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The United Empire Loyalist Settlement at Long Point, Lake Erie
Chapter XLVII. Gilbert

Josiah Gilbert, of New Jersey, was a corporal in the King’s American Regiment. In company with a man named Pearlie he acted as a spy in the War of the Revolution. After peace was concluded he came under the penalties of the same acts passed by the legislature of New Jersey, as have been detailed in Chapter V., and his escape from his native state was almost as dramatic as that of Abraham Smith.

Late in October, 1783, a body of troops came to his house seeking him, and Gilbert had barely time to leap on his horse and get well away. But he had not gone far when the shouts of his pursuers, also mounted, fell on his ear. The race for freedom was an exciting one, but Gilbert managed to maintain his lead. His pursuers hoped to catch him at the river Alleghany, never thinking that he would venture to cross it. But the brave man, throwing himself from his horse, rolled a small cedar log into the water, and with his left arm round it for support, attempted to steer himself with the other to the opposite shore.

By the time the Americans reached the river, he was nearly two hundred yards from the bank he had left, although it was only with extreme difficulty that he was making his way slowly across. Forthwith, the sergeant commanded his men to open fire upon the swimmer, and the unremitting sharp-shooting was kept up as long as Gilbert was within range. The arm which encircled the log was shot in the fleshy part, but by good fortune the bone was not splintered, and he was enabled to still cling to his support. The log itself received many balls, but by keeping it between himself and the enemy his head was protected until he was out of range, and the disappointed troopers had to return gloomily home.

The corporal made his way to New Brunswick, where he remained till 1799. In that year he came to the Long Point country settling in the township of Woodhouse. In the war of 1812 he was appointed captain of a local body of volunteers, and again nobly proved his loyalty to Britain.

Some of his descendants live at the present time near Springford in North Norwich, and some in Dereham. A grandson, John Gilbert, aged eighty-nine, is yet living in Dereham, and also the eldest sister of John Gilbert, a Mrs. Mahoney, at the ripe old age of ninety-two. One of the sons of John Gilbert is called Josiah, after his noted ancestor.

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