The pursuers were baffled, but not discouraged.
From their knowledge of localities upon the
Island, they did not doubt that, if immediately
followed, the robbers might still be secured, and their
unfortunate captive rescued. This could be done,
however, only after suitable preparations. The undertaking
would be difficult and dangerous. Boats
must be obtained, and a suitable party enlisted to man
them, and to meet and overcome any force that would
be likely to be encountered. It was decided, therefore,
to return to Derby for this purpose; and, meanwhile,
persons were sent up into the meeting-house
belfry at Stratford, with a spy-glass, to watch the
course of the robbers, and note the point of their landing
upon the opposite shore.
Among the persons who had fled from Long Island
in company with Captain Dayton, on its coming into
possession of the British, was Captain William Clarke.
He had been a townsman and neighbor of Dayton at
Brookhaven, a lieutenant in one of the militia companies
of that place, and actively engaged in all the
measures of annoyance against the enemy and their
tory allies, including the privateering expeditions of
Dayton and others. Of course he was intimately acquainted
with the Island and its shores. He was now
residing at Derby, and offered to be a leader of the
expedition in pursuit of the robbers.
Two large whale-boats were promptly fitted out,
with some fifteen men, well armed, in each; indeed,
there were a hundred who were ready and eager to
engage in it. All needed supplies were placed on
board, and by the middle of the afternoon, the two
craft, under the impulse of both sails and oars, started
down the river. Calling again at Stratford Point, as
they passed, they received the report of the lookout
in the belfry, which confirmed them in their expectation
Come on, men, said Captain Clarke;
go amiss. They have gone to Brookhaven, and I
know the very house where they will be found. We'll
trap them all before morning. Pull away, my
Long Island Sound is here about twenty miles wide,
and the passage, even with a favoring wind, requires
some three or four hours. It was, then, late in the
evening before the boats reached their destination.
They drew up in a small cove at Crane's Neck, about
three miles west of Brookhaven village. Two men
were left as a guard over the boats, with orders to
keep them in readiness for instant departure; and the
rest, having carefully pre-arranged their plans, took
up their march to the village.
At that time, a man named John Bailey kept a tavern
at Brookhaven. He was a known tory,
house a somewhat favorite resort for persons of that
party and for British officers stationed in that vicinity.
Captain Clarke was of the opinion that the men
of whom they were in pursuit would be found there.
He assumed that, having reached a supposed place of
safety under British protection, they would seek, before
all other things, food and sleep. For two days
they had had nothing to eat, and for twice that number
of nights, little sleep. The flight from Gunntown,
and the labor of rowing their leaky boat across
the Sound, had been most exhausting, and wearied
nature must have imperatively demanded rest. He
believed, therefore, that the place to look for them
was at Bailey's Tavern, and laid his plans accordingly.
The houses of the place were, for the most part,
wrapped in darkness, and the village seemed sunk in
repose. As they drew near to the tavern, however,
they perceived that there was a light burning in one
of its front rooms, making extra caution necessary to
prevent an alarm. All but two or three of the men
were stationed around the house, while Captain
Clarke, Captain Harvey, who commanded the other
boat, and Walter Judd, a brother of Chauncey, advanced
and knocked at the door.
To the first summons no answer was returned; but
soon after, a louder knock brought a person with the
light into the entry, with the inquiry,â€“
Friends, was the reply,
and on business with
He's not at home to-night.
We are sorry for that. Our business is urgent,
and we cannot leave without seeing him.
After an interval of a few moments, as if a consultation
was had with another person, the door was unfastened,
and a young woman appeared.
My father, she said,
has gone down to the
city. We expected him to return to-night, but he has
not done so, and from the direction of the wind, it is
probable that he cannot get home before morning;
perhaps not even then.
Such being the case, we must crave a lodging
with you to-night, for we have come too far not to see
I am very sorry, she replied,
that we cannot
accommodate you. Another party of travelers arÂrived
here to-day, whom we have been obliged to enÂtertain,
and our beds are all full.
This was a confirmation of their suspicions as to the
presence of the robbers, and without risking further
parley, Captain Clarke, who had hitherto carefully
kept his face in the shade to avoid being recognized
by the lady, dextrously slipped by her within the
door, at the same moment saying to her in a low
Give no alarm, on peril of your life!
At the same moment his companions, first signaling
to their men, as had been agreed upon, rushed also
into the house, where, to their mutual surprise, they
found a British officer, who had been enjoying the soÂciety
of the young lady. With an instant command to
silence, they assured him that no hostile design was
entertained against him or the family, their sole object
being the arrest of a gang of burglars whom they
had tracked to that house, and that if be made no resistance
he should not be molested. By that time six
or eight more of their men had entered, and learning
from the lady the whereabouts of her guests, they
seized the light, and ascended to the chambers.
The whole proceeding was the work of a moment,
and such was the silence of their movements, and so
profound the slumber of the robbers, that, with a single
exception, none of them were aware of their peril
till the heavy hands of their captors were upon them.
Chauncey was found sleeping, as usual, by the side of
Graham, and was first aroused by being lifted bodily
from the bed in the strong arms of his brother, while
two others, on the opposite side, sprang upon the unconscious
leader of the gang, and before be had time
to make any resistance, pinioned his bands and his
The others were secured, in like manner, with little
comparative difficulty. Martin alone, hearing the
noise in an adjacent room, leaped from the window,
and fled. He was pursued by one of the men on
guard, who several times snapped his musket at him,
but the old fire-lock refused to be discharged, and
after a sharp race of half a mile or more, he succeeded
in reaching a thicket of bushes, where be was lost to
We cannot undertake to truthfully depict the emotions
of the culprits when thus surprised in the midst
of their slumbers. To Chauncey, notwithstanding
his weariness, we may well believe it was a joyful
awakening. He was almost dead from fatigue and
exposure, and was fast sinking into the apathy of despair.
To find himself now out of the power of his
captors, greeted by the cheering words of a brother,
and with the promise of an immediate return to his
home, which he had despaired of ever seeing again,
was almost enough to rouse and animate him had be
been literally in the grave.
To the others, and Graham especially, it was like
the knell of doom. After all they had suffered in
their flight, almost in the very first moment when
they had dared to feel themselves safe, to be seized
and bound like felons, with the certainty of a felon's
punishment before them, was more than they could
endure. Graham knew that no mercy would be
shown to him. The part he had acted in this mad expedition,
his relentless cruelty to his young captive,
and behind all this, a long record of desertion and
crime, which he could not hope to keep from exposure,
all rose like specters before him, and pointed out
to him a swift and ignominious fate.
Little time, however, was allowed for anticipations,
whether joyous or gloomy. Captain Clarke and his
party knew that they were upon the enemy's territory,
and that, especially since one of the robbers had
escaped, they were liable to a return surprise at any
moment. So, carefully tying their prisoners, two and
two, and securing their arms and packs of stolen
goods, the whole company speedily set off for their
boats. Everything was in readiness for them. The
prisoners were separated, â€“ three in each boat, â€“ and
Chauncey carefully wrapped in their loose outer jackets
and covered by a sail, so as to be as much as possible
out of the reach of the wind, and a straight course
then laid for the mouth of the Housatonic.
- Onderdunk's Incidents, p. 78.
Onderdonk's Incidents, p. 20.