American Spy: Enoch Crosby Part 4
About the American Spy Enoch Crosby and his places in United States history after James Fenimore Cooper published the book The Spy.
ENOCH CROSBY (1750-1835). American spy.
Enoch Crosby was born in Harwich, Mass. His family moved to a farm in Carmel, N.Y., and his father's poverty forced him to leave home to learn a trade. When he departed, with a haversack of clothes, Bible, and a few shillings, his mother wept, but soon he was established as an apprentice cordwainer, and then a shoemaker, in Danbury, Conn. In 1775, he heard the news of the battle of Lexington. He was a lean, muscular 6-footer of 25 years, and anxious to avenge the depredations committed by the Redcoats.
He enlisted in the Continental Army. From New York, with 3,000 other rebels, he was sent on foot and by boat to Lake Champlain in Canada. To the tune of "Yankee Doodle Dandy," he helped in the siege of Fort St. Johns and in the taking of Montreal. Much of the campaign was fought in bitter winter weather, and after several forays Crosby returned to his headquarters ill and underweight. His superior told him he looked more "like a scarecrow than a soldier fit for duty." Crosby replied, with some spirit, that "if I was not able to fight, I might at least frighten the enemy, as he thought I looked like a scarecrow." When his enlistment period expired, shortly after, he made his way back to Danbury to resume the less exacting profession of shoemaker again.
This interlude did not last long. The Declaration of Independence was signed. Crosby chafed for action. In the autumn of 1776, he took up his old musket and headed toward the American lines. Then occurred the accidental meeting that changed the course of his life. "It was towards the close of a warm day," wrote H. L. Barnum, "that he reached a wild and romantic ravine, in the country of Westchester. Here he fell in with a gentleman, who appeared to be traveling in the same direction, and with whom he soon entered into familiar conversation. Among other questions, the stranger inquired, if Crosby was going 'down below?'--to which he readily answered in the affirmative. The interrogator appeared pleased with this reply, and let fall some expressions which plainly indicated that he had 'mistaken his man,' supposing Crosby to be a Loyalist, on his way to join the British army." Crosby kept up his pretense of being pro-British, and was invited to the Tory gentleman's house. There he met many persons who, while pretending to be loyal to the American Revolution, were actually working for England. At the 1st opportunity, Crosby hurried off to the home of a man named Young whom he knew to be a supporter of the Colonial cause. Crosby spilled out his story, and was escorted by his contact to White Plains.
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