Bacon's Boys
Continuing the saga of 1."The whaleboat Men" and 2."Chestnut Neck" (both stories found here sometime back) you may recall that the ship, "Lady Jane" escaped destruction and is now spending the winter at the forks of the Mullica River, in New Jersey, while being refitted as a privateer. A skeleton crew remains on board, but the rest have returned to their homes for the winter of 1778-79.

One of the crew, young Samuel Gillespie, has returned to his home to help his family through the winter. "Bacon's Boys" is the story of a raid on the Gillespie farm by several men from the company of John Bacon's Tories.

John Bacon was a real historical person, a notorious New Jersey Tory. His band of Loyalists rained much destruction down on the patriots of the area and committed many atrocities. To the local patriot community, these Tories were collectively known as the "Pine Robbers" because of their operations throughout the extensive pine forests of southern New Jersey.

The following account, however, comes purely from my own imagination.


“FIRE! FIRE! Get up everyone! The barn is on fire!” George Nixon rushed through the dark house and flung open the back door. He was met by a musket ball to his chest. He fell backward and lay in the doorway, his bare feet out on the stone step, his blood soaking into the oak planks of the kitchen floor.
Men were shouting. More shots rang out from the barnyard, heavy lead musket balls came through the open doorway and smashed into the opposite wall, one of them shattering a prized china bowl that had sat on a shelf. Other shots broke the window and thudded into the wall.
The noise roused Sam Gillespie from his bed. He snatched up his fowler and shot pouch and pushed open the little window in the gable end of his room above the kitchen. He could see men in the barnyard, silhouetted by the glare of the burning barn. They were yelling like Indians and shooting at the house. Sam quickly primed his fowler, cocked it, and took aim at the figure of a large man. The flintlock instantly sparked and the gun spit fire and an ounce of swan shot.
Sam heard two other muskets fire at the raiders from inside the kitchen below him, and knew that someone else in his family was also fighting back. He saw two men outside on the ground, one was struggling to get up. Other men ran to help the fallen. They quickly left the one man, ran to help the other one to his feet, and supported him as they all ran off into the night.
Sam quickly reloaded, this time with buck and ball. Then, still in his nightshirt he ran down the narrow stairs while calling; “Father! Father the pine robbers have set the barn on fire!”
As he passed through the parlor he saw his mother standing in the doorway to his sisters’ room. The two little girls were behind her. “It was the pine robbers, Mother. Tories! I think they have gone, but they set the barn on fire.”
Sam entered the kitchen in time to see his father dragging George, the hired man, out of the doorway. Sam’s younger brother, Joseph, stood guard, musket in hand, as he peered out the open door. Light and shadow danced around the room while flames rose high into the night sky above the blazing barn only forty paces away across the barnyard.
Samuel senior spoke; “Sam, take Joe’s musket and stand guard. Joe, you and I will go to the well and get water to wet the roof so sparks won’t set the house afire. There’s nothing we can do about the barn. Matilda! You and the girls come and look after George.”
“Yes father.” Fourteen year old Joseph handed the musket to his brother, then ran out of the house toward the well.

Know what you believe in. Fight for your beliefs. Never compromise away your rights.
Posts: 942 | Location: Cherokee Land, Tenasi | Registered: 06 January 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Walkingeagle
posted Hide Post
Yeee Haaaw!!! We got a live one sparkin up!
Posts: 304 | Location: Alberta, Canada | Registered: 15 January 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
An hour after dawn the Gillespie family were gathered beside the smoldering ruins of the barn. Matilda had wrapped a blanket around her two daughters and another around herself. Young Sam, his father, and brother, all stood quietly in their soot stained nightshirts. Tired and dazed by the night’s events, each of them were sunk in their own thoughts.
After receiving his share of the prize money for the sale of the Lady Jane and its cargo, Sam Gillespie had gone home to help his father with the autumn harvest. A lot of hard work had been done over the past couple of weeks getting the crops in, and preparing for winter. Much had been stored in the barn. Now, it was all gone.
“Tick”, the old, red hound suddenly bawled a warning as riders came out of the woods and approached the farm. Shaking off their fatigue Sam senior and his two sons turned to face the intruders, muskets at the ready. Matilda Gillespie and the two girls ran back inside the house.
A dozen men on horseback rode into the Gillespie barnyard and came to a halt. The foremost rider spoke: “I’m John Applegate, sergeant of militia from down at Tom’s River. It seems that you had a visit during the night.”
“You might call it that”, answered Sam senior. “Pine robbers. They killed my hired hand, George Nixon. They stole two horses, killed my other livestock, and as you can see, they burnt my barn.”
“Your’s is the third place that we know of that they hit between here and Tom’s River last night. We’re on their trail.”
“Well, one of ‘em’s lying over there. We think my son hit another one, but he got up and they went off.”
The sergeant turned toward his men; “Each of you men, take a look at that dead man and see if any of you knew him.”
The riders gathered around the body. There were two gaping holes in the man’s chest from musket balls. Apparently father and son had shot at the same man.
“Yeah, I know him”, said a heavy set militiaman. “That’s what’s left of Harry Dunn. He used to work at the salt works in Tom’s River when he wasn’t drunk. He was a lier and a thief. He finally got run off for stealing a gallon of applejack. I heard that he’d joined up with John Bacon’s pack of scoundrels.”
“I thought this might be some of Bacon’s boys that we’ve been chasing”, said Sergeant Applegate. “I don’t think that Bacon is with them, though.”
A tall, lanky militiaman had been looking intently at the ground in the barnyard. “Hey sergeant. There’s some blood over here. I reckon this is where that other feller got shot and fell down. From the tracks it looks like the bunch of ‘em took the road toward Freehold. There was six of ’em coming in here, and only five leaving. But, they have eight horses now.”
“We’d best be after them, then”, said Applegate. Turning toward the Gillespie men, he added; “I am sorry for your loss. At least you have the slight comfort of knowing that you were the first last night to do them some damage. We’ll do our best to capture the men who did this.”
“I’m going with you”, said young Samuel. “Can I ride double with one of you until we recover our own horses?”
A young militiaman spoke out; “You can double up with me. I’m small and I have a big horse.”
“I’ll be ready in a minute, soon as I put my breeches on”, Sam replied.

Know what you believe in. Fight for your beliefs. Never compromise away your rights.
Posts: 942 | Location: Cherokee Land, Tenasi | Registered: 06 January 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
The tall, lanky militiaman was obviously a woodsman. He wore moccasins instead of shoes and deer skin leggings covered his pale green britches from high on his thighs down to his ankles. He rode ahead of the group, a well-worn fusil in one hand, while keeping close watch on the tracks left by the raiders. About four miles down the road from the Gillespie farm he stopped and raised his hand to halt the others as well.
“They turned off the road here, Sergeant. Going that a-way, into the woods”, with one hand he pointed his musket toward the southwest.
“Check your priming, men. No talking from now on”, said Sergeant Applegate. “Proceed, Mister Clark.”
At first the pine and oak forest was fairly open. The hoof prints of the refugee’s horses were easy to see in the soft, sandy soil. The militiamen rode their horses around the bushes and ducked under low hanging branches for half a mile more. The forest grew thicker as they approached a small hill. Then, a horse whinnied from somewhere not far ahead of them. Two of their own horses answered it.
“Go!”, shouted Applegate, and the militiamen spread out and rode, charging up the hill. One rider did not duck when he should have. A pine branch swept him off his horse. He landed on his back with a “thud”, rolled, and lay still, gasping for breath.
They were over the hill. Less than fifty yards in front of them the band of pine robbers fired a ragged volley at the attacking militiamen, then they ran for their own horses. A musket ball broke the neck of a charging militiaman’s horse. The horse went down, throwing its rider over it’s head. The man hit the dirt, rolled over a bush, and sprang to his feet. He took aim and fired. The ball hit a man in the back as he was mounting a horse. The man fell backward and lay still. Another musket ball from the tories passed through the right shoulder of a militiaman. He somersaulted backward off his running horse and crashed into an oak tree. He crumpled to the ground and lay still. Sergeant Applegate charged his horse into one that a refugee was trying to mount. He hit the man on his shoulder with the butt of his musket, and the man fell screaming to the ground, his clavicle broken. The woodsman, Clark, slammed a tory with his fusil, hitting him on his back and knocked him off his horse before he could start away.
The young militiaman that Samuel was riding double with shouted; “Look! There’s one.” The man was bent over, one hand grasping his chest as he staggered through some tall huckleberry bushes, and disappeared from sight. Sam and his companion quickly rode to where they had last seen the man. They dismounted and just as Sam was about to rush through the bushes, he was stopped by the youthful militiaman.
“Use caution. He’s probably armed. Lets spread out a little and go in together.” They moved a few yards apart and then pushed their way through the bushes. Moving carefully, but quickly, fully alert, their muskets at the ready, they closed in on the hobbling tory. “Halt! You can’t get away from us.”
The man stopped and turned toward them. The front of his shirt was soaked in blood. He held a pistol in his right hand and began to raise it. “Stop or we’ll shoot you”, yelled Samuel. The man lowered the handgun, then he dropped to his knees and fell forward onto his face.

“One got away. He went into the swamp”, Clark was telling Sergeant Applegate.
“No one saw him run. Maybe he was already out of the camp when we came up”, Applegate said. “Well we have three prisoners for the gallows, one of them with a broken collar bone, and another so full of swan shot that he might not live long enough to get to trial. Two dead including the one that the Gillespie’s killed last night.”
“And one got away.”
“Yes, and one got away. It will be in my report.”
Samuel came up, leading two chestnut mares, “Sergeant, these are my father’s horses.”
“Fine looking pair of animals. Glad you got them back. We will be taking these men and the other horses back to Tom’s River by way of your family’s place. Stay with us and we’ll see that you get those horses safely back home.”


Know what you believe in. Fight for your beliefs. Never compromise away your rights.
Posts: 942 | Location: Cherokee Land, Tenasi | Registered: 06 January 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Thank you! Good yarn.

Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
Posts: 1618 | Location: Oreegun Territory | Registered: 24 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Walkingeagle
posted Hide Post
Enjoyed the tale, as always.
Posts: 304 | Location: Alberta, Canada | Registered: 15 January 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
  Powered by Social Strata  

2014 Historical Enterprises, LLC