Mike Rohde



Late last week, Mike Rohde was honored with a portrait in Meriden City Hall for his years of consecutive service in elective office to that city. Mike served on the City Council for 19 years, and then went on to serve five years as mayor. During the ceremony, Mike said: “As my father used to say, ‘Always leave a place better than you found it.’ I hope in some small way I have been up to that challenge.”
Those words are a testament to Mike Rohde’s life well-lived. Mike was my wrestling coach in school at a place called Mount Saint Johns in Deep River, a small town on the Connecticut River. In those days, back in 1969, the school housed just under 200 teenage boys who simply had nowhere to go.
 All of us were from badly broken homes. Most of us were veterans of the foster care system and virtually all of us were from the worst parts of Bridgeport, Hartford, Waterbury, and New Haven. Mike, just out of college, newly married, and looking for a summer job working with disadvantaged children, had taken a position at the school as a child care worker. He was quickly promoted to special education teacher, and then child care director.
Mt. St. John

 It was during his term as child care director, an executive position, that a boy named Mike Guertin, a slightly built, soft spoken and good natured kid, had been complaining to Mike that he was constantly being pushed and bullied in his dorm. “That’s when it dawned on me,” Rohde said, “that a wrestling program might be the answer to the problem for Mike and a lot of other boys going through the same treatment. As it turned out, it was.” As for Mike Guertin: “He became quite a formidable wrestler. He gained confidence and never came to me and complained about bullying again.”

He wasn’t the only one. Wrestling taught every boy on the team about discipline, an important lesson since most of us came from backgrounds that were completely void of any sort of discipline. We weren’t bad kids but we were rough kids—street-wise, tough in different ways, and largely undereducated. We were also lost in the system and mostly forgotten. Mike saw that and took us under his wing. He redirected our anger, bad attitudes, and aggressions into the sport of wrestling. Along the way, he taught us to behave like gentlemen, to have fun, and most importantly he gave us a sense of belonging to something larger than ourselves. The lessons we learned on the wrestling matt could be carried through life: “You will get knocked flat on your keister. When that happens, get up again. Have confidence.” Even the boys who never won a match took on an air of confidence because we knew it took a special kind of courage to step onto the matt. Win or lose, wrestling ain’t for sissies.
                                 The first wrestling team, 1969. That's Mike on the far left 

We learned quickly that our opponents were as strong as we were but we could still beat them if we stayed calm and remembered what we had learned. “Work hard but work smart.” For every move in wrestling, there is a counter-move. Same thing in life, really. Wrestling gave us an understanding of how to develop physical strength and how to stay strong through lifting weights and calisthenics. And the beauty was, anybody could do it. Size didn’t matter because that particular training didn’t require the ability to throw straight, run fast, or dunk a basket. However it did require commitment again, something most of lacked in our personnel lives because no one had ever taught us what a work ethic was.
Rohde said: “My main thrust at (St. John) was to impart the skills and activities that I engaged in when I was a teenager….I taught the boys how to fish, practiced baiting hooks with rubber worms, and started an archery program. My wife, an art major, came in to do drawings and painting with the boys. I think most of the boys came away with a sense of fun, accomplishment and enjoyment.”

I can tell you, as one for those boys, it was fun; but it was a lot more therapeutic than the so-called “therapy sessions” we were forced to sit through with the school’s social workers. When he had to, Mike could lay down the law. With a group of kids like us, he really didn’t have any choice every now and then. But he could be remarkably inspiring and understanding as well.
Once when we went up against a wealthy prep school, I got pinned three times. At the end of the match I said to Mike, “I’m sorry” He asked, “For what?” “For losing,” I said. He said, “Did you give it your best?” I told him I had. He said, “Then, the heck with it. That’s all I want from you. Your best effort. You never lose when you give it your all, John.”
I have carried that simple message with me through my entire life. And on those occasions when I lose but didn’t try, I go back, lose again but retreat with the satisfaction of having at least tried.
That summer turned into a career for Mike Rohdes, spanning four decades of work with the state’s disadvantaged and socially challenged. From St. John’s, he went on to become the Director of the Curtis Home for Children and helped to establish an adoption and foster care program that recruited only appropriate and well-motivated families suitable to be good foster parents. The program provided training, ongoing oversight, and support for the families as well. Because of those efforts, a lot of kids in desperate need were able to finally find a loving, stable home after years of bouncing around in the Foster Care system.
At about that same time, in the mid-Seventies, Mike also pushed to successfully sue the State (Juan F. vs. State of CT) over grossly inadequate resources for children. As a long term survivor of that system, I can tell you first hand, it was a long time coming. Thankfully, Mike and his group won the federal lawsuit and that resulted in a Federal Consent Decree that is still in effect to this day. Because of that suit, DCF workers are getting better training, have lowers caseloads, and have instituted more community-based services as well as a restructuring of services that closed all the big group care institutions like Mt. St. John in favor of community-based services. Many more efforts were made to support and rehabilitate birth families and maintain the family connection if at all possible. So, there has been progress in the system but it took a federal lawsuit to make this happen.
I’m proud to know Mike Rohde. Because of him, my life, and the lives of countless other desperate children, is better. He left us better than he found us. I wish every kid in America had a Mike Rohde to look up to.
I want to leave you with the remarks Mike made to a graduation class of Middlesex High School in Connecticut when he was mayor of Meriden.  
 He said: “Several years ago, I was an avid mountain biker. Three times a week I would set out early in the morning on my 14-mile ride. Early in the ride there was a monster hill that I would fly down screaming at the top of my lungs, peddling as fast as I could. Always, as I reached the bottom, I would think about having to ride up this hill coming back home.
One day, as I turned to ride back up this hill, I spotted a frail elderly man, on an old three speed bike, slowly peddling up the hill. He was at the halfway point. I said to myself, ‘He will never make it all the way; for sure he will be walking his bike.’ So I start the ascent with my 20-speed mountain bike, peddling in the lowest gear, my legs and thighs straining for every inch. I’m huffing and puffing and bemoaning how tough this hill is.
  I look up and see that the old man is still slowly peddling up ahead (thinking that) surely he will start walking his bike at any second. I put my head down and dug for the energy to make the summit, quietly still moaning how tough this hill is. When I finally look up, I have reached the summit just as the old man reaches it still peddling his rickety old bike. I am amazed that he made it. I’m completely worn out, sweating, thighs burning and gasping for air.
 As I passed him he turned to me, smiled and said, ‘This is my favorite hill.’ I thought to myself, ‘You son of a gun, I’m dying here and you’re treating this hill like a walk in the park. I’m younger, in good shape, on my fancy mountain bike. You’re on your on antique bike grinding it out with a smile on your face.’
 But what a message, what a lesson.

 We were both on the same hill. I chose to treat this like a painful obstacle and moan and complain about how hard it was. He saw this as a joyful challenge to be embraced and happily conquered. So here it is. We have choices in our lives how we will react and respond to difficult challenges. The choices are clear. We can view them as horribly difficult and demanding, while feeling sorry for ourselves and complaining as we plow our way through, begrudging every step. Or, we can be like the elderly bike rider, joyfully accepting the inevitable difficulties we encounter in life with a happy acceptance. And bring the attitude that we have the ability to accomplish difficult challenges and then triumph in these successes. The choice is yours. I wish you all best on your life’s journey.”

Hayden Carruth

Hayden Carruth (August 3, 1921 – September 29, 2008) was a poet and literary critic. He taught at Syracuse University.
Carruth was born in Waterbury grew up in Woodbury,  and was educated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at the University of Chicago. He lived in Johnson, Vermont for many years. Carruth taught at Syracuse University, in the Graduate Creative Writing Program, where he taught and mentored many younger poets, including Brooks Haxton and Allen Hoey. He resided with his wife, poet Joe-Anne McLaughlin Carruth near the small central New York village of Munnsville. He wrote for over sixty years. Carruth died from complications following a series of strokes
Carruth wrote more than 30 books of poetry, four books of literary criticism, essays, a novel and two poetry anthologies. He served as editor of Poetry magazine, as poetry editor of Harper's, and as advisory editor of The Hudson Review 20 years. He was awarded a Bollingen Prize and Guggenheim and the NEA fellowships
In 1992 he was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for his Collected Shorter Poems and in 1996 the National Book Award in poetry for his Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey. Shortly after the debut of Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey, he also won the $50,000 Lannan Literary Award.
His later titles include the 2001 collection of poems Doctor Jazz and a 70-minute audio CD of him reading selections from Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey and Collected Shorter Poems. His Last Poems[] (Copper Canyon Press, 2012) combines poems written toward the end of his life with the concluding poems from twenty-six of his previous volumes
Other awards with which he was honored included the Carl Sandburg Award, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the 1990 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Vermont Governor's Medal and the Whiting Award.
Noted for the breadth of his linguistic and formal resources, influenced by jazz and the blues, Carruth's poems are informed by his political radicalism and sense of cultural responsibility
Many of Carruth's best-known poems are about the people and places of northern Vermont, as well as rural poverty and hardship, addressing loneliness, insanity, and death. One of his most celebrated poems is "Emergency Haying".

Emergency Haying
Hayden Carruth
Coming home with the last load I ride standing
on the wagon tongue, behind the tractor
in hot exhaust, lank with sweat,

my arms strung
awkwardly along the hayrack, cruciform.
Almost 500 bales we’ve put up

this afternoon, Marshall and I.
And of course I think of another who hung
like this on another cross. My hands are torn

by baling twine, not nails, and my side is pierced
by my ulcer, not a lance. The acid in my throat
is only hayseed. Yet exhaustion and the way

my body hangs from twisted shoulders, suspended
on two points of pain in the rising
monoxide, recall that greater suffering.

Well, I change grip and the image
fades. It’s been an unlucky summer. Heavy rains
brought on the grass tremendously, a monster crop,

but wet, always wet. Haying was long delayed.
Now is our last chance to bring in
the winter’s feed, and Marshall needs help.

We mow, rake, bale, and draw the bales
to the barn, these late, half-green,
improperly cured bales; some weigh 150 pounds

or more, yet must be lugged by the twine
across the field, tossed on the load, and then
at the barn unloaded on the conveyor

and distributed in the loft. I help –
I, the desk-servant, word-worker –
and hold up my end pretty well too; but God,

the close of day, how I fall down then. My hands
are sore, they flinch when I light my pipe.
I think of those who have done slave labor,

less able and less well prepared than I.
Rose Marie in the rye fields of Saxony,
her father in the camps of Moldavia

and the Crimea, all clerks and housekeepers
herded to the gaunt fields of torture. Hands
too bloodied cannot bear

even the touch of air, even
the touch of love. I have a friend
whose grandmother cut cane with a machete

and cut and cut, until one day
she snicked her hand off and took it
and threw it grandly at the sky. Now

in September our New England mountains
under a clear sky for which we’re thankful at last
begin to glow, maples, beeches, birches

in their first color. I look
beyond our famous hayfields to our famous hills,
to the notch where the sunset is beginning,

then in the other direction, eastward,
where a full new-risen moon like a pale
medallion hangs in a lavender cloud

beyond the barn. My eyes
sting with sweat and loveliness. And who
is the Christ now, who

if not I? It must be so. My strength
is legion. And I stand up high
on the wagon tongue in my whole bones to say

woe to you, watch out
you sons of bitches who would drive men and women
to the fields where they can only die.

From The University of Chicago Magazine
Lives of a Poet
Richard Mertens is a freelance writer and a doctoral student in the Committee on Social Thought.

Hayden Carruth, AM’47, has the trappings of a successful writer, including the National Book Award for Poetry. But his long road to literary laurels has had more than its share of agonizing detours.
Hayden Carruth was 33 years old when doctors told him he would never again live a normal life. He had served in the Second World War, earned a master’s degree at Chicago, and gone on to edit Poetry magazine, one of America’s most distinguished literary journals. In 1949 Carruth, AM’47, took the bold step—bold for such a young and unknown editor—of defending Ezra Pound, scorned for his pro-Fascist wartime broadcasts, when Pound received the Bollingen Prize. He envisioned a long career as a poet, critic, and editor.
But this promise seemed lost when he suffered an alcoholic breakdown in New York City and ended up at the White Plains branch of New York Hospital, formerly the Bloomingdale Asylum. In The Bloomingdale Papers, poems composed during his hospitalization, he wrote:
The diagnosis is
Anxiety psychoneurosis
(Chronic and acute)
Complicated by
Generalized phobic
Extensions and alcoholism.
Fifteen months in the “loony bin,” as he calls it, failed to cure him. His crackup was in part the result of phobias and anxieties that had haunted him all his life, complicated by the alcohol he drank to keep them at bay. After his release he spent most of the next decade in seclusion, too wracked with fear to venture out. He continued to write, but it was, he has said, “like squeezing old glue out of the tube.”
He never recovered completely, but he did manage to reenter the world. Drugs helped, as did the friendship of an understanding psychiatrist. So did music, work, the love of women, and two decades spent scraping a living in northern Vermont. There, far from the trodden paths of literary advancement, he began to regain his footing and find his voice. He did it by becoming “a yokel, a countryman, a guy who split wood and worked in a potato field”—and a poet of unusual range and power.
His first book of poems, The crow and the heart, came out in 1959, five years after he left the hospital. Some 30 books followed, mostly poetry but also a novel, an anthology of American poetry, a collection of autobiographical essays, and a volume of letters to the poet Jane Kenyon published last September. He has published several collections of reviews—work taken to pay the bills but that has earned him a reputation as a first-rate critic. And he has written a book of essays on jazz and the blues, lifelong fascinations.
His poems explore the landscape of suffering and loss and are finely pitched to what Keats called the “still sad music of humanity.” Carruth is also a poet of the erotic, alert to and grateful for the possibilities of joy. His poems are technically accomplished—and deeply personal. He draws upon philosophy, history, and literature while writing about everyday matters, from the hard lives of Vermont hill farmers to his struggles with mental illness. Gritty and unsentimental, his poems are disarmingly forthright. Wendell Berry, the Kentucky farmer and poet, has said, “In his poems mind and heart speak as one, and his work has, in rare degree, the quality of trustworthiness.”
Yet for many years Carruth earned little recognition. Vermont named him poet laureate only after he had left for upstate New York. But at 83 he has accrued a growing band of admirers and earned honors that long eluded him, including the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award. Writing in the Nation in 1991, editor Ted Solotaroff, AM’56, praised him as “a people’s poet, readily understood, a tribune of our common humanity, welfare and plight.” Carruth, he said, “has worked as much in the American grain as any figure of his generation.”
Carruth today lives in the hilly limestone country between Utica and Syracuse. He and his fourth wife, Joe-Anne McLaughlin-Carruth, have a small red house perched on a hillside just outside the town of Munnsville, with a wide view of Stockbridge Valley. He bought the house on impulse in 1988 while on the faculty at Syracuse University, where he taught for a decade after leaving Vermont. A birdfeeder stands crookedly out front, and daisies and hawkweed flower in a nearby meadow. Traffic whooshes past, too close, on New York State Highway 46.
On a gray, drizzly day last August, he rises late and eats breakfast at 1:30 p.m. This is typical for Carruth, who even as a child suffered from insomnia. With a raspy but cheerful “Come in! Come in!” he walks to the door in slippers, baggy shorts, and a sleeveless undershirt. His green eyes are small and watery, his skin sallow from too much time indoors. He trails a line of clear plastic tubing that delivers oxygen to his nostrils from a pump humming in his living room—the consequence of emphysema from a lifetime of smoking. With untrimmed white beard and flowing gray hair, he has an ancient, wild look.
Since open-heart surgery three years ago Carruth has moved more slowly. He sometimes shuffles up the road, pushing his oxygen tank in front of him, but even this modest exercise is difficult. He hardly goes anywhere except to accompany his wife to the store, or to visit her relatives in New Jersey. He gives occasional readings, as he did last fall in Vermont, but spends most of his time at home, watching birds at the feeder, listening to the radio or watching TV, or slouched in a soft chair in the middle of a cluttered study, tapping out letters or other work on his laptop.
Carruth’s wife, also a poet, hovers near him, a slender woman with thick auburn hair. Despite a 30-year age difference, the two are close; they share their solitude in a town where both feel like exiles. Carruth’s poems pay frequent homage to his wife and her predecessors, sometimes in ways too personal for her taste. “He just has no sense of privacy,” she complains. “None! He’ll tell people anything. And he thinks that’s the way you should be in the world.” Carruth grins. Bluntness and candor are old habits.
Women have been an indispensable ingredient in his life. Whatever pain his relationships have caused—and there has been plenty on both sides—women have led him again and again out of the prison of his anxieties and back into the human community. He has married them, left them and been left, longed for them, depended on them—and written about them, as in “Wife Poem”:
…His last
cigarette, his final gulp of chardonnay,
and he presses against her warm glow,
thinking of how he swam as a boy
of twelve in the warm pond beyond
the elms and hickories at the meadow’s
edge. He turned like a sleepy carp among
the water lilies, under the dragonflies
and hot clouds of the old days of summer.
Rejecting God and religion and what he sometimes dismisses as “Christian bullshit,” Carruth seeks no more transcendence than what human love affords. “The women in my life got me through, and sex with them got me through,” he says. “I think it’s more fun than anything else in the world, and more meaningful than anything else. Now I’m old and decrepit and I can say these things.”
Carruth celebrates communion of all sorts. As singular and outspoken as he can be, he thinks the ideal of American individualism is dangerous and inherently violent. He knows too well the costs of solitude, and his poems display a respect for ordinary people. He has a soft spot for animals. Smudgie—or Miss Smudge, as he calls the cat more formally—was a thin, disease-ridden stray when he took her in a decade ago. “She’s nothing but bones and fur,” he says, picking her up and stroking her lank body. “But she’s a nice little cat. And she likes me and I like her, so we take care of each other.”
Carruth admits to being “a pessimist, skeptic, and grump.” He has written an entire poem against the assumption, perpetuated by the movies, that when someone hangs up the phone the person on the other end hears a dial tone. He has a sly, often self-deprecatory sense of humor. In “While Reading Bashõ” he addresses the Japanese poet:
Had you air, Bashõ?
I mean enough to climb those
mountains? Or did you
stop every ten steps,
leaning on your staff and gasping
like a fish ashore?
Heavy drinking has at times made him difficult company. And yet he has the gift of friendship. He has been especially helpful to the young poets he has known. The Vermont poet David Budbill describes Carruth as “a temperamental, explosive, cantankerous, wonderful, generous, kind person.”
On the day after his 83rd birthday, Carruth is in excellent spirits. His wife brews coffee and serves leftover birthday cake, which he eats with relish. Sitting at the kitchen table, he talks for hours—by turns gracious, opinionated, and funny. “I’m pumped!” he says late in the day.
Carruth, whose grandfather wrote speeches for Eugene Debs, calls himself an “old-line anarchist” and a “rural communist with a small c.” On this day he grumbles about President Bush. In 1998 he declined an invitation to the Clinton White House for a celebration of American poetry, explaining in a letter that “it would seem the greatest hypocrisy for an honest American poet to be present on such an occasion at the seat of the power which has not only neglected but abused the interests of poets and their readers continually, to say nothing of many other administratively dispensable segments of the population.” He has long resisted the notion that politics—or anything else—doesn’t belong in poetry. His poems are democratic in the broadest sense, siding with the weak against the powerful, oppressed against oppressor. His sympathies extend even to despised creatures like rats and car salesmen. “I’ve always felt sorry for the rats,” he says.
A cry of protest rings through his work, an echo of what the New Yorker called his “well-tuned orneriness.” He has written antiwar poems protesting Bosnia, Vietnam, Korea, Waterloo, and Troy. In “Emergency Haying” he uses an anecdote about helping a neighbor bale hay to condemn suffering on a much wider scale:
…. My hands
are sore, they flinch when I light my pipe.
I think of those who have done slave labor,
less able and less well prepared than I.
Rose Marie in the rye fields of Saxony,
her father in the camps of Moldavia
and the Crimea, all clerks and housekeepers
herded to the gaunt fields of torture….
… And I stand up high
on the wagon tongue in my whole bones to say
woe to you, watch out
you sons of bitches who would drive men and women
to the fields where they can only die.
For Carruth the world is suffused with sadness. In a 2003 interview he recalled as a child “looking at the stars in the summertime…and feeling a tremendous sorrow from simply knowing that they are not permanent.” But his awareness of impermanence does not keep him from finding opportunities to celebrate and affirm. Music, especially jazz and the blues, has given him many. In Chicago he taught himself to play the clarinet and frequented jazz clubs like the Bee Hive on 55th Street. After his hospitalization he played the clarinet for hours each day, sometimes accompanying Music-Minus-One recordings. His essays have celebrated jazz musicians and explored links between jazz and literature. Calling jazz “an eloquent articulation of every serious artistic, social, cultural, and philosophical happening in my lifetime,” he suggests in the poem “Freedom and Discipline” that, at some level, poetry and jazz are one:
Freedom and discipline concur
only in ecstasy, all else
is shoveling out the muck.
Give me my old hot horn.
Carruth grew up in Woodbury, a small country town in western Connecticut. His father and grandfather were writers and editors, and he assumed he would follow in “the family racket.” He studied journalism at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he worked for the student newspaper and met his first wife, Sara Hudson, AM’47, PhD’58. “He was interesting and full of life and ideas,” recalls Hudson, professor emerita of English at Auburn University. “We were all gung-ho New Dealers. We had a lot in common that way.” They married in 1943 on graduation day and enlisted in the Army, Carruth in the Army Air Corps (serving in Italy) and Hudson as a WAC. After the war they took advantage of the G.I. bill to enroll at Chicago.
“We just thought it would be more fun to go to school than to get a job,” Carruth says. It turned out to be an intellectual awakening. His earlier literary education had been fusty and antiquarian. At Chicago he took courses in 20th-century literature, bought literary magazines at the 57th Street bookstores, and made friends with other aspiring writers, such as Henry Rago, a poet and teacher who became one of his closest friends. Carruth had been writing poems since childhood; now he began to write more seriously and with a heightened understanding of poetry’s possibilities.
“Coming to Chicago, at that time and in that atmosphere, which you can’t altogether recover...was a very liberating experience,” he says. “You can’t read Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot and people like that without getting the idea that poetry is really important, and that poetic language is pure and has a certain element of social significance to it, and social influence. I bought that line completely.”
Realizing that he was not cut out for academe, he abandoned his studies and went to work at Poetry magazine, which had already begun to publish his poems. Soon afterward, in spring 1950, he was promoted to editor. Poetry had a distinguished record of discovering and championing the best new American poets, and its offices were still a crossroads of literary activity in Chicago. Yet Carruth felt the magazine had grown staid. As he would write to his successor, Karl Shapiro, “Poetry was a pussyfooting magazine for so long it damn near collapsed, & what it needs is a little life.”
He tried to give it that life. He expanded its prose section of essays, reviews, and editorials, some of which he wrote himself. He campaigned in the magazine in support of Ezra Pound and the committee that had awarded him the Bollingen Prize, praising Pound as “the poet whom nearly all of us would have to nominate as the single living person who has done the most to explore and develop the technical capacities of poetry in English.” On a broader, more philosophical level he defended modern poetry and decried “the enemies of poetry, who are also the enemies of life.”
Carruth’s Chicago years shaped his sense of vocation, but they also brought growing difficulties. His anxieties became pronounced. He suffered from extreme stagefright and once fled a class he was teaching at a Gary, Indiana, college. Walking down the street was equally harrowing: several times he collapsed on the sidewalk from the strain. He began to see a psychoanalyst, but it didn’t seem to help. “He was getting worse,” Hudson says. “He said he’d rather be blind than have what he was afflicted with.”
Carruth drank a lot—everyone seemed to. “We had great parties, and probably too much drinking,” says Hudson. His domestic life grew increasingly tumultuous. When upset, he’d jump in his car and drive off, sometimes disappearing for days. “Hayden is very headstrong and is determined to do, often against his best interest, what he feels he has to do,” Hudson says. “I can only describe it as compulsive. And it was self-destructive.”
His job at Poetry also soured. He clashed with the magazine’s trustees, who felt uncomfortable with his forays into literary politics. For his part, Carruth chafed at restrictions: the trustees had insisted that other editors approve any poems the young editor published. Carruth’s behavior also offended. In the middle of the night, Hudson recalls, Carruth called up trustee Marion Strobel and, with his wife imploring him not to, told Strobel he was quitting. In January 1951, less than a year after he became editor, Poetry’s trustees replaced him.
Losing his job was a blow, but a worse one followed. Months after the birth of their daughter Martha (a painter who died in 1997), Hudson left him, returning to Alabama with their child. The split would haunt him for years. It was, he once reflected, the “principal and determinative fact of my life.”
Carruth found a new job at the University of Chicago Press, where he met Eleanor Ray. When Ray moved to New York he followed, and they both found publishing work. Their marriage in 1952 was short-lived. Carruth’s mental state was fragile, and in summer 1953 he fell apart. His psychoanalyst found him drunk in his apartment and urged him to seek hospitalization. “I had one of my abandonment crises,” Carruth explains. “That’s a phobic part of my psychopathology. Nobody knows what started it exactly. But I can’t stand to be alone. I go completely off the rails.”
So Carruth entered Bloomingdale. At first his doctors urged him to write poems as therapy. He used a portable typewriter, sitting before the window of his small cell. Two decades later, in 1975, the University of Georgia Press published The Bloomingdale Papers, which gives an account of the forces that led to his breakdown:
I don’t mean to say
There weren’t good times.
The bad predominated.
Booze helped immensely.
Work also, but not,
Unfortunately, writing.
Friends and parties and lovers
Lent ease to my unease
Sparingly. The doctors kept
The anxious pot aboil.
So passed the years.
The writing therapy failed to cure him. A few months later, he was transferred to a ward for chronic cases and underwent a series of electroshock treatments. For the rest of his stay he wrote no more poetry. Instead he watched the McCarthy hearings on television and played, by his count, 1,500 games of solitaire. But he kept trying to get his poems published. On June 26, 1954, he sent a batch of poems to Shapiro, Poetry’s new editor, with an apologetic note: “I am very sorry to submit to you such unprintable manuscripts, and without any return postage, but that is the best I can do in this place. I hope you don’t mind. Please exercise your judgment severely on these.”
When he left the hospital he was in worse shape, he says, than when he entered it. He spent the next five years living in an attic room in his parents’ house in Pleasantville, not far from White Plains. In 1999, in a short essay in The Sewanee Review, he described his state of mind:
Agoraphobia is when a stranger enters the house and you go to the attic and lie down with your face pressed into the darkest corner, under the slanting slats of the roof. It’s the scream lurking in your gorge, so ready to burst that the least noise above a cat’s purr makes you tremble: when the marching band from the high school practices in the street outside you sit in the back of the closet, when the March wind lashes the treetops at night you crawl behind the sofa. Agoraphobia is when every night at 2:00 a.m. for five years—that’s 1,825 nights—you go out loaded with Thorazine to walk in the street beneath the dark, blank windows of the houses on either side, and you never get more than a hundred yards from your door. ... Agoraphobia is when you breathe and eat the dust of oblivion.
Carruth was not especially close to his family. Although his younger brother Gorton attended the U of C when he did, their paths seldom crossed. “He ran his life and I ran mine,” says Gorton, PhB’48, now living in Briarcliff Manor, New York. It didn’t help that Carruth wrote unflattering accounts of family dynamics. Of his lifelong smoking habit, which began when he picked up cigarette butts as a nine-year-old, he wrote that it was one way to defy “the whole mind-set of Carruthian secular and neurotic puritanism” and “the fear of talking about it, of talking about anything that might be charged with negative feeling”:
Cigarette smoking was a way to cross the immense barrier between the Carruths and the rest of the world, which I wanted to do more than anything. I wanted to be ‘out there’ with the others, away from solitude and fear. I never made it and never will. Precisely how this dynamic knot of attraction and repulsion evolved over the years and became an ineradicable component of my being, is unknown to me. I doubt anyone could figure it out except in gross, uninteresting terms. But I know it is there, close to the heart of my psychopathological life, creative and destructive, a strength, a weakness, a function of the basic energy that has always driven me.
Carruth tried with difficulty to keep up with friends. “You do have your beautiful lake, though, which I think of often with great longing,” he wrote to Henry Rago, who had become editor of Poetry. “Someday I hope to see it again.” In 1958 he sent Rago some poems but suffered doubt, saying, “I am timorous about many of these things because I know they are not in the fashionable mode and, aside from my poor talents, may seem simpleminded. I work as I must, however.” Turned down for a Ford Foundation grant, he despaired, “I begin to perceive that I am pretty much a has-been in this literary business.”
His most pressing concern was how to make a living. An office job like those he’d held in Chicago and New York was out of the question. His publishing contacts eventually helped him pick up contract work, reviewing books, writing blurbs, ghostwriting, and editing encyclopedias. He spent four years compiling his anthology, The Voice That is Great Within Us: American Poetry in the Twentieth Century. Once, desperate for work, he typed manuscripts for $1 per page. This “hackwork,” as he called it, occupied his time and energy for the next 25 years. He resented it but took it seriously. “I did a good job,” he says. “I know grammar up and down and backwards. I had a pretty good vocabulary. I can fix up people’s manuscripts—I spent my life doing it, poetry and prose. And I’ve done it for money when I could get it.”
During his isolation Carruth continued his education. “On the weekends I read Aristotle, who strains my inexperienced brain fearfully,” he wrote Rago in 1959. “My aim is to live to be 90 and complete my education at 85. This will give me a five-year vacation.” Of the hundreds of books he read, Camus struck him most forcefully. As much as the writer’s existentialist convictions, he admired his commitment to truth, and resolved to adopt a similar stance: “I had to say to myself when I was in my 30s, with Camus in mind, that I’m going to write what I know is honest and true about myself with my own talent,” he says. “I started out writing formal poetry, not only formal in language but formal in attitude, trying to be the big Eliot-type person. And it wasn’t for me at all. I realized if I was going to get anywhere at all, either in literature or in life, I had to change, and I had to become open, totally.”
After five years in his parents’ attic Carruth improved enough to move to Norfolk, Connecticut, where he lived in a cottage that belonged to James Laughlin of New Directions books—Ezra Pound’s publisher—whom he’d met while at Poetry. He did editorial work for Laughlin, and he met Rose Marie Dorn, a young refugee from Eastern Europe. In 1961, at age 40, he married for the third time. The couple had a son, David, and when they went looking for a home they concluded that the only place they could afford to buy was in northern Vermont. They found a house with 14 acres and a creek outside the town of Johnson, near the spine of the Green Mountains, 25 miles from Canada.
Carruth worried that the residents would distrust him because he was college educated and wrote poetry. But when he proved he could fix machinery and cut wood, they accepted him. “I had a lot of friends, many country people, in the town of Johnson and surrounding towns. I worked on their farms, and they helped me on my place.”
He helped his nearest neighbor, a dairy farmer named Marshall Washer, do chores in exchange for milk. He raised a garden, kept ducks and chickens, and sold eggs. It took him a month each year to cut enough wood to heat his house during the long winter. As he makes clear in “Concerning Necessity,” this was no rural idyll:
ho we say drive the wedge
heave the axe run the hand shovel
dig the potato patch
dig ashes dig gravel
tickle the dyspeptic chain saw
make him snarl once more
while the henhouse needs cleaning
the fruitless corn to be cut
and the house is falling to pieces
the car coming apart
the boy sitting and complaining
about something everything anything
Earning a living meant doing manual labor during the day and hackwork in the evening. Only after midnight could he turn to poetry. In his workroom, a one-cow barn he had wired and fitted with a woodstove, he wrote until five or six in the morning before going out to shovel snow or to split wood.
“It was a hard life, but it was not impossible,” he says. And it did him good. Everything about his life in Vermont—the work, the land, the seasons, the people, his family—seemed to carry him toward “a gradual triumph over the internal snarls and screw-ups that had crippled me from childhood on.” Budbill says that Carruth couldn’t ride a bus or read his poems before an audience but functioned well enough with the individuals and small groups he might run into on trips to town. “He’d stand around and jaw with whoever was there, for hours,” Budbill says. “In those kinds of contexts, with ordinary people, in the feed store, restaurants, wherever, he was as gregarious as any human being could be.”
Vermont also transformed Carruth’s poetry. At times his work made writing poetry impossible, and he almost forgot he was a poet. Yet his poetry became more vital, liberated. “I could write poetry about things I really knew something about,” he says. “I could write about simple things in simple language and I wanted to do that. ... I didn’t want to be Robert Frost exactly. I mean I definitely didn’t want to be Robert Frost. I didn’t like much of his poetry and many of his attitudes. But I did want to be a country poet who was appreciated and read as widely as possible.”
His country poems are among his most popular and highly praised. Poems like “Marshall Washer” describe with intimacy and straightforward affection the land, its inhabitants, and a way of life that was dying even as he wrote about it.
They are cowshit farmers, these New Englanders
who built our red barns so admired as emblems,
in photograph, in paint, of America’s imagined
past (backward utopians that we’ve become).
But let me tell how it is inside those barns.
Warm. Even in dead of winter, even in the
dark night solid with thirty below, thanks
to huge bodies breathing heat and grain sacks
stuffed under doors and in broken windows, warm,
and heaped with reeking, steaming manure, running
with urine that reeks even more, the wooden channels
and flagged aisles saturated with a century’s
Carruth has a sharp eye for nature and humanity. Until recently, his wife says, he carefully recorded the daily weather, including temperature, rainfall, and barometric pressure. His Vermont poems adopt the voice and point of view of ordinary people, like this old hill farmer in the long poem “The Sleeping Beauty”:
...I mind
When them old hooters had plenty eating material
Round these parts, and other folk too. Course
That were times gone. You could prevail
With but fourteen head of cows
Then, if you had the makings.

What I call
Makings of a man. And that means straight out all
The time, with children on the way,
An orchard, guarding, a fair stand of hay,
Pigs, chickens, you know—what we meant by farming
In those days. It’s all changed now.
In Vermont Carruth was not cut off entirely from literary society. In summer he had visits from such admirers as Mark Van Doren, Denise Levertov, and Adrienne Rich. The 1960s back-to-the-land movement also brought younger poets to Vermont. He encouraged their writing, though their friendships were not primarily literary, says Budbill. “It was mostly based on country life, exchanging recipes, helping each other split wood, smoke a pig. We talked a lot more in those days about pickups and quality of the wood than about poetry and iambic pentameter.”
By 1979 Carruth was working 80 to 90 hours a week and still earning too little to support his family. He tried unsuccessfully to find full-time work at a Vermont college or university, and when Syracuse University offered him a professorship in its graduate program in creative writing, he left Vermont—and his wife—for suburban Syracuse and the more conventional academic life of a contemporary poet. It took him time to get used to teaching. His anxieties persisted; too afraid to cross the university quadrangle, he skirted around the edges. In 1985 he returned to Vermont, but a year later was back in Syracuse. In 1988 a breakup with a girlfriend led him to attempt suicide.
Still, Syracuse led to a new stage in his development as a poet. Living on the city’s outskirts he began writing poems inspired by people he encountered along the commercial strips, poems gathered into Asphalt Georgics (New Directions, 1985). And a series of honors arrived. It was the professorship, Budbill suspects, that finally admitted Carruth “into the circle of acceptance” and led to his Collected Shorter Poems: 1946–1991 (Copper Canyon Press, 1992) earning the 1992 National Book Critics Circle Award. Four years later Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey: Poems 1991–1995 (Copper Canyon Press, 1996) won the National Book Award.
The awards have made him feel no less an outsider. He remains bitter about what he considers his marginalization by the literary establishment. Yet his admirers have not stinted their praise. As long ago as 1986 M. L. Rosenthal declared in the New York Times that Carruth “has now become our elegist par excellence.” Joseph Parisi, AM’67, PhD’73, another of his Poetry successors as editor, admires Carruth’s perseverance. “It’s a remarkable story of endurance, of tremendous power of will,” Parisi says. “I think it’s a heroic life myself. Hayden is a genuine poet who has never been one to play the game, which is what so many writers do now. Instead of being a smooth, glad-handing, conference-going kind of guy, he kept his energies focused on what was important, which was his work.” Writes Pulitzer-winning poet Galway Kinnell, “More than in the case of any other poet, Carruth responds to Whitman’s words: ‘I was the man, I suffer’d, I was there.’”
For Carruth struggle has been the stuff of life and poetry. “If you’ve got any courage and any sense of responsibility, you’ll do what you have to do,” he observes. “I don’t give myself any extraordinary credit for that. But the difficulties were there and the difficulties made my poetry better. I’m convinced of that.”
The final adversary, old age, is, and has been, upon him. He has written about that too, in poems like “Song: Now that She is Here”:
Old age is failure. Natural
Exhaustion, mind and body letting go,
Words misremembered, ideas frayed like old silk.
Carruth still writes poems, but not often, and none that satisfy him. He has abandoned his most ambitious project, a four-part epic called American Flats, which was to have begun with the conquest of Mexico. He’s too old, he says, tapping his forehead. More and more thoughts of death crowd his mind. Most of his old friends are gone, including his Vermont neighbor, the farmer Marshall Washer, who died in 2003.
What is left? In an autobiographical essay, Carruth compares writing a poem to sexual climax. “In the ecstasy of composition,” he says, the poet “is most himself, yet…at that very moment is also aware of his communion with many others, or with the great Other at the center of humanity.” When the poem is finished, he says, the knowledge of communion doesn’t vanish. It remains:

So it is for the old man in his cave of darkness, regretting his arthritis and impotence and failing imagination. The knowledge of communion is still there.

Wicked Cool New England Recipes: How to Cook Like a Farmer & Other Lessons from Bee...

Wicked Cool New England Recipes: How to Cook Like a Farmer & Other Lessons from Bee...: Food 52 By Leslie Stephens We’re sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their ...

A interesting journal of Abner Stocking

Published by the relatives of Abner Stocking, now deceased
ALL things being in readiness for our departure, we set out from Cambridge, near Boston, on the 13th Sept. at sunset, and encamped at Mistick at eight o'clock at night. We were all in high spirits, intending to endure with fortitude, all the fatigues and hardships, that we might meet with in our march to Quebec.
September 14th. This morning we began our march at 5 o'clock and at sunset encamped at Danvers, a place twenty miles distant from Mistick.
The weather through the day was very sultry and hot for the season of the year. The country through which we passed appeared barren and but thinly inhabited.
September 15th. This morning we marched very early, and encamped at night within five miles of Newbury Port. The inhabitants who visited us in our encampment expressed many good wishes for our success in our intended enterprise.
September 16th. Zealous in the cause, and not knowing the hardships and distresses we were to encounter, we as usual began our march very early.—At eight o'clock we arrived at Newbury Port where we were to tarry several days and make preparations for our voyage. We were here to go on board vessels which we found lying ready to receive us, and carry us to the mouth of the Kennebeck. The mouth of the Kennebeck river is about thirty leagues to the eastward of Newbury Port.
September 17th. We are still at Newbury Port and are ordered to appear at a general review.
We passed the review with much honor to ourselves. We manifested great zeal and animation in the cause of liberty and went through with the manual exercise with much alacrity.
The spectators, who were very numerous, appeared much affected. They probably thought we had many hardships to encounter and many of us should never return to our parents and families.
September 18th. We this day embarked at six o'clock in the afternoon. Our fleet consisted of eleven sail, sloops and schooners. Our whole number of troops was 1100—11 companies of musketmen and three companies of riflemen. We hauled off into the road and got ready to weigh anchor in the morning if the wind should be favorable.
September 19th. This morning we got under way with a pleasant breeze, our drums beating, fifes playing and colours flying.
Many pretty Girls stood upon the shore, I suppose weeping for the departure of their sweethearts.
At eleven o'clock this day we left the entrance of the harbor and bore away for Kennebeck river. In the latter part of the night, there came on a thick fog and our fleet was separated. At break of day we found ourselves in a most dangerous situation, very near a reef of rocks. The rocks indeed appeared on all sides of us, so that we feared we should have been dashed to pieces on some of them. We were brought into this deplorable situation by means of liquor being dealt out too freely to our pilots.—Their intemperance much endangered their own lives and the lives of all the officers and soldiers on board; but through the blessing of God we all arrived safe in Kennebeck river.
September 20. This day was very pleasant, and with a gentle breeze we sailed and rowed 30 miles up the Kennebeck river. By the evening tide we floated within 6 miles of Fort Western, where we were obliged to leave our sloops and take to our batteaus.
September 21. This day we arrived at Fort Western, where we tarried until the 25th in order to make farther preparation for our voyage up the river, and our march through the wilderness.
While remaining in this place I was called to witness a scene which to me was awful and very affecting; the more so I presume as it was the first of the kind I ever beheld. A civil, well behaved and much beloved young man, belonging to Captain Williams' company, was shot. He lived but about twelve hours, and died in great horror and agony of mind at the thought of going into eternity and appearing before his God and judge. He was from the north parish of New-London and had a wife and four or five children.
The supposed murderer was James McCormick. The circumstances of his being out all night, and his guilty looks and actions, were pretty convincing proof against him. He was tryed by a Court-Martial and sentenced to be hanged until dead, his gallows erected, and all things prepared for his execution. Our Chaplain conversed with him respecting his crime, the awful punishment he was soon to suffer, and the more awful and never ending punishment that would await him in the eternal world if he did not repent and believe in Christ. He would not confess himself guilty of intentionally murdering the young man; but that he intended to have killed his captain, with whom he had the night before a violent quarrel. He was brought to the gallows, a prayer made, and the time for his execution almost arrived, when Colonel Arnold thought best to reprieve him and send him to General Washington. I have been informed, that he died in gaol before the day of his execution arrived.
September 25th. Early this morning, we embarked on board our batteaus and proceeded on our way. We labored hard through the day and found ourselves at night but about 7 miles from the place of our departure. The current began to be swift. We encamped at night by the edge of a cornfield and fared very sumptuously.
September 26th. This day we started very early and made our encampment at evening 4 miles below Fort Halifax. We began to experience great difficulty from the increasing rapidity of the current, and the water becoming shoal.
September 27th. This day we carried our batteaus and baggage round Ticonnick falls. The land carriage was only about 40 rods. After launching in again and getting our provisions and baggage on board, we pushed against the stream on our way about three miles.
September 28th. This day we proceeded 8 miles but with great difficulty. The stream was in some places very rapid and shoal, and in others so deep that those who dragged the boats were obliged to nearly swim. We encountered these hardships and fatigues with great courage and perseverance from the zeal we felt in the cause. When night came on, wet and fatigued as we were, we had to encamp on the cold ground. It was at this time that we inclined to think of the comfortable accommodations we had left at home.
September 29th. This day we arrived to the second carrying place, called Skowhegan falls. Though this was only 60 rods over, it occasioned much delay and great fatigue. We had to ascend a ragged rock, near on 100 feet in height and almost perpendicular. Though it seemed as though we could hardly ascend it without any burden, we succeeded in dragging our batteaus and baggage up it.
September 30th. After getting over the carrying place, we found the water more still. We proceeded 5 miles and at sundown encamped in a most delightful wood, where I thought I could have spent some time agreeably in solitude, in contemplating the works of nature. The forest was stripped of its verdure, but still appeared to me beautiful. I thought that though we were in a thick wilderness, uninhabited by human beings, yet we were as much in the immediate presence of our divine protector, as when in the crowded city.
October 1st. This day we proceeded with unusual perseverance, but as the water was exceedingly rapid, we could advance but slowly. It was but a small part of the way that any thing could be done by rowing, or setting. While one took the batteau by the bow, another kept hold of the stern to keep her from upsetting, or filling with water. Thus our fatigues seemed daily to encrease. But what we most dreaded was the frost and cold from which we began to suffer considerably.
October 2d. This day we carried over Norridgewock falls, one mile and a quarter. At night we encamped at a place formerly inhabited by the natives and afterwards by the French and Indians; the former had erected a mass house for their devotions, but had deserted it at the time the New England forces made great slaughter among them in the French war. A few inhabitants were now living here, who rendered us some assistance. The temple of worship contained some curiosities, such as crosses &c. We took up our lodgings here for the night and were much pleased with our accommodations. The place had the appearance of once having been the residence of a considerable number of inhabitants.
October 3d. Having had some better refreshment than usual, we pushed on our way with increased resolution. We had now taken leave of the last inhabitants. The remainder of our route was to be through a trackless wilderness. We now entered a doleful barren woods; the timber mostly pine and hemlock—some thick patches of spruce and fir, and some groves of sugar-maple.
One of the riflemen of Captain Hendricks' company this day killed a young Moose, which weighed about 200 lbs.
October 4th. This day with much exertion we got forward 8 miles, to Tentucket, or Hell-gate falls, which are of astonishing height, and exhibit an awful appearance. At the foot of the falls we found fine fishing for salmon trout. The land carriage here was but about 40 rods but very difficult to effect.
October 5th. This day we pushed up the river about eight miles. The stream decreased very fast and we were again much troubled with shoal water.
October 6th. This day we advanced about 7 miles. Our difficulties encreased, but our fortitude and patriotism did not fail us. We felt determined to do something for the freedom and welfare of our country before we returned.
October 7th. This day we reached the head of Kennebeck river. Here was a carrying place of three and a half miles through a wilderness without any tract to guide us.
October 8th. We this day were detained by a storm, from which we had but very little to shelter us as we had but few tents and the trees were stripped of their leaves.
October 9, 10 and 11th. These three days we were employed in carrying our batteaus, provisions and baggage over this long and difficult carrying place. Some were employed in cutting and clearing a road, and others in carrying. We had to go through swamps and quagmires—much of the way knee deep in mud and water. We here left behind everything which we did not deem absolutely necessary to our journey. Our pork we took from the barrels and strung it on poles, leaving the barrels behind. In the afternoon of the 11th, we launched our boats into a pool of considerable extent, crossed over it, and encamped on the west side.
October 12 and 13. We carried our batteaus and baggage three quarters of a mile to another pond, one mile over—then to a third, two miles over,—Though the water was now very cold, we caught trout in these ponds in great abundance.
Between these ponds we built a block-house, and gave it the name of Fort Meigs, designed for our sick, in case they should return this way. We viewed with much anxiety winter approaching—we had some snow squalls through the day.
October 14 and 15th. These two days we were diligently employed in carrying our batteaus, provisions, &c. to Dead river. Our hardships were greater than on any preceding day—the land carriage was four miles; one mile of which was a sunken marsh. Four men were assigned to each batteau—under the weight of their loads they almost every step sunk to their knees in mud, and were entangled in the low shrubbery. We arrived at the bank of Dead river at 3 o'clock and proceeding one mile up said river by sunset, took up our encampment for the night. On our right and left were excessively high mountains, the summits of which were covered with snow and ice. Could I have ascended to the top of one of these mountains I thought I could have overlooked all creation. The land between the mountains appeared to be very rich and fertile—wild grass covered the ground, four or five feet in height, and served us a good purpose for covering for the night.
October 16th. The water now being deep and dead, we betook ourselves to our oars and rowed up 6 miles. The river is so remarkably still and dead, that it is difficult to determine which way it runs. It is on an average about 4 rods in width and the banks of it very steep.
October 17th. After passing over a small carrying place of 16 rods we rowed 16 miles up the river through still deep water; the land on each side to appearance very good.
October 18th. This day we rowed 20 miles and passed a short carrying place. The river is very crooked and the water deep. We discovered on the bank of the river an old Indian hut, built as we supposed for hunting. Many bones of animals lay round the hut, and there was a clearing of about one acre.
October 19th. This day we passed four carrying places and advanced but five miles. We were detained by the great rains that fell which drenched us sorely as we had but very little to cover us. The weather grew cold and we had nothing better to screen us from the air, than hemlock boughs.
October 23d. The water growing shallow and rapid we were obliged to take to our setting poles, we pushed with them 10 miles this day. The water daily decreased as we approached towards the head of the stream, and land on each side of us was mountainous and barren.
October 24. This day our afflictions increased, fear was added to sorrow. We found to our astonishment that our journey was much longer than we expected; what was more alarming, our provisions were growing scant. Some of our men appeared disheartened, but the most of them, with Col. Arnold stood firm and resolute. They were ready to encounter yet greater hardships for the good of their country.
At this critical and alarming crisis a council was called to consider what was most prudent to be done. They determined to send back immediately the disabled and the sick, with provisions sufficient to carry them to the first inhabitants on the Kennebeck river. They also determined to send a party forward to the nearest settlement in Canada to procure provisions and return to meet the army with all possible expedition. Captain Oliver Hanchet, with one subaltern and fifty privates set out with ten days provisions, each man taking 10 pints of flour and 5 lbs of pork. The sick, forty in number, went back. We then pushed forward with all possible speed. We gained nine miles against the stream this day, but suffered from losses, on the account of which we felt greatly distressed. Several of our boats were upset by the rapidity of the stream, and much of our provisions, cloathing, ammunition, and some money were lost.
October 25th. This morning we proceeded on our way very early: the weather was somewhat cold, as it snowed most of the night. The thickets of spruce and fir were covered and exhibited a gloomy aspect.
To add to our discouragements, we received intelligence that Colonel Enos who was in our rear, had returned with three companies, and taken large stores of provisions and ammunition. These companies had constantly been in the rear, and of course had experienced much less fatigue than we had. They had their path cut and cleared by us; they only followed, while we led. That they therefore should be the first to turn back excited in us much manly resentment. Our bold though unexperienced general discovered such firmness and zeal as inspired us with resolution. The hardships and fatigues he encountered, he accounted as nothing in comparison with the salvation of his country.
October 26th. Setting out very early this day we passed on with great resolution: we passed thro' four several ponds with outlets leading from one to the other. The course through these ponds, I should judge was nearly N.W. The land apparently very barren—the timber consisting chiefly of fir, spruce, hackmetack and hemlock. The ponds were large and deep; one of them I should judge was three miles in length and one in breadth.
October 27th. This day we crossed a pond, one fourth of a mile over, and soon came to another two miles in width. In this pond we caught plenty of trout. We had now come to the great carrying place, 4 miles and 50 perches over.
As we were all greatly fatigued, it was resolved to leave here most of our batteaus, which had already been reduced from 10 to 6 to each company—but 6 I think were carried from this place. We overhauled our ammunition and found most of our powder damaged and unfit for use; all of this description we destroyed on the spot.
The last pond we crossed, appeared to be the head of Dead river, or rather as some suppose, the fountain from which Kennebeck river takes its first rise, that and the Dead river being one and the same. The river from the place where we left the Kennebeck, (so-called) to the place where we entered the Dead river making a long crooked circuitous route. We now appeared to be on the height of land, and to be several hundred feet higher than when we were at Fort Western.
October 28th. We this day passed the height of land. We then divided our provisions which we found did not exceed 4 pounds of flour and 40 ounces of pork to a man. We were in a meadow by the side of a small stream, running N.E. into Chaudiére lake. We sent our batteaus down this creek and a little before sunset we had the inexpressible satisfaction to meet a messenger we had sent into Canada to find out the disposition of the inhabitants and know whether we should be well received. He was the bearer of good tidings, he assured us that we should be kindly received and furnished with provisions—He brought some fruit to Colonel Arnold, sent him by a lady, as a token of friendship and fidelity. Our joy on this occasion was too great to be suppressed. The whole valley was made to ring with our exultations. Our worthy Major Meigs was exceedingly elevated, and expressed such zeal and animation in the glorious cause of his country as revived the drooping spirits of all the soldiery. We were now to leave the remainder of our batteaus—what little we had to carry we put into our knapsacks, the whole of the detachment having now orders to march and make the best of their way to Chaudiére river. We returned unto the rising ground and encamped for the night.
October 29th. Very early this morning, we left our encampment on the rising ground and began descending towards an ocean of swamp that lay before us. We soon entered it and found it covered with a low shrubbery of cedar and hackmetack, the roots of which were so excessively slippery, that we could hardly keep upon our feet. The top of the ground was covered with a soft moss, filled with water and ice. After walking a few hours in the swamp we seemed to have lost all sense of feeling in our feet and ankles. As we were constantly slipping, we walked in great fear of breaking our bones or dislocating our joints. But to be disenabled from walking in this situation was sure death. We travelled all day and not being able to get through this dismal swamp, we encamped. I thought we were probably the first human beings that ever took up their residence for a night in this wilderness—not howling wilderness, for I believe no wild animals would inhabit it.
October 30. This morning we started in great haste and soon got through the swamp. From the time we had been travelling in it, we judged it to be about 7 miles in width; of its length from east to west I can give no account.
On leaving the swamp we had to pass a river two rods over and about three feet in depth. The water was excessively cold. As we had this day to make our way through thickets, and low sunken marshes, our progress was but slow.
During the fore part of the day we steered E.N.E. but thinking we were bearing too much to the east, we changed our course to W.N.W. which soon brought us in sight of a large pond or lake, which we supposed communicated with Chaudiére lake. We encamped about half a mile from the lake. Our march this day we supposed was about 20 miles.
October 31st. This morning we began our march very early and pushed on with all speed, for the head of Chaudiére river; at 11 o'clock we passed it. We here came up with Captain Morgan's company, which had gone before us. We learnt to our great sorrow, that in attempting to go down the river in their batteaus, which they brought to this place, they were carried down by the rapidity of the stream and dashed on rocks; that they had lost most of their provisions and that a waiter of Captain Morgan was drowned.
Their condition was truly deplorable—they had not when we came up with them a mouthful of provisions of any kind, and we were not able to relieve them, as hunger stared us in the face. Some of us were entirely destitute and others had but a morsel of bread, and we now supposed ourselves 70 miles from the nearest inhabitants. Some of Captain Morgan's company we were told had perished with the cold.
November 1st. Our fatigue and anxiety were so great that we were but little refreshed the last night by sleep. We started however very early, hungry and wet. Knowing that our lives depended on our speedy arrival to an inhabited country, we marched very briskly all day and even until late in the evening. We then encamped in a fine grove, but in a starving condition. Captain Goodrich's company had the good fortune to kill a large black dog, that providentially came to them at that time. They feasted on him heartily without either bread or salt. Our hunger was so great that many offered dollars for a single mouthful of bread. Such distress I never before felt, or witnessed. I anxiously turned my thoughts back to my native land, to a country flowing with milk and honey. I was surprised that I had so lightly esteemed all the good things which I there once enjoyed. Little thought I, do we know of the value of the common blessings of Providence, until we are deprived of them. With such reflections I laid myself down on the cold, wet ground, hungry and fatigued.
November 2d. When we arose this morning many of the company were so weak that they could hardly stand on their legs. When we attempted to march, they reeled about like drunken men, having now been without provisions five days. As I proceeded I passed many sitting, wholly drowned in sorrow, wishfully placing their eyes on every one who passed by them, hoping for some relief. Such pity-asking countenances I never before beheld. My heart was ready to burst and my eyes to overflow with tears when I witnessed distress which I could not relieve. The circumstances of a young Dutchman, and his wife, who followed him through this fatiguing march, particularly excited my sensibility. They appeared to be much interested in each others welfare and unwilling to be separated, but the husband, exhausted with fatigue and hunger fell a victim to the king of terrors. His affectionate wife tarryed by him until he died, while the rest of the company proceeded on their way. Having no implements with which she could bury him she covered him with leaves, and then took his gun and other implements and left him with a heavy heart. After travelling 20 miles she came up with us.
Just at evening this day, we met cattle coming up the river, sent us for our relief. This was the most joyful sight our eyes ever beheld. The French people who drove them informed us that Colonel Arnold had arrived in their settlement two days before, with the advance party, and had purchased cattle as soon as possible and sent them on.
A cow was immediately killed and cut open in great haste; a small calf being found in her, it was divided up and eaten without further ceremony. I got a little piece of the flesh, which I eat raw with a little oat meal wet with cold water, and thought I feasted sumptuously.
November 3d. This day we proceeded on down the river about 20 miles, waiding several small rivers, some of which were up to our middles. The water was terrible cold as the ground was at this time covered with snow and ice. At evening we came in sight of a house which was the first we had seen for the space of 31 days.
Our joy was inexpressible in breaking out of that dismal wilderness in which we had been so long buried, and once more beholding a country inhabited by human beings; it was like being brought from a dungeon to behold the clear light of the sun.
The French people received us with all the kindness we could wish, they treated our sick with much tenderness, and supplied us with every thing they could for our comfort. They seemed moved with pity for us and to greatly admire our patriotism and resolution, in encountering such hardships for the good of our country. But they were too ignorant to put a just estimate on the value of freedom.
November 4. Last night we got a plenty of good beef and potatoes, but little bread could be procured. It snowed most of the night and the weather was cold. After marching down the river about 10 miles, we began to get such necessaries as we wanted; such as bread, milk, eggs, butter and most kinds of sauce.[2] To be supplied with these articles, of which we had been so long deprived was a great luxury.
The kindness and hospitality of the inhabitants, was to us very pleasing. After having been lately our enemies, at war with us, we did not expect to experience from them to much friendship.
Had we been in New-England among people of our own nation, we should not, I think, have been treated with more kindness. They readily supplied us with whatever they had to spare, and discovered much tenderness towards those of our company who were sick, or feeble. I last night lodged in a house, which I had not done before for 39 days.
November 5. We continued our march down the river. The people continued to be hospitable, with some few exceptions. Knowing our need of their articles, some of them would extort from us an extravagant price. We chose to live mostly on bread and butter and milk, having but little relish for meat, and supposing it not to be healthy food after fasting so long.
November 6. This day we come up with Colonel Arnold and the advanced party at St. Mary's. At two o'clock we marched off together, and continued on the road until 12 o'clock at night. The roads were very bad by means of the great rains and snows that had fallen—we most of the way waded half leg deep in the mud and water. Though we were very industrious through the day and half of the night, we marched but 17 miles.
November 7. We this day marched down the river about 3 miles and halted until night.
We now had arrived before the city of Quebec, to take which by surprise was the great object of our expedition.
A Lieutenant with 20 men was sent forward to see if our way was clear. At 2 o'clock at night the advanced party reached the St. Lawrence and halted. In the morning we perceived we were in fair view of Quebec, nothing but the river separating us.
November 8. We took up our residence in houses along the south side of the river St. Lawrence, and remained until the 13th waiting for the sick, the halt and feeble, who had been left behind at different places to come up. By the 13th all had arrived who were to be expected; many we learnt, to our great sorrow, had perished by the way.
When a general muster was made, and all appeared who had survived the perils of the wilderness, a more pitiful and humorous spectacle was exhibited than I had ever before seen.
In our long and tedious march through the wilderness, it was not with us as with the children of Israel, that our cloathes waxed not old, ours were torn in pieces by the bushes, and hung in strings—few of us had any shoes, but moggasons made of raw skins—many of us without hats—and beards long and visages thin and meager. I thought we much resembled the animals which inhabit New-Spain, called the Ourang-Outang. The French appeared a little surprised at the first sight of us; and had not Colonel Arnold gone forward to apprise them of our approach, they might have fled from their habitations.
In coming to this place we passed several very pretty villages, ornamented with handsome churches for worship. We discovered some people of fashion, living in good style, but most of the inhabitants appeared ignorant and to have but little ambition.
November 7. This day we were very busy in preparing to cross the river at night; we had collected a great number of Canoes, some of them made of bark by the Indians; but most of them of large pine logs. When night approached, we began to cross, and made our first landing at a place called Wolfe's Cove. We directly ascended a steep bank and paraded on the plains of Abraham, where we found a plenty of barracks which had been erected for the use of the British troops and were then unoccupied. Several of the bark canoes in crossing upset, by which accident we lost some muskets, and baggage, but no lives, though some of us very narrowly escaped.—Most of the troops were over by day break; those who crossed after were fired upon by the Lizard, a British frigate that lay in the river, but received no damage.
November 14. We now had in our possession the midshipman of the Lizard, and several other prisoners, which we had taken on the south side of the river. The frigate fired upon us in our encampment; but she was at too great a distance to do us any injury. We this day took a prisoner near our encampment—supposed to be a spy. We let him and our other prisoners, every day walk on parole.
The weather being very cold, we quit our barracks and took up our residence in houses, built for the King's officers, which they evacuated on our approach. We remained here until the 21st, during which time we received intelligence that there were not more than 100 regular troops in the city—some sailors, and a few newly enlisted troops from Newfoundland; in all not exceeding 400 under arms. This intelligence was soon contradicted. A servant of Colonel Arnold's who had been taken prisoner and made his escape gave us a very different account: he stated that the inhabitants and King's troops exceeded 800 under arms; our whole force at that time not exceeding 500, and the most of our ammunition spent.
We this day lost one of our sentry, next the walls of the city. He was treacherously decoyed and taken. This event soon rallied all our detachment. We marched on to that place of the plains where Wolfe fought his battle, in sight of the city walls. Our troops were drawn up in battle array and we gave them a challenge for a field battle, our riflemen forming our right wing. Though much superior to us in numbers and better provided with arms and ammunition, they declined an engagement. They fired on us from the fort, and as they were in a situation in which we could not attack them, we did not choose to stand merely to be shot at: we deliberately retreated, and soon got beyond reach of their balls.
From this time no special event occurred for the space of seven days. We began to be in a very distressed situation, as the weather was continually growing cold and we were almost naked, crowded together in heaps, and nearly out of provisions—add to this we were in an enemies country, almost destitute of ammunition, near to a force much superior to our own and without a prospect of any reinforcements.
November 21. We were informed that the citizens of Quebec in conjunction with the soldiery, were determined to attack us the next morning having heard that our ammunition was very nearly expended. We judged it not prudent to hazard a battle with so little ammunition as we had on hand, our officers therefore determined on a retreat the night ensuing.
About 4 o'clock in the morning we began our retreat and effected it in good order undiscovered by the enemy. We made no stops until we arrived at Point aux Tremples, 20 miles. Most of the soldiers were in constant misery during their march, as they were bare footed and the ground frozen and very uneven. We might have been tracked all the way by the blood from our shattered hoofs.
In a few days after we arrived at Point aux Tremples, we were joined by General Montgomery with about twelve hundred of the York forces from Montreal. They brought with them a good supply of ammunition, clothing and provisions taken from the King's stores at that place and from eleven sail vessels which had been captured in the lakes. General Montgomery brought on likewise implements necessary for carrying on a seige against the city of Quebec. We lost no time in making every necessary preparation for our return, and on the morning of the 5th of December, took up our line of march and at evening arrived at the encampment we had precipitately left on the plains of Abraham.
Before we arrived, however, Governor Carlton had entered the town and was making every preparation for vigorous defence. The garrison now consisted of about fifteen hundred men of whom eight hundred were natives, and between four and five hundred seamen. Our whole force fit for service, was about one thousand men.
General Montgomery endeavored to frighten the garrison to surrender: he addressed a letter to the governor, giving an exaggerated account of his own strength and resources and demanded him to surrender. But Carlton who was an experienced, wary general, was not to be frightened. He persisted in his determination to hold no communication with Montgomery, and fired on the flag.
Our situation was such as would have disheartened any general of common resolution. The intense cold had set in, and we were unaccustomed to the hardships of an ordinary campaign. Besides, the time of service with most of us under Arnold was nearly out. But notwithstanding all discouragements, General Montgomery was determined to commence the siege. In a few days we opened a six gun battery within about seven hundred yards of the walls, but our artillery was too light to make a breach, and I believe the officers did not calculate on any effect from it,—the object was to amuse the enemy and conceal our real design. The intention of General Montgomery was to commence an assault. Before he undertook however, this hazardous and daring project, it was necessary to have the approbation of all the officers and soldiers. After conferring with each officer separately on the subject and bringing all to approve of the plan, he addressed himself to the soldiers, many of whom appeared unwilling to attempt so daring an enterprize; especially those of us who belonged to Arnold's corps. We had taken some disgust to our general, as he was for maintaining more rigid discipline than we were willing to submit to. But when he stated the great object that would be gained by getting possession of Quebec, and that it would probably lead to peace and the acknowledgement of independence, the fire of patriotism kindled in our breasts, and we resolved to follow wherever he should lead.
The attempt to storm a place so strongly fortified, I thought was rash and imprudent, but did not think proper to make any objections, lest I should be considered wanting in courage. The back side of the town, next the country, was guarded by a wall from 25 to 40 feet in height and 20 feet thick; this is called the lower town. The upper town is situated on a rock one hundred feet above this. The ascent from the lower to the upper town is very steep and strongly fortified with pickets and gates. The front of the town bordering on the river is almost inaccessable, and strongly fortified by nature and art. But our heroic General seemed resolved on victory or death, and no difficulties were too great for him to encounter. While he was making the necessary preparations for the assault, the garrison received intelligence of his intention from a deserter. This circumstance induced him to change the plan of his attack, which had been, originally, to attack both the upper and lower towns at the same time. The plan now resolved on was, to divide the army into four parts, and while two of them, consisting of Canadians under Major Livingston, and a small party under Major Brown, were to distract the attention of the garrison by making two feints against the upper town, at St. Johns and Cape Diamond; the other two, led, the one by Montgomery in person, and the other by Arnold, were to make real attacks on opposite sides of the lower town. After gaining possession of the lower town, it would yet have been extremely difficult to conquer the obstacles to be surmounted in forcing their way to the upper town; but as all the wealth of the city would then have been in their power, it was confidently expected that the inhabitants, to secure their property, would compel the governor to capitulate.
Between four and five in the morning, the signal was given; and the several divisions moved to the assault, under a violent storm of snow. The plan was so well concerted that from the side of the river St. Lawrence along the fortified front round to the bason, every part seemed equally threatened.—Montgomery, at the head of the New York troops, advanced along the St. Lawrence by the way of Aunce de Mére, under Cape Diamond. The first barrier to be surmounted on this side was at the Pot-Ash. It was defended by a battery in which were mounted a few pieces of artillery, about two hundred paces in front of which was a block-house and picket. The guard placed at the block-house, being chiefly Canadians, having given a random and harmless fire, threw away their arms and fled in confusion to the barrier.
Unfortunately, the difficulties of the route rendered it impossible for Montgomery instantly to avail himself of this first impression. Cape Diamond, around which he was to make his way, presents a precipice, the foot of which is washed by the river, where enormous and rugged masses of ice had been piled on each other, so as to render the way almost impassible. Along the scanty path leading under the projecting rocks of the precipice, the Americans pressed forward in a narrow file, until they reached the block-house and picket. Montgomery, who was himself in front, assisted with his own hands to cut down or pull up the pickets, and open a passage for his troops; but the excessive roughness and difficulty of the way had so lengthened his line of march, that he found it absolutely necessary to halt a few minutes, in order to collect a force with which he might venture to proceed. Having reassembled about two hundred men, whom he encouraged alike by his voice and his example, he advanced boldly and rapidly at their head, to force the barrier. One or two persons had now ventured to return to the battery; and, seizing a slow-match standing by one of the guns, discharged the piece, when the American front was within forty paces of it. This single accidental fire was a fatal one. The General with Captains M'Pherson and Cheeseman, two valuable young officers, near his person, the first of whom was his aid; together with his orderly sergeant and a private, were killed on the spot. The loss of their general, in whom their confidence had been so justly placed, discouraged the troops; and Colonel Campbell on whom the command devolved, but who did not partake of that spirit of heroism which had animated their departed chief made no attempt to prosecute the enterprise. This whole division retired precipitately from the action, and left the garrison at leisure, after recovering from the consternation into which they had been thrown, to direct their undivided force against Arnold, in whose corps I then was.
The division commanded by this officer moved in files, at the common signal for the attack, along the street of St. Roques, towards the Sault des Matelots. In imitation of Montgomery, he too led the forlorn hope in person, and was followed by Captain Lamb with his company of artillery, and a field piece mounted on a sled. Close in the rear of the artillery was the main body, in front of which was Morgan's company of riflemen commanded by himself. At the Sault des Matelots, the enemy had constructed their first barrier, and had erected a battery of two twelve pounders, which it was necessary to force. The path along which the troops were to march had been rendered so narrow by the rough cakes of ice thrown up on the side from St. Charles, and by the works erected by the enemy on the other, that the two pieces of artillery in the battery in front, were capable of raking with grape shot every inch of the ground, whilst his whole right flank was exposed to an incessant fire of musketry from the walls, and from the pickets of the garrison.
In this order Arnold advanced with the utmost intrepidity, along the St. Charles, against the battery. The alarm was immediately given, and the fire on his flank commenced, which, however, did not prove very destructive. As he approached the barrier he received a musket ball in the leg which shattered the bone, and he was carried off the field to the hospital. Morgan rushed forward to the battery at the head of his company, and received from one of the pieces, almost at its mouth, a discharge of grape shot which killed only one man. A few rifles were immediately fired into the embrazures, by which a British soldier was wounded in the head, and the barricade being instantly mounted with the aid of the ladders, brought by the men on their shoulders, the battery was deserted without discharging the other gun. The captain of the guard, with the greater number of his men, fell into the hands of the Americans, and the others made their escape.
Morgan formed the troops, consisting of his own company and a few bold individuals who had pressed forward from other parts of the division, in the streets within the barrier; and took into custody several English and Canadian burghers; but his situation soon became extremely critical. He was not followed by the main body of the division; he had no guide; and was himself totally ignorant of the situation of the town. It was yet extremely dark, and he had not the slightest knowledge of the course to be pursued, or of the defences to be encountered. Thus circumstanced, it was thought unadvisable to advance further.
The cold was intense and the storm very violent; this, together with the fatigue by the exertion we had made tended to check our ardour. We had now passed the first barrier; but a second we knew was before us and not far distant. We had no pilot and the night was very dark and dismal. We took shelter from the fury of the storm under the sides of some of the buildings and waited for day light to direct us. At the dawn of day we collected in a body, seized the ladders and were proceeding to the second barrier, when on turning an angle in the street, we were hailed by a Captain Anderson who had just issued from the gate with a body of troops to attack us. Captain Morgan who led our little band in this forlorn hope, answered the British captain by a ball through his head, his soldiers drew him within the barricade and closed the gate; a tremendous fire from the windows of the buildings and port holes of the wall, was directed against our little host.
Thirty of our privates being killed and thirty five wounded, and surrounded as we were on all sides without any hope of relief, we were obliged to surrender ourselves prisoners of war.
During the whole of the attack by the different corps there were eleven commissioned officers, thirty four privates, sergeants and corporals, killed; thirty five wounded, and three hundred and forty five made prisoners. This was the melancholly issue of our long and distressing campaign. The prisoners, of whom I was one, were confined in a large building called the Regules, where we had but very little fire or provision. Our daily ration was three ounces of pork and two, (sometimes three) small bran biscuit, and a half a pint of the water in which our pork was boiled.
January 1st, 1776. Our condition, which we thought was almost insupportable by such a sparing allowance of fuel and provision as was furnished us, was rendered tenfold more distressing by sickness.—About the 10th of this month we began to be infected with the small pox, which we took the natural way. With this mortal disease about one ninth part of the prisoners died. While in hospital we were treated with some humanity, but when in prison we experienced much insolence from the garrison set over us.
After we had been some time in the old Dauphin Gaol, which was built of stone, and proof against musket and cannon balls, our fidelity was so much relied on by most of the King's officers, that they scarce guarded us at all. They appeared to consider us as deluded by the facinating sound of liberty and freedom, and induced to take up arms when we were not at heart inimical to his Britanic Majesty. Considering locks and keys as useless, they committed the sole care of the prison to one of our sergeants, who was faithful to the trust reposed in him, until about the first of April, when we formed a plan for our escape.
We had now lost all hopes of the city's being taken by the American arms, and we resolved to regain our liberty by our own efforts, or lose our lives in the attempt.
Having watched the movements of the enemy for several days, unknown to them, we determined with a party of 60 men to rise on the Gaol guard, and disarm them, which consisted of 14 old decrepit men and young boys, (whose appointment over us we considered rather an insult, than good economy in the commander:) next we were to proceed to St. John's Gate, about eight rods distant from the gaol and attack and disarm that guard, consisting chiefly of English sailors, 18 in number, from whom we expected a pretty warm reception: should we be thus far successful, an hundred men, or more, were to proceed under the command of Colonel Ashten, formerly sergeant major of Captain Lamb's train of artillery, to turn the cannon on the battery, which were kept constantly loaded, against the town, and to maintain this position at all hazards until notice could be given to our army, and thus be the glorious means of obtaining the object of all our toils, the possession of Quebec.
We made every preparation for breaking gaol, which we could do at a moment's warning. We had previously procured by means of some friends in town, six pistols, a sufficient quantity of powder and ball, and a good supply of port fire; and in addition, a number of old iron hoops with which we made cutlasses. Thus equipped, we intended the first stormy night to put our bold and desperate plan into execution. But we had among us a vile traitor[3], who discovered our plot to the barrack master: it was a deserter from the King's troops at Boston. The intelligence was immediately carried to General Carlton and in a few hours we were all put in irons. Thus we remained until our army raised the siege, which was on the 6th of May. During this period of our close confinement our sufferings were greater, and our situation more wretched than it had ever been before. We were most of us afflicted with the scurvy and the flux, at the same time. Towards the last of April there was scarcely a well man among all the prisoners. We were also, all of us without comfortable clothing, and many of us almost entirely naked.
While in this deplorable situation, General Carlton, came into the gaol and gave us the offer of returning home on parole. This was to me very pleasing and joyful intelligence; but though this was on the sixth of June, we were kept between hope and fear until the first of August, when we were assured that we should embark for New-York by the 7th.
The general presented each of us with a new suit of clothes, for which he received our most hearty thanks, and on the 7th we went on board, and sailed for New York on the 11th. We forsook our direct course and sailed near to the west end of St. John's Island, in pursuit, as I understood of some American pirates—from this, passed through the gut of Canso, and after being delayed some by contrary winds, we arrived at New-York on the 10th of September, and joined the British fleet which lay at George's Island, and Statten Island, consisting, as I was informed, of 450 said—principally square rigged vessels.
We tarried here from the 10th until the 22d, during which time the city of New-York was evacuated by the American troops and taken possession of by the English; there was also in this time a great fire, which consumed near one-third of the city.
On the 22d of September we were landed within about 3 miles of Elizabethtown Point, to go where we pleased. The joy we experienced on setting our feet once more on the shores of our native country, with the liberty of returning to our families and friends cannot be conceived by any but those who have shared misfortunes like ours. We had been more than a year absent from our homes, seven months of which we had been in prison, and the remainder of the time had been suffering hunger, cold and fatigue.
We were kindly received by our countrymen and furnished with whatever was necessary to our comfort, that they had to bestow. Those of us who belonged to New-England, set out for our respective homes. At King's bridge I had the inexpressible joy of seeing my father and two of my oldest brothers, besides many of my old neighbors and acquaintance; by them I was informed of the welfare of my relations. After spending two days in camp with my friends, with great pleasure and satisfaction, I set out for Chatham in Connecticut, my native place. I arrived at New Haven the 2d of October, where I tarried until the 5th and then proceeded on my way to Chatham and went that day as far as Durham, the next morning which was the Sabbath, at 11 o'clock I arrived at Chatham and beheld once more my father's house and her whom the most sacred ties of nature hath endeared to me, still in the land of the living.
Never did my thanks to my Creator and preserver arise with more sincerity than at this moment.—How kind has been that Providence, which has preserved me through so many dangers and sufferings and returned me in health and safety to the bosom of my friends! When wandering through the wilderness, hungry, faint and weary, God was my support, and did not suffer me like others to fall by the way—when sick and in prison he visited me—when a captive he set me free! May I ever be grateful to my Divine Protector, and my future life be devoted to his service! such were my reflections on this joyful occasion.
I repaired to the house of worship where I saw most of my acquaintance and relations, who in the intermission flocked around me—shook me heartily by the hand and assured me of a welcome return.