| American History Stories, Volume II|
|by Mara L. Pratt|
|Tales of Revolutionary times, including the causes of the American Revolution, the daring exploits of those defending liberty, the early battles, the struggles of the army, and the heroes who led the colonists to victory. Ages 8-12 |
 AMONG the "last things" of the Revolution that the
colonists loved to tell, were these two stories of Provost
Cunningham of the British troops.
In Murray Street, New York city, stood a little tavern
called "Day's Tavern." Day had raised above his building
the new American flag.
Cunningham, hardly yet ready to surrender his command,
seeing this flag, marched up to the tavern door.
"Come, you cur!" he shouted to Mr. Day. "I give you
two minutes to haul down that rag. I'll have no such
striped rag as that flying in the face of his Majesty's
"There it is, and there it shall stay!" said Day, quietly
Cunningham turned to his guard.
"Arrest that man!" he ordered. "And as for this thing
here, I'll haul it down myself!" and seizing the halyards,
he began to lower the flag.
The crowd broke into fierce murmurs, uncertain what
to do. But in the midst of the tumult, the door of the
tavern flew open, and forth sallied Mrs. Day, armed with
her trusty broom.
"Hands off that flag, you villain, and drop my husband!"
 she cried; and before the astonished Cunningham could
realize the situation, the broom came down thwack!
thwack! upon his powdered wig.
How the powder flew from the stiff white wig, and how,
amidst jeers and laughter, the defeated provost-marshal
withdrew from the unequal conquest, and fled before the
sweep of Mrs. Day's all-conquering broom!
A BRITISH GRENADIER
Another incident is told of the same day. Sir Guy
Carleton, commander-in-chief of all his Majesty's forces in
the colonies, stood at the foot of the flagstaff on the northern
bastion of Fort George.
Before him filed the departing troops of his king. As
the commander-in-chief passed down to the boats, to the
strains of martial music, the red cross of St. George,
England's royal flag, came fluttering down from its high
staff on the northern bastion and the last of the rear guard
wheeled toward the ship.
But Cunningham, the provost-marshal, still angered by
the scene at Day's tavern, declared roundly that no rebel
flag should go up that staff in sight of King George's men.
"Come, lively now, you blue-jackets!" he shouted, turning
to some of the sailors from the fleet. "Unreef the
halyards, quick! Slush down the pole, knock off the
stepping cleats. Then let them run their flag up if they
His orders were quickly obeyed, and the marshal left
 the city. In a few minutes, Colonel Jackson, halting before
the flag-staff, ordered up the stars and stripes.
"The halyards are cut, colonel," reported the
color-sergeant. "The cleats are gone and the pole is slashed."
"A mean trick indeed!" exclaimed the indignant colonel.
"Who will climb the staff and reef the
halyards for the stars and stripes!"
"I want no money for the job," said a
young sailor lad, as he tried it manfully
once, twice, thrice, each time slipping
down covered with slush and shame. "If
ye'll but saw me up some cleats, I'll run
that flag to the top, in spite of all the
Tories from 'Sopus to Sandy Hook."
Tying the halyards round his waist,
and filling his jacket pockets with cleats
and nails, he worked his way up the
flag-pole, nailing as he went.
And now he reached the top, now
the halyards are reefed, and as the
beautiful flag goes up the staff, a mighty
cheer is heard, and a round of thirteen
guns salutes the stars and stripes and
the brave soldier lad who did the gallant deed.
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