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Breach of Privilege.
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SAMUEL W. DANA, one of the Representatives from the State of Connecticut, being duly sworn, as aforesaid, on the sixth day of February, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight, deposed as follows:
friends; that he had attacked them in that quarter, and convinced them their opinions were erroneous. At this time Mr. Griswold was sitting in the seat usually occupied by Mr. Harper, and Mr. Griswold said something, which I cannot precisely recollect, about his fighting On Tuesday of last week, during the examination of them with his wooden sword. Mr. Lyon appeared to the ballots for managers of the impeachment against Wilpay no attention to the remark, and, I thought at the liam Blount, I had left my seat and was standing before time, did not hear it. Immediately after this Mr. Gris- the fire, near the eastern door of the hall, when Mr. wold quitted his seat and went behind the bar. I left Williams, of the State of New York, entered into conmine nearly at the same time, and did not see the in-versation with me, and mentioned that Mr. Lyon, who sult which is said to have been offered. This is generally all that I know relative to this affair. I was present at the commencement only of the dispute, and they are only generally facts which have impressed themselves on my mind. I attended to the examination of the Speaker yesterday, and could agree generally with him in the statement, though my recollection is not so particular.
The said deponent being interrogated by Matthew Lyon, and other members of the House, further deposed as follows:
I did not hear any observation from the members from Connecticut respecting the people of Vermont. The conversation from Mr. Lyon respecting the people of Connecticut was not connected; questions were asked, and some observations were made by the Speaker, which perhaps induced Mr. Lyon to say more than he originally intended.
I do not suppose there was any thing said which could provoke Mr. Lyon, and he appeared to be desi rous of impressing the observations with respect to the members from Connecticut, as true, upon all who heard
The said deponent being further interrogated, on his oath aforesaid, on the eighth day of February, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight, answered to the several interrogatories so put to him, as follows:
Question. Do you recollect the time when Mr. Griswold moved from his own seat to that of Mr. Harper? Answer. I do not recollect the time when Mr. Gris-I wold came to Mr. Harper's seat. It was, however, soon after Mr. Lyon took his station behind the bar, and during the general conversation which had taken place between us all.
had lately returned from Vermont, had been saying that
of his conversation.
Not long after, as I passed within the bar, by the seat which Mr. Harper usually occupies, I observed my colI mentioned Q. Have you any certain recollection of Mr. Gris-league, Mr. Griswold, s tting in that set. wold's being present until about the time he made the observation respecting the wooden sword?
A. I recollect having seen Mr. Griswold in the seat before that time; how long I cannot say, as I do not recollect seeing him seat himself there.
Q. Did you see Mr. Griswold in the seat soon enough to have heard the observations of Mr. Lyon respecting the conduct of the members of Connecticut?
A. I believe I did. I recollect looking round two or three times to see what effect Mr. Lyon's observations had Mr. Griswold.
to him the substance of my conversation with the member from Vermont, and observed that I had felt some irritation, although, on reflection, I was rather ashamed of myself, for being irritated at what that member could
Afterwards, walking without the bar, I saw the member from Vermont leaning on the bar, in conversation with the Speaker and other gentlemen in their seats. Mr. Griswold was then standing near him. I heard the member from Vermont speaking of the Representatives from Connecticut as being in pursuit of their own interQ. Have you any reason to suppose that Mr. Lyon est, without regarding that of the public. I also heard noticed Mr. Griswold to be in Mr. Harper's seat pre-him mention a particular mission as proper for one of vious to what Mr. Griswold said about the wooden sword?
A. I never heard any thing till this morning to raise a doubt of it in my mind. I have no recollection of any particular conversation between Mr. Griswold and Mr. Lyon, previous to the question of Mr. Griswold.
Q. Do you doubt it now?
them. To this, however, I gave but little attention, and made no reply, for the observations were addressed to others, and I desired no further acquaintance with the member from Vermont.
A very short time before the commission of the outrage now under consideration I stepped within the bar, and stood near the end of the desk which is in front of the seat usually occupied by myself, the Speaker being then in that seat. From the tenor of the conversation
I judged that the member from Vermont had been speaking of his ability to effect some great object in Connecticut; when Mr. Griswold replied, according to my present recollection, to this effect: "You could not, if you should go into Connecticut with your wooden sword and candle;" alluding, as I then apprehended, to a report in circulation which, as also that of the sword, I knew to have been heard by Mr. Griswold and by the
member from Vermont. On this the member from Vermont spit in Mr. Griswold's face.
Considering the observations of some gentlemen of the committee, perhaps, in justice to the member from Vermont, I ought to mention that, while Mr. Griswold was in Mr. Harper's seat, I was in the passage leading from the eastern door of the hall to the Speaker's table,
and conversed for a short time with Mr. Griswold and
Mr. Brooks, when I was informed that Mr. Griswold
from Vermont ?
The said deponent answered: I was then standing where I could look my colleague, Mr. Griswold, fully in the face. I marked him particularly; for I then felt particularly interested in his conduct, and determining how I should conduct myself. Mr. Griswold turned towards the member from Vermont, fixed his eye upon him, and was slowly drawing back his right arm in a constrained manner, when, from his change of countenance and the cast of his eye, I apprehended that my colleague recollected where he was; he then took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. I stepped to him, touched his arm, and said, "this must be considered of." I also heard the caution mentioned by Mr. Brooks. Mr. Griswold made no reply. I proposed to him to walk out of the hall; he assented, and we both immediately left the hall. The said deponent, upon a further examination on the 7th of February, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight, further deposed, on his oath aforesaid, as follows:
There has been published an incorrect account of part of the testimony which I delivered yesterday before the Committee of the Whole; I, therefore, owe it to myself to observe, that, on Tuesday of last week, in his con versation with me, the member from Vermont made various observations relative to the conduct in Congress of the Representatives from Connecticut, and, among other observations respecting them, spoke to the following import: that they would vote their own damnation; that they would be spurned at on their return home; and that he would be damned if he wanted to talk with me.
Such language provoked from me an answer, which, I presume, attracted the notice of the Speaker.
In my testimony, yesterday, I used some general expressions referring to this part of the conversation; but I did not mention the particulars, because I did not consider them material to the inquiry, and I did not wish to
repeat, in public, such improper language as having been spoken by a member of this House.
I arose to state these particulars in my own vindication; but, since a gentleman from Massachusetts, on hearing the present statement, has said that he considers these circumstances as of some importance, they are now testified before the present committee. JOSHUA COIT, Esq., one of the Representatives from the State of Connecticut, being duly sworn, as aforesaid, on the sixth day of February, one thousand seven hundred and ninety eight, deposed as follows, to wit: I was not present when the incident which is the subject of inquiry before the committee took place, and do not know that anything within my knowledge can A few moments before, I was any light upon it. passing from my seat out of the bar where Mr. Lyon was standing. He was addressing a kind of ranting braggart conversation to the Speaker, respecting the State of Connecticut; whether I had noticed this conversation before
fore the House formed.
left my seat, I do not recollect; my recollection is probably the more imperfect on the subject, from the circumstance that I had heard a similar conversation from Mr. Lyon a little while before, at one of the fire-places, beleft my seat, I cannot with certainty tell which, some As I was passing, or before I observation was addressed particularly to me, with allusion to the subject of the conversation, either by the Speaker or Mr. Lyon. Mr. Lyon at the time was stating a comparative view of the number of votes given for number of votes given for himself in the State of Vera Representative in the State of Connecticut, with the mont; and I put some questions to him respecting his knowledge of the mode of voting in Connecticut. The answer not leading to anything interesting, I passed on to the south part of the House. I recollect, as I passed, my colleague, Mr. Griswold, was sitting in the seat occupied by Mr. Harper, or standing behind it. Being interrogated by one of the members of the House, he further deposed, in answer to the said interrogatory, as follows, to wit:
Question. What was the tenor, and what were the particulars of the conversation which the witness heard from the member from Vermont respecting the Connecticut representation, in the morning, before the House was formed?
Answer. I mentioned the terms ranting and braggart, as relative to the conversation I heard. I used these terms, not with a view of saying anything which should appear to bear uncomfortably on the member from Vermont. Were I disposed to say anything uncivil to him, this would be a very improper time and place. I used the terms only for my own justification-my justification, in not remembering more of the conversation than other gentlemen present appear to have done; although, from the subject, it would seem that I should have paid attenHad I heard such tion, have felt it, and remembered it. conversation from any other person, it is probable I should; but I had been used to paying very little attention to anything I heard from Mr. Lyon. As to the conversation in the morning, I can recollect no particulars. It was generally to the effect that the sentiments of the people in Connecticut were different from what they were represented here. I do not recollect that anything particular, in that conversation, was applied to the conduct of the members of Connecticut.
CHAUNCEY GOODRICH, Esq., one of the Representatives from the State of Connecticut, being duly sworn, as
aforesaid, on the sixth day of February, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight, deposed as follows, to wit:
The only information I have on the subject, relates to a conversation with Mr. Lyon, relative to his having been cashiered in the Army. I came from New York to this place, this session, in a stage taken by Mr. Champlin, together with him, Mr. Otis, and Mr. Lyon. We were the only persons in the stage for a considerable part of the way. I had had but little personal acquaintance with Mr. Lyon before this time. Mr. Lyon, on the way, seemed to be disposed to give us the history of his life. It was filled up, according to the account he gave us, with many singular and ludicrous anecdotes The ludicrous anecdotes that he told of himself, in a jocular manner, produced from the gentlemen with him, a kind of pleasantry, if not something more, towards Mr. Lyon. I mention these circumstances, for the purpose of introducing, in a proper manner, to the committee, the account he gave us with respect to his being cashiered. How it was introduced, whether entirely voluntary on his part, or induced by remarks from some one of the company, I have not a perfect recollection. I think, however, either immediately, or some time before Mr. Lyon adverted to the subject, something was said of Mr. Lyon's having been in the Army; I cannot be very minute in the account he gave. I recollect his saying that allusions to his being cashiered had been in the public papers-that it was a matter of great mortification-that
he could not bear to hear of the affair-that it happened when he was young. He said that he was a subaltern officer of a corps stationed on the frontier, at a great distance from the main Army, and without support-that the officers and men were uneasy, and discontented with their situation—that they considered it as being too exposed-that he, at a certain time, was out with a party of the men-that, when he returned, he found the corps to which he belonged either had abandoned, or were abandoning, (I cannot say certainly which,) their postthat they went to some distance, where they made a halt-that he endeavored to persuade them to return they refu-ed-the officers insisted that he should go to headquarters to General Gates, a: d make a representation of their situation-he went-upon being introduced to General Gates, and introducing the subject, General Gates damned him for a coward, and ordered that he should go into the custody of a guard-that he, Mr. Lyon, insisted on his rights, as an officer, not to be put under guard. That the Adjutant General, or an aid of General Gates, said something on the subject, and Mr. Lyon was finally arrested, tried with the rest of the officers, by a court martial, and sentenced to be cashiered from the Army. He said the charge was, that the officers, as they themselves could not without disgrace and punishment abandon the post, had excited the men to He further said, as it respected himself, that the charge and the sentence were unjust. I think Mr. Otis asked him if he had worn a wooden sword. He said not. Mr. Champlin, if I am not mistaken, made this remark, that if he saw it in poetry, he should con sider it as being a figurative expression for being cashiered. Mr. Lyon told us he had wiped off this stai that he had held an office in the Army, if I do not misrecollect, of a Paymaster. I think he mentioned, however, that he did not continue long as a Paymaster, owing to some other person having been appointed, with whom he had a dispute about it; yet in that dispute, while in the Army, the circumstance of his being ca
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shiered had not been mentioned to his dishonor-that he had been appointed, and for many years commanded as Colonel, a regiment of militia in Vermont. I recollect have had little or no conversation with Mr. Lyon since nothing further of importance to the present inquiry. I that time.
further deposed, as follows, to wit: On being interrogated by one of the members, he
I do not recollect having mentioned this conversation to Mr. Griswold, my colleague, though I have to others, not considering it as confidential. CHRISTOPHER G. CHAMPLIN, Esq., one of the Representatives from the State of Rhode Island, being duly sworn, as aforesaid, on the sixth day of February, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight, deposed as follows, to wit:
I have attentively considered the evidence given to the Committee of the Whole, by Mr. Goodrich, and to the best of my recollection, it is correct. NATHANIEL CHIPMAN, Esq., one of the members of the Senate of the United States, from the State of Vermont, being duly sworn, as aforesaid, on the sixth day of February, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight, deposed as follows, to wit:
I do not know that I ever heard any conversation in presence of Mr. Lyon, relative to his having been cashiered, until the last Summer. I had before heard it, as a subject of conversation in Vermont. Soon after Mr. Lyon returned from the last session of Congress, he was at Rutland; about that time there appeared in the Weekly Museum, a parody on his speech, in the last session of Congress, on the subject of waiting on the President with the Address. I was in company with Mr. Lyon and two or three others, and I asked him whether he did not, at the time, expect that what he had said, would bring up the subject of a wooden sword. He replied that nothing was there said, which could had expressed himself guardedly, on purpose to avoid give any one a right to bring up that business, for he anything of that kind; that he had not mentioned anything of his having fought or been a soldier; but that he had been at his post, or stood firm at his post during the war. I replied, that amounted to the same thing; to say that a man stood firm at his post, was saying he was a soldier. He immediately observed, with seeming anxiety, that he was not to blame in the affair for which he had been cashiered. I then repeated to him how the circumstances of the affair had been related by a person who belonged to the corps; who had said, that in the Summer of one thousand seven hundred and seventysix, being stationed somewhere near Onion river, at Jericho, I believe, the officers thought themselves in a very dangerous situation, and first suggested it to the soldiers under their command; they suggested that they (the officers) could not desert the post, without subjecting themselves to disgrace or punishment, but that the soldiers might mutiny and march off. In that case the officers would not be obliged to tarry without men. That the soldiers marched off, and that the officers followed them. Mr. Lyon observed that it was true so far as it related to the commanding officer, and one or more of the others, and that he had himself opposed, as soon as he learned what was intended, any such proceeding; but that he was over-ruled, and finally went off with the rest. Mr. Lyon related this matter more particularly than I have done; but I suppose it is not necessary to enter into a minute detail. He then mentioned the circumstance of his arrest at Ticonderoga, and some
circumstances relating to the trial. He did not mention the particulars of the sentence of the court martial, nor did I ask him. He further said that the next year, (in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven) General St. Clair, who commanded in the Northern Department, had reversed the sentence of the court martial. The circumstance, relative to the business, I had before heard, and therefore made no inquiry of Mr. Lyon, respecting it, that I recollect. The conversation above mentioned, with other similar conversations, passed between Colonel Lyon, myself, and two other Judges of the Supreme Court, (a session of which was, at the time, held at Rutland,) and some gentlemen of the bar, at our private quarters, in the course of the two or three days which Colonel Lyon then spent at Rutland. One evening there was a number of people together; a Mr. Smith, if I recollect right, was conversing upon the subject, with Mr. Lyon. What occasioned the observation, I cannot say, but Colonel Lyon observed, that he should take no notice of anything that should be said upon that subject, referring to the former subject of conversation in that part of the country; but that, if any one at Philadelphia, or if any member of Congress (I cannot recollect the precise expression he made use of) should insult him with it, or pretend to mention it to him, it should not pass with impunity-or expressions conveying the same idea.
On being interrogated by Matthew Lyon, Esquire, and other members of the House, he further deposed:
Mr. Lyon, I take it, has had a Colonel's commission in the Militia-I think in one thousand seven hundred and eighty-one. It was during the time of a dispute between Vermont and New York, as to their jurisdiction. The neighborhood of Colonel Lyon's regiment, which was Abingdon, where he then lived, was about seventy miles from where he was cashiered. He now lives, and ever since one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three or one thousand seven hundred and eightyfour, has lived, about twenty-five or thirty miles from that place, (Ticonderoga.) Militia field officers in Vermont, I believe, at that time, were appointed by the militia of the several regiments.
I did not discover, that my question, with respect to the wooden sword, was taken by Mr. Lyon as an affront, but Mr. Lyon discovered an anxiety to clear himself of
In the conversation I mentioned above, between Mr. Lyon and myself, my expression was: If he did not expect that this ridiculous speech in Congress, relative to the Address, would bring up the wooden sword? The first time I saw him was in one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. I did not then reside in that country: In one thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine, I went to reside there, and soon became acquainted with Mr. Lyon.
I cannot say what reasons Mr. Lyon gave for not resenting a mentioning of the wooden sword, in Ver
I cannot say whether the story of the wooden sword arose from a figurative expression, or was literally true. I first heard the story previous to one thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine, and before my acquaintance with Mr. Lyon.
Mr. Lyon and I have never been much in habits of political friendship. If I remember rightly, I mentioned in Philadelphia, the conversation with Mr. Lyon, as above related, in a company one evening; I cannot say with certainty, but I believe Mr. Griswold was present. I think it probable I have also related the conversation
which I had with Mr. Lyon at Rutland, more than once in this city, but not out of the house where I reside— to my present recollection. THOMAS SUMTER, Esq., one of the Representatives from the State of South Carolina, being duly sworn, as aforesaid, on the sixth day of February, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight, and interrogated by several members of the House, answered upon his said oath, to the interrogatories so put to him, as follows, to wit:
where you were at the fire, immediately after the disQuestion. Did Mr. Lyon come across the House to pute, and say that he had twice heard Mr. Griswold use the expression respecting the wooden sword ? of the Speaker's chair, where I was, and say, that he Answer. Mr. Lyon did come to the fire, on the right heard Mr. Griswold use the expression; but that he did not then attend to it, but turned from him, and took no notice of it; and that Mr. Griswold touched him on the arm and repeated it.
the termination of the dispute and Mr. Lyon's so comQ. Do you know the precise length of time between ing to you and making the observations, as before
have been but a short time, from the state of agitation A. I do not know the precise time, but suppose it to in which Mr. Lyon appeared.
Q. Do you know that he might not have spoken to some member, before he so came to you at the fire ?
A. I do not know that Mr. Lyon had spoken to any member between the termination of the dispute, and his coming to the fire.
Q. Do you know the precise time when the dispute took place?
A. I did not know anything of it, till Mr. Lyon
came to me.
JOSEPH B. VARNUM, Esq., one of the Representatives from the State of Massachusetts, being duly sworn, as aforesaid, on the seventh day of February, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight, deposed as follows:
I do not know the precise time when the fracas took place, and cannot therefore exactly tell how long it was before I saw Mr. Lyon. On the day on which the House were balloting for managers of the impeachment of William Blount, the ballots being collected, and the tellers counting them, I was standing at the fire in the west part of the House, in company with other gentlemen-the Speaker having left his chair, and the memMr. Lyon came up to the bers generally their seats. that he imagined there would be a bustle-that he had exterior of the circle round the fire, and observed, spit in Griswold's face. I observed to him that I was exceedingly sorry for it, and asked him how a thing of the kind could possibly take place. Mr. Lyon then told me the circumstances which he said provoked him
to do the act.
Q. What were the circumstances which induced you to believe that Mr. Lyon came to you at the fire immediately after the affray ?
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tinental establishment during the war, and that, in his endeavors to raise his regiment, the raising of our companies was wholly impeded. Finding the business A. When Mr. Lyon came up to the fire, he appeared falling into supineness, I applied to the General to disto be in a considerable agitation of mind. The inform-charge me and my men, in order that I might join ation I first received of the affray having taken place, Warner's regiment. The General at once agreed to was from Mr. Lyon. Pretty soon after Mr. Lyon and discharge and pay me and my men, and ordered me to I had ceased conversation on the subject, some other make up my pay roll for the purpose. But, at this gentlemen observed, that Mr. Griswold had armed him- juncture, application was made to the General by some self, or had gone out to arm himself; and, shortly after, people who had bought the crops of the Whigs, and I saw Mr. Griswold come in with a stick. These, with who had removed from Onion river; and he was inthe observations which Mr. Lyon made to me at that duced to order our party to march to Jericho, and take time, and which the Committee of the Whole have not post at a certain house on the north side of Onion thought proper for me to relate, were the circumstances river, at least sixty miles in advance of the army, towhich induced me to believe that Mr. Lyon came to wards Canada-from whence the army had retreated, me at the fire immediately after the affray took place? and about the same distance from any body of inhabiQ. Did Mr. Lyon tell you that he heard Mr. Gris. tants; and the General, instead of discharging, ordered wold twice use the expression respecting the wooden me to join one of the other companies. sword?
The following narrative was given by Mr. LYON, in the course of his defence, before the Committee of Privileges, on Thursday, the 1st of February: Gentlemen of the Committee:
After having heard so much about the "wooden sword," an expression, the repetition and application of which in an indignant manner has caused you this present trouble, I hope you'll indulge me with a patient hearing to a short narrative of the circumstance which awakens my feelings, and utterly disables me from bearing such reflections.
After living ten years in Connecticut, from my fif. teenth to twenty-fifth year, I removed to a new settlement in Vermont, then called New Hampshire Grants, about thirty miles from Ticonderoga. On the first attempt of the British Government to enslave this country, I joined with about twenty other young men to form a minute company, and to learn military exercise; we made proficiency, and, on the first news of actual warfare, we hastened to join Ethan Allen, in taking Ticonderoga, Crown Point, and St. John's. I continued in that service without pay or prospect of it, until the Connecticut forces came on to keep the forts; when I returned home to take care of my affairs, which had suffered in my absence. In the same Summer, 1775, the militia were organized, and I was appointed Adjutant to my regiment.
In 1776, after the retreat from Canada, Colonel Seth Warner, being out of employ, applied to the Commander-in-Chief in the Northern department, for some defence for the frontier of New Hampshire Grants, which became exposed by the retreat of the army. The General recommended to the Committee of the New Hampshire Grants, of which I was a member, to nominate the commissioned officers for six companies, and he promised to commission them, and that they should be entitled to Continental pay. In one of those companies I received a commission as a second lieutenant. I set about enlisting my men, and immediately obtained my quota, and, at my own expense, marched them to the rendezvous at Pitsford, about twenty miles southeast from Ticonderoga, which, by this time, had become head-quarters. At the rendezvous I found the Captain and First Lieutenant of my company had raised no men, and that there were but two companies, and a part of another, besides mine, raised, and that Colonel Warner, who was expected to have commanded our six companies, had received a commission and orders from Congress for raising a regiment on the Con5th CoN.-33
The idea of the people, and of the Committee of the New Hampshire Grants, was that these six companies, if they had all been raised, would have been stationed somewhere near Middlebury, which is opposite Crown Point, and about twelve miles east therefrom, and near forty miles southward of the places appointed by the General.
The commanding officer wrote to the General, representing the situation of the country, and the impossibility of our being of any service at Onion river, as all the well affected people were moved away. This letter was either neglected or answered with a fresh order for marching. The order was obeyed; but the soldiers considered themselves sacrificed to the interest of those persons who bought the crops for a trifle, and wanted I opposed those murmurs with all the arguments in my to get our party there to eat them at the public expense.
I used frequently to urge with them, that the absolute government of the army must be with the General; he could not be omniscient, and we ought to submit with cheerfulness and hope for the best. In this situation our little garrison, which contained about sixty men, besides invalids, were alarmed by the Indians taking some persons from a house about a mile distant. I immmediately called for Consternation prevailed. volunteers, and with about twenty men went to the house where the prisoners had been taken-from
thence took a circuit in the woods round the garrison, in order to see if there were any party or appearances of the enemy. Finding none, I returned and obtained leave to take about five and twenty of the best men, and pursue the enemy towards the Lakes, where we supposed they had gone. I had proceeded about two miles, when two runners from the commanding officer brought me positive orders to return, with intelligence that a subaltern officer had returned from a scout to the Lake Champlain, about twelve miles distant, where he saw five or six hundred Indians.
On my return, I found the soldiers more than ever anxious about their situation. They complained bitterly of the orders which bound them to the north side of Onion river, more than twenty poles wide, at that time not fordable, and but a single small canoe to cross with. I endeavored to encourage them with assurances that we could withstand any number of Indians in our log house and a hovel or two which stood near; and, after a battle, if we should find the enemy too troublesome, we might retreat with honor. I urged them to their duty as soldiers and patriots. Every preparation was made to repel the attack which was expected from