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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


266 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. No. CVII. GENERAL BUTTONS, AN AMERICAN OFFICER. OF this hero of the “War of Independence,” nothing farther is known than the fact that such a person did actually serve in the American army. “ The drawing,” says Kay, in his MS., “ from which this Print is taken, was done by Colonel Campbell, while confined in prison in America, after the treaty of Saratoga. Through a small hole-the only aperture for light in his dungeon-the Colonel had frequent opportunities of seeing General Buttons ; and, notwithstanding the gloomy nature of his situation, he could not resist the impulse of taking a sketch of such a remarkable military figure.” This sketch he sent home for the amusement of his friends, by whom it was communicated to the artist, for the purpose of more extended circulation. Whether this excellent counterpart of the “ Knight of the Rueful Countenance” be a faithful representation of “ Provincial General Buttons,” or heightened in its unique grotesque appearancs by the fancy of the caricaturist, is a matter of no great moment. The circumstances under which it was pencilledthe state of political feeling in this country at the period-and the penchant which even yet exists for enjoying a little wit at the expense of brother Jonathan, were sufficient to stamp a value on the production, independent of its own intrinsic claims to merit. Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell was taken prisoner by the Americans in 1716. It appears that, unapprised of the evacuation of Boston by the British troops, he had attempted, in compliance with his orders, to make a landing at that port. His small force consisted of two transports, the George and Annabella, with two companies of the 71st Regiment. On reaching the mouth of the harbour, they were attacked by four American privateers, which, with very unequal means, they repulsed ; and, under the fire of an American battery, bore right into the harbour, where, one of the vessels running aground, Colonel Campbell was under the necessity of coming to anchor with the other. Here he soon discovered the perilous nature of the situation in which he was placed. The four schooners with whom he had formerly been engaged, being joined by an armed brig, immediately surrounded him, took their stations within two hundred yards, and hailed him t’o strike the British flag. “Although,” says Captain Campbell, “ the mate of our ship, and every .sailor on board, the Captain only excepted, refused positively to fight any longer, there was not an officer, non-commissioned officer, nor private man of the 71st, but what stood to their quarters, with a ready and cheerful obedience. On our refusing to strike the British flag, the action was renewed with a good deal of warmth on both sides ; and it was our
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