago and the ground once again was springing to life. Greenery was beginning to cover the fields and cattle and sheep grazed peacefully in the pastures. Although the sun overhead warmed them, they knew it may be a month or more before the full force of the summer came to being.
'You look worried, Gilbert,' Stasi observed, 'what is it that bothers you?'
Lafayette frowned as he answered, 'The British are starting to forage again. We are so close to New York that it would be easy for them to surprise us. I was thinking of what precautions we have to take. It is nothing for you to worry about, Stasi. General Washington and I will soon have a warning system in place.'
Stasi's eyes lit up at the thought of some action. Like her brother, inactivity did not wear well with her.
Lafayette caught the gleam in her eyes and shook his head. 'You will not be abroad in any skirmishes which may take place!'
'Gilbert!' she protested innocently, 'I was thinking of something else completely.'
'I know you too well, ma sœur,' he smiled, 'You are longing for some action, as am I, n'est-ce pas?'
Stasi had the good sense to look abashed as she nodded.
'But you are still in disgrace!' he frowned, thinking of her latest escapade, 'I have sent a despatch to the Society. They should arrive tonight or tomorrow.'
'So Jeremy will be here?'
'I plan to send them to Staten Island. They will report on the actual movements of the enemy.'
'Will they not be known?'
'Maybe. Our spy network is thriving behind British lines, but only a few pieces of information are getting out to us. Besides, Henry will surely set a few ambushes for the British.'
Stasi's laughter rang over the countryside at the thought of Henry's little explosions. Her brother grinned at her then fell quiet.
They rode in companionable silence for the remainder of the journey.
General Washington greeted his youngest General with a warm embrace. Lafayette relayed information of British movements to his superior officer, telling him that General Clinton was still in the Carolinas and the British, under the command of the Hessian, General Knyphausen, were preparing for an assault on Elizabethtown.
The two generals then called their colleagues together for a briefing. They did not intend to allow the British to reach Morristown. There were many small villages to be defended and these would be their main priority. A few strategies were thrown around, but nothing tangible could be done until further information was received.
The next day - Chester, Pennsylvania.
It was mid-morning and Jeremy and Elizabeth were strolling along the main street of Chester when a young man accosted them them.
'Sir, my name is Jonathon Spokes,' the boy said in a low tone, 'I have a message for you.'
Jeremy's eyebrows rose. 'From?' he queried.
The boy eyed Elizabeth and Jeremy nodded. 'You can speak safely.'
'Sir, I would rather not.'
'Meet us in the smithy in ten minutes.'
The messenger scurried away and Jeremy turned to his companion. 'Duty calls, Bess,' he said wryly, 'Will you come to the smithy?'
'Uncle John will be looking for me, Jeremy. I will see you tonight?'
'In the barn. I'll tell you all about it then.'
He watched her walk away and saw her uncle join her a moment later. She glanced over her shoulder and waved to him.
Jeremy had found Henry with Isak in the smithy and had informed them of what had passed between him and the young messenger, who arrived scant minutes later.
'Sir, Lafayette wishes you to travel to Morristown. He sent this.'
Spokes handed Jeremy a sealed missive as Isak and Henry looked on. Jeremy broke the seal and read the message - 'British movements needed. Elizabethtown.' Jeremy knew the General's writing to know well enough who had written it.
'Spokes, go back to our friend and tell him we are on our way.'
Spokes saluted and left the smithy as Jeremy turned to Isak and Henry. 'We haven't had time to get bored, have we?' he grinned, 'Be ready to ride within the hour. If we ride hard we will arrive in Morristown sometime tonight. I must let Elizabeth know.'
Luck was with him!
Elizabeth and her uncle had not yet left the town. He found her waiting in the sulky as her uncle spoke to some town council members.
'You don't have to tell me, Jeremy,' Elizabeth greeted him.
'Tell you what?'
'You have to leave now.'
'You know me too well, Bess. Lafayette wants to see us at Morristown.'
'What will I tell your father if he asks?'
'That you don't know where I am. He won't query that,' Jeremy grinned as he took her hand and squeezed it gently.
'Be careful, Jeremy!' she whispered in farewell as he relinquished her hand and took his leave to prepare for the journey.
By the time Jeremy arrived back at the smithy, Isak and Henry were prepared for some hard riding.
They mounted and headed the horses north out of town turning in a westerly direction an hour later.
Morristown New Jersey
'Who goes there?'
It was two in the morning and the Yankee Doodle Society had ridden hard. They were tired and saddle sore when the sentry challenged them. They were only a mile from their destination.
Jeremy spoke for all three. 'General Lafayette is expecting us, Private. May I ask your name?'
'Wilson – Private Anthony Wilson. Do you have papers?' the sentry enquired.
'I am Jeremy Larkin,' Jeremy introduced himself as he dismounted, 'and I have a message from General Lafayette!' He showed the young soldier the message he had received.
'How do I know this is genuine?'
'Take us to Lafayette, Private, or do I have to pull rank on you!' Jeremy was trying hard not to laugh at the sentry as that young man gaped at him.
'Sir, I have orders not to let anyone pass.'
'We'll wait here while you fetch the General or Sergeant Boggs then.'
'Sir, I cannot leave my post.'
Jeremy glanced in frustration at Henry and Isak and shook his head, then spoke again, 'Then how do we get to General Lafayette?'
'Let General Lafayette come to you!' came a familiar voice from their left. Like a wraith the young Frenchman appeared from the trees. He smiled at the sentry. 'Private, you have defended your post well.' Then he turned to address the trio, 'It was remiss of me not to inform the sentries of your impending arrival, so I came to meet you. Welcome, gentlemen!'
'Sir,' Jeremy addressed Lafayette, 'How did you know the time of our arrival?'
'A guess, mon ami. I knew you would ride hard. I have been in this vicinity for almost an hour. I would have waited all night if it had been necessary! Come, we will go to my quarters and I will tell you about this mission.'
They dismounted and, leading the horses, followed their superior officer into the camp where they were shown into his quarters.
Lafayette wasted no time acquainting them with the mission at hand. 'Stasi will be with you, but is not to go too far abroad as she is known to some of the British officers.'
'How is that, sir?' Henry queried, 'I thought she always kept a low profile.'
'In the last week she has been to some gatherings of the officers without my knowledge. One of them recognized her from Gloucester and informed his colleagues. She was lucky to escape capture. That is why I brought her here with me.'
'To keep her safe?'
'Non, to keep her in line!' the young General laughed.
'Is that not an impossible task?' Henry smirked.
Lafayette raised expressive eyebrows but did not comment.
'I wish to know immediately of any British attempt to cross from Staten Island to Elizabethtown.'
'If we cannot bring word personally we will send it post haste.'
'If you find yourselves in that situation, Stasi will be able to bluff her way through. It would have to be as Rachel, though.'
'Heaven help the man who says 'no' to her!' Jeremy had them chuckling at this comment.
'She would be able to get through the British lines more easily than you,' Lafayette continued, 'I cannot say how, but trust her with that task. Let us just say she wishes to perform an experiment.'
Questions rose to the fore from the young men, but they wisely remained unasked.
Lafayette showed them to their quarters sometime later and left them with 'I expect you to leave early tomorrow. I will inform Stasi to meet you at dawn.'
Staten Island New York
'Where is Stasi?' Jeremy queried Henry and Isak when they met for a drink in the tavern in the early afternoon.
'I was talking to her not a half hour ago,' Henry replied.
'I saw her leaving the inn about twenty minutes ago. I thought she was going to meet you.'
'Rachel or Stasi?' Jeremy flung back at the Negro.
"She was dressed as Rachel, Jeremy. I thought it odd that she would meet you dressed like that.'
'We have to find her!' Jeremy drained his drink and stood up just as their missing companion entered the bar.
As Stasi made her way across the room, she received many an admiring glance from the male portion of the customers. A few speculative suggestions were heard as she moved closer to them. With her usual aplomb she ignored them all, her gaze fixed on her friends.
'Where have you been?" Jeremy demanded of her as she joined the table.
'Getting the information you require,' she stated innocently, in a low tone to match his.
'Stasi, you know your orders!'
'Jeremy,' she pouted prettily, 'do you not want the news I have?'
'I do, but first you will tell me where you have been!'
'I visited a few soldiers.'
'Is your hearing that bad, Jeremy? I visited a few soldiers,' she reiterated, 'At the barracks.'
'Lafayette will want to hang me when he hears of this!' Jeremy groaned.
'Gilbert will see things my way! Come to my room if you wish to learn anything.'
With that remark she turned on her heel and left the tavern, leaving Jeremy, Henry and Isak staring after her.
Congregating in Stasi's room only minutes later, Henry posed the question of protocol - Was it right that the males were in a female's room?
'Je m'en fous!' Stasi swore, 'You are here and I do not care about protocol!'
'But…' Henry made to protest, but Jeremy held his hands up.
'Enough!' he ordered, 'Now, Stasi, what have you learned?'
'Tomorrow night! The British start to cross to Elizabethtown before midnight! As you know, General Clinton is in the south. General Knyphausen, the Jaeger, is in charge and he has decided to attempt an attack on Morristown. He hopes to destroy our army and the stores.'
Jeremy was writing swiftly as she spoke – jotting all the information on a piece of paper.
'Stasi, can you get this information to Lafayette?'
There was a sense of urgency in Jeremy's voice as he handed Stasi the folded paper.
'I will get it to Gilbert, Jeremy. You three must follow me as soon as possible!'
'Even if we have to go south first, we'll meet you in camp tomorrow or the next day.'
Stasi nodded in reply before asking, 'How long before we start to miss you?'
'Don't even think about it!' Jeremy chuckled, 'If we run into trouble we will send word somehow.'
'I will change and leave immediately.'
Stasi left them and headed for her room where she changed into a gown of emerald green. After secreting her weapons upon her person, she made up her face and sedately walked out of the building twenty minutes later. Riding a dreaded side-saddle she headed for the ferry, working a on tale of how her lady's maid had fallen foul of the law and had to be left behind for the remainder of her journey to visit a gravely ill relative in Chatham.
Three hours later Stasi was handing the information to her brother.
'How did you come through the British lines so quickly?' he asked.
She lowered her eyes and refused to look at him.
'You used your ….!' Lafayette was about to accuse her when she cut him off.
'Do not even mention that, Gilbert!'
'But you did? Was that the experiment you were going to try?'
'It was! It was the only way I could return safely to you.'
'Jeremy will learn sooner or later that you are not what you seem. What are you going to do then?'
'I will cross that bridge when I come to it, grand frere.'
He shook his head and frowned at her. 'Are they coming back?'
'They will return safely, Gilbert. I have arranged safe passage for them.'
'What have you done this time?' he groaned.
'You do not have to know! Let us just say that the British sentries were open to suggestion.'
'Stasi!' He dropped his head into his hands, 'You promised me you would not ..'
'I made no such promise! I only said I would not help you unless absolutely necessary!'
'What am I going to do with you?' He sighed in exasperation as she exited the room, only to return minutes later dressed in her usual garb of breeches, shirt and boots.
'Are you coming with me to see his Excellency?'
'Of course, Gilbert. I will be able to tell him of other happenings in New York.'
'What did you do while there?'
'You will learn of that soon,' she said archly as they walked towards Washington's headquarters.
On hearing Stasi's information, Washington immediately dispatched a messenger to Colonel Elias Dayton, commander of the third New Jersey, who sent Ensign Moses Ogden of Colonel Oliver Spencer's fourth additional regiment to the crossroads where the roads from Elizabeth point and De Hart's point met, with orders to fire one volley at any troops that appeared on the roads, then retreat.
Lafayette listened with astonishment as Stasi regaled George Washington of her antics in New York. The young General did not know whether to chastise her for disobeying orders or to hug her for garnering the information the rebels needed in such a short time. He watched as Washington laughed with her and asked more about the unsuspecting British soldiers she had hoodwinked into parting with the information.
He was still of two minds by the time they repaired to their quarters.'I will ignore your blatant disregard of orders this once,' Lafayette lectured sternly, 'but any more and I will have you confined to quarters! Est-ce que tu comprends ce que je dis?'
Stasi avoided his intent gaze as she hung her head and answered in little more than a whisper, 'Oui, ma frere.'
'Stasi, look at me!' she was ordered.
Her head came up suddenly and she met his troubled eyes.
'I do not wish to be the one to inform Michel of your capture or demise, ma petite. You are as mortal as the rest of us, even if you do not seem to think so.'
'Gilbert, I promise I will be careful!'
'Sometimes that is not enough, Stasi! You have to be fully vigilant and ready to act when the need arises.'
'Do you think I do not know this, Gilbert?'
'Even though Jeremy, Henry and Isak have had first hand knowledge of your power, you made them forget. Jeremy is not a fool, cherie, he will not be able to ignore the subtle clues you are leaving.'
'Maybe I wish them to know?' she asked hopefully, with a quirk of her lips.Lafayette threw hands in the air in exasperation. 'J'abandonne!' he chuckled as he turned to leave the room.
'Surrender? Tu? Jamais!!!' Stasi threw after him, which made him turn only to give a hearty guffaw of laughter at the surprised look on her face.
'Go to bed, cherie, it is late. I have paperwork to finish,' he dismissed her.
June 6th, 1780
The first British troops boarded boats on Staten Island to cross and secure a landing near Elizabethtown before midnight. General Thomas Stirling commanded this advance guard, composed of the light infantry companies of the British thirty-seventh and thirty-eighth foot regiments. They landed around midnight at a marsh on De Hart's point, and checked it for any American sentries. Once it was found to be clear, the remainder of the regiments landed, then the other two regiments of the division - Hessians under the division second in command, Colonel Ludwig Johann Adolph von Wurmb.
Instead of light infantry, the Hessians had Jaegers, who carried rifles, and did a similar duty as the light infantry - covering flanks and retreats. Once this advance corps was landed and moving inland, another four thousand five hundred men would follow to support them.
Jeremy, Henry and Isak were only a half hour ahead of the British, having crossed on the ferry as the British amassed at the dock. How they made it through the British lines was a mystery to them! Not once were they challenged!
A detachment of militia met them at the crossroads and guided them to the heights.
The trio were above Elizabethtown with Colonel Spencer when the first British troops landed. It was a clear night although no moon shone to show the way. They could see the faint flickering of lanterns from their vantage point. Isak handed the spyglass to Jeremy who, after viewing the scene, turned to his companions and spoke urgently, 'General Lafayette will want to know about this! Those lanterns indicate more than two regiments.'
After a wait of an hour or more, a column of troops was detected marching down the road, lead by Tories with darkened lanterns, leading a man on horseback. A volley of shots echoed through the still night then an ominous silence. The British had started their march! Ensign Ogden ordered his men to present and fire, and they hit General Stirling in the thigh. The British column halted, as Ogden and his men made their escape back to the main body.
Colonel Dayton decided to move his regiment to Jelf's Hill, overlooking the bridge in Elizabethtown, with Colonel Oliver Spencer and the Fourth regiment. He ordered his son, Captain Jonathan Dayton, to write a note to General Washington.
When Colonel Dayton's regiment joined them the Colonel handed Jeremy the note his son had written.
'Get this to General Washington as fast as you can, Captain.'
Jeremy nodded and indicated to Henry and Isak that they should prepare to ride.
They galloped down the hill and through the mountains to Morristown, arriving within the hour.
Washington, even though it was after two in the morning, was in a meeting with his officers. He looked up as Jeremy entered the room. Lafayette stood and walked over to greet his friend.
'Jeremy, you have more information?'
'Sir, I have a note from Colonel Dayton to General Washington.'
Jeremy turned to Washington and saluted.
'I apologise for disturbing your meeting, Your Excellency,' Jeremy said, 'But Colonel Dayton ordered me to get this to you.'
'Captain Larkin, you are welcome. May I see the note?'
As he read Washington's brow furrowed. 'This is exactly what we've been waiting for!' He exclaimed, 'Dayton says there are four to five thousand men and twelve field pieces! We will not allow those troops to come any closer to Morristown!'
Washington decided on a night attack after the information arrived from Colonel Dayton. But, before the Americans could form for the attack, a terrific thunderstorm broke, and the attack was called off. The storm allowed the British to retreat unmolested, but caused confusion in moving out in the complete dark. It was almost midnight on June seventh when the British arrived back at Elizabethtown, taking a defensive position, their men without tents.
Jeremy and the Society sought permission to harass the British while they were without the shelter of tents.
Lafayette gave that permission on the proviso he joined them in this endeavour, aware that Washington would not allow it, but still determined to relieve the boredom which was assuredly overtaking him.
Leaving the camp under cover of darkness two hours after midnight, five figures on horseback were seen to disappear into the forest. The young General and his sister joined Jeremy, Henry and Isak as they rode towards Connecticut Farms. They met with Colonel Dayton and explained their presence in the area.
Making their way through the trees to Elizabethtown they found the unsuspecting British had only a few sentries posted.
'Only five sentries?' Lafayette spoke softly, 'Do they not have any sense?'
Jeremy chuckled, 'That will make this so much easier! Henry, are your little surprises ready?'
'Of course, Jeremy, but we must be careful.'
'We are going to take out the two western sentries then have some fun. Stasi, can you take that one while Isak takes the other?'
'Oui, Jeremy, It will only take a few seconds to do that!'
'Now! This is what we are going to do ….' Jeremy reiterated the pre-arranged plan then asked, 'Are you all ready?'
Receiving nods all round he signalled to Stasi who accosted the sentry she had been allocated. Then something strange happened - she disappeared for a second only to appear like a ghost in front of the redcoat. She seemed to stare at him intently before he could rally his senses, then he lay down, seemingly asleep. Isak dealt the other sentry a blow to the jaw which left him unconscious on the ground. Jeremy watched Stasi in amazement, but when Henry and Lafayette didn't comment, he thought he must have imagined everything. Stasi and Isak rejoined the others as Jeremy signalled the all clear.
Pandemonium broke loose in the ranks as small explosions echoed through the darkness. Each of the five had been given some small pouches by Henry and threw them, one at a time, among the soldiers who were sitting on the ground. The pouches contained a detonator and some gunpowder that exploded on contact with anything solid. Unable to enter the camp they targeted any artillery they could see. Six cannon, a wagon full of canisters were their next targets. As the projectiles hit and exploded, so too did the gunpowder on the wagon, causing a thunderous and spectacular explosion. Jeremy and the General exchanged satisfied glances.
While confusion reigned the five made good their escape, reaching their horses half a mile away, mounting and riding to safety.
Once back in the camp at Morristown Lafayette turned to the group, addressing Jeremy, 'Mon ami, Henry's little surprises are extremely useful,' he grinned, 'I wonder what the British are thinking now?'
'They are probably thinking that there was a full regiment!' Jeremy chuckled.
'Sir,' Henry interjected, 'I must prepare some more explosives. Do we have any spare gunpowder in the camp?'
'There should be some you can use, Henry, but how much would you need?'
'Three barrels?' the apothecary said hopefully.
Lafayette, knowing the shortage of such a precious commodity, thought for a moment. 'I think we can spare two. Would that be enough?'
'I can work with that, but three would be the ideal solution for the work I must do.'
'I will check the store in the morning, that is all I can promise you.'
'Thank you, sir,' Henry nodded and lapsed into silence as he mulled over the canisters and detonators he already had.
Lafayette glanced at his fob watch and declared, 'We should all get some sleep! It is almost four!'
Isak and Henry filed out of the building and repaired to their quarters while Jeremy requested to speak to the General privately.
Lafayette nodded as Stasi retired to her room.
'Is something wrong, Jeremy?' Lafayette queried once they were alone.
'Not wrong exactly, sir, more puzzling. Strange things have happened recently and I have no explanation for them.'
'Aye, sir! We were not challenged once while returning from our mission. The British sentries seemed to be expecting us and did not even ask for our identification. How did Stasi get through the lines so fast? And how did she get in front of that sentry without him seeing her? What happened to make him go to sleep?'
Lafayette chuckled, 'I cannot tell you the answer to those questions, mon ami, but be assured, it is all to the good.'
'You know something?'
'I cannot lie. Oui, I do, but it is not for me to enlighten you.'
'Non, but I will!' came a voice from behind them.
Both men looked around as Stasi entered the room.
'Stasi! I thought you were abed!' Jeremy stated.
Stasi looked him in the eye as she stated, 'Jeremy, I employed telepathy on that sentry.'
'Telepathy? That is but a myth!' Jeremy scoffed.
'Think about it! The power of suggestion is a potent weapon!'
Jeremy shook his head.
'Jeremy,' Lafayette spoke softly, 'Stasi is telling you the truth. You have witnessed this before.'
Comprehension dawned on Jeremy. 'Boston?' he exclaimed, 'I vaguely remember you somehow appeared in Boston even though you were in France. I thought I had dreamed all that!'
'That was my way of making you forget, Jeremy,' Stasi explained, 'but the mind is powerful. Sometimes even telepathy is not enough. Isak and Henry have completely forgotten that episode. You, apparently, are not as susceptible as they.'
'But why did you want me to forget?'
'The less people who know about this, the better. Gilbert and I have kept the secret all our lives. That is why I am going to suggest you forget again.'
'Jeremy, if you should inadvertently mention something ….' She left the rest unsaid.
'I really do not want to forget, Stasi.'
'I will think about that! We will not mention this subject for a while, Jeremy. Meanwhile, do not even think about it until I speak to you again, Captain.'
Jeremy grinned and saluted, 'Aye, sir!'
He was still chuckling when he left the siblings minutes later.
June 8th 1780
They didn't get to sleep, because before dawn, Washington ordered the troops to cook two days rations, to have forty cartridges each, and prepare to march. The coast watchers would not expect help from Washington until noon.
At six, the British moved out from Elizabethtown, and small units of militia began to fire from their front and flanks. Normally the light infantry, trained for flank protection, were sent out to prevent them from serious moves against a British column. Now they had none with them and units without this training had to serve.
Later that morning, Washington sent dispatches to Congress and recalled Colonel Harry Lee with his Legion, which had started for Virginia. The Legion was a mixed unit that contained infantry, dragoons and artillery elements.
General Maxwell ordered his men across the Rahway River, so they could make a stand with the river to their front.
Washington, having reached Chatham, sent his Life Guards, his personal protection unit of one hundred and fifty-six men, forward to help General Maxwell.
General Maxwell crossed the river again to engage the British.
Lee and his dragoons arrived at Morristown three days later. Washington ordered all horses and cattle within five miles of the enemy be collected and driven away from the British. Stasi and Jeremy joined in this exercise, enjoying the thrill of the drive.
Hastily built fences had been erected around a meadow near Jockey Hollow. It was to here that the livestock was driven, over the mountains from Connecticut Farms, Chatham and surroundings. For most of the day groups of riders were herding stock into the meadow, sometimes as small a herd of ten, others thirty or more. It was dusty work at best and, by the time all had finished, they were ready for a quick dip in Primrose Brook to cool off then back to the camp at Jockey Hollow, leaving only a few men to watch over the cattle and horses.
Once their work was finished Jeremy and Stasi returned to Morristown to join Lafayette in readiness for the battle they knew was to come.
Two days later Washington met with militia officers and had half of the militia sent home, keeping only one thousand five hundred men with him as forward troops. Most of the men kept were the ones who had marched farther. The men who lived in the area could be called out at any time.
Over the following days the militia continued to harass the enemy, sniping at outposts and preventing patrols. The British built a bridge of boats from Staten Island to Elizabethtown Point, in case of a hurried retreat. The Hessians believed that seven thousand militia were nearby. Colonels Dayton and Spencer decided to move to a point halfway between Elizabethtown and Connecticut Farms. As they reached the edge of the village, General Maxwell arrived to inform them that he had ordered the first and second to Connecticut Farms, and they should fall back to there. They would be able to call out the militia faster if they could see the British marching out of Elizabethtown towards the village.
General Knyphausen decided to break off and retire to high ground two and a half miles nearer Elizabethtown for the night. The Americans followed them and harassed their retreat, firing on their pickets until dark.
That night General Knyphausen was informed by General Clinton's aide that General Clinton was due back from the South any day with more troops. This changed the British agenda - you do not commit part of a force if more men will soon be available! He decided to move to Elizabethtown where they could easily be reinforced.
The British quietly moved out, barely getting the word to some of their pickets. One non-com and his squad from the British Twenty-second Foot did not get the word and were captured the next morning.
Jeremy, Henry and Isak were among the Americans who had harassed the British. With the British contingent moving back to Elizabethtown, the three of them followed at a safe distance.
Jeremy called a halt short of the town and spoke to Henry.
'Do you think we can stir up the hornet's nest again?'
'I don't see why not!' Henry answered with a wry grin.
'We will need to find out where their ammunition is being stored. Meet back here in a half hour.'
They separated to reconnoitre the camp.
Henry and Jeremy met at the rendezvous point but there was no sign of Isak. They waited for ten minutes before deciding to ascertain Isak's fate, but not before Jeremy ordered Henry to stay out of sight.
Jeremy stole silently into the camp behind the officer's tent. He melted into the shadows and froze as a soldier led Isak into the tent. Moving closer than was safe Jeremy listened intently.
'Colonel. I found this man wandering around the perimeter of the camp, sir.'
'Dismissed, Corporal. I'll deal with this.'
The soldier left the tent, passing only metres from where Jeremy lay hidden. Jeremy breathed a sigh if relief before concentrating on the conversation going on in the tent.
'But, suh,' he heard Isak say, 'Ah'm late fo' dinner!'
'Late for dinner? You will be later still if I don't have some answers soon! What were you doing near the camp?'
'Ah wuz goin' to the tavern with friends and got separated from dem.'
'The tavern? The tavern?' the officer scoffed, 'Did you know the tavern is off limits to civilians?'
'Nay, suh, ah did not!'
Jeremy could picture Isak in this duffer role and chuckled softly. He moved as his foot cramped and must have made a slight sound as the officer called, 'Who's out there?'
Realising his predicament he quickly left the scene and climbed a tree to view the camp. Minutes later he saw Isak leaving the tent alone, heading for their meeting point. He went to shinny down the tree, but stopped suddenly as a soldier detached himself from the shadows and followed Isak. Jeremy decided to trail them.
Isak, unaware of company, made for the rendezvous.
Henry heard the footsteps before he could make out the smithy's shape.
'Isak!' he breathed thankfully, 'Thank God you're safe!'
'I have had a hazardous half hour, Henry,' Isak grinned, 'The British decided they didn't want anything to do with a duffer.'
'Did you send them out of their minds?' Henry laughed, but it changed to a gurgle as he saw the soldier, rifle at the ready, emerge behind Isak.
'What's wrong?' Isak took one look at Henry's face and spun around, seeing the danger.
'All right, you two, I think you'd better come with me! Start walking!' the redcoat ordered, little knowing Jeremy had silently materialized behind him.
'I don't think so, Corporal! Drop the weapon!'
The corporal jumped in fright and his mouth gaped as he turned and stared at the gun Jeremy held. Isak took the rifle from his nerveless fingers and stated, 'I did say 'friends', corporal!' then turned to Jeremy, 'What will we do with him?'
'Tie him to a tree and gag him. They may find him in the morning. We have work to do.'
'The ammunition is stored in a barn on the southern perimeter, Jeremy. It should be easy to plant the charges,' Isak said, 'Little did they know I took note of all that when they marched me into the camp.'
'Thanks, Isak, Henry and I will go ahead. As soon as you finish securing him, join us.'
They found the barn easily enough. Four sentries had been posted, but this didn't worry them. They waited a few minutes before Isak joined them then they took out two of the guards and quickly entered the barn. Henry indicated where the charges would be best laid and Jeremy and Isak set to work while Henry attached the detonators. The job was soon done and Jeremy cautiously opened the door a fraction. The two remaining guards were talking about ten yards from the door.
Jeremy turned to his companions and gave a wry smile, 'Maybe we should have taken out all the guards! Did either of you notice an escape door at the back?'
Both Isak and Henry shook their heads.
'Well, we have to find another way out or somehow distract the guards! They are too close to the door.'
Isak was on his hands and knees scrabbling in the hay for something.
'What are you doing?' Henry asked.
'If I can find a stone to throw I think I could distract them long enough for you two to get out.' 'What about you?' Henry was concerned.
'Don't worry about that! I'll meet you soon. Found something!' Isak triumphantly held up a small metal bar. He strode to the door, opened it a fraction and tossed the bar into the trees, grinning at the racket it made as it hit a tree.
The guards glanced at each other and bolted toward the sound.
'Move!' Jeremy ordered, trailing gunpowder behind him.
Henry and Isak fled as he bent to light the powder. He followed seconds later.
They found their horses were still where they had tethered them. As they mounted a loud explosion rent the air. They looked back to see Elizabethtown lit up by the explosion. Not stopping to survey the damage they made their way back to Morristown at a gallop.
When they reported to Lafayette he listened to Jeremy's description of events and chuckled, 'They may think twice after losing more ammunition.'
'They are determined to reach Morristown. Clinton will bring more ammunition and men.'
'I know, Jeremy. We still must be vigilant. You had a lucky escape tonight. I cannot concede any more raids without my knowledge, Captain.'
'Aye, sir. We will lie low for a while,' Jeremy yawned, 'Now I think it best if we all get some sleep.'
Once in their quarters they were soon sound asleep.
On the twenty-third of June, at five in the morning, the British moved out of Elizabethtown Point, and captured the Elizabethtown outposts and three cannon. The Americans still in Elizabethtown evacuated the town, alerting General Maxwell, just west of the town, and General Greene. General Nathanael Greene ordered the planks from the bridges over the Rahway river be removed, leaving the bridges on the branch behind them intact, in case the men defending the first bridges had to retreat. General Maxwell told Colonel Dayton to defend the Galloping Hill Road from Connecticut Farms, and sent Lee's Legion to defend the Vauxhall Road.
Washington's main army was waiting at Chatham for word their presence was needed. Lafayette was getting decisively restless after so much inaction and sought permission to move his regiment forward a few miles. Washington granted that permission and within a day Lafayette and his troops were camped on the heights above Springfield.
June 25th 1780 Connecticut Farms
The Reverend James Caldwell had left to help rally the militia to the north. The British called him 'the Rebel High Priest' for his sermons on liberty and his service as a deputy quartermaster for the American army. His wife, Hannah, stayed at home with their baby and a three year old toddler.
Mrs. Caldwell herself felt no alarm. She had hid several articles of value in a bucket and let it down into the well and had filled her pockets with silver and jewellery. She saw that the house was put in order, and then dressed herself with care, thinking that should the enemy enter her dwelling, she might receive them as a lady. She then took the infant in her arms, retired to her chamber, the window of which commanded a view of the road, and seated herself upon the bed. The alarm was given that the soldiers were at hand. But she felt confidence that no one could have the heart to do injury to the helpless women in her house. She had just nursed the infant and given it to the nurse, who was in the room. A soldier left the road, and crossing a space of ground diagonally to reach the house, came to the window of the room, put his gun close to it, and fired. Two balls entered the breast of Mrs. Caldwell - she fell back on the bed and died.
After the murder, Mrs. Caldwell's dress was cut open, and her pockets were rifled by the soldiers.
Neighbours moved her body before the British set fire to her house and reduced it to ashes.
When the British reached the west end of the village, they paused to regroup and reorganize units that had been disorganized in the advance. General Maxwell decided to attack, and drove them back some distance before the British counterattacked, forcing General Maxwell back.
General Maxwell ordered the men back across the Rahway River once again. At this time the militia arrived with an old iron four-pounder. They stationed it behind the plankless bridge, on a knoll that gave them a good field of fire for three quarters of a mile. The cannon fire broke the British attack, after they had twice reached the bridge.
Connecticut Farms was now empty of armed Americans. The British troops begin to loot homes, chop down orchards, and then fire the homes and buildings. Smoke from these fires could be seen for miles.
Lafayette was standing on the heights above Springfield with Reverend Caldwell when James indicated that he could see the smoke ascending from the town. He lowered the spyglass he had been using and turned to face the General.
'Thank God,' he exclaimed to Lafayette, 'the fire is not in the direction of my house.'
He would learn later how wrong he was!
The General knew that, before the day was out, he would be fighting a major battle defending the Cause in which he so passionately believed. He rode down the hill to the valley where his command awaited orders.
At Hobard Gap, the firing was heard and an ancient cannon was fired to sound the alarm. The bonfire signal fire was lit to summon the militia.
General Maxwell posted small groups of Continentals with the early militia to delay the British. He posted the remainder of his men along a defile in the middle of Connecticut Farms.
As the British advanced, the fire they received grew. Militia units formed up and fired from the woods, orchards, stone fences, and buildings along the road. They would advance and attack, be driven off, only to return later. The British flanking Light Infantry and Jaegers grew tired and frustrated. A large number of British troops had to be diverted from the attack to defend the flanks. The militia's persistent attacks against the British flanks prevented the Continentals holding the front from being overwhelmed.
General Greene himself took command of the militia who were present under General Philemon Dickinson, and positioned them behind Colonel Shreve's men. A few militia were forward, harassing the British advance. As the British suddenly came out, the militia outposts were scattered or overrun, and now they made little resistance. Most of the available militia had gathered under General Dickinson and were with General Greene - less than five hundred men. More militia began to march to join the American forces as they learned of the British advance.
At Connecticut Farms, Colonel Dayton placed his men on each side of the defile they had defended on the first attack on Connecticut Farms. He placed one company and the militia to the left in an orchard, and to the right the remainder of his men in a thicket.
They were attacked by a regiment of the New Jersey Volunteers, a loyalist unit, who soon found themselves outmatched. The Volunteers looked to support from Simcoe's Queen's Rangers. Simcoe, rather than join the fight directly, calmly marched his men down the road between Colonel Dayton's left and right, without firing a shot. The American's were taken by surprise by the rapid advance, and failed to prevent it. The Rangers, once behind Colonel Dayton's men, attacked the left, and the militia broke and ran. Colonel Dayton held his regulars together and made a fighting retreat across the river to the Rhode Islanders.
General Knyphausen joined the Volunteers and Rangers with the rest of the British forces. He sent the Rangers, Volunteers, a Guard regiment and some other British regiments to attack the Vauxhall Bridge to the east. He kept the German units under his own command.
Once in position the British forces made a simultaneous attack. The German troops made several attempts to take the bridge, but were repulsed by the single cannon on a rise behind the Rhode Islanders. Once the British brought up their own guns, they killed Captain Tom Thompson commanding the gun and disabled it. They then rushed the bridge again, getting a sergeant and a few privates over its bare runners, but they were shot down on the other side.
The Jaegers then split to the flanks, the British Thirty-seventh and Thirty-eighth Regiments moved to the centre and attacked across the river, which is only a few feet deep. Under heavy fire from both the infantry and the British cannons, Colonel Angell's men held out for almost a half hour. They fought five times their number!
Gradually Colonel Angell's men were under fire from front and both sides. They made a fighting retreat to the next bridge. The British continued to advance. This branch of the river was also easily fordable, and the British forces attacked across it again. They were stopped. They brought up cannon to fire on the Americans, and sent the Thirty-eighth Regiment to attack the American right. This flank attack was halted when a unit of Continentals in a stone house opened fire, and then a militia unit came out in a counter attack, forcing them back. The militia were in turn driven back when they advanced close enough to come under fire by the British massed forces.
When the British advanced again on the right, General Greene ordered his men back to the high ground reserves. Once in possession of the town, the British halted. General Greene also sent Lieutenant Colonel Barber to check on the Vauxhall Road.
To the east, on the Vauxhall Road, General Lee's Legion and Ensign Ogden's Regiment, with a good number of militia on the flank, were placed in a line to each side of the bridge. When the Rangers and Volunteers again lead the attack, General Lee realized that his line was too thin to hold. He made a fighting retreat across the west branch of the river. General Lee placed his men by companies again to cover the road, but again Simcoe declined firing and brazenly marched across the bridge, formed and attacked. At the same time the Volunteers skirmished with the militia on the right, and the Light Infantry went around his left. The Light Infantry fought a series of sharp small fights across a thicket filled ruin. Finally they brought Lee's men under a flanking fire, and more British were forming for a larger attack.
Lieutenant Colonel Barber, arriving on the scene, realized General Lee needed help, and reported back to General Greene who ordered the other two Rhode Island regiments to move in for support. He also sent a cannon.
When they arrived General Lee was falling back again to the slopes of the Short Hills. When the additional four hundred regulars arrived the British halted, seeing the militia were beginning to mass forces on the mountain above them. The Rangers continued to advance until the American cannon took them under fire. British Major General Mathew decided to take a cross roads into Springfield and rejoin General Knyphausen.
Having watched the militia from the heights Lafayette decided it was time for action.
He led his regiment into the fray with Stasi beside him and Jeremy, Henry and Isak to his right preparing some of Henry's 'emergency ammunition'. They attacked the British on their weak right flank.
Stasi veered away from her brother to engage a soldier in swordplay as Lafayette gave the order to dismount and open fire. She was too nimble on her feet and soon had him at her mercy. She led him from the fighting and handed him over to a militiaman to take prisoner then ran back to her waiting horse, mounted and rode back into the fray.
She lost sight of Lafayette, but knew he would be in the thick of things and could look after himself.
Stasi fought as if the devil himself was after her. She used all her wits on the ground and on horseback, using both her weaponry and her fists. For an hour she fought beside seasoned soldiers of the Continental army. With a lull in the battle she decided to retreat while she was still able. Tired but elated she made her way in the direction she had last seen her brother.
When a redcoat came at her with drawn sword she had no room to dodge so rode at him aggressively. His sword caught her leg then cut her horse. As the horse went down she struggled to kick her feet from the stirrups. She lost consciousness as her mount landed on her.
Lafayette was too busy rallying his men to worry too much about his sister. He had seen her veer away, but had not sighted her since. He hoped she had the good sense to keep to the edge of the fighting, but he knew that would not be the case.
During this respite, General Greene reorganized and resupplied his men, and moved back closer to Hobart Gap, pulling General Lee to a supportable position on the east side of the Gap.
The Americans, although pushed back by superior numbers, were ready to continue. The British had had enough. They began to retreat back to Elizabethtown. The loyalists present, mostly civilians, set fire to every patriot building on the way out. The British forces did not stop them. The Americans first inkling that the battle was over was the sight of the smoke arising from many homes in Springfield. General Greene ordered his men to advance on the outskirts of town to protect as many buildings as possible, but most of the town was in British possession. Only a few homes owned by loyalists escaped the flames.
Late afternoon June 25th 1780 Near Connecticut Farms
'Where is Stasi?' Lafayette asked when Jeremy and Henry joined him after the main fighting had diminished.
'We thought she was with you, sir.'
'She was, but I have not seen her since the battle began. Whether she is injured or she rode to safety, I do not know.'
The three exchanged worried glances as they looked around the area. To the east they could still hears the sounds of minor skirmishes. To the west lay Morristown and safety.
Which way had Stasi taken? Had she been taken?
Leading their horses the trio headed east. They hadn't reached Connecticut Farms when Henry pointed at an inanimate white horse lying amidst the destruction, covered in blood.
'Stay here, sir,' Jeremy signalled to Henry to watch the General as he dismounted and walked towards the stallion. He knelt to examine the gaping wound in its right side, clearly made by a sword.
When he glanced around he could find no trace of the rider and prayed that Stasi had made it to safety. He reported back to Lafayette who was champing at the bit while Henry almost had to forcefully hold him back.
'The horse has been sliced with a sword, sir. He is dead. There is no trace of Stasi.'
Lafayette hung his head as he whispered, 'Where is she?'
'We'll ride west from here and pray she made it to safety, sir.'
Lafayette nodded soberly as they mounted and rode toward Morristown. It was while on this journey Henry realised they hadn't seen Isak for quite a while. He mentioned this to his companions.
'I last saw him when my explosives detonated, Jeremy.'
'He was watching the battle then said something I didn't hear and bolted,' Jeremy frowned.
'Would he have seen Stasi's horse go down?'
'Mayhap he did! He sure moved fast. I didn't have time to see where he went.'
Lafayette had remained silent during this exchange. His sister knew how to look after herself, but … he refused to think of that!
'They would make for the camp. I know Isak would defend her with his life if necessary, sir,' Jeremy addressed the General.
'We must return to camp immediately,' Lafayette ordered, 'If she is not there we will search for her.'
They spurred the horses into a gallop.
He ran as if his life depended on it! His didn't – hers did!
He had seen the horse go down and hoped she was uninjured. He jumped the obstacles in his way as if they were only small. He reached under the body of her horse and dragged her clear, looking around for a safe passage from the battlefield. An opportunity presented itself and he lifted her and ran! The forest loomed ahead below the Springfield heights and he dived for the cover of the trees. There was no time to inform anyone of his intentions – he just ran to where he knew there was help.
He forded the Rahway River in waist deep water and kept going until he reached Chatham. Four miles he had covered in just twenty minutes. His lungs cried for air, his legs felt like jelly and his burden felt like a lead weight, but still he didn't stop. There were some safe houses in this village and he intended to get her to safety before returning to the battlefield.
He chose a stone cottage on the edge of the village. A woman in her thirties answered his knock on the door.
'Goodwife, can you care for her?' he gasped.
'Who are you? What has happened to the General's sister?' the woman, who introduced herself as Ann Morgan, queried.
All the local villagers had seen Stasi riding with Lafayette and had made it their business to learn more about her.
'I am Isak Poole. It is Stasi! Her horse was killed and came down on her. I don't know the extent of her injuries – I have not stopped to check.'
'Will you return for her?'
'I will return soon.' With that Isak took his leave and bolted back the way he had come.
By the time Isak reached the scene of the battle Lafayette, Jeremy and Henry had discovered Stasi's disappearance and set forth to search for her. Isak knew he had to find them, but he also knew that keeping Stasi safe was his priority. He found his horse still tethered where he had left it, walked to where Stasi's horse lay, then took the saddlebags, knowing she kept them well supplied, before mounting and galloping back to Chatham where he found Stasi conscious but disoriented.
'She has a cut on her right thigh from a sword. She cannot walk,' Ann Morgan reported, 'If we can keep it from infecting, she will survive.'
'What about ride? Could I carry her on my horse?'
'Isak, I would not recommend that. The wound would open from the jolting of the movement. I have bandaged the wound but any movement will start it bleeding again.'
'Then I'll walk and carry her!' Isak declared,'I have to get her to Morristown. You must warn your neighbours that the British are pillaging all the villages. Get them out and go to Morristown where it is safe.'
'I will try! Most of the women are waiting for their men to return and the few British sympathisers will only make it awkward for the rest of us.'
'Do what you can! I must go now!' Isak bent over Stasi and spoke, 'Stasi, 'tis Isak! Can you hear me?'
Stasi looked at him blankly but nodded.
'I am going to lift you and take you to Morristown. Can you sit?'
She dragged herself into a sitting position and he gently lifted her in his arms then walked to the door where Ann folded a rug over her.
'This will keep you both warm, Isak. It is going to be a slow journey.'
'I know. Thank you for your help, Goodwife Morgan. I hope we meet again in better circumstances.'
He walked out the door, untethered his horse and headed west with his precious burden.
Stasi was missing!
The news spread around the camp at Morristown like an epidemic.
All the personnel knew the General's sister and some were even in awe of her prowess on and off the battlefields as she fought beside her brother.
Volunteers for a search party were there aplenty, but only a few were chosen.
The two groups of five searchers set out from the camp with Jeremy and Lafayette in charge, searching into the night and not leaving any stone unturned. They returned to camp in the noon's heat dejected and troubled. They had covered a lot of ground and still found no trace of Stasi.
'If Isak has Stasi, she will be safe!' Jeremy spoke to Lafayette.
'I know, mon ami,' Lafayette sighed, 'I pray he has! The Reverend Caldwell has just now received word that his wife has been shot and killed in their house.'
'Hannah! Was not Stasi there only a few days ago?'
'Hannah was a friend of hers. Stasi visited whenever she could. The British do not respect the families of our soldiers. That is why I am worried about Stasi. She may have made for the Caldwell home. James took the elder children to safety before he joined me. Hannah refused to go with him, preferring to stay in her home with the two youngest.'
'Are the children safe?'
'Yes, their nanny got them out safely, but from the stories I have heard, even Hannah's body was not safe. The neighbours took her body out of the house before the British burned it to the ground, but they had torn her gown and raided the money and jewellery from her pockets.'
Jeremy gasped at he thought of any atrocities the British may have presented upon the body of Hannah Caldwell.
'I saw James on the Springfield heights with you earlier.'
'He saw the smoke ascending from the burning houses. He thought his house was safe. He was wrong!' Lafayette was saddened at the loss his friend had suffered.
The British began to march for Elizabethtown, one column down Vauxhall Road and one down Galloping Hill Road. The Rangers guarded the rear on Vauxhall Road, the Jaegers on Galloping Hill Road. General Greene sent the two Rhode Island regiments that had not seen much fighting after them, but they were two miles behind the British.
The militia however already had men on the flanks, and were soon joined by more. They began to extract revenge from both columns. The Jaegers made only light attempts to prevent attacks, and the Americans successfully harassed that column.
The Rangers however had not lost so many men, and were able to keep the American militia at bay. New Jersey Militia leader, General Heard, finally had to call the militia back, and had them follow at a distance.
The British did not stop long at Elizabethtown, and crossed over the bridge of boats to Staten Island. They had lost over three hundred and seven men - killed, wounded or captured.
June 26th 1780
Sometime after midnight they crossed the Passaich River a short distance from Chatham and continued on their way. Isak stopped only when he felt he could not carry Stasi safely. He found a suitable clearing for a camp beside the river. He carefully placed Stasi down, covered her with the blanket, then spoke to her as he rolled out his bedroll.
'I will find some wood for a fire, Stasi. Stay here.'
'I am all right now, Isak,' she replied, holding up her hand to quell his protest, 'I will find some food in the saddlebags.'
'Stasi, stay off that leg! You will only start the bleeding again!''Ne t'en fais pas avec ça!' 'I do worry about it!' he retorted, 'Lafayette would probably have me hanged if anything happened to you! Let alone what Michel would do!' 'Isak! Go and get that wood!' He shrugged and left returning minutes later to find her standing near his horse. 'Stasi! I told you to stay put!' She spun round to face him. 'I will not be coddled, Isak! Je suis une Fayette!' she stated haughtily. 'Stasi,' he said gently as he approached her and put his hands on her shoulders, 'You are injured! Any movement could re-open the wound and start it bleeding. If I do not get you to Morristown
alive, Lafayette will hang me! Your safety is my main concern.'
'I have fought with Gilbert too many times to ignore a wound, Isak,' she looked him in the eye, 'I know my limits!'
'Then sit down over there and let me do the work here. Your leg needs all the rest you can give it!'
'I am sorry, Isak,' she was contrite, 'Sometimes I do not stop to think first!'
'Only sometimes?' his teeth were a slash of white as he grinned.
She smiled and giggled. 'All the time,' she conceded then proceeded to sit and watch as Isak started a tiny fire.
They partook of a small meal then Stasi, finally admitting tiredness, slept, while Isak kept watch over her. Being a mild night Isak kept the fire to a minimum, not needing it for warmth. Only at dawn, having slept fitfully himself, did he wake the Frenchwoman, preparatory to making a move. She drank the coffee he offered her and they ate sparingly, wishing to be on the move as quickly as possible.
'We are only a few miles from the camp, Stasi. Are you willing to risk a short ride?'
She smiled ruefully, 'I do not think it would do any harm.'
'I'll lift you up then I'll mount, but you let me know if your injury causes you any pain.'
She nodded as he easily lifted onto the saddle then mounted the horse behind her. They set off at a gentle pace keeping to the cover of the trees.
Only a mile later Isak could see a crimson stain forming on Stasi's thigh and was concerned. He stopped the horse and dismounted then lifted Stasi to the ground.
'We cannot risk any more jolting to that wound, Stasi. It is bleeding again and needs treatment.'
Stasi sat with her right leg straight out in front of her, a grimace of pain on her features.
'Hand me my saddlebags, Isak, s'il vous plait,' she said and proceeded to rifle through the contents after he had given them to her.
'What are you looking for?'
'I have some strips of bandage here. They will have to do until we get to camp.'
'We will rest here for a while. Take your time. If you need any help just call me. I will not be far away.'
Realising he was giving her the privacy she needed to remove her breeches, Stasi smiled at him gratefully.
'Merci, Isak. I will be able to manage.'
'Do not let that stubborn streak of yours stop you from asking for help!' Isak warned before he disappeared into the trees.
Little did Stasi know that he was only three yards from her at all times, keeping a close eye on their surroundings.
Only when she called him did he return to her side.
'I will carry you,' he stated.
'Isak, I can walk!' she protested.
'Not on that leg!' he declared, 'Now, do I carry you or leave you here for the British to find?'
She capitulated with a sigh.
As they neared the camp in the late afternoon Isak spotted a stray British patrol as he emerged from the cover of the trees carrying Stasi. He silently indicated to her their predicament. The patrol had not yet seen them, but it was only a matter of seconds before they did.
'We'll have to ride, Stasi,' he said in a low tone as he backed slowly into the tree cover.
She nodded and he lifted her into the saddle and mounted behind her. He spurred the horse into a gallop.
'Sorry, Stasi, but this is a necessity. How is your leg?'
'Stinging!' she gasped, 'But I will survive. Keep going.'
They only stopped when a sentry challenged them. Stasi grimaced in pain as they dismounted to identify themselves to the sentry.
'Leave him to me, Isak,' Stasi muttered as she approached the sentry. 'Private, I am Stasi Du Bois! General Lafayette will be expecting me!'
Isak had to grin as Stasi spoke, her voice conveying all the haughtiness of a well-bred woman.
'You are?' the sentry stared at her.
'If you let us through, we can put Gilbert's mind at rest, can we not?'
'I am sorry, Mistress, but anyone who passes through has to have identification.'
'Mon de Dieu!' she swore, 'Isak, this idiot must be only a recent recruit!'
'It is not the first time a sentry has refused to let me into the camp,' Isak chuckled.
'I heard about that!' she smiled, 'But what do you expect at two o'clock in the morning! You are fortunate Gilbert decided to meet you.'
'Aye! But this is broad daylight! Come on, Private! Would it help if I told you we had a small British patrol hot on our heels?'
The sentry refused to budge, so Stasi decided to take a drastic measure. She stared at the young man, willing him to let them through the checkpoint.
As they entered the camp area, the sentry stared after them, wondering what had just happened.
Dusk was fast falling as Isak led his horse and carried his precious charge towards the medical tent. Stasi had fainted, presumably from loss of blood and pain, and remained inert in his arms. He knew Joseph Currie would be in the camp treating the wounded who had made their way back there. Isak knew she needed her would treated properly as soon as possible.
Approaching the tent he was relieved to see Henry working outside treating some of the soldiers.
'Henry!' Isak called.
The apothecary looked up and stared at the sight which greeted him. He spoke to his patient then walked towards his friends, concern for Stasi written on his face.
'Take her to General Lafayette's quarters, Isak. I will be there as soon as I can,' Henry instructed then turned to walk into the tent to inform the doctor of the necessity of his departure.
Lafayette and Jeremy were mounting to ride out to search for Stasi again when Isak appeared with his burden. The young Frenchman's eyes lit up and he ran to relieve Isak of his load, rushing her inside to her room.
'Henry is on his way, Sir,' Isak said as he stood in the doorway.
'Merci, Isak,' Lafayette flung over his shoulder, as he laid Stasi gently on her bed.
Henry came bolting into the room out of breath.
'Slow down, Henry,' Jeremy chuckled, 'You will give yourself an apoplexy!'
'Is she wounded?' Henry gasped.
The tall Negro placed his hands on his friend's shoulders and grinned, 'Henry, she has survived two days now! Another few minutes should not hurt.'
'You think not?!?!' Henry exclaimed, 'I have herbs and potions with me. She must be treated now!'
Isak shrugged and stepped aside, as did Lafayette. Henry knelt beside the still young woman and ran his hands over her thigh.
'Can someone get a maid here to assist me? Stasi's breeches must be removed.'
Lafayette nodded to Jeremy who ran from the room in search of a servant, almost running into the doctor as he did so.
'Jeremy, why the hurry?'
Once apprised of the situation Joseph hurried to the room to check the patient.
He gasped at the sight that greeted him. Stasi lay on her bed drifting in and out of consciousness. Her breeches were red from the blood seeping from the wound to her thigh.
Henry glanced up as Joseph entered the room and acknowledged the doctor with a nod.
'She is losing a lot of blood and there is nothing I can do until a maid gets here to help.'
'From the amount of blood I will most likely have to suture the wound,' Joseph said matter-of-factly, then glanced at the others gathered there. 'Out!' he ordered briskly as a young black maid came to Stasi's side.
Lafayette and Isak exchanged glances, but complied with the order. They adjourned to an adjoining room where Lafayette threatened to wear a patch in the carpet with his pacing. He was still pacing when Jeremy joined them a half hour later.
'I have informed his excellency of Stasi's return, sir.'
'Jeremy, merci! We will post a bulletin when Joseph and Henry know the extent of her injuries.'
An hour passed before Henry and Joseph emerged from the bedchamber.
Joseph addressed the General, 'The wound is deep, sir, and I had to suture it. Luckily no infection has occurred and she should recover fully. She is sleeping now. Henry gave her a draught. The maid, Adelie, is going to sit with her overnight. She is to call one of us immediately there is any sign of fever.'
Lafayette breathed a sigh of relief. 'Joseph, I must thank you and Henry for your prompt attention to my sister.'
'Sir, she is one of us! We look after our own, do we not?' Henry queried.
The General could only nod, his emotions getting the better of him as relief hit him like a hammer. His eyes misted and he turned away so the others would not see this as a sign of weakness.
Jeremy was closest to him and the first to speak. 'Would you permit me to write the bulletin and post it, sir?' he asked softly.
Lafayette nodded. 'Merci, Captain,' was all he could reply.
Lafayette was left alone in the room as the others went about their tasks. He could not resist opening the door and peering into his sister's room. Adelie looked up and smiled at him.
'She is asleep, sir,' she said softly, 'Did you wish to sit with her?'
As he nodded he spoke to her, 'You may leave for an hour. I will stay until then.'
'Thank you, sir, I will inform my family of my duties for the night.'
Adelie quietly left the room as the young General took a seat beside the bed, Stasi was breathing normally, which gave him some relief. He took her limp hand and spoke tenderly.
'Stasi, I should not have allowed you to go into battle. You are my only sister and I do not wish to lose you because of your adventurous nature. I should not have encouraged you when we were younger. I should have insisted you be une demoiselle et non une petite voyou être comme. It is because of this you now lay here injured. If you do not recover I will always blame myself.'
His sister stirred but did not wake. He fell silent feeling a peace he had not felt for quite a while.
When Adelie returned he left the room knowing Stasi would recover from this ordeal and hopefully not have a limp for the rest of her life.
Jeremy was waiting in the adjoining room. He looked askance as Lafayette gently closed the door behind him.
'She will recover,' Lafayette sighed.
'Henry will be in during the night to administer another draught, sir. He said to tell you that he is confident of Stasi's full recovery, even going as far as to say that she will not have a limp.'
'I have not had time to thank Isak for the care he gave her on their passage from Springfield.'
'He expects no thanks or rewards, General. He would give his own life for her. We all would!'
'Have you sent word to Michel?'
'Non, I am waiting until Stasi wakes. Only then will I be able to think clearly.'
'Do not blame yourself, sir!' Jeremy said softly, 'Stasi has a will of her own.'
'I do blame myself for encouraging her as a child! This would never have happened if she was a lady of the court!' the General exclaimed.
Jeremy chuckled, 'You love to take the world on your shoulders, Gilbert Motier! 'Tis about time you learned to relax for a few minutes.'
Lafayette shook his head and finally grinned, 'You know me too well, Captain!'
'Don't stay up all night!' Jeremy admonished, 'You need your sleep as well as the rest of your men!'
With that he repaired to his quarters, leaving the Frenchman contemplating their conversation.
The noonday sun was overhead two days later when Stasi finally awoke. She rolled onto her side and yelped as she landed on her injured thigh, quickly moving onto her back.
'Mistress Stasi, the General will be glad that you are awake,' Adelie spoke from her left.
'Adelie, how did I come to be here?' Stasi was puzzled.
'Why, Isak brought you home! He carried you for miles! Then Master Henry and the doctor attended to you.'
'I remember talking to a sentry, then nothing!'
'Your brother, the General, will tell you what happened. I will inform him you are awake.'
Adelie left the room, leaving the door open and Stasi stared at the ceiling, trying to remember returning to camp. Seconds later Lafayette entered the room, looking as though he had not slept. Stasi commented wryly on this..
'You had us all worried, ma sœur, it is good that you are awake at last. Joseph had to suture your leg and Henry has been like a mother hen here with his potions and draughts.'
'That is no reason for you not to sleep!' she admonished, 'You need your rest as do the rest of us!'
Her brother grinned at her, 'You almost sound recovered, but we both know you are not!'
'Gilbert, I remember using telepathy on the sentry – then nothing. I have no idea how I arrived back in the camp.'
'Isak said you were light headed and shaking. You must have used all your reserve energy to concentrate. He caught you as you collapsed and ran, carrying you, to the medical tent where Henry ordered him to bring you here. Joseph followed fast in Henry's shadow and they both worked on you with Adelie's aid.'
'May I get out of bed?'
'Do not be impatient, ma petite. I will talk to Joseph soon. Meanwhile, stay there!'
'Is that an order, General?'
'If you wish, I will make it so!' he growled good-naturedly, 'I will send Adelie in to tend to your needs.'
Stasi laughed as he beat a hasty retreat and left her alone.
Stubborn as ever Stasi ordered Adelie to find her some breeches and a shirt.
'But, Mistress, you are to stay in bed,' the maid protested.
'I shall die of boredom, Adelie. I will get Gilbert to carry me into the parlour. At least that way I will be able to receive visitors.'
Still protesting, Adelie did as ordered and assisted Stasi to dress.
'I will inform General Lafayette that you wish to be taken to the parlour.'
'Merci, Adelie. I have been awake for only an hour and already I am bored!'
Adelie was giggling as she went in search of the General.
Lafayette's stormy expression did nothing to faze Stasi as he entered the room to confront her.
'Gilbert,' she said softly, 'I wish for you to carry me to the parlour. It would be more appropriate for me to receive callers there.'
His expression softened as he smiled at her. 'You will not aid your recovery, ma petite.'
'Grand frere, I am bored!'
He gave a guffaw of laughter, 'You have not been awake long enough to be bored!'
Her eyes twinkled as she looked him in the eye. 'Pour moi, Gilbert, s'il vous plait!'
'I have a meeting with General Washington presently. Stasi. I will not be able to keep you amused.'
'I do not wish to be amused, Gilbert. I wish to talk to Jeremy, Henry and Isak!'
'You can go to your meeting knowing I will be well tended.'
'I only allow this as Joseph and Henry think it would aid your recovery.'
With that comment he lifted her gently and carried her to the parlour where a grinning Henry and Joseph stood watching while he deposited her on the chaise lounge.
Stasi looked accusingly at her brother, 'You had this planned?'
For answer he chuckled softly, 'General Washington will be along presently. He wishes to assure himself that you are satisfactorily recovering.'
'Then your meeting with His Excellency …?' Her eyebrows shot up expressively.
'Is here!' he finished the sentence for her.
'Where are Jeremy and Isak?'
'They will be here, ma petite. They are preparing to return to Chester.'
Lafayette turned to the two observers and laughed, 'She is all yours!' then stepped aside while Joseph prudently examined her thigh.
Henry handed Stasi a small vial. 'Drink this. It will aid your recovery.'
Stasi waved the vial under her nose and sniffed the contents. 'Ugh! This is vile!' she exclaimed.
'It is only a herb mixture to prevent infection, Stasi. I have some water here you can drink after it.'
'Henry, if you expect me to drink this, I want something more than water to take away the taste!' she retorted.
'Nay,' said Joseph quietly, 'only water.'
'Joseph!' she eyed him warily, 'Do you concur with Henry?'
'If you wish to remain here and not be ordered back to your bedchamber, you will drink it!'
Stasi complied and pulled a face as the draught trickled down her throat. The taste was not quite as bad as the smell!
'Give me that water, Henry,' she gasped, taking the proffered goblet, not stopping to take a breath as she downed the lot. She took a deep breath and sighed, 'Have you ceased torturing me! Now may I receive callers?'
Henry gave a snigger of soft laughter and glanced at Joseph, 'We have many men to attend. We must go!'
Joseph only grinned in reply before bidding her a fond farewell before they both departed.
When Jeremy escorted George Washington into the parlour Stasi was not one to be awed by his presence. She cheekily offered her cheek for a kiss and he complied graciously with a twinkle in his eye.
'How could I resist the invitation to kiss such a beautiful young lady?' he chuckled.
Stasi laughed up at him from the lounge and welcomed him into her company.
'When Gilbert informed me you were allowed to receive callers, young lady, I had to see for myself that you are recovering.'
She eyed him wickedly and grinned, 'Satisfied?'
Washington turned to Lafayette. 'We will have to do something about her insubordinate attitude, Gilbert,' he chuckled.
'I have been struggling to do that for years, mon General.'
Stasi waved a hand in dismissal. 'If you two are going to talk about me go someplace else. I wish to talk to Jeremy and Isak.'
Jeremy looked shocked. No-one spoke to General Washington that way! To his amazement the two generals merely smiled indulgently at the perpetrator and left the room.
'Come closer, I do not bite!' Stasi invited Jeremy and Isak.
They took seats beside her and looked at her expectantly.
'Isak, merci, my heartfelt thanks,' she said sincerely, 'What you did was above and beyond the call of duty.'
Isak looked embarrassed. 'I could not leave you there, Stasi.'
'But you did not have to carry me to the camp. You could have left somewhere and rode to Gilbert.'
'I chose not to do that! I knew you would be safer with me.'
'I will be forever grateful for your actions. I cannot stand to hug you, so come here!' he was ordered.
Isak stood and closed the gap between them then knelt to her level. She threw her arms around him to embrace him.
'Thank you, Isak,' she whispered as she released him.
Jeremy had watched this interchange with an amused grin, enjoying Isak's obvious discomfiture.
'I did not think I would ever see the day Isak was lost for words!' he commented wryly.
'One of these days, Jeremy Larkin, one of these days …!' Isak threatened good-humouredly and playfully punched his friend's upper arm.
'Before you two come to blows, let me talk to Jeremy!' Stasi was laughing at their antics even as she spoke.
Jeremy turned to her and waited expectantly.
'Jeremy, that matter we spoke of about forgetting something?' She hesitated, waiting for a reply.
'I remember it well.' was the answer she received.
She nodded, 'I will do no more about it. You are privileged, Captain, I trust you with that information.'
'I am honoured, Stasi,' he gasped, 'I will respect your wishes.'
''Merci, mon ami,' she grinned, 'Now give me a hug!'
Jeremy complied with a smile.
'I understand you are preparing to travel home.'
'Our work was finished a week ago! We must return to Chester.'
'I will miss all of you – even Henry and his potions!'
'If he heard that he may want to stay to ensure you recover completely,' chuckled Isak.
Stasi held up her hands. 'Non, non, non! No more!' she giggled.
'We must go, Stasi. We will call on you before we leave.'
'When do you expect to depart?'
'With the dawn. I will see you tonight,' Jeremy answered as he stood to take his leave with Isak.Epilogue
The trio arrived at Lafayette's headquarters that evening to bid the General and his sister farewell.
They rode out at dawn, leaving Morristown far behind then by the time the sun was overhead.
Arriving in Chester later that night they made their way to the smithy to attend to their horses before going to their respective homes.
Luckily for Jeremy his father was abed and he didn't have to answer any awkward questions before retiring.
During the Revolutionary War the British expected that loyal Americans would turn out to support them and that the American army would fail to stand up and fight. The Springfield campaign was another miscalculation. No one in the American camp understood at the time what the British hoped to achieve - the Americans knew that six thousand men could not reach Morristown. It was only late in the 1800's when the British records became available that it was found that they had hoped to reach Morristown and destroy the army and stores there. Since it seemed pointless, it was deemed just another large raid, and with the major effort of the war happening in the south, this campaign became the "Forgotten" victory.
Most history books don't even mention this battle, with six thousand British troops attacking half that number of Continentals. However, it was an American victory, a successful defence, and the last large battle in the north.