During the Revolution, Israel Israel, a true whig and a worthy farmer, residing on the banks of the Delaware, near Wilmington, was, for a short time, a prisoner on board the frigate Roebuck, directly opposite his own house and land. While thus situated, it was reported by some loyalists by whose treachery he had been betrayed into the hands of the enemy, that he had said repeatedly that “he would sooner drive his cattle as a present to George Washington, than receive thousands of dollars in British gold for them.” The commander hearing the report, to be revenged on the rebel, sent a small detachment of soldiers to drive his cattle, which were in plain sight of the frigate, down to the Delaware, and have them slaughtered before their owner’s eyes. Mrs. Israel, who was young and sprightly, and brave as a Spartan, seeing the movements of the soldiers as she stood in her doorway, and divining their purpose as they marched towards the meadow where the cattle were grazing, called a boy about eight years old, and started off in a great haste, to defeat, if possible, their marauding project. They threatened and she defied, till at last they fired at her. The cattle, more terrified than she, scattered over the fields; and as the balls flew thicker she called on the little boy “Joe” the louder and more earnestly to help, determined that the assailants should not have one of the cattle. They did not. She drove them all into the barn-yard, when the soldiers, out of respect to her courage, or for some other cause, ceased their molestations and returned to the frigate.
From Noble Deeds of American Women: with Biographical Sketches of Some of the More Prominent by Lydia Howard Sigourney, 1851.